LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Not like anyone could ever get bored of over-water bungalows and the paradise setting of Tahiti: white sandy beaches and dramatic green mountains rising from the South Pacific. But the luxurious Le Meridien Tahiti has organized art and cooking classes for those who want to do more than lounge in the sandy-bottom swimming pool or scuba dive the seas. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the resort highlights the colorful cultural heritage of these beautiful islands, the inspiration for so many artists (like Paul Gauguin). Discover art and cuisine first-hand with L'Atelier du Chef, the new cooking class program for 2008. Study the art of Tahitian cooking with the Executive Chef Sebastien Philizot during several interactive classes and learn how to make tasty dishes like crispy shrimp with fresh mint and mango salsa. Classes are offered daily, except Thursdays, for approx. $55. You can combine cooking classes with the noteworthy L'Atelier Art program. Immerse yourself in the rich art history of the islands by meeting local artists and receiving painting instruction through several courses. There are 4 and 5 day packages available.
Snag a deal at one of the finest hotels on Nantucket Island. Spring is here, the perfect time to visit this exclusive resort destination when the summertime crowds have not yet flooded the beaches. The Wauwinet is a world-class property that's home to Topper's Restaurant (the top hotel restaurant in Massachusetts, according to Zagat) and the island's first resort spa. During peak season, rooms at this award-winning hotel go for $700 and up. In May you can score a room for $290 a night with the "Too Good to be True" rates.
April 21, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We've been oohing and ahhing over the posh urban resort that is San Diego's Ivy Hotel, and it looks like we're not the only ones to be swooning. The Ivy was just included in Conde Nast Traveler's 12th annual "Hot List" of the World's Top New 136 Hotels. Here's the word:
...substance also accompanies the sexy style. Each of the 159 rooms is assigned an amiable and efficient butler who will run a bubble bath or fetch more champagne. The rooftop sundeck (where after-dark movies are screened) is strewn with daybeds, private cabanas and wicker "pods" for two. At Quarter Kitchen, chef Damon Gordon's offbeat repertoire includes truffled leek empanadas and caviar tacos. The Ivy's nightlife scene remains a hot ticket in the Gaslamp Quarter, with the crowd gathering to watch the city lights (and one another) at the rooftop Eden Bar, before descending into the depths of Envy for techno and bottle service rendered by servers in pleather minidresses...
April 18, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Book a summer getaway to the Caribbean and experience real value at the award-winning Jamaica Inn, consistently awarded prestigious accolades and considered one of the finest properties in the region. Indeed, Travel and Leisure recently ranked Jamaica Inn among the Top 3 Hotels in the Caribbean for the World's Best Hotel Values (March 2008 issue). Summer rates have officially kicked in so now's the time to snag a real deal at this elegant 47-room property situated on the premier beach in Jamaica. Choose the "Quick Fix Getaway," priced at $1,541, and you'll enjoy three nights in a Deluxe Verandah Suite inclusive of Private Roundtrip Transfers from the Montego Bay Airport, Breakfast and Dinner Daily, and one 1-Hour Massage at the KiYara Ocean Spa per person. Or book the "5 for 4 Special" and you'll get a 5th night free when you pay for 4 nights! Available in the Superior Balcony Suite, the Deluxe Verandah Suite and the Premier Verandah Suite rates only. Or choose the "Girlfriends' Retreat," priced from just $1,661 for a four night stay, and you'll luxuriate in bliss at the KiYara Ocean Spa with a 1 hour and 45 minute treatment including a Cooling Aloe Mint Body Cleanser, a KiYara Deep Stress Relief Massage, and a Hydrating Aroma Facial per person. Breakfast is also included.
All the above-mentioned packages are available from May 1-October 31, 2008. The hotel will be closed from August 31-September 28, 2008 for their annual renovations.
The Colombian cocaine kingpin sure did pick a nice spot. Tulum and the Riviera Maya have become Mexico's hottest destination in the last decade, and it's little wonder why. The picture-perfect setting of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, coupled with the easy proximity to the U.S. East Coast, continues to lure vacationers seeking a little piece of paradise. On the secluded coast near Tulum, south of Cancun, a new eco-chic resort called Casa Magna has been making waves. Legend has it that Escobar himself camped out here (and there are the bullet-proof walls, a secret tunnel, and "look-out turrets" to prove it). After the drug lord's death, the place was abandoned and deteriorated into a mess of concrete... At least until Amansala took on a massive renovation project and created this eco-friendly hideaway touting "rustic luxury." On this pristine stretch of beach, you'll find spacious rooms, yoga classes, fitness training, and a restaurant serving the freshest fish and tasty mango margaritas.
Imagine: a guava wrap (or rum tonic body treatment) in the luxurious haven of the Four Seasons spa. Golf and tennis by the crystal-clear sea. Beaches of silky-soft sand stretching as far as the eye can see. Sunset dining at the water's edge. Four Seasons Nevis offers all that, and more; the resort has also distinguished itself as a fun and elegant Caribbean hideaway perfect for families. Starting April 19, 2008, you can score a $100/night resort credit with the "Discover Nevis" package. So the longer you stay, the more value you get at Four Seasons Nevis-- with no maximum limit! You can also combine this promotion with the "Family Plan" which allows you to get a second room at 50 percent off. Prices start at $335 per night on May 31, 2008. (The rate is $449 from April 19-May 30, 2008).
April 14, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Traveling with a troubled teen? Parents will be thrilled about exclusive packages from Loews Hotels combining vacation time with educational experiences. Designed to please the tricky adolescent set, these one- and two-night packages are both fun and instructional. Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville offers a "Music and Lyrics by Loews" package that's perfect for the budding music star. Your teen(s) will enjoy a song-writing session with award-winning songwriter, Thom Shepherd, a one-hour guitar lesson, plus a voucher for an acoustic guitar. The whole fam can attend a performance at the famed Bluebird Café, where Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea and Vince Gill got their starts. Priced at $1,200, the package includes luxurious accommodations for up to two adults and two teens.
Les ados also get psyched about "My Super Suite Vacation" at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, where they get private surfing lessons on INT surfboards custom-designed for each teen to take home. (Followed by spa treatments in the resort's Teen Spa Room, no joke.) Or perhaps your teen is already on their way to Wall Street? Loews Regency Hotel in New York offers "Inside Financial Markets" to provide the inside scoop on this exciting, complex industry. Priced at $900, the one-night package includes Power Breakfast for two, with rotating speakers from the financial world, viewing of the Nasdaq Opening Bell and tour of NASDAQ's Marketsite, photo of the teen's image on the Nasdaq Tower, and a special turn-down amenity. Or head to South Beach to learn the secrets of party-planning! The two-night "Culinary Arts Experience" at Loews Miami Beach Hotel includes a one-on-one South Beach exclusive "food arts" lesson with Barton G. Wiess, dining experience for teen and parents at the Barton G. Restaurant, and a customized apron personalized by Barton.
Mallorca's exquisite 5-star Gran Hotel Son Net is commemorating its 10th anniversary with a special offer: Guests can book rooms at the original 1998 rates during the month of October 2008, the 10th month of the 10th year. You can even score special rates-- guaranteed dollar prices-- at the newly opened Grand Suite Villas. All guests will also receive a complimentary bottle of Mallorcan wine during their October stay. But hurry, the hotel is bound to fill up fast! Situated in the rugged Tramuntana mountains just 15 minutes from Palma, this 31-room boutique hotel is housed in a farmhouse dating from the 17th century surrounded by olive groves and orange trees. Dine poolside or at the gourmet Oleum Restaurant, lounge in a private cabana by the beautiful pool, or indulge in a beauty treatment at the Zen Zone center. Rates starting from $300.
April 9, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort in Muscat, is much like Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah Resort in that it is comprised of three distinct hotels. At Barr Al Jissah, travelers can choose to stay at the Al Waha, Al Bandar, or Al Husn depending on their rooming needs. The complex is set on 124 acres, providing excellent views of both the desert and the sea, and only 15 minutes drive from Muscat's city center.
Al Waha, or "The Oasis", is family friendly and has several swimming pools surrounded by date palm trees. Located at the base of a mountain range, a tunnel was created to allow visitor access by car. There are 262 guestrooms in Al Waha, with room sizes starting at 37 square meters. All rooms have a balcony or patio, and most importantly, all are sea-facing.
The central point of the resort is Al Bandar, or "The Town", a hotel that features eight restaurants and cafes, 11 meeting rooms, and the Barr Al Jissah Ballroom. This hotel was inspired by old Muscat and looks as though it was composed from several different buildings, of different heights and styles. Al Bandar has 198 sea-facing guestrooms, with their starting room categories being a little larger than Al Waha's at 45 square meters. The guestrooms at Al Bandar are also sea-facing and have balconies or terraces.
Al Husn, "The Castle", is known as being the most exclusive of all the properties. All rooms and suites have direct views of the Gulf of Oman, and access to the secluded Mahhara Beach and Beach Bar are reserved only for guests at Al Husn. The 180 guest rooms are the largest, not to mention the most luxurious, in all of Oman. Complimentary in-room high speed internet access, Ipods, and DVD entertainment systems are available to guests at Al Husn. If you choose to reserve on of their suites, you will be able to enjoy the pre-dinner cocktail and canapés service as well.
Good luck trying to pick just one! No matter which one you choose, all Five Star Alliance guests visiting the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort will receive a complimentary upgrade to next room category upon check-in, subject to availability.
Experience the pinnacle of luxury for a song. The Langham Place Eco Resort and Spa, the new eco-friendly hideaway on the small island of Koh Lanta off the southwest coast of mainland Thailand, has a special package for just $185 per night including transfers, a bountiful breakfast, daily fresh fruit basket in-room, and complimentary late check-out at 4 p.m. Play some tennis, hit the gym, enjoy the use of the non-motorized water sports equipment and the movie house and music room-- all included. The three-night "Buy Me" Package is priced from Baht 6,000 ($185) and is available until October 31, 2008.
P.S. The pix will make you pine for paradise-- soft sand, crystal clear water, dramatic infinity-edge pools with uninterrupted views to the Andaman Sea. And the accommodations, infused with authentic Thai style, are equally as inspiring.