Breakfast in Tuscany

June 3, 2012 in ITALY | Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , ,

Picture 1 of 13

Four Seasons park view

Notes written 20 to 26 May during breakfast at three hotels in Florence and in the surrounding Tuscan hills. I enjoy the sense of place arising after a morning cappuccino…especially in Italy.

Monday Four Seasons Firenze

Strains of violins, with Rococo nostalgia and flourish. In tune with the décor of the Four Seasons dining room, elaborately lavish and ornate, but in taste. Perfectly in style.  I try to drink it in. It is an experience to be here – perfect lifestyle.

I ask for vanilla tea. A polite pause. He returns. We have no vanilla tea…pause. But we have… my mind runs to Ceylon tea in a yellow bag. Wrong. “We have real vanilla beans in hot water”. I remembered my usual morning tea with Oatley cream but felt that too much so asked instead for hot milk. So I now have a delicate jug of hot milk and await the real vanilla tea. It comes in a silver pot, while music ripples and triples. But I realize it is divine vanilla water without tea.  I finally delicato ask for tea to add to my vanilla. It finally comes  but my glasses are off so I allow him to gently ruin my vanilla with Earl Grey. The mystery tea (mystery why people think it is superior).

So that was a failure despite the best intentions. My morning caffeine is still required.

Charming waiter with a melodious Italian voice asks: Was your tea right now?

Oh, I said, not wanting to tell him I don’t like Earl Grey – he has been so keen to please. So instead I say: Now is the time for my coffee.

Americano?

Latte please…café latte. Now that was fine.

My omelette was also a Four Seasons experience in ultimate service. I asked Could I have an omelet with cheese and tomato … no meat. My charming waiter said: I have better – with mozzarella and herbs and tomato.

Delicious. And now I cannot eat more. I do not even need the delights of the buffet, among which is date cake tasted yesterday as subtly sweet as you could wish, like a mere whisper of temptation.

I am waiting for A. She is not ready yet.

The breakfast room opens into the private park. And so do the best rooms look that way into the greenery. Our room doesn’t – it looks into narrow lane Borgo Pinti. Where the main entrance is.

It has rained like a drain so further visits to town seem horrendous. Luckily Four Seasons is an art study and a romance kick all in itself.

And by the way – I have found out – they do keep a small stock of almond milk. Now why didn’t I think of that for my tea or my cappuccino?

 

Wednesday Villa Mangiacane

 A quiet moment with the tinkling of piano music, soft and fluid. My perfect cappuccino. The shabby chic chairs with purposeful chips in the gray paint have charm. A little Shetland pony stands outside the window, where the view stretches out over Tuscan countryside. Under the white grey sky a soft fertile green with patches of woodland, vineyards and olive groves.

The main feel here at Villa Mangiacane after two nights is contentment and ease despite the rain. It’s the highly personal service; though laced with unexpected interludes and little eccentricities, you feel friendliness overall.

I had no idea when booking the car that the hotel was so casual and generous with shuttles – i.e. lifts to town (Florence) or “the village” – the pretty little provincial town of San Casciano (Cashana) 5km away. Not it turned out according to timetable, but on demand – if they can fit you in.

Apart from great local dining and coffee bars al fresco , we found two shops for sunglasses (Dior, Gucci, Dolce cabana etc) cheaper in this village than in Florence, and a designer “outlet” from Milan in the cute narrow shopping streets lined with roses.  And four shoe shops. So we lost desire for our car that was to be an escape from what we imagined would be a snobbish place – an old palace built by Machiavelli – “nobleman’s home”.

In fact Machiavelli never lived here. He wrote The Prince in one of the houses on the ridge facing his palace. He oversaw the designs and his plans are now in the Uffizi. He died before he could move in.

His architect was also the designer of the Duomo in Florence, we were told. So at some stage the direction of the villa was changed to give a view of the Duomo – now golf ball size on the horizon. They obtain permission every few years to cut a V shape in their own woodlands. Next cut is next year 2013, said Juan, the GM.

The hotel is richly attired in eclectic fashion, with haunts of history and fancy – all embraced by vines and Tuscan greenery – somehow gently unpredictable, warm and exuberant, Italian style. But actually no longer owned by an Italian. A South African has bought it as a home from home and costs of maintenance made sense of turning it into a hotel.

Thursday Villa Mangiacane

 Cappuccino in Italy. Where else can it taste so good? Cake today for breakfast instead of croissants. The same cake as at complimentary afternoon tea. Delivered bit by bit on a tray by a girl who crosses the park from the kitchen to the comfortable lounge in the original villa Machiavelli with its Baroque frescoes and details.

Last night we crossed through the vineyards (500 metres)  to restaurant Albergaccio Di Nicolò Machiavelli in the little hamlet on the ridge, Sant’andrea. We were told it is better than the restaurants we experienced earlier in San Casciano:  Cantinetta del Nunno and Cinque di Vino. However  I preferred the San Casciano eateries. The pasta at Machiavelli was cold in areas and warm in others, as if reconstituted from  pre-prepared ingredients of different vintage. Cheese sauce does need heat to taste good. We sent it back and finally it did taste right. But not before I had remembered our experiences in Provence. Roadside restaurants with tourists dining rather than locals, ALBEIT picturesque and Provencal, did not perform well in culinary terms. In Machieavelli we saw just tourists from our own hotel.  The simple Nunno with its modest prices was full of locals (and some tourists also booked there by our hotel).

Carmen is playing, as the mist clears and sunshine floods the grapevines, with a shimmering haze over distant trees. Life is good. Second cappuccino even better: round, foamy, rich.

We are entitled to omelette with our buffet breakfast  – which otherwise costs 20 euros. Nice omelette. The buffet is not huge, but it has quality, strawberries and kiwis, luckily some plain yoghurt among all the fruity ones in plastic tubs, some hams and cheese for those who like to eat that on their bread…adequate. It is the view and the ambience, not to forget the cappuccino that makes it delightful.

Friday the Savoy Florence

View of Piazza della Repubblica through glass doors. Quiet now – last night brimming over with life. Icecream festival, merry go round, yellow benches under canvas. But the icecreams dripped in the heat after a 28 deg C day and we dumped them in the trash. Then made for the inviting street tables of the Savoy with the privacy of a ring of Rosemary bushes. Coffee 6 euro. Definitely worth it for the sensation of living out Florence lifestyle in the balmy evening (at last), with the pulse of a live band floating over from another pavement cafe in the Piazza.

This lively square is a haven of peace in comparison with the Piazza adjoining and surrounding Duomo–number one item to tick off the ‘must see’ list.  Other must sees close by are the somewhat tarnished glamour of Ponte Vecchio, and the huge weight of Renaissance and medieval heritage that is the Uffizi. Then  past the Duomo and the long queues you reach Galleria dell’accademia and the uplifted wonder of the original David,  surrounded by worshippers and duty visitors with itching hands (not allowed to take snapshots) – though they make up for it next to the gigantic burlesquely coloured David copy in the Accademia courtyard. Miles of facebook smiles.

But back to the Savoy. You get the must sees close by and the must be’s (moments of being, like sitting at the Savoy tables staring out). Here and now.

Ten out of ten for location said the Australian woman at the next table…also staring out…

Her name is Goldie.

Been cruising and staying at Leading Hotels (she is a member). She was disappointed they hadn’t upgraded her at the Savoy from her Classic room, when she had been upgraded everywhere else. Her room was too low down she felt. Our executive room on the 5th floor (same level as the gym) was small but uplifted by sky and the view of the whole square. My confidante Goldie was rather upset over having to pay extra for her eggs when she had buffet breakfast included. But the small buffet was excellent quality – most Scandinavians would not need more than the espresso or cafe latte (included), Parma ham, salami, smoked salmon and big choice of cheeses – not sliced neatly with your obligatory cheese slicer, but put out in hunks of the best. Fresh breads of course. And fruit salad of tropical fruit chopped small.

Now I love Italy, A. said, adding: I remember annoying men in Rome but here they are normal. Indeed, they look appreciatively, but do not goggle or coo, and certainly bottom pinching days are over even for gorgeous girls. Or is it just the North? The North was always held up as an example of Italian refinement.

But back to the Savoy. Yes 10 out of 10 for location and a soothing Roccoforte hotel with Michelin star restaurant, al fresco dining, pleasant service. Food prices not over the top for your Michelin starred dinner. Plus the concierge is on the ball to help with dining Tuscan fare out on the town.

PS

I used to think that plastic Davids in all the shop windows cheapened the David – just imagine how many Davids and other treasures are featured in Facebook merely because someone is smiling in front of them. Or am I a hopeless snob…who has never forgiven facebook for changing the face of chats to be so surface oriented, compared with the deep world of the imagination called up by the first chat sites when you used communications programmes rather than www platforms.


Coco Reef: olde charm

May 27, 2012 in TRINIDAD & TOBAGO | Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 10

Coco Beach sunloungers

Coco Reef Resort & Spa

Beachside property. Pastel and pretty, with an old fashioned charm some might call dated. Flowers flourish in and out, on curtains and bedspreads, and in immaculate manicured gardens with white Italian style balustrades. Little bas reliefs remind of century old boudoir ware. Rattan furniture, sea views and the palm-lined beach, bring a meeting of beach holiday feel and pretty parlour hideaway.

The lobby is a pleasantly spacious place, with gleaming earth coloured tiles, high roof, mini gardens and white marbled sculptures echoing a quant old fashioned feel in new mint condition. Very fresh!

We were shown a honeymoon suite and given a two bedroom suite as dayroom, both of which opened into a garden and terrace with seaview.

The honeymoon suite was on two levels, had a smart up to date bathroom, pretty bedroom (of course) (not super-king as I remember it), lounge  and dining room opening out onto the terrace and its sea view. The TV was gigantic, which might be a good place to hang since some former guests have complained on Trip Advisor that there was not enough to do.

Problem there. Some want lots of entertainment and partying. Some want peace and quiet. So hotels do need to decide who they want to please. I think Coco Reef might have chosen the latter.

Anyway the Coral Suite we enjoyed had two very nice pretty bedrooms en suite with more old fashioned bathrooms. Everywhere the old earth coloured gleaming tiles (that I personally like very much for their genuine feel), small lounge and kitchen.

Who are the customers I asked?

Couples or families, UK Germans, Scandinavians.  No kids club but activities in season.

135 rooms, suites and villas, 114 with ocean views. Only 3 minutes from the airport, but the planes do not fly over the resort.


Tobago: water bliss

May 13, 2012 in TRINIDAD & TOBAGO | Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Stonehaven Villas early morning bliss

and at sea

Food on Tobago

 

We dined at the Seahorse Inn one night. One of the island’s best finds. Just off the road it has a pleasant terrace where you look  down through palms to glimpses of sea. I ate red snapper (c 150 tt dollars) but the lobster looked divine, especially the thermidor version (395 tt dollars), a good price by our Northern standards. We only had two nights on Tobago (and one on Trinidad) that “long” visit. The first night we ate at Le Grand Courlan I had a nice red snapper but Tiina was very cross over her overdone steak (also on second attempt).

I ate fish (red snapper and dolphin fish) and salads throughout my stay. Christine at the tourist office had told me T&T is hygienically “just like home”.  So I ate freely without my usual concern over food poisoning as experienced a few unpleasant times in life. My confidence somehow caught up with me, to be exact during a hotel inspection. Facing the plane journey I was given some immodium.


ALL ROOMS WITH PRIVATE POOL

June 12, 2011 in GREECE | Comments (11)

Tags: , , , ,

Picture 1 of 14

Beach at Porto Elounda

ELOUNDA PENINSULA ALL-SUITE HOTEL

Pride and Joy of the Kokotos family – but very different from Elounda Mare  described in previous blogs. 

Architect Spyros Kokotos & CEO Eliana Kokotos helped to launch Elounda area as Crete’s luxury mile with Elounda Mare and its romantic pool bungalows. Next to be built was nearby Porto Elounda with large shared pools, more activities and easier prices  – appealing to families. Then in the mid 1990s Elounda SA Resorts launched their most luxurious resort – Elounda Peninsula All-Suite.

It is all suite accommodation, all with pools. It was far more urban in feel and attracted lots of newly moneyed people who felt comfortable with everything brand new and contemporary. The intention was to draw people who wanted to be seen. But it ended up being even more of a hideaway than Elounda Mare – albeit without the maze of paths in flowery gardens.  A really attractive breakfast room with view over the water is hardly used. People like to dine in suite. Guests seem to have a habit of moving in to this home from home and can stay months. Husband jet-sets on business and wife and kids bury themselves in the Peninsula and its luxuries.

The property has only 66 suites. The Club area includes a wine cellar, a home movie theatre where, for example, the British Royal wedding was watched by guests.

WHERE TO STAY

The presidential suites along the waterfront appeal. All with sizable waterfront pools and private sea access, albeit rather adventurous  access as far as I could see. From stone platforms with sunbeds above the waves a ladder drops onto the turbulence of waves slapping on rocks. Some do offer access to the beach and no doubt a less adventurous descent.

Décor is attractive with blue and green giving a fresh spring and water feel. Built on different levels – dining area looking down on lounge and its huge windows, light and views.

But surprisingly the gardens on the terraces seemed a bit austere, unlike the perfect gardens at Elounda Mare. No doubt a signal that this hotel is more for citytypes.

Unfortunately I didn’t see the spacious junior suites with pools on the beach front. Not did I see the Peninsula Palace suite …. a “Royal Grand Suite” and the “Peninsula Residence” can be combined into this vast waterfront hotel suite.

The top accommodation I saw was the Royal Grande Suite (costing a sum afforded by celebrities). This is vast, with contemporary modern simplicity of uncomplicated space and hi tech features: lift (elevator), hammam, sauna, indoor pool with tropical garden – as well as the large outdoor pool and terrace. The living room brings church like awe with its very high roof and tall windows – and tall chimney. The dining room with long table is on a higher level and looks dizzingly down on the lounge. The nice surprise was the indoor pool with tropical banana palms – the worst surprise was the body’s guard’s room with separate entrance – Why did it have to be so small – to stop him getting uppity?

The lead-in type – “Collection” suites (1, 2 and 3 bedrooms) – also have blue and green décor. Built on two levels – all have distant sea view looking down and over the presidential and other suites. They all have pools in front but tall walls to give privacy makes them feel very compact compared with the Presidential.

PORTO ELOUNDA

A resort for people who want to meet other people, be active and enjoy children’s facilities. Spa is vast and impressive. There is also a super high tech conference facility for 5000 people. Beach is a sandy crescent around the inner edge of the yacht harbour backed by grassy area with sunbeds. Pools.

Facilities shared by all three Elounda SA Resorts include: Kid’s area, dive club, tennis courts, two yachts for charter, 9-hole golf course, and yet another Greek Orthodox chapel and shopping centre. 

Altogether there are 7 restaurants between 3 resorts, and 5 bars.

The lobby at Port Elounda is kind of empty and echoing, as if one doesn’t want anything in the way of the children.  Actually very relaxing for parents – less public property for them to destroy. 42 deluxe rooms have been newly renovated and were clean and bright with wide sea views – balconies have been given glass walls to improve the view. The Executive suites are most livable, with plenty space and big decks and big pools. The tall khaki coloured walls create privacy cutting you off from other pools. I was also shown a junior suite interconnecting with a suite, and sharing the same pool.

I can see that Porto Elounda is great for families on a budget. Elounda Mare is still my favourite – and I am not alone. Elounda Mare was fondly voted in again in 2010 onto Conde Nast Gold List, among the top 20 in Europe according to Conde Nast USA.

See my previous blogs and pix by myself and Aleah.


BLUE WORLD – BLUE PALACE

May 22, 2011 in GREECE | Comments (16)

Tags: , , , ,

Picture 1 of 12

Turquoise water clear as crystal washes white stones on Blue Palace beach

By the iconized arches, the pool is as blue as all the pictures. So is the sky.  Even without Photoshop and all the image makers of Starwood, this is a blue and dazzling world. No point in taking a picture of the arches – they are on every tourist website.

The  terraces of Blue Palace are magnificent with or without pictures. Distinguishing, memorable. The  international set chill out here in serenity induced by views – endless sunbeds and infinity pool. Communing with laptops via wifi – free, like the air.

Down below is the turquoise sea. A very rich and startling turquoise. Beyond is the hump of Spinalonga island. Brown and coppery –  traced with old walls – the colour of the land.

Mountains are a perfect backdrop. A burnished richness in the tones echoes the natural stone that distinguishes the hotel and its famous architect.

Hard to tear yourself away from the terraces. But there is so much to do…

Firstly you must enjoy your own pool. More than half of the rooms have pools. Here you feel ownership, blissful privacy …. gentle sun and cold May water…

Or you could take the funicular down to the sea. Startlingly beautiful sea because the water laps onto white stones that create the crystalline turquoise dappled effect you dream of. Wooden walkways on the beach keep your feet comfortably off the stones and there are plenty of sunbeds with towel service.

Mesmerizing to hear the water lapping, and stare across at Spinalonga  with its castle that once protected a city at nearby Elounda (4km). Later the island became a leper colony and even later won fame in Hislop’s bestseller. Wind swoops down out of a blue sky and lifts the hair…

Nearby is the spa, Blue Palace’s beach restaurant, and its Greek taverna. The main restaurant is way up to the top on the funicular, above the lobby. The gourmet restaurant is half way up the slope…

Restaurants at Blue Palace are not cheap – but we did try the  beach restaurant. Sadly service was quite surly. We came at 3pm (it closes at 4pm).

One of the best assets of Blue Palace is Plaka: just 5 or 10 minutes walk along the road. This is a really pleasant little fishing village, also built in natural stone, where in no time at all we met a man with a guitar once played by Jimmy Page; and were treated to raki, the pure and fiery cololourless liquid they make locally all over Crete. Come back and have a party, he urged. Play the guitar and the bazouki (?

The most magnificent thing about Blue Palace is its isolated position – with only delightful Plaka as a neighbour. Fresh fish and Greek traditional fare are nicely presented along the waterfront in simple but chic restaurants that have kept a traditional feel. Not too many tourist-hungry pizza signs in Plaka. Plenty of all that in Elounda…

Elounda is tourist town. Some call it the St Tropez of Crete. Lots of five star hotels. Designer shops. Lots of curio shops and even more restaurants competing to urge you in. Cheaper than Blue Palace. But not as relaxing.

Its a joy to return to our hotel. Now it is evening. We have new “designer” sunglasses. New hats. And we head for the wonderful terraces.

On a chillish night its best to retire to the Turkish nooks that line the bar area. They are intimate and magically lit with lanterns. Perfect spots for your wifi and evening mail.

But now it is time to retire, because morning in the superior bungalow with pool is simply wonderful, with sunlight streaming in and the terrace golden. We don’t want to sleep it away.

Our bungalow is actually a room in a long block. These traverse the slopes.  What is basically a long pool in front of a block is divided into private pools. Sunbeds on the floor of the terrace give privacy to your neighbours – but in some cases you see the pool rather than the sea from down there. Your own watery world.

The original hotel built in 2003 was added onto in 2006 with the south wing – among the flatroofed accomodations in terracotta or beige lies the Royal Blue Villa. Lady Gaga stayed there – or so I heard on the grape vine. Quite roomy, and quite stylishly simple with white furniture. Gone are the days when stars destroyed their hotels…

These days people destroy their hotels in Trip Advisor. Well, not pop stars – but ordinary people outraged by walls that block their views or not-so-honest marketing. We all mean well I think. We want to promote our products as we call hotels in the travel and hospitality business. We feel that pictures will CREATE reality. Perfect pictures. Perfect reality. Travel is all based on dreams…

That is the idea.

Managing expectations is quite another concept. If you dont promise too much they wont be disappointed.

That’s why I am grateful to Trip Advisor. So when I travel I will never expect too much…

I am only delighted, as I was with Blue Palace.

A magical place. Every moment perfect.


ALMYRA – DESIGN HOTEL PAFOS

April 16, 2011 in CYPRUS | Comments (185)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 16

Almyra main pool

Almyra is a Design Hotel. Simplicity is the keynote, in a style based on straight lines and Mediterranean flat roofs – but there are little touches that spell Designer and Balance. Throughout it offers comfort, oodles of light and blue sea views…

A walking promenade lies between Almyra and the Beach, leading round the bay to the port and castle.

Almyra doesn’t have the long sandy beach and knock-dead natural setting of its sister hotel Anassa. It fronts a small sandy beach, nestled between rocks. Nor is Almyra five star deluxe like Anassa. Though it has a spa, hairdresser, kid’s club, all the pools you need (four), fabulous food at a choice of restaurants and friendly service, it is somehow not firmly five star, but excellent value and very lovable, especially for families.

Between Almyra and its other sister hotel Annabelle, there are plenty of restaurants for dine around – making half board a good option. But close by are many more restaurants in the town and on the beachfront, as well as cafes and bars. Plus shops of course, with rather low prices. And then others with not such low prices.

On the beachfront lies the pool area. The main pool has a dark floor so it retains solar energy. There is also a kid’s pool shaded in summer and warmed in winter. If you want to get away from kids on the other hand, the spa has an outdoor pool for adult’s only. A serene place, small but with a view over the bay. The spa also has an indoor heated pool.

The top suites at Anassa are Kyma. Perfect spots for listening to the sound of the waves or staring out to sea. Mesmerizing. The Kyma suite has a sofa placed just inside the wide glass frontage, perfect place for sea gazing, and opens onto a small verandah with more seating and a grass terrace with your own two sunbeds and parasols. The verandah is more private than the sunbeds, as your neighbor’s sunbeds are close by. Though you can’t see the path just below, you can sometimes hear voices above the sound of the waves.

The other special thing about a Kyma suite is the flat rooftop patio. You have your own patio for each suite, lying side by side with other private sitting areas on the rooftop. From there the view goes across the bay to the castle.

Kyma suites can interconnect to suit families.

If you don’t want kids as neighbours, you might enjoy an Atheon room – in a block of adults only rooms (see image in the gallery above).  Or if you have kids and don’t want them to fall off the balcony – a Superior Seaview room – no balcony. Instead the balcony space is incorporated into the room (a total of 28 sqm) (see image). Then again, if you do want private outdoor space you have a choice of a terrace room or a verandah room (28 sqm including the balcony). To delight families there are loads of connecting rooms for family intimacy. You might connect a terrace room with a junior suite for example. The junior suite has a sofa bed and can accommodate a child in the extra bed and also a baby cot – in a total of 35 sqm. One-bedroom suites are 55 sqm including a separate lounge. The two-bedroom suite has most space – 73 sqm.

 Wi-fi is complimentary at Almyra – good news for those who find it difficult to pay for something that these days seems as natural as air.

But don’t get stuck.  I do recommend you go out and see the mosaics and ruins of the Unesco site. Even if just to see the flowers popping up between the ancient stones…


MORE ANASSA MAGNIFICENCE

in CYPRUS | Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 19

Blue world and the terrace


ANASSA PARTY PEOPLE

April 2, 2011 in CYPRUS | Comments (19)

Tags: ,

Picture 1 of 20

Cocktails at Anassa Friday

“No”, said Polis. “No!”

Polis is the Director of Sales for the luxurious Thanos hotels. We were at the Thanos spring party disco, and I asked him. “Do you often have disco at Anassa?”

Horror on his face. “No!”….

Anassa, their queen property, is a place usually of supreme tranquility. Here you can get rid of energy with squash, tennis, sailing, windsurfing, swimming, walking, hiking, mountain biking…or just dissolve it all at the thalasso spa with saltwater jets, massages and floating. Or dream on the terrace amid endless views, enfolded in soft arm chairs,  float in the heated pool, or recline on the beach  on a sunbed, served with whatever you wish to drink…

But this weekend it was different. After the gala dinner the pulse of disco echoed under the Byzantine dome, caught between mosaic floor and blue cupola…

We danced around the landing at the top of the grand stairs.

Snapshots in the gallery above…include various cocktail parties, gala dinner and the disco.


CYPRUS – BACK IN THE MAGIC

in CYPRUS | Comments (8)

Tags: , , ,

Picture 1 of 20

Garden setting, mountains and beach

Spring again in Cyprus. Back in the land of Aphrodite…

They call Anassa the queen. The most beautiful hotel on Cyprus and surely one of the world’s treasures. It is an astounding piece of art created out of marble, inspired by history. Motifs from the ancients, are mixed with medieval cloisters, fountains, domes and cupolas and even a real Byzantine church is part of the hotel, nestled in a village square where in summer they have village type events. And of course weddings.

The grand hotel with its gleaming lobbies and terraces offers exquisite suites, including Adonis and Aphrodite – some might give their nest egg to spend a week in those two suites – with jacuzzi on the balcony overlooking the ocean and  long beach.

Apart from the usual choice of swimming pools, Anassa basks in the privilege of an unspoilt beach – tawny sands stretching up to golden cliffs on one side and the mountains of the Akamas peninsula on the other. The beach would of course look freer without the wooden walkway to the sunloungers in one corner. And much better without the string of lights that were still there by the bar when we arrived. But it is still beautiful with its cinammon sands against the blue of sea and sky.

And there was almost noone there again.  Last year it was cappuchino on the beach and the waiter ran because I requested my coffee hot – a coffee cost 7 euros.  This year my choise was water. My bottle of water (a stiff 4 euros) had a sparse elegance I felt worth picturing.

And yes the sun was warm again. 20 degrees. On Saturday it was really hot – enough to burn us.

We also had a weekend of lavish meals yet again. So much seafood, wonderful salads, Italian specialities, melt-in-mouth desserts in extaordinary displays of tempting food passions…

ROOMS

This year we had a garden studio suite.  Deliciously light and Mediterranean in feel. Our balcony had some four hours of sun in the morning, a pleasant place to be with a view of deep blue sea between the hotel on the right and garden suites on the left. The garden suites have a peaceful village style setting along winding paths – and all manage some kind of seaview or other. A little cold at this time of year to wander in light clothes to dinner (a few minutes walk – or a  quick breezy buggy ride=.

Last year our studio suite in the main building had an extra large terrace with fabulous view of the sea, which saw the sun about two hours a day. In the high summer at 40 degrees, the shade on the terrace is probably divine. But I still prefer the idea of the rooms on the sunset side, which face the mountain and sea  –  balconies just the place for sundowners. Or the ultimate – if only if only – the Aphrodite or Adonis suites which have everything you wish.

More about them later…


ISLAND FEELING – LE TOUESSROK

March 5, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 18

Le Touessrok pool

Island holiday feeling. Le Touessrok is built on a sandy peninsula lined with palms and extends onto an offshore islet ringed by beach and lagoon, so suites are all ocean front or beachfront. The island experience is extended to two more islands offshore, one with the spectacular Le Touessrok championship golf course, and the other an exclusive Crusoe island. You escape by the resort’s private boat to Ilot Mangénie for beach and dining.

Le Touessrok is a romantic resort, with its palms and pools. It is also a resort with a bit of fun – nightly entertainment. We saw dragon dancing on a platform by the pool celebrating Chinese new year. For guests who like to retire before 1130 pm, rooms away from the dancing and shows should be requested as one of our party was disturbed by the dance music. In my junior suite on Franjipani island, I heard nothing except some happy English people going “home” afterwards.

The beach, as is often the case in the large lagoons where rivers enter, is fine and sandy, more silver than white or gold. And the water was less dramatically turquoise as there had been a week of heavy rain before our arrival.

Complimentary snorkeling, canoes, pedalboats and ulimited waterskiing and windsurfing are offered. Scuba and catamaran sailing offered for a supplement. And of course there is golf on the island golf course designed by Bernard Langher.

Backing up the sporty life is a free fitness centre, four tennis courts and a jogging track.  For relaxation, the Givenchy spa is an elegant retreat with a motto “Beauty is no longer a ploy used in the art of seduction, it is the very essence of charm…” For dressing up and looking good, true to the resort’s sociable nature, you have a busy hair salon too.

Franjipani island is joined with the public areas by two bridges. We loved our split level Junior suite in Franjipani wing with its high quality floors and furnishings and bright touches of colour. Colours that “sing”. The desk, instead of facing the wall, lay on the higher level dividing bathroom from bedroom and mini lounge area. Sitting down at the desk (to do makeup in the lit makeup mirror) or working, you looked out through the glass doors onto the balcony, palms and beach. What a romantic view. You know you are in the tropics.

The bathroom was roomy with its own symmetry – central bath, a vanity on each side, and separate shower and toilet hidden behind two glass doors at the back. So well hidden I should add, that I was quite desperate to find them, and wrenched at the connecting door believing it must be the way to the loo. Should add we were not the only ones in our party to be confounded by the elegantly hidden facility.

Later on during a hotel inspection we saw other suites including the ocean suite. This has a separate living and dining area, and the special feature of two balconies coming off the master bedroom.  It has direct beach access.

One of the nice surprises was the deluxe room in the Coral wing (not on one of the islets but on the beach of the mainland). Very fresh and tastefully bright, also on two levels like a mini junior suite, with balcony with view. The Hibiscus wing is for families and I gather is not for the deluxe honeymoon customers.

Altogether there are 125 junior suites, 6 ocean suites and 68 deluxe rooms.

There are also three private villas. We saw one which was very spacious, with a happy holiday feeling for all its exclusivity. Comes with a butler and a kitchenette (his preserve).

The hotel offers 5 restaurants and 3 bars. We joined other guests at the manager’s cocktail party under the palms by the beach. There is nothing quite like a tropical evening when balmy breezes blow ozone off the water and coconut fronds rustle.

HOW TO GET TO LE TOUESSEROK

50 minutes by car from Mauritius International Airport.

PROS

Island holiday feeling as described above. You really feel you are on an island. Plenty of palms, sea and sand. Great for those who like something to be going on in the evening, who want to play golf, get fit, do watersports, go to the spa ….

CONS

Not for the ultra-quiet types (music and dancing)

I found some little creatures running round my nécessaire/vanity case. Either they came from Le Victoria where I did see ants on the hotel floor, or came out of the plumbing at Le Touessrok. Par for the course in the tropics – they live here. Its their habitat. Only way not to have them is poison.

I had trouble with my air conditioning. I heard others in my party did too. I finally switched mine off and left the door open, using mossie repellant to get a great sleep.

Beach and water colours not radiant white and turquoise – applies to most hotels in big lagoons on the east coast. Might be because they had a week of heavy rain before our arrival.

3-4 Feb overnight, cocktail party with management, dinner, breakfast, inspection