Tag Archives: carnival of venice

Venice’s Fabulous Hotel Danieli and my SPG Experience

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I know I’ve already written a little about the extraordinary Hotel Danieli from our first visit there in 2004 (click here if you want to read it), but I thought I’d do an update from our recent visit during Carnevale 2015!  It’s nice to know that things have not changed at this hotel – they are still as wonderful as they were 10 years ago!  The only thing that I noticed changed is that they have gone to an electronic key system. Funny enough, though, is that they have kept the old fashioned tassle on the key!  You still turn in your key with the concierge when you leave (unless you don’t mind carrying around a huge bulky tassled key with you!) and they put it on the little peg board they have behind the desk!  It’s still so old fashioned that way!  And after 5 days of staying with them, I didn’t have to tell them my room number anymore when we came back into the hotel after our walks about town – they knew it!

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It’s great customer service when you feel like a hotel really pays attention to their guests and makes them feel so much at home!

Upon check-in, we found a bottle of prosecco in our room – a wonderful treat to make us feel so welcome!

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And then on my birthday, which I celebrated while in Venice, they sent me a beautiful chocolate cake!

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At first, I thought someone from my family may have ordered it delivered, but when I couldn’t find a card with it, I went and asked the concierge.  When I told him it was my birthday, he came out from behind the desk and gave me a big hug and kiss!  And then he happily told me that the hotel had sent it!  What a nice surprise!

We spent a lot more time using the facilities at the hotel on this visit – so much more than we did back in 2004!  Probably because we weren’t travelling with young kids 🙂  At every single moment, the service was exceptional.  We ended up having Aperol spritz’ in the lobby every afternoon and breakfast in the beautiful terrace restaurant every morning!  The views from the terrace are absolutely stunning!

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Too bad it was February, otherwise we would have definitely sat outside every morning and every night taking it all in.  Despite that, we were still able to go out to enjoy the terrace’s views – they are gorgeous and so magical!  It’s as if you are looking at Venice from a bird’s eye view!

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The hotel was beautifully decorated for Carnevale with fresh flowers and masks everywhere!

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And so many people were milling around in costumes – it’s as if they had stepped out of a history book!

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Amidst the antique and elegant surroundings, it felt as if we had walked back into 15th century Venice.  Wearing the attire helped 🙂

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The Hotel Danieli is definitely a very unique and stately hotel.  It is one of Venice’s finest, and because of that, it is quite pricey if you have to pay for a room.  But luckily, we paid absolutely nothing for our 5 night stay there!  You’re probably wondering how we did that!  I am going to let you in on the absolute BEST credit card loyalty program I have ever been a part of!  No, I don’t work for this program – I am only a BIG fan!  They really know how to treat those that are loyal to them with exceptional perks at their hotels!  I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and this program definitely deserves my praises.  They go above and beyond in customer service!  Sadly, we experience so little of that these days that when one finds someone that is running their business as it should be, it needs to be complimented and promoted!  The program is called SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) and it is affiliated with American Express.

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You get points by charging things on your AMEX card, and then you trade those points in for nights at Starwood Hotels (you can trade them in for other things, like flights, but I find that the hotel points are the best value).  The Starwood umbrella includes many brands:  Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton, W and Luxury (and many subsets of these!).  The hotels are found all over the world, and I have to say that we have expanded our travels so much more after becoming members back in 2003.  We have stayed at places (like the Hotel Danieli) that we probably would never have experienced if not members of this program.  It has also made our lives more spontaneous – we live fairly close to San Francisco and have, on more than one occasion, decided to stay overnight in SF on a whim (sometimes without even packing overnight bags and toothbrushes!).  I know that we would never have done this if we didn’t have the points to stay in a great hotel!  Not only can you experience staying in these beautiful hotels for free as soon as you have enough points for an eligible night, but you are handsomely rewarded for being loyal customers!  We have been members for quite a while, and because we use their hotels quite a bit, we have been promoted to Platinum status and have become eligible for suite upgrades.  At this level, even more benefits open up.  For instance, we get free internet and free breakfast every day of our stay.

During this particular stay at the Hotel Danieli, our breakfast, in the beautiful terrace restaurant, would have cost us 50 Euros per person per day. Instead, we got it complimentary!  And, as an added bonus, we were upgraded to a suite for our entire 5 night stay.

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We had a living room, which was decorated with fresh flowers every day, a lovely bedroom, a foyer with a vanity table, and a gorgeous marble bathroom!

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But the best part of our suite was the spectacular view of Venice’s main canal!  Every morning, when we opened the shutters, we were greeted by the sight of gondolas and an unobstructed view of San Giorgio Maggiore…it was just like living a dream.

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If you are interested in exploring this SPG card and all its benefits, here is the link!  If you do sign up, let them know that Barbara Rindge sent you (yes, I’ll get some points for the referral and I’ll greatly thank you!).  But really, I’m not doing it for the points – I truly believe they are a great loyalty program!

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Enjoying our daily Aperol Spritz!

Carnevale di Venezia 2015 – Checking One More Off the Bucket List

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Yes, we finally made it!  We’ve been wanting to go to the Carnevale di Venezia for a few years now, but something always got in the way.  This year, though, we DID IT!  And it was everything, plus so much more than we thought it would be!  I can only say that if you get the opportunity to visit Venice during this very special time, you have to do it.  You will not be disappointed!

This year’s Carnevale season began on Jan. 31st and ended on “martedi grasso”, or Fat Tuesday, on Feb. 17th.  We arrived in Venice on Feb. 13th, stayed until Feb. 18th, and were able to experience the last, and most eventful, weekend of the Carnevale season.  Venice was very crowded during the day, with lots of people gawking at the sights and at the “professional” carnival costume wearers!

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I call them “professional” because I think they must be actors or models – whenever you ask them to take a picture, they strike a beautiful pose!  Some are even escorted by photographers!

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The costumes were sensational, with my favorites being the ones whose faces were covered entirely by the masks.

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To my surprise, though, the nights were fairly empty.  This made for an other-worldly feeling.  I felt like I was walking back into time experiencing Venice just like it was hundreds of years ago!

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Venice takes on a completely different atmosphere at night, when it’s quiet.  The lighting of the piazzzas and churches is magical and very romantic, and walking the streets of the original city that has so many reproductions (like the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas) is truly an amazing feeling!

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While there, we decided to take in a masquerade ball!  Yes, everything about this event was expensive – from the rental of the costumes (which you must have if you attend a ball) to the actual cost of the ball, but it was definitely worth it.  As my husband pointed out, we’ll probably never go to another one of these again, so we should experience it to the fullest!  The best part of the masquerade ball was being able to go inside one of the private palazzos of Venice to see it’s splendor.  The ball we attended was the Mascheranda Ball and it was held in the Palazzo Pisani Moretta.

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This palace was originally built in the 15th century, renovated during the 18th century, and decorated by famed Venetian artists such as Tiepolo, Guarana, Diziani and Angeli.   We arrived by water taxi and were greeted by some elegant majordomos before being escorted into the lower level of the palazzo for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and some entertainment by acrobats and dancers.

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Dinner was served on the second level in two beautifully decorated salons with paintings and frescoes on the ceilings and on the walls.

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Dancing came at the end with classical dancing in the dining salons and a “disco” on the lower level.  Seeing all of us dancing to modern music all dressed up in our Renaissance garb was quite a site to see!

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The event was well worth the money, only that the food was mediocre at best.  Too bad, but I guess that was a small price to pay for the experience!  After the ball, we decided to walk back to our hotel near the Piazza San Marco (about a half hour walk).  We were the only people walking around the small alley ways (or calles) of Venice and we were dressed up in our antique outfits – we felt like we had walked right out of a picture from Renaissance Venice!  So surreal!

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