April 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Truly the first of its kind, Shangri-La's newest venture in the Middle East is three-hotels-in-one, and it single-handedly ups Oman's luxury hotel rooms by 60 percent. Set within 124 acres of landscaped gardens, overlooking the mountains and gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Oman, the Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is just 20 minutes from downtown Muscat. The destination resort is comprised of three hotels (Al Waha, Al Bandar, and Al Husn), 19 restaurants and bars, three private beaches, 6,000 sq meters of swimming pools, and a CHI spa. And don't fret; this oasis hideaway isn't without its own nightclub. With the third hotel (Al Husn) now opened, the resort counts 680 sea-facing rooms with private balconies, terraces or patios. The separate Chi Spa Village will be fully operational in May, consisting of private villas for rejuvenating treatments, three freshwater swimming pools, 19 (count 'em!) food and beverage outlets, meeting rooms and an open-air amphitheater. Did I mention the Oman Dive Center, Kids Club, Dolphin and Whale-watching trips, and marina? O- Man!
Take your pick between Ritz-Carlton's two, sun-kissed Naples hotels and get fantastic discounts this summer. From your guestroom balcony in the AAA Five Diamond Award Golf Resort, gaze out over the rolling green of the 36-hole Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Course. Or if golf isn't your thing-- take a room with a Gulf View at the elegant Ritz-Carlton Hotel Naples, a grand seaside resort with exceptional amenities including spa, pool, and gorgeous beach with watersports. Between June 1 and September 30, the "Summer Sand and Sun" package starts at a mere $159 per night at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort and $199 at Ritz-Carlton Naples. Additionally, they're giving out resort credits left and right: stay for three nights and get a $100 resort credit (for dining, spa treatments, resort apparel in the gift shop, go wild!), five night stays score $200 credits and when you stay a full week: $300.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples, Five Star Alliance
Ritz-Carlton Naples, Five Star Alliance
Starting Friday June 16, gourmands unite in Aspen for three days of pure hedonistic cooking pleasure: wine tastings, cooking demos, and loads of special events. Food and Wine's Aspen Classic is orchestrated by leading star chefs like Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pepin, and Wolfgang Puck, and oenophile/wine extraordinaires like Steve Olson, Joshua Wesson, and Daniel Johnnes. Cooking demonstrations vary from preparing day-to-day dishes to perfecting culinary masterpieces: "Del Posto Favorites" with Mario Batali, "Sunday Suppers" with Suzanne Goin, "Easy Entertaining" with Jacques and Claudine Pepin, "Spago Classics" with Wolfgang Puck, "Real Creole" with Emeril Lagasse, "Shrimp Master Class" with Ming Tsai, "Rib University" with Steven Raichlen… (drooling, yet?) The wine-tasting seminars are equally as enticing, showcasing wines from Southern Italy to Washington State, New Zealand to Chile.
Storytelling teas, Easter baskets, premium chocolate candies, Easter Egg Hunt and Roll, and an epic Easter Brunch. The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is positively hopping with merriment this weekend. Of all these festivities, here's a taste of what's in store: On both Friday and Saturday, at 3 pm, children will be delighted with a magical storytelling tea where "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" is brought to life with decorations and delicious delights ($40 per person). The classic Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Sunday morning at 10 am on the 8th floor landing, hosted by the Easter Bunny, and his assistant Chickie. The Egg Roll takes place at the same time in the State Room. While the kids are having the time of their lives, their parents can indulge in chocolate-tasting at ethel's chocolate lounge in the hotel lobby. And even learn the art of premium fondue. The best part of the weekend? The traditional Easter Brunch at Seasons Restaurant, where the award-winning chef and staff devise over 100 specialty brunch items to dazzle the palate. At the six different stations, enjoy dishes like Leg of Spring Lamb with Mint Pesto, Tomato Crusted Filet of Halibut or a Salad of Chilled Green and White Asparagus with Aigrellette Sauce. Seatings begin at 11:00 am and reservations are $85.00 per adult and $20.00 per child 12 and under. Take advantage of the special Easter Weekend rate, with your prepaid purchase of Easter Brunch or the Storytelling Tea. Rates begin at $305 per night, and include lovely children's Easter baskets, stuffed to the brim with goodies.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Official Site
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Five Star Alliance
April 12, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Courtney W. May Following in the footsteps of all the travel blogs we admire, The Informed Traveler has set up a Flickr Group for fans and photographers alike to join in the community: The Informed Traveler Flickr Group Want to start a discussion on the most expensive hotel you've ever been to? This is the place to do it. Or maybe you had a really terrible time at that "luxury" hotel and you have pictures to prove it? We want to see those too. We are a public group and anyone interested in upscale travel and lavish hotels should join us to share stories, pictures, and comments. Plus, if you have some awesome photos to share about luxury destinations, you can post them in the group and maybe even be featured on the Blog as an 'Outstanding Traveler'. We try to use the photos of reader and community members when possible, so get them up there for us to feature with our stories. Don't yet have a Flickr or Yahoo account? You can sign up here.
By: Guest Writer
Shake or stir up the perfect weekend at Dukes Hotel, renowned worldwide for its marvelous Martinis, and of course the best Dry Martini in town. Located in a quiet spot on St. James's Place, Dukes is a charming, privately-owned luxury hotel set in a flowering gas-lit courtyard, just minutes from London's finest restaurants, theaters, galleries and exclusive shops. This luxurious boutique-- with its 89 rooms and suites individually decorated like a private home-- prizes its reputation for its happening Cocktail Bar. Brace yourself for the launch of the new Martini Menu, which will add clever concoctions such as a Filthy Dirty Martini, a Dukes Chocolate Martini, a Balsamic Vinegar Martini, a Saffron Martini, and a Rose Petal Martini, along with the traditional house specialties. In celebration of these libations, Dukes has introduced a special Martini Madness package, for Friday night arrivals throughout 2006. Priced at GBP 920 for three nights (double occupancy), the package includes: luxurious accommodations for two, full English breakfast daily, a private tasting with the bartender, a lesson on making the perfect Martini, and at-home presentation tips, two martinis at the happening bar, dinner for two at Dukes restaurant, and a special Recovery Massage for two. Top that off with a complimentary Dukes Martini set in a beautiful gift box that includes two Martini glasses, a bottle of gin, a miniature bottle of Vermouth, a lemon peeler, and a Dukes Martini leaflet with instructions on how to make a Martini. Cheers to that.
Dukes Hotel, Official Site
Dukes Hotel, Five Star Alliance
Forbes.com has the skinny on Luxury Plastic: those select, mythical cards issued to an elite few who spend a mere $250,000 a year and put it all on plastic. Unbeknownst to the masses, invitation-only cards like the American Express Centurion card (aka "the Black AmEx") and the even rarer Coutts & Co. purple card (try 100 card-holders) offer truly luxurious rewards programs. According to Forbes, the purple card is the most prestigious of them all (after all, this is the bank to the Queen we're talking about):
World Card is offered only to Coutts clients, and you have to have millions to qualify for that status to begin with. Aside from all the typical travel upgrades and luxury services, the card comes in handy when you need to go shopping at your favorite department store in the middle of the night. A quick call to a World Card service representative will arrange a private after-hours shopping session anywhere your little heart desires.Ahhh, the perks of (purple) plastic.
While visiting family and friends in Nashville, head to the city's treasured landmark, the Hermitage Hotel, for its famous Easter Brunch set in the historic lobby. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the luxurious Hermitage has racked up numerous awards, including AAA Five Diamond status and Robb Report's Best of the Best. Take advantage of the Easter Brunch package, starting at $279, and relax in splendor in a richly-furnished guest room, with its sumptuous fine thread count fabrics and all marble bathrooms.
In addition, the hotel is offering a Mother's Day Brunch Package that is sure to delight the most discriminating of guests. Brunch for two in the historic lobby features selections from the Capitol Grille. During mother's overnight stay, she will be spoiled with the hotel's Contemporary Bath Service, prepared by the Bath Concierge, with oversized plush towels, a bottle of fresh spring water, seasonal fruit, candles, rose petals, slippers, a luxurious robe, and a selection of aromatic bath salts and bath gels. Rates start at $349.
The Hermitage, Official Site
The Hermitage, Five Star Alliance
This summer, Spain's Costa del Sol and the French Riviera promise to be packed--the stretches of sand back-to-back (or butt-to-butt?) full of sun-worshippers from colder climes. Why not look further west for a European holiday, far from the traditional (and well-worn) tourist circuit? Portugal, rich in history of mighty ocean navigation and past epochs of sprawling international empires, is an undiscovered delight. Outside of the capital city of Lisbon, the Costa de Lisboa is marked by gleaming white sand beckoning beach lovers and surfers alike. At the town of Sintra, surrounded by lush forests and the geyser-like eruptions of waves breaking at Boca de Inferno, discover the pastel Palacio Nacional da Pena. Or head to the fantastic southern coast; the Algarve is dotted with splendid coastal resorts and quaint fishing villages lined with brightly colored wooden boats.
Set sail on the world's largest oceanliner-- Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and bring Fido along for the pampering and indulgence. The "Pets on Deck" program provides a host of services and amenities, including freshly-baked doggie biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and fleece blankets, oodles of toys, a premium selection of pet food, and even a QM2 logo coat. Beloved beasts get gift packs with Frisbee, food dish and a complimentary portrait with pet owners. In addition, there is a Kennel Master who reigns over the ship's kennel program, taking care of feeding and walking its pampered pooches. The kennel fees range from $300 to $500.