June 5, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Nathan Stone
As summer beach season gets underway it's natural to ponder all the amazing creatures that inhabit the oceans. In November 2005, Atlanta opened the doors to the world's largest aquarium, offering a chance to see an amazing array of ocean inhabitants without the scuba gear. Home to over 120,000 aquatic creatures living in over 8 million gallons of water, the massive 200 million dollar aquarium boasts five areas each representing a different ecosystem. The largest exhibit is the Ocean Voyager, which begins with a ride down a curving moving walkway through an acrylic tunnel where stingrays, sharks, and many schools of brightly colored fish appear to fly overhead. The tunnel leads to the main theater, which has a gigantic viewing window.
The aquarium has exceeded all attendance expectations and purchasing time-reserved tickets online is highly recommended. The aquarium is located in Atlanta's Olympic Park near downtown. Both the Four Seasons Atlanta and Ritz Carlton Atlanta are nearby. JavaJive is perhaps the town's hippest brunch spot, offering gingerbread waffles set in an old-style ice cream parlor setting complete with vintage 1950s appliances.
For aquarium lovers, another massive aquarium that will compete in size with Atlanta's is being constructed in The Dubai Mall in Dubai. Other notable aquariums in the U.S. include Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Additional images from my trip can be found in The Informed Traveler Flickr Group.
By: Guest Writer
June 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Two nights free in Washington DC?
Sounds good to me!
Enter our luxury Giveaway for a chance to win a sumptous two-night stay in a Junior Suite at the Hay-Adams. Totally free to enter, and it's valued at $2,400. (This is no joke!) So what are you waiting for? Enter the contest!
Now showing at the legendary British Museum in London: "Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master." The exhibit showcases 90 works created over the 60 years of Michelangelo's life. These drawings-- from only 600 surviving works-- are extremely rare. As explained by the IHT:
Of Michelangelo (1475-1564), the 16th century art historian Giorgio Vasari wrote: "Just before his death, he burned a large number of his drawings, sketches and cartoons to prevent anyone from seeing the labors he endured… for fear that he might seem less than perfect." For Michelangelo, drawings were simple tools that could only be seen by his pupils.
Thus the importance of this exhibit. Museum open daily. Exhibit runs until June 25.
In a city known for endless dining options, at one of the world's most famous hotels, a new trend made waves: guests join the Chef's Table for a tailor-made meal prepared before their eyes. The Peninsula Hong Kong offers an exquisite culinary experience hosted by the Executive Chef, Florian Trento. Witness the inner workings of a busy hotel kitchen and watch in awe as your mouth-watering personalized menu-- comprised of one course from each of the hotel's seven dining venues-- is crafted before your eyes. The gourmet delight of the Grand Chef's Table can cater up to ten guests. Sample cuisine from each of the hotel's restaurants: Chesa, Felix, Gaddi's, Imasa, The Lobby, Spring Moon and The Verandah. It is only available on request with two weeks advance notice and costs HK$48,888 (US$6,268), and includes a special gift for each guest. Also available at The Peninsula: Gaddi's Chef’s Table, which seats only four guests. Three-course lunch $88, five-course dinner $191, ten-course dinner $268. Spring Moon Chefs' Table seats up to six guests, and is available only for dinner. The six-course dinner menu costs $1,071 for one to four diners, with up to two additional diners at $268. Reservations essential.
Situated in the heart of sunny Newport Beach on 15 bayfront acres, the Balboa Bay Club and Resort is the only full-service waterfront hotel on California's renowned gold coast. The AAA four-diamond winner offers 136 luxurious guestrooms, each with patio, marble bathrooms with sunken tubs, and feather-top beds. Since 1948, the "Host of the Coast" has welcomed Hollywood legends, honeymooners, and business executives to its luxurious establishment. The "First Cabin" restaurant offers al fresco dining (California cuisine) overlooking the harbor, and Dukes Place features live jazz nightly on the waterfront. The Balboa Bay Club also boasts a heated swimming pool with hydro spa and onsite spa with fitness complex. And from now until December 31, 2006, Preferred Hotels and Resorts is offering "Resort Escapes"-- with your stay at participating hotels, indulge in a $100 resort credit. When you book a two-night stay at Preferred Hotels such as the Balboa Bay Club, receive an added credit of $100 for "mood enhancers" such a warm mud bath or dinner for two. Valid until December 31, 2006.
June 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Congratulations to Darlene, from Cincinnati, Ohio, who was selected at random as the winner of our Giveaway Contest!
Of course it's still possible to sign up for our montly upscale newsletter, here.
The Informed Traveler, in conjunction with our esteemed partner The Hay-Adams Hotel, is thrilled to announce our first Luxury Hotel Giveaway. One lucky winner will score a two-night stay at this fabulous five-star hotel in Washington DC. The choice of Presidents, international dignitaries, and savvy clientele looking to be pampered, the historic Hay-Adams offers guests the most prestigious Washington address with views overlooking the White House, Lafayette Square, and St. John's Church, the "Church of Presidents." The hotel is just minutes from the Smithsonian, Washington Monument, Capitol Building and mall, and excellent shopping and fine dining. The classic landmark has long been a favorite gathering place in the nation's capital. Like a distinguished private residence on Lafayette Square, The Hay-Adams boasts personalized service, culinary excellence and one-of-a-kind amenities.
One lucky entrant will win a two-night stay in a Junior Suite, a lavish and oversized guest room with distinctive views of the nation's capital. The Junior Suites at the Hay Adams have maintained touches of their original history-- intricately carved decorative ceilings, ornamental fireplaces, and balconies-- while also showcasing modern amenities and a superb attention to detail in their design. The decor is sumptuous, and guests are spoiled with luxurious Frette linens, goose down duvets and pillows, plush bathrobes, and exclusive Etro toiletries in the marble bathrooms.
To enter to win this prize (estimated value: $2,400), simply sign up for our free, monthly upscale newsletter. On to the entry form!
Luxury resort and spa experts Banyan Tree have opened their Lijiang resort-- their second one in southern China-- to much fanfare and acclaim. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lijiang, in China's magnificent Yunnan province, is an 800 year old village of winding cobble-stone streets, canals, and bridges, full of charm, beautiful architecture, and cultural history. This is sacred territory, beneath the snow-capped peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The 55-villa Banyan Tree Lijiang reflects this rich cultural landscape, built of local materials and traditional furnishings. The highlight, of course, is the Banyan Tree signature Ryokan Spa, with world-class facilities and a spa menu featuring lavish treatments, from ancient Asian healing and relaxation to European rejuvenation therapies. In addition, the resort organizes tours and treks in Lijiang and the surrounding countryside, including such sights as Tiger Leaping Gorge and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
The award-winning Marquesa Hotel-- Key West's finest small hotel, a luxurious gem with lush gardens just steps from Duvall Street in Old Town--is home to one of the best dining experiences on the island. The 50-seat restaurant offers Contemporary American Cuisine, with specialties including Seared Brioche Dusted Yellowfin Tuna, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb and Grilled Marinated Key West Shrimp, along with fresh baked breads and desserts. Awards include the AAA four-diamond and the DiRona Award. And Zagat has distinguished the restaurant as one of the best hotel restaurants in the country, identifying its "sophisticated" Key West style, "beautiful" presentations, and "relaxing ambiance" as what "makes her a queen."
Bali's island paradise is about to get even more fashionable. Following the successful 2004 debut of the Bulgari Hotel Milan, Bulgari Hotels and Resorts has been designing its second luxury hotel masterpiece, this time perched on a cliff in exclusive isolation overlooking the Indian Ocean. The all-villa retreat will wow guests in October with its traditional Balinese architecture fused with contemporary design. The 59 villas are free standing, luxuriously private, and feature exquisite Balinese antiques, open-air pavilions, terraces, private plunge pools, and of course luxurious Bulgari amenities. For the ultimate in exclusivity, choose the 1,300 sq meter Bulgari Villa, with its two master bedrooms, living room with built-in bar, dining room and home theater, along with the outdoor meditation pavilion, lap pool and extensive terrace. In addition, the Bulgari Resort, Bali will feature a dazzling oceanfront spa, two restaurants, private beach, and a Bulgari store.
May 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's a lot of buzz about New Zealand-- above and beyond the publicity generated by the Lord of the Rings flicks. Everyone's talking about this little island nation on the far south end of the Pacific. (Indeed, Conde Nast readers rated the country the #1 holiday destination in the world.) No matter what the season, New Zealand has it all: breathtaking scenery, recreational activities galore, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Easily the best place to stay on this gorgeous island nation is Huka Lodge, located in Taupo, in the central North Island, and considered one of the world's top retreats. This 20 suite lodge has racked up the awards: Travel and Leisure Top 500 list (the only property in New Zealand with this distinction), Conde Nast Traveler "Best Hotel Rooms in Australasia and South Pacific," Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report "Top 20 International Resort Hotels." And if the awards list seems impressive, you should see the famous guest-list. The guestbook reads like the party of the century.
The setting is magical. Situated in a beautifully landscaped park on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is just a short walk from the spectacular cascades of Huka Falls. As can be expected, activities run the gamut from tennis to petanque, hiking to trout fishing, mountain biking to relaxing in the hot pools and outdoor spa. Spacious, light guestrooms are complemented by outdoor terraces and bathrooms with under-floor heating and sunken baths.
As described recently in Stuff NZ:
Huka Lodge is New Zealand's quintessential super-lodge for the globe-trotting rich, royal and famous… Since 2001, all the guest rooms and the Owner's Cottage - the super suite perched on a rise overlooking the first set of rapids - have been rebuilt or refurbished with the difficult aim of combining the comfort of a five-star hotel with a boysy ruggedness befitting its fishing hut origins.
And the dining is exquisite. Hotel rates include pre-dinner cocktails, a five course dinner and breakfast. All meals are communal seating with some private dinning available.