Three Glee: Prague, Budapest & Istanbul

My partner Mark Zancanaro and I recently traveled to Prague, Budapest and Istanbul with our good friends Maureen Conlin, founding partner of Los Gatos Travel, and her daughter, Megan, the group sales manager at the Four Seasons East Palo Alto.

 

peter

Peter Carideo (far right) had the opportunity to take a hard-hat tour of The Rocco Forte Collection's Augustine Hotel, Prague, which opens May 14. He was accompanied by The Augustine Prague's Director of Sales Katerina Mojdlova (Middle) and Maureen Conlin of Los Gatos Travel.

 

 

Our journey began in Prague where we contracted our ground services through The Mosaic Group’s Natalie Nagy (natalie@mosaicgrouptravel.com). Upon our arrival at the Four Seasons Prague, I was thrilled to find I had been put in a one-bedroom suite, No. 331, overlooking the Vitava River.

We spent two days touring the city with our guide Slavka, who told us many great stories about the history of the city. Best of all, with her contacts, we never waited in any lines and had private access to areas normally off limits to tourists.

Make certain you read the pre-arrival information on suggested restaurants as there are many to choose from. We had lunch at Allegro at the Four Seasons, the only Michelin-star-rated restaurant in Prague. Sales Manager Britta Matthesius (britta.matthesius@fourseasons.com) joined us for lunch; she can be contacted with any questions.

 

bridge

Budapest's Chain Bridge over the Danube River quite literally leads to the doorstep of the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest.

 

 

Upon arrival in Budapest, we once again were met by our Mosaic representative and taken to our hotel, the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Budapest. We spent two full days with our Mosaic guide, Andrea, who mixed the city’s history with tales about her family and friends—a wonderful and personal way to learn more about her country. We had dinner at a new restaurant called Babel (www.babeldelicate.hu), whose killer-cool décor is matched by the food. Definitely try the tasting menu with the wine pairings.

At the hotel, Maureen had an amazing suite with a direct panoramic view of the Chain Bridge and Buda beyond. Note: Ask for suite No. 212; it has great light and very high ceilings. Also, spend some time in the rooftop spa, if you can. Petra Hauk (petra.hauk@fourseasons.com), the sales manager at the hotel, will be happy to show you around this truly wonderful property.

We were wise to choose Vanguard Travel Services as our provider in Istanbul; contact Managing Director Ferit Kayrak (feritk@vanguard-ts.com). From the moment we walked off the jet bridge they took charge. We were met by the Private Meet & Greet team and whisked away in an electric cart directly to the visa counter. Our passports were collected and our greeter went to the front of the line to obtain our visas while we waited in the cart. We could see the passport control line snaking interminably, but we bypassed the line entirely and entered a special VIP line that took two minutes, at most, to get through.

 

allegro

At Allegro Four Seasons Prague: Mark Zancanaro; Peter Carideo; the executive chef at Allegro, Andrea Accordi; Maureen Conlin and her daughter, Megan; and Four Seasons Prague's general manager, Davide Barnes.

 

 

Our bags collected, we were out the door and on our way to the Four Seasons Bosphorus where we were met by the sales manager for both Four Seasons properties in Turkey, Kemal Bayik (kemal.bayik@fourseasons.com), who gave us a brief tour of the hotel. Try and secure a Bosphorus View Suite (we had No. 2401), which has a lovely window box, the perfect spot to read and watch the world go by on the water below.

We spent the next few days touring and visiting the amazing sights Istanbul has to offer. Vanguard secured a private yacht for us to spend a morning cruising the Bosphorus and visiting the Asian side as well. One evening, they took us to La Reina, a wonderful nightclub. Ferit is also a member of the private club Angelique and can secure entry for those clients who may wish to visit. Tip: Do make a visit to the spa at the Four Seasons for an authentic Turkish bath; it is an experience you won’t soon forget.

On our last night, we moved to the Four Seasons Sultanahmet. Note: Early risers won’t need an alarm clock; the Blue Mosque is in close proximity to the hotel and the first public call to prayer comes very early. The location allows for great walking around the city and is minutes from the spice market as well. On departure, we again reserved Vanguard’s Private Meet & Greet service and were whisked through the airport to a lounge where we waited for our flight.

The service we experienced at every property was truly outstanding. I had wanted to experience these destinations the way I have been selling them for years: custom sightseeing every day, and the best hotels possible.