Luxury Hotels

Munich’s forever-young Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski

A sense of place is increasingly important to luxury travellers today, and to this Girlahead would add a sense of time, too. Look at the mural, above, a photo-shopped blown-up photo that occupies the end wall of the sitting area of room #430 at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski, Munich. You are reminded that you are only a few minutes’ walk from the old-town area of this fascinating city, the capital of Bavaria. Time is included, too. Until a short time ago the hotel would never have paired simple, light and bright bedroom interiors with stylised murals rather than lots of artwork. Colin Finnegan, one half of the Anglo-Dutch design firm FG Stijl, has here shown admirable restraint. Room #430 has parquet floors with soft blue and cream central rugs, pale cream walls and hand-pull drapes and sheers for the three windows, which of course open, and there is marvellously bright lighting throughout.

Breakfast tastings

When what is now a Kempinski-owned 305-room hotel was built in 1858 as guest-house for Maximilian II, it had more electric lights than the whole of the city put together. The hotel has kept itself right up to date ever since. Examples? Its near-unique constant air-flow cigar lounge, its stylish buffet room, its cleverly laid out wellness, next to the indoor pool and the rooftop sunbathing terrace. It is also smack up to date in exhibiting its German-ness. Back to that buffet room: at breakfast supplies included glass jars of yoghurts, plus curd cheeses and quark, with chives, while breads included super-healthy browns, almost in 50 shades.  At lunch, my weisswurst came with pretzels – weisswurst is, incidentally, never eaten AFTER lunch (and another local rule, never eat the casings, suck-out the veal and pork innards).   At dinner, a steak tartare, complemented by a Pinot Noir, Hand in Hand Spätburgunder 2017, arrived with pumpernickel.

Bavarian weisswurst, with pretzels

Let us go to the spa, which cleverly themes its offering, and names its four treatment rooms, for the seasons. Main products are Babor, from Aachen, and after a deliberately-firm back massage I was sent away with a dear little fuchsia goody-bag holding a Dr Niedermaier Natural Luxury Regulatpro Hyaluron anti-ageing beauty drink, from Hohenbrunn (I can testify it tasted jolly good but no-one has since remarked whether or not it has made any difference). Another German brand that I fell in love with here at the hotel was Dallmayr coffee, from the Munich-based delicatessen that dates back to 1700. Still family owned, it is today the largest such emporium in Europe: commendably, for every pound of Ethiopian coffee it sells it plants another five seedlings in its aim to re-forest that country. I made a couple of cups in my room’s Krups machine and both resulted in some of the best in-hotel coffee ever, even though the Dallmayr-branded cups were honestly too chunky for my own taste.

Even though there was no time, alas, to take advantage of Kempinski’s Five Star Road Trip – take a Sixt car for a 90-minute drive to sibling property, to Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden Bavarian Alps, for even more exposure to sense of place, German-style – I had a really memorable stay back here at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich. The hotel is a couple of minutes’ walk to the theatre, and under ten to the English Garden and its unique Eisbach surfing. Even less time-demanding is being able to come out of the hotel’s main entrance, cross Maximilanstrasse and there is Chanel. I saved time, and used calories, too, by taking the 72 finely-carpetted stairs from lobby up to my room.  It was all, really, most agreeable.  I did feel rejuvenated, though I think rather than crediting Dr Niedermaier I will praise the hotel boss, Holger Schroth (even though he was away that night) and his really passionate and friendly team.

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Right now all restaurants have to close at 9 p.m. so there is a lot of early dining, and increased use of private dining. For background on luxury world travel news, do sign in to the WORLD TRAVEL ESSENTIAL podcast https://anchor.fm/agwte

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Luxury Hotels

Maldives – Raffles wellness

Yesterday Girlahead was raving about Munich’s Eisbach. Today we switch to the Indian Ocean, to Raffles Maldives Meradhoo, on Gaafu Alifu Atoll.  Somewhat incongruously, perhaps you can dine Peruvian at its Yabu/Yuzu restaurant and bar, shown above.  Yuzu is for food, cooked by Diana Liliana Matute Moreno, a Peruvian who adds masterful Nikkei techniques to fresh line-caught fish. At Yapa, complement your mixologist’s bespoke special with, perhaps, sashimi and tapas. As an alternative, take jet skis to reach a nearby sandbank for a private lunch or, more aqua-activities, take an evening dhoni cruise to watch dolphins as you toast the sunset in Pol Roger. And in the morning, perhaps a breakfast basket is already floating in your private pool (the six-bedroom, 1,700sq m Raffles Royal Residence has a 40m pool, plus a private beach).

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On a corporate level, Raffles has published a white paper, Answering the Desire for Wellness in Luxury Travel. “As the expectation for wellness luxury travel continues to grow, we must look beyond material luxuries to experiences that balance the mind, body and spirit,” says Emlyn Brown, Global VP, Well-Being, Luxury & Premium Brands, Accor. “At Raffles, we believe that true luxury is not about what you do, but how you feel. Raffles hotels represent places where our guests can see their aspirational lifestyle reflected in every touchpoint. Once the pandemic is under control and our luxury guests return to their normal routines, there will be an even greater demand for wellness activities that embrace the key health modalities of nutrition, mindfulness and sleep.” Brown says the brand’s  first Emotional Wellbeing by Raffles Retreat will be at the recently opened Raffles Bali in 2021, and will introduce Raffles’ Wellbeing Butlers. Expect Design for Harmony – Creating harmonious and natural environments through second nature Feng Shui and Biophilia; Nutrition for Pleasure – an exploration of foods that support deep and restful sleep, travel recovery and the symbiotic relation ip between the mind and the human digestion system; and Rituals for Serenity – subtle rituals promoting serenity, peace and revitalization. Raffles is working with consultants Simone Osswald and Cindy Palusamy.

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And to get the whole world of wellness and luxury travel, tune in to the weekly WORLD TRAVEL ESSENTIAL podcast, as below – it leads on, too, to the current MARY GOSTELOW GIRLAHEAD podcase

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Luxury Hotels

Simply Sunday – make it happen

As global pundit Tyler Brûlé says in the current issue of Monocle’s The Entrepreneurs, pull together that brilliant idea and make it happen. Munich has two related examples of making something happen.

First, its English Garden is a model of respectability, 370ha of landscaped grounds laid out in 1789 in Capability Brown style by Sir Benjamin Thompson. Within all this decorum, however, is the Eisbach (ice brook), see above. Eisbach is a 2km stretch of man-made river, a side arm of the city’s Isar River. It already had a rare and unstable phenomenon that sometimes only appeared after several months, namely a ‘standing wave’, 90cm-1.1m high and about 12m wide.  But keen surfers wanted a permanent ride opportunity and after five years’ assessment of the characteristics of the flow, they made permanence happen. Since  2000, the wave can be moved and shaped into a near-optimal form.

Eisbach is is free, and it is open day and night (this must surely be the reason John, a Costa Rican who does breakfast service at 25hours Hotel The Royal Bavarian, lives in Munich). It does seem that he and his Eisbach colleagues are a bit mad-cap. One surfer plunges in from one bank, attempts to balance the waves and as he falls in the next daredevil plunges in from the other bank. Back and forth. These are not irresponsible teenagers, by way. As Girlahead watched this very morning, at 8.30a.m., about 75% of these exhibitionists, all wetsuit clad, were grey-haired matures. Yes, make life happen. See today’s video, below.

 

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