LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
March 21, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Delano has long symbolized South Beach cool. Sitting directly on the ocean, the urban resort is a trend-setting icon. It all started with that fabulous Indoor/Outdoor Lobby. Then Lenny Kravitz opened the Florida Room, the "modern-day piano lounge inspired by a classic period of South Floridian glamour." And now Morgans Hotel Group has just announced the expansion of the rooftop spa, Agua. With the renovation by Tim Andreas of BANJO Architects, the spa was expanded to 3,500 square feet and includes a 500 square foot solarium with tropical landscaping. The private terrace-- decked out in pristine white-- has infinite 360 degree views of the ocean. Custom-designed white terrazzo floors are complemented by a mosaic of hand-cut Brazilian glass tiles-- all in white. And white glass chandeliers from Murano are suspended above. There are 8 private treatment rooms, and cabana-inspired lounges for relaxing before and after the spa treatments. Try the signature Milk and Honey Treatment, which uses a blend of honey and organic sesame oil, or go for the medical-grade oxygen facial. New on the treatment menu: special facials and skin treatments designed just for men.
March 21, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
The Villa Aminta on Lake Maggiore in Italy is excited to announce the opening of their Palazzo Aminta Beauty and Spa, opening in May 2008. Under the direction of Professor Nicola Sorrentino, the Spa offers the ultimate in personal pampering. Enjoy a variety of treatments from massages to facials to a range of rejuvenating skin treatments that uses a range of natural ingredients designed to help you feel your very best. The facility also offers a full cardio fitness center and heated pool open year round.
Don't forget, Five Star Alliance guests staying at the Villa Aminta will receive a bottle of wine in the room upon arrival.
By: Madelyn Giblin
Hanoi's most storied hotel, the French Colonial-style Sofitel Metropole, has welcomed ambassadors, heads-of-state and, yes, Graham Greene since its opening in 1901. There's an unmistakable air of romance to the place: ceiling fans and large wooden shutters and lush plants and lovely white linens and... (we could go on and on) Step off the sultry, steamy city streets (buzzing with motorbikes) and you'll slip into an oasis of calm. Both French cuisine and Hanoi Specialties await at the hotel's fine restaurants. After exploring the vibrant city, retire to a chamber that radiates historical grandeur with all the modern comforts like Internet, LCD TVs and DVD players.
Australia's third largest island is a paradise of spectacular natural attractions, home to an abundance of native wildlife such as New Zealand fur seals, koalas, kangaroos, Australian sea lions, ospreys, echidnas and much more. Perched on top of a secluded cliff on this rugged coast, the Southern Ocean Lodge offers an eco-friendly luxury travel experience against a peerless natural backdrop. With incredible views of the pristine wilderness of "Australia's Galapagos," the Southern Ocean Lodge is a sophisticated sanctuary like no other. Distinguished by a contemporary environmental design and commitment to locally-sourced food and beverages, the lodge has a nifty clifftop spa that uses the acclaimed Australian-made Li'Tya range of spa products. Gaze out over the Southern Ocean while chowing down on fresh seafood and tasting some of the best wines of South Australia. Retire to your luxe suite-- there are only 21 of them at the lodge-- and continue to gape at the views from your dramatic glass-walled bathroom and outdoor terrace with daybed. You'll appreciate the signature design elements: sandblasted limestone floors, recycled spotted gum feature walls, contemporary bespoke furnishings and artwork commissioned from local Kangaroo Island artisans.
March 20, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin
In anticipation of the release of the "Sex and the City" Movie, the extravagant Mandarin Oriental New York announces a corresponding Sex and the City Celebration Package starting April 15th. Guests who book under the package can stay in one of the hotels exquisitely decorated guestrooms or suites, some of which have a view of Central Park. At the hotel guests receive a complimentary Sex and the City Trivia game, and are treated to two Sex and the City themed drinks at the hotel's super chic Lobby Lounge.
Practically become Carrie on the Sex and the City tour around New York, visiting various filming spots from the show including the brownstone used for Carrie's apartment, and enjoy listening to stories from guides with behind the scenes secrets from the show. The tour features a stop at the famous Henri Bendel department store, where guests are given a complimentary $200 gift card, and specialty gift from designer Cosabella. Finally the trip also includes a stop at Carrie favorite the Jimmy Choo store. Mandarin Oriental New York package room rates start at $2000 per night.
By: Madelyn Giblin
The start of ski season (Dec. 2007) brought the opening of superstar chef Wolfgang Puck's Spago restaurant in the Colorado mountains at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch. From its Beverly Hills roots, Spago has become a nation-wide phenomenon with locations in Vegas, Maui, and Beaver Creek. As to be expected, the Ritz-Carlton's Spago created quite the buzz. Housed in a sleek renovated space (designed by Tony Chi), the restaurant still manages to embrace the "rustic luxury" and "pioneering spirit of the American West" for which the resort is famous. You'll find "seasonal American cuisine with Asian Influences and Rocky Mountain sensibilities." Starters include spicy tuna tartare in sesame-miso tuile cones, and hand-made autumn pumpkin and mascarpone agnolotti. Scrumptious main dishes include Chinois style Colorado lamb chops, grilled Japanese Kobe New York Steak, and the pan-roasted buffalo filet. The gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is a year-round resort destination, offering the very best activities in Colorado's vast surrounding wilderness, so you can check out the restaurant in any season.
The fairytale city of Bruges, with its medieval buildings, cobbled alleys, and winding canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We're big fans of this charming "Venice of the North"-- not far from the European capital of Brussels. Coming in April 2008: the deluxe Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace. When the hotel opens its doors in a prime location in the historic city center, it will be the first 5-star hotel in Bruges. The building itself is astonishing: the former Prinsenhof from the 15th century, built on the occasion of the wedding between Philip the Good and Isabelle of Portugal. The restored palace offers 93 luxury rooms and suites with many original features and unique historic touches, all outfitted with the latest technology. Noteworthy: the Prinsenhof Suite features a terrace built into the tower for a romantic rooftop view, and the historic-listed Marie Bourgougne Suite houses a collection of 15th century paintings. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, boutique spa with hammam and sauna, fully-equipped fitness room, and gourmet restaurant.
March 19, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Prior to the Hotel Gritti Palace, Mr. Marco Novella was most recently at the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome. Before that, he worked at the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo and the Four Seasons Hotel Milano. He took some time to answer a few of our questions about Venice, the hotel, and what visitors should know.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?
Marco Novella: After a 4 year experience including being involved in the re-opening of the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome.
Five Star Alliance: What best describes the personality of the Hotel Gritti Palace?
Marco Novella: A residential Palace with a true Venetian feeling to it.
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel?
Marco Novella: The history of its 16th century building and its fine art collection. The hotel’s superb location on the Grand Canal and its beautiful views from the hotel terrace.
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?
Marco Novella: During the opening week of the last three editions of Venice’s Biennale of Art exhibition, Christie's has invited its most important guests to our hotel ballroom for a preview of its most prestigious auction of the year. Hotel Gritti Palace's terrace is the most sought after place to be, to see and be seen both during this prestigious event and during the Venice Film Festival in September.
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?
Marco Novella: Our guests’ favorite rooms are those with the incomparable views of the Grand Canal and the S.M della Salute Church.
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?
Marco Novella: From the time it was built, the Gritti Palace has been the residence of Doge Andrea Gritti’s family, and of many noble Venetian families and prominent authorities.
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?
Marco Novella: That the hotel fully reflects the atmosphere of the city which I am visiting and that the size of the hotel would make me feel more like I am a guest in a private home (or Palace) rather than in a hotel.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Marco Novella: Our guests come from all over the world, in particulare from Europe, USA, Middle East, India and China.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace faces onto the waters of the Grand Canal, with breathtaking views to S.M. della Salute Church. It is in a very peaceful corner of Venice, with some of the best shopping in the city just a few steps away. Walking in the area is interesting because of the many historical attractions, the numerous museums, and the beautiful views of the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge. It is a very safe area.
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?
Marco Novella: I am very satisfied with the associates of Hotel Gritti Palace and its guests are among the best I have encountered in my professional life.
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?
Marco Novella: The St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome is special because of its history and of its present state. It was created by the legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz. Today, after its refurbishment completed in 2000, it offers an extremely high level of service and an excellent sense of hospitality.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?
Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace is the most sought after hotel for art collectors during the Biennale. Its terrace is the best place in Venice for enjoying a tasteful Venetian meal or a cocktail. It is an excellent place for socializing and encountering interesting people.
Hands down the finest hotel in Santiago, San Cristobal Tower is arguably one of the best hideaways in South America. A member of Starwood's Luxury Collection, San Cristobal Tower is situated just minutes away from the Providencia business district. Guest rooms are outfitted with carved mahogany chairs, elegant drapes and gold-rimmed mirrors, and boast spectacular views of the snow-capped Andes. If you book one of the two Terrace Suites, named after the great Literature Nobel Prize winners from Chile, "Gabriela Mistral" and "Pablo Neruda," you'll enjoy the views from spacious terraces. San Cristobal Tower is offering an exclusive getaway with a car rental included so that you can create your own tour of the world-famous Chilean wineries, beaches at Viña del Mar, and Andes mountains. Priced from $289 per night (3-night minimum required), the package includes complimentary buffet breakfast, a bottle of Chilean wine in-room upon arrival, free admission to Neptuno Spa Pool and Fitness Center, late check-out at 4 p.m, and parking for your rental car!
Now showing at the glass-roofed Grand Palais in Paris: the Marie Antoinette exhibition. The public's obsession with the big-spender of a Queen continues to this day, and Sofia Coppola's film did a fine job dreaming up the Queen's world in all its excessive finery. Running through June 30, 2008, the exhibition showcases 300 works from all over Europe to illuminate the personality and destiny of Marie-Antoinette. While visiting the City of Light, book a stay at the city's exceptional address at the Place de la Concorde in the very heart of Paris. The world-famous Hotel de Crillon, the palace hotel that was designated a unique historical monument, is as good as it gets. Choose the Marie Antoinette offer and you'll enjoy breakfast served in the comfort of your own room or at the fine dining restaurant, 2 tickets for the exhibition, daily international newspaper, access to the fitness center, and free wireless internet. Starting from EUR 670 in a Superior Room. Available until June 16, 2008.
P.S. A meal at the Crillon's Michelin-starred Les Ambassadeurs is not to be missed.