Tag Archives: luxury

On Tour – Traveller Made Is In Love With Berlin

A staggering 172 billion euros was spent on international luxury travel last year and Berlin ranks amongst the most popular travel destinations for high-price trips in Europe. To further promote Berlin’s luxury segment for the rich and famous, the city’s most prestigious hotels and visitBerlin have invited travel designers from Traveller Made to an exclusive trip to Berlin. The trip has one aim and one aim only: to display that Berlin has grown up and now offers an extravagant lifestyle scene to those who seek it.

Naturally there’s only one address when it comes to finding the best tours available for money: Berlinagenten. We were entrusted with the daily program for the 12 visitors and we’ll tell you this much already: Berlin was ranked 10 out of 10 points.

After throwing a classy champagne reception, we guided the travel agents around the city. From a private visit to the Platoon Art Hall and Berlin’s classical sights like Potsdamer Platz and Hackescher Market, to supper at the super tasty Studio by Tim Raue, no rock was left unturned. On Teufelsberg – Berlin’s highest hill – we did a graffiti tour and an on-the-spot graffiti workshop for all group members. What could be more exclusive than spraying on the walls of an old CIA listening station that’s shut down to public?!

After some of the darkest secrets of the Cold War were unravelled (if we told you, we’d have to kill you), we showcased Berlin’s upcoming high-end cuisine. While Berlin’s luxurious hotel and jetset scene is only slowly catching up with its European rivals, the quality of Berlin’s food scene has skyrocketed in the past years. Hence our super tasty gourmet tour through Berlin’s finest restaurants was a real mind-blower. The extraordinary french cuisine at Le Faubourg, the trendy Spindler restaurant by the Spree, the famous Sage restaurant and of course, Berlin’s new Asian star Zen Kichi were the perfect addresses to display Berlin’s new love for luxury.

The glamour wouldn’t run out until the early morning, when our now tired but happy travel agents were driven back to their respective 5 star hotels from the celeb-studded Pearl Club. The best VIP section and an endless supply of champagne bottles had our heads slightly spinning. The 10/10 ranking has proven that Berlin is ready for more high-end travellers, and we’re the perfect haven for top notch private tours through the city. We’re ready for more!

 

The Scene meets Berlin’s Wild West – Hotel Zoo

An elegant jade green carpet depicting fearsome leopards leads the way past the floating reception into the holy halls of the newly reopened Hotel Zoo in West Berlin. After finding our way inside we soon realized our wildest hopes would not come true: no playful tigers, no friendly lions, not even baby leopards to pet, except for the ones decorating the carpet. Shame. A friendly receptionist soon made us forget about the lack of baby leopards by enlightening us about the establishment’s remarkable history. 

First opened in 1911, it was designed by Alfred Messel, one of the most well-known German architects of his time. The hotel became a huge success in the roaring twenties and fortunately remained largely untouched by the mayhem World War II brought. It became the official VIP Hotel for the Berlinale from 1950 to 1970, drawing the rich and famous to its halls like no other hotel. Romy Schneider, Grace Kelly, Hildegard Knef and Sophia Loren were regulars to the hotel – to name just a few.

After the fall of the Wall in 1989 though, the memory of the hotel’s glamorous past slowly started to fade. Things needed to change if Hotel Zoo was still aiming to be an unique accomodation amongst the many luxurious Hotels Berlin has to offer. These pas   t two years, the building’s interior was stripped down to its core. American star designer Dayna Lee and her design studio Powerstrip Studios entered the jungle of reconstruction and gave the hotel a beautiful new look, inside and outside, bearing in the mind the hotel’s history. 

Upon entering the living room right next to the reception, we found ourselves in an airy lobby with custom made leather couches and armchairs, surrounded by large floor-level industrial windows and an open fireplace, creating a somewhat pretentious yet very cozy atmosphere. This atmosphere is gracefully captured throughout the hotel. Even though their 145 rooms are all different from each other in size and character, the underlying pleasant atmosphere will accompany you no matter where you’re headed. All in all Dayna Lee’s take on the interior design is pretty awesome: She managed to infuse the place with a modern touch, all the whilepaying respect to the hotel’s glamorous past. A true artist!

The Grace Bar and the Grace Restaurant were designed by the same makers that brought us the trendy Avenue Club, so expect great parties that are guaranteed to attract a hip crowd. BUT – the bar will has a strict door policy so dress up, folks! The restaurant opens in January and since the hotel’s opening party already felt insane, we’re really looking forward to this one! A little highlight on the side: When you use the elevator to get to the upper levels, you’ll find yourself confronted by a wall of paparrazis. They’re depicted on the elevator’s walls and will start flashing once you start driving upwards, just in case you never get to be on the red carpet yourself.

When leaving the hotel we noticed something funny… a huge door (at least 7 meters in height) with an even bigger door handle (at least anaconda sized) was waiting to be opened in the living room but… it wouldn’t. A loud RAAAWWWRRRR came from the other side. Either Henrik hasn’t been fed for a while or that’s where they keep their feline predators. Meow. For your next Berlin visit, you should definitely consider staying at this top notch hotel, it’s worth every purr! 

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Global destination: Yangon, Burma

If there’s one place that you simply must visit before its on everybody radar, it is Yangon (once known as Mynamar), the capital of Burma. Romantic, historic and now peaceful, Yangon is the top emerging Asian destination of the moment. Once upon a time it was known as the Pearl of South East Asia but after decades of turmoil, the country was closed to the West.  Now it’s reclaiming its crown. Still, the lack of tourists is palatable, you really feel as if you’re one of the first people to visit and discover the incredible number of colonial buildings and fairy tale Buddhist shrines, such as the Shwedagon Pagoda, whose golden spire dominates the skyline.

After seeing how mass cheap tourism affected their neighbouring counties, Yangon has very much targeted high-end travellers. We stayed in three five stars hotel to check out the range on offer. First off, we visited Governors Residence, part of the Orient Express group. Next, we moved to Hotel Strand, built by the Sarkie Brothers hotels in 1901, during the same period they were redefining luxury hotels with Raffles in Singapore and The Oriental in Penang. Finally, it was onto the first big five star hotel of Yangon Shangri La.

For all the beauty and luxury, what we will remember will be the abundant, high quality food. A sophisticated, highly original food culture exists incorporating British, Indian, Chinese, and Thai to make a fresh Burmese mix. Whether that’s buying from hawkers selling a fragrant noodle soup called Thoke for 50c at the food markets, or at the top end colonial era restaurants such as Monsoon Myanmar, or, the recently-opened luxurious Water Library in a colonial mansion. Other favourites include the hotspots for expats Union Restaurant or Le Planteur. Meanwhile, a perfect example of where Yangon is heading is the Bar Boon Dutch Deli and Expresso Bar, which expresses the cool trendy European deli á la NY style.

Top tip: Make a difference while you shop at the Helping Hands Loft Fashion & Accessories

This fair trade shop that opened in early 2012 and carries a variety of accessories, gifts and fashion whose proceeds directly benefit Myanmar artisans whose work supports local initiatives such as healthcare, housing and education. 85-87 Thinbyu Road