Luxury Hotels


Sometimes the sheer exuberance of hoteliers shines through, and it makes Girlahead smile to see it. At RAFFLES THE PALM DUBAI, above right, hotel MD Ayman Gharib welcomed a newly-arrived colleague, Mark Hehir, GM of JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY, a kilometre along The Palm.

Every hotelier celebrates meeting up like-minded professionals. Sometimes of course there are plenty of reasons for celebrations.  In Rio de Janiero, COPACABANA PALACE, A BELMOND HOTEL, is now 100 and 2023 is year-long #100doCopa events and happenings. It all goes back to 1923, when then-President, Epitácio Pessoa, suggested to businessman Octávio Guinle that Brazil needed a signature seaside hotel comparable to France’s HOTEL CARLTON in Cannes, and Guinle asked, and presumably paid for, French architect Joseph Gire to do the necessary.

As always, the world will be watching the Copa Magic Ball on Saturday 18th February.  It’s been the highlight of Rio Carnival since 1924 and this year’s, themed The Time Tunnel,  promises to be extra-special. Hotel GM Ulisses Marreiros has enlisted the help of director Gustavo Barchilon and producer Daniel Cruz to come up with what could well be the most exhilarating ball to date.

The hotel is certainly pulling out all the stops. Its integral Copacabana Palace Theatre, closed for nearly three decades, is now fully restored: architect Ivan Rezende led a team of over 600 craftsmen during the two-year renovation and now it will host, once again, the city’s best concerts and other performances. Also on the culture side. Copacabana Palace continues a pop-up art partnership with Galleria Continua’s global MITICO project. In addition, there will be more culinary pop-ups to complement the hotel’s own restaurants, the friendly poolside Pérgula (one of the best-ever breakfast buffets, globally) and, both Michelin-starred, Cipriani for Italian and MEE for pan-Asian.

One great asset of The Copa, now down to 241 keys, is that it is not too large. Just as increasingly high-spending travels opt for intimate hotels, so they favour small ships.   Apart from a myriad of other advantages, smaller ships can get into more ports.

Dubrovnik, for instance, has capped the number of cruise ships that can visit each day and has limited the total maximum number of passengers daily to 8,000. Windstar Cruises anchors right in the heart of Old town. Similarly, Windstar can sail through Venice’s scenic Grand Canal channel, and get right into Santorini’s harbour and, in French Polynesia, can access Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, and other islands.

So let us celebrate, special events and why small is more and more beautiful.