Monkeys giggle above in the trees. The sun is scorching hot overhead. From the road, the jungle overgrowth suddenly parts to reveal the majestic domes of ancient Angkor Wat. Fragrant orange blossoms hang from the trees, matching the brilliant robes of the Buddhist monks who are seated around the temples. Welcome to the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Watch the sun set (or rise) over the magnificent Angkor Wat (the largest and most celebrated of the temples), gaze at the huge stone heads at Bayon, and walk through the mysterious calm of Ta Prohm, where trees' gnarled root systems are slowly overtaking the temples. (And after all, this was where Angelina Jolie's Laura Croft toted those big-- um-- guns on the set for Tomb Raider!!! Sweet.) Where to stay? Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, of course. With 60,000 sq meters of tranquil gardens, Cambodian art and architecture, and superb restaurants and spa.
Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Official Site
Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Five Star Alliance
Effective January 2006, all 77 Westin hotels in the U.S. and Canada are instituting a new brand-wide smoke-free policy. Following LA and NY restaurants, where smokers are banished to the cold and dreary sidewalks, huddled together in their vice, Westin will begin ostracizing smokers to "designated outdoor areas."
Half Moon, Montego Bay is celebrating the big 5-0 and has thus come up with some pretty sweet packages. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and space is available for the winter holidays, so why not book the "Take Me To The Moon" package? From $589 a night, includes swank accommodations, sumptuous food and—could it be?—unlimited beverage, unlimited use of the fitness center and tennis courts, a welcome gift with champagne, and round trip airport transfers. Chill on the palm-dotted beaches or in your choice of 50 freshwater pools, unwind at the spa, partake in the water sports, or challenge yourself on the world-class tennis courts and golf course. The dining options? For a self-contained little paradise, the restaurant choices are almost (surprisingly) limitless.
Half Moon, Official Site
Half Moon, Five Star Alliance
We're loving today's candy, with lots of recs for the City of Light. Perfectly mahvelous boutique hotels, more palatial pads, and shopping, of course. (What would a trip to Par-ee be without picking up some pretty paper and ass-squeezing designer jeans?)
Vagablond reports today that N'awlins has begun offering the first free wireless internet network owned and operated by a major city. Let's hope the trend catches on! In related news, Gadling's got a great piece about free wifi in the nation's airports. (MSN's top five include Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Jose, Miami, and- um- the hopping metropolis of Albuquerque.)
New screening procedures are going into effect on December 22 in the nation's airports, and even little scissors pass the test! So my tweezers won't be thrown out again by some overly-competent airport screener?! Could it be? I was told recently that a sea-shell was a hazardous and dangerous weapon that could not possibly be carried on the plane. Let's hope the rules of old do not linger residually... Via CNN
In July, the National Zoo welcomed a male panda cub-- Tai Shan. The little guy has been hanging safe with mom in a den for the first few months, before making his debut for visitors on December 8th! In collaboration with the Zoo-- in celebration of these cool creatures-- the Fairmont has put together a Panda Package. Come check out these endangered animals at the National Zoo, get pampered at the Fairmont, and feel good knowing that the hotel makes a donation to FONZ's Giant Panda Conservation Fund each time the package is booked. What's included? Overnight accommodations for two adults and two kids in a luxurious guestroom. A Zoo Welcome Kit with discount coupons, a stuffed Panda, zoo map, Giant Panda fact sheet, Kids' Giant Panda activity booklet, Panda postcard, Giant Panda video album CD, disposable FujiFilm camera, ticket for six people to the FujiFilm Giant Panda Habitat during your stay, copy of ZooGoer mag, and area dining guide.
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Official Site
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Five Star Alliance
Though it's beyond gimmicky (who was the big brain behind this name?), THEhotel is anything but corny. In 43 stories rising above the Strip, it's got the largest standard rooms in Vegas (a measly 750 square feet). The place is a playground packed with cosmopolitan fun: the 1,117 one-bedroom suites with wet bar, marble bathroom, plasma TV; the Bathhouse Spa with its pools of different temperatures, baths and flowing waterfall; and the swank Lounge (with delish cocktail concoctions) on the very top floor. Don't be fooled by December's ridiculously low rates; THEhotel is a sizzling Vegas destination.
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Official Site
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Five Star Alliance
Following the trend of fashion labels moving into the hotel sector (Armani, Versace and Bulgari), Missoni is creating a new line of hotels. Set to open in 2007, the brand will be all about contemporary Italian life and style. (Will the rooms be decked out in that trademark psychedelic pattern?) Via the International Herald Tribune
December 1, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Miami's getting hotter, with a new Viceroy hotel planned for 2008. The Kor Hotel group's hotel-residence project combines their famous luxury boutique concept with condominiums. Who's designing the Viceroy Icon Brickell? Rumor has it that it's the architecture firm Arquitectonica and legendary designer Phillipe Starck... Talk about a dream team.