The Ritz Paris

FROM PARIS: Cool and crisp winter days in Paris, who can complain about a working visit to the City of Light? A few years since my last stay, the cobblestone streets are familiar, the gorgeous architecture and skyline never change; unlike New York or San Francisco, and now even London, where glassy green high rise buildings compete with each other for a sliver of space. Baron Haussmann, the supreme civic planner under Napoleon, ravaged and rebuilt Paris for years perfecting the wide avenues, planting thousands of trees, creating an unrivaled beautiful city. The exchange rate has bounced dramatically, but for all the glamour, elegance, divine restaurants, marvelous museums, what other city compares with Paris?

Ultimately, what matters the most, is what you do once you reach your destination.

And with the recent refurbishing and reopening of Ritz Paris, I was thrilled to visit and enjoy the posh elegant Ritz once again. From the exterior, it is exactly the same, wonderful for those of us who like tradition and continuity. Hard to notice, but the entrance has been widened and is spanned with upper windows which floods airy light into the mezzanine and its now 18-foot high ceilings.

Although modern touches have been added, the historic classically elegant interiors pop with fresh pale spring accents with the original cream dominated color scheme. A good amount of the original classical Empire furniture and furnishings were refurbished, the massive crystal chandeliers sparkle, new mirror television technology has been added, touch pad to manage ac, lights, drapes, all at the stroke of a finger.

Coco Chanel Suite Ritz Paris

Coco Chanel Suite Ritz Paris

Of course, I was dying to see the newly redone suites including the Coco Chanel Suite. Original Imperial Suite and the Prestige Suites have been dedicated to former residents, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Maria Callas. I wasn’t disappointed with the Chanel suite; it is decorated in pale taupe with black accents, an elegant simplicity, just as we remember Ms. Chanel, who resided here from 1937-71. Imagine, the stories these walls could share. A guest book would list Marcel Proust, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, Ernest Hemingway, who claimed he liberated the hotel after the Second World War. Using the bar as a base, he did write here and make it a home, the bar was named after him in 1994; the famous Ritz barman, Colin Field, who is almost as well known as Hemingway, took it on to procure Hemingway’s original letters on Ritz letterhead to his then wife.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote in a letter to his friend, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.” We could all share the same sentiment.

Reducing the number of rooms allowed for larger bathrooms, keeping the gilded swan taps and the maid and valet call pulls near the tub. The Ritz claims they invented the massive gilt switch that turns off all suite lights, and that remains as a nod to the past.

The infamous gilded swan handles Ritz Paris

Tub Assistance- just in case you need your Maid or Valet! Ritz Paris

A few new additions, Salon Proust a beautiful room intended for afternoon tea or a guest library. Of course madelines de Proust are served as well as billberry tarts and other savories. The once lovely garden café has been topped with an arched glass roof, providing a comfy light filled place for afternoon tea and lunch. The garden has been expanded just off the café and it resembles a small Ritz park, more than two dozen linden trees, personally these trees remind me most of Parisian streets. In summer the garden flourishes with beds of blooming white roses and walls of climbing ivy.

Salon Proust Ritz Paris

Chanel Spa Ritz Paris

Chanel Spa Ritz Paris

Also new is the stunning Chanel Spa – Oh my, it is the perfect embodiment of Chanel. Classic, clean lines punctuated by dramatic pops of black glass.

The Piscine retained the beautiful turquoise mosaic in a newly designed stunning Art Deco style, it is breathtaking and a oasis of calm.

Piscine Ritz Paris

My Sweet Suite Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

The Ritz was always known for mastering the fine art of luxury and the Grande Dame debut is very reassuring – everything has changed, but nothing has changed!



The Biltmore

Miami offers many hotel options, hip rocking beach resorts, city hotels with splendid pools and walking distance to new museums, and a charming historic property.

The Biltmore Pool

Ladies Who Swim The Biltmore

The Biltmore in Coral Gables has been a legend for many years; the copper clad Giralda Tower was faintly outlined in the dusky twilight when I arrived. Inside the lobby, I was awestruck by the hand painted frescoes on the gorgeous barrel vaulted ceilings, soaring marble columns, leaded glass windows, and fine furnishings. The Mediterranean exterior sprawls over several acres and includes a 23,000 square foot pool with a polished marble surface, a noted golf course, and a professional cooking school and polo fields. Imagine in the day, thousands of local Sunday visitors who came to view synchronized swimmers and bathing beauties. The striking 85 foot high dive often featured the Fairbanks Sisters dive team. Prior to his Tarzan screen debut, Johnny Weissmuller was a Biltmore swimming instructor and broke world records at the pool.

In 1973, following intense lobbying by Coral Gables officials and city residents for The Biltmore’s acquisition, the City of Coral Gables was granted ownership of the hotel through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Parks Program. In 1983, the City initiated a full restoration of the Biltmore to its former glory as a grand hotel. Nearly four years and $55 million later, The Biltmore re-opened on December 31,1987 as a four-star hotel and resort. An additional $40 million and a ten-year restoration by its current management restored the Biltmore to its former glory.

Biltmore Lobby

Biltmore Lobby

This is a hotel which values Old World charm in a serene setting. Throughout the property, which despite its vast size, is an easy stroll as it is built in quad like areas of beautiful gardens, open air dining courtyards, fountains, hand painted tile work which represents the owners personal love of peacocks, balustrade balconies, really this property could be in Spain. With 273 rooms, the resort is a relaxing stop and a reminder of a grand life in the 1920’s. The Everglades suite is quite over the top, and its easy to understand why it was a favorite of Al Capone, royalty and presidents. At the height of luxury, the Everglades Suite is a one-of-a-kind two story suite that features hand painted ceilings depicting scenes from Florida’s Everglades. Accessed with a private key for utmost privacy, this suite offers 360 degree panoramic views of Coral Gables and further from the two balconies and the windows on the wrap-around second floor mezzanine. The spacious and well appointed living room and dining area are the perfect venue to listen to music played on the baby grand piano or watch shows on the 42” LCD TV.

Everglades Suite

Everglades Suite

The interior spaces of the hotel are filled with enormous black and white photographs of the former guests, scenes from a time when a gondolier rowed the guests to the sea through the canals. Honestly, the historic aspect and the museum quality memorabilia is a fabulous enticement as well.

Culinary academy. In February 2009, the Biltmore Hotel furthered its longstanding passion for gastronomy and commitment to excellence in the culinary arts by opening the Biltmore Culinary Academy. As the only hotel with a recreational cooking school operating in North America, the academy has a dedicated learning area and fully equipped professional kitchen offering a variety of classes, workshops, team-building events, for both adults and children. Fun and educational, the Biltmore Culinary Academy is ideal for aspiring chefs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you love history and old world elegance, The Biltmore Coral Gables is the perfect hotel for your visit.