Dream hotels to fuel travel fantasies

Dream hotels to fuel travel fantasies

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when going online to book arrangements for a trip was something all travel lovers did on a regular basis. But with travel ground to a halt and likely to remain so for some time to come, it seems premature to plan any kind of a trip these days. For many globetrotting types, putting the arrangements into place is half the fun, and not being able to stitch together a weekend getaway or full-fledged vacation is an activity they’ve been missing.

The vicarious thrill of checking out hotels from all angles doesn’t have to be given up completely, however. Whereas in the past it was necessary to pair one’s aspirations with a budget, in this world in which all travel is virtual, finally we can dream big. So why not fuel that travel lust with virtual check-ins at some of Europe’s most sumptuous properties? Here’s a look at some places to fuel your travel dreams.

Alpine elegance: The Chedi Andermatt is a hotel and spa set in a rustic Swiss town of narrow lanes and wooden chalets. Winter fun outside the door includes skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, husky tours or ice skating; in summer, guests can while away their hours hiking, golfing, paragliding or sailing on a nearby lake. But those staying at the five-star Chedi might be perfectly content not straying too far from home. . . .

The Chedi’s 135 rooms and suites, all with a fireplace, bathtub and balcony, combine Alpine charm with an Asian aesthetic. The spacious spa offers a Finnish sauna, indoor and outdoor heated pools, a gym filled with all the latest equipment and the services of a personal trainer. Among the pampering spa treatments is the chakra balance massage, which uses essential oils and concludes with a mini-facial or Tibetan scalp massage.

Other amenities include a children’s club, where kids can play or take a cookie baking class. First-time skiers can benefit from the presence of a personal butler tasked with helping them get fully equipped. Special offers include the “007 Feeling” package, including a “Goldfinger” welcome cocktail, four-course dinner, three-night stay in a deluxe suite with its own wine cabinet and a helicopter flight, including a complimentary bottle of champagne.

Culinary options include two restaurants, one of which has open studio kitchens, enabling diners to observe the award-winning chefs hard at work. The second, a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant, offers a sushi and sashimi bar, a ten-course Kaiseki menu and Switzerland’s most extensive collection of sake. For the merely peckish, snacks and small dishes are available at the wine and cigar library, lobby, courtyard, poolside, at the bar and in a space referred to as the Living Room. The wine collection is extensive, with some 4,000 bottles of notable vintages displayed in glass cabinets across public spaces.

The hotel’s piece de resistance is the 16-foot high, glass-enclosed wine and cheese cellar offering local specialties and Swiss classics.

Experience the Chedi virtually here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4GMbUo-zwI

Lazy days by the beach: The Verdura Resort near Sciacca, Sicily is set amongst olive trees and orange groves. The white-sand beaches of the Med are just a couple minutes’ walk away, but if you’re feeling lazy, just buzz on over in your golf cart. For exercise, one can play tennis, play a round of golf on its championship course or try watersports, including a flight on a futuristic flyboard. Relaxation can take the form of indulging in thalassotherapy or enjoying a massage. Organic foods grown on-site make their way into the nutritionally balanced meals served at the resort’s restaurant. The sleek spa area offers soaks in salt-water pools, balance-restoring massages, facials and fitness classes. Watching the sun set while sipping cocktails is a favorite pastime among guests.

As the kids go off for supervised play in one of children’s clubs, parents can enjoy downtime in a huge infinity pool or experience an individualized wine tasting. The four-day “Green to Tee Coaching Program” offers golf lessons under the tutelage of experienced PGA professionals.

A unique selling point connected with a stay here is the property’s hosting of some notable guests. In recent years, the Verdura Resort has played host to those attending the annual Google Camp, a meeting at which the ultra-rich and influential mix and mingle to discuss heady topics from human rights to climate change. When the facility isn’t completely booked out by this exclusive coterie, lower profile types can experience the lifestyle, too.

Enjoy your day at the beach from afar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHAYsEwI--Q

Ultimate luxury in Venice: The Gritti Palace is a 15th-century palazzo with polished woodwork, gold ceilings, ornate stucco and gleaming marble surfaces set off by mirrors, statuary and Murano glass chandeliers. Richly colored silk and tapestry add to the opulence. In the multi-starred, gourmet restaurant Club del Doge, locally sourced seafood is served. Cocktails are mixed and Champagne sipped in the company of original rococo paintings in the Bar Longhi.

Would-be chefs might wish to take advantage of the Gritti Epicurian School’s three-day Stay & Cook program, in which a two-night stay includes guided tours through local markets to source ingredients for cooking sessions led by top chefs, “cicchetto” or tapas-like snack tastings and more.

Although nights on the town are certainly spectacular, there’s also good reason to enjoy a night in. The Gritti Terrace opens up directly onto the Grand Canal, crisscrossed from dawn to dusk by watercraft of all kinds, and on the opposite banks, the majestic domed Santa Maria della Salute church dominates the skyline.

If one of these spots was good enough for Elizabeth Taylor, Peggy Guggenheim, Ernest Hemingway and a host of other famous names, surely this list can provide you with a place to rest your weary head for the night, too. Pleasant dreams!

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