For something a little bit different in the City of Light… The Saint James Paris is the only chateau-hotel in the city, complete with its own expansive, private garden. A stay here feels like you're a guest in a French family’s residence. Indeed, each room is decorated by the owner, with handpicked Parisian boutique furniture. Formerly an exclusive school, before becoming a gentlemen's club, the chateau retains personality from its previous life: a library-bar lined with thousands of bound books, leather armchairs and dark wood paneled walls. 48 rooms and suites are spacious, quiet and full of light, with views overlooking the fountain or the garden. Each has its own style: whether modern, minimalist suites full of contemporary art, or Superior rooms marked by ancient wood doors and marvelous antiques. Of course all rooms boast the best modern technology, additionally.
Saint James Paris, Official Site
Saint James Paris, Five Star Alliance
Hahaha, get this. The International Herald Tribune reports that Norwegian Aviation authorities have issued warnings that "Santa Claus flights could cause delays for Norwegian airline passengers" during December. Huh? Apparently so many tourists flock to visit "Santa's village" on the Arctic Circle in Finland-- that Norwegian airspace gets clogged.
Starting next year, art and sculpture from one of the world's finest collections will be on view at Atlanta's High Museum. This seems truly unprecedented: that Paris' cultural gem has agreed to share part of its collection with another museum for an extended period. The "Louvre in Atlanta Project" is to be launched in January, with an exchange of French and American high school students, followed by the appearance of Louvre exhibits at Atlanta's High Museum in the fall. So much for botched Franco-American relations!
Dear esteemed reader, It's been seven weeks since our launch: 140 posts of favorite luxury hotels, special offers, and trends in luxury travel. What stories have you liked? What's peaked your interest? Or helped in planning a vacation? What would you like to see more of? What do you want axed? Let us know! Additionally, we're always on the look-out for submissions from guest contributors. Burning to share a story from your latest travel adventure? Want to be published? Send them in! We're all ears… (or would that be "eyes")
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Through January 8, 2006, check out the exhibit: Mimesis. Modern Realism. 1918- 45 at the Thyssen-Bornemisza. It focuses on the spread of realism between the World Wars. The whole museum is pretty mind-blowing; a stroll through the permanent collections is like a walk through the best kind of art history class. (Hint: Start on the second floor with the oldest paintings, and work your way down to the 20th century on the ground floor.)
Maybe you're stuffed to the gills with stuffing, but I'd place a bet that you could still squeeze in a few bites at Restaurant Eve-- the best neighborhood bistro in the Washington DC area. The website may be a bit ambitious, a bit over-the-top bold, with their taunting boast: "Are you in the mood for a gastronomic epiphany?" But this place sure does deliver. (I've known Frenchmen even to swoon over the amuse-bouche.) The chef's tasting menus (choose from five or nine courses) include such delights as lobster creme brulee, olive oil poached escolar, and wild Scottish partridge. Yum. And who cares that this destination restaurant is a little outside the beltway? Alexandria's not really the burbs when it's got such historical charm.
Since Belize counts as both Lonely Planet's and my personal destination of the month, thought I'd raise a glass to Placencia's classic cocktail: the Panty Ripper. Concocted with coconut rum and pineapple juice. Belize's One Barrel is arguably the best rum in the Caribbean. Or maybe Cuban reigns supreme? What’s your vote? Bored of mojitos, and care to share your choices of exotic Latin cocktails? Travel and Leisure sings the praises of Guaro (Costa Rica’s spirit of choice, fast becoming the fave of music and entertainment highrollers) in the November issue.
Looking for a winter respite close to home? Charleston, SC will lure you with its sub-tropical climate, history, charm and beautiful architecture. Tour the antebellum homes, play a round of golf at more than 20 courses in the area (including Kiawah, Wild Dunes and the new Arnold Palmer signature course at Rivertowne), or relax on the white sand beaches just 15 minutes from the city center. And this time of year, there are countless special offers at hotels in the area. My pick? The romantic Charleston Place (an Orient Express hotel), with its two great restaurants, elegant rooms, and Spa with horizon edged pool with retractable glass roof. The staff is all about Southern hospitality. Rates as low as $189 are available from November 27-30, and December 18-December 22. Other great deals? Try Kiawah Island Golf Resort, with its zillion activities and trails through nature preserves. For the end of November, rates are a steal at $117.
Charleston Place, Official Site
Charleston Place, Five Star Alliance
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Official Site
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Five Star Alliance
Read about Charleston in The Washington Post’s Vagablog
Vieques has been declared by travel guides to be among the world's best-kept vacation secrets. I guess if the secret's out-- now would be a pretty good time to jump on this special offer at the Martineau Bay Resort and Spa. (Before the hordes descend.) Situated eight miles off Puerto Rico's east coast, the island of Vieques is quiet, secluded, and breathtakingly beautiful. The Martineau's got it all, with tennis courts, pristine beaches, water sports and a world-class spa. Through December 18, rates are $139 a night (double room). Combined with Jet Blue's ridiculously low fares to San Juan, how could you pass this up?
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Official Site
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance