January 14, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Celebrity Chef Norman Van Aken-- the guy who coined the term "fusion cooking"-- has returned to Key West. Recipient of numerous accolades including the James Beard award, the "Founding Father of New World cuisine" is renowned for his South Florida restaurants. Van Aken's newest venture, Tavern N Town, marks his full circle return to Key West, where he opened Louie's Backyard in the mid-80s. Located at the brand new Beachside Resort and Conference Center, the two adjoining restaurants share a two-story space, but offer different dining experiences. Tavern serves up smaller plates and more casual fare, while Town-- not yet open-- is the place for gourmet fine dining. For a true epicurean delight, choose the chef's signature dish, Pork Tenderloin Havana, served with sherry jus, plantain crema, black bean corn-salsa, pickled red onions and pan arepa. Take a seat in front of the theater kitchen (gleaming with new appliances) and get ready for the action.
January 9, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Good news from Fairmont's eco-friendly luxury hotels... Not only is Fairmont Hotels and Resorts committed to energy-efficient practices, but also green kitchen operations. When the trendy talk these days is all about lessening our carbon footprint on the planet, Fairmont is actually taking action. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is devoted to organic and sustainable local menus, as well as finding ways to run an environmentally responsible kitchen. Case in point: Fairmont locations in the Pacific Northwest which partner with Rodney Strong Vineyards, an organic wine producer that operates with solar power and takes steps to ensure soil and water conservation. And Ottawa's beautiful Fairmont Chateau Laurier is connecting local producers with businesses by hosting events such as "Farmer-Chef Meet and Greet." In British Columbia, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport and The Fairmont Empress were the first hotels to join the Ocean Wise program run by the Vancouver Aquarium which promotes the use of sustainable seafood. In Bermuda, the chefs at The Fairmont Southampton and The Fairmont Hamilton work closely with local fishermen to source a variety of line-caught fish. Even the staff cafeteria at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise creates eco-friendly menus focused on locally-grown and organic ingredients. And get this-- starting this year, the Fairmont Newport Beach will hire a "local forager" to visit local organic produce markets to buy choice goods for the hotel. Bravo.
This winter, make it Maui. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua officially opened today after a massive makeover. A dramatic new design and added amenities mean an unparalleled guest experience surrounded by championship golf greens, brilliant beaches, and the crashing Pacific surf. What's in store? The 463 guest rooms and suites are equipped with all new furnishings, travertine bathrooms, area rug designs with Kukui florals, and Hawaiian artwork framed with Koa wood. All the latest technology means LCD flat-screen televisions, iPod Docking Stations, DVD players and wireless Internet access. But that's not all. The resort's restaurants have been redesigned, and the signature Banyan Tree restaurant has a new destination outdoor bar and lounge with spectacular views of the Pacific and an innovative menu by Chef de Cuisine Jojo Vasquez. There's a new children's pool and enlarged cabanas by the 10,000 square foot, three-tiered pool, and the spanking new Fitness Center, open 24 hours a day, overlooks the ocean. An Environmental Education Center will be open by mid year. And there will be a new Ritz-Carlton Spa opening in May 2008, to boot. (Never fear-- there's a temporary spa offering spa and salon services until this gem opens.) Book now and be one of the first to experience the new digs at this AAA Five-Diamond oceanfront property.
Imagine endless days spent lingering at the beach, luxuriating at the hands of a massage master, and dining on meals so fresh and perfect they would put a Parisian chef to shame. La Samanna is an Orient-Express hideaway in St. Maarten, French West Indies that was named one of the best places to stay in the world by the discriminating readers of Condé Nast Traveler Magazine. The 55-acre beachfront property-- the essence of chic-- recently completed a multi-million dollar refurbishment and is easily one of the most alluring spots in the Caribbean. Choose the "Stay Another Day" offer and you can get a free fourth night when you book three consecutive nights. This discounted rate gives you the equivalent of 25 percent savings off the normal rates, and includes daily buffet breakfast and use of the tennis courts, non-motorized watersports, and the fitness center.
P.S. A couple of months ago we pointed out the "Best Deal Days" promotion, which gives all-time low promotional rates during peak season. You can score rates for as little as $395 per night. These dates for check-in are still available: January 30 and February 26, 2008.
It's here. Rosewood Mayakoba has opened its doors on the coast of Mexico's Riviera Maya, where ocean, jungle and sky meet. Consisting of five top-tier properties, Mayakoba is a new kind of eco-friendly luxury community of upscale resorts committed to sustainable development and environmental protection. The Rosewood is nestled on a mile-long arc of white sand, 30 minutes south of Cancun and just north of the charming seaside village of Playa del Carmen. The resort's 128 suites-- modern in design yet crafted from local indigenous materials-- are built along a network of gorgeous lagoons and the Caribbean Sea. Upon arrival, guests are whisked away to their own personal sanctuary by luxury boat or golf cart. The resort complex boasts championship golf at the signature Greg Norman El Camaleon 18-hole course, infinity-edge and spa lap pools, myriad water sports, snorkeling and diving excursions to the world's second largest reef or in the crystal-clear cenotes that spring from subterranean rivers, day-trips to explore Mayan ruins, horseback riding, daily yoga, and more. Sense, A Rosewood Spa, will debut in February 2008. If you book by January 31 (for a stay between February 1-April 30, 2008), you'll get $100 off regular rack rates (which start at $595 per night) plus daily breakfast.
For a limited time, score extraordinary rates at some of the finest hotels in the world. Starwood's swanky brand of five-star hotels, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, are up for grabs for select dates in 2008. Make advance reservations in Aspen, for some superb winter skiing or summer sports, and find room rates from $225. Or choose San Francisco's impossibly chic St. Regis and experience award-winning service and style starting from just $309. Monarch Beach, Houston, and Fort Lauderdale are also on sale. But hurry, this sale is only available from January 8- January 14, 2008.
Available exclusively to guests staying in Hotel Victor's $6,000-per-night penthouse suite, the Evian Experience is a bath like no other. For $5,000 a pop, you can soak in 1,000 bottles of Evian water (nearly 350 gallons) sprinkled with colorful Gerber Daisies. While your bath is drawn, the Spa V team provides a blissful selection of spa treatments (two hours of customizable spa services). Of course there is a luxurious food and beverage component; the Hotel Victor Chef, Vincent Muraco, creates sublime treats such as Smoked Salmon Lollipops, Potted Cru of Foie Gras and a signature hotel sweet platter, the Seven Sins of Chocolate. For Hotelchatter's take on Serena Williams' christening of the Evian Bath, click here.
January 3, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Heinrich Morio, born in the United States to German parents in 1960, joined Jumeirah in the position of General Manager Operations in October 2004. He brings over 25 years of operational experience all of which was spent in some of the finest luxury hotels including Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, Plaza Athenee in New York, Turnberry Isle in Florida, One&Only Le Saint Geran, Mauritius, Ritz Carlton in New York and The Peninsula in Beverly Hills.
Prior to joining Jumeirah, Heinrich held the position of General Manager of One&Only Le Touessrok, Mauritius where he successfully directed the closure, re-opening and re-positioning of the hotel, as well as General Manager of the One&Only Ocean Club, Bahamas and Little Palm Island, Florida Keys. Heinrich holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University, Miami.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: I started working in the hotel industry approximately 30 years ago, over the years I have worked in many different functions including restaurants, kitchen and reception. I have worked my way up in the industry and I have now realized my dream of managing a luxury hotel.
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: The architecture of the hotel in itself is very distinctive and unique. It is designed to reflect the shape of a breaking wave which has become an instantly recognizable symbol of Dubai.
In addition, we are unique in the fact that all of the 617 rooms, suites and villas at Jumeirah Beach Hotel have stunning ocean views across the beautiful Arabian Gulf, this feature is a favorite amongst all of our regular and first time guests.
Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: All of our guests are important to us and we have many guests who return to us on a regular basis. We provide all of our guests with the level of service that they would expect to find in a five star luxury hotel and we also respect the privacy of all guests.
Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: All of our rooms are extremely spacious and provide a minimum of approximately 50m2 of living space. Full advantage has been made of the fact that all of our rooms are ocean facing and each room has floor to ceiling windows which mean that guests have maximum enjoyment of the spectacular panoramic views.
For the ultimate in luxury the villas at Beit Al Bahar (Arabic for 'House by the Sea') are perfect for guests searching for a truly personal, uniquely special holiday hideaway. Each villa benefits from a private plunge pool and an unparalleled level of service which means that Beit Al Bahar is known as one of the regions most luxurious private retreats.
Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: Our impressive conference centre is Dhow shaped and has hosted some of Dubai's most spectacular and significant events. The conference centre has a ballroom space of 1332m2, a tiered auditorium that seats 416, two floors of dedicated conference facilities and custom-built executive boardrooms.
Another interesting feature of the hotel is the large sculpture in the atrium that shows the original destinations that Emirates flew to when the hotel first opened ten years ago. If we tried to update this sculpture to reflect the current destinations that Emirates fly to today, this would be extremely difficult due to the vast number of routes now in operation.
In addition there is also our iconic beach front location which is simply stunning, the hotel boasts over 3800m2 of beautiful outdoor beach and garden areas.
Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at Jumeirah Beach Hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: Jumeirah Beach Hotel provides guests with the ultimate in luxurious family resort style accommodation, in addition to our stunning beaches and rooms we also have a world class conference facility, Pavilion Sports centre, dive facility, private marina and over 20 restaurants and bars. The extensive choice of dining options at the hotel and range of international cuisine of offer is sure to satisfy any guest.
Our guests are also provided with the opportunity to upgrade for the duration of their stay to become a Club Executive or Premium Leisure Club guest. These options provide access to additional facilities such as the tranquil Executive Pool and the Club Executive Lounge.
In addition to the above, high on my priorities would be knowing what the weather forecast is for the duration of my stay!
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: The hotel is ideally located on Jumeirah Beach and our popular beach front restaurants all have stunning views of the spectacular Burj Al Arab. We are very centrally located and all of Dubai's attractions, including the amazing shopping malls and world class golf courses are only a short taxi ride away. We are also only 20-30 minutes drive from the airport.
Wild Wadi Water Park is an integral part of the resort and is located right next door to the hotel, all Jumeirah Beach Hotel guests receive unlimited access to the water park for the duration of their stay.
My favorite way to spend time in the surrounding area is to take a visit to Bab Al Shams for a unique desert experience. Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is an elegant desert resort in a traditional Arabic fort setting and is perfect for a relaxing retreat away from the city.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: Over the past ten years we have welcomed guests from all over the world, many of our guests come from Europe and we have lots of visitors from the UK, Germany and Russia. Our excellent family facilities mean that we have lots of families who visit the hotel, many returning on a regular basis. In addition our superb conference facilities are used by a wide range of guests attending private and corporate events of all sizes.
Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: Over the last ten years Jumeirah Beach Hotel has undergone continuous growth and development, we deliver an excellent level of service which is largely due to our fantastic colleagues. If it were not for our exceptional colleagues then my job would be much harder!
Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?
Mr. Heinrich Morio: For me Jumeirah Emirates Tower is the finest business hotel in the world. It is very popular with frequent business travelers and is ideally located in the heart of Dubai's commercial district.
The Madinat Jumeirah is one of the most impressive and fascinating resorts that I have ever visited. Known as The Arabian Resort of Dubai the hotel is a magnificent tribute to Dubai's heritage and is styled to resemble an ancient Arabian citadel. The hotel offers the height of opulence and with two grand hotels, superb facilities and a traditional souk the Madinat Jumeirah really is unique.
Your coordinates: 27º09 south latitude and 109º26 west longitude, 3,800 km from the central coast of Chile in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The closest inhabited island is Pitcairn, 1,900 km northwest. Your destination? The mythical Easter Island, home to the gigantic moai sculptures erected by a people whose origins and evolution are still unknown. This beautiful and mysterious place recently welcomed a chic hotel hideaway: explora en Rapa Nui , Posada de Mike Rapu. Located on a hill facing the endless sea (5.6 km from Hanga Roa, the island's only town), the hotel provides the ideal base to explore this incredible destination. Fly from either Santiago, Chile or Tahiti (Papeete) and you will be greeted by explora staff who will whisk you away to this stunning spot. The island's native volcanic rock was used in the hotel's construction. Thirty guest rooms spiral out from the central areas that house reception, the bar, and dining areas. Adjacent to the lounge, Casa de Baños Hare Vai boasts a pool, massage salon and open-air Jacuzzis.
January 2, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's been lots of buzz about "the next Croatia": the small, sun-soaked country wedged between Bosnia and Albania on the Adriatic coast. Montenegro is one of those jewels that tops 2008's hotlist of the "next destinations." In fact, Amanresorts is currently pumping millions into the restoration of the resort island, Sveti Stefan, a former haunt of movie stars which will soon open as an exclusive private-island resort. Dating from the 15th century, the island's picturesque dwellings and cobblestoned streets are encircled by golden crescent-shaped beaches. Sveti Stefan is in fact connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus (pictured). Formerly a glamorous hideaway for all sorts of A-listers, the island fell into decline during the 1990s. But now Montenegro is on the tourist map once again and Amanresorts luxury playground will soon begin wooing well-heeled travelers to its magical shores.