Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay

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Gardens By The Bay, a unique garden located on 101 hectares of reclaimed land, is truly a sight to behold.  The magnificent supertrees, vertical gardens that are 25 metres tall, that now form part of the Singapore cityscape remind me of infrastructure that only Steven Spielberg could dream up.  But this is Singapore and here, we make the impossible –  possible.

A visit to Gardens By The Bay is a must for both locals and visitors alike and so, I, dressed in my comfortable walking attire, paid a visit myself.

I started my time at Gardens By The Bay at the Flower Dome.  One of two giant greenhouses, the Flower Dome replicates the cool Mediterranean climate making it conducive for the growth of plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions.  The moment I entered the Flower Dome I felt I had entered another world.  Flowers and plants with vivid, vibrant colours filled the dome.  In addition to a wide array of flowers, the dome also housed unique shaped Baobab and Bottle trees.   I appreciated the emphasis placed on design and aesthetics as there were strategically placed sculptures and statues, giving more meaning to the display. Gardens2b

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After the Flower Dome, I spent some time in Cloud Forest.   Just as I entered, I came up close with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall!  The waterfall, which forms part of a 35-metre man-made mountain covered with lush vegetation was truly a sight to behold.  My walk through the “mountain” was very interesting because each level brought a different climate and different plants.  I especially loved seeing pitcher plants and the venus fly trapDid you know that these are carnivorous plants?  Yes they trap and eat insects!

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When evening came, I decided to spend my time at the Supertree Grove.  My favourite parts of the Supertree Grove was the OCBC Skyway, a 128 metre long walkway with a height of 22 metres, that connects two Supertrees and the OCBC Garden Rhapsody.  The walkway gave me a full view of the Gardens and the Marina Bay skyline.   I waited until 7:45 pm for the OCBC Garden Rhapsody, which was a marvelous spectacle of light and sound.

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To appreciate the gardens in all its glory, I suggest visiting it in the evening at around 5:00 pm.  This way you can enjoy the gardens in daylight and then take in the magic during the OCBC Garden Rhapsody, light and music show.

Another tip — While you may be tempted to take out your camera to snap as many pictures as possible, I suggest that you put it away for a while, and enjoy the plants and flowers in their full beauty, not through the rectangular confines of a viewfinder.

Gardens By The Bay is an easy 15-minute car ride from Capella Singapore.  Our Personal Assistants will be able to help with guided tours and booking of tickets.  You can email the Personal Assistants at pa.singapore@capellahotels.com or call them at +65 6591 5034/35.

A Visit to the Magical Espiritu Santo Island

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Espiritu Santo Island is a hidden, uninhabited gem, in Baja California Sur, Mexico.  It is located about 1 hour boat drive from the capital of Baja, La Paz, which is 2.5 hours away from Capella Pedregal and Cabo San Lucas.  This Unesco-protected natural reserve is a place where nature, peace and tranquility prevail.

Here, you can literally unplug and take a break from it all.  There is no phone signal, no internet connection and no electricity.  Perfection!  Instead, the activities on Espiritu Santo Island take you outside.  From swimming with sea lions (the island is a home to a colony of around 300 sea lions), to stand up paddle boarding in some of the most amazing turquoise bays, to kayaking and watching dolphins and manta rays jump out of the water right in front of you, to witnessing amazing sunsets and starry nights, chance are you won’t even miss your electronics!

I like the island so much that I’ve made it my traditional birthday getaway.  Every July we drive from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz (two hour drive with amazing desert scenery) and park at Tecolote beach, which is looking straight at the island.  From there we rent a panga to take to the island.  The captain can give you a tour around the island (don’t forget your sunblock and a camera).  I like to book a campsite and stay for a few days, but I also highly recommend the visit to the island as a day trip.

Every time I visit, sky-high red cliffs, windblown sand dunes, picture-perfect turquoise bays and wildlife blow me away.  It almost feels like I am Robinson Crusoe on my own private island.  It is so beautiful and pristine, it will make you fall in love and come visit again and again.  I promise!

If you are interested in visiting the island during your next Cabo visit, by all means, ask your Capella Pedregal Personal Assistant to help plan it.

El Chef Johnny Iuzzini sobre “A Taste Of Capella”

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Falta menos de un mes para nuestro Food & Wine Festival en Capella Pedregal, y a mi ya se me eriza la piel cuando pienso en todas las delicias culinarias y diversión que tendremos ¡este Julio! Habrá suficiente para satisfacer los más exigentes paladares de los amantes de la buena comida y el buen vino –ya sea la cocina estilo “parrilla y ahumada” del Chef Kent Rathbun, los deliciosos cortes de Kevin Rathbun, la alta cocina mexicana con el toque contemporáneo del Chef Marco Bustamante de Capella Pedregal, o algunos de los ingeniosos postres del Chef Johnny Iuzzini.

El Chef Johnny Iuzzini me dio un adelanto de sus actividades y lo que nos tendrá preparado para el próximo Food & Wine Festival, y desde ahora cuento los días para poder saborear algunas de sus deliciosas creaciones.

Hola Johnny, me da mucho gusto que nos acompañes en el próximo Food & Wine Festival de Capella Pedregal. Me puedes decir ¿que deberían esperar del evento los asistentes al festival?
Estoy muy emocionado de haber sido invitado y estoy planeando hacer una demostración de repostería moderna así como también preparar unos postres con mucho sabor para otros dos eventos dentro del festival. Creo que los asistentes deben de intentar probar toda la maravillosa comida de estos Chefs tan talentosos así como pasar tiempo con nosotros y hablar de comida, vinos y ¡de la vida en general!

¿Cuál es la parte del evento que más esperas?
Nunca he estado en Cabo así que estoy emocionado por probar la oferta gastronómica local así como platicar con algunos de los chefs locales para aprender más de la cultura y los sabores de la región.

¿Cómo describirías tu cocina?
Soy un Chef de repostería moderna Americana con un sólido fundamento en la repostería Francesa. Me gusta realizar postres que no son muy dulces, y muchas veces utilizo vegetales para ello.
¿De dónde y cómo obtienes inspiración para crear nuevos platillos?
Soy un tipo al que le gusta hacer las cosas con mis propias manos. Cuando estoy trabajando en un nuevo platillo normalmente me concentro en un ingrediente y desde ahí comienzo a construir con otros ingredientes que complementen y contrasten el ingrediente original. Siempre busco integrar las texturas también.

¿Cuál es tu ingrediente favorito para cocinar? Utilizas alguna especia o ingredientes  mexicanos en tu cocina diaria?
Me encanta cocinar utilizando frutos bastante maduros en mis postres. Dicho esto, soy un tipo serio en lo que a chocolate se refiere. Siempre estoy buscando nuevos ingredientes con los cuales no estoy familiarizado y trato de utilizarlo en mis platillos. Me gusta utilizar el chipotle, el chile piquín y la jícama.

¿Te gusta la comida mexicana? Si así es, ¿cuál es tu platillo favorito?
Me encanta la comida mexicana. Soy un tipo al que le encantan las texturas así que me gustan los platillos con conchas o cubiertas crujientes cocinados con vegetales frescos. Tengo una pequeña tolerancia a lo caliente, así que me mantengo alejado de las cosas súper picantes.
¿Preparas algún platillo con influencia mexicana?
Siempre tengo alguna versión de flan, también me gusta realizar mi propia versión del pastel “tres leches”, que tal vez es, mi postre mexicano favorito.

¿Has estado anteriormente en México?
Esta será mi primera ocasión en Cabo San Lucas. He estado anteriormente en Cozumel, Cancún y otro par de sitios. He escuchado tanto sobre Cabo y las fotografías son siempre espectaculares, así que no puedo esperar más para estar ahí. Soy buzo, así que voy a intentar también ir a realizar algunas inmersiones en Cabo.

 

P.D. Si quieres saber más sobre el próximo Food & Wine Festival, puedes obtener más información y realizar reservaciones aquí: http://www.capellahotels.com/cabosanlucas/food-and-wine-festival-,dining_viewItem_43-es.html  Espero verlos ahí!

2012 General Manager’s Meeting

The Capella General Managers and much of the Corporate Team.

One of the things that makes Capella unique is our culture.  And to make sure that our culture remains common, we have the Canon Card to remind us of our basic tenants and beliefs.  That, in conjunction with our daily lineup, helps to ensure that each Capella property is making the same commitment day in and day out.  Of course at the property level, this commitment is passed down from the General Manager to the rest of the Capella family.

The Capella General Managers and much of the Corporate Team. 

This past week the General Managers had the opportunity to come together.  I was lucky enough to be included in on these meetings and thought I would give you an idea of what takes place during them.

The General Managers Meeting is a time of alignment.  In addition to each properties GM, members from the Corporate Offices meet together to discuss company philosophies, standards, goals and much more.  It is a time to discuss the systems that are created to fulfill guests’ desires.

I love hearing stories from each of the properties and seeing how there is a real give and take between everyone present.  As Vice President of Sales, Mr. Kit Pappas observed, “Have a problem?  I guarantee that another hotel has faced and solved that same issue.  All you have to do is ask!”

Isiah Thomas surprises the General Managers with some inspiration.

Another highlight from the conference was a surprise visit from basketball legend Isiah Thomas.  We were all excited to be in the presence of basketball greatness!  For me, Mr. Thomas’ emphasis on knowing our tenants and allowing them to guide every action was particularly poignant.

At the end of the week I asked our Chairman, Mr. Horst Schulze, what he took away from the meeting.  His answer, “Based on our customer and employee satisfaction and the commitment of our leadership, it is clear that we are on the way to becoming the global leader in the hospitality industry.”  Clearly, it was a very successful meeting!

 

Capella’s Canon Card

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If you’ve had a chance to visit the About Us page here on the Capella blog, then you may have read our Zeitgeist.  But did you know this is only one element of our Canon Card?

In addition to our Zeitgeist, the Canon Card also contains Capella Hotels & Resorts mission statement, service standards and the canon itself.  Not only does every employee have access to the card, but it is also something that is considered part of our uniform. That’s right, regardless of title every member of the Capella team is expected to carry a Canon Card.

The Card is exactly that, a card with eight faces that folds up to the size of a business card.  The Canon is our law.  It aligns each of us behind the philosophy that is Capella and is an integral part of our philosophy.  This system speaks to our integrity and our value systems.  It is so central that at every property and even here in the corporate offices, we begin every shift with a meeting where an element of the card is discussed.  This is an opportunity to be continually reminded of who we are and what is expected of us.

I love the practice of lineup as well as the card, because they are a reminder that we all share a common goal and a road map for how to achieve it.  I am just as connected to a dishwasher at Capella Singapore as I am to an executive assistant at Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel—even though I am based out of our corporate office in Atlanta, Georgia!  We all have ownership in making sure that the services we provide are unmatched.

I wanted to share the Canon Card so that everyone could get a better idea of what it means to be part of this team.

 It is difficult to read the Canon Card here, but I do intend to discuss some of the elements in the future, However, if you would like to have your own copy please let me know in the comments below and I will email it to you!

A View From Capella Sochi

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In my last post I shared details from the upcoming Capella Georgetown.  But working at our Corporate offices, I can assure you that this is only one of several exciting projects currently under way.  One such property is the upcoming Capella Sochi, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2014 Olympics in Russia.

In between one of his many trips, Fausto Barba, Vice President of Finance & Development, shared with me his impression of this unique location.

“I first visited the site in late October 2009.  We landed at midnight on a Friday, and took a taxicab through the mountains.  We made plans to see the site the next morning at first light.

The hotel is located near some of the sites for Olympic ski events and will be a true ski-in and ski-out resort.  In the summer the resort village will be home to a world-class equestrian center and several outdoor activities.  And  there will be an amazing spa!  Of course, at the time of our visit this was nothing more than a set of plans.

The next morning, when we finally had an opportunity to look out on the site, it took my breath away.  The views in every direction are spectacular.  It is the quintessential mountain village!”

At that point Fausto took out his phone and shared some of the images he had taken that day.  One was so beautiful, that I had to share it with you:

Are you a fan of the Winter Olympics?  What do you think of the view from the new Capella Sochi?