June 25, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.
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.
Why not make the Ritz-Carlton your permanent address? Ritz-Carlton has announced plans for the new Club and Residences, South Beach; its three oceanfront towers will be located at the former site of Miami's famed Seville Hotel on Collins Avenue. Just 89 members will have the opportunity to live at this prestigious address, and reservations are now being accepted. Inspired by the glamour of mid-century South Beach, the new building is getting an historic makeover. Of course the interiors will be equipped with all the latest in luxury amenities and technology. The Helium Report has the skinny:
The Ritz-Carlton Club provides a new option for consumers seeking maintenance-free home ownership, complemented by the amenities of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Consisting of one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans, each club residence entitles members to a one-twelfth, deeded interest priced from the $100,000s to just over $500,000. Members can take advantage of the Ritz-Carlton services with twice-daily housekeeping, personal storage, grocery shopping, private chef services, in-residence gourmet dining and a concierge team that offers pre-arrival provisioning of the Club residences.
Beneath the shadow of mythical Mount Athos in northern Greece, next to the deep blue sea, Eagles Palace commands a premier seaside position near the ancient town of Ouranpolis. Set in lush gardens, the five-star hotel offers luxurious rooms, suites, or self-contained bungalows with private pools. Terraces look out over the secluded private beach of golden sand and the clear water of the Sigiticos Gulf. Facilities include the indulgent spa, three dining options, swimming pools, tennis court, water sports and the diving center. The hotel has distinguished itself with its outstanding projects for sustainable development and responsible tourism and was awarded the 2007 Caring Award from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Well-integrated into the local community, the hotel has sponsored myriad projects: guests can dine in local homes, fishing trips are organized with the region's fisherman, beach clean-up days and environmental projects inform both guests and the local community about important issues.
June 14, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Get inspired with a trip to Paul Gauguin's favorite tropical islands, where the extraordinary light and colors continue to influence the canvases of visiting artists. Le Meridien Tahiti, a paradise of over-water bungalows and a perfect white sand beach, has opened a new onsite artists space called L'Atelier to feature works from contemporary artists from the Islands and around the world. Here, creative guests are invited to share an interactive experience with the exhibitions and the artists themselves. Situated near the resort's lagoon, L'Atelier hosts lectures, art workshops with artists in residence, and cocktail openings. Le Meridien Tahiti invites you to become a "creative guest" at L'Atelier, learning (or honing) artistic techniques and creating your own works. The Reveal Your Artistic Talent Package, available until December 15, 2007, includes buffet breakfast for two, room upgrade based on availability, two hour painting course per day for four days (two guests), and shuttle for two to Papeete to visit galleries. The fifth night is free, with a minimum four night stay in a Garden View room, and rates start at 31,080 XPF per night.