August 21, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
An African safari wouldn't be complete without a stop-over at the Indian Ocean hot spot of Zanzibar. The archipelago is just a hop from the mainland, and entices visitors with its rich history and aquamarine waters. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of ancient Stone Town is buzzing with bright bazaars, redolent with the scent of cloves. Wander the narrow streets and marvel at the Portuguese, Arab, Dutch, and English cultural influences. The place to stay is the Zanzibar Serena Inn, the perfect base to explore the atmospheric streets of the town. Idyllically situated on the sea front, the hotel is a haven of opulence amidst the bustle of the town. Each guest room is a cool, white enclave, constructed in the traditional design of a Swahili house, adorned with traditionally carved furniture, cool-ceramics, intricate fretwork, and draped beds. Lovely doors open onto wrought-iron balconies overlooking the Persian-bath pool and azure bay beyond.
There's been a lot of buzz about the breathtakingly beautiful island of Hvar, magnet for beautiful people, dotted with lavender patches and sun-kissed (rocky) beaches. Hvar receives more days of sunshine than any other place in the country, and the visitors flock to this scenic hot spot. Hvar Town is chock full of fine restaurants, trendy bars, and winding Medieval alleys-- a picturesque and popular hideaway. The place to stay is the Hotel Riva, the island's chicest boutique hotel and the only Croatian hotel that's a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Located on the seaside promenade, the hotel attracts a memorable crowd of pretty people to its BB club, the island's hottest bar. The views from the stylish, contemporary rooms are simply stunning.
Each summer, the large white sand beach in front of the Ritz-Carlton Cancun becomes a sanctuary for sea turtles which arrive at night to nest. The luxury resort, one of the most elegant in the world, has created a Turtle Camp, an ecological conservation program for guests to discover one of the best kept secrets of this sought-after destination. The Ritz-Carlton Cancun has introduced the services of the Turtle Nanny, who patrols the beach at night in search of nests, serves as a guardian for the turtles and guides guests in the release of the hatchlings into the ocean after a two month incubation period. Be part of this truly extraordinary experience at The Ritz-Carlton Cancun.
August 16, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Escape to one of the swankiest boutique hotels on Ocean Drive (this sexy hotel is right next door to the famed Versace mansion) for a perfectly fabulous weekend with your girlfriends. Outfitted by Parisian design extraordinaire Jacques Garcia, Hotel Victor is a gorgeous South Beach destination. Think rich color, retro furniture, and illuminated moon jellyfish tank in the lobby. Experience the quintessential Girls Only Getaway and enjoy a luxurious single or double Very Victor room, and welcome amenity, which includes copies of the latest Life & Style and Us Weekly magazines. Refresh yourself with a poolside manicure during the day and unwind in the evening with a complimentary Mojito at Vue Terrace. Though the city's buzzing nightlife is just steps from the hotel, you may not want to leave the comfort of Hotel Victor. The infinity pool overlooks the Atlantic, the vibe manager on staff can arrange all manner of Miami outings, and the mini-bars in-room are stuffed full of "South Beach life-style essentials." The Girls Only Getaway is available thru December 28th, 2007 and starts at $350.
There's a reason this place is such a honeymoon hot spot. Boasting the largest spa in the Seychelles, situated next to one of the world's most beautiful talcum powder beaches, Banyan Tree Seychelles is a rare taste of paradise. Boasting spectacular views of the Indian Ocean (framed by swaying palms and lush tropical forest), the resort's villas are a marvelous blend of contemporary, colonial, and plantation décor, with high sloping ceilings and airy verandahs. And Banyan Tree Seychelles recently got even more romantic, with the launch of the new Two-Bedroom DoublePool Beachfront villas, the first resort in the Seychelles to feature these exclusive retreats. Here you can wake up to the soft lapping waves just outside your villa. Each of the stunning villas offers two private pools, two open-air dining areas, a jet-pool, two sprawling master bedrooms, as well as a 24-hour in-villa host and in-villa chef services.
More new additions: the Club House and new restaurant Chez Lamar, offering gastronomic Creole delights with inspiration from Seychellois' vibrant culture.
Horse folks are welcome at Half Moon, one of only three resorts in the Caribbean with its own equestrian center. Led by passionate trainers, the center offers excellent programs for all ages and skill levels. Enjoy the signature Beach Ride, which takes riders for an exhilarating swim on horseback into the sea. Budding equestrians can partake in the Jungle Jaunt, which leads riders through paths on a scenic hillside. More proficient riders can take advantage of private lessons. Plus, there are pony rides for the kiddies. Surrounded by sandy crescent beaches, the elegant Half Moon resort features an exclusive dolphin lagoon, championship golf, first-class tennis, a variety of water sports, and delectable specialty restaurants.
PS. Fall breaks at Half Moon are a steal, with nightly rates starting at $149 per night in a Superior Room. (Double occupancy; three night minimum stay required.) Available September 6 - October 31, 2007.
August 13, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This is music to our ears. The Tides, the high design hotel brand in "chic by the shore" settings from the Kor Hotel Group, has added another gorgeous resort to its impressive collection. Formerly Villa del Sol, the award-winning Zihuatanejo resort joins The Tides South Beach in Florida and The Tides Riviera Maya on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Listed on Travel and Leisure's 500 List and named "Most Outstanding Hotel" by Condé Nast Johansens, The Tides Zihuatanejo blends the casual romance of beachfront lifestyle with the coveted seclusion of a lush garden retreat. Located above a picturesque fishing village on Mexico's Pacific Coast, the hotel boasts signature Tides amenities, exclusive butler services, infinity pools, a world-class spa, and an enhanced beach experience, with the high-noon complimentary beverage refresher service and doting Beach Butlers who provide tanning products, neck cushions, iPods, and cocktail services. Seventy guestrooms and suites, housed in two-storey adobe-inspired casitas, afford stunning jungle and ocean views across a beautiful private beach. The restaurant, one of the new brand-signature La Marea restaurants, offers the freshest seafood with a beach club ambience. Lucky couples can take advantage of the private lagoon dinner on a small island in the resort's lagoon-- for the ultimate romantic dining experience.
August 10, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Imagine: a host of teeming marine life-- trumpet fish, white and black tip reef sharks, and turtles-- right outside your villa sundeck. Cocoa Island, the Indian Ocean outpost from COMO Hotels and Resorts (the folks behind Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos), is located in a quiet atoll where the waters are undisturbed. Diving in the Maldives is rated among the best in the world, and Cocoa Island has an on-site dive center staffed by PADI certified instructors catering to every level of experience. You can rent equipment, enroll in PADI sanctioned diving courses, and adventure out on safari dives farther afield. You can even take part in night dives. Cocoa Island's house reef stretches to over 500 meters along the southern flank of the atoll, and with a visibility of 20 to 25 meters, both divers and snorkelers are delighted by the exquisite coral and its thriving ecosystem.
Discover the best of Barcelona on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From museum hopping to boat trips, from Gaudi's architecture to gothic cathedrals, from reflexology massages by the pool to personal shopping tours, Hotel Arts Barcelona understands the art of enjoying summer. A member of the Ritz-Carlton family of hotels, Hotel Arts Barcelona overlooks miles of Barcelona beachfront and the grand vista of Port Olimpic. The view may be nice, but the hotel's striking contemporary architecture is really what turns heads. In addition, there is a spectacular collection of Spanish contemporary art housed in the hotel. Sit down for an al fresco meal, fanned by a mild summer breeze, at the Restaurante Marina. Sink into a soft sofa on Arola's chill-out terrace, sipping a cocktail and sharing tapas. This is what summer's all about. The hotel also boasts a stunning Spa by Six Senses on the 43rd floor, outdoor pool, open-air Jacuzzi in terraced gardens, and a fitness center with personal fitness consultations.
Summer specials abound in the warmer climes. Case in point: Old Bahama Bay Resort, newly dubbed Old Bahama Bay at Ginn sur Mer, is offering an Endless Summer Package for a song. Enjoy deluxe accommodations, welcome drink upon arrival, round-trip airport transfers, and complimentary use of sail boats, kayaks, snorkel equipment, Hobie Cats, fitness center and bicycles-- starting from just $209 per night in an Ocean View Junior Suite. Three night minimum stay required; available until October 30th, 2007. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Old Bahama Bay has an ambiance of barefoot elegance with an out-island remote feel, though it's only 56 miles from the Florida coast. A new member of the Ginn Resorts family, the full-service resort has got it all: beachfront suites with luxurious touches, a 72-slip port of entry marina, three restaurants, and a host of activities including the 4,000 sq ft heated swimming pool with infinity edge, massage services, fitness center, fishing, snorkeling and boating.