December 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Set off on a camel safari across the sand dunes, cruise the turquoise Gulf, or hit the slopes at the challenging indoor ski resort. In glitzy, glamorous Dubai-- setting of the only seven-star hotel in the world-- everything goes. And now, the New York Times has pinpointed the new Raffles as one of the hottest hotels of the year:
In Dubai, where hotels bearing names like Versace, Armani and Trump are all in the works, a pyramid-shaped Raffles is opening this summer with 248 pharaoh-chic rooms and a two-and-a-half-acre rooftop greenhouse.
Located in the heart of the city on Sheikh Zayed Road, the premier business and shopping district of Dubai, Raffles Dubai is a stunning landmark: an 18-storey pyramid rising like a mirage from the desert. The 248 guest rooms are plush and opulent; the Royal Suite is positively palatial, 480 square meters including a private balcony. There will be nine dining and drinking outlets, including the lively China Moon bar, and the heavenly RafflesAmrita Spa. The best part of all is perhaps the unique, one-hectare 'Sparkling Botanical Sky-Garden', depicting the four 'Elements of Life' (fire, wind, earth and water), in an oasis of exotic flora and orchids spread around the swimming pool. Coming Summer 2007.
December 12, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Looking for a last minute getaway trip for the holidays? At this point, just about all of the hotels and resorts in the Caribbean are sold out for the holidays. Any luxury hotels or resorts that do still have availablity, such as the Jamaica Inn, require longer minumum stays (Jamaica Inn has a 10 night min.) There are a few luxury hotels and resorts in Mexico City and South America where you can still find availability.
But don't worry - luxury villas are still available for a last minute holiday getaway in the Caribbean. Luxury caribbean villas are the perfect solution for a last minute luxury getaway with the whole family or with friends.
Grand Cayman: 4 Bedroom beach villa with private boat dock and cabana
Virgin Gorda, BVI: New 3 Bedroom villa with tennis, just steps from the beach
Tortola, BVI: 1 Bedroom beachfront villa on private island off Tortola
Mustique: 9 Bedroom Japanese style villa with pitch & putt
Provo, Turks & Caicos: 5 Bedroom Palace Resort with boat
See all of our Luxury Villas in the Carribean for Christmas and New Years
Not planning on traveling to the Caribbean? Check out what last minute packages are still available in other parts of the world:
Luxury Hotels & Resorts in Miami, FL
The 12 Best Ski Resorts Worldwide
Los Angeles Area Luxury Hotels
Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in Paris
December 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The cat's out of the bag about the white sand beaches and immense coral reef of the Turks and Caicos islands. As described by Outside Traveler:
Word of mouth helped establish TCI as a jet-set retreat. It started in 1998, when renowned hotelier Christina Ong built a private island resort on Parrot Cay... Now, with new nonstops from Boston and Fort Lauderdale, as well as flights from other hubs, TCI is no secret... and last February a new Carnival cruise-ship terminal opened on the southern end of Grand Turk.
But on the more isolated stretches of the archipelago, elite luxury hotels have staked their claim, dedicated to ecotourism, energy conservation, and preservation of the pristine natural environment. The stunning Amanyara resort opened in March 2006, nestled on the tip of a 5,000 acre nature reserve on the secluded western shore of Providenciales. Coming in 2008: the $300 million Ritz-Carlton Molasses Reef, a unique eco-conscious residential community and boutique resort situated on the unspoiled, uninhabited island of West Caicos. And in 2009, eco-friendly Fairmont Hotels is slated to open a 150-room luxury hotel on North Caicos.
December 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
According to the International Herald Tribune, the isolated Midway Atoll-- located in the North Pacific Ocean one third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo-- could be opened to visitors next year. An important naval base during WWII, the Midway Atoll is impossibly remote: just three small volcanic islands surrounded by coral reef and the vast turquoise Pacific. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is drafting a plan to bring tourists to this paradise as early as mid-2007 (probably 30 visitors at a time). As a National Wildlife Refuge, the islands provide habitat for thousands of seabirds. TravelWeekly points out that Princess Cruises will be sailing the 1,590-passenger Regal Princess to Midway in June 2007, for the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Midway (June 4).
The Caribbean resort of La Samanna is impossibly chic, a haven for discriminating international travelers seeking seclusion, relaxation, and attentive personalized service. Overlooking Baie Longue, a crescent-shaped, pristine white sand beach, La Samanna is St. Martin's most luxurious resort. The owners' inspiration came from the Greek Isles; the hotel's Caribbean architect designed the house based on sunny white-washed walls reminiscent of the Mediterranean. The resort is legendary for its Elyseé spa featuring indoor/outdoor tropical garden treatment rooms, Pilates studio, extensive wine cellar, and stellar cuisine (with provisions flown from France daily). Part of the famed Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruises collection, the resort boasts 81 suites located on 55 acres of prime beachfront property. La Samanna has long been recognized as one of the finest hotels in the world. Now you can Shop to the Last Drop with Les Dames de Leisure package, designed as a girls getaway to enjoy paradise within paradise: the exclusive shopping of Marigot that was once the playground of Jackie O. Les Dames de Leisure package includes duty-free shopping in Marigot with a chauffeured car, two head-to-toe treatments at the Elyseé Spa, and a two-bedroom suite which includes spacious living room, two large bedrooms with king beds, terrace, and fully equipped kitchen. The day-long shopping spree includes special discounts in some of the most exclusive stores, and the services of the resort's personal shopping expert. Upon check-out, guests will receive VIP treatment as the concierge arranges to have guests escorted to the private airport lounge, far from the crowds. Priced at $2,450, per night for four people, minimum stay of four nights.
The ultra-luxury beach resort of Montage is located on a coastal bluff in the arts community of Laguna Beach, Southern California. This retreat has it all, including a celebrated spa with breathtaking indoor/outdoor oceanfront facilities, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the gorgeous vistas. As featured in the Winter issue of Outside Traveler,
For more than three years now, the Montage has gone out of its way to lure men into these algae wraps and fluffy robes. They've even created a male-specific multi-day spa program appropriately titled Surrender. News to me and about 67 percent of my buddies: Apparently a third of Montage's spa customers these days are men.
The Gentlemen's Surrender Retreat is an individually customized package that begins with a pre-arrival phone consultation with your personal Surrender therapist and fitness trainer. With this full-day (or multi-day) immersion, the Retreat Menu features wine-and-cheese tastings along with the lavish body treatments, as well as cigar-and-cognac sessions, and consultations like The Art of Shaving.
We're stressed, spa directors like Raistrick tell us. We work too hard, we play too hard. We eat chili cheese fries with abandon. And, yes-- we're men. But if we can get past the robe fitting, the whale song, the rose-hip-and-cucumber water, a spa can undo a lot of off-road wear.
December 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The only AAA five diamond hotel in San Diego, The Lodge at Torrey Pines occupies a dramatic setting perched on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific, minutes from some of the most pristine beaches in Southern California and the picturesque Torrey Pines State Reserve. Just adjacent to the 18th green of the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course, the hotel features the 9,500 square foot spa (with 14 specialized treatment rooms), endless recreational activities, generously sized guest rooms with custom designed furniture, and the signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien. Views are sensational, but the food-- innovative California cuisine-- is even better. Executive Chef Jeff Jackson utilizes fresh, local ingredients to create menus that are ever-evolving depending upon the season, and what's on offer at farmer's markets. The restaurant is named for San Diego's great artist, Albert Robert Valentien, an early 20th-century Impressionist, whose works are now displayed at the restaurant (one of the largest collections of his early works in water colors and oils). Celebrate New Years Eve at A.R. Valentien and enjoy a five course meal and the Lodge's exquisite accommodations. The New Years Eve package, starting at $595 (tax and gratuity included), includes accommodations in a Signature room, pre-fixed five course dinner for two, complimentary parking for one night, and 2 pm late check-out. Includes tax and gratuity. Credit card prepayment required.
December 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The hottest new hotel in Cancun, ME by Sol Melia Hotels and Resorts, is a sophisticated and stylish spot located on a perfect stretch of powdery white sand beach. The hotel's grand opening of December 16, 2006 has been excitedly anticipated for months. What's in store? Superb modern guestrooms with state-of-the-art technology (pre-tuned iPods and private Jacuzzis) and breathtaking ocean and lagoon views. One of the largest infinity-edged pools in Mexico. The 10,700 sq. ft. spa facility featuring Life Fitness Gym, Hydrotherapy zone with sauna, steam baths, hydro-massage pool, and Relaxation Center for facials, body treatments and massages. Tempting Mediterranean, Asian, and Mexican cuisine. And the Rande Gerber lounge (destined to transform Cancun's nightlife scene). To celebrate the grand opening, get two nights free when you book your stay between December 16 and February 28! Hurry, you must make your reservation by December 15, 2006. (Three night minimum stay required. Voucher for free nights provided at check-in, redeemable for Fall 2007.)
In recent years, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula-- aka Riviera Maya-- has emerged as one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Upscale design hotels and dazzling eco-friendly resort communities such as Mayakoba are situated just south of Cancun on the stunning Caribbean coast surrounded by lush forest canopies, mangrove-lined waterways, and the azure of the Caribbean sea. Beyond the obvious tropical paradise (and the second largest coral reef in the world teeming with underwater life), there is a wealth of history to explore: the ancient cities and architectural wonders of the Mayan civilization. The Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya is the latest luxury addition, slated to open in 2007 just 30 minutes south of Cancun International Airport and 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. Situated among 36 acres of white sand beaches and tropical forests, the resort consists of 128 villas overlooking the Caribbean and the Cenote (sacred Mayan freshwater lake). Villas are spacious, private havens, accessible by winding paths and waterways; guests will be escorted to their villas by golf cart or water taxi. Designed with bamboo flooring, indigenous stone, outdoor bathtubs, rainforest showers, and natural furnishings, the villas are further enhanced with art from highly reputed Mexican artists. The Grand Villas have private pools, and the Villa Presidencial boasts private butler and chef service. Mandarin Oriental's latest hideaway also features a 25,000 square foot spa with treatments drawing from ancient Mayan and Asian traditions.
Georgia's Sea Islands Resorts-- renowned for its championship golf, incredible dining, legendary Southern hospitality, and exclusive accommodations-- offers a wonderful holiday escape this Christmas season for the whole family. Scheduled events include ballroom dancing, classical concerts, themed Christmas trees, gingerbread castles, spiced cider and hot toddy toasts, nightly elf tuck-in for the kiddies, crafts workshops, holiday bingo, and the Reindog Parade for pets with prizes awarded for the most festively costumed pet. Plus, the resort guarantees a White Christmas, with a special delivery of blown snow at the Beach Club for a seaside Snow Day. For a holiday treat, enjoy these favorite recipes from Sea Islands Pastry chefs:
Spiced Pumpkin Cheescake
1 cup Graham crumbs
5 TBSP melted butter
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1-1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 lbs cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 TSP nutmeg
1/2 TSP ginger
1/2 TSP allspice
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/4 TSP cloves
1-1/4 cups pumpkin puree
4 egg yolks (mixed well)
Press crust into pans. Fill to the top with batter. Bake in a waterbath at 250 F until done. Freeze until set hard. Release from the pans. Yield: 2 9-inch Cakes
2/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Primex
3 TBSP Molasses
1-3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
2 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 TSP Cinnamon
1 TBSP Ginger
1/2 TSP Cloves
1/2 TSP Nutmeg
1/4 TSP Salt
Cream together the Fat, Sugar and Molasses. Add the egg and mix well. Scrape the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Scoop using desired ice cream scoop. Sprinkle with grain sugar and bake. 350 F for 20 minutes.