The Luxury Collection Debuts in Spain’s Enthralling Capital

Santo Mauro, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Madrid offers global explorers immersive luxury in the heart of the city

The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of 30 extraordinary hotel brands, has announced the opening of Santo Mauro, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Madrid, marking The Luxury Collection’s debut in the fabled city.

Located in the traditional aristocratic district of Chamberí, the hotel serves as a gateway to Madrid’s most exciting and desirable experiences and is just steps away from an array of cultural attractions, including the Sorolla Museum, charming flamenco shows at the Teatros del Canal and Andén 0 Metro Station, an exhibition space in a restored tube station. The historic building, with an intriguing past dating back to the 18th century, served as the former residence of the Duke of Santo Mauro.

An emblematic oasis in the heart of Madrid, the guestrooms, public areas, restaurants, and gardens have all undergone a thoughtful renovation. The property consists of three buildings surrounded by pristine gardens with centuries-old chestnut trees, all of which can be admired from the hotel’s enchanting garden terrace. Adorned with elegant custom furniture and art pieces, the 49-guestroom property features ten magnificent suites offering select outdoor balconies overlooking the hotel’s lush greenery.

Elevated Palatial Interiors
At the helm of the transformation, renowned interior designer Lorenzo Castillo, ensured the next chapter of the building’s journey honoured its Spanish heritage through stunning décor that reflects the hotel’s remarkable location in the heart of Madrid. Guests residing at the hotel will be enthralled by the opulent, clean design details as each renovated space provokes a sense of unparalleled authenticity.

The guestrooms have been refreshed with natural materials such as stone, marble and wood. Furnishings of plush leather, midnight blue velvet and silk have been introduced to bring a modern but elegant feel to the renovated palace. A colour palette of neutral earthy tones ensures a balance between traditional warmth and add a modern touch throughout the palatial guestrooms and suites.

Steeped in history, the hotel’s interiors evoke that of a Spanish noble house of the 18th century, which often saw styles of design collide. Eras effortlessly coexist, from the Georgian English Library complete with warm oak shelving, vibrant green and gold velvets to The Chinese Lounge displaying a graceful mix of oriental influences, with wall coverings and fabrics in different rich chinoiserie patterns. Sophisticated tones of black and gold lacquered furniture, and Qing Dynasty portraits adorn the walls throughout the property nodding to the decorative taste of the building’s illustrious past owners.

“Madrid is simultaneously a spirited, modern metropolis and a place of discovery imbued with the rich history of the Spanish capital,” said Philipp Weghmann, Vice President and Global Brand Leader, The Luxury Collection. “The destination is a natural fit for The Luxury Collection and our global explorers who seek immersive cultural experiences, and we cannot wait to welcome them at Santo Mauro, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Madrid.”

A True Epicurean Destination
A city of grand gastronomic culture, the hotel introduces acclaimed Chef Rafael Peña, who has honed his skills in some of the world’s best kitchens and owns his own popular restaurant, Gresca, in Barcelona. Rafael will take over the culinary concept at La Biblioteca and El Jardin and present menus inspired by the meals of noble houses with sensational tasting menus and dedicated offerings for the Spanish ritual of late breakfast and the afternoon snack ‘La Merienda’. As the name hints, La Biblioteca is home to treasured books and antiques, providing an inviting atmosphere of effortless sophistication to serve couples, families, friends, and groups alike.

Those looking for a more relaxed dining experience can unwind in El Jardin, the garden of Santo Mauro, which offers a stunning, new outdoor terrace. For after-dinner drinks, El Bar is the perfect spot to seek out serving cocktails and snacks designed to perfectly pair with each drink.

Wellness and Relaxation
This tranquil escape from the city comes complete with an indoor pool, perfect for those who want to unwind after a day of exploring Madrid’s bustling centre. A new spa and fitness area will debut as a part of the second phase of the renovations, which is set to commence in summer 2022.

Exceptional Meeting and Event Spaces
With the hotel’s grand architecture providing the perfect backdrop, Santo Mauro is poised to welcome all occasions from business meetings to special events with seven spaces to choose from. A part-outdoor event space is also set to be revealed in summer 2022.

Fairmont Maldives Unwraps Star Chef Line-up and EuropeanMichelin-Cuisine this Festive Season

Offering a tantalising tropical escape this festive season, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi will play host to three celebrated and Michelin-awarded chefs – Alexandre Demand, Mickael Viljanen and Alfredo Russo – each creating a bespoke degustation menu to be enjoyed exclusively by island guests throughout December and January.

Chef Alexandra Demard

Alexandre Demard
Dates: 23rd – 28th December (Azure) / 31st December (Kata)

One of France’s most sought-after chefs, Alexandre Demand is best known for spearheading menus at various Michelin-starred restaurants across the country. A graduate of the Paul Augier Hotel School in Nice, most recently Alexandre has been quietly pushing the boundaries of gastronomy atOxygen Dining Room in the Cross Chiang Mai Riverside Hotel in Thailand. Taking diners on a culinary journey with a twist, Demard creates a modern exploration of Thai food through a French perspective. For Demard, food is a “combination of creativity, respect for the produce, and a passion of flavours.”, a mantra that has won him numerous accolades, including a Michelin Plate.

Inviting guests to savour his Thai-inspired dishes, Demard will be serving up a six-course set menu at Fairmont’s Azure over Christmas and taking over Kata for a New Year’s Eve feast.

• £113 food supplement per person
• £75 wine pairing per person

Chef Mikael Viljanen

Mikael Viljanen
Dates: 29th December – 3rd January (Azure)

Joining Fairmont Maldives over New Year’s, Mickael Viljanen is one of only four chefs in Ireland to be awarded two Michelin stars. Celebrated for his sublime craft, technical precision, and masterful manipulation of flavours, Viljanen is the Chef-Patron of the multi-award-winning restaurant Chapter One in Dublin. Working in kitchens since he was 14, Mickael moved to Ireland in 2000 from Finland, where he grew up via France and the United Kingdom. Viljanen’s sophisticated cooking features stimulating flavour combinations and a nod to traditional Finnish dishes whilst placing seasonal Irish produce centre stage.

Guests of Fairmont Maldives can reign in the New Year and enjoy Mickael Viljanen’s elegant and complex creations with a six-course menu paired with fine wines from around the world, set in the Azure restaurant.

• £113 food supplement per person
• £75 wine pairing per person

Chef Alfredo Russo

Alfredo Russo
Dates: 10th – 15th January (Azure)

Bringing his culinary skillset to the Maldives in January, Alfredo Russo is one of Italy’s leading chefs. Utilising modern techniques, Russo’s cooking is strongly influenced by classic cuisine, local ingredients, and culinary trends, gaining him numerous accolades. Further to opening his first restaurant Dolce Stil Novo in 1990, he was recognised as the Best Young Italian Chef by the Espresso Guide in 2004 and has since earned a total of 27 Michelin Stars. His acclaimed kitchen and unique style have led to collaborations with celebrated restaurants, including Gran Hotel et de Milan, where he led the hotel in a new culinary direction and the publication of several cookery books. With five restaurants in his international portfolio, Russo has gained a global reputation, and his dishes are treasured by many.

Russo will take over the resort’s Azure restaurant in the New Year, creating a Michelin Star menu for guests to enjoy, alongside a selection of fine wines.

• £150 food supplement per person
• £113 wine pairing per person

Home to three epicurean restaurants, from ocean-fresh seafood at Azure and traditional Maldivian dishes at Raha to Japanese inspired cuisine at overwater dining destination Kata, Fairmont Maldives is a culinary destination in its own right. Set in the heart of the resort, laid-back cocktail bar Onu Onu is the perfect destination to sip on colourful concoctions as the sun sets over the azure water and, for a truly intimate experience, guests can enjoy a private dinner on the beach at starlight, accompanied by a soundtrack of lapping waves.

A Picture Perfect Christmas at Hotel Crillon Le Brave, Provence

Open for the First Time Over Christmas

Image: Hotel Crillon Le Brave © Mr. Tripper

Maisons Pariente has announced that it will be welcoming guests to Crillon Le Brave  this season, the property will open for Christmas and New Year for the first time providing a cosy Provencal getaway.

Located in the heart of Provence, Crillon Le Brave is the splendid 5-star hideaway reserved for guests who are disconnecting from city lights and fast paced life. The hotel is open to guests over Christmas and New Year to celebrate in pure luxury with loved ones without having a worry in the world.

Guests can enjoy a festive and New Year dinner at La Table du Ventoux, alongside a magic show for an evening of great surprises in the idyllic setting of Crillon le Brave. Surrounded by vineyards and breath-taking views, Hotel Crillon Le Brave offers a luxury, slow paced setting for a stay with the scents of Provence.

Nightly rates at Crillon Le Brave start from 350 Euros on a bed & breakfast basis.

The Next Generation of Donut

Reviewed & written by Mollie Kent

Urban Legend has launched a new guilt-free donut shop, allowing us all to indulge responsibly!

I got the opportunity to savour what puts the ‘legend’ into this new pop-up and how they have flourished and tapped into an audience of tastebud enthusiasts who enjoy sweet-tasting treats without worrying about unhealthy options. To put this into perspective, one of their donuts has the same amount of calories as a slice of buttered toast.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s all down to science as the team set out to make outrageously good donuts using all-natural ingredients and colours.
The creators at Urban Legend set about turning the tide on sugar and fat, using natural ingredients found in melons, pears, roots and leaves as alternatives to sugar, with donuts steamed. The bold colours are taken from plant and vegetable extracts – purple from beetroot, yellow from safflower etc. Every product is free from artificial preservatives, colours or flavours.

I visited the launch of their shop in BOXPARK Croydon, which was shortly followed by another store at Clapham Junction. These following the successful launch of their first shop in Brighton!
Being located right outside Croydon BOXPARK, this is the perfect stop on date night when you’re craving some guilt-free dessert. I won’t give away all the flavours, but there is something for everyone. Whether that be the fruity ‘Berry Unbelievable’, with ripe blackberries and raspberries and a dark chocolate cookie crumble, which almost looks too pretty to eat. Or the ‘Choc Party’, with all the drizzles and a chocolatey cookie crumb confetti.

Overall, I loved the idea of enjoying a guilt-free treat and expect this will become a favourite with the rest of the Travel Dine Relax office. The donut experts have your sweet hit covered! Grab one iced donut for £1.95, or opt for a box of three (£5.65), six (£9.95), or twelve (£14.95) to share the love with friends, as the perfect accompaniment for get togethers as we come into party season.

Lakes restaurant the best in the UK & Ireland

Main image : Squab pigeon, turnip, fermented green strawberry and buckwheat

The team from Rothay Manor, Ambleside, recently discovered that the hotel and restaurant had won an internationally acclaimed Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence 2022.

The magazine announced the winners across the UK & Ireland, Europe, and the Mediterranean; Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania; USA, Canada, México, the Caribbean; and Central and South America during a virtual ceremony.

There were 18 hotly contested UK & Ireland award categories, including Best Countryside Hotel, Best Spa Hotel, Best Urban Hotel, and Best Small and Exclusive Property. Rothay Manor, Ambleside, collected the award for Best Dining Experience in the UK & Ireland. 

Rothay Manor Restaurant

It’s no surprise to those in the know that the three AA rosetted and Michelin plated restaurant has been recognised by the experts from Condé Nast Johansens when you discover that Great British Menu winner 2021, Dan McGeorge, is the head chef. Especially when he’s producing dishes including the likes of squid with razor clam, cucumber and xo, Dexter beef with shiitake, onion and shiso and chocolate with rice, miso, kaffir lime and cep, which feature in the restaurant’s tasting menu.

The winners across the award categories in the UK & Ireland are selected based on responses from online voting, guest feedback, and Local Expert reports drawn from the hotels featured on Johansens website and in Condé Nast Johansens 2022 International Luxury Hotels Guide.

The annual awards acknowledge, reward, and celebrate excellence across hotels, spas, and venues throughout the UK & Ireland and are a highly regarded mark of quality, recognised by luxury consumers and travel professionals alike across the world.

Hotelier and restaurateur and owner of Rothay Manor, Jamie Shail, commented: ‘’Since we opened in 2016, we have always focussed on delivering the best possible dining experience possible for our guests. Always going that extra mile in providing a quality dining experience in a welcoming environment, delivered by an attentive team, who are truly excellent at every level, which is exactly what is needed when delivering the imaginative seasonal dishes created by our head chef Dan McGeorge and his team. The restaurant experience our guests enjoy is hugely important to us all, and we go out of our way to ensure that they enjoy their time with us, which is why being recognised in this way is a real honour, especially in light of the current circumstances across the sector.’’

Vumbura Plains’ New Menu Showcases Wilderness Safaris’ Focus on Sourcing Local

Wilderness Safaris has introduced a revitalised menu at Vumbura Plains in Botswana’s Okavango Delta that is even more closely aligned with traditional local cuisine. This is especially appropriate at Vumbura, where Wilderness Safaris operates in partnership with residents of five nearby Okavango villages as part of the Okavango Community Trust. It’s also a development that is very much in keeping with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to lightening its “foodprint” – that is, the ecological impact of providing excellent meals to guests.

Making Tswii – Image courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Growing or rearing, processing, transporting and cooking food is one the most carbon-intensive human activities, so it has naturally been a focus of Wilderness Safaris’ efforts to make its operations more sustainable. At the same time, guests at Premier camps like Vumbura Plains understandably expect to enjoy exceptional cuisine as part of their overall safari experience. Recreating “western-style” cuisine in remote parts of a country like Botswana that has its own culinary heritage cannot realistically be achieved without a significant ecological impact, not least when it comes to delivering ingredients to the camps. Refreshing the Vumbura menu by bringing in local, seasonal produce has allowed Wilderness Safaris to greatly enhance the sustainability of this area of its operations.

“The redesigned menu is planned around traditional food elements from the villages closest to Vumbura Plains”, commented Freedom Nxele, Premier Camp Food Experience Manager. “By sharing this cuisine with our guests, we can add to the authenticity of their safari and deliver food experiences that are as relevant as they are delicious. A particularly great feeling is watching the chefs in the kitchen using local produce, and seeing how motivated and excited they are to showcase these menu items”, he added. Purchasing ingredients from nearby reduces the “food miles” inherent in every meal and provides neighbouring communities with an alternative revenue stream, by allowing them to monetise their traditional food-growing and processing activities. It also gives guests the opportunity to learn more about long-established Okavango lifestyles and reinforces the sense of connection to Nature through a focus on seasonally available crops.

Grains – Image courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Each meal thus becomes a landmark on a journey into the culture and traditions of the people of northern Botswana, while in-camp interaction with chefs and service staff brings the stories and proverbs associated with each dish to life. Preparing and sharing food are universal human experiences, and Vumbura’s new menu draws out both the differences and similarities between local and international cuisine.

Freedom has recently returned from a fact-finding and engagement visit to several of the villages that make up the Okavango Community Trust, and other Delta communities. He met with local producers to arrange the purchase and supply of key home-grown ingredients. This included liaising with fishermen in the Panhandle village of Shakawe regarding the supply of bream (a type of freshwater fish considered a delicacy). Close to the large village of Seronga lies the settlement of Dungu, where senior ladies have historically gathered twsii (water lilies). These iconic Okavango plants have multiple nutritional and medicinal uses that justify the arduous process of diving for them and then processing the different parts of the plant. Its many uses include steeping the stems in boiling water to make a stock that can counteract hypertension, and using the leaves to wrap potatoes whilst steaming them.

Ipeleng Gloria Gaisimodimo (Ma Gil) – Image courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

The Food Experience team is also looking at sourcing lebelebele (pounded millet) and kwenaa herb tea from cattle posts (traditional farmsteads) close to Beetsha village. “We are excited to share Botswana’s rich kitchen heritage with our guests in ways that will empower local people and help reduce our carbon emissions and foodprint”, concluded Freedom. “While some of the ingredients may be unfamiliar to our guests, I can assure them from personal experience that they will make a delicious addition to the Vumbura Plains menu, and to their safari experience in the Okavango Delta”, he noted.

The Ritz-Carlton Debuts in Mexico City

With unparalleled service, sweeping views, and culturally immersive programming, The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City brings this capital city to life in a distinct way

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. has announced the debut of The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City, providing discerning travellers with a new way to discover one of the world’s most dynamic destinations. Transforming the city’s skyline and sitting amongst the country’s tallest buildings, the hotel is centrally located along the iconic Paseo de Reforma and showcases uninterrupted views of the famed Chapultepec Park. Featuring the legendary service of the brand’s Ladies and Gentlemen, each detail of the hotel is thoughtfully designed to immerse guests in the city’s rich culture and offer a unique perspective on this beloved destination.

“We are thrilled to bring The Ritz-Carlton brand to Mexico City, exemplifying our commitment to delivering unparalleled experiences and creating meaningful memories in the world’s most exciting markets,” said Donna McNamara, Vice President and Global Brand Leader, The Ritz-Carlton. “Whether enjoying a hotel tour with a local historian to be immersed into the Mexican rituals and celebrations that inspired the hotel design, or allowing our Ladies and Gentlemen to curate a day of exploration in the city, we are excited to provide both guests and locals with a unique lens on this incredible destination.”

Soaring 58-stories high, The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City, is located in a stunning building concepted by Taller G and features 153 guest rooms and suites. Capitalising on its enviable location and views, a double glass façade provides unique open-air terraces, inviting guests to discover a new perspective on the enchanting city. The interiors, designed by Chapi Chapo Design, were created to serve as a looking glass into Mexico City’s dynamic past, present, and future. Paying homage to the city’s profound influence on the surrealist art movement, the hotel embraces the way famed Mexican artists like Frida Kahlo, Gunther Gerzso and Leonora Carrington celebrated their indigenous roots and broke away from colonial influences. At The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City, the use of metals, mirrors and glass serve to reflect the exterior into the interior, creating a surrealist experience by playing with perspective and distorting the surrounding, traditional architecture. While a neutral colour palette invokes a sense of calm, shades of smokey ash, deep blues, and metallic fibres are woven in throughout the hotel as a nod to Mexican storytelling and folklore.

“The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City will act as a literal and figurative gateway along the Paseo de Reforma, welcoming and encouraging guests to learn about the colourful history, dynamic present and bright future of Mexico City,” stated Luis Lopez, General Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City. “The Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City are eager to welcome our guests and accompany them on a memorable journey during their stay.”

Featuring unparalleled service, The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City celebrates legendary Mexican hospitality and offers guests a highly personalised experience. The hotel features a wide range of carefully curated amenities designed for cultural discovery and epicurean adventures or business travel, including The Ritz-Carlton Club® Lounge with an exclusive Club Concierge, a heated indoor swimming pool, a large fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment and a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa with six luxurious treatment rooms. Bringing the destination to life in a unique way, The Ritz-Carlton Spa thoughtfully sources local ingredients and botanicals, which are then coupled with the healing and spiritual traditions of Mexico City’s Aztec culture. In addition to relaxing and rejuvenating treatments, the spa features an assortment of wellness areas, including steam rooms, saunas, and a timeless capsule room.

Dining at Samos, the Mediterranean inspired restaurant on the 38th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City, guests can enjoy cuisine featuring dynamic local flavours for a one-of-a-kind experience. Bringing vast luxury experience and expertise in Mexican, Italian, French, Peruvian and Argentinian cuisines, Chef Jonathan Felix has carefully created each dish to offer a culinary journey where flavours and sensations are elevated with every bite. The epicurean experiences continue through the dessert course with delicate sweets like Nido, an airy mango and passion fruit mousse encased in white chocolate and cradled by a spun sugar nest.

The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City, also offers more than 4,300 square feet of meeting space with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Chapultepec Park, ideally suited for a variety of events from meetings to celebratory occasions. The spaces have been designed to foster inspiration and connection, whether a large gathering in the ballroom or an intimate board meeting.

An Interview With : Sholto Smith

After visiting the Great Scotland Yard hotel we discuss plans, predictions, challenges and design and how general manager Sholto Smith uses his experience and love of travel to curate the perfect stay for hotel guests.

Image courtesy of Great Scotland Yard Hotel – Sholto_Smith

Firstly, great to see the Great Scotland Yard Hotel opening again. How did it feel to start welcoming back guests earlier this summer?

We looked forward to welcoming back Londoners and guests from further afield to experience the hotel, our extraordinary food and beverage venues and warm hospitality.
Now that London has reopened, we must focus on promoting London as a safe destination to visit and showcasing the attractions and things to do that are perhaps less crowded, to change the perception of London in the eyes of visitors from near or far. The city is what you make of it and the London experience doesn’t always have to be “metropolitan”. For instance, it actually has great green spaces and beautiful walks, many of which are just on Great Scotland Yard’s doorstep.

It’s been a challenging year for anyone within the hospitality sector, but the ability to adapt has been inspirational. How has the Great Scotland Yard team evolved to cope with the pandemic?
This past year has been an incredibly difficult year for hospitality as we found ourselves at the epicentre of the pandemic! We at Great Scotland Yard Hotel did manage to stay open throughout the most recent lockdown, even if at a limited capacity, and welcomed key workers and essential business travellers. This enabled us to keep as many team members as possible in employment during such a difficult and challenging time.

Image courtesy of Great Scotland Yard Hotel

Taking a historic building and adapting it into a luxury hotel must have had its challenges. Were there any surprises along the way and how did the team incorporate and celebrate its past into the hotel we see today?

Great Scotland Yard is one of London’s most iconic addresses and is best known as the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police. It also served as the London residence of the Scottish Royal Family, an army recruitment office, and The Ministry of Defence.

The hotel is housed in a magnificent 1820’s Grade II listed building with Edwardian & Victorian architecture. We were challenged to keep the soul of the building and to pay homage to its heritage. I feel we have created a space which invites guests to experience the history of the building through new eyes; a place where past and present merge; where history meets modern luxury. 

Transforming the building into a luxury hotel keeps the legend alive and allows us to open its doors to the public and share this building’s colourful past with guests from all over the world. Tasteful nods to the building’s past can be found in the interiors. Every nook and cranny has been carefully curated. Key symbols are featured several times in the guestrooms, encouraging guests to unlock the building’s secret past: robe hooks and the handles of the nightstands and minibar are all key-shaped. The blue-veneered guestroom doors are a reference to the police, as are the carpets which integrate elements of badges and uniforms to create a unique modern pattern.

Image courtesy of Great Scotland Yard Hotel

Design and art are a key part of the hotel. Tell us more about the artworks and collections guests can see around the hotel.

Great Scotland Yard’s distinctive art collection was curated by Sarah Percy-Davis of Hollandridge Group. Pieces were commissioned from 28 artists, including Nicola Green, Cornelia Parker, and Alastair Mackie to name a few. Unusually for a hotel, there are bespoke pieces in each bedroom, as well as the public areas. The collection is valued at over £1m.

The collection captures the building’s rich history, with pieces representing crime, detection, and the justice system. The feature piece of the collection is “Service” by Nicola Green, which is a representation of the history of the criminal justice system in the UK. The piece consists of 30 portraits, from notorious criminals, judges, lawyers and politicians, to police, literary figures, and monarchs.

Criminal justice is not just about catching and punishing offenders, but also redemption and reintegration. Our fascinating collection takes a multi-layered approach and reflects all aspects of the system. We work with The Koestler Trust, a charity which promotes the arts in prisons and encourages ex-offenders to use art as a means to rehabilitation.

Who are the types of guests that stay at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel?

A Great Scotland Yard Hotel guest focus is on experiencing the city and engaging with its history, people, culture, and food. They wish to avoid the a-typical hotel experience, in search of a truly authentic individual experience, which celebrates exploration, creativity, and originality through storytelling and unique personalised experiences.   

What can guests expect when they arrive at the hotel and how does the team create unique and memorable experiences?

Experience is everything, experience is the new luxury. We pride ourselves on offering a unique and quintessentially quirky twist on a British classic. The team strive to create bespoke experiences for each guest.   Expect the Unexpected! 

The luxury stay sector has seen a rise in pre COVID years. How have the expectations of guests changed during your career, and how does the Great Scotland Yard Hotel adapt to an ever-demanding audience?

The modern traveller can be less loyal and in pursuit of the undiscovered and the unexpected. Hospitality experiences are no longer on your terms, it’s about delivering a strong narrative that enthrals and rewards the guest and their choice to live life on their own terms. This hotel is a one-off in every sense; a reimagined 5-star hotel. A one-off building, a one-off experience, a one-off chance to change the face of hotels from the cookie-cutter experiences that have come to define the sector. The ultimate reward for those who are independent free spirits and seek a non-hotel experience.

Image courtesy of Great Scotland Yard Hotel

You’ve been a member of the Hyatt Group family for over thirty years. What have been some of your biggest achievements so far?

I would have to say being given the opportunity to open hotels like this one – Great Scotland Yard Hotel!  I mean, such a tremendous opportunity.  If I were to say anything else on this subject, then it would be the fact that I have been able to grow with the company, travel the world while working with some amazing people, learning from some great leaders and making many friends along the way!  

What or who inspired you to pursue a career within the hotel business?

Travel!  I like to travel and to see and experience new things, that and enjoy great service!  I am a bit of a stickler for things being done properly “The devil is in the detail!”  This works on so many levels!  

When you’re not overseeing the hotels day to day activities, how do you relax and what is your top holiday destination?

When I am not working I am more often than not in London!  I just love London and all it has to offer!  Be it great retail experiences, to window shopping!  The art galleries collectively house some of the greatest artists of all time, both past and present!  There is also the great architecture to take in to consideration too!  The other arts world – the kind that takes place on a stage – also what I like to try to get to see as much of as possible!  All world class and London is the centre of the universe when it comes to this!  

In terms of my top holiday destination – I do not really have one!  I am more a city person than resort, albeit that is not to say that I do not enjoy or relish times in the tropics!  I certainly do!!   

Image courtesy of Great Scotland Yard Hotel

If you could have given your younger self any advice at the start of your career, what would it be, and why?

If I was to answer that question then it would make me look like I look back thinking if I could have done something different or differently, which is not something that I would do.  I like to think that I have made the best of opportunities that have been presented to me and for that matter; the ones I have created I feel I have also made the most of those.  I prefer to look forward and to what’s around the corner!  

If I were to give advice then it would be to say that when opportunity knocks, open the door and take it!   Also, it’s very good to listen and to observe!

Quinta do Lago Announces Autumn The Campus Tri Triathlon Race

An Uplifting Challenge Celebrating The Beauty of The Algarve

This autumn Quinta do Lago will be hosting their October The Campus Tri Triathlon race celebrating athletes of all levels amongst the beauty and scenery of the Algarve. The event will take place on 5th October 2021, with the course starting at The Campus and continuing through the stunning Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Located just 15 minutes from Faro airport, Quinta do Lago is a renowned sporting destination and offers families a thrilling holiday adventure with sporting events available at the new multi-sports hub The Campus. The resort offers relaxed accommodation at The Magnolia Hotel combined with a hive of activity in the surrounding regions – perfect for a quick autumn getaway. October in Quinta do Lago sees warm temperatures of around 23°C for an idyllic sunny escape from the return of British winter.

Image courtesy of Quinta do Lago Resort, Algarve

The Campus Tri Triathlon 2021

This October, The Campus Tri Triathlon race is taking place to provide athletes of all levels with an exhilarating experience in which to show off the impressive result of all their hard work and training. The course was designed to showcase the natural beauty and sunshine of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The trail begins at the stunning Quinta do Lago lake, and continues through the resort roads and across nature trails.

To ensure everyone can participate, The Campus has several categories available to enter, with options for super sprint and sprint, as well as federated and non-federated athletes. The course for sprint athletes is made up of a 750m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run. Super sprint athletes’ course is a 350m swim, 10km bike, and 2.5km run. The whole family is able to get involved as well, as kids can take advantage of The Campus’s biweekly junior triathlon training sessions available at The Campus. Beginner athletes can improve fitness and race times by taking part in one the many bespoke exercise classes offered at the facility, and make sure their time at Quinta do Lago leaves them as a happier and healthier version of themselves.

After an intense day of racing and reconnecting with the great outdoors, athletes can head to the nearby Magnolia Hotel to relax and recover. Guests can book rejuvenating spa treatments to ease their sore post-race muscles, enjoy a rest day lounging next to the Palm Springs inspired pool, and indulge in a celebratory meal at The Magnolia Restaurant.

The Footman in Mayfair undergoes stylish refurbishment

The Footman Mayfair welcomes back guests following an elegant and stylish refurbishment to modernise the popular pub and restaurant while keeping its original charm.

Following the refurbishment, The Footman now has clearly defined zones on each floor to separate drinking and dining, with the upper floors available for exclusive private hire. The main bar of The Footman has been redesigned to open up the space and to allow for more guests seated than were previously available. Original fittings and fixtures, including the art deco style mirrored bar, have retained The Footman’s classic style. Softer tones and lighter textures have been added, creating an inviting atmosphere where guests can unwind.

Image courtesy of The Footman, Mayfair

The first-floor dining room seating area has been re-arranged to give guests more privacy. The entire floor has been refurbished, with elegant, warm and earthy tones, a bold new ceiling detail and classic parquet flooring. The stylish reupholstered seating in a subtle yet chic pattern brings the new décor together under softer lighting from brand new fixtures.

Completing the dining area redesign, The Footman’s sommeliers have been tasting new world, old world and fine wines to create an offering that will tantalise the taste buds of any connoisseur. The team look forward to inviting guests to try delicious wines and British seasonal dishes created by Stuart, Head Chef and flavour extraordinaire.

On the second floor, The Footman now offers a flexible space doubling as a restaurant and lounge. While the exposed brick styling remains, the floor has been updated with marble and brass detailing, adding decadence to any private event. For the dining space itself, the seating has been replaced by new leather and fabric chairs, which sit on brand-new timber flooring.

Image courtesy of The Footman, Mayfair

Ascending to the third floor brings guests into The Footman’s most exclusive space, the private club house board room. A classic mix of warm tones and blue and walnut timber, the room is styled with brass accents and opaque glass pendants suspended from a bold panelled ceiling.

A large table is the centrepiece of the space, with a television discreetly hidden behind a decorative housing, giving the room an additional function as a corporate meeting space with break out areas. At the end of the room, a statement dresser acts as a bar, providing guests with an attentive and tailored experience for the duration of any private event, meeting or team event.

Aside from the main bar and dining space refurbishments, the functional spaces of The Footman have also been stylishly updated. The staircase connecting each floor leads guests through the pub, tempting them to explore beyond the main bar area. Artwork is clustered along the staircase walls, contrasting with the lighter wall colours that brighten the space.

The bathrooms in The Footman have also been updated, retaining the building’s classic roots with beautiful Victorian tiles, complimented with marble vanity units and the addition of brass detailing, creating a luxurious feel of the space.

Garry Wood, General Manager at The Footman, said: “The new refurbishment will bring all the elements and grandeur of Mayfair to our guests, offering expanded capacity and chic function space, without compromising the classic feel of the building.
“The team have been working incredibly hard to bring The Footman to life, collaborating with renowned designers and suppliers to ensure every detail and design is of the highest quality. We can’t wait to welcome guests back to The Footman.”

Michael Horan, Managing Director of the Metropolitan Pub Company, added: “The refurbishment is one of our first major projects following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, with the pub undergoing a significant six-figure investment.
“After months of closure, it’s exciting we’re able to invest in The Footman for our guests, and we think the results breathe new life into the setting.”

The Footman – 5 Charles Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 5DF

New Garden Suites at 5* Palé Hall Hotel, Snowdonia

Now celebrating 150 years, Palé Hall is an independently owned luxury country house on the edge of Snowdonia in the tranquil Dee valley. This grand, historic, high Victorian mansion features a woodland garden rolling down to the banks of the River Dee – fantastic news for fishing enthusiasts – and Snowdonia National Park is on its doorstep.

New for 2021 are 18 luxurious, individually styled bedrooms with sumptuous décor, plus four garden suites situated within the picturesque estate grounds, including the light and spacious Harper’s Barn, equipped with a patio area and private garden.

Garden Suites – Image courtesy of Palé Hall

Green Michelin Award for sustainable initiatives
The hotel was recently awarded a prestigious Michelin Green Star in recognition of its commitment to sustainable practices. Palé Hall’s has its own clean, completely carbon-neutral source of electricity, produced from the on-site hydro-electric generating plant. There are fast-charge units for electric vehicles; the estate is free of pesticides, fungicides or inorganic fertilisers, and the seed compost used is from a sustainable peat resource. The woodland around the Hall is carefully managed to provide good habitats for wildlife. In the restaurant, the team wear uniforms made from recycled plastic, while on the plate, Welsh farmers and businesses are supported as widely as possible, reducing haulage and CO2 emissions.

New suites and barn conversions
The newly opened Garden Suites consist of Harper’s Barn – a dramatic two-bedroom barn conversion set across two floors featuring full-height exposed beams, an open plan living area, and a large glass balcony, providing the perfect vista for the views over the garden and hills beyond. Providing a private retreat for two, the Hillside Cottage, with its own garden area and outdoor seating makes it the ideal staycation come summer. Both the Fern Suite and Bracken Suite have been lovingly restored from Palé Hall’s original Victorian Coach House. Impressive features such as stylish and comfortable furniture, a king-sized bed, a roll-top bath, and a walk-in shower make for a remarkable setting with glorious historic appeal.

Head Chef Gareth Stevenson – image courtesy of Palé Hall

Award-winning dining
An AA Five Red Star, Relais & Chateaux destination luxury country house hotel, its acclaimed three rosettes and Michelin Green Star fine dining restaurant features signature dishes from Head Chef Gareth Stevenson. Building relationships with local farmers, growers, fishermen, food producers and suppliers means that the menus at Palé Hall allow you to discover some of the finest food from the region, always fresh, seasonal, naturally delicious and, of course, responsibly, humanely and organically produced.

An overnight stay costs from £246 for two sharing a Classic Room, including breakfast

Hard Rock Hotel Madrid opens

Music, art and culture come together at Hard Rock’s first Spanish city hotel

The beginning of July saw the much anticipated Hard Rock Hotel Madrid open its doors. Located at the Golden Triangle of Art in the Spanish capital, the hotel is the newest addition to an international portfolio and compliments the brand’s recent growth throughout Europe.

“Hard Rock Hotels has always felt very in tune with the vibrancy and spirit of Spain. It is one of the reasons we introduced the brand to Europe with Hard Rock Ibiza in 2014, followed by our Tenerife hotel shortly after,” said Dale Hipsh, Senior Vice President of Hotels, Hard Rock International. “As our first Spanish city hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Madrid brings a distinctly different personality to our beach resorts. Our guests will discover art, music, history, culinary excellence and culture at their fingertips – all brought together through Hard Rock’s curated and entertainment-infused hospitality”.

The new hotel caters to both business and leisure travellers, with 161 contemporary rooms and suites (from 18 sq. metres) offering diverse views, so guests can take in the lights of Madrid or retreat from the city with a room overlooking the lush garden. Additionally, over 2,000 sq. metres of event space, including garden and rooftop venues, set the stage for world-class immersive events.

At the heart of the property, guests will find a dramatic architectural hanging guitar sculpture above the welcoming, amber-hued sofas of the lobby. Vibrant artwork is featured throughout the hotel, including a life-size pink ‘Las Meninas’ adorned with Rosalía lyrics, inspired by Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece hanging in the Prado Museum and mural in GMT+1 bar inspired by the La Movida movement in Madrid.

The colourful artwork is complemented by a thoughtfully curated memorabilia collection that showcases Madrid style and culture, as well as international music legends. Hard Rock Hotel Madrid is now home to over 70 pieces of memorabilia, with notable pieces including an acoustic guitar from Madrid-native singer-songwriter Antonio Vega; blue denim jeans outfit worn by Elvis Presley during an NBC TV special in 1968; and platform boots worn by David Bowie.

The property’s premier location in the Triángulo de Oro del Arte is surrounded by the Reina Sofia National Museum, the Prado National Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. Within walking distance, guests can explore the historic art nouveau train station (Atocha), the Royal Botanical Garden, and the charming Lavapiés and Embajadores neighbourhoods.

The hotel will attract travellers and locals alike as it is home to unique bars and restaurant concepts. This includes the brand’s signature restaurant Sessions, with interiors by Rockwell Group, and RT60, a spectacular rooftop bar offering craft cocktails, a jamón carving station with cheese and unbeatable 360-degree views of the city to the beat of live DJ sets. Sessions, with its open and airy terrace, overlooks the hotel’s garden and serves a unique take on classic Spanish cuisine with unexpected culinary delicacies on the menu, whilst the GMT+1 lobby bar offers drinks and light fare throughout the day. The Green Room, a private chef’s table serving an exclusive menu to no more than six guests, is set to open in September.

Lifestyle consultant and international restaurateur Maria Font Trabocchi has played a crucial role in bringing the gastronomy at Hard Rock Hotel Madrid to life with her distinct Spanish spin. As the woman behind Fiola, Fiola Mare, Sfoglina and Del Mar in Washington D.C. and across the United States, Maria has built a career’s worth of successful restaurants based on excellent quality and hospitality.

“I am honoured to be working with Hard Rock Hotels to bring my knowledge, experiences and personal take on restaurants to the capital of my home country,” said Maria. “The hotel is incredibly well-located, and we are confident that it will soon become a social hub and meeting spot for residents in the city as well as visitors. The restaurants offer beautiful surroundings, the food is vibrant, and we look forward to the chef breathing his own emotion and energy into the restaurants now the hotel is officially open”.

The property also encompasses an outdoor swimming pool, Body Rock® fitness centre and Rock Om®, which fuses the ancient practice of yoga with the rhythm of a custom DJ-curated soundtrack for complimentary, in-room yoga sessions.

In true Hard Rock style, the hotel will offer an array of signature brand experiences and amenities exclusive to Hard Rock Hotels, including The Sound of Your Stay®, which allows guests to experience curated playlists (Tracks®), listen to a tailored selection of vinyls in-room (Wax®) or jam on a Fender® electric guitar in the privacy of their own room along with headphones and an amp (Picks®).

Rooms at Hard Rock Hotel Madrid start from 180 EURO.

image: Courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel Madrid