Category Archives: venice italy hotels

Venice, Italy: The Gondola Massage: Hotel Cipriani

l’amante. i baci. i fiori.
lover. kisses. flowers.

While perusing the latest luxuries in some of the most romantic cities in the world, we spotted this entirely unique Venetian experience, perfect for the swanky solo traveler, blushing newlyweds, or any hot-to-euro trot couple. The new “Gondola Massage” at Hotel Cipriani, one of the finest hotels in the world, is offering a 40-minute massage focusing on the back, shoulders, neck and face in a private venue near a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon. A specially-designed mat has been embraces the shape of the gondola for comfort while the hotel’s appropriately named ‘Casanova Spa’ therapists have blended together a special oil – rich in vitamin E and F with a high SPF sunscreen, coffee oil and peach milk – to protect the skin under the sun. The experience ends with a foot massage and the opportunity to relax in the hotel’s garden with iced tea or a glass of crisp pinot grigio.

How’s that for romantic, il mio tesoro?

From $590, booked directly through Hotel Cipriani’s Casanova Spa.

Italy: The Flower of my Secret

Shhh… Italy is…
The flower of my secret.

That’s Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Black Iris’, but it sure does draw you in, doesn’t it? She may have found her inspiration in Santa Fe, but we’re finding it in Italy. Which reminds us of flowers, Limoncello, beauty, and a few botanically-inspired programs taking place in the country of fine wine and pasta right now (such passionate paramours of all things flowery, green, and leafy, we are). Whispered about among the upwardly-mobile artistic set, these petal-pushing programs are sure to bring out the inner O’Keeffe in you too.

HOTEL SPLENDIDO: The Discovering Herbs Package
Portofino, Italy

The word ‘love’ doesn’t capture the affaire de coeur I have with the Italian coast. Sweeping, terraced, cobbled, and cozy, it’s one of the most romantic spots on earth; reason enough to believe in true love and eternal bliss. Surreal in it’s majesty, endless in it’s scope, there’s simply no other place I’ve seen that quite compares to Italy’s fine homage to love and living.

The days, the nights, alone, or in love, Italy can be sipped slowly or downed in one long lascivious gulp. Greedy, sensual, ravenous, needy, when you leave you’ll want to cry yourself into the fetal position and ask yourself, “Why???” It’s painful to leave her no matter what you do.

Originally a Monastery, Hotel Splendido in Portofino, is among the finest accommodations in the area. A luxury villa that stands majestically on a hillside overlooking the Bay of Portofino, it’s surrounded by four acres of tropical terraced gardens of palm trees, yews, sea pines, mimosa and olive groves while the nearby harbor is full of cafes, shops, gorgeous men (whoops, did I say that?) and restaurants. So grab a girlfriend, your mom, or your husband, and see an Italian coast that’ll make you swoon. Get creative and break the botanical babe in you free.

You’ll spend two days and two nights learning how to recognize the spontaneous herbs of Liguria and their use in cookery. A course lying midway between gastronomy and botany, based on the aromas of the herbs typical of the Tigullio region. Here’s the itinerary:

Day One: A gourmet dinner for two based on local herbs, in either the Splendido Mare’s “Chuflay” restaurant or in the Splendido’s “la Terrazza” restaurant.

Day Two: Guests set off on foot at 10am for a half-day excursion on Monte di Portofino, accompanied by a botanist guide, who will explain the uses and properties of spontaneous herbs for cooking, health and beauty.

Prices start at US $1,719* per person, for a double sea view room, including flowers, full American-style breakfast and all the activities in the program.

Reservations at: or 1800 237 1236.

In addition to classes on the Italian coast, you can discover a renaissance in botanical art at properties around the world with painting classes at almost all of the Orient-Express hotels. By the end of each class, you’ll have completed a number of sketches and color works.

Fun, fun, fun!

The program for 2008 includes a variety of options. Since today we’re daydreaming about Italy, I pick:

Venice, Italy

You know about the gondolas and the city among the sea, right? There’s really not much more to say, but… look at that photo! We vote for a few days in the middle of that ancient Italian lovestory that is Venice. Go paint. Suck, or be amazing. Who cares? Just know this… if you go alone, you better have something to do. Like paint some flowers, take a big rosemary-filled breath, and drink some wine. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so when Massimo tries to feel you up during your 80 minute massage.

Fondamenta Vetrai, Murano 50,

Tel: 041 2737211

Flower Painting Master Class: “Autumn fruits and foliage”
Sunday, October 5th – Friday, October 10th, 2008
Package price is Euro 5,365 (approx USD $7,980) plus 10% VAT. Rate for two persons, student or not, sharing a room.

Students can discover a worldwide renaissance in flower painting at an exclusive Master Class at the Hotel Cipriani taught by Siriol Sherlock.

Student Program Includes:
• Welcome at the airport or railway station by hotel representative
• Transfer on arrival and departure
• Italian Champagne and flowers in the room
• Get-together cocktail party on arrival and welcome dinner
• Daily painting Master Class
• Five nights deluxe accommodation with full American Breakfast
• Lunch and dinner daily (beverages not included)
• Farewell dinner
• Diploma

Reservations: or 1800 237 1236.