Posts Tagged ‘luxury accommodations’

Exploring France: A Stay at the Newly Renovated Hôtel Ritz Paris

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Classic fluffy bed goodness at the The Hôtel Ritz Paris

On my recent trip to Paris, I had the opportunity to stay at the Hôtel Ritz Paris for the first time. The iconic Parisian property located on the Place Vendome re-opened in 2016 after a four year renovation led by French architect Thierry W. Despont that is rumored to have cost over $400 million. Yet the property doesn’t shout “updated.” The upgrades are subtle and sublime, focused on adding more natural light to the hotel, updating the technology, and restoring it to a modern day version of Belle Époque glamour that would continue to lure today’s jet set, who care about things like speedy wifi, ample electrical outlets, indoor/outdoor dining and Black Mambo hairdryers.

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Looking up at the gorgeous main staircase at the Hôtel Ritz

While I have long been a customer (and fan) of the hotel’s Bar Hemingway (which seems strangely untouched by the renovations), this was the first time I actually spent the night at the property. I did not stay in the one of the hotel’s suites but in room 126, which was still all kinds of fancy.

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Ritzy stairs

The Ritz has an over-the-top traditional luxury vibe and excellent service. After being shown to my room, I was asked if I’d like to have someone unpack my suitcase for me. Since I like to keep it real, I passed on this service but appreciated how casually it was offered. While I’m not the traditional Ritz guest, I could not find a flaw with their service. It’s omnipresent and invisible. You are not going to spot an unattended housekeeping cart in the hallways of this hotel.

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The working desk at the Ritz

The 19th Century over-the-top traditional elegance of the Ritz is not usually the type of hotel I’d pick and I knew that before going. But it’s fun to mix it up at hotels. There was a moment around midnight at the hotel’s Ritz Bar when I realized I was the only woman in the room not wearing Chanel, unless my nail polish counts. This is not really surprising since designer Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz for decades, and the hotel has a Chanel Spa.

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An extremely comfortable chair in the corner of room 126 at the Ritz Paris

The famous guests of yore are name dropped throughout the property. There’s the previously mentioned Bar Hemingway (no longer accessible from the side entrance post-renovation) with it’s €30 cocktails and €18 mini hem burgers, and €1500 Ritz Side Car, which in 2001 was named the most expensive cocktail in the world.

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Left: a beautiful welcome amenity Right: Marie Antoinette would approve of the vomiting swan faucets

Tea is served in the gorgeous flower-filled Salon Proust. There are historic suites named after luminaries including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charlie Chaplin. I did not see any reference to Diana, Princess of Wales, who ate her last meal at the property with Dodi Fayed, son of the hotel’s current owner, Mohamed Al Fayed.

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The gorgeous Salon Proust

The hotel’s restaurant, L’Espadon, has a one Michelin star restaurant for lunch and two Michelin stars for dinner. I did not eat at either since I got sick and spent much of my time in the wonderfully fluffy bed and large marble bathroom. But I can vouch for the property’s room service. It was excellent and they honored my request for chicken soup (not on the menu) at all hours of the day. My room was blissfully quiet and my bed fluffy and comfortable. If you have to get sick while traveling abroad, the Ritz is a great place to do it.

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Flowers at reception

Breakfast was included in my room rate and it was as rich and over-the-top as one would expect. The hotel’s Place Vendome location is perfect for the fashion week and shop-til-you-drop set. I’m a woman who is more comfortable in Saint Germain than in the 1st Arrondissement, I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to stay here again. But if you have the chance, particularly on an expensive account, it’s divine.

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Left: French toast it’s native environs Right: Very rich Eggs Benedict

I will definitely return to the hotel’s Bar Hemingway, which remains of my favorite hotel bars of all time.

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Your syrup is served, Ritz style

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€30 Earl Grey martini at the Bar Hemingway 

Travelers who favor the gilded aesthetic of Emirates Airlines are the ones most likely to be comfortable at the revamped Ritz. It’s fabulous in every way.

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Ritz Paris
15 Place Vendôme 75001 Paris, France
1 800 745 8883

Rates from $1,098.10 USD

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The Bird’s Nest at Tiamo Resort South Andros, Bahamas

The screened in porch off the master bedroom of the Bird’s Nest

During my recent stay at Tiamo Resort, I got to tour the Bird’s Nest with General Manager Wilfried Vincent.

Relaxed island luxury in the living room of the Bird’s Nest at Tiamo

While all the villas at Tiamo offer quite a bit of privacy, The three bedroom Bird’s Nest definitely steps up the luxury a notch or three.

The Bird’s Nest features a full kitchen

Set back a bit from the the other villas, The Bird’s Nest offers even more privacy. Plus there is 1400 square feet of private terrace over two levels. The layout features a master bedroom upstairs (with a large and lovely screened in porch just off it) that feels like you’re floating among the palm trees (hence the name Bird’s Nest).

Left: Kitchen details Right: dining table in the Bird’s Nest

The decor is island elegant and sophisticated, and totally unfussy. There are two bedrooms are on the ground floor, making the layout ideal for a couple traveling with children, teens, or staff. The Bird’s Nest is the only accommodation at Tiamo that accepts children under the age of 12.

The 3 bedroom private villa features a pool

I’m not surprised one of Hollywood’s sexiest celebrity couples chooses to come back to Tiamo and stay at the Bird’s Nest every year. It offers secluded privacy and luxury and is only steps away from all Tiamo’s other facilities.

One of the two bedrooms on the ground floor of the Bird’s Nest

Two beds in one of the downstairs bedrooms

I loved the master bedroom’s hand painted Bahamian curtains

Palm trees sway outside the bedroom off the master bedroom

The master bathroom features a tub and separate shower

Glass tiled details in one of the downstairs bathrooms

Another gorgeous day on Tiamo’s private beach on South Andros Island

 

Tiamo Resort & Spa

Driggs Hill – South Andros Island, The Bahamas

Phone: (1) 786 374-2442 (from USA) / (1) 242 225-6871 (from Bahamas)

Fax: (1) 242 369-2335

reservations@tiamoresorts.com

Tiamo Resort is a part of Small Luxury Hotels Of the World.

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California Pet Friendly Road Trip: A Night at San Ysidro Ranch- An American Luxury Classic

San Ysidro Ranch

Meanwhile, back at the San Ysidro Ranch… the reception area is in this bougainvillla covered cottage.

On my recent California Pet Friendly Road trip, Scarlet felt most at home the night we spent at the The San Ysidro Ranch. The SYR is extremely familiar with 1% pets, they even have a separate pet register to sign upon check in, and nice details like a dog bowl filled with water in the reception cottage.

The San Ysidro Ranch is perhaps a bit lesser known than the nearby ocean front Four Seasons Biltmore, it’s location is no less desirable. The Ranch is on a piece of property in the foothills of the Santa Barbara mountains, with 17 miles of hiking trails accessible by foot right at the edge of the property, making it perfect for dogs and their humans.

The San Ysidro Ranch takes their furry guests seriously. Behold: a pet register at the reception desk.

Located just outside of Santa Barbara in the bucolic enclave of Montecito, Ty Warner’s San Ysidro Ranch has long been a favorite of among the most discerning travelers. It winds up on list after list of top hotels in the world, it would actually be boring to name which lists. But the Ty Warner portfolio is a best of the best list that also counts the Four Seasons New York and Cabo’s Las Ventanas among it’s properties, as well as the Four Seasons Biltmore).

It’s here at the San Ysidro Ranch that President John F Kennedy honeymooned with his lovely young bride, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy. If you’re too young to find JFK significant, Coldplay’s Chris Martin also spent his wedding night here after eloping with Gwyneth. Rock stars and presidents all keep coming back to the property year after year for good reason… it’s an enduring luxury classic.

San Ysidro Registration Sign

The gorgeous gardens and the Santa Barbara mountains behind the San Ysidro Ranch

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The gorgeous Santa Barbara Mountains behind the wedding lawn at the San Ysidro Ranch.

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Flora and fauna at the San Ysidro Ranch

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The San Ysdiro’s Stonehouse Restaurant

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If you prefer more casual dining options, the Plow & Angel in the basement of the Stonehouse is a laid back rathskeller.

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The details at the San Ysidro Ranch are all thoughtful, like this soft, non clinking Do Not Disturb pillow.

The San Ysidro Ranch, unlike so many properties that are resting on past laurels, consistently stays on top of the game by keeping the property above and beyond 5 star standards. You don’t realize how well service can be done until you spend a night here. I even slept in late, the bed was so comfortable.

And while The San Ysidro Ranch appeals to the below-the-radar jetset, it’s charm is obvious. The property has curb appeal to dogs (and their human owners). There are 17 miles of hiking trails right on the ranch property, and the room service menu has special items just for pets. Plus, rather than being relegated to to fringe room that has yet-to-be-refurbished, showing up with a dog (or two) in tow is celebrated at the Ranch. Scarlet even had a welcome sign hanging outside the Lotus bungalow to greet her upon check in.

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A welcome sign for Scarlet outside the Lotus bungalow

The Lotus cottage is one of the French Lavender cottages on the property, which average around 1,150 Sq. Ft and come complete with Bulgari amenities and indoor/outdoor showers and a hot tub.

Scarlet on her best behavior does a property inspection and checks out the Lotus bungalow… and approves.

The swoonworthy bathroom in Lotus cottage had a modern day claw foot tub, Bvlgari amenities, an enormous glass shower, and extremely comfy and soft sage green robes, as well as dual sinks. We didn’t even turn on the 42″ plasma television.

The reception cottage at the San Ysidro Ranch

Charming Flowers

The swoonworthy bathroom was cozy and modern at once.

The claw foot Bathtub

The claw foot Bathtub

It’s nice to stay at a hotel where the mini-bar (except for alcohol) is included. It’s an appreciated touch when there are fresh baked dog biscuits for your pet. Our welcome packet at the San Ysidro ranch had an interesting edit of goodies. Keeping with tradition, there was custom stationary with my name printed on it announcing I was in residence at Lotus Cottage. There was also brochure with Ten Activities for Pampered Pets, which had been approved by members of the veterinary field, with listings for pet massage ($75 for a thirty minutes, which is a reasonable rate for such a service) as well as pet-friendly beaches and a local groomer and doggy day care.

The local health code prevents pets from joining their humans in the hotel restaurant, room service at the San Ysidro Ranch is fantastic. Just dial up room service and another round of delicious margaritas will appear, and it’s a little known secret the San Ysidro Ranch has the best huevos rancheros I’ve ever eaten on the planet, and I’ve sampled more than a few.

If you don’t have a chance to stay at the ranch, by all means treat yourself to a meal at the Stonehouse restaurant, which will be the subject of the next post in this series.

Macarons were a welcome amenity

Macarons were a welcome amenity.

The canopied king bed in Lotus cottage, a framed set of prints were some of decorating details I love about the ranch.

Ceramic Rabbit

The inspired decor of the Lotus Cottage featured hit ceramic bunny on the mantle.

Scarlet made herself right at home on the bed, and enjoyed the special dog bed, dog treats, and pet bowls provided at the San Ysidro Ranch.

Scarlet wanted to keep the huge, walk-in glass shower. I probably wanted to keep it a little too.

The Lotus Cottage had a lovely outdoor patio, will lounge chairs and a hot tub. We left the cover on the hot tub, as Scarlet is a big fan of them and at the SYR, pets aren’t allowed in the hot tub.

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Prague’s Buddha-Bar Hotel Review

Prague is a city that now has a number of hotel options in the luxury sector.  But when I found out the city had a Buddha-Bar Hotel, a boutique property located close to Old Town Square, I knew I had to check it out.

Prague’s Buddha-Bar Hotel is the restaurant/club/chill music brand’s effort to redefine an “Urban Resort” and I thought it might be a fun place to stay. I knew at the very least, the Buddha Bar music would be cool.

Buddha Bar elevator

Buddha Bar elevator

The boutique property is small, with only 36 rooms and 3 suites, all gorgeously designed in an Asian theme with scarlet red being the dominant color.  Breakfast was included in my room rate and was served in the Siddhartha Café downstairs (I’ll go more into the dining options in a future post).

Buddha Bar hallway

Buddha Bar hallway

The staff was small but helpful and the rooms incredibly glamorous if not the most practical. I was in room 12,  (I was upgraded to a Premier category) room and the glamorous bedroom and gorgeous and spacious bathroom were indeed incredible. The Bed is the prominent feature in the bedroom, so there isn’t really a place to chillax in your room if you’re not comfortable hanging out on the bed.

Buddha Bar hotel room 12 bedroom

Buddha Bar hotel room 12 bedroom

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Sheraton TriBeCa Review

Panorama from Sheraton TriBeCa

Panorama from Sheraton TriBeCa

During my last trip to New York City, I stayed at 3 different downtown hotels. This was my second stay at The Sheraton TriBeCa and here are some of my thoughts on the property.

Located on the south side of Canal Street in New York City, the hotel is relatively new construction and feels pretty standard for the brand in the sense that it lacks charm. But it’s a serviceable home base at a reasonable price point for a downtown Manhattan hotel.

It’s a good value for money and an excellent location, with some rooms and a balcony off the Club Lounge that features stunning views of the city and the Empire State building.

The view from Sheraton TriBeCaThe view from Sheraton TriBeCaView from my room at the SheratonThe view from Sheraton TriBeCa

The view from the club lounge at the Sheraton TriBeCa

While the building and décor lack charm and don’t reflect the Big Apple in any way, the property is pretty standard for the Sheraton brand and pretty comfortable. What is does have is televisions in the bar and in the Club Lounge where you can watch sports. The cheese and crackers spread during the Happy Hour at the Club Lounge was particularly lame, but I was grateful I could catch the score of the Lakers game and watch the sun set on the outside patio, which has extraordinary views.

 The view from the club lounge at the Sheraton TriBeCa

The view from the club lounge at the Sheraton TriBeCa

The room size was decent, which is generous by New York standards. Wifi was easy to use and worked properly.

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Sheraton TriBeCa bedroom

The bathroom was small and the water pressure a bit on the weak side, but this is fairly common in New York . The bathroom amenities were a bit lacking- no robe, shower cap or Q-Tips. (As a side note, I find it particularly irksome when hotels omit shower caps, especially when they claim “we have them, but you have to call down to housekeeping.” By the time I discover that there is no shower cap I’m already undressed and headed to the shower. The last thing I want to do is stop the process and wait for housekeeping.)

There is a Starbucks located inside the property and ample seating in the lobby. The reception and concierge all were busy every time I was in the lobby. Since I didn’t use the concierge I can’t property review the service, but think that if you are looking to lean on the hotel concierge to be your tour guide, this isn’t the hotel for you.

My biggest complaint with the hotel has to do with when the doormen. This is my second stay here and the second time the doorman has up sold me to a car service (when I requested a taxi) to the airport and failed to mention the surcharge for using a credit card. I tweeted @StarwoodBuzz and they looked into the matter, which is one thing I truly appreciated about the Sheraton brand (and SPG in general). They understand social media and customer service (check out Paul Thompson’s excellent social media customer service case study From Agony to Ecstasy in 30 Minutes or Less).

Overall, this Tribeca Hotel property is a great value for money and what it lacks in charm and local color it makes up for with its reasonable price point and location.

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