Part 1: Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
Sometimes first impressions are the ones we hold at heart, and the feeling I got from the plane window looking down on this colorful city set the stage for what I was about to experience.
ENTRANCE OF HOTEL
Upon exiting the customs hall in El Prat Airport, I see the all-so welcoming MO driver from which I received the most gracious welcome. First comment the driver makes "did you have a good flight sir, is there anything you need assistance with before departing the airport."(*UT)
That set the mood for a warm, sincere conversation during the journey to property. (*UT)
Reaching the hotel, we are greeted by three staff members one being the butler waiting to welcome me to the hotel.(*UT)
The Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is a unique boutique hotel in the heart of the city with an unconstrained, artistic tastefully appointed lobby. The lobby and street are integrated by a raised glass walkway that resembles a classic fashion show runway. (*UT) Wherever you look, there is a feeling of opulence and luxury in every corner of this hotel that gracefully extends to all the venues.
When passing the concierge desk, I receive a warm greeting from the whole team, and Franco, who I corresponded with prior to my arrival.(*UT) As we approach the elevator, I am greeted by Monica Homedes, the hotel Director of Communications who, while off duty and on her way home, graciously welcomed me to Barcelona and the hotel.(*UT).
With such a gracious wholehearted welcome from the team, how can you not be made to feel at home and unique!!
Checking-in to my room was swift effortless. The privacy of the room is luxuriously appointed, and has all the latest technology, a beautiful sitting area, an outdoor terrace, and a spa-like bathroom! (*UT) The bathroom had a vast amount of Acqua Di Parma toiletries, which is something I absolutely LOVE! (*UT).
Within minutes, the doorbell rings and in comes butler Jaime with a bottle of Cava as a welcome gift! In addition to the bottle, Jaime wields a Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries Filling and Chocolate Ganache. (*UT) It was so amazingly delicious, I can still taste it on my palate!
Since my flight had arrived early evening and the onset of jetlag was being felt, I decided to go for a stroll near the hotel. Once returning and now approaching ten in the evening, I asked Franco if the Michelle stared restaurant “MOMENTS” was still accepting guests. Before I could even finish my sentence, Franco walked me to the restaurant and introduced me to the maître di, where I was welcomed and seated immediately. (*UT)
You do need to understand this is a top-notch Catalan dining experience that consists of a 13-course wine pairing "Ecosystem" tasting menu. (*UT) This means it's a three-hour well-choreographed dining journey that would last past midnight.
After my eyes and palate experienced the art, colors, and tastes of the talented kitchen staff, I disembarked from “MOMENTS” knowing It was the best adventure my appetite had ever experienced. My sincere gratitude to the whole staff at Moments Restaurant, who went beyond the call of duty to accommodate one guest with all graciousness and smiles. (*UT)
EXPLORE THE CITY
The next two days I explored the city and absorbed as much as one can for such a short journey.
On my third day, I had requested a private guided tour but did not want to experience the city like a tourist. I wanted to experience the authentic, raw, and unfiltered Barcelona, just as a local would! Once again, I was reassured by the concierge team that they had the perfect guide in mind.
To my surprise, Tanja was EXCEPTIONAL (*UT). Tanja asked the right questions and made me feel as if we were two friends on a weekend stroll. Not only did we discuss the history, monuments, and attractions of Barcelona, but also the real facts of day to day life. We went to all the right places, I was never overly informed, but most importantly, nothing seemed choreographed.(*UT)
On one of the evenings, I was discussing with the concierge team about Catalan cuisine and how I wanted to try something that is produced locally.
The next day the doorbell rings again, and I see butler Klementyna and Jaime rolling in a tray with Catalan Cheese, locally raised and cured meats, and a bottle of Catalan Wine. (*UT) Klementya had overheard me in passing talking to the concierge team the other day and decided to surprise me! (*UT).
Now on to the to the world respected Mandarin Spa.
The Mandarin Spa is a serene environment in the heart of a busy city.
The receptionist offered me hot or cold tea, a scented damp warm face cloth, and a change of shoes to slippers(*UT). I was escorted to the changing rooms where, after a quick shower and a session in the luxurious steam room, I was introduced to my therapist, Ricardo.
Ricardo is an amazing therapist who is all about holistic healing. He is also a great personal trainer whose primary focus is your well-being. He believes everyone’s body is unique and does not have a cookie cutter approach to your training or massage session. (*UT) His thought process is clear: "treat your body well, and it will give you satisfaction for many years to come." Since this was a short trip, unfortunately, I was only able to spend a few hours at the spa for a 90-minute session, but I did enjoy the indoor pool, gym and spa facilities daily.
On one of the mornings when I decided to enjoy an "early" breakfast. (as it was difficult getting out of bed early because the room was tranquil and the beds were so comfortable) Breakfast was served at "BLANC", and I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting the mastermind behind this jewel property, General Manager Mr.Jorge Monje.(*UT)
Jorge's background as I came to find out is from South Asia. We shared many stories of our travels, and with that opportunity, I wanted to express my joy and experience at The Mandarin. I said, "Jorge, I have only experienced this type of sincere wholehearted hospitality from Asian hotels, and your staff surpassed many."
With a kind smile on his face, Jorge responds " it gives me great pride and honor to hear such great compliments from guests, as we strive to do our best and each of us have a common goal." My response was, "well you have all succeeded and delivered the best experience to date from any European hotel I've stayed in."
That evening I paid a visit to the Bankers Bar, indeed the most beautiful bar in Barcelona. It holds such a seductive atmosphere full of class, luxury, and a knowledgeable mixologist. (*UT)
On the morning of departure, while admiring the view from the entrance of the hotel, I see Jorge walking down the glass bridge to personally wish me a farewell and to thank me for visiting Barcelona and the hotel. (*UT)
Upon heading to the limo for transfer to airport, I am greeted by butler Klementyna to wish me an excellent continuation of my journey and if there were any last minute details that I needed help with before departing the hotel. (*UT)
As for the drive back to the airport, while discussing with the driver on what I experienced during my visit, I told him that I wanted to explore the waterfront area of Barcelona, but had no time. To my amazement, he drove me to the waterfront/port. (*UT) I was able to go for a short walk and take a few photos.
At that point, I promised myself to return for New Year's Eve as I most definitely need to explore more of this exciting city, culture and The Mandarin Oriental while at the same time saying hello again to a new friend Jorge.
I have to say this is one of my favorite MO Hotels. It is elegant, fresh, and full of energy! Staff included!
Goodbyes are never easy unless you reply with; "see you soon."
Part 2: New Years Eve - MO Barcelona
As I have always said, "Goodbyes are never easy unless you reply with, see you soon." And so, begins the journey back to Barcelona as promised for the holidays.
This city has so much to see and do that a third trip back is a must. As expected, we received the warmest & most sincere welcome back from the whole team of the Mandarin Oriental. (*UT)
We were escorted directly to our suite with Klementyna (our butler) where the check-in formalities were quickly processed. Upon entering the room, I noticed a few of my personal photos that were placed around the room, and I said to Klementyna " those are photos of me," Klementyna politely responds," Mr. Geragonis, we wanted to make you feel at home, so we placed a few of your photos around the room. (*UT) That is something that, to date, I have never experienced.
Every day we had a surprise of sweets waiting in our suite, but on one occasion there were these small treats that were white and had the shape of an oversized almond which I just loved(*UT). In the past, I mentioned to Klementyna that I so enjoyed those sweets. Well, within a few hours, a bowl of those was in the room! (*UT)
After a restful sleep, the next morning I had the pleasure of sitting down with my friend and GM of the property Mr. Jorge Monje. The staff remembered my coffee, breakfast, and seating preference. (*UT)
With thoughtful recommendations from the talented concierge team, we set out to explore Barcelona -The Montserrat monastery and the fantastic 3 countries in one day tour(Baga', Andora, Aux-Les-Thermes) (*UT) in the outskirts of the city which were not explored during my visit in October.
That evening we journeyed out for a late dinner to one of my favorite restaurants in Barcelona " Bar Canete"(will post a separate review). This place is a show stopper, and a must experience for all foodies.
On the evening of the 31st, we were surprised with my favorite MO cake and a bottle of Cava to start the evening festivities and celebration.(*UT) Prior to our arrival, we had selected to experience New Year's Eve with our friends at the elegant hotel restaurant "BLANC."
The theme for the evening was Gatsby; the restaurant was transformed so elegantly to that era with live music, great decorations, and models which were hired exclusively to add real ambiance (*UT). The menu for the evening was presented with wine pairing that lasted until past midnight -it was a journey for your palate that will most definitely be remembered throughout 2018.(*UT)
Unfortunately, another journey has come to an end.
I started off the new year with such a grand adventure that I will compare all others going forward with this experience. The MO Barcelona is an exceptionally orchestrated property throughout- most importantly they are genuine and sincere.
Jorge and Andre' you are both a fantastic duo that leads a tremendously talented team.
I wish you again a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year- Cheers!
I will provide photos and videos of this journey and a link to property for anyone wishing to experience the adventure.
As you will notice I'm using (*UT) throughout my writing as to express my personal feelings with my experience during a given journey. Because I consider myself a global citizen and a seasoned traveler who has an eye for fine details in life, I have created this check and balance to give recognition and credit where deserved.
Uniquely the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona touched me wholeheartedly numerous times and received 36 UNIQUE TOUCH stars * from Rome H Geragonis- LOVE IT!
Visit the Mandarin Oriental website NOW!
Additional Photos and Videos: