Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam – First Look

Last week we were treated to a sneak peek of the much anticipated Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam ahead of its opening next month. Having visited many months ago when the project was a building site I was excited to see the transformation within. And what a transformation it has been – the six canal-side town houses Waldorf Astoria have taken over have been impressively and sensitively morphed into a gorgeous boutique hotel. Aside from furniture encased in protective plastic covers much of the hotel looks ready for business. Already the staff welcoming us for our preview had things running like clockwork.

Waldorf Astoria have come up trumps with their choice of property – alongside Herengracht, one of the prettiest canals in town, the former town houses are steeped in history and offer gorgeous views from the huge windows – giving you the feeling that you really are in the heart of the city.

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Think beautiful stuccoed ceilings, light filled rooms, and lots of original details that have been uncovered in the renovation process.

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One of the Suites, the Backer Suite, has a stunning painted ceiling, evocative of Rembrandt and dating back to the seventeenth century. We saw the final stages of its painstaking restoration – it’s going to be a very special ceiling to sleep under.

There’s a tranquil garden behind the hotel, onto which the private club-like restaurant looks.

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A surprise is the sleek, modern spa, found in the depths of the hotel. With sauna, steam, sensory showers and a beautiful pool, it’s going to be an impressive cutting edge oasis amidst the historical property.

Large and light filled guest rooms are each individual due to the shape and characteristics of the buildings – even the entry level rooms are extremely spacious and super elegant.

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Love this suite which feels like your own private apartment on the canal.

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Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam opens in May 2014, joining Waldorf Astoria’s prestigious collection of hotels around the world.

We can’t wait to stay the night next time!

Visit www.waldorfastoria.com for more information.

A Sneak Peek Of Park Hyatt Vienna, Austria

Grifco were fortunate enough to recently visit Park Hyatt Vienna, which is scheduled to open on 1st June 2014, marking the first ever Hyatt hotel in Austria. Despite being partially hidden behind the construction during our preview of the hotel, the 100-year-old building is magnificent in appearance.

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Park Hyatt Vienna is located in Vienna’s new pedestrian Goldenes Quartier and on the Am Hof square; a central location minutes away from the important city sights surrounded by luxurious shops and fashion houses. The area is brilliant for business and leisure guests of Vienna. We put on our hard hats (safety first!), and had a look for ourselves around the making of Park Hyatt Vienna.

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We toured the hotel’s bar ‘Pearl,’ Ballroom, lobby, ‘Lounge’, Whisky and Cigar Lounge ‘Living Room, restaurant ‘The Bank’, the spacious Arany Spa, several different styled guestrooms and a gigantic penthouse equipped with an outdoor terrace. Although it was still very much under construction when we visited, it is clear to see that Park Hyatt Vienna is filled from top to toe with hints of Viennese culture, art, history and of course, Park Hyatt’s sense of intimate yet understated elegance. Here is a look at some of Park Hyatt Vienna’s gorgeous interiors, fabrics, carvings and materials integrated into the hotel’s design:

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We craned our necks to gaze up at the magnificent ceiling in the hotel’s Ballroom.

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Every detail in the hotel’s interior colouring, textiles and resources have been meticulously sourced to reflect the connection with Viennese culture.

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The building that Park Hyatt Vienna will occupy was formerly an Austrian Hungarian Monarcy Bank, which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The subtle historic design influences around the hotel, like this dramatic wooden embellishment, are truly remarkable.

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We were able to see some of the luxurious hotel fabrics being used…

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… along with lush metallic tiles, which will be present in the hotel’s spa.

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The Bank will be home to Park Hyatt Vienna’s all-day dining restaurant. It is a former cashier hall boasting an extraordinary sense of space. Check out the ceiling!

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The highly esteemed and passionate team at Park Hyatt Vienna let Grifco see the first glimpses of their incredibly glamorous staff uniforms, which looked as if they were right off the runway.

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Functional whilst highly fashionable, the hotel’s employee uniforms are designed by Magdalena Adriane and Nina Eiber from enVie heartwork.

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Whilst Park Hyatt Vienna is still making final alterations to the hotel and their employee uniforms before the grand opening, we are most impressed with what we have seen so far.

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Grifco are waiting with high anticipation for Park Hyatt Vienna to officially open on 1st June 2014! For further information in the meantime, please see vienna.park.hyatt.com

In Search Of Elephant

Before I arrived at Ngoma Safari Lodge, Brian, the fantastic Director of Operations for Africa Albida, told me about his last stay there, and how he had three lions for company on his terrace one night when he was in bed. Cue crouching by my window in the middle of the night just in case I caught a feline glimpse. No such luck for me, but then I was more excited about spotting another animal here in this corner of Botswana…ELEPHANT! And I was not disappointed!

The Camp

Perched up on the edge of a valley with amazing views of Chobe’s open plains teeming with wildlife, Ngoma has pride position. These shots are taken in the green season, when the ground is lush and the baby animals are out and about. In a few months, the picture below will be transformed by a huge lake that takes over this part of the Caprivi strip opposite the camp. Amazing to imagine!

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The 8 private suites here are a real treat – elegant, super spacious and beautifully designed they are open plan with one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in, facing windows all along the room and that incredible view.

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Outside you have your own private terrace with dining area, cooling sit pool facing the plains, sun loungers and outdoor rain shower. You even get your laundry done for no extra charge – really useful on safari when you’re dusty and hot.

It’s tempting to while away your stay on your terrace!

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There is a central lodge that looks like it has come straight off the pages of House & Garden, with lots of gorgeous little details. The lodge is open to the outdoors facing the plains, with a split level terrace surrounding a baobab tree and small pool for relaxation with a view. Curl up with a book in the library area or sample the cook’s amazing home-made mango ice cream at the dinner table.

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Breakfast is so delicious at Ngoma

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This is a wild camp – guests aren’t allowed to leave their rooms after dark without being accompanied by one of the team due to the wild game that roam the area. This is mainly to avoid guests surprising an elephant that could be standing quietly behind the undergrowth! John and Babs manage the camp beautifully and are fantastically knowledgeable and friendly hosts who ensure a very personal service to their guests.

Chobe

Ngoma sits in northern Botswana’s Chobe National Park, home to one of Africa’s largest concentrations of game and in particular elephant. It’s elephant central. And even in the green season I was rewarded with amazing sightings of hippo, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, impala, baboon, mongoose and more.

Having driven over the border from Victoria Falls, a two hour drive, we set out on a relaxing river safari along the Zambezi where we spotted hippo bobbing about, the most beautiful bird life, crocodiles, and my first glimpses of the elephant of Chobe. Sometime soon Ngoma are going to offer canoeing too and well as walking safaris.

After a picnic lunch in the bush, it was time to swap boat for trusty Land rover and explore the lesser visited areas of the National Park – couldn’t resist sharing a few snaps here…

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For more information visit www.africaalbidatourism.com

 

Waldorf Astoria Chicago – With Howard Harris

Filmed in Chicago, Rome, Berlin and Shanghai, the cinematic, documentary-style series of Unforgettable Stories features cultural tastemakers and notable figures who have played a role in shaping Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts’ unique and inspirational environments.

The Unforgettable Stories documentaries are hosted on the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts Facebook page and can be accessed through a custom built Facebook app unique to Unforgettable Stories at www.facebook.com/WaldorfAstoria.

We take a look at Waldorf Astoria Chicago, through the eyes of atelier Howard Harris, the artist behind the epic iron curtain sculpture in the Waldorf Astoria Chicago lobby.

Howard Harris, President and CEO of Rare Form Design Group, and Master of Metal & Glass talks about his Waldorf Astoria special feature wall – almost 20ft wide and 30ft tall.

Gina Deary comments on Chicago’s ‘amazing architectural history’ and about how they found a picture of a gate that was bound in Chicago, and felt that this was a great element to inject a little Chicago twist, giving the hotel a sense of place within the city.

Howard Harris discusses how the chandelier in the space in front of the wall piece is a wonderful complement – the chandelier is an art piece, the wall is an art piece, and both of these combine, juxtaposing elements of glass, metal and polished surfaces. Indeed, the transmittance of light in the fixture brings out sparkle in the wall piece, meaning that the sculptural wall is uniquely illuminated by that fixture with the two reflecting off of each other…

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Check it out here – Waldorf Astoria Chicago with Howard Harris

To find out more visit www.waldorfastoria.com

Grifco Chats Andaz Amsterdam And Design With Designer Marcel Wanders

Grifco recently had the pleasure to sit down with the world renowned Marcel Wanders, interior designer of the brand new Andaz Amsterdam, which will be opening later this month. We picked Marcel’s brain over coffee at Andaz Liverpool Street about his influences and inspirations designing Andaz Amsterdam while he was in town for London Design Festival.

Grifco: So Marcel, how did it feel to be designing in Amsterdam?

Marcel: It has been really exciting making an amazing hotel in my hometown. My neighbours are going to be there and will tell me if it’s not good, so it’s a challenge! It has been really wonderful for myself as a project. I love the culture and it’s great to be designing in Amsterdam.

Grifco: How do you think your sense of design is affiliated with the Andaz brand?

Marcel: For me, Andaz is a brand that combines a sophisticated lifestyle with high-level service. Andaz wants to be a local brand, so I wanted to make design references to Amsterdam, which an elegant and international clientele would appreciate.

Grifco: The New York Times has described you as the “Lady Gaga of the design world.” What does it feel like to be compared to her?

Marcel: I don’t think it’s that bad to be compared to Lady Gaga! She is different, talented, takes risks, and she’s not afraid to be passionate. Like her, I have important messages to convey. I am trying to do something so different within the world of design.

Grifco: One last questions Marcel, what can we expect from Andaz Amsterdam when we visit next month?

Marcel: Expect to be surprised-that’s all I’m going to tell you!

The 122 room Andaz Amsterdam is located on the site of the former Public Library on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht and is within close walking distance from the city’s major attractions. It has been designed to offer an inspiring local experience for international visitors and act as a key venue for those who live in the city and want to showcase their heritage and hospitality. Andaz Amsterdam is now accepting reservations for stays from 23 November 2012 onwards.

www.amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.hyatt.com/