Fashion Designer Silvia Tcherassi Goes From Haute Couture To Luxury Hospitality
Situated along the northern coast of Colombia, Cartagena de Indias, as it is formally called, has along, vibrant history dating back to the 16th century. As early as the 1700s, Cartagena was a popular destination, albeit by pirates in search of treasure. Fast forward to the present day and pirates have been replaced by luxury travelers in search of culture, comfort and a unique experience that is part Latin American, part Caribbean. Modern day treasure hunters will now discover The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa, Cartagena’s newest gem.
Set within the historic Old City (a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site)on a narrow, colorful street, The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa is housed in an expansive, restored 250-year-old colonial mansion. With just seven oversized luxurious rooms and suites, it is easy for guests to feel it is their own private mansion, particularly with more than 30 staff to attend to their every need. A private mansion with four pools, roof deck with 360-degree views of the city and the sea, a 40-seat Italian restaurant and a full-service spa.
Calling upon early studies in interior design, Miami-based, Colombia-born fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi spent two years meticulously restoring the historic mansion to its original glory featuring an imposing 20-foot wood door adorned with bronze accoutrements, such as a fish indicating the house’s proximity to the sea. Original two-story-high stonewalls and spectacular exposed brick lead to towering vaulted ceilings reinforced with rescued Colombian Guayacan and Ceiba wood. Having restored the centuries-old bones of the house, Tcherassi added her golden touch —literally. A magnificent gold iron gate allows outsiders to peak through to the haven, while some stone walls sparkle with gold dust and another is lined with gold from floor to ceiling, reflecting the richness of the property and its design.
Each of the seven guest accommodations embraces unique décor and named for elegant fabrics used in Tcherassi’s fashion collections: Voilée, Radzimir, Peau de Soie, Organdie, Mousseline, Ziberline and Gazar. This is just one example of how she incorporates fashion into the hotel’s design. Others include little touches such as a sewing kit placed in the room with thread to match the color of the clothes in which the guests arrived. Upon turndown, ladies receive a handmade fabric flower pin to wear while in Cartagena and as a memento of their stay.
All of the rooms are on the hotel’s second floor, offering either views of the city or the lush vertical garden and two first-floor pools. Ranging in size from 400 to 1,200square feet, each features restored original stone walls, dramatic high ceilings, open style bathrooms with double sinks and private walk-out balconies creating an open and airy Caribbean feel. Guests are welcomed with Tcherassi private label “his and hers” bathrobes, as well as custom bath amenities made with Tcherassi’s own fragrance. Lending a residential feel (in addition to being eco-friendly), the amenities are presented in large glass bottles for guests to use while staying on property. Another homey element is the commodious dressing areas with multiple full-length mirrors. There even hair straighteners to combat the potential Caribbean humidity. Custom, private label Egyptian cotton linens, all designed by Tcherassi, dress king mattresses. Each room is equipped with a 42"plasma TV with DVD, digital iPod radio alarm clock and complimentary Wi-Fi, which can be used at the full-size work desk.
Although the rooms are certainly comfortable enough to spend all one’s time in, guests have to eat, right? There is 24-hour room service; however the 40-seat VERA Restaurant is worth a visit. Chef Daniel Castaño of Bogota’s Emilia Romagna
restaurant brings his Italian coastal cuisine to VERA, set within the hotel’s lush courtyard. The indoor/outdoor restaurant has a magnificent stone wall that stretches from the imported Australian floor up to the distinguished wood beamed ceiling. Modern mirrors adorn the backlit wall reflecting the activity throughout the space and bringing the outside in with vivid reflections of the lush garden outside. A long white banquette runs along the entirety of the space providing guests with a front row seat to Cartagena’s best new restaurant.
The restaurant seamlessly flows outside to an open air, but air-conditioned “Gran Salon” with a mixture of both traditional table seating, as well as lounge furniture. Dramatic archways provide diners a perfect framework to sit and enjoy the waterfall and vertical garden consisting of some 3000 local plants that form the mansion’s interior garden. The restaurant, whose name means “truthful” (reflecting its culinary authenticity), is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guest can indulge in such house specialties as Risotto Pescatore
(Arborio rice, cooked with a compound butter of shallots, roasted garlic, and basil served with clams, mussels, shrimp, and squid) and Pollo al Peppe
(brined and seared breast of chicken crusted with black pepper, served with confit thighs, and a date, water cress, and macadamia salad). VERA also has a nice size wine list for a small restaurant with more than 100 top labels imported from Italy, Spain, California and Chile.
If Chef Castano’s cooking isn’t pampering enough, guests can take advantage of the hotel’s spa featuring two treatment rooms and a dedicated spa pool for water-based treatments. Rooted in a holistic approach, The Spa has partnered with Spain’s Germaine de Capuccini to offer some 30 treatments and therapies including those that utilize indigenous Colombian and South American practices and ingredients. You can be certain the pirates of yesteryear would have loved the Tcherassi Gem Therapy
, a face and body ritual that hydrates, smoothes and covers the skin using pearl powder while heated ‘Pindas of Energy’ stones of volcanic origin, reinforce the sensation of relaxation and well-being. Other specialty treatments include the Deluxe Colombian Coffee
: An energizing body wrap from an exquisite blend of coffee which pacifies the senses and firms the body. Relaxing and refreshing.
The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa provides the perfect environment for travelers to experience the history and culture of Cartagena, appreciating its colonial past, while having all of the comfort and amenities of today. Rates start at $275 per night and reservations can be made by visiting www.tcherassihotels.com