Chateau Eza – an Eagle’s Nest Hotel

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8185Full Moon and a view on St Jean Cap Ferrat

Chateau-Eza-IMG_8198An excellent place for Super Yacht spotting, here the 90m Lauren L, built in 2002 in Germany

Last year we took a few days off from our hectic life as hoteliers to visit the south of France.

I was able to make a last minute reservation for one night in a suite of the magnificent Chateau Eza.

However, there are a couple of things to note:

  • Eza is the old name for Eze. It is a little picturesque medieval and hence car free village on a rock approximately 500m above sea level with a magnificent view of the Mediterranean. It is the first village west from Monaco and not far from Nice and Nice Airport. It is draped like an Eagle’s Nest on a steep hill. Hotel Chateau Eza is situated on top of the village, about 20 minutes walking on a steep uphill path, partly with stairs. It’s an excellent place for Yacht spotting.
  • If you travel by car like we do, you should be aware that Eze village is a bit of a tourist trap with few parkings. On busy days it is hardly possible to park your car somewhere in the neighborhood of the entrance to the village. Many buses drop by. If you want to make a day trip by car to for instance Monaco or Nice, it takes about 1/2 hour before you reach your car and you have no guarantee you’ll find a parking spot when you return after your trip.
  • Eze can be foggy, even if the rest of the Riviera is sun blazed. Just be aware of this, if you booked for the view as we did.
  • They run an excellent restaurant, but they don’t give hotel guests a guaranteed seat for a session in the restaurant, what amazed me for a 10 rooms only hotel.
  • Checking in into the hotel is a somewhat peculiar experience, as there is a little office for the concierge in the main street not far from the car park, approximately a mile downhill form the hotel entrance itself. The hotel site is not clear about this feature. It should be in my opinion. The confirmation of the reservation gives some directions, but are not very clear. The porter does a good job bringing your luggage to the hotel. All in all it took us 2 hours from arrival by car until we were checked in.
  • Friends of us stayed somewhere in the not too distant neighborhood, and we would have liked them to meet us at the hotel for lunch, however when we were settled Eza had closed the kitchen, notwithstanding they advertise, even today, on their site: Tapas service and à la carte salads are served from 12h30 to 18h00. Moreover with a 5 stars rating you may expect 24/7 room service for tapas and salads. No flexibility at all and that annoyed me most.
  • As a final observation: The neighborhood is rocky. On the night vision photo above you look West and see the light glow of Nice behind the hill and the traffic on the secondary road. It means if there is no wind, there is a lot of traffic noise amplified by the steep rocks around. Traffic goes on all night.

All in all it was quite an, but not so quiet, experience which I won’t repeat.

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After a wonderful, but bit hazy, breakfast on the terrace we left for the Burgundy region.

Mondrian Soho NYC Opening Soon

Mondrian Soho

Mondrian Soho NYC Opening Soon

Mondrian Soho NYC Opening Soon.

Via Hotels Feel

Hotelier Ian Schrager into Chicago Ambassador East Hotel?

Ian Schrager

According to Chicago Business Ian Schrager is negotiating with the present owners to buy the 285-room Ambassador East with its “Pump Room” restaurant at 1301 N. State Pkwy in Chicago. Not really a “boutique” size property I would say. But comments are that he could be the man to re energize this 1926 built landmark hotel.

East Ambassador Chicago Pump Room Bar

Reportedly Peter Dumon and David Bossy, the present owners, have settled on a $25-million offer from Ian. Together with a former local partner they paid $44.5 million for the hotel in December 2005. What a sumptuous loss for a sumptuous hotel!

Am curious whether this acquisition will breath some new life in the Marriott – Schrager partnership named Edition Hotels that was announced with a lot of pomp in January, 2009 and not much in the news lately.

The Mr & Mrs Smith Presentation (Winding Down from the T-List – PhocusWright Travel Blogger Summit #ITB09 in Berlin part 2)

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It is really refreshing when you are sitting at a conference with presentations and discussions of travel and hospitality and tech types who only seem interested in their good self or their own product or service and are not outgoing and not interested in the guest, their clientèle, or only maybe in the money of the guest, to get a presentation of a really passionate couple. James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy (see also my interview with Tamara) , the husband and wife who founded the Mr and Mrs Smith Collections under the caption: Luxury and Romance meet Technology.

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Yes, I agree. It’s all about Respect!

They both come from a completely different background than travel and hospitality. Again their success shows that innovations in this industry frequently come from those outside the industry.

They started out with the production of the Mr & Mrs Smith guides. They described their difficulties with getting the guides published. Never before was a guide produced with one editor and one photographer for all properties. Eventually they decided to pyblish the guide all by themselves. The interesting thing is that added to the guides is a Mr and Mrs Smith membership card which gives the holder some extras as upgrades or a little present from their shop. That gives the brand a tremendous crowd to source from.

They are adamant about the properties being inspected by themselves or a member of their team of +40 in the meantime, because they strongly believe you cannot review a hotel properly without having experienced the look and feel of the place. In addition they sometimes team up with unusual partners for the hotel industry like lingerie brands. They also understand that you sometimes want to stay in a self catering accommodation or luxury chalet, rather than a hotel.

They seamlessly have merged their Blog (in the air since July 2005) into their main site. However Tamara was already out there scoring whatever was said about the brand in 2004: Shortly after I became aware of their guides via a post of my fellow editor Willem Vos at the Dutch language Weekend Hotel Blog she already commented there – note the date of the comment is not correct, as Willem had some problems in 2008 to migrate the blog to his new platform running on Ruby on Rail…whatever that may be, but I know I made the comment already in 2004-.

Here you see some footage of one of the rather unconventional and hilarious ad they presented at the keynote.

If even Gesa Noormann of Escapio says in a comment under Kevin’s Travolution coverage of the presentation:

Thanks Kevin for the fab article. Despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Smith are Escapio’s UK competitor, I can’t deny that their presentation was fantastic!

then you know your presentation was good even if you were dead tired.

Some personal notes:
I don’t understand jot from what Kevin’s caption means: “Corporate Barbarism does not begin at home say The Smiths”, but that could be my Dunglish.

If you are curious to see who the guy behind Escapio is look here. Even if I say it myself, I like the picture.

I think Willem should start talking with the two portfolios mentioned here, Mr & Mrs Smith and Escapio, or alternatively they should start talking with Willem, to see if there are possibilities to team up to cover The Netherlands and Belgium better than they do now separately.

Added March 24, 2009:

Via twitter I got the link of the same video on their site: Mr & Mrs Smith | Get a Room!. It has a bit better quality than the YouTube one

Dutch Design (37) : Marcel Wanders Designed Mondrian Miami Southbeach open

Recently the $200 million 335-room and condos hotel Mondrian Miami South Beach opened during Art Basel. Its design is by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.

The Hotel site of the Mondrian starts wit the same video you can find on Youtube:

Luckily you can skip the intro. I do not like video’s on a Hotel website as a starter. First and foremost I like photos and lay out plans of rooms. For one reason or another the photos on the Mondrian Miami hotel site are still images from the design stadium…no real photos yet.

The video is part interview with Marcel Wanders. IMHO he should take some English presentation lessons.

An extensive interview in Fastcompany‘s online magazine gives more insight about Marcel Wanders, Fast Company’s designer of 2008.

Off course the opening party was enhanced by the Happy Hour Chandelier about which project I reported earlier here

I wonder Wanders, why didn’t he built on the name Mondrian? The Dutch Style Icon that was the inspiration for Morgan’s first Mondrian Hotel in L.A. Then maybe the plain outside of this Hotel at least could have been a bit more … flamboyant…or flashy

Before the LA Mondrian became a Morgan Hotel Group Hotel, it was family owned and featured a real Mondrian painting that inspired its name…probably lost underway…..