October 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Set amidst swaying coconut palms overlooking the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand, Four Season's newest resort is a stunning hilltop oasis. The spacious Thai villas and residences are surrounded by tropical gardens and coconut groves, and each boast private infinity pools, sundecks, and al fresco living spaces with incredible panoramas of the white sand beaches and turquoise sea. The Spa—deeply rooted in Thailand's rich healing tradition-- is housed in five salas, each equipped with two indoor and two outdoor massage beds, two outdoor showers, an outdoor bathtub and either a steam sauna or an indoor rain shower. And there are tennis courts, a yoga pavilion, and an excellent fitness center. This is the ultimate tropical idyll. Now accepting reservations for arrivals starting February 1, 2007.
Perfectly situated in the heart of the vibrant German capital on Eislebener Strasse just steps from the Kurfürstendamm shopping mile, Brandenburger Hof Berlin is an exclusive luxury boutique hotel that offers a private haven of indulgence in the midst of the bustling city. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Brandenburger Hof features 58 fashionable rooms and 14 suites named after great operas. The Michelin starred restaurant, Die Quadriga, is one of the best in Berlin, boasting a "treasure trove" of 850 German wines. Guests enjoy relaxation and pampering in the Thaleia Beauty and Wellness Suite, where certified masseurs and beauticians offer a full menu of spa services.
With the Christmas in Berlin package, visitors can marvel at the bright lights of the big city beautifully adorned for the holiday season, including the world-famous Christmas market. The package includes three nights accommodation at Brandenburger Hof, limousine transfers, bottle of champagne, Christmas welcome with stollen/mandarins and Christmas cookies in-room, champagne shopping including concierge parcel service, afternoon tea, a three-hour guided stroll through Berlin, entrance to the Christmas market, champagne reception and small Christmas concert in the festive winter garden followed by the Quadriga Christmas eve menu, and tickets to the Christmas concert or the ballet at the Staatsoper. Rates start from EUR 985 per room, inclusive of tax. Valid from December 22, 2006 to December 27, 2006.
Skip the stressful holiday get-togethers and create your own holiday vacation, chilling at four participating Omni Hotels. The unique "Run from the Relatives" package is available from November 18, 2006 to January 7, 2007 at the Omni San Diego, Omni Los Angeles, Omni Tucson, and Omni Interlocken (in Colorado). Soak up the sun or hit the slopes and enjoy 50 percent off rack rates, starting at just $199 per night. The package includes accommodations, breakfast for two in-room, a "whimsical pre-printed menu of excuses" to give relatives, and a $50 American Express gift card "to send to family members to apologize for not seeing them for the holiday."
Americans will spend a record $511 billion dining out this year. And prices at the country's best restaurants are skyrocketing, in part to keep up with the rising cost of high-quality, locally-grown, artisanal ingredients. Forbes has teamed up with the Zagat Survey to determine the priciest restaurants in the US, and topping the list is Masa, the NYC sushi restaurant in the Time Warner Center where the price of dinner for one is about $446. Also on the list? Napa Valley's epic French Laundry ($254 per person), Chicago's futuristic Alinea (12 and 24 course menus are $125 and $175 respectively), Philadelphia's landmark Le Bec-Fin ($120), Alex at Steve Wynn's opulent Vegas hotel ($114), and elegant Virginia establishment The Inn at Little Washington ($141).
From its perch overlooking the largest private beach on the Croisette, the Hotel Martinez reigns over the glamorous French Riviera. The legendary Art Deco palace, the glitzy hotel of choice during the Cannes film festival, is home to one of the few Givenchy spas in the world (and highly-acclaimed top-floor terrace suites that offer panoramic views of the sea from teakwood decks and sunken Jacuzzis). This New Year's Eve, the Hotel Martinez celebrates its film legacy by paying tribute to Bollywood magic. On December 31, the Hotel Martinez transforms the Salon Royal Galuchat to become a fairytale palace reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. There will be a show with dancers, acrobats, singers and musicians a la Bollywood, and a superb dinner with elegant food tastings and wine pairings prepared by chefs Christian Willer and Christian Sinicropi. The "Indian Fairytale New Year's Eve Party" includes the show, gourmet dinner including a bottle of champagne for two, wines chosen by the Master Sommelier, overnight accommodation in a Superior room, buffet breakfast in the restaurant or in-room on New Year's Day, and entry to the fitness area and sauna. The package starts at EUR 915 for two. Extra nights are available from EUR 195 per night, breakfast included.
Hot off the press. Conde Nast Traveler has announced the results of the 19th Annual Readers' Choice Awards—the largest independent poll of consumers' preferences, second in size only to the US Census. (That's a whopping 21,000 travelers voting in this year's survey.)
The number one resort in the big US of A? The perennial preference, our esteemed favorite, the gorgeous Scottsdale resort: Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. The destination spa is surrounded by the magical desert landscape and red rock mountain peaks of the American Southwest, and everything about a stay here is luxurious. An altogether sumptuous experience.
For more info about the other Readers' Choice winners (cruises, airlines, top cities), check out the November 2006 issue of the magazine, which hits newsstands on October 24. Or tune to the Travel Channel on October 25 at 8 pm (ET/PT) for the premiere of the program titled Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards.
Forget the plush Gulfstream G5 or Global Express of the private jet world. The super-rich are opting to upgrade to ultra-luxurious VIP jumbo jets. As profiled in the NYT:
This is about big, long-haul airliners that are converted to private jets and can carry not only pampered passengers and their entourages, but also, in some cases, their Rolls Royces and racehorses. These are specially equipped, privately owned jumbo jets — the kind that normally carry as many 300 to 400 passengers — but reconfigured with interiors designed for the enjoyment of, at most, a couple of dozen.
The newest, coveted jet on the market? The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which seats 210 to 330 passengers as a commercial airliner but is configured with 35 seats under a new "V.I.P" design, and priced starting at $150 million.
Even though the first deliveries of the 787 are not expected until 2008, industry experts say that marketing interior design plans now makes sense because there is always great interest in the next big thing at the highest end of the luxury private jet market. Ordering now ensures getting into the front of the line for a private 787, fully loaded, they say.
Better get crackin'. But be prepared to tack on another $50 million for the fully-loaded interior.
Chocolate chip cookies with milk, Frette robes, "mocktails"… Dublin's luxurious five-star Merrion Hotel has unveiled the "Miss and Master Merrion" program, where young guests are welcomed with a slew of complimentary amenities (and pampered alongside their 'rents). While children are delighted by the in-room milk and cookies (note: healthier options are available), babies receive complimentary products such as baby wash, moisturizer, talcum powder, and bottles. Frette children's robes and slippers are available in-room, and also at the Tethra Spa. Special children's menus include delightful homemade options including real chicken nuggets, chicken noodle soup, homemade pizza, and pigs in a blanket. And the bartender at No. 23 or The Cellar Bar can even prepare "mocktails" for kids to enjoy alongside their parents. (There's a wealth of family entertainment in Dublin-- from the Dublin Zoo to the Lambert Puppet Theater--easily arranged by the Merrion concierge.)
You are invited to a special culinary event at the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Georgia's celebrated French-style Chateau with a full-production winery renowned for its award-winning premium vintages. On November 3, 2006, the Chateau will host a fun-filled evening of exquisite cuisine and fine wine in the Cask Room, with Executive Chef Marc Suennemann and Winemaker Dan Baldwin. Enjoy a beautifully-prepared Five-Course Dinner for Two, luxurious overnight accommodations, a specially labeled bottle of Chateau Elan wine, and breakfast for two the following morning at Versailles. Seating is limited and the cost of the two-person package is $469 (excluding tax). Situated just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, the Chateau Elan is surrounded by 3,500 acres of picturesque vineyards. In addition to the winery, the resort boasts a fabulous spa and dining establishments.
Music City is home to many lively restaurants, bars, and nightlife where famed entertainers first made their mark. But Nashville's also full of museums, exciting attractions, culture, and art (try symphony, ballet, opera…) And the city positively comes alive during the holiday season. Visitors to Nashville can enjoy the Ray Charles exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Broadway's The Lion King at the Tennessee Performing Art's Center, Victorian Holiday Tours at Belle Meade Plantation, and the Titans vs. Patriots game on New Year's Eve. Book a room at the AAA five diamond award-winning Hermitage Hotel and experience the exceptional personalized service and first-rate facilities cited by the Robb Report when naming it one of the world's best luxury hotels. After a $19 million renovation, the historic Hermitage hotel shines as the city's finest, with its exquisite stained glass lobby ceiling, marble columns and staircases, and Russian walnut paneling. The elegant hotel is offering festive packages for the holiday season.