March 11, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Where else but the happening Lobby Bar at One Aldwych, "London's most exciting contemporary luxury hotel" (Harpers Bazaar), could one find heavenly cocktails like these?
Blackberry and Lavender Martini: Lavender infused Wyborowa vodka with fresh blackberries, blackberry purée, lemon juice and a dash of sugar syrup
Thai Martini: Spicy mixture of ginger infused Stolichnaya vodka, fresh coriander, lemongrass, lime leaf, Angostura bitters and sweetened with a dash of ginger syrup
Heralded as one of the top hotel bars in the world, The Lobby Bar is a gorgeous double-height space appointed with original contemporary sculptures and vast flower arrangements (pictured) set high on Perspex plinths. Hot since the day it opened, the glamorous Lobby Bar has an extensive range of champagnes, wines and beers, not to mention 63 original cocktails made with the freshest of ingredients. Bar nibbles (sushi, duck spring rolls) are stellar. Smack dab in the middle of London in Covent Garden, One Aldwych offers some fine people-watching at oh-so-cool The Lobby Bar.
March 10, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Imagine: a getaway to your very own castle in Ireland. The Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, set amid 840 acres of formal gardens and rolling parkland in the picturesque village of Adare in County Limerick, is an award-winning five-star vacation destination. The setting is breathtaking, and the Adare Manor comes complete with an 18 hole championship golf course, luxurious Spa, world-class dining facilities, fishing, shopping, sightseeing and a host of other estate activities. Straight out of the Old World, this castle hotel is rich in history, an architectural masterpiece of towers, turrets and stonework ornamentation. Located just 40 minutes from Shannon International Airport, Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort offers 63 bedrooms, 11 exclusive Clubhouse bedrooms, and 25 Townhouses which comprise 2/4 ensuite bedrooms, living room, dining room, fully-equipped kitchen and utility room.
For a limited time, take advantage of a fabulous spring offer starting from just EUR 140 per person. The "Spring in Adare" package includes one night's luxurious accommodation plus a candle-lit dinner for two in the 18th-century Oakroom Restaurant. Available until April 29, 2008 (with black-out dates from April 21-26).
March 7, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Luxury seekers looking for an unparalleled experience in the Greek Isles will swoon over Mystique. Built on Oia's famous cliffs overlooking the dazzling blue Aegean sea and volcano, Mystique is a member of Starwood's Luxury Collection. The resort offers 18 stylish rooms and villas handcrafted from wood, local stone, and glass. Relax in a sun bed by the outdoor infinity-edge pool surrounded by some of the world's most beautiful scenery. Take off on mountain bikes to explore Oia at your own pace, then enjoy a massage in the privacy of your own suite. Sip a sunset cocktail or Secret wine cave, then sup at the Charisma gourmet restaurant-- the best kind of al fresco dining experience with panoramic views over the sea. Mystique is located only 18 kilometers from Santorini airport and 20 kilometers from Athinios Port.
March 7, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
After extensive renovations, Les Trois Rois has opened once again, maintaining its long-standing reputation as one of the finest luxury hotels in Europe. Located along the Rhine, the hotel offers exceptional views of the river and surrounding countryside from its rooms, and from the restaurant and bar. The renovations have given Les Trois Rois a more modern look while still retaining its age-old splendor. While each guest room is fully equipped with modern luxuries such as heating air conditioning, television, radios, all individually controlled by a touch panel, as well as high speed wireless Internet.
Yet the historic icons of the hotel, including the facade, the figures of the Three Kings, the Salle Belle Epoque ballroom, atrium and main staircase, and the Napoleon Suite, remain intact, preserving the rich history of the Basel area. Les Trois Rois continues to be a member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels, a collection of the finest five-star hotels in Switzerland. With the grandeur of the guest rooms, the gourmet food offered at the restaurant and the spectacular views from the hotel grounds, it is no wonder Les Trois Rois continues to be one of the finest hotels in Europe.
March 6, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
For lovers of classical music and Italian culture, the Carlton Hotel Baglioni Milan, recently named the "Hotel of La Scala Theatre", is the place to stay. From January through October 2008, Carlton Hotel Baglioni is offering an amazing package that allows guests to enjoy a private, guided experience of the world renowned theater and the Filarmonica Orchestra, as well as the many luxuries the hotel has to offer. With reservations under the package, guests are picked up in a private limousine at the airport and whisked away to the Hotel, where they will find their room supplied with fresh juices and sweets, and an in-room breakfast during each morning of the minimum two day stay. On the second day, guests are taken by private limousine to the Theater, at which awaits a private guided tour of the legendary Theater and a chance to sit in on a private rehearsal by the Filarmonica Orchestra. After this, guests are then taken to view Da Vinci's "Last Supper" and treated to a two hour spa treatment at the luxurious Guerlain Spa. Guests may also enjoy a three course lunch or dinner at the Hotel's fantastic "Il Baretto al Baglioni" restaurant during their stay. Aside from the many attractions included in the package, Milan offers plenty of other activities, including shopping and sight- seeing. And should you desire to extend your stay an extra night, the Hotel is pleased to provide you with free tickets to attend the official performance at the Teatro alla Scala in the Hotel's private balcony. Rates begin at €3,700.00. Remaining Concert Schedule below- after the jump: March 9th Director: Valery Gergiev Music: Igor Stravinskij, Sergej Rachmaninov March 16th Director: Riccardo Chailly Music: I. Stravinskij, G. Rossini March 30th Director: Myung-Whun Chung Music: L. van Beethoven, P. Cajkovskij April 27th Director: Semyon Bychkov Music: D. Glanert, D. Sostakovi May 11th Director: Gustavo Dudamel Music: L. Bernstein, G. Mahler May 25th Director: Daniel Harding Music: A. Berg, S. Sciarrino, L. van Beethoven October 19th Director: Philippe Jordan Music: R. Strauss, G. Mahler, R. Strauss
March 4, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
'Tis the season. We've seen a slew of exciting packages for Easter, and now's the time to take advantage of these special rates for a spring getaway. As the proverb goes: no matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. And what could be a better way to defrost than with an indulgent stay at one of Europe's finest urban hotels? At the Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona's exclusive urban resort, you can abandon yourself with tantalizing spa treatments, incredible views from the swimming pool, and a unique gastronomic experience. The "Easter Escape" package is truly a pleasure for the senses. Priced at EUR 660, the package includes two nights accommodations, buffet breakfast in the restaurant for two, a complimentary Easter amenity, one half-hour massage per person, and complimentary access to Zen Zone Spa.
Or steal away for a city break in London at the Egerton House, the elegant, privately-owned hotel bang in the middle of Knightsbridge, or The Milestone, the No. 1 rated hotel in London according to Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, with stunning views over Kensington Gardens. Book the "Easter Extravaganza" at The Egerton House, valid until March 31, 2008, and you'll get a chilled bottle of Champagne, fresh fruit platter, and luxury basket of Easter Eggs upon arrival; complimentary British and international newspaper delivered each morning; a hearty, full English breakfast with freshly-baked Hot Cross Buns every day, and an Egerton Afternoon Tea for two with an Easter treat. Priced from GBP 265 per night. At The Milestone, escape for an "Easter Weekend" (available from March 21-30, 2008 only), and enjoy the best available rate (GBP 265 per night). Plus, if you stay three nights, you'll get a Milestone Chocolate Afternoon tea for two. Stay three nights in a Suite, and you'll receive a hand-decorated, personalized Easter Egg for each guest.
Or head to the Eternal City for a luxurious stay at the historic St. Regis Grand Hotel, Rome, with its hand-painted frescoes and butler service. Experience the celebrated traditions and timeless splendor of Easter Sunday in Rome. You'll enjoy Easter Sunday lunch for two at the famed Vivendo Restaurant (listed as one of Europe's finest in the Zagat survey), a rich display of chocolates, daily buffet breakfast for two, and Double Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Reserve by March 23 for stays through March 21-25, 2008. Two nights minimum required. From EUR 475 per room per night.
February 29, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
For a fully enlightening and personal experience in Rome, enjoy the Villa Spalletti Trivelli's "Relaxation and Culture Discovering Rome" package. This special offers a three-night stay in one of the Villa Spalletti Trivelli's luxurious Deluxe Double Rooms complete with a welcome gift, fruit and cheese gift awaiting you in your room upon arrival and daily newspaper. The package also includes a three-hour guided personalized tour of Rome designed to your interests in a chauffeur-driven car throughout the city.
In addition, guests are treated to a one-hour personal spa treatment of their choice, and are provided with two admission tickets into a museum in Rome, as well as the "Tea for Two" in the Sala de Camino. The Villa Spalletti Trivelli also offers full complimentary access to Hammam/Engery Bar, Turkish Baths, Tepidarium, and Gym and Relax Room. Enjoy this personal comprehensive experience of the Eternal City, rates start at € 2.800,00.
February 28, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
During the month of March, the award-winning Chester Grosvenor is offering a special dinner/bed and breakfast package with Five Star Alliance that represents excellent value. Priced at GBP 229, the package includes an overnight stay in a Classic Room, 3-course a la carte dinner for two in La Brasserie restaurant, bottle of wine with dinner, breakfast and VAT. Considering the published rate on a Classic Room is GBP 229, this dinner-included package is a fabulous deal. Dating back to 1865, The Chester Grosvenor is owned by the family of the Duke of Westminster. Surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the historic city of Chester in northwest England, the hotel was one of a handful of hotels to be awarded five AA Red Stars.
February 27, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Soak up the exotic atmosphere of Istanbul at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Now accepting reservations from July 1, 2008, the new Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus promises an alluring mix of old and new-- just like the vibrant city itself. On the European bank of the fabled Bosphorus Strait, a 19th century Ottoman Palace got a facelift and now houses the 166-room luxury hotel. Facilities are chic, fresh: a beautiful 22,605-square-foot urban spa, state-of-the-art fitness room, fine restaurants and pools at the water's edge. Guest rooms are bright and spacious, appointed with both Ottoman and contemporary furnishings and art. Almost a quarter of the rooms offer views across the Strait to the hills of Asia. Beyond the hotel, discover the treasures of the only city in the world to exist on two continents.
February 26, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Castello del Nero is a 12th century castle outside Florence, restructured and opened as a 5 star deluxe hotel in June 2006. Andrea Luri is the General Manager.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the Castello del Nero?
Andrea Luri: Following previous experiences as General Manager of 5 star properties in Italy and abroad, I took on this assignment with much enthusiasm and passion as I believed in the value of this project as well as finding in our President and CEO a person of integrity and broad vision and who made the opening of the hotel possible.
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?
Andrea Luri: The historic atmosphere and location combined with modern features and comforts. The estate of Castello del Nero collects the essence of Tuscan heritage in the unique location with views on the rolling hills as far as eyes can see. The hotel was brilliantly restored conserving the features of the XII century castle it is, such as frescoes and vault ceilings as well as adding services such as tennis courts, swimming pool, gym with state of the art equipment and most of all a 100 sqm spa with 10 treatment rooms. What really does set Castello del Nero apart, however, is our staff. A team completely devoted in creating an unforgettable experience for all our Guests.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Andrea Luri: A high percentage of our guests come from U.S and Canada, which are followed closely by UK and Italy and other European countries.
Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?
Andrea Luri: The Italian law on privacy doesn’t allow me to actually share the names, however our Guests include famous movie stars, film directors, Italian and American politicians, pop stars and fashion designers. Many of whom come back to enjoy the privacy of the estate allowing them to relax in a safe and cocooned environment.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Andrea Luri: The location in the countryside assures relaxing peace and incredible views on every side which change constantly with the light and time of day. At the same time we are at short distance from all major cities of interest in Tuscany such as Siena, San Gimignano and Florence which our Guests can easily reach through a complimentary shuttle bus. Guests can also enjoy a hot air balloon ride which we actually operate on property. Being blessed with a fantastic location which is Tuscany, the wine and gastronomy sector offers unparalleled experiences such as wine tastings in Chianti wineries or even Tuscan cooking classes held by our chef on property which start with picking vegetables in our organically grown vegetable patch and follow by cooking along the chef's side in our kitchens.
Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?
Andrea Luri: I would say that all frescoed suites and our Galway suite are simply incredible, thanks to the fact that you aren’t simply sleeping in a hotel room, but Guests actually undergo the experience of living in a castle like a king or queen surrounded by frescoes which date back centuries ago, or having a private dinner on a 100 sqm private terrace overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The historical charm which these rooms exude is magnificently combined with state of the art in room entertainment and high speed connectivity. Regarding our double rooms, they are all different and it is difficult to actually pin point one as I would be narrowing down to a single choice a multitude of experiences that the different rooms can offer. They are all large and comfortable and unique in layout or furnishing or view or simply in character.
Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?
Andrea Luri: Of course, being a private noble residence since the XII century, close to the road that connects Florence to Rome, you can imagine that great men such as Michelangelo or Leonardo could pass by Castello del Nero . The last private owner was the noble Torrigiani family. One of the descendents, Carlo Torrigiani in the early 1900’s married a red cross nurse from Philadelphia, Anna Frey. This American lady was so affectionate with Castello del Nero that she requested her burial to be in the castle’s chapel where she rests ever since. Since the hotel opened we have had special events such as Sir James Galway perform with his golden flute and also the famous Jazz Saxophonist Scott Hamilton Quartet. Also one of the weddings which took place last season had reserved the hotel exclusively with a grand gala and fireworks – truly something that you will remember for ever.
Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?
Andrea Luri: A guest would certainly appreciate to know that we have a courtesy shuttle to/from the center of Florence at scheduled times, this avoids having to worry about driving and parking in the city and makes visiting much more pleasant. For all other excursions our Front Office is at disposal for organizing all sorts of activities. At the hotel you have access to the state of the art gym, two tennis courts, the swimmingpool in the summer season. Our ESPA at Castello del Nero welcomes you in the relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the many holistic spa treatments.
Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?
Andrea Luri: I have the same difficulty as most people do today: lack of time! Though, whatever happens, my first priority is taking the time to meet every Guest and get to know them. This job is incredible as it actually gives you the possibility of enjoying the company of extremely interesting people. If I had to change something about Castello del Nero it would probably be converting it from a hotel into my own home!
Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?
Andrea Luri: Villa d'Este is certainly at the top of my list. I was fortunate enough to start my career there and believe it to be THE great hotel. It has history, location beauty and an atmosphere of absolute magic. Another wonderful hotel is the Amansara in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A stunning property with wonderful service in a beautiful country. In my top three I also have to include the Faena hotel and Universe in Buenos Aires - staying there is a fascinating experience.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property
Andrea Luri: We are now restructuring the various Villas which are located on the same estate as the hotel which will certainly turn out to be a great addendum to the property as they will also have access to the facilities of the hotel, other than having their own private pool and gardens.
Pictured From Left to Right: Restaurant Manager Giuliano Piscina, Spa Reception Maria Fanfani, Sales & PR Nathalie Beaugonin, Sales & PR Christina Ruettimann, General Manager Andrea Luri, Housekeeping Manager Sabrina Tonelli, Front Office Manager Alessio Nuzzi.