JACKIE: We want to talk about deux remarkable locales, each extraordinary in very diverse ways. From Switzerland to England, style and substance. I’ll do my take on Luckman Park, one of England’s most glorious venues. And I’ll most likely poke my nose in David’s Swiss scenarios…
DAVID: Lugano and Lucerne, each on their own lake; each full of adventure and beauty. Our Swiss travels started in Lugano with an all time favorite, Hotel Splendide Royal. We have known and appreciated the tender care of the two genies at the Concierge desk, Giuseppe and Giovanni, the witty captain of the breakfast room, Fabrizio, and now this historic hotel is under the new leadership of the dynamic Director, Giuseppe Rossi. (JJ: He is my Lugano boyfriend, but I still call him Mr. Rossi.) He was the chosen successor to our much missed and loved Aniello Lauro and has carried on with the same charm, style and dedication to his clients. We are proud to be among them.
This is a truly grand hotel in the old fashioned (in the best sense of the phrase) manner. Our accommodation was as regal as ever, and this time we had an enormous terrace facing the entire width of Lake Lugano and the flower filled park in front of the water
Next, Lucerne and the smart Hotel des Balances, a chic, gourmet hotel nestled in the heart of Lucerne’s Old Town, preserving a reputation whose roots date back to the 13th century. We were housed in a deftly refurbished room with a balcony on the River Reuss that joins Lake Lucerne, just beyond the famous wooden Chapel Bridge, all in our view, as was the breathtaking Jesuit Church with long steps to the river filled with swans.
Warm wood floors, witty and wonderful furniture are just part of the transformed hotel – all welcome and wonderful. “Wonderful” is too tepid a word to describe the dinners and the breakfast from the kitchen of Chef Andy Fluri. Our first night was delightful. JJ had tiger shrimp while I was surprised with the best venison I have ever tasted, all accompanied by champagne and great red wines. The next morning revealed an astonishing display at the breakfast buffet. (JJ: Buffet, yet served in petite individually designed dishes of herrings, salmon, meats, fruits, a tip of the iceberg and a dangerous opportunity for me!)
While wandering the medieval, cobbled streets, we chanced upon a lively May Day celebration. And, Fumetto, the international comic festival (magazines, not stand-up), was in Lucerne and we visited exhibits with famed artist/writers signing their works for throngs of fans.
Great city, lively events – marvelous Hotel des Balances.
JACKIE’S TURN: How does one describe the Lucknam Park Hotel, a five-star country house near Bath, England. As one enters the grounds, you are guided by long rows of grand trees, and heightened by the horses residing in pristine pastures. Beautiful. The adjacent Equestrian Center offers echoes of bygone days, with lessons and riding for the guests. But Lucknam’s first class spa, peaceful and pampering, had me when I said hello. Rain showers galore, a warm indoor/outdoor pool, and exotic sauna and steam rooms.
I finally met Harry Murray, managing director of Lucknan Park, a very charming, attractive, dapper gentleman that David has been praising. For once, he didn’t exaggerate. Harry and Lucknan Park live up to their reputation, which is formidable. Harry was pleased to tell us that even with the recession and the volcanic ash travel problems, Lucknam Park is showing a large increase in business.
A quartet of lovely young women we met in the spa gave us a clue to why business is so good. They are all professional business women from London, college mates, who considered a holiday in Europe but decided, for the money, they could have a stay-cation at the very exclusive Lucknam Park. Bright young Brits.