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.
March 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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
Say hello to the brand spanking new Raffles Beijing Hotel. The decadent 171-room hotel makes its debut on May 28, and Raffles is celebrating big time. A little background: the hotel is not a new glass skyscraper or contemporary architectural icon. This building was constructed in the 1900s, and is cloaked in history. This is an illustrious Beijing address, located just a few minutes from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Inside, the guest rooms are beautifully decorated, a fusion of Asian and French elegance. There is fine dining aplenty, and a gorgeous fitness center (squash or indoor tennis, anyone?) with its own indoor swimming pool. And the Raffles Beijing Hotel is celebrating its opening with a fantastic introductory offer. Two nights luxurious accommodation includes the following amenities: complimentary breakfast for two, arrival car transfer from the airport, complimentary wireless internet, and personal on-call valet services. Starting at CNY 2,180 per night for a Landmark Room, and CNY 2,680 for an Executive Room. Available May 28-August 31, 2006. Did I mention that the first 1,000 guests receive a special free commemorative gift?!
March 14, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Courtney W. May Last week in the Informed Traveler Newsletter we had an article which highlighted three suites in New York City, including the Taipan Suite at the Mandarin Oriental, the Royal Suite at the Carlyle and the Park Avenue Suite at The Regency. We asked our readers to send us their favorite suites in NYC and the highlight was the 'Triplex Penthouse Suite' at The Time located at 224 West 49th Street in the heart of the West Side. On level one of the three you have the main living area with a huge L-shaped terrace, full sized marble bath, and dining area. On the second level you have the master bedroom with King size platform bed, computer workstation, the master bath (featuring jacuzzi tub, sauna, towel warmer and dual vanities), and a printer/fax/copier. Level three is the 'entertainment' level with oversized terrace, exercise bike, and 60" projection screen tv. As our reader put it: "it's pretty 'Suite'!".
By: Guest Writer
According to a new survey, Fortune 500 companies are prepping in a big way for the avian flu pandemic. After all, the forecasters are predicting that the avian flu could reach US shores in just a few months:
In particular, the companies are placing measures in place to track employee travel as being central to risk mitigation efforts, according to International SOS, one of the top providers of medical assistance, international healthcare, security services and outsourced customer care.Thus, if I fly to Vietnam, China, or-- God forbid!-- France, am I considered at-risk by these same venerable companies? My travel plans and activities logged and databased to protect me from spreading the contagion?
This Easter experience the renaissance of the cool and cultured in Berlin, and the luxurious bliss of Germany's most famous hotel. Leveled during the war, the Hotel Adlon was reconstructed in 1997 by Germany's renowned hotelier, Kempinski. Located in the heart of Berlin, next to the famous Brandenburg Gate, the Adlon is a grand and storied hotel. The seven-room Presidential Suite-- its window the notorious scene of Michael Jackson's baby-dangling antics-- is as elegant as befits the royalty and heads-of-state who frequently stay here. The Easter Package includes two nights accommodations in a deluxe room, a welcome gift upon arrival, gourmet breakfast buffet daily, one special four-course dinner with champagne, a guided cultural tour, and free entrance to the Adlon Spa. Starting at EUR 498, valid from April 14- April 17.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, Official Site
Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, Five Star Alliance
March 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Apparently 14 trillion unredeemed miles are floating around the black hole of frequent flier programs. According to the IHT's fabulous piece "Earning Miles: Is It Worth It?":
Since American Airlines introduced AAdvantage 21 years ago, an estimated 124 million travelers worldwide are busy counting miles with one or more of the 140 airline programs, many of which have scores of airline and non-airline partners, such as hotels, car rental firms and credit cards... Many airlines make money from the programs by selling miles to their program partners. United Airlines is said to generate more revenue from "Mileage Plus" than it does selling airline seats. Likewise, American Airlines with its "AAdvantage" program. Frequent-flier programs enable airlines to build a database of travelers, especially very frequent travelers, with the opportunity to build a direct relationship with them.Could this really be the most successful marketing idea of all time?
Welcome to the most elegant hotel in Latin America. The awards are numerous--Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report ("Among the World's 20 Best"), Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler (Top Hotels in the World)-- and the service, impeccable. Among the wide avenues, magnificent architecture, and splendid boutiques of the elegant Recoleta neighborhood in the "Paris of South America," the Belle Epoque Alvear Palace is a city historical monument. Furnished in the style of Luis XV, the rooms and suites are adorned with antiques and crystal chandeliers. Amenities include Hermes de Paris bath products, personal butler service, 500 thread Egyptian cotton sheets, telephone with intelligent screen to regulate AC, Wifi, and DVD players. Bathrooms are nothing short of magnificent, often equipped with jacuzzi and sauna. Guests are treated to the best buffet breakfast in the city, at Orangerie Restaurant, and the fine-dining restaurant-- La Bourgogne—is considered the best in the city, awarded "Latin America's Best Restaurant" by Wine Spectator. Indeed, the Alvear Palace Hotel is itself a symbol of Buenos Aires.
Alvear Palace Hotel, Official Site
Alvear Palace Hotel, Five Star Alliance
My home town is getting a makeover and I couldn't be happier. Kimpton-- that most delightful hotelier-- has bought the aged, decrepit Holiday Inn in Old Town, Alexandria and plans a complete overhaul. At long last: the return of glamour and class to this prime real estate in the heart of Old Town's cobblestone streets, flickering gas lamps and gorgeous colonial homes! Kimpton is pumping in $22 million in its conversion; the new Hotel Monaco, Alexandria will have 241 colorful and unique guest rooms, a pool, fitness club, and fine dining. Bring it on.
March 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Courtesy of the NYT: Tip the housekeepers on your next hotel stay!
Perhaps because they were unseen, working in the room when the guest was gone, hotel maids were generally overlooked by many travelers until fairly recently. A seasoned business traveler would always make sure to have a bunch of singles on hand to take care of the parking valet, the bellhop, the doorman and the cabby. But the maid? ...[the physicality of the housekeeping job has] become more intense in recent years, especially as hotels in the upscale and luxury niches have added luxurious new beds and bedding. Take a look at those swanky beds. They have duvets. They have half a dozen pillows and heavy 300-thread-count sheets-- usually three sheets, rather than two, per bed. Now think about the extra work involved in making those swell beds. Yet in most hotels, the maids are still expected to do the same number of rooms a shift, usually 14 to 16.Thus the importance of tipping. But-- in your experience-- what is the appropriate amount to tip?