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THE WESTIN EUROPA & REGINA: A HIDDEN GEM
By Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer
Our first day in Venice. Walking down Calla Larga XXII Marzo, plate glass windows announcing the familiar names: Bergdorf Goodman, Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein, Christian Dior, Donna Karan, Moncler, and Louis Vuitton. Is this what we came to Venice for?
With a sense of uncertainly, we proceed towards Piazza San Marco, turn in the direction of the Grand Canal. Before us is a darkened corridor that brings us to a restaurant. We ask the young man who seems to be in charge for directions. Willingly, he points us to our destination, and in about ten minutes, we arrive at the Westin Europa & Regina, the hidden gem our friends had urged us to uncover.
We’re warmly welcomed by the effervescent Front Office Manager Daniela Durante who takes us on a tour of what we soon realize is a singular property in the very heart of Venice’s historic district. Under her spell, we are led through a stunning property comprised of 185 rooms, among them five former palazzi, dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and a jetty that brings guests to the Grand Canal.
The highly informed Daniela reveals some of the stories behind the Westin Europa & Regina. We learn the property came from the joining of five 18th and 19th century palaces. The oldest palace belonged to the Tiepolos, the famed Venetian family that gave the city two "doges" and the seventeenth century painter Giambattista Tiepolo.
In 1938, the Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi bought the property of the Hotel Britannia, changing its name to Hotel Europa & Britannia. Despite having the same ownership, the Hotel Regina and the Hotel Europa & Britannia were separate entities for years. Both, however, were deemed to be of high standards, and welcomed illustrious guests of every sort. In 1976 the hotels merged, ultimately becoming the Hotel Europa & Regina.
It was the where Rossini’s first opera was performed. The celebrated impressionist Claude Monet was a guest there during the autumn of 1908, the surrounding environs proving an inspiration for the art he was creating. And most recently, the hotel was the setting for the film "The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
As guests of the Westin Europa Regina, we are treated to the ambience of an 18th-century period mansion. Breath-taking, grand public rooms run into each other. High-ceilinged spacious halls are long and deep, marked by tall marble pillars. Huge black and white marble floors give way to enormous starburst patterns with giant glass chandeliers illuminating the way.
Gold-framed artwork, parquet floors, satin and velvet fabrics, and damask walls are part of the scene along with marble bathrooms and the pleasure of turning out the lights and getting into a signature Westin heavenly bed.
Many rooms in the Westin Europa & Regina face the Grand Canal, the spectacular outdoor terrace along the waterfront being a standout feature of the property. But equally outstanding is the hotel’s dining experience where Food and Beverage Director Massimo DeVenuto is in charge. In a range of settings from the formal to the casual, in the fine dining offered by La Cusina to the more casual fare of La Chic Chetteria, Massimo DeVenuto is at hand, attending to the smallest details.
Back home, we feel we have experienced something truly exceptional. From a darkened corridor where we searched for a particular destination, we had come out into the beautiful light born of the blending of three great Venetian hotels: the Westin, the Europa, and the Regina, all of them Venice’s gems.
WESTIN EUROPA REGINA http://www.westineuropareginavenice.com/
S. Marco, 2159, 30124 Venezia, Italy
Phone: +39 041 240 0001
(All photographs courtesy of Westin Europa Regina)
Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College where they completed two decades of teaching in the MALS graduate program in 2016..
They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.