It's big, it's bad…Royal Caribbean's new boat eclipses them all. Freedom of the Seas is set to sail, and the media is abuzz. At 208 feet tall, weighing 160,000 tons, and with a capacity for 4,000 passengers, this baby dwarfs Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and grabs the title of world's biggest passenger ship. The mother of them all sports some pretty nifty "firsts" in the cruising world: rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with (Good God) Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing pool called "Flow Rider." And as recommended by Fodor's, the perfect family cruise experience. Look out, Caribbean.
Fodor's Travel Wire, "Royal Caribbean's Big New Boat"
A Luxury Travel Blog, "Freedom of the Seas in Hamburg"
Yahoo! News, "Freedom of the Seas Is Largest Ship Ever"
Come November, the new InterContinental Boston will bring five star rooms (424 of them) to a stellar location overlooking Boston Harbor within walking distance of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. According to the Boston Herald, bookings for corporate events are already taking off. And it's no wonder--the hotel will have a prime spot near the Convention Center, the second largest ballroom in downtown (a total of 32,000 sq ft of conference and banquet facilities), state-of-the-art technology, and a classy interior of rich paneling, marble and leather. Boston is welcoming a hotel boom at the moment with exemplary spots like this one. As described by the Herald, here's a taste of what’s to come:
The exterior, a bold statement for Boston, features sleek, modern glass. The windows on the front of the hotel facing Atlantic Avenue curve in and out to evoke the feeling of a flag. On the harborside, they are curved in to convey a sail.
Courtesy of Forbes.com. Vanity Fair's Oscar Party? Been there, done that. But what about Le Bal Des Debutantes, at the smashing Hotel de Crillon in Paris? Or the Monte Carlo Red Cross gala? Or Playboy's Midsummer Night's Dream Party? (The full list of high-rollers hang-outs is here.) Hurry up and score an invite! You're so there.
Not only are airlines continuing to lose bags at an abysmal rate, but now they're slapping on the baggage fees (overweight bag and you'll have to pony up the dough). Hence the launch of luggage shipping. Skip the hassle of airport check-in, kiss goodbye to bag-schlepping on taxis and trains, avoid the wait at baggage claim, and travel worry-free knowing that your bags will be waiting for you at your destination. Brilliant. Who are the big guys in luggage shipping? Luggage Free bills itself the "luxury luggage delivery expert," specializing in the delivery of excess baggage, golf clubs, skis and oversize stuff. Luggage Concierge offers competitive pricing and a first-class experience, with solid insurance coverage. Luggage Forward provides door-to-door luggage and sports equipment delivery to more than 200 countries globally. Luggage Forward recently announced a sweet new development in their business model: a walk-up forwarding location at the Nantucket Memorial Airport. The fully-staffed counter will be available during the busy summer season, and is the first instance of a luggage forwarding company creating a satellite location. By now, discerning travelers have caught on to the trend of luggage forwarding. Pray tell: how do you like it? What has been your experience? How many days does the process require? Will you ever check baggage on your flights again? Fill us in!
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.
Spice things up with a one-night romantic escape at New York's timeless classic: The Carlyle. A landmark on Madison Avenue, The Carlyle is all about elegance and refined taste. Like a stately private residence, The Carlyle welcomes its guests with the most exacting and discreet service. Enjoy sweeping views of Central Park from your sumptuous suite, individually appointed with the finest fabrics and Frette linens, some featuring private terraces and grand pianos. Rekindle the romance with a getaway to The Carlyle with the Legendary Love Package, which includes: accommodations for one night, chocolates, champagne and roses on arrival, one dinner for two in The Carlyle Restaurant, cover charges for two persons to see Elaine Stritch at Cafe Carlyle, Continental breakfast for two in bed, and two spa treatments at Exhale (up to $100 per treatment).
The Carlyle, Five Star Alliance
So you're tardy again and are scouring FTD, Red Envelope, and all the best of them for the perfect last minute gift for Mom. (Just when you vowed, after shopping on Christmas Eve last year, never to be last minute again.) Why not spoil Mom with a night at the best and most exclusive joint Vegas has to offer, where vibrant, luxurious rooms are complimented by the most opulent and decadent of facilities? Amazing Spa, check. Designer boutiques, check. Golf, enormous casino, restaurants, entertainment, check. Just what does the Wynn Las Vegas not have?
This Summer Special is almost too good to be true. From June 1 to September 15, book a two-night stay at any Peninsula Hotel worldwide, and get spoiled with a complimentary gift of your choice: spa treatment, romantic dinner for two, traditional afternoon tea, airport transfers or late check-out. For example, when you stay for a minimum of two consecutive nights at The Peninsula Hong Kong, you can choose one value-added benefit from the following: round trip limousine airport transfers, one set dinner for two persons at Gaddi's, or one 80-minute ESPA Holistic Body Massage for two persons. And this is for ANY Peninsula Hotel, located in seven awesome locations worldwide.
The folks at Daily Candy have scouted the world for their favorite summer festivals, and we can't help but heartily agree with their picks. Especially with the Scottish vote. The Fringe Festival is an outrageously fun and quirky event, full of alternative whimsy and improv energy, billed as "the biggest arts festival in the world." (Last year they hosted a whopping 1,800 shows in 250 venues.) The 60th annual festival, running from August 6-28, promises to be equally as exciting, with theather and comedy shows galore. Where to stay? Do it right and score a room at Rocco Forte's Balmoral, of course. A perfect location, serious Scottish charm, Michelin star rated restaurant, swanky spa, CNT Gold List awarded rooms, and spectacular views of the Edinburgh Castle… what more could you ask for?
Rocco Forte Balmoral Hotel, Five Star Alliance
China is quickly gaining ground as a hotspot for tourism (ranked the world's 4th most visited nation). And in easily the most beautiful spot in the entire country-- with breathtaking natural scenery of winding rivers and limestone outcroppings covered in vegetation-- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is planning to open the Shangri-La Hotel, Guilin. Slated to open in 2009, the hotel will be situated on the Li Jiang River, with its 418 guestrooms boasting river views. Guests can expect all the luxurious Shangri-La amenities, including wireless internet, business center, numerous dining options, health club, spa and swimming pools. This former backpackers mecca in southeastern China will no doubt be transformed by the arrival of a five star hotel by Asia's leading luxury hotel group.