Archive | October, 2013

When is the Right Age to Travel with Kids?

Xavi flyingClients are always asking me about when is the right age to travel with their kids. They want to wait until the kids are older so they will remember the trip and they are afraid to take young children on long flights.  But I am here to tell you differently – I really think the earlier you get your kids out and about the better!  They will remember more than you think and the more often they travel the easier it becomes.

My son is two and a half and he already knows exactly what to do on a plane.  A few months ago we flew with him to Miami to stay at the Acqualina.  He is still talking about “the yellow house with the beach and pool” and is always asking to go back.  And just a few weeks ago we took him to St. Lucia to Sugar Beach a Viceroy Resort.  Even I was shocked at how well he behaved on the plane.  He remembered everything from this last trip – he knew he had to buckle up and couldn’t watch the ipad until we were “flying in the sky.” A “special treat” (Pirate’s Booty) kept him quiet during take off and landing and he even asked to drink water so his ears wouldn’t hurt (I’ve been obsessing over this since traveling with him as an infant). He is telling everyone that he loved the pool at the Viceroy but the ocean was too salty for him and hurt his eyes.

Our next adventure is taking him to Italy and Spain next month.  To get him excited I have been showing him where we are going on a globe. He is so proud to know these destinations and can’t wait for the trip. Just the other night his grandmother asked him is he was going to Italy and he was quick to respond with “and Spain.” Even though they are young, they can still appreciate the finer things!

Click to see Xavi point to all his favorite destinations on YouTube  Xavi’s Globe

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What Makes Park Hyatt the Best of the Best

Park Hyatt Istanbul

Park Hyatt Istanbul

What makes Park Hyatt the best of the best?? We are so proud to feature 24 Park Hyatt hotels all offering Virtuoso amenities to our members. We asked our friends around the world to let us know what makes their hotels stand apart from the rest. Our first stop is Europe where we will check in with two of our favorites, Park Hyatt Istanbul and Park Hyatt Milan.  See what the experts have to say about these incredible properties…

We asked Elif Bakkal, Director of Sales and Marketing about Park Hyatt Istanbul

What is your favorite drink in the bar or food in the restaurant?  My favorite drink is our Turkish Coffee Martini which is a mind-blowing cocktail and you can taste it only at Park Hyatt Istanbul 🙂

Basically it is freshly brewed Turkish coffee welcoming Martini with a savoury presentation. It is your usual Martini but with a very different touch.  

What sets your hotel apart from the competition?  We have the most spacious rooms in town and they’re equipped with the latest technology. Standard rooms are ranging between 485 – 650 sq ft and you really experience authentic touches in contemporary luxury. The bathrooms are also very unique with light therapy, rainshower & splash tub.

I would like to highlight our location and building as well, we are located in the fashionable “Nisantasi” residential and shopping district and a handsome 1922 art deco building (which used to be the Italian Embassy’s residential building) is housing our hotel. “Nisantasi” is a very chic and peaceful neighborhood and it is an important quarter in Istanbul, being a high-class residential area and home to stores selling world-famous brands. Our hotel is just steps from these shops, trendy cafés, bars and restaurants.

What is your favorite room or the best category for clients to book? My favorite room type is Park Spa room.
These are a total of 25 residential spa rooms featuring a Turkish “hammam” including a stone seat. The Spa room bathrooms are offering five bathing experience, light therapy, rainshower, steambath, Turkish hammam & splash tub. If you stay in these rooms, you do not need to go to a designated Turkish Bath or to Spa for treatments. You just book your treatment and the therapist comes to your room and you enjoy the treatment in your own rooms privacy.

I can add that Park Hyatt Istanbul is not just a regular hotel, it has a spirit & soul coming from 1920’s and once you step in you can’t miss that feeling.

And we spoke to Alessandro Angelaccio, DIrector of Sales and Marketing at Park Hyatt Milan about his favorite features of the hotel…

What is your favorite drink in the bar or food in the restaurant?  Well my mouth always waters when I think of the food we serve at our Michelin starred restaurant VUN. That said, I have a special affinity with Andrea Aprea’s (our Executive Chef) ‘Caprese Dolce e Salato’ which is a very new, fresh and different approach to the usual Caprese salad that everyone has come to love. As far as cocktails are concerned, we have a great bar staff that really get creative in trying to stimulate our taste buds while proposing intriguing new cocktails, besides the standard line up of classics, we have things of the likes of a ‘Frank Costello’ which is a revisiting of the Bloody Mary made with Grappa instead of Vodka.

What sets your hotel apart from the competition? How can I answer this while remaining politically correct towards our competitors …everything! Jokes aside, definitely location, we’re right in the heart of it all, steps away from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Duomo, La Scala and the high-end fashion boutiques. Furthermore, since the opening of the hotel I have never seen so much media coverage applauding our award winning service levels. We have some very unique offerings, among them we are well known for having the most spacious rooms in town, some great living bathrooms, suites with their own private in-suite SPA and even private terraces on the top floor with views over the city. We also have the privilege of having our own Michelin starred restaurant, very popular with the local clientele and guests, of which we are really proud.

What is your favorite room or the best category for clients to book? Well that’s a bit of a tough choice, each room is different and has its own allure, character and feel. Although, if I had to choose I would have to say the Diplomatic Suite because of its roof-top location, 1238 square feet of space, the priceless view over the Duomo Cathedral and….I’ll let you in on a little secret and give you a world premiere exclusive…we’ve just built-in an outside Jacuzzi on the terrace, making this the only suite in Milano where you can take a plunge while admiring the Duomo and Milano from above.

Park Hyatt Milan

Park Hyatt Milan

We are so excited to have these great hotels as part of the Classic Travel family!

 

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Rio to Acqualina Resort & Spa

I was flying up from Rio to Acqualina Resort & Spa.  I didn’t want to stay in Miami and I didn’t want to drive up to Palm Beach either.  I love Miami.  Have you ever heard of a Brazilian who didn’t?  When we got rich that’s where we all headed.  That was in the beginning but now we’re moving up the coast.  A friend at home was telling me how much she liked the Acqualina Resort & Spa.  I was getting over a breakup and just needed time by myself at a place that was quiet, sophisticated and offered all the services.  I texted my agent Heather at Classic Travel in New York.  She knew the hotel very well and texted right back “Muito Bom”.  I laughed to myself as I think that’s about the only Portuguese she knows.  She does have the Carioca accent down though.   “They have amazing services and the beach is divine” she continued “and the bartender makes the best Caipirinha north of Rio.  A Caipirinha is to a Carioca what a Martini is to a New Yorker.

Acqualina Pool

Acqualina Pool

Heather continued, “Hey, they have a 4th night free program right now and we can include our Virtuoso amenities and the best part is it’s just 30 minutes from Miami International Airport.”   She booked it for me, although I could have booked it myself on classictravel.com. Either way we both get confirmations so my super-agent Heather is always in the loop.  Classic Travel Service always follows up on bookings made on their site.  I love it. When I got to the hotel they even upgraded me.

Aqualina’s Espa Spa could not be better and especially after a 9 hour flight.  The 20,000 square foot beach view gym was so great to work out in, followed by a massage and then the afternoon at the adult pool. I was in heaven, the chaise lounges were so comfortable; I was oblivious to everything around me except the mesmerizing sound of waves gently lapping on the beach.  All of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I became completely distracted. Coming out of the pool was a woman in a white one-piece bathing suit.  She had the most perfect body, long black hair and incredible green eyes.  I thought for a second that I was back in Rio. In fact, I thought she resembled someone I had seen back home.  I was thinking of how I could approach her but all at once she was gone.  I was a little disappointed but more annoyed at myself for being so easily distracted.  This was supposed to be meditative long weekend trip. Well, I didn’t say I was dead!

I know this sounds a bit nuts but I went back to Acqualina’s fantastic health club.  I wanted to get my mind off of that “woman in white”.  An hour on the elliptical plugged into the right music helped me get into the moment.  It’s always great to work out in new surroundings and Acqualina created the perfect ambiance. I drank about a gallon of water and then worked out with weights another 30 minutes. Then I went to my incredible room with views of that beautiful stretch of white sand beach.  I’m amazed to think that Acqualina is only two and half hours from New York.  New Yorker’s really do have it all!

The next three days were almost perfect.  Every day I worked out for 3 hours, went to the beach and pool, didn’t drink and was in bed by 9 P.M.  If that sounds boring, it’s not my usual life. Then the last night I decided to have a couple of drinks at the bar.  The music wasn’t Brazilian but the Caipirinha was as good as any I’ve had in Rio. Heather was right!  I say almost perfect because as I was leaving to go back to my room when I saw the woman in white getting into a white Mercedes convertible.  She was dressed in a form fitting white dress.  She was even more beautiful then I remembered.  Now I was frustrated and she was gone.

The staff at Acqualina is so professional.   Everyone is friendly and so accommodating. The concierge told me exactly where to go to get some new American jeans that you just can’t get in Rio.  However when, I mentioned the “Woman in White,” no one seemed to know what I was talking about.  Well, anyway, if they did they sure weren’t going to tell me anything.  It’s obvious the staff at Acqualina respects the privacy of their guests so I just dropped it.  I was going back to Rio that night. It was better this way.  The front desk was able to give me a late check out, another great Virtuoso amenity, as my flight was not until the evening.  At 6 P.M. as the luggage was being put into the taxi, the woman in white walked by me and smiled making eye contact. That was is it!!!! That’s all that happened but it was enough.  Now, I realized I was over my breakup and ready to move on.  Sometimes, it takes a couple of experiences to realize life goes on.  The “woman in white” sure made me forget and so did Acqualina.  Now, that’s why I plan on returning to one of the best U.S. beach hotels I’ve ever been to. 

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Christmas in Paris with a Taste of the Amalfi Coast

Christmas in Paris with a Taste of the Amalfi Coast

If you weren’t able to dine with Chef Matteo Temperini this summer at Le Sirenuse, one of our favorite spots in Positano, you are in luck. You are just in time to catch him at Le Royal Monceau, one of the best hotels in Paris! Two Michelin star chefs are joining forces to create a magical Italian Christmas in Paris. Together with Le Royal Monceau’s own Roberto Rispoli, they will cook up a storm and create an exclusive tasting menu using the freshest Italian produce and Parisian flavors.

And the best part is you can stay a little longer in Paris this winter with a complimentary 4th night at Le Royal Monceau. Discover this next generation palace infused with art and culture just minutes away from the Champs Elysees. The hotel is like a museum, every detail is meticulous with amazing surprises at every turn. And this incredible offer includes our exclusive Virtuoso amenities:

  • Breakfast for two daily
  • 85 Euro food and beverage credit
  • Complimentary use of Spa, Fitness Center and Pool
  • Upgrade upon arrival if available

This is the perfect way to spice up your winter! Restaurant-La-Cuisine

 

 

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