Overlooking a beautiful courtyard garden in the heart of Westminster, 51 Buckingham Gate oozes luxury. Three townhouses, 84 spacious suites and apartments, a team of Ivor Spencer-trained personal butlers: this is central London's perfect five-star address. The flagship property in the West for Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces, 51 Buckingham Gate is also the premier example of eco-friendly hotels raising the bar for the hospitality industry with impressive eco initiatives. The hotel embraces the corporate environmental policy-- Eco Taj-- which focuses on energy and water conservation, recycling projects, and the purchase of eco-products. The Spa at Fifty-One, included in Harpers and Queen's Worlds 100 Best Spas, is the only spa in England to offer pure and chemical-free Sodashi spa treatments. The courtyard garden is fully organic. And since 2005, the hotel has reduced energy consumption by more than 22 percent, cut natural gas consumption by more than 32 percent, and lowered water usage and costs by 25 percent. In 2004, 51 Buckingham Gate won two prestigious accolades for its continuing implementation of eco-friendly initiatives: The Considerate Hotel of the Year and the Environmentally Friendly Hotel of the Year for 2004.
Move over, Dubai. Europe's getting its very own seven-star hotel, the Town House Galleria, in Milan. The hotel's developers opened its doors on Friday, December 15 for the general public to view the premises before the March 2007 opening date. Overlooking Milan's Duomo Cathedral and La Scala opera house, Town House Galleria is located in the second and third floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan's world-renowned historic shopping arcade. After a large renovation, the landmark building still showcases historic architectural features like the hand painted vaulted ceilings and large shuttered windows. The hotel will feature only 24 suites, and promises the highest level of personal service. Currently the world's only seven star hotel exists in-- where else?-- Dubai. (The sail-shaped Burj al Arab has been the scene of many ingenius photo ops: Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi practicing their game from the helipad, 692 feet above the Arabian Gulf.)
Old-school luxury hoteliers bemoan this latest marking gimmick of the seven-star hotel; after all, there is no standard worldwide hotel rating system, and European hotels officially can only earn five stars. But apparently this is just the beginning of a new flood of "seven star" hotels which will glut the luxury market as the super-rich elite strive to distinguish themselves among the top-tier echelons of high-rollers. Versace fashion house is scheming to open a dozen worldwide.
December 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The 4th annual Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards winners were revealed at a black-tie gala dinner at the luxurious Pierre Hotel in Manhattan on December 14, 2006. Four Seasons rocked the luxury hotel chain category, with Travel Weekly readers awarding it both the best "luxury chain" and the best "upscale chain." Starwood Hotels and Resorts led the rankings for both Europe and South Pacific regional hotel brand of the year. And Mandarin Oriental grabbed top honors for Asia's top hotel chain. (Domestic chain? None other than Marriott managed to snag that award.) The top resort worldwide was awarded to St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora.
December 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In the village of Zermatt, close to the Italian border, at one of the premier ski destinations in the world, there is a resort like no other. The luxurious Riffelalp Resort is situated at 2,222 meters above sea level, affording guests an extraordinary and unique alpine panorama. Hit the slopes at the heart of the Gornergrat skiing district; the in-house ski concierge can assist with equipment rental and even set up heli-skiing trips. At the end of the day, soak your tired muscles in Europe's highest outdoor pool (heated to 35 degrees Celsius), taking in superb views of the Matterhorn. Or head to the Wellness Center and explore the various baths-- stone steam, saline, immersion-- and the Finnish Sauna, or indulge in a massage. In the evening, sample Cheese Fondue and Raclette in front of the open fire, or dine in style at the hotel's fine eateries. Evenings are never dull; there is a plethora of entertainment, including two bowling alleys, billiard room, home cinema, wine bar, and cocktail bar.
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
Edinburgh is going off this holiday season. The traditional Hogmanay festival, a four day party filled with exciting events and traditional happenings, is one of the best New Year's parties in the world. The city itself is magical to behold during the festivities: charming cobblestone streets and squares, beautiful shop windows, sparkling lights and plentiful decorations. Things kick off with the Torchlight Procession on December 29; the revelry continues with the world-famous Royal Bank Street Party on New Year's Eve (along with The Concert in the Gardens, The New Year Revels, Seven Hills Fireworks, The Ceilidh in the Gardens, and the Candlelit Concert); the party concludes with the One O'clock Run on New Year's Day. Where to stay? Rocco Forte's award-winning Balmoral Hotel entices with roaring fires, seasonal lights, and luxurious accommodations and service. Overlooking the Edinburgh Castle, the hotel couldn't boast a more perfect location to enjoy the New Year's festivities. The Balmoral celebrates Hogmanay with a traditional Gala Ball, the most sophisticated and glamorous black-tie event in Edinburgh. Champagne and Canapés, a sumptuous four-course menu created by othe Michelin-starred Chef, Jeff Bland, dancing to a live band, and at the stroke of midnight-- the best views in town for the breathtaking fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle. The Gala Bala experience costs from GBP 555 per room, per night (two night minimum). Includes complimentary use of the Balmoral Spa.
It's here. Joining the likes of Eos, Maxjet, and Silverjet, the new French carrier, L'Avion, debuts its transatlantic flights on December 28th. But unlike the other luxury airlines, which serve London and the East Coast, L'Avion is the first of its kind to link Paris and Newark. The promised perks? World-class French cuisine, of course, with multiple courses served as if in the finest Parisian restaurant. Accompanied by stellar French wines and award-winning Champagnes. Not to mention excellent entertainment and music on-demand. Take advantage of a special inaugural sale; the first 1,000 tickets reserved, starting December 1, will go for a mere EUR 1,000 roundtrip. Effective for travel until March 31, 2007.
December 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Located right smack in the historical center of Florence, steps away from the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery, Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy offers luxury, style, and the best personalized service. The exquisite hotel was fully renovated last year, and boasts contemporary Italian interiors styled by Olga Polizzi, with elegant decor and tributes to the designer fashion houses of Florence. Each one of the 102 rooms and suites at Hotel Savoy are stylishly designed with comfort in mind; beds are sumptuous, the technology is cutting-edge, and bathrooms are distinguished by classic marble and mosaic, and filled with Rocco Forte's exclusive range of Italian bathroom products. But perhaps what is most talked about is the panoramic view over the Piazza Republica and Florence, from L'Incontro Bar and Restaurant (one of the most popular restaurants in the city) and the state-of-the-art Fitness Center (where work-outs become sublime experiences). From now through April 2007, enjoy an unbeatable rate of EUR 240 per night with Leading Hotels of the World. Two night minimum stay required.
December 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now is the time to visit the fabled Mediterranean coast of France. The sun is shining but the crowds have dissipated on the Cote d'Azur. And legendary luxury hotels like the Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice are offering excellent holiday packages, to help spur the decision to ditch the usual harried holiday season at home (caroling and shopping overkill) and take the fam on a delightful winter escape. The most fashionable palace in Nice, situated on the Promenade Des Anglais, offers the ultimate Riviera experience with its Art Deco ambience, award-winning Le Padouk restaurant, panoramic poolside terrace, and splendid accommodations. Recently rated among the "Top 75 European Hotels" in Conde Nast Traveler magazine's Reader's Choice Awards 2006, the Palais de la Mediterranee has devised two great value offers for a joyous Christmas and New Year's. The Magical Christmas Package starts at an unbelievable EUR 285 per night, and includes accommodations in a superior city view room, daily breakfast buffet, welcome gift, Christmas lunch or dinner at Restaurant Le Padouk on December 25, complimentary extra bed and breakfast for one child under 12 and unlimited access to the indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, sauna and steam room. Valid from December 22-26, 2006. Two night minimum stay. Sea view room is available for an additional EUR 25 per night. Likewise, the Cabaret Show Time New Year's Package is an excellent value, starting from EUR 425 per night. The package includes accommodations in a superior city view room, daily breakfast buffet, a VIP welcome, New Year's Eve gourmet dinner with beverages such as Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée 730, a French cabaret show and after dinner dancing, unlimited access to the indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, sauna and steam room. Valid from December 28, 2006 to January 2, 2007. Minimum two night stay required.
December 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Silverjet is the third luxury airline (joining Eos and Maxjet) to offer exclusive, premium class service between London and the East Coast. The new UK-based carrier is set to launch flights between London (Luton) and Newark, New Jersey on January 25, 2007. Silverjet's 767 aircraft will be configured for 100 seats that lie flat. Passengers will be able to check in as little as 1/2 hour before departure. Perks will include swanky airport lounges in Newark and Luton, comprehensive in-flight entertainment systems, and gourmet meals that customers can pre-order. With the airline's Inaugural Sale, book a flight by December 31, 2006 and score a ticket for $799 each way. (Regular roundtrip fares start at $1,798.)