Each month, the PLUME VOYAGE Travel News Flash team keeps you up to date with all the luxury resorts, charming hotels and the world of modern travel. In February, Plume urges you to discover one of the world’s most beautiful hotels, the Royal Mansour in Marrakech, a charming boutique hotel in Strasbourg, conceived by interior designer Sybille de Margerie, who has decorated some of the most stunning modern hotels, or the Nira Montanna, a mountainous treasure-trove in the Aoste Valley and finally the Knickerbocker in New York, which represents the renaissance of a myth… Check out Miami Edition, designed by legend Ian Schrager, to witness the renaissance of the Jule Caesar in Arles with Christian Lacroix at the helm and that of the mythical Hôtel des Dromonts in Avoriaz, and let’s not forget a stop-off in Brittany at the Balthazar. So: will it be sun or snow?. And also, discover The Vault Hotel in Istanbul, The Setai in Miami, The Source in Marrakech and the Aman Tokyo Hotel. Doesn’t it make you want to get away?
A member of the most exclusive hotel circle in the world, the Royal Mansour in Marrakech distinguishes itself above the rest. A replica of a medina, it pays tribute to Morocco’s handicraft and ancient knowledge, whilst boasting cutting edge technology…Located five minutes from the Jemaa-el-Fna square, in the heart of 3,5 hectares, the hotel comprises of 53 riads. 3-storeys high, with a surface area of 140 m2 up to 850m2, the presidential riad covers 1800m2! They are composed of one or up to four bedroom, one or more articulated living areas, around a central patio. And the roof-terrace enjoys a swimming pool. In such a special spot, there has to be a special menu! In February 2015, Yannick Alléno, crowned with 3 Michelin stars for his recent success at Alléno Paris, keeps watch over the cuisine at the Royal Mansour, overseeing three restaurants: La Grande table Marocaine, La Grande Table Française and La Table. The highlight: the library of pastries, which tempts us with various gateaux, each more tantalizing than the last! The spa is decked out in white marble, an example of breath-taking luxury…
As the owners of a chain that is sweeping Europe with 12 establishments in Alsace and Switzerland, the Baly family entrusted celebrated interior designer Sybille de Margerie with the transformation of this former opulent maison into a boutique hotel. With 37 bedrooms in the heart of the city and just a stone’s throw away from the Cathedral and Petite France, it was already very well established; but with added style from Sybille Margerie, it hits new heights! The designer mixes design and Alsatian tradition. With “daring” colours, like the red of the dining room contrasts with petrol blue, beige and brown in the bedrooms, the overall effect associates with various references to Alsace: pink sandstones, natural stone, wood, etc. The latest hot spot in Strasbourg!
The Knickerbocker, legendary New York hotel, reopened its doors in 2015 after several months of renovation. Enviously situated in the middle of Times Square on the corner of 42nd and Broadway, this well-established member of the prestigious hospitality organisation ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ envisages itself as an ultra urban and fashionable spot. And this is not an alien concept for the hotel: hearsay dictates that the Martini was invented was within its walls. However, the Knickerocker, as a hotel that has gathered together the city’s high society since 1906, has also known very different fortunes. Having closed in the 20s, it became the headquarters of Newsweek Magazine from 1940 until 1959 and in 1980, it was an office building that went by the name of 6 Times Square. Restored to its original vocation, it now boasts 330 bedrooms, a signature restaurant, a 4th-floor bar, a café on the 1st floor and, above all, an impressive 700m2 roof-terrace. 3 of the buildings perspectives have been converted into outdoor salons with a plunging view over Times Square.
Located in La Thuile, a little Italian chocolate-box village at the foot of Mont Blanc, the Nira Montana comprises of two pretty chalets just several minutes from 160km of ski pistes in the La Rosière/San Bernardo area and plenty of hiking trials. Having opened last December, this member of Design Hotels offers 55 bedrooms and suites from 21m2 to 64m2 for luxury that is both cosy and designer: with Cole&Son wallpaper, oak floors, Foscarini lighting…and its Valdotaine-style restaurant, Le Stars. As for the bar, this opens up onto a large terrace: the ideal spot in which to soak up the rays with a view of Mont Blanc! Amongst its other highlights, is a 6-cabin spa endorsed by Italian brand Comfort Zone, a covered swimming pool, a sauna, a hammam and a gym – of course! Something to know about: the hotel benefits from an economic energy system, with the laudable aim to reduce its carbon footprint.
In the wake of the London Edition success, Ian Schrager initiated the Miami Edition back in December. Perfectly situated in Mid-beach, the historic centre of the city in a vast garden by the water’s edge, this five star spot is composed of 294 bedrooms and suites, plus 28 villas. The style is wall-to-wall designer, with the bedrooms decked out in monochrome, beige hues and wood. And in the Matador Room restaurant you shall find the legendary chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. And the Matador bar is carpeted with photos of bullfighters realised by Lucien Clergue! And here, you can even give yourself over to the joys of ice-skating, as the hotel boasts a skating-rink and a bowling alley!
Having been a Carmelite convent in 17th century and a hospice during the Revolution, this building became a hotel in 1928. It has experienced wealth and welcomed sheathes of “beautiful people”, but for several years the Jules Caesar was slightly run down. A major face-lift led by Christian Lacroix has just restored it to its former glory – and more! Proud of its five stars, this member of McGallery and the Marantha Group comprises of 52 bedrooms and suites. As soon as you step into the lobby, you can glimpse various little insights into the city; with mock old paving stones, reproductions of works from the Réattu museum on canvas…Upstairs is a little provincial, taking its tempo from the lively colours that recall local traditions: pink old facades, red torero capes…But, on the ground-floor and at cloister level, the atmosphere is monastic! The designer has maintained the original panelling of the restaurant and has even added a frieze, offering hints of Chinese shadow, silhouettes of bulls and Arlésiennes! The Five World/Cinq Mondes label lends itself to the treatment spa and its three rooms, one of which is a double, offering a wide range of treatments from around the world.
In the heart of Rennes, behind a classic façade that wonderfully illustrates typical Breton style, the décor of the Balthazar is ultra contemporary and packed with ingenious treasures that align charm and modernity! It was back in 2008 that Céline and Sébastian Meslin bought the downtrodden Hôtel d’Angleterre. Work begain in 2009 and lasted five whole years! Veteran bargain-hunters Céline and Sébastian travelled the countryside, unearthing dozens of objects and pieces of furniture…and spicing up their space with divine designer additions. In the 56 rooms, 3 of which are suites, Céline created ‘cloisters’ made of light oak strips, camouflaging the doors, installing graphic wallpaper with golden flecks, giving an added dimension of light…and we love the patio and its vegetal wall, which brings a breath of fresh air to the hotel. In the restaurant, the locavore menu was entrusted to Rostang Père & Filles…ensuring the highest quality food! As for the spa, made up of four cabins, one of which is by Nuxe, this spot has already become the place to be in Rennes!
As their first establishment in Avoriaz, the Dromonts hotel now has the look of a pine-cone, after its opening in 1966. Having been acquired by the Sibuet family, founder of the famous Fermes de Marie, it deserved a complete renovation and reopened in December 2014, taking pride in its four stars. The sixties style has been preserved, both in the 28 bedrooms and 16 suites and the communal areas. The slate and wood harmoniously compliment the specially crafted fabrics, maintain the 60s spirit with: mandarin and purple, turquoise and mauve, camel and mandarin or carmine red and amethyst. In terms of dining, you will be delighted to discover a selection of Enfants Terribles, which is already a hot favourite in Megève and Val Thorens, renowned for its famous fondues and raclettes…and those who frequent the new spa, with its mountain décor and Pure Altitude products will naturally reap the benefits.
The décor in the 84 bedrooms and suites is largely inspired by traditional Japanese interior design, with a particular emphasis on classic materials: camphor wood, Washi paper and stone. These last two go perfectly with the very modern design that dominates throughout. The centre-piece of the hotel: an astonishing architectural feature, which resembles the interior of a Japanese paper lantern and that hangs down on all six floors from the lobby to the edifice’s centre! There is also an excellent spa, an immense swimming pool and 4 restaurants, amongst which we particularly recommend the Restaurant by Aman on 33rd floor, which proposes gourmet Mediterranean cuisine, as well as Japanese delicacies.
Istanbul boasts an alter ego, and the city hurls itself headfirst into the 21st century, as proven by the international fashion logos and contemporary art galleries that spring up everywhere, whilst remaining closely attached to its traditions. And it is in Karaköy that The Vault, a luxurious hotel comprising of 63 bedrooms and suites, opened its doors a few months ago. Occupying two buildings dating back to 1863, the first is neo-renaissance in style, having formerly housed the Ottoman Crédit General, and the second was previously the headquarters of the Jewish assembly. The architecture maintains its facades, the magnificent stairwell and of course the imposing vaults themselves, from where the name of the establishment originates. Sinan Kafadar, a fan of Renzo Piano, was placed in charge of the décor, knowing how to conserve the spirit of the place, connecting its heritage with modernity with a range of contemporary furniture. And the best bit? The largest suite, number 155, whose bathroom boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, offering an incredible view of the Golden Horn and Topkapi.
As a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Setai in South Beach acts as an oasis in the heart of this non-stop party district! And to top it off, last year Condé Nast voted it the best hotel in Miami. The hotel is made up of two buildings: a splendid Art Deco structure housing 80 suites and a tower comprising of 40 apartments, including the sublime Penthouse suite, which offers guests a 180 degree view of the Ocean. Blessed with three pools nestled in a tropical garden, a private beach and four restaurants, the Setai appeals to even the most blasé globetrotters. Combine that with the recent opening of the Themae spa, where you can indulge yourself in a Singaporean massage, one of their signature treatments, which is the perfect cure for jetlag woes. Finally, the hotel is also equipped with a Lenny Kravitz music studio…but don’t tell anyone!
On the route de Ourika, far from the hubbub of Marrakech…The Source is a magical place, a hotel that distinguishes itself from what we are usually accustomed. Nestled in a resplendent garden, and demonstrating meticulous attention to detail, all the flowers are the same shade of white as the little ochre buildings that house bedrooms and suites. And these are out-of-the-ordinary, with each dedicated to a different group…and no just any! In the Pink Floyd, an enormous rainbow dominates the space, whilst in the Rolling Stones, their famous tongue logo adorns one wall, and in the Ben Harper suite, guests are greeted by an immense fresco foot painting by the artist…All the rooms have a garden, while some boast a mini-pool. The restaurant, its ceiling decorated with undulating bronze sheathes creating a spectacular lighting effect, sources its products from organic gardens. And hats-off to the sublime black granite pool house and immense swimming pool, which encourages you to veg out…
Three years of renovations were necessary to give the Lux Belle Mare a new facelift. And behind the pen is British designer Kelly Hoppen. She chose to spice up the 174 rooms and suites in white, interspersed with acidic touches: orange, green, turquoise…And beyond, are the traditional buffet and the elegant beachside restaurant, which sports funky colour changes: blue during the day and red at night, as we relish some Chinese cuisine. In particular, we love the Indian restaurant, Amari by Vineet, headed up by chef Vineet Bhatia, who is the only starred chef in the whole of London! The most demanding of globetrotters will be seduced by these Lux innovations, such as the public changing rooms, modelled upon the red English cabins, which offer you to free international calls, even from mobiles, evening cinema showings on the beach and the food truck pulled by a white 1930s Rolls Royce!
We already love the Résidence, a beautiful 5-star hotel situated at Belle Mare, which boasts 135 rooms and 28 suites, including the vast Coloniales suites, which deserve a mention for their stunning sea-view. And there is already another great reason to go: the Plantation Restaurant. At the heart of the luscious hotel gardens, it instantly transports us to a 19th century plantation home! Magnificently positioned on the edge of the beach, this romantic spot strives to offer a menu largely inspired by Creole cuisine with an unrivalled selection of seafood! We would specifically recommend the crab salad spiced with coriander, the tuna steak in a sea urchin sauce, formidable spicy prawns, and let’s not forget the unforgettable whole grilled lobster…an undeniable gastronomic experience.
As Mauritius’ unrivalled star hotel, the Royal Palm has undergone a facelift that succeeds in achieving both discretion and depth! The exterior rendering has been replaced and the facades now exude a smooth, beige complexion, with lighter wooden window trims…this ‘micro-construction’ remains loyal to the original structure but gives the overall look a resolutely contemporary feel. On the bedroom side of things, the number has been reduced from 84 to 69: 30 rooms have been knocked together to produce 15 suites spanning 110m2…The interior design – props to French designer Amélie Montocchio who lives in Mauritius – incorporates natural stone granite floors, Italian tiles, grey marble, oak, walnut, fabrics by Frey and Nobilis and dark wooden furniture made on site…and we haven’t even mentioned the best bit! A resplendent bathing pool level with the beach brings a final flourish to this incredible successful renovation. And frequent guests need not worry: the beachside restaurant still remains beneath the famous badamier tree and has not changed!
Having opened in September, on the North-West Coast of the island, in the heart of a 10-hectare tropical paradise, the Westin Turtle Bay is the latest star of Mauritian resorts. This 5-star hotel is strung out along 800m of beach, in the Baie de Tortues, one of the most beautiful coral reserves on the island. Throughout the 190 bedrooms and suites, 15 of which are private villas, the decoration emphasises natural topical materials such as teak and volcanic rock aligned with glass, creating an equally chic yet exotic atmosphere that matches the surrounding environment. Amongst the 5 restaurants, our personal favourite is Fusion and the best tables line the poolside, with a fantastical view of little mini-islands floating in the water, planted with palm trees. And at the vast spa, treat yourself to the signature treatment: a heavenly massage that eliminates all stress and tension. The dream!