Relais & Chateaux Showcase Hotels at The Carlu

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Morukuru River House Pool, South Africa
Morukuru River House Pool, South Africa

Relais & Chateaux, the elite hotel and restaurant fellowship, held an event at The Carlu in Toronto on February 26, 2014 to showcase their luxury properties around the world. To become part of the Relais & Chateaux chain, hotels must demonstrate extraordinary features (many are castles, manor houses or townhouses), unique settings, character, charm and superior cuisine, all of which distinguish them from chain hotel experiences.

The former Kate Middleton spent her last night as a bachelorette along with sister, Pippa and mother, Carol at the Royal Suite at The Goring, a Relais & Chateaux hotel. The Royal Suite costs approximately CAD$9,272 per night.

Relais & Chateaux event at The Carlu
Relais & Chateaux event at The Carlu

Torontonicity spoke to several representatives and owners from Relais & Chateaux hotels to learn more about their exclusive properties.

We first encountered the charming Benedetto Baracchi, whose family owns the Relais Il Falconiere in Tuscany, Italy. Baracchi told us about his family’s country hotel, which has been in his family for centuries and was transformed from a 17th century villa. The 20-room inn features views of the Cortonese countryside and are furnished in elegant classics. Baracchi told us that they attend to every last detail to ensure guests have an unforgettable experience. You can enjoy dining indoors among ornate furnishings and textiles or on the terrace watching the sunset while sipping from wines from Riccardo Baracchi’s Wines, the family’s own vineyard. An in-house spa, the Thesan Etruscan Spa, offers spa treatments with natural products made from extra virgin olive oil, grapes and wine. While staying at Il Falconiere, you can explore the countryside on guided trekking tours.

Relais Il Falconiere in Tuscany
Relais Il Falconiere in Tuscany, photo Il Falconiere

Rinse Wassenaar, Marketing Manager for the Morukuru Family estates in South Africa, advised us about the Morukuru Owner’s House, Farm House and River House on the Madikwe Game Reserve, which is about four hours north of Johannesburg on the southern border of Botswana. When you rent one of the houses, you’ll be equipped with your own vehicle, guide, butler, chef, nanny and private safari guides as well as access to the treehouse, where you can spend the night outdoors. The River House, decorated with African pieces, is equipped with luxuries that include super-king size beds, bathrooms with bush views, indoor and outdoor private showers, gas fireplaces, private decks, shaded gardens and your own private pool. You’ll see elephants, giraffe, hippopotamus, tigers, lions, leopards, impalas, zebras, cheetahs, rhinoceros and buffalo among others on the Madikwe Game Reserve. High season prices for the Morukuru River House are CAD$3,020 per night for four guests.

In between chatting with Relais & Chateaux representatives, my guest and I enjoyed a lovely white wine, as well as canapés that included Kobe beef, mini BLTs, mini pizza squares with a delicious maple essence and a beet, goat cheese and pear hors d’oeuvre in The Carlu’s breathtaking Round Room.

Ellen Gerchick is the Director of Luxury Sales for The Surrey in New York City. Gerchick advised us about The Surrey’s reputation as a quiet, luxury hotel overlooking Central Park and being within walking distance of New York’s Museum Mile. Deluxe salons include custom-designed beds by Duxiana, Sferra cotton linens, marble vanity, oversized desk, Samsung 37″ LCD TV, plush Italian robes and slippers, an iron and ironing board and Mitchell and Peach bath and body products. You can order a drink on the hotel’s private roof garden, which has spectacular views of the New York City skyline. The hotel’s Cafe Boulud is run by Michelin three star chef, Daniel Boulud.