LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
July 9, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
The Woodlands Resort & Inn is one of only three lodging properties in America to be awarded the Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond awards for both lodging and dining - in large part to Marty Wall, General Manager and InnKeeper of the property. Mr. Wall took some time to answer our questions below.
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?
Marty Wall: By far the most distinctive characteristic or feature of the Inn is the attitude and desire to serve that exist within the staff. We have blended together personalities from all around the world who enjoy what they do and challenge themselves each day to provide the highest level of service in the most friendly and genuinely sincere manner. The service and facility would be best described as residential versus the typical commercial hotel environment. Our goal is that each guest feels that they have been invited to spend the night with family versus just buying a hotel room. Woodlands is essentially their home away from home.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Marty Wall: Because of our membership in Five Star Alliance, Virtuoso, Andrew Harper, and Relais & Chateaux, as well as our many national and international awards, our guests really come from all parts of the world. Also because of our very celebrated culinary team under the direction of Executive Chef Tarver King, many of our guests are here to experience what has been recognized as one of the top dining rooms in the country.
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?
Marty Wall: There have been several movies filmed in the Charleston area and as a result we have had a number of celebrities stay with us. In an effort to protect their privacy and in hopes that we see them regularly, we prefer not to mention specific names.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Marty Wall: The Inn is actually located in Summerville, SC which is a charming bedroom community to historic Charleston. The area is rich in history and has also become a very desirable dining destination. Visiting the many historic sights, eating at the many wonderful restaurants and enjoying the numerous outdoor activities provide plenty of options for guests of all ages.
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?
Marty Wall: We believe all of our rooms are special and each one offers something a little different or unique. Because the original house was constructed in 1906 a couple of the rooms in the original section offer distinctive features. The most noted being our 3rd floor suite that is often referred to as the "honeymoon suite". It offers a larger living room area, lofted bedroom, beautiful bathroom with a large Jacuzzi tub and the best feature is the spiral staircase leading to the "cupola" which overlooks the entire house and most of the grounds.
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?
Marty Wall: In that the original home was built in 1906 there is a lot of history within the walls. The original owners used the house for numerous events to entertain the country's military troops during the war. The house was also regularly used to host lavish debutant parties for many of their local friends and families.
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?
Marty Wall: If I were checking in I would definitely want to know just how outstanding the restaurant is.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of The Woodlands Resort and Inn?
Marty Wall: After spending several years in large luxury hotels, primarily in large urban environments, and after the birth of our third child, I was searching for a place that would provide balance in the business that I love and with my family which is as it should be, the most important thing in my life. I thought a smaller market and a smaller facility would be the answer. I had no idea I would find a place as special as Woodlands in a community as special as Charleston, South Carolina.
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?
Marty Wall: There is nothing hard about my job... I LOVE what I do!!!
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?
Marty Wall: It would be hard for me to choose just 2 or 3 great hotels as there are so many incredible places in the world. Every new luxury hotel being built today is trying to provide something unique or special that you can not find anywhere else. That is what keeps us all on our toes and makes if difficult to pick what is the best... it will change tomorrow.
By: Courtney W. May
Villa Principe Leopoldo and Residence: Discover One of Europe’s Last Paradises at Lake Lugano, Switzerland
July 8, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The magnificent setting on the Collina d'Oro (Golden Hill) overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Lugano has inspired many visitors, including the Nobel laureate author Hermann Hesse who lived here in Montagnola for 45 years and called it "one of Europe's last paradises." This sunny corner of Switzerland, encircled by softly rounded mountains, offers a magic backdrop for the best kind of European getaway-- and it's not far from Zurich and Milan. The place to stay is the Villa Principe Leopoldo, named in homage to Prince Leopold Von Hohenzollern, for whom the villa was built in 1926. Guests here feel like they are staying in a princely private residence high above the sparkling white city of Lugano; the luxurious suites and sumptuous drawing room are adorned with magnificent art and the service embodies the finest traditional Swiss hospitality. There is a wealth of activities and excursions available in the area- from hiking and boating, to shopping in the lakeside resort of Lugano. A member of the Relais and Chateaux Collection, the Villa Principe Leopoldo is a privileged place made for the joy of living.
Psst. If you book with Five Star Alliance, you'l receive a one-day free pass for boat cruises on the lake of Lugano to discover the region.
July 8, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
The Garden Restaurant is now open at Castello del Nero in Tuscany, Italy. Featuring a stunning terrace for outdoor breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests can enjoy views of the surrounding countryside in the heart of Tuscany outside Florence. Indoor dining features the newly reopened "La Torre" Restaurant with traditional Tuscan fireplace, and welcoming décor featuring local culinary specialties. Beginning next week the dining options will feature a twice-weekly Summer BBQ to offer guests a chance to try market fresh grilled meat and grilled fish, in addition to inviting appetizers and desserts. Guests know they can enjoy the splendor of the Tuscan countryside while still having easy access to nearby Florence. In addition Castello del Nero offers its signature ESPA Spa with 10 treatment rooms, vitality pool, relaxation areas, and special gender specific heat treatments.
Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Five Star Alliance guests at Castello del Nero will receive an in-room welcome with a bottle of water and sweet delight.
By: Madelyn Giblin