Having arrived from one of the best hotels I will have stayed in the last year, it wasn’t the easiest job for the team at Remota to impress me. Did they succeed? Not really to be honest. If you want the flawless worldclass service of a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons to be continued at the end of the world, grab very deep in your wallet and prepare to pay the sky rocking prices. If your budget is limited and you feel that you are able to arrange the tours on site plus don’t mind driving into town to dine, then the Remota is definitely the place to look for. I would say it is best compared to a casual mid-class five-star-hotel in Italy: what they can do is provide you with flawless rooms, a nice hardware and pool plus great views and a breakfast that is very good. Everything else is either non-existent or just not worth mentioning.
I have to admit that Remota showed me once again: Service is key! It’s the key to build a strong brand image and be successful in the tourism industry. It proofed that what I am learning at my studies in Lausanne is just not that obvious for all cultures, people need to be remembered that only service makes the real difference. To you return to A hotel or do you return to THE hotel? If the service makes the difference, people will call staff by their names and will start telling friends about the place and their experiences. With me having seen lots of hotels, I can’t remember the last time where I saw staff members that were just not interested in guests. Probably it was at the Grand Hotel Stockholm. It’s always when you - as a guest - have the feeling to be unwelcome, disturbing and any wish being denied. Well this happened at the Remota too. After a very semi-friendly check-in we were given the keys. Even tough we spoke Spanish to them they did not make any incentives to laugh or be friendly. A hotel tour was not provided neither were the restaurant service times, any extra amenities nor tours we had included.
I, Myself always prepare for the worst stays so I know exactly what I booked and what is included and when it’s offered. To make it a lot easier for staff (not needing to handle any guest wishes) they have to blackboards where all service times are listed up, the two tours that are offered at an extra cost (actually the best part of the hotel) and the daily cocktail. Interestingly the phone in the room did never connect to any division giving me the hint it just does not work. Well at least they can state it in the brochure. Our room was a twin bedded one (all the rooms are the same size and layout) with views of Puerto Natales. The south wing is actually the one to stay in as it is much closer to the spa and the restaurant. I loved the space we had in our room as well as the great beds (for Patagonian standards) along the bathroom with huge shower head. On the other hand we missed the lack of comfort such as an armchair, writing chair or minibar along a shower gel. Yes there is a shampoo, conditioner and a hand soap with a hand cream but I guess being the number one essential everyone is using, they are missing out on something. On that point I would like to mention that housekeeping was very good and they cleaned the room properly which is one of the most important aspects of a hotel.
Another great part was the new spa area with the super cool infinity indoor pool. While very crowded after the tours return, absolutely stunning and calm in the afternoon and after hours. There is a gender separated sauna with changing facilities and showers. While you are unable to connect to the spa underneath the earth, you need to walk on a path outside - so not really great when rainy but beautiful when sunny and warm. We also loved the warm jacuzzis in front of the pool which would give an amazing Instagram shot if they would actually work properly. Therefore we just enjoyed the poolside and I swam some lengths in the warm pool to refresh after the long hiking that Patagonia comes with. After the spa we headed towards the restaurant.
For the restaurant I have to say that we have very mixed feelings. On the first evening it was absolutely great and deserved 9/10 points while the second night it was only 5/10 points. A great menu was the sous-vide grilled octopus with potatoes as a starter followed by Patagonian lamb and finished by a passionfruit cheesecake. The service by a female staff member was flawless and the wine by the glass was also on par. When we arrived on the next evening tough we were asked for the room number first and assigned a table in the second row with other tables on the first row being empty. We asked for the same table as the night before (which was their most beautiful one on the window and still empty) but he refused and said it is reserved. First, we didn’t have the feeling anybody reserved and Second it was empty all night. The semi-good dinner started with a carpaccio that had more cheese than actual meat on it and was just tasteless followed by the 48-hour cooked beef which I had to sent back as it was inevitable and simply too hard to even cut. Without going into detail how upset I was, the server offered me the chance to order another dish. I went for the squid fettuccine which were alright. Having skipped the dessert we received the bill and I had to register that they charged both my meat and the fettuccine - well, that’s the service that I was talking about.
On the other side I have to praise the breakfast which was really good. The baguette was freshly baked every day and also the offer was way better than at other Patagonian hotels. We could even order omelette and the juices seemed to be fresh. Coffee and tea service worked well too. I could imagine coming back to the Remota on Bed & Breakfast basis however would skip the half board next time.
To all my surprise, what impressed me most was the tour with Remota. If you have the chance to book a tour with them, go for it without any doubt! Our tour guide was slightly better than the one at the previous camp and I had the feeling that his background information on things is way more in-dept. During the Fotosafari we got to see the major sights and viewpoints of the Torres Del Paine National Park as well as the Grey lake. In between the Salto Grande waterfall and the Grey glacier, the tour guide, driver and a staff member set up a lunch for us with tablecloth, cutlery, china and several side dishes before the guide began to grill pork fillets. We received Pisco Sours, a small bottle of Red wine and soon afterwards we had excellent pork with couscous, green salad and vegetables along with a cheese plate and some crackers with olive cream. Actually the lunch and setting was worth 10/10 points and a real highlight of staying at Remota.
Generally said I am cautious with hotels who don’t make the best out of their potential and only live with the fact that the hotel selection in the area is so limited that no effort has to be put. If they would have motivated and engaging staff it would be one of the best hotels in South Chile, making it easier to allocate 9 out of 10 points, however in the current state all I can offer is a fair 5 out of 10. I would recommend Remota definitely for people who plan on doing their tours on their own or prefer arranging them by themselves in town. Also Puerto Natales has some great food outlets so there are plenty of possibilities to stay in style with a great pool and spacious rooms (all at the Remota) but dine outside. And let’s be honest, all you get for 200 euros a night in London doesn’t have great service neither.
Let’s start this review differently this time. I prepared the longest one-way journey of my life in the most comfortable way: an elegant stay in Milan, Italy followed by a great flight in Alitalia’s exclusive business class. No wonder I arrived in Santiago totally relaxed and fit. Since my colleague Lukas and me needed to get to Casablanca on my arrival day, we rented a car with Europecar and so did not need to arrange any hotel car. With nearly 42 degrees celsius we arrived in the boiling Santiago. One has to mention that it really depends in which Barrio you end up. While Bellavista is for the young party-seeker and Vitacura for the upscale shops and business centers, Italia is for the insiders seeking for antique shops, young designers and small nice coffee shops and restaurants. From the moment we arrived I fell in love with this area and was happy to have selected this place.
In the heart of Barrio Italia was the Maison Italia 1029, a brand new boutique hotel with just 5 rooms. While all rooms are located on the first floor, the bar and main hub of the hotel is located on the second floor with balcony and views over the city and San Cristobal hill. A small front desk with lounge corner, a radio station and a few handicraft shops make out the ground floor and fit into this district perfectly. The kind attendant at the front desk took care of our luggage and delivered it to our room while he also showed us the way and introduced the room briefly. While I only expect that from luxury hotels, I really appreciate the effort the staff of Maison Italia 1029 made. Overall the guy in suit, the elegant lobby as well as the chic servers and hostesses in the bar gave this hotel a very very chic altitude and I have to admit I did never have the feeling not to be in a luxury hotel. While I thought the rooms are very small - given the indication on the website says the room is only 19 square meters - they still looked bigger than Parisian luxury hotel rooms. I loved the spacious bathrooms with windows and daylight, new fluffy towels and spacious walk-in shower. While the toiletries were actual dispensers on the wall, they smelled amazing.
Highlight number two was the cool terrace just outside the room that actually expanded the room surface by another 4 square meters. I mean which luxury hotel in Santiago has terraces with views of the green alleys? Me and my colleague Lukas were celebrating the hustle and bustle of the 7-million metropolis with a bottle of red wine purchased earlier that day at the winery Casas del Bosque in Casablanca. Accompanied by two small Cohibas - generously lit by a fire provided by the front desk attendant. Honestly the evening couldn’t have been more relaxing but at one point one of the two of us convinced us to join the party in the bar on the second floor.
So there were we, having got the pole position table of the bar being served one of the best Pisco Sours in entire Santiago along with an excellent Roast Beef Sandwich. The service was very good and we had a truly enjoyable accompany which later lead to partying in Bellavista with an early wake-up call at 5am. Well, sleep wasn‘t our primary goal during the stay in Santiago. However you can already make a conclusion: we ended up being rebooked to the 11 am flight instead the booked one at 8am.
Other than that, Santiago is an amazing city and has a wide array of accommodations and places to eat, however having only a very limited time in this city, I felt Maison Italia 1029 was the best option for me as it represents Barrio Italia‘s lifestyle combined with the coolness of Chile‘s capital. I would have missed this feeling if I would have stayed in one of the huge luxury hotels. Considering the amazing beds, cool terraces, lovely vibe and chic design, I would definitely stay at Maison Italia 1029 again.
The Titilaka resort is definitely one of the most private and luxurious resorts in Peru. It’s located directly on the coast of the Titicaca lake which is with an altitude of over 3900 meters above the sea level the highest sweet water lake of the world. A special service of the hotel is the free transfer from the airport to the hotel, approximately a two hours drive. Bevor try leaf they will check your oxygen level so if you have problems with the altitude they could immediately help you.
The hotel which looks more like a big private mansion is close by the Titilaka village in the Puno region. All in all this place is a wonderful property to spend a magnificent vacation and to explore the VIELSEITIG Titicaca lake. They have rooms with the unique view over the sea and you could get a sunset or a sunrise view which are definitely both breathtaking.
After my very comfortable check in I got a tour through the property and even had to choose which room I would prefer. I took the sunrise room with the full lake view.
When you enter the room you are directly in the big bathroom with a double vanity kid desk on the one hand and a huge rain shower with a separated toilet on the other side. Like you would expect in a luxury five star resort they offer at least two bathing towels per person given the the remote location.
Another lovely detail was the „do not disturb“ sign which was one of the native tipis, which are the fern houses in the floating islands. If you put it in front of the door it means that you want to be on your own and they are not gonna disturb you.
Facing to the front I was looking to the bed room area with its big window front with the Titicaca lake, which is more like the sea for me. In front of the free standing king size bed was a desk and right next to it was a small wardrobe. A small lovely giveaway and a handwritten thank you card were decorated on the bed. So simple but I really felt welcomed and the personal touch was a very nice gesture. The giveaway was a small pattern oven which the natives on Titicaca lake use on the floating islands.
Behind the bed was a comfortable couch with its terrific view over the lake, I could have spent my hole day there and relax.
But there was to much to explore in this area. After unpacking and arriving I headed down to the reception where one of the Tourguides already waited for me to discuss the upcoming days with me, which tours and places I want to see and what the current offers are. After planning all my tours I went to the backyard to see sunset come together which is usually every second day (if the weather is good). They prepare a big circle of chairs around big open fire right next to the lake so you could enjoy the the sunset with a Chilean glass of wine or champagne and some fresh prepared snacks. After the sunset cocktail I headed back to the restaurant where I had a wonderful alpaca carpaccio (very tender and delicious) a trout filet and a fruit platter as a dessert.
Our first tour was a full day islands of lake Titicaca excursion. We started with a 1,5 hours long drive along the coast to one of the well-known floating islands on Lake Titicaca where we changed to one of their artisanal boats where we explored the surrounding and learned how they are making their islands. After that we went back to the island where they talked about their daily living and how the natives build their houses. You could buy some lovely artisanal gifts, very colorful and stylish too. Then we went with the motorboat to the island Taquile, which is one of the biggest islands in the lake. There we had an amazing lunch with a breathtaking view over the lake. After the lunch they explained us more about the traditions, styles and habits of the native people.
Before the dinner I had the chance to relax in the big hotel livingroom with cosy seating area and a fireplace in the corner. The perfection of the moment was the kind staff which served cheesy bites and delicious Chilean wines.
As a starter I had the trout ceviche - traditional Peruvian ceviche is with salt water fish but in the Puno region it is common to prepare it with trout, highly recommendable too.
The second tour was the cycling tour, but it’s more like a relaxed bike ride, so there is always the bus driving next to you so if you want to take a break or relax you could always hop into the bus and drive. But for everyone who wants to be a bit active and explore the countryside of Peru it’s the perfect tour. You will have stunning views over the lake and enjoy the green mountains. You will see many natives which are very friendly and always greet you from all over. But the actual highlight of this tour is the picnic which is on a small peninsula with the best view. The driver and the guide will prepare a lovely table for you and treat you with hot soup and small snacks. The whole staff is really afforded to make your stay unforgettable.
The tambo del inka one of the luxury collection properties in Peru is located in a small town called Urubamba - it’s between cusco and Machu Picchu. When you see Urubamba you can’t even imagine that there could be a five star hotel. The first time I habe passed the city in my way to Aguas Calientes the village next to Machu Picchu from where I visited the old inka ruin. On my way back to cusco I had the chance to stay in this wonderful hotel. The hotel was just at the main road hidden behind a big wall and an impressive entrance. When you walk in to the property you will find your self in a relaxing area with green places and a BRUNNEN.
They already expected me so it was a very warm welcome and after a short refreshment they brought me to my wonderful room.
The room was a big deluxe bedroom, the vast bed- and living room area was facing a big glass window overlooking the beautiful green scenery of the resort and the Andean mountains. At the right hand side of the entrance was a huge walk in wardrobe. Right next to the wardrobe was the heavenly king size bed. The living room part was separated in a comfortable seating area right next to the window and a bis desk.
In front of the seating area was the spacious bathroom with a double vanity desk an separated toilet and an big open shower with bathtub with an amazing view into the green.
After my exhausting day at Machu Picchu I decided to spend the afternoon at the pool. The pool area was separated into inside and outside and the pool was floating so you could swim outside and enjoy the view to the Andes.
To get to the sauna and whirlpool area you have to pass the locker and changing room and the big fitness room. The room is quite small but very cosy with a whirlpool in each corner of the room and a sauna.
There was a second small pool area with different small pools and jacuzzis wich were usable if you book a private treatment.
After an heavenly night in this amazing bed I walked down to the delicious breakfast, which was an amazingly huge buffet with an area for typical Peruvian food, which is really worth to try. It’s more like a hearty food with potatoes and the big Peruvian corn. And typical South America fresh exotic fruits they had an area with just gluten free products with a fresh honeycomb, which I really love, and right next to them was the detox area so they really care about healthy and fresh nutrition.
And of course for the perfect vacation breakfast eggs Benedict and a fresh cappuccino couldn’t miss. A special thank you to the amazing service, all of them were very kind and attentive and they always address you with your name. A small gesture which makes a big difference for the guest. You feel just to be something special.
I wanted to spend my day with sightseeing so I decided to book a tour by one of the drivers in the city. The tour took around three hours and takes you all around the area of Urubamba. We started to go through the city of moray and to the Inca place in the same name. This place was for them very important, there they did research in planting crops with different soils. Further we went to a place called salinas, a place where they gain salt. They redirect the water of the highly salty spring into different pools and let it try to get the very famous Anden salt.
Cusco, probably the most famous Inca city of South America. Located in the heart of the Andes on 3400 meters above the sea level the Incas settled down in around 1430 from the Puno area which is on 3900 meters above the sea level. The Palacio del Inca was one of their most important temples and was connected to the close by Kusicancha temple and Quirkancha temple, the temple of the sun. Around 1530 the Spanish conquerors arrived in the cusco area and Francisco Pizarro the leader took the temple as his new palace. After a couple of years he gave the palace to his younger brother and so the palacio was given from Spanish noble families to the next ones. Some hundred years later the palacio del Inca got an Museum and since ... it is one of the luxury collection properties.
But gladly it’s not one of those big luxurious hotels in a city. Although they have over 200 rooms you still have the feeling to be the special guest in the private palace. They also kept almost everything as authentic as possible and offer a tour through the hotel everyday at 5 p.m. where they show you around the property and explain a lot about the history of the Incas and the hotel - highly recommendable.
In the lobby they have a log table with old artifacts, vases and sculptures of the further time. And also they do have over 200 paintings of famous Peruvian actors who were hired to bring the catholic religion close to the Inca people. And as we now know they used small details to bring part of their religion into the paintings too.
After the tour through the hotel I had the chance to join the free pisco sour course which is held everyday after the tour. It was very interesting and delicious too. They teach the different types of Peruvian pisco and the grapes which are used for it. Also they explained that the typical glass has its shape of the way the Incas built their houses. At the end of the course they gave some tips how to make the perfect pisco sour, for example to not use to much egg white and mix it without ice so there is not to much water in it and cool it after shaking and give it in an pre cooled glass. They finished the cocktail with angostura bitter which they painted as their classic L of luxury collection. I was very glad that I could join the tour and the course where I learned a lot about the history and culture of cusco.
At my first evening I decided to stroll around cusco and explore the city. I walked over the impressive plaza de Armas with its huge cathedral and afterwords I walked up to the San cristobal church from which soy could enjoy the magnificent view.
Make sure to check out one of the amazing Peruvian restaurants in cusco and try the special dishes like ceviche of trout as a starter and cobayo, the guinea pig or lomo de alpca, a very soft steak of alpaca as a main course.
Back in the hotel I wanted to check out the spa and treatment area which you could book separately. There a small jacuzzi and a pool with different massaging systems too. Next to the pool area was a chill out room with heated seats and fresh tea. In the back of the area were the treatment rooms and a locker room. All in all a cosy and relaxing area.
The next day I decided to do a tour to the rainbow mountains. The area of cusco is so rich of sights and amazing landscapes but my Favorit was the hiking tour to the 5100 meter high mountains with its seven colors which starts at five in the morning. After an three hour drive we started the 5.5 kilometer long hike where you had the chance to enjoy the full beauty of the Andes with hordes of llamas alpacas and at the end an amazingly colorful mountain.
The tour is very exhausting because of the hight but you could also rent one of the horses with a native who will guid you up the comfortable way. But make sure to take a couple of days before doing a hiking trip to acclimate to the very high altitude.
After an amazing day I just went back to my glamorous room which was totally matching the palace style with all the chic tapets and old paintings. A royal king size bed was in the center of the room. Right next to it was a old wooden desk.
Passig a small walk-in wardrobe you reach the noble bathroom which off course was fully designed in marble.
Another highlight of the room was the small balcony going out to the originally entrance side of the palace. The entrance was moved to the other side of the hotel because the street of the originally entrance is very busy and there is no place to stop and letting out the guests of the hotel.
South America a continent well known for breathtaking nature, European backpackers and hot salsa nights. There are plenty of hostels and simple two or three star hotels but you can also find some amazing five-star luxury properties. One of those is definitely the Westin Lima. Not very discreet, but even more chic and stylish is the brand new hotel and convention center in the heart of Lima. The tower is located in the San Isidro district, which is the bank and business district of the bustling capital of Peru but it’s easy and fast to get to all sights and districts of the city. Even if it’s such a big hotel, I’ve actually never had the feeling to be in one of those huge city properties just like in New York or China. The staff is very friendly and could fulfill all of my wishes.
I landed quite early in Lima and took a taxi to the hotel where I could leave my luggage till my room was ready. I decided to explore the surroundings of San Isidro which is more like the bank and business district of Lima. Due to the fact that I landed on a Saturday the part was very calm and not many people were around on the streets. After a little while I went to a small cafe to eat a local breakfast to settle in at the exciting, new destination and that was the first time I saw why Lima is referred to the city of food lovers – I really didn’t have one single meal which wasn’t outstandingly delicious.
Like many other South American cities, Lima is not filled with big sights – in contrary, it’s more to enjoy the flow and good vibe of the place. I just strolled around enjoying the many green parks this city has. But what you definitely have to visit once in Lima is one of the “Huaca Pucllana” temple there you can learn a lot about the culture of the native people of Lima. There are guided tours which show you around the temple and explain the sense of the building and the surrounding.
After my first little tour I came back to finally see my room. I was very happy seeing I got upgraded to a Westin Executive Club Room which was really amazing. The space was separated into a walk-in closet, the dream of every girl, a huge bathroom staffed with a big rain shower and bathtub as well as a separated toilet. The highlight of the bedroom was not the heavenly soft bed rather the big window front with its amazing view over the northern part of the city with the big mountains in the back - it was so fascinating with the traffic and all the lights at night. The view had something soothing. There was also a desk right next to the window where you could do some work - if needed. Of course they also offer a high speed internet connection in the rooms. Overall, the luxurious Westin branded bed and the comfortable chaise longue meet all the needs of luxury lovers. After a long flight from Europe this is definitely the best place to have a relaxed start to your trip in South America.
After my first night in Lima – which was more than heavenly, I started the day with a big breakfast. The buffet was one of the best I’ve ever had and the highlight was that there is a slight change every day, so if you are staying more than one night you could try some new Peruvian delicacies every day – just like I did. They offered plenty of traditional warm dishes and at the first day they had a special chef preparing fresh sandwiches for you. I really was overwhelmed by the big offer of fresh juices, ice tea, tea varieties, coffees and smoothies. Really all of them are recommendable especially the fresh smoothies. I started my breakfast with eggs Benedict, my favorite kind of eggs which were amazing. Another special thing was, they had an extra shelf with healthy seeds, gluten free pastries dried fruits and different sorts of humus.
At my second day I discovered the southern part of the city with the well known quarter Miraflores and Barranco. The cliff coast is really an amazing place to hang out. Surfers are able to rent boards directly on the beach for an adventurous day. However, I decided to walk around and visit the Parque del Armor and hang out at the Larcomar shopping center where I had amazing Ceviche for lunch. Make sure to try Ceviche in Lima: it’s fresh raw fish marinated in lemon with chili. You also can have it with seafood and a fresh Pisco Sour to accompany – well we are in Peru after all and not having one is like leaving Italy without having had Italian (!) wine. I could recommend a place called Mango in the shopping center where you have a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean.
My highlight of the stay was the pool area. It’s just the perfect place to hang out after a stressful day of sightseeing. The relaxing music and the green plants all over the place had something really soothing. Right next to the pool area was the gym, with a big variety of exercises and fitness equipment so even for all sport lovers who are not just looking for a treadmill it’s the perfect place to workout.
Our trip through Peru was supported by Libertador Hotels & Resorts, however all above written expresses our own opinion and has not been influenced.
Currently media are going crazy and wild about one specific issue that actually also affects our day-to-day business. A blogger who was asking for a free stay in an Irish hotel has received a very harsh reply by the hotel’s owner and then went crazy by posting a video showing herself being treated in an offensive way by the hotel manager. Guess what, I am writing this piece while I am currently driving to the Principe Di Savoia in Milan - that one hotel that brought our entire business into operation. They were the first to contact US and they were the ones sending us a confirmation for a free one night stay in one of their Suites in return for Social Media coverage and a blog review since they loved my attention to detail in the hotel reviews plus the experience I already had back then. So for everyone who doesn’t understand or does not want to know how modern marketing works in today’s days, this article should not be read. However as one of the blogs that is mostly working in exchange for complimentary hotel stays, I found it necessary to post an update on this issue.
Let’s be clear with one thing: Travel Blogs, Influencer and Brand Ambassadors are all three defined as New Media Tools and are intermediaries for the travel business. Without putting anything into the focus, I would like to make a point as a student in higher education at the renowned Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne. Having already worked in renowned hotels as an employee in the Sales & Marketing Department, being the Editor in Chief of Luxury Executive and the Project Development Manager of a Media Company in Austria plus having access to thousand of marketing researches and concepts thanks to the Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, I am having quite an insight into the issues.
First of all the main purpose of intermediaries is to be a connection between the tourism industry businesses and the consumers. Influencers, publications, newspapers, radio and television do nothing else than giving a wide variety of recommendations to the end customers. What the customer buys is his own personal decision which could or could not have been influenced by the intermediary. It is very hard to provide evidence to which extend the customer has been influenced by an intermediary but this is not the purpose of this paper.
Since the intermediaries do have costs as well (eg photo equipment, notebooks, printers, author’s, publishers, filming equipment, research cost, travel expenses, and so on and so forth) it is absolutely necessary that intermediaries get paid well for their work. And yes they get paid by the customer in form of printed magazines, subscriptions or television fees. But it’s a fact that Influencers and Bloggers are not paid by the customers. So therefore it is a free information channel for the customer. We could say it is unfair but since it is like that from the beginning, there is nothing to change on that. Let’s now think who benefits from bloggers most? It’s the service provider of course (eg hotels, airlines) that benefits from a good advertisement. And now lets consider the costs of a magazine feature. One full page A4 feature in an Austrian magazine that is read by 70.000 people sells it’s one page features for 2.300,00 euro. On the other side, one magazine costs 5 euro per issue. Well that makes a huge revenue and this has always worked. So what is the issue now with blogger being invited to hotels in return for an exposure that is worth far more than just 2.300 euro. It’s not unfair, nor is it undeserved and also it’s not fake at all. Please note I am talking about bloggers that actually do stay at hotels and not those who just pretend to have done so (read here). It’s a shame that this one incident is harming the entire business because of one hotel manager that didn’t do his homework on how to adapt his marketing strategy to new media channels. Well now he does not need further exposure anymore so well done. I just remark that this story can also have a very negative effect. Every well educated expert in the marketing or tourism industry will tell that such a behaviour shows a lack of education from my point of view. I would never ever publish a statement to ban a group of people based on their job - it’s pure discrimination and absolutely unacceptable.
On the other hand there is the reaction of the blogger which was just too much. If we get ever declined by a hotel, the deal is done and life continues. That’s it and there is no need to blame even tough the hotel manager has the urge to share the request with the entire world. Again this is very unprofessional and a sign that he received such a request for the first time which also does not speak for the property. Now the entire situation escalated a bit with the owner of the hotel or manager sending an invoice to the blogger of 4.500.000 euros for the exposure generated “by him”. First, it might have been exposure because of him but he is not at all in the position to make any invoices since he is not the owner of the media and the media decides what to publish and post. Second, there is no need to take the time to keep this story running beside there is some real secret behind the story.
From our point of view and considering all the circumstances and steps in detail, we made our decision. For sure both of them, the hotelier and the blogger or vlogger are collaborating to increase their both’ visibility and reach of people. There is evidence that both the hotel in Dublin as well as the blogger received a serious amount of new follower and likes within short time. So basically they both benefited from their story which might only be artificially set up. Again, while there is no proof out of this story, all signs indicate the truth of our strategy and while these two parties gained a lot out of the process, it’s the other bloggers and intermediaries working hard with real and honest work as well as the hotels appreciating bloggers and alike who are suffering from the bad image. Bloggers are part of the system and shall be considered as such whether some hotels want or not. As luck would have it, there are also good sites of bloggers working with hotels. One example is the Villa Honegg in Switzerland which - thanks to Brazilian bloggers that have been invited for a one-night sty - gained so much visibility over night that they had to employ an entire marketing department and it is impossible to get a room still today if you don’t book months in advance. And how much did it cost the hotel? As hospitality insider, we know that hotels have a cost of an Empty room which is normally only considered when overbooking. So another sign showing that the hotelier in Dublin and the “offended” blogger worked together is the fuzzy email by the hotelier where he blames with arguments like: “Who pays the staff? Who pays for the electricity?” Well some honest advice to the hotelier (if he didn’t register yet - good luck in future if he does not know his costs) fix costs such as staff and electricity have to be paid anyway no matter if 1 room is occupied or all of them. On the other hand there are variable costs per room which only occur if a room is occupied.
Reasons why we have not encountered these issues:
most of our hotel partners are carefully selected by either our Editor in Chief Daniel Egger or Brand Specialist Niklas Ziegler who have an extremely well feeling of the target hotel’s business and behaviour
Therefore all our business partners are situated in the upper upscale market such as five star hotels and exclusive four star properties. These hotels are used to standardised media cooperations and therefore now how to handle media and what to offer
Since our cooperating partners are luxury hotels, the majority of them would never be rude to media partners as a german slogan says “you always meet twice in life” and never forget there are situations where you might need something from the other partner.
What’s there about politely decline an offer and ask media to contact them on another opportunity? Does politeness really cots money? Is it fair to harm an entire business that is working well and fair? People within one business should just respect each other it’s just a code of honor.
It was just right before Christmas Eve and definitely time to do a small detour on the trip from Lausanne back home to Austria. While we skipped the Swiss luxury hotels this time, I had one particular idea where to go: The Bregenzerwald area which is situated near Dornbirn and Bregenz in the Austrian region Vorarlberg – the westernmost region. No clue why but there are actually two upscale hotels in the pretty small but cosy town of Bezau. While one is more for holistic wellness and lovers of minimalistic style, the other one is more glamorous, royal so to say AND it’s mainly for couples. Having booked two suites for single use, travelling solo did not feel too bad at the Gams Bezau although we definitely missed our girlfriends and that’s the place to take them for a getaway.
Facts aside, you have to know that the Hotel Gams Bezau has a special programme for overnights on Thursday evening. Only on Thursday nights, the hotel turns into a magical palace in the orient according to the theme 1001 nights. All other days, the hotel runs business as usual. Luckily, we arrived on a Thursday and stayed for the extraordinary night. While we were a bit sceptical at first, all prejudices were gone after we drove into the garage directly, unpacking the car and being welcomed by the friendly front desk staff. Before we could even get approximate orientation, we were sitting on a carpet and the wind channel was turned on so that we could take a picture of our travel on a flying carpet en route to the Middle East. Once we were done, keys were handed over and we were directed the way to our suites. I always love to be accompanied to my room especially if it is a first time in a hotel, however as a four-star property it did not seem obvious to do this. On the other side, for these high rates, it would be a lovely touch from my point of view plus staff is here anyways.
Once we arrived on the third floor of the newly built tower (I was hoping to get a room there as the room layout is cooler than in the main building), we were surprised that there were no room numbers. Well that was the moment when I wished to have a front desk staff having accompany us. Anyways I figured out there were hints on the doors so I could find my suite for the night without problems. Generally, the suite was very airy, with amazing attention to details. The many curtains gave the room a feeling that it was vast and super cosy. With the entrée being separated, there was a wardrobe, make-up table, separate toilet and access to the long bathroom with vanity desk, walk-in shower and Jacuzzi bath tub overlooking the mountains. What I found a bit weird was that the bath towels were simply too small and the toiletries consisted of a pretty average no-name dispenser. On the other side, the bathroom was pretty huge with lots of space and had a perfect layout and looked stunning especially at night. My favourite part however was the living room with the plenty of pillows (it definitely looked like a room at the W hotels), superb television and open fire place – how more romantic can a hotel room be. Also the beds were just heavenly! Even tough I slept for only 8 hours it felt like more than 12 hours of sleep – well done! A spacious balcony with no neighbours being able to look into it can be used for warm summer nights.
Being the 1001 night on that given Thursday, the Spa was also opened until midnight which was a huge plus for us arriving so late. Above all, the hotel’s half board menu was turned into a buffet with cold Arabic and European dishes on the buffet, a live cooking station for hot dishes, soups and desserts. With the spa being the centre of the hotel all guests could eat and drink with their swimsuits and in their bathrobes, giving them the freedom to eat whenever and wherever they want. Being in the really heart of Central Europe, I was surprised of the variety of Arabic dishes and also how the Gams created a real Middle Eastern feeling. Having talked about the excellent food, I could also use the spa facilities until I was literally falling asleep. And so did I use the heated outdoor pool (which could be warmer by 2-3 degrees), hot Jacuzzi next to it and the relaxation room. On the other end of the spa is a sauna area with several saunas and steam baths plus another hot and a cold pool – these were mostly empty as they are quite hidden and therefore I loved them.
A heavenly sleep after, the hotel turned back into a wellness resort in Austria with no more oriental pieces. We made our way into the hotel’s main restaurant where they had a huge breakfast buffet with whatever you can dream of. Unfortunately, service was definitely lacking in this area. I ordered a hot chocolate and without hesitating they brought two simple coffees. Furthermore, we waited for quite a time until someone came to take the used plates. I simply guess they were understaffed that morning with a nearly full house the night before, which was not a huge issue since I preferred to stay with orange juice anyway and eggs being able to order at the super cool live cooking station in the historical part of the hotel with an amazing ceiling. Generally, their buffet was large and I was not disappointed having expected to find a generous selection of different cheeses from the area around the hotel. At least we are in the Bregenzerwald and it’s the most famous area in Austria for cheese.
All in all, it was a very cool stay at an interesting property. To be honest, it was the first hotel of this kind we have tested and also a premiere for me never having stayed in a hotel especially made for couples. With Thursday’s 1001 nights, the Gams is an absolute highlight for hotel geeks, and worth checking out. Considering the huge spa area and the facilities plus the vast breakfast and huge food selection at dinner, it is worth the money.
We were guests of Hotel Gams Bezau, however all above written has not been influenced and expresses our own opinion.
It’s the weekend before Christmas, all Christmas shopping done, gifts wrapped, outfits packed and ready to leave home but still having one more week before the flight is departing. I needed a last minute getaway from Lausanne and I remember there was this chic boutique hotel in that one town I never made it to. It’s the town where the most famous of all Christmas songs was filmed: Last Christmas by Wham. And we are in the pretty ski town of Saas-Fee, not a bit less spectacular than Zermatt. A windy, empty road brought me to the end of a snow capped valley with picturesque scenery and rustic houses, having passed what seemed to be the main town of the valley, the road began to become steeper and I had to unwind a few more meters until I reached a huge parking garage lacking information on how to get into town. So I parked and unpacked my car in the shady, mysterious light of the garage, right before I arrived at what seemed to be the main pick-up/drop-off area of the town. A quick call to the hotel and two minutes later, the driver and the cute electric car arrived and took care of my luggage. Before I even realized where in the world I landed, I was already in the heart of town with pretty shops and plenty of snow surrounding me. In front of a small but brand new chalet, the car stopped and the door opened. A slight: “Willkommen im The Capra” – was welcoming me to the accommodation for the weekend: The Capra Saas Fee.
Me coming from the warmer area of Lausanne, recently switching into the Ugg’s and wearing the Parajumper for the first time of this year, I was not ready for the cold yet. Honestly, it was freezing. Well, maybe someone forgot to tell me that Saas-Fee is at altitude of 1.800 meters and it was something around minus 7 degrees Celsius, so no wonder. Once I stepped into the chic inside, I was greeted by Ms Rebekka who also took care of sending the driver to pick me up. She was welcoming me in the most charming way plus with my last name even tough I did not mention my name before (of course via the phone call when she heard my name and therefore might have been expecting me). I felt totally appreciated as a very valued guest and to all my surprise this feeling was further elaborated with more personal touches and conversations throughout the stay. Ms Rebekka offered me a seat in the ultra cozy lounge with a fire place and asked me for a welcome drink. While I was enjoying the excellent white wine from the Valais area, she took a seat, opened a conversation about my arrival and in between talking about possible activities, the weather forecast and the hotel facilities, she handed over the check-in paper I filled out quickly. She let me finish my drink and came back to pick me up after 15 minutes or so. I can’t remember the last time I had such a relaxing, attentive yet perfect check-in. Honestly, they got how check-in can be done in the most relaxing way.
Before I could even express how amazed I already was by the property itself, we were already on the hotel tour, showing me around the hotel. When the tour was over, I was shown my Signature Suite on the third floor overlooking the town and the glacier. I was a little bit insecure whether I was in a showroom of an interior design company or in an actual hotel room, the details were just on point and the entire property’s design was totally on par with the surroundings and the time it was built. While it does not feel too much Swiss, I rather had a very international feeling – meaning the hotel could also be in Germany, Austria or Colorado. Aside me being impressed, the suite was very spacious, with plenty of wardrobe space and a semi-complimentary minibar (soft drinks and water was free, snacks & wine upon a charge) in the entrée, a sofa with armchair and a working desk in the living room as well as a very cosy and heavenly double bed with another television in the bedroom. My suite also offered a huge balcony with two chairs accessible from the living- and bedroom. The very alpine styled bathroom had a separate walk-in shower with very good pressure, a toilet, single vanity desk as well as a bathtub with Bogner amenities.
Turn-down service was done when I was heading downstairs for dinner and housekeeping service when I went to swim in the newly opened, so there was absolutely nothing missing in terms of room and comfort. Since I arrived quite late and it was already 7pm – with my dinner reservation at 8pm, I headed towards the private spa instead of the newly opened The Capra Spa situated in the other chalet (tough accessible in bathrobe via a tunnel). The smaller, more personal “Private Spa” is actually the first spa that was used to be their only one until the opening of the newer space and features a sauna, steam bath and a hot Jacuzzi with lounge chairs next to it. Even tough it is on the small site, it is ideal to have some privacy and escape for an hour or two. Before I headed to the restaurant, I changed into “Chalet Chic” style to fit the elegant atmosphere of The Capra. I really begin to love hotels that spread a “secret dress code”, meaning they don’t ask you to wear a specific style, tough their atmosphere secretly tells you what to wear. While The Capra operates two different food concepts in peak season, I was only able to try the Brasserie concept (they have a fine dining concept from Christmas onwards). Therefore, I went for a salmon ceviche as a starter before I had the lamb chop with fries, cream spinach and sauce béarnaise. Honestly, the food was on par with the design and fully worth the splurge. I mean I cannot let you go to Saas-Fee without having real Swiss Fondue at least once, however I can tell you staying at the hotel for dinner is an amazing option, too.
The next morning, after the best sleep I have had in three weeks, I discovered the breakfast buffet set up in a small room between the restaurant and the kitchen. I totally loved the small selection on the buffet with high quality products and the option to choose from the menu for all other breakfast dishes. I went for eggs benedict, which again were just perfect and totally meeting my expectations. Service during breakfast was slightly better than during dinner, however to be fair, I think they did not expect to be so full that night. All employees are outstanding, very dedicated and super friendly, they always take the time to chat with you and offer a most personal experience. After breakfast I did some work and then went out to discover the town of Saas-Fee with its shops selling local crafts. Once I came back, I was offered a hot chocolate – of course by Caotina – as it should be for Switzerland. I have to add that this Sunday there was heavy snowfall and the highways were shutting down due to lots of accidents and the massive amounts of snow. I am sure Saas-Fee got between 50-90 centimetres of new snow, fulfilling the cliché of Wham’s Last Christmas and my Winter Wonderland imagination.
Soon afterwards, I was sitting on the refreshing indoor pool in my bathrobe, listening to Christmas music and getting ready to dip into the extremely cosy heated outdoor vitality pool just next to the indoor pool. It was a feeling that was really unique – having snowflakes falling into your face while you enjoy the bubbles of a heated pool surrounded by fresh snow. I mean how picturesque can a ski holiday get? That evening ended with a fabulous dinner including truffle risotto and sea bream. I had a truly amazing stay at one of the most magnificent properties in the Alps and I have to admit that the rates are absolutely accurate considering the personal service and the stunning array of facilities they offer including a design that is on par. I would like to highlight the excellent management which is seen in the little details and the General Manager himself drove me back to the garage when all his staff members were busy for a moment. Honestly, The Capra is not really a hotel as you would expect it, it’s more a private chalet and you are sharing it with a few other guests you don’t know yet. One could also consider it as a private member’s club where you have a high staff to guest ratio. Anyways, I absolutely loved it and I am glad that I had the chance to stay here!
I was a guest of The Capra Saas-Fee and my stay was arranged through Faulhaber Marketing. However all above written expresses my own opinion and has not been influenced. Picture Credits by Luxury Executive
Yes, this is a continuation of our wine-intensive weekend at Merano Wine Festival where we had the exclusive privilege to stay at Castel Fragsburg - a long time favourite of ours. However being arrived on Friday, having been at the wine festival the whole Saturday, I was in mood for a relaxing hangover Sunday at a wellness place. Since I definitely wanted to make it to my friends place Oberwirt am Grieß in the town of Lana, there was just one option left to stay. Actually it was a place I always wanted to stay and thanks to a special deal at Designhotels - one of our cooperation partners - I was finally able to experience the famous Vigilius. Having been referred by ourlovely PR manager Ines, I somewhat knew what to expect and how the stay would be like.
The most unique part is the actual location at an altitude of 1.500 meters high above the town of Lana - only accessible by cable car. Other than at the Riffelalp resort in Zermatt where we have seen a similar arrival, the tickets up the hotel are free for guests. This was already much appreciated and me and Felix were in for a surprise. Having arrived at noon, our room was not ready yet, however we decided to have lunch in the Stube Ida - the hotel‘s local and more casual restaurant option. While I was totally surprised of the prices, I could not say 12 euros is expensive for a huge escalope viennese style. Neither could we complain about the simple but good quality of the dishes. When the room was still not ready at 1pm, we made ourselves comfortable in one of the living rooms that boasted plenty of privacy and started streaming the FIS ski race. Within 30 minutes a friendly lady arrived and accompanied us to the room. While I knew that I am entitled to a one-category upgrade and being booked in the highest room category, this would actually result in a Suite. I checked the online availabilities and yes they had suites available. One call after, the front desk manager (he seemed to be after all) came to the room, apologized and showed us to the suite which was nothing but IMPRESSIVE!
A huge living room with a classy Matteo Thun sofa was the focus of the first view, followed by the cozy dining table in the corner, the comfortable armchairs and the two antique dressers. The highlight tough remained the massive glass wall with these splendid vistas of even the Dolomites - generally you could say you see the entire South Tyrol. There was no door to the bedroom however it‘s a design hotel so the focus is on design rather comfort. Anyways there was a huge king bed with the walk in wardrobe behind and a separated toilet that looked like a museum-worthy exhibition rather than a toilet chair. Next stop was the open bathroom with double vanities, walk-in shower and bathtub in front of the glass front to fully enjoy the majestic views.
After having gotten a perfect outfit for the both of us, we were getting dressed up for the best night of this eventful weekend. Just in time for the dinner reservation we took the last cable car down at around 7 something. One of the best things about this cable car is that it also runs at 10 and 11pm so you are more flexible when it comes to dinner options. And once you stay at the Vigilius you definitely need to try out the Oberwirt restaurant in Lana at Grieß 1. So did we and in fact it was just amazing - again. When we took the last cable car up the mountain, we arrived to a winter wonderland with fresh snow and another bottle of wine was opened. This time a classy South Tyrolean white by Hofstätter. We enjoyed our generous accommodation and the luxuries of our suite until we fell into the bed.
One of the most amazing feelings one can have - in my opinion - is waking up to a picture perfect winter wonderland when all mountains and trees are capped in fresh powder snow. My colleague being concerned about the winds, I had just one thing in mind and that started with S and ended with PA... Spa. Their indoor pool is actually one of the most photogenic pools in Northern Italy and with a perfect warm temperature it was the only right place to relax and linger on the hangover day like ours after a wine intensive weekend. There is also a hot jacuzzi next to the pool with an outdoor area which is simply amazing after a day of hiking, skiing or simply after trying out the local food and wines.
After I enjoyed the spa for a bit, it was time to leave and say goodbye. At check-out we had an issue with the bill, they had a position on the check that was not supposed to be there, however after telling them they immediately removed it. Before we left, the staff handed us over dried apple pieces as well as water bottles as a fairwell gift. All in all it was a great place to stay after two nights at the Castel Fragsburg to enjoy the spa facilities and a warm indoor pool, however I was struggling with the fact to always push the staff. They are not going the step further and fulfil all your wishes before you even tell them. You will need to tell them what you want in order to be a satisfied guest. In order to be successful in today's days, staff needs to be trained to be a bit more interactive and personal to get the feeling for what their guests might need even if they don't say it.
Finally it's a fair 6.5 out of 10 Points
We paid for our stay at the Vigilius Mountain Resort and this post was not sponsored in any way. It represents our personal opinion as usual and - obviously - has not been influenced.
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