When I left Pattaya in 2015 I was unsure if I would ever return there. However, the wedding of some of my best friends meant I did and I am now so glad about this.
I met superb Hilton, Pattaya GM Rudolf for the first time (he welcomed me in person) and his staff could not have treated this Brand Ambassador better. Chilled Veuve Clicquot in my room, a rose petal "welcome back" message on the bed, a life-size teddy bear and ever pre-peeled fruit.
They even now serve sparkling water in the 33rd Floor Executive Lounge, did #travelblog www.sifrew.com previous comments on this lead to this improvement?!
The wedding was the highlight of my Far East trip with a Veuve Clicquot cascade/tower, ice sculptures, entertainment flow in and so many of my extraordinary friends from Qatar present. Days as happy as this one are rare in any life.
It was all a credit to the staff of Hilton, Pattaya and I am so grateful to have been included in such an extraordinary event.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - a '7 teddy' wedding in a '7 teddy' hotel, despite Pattaya! My Tip: the breakfasts in the Executive Lounge are worth a try.
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.
A True Friend Comes to Visit You in Cayman Islands for a Second Time - Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - May 2018
My friend from Uruguay, who let me stay at his places in Punta del Este for two months (after I left Qatar), came to stay with me in Cayman Islands for a second time.
We had such an unbelievable time again, drinking Veuve Clicquot Rich, which I first drank at Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, while watching sunset; going to the Moet brunch at the Ritz-Carlton; me showing off my notable BBQing skills on my Weber Grills again; dinner at the Royal Palms watching sunset and finally eating fish gumbo at Da Fish Shack.
However, it was spending time with this special friend, and his offer that I can stay with him again, when I leave Cayman Islands, that was so exceptional.
Hope the photos below give you some idea of the phenomenal week we enjoyed together.
'Last' Night in London in an Exquisite Westminster Suite at Four Seasons at Park Lane - London, UK - April 2018
I was nervous about staying at Four Seasons at Park Lane so soon after legendary GM John had left. However, Manager Mali ensured it was another memorable stay in opulent surroundings with exemplary Four Seasons staff.
It was just a pity I did not get to meet new GM Lynn, as she was not yet in place. However, I did leave a #travelblog www.sifrew.com. baseball cap for her.
Four Seasons at Park Lane remains one of the best Four Seasons in the group and a hotel Mr Sharp can still be justly proud of.
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.
Stay in a Sumptuous Dorchester Suite at The Dorchester & Meet Their New GM - London, UK - April 2018
Problems with emails from my iPhone X to Dorchester Collection email addresses in London & Paris meant I had not stayed with them since my big Far East trip.
I was so glad I did stay at The Dorchester on my last London stay. Emily (Director of Guest Relations) welcomed me back with such warmth; my Dorchester suite brought me near tears with its luxurious, but comfortable, beauty; and I was able to discuss my connections with the Qatari Royal Family with their ex-Four Seasons GM Robert.
The warmth of my welcome back; prints by HRH Prince Charles, the Japanese remote controlled toilet in the suite etc; and meeting new GM Robert, and talking to his brilliant PA Janice again, made this a 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) stay at this iconic London hotel.
After seeing three 5 star London hotels already that afternoon, I almost cancelled Rosewood, London. However, my friend was making a special effort to see me, despite a flight to Sao Paulo the next day, and I love charismatic ex-Four Seasons Michael Bonsor and Rosewood, London.
I was so glad I tried Scarfes Bar. Gerald Scarfe CBE's iconic illustrations/ cartoons/ caricatures were a major part of my childhood (eg Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', 'Yes, Minister' etc) and this cosy but lively 'real bar' is a place people must try. The only venue where you can "get Scarfed".
Champagne to start, Marie (their Director of Communications) coming to say hello at 8:30pm, my fascinating guest, the tartan trousers of the waiters and Mr Scarfe CBE donating his earning from the venture to Parkinson's UK definitely make this a 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) experience.
The Ned Hotel; Hotel Threadneedles; & Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square: 5 Star Hotels in The City of London Get Visits from #travelblog www.sifrew.com - London, UK - April 2018
On my first afternoon back in London, after Shropshire, I undertook a whirlwind tour of The Ned with their energetic Manager David.
He showed me the private members' areas (the rooftop pool is small) and an elegant Terrace Suite. I was given a new teddy bear, who must be called 'little Ned'.
This is clearly a 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻( 5 out of 5 ‘teddies’) hotel that I would encourage readers to visit.
Next I went to meet Cedric (GM of Hotel Threadneedles). It was a pleasure to have a drink with this charming Belgium hotelier, swap hotel stories and talk about why readers of #travelblog www.sifrew.com should never use Santa Fe Relo. They issued me with false invoices for more than a year, appointed debt collectors to recover funds I never owed and are now hiding behind bad legal advice to avoid paying compensation for the stress cause to me and my family.
Finally I went to Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square where I met their new GM Vincent and talked about my stay at Four Seasons Amman in Jordan, where he was last GM.
This was all before an evening in Scarfes Bar, at the invitation of Rosewood, London, with my friend who formerly work for Tony Blair in 10 Dowing Street.
Another unbelievable day in my life.
I am so proud to be a 'Shropshire lad'. Shrewsbury is such a beautiful historic town and I am so lucky to have been sent to Prestfelde Prep School & Shrewsbury School, with all the friends I still have from those places. It is amazing to think Charles Darwin also went to the latter.
During my time in Shrewsbury I got to spend more time with my incredible parents; ate in Darwin's Kitchen; Number Four; and The Golden Cross; helped my brother celebrate his birthday; went for drinks in The Three Fishes pub with friends; had lunch with a knowledgeable and sensible friend; had coffee with my marvelous artistic godmother and heard Charlie Adlard, Comics Laureate and artist for 'The Walking Dead', who I was at Shrewsbury School with, speak about this career.
A memorably perfect week and I hope the photos below do it some justice. Well worth the 12 hour flight from Cayman Islands.
Another 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) stay in Shrewsbury.
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.