Luxury Hotels

Geneva’s new luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel

Lobby chandelier

Continuing around Lac Leman, the slipper launch – see below – dropped the gal centrally in quai du Mont Blanc, and there was a young Polish bellman from Geneva’s newest luxury hotel, Hotel de la Paix, Ritz-Carlton. Yes, the 1856-vintage beauty that has been transitioning since 2015 finally emerged from chrysalis state on September 14th, 2017, and the result is beautiful. The six-floor open-atrium lobby still has its original chandelier, probably Austrian, but now it is embellished with angled planets that recur in lighting in the gorgeous all-day Living Room that occupies the entire east end of the main floor (the big oval bar table here was once a pharmacist’s table).

Guillaume Benezech in the bar

What was previously the back-office for front-office, if you see what I mean, is now a Philippe Pascoët chocolate emporium, the most enticing I have seen since the chocolate factory at COMO The Treasury in Perth. We walked east, along an inner corridor publicising Audemars Piguet, chosen, says GM Guillaume Benezech, because it is an independent company, and it stands for time that is one of the 75-room hotel’s differentiators (the others are art and nature). We were heading for the signature restaurant, FiskeBar, bsed on a Copenhagen Fish Market – why Copenhagen? ‘Cos it is a trendy global city, said Mr B. obviously thrilled with its success. I loved the open kitchen, the organic butter that came with a small milk churn holding absolutely addictive hotel-churned butter made from deliberately-fermented cream.

Smoked fish platter

Everything, apart from the caviar which comes regularly from Moscow, is home-made here, or bought in daily I started with home-smoked fish, red onion and sour cream. Where do the fabulous ceramic plates come from? The smaller ones, I heard, are saucers that the hotel’s florist uses under his flower pots: conveniently Steelite produces commercial plates that blend perfectly. The Peugeot mills are simple wood, similarly blending perfectly with the satin-smooth wood tables – two heights – and light or black wood chairs, and the whitewood flooring. Everything fits here, and I was reminded yet again how Ritz-Carlton has moved with the times to be absolutely 2017, if not 2018. No-one blinked when I redesigned my main course. This restaurant does not say No.

Aquavit anyone?

And even five years ago no Ritz-Carlton, or any other luxury hotel for that matter, would dress its signature restaurant’s servers in black Superga trainers, paired with pale blue shirts, dark blue trousers and big aprons with leather suspenders crossed at the back. But then in days past who dared to push round an end-of-meal trolley bearing a tasting of chocolates, and home-distilled Aquavit in a big glass jar? They certainly seem to have it right, here. Every top businessperson in town seemed to lunching at FiskeBar that day.

AND NOW, GOING BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE VISIT, SHARE THE MEMORABLE BOAT ARRIVAL

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Luxury Hotels

More on Geneva’s luxury La Reserve hotel

Virginie Basselot MOF and Didier Le Calvez

 

The gal has already raved about the Geneva sunset that started as a pink hue illuminating Mont Blanc, but then the colour got increasingly vivid. It was time for the sun to go to bed, and for mere humans to see what La Réserve Geneva had to offer in the way of dinner. The Chinese restaurant was completely booked – apparently there is a noticeable increase of tourism from Mainland China, parents who would have sent their adored only children to boarding school in Australia or England, now diverting to the Geneva area. Fortunately Didier Le Calvez, still (just) CEO of Michel Reybier Hospitality, which includes the La Réserve hotels, had a reservation to try dishes from Virginie Basselot, one of the most charming female MOFs imaginable.

Table setting

She is also, obviously, seriously talented, and dining in Le Loti is pure delight. The big square space, true to the hotel’s theme, looks like a safari tent, with lots of greenery up the central tent pole. Places are set with finest Garnier-Thiebaut linens, Bernardaud. and golden twig-shaped rings. What did we drink? Well, this is the first time I have been with Didier Le Calvez when we have not drunk his own wine, Château Clarisse, which, with the help of his winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt, who also looks after Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyards, has been taken to great heights. No, tonight Le Calvez chose two wines owned by La Réserve’s owner, Michel Reybier, first a 2014 and then a 2009 Cos d’Estournel St-Estéphe.

Starter of heirloom vegetables

We were also, of course, there for the food. Organic bread chunks came with slates holding cubes of butter and elaborate silver spoons of seasalt. I started with a divine ‘old vegetables’, for which read ‘heirloom’, collage, with a mushroom coulis. We then shared an enormous veal chop, carved tableside and served with artichoke halves. After that I went to be bed, forgetting to order one of the 13 different pillows available (what do you do with a hop, or millet, pillow, eat the stuffing?). I wanted to be up with the lark to finish an article before tomorrow’s events began, and yes, as I ‘walked Marin County’ on a Technogym treadmill looking through a glass wall at the indoor pool, there was a man swimming at 6.15 a.m.

Sailaway?

This is certainly a place for the fit and healthy, and I could have had more Virginie Basselot at breakfast. Set meals from 7 a.m., include the usual continental, with hotel-labelled preserves, and full-cooked, or the chef’s special, with Swiss hot chocolate and one egg, sunny side up with local ham and tomatoes. At the appointed time, a charming young Swiss man knocked on my door to escort me away from this truly enjoyable luxury hotel. We walked three minutes to the lake, down and through the under-road tunnel, and up again, to emerge at the private wharf. Grégoire the boatman had waiting the 14-year old Venetian slipper launch which provides complimentary shuttle between the hotel and downtown, and we were off, for what turned out to be a far-too-short 12-minute ride. SEE THE VIDEO BELOW TO GET AN IDEA OF THE HOTEL’S COMPLIMENTARY SHUTTLE TO THE TOWN CENTRE

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Luxury Hotels

Simply Sunday style

Belvedere serves real food, with great taste

That beautiful luxury Beverly Hills hotel, Peninsula Beverly Hills, has had lots of unwanted publicity recently – it was a favourite, for years, of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. But this is a gorgeous establishment that warrants publicity for all the good things it does.  Under its long-time GM, Offer Nissenbaum, it never stands still, says the gal.

This very week it has a stunning new boutique, Marie France Van Damme, showcasing the Canadian-born designer’s wear-anywear clothes (check her out on Lyft, although nearly all her items have already sold out – not surprising since they are just the kind of versatile, no-crease garments that would be ideal for my wardrobe but my Porsche Rimowa wheelie just does not have a square centimetre of space to put anything else in, sadly). The utterly-modern, 1991-vintage hotel is also refreshing its rooms, just a Helen Glynn tweaking rather than changing anything dramatic, which would upset its large number of regular guests.

Offer Nissenbaum is a details man (a kind of Stan Bromley Mark II). The flowers in Belvedere Restaurant are always, well, divine – see above.  And the menu is smack up to date. Take a variety of salads, perhaps, and add your choice of protein – say salmon atop a pea and burrata salad. Heirloom vegetables are served in the kind of containers one grandmother might have used.  Old is today’s new in many cases when it comes to modern luxury.

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