By Betsy Goldberg
Senior Manager, Corporate Communications
Fascinating Spain blends a rich heritage with contemporary twists on history. This mix is particularly evident when visiting the country’s Virtuoso properties. I toured five network hotels during a recent educational sponsored by Virtuoso On-Site Valesa Cultural Services and two Virtuoso tourism board partners, the Tourist Office of Spain and Heritage Cities of Spain.
We began at the grande dame of Madrid hotels: the Ritz. This 101-year-old señora is famed for her elegant interior resplendent with historic treasures, the impeccable service and the Sunday brunch buffet. Here we found a mix of tradition and modernity, as favorite Spain standbys such as paella and the ubiquitous ham shared tables with international favorites such as carpaccio (no less than three different types), quesadillas and sushi.
The InterContinental Madrid offers an equally impressive Sunday brunch buffet in equally impressive surroundings. Included are everything from non-traditional whole lobsters to dim sum to chocolate mousse – and, yes, traditional paella and ham. We stopped eating long enough to tour the hotel, and were blown away by the 4,000-square-foot modern Royal Suite, which has housed such luminaries as Paris Hilton, Joe Biden and Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch.
More oohs and ahs followed as we visited the newly redecorated AC Santo Mauro Hotel in Madrid. The hotel’s elegant late nineteenth-century building was the residence of the influential Duke of Santo Mauro. Its decor playfully blends history with hipness. We admired the public rooms, including the gorgeous Chinese and Red Lounges, and craved a sip of something delicious in the clubby Chivas Lounge.
How many hotels have such a storied history that they have their own on-location museum? The Westin Palace Madrid, which turns 100 next year, does. Giants of the arts world, including Hemingway and Dali, frequented the bar. More recent celebrity guests include Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson and Henry Kissinger. We dined under the hotel’s spectacular stained-glass dome after touring the spacious rooms decorated in a contemporary style.
You’ll feel like a celebrity when concierge Joey Sendra escorts you around the cutting-edge Hospes Palacio del Bailio in Córdoba. You’ll see patios, gardens, murals from the 1700s and the stunning lounge-library, where guests have been known to doze off in the comfortable surroundings. The hotel, declared a historic monument in 1982, was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. But the site has been inhabited for much longer. We were given a midnight tour of the Roman ruins under the hotel – accessible only to Virtuoso guests.
All of these trips in fascinating Spain and more can be hand-tailored to suit your needs with the help of a Virtuoso travel advisor. Don’t have a travel advisor? Click here to find one.