July 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.
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).
It's being called the "largest development in the hemisphere." The O Property Collection has announced its development of 2.24 sq-mile Dellis Cay, a breaktakingly beautiful island in the Turks and Caicos. With stunning tropical beaches and lagoons, the islands are also known for their spectacular diving and snorkeling, as the third largest coral reef system in the world is located just off-shore. This flagship project is located just 20 minutes from Providenciales. According to Travel Weekly:
Scheduled to open in 2008, the project is estimated to generate a billion dollars worth of sales within the next five years… The development will be divided into lifestyle zones, each designed by a different architect. OPC, which also has projects planned in the Mediterranean and Asia, will partner with hotel management companies to run the individual properties worldwide. Although each property development will be different, Kinay said that they will all "bear the marks of the OPC signature brand -- timeless architecture, sleek design, a fit with the natural surroundings and the finest in amenities and services."
But the company's website is remarkably vague about a project of this magnitude:
The Project involves building infrastructure and about 70,000 square meters of construction within the next three to five years. On the island, which will be divided into "lifestyle areas" designed by the world's foremost architects, the focus will be on creating an upscale, exclusive private island serving the needs of affluent travelers.
July 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The temperatures may be hot and steamy, but the prices are record-low. Head on down to Miami during Hurricane Season and seize the deal at South Beach hot spots like The Setai. Right now, the deals are unbelievable at Adrian Zecha's elegant beachfront masterpiece. Summer rates are starting at just $495, through September 2006. (The celeb-favorite Setai usually charges an arm and a leg.) Set amidst tropical gardens and turquoise pools next to the Atlantic, the Art Deco landmark has been beloved for its intimate ambience, impeccable service, and awesome facilities since its opening in 2005. No detail is overlooked in the 75 guestrooms and 45 suites, stacked with amenities: espresso machines, in-room bars, Bose surround-sound DVD/CD systems, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, luxurious bath products, and flat screen LCD and plasma TVs. Enjoy a deep therapeutic massage at the luxurious spa overlooking the sand and sea, and then savor the excellent cuisine at the Crustacean restaurant. And The Setai is located in the middle of it all on Collins Avenue, close to the hottest dining, shopping and nightlife in South Beach.
July 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In an incomparable setting on Baja's turquoise Sea of Cortes, Esperanza is a chic and alluring paradise created by Auberge Resorts. The sandstone villas are impossibly romantic: carved into the bluffs overlooking the sea, where the humpback whales migrate just offshore. The infinity pool seems to spill into the private cove beneath, with stunning views of the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. At the terraced Restaurant, enjoy a star-studded menu of local fish, like almond seared rare yellowfin tuna with warm avocado pie or grilled dorado steak with ricotta crepes and dark pasilla-huitlacoche mole. Or toss back a Piña Dorada at El Bar, watching the sun dip below the Pacific's horizon. The resort's 56 guest rooms and suites have oversized tubs, large outdoor terraces and handcrafted furniture. Unique spa treatments--like grated coconut and lime body exfoliation-- feature natural, indigenous ingredients. After a yoga or pilates class, relax in the warm soaking pool or the indoor steam cave. Other recreational activities include diving, sailing and kayaking trips.
Until September 30, guests can save up to 35 percent off with a special summer package at Esperanza: a five-night (midweek) getaway starting at $2,217 per couple. The "Baja Bliss" package includes five accommodations in an ocean-view terrace casita, two 60-minute Tropical Essence Spa treatments, complimentary yoga classes, nonalcoholic refreshments in a mini bar, complimentary DVD and CD library, and complimentary use of beach cabanas. Inclusive of taxes and service charges. The Baja Bliss package is also available for a five-night weekend package, starting from $2,697.
The Hotel Negresco is a legend, its pink dome a symbol of the French Riviera, its name evoking the essence of "art de vivre." For over a century, the national historic monument has dominated the Promenade des Anglais, overlooking the Bay of Angels and the scenic Mediterranean. Situated on the seafront promenade on the beach, the hotel is like a living museum, filled with antiques, oil paintings, and contemporary art. Each of the 121 guestrooms and 24 suites are individually decorated in styles spanning the historic spectrum from Louis XIII to Art Deco. The Michelin award-winning restaurant The Chantecler is celebrated as one of the best in Nice. From now until September 20, 2006, take advantage of the Prestige Package which includes daily breakfast, a welcome gift upon arrival, and complimentary access to the property's secluded private beach, "Le Neptune." From $445.
The World Cup may be over, but the celebrations continue at Banyan Tree Phuket, where guests can take advantage of the Halftime escapade until the end of July. The promotion started at the World Cup kick-off—with half price on rooms and spa treatments (for the first five bookings of each day)-- but is available until July 31, 2006.
Stay in a luxurious villa, recuperate from the excitement of the previous night's game with a rejuvenating spa treatment, and start the next day of Halftime pampering with breakfast - all at half the price. Even if your favorite team doesn't win the World Cup, you may still be a winner. In the first week of August, Banyan Tree Phuket will conduct the Halftime Draw and treat one lucky couple to a complimentary 3-night stay in a Tibetan Suite at Banyan Tree Ringha in Shangri-La (Diqing), the highlight of China's stunning Yunnan province.
The Halftime Promotion includes: 50 percent discount on villa rates (no minimum length of stay is required), 50 percent discount on one a-la-carte massage session at Banyan Tree Spa per person per stay, 50 percent discount on daily American buffet breakfast (inclusive of champagne). Rates start at $275 for a Deluxe Villa. This package is only applicable for the first 5 bookings per day.
The city's only boutique hotel on the beach, The Water Club was named "one of the coolest hotels in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler. The rooftop bar, Wet, offers cocktails and sushi under the stars, while the rooftop sundeck, pool and Jacuzzi likewise boast breathtaking ocean views. The enormous suites feature large telescopes to appreciate the panoramic vistas. This is a San Juan hot spot, with its bar, Liquid, a happening and loud party mecca, so non-party peeps should steer clear.
Right now The Water Club is offering an unbelievable Summer Package, starting at just $89 per person.The Sizzling Summer Package includes welcome Melon Lips Martini for two, complimentary breakfast for two at Tangerine, one night of VIP list privileges at a local night club, and a complimentary gift upon arrival.
Chicago Tribune, Old San Juan
July 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Jack Nicklaus raved about the award-winning course: "If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach. I've loved this course from the first time I saw it. It's possibly the best in the world." Ranked the number 1 golf resort by Golf Digest Magazine, Pebble Beach offers four unique courses of breathtaking beauty, including the Scottish links-style Links at Spanish Bay. Perched dramatically on the Pacific coastline, nestled within groves of tall Monterey pines, The Inn at Spanish Bay offers more than just world-class golf. The 269 luxurious rooms and suites feature a private patio or balcony view over the Monterey Peninsula, along with a cozy fireplace. Outstanding facilities include The Spanish Bay Club, Oceanside Beach and Tennis Club, outdoor pools and Jacuzzi, and full-service spa and salon.