by Peter J. Bates

Monday, February 11, 2013


Last week, I shared with you some of the distinctive destinations and magnificent hotels that I discovered last year. In Part 2, I am offering more from my “best“ list as well as some of the places I’ll be exploring in 2013. As I mentioned last week, none of the places or companies listed below are current clients – I visited them for business or leisure.

Best Hotel Concierge: Giovanni at Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong
I have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong more times than I care to count, and it wouldn’t be the same without Giovanni – one of the property’s best assets! He has been the concierge there for more than 30 years. He knows every customer, and is exceedingly helpful and knowledgeable. He knows this city inside and out and is skilled at recommending the right restaurants or experiences for guests. Plus, he can finagle anything in Hong Kong!

Best Unexpected Experience: Holiday Fireworks in Sydney and the London Olympics

You can spend a lot of time curating what you hope will be an unforgettable vacation, but sometimes it’s those unanticipated moments that rival for the best holiday memories. I had two such moments in 2012 – viewing the awesome New Year’s Eve fireworks display over the Sydney Opera House, and experiencing the gracious hospitality of the volunteers during the London Olympics (they were so visible and helpful – a reflection of fine British spirit).

Monday, February 4, 2013


One of the most rewarding aspects of my career in luxury marketing is the global travels and the privilege of discovering different parts of the world – and gems in those locations. And, my love of global pursuits has translated into memorable journeys with my family. Last year, I explored distinctive destinations and magnificent hotels, and I’d love to share them with you and continue the travel narrative that inspires us all. I’d also like to point out that none of the places or companies listed below are current clients – I visited them for business or leisure.

Most Interesting Place: Cartagena
I had never considered Colombia as a luxury destination but my visit to Cartagena showed me otherwise. There is an excellent (and growing) hotel product, new air service (thank you, JetBlue), and spectacular service levels. A rich culture of music, arts and gastronomy embrace the city, generating an uber-cool vibe. As much as I travel, I often don’t head to South America, which made Cartagena a particularly thrilling treat for me – and ignited an interest in discovering more around the continent.

Best Large Hotel in U.S.: Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
A member of the Dorchester Collection, the Hotel Bel-Air was completely renovated and re-opened in October 2011. The amazing revamp re-charged the iconic property for the 21st century while retaining features of its original character. Think the glamour of old Hollywood blended with a style that is young, fresh, vibrant and fun. The Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air restaurant is divine, and the hotel bar remains famous for its savory cocktail collection.

Best Small Hotel in U.S.: Lake Placid Lodge, New York
Situated in the picturesque Adirondacks of New York State is the Lake Placid Lodge. Spending a few days in a cozy log cabin edging a five-mile-long lake and hiking in Adirondack Park (an impressive six million acres) was the perfect recipe for relaxation and family bonding.