Oetker Collection, newest arrival in Italy is a sparkling diamond perched on the rock of Capri. Many of our chic travelers have camped at their Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, this recent siren song of the Mediterranean will make Capri a hotspot again!
In a stunning renovation led by internationally acclaimed designer Francis Sultana, in his first ever hotel project, Hotel La Palma has been designed to be an inviting home away from home. Sultana deftly captured Capri’s beautiful lightness and minimalism while injecting flair and flourishes in a nod to the island’s 1950s jet-set era. Pale rooms in white hues and a heavenly blue, dashes of the original subtle green. Fifty rooms, including 18 suites, each with a private terrace or balcony overlooking a picturesque view of Capri.
Few locations are as synonymous with chic summertime glam, glitterati and natural beauty as Capri. Just the sapphire sea arrival sets the stage, the port is packed with super yachts, a desirable destination. My skipper and I voyaged around the limestone cliffs adorned with staggering stalactites dangling from the high reaching caverns, buzz by the stunning natural Faraglioni rocks jutting out from the deep sapphire sea.
The island gem is home to two primary towns quiet Anacapri and the more bustling Capri. La Palma is conveniently set near Piazza Umberto I square also known as the Piazzetta.
Much-loved Italian chef Gennaro Esposito is at helm of Hotel La Palma’s kitchens. A simple, stylish step back in time to the Capri of the 1950s, Gennaro’s restaurant embraces the timeless romance of the island, serving unpretentious, authentic Italian cuisine. Bianca, a glamorous, newly built rooftop restaurant, and bar open for dinner, offers spectacular views over Capri Village and the sea in the distance. Paying homage to the ‘classic Capri’ of the golden age, Hotel La Palma’s newly built pool deck and Aqua Bar offer the best seat in town to watch the world go by below.
Located in the beating heart of Capri, just steps from the famous Piazzetta, Hotel La Palma is perfectly positioned for guests to visit some of the most notable sites of Capri: I Giardini di Augusto, Via Krupp, La Certosa and the iconic Faraglioni.
Originally opened in 1822, Hotel La Palma – formerly known as Locanda Pagano – is the oldest hotel on Capri. The original owner, notary Giuseppe Pagano, hosted travellers in his villa for the pleasure of long conversations and often, his guests were artists, poets, writers, architects, painters, and musicians, all who showed their gratitude by painting the walls, writing poems, singing, and playing in what was dubbed the ‘Artists’ Hotel.
Located on the main walkway, setback for the best people watching during lunch, near the leafy Piazzetta, the property is a lush outpost with a jazzy rooftop restaurant and bar, a roof top pool deck, its own beach club, and a fabulous chic spa.
I arrived early to wander the pathways, IMHO, Capri is best visited in early summer or late summer. Cruise ship visits, which should be banned, pack the narrow streets with people who break for gelato and the tchotchke filled shops near the port, It felt a bit overrun in July.
The aftermath of the September 8 earthquake in Morocco has flooded me with memories and contemplation of what this endearing country has meant to me over the last few years. My days since include connecting to my beloved hoteliers and our teams. Many colleagues were in Marrakech for an annual travel conference, they shared photos, locations for donating blood, providing updates on our favorite hotels in the Atlas Mountains, which seem to be the worst hit region at the epicenter. From Kasbah Tamadot, our clients love to hike through the Atlas Mountains with the locals and stop in villages for a meal. Spending a few hours in the surroundings of the High Atlas Mountains in a uniquely traditional way with one of the properties resident mules. Passing the eucalyptus and olive groves, the path takes a a gentle ascent into a nearby village with its traditional Berber homes. A great way to experience the local culture, the hotel staff come from these villages, the hardest hit area of the earthquake.
It has been a time of responding to the many clients who have reached out asking if Mustapha, our favorite VIP Client liaison is ok, is his family ok? I’ve always known Mustapha was a gem, who finds champagne in the Sahara, is my usual anecdote of his many talents. When your clients reach out long after their Journeys, it’s a testament to the nature of our dear clients, and the caring people who manage our clients in foreign countries.
The outpouring of love and support has been heartwarming.
Many have asked how can we help?Mustapha’s home survived, his parents whose farm is in a small village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, lost two rooms. I was welcomed into his parents’ humble home for tea, which translated to an impromptu feast of home-grown dates, walnuts, and mint tea. Mustapha thought it unusual that I was so excited to be included – Mustapha, no one invites me in for tea in Spain, France, etc.
Many of Morocco’s buildings and mosques date from the 12th Century, most of the small countryside villages we pass through don’t look as if they could withstand a drenching rain storm, let alone an earthquake of this magnitude. The ancient culture is what I find most compelling, age old tanneries in Fez still function as a part of their every day life. One of my favorite photos was taken near the Draa Valley, famous as the date basket of Morocco, two women hauling hay with their mules, their brick home looked precarious on the steep hillside. These are typical homes all over Morocco.
Moroccan people are warm, welcoming, and extremely generous, even more so in modest communities. Never say No to Tea and be prepared to be embraced and well fed! One of the wait staff at Dar Ahlam walked me through his tiny village and took me to his home for tea. His wife and child spoke no English, and I no Arabic- but like the love fest with Mustapha’s mum and Auntie, we communicated.
Another chance encounter where I was warmly welcomed was a lunch visit at the glorious riad Jnane Tamsna owned and run by Merryanne Loum-Martin and her American husband Gary Martin. Within minutes of sharing our mutual friends, we were embraced as instant friends and lingered at their beautiful property for lunch, and I’ve subsequently spent impromptu days in Paris with Merryanne when the Moroccan borders were shut down during the pandemic and stayed at Jname Tamsna, their stunning oasis hotel property on the fringes of Marrakech.
How to help on a direct level? Gary Martin, a cultural anthropologist, and ethnobotanist is founder of the Global Diversity Foundation. He was a lecturer in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent from 1998 to 2011 and a Fellow of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society from 2010 to 2012. Twice a Fulbright scholar, Gary has a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree in botany. His applied research and teaching on conservation and ethnobotany has taken him to more than 50 countries over the last 30 years.
Their hotel property Jnane Tamsna is 70 km from the epicenter, he mentions that the length and intensity felt worse than an 8.0 earthquake he lived through in Mexico in 1985. There is immense loss of life and livelihoods in the High Atlas villages where they work, especially in the Ouirgane Valley, from where they are receiving reports of many fatalities and homes destroyed.
Global Diversity Foundation has established a Morocco High Atlas Earthquake Relief Fund. Global Diversity Foundation, which has been working in the High Atlas for more than a decade, is directly assisting High Atlas communities. Given our deep ties with the region, we are working on the ground with our Moroccan partners to address the most urgent needs including emergency medical services, food, water, shelter, and transport. We are committed to continue our support to assist communities with their long-term recovery.
Over 2,000 lives have been lost and countless homes, shops and other buildings have been destroyed. Displaced people in High Atlas communities need urgent assistance including clothing, food, shelter, and water. Over the long term, these communities will need to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. The emergency needs will go on way after Marrakech does not make the headlines anymore. These emergency needs will then morph into rebuilding needs while being very active on conservation and green and sustainable means.
Global Diversity Foundation has supported resilience of traditional livelihoods in the High Atlas for over a decade. Once the urgent aid work is over, we will use funds to help families rebuild their homes, incorporating earthquake-resistant construction techniques, and re-establish their traditional ways of living and working. Our approach is community-led and prioritises their pressing needs over the coming months to ensure that people’s lives and livelihoods are rehabilitated as soon as possible.