GRAN HOTEL MANZANA KEMPINSKI, HAVANA, CUBA

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With the opening of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, Havana got its first 5 star hotel. It is located prominently on Parque Central  which is a lively square with a small park and plenty of old vintage limousines available to do a sightseeing tour of old and new Havana.

The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski offers 3 restaurants, a roof-top swimming pool and a state-of-the-art spa as well as gym on the top floor which offers a great view. The spa is very beautiful and offers a lot of space and many options which is fantastic. The infinity swimming pool is a perfect place to relax on a hot afternoon while enjoying a magnificent view over the rooftops of Havana.

The rooms are generous in size with an oversized shower and a separate toilet. The decor is very modern and timeless. Espresso-maker and other 5*star hotel amenities were also available. The famous Kempinski “lady-in-red” concierge service is available around-the-clock and is always helpful.

The reception lobby of the hotel is small, but there is a huge bar/lounge on the first floor. The Bar is open 24 hours and features live music including singers and a fantastic harp player which made the waiting time to go to the airport a very pleasant one. A cigar smoking lounge is also located on the first floor as well as another bar called Constante.

Breakfast was served in the Confluencias restaurant and offered a huge variety of breads, fresh fruit, cheese, cereals and muesli. Hot egg dishes such as eggs benedict were served at the table. I loved the breakfast very much as there were also smoothies and healthy juice options available. Good value for money here.

The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski is a beautiful new hotel with a solid service for a 5-star hotel but it was missing a “wow” effect such as a little treat for Discovery Members or a staff or management member who was available for chatting with guests or inquiring about their well-being.

 

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https://www.kempinski.com/en/havana/gran-hotel-kempinski-la-habana/

HYATT REGENCY, CREEK HEIGHTS, DUBAI, UAE

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I booked a suite at the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights through one of the big online booking platforms. The choice of hotels and rooms in Dubai is countless and special offers are always available. I have done a couple of reviews in Dubai already and with the recent opening of the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights at Dubai Healthcare City, I wanted to add another hotel of the Hyatt Group.

The hotel is located mid-way between the city and the airport near the Dubai Creek and offers a hotel and a residence building and accommodations. The World-of-Hyatt priority counter was unoccupied so I checked-in at the regular reception desk. It was done quickly, although no upgrade or lounge level was offered.

The suite was large 69 sq m. with a separate living room, a guest toilet, a large bedroom with walk-in closet, and a large bathroom with a separate shower and bathtub. The window shade in the bathroom was broken and I could not open it. I requested it to be fixed two times during my 3 nights stay but they were not able to fix it for some reason. (I never actually saw anybody working on it or trying to fix it)

I found the service at the Hyatt Regency to be below average. There was no welcome greeting card, no welcome fruit or anything. There were a couple of free soft drinks in the minibar which were complimentary as well as a coffee maker but the capsules were not refilled on two days without requesting it from housekeeping. Housekeeping in general was held to a minimum. There was no daily turn down service and the bathroom amenities such as bottle water or shaver were never refilled during my stay. This is not the usual service that I expect at a Hyatt Regency hotel.

There are 3 food outlets in the hotel. A Mexican restaurant, a local/international mixed restaurant and a Deli plus a small ice cream shop in the lobby. I ordered a room service meal on the first night which was promptly delivered and tasted OK.

There is a huge gym which offers lots of good equipment including a separate fitness room for body building. There is a beauty parlour and a Spa available as well. Taxi and Uber Taxi are available 24 hours so it is easy to move about.

If traveling to Dubai there are endless possibilities where to stay and I would not recommend this hotel and not return to it. The hotel needs substantial service improvement and the touch of Hyatt Regency is totally missing.

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https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/united-arab-emirates/hyatt-regency-dubai-creek-heights/dxbhc

SUNBORN YACHT HOTEL, LONDON, UK

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I stayed in at the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel because I liked the idea of trying something different to the usual city hotels. London offers a great variety of hotels and accommodation so I found this a welcome change and was happy to try something new.

The Sunborn London Yacht Hotel has been stationed in the new London Docklands area since 2014 and has been operating as a hotel since then. It is frequently booked for weddings, anniversaries and other events. The Sunborn has its own bar and a restaurant.

I stayed in an Executive Suite with river view. It was a large hotel suite with a small balcony which had enough space for 2 chairs. The suite had a flatscreen TV, an espresso maker, kettle, a refrigerator with free mineral water, and all amenities a luxury room would normally offer. The bathroom was small but had a good layout and a heater for towels. The decoration of the suite was elegant with a lot of warm wood tones and I really appreciated the small balcony to let some fresh air in during the night. The bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows and I slept very well.

I had a drink at the upper deck bar and it was nice to sit there and see people move by and taking pictures. The restaurant made a good impression, it was nicely set up and small but good choice of food was available.

The entire Yacht is nicely decorated  and my pictures show images from the suite, the restaurant and the hotel bar as well as the upper deck bar.

What I was not impressed about was the staff working there. They seemed to be more interested in chatting among themselves than taking care of their guests or giving information about the area or restaurants nearby. I also sent 2 e-mails with different inquiries to the hotel prior to my stay, but both of them were left unanswered. I find this behaviour very unprofessional and it does not give the guest a positive impression from the staff and management. Overall, it was a good stay but leaves lots of room for improvement to make their guests feel truly welcome.

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https://www.sunbornhotels.com/london/

GRAND VILLA ARGENTINA ESTATES, DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

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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