IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Tag: Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon Review

After World War II, Portuguese Prime Minister Salazar established a prestigious hotel in Lisbon and appointed Queiroz Pereira to direct the luxury project, dedicated to promoting and preserving Portuguese art and culture. The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon’s classic, mid-century Modernist structure — enhanced by more than 400,000 square feet of rare marble — achieved that vision.

French interior designer Henri Samuel created a sense of place by mixing straight-legged Louis XVI style with Art Deco pizazz and showcasing art from a cadre of local luminaries, including the notable Portuguese artist José Almada Negreiros. In 1956, Almada was commissioned to make a trilogy of handmade Centauros tapestries — the eye-catching backdrop of the lobby lounge named for the artist.

Since 1997, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts managed the property, where park-facing rooms and the Varanda Restaurant overlook the lush Edward VII park.

© Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

VARANDA RESTAURANT © FOUR SEASONS HOTEL RITZ LISBON

I had lunch there on my first visit to Lisbon in November 2016. Even before I learned about Executive Chef Pascal Meynard’s gastro-local policy, it was evident Portuguese produce and products, including sea salt and olive oil, accessorized the dishes. I became an immediate fan of his simple, elegant fare and couldn’t wait to return for dinner in May.

Before dinner, I enjoyed Perrier Jouet served in a slim, engraved Champagne glass and enjoyed the posh, timeless setting, with its zebra-striped and studded leather chairs, mahogany bookcases and window walls leading to the terrace.

Brito, the maître d’, welcomed me to the Varanda — a traditional room with coffered ceilings, huge chandeliers, and amazing floral displays. I chose the four-course Signature Menu, which included eight choices, during which Sommelier Gabriela Marques chose wines, including prominent local samples and Port from the hotel’s 300-bottle selection.

Dinner began with an inspired two-bite snack, which arrived on a wooden plank; an amuse-bouche of a delectable raw clam on a half-shell atop a bed of sea salt; and a bread course with chorizo butter and herbed lemon butter. An artfully presented prawn centered a plate accompanied by white asparagus, crispy tomato bits and a pesto drizzle. Foie gras and black truffle sauce topped the Irish beef a la ficelleentrée, and the pre-dessert, dessert and après-dessert mignardises were handcrafted by Chef Patissier Fabian Nguyen.

I also experienced an exceptional facial in the subterranean spa, which boasts a light-filled indoor pool and access to an outdoor terrace and park views.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon offers a variety of special services, including a popular Sunday brunch, a tea inspired by Almada, a street art tour and a day-long excursion to Sintra, which sits atop a pine-studded hillside.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Rodrigo da Fonseca 88
1099-039
Lisboa, Portugal
tel 351 21 381 1400

 

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Global Traveler

Spectacular Saint Petersburg

Home to fabled art collections, architecture, food and culture

In Saint Petersburg, from the moment the white nights arrive in late spring, crowds FA_March15__0002_stpetersburggather along the canals fronting 18th century pastel palaces to watch ships passing through open bridges. This goes on until 5am. The enchanting 80-day period from late May through July sees twilight linger long past midnight and allows the throngs at the Neva River to marvel at the reflections of pink, peach and lavender clouds. It’s a wonderful time to visit the city. On one riverbank, the golden spires of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul appear in duplicate, as if to underscore the importance of the site where Peter the Great, three Alexanders, Czar Nicholas, Czarina Alexandra and their children are all buried. On the opposite bank, the gold-plated dome of the 19th century St. Isaac’s Cathedral—the largest Russian Orthodox basilica in the city and the most ornate—looms behind the equestrian statue of Peter the Great, the Bronze Horseman. Catherine the Great’s memorial to her predecessor is an imposing sculpture that dominates the riverside park in Senate Square and attracts locals, tourists and entrepreneurs hawking cruise barge tickets.

MI_March15__0007_stpetersburgSt. Petersburg is one of those world destinations where architecture, art and history trump politics and forever lure visitors, including my friend and me, for its bewitching blend of classic culture and modern innovation. At the Four Seasons Lion Palace the concierge gave us walking directions to nearby sites: The State Hermitage Museum, the canal cruise, the hydrofoil to Peterhof Palace (Peter the Great’s waterfront summer palace with extravagant fountains and gorgeous gardens) and the hop-on/hop-off tour bus. The bell captain instructed a series of taxi drivers, who appeared on successive days, where to take us and when to pick us up, and even helped us broker a full-day trip to MI_March15__0005_stpetersburgCatherine Palace— Catherine I’s dazzling, pastel blue and gold, Rococo summer home in Pushkin. Like many visitors to St. Petersburg, we longed to take in the vast collection of 19th and 20th century European paintings at the Hermitage—one of the world’s greatest art museums. Canvases by Cézanne, Derain, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, Vlaminck—and my favorite, Matisse—are housed in the Baroquestyle, green and white Winter Palace, the former residence of the tsars.

Between 1895 and 1914, two prominent Russian collectors, Ivan Morozov and Sergei Shchukin, amassed huge collections for their private museums. Shchukin, a pre-Soviet businessman, individually collected 258 paintings for his palatial Moscow home. His holdings included Monets, Renoirs, Cézannes, Van Goghs, Gauguins and an astounding 50 Picassos. After the Revolution in 1918, comrades Morozov and Shchukin “donated” their collections to the people. The paintings were put on display until 1948 when the works were declared counter-revolutionary and locked away for decades. Many artists and art appreciators risked their lives and their freedom to preserve the masterpieces until it was safe to once again put them on display. Today, the Hermitage—still full of opulent rooms and a stunning marble staircase—is a fi tting shrine to the dedication of those preservationists. And although the black-clad guards—many of them elderly women—don’t speak much English, they are clearly earnest in their desire to safeguard their cultural icons from visitors’ fingerprints. Speaking of cultural bastions, few things compare to ballet on the historic Mariinsky stage. We purchased tickets (online) for Les Sylphides, entered the pale green neoclassic theater and took our red velvet seats adjacent to the Tsar’s Box. Around us the men were dressed in elegant black tie garb and gowned women balanced atop towering five-inch heels. Staring at the architecture during intermission rivaled the extravagance of the performance itself.

 

 

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Author: Irvina Lew
Irvina Lew is an author and freelance contributor to guidebooks, magazines and websites who shares intriguing stories about the world’s best destinations including hotels, restaurants, spas, cruises and safaris.

The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche


The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche sits in the middle of a vast hillside studded with oak and Mediterranean pine on property formerly owned by Sean Connery. Just an hour from Nice/Côte d’Azur airport the two-story, stand alone, 34,446-square-foot spa facility overlooks the resort’s golf course. Guests entering the art-filled lobby view a vaulted ceiling atop a 70-foot, indoor lap pool situated adjacent to an indoor dry-heat room called a laconeum. Upstairs, there are his and hers locker rooms and twelve treatment rooms with showers, hydraulic beds and heated blankets. Of the four private terraces, two are couples suites with double whirlpool baths, steam showers and private outdoor cabanas. Osteopath Jean Jacques Rivet—who created BiomecaSwing—designed the newest rebalancing and posture treatment (195 euros for 80 minutes) to help get the body in shape. Best, chef Philippe Jourdin serves Mediterranean inspired cuisine minceur (spa cuisine). It’s a delicious, authentic and healthful Provençal menu.
www.fourseasons.com/provence
By Irvina Lew
FranceGuide.com

Budapest: Twin Cities Combine To Make A Unique Europe City

Architectural gems—a medieval castle, a domed basilica, a soaring Gothic church, plus glorious Belle Epoque, Art Deco and Bauhaus buildings—are Budapest’s calling card. Read Full Article
By Irvina Lew
Travel Agent Central

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