June 27, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Be among the first to experience the brand new Ritz-Carlton Moscow, a distinguished address overlooking historic Red Square, destined to become one of the city's finest hotels. Opening on July 1, 2007, Ritz-Carlton Moscow is offering a Summer Special through the month of August, with room rates starting from $385 (plus VAT). This is a fantastic deal, as normal rack rates will begin at $1,000 a night. The $350 million hotel, the first for Ritz-Carlton in Russia, features an imperial Russian façade and chic interior with contemporary amenities. The address itself, Tverskaya 3, has a long history as a hospitality hot spot; it was once a popular gathering spot for Russian writers and poets. The hotel will feature a lavish spa by ESPA, heated indoor swimming pool, and complete fitness area. The rooftop O2 Lounge, with its dramatic glass dome, will offer sushi creations from celebrity chef Seiji Kusano. (There's even a nightlife butler to help guests score access to the city's best nightlife spots, and a vodka sommelier at the Lobby Lounge.) But the hotel's main attraction is Jeroboam restaurant, touted as the city's most talked-about addition:
When the power elite of Russia are not meeting at The Kremlin, chances are they may soon be found "power dining" around the corner from Red Square at Jeroboam, the restaurant of three star Michelin chef Heinz Winkler.
And with the Tsar's Breakfast costing a royal $700 per person, looks like the new, over-the-top Ritz-Carlton Moscow will lure all of Russia's oligarchs.
June 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After a staggering renovation project, a three-year makeover, the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles has reopened and is ready to dazzle the château's three million annual visitors. As described by the New York Times:
This week, after a $16 million makeover, the full spectacle finally resumed, with the hall looking, as closely as possible, the way it first appeared to Louis XIV in 1684. With its 357 mirrors, 17 glass doors, marble walls, chandeliers and ceiling paintings, it remains-- as was the Sun King's intent-- a sight breathtaking in its majesty.
Restoration of the palace will continue until 2020. This $455 million project-- the "biggest renovation since the king moved out in 1789"-- is a daunting undertaking, considering the sheer size and scale of this impressive château: 700 rooms, 2,153 windows, 352 chimneys and 28 acres of roof.
As recently featured on Travel and Leisure's "It List," Bauer Il Palladio is the hottest new hotel in Venice. Though the hotel is housed in a former convent, there is nothing austere about this place-- decked out in Murano-glass lanterns and the finest tapestries and paintings. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece of original 16th century brick walls and terrazzo floors, complemented by antique furnishings. The hotel is aptly called a "rare jewel in Venice," as its location on the exclusive island of Giudecca ensures stupendous views of the city. A cool perk: guests are transported by solar-powered boat to and from Venice's other islands. This summer, the five-star hotel welcomes its luxurious spa, which will offer a slew of first-class wellness therapies along with a Turkish hammam and saunas.
Visit nine wonders of the world-- from the Egyptian pyramids to the incredible carved sculptures on Easter Island-- with Abercrombie & Kent's globe-spanning journey by private jet. The luxury tour operator enlists expert guides to accompany their programs; these professionals are the ideal traveling companions who work hard to ensure an unforgettable journey. Privileged guests can choose from an array of sightseeing excursions, sport, shopping and spa options at selected destinations. And with Abercrombie & Kent, guests experience privileged access to these nine landmarks of world culture-- a real insider's perspective. As to be expected, the accommodations on this circumnavigation are the finest, like the elegant Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, and the luxurious Four Seasons First Residence in Cairo. For 2008, the itinerary spans Miami, Lima, Easter Island, Apia (Samoa), Sydney, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar), Jodhpur & Agra (India), Muscat (Oman), Petra (Jordan), Cairo, and New York. Dates are January 13- February 6, 2008 and February 7- March 2, 2008. There are a limited number of seats on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. The private Boeing 757-200 is limited to just 50 guests, so make your reservations today.
June 21, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now you can stay next door to Vladimir Putin's summer house on the Russian Riviera. When he's not hazing the new French president, Vlad hangs out here in Sochi, the historic seaside resort on the Black Sea. Stein Hotels opened Grand Hotel and Spa Rodina in May 2006 and the media's been abuzz ever since. Set within 15 hectares of gardens that lead down to a private beach club, the hotel has dramatic views of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains, sandy beaches of the Black Sea, and Putin's official summer residence. Joseph Stalin originally created the resort in the 1950s as a retreat for the party elite. For over two centuries, the country's rich and powerful flocked to these shores, now also known for its annual film festival held in June. The subtropical climate-- the most northernmost like it in the world-- means lush terrain and lots of leafy palms. (You can swim from April through October, and hit the ski slopes from October into May.) Discover the magnificent botanical gardens, the only tea plantations in Russia, and the magnificent canyons and waterfalls of the nearby Caucasus mountains.
Grand Hotel Rodina is an exclusive property of only 42 rooms and suites, some with private terrace Jacuzzis. Soak in the oversized swimming pools (the best in the area), catch a flick at the private cinema, dine al fresco on the rooftop terrace, stake your claim to a piece of paradise at the exclusive Beach Club. The facilities are truly presidential, with tennis and basketball courts, a helicopter pad, boathouse, billiard room, and fully-equipped gym and spa. The best part of all? The cigar room located in the 50 year old bomb shelter.
You can't beat this London location. Overlooking Hyde Park, within easy reach of Knightsbridge's famous stores, The Berkeley is mere moments from London's acclaimed museums and landmarks. For over a century, the storied hotel has retained its elegance, charm, and popularity with its distinguished clientele. The Blue Bar, the hotel's drinking spot, has made a name for itself in dozens of glossies around the globe. The rooftop pool is one of only two in London; it has a retracting roof and beautiful views over Hyde Park. Marcus Wareing's Michelin-starred Pétrus restaurant has secured The Berkeley as one of the world's leading gastronomic hotels. Stay Friday, Saturday or Sunday night between now and December 31, 2007 and enjoy a welcome bottle of chilled champagne, full English breakfast and late check-out at 4 p.m. the following day. Prices for Weekend Chic start from GBP 259 per night in a Superior King-bedded room.
PS. Don't miss the fashionista's favorite afternoon tea at The Berkeley, Prêt-à-Portea.
The legendary QE2, launched by Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 1967, has been sold to Dubai's Istithmar company for a mere $100 million. The longest serving vessel in Cunard's history, the ocean liner crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and carried more than 2.5 million passengers. Now the ship will become a must-see tourist attraction in Dubai (where else?)-- where it will be converted into a luxurious floating hotel at the Palm Jumeirah. After an extensive refurbishment program to recreate all the original interior décor, the QE2 will reopen in 2009 in its new permanent home: a pier at the Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest man-made island.
June 15, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Beneath the shadow of mythical Mount Athos in northern Greece, next to the deep blue sea, Eagles Palace commands a premier seaside position near the ancient town of Ouranpolis. Set in lush gardens, the five-star hotel offers luxurious rooms, suites, or self-contained bungalows with private pools. Terraces look out over the secluded private beach of golden sand and the clear water of the Sigiticos Gulf. Facilities include the indulgent spa, three dining options, swimming pools, tennis court, water sports and the diving center. The hotel has distinguished itself with its outstanding projects for sustainable development and responsible tourism and was awarded the 2007 Caring Award from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Well-integrated into the local community, the hotel has sponsored myriad projects: guests can dine in local homes, fishing trips are organized with the region's fisherman, beach clean-up days and environmental projects inform both guests and the local community about important issues.
Situated in Italy's South Tyrol region, wedged between the Alps and the Dolomites just 30 miles from the Austrain border, Vigilius Mountain Resort is a contemporary design hotel only accessible by cable car. At 1,500 meters above everyday life, Vigilius is an exciting and exclusive haven. Constructed with local materials of larch wood, glass, and a grass roof, the design is minimalist and modern, but blends harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. It was named to Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List in 2004, but this "luxury playground for adults" still gets lots of buzz. There's a screening room, two excellent restaurants, cutting-edge spa, and swimming pool with stunning panoramic views. Not to mention the wealth of activities right out your back door-- from hiking, skiing, and paragliding to wine-tasting and village-hopping.
What could be better than sampling London's finest plates outside in Regent's Park? The annual Taste of London festival, now in its fourth year, entices serious foodies to flock to the gourmet extravaganza. Where else can you sample Le Gavroche, Fifteen, Nahm, Pied à Terre and Angela Hartnett at The Connaught all at the same time? From June 21-24, 2007, head to the best table in town at the capital's most prestigious food and drink festival. Gastrofeatures include F Word Live (where Gordon Ramsay and the F Word team whip up some fabulous dishes), the Times Chefs' Theater, Specialty Beer Master Class, and the Producer's Market with delectable local produce.
Where to stay? Book a room at The Halkin, whose famed Thai restaurant, Nahm, is showcasing its exceptional cuisine at the Taste of London. (How's this for bragging rights: Nahm secured the world's first Michelin star for Thai cooking.) Located in the heart of Belgravia, just steps from Knightsbridge and Hyde Park, the 41-room Halkin is all about understated glamour. The white-marble lobby is polished, its adjacent bar intimate and chic. At this ultimate insider's address, guests are treated to attentive, but discreet, personal service.
PS. The Halkin's got some of the best suites in town