February 15, 2008
By: Christina Vasquez
A tranquil hidden gem in the Bali jungle, the COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri is a small boutique hotel featuring 40 rooms and 11 suites. Accommodations range from residences with private swimming pools, two and three bedroom standalone villas, as well as retreat villas which feature therapy rooms and swimming pools. Rooms and activities available at the COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri are designed to evoke physical and cultural activities in a healing and holistic setting.
As this spa retreat prides itself on ensuring a peaceful and relaxing stay for everyone who visits the property, a new policy has been enforced as of February 2008 for guests with children. The hotel suggests booking either retreat or private villas for families, as private pool residences are shared amongst different guests, and are not suitable for guests with children. Exceptions will be made however for guests with children to stay in the residences if they book an entire COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri residence.
February 14, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The picture says it all. This is the tropical paradise-- replete with overwater bungalows-- that you've been dreaming about all winter. Cocoa Island is just as dreamy as it looks: a sun-kissed resort on the white sandy shores of the Maldives islands surrounded by the warm blue sea. Laze on the beach (or on your own hidden terrace), swim in the private lagoon, or check out the watersports center for some unrivalled scuba diving. There's a gym with yoga facilities and a COMO Shambhala retreat with a full range of spa services. On sale now: the "Summer Special" at Cocoa Island where you get 7 nights for the price of 5, or 14 nights for the price of 10. And if you book by February 29, 2008, you will also receive a $200 resort credit. So go ahead and be an escapist this summer.
February 13, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Time is running out to take advantage of a suite winter deal at The Peninsula Hotels! Now's the time to live large and experience the sumptuous suites for which Peninsula is renowned... at a fantastic value. When you book the Suite Life promotion at Peninsula Hotels, you pay for the first night and you get the second for free! This deal is only available until March 31, 2008, so act fast! Participating hotels include The Peninsula Hong Kong, The Peninsula Chicago, The Peninsula New York, The Peninsula Beijing, The Peninsula Tokyo, and The Peninsula Bangkok. Other perks include complimentary Internet, local calls, use of the fitness center, and at some locations: continental breakfast, daily fruit basket and newspaper, and flexible check-out.
Escape the winter blahs and discover paradise just off the northern tip of Phuket Island. Nestled on a stunning stretch of white sandy beach on Thailand's Andaman coast, the Aleenta Resort is a serene hideaway that promises a seductive tropical experience. It's the ideal base to discover Phang Nga Bay National Park, a geologic wonder filled with islets, sunken caverns, and startling limestone rock formations rising from the sea (pictured). An idyllic retreat by the sea, the Aleenta Resort and Spa Phangnga opened after the incredible success of the first Aleenta hotel in Hua Hin (praised in the New York Times). The 15 suites come with infinity pools, private decks, wireless Internet, and all kinds of high-tech amenities. Here you can embark on a culinary adventure with Thai cooking classes, revitalize with pampering spa treatments in an unparalleled spa setting overlooking the sea, and sip some sunset cocktails in "The Living Room" lounge and open-air bar.
From the luxury hotel that brought you Chocolate Sushi as a nightly turndown amenity (nothing like some sweet sushi between the sheets), comes the most delectable, mouth-watering Valentine's Day feasts you can imagine. At the stylish Palm Court, there will be a Chocolate Bar dessert buffet with a wide selection of both savory dishes and sweet desserts. Each table will also be served a chocolate fondue; you can choose from the "chocolate menu" with selections ranging from 40.5 percent Ghana Cocoa to 75 percent Tanzania Cocoa. Priced at HK$268 per person. Or for a seriously romantic venue, choose The Bostonian, The Langham's upscale steak and seafood restaurant. The special 5-course Valentine's Day dinner includes such items as Oscietra Caviar Tian with Durham Pikelets, Foie Gras Parfait with Crushed Raspberry and Balsamic Jelly, Oyster and Brie de Meauz Champagne Soup, and choice of Butter Poached Maine Lobster or Fillet of Angus Beef with Truffled Potato Gratin. Priced at HK$1,888 for two people. Or head to the award-winning T'ang Court for a romantic, 8-course Chinese Dinner.
January 24, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
TripAdvisor and Budget Travel have partnered together to create the first-ever Budget Travel Best Values awards. These are the world's best luxury hotels with an average nightly rate of $250 or less. Winners were selected based on TripAdvisor's Popularity Index, and the average nightly rates were calculated with four different weeks throughout the year, during peak and off-peak periods.
It's not surprising to see the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur on the top 10 list. In a lower priced city like Kuala Lumpur, you'll find a real luxury value at the Mandarin Oriental, where rooms are extravagant, the spa is plush, and the infinity pool has views overlooking the lush 50-acre Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Park. Plus, this award-winning hotel boasts two outdoor tennis courts and fine dining options galore. And the location is truly unbeatable: at the base of Petronas Towers and linked to the KLCC.
Welcome in the Lunar New Year at Singapore's landmark hotel, The Fullerton. Housed in the former general post office, the hotel has an ideal location in the heart of the bustling island-city of Singapore. Don't miss a swim in the breathtaking infinity pool above the Singapore River. You can only imagine what the views will be like for the Lunar New Year fireworks! For February 5-7, 2008, choose to stay in a sea-facing Quay room for the best views (S$388 per night). Book the Lunar New Year holiday getaway package and you'll experience luxurious living in an elegant guest room, a classic Afternoon Tea of sweet and savory treats for two people, buffet breakfast at Town Restaurant for two (a sumptuous spread!), and a late check-out til 6 p.m. All for just S$338 per night. Or take advantage of the Suite Weekends, and get 50 percent off selected suites (unique double-story Loft Suites, one-bedroom Palladian Suites, or Fullerton Suites with large outdoor terraces). Plus, when you stay in a suite, you get to enjoy the privileges of The Straits Club, the hotel's exclusive executive club: champagne breakfast in a private dining room, afternoon tea, afternoon cocktails, and complimentary Internet in the lounge.
We're big fans of the blog from the International Herald Tribune. Where to eat the best seafood in Hong Kong? How do the airports measure up in Zurich and Bangkok? For insider tips and recommendations from the folks who know-- IHT reporters and editors-- check out this invaluable resource. Cities covered include Bangkok, Paris, Hong Kong, Rome, Washington....
January 16, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There are some big parties going on in Hong Kong: Chinese New Year is in a few weeks (welcome the Year of the Rat!) and The Peninsula Hotel celebrates its 80th anniversary year! On December 11, 1928, a legend of Asian hospitality was born. The idea was to create "the finest hotel east of Suez" and The Peninsula's guests were dazzled. ...And continue to be, when riding around in the hotel's exclusive Rolls-Royce Phantoms, or when getting pampered at The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. Welcome 2008 in style and celebrate The Peninsula's 80th anniversary with some exciting amenities: the return of traditional afternoon tea dances on the first Sunday of each month from March to December, a new Culinary Journey dining odyssey around the hotel, a harbor cruise aboard one of the historical Star Ferries, the "Shining Star." Choose the "Celebrate 80 Exceptional Years" package and you'll get two nights luxurious accommodations, daily traditional breakfast for two in The Lobby, round-trip Rolls-Royce airport transfers, a Culinary Journey for two or a Gaddi's Classics lunch or dinner for two, one HK $300 Peninsula Spa gift certificate per person, and one exclusive 80th anniversary gift per person. Rates starting at HK $6,680 in a Grand Deluxe Kowloon View room.
January 14, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In the age when so many hotels suffer deficiencies of design-- weird showers and light configurations, complex alarm clocks, bizarre remote controls-- the new Peninsula Tokyo is absolute perfection. Not only does it have a superb location, spa, and luxurious facilities, but it also offers honest-to-goodness comfort and a true home away from home experience. As the New York Times recently raved,
There is a place, however, where many of these failings have been conquered though intuitive technology and smart design, a place marked by such endemic comfort and ease that home itself begins to seem like a downgrade. It is the newest Peninsula hotel, a 24-story building opposite Hibiya Park in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo, with what may be the world's most fully thought-through hotel rooms.
The technology is mind-blowing. Phones which show the time and weather of your hometown when you call to confirm you've arrived. Adjustable humidity levels in the room. Lavazza espresso machines. No-fog television screens in the bathrooms, along with remote controls for light and music (and a unique "spa" function in the tub, which automatically softens the lights and changes the music). Skype built in to the telephones. Portable phones which work all over the hotel, and switch to cellular networks when you take them in the street.
Book the Suite Life package and get the second night free when you reserve a two-night stay. Or enjoy the Winter Escape promotion, from JPY 56,000, choose a room upgrade, or dining and spa credit-- along with complimentary daily breakfast, Internet, and access to the Fitness Club.