LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
August 24, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Maldives is almost bursting at the seams with swanky hotels. From the One & Only to the W Retreat and Spa, The Maldives are the islands du jour. Now Conrad has announced an exciting rebranding of the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa Rangali, which will move under the Conrad umbrella of luxury hotels starting December 18, 2007. Renowned for its attentive service and breathtaking natural beauty, the resort is an idyllic piece of paradise, situated on two islands enclosed by a coral reef and lagoon. Spa aficionados will be thrilled by the spas-- as there are two, one on each island, with different product ranges and philosophies. Experience sophisticated barefoot luxury at this romantic retreat. Dive and snorkel the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, take Pilates and yoga classes, plan an excursion island hopping on the resort's private yacht.
August 23, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The beloved luxury hotel brand is making waves with a host of new hotel openings in the next few years, and it looks like Costa Rica--the world's premier destination for eco-tourism-- is getting a luxury addition. Mandarin Oriental, Costa Rica will open in 2009 in the Guanacaste province, known for its beautiful Pacific coastline, stunning volcanoes, excellent hiking, and bird (and monkey) watching. Situated just 25 minutes from the Liberia airport, the 130-room beach resort will be the cornerstone of a gated golf and residential development called Rancho Manzanillo. Leisure activities will include an 18-hole Fred Couples Signature Championship golf course, 20,000 square foot spa, multi-level outdoor swimming pools, water sports from the resort's natural beach, and exotic wildlife viewing from the property's 200 acres of protected tropical dry forest. The best part of all? The Tree House Suites, nestled high in the canopy of Guanacaste trees.
August 22, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The newly opened Melenos Lindos has already been listed on Travel and Leisure's 2007 "It List." Inspired by 17th century Lindos architecture, this Aegean clifftop hotel is set among picturesque gardens overlooking the sparkling bay. The historical backdrop of small winding streets and the magnificent Lindian Acropolis is just as magical as this lovely gem of a hotel. Described as "a village within a village," the 12 white stucco guest rooms are connected by terraces decorated with pebble mosaics. An abundance of artifacts from Turkey and Greece are found throughout the hotel. There are sea-view terraces from the beautifully furnished suites, an open-air restaurant serving the freshest Mediterranean cuisine, and all the latest luxury amenities.
Tis the season. For holidays on the coast of Maine, that is. Chances are rooms at the award-winning White Barn Inn have been booked solid for months. But a Fall getaway at this "achingly romantic destination" will restore the spirits and-- to quote Zagat-- "stay in your memory forever." The ideal base to explore the breathtaking Maine coastline, The White Barn Inn is built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's. The restaurant is equally as noteworthy as the cottage-style accommodations, simply brimming with accolades. The finest New England cuisine is paired with delicious wines from the impressive 7,000-bottle cellar. An experience at The Inn is distinguished by its level of service-- from the valets to the bath butlers. Luxuriate in a plush bathrobe, indulge in massage therapy by the heated swimming pool, soak in a perfect, butler-drawn bath. The White Barn Inn offers the best of Maine.
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.