If you are a traveler who always searches out the absolute best five-star properties – opting for boutique resorts over large ones and loves to dine at Michelin starred restaurants – then the Wanderlux Collection is for you!
The Wanderlux Collection is a hotel representation company that showcases independently owned, luxury properties all over the globe. And I had the honor of speaking with both Angelique and David Johns founders of Wanderlux Collection– and colleagues of mine – about some of the fabulous European properties they represent. The great thing about these properties? They are little different from what we normally encounter as they are off the beaten path – so to speak – thus making them ideal for social distancing. And remember – everything I am doing these days for my wonderful clients is with the new normal in mind.
That being said – put your face masks on – stand six feet apart and enjoy the presentation!
Background: Angelique and David and their company Wanderlux Collection – represents 5-star luxury resorts throughout Europe and the Maldives. As David quipped – he is known as the Executive Wanderer and he reports to the Chief Wanderer – Angelique. Now, these are inarguably some of best properties you will ever set foot in and are all considered boutique properties – which are smaller resorts. The largest they offer is 120 rooms while the smallest is just fifty rooms. And – as I pointed out in the intro– that means they are great for privacy and social distancing.
And here’s where you really benefit! I am part of Select Experiences and so is Wanderlux. Which for you means that if you book through me – I can get additional benefits for you – making you feel even more VIP than you already will by staying at one of these amazing properties!
Destinations and Properties: Wanderlux Collection currently consists of a dozen or so properties – with new properties added as they are vetted. Today we will be focusing on three of them – one in France, one in Portugal and the last one in Greece on the Island of Crete.
Maison Albar L’Imperator – Nimes, France: This magnificent property was original built in 1929. The Maison Albar family came along and proceeded to give it a multimillion-dollar facelift and reopened it in June 2019. Fun fact – there have been some very notable people who have stayed here over time including Ernest Hemmingway and Ava Gardner.
- Destination: Nimes is a just a three-hour train ride from Paris on the high-speed train – or as David jokes – just two splits of wine and you are there! There are actually two train stations in Nimes– one in heart of city and just a short twenty-minute walk to property and another brand-new station which is a twenty-minute drive away.
- Amenities, Accommodations and More: The property has two pools – one indoor and one outdoor along with a spa offering facials and other treatments. David also pointed out that off of the lobby there is an original working lift (i.e. – elevator) from 1929 that is amazing when you think about its history alone. The rooms all have nice clean lines and are taken care of daily. One of the things David noted is that every property in their collection has to be approved by Angelique before they will rep it – and cleanliness is at the top of the list for her before they actually bring them on. There are 53 rooms in the main hotel and eight private houses or maisons – which means homes in French. All of the maisons have their own terrace overlooking a beautiful courtyard and all of them are named after someone famous who stayed there. One great advantage here is if you are a multi-generational family or a group of friends traveling together – you can go from one bedroom to four bedrooms by putting them together and increasing the space from 700 square feet to 1700 square feet!
- Gastronomy: L’Imperator is home to 3-star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire whose fabulous fare is actually available in not only the gourmet restaurant – but also in the cocktail bar and the sunny, more relaxed brasserie. One great perk of being a hotel guest – priority reservations at the gourmet restaurant Duende – which only seats thirty. (And is thus why David recommends you make your dinner reservations as soon as you check in!)
- Sightseeing and Activities: You will find Roman influences all over Nimes – which is also known as the French Rome. Here you will find the Instagram worthy Pont du Gard – a Roman aqueduct bridge. Nimes is also home to an amphitheater (or arena) which holds concerts – Elton John kicked off his 2020 tour there – and other events. In addition to all of the fabulous sites in Nimes –Provence is not very far and can be added as a day trip to your Nimes visit. Here you will see gorgeous lavender fields and perhaps add in a perfume factory tour.
Maison Albar Le Monumental Palace – Porto, Portugal: The Maison Albar family believe in bringing properties back to their former grander and just reopened Le Monumental Palace after a multimillion-dollar face lift in the fall 2018.
- Destination: Porto is centrally located and is very easy to walk around especially on the right hand side of the river – which is where you will want to stay because that is where you will get all of the traditional folks that you will have a chance to mingle with. There is a train station which is an eight-minute walk to the hotel as well as an airport which is a twenty-minute drive.
- Amenities, Accommodations and More: The property has an indoor pool on the lower level – which is actually a unique thing to have it on lower level as not many hotels do that. They also have a spa featuring treatments of all types and a fitness room with cutting edge equipment. There are 76 spacious rooms and by spacious we mean they are not your traditional small European rooms. The smallest is the Superior Room measuring 312 square feet which is larger than most rooms in New York City and other city centers. On the larger side they also offer a 940 square foot suite with a living room and a dining room! There are thirteen suites in all – not all that large – but the nice thing is that they can be connected to accommodate larger families, multi-generational families or groups of friends traveling together.
- Gastronomy: The Le Monument Restaurant – a 1-star Michelin restaurant serves elevated Portuguese food with all of the produce and other ingredients all locally sourced. This restaurant seats forty and as with Duende – guests do get priority reservations – but be sure to book the evening you wish to dine there at check-in. (On a side note – let me tell you it’s no easy feat to get a Michelin star – I know this from my culinary days – it’s a lot of work so kudos to these properties to make it on the list!) They also have lighter fare available in a second restaurant. It features traditional food in lovely setting boasting the buildings original fireplace. It also has large floor to ceiling windows that open up allowing you to dine al fresco. And Angelique – obviously a woman after my own heart – noted it is a marvelous place to sit with a glass of port wine and people watch!
- Sightseeing and Activities: Portugal is amazing overall and Porto is no exception. Here there are fabulous culinary experiences to be had and of course – that marvelous port wine. Porto lends itself to a lot of outdoor activities and Douro River Valley is a great day trip from there to do some wine tasting.
Domes Noruz – Chania, Island of Crete, Greece: This property – one of three that David and Angelique offer on the Island of Crete is adults only and is great for honeymoons, destination weddings or just plain and simple getaways!
- Destination: There are two airports on the island – on two different sides. From Athens to Chania it is just a one-hour flight. Since David’s focus with the property is the northwestern side you will want to fly into Chania Airport which is only thirty minutes from the property. Should you choose to fly into the other one – Heraklion Airport – it would be a two-and-a-half-hour drive – which we can arrange as there are lot so sites to see. In fact, there is so much to see there that you can make an itinerary consisting of the three properties Wanderlux offers just of the Island of Crete and do three different experiences there alone!
- Amenities, Accommodations and More: I would say this property has a lot more flare. It is waterfront – so there is that beach option and it is a very wide-open property with fabulous views. This hotel is owned by Domes Properties and Resorts and you will notice their signature domes through the property. Opened in 2016 it is a noticeably light – as in bright – property. Each room has both indoor space and an outdoor space that is phenomenal to say the least – featuring either a plunge pool or a jacuzzi on the terrace. Every single room also has some type of exercise equipment in it – in a fitness spot – so you don’t have to leave your room to burn off all that amazing Greek food! There is also a resident DJ on property for some nightly dancing to burn off those calories. The property boasts three pools – one indoor and two outdoor. Of the two outdoor pools one is designated as the quiet pool and one has more activity going on around it. Pilates and yoga sessions are also included and if you so wish you can get personal trainer while you are there as well. As you may have already surmised – wellness is big on this property.
- Gastronomy: And speaking of all that amazing Greek food – Crete is gastronomically heavy. There are just so many culinary experiences there and since there are no GMO’s in that part of the world – the taste of the food is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Its mouthwatering to say the least – I honestly have no words to describe it! Ah but David does – he said – and I quote: “Eating a tomato there is like Athena the goddess kissed it and gave it to you.” Ha – love it!
- Sightseeing and Activities: Well just being in the Mediterranean alone is beautiful and I describe it as often feeling like you are in medieval times. Which David agreed to but also noted that the lighthouse on Crete was built before medieval times. It was actually constructed over a period of years at different times by different people – at one point the Venetians and at another point the Egyptians as Crete was under both of their rule’s before becoming part of Greece. Samaria Gorge – a national park – is just one hour away and a fabulous spot to spend the day hiking while taking in the beautiful vistas and sights. There are also two beaches not that far from the property. Balos Beach which is a fun area to go to and just an hour and half away and the world-famous pink sand beaches of Elafonisi – also just ninety minutes away. And of course – with any of these different regions you would like to see I can arrange transportation for you – either by private transfer or even a ferry where its applicable.
Miscellaneous: Just want to put it out there that all three of these properties are short flying distances within each other so – if you have say two weeks to travel – we can make it a multi- destination trip – giving you the opportunity to visit all three resorts and a chance to experience the different flavors of Europe
Updated COVID-19 Information: As each property resides in a different destination please check with the Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health in the destination you are interested in visiting for up-to-date entry requirements.
For the CDC’s most up to date information on COVID-19 click here. And for the most up to date COVID protocols at each property visit their individual websites.
And there you have it – three amazing 5-star properties covering three amazing European destinations. If you cannot wait to “wander” remember – it’s never too early to start making plans!
For more details on the fabulous Wanderlux Collection properties, their price points and more – contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!