LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
October 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hurry! The award-winning Chateau Elan, the wildly popular winery and resort situated just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, has announced a last-minute Spooky Weekend Special. Buy one night at the regular rate of $199 and get the second for free! Looks like it's all treats and no tricks for the folks that can snag this offer. (Only a limited number of rooms are available at this special rate.) Book for Friday and Saturday night (October 26 and 27, 2007) or check in on Saturday and enjoy your free night on Sunday, October 28.
The world's biggest jumbo jet landed in Sydney today. The first commercial flight for the A380, operated by Singapore Airlines, was a resounding success, as the tickets for the inaugural flight were sold as part of a charity auction. (Folks paid between $560 and $100,380 for seats.) Word from the lucky passengers who took part on the maiden voyage? The plane is an engineering marvel, with a cabin that's practically silent. The cabin products are dreamy. Case in point: the Singapore Airlines Suites (pictured)-- a class beyond first. Modeled on luxury yacht interiors, the suites feature real beds with Givenchy-designed bedding. It's like your very own personal cabin, where you dine off fine china and drink from crystal glasses. The plane will be introduced on long-haul routes to London, Tokyo, and San Francisco in early 2008.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a... flying whale in the sky! In fact, this enormous whale will be an eco-hotel, an environmentally-sensitive air-ship that cruises the earth. The mastermind behind the Manned Cloud? Jean-Marie Massaud, the brilliant designer who used to work with Philippe Starck and who was named Designer of the Year at last year's Salon du Meuble in Paris. His dream-- a unique, helium-filled hotel from where you can appreciate the most marvelous views of Earth-- could be realized as soon as next year.
How to improve on perfection? Open a splendid, new spa called Fern Tree. The timelessly elegant Half Moon, a favorite Caribbean hideaway, has opened the doors to a new facility that will knock your socks off. Celebrated as "a destination within a destination," the spa is housed in the resort's signature Fern Tree House; the conversion retained the original colonial design of hardwood floors and white-washed verandahs situated in beautifully-landscaped gardens. Choose an individual spa treatment or experience a customized, step-by-step program developed by the Spa Elder, your experienced guide who is trained in the use of local indigenous ingredients. Upon arrival at this 68,000 square foot oasis, each guest enjoys a ceremonial foot bath. Treatments utilize premier skincare lines from Jamaica and Europe, highlighting the indigenous botanicals of Montego Bay (Pevonia, Thalgo, and pure essential oils from Jamaica's Blue Mountain Aromatics). Choose a luxury VIP suite and bask in the posh amenities: full bath, private patio and garden with hot tub and shower.
The coolest place to bunk down in Montreal is the Hotel Opus, the sleek contemporary boutique hotel that was formerly the Hotel Godin. A design mecca, Hotel Opus is a chic, minimalist space right smack in the middle of Montreal's most in-vogue neighborhood, at the corner of Sherbrooke and Boulevard Saint-Laurent. The building's exterior is split in two distinct halves: the historical "Édifice Godin" and the modern brick-concrete addition. Guest rooms blend a sleek aesthetic with luxurious comfort. You'll find custom-designed furnishings and cutting edge technology. The stylish hotel is also home to dramatic Suco Lounge, a hip night spot where stainless steel sculpture works by Scott Eunson are exhibited. The Hotel Opus was named to Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List in 2005 and it's still getting rave reviews. Pssst! The Hotel Opus is pet-friendly, so don't leave Fido at home!
It may not yet be ski season in North America's top ski destination, but Whistler Blackcomb offers a scenic mountain getaway all year-round. The future site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Whistler is surrounded by glaciers, alpine meadows, and awe-inspiring mountain peaks. Experience the pinnacle of luxury at one of Canada's most exclusive mountain resorts with a special promotion available for a limited time. Until November 21, 2007 (a day shy of opening day on the slopes), get a third night free when you book a two-night stay. Rates start as low as CAD 245 per night. At the Four Seasons, hit the well-equipped gym and take advantage of the complimentary Virtual Workouts downloaded to an iPod. After your work-out, relax in the eucalyptus steam room. Or discover the free-form outdoor pool and whirlpools, reminiscent of a glacier spring. Dine by the fireside at Fifty Two 80 Bistro and take in some impressive views of the local mountains. And during your stay, be sure to spend some time at the superb spa, where the luxurious treatments use only all-natural ingredients: seaweed, fresh fruits, wild flowers, pure essential oils and clay harvested from British Columbia's glacial lakes.
Step into a canoe, where you are transported to a private island in the middle of an azure lagoon. Candles flicker against the sand. Music plays. A dedicated butler brings champagne, and a message in a bottle-- your menu written on a scroll inside. Surrounded by lush tropical foliage, you taste a salad with hearts of palm, followed by yellow tomato gazpacho, before sinking your teeth into a magnificent plate of Mahi Mahi with garlic and chilli guajillo served with mashed potatoes and spinach. Between courses, vodka and lime sorbet cleanses the palate. For dessert? A warm chocolate volcano cake accompanied by macadamia ice cream. The Private Lagoon Dinner at the award-winning Tides Zihuatanejo is easily the most exclusive dining experience on Mexico's Pacific coast.
Experience paradise for a song. La Samanna, an Orient-Express hideaway in the French West Indies, is a chic, white-washed wonderland where restaurant provisions are flown in from France daily. And it recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation, to boot. This beachfront spa resort has all-time low promotional rates of $395 per night during peak season. The catch? You must arrive on one of the following arrival dates: November 25 and 26, 2007, January 30, 2008, or February 26, 2008. As Travel + Leisure points out, this is a whopping 60 percent savings, as normal peak season rates start at around $1,000 a night. But hurry, this "Best Deal Days" promotion is bound to book fast.
Langham Hotels International will open its newest gem in the beautiful Thai province of Krabi in January. Since the London flagship opened in 1865, the Langham name has come to represent hotels that epitomize elegance and sophistication. (The Langham in Hong Kong is easily one of the top hotels in Asia.) Now Langham brings that legendary reputation to Lanta Yai Island in Krabi province, where an eco-friendly resort will offer luxurious accommodations that coexist in perfect harmony with the magnificent surrounding landscape. The five-star resort features 185 rooms and villas perched on the beach and up the gently sloping hillside overlooking Klong Tob Bay. Other facilities include four swimming pools, including a unique ocean pool, six restaurants and bars, and a plethora of sporting and leisure facilities-- from diving to mountain biking.
No surprise there. French Laundry is the only Bay Area restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars for 2008. Indeed French Laundry is one of only 56 Michelin three-star restaurants in the world, quite the elite bunch. Chef Thomas Keller is the only American chef to hold two three-star ratings, "the equivalent of an Oscar for chefs." (His other restaurant is Per Se in New York.)
As the AP reports, Zagat and Michelin have recently faced off in a "dining guide duel," as the red Michelin guides are moving in on Zagat's turf. Avid urban restaurant-goers swear by Zagat, and now NY and SF foodies can also turn to Michelin, which has published guides for restaurant recommendations in the two cities.