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.

Picturesque landscapes: New Zealand

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New Zealand has to be one of my top five destinations not because it is on the way home for me when I travel back to Fiji Islands but the terrain truly is breathtaking. From spectacular glaciers, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forests, volcanic plateaus to miles of coastline with beautiful sandy beaches.

New Zealand has two main islands, the North Island and the South Island and many smaller islands lie offshore. The country enjoys varied landscape and dramatic geographical features and is a popular location for tourists as well as the production of TV programmes and films, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

Maori Culture is an integral part of New Zealand society. Perhaps the most well known piece of Maori culture is the Haka, a Maori war dance that is performed at many important events, including before each All Blacks game of rugby. It is captivating and one of the things we look forward to during the Dubai Rugby 7s.

Like Fiji, Maori culture has roots in the Polynesian islands but Maori natives have their own particular style developed over centuries. Maori people still consider family and community to be paramount and aspects of this can be found in their art, music, dance and dress. Maori men and women are known to tattoo their faces and bodies with beautiful intricate patterns throughout history.

Nature has blessed New Zealand with some spectacular geothermal areas and relaxing hot springs, as well as providing electricity and heating in some areas. Rotorua is the centre of geothermal tourist activity, with plenty of mud pools, geysers, and hot springs in its active thermal areas–not to mention its trademark ‘Sulphur City’ smell.

First settled by Maori who used the hot springs for cooking and bathing, Rotorua soon attracted European residents. The reputed health benefits of its hot pools quickly earned the area the name of ‘Cureland’.

In addition to Rotorua, you can enjoy hot springs and other thermal activity in most regions of the North Island north of Turangi, as well as in Hanmer Springs and the West Coast in the South Island. The sandy beaches on the coast are perfect for swimming, surfing and sunbathing.

If you love nature, visit the Abel Tasman National Park to explore the most beautiful beaches, bays and lush forests NZ has to offer.  The Abel Tasman is quite like paradise and New Zealand’s only coastal national park. Enjoy long stretches of deserted golden beaches, turquoise clear waters with a fantastic variety of adventure activities.

 

For extreme adventure, adrenaline attractions are plenty in New Zealand. You can leap from an airplane for a sky diving experience, get dropped off by a helicopter on unique and rugged terrain and ski the slopes at a dizzying altitude, jump off a bridge or suspension pod attached only by a bungy cord to your ankles, or ride the Nelson Fly by Wire reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

 

New Zealand’s Southern Alps have a number of glaciers, the largest being Tasman glacier, which you can view by taking a short walk from Mount Cook village. New Zealand’s most famous glaciers are the Franz Josef and Fox on the South Island’s west coast.

 

Health resorts and spas are ideal for spiritual retreats, rejuvenation, beauty treatments or as a getaway to improve your health and well being and New Zealand has plenty of these on both main islands.

 

If you are in Auckland, drive or take the ferry from Auckland City to historic Devonport, explore the naval caves at North Head, and admire the city view. Spend some time at Cheltenham or Devonport Beach. Browse through the boutique shops and cafes and visit the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, the official museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

 

If you have kids, they may enjoy the Kelly Tarltons SEALIFE Aquarium. An all-weather visitor attraction, you can see the world’s largest penguin colony, over 30 exhibits and more than 80 different marine species.

 

For a self-guided tour of Auckland City, visit the Aotea Square, which is used for a myriad of activities including festivals, parades and community events. Auckland’s newest waterfront neighbourhood Wynyard Quarter provides free activities for families in the weekends and school holidays as well.

 

Weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.30pm. Which can be a good thing, as you do need more hours in the day to explore the many attractions New Zealand has to offer.