Tuesday, April 21, 2015

24 Hours at the Villa Arcadio - Lake Garda

Nestled on the real bottom of Lake Garda, in the town of Salò, the Villa Arcadio is located in one of my favorite regions of Italy - Lombardy! Not only famous for its excellent scenery, lakes, cities, no - also because of its excellent food, especially Pasta and Risotto (That's something I learned in Milan.). Although we were driving towards Brescia, away from the lakeside, we never missed the Lago di Garda - you are looking towards the lake from everywhere in the villa. After driving up the driveway, we immediately arrived at the Villa Arcadio. This means the hotel is near the main street, which can cause some noise on the pool. We were greeted by the two very quiet and well-behaved house dogs and one nice front desk lady. 
Check-in went really smooth, without even asking to do the paperwork (she just collected our passports) and within 5 minutes we were standing in our Junior Suite, flashed by the amazing 90 degree views of the lake, the town and the hills surrounding Lago di Garda. The rooms are mostly on the cozy side - that's the reason why there is no real open living room nor a sofa inside our Junior Suite. There is also a higher category in the house, the Suite with separate living- and bedroom - honestly we haven't spent much time inside our room as the lake is one of the most wonderful in Europe and Lombardy has got a lot to see, eg. Lago di Iseo, Brescia and Bergamo or you change regions and head to Verona and the other side of the lake - being in Veneto. So, get out of bed and discover Bella Italia!
As already mentioned, our Junior Suite had lake view, but otherwise the room was designed in a minimalistic style, offering two lounge chairs, one writing desk with television (many TV channels in german and some english ones), a minibar with affordable prices and a comfy King bed. The bathroom was generous, although it only had a walk-in shower and no tub. Toiletries were not branded ones, although not bad ones - with olive oil of Tuscany. A personal wish of mine would have been a working air condition - I guess they turned it off due to low season (normally it is not that hot in April, but the room was under the roof and pretty hot during the sunshine all day).
The pool looks really nice on the pictures, so I did expect a slightly differently prepared garden: Unfortunately the lawn wasn't mowed, which is not a problem at all - it would have looked lovelier while enjoying the amazing lake views from the infinity pool. Another issue was that we couldn't find a towel at the pool - which was because the hotel was still in low season and not yet operating full. The pool is opened from April to October but is not heated, so you need to be really tough when you want to swim in April or early May! We weren't as tough as we were at the Arts Barcelona - maybe because it was already 5 pm, although it still had 23 degrees celsius. 
Dinner and breakfast are served in the wonderful dining rooms just next to the pool and the bar and the lake view terrace. We had a wonderful evening with excellent dishes, from a wonderful amuse bouche to classical italian "Battuta" (kind of steak tartare), scallops carpaccio and risotto of broccoli and parmesan cheese. Furthermore we had sole with spinach (I'm not into spinach) and excellent sorbet of grapefruit.For wine pairing we had an excellent wine from the nearby Valpolicella. Throughout the evening we had two servers who where very kind and attentive, always willing to offer everything we desired. Breakfast was taken on the terrace and we could choose from a selection on the buffet (typical italian with homemade bread) and a menu with egg meals. We took scrambled eggs and omelette, which was both very good. It's hard to beat an italian cappuccino!
Although the dinner was truly excellent, everyone is so welcoming and personal and the Villa represents completely my taste of Interior Style with CasaMilano furniture, the true highlight simply was the hotel's own "Riva Aquarama Special". Having had an appointment at 11 am, we left the hotel 10 minutes before to arrive on time in the center of Salò. As soon as our driver arrived, he began driving the very elegant wooden motor yacht. Our tour started with a view of the pedestrian area of Salo then we drove along the western side of Lake Garda until we arrived in Gardone Riviera. From there we could spot the Grand hotels of this famous tourist town. Soon after we were driving further up north to Gargnano where our skipper showed us the world famous Grand Hotel e Villa Feltrinelli - home to superstars and upscale celebrities such as George Clooney. From there we crossed the whole lake and after 20 minutes we reached the east side of the lake. There was a old villa and another ancient hotel with a wonderful café. Before our tour came to an end, we passed by a private owned island with an impressive and totally chic luxury villa. It was a really special experience and I would say THE top reason to choose Villa Arcadio for your next trip to Lago di Garda.
Personally, we would like to recommend the Villa Arcadio to everyone seeking for a perfect luxury hideaway with a truly personal touch and real costumer care. While it is just that perfect for couples and single travelers, we can imagine that children can be bored easily(According to one of our readers Villa Arcadio is truly child-friendly and perfect for families as well).
We were guests of the Villa Arcadio. All our reviews expresses as always our own opinion. We would like to thank the owner Mrs. Jaana Nakari for the generous invitation and the wonderful stay.

Monday, April 6, 2015

24 Hours at the Stanglwirt, Kitzbühel

What the Hotel Byblos is for Saint Tropez, the Stanglwirt is for Kitzbühel. Situated on the bottom of the Wilder Kaiser mountain range, the Stanglwirt boasts an excellent view of one of the most amazing mountains in Austria. After a personal greeting with an excellent glass of rose sparkling wine, we immediately felt home. Inside the vast bar area, there are huge windows overlooking the horse riding hall - a truly unique facility of this hotel. After we finished our welcome drink, the nice front desk lady Helga accompanied us to our suites. As a surprise of the house we got one large Junior Suite and an even more amazing Sonnen Suite. 

Both, the Junior as well as the Sonnen Suite had a separate living and sleeping room with a wonderful marble bathroom, walk-in wardrobe, fire place and balcony overlooking the "Kaiser Gebirge". While the Junior Suite was equipped with a jacuzzi with glass windows into the bedroom, the view was going to the mountains and towards the spa. As one of the largest suites in the whole resort, the Sonnen Suite was truly breath-taking, offering 180 degrees views of Going, the Kitzbühler Horn, the Kaisergebirge and the resort. Furthermore the living room was very large, like the bathroom was. 

Firstly I would like to point out the Nespresso coffee machine with four capsules free of charge, which is truly amazing - although it is only available in the Imperial Suites. In addition to my perfect morning coffee, we received a very warm turndown gift - a platter of homemade pralines.  The toiletries were by Pure Herbs, a pretty common line in the Tyrollean hospitality. I could imagine that Bulgari or Blaise Mautin amenities would be way better in these luxurious bathrooms. The beds were extremely comfortable and unusually huge for Austrian standards (in size of length and broad). 

Unfortunately we had to experience that the dinner is not that amazing as the rest of the Stanglwirt. While the quality of the food at lunch was relatively good, the offered Gourmet Menu was kind of disappointing for the price and category of the resort. The scallops did just taste like coating and the real taste of the scallops didn't get through. From our point of view the lobster was not delicate. The side dishes were quite good and the service average. You, as a guest, could feel the cold atmosphere the staff members have to each other. The first two courses were not served, instead they were available to pick up at the buffet - which didn't really disturb us. 

After a heavenly night, we went for breakfast. My first believe was that I should have better ordered in-room breakfast in our amazing suite with this amazing view. For a few seconds, nobody was there to lead us to an available table - our table of last night was occupied due to a birthday celebration. So the restaurant manager himself - showed us to an available table between the service office, hallway and buffet. Not really bright and relaxing. Surprisingly the buffet area was full of other guests, and I felt like in a all-inclusive club in Turkey or Egypt (although I have never stayed at such, just imaging how it would be!). Nevertheless the buffet was huge and the quality of the products was excellent. They offered an open kitchen where someone can order eggs, pancakes and crepes. Our coffee was good as well and although the restaurant was way too overcrowded there was always a staff member around to clean our table, bring fresh coffee and pick up dirty plates.

Again (like at the Stock Resort), the highlight of our stay was the amazingly vast Wellness and Spa area, spreading over 12.000 square meters. Offering everything a discerning luxury traveller like us could wish: refreshing 25 meter sport pool, a vast 200sqm sole pool at 38 degrees celsius, a really cold mountain lake next to the sauna, as well as a indoor mountain pool with a connection to an outdoor swimming area. I can proudly say that this is the most spectacular wellness area in the Tyrol and definitely one of the coolest in Austria! Made out of real stone of the Kaisergebirge, the spa completely represents the local area.

My favorite place was the hot outdoor sole pool with waterproof pillows on top of the underwater loungers - I could have stayed forever. We didn't have time to book a treatment, but we made it to each and every sauna and steam bath - and there are plenty of them! From 30 degrees to 110 degrees celsius, the Spa of the Stanglwirt meets really every guest's taste.
We were guests of the Hauser Family and the Hotel Stanglwirt. All above written expresses our point of view and has not been influenced.