July 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Tis the season. For fashionable jaunts to the beach in St. Tropez, that is. And for a peaceful alternative to the crowded Riviera scene, head to Villa Marie, a serene and luxurious hideaway that was first brought to our attention by Conde Nast Traveler's 2004 Hot List. Overlooking the sparkling blue Pamplona Bay, Villa Marie is tucked into a secluded pine grove, a peaceful garden oasis of sprawling gardens, vineyards and a magnificent swimming pool carved from the rock. The villa is blissfully removed from the action, but close enough to easily satisfy a craving for a night out on the town (10 minutes away). The 42 guests rooms are uniquely designed with vintage Riviera and plenty of antiques, decorated in subtle pastel shades of pink and blue. The Spa Pure Altitude offers personalized treatments such as the regenerative Himalayan rose facial, the Mediterranean Body Care or theJasmine After-Sun Care. And the restaurant features an exquisite setting—its outdoor terrace has panoramic sea views—and delightful Mediterranean menu, with fresh local fish and produce.
Things are pretty riotous in Key West these days. The annual Hemingway Days Festival—replete with a Papa look-alike contest, loads of literary readings, short story competition, and fishing tournament—has come and gone. Resident locals are anxiously watching the sky (and nightly news) for hurricane warnings. And the (in)famous Hilton Key West resort and Marina—where the nightly sunset celebrations take place with street perfomers like the famed Dominique and his Flying House Cats, much to the delight of the cruise ship passengers— has been reflagged as The Westin Key West Resort and Marina. By the end of the month, the new brand name will be flying high, and during the next two years, the hotel will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation "to meet the upper-upscale standards of the Westin brand." The folks at Westin are also planning the Sunset Key Guest Cottages at the Westin Resort: 37 luxurious residential-style accommodations situated on a private island just 500 yards off-shore.
Experience heaven on earth in scenic Maui, and score a free room night at the same time! The award-winning Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, majestically perched on a crescent of white sand overlooking the Pacific, is considered one of the world's finest resorts. Enjoy the island's largest guest rooms (80 percent boast dazzling ocean views), peerless service, exquisite dining at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, and championship golf at your doorstep on the spectacular Wailea Emerald Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, and named one of the country's top-ten new resort courses by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest after its opening in 1994. Guests also enjoy the excellent fitness facilities, beautiful beach, spa, tennis courts, and snorkeling and scuba diving. At the large fountain pool (pictured), guests are spoiled with ice water, chilled towels, refreshing snack amenities, and Evian water spritz, from the doting pool attendants. From August 27-December 18, 2006, take advantage of the 5th Night Free Promotion, an excellent value during a great time to visit Hawaii. Blackout dates are from September 13-16, and November 18-26. Applicable to all room and suite categories except Mountainside and Maile Suite.
We've written about the Babymoon Packages at the Four Seasons Chicago and Peter Island in the Caribbean. And now it seems the trend is catching on. More and more expectant couples are choosing to travel before the baby's arrival-- to treat themselves to a few days of romance and pampering before the baby makes three. And more and more luxury hotels are organizing Babymoon packages to accommodate them. As highlighted in Newsweek International, Jamaica's Half Moon resort has organized an elaborate, five-day package where moms-to-be (in their first trimester) can even swim with dolphins, which use sonar to communicate with the fetus. At Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, the four-night maternity spa package offers prenatal yoga and exercises, and a special gift of a silver baby fork-and-spoon set.
July 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At the end of a country lane near Damariscotta, at the tip of the peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point is perched dramatically above the crashing surf, a quintessential image of Maine. Here, the landscape and beautiful summer cottages are part of a quaint Down East community that houses one of the best restaurants in Maine. The Bradley Inn is a century-old Bed and Breakfast that delights guests with gracious hospitality and charming accommodations. Its 16 gracious guest rooms feature four poster cherry beds, fireplaces, New England period furnishings, and garden or ocean views. Guests enjoy biking through the area's great natural beauty, croquet on the lawn in the afternoons, and canoeing the local coves and waterways. In the evenings, guests are spoiled at the exceptional dining room, winner of the Wine Spectator award of excellence. As described by Food and Wine Magazine:
(Chef) Carinhas has an eclectic take on local products that lifts them to another level altogether—like big-bellied Maine clams that she fries until crisp and serves with an anchovy mayonnaise, or Atlantic halibut, seared and presented with a Tuscan contorno of white beans and bitter greens.
Nestled in hundreds of acres of jungle in the Yucatan Peninsula's Riviera Maya, Maroma is a secluded hideaway on the edge of the turquoise Caribbean. An Orient-Express Hotel, Maroma reopened in February 2006 with many luxurious renovations, including the addition of eight Sian Nah Suites and a new restaurant. Though only 20 minutes from the Cancun International Airport, the resort is tucked away in a nature reserve, with extensive coral reefs located just offshore from the long stretches of sugary white sand. The 65 elegant rooms and suites are situated within lush gardens, each with open-air terrace, just steps away from the beach, pool, jacuzzi, and the lavish Kinan Spa—where guests are pampered with specialty spa services in open-air palapas with private gardens. From now until November 16, 2006, stay four nights, but only pay for three! This special package includes welcome cocktail, a snorkeling trip to the beautiful reef, use of fitness center, airport transfers and daily a la carte breakfast. Special offer rates start at $1,290 for a Garden Room.
Maroma is also offering a series of Yoga retreats, comprised of daily progressive yoga classes, meditation sessions, spa treatments, a healthy gourmet cooking class, and a menu which includes healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These six-day Yoga Retreats include accommodations for five nights, Holistic Health Advisor Consultations, welcome reception and dinner, daily meditation, daily spa breakfast, daily yoga classes, daily spa treatment, one Healthy Spa gourmet cooking class, trip to Koba, snorkeling excursion, and farewell reception and dinner. Double occupancy rate is $4,475 in Garden Room. Yoga retreats are limited to a maximum of ten people in order to ensure personalized attention. Maroma is now taking reservations for the August 24 to 29, 2006, October 19 to 24, November 9 to 14, 2006, May 3 to 8, 2007, and June 7 to 12, 2007 retreats.
July 19, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board On Tuesday, July 18th, Loews Hotels President Jack Adler presented plans at the NBTA conference in Chicago for the company's expansion and brand initiatives. To increase Loews Hotels' distribution, the company has plans to expand into target cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Vancouver. According to Loews, resort locations are also on the drawing board, including a 400 plus room resort in Lake Las Vegas. Slated to open in 2009, it would be Loews Hotels’ first property with a residential component, featuring 125 condo hotel units and 350 traditional guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space and distinctive entertainment facilities. Additional brand initiatives in the next 5 years include furthering the Loews idea of "Four Diamond and more" properties while ensuring that each hotel is supremely comfortable, vibrant and uniquely local. For example, in Miami, Loews teams with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse to offer Emeril’s South Beach and in New York, a successful partnership with celebrated musician Michael Feinstein promises a vibrant New York cabaret experience for Loews guests. On the design and décor front, the Loews brand promise ensures that each property has a distinctly local sensibility. In Nashville, for example, the hotels whimsical décor is reflective of the destination's "Music City" moniker. A final initiative is the Loews Branded Breakfast Experience, a program that further differentiates the brand in the luxury field. The Breakfast at Loews program has several distinguishing features, including an expanded beverage program featuring a custom shaken "juice bar" and specialty press coffee; a chef-selected "breakfast amuse" and a to-go cup of coffee at departure.
Ritz-Carlton is expanding its portfolio of award-winning luxury properties in the Caribbean, with its eight hotel in St. Lucia slated to open in 2009. And the island destination isn't a shabby choice; St. Lucia is celebrated for its unspoiled natural beauty and verdant landscape marked by the Piton volcanoes. Situated on Half Moon Bay with spectacular views of the Piton peaks, the new Ritz-Carlton will be an exclusive haven of 275 oceanfront rooms. The resort will be enhanced by a 20,000 square foot spa and two 18-hole golf courses overlooking the Atlantic, including one designed by Arnold-Palmer. Dining venues will include a specialty restaurant with pool grill, 30-seat lobby lounge, and a clubhouse restaurant and bar next to the golf course. Ritz-Carlton is already anticipating the St. Lucia resort to be a hot spot for destination weddings and meetings.
July 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In early July, The Stein Group announced that the 19th century palatial hotel, located between Nice and Monaco on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Med, has joined its gorgeous collection of luxury hotels. Located in Eze-Bord-de-Mer, Cap Estel is surrounded by lush gardens draped with bougainvillea and wisteria, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, and the pink facades of villas in the French Riviera's charming villages. As one of the area's most renowned boutique hotels, with only eight rooms and 12 suites, Cap Estel has hosted royalty, politicians, and celebrities from all over the world. Guests are delighted by the personalized service and excellent facilities: private beach, indoor heated pool, outdoor salt water infinity pool perched over the Mediterranean, state-of-the-art gym, and extensive gardens. All rooms have a balcony or terrace with sea view, and are equipped with cutting edge technology: LCD or plasma screen TVs, DVD/CD player, individually controlled A/C and heating units, and internet connections. The property has just emerged from a meticulous, three-year restoration. The Stein Group now boasts 17 prestigious hotels in its portfolio, many of which dot the Mediterranean.
July 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
An urban retreat by the sea, the Viceroy is a happening Santa Monica hot spot, known for its fusion of classic sophistication and contemporary style. This beach boutique is boldly designed and utterly luxurious, its 163 guestrooms featuring ocean views and the finest quality amenities: custom beds with down comforters and pillows, over-sized showers, fully-stocked minibars, entertainment center with 27" flat screen TV, music and video games, in-room CD-DVD player and 2-line telephones with speaker capability. And the Monarch Suite rocks; the Penthouse has a balcony, living room with wet bar, and whirlpool tub. Relax in a poolside cabana, head to the beach, shop the nearby Third Street Promenade, or work out in the 24-hour fitness facility. In the evening, grab a cocktail at the chic Cameo bar, packed nightly with the city's trendsetters, and savor the California-French cuisine at Whist, rated one of the top hotel restaurants by Travel and Leisure. Until December 30, 2006, the Viceroy Santa Monica is offering the "L.A. A La Carte" package, which includes accommodations in a viceroy or ocean-view room, breakfast for two, and a late check-out at 3 pm. Starting at $389 per night (taxes and tips additional).