As a user of private aviation, we know two things about you: Time is money, and travel is part of your lifestyle.
The goal of
DG Amazing Experiences
is to give you a quick, easy-to-read look at great new hotels, resorts, destinations and experiences you'll want to put on your travel agenda, delivered in an executive format without hype, but with the type of insightful information you as a leader expect in your business reports.
Here are some examples on how approach is different:
- In our report on Crystal Espirit (below) we tell you what cabins not to book, the type of relevant information most media shy away from reporting.
- In last week's Special Report on The Brando, we gave you previously unreported details about which villas face the sand bottom beach, and which are on the coral reef, so whether you want to wade or snorkel, you know the accommodations that are best for you.
- We use red links to source additional pertinent information from other credible media and sources you'll want to come back and check out later. This gives you a 360 degree perspective, whereas most media don't reference other media.
- We know you like to think big, so we provide information on full takeovers and charters, and since we also know you are in a C-level position, we give information on meeting and events space when applicable.
- We know when you have questions, you want people who can give you accurate answers fast, so we give direct email links in blue to top travel advisors, hotel general managers, hotel agents and travel executives who are in a position to help you.
- We monitor key media around-the-world, and provide you summaries and alerts when we see stories we think you will find interesting, such as Robb Report's "21 Top Destinations For 2016" in this newsletter below.
We know you are busy, but always welcome when you have a minute or two to drop us an email with what's on your mind.
I hope a
ll your trips are amazing experiences!
DG Amazing Experiences
Please Note - DG Amazing Experiences is not commercially affiliated with any of the resorts we profile or travel advisors we reference.
1. Best New Luxury Hotel Openings of Early 2016 - Part 2
Paris and Rio de Janeiro
Stacy Small is a former journalist turned leading luxury travel advisor. Full disclosure: When I started Elite Traveler in 2001, she was our Editor. When I was Publisher of Travel Agent Magazine before that, she was one of our top reporters. She is now based in Los Angeles and has been a leader in using social media for business, where virtually every week you can find her posting pictures from a new hotel or resort she is researching, tempting her clients to follow in her footsteps. In 2014, she was named Most Innovative Advisor by Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel agents. With that in mind, I asked her to recommend a couple upcoming openings she is excited about.
Opened in 1898 by legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz (namesake of Ritz-Carlton) and restaurateur August Escoffier, innovations it claims include first European hotel to offer in-room bathrooms and telephones. Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz. Marcel Proust was there frequently. During World Ward II, Hermann Goring and the Luftwaffe made it their office. In 1997, it was the dinner venue for Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed (and is still owned by his father Mohamed Al Fayed, who bought it in1979, restoring it back to its iconic status with architect Thierry Despont and $227 million).
Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed retreat from the paparazzi for dinner at the Ritz
After a nearly three year closure which will see keys reduced from 159 to 142 (71 rooms and 71 suites), the grand dame will reopen March in what Small calls "a fresher, newer version of the iconic palace hotel in the heart of Place Vendome." There are 15 prestige suites, each with historical relevance, including suites named for Chopin, Chaplin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Ritz and Proust.
Having toured the construction zone in early December, she calls the bi-level "townhouse" style suites (they fall in either the junior or deluxe suite categories) with terraces and garden views "one of the coolest additions to this otherwise very traditional hotel which will still feature lots of gold and traditional Parisian décor, but in an updated setting with much-improved lighting, simple user-friendly technology and the addition of stunning private rooms that lend themselves to high-level events, press conferences, board meetings and fashion shows.
For dining there is L'Espadon from Nicolas Sale (4 Michelin stars). If you are thinking about a next career as a master chef, Ecole Ritz Escoffier offers lessons. If it gets too hot in the kitchen, there is an indoor swimming pool at The Ritz Club, a new fitness center, sauna and Turkish bath. If you need a libation, Salon Proust, Bars Vendome (under a retractable glass roof), Ritz and Hemmingway give plenty of options.
Small says via her membership with Virtuoso upgrades can confirmed at the time of booking and there are free airport transfers. While you may not look at your hotel bill item by item, the perks (free breakfasts, late check-outs, upgrades, transfers etc.) can easily total over $1,000 for a two or three-night stay.
Grand Hyatt, Rio de Janeiro
If you like the new Four Seasons Toronto, Park Hyatt New York or St. Regis Mexico City, Small says Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro (in Barra di Tijuca, an affluent residential area),
opening in March, will be a favored five-star city beach resort.
Design is by Yabu Pushelberg whose credits include the aforementioned properties. At 436 rooms and suites, it is large for a luxury hotel, but the payoff is it features Japanese, Italian and Brazilian restaurants, plus a large spa and 24-hour fitness center to work off any overindulgence. There is also over 21,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and function seating for up to 790, which will make it an in-demand venue during the Olympics and beyond.
There are six suite types led by the Penthouse (2,100 sq. ft, plus a private plunge pool) and Presidential (1,561 sq. ft.), both with ocean views and large outdoor space.
General Managers can make or break a luxury hotel, and to that end, Small lauds Christophe Lorvo, formerly Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Hyatt (now Jumeirah) Carlton Tower in London.
Key contact: Stacy Small, owner of Elite Travel International at
2. Cruisin' Like Putin: An Inside Look At The Crystal Espirit
Crystal Cruises has been at the top of the luxury cruise line pyramid for more than two decades with "large" luxury ships (922 to 1,070 passengers). Last year it signaled that it was no longer going to sit back, its cabinets filled with virtually every award the travel industry gives out.
Crystal also announced the
(269 ft. long by 45 ft. wide) as its entry into what cruise lines call the "yacht" segment (think SeaDream Yacht Club or the former Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend, now with Windstar Cruises). It's a conversion of Genting-owned Star Cruises' vessel, Megastar Taurus, previously used by the company chairman and for special charters. A sister vessel, The Taipan, is still in the Star fleet, and would be a prime candidate to expand the yacht fleet if Espirit is successful.
The pre-inaugural took place December 20, with the christening in the Seychelles, and we talked to
Mary Jean Tully
, for 16 straight years listed as "top luxury cruise specialist" on
Conde Nast Traveler's
list of best travel agents, who was aboard.
If you've been on SeaDream, in addition to being new, Tully says a key difference with Espirit is larger bathrooms, with walk-in showers and double sinks. If you have been on larger balcony-laden vessels, Espirit staterooms, like those on superyachts, don't have any. With the ship's small size, "in 15 seconds you can be out on the deck," Tully says.
With only 31 cabins, Espirit will be popular for full ship charters, including birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations and incentives. Rates range from $399,000 to $500,000, varying by season and demand. Tully is already planning to takeover the Espirit and combine a seven-day Dubai to Seychelles voyage with an African safari. The ship will be based in the Indian Ocean in the Winter and Eastern Med in the Summer. Its size will enable it to visit smaller ports off limits to cruise ships, only accessible to superyachts.
A key draw is the marina deck and various water toys (jet skis, snorkeling, kayaks, catamarans, wake boarding, water skiing, etc.), including a two person Dutch-made submarine (at an extra $599 per person for 30 minutes), the same type
Vladimir Putin has been photographed
in several times. Via Bluetooth you can pipe in your own music, for what Tully (pictured below) describes it as a luxury version of Finding Nemo as you watch vibrant marine life passing by.
If you've been on Crystal, you will recognize the crew who were drawn from its two ships. Tully sees this as a big plus as service is an area where the line is widely recognized with its butlers and "attentive, not stuffy, no pretensions" approach.
She says, "no expenses were spared" with a clean, modern design accented by "quality woods, marble, leather and lots of fresh flowers." In terms of dining, "food was magnificent" with locally sourced ingredients, including seafood. There are several options, from a formal dining room (with open kitchen), a 24-hour café, room service and on deck. Tully was impressed with the diversity of the equipment in the workout room (Technogym, Kinesis, free weights). There are bikes for shore excursions. The public restrooms even have the high-tech, automated Toto toilets with warmed seats. There's also a small casino.
Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez (front left) shows off some of Crystal Espirit's water toys.
A couple notes: Tully says avoid cabins 201 and 202, which are slightly smaller (223 sq. feet vs. 280 sq. ft.), and less expensive, but are too small to be comfortable except for single travelers. There is only one oversized cabin type, the "Owner's Suite" at 515 sq. ft. All cabins, called Yacht Suites, have king beds (except 201, 202), flat screen TVs, desks, personal safes, refrigerators and so on. Tully says, WiFi aboard the ship was good. Also, there are no elevators, but with only four decks Tully says, it's not an issue unless one has mobility challenges.
|3. Robb Report 21 Top Destinations For 2016
- Cape Winelands (Diamond dealer Laurence Graff and Richard Branson have high-end luxury lodges);
- Sri Lanka (new small lodges, a wellness retreat, safari camp and newly paved highways easing access);
- Bali (There's a new Ritz-Carlton on the southern Nusa Dua peninsula);
- The Dolomites (Zaha Hadid's Messner Mountain Museum Corones);
Bermuda (Hmmm, because America's Cup is there in 2017?);
- Namibia (Last year's opening of Nambwa Tented Lodge with 10 treetop suites overlooking the Kwando River);
- Los Angeles (Eli and Edythe Broad's new $140 million contemporary art museum The Broad);
- Douru Valley (Six Senses Duoro Valley, opened last July, provides luxe digs for oenophiles);
- Marrakech (The new Mandarin Oriental and renovated Amanjena);
- Los Cabos (Resorts have been upgraded after Hurrican Odile and Thompson Hotel's opened The Cape);
- Bodrum (a new Mandarin Oriental plus Caresse, part of Starwood's Luxury Collection);
- Paris (Fondation Louis Vuitton, renovations at Le Louvre and Musee Rodin reopened in November after a 3-year renovation);
- Zanzibar (The Park Hyatt Zazibar opened last March);
- Puglia (La Fiermontina opened in a historic palazzo in Lecce with 16 rooms, a swimming pool and a sculpture garden. Masseria Trapana, located just out of town in a restored 16th-century farmhouse, with 6 gardens, 9 suites and a chapel adorned with a 6th century fresco);
- St. Kitts ($600 million Kittitian Hall and 2,500-acre Christophe Harbour, expanding its marina to accommodate up to 300 yachts, and the upcoming Park Hyatt);
- Charleston (1,800 seat Gaillard Center opened in October as the symphony orchestra's new home);
Fiji (Oakley founder James Jannard opened Vatuvara, a resort with just 3 private villas and Auberge Resorts added 18-villa Nanuku);
- Oman (several new luxury properties coming in 2016); Bogota (two new Four Seasons);
- Montenegro (Porto Montenegro for your superyacht and a Regent Hotel to restore your sea legs), and
- Chengdu (Swire's new Temple Houses and a Six Senses).
4. A Trillion Dollar Super Bowl Garage Tour
With the Super Bowl coming to the Bay Area, pre-and post visits to Napa and Sonoma wine country as well as San Francisco hot spots are in high demand. But if you have two hours and don't want to spend your entire trip fighting your way
through overcrowded parties why don't you take a garage tour that launched nearly a trillion dollars in wealth. While, there isn't an official tour, any local limousine service can take you around. Here are the highlights below:
367 Addison Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
In September of 2004, Hewlett-Packard announced efforts to preserve the HP garage - Its most famous piece of real estate. The project turned the clock back on the original house, shed and garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, to conditions much as they were in 1939, when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the now legendary Hewlett-Packard partnership. Completion of the project was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 6, 2005. While the HP garage is not open for public tours, visitors may view and photograph the property and landmark from the sidewalk.
2066 Crist Drive
Los Altos, CA 94024
The childhood home of Steve Jobs is also the birthplace of Apple. In this suburban garage Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and a group of neighborhood kids hired to help (including Steve's sister Patti) put together the boards of the first computer, the Apple I, starting in 1976. Visitors may view and photograph the property from the street. (There is no sidewalk.)
232 Santa Margarita Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Google began in this Menlo Park home when co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented the garage from Susan Wojcicki, now a Google senior VP. The duo spent the winter of 1998 building the tech company that would change search, and the Internet forever. Google owns the house. No one lives at this residence.
5. Check out recent issues:
The Brando - How an 18th century boardroom battle created a new luxury resort
Vol. 1, No. 1: Best New Hotels (Miami, Lanai, Anguilla, Dominican Republic); A new private jet airport in Nicaragua; A 30-course chef's tasting menu in London; and The Knickerbocker's theme suites bring luxury to New York's Times Square