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
June 01, 2009
Visit to the Kohala Spa
True confession time: I’ve never actually been to a spa before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect for my appointment at the 25,000-square-foot Kohala Spa at the Waikoloa Beach Resort. I’d been encouraged to show up at least a half-hour earlier than my appointed time, so I checked in extra early and was escorted into the private women's locker room with its own steam room, sauna, outdoor garden Jacuzzi and lounge area.
The Kohala Spa
Since I’d spent the entire morning in water, I wasn’t too eager to soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi, although the group members who tried it sang its praises. Instead, I stepped into the steam room, hitting a button on the doorway as I entered. A large stone cauldron in the middle of the room began billowing lightly scented steam, and I leaned back and closed my eyes, breathing in deeply. When I opened my eyes again a few moments later, the entire room had become shrouded in mist. I could barely see a foot in front of my face. It was eerie and soothing at the same time, and the sounds of condensed steam dripping from the ceiling, the warmth, the enveloping mist, and the scent all combined for a wonderfully relaxing experience.
After enjoying the steam room for a while, and enjoying some fresh air by the Jacuzzi, I was taken to a private room by massage therapist Tonia Thomas, a specialist in Lomi Lomi massages, the spa’s most popular treatment. Using constant motion and gentle pressure, Tonia worked out a bunch of this perpetually tense New Yorker’s tight muscles, relaxing me to the point of nearly falling asleep. (I also have to praise her deft avoidance of my sunburn, which couldn’t have been easy.) Tonia has studied numerous massage techniques around the country, and is also an expert in sports massage and the spa's Kohala massage. (Although I promised not to reveal names, Tonia demurely acknowledged that she has treated celebrities and earned very favorable feedback from them.)
Feeling very chill and relaxed after the massage, I went
back to the steam
room to breathe in some more of that wonderful mist before rinsing off
five-head shower. Before returning to my room, I chatted with Michele
the director of Kohala Spa. The Lomi Lomi massage, she told me, is a
Hawaiian tradition taught by elders. Among the spa's more popular
offerings are mother/daughter treatments that, she says, encourage
bonding and teach the next generation to enjoy the spa experience. The
enormous facility has more 23 treatment rooms (three are for couples)
and employs a staff of between 50 and 55 among the spa, the cardio
room, weight room, yoga room and other areas. Wilkin said that no one
therapist was more requested than any of the others, but from my own
experience, I highly recommend Tonia Thomas.
By: Jena Tesse Fox
January 19, 2009
Grand Isle Resort & Spa Opens Spa
Although there has been no official announcement as of yet, Travel Agent learned that Grand Isle Resort & Spa in Great Exuma, the Bahamas finally opened its much-anticipated spa on December 20. The new Sea Star Spa will not be officially announced until February 1, at which time opening packages will be offered, Guy Miller, director of sales and marketing, told Travel Agent during the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Marketplace in St. Lucia.
The spa will feature four treatment rooms including one couples-only room. In addition, the spa will feature a separate room for manicures, pedicures and other such treatments.
By: Joe Pike
January 14, 2009
On Location: Steve Wynn’s Encore Opens in High Style
Last month saw the opening of Encore, the twin to Steve Wynn’s flagship Wynn Las Vegas. A quick look from a distance and it's clear the two resorts are related, both brandish trim golden facades. And while guests at one resort are encouraged to sample the delights at the neighboring property, the $2.3 billion Encore strives and achieves a more boutique hotel experience than Wynn Las Vegas.
Steve Wynn is on record as describing Encore as being about intimacy. “The casino is smaller and feels more exclusive and is meant to echo the notion of a casino in Monaco,” he said. “The rooms are suites and they’re warm and cozy and inviting.”
I was invited to visit Encore this week and I found that passing from one resort to the other was virtually seamless, making it easy to shop, dine or attend a show at the Wynn while staying at Encore.
Encore’s 2,034 suites offer views from two-story glass windows, advanced technologies and Wynn Dream Beds. Each Resort Suite spans more than 700 square feet and the Tower Suites measure up to 5,800 square feet.
During my visit, I was encouraged to experience the hotel as a guest might. I stayed in one of the Tower Suites on the 28th floor. I had a great view of Wynn Las Vegas, The Strip and the mountains. Maybe it’s just Vegas, but I enjoy a Vegas hotel room even more after the sun goes down— the well-designed lighting in my suite created an intimate atmosphere.
The room has a huge flat-screen TV that swivels so it can be viewed from either the bed or living room. The décor blends warm earth tones with stark black, and also presents contrasting textures of lacquered ebony and hounds-tooth wall covering. To me, it was a very masculine design concept that was softened by the open and airy interior, by the excellent artwork (three Matisse lithographs in my room) and an L-shaped couch that screams “Leisure” instead of “Let’s get some work done.”
Many are wondering just how well the new resort will do given Sin City’s current slump in visitor arrivals. “We opened during Vegas’ busiest period,” says Rob Oseland, chief operating officer, Encore Wynn Las Vegas. “After the holidays, Vegas goes into a slow period, but we’re currently 95 percent occupied.” Oseland told me that he’s been part of the opening team at five Wynn properties and that Encore’s opening was the smoothest of all of them.
A few hours before meeting Oseland, I’d read a survey predicting further downturns for Vegas. I asked Rob where Encore expected to pull guests. “The international market has shown growth,” he said. “At Encore we’re also seeing a cannibalization of the domestic market— Encore is drawing guests from other casinos, including Wynn.”
The resort has five restaurants, each sporting a different look and cuisine. I had dinner at Wazuzu, which serves Pan-Asian cuisine— everything from sushi to dim sum to Thai-style roti panang. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a glittering crystal dragon stretching across one wall, composed of 90,000 crystals. The restaurant has a variety of tables, from intimate seating for two to a corner booth seating 10. I had an excellent meal of crispy fish with thai herbs, accompanied by a green apple mango yum salad and a cocktail that seemed suitable for the occasio— a Lychee mojito made with Kai Lychee Vodka and freshly muddled mint.
Rounding out Encore’s restaurant offerings are Botero, known for its steaks; Sinatra, where diners are served Italian cuisine, surrounded by Sinatra memorabilia and serenaded by Ol’ Blue Eyes and his contemporaries on the sound system; and Switch, which is taking Vegas by storm because of it’s unique feature— on the half-hour the lighting, walls and ceiling change to create a totally different atmosphere for diners (four sets of changes in all).
I had breakfast at Society, a very elegant and upscale setting— night and day from the typical Vegas buffet experience. Great coffee, ample space between the tables, a menu that has classics like eggs benedict as well as trendy offerings like mango smoothies with a scoop of protein powder. The Wynn signature floral displays and draperies soften the black, white and red décor. Society serves meals throughout the day, but I have a feeling it really shines in the morning.
Other highlights at Encore include 11 retail outlets, seven bars and lounges, XS nightclub, an atrium, and a European-inspired pool area (read topless). Encore also houses 60,000 square feet of event space. During my visit, I was offered both a spa and a salon treatment— an offer hard to pass up. The 61,000-square-foot spa has 37 treatment rooms, including four couples suites. You’ll find a full range of treatments and therapies, from massage to hydrotherapy. The signature treatment is the 80-minute Good Luck Ritual Massage, which is based upon the five elements of feng shui— health, wealth, prosperity, happiness and harmony. The spa is a great resource to alleviate some of the stress your clients might encounter at the gaming tables, or the indulgences at Encore’s restaurants and nightclub. Spa appointments for VIP clients and groups can be made in advance of arrival by contacting Shannon Collins, Encore’s VIP/group coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org, 702-770-4455).
Take a closer look at Wynn's Encore in the slide show below:
October 27, 2008
Resorts World at Sentosa
When attendees gathered at last week’s ITB Asia in Singapore, there was a pair of integrated resort projects that came up in conversation time and again— one was Marina Bay Sands and the other was Resorts World at Sentosa. Singapore’s Sentosa Island is only minutes away from the city and is seamlessly accessed via a causeway. The new Resorts World Sentosa project will cover 49 hectares of the 500 hectare CONVERT Sentosa Island. When it opens in early 2010, Resorts World at Sentosa will dominate Singapore’s leisure offerings, and will be especially appealing for families, offering a combination of theme parks, hotels, casino gaming, a spa and an assortment of shops and dining venues.
An artist's rendering of Resorts World at Sentosa
“Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World at Sentosa are both integrated resorts,” said Robin Goh, assistant vice president of communications, Resorts World at Sentosa. “The difference between them is Marina Bay Sands is a MICE hotel while Resorts World at Sentosa is a family destination and attraction that is without parallel in this part of the world.”
Half of Resorts World at Sentosa will be taken up by Universal Studios Singapore, which will have 24 rides and attractions, with 18 of these being either brand new or newly designed for Singapore. The big news is the Transformers attraction, which is debuting at Universals Studio Singapore.
The resort will also have Marine Life Park, the largest oceanarium in the world, according to Goh. The park will have 700,000 marine creatures and 20 million gallons of water. There will also be a “wet experience” feature which allows guest to have an up-close experience feeding tiger sharks.
“We’re a casino resort with family attractions,” said Goh. “Our goal is 15 million visitors in the first year— 8 to 9 million of these will be tourists.”
The resort will have six hotels with a combined room count of 1,800 rooms and suites.
The two major hotels are Hotel Michael, which is designed by celebrated architect Michael Graves, and Maxims Residences, where the resort’s casino will be located. Both hotels will be very high-end. Rounding out the hotel offerings are the Equarius Hotel, a good recommendation for nature lovers, the Festive Hotel, a good match for families, and ESPA Villas, where the resort’s spa will be located.
An artist's rendering of Hotel Michael and Maxim's Residences at Resort World at Sentosa
“Resorts World at Sentosa is not a phased opening, although the spa villas and Equarius will probably open for business three months after the official opening,” said Goh.
The casino will be one of two legalized casinos in Singapore. A government bill was passed that requires Singapore citizens to pay $100 to enter the casinos, a bid to discourage problem gambling among locals. “It may sound Draconian, but it’s a safeguard,” said Goh.
Additional attractions at the resort include the interactive maritime Xperiential Museum, which chronicles the history of the maritime Silk Route; ESPA, a destination spa and wellness retreat that will be the first ESPA destination spa on its own and not part of a hotel; the Festive Walk, a promenade lined with shops and restaurants; and La Vie— the Magic of Life, a theatrical production created by Mark Fisher (stage designer of the Las Vegas production "Ka") that can only be seen at Resorts World at Sentosa and the Equarius Water Park.
The resort can host 35,000 delegates for meetings at any one time, and 7,300 can be seated in the largest ballroom. Since 20 percent of business travelers bring their families with them to Singapore, the new resort should have tremendous appeal.
October 21, 2008
First Impressions of The St. Regis Singapore
Senior Editor Mark Rogers is reporting from ITB Asia in Singapore, and gives his first impressions of The St. Regis Singapore.
I arrived a day early in Singapore to attend ITB Asia, which is billed as the largest trade show in Asia. The time would be well spent, since I was invited to tour the relatively new The St. Regis Singapore. The hotel had a soft opening in late December of last year and officially opened on April 20. Open a scant six months; it's receiving the kinds of awards it usually takes years for a hotel to acquire.
Although The St. Regis Singapore doesn't officially have an Orchard Road address— the hotel is situated on Tanglin Road, which turns into Orchard Road— it has a superb location in the heart of Singapore, with rooms overlooking Singapore's Botanical Gardens.
Wilson Associates created the St. Regis Singapore's interior design. In a world where hotels seem to be trying to outdo themselves in embracing a Zen-like spareness in their interiors (especially their rooms) The St. Regis Singapore takes a different approach— one that utilizes color, opulence, museum-quality art and attention to detail to create an upscale homey feeling. When I say museum quality, I'm talking about renowned artists such as Marc Chagall, Fernando Botero and Frank Gehry— in fact, the Presidential Suite even has a bright and splashy Sam Francis painting hanging in the bathroom.
The hotel has three restaurants, LaBrezza, a terrace restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine; Yan Ting Chinese, the hotel's fine dining restaurant, serving Cantonese cuisine, and Brasserie les Saveurs, a light and airy French restaurant looking out over the pool.
I had a great lunch at Brasserie les Saveurs with Wong Wye Leng, the hotel's director of marketing. Over seared scallops and spicy tomato soup, she told me that tables can be reserved in advance at Brasserie les Saveurs. If your clients would like unobstructed views of the pool, fountains and sculpture (including a really charming sculpture by Li Chen of a baby Buddha cavorting on his back) suggest they reserve tables one through 14. If they'd like an intimate table, reserve one of the alcove tables, 88 or 89.
"The brand wasn't well-known in this part of the world, so it was a real challenge to raise brand awareness," says Wye Leng.
The hotel has 299 rooms. Keep in mind that if you're requesting rooms with poolside views, rooms on the lower floors have the best view. The opposite is true for rooms facing the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Tang Lin Road side, where the best views are achieved the higher you go. I was impressed by the Executive Deluxe Rooms, which are essentially the standard rooms at the hotel. There was lots of color in the décor, Jim Thompson silks were utilized throughout, and the bathroom had an abundance of marble.
I was also invited to experience the hotel's Remede Spa, the first in the Asia-Pacific region. This was really appreciated after spending 20 hours flying into Singapore from L.A. The spa manager is Femme Findlay; advance reservations can be made by contacting her at (email@example.com, 65 6506 6788).
Femme told me that all the spa's treatments could be customized. She'd booked one of the spa's signature treatments for me, the Warm Stone Jade Massage. I'd experienced hot stone massages before in Latin America but this was definitely a notch above. The jade stones were ultra smooth and, instead of utilizing only hot stones, the session ended with a series of cold stones applied to various energy centers of the body.
An outstanding massage therapist can ascend to being a healer; my jade stone therapist Mon is in that category. I can definitely recommend her to your clients— I was assured that Mon's first name was sufficient to make a booking. Also, advise your clients to come at least an hour early so they can enjoy a variety of features that complement each other: the Finnish Sauna, Ice Fountain and Eucalyptus Scented Steam Chambers. First you start with the dry heat, and then move to the bracing ice fountain, where you're actually rubbing crushed ice over your body. You finish in the steam chamber. It's a great prelude to a massage treatment.
A detail worth noting: the hotel has the only ballroom with skylights in Singapore, banishing that dreaded claustrophobic feeling that can afflict huge functions (the ballroom seats 450.
The General Manager is Yngvar Stray (65 6506 6888).
Travel agents can reach out Ashley Hanson, the hotel's director of sales & marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 65 6506 6718.
October 16, 2008
Campeche Eyes Fairmont, Westin
Earlier in the year, we told you about the unknown Mexico destination of Merida and now we’re giving you heads up on a destination about two hours away, Campeche. The destination, like Merida, offers access to many of Mexico’s greatest archaeological sites, eco-travel opportunities and beautiful beaches. The one attribute it has lacked, however, was major resort developments— until now. The first part of the three-phase Campeche Playa Golf, Marina, Spa & Resort is expected to be completed within the first three months of 2009. That phase will include the completion of a 500-room hotel.
More importantly, the project has created a buzz from some big-name hotel players such as Fairmont and Westin,
according to a source close to Campeche tourism. Our source told us the
destination is in discussions with both companies but talks are still
in the preliminary phase. We’ll bring you the confirmed news as soon as
we get it. The destination's official website, www.campeche.travel, is in Spanish but agents can also check out www.campeche.ca for information in English.
By: Joe Pike
October 14, 2008
The profession of travel writing affords many benefits. None more special than seeing the world and interviewing noteworthy subjects. My latest trip to the Southwest would satisfy both. My first stop was to Las Vegas and Palms Place, the newest luxury addition to the Palms Casino Resort. There, I’d have the opportunity to meet and speak with George Maloof, Jr., owner of The Palms, and a man who I had already gotten to know through—of all mediums—TV. Yes, I’d be breaking bread with the guy who partied with Hugh Hefner and, who, famously is seen in the shot of Pamela Anderson running up to The Hef in his eponymous sky villa at The Palms, dressed in nothing more than her birthday suit on the E! Network reality series, "Girls Next Door." Maloof had the foresight to combine his hotel venture with pop culture. It’s paid off in dividends.
Sadly, my anticipated tête-à-tête was never to materialize due to a logistical snafu. Not to worry, that’s why Bell created the phone. Regardless, I still stayed a night at one of the hottest resorts in Las Vegas. The Palms really gets it right: the perfect mix of nightlife, food and accommodations. Of course, entertainment is its calling card with the likes of Ghostbar, Moon, Rain and The Playboy Club all catering to a variety of tastes and people. Now, Maloof has added Palms Place, which is a more upscale sibling to The Palms Casino Resort, offering sleek chic accommodations with amenities to match. All studios, one-bedroom suites and penthouses have something you won’t find at most Vegas hotels: hardwood floors and balconies.
Moon at The Palms
I’d be remiss if I didn’t recount my visits to two of the cooler suites at The Palms—the Hardwood Suite and Hugh Hefner Sky Villa. I am a huge basketball fan, and the Hardwood Suite is a basketball fan’s dream come true. Sure, it’s $25,000 per night, but where else are you going to find a room with a hardwood basketball court? Other cool touches include beds that are fit for those over 6-feet tall (yes, Shaquille O’Neal has stayed a night) and an actual locker room, albeit luxurious, unlike the one you used in high school.
Next, I checked out the granddaddy of them all: the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa. It was like walking onto hallowed ground. Ah, if these walls could talk. Well, at least we have the E! Network to give us a glimpse at what goes on in a suite that commands $40,000 per night. The cantilevered hot tub overlooking The Strip is particularly incredible.
All good things must come to an end. Luckily, my trip had just begun. Next up, Encantado, an Auberge Resort, in Santa Fe, NM. You don’t meet too many people who have visited New Mexico (or maybe I just don’t), but the feeling is something different, especially for someone living in New York—that’d be me. The hour-long drive from Albuquerque is a lovely primer—Santa Fe is 7,000 feet above sea level, so it feels that you are almost parallel with the clouds.
The resort itself would be tough to find if not for a sign. It sits back in the foothills of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. To say the view is otherwordly does not give it justice. The resort is as elegant as its surroundings with 65 casitas featuring outdoor patio areas and kiva fireplaces inside. Each casita has unsurpassed amenities and cool touches like heated bathroom floors.
Dining and spa take center stage. The Terra restaurant under the direction of Chef Charles Dale serves up regional fare: on the opening night, I ate a steak about the size of my head. The Spa at Encantado is a slice of heaven with 15 treatment rooms and suites, along with special areas for both men and women. Nothing is more invigorating than taking a plunge in the outdoor hot tub, then making a dash into the eucalyptus infused steam room. The property has only been open for a little more than two months and Robert Redford has stayed twice. Need I say more?
By: David Eisen
September 27, 2008
Onboard the Celebrity Solstice
Senior Contributing Editor Susan Young has traveled to Germany to board the brand new Celebrity Solstice cruise ship.
Our impressions? We would describe the 2,850-passenger ship— not yet finished and not yet delivered to the line— as incredibly elegant and classy, much more so than other new ships we've seen of late. Simply put, the design "shines" and the public areas are extremely spacious. Among the highlights is a 23,000-square-foot, top-deck Lawn Club, consisting of a specialized type of live grass and several soaring white canvas coverings; the area will be used for golf putting, picnics in the park and bocce ball.
Multiple alternative restaurants range from Asian to a steakhouse with an Italian flair. We dined in the casual Oceanview Cafe & Bar, featuring food islands separated by plenty of space for good guest flow during peak periods.
An elegant stunner is the Grand Epernay Dining Room, a dramatic two-story space with a massive glass wine tower as well as dramatic and elegant ceiling art. We also particularly liked everything to do with the spa— with its cool and pleasing blue-and-white color scheme including glass touches.
The ship also features new AquaClass staterooms; guests in those specialty accommodations have their own dedicated, intimate dining venue aptly called Blu. Our standard balcony stateroom was larger than the typical Celebrity staterooms on the line's other ships; the bathroom really was a star— with a large shower (by cruise ship standards) and an attractive vanity with several small drawers and glass-enclosed shelving.
For more on our impressions of the new Celebrity Solstice, stay tuned for the October 13 issue of the magazine.
By: Susan Young
August 27, 2008
MS Europa: Day 2 at Sea
Travel Agent’s Dave Eisen is sailing aboard the MS Europa this week. This is his second report.
Forgive me if you have logged on hoping to read all about Tallinn, Estonia. In my haste, I forgot that day two of the itinerary is at sea, followed by Tallinn on Wednesday. Perfect: It allows me the opportunity to give you my first impressions of MS Europa, the luxury cruise ship, recognized as one of the most elegant and luxurious ships plying the seas today. That is without question. What is debatable is whether it’s the right ship for affluent American cruisers. Let’s debate.
First the pros, of which there are many. The ship itself is a study of superior class and luxury: flawless service, five-star cuisine, spacious and luxurious accommodations and top-of-the-line design with amenities to match. I can’t think that any other luxury ship does it better.
First, service. From the time you step aboard, personnel are there to cater to your every whim, whether it is your favorite drink served in a proper glass, a warm blanket while passing time by the pool or anticipating your want of an afternoon snack (waffles, yes waffles, are served poolside). The service is seamless from the chambermaids to the dining room staff.
And dining is where MS Europa really shines. On Deck 4, three restaurants are positioned next to one another: the larger main dining room and two smaller specialty restaurants, one serving Asian cuisine, the other Italian. Interestingly, unlike some other ships, the specialty restaurants do not carry an extra charge. If they charged $50 a head, I’d still recommend them, at least the Asian restaurant, where I dined Tuesday night.
A small menu sample: spring roll with Siberian caviar, swordfish sashimi, spiny lobster medallions, chili-marinated beef Paillard. It being our first evening, we were also allowed to choose items off the main dining room menu. Yes, please! How about the Siberian caviar served in a silver bowl with all the traditional garnishes? The kicker: a chilled glass of Russian vodka to complete the dish. And on it went: veal carpaccio and crispy chantarelles ravioli, fried foie gras on polenta and (my favorite) grilled lobster. When I say I’ve never had better food on a cruise or otherwise, it’s no exaggeration.
After dinner, the action moves updeck to the lovely Sansibar, which overlooks the water. What a watering hole. Its elegance is simple, with a lovely center bar and red leather booths. Again the service there is impeccable and drinks are always poured into the correct glass with (go figure?) actual ice chunks. We’re not talking about the shoddy ice most regular bars adhere to. This is the high life we are talking about.
Our accommodations are, of course, in line with the rest of the ship. I’ve never seen a bathroom in a regular stateroom that is so large and well appointed. There is a deep soaking tub along with a stand-up shower that is enclosed by a glass shower door (plastic shower curtains and shower rods need not apply).
The room itself is also well put together, with a spacious veranda and comfortable beds. It would be nice if the entertainment system included a DVD player, but the TV does offer CNN, pre-loaded movies and the ability to send and receive e-mails at no cost.
Here’s my only concern. Is this a ship for North Americans? Understand that close to 100 percent of the guests are German. Lovely as they are, it makes it difficult for an American, such as myself, to feel truly comfortable. Much of the staff does know English, but there still is that disconnect. Most, if not all, of the announcements are in German, though daily literature is also in English.
It really boils down to a different vibe. It’s a cruise, yes, but a German cruise. My masseuse, Doris, who gives the best deep-tissue massages this side of the ocean, said I was the first American she had ever plied her trade on. Fine, but it goes to show you that MS Europa has yet to tap the English-speaking market. It is too bad because avid cruisers are missing one of the best luxury ships around.
If your clients enjoy surrounding themselves in a foreign environment, I would recommend they try MS Europa. As I have stated, the ship’s presentation is flawless. Note: This is not a ship for young couples, though I did see a couple of families onboard.
However, if after you qualify your clients and they remark that they’d rather cruise where they aren’t the minority, MS Europa could be a tough sell. Hapag-Lloyd is trying to market a bit more to North Americans and I hope they succeed, as this is not a ship to miss out on.
It’s small (about 400 passengers) and is very serene and peaceful. If clients are looking for loads of entertainment and activities, MS Europa is not the ship. Remember, there is no casino. That said, luxury doesn’t get any better than this. Now excuse me while I polish off this Belgian waffle.
Tomorrow, Tallinn. I promise!
Read about Dave Eisen's visit to Copenhagen on Day 1 of his trip.
By: David Eisen