The fairytale city of Bruges, with its medieval buildings, cobbled alleys, and winding canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We're big fans of this charming "Venice of the North"-- not far from the European capital of Brussels. Coming in April 2008: the deluxe Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace. When the hotel opens its doors in a prime location in the historic city center, it will be the first 5-star hotel in Bruges. The building itself is astonishing: the former Prinsenhof from the 15th century, built on the occasion of the wedding between Philip the Good and Isabelle of Portugal. The restored palace offers 93 luxury rooms and suites with many original features and unique historic touches, all outfitted with the latest technology. Noteworthy: the Prinsenhof Suite features a terrace built into the tower for a romantic rooftop view, and the historic-listed Marie Bourgougne Suite houses a collection of 15th century paintings. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, boutique spa with hammam and sauna, fully-equipped fitness room, and gourmet restaurant.
March 19, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Prior to the Hotel Gritti Palace, Mr. Marco Novella was most recently at the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome. Before that, he worked at the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo and the Four Seasons Hotel Milano. He took some time to answer a few of our questions about Venice, the hotel, and what visitors should know.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?
Marco Novella: After a 4 year experience including being involved in the re-opening of the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome.
Five Star Alliance: What best describes the personality of the Hotel Gritti Palace?
Marco Novella: A residential Palace with a true Venetian feeling to it.
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel?
Marco Novella: The history of its 16th century building and its fine art collection. The hotel’s superb location on the Grand Canal and its beautiful views from the hotel terrace.
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?
Marco Novella: During the opening week of the last three editions of Venice’s Biennale of Art exhibition, Christie's has invited its most important guests to our hotel ballroom for a preview of its most prestigious auction of the year. Hotel Gritti Palace's terrace is the most sought after place to be, to see and be seen both during this prestigious event and during the Venice Film Festival in September.
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?
Marco Novella: Our guests’ favorite rooms are those with the incomparable views of the Grand Canal and the S.M della Salute Church.
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?
Marco Novella: From the time it was built, the Gritti Palace has been the residence of Doge Andrea Gritti’s family, and of many noble Venetian families and prominent authorities.
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?
Marco Novella: That the hotel fully reflects the atmosphere of the city which I am visiting and that the size of the hotel would make me feel more like I am a guest in a private home (or Palace) rather than in a hotel.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Marco Novella: Our guests come from all over the world, in particulare from Europe, USA, Middle East, India and China.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace faces onto the waters of the Grand Canal, with breathtaking views to S.M. della Salute Church. It is in a very peaceful corner of Venice, with some of the best shopping in the city just a few steps away. Walking in the area is interesting because of the many historical attractions, the numerous museums, and the beautiful views of the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge. It is a very safe area.
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?
Marco Novella: I am very satisfied with the associates of Hotel Gritti Palace and its guests are among the best I have encountered in my professional life.
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?
Marco Novella: The St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome is special because of its history and of its present state. It was created by the legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz. Today, after its refurbishment completed in 2000, it offers an extremely high level of service and an excellent sense of hospitality.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?
Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace is the most sought after hotel for art collectors during the Biennale. Its terrace is the best place in Venice for enjoying a tasteful Venetian meal or a cocktail. It is an excellent place for socializing and encountering interesting people.
Now showing at the glass-roofed Grand Palais in Paris: the Marie Antoinette exhibition. The public's obsession with the big-spender of a Queen continues to this day, and Sofia Coppola's film did a fine job dreaming up the Queen's world in all its excessive finery. Running through June 30, 2008, the exhibition showcases 300 works from all over Europe to illuminate the personality and destiny of Marie-Antoinette. While visiting the City of Light, book a stay at the city's exceptional address at the Place de la Concorde in the very heart of Paris. The world-famous Hotel de Crillon, the palace hotel that was designated a unique historical monument, is as good as it gets. Choose the Marie Antoinette offer and you'll enjoy breakfast served in the comfort of your own room or at the fine dining restaurant, 2 tickets for the exhibition, daily international newspaper, access to the fitness center, and free wireless internet. Starting from EUR 670 in a Superior Room. Available until June 16, 2008.
P.S. A meal at the Crillon's Michelin-starred Les Ambassadeurs is not to be missed.
March 18, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The St. Regis Grand-- the opulent icon in Rome-- is known for its sumptuous interiors. And now guests can choose to stay in the seductive Bottega Veneta suite, designed by Tomas Maier and unveiled in October 2007. Appointed with a mix of furnishings from the Bottega Veneta home collection and traditional pieces, the suite is even perfumed with a signature room fragrance. The expansive space is comprised of a foyer, three bedrooms (two with separate sitting areas), three baths, and a living room with a fireplace. Guests can expect the legendary service for which the hotel is renowned; 24-hour butler service is the norm for all guest rooms.
March 17, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
Only a few steps away from the Champs-Elysees, the Faubourg Saint Honore shopping area and all major museums, the Hôtel de Crillon is the place to stay in Paris. Five Star Alliance clients making a reservation at the Hôtel de Crillon will receive a brand new, exclusive amenity. The Hotel de Crillon is now serving the "Five Star Cocktail" - and Five Star Alliance guests will get the opportunity to enjoy one per person, per stay, in the Crillon Bar. The voucher will be provided at the time of check-in.
Five Star Alliance Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker mix:
1 cl of Jasmin syrup
2 cl of Mirabelle spirit
3 cl of Peach juice
As a final touch, add Champagne rosé
Garnish with 1 redcurrant strand, 1 blackberry
By: Courtney W. May
March 17, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
So maybe you missed today's big St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, but you can still get your groove on in Ireland's capital this spring. The famous shops and pubs of Grafton Street (and the Temple Bar experience) await! The place to stay is the beautiful Westin, located on its own city block in downtown Dublin. Formerly the Allied Irish Bank, the historic building-turned-luxury hotel sports an enviable address within walking distance of all major attractions. The 163 rooms and suites are equipped with every contemporary convenience, including the signature Heavenly Bed. Plus, the Westin will throw in free tix to the Guinness Storehouse, the top visitor site in Ireland, with a special package starting from EUR 259 per room, per night. Accommodation includes a full Irish Breakfast for two. Added perk: Each evening, the hotel hosts an "Unwind program," a Westin ritual to help guests rejuvenate and taste food, drink, and an ambiance unique to each destination. In Dublin, the "Unwind program" is a hosted whiskey tasting from a renowned Irish distiller.
March 14, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Summer Lodge-- the 5-star haven surrounded by the idyllic English countryside of Dorset (Thomas Hardy Country)-- was recently awarded the Andrew Harper Grand Award for its individuality and devotion to personal service. Long appreciated as a truly enchanting hotel in the picture-postcard village of Evershot, the country house hotel is distinguished for its genuine hospitality. The Summer Lodge will always go the extra mile to create an unforgettable experience for its guests. There are a number of country pursuits on offer-- everything from horseback riding to croquet-- and the spa and swimming pool with its glass ceiling are universally adored. Spring is the perfect time for a getaway to the Summer Lodge, when the flowers are bursting into color in the exquisitely-manicured gardens. There is still limited availability for the fabulous Easter Package, running from March 21-24, 2008. The package includes traditional cream tea for two, dinner for two, one Swedish massage per person, Easter Egg turndown, full English breakfast, and a bottle of Champagne.
Madrid's world-famous Prado Museum completed an incredible $208 million expansion project in 2007, incorporating various nearby buildings into the Prado in the creation of a Museo del Prado Campus. The old Cloister of the Jerónimos was restored and connected to the Prado, creating new exhibition space. Check out the newly-expanded Prado Museum while staying at Madrid's legendary luxury hotel situated just across the street from the museum. Since its opening in 1910 under the personal supervision of Cesar Ritz, the sumptuously-decorated Hotel Ritz has been a favorite of kings, heads of state, and film stars. The Hotel Ritz is offering the "Cultural Experience in Madrid" package just in time for the major Goya Show. Available from now until December 23, 2008, the two-night package for two persons starts at about $1,317 in low season and $1,476 in high season and includes:
*Two nights accommodation in a classic room
*Entrance to the Prado, Thyssen Bornemisza and Reina Sofía Museums
*One three-course dinner, excluding beverages, in the Goya Restaurant
*Daily buffet breakfast with Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) at the Goya Restaurant
*One bottle of Cava in your room
*Afternoon tea in the Lounge
*Roundtrip airport transfers in a private chauffeured car
*Complimentary Art Guide to the Prado
*Welcome amenities in room upon arrival
*Free access to the Wellness Center
Private guided visits to the Prado after hours and chauffeured tours of the city can be arranged by the hotel for additional charges.
Hurry! Tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of a sweet deal with the luxury airline Eos. Experience firsthand what everyone's talking about: spacious suites with lie-flat beds (6' 6" long), personalized service, lavish meals, helicopter service from JFK to Manhattan... When you purchase a round-trip ticket between London Stansted and New York's Kennedy airport at the regular price, you'll get a free companion ticket. Book no later than March 14, 2008 to qualify for the promotion. Tickets must be purchased at least 14 days in advance of travel, and you may fly between March 18, 2008 and January 7, 2009.
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.