August 09, 2011
Visit New York City with Denihan Hospitality Group
|(c) 2011 Affinia Hotels|
Visit New York City with Denihan Hospitality Group and take advantage of exciting events, including the International Gift Fair, Fashion Week and the NYC Marathon Weekend.
Here's a full list of the events Denihan guests can expect:
• August 13-18: International Gift Fair
• August 26-September 5: World Police & Fire Games
• September 8-15: Fashion Week
• September 19-23: UNGA
• October: Affinia’s Comfort Month
• October 23-25: JA International Jewelry Show
• November 4-6: NYC Marathon Weekend
• November 12-15: International Hotel Motel & Restaurant Show
• November 24: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
• December 1-31: Holiday Shopping Weekends
December 21, 2010
Holidays in Paris 2010
Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own, and also writes a popular insider's blog (www.eyepreferparis.com).
Paris is awash in holiday spirit in 2010 with glorious lights, festive holiday displays in the shop windows, glittering lights on the Champs Elysees, and a magnificent tree brightening Notre Dame cathedral. Here are some holiday highlights and delights.
Printemps department store has tapped fashion designer Alber Elbaz of Lanvin to design its fantasy windows this year. He has gone all out and created Noel a Chateau, which represents the famous chateau Mr. and Mrs. Lanvin lived in. Lively marionettes styled after the couple prance their way through each room of the mansion and one of the rooms is haunted by spooky ghosts.
The blockbuster musical is the theme of the windows at Galeries Lafayette this holiday season. Adorable bears in swimsuits with water goggles and royal blue glitter flippers madly dance to the beat of Mamma Mia, while blonde haired dolls in Santa suits, red tams, and golden clogs are the famed Radio City Rockettes kicking their heels as high as they can, and a romantic couple next to a lamp post poses to the music of Singing in the Rain. Don’t forget to go inside the store and marvel at the 20-meter Christmas tree decked with gold, turquoise, violet and pink balls under the famous dome.
BHV department store by the Hotel de Ville celebrates the wonder of the circus with its fun Circus de Noel theme. Watch Santa work his magic with a mammoth polar bear and see some chic marionettes designed by singer Olivia Ruiz.
Ice Magic is a chilling experience with hand-carved ice sculptures of all the famous French monuments and icons including the Eiffel Tower, Rodin's Thinker, Notre Dame and its hunchback, Mona Lisa, the Hotel de Ville, Sacre Coeur, Django Reinhardt and of course, Santa Claus. Bundle up — it’s about 15 degrees inside.
Le Grande Roue (the big wheel) is covered in bright white lights standing 197 feet above the Place de la Concorde. Ferris wheel lovers will have the ride of their life along with magnificent views of Paris.
Sharpen your skates and glide away atop the most famous monument in the world. From December 15 till February 11, the ice skating rink at the Eiffel Tower will be open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m..
64 Blvd. Haussmann,9th arr.
Metro: Havre Caumartin
Tel. 01 42 82 57 87
40 Blvd. Haussmann, 9th arr.
Rue des Archives & rue de Rivoli, 4th arr.
Metro: Hotel de Ville
Jardin des Champs Elysees
Avenue des Champs Elysées, 8th arr.
Le Grande Roue
Place de la Concorde, 1st. arr
By: Richard Nahem
December 16, 2010
Luxury and Romance on St. Lucia
ST. LUCIA – Was Jade Mountain the best hotel I have ever stayed at in the Caribbean? Well, there was an infinity pool in the bedroom of my three-wall room at this ultra-luxury resort in St. Lucia.
This room was just pure heaven. I can see why a guest here once stayed in the room for five consecutive days without stepping foot outside. There is quite simply no reason to leave. And you aren’t exactly inside, either.
Each room has only three walls.Without the fourth wall, you are basically outside while in your room. You can catch plenty of rays just by sitting in the lawn chairs in your living room. The pool begins from your bed, which is netted to protect you from mosquitoes, and extends to the front of your living room with perhaps the best view I’ve ever seen at a Caribbean hotel.
Looking out from the edge of your pool, you can see the pride of St. Lucia: the Pitons, two gigantic, gorgeous green twin mountains.
To your right is more ocean, which looks like a painting when the sun goes down. To make a long story short, I was in my room, in a pool, drinking a cold beer, overlooking a real-life mountain.
This was one of the first luxury properties I had seen in the Caribbean when it first opened roughly four years ago, right around the time I began covering the region. I never got to stay there until now, but the wait was well worth it — even if I only got to stay for one night.
Also, there is a Jacuzzi directly in front of the shower, which has no walls at all.
I stayed in room JA2, known as “Moon,” one of the 29 rooms of this resort, which is owned by Karolin and Nick Troubetzky, who also own the original Anse Chastanet. Anse Chastanet was built in the ‘70’s and Jade Mountain is its sister property, the newer of the two and practically a resort-within-a-resort.
Although situated near the same location, the difference is that Jade Mountain comes with access to the pools and a butler for every room. The lowest category rooms at Jade Mountain, however, only come with a Jacuzzi. Rooms are pretty pricey, ranging from $1,200 to about $2,300 a night.
The only drawback for someone like me was the room's lack of a television. That’s usually not a problem since the typical guests here are not lonely travel writers, but honeymooners, a variety of guest this property has consistently attracted since it was featured on “The Bachelor” last season. In fact, the terrace of Jade Mountain, where private dinners can be arranged, was the site where Jake proposed on the show. Or, so I’ve heard.
Butlers, upon request, can bring wireless devices to your room, so you have Internet service if you feel the desire to connect with the outside world or, in my case, brag to your friends about what an awesome job you have.
You simply can’t go wrong pitching this incredible resort. This is mainly for honeymooners and wedding destination-seekers, but Anse Chastanet is also a place for families to stay.
December 14, 2010
A Tour of St. Lucia’s First-Ever Casino
ST. LUCIA – So, I managed to go four straight days in Las Vegas without playing a single hand of Blackjack, keeping intact my New Year’s resolution to not gamble in a casino. And what happens?
The day I arrive for a four-day press trip to St. Lucia, the island opens its first casino since it was discovered by Columbus.
Now, I could have easily stayed away, but I had to get a first-hand look at something I thought I’d never see on this Caribbean island. The Treasure Bay Casino has 257 slot machines (90 percent of which are penny slots), nine Blackjack tables, one Craps table, one Roulette table, 31 televisions in the bar and three poker tables in a private area. The casino is located in the Bay Walk mall in the heart of Rodney Bay, the area of the island with the most vibrant nightlife.
The temptation to sit down at the brand new, green felt Blackjack table — that hadn't yet seen a single spilled drink or a frustrated gambler's pounding fist — subsided quickly for two reasons: The “How to Play Blackjack" pamphlet to the left of the table, which alerted me to the fact that most of the people I would play with here would not be experts of the game (something that has cost me money in the past), and … the dealer was not yet on duty.
But I must say, the place looked very clean, very professional and, unfortunately for me and the locals of St. Lucia who are inexperienced in table games, very inviting.
The casino also has a handful of $1 minimum Blackjack tables, meaning you can gamble for hours without losing too much dough. I spoke to Jeff Prusinowski, vice president of gaming operations for Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel, about the casino. Prusinowski's company is based in Biloxi, Mississippi, and owns and manages several casinos in the Caribbean, in locations such as The Bahamas, Aruba and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Thirty-six nationals and 10 to 15 ex-pats work at the casino, all of whom went through 10 weeks of training prior to the opening, according to Prusinowski. Locals are allowed to gamble. Locals, as well as tourists, need to become a member of the casino in order to wager. To become a member, all you have to do is present your I.D. and sign a form.
I’ve been hearing about the possibility of St. Lucia opening a casino for some time now, but I honestly never thought the government would allow it. Prusinowski said the plan to open this casino first sprouted in 2004.
“I always say the Ministry of Tourism should be called the Ministry of Experience,” said Sen. Allen Chastanet, minister of tourism and civil aviation in St. Lucia, “because tourism is really about your experiences and adding a casino is just another way we can tailor visitors’ experience of St. Lucia. It’s just one more thing we can give them.”
December 09, 2010
Hotel Chelsea a Hotbed of NYC History
When I heard earlier this week that Ian Schrager had passed on the opportunity to buy the legendary Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, I had a mixed reaction. Part of me would love to see what the hotel impresario would do with the property, but for the most part I’d like to see at least one New York City landmark retain its tawdry splendor. And I say tawdry in the most complimentary, urban-gritty meaning of the word.
We just did a feature in Travel Agent for our 80th anniversary on the historic, iconic grand hotels of the world. No, the Chelsea didn’t make the cut (which included such stalwarts as the Pierre, the Drake, Raffles and the George V), but a case could be made for it. At least on the grounds of historic and iconic.
Built in 1883 as an apartment building on its present site at West 23rd Street, the 12-story Chelsea was New York City’s tallest building until 1899. At the time, the neighborhood and 23rd Street in particular were the center of the theater district and the Chelsea, which opened as a hotel in 1905, quickly become a magnet for artists, writers and performers of all types. Famously, or infamously, Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning there in 1953 and Sex Pistol Sid Vicious may have stabbed his girlfriend to death there in 1978. Despite the sordidness of those events, they are the two milestones that attract the most interest from tourists and New Yorkers alike.
But did you know that Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there? Or that during the years Arthur Miller stayed at the Chelsea, from 1962 through 1968, his output included After the Fall and Incident at Vichy? And it may add to the hotel’s notoriety to know that Charles R. Jackson, author of The Lost Weekend, committed suicide in his room at the Chelsea on September 21, 1968.
While its literary history is impressive (everyone from Mark Twain to O. Henry to Kerouac and Sartre is represented), it’s most known today for the musicians who have taken up residence. Some of the most prominent names include The Grateful Dead, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Dee Dee Ramone of The Ramones, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Henri Chopin, Édith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen.
The Chelsea is often associated with the Andy WarholSuperstars, as the pop artist directed Chelsea Girls (1966), a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel. Chelsea residents from the Warhol scene included Edie Sedgwick and Ultra Violet. Valerie Solanas, the would-be assassin of Andy Warhol, visited the hotel on that very day looking for editor Maurice Girodias, possibly to make an attempt on his life shortly before she shot Warhol at The Factory at 33 Union Square, a brief walk from the hotel. In his memoir of the period he spent living at the Chelsea, Arthur Miller mistakenly recalled Solanas shooting Warhol in the hotel lobby.
Just think of the theme rooms Ian Schrager could have installed here! But the Hotel Chelsea doesn’t need an impresario’s touch—it has a style all its own.
Because of the great interest in the history and the culture of the Chelsea, the hotel is reinstituting the tours hosted by its legendary front desk manager Jerry Weinstein. The next public tour will be held at 11 a.m. on December 30th, 2010. The cost is $40 per person, and the tour should last about three hours. To reserve a space, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the number of people in your party.
By: Michael Browne
December 09, 2010
Day Two Roundup of the Luxury Travel Expo
LAS VEGAS, Nevada - The 12th annual Luxury Travel Expo continued its success Wednesday morning at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. During the open session, there was a flattering shout out to Travel Agent magazine for our 80th anniversary, complete with the presentation of a cake, but the better shout out was to John McMahon, vice president and group publisher of The Travel + Hospitality Group, who was celebrating his birthday Wednesday.
It was funny to see McMahon’s face turn beet red when he was serenaded by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator on stage in front of everyone.
“I think you’re about the same age as Travel Agent magazine,” McMahon told the fake Monroe on stage.
The keynote address was conducted by the very vibrant and very funny Nancy Friedman, founder and president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Travel. In between checking herself out on the big screen and flirting with attendees, Friedman told the audience a few phrases to never say to clients. For example, Friedman urged to crowd to never say, “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know? Never say that,” Friedman says. “It says ‘I don’t care.’ It is a direct rejection. Why not start out with a positive alternative if you don’t know the answer. Instead, say ‘Gee, that is a very good question, Mr. Customer. Let me check and find out.’ By the way, Tommy, when did you need that information? By the way, Mr. Jones, when do you need that information?”
The trade floor opened at 1 p.m. Here’s some notable news and notes Travel Agent was able to get during our time on the floor:
Travel Agent spoke with Dr. Aloyce K. Nzuki, the new managing director of Tanzania Tourism Board, who discussed the African destination’s plans to add direct flights from New York and Atlanta and possibly add U.S. hotel brands such as Marriott Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.
Travel Agent met with Scott Ward, director of marketing and sales for Scrub Island, the British Virgin Island's first new resort in nearly 15 years, and learned that the hotel portion of the resort is now complete. All 52 rooms of the resort are now fully complete, which wasn’t the case when Travel Agent visited the resort back in January. In fact, since its opening the resort has already hosted six groups and six weddings. The villa portion of this resort within a resort is also coming together smoothly. The first property, a five-bedroom villa, opened in May. Four two-bedroom villas are expected to be ready by February or March, Ward said.
We spoke to John L. Lynch, Jamaica’s director of tourism, and found out that the destination saw a six percent spike in arrivals in November from the same period last year. Lynch also noted that the new Montego Bay Convention Centre will be functional by the upcoming Caribbean Marketplace 2011, which will be held Jan. 16-18.
Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, a company that just launched its first resort, the Buccament Bay Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a soft opening in August and a grand opening slated for April 3, is planning to expand further throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world. Groundbreaking has already begun on projects in St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic and Barbados, and plans are underway for other resorts in Jamaica and Brazil. Harlequin Hotels & Resort’s Harlequin Golf brand will continue to expand throughout the world, with other Harlequin Golf resorts possibly opening in China, Africa and India, although Ames says those destinations are merely being scouted for new projects and no definite plans are in effect.
December 08, 2010
Day One Roundup of Luxury Travel Expo
LAS VEGAS, Nevada –The 12th annual Luxury Travel Expo got its feet wet on Tuesday with the inaugural Young Leaders Conference. I was on hand for the event, which attracted roughly 110 agents and tourism representatives under the age of 40.
“I’m usually the youngest one at all these events and conferences, so its great to be able to trade advice with people my own age for a change,” says Aimee Leon, manager of leisure services for Travel Dynamics Group in La Jolla, California. “It’s very beneficial.”
Attendees sat through six interesting presentations from such industry icons as Jack E. Mannix, of Jack E. Mannix & Associates, along with Nancy Strong, CEO of Strong Travel Services; Kathryn W. Sudeikis, vice president of corporate relations for All About Travel; Michelle Mangio, owner of Magical Express and Ralph Iantosca, owner of Go Girl Travel.
“The energy throughout the day was exciting and innovative,” says the event’s host, Jose Barreiro, group director of sales for The Travel + Hospitality Group. “It was so wonderful to see some of the travel industry’s brightest young professionals interacting with longstanding industry icons. It made all of us hopeful about the future of the travel agent.”
After the roughly seven-hour conference, I had enough time to race to my room, write a bit, change into my suit and race back downstairs for the 10th annual Awards of Excellence where the big winners were Geoffrey Gelardi, The Lanesborough for Top General Manager of a Luxury Hotel/Resort Worldwide and Abercrombie & Kent for Top Luxury Destination Management Company Worldwide.
Along with the 2010 Awards of Excellence winners, Luxury Travel Advisor honored Kathy Sudeikis, vice president of corporate relations for All About Travel, as Top Humanitarian for 2010. The Top Humanitarian award is bestowed on those travel industry professionals who are not only committed to the betterment of the industry, but who use their notoriety to bring attention to communities and individuals in need.
November 19, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: November 15-19
For the handful of you that have been reading the Weekly Wrap from week to week for the past few years, I'd like to say many thanks for your time to catch up on what readers have been saying. I'd also like to thank all of the readers who took time to share their comments (no matter how crazy), as I've learned a lot about the industry through what has been shared. At the end of the month, I'll be heading up to New Hampshire for a new position at Dartmouth College. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but nevertheless it was too good to pass. I will be training my replacement, Asher Fusco, next week before the holiday, as well as on my last day on Monday, November 29. But before we get all teary eyed, let's take a look at what readers and agents have been saying this week.
American, Orbitz and Travelport
An airline, an online travel agency (OTA) and a travel business services company walk into a bar, and the travel industry goes wild. One of the most controversial stories as of late has been the clashing amongst American Airlines (AA), Orbitz and Travelport about booking fees and processes. Needless to say, many agents are up in arms.
Teri Gilbert shared:
The airlines are no one's friend. Think back to the time of commissions from the airlines when we were considered a 'value' to them (the airlines). We had reps visiting us, we had flight incentives, we had reasons to push one airline over another. When the airlines announced no more commissions did we all stand together? No. Did ASTA help? No. Did we begin a downward spiral for agents and agencies. Yes. If AA gets away with this latest move the rest of the airlines will follow and then where are we going to be, again, at the bottom of the barrel. Fight this. Write and call your legislators. Write the airline and make your position clear. Most of all, take a position, don't just stand by and let the airlines stick it to us again!
Jeanne concurs, writing:
I agree with Teri, it is time agents stick together. I would hope nobody would sign on with AA's Direct Connect. Why should agencies make it any easier on the airlines that make our jobs harder every day? If agents would agree to stop ticketing for just a day or two the airlines might recognize our value.
And then there's Peeved who, well, is perturbed when commenting:
Bruce Bishions had it so right so many years ago. We didnt listen then. How can we expect to pull together now? We should have supported an agent run booking system and our sheer volume would have spoken for us. Shame on us.
Meanwhile, in response to AA's response to the scenario, Carol Feiner seems pretty down, writing:
Once again the small, independent agency is going to get the short end of the stick.
In recognition of Travel Agent's 80th anniversary, we cited this situation with AA as we looked back to the late 1980s, when the airline was promoting travel professionals in its in-flight publications. As one may expect, a reader was not in the mood to celebrate with us as Jack Gaffney wrote:
But AA isn't the only company under fire as of late, whether it pertains to the clash with Travelport or not. Orbitz, based on an unrelated story, is getting some attacks as well, primarily in light of a class action suit against the company. One reader is thrilled with the legal action, as delaide Folks shared:
Thank you for the update. Thumbs up to Mr Shea (Shea is the individual filing the suit)
But not everyone thinks too highly of Mr. Shea, as Sally points out:
Sorry to sound negative, but if Shea had booked his vacations with a reputable travel agent he would not have had this problem. He thought he could do it all on his own and without a travel agent, he is all on his own.
It will be interesting to see how the Orbitz suit and the battle with AA plays out over the next year. I won't be hear to write about it, but I surely will be browsing TravelAgentCentral.com to get the latest update and look forward to reading your comments from a true "outsider's view" moving forward.
Kudos to Cruise Lines
In light of recent hubub over cruise line actions and movements (whether it's direct shots at NCL's Kevin Sheehan or discontent over NCL's sales through direct channels), it was a refreshing change of pace this week to see some readers voice their support for two cruise lines. First, there was Susan J. Young's analysis of the recent Carnival Splendor dilemma and her questioning as to whether the incident will mar the cruise industry. Joe Brandon responded quickly, commending a separate cruise line though, no doubt, endorsing the selling of cruise vacations, stating:
I am scheduled for my third cruise on the Sapphire Princess on Dec. 4th and am in no way worried. The crews on these ships are extremely well trained. As evidenced by this latest issue, they were able to confine an extremely bad situation to the engine room, put out the fires and carry on as best as possible. The fact that no one was injured is phenomenal.
Carnival and Princess have to be happy with that endorsement, probably as much as AMA Waterways must be pleased to read Beverly Rodriguez's comment on Susan J. Young's interview with the head of the cruise line. She wrote:
I have sailed with AMA Waterways several times and I have also sailed with other lines. I must say hands down that AMA Waterways has the best product out on the river. My clients thanked me over and over on what a great experience they had sailing with me in Europe with AMA Waterways. I just took a party of 10 this last August and my clients are still talking about what a great trip that was! I am putting another group together for late summer of 2012 with AMA Waterways. This line just knows how it should be done. I will always be thankful to Rudi for his kind offer to experience river cruising. On time and I was sold on this great way to see Europe.
It's nice to see that there are still plenty of cruise options for agents to proudly and comfortably do business with out there.
One Writer Virtually Responds to Another
Every week, our own Mike Browne writes an insightful column about recent trends in the travel industry. Recently, he analyzed the idea of virtual vacations, citing a book by author, futurist and technologist Barry Shuler. Not only was it a great read, but it received a response from Shuler himself, who wrote:
I just read your blog with interest. Your points are well taken. I address these and more in the book. I’ll grant that some people will favor a traditional physical travel experience, even when virtual travel is viable. But, as the virtual travel experience evolves, more people be astounded by how good it is. Eventually it will be so realistic and affordable, even for an extended leisure experience, it will become a preferred alternative.
The answer to your Nile cruise and Shanghai marketplace question is a resounding YES. I agree that being thousands of miles away from work is not doable virtually. But lying on that beach certainly is. Whether you get called back to work is between you and the boss.
In the book I say virtual business travel will mature within the next 10 years. But, you are right. The “as if you were there” virtual leisure travel experience will happen closer to the 30 year mark than 20. I hope to be around to get your reaction then.
That's pretty cool of Barry to take the time to respond. I hope Mike writes something back.
Get Training As Demand Rises
A recent study by ASTA shows that the demand for traditional travel agents remains strong. This is great news, and is celebrated by Jason Coleman (one of our top 25 agents of 2010), who commented:
As a student of economics, the law of supply and demand suggests that the price for those travel agents (who are in high demand) will go up since the supply is insufficient to meet demand. That's great news for agents on the salary front. Let's see if it comes true in next year's salary survey!
So how can agents stay ahead of the pack as demand increases? How about some better product training? Recently, we received a submission from Karen Dawson of Southlake Travel about what she thinks suppliers can do to better prepare agents to sell their product. Readers appear to agree with what she shared.
Bill Lyons shared:
I believe that Karen makes a valid point. Matching a client to a product will insure repeat business and referrals.
I feel that product training helps us recognize who the potential client for that cruiseline is. If we can't figure it out by the product trainings we are getting then I am not sure you should be selling travel.
Seems like the pro-active agents who push for more from suppliers will develop better business amidst this potential increase in demand. Perhaps you shoudl as well?
So there's no "until next week" this time, but the staff of talented editors here at Travel Agent are going to keep their fingers on the pulse of what our readers are most interested in when it comes to travel. So keep the comments coming. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page. Discuss all things travel in real time at AgentNation, the only social community online for all kinds of travel agents. Although I may not be citing your comments every week, anymore, I will certainly be checking back in to post some comments of my own (most of which will hopefully be constructive).
Happy Holidays and have a great 2011!
By: Kirk Cassels
November 14, 2010
Luxury in Buenos Aires: Alvear Palace
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Travel Agent arrived Thursday in Buenos Aires as part of a press trip hosted by Blue Parallel, a tour operator and villa operator who specializes in Latin America, and the first hotel we stayed at is definitely worth pitching to your luxury clients visiting Argentina.
The Alvear Palace is located in Las Recoleta, one of the most elegant neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. The neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants, coffee bars and stores in all of Buenos Aires. It is known mostly, however, for its public parks and rich architecture.
The hotel is embodies classic elegance with its French design, including crystal chandeliers in its lobbies and rooms.
Every floor in this luxury property has its own butler service. I stayed in room #723, which came with one of the most comfortable king-size beds I’ve ever slept in, views of the city, a flat-screen TV and free wireless Internet service. But the kicker here was the small, flat-screen TV located in the bathroom on a wall above the bathtub. Your clients will thank you when they are watching television as they sip some tasty Malbec wine in their bath.
Pitch this hotel for your affluent business or leisure clients. It’s a great sell for both families and couples, but we would mainly recommend this for travel savvy couples.
November 14, 2010
A Top Pick: El Casco Art Hotel in Bariloche, Argentina
BARIOLOCHE, Argentina – On my second day of a press trip hosted by Blue Parallel, a tour operator and villa operator who specializes in Latin America, I took a nearly two hour flight from Buenos Aires to Patagonia and stayed at one of the best hotels I’ve ever seen in Central and South America, The El Casco Art Hotel.
The ultra-luxury hotel located in Bariloche, an adventure travelers dream, overlooks the famous Lake Nahuel Huapi, which can be seen from every room in the hotel. All rooms are numbered, but are also named after a famous artist.
There are 33 rooms and suites and 475 pieces of art, all available for purchase. I stayed in room 211, the Daniel Kaplan room, named after a famous artist who lived for some time in New York and now resides in the city of Mar del Plata.
His favorite subject is the tango, which developed into a new style of tango painting that is completely original. The room, like all rooms of the property, is themed after the artist it is named after. Our room is decorated with Kaplan paintings and included brochures and books all devoted to the artist. You can even buy the pieces that are hanging in your room. The room category is a Nahuel Studio. There are 18 of these.
The main selling point here is the view and the location. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of walking into the room, looking out of our floor-to-ceiling-sized window and being smacked in the face by one of the best views I’ve ever seen at a hotel. The lake is gorgeous. The bright, blue water attracts baby ducks and boats, while green and snow-covered mountains can be seen alongside of it.
It is also home to a beauty salon, fitness center, restaurant, a bar and more. The hotel also has adapters for the outlets since the outlets are different than American ones.
The food and wine here are amazing, but the theme and views of this hotel is what makes it perhaps the top five hotels I’ve ever stayed at in Latin America. Pitch this to just about anybody, especially art enthusiasts and adventure lovers, who can take part in anything from mountain biking to repelling.
It is perfect for couples and girls and guys getaways, although families may not be the perfect fit since children might not appreciate the art that the resort celebrates.