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.
Imagine… landing on the beach, not at any Heli port, enjoying beach check-in with champagne and cold towel service, and heading straight to your suite, bypassing the lobby. The hottest new boutique hotel in the Caribbean, the Sivory Punta Cana, is offering a free helicopter transfer with a 3-night stay, until December 15, 2006 (book by October 15, 2006). Located on the soft white sand of the eastern top of the Dominican Republic, the 55-room Sivory Punta Cana has nothing but suites: each Balinese-style room opens onto its own private garden, with ocean views. Choose from three different restaurants, inside or out, by the pool, on your own private terrace, or next to the beach. Indulge in a luxurious treatment at the Aquarea Wellness and Spa, relax by the gorgeous infinity-edge pool, or play tennis, scuba dive, mountain bike. This could be heaven. (Free helicopter transfer is based upon the following conditions: 3 night minimum stay, purchase of Sivory Meal Plan, available from Punta Cana airport only, subject to weather conditions.)
The over-the-top-luxury at Wynn Las Vegas is never too hot to handle. (The only place on the Strip with its own 18-hole championship golf course also boasts vibrant rooms, decadent facilities, 19 fine dining establishments with celebrity chefs, and amazing spa.) The hottest spot under the sun has some very enticing August rates, starting at $179 per night in a Resort Room (Sun-Thursday only; make that $259 on Friday and Saturday). If you should book a suite, for a mere $459 a night, you get private check-in, special in-room amenities, preferred reservation status, and private dining.
Named one of 2006's "Hottest New Hotels in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler, Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa is a luxurious California Rancho-style coastal retreat. Surrounded by lush gardens, the resort is just minutes from the beaches of La Jolla and Del Mar, and the attractions of San Diego. Indulge yourself with exquisite cuisine, lounge by the pool, or try your game at the nearby Torry Pines Golf Course. Decompress in the spa with the unique menu of spa services including Garden Stone Massage, Citrus Medley Body Scrub or Garden Vegetable Wrap. (The resort has excellent Day Spa Experiences.) At Mustangs and Burros Bar, enjoy a signature margarita and listen to the rumba flamenco flavor of Los Reyes Del Ritmo live every Friday and Saturday night. On Sunday mornings, experience the all-new Brunch at Adobe Restaurant, featuring freshly prepared breakfast specials, meats, cheeses and a vast array of desserts. The gracious hospitality at Estancia ensures an extraordinary summer getaway.
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 4, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May I'm a sucker for DailyCandy - well, most of the time, but with 4 or 5 daily newsletters from them in my inbox each day they are playing the percentages. But this time they really caught my attention, yet again. The July 22, 2006 DailyCandy Travel issue was entitled "Travel: Where Sleeping Dogs Lie" and led off with - "Vacation beckons, but you can’t stand the thought of leaving your best friend behind. Good thing hotels have gone to the dogs". You can find the article here at DailyCandy.com, but I have listed the highlights below: - The Woof for Wellness package at San Francisco's hip Hotel Palomar includes a deluxe room, a bucket of Spa Dog botanicals, a leopard-print doggie bed, and a donation to the SPCA. - The Madison Hotel, in Washington, D.C. (now managed by Loews Hotels), stocks the minibar with gourmet dog treats. - Sofitel Chicago Water Tower makes arrangements for a day at the doggie spa and an in-room fashion show of the latest canine couture. - Starwood Hotels (which includes W Hotels, Sheraton, Le Meridien, and Westin) love pets so much their dog beds mirror the hotels' designs. DailyCandy's favorite touches: Room service at the Westin features German Shepherd Pie, Shih-Tzu Sushi, and Scooby Stew; a licensed pet massage therapist does in-room rubdowns at the five W hotels in NYC. - But no one spoils dogs like Loews (see The Madison above). Coronado Bay Resort offers dog-centric surfing lessons followed by a surf 'n' turf dinner. Outward Hound at Loews Denver Hotel includes a two-hour guided hike with a personal trainer, fresh-baked treats, limo service, and digital pix. (Doggie daycare, group playtime, supervised swims, and Reiki also available.) And Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Nashville has a package for hounds to hit the studio for a professional recording session. Accompanied by a voice coach, they’ll howl along with a musician or bark to a karaoke beat. The price of fame: $1,599 a night. Check Out DailyCandy Here.
The savvy gadget gurus at Fortune have come up with a sweet list of 12 travel gadgets for the road. The pictured portable DVD player (Philips PET320) weighs one pound, costs $130, and has a built-in 3.5 inch LCD display screen. Other cool finds include the Voltaic solar-power backpack, which has three solar panels to charge the batteries in cellphones, cameras, and other small devices, and the RaySat StealthRay two-way satellite antenna, that delivers two-way broadband Internet and live TV to a moving vehicle (the price tag is a bit hefty; try $36,000)
For those in the know, the Hotel Valley Ho is the place to be in Arizona's vibrant city of Scottsdale. The original hide-away for Bogart, Bing and Marilyn has been made-over into a hip urban resort, and reopened to much fanfare in December 2005. (The classic mid-century design of the exterior belies the chic contemporary feel of the guest rooms, which feature all-glass walls opening onto private patios, flat-screen TVs, WiFi, terrazzo tile bathrooms, and feather-top beds with 300-thread-count linens.) The hotel's Cafe ZuZu is known for its contemporary American comfort food, handcrafted cocktails, and cool setting with soda fountain, classic counter, and courtyard dining.
Starting in September, the restaurant will launch its Monday Night Chef's Table, where each Monday is transformed into a gourmet extravaganza, featuring one supplier, regional American Cuisine, one particular ingredient, and a vineyard or a grape varietal. The diner, from 6:30-8 pm ($42 per person) will consist of three courses paired with appropriate beverages. Examples include the Tomato Fest on September 4 (the menu includes stewed tomatoes and dumplings, pan roasted wild striped bass with Abe Lincoln tomatoes and bacon, and warm cherry tomato and mango crumble for dessert), Alaskan Halibut on September 11, Sweet Corn on September 18, and Pinot Please on September 25.
It seems fair Boston is becoming inundated with new luxury hotels. The latest addition is the Westin Boston Waterfront, which is celebrating its grand opening with complimentary breakfast and rates from $239 a night until August 31, 2006. Like all Westins, this one is gung ho about its Heavenly brand beds and baths in each of the 793 guest rooms and suites. (And the WestinWORKOUT Powered by Reebok.) Located in south Boston, about three miles from Logan International, the new Westin is connected to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. In addition to the Convention Center's 516,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Westin offers 32,000 square feet of meeting space including a Grand Ballroom.
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.