LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
August 6, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
First stop: Costa Rica. Steve Case is launching a new luxury resort company, Revolution Places, with an eye on environmental and cultural preservation. Only natural for a guy who grew up in Hawaii and feels passionately about not paving over paradise. The first environmentally-friendly project is an $800 million, 650-acre development in Cacique, Costa Rica, on the northwest Pacific coast. What's in store? A 120-villa One&Only resort by Sol Kerzner, who developed Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas; a 180-unit Miraval: Life in Balance-branded destination spa resort; a Tom Doak-designed golf course; and a tennis and fitness center designed by Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf. Expected to open in 2010, the resort will be designed to reduce water and energy waste, with renewable energy sources and on-site treatment facilities to reuse waste water.
Heat and humidity? Bring it on! Escape to the Caribbean where cool breezes soothe and crystal clear waters calm. And with a deal like this, how could you possibly resist? From now until August 31, 2007, Cap Juluca is offering an Easy Breezy Summer offer where guests are spoiled with a fifth night free, when paying for four nights. Also included: daily breakfast, one dinner for two at the resort's Pimms restaurant, use of water sports equipment, tennis courts and the health club, nightly movies, and roundtrip transfers from the island's airport or ferry terminal. Located on the island of Anguilla just minutes from St. Maarten, this place is simply delicious. The sugary white sand beaches, dotted with swaying palms, conjure images of the picture-perfect tropical paradise. But Cap Juluca's got a lot more than pristine beaches. At this award-winning resort, there's a fitness center, bicycles and private golf carts, aqua golf driving range, putting green, croquet lawn, swimming pool, tennis courts, and endless water sports.
When new rules were established requiring U.S. citizens to carry passports for all Caribbean destinations (then relaxed again, after the worst passport waiting lines in history), savvy travelers avoided all the passport mayhem and booked vacas in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were the only two paradisiacal Caribbean destinations not affected. Old San Juan has been luring and exciting visitors with a renaissance of sorts; one of the oldest cities in the Americas has gotten a dose of South Beach glamour. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior have opened stores along the waterfront in the Condado neighborhood. With the opening of myriad trendy restaurants and clubs, there's a cool vibe in the air. Liquid, on the top floor of the Water Club hotel, is one of the hottest spots in town. Indeed, the Water Club, named one of the coolest hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, embodies South Beach chic. San Juan's only luxury boutique on the beach, the hotel boasts floor to ceiling windows with endless ocean views. Theatrical lighting brings the outdoors indoors; elevators have waterfalls (behind glass); corridor sounds are gentle surf. Doors are made of murano glass, and there are photographs of pebbles instead of corridor carpeting. For such a fabulous hotel, the rates are surprisingly modest. With the "Turn the Page" package at the Water Club, guests are spoiled with library benefits, book selection, free iPod using during their stay, and late check-out-- all for $149 per night. Valid through September 30, 2007.
August 2, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Describing a trip to the Galapagos as "stunning" or "mind blowing" is a serious understatement. It's more like the trip of a lifetime. Witness the most fascinating wildlife on earth-- giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, schools of colorful fish-- a living study of evolutionary science since Charles Darwin's first fateful trip through these waters. This September, plan a voyage to the only luxury hotel in Galapagos National Park, Royal Palm Galapagos, nestled in the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Situated on 500 acres of unspoiled natural wilderness, with incredible views of the neighboring islands, this exclusive hotel was constructed of authentic local materials, in harmony with the natural environment. "You are as close to nature as luxury will allow." Enjoy a special promotional rate of 50 percent off the room rate this September 2007, which also includes breakfast, roundtrip transportation from and to Baltra Airport, and the use of the exclusive VIP lounge. Prices are a steal, starting from $173 per couple, per night.
This August, surrender yourself to indulgence at one of America's most luxurious beachfront experiences, The Breakers in Palm Beach, and enjoy the exclusive amenities and services unveiled with the $15 million beachfront redevelopment. Now through September 30, 2007, enjoy guaranteed savings on regular room rates, plus complimentary fitness classes and tennis court fees, and value-added amenities, like reduced summer pricing on the magnificent new Beach Bungalows, the finest resort cabana experience in the U.S., 15 percent off dining in all resort restaurants, including the Breaker's famous Sunday brunch, 15 percent off Coconut Crew summer camp for kids, and specially priced treatments at the Spa. The Stay Longer and Save Promotion at The Breakers is priced from $229 per night (on stays 5 nights or longer), $259 per night (3-4 night stays), and $289 per night (1-2 night stays).
Escape to the Caribbean this October for some sun and artistic inspiration, where art workshops with renowned artist Michelle Torrez will be held at Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort. You couldn't ask for a finer destination, as St. John's beauty has been luring artists for decades. Set on 170 pristine acres in Virgin Islands National Park, Caneel Bay has been a sought-after getaway for loyal clientele since its founding 50 years ago by Laurance Rockefeller. And with its perfect beaches and lavish facilities (spa, tennis, four distinct restaurants), it's easy to see why. The art workshops with Torrez are the latest of several recent travel packages featuring notable personalities at Caneel Bay, like last January's Hot Type: Visiting Author Series with New Yorker essayist Adam Gopnik, and May's wine tasting with Margaret Duckhorn, Co-founder of Duckhorn Wine Company in Napa Valley.
The three-day art workshops will take place at the Turtle Bay Estate House, an 18th century plantation house perched on a cliff high above the sea. Michelle Torrez is a talented painter whose highly collectable works have been featured in numerous publications; she has gained quite a following both in the U.S. and worldwide. At Caneel Bay, Torrez will focus on the human form, making extensive use of a female model over three days of instruction while inspiring students to take a fresh approach to expressing themselves. Torrez will work closely, personally and rigorously with serious artists and earnest aspirants. The four-night/three-day getaways are available at Caneel Bay October 15- 19 or 20- 24, 2007, and include accommodations in an Ocean View Room, a welcome reception, working breakfast, lunch and breaks daily, all the art materials sufficient for the workshop, as well as three full days of personal instruction from Michelle Torrez in the intimate setting of the Turtle Bay Estate House. Priced at $2,800 per person including all taxes.
Get a $200 resort activity credit and complimentary breakfast for two when you book three nights or more at The Sanctuary, the beautiful seaside mansion within Kiawah Resort. Awarded five diamonds by AAA, the exquisite luxury hotel is located just thirty minutes from downtown Charleston, and embodies all of the grandeur and warm hospitality of the American South. Kids adore the range of activities on offer at Kiawah (unspoiled beaches, tennis, bike riding), while their parents enjoy luxurious spa indulgence and championship golf outings. The Family Fun Offer also applies to villa stays; book two or more nights in a villa and receive 20 percent off the nightly rate. Offer available from August 12- September 30, 2007.
There's been a lot of buzz about the opening of San Diego's hottest new hotel, the "posh adult playground" that is the Ivy Hotel. It's not just the rooms that are extravagant, the hotel has transformed San Diego's nightlife scene with Club Envy and the sultry rooftop lounge, Eden Bar. Guests at Ivy receive exclusive VIP passes to Envy:
a multilevel club with a gravitational pull that's hard to resist. Envy will swallow you up in its hidden corners, where beds become tables and tables become dance floors. Anticipate, expose, and play out fantasies.
...While Eden (pictured) is the largest rooftop space in San Diego, complete with pool and sundeck, where visitors soak up breathtaking views and myriad tropical cocktails. Head to The Quarter Kitchen, the hotel's acclaimed fine dining restaurant, for sensual and unique combos of simple food (caviar tacos, lobster pot pie...), cooked to perfection. Celebrity chef Damon Gordon has been an executive chef at some of the world's most exclusive hotels, including The Royalton Hotel in New York, The Delano in Miami, and St. Martins Lane Hotel in London.
July 27, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
And we thought we were excited when Bacara first opened in Santa Barbara. For the ultimate luxury digs in So Cal, head to the newly renovated Malibu Beach Inn, situated on "Billionaire's Beach," where some of America's richest make their homes on Malibu's oceanfront bluffs. The multi-million dollar makeover means facilities that are downright decadent; the 47 elegantly appointed guest rooms boast breathtaking ocean views from private balconies, natural tile showers, contemporary furnishings made from exotic wenge wood, Dean and Deluca Refreshment Centers and Private Bars, and state-of-the-art technology. An added touch: the in-room wine rack with eight hand-selected Cali wines. The hotel's landscaping, architecture, and interior design reflect the natural beauty of Malibu's coastline, and a unique collection of artwork graces the hotel's walls. Come Fall 2007 (the official re-opening date), well-heeled guests can expect unsurpassed luxury at the area's only destination hotel.
P.S. The signature beach club promises to make a splash.
July 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
A little piece of Paris with a South African setting that is second to none, Hôtel Le Vendôme is a boutique hotel brimming with Old World charm. Located in the cosmopolitan suburb of Sea Point overlooking the Atlantic coast, just a quick drive from the center of Cape Town, Le Vendôme offers the ideal base to explore the acclaimed winelands and Cape Peninsula. Pass through the rooms of the hotel, and step through symbols of Parisian opulence: the Salon Le Concorde, Rive Gauche (the gastronomique restaurant where plates are complemented with superb international and local wines), Le Cygne (for a lighter meal by the pool), Le Louvre (a magnificent suite on the executive floor), Le Petit Palais (the hotel's best suite)... Each of the 143 rooms are sumptuous and chic, individually designed with French panache. Relax by the sparkling pool, or treat yourself royally in Le Salon Chantilly, the perfect milieu for High Tea, an aperitif, or a cognac and cigar.