Dancing with dolphins at Atlantis the Palm? Always a good idea!

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Initially, I had my reservations about staying at Atlantis the Palm at Dubai. I am not a fan of large resorts especially when inhabited by hundreds of small kids. However, its best selling points which are The Dolphin Bay, the Lost Champers Aquarium and the numerous culinary experiences it offers convinced me otherwise. That, as well as the fact that my kids would not appreciate nor enjoy my secluded boutique hotel option to the least.

Atlantis Hotel is located in The Palm (the known man-made island) and it is one of the most luxurious resorts of the area. It is a themed resort, as it is named after the mythical Atlantis. This 5-star hotel opened its doors in 2008, offering genuine luxurious hospitality and as its website suggests, Atlantis is an “aquatic wonderland by the sea”.

Families can entertain themselves in the most exciting marine attractions such as The Lost Chambers Aquarium, where an Atlantis theme park is created allowing families to take interesting hourly tours exploring the ancient ruins of the so-called lost city of Atlantis have finally been uncovered. Snorkeling tours for the whole family, where everyone can learn about the species you will encounter and of course the snorkel techniques to ensure you get the most out of your experience. All sessions are conducted in English by experienced professional.

Another very exciting experience is a visit to The Dolphin Bay, one of the most sophisticated dolphin habitats in the whole world. What a better thing to do than swimming among the dolphins for 30 minutes. This is definitely the most memorable experience for the whole family, where one can swim, play and dance alongside these amazing creatures. You are also invited to join the fun, interact and even kiss dolphins if you are non-swimmer in shallow waters up to your waist.  As far as children are concerned, security measures are very important so all children under 12 years old are always accompanied by a professional as they are connecting with those incredible aquatic mammals.

Last but not least, there is the Aquaventure WaterPark literally the No. 1 Waterpark in the Middle East and Europe! Another great venture for the whole family where everyone can enjoy exploring the Waterpark’s interconnected waterways and discover the adventures that await throughout the whole waterpark. Exciting river rides, wave generators capable of creating tidal swells are some of the activities for families and children over 12 years old!

 

As for the younger children are concerned do not miss the Splashers Childrens Play Area. A real water fun area where children and parents can enjoy playing with the slides designed for two and huge buckets of splashing water offer a true experience of laughter and fun!

 

But fun does not end in the morning! The Atlantis Hotel has created a Kid’s Club where children can be entertained with designed daily programmes ( morning or evening) designed for children (3 to 12 years old) that included a complimentary pizza dinner too!!! Some of the exciting programmes designed for every day of the week such as the Mad Scientists Tuesdays, the Willy Wonka Wednesdays, the Candy Olympics and many more! Play zones, underwater theatre zone, pirate’s playground and other areas are created for endless fun!

 

Another aspect of the Atlantis Hotel is the culinary experience you can gain within the hotel. High end restaurants such as the world known Nobu and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen & Bar among others, offer a great selection from the world’s cuisines but as far as the families are concerned what a better choice than the Kaleidoscope restaurant where an international breakfast buffet offers a great selection even for the pickiest children.

 

Don’t forget to pay visit at the awarded spa ShuiQi of the hotel with incredible scented underwater yoga and massage therapies. If you need a nanny service for the kids while you are at the spa or the restaurants you need to book at least three days in advance. You will be positively impressed by the level and quality of service especially considering its 1500 rooms!

 

After all this information, are you ready for a 5-star luxury experience for your whole family?

 

Some tips for families with kids at Dubai!

 

·         Book a desert safari experience with Platinum Heritage. The most authentic and luxury safari in Dubai. Choose the Heritage Collection which boasts vintage Land Rover vehicles, a Bedouin camp nestled inside the privacy of a Royal desert retreat and Emirati food recipes, demonstrations of heritage entertainment and conservation of the natural habitat.

·         Don’t miss the Kidzania experience at the Dubai Mall. Kids can choose their preferred profession in order to ‘work’ and ‘earn’ like adults in this city for kids. With more than 80 role-playing activities, kids are able to build essential real life skills. Plan your visit in advance by buying tickets online at www.kidzania.ae . With a small difference in price you can buy the ‘business plus’ ticket and have priority access to the popular establishments which are pilot training, fire station and hospital emergencies!

·         If you visit the Dubai Mall choose the Rainforest Café for lunch with the kids. This casual restaurant recreates a tropical rainforest with tropical vegetation, waterfalls and robotic animals. No reservation needed and the kids love it.

·         Don’t worry about visiting all the shops in the Dubai Mall. They say it takes 5 whole days to see everything in the Mall. With kids you will probably have time to visit 5-7 shops…But if you can, check the Dubai Ice Rink which is open to skaters of all ages with instructors on hand to help you get into the groove.

·         If you have more days in Dubai and older kids try the I Fly experience. The first indoor Skydiving Experience!

 

Have fun and enjoy!

Love, Tonia

 

The Peninsula -An Iconic hotel in Paris

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Everyone dreams of staying at the one and only Peninsula Paris one of the most iconic hotels in Paris, overlooking the Eiffel Tower , on Avenue Kléber , just a few minutes away from the Arc de Triomphe!

It is one of the most luxurious hotels in Europe, located in the most historic quarter of Paris, a 19th century Haussmanian building that hosted various important events during Europe’s history.  The Peninsula Paris, formerly known as the Hotel Majestic, opened its doors to the public in 1908 as a hotel and in 1937 became a governmental conference center.  In the mid- 20th century, it became the Nazi headquarters in Paris, during the city’s occupation in the World War II. Later on, during the early 70s, all discussions on the Vietnam War peace treaty were held there.

Numerous significant personalities have stayed there such as George Gershwin, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Marcel Proust. It has been said that Gershwin finished his famous  “An American in Paris” whilst staying there.

A couple of years ago, the Peninsula reinvented itself with a super makeover that cost over than half billion dollars! The result was astonishing, 200 rooms and 34 suites where contemporary luxury meets the latest technology!

Staying in one of the rooms or suites at the Peninsula gives a full understanding of true Parisian living!  All suites are equipped with cutting-edge features and the room service is legendary with a choice of drinks and delectable dishes, right from the fully-customized interactive digital control tablet.  Parisian glamour, high ceilings, eclectic furniture and fine French craftsmanship result a unique luxurious environment.

As far the restaurants are concerned the Peninsula Paris is a true gastronomic paradise with six restaurants. Each and every one,  a  homage to Gastronomy!  One of the most notorious restaurants in the city, Lily Restaurant is located within its premises offering exceptional Cantonese cuisine, aiming to please all residents but more particularly the Asians that seem to be the main target group of the hotel.  Apart from that, there is a wide selection for any taste, L’ Oiseau Blanc on the rooftop of the hotel, with a stunning view over Paris! L’ Oiseau Blanc serves the typical French specialties with only the best seasonal ingredients, usually picked by the head chef himself from the local market.

There is also The Lobby a more international restaurant where one can enjoy  delicious brunch or high tea or even a regular lunch or dinner of a more smart casual character. La Terrasse Kléber is also an option for those who desire to sit on the terrace right in front of the hotel enjoying international specialties.  A bar, a cigar lounge and the exceptional in-room service are also great option for those who wish the maximum of comfort and hospitality!

Since its last renovation a high quality spa and wellness center was created within the hotel. The fitness center, an indoor pool and the Peninsula Spa are there to provide the maximum of luxury!  The eastern decorative elements along with the wooden and marble details help the visitor to find harmony and live an ultimate relaxation experience.

Overall, the Peninsula Paris is definitely one of the most luxurious hotels in Europe.  It is no wonder that it is considered to be one of the few “Palace hotels” in the French capital . It combines luxury, elegance , glamour , comfort  ,high technology & impeccable service thus exceeding all of its customer’s expectations.

With gratitude, T.

Suvretta House -family getaway

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What better an idea than spending the holidays with your family! Especially, in an environment ideal for the whole family like the Suvretta House in St Moritz, Switzerland.

The Suvretta House is a historic hotel , established in the 1910s.  Since then, this 5-star residence offers unique hospitality to all those who decide to spend some time within its premises.

The Suvretta House is located in the Upper Engadine and is nestled in an alpine, majestic location no more than 2 Km from St Moritz. It is surrounded by the mountain peaks of the Alps and is  near the famous lake of St Moritz. At first glance, it looks like a fairy-tale castle in the middle of nowhere but the truth is that you can have an extraordinary experience while staying there whether it is winter or summer.

Since its inauguration, in 1912, and throughout the years  the hotel became established not only for its ideal location but due to the luxurious services that were provided. It is also well known  for the celebrities that have visited its premises such as the Crown Prince Akihito, the Shaq of Persia, Evita Peron and many others.

A family getaway

Whoever has visited The Suvretta House can confirm that it is ideal for a family getaway. Children aged 3  and older are very welcome since there are numerous activities especially designed for themWell trained multilingual kindergarten teachers are appointed to take care of the little ones while they play in the hotel’s winter garden or outdoor playground in front of the hotel. The kids are encouraged to interact with each other not only by playing but also while engaging in arts and crafts always guided by well trained professionals. Fun games and other exciting activities await the little ones on a daily basis.

One of the most important activities during the winter holidays is of course, skiing! Therefore, children are encouraged to learn to ski by very well trained professionals provided by the  Suvretta Children’s Ski School!  All youngsters are invited to enter the magic of winter sports at the private children’s ski slope, right above the hotel! There, they can learn how to ski with a game-aided learning system, on a slightly inclined slope designed especially for them! A significant factor being that they are able to make new friends and have loads of fun in a safe environment.

Last but not least, while being in the fresh air all day, learning how to ski and playing outdoors the sure thing is that they will build an appetite, and what better an idea than the Teddy club! A restaurant exclusive for children! Where the little ones can enjoy their favorite dishes along with some traditional local dishes named after the favorite characters! Burgers, chicken fillets, pasta and pizza are just some examples of what the kids can eat! Not to mention Teddy’s sweet corner with delicious treats such as chocolate cake with smarties, sweet puffs, ice cream corner and the one and only chocolate fountain (available for 4 children or more!)

What a better combination of activities and services for a family holiday getaway than this one, right?

The Suvretta House is all about the hospitality! Majestic location, luxurious services, fine-dining ,candle lit restaurants and rustic swiss restaurant logdes . A great all around place for families,  comforting and informal yet surely a 5-star experience!

With gratitude, T.

Chiltern Firehouse: Andre Balazs luxury hotel and restaurant in London

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What if I were to tell you that one of the first and oldest fire stations in the British capital is, as we speak one of the luxurious hotels in town? I am talking about the Chiltern Firehouse Hotel, a five star residence located in the chic neighborhood of Marylebone, in London.  I am sure that Robert Pearsall, the architect of the original fire station building, built back in 1889, did not expect that his creation would become one of the most bespoke hotels in the world.

But let’s find out a bit more about the Chiltern Firehouse Hotel.  Six years ago, in 2011, André Balazs, a famous American hotelier, bought the historic Firehouse building and along with the developer Harry Handelsman and Google’s Eric Schmidt.  A very competent team of architects, Archer Humphryes Architects renovated the existing building and also built a brand new wing using the very same architectural design with Victorian crenellations and arches, using the same red bricks. They also developed the latest technology of heating and cooling practices, digging two stories underground.

The whole restoration project lasted for almost 3 years and in 2013, the exclusive Chiltern Firehouse Hotel opened its doors and presented 26 suites and a 200 seat restaurant.

The philosophy of both André Balazs  and the constructors ( architects and designer) was not to pack in as many rooms as possible but to  create a boutique hotel, an exclusive luxurious getaway where all rooms would be both comfortable and unique. All twenty six rooms/suites have a homey atmosphere. The Victorian style of the exterior complements the interior design with custom made mahogany furniture, fine furnishings and luxurious bed linen. All rooms are equipped with British style- fireplaces in an attempt to create an intimate space.  All bathrooms are spacious and decorated with elegant handmade glazed tiles and white and grey marble.  Each bathroom boasts high rise windows, a freestanding pewter bathtub, shower , double marble console and heated floors thus offering its’ guests maximum luxury.

An interesting fact is that before the hotels’ opening, the owner André Balazs decided to sleep in each and every room in order to experience the feeling of each individual room stating “I need to know what every room feels like.”  As it is stated in the hotel’s website “every guest is looked after by a personal concierge, providing unsurpassed levels of thoughtful and authentic service more evocative of a private house than a hotel”.

Many seem to think that the Chiltern Firehouse is just a restaurant and are unaware that it is also a hotel due to the fact that so many celebrities are fans of its famous Michelin star awarded restaurant Nuno Mendes. Numerous celebrities such as Cara Delevigne, David Beckam, even the prior Prime Minister Cameron and Bill Clinton have been spotted wining & dining there.

The Chiltern Firehouse Hotel is considered to be one of the top boutique hotels in London, not only because of the high end  luxury that it offers its guest but also because of its fashionable design, Victorian deco elements and mostly because it has become a celebrity hot spot!

With Gratitude, T

Fairmont Monte Carlo : Endless Luxury

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What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you visit Monte Carlo? Endless luxury, Formula 1 Grand Prix and casinos.
Fairmont Monte Carlo has it all! It is a unique four-star luxury convention resort located in the heart of the Principality of Monaco in between the Mediterranean Sea and the legendary Casino.
In 1975, one of the boldest hotel creations of the time opened its doors, built on the very spot of the first Monegasque railway station and moreover the famous “Tir au Pigeons”, frequented by aristocrats and heads of state at the end of the 19th century. Built in part upon pillars approximately 15m high, the hotel is entirely heated and air conditioned by a sophisticated system which draws water from the Mediterranean at a depth of 40m where the temperature fluctuates between 12 and 20° all year round.
Thirty years later, the complex was officially renamed Fairmont Monte Carlo and the decision was made to make it one of the group’s flagship hotels. An ambitious renovation program is therefore decided upon, which will enable the hotel to confirm its position in the great luxury hotel market and put back the sparkle which it had from the start.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo overlooks the Mediterranean sea as it stands over those giant pillars but from the other side, the land-side, it oversees the Fairmont hair-pin bend, one of the most dramatic elements of the Monaco’s Formula 1 circuit.
As far as the dining experience is concerned thanks to the variety, the Fairmont Monte Carlo has a place of honor amongst the restaurants of Monaco. The elegant and cozy well known Nobu restaurant is here to offer an amazing experience. If you want something in a more bistro like experience you can dine at the Saphir 24, bistro, lounge & bar.
Being in Monte Carlo means exclusivity, luxury and prestige, thus Nikki Beach created an unique poolside atmosphere on the 7th floor of the Fairmont Monte Carlo which gives you the opportunity to spend from noon till late at night and enjoy the music spun by Nikki Beach’s world renowned Resident DJs facing the magnificent Riviera! Of course such a luxurious place, would be incomplete without a SPA.
Experience authentic and personalized spa treatments – visit the Willow Stream-Fairmont Spa for a soothing experience designed just for you. In the Willow Stream, you will rediscover your energy and the Willow Stream Fitness & rooftop Pool will offer you the opportunity to enjoy a world-class workout while enjoying views of the Riviera.
In any case, Fairmont Monte Carlo is an island unto itself situated in the most exclusive part of the world, the Principality of Monaco.

With Gratitude, T

MNEMBA ISLAND- Vacations on the island of fantasy!

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On the northern coast of Zanzibar there is a paradise spot called the Mnemba Atoll. A perfect romantic hideaway and a true barefoot beach paradise are ready to accommodate up to 20 guests in perfectly designed traditional “bandas”.
And Beyond Mnemba Island lodge is a true fantasy-island experience for the guests. From snorkeling, swimming and kayaking to massages on the beach or even doing nothing at all, Mnemba has something for everyone.
If you had ever the secret wish of being the sole inhabitant of a beautiful tropical island, without having to lift a finger to fend for yourself, &Beyond’s Mnemba Island is just the place for you! Discover a true, unpretentious paradise on this private island, where simple pleasures become your most treasured of memories for many years to come. Relax and unwind in the exclusivity of your own stretch of beachfront, where simple yet luxurious bandas peep out onto unblemished sands from the dappled shade of the local pine forest.
Mnemba Island has a fully equipped Dive Centre and offers a full range of diving activities. If you are experienced, the Diving Instructor will guide you on fantastic dives around Mnemba Atoll. If you are a beginner, the Instructor will introduce you to a whole new world of mystery, wonder and beauty. Explore the warm Indian Ocean waves in utter tranquility in a deep sea kayak built for two. Ask one of Mnemba’s Diving Instructors for a quick tutorial session or set off with your partner on the quiet waters protected by the island’s surrounding reefs.
Spend a leisurely morning on the beach, snorkeling along nearby coral reefs or simply enjoying the sunshine. After a brief siesta, it’s time to meet the diving instructors and venture into the balmy ocean waters. A short boat ride takes you out to the reefs, where you can explore the colorful marine life. If you happen to spot a pod of dolphins, simply jump in and swim with these sociable sea creatures. When you get back from your dive, wash off the salt in the glass beaded shower. There’s time to relax before a succulent seafood dinner, served right on the beach, with your toes in the sand. Stroll along the ocean’s edge before you drift off to sleep with the haunting sound of the waves playing in your head.
Mnemba Island provides financial and accounting support to an experimental program that has introduced 6 Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) West of north-eastern Zanzibar. The hotel aspires that over time local fishermen will be able to obtain sufficient catches of tuna and other species from the FADs, and reduce impact on the fragile coral reefs. Mnemba Island provides a safe breeding refuge for green sea turtles that lay their eggs above the island’s high tide mark. Mnemba staff monitors and documents all turtle breeding activities and briefs local marine biologists. A number of individual turtles have been tagged under the auspices of Zanzibar Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

With Gratitude, T.

AMAN CANALE GRANDE VENICE- A habitable work of art in Venice !

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Aman Canal Grande Venice - Yellow Dining Room
Aman Canal Grande, one of the city’s most illustrious residences, built on water, is located at the centre of Venice, the most fabled destination of glorious history, architecture, art and romance. Aman Resorts selected the 16th-century Venetian palazzo, owned by Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga and his wife, Countess Bianca di Savoia Aosta Arrivabene that overlooked the Grand Canal from San Polo, to “give birth” to their “only-child. San Polo is one of the oldest districts, in a city listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the hotel is just a “gondola ride” away from Rialto Bridge.
Overlooking Venice’s main thoroughfare, Aman Canal Grande is surrounded by vaporetti, gondolas and gracious 200- to 700-year-old buildings. Your gondola ride will land just in front of the hotel, at its great dock leading directly into the palazzo’s Reception Hall. Most of the guests are high society members or Hollywood stars; Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Andrea Bocelli, Lana del Rey, Bono and Cindy Crawford are just a few of them.

ARCHITECTURE
Palazzo Papadopoli, built in 1550, was part of Vera Papadopoli Alborandini’s dowry. This is where Aman is housed, a gracious brainchild of building architect Gian Giacomo dé Grigi, commissioned by the Coccina family of Bergamo. Over the years, the Palazzo was owned by the Tiepolo family and other high-class Italian families. At the very beginning of the 19th century, it was bought by Nicolò and Angelo Papadopoli Aldobrandini. The internal decorative plan was entrusted to Michelangelo Guggenheim, who turned the Palazzo into a significant example of Venetian style hotel, combining Neo-Renaissance and Rococo art styles. Michel Gathy and Denniston International Architects enriched the hotel with all the luxury comfort expected from a “grande” hotel like this one.
Upon their arrival, guests are lead to Aman’s palatial reception hall, adorned with Gothic-style iron chandeliers hanging from the soaring ceilings, historic frescos, and sculptures that give a sense of bygone luxury. The silk damasks on the walls by Rubelli, the ancestral portraits and the paintings from the owner Count Arrivabene’s personal collection create an ambiance more reflective of a royal residence than a hotel. The astonishing grand staircase, with trompe l’oeil murals, leading to the elegant piano nobile catches guest’s eye, along with the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Amanresorts’ minimalist aesthetic is part of the hotel’s interior contemporary design and is not entirely absent from the 24 guest rooms, wholly decorated by Jean-Michel Gathy, and along with the Palazzo Stanza suites, offer spectacular views over the Grand Canal. Wenge-wood furnishing by B&B Italia, fabric wall panels and fresco ceilings are some of the rooms’ special features. The rooms impeccably connect the dressing areas and bathrooms with the bedrooms. As Gathy himself mentioned about the suites’ bathrooms, “[They] have been the areas where we have been able to combine the best of the contemporary style with… masterpiece ceilings and heavy chandeliers, plus the best Italian craftsmanship and suppliers, to achieve an amazing contemporary design detailing…” There are four suite categories of different design, along with the regular “royal” guestrooms – Palazzo Bedroom, Palazzo Chamber, Palazzo Stanza etc. Apart from these guestrooms, Maddalena Stanza is a historic room with high, frescoed ceilings and silk wall coverings. A glorious chandelier is hanging in the bathroom and the windows offer wonderful views over the Garden Terrace and the Grand Canal. Sansovino Stanza, originally called “The Hall of the Four Doors”, is designed by Jacopo d’Antonio Sansovino, a famous Venetian architect of the 16th century. Moreover, there is Alcova Tiepolo Suite that features a Chinese painted sitting room and a bedroom ceiling by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the “greatest decorative painter of 18th-century Europe”, as once written, and Canal Grande Suite, located above the front door of the palazzo, offering a full spectrum of the canal’s maritime activities through its arched windows.

Room-Tip: The staff enthusiastically says that Papadopoli Stanza is the very best room. Not only the spectacular view, but also the glided stucco, the crystal radiators and the king-size bed, along with the fireplace and the large tub in the spacious bathroom, are inviting guests to an unforgettable experience of luxury and comfort. You are welcomed to relax in a bubble bath while drinking and enjoying the canal views.

FOOD – DRINK
If you are ready for an Italian and more gastronomic experience, then Aman Canal Grande Venice’s Red and Yellow dining rooms, overlooking the Grand Canal and the resort’s Garden Terrace, are the right choices for you. The colorful walls covered by silk linens, along with the mirrors, the frescos, the chandeliers and the ballroom create the perfect scenery to enjoy a tasteful Thai or Venetian meal. Chef recommends stir-fried fish with red chilli or black squid-ink risotto. Chef Naoki Okumura blends perfectly the best of Kyoto’s flavors with European cuisine.
An afternoon tea, coffee or aperitif is available at the Roof Terrace, where the stunning view of the city will take your breath away. This traditional altana on the fifth floor – a rooftop terrace with great views of the chimney pots and the old artistic Venetian buildings – is the ideal location to relax while enjoying an espresso or a unique cocktail and watching the sun sets. Moreover, from the main hall there is direct access to the resort’s private gardens. Garden Terrace is one of the few private gardens on the canal with green grass and plenty of mature trees and flowers, creating a relaxing oasis at the center of Venice.

George Clooney’s and Amal Alamuddin’s wedding is just one the many Hollywood weddings that took place in Venice, confirming the city’s established position as one of the top 5 romantic destinations. Many popular couples have chosen a Venetian place to exchange or renew their vows, such as actress Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault at the Teatro La Fenice opera house. Aman Grande Canal Venice is just the perfect place to plan your royal wedding, living the fairytale.

SPECIAL FEATURES
Two of the hotel’s hot spots are the great Library and the Salon. The Library is the perfect retreat with historical books, magazines and newspapers. The Salon, on the other hand, is a stylish lounge with a huge piano, where you can take a break and enjoy the outstanding view of the Grand Canal. Last but not least, there is also a Spa, open from 10:00 am to 09:00 pm, on the third floor. Uniquely designed treatment rooms welcome you to kickback and pumper yourself with a facial and body treatment.
As Arthur Symons said “A realist in Venice would become a romantic by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him…” Would you miss the chance to be part of this change?

With Gratitude, T