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Mee Restaurant at the Belmond Copacabana Palace
Once upon a time, we wondered whether in-house restaurants had any effect on your hotel choice. As hotels continue to push their offerings in an effort to compete with local establishments and become part of the city's scene, hotel restaurants around the world continue to get better and better.
Two awards were handed out this week that show the restaurant industry is taking notice. Down south, MEE Restaurant at the Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio, known for its "sophisticated pan-Asian cuisine," received a Michelin star in the first edition of the Michelin Guide Rio de Janeiro & São Paolo. It was one of six restaurants to be honored in the first edition of the Michelin Guide to cover South America.
Hotel Pop-Ups / Hotel Bars / Belmond Hotels / Venice Hotels / Giudecca Hotels / Paris Hotels / Train Hotels / → All Tags
Walter Bolzonella at the Cipriani
Having a drink in one iconic hotel is good enough. Having a drink in one iconic hotel that’s mixed by the staff from another iconic hotel – even better. Having a drink from one iconic hotel that’s made by the staff of another iconic hotel while on the most iconic train on the planet? We need a drink. Preferably one made by the Ritz Paris bartenders, but made at the Belmond Cipriani in Venice, or served on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
In a collaboration between the two hotels and the famous train, the head bartenders of the Ritz Paris (Colin Field - who, of course, is currently homeless, since the hotel is closed, and is going around the world staging pop-ups) and the Cipriani (Walter Bolzonella) will run a pop-up bar at the Cip from 9-15 April.
But wait! It gets better than that.
Burma Week / Myanmar Week / Yangon Hotels / Belmond Hotels / Myanmar Hotels / Burma Hotels / → All Tags
Mingalabar! All this week we'll be focusing on one of the fastest changing hotel scenes on the globe: Burma, or Myanmar. (For Burma or Myanmar, see here - as fence-sitters, we'll be using the two interchangeably throughout the week.) Yesterday, we talked the basics about the hotel scene. Today, we're going in depth with a visit to one of the most famous - and expensive - hotels in the country.
It’s the perennial traveling question for those of us who can’t afford nice things all the time. Is splashing out on a fancy hotel really worth it? How about when it’s not just fancy, but the fanciest hotel in the city, if not the country?
Belmond Governor’s Residence is definitely fancy. It’s the most expensive hotel in Yangon, and possibly (though we can’t be certain - Ngapali and Inle Lake are crazy expensive too) in the whole of Burma. Where you can quite easily pick up a five star hotel in central Yangon for around the $300 mark, the Governor's Residence, out in the leafy Embassy quarter, regularly charges $500 and upwards. But are people railing against its inaffordability?
No. They are falling over each other to stay there. It’s topped the TripAdvisor list for as long as we’ve been stalking it. Nobody comes back from a trip complaining that it cost four times the price of all the other hotels they stayed at. It’s not even an old, grande dame – it opened in 1995, a conversion of the 1920s teak mansion of the Governor of Kaya State. So what is its secret?
When we checked in three weeks ago, we actually started out a little underwhelmed. Sure, the check in staff spoke fabulous English, proffered cooling towels and delicious juice, and banged a welcome gong, before escorting us down a teak walkway across a giant, fan-shaped pool, through the main building (the 1920s mansion), and to the pretty gardens, which the rooms are draped around. But the gardens are small – more embellished lawns than anything else. And the historic mansion is only the restaurant and bar area - the rooms were newly built in 1995. Our room was simple rather than out and out lavish. The internet was too slow to use.
Turns out, first impressions can be deceptive. Because by the end of the first night, we loved it. What we’d initially found unnerving quiet (having come from Bangkok) became heavenly calm. The simplicity of the room set the tone of the whole hotel – understated, but serious quality. Here's what you'll find.
Sweet Suites / St Petersburg Hotels / Belmond Hotels / Russia Hotels / Hotel Renovations / → All Tags
The Presidential Suite: so fancy, we're only showing you the gilt bathroom
All eyes are on Moscow this week, for the on-schedule opening of the Four Seasons, which unlocks the front door tomorrow. Nothing could possibly take away our Russian focus from this, the redevelopment of the Stolichnaya label building. Edit: nothing could take our focus away unless it’s the news that Russia’s original five-star hotel, the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg, has just unveiled six new suites, including (sorry FS) the largest presidential suite in town. Only in lux-mad Russia, etc etc.
Because in today’s Russia, a standard room in a crazy-luxury hotel wouldn’t even make the grade on Facebook, let alone Instagram, the hotel has converted 19 rooms into these six suites, and added 24-hour butler service for good measure.
OK have one of the bedrooms too
The 3770 sq.ft Presidential Suite is accessed through a domed, gold-leaf-encrusted lobby, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fitness center, dining room, games room, living room (with bar), kitchen, music room (with antique grand piano), hammam and a study-cum-library-cum-secret-door-into-bedroom-one. The price? “Available on request”.
UPDATE, 9.30.14:The wedding was held at the Aman Canal Grande with a brunch to celebrate the couple the following day at the Belmond. As you were.
Lately, our issues with the water world city that is Venice, Italy have been centered around lackluster hotel design and obscene prices. But when you're George Clooney on the eve of your nuptials, none of that even enters your mind. Or so we imagine.
Clooney and his betrothed, Amal Allamuddin, are set to marry this weekend in Venice and according to the Telegraph UK, speculation about where the couple will marry is in "overdrive." Here's the top contender for the wedding site:
Only a few months in as a newly branded hotel company, Belmond Hotels, formerly Orient-Express Hotels, has snapped up a prime property in London. Well, it will be prime once the renovations are over.
Belmond has signed a management agreement with Cadogan Estates Limited to operate The Cadogan, an intimate, 64-room hotel on Sloane Street in the Chelsea nabe. Alas, guests won't be able to stay at the newest Belmond, and the only one in London, right away.
The Cadogan, originally built in 1887, is closing at the end of this month to undergo an astonishing $48 million renovation process that will completely redo the public areas and maximize the space individual guest rooms. Therefore the room count will actually drop down to 54 rooms. A gourmet dining experience" will also be installed, opening out onto Sloane Street and with views of Cadogan Place gardens. GA Design International and their London team will do the interior design work.
When the property reopens in Summer 2016 (long time away!), it will go by the name of Belmond Cadogan.
Currently, The Cadogan is advertising rooms at £209 a night. We even found a room next week on July 24, the hotel's last week open for just £190 a night. Expect those rates to double when Belmond moves in, darling.
[Photo: The Cadogan/Facebook]
One Direction / Boy Band Hotels / Liam Payme / Belmond Hotels / Peru Hotels / Cusco Hotels / → All Tags
One Direction fans strike again.
Known to be a nuisance wherever 1D members are staying, the Directioners were so loud while waiting outside the high-end Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco, Peru, that the band was eventually forced to leave the hotel and seek quieter refuge elsewhere.
Here's a tweet from band member Liam Payne (the second cutest one. Zayn is first and Harry is third):
Hi everyone I hate doing this because I sound a dick but please keep the noise down outside it's 6am and everyone is sleepy mouses thanks xx— Liam Payne (@Real_Liam_Payne) April 26, 2014
Clearly, his plea didn't work. Maybe all the fans were actually Zayn and Harrry fans so they didn't care what Liam tweeted. #arewereallydiscussingthis? #shoutouttoniallandlouis
We thought the Viceroy Riviera Maya had won the best turndown service award with their plunge pool turndown but another resort in the area may just have them beat.
The Belmond Maroma (remember, Belmond is the new name for Orient Express) does a resort-wide turndown service every night. All around the property, candles are lit--along the walkways, in the lobby, at the restaurants, by the beach and around the pool (above.) Did we mention this happens every night?
The Belmond Maroma boasts a more secluded location than other resorts in the Cancun area, set amongst 25 acres of preserved jungle with the beach and ocean in front of it. Of course, you will pay for this. Deluxe rooms start at $815 a night which includes breakfast, coffee in-room, internet and a welcome cocktail. You may be able to score a slight discount by booking Belmond's introductory offer of 15 percent off standard room rates. The deal is valid on bookings made by June 26 for travel by June 30, 2014.
[Photo: Belmond Maroma/Facebook]
This is rather unexpected: Orient-Express, which includes hotels like the Cipriani in Venice and the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, as well as a number of river cruises and train journeys around the world, will be known as Belmond from March 10 onwards.
The group has never owned the Orient-Express the name, instead licensing it from SNCF, the French transportation company; moving to Belmond will give them greater control and independence. Five million dollars is being invested in marketing in the first year, with an additional $10 million in the following years. The one element that will still carry the Orient-Express name is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train.
One point we picked up on in the official statement is about making the group “attractive to property owners as we advance in our strategy of expanding into the third-party management of assets that complement our existing collection.” That sounds to us like we should be on the lookout for news of additional hotels joining Belmond in the future.
The current Orient-Express website will start redirecting to Belmond.com on March 10, the latter currently being a single landing page. Just in case you were looking for the website of Belmond, Iowa – the previous owner of the Belmond.com url – they’re now at belmondiowa.com.