March 19, 2012
My Blend Spa at Le Royal Monceau
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 (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
The Royal Monceau hotel, recently taken over by the Raffles Group, had an extensive facelift in 2010 to the tune of over 100 million euros, where no expense was spared. Philippe Starck was at the helm of the design of the hotel and while contemplating the philosophy of the spa he said, “ A spa is quintessentially a feminine world. I wanted to explore the architectural possibilities of the female subconscious.” The result is a fluid and open world of white grandeur that measures over 1500 meters, where guests can get lost in labyrinth-like design.
Measuring 28 metres, the pool has the distinction of being the largest indoor pool in Paris, so serious swimmers have plenty of room for swimming laps. The area around the pool is an oasis of comfy white couches to spread out on with oversized pillows and the skylight soothes with its natural light.
The long list of enticing spa treatments is almost overwhelming, and the desire to try all of them is quite tempting. A list of cleverly named treatments include White Paradise, a Royal Bath with tonifying plant powder scrub and massage, The Lights of Paris, a milky-soft foot spa with a luminosity restorer and a massage with hot stones, and the Weightless, a face, back, feet, hands and scalp treatment. I had the immense pleasure of receiving the customized My Blend facial. The facial consists of a thorough analysis of your skin by a highly trained expert who asks a set of personal questions about your skin and afterwards uses cutting edge technology to test your skin so he or she can enter the information into computer to devise the correct treatment for you using the parameters of skin hydration, serum, and elasticity. After the treatment, a two-week supply of day and evening skin cream is made for you to continue your skin therapy. The creams are easily refillable and a file is kept of your specific formula.
There are special coaches for each area of the spa including a beauty coach to advise you on your skins needs, a pool coach to assist with an aqua gym and other pool sports, 12 body coaches who specialize in an array of fitness trainings including body building, yoga, and Pilates, and lastly, a spa concierge to manage all spa appointments for hotel guests and club members.
Other services the spa offers is a full hair and makeup room, manicure service, sauna, Turkish bath, ice fountain, and a boutique stocked with My Blend and Clarins products.
My Blend spa at Le Royal Monceau
37 Ave Hoche, 75008
Open Monday to Saturday 6:30AM -10PM, Sunday 6:30PM-8PM
By: Richard Nahem
July 18, 2011
Five-Star Asian Luxury Arrives in Paris
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 (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog at www.eyepreferparis.com.
There seems to be a spate of luxury hotels opening in Paris in the last few years. Discerning travelers now have options other than the purely Parisian Grand Dames like the Crillon, Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice. A long awaited Asian rival has recently opened its doors
Mandarin Oriental has always defined the luxury hotel in Asia and is now spreading its Eastern philosophy to Paris. The new property on the rue St. Honoré rubs elbows with upscale neighbors Hermés, Lanvin, Goyard and the Hotel Bristol. Designer Sybille de Margerie has refurbished an Art Deco 30s gem and has reconfigured it to have the largest hotel rooms in Paris, averaging over 400 square each. Not only are the 138 rooms spacious, but they all have panoramic windows with some having terraces overlooking the lush courtyard garden. Thirty nine suites include the Suite Royal Mandarin, measuring over 4,000 sq. foot and on two levels, with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the rooftops and grand monuments of Paris including the Grand Palais, the Opera Garnier and the Louvre. The vast white and gold bathroom has the ultimate Parisian indulgence: a birds-eye view of the Eiffel Tower while taking a bath.
Two restaurants and a trendy bar are under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx. Sur Mesure, a gastronomic haute couture experience, is an intimate space with 45 seats and two menu selections of 9 or 13 dishes are printed on Japanese rice paper. Camelia is the more informal restaurant serving French cuisine. It has a light, airy, indoor space that spills into the gardens. Bar 8 has specially made cocktails and the cozy interior has tones of warm browns and walls inlaid with Lalique crystals. For sweet lovers, the cake shop drips with mouthwatering French pastries to savor on the spot or they can be beautifully wrapped to take to your room.
A tranquil oasis away from the bustling city, the spa is entirely devoted to a holistic experience to promote the harmony of the mind and the body. The centerpiece is the long, languid 45-foot long indoor pool. Couples can indulge in three spa suites and each treatment begins with a private therapist consultation to determine the present state of well-being and the treatment and oils are then tailored to each guest.
Parisian luxury doesn’t necessarily have to come from Paris.
By: Richard Nahem
May 15, 2011
On Site: Travel Agent Arrives in Turkey
|A guestroom at the Moevenpick Hotel Izmir // (c) Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts 2011|
IZMIR, TURKEY—Travel Agent just arrived in Izmir, Turkey, for our press trip to explore Izmir, Turkey’s third most popular city, which is home to a history of more than 8,000 years, as well as a modern port city. Today, in fact, the city is an official candidate to host the 2020 World Expo.
While in Izmir, we are staying at the Moevenpick Hotel Izmir, a prime property located just steps away from the heart of Izmir’s Kemeralti beachside zone. We’re staying in room 507, which has a view of the water--I can even hear the sounds of the ship horns as they pass by. The room offers a king-size bed with plush linens and a nice array of amenities, from complimentary water bottles to Molton Brown toiletries and Wi-Fi accessibility. The room also features a flat-screen TV and a comfortable leather armchair for relaxing. I’m looking forward to later using the hotel gym (Coral Health Club) and the on-site restaurant, Margaux Restaurant, later in my trip.
This property seems ideal for leisure travelers who want to make the most of its ideal location—just steps from the water—and, of course, for fans of Moevenpick’s world-famous Swiss ice cream, too. More to come later from Izmir, Turkey, so please check in with TravelAgentCentral.com throughout the week for more posts.
By: Deanna Ting
May 04, 2011
On Site: Travel Agent Arrives at Cotton Tree Resort
GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands -- Travel Agent just arrived in Grand Cayman for our property review of the new luxury boutique Cotton Tree resort and, within 10 minutes of my stay, I am already highly impressed with this remote cottage resort located in a quiet part of the city.
I am staying in Almond, one of four cottages located throughout the property, which officially opend just a little more than a year a ago. The room is extremely cozy, tucked away in the back of the resort just five feet from the resort's main swimming pool. The room has a living room, a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, a guest room with twin beds and of course a master bed room with a king-size bed, flat-screen TV and a bathroom with a tub and open-wall shower. The guest room also comes with a bathroom, but it just has a shower and toilet.
Don't be fooled by the classic cottage look as this place is extremely high tech and modern. There are speakers located all throughout the room, including two in the ceiling of the living area, two in the bedroom ceiling and two in the guest room ceiling. The entertainment system located under the living room television includes an iPod docking station and a Nintendo Wii. Note: the iPod docking station is for the older, smaller models.
The property's surroundings are very lush and well maintained with gardens and trees everywhere. There is a beach just 10 feet away but it is only good for sunbathing since the water is full of rocks, making it a little unsafe for swimming. There is also an outdoor area for massages or clients can requests massages in the room.
During a short tour, we learned that the property attracts mostly Americans with the rest of the market dominated by both Canadians and U.K. clients.
This is the perfect place for both younger and older couples looking for a true Caribbean boutique. It is also a great pitch for small families. There are not too many weddings here since it doesn't have the space for large receptions. Weddings of less than 30 people, however, can be arranged.
March 17, 2011
An American in the Paris of the East
|View from Fairmont Peace Hotel, room #221|
It's very difficult to care about a 15-hour flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Shanghai when you are snuggled in a Business Class seat on Continental Airlines, Bloody Mary in one hand and remote with access to dozens of movies and TV shows in the other. (And a handful of Ambien in your purse...but that's neither here nor there.)
I think I have made this point before: I don't care much for flying. Having said that, when it is done like this I'm really a big fan.
After takeoff the passengers in Business Class were treated to nothing short of a feast; I'm talking a five-course extravaganza of breads and salad, a demitasse of more mushroom soup with mushroom pastry and shrimp tempura, grilled pork chops with broccolini and white asparagus, fruit and cheese and an ice cream sundae. This, of course, was incomplete without the endless glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc.
Satiated, though not yet sleepy, I called on my friend Ambien to take care of the rest and was ushered into a very peaceful 10-hour sleep. I only awoke to find a steaming bowl of braised beef with won tons and Chinese broccoli. I swear when we landed I hoped that there was some sort of passport issue and I'd have to be sent back to the States, only so I could relive the experience.
Fortunately for me, the hits just kept on coming.
I'm visiting Shanghai to check out the newly reopened Peace Hotel, which has been taken over by Fairmont and has added a brand new Willow Stream Spa. (Yeah, this is one of those trips where I really, really love my job.)
The small group of journalists were met on arrival at the hotel, which sits directly on Shanghai's swanky Bund, a luxury shopper's paradise (think Cartier, Ermenegildo Zegna, etc.)
I'm staying in room #221, and my first reaction on entering was to laugh. Seriously. All I could think was "I'm a 23-year-old kid from New York....and this is a paradise fit for royalty." The room just kept going! I walked into the vestibule, off of which is a half bathroom, and immediately was awed by the Asia-meets Art Deco-Paris style. The room then opens up into a living room/office/dining area, all with wraparound windows showing off a bird's eye view of the Bund, river and futuristic Shanghai skyline.
Further into the room still I found the master bedroom, vanity/dressing area and bathroom with deep soaking tub (to be used in just a few minutes).
This is my first trip to Asia. So far so good.
Stay tuned as Travel Agent reports live from Shanghai through the weekend.
January 06, 2011
A Tour of Stonefield Estate Villa Resort & Spa in St. Lucia
ST. LUCIA – During a recent trip to St. Lucia, Travel Agent toured the 17-villa Stonefield Estate Villa Resort & Spa, a former lime and coconut plantation that was transformed into a hotel roughly five years ago.
Only 13 percent of all bookings last year were made through an agent, but the resort just started to market heavily in the U.S., which is why you may not heard of this property until now.
This is one of those “disconnect” luxury resorts where no televisions or landlines can be found in the rooms, although cell phones can be requested upon check in. The resort will be becoming a little more connected in June, however, when all the rooms become equipped with iPod docking stations, according to Ernie George, the property’s general manager.
George told us roughly 80 percent of the guests are Americans while 5-10 percent come from Canada and the rest arrive from the United Kingdom. He says most guests usually stay for seven to nine days, but shorter stays of four or five nights became more common when JetBlue Airways launched nonstop service to the island about a year ago.
The only downside here is the lack of a beach on the property. Stonefield, however, uses the very nearby beach at the Jalouise Plantation and plans to add a path from the resort to Jalouise’s beach sometime in the near future, George said. Other plans for the resort include the construction of 13 more villas within the next two years.
The best room at this resort is the Hillside Majestic Ocean View villa. There is only one of these. We saw the Hillside Ocean View room. This room, although not the top category, was pretty impressive, with views of one of the two Piton mountains right smack in front of the room.
The views from the three-bedroom villa’s outdoor plunge pool and hammock are what makes the room worth booking. There are four of these rooms at the resort and they start at roughly $650 a night. The top category is pretty similar although it has 700 square feet of extra room and a larger pool.
The modest but elegant spa, which opened in 2008, has just two treatment rooms and a salon, but most massages at the resort are done in the rooms or outdoors.
Thirty percent of all food served at the resort’s signature restaurant Mango Tree, is grown on the property. The resort also offers cooking classes once a week, beginning in February, and holds Thursday-night barbecues.
Recommend this resort to affluent honeymooners or couples in general. But for the more budget-conscious client, suggest perhaps a one- or two-night stay here followed by a three-or-four-night stay at a nearby Sandals or another more affordable all-inclusive.
Commission ranges from 15 to 20 percent based on the volume of the booking, said George.
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.
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.
November 09, 2010
World Travel Market in London: Day Three (Part Two--Hotels)
With regrets, I left the Egerton House Hotel this morning. I'll miss the place--it has a wonderfully homey vibe (probably helps that it's built from two converted townhouses) that makes it very comfortable and a nice retreat from business meetings. (I'll especially miss those fireplaces, and the amazingly multi-lingual staff. I couldn't keep track of all the languages I heard going back and forth.)
I caught a taxi over to Mayfair (and got taken for a ride in more ways than one by the cabbie...be sure to check the meter before setting off on a trip and make sure it's not already pre-set to some ridiculous rate) and dropped off my bags at the Athenaeum, which I've always wanted to see. The hotel has a green wall of living plants designed by Patrick Blanc, a French botanist, and it makes for a very striking facade. At the door, I was met by Jim Burns, the hotel's wonderfully outgoing and informative doorman and greeter, who remembered my name when I returned in the evening and offered a very friendly "Welcome home!" Sweet.
I'm staying in one of the hotel's suites on the top floor, which has views over Green Park (the sun was setting when I got in, so no pictures yet), and a four-poster bed with post-modern plastic posts. The room is very spacious (lots of chairs--good for casual entertaining), and has nice perks like free drinks (of the non-alcoholic variety, alas) from the mini-bar and a walk-in closet that can double as a changing room. The bathroom is very large and has two sinks (great for couples getting ready in a rush).
Even better: The hotel's spa has just reopened after some renovations. On the downside, I won't have time to use it. Woe.
Tomorrow: Puttin' on The Ritz!
By: Jena Tesse Fox