June 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
I was fortunate enough to tour the Tides Inn during a glorious afternoon. Allow me to sing its praises. For sixty years, discriminating travelers and yachtsmen sailing the Eastern seaboard have flocked to the Tides Inn, a well-guarded secret. Today, the AAA four-diamond resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, and visitors enjoy the sparkling pool, spa, boating excursions, tennis, and world-class golf on the Golden Eagle course.
As I walked towards the Inn's entrance, I was greeted by a valet and bellhop who offered lemonade and freshly baked cookies, along with a smile. How's that for Southern hospitality? This gracious hospitality is standard at an Inn long celebrated for its genuine Southern charm. Perched over Carters Creek with an unobstructed view to the sparkling waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Tides Inn commands a setting like no other. Under a clear blue sky, I strolled out in the flowering gardens to gape at the view. Next to the manicured croquet lawn, guests sipped drinks beneath the shade of a tall cedar, watching the boats dock in the marina. Everywhere I turned, the staff beamed smiles and greetings.
Though the Inn has a long history as the premier hotel in the Mid-Atlantic, there is nothing faded about this place. After extensive refurbishments in 2001, the Tides Inn emerged in all of its contemporary splendor, but with all its traditions intact. Guest rooms are elegant and comfortable, outfitted in British colonial style with dark wood trim and custom fitted marble for the wet bars. You'll still find the wooden lockers in the Chesapeake Club, the resort's fine dining restaurant, where guests during the "dry" years stored their bottles after a whiskey run to nearby Urbanna (a "wet county") aboard the Miss Ann. And you'll still find an impressive attention to detail: guests are pampered with complimentary bottles of champagne and hand-written cards when celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.
The Fourth of July week at the Tides Inn promises to be a fabulous celebration, packed with festive activities and events. Plus, if you stay three or more nights during the week, you'll qualify for a special rate of $295 per evening. Here's a taste of what's in store: a phenomenal fireworks display right on Carters Creek, night golf, a boat building competition on the Windsor Lawn, kayaking tours on Carters Creek, Irvington's Main Street Parade complete with Antique Cars, family scavenger hunts, garden tours, and movie nights in the Bryant Garden, the Inn's own natural amphitheater.
Now you can tie the knot in style with the best of both worlds: a Caribbean cruise and a destination wedding in paradise at Half Moon. The prestigious resort has just introduced Cruise Day Wedding Packages, so that cruise passengers arriving at Jamaica's Montego Bay Cruise Ship Pier can be whisked away to Half Moon for a luxurious and memorable wedding. The Shore Romance package, priced at $3,900, includes all the amenities needed for the perfect wedding: marriage officer, professional videographer and photographer, two chilled bottles of champagne, chef's selection of hot and cold d'oeuvres for up to ten persons, wedding cake, two witnesses, plus the services of a June Wedding Incorporated certified wedding planner. Valid until December 14, 2007, includes a day use room at the resort. You can really go all out with the Shore Paradise package, which includes all the amenities of the Shore Romance package, plus professional make-up for the bride, lavish floral arrangements, Swedish massage for the bride and groom, a flautist or violinist, all for $6,200. Rest assured-- there's an army of event staff on-site (including a romance specialist) to handle all the planning logistics.
As recently featured on Travel and Leisure's "It List," Bauer Il Palladio is the hottest new hotel in Venice. Though the hotel is housed in a former convent, there is nothing austere about this place-- decked out in Murano-glass lanterns and the finest tapestries and paintings. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece of original 16th century brick walls and terrazzo floors, complemented by antique furnishings. The hotel is aptly called a "rare jewel in Venice," as its location on the exclusive island of Giudecca ensures stupendous views of the city. A cool perk: guests are transported by solar-powered boat to and from Venice's other islands. This summer, the five-star hotel welcomes its luxurious spa, which will offer a slew of first-class wellness therapies along with a Turkish hammam and saunas.
Visit nine wonders of the world-- from the Egyptian pyramids to the incredible carved sculptures on Easter Island-- with Abercrombie & Kent's globe-spanning journey by private jet. The luxury tour operator enlists expert guides to accompany their programs; these professionals are the ideal traveling companions who work hard to ensure an unforgettable journey. Privileged guests can choose from an array of sightseeing excursions, sport, shopping and spa options at selected destinations. And with Abercrombie & Kent, guests experience privileged access to these nine landmarks of world culture-- a real insider's perspective. As to be expected, the accommodations on this circumnavigation are the finest, like the elegant Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, and the luxurious Four Seasons First Residence in Cairo. For 2008, the itinerary spans Miami, Lima, Easter Island, Apia (Samoa), Sydney, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar), Jodhpur & Agra (India), Muscat (Oman), Petra (Jordan), Cairo, and New York. Dates are January 13- February 6, 2008 and February 7- March 2, 2008. There are a limited number of seats on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. The private Boeing 757-200 is limited to just 50 guests, so make your reservations today.
The hottest ticket in California right now is San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, where new hotels are opening a mile a minute. The long-awaited Ivy Hotel, about which we first reported last December, is finally ready to make its debut in August. Guests can expect 24-hour butler service, a fitness center, rooftop pool, and Cadillac Escalade courtesy cars. Fun, whimsical dishes will be the mainstay at The Quarter Kitchen, the hotel's on-site restaurant. Think caviar tacos and lobster pot pie. Hot on the heels of this sexy hotel's opening, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is scheduled to open in the fall. Book one of the rock star suites-- rumor has it that the Black Eyed Peas even designed one-- and enjoy LCD televisions, CD/DVD with iPod connections, and a martini bar.
It's no wonder this historic hood is attracting the eye of hoteliers. Experiencing a renaissance of sorts, the place is packed with boutiques, bistros, beautiful galleries, excellent restaurants, and happening nightlife spots. And of course as we sing the area's praises, we can't forget the signature old-fashioned gaslamps lining the sidewalks of the West's trendiest neighborhood.
Follow your bliss to the soft sands and roaring surf of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where Casa Velas provides a peaceful, secluded oasis. Tucked away on the beautiful Marina Vallarta golf course, Casa Velas is an adults-only boutique hotel. Relax in your private plunge pool or hit the sand at the beach club. Retreat to the spa for an indulgent massage overlooking the ocean. In the evening, enjoy live music and a fabulous meal at the gourmet restaurant, Emiliano. This is the ultimate romantic hideaway. With the One More Night promotion, stay for three nights and get the fourth for free! And since this hotel is all-inclusive, you get all your meals, premium beverages, and round-trip airport transfers for free. Rates are for a Master Suite, and start at $540 per couple per night. (Rate is pro-rated to reflect savings for the four-night stay.) Available until December 20, 2007.
June 21, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now you can stay next door to Vladimir Putin's summer house on the Russian Riviera. When he's not hazing the new French president, Vlad hangs out here in Sochi, the historic seaside resort on the Black Sea. Stein Hotels opened Grand Hotel and Spa Rodina in May 2006 and the media's been abuzz ever since. Set within 15 hectares of gardens that lead down to a private beach club, the hotel has dramatic views of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains, sandy beaches of the Black Sea, and Putin's official summer residence. Joseph Stalin originally created the resort in the 1950s as a retreat for the party elite. For over two centuries, the country's rich and powerful flocked to these shores, now also known for its annual film festival held in June. The subtropical climate-- the most northernmost like it in the world-- means lush terrain and lots of leafy palms. (You can swim from April through October, and hit the ski slopes from October into May.) Discover the magnificent botanical gardens, the only tea plantations in Russia, and the magnificent canyons and waterfalls of the nearby Caucasus mountains.
Grand Hotel Rodina is an exclusive property of only 42 rooms and suites, some with private terrace Jacuzzis. Soak in the oversized swimming pools (the best in the area), catch a flick at the private cinema, dine al fresco on the rooftop terrace, stake your claim to a piece of paradise at the exclusive Beach Club. The facilities are truly presidential, with tennis and basketball courts, a helicopter pad, boathouse, billiard room, and fully-equipped gym and spa. The best part of all? The cigar room located in the 50 year old bomb shelter.
June 19, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Relax and renew at the Del's new, state-of-the-art spa, just steps from the best family beach in America. When the legendary Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888, the seaside resort was considered a premier vacation and health destination, where the sea air soothed with restorative therapeutic effects. The hotel has a rich and colorful history-- its guests have included Marilyn Monroe and Charles Lindbergh-- and a century later, the hotel has become a living legend, visited by celebs, dignitaries, and countless U.S. presidents. The San Diego spa resort continues to dazzle visitors with its unparalleled oceanfront location and new spa-- which includes 21 treatments rooms, hydrotherapy, relaxation areas for men and women, steam rooms, and an expansive private terrace overlooking the magnificent Windsor Lawn and the Pacific Ocean. Unwind with a summertime Del Spa Package, with rates starting at $350 per night, and get a $175 spa credit per stay. Two-night minimum stay required.
June 18, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The temperatures may be rising but the prices are dropping at luxury hotels in paradisiacal off-season destinations. Case in point: Caneel Bay, the alluring hideaway on the island gem of St. John in the US Virgin Islands, recently ranked number 1 resort in the Caribbean by Tennis Resorts Online. Rates are as low as $315 per night with the Rosewood Escape Summer Special. Give yourself a taste of paradise at a fraction of the cost of high season rates. Since its founding by Laurance Rockefeller fifty years ago, Caneel Bay has attracted a loyal clientele who enjoy the resort's pristine natural surroundings, white sand beaches, and low-key luxury. Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort, offers four distinct restaurants, private Wine Room, The Self Centre, fitness center, Turtle Town for kids, and the impressive 11-court tennis complex.
June 15, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Experience a summer vacation on the chic Caribbean island of St. Bart's, where the exclusive Le Toiny Hotel has designed a unique and romantic five-night escape package, called "Awaken in the Dream." Upon arrival in St. Bart's airport, you'll receive a VIP welcome, then the chauffeur will escort you to the exclusive hotel, where your secluded Villa Suite awaits-- with private pool and tropical garden. Pop open the bottle of champagne and canapés that have been prepared for you, and then choose a convenient time for your dinner at the Le Gaïac restaurant, where a table awaits overlooking the beautiful bay. Each morning your French continental breakfast will be served on your private terrace next to your pool. Choose a location for your day's outing in the rental car reserved for your use (automatic soft top Jeep). Enjoy wonderfully prepared lunches in the restaurant, and in-suite massages for two, along with a professional manicure for one. You'll also receive a goodbye gift of a Le Toiny tote bag, perfect for your carry-ons. Priced from EUR 3380 for two people, available until August 31, 2007.