June 15, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Courtney W. May and Lanny Grossman, Director of Communications for Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Now that the World Cup is officially underway in Germany (my bracket has the Czech Republic walking away with it all - even though I am a huge US fan), some travelers might be looking for alternatives to dealing with the crazed soccer fans who have descended on Germany this summer. Personally, I can't imagine not wanting to be in the thick of things, but if you're one of those looking to go away during June, SLH has the following promotion "7 : 0 for Small Luxury Hotels: Best Escapes from the Soccer World Championship".
With World Cup madness hitting Germany and much of Western Europe, here are seven ways to visit the region and escape to a world of private luxury and ultimate experiences.
Wild Water Rafting in the Austrian alps: Around Kitzbuhel numerous river routes through spectacular mountain gorges are available for wild water rafting excursions, which the Hotel Tennerhof (www.slh.com/tennerhof) can arrange for its guests. A more tranquil alternative exclusiv for hotel guests: Fishing at a lake nearby where the Tennerhof holds private fishing rights.
Falconry in baroque gardens: As stylish as the ambiance of the castle hotel Chateau St. Gerlach (Netherlands) are the leisure activities of this SLH hotel: Golf, Horse-Riding, Tennis and falconry are on offer in the hotel's baroque gardens and in the wonderful nature of the Geul valley. (pictured)
Clay Pigeon shooting high above Mozart town: Salzburg lies afoot the Vitalhotel Kobenzl. On the Gaisberg mountain, high above the city, which celebrates this year Mozart's 250th anniversary, the Hotel offers attractive sporting alternatives: Clay Pigeon shooting, fishing, mountain hiking and biking as well as sailing, tennis and croquet.
Hot Air Balooning in the Black Forest: The Hotel Belle Epoque (www.slh.com/belleepoque), a neo renaissance villa from 1870, arranges sightseeing flights from Baden-Baden into the wonderful nature of the Black Forrest.
Archery in nature's paradise: Golf, Horse-riding, archery, mountain climbing and many more activities offers the Hoteldorf Gruner Baum (www.slh.com/grunerbaum) in the spectacular mountain world of Gastein. The main building of the hotel was built 1831 as hunting lodge for Duke Johann. Besides the countless leisure activities of the hotel the surroundings tempt visitors with romantic castles, dripstone caves and the national parc Hohentauern.
Formula 1 at the Hotel die Hirschgasse: The hotel offers a Formel 1-Package, which includes a three nights stay in a suite with jacuzzi, daily breakfast buffet and a bottle of champagne at arrival. Tickets and transfer to the Grand Prix at Hockenheimring can be arranged by the concierge. The package is available from 27 to 30. July 2006 and costs 1.300 Euro per room. www.slh.com/diehirschgasse
Arlberg from a bird's eye view: Many guests of the SLH Hotel Kristiania Lech in Austria (www.slh.com/kistiania) arrive by helicopter and enjoy a bird's eye view of the wonderful alpine nature: only 300 metres from the hotel, guests can also find a paragliding field .
View more Small Luxury Hotels with Five Star Alliance.
The lush, forested Caribbean isle of Dominica is a nature lover's delight, with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, gorgeous beaches where whales can be spotted off-shore, and hot springs and glorious waterfalls amidst the rainforest. In this tropical paradise, the Jungle Bay Resort and Spa is a peaceful and luxurious retreat. With yoga studios, beachfront bar, gorgeous Spa, and Atlantic-facing restaurants, this resort could be heaven on earth. The 35 tropical hardwood cottages are nestled within the jungle, accessed by a series of graceful footpaths, and feature balconies and private outdoor showers. At night, fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of the spring fed stream in the forest below, or the Atlantic waves crashing into the soft sandy shore. Dining is an experience to remember, with delicious and fresh Caribbean specialities served in an outdoor Pavilion overlooking the stone pool and ocean.
The former owner of North Face, Doug Tomkins, has created a 30,000 acre wildlife refuge and eco-retreat in Argentina's Corrientes province. The Conservation Land Trust has attracted a slew of nature lovers in pursuit of discovering the beauty of Argentina's vast northeast. The place to stay? Estancia Rincon del Socorro is a 12,000-hectare former cattle ranch on the edge of the Ibera wetlands that is now a nature reserve. Doug and his wife Kris restored a beautiful property, originally built in 1896, including three bungalows and the main house, El Casco, which offers spacious rooms with high ceilings, a screened verandah, well-stocked library, and terraced dining area where beautiful organic meals are served, with fruit and vegetables plucked from the kitchen garden and delicious Argentine barbecue (free range meats). Relax by the pool or take to the savannah on horseback, riding with a gaucho on one of the native horses.
June 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The majestic mountains of British Columbia offer more than superlative skiing; North America's renowned ski destination is just as enticing in the summertime, with fabulous hiking, gorgeous swimming pools, and world-class golf. The Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside, the luxury boutique hotel located superbly at the bottom of the gondolas, has put together an excellent family vacation package for some thrilling adventures this summer. The Summer Family Adventure Package (created for a group of two adults and two kids) consists of five nights in a two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen and two bathrooms. The package also includes a five-hour boat trip on Lillooet Lake; a two-and-a-half hour ZipTrek Canopy Tour through the forest treetops; a dog sled tour (without the snow, but thrilling nonetheless); passes to go up Whistler Mountain Peak; and a disposable camera. Starting at $1,739, for family of four. Via Travel and Leisure Hot Deals
June 5, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Nathan Stone
As summer beach season gets underway it's natural to ponder all the amazing creatures that inhabit the oceans. In November 2005, Atlanta opened the doors to the world's largest aquarium, offering a chance to see an amazing array of ocean inhabitants without the scuba gear. Home to over 120,000 aquatic creatures living in over 8 million gallons of water, the massive 200 million dollar aquarium boasts five areas each representing a different ecosystem. The largest exhibit is the Ocean Voyager, which begins with a ride down a curving moving walkway through an acrylic tunnel where stingrays, sharks, and many schools of brightly colored fish appear to fly overhead. The tunnel leads to the main theater, which has a gigantic viewing window.
The aquarium has exceeded all attendance expectations and purchasing time-reserved tickets online is highly recommended. The aquarium is located in Atlanta's Olympic Park near downtown. Both the Four Seasons Atlanta and Ritz Carlton Atlanta are nearby. JavaJive is perhaps the town's hippest brunch spot, offering gingerbread waffles set in an old-style ice cream parlor setting complete with vintage 1950s appliances.
For aquarium lovers, another massive aquarium that will compete in size with Atlanta's is being constructed in The Dubai Mall in Dubai. Other notable aquariums in the U.S. include Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Additional images from my trip can be found in The Informed Traveler Flickr Group.
By: Guest Writer
May 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Bali's island paradise is about to get even more fashionable. Following the successful 2004 debut of the Bulgari Hotel Milan, Bulgari Hotels and Resorts has been designing its second luxury hotel masterpiece, this time perched on a cliff in exclusive isolation overlooking the Indian Ocean. The all-villa retreat will wow guests in October with its traditional Balinese architecture fused with contemporary design. The 59 villas are free standing, luxuriously private, and feature exquisite Balinese antiques, open-air pavilions, terraces, private plunge pools, and of course luxurious Bulgari amenities. For the ultimate in exclusivity, choose the 1,300 sq meter Bulgari Villa, with its two master bedrooms, living room with built-in bar, dining room and home theater, along with the outdoor meditation pavilion, lap pool and extensive terrace. In addition, the Bulgari Resort, Bali will feature a dazzling oceanfront spa, two restaurants, private beach, and a Bulgari store.
May 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's a lot of buzz about New Zealand-- above and beyond the publicity generated by the Lord of the Rings flicks. Everyone's talking about this little island nation on the far south end of the Pacific. (Indeed, Conde Nast readers rated the country the #1 holiday destination in the world.) No matter what the season, New Zealand has it all: breathtaking scenery, recreational activities galore, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Easily the best place to stay on this gorgeous island nation is Huka Lodge, located in Taupo, in the central North Island, and considered one of the world's top retreats. This 20 suite lodge has racked up the awards: Travel and Leisure Top 500 list (the only property in New Zealand with this distinction), Conde Nast Traveler "Best Hotel Rooms in Australasia and South Pacific," Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report "Top 20 International Resort Hotels." And if the awards list seems impressive, you should see the famous guest-list. The guestbook reads like the party of the century.
The setting is magical. Situated in a beautifully landscaped park on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is just a short walk from the spectacular cascades of Huka Falls. As can be expected, activities run the gamut from tennis to petanque, hiking to trout fishing, mountain biking to relaxing in the hot pools and outdoor spa. Spacious, light guestrooms are complemented by outdoor terraces and bathrooms with under-floor heating and sunken baths.
As described recently in Stuff NZ:
Huka Lodge is New Zealand's quintessential super-lodge for the globe-trotting rich, royal and famous… Since 2001, all the guest rooms and the Owner's Cottage - the super suite perched on a rise overlooking the first set of rapids - have been rebuilt or refurbished with the difficult aim of combining the comfort of a five-star hotel with a boysy ruggedness befitting its fishing hut origins.
And the dining is exquisite. Hotel rates include pre-dinner cocktails, a five course dinner and breakfast. All meals are communal seating with some private dinning available.
May 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Recently Robb Report Luxury Resorts singled out the finest luxury hotels in the world, and among the thousands of resorts reviewed, the Four Seasons Langkawi scored at the top of the best new luxury resorts. (Check out the pic at right and you'll see why everyone's making such a fuss.) First, its location. Langkawi is part of a Malaysian archipelago of 99 islands in the clear emerald waters of the Andaman Sea. The resort's island is one of only two of these islands that is inhabited and offers a dramatic mountainous landscape covered with rainforest, towering granite cliffs, and white sand beaches. Four Seasons Langkawi is set on a one-mile stretch of beach against this magical backdrop. Secondly, the spacious guest pavilions and villas. Soaring ceilings, killer views, traditional Malaysian design elements, wood floors, open verandahs, and outdoor showers. Third, the phenomenal facilities, including the beautifully-designed Spa, new Yoga pavilion (opening July 2006), gorgeous pools with private cabanas, and water sports pavilion on the beach. Lastly, and most importantly, Four Seasons Langkawi is distinguished by its exceptional service. Truly the tropical, luxury beach experience of a lifetime.
May 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
An unspoiled, uninhabited island at the far west end of The Turks and Caicos Islands is the setting for a unique eco-conscious residential community and boutique resort developed by Ritz-Carlton. West Caicos Reserve-- located 20 minute boat ride from Providenciales-- is dedicated to preserving the island's natural habitat, and has thus preserved 90 percent of it as open space. Construction has just begun for Ritz-Carlton's 125-suite resort, which will be called Molasses Reef, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Overlooking a 2,600 ft stretch of secluded beach, the 125 oceanfront suites are billed as representing "barefoot luxury at its best." The property also includes 75 Ritz-Carlton-managed residential villas-- for owners to realize dreams of life on an uncharted tropical island yet pampered with the world-class service expected of Ritz-Carlton. More than 50 percent of the villas have already been sold (so hop to it!) The resort, along with its restaurants and spa, is scheduled to open in early 2008.
May 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.