is the best hotel in Venice and among the best in the world," said Roberto Senigaglia
as he steered his launch from the dock near San Marco in Venice across
the lagoon toward the Ciprianis gardens on Giudecca Island. "Ive
been working here for seven years. The same guests return again and again and
are like family."
|Arriving at the Hotel Cipriani
Clearly the smiling
sailor enjoys his job and his association with the hotel. He picks up guests
from the dock near San Marco in Venice and takes them, along with their luggage,
on a five-minute ride to the hotels pier. The motor boat feels somewhat
like a water limousine, traveling back and forth all day. Guests stay in
a quiet countryside setting with amenities like those offered at a great estate,
yet the location is conveniently close to the heart of the city.
In crowded Venice most
hotels are small, but the Cipriani has all the space it needs for its beautiful
sprawling gardens, a vineyard, the main residence and two restored palazzos,
the Vendramin and the Nani Barbaro. Not only is it the one hotel
in the city with tennis courts and a swimming pool, but the pool is olympic-sized.
And theres room for several restaurants and bars. Cips Club at
the Palazzetto, a lively restaurant-pizzeria and the newest of the hotels
eateries, provides dining indoors, on a terrace and on a floating lagoon. Then
theres Il Gabbiano piano bar, the Poolside Bar, San Giorgio
and the famed Ristorante Cipriani, a dramatic domed Venetian dining room.
Good service has many
facets. At the Cipriani it means a courtly front desk staff exuding Continental
charm while taking care of every request. It also means a private English butler
who escorted me to my suite, the top floor of a duplex, and stayed long enough
to make me comfortable. There are suites that rent for $1,600 a night at posh
hotels all over the world, but maybe because I was at the Cipriani and the location
was Venice, it seemed more heavenly than many others. This was truly a suite
with a view, the sweep of San Marco and the Venetian skyline as painted by Tinteretto.
And when I faced the other way so that my eyes swept my accommodations, all I
could see was luxuryin the exquisite furnishings, the soft shades of yellow,
the hand painted walls, the petit point rugs and the sleek kitchen. There was
luxury in every detailthe multi-scented bath products, seemingly enough
to stock a mini spa, and the coordinated desk sets. If I wanted to eat in, my
butler might have prepared the pasta in the cupboard.
|Venice and Guidecca Island
At dusk, I strolled
the walkway stretching along Guideccas lagoon side. Wrought-iron turn-of-the-century
style lamps add to the romantic feel of the path.
If you dont spend
the princely sum of $1,600, one-third of that amount will still net you a spectacular
room, delightful surroundings, an American-style breakfast buffet and the dream
of a lifetime, a stay at the Cipriani in Venice.
Hotel Cipriani, Guidecca,
773, 30133, Venice, Italy. Tel. 041-522-4844, 041-520-8337. Rates begin at $600.