LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
The 4th annual Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards winners were revealed at a black-tie gala dinner at the luxurious Pierre Hotel in Manhattan on December 14, 2006. Four Seasons rocked the luxury hotel chain category, with Travel Weekly readers awarding it both the best "luxury chain" and the best "upscale chain." Starwood Hotels and Resorts led the rankings for both Europe and South Pacific regional hotel brand of the year. And Mandarin Oriental grabbed top honors for Asia's top hotel chain. (Domestic chain? None other than Marriott managed to snag that award.) The top resort worldwide was awarded to St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora.
Coming March 4, 2007: The first major exhibition to explore the role of the American West in the development of modernism in the United States. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Modern West will be at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until June 3. View one hundred paintings, watercolors, and photographs from such influential artists as Frederic Remington, Georgia O'Keefe, Jackson Pollack and Ansel Adams. This extraordinary exhibition demonstrates the enormous impact of the Western landscape on American modernism-- a conceit which has long been underestimated.
Clear blue water, lush green hills, magnificent coral reefs... The legendary Polynesian island of Bora Bora has inspired countless artists with its otherworldly beauty. In this paradise, in the midst of Bora Bora's majestic lagoon-- what James Michener called "the most beautiful lagoon in the world"-- Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and Spa is your tropical fantasy come true. Escape the cares of the everyday world in your overwater bungalow, where you can admire colorful underwater marine life through the illuminated glass-topped coffee table. From your private deck, slip gently into the picture-perfect lagoon. Or experience the only treetop spa in French Polynesia, high in the branches of two giant Banyan trees, overlooking the lagoon and Mount Pahia. (Marù Spa specializes in signature treatments based on local plants, flowers and fruits.) Delight in exquisite Polynesian specialties like poisson cru (fresh fish marinated in coconut milk) at the Otemanu Restaurant. Enjoy the entertaining Theme Night Buffets, where guests dine under the stars and watch spectacular local dances and entertainment. Here in paradise, there's scuba diving, cruises, endless watersports, the gorgeous freshwater free-form pool, and two floodlit tennis courts. The possibilities are endless. And with the Stay Another Day in Paradise Promotion at the award-winning Bora Bora Lagoon Resort, stay four nights and receive the fifth night for free! This perfect five night stay includes welcome drinks upon arrival, one three-course table d'hote dinner for two, motorboat shuttle service between the Resort and Vaitape, Bora Bora (the village), and use of tennis courts, fitness center and all non-motorized watersports. Rates in 2007 start at EUR 1,880 in a Motu Bungalow.
After an $85 million upgrade, The Ivy Hotel will open in February 2007 as a "new luxury urban resort" in San Diego. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, The Ivy is being billed as a "posh, adult playground...focused on luxury, pleasure, and decadent surprises." Located next to the Gaslamp Quarter at 6th Avenue and F Street, the hotel strives for an unique aesthetic, seeking to combine "New York style and chic, Las Vegas vibe and energy and L.A.'s casual elegance." The original building, once the crown jewel of downtown San Diego, has experienced a makeover; the interior spaces are all about contemporary luxury, with the most up-to-date technology. There will be 159 rooms including two presidential suites and one signature suite (boasting two levels and a spiral staircase leading to a private poolside cabana). Other facilities include the 17,000 square foot rooftop with pool, sundeck, and sultry Eden bar, Envy nightclub, Quartier Kitchen fine dining restaurant, and 10,000 square feet of meeting and function space.
The west coast of Thailand-- including the tourist-adored islands of Phuket and Khao Lak-- took a beating after the disastrous tsunami of December 2004. At the time, The Sarojin was just about to open its doors: a luxury boutique hotel planted on ten acres of gorgeous beachfront. Now, after extensive repairs of the damage sustained by the tsunami's aftermath, The Sarojin has opened as one of the hottest properties of the year. (It's already racking up the awards, including "Asia's Leading Boutique Hotel" from the World Travel Awards 2006, and Conde Nast Traveler 2006 Hot List.) The Sarojin is located an hour north of Phuket, situated inside the Khao Lak National Park, where beaches, cascading waterfalls, wildlife, and spectacular primary forest lure visitors. Just steps from the breathtaking beach and turquoise Andaman Sea, The Sarojin consists of 56 guest residences nestled within expansive garden grounds with winding walkways and lotus pools. If you can tear yourself away from your residence (which boast private sundecks with intimate couples' baths, rainfall showers, and plunge pools), there are recreational activities aplenty: scuba and snorkeling cruises, sea kayaking, sailing, fitness center, infinity pool, Thai cooking classes, and farther afield: elephant trekking and bamboo rafting. Not to mention the beautiful spa.
In the midst of Wyoming's rugged grandeur, situated slopeside at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Snake River Lodge and Spa exudes informal elegance. Guests enjoy spectacular views of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range, recently-renovated guest rooms, and the 17,000 square foot Avanyu Spa, complete with indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna, and treatment rooms. At the hotel's AAA four-diamond award-winning GameFish restaurant, discover distinctive Western cuisine and a comprehensive wine list. GameFish is renowned for its regional specialties like Wyoming Angus steaks, native fish, and grilled and smoked game. Savor the Porcini-dusted Wild Salmon and taste the Wild West.
Recipe for Porcini-dusted Wild Salmon
1 lb orzo pasta
1 lb spinach
6 Roma tomatoes
4 sprigs thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
2 T grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Blanch spinach in boiling salted water for 10 seconds and place immediately in ice bath. Drain well and chop finely. Cook orzo in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse and reserve. In a small saucepan, sweat spinach in dash of olive oil. Add cream, reduce by 1/3;
add Parmesan. Just before plating, heat orzo in the cream with chopped spinach; season with salt and pepper.
Balsamic Brown Butter Emulsion
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb unsalted butter
Reduce the balsamic vinegar by half. While vinegar is reducing, brown the butter over high heat until it gives off nutty aroma. When vinegar has reduced, using an immersion blender combine the brown butter to the vinegar in a slow steady stream. Reserve keeping warm.
4 each 7 oz salmon fillets
2 T porcini powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup olive oil
Combine the flour and porcini powder. Season and dredge the salmon in the flour mixture. If porcini powder is not available, grind dried porcinis in a spice grinder to achieve same results. In a large saute pan, heat 2 T of olive oil. Place the salmon in the pan and brown. When one side is browned, flip and place into a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes. (Depends on thickness of fillets and preferred temperature of salmon.) To plate, place equal parts of Florentine orzo on 4 plates, arrange salmon, then spoon balsamic emulsion around the salmon.
Just four blocks from the White House, the AAA four-diamond Jefferson Hotel is a premier DC address. The historic Beaux Arts-inspired hotel is a distinguished boutique property with 100 lavish rooms with marble bathrooms (suites feature canopy beds and wood-burning fireplaces). The hotel's original owner was an admirer of Thomas Jefferson, and thus the hotel now showcases an exquisite collection of rare documents written by the Founding Father. The Zagat award-winning dining room, a favorite of Washingtonians and visiting heads of state, charms the most discriminating palates with its excellent New American cuisine. Adjoining the restaurant, The Lounge is a sophisticated hot spot where guests enjoy specialty cocktails, the superb wine list, and a selection of fine cigars by the warmth of a crackling fire. Original caricature prints, dating back to the 1700's, adorn the walls.
This New Year's Eve, indulge in an extravagant eight-course tasting menu, specially crafted by Executive Chef Charlie Hansji, and then cap off 2006 with The Jefferson's New Year's party. This exclusive NYE celebration is themed the "smoke out," in honor of the smoking ban scheduled to take effect January 1, 2007 (say goodbye to the era of public smoking in the Jefferson's historic Lounge.) The menu's haute cuisine is beyond tempting: chervil custard, Osetra caviar; salsify and miso soup, crunchy frog legs; croustillant of langoustine; potato crusted turbotini; blanquette of wild Scottish pheasant; double lamb rib chop (sweet bread, Porcini and Burgundian black truffle Chartreuse); bitter French greens (Arbequina olive oil and 150-year-old Balsamico); followed by dessert and the cheese trolley. Each course is complimented with a wine pairing. The dining room will remain smoke free, but smokers will gather in the Lounge for a last hurrah: cigar, hookah and cigarettes all night long.
The dinner begins at 7:30 pm, and is priced at $200 per person, which also includes champagne, cognac tasting, smoking sessions, and NYE commemorative cigar/cutter giveaway. The hotel is offering a special Couples Celebration package, starting from $599 in a deluxe room, including dinner and party entrance fee.
Hot on the heels of New York City's decision to ban all artificial trans-fat in restaurant cooking, Loews Hotels has announced its own ban on trans-fat at its 18 hotels and restaurants. Loews has become the first hotel brand to do so, in an effort to create healthier kitchens and lifestyles. The full ban on artificial trans-fat will be implemented by June 1, 2007, and applies to all restaurants, room service, and snack service (bye bye, late-night-snack-binging at the mini-bar!) Forget pastries made with shortening (and all that partially hydrogenated badness); real butter will resume its important role in the kitchen as an all-natural ingredient.
Set off on a camel safari across the sand dunes, cruise the turquoise Gulf, or hit the slopes at the challenging indoor ski resort. In glitzy, glamorous Dubai-- setting of the only seven-star hotel in the world-- everything goes. And now, the New York Times has pinpointed the new Raffles as one of the hottest hotels of the year:
In Dubai, where hotels bearing names like Versace, Armani and Trump are all in the works, a pyramid-shaped Raffles is opening this summer with 248 pharaoh-chic rooms and a two-and-a-half-acre rooftop greenhouse.
Located in the heart of the city on Sheikh Zayed Road, the premier business and shopping district of Dubai, Raffles Dubai is a stunning landmark: an 18-storey pyramid rising like a mirage from the desert. The 248 guest rooms are plush and opulent; the Royal Suite is positively palatial, 480 square meters including a private balcony. There will be nine dining and drinking outlets, including the lively China Moon bar, and the heavenly RafflesAmrita Spa. The best part of all is perhaps the unique, one-hectare 'Sparkling Botanical Sky-Garden', depicting the four 'Elements of Life' (fire, wind, earth and water), in an oasis of exotic flora and orchids spread around the swimming pool. Coming Summer 2007.
The InterContinental could be the most stylish hotel in Hong Kong. With unrivaled views of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island from its waterfront location, the hotel boasts sleek, contemporary rooms, 24-hour butler service, dazzling infinity pool, and feng shui inspired I-Spa and Fitness Center. The InterContinental is certainly the city's "it" place to eat. This month superstar chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa will open a branch of his famous Nobu eatery at the hotel. (This will be the second Nobu in Asia, and 16th location worldwide.) Interior Designer David Rockwell has transformed the space that used to be Yü restaurant into a sexy and happening hot spot. Signature dishes will include yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and the beloved black cod with miso, along with new creations featuring local ingredients. As described by Sherman's Travel Magazine,
The InterCon has become one of Hong Kong's top dining destinations. First, celebrity chef Alain Ducasse opened his high-concept Spoon restaurant which was followed by Steakhouse Winebar and Grill. And now, a branch of Nobu adds even more cachet.