July 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Named to Fodor's Top Ten Luxury Resort Spas, the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa sits high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. This beautiful resort is a sun-kissed landmark, inspired by the architecture of Tuscany. With its private beach club, world-class spa, oceanfront golf course, and personalized (ever attentive) service, this is the ideal spot for a luxurious escape. For a limited time, stay four nights but only pay for three! If you book three consecutive nights by December 15, 2006, your fourth night is on the house. This offer is available every day of the week.
July 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The delightful port city of Charleston—brimming with historic charm-- was ranked the fourth best city in the nation by readers of Travel and Leisure magazine. The Golf courses are beloved by readers of Golf Digest magazine. Additionally, Charleston was named a top art destination by American Style Magazine, for its lovely art galleries and exhibits. And come October, Charleston will host the Southern Living Cook-Off 2006, the largest annual cook-off in America, at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, where finalists will prepare their recipes for judges prior to the main event.
Plus, Charleston is home to some of the country's top-ranking hotels, like The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, an oceanside resort celebrated for its incredible natural beauty, championship golf courses and excellent recreational activities, and the stunning Charleston Place, where guests are treated to the finest Southern hospitality in elegant surroundings. (Not to mention the incredibly lavish European-style Spa, with clay tennis court, and a horizon edged swimming pool with retractable glass roof.)
Ahh, Capri. Favorite haunt of hedonists, undercover movie stars, and loony Roman Emperor Tiberius, who used to indulge in wild orgies (and was also know to hurl virgin maidens and boys to their deaths over the cliffs). It's little wonder why so many visitors flock to the island. Home of the famous Blue Grotto, and fantastic Roman ruins including Tiberius's many villas, Capri juts up from the deep blue waters of the Bay of Naples overlooking Italy's scenic Amalfi Coast. The landscape is simply gorgeous, and the cuisine is divine. The place to stay? The Hotel Caesar Augustus commands a magnificent view, perched on the clifftop in Anacapri 1,000 feet above the sea, at the very pinnacle of the island. The hotel boasts the most extraordinary vistas to be found on all of Capri, and its infinity swimming pool seems to overflow into the sea of Capri below. For a stay fit for the emperor, book the Suite Cesare; the beautiful light-filled space has superb panoramic views from its private terrace and bathroom jacuzzi. In Spring and September (an ideal time to visit with its plentiful sun-kissed days without the crowds), the hotel offers the Best of Capri Package which includes three nights accommodation in Deluxe room with sea view and buffet breakfast, romantic dinner for two at the restaurant "La Terrazza di Lucullo," tour of the island in a convertible taxi or by private boat, and transfer from/to the port of Capri on arrival and departure. Starting from EUR 1,500. (Quite the steal. Normally you'd pay over $2,000 just for the three-night stay, without the additional amenities.)
The fabled stretch of California coastline—recently featured in the fantastic NYT piece "Road Trip: Chasing the Perfect Taco up the California Coast"—has long been celebrated as one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in the world. In the midst of this rugged beauty, rising above the craggy cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn provides a spectacular view of the Pacific and one of the best dining experiences in the country at Sierra Mar Restaurant. Located just off Highway One, the Post Ranch Inn is a romantic sanctuary of rustic elegance, with 30 guest rooms featuring wood-burning fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, complimentary minibars, private decks, and Pacific and mountain views. The luxurious Spa has been featured as one of the world's best in Travel and Leisure magazine. Enjoy early-morning yoga classes, bask in the sun by the pools, go whale-watching, or participate in a guided nature walk. The award winning Sierra Mar restaurant offers an awe-inspiring setting overlooking the coast, from its perch 1,200 feet above the Pacific. The all-glass dining room is possibly the best place along this coast to enjoy its incomparable beauty.
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.
July 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.