The Maria Christina is a landmark property set one block from the old city and one block from the beach so the location could not be better. A large luxury hotel traditionally styled with all the big hotel amenities that you would require such as concierge desk, valet parking, small gym, good internet service. The rooms are typical European traditional décor and the bathrooms are large and well appointed with great products. Our room had the largest king size bed I have ever seen and a nice view overlooking the town and a large courtyard.Since San Sebastian Spain is a large “foody” destination having the concierge desk to help with reservations and dining ideas was a big plus. (Read my separate entry on San Sebastian for more details on dinning and things to do). We ate breakfasts only at the hotel and the service, food quality and venue were all excellent. Maria Christina is the” go to” hotel for luxury travelers to San Sebastian and certainly deserving of their strong reputation. SPAIN
The opening of Borgo Egnazia in 2012 has put the region of Puglia on the map. Puglia makes up the area that is considered the heel of the boot.Borgo Egnazia is a large five star luxury resort located in a small town called Silvestrano about one hour south of Bari. The property was built from the ground up. The buildings are made of local stone and the resort was designed and built to mimic a typical village in Puglia. Borgo means “village” in Italian and the resort appears to be a village. The décor is very Moorish with tones of whites and creams throughout the common areas and guest rooms. The property has both rooms, suites and large villas with their own private pools if you are traveling with your family or a group. As a result of being recently built, everything is new and modern. The rooms all have outdoor seating, comfortable beds, large modern bathrooms and impressive amount of closet and storage space. Beddings, toiletries and shower pressure (you know, the basics) were to a very high standard.What to do?There are many reasons to go to Puglia…...the beaches and beach clubs, the tomatoes, the friendly people, the grilled fish, the history, the weather, the wine, the architecture I could go on and on.The property itself is large, complete with two beach clubs, a golf course, gym, spa, three pools, fantastic kids club, four restaurants and a few bars. If you don’t want to leave the property you would want for little however the area has so much to offer.Each guest is assigned an “experience manager” which is basically your own concierge. The hotel has a myriad of “extra-curricular” activities, both complimentary and paid and both on and off the property. From cooking classes to Pomodoro Festivals to biking in the olive groves to exploring local villages and UNESCO sites by Segway. You can chose to keep yourself very busy or chose to just relax at the beach or pool. The property is a great fit for both families and couples.If you are a family, there are a number of reasons your kids will love this place….the kids club has a massive staff/kid ratio so if a kid was not playing with another kid someone was playing with your kid. They had a diversity of activities every day and my 9 year old son could not have been happier. The counselors and organization in the kids club could not have been better. The resort is large (requiring golf cart shuttle) and the staff went out of their way to coordinate bringing our son to us at the beach club toward the end of the day, saving us the 10 or 15 minute shuttle back and forth to retrieve him. The property has a unique bicycle rental shop with 4 wheel go carts that the kids explore the resort. Great idea.There are three common pools, two adult pools and one family pool. In addition, the villas also have their own private pools. All of them offer food and beverage service and are surrounded by ultra-plush padded sun loungers, something one might appreciate when spending most of the day lounging by pool or beach reading a book. The hotel offers two beach clubs, one is a rocky, very hip club like scene with a substantial restaurant attached. The other beach club is a sandy beach with a more Zen like setting and a modest but very good food and drink service. They are each a short shuttle from the main entrance to the property.This is a great destination for couples, a large group and certainly for families with kids. Service is exceptional and room quality and dinning would impress the most demanding traveler.I would rarely write about an individual staff member but we were impressed with Sabina who is the head experience manager at the Borgo. I joked with her that there must have been a few clones of her running around with a smile as she keeps all the balls in the air. The staff was super attentive with a concierge assigned to help us with anything on the property or off the property. So which beach club, restaurant or nearby town to visit was driven by great local advice and local contacts.
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You know the saying “When in Rome”Well…… “When in Rome stay at the Eden”.My family had the pleasure of a two night stay at the Hotel Eden, which has recently re-opened after a multi-year facelift. Rome is a city that you are likely to spend a good part of your day walking and for that reason choose your location carefully so that every step has you taking in the sights you want to see. The Hotel Eden is perched just behind the Trinità dei Monti , the church locate at the top of the Spanish Steps. From our perspective the location could not have been better as the hotel is on a quiet residential street, yet in the heart of everything. Additionally, the majestic view from their sixth floor restaurants and bars is probably one of the best in Rome…..the entire city is laid out before you.Service was second to none at the Eden. From check in to check out they anticipated our needs and answered all our silly tourist questions with great detail. The hotel has undergone a complete overhaul. It has been brought up to modern standards and décor yet keeping its historical elegance. The room was fantastic with great space and all the amenities. Being up to date on the technology front is definitely a benefit of being newly opened.Both the bar and restaurants are perched on the 6th floor with spellbinding views. Even if you don’t the opportunity to stay here take the initiative to go for a drink or a meal at their top rated restaurant, La Terrazza. In addition to the great view - the food is excellent.I really can’t think of anything that the staff could have done to improve our stay. The room, the food, the service and the location all contributed to a five star experience.