January 30, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Situated in the heart of Mayfair, surrounded by beautiful boutiques and public gardens, The Connaught is one of the world's most distinguished addresses. Often described as "a country manor in the heart of London," The Connaught is beloved by its international clientele for its impeccable service and discreet charm. (And the famous winding mahogany staircase, of course!) The 67 rooms and 24 suites are luxurious hideaways, with open fireplaces and exquisite antiques. At this home-away-from-home, guests appreciate the 24-hour dedicated butler service, Fitness Studio, and MENU restaurant, its gorgeous interior designed by Nina Campbell and kitchen managed by super chef Gordon Ramsay. And now, the Maybourne Hotel Group, which manages the celebrated trio of super luxury London hotels, has announced a multi-million pound facelift for The Connaught. Starting April 1, 2007, The Connaught will undergo a restoration program which will ensure the hotel's position as one of the finest in the world for many years to come. What's in store? Loads of technological advancements, redesigned bedrooms, remodeled public space, and-- in the second phase of the renovation-- an additional 31 rooms, state-of-the-art spa with pool, and meeting facilities. The hotel will be closed for six months, during which time the staff with relocate to the hotel's sister properties, The Berkeley and Claridge's. Take advantage of a limited time special offer during the hotel's Au Revoir weekend. To give guests the final opportunity to stay at The Connaught prior to its restoration, the hotel is offering special rates starting at GBP 129 per night for a Superior Queen bedded room (single occupancy). Subject to availability, valid for arrivals February 2-4, 2007.
This is almost too good to be true. The exclusive private island of Cayo Espanto, located just eight minutes by boat from Ambergris Cay, Belize, has discounted its rates more than 40 percent for five night stays. For a limited time, take advantage of rates starting from $995 per couple, per night (compared to the usual $1,695 per night), including meals and transportation from the San Pedro Airport. The ultra-luxurious Cayo Espanto pampers guests with spa services, private plunge pools, personalized gourmet meals, and 24-hour butler service. From your own oceanfront villa, enjoy 180 degree wrap-around views of the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. Or contemplate the blue deep from your private dock, or al fresco shower. Activities are plentiful: fly-fishing, sailing, boating, conching, and scuba diving and snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world. But hurry, you must book this offer by February 14, 2007.
Looking for the ultimate romantic escape? Overwhelmed by all your options? The good folks at Sherman's Travel have sorted through the vast number of travel promotions and compiled a list of sweet specials sure to entice even the most cynical Valentine's skeptic. They've even included a getaway deal for sassy singles. Their top five picks include a Parisian séjour, Valentine's in Venice, "Be My Valentine" package at Aspen's Hotel Jerome, Bermuda Beach Escape, and a rocking Singles Cruise in the Caribbean.
A boutique luxury hotel that reflects Montreal's rich French heritage, Loews Hotel Vogue is an enclave of sumptuous sophistication located in the very heart of the city. Guests fall in love with the imaginative restaurant menu, the beautiful L'Opera bar, and plush, comfortable guest rooms. The 126 guestrooms and 16 suites feature down duvets and pillows, a whirlpool bath and separate glassed-in shower, and a workstation with a two-line cordless phone and high-speed internet access. But what really sets the hotel a part is its exemplary personal service; the attentive, multilingual staff cater to guests' every need and desire. Indeed, Loews Hotel Vogue has even introduced on staff the world's first Syrup Sommelier, to teach guests about Canada's fine maple syrups. Guests can now take advantage of the experiential Sugar Season learning vacation package, available until April 30, 2007. Priced at $595, the one night package includes accommodations in a premium guest room, private limousine transportation to and from one of Quebec's traditional "sugar shacks" for an educational tour, and a maple-infused breakfast created specially by the hotel's Syrup Sommelier, Executive Chef Omar Fathallah.
PS. Warm winter rates at Loews Hotel Vogue are a steal, starting at just CAD $149 a night.
Each spring, visitors flock to the nation's capital for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. From March 31-April 15, 2007, the Willard Intercontinental will celebrate the awesome beauty of the cherry blossoms with stunning floral displays, overnight packages, spa treatments, and delicious Cherry Blossom Tea. Centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Washington, the Willard Intercontinental gracefully combines tradition with contemporary comfort and technology. Ranked among America's best historic hotels, the Beaux-Arts Willard has hosted almost every US president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. It was here that Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, where Abraham Lincoln lived for a month, where, in the grand lobby, President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the word "Lobbyist" and where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King finished his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. The Willard is a major force in the social and political life of Washington to this day.
The luxurious hotel is transformed into a springtime wonderland for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Willard's lobby and Peacock Alley promenade is decorated with live Cherry Blossoms and a display including historic renderings of the first Japanese delegation to America. (Three ambassadors and their entourage of 74 stayed at the Willard in an historic visit to Washington to ratify the nations' new Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1860.) Conveniently located near the tree-lined Tidal Basin, the Cherry Blossom Parade route and other festival events, the Willard is the perfect choice for festival enthusiasts. Guests can enjoy seasonal cherry cocktails at the historic Round Robin Bar. Or sip cherry-infused teas and nibble on festive themed edibles such as Petite Cherry Custard Tarts, Dry Cherry and Vanilla Scones with Homemade Cherry Marmalade and Devonshire Cream, and Hand Made Cherry Candy, while listening to live music in Peacock Alley. Or prepare for the Cherry Blossom Festivities with a special facial and massages at the luxurious I Spa at the Willard. Take advantage of the Very Cherry Willard Package, starting at $329, which includes accommodations, a special cherry amenity, plus the choice of one of the following: American breakfast for two, a second room at half price for children under 18, upgrade to a Deluxe room, or parking. This package reflects savings of $250. Prices are per room, plus tax, based upon availability and are available from March 16 through April 15, 2007.
Named the "Best Resort" in Travel and Leisure's Second Annual Design Awards (2006), Amanbagh is set within a walled oasis, high in the Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan, India. A contemporary sanctuary, Amanbagh embraces the history of Rajasthan's dramatic frontier with echoes of the region's Moghul architecture. This is the perfect spot to experience firsthand the traditions and culture of mythical Rajasthan. Operated by the world's top luxury hotel group (according to Zagat, anyway), Amanbagh is as opulent and plush as to be expected of Amanresorts's luxury boutique hotels worldwide. Nestled within a lush oasis of palm, eucalyptus and fruit trees, Amanbagh is an architectural delight of domed cupolas, inner courtyards, and fountains, designed in pink marble and sandstone. The resort boasts 24 haveli suites and 16 pool pavilions, a 33 meter swimming pool, 12 meter wading pool, lounge, roof terrace, library, gym, boutique, gallery, and two excellent restaurants. Guests enjoy Yoga sessions and spa treatments including massages, scrubs, facials and healing Ayurvedic remedies. Nearby activities include trekking, boating, horse riding, camel safaris, and cultural tours by jeep to traditional villages, forts, temples and Moghul ruins scattered throughout the surrounding hills and valleys. Experience Amanbagh's mystical aura with a three-night Shanti Experience, which includes elegant accommodations in a haveli suite, a complimentary Indian head or foot massage, and a half-day excursion to the Aravalli Hills. The Shanti Experience starts at $1,440 for a Courtyard Haveli Suite; valid until April 30, 2008. Three night minimum stay required.
What a better way to spend Valentine's Day than at one of the finest, most romantic hotels in the world? For the past 60 years, the Mobil five star award-winning Hotel Bel-Air has welcomed generations of lovers on this special day. The embodiment of LA glamour and luxury, this could be the city's most prestigious address. For this year's special Valentine's event, the Hotel Bel-Air has partnered with Laurent-Perrier Champagne to premiere their most delicious and rare vintages, paired with five courses from the master chefs. Following an elegant reception with hors d'oeuvres, the dinner will start at 7 pm. The menu includes a Terrine of Foie Gras and Date Chutney paired with Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut, Citrus Butter Braised Maine Lobster with Spring Vegetable Essence paired with Laurent-Perrier Brut Vintage 1995 in Magnum, a Seared Filet of Beef with Truffle Twice Baked Potato and Sauce Périgueux paired with a Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose 1997, in Magnum, and for dessert-- a sinful Fig Soufflé with Passion Fruit Anglaise and Kissing Swans, paired with Laurent-Perrier Demi Sec. At 8:30 pm, John Brown and his four-piece band will kick off the dancing festivities. Priced at $225 per person, not including tax and gratuity.
Sexy and sophisticated, the new Keating Hotel is set to become a San Diego hotspot. Recently featured in both Urban Zeitgeist and Sherman's Travel Magazine, this chic design hotel is the first hotel creation by Pininfarina, of Ferrari fame. Billed as an "urban lifestyle hotel," The Keating oozes sexiness in the details: sinful bedding (down duvets and pillows, Italian linens), LavAzza espresso machines by Pininfarina, personalized sip and crave bars in-room, and the subterranean lounge: the exclusive high-tech bar and focal point of the hotel, destined to emerge as the place to see and be seen in San Diego. The hotel is bringing a winning combination of Europe and Soho to Southern California. To quote Sherman's Travel Magazine:
This fall The Keating hotel unveiled its overhaul of a century-old Romanesque Revival gem in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Pininfarina, best known for their design work with Ferrari, turned the historic building modern with sleek, minimal interiors.
Each of the hotel's 35 luxurious suites (called "Stanzas," Italian for guestroom) are decked out with custom designed furnishings, vaulted ceilings, Bang and Olufsen's Beo Vision electronics, Dornbracht fixtures, and all the latest, cutting-edge technology. For a limited time, take advantage of excellent Grand Opening special rates, starting at $269 a night in a Stanza room. Valid until January 31, 2007.
Hit the slopes at Ski Santa Fe, recently recognized by readers of Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 20 ski resorts in North America. Soak up the splendor of New Mexico's mountains and enjoy the season's record snowfall, just a short drive from charming, downtown Santa Fe. Stay at the award-winning La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa and score a lift ticket-inclusive package for just $135 per person, per night! Nestled on six landscaped acres in the heart of Santa Fe, the resort offers adobe-style accommodations in a magical garden setting. La Posada de Santa Fe exudes Southwestern culture with its vibrant artwork, kiva fireplaces, signature cuisine at Fuego restaurant, and Southwest-inspired spa treatments at the luxurious Avanyu Spa. Ski and stay at Santa Fe's legendary resort with the special lift ticket-inclusive package. The package includes accommodations, full day lift tickets for two, and unlimited use of the Avanyu Spa steam and fitness rooms. (Priced at $135 per person during the week and $147 on weekends.) Or, for the ultimate winter escape, choose the Ski, Dine and Unwind Package, which includes two nights accommodation, two 50 minute Dancing Wind Massages or two Flowing Water Massages, two half-day lift tickets each day to Ski Santa Fe, and lunch for two at Fuego. This package is priced from $190 per person, per night. Available until April 14, 2007.
Cancun's most luxurious resort, the AAA five diamond Ritz-Carlton, has unveiled a brand, spanking new Culinary Center. Overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the $500,000 recreational kitchen facility features the world's finest equipment from Viking Range Corporation. Guests explore an exciting approach to food and wine with classes, demonstrations, and tastings. Rory Dunaway, the chef de cuisine, shares professional techniques and recipes through interactive, hands-on cooking experiences. Participants learn the secrets to authentic Mexican cuisine, and-- with Wine and Tequila tastings-- learn about beverage culture and how it is linked to culinary traditions. The Center utilizes the freshest, local ingredients for its two-hour classes, which feature three to five themed recipes. Guests can select from a menu of 12 different themed sessions a week: Monday's Cooking Without Heat class focuses on light, low-fat delicacies using marinades, lime and other ingredients (think ceviche and sushi), while Wednesday's Tuscan Dinner Party introduces classic Italian recipes using fresh ingredients and authentic techniques. Ritz-Carlton's Culinary Center is open six days a week. Wine and Tequila tastings are offered at 6:30 pm in the evenings.