Over the last few months, other than a weekend in Berlin to celebrate the 50th birthday of some awesome friends of mine, & two weekends in Shropshire, to help dad with his new laptop & attend his birthday party, I have been helping the London based sister of Lord Foley (who I met in Bangkok) with a London focused luxury project.
During the course of this I have been stunned by the help and support I have received from friends at LVMH, Mandarin Oriental, Dorchester Collection & Four Seasons.
At the same time I have been working on my future as a Banking Consultant. I have been approached about roles in Astana & Dubai but my preference is currently to be based in London, so I can continue to live in my Barbican place and better support my parents.
I have settled back into my London life. Personal training with Bart at Virgin Active, Barbican and enjoying my swims there.
I am living in my redecorated Barbican place again, with its Dorchester Hotel bed, personalised Frette sheets from Harrods, new Ligne Roset table from Heal's etc. Just the 'Four Seasons at Park Lane' window boxes to recreate again.
Since I moved back to London Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has officially reopened. I visited on the day this occurred. On that, notable, occasion I met Rodolphe & Marco in the Mandarin Bar and was served a divine truffle gin martini that was not yet on the menu. Legendary GM Amanda also came for an inspiring chat.
On my second visit I brought one of my unbelievable friends from Shropshire and got to try more cocktails and snacks being developed for the menu and was presented with a Mandarin Oriental teddy bear, MO tie pin and MO key ring, to add to my MO clufflinks from Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.
On my latest visit I decided to try their Hyde Park breakfast with Moet champagne, a choice of truffles or caviar and a spectacular view of Hyde Park. Breakfast ended up being better than I could possibly have imagined. Even the bellhops on the lobby stairs greeted me by name, the gorgeous dining room is so bright and impressive, the other guests as refined as I found before the deeply unfortunate fire and Amanda and her staff (eg Silvia the House Manager) seem reinvigorated/improved, what a contrast with when The Savoy in London reopened.
Hope the photos below help you to understand why it was such a special day.
A '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) hotel, with '7 teddy' staff and a '7 teddy' champagne/truffle breakfast.
Emirates First Class; a Suite at Four Seasons Seoul Overlooking the Gyeongbokgung Palace; an Iranian Kaviari Caviar Afternoon Tea at Mandarin Oriental; a Louis Roederer Brunch at Sukhothai & My 50th Birthday - Bangkok, Thailand - January 2019
My year could not have started better.
Emirates First Class
On my Emirates A380 (double-deck) First Class flight here I was given a double portion of caviar & had another shower on a plane.
Four Seasons Seoul
My trip to South Korea next month has been confirmed. At Four Seasons Seoul I will stay in a suite overlooking the Gyeongbokgung Palace & be able step into North Korea. Also intend to visit the Lotte Hotel re: my Lotte New York Palace bag.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok want me to try their new Iranian Kaviari caviar afternoon tea & I am meeting a friend from my Shrewsbury School days there tonight.
I am going to the Sukhothai on Sunday for their Louis Roederer champagne brunch again and cannot wait to see Botan to talk about Seoul, while reading the Weekend Financial Times.
My 50th Birthday
Friends from Uruguay, Sweden, Qatar etc have confirmed they will be flying in for my 50th birthday celebrations in the UK at the end of March.
It is going to be a '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) 50th birthday year.
A Mandarin Oriental 'Celebrity Fan' has a Stay at Mandarin Oriental Taipei that Blew My Mind - Taipei, Taiwan - November 2018
A Michelin Star Chef from Mandarin Oriental Milan cooked for me; I was served vintage Veuve Clicquot wherever I wanted it; the hotel is an architectural masterpiece & this Brand Ambassador has never been treated better.
Issy's new Taiwanese outfit is a masterstroke, my 'I'm a FAN' business cards with a QR code taking you straight to the #travelblog www.sifrew.com site are winners and Manager Frances & her team are all exceptional.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - a '7 teddy' experience without any doubt that has left me speechless. People must stay at Mandarin Oriental Taipei!
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok: An Unbelievable Stay, Even for a Mandarin Oriental Celebrity Fan, in Their Dame Barbara Cartland Suite - Bangkok, Thailand - October 2018
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is one of the world's legendary great hotels. It has been open for more than 140 years & is known as the 'Grand Dame' of Bangkok. I get nervous before each stay at this iconic hotel that it will not be possible to match my last experience but my stays keep getting better, which is truly unbelievable.
This time 'new' GM Greg & legendary Guest Relations Director Mayuree waiting outside for me in the steamy Bangkok heat; I was given the Dame Barbara Cartland suite; lunch with GM Greg; the pool staff welcome me back as an old friend & even presently me with a teddy bear of their own; and a final evening drinking with senior staff from Mandarin Oriental's Head Office in Hong Kong, having spent the previous evening with a senior member of staff from Jardine Matheson, blew my stay out of the water.
This 'Celebrity Fan' stayed at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London before its recent refurbishment and was eager to see what the over GBP85MN spent had achieved.
Marie (the hotel's PR Director) and Ines were kind enough to give me a tour and even arranged a complimentary lunch in Bar Boulud. I have eaten there before & also in Daniel Boulud's New York places.
The refurbishment is stunning, with all the attention to detail and additional light but it was my fellow dinners in Bar Boulud that evidenced the class/caliber of this London institution of a 5 star hotel. The 'great & the good' of Bermuda always stayed there during the 6 years when I lived, and worked, in Bermuda.
A Mandarin Oriental Fan Has a MO Celebrity Fan Stay at Mandarin Oriental, New York in a Premier Central Park View Suite - New York - April 2018
This Mandarin Oriental 'Fan' has quite a history with this luxury hotel group. From spending the only Christmas I did not spend with my family at Elbow Beach in Bermuda, when it was managed by Mandarin Oriental, to unforgettable stays at the Oriental in Bangkok, when the legendary Amanda Hyndman was their GM, to stays at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco (when it still existed), to interviewing for my Qatar job at the Mandarin Oriental DC, to stays in Barcelona, Miami, Hyde Park etc and being shown Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong etc.
I first stayed at Mandarin Oriental, New York when I was living in Bermuda, shortly after it first opened in December 2003.
On my most recent stay Manager Israel made sure I was treated as a 'Celebrity Fan' with a beautiful suite overlooking Central Park, hotel cars and a reserved table in The Aviary, NYC. A 7 'teddies' stay without any doubt and such a contrast with The Ludlow Hotel, New York and Mr & Mrs Smith travel.
When I worked in Bermuda the 'great & the good' used to stay in the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park. Thanks to Peter in their Digital Marketing Department my dream to stay there came true.
This Edwardian-style hotel opened in 1902 as the Hyde Park hotel. It was originally built as Gentleman's Club but there was a fire there.
It was acquired by Mandarin Oriental in 1996 and reopened in May 2000 after a major (GBP57MN) renovation and redesign of the restaurants & bars. The hotel hosted Margaret Thatcher's 80th birthday party and, in 2011, it also hosted the UK Royal Family's pre-Royal Wedding party for the Crowned Heads of State attending Prince William's wedding the next day. I have eaten in 'Dinner by Heston' (Blumenthal) in the hotel, Foliage (when it was in the same space) and Bar Boulud in the basement.
As part of my stay at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, I invited one of my best friends, the mother of my godson, to afternoon tea there.
I have had coffee in The Rosebery Lounge at the hotel before and always wanted to try afternoon tea in this indulgent room.
Thai Afternoon Tea at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok with Louis Roederer Champagne; Meeting with Amanda, the General Manager; Tour of the Refurbished Authors' Wing & Seeing Perfect Mayuree from Guest Relations - Bangkok, Thailand - March 2016
I wanted to see the refurbished Authors' Wing at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok and meet GM Amanda & Mayuree from Guest Relations again.
What better way to do this than by coming for afternoon tea, said to be the best in Bangkok, if not in Thailand.
I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental New York shortly after it opened in 2003 and decided to try their breakfast again. It is worth going there for the views alone.
Having stayed at the Oriental in Bangkok, I could not come to Hong Kong without a quick visit to the Mandarin. I was surprised to find the 1960s style lobby unchanged since my last visit more than 10 years before, when I came to Hong Kong on a business trip from Bermuda.
I was nervous that my second stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok might not live up to the first. However, as soon as I got into the BMW Series 7, was handed freezing cold towels and the classical music was put on I knew I was completely wrong.
At the hotel I was handed a flower garland before I entered the doors and welcomed back with genuine warmth. I was taken up to my suite to check in, staff on the way said “welcome back Kuhn Simon” with cheerful enthusiasm. I was back at my Bangkok home.
Si Frew has lived in the UK, Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & the Cayman Islands. During this time he met Whoopi Goldberg (in Claridge's), Mike Tyson (in the Concorde Lounge at JFK) , Gordon Ramsay (in the Doha Four Seasons), Chris Eubanks (in The Dorchester), Cherie Blair (in Bermuda & again in the Doha Four Seasons) etc. There are funny stories attached to all these interactions, feel free to ask Si about them when you meet him.