GRAND VILLA ARGENTINA ESTATES, DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

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 Hotel Argentina

 

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The Villa Argentina Estate in Dubrovnik consists of four buildings which are interconnected. The mainbuildings are the Grand Villa Argentina and the hotel Argentina and the Villa Orsula. Across the street is the Villa Glavic which is a separate building but guests can use all the facilities of the Hotel Argentina.

The Grand Villa Argentina was built in the early 1920’s and became a luxury hotel a few years later. Its unique location makes this hotel a fantastic place to stay. Rooms and Suites offer a superb view of the Adriatic sea, the small island of Lokrum and the medieval city of Dubrovnik with its small harbour. The entrance to the old town is only 10 min walking distance away which makes it a wonderful place to stay, go and back to town whenever one feels like doing so.

The Villa Argentina has a magnificent garden which offers many relaxing spaces to sit down, read a book, or just simply watch the beautiful  Adriatic sea. A small swimming pool, a gym, a barber shop and a beauty spa are available. The hotel has a large bar, an indoor restaurant and an outdoor restaurant. I had breakfast and a dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and food tasted delicious and was plentiful.

There is also Villa Orsola which is no doubt one of the most luxurious places to stay in Dubrovnik. It consists of only 14 suites, all with a contemporary design. The Villa Orsula has been completely renovated and offers the highest luxury standards.  There is also a separate gourmet restaurant, a luxury bar and a lounge area. Guests at the Villa Orsula have a separate entrance with a small reception where a staff member is available 24 hours.

Dubrovnik offers many small hotels and accommodation. Those located in the old town might be a bit difficult to access as there are many steep stairs and small alleys and the old town tends to be very crowded if not overcrowded when the large cruise ships arrive and flood the town with their passengers.

I would highly recommend one of the Adriatic Luxury Hotels (14) as they are professionally managed and their staff are well trained, friendly, and helpful at all times.

 

 

https://www.adriaticluxuryhotels.com/en

 

THE RITZ-CARLTON, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND

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fullsizeoutput_12deThe Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui opened only a few months ago and is located on a hill enjoying beautiful views.

The resort offers all suites and pool-villas only and hosts its  own Spa Village with private cabanas, a private pool and plenty of treatment rooms. I stayed in an ocean-view King Suite which was 93 sq. metres in size and offered a stunning view over the property and the ocean.

The resort is of a fairly large size and after check-in at the arrival lounge you are taken to your Suite by an electric buggy. Buggies are available day and night and be called at any time to move around the hotel. Walkways can be pretty steep and long depending where your suite is located.

The resort suites and pool villas are tastefully decorated and offer all luxury amenities of a modern hotel. The Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui offers several restaurants and dining options. I tried several of them and the food that I tasted was delicious. I would especially recommend the Pak TaI Restaurant which offers live entertainment every day.

The Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui has two small private beaches as well as an awesome, large infinity pool. There is also a swim reef to discover where you can swim and feed the fish which I found to be a unique experience. Muay Thai and Yoga lessons are offered and a gym is also available.

The resort offers a sunset cocktail hour every day at the arrival lounge platform where guests can enjoy a sip and meet other guests. Another highlight for me was the fantastic breakfast at Shook! Restaurant. It offers an extra wide range of freshly cooked bakery and other breakfast items. Fresh vegetable juices, organic egg dishes and Asian favourites are on offer as well. This breakfast buffet is one of the largest I have ever seen and everything tasted so good.

One of the best assets of this hotel are certainly its staff members. Everybody I met was most charming, open and always ready for a chat as well as offering the famous extra-mile that Ritz-Carlton hotels are famous for. They always called me by my name and made sure I always felt comfortable and being well taken care of. I can only congratulate the Management for such eager staff members and hope the service level will stay as high as it is right now.

A fantastic new resort to the already top-notch Koh Samui resort world with a 6* service.

 

 

http://www.ritzcarlton.com

 

 

 

SANCTUM INLE RESORT, MYANMAR (BURMA)

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Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar and offers some of Asia’s most fascinating markets, pagodas and a remarkable collection of 1,000 ruined stupas at Inhein Village that date back to the 13th century. Fresh fruit and vegetables and are grown near and on the lake and some local garment manufacturers can be visited.

I arrived at the Sanctum Inle Lake Resort from Taunguyi by boat to the hotel’s own boat jetty which made it quite a unique experience. I stayed in a cloister deluxe room which had a wonderful view over the hotel gardens and Inle Lake.

At Sanctum Inle Resort arches and cloisters reference the monastic life. The hotel has integrated all of the modern comforts, from plush beds and air-conditioning, cable-televisons, minibars and Wifi. The bathrooms are large and feature a separate bathtub and a rain shower. (However the water pressure was very low and the hot/cold water regulation was a bit of a challenge. Unfortunately, this could not be fixed during our stay.

The hotel’s Cloister Bar is partly a bar, partly a lounge and offers everything from cocktails to wines and beer as well as the entire menu of The Refectory restaurant. The Refectory Restaurant offers Shan State culinary delights such as noodles, soups and salads from the hotel’s own gardens. There are international dishes available as well.

The hotel has a beautiful infinity pool which offers a stunning view of the sunset over Inle Lake. The hotel has a gym and bicycles are available to explore the surrounding area.

I tried a massage at the hotel’s Sanctuary Spa. The massage  was aromatherapy style and my request to do it on the softer side was very much adhered to by the therapist. (She did however not let me choose the oil as offered in their Spa-menu).

The hotel caters to individual guests as well as smaller and larger groups of travellers. The hotel promises a place of inner peace and calm and serenity in their brochure. This is kind of conflicting with selling their rooms to larger groups. While seeking peace and relaxation one could be disturbed by the arrival of forty to fifty people in a group invading the pool area or the breakfast room at the same time.

I had a pleasant stay at this new hotel in Inle Lake and all staff members I met were friendly and helpful. The food that I tasted was delicious and nicely presented.

If staying at Inle Lake, I would most certainly stay at the Sanctum Inle Lake Resort again and would add two or three days more to the stay for relaxation and unwinding.

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http://sanctum-inle-resort.com/

EXCELSIOR HOTEL ERNST, COLOGNE, GERMANY

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The Excelsior Hotel Ernst with a view of Cologne Cathedral, the Dom, was built in 1863. Carl Ernst was the constructor and first owner of the hotel, which was formerly called “Hotel Ernst”.  Eight years later, in 1871, Carl Ernst sold the hotel to Friedrich Kracht. Four years after buying the hotel, Kracht died and his wife and son, Carl Kracht, had to manage the Innenstadt hotel. Meanwhile, the hotel had become part of Cologne’s better society, and in 1884, Carl Kracht was appointed Prince of the Cologne Carnival – a big honor in Cologne. From early times, the hotel had famous guests, such as German Emperor William I and American artist Andy Warhol.

In 1889, Carl Kracht married Emma Pauline Baur of the Swiss Hoteliers family Baur, who owned both the famous Hotel Baur au Lac and the Savoy Baur en Ville. Carl Kracht and his family lived in Zurich and he managed the Hotel Baur au Lac. After his wedding, he appointed a general manager to take care of the Hotel Ernst’s operations.

From 1908 to 1910 the Hotel Ernst was rebuilt and re-opened as Grand-Hotel Excelsior Hotel Ernst with at the time unparalleled comfort: 100 rooms out of 250 had a private bathroom. In 1918, after World War I, the British Army moved into the hotel and used it as their headquarters during the occupation of the Rhineland. On 31 December 1926 Excelsior Hotel Ernst celebrated its second re-opening after the British army left. During World War II, a part of the hotel was damaged and the owner family was very concerned to rebuild it as soon as the war was over. So, another re-opening took place after the end of World War II.

In 1986 a new wing was constructed. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World group and the Kracht family is still the owner.

My check-in was pleasant, swift and the agent escorted me to the room and explained  all features of the room.

My room was a Grand Deluxe room in the Hansewing. It was generous in size with a comfortable bed, a working desk, an all-inclusive minibar and a good sized bathroom.

The hotel has a piano bar and two restaurants, both of which are famous. Restaurant taku has one Michelin star and offers modern Asian cuisine.  The hotel’s second restaurant is the famous Hanse Stube restaurant.

Hanse Stube restaurant is well-known for its elegant and friendly atmosphere. It is an award winning restaurant  and has become famous in Germany.  People from Cologne, as well as international guests, have been enjoying innovative French cuisine combined with regional influences at this restaurant for decades.

I had breakfast at the Hanse Stube restaurant which offered a wide choice of food and freshly prepared egg dishes. The service was a bit unconfident and slow but that may have been due to the fact that only a single staff member was on duty at the time. It was early morning and only about 4 – 5 guests were present but the full buffet was available.

There is a small gym with a sauna, steam room, rain and a cold shower  and a relaxing room available on the top floor. The gym is impeccably clean, featuring plenty of towels, drinking water, fruit and all necessary items for a relaxing evening after a busy day.

The Excelsior Hotel Ernst is a very pleasant hotel. Modern, centrally located, just opposite the Dom and 2 min walk from the main train station and the Rhine River. The staff I met were friendly and helpful. The hotel tends to get very busy during Fair times and enjoys many return guests.

I can highly recommend the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in Cologne if you are looking for a luxury hotel with an excellent location and distinguished service.

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https://www.excelsiorhotelernst.com/en/5-star-luxury-hotel-in-cologne.html

 

 

 

 

SWISSÔTEL AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

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Swissotel Amsterdam is a four-star boutique hotel located by Dam Square, in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic city centre and a short walk from Amsterdam Central Station. The hotel is surrounded by shops, museums and restaurants and is a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport.

Check-in at the Swissotel was a breeze. The front office agent was very welcoming and recognised me as a Swissotel Circle member and immediately upgraded me to a swiss-select room with a nice view over the square. It was a corner room with a small staircase going up to the bedroom. Nice clean room with electric curtains and a comfortable large bed. There was a working desk, a minibar and a Nespresso machine. The bathroom was small but the shower was large with a hand shower or a rain shower to choose from. The bathroom was layed out in grey stone and looked very chic. The hotel had a small gym and an outsourced restaurant called Royal 89. The restaurant looked nice and fresh but I did not try it. I checked out within 2 minutes and the same friendly front office staff member offered me a bottle of water to take with me on the way out.

My stay at the Swissotel was a pleasant experience and the best thing about the hotel is its location on Dam Square, right in the city centre and  just minutes walk from the main train station. Verdict: good standard hotel with reasonable rates during the off season.

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https://www.swissotel.com/hotels/amsterdam

CASTILLO HOTEL SON VIDA, PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN

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The Castillo Hotel Son Vida was built in the 13th century and is a member of The Luxury Collection of the Starwood/Marriott Hotels Group. Son Vida is a small village located above Palma de Mallorca, the main city on the island where the business centre, the airport and the shipping terminal are located. The hotel offers incomparable views of the Bay of Palma and has a large terrace which is often called “The Balcony of Palma”.

I stayed in a deluxe room on the 8th floor (highest floor) with a splendid view. The room was oversized with a charming wooden ceiling decoration, warm colours and all amenities that you could wish for. The room had a large bathroom with separate shower and bathtub.

The hotel’s occupancy was not high as it was low season, but the bar and 1 of the 2 restaurants were open and all the food that I tasted was excellent. There were friendly staff everywhere and beautiful decorations all over the hotel. The Spa was closed for renovation but a gym was available with a small heated pool/jacuzzi.

I enjoyed my stay at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida very much and would come back to this beautiful castle any time. All round it was a very pleasant experience.

 

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http://www.castillosonvidamallorca.com/en

GRAND HYATT DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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The Grand Hyatt Dubai is a huge resort style hotel located between Dubai airport and Dubai downtown. There is a large airy lobby with plenty of plants and other decorations. It seems like a small jungle in the desert. The hotel has numerous restaurants and bars, a hair salon, a pharmacy, a jewellery shop and some excursion desks.

I booked a room with club level access on the 14th floor. The room was nicely decorated with a comfortable bed, a working desk and a small separate wardrobe. The bathroom had a separate shower, bathtub and toilet.

The club lounge was very large with a great view over the hotel gardens. You could see the 3 pools, the children’s play area and the event venue. The lounge food offerings were breakfast (a nice extensive choice), coffee and tea as well as soft drinks all day.

Happy hour consisted of cocktails and wines, and the food was more like a small dinner buffet rather than only a snack choice. Hot and cold items, as well as salads and desserts, were available. It seemed to me that many guests used this as their place to have dinner so seating was almost always full, but due to the size of the lounge it was still pleasant. There was also a separate section for families with children.

The hotel has a gym, 3 outdoor swimming pools, sports facilities which include a heated indoor pool and a gym. All the staff members that I met were friendly and nice. There is no scheduled turn-down service but it is available on request and given the large size of the hotel, the housekeeping department was quick in response, efficient and fast.

If you are looking for a hotel which is away from the beach, and still not too far from the city centre or the airport, the Grand Hyatt Dubai is a good choice.

Hotel in Dubai

https://dubai.grand.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html