June 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Looking for an undiscovered island? In Europe, of all places? Look no farther than Pantelleria, the secret volcanic wonderland located between Sicily and Tunisia in the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean. After the June article in Vogue, the cat's out of the bag about this one. The "secret escape for Madonna, Julia Robers, and Giorgio Armani," the "virtual natural spa with thermal rock pools, crater lakes, and cave saunas," sounds too good to be true. And the recreational activities on this island are endless: diving, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, vineyard-hopping, and touring the magical Roman ruins. In this Italian paradise, a new hotel opening is causing quite a stir. Pantelleria Dream offers 46 exclusive suites situated within dammusi, which are the typical island structures comprised of black volcanic rocks which help to insulate from the heat and the sun, with Arab-influenced vaulted ceilings inside. Each dammuso boasts a panoramic terrace with sweeping ocean views. For an ultraprivate, unparalleled experience, request the Venus Suite, which is distanced from the main hotel structure in sublime isolation, and stocked with luxurious amenities. Starting from EUR 180 for a double dammuso, including breakfast.
Vogue, "Travel: Bathing Beauties"
June 15, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Courtney W. May and Lanny Grossman, Director of Communications for Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Now that the World Cup is officially underway in Germany (my bracket has the Czech Republic walking away with it all - even though I am a huge US fan), some travelers might be looking for alternatives to dealing with the crazed soccer fans who have descended on Germany this summer. Personally, I can't imagine not wanting to be in the thick of things, but if you're one of those looking to go away during June, SLH has the following promotion "7 : 0 for Small Luxury Hotels: Best Escapes from the Soccer World Championship".
With World Cup madness hitting Germany and much of Western Europe, here are seven ways to visit the region and escape to a world of private luxury and ultimate experiences.
Wild Water Rafting in the Austrian alps: Around Kitzbuhel numerous river routes through spectacular mountain gorges are available for wild water rafting excursions, which the Hotel Tennerhof (www.slh.com/tennerhof) can arrange for its guests. A more tranquil alternative exclusiv for hotel guests: Fishing at a lake nearby where the Tennerhof holds private fishing rights.
Falconry in baroque gardens: As stylish as the ambiance of the castle hotel Chateau St. Gerlach (Netherlands) are the leisure activities of this SLH hotel: Golf, Horse-Riding, Tennis and falconry are on offer in the hotel's baroque gardens and in the wonderful nature of the Geul valley. (pictured)
Clay Pigeon shooting high above Mozart town: Salzburg lies afoot the Vitalhotel Kobenzl. On the Gaisberg mountain, high above the city, which celebrates this year Mozart's 250th anniversary, the Hotel offers attractive sporting alternatives: Clay Pigeon shooting, fishing, mountain hiking and biking as well as sailing, tennis and croquet.
Hot Air Balooning in the Black Forest: The Hotel Belle Epoque (www.slh.com/belleepoque), a neo renaissance villa from 1870, arranges sightseeing flights from Baden-Baden into the wonderful nature of the Black Forrest.
Archery in nature's paradise: Golf, Horse-riding, archery, mountain climbing and many more activities offers the Hoteldorf Gruner Baum (www.slh.com/grunerbaum) in the spectacular mountain world of Gastein. The main building of the hotel was built 1831 as hunting lodge for Duke Johann. Besides the countless leisure activities of the hotel the surroundings tempt visitors with romantic castles, dripstone caves and the national parc Hohentauern.
Formula 1 at the Hotel die Hirschgasse: The hotel offers a Formel 1-Package, which includes a three nights stay in a suite with jacuzzi, daily breakfast buffet and a bottle of champagne at arrival. Tickets and transfer to the Grand Prix at Hockenheimring can be arranged by the concierge. The package is available from 27 to 30. July 2006 and costs 1.300 Euro per room. www.slh.com/diehirschgasse
Arlberg from a bird's eye view: Many guests of the SLH Hotel Kristiania Lech in Austria (www.slh.com/kistiania) arrive by helicopter and enjoy a bird's eye view of the wonderful alpine nature: only 300 metres from the hotel, guests can also find a paragliding field .
View more Small Luxury Hotels with Five Star Alliance.
June 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
"Uniquely for a museum this has become the hottest table in Edinburgh"-- AA Gill, The Sunday Times
"....food so sublime it eclipses the wine. Almost" --Iain Banks, The Observer
Atop the Museum of Scotland, perched above the city with spectacular views of the castle and Edinburgh's defining landmarks, the Tower Restaurant has become one of the world's hottest dining destinations since its opening in 1998. Located on the roof of the striking 20th-century sandstone-clad building, the Tower has developed a reputation for the finest seasonal produce in the country. Open every day for lunch and dinner, the restaurant woos with superlative dining (featuring fresh local produce), signature service, and breathtaking views. The extensive menu highlights Argyll oysters, lobster, Fife crab, and platters of seafood, with the grill providing the Tower's signature Aberdeen Angus (proudly hung for 21 days) served with potato scone and Portobello mushrooms.
June 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Located on prestigious Syntagma Constitution Square in the heart of downtown Athens, the King George has been a legend since 1936. Recently refurbished, this Palace has been the choice of kings and presidents during its distinguished history. From your impeccably decorated room, enjoy views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. The Royal Penthouse Suite is the pinnacle of luxury in Athens: with private terrace, outdoor pool, and an incredible view of the Parthenon. Discerning travelers appreciate impeccable standards of personal service, the fully equipped fitness center and gourmet dining outlets, including "Tudor Hall" with a tantalizing menu inspired by Alain Ducasse. Spend the Fourth of July weekend in Athens and take advantage of Great Affordables package rates that include buffet breakfast, VIP welcome, and welcome cocktail at King George Club Lounge, starting at EUR 180.
Once owned by Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, this spectacular villa was transformed from an agricultural estate into an exquisite country inn and restaurant by legendary celebrity chef Alain Ducasse. Set within olive groves and vineyards, L'Andana Hotel is situated on a 500-hectare estate where gourmet olive oil and divine wine are produced for expectant foodies. The 33 guestrooms are beautifully appointed with views over the surrounding Tuscan countryside, and the suites boast fireplaces. The restaurant, as expected of Alain Ducasse, is excellent. There are recreational activities aplenty: cooking courses, horseback riding, tennis, heated swimming pool, guided tours, mountain biking, and (coming soon) golf. And the newly opened spa is a food-inspired dream, featuring ingredients from the kitchen garden such as olives, lavender, grapes, sunflowers and herbs. Enjoy relaxing treatments overlooking the vineyards and outdoor marble pool.
In the energetic arts capital of Ireland, The g is the height of hip. Let's start with the reception area. Black glass walls frame a tank of seahorses. Philip Treacy-designed concierge wall is covered in white Venetian plaster to look like a seashell. Next stop: the lounges on the ground floor, connected by the signature red carpeted corridor. Golden doorways mark the entrances to the Pink Salon, Grand Salon, and Blue Lounge. Over-the-top or fashionably contemporary? The hotel likens it to "walking through a glamorous dolls house." Moving on to the guestrooms. Extremely original and stylish, the decorative details (wallpaper, lighting, art, and flooring) were inspired by the landscapes of the countryside surrounding Galway. Of course in these sensual spaces, the technology and amenities are cutting edge and sophisticated. The restaurant (serving Italian cuisine) and cocktail bar are likewise decadent and glamorous. But amongst all this theater, the ESpa is certainly the hotel's highlight. Located in the top two floors of the hotel, the spa features four beauty suites, rock sauna, steam room, relaxation room with Japanese garden, and an ice fountain. The architectural design is stunning, with stone, wood, linen and glass blended in luxurious harmony. Extensive treatment list available.
When in Venice, do like the locals (or visiting celebs) and head to the outdoor terrace at the 18th century Bauer Il Palazzo hotel. It's extraordinary. The cleverly named Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) is a rooftop lounge on the 7th floor, with spectacular panoramic views over the city and lagoon. Here, breakfast is served exclusively for lucky guests, and the entire terrace and rooftop jacuzzi are available to rent for private functions. The hotel has the best spot in the floating city after all, in St. Mark's Basin, with its own private dock on the Grand Canal. In the heart of Venice, the Bauer Il Palazzo is an intimate boutique hotel with a stunning Gothic facade and opulent Venetian aura. The guestrooms likewise boast impressive views of the best of Venice. Many of the 44 luxurious rooms and 38 suites--lavishly appointed with fine furniture, fabrics, and Murano glass chandeliers-- offer balconies and terraces overlooking the beautiful city of canals. (Never mind that it's sinking.)
That's right. The opulent Parisian hotel has a new Culinary and Lifestyle Academy for folks to learn (and hopefully master) the art of French savoir-vivre. The landmark Hotel Meurice has always been ranked one of the most elegant hotels in the world, so we can trust that this fashionable new school will provide the best kind of expertise in subjects such as flower-arranging, wine-tasting, and pastry-making. Saturday classes include morning and afternoon sessions, with 12 students max. a class. Starting at EUR 105 per person.
June 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This is not a joke. For months now, hotels in Germany have been booked solid for this year's World Cup games. Many fans didn't even bother buying tickets to matches because of the enormous challenge of finding space in the nearby hotels. But now that's all about to change. As described by Hotels Magazine:
A spectacular mix-up by FIFA, soccer's governing body, means one million hotel room nights during the tournament are going on sale days before the kick-off on June 9. Apparently FIFA block-booked two million hotel room nights across Germany in June-July for sponsors, dignitaries, teams and fans - but only sold half of them. The rest have been handed back to German hoteliers, most of whom are furious.
Thus prices have started falling, and there will be plenty of deals come kick-off on June 9.
June 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Stockholm's Hotel Rival is the epitome of cool. Hip, lively, colorful, and chic, the city's first boutique hotel is a modern masterpiece of design. (As to be expected of one of Sweden's finest hotels.) On a recent visit to the Hotel Rival, I decided I could camp out there for quite a while. Whether it be in the lobby (swooning over the stylish furniture), on-site bakery (stuffing my face with homemade breads and tasty pastries), the gorgeous bar (pretty-people-watching), or the on-site cinema (oohing and ahing a little bit more), I found the Hotel Rival to be the kind of friendly and exciting boutique that every city should wish for.
On the way to the hotel, flying over the islands that make up Stockholm's archipelago, my taxi driver told me that Paris Hilton much prefers the Hotel Rival to her Daddy's Hilton, right next door. No surprise there. Paris isn't the only one who adores the Hotel Rival. From Pop stars to business-folk, the hotel's clientele keep coming back for the thoughtful service, cutting-edge technology, and careful attention to detail. Of course there's also the star factor. This crib belongs to Benny Andersson, the ABBA legend. The Swedish version of Mama Mia! has recently debuted in Stockholm, much to the city's delight, and CDs (along with ABBA memorabilia) are available for purchase in the lobby.
The Hotel Rival is a major gathering place in Stockholm. The gorgeous cinema--showcasing original historical touches after its lux renovation-- is now the scene of fashion shows, parties, concerts, and film screenings. Indeed, the cinema motif is dominant in the hotel's design: the comfortable bistro features wall paneling with a mosaic of 924 film star images, and each guestroom is adorned with a scene from a vintage Swedish film, the glass-covered canvas suspended above the beds.
Ahhh the rooms. Perfectly comfortable and highly sophisticated, the guestrooms embrace a sleek modern minimalism which hasn't abandoned function over form. The DUX beds are heavenly, with luscious linens, Egyptian cotton sheets, a special pillow menu, and the signature teddy bear from Debenhams. Some rooms feature a windowed wall between the bathroom and bedroom, allowing guests to soak in the tub while gazing out into the room. Of course the guestrooms and suites are loaded with technology, from 32" plasma screen TVs, DVD/CD players (and plenty of DVD rentals), PlayStation2, and wireless internet access.
The Hotel Rival is Stockholm at its finest.