Saturday, September 20, 2014

72 Hours at the Hotel Il Pellicano

First of all I have to admit: the Il Pellicano is on every luxury taveler's top list. So of course I had certain (high) expectations and of course I was preparing myself for the stay by reading some reviews of recent guests on tripadvisor. Due to the fact that a very bad review of 2014 showed up, I immediately contacted the hotel not to get a room in a cottage. 

As mentioned on the previous post, we were staying in the luxurious, yet more romantic, Il Salviatino above the majestic city Florence - by the way my favourite place in Italy! After a two hours drive through the Chianti and Maremma regions we finally ended up driving a winding country road from the unspectacular Porto Ercole to the amazingly located Il Pellicano. The iron gates opened and we entered a very different world. A very nice lady greeted us, checked us in and offered a glass of ice tea. After a few minutes, one golf cart finally arrived and brought us to our cottage (Right, I did NOT get a room in the main building!!!). 

The room was really really small for a beach resort and also very dark. The only highlight of our room itself was the very huge garden and the half meters of sea view. Inside the bathroom, the smallest and narrowest I have experienced all summer long (where I mainly stayed at Leading Hotels) there was a shower without any glass door nor a curtain. It might look nice but after using it, the whole floor was under water and the toilet was full of water, too! The bathroom toiletries were quite nice, but remember more like medicine than a fresh summer breeze. Also the wardrobe made a very used impression and did not invite us to put our things inside. I would have wished to find a welcome present like a wine or something like that. 

We really appreciated the fact that all soft drinks and snacks from the minibar were free of charge, they refilled it every day and the products were of high quality and very generously filled. They have excellent lemonades, chips, nuts and chocolate. I also feel that the housekeeping does a good job and they are very correct, towels and amenities have been replaced twice a day. We had also a loggia next to the garden with two chairs and a table as well as two sun beds in the garden. We were really spoilt by the excellent beds of Il Salviatino, so we did not like the pillows and the sheets of Il Pellicano. In my opinion they should offer a pillow menu or duvet sheets!

On the first morning we all got surprised when we wanted to have breakfast. The whole terrace was full and we had to wait 15 minutes. It was no problem at all because they served capuccino and we could have had the possibility to eat inside. Personally, the buffet was of high quality (except the Mozzarella), the omlettes excellent and the service very kind and attentive. 

After breakfast we were ready to discover the resort and its facilities. One highlight was the beach with complimentary refreshments twice a day and excellent cocktails. The sun beds are quite comfortable and the staff was also very helpful. When we experienced that the entrance to the beach costs 95 Euros per Person for non-hotel guests we were quite shoked. If you think that the most famous beach in Europe, the Monte Carlo Beach, charges 100 Euros per Person/Day, then you might know that this hotel is likely to overcharge you.

When the sun was gone, we visited the pool. They have a generously sized salt water pool with breath-taking views of the Mediterranean Sea. They have towel service and lifeguards as well. In addition to these facilities we tried the hairdresser in the Spa. He was very efficient, but again 50 Euros for just 30 minutes is simply overpriced. The gym is on the small side but therefore equiptment is by TechnoGym.

We also had dinner in the PelliGrill Restaurant one day. The experience was very good and the food delicious as it should be for this kind of restaurant. We had a very special wine from Giglio in addition to excellent Octopus Salad and Lemon Risotto. The service could have been a bit more attentive but otherwise this experience was worth its price. When we did not dine in the hotel we got excellent restaurant recommendations by Alessia (She was wonderful and so kind, like the lady who spoke German - sorry for forgetting the name)!

In fact it is a elegant seaside hotel with an elderly aged clientele and high prices but high class service, well maintained rooms and suites as well as a excellent location for everyone seeking for nature and remoteness. Don't expect Porto Ercole to be like Portofino - it is a silent place.

I can rate this hotel with only 7,5 points out of 10 because I find it very rude, not to accept guest requests and furthermore it is inexcusable to offer such a room for a standard rate of 790 Euros per night in high season.

We would like to thank Kiwi Collection ( for providing us with such a special price. The Hotel Il Pellicano has not sponsored this review in any way. 
Our above written review is our personal opinion and hasn't been influenced.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

24 hours @ Il Salviatino

As a short stop between Innsbruck and Porto Ercole (Il Pellicano) we stayed in the luxurious five-star-hotel "Il Salviatino" in Florence, Italy.
Upon arrival we were already expected with a friendly smile and a delicious rosé sparkling wine. Due to the fact that the rooms weren't ready yet, the kind front desk employee accomapnied us to the terrace and explained us some facts about the city Florence.  

After we came back from the sightseeing-tour we were shown to our rooms, wich were quite beautiful and very generous. The only downsite has beed the very used floor in the shower, but otherwise the bathroom was quite beautiful with an old English basin, fresh flowers, seperated toilet and bidet, walk-in shower with rainshower head. The best part were the heavenly twin beds and the high-definition TV wich is built into the mirror with a big choice of international channels. When we experienced that they also offer free shoe shine service, we tried it out and after only two hours all three pairs were proper. 

Due to the fact that we expected three large pools we were kind of disappointed when we arrived at the pool area and recognized that it also could be one average pool. The view is also not that spectacular but therefore it is really silent and the pool service was attentive, too. Afterwards we wanted to visit the spa. The kind lady showed us one Spa Suite, which looked really generous with a free standing tub, a shiatsu bed and two massage beds as well as a changing area with steam bath. They also offer a fine selection of Men Treatments. 

Another highlight was the beautiful garden infront of the hotel. It was romantically designed with rose trees, other flowers and two fountains. In the evening they lit up the alley to the hotel with white candels.
A perfect place for a honeymoon or a romantic holiday for just the two of you!

Our stay at the Il Salvuatino was not sponsored. We came up to the whole expenses by ourselfs.
Our above written review is our personal opinion and hasn't been influenced.

written by:

Lukas Spendler - Beverage Executive

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

24 Hours at the Hotel La Mirande, Avignon

First of all, YES, La Mirande in Avignon is extremely expensive. And YES for 490,00€ per night in a simple Double Room, you could stay at the Corinthia London or the Plaza in New York. That's a part I do not understand either, but it is not something I can decide.

On the other side, if you think honestly, you are staying in front of, or better, inside the world famous and spectacular Pope's Palace of Avignon. And that's something you can't get in New York or London or even in Rome. By the way, this is also what I would describe as a Unique Hotel.

First of all, you should know that arriving by car is NOT a good idea. The street becomes extremely narrow and if you are travelling alone it gets even more stressful. Finally when we arrived in front of the Pope's Palace we also recognized the La Mirande, and were already awaited by the bellmen, the front desk staff and the Sales Manager what I found quite welcoming. Check-in was smooth although I found it incorrect not to inform you that breakfast is extra at 28.00€ per person (I will come on this issue later)!

The room, a Grand Deluxe Room, was overlooking the Pope's Palace, and was situated on the second floor in the main building. The beds were quite comfortable as the whole room furnitures. I found the carpet a bit uncomfortable but this is just a small issue. The bathroom was very well maintained with a huge seperated toilet, double basins and a tub with a shower head - something I do not like in fact. BUT the luxurious toiletries by Guerlain came up to it all!

We wanted to make a dinner reservation, but our favourite restaurant was closed on Monday, so we asked the receptionist for an alternative. Unfortunately the choice did not meet our expectations and the standards of the hotel in general. For all those who do not want to leave the hotel for dinner, they have an amazing michelin-starred restaurant in the old cardinals room dating back to the Renaissance century - just in case you do not know on where to spend your money (the menu costs 111 Euros per person)!

After a glamorous sleep in the old guest house of the Popes, we were ready to have breakfast. Unfortunately, the breakfast made not the impression to be ready for us: This was the worst breakfast I HAD to experience during my whole three week summer holidays, where I only stayed at worldclass properties. It is a real shame to charge 28.00 euros for such a lousy buffet like at the La Mirande Avignon. The Baguette was not replaced after I finished it at 9.00 am, when the orange juice was finished it was also not replaced, no eggs were offered nor were we asked if we want to have some egg dishes, and the staff never smiled, although our server was called "Angel" by the other staff members. Always when I remember on this situation I get a bit angry, this was one of the worst ivestments I have ever made!

All in all I fell in love with the design, the atmosphere and the location of the hotel, but definitely NOT with the breakfast! Next time I will look for an excellent French Café where I will pay at least 10€ for a full breakfast.

Our stay at the La Mirande Avignon was sponsored by the hotel, but we had to come up for all extra expenses by ourselfs. Our above written review is our personal opinion and hasn't been influenced.

Monday, September 8, 2014

48 Hours at the Terre Blanche Resort, Provence

To be honest, I was a bit scared that the resort is no longer managed by Four Seasons (I also had bad experience with it in Budapest). Luckily I could recognize that this was just a bad illusion of me. When we arrived everyone from the bellmen greeted us friendly, took care of the luggage and the car and accompanied us to the Lobby where we were welcomed by Claire and her colleague (which name I do not know, sorry for this!). Check-in was excellent and also the welcome tour was informative and smooth.

Afterwards we were driven to our Suite (1812), a Deluxe Suite with terrace, living room, separate bedroom, bathroom ensuite and walk-in wardrobe. I was so lucky that I received a Suite with amazing views of Fayence and its landscape. The whole suite was flooded by daylight, even the bathroom was overlooking the countryside. I love the toiletries which are especially created by Fragonard for the Terre Blanche Resort. The beds were amazingly comfortble (of course it was still the Four Seasons Bed) and also the Housekeeping and Turndown Service was perfect as it should be for a hotel of this caliber. Our terrace was already bedded and offered two sunbeds with two chairs and a dining table beside. Also, the televisions were quite qood and I much appreciated the Bose iPhone Docking Station.

As we wanted to discover the countryside we decided to have dinner in a restaurant outside the hotel. Unfortunately I forgot that it was Saturday and all nearby restaurants were fully booked, but the amazing Concierge Eladia was so kind and organized a table for us in an excellent restaurant (Le Catellaras) 15 minutes away. It was a truly magnificent experience and fully met our expectations concerning the French Haute Cuisine. At the second evening she recommended the Nearby Restaurant Table d'Yves, which was more casual and therefore perfect again!

At breakfast we had the pleasure to be served by Emelie, who was truly kind and always made us welcome every morning. When the day starts in such an excellent way, there is no possibility to end in a bad way. She even remembered which coffee we want and what kind of eggs. This was truly amazing, so we always tried to sit in the area where Emelie was working to receive such an excellent service every day. 

The Spa is situated a bit hidden on the half way from the entrance gate, which is controlled like a G8-peak meeting, and the main building where the lobby and the front desk is situated. The indoor pool is very huge and there is also a very warm vitality pool in the middle of a typical Provencial garden. Beside the pool there is also a Spa Restaurant, a small fitness centre, an area with sauna, steam bath and relaxation room as well as lots of treatment rooms and impressive Spa Suites on the first floor of the Spa building. By the way, the spa is accessible by walking from the main building within 5 minutes or by Golf Cart, that's also how you can access your suites all day.

Unfortunately all dreams have an end, so I had to leave to go to Avignon. I won't forget this luxurious resort and will try to come back soon. A very special thanks to Mrs. Ripoll for the informative and nice tour around the resort and the Management of the Terre Blanche Resort, as well as all the staff members for being so friendly and helpful.

The Terre Blanche Resort provided us a special rate, due to the fact it was high season. All extra expenses were charged as full. Our above written review is our personal opinion and hasn't been influenced.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

24 Hours at the Majestic Barriere Hotel

I arrived to this hotel without any expectations as I had a rateof 75€ per night for a Two Bedroom Deluxe Suite, which would normally cost approximately 3.000€ per night. Of course breakfast was included. As always you have some second thoughts if they do not accept this rate, so it is always better to ask experts. So did I and insisted to get the Suite at the booked rate. 

At arrival we were warmly welcomed and accompanied to the Lobby. After check-in, which was very fast and kind, I was greeted by the Asisstant Manager and told that the room was ready at 2.00 pm. So we went to the Rue Antibes, the more affordable option to the La Croisette.

When I returned to the hotel at 4.00 pm I was asked for a confirmation and a very kind front desk employee showed me to the luxurious Suite. Unfortunately it was an old Suite and not like expected in the new part of the hotel, but who is discerning at this unbelievable rate? After a few minutes we got a tray of welcome amenities including Macarons, Chocolate, bottled water, apple juice and a fruit plate. The view was so impreesive that we bought some food in a local goods shop and had dinner on one of the most impressive terraces we have ever stayed at, of course with Lounge Music from the Fouquet's Restaurant and beside the breath-taking views over La Croisette and the Palais de la Festival. This might sound like a Fairytale ... in fact it was supposed to be the highlight of the trip (which was topped by the lovely and superb Byblos Saint Tropez)!

The music got more silent around 11.00 pm and when we went to bed at midnight there was nearly mo noise from the terrace on the pool.

The suite itself was about 90 square metres with two bedrooms, both with spacious bathrooms ensuite and of course sea view terraces, too. The bathroom was really old-fashioned with only two large towels, hotel-own toiletries and a very small toilet room where you had to keep the door open while seating on the toilet. The worst of all was, that turndown-service has been forgotten and when they came, after I called them, they just brought chocolates and put the bed in correct order - no water, nor did they replace the towels or toiletries.

Breakfast was very disappointing for this kind of category, the normal price, reputation and location. The breakfast is served until 10.30 am but the buffet was not replaced although there were still many guest in the restaurant at 10.45. This would have been a nice touch. 

When we checked out we received a totally correct bill and a very competent female staff (sorry I did not see the name tag) was doing the check out. The bellmen did a great job and were very kind, too.

In fact it was a really great experience but when I have to pay the normal price, I would insist to get a new room or stay at another Luxury Hotel on the Croisette.

Anyhow I would like to thank the Management of the Majestic Barriere Hotel for the nice amenities, the warm welcome and hosting me at this special price. Our above written review is our personal opinion and hasn't been influenced.