About Richard Beck

Richard Beck is President of New York based Classic Travel Service since 1982. He personally manages the travel of a number of high wealth indviduals.

Author Archive | Richard Beck

Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a Legend

untitled2What becomes a legend? Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Italy on Lake Como has recently been chosen to be part of the new Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Preferred represents over 650 properties in 85 countries so choosing which ones deserve this new status could not have been an easy task. I’m honored to be on their advisory board and when I arrived there last October for our annual meeting, there was no doubt in my mind that this would be one of the chosen few. Grand Hotel Tremezzo; an hour from Milan’s Malpensa airport, sits directly on Lake Como with breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains not unlike the views of the Long Island Sound that I grew up with. NOT!

untitled8The hotel was first opened in 1910 and was on the circuit for the elite of Europe until the outbreak of World War I. Then it was quickly turned into a clinic for the army. After the war the hotel re-opened but not with the same cache until in the 30’s when it was purchased by the Sampietro family. They refurbished and soon it was chic once more. The film Grand Hotel (1932) with Greta Garbo was filmed there. There’s even a Greto Garbo suite today.

untitled9Fast forward to present and under the present ownership of the DeSantis family with Valentina De Santis at the helm it is once again one of “the” places to stay. Like the hotel, Valentina is charmingly grand but also like the hotel she is not the least bit stuffy. Her easy and approachable persona is attracting a younger generation of luxury travelers.

untitled6The rooms are all different and most have views of the lake with the others having lush green garden views with one of the swimming pools in the background. If you can’t snag a lake view room in season don’t be dissuaded as you’ll not be unhappy in these garden view rooms. I slept like a baby on eco-friendly linens that are created from processed wood. You would never know as they are soft and luxurious.

untitled3Dining at Grand Hotel Tremezzo is an experience on its own. A meal here and you’ll lose desire to dine anywhere else in the area. There are three restaurants and all offer extensive menus that focus on local and original dishes from the Lombardy region. My personal favorite was La Terrazza. The first day I was there I had lunch preceded by the best “aperitivo” selection I have ever tasted. Of course, when in Italy, you have to have Pizza. The poolside T-Bar hosts candlelit pizza dining every Monday night that is so popular that even locals come. Always a good sign!!! For a very cool and more intimate setting L’Escale; their cave-like restaurant may actually be the finest Fondue & Wine Bar on Lake Como.

untitled7When to go? Anytime from May to October is perfect. Reserve early and naturally with a Virtuoso agency or right here at Classictravel.com. Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a Preferred Legend Hotel and has what it takes to create sublime lifetime memories.

For 2015, Virtuoso Rate Includes:
• Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
• Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
• 25 minutes of ESPA experience at our TSpa ( equivalent to 60 Euro SPA credit)
• Complimentary WiFi for entire stay
• Free entrance to Villa Carlotta and its Botanical Gardens
• Italian wine tasting at L’Escale Fondue & Wine Bar (3 flights of wine)
• With minimum of 5-nights stay 30 minutes Boat Tour on board the Water Limo RUY, the Grand Hotel’s very own period lancia boat to discover the Lake’s magic in exclusive style
• Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability

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Hotel de Rome


Hotel de Rome is a “Grand-Old-New Hotel”.  I’ve coined a new category.  Whether you prefer a hotel that has a worthy provenance or a modern hotel of today you’ll experience both at Hotel de Rome in Berlin.  Originally built between 1887 and 1889 it was the headquarters of Dresdner Bank until 1945.  In 1945 all branches of the Dresdner Bank were closed in the Soviet occupation zone.  The GDR State Bank occupied it until the fall of the Berlin wall and after that it was empty, and in disrepair, until 2003 when Sir Rocco Forte did his magic. Now everything that was old is new again making the Hotel de Rome all about now.  In fact, it would be hard to imagine it otherwise except from the outside.  Sir Rocco Forte and his sister, interior designer Olga Polizzi, collaborate to build some of today’s most beautiful grand hotels.  I first met her years ago – although I’m sure she wouldn’t remember – at the Hyde Park Hotel in London when it was a Forte Exclusive property, before it was purchased by Mandarin Oriental.  I was so enthralled by what she had done there that when she was pointed out to me I went up to her to tell her how fabulous I thought she was.  She still is fabulous today, leaving her unforgettable mark on every Rocco Forte hotel.

Hotel-de-Rome-Lobby-2515The de Rome gives you that “WOW” when you enter the enormous high ceilinged lobby.  “I picked the right place” you will think to yourself.  It’s just a bit intimidating, but that’s exactly one of the things that put grand-new hotels on the map. The attention to detail begins in the public areas, and doesn’t end there.  Every accommodation is unique.  You won’t tire of your room here.  I stayed for a week and didn’t want to leave.

The Hotel de Rome’s 109 rooms and 37 suites are on five floors.  The rooms and suites on the lower floors have higher ceilings but that seems irrelevent as the higher floor rooms have ceilings that are over nine feet tall.  They’re decorated in tones of cream, blue and red.

Even the standard rooms are beautiful and well appointed.  You’ll have plenty of outlets for all your technical needs.  The baths have separate showers and tubs.  The air conditioning is so quiet (a true sign of a luxury hotel) that when I first arrived I had to check if it was turned on.


There are just enough public rooms and spaces to enjoy, whether you’re with someone or solo.  I never felt neglected as the attentive staff members are always about.  The main dining room, Parioli, is an outstanding Italian-themed restaurant under the guidance of Chef Jörg Behrend. The venue is so agreeable and,  during warmer months,  there’s outside seating.  The roof terrace overlooking the State Opera House is a favorite meeting place in the afternoon when weather permits. Here, they offer coffee, ice tea and special cocktails that are champagne or vodka based, along with lite snacks.  The hotels Opera Court, formerly the lobby of the Dresdner Bank, serves a full afternoon English tea.  The Bebel Bar plays host not just to hotel guests but locals as well.  Live music and an interesting cocktail menu make it one of the places to go to in the area. A vault where jewels and gold were stored is now the spa….an oasis of calm, with a 20-meter pool, steam room, sauna and gym.


Finally, every staff member here seems genuinely happy.  Sir Rocco Forte possesses the ability to find that innate quality in all those whom he employs, and the de Rome is no exception.  I personally like a hotel manager who is visible and interacts with his guests. Some are so adept at it that I imagine a hidden camera that is a direct link to their iPhone or android.

Hotel de Rome’s General Manager, Thies Sponholz is all about engaging with his guests and – just as important- he’s easily approachable.  A good manger will always make you want to return, and that he does.  When she is not traveling the world representing the hotel, their Sales Manager, Stephanie Brueckner, is also often found interacting with guests. You’ll recognize her when you see her. She defines beauty and graciousness.  Stephanie possesses that innate gift of an admired politician.  You know the type! When they speak with you, you feel and believe for a moment that you are the only person in their life.   It’s not surprising how well known, respected and loved she is in the travel community.

The next time you want to experience a “Grand-Old-New Hotel” head to Berlin and stay at Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome.

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It’s about views and dining at Acqualina

acqualina 2

It’s about views and dining at Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

New Yorker’s love views. This vertical city I live in has lots of them. I’ve lived all over Manhattan and I’ll give up “charming” anytime for a view. So when I travel the first thing I do when I walk into my hotel room is check out the view. Next, I check out the dining options. Acqualina has great views whether I’m facing the magical aquamarine Atlantic to the east, or overlooking Miami to the west. From this high-rise luxury hotel, the lights sparkle at night reminding me that I’m in another unique city. The rooms are beautiful and spacious, even the entrée level ones are impressive in their size and décor.

acqualina 3

Acqualina has recently added another dining venue – AQ by Acqualina. This new option has an open dining room with an outdoor veranda and a raised bar. All of this – yes it’s about the view – commands front-row seats overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The menu by acclaimed chef Dewey LoSasso offers “farm-to-table” modern American fare and creative libations. The variety of dishes includes snapper croquettes, rough falafel fritters and sunflower crostini with spaghetti squash. Recognized favorites like grilled skirt steak and a raw bar with sushi are offered as well. Innovative and classic cocktails, along with an extensive wine list, are also available. For more formal dining Acqualina still has the world famous Il Mulino New York which is known worldwide for gourmet Italian cuisine. Then, of course, there’s always room service. One of the best parts of staying at a true luxury resort like Acqualina is the ability to kick back in a beautiful room, order up great food and watch a large-screen TV, or, guess what, gaze at the view!

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Aspen in the Summer

Aspen in the summer isn’t the best kept secret any longer.  There was a time when the term de rigueur only applied to the winter months in Aspen but over the years the famous destination has evolved into the diverse resort city it is today.  You won’t be disappointed when the Aspen trees start to turn green as high season starts all over right about Memorial Day.  There’s biking, hiking, jogging, swimming, white water rafting, hang gliding, fly fishing etc. etc. If all that activity is not your thing there’s the Food and Wine Classic or Aspen Music Festival.

Jerome Lobby

Jerome Lobby

They’re both world class events.  There’s art galleries for all types of art in all the price ranges.  Then of course, there’s the designer shops and non-designer ones.  Aspen is one of the best places to find authentic cowboy boots and hats.  Kemosabe is the place.  They’re not inexpensive but the ones you buy here are for life.  All this activity is going to make you

Summertime at The Nell

Summertime at The Nell

hungry and this city is one that takes dining out seriously.  Finally there’s the air.  At 8000 feet it’s so clean that inhaling it is similar to the subtle lift you get when you drink Smart

Glamour in the Rockies

Glamour in the Rockies

Water.  Where will you stay?  There are three luxury hotels.  Little Nell, Aspen’s first “luxe” hotel, is at the base of Ajax Mountain and has one of the best restaurants for lunch, Ajax Tavern. The St. Regis down the block is the most glamorous and has undoubtingly the best spa.  Lastly, there’s the Jerome, and of the three it’s the most authentic in feeling.The detail of workmanship combined with style makes staying here a unique experience.  Check out our Aspen guide. You can get the rates and make reservations instantly.  After you’ve done that check our dining tab where you can even see the menus at some of the best restaurants in the Rockies.  There’s other tabs for shopping and things to do that even include night life.



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