March 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
On its sun-soaked perch overlooking Miami, Coral Gables-- aka City Beautiful as it was dubbed when it was founded in 1925-- is a lot more than its 6.5 million square feet of office space, high-end boutiques and University of Miami campus. This is also the Latin American business headquarters of oodles of multinational companies (try 175 of them). It's a lush and beautiful spot, with a Mediterranean style aura. Starwood just announced plans to convert the 157-room Colonnade Hotel-- long known as the scene for important social and business events-- into a new Westin. What can guests expect at the new Colonnade, slated to open in late 2006? Why-- Westin's signature Heavenly Bed, of course, along with luxurious services, products and amenities that are all in line with Westin's new brand message of "renewal." Hence, the high thread-count sheets, down duvet and down pillows, plush bathrobes, and the newest Heavenly Bath: "a custom-designed dual showerhead that offers a choice of spray options from light mist to massaging needles." But smokers, beware. As of February 2006, Westin's paved the way for smoke-free hotels across North America.
Will the Dubai building boom go bust? As hyped in the press, W Hotels has recently announced its plans to bring its signature, stylish brand to the Middle East. W will open its 350-room luxury hotel in 2008 as part of the Festival City Project: a massive "City within a City" with "Riviera-style scenery and lush green landscapes… and iconic towers and luxury hotels." And it's touted as "the Middle East's largest, privately funded mixed-use real estate development." The W seems its centerpiece, to be designed by a renowned architect and packed full of the W brand signatures like loft suites, open "Living Room," and Bliss spa. Can the booming hotel and resort landscape of Dubai become as packed as the Vegas Strip? Related Articles: The Lobby, "W Comes to Dubai" Luxist, "W Hotels Heads to Dubai" CNN Money, "W Hotels Arrives on Shores of Dubai, the Global Brand's First Location in the Middle East" TravelPost Insider, "W Hotels Plan 2008 Dubai Opening"
The first new hotel to open in Monaco in 75 years, the $260 million Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel has reinvented Monte Carlo, bringing back the chic and legendary glamour of the Roaring Twenties on the Riviera. Set on the edge of the sea, with sweeping azure views, the hotel is elegantly situated within four hectares of Mediterranean gardens and lagoons. Just minutes from Nice. Lounge by the glass-domed indoor swimming pool, or relax in the adjoining spa, a contemporary and luxurious paradise complete with 12 treatment rooms, fitness center and Turkish baths. In the evening, watch the sunset from the sea-view bar, and then indulge in the gastronomic pleasures of four stellar restaurants, including one directed by celebrity chef Alain Ducasse. And the nightlife—as expected—is exceptional.
Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel, Official Site
Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel, Five Star Alliance
South Florida's national historical landmark is renowned for its luxurious, Old-World European accommodations, and impressive resort amenities. Located in Coral Gables, the destination hotel features the 18-hole, Donald Ross-designed championship golf course, 10-lighted tennis courts, fitness center, fine restaurants and bars, private wine cellar club, and an enormous pool (the largest in the continental US!) with private cabanas. Reasons to go now? Besides the new and deliciously-luxurious Biltmore Spa--12,000 sq. ft. with spectacular views, wet rooms with hydrotherapy tubs and Vichy showers, connecting specialty suites for couples, exceptional men's and women's locker facilities with steam and sauna rooms, a signature line of Solarte of Provence amenities, and state-of-the-art treatments -- The Biltmore is currently offering a promotion for a free night! Make a booking for four nights, and pay for only three.
The Biltmore, Official Site
The Biltmore, Five Star Alliance
Amidst the rowdy hordes of spring-break revelers, tacky t-shirt stands and shops spilling flamingo kitsch, wary sun-seekers may despair: where is the colorful, whimsical Key West of old?! But step away from the mobs on Duvall Street, the wet t-shirt contests and "clothing optional" bars and tacky sunset scene of Mallory Square-- where the shadow of an enormous Carnival Cruise ship looms-- and the palm-lined alleys and side-streets reveal the other side to Key West's Old Town: white clapboard Victorian houses framed by fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms, Gypsy roosters clucking and crowing alongside the city's famous fat lounging cats, art galleries and Cuban coffee shops, friendly and eccentric locals.
The best dining in Key West-- hands down-- is Cafe Sole, located off the beaten path on Southard and Francis Streets. Chef John Correa learned his magic in Provence and Bordeaux, and superb dishes-- like Hog Snapper smother in a red pepper hollandaise sauce-- reflect his culinary training. For the island's best brunch, head to Blue Heaven in Bahama Village, where you can devour blueberry pancakes and lobster benedict in a flowering, friendly backyard-- full of whimsy and good cheer.
Shopping? Don't despair on Duvall. A few steps away on Petronia Street, Besame Mucho is one of the world's most pleasant boutiques. The fragrant interior is full of fine jewelry, exquisite Provencal soaps, Kiehl's products, luscious gourmet candies and beautiful Moroccan shoes. Indeed, as the slogan goes: "shop here once and life will be a joy forever.”
Hot off the press! A fabulous limited offer brought to you by Leading Hotels of the World. With this four night vacation package at the exquisite Cuisinart Resort and Spa, book three nights and get a fourth night for free! Accommodations include a beachfront junior suite with daily continental breakfast. Available from March 26- March 30, April 23- April 27. With some of the Caribbean's most beautiful white sand beaches, gorgeous infinity pool, world-class spa, and white-washed Mediterranean style villas surrounded by tropical gardens, it's no wonder that the Cuisinart is such a sought-after Caribbean destination.
Cuisinart Resort and Spa, Official Site
Cuisinart Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance
Take a jaunt to Puerto Rico for a few days of girls' pampering and beachfront luxury. Who can resist an offer like this? Especially with Jet Blue's easy and affordable flights to San Juan. The Water Club is San Juan's only luxury boutique hotel on the beach, oozing Latin sophistication and chic elegance. Home to San Juan's hottest bar, Liquid, and the exotic open-air rooftop lounge, Wet, boasting the island's best sushi bar. The two-night package includes luxury accommodations in an ocean front room, dinner for two (champagne and sushi, of course!) at Wet and VIP list privileges at a local night club, in-room manicures and pedicures, massages at Wet, and a private dinner for two on your second night (Chef Nelson Rosado will cook tableside and then you'll receive 2 rum guns to get things going.) $999, based on double occupancy. Package valid for travel Sunday-Thursday only March 1-April 16, and 7 days a week April 17- September 30, 2006; blackout dates may apply; reserve by March 31, 2006.
The Water Club, Official Site
The Water Club, Five Star Alliance
March 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Arguably the world's best spa resort, the Banyan Tree Phuket is an exotic spa paradise facing Thailand's turquoise Andaman Sea. These exquisite tropical surroundings have recently become the sought-after setting for Banyan Tree's Destination Spa program: a series of fitness, wellness and cultural activities available in three, five and seven-night packages. The program includes accommodation for two in award-winning villas at Banyan Tree Phuket, daily breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, two 90-minute massage sessions, an Intimate Moments experience, complimentary participation in daily fitness and wellness program and a special gift from Banyan Tree Gallery. In addition, guests are provided their own personal resort host to assist and recommend the best spa treatments. Rates begin at US$1,980 for a three-night package in a Deluxe Villa.
Banyan Tree Phuket, Official Site
Banyan Tree Phuket, Five Star Alliance
March 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Did they neglect to read National Geographic's damning assessment of the Costa del Sol? In Traveler's yearly Destination Scorecord-- ranking the integrity of places by creating an index of Destination Stewardship-- Spain's coast has gone to the dogs. The pressures of development, pollution, globalization, and mass tourism have held sway:
...[in] Spain's Costa del Sol—the overbuilt "Costa del Concrete," which caters to package tours from northern Europe... you can hear more English or German than Spanish. As with many uncontrolled seashores, a nonstop line of characterless hotels blocks off the coastline.The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has assumed management of one of these hotels: the 112-room luxurious Villa Padierna. Though the place has got a golf course, spa, Beach Club, and rooms full of antiques, I'm still skeptical. Good luck, Ritz-Carlton. Let's see if they can turn the tide and bring back the glamor.
March 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
I know, I know, I'm a sucker for the white beds in the bar at the Delano. The fact is—I'm a sucker for everything Delano. The chic white bedrooms, the private beach, the magnificent pool, the elegant Indoor/Outdoor Lobby. This is the very best kind of luxurious urban resort, smack dab in the middle of South Beach. With fabulous dining (and did I mention the bars?), this is the place to see and be seen. Paradise could be the cool poolside bungalows, with custom Starck-designed furnishings, luxurious marble bathrooms, and billowing white curtains.
The Delano, Official Site
The Delano, Five Star Alliance