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A Fast Mover learns to love Slow Travel

February 10, 2011 1:27 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

Raymonde Wagemaker was a mechanical engineer and a successful executive in the oil & gas industry. In fact Raymonde was so successful that he spent 250 days a year on the road traveling throughout South America to oversee the business units he was responsible for. Eventually after years of travel and deal making he decided he was successful enough and did what many of us can only dream of, he quit his day job and bought a vineyard. It just happened to also have a boutique hotel with two locations attached. Instantly this fast mover learned to love the art of slow travel.

“Our customers are into slow travel.” says a beaming Raymonde as he and his wife Bernadette, a former teacher, show us around their property. “Our guests from the US, Brazil and Canada want to stay in a luxury property on a working vineyard. They want to take the time and taste the grapes.” Raymonde remembers that when he was an executive he wanted nothing more than a few days off to do nothing but relax and indulge. He vowed that one day he would give himself this luxury. And so when the 7 year old hotel came up for sale he bought it. Currently his mini-chain of properties has 2 locations, Valle de Uco which is a country style hotel in the midst of a private 8 hectare Malbec vineyard and Chacras de Coria an urban lifestyle hotel in Mendoza. Combined both properties have just 16 rooms.

The philosophy according to Bernadette is to give guests the most precious luxury of them all, time. “Our customers love wine, they want to visit the wineries in Mendoza and sample the restaurants, but they also want to relax.” And so both properties quite consciously maintain a small, comfortable feel. When we were at the Valle de Unco property it was raining so we missed the view of the Tupungato Volcano and Andes Mountains but Raymonde assured us, “They are splendid, their majestic shape and fresh air combine to make this location relaxing and magical.”

Postales Boutique Wine Hotels’ customers are baby boomers and well travelled executives like Raymonde. “I know these people, I was one of them for years so I know what they need and what they want to enjoy their time off. And so we specialize in giving them peace and quiet and an authentic Argentinean experience. “ It’s interesting that a family from Holland has mastered the art of Argentinean hospitality but they have. Our short stay was just long enough to relax, recharge and reinvigorate the senses before heading out on another long day of shooting.

For more information visit their website, www.postalesarg.com.

What Every Great Hotel Should Have

January 6, 2011 5:47 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

As we travel the world we get to stay in some wonderful properties and have had some truly life changing experiences in great hotels. A brilliant property is in fact a world unto itself. And so while we’ve been crisscrossing the globe producing Wine Portfolio my team and I have been keeping notes on the best attributes of the hotels we call home. And so here is our list of the Top 5 things that EVERY great hotel needs.

Number 1: Corkscrew
Ok it sounds obvious that a wine lifestyle brand would want a decent corkscrew in our hotel rooms but you would be amazed at how many 5-star properties fail to provide this basic amenity. In a world where TSA Agents are only too anxious to confiscate anything that looks dangerous, the classic corkscrew has become a checked bag luxury. We particularly liked the Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice which had a wonderful corkscrew and two Riedel glasses always on the ready.

Number 2: Coffee Maker
It goes without saying that if you spend your days tasting great wines from around the world and still use a corkscrew and glasses in your room at night then you’re going to need a good coffee maker. And that also means great coffee and cream in the room. Kudos here to the Park Hyatt Tokyo which not only had excellent in room coffee but they also had a hot water machine and a selection of teas and noodles. This is perfect for the jet-lagged traveler.

Number 3: Health Club
I hate resort fees and extra costs to use a fitness room. Really? I don’t want to become a member I just want to workout and stay healthy for the couple of days that I’m staying with you. Some hotels get this, others don’t but the Mandarin Oriental Miami was the star here. They had a great pool, excellent workout facilities and extra long hours.

Number 4: Free Internet
I get it WIFI costs, connectivity has a fee, there’s a charge for IT, so just include it in the price of the room and make it an essential element of each stay. Honestly unless your clientele are cavemen or the extremely elderly who doesn’t need/want to check their email, Facebook and Twitter Accounts? BTW Hoteliers search Goggle for the 90 year-old woman who bought an iPad and you’ll see Internet connectivity needs to be seen as a commodity not a luxury. The winner here for us was Holland America Lines. This summer while we were cruising the Mediterranean we were in constant contact with our studios via WIFI. It wasn’t fast but hey we were on a ship and that’s just wonderful.

Number 5: Bathrobe
There’s an unwritten law in hotel operations that says you send the maid, bellman or maintenance man to guest rooms only when the guests are exiting showers. And for this reason alone all hotel rooms should come with large, comfortable and cool-looking bathrobes. Trust me the maids, bellmen and maintenance guys will appreciate it as well. The best we’ve seen so far was at the Meadwood in Napa Valley, a sumptuous Relais & Châteaux property. The bathrobes here were in a word epic.

OK I could go on, but I will save this for another blog. Suffice it to say we love great hotels and always enjoy staying with a world class property. These ideas aren’t meant as criticisms of some hotels but simply as suggestions to help to make the experience even better for the weary or worldly traveler.

So what about you? What do you think we’ve missed so far on this list of what every great hotel should have?