LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
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.
Billed as the premier resort destination on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the new Port Ghalib development, just 2.5 hours from the Valley of the Kings, is home to Sun International's 5-star citadel of indulgence. The Palace at Port Ghalib has made quite the stir since its debut last November 2007. Surrounded by fountains, terraced gardens and a kilometer-long swimming lagoon (the second largest saltwater lagoon ever made!), The Palace is truly spectacular. Each of the 309 premier rooms has butler service and a private balcony and terrace overlooking the Red Sea. For the ultimate indulgence, the 13 Royal Suites pamper guests with spa-like bathrooms and elegant surroundings (intricate architectural details and luxurious furnishings). In addition to the Palace, there are two other hotels on-site at Port Ghalib: the Sahara Sun Oasis and the Sahara Sun Sands. From here, try your hand at any number of activities-- from scuba diving and fishing to jeep treks and camel rides.
Checking out the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. this year? Why not bunk down at the prestigious Hay-Adams? After all, it's "as close as you can get to staying at the White House without a personal invitation from the President." Commemorating the 96th anniversary of Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, the 2008 National Cherry Blossom will kick off on March 29 and run through April 13. The parade will be on Saturday, April 12. The distinguished Hay-Adams hotel will celebrate the festival with a special offer. The Cherry Blossom Package includes luxurious accommodations, Continental Breakfast for two, overnight parking, a secret special amenity and a Cherry Blossom Festival Information Packet. Package rates are from $429 to $799 per night, based on availability. Two night minimum stay. Promotion valid from March 28th through April 13th.
The St. Regis Grand-- the opulent icon in Rome-- is known for its sumptuous interiors. And now guests can choose to stay in the seductive Bottega Veneta suite, designed by Tomas Maier and unveiled in October 2007. Appointed with a mix of furnishings from the Bottega Veneta home collection and traditional pieces, the suite is even perfumed with a signature room fragrance. The expansive space is comprised of a foyer, three bedrooms (two with separate sitting areas), three baths, and a living room with a fireplace. Guests can expect the legendary service for which the hotel is renowned; 24-hour butler service is the norm for all guest rooms.
March 17, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
Only a few steps away from the Champs-Elysees, the Faubourg Saint Honore shopping area and all major museums, the Hôtel de Crillon is the place to stay in Paris. Five Star Alliance clients making a reservation at the Hôtel de Crillon will receive a brand new, exclusive amenity. The Hotel de Crillon is now serving the "Five Star Cocktail" - and Five Star Alliance guests will get the opportunity to enjoy one per person, per stay, in the Crillon Bar. The voucher will be provided at the time of check-in.
Five Star Alliance Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker mix:
1 cl of Jasmin syrup
2 cl of Mirabelle spirit
3 cl of Peach juice
As a final touch, add Champagne rosé
Garnish with 1 redcurrant strand, 1 blackberry
By: Courtney W. May
The ultimate chill-out spot can be found not far from Bali's cultural capital of Ubud at a luxury resort like no other. Ubud Hanging Gardens, like its name suggests, clings to the steep slopes over the Ayung River gorge and offers sweeping views. Perched over the rice terraces, this gravity-defying hotel has 38 luxury villas surrounded by verdant gardens. Conceived by the landscape architect William Warren together with John Pettigrew, the gardens are spectacular; exotic trees and flowers include cocoa, coffee, durian, bamboo, flame trees and orchids. Each Balinese-style villa has its own private terrace and heated infinity plunge pool. Ubud Hanging Gardens features massages and yoga classes at the Ayung spa, excellent food-with-a-view at the restaurants, and a gorgeous pool with a unique design emphasizing the natural curves of the hillside. The real star of the show? The resort's own private funicular (pictured), built into the hillside, which carries guests from one level of the resort to another.
Until April 30, 2008, take advantage of an exciting special offer at Ubud Hanging Gardens. When you stay for 5 nights, you'll only pay for 4 of them! Book any villa or suite and stay for a minimum of five consecutive nights.
P.S. Ubud Hanging Gardens is the ideal honeymoon escape, and the resort can tailor your activities, excursions, fine dining, etc. to fit your individual needs.
Location, location, location. The InterContinental has a killer Westside address on the Avenue of the Stars just minutes from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, 20th Century Fox Studios, MGM Tower and upscale shopping at Westfield Century City-- while still only 20 minutes from the beach. Other reasons to love the InterContinental? There's an outdoor heated swimming pool with sundeck and whirlpool, health club, jogging paths, and Spa InterContinental-- an ultra-urban spa oasis featuring zen-inspired private villas with flat-screen TVs and meditation gardens. Newly renovated guest rooms boast private terraces and state-of-the-art amenities. Dining options include the indoor/outdoor Garden Café and the hotel's fine Park Grill restaurant. With the new Fashionista Package at the InterContinental Century City, LA Wardrobe Stylist Aly Scott accompanies guests on a two-and-a-half-hour shopping spree to unique boutique stores in Beverly Hills.