February 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Decadent, daring, delicious. This is one of the country's premier culinary extravaganzas, with a star-studded lineup of celebrity chefs and renowned wine and spirits producers ready to entertain and delight over the three-day-weekend. Hosted by Food and Wine magazine, the South Beach Food and Wine Festival will boast 75 restaurants and 150 wineries under tasting tents overlooking the beach. Starring chefs include Wolfgang Puck and Nobu Matsuhisa. Feb 24-26 (though Veuve Clicquot's Bubble Bath, at the Hotel Victor, is on the 23rd). Buy your tix online.
It's music to our ears. A 230-acre private island, Ritz-Carlton's deluxe spot in the Bahamas, is scheduled to open in 2009. Just four miles off Nassau and Paradise Island, Rose Island will be accessible by boat or helicopter. Guest rooms are planned to average 550 square feet with large balconies overlooking the beach.
The Le Meridien Pattaya Resort will be part of one of Pattaya's foremost upscale beachfront resort developments, which comprises unbranded condominiums and the resort. The development is strategically located in a prime position, only 150 km or 1.5 hours' drive from Bangkok and less than an hour's drive from Bangkok's new International Airport when it officially opens in 2006.Pattaya's foremost upscale development? Perhaps because you'd be hard-pressed to find anything upscale about the place. Has anyone at Le Meridien actually checked out this truly world-class beach? The only prime position about Pattaya is its leading spot as the world's number one destination for prostitution and reckless hedonism. Rock on, dudes. (To each their own.)
February 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Just in time for Valentine's Day, indulge yourself in a perfectly pink paradise of fun. St. Pete's Loews Hotel—the palatial pink icon otherwise known as "Florida's Pink Palace"-- is offering a Pink Panther themed vacation package. So even if the movie sucked (Steve Martin and Beyonce just couldn't redeem it), your whole family will be tickled pink by this clever and fun package that includes pink milkshakes and Pink Panther Gift Bags. Starting at $1,174, the package includes three nights accommodations for four, two pink milkshakes for the kiddies, "Who Stole the Pink?" Treasure Hunt, Two Pink Panther Gift Bags, and one full-day admission to Camp CeSar for two kids. Available from Feb 10- April 22. Rates are slightly higher during the weekends.
The Don CeSar Beach Resort, Official Site
The Don CeSar Beach Resort, Five Star Alliance
February 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Discover the world's top eco-tourism destination with some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Costa Rica's Guanacaste Peninsula is jam-packed with breathtaking national parks and stunning beaches. (Erupting volcanoes, tropical cloud forest filled with chatty monkeys, orchid-blooming rainforest canopies…) Located in the midst of this lush landscape, on its own pristine paradise of 2,400 acres, the Paradisus Playa Conchal offers a luxurious, family-friendly environment from which to explore all that Costa Rica has to offer. Enjoy Central America's largest free form pool (the spectacular freshwater pool is set in a 1,800 square meter garden and has two jacuzzis), the endless choice of water sports (running the gamut from windsurfing to scuba), play a round of golf on the 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, or indulge in the spa. The kids will be happy at their own paradise (aka Kids Club)—comprised of playgrounds, climbing wall, mini disco, table games, movies, and eco-recreational team.
The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Official Site
The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Five Star Alliance
The beautifully restored 15th century mansion makes its debut this month, the second luxury hotel on the island of Mallorca for the Stein Group. Close to Palma de Mallorca and the Mediterranean Sea, in a prime location overlooking the surrounding countryside, the Gran Hotel Son Julia offers 25 guestrooms, equipped with state-of-the-art features (marble bathrooms and giant plasma TVs) while still preserving many of the original historical details. Also on the premises: spa and wellness area, gym, indoor and outdoor pools and a choice of restaurants. Take advantage of the special opening rate of EUR 75 per person during the entire month of February, when the island is covered in flowering almond blossoms.
The coach of the country's Number One tennis player is now heading up the program at the Ritz Carlton Dubai. Zeeshan Ali has oodles of awards and titles under his belt—experience that he's now bringing to all tennis enthusiasts at the hotel in both private instruction and group lessons. Not really into tennis? The Ritz Carlton Dubai has got it all—from fitness classes, squash, golf, shopping, stunning pools, beach, and idyllic Balinese Spa. Situated on prime beachfront along the snazzy, exclusive Jumeirah Beach area of Dubai, the Ritz Carlton basks in the year-round sunshine of Dubai's perfect climate. Luxurious rooms have private balconies overlooking the tropical gardens and the Arabian Gulf. Plus, the Kids Club has loads of fun daily activities to keep the 'liluns happy and smiling.
The Ritz Carlton Dubai, Official Site
The Ritz Carlton Dubai, Five Star Alliance
February 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces spent a mere $27.1 million for one of the hottest hotels in Sydney. On its first venture in Australia, Taj dubbed the boutique property BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay, an apt name for the luxurious marina surroundings on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Indeed, this is a perfect location: a hop from the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the central business and shopping districts. Distinguished among the top hotels in Sydney-- on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List it was among the "Top 3 Best Hotels for Location in Australia/South Pacific"— BLUE also has an acclaimed restaurant and bar. (The Water Bar was named one of the "Top 5 Bars in the World" by Wallpaper mag in 2004 and one of the "Top 10 Bars in the World" in 2003 by CNT.) The 100 lavish guest rooms—including 36 stunning Loft Rooms-- retain authentic characteristics from the renovated historic wharf structure, but emanate urban chic and are equipped with all the latest technology. Not to mention sensational views of Sydney Harbor.
No joke. Private white sand beach and gorgeous tropical lagoons, luxurious rooms with ocean-view balconies, the Angsana Spa (need I say more?) and that famous Thai hospitality. All for $90 a night at the newly-renovated, newly-opened Dusit Laguna. It's back, and better than ever. Looking for a more active holiday? You name the sport. What don't they offer. Tennis, mountain biking, waterpolo, windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, basketball, volleyball, sailing, kayaking, pitch and putt golf, and-- for the Frenchies-- Jeu de Boules. Rates are absolutely unbeatable (have I mentioned that they start at $90 a night?)-- including both breakfast and dinner. Book travel before June 30th, 2006.
Dusit Laguna Resort, Official Site
Dusit Laguna Resort, Five Star Alliance
TripAdvisor reviews are pretty shameful, resounding with sentiments of disappointment about the overpriced little rooms and office park location. Has the hotel slipped since it lost its Four Seasons identity? Or have the negatives always plagued this place? Though certain trademarks—awesome eats, exquisite balcony views (over the Fashion Island shopping mall, the Pacific shimmers in the distance), superior service and a damn good spa—have stuck around, despite the management change. Besides, where else is there to stay in the OC?