The Magic of Munich

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

It occurred to me recently at a dinner party conversation that my favourite German city of Munich, hardly gets a mention when is comes to visiting Europe’s great cities! An excited traveler mentioned how they were off to visit the great cities and towns of Europe. When I inquired, with a few friends where? The answers were for Madrid, Paris, London, Rome, but never Munich!

The wonderful city of Munich is the capital city of Bavaria, Germany and is located on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg with approximately 1.35 million inhabitants. Munich offers everything that a big capital city has, from the stunning architecture, wonderful hotels, a fascinating history, sensational shopping and a great entertainment.

My first visit was during the soccer World Cup in 2006 where I was following the Australian Socceroos’s. I can’t say that I got to experience much else then great soccer at the sensational Allianz Arena and a few beer gardens! It has to be said that they are a “must” as part of any visit to Munich, the atmosphere, cuisine and delightful beer is classic German, and explains why this is the capital of the annual October fest.

My second visit gave me a chance to really enjoy the many pleasures that the city offers in the company of Kiwi Collection’s President Philippe Kjellgren. Our chosen hotel was the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski located in the heart of the city. The hotel typifies the city, the inimitable charm from the moment you step in, the hotel has been sensitively updated through the centuries to meet the changing demands of its guests without ever losing the signs of its great past.

Equally excellent is the Mandarin Oriental Munich, the location of two grand hotels is close to galleries, theatres and the State Opera House makes them ideal.

That history is felt through-out the city and is what make the place so special, mixed in between is elegant fashion stores with all the big names, you will find wonderful gardens and a city rich with churches. You really get a great sense of the city as you walk around and admire the deep history that has been rebuilt after the Second World War. The open-air market in the centre where locals shop and dine is perfect venue to people watch and feel the city’s heartbeat. The many café’s offer a southern European feel, they are almost hidden in old buildings with classic German restaurants, wine bars and wonderful French pastry shops offering you some of Germany’s best dining experiences.

The state of Bavaria is well known for the Black Forrest and stunning Alps that borders with Austria and Switzerland. The area is also home to one of Europe’s greatest chefs, the award wining and three stars Michelin Guide Chef Heinz Winkler. A simple 45 min drive south of Munich and you arrive in town Aschau. As you enter the late medieval building you sense that have entered a gourmet paradise. Our dinner was fabulous, the lightness and infinite variations of aromas, was a true reflection of his great creativity. The details from extensive wine list to the impeccable service, health spa, cosy Alpine feel made this quite a unique experience and one that we both will never forget. As we departed and drove towards the airport we both acknowledged that the dinner was one of best meals we had enjoyed, for me personally it typified Munich, pure style and elegance!

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