‘LIVING THE DREAM.’ I offer this as the motto for the Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino, for it is one of the best run, most relaxing hotels in the world. And the wizard who makes the dream come true is one of the world’s great hotel managers, Mr Ermes de Megni (photographed with your correspondent). When he is not away collecting awards and titles for his establishment – ‘Best Hotel in the World’, and so on – Mr de Megni is always about, ensuring that the highest standards are maintained. If there is ever a slight hiccup in the service – and such a thing is astonishingly rare in this manicured corner of Paradise – he will know all about it, and it will be rectified. His principle is the one which should guide every luxury hotel: when you are striving for perfection, only the best will do.
If you are looking for really good food in St Tropez, served in a friendly and informal atmosphere and with some fine wines on offer, I think I have the place for you. It is within that famous centre of chic, the Byblos Hotel, and it has attached to it the name of the great Alain Ducasse (who is the consultant chef). Before I entered its doors, therefore, I already knew that not only would it be a place of style and panache, but also that the cuisine would be based on top class ingredients and sound culinary technique and would appear in healthy portions. And my expectations were fulfilled precisely. The Rivea Restaurant is excellent.
Art and music make The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni very special. Like many other luxury hotels, it offers comfort, good service and enjoyable food and drink. And, of course, it enjoys a wonderful location on Lake Como. But I suspect it is its commitment to the Higher Things which means that I keep meeting here good folk who have been returning year after year. These pleasant encounters are most likely to take place in the sitting room after dinner, when the beautiful setting and the music of the trio (violin, double-bass and piano) create what is surely one of the most civilised atmospheres to be found in any grand hotel in Europe. I congratulate Manager Antonio Calzolaro (pictured, with your correspondent) for his determination to maintain this lovely post-prandial tradition. It is one of the joys of Lake Como.
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