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Jul 07, 2010 Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Four Seasons Hotel Prague
Four Seasons Hotel Prague Unveils New Look in its Modern Building as Part of Four-Year Remodeling Program.
Hotel in city renowned for art and architecture continues to tell the story of design through historic and modern buildings, and fresh new décor inspired by Czech traditions.
Four Seasons Hotel Prague, an assembly of three historic buildings and one new building on the banks of the Vltava River in the Old City, is continuing to evolve the guest experience through design with the unveiling of newly decorated rooms in the Modern building. Dating from the Hotel’s opening in 2001, the Modern building represents contemporary life in the capital – refined, relaxed and stylish. Created by renowned French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, the style is as eclectic as the city. A hint of turquoise accentuates a colour palette of black, grey, white and chrome. Bohemian crystal elements, including a chandelier, reflect not only light, but the country’s long artisan traditions. Striped wallpaper and clean lines also pay homage to Czech aesthetic, while black and white photos of old Prague evoke a residential ambiance. A charming corner by the window invites curling up with a good book, or just gazing out across the Vltava to Prague Castle. Half of the Modern building’s 110 rooms have been remodeled in this new style as of July 2010, while the other half – which will reveal a second, complimentary design – are scheduled for completion by the end of the year. The Modern building, one of four choices for guests choosing a room at the Hotel, offers nine room categories for guests who prefer a more contemporary environment for their stay. Three other buildings – Baroque, Classical and Renaissance – offer more period elements in their décor. It’s all part of a four-year remodeling project for Four Seasons Hotel Prague that celebrates Czech tradition while creating a thoroughly modern place to stay, dine and meet in Prague. The Lobby and Renaissance building phases are complete, and remodel of the Baroque and Classical buildings will follow completion of the Modern building. Redesign of the Hotel’s famed Michelin-starred restaurant, Allegro, is scheduled for completion in summer 2011. Throughout the Hotel’s public areas, contemporary works by Czech artists hint at the future of the city’s continuing design evolution.
Jul 07, 2010 Dubai Media Incorporated Four Seasons Hotel Prague
When grandeur meets luxury in Eastern Europe
We review two Four Seasons hotels in Prague and Budapest. By Shweta Jain With Eastern Europe proving increasingly popular with travellers from the Middle East, we review two iconic hotels in Prague and Budapest. Both are historic properties and each has a range of amenities and facilities that cater to the region's special needs. Four Seasons Hotel Prague: It would be a rather difficult task for you to find a better hotel to stay in Prague than the Four Seasons, located on the banks of river Vltava. With an uninterrupted view of Prague Castle and only a couple of minutes walk from the Charles Bridge and a few minutes from most other city attractions, it houses the only Michelin-star rated restaurant in all Eastern Europe – and is luxury personified.
Housing luxurious and comfortable guest rooms, the design of Four Seasons Hotel Prague in the Czech capital has married three buildings, each varying in period and style, with a new structure. That is in line with the known philosophy that Four Seasons follows for its hotels – almost all of them have a strong historical background. While the older buildings are neo-Renaissance, neo-Classical and Baroque in style, there is also a modern wing, which is where I stayed. My choice, though, would have been a Renaissance room (under renovation at the time of my stay) as I am one for tall ceilings. These are ornamented with Bohemian crystal chandeliers and have royal-style furniture whose elegant appeal carries through to the marble bath with a tub for one. Beyond that, a pleasant staff at your service and sumptuous food at Michelin-starred Allegro are reasons enough to lure you into paying that little extra for an overall experience. Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest: Unmistakably the most enviable hotel location in Budapest, the Four Seasons Gresham Palace is an Art Nouveau treasure at the foot of the Hungarian capital's Chain Bridge, the oldest bridge spanning the Danube River that divides Buda and Pest. And my room had spectacular views of both. Even as the Gresham Palace oozes luxury inside with an overall stylish architecture, a casual glance would tell trick you into believing it is more of a business hotel than luxury. But that is because of the busy Roosevelt Tér area it's located in. But all these thoughts faded away in an instant once I checked in and opened the window! A 1906 gem, it began life as a "palace" built to house the Gresham Life Assurance Company of London and its officers. I couldn't fault the service, either: making sure I was basking in luxury. I even got a ready kit from the hotel's manager as I set out to experience the famous Széchenyi Baths – one of the largest bathing complexes in Europe, and the only "old" medicinal baths on the Pest side of the city. Just a dip in this natural spring is worth planning a trip to Budapest.
Jul 07, 2010 prweb.com Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Latest News from The Leading Hotels of the World
Members of luxury hospitality organization unveil refurbishments and signature suites. New York, NY (Vocus) June 29, 2010 Members of The Leading Hotels of the World unveil new looks and inaugural signature suites. Hotel Martinez in Cannes Completes EUR 5 Million Renovation Program The iconic Hotel Martinez on the Croisette in Cannes has recently completed a multi-million euro renovation program which saw the refurbishment of seven of its signature suites. Among them, the Suite Des Oliviers now sports a new, more contemporary look. Measuring 180 square meters, the suite has an additional 250 square meters of sea-facing terrace with an immense Jacuzzi. Interiors have been done in white, champagne, ivory and beige, accented by varying shades blues. With furnishings designed by Studio Hertrich-Adnet, the suite evokes the Art Deco period, while offering 21st-century technology. Six additional two-bedroom suites have also been renovated.
Hotel Eden Roc, Ascona, Switzerland, Inaugurates Marina Annex Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona, Switzerland recently unveiled its new Marina Annex, with 16 refurbished rooms and a new restaurant. Local designer Carlo Rampazzi drew his inspiration both for the design of the rooms and for the interior of the new restaurant from the architectural concept of the building itself, with a nod to the era in which it was constructed: the 1970s. Set against the backdrop of Lake Maggiore, the undisputed focal point inside the restaurant is an oversized chandelier in Murano glass with a diameter of 1.70 metres. The Langham, London Announces the Creation of a New GBP 1 Million Regent Suite Following an investment of GBP 1.1 million, The Regent Suite at The Langham, London – named after The Prince Regent (later King George IV) – offers a generous expanse of 166 square meters. Boasting two bedrooms, each with its own private sitting room, plus a private salon that can be adapted into a third sitting room or a private dining room or boardroom, the suite features the original high ceilings and large bay windows affording beautiful views down Portland Place to Regent’s Park beyond. Opened in 1865 as Europe’s first grand hotel, The Langham began the tradition of afternoon tea more than 140 years ago in its stately Palm Court. Kahala Hotel & Resort Inaugurates New Signature Suites Hawaii’s Kahala Hotel & Resort introduced a new signature suite collection including the Imperial and Presidential Suites, both featuring lanais and views from Diamond Head to Koko Head; and the Kahala Kai and Kahala Beach Suites, located on the beach, and perfect for a private family getaway. Named in honor of the recent stay of the Emperor and Empress of Japan, the Imperial suite features silk rugs, custom parquet floors and backlit golden onyx countertops. The two-bedroom Presidential Suite features furnishings from the Ralph Lauren Polo Collection, dark woods and a demure color scheme. Special touches include Nepalese pile carpet, a set of original-bound Winston Churchill volumes, and a library of photographs and books on the Hawaiian Islands. Gaja Roof at the Swissotel The Bosphorus Opens for the Season Located on the 16th floor the Swissotel The Bopshorus in Istanbul, Gaja Roof is now open daily for the summer season. With a seating capacity of 140, it serves Mediterranean cuisine under the guidance of chef James Wilkins and his team. The menu, offering choices from lobster, sea bass and salmon to duck liver terrine, risotto and sushi, is complemented by a range of cocktails and a wine list with 165 selections. A deejay provides the musical backdrop until 5:00 a.m. A Rose by Any Other Name… The Carenage Bay Resort in the Grenadines has recently reopened following a brief closure. Now operating under the name Canouan Resort at Carenage Bay – The Grenadines, this luxurious retreat is surrounded by one of the world’s largest coral reefs and set on 300 acres in a natural amphitheatre style stretching up the mountainside from the Caribbean Sea. Accommodations are in 20 luxuriously appointed pool or beachfront suites, and private villas ranging in size from two to five bedrooms. About The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. is the prestigious luxury hospitality organization representing more than 450 of the world’s finest hotels, resorts and spas, and is the operator of lhw.com, lhwspas.com and lhwgolf.com – the online sources for your luxury lifestyle. As the largest international luxury hotel brand, the firm maintains offices in 22 major markets across the globe. Since 1928, the company’s reputation for excellence derives from the exacting levels of quality it demands of its members, each of which must pass a rigorous, anonymous inspection covering hundreds of meticulous criteria spanning from product to behavioral standards. This set of standards is the most stringent in the industry.
Jul 07, 2010 Los Angeles Times Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel Paris
Leopard spots and clown prints: Givenchy gives guys a backbone
The music accompanying the runway shows this season has been noteworthy, from Annie Lennox performing at Dolce & Gabbana's 20th-anniversary show to The Talking Heads' song "Psycho Killer" playing in at least two shows (at Gianfranco Ferre and Versace). And the volume has been cranked all the way up to 11 throughout. But the Givenchy show, staged in the ornate ballroom of the InterContinental Paris Le-Grand Hotel, took things to a whole new level.
It started with monastic chanting -- which went on so long that the magazine editor across from me fired up her iPhone stopwatch app (she stopped counting just shy of four minutes) -- before amping up to the sort of bass rumbling that makes your inner ears itch. But that was hardly the most uncomfortable part of the show, a procession that included leather lucha libre-style masks (but with large, round gas-mask-type eye holes), a screen-printed T-shirt that easily could have doubled for an Insane Clown Posse tour T-shirt, and a leap of leopard prints on suits, long- and short-sleeve shirts, man skorts (would those be "morts"?), and shoes. The eye-catching accessories were chunky coral-like necklaces -- one in black, another in white -- crafted to look like the human vertebral column. Although the over-the-top theatrical pieces stole focus, there also were many delicate touches in the collection: white lace shirts with a tone-on-tone version of the leopard print pattern, and barely visible appliques on shirts that evoked the design of the circular Mayan calendar. The circle motif was also reflected in the seating at the show, arranged in two concentric circles meant to evoke the notion of a circus. Designer Ricardo Tisci was a brave ringleader indeed -- it takes backbone to stick your neck out like that, hoping your cavalcade of carnival creatures doesn't overshadow the workmanship of the collection. Apparently it took a couple of backbones, and I think I know where you can buy one next spring. -- Adam Tschorn in Paris
May 05, 2010 Caterer.com The Lanesborough London
Lanesborough Hotel butler scheme could create hotel jobs in London
New hotel jobs in London could be created as the result of a new scheme being launched by the Lanesborough. The Knightsbridge hotel will be offering the Lanesborough Butler Picnic, which provides a hamper and butler service to be served in Hyde Park.
Customers will tailor the picnic menu through a personal consultation with a butler, who will then deliver the hamper and set up the picnic. When the meal is completed, the guest can make a call and the butler will clear up everything for them. The hotel is describing the deal as the "ultimate hassle-free picnic" and some of the options include Cornish poached lobster with Beluga mayonnaise and a Cropwell bishop stilton trifle with oatmeal sable and pear marmalade. People looking for hospitality jobs in the capital could also turn to the Palm Court at the Langham. The Tea Guild recently awarded the establishment with its Top London Afternoon Tea 2010 accolade, praising its service, ambience and presentation.
May 05, 2010 The Victoria Times Colonist The Fairmont Empress, Victoria
Arts fundraiser is chef's time to shine
What: Unforgettable Charman Event Where: Fairmont Empress Hotel When: 6 p.m. May 15 Things are heating up in the Fairmont Empress Hotel kitchen, where executive chef Takashi Ito and an army of chefs, sous chefs and sushi artists are preparing an elaborate feast for 365 guests. With scallop flambé, foie gras in port, butter poached lobster tails and fine wines, Ito is planning a fundraising dinner to benefit Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria.
"We start the reception with bubbles and an elegant passing of hors d'oeuvres for an hour. Then during a one-hour concert in the conference centre we will set up a grazing dinner, buffet and five serving stations." One of them will serve four kinds of local oysters, freshly shucked on the half shell or baked in hollandaise. Others will feature beef Wellington, roasted rack of lamb, striped shrimp risotto, a buffet of sushi, local tuna salad rolls, finger foods such as lobster corn dogs -- "we do a kind of fritter" -- and mini baked potatoes stuffed with crab. A highlight will be a roast suckling pig, and for sweet treats, there will be fruits, a chocolate dipping fountain, miniature gateaux, trifles and cheeses from around the world. "We have done bigger parties, but never higher quality," said Ito, who noted the Empress frequently caters functions for 1,000 at the conference centre: "But when you talk about the creative part of being an executive chef, this is it." "We will have 20 chefs involved and it's our time to show off," said the Japan-trained chef who has worked in top hotels across Canada, as well as the National Arts Centre. He is also a world-class ice carver, although there won't be room for any at this event, because of the silent and live auctions. Besides auction items valued at tens of thousands of dollars -- including paintings, trips, cases of fine wines, gourmet dinners and a 3.6-karat diamond -- the event has already been given more than $218,000 in donations, said chairman Eric Charman. Entertainment will feature the Canadian Scottish Pipes and Drums; soprano-comedian Mary Lou Fallis of Bathroom Divas; home-grown tenor Sunny Shams; and members of the Victoria Symphony. The goal is to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars to be shared by the symphony and the opera.
May 05, 2010 PG Publishing Co., Inc. La Posta Vecchia
Splendid Ruins: Hotels Built on History
By MAURA J. CASEY, The New York Times ON a recent family trip to Italy, I had arranged for our final night to be spent at La Posta Vecchia, a quiet, seaside hotel in Ladispoli, about 25 miles north of Rome. The circa-1640 villa, once owned by J. Paul Getty, is now a 19-room inn furnished with Getty's antique furniture and tapestries. With the open windows bringing in cooling breezes, little could be heard but the sound of the wind and waves. Yet the hotel also gave us an additional, unexpected gift: a fascinating glimpse into daily life as it was lived 2,000 years ago. La Posta Vecchia, it turns out, is one of a handful of hotels that not only offer proximity to old ruins or historical excavations but also own them.
LA POSTA VECCHIA When Mr. Getty purchased the original structure and embarked upon extensive renovations during the 1960s, workers uncovered the ruins of a villa from the second century B.C. that may have once belonged to the family of Julius Caesar. Today, hotel guests are invited to view the remains of the villa and relics from the ancient site in a small, private museum occupying the hotel's basement. La Posta Vecchia's current owner, Robert Scio, said the ruins were a big part of why he bought the villa in 1980. Archaeological excavations on the site are a work in progress, and digs take place about once a week. "It is both the problem and the wealth of Rome," said Mr. Scio. "Wherever you dig, you find something." By far the most tantalizing fragment on display is a tile that contains part of the name "Caesar." The mind races -- could it be? Probably not, said Mr. Scio. The most famous Caesar lived elsewhere, and it is far more likely that someone employed by the Roman emperor inhabited the villa. But, who knows?
May 05, 2010 Luxury Travel Magazine Le Bristol Hotel Paris
Hotel Le Bristol Introduces Well-Being & Beauty Personal Fitness Program
Just in time for summer, Hotel Le Bristol Paris announces its Well-Being & Beauty program, offering guests a head-to-toe personalized health regimen. The program begins with a workout plan, specifically tailored to each individual's needs by Le Bristol's personal trainer, Bruno Fuscien-Trasan, and ends with a visit to the Anne Sémonin Spa for a skin diagnosis and customized facial. The program starts at $368 USD per person.
To assess each client's body and anticipate their personal needs, Fuscien-Trasan begins with a 90-minute consultation which includes muscle strengthening, mat work and cardio training. At the end of the training session, a detailed fitness program created by Fuscien-Trasan will be provided to each guest so they can follow their routine at home. Fuscien-Trasan is a graduate of the Works of Physical Condition program at CREPS of Bordeaux and has specialized in personal training at Hôtel Le Bristol since 2007. He oversees individual sessions, exclusively by appointment, and is coveted by a long list of Le Bristol VIPs. Following a workout with Fuscien-Trasan is a visit to the luxurious Anne Sémonin Spa, where guests receive a specialized treatment program. By mixing essential oils and oligo-element complexes with the spa's various products, therapists develop treatments perfectly adapted to each client's needs. The spa's world-class aestheticians also advise guests of the most beneficial products for their skin and provide counsel on proper application techniques. The Well-Being & Beauty program concludes with a customized 55-minute facial. In addition to its renowned spa, Le Bristol offers guests impeccably designed rooms and spacious suites, world-class dining at The Gastronomic Restaurant and newly opened 114 Faubourg and exceptional service. The Well-being & Beauty program is available to those staying at the hotel, as well as non-guests, and must be booked at least 10 days in advance.
May 05, 2010 thestate.com Hotel Sacher Salzburg
Hero's welcome: Soldier to return to Europe to celebrate end of WWII
On April 30, 1945, 23-year-old Lt. Charles Murray cautiously led his men through the bombed-out streets of Munich. Although the 3rd Infantry Division had taken control of most of Germany's third-largest city, troops in Murray's Company C, 30th Infantry Regiment, were still being harassed by the occasional sniper as they moved to secure a key bridge.
But it was quiet, mostly. Eerily so. Until cheers began to rise from scores of civilians huddled among the ruins. "I thought they were cheering us, the great Americans," Murray said. But the cheers were not for the stalwart dogfaces of the 3rd Infantry Division. The beleaguered residents were cheering a radio broadcast: Adolf Hitler had committed suicide. On Friday, Murray, a Medal of Honor recipient from Columbia, returned to Munich and Bavaria to commemorate the 65th anniversary of V-E Day - Victory in Europe Day - May 8, 1945. This week, he and three comrades will be feted at events in Salzburg, Austria, and in Germany's Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg, site of Hitler's mountaintop retreat, the Eagle's Nest. For the 88-year-old Murray - who, along with comrade Audie Murphy, was among the most highly decorated men in the most-decorated division in World War II - it will probably be his last visit. He will be joined by a film crew from ETV, and a reporter for The State newspaper. "I'm tremendously excited," Murray said last week as he prepared for the trip, "especially to go to celebrate the end of the fighting in Europe." 'SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE' Although a relative late-comer to the ranks of the 3rd Infantry Division, Murray - who has lived for 40 years in Columbia - saw plenty of fighting in Europe. A Baltimore native raised in Wilmington, N.C., Murray was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when he joined the U.S. Army in 1944. By then, the "Rock of the Marne" division - as the 3rd Infantry Division was called, after the French river it defended in World War I - had been in almost constant combat since 1942's North Africa campaign. It fought in Morocco and across Sicily, made two invasions of Italy - at Salerno and Anzio - and had taken Rome. On Aug. 15, 1944, the division went ashore in southern France in what is termed the Forgotten D-Day - two months after the more famous D-Day in Normandy. The 3rd Infantry Division - part of an invasion force of American, British, Dutch, Canadian, French and even Italian troops - landed at St. Tropez in France and advanced up the Rhone Valley. It was there, on Oct. 20, 1944, that Murray, fresh from the United States, joined them as an officer. Through hard fighting and attrition, the 23-year-old was made a company commander on Dec. 8. "I was old, compared to a lot of those 18- and 19-year-old kids in the division," Murray said. A week later, near Kaysersberg, France, necessity made him a hero. His battalion was pinned down on a ridge under heavy fire by 200 well-entrenched Germans. Murray, using a variety of weapons, killed 20 enemy soldiers and captured 10 more, single-handedly driving the Germans from the position. For retired Capt. Monika Stoy, president of Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, the act was one of consummate leadership. "He had to think about his troops, without thinking about himself," said Stoy, who is joining Murray and his son Brian on the trip. For Murray, the act was just "something that had to be done." At the end of his assault, a German grenade riddled him with shrapnel, wounding him in eight places. He spent only four days in an aid station before "borrowing" a uniform and returning to his unit. 'THE ORDER IS CEASE FIRE' Although Murray said the fight near Kaysersberg was "the hardest of the war, because I was alone," it certainly wasn't the end of Murray's or the 3rd Infantry Division's heroics. They fought in the Vosges Mountains in eastern France, cleared the Colmar Pocket in the Alsace, broke through the Seigfried Line and crossed the Rhine. In April, they took Nuremberg in fierce block-by-block fighting, Munich and Augsberg. The division had pushed to Salzburg when the war in Europe ended. Murray remembers the night. He was in a house in the tourist town of Berchtesgaden, nestled in the picturesque Bavaria Alps. The troops had strung telephone lines from house to house. At about 10 p.m. on May 7, his phone rang. The commanding officer said, "Lieutenant, the order is cease fire. It appears the war will be over." Some of his soldiers went into the streets and fired clips into the air. When asked how he reacted, Murray paused, fixed a stare at the questioner, and said, flatly, "I don't remember." The next day, May 8, was declared V-E Day. Murray took up residence in the tony Austria Hotel, where he lived for several months on occupation duty. He will stay in the hotel - now called the Hotel Sacher Salzburg - again this week. One day shortly after the war ended, he also got to visit the Eagle's Nest, driving halfway up the mountain and walking the rest of the way. "The elevator was blown up," he said. As he stared at the vista surrounding him on Hitler's balcony, he realized that "where I did a lot of my fighting ... was just beautiful." Murray would learn from a newspaper article mailed by his wife, Anne, that Gen. George S. Patton was to present him the Medal of Honor on the Fourth of July, 1945. But severe weather prevented Patton from arriving, and Gen. Geoffrey Keyes presented Murray with the nation's highest military honor July 5 at the Salzburg airport. Murray would stay on for occupation duty in Salzburg with his family until 1953, when he returned to the United States. Murray re-enlisted, attended airborne school and became a member of the storied 82nd Airborne Division. He then served as commander of the Old Guard, which protects the Tomb of the Unknowns, and in that role served President John F. Kennedy. He saw active duty in Vietnam in 1966-67 and was assigned to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. At Fort Jackson, he served as commander for the 1st Training Brigade, the U.S. Army Personnel Center and Headquarters Command. He retired in 1973 with more than 30 years of service. He and Anne remained in Columbia. After retirement, Murray served 10 years as a senior planner for the state Department of Corrections. He has returned to France and Austria often through the years. This year, because of declining health, he will not make the trip to France to visit the site of his heroics. "It's tough," he said. "I'm unhappy. But it's just too far to go."
May 05, 2010 The Gazette, Canwest News Service King Pacific Lodge, Princess Royal Island
Top 10 floating hotels
What could be more relaxing than hearing the waves rolling onto the beach from your hotel bedroom than perhaps hearing the waves rolling underneath you or around you? Floating hotels have become a trend in recent years, and men’s website AskMen.com has compiled a list of the top 10 floating hotels, or hotels on water, that are already open or that are being planned. 1. King Pacific Lodge, British Columbia, Canada Built atop a floating barge, King Pacific Lodge enables guests to experience pristine wilderness without sacrificing five-star comfort. The hotel is accessed via a floatplane, and is towed in to Princess Royal Island from May to October.
2. ReefWorld, Great Barrier Reef, Australia Despite initial protests, a project called ReefWorld has been given the go-ahead by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The brainchild of British architecture firm Richard Hywel Evans, eco-friendly ReefWorld will offer a full underwater spa, eight submerged bedrooms, glass-walled bathrooms and a research facility right on top of Australia’s stunning Great Barrier Reef. 3. Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India In the middle of Lake Pichola, the five-star Oberoi Udaivilas is one of the world’s most visually stunning hotels. It has the architecture of a traditional Indian palace with romantic courtyards, trickling fountains and manicured gardens while guests arrive on a Kashmiri gondola with champagne and canapes. 4. Aerohotel - anywhere Russian architect Alexander Asadov has come up with the floating Aerohotel, a spaceship-like hotel concept that is held above the water via an elegant system of supports. By building the hotel above the water rather than on it, the design preserves the environment beneath it. Features include hanging gardens, cafes and restaurants, and a nifty landing strip for a Zeppelin. 5. Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island, Maldives Set across two private islands in the Indian Ocean, the Conrad Maldives has some of its amenities are on land but much of the resort is built with water in mind -- such as the 50 luxurious water villas, the all-glass undersea restaurant and the 21 spa water villas with private treatment rooms. 6. Floating & Rotating Hotel Tower, Dubai, UAE When it’s completed, Waterstudio’s Floating & Rotating Hotel Tower will rise 25 stories off the coast of Dubai. The Amsterdam-based architecture firm specializes in waterborne projects, and its 100-metre (328 ft) hotel concept will be a feat of engineering made with glass and steel. 7. Dragon Inn Floating Resort, Semporna, Malaysia Built on the sea near Semporna, the Dragon Inn Floating Resort offers rooms on stilts and an island resort with palm-leaf roofing. The structural design of the hotel affords guests a sense of a traditional Bajau water village and great diving. 8. Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa, Bora Bora, French Polynesia It doesn’t get much more idyllic than the awe-inspiring Lagoon Resort & Spa on Bora Bora. Built on an islet one mile across from the main island of Bora Bora, the resort is made up of 44 over-water bungalows, as well as beach and garden accommodation on stretches of clear white sand beaches. 9. Punta Caracol, Panama, South America Comprising six stilted “aqua lodges” or cabins complete with palm-leaf roofs, Punta Caracol allows guests to stay above the Caribbean Sea and take in dolphins frolicking in the surf, trips into the rainforests and fishing and snorkelling. 10. Six Senses, Soneva Gili, Male, Maldives Home to one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives, Soneva Gili is home for a luxury Six Senses resort. Guests reach the secluded floating hotel via a 15-minute boat ride from the capital city of Male, before checking into their own private over-water villas. The accommodations’ best feature has to be the floating sun decks.
May 05, 2010 traveltroll.info Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, St. Jean Cap Ferrat
France's Legendary Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat
The grand palace on the Côte D'Azur is a pristine white mansion on the tip of the Cap-Ferrat peninsula set amidst 17 acres of lushly landscaped gardens with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. It has been a legendary retreat for aristocrats, film stars, politicians, artists and writers for over a century, celebrated for world-class cuisine and unique luxury and elegance. Illustrious guests have included the novelist Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Picasso, David Niven, Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney, that tradition continues to this day with an elite international guest list.
Recent expansion celebrates the beginning of a new era, while respecting the grandeur of the past, styled by internationally acclaimed designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. With the addition of a new wing, the hotel now features 73 rooms and suites, a new restaurant and world class destination spa. Also redesigned and relocated is the Michelin-star Restaurant Le Cap, opening onto a terrace with breathtaking sea views. Boasting one of the world's most spectacular wine collections, the gastronomic restaurant is headed by award-winning Executive Chef Didier Aniès, honoured as a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the prestigious craftsmen awards. Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is a 20-minute drive from Monaco and 30-minutes from Nice International Airport. The hotel is a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World.
May 05, 2010 traveltroll.info Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, St. Jean Cap Ferrat
France's Legendary Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat
The grand palace on the Côte D'Azur is a pristine white mansion on the tip of the Cap-Ferrat peninsula set amidst 17 acres of lushly landscaped gardens with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. It has been a legendary retreat for aristocrats, film stars, politicians, artists and writers for over a century, celebrated for world-class cuisine and unique luxury and elegance. Illustrious guests have included the novelist Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Picasso, David Niven, Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney, that tradition continues to this day with an elite international guest list.
Recent expansion celebrates the beginning of a new era, while respecting the grandeur of the past, styled by internationally acclaimed designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. With the addition of a new wing, the hotel now features 73 rooms and suites, a new restaurant and world class destination spa. Also redesigned and relocated is the Michelin-star Restaurant Le Cap, opening onto a terrace with breathtaking sea views. Boasting one of the world's most spectacular wine collections, the gastronomic restaurant is headed by award-winning Executive Chef Didier Aniès, honoured as a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the prestigious craftsmen awards. Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is a 20-minute drive from Monaco and 30-minutes from Nice International Airport. The hotel is a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World.
May 05, 2010 Luxury Travel Magazine Claridge's
Claridge's Launches 1930s Hollywood Glamour Beauty Treatments
Claridge's, the iconic Art Deco landmark hotel in London's Mayfair, unveils a selection of beauty treatments designed to recapture the timeless glamour of a bygone era. Following in the footsteps of Hollywood's leading ladies and debonair gents, to many of whom Claridge's was a second home, Claridge's beauty therapists have carefully created individual regimes, each with a particular icon in mind. With names such as 'The Bogey & Bacall' and 'The Greta Garbo', treatments are available starting April 2010.
The treatment menu provides a form of nostalgic escapism, offering an immersive opportunity to experience pampering styles and grooming techniques inspired by the golden age of Hollywood. Should guests crave 'alone-time', Claridge's beauty therapists will recommend The Greta Garbo, inspired by the 1930's Swedish screen siren who was famously known for the line 'I want to be alone'. This restorative ritual includes a Swedish massage, a cellular La Prarie facial and a light lunch for one. Perfect preparation for an all important red carpet debut, guests may opt for The Vivien Leigh, a selection of therapies inspired by the beautiful English actress who was best known for playing the coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara in classic picture Gone with the Wind. The indulgent pampering regime includes a 'Miss Scarlett' file & polish, eyebrow tidy, signature facial and posture improving massage, and, in a nod to the namesake's place of birth, a pot of Darjeeling tea! For suave and sophisticated gentlemen, the menu includes a host of grooming rituals, specifically tailored to meet masculine needs and designed to inspire debonair charm and old-world Hollywood charisma. The Fred Astaire will keep guests light on their toes yet immaculately spruced with an hour's personal training, followed by a facial and foot massage, file and tidy for hands and a light lunch to finish. In keeping with the inherent romance of Mayfair's Deco Grand Dame, The Bogey & Bacall marks the first time Claridge's Beauty & fitness will offer a dual treatment. Emulating the iconic Hollywood sweethearts Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall, this couple's pampering programme includes a massage and facial for two followed by a glass of Laurent Perrier Rosé champagne to toast one another. Commenting on the new treatment menu, Claridge's Beauty & Fitness Manager Kelly Ashdown said "Claridge's is pioneering a glamour revival, championing time-honoured beauty regimen and classic grooming principles over the trend towards minimalist-chic seen so frequently throughout London spas". Tucked away on the 6th floor, far above the London bustle, Claridge's Beauty & Fitness offers three luxurious treatment rooms complete with steam showers to accommodate a wide range of restorative massages, facial and body treatments. A fully equipped gymnasium with cardiovascular exercise machines, free weights and juice bar as well as an aerobic area with a maple sprung floor, ballet bars and individual television monitors, provide guests a luxury work-out space. The spacious health facility is peaceful, light and welcoming, with stunning views across Mayfair's rooftops and discreet and friendly service. Fittingly designed in Art Deco style with distinctive glass columns, fine chrome fittings and beautiful hardwoods, Claridge's Beauty & Fitness was designed by Lynne Hunt of Hunt Hamilton Zuch.
May 05, 2010 luxist.com Claridge's
Diane von Furstenberg Unveils Her Designs for Claridge's
Yesterday evening, Diane von Furstenberg discussed her first interior design project for a series of rooms and suites designed exclusively for Claridge's, the Art Deco jewel in Mayfair, London. The legendary designer is a longtime guest and friend of the hotel. Claridge's and Diane von Furstenberg have enjoyed an intimate relationship since the 1970's and some of her past collections have even been inspired by the renowned hotel. "I am so excited, humbled and flattered to design rooms in my favorite hotel," said von Furstenberg at the unveiling which she hosted at her headquarters in New York. "It is the ultimate hotel. I have been staying there for 30 years. It is the only place where they still call me 'Highness'!"
"Claridge's is so unique," she added. "There are no other hotels like it." For Claridge's, von Furstenberg designed rugs, furniture, cashmere throws and fabrics for the rooms. At her headquarters in Manhattan she unveiled design boards for several of the rooms. She explained she paid special attention to such furniture pieces as vanity desks and TV/entertainment centers. "Both of which are very important," she said. "Vanity is very important to me!" The design boards revealed bold colors and several different animal prints. Her original furniture designs appeared to be classic and traditional. "One of my fondest memories was when I was in London as a young, independent businesswoman and stayed at Claridge's. I knew I had made it," she explained. "To me, Claridge's is the most glamorous hotel in the world; I regard it as my home away from home. I am honored to become part of the hotel's legacy and rich design history.' Stephen Alden, CEO Maybourne Hotel Group, which owns and manages Claridge's, (in addition to The Connaught and The Berkeley), was in from London to introduced von Furstenberg at the event. "Our collaboration with the talented Diane von Furstenberg is the latest storyline within our history of forward-thinking design," he said. "Diane's personal love and passion for Claridge's provides a unique perspective which she will draw upon in executing her creative vision." On June 23, the first five "keys" (hotel lingo for rooms and suites) will be unveiled. von Furstenberg is designing more than 20 rooms in total for the legendary hotel. Claridge's is a Luxist Awards' Readers Choice Award nominee for best city hotel.
Apr 04, 2010 Bulgari Hotels & Resorts Bulgari Hotel Milano
Dom Perignon Bar
From May 3rd through September 30th our luxurious private garden, a true oasis in the centre of Milan, will be home to the first Dom Perignon Lounge Bar in Italy. An exclusive place where to enjoy the most renowned Champagne Dom Perignon Blanc and Dom Perignon Rose, combined with caviar and our chefs' "piccoli morci" , a collection of little gastronomy jewels offering an unending revelation of flavours, informal and dynamic, the Dom Perignon Lounge Bar - open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. - will be the perfect "place where to be" when in Milano, in the glamorous and exclusive frame of Bulgari Hotel.
Apr 04, 2010 Lower Mainland Publishing Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino
First-time visit to Tofino lives up to hype
BY SANDRA THOMAS, VANCOUVER COURIER During our drive from Nanaimo to Tofino along the Pacific Rim Highway near the end of March, it could not have rained harder. I hoped the torrential downpour wasn't a sign of the weekend to come, but magically as we pulled into Tofino, the sun came out and the sky turned a glorious shade of blue. In fact, the weather became so nice that after checking into our room at the Wickaninnish Inn, we sat out on our balcony in bare feet and short sleeves watching the waves crashing on the rocks below us until the sun finally set.
This was my first visit to Tofino and until then, the breathtaking surf and scenery was simply something made of legend. Sure, I'd seen the pictures taken by friends and family, but those digital images paled in comparison to the broiling surf and blue-grey ocean below us that evening. On the drive from Nanaimo, we stopped at the Coombs Country Market in Coombs and stocked up on local cheese, meat and a loaf of fresh bread. Tired from our long trip that day, we decided to stay in and enjoy the stone fireplace in our room with a glass of wine. Even with our glass balcony door closed we could still hear the surf below us and combined with our roaring fire, I knew then why luxury hotel and spa magazine Conde Nast Johansens (an offshoot of Conde Nast) readers voted the Wickaninnish as the "Most Excellent Romantic Hideaway in North America for 2010." The next day we headed to Radar Hill just down the highway in Pacific Rim National Park. My partner is a huge Canadian history buff, so he was anxious to check out the Kap'yong Memorial, which honours the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry that served during the Korean War. When we stopped at the bottom of the hill to buy a park pass, about $16 for two people, we couldn't help but notice three separate posters on the bulletin board warning of bear, cougar and wolf sightings. We then drove up to the parking lot at the foot of the memorial and saw more warning posters on the bulletin board there. Now bears and cougars I could understand, but wolves were never on my radar when it came to animals we might have to avoid. With no other vehicle in the parking lot and my bear bell back home in Vancouver, we decided to pass on the walk through the woods to the memorial and head straight to Long Beach. It was at Long Beach that all of the photos I'd ever seen of Tofino came to life. The vista was stunning and again, despite rain warnings for the entire weekend, the sun came out turning the ocean into a sparkling backdrop to the expansive beach. We walked the beach for a while, but then it was back to Tofino for whale watching. I was surprised at how many people were also joining us at Jamie's Whaling Station that cool crisp afternoon as we all piled onto the 65-foot Leviathan II. We could have enjoyed our tour in a much smaller Zodiac, but we decided for this trip we'd take the bigger boat. With the sun shining, we all took seats on the top of the boat and with the wind blowing in our faces, headed out across Clayoquot and Barkley sounds. Our guide provided us with some history of the area while keeping a sharp eye out for the grey and humpback whales we hoped to spot that day. It being early in the season, I wasn't expecting large numbers, but we did follow the course of one grey whale, while spotting the spray from several others. Along the way we also spotted a number of nesting eagles and large groups of sea lions. About two hours into our three-hour tour, the wind picked up a bit and the temperature dropped, which was the perfect excuse to go below and enjoy steaming cups of hot chocolate. Mooring back in Tofino, we headed home to the Wickaninnish and once again warmed up in front of the fireplace as we got ready for dinner. We had heard over and over again that a trip to the Wickaninnish was not complete without dinner at The Pointe Restaurant, so we decided it was a must on our list of things to do during our too-short weekend. And I have to say dinner was everything we could ever have imagined. It's not inexpensive--dinner with one drink and a bottle of wine was close to $250 with tip, but we decided later it was worth every penny, particularly the appetizer we shared of local fresh-shucked oysters with mandarin orange sorbet. We discovered dining out pretty much anywhere in Tofino is pricey. I'm sure the locals and regulars must have places where they eat and drink that are more affordable, but as first-timers we pretty much stuck to the main drag, which translated to about $50 for brunch and the sky is the limit for dinner. The upside is the area is known for its local ingredients and fresh seafood. Getting there: We took B.C. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then followed the Pacific Rim Highway to Tofino. The trip can take between two and three hours, but give yourself lots of time. We took more than four hours because of our stop in Coombs, which is worth the visit, and a late lunch in Port Alberni. We had heard that Cecilia's Deli and Café on the waterfront sells a mean fish chowder and we weren't disappointed. You also want to give yourself enough time either on the way to Tofino, or the way back, to stop at Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. The old-growth forest is awe-inspiring with its Douglas fir and red cedar trees, some more than 800-years old. One of the oldest Douglas fir trees in the park is more than nine-metres in diameter.
Apr 04, 2010 Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Four Seasons Hotel London
A Brand New Four Seasons in London – Opening Late 2010
Work is well underway on the creation of a brand new Four Seasons Hotel London, taking shape in the Hotel's original West End location. The setting is London's most desirable: in the heart of fashionable Mayfair, set back from Park Lane and just steps from Hyde Park.
Among the world's most talked-about new hotel developments, the project is being guided by John Stauss, Four Seasons Regional Vice President, and General Manager of the original Four Seasons Hotel London for 16 years. According to Mr. Stauss: "This is not merely a renovation. This is a brand new hotel. We stripped the building's interior down to its bare structure, allowing us to reinvent the layout completely and incorporate state-of-the-art mechanical systems. We're creating a new hotel at the forefront of today's Four Seasons standards." The 11-storey structure includes a brand-new, all-glass top floor, dedicated to a world-destination spa. The interior has been conceived by Pierre-Yves Rochon – the internationally renowned designer responsible for Four Seasons properties in Paris, Florence, Geneva and Washington, D.C., among others. The motif is 'classically contemporary' – balancing eclectic sophistication and sleek modern style. The atmosphere feels fresh, bright and airy. Even here in the centre of London, the location provides a sense of openness with leafy window views, treetop vistas and easy access to green space. Intimate in scale, the new Four Seasons features 192 guest rooms, including 45 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites – some of which include fireplaces and private terraces. The Hotel's restaurant is enhanced by a cosy bar and an elegant lounge – destined to be among London's hottest venues. The ballroom and other function spaces are conveniently grouped on the first level – creating a focus of glamour, privacy and exclusivity. Traditional warmth radiates from 32 fireplaces spread throughout the public areas and accommodations. More details on the new Four Seasons Hotel London will be revealed in the months to come.
Apr 04, 2010 poker news boy Bellagio, Las Vegas
$25,000 WPT Championship underway at Bellagio
One of the poker highlights each year has been the World Poker Tour’s $25,000 buy-in championship event that takes place at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. The hefty price-tag brings out the best of the best in the poker world, as they battle it out for one of the richest prizes in poker.
Day 1 of the event saw 161 players take to the felt (registration will remain open until 5PM on Day 2 of the event) and of those 161 players, 138 will be back for Day 2. Tournament officials expect roughly 200 total players to enter the event, creating a prize-pool of $5 million. Last year’s tournament saw 338 players enter the tournament, so even one of the most popular and prestigious tournaments in poker isn’t immune to the current down-tick in attendance (especially in the US).
Apr 04, 2010 ft.com Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano
Trails and trenches of the Dolomites
By Max Hastings High in the southern Dolomites, one of the most dramatic alpine landscapes in Europe, skiers race laughing and exultant down the run. A hundred yards from the cable car summit of Little Lagazuoi, near Cortina d’Ampezzo, none stop to notice a hump in the snow, towards which I follow Pippo the guide. He drags open a wooden door. We clamber down a ladder, then grope along a tunnel cut deep in the rock face. Pippo gestures towards a loophole in the darkness, through which streams brilliant sunlight, a view to the valley a mile below. “Brrrr!”, exclaims the grinning guide. “Brrrr!” He is imitating the machine-gun that once stood in the emplacement.
This place was a unique and terrible battlefield. Here, between June 1915 and October 1917, amid scorching summer sun, winter ice and snow, Italians fighting in the allied cause struggled for mastery against Austrians and Germans. Few modern Europeans know much of Italy’s part in the first world war. The nation, led by Antonio Salandra, the prime minister, rashly entered the conflict in pursuit of territorial gains at the expense of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Its army was ill-equipped, its generals incompetent even by comparison with their French and British counterparts. At Versailles in 1919, Italy gained most of the lands it coveted, but they were soaked in blood. Some 689,000 of its men were dead, from a population of 35m. Most of the slaughter took place around the Izonzo river close to the border with modern Slovenia. But Italian generals in their madness also made repeated attempts to push into Hapsburg territory north-west from Cortina, up lofty passes commanded by Austrian guns. HG Wells, who paid a propaganda visit on behalf of the British government in 1916, described the Dolomites as “grim and wicked, worn old mountains. They tower overhead in enormous vertical cliffs of sallow grey, with square jointings and occasional clefts and gullies, their summits toothed and jagged.” Thousands died in futile battles on what Italians called “il fronte verticale”. The illiterate peasant soldiers from the south who executed Rome’s first orders to attack were bewildered by being asked to sacrifice their lives for mountains bereft of agricultural value, the only currency they understood. After they died in the opening clashes, year after year rival forces of alpine troops – native mountain men – strove to dispossess each other of neighbouring pinnacles, to tunnel the peaks, to mine and counter-mine in unspeakable conditions. Now visitors to these old battlefields can see trench systems on the summits and two miles of tunnels are accessible to summer climbers. Some can be explored by winter skiers on a guided day tour. The Museum of the Tre Sassi Fort, which opened last year, is a fine museum in an old fort, on what was once called The Emperor’s Road, south of San Cassiano. It is filled with weapons and artefacts gathered from the mountains over decades by the Landecellis, a family of indefatigable local collectors. Here are great heaps of rusted bullets and shells, coils of wire and machine-guns, sepia photographs of men huddled over artillery pieces and field telephones, uniformed dummies, maps and expositions in three languages of the death-struggles which took place nearby. Along the road, gazing up at the sheer wall of the Little Lagazuoi, it seems to defy belief that men fought as well as subsisted on its 7,000ft crags, but so they did. A legendary Italian hero of the campaign was Captain Etto Martini, who on October 18-19 1915 led two platoons of Alpini troops on a 500ft night climb from the valley, to occupy a cleft deep inside the Austrian line. Soon, 300 men garrisoned what became known as the Martini Ledge, lodged in huts built under an overhang. The Italians clung to this and other painfully won mountain positions through two years that followed, in the face of Austrian shelling and mining. Snipers were lowered down the face on ropes to harass the Italians. Any visible movement provoked fire. The two sides’ engineers laboured ceaselessly to blast each other from their lofty footholds. On January 1 1916, the Austrians fired their first big charge, 600lb of explosives. A year later, they detonated five tons, which brought down part of the mountain. In May 1917, they set off 30 tons, outdone a month later by an Italian mine of 32 tons. Captain Martini wrote wretchedly: “The detonation of a colossal mine doesn’t advance us by one single centimetre.” Men shivered, fought and died, without either side gaining decisive advantage. Pickets of the opposing armies were entrenched so close that in darkness they sometimes conversed with each other. Complex trench lines were created, where searchlights probed for night movement. During one Austrian attack, in a gesture superbly Italian, Martini ordered his unit’s band to play, to raise the spirits of his men. Historian Mark Thompson, author of a magnificent recent book The White War, calls the struggle in the Dolomites “baroque”. It generated protracted labour and suffering, while for the Italians it “mocked their ambitions and courage”. Today, the relics are as moving as the battlefield’s beauty. One showcase holds tawdry jewellery made from shell-rings by a soldier named Cadario, who assuaged the icy boredom of tunnel life by hammering brass and steel into necklaces and bracelets. There is a big 1915 group photograph of young men of Cortina with nicknames such as Bepito, Nero, Roco, Angelico, most doomed to die in Hapsburg service. They have always taken for granted the war debris and rusty barbed wire exposed on the mountains every spring when the snow melts. Hugo said: “For years, I had six old shells in my garage until my brother-in-law said: ‘Are you mad? Do you want to be blown up?’ ” The offending objects were removed to the museum. To get the most out of exploring this wonderful area, read the stories of men who fought here, such as 19-year-old Ensign Hans Schneeberger of the Austrian Kaiserjager, native Tyroleans. His agility on the mountain earned him a nickname, “the snow-flea”. Schneeberger described the horror of living underground, amid the sound of Italians drilling the limestone a few yards distant to lay their mines. At last came a vast explosion which left the young Austrian concussed, the air thick with dust, a crater “deep as a church tower”, all but 10 of his platoon dead. Six miles away in Cortina, civilians who heard the eruption believed an earthquake had struck. Yet somehow, the Austrians fought off the Italians struggling to exploit the carnage, some of whom collapsed with carbon monoxide poisoning from the fumes of their own explosives. Mark Thompson describes the elements as “a third army, one that would kill them all, given a chance”. Temperatures sometimes fell to -40° or -50°C. On one day, December 13 1916 – which became known as White Friday – avalanches killed 10,000 men on the Italian front. The snow, indeed, is reckoned to have caused more deaths in the Dolomites than the bullets and shells of both sides. An Italian soldier who went on to become a notable poet, Giuseppe Ungaretti, wrote later that the war experience of himself and two million comrades wrung from them every ounce of the nationalist passion with which they had enlisted: “There is no trace in my poetry of hatred for the enemy, or anyone else.” As morale flagged amid the slaughter, Italy’s generals embarked on a policy of decimation: systematically shooting one man in 10 of units which fled in battle. A condemned soldier howled at his executioners: “What have I done to make you shoot me? I’ve got seven children.” The firing squad hesitated. The watching divisional commander said: “Let us be done with this jabbering. Orders are orders.” Six volleys were needed to finish the job. In October 1917, after the Italian army suffered a devastating defeat at Caporetto, its forces were obliged to abandon their hard-won positions in the Dolomites. But a year later, as the Austro-Hungarian empire tottered in the final weeks of the war, the Italian army was belatedly able to make a push forward. Armistice Day 1918 found its foremost units in San Cassiano, the village where I stayed more than 90 years later. But there was scant Italian joy in victory. Many of the emperor’s subjects lamented their enforced transfer to Roman hegemony. Italy’s new borders embraced 650,000 Italians – but also 300,000 Slovenes, 200,000 Croats and 250,000 Austrians. German is still spoken almost as often as Italian or Ladino in the valleys here. Funds and military contingents from three nations – Italy, Austria and Germany – have joined to create the Dolomites’ open-air museum. The battlefields of France are familiar tourist trails for students of the period. But north-east Italy deserves to be much better known. This is fabulous ski country in winter, walking and climbing territory in summer. The local food is terrific, especially so at Rosa Alpina, probably the finest hotel in the region. We have left behind the era in which the 1914-18 war was perceived in nationalistic terms. We understand it, instead, as a common European tragedy of which Italy bore more than its share. Even at the time, there was extraordinary fellow-feeling between Austrian and Italian troops confronting each other in identical high-altitude misery. At one moment during a doomed Italian advance in 1915, the Austrians stopped firing and called to the attackers clambering over their own heaped dead: “Stop, go back! We won’t shoot any more. Do you want everyone to die?” An Italian lieutenant on the Carso in the winter of 1916 wrote: “It is not dying that is the demoralising thing ... It is dying for the stupidity of orders and cowardice of commanding officers.” In the Dolomites today, it is easy to recognise the well of such a man’s despair. I stayed nearby at San Cassiano, in the heart of the Ladin region, which still cherishes its own language alongside Italian and German. In 1915, it was thinly populated by pious farmers loyal to Vienna. My hotel, the splendid Rosa Alpina, has been owned by three generations of a local family, the Pizzininis. Hugo Pizzinini’s grandfather served in the Austrian army in the first world war while, at the 1918 battle of the Piave, his great-uncle fought on the opposite side, in the Italian ranks. The experience of the two world wars was so painful for Italy that, unlike the British and French, for many years Italians chose to forget them. Hugo Pizzinini told me: “At school, we learned almost nothing about this area in the first world war. Nobody round here wanted to know.”
Apr 04, 2010 luxist Four Seasons Hotel George V
Le Bar: Start Your Day on Avenue George V
Le Bar is a simple name for a truly decadent bar in the George V (a Four Seasons Hotel in Paris), and a nominee for a Readers' Choice Award for Best Hotel Bars. The bar is elegant and decidedly dressy, with a distinct Parisian air of entitlement. The decor is very French with classic continental details like the rich mahogany wood, the plush and substantial chairs and the obligatory enormous, heavy draperies and chandeliers. If King Louis XIV were here today, this is where he would take his mistresses when away from Versailles.
Located on the ground floor of the George V with a large window facing the hotel's namesake Avenue (near the Champs-Elysées), the bar is popular with both hotel guests and Parisians -- a combination which is a must-have for weary travelers doing their best to be social while running on jet lag and espresso. Contemporary French cuisine is offered, as well as a smattering of wines and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails -- so if you're heading off to a wine tasting, you can start your day with something like a Lucky Star (Cranberry Juice, Fresh Mint, Strawberries, Raspberries and Soda) or Lazy Days (White Peach Coulis, Cranberry Juice and Pineapple Juice) And yes, I do mean "start your day," this bar opens daily at 10:00 AM. The mouth-watering menu includes a variety of options from full meals to snacks and desserts with a dedicated section for vegetarians (and not a half-hearted one; how about Brown Mushroom Carpaccio with Fennel, Rocket, Artichokes and Cottage Cheese?). For both guests of the George V and visitors of the Champs-Elysées looking for a sophisticated respite, Le Bar provides simple and exquisite hospitality.
Apr 04, 2010 Hotel Hassler Sales Hotel Hassler
Millefoglie “is made” on table
“When ancient meets modernity” could be the title given to Francesco Apreda’s beautiful initiative, the great talent at the Hassler Roma’s restaurant Imàgo.
The idea of this young chef is to present in front of the customer a little masterpiece of three layers of pastry, slightly brushed with chocolate in order to create a moisture-proof layer between cream and pastry in so as to make it all the more crispy. Finally, hazelnut and chocolate cream, some raspberries, a sparkling dash of Maldon salt (an English rarity), crispy chocolate-covered cereal, a cubeb pepper (gray-colored and very elegant) and raspberry sauce over it all. A mouth-watering wonder whose progress can be followed at the moment, and with the added possibility of a personal final touch such as an inscription or candels, to make the event become truly memorable.
Apr 04, 2010 City AM Badrutt's Palace Hotel
In the summer Switzerland’s mountains burst into life
To really make the most of the Alps, head up after the snow melts Timothy Barber I’VE been skiing just once, when I was 11. My chief memories are of floundering in a snowdrift as my Austrian instructor sped off cursing my inability to stay upright, and the fact that by the end of the week I still hadn’t even mastered the snowplough. It really wasn’t for me. Since then, the Alps have remained firmly off my travel radar. To the committed non-skier, talk of glamorous destinations like Courchevel and Zermatt, discussions over the best “après” activities and grumblings about the cost of lift passes hold minimal fascination. The irony, of course, is that the winter side of Alpine tourism is just one – albeit very valuable – part of the story. The other, summery part, is more colourful, more varied in what it offers, arguably more beautiful and certainly more affordable. And with resorts piling investment into their summer offerings as the recession bites into ski revenues, the notion of them shutting up shop for the down-season is less and less a reality.
So last summer I made my return, and my base, ironically, was to be the place where winter tourism was born: St Moritz. It was here in 1864 – when the Alps were a summer-only destination – that local hotelier Johannes Badrutt enticed the first Brits to a winter visit. They came in droves, and St Moritz has never been out of fashion since. Its location, in the stunning glacial curve of the Switzerland’s Engadin Valley, has the benefit of a microclimate that ensures around 300 days of sunshine every year. It’s in the country’s southeastern corner, less than an hour’s journey from the Italian border, and you reach it by train from Zurich. That journey alone is a two-hour stunner, whisking you upwards past evergreen forests, Alpine pastures, nestled villages with sloping roofs and church spires, and waterfalls cascading down rocky gullies. Everything gleams and shimmers – it’s like journeying through a deodorant commercial. The train’s ski-racks may be empty in the summer, but instead your fellow passengers come with every kind of hiking apparel, climbing gear, cycling kit, even waterskiing equipment for hitting the lake – the Alpine life is ever the active life. Or is it? Being met at St Moritz station by a gleaming Rolls Royce to take you about a quarter of a mile to the Badrutt’s Palace hotel – still run by Johannes Badrutt’s descendents – could suggest otherwise. GRAND CHALET CHIC St Moritz, of course, is a by-word for glitzy luxury, a place where restricting your energetic side to a nose around the boutiques before blissing out to an expensive massage is just fine, darling – and Badrutt’s Palace is its castle. A mixture of schloss fantasy and grand chalet chic, it stands sentinel over the town and its glimmering lake. Here you can laze around in the echoing magnificence of the Grand Hall, take tea in the sun on a luxurious veranda, eat like a film star in the Nobu restaurant or like a king in the ineffably elegant, Michelin-starred Le Restaurant… um, restaurant. The best feature of all, however, might be the spa’s large oval swimming pool, surrounded by towering windows looking out across the green mountain slopes and forests. It’s a very splendid place. It would be easy to wallow in such opulence for days, but where there are ski slopes in the winter there are hiking trails by summer, and glorious Alpine countryside to bask in. The trails in the area are as numerous as the ski routes, and the tourist office and hotel concierges can supply details and leaflets. We took a funicular up to Muottas Muragl, a cosy restaurant on a plateau overlooking St Moritz from a height of 2,500m. You pretty much have to stick to well-trodden pathways which snake majestically round the fairy-tale terrain, every turn presenting a view more gorgeous than the last. It’s the kind of country in which you expect to find Julie Andrews dashing along with a retinue of lederhosen-sporting kids, or Heidi and her grandpa waving you on. If you can find it, it’s worth stopping off at Segantini’s Hut, a café in the former lodge of hermit painter Giovanni Segantini, which is only accessible on foot (spare a thought for the employees who lug the food and drink up there). This kind of hiking, in majestically crisp air and a crystalline quality of light impossible to experience at home, nourishes the soul. And you don’t have to stick to hiking. Bikes are easily hired, and if you don’t fancy scrambling around on them along rocky trails, they make a good way to investigate the other towns and villages in the area, most of which retain their ancient, Alpine charm. One particularly lovely village is Sils Im Engadin, an evocative cluster of villas and chalets from which paths lead up to the lush, rolling pastures of the Fex valley. There are no cars allowed, but we hopped on a horse-drawn cart and clip-clopped upwards to the Hotel Sonne Fex, an idyllic little place next to a tiny farmers’ chapel (the frescos inside date from the 12th century). At the hotel’s outdoor restaurant we sipped local white wine and gazed over the sleepy green spurs of the valley – a delightful contrast with St Moritz’s showy razzle-dazzle. It’s as romantic a summer spot as you’ll find on any faraway beach. Maybe it all looks just as fine covered in snow but I’m not convinced – it’s in the summer these mountains reveal their splendour.
Apr 04, 2010 LuxeMont.com The Connaught London
The Magic of Mayfair - Traditional Elegance with a Contemporary Twist
Things to Do in London: Mayfair has always been synonymous with style, glamour and decadence, and today it can also be proud of a new 'cool' status as Londoners embrace their British heritage, with the contemporary seamlessly sitting alongside old school grandeur. Mayfair has its share of fabulous dining experiences, with a plethora of Michelin starred restaurants, including the legendary Le Gavroche and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, which was recently awarded its third Michelin star, making it only the second restaurant to currently hold that accolade in London.
The Wolseley has maintained its place as London's most chic destination for breakfast, with businessmen and fashionistas flocking there for the grand dining room and people watching, while Automat has firmly established itself as the place for weekend brunch and a Bloody Mary. Serving fine Italian food from first thing in the morning until the early hours, Cecconi's is an excellent lunch spot to break up a day's shopping on nearby Bond Street. Cecconi's is fun and glamorous, with a real buzz about the place - and Prosecco on tap is never a bad thing. Scott's, on Mount street, has been a Mayfair institution for years, and in its current guise, it is the epitome of the new Mayfair vibe. From the moment the doorman wearing a bowler hat greets and escorts you into the dining room and you see the fabulously ornate oyster bar, you know you're in for a treat, and the food, service and ambience deliver just that. Scott's is glamorous, exciting and a place 'to see and be seen'. Mount Street has transformed itself in recent years, with high-end shopping boutiques such as Christian Louboutin and Marc Jacobs effortlessly neighbouring Purdey, the prestigious gun makers and Allens, London's oldest butcher. The newly refurbished Connaught hotel has re-established itself at the heart of Mayfair and has elevated the hotel bar scene to new heights with two of the best bars in London. The Coburg bar is a wonderful place to relax after a day at the office or shopping, while the design and the cocktails at the Connaught bar are perfect for an upbeat glamorous evening with friends. On the fringes of Mayfair, at the top of the former Dickens & Jones department store on Regents Street, Aqua opened towards the end of 2009 with 250 seats spread over two restaurants, both of which have a large and impressive roof terrace, which is certain to be a popular destination in the summer. Mayfair's nightlife continues to thrive, with re-openings and reinventions at Molton House and Morton's competing with a new breed of cool pubs at The Punchbowl and The Only Running Footman, all in the shadow of the iconic institutions of Annabel's and Mark's Club. A place to relax, pamper and rejuvenate is essential, and Mayfair does not disappoint. The recently refurbished Dorchester Spa at The Dorchester hotel is the epitome of Art Deco glamour with a contemporary twist; after indulging in the vast array of treatments, guests can enjoy champagne and cake at the adjoining Spatisserie. The Connaught Hotel has also just opened its Aman Spa, the first stand-alone Aman spa in the world. Gentlemen are also catered for with outposts of The Refinery and Gentlemen's Tonic and the recently launched Dunhill at Bourdon House. With such a fine selection of venues to drink, dine and frolic, you may well need somewhere suitable to rest your weary head, and fortunately, Mayfair is home to some of the best hotels in the world. Claridge's exudes style and luxury, the service is impeccable and the public areas are delightful. For a more hip and trendy vibe, there's the Mayfair Hotel, the new home for any young celebrity passing through London. The future of Mayfair, London's most stylish grande dame, is set to sparkle, with the re-opening of the Four Seasons Hotel and The Dorchester Collection's new 45 Park Lane scheduled for 2010, both of which will further ignite Mayfair's bar and restaurant scene. The chic and fabulous will surely follow; I, for one, will be joining them.
Apr 04, 2010 PR Log Regina Hotel Baglioni Rome
Holidays dedicated to art and relaxation at the Regina Hotel Baglioni in Rome
During the coming months, guests of the Regina Hotel Baglioni, will have the opportunity to view the magnificent paintings of the artist Caravaggio in a special exhibition taking place in the city until June 13th. The exhibition which is dedicated to Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio and organized by the Scuderie del Quirinale, praises an artist who has deeply influenced the last 400 years of art history.
Trained in Milan, Caravaggio moved to Rome in his early 20s. Huge new churches and palazzi were being built in Rome in the decades of the late 16th and early 17th Centuries, and paintings were needed to fill them. The Regina Hotel Baglioni located on the via Veneto, can also offer guests the chance to enjoy a three hour itinerary, led by a guide, which takes in all of these churches that are in possession of paintings by Caravaggio, a journey that allows visitors to go back to the Roman period of the artist. The short break packages of the Regina Hotel Baglioni will enable art lovers to not only see the Caravaggio exhibition but also to link the subjects of many of his paintings to the delicious food served in the hotel’s Brunello restaurant. As food was often placed in the centre of a scene and is a theatrical element in many art works of late Renaissance paintings, it is also very often central to a relaxing holiday, especially in Italy. Chef’s “still life” menu drawing on the origins of the painter offers delicious traditional recipes from the region of Lombardia to enjoy after a day dedicated to following the art trail. Whether you are an art lover or not, there are many joys to discover in Rome and staying at the historic Regina Hotel Baglioni, built in Liberty style on the via Veneto in 1904 and named after Queen Margaret of Savoy, delivers a combination of legendary Italian hospitality and style, beautifully enhanced by the recent renovation programme completed in 2009. This prestigious hotel with it’s impeccable service and very central location has a number of attractive short break and weekend packages available all offering different ideas and including accommodation, a delicious buffet breakfast and an upgrade upon availability. The 103 luxury rooms and elegant suites, the exclusive Spa, the stylish Brunello Lounge & Restaurant with its superb cuisine, the top floor Sala Belvedere, that hosts events and meetings offering a wonderful view over the city, all benefit from great attention to detail and personalized service. These elements go together to make the Regina Hotel Baglioni one of the top, luxury hotels in Rome. The Regina Hotel Baglioni belongs to the Baglioni Group, created in 1973, and today has 15 properties in Italy (Bologna, Florence, Milan, Rome, Verona, Venice and Punta Ala) and France (Aix-en-Provence, Champillon-Epernay, Saint Paul de Vence, Mirambeau-Borbeaux, Bort L’Etang Auvergne) and UK (London). With its headquarters in Milan today the group has 800 employees.
Apr 04, 2010 ceskenoviny.cz Four Seasons Hotel Prague
Medvedev arrives for Prague US-Russia summit, to meet Klaus today
Prague - The plane with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev landed in Prague this evening, on the eve of Thursday´s U.S.-Russia summit where he and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama are to sign a new nuclear arms reduction treaty.
This evening Medvedev will meet Czech President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle. Medvedev arrived in Prague from Bratislava. At Prague´s Ruzyne airport he was met by Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout. This is his first visit to the Czech Republic. Before the Medvedev-Klaus meeting, the two presidents will give a briefing. After their meeting, Klaus will host a gala dinner for Medvedev, which is to be attended by Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer and other Czech politicians and diplomats. Medvedev will spend the night in the Four Seasons hotel in the centre of Prague. He is to leave Prague on Thursday afternoon. Obama is expected to arrive in Prague on Thursday morning and stay until Friday. In Slovakia, Medvedev discussed mainly economic cooperation with the Slovak hosts. Moreover, he and his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gasparovic issued a statement on friendly relations on the 65th anniversary of the Victory. No similar document is expected to be signed during Medvedev´s stay in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, Medvedev could use his meeting with Klaus to confirm a gradual improvement in Czech-Russian relations following the scrapping by Washington of its plan to install an anti-missile radar base on Czech soil last autumn. Klaus´s visit to Russia last year was held in a similar atmosphere. Klaus and Medvedev could mainly discuss trade today. Klaus is known as an advocate of more intense relations with Russia, which is the Czech Republic´s crucial partner in view of oil and gas imports. At the same time, Russian companies´ interest in investing in the Czech Republic is growing. Prague is yet to make a final decision on the big order for the extension of the Temelin nuclear power plant, south Bohemia, in which Russia´s Atomostroyexport is interested, as is the U.S. company Westinghouse. While on a visit to Moscow last year, Klaus said "it is good that a significant Russian company tries to assist in further development of nuclear energy industry in the Czech Republic."
Apr 04, 2010 foodepedia Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Alan King says farewell to The Park, as Bar Boulud opens at The Mandarin Oriental in May
t was with sadness that I learned some months ago that The Park Restaurant at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge was closing, I have never written about The Park, though it has held a special place in my heart for some eight years now, long before I started writing for foodepedia, or for london-eating prior to that. Indeed it was my association with The Park that led me into reviewing restaurants. I was invited to a reception at the hotel, having been a regular visitor to The Park and it was this that led to me meeting and talking to Nick Harman the then editor of london-eating and now editor of foodepedia.
My eight year affair with this restaurant, that boasts fantastic views across Hyde Park, started in 2002 when my partner, Phillip Azevedo and I would book the odd afternoon off work to take advantage of what seemed to be excellent offers on Top Table. Indeed some offers were great, others less so, but when we first went to The Park it delivered on all levels. Their offering at the time was a three course lunch from their a la carte menu with unlimited wine of the sommeliers’ choosing for some £35 per head. Many is the time that we sat down overlooking Hyde Park at soon after mid-day and enjoyed excellent dished from The Park’s kitchen and then found ourselves still there at 4.00 pm having had a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable meal and afternoon in this very civilised space. Some of our favourites among their starters were their soft shell crab, deep fried with dipping sauces and other accompaniments; divine beef carpaccio, lovely dim sum and their sashimi (with salmon and tuna). Among their mains, their blackened cod, was always superb and moistly flaky, their burger and chips excellent, the nasi goreng, always great and their tandoori chicken, sublime. Over the years their lunch (and dinner) with wine offering has varied, but it has always been remarkably good value, in our view and still is on offer there. Over the years Phillip and I have together, or separately, taken many friends and colleagues to The Park, many of whom have loved the place and returned on their own as regulars, some who have reminded us from time to time that we should go there again, which have always been happy to arrange. We have enjoyed many celebrations there including our civil partnership celebratory lunch, when 12 of us enjoyed a wonderful afternoon there in August 2008. It has been part of our lives for what seems, in a good way, to be a lot longer than eight years and we will miss it, the excellent food and the wonderful staff. You might wonder why I have never written about it before, but the reason is simple, it would have seemed odd writing about a place that I have felt I had a personal relationship with, like an old friend. When The Park closes in early May I will have a tear of sadness in my eye but will have many fond memories of relaxed afternoons, laughter and celebrations there. The news is not all bad though. There are exciting things afoot for The Mandarin Oriental. Daniel Boulud, owner of the three Michelin starred Daniel restaurant in Manhattan, will be opening Bar Boulud in the basement area where a restaurant is being created immediately below The Park and it’s sister Foliage (which closed for business some three weeks ago). Bar Boulud is scheduled to open on 6 May this year, according to the latest news on The Mandarin Oriental’s web site. Its design will be a French inspired bistro/wine bar and it will have an entrance directly onto Knightsbridge. The restaurant ares is designed to seat some 165 people and will have a full bistro style menu on offer including signature terrines and pates made on site. It will have a focus on the Burgundy and Rhone Valley wines as well as New World wines made in their style. We look forward to seeing this development when it opens. It will be when Bar Boulud opens that The Park will close for business and work will begin on amalgamating the restaurant with Foliage, to create a new 140 seat restaurant which will be run by Heston Blumenthal. The new restaurant promises to deliver Blumenthal’s unique style of cuisine, influenced by his continuing research into historic British gastronomy. There is no date set for the opening of this new partnership between Blumenthal and The Mandarin Oriental, other than the projection that it will open in the Autumn, but this is certainly something to look forward to at this conveniently placed central London location. So, it is with sadness tinged with excitement that I will say farewell to The Park, but look forward to the exciting times ahead. I will undoubtedly be making at least one more visit there before its closure and would encourage anyone else to do so. For me, it is a special place.
Apr 04, 2010 Ann Scott Associates Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano
Italian 2* Michelin Chef comes to Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Bath, 11th – 16th May 2010
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa is delighted to announce that two Michelin starred guest chef Norbert Niederkofler will be creating his local Italian and international delicacies at Michelin starred The Park restaurant, and The Brasserie, Lucknam Park, from 11th – 16th May 2010. Chef Niederkofler will be working alongside the award winning Head Chef at Lucknam Park, Hywel Jones. Chef Niederkofler is Head Chef at acclaimed St Hubertus restaurant at the charming Relais & Chateaux family-owned Rosa Alpina in the Dolomites. Chef Niederkofler’s cooking fuses inherently Italian recipes with flavours from his South Tyrolean heritage and strong hints of neighbouring Austria’s cuisine.
Chef Niederkofler’s menu for The Park and The Brasserie will include mouth-watering dishes such as: The Park Millefeuille of deer with liquorice, kumquats and celery mousse Fillet of venison with pine needles-potatoes, braised shallots and royal jelly sauce The Brasserie Burrata from Puglia with endives, over tomatoes and anchovies Bear’s garlic gnocchi with crayfish The Brasserie á la carte lunch menu is up to £40 for 3 courses. The á la carte dinner menu in The Park starts from £66 for three course. In addition to this there will be a tasting menu in The Park, at £86 for dinner. The tasting menus will be complimented by a handpicked selection of wines. All above prices exclude the cost of beverages Overnight stay at Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa starts from £295 per room per night (include VAT and subject to change). Six miles from Bath, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa is set in five hundred acres of gardens and parkland in the heart of the countryside. The Park restaurant offers superb Michelin star cuisine. The Spa, opened in November 2008, sets a new standard of luxury for country house hotels and is home to The Brasserie which has a wonderful open kitchen and wood-fired oven. Many awards testify to its excellence – Michelin Star, AA 5 Red Stars and the Visit Britain Gold Award. For more information on St Hubertus and the Rosa Alpina please visit www.rosalpina.it
Apr 04, 2010 BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY GROUP Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy, Florence
Florence's Famous Food Fair, Part II
By Faith Willinge: a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. I knew the fair in Florence would be impossible to navigate on Sunday, so I focused on Fuori Taste events. In the afternoon I visited Carapina's new shop and tasted gelato made with Mieli Thun's superb honey, then tasted a spoonful of crystallized ivy honey, with its complex, evolving flavors. I also went for an aperitivo at the Hotel Savoy.
he bar has huge windows overlooking Piazza della Repubblica, with some of the city's best people-watching. Snacks were prepared by consulting chef Fulvio Pierangelini (he closed his highly esteemed restaurant a few years ago) with products from the fair: a mini-portion of red shrimp and zucchini risotto with rice from Cascina Veneria; Monte Veronese cheeses and Formaggio Ubriaco (macerated in wine must for a month, then aged for another six) from La Casera; a slice of spalla from Macelleria Savigni. The maitre d' claimed they made the best Martini in Florence. How could I say no? Then I went to La Buca del Orafo for an event entitled "Knowing Baccalà," sponsored by Schooner, although I'd never heard of the chef, Angelo Torcigliani, and had my doubts. But he treated the product with respect and made a flawless dinner: Lofoten Islands stoccafisso (air-dried, not salted) brandade; Norwegian raw baccalà dressed with extra virgin olive oil; and Faroe Islands baccalà salad; followed by pasta mista (mixed shapes of pasta used for soup, a personal favorite); Sorana beans and slightly smoky baccalà bottarga that was truly impressive; and Faroe Islands baccalà filet with smashed potatoes (not pureed, with real texture) and tarragon oil. I promised to visit Angelo's restaurant, open two nights a week at his gastronomic grocery, as soon as possible. The hot topic of Monday morning's roundtable discussion with scientists and chef Massimiliano Alajmo was a new Italian ordinance prohibiting the use of additives in restaurants. The ordinance appears to be a reaction to the popular TV program "Striscia la Notizia," a parody news show that attacked new-wave Italian chefs adopting hydrocolloids. The ordinance singles out restaurants, but pastry shops, gelaterie, and home cooks can still use the same compounds, and industrial food producers can use the additives because there's an internal safety engineer monitoring all processes. (Why doesn't that make me feel safe?) Powdered stock and bouillon cubes with MSG are technically banned, which would mean that many, many restaurants would have to change their habits. Everyone on the panel agreed that the ordinance couldn't become law because it was filled with contradictions. Then, it was time for a final stroll through the aisles. I met Sardinian Stefano Rocca and tasted his bottarga—pale pink, sliced, and ground like powder to sprinkle on pasta or beans. Best of all was a jarred sauce pairing bottarga and sea urchin, served on Sardinian flatbread (pane carasau) but perfect for pasta, a must for my pantry. I also tasted 'nduja, a spreadable spicy Calabrian sausage from Luigi Caccamo, and headed to Zago's stand for one of my favorite artisanal Italian beers—unpasteurized and malty. Refreshed, I was ready to leave but was distracted by Chianina cattle pictures at Macelleria Ricci. I quizzed owner-butcher Enrico Ricci about his animals. Free range IGT Chianina, all additional feed from their farm. Satisfied with his answers, I had a taste, and promised to visit him in Trequanda (SI). As a founding member, I had to stop by the Donne del Vino dinner at Villa Bardini with three of Florence's best women chefs—Benedetta Vitali, Beatrice Segoni, and Giovanna Iorio. I had a glass of wine with Donna del Vino members Beatrice Contini, Emanuele Stucchi, and Cristina Nonino, and gossiped with the chefs in the kitchen, but I went home for dinner. I was Taste-ed out.
Apr 04, 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited The Ritz London
Bento beats bacon in the battle for the coolest breakfast
The Ritz has altered its dress code of 100 years to allow guests to wear jeans. But only to breakfast, mind, in the hope that the hotel will "see more bookings", a spokesperson explained. This is the latest proof that when it comes to hotels, all the innovation is taking place around the breakfast table. Until recently the choice was simple: full English or continental. But the first meal of the day has taken centre stage. "Breakfast used to be eggs done three ways. But lately there's been a shift towards more interesting ingredients," says Guy Dimond, food and drink editor at Time Out.
It started, in London anyway, with breakfast bento boxes, available on request for Japanese guests at Claridge's, The Berkeley and The Dorchester. Last summer, the revamped Langham Hotel put morning miso soup on its regular menu. Rival hotels followed and the breakfast race began – some Marriotts now offer tofu at dawn. For hearty appetites, The Lancaster's brekkie-behemoth includes lobster club sandwiches, burritos and a "breakfast dessert trolley". The Connaught's cult Sunday brunch opens with an egg-based appetizer, followed by a main and, finally, treats from the waffle station. Those of a more delicate constitution should sample The Montcalm's Canape Breakfast – a banquet of fried quails eggs, hash brown petit fours and bloody mary shots. Details are all important – Claridge's offers a seasonal "jam list", while Gleneagles in Scotland gussies up its porridge with Drambuie-soaked raspberries. At Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, bespoke muesli is mixed daily by the chef – you can follow it with a sirloin steak at 8am. It's the decadence that appeals, says Ben McCormack, editor of Squaremeal.co.uk. "Breakfast offers the chance to eat things you'd never dream of making at home, for health reasons or laziness." Breakfast is also the perfect recession treat. The Lancaster's feast weighs in at £28 for three courses, The Montcalm charges £19.95 for all the canapes you can eat, and breakfast dishes at new Soho hotspot Dean Street Townhouse start at £2. If it all sounds like too much trouble, The Berkeley delivers Sunday breakfast to London homes – £60, but it will probably keep you going until mid-afternoon.
Apr 04, 2010 Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
The Pool at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas Debuts New Look this Summer
Makeover to include Daydream Sofas and revamped pool-bar menu. The lushly landscaped private pool at AAA Five Diamond Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, long a relaxing respite for guests, will debut a fresh new look and feel this summer. The makeover is expected to make its debut in June 2010.
Featuring a crisp blue-and-green colour palette, the all-new pool furniture on the recently refurbished pool deck will include spacious covered Orbitz Loungers and comfortable Daydream Sofas, creating a modern club-like atmosphere. Additional touches will include self-service water and sunscreen stations and an espresso machine offering an array of iced coffee drinks. A revamped pool-bar menu will offer innovative mixed drinks and cocktails named after notable Las Vegas sites, as well as a selection of light sandwiches, salads and fresh fruit. A favourite among guests, signature Four Seasons poolside services will remain, with pool attendants continuing to offer complimentary amenities such as chilled Evian mist, cold towels, ice water, cucumber slices for the eyes and sliced fruit. “The pool at Four Seasons is a place where relaxation and pampering take centre stage,” says Martin Kipping, director of food and beverage. “We will continue to provide that atmosphere for our guests, while our modern new look and added amenities will enhance their experience.” The pool at Four Seasons is open only to guests of Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. Four Seasons guests are also invited to visit the adjacent Mandalay Bay Resort’s 11-acre (4.5-hectare) tropical water environment, which features a sand-and-surf beach, a lazy river ride and a variety of swimming pools.
Apr 04, 2010 independent.co.uk Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome, Berlin
The Hedonist: Berlin
By Tremayne Carew-Pole from Hg2 luxury city guides It's 8am, the start of a new day, the sun is streaming into my blurry eyes and I'm feeling dehydrated. As I shade my eyes I can see the entrance queue moving slowly forward and clubbers who don't look the part being turned away. The tall man next to me, clad from head-to-toe in leather, certainly looks the part; I begin to fret about my attire and especially the polo shirts of my new German friends. We've torn the city apart, moving slowly further east in a celebration of dawn – and now all I can think about is sheltering my eyes from the glare of the sun.
This is our eighth club of the night and there's a need for one last dance, clinging to the last vestiges of consciousness before stumbling back to the quiet of my hotel for two days' worth of recuperation. To keep time ticking over as I wait, I mentally retrace my steps from the previous 24 hours. Life started in Berlin when I arrived at my deliciously comfortable hotel, Rocco Forte's Hotel de Rome. The former home of Dresdner Bank, it is now a super-stylish five-star edifice perfectly located in Mitte – the centre of Berlin. The elegant décor, discreet service and comfortable rooms prove ideal for a decadent weekend. Instead of dining at the hotel's well-regarded Italian Paroli restaurant I decide to step outside the door and into the real, edgy world of Berlin and head for dinner at – one of the city's hot destinations that mixes glamour with absurdity, sex with humour; a collaboration between a nightclub impresario and an art dealer. The juicy steaks and the plump oysters recharge my flagging body and prepare me for the tumult to come. Eschewing after-dinner drinks, I head out of the door and hit Greenwich Bar – a New York-style cocktail bar with elongated linear fish tanks and padded lime-green walls where the bar staff sort me out with a few of their more potent cocktails. The glamorous, laid-back clientele is as good to look at as the cocktails are to drink. But I must move on deeper into the dark German night and on to some serious seediness. I stop off at Clarchens Ballroom for a drink and warm up for the night with some cheesy dancing. I feel as if I have stumbled in on a cheap wedding: silver tassels line the walls and a crowd of all ages are dancing to some thigh-slapping classics. Nearby, a "cougar" seems to be dancing, rather inappropriately, with a younger man, while a group of his friends look on giggling. The ballroom has seen better times, in fact the upstairs function room still displays shrapnel and bullet damage from the Second World War. Finding it all a little too surreal, I am guided by my German friend with the smart polo shirt to a dark metal gate. After satisfying a burly man lurking in the shadows about our cool credentials, we gain access to the Rodeo Club. Perched above a post office, it boasts a cupola-domed restaurant/dance hall, hidden VIP rooms and the rather shabby and sweaty techno room. This is the Berlin I am really looking for – underground, undercover and a little too cool for school. By now it's 2am and I've only really been to three bars. I'd made some bold statements earlier about hitting the city with a vengeance and have some boasts to live up to. The next five hours blur into a mix of student bars down by the river, the largest outdoor club in Berlin (which seems to be having a quiet night), and a club that is far too important to even consider letting me in. We end up outside Berghain/Panorama Bar, a temple to hardcore industrial techno. God knows how, but we're let in. What was once a factory is now a huge industrial club space on three levels – the first floor is home to the hardest repetitive beats I've ever heard and I see the tall man in leather dancing like a man possessed. The second floor seems a little more melodic and we join the crowd shuffling our feet and hiding from the sun pressing against the blacked-out panels of the window for succour. Finally, I can do no more – it's 10am and time for bed.
Apr 04, 2010 Easier Inc Regina Hotel Baglioni Rome
Holidays for every taste in luxury Italian style
With the arrival of spring guests of the Baglioni group of hotels can take advantage of a wide range of special, tailor made experiences to enhance their stay. These range from the excitement of driving luxury sports cars through Italy, to wine tasting, shopping opportunities and nights at the opera.
Driving experience in Rome, Florence, Milan and Bologna: for car enthusiasts and lovers of Italian style, the Regina Hotel Baglioni in Rome, the Relais Santa Croce and the Hotel Bernini Palace in Florence, the Carlton Hotel Baglioni in Milan and the Grand Hotel Baglioni in Bologna offer exclusive stays to experience the thrills of driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini in Italy. Every morning, an expert driver - at the wheel of a seperate car, which is constantly in touch with you by a mobile radio system - will lead you in your chosen vehicle through the Italian countryside. You will make stops in charming small villages, enjoy delicious Italian food and visit vineyards along the way. For an even longer and deeper driving experience, a special 6 night itinerary joins together the cities of Rome, Florence and Milan. Music in Verona: for those wishing to experience a performance in the Verona Arena, the Due Torri Hotel Baglioni offers the chance to hear the world’s greatest singers on the occasion of the 88th season of the Opera Festival.: enjoy a wonderful room, a warm welcome with sparkling wine, a tasty buffet breakfast and, before the concert, a gala dinner in the hotel’s prestigious restaurant. Concerts featuring Alicia Keys, Michael Bublè, Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder are also scheduled for the summer. Shopping, in Venice and Milan: the many and varied boutiques of Venice with their wide range of fashions, world famous Murano glassware and stunning jewellery are a delight for those who love to shop. At the Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice you will find a warm and sophisticated atmosphere, with a special gift in the room on the arrival, an aperitif at the Caffè Baglioni, a wonderful breakfast served in the enchanting Salone Marco Polo and a tour with a personal shopper. To conclude the experience, try your luck with complimentary entrance to the famous Venice Casino. An inviting combination of shopping, culture and gastronomy is offered by the Carlton Hotel Baglioni. You may enjoy a tour of the famous fashion district with a private guide for 3 hours or a cultural tour of the city. Add on a visit to the painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, a SPA treatment and a dinner on the Baglioni Terrace. Art and culture in Venice, Florence, Rome and Aix-en-Provence: if art and cultural experiences are your preference, the Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice offers the opportunity to visit the most important attractions in San Marco and, the famous Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal. Delicious lunches and dinners in the hotel’s award winning Canova restaurant will make your stay even more delightful. On the other hand, the Relais Santa Croce suggests visits to historical places that are normally closed to the public, such as Palazzo Pitti and the Ferragamo Museum, or, to a small jewellery workshop or to the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica of Santa Maria Novella, where the perfumes conceived for the court of the Medici family are still kept and produced. In Rome, the Regina Hotel Baglioni offers guests the opportunity to admire the works of Caravaggio, whose most important paintings are celebrated in a special exhibition from the 20th of February to the 13th of June at the Scuderie del Quirinale. A 3 hour itinerary in search of the churches that still keep his paintings and, focusing on the origin of the artist, inviting and delicious tastings of dishes from the region of Lombardia. Still with art, this time in France, where Villa Gallici suggests an interesting Cézanne discovery route with a guided tour of Aix-en-Provence and Saint Victoir Mountain, places that the artist loved and painted or, perhaps a visit to his famous studios. Villa Gallici has a chic elegance and stylish, intimate atmosphere and will welcome you with handmade delicacies and a dinner under the plane trees of the terrace. Food and wine in Florence and in Mirambeau-Bordeaux: those loving the pleasures of the table can enjoy the 8 Star Emotional Gourmet Experience, 5 stars of the Relais Santa Croce and 3 Michelin stars of the Enoteca Pinchiorri combine in tasting dinners showcasing both Tuscan food and it’s wine culture with luxury rooms, frescoed halls and historical Florentine works of art. For wine lovers, Chateau de Mirambeau suggests a holiday dedicated to oenology, with visits to the vineyards and to the famous wine and cognac producing firms of the area. Private tasting of the local Bordeaux wines with the sommelier. Golf and family in Punta Ala: golf lovers can celebrate the arrival of the first warmth of spring with a holiday at the Baglioni Residence Alleluja in Punta Ala in the Tuscan Maremma. Beside one of the most important courses in Europe, with 18 holes par 72, Residence Alleluja offers warm hospitality, comfort and elegance: welcome cocktails, a luxury room or apartment, free access to the private beach services, sauna and Jacuzzi. For those who don’t play golf there is a beautiful swimming pool set in lush gardens to relax by with the family. Family in London: for those wishing to spend time with the family, the Baglioni Hotel London offers luxury communicating rooms, a free dvd film selection, buffet breakfast, London Eye tickets, complimentary use of bicycles, Nintendo Wii or Playstation for the whole stay.
Apr 04, 2010 The Globe and Mail Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel Paris
DESIGNER DESSERT
There is a profusion of hotel restaurants bearing the imprimaturs of star chefs, from Jean-Georges Vongerichten to Susur Lee. But the Café de la Paix at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel has found a new way to brand its food:
It offers a dessert with a look created by fashion designer Thierry Mugler. The Pop Fizz cake (with white chocolate and bright tints of green tea mousse and yuzu fruit cream) is available this summer for $20, which is probably more affordable than any other Mugler work.
Apr 04, 2010 mirror.co.uk The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul
Bazaar and the beautiful
By Graham Brough 3/04/2010 The East-meets-West delights of Istanbul wowed GRAHAM BROUGH and his family This year it's called the European Capital of Culture 2010 but over the centuries its names have included Constantinople and Byzantium. Frankly, Istanbul is so magnificent and complete a city it can be whatever it wants. Centuries of history seep from every pore of this beautiful metropolis, poised at the end of Europe and the beginning of Asia.
Its Greek, Roman, Turkish, Christian and Muslim roots have intertwined to leave a cultural and architectural richness that staggers, baffles and, ultimately, endears. And as well as straddling centuries, cultures and continents, its fascination also seems to straddle generations. "Istanbul is the best holiday we've ever had," said our girls, as we bobbed on a ferry across the wide blue Bosphorus, a sea lane that forms the spine of the city, built on three land masses separated by salt water - one on a different continent. The location, quite reasonably, was the envy of the world for a millennium. There are no theme parks - just a couple of thousand years of history loaded on a few European and Asian hills facing each other over the water. But to a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, this could not be better. The beauty, atmosphere, history and new sights and smells was far more fascinating than the usual plasticky attractions kids seem drawn to. We adults agreed. And for all the same reasons - beautiful mosques, palace buildings, museums, boats and bridges on the sparkling waters. Turkey's largest city is nothing like the image I had beforehand of smoky, noisy bedlam and street hawkers in dark, dodgy alleyways. Instead, it is a proud, noble, majestic city to rival Rome for layout and history - and to rival London and Paris for urban diversity and buzz. Yet none of its competitors has such an awe-inspiring location. We marvelled at the ferry and boat traffic - huge tankers plough the waters down from the Black Sea and jostle with tiny commuter ferries that ping office workers between home and office for 60p a throw. Each morning, I swept the massive curtains open to enjoy the panoramic sea views from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel just above the Dolmabahce Palace, then I went back to bed to enjoy this huge seascape spectacle of metal and surf, against a background of elegant and dignified mosque domes and minarets. I love cities that live up to and exceed expectations. Istanbul is topnotch in that respect - I thought San Francisco a fizzing dud. Like gorgeous girls, though, cities such as Istanbul know they are beautiful and assume you will adore them - almost as a birthright. Istanbul's residents, too, are possessed of a slightly arrogant assumption that you like what you see and covet their good fortune in living there. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel's privileged location, above the banks of the Bosphorus, helps hold up a mirror to the city's vanity, too. The exotic meats, cheeses and pastries we had for breakfast in the hotel were set against a backdrop of more stunning views - and how the staff managed to remember our names after just a few days I have yet to work out. The service and the sumptuous rooms became a large part of the holiday. For the first time in our lives, we actually enjoyed getting back to a hotel. In the end, our daughters were so moved by the staff's courtesy that they wrote a little letter of thanks to them. The kids were barely recognisable - no moaning, never bored, amazed by everything they saw, entranced by the hotel and its smiling staff. In for a penny, I figured, as I had a Turkish massage in the hotel's lovely, huge Laveda Spa and was pain-free and relaxed for the first time in months. My wife, meantime, had a Turkish Hamam allover body wash on a heated and raised tiled dais. I have still not dared ask if the skilled, traditionally-trained attendant was male or female. All I know is that we both reappeared some time later, pink and clean as new-born whippets. The tram ride into the old city to see the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia the next day was clean, quick and super-cheap, the people helpful and polite, and the bridge ride over Golden Horn bay was spectacular. The only way I can describe the two most famous mosques in Europe is to say what happened to me: "Jaw drops, lump in throat, shivers up spine and inability to look away for hours." The Topkapi Palace was home to the Ottoman Sultans and Viziers for 500 years. Now it's half-museum, halfdream world. For a few quid you walk through the bathrooms and chambers of the sultans and his wives and concubines in the harem as if 400 years have just slipped off the calendar. The museum itself is packed with gold and precious stones that make our own Queen's look like so-so trinkets. Gob-smacking treasures such as the prophet Muhammad's sword and St John the Baptist's skull just defy belief. After six hours of trawling though marvel after marvel, we suddenly realised that we had forgotten to eat - but not once did the girls complain or want to skip any of the enchanting rooms. It was like watching them grow up all of a sudden: bored girls suddenly engrossed by history, culture, beauty, architecture - without me lifting a finger to try to animate or motivate them. This year, to mark Capital of Culture year the museum's treasures are also being boosted by priceless items from the Kremlin in Moscow. We were beaten to a pulp by fatigue but still had to see the Basilica Cistern, a huge underground lake built by the Romans to with stand long sieges of the city. We had almost skipped this extra wonder but came out wide-eyed at the beauty of its ancient engineering, huge brick columns dipping into watery mirror images of the softly-lit arches above. Next day, seeking refuge from the strong sun we dived into the massive Grand Bazaar, on the hill above the mosques, and wandered the mesmerising arcades before sipping strong sweet tea and nibbling kebabs. Later, we took a ferry to Uskudar on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, where Florence Nightingale had worked her wonders during the Crimean War. It cost 60p a ticket to get over the Bosphorus. I had a burger and a yoghurt drink from a kiosk. It cost 60p. We took a ferry back to our hotel, backlit by the sunset. It cost another 60p. I realised I had been to Asia and back for a meal, for just £1.80! It's odd to think that we only went to Istanbul because the euro exchange rate had become so expensive and we got some easyJet flights for £90 per person. The Ritz-Carlton was a luxury and more than four days there would cost a lot of dough - but for a honeymoon or a short break it was amazing and set the magical tone for some unforgettable, wonderful days - a real Turkish delight.
Apr 04, 2010 Baglioni Hotels Newsletter April 2010 Luna Hotel Baglioni
SPECIAL EVENTS IN VENICE
EXHIBITIONS: THE PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION TURNS 30 YEARS Upcoming exhibitions: Until 30th May 2010 PEGGY AND SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM. THE AVANT-GARDES OF ABSTRACTION 1st May–25th July 2010 UTOPIA MATTERS: FROM BROTHERHOODS TO BAUHAUS MUSIC & CONCERTS From 3rd until 6th July 2010 Special Heineken Jammin Festival in Venice
4 days of rock in Venice with International Artists and Bands 3rd July 2010: - Aerosmith - The Cranberries - Stereophonics 4th July 2010: - Green Day - 30 Second To Mars - Rise Against 5th July 2010: - The Black Eyed Peas - Massive Attack 6th July 2010: - Pearl Jam - Ben Harper & The Relentless - Skunk Anansie - Gossip - Wolfmother
Apr 04, 2010 The Vancouver Sun Four Seasons Resort, Whistler
Restaurant review: Whistler's Four Seasons is mainly about the meat
Fifty Two 80 Bistro BY MIA STAINSBY, VANCOUVER SUN VANCOUVER -- When I reviewed Fifty Two 80 Bistro in the Four Seasons Resort Hotel in Whistler six years ago, it shone in its newness. It flexed its youthful muscle and disarmed me. I got carried away, with good reason, and used adjectives such as gorgeous, artful and sublime in describing the food. There’ve been a couple of changing of the guards in the kitchen since Jason McLeod revved up that kitchen. Just before the Olympics this year, the menu shifted its target to a more carnivorous market and pitched itself as a modern steak house.
Soon a news release will announce a name change to reflect the ode to steaks — quality steaks at that. Executive chef Scott Thomas Dolbee sources Alberta prime grade, aged 40 days (all the better for tenderizing and flavour), and he’s installed an infrared grill. “It cooks the meat consistently, perfectly and really, really quickly,” says Dolbee. The menu isn’t as ambitious or creative or refined as it once was, so it’s disappointing in that way, but the quality remains, and some servings, I found, are outsized. Bone-in braised Angus beef shortribs were actually boneless, but the meat was succulent and had great flavour. I suppose when it comes to steak houses, it’s not out of the question to see plenty of meat on the plate. There was, I’d say, about 10 ounces, lapped in a very good sauce. On the topic of sauces, it’s a bit of a flavour cacophony. You choose one of six rubs and then six sauces are delivered with the meal. I ordered B.C. spot prawns, and these beautiful creatures demand little more than air kisses of sauce. I chose a rub I thought would go with seafood — lemon Buddha rub — and added creme fraiche bearnaise sauce. The prawns were like ballet dancers forced to tango. When it comes to the seafood, especially, the kitchen should do the layering and composing of flavours. Both starters we tried were more interesting than the usual on a steak house menu. Both the wild mushroom agnolotti carbonara with pea shoots, pecorino cheese and prosciutto and a house-cured salmon “pastrami” with roasted beets, were finely prepared. The meal starts to add up as veggies and starch must be ordered separately at about $6 a pop. That said, a poached egg and grilled asparagus side dish was great. A perfect, round egg atop the asparagus, spilled out a yolky sauce, once punctured. Fingerling potato and bacon lyonnaise was a great sidekick to the meat dish. A dessert we shared was meant to be a reformed black forest cake, but in my opinion, it went awry. It was a 14-layer (including the chocolate buttercream icing layers) chocolate cake with a dollop of cherry sorbet and another of whipped cream. The cake was way too big and heavy, especially as it was separated from the lusciousness of whipped cream and kirsch and saucy cherries. The wine list is substantive, with lots of offerings by the glass, and the service comes with cheerful chit-chat, menu comprehension and a smile.
Mar 03, 2010 HELLO! Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy
Learn the secrets of pasta in a Tuscan villa
For singletons or for couples, perfect for an all-girls' holiday or a chance for the inexperienced to finally get to grips with the cooking pots... all of the cookery courses at Villa San Michele offer the opportunity to discover the secrets of the Italian cuisine; there are even courses suitable for kids.
Overlooking the great Renaissance city of Florence from one of the surrounding hills, the Villa San Michele was originally a monastery built in the fifteenth century by the Franciscans on land donated in the middle of a forest by the great Davanzati dynasty. After the dissolution of the monastic orders imposed by Napoleon in the early nineteenth century, it was transformed into a private residence, and so it continued until 1982. Then, this building that is classed as National Monument and boasts a façade attributed to Michelangelo, was re-opened as an exquisite hotel with its own school of cookery. Since the Chef Attilio Di Fabrizio took the reins five years ago, all kinds of "kitchen assistants" have attended, from groups of girlfriends wanting to learn the secrets of homemade al dente pasta, kitchen rookies who are afraid the pans will bite, couples sharing a love of good food, and even children, taking their first steps on the gastronomic ladder. Each year, from April through to the end of October, the monastery's old lemon-drying room becomes the stage for these brief adventures in the culinary arts where each participant, under the supervision of the chef, has the hands-on experience of preparing the starter, main dish and dessert that they will later enjoy along with their fellow learners in the restaurant, with views over Florence, that occupies the aristocratic loggia of the villa. The shortest of the courses is a single morning and is also open to those who are not fortunate enough to be staying at the hotel itself. In just over 2 hours, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, Di Fabrizio teaches groups - never more than ten students at a time - to prepare dishes that can easily be reproduced back at home. Dishes such as the typical Tuscan panzanella or potato gnocchi carefully kneaded by hand and accompanied by a deceptively simply tomato and basil sauce. Not forgetting the desserts such as tiramisu, of course. The four-day Symphony of Pasta course is exclusively for guests at the villa and includes three nights lodging. As well as a class with Di Fabrizio focusing on Tuscan specialities, Domenico Di Raffaele of the Hotel Caruso in Ravello teaches some of the most typical Mediterranean dishes of the south of Italy, and Renato Piccolotto, Chef at Venice's Hotel Cipriani, brings his international experience to the table. Also scheduled through the year are brief forays into the delights of local wines under the guidance of the Villa's sommelier, special courses for kids aged eight to 14 and others designed specifically for singles interested in eating well without spending long hours in the kitchen. For this years programme, there's a new offer launched with the title Heart in a dish, where a chef, a cardiologist and an immunologist will join together to compose menus as healthy as they are tasty. Try your hand at panzanella All you need to prepare this typical Tuscany peasant salad is: 250 grammes of day-old bread (preferably good quality unsalted baker's bread such as ciabatta, not medium sliced), 120 gm of tomatoes, de-seeded and diced, 30 gm of onion and 100 gm of cucumber, both diced, 1 dl of extra virgin olive oil and the same quantity of white wine vinegar, salt and a bunch of fresh basil. Dilute the vinegar in a bowl with a couple of litres of cold water, and put the bread to soak. Mix the chopped vegetables in a bowl. When the bread is ready, squeeze as much water as possible out of it and shred it roughly. Add to the vegetables and mix together with the oil and salt to taste. Just before serving, shred five large basil leaves and add to the mixture. Use two large spoons to arrange three spoonfuls of the salad in a star shape on each plate with a sprig of basil in the centre. Getting there The former monastery of Villa San Michele, a national monument and now exclusive hotel with just 46 rooms, is set among the woods and gardens of the Fiesole hill around 15 minutes from the centre of the city of Florence. Free transport to the city s provided for guests several times a day. Courses The programme, price and full description of courses on offer can be found on the hotel web page villasanmichele.com. The shortest, which takes place in a single morning and is open to non-guests, costs 170€ and includes a meal in the restaurant with the dishes featured in the class with the chef. The highlight of the 2010 season is the Heart in a dish course which teaches healthy cuisine under the supervision of a chef and health experts. The price of 1,870€ is per person in double room and includes three nights half board. Additional nights can be reserved.
Mar 03, 2010 HOTELS MOBILE The Dorchester Hotel London
Dorchester Collection Sponsors Fashion Design Competition
First-ever Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, debut of Luxury Traveler handbag by Louise Hempleman, and new hat collections by Fashion Ambassador Stephen Jones make the year ahead the group's most fashionable yet.
The Dorchester Collection will be looking great through the year ahead with three new fashion initiatives to secure the stylishness of its hotels. Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize The Dorchester Collection recently launched its own Fashion Prize, an international accolade recognizing the rising stars of the fashion industry. The £25,000 prize, to be awarded annually starting this year in London and following in New York in 2011, will go to an exceptionally gifted designer of ready-to-wear or premium accessories as seed money for their next collection. Designers can apply at www.dorchestercollection.com from March-June 2010. The winner of the first-ever Dorchester Collection prize will be announced in November 2010 at an awards ceremony at The Dorchester, in London. Applicants must have established design businesses and have operated their brand for two consecutive years in the country in which the prize is based - so, for 2010, all applicants must live and work in the UK. Judges will look for work that evokes the spirit of Dorchester Collection hotels through individuality, luxury, style and craftsmanship. Besides the generous purse, the winner will enjoy accommodation and an event tailored to their needs at a Dorchester Collection hotel of their choice. The judging panel is drawn from the biggest names in fashion, selected by fashion writer Bronwyn Cosgrave, Chair of the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize and ranges from famous shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, style icon The Hon. Daphne Guinness, fashion designers Giles Deacon and Yasmin Le Bon to Milliner Stephen Jones and more. Dorchester Collection Traveler Handbag The smart set will be traveling wisely and fashionably this year with Dorchester Collection's new Luxury Traveler handbag - the perfect size to be used as hand luggage. Renowned English handbag designer Louise Hempleman created this exclusively for Dorchester Collection in a style befitting the world's most iconic hotels. The sleek-black Luxury Traveler is crafted from the finest leather and uniquely detailed with a panel of colored stitching representing the hotel group's five-star hotels. Inside are travel accessories from each Dorchester Collection address: Smythson Travel Book from The Dorchester in London Pink/Blue Pajamas from The Beverly Hills Hotel Leather travel document holder from Le Meurice in Paris Aqua di Parma Products from Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan Red/Black Loewe Slippers from Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris Tiffany Jewelry Box from The New York Palace The Dorchester Collection Luxury Traveler handbag is now available for purchase at the new online shop at www.dorchestercollection.com. Price: £500 Summer Hats for Him & Her Dorchester Collection is delighted to announce the launch of its new Summer Hat collection by celebrated milliner Stephen Jones, OBE. Jones has created a unique line of baseball caps and a modern take on the trilby, inspired by the iconic hotels in the collection. Ideal for summer, both styles are available in trim colors that have long been synonymous with each address: The Dorchester in London - Silver The Beverly Hills Hotel - Pink Le Meurice in Paris - Green Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris - Red Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan - Blue The New York Palace - Gold Coworth Park, Ascot - Orange The Stephen Jones Dorchester Collection summer hats are available online at the individual hotel websites, as well as from on-property boutiques and at the new online shop at www.dorchestercollection.com. Price: £250 ($375 USD) Hats Off to Coworth Park As if Stephen Jones weren't busy enough, the celebrated milliner has also been appointed Fashion Ambassador of Dorchester Collection's new country house estate, Coworth Park, near Ascot. To mark the property's opening in late summer 2010, Jones is designing four couture hats to debut at Ladies Day, Royal Ascot in June, including: The Royal Ascot - A modern interpretation of a ladies dressage top hat inspired by the rich equestrian heritage of Coworth Park, the only hotel in the UK to have its own polo fields and stabling for 40 horses. The Park - A naturalistic peach blossom branch rendered in satin and organza with twinkling highlights, this hat captures the essence of the English countryside and the 240 acre estate in Royal Berkshire where Coworth Park is situated. The Décor Hat - A nod to the woodland setting that inspired Coworth Park's interior designers, Fox Linton Associates, with natural colors and textures of the hotel in leather, linen and copper. The Spa - A translucent rippled reside splash boater hat gilded with precious metals, echoing Coworth Park's eco-luxury spa and pool.
Mar 03, 2010 Le Bristol Newsletter Le Bristol Hotel Paris
Change at Hotel Le Bristol Paris
Mr Pierre Ferchaud, Le Bristol’s Chairman and General Manager for the past 17 years, will end his tenure on June 30. Mr Didier Le Calvez will take over the position. Throughout his tenure, Le Bristol quickly became established as a leading luxury European hotel and was elected "Best Hotel of the World" by "Institutional Investor" magazine in 2008.
Under Ferchaud’s direction, Le Bristol gained recognition for its luxurious accommodation, exclusive amenities and unparalleled highly-personalized service, attracting exceptionally faithful clients. Ferchaud contributed to the success of the hotel’s expansion in September 2009, opening a new chapter in Le Bristol’s history with a seven-story wing and "114 Faubourg" restaurant. It was also under Ferchaud that the hotel’s Executive Chef, Eric Frechon, received his third Michelin star in March 2009. Ferchaud’s colleagues have recognised him as a dynamic and professional leader, constantly attentive to the needs of his team. They wish him great success in his professional and personal endeavours. Le Calvez will join Le Bristol on 29th March. He has been a prominent figure in the luxury hotel industry for 35 years with 18 spent with the "Four Seasons" group. Elected "Hotelkeeper of the Year" in the United States by the "Entrée" magazine in 1996, Le Calvez was also General Manager of the Four Seasons George V in Paris, awarded "Best Hotel of the World" by "Andrew Harper Hideaway Report" for seven years in a row. In 1995, Didier Le Calvez was elected "Director of the Year" in New-York and, in 2006, he received the recognition of his peers by being elected "Best Hotel Director of the World" by "Hospitality Awards".
Mar 03, 2010 le Bristol Newsletter Le Bristol Hotel Paris
114 Faubourg acquires some Italian flair...
Between May 17th and 21st, a gastronomic Italian week will take place at the 114 Faubourg to honour Mediterranean cuisine. During the week, Antonio Guida, the 2 Michelin Star Chef of the beautiful Tuscan Hotel Il Pellicano, will allow guests to discover his key specialties with a special menu of antipasti, risotto and pasta served at lunch and dinner.
The collaboration between Eric Desbordes, Chef of the 114 Faubourg and Chef Antonio Guida promises a gourmand week not to be forgotten. Having post-theatre dinner at 11:30 pm? At 114 Faubourg, nothing is impossible... As Paris is a city rich in entertainment and culture, the 114 Faubourg stands out as one of Paris’ leading restaurants that stays open late. With the option of placing orders until 11:30 pm, guests can prolong their evening enjoying a creative and authentic cuisine. 114 Faubourg Open from 12:30 am to 2:00pm then from 7:30pm to 11:30pm
Mar 03, 2010 NetIndian Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Karan Singh recalls his French Connection
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) President Karan Singh spoke here last night about his not-so-well-known French connection and a sentimental journey he had made to the Mediterranean town of Cannes, famous for its annual film festivals, last month. "By a curious concatenation of circumstances I was born in the Hotel Martinez, one of the leading establishments on the Cote d' azur way back in 1931, well before the Second World War broke out," Dr Karan Singh, the only son of then Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, said.
He was speaking at a function hosted by the Ambassador of France at the French Embassy to bring the curtains down on the Bonjour India Festival, a festival of France in India. Dr Karan Singh, a former Union Minister and now a senior Congress leader, explained that his father was representing the Indian princes at the Round Table Conference in London in 1930. "As I was already in my mother's womb, he decided that they would all go to the salubrious climate of Cannes," he said. "He had taken the entire third floor of the then newly constructed hotel Martinez located on the sea front, and it was in the Suite 318-319-320 that I was born," he said. Dr Karan Singh said that, during his visit last month for the UNESCO Executive Council, he had one day free and had decided to take a brief private trip to Cannes, where he spent a night in the room where he was born. He said he had done this once earlier with his wife half a century ago, but felt that another sentimental journey was indicated. "My mother was a village girl from Kangra, and I kept thinking how she must have felt being suddenly transported into not only in an alien family but in alien country. The hotel is still flourishing, and they were astonished that someone was actually born inside their hotel and returned for a visit almost eight decades later. In fact, the Cannes City Council gave me a special certificate and the local press ran the story in a big way," he said. "I suppose the place of one's birth has something to do not only with past life karma, but also must have some effect upon the present life," he said. "I was brought back to India when I was six weeks old, but the knowledge that I was born in Cannes is indelibly imprinted in my mind because this had to be mentioned in all my school certificates, passports and other official documents. Expecting to be born among the mountains, I found that in fact I was born on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps this fact subconsciously helped me to develop a global consciousness long before the actual process of globalization took place," he said. He said that, because of this, he found himself at home wherever in this world he might travel. "My late wife and I travelled incessantly to all continents(except the Arctic once) for half a century, visiting places as diverse and far-flung as Macchu-Picchu in Peru and Angkor Vat in Cambodia; Bariloche in Argentina and Hamilton Island in Australia. In fact, I have been literally a born traveller because I started my travels even as I was in my mother's womb," he added. Dr Karan Singh is due to return to France to inaugurate the reciprocal Festival of India in France, titled "Namaste France" in Paris on April 14. During the Festival of France in India, the Embassy of France and Cultures France presented the richness and diversity of the cultural links between the two countries. More than 100 events in 18 cities were held during the three-month-long festival featuring 250 artistes, musicians, researchers and entrepreneurs from France.
Mar 03, 2010 Four Seasons Magazine Four Seasons Hotel George V
Family Travel: Fun Activities for Kids in Europe
In Europe, children can discover new worlds through the innovative offerings of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. One of the joys of travel is being able to immerse yourself in someplace different. With Europe’s distinctive history and culture, Four Seasons offers some exceptionally imaginative ways for its younger guests to get the most out of their European adventure.
Own a Pony for a Day In England, every child’s dream can come true at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire—at least for a day. Guests ages 7 to 16 can “adopt” a pony from the Hotel’s on-site Equestrian Centre and learn hands-on all about caring for a horse. And of course, they get to go horseback riding with their four-legged friend. Country living at its best! In Michelangelo’s Footsteps In Italy, budding artists both young and old can “Be Michelangelo for a Day” at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. During art classes led by a professional painter within the Hotel’s lovely park, students will learn to use paints and brushes similar to those employed by one of Florence’s greatest artists. Teenage Beauty Session An 80-minute spa package at Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris gives teenage girls a chance to pamper themselves while learning about cosmetics and beauty. The makeup lesson and manicure workshop are fun and interactive—and what better place to be taught beauty tips than in one of the world’s premier fashion capitals? The City of Golem Teenage guests at Four Seasons Hotel Prague will quickly discover the city’s magic if they set off on Golem’s Wisdom Quiz, which will encourage them to explore Prague’s history. Their quest for answers includes boat rides along the Vltava River, paddle boating around the islands on the river, making puppets in a marionette maker’s atelier or designing their own creation in a local art studio. Gardens and Nature Young guests in France at Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche may take special tours of the Resort’s beautifully landscaped gardens. Surrounded by heavenly hilltop vistas and the heady fragrance of thyme and lavender, they learn about some of the gardens’ 70 varieties of Provençal flowers and herbs. Secret Map for Young Explorers A different sort of hotel adventure awaits guests 6 to 10 years old at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon in Portugal. Armed with a “Ritzie” hunting map, they get to explore many special places in this most elegant of hotels. Kids Sports With an Irish Twist Just ask the Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin for a fun pack. Besides a football, shin pads, Frisbee and skipping rope, it includes a stick and sliotar (a ball)—a great introduction for children to the traditional Irish game of hurling. Science Fare Science-loving kids staying at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva should head for CERN—the European Organization for Nuclear Research—to visit “Microcosm,” an amazing interactive exhibit that explores the mysteries of the universe.
Nov 11, 2009 Travel Daily News Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel Paris
Hospitality Awards reach new heights for 10th anniversary
Over 600 participants and 200 hotel brands from 25 countries will be participating at the 10th Worldwide Hospitality Awards this year, to be held November 25 at the Grand Salon Opera, InterContinental Paris Le Grand.
“The Worldwide Hospitality Awards is the ideal platform for the industry to convene and confront the global crisis. Such rewards will now, more than ever, be appreciated, boosting employee morale and enhancing hotelier’s visual credibility,” says event founder, MKG Group President and CEO, Georges Panayotis. “It is also an excellent meeting and networking point, where together we can explore opportunities for growth, development, innovation and sustainability,” Panayotis added. As always, the awards ceremony will recognise excellence within the international hospitality sector, showcasing best practice and performance. Hotel brands and independent properties will be rewarded for achievements in various fields, including communications, sales, marketing, human resources, creativity and innovation. “Hyatt International Hotels and Resorts is proud to be a partner of the Hospitality Awards this year. Rewarding hotel groups for their work and innovations is crucial in order to understand the future stakes of this booming industry. This event witnesses our will to attend the Parisian luxury hotels segment, as well as the international one,” remarks Vice President Europe, Hyatt International, Michel Jauslin. This year’s ceremony Chairman will be Chief Executive Officer, InterContinental Hotels Group, Andrew Cosslett, whilst Chairman of the Advisory Board will be newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Pierre & Vacances Group Sven Boinet. “The hospitality awards, under the leadership of MKG, Georges Panayotis and his team, have established themselves over recent years as a very prominent event, gathering the leaders of the European hospitality business. It represents a unique networking opportunity and gives all attendants a possibility to feel the pulse of our business and anticipate on the future trends of our industry,” comments President and CEO, Movenpick Hotels, Jean-Gabriel Peres. “Over the years, the Hospitality Awards have become a must-see event in the industry. It is essential that within our sector, we can evaluate the different development axis of the year ongoing, and this by bringing the main actors all together in a friendly atmosphere,” added Senior Vice President, Rezidor Hotel Group, Olivier Jacquin.
Nov 11, 2009 KFSM-TV Hotel Sacher Vienna
How to keep calories to a minimum in Vienna
By Alan Behr | McClatchy-Tribune Nearly sensible dining , the Viennese way VIENNA -- A visit to Vienna I made some years ago turned into a three-day sugar high as I went, like a bee from flower to flower, from one great cafe to another, eating almost nothing but classic Viennese pastries. Older and wiser, this time I would do it differently: I would prove to myself and to my gentle and patient cardiologist, Dr. No Fun, that I could visit Vienna and keep to my low-fat, low-calorie. Although I was staying at the Hotel Sacher, which offers perhaps Europe's best sparkling-wine buffet breakfast, on my first morning, I ordered an egg-white omelet, made myself a plate of fresh fruit salad and poured a glass of perfectly fresh orange juice. I then checked into the hotel's recently added spa, for healthy rotation through the sauna and steam room, followed by herbal tea and dried fruit.
In travel, all prudence can and should be balanced with some indulgence, so for lunch, I had a classic Wiener Schnitzel at Griensteidl, one of the great cafe restaurants of the city. Just to make sure I didn't fall off the bandwagon, I surgically sliced away about half of the fried bread-crumb envelope that makes an expertly prepared Wiener Schnitzel, which is what Griensteidl serves, the surprisingly sophisticated medley of flavors that it is. The next morning, I felt it was only fair, in light of my relative success of the prior day, to take just a bit of the Sachertorte that's always left out for breakfast at the hotel whose name the classic chocolate pastry bears, and to add a smidgeon of the hotel's private-label sparkling wine to my orange juice, turning it into a very modest Mimosa. For lunch, I chose Oesterreicher im MAK. The MAK is the city's museum of applied arts, but unlike most museums, where you are lucky to get only an overpriced cafeteria, here you are offered a chic restaurant synthesizing tradition with modern sensibilities. Chef Helmut Oesterreicher -- the name literally means "Austrian" -- has made a restaurant that mixes contemporary decor and an aura of cool with Austrian specialties: Those on the left side of the menu are made the old-fashioned way (with butter, cream, hearty meats -- the very regional delights that Dr. No Fun has branded the foods of the damned), while those on the right side of the menu offer a lighter, healthier take on tradition (the election of which apparently would earn me a halo). I selected my low-fat chicken breast from the right side, but I snuck over to the naughty page for a Frittatensuppe -- a beef broth with crepe strips that was actually quite light. I had a meeting with business associates at Cafe Gerstner -- and I could hardly refuse the offer of that classic cherry strudel. To do that in front of Viennese could appear rude -- so I explained it to myself. Later, at the opera, where Gerstner is the house caterer, the Champagne flowed at intermission -- and I'm glad to say that some of it flowed in my direction. Happily, on my healthy-heart diet, wine (especially red wine) isn't merely permitted -- it's virtually prescribed. The next morning, therefore, the Mimosa eye opener that I made for myself at the Sacher leaned, for medicinal purposes, more heavily on sparkling wine than fresh orange juice. I still had my egg-white omelet and fruit salad, but Sachertorte really doesn't seem complete without at least some whipped cream, and that was when I noticed that there were other fine pastries available to try, in nearly bite-size portions. By teatime, I found myself at Demel, which is known for its own take on Sachertorte. It would be foolish not to try that alternative, also with whipped cream, and in my carefully planned comparison test, I did notice that the apricot jam was positioned by Demel differently within the cake, but in terms of quality -- they were both tasting just fine to me. By dinner, I was starting to worry that I had lapsed a bit. I went with a colleague to Vestibuel, which is across from the Austrian parliament, in the grand and ornate home of the Burgtheater, which is one of the state theaters of Austria. As assorted dignitaries came and left, we each enjoyed a sensible dish of organic chicken. Chicken is deceptively easy to make -- because it is easy to prepare too dry. The chicken at Vestibuel was moist and, most important, light and low in fat. A glass of Gruener Veltiner from the Austrian state of Burgenland went perfectly with the meal. Gugelhupf is ring-shaped, ridged Austrian cake; rather chewy, it goes with coffee in Vienna the way that French fries go with hamburgers on Coney Island. I know that because there was a Gugelhupf right next to the Sachertorte at breakfast the next morning. It seemed as if they belonged with each other like yin and yang, like Gilbert and Sullivan, like -- I allowed myself half a slice. I took a long walk to work off breakfast and ended up in the Stadtpark (City Park) -- right in front of the Steirereck, which is often named by critics as Austria's greatest restaurant. And wouldn't you know it? I had remembered to reserve far in advance. As with any restaurant holding two Michelin stars, service is leisurely and demure, and lunch will last nearly until midafternoon. Game being a showpiece of Austrian cooking, the meal was built around a main course of roast venison with Jerusalem artichokes, Brussels sprouts and, for the fruit notes, sloes. A challenge with game is to preserve the zest of the meat without letting it overwhelm the palette, and the result here was a perfection of balance. As red meats go, the venison was rather lean, and instead of the cheese course, the kitchen gave me a plate of small, sliced fruit and two flavors of sorbet. The conclusion came when a waiter wheeled in what looked like a rolling garden. It contained potted plants, and you were invited to select which plant would provide the basis for your herbal tea. I chose the apple mint. For sweetener I was given a leaf from another plant native to South America. While I let the teapot steep over a candle flame for the required twelve to fifteen minutes, I concluded that, in all, I could be a proud of myself. Having proven I could be temperate even through a two-star temptation, that evening, back at the Sacher, I dined in the intimate Rote Bar, favored by Viennese for after-opera drinks and dining. The room's pianist played pop and classical favorites. The chef and the waiter, sensitized to my needs, came up with a plan: the veal that forms the meaty core of Wiener Schnitzel was served without the fried bread-crumb covering but with a side of steamed white rice. I had returned to my diet in triumph. I left the Rote Bar flush with victory. I got as far as the other side of the building when I came upon Cafe Sacher. It was my last night. I looked left and right to see if I was being noticed by anyone I knew -- or anyone who looked like a cardiologist in disguise. Then I slipped into the cafe for a Sachertorte nightcap. Old habits die hard. And in Vienna, a city that celebrates its culinary traditions, some old habits are built to stay.
Nov 11, 2009 Telegraph Media Group Limited Hotel de Crillon
Paris: a girl's guide to the best bars, hotels and restaurants
Can there be a more enchanting place on earth to shop and eat than Paris? Probably not. But with so much to do, see and buy, where should you begin? How about right here… Stay For sheer push-the-boat-out indulgence it has to be the Hôtel de Crillon on Place de la Concorde, which is 100 this year and as glamorous as ever. Expect forests of arum lilies, bungalow-sized suites and the chance to share a lift with visiting A-listers.
Murano Urban Resort, in the Marais, is a groovier affair, with its Philippe Starck-style modern-baroque interior and guests who look like off-duty rock stars. Which is probably what they are. Eat Don't even think of leaving Paris without taking un crème and the best tarte tatin in town at Au Petit Fer à Cheval, an atmospheric bar/bistro in the heart of the Marais (30 rue Vieille du Temple) Anahi in rue Volta. What can we say, except that we love this branché Argentine restaurant in an old tiled butcher's shop. Serves possibly the best beef this side of Buenos Aires Chez Georges, a buzzy bistro in rue du Mail, is the haunt of in-the-know locals and fashion types, including Alber Elbaz, the cuddly creative genius at Lanvin. And if it's good enough for him… For a cheapish Left Bank lunch try La Palette in rue de Seine. The panelled interior, hung with paintings by artists in exchange for their dîner, is a joy Shop Check out Isabel Marant's Marais shop to see why her label's a favourite of French fashion editors (isabelmarant.tm.fr) Inspired by eastern clothing, Christophe Lemaire, her near neighbour, does soft tailoring to perfection Merci in boulevard Beaumarchais is like the coolest mini-department store imaginable. Think Liberty meets Conran meets Dover Street Market Le Bon Marché: well-edited womenswear and a fab food hall under one Gustav Eiffel glass roof (lebonmarche.com ). What more could you want? While you're at it, take in nearby rue du Cherche-Midi for chic boutiques, plus the original Poilâne bakery For vintage clothing, head to Mamie Blue in rue de Rochechouart in the up-and-coming ninth arrondissement Do Housed in his former couture HQ in avenue Marceau, the Yves Saint Laurent museum is a brilliant monument to one man's genius (fondation-pb-ysl.net ) Take the line 13 Métro to Porte de Vanves fleamarket, Paris's best marché aux puces, on Saturdays and Sundays
Nov 11, 2009 Global Times Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin
Berlin marks the wall's fall
By Ming E. Wong in Berlin Even before the Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago, the city always felt edgier and more vibrant than other German cities, but the fall of the wall saw the vibrancy escalate even further. In a symbolic gesture, 1,000 huge styrofoam white pillars were toppled Monday, in the two-kilometer stretch between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, along the line where the Berlin Wall once stood. The most famous symbol of the Cold War and a divided country, the Berlin Wall stood for almost three decades. The dominoes tumbling Monday lasted half an hour and "The Party of Freedom" lasted all night. It is Berlin after all.
Here, compared with other German cities, the music and fashion always seems grungier, the spirit a little more rebellious, the citizens insistently helpful but also brusque and slightly eccentric. Today, the reunited capital of Germany is a place where countless cyclists jostle with chauffeur-driven limousines and where buzz-generating hostels and elaborate hotels accommodate the crowds that have made it the third most visited city in Europe (after London and Paris). It is a highly energetic mix, one that promises to be even more potent as more and more newcomers, both German and foreign, bring creative and entrepreneurial talent. In Berlin, everybody has a project, but nobody has a job, according to a local saying. However, because the city is still reasonably cheap and there are so many cultural freebies, there is a lot of fun to be had. The city is obsessed with food. During the Cold War, Berlin was surrounded and isolated. Food had to be airlifted into the city on a daily basis by the Allied forces. Today, Berlin's falafels and spring rolls are equal to the best in Istanbul or Ho Chi Minh City. It helps that half of its 3.4 million people have come from elsewhere, including more than 100,000 Turkish and 12,000 Vietnamese. You can get fresh sushi, Polish stews and American baked goods. In the city's cool pubs, hot clubs and funky lounges, you can drink fancy cocktails and vintage wines. Chinese who are homesick will find authentic food at Ming Dynastie where both the German government and the Chinese Embassy, which is across the road, entertain guests. For a quick but comprehensive feel of Berlin, nothing tells its story better than its architecture. From Bauhaus to fascist-era to modern international, from Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum to Norman Foster's glass dome on the Reichstag, Berlin's buildings fascinate, enchant and challenge. Even private apartment blocks have unusual entrances, gardened courtyards and sweeping stairwells. My boutique hotel had individually decorated rooms filled with Art Nouveau furniture and an antique lift that looked like a giant birdcage and a confessional booth. Other more history-laden establishments include the 102 year-old Hotel Adlon Kempinski which looks out onto the Brandenburg Gate and has housed world leaders, royalty and celebrities. Nowhere else in Europe has there been so much new construction, restoration and rebuilding. The heart of Berlin's shopping used to be the Kurfürstendam, Berlin's equivalent of Beijing's Wangfujing. Designer brands and big names such as Tiffany and Prada lined the street. KaDaWe on nearby Wittenbergplatz is a posh department store whose Christmas windows are an event and whose gourmet level contains the busiest oyster bar on the continent. Great charm also lies in residential suburbs such as Savignyplatz or Rosa Luxemburg Strasse in the east. Indeed, the liberation of the eastern suburbs has meant an availability of huge spaces at appealing rents and many designer studios and art galleries have sprung up. The city also has much to offer in terms of its rich modern culture. It is after all where the Berlinale Film welcomes the world's big names, where the Berlin Philharmonic and U2 play to sell-out houses and where museums are UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are as many as six concerts a week in the Orangerie des Schloss Charlottenburg – the orchestra plays Bach, Handel and Mozart dressed in Baroque clothes. It was in Berlin where I caught Annie Leibovitz's moving and personal exhibition, A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, in an old postal ministry building. This year the dominant theme for any visit is the fall of the Berlin Wall. Berlin has been gearing up for a remembrance marathon, with exhibitions and events planned all over the city and throughout the year. Historic points of interest – Checkpoint Charlie, the East Side Gallery, the Stasi Museum and many more – are all worth visiting. Do not miss walking down the tree-lined Unter den Linden toward the Brandenburg Gate, the city's most famous icon. Pre- November 89 pictures show it fronted by the wall and barbed wire. Kennedy addressed the crowds here, so did Barack Obama. One block north is the Reichstag, which houses an excellent black and white photographic exhibition on Berlin. At the Alexanderplatz, a public square of the former East Berlin, there is a huge exhibition of 700 pictures and items documenting the events leading up to the fall of the wall and its aftermath, all not to be missed.
Nov 11, 2009 Telegraph Media Group Limited Four Seasons Hotel Prague
Prague: Romance, revolutions - and beer
Prague's culture, cafés and fairytale architecture make it an ideal winter getaway, says Adrian Bridge. Despite 45 years of communism, Prague maintained its medieval heart and an architectural legacy that incorporates gothic and baroque, rococo and art nouveau. It has a fairytale castle and a wonderful river setting (which certainly inspired the Czech composer Smetana). It is a city of great classical music and old-world café society. Then, of course, there is the beer. This is an exciting time to be there, as the Czechs mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution this month. In December, the city's Christmas market will be in full swing – and where better to get into the spirit than the home of Good King Wenceslas? In January and February, the city is cold but very romantic: there will probably be snow, and it'll be far less crowded.
Spend the morning… At the castle. It is Prague's landmark attraction: an extraordinary collection of palaces, galleries, curiosities and the magnificent Cathedral of St Vitus (don't miss the gargoyles). The Castle was immortalised in Franz Kafka's book of the same name, and the author himself produced some of his work from a house in the picturesque little alley here known as the Golden Lane. Start at the top; enjoy the views over Prague, then work your way through and down to the Malostranska metro and the river. Have lunch… In the Municipal House, close to Prague's other landmark sight (complete with 15th-century Astronomical Clock), the Old Town Square. The name may sound unpromising, but for any lovers of art nouveau architecture, the Municipal House is as good as it can ever get. Lots of people simply come here for coffee and cake and to drink in the gorgeous interior designs. It also houses two very good restaurants; one French and, in the stained-glass adorned basement, a Czech one where you can enjoy specialities such as svickova – slices of beef with cream sauce, dumplings and cranberries – and goulash with slices of sausage. About £10 a head, and just the job on a cold winter's day. Spend the afternoon… At the Jewish cemetery. Sounds a bit morbid, but visiting this ancient burial site, in use from the 15th century until 1787, is an extraordinarily moving experience. The cemetery got so crowded that people were buried one on top of another and the now leaning tombstones are packed tightly together in clusters. You can walk around the cemetery and then take in other parts of the formerly Jewish district of Prague known as Josefov – including its many synagogues and the Franz Kafka Museum. Time for some lighter relief? Take a pew for one of the many 60-minute classical concerts performed daily in Prague's finest churches (they are advertised everywhere). Dine out at… La Degustation. This is the place to have all your preconceptions about stodgy Czech food blown away. Seven-course "tasting" menus include dishes such as Prague ham with autumn apple foam, freshly smoked beef tongue with yellow pea purée and south bohemian rabbit with chestnut purée, barley dumpling and savoy cabbage. There are plenty of other fine dining establishments in Prague (including, in the Four Seasons Hotel, the Allegro, offering Italian cuisine – the first restaurant in the former Eastern Bloc to win a Michelin star – and, right on the river, Kampa Park). But La Degustation is the first to apply the top-end gourmet touch to Czech specialities. Alas, it has also applied top-end gourmet prices: expect to pay about £100 for a seven-course "degustation". Or try the shortened "après le theatre" menu for about £35. More reasonably priced options, offering nice variations on the beer and dumplings theme, include: Bredovsky´ Dvur, U Medvidku, Pivnice u Pivrnce and Kolkovna. Stay out late at… The Reduta jazz club, a venerable Prague institution where Vaclav Havel took Bill Clinton to perform an impromptu performance on the sax. Shop for… Wooden toys and puppets. The Czechs make them really well – and the toys are both attractive and durable. There's a great selection of both in Poha´dka (Celetna 32), close to the Old Town Square. Revisit the Velvet Revolution by… Taking a walking tour of the main sights connected to what happened 20 years ago (www.guide-prague.cz) The Museum of Communism provides some good insights into the communist era. At all costs avoid… Charles Bridge. It sounds strange to say that about one of the city's most famous sights but the bridge is suffocatingly crowded at the best of times, and at the moment passage is further restricted due to renovation works. Cross the river further south at the Legii Bridge – far fewer people and equally good views.
Sep 09, 2009 Hyatt Corporation Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome
Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine - Paris 2009
Jean-François Rouquette, executive chef of Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, has invited six internationally celebrated chefs to participate in the first Paris-based Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine event to be held from 22 to 25 September 2009. “This event will offer a unique mix of multiple cultures, where a new international gastronomic scene will showcase its own savoir-faire and terroir by mixing cuisines and the best regional products,” explains Chef Jean-François.
More than two decades ago, Park Hyatt hotels began the tradition of hosting an annual food and wine festival. For the past three years, the Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine has been held in Argentina, bringing together internationally distinguished chefs and Argentinian winemakers to participate in the festivities. To build on the continued success of the event, Park Hyatt announced the expansion of the festival to Paris, where each guest chef will incorporate regional products into his/her specialty cuisine. Featured chefs of Master of Food and Wine Paris: • Alex Atala, executive chef of D.O.M. restaurant in Sao Paulo (Brazil) • Filippo Gozzoli, executive chef of The Park restaurant at Park Hyatt Milan (Italy) • Jean Sulpice, executive chef of L’Oxalys, a one Michelin star restaurant in Val Thorens (Savoie - France) • Brian McBride, executive chef of Blue Duck Tavern restaurant at Park Hyatt Washington (USA) • Benjamin Toursel, executive chef of L’Auberge du Prieuré in Moirax (Lot & Garonne, France) • Mads Refslund, executive chef of MR, a one Michelin star restaurant in Copenhagen (Denmark) Combining the new international culinary scene and the traditional French experience, Masters of Food and Wine Paris will offer the union of five culinary cultures with the following program: MASTERS OF FOOD AND WINE PARIS PROGRAM AT A GLANCE Monday, 21 September 2009 VIP Opening cocktail *By invitation only Tuesday, 22 September 2009 Le Pur’ Menu by Alex Atala & Jean-François Rouquette Wednesday, 23 September 2009 Le Pur’ Menu by Jean Sulpice & Brian McBride Thursday, 24 September 2009 Le Pur’ Menu by Benjamin Toursel & Jean-François Rouquette Friday, 25 September 2009 Le Pur’ Menu by Mads Refslund & Filipo Gozzoli Le Pur’, Le Bar, and La Terrasse at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme will serve as the backdrop for the events each evening. The week’s festivities will begin with a private VIP opening cocktail reception, where guests will have the opportunity to meet the participating chefs. At Le Pur’ restaurant, a four hands menu will be performed every evening, and will be served at 150 euros, tax and service included, per person At Le Bar & La Terrasse, the Chefs will offer an exclusive Tapas selection during the whole week. In addition, there will be limited space available for a special cultural program, Discovery of Paris. Sharing the Parisian way of life, the Discovery of Paris program will include: cocktail classes by the Park Hyatt barman Yann Daniel, a journey to Billecart-Salmon Champagne house, and a tour of the Boucheron factory. Masters of Food & Wine Paris Venues Welcoming guests into a small gallery and six-meter “wine wall,” including a cigar and cheese cabinet, Le Pur’, boasts mahogany and soft-toned fabrics. The room showcases wood panels with original large abstract drawings by Viswanadhan, an Indian artist living in Paris since 1968. Anchoring the main dining room, a raised silver-leafed dome is located in the center and is surrounded by tables and a colonnaded rotunda. Featuring two large Granet candelabras, black glass tables with bronze trim, and mahogany wall panels to contrast with the Parisian limestone’s sandy-beige tones, Le Bar offers an arty atmosphere and creative cocktails. Showcasing six paintings by Ed Paschke, known for his bright, striking images based on key principles of abstraction and expressionism, Le Bar is an ideal place for both international globetrotters and local Parisians alike. Styled like a city garden bathed in sunlight, La Terrasse blends understated elegance and blissful luxury in a sophisticated setting. With its 100-year-old olive trees, this haven of peace compliments the intimate atmosphere of Le Bar.
Sep 09, 2009 Hotel de Crillon
Best advice: Gates on Gates
Americans in Paris: Bill Gates, in France with his family for part of the summer, is joined by his father on the balcony at the legendary Hôtel de Crillon.
Sep 09, 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy
Tuscany's Villa San Michele serves up a singleton's cookery course perfect for bachelor boys
By Miles Goslett Not being the world's greatest chef - in fact I rarely stray beyond making simple bachelor food such as omelettes - a weekend cookery course at one of Italy's finest hotels for people living alone was a very welcome prospect. A visit to Pizza Express is generally as close as I get to Italian cuisine, so here was the chance to master some delicious new dishes. But my enthusiasm dipped briefly when I arrived at the five-star Villa San Michele, a 15th Century monastery in Fiesole, a hilltop town overlooking Florence.
The concierge introduced himself and, peering at the trusty green rucksack slung over my shoulder, asked in impeccable English: 'Where is the rest of your luggage?' This being a place where the Prince of Wales has stayed, I toyed with the idea of replying: 'Don't worry, my manservant will bring in the bags shortly.' But instead I opted for the humble truth: I had only the rucksack. 'Oh,' the concierge remarked quizzically and, it seemed to me, a little sniffily. But I was staying for just two days - what did he expect? Happily, my fears that I'd wandered into a hot bed of Italian snobbery were immediately extinguished. The concierge quickly went on to set me at ease by saying it made a refreshing change to check in a guest who travelled so light, and then arranged for an equally helpful colleague to show me to my room. In fact it became clear during my stay that all staff at this hotel were exceptionally friendly and polite. Small wonder it is a favourite of writers, actors, models and politicians including Frederick Forsyth, Sir Roger Moore, Naomi Campbell and Lady Thatcher. The 'room' I was led to turned out to be more of a well-appointed suite: it contained a vast bed, enough decent sofas and chairs to furnish a two-bedroom flat, and a marble bathroom. A bowl of fresh blueberries and raspberries had been left for me by way of welcome. I ate them on the terrace, taking in the superb views of Florence, and listened to other guests splashing around in the outdoor pool. Often on holiday, it takes a few days to feel totally relaxed - at the San Michele it seemed to take a few minutes. The peace was broken only voluntarily when I went down to the striking open-air restaurant for a delicious lunch of grilled fish and vegetables followed by tiramisu. Afterwards I was presented with a timetable of events and introduced to head chef Attilio di Fabrizio, who would be my teacher for the next two days. Think gentle Rick Stein rather than fiery Gordon Ramsay. 'No school today,' he said with a smile. 'Tomorrow we begin to cook.' That was fine by me. With this free time, I went for a stroll around the well-manicured gardens and woodland surrounding the hotel, soaking up the silence, and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing before returning to the restaurant for cocktails and dinner. I was certainly impressed by the hotel's signature dish - veal medallions with orange and lemon juice, served with deep-fried zucchini - and I also had the opportunity to meet one of the three other participants on the course, a lawyer from New Zealand. At 10am next day my three classmates and I congregated in the light, bright conservatory ready for the first morning's cooking. Attilio kitted us out in crisp white aprons before leading us to the kitchen and explaining the three-course menu we would be making and then eating for lunch. Our first course was Tuscan panzanella - bread soaked in water and vinegar, then dried and mixed with tomato, onion, cucumber and basil picked from the hotel's kitchen garden. Even by my lowly standards, this wasn't too tough. The main course was a slightly trickier operation - gnocchi with fresh tomato and basil. First of all we had to boil and mash some potato, add raw egg and some flour and knead it to make the pasta. Then we had to chop and simmer the tomatoes for the sauce, and cook the gnocchi. Of Attilio's four students, I probably held up the class at this point but his patience meant that my lack of ability was never a problem. He helped at critical moments, made it a pleasure rather than a chore, and his relaxed approach was infectious. Finally, we were shown how to make tiramisu, something I had always assumed was very difficult but is in fact pretty straightforward: sponge fingers soaked in coffee with whisked egg whites, sugar, mascarpone cheese, and a topping of cocoa powder. Two-and-a-half hours had flown by, no doubt helped by Attilio offering us a glass or two of prosecco between courses. All we had to do now was make our way to the dining room to sample our creations. To tell the truth, I suspect that everything on our plates had been 'tidied up' by one of the hotel's chefs in order to improve its appearance, but Attilio assured us he was impressed and said we had much to be pleased about. Although I say it myself, lunch wasn't bad at all. I worked off some of those calories with a swim in the enormous pool, situated in what is easily the most beguiling location of any I have ever visited. Later I took one of the hotel's regular shuttle buses to Florence (it's a 15-minute trip). I had promised myself a visit to the city's Uffizi gallery and booked my ticket in advance so that I could avoid its notorious queues. The next morning the hotel's general manager offered me a brief tour of the hotel, taking in the guest rooms which were once monks' cells, and the building's Michelangelo-designed facade (complete with bullet holes from a skirmish during the Second World War). We also had a good look at the impressive 17th Century fresco of the Last Supper, in what would originally have been the monastery's refectory. Then it was back to the cookery school for another morning at the hob, and it proved to be easier than the previous day. We were shown three new dishes - a pasta starter, red mullet in a tomato sauce, and zuccotto, which is a sort of sponge cake with chocolate sauce and cream. Again, it all tasted delicious and the thrill of cooking my own lunch and eating it in the hotel restaurant was not lost on me. Were it not for the recipe cards I was given to take home I might not believe that I successfully made two three-course meals, but there's no denying it: my culinary repertoire has expanded as a result of doing the course and my mind felt significantly rested for having visited this part of the world. My only complaint about the weekend was that the time passed too quickly.
Sep 09, 2009 The Travel Editor Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy
Culinary Adventures and the Romance of Italy at Villa San Michele, Florence
What better place to learn new cooking skills than beautiful Tuscany? Amidst the rolling green hills and russet rooftops, Villa San Michele in Florence offers a range of cooking classes from internationally renowned chefs. Here visitors discover how to prepare the regional cuisine, combined with trips to Chianti, wine tastings, and visits to Florence for boutique shopping and museums. The classes themselves are varied, from traditional pasta and Tuscan specialties to cooking for one in their “Singles” course, and a compact class tailored for children ages eight to fourteen. Small, restricted classes mean that each student has a hands-on experience alongside the chef; all classes are in English and suitable for every level of expertise.
Each course promises a truly unique gastronomic journey, in the beautiful setting of Villa San Michele, a former monastery. This Orient-Express property is an “intimate and elegantly transformed Michelangelo-inspired 15th-Century cloister, commanding glorious hilltop vistas of Florence and Arno Valley,” according to luxury travel expert Andrew Harper. The extensive Italian gardens are filled with lemon trees and roses, perfect for an evening stroll or enjoying a glass of wine after the day’s cooking. Sharon O’Connor, creator of the “Italian Intermezzo” collection of recipes combined with music, teaches a weeklong course at Villa San Michele devoted to the table, taste and beauty of Florence. Connor has built a career around her passions, collaborating with great chefs and musicians around the world to bring together food, art, music, and travel. “Each person has their own stovetop and all needed utensils,” says O’Connor. “We are served the dishes we make in class at fabulous lunches on the villa’s loggia overlooking Florence. Participants enjoy a Catherine de’ Medici Renaissance dinner on the last night, with costumed waiters and musicians performing gorgeous Renaissance music. Everyone feels like an aristocrat by the end of the evening!”
Aug 08, 2009 TheaterMania Inc. SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand
Liza Minnelli to Play LA's Hollywood Bowl and Las Vegas' MGM Grand
By: Dan Bacalzo · Aug 20, 2009 · Las Vegas Tony Award winner Liza Minnelli will play the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on August 28-29 and the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand, September 25-30. At both shows she will perform selections from her Liza's at the Palace CD. and her well-known hits including "Cabaret," "Some People" and her signature song "Theme from New York, New York."
Minnelli recently appeared on Broadway in her show, Liza's at the Palace, for which she received a 2009 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, as well as a special award from the Drama Desk Award for career achievement. She won additional Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for Flora the Red Menace and The Act, as well as a special Tony Award in 1974. She was also Tony-nominated for The Rink and has starred on Broadway in Victor/Victoria and Chicago. She won the Academy Award for Cabaret and the Emmy Award for Liza With a "Z".
Aug 08, 2009 turkeylive.net Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Çiragan place (Alcazar) hotel (Auberge) Kempinski Istanbul
Is the Çiragan Alcazar Auberge Kempinski Istanbul the a lot of comfortable auberge in the city? Many humans anticipate so. The Çiragan (CHEE-rah-AHN) Kempinski has a acceptability for choice apartment and service, but it’s the location—right on the Bosphorus bank next to the adequate 19th-century Ottoman Çiragan Palace—that gives the auberge its caché. The auberge itself is a avant-garde architecture advised in accord with the adequate palace. The 284 bedfellow rooms, 20 suites, and a lot of accessories (restaurants, bars, etc) are in the auberge portion.
The alcazar has 11 affluence suites, but its primary use is for meetings, conventions and clandestine functions captivated in its awe-inspiring accessible rooms. Auberge guests can usually aberrate through and adore the accessible apartment if they are not in use. The Kempinski has calm and alfresco pond pools, and those astonishing Bosphorus views—but not from all rooms. Apartment on the west ancillary of the auberge accept “park views,” acceptation that the college apartment attending out beyond the Bosphorus bank alley to the area of Yildiz Park, the forests and area surrounding Yildiz Palace. But the lower apartment on the west ancillary attending alone at a top rock bank that sets off the Çiragan Alcazar area from the active roadway. If you plan to break at the Kempinski for its Bosphorus views, be abiding your allowance has one!
Aug 08, 2009 The Jakarta Globe Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel Paris
A Different Kind of Courage
Jean-Paul Belmondo uses a metal crutch and drags his right leg when he walks. His upper body tilts to the left when he moves. He speaks in short sentences, sometimes slurring his words. His right arm sits lifeless by his side. But when the 75-year-old French actor with the blue-green eyes and broken nose smiles, he evokes the image of the charming gangster and cocky seducer he played in films decades ago. “My crutch,” he said in a brief interview, as he tried to find his balance in the grand ballroom of the Hotel InterContinental here. “It’s terrible, a crutch, isn’t it?”
It was during a vacation in Corsica in 2001 that Belmondo had a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body and left him unable to speak for six months. With intensive daily physical therapy, he has been able to get back some of his physical strength. After all, he almost became a professional boxer and football player (he played goalie) and was adored by fans as an athlete who did most of his own stunts in his action-packed films. Now, after more than 80 films and a score of theater roles, he summoned a different kind of courage for his first film since his stroke. He agreed to do “Un Homme et Son Chien” (A Man and His Dog), which opened in France on Jan. 14, he said, only if it showed him as the old, disabled man that he is. “It’s me,” he said, “without any special effects.” A crimson cashmere sweater and a sport coat adorned with his Legion of Honor rosette gave him an air of elegance, despite the chunky rings on the fingers of his left hand, His jeans revealed the outline of his left thigh, which is much more muscular than his right. “I hope,” he said, “to be an example for all. I hope.” So the film makes no effort to disguise Belmondo’s physical limitations. He is shown walking — slowly and with a cane — in only one scene. He has little dialogue. The deep lines creasing his face are made more dramatic with shadows; the nose squashed decades ago in a boxing ring gives him an oddly broken look. The film is advertised on billboards throughout Paris, and its release coincided with the publication last week of a new biography by Bertrand Tessier, titled “Belmondo the Incorrigible.” To showcase the comeback, the Paris-Match of Jan. 14 put Belmondo on the cover, tanned, smiling, several gold chains peeking out from his lime-colored linen shirt. He was photographed with a woman identified as the new love of his life, Barbara Gandolfi, a 33-year-old, raven-haired, equally tanned Italian in hoop earrings and a low-cut strapless dress who runs a vending machine business and owns nightclubs in Belgium. “They looked at each other, they had a drink, and the rest is history,” said the actor Charles Gerard, Belmondo’s friend of 60 years, in an interview. “I have lunch with him two, three times a week, and you have no idea how women are still attracted to him.” The plot of the film, based on Vittorio De Sica’s 1952 classic of neorealism, “Umberto D.,” is just as sentimental as the original, if more preposterous. An old man is thrown out on the street and finds himself homeless and alone, except for his dog. In the original, Umberto D. was a retired bureaucrat unable to survive on a paltry pension who is forced out of his rented room by an unfeeling landlady. In the remake, Charles, played by Belmondo, is also a retiree, but he is shown the door by a widow who had been his lover. She had given him and his dog a maid’s room in her large home, but she finds him a nuisance after she decides to marry again. “Robert is going to marry me, not my past,” she declares. Charles is reduced to eating at a soup kitchen. His wallet is stolen. He loses his dog, then finds him again. He tries without success to give the dog away to a little girl he meets in a park. In one moving scene, he cries out for his dog — in the gilded ballroom of the Hotel InterContinental in the heart of Paris. The director, Francis Huster (who also appears in the film), does not explain why, in an age of extraordinary French social services to protect pensioners, Charles has no means of finding even temporary lodging. Like Umberto D., Charles ultimately considers suicide, and the film, like the original, ends on a hopeful but oddly unsatisfying note. “A Man and His Dog,” with its melodramatic soundtrack and long silences, has divided the French film world. And it has attracted limited crowds; Baseline, a box-office tracking firm, reported that in its first week the film sold slightly more than 100,000 tickets. The failure to embrace the film reflects in part a desire to remember Belmondo as he was in his signature roles: the lovable gangster in “Breathless” (1960), the tobacco tycoon in “Mississippi Mermaid” (1969), the French soldier in perpetual motion in the comedy “That Man From Rio” (1964). This is, after all, the man who played opposite beauties like Catherine Deneuve, Jean Seberg, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale, Raquel Welch and Ursula Andress (with whom he had a long affair). “It’s a little sad to see him this way, but his performance is wonderful,” said Sophie Andrieu, a museum programming assistant, as she left the film on a recent afternoon. Her friend. Sophie Gaudiller, a classical dancer, was more skeptical. “It’s rather monotonous,” she said. In the media, some of the criticism has been savage. Under the headline “What’s Left of Belmondo?” the weekly magazine Le Point called the film a documentary of a man who suffered a stroke, saying, “One can only be staggered by this portrayal of decrepitude and this disillusioned universe where the only point of interest is … a dog.” Le Monde faulted the film for “the effort visibly made by the actor in the dialogue, the melodramatic overstatement of the script and the theatricality of the production.” For other Belmondo supporters and friends, the film is nothing less than an inspirational tour de force. “He had been an athlete, and he showed incredible will in his struggle to recover,” Dr Jean-Luc Isambert, a coordinator at the Le Normandy rehabilitation center in Granville, Normandy, where Belmondo did some of his rehabilitation work, said in an interview. “His comeback is a message of hope to anyone who has ever suffered the tragedy of a stroke.” Gerard said of his performance: “He is playing a role like none other he has ever played in his life. At the end, he is so moving you really want to cry.” In the film, Gerard plays a beggar who steals Belmondo’s wallet as they are sitting together on a park bench. Other aging film veterans — including Max von Sydow — have cameo appearances. Michel Drucker, a television host who has been a close friend of Belmondo for 40 years, said in an interview that he has watched Belmondo “learn to speak again, word by word, and to walk again, centimeter by centimeter.” He had to teach himself to eat and to write with his left hand, and more than once, doctors thought they might have to amputate part of his right leg, Drucker said in an interview. This month Drucker devoted his hourlong weekly television show to Belmondo and those involved in the film. In his first on-screen interview since the stroke, Belmondo answered questions about his family and the drama of searching for his dog, Corail, who was lost for three days in Bois de Boulogne in Paris last year. “His comeback is unique in the history of cinema,” Drucker said. “It doesn’t matter if the film is good or bad. For the country, for the people of France, Jean-Paul is back.” The New York Times
Aug 08, 2009 telegraph.co.uk Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin
Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Berlin: Hotel watch
Adrian Bridge reviews the Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, a reconstruction of a celebrated pre-war hotel facing the Brandenburg Gate. This is the hotel's trump card: the Adlon is a stone's throw away from the Brandenburg Gate and the newly rebuilt Pariser Platz, a hub of the pre-war Berlin, part of the divided city's eerie no-man's land and now, once again, the city's premier "salon". Turn right out of the main entrance and you're in the Unter den Linden; left and through the gate, and you're at the Reichstag.
We like: The buzz of the lobby, complete with original fountain (gift of a maharaja) and piano player, the Michelin-starred Lorenz Adlon restaurant, the huge buffet breakfast (with four kinds of muesli), the spas (there are two) and the historic resonance – the Adlon today (part of the Kempinski group) is an elaborate reconstruction of the celebrated pre-war hotel that burned down in May 1945. Although it doesn't quite recapture the panache of the place that attracted the great and the good (and the bad) of Berlin, from Kaiser Wilhelm II to Greta Garbo (how could it?), it does rekindle some of the magic. Not so keen: Maybe I'd had a glass or two too many, but I struggled to make the laptop computer access work; the desk in the room felt a little cluttered (too many magazines and brochures). The place is so big it sometimes feels a little bit disjointed. The rooms: There are 382 rooms and suites, all decked out in a range of comfortable and classic furnishings and colourings. Then there are grand salons and ballrooms, a winter garden courtyard for receptions and an extremely well-stocked wine shop. Regular doubles are large enough for a good-sized bed plus a sofa and a desk. If your budget stretches to it, go for one of the suites facing directly on to the Brandenburg Gate – when else are you going to be able to wake up looking out on one of the great symbols of 20th-century history? The other guests: The Adlon still attracts visiting royalty (the Queen and the Prince of Wales have stayed), politicians on state visits and celebrities (it was from a balcony at this hotel that Michael Jackson infamously dangled one of his children). Among lesser mortals, there is a 50/50 split between business and leisure visitors (the latter more prevalent at weekends). Also, inevitably with a place of such historical resonance, there are a lot of non-guests popping by to have a look. The food and drink: Take your pick from three Michelin-starred restaurants: the Lorenz Adlon offers a lighter take on classic French cuisine and plenty of Brandenburg Gate Champagne moments, the MÃ Tim Raue and the Gabriele specialise respectively in modern Chinese and Italian. There is also the Quarré, which offers regional German specialities. The spa(s): The main recreation area comprises a decent-sized pool, fitness room, sauna and steam bath. The recently opened day spa is a more Zen-like chill-out zone offering an extensive range of beauty and massage treatments.
Aug 08, 2009 Telegraph Media Group Limited Claridge's
Cartier Awards: Sea The Stars clear leader
This season's sensational colt Sea The Stars is likely to seek further glory in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York. In his absence, crack performers Rip Van Winkle and Goldikova took the opportunity last week to steal the limelight with emphatic Group One victories at Goodwood and Deauville respectively. The pair both took steps towards Cartier Racing Awards glory with triumphs that signalled their intent in the championship clashes to come.
European horseracing's most prestigious accolades, now in their 19th year, the Cartier Racing Awards will be presented during a glittering ceremony before invited guests at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair, London, on Tuesday, November 17, 2009. The Classic generation are regarded by many as a vintage crop and they certainly dominate the Cartier Horse Of The Year category at this stage, filling the first four places, with Sea The Stars in a clear lead. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Alfred Nobel went to the top of the juvenile colt category with a sparkling final furlong rally to win the group One Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh and even at this early stage looks a colt to be taken seriously.
Aug 08, 2009 Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com. The Stafford London
Explore London? Good luck pulling yourself away from luxe and comfy Hotel Stafford (part 1)
By Kathy Newbern and J.S. Fletcher Reporting from England -- We’ll be honest with you: Our London travel reports following our Celebrity Equinox press preview cruise won’t be quite as extensive as previously planned. Blame it on the Hotel Stafford. Once we checked into Room 231 in The Stafford Mews, we ran into a problem: This two-room master suite is simply too lush and elegant to ever leave. No kidding. We love London and exploring all it has to offer, but we’ve had to drag ourselves out of the cushy king bed with its lovely, enveloping linens each morning, and out of the tub with its yellow rubber ducky in the oversized marble bathroom with his-and-her sinks, his-and-hers towel warmers, and in the bedroom, his-and-hers closets. Oh, and there’s a glass-encased shower big enough for two. But when you’re ready for privacy, there are yes, his-and-hers toilets thanks to the half-bath off the entry hall. If you’d like to enter (the hall, not the bath), just ring our doorbell. That’s how home-like The Stafford is.
Did we mention the Stafford-branded Floris products in the bath? As senior assistant manager Leon Baum responded when we noted that Floris was our favorite, “We thought if it was good enough for the Queen, it was good enough for our guests.” We do know first-hand that you can live like a queen – and king – at the Stafford. One London tour guide veteran confided: “Oh, The Stafford! It’s my absolute favorite hotel in London.” She went on to lavish the highest praise on the hotel’s concierge staff - among them Frank Laino, the man who can get it done, whatever "it" is. But he’s just one of the entire team who have kept us well-fed, well-attended and feeling (at least for this stay) well-heeled. The Stafford London is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and has garnered far too many accolades to mention here, from Andrew Harper’s Hideaways to Travel + Leisure Best 500, to Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List to earning London’s rare AA Red Star rating. After our breakfast in the beautiful dining room, for fear that we won’t get out to explore surrounding London-town, we don’t dare return “home” to our sitting room with fireplace, Bose speaker with Ipod dock (there’s another Bose system with CDs provided beside the bed) and writing desk with wireless, high-speed internet access and two-line phone. There’s even a computer provided in the upper-category suites. But at our writing desk – see how attached we’ve become; it’s now “our desk” - we were greeted with customized stationary and this fabulous touch: personalized business cards noting the particulars of the hotel with the wording “My Residence Whilst in London.” Assistant Manager Baum says it’s not unusual for guests to fall in love with the 94-year-old hotel, hence, the 45-50 percent repeater business. Most guests, incidentally, come from North America – about 55 percent – and many of them, like us, find the American Bar with its wild collection of hats and flags hanging from the ceiling and proliferation of framed memorabilia on the walls to be a fascinating spot to drink in a bit of history and whimsy along with your Pimm’s. The bartenders are, however, known for making a mean martini. “A real advantage is the location of the hotel,” Baum notes of the Hotel Stafford’s St. James’s Place address, and after a few days we agree that St. James, as he promises, is one of the nicest sections of London. It’s near museums, parks, major shopping, great restaurants, Piccadilly Circus and the famous West End theatres. “It’s very safe and a 10-minute walk to Buckingham Palace and St. James Park. To find a central London hotel that doesn’t overlook any major street and that has a courtyard in back is truly rare.” Contrary to the street noise found at many major city hotels, the primary sound at The Stafford is quiet. That courtyard overlooks Blue Ball Alley, a cut-through from the Stafford Main House (67 rooms) alongside its new Mews annex on one side and its most popular Carriage House on the other. Speaking of The Mews building, it was completely gutted as a former office building and made over in 2007 to replicate the long-honored Stafford look and feel but crafted with modern twists like muted colors and flat-screen TVs. The result is a wild success, carrying on the Stafford tradition of elegance but in an upgraded way. Of course, success comes with a price: 26-million British pounds (about $50 million US) for the 26 suites, rooms and stunning top-floor penthouse. So no wonder we’re having trouble tearing ourselves away: We’re staying in a £1-million room, for heaven’s sake! Still, most prefer checking into the 350-year-old Carriage House with 12 rooms – “they’re always the first to go.” While we’d call our room stylish, those found here are lovingly reminiscent of English country-houses. Each room is decorated differently, as are all the Stafford rooms, but these also have original, exposed ceiling beams thought to have been salvaged from 1750s sailing ships. At the far end of the Carriage House is the two-story Guv’nor’s Suite – “there’s nothing else quite like it in England,” Baum promises - and from there, the remaining four suites are named for world-famous horses. That’s because all these rooms are located in former stables, which is what “mews” means here in Jolly Olde England. But this wasn’t your everyday mews – these were the former Royal Mews for St. James Palace. Baum points out the 350-year-old beam on the Carriage House roof that still holds the iron hook through which the hay bales were raised. The courtyard has outdoor dining which stays full in the warmer months. Inside the main building, there’s breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, including a new Sunday brunch. And, there’s a wonderful afternoon tea in what’s called the lounge, but feels like a parlor or drawing room. A surprise awaits beneath the Main House, the 380-plus-year-old stone Stafford Cellars with barrel-shaped ceiling, 7,000 bottles and home to wine tastings overseen by Geno Nardella, the master sommelier who has a 30-year history at the hotel. The space is popular for special events and stays full with twice-daily soirees several weeks leading up to the holiday season. The cellars are part of interconnected tunnels that lead to St. James Palace, so let your imagination run wild about politicos and their clandestine activities as you sip a favorite port. For those feeling the need to pull themselves away for a workout, The Stafford partners with The Third Space, a top-rated athletic club with swimming pool and spa. There’s always jogging, too, steps away in St. James or Green Park, and The Mews has a small but nicely outfitted workout room in its bottom level. OK, well, we really should get out and about London now: We hear there’s this thing called the London Eye we should check out. Next time you’re in London, you’ll do yourselves well to check out Hotel Stafford. As the Brits like to say, it's brilliant. About The Hotel Tucked away in the heart of St James’s, The Stafford radiates an air of Englishness into an increasingly international capital. From the 380-year-old working wine cellars to the beautifully restored Carriage House and contemporary Stafford Mews suites, it is the first choice for the discerning traveler. Complimenting the hotel’s fine-dining English restaurant and informal lounge, the award-winning American Bar (home to one of the capital’s most fascinating collections of international artifacts, memorabilia and oddities) is the choice for those seeking to relax in a lively, yet sophisticated setting while enjoying a classic cocktail, pint of the bar’s “Owner’s Brew” or a fine cigar in adjacent outdoor heated lounge.
Aug 08, 2009 Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com. Park Hyatt Milano
Summer spin: Cycle your way through the travel season with Park Hyatt hotels
I've heard of all sorts of hotel valets, from the people who help with your luggage to the guys who spritz water on you at the pool. But bicycle valets? Yep!
At most Park Hyatt hotels worldwide, two-wheelers (you know, those machines with handlebars and lots of gears) are available from these helping hotel employees to all who stay at Hyatt's most luxurious properties. These handy bike hands encourage you to see the city, get some fresh air and keep your sightseeing eco-friendly for up to four hours either gratis or at a very nominal cost. From Beaver Creek (watch the hills!) to Beijing (plenty of two-wheeling company there) to Buenos Aires (take a break from your tango lessons and roll over to San Telmo), peddling your way around to check out the neighborhoods-du-jour is tempting, for sure. So tempting, in fact, that I may just take a chance and try to get on one of these babies. After all, doesn't the saying go, "You can always get back on the bike?" Or was that "the horse?" Either or, these Park Hyatt rides are even more alluring since they are a new breed called hybrid bicycles. I guess that means more help when the hills are higher than your energy quotient. To help make your ride as comfortable and safe as can be, Park Hyatt Bicycle Valets get you going on the right path with bike lock, helmet, kickstand, a biking map, and some fresh bottled water. Cycling Park Hyatt-style is available at most Park Hyatt hotels around the world, up to and including fantastic homes-away-from-home in Goa, Hamburg, Istanbul, Seoul, Melbourne and Chicago. Oh, and Tokyo, Paris, Zurich, Milan, Sydney, Dubai, and Moscow, too.
Aug 08, 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd Hotel Eden Rome
Frascati, Italy, home to Popes, Emperors...and guilty pleasures
By EIMEAR MONTGOMERIE The decision to hatch a small escape plot was an easy one to make and the rules of the game were restricted by a time limit of four nights and a lack of inclination to fly for very long. Europe is such a huge source of undiscovered excitement. I knew that if I imposed my own constraints on the extent of my travels - budget, planet-friendly worries, shortage of time, etc - and confined the rest of my Big Holiday Adventures to our native continent, I could not be happier or more fulfilled - for the possibilities seem infinite.
It is true to say that we are also led by our tummies and comfort-eating seemed like a good ingredient to throw into the mix. Italy then. Obviously. We caught an early-morning flight to Rome with British Airways and, ignoring the lure of the Eternal City, headed south-east for some 15 miles up into the hills of Frascati. For centuries, well-heeled Romans have sought refuge from the sultry, oppressive summer heat of the city by escaping to the surrounding areas of a region that was hitherto best known to me for producing that pale, straw-coloured, crisply dry white wine available on every supermarket shelf in the British Isles. However, as well as the vineyards, there are lovely landscapes dominated by aged Mediterranean pine trees, tall and shady and fanned by the breezes, and many grand and beautiful classical villas built hundreds of years ago in prominent positions from which to view the panorama of Rome and the coast beyond. The taxi wound its way up and up through many villages until we reached Grottaferrata. We drove through the quiet town before taking a sharp turn down a long, narrow stony drive to the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli, which was picked from the consistently reliable Relais & Chateaux guidebook. A serenely elegant palazzo in a noticeably elevated setting above the town appeared and, as we walked inside, we were met by the charming Chantal, whose father-in-law bought the property in 1987 and set the family and many art historians and craftsmen to work restoring this attractive building to most of its 16th Century glory. Before showing us our room, she gave us a potted history of Grazioli as we wandered round, gaping at some of the wonderful frescoes and works of art. In 1580, Pope Gregory XIII gave his blessing to one of his cardinals to build a villa in order for him to receive 'celestial nourishment of the spirit in tranquillity', according to the letter in their possession. This was his bolt-hole to escape the hullabaloo of Rome and the Church, a place to reflect and recharge. If we then fast-forward to the Second World War during the German occupation of Italy in 1944, Field-Marshal Kesselring chose Grazioli as his headquarters and stored weapons there. Despite the best intentions of the Allied air forces, Grazioli was one of the few larger properties in the town to escape bombing and so by a stroke of sheer luck, and several generations later, it has reverted to its original purpose of pleasing the senses. There is definitely a sense of faded beauty and although the colours of the many Pannini and Carracci murals may have lost some of their radiance, they are still captivating, and in this truly lovely situation it is possible to perceive them as they were in the 18th Century. An ice bucket with a bottle of prosecco alongside a plate of mini crostini was waiting for us in our comfortable suite overlooking the gardens and beyond to the swimming pool. The rooms are furnished as if staying in a rather grand friend's home: there are no generic hotel touches but individual paintings, rugs and chairs give it a most relaxed feel. It is exciting to leave home in Surrey early on a Sunday morning and be in the hills in Frascati in time for lunch. We hopped into the villa shuttle, which dropped us at the foot of a steeply sloped, cobbled street in town and we walked up to Ristorante Belvedere. It is an old-fashioned, family-run trattoria with spectacular, uninterrupted views of Rome, and we were able to pick out the dome of St Peter's Basilica. The chef brought us a plate of antipasti: home-made bread with provolone cheese wrapped in ham, topped with broccoletti infused with garlic in olive oil and a glass (another one) of prosecco while he talked us through his menu and his suggestions. This is where I could go giddy with pleasure and have to curb my tendencies to turn this article into a purely culinary experience, telling you explicitly of the slabs of mozzarella, the thinly hammered veal, the potatoes with rosemary, the delicious inexpensive local wine, the. . ! We ate like kings and finished our meal with a glass of grappa on the house and then wandered, somewhat haphazardly by then, round the deserted town. I wondered why it is so difficult to find such authentic and tasty food, well-priced and informally presented, in the UK. Next day, we had so much to cram in that we decided to hire a local driver - Manilo - to show us as much as possible in our only full day there. Manilo's English was seamless and, better than that, his local knowledge and pride in his heritage would have taken a London cabbie to the wire. We visited the Pope's summer residence in the ancient hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo and the beautiful medieval abbey of Santa Maria, which dates from 1004, before Manilo drove us to his favourite restaurant - Pagnanelli - for lunch. This has been run by generations of the same family for well over a hundred years and offers the most stunning view of Lake Albano in the vast volcanic crater, which provides the natural amphitheatre for the Roman 'castel' towns around it. I could spot the railway tracks running all the way round the lake - what a fantastic journey to make in the summer, when the lake comes to life with sailing and birdlife and picnickers enjoy the sun and the magnificent surroundings. We watched valiant windsurfers try to get the better of the repeated gusts as we chatted, nibbled and sipped our way through yet another superb meal. Afterwards, we were treated to a tour of the extensive wine cellars, which host about 35,000 bottles of fine wines. Dedicated photographs by dozens of stars, from Sophia Loren to Maradona, are evidence of the family's pride and success in their heritage. This is the typical persona of all the locals we met on our trip: impressive knowledge of their history and genuine happiness in the fulfilments of their nation. It's all warm and positive and comforting. It would have been sheer madness not to visit one of the vineyards that put the name Frascati on the map for us at home and, to cap off our rather condensed day of sightseeing, Chantal at Grazioli had arranged a private visit to Santa Benedetta, an impressive old estate producing fine wines and olive oils. We were met by the owner, a wonderful character in his 60s, who showed us inside giant old barns where, side by side, you can see the original oil presses for the olives and the huge stainless-steel vats in which the grapes ferment. He took us inside his house to taste some of his favourite wines and encouraged us to liberally douse the simple tomato and garlic bruschetta laid in front of us with the house extra-virgin olive oil. The combination of the intensely fruity oil, the sweet tomatoes, slightly charred ciabatta and the cold white wine was utterly sensational. Simplicity is brilliance. He told us that 60 per cent of his wine and oil is sold to the UK, so clearly we are the most important clients. However, it was sad to note that we buy only the poorest quality of his produce at the cheapest price, while the lucky Italians consume the best flavours and have the best experience. I wonder whether it is us Britons who are not prepared to pay a bit more for top tastes, or whether the supermarkets make the choices for us? We spent a quiet evening back at Grazioli, dining in the splendid, vaulted-ceiling sala da pranzo; starched white cloths and immaculate silver service accompanied our creamy risottos and classical Italian fish dishes. Being a foodie helped to get the most out of such a short trip, otherwise we would have been too frustrated at all the sights we didn't see. Yet I would thoroughly recommend approaching a 'major' city visit in this way: a couple of days to get a feel for the country, see the surroundings and relax into them, and then contemplate the wonderful experiences to come. We drove in on the 'Roman Way' - the ancient roads built to convey the returning generals, back from their conquests extending the empire, into the centre of Rome where they were presented to the emperor. The magnitude of the city is tangible right from the outskirts. Remains of gates, arches, temples and roads built thousands of years ago by sheer manpower and visionary strength couldn't fail to impress. Finished product: The region is known for its wine We stayed at the renowned Eden Hotel, near the top of the Spanish Steps. Opened in 1889, this hotel has played host to everyone from Federico Fellini to Sigmund Freud and Margaret Thatcher. The seriously romantic Terrazza restaurant on the top floor is considered to have the best views of the city, as well as having a covetable reputation for delicious food. It is sumptuously decorated in a classic English country-house fashion and the rooms are extremely comfortable with a multiplicity of soft furnishings and marble bathrooms. Pretty little china dishes of fresh raspberries and handmade chocolates were laid out for us. Heading out in the rain that afternoon, with a map and an umbrella and a bit of luck, we found the Pantheon - the grand temple to the pagan gods of the seven planets that the Roman Catholic church converted to Christianity in about 600 AD, and where the sarcophagus of Rafael lies. We then navigated our way to the sheer romantic extravaganza of the Trevi Fountain. It made us laugh out loud it is so fabulous. We shopped at Sermoneta, the famous shop devoted entirely to selling gloves of every hue and length, and had tea and gelato in one of the cosy little cafes found on every corner. As it was the first visit to Rome of my 'Official Photographer', my fiance Nick Cook, 55, we hired a professional guide who enabled us to see most of the major sites in just one action-packed day. Not that I would recommend cramming the way we did, but I definitely would recommend the services of this trade. We had a fascinating day visiting the Forum, the Colosseum and Circus Maximus in the morning, queue-jumping as we went, before lunching near the Vatican in a little place we would never have found ourselves that was filled mostly with elderly nuns texting and chatting on their mobiles over ice cream and espresso. We finished off our whirlwind tour gazing open-mouthed at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There is nothing I can add to what you can read in any travel guide of the wonders of this ancient city and I couldn't begin to hope to improve on the aesthetic descriptions of the art and architecture you will witness. But on a personal note, spend more than a couple of days in this stupendous place and make sure you see all the big sights, because you will remember them all your life. Or eternally, as the Romans might say.
Jul 07, 2009 Baglioni Hotels Press Release Luna Hotel Baglioni
GRAND HOTEL BAGLIONI BOLOGNA IS THE BEST LARGE CITY HOTEL IN EUROPE
Milan, July 29th, 2009 - Baglioni Hotels, the luxury collection of hotels in Italy, France and London, is delighted to announce that the 5* Grand Hotel Baglioni, Bologna has received a prestigious award in Travel+Leisure magazine. WORLD’S BEST AWARDS 2009: 1st rank in the category for Large City Hotels in Europe (more than 100 rooms) and 31st rank in the Top 100 Hotels overall. In 2009 another important recognition for the hotel from Travel+Leisure readers: T+L 500, WORLD’S BEST HOTELS 2009: 10th position in the ranking of the Best hotels in Europe. In the same chart also the Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice has achieved an excellent position among the Top hotels in Europe.
This is the 14th year that Travel+Leisure magazine's readers have voted for the World's Best cities, islands, hotels, cruises, and airlines. Published in the USA, Travel+Leisure, one of the world's leading travel magazines, has a monthly circulation of almost one million readers internationally. The Grand Hotel Baglioni is housed in a magnificent palazzo in the heart of Bologna. Beautifully decorated throughout with rich fabrics, paintings and marble halls it has long been a favourite of royalty and international VIPs. Impeccable personal service, a renowned restaurant, luxurious surroundings and the latest technology including free WI-FI go together to make a superb hotel. The outstanding attributes of the Grand Hotel Baglioni are evident throughout the Baglioni Hotels Collection which currently has 9 properties in major Italian cities, 1 in London and 5 stunning hotels in France. Later this year the Baglioni Hotel and Ràcz Thermal Spa will open in Budapest.
Jul 07, 2009 petergreenberg.com Wynn Las Vegas
Ask the Locals: Las Vegas, Nevada
Alex Stratta, Executive Chef of Alex and Stratta at the Wynn Las Vegas: Although Stratta generally eats off the Strip, as most Las Vegas locals do, he does have a few favorite high-rolling dining spots. One stop is the Pan-Asian Wazuzu inside Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. You’ll know you’re at Wazuzu, which means “nine dragons” in Chinese, when you catch sight of the giant 27-foot Swarovski crystal-encrusted dragon looming on the wall.
Or you might catch the chef enjoying some fine French cuisine at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon inside the MGM Grand. Along with a Michelin star, this restaurant’s claim to fame is its open kitchen setup where diners can see their food being prepared—hence the name “L’Atelier,” or “artist’s workshop.” There are no budget options in this establishment, but a smart choice is the $75 tasting menu (far less expensive than the nearby Joël Robuchon restaurant, where decadent three-star dining starts at $89 for a two-course prix fixe menu). Off the Strip, you might find this top chef getting messy with his kids at T.C.’s World Famous BBQ Rib Crib, or ordering authentic Mexican food at Los Antojos Mexicanos. For sushi, locals head to Zen of Japan, or dine on traditional Thai at Archi’s Thai Kitchen on Flamingo Road. Or for affordable French cuisine, try the locally loved Marche Bacchus (www.marchebacchus.com) restaurant and wine bar.
Jul 07, 2009 cometogermany.com Rocco Forte Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt
Rheingau Wine Festival in Frankfurt
2 - 11 September 2009
Rheingau vintners will present their fine wines in the Fressgass, the gourmet restaurant and fine food street off downtown Frankfurt´s pedestrian shopping zone. The short Fressgass will accommodate 30 vintners’ booths for tastes of more than 600 wines and sparkling wines from the Rheingau region.
Jul 07, 2009 cometogermany.com Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich
Oktoberfest in Munich
19 September - 4 October 2009
There simply aren't enough superlatives to describe Munich's world-famous Oktoberfest. Held on the Wies'n fairground, the festival is opened year after year with a telling shout of "O'zapft is" (the barrel is tapped).
Jul 07, 2009 Media News International The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin
Claudia Schiffer To Speak At IHT’s Luxury Conference In Berlin
The International Herald Tribune has announced that Claudia Schiffer will join the lineup of high-profile speakers at its annual luxury conference – this year titled Techno Luxury – taking place at the Ritz-Carlton, Berlin on November 17 and 18, 2009.
One of the original supermodels, Ms. Schiffer is an internationally recognized name in the luxury industry, having worked with many of the world’s most prestigious brands. She will talk about the challenges of maintaining and protecting your global image in a digital world where fashion and celebrity media platforms have proliferated. Attendees from more than 40 countries range from C.E.O.’s, presidents and managing directors of luxury brands to creative directors, designers and suppliers. The events offer delegates an unparalleled opportunity to debate the latest business developments and trends and to network with peers from around the world in some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. This year’s program will focus on how the technology and other marketing innovations can offer new creative direction and business opportunities for luxury goods. Confirmed speakers include Christopher Bailey, creative director for Burberry; Tomas Maier, creative director for Bottega Veneta; and Frida Giannini, creative director for Gucci. Among the C.E.O.’s will be Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, C.E.O. of Hugo Boss AG; Alain Dominique Perrin, executive director of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA; Natalie Massenet, founder and chairman of Net-a-Porter; Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, president and C.E.O. of Timex Group, B.V. and company executives from Luxottica eyewear, Moncler and Prada. “ As technology and the luxury industry collide, technology is not only affecting retail and supply chain logistics but also creativity,” said Suzy Menkes, fashion editor, International Herald Tribune, and chair of the conference. “At Techno Luxury we will look at some of the exciting, new ideas technology has inspired in designers and address the business benefits technology brings. “ Berlin is the perfect city for this year’s conference. It represents all that is new and cutting edge – and our extensive program will explore all areas of Techno Luxury . Topics will include the application of smart fabrics in intelligent fashion; the importance of a joined-up approach to new technologies, from supply chain through stores to the head office; and how far the benefits of technology really extend in the creation of luxury goods, in a session called ‘Human Hands Fight Back.’ ” The IHT’s highly regarded international business of luxury conference, now in its ninth year, is the must-attend annual forum for business and creative leaders from across the global luxury goods and fashion industry. The pioneering conference has been held in New Delhi , Moscow , Istanbul , Dubai and Hong Kong since its inception in Paris . Noted speakers from past conferences include Bernard Arnault, Donatella Versace, Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren. The conference is sponsored by the Ritz-Carlton, Berlin and the International Fur Trade Federation .
Jul 07, 2009 The Hollywood Interview Byblos Hotel, Saint-Tropez
The legend continues....Hotel Byblos and Les Caves du Roy: Cannes Festival-goers Find Solace in Quaint Riviera Town
by Nicole Muj Summer in the South of France has officially begun, marked by the season opening of the legendary Hotel Byblos Saint-Tropez and world famous nightclub Les Cave du Roy. Located on the stunning coastline on the Bay of Pampelonne, lined with sandy white beaches and sun-filled days, Saint Tropez is the home of this iconic hotel.
Without question, the Byblos is the premiere hotel of the Cote D'Azur, host to some of the world’s top stars over the years, including Jack Nicholson, Cher, the late Princess Grace and Brigitte Bardot. Mick Jagger proposed to Bianca on the balcony of a Byblos suite. Bardot still makes her home in the quaint seaside village. Offering recluse from the busy neighboring festival town, the Byblos invites Cannes VIPs a place to get away to relax and rejuvenate, away from the spotlight in the secluded, ultra luxurious residence. Originally opened in 1967, the Byblos, the striking hillside hotel with its distinctive exterior painted in shades of rich terracotta and deep golds, is part of the Groupe Floirat, a collection of properties owned by the Chevanne family. This season, the Byblos unveiled the labors of an elaborate transformation project that included renovation of one third of the hotel’s rooms, refurbished in luxurious colorful fabrics that celebrate the uniqueness of the French Riviera and joy of the summer. Charming bathrooms extend the beach experience, with exquisite mosaics by Botticini, dramatic mosaic tiles mixed with polished pebbles. Designed with a subtle mix of Lebanese and Mediterranean styles, the hotel lobby warmly welcomes guests with inviting modern couches and chairs surrounded by traditional kilim rugs, a tribute to the hotel’s origins. Dining at the Byblos offers a wonderful culinary journey. Guests may enjoy the poolside restaurant The B. featuring “light bites” or tapas, delights from the Mediterranean region with inspirations from French, Italian, Greek, Spanish and Lebanese dishes. For more formal dining, the Byblos serves up SPOON, the Riviera’s version of the popular franchise created by the globally renowned chef Alain Ducasse. Of course, the popular Provencal rosé wine, the water of Saint-Tropez, flows freely at every meal. After the sun goes down, it’s time for Saint Tropezians to come out and play. The Byblos is the home to Les Caves du Roy, perhaps the most famous nightclub in Europe. Year after year, Les Caves hosts a who’s who of the international celebrity jet set. Beyonce, Jay Z, Sting, Elton John and Bono all have walked through the doors of Les Caves that recently unveiled its first major facelift since the 1970s. To help recover and rewind after an evening at clubbing or a day of play under the Provence sun, the Byblos Spa offers a haven of peace and serenity, featuring rejuvenating treatments and rituals exclusively by Sisley cosmetics. What's next at the Byblos? Antoine Chevanne, the handsome, young General Manager/Director General of Groupe Floirat, has grand plans to expand the Groupe Floirat brand, with the recent opening of La Réserve, the first of a collection of charming, boutique hotels, and the October 2009 unveiling of The Black Legend Monaco. The lavish new nightclub dedicated to the sounds of Motown is just what the principality ordered. Plans to extend the “Riviera experience” across the pond are also in works. The company’s ambitious expansion strategy includes the opening of a new Byblos-inspired hotel and Les Caves nightclub in the US in the very near future. But until that happens, the legend of the Byblos remains…in Saint-Tropez.
Jul 07, 2009 grandhoteleurope.com Grand Hotel Europe - St Petersburg, Russia
Unique Historic Suites at the Grand Hotel Europe
St Petersburg, June 2009 — The leading hotel in St Petersburg has announced that ten unique historic suites are opened in the northern wing of the hotel’s Historic Floor. The idea of creating historic suites belongs to the hotel’s General Manager, Thomas Noll. Each suite has its own name, and the individual interior design of every one will correspond to its name. The detailed reconstruction and renovation of the suites was carried out under the supervision of the French designer Michel Jouannet, who is renowned for his restoration work on the historic interiors of the celebrated Cipriani hotel in Venice, and the Copacabana Palace in Rio-de-Janeiro.
A strong influence of French culture has always been present in the architecture and interiors of St Petersburg. The importance of this tradition has been asserted once again by the work of Monsieur Jouannet, who has combined the elegance of St Petersburg during the era of the Emperor Alexander I with contemporary standards of comfort. He has softened the stern character of Classicism with the use of soft and comfortable furnishings and silk fabrics. The historic suites have retained all of their antique elements of décor thanks to the painstaking restoration work carried out in the hotel. All of the suites are spacious, with an area of 55 to 97 square metres, and 4.3 meter-high ceilings. All the suites have a vestibule, a living room, bedroom and large bathroom. Their windows look out onto the most picturesque spot in the historic centre of St Petersburg – Arts Square, with its monument to the great poet Alexander Pushkin and the building of the Noble Assembly, currently home to the Philharmonic. Every one of the ten historic suites has its own name, which reflects the rich history of both the hotel and St Petersburg, and a corresponding original design concept. Modern levels of comfort are guaranteed by furniture that has been made to order, but the spirit of old St Petersburg is preserved through the use of antique furniture and furnishings, which adorn the hotel extensively. The bathrooms are finished in various kinds of Italian marble. No. 127: The Lidval Suite is named in honour of Fyodor Ivanovich Lidval, one of the greatest architects working in St Petersburg at the beginning of the 20th century, and an outstanding master of the Art Nouveau style. Lidval helped to redesign the hotel’s interiors from 1908 to 1914. His most significant work in the hotel includes redesigning the Lobby Bar and the Krysha Ballroom in the Art Nouveau style, and redecorating the hotel’s main staircase and the first floor hall (now the Lidval room on the hotel’s Historic Floor). The suites adjacent to this room have borne the name of Lidval since 1991. The Lidval Suite consists of a large living room with a winter garden on a small, glass-covered veranda, a bedroom and spacious, antique-styled bathroom. The historic interior and spirit of the age of Lidval is preserved in the room. The stucco adorning the walls of the living room is carefully restored, and the interior of the bathroom is decorated in Imperador Light marble and contrasting lacquered wood. The rooms are furnished with antique furniture from the hotel’s collection. No. 105: The Pavarotti Suite is the room in which the celebrated Italian tenor stayed during his final tours in 2004. This suite has always been a favourite with musicians due to the antique grand piano that stands in the living room, allowing guests to practice without even leaving their room. The interior of the suite is being stylised in the spirit of the finest opera houses in the world – the Opera Garnier in Paris and La Scala in Italy. The colour scheme dominated by hues of gold and red. The bathroom is finished in contrasting types of black and pink marble – Granit Black Absolute and Rosso Verona. No. 119: The Stravinsky Suite is named after the great composer Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, for whom the Evropeiskaya Hotel, as the Grand Hotel Europe was then known, was the first port of call when he returned to Russia 48 years after emigrating. His music is associated with spring and general awakening, and so the interior dominated by joyful hues of spring-like green. The bathroom is decorated in green marble (Verde de Guatemala) and fabled Carrara marble. No. 107: The Dostoevsky Suite is named after Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, who was a frequent guest of the hotel. Archives have preserved a quote by Dostoevsky on the unprecedented scale of the hotel’s construction: “The architecture of this modern, huge hotel is efficiency itself, Americanism, hundreds of rooms, a vast industrial undertaking.” To capture the mood of this great Russian writer, the designer has chosen tones that are fresh, yet deep and ‘serious’. The walls are decorated with wallpaper featuring a 19th-century style pattern, and the living room contains a large desk for literary work. The bathroom is decorated in contrasting types of marble, Emperador Dark and Light. No. 112: The Faberge Suite is named in honour of the renowned Russian jeweller, Carl Faberge. The interior designed in the finest traditions of his age and work, embodying his works of art. The colour scheme dominated by pink, lilac and golden tones, and the suite is furnished with light, almost white coloured furniture encrusted with precious stones and patina. Suite No. 123: The Rossi Suite is named after the architect Carlo Rossi, who is closely linked to the hotel, since he designed both the hotel’s façade and the architectural ensemble of the adjacent Arts Square and Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa, on which the hotel is located. The Rossi Suite is decorated in classic “Rossi” white and yellow – the colours that grace so many of the celebrated architect’s masterpieces around St Petersburg. The bathroom is decorated in Gialli Atlantide and Crema Marfil marble. No. 121: The Romanov Suite is named in honour of the Imperial Russian dynasty, members of which regularly frequented the hotel. The last tsar, Emperor Nicholas II, held diplomatic receptions in the hotel. This suite has a truly palatial atmosphere. It is furnished with antique furniture featuring decorative gold moulding, and the bathroom is decorated with Rosso Levanto and Crema Marfil marble. No. 109: The Imperial Yacht Suite is named after the Russian royal yacht, the Derzhava, which stunned contemporaries with the unprecedented opulence of its interiors. Shades of marine colours dominates the colour scheme of the suite, while the bathroom is decorated in green and cream marble (Verde de Guatemala and Crema Marfil.) No. 125: The Amber Suite - is named in honor of the famous Amber room of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo which is often referred to as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. It is decorated in warm amber tones, in keeping with its name. The bathroom features pink and yellow types of marble, Rosso di Verona and Giallo Atlantide. No. 113: The Mariinsky Suite is named in honour of the celebrated Mariinsky Theatre. The great choreographer Marius Petipa stayed here, and Anna Pavlova, surrounded by admirers of her dancing, celebrated her success in the hotel’s restaurants. Other illustrious guests connected with the world of music and ballet to have stayed at the hotel include Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Johann Strauss, Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitry Shostakovich. The suite is decorated in light blue tones to match those of the interior of the Mariinsky Theatre. The suite has a theatrical ambience to it. The bathroom is decorated with Travertino Walmut and Crema Marfil marble.
Jul 07, 2009 grandhoteleurope.com Grand Hotel Europe - St Petersburg, Russia
Seven Stars and Stripes of the Grand Hotel Europe
The Grand Hotel Europe has been awarded the highest honour of 'World Level Perfection' from the Seven Stars and Stripes organization, an international system of awards for the hospitality industry. The award was presented to Thomas Noll, the general manager of the Grand Hotel Europe, by Seven Stars and Stripes President Thorsten Buehrmann, in the presence of the hotel's management and staff as well as honorable guest Christian Kremer, the President of “BMW Russland Trading” company. It is the fifth time that the Grand Hotel Europe has been awarded the honour, confirming once again a 2005 verdict. An award for outstanding culinary skills was given to the hotel's executive chef, Anatoly Ivanov, the first Russian chef in the history of Grand Hotel Europe.
The standards of service in various hotels do not always correspond to the requirements defined by the existing star classification system. The Seven Stars and Stripes awards help travellers to choose truly outstanding hotels from a huge number of already acclaimed establishments. Representatives of the Seven Stars and Stripes organization carefully examine the quality of all the services provided by hotels all over the world, including room service and the quality of the food and service in the restaurant. Only the best of the best are given this award. The classification system is very simple: World Level Perfection – 7 Stars and Stripes Society – 6 Stars and Stripes Extraordinary – 5 Stars and Stripes Merit – 4 Stars and Stripes Hotels and restaurants which obtain 4 or more Stars and Stripes are included on the American Dream List. Winners of the award must show every year that they continue to deserve the honour, so experts from Seven Stars and Stripes assess the level of service in hotels once a year. The award is given on the basis of the results of a two-day inspection of hotels, which includes visiting the hotel's restaurants and sampling the menu, and assessing the comfort of the rooms and additional services offered to guests. In the words of Thorsten Buehrmann, the Grand Hotel Europe astounded him with its impeccable hotel and restaurant service. However, it was the hotel's cuisine, prepared under the leadership of executive chef Dominique Ferchaud, that left the most unforgettable impression on him. Dominique was presented with a separate Seven Stars and Stripes award for his team's culinary skills. "You are culinary geniuses," Mr. Buehrmann told the kitchen staff. In his acceptance speech, Thomas Noll thanked the Seven Stars and Stripes organization for its appraisal of the hotel's work, and warmly thanked the staff and management of the Grand Hotel Europe present at the ceremony. Inspection reports by the Seven Stars and Stripes organization from previous years about the Grand Hotel Europe can be found at: http://www.sevenstarsandstripes.com/magazine.asp?city=St.%20Petersburg The Grand Hotel Europe is currently the only holder of this prestigious award in St. Petersburg. Other recent awards won by the hotel include the following: In 2005 the hotel was included in the top twenty business hotels in Europe. In 2006, it was included for a fourth time in the T+L 500 list, a list of the best 500 hotels and resorts in the world compiled by Travel+Leisure magazine. In 2007 the hotel was included on the Gold List, a collection of the best 700 hotels and resorts in the world compiled by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. In 2008, the Grand Hotel Europe was named the best hotel in Russia by Afisha World magazine.
Jul 07, 2009 Highgrove Hotels & Services The Goring Hotel London
THE GORING IN LONDON WINS ‘HOTEL OF THE YEAR – INDEPENDENT’
London, 8 July 2009: On the eve of its Centenary in 2010, The Goring was one of the big winners at last night's Cateys, picking up the Hotel of the Year Independent award at the hospitality industry Oscars in London. The Goring was chosen by a panel of eight judges, who praised the hotel for its superb service delivered by genuinely caring staff. Judge Gordon Cartwright of the Automobile Association said: “The Goring serves as an inspiration to those in the industry who share the belief that unswerving best practice can comfortably coexist with innovation and dynamic investment.” This is the second major award The Goring has won this year. In April it was named "Hotel of the Year" by Pride of Britain Hotels, a collection of the country’s finest privatelyowned hotels.
The Goring was opened by Otto Goring in 1910. As its centenary approaches, it is now the only five star hotel in London that is owned and run by the family that built it. Jeremy Goring, Otto Goring’s greatgrandson, is the fourth Goring to run The Goring. The interiors have recently been refreshed by some of the country’s finest designers, including Tim Gosling, Nina Campbell and Russell Sage. The Dining Room, by David Linley, is a haven for superbly cooked English food using British ingredients. Above all, The Goring reflects one family’s passion for quality – whose members have prided themselves on providing comfort, good food and drink and the most attentive service for almost a century. Jeremy Goring said: “We’re all delighted to have won this award. I have to thank our staff: I’ve always known that we have a great team here, but now that has been confirmed by the leading lights in our industry.” Last year’s winner, Beppo BuchananSmith of the Isle of Eriska hotel said: “With excellent management and guidance from the top, The Goring has developed and evolved, to remain at the forefront of the industry. Through timeless hospitality and service it has managed to balance the traditions of the past with the contemporary trials of modern life, making it a model for others to aspire to.” Pictured above from left to right Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper; Michael McIntyre, comedian; Graham Copeman, GM The Goring; Jeremy Goring; David MorganHewitt MD The Goring and Chris Moore, Director and Head of Colliers Robert Barry (Sponsor). ABOUT THE CATEYS Since 1984 The Cateys have cast a spotlight on the industry’s high flyers, strongest performers and hottest brands. They have become a byword for quality, class and achievement, the awards that everybody wants to win. No wonder the industry refers to them as its Oscar Night.
Jul 07, 2009 CatererSearch The Connaught London
Riccardo Semeria wins the Galvin Cup 2009
Riccardo Semeria, a mixologist from the Connaught bar in London won the Galvin Cup competition this evening and walks away with a cheque for £1,500.
Riccardo saw off 33 other competitors from bars from across London and the UK, at the event held this year at the Dorchester hotel. Each contestant had to create a classic martini using sponsor, Belevedere vodka and also a creation of their own. Riccardo's winning creation was a Royal Cobbler and consisted of Belvedere Black Raspberry, vermouth, lemon, basil and homemade spice soda. Caroline Weiss from the Lobby Bar at One Aldwych came second while Gavin McGovan from St Alban bar came third. Speaking after the event, Riccardo said that he was shocked to have won, but thanked his team at the Connaught for the support they had given him, as he had only recently started to enter competitions.
Jul 07, 2009 yourtango.com SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand
World's Sexiest Hotel Bathrooms
In some hotels, couples find it hard to get out from between the sheets. But at Skylofts, the boutique hotel atop Las Vegas's MGM Grand, you'll make even better memories in the bathroom.
Its centerpiece is an oversized, infinity-edge, 32-inch-deep tub with "champagne" bubbles and water that lights up in a rainbow of hues. (If you've never splashed neck-deep in water merrily spilling over the tub's edges, it is fun.) Play with multiple wall jets and a handheld wand in your walk-in shower/steam room, or get wet with simulated waterfalls and rain showers. A remote control lets you adjust temperature, set mood lighting, and create a customized music/video library, if you should want to watch HDTV (embedded in a mirror facing the tub) while you come clean. If you like, a "spa butler" will draw your bath, add scented salts, then discreetly depart, leaving behind flickering candles and chilled champagne. You can later arrange for a "dream butler" to deliver your choice of pillows and an herbal tea nightcap for sweet slumber. As if anyone will be sleeping.
Jul 07, 2009 examiner.com Claridge's
Grand hotels, then and now
Author: Jane Lasky When I was a teen, Mom called me Marjorie Morningstar, the character in the Herman Wouk novel of the same name. She wasn't comparing me with that wacky woman who lived a whirlwind life, but rather with her love of hotels. In the story, I remember a mature Marjorie wed at The Pierre hotel in New York City. In real life, Marilyn Monroe stayed there and Natalie Wood even lived in the prestigious property for a while. My goal? To check in to this iconic Manhattan manse - permanently. I adore The Pierre and its sister members of "grand hotel" society, those venerable, over-the-top places once reserved for the very wealthy and the very privileged; for kings, queens, movie stars and captains of industry.
Happily, as a career travel writer, I've enjoyed my share over 35 years. Though not always overnighting, I have walked their halls, sat in their lobbies and taken their teas to study just what makes these rarified retreats tick. I looked into dozens as I studied what makes a hotel grand. In the hunt, amazing things happened. At the Peninsula Hong Kong, I stepped into the elevator and came face to face with Imelda Marcos. In her hands were five boxes of new shoes. At Claridges in London, I checked in and found that staffers had recovered my document case, lost on a British train a week earlier. Happily, my plane tickets home were still inside. At The Dorchester, the concierge invited me to dine on the premises with the hotel's compliments, not a surprising gesture for such a grand establishment. The twist? I wasn't staying at the Dorch that trip. Rather, I was at a competitor's property. This concierge had heard about my impending arrival from his Beverly Hills hotel colleague (word does get around) and he wanted to make sure I felt cared for while in London. Grand hotels are definitely places that care. They are properties to count on when you want to splurge, to celebrate, to gain perspective on the world. They are not casual choices for your ordinary holiday but rather for vacations you will remember for a lifetime. They are places to write home about. A hotel of this caliber doesn't always need to be of a specific age. Nor does it have to be in a city center. Consider Phuket's inimitable Amanpuri. Opened in 1988 overlooking the Andaman Sea, this amazing resort thrives in a tranquil coconut grove. Once on the premises, I knew this was one special place, so much so that after exchanging a greeting with my host, my formerly frazzled self was suddenly at peace. I seriously considered mortgaging my house to pay for a month's stay at this tropical wonderland. New-yet-grand also applies to the Park Hyatt Istanbul MackaÖ PalasÖ with its enticingly long lobby. On one side, rare wines line an entire wall. On the other, tiered seating pods offer books to ponder. At the far end, is a beautiful floor-to-ceiling mural. Look more closely and find the artwork consists of thousands of tiny tiles. Astounding! The Peninsula Tokyo, opened in 2008, makes its grand stand with the rooftop Peter restaurant where anything can happen. Between our bites of Yonesawa beef brisket, a tutu-garbed ballerina emerged from a hidden door, on point and smiling while becoming drenched in a pouring rainfall. All dinner conversation stopped. We were awestruck. The dancer, 24 stories above the city, performed perfect pirouettes. Absolutely delightful! With that experience under my belt, I can't wait to discover what the Peninsula Shanghai offers when it opens this fall in art deco splendor. Time inevitably wears down even the most well-heeled grand hotel. So, for most, renewal seldom stops. A good example? The Pierre. Having stood the test of time since debuting in 1940, this Fifth Avenue Grand Dame has endured more than one face-lift. This month, [June, 2009] the iconic hotel reopens after a $100 million overhaul. Under the fresh ownership of prestigious Taj Hotels, The Pierre's enticements includes silk brocade murals, Turkish marble bathrooms and Le Caprice of British restaurant fame. I recall a month-long stay at New York's legendary Plaza Hotel in 1986. The Palm Court was as elegant as when Mom took me there in 1963 so I could pretend to be Eloise while lingering over ice cream with raspberries on top. But, the guest rooms were noisy, dowdy and drafty. In subsequent years, the Plaza went through a number of owners and sank lower. Today is another story. In its newest incarnation, under the Fairmont banner, the Plaza is back after a two-year, $400 million restoration. White-gloved butlers cater to a guest's every whim and 24-karat gold-plated sinks sparkle. Meanwhile, an impressive spa, Caudalie, speaks to a newer, calmer Plaza guest, as does the Zen garden, a great place to meditate over all the splendor. The grandest hotels move into modern times with panache. Marrakech's La Mamounia, first bowing in 1923, will reopen this fall after updating. The renewed Mamounia will include a massive spa with traditional Moroccan hamman bath. The newest reinvention at the venerable Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, is a real coup: an astounding Michelin three-star restaurant, thanks to top chef Anne-Sophie Pic. A mark of any truly grand hotel is unforgettable service. In early days at the Connaught in London, booking was so exclusive that you apparently had to be referred by another guest in order to be allowed to stay. Rooms went empty rather than admit the wrong caliber of client. Not anymore. This fine hotel has become inviting, warm and fuzzy. Everyone who can pay the tab can stay. A bonus: Staffers know your name and every whim. I spent about three years off and on in Hong Kong, making the magnificent Mandarin Oriental my home-away-from-home. My face became so familiar that staffers often discreetly plucked me from the taxi line, ushering me to the hotel's back door and into one of the hotel's stretch limousines, which would whisk me to my appointment in style. That's service. Very grand service. Who could ask for anything more?
Jun 06, 2009 The Moment Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Cannes Heat | Day 3 on the Cote d’Azur
By STEFANO TONCHI CANNES — This town is catching up with me, and to be honest I am not so sure how much longer I will last before surrendering to the call of the beach. Today was Tarantino day, with much anxiety and anticipation in the air, as much for the premiere of “Inglourious Basterds” as for the arrival of Brad and Angelina, who were scheduled to walk up the stairs of the Palais at 6:50 p.m. local time. The action has really picked up these last 12 hours; the halls of the Martinez are now closed to the public and guests are required to carry a special I.D. in order to get through all of the newly installed security checkpoints.
Without a movie commitment for the afternoon, I take a deep breath and dive not into the hotel pool but rather into underworld of the festival. By underworld I don’t mean the business of buying and selling and distributing films, or even the hangers-on who keep the various V.I.P.’s stocked with call-girls, rent-boys or other addictive substances of choice. No, here I’m talking about the fashion product placement industry — the business of putting gowns, tuxedos, earrings and necklaces on the backs, ears and necks of celebrities, not to mention the screens of your television and the pages of your newspapers and magazines. It all happens here, in the rooms of the Majestic, the Carlton and more often the Martinez. An army of young and experienced publicists, dressers, fit masters, hair stylists and makeup artists camp out all day by the bar ordering Diet Cokes and espressos and lighting cigarettes. They work for many different designers and companies — Dior, Chanel, Armani, Versace, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Chopard, Di Grisogono, Swarovski — and they all compete for the same prize. They wait and wait, they seduce and charm, they take phone calls and return phone calls 24/7, they scream and badmouth and basically work really hard while the designers whose name is on the label they represent are comfortably sleeping in Paris or Milan or on their private yachts. They talk lightly but with certainty about the economic crisis and budget cuts, and they wonder out loud if having fewer international stars to contend with has made their lives easier or more difficult and joke nervously about how many of them will come back to Cannes next year. Next, I am on my way to the old port to check on the state of the boats and meet the Cavallis. In the years past you could play a not too challenging game of name that fashion designer just by looking at the décor of the many yachts docked along the port: a silk-lined Russian icebreaker for Alberta Ferretti, a comfortable, woodsy vessel for Diesel’s Renzo Rosso; a mirrored floating disco for Stefano Dolce and Domenico Gabbana; and a leather and animal skin clad cruiser for Eva and Roberto Cavalli, with whom I am having lunch today. This year, some yacht owners decided to anchor in the bay to safeguard the privacy of their guests; others decided not come at all. But Mr. Cavalli is a showman and an entertainer. Eva Cavalli, who is a perfect host, confesses that she hasn’t left the boat in more than a week as everything she wants or needs comes to her. Retrieving my shoes to leave after lunch, I look inside the box for my loafers and find instead a pair of patent leather boots. Somebody next to me whispers, by way of an explanation, that the world is divided into two categories: women who wear boots in summer and women who don’t. Good to know. Back into my tuxedo and on to the Palais, clutching in my hand a much coveted Orchestra ticket for “Inglourious Basterds,” the most exciting — and likely the most misspelled — title of the year. (You may have seen the T Magazine Cannes Special issue with our story on Quentin Tarantino and his female lead, Diane Kruger.) For this very special occasion I wore a cream silk jacket with a shawl collar that got a lot of attention along the Croisette — or was it the low-cut black lace dress of my colleague walking by my side? Depending on your opinion of yourself and the measure of your self-esteem, you may call the Croisette the walk of fame or the walk of shame. Countless paparazzi are staked out there to snap your picture as you walk, smile, laugh, put on your sunglasses or remove them to reveal your eyes, shield your face with your hands, stop and pose, shout a few bad words — everything that the real the stars do. Then you are handed dozens of cards with addresses indicating where you can pick up your personal celebrity snapshots if, in fact, you believe you are one. Finally fatigued by the performance — and the crowd of tourists armed with their own cameras, thankfully none of them pointed at us — we arrive at the first gate in the front of the Palais. Here the young, very badly dressed security guys take one look at me and tell me I cannot get in because I am not wearing a tuxedo. I protest that I am wearing a tuxedo. They call over an older, better dressed security guy and I explain in my Italian/French that I am wearing a tuxedo, just not a black tuxedo. He kindly suggests that I follow him and takes me to the service entrance, where all of the tuxedo policy offenders are rounded up and judged by the security-guy Style Council. My turn: black pattern shoes, okay. Black tuxedo pants, okay. White pleated tuxedo shirt with cuffs and silver cufflinks, okay. Black silk grosgrain bow tie that matches the cummerbund and tuxedo stripes on the pants, okay. Cream dinner jacket with shawl collar, maybe. But in the end, they let me pass. Missing the red carpet put me in a war mood and sitting comfortably with my colleague in our third row seats — Quentin’s favorite vantage point — we watch on big screen live video of the director reenacting the famous dance number from “Pulp Fiction” with his international cast. We also comment on the outfits of Brad, Angelina and the others as they walk up the staircase of the Palais. Much has been said and will be said about this movie that Tarantino notoriously shot and edited in a very short time and under much pressure, but thought about and imagined for more than 10 years. From the first scene, where the Nazi-occupied French countryside is made to look like a landscape of the American West, the intended hybridization of World War II epic and spaghetti western is apparent. The film is in fact a remake of “Inglorious Bastards,” by the obscure Italian B-movie director Enzo Castellari, who was there at the screening to congratulate Tarantino. Brad Pitt is incredibly believable and funny and handsome as the Nazi scalp collector leading a band of very violent Jewish soldiers as they take their revenge on history. Tarantino has taken his own revenge of sorts, dramatically setting fire in a movie theater to Hitler, Goebbels, et al, who go up in flames along with the entire archive of film history. It must have been very cathartic for him to see it all burn — and it sure looked fantastic on the huge screen of the Palais. And anyway, all archives must be digital by now. The movie switches in and out of French, English, German and even, occasionally, Italian, and the slow-moving action may pose a challenge for American audiences. But the language of violence — the scalping, killing, dismembering, explosions — is international and should no doubt bridge the gap between the cinephile and video-gaming generations in a common celebration of Tarantino. The after party gathered together everybody in the business, and finally the Hollywood bigwigs from Universal, the Weinstein Company, ICM, CAA and the newly formed WME Agency left the privacy of the Hotel Du Cap to mingle with the French intelligentsia and the crowds of fans that keep them in business. To the left of the mega D.J. booth at the Baioli Beach was the boys’ club with Angelina holding court in her peach colored Versace with Brad and the young German actors in the movie all under the protective eye of the superagent Bryan Lourd. On the right side was the girls’ club with Diane Kruger in a long, white, camellia-embroidered Chanel; the young French young actresses from the film and the ladies’ man himself; Quentin Tarantino. It felt very good to have choices and to ultimately decide that it was time to go to bed. Stefano Tonchi is the editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
Jun 06, 2009 2009 Luxury Travel Media Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel Paris
Europe Travel. Virtuoso Sponsors Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Trip of a Lifetime
Consistent with its 'Return on Life™' campaign, luxury travel network Virtuoso crafted the trip of a lifetime by sending a deserving father and his three sons to Paris for the season finale episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." During the episode, which aired on Sunday, May 17, an audience of 13 million viewers in 69 countries watched as the McFarland family of Indianapolis was whisked away on an educationally enriching getaway, an escape worthy of father Bernard McFarland, who is proudly raising his sons to appreciate arts, culture and education. Virtuoso and its travel advisors arrange unique, experiential voyages every day, but for a family who had never before had the opportunity to take a vacation, let alone to a cultural epicenter like Paris at the hands of the most powerful luxury travel organization in the world, this was an experience unlike any other.
Diane Korman, Senior Producer of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," said, "Our team was so excited when Virtuoso offered to create the ultimate 'Return on Life' experience for the McFarland family. Their connections and planning assistance, and of course the incredible products and services donated by their partners, made the McFarland's dream vacation to Paris an incredible reality." Virtuoso reached out to its preferred travel providers and industry connections, rallying to provide this dream getaway for the family. While host Ty Pennington and his crew began demolishing their dilapidated home, the McFarlands were flown to Paris in style via Lufthansa's Business-Class service and escorted to the historic InterContinental Paris-Le Grand Hotel upon arrival. EuroPanache, a Paris-based tour company, arranged exclusive insider experiences for the family throughout their six-day stay, including a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the infamous Eiffel Tower, a boat ride along the scenic Seine River and a "Black Heritage Walking Tour" depicting the rich history of African-Americans in Paris. As a father and mentor, Bernard has been teaching his sons and other children within his community that they can see the world and rise above challenges through books, though not withstanding first-hand experiences. Not only is the pursuit of knowledge a way to rise above adversity, but many are now motivated by education as a way to travel. There is no better way for a child to understand the complex ecosystems of South Africa or the history and mystique of the Taj Mahal than to see these wonders with his or her own eyes. Virtuoso's 'Return on Life™' concept embodies this idea, that a rich life is not measured by personal possessions, but by time well-spent with loved ones on journeys to new destinations and the memories created by these experiences. In keeping with this idea, Virtuoso and its membership of 6,000 elite travel advisors offer a variety of experiences designed to fulfill lives through travel – whether it be exotically romantic to reconnect with a partner or an adventurous solo excursion for oneself – and the approaching summer presents opportunities for children to join the fun in learning experiences beyond the classroom. For example, when booking Abercrombie & Kent Southern Africa's Shamwari Private Game Reserve package through Virtuoso, two children join for free for a getaway that includes game-viewing activities, a cable car ride over Cape Town and a visit to Two Ocean's aquarium. Or, closer-to-home, Virtuosos guests staying at the new Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago can receive four tickets to the "Real Pirates" exhibit at the world-famous Field Museum, where families will enjoy a scavenger hunt as well, and return to their room to find a "Pirates of the Caribbean" DVD with milk and cookies waiting for them. As the mercury on the thermometer rises, the quality of life for families should too, as the freedom of summer provides the chance to taste, touch, see, smell and hear those things children have read about in books throughout the cold of winter. Virtuoso is equipped with the top travel advisors and suppliers from around the world to make sure that those summer vacations yield the best 'Return on Life' possible.
Jun 06, 2009 forbes.com Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
A More Muted Cannes
For years, Cannes has offered the most tantalizing glamour and the most lavish parties. But this year the film festival is tightening its belt as the industry sobers up in line with the global economic crisis, with guests expected to down sparkling wine instead of champagne and onion tart instead of foie gras. Even Vanity Fair's most sought-after black-tie ball is being scrapped.
"Companies are not organizing big evenings or events. The big players will come, of course, but they will not stay as long as they used to or they will cut down in the number of people they send to the festival," Michel Chevillon, head of the association representing around 12 Cannes hotels told Forbes. "Companies in the movie business are going through a hard time and they cannot take this opportunity to show off." According to Chevillon, industry players attending Cannes are spending between 25% to 30% less on hotel accommodations compared to previous years. "They used to stay between nine to 10 nights, now they only will stay between seven to eight nights," he said. And while companies usually book up to 30 rooms for their crews, this year they have cut back to 20 rooms or less. Guests can even find hotel rooms right in the middle of the center, something unconceivable in an event where attendees make reservations a year in advanced. "Occupancy is around 85% this year, whereas before it was 95%," said Chevillon. Companies are also withdrawing their traditional sponsorship. Cosmetics firm L'Oreal has canceled its annual ad campaign on the front of the Hotel Martinez, the seafront Art Deco palace where the most famous celebrities stay. Luxury fashion house Fendi and jeweler Swarovski Crystal have withdrawn their sponsorship from the exclusive Jimmy'z nightclub, while designer Louis Vuitton is skipping an annual charity fundraiser. The yacht business is suffering too with companies that hire the yachts feeling the squeeze with brokers struggling to find third-party companies willing to charter the boats for entertainment. "I have never seen it this empty before," Jeroen Frech, a yacht owner said, adding that his business had seen a 50% fall for the Cannes season. Even Jacques Dessange, the official hairdresser of the festival, is bringing 15 stylists instead of the usual 20 it employs to curl and press the locks of the stars, and has cut its budget by 20%. Yet the hairdresser tries to play down the effects of the crisis. "Crisis or not, the festival will have its same magical touch this year because it is so important that celebrities cannot afford to miss it," said Sophie Lajouanie, a spokeswoman with Dessange. "It will be as glamorous as every year."
Jun 06, 2009 GENEVA LUNCH.COM Hotel Beau Rivage Geneve
Fine wines give Geneva a great evening
Kickoff of Switzerland’s spring wine tastings Claude Berthaudin comes from a long line of winemakers, and has expanded the family business into a distributorship of wines of a quality that only someone “born in the vines” could put together. His spring wine tasting Tuesday 5 May at the Geneva Beau Rivage hotel offered a well-balanced collection of hand-picked wines from all over the world, including the sought-after Lebanese wine Massaya.
Berthaudin: Geneva and Vaud wines, and it’s a family affair Claude Berthaudin The Berthaudin family presented an impressive assortment of their own wines, all produced in Geneva and canton Vaud. Sabrina, Claude’s wife, produces very “nice price” wines of a respectable quality, at Le Crêt in Satigny. Her Crêt Barrique was the Guide Hachette’s 2003 Coup de Coeur - in other words, the judges fell in love with it on first “taste.” The family collection is extended by their vineyards in canton Vaud, located in Tartegnin-sur-Rolle. The Les Feuillantines line, produced by oenologist John Pernet, offers good quality for the money with their Gewuerztraminer de Tartegnin 2005, for example, which would be a perfect compliment to a choucroute. Wines from all over Switzerland Berthaudin is a master at balance. Swiss wines from Valais, Lavaux, Chablais, Neuchatel, Tessin, Zurich and Graubuenden round off his well-composed selection of Swiss wines. Top names in French wines Mr Berthaudin is a master consultant for French wines, so there were some top names in attendance, such as Mr Faiveley himself with so many Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru to taste that one didn’t know where to start; Mrs Chapoutier (Chapoutier is the largest organic wine producer in France), with a wide choice of Rhone Valley wines and their exquisite Côte Rôtie, and wines from Provence, the Southwest and an extensive number of Bordeaux with prices to suit all pockets. Gosset champagne, one of the oldest A whole world of wine, plus Gosset champagne Italy, Spain, Portugal Lebanon, Australia, Argentina, Chili, Uruguay, California and Morocco were also not forgotten, although they were grouped on a small table off to the side. Gosset champagne dates from 1584. It is of an exceptional quality, full of aroma and body, and is bottled in a beautifully shaped, sensual bottle somewhat resembling that of Ruinart. The bottle itself adds a decorative touch to any table. Gosset champagne makes a change from the usual names, and is a wonderful way to introduce your guests to something a little different. Definitely something to try, and once again there’s a price for everyone.
Jun 06, 2009 hotelinteractive.com The Goring Hotel London
Dorchester Collection
With seven of the world’s foremost five-star addresses, the Dorchester Collection celebrates luxury with hotels of original character and the most modern amenities. Established as the Dorchester Group by the Brunei Investment Agency in 1996, Dorchester Collection was rebranded in 2006 to develop an impeccable portfolio of traditional and contemporary properties in Europe and the United States.
The current portfolio of owned and managed properties includes The Dorchester, a 244-room hotel long favored by the cream of society in the heart of Mayfair in London; The Beverly Hills Hotel, a glamorous and celebrity-friendly 204-room property on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles; the elegant Le Meurice, a centuries-old, 160-room property located between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre on rue de Rivoli in Paris; Hôtel Plaza Athénée, a 191-room embodiment of Parisian luxury set between Avenue des Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower; and Hotel Principe di Savoia, a cosmopolitan, 401-room property on the Piazza della Repubblica in Milan. The Dorchester Collection’s newest properties joined in August 2008, including The New York Palace, an icon of Manhattan with the landmark Villard Mansion and a contemporary 55-story tower; and Hotel Bel-Air, a shining star of Los Angeles set on 12 acres in Stone Canyon with 91 guest rooms and the renowned “Swan Lake” inhabited by its own resident swans. With unrivaled experience and capability, cross-property values of the highest order, and strong company branding that expresses universally high regard for its portfolio, Dorchester Collection assures a consistently exceptional guest experience at all of its hotels.
Jun 06, 2009 The New York Times Company Le Meurice Paris
Meals Worth a Flight (or a Cab Ride)
By MIMI SHERATON, the restaurant critic for The New York Times from 1976 to 1984, and the author of the memoir “Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life.” “THE shock of the familiar” is how I think of a visit to a once-favorite restaurant after an absence of 20 years, an experience that has shaped my travel plans ever since. The year was 1979, and I was in Paris after a three-week eating trip throughout France to report on the work of the then-young turks of la nouvelle cuisine: Bocuse, Guérard, Chapel, the Troisgros brothers, among others. Fully sated on innovation and culinary cleverness, I was starved for the traditional flavors that defined France to me, and so I decided to seek out the oldest chef in Paris.
That search led me back to L’Ami Louis, and the 80-year-old Antoine Magnin, the reigning chef since the place opened in the mid-1920s (and hadn’t been painted since). Despite having loved it on my previous visits, I had not been back in years, mostly because I was too often curious about the new and the hot. Though always outrageously expensive, given its worn appearance and total lack of chichi, Louis’s place, as I came to think of it, made me feel as if I had just come home, an impression that gained strength as the food for four of us began to arrive: gigantic, sumptuous snails sizzling in giant shells under a haze of garlic; the housemade, cream-rich foie gras that released its seductively decadent flavor as we spread it on bread toasted over a wood fire; nut-brown roast Bresse chicken, pink gigot of lamb, and the exceptionally crunchy, roseate veal kidneys; potatoes roasted in duck fat and fresh morels adrift in heavy cream. Not a clever idea on the plate, just simple perfection of classics! There and then I resolved never to go to Paris without at least one visit to what remains, under Mr. Magnin’s worthy sucessors, my favorite restaurant in the world as I know it thus far. “Worth a special journey,” the Guide Michelin says of the restaurants that earn its coveted three-star ratings, while two stars indicate those merely “worth a detour.” How many stars then would the good Guide accord a restaurant that is worth a special plane trip across the Atlantic? Given the cost, confusion and discomfort of air travel these days would four stars be enough for that designation, or might such a place rate a five-star constellation? After all, how good can a meal really be? As it turns out, many meals and their settings, as at L’Ami Louis, have been memorable enough to induce me to enplane. And that even in the most punishing economy class, where I would be seat-belted in for eight or nine torturous hours of bad movies, stiff knees, stale air and crying babies. And although full, formal meals in bona fide restaurants are the main draws, I would even fly off for some exceptional and adventurous street eating or one great inimitable dish, whether it is to be found in an elegant Paris restaurant or a busy market. NOTHING in Paris could be in greater contrast to L’Ami Louis than the quiet, luxuriously formal, three-star Le Meurice in the equally posh hotel of the same name, where dishes are presented in a silver and white dining room aglow with mirrors, marble and crystal chandeliers. The fun is in seeing — and tasting — what the chef Yannick Alléno is up to as he reinterprets the best traditions of French cuisine in supple innovations, creating 100 dishes each year, none to be repeated when each seasonal menu expires. That means one can only recall past triumphs, like the pigeon breast encrusted with dark chocolate or poached in a spicy cabernet, or the sweetbreads dramatically garnished with saffron-perfumed ravioli in a foamy licorice cream or foie gras accented with melon. But memorable meals can be found far from upscale venues. I recall lavish noshing in epic outdoor markets like the Viktualienmarkt in Munich and the aptly named Naschmarkt in Vienna. Being crazy about hot dogs, I cherish the varieties — steamed weisswurst, grilled bratwurst and meaty bauernwurst, the slim, smoky Polnischers and the paprika-sparked Debreziners — that can be sampled at stalls and in stubes surrounding those markets. There one can intake all of a day’s calories at a breakfast of potato soup and the glistening, warm, gently steamed liver pâté loaf that is leberkäse (unappealingly translated as liver cheese), offset by sweet and grainy Bavarian mustard. Usually in sight at both markets are tall glasses of bier vom fass: draft beer. In Munich, for me, that would be sunny weissbier spritzed with lemon juice. One dish that lures me back to Madrid is the monumental appetizer at Casa Lucio, the urbane, macho steakhouse catering to local royals and politicians. Huevos estrallados — broken eggs — is the masterpiece of fried eggs, their yolks carefully broken as they are laid over mounds of softly golden fried potatoes, something that never quite tastes the same when I try it at home. Assuming I ever made it out of Heathrow Airport in London, I would head directly for the St. John Bar & Restaurant, Fergus Henderson’s paean to offal and good, solid English fare that he styles up to modern times. Fittingly enough close to the Smithfield meat market, St. John is a reassuringly simple, creamy white setting with civilized, modern service and a menu of the nose-to-tail specialties Henderson celebrates in his cookbook of the same name. For me that always means starting with silky roasted bone marrow nestled on a sprightly parsley and onion salad or crackling nuggets of pig’s cheek on bittersweet dandelion greens. Although main courses include many for the faint of palate — skate, cod, roast beef — my two favorites are the golden-crusted chicken and ox tongue pie and the fiery deviled kidneys. Then I finish off with the traditional currant-filled Eccles cake, gooseberry jelly and thick Jersey cream or, in July and August, a winy red currant summer pudding. Two of my current gastronomic enthusiasms in Italy lie in Le Marche (MAR-kay), the region between Emilia-Romagna and Abruzzo. Like the province itself with its snugly comfortable, unraffish Borghese overtones, the Marchigiano food is deeply satisfying and reassuring, generally homespun in flavor and presentation. But not so homespun perhaps at Symposium 4 Stagioni, a sparkling and soigné restaurant amid the rolling hills of Serrungarina, between Urbino and Pesaro. Having earned one star from Michelin, the chef-patrone Lucio Pompili maintains a dining room and staff as impeccable as his kitchen, where highlights are traditional regional game specialties with modern updates that make them both understandable and intriguing to contemporary palates. Eel is marvelously contrasted to the crisp, diced guanciale as an appetizer, while my favorite among the game dishes is the beccaccia alla Santa Alleanza — roasted, boneless woodcock plumped with goose liver and truffles alongside roasted onions and potatoes and a tangy apple purée. Where Symposium excels at refined sophistication, La Pianella up in the woodlands around Serra San Quirico offers heartwarming, rustic food in a convivially rustic setting. A loyal disciple of the Slow Food movement, Raul Ballarini and his four enchanting daughters guide newcomers to the local artisinal specialties including salumeria and many homegrown vegetables they preserve sott’olio — under olive oil. Those might be followed by taglioni of whole grain farro with porcini, and baciotti, a wide pasta sauced with game such as wild boar. Main courses I look forward to are the roast pork with wild fennel and the satiny braised veal cheeks in rich brown sauce heady with the local red wine, Rosso Conero. Both dishes profit from an order of earthy potatoes baked under ashes. When in Rome it’s carciofi alla Giudea, or Jewish style, a ghetto specialty of artichokes pressed open flat and fried to crispness that suggests dried sunflowers and best turned out at La Matricianella in a little alley that leads to the Piazza Navona. Other classic perfections there are tripe simmered with tomatoes and what just may be the world’s second best bucatini all’amatriciana, the thick tubes of pasta caught in a robust sauce of tomato, onion and guanciale. For the world’s No. 1 amatriciana, no plane is required. I need risk only a cab ride to East 81st Street in Manhattan to my currently favorite hometown Italian restaurant, Sandro’s, where the chef-owner Sandro Fioriti cooks as the Romans would like to.
May 05, 2009 Telegraph Media Group Limited Bellagio, Las Vegas
Fine wines in Las Vegas
The Capital of Kitsch is shedding its vulgar veneer to become the latest draw for wine lovers. Las Vegas is probably the last place you would consider as a fine wine destination. But forget, for a moment, the one-armed bandits, the roulette wheels and the walk-in-waddle-out buffets, because Sin City – also known as the Capital of Kitsch – is rapidly shedding (some of) its vulgar veneer to become the latest draw for wine lovers. The vinous facts and figures of Vegas are impressive. It has the greatest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world – 16 within a few hundred yards of each other, sharing 21 stars – and the highest number of Master Sommeliers. More bottles of Dom Pérignon and Cristal (real and fake) are consumed here than anywhere else. The Bellagio resort hotel alone gets through almost 50 (real) bottles of DP a week, on top of about 230 bottles of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, while the 100,000-bottle cellar of Wynn Las Vegas is home to several (real) methuselahs of 1990 Cristal (yours for a trifling $50,000 – £34,000 – each).
The Wine Cellar and Tasting Room at The Rio has an impressive 50,000-bottle cellar valued at about $10 million (£6.7 million), including a bottle of 1800 madeira that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson and an uninterrupted flight of Château d'Yquem from 1855 to 1990. Oh, and Michelin one-star Aureole at Mandalay Bay, with its electronic laptop wine list and 45ft ''wine tower'' accessed by sommeliers on trapezes – come on, this is Vegas! – has bottles of 1900 Château Pétrus on offer for $42,000 (£28,000). Of course, all these treats are stratospherically above my budget, but please allow a man to drool, dribble and dream. "Wine has become hugely popular here," says Robert Smith, master sommelier at Michelin two-star Picasso. "For sure, some folk come to play the slots and drink beer, but others come to town simply for the wine and maybe to catch a show. Last night, for instance, a guy wandered in without a reservation, ordered a couple of courses and washed them down with a £3,800 bottle of 1959 Château Margaux. And he said he'd pop back tonight." It's not all bling and ostentation though. These sommeliers know their stuff and Smith selects some fascinating and affordable wines by the glass to go with my set menu, including a Californian sparkler, an Alsace pinot gris, a quirky sauvignon/chenin blend from the Loire and a Spanish syrah. It's a largely European selection that somehow befits the largely European view I have from the terrace at Picasso of a replica Lake Como, Eiffel Tower, Paris Opera House and Louvre. (OK, so there's still a bit of bling and ostentation.) The resort hotels in Las Vegas are vast, with the Bellagio alone boasting 10,000 staff. Most house at least 10 fine-dining restaurants, as well as more down-to-earth bars and buffets. "No single property in the world buys as much wine as this hotel," says Jason Smith, Bellagio's wine buyer. "Each year our guests spend double-digit millions on wine and we have to run to keep up." It was the Bellagio that really set the pace, and the city's obsession with wine dates from the opening of its doors 10 years ago. "Great chefs such as Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse suddenly wanted to work here and where great chefs go, great sommeliers follow," explains Mark Thomas of The Mirage. "Today Vegas outsells New York by two bottles to one and anybody who loves wine now heads to Nevada." It's a bizarre spot, Las Vegas, with its 24-hour casinos, endless shopping malls and massive hotels (the 8,000-room Venetian is the largest in the world and the neighbouring MGM Grand, the second). And let us not forget its spare-no-expense shows; its absurd replica Doge's Palace and campanile, complete with gondolas and gondoliers; its Sphinx and pyramid, New York skyline and so on. It's a Disneyland for grown-ups, all right, but I've not eaten and drunk so consistently well anywhere else in the world. "Our guests are increasingly knowledgeable," says Thomas. "Yes, we cater for high rollers with 80 different champagnes on our list, but we have quirky, 1,000-case producers of Savennières too." You mean for low-rollers like me? "Listen, we pull a lot of corks at The Mirage, over a quarter of a million bottles a year. We cater for everyone." I browse and sluice my way from restaurant to restaurant, wine bar to wine bar, and learn many things about Vegas. If you dine at Onda Wine Lounge but crave that nice 2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr you had at Dos Caminos, they'll go and get it for you for no extra charge. If you want some 1985 Le Pin, give Picasso an hour and they'll find some. Michelin two-star Alex has 25 madeiras by the glass and its wine director, Paolo Barbieri, makes his own exceptional Rhône-style wines in California. Big winners and big losers are lured from the gaming tables by casino bosses bearing bottles of 1982 Château Pétrus. Despite the recession and claims that visitor numbers are down 40 per cent you'll have a fight on your hands getting through the casino crowds to the door of Robuchon's three-star eatery.
May 05, 2009 Glacier Interactive Media The Fairmont Chateau, Whistler
Resort helps youngster’s wish come true
Whistler – Austin Grabkowski saw snow for the first time in his life just a few days ago, but it seems the 12-year-old Australian is a natural on the slippery white stuff. His Whistler Blackcomb (WB) ski instructor told him he’s almost a Level 4 skier — not too shabby for a first-time skier who’s just discovering the joys of snow. “My ski instructor said I was pretty good,” Grabkowski said. Though it’s interesting for people in Whistler to imagine seeing snow for the first time at age 12, that’s not what makes Grabkowski a VIP in the resort this week. He’s had the opportunity to visit Whistler through the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a two-time cancer survivor.
Grabkowski, who’s from Adelaide, said his wish was to come to Canada, specifically Whistler, because he really wanted to see snow and try skiing. His grandfather has been to Whistler before and told him what an excellent place it is, and a top ski destination. Grabkowski arrived in Whistler last Friday (April 17) with his mother, Violetta. He said Monday (April 20) they had so far enjoyed skiing and relaxing in the pool and spa at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where officials donated a week’s stay to help make his wish come true. The Whistler community has rallied around the Make-A-Wish request and Grabkowski, with WB offering complimentary skiing and lessons, and other activity operators such as Ziptrek donating tours for the mother and son. The pair had plans to go bungee jumping, dogsledding and do other activities before heading home on Friday (April 24). “The trip has been exceptional,” Grabkowski said. The polite, well-spoken Grabkowski was diagnosed with cancer in the muscles around his right eye in December 2007. The cancer is currently in remission after he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments after the initial diagnosis. The cancer was actually a relapse from his first battle with the disease when he was four. Grabkowski said the cancer wasn’t supposed to return after such a long period of remission — he was told by doctors that he’s the only person they know of to have seen the cancer return after 2 ½ years. Now that he’s in remission again, he has to have scans every four months to make sure there’s no more cancer. So far, the scans have just shown scar tissue, he said. “Everything’s going well,” he said. “We’re very lucky that I’m still healthy and well.” Grabkowski said his vision wasn’t affected by the cancer or treatment, and he feels lucky it was found before it spread to other parts of his body. Roger Soane, general manager of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, said the hotel staff was planning a red-carpet arrival for Grabkowski and his mom but the pair arrived by limo two hours early. Staff was disappointed, but they’re trying to organize a special farewell. “We wanted to give him the royal welcome,” Soane said. The Fairmont has worked with the Make-A-Wish organization for many years, Soane said. But it’s not about the hotel or getting positive press, he said — it’s about helping people. Soane said he’s been inspired by Grabkowski, and stories like his are a reminder that the average person has “very little to worry about.” “Anybody who has suffered as much as he has in his short life but still has great goals is, I think, a lesson for everybody,” Soane said. Grabkowski acknowledged the efforts of the Australian and Canadian chapters of Make-A-Wish and Telus for helping grant his wish. “Thanks to everybody that got involved with me and making my wish come true,” he said. “There’s some really great people out there.”
May 05, 2009 Agents Support Systems Pty Ltd The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Environmental Hotel Leader Joins WWF’s Climate Savers Program
WWF is pleased to welcome Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (Fairmont), a worldwide hotel brand known for its industry-leading environmental efforts, as the newest member of its innovative Climate Savers Program. In recognition of this new partnership, Fairmont has agreed to a brandwide carbon emissions reduction plan and has pledged to reduce operational CO2 emissions from its existing portfolio of hotels by 20% below 2006 levels by 2013, while also ensuring that new Fairmont properties strive to reduce their CO2 emissions through the implementation of the brand’s new Energy and Carbon Management program.
In addition, Fairmont will: Finalize a Green Procurement Policy and Supplier Code of Conduct by the end of 2009; Educate and encourage its top suppliers (representing approximately 25% of the supply chain) to provide products in accordance with the Green Procurement Policy and Supplier Code of Conduct by the end of 2010; Update existing Design and Construction standards to incorporate and reflect LEED standards by the end of 2011; Endeavor to include sustainable and LEED-certified hotels across the brand; Seek to relocate Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Corporate offices in Toronto Canada to a building with a LEED NC Gold target by 2011. The Climate Savers Program is a collaboration among some of the world’s leading corporations and WWF to show leadership in voluntarily reducing emissions and heading off the environmental impacts associated with climate change. Fortune 500 companies and other top businesses like The Coca-Cola Company, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and Nike partner with WWF to develop practical, cost-effective strategies that reduce emissions of CO2 and achieve energy efficiency goals.? By 2010, the 21 Climate Saver companies will collectively cut carbon emissions by some 14 million tonnes annually – the equivalent of taking more than 3 million cars off the road every year, while at the same time, saving these companies hundreds of millions of dollars.? “This is a great way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of WWF’s Climate Savers Program,” said Gerald Butts, WWF-Canada’s president and CEO. “Leading companies like Fairmont are proving that strong environmental action is good for the economy.” Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a global hotel leader known for its pioneering commitment to environmentally sustainable business practices and was the first major hotel chain in North America to embrace environmental stewardship within its daily operations through its award-winning Green Partnership program.? In support of its climate change strategy, Fairmont has measured its emissions for scope 1 (direct emissions) and scope 2 (electricity consumption) across its 53 managed properties from 2006 levels for the calculation of its current greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The brand’s carbon footprint is 375,766 metric tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions annually or 0.055 metric tonnes of CO2e emissions per guest night. Fairmont has committed to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% by 2013, which is the equivalent of removing 19,777 cars from the road annually, avoiding the burning of 174,775 barrels of oil, and avoiding the consumption of 1,004 tanker trucks of gasoline. “We see our Climate Savers partnership with WWF as a sound strategic decision, one that will help ensure destination health and contribute to the financial stability of the industry,” said Thomas W. Storey, President, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. “Fairmont is proud to be the first global hotel brand to partner with WWF to tackle climate change and we look forward to achieving significant CO2 reductions from our operations worldwide.” Emission reductions at Fairmont will be achieved through a number of activities including improved energy efficiency, increased conversion to renewable energy supply, optimized purchasing efficiencies and promoting conservation practices among its colleagues. Fairmont will continue to implement energy efficiency initiatives across its portfolio and increase its use of renewable energy supply where possible.? In addition to reducing its own emissions, Fairmont will share best practices with other organizations committed to the protection of the environment and work to increase guest engagement and awareness on issues related to reducing its overall CO2 output.
May 05, 2009 Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com. Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
See everlasting results with The Spa at Four Seasons' Everlasting Flower Stone Facial
Upon first glance, one may wonder what makes The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas worthy of Travel & Leisure magazine’s Top Hotel Spas list. Unlike many of the other spas located on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, its list of amenities is fairly simple: private men’s and women’s relaxation rooms, a eucalyptus steam room and a Zen lounge for relaxation. There’s no sauna, no cascading waterfall showers…not even a whirlpool to unwind in. But one step into any one of its 16 treatment rooms and you’ll quickly discover a spa experience unlike any other.
Offering an extensive range of Asian-inspired massage and skin-care treatments, guests can’t go wrong with any service booked at The Spa at Four Seasons. However, if you’re looking for a treatment to help you face the summer (pun intended), look no further than the Everlasting Flower Stone Facial. One of four signature treatments at the spa, this unique hot and cold 80-minute stone facial ($235) incorporates basalt stones to harmonize the body and mind and rhodochrosite stones to warm the heart. It’s also perfect for those in Las Vegas during the hottest time of the year, as it helps add moisture to your dry skin. It begins with a gentle cleanser (Fleur’s Cotton Flower Cleansing Milk) to eliminate makeup and impurities followed by an application of Fleur’s Cotton Flower Toning Water to help moisturize the upper layers of the epidermis. Now that your skin feels fresh and toned, Fleur’s creamy Gentle Exfoliant is lightly massaged into it to help remove dead skin cells and restore skin to its natural softness. After a relaxing arm massage to help get you comfortable, extractions are performed (if necessary), followed by a poppy seed exfoliation with Fleur’s Viternel Youth Concentrate; yes, you read that right--another exfoliant! That’s how gentle these exfoliations are. After the poppy seed exfoliant is applied to your face (a dab on your forehead, your cheekbones and your chin), it is then gently massaged into your skin with the aforementioned basalt and rhodochrosite stones, helping you drift away into a state of complete relaxation. Just before you begin to completely nod off, though, a dual mask is applied utilizing Fleur’s Viternel Mask with Hibiscus powder to help restore your complexion to a youthful glow while preventing age spots and further skin discoloration caused by damage from the sun (which you‘ll see plenty of in Las Vegas!). While the mask--the second layer being a thermo lifting mask--is given some time to penetrate your skin and work its magic, a brief neck and scalp massage is performed to further induce your slumber. Finally, once the mask and gauze are removed from your face (a Face/Off experience if ever there was one), your treatment concludes with an application of Fleur’s Viternel Day Restorative Defensive Treatment Cream and its Viternel Smoothing Eye Cream to help further hydrate your skin and prevent the aging process by smoothing features and stimulating microcirculation to reduce any dark circles and puffiness under your eyes. By the time the treatment is complete, not only will your skin feel soft, toned and completely rejuvenated, but you’ll feel revitalized, too, and ready to face whatever comes your way--right after a quick catnap. Before you leave the spa, however, your aesthetician will fill out a personalized skin care recommendation card and go over it with you to let you know how you can treat any problem areas she/he saw during your treatment. You’ll even be informed of what products you may want to take home with you for long-lasting results. It’s just one example of the many ways the staff at The Spa at Four Seasons goes out of their way to take care of their guests.
May 05, 2009 Le Bristol Newsletter Le Bristol Hotel Paris
Third star by Michelin
Chef Eric Frechon and Hotel Le Bristol Paris crowned with a third star by Michelin! A Chef’s profile At 45, the Chef Eric Frechon has already spent 32 years in gourmet cuisine and we believe him when he says that “cooking is his whole life”! After obtaining his diploma at the age of seventeen, Eric Frechon entered the foray of Parisian cuisine where he trained with noted Chefs that included Christian Constant, Head Chef at Hotel de Crillon and together with him, he discovered what he was looking for conviviality through a cuisine using the flavours of local products. In 1999, Eric Frechon joined Le Bristol as Head Chef when the restaurant had one Michelin star. Eric Frechon then obtained his second star in 2001, was awarded both the “3-Star Espoir” and the “Legion d’Honneur” in 2008, followed by the prestigious third Michelin star in 2009.
A cuisine full of memories and emotions When he talks about cooking, Eric Frechon is passionate about dishes that “stay with you forever”. His signature dish? The “review classic” derived from soil products that form an essential part of his cuisine. Freshness and quality are the main criteria in his selection of products. Dishes from Eric Frechon’s kitchen are recognisable at first sight as they are created with real passion that comes from the heart. Eric Frechon is delighted and immensely proud to share this achievement with his team of 80 at Hotel Le Bristol Paris. He feels personally fulfilled and enjoys the family environment that GM Pierre Ferchaud and Director Jean-Louis Souman know how to create so well. The gastronomic restaurant: open every day, 365 days a year! The restaurant is open daily between 12:30 pm to 2 pm and between 7:30 pm to 10 pm. The restaurant offers two settings: From May to the end of September: the summer dining room. From October to the end of April: the winter dining room. The re-opening of the summer restaurant After a season spent under the sparkling chandeliers of the Winter Restaurant with its gold leaf and warm woodwork, Chef Eric Frechon’s three Michelin starred cuisine is back at Hôtel Le Bristol’s Summer Restaurant. Between May and September the hotel’s enchanting garden with its birds and white calico umbrellas, is the perfect setting for lunches and dinners in exquisite natural surroundings far away from the busy Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré.
May 05, 2009 Villa La Massa newsletter Villa La Massa, Florence
Villa La Massa is pleased to announce the opening of its Presidential Suite
THE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE IS OPEN AT VILLA LA MASSA Escape to the Tuscan countryside in style. Long the preferred hideaway for European royalty and American VIPs, Villa La Massa has just opened a spectacular 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite that boasts a large sitting room with a fireplace and a wall of glass that opens up to a private 2.900 square foot garden, complete with Jacuzzi and gazebo—all on the banks of the Arno River and on the grounds of a world-class five-star resort. It’s the ultimate vantage point from which to take in the panorama and begin living the dolce vita in Italy. Located just 15 minutes from Florence downtown, Villa La Massa indulges the senses and the spirit. Guests are shuttled to and from the Ponte Vecchio hourly- and upon their return, the focus is to help them leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind through wine, chocolate, truffle massages or olive oil and cheese tastings.
PRESIDENTIAL SUITE SPECIFICS The Arno Suite, an 860 square foot master suite exclusive A 540 square foot junior suite A large living space with terracotta floor and a working fireplace A private 2.900 square foot garden with gazebo, jacuzzi and outdoor dining set for 6 Private terrace over the Arno River offering 180° views of the Tuscan hills surrounding the estate
May 05, 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London SW1
Breakfast isn't worth the money but the service is impeccable, says Harriet Long... When we emerge from the tube, the front steps of the hotel are busy with Louis Vuitton bags and boxes being unloaded, whilst Mercedes and Jaguars drop off well-heeled clientele. Attracting a crowd is a bright red Lamborghini Countach, apparently a rare sight. Even the doormen are surreptitiously taking pictures on their mobiles. Away from the bustle, the hotel's marble entrance hall has a cool and luxurious feel. Check in is easy and efficient and within a few minutes we are ensconced in one of the small suites.
Our room overlooks the back of the hotel, and a coveted view over Hyde Park that stretches to the Serpentine. French windows open onto a large stone balcony where we can take in fresh air. The Mandarin is very generous as every room comes with a chilled bottle of champagne. In our case, we get a rose Moet and Chandon. The bathroom also has wonderful Jo Malone toiletries and the table in the bedroom has a large fruit bowl. Some homemade mini brownies offer a less healthy alternative. The bedroom is nicely furnished without being too chintzy and the bed is vast. The large French windows ensure the room has lots of light and there is a huge amount of cupboard space. The bathroom is long and thin, again filled with light from the windows and has plenty of space for a capacious Victorian roll top tub. The Mandarin Oriental seems to attract a wealthier sort of tourist, and would certainly be a good choice for those who like their shopping. Harrods and the designer shops of Knightsbridge are a few minutes walk and Harvey Nichols is directly opposite. The location is convenient for art lovers too, with Exhibition Road only one stop down the Piccadilly line. The hotel is an attraction in itself - the spa was voted number 1 UK hotel spa by Conde Nast Traveller and the restaurant, Foliage, has a Michelin star. The bar is funky, and buzzing with a glamorous mix of tourists and Londoners. Pre-dinner mojitos arrive in huge fish bowls glasses with accompanying salty snacks to get us drinking. As it is Saturday, a live Jazz band is setting up. In contrast, the restaurant Foliage feels strangely lacking in atmosphere. It is quite bright and narrow, with the remaining part of the restaurant opening out into a t-shape. We are tucked behind one wing and only have a few tables to oggle. For a people watcher like me, my options are limited. However, the menu soon occupies my full attention. It is initially bewildering. The courses are split into five sections and diners are encouraged to have four courses (£60 for four courses). However, you can choose your four courses from any of the sections. There are starters, fish intermediates, main courses, cheese and dessert. My waitress helpfully points out that I could have four desserts if I wished. Even more confusing is the way is which each course is described in the barest of terms. For example: Artichoke / Potato / Truffle / Quails Eggs. Thankfully the staff are more than happy to talk it through, and the end result is a unusual and unique dining experience. The portions are small and delicately served, each course as beautifully prepared as the next. A highlight was the tuna tartar starter, served on a black slate plate and accompanied by tiny balls of green wasabi ice cream. Residents who want to use the spa are charged £25 to enter. It is a beautiful, with fresh flowers, flickering candles and Asian inspired décor. With strict male/female segregation, the area offers two heat sensation rooms and a bubbly plunge pool. It’s definitely not worth forking out the extra, but it is a calm start to the treatments on offer. I can recommend the two-hour Advanced Time Ritual, which includes a lengthy hot stone massage.
May 05, 2009 TheaterMania Inc. Bellagio, Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas
From Cher to Peepshow, Phantom, Jersey Boys, and LOVE, Las Vegas truly is a world of entertainment. Sin isn't just kept behind closed doors in Sin City, as any visitor to Las Vegas knows. But the desert town's temperature is about to get a whole lot hotter with the debut of Peepshow, which debuts at Planet Hollywood -- adding one more entertainment option to a town chock full of Broadway shows, top-name headliners, and a dazzling array of revues and variety shows.
he show is the brainchild of Broadway choreographer and director Jerry Mitchell, whose credits include Broadway's Legally Blonde, Hairspray, and La Cage Aux Folles and New York's now-notorious yearly strip show, Broadway Bares -- which he calls a "kissing cousin" of Peepshow. And while the show is headlined by former Spice Girl Mel B and General Hospital star Kelly Monaco (both of whom competed to great acclaim on ABC's Dancing with the Stars), the main attraction for many audience members will be the multitude of scantily-clad showgirls. "It's sort of a modern-day burlesque in which Kelly's character falls asleep and ends up meeting all these fairy-tale characters who show her how to really have fun," says Mitchell. "I've been a big fan of the Vegas showgirl revue for many years, but I wanted to do something that shows off our current sense of sensuality and sexuality, and also to incorporate comedy, song, and dance -- not to mention a lot of incredible costumes." Audiences seeking somewhat tamer fare while in town can opt for more "traditional" shows, including a 90-minute version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera (at the Venetian) and a full-length version of the Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys (at the Palazzo). The former is worth a visit just to see designer David Rockwell's specially-designed venue, an absolutely stunning recreation of the show's setting, the Paris Opera House, as well as to witness the truly special effects he has helped engineer to add to the show's feel as spectacle. Tony winner Anthony Crivello proves to be a supremely creepy Phantom and Kristi Holden serves up a truly winning combination of spunk and vulnerability as Christine, the young singer whom he fixates on. True, the shorter version makes some parts of the book a little hard to follow, but the running time nonetheless feels very right. Meanwhile, Jersey Boys, which brilliantly tells the story of the rise to fame of singer Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons over the course of its two and half hours, remains an extraordinary evening of entertainment, thanks to the group's timeless hits like "Sherry," "Oh, What a Night," and "Rag Doll," as well as Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman's whip-smart book and Des McAnuff's seamless direction. The entire cast here is first-rate, with Rick Faugno simply dynamite as Valli, capturing the singer's unusual voice with ease, and Deven May, who earns both laughs and pathos as the troubled Tommy DeVito. Other theatrical options include the Off-Broadway favorites Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding (also at Planet Hollywood) and Blue Man Group (at the Venetian), as well as the regional standard Shear Madness (at Town Square Las Vegas). Starting in May, visitors will be able to see a new sit-down version of Disney's The Lion King at Mandalay Bay, featuring a cast of Broadway favorites including Clifton Oliver, Kissy Simmons, Thom Sesma, and Alton Fitzgerald White. For some visitors, the words "Las Vegas" are synonymous with the words "Cirque du Soleil." The Montreal-based entertainment giant first conquered this city in 1994 with Mystere (which is still going strong at Treasure Island) and now has six shows running, including the amazing underwater spectacle O (at the Bellagio), the dazzling Ka (at MGM Grand), and the for-adults-only Zumanity (at New York, New York). But if you're a fan of the franchise as well as a fan of the Fab Four, there's no question that you will simply love LOVE (at the Mirage), an absolutely joyous celebration of the music of the Beatles. The show, while still as full of acrobatic thrills as every Cirque production, emphasizes the group's timeless music -- which has been masterfully reengineered and is presented in a specially-built theater that includes 6,500 speakers (including three built into each and every seat). And the cast, which dances and clowns with abandon, simply dazzles with its energy. Of course, one can't talk about visiting Vegas without mentioning its galaxy of rotating stars, which includes Barry Manilow (at the Hilton), Donny and Marie Osmond (at the Flamingo), Wayne Brady (at the Venetian), Rita Rudner (at Harrah's), Lance Burton (at the Monte Carlo), Danny Gans (at the Encore), Terry Fator (at the Mirage), Louie Anderson (at the Excalibur). But the hottest place in town is without question the Colisseum at Caesar's Palace, where Elton John, Bette Midler, and Cher currently take turns (in different months) wowing the crowds. And let no one tell you that Cher doesn't know how to put on a show! During her 90-minute extravaganza, the one-named wonder sails through, via live performance and video montages, an amazing retrospective of her 40-plus year career. Musically, the concert takes on something of a greatest-hits format, with segments devoted to such beloved chart-toppers as "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves," "Half Breed," "Walking in Memphis," "If I Could Turn Back Time," and "Believe," among others. Naturally, though, the woman who is known worldwide for her unique fashion sense doesn't disappoint, changing with lighting-speed in and out of a dizzying series of body-baring Bob Mackie costumes -- practically one for every song -- that prove that one can still be in amazing shape after the age of 60. To call Cher an inspiration, in every sense of the word, is simply to be guilty of understatement.
Mar 03, 2009 Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie Sales Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie Rome
Rome's Tranquil Oasis in a Perfect Location
Another stunning property from The Rocco Forte Collection, the award-winning five star Hotel de Russie is perfectly located just beside the Villa Borghese Gardens, between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. The city’s top attractions, such as the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, are at your fingertips to explore. Recognized as the most unique luxury hotel in Rome, the Hotel de Russie features stunning, extensive, terraced gardens which provide a tranquil oasis amidst the bustle of central Rome.
Situated in the enchantment of this Secret Garden, the restaurant Le Jardin de Russie offers a classic Italian gastronomic experience, where, in the summer months, tables are also set outside. Each and every guest accommodation, Designed by Tommaso Ziffer and supervised by Olga Polizzi’s team, is a statement of elegant refinement, tradition and profound tranquility. All of the generously sized rooms and suites, dressed in pastel shades, from greenish-blue to sand-ivory with sophisticated touches of amethyst, offer both styles and latest technology . Guests can also be seduced by the magical atmosphere of the exclusive De Russie Wellness Zone, the perfect place to refresh, renew and rejuvenate. Whether visiting Rome on business or pleasure, Hotel de Russie's picturesque gardens and spa facilities combined with impeccable service will provide you with a complete escape and allow you to experience the very best of Rome. SPECIAL BENEFITS: SUITE EXPERIENCE PROGRAM Already amongst the most stylish and unique in Europe, these luxurious suites will now offer a new range of services, including: • In Room Check-In • A complimentary packing and unpacking service, whereby a specially-trained member of staff will hang and arrange each item upon arrival and carefully repack upon departure. Also included is complimentary pressing of the garments on arrival • Complimentary Buffet Breakfast served at Le Jardin de Russie Restaurant • Complimentary use of a Nokia mobile phone for local calls • Complimentary Local Telephone Calls • Pillow Menu • DVD Player • MP3 Docking Station • Complimentary High Speed Internet Access • Complimentary In-house Movies
Mar 03, 2009 chicagotribune.com Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy
'Where God vacations,' Italy never gets old
The son of German refugees who survived the Holocaust, Jerry Springer was born in England during the bombing of London and moved with his family to New York City at age 5. Though best known for hosting the self-titled TV show featuring Americans down on their luck and willing to fight about it, there's much more to Springer than that. The former mayor of Cincinnati is heavily involved in Democratic fundraising and gave frequent speeches during the last presidential campaign. Springer has been a journalist, a lawyer, was a campaign aide to Robert F. Kennedy and was a host on the British political show "Have I Got News for You."
Springer basically lives his life on airplanes; besides his show filmed in Chicago, he flies to audition sites for his other show, "America's Got Talent," which is filmed in Los Angeles. Married to Micki, the 65-year-old father and grandfather splits his time between Chicago and Sarasota, Fla. "What I most enjoy is that I get to do so many different things," said the remarkably unassuming Springer. QWhat's your favorite vacation spot? AEvery summer we go to Italy. We love the Tuscany area, Capri, Portofino, the Amalfi Coast. We love England and Cape Town in South Africa. We've been to Italy maybe 20 times. It's probably where God vacations—the people, the scenery, the food, the opera—to go and see Italian opera in Italy outdoors is really nice. QWhat do you like to do on vacation? ABecause I'm such a public person normally, I just like to eat, read, go boating, sit by the pool or by the sea. The problem is the show is everywhere; it's been on for 18 years, so there aren't that many places where I'm not familiar. If you're at a certain hotel, people respect your privacy. When you're out on the streets it's different, but everyone's always nice. QWhat is your favorite hotel and why? AWhen we're in Florence, we go to Villa San Michele [villasanmichele.com/web/ovil/villa_san_michele.jsp]. It's really high end; you have dinner out on this terrace, where the food is exquisite, and you're looking out over the hills of Tuscany and the city of Florence. It's just beautiful. It's obscene it's so nice. In Capri we go to Casa Morgano [www.casamorgano.com]. Morgano is more modest, but again, it's the view. You're looking at the sea, and it's just beautiful. QWhat's the most amazing trip you've taken? AThe BBC does a program called "Who Do You Think You Are." They take a well-known person and follow their genealogy. They did six or eight months of research, and for 10 days you travel the world, tracing your family. I did it in 2007, and they traced my family to 1773. Most were killed in concentration camps. My parents never knew where, when and how their parents, brothers and sisters were killed. [Twenty-eight direct family members perished in the Holocaust.] It was an unbelievable experience. They took my sister and me to Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic—the sites of former camps. My mom was from Berlin, and my dad from a small town in Germany called Luntzberg. [Look for the show and Springer's episode this spring on NBC.] QDo you check voice mail and e-mail when traveling? AI don't do e-mail; I really enjoyed the 20th Century, so I'm trying to stay there. But sure, I check my voice mail.
Mar 03, 2009 Ritz Paris sales Ritz Paris
Michel Roth, Executive Chef at the Ritz and of the restaurant l’Espadon, awarded a second Michelin star
Michel Roth, Executive Chef at the Ritz, has just been awarded a second star in the 2009 Michelin Guide. The award recognises the hard work and creativity of the Chef brigade and restaurant manager Christophe Kelsch’s team and their constant pursuit of excellence With the complicity of Arnaud Faye, the new Chef of L'Espadon restaurant since September 2007, Michel Roth is reinventing the palace cuisine, taking it to a degree of refinement that enchants and challenges the senses.
Expanding upon its tradition of excellence in hotel keeping, the Ritz Paris has also remained in the good graces of gastronomes, elegant Parisians and the many businessmen who frequent the hotel for lunch or dinner in the prestigious decor of the Espadon. Decorated with a beautiful trompe-l’oeil ceiling depicting a pale blue sky and white cottony clouds, the Espadon opens out onto a garden overflowing with greenery. With this second star, L’Espadon has now joined the tiny constellation of Parisian gourmet restaurants deemed worthy of two Michelin stars. This latest award comes only a few months after the 2009 edition of the GaultMillau Guide awarded a 17/20 grade to L’Espadon, the setting for Michel Roth's creations. Obviously, the Ritz is now a dining experience not to be missed in Paris. Michel Roth's cuisine Michel Roth's cuisine is deeply rooted in the soil where authentic savours find their full expressions in creations like his roast rib of milk-fed veal in a hay-infused stock. Enhanced by flawless technique and uncompromising standards, his cuisine is innovative, offering a contemporary approach to the establishment's great classics: the Hereford beef fillet Rossini is accompanied by cappuccino-style mashed ratte potatoes, from which rise the mingled aromas of truffle and cocoa. All year round, Michel Roth makes it a point of honour to work with seasonal products such as cep mushrooms in autumn or asparagus in spring, in a cycle of renewal that inspires a cuisine constantly in harmony with the changing savours of the season. In his lunch-time menus, he explores daring combinations never before ventured upon in the hotel cuisine, concocting bold dishes such as pan-fried foie gras, citrus and ginger or his monkfish with bean shoots, capers, vanilla and mango. Visuals of L’Espadon chefs and menus available on request A talented brigade In the kitchens of the Ritz, a talented brigade is directed by the hand of a maestro, Michel Roth. In constant pursuit of quality and harmony, 80 dedicated craftsmen and women daily deploy their ingenuity and finesse to offer guests at L'Espadon the finest of fine cuisine. In the restaurant, Christophe Kelsch orchestrates the discreet elegance of the service and Head Sommelier Jean-Claude Ruet suggests the ideal wines to accompany the Chef's creations. Michel Roth's career to date Michel Roth has been Executive Chef at the Ritz since 2001. He heads a brigade of 80 staff and has overall responsibility for the kitchens of not only gourmet restaurant L’Espadon but also of the Bar Vendôme, and room service as well as the private salons. Born on 7th November 1959 in Moselle, Michel Roth took his first career steps in 1975 with Charles Herrman in Sarreguemines, a master chef under whose teaching he flourished to the heights of Meilleur Apprenti de France. In 1977, he gained experience as a commis chef at restaurants Saint-Hubert, Le Crocodile and L'Auberge de l'Ill in Moselle. In 1978, he moved to Paris and became second commis chef at Ledoyen. It was in 1981 that he began his association with the Ritz as first commis chef under Guy Legay, then Executive Chef of the Ritz Paris. Over the years, he advanced to become Chef of L'Espadon, gathering some of the profession's most coveted awards along the way: the Prix Taittinger in 1985 and then, in 1991, the supreme accolade of the Prix Bocuse d'Or and the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the same year. In 1999, at the time of Guy Legay's retirement, Michel Roth embarked on a new adventure at Lasserre where, as Head Chef, he won the restaurant an extra star. After two years, he was invited back to the Ritz to take over as Executive Chef. A disciple of Guy Legay and Paul Bocuse, Michel Roth is the ninth Executive Chef the Ritz Paris has known in its one hundred and ten years of existence, in the direct line of Auguste Escoffier, the hotel's first Executive Chef and friend of César Ritz. Ever looking towards the future, Michel Roth has also become a model for younger generations of French chefs. In recognition of his services to French gastronomy and culture, Michel Roth was appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur on 14th July 2006. Arnaud Faye, Chef at L’Espadon Arnaud Faye is only 30 and already has experience of some of the finest tables in France under his belt. Whether at the Moulin de la Gorce where he began his career in 1999, at La Pyramide F. Point in Vienne, at restaurant Le Buerehiesel in Strasbourg or at L’Arnsbourg in Lorraine, this inventive young chef has already worked with the greatest names of French cuisine. After almost four years at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau (3* Michelin restaurant), Arnaud Faye joined the kitchen brigade at the Ritz in September 2007 as Chef of L'Espadon under Michel Roth. Runner-up in the Concours National de Cuisine Artistique competition in 2006 and winner of the Trophée Jean Delaveyne in 2005, Arnaud Faye brings all his talent and creativity to the kitchens of the Ritz. Backed by his wide experience, this son of the Auvergne draws inspiration from his roots in his native soil to play his part in the creation of excitingly original dishes with a traditional twist, such as line-caught sea bass baked in clay with truffle scales. Jean-Claude Ruet, Head Sommelier After 17 years at the restaurant La Pyramide F. Point in Vienne (2* Michelin), Jean-Claude Ruet joined the Espadon restaurant team under Director Christophe Kelsch in January 2007. Voted one of the top two sommeliers in Europe in 1990 and again in 1992, he now reigns over the Ritz's legendary wine cellar, home to several thousand grands crus, outstanding vintages and, jewels in the crown, a selection of wines acquired by César Ritz himself when he opened the hotel. Considered the top sommelier in the South of France, he was voted Master Sommelier of France by his peers in 2005. At the age of 43, he devotes all his talent and creativity to delighting diners at L’Espadon with his masterly discoveries that match Michel Roth's creations to perfection. Christophe Kelsch, Restaurant Director Christophe Kelsch, Director of L’Espadon restaurant since March 2006, extends a courteous and convivial welcome to discerning diners. Every day this experienced professional, who honed his skills at the Elysées Vernet and restaurant Le Cinq before joining the Ritz, ensures that the restaurant's elegant guests enjoy an atmosphere of refined warmth matched by flawless quality of service.
Mar 03, 2009 Hotel Le Palais Sales Department Hotel Le Palais Prague
Hotel Le Palais wins TripAdvisor, 2009 Travelers' Choice Award
This year's awards are the biggest ever, as 443 hotels are being honored in the seventh year of the competition. The hotel Le Palais Prague is consistent in its luxury services and personal approach to each and every guest and as well as in the last year the hotel achieved a great success and was placed among the TOP 50 Best Luxury Hotels in the World. “We appreciate very much the great value of TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award and it is for us a further commitment to individual service and personal customer care” said Jiri Gajdosik, General Manager of the hotel Le Palais Prague.
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Feb 02, 2009 Herald.ie The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul
Turkish delights
By Marisa Mackle Friday January 30 2009 I thought Istanbul might be a chaotic city but, to my surprise, I discovered it to be a shopaholic's paradise and I couldn't have been happier haggling with the Turks over quality leather bags and brightly coloured rugs. I adored this city with its majestic buildings, fabulous food, enticing exotic smells and friendly inhabitants. We flew from Dublin airport to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, a delightful experience as the cabin crew were so welcoming, efficient and polite, and landed about four hours later as darkness was beginning to fall. Our home for the next few nights was to be the fabulous Ritz Carlton; one of the most impressive hotels I've ever stayed in, with commanding views over the Bosphorus. I could have sat at my window for hours watching the boats sail past and the colour of the water change with the weather.
On the first night we ate at the nearby Borsa Restaurant. I'm normally quite a fussy eater and a strict vegetarian so I ordered with trepidation. But I needn't have worried because good Turkish cuisine is out of this world. The following morning we set out for Topkapi Palace. The first courtyard, which was open to the public, housed a hospital, a bakery and a state mint. The second courtyard was open to people who had business with the council and the third courtyard was reserved for the sultan's household and palace children. The fourth courtyard was reserved exclusively for the sultan's use. After our visit we enjoyed an outdoor lunch at the restaurant of Topkapi Palace, founded in 1967 to promote Turkish cuisine to visiting foreigners where presidents, kings and queens have also dined. After that we were off to the Blue Mosque (above). Construction began on this magnificent building in 1609 and was completed in 1619. Visitors must remove their shoes upon entrance and, as the interior of the mosque can be chilly, it's advisable to wear socks! That afternoon we also paid a visit to the famous Cemberlitas hamman in the city. A 16th-century Ottoman jewel, Cemberlitas caters for men and women. Visitors lie on octagonal slabs of heated marble and when the heat becomes unbearable you move to a smaller domed chamber where a masseuse/masseur throws cold water over your body before pummelling, soaping and scrubbing your body. This is such an invigorating experience and no visitor to Istanbul should dream of missing it. No trip to Istanbul would be complete without a visit to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. There are thousands of goods to chose from but make sure you barter as this is expected and can prove a lot of fun. After all my hectic shopping I treated myself to a luxury Swedish massage back at the hotel and a swim in their stunning indoor pool. Istanbul is truly like no other city in the world.
Feb 02, 2009 Gigwise The Regent Berlin
Tom Cruise Squares Up To Oasis' Liam Gallagher
Hollywood actor Tom Cruise left Oasis' Liam Gallagher speechless when he confronted him in a German hotel recently, according to reports. Cruise is understood to have approached Gallagher at Regent Hotel in Berlin, where they were both staying, to explain comments he made in the recent documentary, Lord Don't Slow Me Down.
In the Oasis film, Gallagher said of the actor: “I hate Tom Cruise. I can’t stand that small bastard – him and Michael Owen.” According to the Daily Star newspaper, the pair laughed awkwardly before shaking hands. “For the first time in his life, Liam was lost for words. Tom did a double-take as they passed each other and went back to say hello,” a source said. “And without losing the smile from his face, he reminded Liam about the cheeky comments he’d made. "They made polite conversation and Liam made a hasty departure.” Oasis are currently in Germany on the European leg of their world tour.
Feb 02, 2009 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. The Dorchester Hotel London
Dorchester Collection Expands Near Ascot
Luxury hotel brand Dorchester Collection is set to open a new 69-room country house hotel, to be called Coworth Park, near Ascot and bordering on Windsor Great Park in Surrey. The hotel, which stands in 200 acres of parkland, will also boast an equestrian center with stabling for up to 40 horses, as well as two polo fields and a practice field. Scheduled to open in 2010, Coworth Park will be the 9th property in the Collection. The current portfolio of iconic hotels includes The Dorchester in London, The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris, the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, The New York Palace in New York, and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles.
Dorchester Collection recently announced the opening of another London hotel, 45 Park Lane, also anticipated for 2010. Located just 40 minutes from Central London, Coworth Park will be a valuable addition to the Collection’s UK portfolio. It will have 69 rooms, including 30 in the main house and 39 in a converted stable block and adjacent cottages. Guests will be able to enjoy an eco-luxury Spa, a bar and 2 restaurants (including a fine-dining restaurant and casual restaurant with open-air terrace), and outdoor pursuits such as archery and pitch-and-putt golf. Fox Linton has been appointed to manage the interior design and EPR is the architect. The hotel will boast leading edge green credentials. To reduce energy consumption, there will be a bio mass boiler within an underground Energy Center. This will be fueled by burning willow grown on the estate – a first for a UK hotel. Fifteen acres of willow, with a 3-year growth cycle, will ensure Coworth House is capable of producing its own carbon-neutral fuel supply. Additionally, cooling for the hotel will be provided by a ground-source water-circulation system of underground pipes, known as ‘slinkys,’ located on the hotel grounds. Dorchester Collection has ambitious plans for growth and recently announced the addition of two new hotels in New York and Los Angeles. Commenting on Coworth House, Christopher Cowdray, CEO of Dorchester Collection, said, “All our hotels have their own style of individuality and this new hotel will be no exception. We are targeting 15 hotels in key North American and European cities over the next 5-10 years. We are delighted to be able to strengthen our UK portfolio with the addition of a country house so close to the center of London.”
Jan 01, 2009 Reed Business Information Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Chris Staines: A minute on the clock
Chris Staines, head chef at the Michelin-starred Foliage restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, was recently appointed by Lufthansa as the German airline's first British "star chef". He spoke to Kerstin Kühn about cooking for air passengers.
Caterer Why did you team up with Lufthansa? Chris Staines Lufthansa has been running its "star chef" programme for 12 years and for the first time it was looking for a British chef to take part. Its people came to have dinner at the restaurant and then approached me about getting involved and, of course, I was delighted to. Previously it has had really high-calibre chefs involved, including Paul Bocuse, Daniel Boulud and Dieter Müller, so it's really exciting for me to do this. Caterer On which flights will your menus be available? Chris Staines They will be available on all of Lufthansa's long-haul flights going out of Germany in January and February. I'm doing the catering for first- and business-class passengers, which over the two months works out to about 250,000 meals. Caterer What new dishes have you created? Chris Staines We were keen to dispel the myth of English food being rubbish and wanted to create a menu of modern British classics with a bit of a twist. I initially came up with a menu that was too "cheffy" for the volume of dishes that need to be done, so we sat down together and developed a different menu. The menu now includes fish and chips with sauce remoulade and mushy peas and fillet of beef Wellington with truffle jus, carrots and broccoli for first-class travellers, as well as fettucine pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce and white Cheddar for passengers in business class. Caterer What has been the biggest challenge? Chris Staines The sheer volume of the food was definitely a challenge but also the fact that, at 30,000ft, your taste-buds work differently than on the ground. Luckily, Lufthansa has been doing this for a long time so people were on hand to help and tweak dishes in certain areas. For instance they asked me to make the sauce for the beef Wellington a lot more intense. To be honest, they made it much stronger than I would ever make it at the restaurant but, in the air, it needs to be. Caterer The Michelin guide for Great Britain and Ireland is published this month. What are your predictions? Chris Staines It's difficult to know exactly what will happen but I'm confident that 2009 will be much more successful than last year in terms of Michelin stars being awarded. My one prediction would be that Tom Aikens will gain his second star. Of course, I wouldn't say no to a second star either but I'm not too worried about these things and the most important thing really is to please your customers. By Kerstin Kühn
Jan 01, 2009 Hürriyet Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
’Elixir of Immortality’ at Çırağan Palace Kempinski
ISTANBUL - The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Art Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition that will be open to the public 24 hours a day until Feb. 3, "Iksir" (Elixir) by Ahmet Güneştekin. Güneştekin is one of Turkey’s most important painters and has spent years transferring the legends of Mesopotamia, Greece and Anatolia onto canvas. In "Iksir," curated by Beste Gursu, the artist has depicted mankind’s desire for immortality. The elixir of immortality is his subject and includes Gilgamis, the Phoenix, Sahmaran, Lokman Hekim and other legends of today. He comments on these legends in his paintings as a modern artist whose work comes from these lands. "Iksir" has turned the legends of the heroes of immortality into works of art.
Güneştekin was born in Batman in 1966. He received his first award in 1975 in the third grade of primary school after he had become acquainted with oil painting. His first exhibition opened in 1981 in the library of the lycee where he studied. After establishing his first professional workshop in Beyoglu in 1997, from 1997 to 2003 Güneştekin traveled through Anatolia, evaluating legends and putting them onto canvas. In 2003, he opened his first big exhibition at the Ataturk Cultural Center, "Colors After Dark." He continued painting, but in 2005 he also made a documentary, "In the Track of the Sun," shot for TRT and is still shown in weekly segments on TRT 2. In 2008, 81 artists from 81 provinces started to create 81 exhibitions under the title "Experts and Exhibitions, In the Track of the Sun." Within the scope of this project, Güneştekin opened exhibitions in historical places and gathered experts in modern Turkish art and their works in Anatolia. The project is ongoing and once completed, Güneştekin will have an even more significant exhibition track record than he already does. He has so far personally participated in more than 100 solo and mixed exhibitions in the country and abroad and continues to work in his own workshop. His paintings can be found in many collections in Turkey and overseas.
Jan 01, 2009 Glacier Interactive Media The Fairmont Chateau, Whistler
Capturing Deep Winter’s glory
WHISTLER – Anyone who’s spent more than a few days in Whistler during the winter, or at just about any ski resort for that matter, knows that most days are cloudy, snowy, blustery and/or stormy. So how come so many professional ski and snowboard photographs depict bluebird days without a cloud in the sky? All that glorious powder had to fall sometime, after all. That’s one of the reasons Whistler photographer Jordan Manley likes the Deep Winter Photo Challenge, taking place this week on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
“We always see ski images taken on nice sunny days and some of the best days in terms of skiing… are the days when it isn’t sunny,” Manley said. “Storm days are some of the best, and it’s trying to show what the mountain is really like a lot of the time.” Manley is returning to the Deep Winter Photo Challenge as last year’s reigning champion, or “King of Storms” as the winner is known. He and fellow mountain photographers Dan Carr, Ashley Barker, Andrew Bradley, Brian Hockenstein and Crispin Cannon have three set days to capture the best and most creative ski and snowboard moments whether it’s sunny, stormy or anything in between. They also have to work in-bounds and during regular mountain operations. “You have to kind of keep plugging away over three days, despite whatever weather the mountain might throw at you,” Manley said. The photographers then have an additional day to put together a slideshow of their best shots, and the public gets a front-row seat as they battle it out for the King of Storms honour. The Deep Winter Photo Challenge slideshow event is set for Friday (Jan. 9) at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Manley, who is based in both North Vancouver and Whistler, said the challenge’s format, designed to make photographers adapt to whatever the conditions are during the designated shooting days, encourages both photographers and athletes to get as creative as possible. The objective of producing inspiring images regardless of conditions helps stretch creative boundaries, he said. Keeping ski and snowboard photography fresh can be challenging, but Manley said he looks for ways to adapt or build off a technique others have originated. There’s a lot of amazing mountain photography out there to inspire, he said. “At the end of the day, none of us are reinventing the wheel, but I think there’s lot of different ways you can kind of tweak different ideas,” he said. Manley said he’ll hit the mountains with a few planned ideas and visions for the challenge, but if last year is any indication, some of his shots will be spontaneous — based on weather, terrain or other things he might encounter. He said being named champion of the contest last year was a big moment, giving him confidence in his ability as a professional photographer and proving he could hold his own among other pros. Manley has been shooting professionally for about four years and his work has been featured on the cover of several ski magazines already this season, including Powder, Skiing and Ski Press. A collection of his photos will be featured in Ski Journal’s February issue. His love of skiing and mountain biking with friends was the inspiration to start taking pictures — as a way to document their adventures in the mountains, he said. Things actually haven’t changed much. He’s developed as a photographer and a skier, but much of his drive is still to be out there with friends pushing their abilities in the mountains. “(Photography has) become an avenue for me to keep skiing and to keep seeing new places,” he said.
Jan 01, 2009 TheStreet.com, Inc. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Fashion Travel: London Sale Season
Most people spend the first weeks of January ripping down the garland, dismembering the Christmas tree and stuffing it anywhere it'll fit like some sort of pine tree mobster. Others leave the undecorating to staff and make their annual shopping pilgrimage across the Atlantic. January is sales season in the U.K. and mainland Europe, as the continent's most famous department stores and designer boutiques offer their steepest discounts of the year. While the euro has remained relatively strong against the U.S. dollar, the British pound is at multi-decade lows, making the U.K. fashion capital more affordable than ever for pond-hopping bargain-hunters.
Shopping Base Camp Since you saved money on your airfare, as January is one of the cheapest flying seasons of the year, you'll be able to splurge a bit on your accommodations. You'll want to stay somewhere that's within walking distance to the best shopping streets around Knightsbridge and Oxford Street, London's main shopping thoroughfares. Check-in to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park located across the street from Harvey Nichols and Hyde Park. The interior of the Mandarin Oriental offers a distinguished decor of paneled-wood walls and regal marble staircase running the spine of the building. Rooms are more Queen Victoria than Victoria Beckham with extravagant wood-lined closets to hang your shopping booty and personal butler to press it in time for dinner in the lobby's Michelin-rated restaurant, Foliage. Afterward, the Adam Tihany-designed bar offers a glam destination for exhausted shoppers looking for alcoholic hydration. 9 a.m. Shopping Strategy Since you'll be trying on clothes most of the day, you've skipped the morning scones in lieu of coffee and a good run around Hyde Park. Your shopping blitz begins at Selfridges, the mothership of London fashion. The store opens at 9:30 a.m. everyday but Sunday, when it opens at 11:30 a.m. Hitting London's largest department store at opening ensures that all the merchandise has been picked up from the dressing room floors and the ransacked shelves returned to meticulous order. Start in the store's high-fashion areas where the best deals are found. Designers like Alexander McQueen and Burberry Prorsum are impeccably represented in mini display boutiques. Bargain shoppers will want to stay with British designers for the best deals, avoiding Italian and French designers that come with a hidden euro-premium. Once your hands are full of yellow shopping bags, head to the tax-free office on the lower level to claim back your V.A.T. before heading to the Food Hall for a stand-up sushi lunch. Afternoon on Dover Street Created by Commes des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street Market is located in a six-story building off Bond Street. The micro-department store features designs from Commes des Garcons as well as Raf Simons, Lanvin, Hedi Slimane and Ann Demeulemeester. The space is divided between a series of mini boutiques designed by local set decorators amongst the store's steel beams and exposed brick walls. The January Sale includes all floors and collections, connected by a narrow staircase and super-slow elevator that's not worth the wait. Afterwards, hit Rose Bakery on the top floor with its few rooftop tables and menu of teas and homemade soups. Time to Bond It's the Rodeo Drive of the U.K., sprinkled with bits of Madison Avenue and SoHo. Don't waste time traveling by cab in the late afternoon, you'll get there faster on foot. Since most of the high-end stores close at 6 p.m. during the week, you'll want to start on Old Bond Street where posh retailers like Asprey and Stella McCartney offer fashion embassies frequented by Liz Hurley and Kate Moss. Once you've tired of the top-tier fashion houses, make your way to more affordable New Bond Street with its shiny outposts of Pringle and Nicole Farhi. While these smaller stores won't offer the volume of merchandise found at the larger department stores, they will offer new spring and summer merchandise as well as a more charming shopping experience. Evening With Harvey You'll want to return to your hotel to drop off your bags, freshen up and then head across the street for your evening dose of sales. For those yet to meet the pleasure of Harvey's acquaintance, the store has occupied the same street corner at Slone and Knightsbridge since the early 19th century when it was a local linen store. Over the years it's blossomed into London's most stylish department store for U.K. celebrities and fashionable royals. Like Selfridges, the Harvey Nichols sale is staggered over the four weeks of January but with discounts increasing over the month. The retail floor is lined in racks of Fendi, Lanvin, Stella McCartney and Dior with discounts ranging from 30% to 50% off. Not limited to just clothing, the store also offers extensive discounts on an array of housewares located on the fourth floor as well as the famous food market located on the rooftop perfect for a Champagne toast before the store's 8 p.m. closing. From Michael Martin
Jan 01, 2009 Pique Publishing Inc. The Fairmont Chateau, Whistler
Business down but not as bleak as expected
By Clare Ogilvie December tourism came in quietly but the end of the month seems to be going out with a bang. In some cases occupancy at Whistler hotels has almost doubled as the snow continues to fall and the resort markets itself aggressively, offering value deals too good to be missed. However, there is little doubt when all the numbers are in that overall the month will be down from last year, and that 2009 will be a year full of challenges.
There is still way too much uncertainty in the world, forget just in Whistler, but again I still believe there is demand for Whistler, it just is going to be last minute, said Trevor Graham, general manager of the Westin Resort and Spa. While early December was pacing behind last year at the Westin the hotel has been at 95 per cent occupancy at least since Dec. 20. People have to be patient, said Graham. They have to believe it is coming. It doesn't take away from the fact that Tourism Whistler, (Whistler Blackcomb) and ourselves have to keep aggressively marketing value though. Booking patterns continue to ebb and flow, as is becoming more common in a web-driven tourism market. Cancellations come in but almost as quickly new bookings are taken, especially when the snow is flying said Graham. Those that cancel tend to be more of what I will call the Lower Mainland, Seattle, Oregon market, he said. They are driving, but that is the same group that then re-books when a cancellation comes through. I can't speak for other hotels (but) I'm not sure the last week of the year is as bad as Tourism Whistler suggested it might be. I do believe it is still off but I don't think it hit the 20 per cent off numbers that they might have thought mid-December, and again I think that is because of last minute demand. I think people are truly waiting for that last minute purchase. Over at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler it is much the same story, with occupancy low in early December but now rising to at least 82 per cent this week. “I think everyone is breathing a sigh of relief,” said spokeswoman Lynn Gervais. Obviously we won't be able to recover to previous years but this year is definitely looking up. As well as competitive pricing the Fairmont is paying particular attention to spoiling its guests, said Gervais. The one thing that we are doing is really rewarding the guests that are here in house and ensuring that they are having an amazing visit, she said. We are roasting chestnuts everyday, we have hot apple cider and it is definitely paying off as guests are extending their stays and so on. Both hotels have been pleased with food and beverage sales as well. The Chateau's Wildflower Restaurant has been doing 500 breakfasts a day. We are seeing an increase in food and beverage numbers that we haven't typically seen in previous years, said Graham. Chris Quinlan, president of the Restaurant Association of Whistler, said business is off from last year but eateries have definitely seen things pick up in recent days, We definitely started a little slower than last year but we have ramped up, he said. Quinlan expects restaurants to be busy until next week, when school holidays are over. Over the weekend it wasn't unusual to have an hour wait at popular dinging places such at 21 Steps, the Mongolie Grill, and Earls. Knowing that times may be tough had many of the adventure tour businesses prepare ahead of time. Craig Beattie, general manager of Canadian Snowmobile Adventures, cut down the number of snowmobiles he is running this winter and watches his staffing levels. We had our best year last year so it is tough to compare but things are looking somewhat positive compared to what has been forecasted, he said. It is down but we forecasted ahead - so we were preparing for that. The company also managed to get their dog sled operation running before Christmas and will launch a snowshoe tour in the Callaghan Valley next week. Beattie believes diversification and being able to run different products all year round has been key to the company's success so far. We are a 12-month a year company so we can adapt,he said. Whistler Blackcomb has been working overtime to make snow and get the lifts open. Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations, acknowledges that the visitor numbers are down. (We are) not hitting last year's numbers, he said. But it is strong, and each day (is) getting better and better.
Jan 01, 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd The Regent Berlin
Ooh la la: France's culinary bible Michelin Guide picks woman as new editor - and she's German!
France's culinary bible the Michelin Guide has taken the unprecedented step of appointing a woman as its chief editor – and a German woman at that. Picking Juliane Caspar, 38, is a 'sensation in light of the French view of German food,' according to Berlin’s Die Welt newspaper on Wednesday. Caspar was previously in charge of the Michelin guides for Germany, Switzerland and Austria and will take over from Jean-François Mesplède, who is moving to Michelin’s French food magazine 'Etoile'.
'In consideration of the fact that German cuisine is regarded as a lethal weapon in most parts of France, this personnel decision is a sensation,' the paper reported. 'It would be in the same dimension as if tomorrow Mercedes calmly announced the new boss of the development division was from Mars.' But Caspar, who only allows herself to be photographed from behind due to her role as a restaurant reviewer, is qualified for the prestigious job with a “fast-paced” career behind her already. She worked for top restaurants in Germany, England, South Africa and Italy before taking on the Michelin Guide for the German speaking countries. She speaks four languages and is a keen eater 'who always clears my plate'. She is currently travelling and won’t give interviews, the paper reports, but one two-star chef who knows her, Christian Lohse of Fischer’s Fritz in Berlin’s Regent Hotel, attested to her culinary 'authority', calling her reviews 'neutral' and 'incorruptible'. She hails from the old steel town of Bochum in the Ruhr heartland of Germany and was once in charge of Vendome Restaurant at Schloss Bensberg hotel near Cologne – one of the rare three Michelin starred restaurants in Germany.
Jan 01, 2009 Market Watch Park Hyatt Milano
Park Hyatt Brand Named "Best Hotel Chain" In Business Traveler Magazine's 2008 Best in Business Travel Awards
CHICAGO, Dec 18, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Following the announcement of Business Traveler magazine's 2008 Best in Business Travel Awards in the December 2008/January 2009 issue, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts announced that the Park Hyatt brand was selected as the "Best Hotel Chain" among business travelers around the world. "Our subscribers are among the most seasoned travelers in the world, which is why each year we ask them to select top performers in the industry. In my opinion, Business Traveler's Best in Business Traveler Awards are one of the highest honors for company to receive as it is based on customer feedback." Linda Vaughan, publisher--Business Traveler
For the awards, more than 4,000 Business Traveler subscribers were randomly selected to answer open-ended questions with no suggested names or choices given. Results did not include indexing or demographic profiling. About Park Hyatt Intimate and residential in style, Park Hyatt hotels promise elegant and gracious service on a personal scale, and are further distinguished by prime locations and exceptional interior design. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and its subsidiaries operate 23 Park Hyatt brand hotels with an additional 10 hotels under development. Current locations include; Baku, Beaver Creek, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Canberra, Chicago, Dubai, Goa, Hamburg, Melbourne, Mendoza, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Philadelphia, Saigon, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington DC, and Zurich. About Global Hyatt Corporation Global Hyatt Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, is one of the world's premier hotel companies. The hotels owned, operated, managed or franchised by its subsidiaries provide authentic hospitality to guests in 45 countries through a passionate commitment to personalized service, cultural relevance, and the environment. Global Hyatt subsidiaries own, operate, manage or franchise more than 365 hotels and resorts worldwide under the Hyatt(R), Hyatt Regency(R), Hyatt Resorts(TM), Grand Hyatt(R), Park Hyatt(R), Hyatt Place(R), Hyatt Summerfield Suites(R) and Andaz(TM) brands with additional properties under development on five continents. Global Hyatt Corporation is also the owner of Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc., operator of Hyatt Vacation Club(R). The success of Global Hyatt is driven by the commitment and energy of the thousands of men and women around the world who provide exceptional service to hotel guests. About Business Traveler Magazine With ten editions worldwide and more than 500,000 readers, Business Traveler is the world's leading publication geared towards frequent business travelers. BT offers practical travel resources, destination features, first-hand reviews, convention reports and a series of special supplements, including the annual business-class airline comparison study. In addition to BT's monthly features, visitor guides, lifestyle reports and weekend guides, each issue also includes special reports ranging from business etiquette tips to preventing identity theft and the growing trend of mixing business with vacations. SOURCE: Global Hyatt Corporation
Dec 12, 2008 Travel & Leisure The Dorchester Hotel London
The Dorchester named England’s best hotel by Travel & Leisure
Best Business Hotel in London in 2008. - US Travel & Leisure Magazine Best Hotel in England 2008 US Travel & Leisure Magazine December 2008 – The Dorchester, one of the Dorchester Collection, has won a second award from leading US travel magazine, Travel + Leisure. In the magazine’s high profile T+ L 500 list, which names the best 500 hotels in the world, The Dorchester was named the finest hotel in England. The magazine made particular mention of the “excellent service” and “spacious and charmingly designed rooms” and described the hotel as “reassuringly exclusive”. This is the second award The Dorchester has won in the last 2 months. Travel + Leisure’s annual Guide to Business Travel allows their readers to vote for the hotels in major cities around the world that best serve the needs of business travelers. The Dorchester was named the Best Business Hotel 2008 in London.
“We are delighted to won two such prestigious awards from Travel & Leisure” comments Roland Fasel, General Manager of The Dorchester. “From our recently refurbished business centre and our world-famous team of e-butlers to our destination restaurants, we have consistently strived to meet the fast-changing needs of today’s business and leisure travellers. In addition, from May 2009 we will also be able to offer guests a place to unwind and relax when The Dorchester Spa reopens after a multi-million pound refurbishment.” One of the world’s legendary hotels, The Dorchester opened in 1931. Situated on Park Lane, the 250 rooms and suites are individually decorated in an English country house style and offer elegant views of Hyde Park. Both informal and formal dining is available to guests in The Promenade, The Bar and The Grill. China Tang serves traditional Cantonese cuisine while Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is one of London’s most exciting dining experiences.
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