November 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
For 25 years, International Expeditions travelers have been observing the natural wonders of the Amazon on riverboat expeditions in Peru. The Amazon is the mightiest river in the world, surrounded by pristine rainforest which shelters the most diverse ecosystem on the planet. On the 10-day expedition, travelers voyage along the Amazon's tributaries and see incredible wildlife: monkeys, birds, sloths, pink and gray dolphins, and more. The expedition travels deep into the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest wetland reserve in the world. Expert local naturalist guides accompany each expedition. Despite the remote rainforest locale, guests enjoy fine accommodations-- state rooms are elegant, the bathrooms, spacious-- and delicious cuisine. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer and enjoy savings of $500 per person. Explore the Peruvian Amazon on a 10-day journey with International Expeditions departing January 5, 2007 and get a real deal (It's often hard to persuade people to travel anywhere the first week of January, and thus there are still some spots remaining for this voyage. IE is rolling back the prices as a special inducement to fill the spots.) Lower deck cabins are priced at $2,398, and upper deck cabins for $2,498. Hurry! Just a few spots left. Call 1-800-633-4734 for reservations.
November 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After the recent earthquake in Hawaii, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows has devised a perfectly delicious Shaken, Not Stirred Package, to tempt wary visitors to return to the islands. In the quake's aftermath, the AAA five-diamond luxury property is undamaged (and everything is a-ok), but lucky guests can now score rates of up to 40 percent off. Located on the Big Island's Kohala coast, Mauna Lani is surrounded by a lush volcanic landscape chock full of waterfalls, rainforests, active lava flows and even snow-capped mountains. The beachfront resort is recognized worldwide for its 25,000 sq ft spa, two championship Hawaii golf courses, top tennis facilities at the Sport and Fitness Club, and three miles of white sand beach, where guests can witness the whale migration just offshore. This is easily one of the most romantic spots in the world.
With the Shaken, Not Stirred Package, "discover first-hand that the tranquil beauty of Mauna Lani has not been stirred." Package includes two pineapple martinis, daily buffet breakfast for two, daily use of snorkeling equipment, access to the Mauna Lani Sports and Fitness Club, nightly Hawaiian entertainment, tours of Mauna Lani's historic fishponds and petroglyph fields. Rates start from $390 per night, available until December 19, 2006.
October 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Recently the French Tourist Office recognized Duvine Adventures with a grand award (Best Special Interest Product in France) for its deluxe, personalized bicycle trips through the unspoiled villages of Europe. The French aren't the only ones who love Duvine. Time, Bicycling, and Outside have all raved about the tours, where lucky cyclists experience stunning landscapes, charming inns and chateaux, and gourmet cuisine and fine wines. It's one of the best ways to encounter the off-the-beaten-path joys of European destinations. And now Duvine has grown to include other destinations (with year round availability), including tours in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and Napa and Sonoma counties in California. Beginning in 2007, Duvine will also offer walking tours in France, Italy, and Ireland. Check out their new movie.
October 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This weekend NYT Travel profiled the new, high design hotels that are making waves in the Caribbean. These uber-luxe hotels boast private plunge pools, Egyptian cotton sheets, the best five-star service, and luxurious guest rooms designed by high-profile designers. One such hotel is Discovery at Marigot Bay, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, located on the breathtaking island of St. Lucia. Prized as "the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean" (to quote James A. Michener), Marigot Bay is surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery, tropical rainforests, and secluded beaches. The boutique resort offers 57 suites and 67 rooms overlooking the sea and the yachts anchored in the harbor. Rooms are the height of luxury (plunge pools, balconies, cable TV, wifi, espresso makers, huge bathrooms with walk-in drench showers, Italian kitchens…) In addition, there's the luxurious Lapli Spa, fitness center, numerous watersports, bars and restaurants. The Special Opening Offer includes daily breakfast, a USD500 credit to spend in the resort, and a 7th night complimentary. Valid until December 21, 2006.
October 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This could be the most dramatic setting on earth: amidst deep blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, and the rivers and forests of Nauel Huapi National Park in Northwest Patagonia. Welcome to the Llao Llao Hotel and Resort, where the spectacular surroundings are only enhanced by extraordinary facilities. Recently recognized as one of the top three resorts in Central/South America by Conde Nast Traveler's 19th annual Readers' Choice Awards, Llao Llao is a luxurious mountain lodge, designed in the style of Canada's greatest ski lodges, with exposed timbers and grand stone fireplaces. No matter what season, Llao Llao's a picture-perfect destination, with numerous recreational activities: 18-hole golf course, state-of-the-art spa, spectacular heated swimming pool with mountain views, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, horse back riding, sailing. (And awesome skiing in the off-season, come next May/June.)
Announcing the 1 Hotel and Residences, the brainchild of Barry Sternlicht, former big shot at Starwood. (As HotelChatter points out, this is the same mastermind behind the yet-to-be-seen Crillon lux hotel brand.) The new hotel brand aims to compete directly with the St. Regis (Starwood's lux label), Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons brands. And Sternlicht's setting his sights high: these hotels will have a "level of amenities and service lofty enough to earn a coveted five-star ranking from Mobil Travel Guide." Hotel launch locations will include Seattle, Scottsdale, Paris, Mammoth Mountain (Cali), and Fort Lauderdale. It's a crowded field. In South Florida, for example, the St. Regis Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Residences has been under construction since 2000 and is expected to open soon, and other luxury properties—including hotels by Trump and W—are in the works. (Not to mention the already existing five-star hotels.) How will 1 Hotels distinguish itself? It's being billed as the first ultra-luxurious, eco-friendly global hotel brand. 1 is planning to donate one percent of revenue from each hotel to local environmental groups, and the NRDC will serve as the environmental adviser.
Pictured: St. Regis, Fort Lauderdale
What could be better than a few days retreat at the exclusive Peter Island resort? Add to that a few nights onboard the luxurious 41' sailing yacht Silmaril. Peter Island has devised the picture-perfect way to experience the best the Caribbean has to offer. By boat, explore the crystal-clear waters of the British Virgin Islands, and on land, discover the 1,300 acres of lush tropical island, and get pampered in style at the sophisticated luxury resort considered one of the best hotels in the world. (Added bonus: the new, swanky $6 million Spa.) The Ashore/Afloat package includes accommodations, full American plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), private lunch on a nearby secluded beach, unlimited use of facilities/activies (tennis, hobie cats, windsurfing, fitness center) and airport transfers. From November 1, 2006 to December 19, 2006, the four night package starts from $4,659. (Seven nights start at $6,401). From January 4 to April 15, 2007, the package rates are $5,330 and $7,925 respectively. All rates are based on double occupancy.
The secret's out about Itacaré. The favorite destination of Gisele and Sean Penn—a tropical paradise of white sand, lush palms, waterfalls, mangrove swamps and turquoise waters-- will witness the hottest luxury hotel opening in 2007, with the debut of the gorgeous eco-resort Warapuru. Wallpaper* hails it as a "Bond-style hideaway" that is "set to become the country's most exclusive retreat." And to quote the Fall issue of the New York Times Style Magazine:
While progressively more luxurious eco-resorts have been opening in early-adopting regions, the boom is currently spreading to more surprising destinations — like megapolluting Brazil. "Anyone with any feeling for the world is going green," says the cult interior designer Anouska Hempel, who is at work on Warapuru, a lavish eco-resort set to open next year on Brazil's north coast; made entirely of locally sourced materials, it will have customized spa treatments using native plants.
Anouska Hempel (who did Blakes in London and The Hempel in Amsterdam) has created a modern visual masterpiece, nestled within the rainforest canopy on a unique coastline. Warapuru will have 40 pavilions, beach club, restaurants, and exclusive spa. Opening set for early 2007.
The dream team has been scheming to open a stunning all-season resort in the mountains of Idaho, and now the Fairmont Tamarack development is official. Agassi Graf Development LLC has partnered with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, who will manage the luxury hotel and residences in two locations: Tamarack's village and a mid-mountain site. The terrain is breathtaking (check out the sleek virtual brochure) and the resort promises extraordinary skiing, excellent fly fishing, a challenging Robert Trent Jones, Jr. golf course (with new Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf), white water rafting and watersports on the nearby rivers and Lake Cascade. To quote the daring duo:
Time together with family is one of the most treasured things in our lives. We value the days we spend together and the quality of the moments we share. We have discovered a location in the heart of central Idaho that creates the perfect backdrop for exceptional experiences and precious memories. Tamarack Resort, with its all-season landscape, provides families like ours an active outdoor lifestyle and a chance to appreciate its surrounding beauty. Fairmont Tamarack is our opportunity to share this extraordinary experience with you.
This "outdoor enthusiast's dream" is scheduled to open in 2008.
September 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The W hotel chain— adored by American urbanites for its sleek city hotels— has opened its first resort in the Maldives. Billed as a "sophisticated luxury playground," this Retreat and Spa is the first of its kind for W. Situated on the private tropical island of Fesdu, in the North Ari Atoll, the W Retreat and Spa combines indulgent all-villa accommodations with the Maldives first real nightlife: a subterranean grotto bar aptly called 15 BELOW because it's fifteen feet below the island's surface. This is the ultimate indulgence and exclusivity in the Maldives. In your private over-water villa, enjoy your own plunge pool, sundeck, and beach. Or marvel at the lagoon's colorful fish through the glass-paneled floor (the roof is likewise glass-paneled). The villas are all outfitted with outdoor lounging areas with individual barbeque stations for private dining, circular daybeds, and outdoor tropical showers. As to be expected from W Hotels, the accommodations are equipped with all the latest technology and conveniences: deluxe Bose sound systems, 42 inch plasma televisions, and wine refrigerators. Indulge in a spa treatment at the over-water AWAY spa. Lounge on the white-sand beaches, take a dip in the turquoise lagoon, and snorkel along the breathtaking reefs. The WAVE water sports facility is fully equipped with top-quality scuba diving gear, along with kite surfing, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, and endless other options. In the evening, dine at one of the six gourmet restaurants followed by a cocktail at the hip underground bar, which offers the largest selection of vodka in the Maldives. The W Retreat and Spa Maldives promises to be the ultimate private island paradise.