Luxury Hotels


For a hotel habitué, where one was at momentous moments stays forever. In Girlahead’s case it was EQUINOX in Manchester VT for 911. Think of UK royalty. During Princess Diana’s funeral it was, after a long day of Hunter Valley wine tasting, munching a room service burger at FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SYDNEY (everyone on that connoisseur outing subsequently chose private dining, the server tactfully averting his eyes when presenting orders to guests who were all in floods of tears).

On a considerably happier note it was, two days ago, lying in bed at 3 a.m. local time at WALDORF ASTORIA CANCUN, Coronation time. Looking through floods of London raindrops but who cared about the weather – the only umbrellas, obviously City Gent blacks, were just outside Westminster Abbey as the King and Queen arrived (question, how on earth did they climb down out of the gaudy coach in their robes?)

There is absolutely nothing gaudy about this three month old Waldorf Astoria. It is tasteful style personified, 173 keys on six floors. All rooms face over a pair of elongated double-zigzag infinity pools to a fine-sand beach, about 20m across until you get to the so-blue ocean, complementing the cloud-free sky.

Room 625, on the top floor, is about 60sm total, which includes a 1.5x6m stone terrace incorporating a Japanese-type inset stone jacuzzi, semi-shielded by a slatted ceiling-high wooden privacy screen. Inside, there is no tub but the big wet room has easy-work Axor push-buttons for the two-head shower. The two washbasins, in a 3m vanity shelf, have make-up counters either end. Toiletries are local Vervan pump-pots. Robes are plush Boca Terry, and there are masses of towels, masses of US electric sockets, in black panels that all have both USB and USC sockets.

Oh how modern technology can improve the customer experience, which includes instant WiFi connection. And oh how good designers improve the experience even further – developers Parks Hospitality cleverly worked with HBA here. The colour scheme of palest grey, putty, taupe and three shades of soft blue, for marble flooring, oval scatter rug, walls and upholster, is interrupted by a multicoloured dragon painting with hanging orange, royal blue and sunflower cotton threads. Different, and local. The eatertainment centre is a distressed-wood cabinet, different and saying Sustainability.

What a joy to be able to eat outside. Girlahead chose the relaxed Chaya. Look across black-topped tables bearing bright orange Bird of Paradise blooms to 2m-high green undergrowth partly shielding the pools beyond. Riedel stemware sets the tone (china is Degrenne, cutlery Sambonet). Go simple, say calamar frito with iceberg, ginger scallion, lime, followed by tagliatelle with Meyer lemon cream, parmigiano Reggiano and black pepper – and RGMX Tinto 2019. At breakfast simplify the highly-composed menu offerings, perhaps merely requesting Greek yoghurt and home-made muesli.

There’s always lots of fruit, individually wrapped, in the spacious LifeFitness gym, open 24/7 (plenty of machines and weights and elastic bands). Want more? Six days a week there is outdoor yoga, 7 a.m., with stretching on Sundays. The spa awaits, with 21 rooms. Twice a week there are management cocktail parties (meet by the clock in Peacock Alley, the brand signifier that is here part of the lobby). Yes, it’s all splendid, modern luxury with just enough but not too much heritage. Love it, says Girlahead.