Moscow on the Move

 

Red Square
A View of Red Square. The State Historical Museum stands in the background.

 

We hear that The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow still stands as the top hotel in Moscow (its O2 Lounge was one of three nominees in the “best hotel bar worldwide” category for Luxury Travel Advisor’s 2009 Awards of Excellence). The hotel, which opened in 2007 and ushered in a renaissance for luxury hotel development in the capital, is near Red Square and the Kremlin, on the city’s main avenue—Tverskaya Street. The Bolshoi Theatre, Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow’s numerous other theaters and cultural venues, and the GUM and TSUM shopping centers are all within a short walk.

Now, normally, Luxury Travel Advisor is perfectly happy with some scrambled eggs and a side of bacon for breakfast. The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, however, goes above and beyond with its option of a $3,000-per-couple Tsar’s Breakfast, which includes a bottle of Cristal champagne; Kobe beef steak with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and truffle omelet; foie gras Au Torchon with caramelized apple and pain brioche; selection of imported Italian prosciutto and cheese; Beluga caviar with blinis, sour cream and quail eggs; and seasonal fruits, pastries, freshly squeezed juices and hot beverages.

To go along with such a meal, we say clients should opt for no less than the 2,550-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Suite. Top View: Floor-to-ceiling windows face the Kremlin, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The suite is decorated in Russian imperial style and boasts a grand piano and private sauna. Insider Secret: While the Ritz-Carlton Suite is being billed as the top accommodation, our source says the Club Level rooms are a force to be reckoned with. Be sure to ask for one of the four that have extra- ordinary views of Red Square and the Kremlin. Want in? Luxury travel advisors can contact Director of Travel Industry Sales Katya Sowa (katya.sowa@ritzcarlton.com; 011-749-5225-8888).

Hot Spot: The rooftop O2 Lounge is enclosed by a glass dome that provides spectacular views of Red Square. Its black-tile floor, red velvet cocoon chairs and white leather furnishings make this club one of the more electric after-hours spots in Moscow.

 

InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya’s rooms
InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya’s rooms will have glass walls between the bathroom and bedroom.

 

After a night of conviviality, you’ll want to detox at the hotel’s ESPA. Ask Spa Manager Alla Kosik (alla.kosik@ritzcarlton.com) about the Infinite Brightening Age Defyer Facial—a hydrating face pack is combined with skin brightener to even out skin tone. Note: The essential body massage is also a top treatment.

When you are back to your normal self, ask Guest Services Director Sherif Kashif (sherif.kashif@ritzcarlton.com) to arange a tour of Star City, where cosmonauts train for space trips.

The Lotte Hotel Moscow is set to open this summer near Arbat, the famous pedestrian street in the historical center of the city. The property, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, is the creation of South Korea’s Lotte Hotels & Resorts. The top suites are the Presidential Suite and Royal Suite, both, we hear, designed specifically to host foreign royalty and state envoys. The Royal Suite is being dubbed “Moscow’s largest,” with meeting space for up to 14 people and a winter garden. Amenities include whirlpool bath, two shower rooms and two separate vanity units, sauna, massage room, Bechstein piano and a private kitchen. Top Security: The suite has bulletproof windows. Note: To house your client’s entourage, the suite can be connected to a Deluxe Room. We are big fans of the hotel’s Atrium Rooms, each with a private terrace overlooking the property’s patio consisting of a picturesque pond and winter garden.

The hotel is bringing in a taste of Japan via New York with an outpost of MEGU, complete with an exact replica of a bonsho bell suspended from the ceiling. Michelin three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire’s Les Menus complements MEGU on the hotel’s second floor (think classic French cuisine with a modern twist).

 

A suite at the Lotte Hotel Moscow
A suite at the Lotte Hotel Moscow. The hotel is set to open this summer near Arbat.

 

On the radar: A string of hotels will make their debut in Moscow, including the Mandarin Oriental, Moscow, slated for a 2011 opening. The hotel, a former 19th-century private manor house, will be on Tverskaya Road—Moscow’s equivalent to London’s Oxford Street—and will retain two of the original facades. Guests will check in at sky lobby level. A nine-level atrium will also rise from the ground level and end as a specialty restaurant overlooking Red Square.

We also hear that in 2012, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will open on the top floors of a 42-story tower in the Park Huaming Business Centre, six miles from Red Square. Each room will have views of the Centre’s Chinese landscaped gardens or the adjacent Botanical Gardens. Meanwhile, InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya opens in May 2011 on the site of the former Minsk Hotel. It will anchor a new 700,000-square-foot development, which will include luxury retail outlets. Guest rooms will have hardwood parquet flooring and glass walls between bathroom and bedroom. The Presidential Suite will be on the 12th floor. Can’t wait for the opening? Follow the hotel’s progress via its Facebook page, which is updated continually with new photos and information. 

Advisor Insight:

Nadia Jastrjembskaia of Aurora Cruises & Travel in Port St. Lucie, FL, says that “When introducing the idea of vacationing and exploring Russia to my clients, many seem to have the idea that Russia’s points of interest are only around the Kremlin and Red Square. Yet among these sites lie many more cultural and natural sources as recognized all over the world, even by UNESCO.

“Every part of Moscow has its own character and history; so many parts need to be visited, so prepare to walk. I recommend visiting the Kremlin, the biggest fort in Europe that is still in use, and then make your way over to the Armory as well as the Diamond Treasury. This tour boasts some of the biggest and most beautifully decorated pieces such as the Tsar Bell, a 20-foot bronze bell saved during a fire in Moscow, as well as the 190-carat Orlov Diamond.

“Churches and monasteries in and around Moscow are a must-see, mostly for their attention to detail and size, including Vozneseniya, Novodevichy Convent and, of course, St. Basil’s. Monasteries have always been a focal point in the culture of Moscow, thus, most are well-preserved. When suggesting sites to see to my clients traveling to Moscow, I always ask them to take the time to visit the outskirts of the busy city. Sergiyev Posad, better known as the Holy Trinity, is not to be missed.”

Expert Advice:

Greg Tepper, president of Exeter International, which specializes in travel to Russia, knows Moscow like the back of his hand. “When I arrive in Moscow (and I try hard to arrive at the newly rebuilt Domodedevo Airport and not SVO), I usually make my way to my favorite hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow. If I’m fortunate, I unpack in a Club Room with sweeping views of Red Square and the Kremlin. Then, nothing beats jetlag better than a massage at the ESPA downstairs.

“After a quick drink at the cool Chapurin Bar, above one of the chicest fashion boutiques in the city, I usually look for Georgian food. Hot Kachipuri (cheesy bread), grilled chicken, lentils and fresh vegetables are perfect for the atmosphere, especially after a long flight; I prefer Genatsvale on the Arbat.

 

Greg Tepper
Greg Tepper in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral.

 

“One of my favorite museums in Moscow is the Museum of Contemporary History. This rarely visited museum is housed in the former English Club of Moscow, which itself is fascinating. The collection spans Russian history from Nicholas II through to today and features some extraordinary pieces: a collection of Soviet porcelain, personal items of Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev, a recreated Soviet apartment, World War II artifacts and more. It is always missed by the average tourist and you need a great guide who can explain the exhibits (the museum’s guides don’t speak English, so if you don’t understand Russian, you will need your own guide).

“I also love The Palace of the Romanov Boyars near Red Square. This is the former residence of the very first Romanov, Mikhail, built in 1613. The details include mica glass windows, ancient hardwood floors and leather wallpaper. This palace truly takes you back in time to an era that is often forgotten in Russia.

“While the main stage of the Bolshoi Theatre is still closed (and may remain so for years, even after spending a reported $1 billion), the New Stage is next door and the same Bolshoi company performs there. If there’s a good opera, ballet or symphonic performance, I take front-row Belle Etage seats. And, if I am exceptionally lucky, I see the rarely performed Fountain of Bakhchisarai ballet, the most over-the-top Russian ballet performance in the repertoire.”

 

Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton Suite
The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton Suite has a private sauna and faces the Kremlin and Red Square.