My exciting eventful week curating the world of luxury travel attending ILTM Cannes 2016 | ILTM Cannes, France | After several months traveling around there world non-stop, I have a few days at home in New York, to seat down and start debriefing and blogging about some of the highlights of my recent travels. First post, my exciting eventful week attending ILTM Cannes, which took me from New York to Madrid, Spain, onwards to Nice, Cannes, Monaco and Monte Carlo, France. ILTM – International Luxury Travel Market, is the place and event where luxury travel advisors and media, like me, gather in search of what new – coming – trending in the world of luxury travel, and like in my case, to scout for and curate, unique travel experiences to offer both my discerning leisure and corporate clients. So here we go, hope you enjoy my post. For more tips and recommendations, check and follow me on Instagram, to see all my minute-to-minute past/current/future post and experiences on ILTM Cannes 2016.
My journey began flying non-stop New York to Madrid on American Airlines Business Class. This is my choice of airline to Europe and South America and in the past I have reported widely about it. You may read more on my Airline Reviews Section. Early morning arrival to Barajas International Airport in Madrid T4 Terminal. I am the kind of traveler that enjoys doing long connections, leaving the airport, taking a hotel room for the day and exploring around, specially at cities I love and enjoy like Madrid. So I did. !!!
So the hotel of my choice for my brief stopover in Madrid, was the new and receintly opened Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques. This hotel, inspired by the works of the famous Spanish painter Velázquez, opened its doors, days before my stay and visit. A former 19th century palace with a prime location in the Madrid of the Austrias, next to the Royal Palace, the Teatro Real and the Almudena Cathedral. So I checked into my suite, took a shower, went down for breakfast, and them took a full walk-around of the property, which includes two separate buildings and several gourmet options, with Restaurant Dos Cielos as the main options by Hermanos Torres. Something to highlight for the Summer months, is the contemporary swimming pool and jacuzzi on the top floor overlooking the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral and the famous district of the Austrias, with solarium and cocktail bar.
I’ve been to Madrid countless times, and I have even lived there for several years. With the time left I had, before heading back to the airport, I took a stroll around Plaza Mayor and stopped for some tapas at one of my favorite bars, Cerveceria Eboli.
Next stop, and my pre ILTM stay was Nice, France. A destination I adore, to which also been many times and always look forward to return. A busy week was ahead of me, but tonight I was indulging at one of my absolute favorite Grande Dame luxury hotels in the world, Le Negresco Hotel Nice.
Le Negresco Hotel, located along Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, features the perfect balance among sophistication, avant-garde style, eccentric lifestyle and tradition. The minute you walk by the door and enter the lobby of the hotel, a fairy tale of charm unfolds. Le Negresco first opened its doors on January 8th, 1913. The hotel, designed by Henri Negrescu, immediately attracted a brilliant international clientele, Kings of the old and the new world. Jeanne Augier is the guardian of this myth. Owner of the Palace since 1957, this great lady – with deeply-rooted convictions – has devoted her life to the preservation and the development of this unique heritage. I have been lucky enough to be among its guests, several times, and each time I return, still takes my breath away.
My suite was gorgeous, mind I truly appreciate this style and design. Eclectic the least, a perfect combination of contemporary, avant-garde and conservative. a journey through the ages in ultimate sophistication. Louis XV, Empire or French Riviera style, they let you enjoy the elegance in an exceptional setting, opening up onto the Bay of Angels. As a courtesy to you, book this hotel thought me and enjoy the following VIP Amenities: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability + Buffet breakfast daily for up to 2 in-room guests, served in restaurant + A complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people per room, once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities once during stay (The dinner is a 3-course set up menu (with 2 choices), exclusive of drinks. + Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability + Complimentary Wi-Fi.
Was time to get ready for our evening. The annual tradition is a private gala dinner at the fabulous Two-Michelin Stars Restaurant Le Chantecler. So I put my new RUBINSINGER Tuxedo on – tailor made exclusively for this trip – and off I went to enjoy the evening hosted by dear friend and General Manager Pierre Bord, and a select group of hand picked colleagues from around the world.
Le Chatecler Restaurant, Nice’s finest restaurant. Jean-Denis Rieubland, two stars in the Michelin Guide, defines his cuisine and his style as “inspired by Provence, with the respect of its products and traditions”. He likes transmitting his taste of “the true” and offers. We had the honor to have Chef Rieubland welcome us to his restaurant and extend a warm welcome to France.
Of course my evening would not be complete – despite traveling for the last 24 hours, and being a bit tired – without a quick stop by Le Negresco’s Bar, for a Filthy Vodka Martini, Carlos Melia style. With its authentic walnut woodwork from 1913 and its exceptional tapestry from 1683, Le Negresco’s Bar is a place of hushed tasting. When the evening comes the bar wakes to the rhythm of jazz chords and Latino music.
Early morning and the breeze coming through my window and the sound of the palm trees moving along, woke me up. It was time to pack, head to breakfast – which it is a must experience at Le Negresco – and off to Cannes to begin my week at ILTM Cannes 2016.
La Rotonde Brasserie, functions as the breakfast room. Kitsch and fabulous at the same time, a décor filled with vibrant colors, an 18th century carousel and its wooden horses make La Rotonde a very unexpected place. Dedicated to families, it is a warm and bright restaurant where it is pleasant to linger after a delicious gourmet meal.
My private transfer was awaiting for me to take me to Cannes. Quick Check IN at my hotel by La Croisette, by the Cannes Convention Center and off to register as VIP Travel Media and get my badge to access the show ILTM Cannes 2016. (ILTM) International Luxury Travel Market is a portfolio of global, regional and specialist luxury travel events, where the best of the best in Travel meet and network. Their flagship event takes place every year in Cannes. But, if you follow me, you might have seen me as well taking part on there Mexico edition at ITLM Americas. ILTM is a by invitation only event. I have been invited in the past to participate as a hosted Buyer and Travel Agent, but this year, I was honor to be invited to participate as part of the VIP Media Team, along with companies and publications like Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure, VOGUE, Robb Report, among many other… Such an honor. !!!!
During ILTM Events, the top luxury hospitality and travel groups, go above and beyond to host and celebrate the travel trade and press in attendance. With event open to everyone and some other VIP by invitation only soirees. My first event – back to my Tuxedo – was hosted by one of my favorite collection of hotels, Oetker Collection, which took place at the spectacular Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Cap d’Antibes, only 30 minutes away from Cannes. The evening was cohosted by Travel Leaders – the largest and most celebrated network of professional travel agents in North America, and I was joined by my fellow colleagues at First in Service Travel.
A new morning in Cannes attending ILTM Cannes 2016. My short stroll by La Croisette, to the convention center. The rest of my morning went along with presentations by hotel groups and travel services at the Media Center and some Pre-Scheduled one-on-one appointments. Some highlights were: (A) seeing the entire team of Belmond Hotels, Trains & River Cruises and listening to the exciting news on the upcoming growth for 2017/18, expecting to duplicate their collection. (B). Meeting the owners of this two properties, Sikelia Luxury Retreat in Pantelleria, Sicily and Ciasa Salares Hotel in the Dolomites.
Lunch break was hosted this time by the InterContinental Group, at the very lovely Carlton Hotel. I was lucky to share the table with many distinguished Travel Media colleagues. As a courtesy to you, book this hotel thought me and enjoy the following VIP Amenities: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability + Buffet breakfast for up to two in-room guests, served at the restaurant + Carlton Beach : Free access to the beach sunlounges (exclusivity for Virtuoso). Value is up to 45 euros per day and per person + Dedicated Guest Relation Manager and daily complimentary in-room internet access + For guests staying in the 1 Bedroom Suite Category or higher: One Way Transfer + Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability.
The afternoon was back at the convention center and at our Media Center. I was very interested to attend several presentations by suppliers in Japan, a destination I am rather interested for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Some of the highlights were: (A) Luxurique Japan, a bespoke luxury tour operator specialized in created private unique local traditional and untraditional experiences. (B) The Ryokan Collection, the ultimate Japanese experience to Ryokans. (C). The new line of day and overnight luxury trains being developed, Twilight Express Mizukaze (opening June 2017) and the Train Suite Shiki-Shima ( opening May 2017 ).
It was time to get ready for another evening full of fantastic events. Above, the private event by Lungarno Hotel Collection by the Ferragamo Family, of course at the Salvatore Ferragamo flagship shop in Cannes. So I took my own Ferragamo shoes for a walk in honor to the evening. Next stop was the event by Cheval Blanc Hotel Group at Hotel Barriere Le Majestic, and the ARMANI Hotels event at the ARMANI Store.
The evening concluded at the annual ILTM Official Opening Party at The Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez. Always lots of fun, lots of champagne and the best way to network with dear colleagues and meet new ones.
Following morning, was an early ( very early one ). Given that the previous night went on till late, I was not at the top of my game, but this changed radically as soon as our speaker for the morning began his discourse on the core of the concept of Luxury the new trends and struggles by The Future Laboratory hosted by Ritz Carlton Hotels & Resorts at the Barriere Hotel Le Majestic. Quite frankly eye-opening, enlightening and reaffirming.
My last evening was rather F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S, with two private glamorous events. First cocktails hosted by Four Seasons Hotels & Resort ( photo above with my dear Nicola Chilton – Regional Director of Public Relations and Content – EMEA ).
Second, a private dinner for seven, hosted by Ritz Hotel Paris at the privacy of their own apartment, hosted by no other than Mr Boyen – General Manager and our Chef for the night, and the Mr Colin Peter Field’s Walter, best know as the iconic Head Barman of the legendary Hemingway Bar. As a courtesy to you, book this hotel thought me and enjoy the following VIP Amenities: Guaranteed upgrade at time of booking + No set check-in/check-out time (hotel must be advised of estimated arrival time) + Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests (valid at restaurant or in-room) + Complimentary two-way private airport transfer (with VIP meet & greet at the airport on arrival) +Complimentary Wi-Fi.
And of course, I would not miss for the world, the closing ILTM Party at the Hotel Barriere Le Majestic, along with friend and colleagues. Thank you Bianca for a fun fun night out.
Next day, was a free day…. so my choice was to take the Hight Speed train to Monaco, and spend my days exploring both Monaco and Monte Carlo. A panoramic coastal train ride, that in one hour took me from Cannes to Monaco.
The main reason, was to scout and curate unique experiences and the best spots for my clients to enjoy the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix F1. So my day went buy checking the top luxury hotels, restaurants and sites.
First stop, the Metropole Hotel Monte Carlo. The architecture and decoration are classical and timeless with a touch of modernism. Its warm Mediterranean spirit makes it different from other hotels – it is nearer to being an independent house. The innovative and personalized services are a source of surprise and they charm its guests. It is a fashionable, elegant hotel. As a courtesy to you, book this hotel thought me and enjoy the following VIP Amenities: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability + Daily full breakfast for up to two in-room guests (at Pool restaurant) + $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full) + Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability + Complimentary Wi-Fi.
And I enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Metropole Hotel Monte Carlo at Joël Robuchon Restaurant. Mediterranean-accented, sophisticated and accessible cuisine, in which the emphasis is on the produce.
Next stop,A cocoon of well-being at the iconic Hotel de Paris. Low relief sculptures, marble colonnades and crystal chandeliers combine to create a sense of awe-inspiring solemnity which makes this such a memorable destination. Opened in 1863 as part of the development of Monaco by the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM). The hotel has 187 rooms divided into four groups based on type of view, decoration and luxury. Featured restaurant Le Louis XV by Chef Alain Ducasse. As a courtesy to you, book this hotel thought me and enjoy the following VIP Amenities: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability + Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests + $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit, (excluding Louis XV and mini bar no cash value if not redeemed in full) + Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability + Complimentary Wi-Fi.
Finally but not least, and I must say the property that stole my heart, the prestigious Belle Époque style palace Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo. Overlooking the Mediterranean, the Hôtel Hermitage epitomizes a certain carefree elegance at the highest level. Built in the early 1900s, this historic luxury hotel offers an intimate and relaxed ambiance, a haven of peace in the heart of Monte-Carlo. This property is also part of the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM). The hotels offers direct access to Thermes Marins de Monte-Carlo. Something to mention is the Salle Belle Époque with lavish interiors and unobstructed view of the port and Rock. As a courtesy to you, book this hotel thought me and enjoy the following VIP Amenities: Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability + Full breakfast for two daily for up to two in-room guests, served on Eiffel Mezzanine + The traditional Hermitage Afternoon Tea with a selection of home made pastries and finger sandwiches. Once during the stay, for up to two people, served at the Limun Bar + Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability + Complimentary Wi-Fi.
By courtesy of the SBM Group – Société des Bains de Mer, I was invited to a private tour of the Casino of Monte Carlo of the Principality of Monaco. I have seen many casinos around the world, but the legendary Casino of Monte Carlo – one of the oldest casinos in existence, is just breathtaking. International clientèle visits, thanks to its history, legendary décor and full range of table games and slot machines.
I continued to walk around Monte Carlo, to explore the vibe and scene, which I must say, positively surprised me. I came with the idea I would not enjoy it, and I left that same night, feeling, well perhaps I should have stayed overnight. !!!
Dinner took place back at Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo. First drinks at the Crystal Bar, with my dear friend Ariel Crespo – CNN Español, and then on my own at 1-Michelin Star Le Vistamar Restaurant chef Benoît Witz. Seafood with a rich bouquet of Mediterranean flavors. Elegant yet authentic, The Vistamar offers a perfect harmony of sophistication and simplicity.
My way back from Monte Carlo to Cannes, was rather unexpected, but quintessentially Cote d’Azur style, by motorbike, thats to Nicolas Meset at Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo, who was heading the same way and offered me the ride. This was officially the end of my week in Cannes attending ILTM Cannes 2016, following morning, I had a very early pick up and transfer to Marseille Airport, to begin my next travel experience and adventure, this time by Relais & Chateaux hotels Africa, heading to Morocco.
After ILTM Cannes, I was invited to join a select group of travel agents, on a journey across Morocco by Relais & Chateaux Hotels and Restaurants. Taking us from Rabat to Fez, onwards to Marrakech along the Atlas Mountains and to the coastal town of Essaouira. But this is subject of my next blog post. In the meantime, I invite you to visit me on Instagram, to see all my minute-to-minute posts and experiences on Morocco by Relais & Chateaux.
After my full week exploring Morocco, posts I will share with you all soon, was time to fly back home from Marrakech to New York with a overnight stop, once again, in Madrid, Spain. It is always a good time to visit Madrid. So by 5PM I was landing in Barajas, ready for a lovely evening in the city.
This time I chose the charming Hotel Orfila by Relais & Chateaux for my brief overnight stay in Madrid. A 19th century small palace, located in a quite exclusive residential area in the cultural and business centre of Madrid. The building was built in 1885 as the private residence of an aristocratic family. Early in the 20th century its garden was famed in Madrid for the plays that were staged there. It was restored in the 1990s to make it a luxury hotel. Throughout the process efforts were made to conserve the spirit of the building, recovering period furniture, high ceilings, balconies, bay windows and sloped ceilings, while at the same time furnishing it with 21st century facilities. I was hosted at a Superior Room with a king size bed with a view of the garden and whirlpool tub, with an area of 35 to 38 sq. m.
After Check IN and fleshing up, I joined the Director of Sales on a quick drink at their lovely and intimate bar, followed by a brief tour of the property. And off I went to do my last walk around of Madrid.
I love just taking walks without knowing where am I going, and letting the city unfold its secrets as I walk along. This is how I ended up finding this lovely restaurant you can see below.
Embassy Restaurant, is a famed local tea room located in the Paseo de la Castellana Avenue. Today it is local refined restaurant, tea room and bakery. The place is famous for being a cover for international espionage during World War II. As I walked in, the crowd was mainly coiffed old local ladies and their husbands enjoying high tea. But as the evening progressed, it transformed into a charming and interesting gourmet experience. Love discovering new places.
In room – EARLY morning – breakfast…. of course, I would never miss a meal ha ha ha …. Time to check out Hotel Orfila and head back to Barajas International Airport.
My next 8 hours went by on American Airlines Business Class non-stop Madrid to New York. Hope you have enjoy my post and exciting eventful week curating the world of luxury travel attending ILTM Cannes 2016. For more tips and recommendations, check and follow me on Instagram, to see all my minute-to-minute past/current/future post and experiences on ILTM Cannes 2016. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com
(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone # 917.754.5515. Also check our scheduled Travel Groups. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of LGTNetwork, VIRTUOSO, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network. www.carlosmelia.com