Go back to the enewsletter As a floating particip

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterAs a floating participant at the 2016 Virtuoso Travel Week, I was able to see a bit of everything.  Here are some highlights, from one person’s point of view, keeping in mind there were 5257 other points of view, too, for that is the amazing number of delegates there officially this year.My personal highlights are always when the prearranged meetings actually work, although admittedly my breakfast with Oetker Collection’s Frank Marrenbach got off to a slow start as he was on one side of the casino and I the other.It is divine to have the run of the main floor of Bellagio, the main host resort which is complemented by Adria and Vdara, early morning before hordes of tourists, and not quite so many gamers, arrive. Bellagio thoughtfully opens its magnificent gym earlier than usual, and at 5am there were always a couple of dozen of us die-hards making use of this workout time – I must admit there was only one hotelier there consistently, Heinrich Morio, now MD of Soneva.Monday’s Destinations Dinner and Wednesday’s Hotels Dinner, which celebrate the ‘Best of the Best’, are always firmly scheduled in my diary. At both evenings, relevant parties and those hoping to win take tables for eight up to about 14, and in some cases decorate them to Christmas-window standards. At the Destinations Dinner, it is mostly tourist boards hosting tables. Top winners are always announced to raucous applause.To view the winners, click here.As always, Matthew and Jessica Upchurch invite close friends to be on their tables and I was really lucky to be seated next to Ted Turner’s daughter, Laura Turner Seydel, and her husband, Rutherford Seydel II, who are custodians of the CNN founder’s two million acres of ranch land that he owns in Argentina and the USA, where he is the second-largest landowner after the US Government.On Wednesday, it is the turn of hotels and this year, main sponsor Park Hyatt provided a guard of honour of at least 40 hoteliers, clapping and smiling, as the 2000-plus dinner guests arrived. Winners here included Best Design, Faena Hotel Miami Beach; Best Culinary Experience, The Farmhouse Inn in California; Best Bar, New York EDITION’s Gold Bar; Best Family Programme, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende; Best Spa, Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como. Most Innovative Guest Experience went to Belmond Hotel das Cataratas at Foz do Iguaçcu, Sustainable Tourism Leader was andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, and One to Watch was the currently-closed Hotel Eden Rome. Hotel of the year was Borgo Egnazia in Savelletri and, finally, the award everyone awaited with bated breath, Hotelier of the Year, José Silva, Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris.This being the 10th Best of the Best awards, Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Global Product Partnerships,  Albert Herrera, who organises both dinners, of course goes even more over the top than usual. He finishes the Wednesday dinner with all 10 Hoteliers of the Year on stage, clad in varying garments in black and white. It was a brilliant end.There were also over 750 much smaller events, taking part at any moment that was not taken up with the official curriculum. How the travel advisors manage I have no idea. Doyenne Valerie Wilson seemed to be at every party – certainly all the ones I went to. My favourites are the FRHI Monday breakfast, poolside at 7.15am (and yes, Valerie was there). For evenings, I love InterContinental’s stylish cocktail, hosted by GG Greenwood in a Spa Suite, and the more intimate cocktail hosted jointly by three individual hotels, Honolulu’s Halekulani, London’s The Corinthia and, from Washington DC, The Jefferson. And no one who is invited should pass on ILTM outdoor jam session, which many thought was once again dress-in-white but someone had changed it to dress-Caribbean, but who cares. Valerie did not, and she looked immaculate, as ever.Mary Gostelow writes the monthly Gostelow Report market intelligence newsletter, a weekly column for HOTELS and the daily www.girlahead.com travelogue.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img

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