May 25, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Visiting the Greek Isles this summer? Stop through Europe's oldest capital to contemplate the Parthenon's majesty and a plethora of Classical monuments dating from the 5th century BC. A trip to Athens isn't complete without a stay at the Grande Bretagne, the grande dame of Athens luxury hotels, standing proud at Constitution Square for more than 130 years. A member of Starwood's prestigious Luxury Collection, the Grande Bretagne has hosted scores of dignitaries, business tycoons, and stars, who enjoy pure luxury in service and living. Take a dip in the rooftop pool, relax in the stunning new GB Spa, watch the sun set behind the Acropolis from the GB Rooftop Garden Bar-Restaurant (pictured at right). Recently renovated, the magnificent restaurant serves savory Mediterranean cuisine from Chef Emilio Bracciale. The views are absolutely breathtaking.
May 24, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Imagine: a hotel that consists of one luxurious private apartment, the three-room suite where Emperor Napoleon III lived in Rome in the 19th century. Stunning, opulent, impossibly romantic, the Residenza is situated in a 16th century palazzo just off Via Condotti. Ascend the marble staircase and step straight into the Old World; the dining room, bedroom, and drawing room are appointed with antique furnishings and rare Gobelin tapestries. Check out the bed (pictured). A magnificent oil painting serves as the headboard. (Plasma TV screens are likewise hidden by canvases. And the exquisite marble bathroom is hidden by another Old Master.) A private butler attends to all your needs, and the owner, Princess Letizia Ruspoli, is an excellent hostess/concierge.
The ultimate design hotel in Paris was designed by Christian Lacroix, who describes this colorful gem as "like couture, where the harmony is created from a puzzle of inspirations." Housed in a former 17th century bakery in the Marais quartier (rumored to be the oldest boulangerie in the city), the Hotel du Petit Moulin has 17 rooms which each boast a different theme-- from Baroque to sci-fi. Lacroix utilized lush fabrics-- velvet, taffeta, linen, leather-- in exuberant, dreamlike design. (The Website is as fantastic and whimsical as the hotel.) Guest rooms are outfitted with flat screen TVs, wifi access, large soaking tubs, and Anne Sémonin bath amenities. Book room 204 and enjoy a wall of Lacroix fashion sketches. Breakfast served, though there is no on-site restaurant.
The World, the impressive private yacht owned (or rented) by folks from over 40 different countries, is a floating residential community that circumnavigates the globe, checking out diverse ports of call for 2-5 days at a time. Managed by ResidenSea in Miami, The World is outfitted with state-of-the-art facilities including a full-sized tennis court, jogging track, gym, five restaurants, move theater and library, and beautiful spa. Banyan Tree Spa has recently announced a collaboration with The World and will soon launch its Sanctuary of the Senses onboard the cruise ship. Banyan Tree's signature Asian-inspired treatments will be available at sea for the first time. Located on Deck 5 in "The Village," The World Spa by Banyan Tree features four single treatment rooms and a Beauty Garden that incorporates a Hair Salon and Manicure Station.
May 22, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Monte Carlo is buzzing with the Grand Prix 2007, which will take place Thursday, May 24- Sunday, May 27, 2007. The place to stay is the Hotel Hermitage, the belle époque landmark just a short walking distance from the most prestigious shopping in Monaco and the glamorous casino. When you check in to the hotel, you will receive a Carte d'Or which allows complimentary admission to the Casino and the incredible Beach Club, with an additional 50 percent discount at the Monte Carlo Country Club. The hotel's award-winning restaurant offers gorgeous views over Monte Carlo Harbor and the winter garden is exquisite, with a dome designed by Gustave Eiffel. Guests enjoy direct access to Monte Carlo Spa by Les Thermes Marins, one of the most stunning spas in Europe which spans 66,000 square feet of fitness facilities, saunas, hammams, and a heated indoor pool.
Looking for a place to watch the most famous motor racing event? There are a few places available at Hotel Hermitage's sister hotel, the Mirabeau. Enjoy the Grand Prix 2007 from the private terrace of the Hotel Mirabeau where you can indulge in an extravagant buffet lunch (appetizers, main course, and a selection of desserts and beverages). Prices, which include grandstand seat and lunch, are as follows: May 24 Practice Day Package is EUR 90 per person, May 26 Qualifier Tests Package is EUR 200 per person, and Sunday, May 27 Grand Prix Package is EUR 500 per person.
May 21, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The dream of connecting the two continents-- only nine miles a part at the narrowest point of the Straight of Gibraltar-- may at last become a reality. After years of terrain tests, engineers have come up with a blueprint plan for a high-speed rail tunnel connecting Europe and Africa. As reported by the Associated Press:
This tube for passengers, cars and freight would bore deep under the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow waterway where the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean, and run from Tangier, Morocco, to the Spanish town of Tarifa at Europe's southernmost tip, possibly extending further both ways in the future. Big-name European engineering consultants brought in a few months ago are to complete a feasibility study this year.
This would be a true engineering marvel, the deepest underwater tunnel anywhere. There are plenty of challenges. At the proposed project site, the water is about 1,000 feet deep, six times deeper than the depth of the English Channel where the Eurostar tunnel is located. In addition, there are geologic complications, as the terrain is muddy and unstable with pockets of debris from tectonic slides. If the Straight of Gibraltar Project gets the green light in 2008, the cost would be over $13 billion and take about 20 years to construct.
May 18, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Just in time for the 2008 White Nights Festival, Starwood has announced the opening of a new W hotel in the Russian city on the Neva built by Peter the Great. Throughout the month of June, the sun never sets and St. Petersburg celebrates in style with music, festivals, and ballet performances at the Mariinsky Ballet and Opera Theater. Indulge in some caviar and ice-cold vodka and take in the city sites: the Hermitage (which rivals the Louvre), the Russian Museum, and the imperial estate of Peterhof. Scheduled to open in mid 2008, the new W hotel will be the first W in Eastern Europe. The hotel will showcase historic architecture complemented by exciting contemporary interiors (and plenty of signature W design elements, like the W Living Room). Located on Voznesensky Prospect, the hotel will feature spectacular views of the gold-domed St. Isaac's Cathedral from the guest rooms. The best part of all? A rooftop bar overlooking the historic city’s sparkling lights.
Talk about a room with a view. Vienna's Do & Co offers a heavenly hotel experience in the very center of the action off the pedestrian-only Stephansplatz. From your floor-to-ceiling windows, gaze out at the 12th-century St. Stephen's Cathedral. Owned by Istanbul-born entrepreneur Attila Dogudan, the hotel is a magnificent contemporary structure of glass and steel. The 43 guest rooms are extravagant, with dark teak wood details and heavenly bathrooms (two-square-meter showers, with flat screen TVs). Conveniently located in the middle of it all in the imperial city, Do & Co also offers an excellent restaurant and Vienna hot spot, the Onyx Bar.
Dads will love the oenology package designed by the Relais and Chateaux hotel collection for true connoisseurs. Why not treat Dad to a trip to the Villa Florentine in Lyon, France where he can indulge in the region's celebrated cuisine and fine wines? (The Oenology Package includes a candle-lit dinner and entrance tickets to the Beaujolais museum in Romanèche-Thorins.) Or send Dad to discover the Chablis Vineyards with a swanky chef's dinner at La Côte Saint Jacques. The Menu Gourmand is positively decadent: four courses, cheeses, and dessert accompanied by the greatest Chablis wines from the Domaine LarOche. The guided tour presents vineyards that are a millennium old. Here on our side of the pond, Dad'll love the Indulge: Virginia Wine Package at the beautiful Clifton Inn located outside Charlottesville, surrounded by small, local vineyards. For the adventure of a lifetime, treat Dad to a splurge in South Africa with the First Wines and First Whales package at the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Cape Town. The first red wines from the Constantia Wine Route are released just as the first migratory whales are spotted from land at Hermanus. Wow.
May 15, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Heli-Shopping, Mayback tours and sleigh rides in the Alps highlight the five-figure honeymoon package at the Kristiania Lech in Austria. The ultimate, over-the-top 7-night package is priced at 17,115 Euros for the honeymooning couple and includes the following amazing amenities: Traveling by helicopter to St. Moritz; DaimlerChrysler Maybach car tour including spa adventure; sleigh rides; private ski guides; Dom Perignon 1998 champagne with Austrian crystal flutes engraved with the guest names and wedding date; personal chef dinner; a bath butler and a professional photographer to shoot a honeymoon photo album. The new couple will spend their nights in the Alpine Suite, an opulent suite with a working fireplace and as the name implies a stylish terrace with magnificent views of the high peaks surrounding the valley. The Kristiania Lech, a Small Luxury Hotel member, is open December through April each year and is surrounded by 29 towering peaks in the quaint resort town of Lech, which has (so far) produced four Olympic ski champions.