July 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Tis the season. For fashionable jaunts to the beach in St. Tropez, that is. And for a peaceful alternative to the crowded Riviera scene, head to Villa Marie, a serene and luxurious hideaway that was first brought to our attention by Conde Nast Traveler's 2004 Hot List. Overlooking the sparkling blue Pamplona Bay, Villa Marie is tucked into a secluded pine grove, a peaceful garden oasis of sprawling gardens, vineyards and a magnificent swimming pool carved from the rock. The villa is blissfully removed from the action, but close enough to easily satisfy a craving for a night out on the town (10 minutes away). The 42 guests rooms are uniquely designed with vintage Riviera and plenty of antiques, decorated in subtle pastel shades of pink and blue. The Spa Pure Altitude offers personalized treatments such as the regenerative Himalayan rose facial, the Mediterranean Body Care or theJasmine After-Sun Care. And the restaurant features an exquisite setting—its outdoor terrace has panoramic sea views—and delightful Mediterranean menu, with fresh local fish and produce.
Things are pretty riotous in Key West these days. The annual Hemingway Days Festival—replete with a Papa look-alike contest, loads of literary readings, short story competition, and fishing tournament—has come and gone. Resident locals are anxiously watching the sky (and nightly news) for hurricane warnings. And the (in)famous Hilton Key West resort and Marina—where the nightly sunset celebrations take place with street perfomers like the famed Dominique and his Flying House Cats, much to the delight of the cruise ship passengers— has been reflagged as The Westin Key West Resort and Marina. By the end of the month, the new brand name will be flying high, and during the next two years, the hotel will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation "to meet the upper-upscale standards of the Westin brand." The folks at Westin are also planning the Sunset Key Guest Cottages at the Westin Resort: 37 luxurious residential-style accommodations situated on a private island just 500 yards off-shore.
Experience heaven on earth in scenic Maui, and score a free room night at the same time! The award-winning Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, majestically perched on a crescent of white sand overlooking the Pacific, is considered one of the world's finest resorts. Enjoy the island's largest guest rooms (80 percent boast dazzling ocean views), peerless service, exquisite dining at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, and championship golf at your doorstep on the spectacular Wailea Emerald Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, and named one of the country's top-ten new resort courses by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest after its opening in 1994. Guests also enjoy the excellent fitness facilities, beautiful beach, spa, tennis courts, and snorkeling and scuba diving. At the large fountain pool (pictured), guests are spoiled with ice water, chilled towels, refreshing snack amenities, and Evian water spritz, from the doting pool attendants. From August 27-December 18, 2006, take advantage of the 5th Night Free Promotion, an excellent value during a great time to visit Hawaii. Blackout dates are from September 13-16, and November 18-26. Applicable to all room and suite categories except Mountainside and Maile Suite.
We've written about the Babymoon Packages at the Four Seasons Chicago and Peter Island in the Caribbean. And now it seems the trend is catching on. More and more expectant couples are choosing to travel before the baby's arrival-- to treat themselves to a few days of romance and pampering before the baby makes three. And more and more luxury hotels are organizing Babymoon packages to accommodate them. As highlighted in Newsweek International, Jamaica's Half Moon resort has organized an elaborate, five-day package where moms-to-be (in their first trimester) can even swim with dolphins, which use sonar to communicate with the fetus. At Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, the four-night maternity spa package offers prenatal yoga and exercises, and a special gift of a silver baby fork-and-spoon set.
Dating back to 1228, the luxurious Ashford Castle is set on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland's second largest lake, in the picturesque village of Cong. Once the home of the Guiness family, and a favorite haunt of presidents and Hollywood celebrities, this world-class resort is set on 350 beautiful acres. This is the ideal venue for a fun family vacation with its excellent recreational activities and facilities. The "Ashford Welcomes Families" package is designed to blend the luxurious Ashford setting with activities the entire family will enjoy. The package includes accommodations for two nights in a Deluxe Family Room with two queen-sized beds sleeping up to two adults and two children (12 years and under), breakfast daily, two dinners, horseback riding for one hour, a Falconry lesson (45 minutes) and one round of golf on the 9-hole Stableford golf course. The package is EUR 1,875 for the entire family (inclusive of taxes), subject to availability. Available until September 30, 2006.
So what if its development recently changed hands? Chicago's in store for an humongous tower, a huge twisting mass of metal designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, that will sit right on the lake. Only the Burj Tower, under construction in Dubai, will be taller. Reaching 2,000 feet at its spire, the 124-storey building will house a five star hotel and 300 luxury condominiums, ranging in price from $600,000 to $5 million. It's scheduled for completion in 2010. Via NYT
Doggies are going to love this one. While their owners are away, pampered pooches enjoy the plushest of suites and the finest five star service at the PetSmart PetHotel in Bethesda, MD-- all for just 23 bucks a night. According to Yahoo! News:
The doggie hotel is nothing like kennels of yore: in this inn there is lactose-free ice cream, indoor recreation, and for 10 more dollars a night, pooch can stay in a roomier "suite" with a television set showing an "animal related movie all day," said Vince Malanaphy, who manages the Bethesda PetsHotel.
A lot of the lucky canine guests are day boarders; poodles and labradors can "socialize" at Doggie Day Camp here in Bethesda for only 20 bucks a day.
At the end of a country lane near Damariscotta, at the tip of the peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point is perched dramatically above the crashing surf, a quintessential image of Maine. Here, the landscape and beautiful summer cottages are part of a quaint Down East community that houses one of the best restaurants in Maine. The Bradley Inn is a century-old Bed and Breakfast that delights guests with gracious hospitality and charming accommodations. Its 16 gracious guest rooms feature four poster cherry beds, fireplaces, New England period furnishings, and garden or ocean views. Guests enjoy biking through the area's great natural beauty, croquet on the lawn in the afternoons, and canoeing the local coves and waterways. In the evenings, guests are spoiled at the exceptional dining room, winner of the Wine Spectator award of excellence. As described by Food and Wine Magazine:
(Chef) Carinhas has an eclectic take on local products that lifts them to another level altogether—like big-bellied Maine clams that she fries until crisp and serves with an anchovy mayonnaise, or Atlantic halibut, seared and presented with a Tuscan contorno of white beans and bitter greens.
The city by the bay offers an unforgettable summer getaway: boutique hopping in Union Square, soaking up the sun at Dolores Park, sipping an espresso at Cafe Trieste in North Beach, touring SOMA's exciting museums, strolling through the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. And San Francisco is always noticeably cooler in the summer months, a soothing change from the broiling heat waves on the East Coast. While exploring San Francisco's many charms, stay at the Four Seasons and get a fourth night free! The hotel is ideally located in the heart of downtown, just two blocks from Union Square, the Financial District, the Moscone Convention Center, and the Museum of Modern Art. The building features floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase stunning views of the city and San Francisco Bay. Dine at Seasons Restaurant and catch a glimpse into the art of California cuisine with the open display kitchen. Pamper yourself with a green tea and ginger wrap at the Spa. Or work out in the world-class fitness facility at Sports Club/LA, the best health club in the city. And of course the hotel offers all of the luxury and impeccable service that one expects at a Four Seasons.
We've been waiting with bated breath. (Well, that's not entirely accurate. Some are aghast at the changing face of Tahoe.) But the day has arrived at Northstar-at-Tahoe: construction for the area's first five-star ski-in/ski-out resort is now underway. The new $300-million resort project, which will also include residences, is scheduled to open in 2009. The Ritz-Carlton Highlands will have 173-rooms and a 20,000 square foot spa, featuring pool and treatment rooms with mountain views, and oodles of meeting space.