LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
It's back-- and better than ever. The Ici Urban Bistro re-opens today at the capital's Sofitel Lafayette Square. Housed in an updated historic building dating from 1880, the contemporary hotel boasts one of the most exclusive DC locations overlooking the White House. Chef Philippe Piel welcomes you to his casually-elegant restaurant, offering a contemporary twist on traditional French bistro cuisine. The menu's all about French comfort food using the best local ingredients. (Daily Candy drools over the "ever-awesome Cajun pommes frites.")
February 1, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
In October 2007, River Inn of Harbor Town opened its doors, offering Memphis visitors an entirely new lodging experience. Situated close to the Mighty Mississippi River in Downtown's Harbor Town neighborhood, the River Inn is a small boutique hotel where the history of the Old South meets the charm of classic Europe.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the River Inn at Harbor Town?
Karl W. Friedrich: Having managed luxury hotels in Europe, Caribbean and Pawleys Island, South Carolina for the past 35 years, the owners and the President of the River Inn Management Company thought I was the perfect fit for this unique and beautiful Boutique Hotel.
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn at Harbor Town's architecture is influenced by European small luxury hotel concept with a touch of New Orleans look, the coziness and warm feeling of the lobby, small libraries on each floor, bedrooms/suites which open and one can sit in front and admire the great view of the Mississippi River. The Currents Fine Dining Restaurant with an elegant but warm decor and superb epicurean food served by a most accommodating and attentive Staff. In addition one can choose to go to TUGS, a bistro style casual restaurant with great food and draft beer.
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: We are new, nor do we tell!
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: Room 306 is one of our superior corner rooms with a typical New Orleans wrought iron balcony rail and double window, overlooking the Mississippi.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel is located 5 minutes from down town Memphis with all its attraction; Beal Street, FedEx Forum, Auto Zone Ball Park, River Park Museum, St. Jude Hospital, The Trolley Area, and the famous Rendezvous BBQ Restaurant. The Inn is across the road from the River Park with 3 miles of trail to walk or jog along the Mississippi river.
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel features hardwood floors brought in from a West Virginia Textile Mill dating back to 1850, also two of the fire place mantel pieces have been obtained in New Orleans and are antique from the 1850's.
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: That it is a true boutique hotel with the personalized service and atmosphere one expects at a small luxury Inn.
Five Star Alliance: What is your definition of luxury?
Karl W. Friedrich: Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort. Something desirable but expensive, something very pleasant but not really needed in life.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Karl W. Friedrich: Our patrons are either visitors for pleasure and sightseeing from around the world and the USA. We also cater to corporate guest and small executive retreats.
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: I would add a spa (this is already in the planning stage) to enhance the service and pleasure of our patrons.
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?
Karl W. Friedrich: The Fearrington House in Pittsboro, NC – Great atmosphere and well managed. The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Austin, TX – Great Hotel and also well managed. Twin Farms, VT – a wonderful place to get away and get spoiled.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?
Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn is a place you will remember for making you feel welcome and the superb service, delicious food and well appointed rooms/suites with luxury amenities.
More Information About Karl Friedrich:
Karl brings to River Inn more than 30 years of experience in the management of full service hotels. Most recently, he was general manager of Litchfield Plantation, a small luxury hotel in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. During Karl’s eight years at Litchfield, he established a European sales and marketing strategy, which created a diverse mix of international guests, accounting for 20 percent of the total yearly occupancy.
Karl is the former president of International Hospitality Management, Inc., a management and consulting firm specializing in luxury Jamaican resorts. Additionally, he has managed Four-Star and Five-Star hotels throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Antigua, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
An Austrian, Karl holds a degree in business administration. He later attended hotel management school in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.
In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, sailing, and of course, travel. He and his wife, Belinda, a licensed professional counselor, have two grown sons.
There's nothing like Europe in the off-season, when great deals at luxury hotels abound. But the best thing about this 3 X 2 Special Offer at Barcelona's landmark Hotel Majestic-- it's actually available for select dates throughout the year. Go ahead and splurge at this sumptuous hideaway that's played host to a number of presidents and globe-trotting celebs. When you pay for two nights, you can enjoy the third for free! Available February 1- 7; March 14- 20; July 13- 31, August 1- 29; December 1- 28, 2008. The Hotel Majestic has a killer location on Paseo de Gracia, within walking distance to Las Ramblas, the Plaza de Cataluña, Gaudi monuments, and the Gothic Quarter. Behind the neoclassical façade, you'll find 303 luxurious guest rooms and suites, the Michelin-starred restaurant, and magnificent rooftop swimming pool and bar.
Smack dab in the middle of bustling Chitown you'll find a splendid boutique hotel simply oozing Old World charm. The Whitehall Hotel offers a European sense of grace and lots of generous amenities: 24-hour room service, multi-line phones with voicemail, Internet, complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby, fully-equipped fitness center and valet service. The 221 guest rooms are appointed with fine antiques, and the Presidential Suite and The Whitehall Suite boast spacious private terraces overlooking the Chicago skyline from the 18th floor. Enjoy Italian cuisine at the hotel's Fornetto Mei restaurant, or step outside and find yourself in the middle of all the Gold Coast action with a bountiful choice of restaurants and bars. Book with Five Star Alliance and you'll find rates as low as $132 per night this winter.
Hibernate in style at Keswick Hall, the magnificent estate managed by Orient Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises. Enjoy a winter sojourn in a destination that Thomas Jefferson called "Eden," just minutes from Jefferson's historic Monticello in the heart of the Virginia Piedmont. Explore the antique shops and delightful boutiques of Charlottesville, and go wine tasting in the surrounding vineyards. Return for an epic meal at the award-winning Fossett's Restaurant, where floor-to-ceiling windows showcase a magnificent vista. Curl up with a good book in front of one of the many fireplaces. When you book the "Winter Sojourn" package, you pay for two nights and get the third night for free. Rates starting from $295 per night in a Signature Room.
Heading to Boston? Now's your chance to score unbelievable deals at the city's most fashionable hotels: The Taj (the Grande Dame of Boston has the best possible address-- at the corner of Arlington and Newbury Streets overlooking the Public Garden), The Langham (the elegant national landmark housed in the former Federal Reserve Bank), the much-hyped Liberty Hotel (the notorious, historic jail recently converted into a luxury hotel), and The Charles (situated just off Harvard Square in nearby Cambridge.) The February rates couldn't be better, starting at $169 per night at The Taj, $185 at The Langham, $239 at The Charles, and $275 at The Liberty when you book with Five Star Alliance.
Warning: You will get hooked; work productivity will be threatened. After hearing about a new, highly-addictive travel widget making its rounds, we couldn't help but check it out. The Traveler IQ Challenge is an interactive geography quiz from the folks at Travel Pod. Can you make it to the last level?
January 31, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
With 70 properties worldwide, Starwood's Luxury Collection is a group of unique hotels and resorts offering exceptional service to an ultra-elite clientèle. One of those classic luxury properties is the Hotel Pulitzer. Overlooking two of the city's most picturesque canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, Hotel Pulitzer is ideally located in the middle of the old city center of Amsterdam. This unique property is comprised of 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses. Each of the 230 distinctive guest rooms represents a small piece of Dutch history and culture. And although the hotel does have the historical feel and look, it also offers all the upgraded facilities and services of today - like wifi Internet, air conditioning, and full fitness facilities.
PS - I know the above title is cheesy - I had to do it - give me a break.
January 30, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
People are frequently confused over the terms "ocean view" versus "ocean front" as found in hotel room descriptions. Most beach resorts will try to best describe the room views to make sure guests are fully informed. In the rate terms, oceanfront (Cambridge Beaches pictured at left) means that you will have the best possible ocean views from your windows and, if available, balcony. Your room will be directly facing the ocean - frontage views. Of course, ocean-front rooms are always the most expensive as well. But if your idea is to lay in bed and look out over the ocean, these are the rooms that will guarantee you that opportunity.
On the other hand oceanview rooms (Cambridge Beaches pictured) will have some possible view of the ocean - whether it is out certain window to the side, available at an angle, or seen from the side of your balcony. Ocean-view usually guarantees at least a sliver of ocean will be seen from somewhere inside, or even directly outside, your room. If seeing the ocean is really important to you - then you definitely need to reserve an ocean front room to be on the safe side and get the best possible views.
January 30, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now's the time to jet to the Cote d'Azur for the biggest event of the season: The Carnival of Nice. Think crazy, colorful costumes, parades and pageantry, floats and fireworks on the Promenade des Anglais. The two-week extravaganza runs from February 16 – March 2, 2008. The place to stay is the elegant La Perouse Hotel, where rates can be found as low as EUR 130 per night in mid-February during the Carnival. Tucked into the hillside below the chateau and just a stroll from Old Nice, this charming hotel overlooks the Mediterranean. (These views of the Baie des Anges are what inspired artists like Matisse.) Note: If you book with Five Star Alliance, you get complimentary in-room continental breakfast.