Snow-capped peaks loom over olive groves and the crashing surf at the seaside eco-marine town of Kaikoura. Sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, halfway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island... Welcome to one of the most spectacular settings on earth. In this majestic spot, a family of designers and architects has created an eco-friendly luxury lodge unlike any place on earth. Hapuku Lodge is a treetrop retreat with solar-heated showers, spacious bathrooms, handcrafted furniture, multiple dining rooms, and even meeting venues. But the best part of all is the gasp-inducing 360 degree views from the hotel's perch 30 feet off the ground in the trees. To quote Outside Magazine, "'I joke with guests that over breakfast you can decide whether you want to go surfing or skiing,' says H. Justin Stafford-Wilson, whose father opened the lodge in 2002."
Ahhh, The Breakers. South Florida's bastion of style is truly the ideal winter escape. Since 1896, this Italian Renaissance-style palace has been welcoming chilled winter guests to thaw in luxury on the ocean. And with the gorgeous $15 million beachfront redevelopment, The Breakers continues to delight its guests with its indulgent beachfront experience. L'Escalier, the hotel's AAA Five-Diamond award-winning restaurant, is presenting its wildly popular wine dinners this winter. Master Sommelier Virginia Philip has partnered with celebrated winemakers to present magnificent food and wine pairings. A reception with tastings is followed by a four-course dinner artfully prepared by L'Escalier's culinary team. On Thursday, January 24, 2008, guests will be delighted by winemakers from Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron and Chateau Suduiraut. Priced at $450 per person. [Map]
Escape the cold and enjoy serious savings in the postcard-perfect Turks and Caicos islands, the newest "it" spot in the Caribbean. Just because it's January doesn't mean the holidays have to end. The award-winning Regent Palms has some last minute getaways that are too good to be true. Plus, you can scope out the brand new Regent Spa which just opened this month. Book the "Welcome to 2008" package and get five nights for the price of four in a Luxury Ocean View Room! You'll also score a 30 percent VIP discount on all signature massage services and two welcome cocktails as you watch the sun set over Grace Bay. The rate starts at $875 per night, available through January 31, 2008. Or book the "Four Night Holiday Recovery" and get a couple's massage, dinner for two at Parallel 23, an in-suite breakfast with champagne (complimentary continental breakfast on the other mornings), and complimentary non-motorized water sports. Valid until January 26, 2008, priced at $3,360. Nota Bene: Kids under 12 stay free at The Regent Palms!
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.
January 3, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.