What a welcome a bunch of flowers makes. Yes, sometimes it is fabulous to be treated Hollywood-style and have a giant bunch handed over as you get out of the arrival car, with a posse of delighted management people bowing and almost scraping around you.
But, says the gal, if that is the case you then need someone like a lady-in-waiting or a butler to take the bunch from you immediately (did you see that The Pierre in New York is enhancing its butler experience by importing three long-time Taj people from Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai to be Taj Royal Attaches?).
It is actually less over the top, and just as appreciated, to have a giant bunch already waiting in the room. See these peonies waiting in room 22 of J.K. Capri (or is it J.K. Place Capri? Either seems to do).
And if the fabulous flowers are in a fabulous room, so much the better. Room 22 is one of four penthouses atop this four-floor, 20-room luxury hotel (the lobby and public areas are two floors below, counting the lowest level as zero). This hotel has lots of advantages. It is right in the centre of the little fishing village that is Capri’s harbour.
If you do not use the elevator and take the 53 stairs up from the lobby, you look out at a villager’s house, laundry hanging outside. Sense of locale, sense of place, sense of J.K. Place. The name is for Jonathan Kahri, an Israeli who seems to run Italy’s mid-market fashion, things like Disney clothing, Guess! jeans and much more.
He had always wanted a hotel, converted a residential building in his home town of Florence – ergo, J.K. Place Florence – and then a hotel here in Capri and, to come, turning a university building near the bottom of the Spanish Steps into J.K. Place Rome.
From room 22 you look across the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius – if it is fine. At any time durimg the long summer season there will be yachts moored. The big one in the photo belongs to Diego Della Valle, owner of Fiorentina football club and Tod’s shoes.
He and other yacht owners use J.K. Place, naturally. There is nowhere else of this style nearby. This is a luxury hotel for the cognoscenti. Two weeks ago one of the owners of Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, HBO’s Michael Fuchs, married Alvina Collardeau here at the hotel.
160 guests took over the top places in Capri for five days and nights, dined on its terrace at one long mirrored table reflecting the candles hanging overhead. Did they serve The Sexy MF, the cocktail his friend Doug Teitelbaum created for Fuchs’ birthday this February? (For the record, blend one part Stolichnaya Elit vodka with 1/2 Patron XO Cafe tequila, 1/2 hazelnut Frangelico, 1/3 Baileys and 1/4 Godiva chocolate liqueur.)
For now, in room 22, let us stick to the luxury hotel’s extremely drinkable Bellavista prosecco. Instead of looking out to sea from the two big south-facing French windows, one in the bedroom and one in the big bathroom, look straight down, to the public beach. Those enjoying it present a colourful sight.
Inside the bedroom, which is about 20 by 20 feet, colour is beautifully muted, off-white with a fabric that is off-white Greek key on soft golden yellow. The drapes on the big fourpost and the pillows are bordered in white fur-look fringe which sounds naff but is not. Art consists of framed black and white photos of racing yachts – oh so Capri – and a bust of a classic Buddha head on a tall plinth.
There are four penthouses on top of the hotel and two of them face west, down to the harbour, seven minutes near-diagonal walk away. All day long jetfoils and highspeed ferries and roll-on-roll-offs arrive, from Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi.
In the height of summer up to 7,000 people pour off them every day, 90 percent daytrippers, coming to see Capri and take a boat trip through the Blue Grotto. Tour guides hold up flags to get their Japanese charges, or whoever, into position. At dawn, however, the harbour is blissfully quiet.
A few locals come down by funicular from other areas of the island to start work. A caricature of an Italian small-town sea captain strolls by, eight-months-pregnant stomach rolling over his lowest-slung belt, shoulder length hair under a jauntily angled hat, cigarette in hand…
Early morning regulars are also swimming in the sea, with a little dog that, once in the water, looks rat-like. This is definitely one of the best times of day in Capri. We take a hike, high up above J.K. Capri, along the road that winds like a corkscrew up the mountain and over to Anacapri.
At this time of day only locals are out. They have a few months of tourist hordes, the rest of the time is quiet. They pay a lot more for groceries and utilities, especially electricity, than on the mainland, apparently. Back at the hotel, cleaners are polishing what is already pristine. I go back home, up to room 22. It has another pair of windows, one with French doors, facing east.
Go out there, on to a terrace almost the size of the bedroom. You have loungers, and a trellis fence separating this room from the neighbouring (north-east vista) penthouse. You know someone famous is staying there – it seems everyone here is a real, as opposed to a Hello! – celebrity but you cannot see, you do not pry. Look down east, over the fabulous, near-Olympic pool. There will be anonymous names spread out around it soon, all day long.
At the far end of the pool is the spa, run by a gorgeous and warm Swedish-Turkish professional, the beautiful Meltem Hancer. She wears eggshell blue and white, the hotel colours. She takes me to an eggshell blue inner room. I lie on a white bed, with plastic cover, for a brilliant 30-minute Elemis scrub….
Meltem says she will spend this winter, when the hotel closes for its annual breathing space, learning German by staying with relatives. And now, after a quick spell in the Technogym, it is time for food, gal. Read on. It is worth it.