EXCEPTIONAL HOSPITALITY AND FAMILY TRADITIONS – WHITE STALLION RANCH

By Shereen Shabnam

As the world gets more accessible to travellers, destinations sought are no longer just limited to beaches and cities. Highlands, cruises, ranches are becoming more popular and our current favourite is the White Stallion Ranch.

The personal touch and hospitality of this traditional dude ranch is carefully blended with the service and amenities of a fine resort where guests can reconnect with nature, family, friends and serenity. Adventure seekers can ride through the unspoiled desert and the rugged mountains.

With a warm, welcoming atmosphere, the ranch has been the Hollywood filmmakers for years as a backdrop in Western feature films and later, as the location for the television series High Chaparral.

The guest rooms at the ranch and The Hacienda, a lovely and private four-bedroom, three-bathroom home are spacious and charming, perfect for larger families or small groups. Every guest room has a private patio with views of the cactus gardens, mountains, or corrals.  Amenities include eco-friendly soaps, shampoos and lotions, hair dryers, mini-refrigerators and personal safes in all rooms.

A premium advantage of a vacation at White Stallion Ranch is that all the cooking is done for guests with a variety of meal options using the freshest, quality ingredients in home-style recipes.

The breakfast includes a cooked-to-order menu as well as an extensive continental buffet. Lunch and dinner buffets are also available with snacks all day including fresh fruit, chips and salsa, peanuts and a homemade trail mix.  For drinks, guests can have coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, hot and cold teas and lemonade through the day.

Among activities at the ranch, the riding program is one of the focal points, with a large herd of hand picked horses and knowledgeable wranglers to guide the riding adventures.

Guests can also enjoy guided rock climbing, hiking, tennis, basketball, the game room, movie theater, swimming pool, hot tub, gift shop, spa, exercise room or just relaxing on one of the many charming patios with mountain views.

White Stallion Ranch was originally built in the 1900’s and began as a cattle ranch. The original property was constructed of Mexican adobe brick made of mud and straw. During renovation, wire and horseshoes were found in the walls. A small part of the original adobe is on display in the dining room, the original building on the ranch.

As a sought after destination that is also an attraction, the White Stallion Ranch has won many accolades and is recognised for service excellence and value. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and recognised among the fifteen best hotels in Tucson in 2017 by US News and World Report and holds the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence since 2015 to this year.

The current owners maintain the traditions of the West with many of the original buildings still in use. They have added sunken tennis courts, a movie theater, a new pool and hot tub area with a serenity patio, lighted sport courts a spa area and fitness center. They have also established one of the largest privately owned herds of horses in Arizona and a large herd of cattle.

New ranch holiday seekers should start with the best and the White Stallion Ranch is the perfect venue to get a glimpse into the ranch lifestyle.

 

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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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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.

 

 

Vibrant Kathmandu – The Charming city of Nepal

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Exploring the city and outskirts of Kathmandu is an exciting and an intoxicating experience for visitors from around the globe with bustling streets, a large variety of flora and fauna, medieval temples and some of the best hiking and walking trails.

The city has character with old charm architecture intricately carved wooden doors and windows, lively narrow streets filled with shops dedicated to small yet thriving specialist businesses full of different colours, smells with sounds of tourists mixed with locals.

Although I have visited Nepal a number of times, this year I attended the Himalayan Travel Mart, organised with the objective to establish Nepal as a Gateway to the Himalayas and as a destination capable of hosting events at international level. The travel mart hosted around 74 Buyers from 36 countries and over 50 sellers, representing the Himalayan Region, Bhutan, India, Tibet, Indonesia and Nepal.

It is best to 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. Visit the famous Temple of Living Goddess “Kumari”, and the Kasthamandap Temple, believed to be constructed from the wood of a single tree from which Kathmandu derives its name.

Nepal is a Himalayan Kingdom often referred to as the “Land of Mount Everest” and the “Land of Living Goddess-Kumari”. Abroad, the country is also associated with the heroism of its brave warrior ancestors – the talented “Gorkhas”.

My favourite part of the adventure was visiting a monastery in the mountains and meeting the resident monks. A definite 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 Bagmati River.

The excursions take time but 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. I also enjoyed the views from the Namo Buddha Stupa, which offers a serene ambience ideal to meditate in.

I fell in love with the local cuisine and yet surprisingly had some of the best international cuisine in the city as well. Who would have thought that the best pizza I would ever eat will be in a quaint restaurant called Fire and Ice in the streets of Kathmandu.

We visited an orphanage as well after a visit to a monastery. The orphanage is part of 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.
I spent the last few days exploring the shops and markets with two fashionable and seasoned travellers and together we got fascinated and taken in with the beautiful gemstones, the colourful pashmina shawls, the soothing musical instruments and comfortable yet classic clothes designed to stay trendy for years in places like Indra Chowk to luxury boutiques.

The wide variety of products in all price ranges is attractive to all ages and tourists often head to the Thamel area for souvenirs and handicrafts.

Going back to Nepal ended up being a therapeutic and calming holiday cum work destination that I needed and meeting travel aficionados from all over the world who are passionate about the Himalayas was definitely an added bonus. I look forward to my next visit already.

 

Beyond Luxury – Maldivian Resort, Velaa Private Island

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It is always a delight to meet with the Velaa Private Island team and at ATM we were invited to a VIP event to get introduced to the resort’s new General Manager, Mr Michal Smejc.

Having spent the past six years in South East Asia, and being the younger brother of the property’s owner, Jiri Smejc, Michal has all the premises to take over the lead of this ultra-luxury resort in the Maldives. As a family member, Michal has spent countless days at Velaa Private Island from the very beginning, witnessing the origins of this unique resort as a construction site to conversion into what is today known as one of the top private islands in the world.

His culinary passion, knowledge of luxury travel as well as love for nature, diving and the South Asian culture were essential decision factors when the General Manager role became available earlier this Spring.

We met at the capital Club and sampled delicious canapés and signature beverages prepared by the resort’s very own Executive Chef, Gaushan de Silva, former chef for the Jordanian royal family, who was flown in directly from the island.

Velaa means turtle in the local Maldivian language, after the generations of turtles who nest and hatch on the island, and the turtle shell design can be seen throughout the design of the villas and resort.

Velaa Private Island is a tropical paradise destination for offering the luxury Gulf traveler a very private and relaxing holiday at this boutique island hideaway. The resort offers an exceptional range of watersports and island-based activities to keep both adults and children of all ages entertained.

Created out of a passion for the Maldives, the Owner Czech Businessman Jiri Smejc and his wife Radka have overseen every last detail, working closely alongside award-winning Czech Architect Petr Kolar. From the exquisite interiors of the Villas and Private Residences, to the Lha Velaa (Little Turtle) Kids Club to a pristine 9 hole Golf Academy, shaded Tennis Court, Squash including a submarine for exploring the rich marine life.

There is a Clarins Spa to retreat to when you need some downtime or just enjoy world-class diving and deep-sea fishing while on holiday.

Cretan Hospitality:Grecotel

The successful history of the largest and most successful Greek luxury hotel brand, Grecotel oversees a collection of Greece’s finest resorts, each individually designed, crafted and inspired by its own supreme beachfront location.

The brand values high standards of quality, great team and responsiveness to tourists’ needs are key to a successful future together with the unique concept of hospitality that is rooted in Greek culture and style. Hence Grecotel delivers sophisticated lifestyle experiences for travelers in the country’s most beautiful destinations.

Grecotel properties are located in prime locations around Greece on the islands of Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, the prime mainland regions of Sounio south of Athens, Halkidiki in the north and Kyllini in the legendary Peloponnese.

Each property has a unique character, from ultra-luxury boutique hotels to magnificent resorts on sprawling estates and family-friendly or all-inclusive holiday-lands for quality vacations or romantic hideaways and luxurious spas.

This summer Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort celebrates 10 years of the iconic Resort. Famous the world over for authentic hospitality and devotion to the art de vivre. Indulge in the celebrations with specially designed events throughout the season.

Mykonos Blu Grecotel Exclusive Resort continues to capture guests imagination with its world famous beach, unrivalled suites and the friendliest welcome on the island. It is a dreamy place, ethereal and unreal, when you are there but intensely real as it lures you to return.

Then there is the Corfu Imperial Grecotel Exclusive Resort, which reflects the peninsula’s gorgeous natural setting with an unsurpassed collection of exclusive accommodation among luxuriant, splendid gardens along the shore’s edge. There is easy accessible berthing for yachts & services

Not to be missed is the Riviera Olympia Resort in Peloponnese, Greece set on a spectacular two kilometers long vast beach, with a choice of four amazing resorts. It is a small world away from everyday life with a multitude of resort facilities; all near ancient olympia, where the olympic games were born.

The Grecotel Hotels and Resorts provide a unique architectural experience in itself and a paradise of opulent amenities, gourmet restaurants and luxurious, well thought-of details, all embodying the essence of the genuine Greek hospitality.

Having been awarded over 2000 international awards by guests and the most prestigious international tourism organizations, Grecotel owners are mostly proud of its team known for providing impeccable service of the highest standards in the Grecotel culture.

Villas by Grecotel is a new exclusive service tailor-made to assist you in choosing the perfect villa and a brand new Full Concierge service, all with the Grecotel legacy in privileged hospitality.

Most propoerties offer an abundance of watersports and sports facilities including tennis courts and multi-sports area. If you love wellness, pamper yourself with a sauna before enjoying the treatment of your choice and immerse yourself in the sensory delights of harmonizing treatments at the spas in Grecotel Hotels and Resorts.

Having chosen beachfront locations of superb beauty and history, Grecotel works tirelessly to preserve the natural environment around them. Today, Grecotel hotels have become destination venues for people from all walks of life who through years have enjoyed Grecotel’s signature hospitality and created beautiful memories.

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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