The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas offers a heavenly escape surrounded by sparkling turquoise waters and lush tropical forests. From the resort's dazzling white beaches, guests windsurf, parasail, and venture out on scuba diving and snorkeling expeditions. The elegant 152-room resort is about to get even classier, with a new $35 million renovation project. The changes planned include the addition of 24 luxury suites, six spa treatment rooms and a 20,000 sq ft lounge, and overhauls of all three restaurants. The hotel will reopen again on November 1, ready to charm guests for the holiday season. But hurry! There is still some availability for the peak holiday season...
Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:
"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead. Resources: The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans. Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.
May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As CNN reports, the legal battle over designation of "Surf City USA" has officially ended, as Huntington Beach edged out rival Santa Cruz with a federal agency's decision "to grant the town exclusive trademark rights." Easy, dudes! Both spots are world-renowned for their awesome waves. But if you're craving the warmer waters, better head south to Huntington Beach. The town's got an easy-going vibe and quiet elegance, and plenty of opportunities to watch the locals ride the waves in surf competitions.
Looking for lux accommodations? Just a short hop from Huntington Beach in the sun-drenched magnificence of the OC, Newport Beach lures with its recently renovated Fairmont Hotel. It's actually in the final stages of the $30 million renovation, which involves the outdoor area, driveway, and landscaping-- all slated for completion by August 31. The rest of the place is dazzling and new, including the heated sky pool and deck which opens any day now. The Fairmont Gold Lounge and Gold Floor guest rooms-- a "hotel within a hotel" with private check-in and complimentary breakfast and evening hors' d'oeuvres-- will be completed at the beginning of June. The new 8,000 sq ft Spa will open in January.
Take advantage of Only One Way Summer Rates. Rooms are a steal starting at $199 a night.
The Fairmont Newport Beach, Five Star Alliance
Outside Magazine, Surf Guide 2006
May 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
A fast ride on a hydrofoil and you feel a million miles away from the big city. The island's landscape could almost be the flower-studded hills of a Mediterranean isle, surrounded by the deep blue of sea and sky. Welcome to Santa Catalina (here feel free to break into song: Twenty- six miles across the sea; Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me; Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance.) Even a day-trip from LA can be a rejuvenating escape. Explore the beautiful coast by mountain bike, kayak, or by foot, stroll through the village, or hit the beach and soak up the sun. This month, Islands Magazine features Santa Catalina as one of four American islands to visit this summer.
May 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's big, it's bad…Royal Caribbean's new boat eclipses them all. Freedom of the Seas is set to sail, and the media is abuzz. At 208 feet tall, weighing 160,000 tons, and with a capacity for 4,000 passengers, this baby dwarfs Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and grabs the title of world's biggest passenger ship. The mother of them all sports some pretty nifty "firsts" in the cruising world: rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with (Good God) Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing pool called "Flow Rider." And as recommended by Fodor's, the perfect family cruise experience. Look out, Caribbean.
Fodor's Travel Wire, "Royal Caribbean's Big New Boat"
A Luxury Travel Blog, "Freedom of the Seas in Hamburg"
Yahoo! News, "Freedom of the Seas Is Largest Ship Ever"
May 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.
May 9, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for Peter Island Resort, the British Virgin Islands
These days it seems all the celebs are popping out the little ones, and if you are part of the trend, then you might be interested in this awesome pampering package for mommy and daddys-to-be at Peter Island Resort -- where you can de-stress in paradise.
Peter Island Resort is the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands and developed the special program "Baby Week" for expectant parents. It includes a course given by Charlene L. Stokamer, MPH, MSN entitled "How to Relax and Have Your Baby." (We just hope she isnt advocating a 'silent birth' as 'relaxed').
The Baby Week program is offered in small intimate groups and includes:
- Five (5) two-hour sessions,
- A pre-natal massage for mommy-to-be,
- A deep tissue massage for daddy-to-be,
- Nightly themed turndowns,
- and proven relaxation practices for the couple.
Also included are three meals daily and assorted activities. Optional classes for couples are available: lactation management (!), breast-feeding and baby care. If you are like the celebs and have your c-section planned for August or later, then this could be the perfect Mother's Day gift - the program runs from July 15-20, 2006 and starts at around $3,300 for five-days of perfection.
Full details after the jump ...
Oftentimes, the joy of pregnancy can also bring with it a number of stress-inducing issues: what to name the baby, decorating the nursery, over-zealous grandparents, anxiety and mood swings, to name a few! Why not take a break from all of these worries and escape to an island paradise while learning helpful "preparing for baby' tips at the same time?
Peter Island Resort, the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands, has developed a special program for expectant parents called Prepare for Baby Week, which includes a "How to Relax and Have Your Baby," course given by Charlene L. Stokamer, MPH, MSN.
Stokamer has over 30 years of experience in the health industry and specializes in teaching tailored childbirth preparation, breastfeeding preparation and relaxation classes. She is not only a certified health education specialist, but she has also facilitated numerous health education fairs and other events to promote general health.
Wayne Kafcsak, managing director adds, "This week was developed for those couples seeking a way to relieve some of the stress leading up to having a baby by offering the opportunity for a world-class vacation that is seamlessly combined with prenatal education. Peter Island's beauty and charm will only heighten the couple's experience, better preparing them for the journey that lies ahead."
The program, which is offered as a small intimate group and includes five (5) two-hour sessions, a pre-natal massage for mommy-to-be, a deep tissue massage for daddy-to-be, nightly themed turndowns and proven relaxation practices for the couple. Also included are three meals daily as well as assorted activities. Optional classes for couples are available in lactation management, breast-feeding and baby care as well. This program runs July 15-20, 2006 and rates start at $3,306 for the five-day program.
Whether you're an expectant mother or a supportive daddy-to-be, Peter Island's Prepare for Baby Week is sure to add something extra special to your vacation in paradise.
On the southern tip of Ocean Drive in South Beach, new to the scene in the hot district South of Fifth ("SoFi"), The Bentley Beach Hotel offers sophisticated suites in a stunning architectural masterpiece engineered by the award-winning architectural design firm, Arquitectonica. This is a chill scene, yet full of the decadent touches one expects in South Beach luxury hotels. The suites are elegantly furnished with European kitchens, spacious terraces overlooking the ocean or city skyline, lavish oversized marble bathrooms, flat screen TVs, Sony CD/DVD Home Theater System, and wireless internet. Additionally, the hotel features the Caroli Health Club, swimming pool and Jacuzzi, Fitness Center with sauna and steam room, and luxury car and yacht rentals.
The Bentley Beach Hotel is the perfect spot for a fun and rejuvenating weekend for the girls, with everything your little heart desires: pampering, luxurious accommodations, designer shopping sprees, nights on the town, and sun-filled beach days. With this in mind, The Bentley Beach Hotel has put together the ultimate Girls Getaway Package. Book a minimum of 2 nights in a One or Two Bedroom Suite and receive the following: two 60-minute in-room massages. spa manicure, pedicure and hair style at Rocco Donna hair and beauty art, Bal Harbour shops spree complete with a $200 Bal Harbour shops gift certificate and private car roundtrip transfer, limo transfer to a South Beach restaurant or club to get the party started, daily breakfast in bed including mimosas, champagne and chocolate indulgences upon arrival, and complimentary private beach club services. From $899 per room, per stay, exclusive of tax. Minimum 2 nights stay. Valid through December 31, subject to availability.
This could be Mexico's finest hideaway and top-rated resort. Ranked #1 Best Hotel in Mexico, Central and South America by Travel and Leisure readers, the 25-suite resort was given the ultimate honor by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report as a 2005 Grand Award winner. And it's no wonder. Situated on a panoramic cliff overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay, the exclusive and stylish resort is an adults-only paradise. La Casa Que Canta boasts two of the most elegant swimming pools found anywhere in the world. The Freshwater Infinity Pool is located on a promontory overlooking the bay and seems to overflow directly into the water below. Amenities include a new spa, al fresco restaurant and bar, and nearby 18-hole golf course, tennis, watersports and deep-sea fishing.
The resort recently announced fabulous summer specials with rates of up to 22 percent off. The "Summer Spa Package" includes accommodations for four to seven nights, round-trip airport transfers, two 50-minute massages, one manicure and one pedicure. Rates range from $2,608 to $3,774 (depending upon the number of nights selected) for a Grand Suite or from $3,522 to $5,160 for a Master Suite. The resort is also offering special summer rates at its ultra-private, four-suite villas, each with personal chef, concierge, large swimming pool, plasma screen TVs and private plunge pool for each suite. Guests save up to 20 percent on stays of seven nights or more by booking a suite or the entire villa. Summer promotional rates are valid from June 1 to October 15, 2006.
May 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Announcing an offer you just can't refuse. Book a stay at participating Preferred Resorts with your American Express Card, and receive a gift. With the "I Prefer Spa" package, guests indulge in a signature spa treatment, and get a welcome amenity. Luxurious spas include Napa's Carneros Inn-- nestled in the grapevines of California's exquisite wine country, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows-- the AAA five-diamond winner on Hawaii's Big Island, Las Vegas' Red Rocks Casino, Resort and Spa-- which recently opened to much fanfare and glowing reviews, and the Caribbean's Peter Island-- the luxurious private island in the BVI that is consistently ranked as one of the world's best places to stay.