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Barcelona

November 7, 2008 By: Mary Winston Nicklin Travel Agent
 

Here's the 411 on where to stay


There is perhaps no better vantage point to experience Barcelona’s remarkable setting than the Gran Hotel La Florida. Perched 1,640 feet above the city, this urban resort commands a luminous view of the Mediterranean lapping at the edges of the sparkling city. Indeed, the hotel’s founder sought out the most outstanding location in Barcelona for La Florida when he opened it in 1925 on Tibidabo Mountain. Renovations made in 2001 have ensured that the hotel’s amenities are firmly in line with the times; your clients will find a harmonious balance between traditional and contemporary, past and present. A painstaking four-year redesign—overseen by noted interior designer Dale Keller and his wife, Patricia—exalted the 70-room hotel as a haven for art and design in a city famous for its artistry. Contemporary sculpture graces the property, and a wall of high-tech visual effects creates a dramatic backdrop for the pool area.

In fact, internationally acclaimed artists designed eight of the 20 suites. These “design suites” include the Presidential Suite (which can be divided into the Tibidabo and Miramar Suites), the Japanese Suite, the two Sky Terrace Suites, the two Tower Suites and the Penthouse Loft. For unparalleled views, book the Sky Terrace Suite (#601) where your clients can gape at the Pyrenees from the sun beds on the terrace. The 528-square-foot suite also has a Jacuzzi, dining area and green marble bathroom with a Philippe Starck tub. Rooms #202 and #208 have similarly spectacular panoramas. The Terrace Rooms are the most popular room category, outfitted with outdoor tables and sun beds on private terraces. All guest rooms feature plush down comforters, large plasma-screen TVs, minibars, free high-speed Internet and oversized marble bathrooms with in-floor heating and L’Occitane amenities. In-room bath menus are available.

Agent Advice

Carol Cornell, a travel specialist with Covington Travel Inc. in Fort Wayne, IN for 26 years, has been recognized for her shopping tours and her expertise on Western Europe. Named a top Condé Nast Traveler specialist for nine years (Shopping) and a Travel + Leisure specialist for eight years (Ireland and Western Europe), Carol also serves on the Travel Advisory Board for Bon Appetit magazine. “Not only is Barcelona a major cruise-ship stop, but it is also a destination all its own,” Carol says. “I like Hotel Arts Barcelona, the Hotel Majestic and Claris Hotel—all five-star properties with excellent locations. The restaurant Stella in the Claris Hotel is amazing. I also like Can Culleretes, which is the oldest restaurant in Barcelona, and Tapas Bar (that’s it’s official name).” For shopping, Carol cautions clients that Las Ramblas tends to be touristy. “There are still some nice shops, but stay in the northern section. For antiques and silver I recommend Carrer de la Palla near the cathedral. El Corte Ingles, the department store of Spain, is another good bet.” Carol also advises clients not to miss a flamenco show and the city’s fabulous Gaudi architecture.

General Manager Monica Homedes ([email protected], 011-34-93-259-3000) leads a stellar team devoted to personalized service. All front desk agents act as concierge staff, arranging dinner reservations, personalized city tours, helicopter flights and Ferrari driving experiences (Guests are in good hands; the staff has pampered A-listers like Lenny Kravitz, Harrison Ford, Mariah Carey and Shakira). Your clients can take advantage of the complimentary minivan shuttle service to the city center, but if they wish to relax at the hotel, they’ll enjoy the 24-hour fitness center, stainless steel swimming pool and luxurious ZenZone Spa with exclusive treatments from Natura Bissé. Reserve a Diamond Experience facial or Lomi Juma massage by contacting Spa Manager Claudia Gibert. Also recommend a meal on the outdoor terrace at L’Orangerie, where Catalan signature dishes (like monkfish cooked in rum) will tantalize their palates.

Another exceptional spot to soak up the Mediterranean lifestyle of Modernist Barcelona is the Hotel Majestic, also known as the Majestic Hotel & Spa—the landmark on Paseo de Gracia, where celebrities and dignitaries have mingled since 1918. Smack in the middle of it all, the hotel is within walking distance to Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter and Gaudi’s architectural monuments. Managed by Jean Louis Dulau ([email protected], 011-34-93-488-1717), Hotel Majestic is part of the Preferred Hotels Group. The penthouse—with a whopping 984 square feet of space—arguably offers the most glorious accommodations in Barcelona. Composed of the “Apartment Paseo de Gracia” (#901) and the “Suite Sagrada Familia” (#902), the penthouse is loaded with every possible amenity (like Chopard bath products, Bang & Olufsen music systems and daily Champagne and canapés). Each suite has a private terrace overlooking their namesake city symbols; your clients can ogle Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral, Sagrada Familia, from an outdoor private Jacuzzi (The Majestic’s rooftop pool and solarium also boasts sweeping city views). Your VIPs will appreciate the private check-in and 24-hour service. To make special arrangements for your VIPs (like a private chef’s dinners in the hotel’s Michelin-starred Drolma Restaurant), contact the VIP guest relations department ([email protected], [email protected]).

For a memorable boutique hotel experience, book the Neri Hotel & Restaurante. The general manager is Anna Albuixech ([email protected], 011-34-93-304-0655). Housed in an 18th-century palace in the heart of the Gothic Quarter overlooking St. Felip Neri Square, the Hotel Neri offers 22 guest rooms in four room categories: Neri (standard), Deluxe, Junior Suite and Suite. The chic interiors, marked by the colorful art panels hanging above each bed, contrast with the building’s historic façade. Choose a third-floor suite for the most space; Junior Suites #303, #304 and #305 have small balconies. The light-filled Junior Suite #107 is popular for its high ceilings and tall windows. All bathrooms are lined in quartzite, a stone thought to have beneficial health properties, and fitted with infrared lights.

At the hotel’s entrance, your clients will find bikes and Segways available to explore the charming alleys of the city’s oldest neighborhood. They will also enjoy lounging in the library, noshing on avant-garde Mediterranean cuisine at the Neri Restaurant and sunbathing on the leafy rooftop terrace, designed to adhere to feng shui philosophy. Fans of Woody Allen’s latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona, will be delighted to know that the cast stayed at the Hotel Neri.


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