Luxury Hotels

Madrid – France – Virtuoso

The long-famous Ritz Madrid is re-open, now as the 153-room Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid.  Originally designed and built under supervision of legendary hotelier César Ritz, it first opened its doors in 1910. Over the last three years, it has been carefully restored, enhancing its facilities and services while preserving the unique Belle Époque character of the original building – this has all been achieved thanks to such partners as Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz, and French designers, Gilles & Boissier. Key to the ongoing success of the hotel as an anchor for Madrid’s discerning elite is its dining scene, led by experienced culinary director Quique Dacosta, above: the three Michelin-starred chef oversees local-produce Deesa, al fresco El Jardin del Ritz and other eating, and drinking, venues. Wellness is a partnership with The Beauty Concept, one of Spain’s leading wellness experts (there is also a heated indoor swimming pool). The hotel is jointly owned by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Olayan, and GM is Greg Liddell.

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Elsewhere, President Macron optimistically hopes to re-open France, especially to vaccinated Americans and Europeans. He seems to be talking about progressive steps: as he told CBS News “We will organise for French, European and American citizens”.
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Virtuoso asked consumers if the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future – and 82% said yes, with a total of 50% feeling it is very important to choose a hotel, cruise line, or travel company that has a strong sustainability policy. And to help curb overtourism, 76% would visit a popular destination during an off-peak time of year (70% also say they believe that travelling sustainably enhances my vacation experience).  
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And so, on sustainability, let us close today, says Girlahead, with a reminder of sustainability guru Costas Christ talking on Podcast:

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Luxury Hotels

Moscow

This episode of Girlahead picks up from a regular weekly article in LATTE, Signature Media’s luxury briefing for travel advisors in Australasia*.  Here, read about Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow:

“I love every day of this business”, says Mattheos Georgiou, GM of the 205-key hotel. “It combines psychology, versatility, and creativity – I also give people a place to sleep, which is a very intimate task”.

Girlahead’s first visit to Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow was mid-winter. She was thoughtlessly wearing shiny-soled black boots and was about to slide, over ice, to Red Square. Immediately, a young managerial trainee rushed to help  – that ‘good samaritan’ was Mattheos (Aki) Georgiou, on his first secondment to this signature property.  But as well as staff anticipation, there are many other reasons for choosing this as your Moscow base. Take shopping. A just-launched exclusive partnership with the world-famous TSUM department store, only one block away, offers out-of-hours personalized retail. Go alone, or with a translator from the hotel, to a private VIP salon and, over a glass of bubbly, have your required brands, including Dior and Gucci, brought to you (all major credit cards work, of course).  You are also a few minutes’ walk from the Bolshoi, and some of the world’s best live culture, and, similarly quick to get to, to the Kremlin and several museums, with VIP perks.

Unlike some Moscow counterparts, this is not an establishment that oozes the word Russia to you. Yes, you look out, from the terrace or your room, at Russia, or at least the very centre of Moscow – see the image above – but inside the hotel you feel contemporary internationalism.  Up on the 10th floor terrace you have, thanks to its expat chef, the only authentic Japanese food in any Moscow hotel – the cuisine is paired with Italian.  The bar here has been accoladed by the US-based Architectural Digest.

Reserve the tenth-floor 130 sq m Winter Garden Suite, designed by Hong Kong-based Tony Chi. You have an open air terrace with stunning views over Neglinaya Street to Red Square. Interior layout includes a walk-through closet and a big bathroom with orange-grey mottled marble from Zimbabwe, and a Toto washlet, from Japan. Toiletries are French (Le Labo).

Time to work out? There is a 24/7 fitness centre, with Kinesis and Technogym bits: the indoor pool, part of Quantum Spa, opens 5 a.m. through to midnight.

The lobby, incidentally, is two floors high, with three glass-sided elevators. Look to your right to Café Ararat, a reminder that this hotel belongs to Armenian investors.   Open all day, Café Ararat, which is in fact an extension of the lobby, so to speak, is a non-stop magnet for locally-based Armenians. There are such Armenian dishes as crawfish kebab and the ingredients are non-disputably Armenian, flown in from Erevan twice a week. As if to stress the point that this could be an honorary satellite of Armenia, door #923 on the ninth floor in fact opens to a working chapel. There are occasional services there. ‘Yes, we can do weddings’, says Georgiou.

He is, by the way, fully aware of the importance of heritage. Last week he was back in his native Greece, drawing up plans to renovate his family’s rural house, built in 1870 in classic Ottoman style – it is now, with many hectares of fruitful olive groves, his to re-create.  (*see another LATTE article, by Mary Gostelow, next Monday)

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And now, as complete juxtoposition, Girlahead invites you to read this week’s Podcast:

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Luxury Hotels

Sybaritic Single takes the waters

The Sybaritic Single feels that wellness is back in our lives stronger than ever. Spa is the new bar – three letters, different meaning. That’s why he downs his morning glass of Champagne and heads for a body treatment as early as 9:00 AM – and then there is always a Dior facial at 9:00 PM with a cup of herbal tea before he retires to bed.

After the health crisis everyone wants to feel pampered and spoilt, but in a slightly more sophisticated way. As the herd immune increases, the distance between humans shrinks and it is sensational to once again have an appointment with your favourite therapist, sense aromatic oils and feel the healing touch.

Never in his life the Sybaritic Single enjoyed as many spas and workouts as these days. His favourite brand, Dior, still keeps its wellness flagship at Hôtel Plaza Athénée closed so the Sybaritic Single can only enjoy Dior treatments either in Moscow or Dubai. He expects more luxury brands to enter the world of sophisticated wellness very soon – nobody can afford to ignore this reviving trend. Aman just launched dedicated wellness retreats in both Amanzoe in Greece and Amanjena in Morocco. Daily massages, spa, herbal teas and movement classes are designed to boost the immune system and motivation.
The Sybaritic Single hasn’t booked himself for such a retreat – he cherishes the hope that Paris would re-open in summer, where his life would once again include at least 15km of daily movements around the Tuileries Garden and between Place Vendôme and Avenue Montaigne, facials at Dior Institut and body treatments at the Ritz Club. As for the herbal teas – his latest favourite is the extravagant sapphire-hued Cactus Bleu by Mariage Frères. He believes that Gabrielle Jammal, the world-famous tea sommelier at Baccarat Hotel New York, would approve his healthy choice.
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