Pierre Valladares – Assistant Concierge, Mandarin Oriental Geneva
There are very few cities in the world with Geneva’s cachet. Meet Pierre Valladares, assistant concierge at the Mandarin Oriental Geneva, who has some insider tips on how to make the most out of a visit to this elegant, lakeside urban area.
Apart from your hotel, what’s your favourite restaurant in town?
For adventurous guests who’ve had their fill of fondue, I recommend a Mexican restaurant called El Catrín. It’s a very small place but as soon as you walk through the door it is as if you’ve crossed the Atlantic and landed in Mexico. Enjoy the music, warm service and hospitality while eating delicious food and sipping a margarita.
What is your favourite shop, and why?
My favourite shop is located in the historic Place du Bourg-de-Four, in the old town of Geneva, called Casa Nueva. It’s a good place to find some unusual and rare cigars (and all the accessories you could need), selected with passion and displayed with style and flair.
What cultural pursuits would you recommend in your destination?
I would recommend MEG, the Ethnographic Museum of Geneva, a new, contemporary building that’s a real addition to the city’s cultural landscape. Inside there’s a wealth of valuable historical and anthropological artefacts. Visitors can take a guided tour, see dance performances or sign up for ethnomusicology workshops that are fun and enlightening.
On a day off with nothing planned, where would you go, and why?
Two places I would choose to go are the square by La Perle du Lac restaurant (on the same side of the lake as our hotel) where you can wander along the water’s edge and, on the opposite side, the Parc des Eaux Vives. They sum up the essence of Geneva – urban but rich in nature. There are, in fact, 25 beautiful parks in Geneva where people can relax and enjoy a picnic or just spend time with friends: 310 hectares in all, each with something different to offer, and there are playgrounds for kids in most of them.
What is the hippest attraction near to your hotel where you could take the family? And what would you recommend that couples shouldn’t miss?
For children, I would recommend a trip up the Salève mountain. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the hotel to the cable car, and then a five-minute trip up to the top, at 1,100 metres, where there’s a restaurant with a fireplace and an ice-skating rink in the winter. From above there’s a magnificent view of the city below.
For teenagers, a rafting day on the Rhône river, just steps from the hotel, is a great day out when the weather is warm. We can also arrange a paddle-boarding lesson on the lake – something they won’t forget quickly.
In summer, couples who are early risers should head for the Bains des Pâquis, which is a wonderful place to enjoy the sunrise, between 5am and 6am. This lakeside beach is just a ten-minute walk from the hotel, and with the Alps and the shimmering water as backdrops, chances are there’ll be romance in the air.
What is the X factor of your city?
Everything is within walking distance from the hotel. On any of the city’s main streets you can shop for designer brands, visit historic sights, museums and art galleries, and enjoy a meal or a coffee and a pastry. A five-minute drive will get you to our biggest lakeside ‘beach’, Genève-Plage (it also has an Olympic-size pool and many activities for kids), or you can head to the Salève mountain and watch the sunrise (or sunset) from its heights. The greatest thing about a visit to Geneva is that it’s easy to enjoy city life and then get away from it all and enjoy nature’s peace and quiet or some sporting activities.
Name one thing your property offers, an added value that guests might not know about?
The Mandarin Oriental Geneva provides electric bicycles for guests. Cycling through Geneva is a good way to discover the town and everything it has to offer.
What is your most memorable moment (or day) spent at your property?
My fondest memory hails from my first days as an assistant concierge. To familiarise myself with the city’s restaurants, I was given a map of the town with numbers corresponding to the locations of each establishment. My mission was to find the names using the numbers. It was a day that turned into a treasure hunt, and it allowed me to familiarise myself with the city, its secrets and all its best addresses.
And finally, in your opinion, what is the highlight of staying in your hotel?
What makes one hotel stand out from the other today is the service with a human touch and emotion. All five-star hotels offer rooms: all have beds, bathrooms and nice accessories. In the Mandarin Oriental Geneva, guests are made to feel that each member of staff is dedicated to a guest’s well-being during their stay. The Mandarin Oriental Geneva tries to ensure that everyone’s visit is unique and special from the moment they arrive.
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