LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
October 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
What do you get when you combine luxury, serenity, and incredibly gifted hands? The best spa resorts, of course! Check out our list of the top 10 luxury spas all over the world, make your reservation for that much needed vacation, and step into a relaxing paradise of mineral baths, facials, saunas, mud masks, massages, and much more.
This peaceful spa is surrounded by forest on the Pacific Ocean, creating the perfect, natural environment with the sound of splashing waves and the smell of the ocean permeating the atmosphere. This spa offers high-quality spa products and its estheticians focus on providing a truly relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Located in the wine country of San Francisco, this spa is surrounded by private gardens and breathtaking views of Napa Valley. This spa offers the opportunity to partake in relaxing activities for romantic couples or friends of four with access to a private outdoor garden and hot spring. Embrace this spa’s philosophy of nurturing the body and mind while sinking into a peaceful state of relaxation.
This one is considered to be one of Asia’s most spectacular spa resorts. All of this resort’s 123 villas have access to their own garden and an open air sunken bathtub, 52 of its villas have their own Jacuzzi, and 46 have their own private swimming pool. For the ultimate getaway, consider one of 13 villas with access to a private pool, Jacuzzi, private steam, and sauna room, and be sure to sign up for this hotel’s renowned ‘Intimate Moments’ partner massage.
The Grove is London’s cosmopolitan country estate, and it offers spa treatments that sooth and stimulate all of your senses. This spa prides itself on offering a total caring experience and ensuring that you escape, relax, and re-energize during your stay. Breathe in the tranquility, breath out the stress, and leave with a little more balance in your life.
This spa is located in a private red rock canyon in Sedona, Arizona-- in what is considered to be one of the most sacred healing places on Earth. World class spa therapists create unique and memorable experiences and offer a variety of specially tailored services, aiming to provide a sense of harmony and health.
This Miami Beach luxury spa embraces ancient traditions and offers a complete experience with access to three private, sparkling swimming pools. This spa is dedicated to absolute privacy and relaxation, and its treatments will leave you feeling fresh and revitalized.
This exotic, Hawaiian themed spa integrates tropical gardens and exudes serenity. Its complimentary, pre-spa services include access to the lap pool, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, and cold plunges. The treatment massages can be performed outside amidst beautiful nature and bamboo that naturally bring about a sense of calm.
This spa embraces the ancient philosophy of individualized treatments to reach harmony from the inside out. Be sure to take advantage of their unique treatment options and enjoy various services made especially for your needs.
Inspired by the surrounding ocean, this resort has eight magnificent treatment rooms and offers suites equipped with outdoor soaking tubs. The spa treatments utilize essences of plants, aromas of healing flowers, and herbs and spices, all blended together to create soothing and rejuvenating recipes for an enhanced experience.
Dramatically located on a cliff’s edge, this spa overlooks the resort and the beautiful Sir Francis Drake Channel below. The indigenous botanical resources along with therapeutic practices make for the most relaxing spa experience. The best part, however, is that this spa is willing to accommodate you in their Cliff Spa Suite, in your room, on the beach, or even under the stars!
Try as we might, we just couldn’t pick one favorite, so we encourage you to share your favorite luxury spa experiences with us on Facebook. Is your favorite spa on our list? Let us know! We love hearing from you.
By: Oksana Balytsky
October 24, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
It’s a common misconception that traveling with kids means you cannot stay in 5-star, luxury hotels. While it is true that the industry standard is double occupancy, many luxury hotels are willing to make adjustments and modifications to best accommodate you and your travel companions. In order to choose the best room(s) at the best rate(s), we’ve come up with 5 tips to help you plan your next travel excursion, and ensure an enjoyable trip with kids.
#1: Provide the hotel with details including the number of kids traveling with you as well as their ages. This is to make sure the hotel is prepared for your arrival and has time to make the necessary adjustments to your room. Providing this information will also ensure that the appropriate adjustments are made, and that a crib is not added for the 13-year-old teenager traveling with you.
#2: Many hotels will be able to provide extra bedding for one child, but it is unlikely that they will be able to provide bedding for two or more children in one room. If you’re traveling with another adult and two or more kids, consider booking a suite, but be sure to double check with the hotel to find out how many people the suite sleeps, and make your travel plans from there.
#3: If you are traveling with children that are older, and the hotel of your choice does not have suites that suit your needs, consider reserving 2 rooms and requesting that they be adjacent, adjoining, or connecting rooms.
#4: If you are traveling with children that are younger and two adults, we advise that you book two rooms, request that they be adjacent, adjoining, or connecting rooms, and have one adult stay in each room.
#5: Be flexible, open, and willing to take advice and make adjustments as need be. Please be aware that all requests are simply requests only, and cannot be guaranteed until confirmed with the hotel.
We hope these tips ease the stress of planning your next trip with kids, and we wish you happy travels and a truly memorable experience!
By: Oksana Balytsky
October 14, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
Hilton's Conrad brand of luxury hotels has been around for a quarter century. And to celebrate that milestone, they're giving away hotel credits to guests who check into their hotels around the world- from Indianapolis to the Maldives (pictured)- this fall. So whether you're craving chocolate in Brussels, doing business in Tokyo, or shopping Chicago's Magnificent Mile, choose Conrad and you'll get a nice little birthday present. Simply book the "Conrad 25th Anniversary Promotion" rate for stays through November 30th, 2011, and receive a $25 hotel credit for each night of your stay.
October 7, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
Hello friends/acquaintances/internet (wo)men,
Today I want to take some time out of my busy schedule to address an important issue in the hotel world. Randall Munroe of XKCD has been kind enough to bring to our attention one of the problems plaguing hotels and travelers alike: The bogus hotel review. Who are these evil people who are out to ruin the reputation of perfectly good hotels and steer you wrong in your vacation plans? Are they fun-hating scrooges who kick puppies and steal candy from babies? Maybe. But that doesn’t have much to do with writing reviews. Maybe instead they’re hired guns engaging in intricate plots of corporate espionage, compromising their rivals with claims of bed bugs and sticky-fingered staff. Or maybe they’re just entitled people full of rage at some perceived slight: “Agh, my muffin wasn’t cut in half for me! Worst hotel ever!!!”
We may never know for sure. But what we do know is this: Telling the real reviews from the fake is just as important as any step in the booking process. And it can be really difficult to do so. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my time working with online reviews.
1.Don’t base your decision off a single negative review. Look at the aggregate of a hotel’s reputation online and across more than one site. Some of the biggest review sites are so worried about trustworthiness, they're changing their slogans. Any mistake can be made once, but the mark of a problem is when more than one person on more than one site points out the same bad service.
2.Go to the experts. If industry staples are reviewing a hotel well, it’s unlikely that poor reviews are anything but an anomaly. And conversely if it’s getting bad reviews, you might want to think twice about booking. This isn’t to say you should ignore customer reviews, however. Professional reviews are great at getting drilling deep into the nitty-gritty of a hotel stay and evaluating across multiple hotels, but customers are more likely to spot the most recent changes in a hotel’s practices. If a hotel has taken a turn for the worse, customers will be the first to know.
3.Pay attention to the language. According to a study by Cornell researchers, if a reviewer itemizes every experience they had, mentions the name of the hotel, and uses a lot of exclamation points, there’s a chance that it’s been generated by the hotel itself. Plenty of people enjoy their stays and want to gush about them, but very few will take the time to give you an itemized list of everything you can see and do there.
4. Above all, trust your instincts. Ultimately, reading online reviews is about reading the people who wrote them, and even after only a couple of sentences you’ll have a good sense of who is trustworthy. If you think someone sounds like a fake or is completely irrational, don’t let them color your judgment.
From supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.
From special spa treatments to private guitar lessons for adolescents, hotels are noticing the teenager set. The latest trend in the hospitality world is the teen lounge created exclusively for teenagers at luxury hotels. Read: no adults allowed. At the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, the Blur Teen Lounge was an instant hit when it opened in April. Traveling with an adolescent can be tricky, but the Teen Lounge provides a separate area for independent-minded teens to hang out and relax, while still on hotel property. Another big attraction? All the technology, like iPads, an Xbox 360, a Playstation 3, a 46-inch LCD HDTV, and a DVD library. Also in Arizona: the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has an exclusive teen lounge called The Hang Out.
September 28, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.
Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.
September 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to Four Seasons to put together the ultimate globe-trotting adventure: Around the World by Private Jet. Departing from Los Angeles on October 29, 2012, this 22-day adventure will hit up Four Seasons destinations in Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia, Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Egypt and the UK. Just 78 guest will be whisked away on a specially-outfitted Boeing 757 provided by TCS & Starquest Expeditions. (Jetsetters will feel right at home in the VIP seats, attended to by a Four Seasons concierge, and debriefed on destinations by onboard experts in art history, cuisine, and more.) On the ground, personalized itineraries will include local specialties, behind-the-scenes tours, and off-the-beaten path treasures. Here are a few of the highlights of this three-week trip:
Two of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawai’i, the vibrant coral gardens of the South Pacific, Sydney’s iconic buildings and scenic gorges, the mystical allure of Ayers Rock, Bali’s Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and Yeh Pulu temples, Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Agra’s Taj Mahal, Mumbai’s Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, and a private, lantern-lit dinner amid the pyramids of Gîza.
Pictured: Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran Bay.
September 20, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
I’m about to depart from my normal articles to give you an important notice. So sit up straight, get out your quill and inkwell, and start taking notes. Are you listening? Good. Because September 26, a week from now, is National Love Note Day. Largely created so your significant other has an opportunity to critique your writing skills, this important landmark in a relationship is a chance to really step up the romance. So get ready to tell her how you really feel, using the liberal application of glitter.
One of the hallmarks of a good card (hah!) is its presentation, so don’t just give it to them in your kitchen over Chinese takeout (although major bonus points if you hide it in a fortune cookie). Instead take them to your favorite destination, spend a night away in a wonderful hotel, and give them the royal treatment. Some hotels, like the Four Seasons Boston, are even offering to help you out if you don’t fancy yourself clever enough to match the words of Keats or Longfellow. Using some famous expressions of love to liken your relationship to the great romances in history, the Four Seasons will craft a card with whatever turn of phrase you desire. Need some ideas for locale? Check out the Reuters top ten romantic hotels. Honestly, I can’t think of a better time for a romantic getaway.
September 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Whether you love it for late-night snack binging, or hate it for its over-priced bag of peanuts, who doesn't have an opinion about the hotel mini-bar? (No surprise that this is one of our favorite subjects; one of the first things we do upon check-in is swing open the door to the mini-bar to check out the goods. Curious about the history of the mini-bar? Check out our article on its "Fabulous Evolution" here.) So imagine our delight when we stumbled upon a recent Wall Street Journal article about how hotels are overhauling their mini-bar offerings, substituting gourmet local goodies for the boring standard items. Surprisingly, hotels actually lose money on mini-bars; the contents expire, have to replenished, need to be checked by employees daily. To quote:
In an attempt to convince guests to spring for pricey treats, some hotels are swapping out the standard potato chips and candy for unique local snacks or other items you can't get at the nearest 7-Eleven. The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, for example now offers ham-flavored Chilean almonds. The Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz., swapped out bottles of its lowest-selling beer, Heineken, with Grand Canyon Pilsner, a local brew. Loews Hotels is in the process of adding more locally sourced items to the minibars at its 18 hotels, such as chocolates from Dylan's Candy Bar in New York. Omni Hotels & Resorts will soon test a gluten-free pretzel in its minibars.