Wednesday, June 28, 2017

THE SILO & OTHER CAPE LUXURIES


A new Cape Town wonder – The Silo – and other favourites in the Western Cape, reviewed by a team of Nordic travel advisors ...


The Silo  from industrial to hospitality and art


The new kid on the block. We were very excited to see it. The hype has been very strong, but still we were positively surprised. Very cool and trendy, colourful and artsy.


Supreme comfort and lavish style

It is clear that this hotel in a former industrial complex is now the place to be in Cape Town right now.  The food was great and there was a very creative display of food both for dinner and breakfast, and friendly service.

A guard downstairs at street level guides guests into the hotel elevator to the reception on the 6th floor where you also find lounge bar, restaurant and shop. Very special floor to ceiling windows are what makes this area interesting.

On the 11th floor the hotel has a very desirable rooftop bar with everything from bar stools to beds to relax in a casual atmosphere and have a cocktail watching the sunset. There is also a glass lap pool and sun terrace. No smoking allowed. On the 4th floor there is a very nice spa and gym.


Mystic blue pool at night

All the rooms are individually designed and decorated by Liz Biden – beautifully. Strong colours are mixed with modern design, with a taste of burlesque. Our favourite rooms were the Superior Suites, duplex with the bedroom on the mezzanine level. They were designed last of all the rooms and she really took her time and had fun making them.

All rooms are spacious and boast a balcony – smallest rooms are 44 sqm and the largest 211 sqm. Note that the area around will not be fully done for another 2 years.


Penthouse and the characteristic windows

Who to stay
It’s not a hotel for everyone, right now – mostly for the young and trendy with money to spend. The place to be!

Cape Grace – welcome home


Very warm welcome from doormen to reception and a cozy atmosphere – you feel they really want you there; almost as family.  And the location on the Waterfront is excellent.

Quiet elegance and Grace

Interesting decor with a feeling for history

For our guests the welcome includes the chance to pick your own bottle of wine from the Virtuoso wine cellar. We tasted samples of these wines and they were excellent.

The pool is small and cute, with chic poolside lounging, and the whisky bar Bascule had a great vibe. Very casual and a nice place to be. In the Signal Restaurant they serve breakfast and dinner. There was excellent service at both  – natural service with a friendly smile – a bit like Soneva Fushi, it just flows. The Concierge Team is very proactive and helpful, making it easy to dine around.

Who to stay
Anyone would like it. The hotel has lots of repeaters and our guests love it.

For more about Cape Grace follow this LINK, and for a previous Select blog on Cape Grace, this LINK.

One & Only Cape Town – urban resort


In The Waterfront area – looking down on a marina and over apartment blocks to Table Mountain. One&Only is an urban resort with a vast cosmopolitan lobby. It’s very elegant, with lots of beautifully dressed young ladies walking around, apparently still a hot spot for the wealthy and beautiful for afternoon tea.

You can stay in the main hotel or the Island ringed by a canal. We recommend the Island unless guests want to be high up with a view. The rooms are very spacious, the garden is beautiful and the island has a very nice spa with hairdresser and nail bar. The hotel also has an impressive gym with trainers for a good workout.

Suave and spacious rooms



On the terrace of an island room

One of the really attractive features is the large pool, possibly the largest infinity pool in Africa, with palm trees, sunbeds and even Cabanas to be rented at extra cost. The pool restaurant is very popular and quite small. Could be a good idea to book a table.




Their Reubens restaurant is also very popular and the food was excellent. Very cool and cozy ambiance. They have a huge wine tower and there is a Chef´s Table for 12 in a chambre-separee. The first and only Nobu restaurant in Africa is also one of the attractions at One&Only Cape Town.

Who to stay
A good choice for family groups – 3 generations with children and teens of all ages who need a resort in town.

For more details see the Select Collection website, and for a previous blog follow this LINK.

Belmond Mount Nelson – The Pink Lady


This hotel really surprised us. Dating way back to 1899, we were expecting a dusty old lady and found a mix of the grandeur of the past and something young and chic. They have revamped the bars and restaurants and there are lots of young and trendy guests.



The lobby still feels a bit old-fashioned and they have an elevator so old it must be considered an antique. But it is a hotel with a historical touch, so it fits. 
     

The hotel has 4 wings each different. In the main building there are Junior Suites on the top floor offering a balcony and the sought after view towards Table Mountain. One-bedroom Suites are also located in the main building, beautiful large suites, well equipped for a long stay if needed, with a light feel.

The Cottage section is our favourite – the rooms feel like small homes with a garden, in old Victorian style. There is a quiet pool in this section for adults only (16+) so convenient for adult guests. The Oasis pool is for everyone´s use, including a family of ducks. 

The neighbourhood has lots of very good restaurants frequented by Capetonians and a peaceful vibe. Kloof Street & Long Street are just around the corner. It’s located a 15 minute drive from The Waterfront area and they have a complimentary shuttle.


Who to stay
Couples and families looking for historical Cape Town, mountain views and gardens – and who like to explore on foot to find boutiques, cafes and restaurants in a less touristy area.



See also the Select Collection website. and find a little bit more about Mount Nelson history in a previous blog HERE

21 Nettleton  stunning views


A beautiful little boutique hotel high up in the mountainside with sublime sunsets and amazing views down to Clifton Beach. Only 5 bedrooms, but will have 6 soon.





Trendy, grand and a somewhat burlesque interior and a stunning garden. It’s beautifully furnished, has a great art collection and is perfect for private hire.


Two Burmese cats walking around acting as they own the place; great friends of Select Collection.



There is a small pool area between large boulders and flowers, with BBQ and outdoor area.  Everyone would love this property, especially if you take the whole house.

Who to stay
Couples and honeymooners. For families the whole property is suggested for a magical Cape Town stay. On a steep hill, with staircases, not for walking disabilities.

More about 21 Nettleton in a previous blog HERE and in Select Collection’s website HERE.


WINELANDS

La Residence - lavish, vibrant, unique


A delightful property in the Franschhoek Valley. La Residence is surrounded by vineyards, fruit trees, flowers and herbs with the majestic mountain backdrop. The Estate spreads out on 12 ha and is a fully operating farm whose products are used daily by the chefs to create fresh and enjoyable dishes.



The lovely garden is perfect for relaxing by the pool under the colourful red parasols.





We all loved this property. It has so many beautiful art pieces. The interior is designed by the owner Liz Biden and her unusual gift to create beautiful inspiring spaces is seen everywhere.

All 11 very spacious rooms have either terraces or balconies. Each suite is unique and individually decorated with the finest materials: Persian rugs, exotic antiques, glittering chandeliers, silks and velvets. Liz is a genius when it becomes to colour combination and every room is a piece of art.

Every bathroom is different and could double up as a living room

Apart from the 11 rooms there are 5 colourful vineyard suites with 1 to 3 bedrooms, two of them have private pools. These are separate units and very suitable for families with kids.

Great food and fine wines are also what the property is famous for.

Who to stay
Couples who appreciate nature, food & wine and vibrant, arty décor.

For more images and an account of a tasting meal, see our previous blog HERE 

Leeu House & Leeu Estates - subtle & discreet


The story of Leeu began when the Indian investor Analjit Singh visited South Africa for the first time to attend the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010 and fell in love with the beauty of Franschhoek valley.  Leeu Collection represents the founder’s vision of unique guest experiences.


Le Quartier Français will be undergoing a complete refurbishment to reopen in July 2017. The award-winning restaurant The Tasting Room will be replaced by an exciting new restaurant. This will bring it to the same level as Leeu House and Leeu Estates.   

Leeu House is a new family friendly boutique property right next to Le Quartier Français. It feels like a traditional Cape Dutch style country house but has all advantages of being in the middle of the village. Leeu House has a private garden with oak trees and pool. All 12 contemporary designed rooms are decorated with soft and neutral tones matching perfectly to the stylish interiors.

Leeu Estates is located 3 km from Franschhoek centre, a mere 30 mins walk or 5 mins by shuttle. It is the flagship of Leeu Collection – an exclusive boutique hotel, working wine farm, winery and spa with stunning landscapes surrounding it. Their Bokkie Garden has a remarkable collection of art including granite and bronze sculptors, absolutely stunning.

The 17 rooms, several of which are located in spacious cottages, are decorated in harmonious colours and fine fabrics. We stayed at the Spa Suites located in the same building as the spa and gym.







On the ground floor of The Manor House guests are welcome to relax around the wood-burning fireplace of the Reading Room with a drink from the honesty bar. It opens onto a veranda with stunning views over the panoramic landscapes of Franschhoek Valley.

There is an extensive network of nature trails crossing the property and through the vineyards. A short walk to the hotel’s cottage accommodations leads you to Mullineux & Leeu winery where you can both taste and purchase the premium wines from the producer.




Who to stay
Leeu Estates is a very good option for adult guests who enjoy a peaceful setting close to nature yet within easy reach of Franschhoek’s wining and dining. Leeu House suits couples and families who want to be right in the village,

A previous blog  HERE and the Select Collection web page HERE.


Babylonstoren - "Hipsters paradise”


Since 1692, Babylonsstoren has been a working farm, and now has a farm hotel as well as a large magnificent organic garden divided into sections for vegetables, fruit trees, berries, indigenous plants and bee hives for pollinating. There are paths crisscrossing the gardens and farm shops where all their produce is on display for purchase.




The farm and winery are very popular for day visits, even a stop on the wine tram, while the hotel offers charming self-catering cottages under the oaks in traditional Cape style.

Stay at the farm, cook yourself from organic produce or eat at their organic restaurant. I don’t think I have ever seen so many well-groomed hipster beards in one place.


Who to stay
This farm hotel is for the young and trendy who are into organic lifestyle, or those who find farm-living romantic. Families with small kids would also like it, if they enjoy farm life. According to Oliver – our guide – the hill in their wine field is the most romantic spot for a sundowner.

For more about Babylonstoren  HERE.


Franschhoek Country House and Villas - Provencal touch


Just outside of Franschhoek a quite rustic exterior leads into beautiful gardens and buildings in traditional farm style. Rooms are rather simple but very charming, with lots of character and Provencal country style. 




The Select favourites are the 12 Villa Suites. Large (100 sqm) with separate lounge, 2 private balconies (or patios), air conditioning, under-floor heating, fireplaces, entertainment centre. Very exclusive facilities and finishes.

We were all a little hesitant at first, but the place won us over quite quickly with its charm.
They use lemons for decorations and the lawns are well-groomed by several busy gardeners.
Excellent food in the restaurant, with great wine pairing.  Bikes for hire that will take you into town in no time.

Who to stay
Couples & families seeking a rustic setting with pools and gardens only 1km from the village centre.


SAFARI IN THE EASTERN CAPE

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve


For those who want a safari experience in a malaria free area and not too far from Cape Town, a short flight to Port Elizabeth and 2 hours’ drive takes you to Kwandwe.



This game reserve was a pleasant surprise for all of us. Having been told that the Eastern Cape is not ”the real thing” as the game has been re-introduced – we were won over quickly. Game viewing was very good...not only plenty of it, but very visible due to the low vegetation compared to other places we have been on safari.

One reception covers all the lodges at Kwandwe – Great Fish River Lodge, Ecca Lodge, Fort House, Uplands Homestead and Melton Manor. We were taken by semi-open Toyota Landcruiser to the Great Fish River Lodge. This is a lodge I have never booked, but that will change. Very nice ambience, cosy livingroom with a large fireplace and nice terrace facing the river running below. The fact that it’s small forces the guests to interact more and creates a very nice atmosphere.

The rooms are spread out, in stone with thatched roof, so you can have your privacy, and they all face the river on both sides of the main area, with a lighted path and plunge pools. The style is a bit rustic – like a cabin in the mountains.

We enjoyed very friendly service with a few small hitches, and lunch in particular.  Our ranger Nic and tracker Sakhi gave us some real unforgettable moments – top notch!


Great Fish River way below

There are three sole-use lodges that suit big families. One of these, Melton Manor, has 4 bedrooms rented as one unit. We met the manager who loves to make families feel welcome and activate the kids with kitchen duty and kiddy game drives. When kids are happy, so are the parents. Beautiful house well fitted for both families and a group of friends.

Who to stay
Familes & Couples who want to combine safari with Cape Town in a malaria free area.

This blog is based on a group report by Select Collection travel advisors, Tommy Ebbeståhl (Sweden), Ada Størmer Papatheocharis & Dag Åge Karlsen (Norway), & Marita Aarnio (Finland).. Images are spontaneous snapshots by the team, except for the bathroom image at  La Residence & the Penthouse image at The Silo by Royal Portfolio.
For more about our South Africa programme see our website.


Monday, June 26, 2017

OPULENCE ON THE SEAWALL AT LA POSTA VECCHIA

Only half an hour from Rome Fuimicino Airport – a seaside hotel full of art, history and elegance. Ulrika Thelander writes …

If you want to combine the city of Rome with something more – this is the place! A tranquil garden by the sea and Jean Paul Getty´s former home, full of history, Lavishly decorated in classic grand style, this small hideaway hotel opens up to delightful terraces on the seawall.

Service is top level and the food and beverage experience excellent. The restaurant is soon to get a Michelin star.

Terrace with sun chairs and a lovely outdoor/indoor restaurant plus the sea...


Entrance to the hotel...


From checkin desk onward, the hotel is rich with Renaissance treasures...
All the rooms have a different layout and design, some more classic in style with sumptuous furnishings. If you want high ceilings stay on the first floor. If you want small windows and a cosy feeling – floor 2. Rooms face the sea or garden – all nice.

Some of the desirable suites...
Suite

Senior suite


It's worth upgrading yourself to a larger historic suite. And if money is no object…the Jean Paul Getty Suite with fabulous interiors and a wall of windows overlooking the sea.

Jean Paul Getty suite bedroom

Jean Paul Getty suite

An indoor pool opens onto a terrace with sunbeds...
Indoor pool

What to do: For pure leisure enjoy the pool, spa, terraces and excellent F&B. Ladispoli has black / yellow sand beaches – you can swim here in fairly clear water, and walk along the beach. If looking for crystal clear water venture further north to sister hotel Il Pellicano or combine the two.

In the hotel's Roman Villa Museum you can learn some ancient history. Or simply arrange for an exclusive and romantic dinner there.

La Posta Vecchia was built in the 17th century over part of the ancient port city of Alsium, originally Etruscan but later Roman. The American billionaire J. Paul Getty purchased the property in the 1960s. Together with art historian Federico Zeri, he decorated it with unique furnishings from the 15th and 17th centuries and precious artwork from around the world. In the 1980s the private home was purchased by the Sciò family, who in 1990 turned it into this unique hotel.

Stately seaside villa in formal gardens only 40 mins from the Trevi Founrtain 





QUICK FACTS

No. of rooms:  19 (including 8 suites)

Facilities: Fine dining restaurant, private dining, spa, pool
Distance from airport:  30-40 minutes (Rome Fiumicino)
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants:  some 5-10 minutes
Reason to stay here: historic hotel by the sea with great service and food






For more about this excellent Select Collection property see our website.

Words & images by Select Collection & Ulrika Thelander

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CELEBRITY TREATMENT AT IL PELLICANO

Treated like a celebrity in a seaside hideaway with sophisticated Italian charm, Ulrika Thelander reviews a few magical days at Il Pellicano…


If you want a hideaway by the sea with excellent food and service – where celebrities and “normal guests” are given equal attention – this is the place for a long weekend, a week or longer.

Il Pellicano has the glamour of Costa Smeralda without the beaches and without the crush. There is crystal clear water and plenty of sun lounging for the beautiful people to see and be seen poolside and by the sea. An elevator and stairs lead down to the water and to lounging platforms lined with sunbeds. 

Looking down on the seaside platforms
From around the resort the views are wonderful – and so are the sunsets. At the restaurants you enjoy both captivating vistas and very good Italian food: The Pellicano Restaurant (breakfast & Michelin star dinners), The Grill, and The Pool Bar. The Chef is from Puglia.

Beautiful gardens around the gourmet restaurant

Pool bar
Complimentaru dessert from Pellicano restaurant, with some other delights


The ambience is pure sophisticated luxury. Service is a very high level. I forgot my mascara at home and they went and bought me a new one – put the charge on my room bill. Of course the beach boys clean your glasses and you get small treats around the pool and sea.

Situated on a cliff, the hotel is reached by serpentine road from Porto Ercole (about 5-10 minutes). It lies on Monte Argentario, a peninsula connected with the mainland by three spits of land. In the immediate surroundings enjoy scenic mountains, castles, forts and the amazing coast line. 

If money is not a problem – rent a boat! A lot of other activities can be arranged by the hotel – wine tasting, tours, hiking etc.

There are many small local restaurants in Porto Ercole but since the hotel has two very nice restaurants you will not want to leave Il Pellicano if you are only there for a few nights like myself.

This is a wonderful property in an amazing garden.  I could easily spend a week  or more here – explore their surrounding areas, play golf or tennis, spend time on the sea and of course take excursions further away. But so nice to come back to this little gem each evening.

View from my room
Gardens and seawater pool
Argentario golf course


QUICK FACTS

No. of rooms:  50
Distance from airport:  90 minutes from Rome Fuimicino intl apt.
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants:  5-10 minutes by car (Porto Ercole & Harbour)
No. 1 reason to choose this hotel: For a ultra luxury/romantic/hideaway small boutique hotel experience. Without too many children and without the the hustle and bustle of popular areas like Capri & Amalfi Coast in high season.
Who to stay: Honeymooners, couples, families with well behaved kids.
The pool: saltwater pool heated to 26-27 degrees, a lot of sun chairs and lovely view.
The spa: Lovely, small but very professional.
F&B The Grill Restaurant. Il Pellicano Michelin star restaurant.
Sports: water activities, tennis court, golf course 15 minutes away. Hiking, biking and a lot more.
Excursions are offered for a fee.
Room tip: For privacy for honeymooners the garden rooms are probably best, but for those of us who love sea views, a room in the main building. I stayed in room 6 in the main building with a patio (a table and 2 chairs plus 2 sun chairs). I did have neighbours next to me but I never saw anybody though the hotel was fully booked.
Prebook: pre-book dinners and excursions -  especially think ahead for the Michelin star restaurant.
Why choose this hotel: For a ultra luxury/romantic/hideaway boutique hotel experience. Without too many children and without the the hustle and bustle of popular areas like Capri & Amalfi Coast in high season.

Images by Select Collection & Ulrika Thelander



Pellicano restaurant

Pleasant bar

Monday, June 12, 2017

HIDDEN MALLORCA AT SANT FRANCESC

The fourth in our series on Hidden Mallorca, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular is a jewel of a hideaway – peaceful, soothing and discreet – with some unexpected pleasures.


Sant Francesc Hotel Singular 

Facing the quiet square of Sant Francesc, this little charmer occupies a former aristocratic residence in the maze of narrow streets that make up the old medina of Palma, a short winding walk to the Cathedral and the shopping honeypots.

Here, in its stone-carved city setting, the hotel offers a magical rooftop pool and bar. The poolside view  has the haunting charm of terracotta tiled roofs, the age worn Sant Francesc basilica and the rearing form of the Cathedral. 









Sofa, deck chairs and sunbeds offer lounging in the sun or the magical sunset and cooler evening. This is the spot for tapas in summer, cool Red Sangria or perhaps “Holy Water” surely pure heaven at 15 euro – gin, chartreuse, lavender syrup, green apple, lime.


Some lovely rooftop images were published in our earlier guest blog by one of our clients. To see them, hear her views of the hotel and some excellent tips on where to eat and what to do in Mallorca follow this LINK.



Feeling at home

Service at the hotel is friendly and helpful. You feel at home in this old century mansion which has been renovated with understated elegance, contemporary flair and respect for the original building. 

From the demure entrance step into the lobby and over a stone courtyard, which opens into a sleek bar, a spot to have a serene drink and check your mail.







In the former stables, the tiny Quadrat restaurant rewards you with a pleasing buffet breakfast including home made items and eggs to order. You should pre-book for dinner here as it is popular with outsiders.  




Rooms at Sant Francesc are spacious and decorated in warm yet demure and soothing colours like palest grey with delicate touches of dusty pink. Many rooms do not have balconies so you may want to upgrade if that is important to you.


Privilege twin
Rooms to covet include San Francesc junior suite with frescoes and a balcony overlooking the square. There are two special suites of 60 sqm: La Torre  with its additional 30 sqm rooftop terrace and San Francesc suite with a frescoed  ceiling and private balcony with views of Sant Francesc Square.

The corridors enhance a contemporary feel with an interesting collection of photographs.

Looking back
The building of Hotel Sant Francesc once belonged to the Alomar Femenia family. This Spanish historic landmark is an architectural treasure built in the neoclassical style of the 19th century.

The hotel is situated in one of Palma’s oldest quarters, which dates to the Arabian Medina Mayurqa settlement. After James (Jaime) I of Aragon was crowned King in 1229, many of the Muslim lands were deeded over to religious orders. Under his son, King Jaime II, Franciscan monks erected the Sant Francesc Basilica and Monastery after which the square and hotel are named.

The time-worn Sant Francesc basilica seen from Sant Francesc rooftop pool area

Quick facts

No. of rooms: 42
Distance from airport: 15 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: Situated in the old city close to restaurants and about 7-15 mins walk from the Cathedral or main shopping street.
Why stay: Quiet, classy hotel with central position in the old city.
Car hire: You need a special permit to enter this heritage area and there is a c. 30 eur per day parking cost paid via the hotel.
Beaches & Beach Clubs: You walk some 10 mins to Anima Beach club placed right on the sea on Palma’s boards walk. Portals Nous has a pleasant beach next to Puerto Portals yacht marina – nice area for shopping, restaurants and amazing yachts. 20 mins by car. Es Trenc – often called the best beach on Mallorca – is a natural beach with a rustic bar and no hotels – 45 mins drive from Palma.

Summary

Stylish, understated and serene hotel with attentive service in a converted mansion on the quiet square of Sant Francesc in the old medina, only 10 mins walk from the Cathedral and main shopping areas. Enjoy a pleasant rooftop pool and bar with views of the Basilica of Sant Francesc.  Upgrade to be sure of a private balcony with view of the square.


Last word - romance

With its charm, calm understated elegance and perfect position,  Sant Francesc is not just for intellectuals, shoppers and foodies. It is also for romance.  One of our sales advisors was popped the question on a weekend visit to San Francesc. So the weekend turned into their engagement and the perfect time for Sangria de Cava.


For the Select Collection web page on Sant Francesc, FOLLOW THIS LINK.


The wonders of Palma Cathedral




Images by Select Collection, Sant Francesc and Per-Olov Broddeson. Words by Select Collection and Gillian Stanbridge



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