Many people try to decide whether to view the Iguazu Falls (Spanish spelling) or Iguassu Falls (Portuguese spelling) from the Argentina or Brazil sides. We did both and you really have to.
You get the grand perspective from the Brazil side and can get wet & close on the Argentina side.
I cannot stress how magnificent these 100s of independent falls are and how fun it was taking a boat under them was from the Argentina side. Devil's Throat is the highest point and must be viewed from the Argentina side.
We stayed at the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas on the Brazil side & had lunch at the hotel Melia on the Argentina side.
A true '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) awe-inspiring/ jaw-dropping experience. My Tip:- enjoy all this with someone as fun & knowledgeable as my Uruguayan friend.
We visited Paraguay to 'Duty Free' shop and also crossed the Brazil/ Argentina border for the day to see the Iguazu Falls.
The main issue I observed during these visits was the lack of rigorous border controls in this border region. Not only was my Yellow Fever certificate not checked but my passport was also not asked for during some of the crossings. I also noted that there is a large Arabic speaking population living in this border area.
In my role as a Banking Consultant, most recently focusing on Anti-Money Laundering & Countering Terrorism Financing in Cyprus & Cayman Islands, this raised red flags for me. We associate this area with the proceeds of Nazi crimes but there are clearly more current issues people should be concerned about when dealing with clients from this region.
We could not visit Brazil without a two night stay in Rio. The rooftop pool at the Fasano features in the logo of #travelblog www.sifrew.com and I have stayed at the Belmond Copacabana Palace on a number of occasions.
This time I got to walk on Ipanema Beach as the sun was coming up and shop at Shopping Leblon for the most exotic socks of my life.
Another stay in Rio, with my phenomenal friend from Uruguay, that I will never forget!
Complimentary Stay in a Four Seasons Executive Suite at the 'Very New' Four Seasons Hotel Sao Paulo at Nacoes Unidas: The First Four Seasons in Brazil & my First Four Seasons Executive Club Lounge - Sao Paulo, Brazil - December 2018
I stayed at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach & Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay before they opened to the public and wanted to stay at the first Four Seasons in Brazil, when I heard about Four Seasons Hotel Sao Paulo at Nacoes Unidas while staying at Mandarin Oriental Taipei a few months ago.
When I went to Mr Sharp's private home in Toronto, when I lived in Qatar, we discussed a Rio Four Seasons. However, Sao Paulo was the choice for the first Brazil Four Seasons in the end and GM Michael Schmid kindly offered me a complimentary stay, when I asked to try it.
I travelled overnight from Punta del Este, Uruguay to experience my first Four Seasons Executive Club Lounge; take a look at Barcelona-based Ignasi Monreal's book of paintings 'Four Seasons: The Art of Hospitality'; swim in my first negative edged indoor/outdoor swimming pool and encounter Four Seasons in Brazil.
It was a bit of a disappointed that, despite the effort I made to do this, Four Seasons Hotel Sao Paulo at Nacoes Unidas did not put much thought into the welcome amenities in my suite but the Brazilian owners of the property were visiting the hotel at the same time as me, so I guess the hotel was caught a little off guard.
Just as with Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, I have decided it is unfair to 'teddy score' the Sao Paulo Four Seasons at this early stage of its development. It is impressive that the 'spirit of Four Seasons' is firmly established in Brazil, after only two months, and the issues I encountered are just a feature of any new luxury hotel. I am confident they will be addressed very quickly.
Christmas Came Early With My Lufthansa Business Class Flight From Frankfurt to Buenos Aires - December 2018
A series of mistakes/problems (eg bad journey advice from a black cab driver in London over the time it takes to get to Gatwick; my Lufthansa plane from Heathrow, London to Frankfurt was late & the connection time at Frankfurt being too short etc) led to a fraught start to my South American trip.
However, in the end the 14 hour flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires, upstairs on a Boeing 747, literally 'flew by'. The crew were friendly & helpful; the roast goose 'Christmas dinner' with red cabbage and potato dumplings excellent; the entertainment system with Bose noise cancelling headphones; good; the fully flat bed with a good quality pillow, large blanket & mattress topper had a quality feel; Van Laack sleep shirt was a nice touch; and L'Occitane products in the wash bags are still being appreciated here in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 'teddies') - a high quality Business Class service but no champagne in the Lufthansa Lounge at Heathrow; too short a connection time in Frankfurt, combined with lack of privacy with the Business Class seats, prevented a higher 'teddy score'. My Tip:- run at Frankfurt!
Despite a pre-Christmas trip to see my remarkable friend in Punta del Este, Uruguay; the new Sao Paulo Four Seasons; the Belmond hotel at Iguazu Falls ('Cataratas'); Paraquay; and the Buenos Aires Four Seasons again, I had to see the Christmas decorations by the hotels & businesses in Mayfair, London.
Four Seasons at Park Lane helped with this by looking after my luggage for a few hours and I was impressed by the monumental, & stylish, nutcracker toy soldiers in their lobby, my photo does not do justice to the crystal covered one. Christopher Kane's work at Scott's restaurant on Mount Street, the Diane von Furstenberg Christmas tree at Claridge's and The Connaught's Christmas tree by conceptual artist Sir Michael Craig-Martin at night all deserve special mentions. Along with Head of Guest Relations Emily at The Dorchester for her entertaining chat with me.
Hope you enjoy the photos below. A true '7 teddies' effort by the hotels and businesses in Mayfair, London.
The Ultra Luxurious Petra VIP Lounge at the Queen Alia International Airport - Amman, Jordan - November 2018
My journey back from the Far East to Shropshire included a stop in Amman, Jordan. My Royal Jordanian Business Class ticket did not allow me access to the Petra VIP Lounge but an important Jordanian contact & friend, from my almost 10 years working in Qatar, wanted me to experience this VIP lounge and staff from his bank arranged this.
I was overjoyed I tried this experience. The decor of this lounge reminded me of my suite at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, while the level of service was reminiscent of the BA Concorde Lounge at JFK, with staff asking regular flyers about their university studies etc.
Early in the morning this lounge had a hushed monied feel that was a perfect place to recharge before my London flight. There is a separate dining area with a large selection of hot & cold foods.
This luxurious experience made me even more excited about staying at Four Seasons Amman again next year, once their refurbishment is complete.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 'teddies') - an ultra luxurious airport lounge but would need to offer champagne, & a waiter service food area, to gain 7 'teddies'. My Tip:- jump at the opportunity to use this lounge, if you are lucky enough to be offered the chance.
Hilton Pattaya: A Dream Second Stay and a Wedding that was the Highlight of my Far East Trip & a Day I will Never Forget - Pattaya, Thailand - November 2018
Sofitel So, Bangkok; Christian Lacroix & #travelblog www.sifrew.com - More Dreams Come True!!! - Bangkok, Thailand - November 2018
Meet Greta, a Christian Lacroix dressed teddy bear specially created for #travelblog www.sifrew.com by Sofitel So, Bangkok.
Pinnpratch at Sofitel So, Bangkok created her and she is a spectacular piece of art.
I have named her Greta, after someone I adore in Puna del Este & she will be accompanying us to 'the wedding' of some of our best friends in Thailand tomorrow.
Feeling so blessed here in Bangkok.
The Louis Roederer Champagne Sunday Brunch at Sukhothai, Bangkok is the Best in the World - Bangkok, Thailand - November 2018
I have sampled brunches in Qatar, Cayman Islands etc but never anything like the Louis Roederer champagne brunch at Sukhothai, Bangkok.
As soon as I met F&B Manager Botan I knew I was in for an exceptional experience. There was Wagyu beef, Unagi sushi, oysters from Jersey, live music inside and as much Louis Roederer champagne as you could drink.
I will certainly be returning to try this brunch again after the Thai wedding I am attending and before I leave the Far East later this month.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - a brunch that is the manifestation of luxury with the quality of the food. My Tip:- speak to Botan. I am going to Four Seasons Seoul after speaking to her!
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!
Taiwanese people are some of the most avid readers of #travelblog www.sifrew.com.
I only became aware of Eva Air recently but, as soon as I booked Mandarin Oriental Taipei, I knew I had to fly with this Taiwan airline that partners with Hello Kitty.
A '6 teddy', 'First Class', friendly experience I will never forget.
Restaurant Suhring - Michelin Starred German Food Exquisitely Reinvented in Bangkok - Bangkok, Thailand - October 2018
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.
Strongly Recommend Flights from London Heathrow to Bangkok via Amman with Royal Jordanian in Business Class on Their 787-8 Dreamliner Planes - October 2018
When I was looking for flights to Bangkok and saw that Royal Jordanian Business Class was a viable option, I knew I had to fly with this airline for the first time.
I am friends with the owners of the Four Seasons in Amman & am due to stay there again next year, once their refurbishment is complete, and have some astonishing Jordanian friends.
A friend at Boeing told me to pick the flights where 787 Dreamliners were used and sitting next to the charming young son of the Chairman of the airline on the flight to Amman made my day. I cannot recommend the flights I took strongly enough.
Before I left for the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok & the Far East I decided to spend one more night at The Dorchester. I had intend this to be a 'low-key event'. However, nothing The Dorchester does is unexceptional and on this trip they gave me an updated version of the Park Suite I spent my 40th birthday in. I almost cried when I saw its beauty & recalled that 'historic' dinner in The Dorchester's Penthouse & Pavilion.
This, along with a private viewing of 'Mono Scripto', the Bob Dylan exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery on Bond Street and dinner with some exceptional friends at Dishoom made it a '7 teddies' 24 hours I will never forget.
Completing my 18 months in Cayman Islands gave me a chance to spend some quality time with my incredible parents, before another big adventure in. the Far East.
During my time in Shropshire my brother hosted an impressive family birthday Sunday lunch; I got to have lunch with my awe-inspiring godmother; went on a Tanners Cellar Tour with dad; visited Chester with mum & day, including lunch at The Chester Grosvenor; had lunch with a special family friend who got me thinking about Bank of Bermuda (now part of HSBC) etc; squeezed in a day in London to see the Bank of England & Annabel Shaw (Four Seasons Director of Residences Twenty Grosvenor Square - the former US Navy building) and I had drinks with friends from my Prestfelde & Shrewsbury School days. Hope the photos below help you understand what an unforgettable time I had.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - spending time with my unbelievable parents is always a '7 teddy experience' but so much else during my time in Shrewsbury & London could not have been better (eg lunch with my indomitable godmother). What UK memories to take to the Far East with me.
Flying American Airlines First Class, & staying at The Dorchester, meant I had to return from Cayman Islands to find a Rolls-Royce.
The Dorchester helped me celebrate by giving me one of their gorgeous Dorchester suites again, hotel legend Amanda Hyndman met with me, I (finally) met Four Seasons' Lynn Brutman, Dorchester butlers repacked my luggage beautifully and some of my best friends from my 10 years in Qatar joined me for drinks.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - no return to the UK could have been better. I must thank Robert, Janice & Emily at The Dorchester, John at 45 Park Lane, Lynn & Irene at Four Seasons at Park Lane & Amanda Hyndman at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for all they did to make my welcome back to the UK so special.
I have too many people to thank for my 18 unforgettable months in Cayman Islands. My parents, & so many special friends, for visiting me, and there are too many incredible people in Cayman Islands I hope I never lose contact with.
There are a few photos below from my last two days in Cayman Islands but they do not do it any justice!
Four Seasons Midtown New York - a Manhattan Icon Returns to Its Glory Days - New York - September 2018
News of a US$120MN refurbishment, and a new Swiss/German GM who is very well known to a number of my hotel contacts, meant I had to give Four Seasons Midtown New York another chance. This Manhattan icon has such a special place in my heart I could not give up on it.
This hotel is back to cutting edge Four Seasons perfection with a reinvigorated staff and a new light & airy look in the 366 guest rooms/suites.
An awesome '7 teddy' stay and so good to leave the region with such incredible memories.
Four Seasons New York Downtown: A Martini with the New GM - Mr Sharp's Four Seasons Spirit is Truly Alive in New York - August 2018
Thomas, the Four Seasons New York Downtown Manager, was recently promoted to their GM. He was helping with The Ocean Club in Bahamas' change to a A Four Seasons Resort when I was in New York at New Year.
I have known Thomas since his Four Seasons at Park Lane days and so had to meet his to congratulate him on this richly deserved appointment.
I was so glad I did. Thomas will be a '7 teddy' GM and has created a service culture at Four Seasons New York Downtown that exemplifies the essence of why Four Seasons is such a special brand. Our meeting further evidenced he will be one of the Four Seasons' legendary GMs.
Breakfast & Then Coffee with the MD & COO of Baccarat Hotel New York: Exquisite French Uber Luxury in Manhattan - New York - August 2018
Having had dinner in Cristal (sic) Room Baccarat in Paris, when I lived in Qatar, as part of a Four Seasons themed trip to Paris, New York & London, and having bought Baccarat glass when I lived in Bermuda & Qatar, I was fascinated to see Baccarat Hotel New York.
Dealings with 'We Are Shadow', a New York based third-party who the hotel outsources social media relations to, left this Social Media Influencer confused and angry. However, just before my New York trip a breakfast & meeting with the hotel MD & COO (a form of GM) was arranged and it was too good a chance to pass up.
I was so glad I went. Hermann, the MD & COO, is a polished New York hotel professional who is a joy to spend time with and the hotel has a luxury/monied/stylish feel that I adored.
Havana, Cuba - Kempinski, Bacardi, Cuban Cigars & Hemingway - another dream comes true! - August 2018
Ever since I saw the New Year's Eve scene in 'The Godfather Part II' I have been fascinated by Havana, meeting members of the Bacardi family, when I lived in Bermuda, & being given Cuban cigars by a member of the Qatari Royal Family, who I mentored while living in Doha, meant I had to see Cuba.
Living in the Caribbean for the last 18 months gave me this chance and the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinsk La Habana opening in 2017, with its infinity rooftop pool with views of the Art Deco Bacardi tower, "sealed the deal", another www.sifrew.com dream came true!!!!
The 19th Century shopping mall Manzana (Spanish for city block) de Gomez, formerly owned by a sugar baron, has been through a 5 year transformation. The statue of Fidel Castro has been removed from the grounds & the glamorous Kempinski 'Ladies in Red' have taken his place. This hotel faces Ernest Hemingway's 'daiquiri haunt' the 200 year old El Floridita and is right in the centre of Havana.
However, the Cuban regime's red tape, and related US restrictions, mean there were lows, as well as incredible highs on this trip. It was an unforgettable trip, I do not regret, but Cuban is not geared for trouble-free luxury tourism yet.
A Privilege to be Invited to Celebrate 4th of July in River Oaks, Houston & on a Family Ranch - Texas, USA - July 2018
I had a memorable 4th of July celebrating it at the home of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon in Bermuda and loved 4th of July dinners with American friends in Qatar. However, I knew celebrating 4th of July in Texas would be in another league and I was not disappointed.
Seeing my friend's new River Oaks home in Houston took my breath away, a party that was held in my honour there was sensational, and the party on a family ranch blew my mind.
I never expected to see Zebra in Texas; did not even know Ankole-Watusi existed, with horns with the biggest circumference of any cattle; met a guy who knew the Bermuda based billionaire who I had lunch on his stunning 196ft three master schooner Fleurtje and watched spectacular fireworks by a lake, as children floated on inflatables.
Remarkable 7 'teddy' 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 experience money cannot simply 'buy'. Love my friends in Texas so much. Hope the photos below do some justice to a long weekend I will never forget.
Another James Bond Moment at The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort - Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas - June 2018
It was more than 15 years since I last visited Bahamas, when I came on a business trip from Bermuda, and I was keen to see the place again. It was around that time that I also started visiting Cayman Islands, also on business trips. In many ways Cayman Islands is a different place and so I was keen to see Bahamas again.
The One & Only in Bahamas becoming a Four Seasons in 2017 was the perfect excuse and learning the 2006 remake of Casino Royale was filmed there made me even more excited.
John Kentish-Barnes from Four Seasons at Park Lane was now the hotel Manager, while John Conway is still the General Manager, and so I knew I was going to have a memorable stay. However, the genuine warmth of the Bahamian staff blew me away. The word 'paradise' is sometimes overused but I think The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort - Bahamas, and their extraordinary staff, truly deserve this description.
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.