Christmas at Grand Hotel Zermatterhof

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By Shereen Shabnam

My favourite place in Switzerland, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof Zermatt, dominated by the Matterhorn is a rare place where everything works in synergy and GCC travellers can enjoy memorable winter stays including a generous breakfast buffet during the festive season at this majestic property.

My favourite memory from my visit is the transfer to and from the Zermatterhof and Zermatt station in a horse-drawn carriage or electric bus on the day of your arrival and departure.

Guests can enjoy a generous breakfast buffet, mineral water and soft drinks from the minibar, Ronnefeldt-Tea, Nespresso coffee machine with capsules, use of the spa, pool, steam bath, saunas, jacuzzi, ice grotto and gym and wireless Internet in the room and in all public areas.

Once you step into the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, hospitality and luxury takes on a whole new meaning. It is a hotel you want to spend time in, meet with other guests and enjoy a hot chocolate while gazing at the Matterhorn.

Zermatt is situated far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level. The historic village oozes with charm and the high street is lined with luxury shopping, world-class restaurants and stylish bars.

And Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is where time means something different from what it means in the city. It is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

For ski enthusiasts, there is no better place than Zermatt to flirt with adventure and enjoy the sport with untouched stunning terrain and a helicopter to give you a lift there. Zermatt is the Alps’ largest heli-skiing destination and offers the best snow with the stunning beauty of the Alps.

Zermatt is a private playground for guests who truly want to get away and indulge in a memorable holiday. 

Pascal Tepper inaugurates New Dine-in Bakery and Bistro branch at French Village Riverland Dubai Parks and Resorts

UAE’s popular French Dine-in Bakery and Bistro Brings a New Taste of Freshness to the French Village

Quintessential French Chef Pascal Tepper Meilleur Ouvrier de France inaugurated the opening of his latest Pascal Tepper French Dine-in Bakery and Bistro at the French Village Riverland Dubai Parks and Resorts by cutting a red ribbon with the representative of the Franchise Owner from Global Delicacy Restaurant LLC and French Consulate representative in Dubai UAE. This is not the first Bakery restaurant for the renowned chef who also has several more successful and popular branches of the international chain of Dine-in Bakery and Bistro within the United Arab Emirates.

­Many of the dishes that the guests sampled were constructed from Chef Tepper’s passion for baking and developing new recipes. But the main inspiration was from the menu, resulting in a beautiful finger food spread inclusive of cocktail drinks. Guests received a gift bag while leaving that included delicious freshly baked bread at the Dine-in Bakery and Bistro, a stunning assortment of delicate macaroons and a rich decadent selection of chocolates and dessert pastries.

A baker’s passion for his work is reflected in his bread, and Chef Tepper’s golden crusty oven-fresh bread is a sensory experience alone, especially when complimented with the flaky crunchiness of the beautiful selection of the viennoiserie pastries after the main meal.

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Chef Pascal Tepper Meilleur Ouvrier de France commented of the new opening: “One of my motto’s in life is to always push myself to go farther. I’ve always been inspired to create since I was born to do baking, and when I’m surrounded by fresh ingredients of high quality combined with my love of creating dishes, I take inspiration from my surroundings, nature and colors which all lovingly go into my dishes.” When asked about why he cooks, Chef Tepper responded: “With cooking I feel that I am touching people’s lives and with every new opening of Pascal Tepper we have more of a chance to touch even more lives and enhance people’s senses when it comes to gastronomical satisfaction. After all this is what I am good at coming from a long line of French bakers as I’m a 4th generation baker”.

The inauguration took place at 6 pm followed by a speech. The guests were serenaded with the beautiful melodies of French music before and after being wowed by the skill of a light-fingered magician as they sampled signature dishes including fresh salad, delicate sandwiches with the most delicious fresh fillings and many more dishes loved by many.

Pascal Tepper located in French Village Riverland Dubai Parks and Resorts is the 4th branch in UAE and their strategy is to expand and have more branches across the world.

Please visit Pascal Tepper and enjoy both modern and traditional French dining, from hot and cold dishes to oven-fresh bread, chocolates, freshly baked dessert pastries and many more with a contemporary environment.

 

 

The City of Music – Nashville

The first thing I fell in love with in Nashville, the music city was Nashville’s premier hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & convention center and the beautiful guitar exhibits. I went there to attend an IT conference with Epicor and expected a simple resort but the ambience, excitement and energy of the place made me feel I could live there for years and not get bored.

The beautiful gardens beneath climate-controlled signature glass atriums, the meandering Cumberland River plus an extraordinary selection of dining, shopping and recreation options made me feel like this was more of a getaway and I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere in between the conference.

I walked through various indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls and took a boat ride in the indoor river and still had time for the spa and fitness center. Most times, the lush greenery reminding me of my own country Fiji Islands and made me feel right at home.

Inspired by elements of music everywhere in the resort, I set out to see more of what the rest of Nashvile had to offer. Music is in the DNA of people from Nashville and the award-winning Station Inn is considered to be one of Nashville’s premier venues for bluegrass music. Notable artists have performed at this venue, which is perfect for concerts and jam sessions by up-and-coming artists.

Then there is the Tennessee State Museum that tells the story of the state’s rich history over three floors of the building. Creative visitors will love the Frist Center that hosts Visual Arts displays by local, state and regional artists along with national and international exhibitions.

Music lovers will find the ‘Two Old Hippies’ a haven as a retail store offering a large selection of guitars, music, clothing and other novelty merchandise. The shop has a stage with an organ, several guitars and a drum set as well as lighting and a mixing board in a deco where walls are full of music artefacts and memorabilia.

Alternatively, head to Curb Records, an independent music label founded by Mike Curb. The label’s top recordings include hits by legendary artists. A philanthropist, Curb has been instrumental in restoring historic buildings, including Columbia’s Historic Quonset Hut, a recording studio originally established by Owen Bradley, and the Johnny Cash Museum.

Then there is the music Row, home to several businesses and attractions related to the city’s musical heritage. Considered the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry, the area has the historic RCA Studio B, Columbia’s Historic Quonset Hut, Owen Bradley Park and numerous shops and restaurants. “Musica,” a large bronze statue designed by Alan LeQuire, is the centerpiece of the Music Row Roundabout.

It is all about Music in Nashville. The Musicians Hall of Fame at Historic Nashville Auditorium honors the artists and session musicians who have accompanied legendary performers in a broad range of musical genres, including country, rock, jazz and soul.

Naturally I stopped at the Marathon Motors Factory in the heart of downtown Nashville. This area has an array of music recording studios, numerous shops, studios etc. If you like walking, head to ‘The Gulch’, a historic walkable neighborhood with hip restaurants, eclectic boutiques and vibrant nightlife venues.

In Nashville’s Centennial Park, the Parthenon stands as an exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. You can see the 42-foot gilded sculpture of Athena, and temporary shows and exhibitions.

There is so much to se and do in Nashville but Music is really what makes this city stand apart. I enjoyed Nashville and look forward to going back again.

Beach Paradise – Grand Beach Hotel, Miami

In between meetings in New Orleans and Nashville last month, I took a short break at the Grand Beach Hotel in Miami, which is a new beachfront addition to Miami Beach with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The property is located on Millionaires’ Row, close to the excitement and nightlife of South Beach and easy to get to from both Miami International Airport and Ft. Lauderdale Airport. It was the perfect break and we are delighted to share our thoughts on the property.

I stayed in one of the hotel’s 430 spacious suites that offer a balcony and two full bathrooms. In-room amenities include two flat-screen TVs, complimentary internet access, international Satellite TV, a refrigerator, wet-bar, coffee-maker, iron, safe, work area and had enough space to open two of my suitcases and a carry on comfortably in the space.

In the afternoons, the best thing to do is enjoy the two beachside pools and hot tubs or head to the 7th floor pool overlooking the Atlantic while enjoying Miami’s year-round perfect weather. The best part of the hotel is having access to more than 200 feet of beautiful white sandy tropical beaches on the Atlantic Ocean or if you like working out, head to the hotel’s well-equipped gym.

I opted for the beach experience and was told I had access to two beach chairs and one umbrella under my room included in our daily Resort Fee. It was perfect and the hotels helps to make the most out of your stay in Florida, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, relaxing retreat, convention accommodation, a family escape, or are travelling on business.

The hotel completed an exciting $10 million suite renovation in 2015 hence majority of the suites have been refreshed but a few of the original classic suites remain for nostalgic guests. The refreshed suites feature a sleek modern design dressed in a bright color scheme and vibrant fabrics for an energized fresh appearance, new bedding, new carpeting, new sleeper sofa(s), and carefully recrafted furniture with glass countertops, new artwork, and floor to ceiling shower glass doors.

If you feel like a meal, “Chez Gaston” and the lounges serve culinary delights or tropical refreshments. The Chez Gaston kitchen has been expanded to allow the culinary team to service more guests at a faster pace which complements the recently renovated and extended Espresso Gelato Bar that offers many more food and beverage options than ever before.

You can choose to dine in the privacy of your room with the room delivery services, or leave your Miami Hotel for the entertainment of South Beach, which is what I did to catch up with friends from my last visit to Miami.

The checked out the meeting spaces in the hotel and it had all the latest technology and offered a first class selection of catering options for an exotic Miami Beach meeting, family gathering or social event. A business center and a library are just some of the other amenities offered as services.

Grand Beach Hotel is using the next generation of TravelCLICK’s award-winning booking engine, iStay, which revolutionizes the online booking experience with an enhanced user interface and superior property merchandising to drive higher conversion, increase revenue per stay, and enhance guest satisfaction.

It integrates hotel packages and enhanced stay options on the same screen as room reservations and displays up to six large, compelling photographs per room type hence the best way to get to know the hotel before booking. I certainly enjoyed my stay at the Grand Beach hotel in between two major international conferences and recommend it for a good rest and relaxation venue.

 

Blending Heritage With Modernity – The Widder Hotel Zurich

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Strategically located in the historic district of the financial metropolis Zurich, the Five-Star Widder Hotel, is a glamorous location for social events and important conferences. Through its unique art collection and architecture, the Widder Hotel is also a meeting place for creative people who appreciate the exceptional personal ambience of this individually designed hotel.

The Widder Hotel is in the heart of Zurich’s old city and known for its exceptional architecture: The nine private residences from the middle Ages have been meticulously restored and renovated into one modern luxury hotel. Discerning leisure and business travelers always note that the Widder Hotel is a member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels, White Line Hotels, and the Leading Hotels of the World. Since 2010, Mr. Jan E. Brucker as the manager of the hotel took on the honorary position of President of Swiss Deluxe Hotels (SDH).

The association was founded in 1934 and includes 39 of the best, independently managed Five Star Hotels in Switzerland. Many of the historical traces, that distinguish the Widder Hotel, are found in the guestrooms. The visitor will need to come several times to experience all architectural and artistic features of the hotel. Each guestroom has its individual layout, structure and color scheme and shines with a distinct design and furnishing.

According to Mr. Brucker, the Widder Hotel attaches great importance to real values. It does not mean to be trendy, but rather stands for the true values of the arts, history and heritage and in fact the main attraction of the Widder is the preserved historical, complemented by permanent values.

The nine meticulously restored historical residences in which the Widder Hotel unfolds are unique, as each house is underlined by a subtle guide of orientation with the colour of each house also applied to the inside gangways and corridors. Moreover each house features its own wood species and stone.

Each one of the 34 guest rooms and 15 suites, the banqueting room, meeting rooms, restaurant and bar are individually styled The fusion of historical architecture and innovative modern design creates a relaxed ambience with real character. It’s the perfect setting for an unforgettable stay, private party or exclusive business event.

The hotel has been built, acquired, occupied, changed and decorated by descendants of noble families, guild masters, artisans and merchants. And their life took place in little parlours and offices just the same as in opulent salons. The room decors of these late Middle Age houses with rich murals and stucco is an expression of the owners’ social class, who made their wealth and fortune through trade and commerce. The “Rennweg”, where the main entrance of the Widder Hotel is located, was Zurich’s most prestigious street from the 17th to the 19th century.

Every room is furnished with a sophisticated lighting system by the Austrian Zumtobel Group and has two telephone lines as well as fax- and WLAN-connections. The audio system is by Bang & Olufsen. Satellite TV, a personal safe and a cooling/heating system as well as mini bar and Nespresso coffee maker are also standard facilities in each room.

Guests occupying a suite have an iPad available free of charge during their stay. Each suite is equipped with an Apple Docking-station, allowing further options for use such as playing music or listening to audio books.

A team of preservationists, archaeologists, architects and designers, through the years were involved in the reformation of this historical building ensemble. During the 18 months of archaeological excavation the scientists even found relics from the Roman Ages, among them a fire place as well as cooking utensils and domestic ceramics. In the Widder Hotel all of the ancient and antique is genuine, all new elements are state-of-the-art.

In the raised upper floor of the Steinhaus there is the light and airy breakfast room with its retractable glass ceiling. The library is located on the ground floor of the Steinhaus. The antiques and works by renowned artists, in particular from contemporary times, lend the hotel its own distinctive character. Robert Rauschenberg has designed and created a picture especially for the stairway in the Penthouse Suite.

A wealth of paintings, sculptures and artworks adorn the lobby, restaurants, conference facilities and all guest rooms from famous artists such as Augusto Giacometti, Serge Poliakoff, Max Bill, Andy Warhol.

The Widder Garden is Zurich’s most loved open-air-hideaway when the weather is good for alfresco dining. Located in the heart of the historic district, enjoy a light lunch or cappuccino-break after shopping and sightseeing, to an afterwork dinner in the evening in one of the hotel’s restaurants serving world-class cuisine.

The Widder Hotel lies in the heart of the Augustiner quarter, which offers all benefits of a central location within the historic section of the town and offers Maserati limousine transfers to and from the airport.

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Life is Magnifique at Sofitel

World Class Hotels & French Elegance

Copyright Phototèque ACCOR.Photo Gilles TRILLARD.

Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents with 120 addresses, in almost 40 countries (more than 30 000 rooms). Sofitel offers contemporary hotels and resorts adapted to today’s more demanding and more versatile consumers who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. I enjoyed my one night stay at Sofitel Dubai so much that I wanted to try another Sofitel to see if all their properties are really as magnifique as my first experience

Whether situated in the heart of a major city like Paris, London, New York, Shanghai or Beijing, or nestled away in a country landscape in Morocco, Egypt, French Polynesia or Thailand, each Sofitel property offers a genuine experience of the French “ art de vivre”.

One thing I noticed in both the Dubai and Bahrain property is the biggest asset that makes Sofitel such a huge success in this region is that every staff member, right from the GM to the waiter have unbelievably vibrant, pleasant and helpful personalities.

In Dubai, it was awesome to look out the patio onto the ocean and the vibrant atmosphere of JBR where people went on from their coffee sessions to walks on the beach. I was so happy with the hotel’s recreation areas like the inviting pool area that going out of the hotel was not on. In the evening we enjoyed an amazing fine dining experience as well as a wonderful coffee session near garden area.

At The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, guests are greeted with the Kingdom’s legendary hospitality, enhanced by a touch of the French savoir-faire cherished by Sofitel hotels world-wide. Situated on the west coast of Bahrain, the hotel is located close to a nature reserve, in a protected area with crystal-clear turquoise waters. It truly is a luxurious establishment offering guests a paradise setting in which to enjoy an idyllic stay.

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The exclusive lounge area on the 6th Floor had the friendliest staff and my best experience was that no matter which part of the hotel I was in, there was Internet access. I strongly believe that in this day and age, hotels lose out with their exorbitant costs for internet excess and Sofitel scores full marks as I was able to relax and have peace of mind knowing that I could at a pinch attend to any urgent emails that came from home or office.

The Hotel is offering a wide variety of cuisines and delicious dishes from all over the world presented in the 5 restaurants and 4 bars. Guests may enjoy an authentic South East Asian fare, or dive into an overwhelming seafood collection. The Italian specialties are to die for and the Tapas bar offers a wide selection of unique mouth- watering bites.

The irresistible Lebanese Mezza and local delights in the Regional Specialty restaurant are warmed up with the most popular oriental tunes and belly dance beats in Pashawat. I was particularly overwhelmed by the Friday brunch, which I am told, is the best in Bahrain and it was certainly the best I have had in a long time.

Each restaurant in the hotel left me impressed and I believe that La Mer is by far the best seafood restaurant I have tried in Bahrain during my weekly visits. And getting to the hotel is so easy and once you get there, the tranquil environment sets the mood for an awesome time no matter what the reasons are for your visit.

Copyright Phototèque ACCOR.Photo Gilles TRILLARD.

One thing I was looking forward to most was the fact that The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa is the first hotel within the GCC to offer thalasso-therapy and I couldn’t wait to try it. I was not disappointed as the extensive Thalassa sea & spa complex covers 2,000 square meters on 2 levels and is designed with the utmost care to ensure privacy and tranquility for every guest. The complex features 14 treatment rooms, utilizing sea products, massages and Wellness programs.

I was also impressed by the fact that The Thalassa Sea & Spa also features a seawater hydrotherapy pool, a freshwater pool, saunas, steam rooms, hairdresser for men and beauty salon for women, as well as a yoga studio and a meditation area. A specialized dietitian is dedicated to advise general body condition; body mass index, and tailor-made fitness programmes.

Then there is the La Plage Beach Club is an elegant and modern facility, where you may enjoy a relaxing day on the beach or by the pool, also, you can pick from a wide range of water sports to enhance you day on the beach.

The Beach Club’s 2 floodlit tennis courts promise enlivening play, while the 2 air-conditioned glass- backed squash courts offer a cooler choice. So FIT gym is part of La Plage Beach Club, it is the latest facility of its kind in Bahrain, and offers state-of-the-art equipment, certified trainers and fitness assessment counselors to help guests get the most out of their workout.

There is also a safe and nurturing environment, where children from all ages are provided with opportunities to develop their social, emotional and physical skills. The space is designed to suit different age groups with a wide range of indoor activities such as Play station3, WII, movies, events, library, board games, computers, and toys for all ages.

I certainly am looking forward to my next visit to the restaurants and the spa at Sofitel hotels now that I have had the taste of their Dubai and Bahrain properties.

Mystical Himalayas

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Nepal is a country that offers a lifetime experience for everyone from around the globe. My adventure in Nepal began with my honeymoon in Kathmandu and Pokhara as a holiday in Nepal offers romance and adventure from the spectacular Himalayas to exotic wildlife safari, exhilarating white water rafting, mystifying variety of flora and fauna, charismatic arts and cultures and some of the best walking trails on earth.

A Himalayan Kingdom, precisely known as the “Land of Mount Everest” and the “Land of Living Goddess-Kumari”, Nepal is dignified by the heroism of its brave warrior ancestors-the “Gorkhas”. As there are so many things one can do in Nepal, it is best to have a guide. Recently our friends have found Himalayan Holidays Nepal to have some of the best itineraries that can be tailored to your holiday needs.

Most visitors like to start their Nepal journey as soon as they arrive in Kathmandu. It is best to stay a night there and arrange a sightseeing tour of Kathmandu City with a visit to the Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu Durbar Square) – an ancient durbar (palace) with its numerous old palaces, temples and pagodas, the Temple of Living Goddess “Kumari”, and the Kasthamandap Temple, which is believed to be constructed from the wood of a single tree from which Kathmandu derives its name.

In addition also a must visit is the Boudhanath Stupa – an ancient colossal stupa and the center of Tibetan Buddhism in the world and the Pashupatinath Temple – the Temple of Lord Shiva situated on the bank of the holy Bagmati River.

If you want good views, head to Swayambhunath Stupa, which is situated atop a hill from where you can get a bird’s, eye view of Kathmandu Valley. If you love water sports, get a dose of white water rafting in the Trishuli River. Or enjoy a unique Cable Car ride to the famous Manakamana Temple situated on the Top of Hill “Goddess of wish fulfilling” before heading to Pokhara.

Pokhara was my favourite place when I visited Nepal, especially the mornings having breakfast by the lake, listening to classical Nepali music. Getting to Pokhara is near 4 hours scenic drive passing through the beautiful agricultural Countryside. Pokhara is nestled in a tranquil valley (827m) on the laps of the mighty Annapurna Himalaya Range and is also known as vacationer’s paradise.

Unwind with sunset boat rides at Phewa Lake and get ready for hiking adventures to points like the World Peace Stupa (1,100 meters), which is a recently built stupa on the perfect forested hilltop of Andu Danda. The walking trail is utterly steep but well defined surrounded with lush green bushes and trees on both sides.

With Himalayan Holidays, you can explore exquisite surrounding scenery, row to the Barahi Temple, which is situated on a small island of Phewa Lake from where visitors can witness the magnificent views of Mt. Fish Tail including the Annapurna Range or enjoy the colorful Lake Side Bazaar.

More adventurous visitors can opt for the Everest Base Camp Trek, which takes one to the foothills of the mightiest of the mountains in the world. En route, climbers traverse through rhododendron and pine forests, rivers, Sherpa villages and Buddhist Monasteries from temperate to snow line regions.

If you intend to drive to the Chitwan (The Royal Chitwan National Park), which is 186 kilometers from Kathmandu and is connected by the Prithwi Highway, start the journey early. Upon arrival you are met by naturalists and representatives from the jungle lodge followed by the tour briefing on what activities appeal to you.

Guests can opt for an elephant ride or a jungle walk to view the wildlife in their early repose. See the animals as you silently brush through dewy tall elephant grass (18-20 ft. tall), a habitat for rhinos, tigers and other wild animals.

It is difficult to leave Nepal and you can either drive back to Kathmandu or board a 25 minutes flight. It certainly helps to have a guide from the Himalayan Holidays Nepal, which has a reputation as one of the ‘better established Adventure Travel and Tour outfitters in Nepal’.

The organisation also has a CSR initiative called Mission Himalaya which focuses in providing free Education, free Healthcare and Poverty relief aid to the needy people from the remote and under-developed regions of Nepal.

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