Every week, 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. From the end of January into the first days of February, PLUME VOYAGE invites you to discover the Sofitel Hotel in Dubai, The Exhibitionist Hotel – in the French quarter of London, the Park Hyatt in New York and Joel Robuchon at The Grand Maison in Bordeaux. Doesn’t it make you want to get away?
It is no accident that the Sofitel, glamorous branch of the Accor group opened its doors in downtown Dubai in November: the megalopolis equally strives to be a tourist destination. Benefitting from a top location in the centre of town, this 5-star hotel comprises of 350 rooms, 76 of which are suites, mid-way between the airport and renowned Palm Island. On one side, it overlooks the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, whilst the other dominates the beaches of the Persian Gulf and beyond. Amongst its countless assets, it also offers an elegant design and regal volumes: even the smallest of rooms feel like suites! All are designed with bay windows, boasting views of the amazing city skyline. Plus, there are eight restaurants: Thai, French…and the cocktail bars set the bar extremely high. And check out the appropriate child-size buffet! And the best bit? Bar 31, which offers an unrivalled glimpse of the city and the wonderful 60m swimming pool.
What a funny name for a hotel! In reality, it makes an allusion to its location, just a stone’s throw from the greatest museums in London: the V&A and the Science Museum…having opened on 10th November, it has 37 bedrooms and 4 suites on offer. Whilst it may be housed in a rather patrician 19th century building, audacious design pervades the hotel straight from the lobby. Witness surprise after surprise, firstly with a series of astonishing sculptures, of a life-size bull to a red man that welcome guests, and let’s not forget the wall of acidulous bottles behind the bar. In the corridors leading off the bedrooms, creativity comes into its own. The 1st floor boasts giant medical capsules that line the walls, whilst the space of the 2nd is interspersed with a succession of mini mirrors and classic paintings…And the lift is carpeted with synthetic grass!
Inaugurated at the end of August, at the price of (390!) million dollars and designed by Christian Portzamparc, the Park Hyatt New York is perfectly suited between 57th Street and 6th and 7th Avenue, opposite Carnegie Hall and a stone’s throw from Central Park, Moma and all the 5th Avenue shops. Having taken over the first 25 floors of a 90-storey building, the hotel boasts 240 rooms, 92 of which are suites. In the latter, duo Yabu Pushelberg took charge of the interior design, favouring beige hues, enhanced by the warm wooden tones. Behind the scenes of One57, the main restaurant, you may come across French chef Sébastien Archambault, who has trained under the great culinary masters, from Guy Savoy to Yannick Alléno and even Jean-François Rouquette. And finally, to the 350 pieces of art: steel screens, collages, metallic sculptures and paints are scattered here and there throughout.
Here is yet another excellent reason to take a trip to the coast of Bordeaux: the newly opened Grande Maison. In a former 19th century hotel, facing the Bernard Magret Culturel Institute, the kitchens of this newbie were entrusted to Joël Robuchon, the most star-studded chef in the world. The gourmet restaurant is set in the old library, oozing the atmosphere of a family home. A rather original menu offers 4 courses of 3 very contemporary hors-d’oeuvres, followed by a traditional main-course and desert. For a simpler taste, why not try the Olivier brasserie? In the six luxurious bedrooms, Bordeaux interior designer Frédérique Fournier plays with a very floral Napoléon III look, with warming results. Bathrooms are decked out all in white, equipped with ‘regular size’ Hermès home products that you can take away with you: the perfect present!
In a series of travel guides, even more beautiful than the last, Be-Pôles have won the unanimous support of Design Now, part of the Maison & Objets salon last year. Whassup Be-Pôles? This creative studio has also become a publishing house, which issues Portraits de villes several times a year. And what else have they got? Above all, original photography books, as the studio has left a photographer with a blank canvas, to interpret his vision of the city. Today, 20 portraits of cities have been published. The latest: Cannes and Rio. Great for both looking and reading!
This year, Mons becomes the European capital of culture, along with 18 partner cities. Accompanying this event, the Routard Guide proposes a special edition that includes all the displays and festivities that we shall see in Mons, the hot spot for weekend getaways in 2015. On the programme: major exhibitions including Van Gogh in Borinage, renovated or newly created cultural places, such as the Mundaneum, the Mons Memorial Museum, the brand-new Ceramic Centre and of course…the Doudou museum. You can also discover nearby sites, even World Heritage sites, in the form of the Hainaut. This is the indispensable bible when organising an off-the-beaten track trip to Belgium.
As we wait for the release of the famous Red Guide, the Holy Grail of hedonists, Michelin has published its “best little tables” guide. A secret weapon for all low-key occasions and always extremely dependable, seeing as these strike a positive chord with inspectors: these are the real favourites amongst Michelin. Discover hidden gems, like the Mandoobar in the 8th arrondissement in Paris, which serves exquisite Korean cuisine, or the Café Bras at the Musée Soulages, which speaks for itself. Part of the gastro league, Jour de Marché in Lyon, offers cuisine fresh from Keravec by return from Chicago, or even Pho Thaï in Paris in the 13th, for Vietnamese cuisine and an aroma like no other…In short, an indispensable item for the office or on the road.
The brand new hotel collection presided over by Alain Ducasse, who celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, bursts into life with this 2015 edition. Amongst the 520 charming establishments scattered throughout France and Italy, 43 new gems have sprung up. Amongst them, places restored by passionate people, even more charismatic restaurants and ultra-modern hotel rooms. Our favourites? The Château d’Igé, in the heart of a Burgundy vineyard, complete with a medieval atmosphere; Tenuta Monacelle, in the midst of the Itria valley, in the Pouilles, for a stay in a ‘trulli’ (a typical house with a conical roof); the Hotel Riberach, where childhood dreams become a reality in French Catalonia, beneath the leadership of a pair of architects who have injected a hint of modern life into former wine-stores, with a restaurant and spa like no other…
Regardless of what anybody says, Cuba is one of the top destinations for 2015. Try a much more easy-going trip, away from tourist hot-spots, with music and authenticity, focusing on Valparaiso and La Havane. And lucky for some, as Che’s son – Ernesto Guevara March – proposes an off-the-wall visit to the island: on the back of a Harley-Davidson, with the wind in your hair, as a more unique way of seeing the country and establishing a more intimate link “with the history of a unique Revolution”. A well-organised tours of between 6 and 9 days, that includes crucial points of interest, like the colonial Fortress of La Cabana à La Havane, captured by Che during the Revolution, or even Santa Maria…This trek takes the shape of a rock’n’roll tribute to he who, impassioned by slogans, rechristened the Norton 500 as “La Poderosa”. Can you feel the freedom?
The Maranatha group has recently opened THE latest hidden gem of Alpe D’Huez: the Hotel-Spa Royal Ours Blanc. Envisaged by in-vogue designer Sandrine Alouf (Hotel Montmartre Mon Amour), this 3-star spot tells a story (the signature of the hotel group)…this time, the world of bees and the gourmand Bear flock to the honey-pot. Architecture wise? The atmospherist favoured blonde wood, warm colours and graphic plays with honeycomb patterns for a super modern and relaxed finish. The best bit? The Pure Altitude (Fermes de Marie) spa, an unmissable treat whilst in the moutains.
It is a kid’s dream…and an alternative idea of luxury: float between forests and rivers, in the heart of 150 hectares of nature. Gaspard de Moustier, a believer that the only luxury today is “to be lost in nature”, has thus imagined 8 floating hideaways overlooking 5 lakes and 13 cabins nestled in the trees. These little eco-huts reside in an extraordinary environment, without water or electricity, but nevertheless sexy in the practice of intimacy: with spacious bathrooms, a little terrace, private entirely ecological floating spas, gourmet lunches and champagne aperitifs, garnished with leaves…These little earthy sanctuaries are perfect for singles or couples alike.
It goes without saying that New Zealand is first and foremost the land of Hobbits. And other weird and wonderful creatures. But it is also a nation of extreme sports, the All Blacks and… quirky hotels. Odd architecture including glass-houses and crab-huts emerge from the land of Maoris. Such as? The Purepods, nestled in the outback above Little River on the Banks peninsula. An exhilarating 360 degree view of the valley overlooks the hills surrounding the Forsyth Lake and beyond to the Pacific Ocean… and the chance to sleep under the stars. So why not try this 2015 Robinson Crusoe adventure?
All you need now is to invest in the ‘small’ travel brand that is taking France by storm: TUMI. You know; the suitcases with super light wheels styled in carbon, with Hawaiian prints for 2015. The indestructible accessory. And there you are, it’s done: Tumi has teamed up with German cosmetics label Uslu Airlines to launch a practical AND high-quality travel kit. A higgledy-piggledy product that we adore: its little case with its detachable zip, powder puff compartments, mini vanity case with detachable nail varnish and its impermeable side-pockets… In short, this is the must-have accessory, combined with Capsule de Plume to cleanse its hand towel…
Seeing as Lithuania became part of the Euro Zone on 1st January 2015, it is the perfect opportunity to expand its range of weekend getaways, don’t you agree? Stop off in Vilnius, the historic spot in the Baltic States, with its delightful little fantasy: the chance to stay in the bohemian, untouched district of Uzupis. This mini republic in the heart of the city, which has its own constitution, national anthem, president and prime minister, plus its own history and traditions… Even the language is slightly different! This tiny region has seven bridges, lending itself to art, charm and love. Just put, the new city of love.
A brand new setting sweeps the city… boutique hotel The Norman opens its doors near to the financial quarter, in a building typical of Bauhaus architecture. Inside: a splendid mixture of the elegance of the Belle Epoque and vintage deco codes, from peacock blue to mustard, with velvet upholstery exotic woods and antique floors. The surprise? Here you have one of the only hotels in the city that is not kosher. On the menu? Niçoise salad and a French connection in the Norman Restaurant, and Japanese tapas infused with sake at Dinings. And the cherry on top is a spectacular rooftop swimming pool! Absolute the new place to be.
On 10th January, the 11th edition of the most difficult international dog-sledding event in the world takes place in the French Alps. This trek covers 750 kilometres and more than 25,000 metres of ascent, across the Savoie and Haute-Savoie over two weeks…and this year reunites 25 of the best mushers in the world. Day and night, the crew are predicted to cross 25 ski resorts, and nothing shall stop them taking part in the ten stages from the start (against the clock or mass start) in the most beautiful natural sights of Mont-Blanc territory. Tempting, isn’t it?
Amongst the earthy paradises that you must try with the family, the Soneva Kiri is still far ahead of the competition. On the wild and luxurious island of Koh Kood (which can only be accessed by plane), arriving families will be surprised at what they find: by dining in a suspended gondola amongst the trees – the Dining Pod -, gazing at the stars from a giant observatory every evening, whilst the children have a quirky village at their disposal – the Den – an enormous wooden structure in the shape of a manta ray in which all sorts of activites are on offer… and if all that still isn’t enough, you can organise private plane hops that will take you to visit the site of Angkor in Cambodia. What else could you possibly need?
First of all, we love the design. And this is a good thing, seeing as the aptly-named Yoyo pushchair offers much more than a convertible hood: a unique (super easy!) folding technique, an incomparable compactness and light as a feather (less than 6kg). The result: it is the only pushchair today allowed in an aircraft cabin. And this is the same for both the Yoyo 0+ (for new-borns) and the Yoyo 6+ (from 6 months). Say goodbye to the stress of check-in on trips away…and there is also an array of colours to choose from!
…are guests like any other. Under the welcoming eye of Emile, their mascot for the duration of their stay, children are at home here. With a Guest relation who suggests original activities and particular addresses across the capital, treatments created by Spa Mosaïc – including the Secret Beauty treatment, Princess manicures and pedicures and even Aromateenager for teens…and of course the ‘Schoolboy’ samples. On Sunday, make time for brunch, which takes the form of a cornucopia, with playful workshops (the theme of which change every Sunday, to keep things moving). A gift idea? Personalised birthday samplings for around ten children.
A Courchevel snob? Perhaps, but the Manali may change your mind. And bring the family! Set up just three minutes from the Piou-Piou club, this spot offers the most beautiful snow facing terrace for children and parents (barbeques and snacks, just like being on holiday). Having barely arrived at the hotel, a family of giant mechanical polar bears sets the tone, which is reflected in the bedrooms: mini dressing gowns, mini slippers, a small range of care packages and at the spa, with a menu of 100% organic massages for girls and boys. And a little further afield is a mini chalet reserved entirely for the kids. They will definitely want to come back.