It’s all about the journey, start as you mean to go
There may have been a time when the only prerequisite for an overnight stay was finding a relatively safe place to lie your head. From campgrounds to hostels, your limited, youthful budget dictated your accommodation.
More than ever, and at your moremature age, you now have more choices as to how to spend your travel dollars. There are charming B&Bs, over-the-top villas, and everyone, and their brother, are renting out their homes. While appealing to some, you still have to make your way there, cook meals and navigate on your own.
Uniworld river cruises
President and founder of the Red Carnation Hotel collection, Bea Tollman, acquired Uniworld River Cruises in 2004. By then she had a first-hand appreciation for every aspect of the hospitality business. “I want to ensure every guest is being looked after, and is receiving the very best service,” says Bea Tollman. “I don’t want anything to slip.”
She set out to elevate the luxury river cruising experience. These floating boutique hotels each possess a distinctive theme, often inspired by their destinations, and include original art, sumptuous furnishings and antiques. It was at Bea’s insistence that the rooms wouldn’t look the same. “I didn’t feel inspired by an all-neutral palette.”
Toni Tollman, Bea’s daughter and director of design and projects for Uniworld and Red Carnation Hotels, goes on to say, “Each ship is an extension of the destination in which it sails, making our guests’ onboard experience as memorable as their time spent onshore.”
As an example, Toni mentions one of their newest super ships, the S.S. Bon Voyage, which references its French heritage with polished woods, brass detailing and emerald tones in the bar and lounge areas.
Not only are they fastidious about their sailing destinations, but there’s a great deal of competition as river boat cruising has become extremely popular. “Our guests love returning to experience different ships.” says Toni. “For a completely different onboard experience.”
A gracious reception
Whether you’re sailing down the Rhine, the Danube or the Nile – yes Uniworld recently introduced a 12-day, round-trip excursion from Cairo to Cairo – you’ll be treated like royalty. Hospitality is defined as, ‘the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers.’ In this spirit, Bea Tollman continues to inspire those around her, and insists on the best training for all staff, so that guests receive exemplary service. Each detail has been thoughtfully considered and expertly rendered.
Now in her 80s, Bea has combined her passion for food with her passion for people. “My love of fine dining and good food was perhaps slow to blossom,” says Bea. “But, was immediately felt from the heart.”
Her attention to detail took root in the kitchen, having spent her first 15 years there at the Red Carnation hotel chain. Over the years she developed her own specialties, which continue to be signature dishes onboard. Menus are tailored to reflect the destination and itinerary of each ship.
You deserve it
Our tastes change and become more refined as we age. Plus, we have an appreciation for all that we’ve witnessed and lived through. Originality is the finest form of luxury, and when you have a choice as to whether to stay in a cookie-cutter hotel room or a one-of-a-kind decorated room on a river boat, while enjoying spectacular views from your balcony, what’s there to think about?