LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
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.
February 26, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now's your chance to enjoy unbelievable rates at the legendary California resort, featuring 90 holes of some of the country's best golf, including the Stadium Golf Course at PGA WEST. For select dates, La Quinta Resort & Club, The Waldorf=Astoria Collection, has rates starting at just $95 a night. And golf's not the only thing on offer. The Spanish-style resort has 23 tennis courts, 41 pools, 53 hot spas, and 7 restaurants. See below for a full list of hot dates:
Apr 3 - Apr 6, 2008 Starting from $275
Apr 13 - Apr 18, 2008 Starting from $195
May 15 - May 18, 2008 Starting from $185
Jun 1 - Jun 6, 2008 Starting from $125
Jun 8 - Jun 13, 2008 Starting from $115
Jul 10 - Jul 13, 2008 Starting from $105
Aug 11 - Aug 15, 2008 Starting from $95
Oct 5 - Oct 10, 2008 Starting from $175
Oct 16 - Oct 19, 2008 Starting from $205
Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2008 Starting from $190
Dec 1 - Dec 4, 2008 Starting from $165
Jan 4 - Jan 9, 2009 Starting from $155
Located on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne, the Hôtel Plaza Athénée is world-famous, a Paris landmark of individuality, prestige and comfort. Entirely redecorated, the Plaza Athénée has preserved its classical French style while adding an innovative touch. Chef Alain Ducasse oversees the entire dining operations of the Plaza Athénée and has also his own award-winning restaurant inside the hotel. For Easter-- from March 22-26, 2008-- the Hotel Plaza Athénée will offer its guests an elegant, horse-drawn carriage for those who wish to discover Paris in a different, more relaxed manner. Guests will enjoy a 30-minute complimentary tour and will be able to admire the famous Champs-Elysées, the avenue Montaigne and the Place de la Concorde. The itinerary can be modified upon request and the driver will be pleased to steer either Pride or Lucky, one of his magnificent horses, in that direction. Guests can stay snug and warm under cozy blankets and steaming hot chocolate will be provided for younger guests. Reservations can be made with the concierge.
Escape to one of the premier luxury hotels in Scotland and "spring ahead" with some serious r 'n r. Steeped in history, the magnificent Mar Hall has 53 individually-designed rooms and suites with breathtaking views of the Kilpatrick Hills. And Mar Hall boasts an Aveda Concept Spa, the only one of its kind in the UK, with 11 treatment rooms including a Rasul mud chamber, couples' room, and area devoted to heat and water experiences. With the Spring Awakening package, you can renew your body and mind with a stimulating and nurturing spa experience. Your treatment begins with a foot bath and personal wellbeing consultation, followed by a dry body exfoliation. Then awaken your senses with the essences of an Aveda Rosemary & Peppermint total body lotion application. While you are cocooned in a wrap of fluffy towels and a heat preserving blanket, experience a relaxing scalp and foot massage. Finish your Spring Awakening with a pure focus facial. Your Spring Awakening experience includes a Soup & Sandwich Lunch served in the Spa, use of the facilities and the use of a bathrobe and "take-home" slippers. Total treatment time 1 hour and 30 minutes, priced at GBP110 Monday to Friday and GBP130 Saturday and Sunday. Valid from March 1- May 31, 2008.
February 25, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
Culturally rich with a multitude of local activities as well as impressive services and amenities, the Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation or business stay. Shangri-La Chiang Mai offers an outdoor pool, luxurious rooms decorated with local artifacts and rich fabrics, high speed internet, an outstanding restaurant and close proximity to both the International Airport and the town of Chiang Mai with its many theatres and museums. The surrounding country of jungles and mountains offer additional activities such as jogging and hiking.
The Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai also offers the exclusive Horizon Club. Occupying the top three floors of the hotels, the Horizon Club includes larger rooms with breath taking views of the surrounding country, an exclusive Club Lounge for check-in and check-out that also serves a complimentary buffet breakfast each morning. Guests staying in the Horizon Club rooms also have access to a free suit-pressing and shoe shine service, private meeting rooms, a variety of newspapers, magazines and board games, and each room is provided with fresh exotic fruits and international newspaper each morning. All of these luxuries help to make your stay more enjoyable and stress-free.
By: Madelyn Giblin
February 25, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
The perfect way to unwind after a day of sightseeing in San Francisco is to spend an evening in one of the Hotel Vitale's rooftop tubs, tucked away in an urban bamboo garden. Guests can step into a tub filled with aromatic elixirs made exclusively for the hotel by SumBody. You will then be treated to an herbal beverage to sip while relaxing under the stars. A 25 minute experience starts at 60 USD.
Located on the revitalized Embarcadero Waterfront and the Financial District of San Francisco, Hotel Vitale is convenient to those traveling to San Francisco for business or pleasure.
This summer, think Sardinia. The second largest island in the Mediterranean boasts beautiful, unspoiled coastlines and some of the best scenery in all of Italy. The new L'Ea Bianca resort, meaning literally "white water," sprawls over a gentle hillside overlooking the turquoise and emerald sea. Opposite the islands of the La Maddalena archipelago, the resort is framed by a lovely beach and groves of green juniper trees. There are only 31 bedrooms at the resort, meaning the ultimate privacy for guests. Each offers a spacious balcony, elegant furnishings, and bathrooms with both showers and whirlpool tubs. Lounge on the beach, where attendants will provide sun umbrellas and sun beds, or by the lovely pool. Not far from the Porto Cervo harbor (which houses some of the Med's most elegant yachts), L'Ea Bianca is located on one of the most prestigious areas of Sardinia's Emerald coast. Note: The spa will open this year, an excellent addition to the health and beauty center.
Set sail on the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean and discover some of the most stunning scenery on the planet: remote islands of talcum powder beaches and lush tropical forests, and underwater life equally as beautiful. The 47-foot twin-hulled catamaran Banyan Tree Lagoon I will take to the seas of the Seychelles starting in March 2008. Staffed by a personal host and skipper and stocked with all the luxurious amenities one expects of Banyan Tree, the ship will accommodate six guests for overnight cruises from the resort. Wood-paneled bedrooms are spacious, and the air-conditioned main salon provides panoramic views.
This April promises a real treat for wine lovers in Napa. Meadowood-- the premier wine country estate surrounded by 250 acres of croquet lawns, tennis courts, and hiking trails-- has put together a one-night seasonal offering to delight passionate oenophiles. Enjoy luxurious lodgings with a fireplace, a welcome glass of wine fireside in The Restaurant Bar with Restaurant Sommelier Rom Toulon, and dinner for two in The Restaurant at Meadowood featuring the Rare & Collectible Wine Lovers' Menu created by Michelin Two-Star Chef Christopher Kostow & Rom Toulon. Here's the menu (get ready to salivate):
At the Bar
Jonata, "La Flor de Jonata", Santa Ynez Valley - 2006
Black River Osetra Caviar
Le Reve, Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, Napa - 2001
Cold Smoked Kampachi
Rhubarb, Beet, Spring Onion
Kongsgaard, "The Judge", Napa Valley - 2005
Clam, Chorizo, Lemon Verbena
Marcassin, "Blue Slide Ridge Vineyard", Russian River Valley - 2003
Roasted Sonoma Lamb
Date Carpaccio, Cinnamon, Arugula
Harlan Estate, Oakville - 2003
From the Garden
Château D'Yquem, Sauternes, France - 1995
Beginning at $1,540 per couple. Reservations are available Monday through Saturday nights in April.
Steal away to Savannah, where the city's oldest hotel, The Marshall House, just completed a sparkling $1.5 million renovation. Named one of Cosmopolian Magazine's "25 Secret Sexy Places" (2007), The Marshall House has been pampering guests with southern hospitality since 1851. The original staircases, mouldings, and doors are intact, but now the guest rooms boast pillow-top mattresses, flat-screen TVs, all new custom-made furniture, draperies and rugs, and Wifi. Take advantage of the special rate with the Renovation Celebration package, and you'll find rooms for a steal- just $149 per night. But hurry, this package is only available until the end of February 2008.