January 4, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Renowned French architect Gilles Saint-Gilles has transformed his bold vision into sublime reality with the beautiful Villa Camilla, which opened on Panama's idyllic Pacific coast in December 2005. "I want to live a refined lifestyle that doesn't compromise my childrens' future,” so says the architect, who has created a luxurious, exclusive retreat in harmony with the spectacular natural surroundings of lush green hills and sparkling Pacific. With a team of European craftsmen, Gilles built on-site workshops to train local artisans who have designed virtually every component of the guesthouse and private homes on-site: teak doors and shutters, bamboo ceilings, terra cotta brick floors, Chiriqui stone walls, and parquet floors patterned from purpleheart wood mixed with French oak wine caskets-- the ultimate mix of the Old World and New. This attention to detail has also been focused on the natural environment, as Gilles' team has restored the Tropical Dry Forest eco-system that originally existed in the province, providing wildlife habitat for the future. Villa Camilla (and its aesthetically magnificent guest rooms) is just one aspect of this elegant oceanside community; it is possible to purchase one of 71 lots and Saint-Gilles will custom-design the home to build on it.
Plan a winter escape to the sandy white beaches and azure waters of the Caribbean and enjoy spectacular savings at the brand new Westin St. Maarten, Dawn Beach Resort and Spa. Just minutes from the Princess Julianna Airport, the new resort features a full-service spa, fitness room, fully-equipped dive shop, Vegas-style casino, and the largest freshwater infinity pool on the island, including a swim-up bar and hot tub. Of course the 308 luxurious guest rooms are appointed with Westin's signature Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath. With the Grand Opening Special Offer, stay four nights, and receive 25 percent off. (Valid from January 2- April 16, 2007; black-out dates are from February 16-February 22 and April 6-April 12.) In addition, guests can take advantage of the January Resort View Special and enjoy rates from $199 per night when you stay four nights between January 2-January 21, 2007.
PS. Don't forget the new passport requirements as of January 2007. For air travel to and from the US and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean, travelers will be required to have a passport to re-enter the US.
Amanresorts is synonymous with luxury, its worldwide collection of boutique resorts spoiling guests with indulgence and idyllic surroundings. Indeed, the 2006 Zagat Survey named Amanresorts the world's leading international hotel group. Aman's flagship, Amanpuri, is located on the island of Phuket overlooking the turquoise Andaman Sea. Interspersed throughout coconut groves, the guest pavilions boast outdoor terraces and private pools. The Spa is simply sublime, its individual treatment rooms complete with steam showers and outdoor lounge areas. So what better place for supermodel Kate Moss and her long-time rocker boyfriend to tie the knot? The Daily Telegraph has all the rumored deets on the New Years Day ceremony:
At 1:30pm Thai time the Babyshambles singer and Moss exchanged vows in the picturesque private gardens of their five-bedroomed GBP 4,500-per-night villa at the Amanpuri hotel. Wearing a white Galliano shift dress and her blonde hair loose, Moss reportedly looked on adoringly at her groom, who was dressed in an all-black linen suit and his trademark pork pie hat. For the ceremony, the gardens and villa were decorated with flower petals, fragrant jasmine, orchids and a floral archway. White and pale pink lotus flowers decorated the pool. With security at a maximum, staff guarded the perimeter of the villa, preventing any uninvited guests from wandering in.
December 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
And then there were three. The media went wild when Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas set sail: the 208 ft, 160,000 ton mega ship with a capacity for 4,000 passengers. The world's largest passenger ship featured all sorts of never-before-seen facilities like rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing simulator pool called "Flow Rider." Royal Caribbean's second Freedom-class ship, called Liberty of the Seas, will debut in May 2008. It will depart Miami on Saturdays for seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. (Ports of call include San Juan, St. Maarten, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.) And the cruise line recently announced that there is a third ship under construction in Finland, which will be dubbed Independence of the Seas. The sister ships will all share the same signature amenities, including the 1,215 sq ft Presidential Family Suite which sleeps up to 14.
These days (and it's about time), it's become trendy for hotels to go green. But Fairmont's been at it since 1990. With its award-winning Green Partnership program, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts have led the pack in their dedication to protecting the environment and minimizing the impact of hotel operations. Each of Fairmont's luxury hotels focuses on waste management, water and energy conservation, habitat protection, and community outreach. Fairmont is all about developing sustainable practices for the hospitality industry.
In 2005 Fairmont introduced Eco-Innovations, hotel-based environmental initiatives that encourage partnerships, learning, and guest experiences while addressing a universal environmental issue in a way that hits close to home. For example, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu-- located within a World Biosphere Reserve-- has created the Adopt-A-Beluga Program, to help the threatened St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population.
Recently, Fairmont created a partnership with the World Heritage Alliance, a joint initiative of the United Nations Foundation and Expedia, to promote conservation, sustainable tourism, and economic development for communities located in and around World Heritage sites. This is really good news for threatened sites like Cambodia's Angkor Wat temples. Leading the new partnership will be the Fairmont Mayakoba, a luxurious, eco-friendly resort located on Mexico's Mayan Riviera, which will work with an award-winning local tourism network from the nearby Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. This reserve comprises 1.3 million acres of tropical ecosystems and is home to 23 different archaeological sites of pre-Columbian Mayan culture. Guests of Fairmont Mayakoba will experience this marvelous World Heritage Site with tours that guarantee minimal environmental impact. Sustainable tourism is the way to ensure that sites are protected for the enjoyment of all travelers now and in the future.
The DR has got it all: sun-soaked sandy beaches, excellent recreational activities, and oodles of outstanding resorts. Case in point: Paradisus Palma Real-- an all-inclusive, all-suite luxury resort with spectacular ocean views just minutes from the hot spot of Punta Cana. 554 suites feature private terraces, mahogany furniture, flat screen TV, DVD and CD player, and complimentary high speed Internet access. Six restaurants offer a culinary tour of delicious cuisine from around the world (from Mediterranean to Chinese). There are three outdoor pools set in magnificent tropical gardens, tennis courts, a full fitness program at the gym, the ultimate in spa treatments, the Cocotal Golf and Country Club, and a slew of water sports. What more could you ask for? (Did I mention there's unlimited Premium brand drinks at your choice of six bars?)
At the southernmost tip of China, off the mainland coast in the South China Sea, there exists a large tropical island called Hainan, covered in greenery and shrouded in a balmy climate. The waters are emerald-turquoise, the sandy beaches are long and white, and the vegetation is lush. Hainan Island is not yet heavily industrialized (even though it's a Special Economic Zone), and the island has become a popular tourist destination because of its bountiful natural beauty. In mid-2007, Mandarin Oriental is slated to open its newest property, a private beach resort nestled in the green valley of the Wuzhi Mountain range. The Mandarin Oriental Sanya will be a peaceful retreat, situated on a secluded sandy cove with a colorful coral reef just offshore, teeming with marine life. The resort will consist of low rise villas within landscaped gardens; its 295 rooms promise stunning views of the sunset over the sea. Other features include a spectacular spa, four large swimming pools, the only outdoor conference facilities in Sanya, four restaurants, tennis courts, high tech gym, and water sports center with snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and deep sea fishing equipment. All just five minutes from Sanya City, and 20 minutes from the international airport.
What could possibly beat the French Riviera? The French Riviera in the off-season, when you can score incredible deals like this one. At the Stein Group's luxurious Cap Estel Hotel, located between Nice and Monaco in the charming village of Eze-Bord-de-Mer, pay for two nights and get the third for free! This special seasonal offer is available January 1- January 7, 2007 and March 1- March 31, 2007. (Lovebirds, forget February!) Situated on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean, this renowned 19th century hotel has played host to royalty, politicians, and celebrities from all over the world. Guests have exclusive access to the private beach, the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, state-of-the-art fitness room, sauna, steam bath and the advice of a private trainer. The hotel features only eight rooms and twelve suites, for the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity. All rooms have a balcony or terrace with sea view, and are equipped with cutting-edge technology.
Adrian Zecha's elegant beachfront masterpiece is certainly a South Beach hot spot, beloved by celebs. The Setai is located in the middle of it all on Collins Avenue, close to the area's best dining, shopping, and nightlife. Since its opening in 2005, the hotel has been heating things up in Miami with its intimate ambience, impeccable service, superb spa, and star-studded facilities. Set amidst tropical gardens and turquoise pools next to the ocean, The Setai boasts exquisite accommodations-- 75 guestrooms and 45 suites stacked with amenities: espresso machines, in-room bars, Bose surround-sound DVD/CD systems, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, luxurious bath products, and flat screen LCD and plasma TVs. But perhaps the most exquisite accommodations of all is the palatial Penthouse: 10,000 square feet of heaven with a rooftop pool and sweeping panoramas of the ocean, beach and Miami skyline. It's the ideal spot for receptions, parties and other special events. This regal four-bedroom penthouse goes for a mere $25,000 a night (and that doesn't include tax).
December 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This winter, escape to Southern Florida's classic landmark for a truly luxurious experience. Situated directly on a private white sand beach, the Italian Renaissance style hotel was founded in 1896 and has been legendary ever since. (And with a Beach club, oceanfront spa, 36 holes of championship golf, 10 tennis courts, kids' programs, four oceanside pools, and excellent restaurants... what's not to love?) Here at The Breakers, L'Escalier offers one of the country's finest dining experiences and is the proud recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award and Wine Spectator's highest honor, the Grand Award. The restaurant now presents the specialty wine dinners of the 2007 Winter Wine Series. Master Sommelier Virginia Philip has invited celebrated winemakers from around the world to present three unforgettable evenings of food and wine pairings. A reception with tastings is followed by a five-course dinner prepared by the exceptional culinary team led by Chef Kevin Ives. Dinners are $300 inclusive of tax and service charge. (The March 5, 2007 dinner is priced at $575). Seating is limited so make your reservations soon.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Featuring Tom Shelton, President and CEO
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Featuring Tom Johnson, Vice President
Monday, March 5, 2007
Clos de Tart and Mommessin Wineries
Featuring Clos de Tart with Sylvain Pitiot, winemaker