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By MARY GOSTELOW | December 6 2012
Cannes, France – Reported by Mary Gostelow for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
Oh what a party last night. The annual ILTM soirée, for 3,000 or more, is one Cannes’s annual highlights. Yes, the Martinez has bigger events, like 4,500 for the MIPIM opening party, but real estate investors are boring compared to hoteliers, though MIPIM drinks more (in four days, the Martinez, says GM Richard Schilling, sells 25 percent of its entire yearlong beverage sales, but after a multimillion sale why not splash out on a couple of €2,000 bottles?). Last night, though, was fun, with its cabaret and The Blush Asian girls’ band, a Taittinger pyramid and over 700 bottles of bubbly, give or take. Last night it was taking, like tasting food, 5,000 meat skewers, 28 kg of veal, 20 kg of cheese, 100 kg of fish, 80 kg of shrimps and 3,500 oysters… but by sunrise today, in typical Schilling style, the lobby was back to normal, apart from its gigantic Christmas tree, white this year. Oh gosh, after all this gallivanting, if only there were time to visit the Martinez’s L.Raphael spa (as Schilling says, get the right brand and a spa turns overnight from Big Loss to Unbelievable Profit) • If you want more champagne, however, the show’s Champagne Bar is back, up on the third floor – who was it, back in 1659, who first said all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?
Anyway, following yesterday’s prediction that luxury standards are soaring the whole time, when LMVH purchased Bulgari one of Bernard Arnault’s messages to Bulgari’s hotel division was to take standards even higher. What will Bulgari conceptor Silvio Ursini do with the next hotel, opening in the Suzhou Creek area of Shanghai in 2015? Well, the 120-room Bulgari Shanghai will be on floors 28 up of a 40-floor Foster-designed tower, one of three with the 1900s China Chamber of Commerce building at their base. This will house a Chinese restaurant and a Bulgari Club, and the brand’s signature Italian restaurant will be high in the new towers. Ursini confirms that the original idea for Bulgari hotels was his, as a way of entertaining Bulgari stores’ best customers, and this is indeed happening – Bulgari London gets many reservations made direct by Bulgari store managers in the Far East, sometimes booking in top spenders at their, the stores’, expense. Now Ursini wants Beijing, and Beverly Hills and New York, Paris and Rome. Interestingly, he would love to be an artist, or to spend more time on charity work. He has established a partnership between Bulgari, the retail, and Save the Children. Sales of a silver ring have added $20 million to the fund and Ursini gets tremendous satisfaction from visiting projects, say fully funded schools in São Paulo’s favelas • Luxury hotels are increasingly into sustainability and charity. Firmdale’s first American hotel, Crosby Street, has chickens on its roof – will the second New York hotel be equally adventurous? • In London, Andaz Liverpool Street works closely with Providence Row, which feeds the homeless in that bankers’ hideout, the City area. For the next few weeks, a real 1950s-type jukebox enlivens the hotel’s lobby, and every coin put in goes to the good cause. How did they come up with such a unique idea?
Rarity is so precious, says Oetker Collection CEO Frank Marrenbach. He never wants a mass of hotels; his owners, the mighty Oetker food conglomerate which employs 20,000 total and sees annual sales of €10 billion, are happy for a collection of exquisite individual properties. This year the Collection opened Palais Namaskar in Marrakech, and taken over management of Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, where the latest must-stay beach villa, with three bedrooms, is really popular with our Russian friends. Marrenbach also announces that 11.12.13 will see the opening of L’Apogée Courchevel, on the edge of Jardin Paris, with a private ski lift to provide ski-in, ski-out. Expect a total of 55 rooms and suites, designed by Joseph Dirand and India Mahdavi (who did The Connaught in London), a five-room spa and screening room, a 1,000-square-foot kids’ club, and food overseen by Michelin two-star chef Yannick Franques. Being winter-only, the staff will come from the Oetker Collection’s summer-only properties – Philippe Perd, who currently runs Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc as well as the Château Saint-Martin & Spa on the Riviera, both of which are summer-only, will also oversee L’Apogée Courchevel. It is worth noting, by the way, that the general perception that Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc only accepts cash is now no more, Perd and his cashiers will take any credit card you like… Funnily enough Frank Marrenbach could well have become a glorified cashier. When he was 18, he was guided by his father towards banking or hotels. He was at an ATM machine and found it so impersonal, he opted straightaway for hotels and he has never looked back • How do leaders find their passionate niche? Alex Chambers, who started Hummingbird, with his brother Tom in 1999 as an extension of the air transfer service their father had set up, is thrilled that the company is now DMC and wholesaler for the entire Indian Ocean. Hummingbird is, he says, adding an online booking system from early next year. It already offers VIP service at Malé International Airport, which is much appreciated after long flights – there is direct access to and from the VIP lounge and staff organizes baggage and immigration/emigration.
Since Luis Fernandes is now COO of Longevity Wellness Worldwide, we are all expecting him to rush round the show like an excited two-year old. What is new, Luis? Anti-aging ozone-therapy treatment, he says breathlessly. Pair this with revitalizing spa experiences and healthy dining, and luxury weight-loss retreats, and this Portugal-based offering should have many followers • Perhaps Las Ventanas al Paraiso’s new raw bar, La Marisqueria, will encourage the weight-loss and longevity crowd? This is the resort, by the way, that dares to have its spa reception outside, in the beautiful elements that are year-round in Los Cabos • Seafood is certainly in. MEGU, the cult Japanese restaurant started by Masahiro Origuchi, now has branches in Moscow, at the Hotel Lotte, and Delhi, in Capt Nair’s latest hotel, the splendid Leela Palace Delhi in the Chankyapuri diplomatic area – this is the hotel that recently hosted, so brilliantly, the global convention of The Preferred Group, hosted by John and Gail Ueberroth and their equally vivacious daughter Lindsey, company president • More seafood. Mandarin Oriental Tokyo dared to turn part of its gym into an eight-seat sushi bar, leading right off the main lobby – and it works. Also in Tokyo, Park Hyatt Tokyo’s sushi chefs were included in Nicholas Coleridge’s imagined “perfect hotel,” as was the chef at 45 Park Lane, London, paired with servers and reception at Chewton Glen, the English country house hotel where the divine Linda Meredith’s facials attract A-listers from far and wide (no problem, if southern Spain is more handy, you can head to her studio there, at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona).
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania officially opened its doors on Monday – it was originally Kempinski’s Bilila Lodge. It still has exciting elevated boardwalk routes between the 77 thatched rooms, many overlooking a highly active waterhole. GM Jim Kostecky, a Four Seasons veteran and a keen photographer, can suggest best viewing places, although during the annual animal migrations there will be no shortage of wildlife. For a special treat, take a Serengeti Balloon Safari • Further south, Thanda Private Game Reserve, in Kwazulu-Natal, has been running Facebook-backed endangered rhino programs, with donations to Project Rhino KZN (the 29-room lodge has an ongoing Bucks & Bugs Club to teach kids about the natural world) • The deep-fried tangerine-sized black spiders that are uniquely a specialty at roadside stands between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have long intrigued many visitors to Cambodia. Aqua Expeditions’ CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro, whose Aqua Mekong river cruiser starts taking bookings February 2013 for its first cruise, January 2014, promises that you can see them (and try, if you must). Since Angkor is the Machu Picchu of Southeast Asia, says Galli, now you will be able to make a Cambodian trip even more eventful. Temples, an all-inclusive luxury cruise of three, four or seven days – and one visit to try the spiders. Aqua Mekong will have 20 identical suites, each 310 square feet, with all-wall windows and terraces: The designer is Noor, out of Ho Chi Minh City, interestingly set up by former political scientist-cum-lawyer Luc Lejeune who first came to Vietnam in 1991 with the UN. Galli says he is still deciding his big name onboard chef (he is weighing up a Cambodian versus a Vietnamese) but, judging by the acclaim given to Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s cuisine on board his two Amazon river cruises, Aqua and Aria, the standards will be high. Fortunately you will find a swimming pool on the boat’s top deck, and there is a spa and fitness center, and ten bicycles are carried • One of the many benefits of river, as opposed to sea, cruising is that ships can indeed carry bicycles so that, at times, you can pedal along, keeping pace with your vessel – though does AmaWaterways include bikes on its African itineraries? Its cruises now include a 19-day Golden Trails of Africa tour, Nairobi to Victoria Falls. You have overland wildlife visits to Amboseli, Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti as well as cruising the Chobe River on the Zambezi Queen.
Travel + Leisure’s Nancy Novogrod says going off the grid to experience handcraft has never looked better • Villa F, on Giudecca Island between the Cipriani and Hilton Molino Stucki Venice, is the restoration of a 16th-century noble property that a century ago, as Pensione Frollo, hosted the city’s most eclectic avant garde artists. Run by Francesca Bortolotto Possati, also CEO of the Bauer family’s properties just near San Marco, the villa has 11 suites ideal for multigenerational or group buyouts. Think personalized wine tours, cucina Veneziana cooking glasses, dining in a Murano workshop, lace-making in Burano – travel in a solar-powered shuttle, the BMare) • Be different. At JA Resorts & Hotels, where COO David Thomson is now big boss, every year sees another collectible “yellow plastic duck.” 2013’s duck is dressed as a chef… • At Trump Soho, New York, you can rent a red-carpet dress and Ivanka Trump jewelry • At Kempinski’s The Stafford, London, a horse concierge helps budding riders – new GM is Chris Hodder, from Aman at Summer Palace, Beijing (she previously opened The PuLi, Shanghai, whose just-arrived GM, Jan Tibaldi, is one of so many enjoying their first ILTM).
Everyone who has ever been to Petra knows that a picnic in the rose-hued city – or even on top of it, above the Treasury – is one of life’s great memories. La Beduina Tours, owned by Ismail Helalat and Kamal Al Shabaán, can now provide that, a bespoke experience for the single traveler through to a meeting for 2,000. Menus include an Arabic mezze platter followed by roast lamb leg and the assorted Arabic desserts that make you drool (and calories gather) • Which brings us back to more food. Soneva’s slimline boss Sonu Shivdasani, over a meager green tea, says both his resorts, in the Maldives and Thailand, have chocolate factories • Want to go backstage at Hédiard or Ledoyen in Paris? Stéphane Tillement has turned what was Wine Tour in France to Celebrate the French Art de Vivre – he can arrange back-of-house cuisine, or couture, tours as well as a private visit to Le Cheval Blanc cellars. He can arrange anything, in six languages (for a single client, only 24 hours is required). No wonder he has doubled turnover in a year… last week a 100-strong group, his maximum, toured in vintage cars • Talking of historic cars, what a coup Leading Hotels achieved in Cape Town last month, taking 250 dressed-up diners to Groot Constantia vineyard in four-wheeled vintage specials, driven by their loving owners.