Our world always has a way of constantly surprising us. I mean, how could it not? It offers endless amounts of places to visit and unbelievable secrets to uncover. And as it turns out, the JG Black Book Collection has a ton of interesting unknown facts about their properties! From secrets held in wine cellars dating back to WWII to hallways that hold star-studded stories, we’re ready to share their stories with you. Read on if you’re ready to discover some little-known facts about 6 of our JG Black Book Collection Members.
Have you ever wondered how Bawah Reserve got its name? Well, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this pristine paradise, Bawah Reserve is located in Indonesia’s Anambas Archipelago, 160 nautical miles northeast of Singapore, and is comprised of six islands, three lagoons, and 13 beaches. If you are unfamiliar with the Anambas Archipelago, it’s a collection of 250 small islands and out of those 250 islands, only 26 are inhabited. Bawah is the lowest island in the Anambas. And in the national language of Indonesia, Bahasa Indonesian, the word “Bawah” means below. Since Bawah Reserve sits at the bottom of all the other islands, that’s how it got its name. It’s the only hotel or resort in the South China Sea, with it’s nearest neighbors being 3 hours by boat – so guests really are in the middle of nowhere!
Did you know that the Greek island of Santorini was once circular? It was known as Strongili, or “the round one”. But around 1600 BC, a colossal volcanic eruption took place, leaving a caldera, or crater, with towering cliffs along the island’s east side, which is now Santorini’s trademark landscape. Now every year, Santorini holds a festival entirely dedicated to the volcano eruption that changed its landscape forever. The annual Ifestia Festival lasts only a day but consists of amazing artistic events and re-enactments of the famous Minoan eruption. The magnitude and impact of this eruption affected many civilizations along Europe, especially the Minoan Civilization and forever changed the course of European history.
The Stafford London
A compelling history lies beneath The Stafford London in its 380-year-old wine cellars. Built in the 17th century by Lord Francis Godolphin, it is said that certain doorways led directly to the palace of St James’s, which was the original home of the British monarchy right up until the time of Queen Victoria. Much later in their history, the cellars were used as air raid shelter whilst, at the same time, providing housing for Canadian and American officers. The famous Simone Prunier, well known as Madame Prunier, used to house her amazing collection of wine in The Stafford wine cellars during WWII to ensure that they were safe and that there was a regular supply of fine wines for her clientele. Today the working and hidden cellars house up to 8,000 bottles of the finest wines, including many rare and precious vintages, giving The Stafford one of the most complete wine collections in London.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to build a luxury resort on an island in Mozambique, you might be surprised to learn that all you need is a cement mixer and a wheelbarrow. Yet that’s exactly how Azura Benguerra Island came to life. Every single brick was handmade on the island and all other materials required for construction were brought in by fleets of local dhows.
This process significantly reduced the carbon footprint of the building process as well as empowered the local people. The building skills they were able to learn on this project enabled them to find employment in the construction industry. Right from the start, Azura Retreats has been committed to finding ways to give back to the local communities and protect the pristine environment where they operate, and this little-known fact about Azura Benguerra Island is proof of that.
Atlantis by Giardino
There is so much more to a hotel than just its aesthetic – every property reflects a lifestyle, an attitude, and a collector of unforgettable stories and memories. Atlantis by Giardino is taking us behind-the-scenes and giving us a glimpse into the glamorous history of the hotel. Back in the 1970’s, Atlantis by Giardino was known as “Hotel Atlantis,” a mecca for stars from all over the world! Muhammad Ali danced through the halls, Freddie Mercury gave a private concert at the bar, Elton John, Abba, Rod Stewart and many more checked in. But what left a real mark in most people’s minds was the performance of the band The Who – and not the one they gave at the Hallenstadion of Zurich, but rather the one that followed in their suite where they threw the furniture into the hotel’s pool. Now that’s rock ‘n roll!
The Elewana Collection
What you may not know about The Elewana Collection is that to them, conservation is key. It’s a value and experience they want guests to remember and keep close to their hearts long after they have left. The Lewa Conservancy is a world-renowned conservation success story. Located at Elewana Lewa Safari Camp and Elewana Kifaru House, it has become famous for its successful breeding of two endangered species – the rhino and Grevy zebra.
And while this is at the forefront of Elewana’s efforts, the brand’s “best-kept secret” is the conservation work happening behind the scenes. They’ve recently opened a new Joint Operations Centre, which serves as the communications hub to the entire area embracing Borana to the west and all the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) Conservancies, covering an area with a radius of about 300 km. The launch of the revolutionary new Joint Operations Centre enables operators to see exactly what is happening across the vast landscapes as it occurs.