Authentic Italian Experiences Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

By Shereen Shabnam

 

Set in the Eternal City on the grounds of a 15 acre park, Rome, the spectacular Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort offers guests a home overlooking the best parts of the Vatican City. I spent a few days exploring the majestic hotel and its spa recently and left rested and relaxed for my next adventure.

Being a lover of art, I have been sponsoring the art perspective event every two months held in a five star hotel in Dubai over the year and hence, very familiar with the trend of merging the art world with the hospitality world but seeing the seeing the scale of art at Rome Cavalieri left me mesmerised. The hotel is home to over 1,200 beautiful artworks from well-known artists like Andy Warhol, Giovanni Battista and period pieces of artefacts, tapestries and furniture.

 Recently, the hotel introduced a series of complimentary luxury experiences for guests who book to stay a number of days in one of the hotel’s suites this year. They can take part in a series of inimitable local activities focusing on art, culture and cuisine, with each experience offered to vary depending on the suite chosen and time of year.

Whether it’s learning to make authentic Italian sandals with an authentic, family-run Italian shoemaker, private tours of the Vatican Gardens, the Pope’s summer Residence or the gardens of Castel Gandolfo or culinary journeys in the city, Rome Cavalieri’s Suite Experiences promise a memorable stay.

Food lovers will enjoy a private culinary tour and two-way transfer to Mercato Trionfale in the Prati neighbourhood, a market frequented by locals. The tour features six venues with over 20 different food and wine tastings. Here, guests can sample local culinary delights including truffles and 30 year aged balsamic vinegar, artisanal gelateria from Fatamorgana, homemade pasta with D.O.C.G. Vermentino wine at an award-winning restaurant, caviar and foie gras topped pizzas at Pizzarium, Rome’s number one pizzeria. It also includes a visit to Paciotti, the number one gourmet food shop in Rome, offering over 200 types of cheeses and 100 types of meats.

 Guests staying in the top suites can enjoy the private use of a professional photographer to accompany them on their day around the Eternal City. Guests will receive a professional photoshoot in both Rome and the hotel, with a Mercedes at their disposal throughout the day. To cherish those memories, guests will receive an elegantly presented box with a USB drive and photo print outs, which will be directly delivered to them after their stay.

My favourite experience naturally would be staying in the Vista and Corner Suites and enjoy a luxury picnic in the hotel’s verdant parkland, accompanied with a butler as well as a private yoga session in the park and an 80-minute massage.

The spa experience in Rome Cavalieri was an amazing escape to a tranquil oasis with Roman baths, fitness centre and reputed products to indulge in. I opted for massage and once I saw the La Prairie products, I wished I had booked a facial too but had to catch my flight back to Dubai.

Overall, the Rome Cavalieri was a surreal experience. The building was designed by one of the most important architects of the period, Ugo Luccichenti, assisted by E. Pifferi and A. Ressa, with contribution from two superstar architects of the ‘60’s, Franco Albini and Pierluigi Nervi.

Ever since its opening in 1963, the hotel is known for the highest level of comfort attracting famous personalities and fifty years on, the Rome Cavalieri continues to move with the times, exceeding the expectations of the most demanding international travelers and living up to its name as an icon in the world of luxury hospitality. I certainly felt extremely special throughout my stay and would love to return with family one day to relive the experience and of course to make their spa my second home for at least a week.

 

 

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Classic Elegance – Luxury at every turn at Villa Magna, Madrid

By Shereen Shabnam

On the way to my Spanish home recently, a stop in Madrid led me and my family to discover the luxury Villa Magna in Madrid where the ambience celebrates the old and new in a space that only be described as classically elegant.

In the last century, where this modern building stands today on the Paseo de la Castellana, was the Palace of Anglada which was demolished in the 1960`s. The hotel on the same site shows the same sophistication and after an extensive renovation, the luxury hotel has become a home to regular visitors who love the Bauhaus concepts and Chinese screens that combine to create a welcoming and luxurious atmosphere.

From the moment we were picked at the airport by a private chauffeur to the moment we left, the experience we had was more than amazing. The Concierge led us to the most interesting exhibitions and fashionable boutiques in Madrid but the highlight of the excursions was our teenage daughter experiencing the VIP shopper experience at El Corte Ingles…a must for all GCC visitors.

The hotel lobby is warm and welcoming with a large window offering a marvelous view to the Magnum Patio. To add a sophisticated touch the walls were adorned with Bauhaus and Vienna Secession designs. Different styles also combine among the furnishings: Louis XVI rosewood consoles, exotic screens and rugs with their geometric shapes give warmth to the marble floors.

The Restaurante Villa Magna has beautiful natural light, complimented by the choice of light colours and a large framed mirror that reflects the space as a painting. The beauty of the carpentry work and the relaxing upholstery combine to make a perfect ambience relaxing. 

The Lounge, off the Lobby of the Villa Magna, is the ideal setting to meet friends, discuss business or enjoy a relaxing meal at any time of the day. We spent our lunchtime mainly there with a selection of snacks, light lunch dishes whilst enjoying views onto the Lounge Terrace and Paseo de la Castellana beyond.

The room we stayed in was spacious, comfortable and washed with soft lighting, bright colours and warm fabrics. It was tastefully done and every detail was taken care of…from attending to my love for chocolates to the availability of prayer mats in the cupboard.

 Our day excursions meant revisiting our favourite Madrid attractions starting from the “Art Triangle” the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, the Mercado and the Reina Sofia Museum to walking through Plaza Mayor and retail streets dotted with local and international brands.

The Villa Magna´s Fitness Club is equipped with the latest Technogym equipment and a team of fitness experts to provide a personalized fitness programme. The Wellness Club is a quiet area to be pampered with luxurious body treatments and skincare in a retreat of tranquility and naturally I opted for a massage on arrival.

Withthe city’s main shopping streets and attractions at the doorstep, the Villa Magna offers the most exclusive and ideal place to stay while visiting Madrid.

 

Pure Indulgence – DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higuerón

By Shereen Shabnam

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This has been a year of exploring my adopted country Spain and during a road trip, we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higueron, belonging to the Hilton brand family.

The first thing that greeted me at the hotel was the most beautiful classic car in the lobby and being a motoring enthusiast, I was in love. The hotel is a unique, modern, comfortable, spacious and airy complex. The Hotel is leader in design, leisure and services, with a combination of entertainment, health, sports, relaxation, culinary and activities.

Ideally located in one of the most exciting destinations in Europe, “Costa del Sol” between Malaga and Marbella, is known for its sandy beaches, golf courses and subtropical climate with 320 days of sunshine a year. The Resort combines the quietness and the proximity to the best beaches. It is easy to reach from the international airport, and Málaga town center, 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train from the station just 200 meters distance from Resort entrance.

The beautiful city of Malaga, one of the oldest in the world and known as the capital of the Costa del Sol. Through the combination of magical and monumental surroundings, this city offers visitors a cultural and cosmopolitan appeal with several major European museums (Picasso Museum, Pompidou and Thyssen) among others. Also just minutes away you can visit Marbella and Puerto Banus to enjoy a luxurious and exclusive shopping.

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The Resort has 177 rooms, including 24 junior suites, all with spectacular views of the Bay of Fuengirola, areas with permanent artworks,9 meeting rooms for up to 500 people, 5 restaurants. All in accordance with the standards and services of the Hilton brand.

Sport Club and Spa Nagomi

Within the complex you can find Sport Club, a sports entertainment center with fitness facilities, monitored activities (Pilates, Yoga, TRX), 11 paddle courts, 2 tennis courts, an exclusive area of sand of 4,000 m2, two heated indoor swimming pools and 3 outdoor pools.

Learn a new concept of wellness through Nagomi SPA experience with dynamic jet pool, massage, waterfalls, contrast pools, sauna, steam room and relaxation area. And a wide range of treatments for health, welfare, beauty and nutrition, with the help of the best professionals, also having hairdressing, manicure and pedicure.

Infinity pool and terrace

The Infinity top roof terrace, is one of the most impressive areas of the hotel, an infinity pool waterfall in south side that blends in harmony with the vision of the Mediterranean Sea. Impressive, pool accompanied by Balinese beds with stunning views of the Mediterranean where you can enjoy the best cocktails, drinks and snacks.

Dining options

The Resort offers a comprehensive food and beverage concept where 5 restaurants including SOLLO´S, quality restaurant awarded Chef Diego Gallegos with Michelin Star 2016, specializes in river fish and caviar. ARARA BISTRO BAR by Diego Gallegos with the best options of Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. PALMERAL BUFFET is an open and modern restaurant in the heart of the hotel offering breakfast buffet, a la carte lunch and dinner buffet, INFINITY BAR with fresh choices of meals and snacks, and Snack Bar LA HIGUERITA completes the offer healthy foods for sport people.

 

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.

 

 

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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