Time for some powerful women. First, my dear friend Anna Zhukov, a lawyer from St Petersburg – the Russian one of course, if you are thinking globally – who, sent on assignment to Dubai, stayed there.
She now heads the important Destinations Of The World News empire, with a monthly magazine and essential online presence. Anna is addicted first to her husband Keith, then golf, and Chanel, top to toe, and she does not mind the occasional glass of pink champagne.
Just now I came across the name of Rana Florida. Ever heard of her? No, never heard of her. She and her husband Richard head Creative Class, which seems to be a PR company. Look at their client list and, in the hospitality sector, the two main entries are Le Méridien and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
On November 29th, 2011, Richard and Rana hosted a party to announce Le Méridien’s latest partnership, with two Istanbul artists, Yasemin Baydar and Birol Demir. Oh what a pity these two called their company :mentalKLINIK, makes’em sound as if they are behind bars.
Thankfully, I am in front of the bar as I undergo the exhilarating hour-long stretch session imposed by, whom I have called Fred, when I had enough breath to say anything for 59.5 long-long minutes. This personal trainer (‘body and mind’, says his card) is sensational. I did not know my joints were so supple.
I am now in the birthplace of the French Riviera, Nice. The icon of the entire area is, well, a unique luxury hotel, Le Negresco. Where else do you get the real-fur bedcover that I had at my last visit?
This time, considerably tamed by lovely new GM Pierre Bord, there’s a fabric cover, in a subtle room (520, looking out right across the promenade to the Mediterranean), with only two classical portraits, one of a pursed-lips female who is allowing a red squirrel to nibble from her hand.
Once out in the corridor of this Leading hotel, however, I am still in a museum, from Vasarely carpets and, down all 130 carpeted steps to the ground floor, walls are lined shoulder to shoulder with portraits, and, where there is standing space, strategically-placed objets d’art, say a somewhat-bashed copper hip bath now used as planter, and a kidney-shaped causerie chair.
Just by the ground floor there is a dedication to the late Paul Augier, husband of the present owner, Mme Jeanne Augier.
She inherited this hotel and its contents from her parents. She lives upstairs, on the sixth floor reached only by one of the two red-velvet-padded elevators. She is also visible in various places, via portraits of her at various ages. One wonders if she eats as well as I do here….