The Grand Hotel Heiligendamm in Germany is called the "white city by the sea" for its remarkable white buildings, is a stunning seaside resort nestled on the shore of the Baltic Sea, and has a royal pedigree.
Although the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm opened in 2003 and became internationally known after the G8 Summit held at the hotel in 2007, Mecklenburg Duke Friedrich Franz I established Heiligendamm in 1793, making it Germany's first seaside resort.
The 225 room (107 are suites) hotel consists of six magnificent buildings, and one of the many things that Edward F. Nesta and I enjoyed during our stay at the hotel in March 2008 was exploring the grounds to discover the personalities of each of the buildings. The Grand Hotel, built in 1886, is home to the reception and concierge, library, and Nelson Bar & Lobby Lounge. Marble and a fountain lend elegance and style to the reception, with fireplaces in the comfortable lobby sitting area, and the cozy library is a wonderful indulgence that encourages guests to borrow a book off the shelf, and read on one of the many benches facing the sea, or curl up with a book before going to sleep. The Nelson Bar & Lobby Lounge has a club-like ambience where we enjoyed aperitifs in the afternoon and Fondue Chinoise in the evening.
We stayed in Haus Mecklenburg, originally called The Bathhouse, built in 1796, which is the oldest building on the property. Mecklenburg Duke Friedrich Franz I used to come to the beach to partake of the waters of the Baltic Sea for his health, and soon tired of going back and forth to Bad Doberan each day, and had The Bathhouse built. Later, guestrooms were added to the building, which extensions made in 1839 and again in 1870.
Haus Mecklenburg was my favorite building on the property. We stayed in a large suite on the top floor with a dramatic balcony where we had breathtaking views of the Baltic Sea and the long stretch of white sandy beach, as well as the romantic Hohenzollern Castle, built in 1845-1848.
The high ceiling suite featured wide crown moldings, a foyer with a full length mirror, a powder room, a comfortable bedroom, and an intimate sitting area where a French door led to the long balcony framed with floor to ceiling mushroom, cocoa, and green striped window treatments, and a large window similarly dressed offered a close-up view of the Baltic Sea and the Heiligendamm Pier. I loved opening up the door and listening to the soothing sound of the waves as they lapped the shore, and also positioning a chair by the door on an especially rainy evening and watching the storm brewing over the Baltic Sea.
There was a large desk and chair placed at one end of the sitting room with a painting hanging above the desk, and another desk chair placed next to the desk. A bottle of Heiligendamm sparkling wine in a silver ice bucket with two champagne flutes on the desk leant a celebratory air to the suite.
Two chairs upholstered in green, beige, and chocolate stripe fabric flanked a square table of pickled wood and chrome, which held a gorgeous spring arrangement of irises, red, yellow, pink, and white ranunculus, and white roses in a porcelain vase; an inviting selection of chocolates beckoned from a silver tray, and there was a selection of exotic fruit.
There was a television in a tall cabinet with a selection of magazines, and a wall of closets, which held umbrellas, robes, slippers, a mini-bar, and a large safe with an outlet to recharge laptops and other personal items. In-room Internet access was available via a cable, and there was WIFI in the public areas.
The bedroom featured a king bed lavishly dressed with a scallop edged padded upholstered headboard, a beige and chocolate diamond pattern bedspread, and decorative pillows in a selection of colors and shapes. There was a brown leather bench at the end of the bed, adjustable reading lamps, and nightstands on either side of the bed provided us with state-of-the-art technology in the drawers with controls for the temperature and lights, as well outlets in the drawers to plug in a laptop or recharge a mobile telephone while using it in bed. Floor to ceiling window treatments that matched the sitting area framed the large window with a Baltic Sea view, and there was a Philips television and DVD discretely hidden inside a tall cabinet.
In addition to the powder room, the bathroom featured a heated brown and beige marble floor, a walk-in glass enclosed shower with rain showerhead as well as a hand-held showerhead, heated towel rack, and a deep soaking tub with a lovely container of aromatic bath salts that I looked forward to taking a bath each evening to enjoy the lovely fragrance that gently perfumed the air.
There was a large mirror over the sink on the long marble vanity that held a single white rose in a porcelain vase, and other details included a vanity/shaving mirror, hairdryer, and a selection of amenities.
The hotel has several restaurants, and we experienced three of them, the Kurhaus Restaurant, the Baltic Sushi Bar, and the Nelson Bar & Lobby Lounge, as Friedrich Franz their Michelin star restaurant, and their Italian restaurant, Medini's, were both undergoing renovation during our stay. There is also a restaurant in the Heiligendamm Spa.
The Kurhaus, built in 1816, has the Latin inscription "Heic te laetitia invitat post balnea sanum" (joy receives you here after a healing bath) on the face of the building overlooking the sea, and features light regional cuisine. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Kurhaus Restaurant where a few of the recipes that we sampled included Salad of fresh figs and fresh goat cheese from Mecklenburg served with sea-salt cured beef and acacia honey lemon oil dressing, and Mousse of chestnut in tree cake with cranberry compote and vanilla ice cream.
The Baltic Sushi Bar opened in October 2007, and Chef Ferlyn Dias shines in this intimate restaurant, which features sashimi, sushi, and curry specialties. Edward and I thoroughly enjoyed our "Asian tour" where a few of our favorites included the Wakame Seaweed Salad with Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing, and Classic Sashimi Box.
On another night, we had dinner at Nelson Bar & Lobby Lounge where we enjoyed Fondue Chinoise and experienced "cooking " at the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm. The Nelson Bar & Lobby Lounge also offers an impressive cocktail menu and wine list, and entertainment in the evening.
Another highlight of the hotel is the 3000-sq. meter Heiligendamm Spa located in the Severin Palais, which is a sybaritic paradise with fitness center, an indoor swimming pool, Turkish hammam, steam baths, saunas, caldarium, a Yoga Master from Himalaya, and of course, a wide selection of beauty and Spa treatments to name but a few of its many attributes. The spa won the prestigious Spa Diamond Award in 2007 for excellence, and having experienced the Spa we certainly know why. The surroundings are elegant, the treatments expertly applied, and we left with a profound feel of wellbeing.
Located a short distance away is the Otsee Golf Club in Wittenbeck, a 27-hole golf course (9-hole, and 18-hole), and there is horse riding at the Gut Vorder Bollhagen, which is also located nearby to the hotel. Since we stayed at the hotel in early March, the golf course was not yet open, but we did experience riding and also met a darling one-day old foal named Anubia, and two of the Holstein stallions.
The hotel is family-friendly and there is a multi-story Eisbären Kinderclub (Polar Bear Children's Club) where children can let there fantasies run wild. The hotel also accepts dogs, and we enjoyed making the acquaintance of a very sweet and well-behaved Weimaraner during our stay at the hotel.
Although the hotel would be a wonderful place to enjoy a seaside holiday, it has much to offer at anytime of the year, especially with its close proximity to Hamburg (160 km/99 miles) and Berlin (220 km/137 miles).
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Grand Hotel Heiligendamm
18209 Heiligendamm, Germany
Telephone: +49 38203 740 0
Fax: +49 38203 740 7474
Read other articles on Germany in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Spas, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Performances sections.
For information on Heiligendamm and Bad Doberan, please visit the website, www.Bad-Doberan-Heiligendamm.de.
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