Budget Travel recently alerted its readers to a new hotel tax in Italy – not for every city, but for some of the major ones. Like many countries around the world, Italy is feeling the economic pinch and is weathering these rough economic times by passing the buck onto tourists. What this means for travelers to Italy is that, in some cities, they can expect to pay between $1-$4 more per person per night than they paid last year at the same time. The majority of cities imposing these new taxes began charging them this spring and summer, but a couple, namely the Sorrento Coast and Capri, will not begin charging them until early next year.
One of the biggest blockbusters this summer is Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book of the same name has already set off a huge rush for ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ themed vacation packages in Bali, Italy and Mumbai.
The movie, all set for an Aug 13 launch, is taking the craze one step further with exquisitely designed hotel packages based on the movie and the book.
Four Seasons: Guests will literally follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Roberts (and even the movie’s cast and crew). The 4-night Bali, Pray, Love package includes 2 nights by the ocean at the Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay and 2 nights in the green valley of the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan.
You get a personal consultation and home visit with Ketut Liyer, the same medicine man who Liz Gilbert and Julia Roberts actually visited to see what the future holds. The package also includes a Balinese cooking class and a 90-minute couple’s massage. And a guide to the top ten most romantic experiences in Bali prepared by the hotel’s Love Concierge.
Townhouse Hotels has a new kind of hotel in Milan, Italy – The Town@House Street, which has rooms (PHS – Permanent Hospitality Spaces) and a website and nothing else. No lobby or reception, stairs, corridors, lifts, nothing… Not even keys.
Each PHS is a street-facing shop on Via Goldoni which has been refurbished and converted into a hotel suite complete with bed, bath and kitchenette.
Each PHS has its own access straight in from the street. Instead of keys, you get a 6-digit number along with your booking confirmation, which serves as the access code for the electronic number lock for your PHS suite.
In addition to the fully-equipped kitchenette, other amenities include complimentary wifi, flat-screen TV, audio sound system, your own private phone line, writing desk, in-room safe and hairdryer.
You have a grand choice of 4 color-themed PHS suites – green, orange, yellow and red. Check-ins and any assistance you need will be provided at the Town House 31 Hotel just around the corner from the PHS units.
The Town@House Street Hotel in Milan is a pilot project, conceived by Alessandro Rosso and designed by architect Simone Micheli, which was launched a couple of months back. If it works out well, they plan to expand to over 1000 PHS units – including in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, and Washington.
Photo courtesy Townhouse Hotels
Info: Via Castel Morrone, 7 – 20129 Milano, Italy; 0039 02 91437635; www.townhousestreet.com/
Hollywood mad-hatter Tim Burton has resurrected a 19-yr old Alice in his new film Alice in Wonderland (starring Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp) which follows Alice as she returns to the magical world of her childhood.
After watching the film, should you or your children long for a wonderland of your own, here’s a few Alice in Wonderland themed hotels and hotel suites.
Hotel Le Seven, Paris, France - This particular Alice in Wonderland suite, alas, won’t be available until later this year, but you can make reservations right away.
When it does become available, you will be able to enter a subtly recreated universe of Alice with clocks, lit panels and screens.
The walls and screens offer an atmosphere of clouds or forest which you can change. To make you think you’re actually in Alice’s wonderland, pleasant smells are added into the mixture as you flip the switch to change the atmosphere.
The Evesham Hotel, Evesham, UK - The eccentricity of the owner is fully represented in the quirkiness of The Evesham, with the wacky toilets, themed rooms, guests forced to carry around teddy bears that are attached to the room keys, and a wine list where French and German wines are banned.
In addition to the Alice in Wonderland Suite which comes complete with its own tea party setup, there are also other themed suites like the Apologies to Gaudi suite, in honor of the Spanish architect whose buildings are now landmarks in Barcelona.
Maison Moschino, Milan, Italy - The common thread connecting the designer rooms at this hotel is a fairy tale theme.
Maison Moschino’s creators explain that ”because to sleep is perchance to dream, and dreams are fairy tales that we are allowed to experience first hand, the fables of a fantasy world that we have created.”
This Alice in Wonderland junior suite at the Maison Moschino with its giant teacup table is made just right for a Wonderland tea party.
The Disney Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where you can drop in on an afternoon tea party hosted at the 1900 Park Fare restaurant by your favorite Disney Characters from Alice in Wonderland.
The Delano Hotel in South Beach Beach, Miami, whose Alice in Wonderland themed oversize furnishings are quite famous.
Photo credits:- Hotel Le Seven – Hotel Seven; Maison Moschino – Mobygest