Just Back From: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama in Tenerife Spain

Our close friend and preferred partner, Stacey Colonna,  who represents Marriott International Luxury Brands, recently returned from a visit to Spain, where she had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama.  

GETTING THERE

There are connecting flights at very convenient times from NY-JFK and from anywhere else in the USA. We flew from JFK to Madrid with a brief 2-hour layover giving us just enough time to head over to the connecting gate with a few stops at the shops along the way. Tenerife was our final and only destination this trip, but you can certainly create a very exciting itinerary with a stay in vibrant city like Madrid or Barcelona during your connection before landing in Tenerife to start your awe-inspiring beach vacation.

 

Looking for some more reasons to travel to Tenerife? See my experiences below…

 

NATURE

The natural beauty in Tenerife is spectacular - all elements are represented and in their maximum glory. For a nature nut like me, it was the most delightful experience. The night sky is unpolluted with light so the goodies above are to be seen to be believed. I saw more stars in the sky than I have ever seen in my lifetime! The Ritz-Carlton, Abama’s neighborhood sky includes our planet’s view from within the mighty Milky Way which sits directly above the resort and can be seen with the naked eye (WOW!) The hotel knows their view is pretty special and they offer guests a private, casual, beach stargazing picnic that comes complete with a highly educated and enthusiastic astronomer and a 2-Michelin Star picnic catered by M.B. restaurant. Reservations required. We had the pleasure of enjoying this picnic, and I highly recommend it for your guests for a memorable and educational experience they will never forget.

 

In Southern Tenerife where The Ritz-Carlton is, you are guaranteed perfect beach weather and low humidity 98% of the time throughout the year. Picture an ocean that looks like a kaleidoscope of aqua, turquoise, cerulean, royal and navy blue and you have the gorgeous waters of Tenerife! Being a volcanic island, the Canary Island’s waters are rich in healing and therapeutic minerals. The Ritz-Carlton is situated on a cliff and the landscape is made up of volcanic nooks and crannies of smaller cliffs and caves galore. Climb to the top of a small cliff located on at the resort’s beach and dive right into the ocean if you dare (it’s totally safe - and yes, I did it!). Swim in any one of the natural pools that nature created inside the crevices of the land on the cliffs was one of the most memorable beach experiences of my lifetime. The resort beach is very intimate but public which is nice because you get a little local flavor. The facilities, Beach Club, lounge chairs and services are reserved for hotel guests though, so guests still have exclusivity. The beach itself if small enough to attract only an elite crowd and the experience feels extremely private and secluded.

 

FOOD

The stars in the sky are not the only impressive ones in Tenerife, and The Ritz-Carlton, Abama has two Michelin Star restaurants: Kabuki (1 Star) and M.B. (2 Stars). There are 8 additional restaurants offering everything from tapas to Italian, sure to please every diner’s culinary wishes. My personal favorite dishes were seafood paella at El Mirador and ceviche at Txoko.

 

RESORT ACCOMMODATIONS

The main building has 313 rooms & suites, a Ritz-Carlton Club level and Club Lounge. This section of the hotel caters to families with 8 family suites and 3 specialty suites; Imperial Suite, Royal Suite and The Ritz-Carlton Suite each with the very best views to the ocean and of the spectacular grounds at the resort.

 

My favorite accommodations are located in the 4 Villa rows on the property grounds. The units themselves are large guestrooms and suites however the row and the exclusive pool and services you enjoy are all what makes the secluded area on the resort grounds Villa-like. We stayed in the Tagor Villas; the adults only villa row that comes complete with a personal buggy for use while in residence. Nice touch! These villa rows feel like a resort inside the resort, and for those who want more exclusivity than what they would have in the main building, this is the perfect option.

 

Just in time for holiday season, debuting this October are four brand new Villa Deluxe connecting rooms and One-Bedroom Villa Family Suites (for families of 4). The Villa Family Suites feature vast walkthrough living spaces with generous sitting rooms and dining areas, king-sized master bedrooms and balconies overlooking the resort’s lush botanical gardens and swimming pool.

 

RITZ KIDS

Always fun, and this hotel does it “Pirate-style” with a fun treasure hunt. You must inquire directly as the treasure hunt is a seasonal, limited option for kids at the resort however the Kids Club is open all year round with indoor/outdoor facilities to keep the little ones busy.

 

MY RECOMMENDED 5-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: arrive and relax at the resort. Have lunch and spend the day at the pool (there are 7 pools on the resort grounds) or at the beach. Rest up then have dinner at one of the 10 restaurants at the resort.

 

Day 2: enjoy a day at the Spa. The facilities will keep you busy the entire day and this Spa is truly a highlight at the resort -- not to be missed. Enjoy dinner at one of the 10 restaurants at the resort or head into Playa de San Juan for a local and very casual dinner (just a 5-minute cab ride from the resort).

 

Day 3: spend the day to late night up north. The Ritz-Carlton is South on the island where the weather and beach take center stage and just an hour to the North is where the island “attractions” are. I recommend reserving a private car and driver for the day and start your adventure driving through Vilaflor one of the local villages, then through the magnificent pine forest and into the plateau of the Teide the spectacular Volcano, with its moon-like landscape where films like Planet of the Apes, and Clash of the Titans have been filmed. You literally feel like you are on another planet! Then walk through the fabulous Orotava Valley to Icod Los Vinos, known for its wines and the famous  Drago tree known for its mystical powers. Have a typical Canarian style lunch at the restaurant of your choice then move on to Garachico a local town destroyed in the volcanic eruption of 1706. End your day tour with the magical village of Masca with its amazing views of La Gomera which has approximately 120 inhabitants. Take advantage of your time up North and join a Stargazing group tour at sunset at Teide National Park for a view of the night sky as you’ve never seen it before!

 

Day 4: All day Beach! Spend the day on the beach exploring the natural pools located cliffside. Just before sunset, enjoy your private, casual Stargazing Michelin Star picnic on the beach. (Reservations for the picnic are required.)

 

Day 5: spend your morning out on the water for dolphins and whale watching- available to view all year round! Come back to the resort in the afternoon to relax and enjoy the resort’s facilities; beach, spa, pool, and restaurants or depart for your city excursion if you plan to connect via Madrid or Barcelona.

Just Back From: The Four Seasons Resort, Costa Rica

Just Back From: Four Seasons Resort, Costa Rica

Property Type: Luxury Resort

Destination: Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Getting There: The closest airport is Liberia. It is 1 hour drive from The Four Seasons.

Who is it for? The Four Seasons Resort has positioned itself so it can appeal to any type of traveller.  It is perfect for anyone, ranging the adventurous family or the couple that is looking to relax.  

Our Take:

From the moment you enter the gates, you are taken back by the views of the bay and the lush greenery. The Four Seasons is situated 15 minutes away from the Papagayo gates. The Four Seasons just completed a 35-million-dollar renovation opening its doors in early December and I was fortunate enough to experience the luxurious accommodations first hand. All the rooms are located within a 5-minute walking distance to the main area, where the pools, restaurants, lobby, boutiques and spa are located. The suite product is located further from the main area, creating a more exclusive environment.

There are two beaches and three main pools on property. The beaches are known as the activities beach and the quiet beach; however, it did not seem to be too quiet when I went. The activities beach has multiple free activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, and volleyball, just to name a few. On the property you are also able to rent jet-skis without having to plan in advance. One of my favorite features of the quiet beach was that where was a pool! With it being jelly-fish season, barely anyone was in the water and everyone would go to the pool. Having this pool at the beach gave guests the ability to enjoy the beach, and cool off afterwards without having to go into the ocean.

One of my favorite features of the four seasons resort product is the level of service each employee provides. They had set up every day a fruit bar, an ice-cream bar, passed snacks at the pool, and much more. Our favorite restaurant on property was Bahia Grill. One thing to note, is wherever you are on property – you can order from any menu. This is something they don’t tell you, but knowing about it will maximize your experience.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this property to anyone who is interested in going to Costa Rica!

 

  

Just Back From: Four Seasons Hotel, George V, Paris

As you walk into the famous George V, you are immediately overwhelmed by the impressive floral displays in the hotel lobby.  The exquisite flower arrangements are a draw to the hotel, and something they work very hard to maintain.  Every day the flowers are checked, fresh ones are swapped out for ones that look tired, and all the displays are checked for safety-especially the orchids that hang from the 5 Star court yard just outside the back door. Every month or so, the colours and flowers are changed, and the lobby gets a fresh new look, often something to represent the time of year, or a festive season that may be celebrated. 

Once you move past the lobby, you will see that the hotel has a regal feel to it; most of the rooms are decorated in blue, yellow or green theme and are simple yet elegant.  With 11 different room categories, there is a room type for everyone.  If you are travelling with a family, and need a connecting room option, there are many suitable choices, and many different types of combinations of rooms that can connect.   With that, you also get incredible view options that range from looking over the stunning 5 Star Garden, or a magnificent view of the city line, including a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. 

The hotel also offers its guests a full spa and gym that has top of the line equipment.  It is currently undergoing a very discrete renovation to include a nice size in-door swimming pool that will be open for this coming summer, 2018.

Every morning guests (who are Four Seasoned Preferred) can start their day with freshly squeezed juice, coffee, and arrangements of meat, cheese, fish and pastries.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can also order eggs and other breakfast dishes that are all beautifully presented. 

After breakfast, you may wonder out of the hotel and enjoy all the incredible history, architecture and buzz that Paris has.  And if you are not sure of what to do, the concierge desk in the front lobby is there to help.  They can offer you with ideas, make reservations, and give you maps and tips of how best to see Paris. 

The location of the The Four Seasons George V is perfect.  It is located on George V Avenue, about 1 block away from the famous shopping area called the Champs-Elysees.  At any given time, the Champs-Elysees, which is a street that stretches between the Arch de Triumph and the Big Wheel (2 iconic sights) which are flooded with people looking for the latest and greatest fashionable items.  In addition to that, there are many amazing restaurants around the corner and even more historical sites that are also in reasonable walking distance.

What is nice about the location of the George V is that you can quickly be part of that hustle and bustle, and just as quickly return to your 5 star hotel, which is on a quieter street, and hidden behind the famous wrought iron sign that reads George V.

Don’t spend all day out and about as heading back to the hotel for high tea is well worth it.  The delicious assortments of petit fours and teas are fit for a queen.  The tea takes place in the dining area where the breakfast is located and a really special experience.

If tea is not your type of beverage, you can enjoy some incredible cocktails both in the beautiful hotel bar that has an old world charm to it, or in the 5 Star court yard that has the water fall feature with an elaborate display of orchids that hang over the fountain.

In that same courtyard you are surrounded by 3 very impressive restaurants. All three of the restaurants are Michelin Star restaurants that have either 1 or 3 stars.  If you are looking for fine dining, you don’t need to go far as you have 3 excellent choices right in the hotel. 

If you do decide to step out for dinner, make sure to ask about the complementary car that will take you within a certain radius of the hotel.  The cars are very impressive, and definitely have you feeling that royalty.

Nothing is too much to ask for at the George V.   The staff are there to ensure you have an excellent stay both at their hotel and in Paris.

Just Back From: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Our close friend and preferred partner, Jeremy Mcclellan,  who represents Marriott International Luxury Brands, recently returned from a visit to Santa Barbara, where he had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Bacarat.

Today, Santa Barbara is back and better than ever and the community looks forward to welcoming guests during the season.  The Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara have truly come into their own and are dedicated and focused on providing the best in anticipatory service creating memories to last a lifetime.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara.jpg

Santa Barbara as a Destination:

  • Located an hour and a half north of Los Angeles and with a Mediterranean climate - Santa Barbara is often referred to as The American Riviera.
  • The destination has several seasons to be aware of:
    • High Season includes Spring Break and then from Memorial Day until mid-September
    • Low Season is December to February which is generally when the area receives the majority of their rainfall
    • Shoulder Season is April/May and then October/November and often times has great weather and great rates
  • Key Events and festivals include the following:
    • March:  Santa Barbara International Orchid Festival
    • April:  Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival
    • May: I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival
    • June: Summer Solstice Celebration
    • July:  Santa Barbara French Festival
    • August:  Old Spanish Days Fiesta

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara:

  • This gorgeous resort is located on 78 acres in beautiful Goleta in southern Santa Barbara County, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a stunning natural beach.
  • Offering 358 guest rooms and suites, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara features the aesthetic of a Mediterranean Village connected by courtyards, gardens and paths that meander through haciendas of white wash and red tiles complimented by lush green foliage, ocean blue and the sounds of the surf. 
    • The room and suites mostly feature a view of  our beautiful manicured courtyards and gardens however there are a limited number of partial ocean and full ocean view rooms and suites.  A pro tip - book early! There are a limited number and they go fast, especially in season!
    • Family Tip:  The hotel features a 2 floor residence suite with stunning ocean views and an outdoor terrace of your dreams!  Perfect for large family’s traveling together, this suite features two master bedrooms and on the ground floor of the building, adjacent to the suite are four additional kind size rooms available for additional guests.
  • A primary differentiator is the 42,000-square-foot spa and fitness center featuring an adults-only pool, redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room, fireside lounges a rooftop terrace and a private adults only pool.    Along with the spa adults only pool, there are two main pools and all three are saline and heated to 82 degrees year round.
  • Complimenting the pool experience are 25 cabanas with varying degrees of service and it is highly recommended that you reserve in advance of high season.
  • Gorgeous dining and wine tasting in Angel Oak a steakhouse with a modern twist and over 12,000 bottles of wine.  Compliment your steak selection with a taste of the sea and try the Blue Crab and Pork Dumplings….simply amazing!
  • The resort offers preferred tee times at Sandpiper Golf Club located adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.  Beyond Sandpiper, there are two additional golf courses in the area to challenge the most avid golfer
  • Tennis enthusiast will love the four Har-Tru clay composition courts and several pros that can provide challenging competition for any skill level
  • Coming in 2018 – a purpose built Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the spa pool.  Until then, the resort offers a temporary Club Lounge that has been receiving rave reviews and offers the personal service and food and presentations.
  • Coming in 2nd Half of 2018 – The Ritz Kids featuring the Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program.  Members of the Cousteau family live nearby and will be actively involved in the program personally.

Personal Insights:

  • Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as boutique lots of unique wines like Albariño, Tocai Friulano, Mourvedre, Grenache Blanc are all grown in the micro-climates of Santa Barbara.  Begin your wine tasting adventure on-property at the Foley Food & Wine Society (FFWS) Wine Tasting Room where guests in-residence can sample local wines daily
  • Visit the Funk Zone which is this eclectic and very cool area packed with galleries, microbreweries, hip restaurants, and cool shops
  • Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show – Every Sunday over 200 local artisans display their creations on Cabrillo Boulevard.  From talking with artists to watching them in action, this is the perfect open air gift shop for great souvenirs.
  • Get out on the Water:  Charter a sailboat or explore the world-famous Channel Islands National Park from the comfort of a private vessel. Spot local marine life including California gray whales migrating between mid-February and mid-May.
  • Enjoy a night at the movies!  The resort has their own move theatre on-property and during peak season we offer complimentary family movie screenings complete with popcorn and snacks.  Private screenings are also available starting from $250 per showing complete with all the goodies like popcorn, sodas and snacks

Just Back From: Shanghai

Our close friend, John Ladd, founder of Vitae Collection, recently returned from a visit to Shanghai. John was kind enough to share his feedback with TWIL.

I am excited to share my recent experience visiting the new Capella Shanghai which officially opened in September 2017.

Located in the chic and historic tree-lined streets neighborhood of the French Concession (Xuhui District), Capella Shanghai is a spectacular oasis from the hustle and bustle of the popular tourist areas of the city.  This ultra-luxury urban retreat is perfectly suited for travelers interested in more than just another hotel room in Shanghai… but instead an authentic and exclusive Shanghainese residence living experience.

Capella Shanghai, featuring 55 one, two and three bedroom shikumen (stone-gate) villas ranging from 1400 sq. ft – 2300 sqft. also includes the award-winning Auriga Spa, le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire restaurant and “The Gallery” including la Boulangerie pastry shop and a variety of other boutiques and restaurants facing West Jianguo Road.