August 8, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Jonathan Critchard is the General Manager of the five-star deluxe Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in London. He has held the position since 1993 and has over 21 years experience heading some of the most prestigious hotels and residences in the United Kingdom and worldwide. He has left his professional imprint on Blakes Hotel, The Hempel, The Dorchester and 3A Palace Green (the world's most luxurious apartment complex located in Kensington Palace Gardens in London); Amberley Castle in West Sussex and The Regent in Hong Kong.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?
Mr. Critchard: By good fortune
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?
Mr. Critchard: We are family owned and have a warm, friendly and intimate persona.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Mr. Critchard: Our market is predominantly from the USA. We have a repeat guest factor of 45% which is split between corporate and leisure business.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Mr. Critchard: The best thing about our location is that it is incredibly central and situated right opposite Green Park. My favorite thing to do in the surrounding area is to enjoy the open spaces of London’s parks.
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?
Mr. Critchard: Unfortunately not, we are renowned for our discretion in the entertainment industry.
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?
Mr. Critchard: All our apartments are individual and unique, offering both contemporary and traditional styles of decor. 30% of our hotel rooms have stunning views overlooking Green Park.
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?
Mr. Critchard: AA Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh used to live in our apartments. During the war Winston Churchill spent a lot of time in the Down Street underground station, opposite the side of the hotel, and rumor has it, that we kept him supplied with his favorite drink of Pol Roger.
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?
Mr. Critchard: What is their service ethic, how warm is the welcome, and I focus on the quest for both comfort and service.
Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager?
Mr. Critchard: To juggle a myriad of priorities and key issues to help determine what is best for the business, people and guest.
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?
Mr. Critchard: The Peninsula in Hong Kong which is the epitome of quality service. Gravetye Manor in Sussex which is a classic country house hotel in stunning surroundings, which offers a wonderful old world charm, hospitality and service.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?
Mr. Critchard: We have recently completed a major refurbishment of our ground floor public areas and dining facilities. This is part of an ongoing project desire to maintain our property to a high standard.
More info on the Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments.
August 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Located in the heart of the Scotland's capital overlooking Edinburgh Castle, Rocco Forte's Balmoral is a charming and historic luxury hotel. A fixture on the CNT Gold List for its superb spa, chic rooms and traditional Scottish hospitality, the hotel also boasts a Michelin star rated restaurant and delightful Afternoon Tea. The hotel only recently completed the refurbishment of its Drawing Room, featuring distinctive touches from Designer Olga Polizzi, who was inspired by the beautiful Scottish landscape, and included marled wools for the sofas and chairs, cushions with embossed velvet leaves, a collection of antique antlers, and paintings by contemporary Scottish artists. To celebrate this dazzling new Drawing Room, the hotel is introducing a range of innovative Afternoon Tea Concepts, including the Balmoral Tea, the Tartan Tea, and the Chocolate Dream. The Drawing Room provides the perfect setting for a world-class afternoon tea experience throughout the summer, between 2:30-6 pm. Indulge in the variety of finger sandwiches (from Scottish Smoked Salmon to Cucumber and Milled Pepper), French pastries, homemade scones and clotted cream, tea, and a glass of house Champagne.
August 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Located in the middle of the Cotes du Rhone wine-growing region, the historic city of Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. An important artistic and cultural center, Lyon traces its roots back to the ancient Romans, when Lyon was the capital of the Roman territories of Gaul in 43 BC. The cobble-stoned streets, colorful Medieval buildings, and outdoor cafes of the Old City are all protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Looming above Vieux Lyon is the hill where the Romans built an exquisite amphitheater—still used today for summer concerts—and next door, the 19th century Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. The Villa Florentine is the place to stay in Lyon, offering panoramic views of the city from its perch above the Old Town, an unrivalled setting. With its elegant facade and Renaissance art and architecture, this Relais and Chateaux property exhibits a gorgeous Florentine style. Enjoy the region's famed gastronomy and a glass of Cote du Rhone at the terrace restaurant, while gazing out over the city. Rooms are sumptuous and modern, and the outdoor pool is breathtaking.
August 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The best kept secret in Paris is the Hotel Lancaster. Tucked away in a small alley off the Champs Elysees, this luxurious hideaway is housed in a 19th century nobleman's mansion. It is an elegant and intimate place, with the feel of a private residence. The furniture in the house is part of an extensive and continuously evolving antique collection of over 1,000 pieces. And with impeccable service—the staff have truly perfected the art of hospitality—the Hotel Lancaster is still run like the private home of a connoisseur. Each of the 60 rooms, graced with traditional furniture and paintings by old masters, embody a style of Parisian chic, mixing the historical and the contemporary. The attention to detail and excellent standards have service have led the hotel to become a particular favorite with royalty and society figures. As featured recently in Forbes:
In the 1930s, Dietrich, the German screen idol, made it her home for months at a time. In the 1980s, Jagger often crashed there. Nowadays, it's the preferred Paris hostelry of Almodóvar, as well as director David Lynch, opera star Barbara Hendricks and a mix of discerning business and leisure clients, all of whom love the Lancaster's unique charm.
The Hotel Lancaster is currently offering a Special Weekend Promotion, valid for a minimum two-night stay on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The offer for a Standard room with queen bed, inclusive of continental or English Breakfast daily and a welcome amenity, is EUR 374 (excellent savings from the usual EUR 470 per night). Subject to availability.
August 1, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Alex Rose
If you want a sexy weekend away in London, book Room 101, the Four Poster Suite, at the Covent Garden Hotel. Why the Four Poster Suite, you ask? Because it has the largest four-poster bed in London which measures 8-ft x 8-ft. The Covent Garden is recognized as one of London's finest boutique hotels. It belongs to the Firmdale Group, which is owned and operated by Kit and Tim Kemp. They've created a contemporary and eye-catching English feel throughout their hotel with antiques, richly textured tapestries and rugs, and oriental art. Each of the hotel's 58 rooms is individually different and each has an intimacy which makes you feel right at home. The staff is very accommodating and fantastic, and personally knows which plays to recommend in the theatreland district (which is within walking distance of the hotel).
For dinner, make reservations at the exquisite Yauatcha, on the corner of Broadwick and Berwick Streets. For the main course, try the delicacies such as native lobster in black bean sauce, and the cakes and pastries afterward. For the evening nightcap, try the bar at the hotel. The tables are arranged discreetly so you can talk without fear of being overheard as you share a drink together. In the morning, room service is a great way to start the day because it's quick and easy so you can enjoy breakfast in bed together.
By: Guest Writer
Nestled among vineyards, olive groves, and Tuscan forest, the Villa Mangiacane is a majestic 16th century villa, overlooking the famous Duomo in Florence from its loggia. Once owned by the ancient and powerful Machiavelli family, the villa also bears the artistic influence of Michelangelo. The hotel has been completely and lovingly restored, with exquisite historical touches coexisting with luxurious modern details. The Villa boasts its own library, beautiful gardens, Renaissance frescoes, full-size infinity pool, and decadent Master Suite. Guests enjoy lavish treatments at the new spa, using homegrown ingredients such as grape seed and olive oil. Art exhibitions are frequent, featuring sponsored on-site artists and the proceeds go to African charities. Meals are divine, ranging from three to seven courses, served outdoors overlooking the Chianti countryside, or in the formal dining room. The Villa has just recently opened its Vineyard Villa wing, featuring 19 spectacular rooms. Enjoy an escape to Villa Mangiacane this summer—soaking up the Renaissance culture and art of Florence—with the Vineyard Villa Introductory Summer Rates. Classic room starts at EUR 250, based on double occupancy. Includes Continental Buffet Breakfast, and Villa Mangiacane wine and olive oil tasting. Valid until September 30, 2006.
There's Claridges: the London classic and epitome of grand English style that has been favored by celebs and illustrious families for over a century. (The 1999 designer renovation of the Victorian-Art Deco property is still talked about.) And then there's The Connaught-- located in the heart of Mayfair-- as famous for its winding majestic mahogany staircase as it is for its impeccable service. And of course there's The Berkeley, situated in the fashionable area of Belgravia, home to the Michelin star rated Petrus restaurant and hip Blue Bar. The Maybourne Group is offering an unbelievable summer deal at these three landmark London hotels, each boasting a superb location within walking distance of London's best attractions and museums. Talk about twice as nice. Reserve one room for a stay between July 22 and September 4th, 2006, and the second room is complimentary. An ideal offer for a family or two couples. Prices start from GBP 375 for two rooms, an unprecedented deal. Rates are subject to availability, and exclusive of VAT at 17.5 percent.
July 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
London's most exciting contemporary hotel—it's even got its own private screening room!—is located in the middle of all the action in Covent Garden, within walking distance of all the theaters, museums, galleries, and city sites. Leave it to the concierge and superb staff at One Aldwych to provide the scoop on what's hot in London. At the Tate Britain—a mere 15 minute walk away—there is a major exhibition of Constable and his six-foot Great Landscapes, while the Tate Modern showcases Kandinsky's Path to Abstraction. And at the Somerset House, just a one minute hop from your doorstep at One Aldwych, Oskar Kokoschka's Prometheus Triptych is on display for the first time in a decade. Fabulous theater includes Evita, The Producers, Lion King, and Antony and Cleopatra and the Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare's Globe Theater. And the splendid Royal Opera House, where Swan Lake is performed this August, is only two minutes from One Aldwych. London is simply sizzling this summer.
July 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's a new all business-class airline on the block. Joining the likes of Eos and Maxjet, Silverjet is planning new luxury service between London and Newark, NJ. The airline plans to command a fleet of ten Boeing 767's, all configured with 100 flat-bed seats. The all-business class start-up, following the model of low-cost discount airlines, will focus on superlative service, including reduced check-in times, pre-ordered films, personalized meals, and excellent arrival and departure transfer services (including helicopter, chauffeur drive, valet parking and taxi). Round-trip fares will be about $1,855. Via NYT Related Articles: "Eos: The Luxury Airline that’s like a Five-Star Hotel" "Announcing Eos and Maxjet Airlines: New Luxury Airlines for the Business Traveler"
July 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Ahh, Capri. Favorite haunt of hedonists, undercover movie stars, and loony Roman Emperor Tiberius, who used to indulge in wild orgies (and was also know to hurl virgin maidens and boys to their deaths over the cliffs). It's little wonder why so many visitors flock to the island. Home of the famous Blue Grotto, and fantastic Roman ruins including Tiberius's many villas, Capri juts up from the deep blue waters of the Bay of Naples overlooking Italy's scenic Amalfi Coast. The landscape is simply gorgeous, and the cuisine is divine. The place to stay? The Hotel Caesar Augustus commands a magnificent view, perched on the clifftop in Anacapri 1,000 feet above the sea, at the very pinnacle of the island. The hotel boasts the most extraordinary vistas to be found on all of Capri, and its infinity swimming pool seems to overflow into the sea of Capri below. For a stay fit for the emperor, book the Suite Cesare; the beautiful light-filled space has superb panoramic views from its private terrace and bathroom jacuzzi. In Spring and September (an ideal time to visit with its plentiful sun-kissed days without the crowds), the hotel offers the Best of Capri Package which includes three nights accommodation in Deluxe room with sea view and buffet breakfast, romantic dinner for two at the restaurant "La Terrazza di Lucullo," tour of the island in a convertible taxi or by private boat, and transfer from/to the port of Capri on arrival and departure. Starting from EUR 1,500. (Quite the steal. Normally you'd pay over $2,000 just for the three-night stay, without the additional amenities.)