Unforgettable Travels: a peek inside the Small Luxury Hotels of the World

I realized something about the way we travel that has changed over the years. For hubby and I, we don’t like to over plan or rush and pack in too much in a day.  Our lives are so full and busy already, right? We also have realized that hotels are very much part of our vacation. It’s not just  a place to rest our tired feet after a day of exploring and sight-seeing. We are naturally drawn to hotels and resorts that have a distinct look, a personality, and can offer an experience that is unforgettable.

I can tell you every detail about Chateau Eza – a small hotel with only 12 guestrooms located in a medieval village set on top of a hilltop in the South of France.  It carries the distinction of being part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World — a collection of hotels that set standards beyond the most comfortable bed and pillow.  It was a little bit of a splurge but not out of reach. For us, we’d rather spend the our money on experiences when travelling and feel inspired and rejuvenated. Okay, we’ll often bring back a small piece of artwork created by a local artist, too.

Chateau Eza is not reachable by car…it use to be that donkeys would carry your luggage up the stone walkways up the hill but now it’s done by a very healthy staff. Formerly it was the estate of the King of Spain and his family but Eze Village eventually transformed into a tourist attraction by day with bus loads of people being dropped off at the foot of the hill as one of the “must see” destinations along the coast. But when nightfalls and the tourists are gone, Eze Village becomes yours. It’s tranquil and incredibly romantic.

Aerial View of Eze Village. Photo credit: Chateau Eza

The hotel is spectacular with unrivaled views of the Cote D’Azur that absolutely takes your breath away. The room we booked itself is stunning with a state of the art modern bathroom with a picturesque and fully open window to the outside. Yes, you could shower or bath without inhibitions…it’s up high and there are no other buildings or streets in your way. A historical landmark with modern amenities and yes, even WiFi. The staff here are worldly too. At the time we stayed, we discovered that the front desk staff combined spoke 22 languages fluently to cater to their international guests. Italian, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian…very impressive indeed at this remote gem. And the staff go beyond expectations discreetly taking care of every fine detail. They don’t just lay chocolates on your pillow, they leave a full hot tea service waiting for you at night when you return to your room. Nothing overlooked. If you’re going to splurge a little then you should be treated well, don’t you think?

This is pure travel love and how we discovered what Small Luxury Hotels of the World really meant. It’s the charming and unique differences that make independently owned hotels, like Chateau Eza, worth talking about.

I was invited to an intimate cocktail event recently with Small Luxury Hotels of the World at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto – the only hotel in the city with this honour. I am personally a fan already of the whole concept of small and luxurious but learning more about it whet my appetite for more travels. Spice Island Resorts in Grenada is on my radar!

SLH Chateau EzaWhat is Small Luxury Hotels of the World? It’s a brand of luxury, independent hotels that are selected for their distinctive style and offerings. There are 520 hotels in over 70 countries currently with the designation. The variety of hotels is diverse, from spas, country houses, golf resorts, island retreats, city sanctuaries, to game and wilderness lodges.

Hotels around the world apply for the designation with Small Luxury Hotels of The World and approximately 1000 hotels submit for review each year…but not all get accepted.  Hotels are inspected thoroughly by their global team and reviewed by the Board of Directors before being accepted. Once accepted, hotels are inspected every other year by mystery inspectors to ensure that they continue to meet the high standards that are demanded. It’s not always about luxury in a sense of $$ either. Yes, you can go all the way and make a significant impact on your wallet but I’ve also discovered attainable pricing at numerous resorts so it’s worth doing a bit of research!

Travellers with a desire to stay at properties with the Small Luxury Hotels of the World honour can visit the website for a complete list of hotels and resorts. No fees are involved but their club membership (free) is worth joining for special offers and benefits, like automatic upgrades. Globally there are now over 330,000 SLH Club members.

An yes there’s an app! In September 2011 an upgraded version of the SLH iPhone app was launched. Over 55,000 users have downloaded the new version. Users can now book a stay online using their phone or click to call a local reservation team.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World also has a strong following on social media.With over 60,000 fans on Facebook and over 15,500 followers on Twitter , the SLH blog (http://blog.slh.com) and You Tube, Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s fanbase interacts frequently through these social channels. SLH is also making its presence known in emerging markets launching pages on Chinese social networks Youku, Kaixin001 and Sina Micro Blog. Additionally the brand has launched a Twitter page for its Japanese audience.

There are SO many beautiful SLH properties to visit. Here’s just a sampling but you should really check out the site for travel inspiration! Visit www.slh.com and be prepared to drool!





Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of AZNmodern.com. She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

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