LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
November 19, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Say hello to the newly renovated Mandarin Oriental, housed in a neo-renaissance building just around the corner from the rowdy Hofbräuhaus. Last summer this sophisticated hideaway was renovated from top to bottom. The facade got a facelift, and all 48 rooms and 25 suites ooze exclusivity with a sleek contemporary design and all the latest technology. Choose your own bed linens (down-feather duvet, hypoallergenic blanket...) and help yourself to the mini-bar. Like an elegant museum, this stately hotel showcases hundreds of pieces of decorative artwork and antiques from Asia. On the top floor, the heated swimming pool boasts a view that extends to the Alps. Mark's, the hotel's signature fine dining restaurant, just earned its first Michelin star.
November 16, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's about time. For years, France has-- like many countries around the world-- used its own system for categorizing its hotels. As we've lamented in the past, there is no standardized international system for rating hotels, so a five-star hotel in Vietnam will not be the same as one in Dubai. For years, the hotel scale in France has maxed out at four stars, which means the opulent Parisian palace hotels like the Crillon and Hôtel Plaza Athénée-- the best the world over-- are lumped into the four-star category. Now, at long last, the French government has announced plans to create a five-star category of top lodgings.
Announcing the latest brand from Hyatt Hotels: ANdAZ. Taking its name from an Urdu word that means 'personal style', the new collection of luxury boutique hotels is hoping to attract youthful, affluent travelers. True to form, the Web site is lively, and promises a "young at heart" and "environmentally conscious" hotel experience.
Created in response to travellers' needs for an experience that blends style with uncompromised service, ANdAZ focuses on a personal attention to detail and a freedom from conventional hotel wisdom. A renewal of the highest quality standards, and the delivery of simple luxuries.
The brand's first location opens in London on Friday. Housed in the former Great Eastern Hotel, the red brick Victorian building constructed in 1884 by the Great Eastern railway company, the ANdAZ is right next to Liverpool station. The 236-room hotel is all about casual luxury. Instead of a lobby with a check-in counter and concierge desk, there's a sleek modern "living room," where guests check in with personal hosts who carry tablet PCs. Rooms are decked out with ergonomically designed furniture and iPods with locally selected playlists. Also on the premises: five restaurants and four bars. Room rates start at GBP 395 per weekday night, and GBP 120 on weekend nights, including breakfast, Internet, local calls, mini-bar, laundry and pressing, and movies. Coming soon: ANdAZ hotels in New York (75 Wall Street and 485 Fifth Avenue) and Austin, Texas.
The tiny country of Monaco, the glamorous city-state nestled between Italy and France on the Côte d'Azur, is luxury incarnate. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the Riviera is an enticing Mediterranean destination, and Monte Carlo is the prestigious choice for the globe-trotting elite. Take the six-minute helicopter ride from the Nice airport and arrive in style. (Plus, on the way you can take in all 500 acres of the Principality.) The place to stay is the Fairmont Monte Carlo, which unveiled a EUR 42 million renovation this spring. Built in the 70s, this enormous luxury hotel (619 rooms and suites) commands a remarkable location: built on piles over the water next to the Casino. It's like an island unto itself, floating over the Mediterranean, with sweeping sea views from its rooftop terrace and heated swimming pool. The Fairmont boasts three restaurants, two bars, 18 meetings rooms, a fitness center, shopping arcade, and in-house casino-- the first hotel in Monte Carlo to install its own. During the Grand Prix auto race in May, the Formula One cars rocket right under the hotel. Book the Corner Suite for the Grand Prix and you'll see why it's the most highly prized room in town for the race. On one side, views of the glittering sea, and on the other, the famous hairpin turn before the cars zoom into a tunnel beneath the hotel.
November 14, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
One of the most hotly anticipated restaurant openings in London, The Landau will make its debut at the prestigious Langham Hotel by month's end. After the opening of the fabulously chic bar Artesian, the star designers at David Collins Studio have been hard at work designing this new luxury London restaurant in The Langham's original ballroom. Hailed as one of the best kept secrets in the capital, The Landau will be a top destination restaurant alongside the capital's big players: Gordon Ramsay at Claridges and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. Head Chef Andrew Turner has devised a contemporary European menu with the best British ingredients and a few surprising twists. What's behind the name? Landau was originally the word for "the front horse-rider who gave direction to a carriage." True to its namesake, The Landau will be a leader on London's happening culinary scene.
November 12, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The date has been set. France's Finance Minister has announced that Les Soldes d'hiver-- the Winter Sales-- will debut on January 9, 2008. Cure the winter blues in the world's fashion mecca when the chic boutiques and grands magasins slash their prices and the French run around in a maniacal frenzy. Why such madness? Because sales events are allowed by law only twice a year (also in July). The choice of digs in Paris is simple. Book a room at the glamorous Hôtel Plaza Athénée, the landmark palace which celebrates the pleasure of luxury. The quality of service is unrivaled, the dining room is world-renowned (Alain Ducasse is the boss here), and Le Bar is the city's contemporary and trendy meeting spot.
We're constantly scouring the earth for the best luxury hotels. When we stumble across hotels with views this breathtaking, this heartstoppingly beautiful, we can't help but get lyrical about them.
Amangani, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Ranked among the top après-ski destinations in the world and also consistently voted the nation's best spa by readers of Conde Nast Traveler, the ultra-luxurious Amangani is set atop East Gros Ventre Butte, offering panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks around Grand Teton National Park.
Hotel Caruso, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Soaring 350 meters above the sea, hugging the cliffside over the Mediterranean, the Hotel Caruso commands the ultimate location. White stucco houses draped with brilliant bougainvillea, this is sun-kissed Italy at its most charming. With views like this, the infinity pool is easily among the most beautiful in the world.
Oberoi Udaivilas, Rajasthan, India
Sitting high above Udaipur's fabled lake, the Oberoi Udaivilas looks across to the floating City Palace, gleaming white in the sunshine, and Aravalli Hills beyond. Named the best hotel in the world in Travel and Leisure's 2007 reader's poll, the Oberoi Udavilas has rooms fit for a maharajah in India's romantic desert city.
The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, Japan
Occupying the top nine floors and the first three levels of the 53-story Midtown Tower, the tallest building in Tokyo, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo features 360-degree panoramic vistas of the city and Mount Fuji. When it debuted in April 2007, the hotel dazzled Tokyo with its over-the-top service and amenities (like the $16,000 Diamonds-Are-Forever Martini with its very own Bulgari diamond).
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
Along the stretch of mythic California Highway 1, Big Sur enchants visitors with its awe-inspiring landscapes. Smack dab in the middle of this dramatic coastline, the Post Ranch Inn offers rustic elegance and incredible views. Dine above the Pacific at the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant, guaranteed to be one of the most romantic dining experiences of your life.
Hayman Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Located on the southwestern side of Hayman Island just beside the Great Barrier Reef, Hayman Island Resort boasts an idyllic setting surrounded by coral fringed beaches and the lapping waters of the Coral Sea. The resort has a style as special as its setting, and boasts the largest swimming pool in the southern hemisphere.
Jumeirah Essex House, New York
The Grande Dame of New York is uniquely situated at the southern base of Central Park, just across the street from 843 acres of parkland. An internationally renowned urban oasis, the Jumeirah Essex House has an excellent location right in the heart of midtown Manhattan.The 515 guest rooms and suites-- fresh from a $70 million renovation-- boast breathtaking views of Central Park. Plus, the hotel has a camera on the roof which scans the city and broadcasts live to a channel in the guest rooms.
Twelve Apostles, Cape Town, South Africa
Situated where earth, sea, and sky meet, Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is poised above the Atlantic, flanked by Table Mountain and the majestic Twelve Apostles range, just minutes from the glorious oceanfront city of Cape Town.
Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro
Looming over the world-famous Copacabana beach, the Copacabana Palace is legendary, a glamorous piece of Rio's history. Like a sumptuous white wedding cake on the sand, the hotel has hosted royalty, film stars, and world leaders.
Cap Estel, Eze-Bord-de-Mer, French Riviera
Located between Nice and Monaco in the charming clifftop village of Eze-Bord-de-Mer, Cap Estel is situated on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean with a 180 degree view of the coastline. All the guest rooms at this renowned 19th century hotel have a balcony or terrace with a sea view.
Heralded as the "first major hotel to open in Hong Kong in 15 years," the sleek Four Seasons opened in September 2005. Easily the top location on Hong Kong Island, the hotel is located on the waterfront of the Central neighborhood, with the Star Ferry just steps away. Its 399 spacious guestrooms have wall-to-wall windows offering views of the Harbour, Kowloon and the Peak. From the outdoor infinity pools, heated in winter, guests enjoy sweeping Harbour views.
Hotel Hassler, Rome
The Eternal City's most luxurious and romantic hideaway, the Hotel Hassler is perched above the Spanish Steps in an unbeatable location. Hands down the best views over Rome (while working out at the health club, you can check out St Peter’s Cathedral!)
The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel located adjacent to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, one of the world's major heritage sites. Managed by Orient-Express, the luxurious Sanctuary Lodge can arrange visits to Machu Picchu with experienced guides.
Escape the family get-together (or take the fam with you) to the fabled city of Venice, where you'll lose yourself in its sparkling perfection. The uber-luxury palaces, Bauer Hotel and Bauer Il Palazzo, have put together an excellent package deal which includes one complimentary night, a five-course Thanksgiving feast, piano concert, and full buffet breakfast daily. Valid from November 22- November 25, 2007, the Venice Thanksgiving Getaway starts at EUR 1,740 per room for a four-night stay at the Bauer Il Palazzo. For a suite at the legendary Bauer Hotel, which has its own private dock on a small canal, the getaway is priced from EUR 2,160 per room.
PS. Check into the spellbinding Bauer Il Palazzo, one of the year's hottest new hotels located on the exclusive island of Giudecca, and buzz around to Venice's other islands in a solar-powered boat.
November 7, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Talk about a room with a view. This could be the best hotel room in Paris. Perched high atop the Palais de Tokyo-- that wonderfully quirky space for contemporary art-- the Hotel Everland is a transportable capsule hotel created by two Swiss artists, Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann. It already spent 18 months at the Gallery for Contemporary Art in Leipzig, and will stay in Paris until the end of 2008. This one-room hotel is also an art installation, so overnight guests actually become a part of the artwork. The luxurious suite includes a marvelous bathroom and 24-hour room service. Prices vary from around $560 per night on the weekdays to $700 per night on the weekends. Note: Guests book online and stay only for the night after the museum's closing. Museum visitors can check out the one-room hotel during the day.
November 5, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Sir Rocco Forte will unveil a splendid new resort in 2009. Lapped by Mediterranean waters, Sicily is a land of ancient history, a cultural crossroads of temples and fortresses, overshadowed by the volcano Mt. Etna. Here, in a small village called Verdura (near Sciacca on the southern coast), the Rocco Forte Collection is building a EUR 129 million hotel and golf resort. Centered around the restoration of several historical buildings, the hotel will no doubt reflect the history and character of the region. Overlooking the sea, the 200-room Verdura Golf and Spa Resort will boast two championship golf courses, a hydrotherapy spa, and recreational facilities.