Introducing Cuba's first true luxury hotel

Opening in Old Havana this spring is the Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana, the first ultra-luxurious hotel on the island of Cuba. Baroque Travel investigates

 

Since Barack Obama lifted the embargo on Cuba in 2015, this tropical Caribbean island has become a major tourist destination. But there were few luxe hotels to accommodate those with money to spend. And the moment Cuba opened to the public, those that were available, were immediately booked up.

 

Now all that is about to change. Opening this year in the heart of Old Havana is the largest, most modern and luxurious hotel in Cuba, the Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana, the perfect base from which to explore a gem of a country that has remained untouched, frozen in time for 60 years.

 

In the months since it has been open to the public once more, Cuba has retained its sense of magic and its untouched charm. The new hotel, which will open in spring 2017, is the latest endeavor of luxury hotel group Kempinski, the oldest company of its kind in Europe (it’s been around for 120 years). Kempinski currently boasts 75 luxury hotels and residences in more than 30 countries around the world.

 

As there is still a restriction on international companies building in Cuba, the hotel is located in a meticulously restored Neoclassical building that was originally built in the late 19th Century. Its first iteration was as Cuba’s first European-style shopping arcade called Manzana de Gómez that occupies an entire block. The area where it is situated is Old Havana, the Old City, which is part of Cuba’s capital city and was founded in 1519 by Spain. It has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel offers excellent views over the Old City, including the Capitol, the Great Theater of Havana and the legendary fish restaurant and cocktail bar where Ernest Hemingway used to dine, called El Floridita. There are numerous historic sites to explore in this charming old part of the city when one is not being indulged with every possible luxury in the superlative Kempinski Manzana La Habana.

The hotel is ideally located close to Old Havana’s main thoroughfare, Calle Obispo, which is lined with art galleries, fascinating shops and lively music bars. In addition, most of the city’s famous sights are within 10 minutes walk or drive from the hotel.

 

The five-story luxury hotel offers 246 spacious rooms and suites, all with high ceilings and French windows that open out onto the Old City. There are numerous facilities, including a state-of-the-art spa run by Resense, a fitness center and rooftop swimming pool as well as a selection of three excellent restaurants and bars, a one-of-a-kind cigar lounge and a rooftop restaurant and bar offering breathtaking views of the Old City. There will also be a business center.

 

Although the Kempinski Manzana La Habana has yet to open, it’s already receiving a lot of hype and publicity. If you would like to find out more information on this unique hotel project, let Baroque Travel assist. We will find out everything you wish to know, including when reservations to stay there will be open. We will then make those for you. Mail us right away, info@baroquetravel.com and we will assist you in every way possible.

Stylish retreat to open in St Barts this coming December

If you enjoy visiting the Caribbean and staying in the utmost luxury, Baroque Travel has found the perfect location for you, a brand new retreat that opens in December 2016 in St Barts

 

Opening on 16th December, Villa Marie Saint-Barth is an extremely plush, romantic and stylish retreat nestling in 15 acres of exquisite gardens. Located in the hills of Colombier overlooking beautiful Flamands Beach on St Barts, this French gem with its luxurious amenities is a welcome addition to the hotels and retreats that inhabit the island.

This is not the only Villa Marie in the world; the first one to open was in St Tropez, but now St Barts has its own luxurious home-from-home.

 

Villa Marie St Barth features 17 exquisite bungalows in four different categories, all with spectacular sea views as well as an exclusive two-bedroomed villa and a spacious Master Villa, both with private swimming pools. Decorated by French interior designer Jocelyne Sibuet, renowned for her French country style, accommodation is vibrant outside, white-washed inside with a distinct bohemian feel: think bespoke headboards, handmade macramé seashell chandeliers, tables with pineapple feet and specially created rattan chairs.

 

Every bungalow has its own private setting with verandah and terrace, offering a tranquil getaway where one can relax in peace and soak up breathtaking sea views.

 

The resort boasts a 50-seater restaurant, Francois Plantation, which offers sophisticated French cuisine blended with local color and Caribbean flavors. Executive Chef Emmanuel Motte has created an imaginative menu with many delights, served daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Guests enjoy starting their day or enjoying a post-prandial drink at the handsome Rum Bar, named for the region’s fine rums served there along with lots of cocktails and small snacks. The Rum Bar boasts an exceptional selection of Cuban cigars in their on-site humidor; well worth enjoying.

 

Keeping with the tranquil theme, the resort offers an exceptional Pure Altitude Spa featuring a list of health and beauty treatments. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool for those who are too lazy to head for the beach. Nestling in the lush gardens, it offers a chance to cool down amongst the vibrantly colored plants and refresh oneself.

 

Both Villa Marie in St Tropez and the new iteration in St Barts are part of Maisons et Hotels Sibuet, a French based company of luxury boutique hotels owned by the Sibuet family. There are nine other properties aside from the Villa Marie’s, located in the Alps and on the Mediterranean coast.

 

If you would like to enjoy a stay at Villa Marie St Barth this winter, make sure to contact Baroque Travel right away, so that we can arrange this for you. Mail us, info@baroquetravel.com, and we will give you all the information you require as well as make your reservations for you.

Where to stay in St Barts this winter season

If you know anything about St Barts, you know that one of the places to stay this coming winter season is the breathtaking Le Sereno. Baroque Travel gives us all the details

 

Modern, luxurious and oh so stylish, Le Sereno opened in 2005 right on trendy Grand Cul de Sac beach (it’s one of just a handful of hotels on the island that boasts what amounts to a virtually private beach 600 feet long).

With exquisite interiors in all 36 suites rooms and three large four-bedroom villas suites designed by renowned Parisian designer Christian Liagre and plush facilities everywhere, this on trend hotel offers breathtaking views overlooking the bay. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool with large wooden terrace for sunbathing, outdoor pool, gourmet restaurant, bar and lounge as well as a spa, fitness center and beach club. Most accommodation offers ocean views and some of the hotel villas come with their own private pool. Rooms and villas include full-size en suite bathrooms appointed with exotic wood and granite sinks, deep bath tub for soaking, private sundeck and separate shower.

The restaurant, Le Restaurant des Pecheurs, is one of the most popular on the island. It offers sublime dining options, including freshly caught fish daily by the local fishermen and meats flown to the island from France. Of course, being ultra-luxurious, all the spa treatments are provided in the privacy of your own room or suite, and the fitness center provides personal trainers.

Personalized service is guaranteed at this intimate, family-owned and family-run hotel that is popular with the sophisticated set who enjoy luxury, comfort and privacy. The first hotel on the island to receive a coveted five stars under the new French hotel grading classification, Le Sereno is considered one of the best places to stay not only in the Caribbean, but in the world. The hotel recently joined The Leading Hotels of the World Ltd, the world’s largest hospitality organization representing the finest establishments in more than 80 countries.

Leading Hotels of the World feature the most superlative luxury, evident at Le Sereno in its high thread count sheets and towels, all custom made for the hotel by D. Porthault, Ex Voto Paris bath products, 24-hour room service, personal iPods and iPad (the latter on request). Guests also enjoy VIP reception and assistance on arrival at St Maarten airport. No wonder Vanity Fair magazine calls the hotel “A flawless diamond in St Barths”.

In fact, the magazine waxes lyrical about the hotel; its review is featured on Le Sereno’s website, and describes the hotel as paradise: “...this environment is ingenious and inviting, from the location of the restaurant to the pool, to all of the suites and villas,” the review tells us.

Husband and wife team Christian (he’s the general manager) and Sandrine (she manages the rooms division) ensure that guests are well taken care of. Service and hospitality is on a different level at Le Sereno. No wonder the hotel books out so fast.

 

So if you’d like to reserve a room this winter season, let Baroque Travel assist you. Contact us right away, info@baroquetravel.com and we will assist you in every detail of your travel arrangements. 

Embark on a multi-million-dollar Maldives adventure

Why not take over an entire paradise island in the Maldives – for a mere $6 million-plus dollars for seven nights? Baroque Travel fills us in on W Maldives’ Extreme Island Takeover package

 

Located on a private island called Fesdu in the North Ari Atoll, just one and a half hours by speed boat from Male International Airport or 25 minutes by seaplane, W Maldives is an idyllic setting. Surrounded by blue sea and offering a choice of exquisite white sand beaches and a tranquility and sense of privacy, this exquisite resort is an ideal location for a luxurious getaway. Add all of the hotel’s plush facilities, such as a diving center, gym and outdoor infinity pool, superb cuisine and luxury accommodation, and you have a vacation made in heaven.

While it’s common for resorts to take up an entire island in the magnificent Maldives, it’s quite unusual to be able to hire out the whole thing. But W Maldives has decided to offer just that – an entire island. The resort’s Extreme Island Takeover involves having access to the whole resort for a period of time no shorter than 4 nights/5 days, including 78 rooms and suites, all the restaurants on the island, a never-ending supply of food and house beverages, unlimited water sports and unlimited access to the gym, aqua aerobics, yoga classes and the overwater AWAY Spa which offers Ayurvedic and facial treatments as well as massage. There’s also a library and an activities/games room.

Everything is at your disposal at W Maldives, including exploring the stunning island and enjoying its white sand beaches and beautiful lagoons at leisure. Imagine the luxury of knowing that the island is all yours for a week? Yes, that’s exclusive use of every single facility on the island, a private playground just for you and your guests. Like a mega house party for with all the trimmings in one of the most magical locations on earth.

Every guest will enjoy a private escape in the plush villas, each with its own private plunge pool and sundeck, not to mention a choice of six gourmet restaurants and lounge bars, including an underground nightclub called 15BELOW, situated 15 steps below the surface of the island and the overwater. Villas are fitted with a 42-inch plasma TV, BOSE CD and DVD player, WiFi, tea/coffee maker, mini bar and private bathroom with rain shower, hairdryer and upmarket toiletries.

 

If you would like to take over W Maldives for four nights or more, contact Baroque Travel right away, info@baroquetravel.com, and we will arrange everything for you. Four nights is the shortest package, at a rate of $4 million, whilst 7 nights will set you back $6.25 million.

New luxury hotel opens in Martinique

You can still enjoy fun and sun in the Caribbean right through winter. Baroque Travel finds out all about a brand new Martinique hotel, French Coco

 

As summer comes to a close, there’s no need to despair. There are numerous idyllic island paradises quite close to home. We’re talking about the breathtaking Caribbean islands for instance, where the sun is always shining, the sea an azure blue, and the lifestyle so relaxed, it makes for an idyllic holiday.

 

One of the Caribbean islands that rarely features any new hotels is the beautiful island of Martinique, known as ‘The Isle of Flowers’ and ‘The Caribbean island with French flair’. An alluring, enchanting vacation destination, Martinique is home to a modern and reliable infrastructure, making a holiday here an absolute joy.

 

New on the island since July this year is French Coco, a five star luxury boutique hotel, and a member of SLH (Small Luxury Hotels). It’s situated in the tiny local fishing village of Tartane on the Caravelle Peninsula, which is actually a nature reserve, so you can just imagine how scenic the surroundings are. There are just 17 suites at French Coco: each features its own private swimming pool, a covered terrace or garden. All of the suites offer private espresso machines, free Wi-Fi and walk-in en suite showers.

 

Suites are divided into four separate categories. The Ti Suite, at 430 square feet is on the ground floor, with a private terrace. Suite Creole is the same size, located on the ground floor and features a private pool. Suite Caraibe is 538 square feet in size, also located on the ground floor, and offers a private pool and garden.  The largest suites, the Suites Presq’ile, are 650 square feet in size, with a private pool and furnished terrace.

 

Although only open for a short time, French Coco is already gaining a reputation for its superb Creole-inspired French cuisine. Heading the restaurant at the hotel is Nathanaël Ducteil, a former apprentice of famous French chef Alain Ducasse. He sources most of his products from local fishermen, and the food is prepared using organic produce from the hotel’s own herb and vegetable gardens. The menu is contemporary Caribbean in nature, and dining here is sure to be an unforgettable epicurean adventure.

 

Guests can spend most of their time at the resort, or explore further afield on this magical island paradise. The head concierge and his team are available to offer guests customized experiences during their stay, and will gladly arrange scuba diving or any other excursion for them.

 

The hotel’s special offering is an opportunity for guests to spend time in the traditional Creole fishing village of Tartane, and get to know all about the island’s local culture and heritage as well as the daily life of village residents. This is in addition to a new era of superlative hospitality that guests will experience during their stay.

Until the end of November, room rates are at a special grand opening rate of approximately $300. This includes breakfast, taxes and service fees.

 

If you would like to find out more about this exceptional boutique hotel, or the island of Martinique, contact Baroque Travel right away, and we will fill you in. If you’d like us to book a reservation for you at French Coco, we will gladly do so. Email us immediately, info@baroquetravel.com

Peruvian adventure

If you’re craving a new challenge and have the money to experience an adventure in Peru, then Baroque Travel has the perfect getaway… the opportunity to sleep in a glass pod on a mountain cliff in Cuzco’s Sacred Valley. Are you up for the challenge?

 

The Natura Vive Skylodge offers adrenaline seekers the ultimate adventure, a chance to sleep in a glass capsule strapped 400 feet up the mountain – oh, and did we mention you have to climb the mountain to get there? If you prefer, you can take a trail that is filled with zip-lines over vast spaces to get up there. Either way, getting up – and down – the mountain is your challenge. And staying in a glass capsule in the midst of nowhere high up the mountain is your reward.

 

There is a choice of three luxurious glass pods on the mountainside, each measuring 24 feet long and 8 feet high and accommodating a total of 8 people. Each has 4 beds, a dining table and private bathroom complete with dry ecological toilet and sink. Of course, as the pod is completely glass, you have unbelievable 300-degree views of your surroundings. But don’t worry – curtains are provided so that you can sleep and use the bathroom facilities in peace!

 

These luxury pods have been handcrafted from aerospace aluminum and weather-resistant polycarbonate. They are completely safe, too, as the exit portal is located in upper part of the pod. Aside from being extremely comfortable, the pods also offer an alternative lighting system with four interior lamps and a reading light, all of which are powered by solar panels. And did we mention that the beds have cotton sheets, down pillows and quilts? Luxury comes standard 400 meters above the ground!

 

The experience, which includes transportation to and from Cuzco and the Skylodge, as well as gourmet dinner and wine, plus breakfast and accommodation in the pod, is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It’s the next best thing to sleeping in a condor’s nest, according to the website! Of course, this is no ordinary nest; it’s a luxurious capsule that hangs from the top of one of the mountains in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

 

Although we can’t guarantee much sleep as you’re hanging from the side of a mountain in a completely transparent bedroom, we can promise you will have an unequalled view of this magical, mystic valley. But then of course we’re forgetting that you may well be tired from clambering up 400 feet to get to your glass pod. Or, if you were even more adventurous, perhaps you took the trail that included seven exciting ziplines?


Of course, you don’t have to follow a map to get there. You will have the assistance of an experienced guide. You also don’t have to be an expert to enjoy your mountain adventure. If you would like to experience this ultra-luxurious, one-of-a-kind adventure, Baroque Travel will make all the arrangements for you. Just mail us right away, info@baroquetravel.com and we will arrange it all for you.