I recently visited Venice and the Lakes area with premier tour operator and Italy specialist - Amandatour. If you haven’t heard of them yet it’s because they are relatively new in the US, opening a branch in Los Angeles just 3 years old. Established in Italy over 20 years ago, Amandatour is a leading luxury tour operator with offices in Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice. Past commendations include appointments as GSA for Italy by Relais & Chateaux and Silversea Cruises. Their huge portfolio and wealth of services from A to Z creates seamless one stop shopping.
The company provides services for some of the major worldwide outgoing T.O’s and travel agencies, offering transfers, guides, assistants, transportation, a 24/7 English speaking emergency help line and hotel reservations in more than 1,800 prime hotels with an optimal quality/price ratio. Additionally they offer customized itineraries throughout Italy for art visits, culinary and wine tastings, villa and garden visits.
Traveling with a small group including Enza Baglio, the company’s US Los Angeles based sales director, plus a representative from their Florence division, I had the opportunity to observe the way Amandatour operates firsthand. I was struck by their passion, enthusiasm and consummate knowledge of every place and every property we visited. It’s not surprising that owners, brothers Maurizio and Fausto Falcinelli, choose the name ‘Amanda’ which means ‘things to be loved.’
Our itinerary included Venice, Verona Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Amandatour Treatment.’ This included private transfers in Mercedes with personal assistants who welcomed you and told you all the essentials to make you feel comfortable plus insider tips to make your stay fabulous. In Venice, private water taxis were provided. In addition to the convenience and fun of riding in your own boat on the glorious Grand Canal, many don’t know that the water taxis are a necessity where entrances to hotels on narrow water passageways can be too small for larger boats. These same amenities are also provided upon departure.
The local guides we had in the elegant cities and charming lakeside towns were savvy experts with personality who spoke English well. I saw so many treasures and architectural masterpieces. The private boat tours of the lakes against the backdrop of majestic mountains and picturesque landscapes dotted with stunning villas and palazzos was my favorite part of the trip. Adding to the exquisite ambience, Amandatour arranged romantic Italian music onboard plus champagne.
Since the company has such a huge presence in Italy and, as I observed, know the people at the hotels, they can get better rates and better rooms. Amandatour does not deal with the public so your clients will always stay loyal to you and appreciate the great services you provide. For events, they have a special division. For VIP Travel, Amandatour can provide jets, yachts, helicopters, special access - whatever you want. Their motto is - no complaints from clients.
Italy’s Luxury Hotels
Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice
No surprise George Clooney honeymooned in this legendary resort, in the posh Palladio Suite. Glamorous and elegant with gorgeous gardens, it offers unrivaled views of the Venetian Lagoon. Opulent interiors showcase frescoed ceilings and intricate murals. Dine on exquisite Venetian and Italian specialties at restaurant ‘Oro’ - the best meal I had on the trip. www.belmond.com
Bauers Il Palazzo, Venice
This opulent boutique hotel, a Venetian-style palazzo, overlooks Venice’s Grand Canal. The property boasts a striking gothic facade, lavish décor and sumptuous suites with breathtaking terrace views. www.ilpalazzovenezia.com
The Gritti Palace, Venice
A Luxury Collection Hotel
After a spectacular renovation the Gritti, overlooking the Grand Canal, reopened in 2013. Each dazzling suite is unique with bespoke objets d’art. Dining at their outdoor restaurant, with its glorious water views, is a must. www.thegrittipalace.com
Also impressive was the beautiful Casta Diva Resort and Spa/Lake Como. This beautiful and unique lakeside gem, a heavenly hideaway, offers super lush suites and a huge, outstanding spa. www.castadivaresort.com
I was enchanted with the Relais & Chateaux Hotel Villa Del Quar near Verona. The unique property boasts charming suites, fantastic antiques, exceptional food, a fine wine cellar plus a wellness spa opening in 2016.
How To Go
With their superb service Turkish Airlines is a great choice of carrier. I flew through Istanbul to Venice and returned from Milan. They offer direct service from major US cities to Istanbul with a wide ranging international network and easy connections.