Friday, August 30, 2013

Travel Diary: My Summer holidays Part 5

Day 3 at San Domenico Palace! Just one night left and the hotel turned out to be a rip-off! Although the staff is very nice, kind and attentive, they seem to act a bit unprofessional. At first sight, this hotel looks realy great, but if you take a deeper look inside my room, you immediately feel that this hotel has had it's best days, a long time ago!

Everywhere you look, you see used furniture and even the walls look used and dirty. The carpet floor was maybe not refurbished the last 5 years, so here it is really hard work to seek and find a Leading Hotel of the world!

The floors smell bad like a church, the room is dark, old and used, breakfast terrace has a beautiful view to the sea, but the feeling of relaxing is completely destroyed by a plague of bees and mosquitos. Furthermore the pool is old fashioned and uninviting and the worst of all: 

The use of the business center/computer costs 0,35€ per minute and printing ONE piece of paper costs another 0,35€!! HAHA it is just amusing!

Okay, they want to serve the 19th century but guests expect the services of the 21st century! 

There is also no free water at the turndown service, which is not the standard of a Leading Hotel! 

This hotel and especially the room turns me off! I never want to become manager of this old-fashioned hotel, which is just expensive and no way worth the price! There needs a lot of money to be invested in San Domenico Palace Hotel.

Yesterday I went to Syracusa, Modica, Noto and Ragusa. The most beautiful part was Syracusa (picture above), with the peninsula Ortigia. There is an excellent restaurant called Regina Lucia, directly on the main square, which should not be missed when in Ortigia. 

Today I am want to go to the Mount Etna, as well as to Catania, lets see if the weather gets better than now. Otherwise I will enjoy Taormina with all its beauty.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Travel Diary: My Summer holidays Part 4

Finally after another day of travelling we arrived at our most Southern Place to stay, in Taormina on the island of Sicily! It is a wonderful island, with lots of palms and olive trees! 

I just checked in at the more-than-old San Domenico Palace Hotel in Taormina, which is beautifully situated in the Front row of this picturesque town!

The hotel itself is not a "Leading Hotel of the world" for me at first sight! Everything is really old and the pool, where I am just trying to relax is more than sad! There is one guy just sitting and waiting for guests. When someone arrives he is just giving a towel and that's it!

The room is old and does look like the part of the building where we are staying - unfriendly and dirty! This is not the place where I am relaxing. I cannot even await my departure, to leave this place!

Hopefully everything changes after the night, like at the Capo la Gala Hotel!

Best regards, Daniel

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Travel Diary: My Summer holidays Part 3

My second week of travelling through the very Southern Italy and I am still very impressed of the beauty of the Amalfi Coast! Now I am on the way to Calabria and I just left the Peninsula of Sorrento, Vico Equense and the Capo La Gala hotel!

The hotel itself did a small change from the morning after my last blog entry! The requested and promised Lorenzo Villoresi toiletries were not in the room, but after I asked one of the super-friendly front office ladies, she immediately called all departments to get me the last products they could find! To top this service she also gave us a restaurant recommendation for a really wow-experience- we had the best dinner with locals only during this week!

The room itself was bright, with sea view window, comfy bed and nice bathroom with very small and old-smelling Palais Jamais Etro toiletries!

Furthermore there is a Spa with indoor pool, which is beautifully designed but not good managed (empty Ortigia soaps and terrible smell of dirty water in the corner o the relaxing room), as well as very nice Carthusia toiletries if you book a Prestige room or a suite! I do not like these hotels which make two-class system with the toiletries, this gives me more the feeling of a cheap hotel than a five-star property, but the front desk told me that they will have Carthusia everywhere soon! Again I have to mention the four ladies at the front desk, who are more than very helpful and they are so friendly - they greeted us like friends!

The breakast is a nice Buffet of a 5-star hotel and the service is friendly.

Although they try to be luxury in some aspects, which have to be improved for this price category, they get 8 Points out of 10 for one of the best front office staff I've ever had as a hotel guest!

Yesterday I had a great day in Capri! I went there with the Speed Ferry from Sorrento and experienced one of the most beautiful islands I've ever been! The streets are narrow and you can find every world-famous Designer you can imagine: there is a Prada store next to the funicular, a Louis Vuitton shop in the luxury shopping street and of course the Carthusia factory with the factory store around the corner - a MUST for every Capri visitor!

I have bought a nice 50ml perfume called 1689, which is a great male perfume mix by Carthusia! The price was 55 Euros for 50ml, which is not too overpriced for a nice holiday souvenier! Afterwards I strolled into the shop of the famous Qvisisana Palace, where they have beautiful accessoires in cool beige and brown colours.

After the shopping tour I passed by a very chic restaurant called Edodè, which serves excellent sea food! The only problem or shok for me was the service charge of 14 Euros!!! It was a nice lunch, but not really worth such high obligatory tip or service charge!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Travel Diary: My Summer holidays Part 2

Finally, after two days of sightseeing in Amalfi and Positano, we finally arrived at our last Property on the Amalfi Coast, which is the Capo la Gala Resort near Sorrento. I have to say one thing first: 

This hotel is a "luxe-wannabe" which means it is supposed to be one of the best hotels in Italy (like their website shows!) - in fact it is not! The very exlusive and unique toiletries of Lorenzo Villoresi (which should be in the room, as the website says!) were replaced by 30ml Etro Palais Jamais ones! They do not even have a Hair Conditioner!

Next, as we always got upgraded in all three deluxe hotels where we stayed before, we just got that room we booked, not even a balcony room!

The extra bed is not what I expected for 80 Euros, much more different from which I have experienced during these days and the pool shows up some not nice chemicals on top, as it is no floating pool!

Uuuuh that was my first impression, and as you might now: the first impression counts!! 

Good luck to Capo la Gala to show improvement the next four days!

Have a nice weekend, Daniel!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Travel Diary: My Summer holidays Part 1

It is more than wonderful at the place where I am relaxing now. In fact it is the Costiera Amalfitana, I would say THE most beautiful place in Italy. To be more correct, I am sunbathing at the world famous and often renowned Santa Caterina Property. The Condé Nast Traveller rated this hotel as the 20th best hotel in the Gold List Worldwide, and I can only proof this fact! The staff is wonderful, from the beginning everyone speaks to you by your last name and they know every wish you have. This is just the place to be, I felt never better and I can proudly say that I am as relaxed as at the 1000-Dollar-per-night Reethi Rah Resort in the Maldives. 

I even got a Double-Upgrade to a marvellous Deluxe Room with separate living room and unbelievable sea view and even better views of the town of Amalfi! The breakfast today morning was more than spectacular as the views were. The service is excellent, wherever you look!

They have a complimentary shuttle service to the town of Amalfi every 30 minutes, but it only runs unil 6.30 pm., which is really bad if you want to dine in the town!

Before I arrived at this super-luxe Hideaway in Amalfi, I was staying at the Villa Tolomei in Florence: 2 kilometres outside of Florence! We were also uprgaded to a Junior Suite, which was very nice and everything was completely new! The service there was also good, but not to compare with the Santa Caterina here in Amalfi, these hotels are completely different, although they both have 5-stars. 

Tomorrow I am going to the more picturesque town of Positano, which should be even nicer than Amalfi, but let's see. If you want to top your stay at the Santa Caterina, then you should upgrade yourself to the Le Sirenuse in Positano, where you can really Hide-away! I wanted to try a different hotel, which is called Il Marincanto. I am very exited of the views there and I will be back in two days!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Where Romeo meets Julia in a hip way!

Welcome to the Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista!

My travel advice for an extended summer holiday: Spend some hip days in Verona and find some bargains in North Italy's factory outlets. 

The Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista is an old Villa with hip and modern furnitures and a lot of art and design, everywhere you look. To be sure in advance - this is not a place for children! The paintings of naked woman and men will not be everyone's taste, but if you do not mind for an extra portion of art, then the Villa Amista is the perfect place to keep your mind in peace with you.

The rooms are not that small, although we got uprgaded to a Deluxe Room. The Deluxe room was located in the Garden wing, and therefore we had a really nice ceiling with lots of paintings. The room itself was really tastefully designed, while the bathroom reminded me of a normal 5-star property in Italy - no design or anything modern! 

The bathroom toiletries were terrible, not only the fact that they were no-name ones, also the smell was more like chemical as relaxing. When you take a look, it says they were made in Spain, so not even an Italian Product. 

The Lobby is one of the most beautiful places in the house and is also the meeting point for everyone. From here you can go to the rooms, to the reception, to the outdoor pool, or you can have a drink at the bar.

The spa on the Basement was used to be managed by Henri Chenot a few years ago, and today it is a kind of city spa - nothing special and really small. They use Byblos Products and the jacuzzi looks very crowded if there are more than 4 people in it. The sauna and steam bath en-suite are also nice and the fitness center is situated in a private pavillon, which looks really cool, although it is not large, too.

The Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista is a nice place to stay during a city trip in Verona or Touring the Outlets of Northern Italy! Rooms are available from 200 Euros per night and room including a lavish buffet breakfast!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Insider's Getaway - Prague Summary

My last seven weeks in one of Europe's most beautiful city were great! As you should always quit when it isbest, I will leave Prague this Friday to go back to Austria.

During my time in Prague I tested some of Prague's best restaurants and places and I also showed them to you on my last two Restaurant-Checks. Today, I will present you my absolute favourite places in Prague - a small Summary so to say!

1. Cotto Crudo (the following three pictures)
First of all my new favourite restaurant is the new CottoCrudo at the Four Seasons Hotel. Of course that may sound strange, but it is not so much more expensive than other mid-range italian restaurants in Prague. I had excellent Vitello Tonnato (also better than in some Restaurants in Italy) and afterwards Saffron Risotto at its finest. I had no space for any dessert, but I got some housemade Cantuccis free of charge. The service? Four Seasons! Do I really have to say more? It could not be better. At nearly 1000 CZK for Dinner-for-one not cheap but well worth.
If you have reserved in advance or you're only lucky, get some tables with castle view!!

 2. The Café Savoy (the next three pictures)
Wow, this was my place to relax in the evenings and to wake-up in the mornings. I had nearly every weekend breakfast at this place. The Savoy breakfast is not only very good by Prague standards it is also cheap - at about 150 CZK per person. The fresh orange juice is seperte at 88 CZK. If you are here, try the famous "Dort Savoy" - the Savoy Cake - you won't be disappointed. It is definitely one of the best cakes, I've ever had. The Café Savoy is also a place to have a late-night drink with friends. Just go there whenever you like and whenever you are in this area.

3. Cantinetta Fiorentina (picture below)
I always went to this place when I was seeking for holidays. Whenever I was sitting inside or on the glamerous Pariska street, this nice restaurant reminded me of a real Fiorentine Cantinetta, like it can be found in rural Tuscany. This restaurant is not just look-alike-fake. No, it also offers the best bread and olive oil in an italian restaurant in Prague. If we talk about the bill, I have to be honest and I should mention that the Pariska street is simply THE most expensive part in town, so are the prices and of course the guests!

Last but not least my favourite place to hang around and spend the lazy Sundays:

4. Boscolo Wellness & Spa Prague
When the life of being a single really sucked, I went there to sleep this lazy day away! I was clever enough not to pay these high prices for the average treatments, so I booked a special offer through my Special City Concierge Lime & Tonic, and I immediately got the treatments for at least 30-40% cheaper. The staff is very attentive and very kind. They greet you warmely and you feel welcome from the first moment. The pool is the largest I've seen in a Hotel Spa in Prague and is not cold at 28°.

If you want to have more tips or hints of if you want to know anything about Prague, please do not hesitate to contact me:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Insider's Getaway - a Weekend in Florence

Its summer at its best and when else should you make holidays - if not now? 

One of my favourite places to be on this planet is the beautiful Tuscany in Italy. That's the reason why I would like to invite you to a small trip through the capital of this magnificent region.

1. Florence is one of Italy's largest cities and therefore very famous for its food and beverages. The most famous wine is the Chianti, which grows about 10 km south of Florence. The most famous dish in Florence is of course "La Bistecca Fiorentina" - the T-Bone Steak Florentine Style. Although you have to be a large group of people to eat this kind of meat, this is one of my favourite dishes. The best place to try such fabulous Bistecca is the Ristorante Da Delfina in the picturesque town of Artimino, about 20 minutes south-west of Florence.

2. For all of you who thibk Florence is just well known for its Renaissance buildings, arts and food: One of the worlds most famous and oldest pharmacies is located on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, just between the main station and the Piazza Duomo. The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is a museum and beauty store in one building, which should not be missed by beauty friends.

3. If you are seeking for a masterpiece of Florentine perfume, then head on to Lorenzo Villoresi, Ortigia or Dr. Vranjes. If you cannot effort these high-price waters, you should just walk-in in these flagship-stores of Ortigia and Dr. Vranjes - it is really worth a visit!

4. Wanted ever to visit the world famous "Uffizi" Gallery. Oh yeah, it is really worth waiting. Although there is a fast-speed access via Online booking, you still have to wait in a queue to get your tickets. Skip the line at Uffizi Gallery

5. Stay like a Florentine Nomad at the Lungarno Collection Hotels. If you checked in at one of the four Florence properties and you do not feel 100 percent authentic, then take a shower with real Salvatorre Ferragamo "Tuscan Soul" amenities and you will immediately know where you are. Room rates start at 140.00 euros at the Gallery Art Hotel.