All eyes are on Cannes, the mythical jewel of the French Riviera, for the annual film festival (May 16-27, 2007) where the film stars strut their stuff on the red carpet and one lucky film will nab the prestigious Palme d'Or. The hotels may be booked solid during the film festival, but there is never a bad time to visit the Cote d'Azur, beloved by the Impressionist painters for its mild climate and glorious light. The beautiful Mediterranean coastline is a favorite for sun-seeking sybarites who indulge in exquisite cuisine and nightlife.
The place to stay is the Majestic Barrière, located on the Avenue La Croisette overlooking the sea. (80 percent of the rooms have views of the Med.) This legendary palace is one of the most distinguished addressed on the French Riviera, adored by celebrities for its high level of personalized service. The hotel features the Michelin two-star restaurant, La Villa des Lys, a flower-filled garden, a beautiful heated outdoor pool with solarium, private sandy beach with water sports facilities, and a health and beauty center. This summer, take advantage of the Barriere Preferred Package at the Majestic Barrière and enjoy rates from just EUR 259 per night including breakfast and free access to the beach with airbed, parasol, and beach towels included. If you stay four consecutive nights, the fifth night is free! Available until June 30, 2007.
Spring is in the air. Celebrate the season at Frankfurt's Villa Kennedy with the Spring Feeling Package. Get ready to indulge your senses with a VIP Spring Treatment in your room on arrival day, and "Inspirazione" menu for two at the Villa Spa, including a Surrender Massage. Rates from EUR 560 per night (Classic King double), includes delicious buffet breakfast, available until June 1, 2007. Centrally located on the southside of the River Main, the Villa Kennedy is a luxurious retreat in the heart of downtown with tranquil gardens and a beautiful central courtyard. The hotel's three newly constructed buildings are centered around the traditional 1904 Villa Speyer; a sense of historic tradition is complemented by contemporary innovation. The comfortable guest rooms are deigned in a minimalist style, with state-of-the-art technology and spa-like bathrooms with mosaic tiles. The three-level spa features an indoor pool, gym, sauna, steam bath, and eight treatment rooms.
May 11, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Housed in the regal Hotel Grand, Cafe Roux is one of Amsterdam's trendy hotspots. The setting is exquisite; bordered by two canals, the historic hotel has been at the center of city life for over six centuries. (In the 15th century, it was a convent and more recently it served as Amsterdam's Town Hall and the wedding spot for Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands.) One of Amsterdam's finest brasserie style restaurants, Cafe Roux has won multiple awards, including Wine Spectator's Restaurant Award for four consecutive years. Overlooking a picturesque canal, the restaurant is designed with oak floors and art deco details. The menu changes weekly, taking its inspiration from a specific culinary region of France. It's also possible to dine al fresco in the charming courtyard garden. Afternoon tea is a real treat. Served daily at 3 p.m., priced at EUR 22,50 per person, the tea features warm scones and clotted cream, assorted pastries, and dainty finger sandwiches.
May 10, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's easy to become seduced by Barcelona. Sunning on the urban beaches of the Catalan coastline, checking out Picasso's weird sketches at the Picasso Museum, bar-hopping along Las Ramblas, discovering the magical whimsy of Gaudi's architectural gems like the Sagrada Familia. Your ideal base in this dynamic city is the Hotel Claris, a luxury boutique hotel opened in the former Palacio Vedruna (note: the beautiful facade is still intact). Perks include an awesome terrace overlooking Barcelona and rooftop swimming pool and solarium with incredible vistas. The hotel itself is like a museum, an art-lover's paradise filled with original Egyptian, Roman and Hindu art, including engravings commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, mosaics and Roman sculptures from the 2nd century. Located on Paseo de Gracia in the middle of all the action, Hotel Claris offers 124 guestrooms, beautifully decorated and outfitted with all the latest technology.
Note: Small Luxury Hotels of the World recently commended Hotel Claris for the exceptional levels of personal service provided at the Club Level. Examples of guest-pampering are numerous: helicopter flights over the mountains, the use of a car to explore the city's historical sights, complimentary access to museums.
May 9, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Escape to Italy this summer and discover a hidden gem of a country estate-turned-luxury hotel just outside Florence. Villa Olmi Resort is the best of the old world and new; it combines the artistic splendor of the Renaissance with the luxurious amenities and technology of contemporary Italy. Set amidst the greenery of a centuries old park, Villa Olmi is all about the good life: excellent gourmet restaurant (and wine cellar), plush furnishings, impeccable service, and majestic surroundings. Take advantage of the Romantic Italian Experience, available until August 31, 2007, and really wow your loved one. The two-night package includes accommodations in a Junior Suite of the Villa or Fattoria, welcome drink with sparkling wine and snacks, a candle-light dinner for two at Il Cavaliere restaurant (beverages not included), one city tour in horse-carriage, and complimentary buffet breakfast. Starting from EUR 1200 per room for the two-night stay.
So what if the hotel's launch was a crazy publicity stunt for Volkswagen? (Or maybe I've just developed an obsession for concept hotels.) Copenhagen's Hotel Fox is an unique work of art. Unveiled in 2005, this exciting lifestyle hotel was designed by 21 artists from the fields of graphic design, urban art and illustration. Each of the 61 rooms was individually designed-- from whacky comic styles to Japanese Manga, from street art to fantasy. Guests choose the kind of room that suits their mood: the Sensuality room, Royal Wedding room, King's Forest, Japanese Garden. You can even book the "Tour de Fox" to experience the playful Fox universe with three nights in three difference rooms. At Fox kitchen & bar, sample funky cocktails and innovative food with the hipsters of Copenhagen; a special cocktail is created to match each course. Enjoy free high-speed Internet and personally-customized Mini-bar bags (Hangoverbag, Moviebag, Loversbag) made just for you.
Ahh, Florence. Fabled Tuscan city in the wine-growing hills of Chianti, home to magnificent Renaissance architecture and formidable art museums, the jewel of Italy. It may be packed with tourists in the summer, but Florence is still a premier destination, a treasure for art lovers. (After all, UNESCO estimates that 60 percent of the world's most important artworks are in Italy, with more than half located in Florence.) Rocco Forte's Hotel Savoy, located in the very heart of the city showcasing breathtaking, panoramic views over the Florentine rooftops, is offering a special package to celebrate the spectacular Cézanne exhibition at the historical Palazzo Strozzi. The Celebrate Cézanne package includes room upgrades upon availability at time of check-in, daily breakfast, entry to the exhibition and a copy of the official exhibition catalogue. Valid until July 29, 2007, with a minimum two-night stay required, rates start from EUR 480 per night in a Classic double room.
Berlin's newest boutique hotel is all about aesthetics. High-quality materials are utilized in the sleek, minimalist design of Ku' Damm 101. Located at Kurfürstendamm 101, the famous boulevard in the former West Berlin, this hip luxury hotel is the city's exciting address. The stylish rooms are outfitted with designer furniture and all the latest technology. Breakfast above the rooftops at the 7th floor restaurant, sip a cocktail in the happening lounge bar (check out the cool tunes on Fridays with Urban-Nights), relax with a massage in the on-site spa. This is pure Berlin.
Hot off the press. During its 14th annual international conference, Small Luxury Hotels of the World has announced its "Hotel of the Year": Les Sources de Caudalie, located near Bordeaux in the famed wine-producing region of southwest France. Set within the Château Smith-Haute-Lafitte vineyards at Martillac, this petite luxury hotel has embraced the concept of joie de vivre. It was here that the first vinotherapie spa was pioneered, combining grape extracts with the water from the naturally-occurring thermal hot springs found on site. The treatments are utterly unique. The charming 49-room hotel has mastered the art of haute cuisine; delightful meals are complemented by the impressive wine list featuring 15,000 bottles. With a magical setting and exceptional level of personal service, it's no wonder Les Sources de Caudalie won "Hotel of the Year."
May 1, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
On April 30, 2007 Fairmont welcomed a new hotel into its luxurious collection: Hamburg's stately landmark prominently situated on the Inner Alster Lake shore. Formerly the Raffles Vier Jahreszeiten, the award-winning hotel is celebrating its centennial this year. Consistently ranked as one of the best hotels in the world (named to Conde Nast Traveler's 2007 Gold List), Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten features four restaurants, two bars, the Amrita spa, fitness facility and 6,700 square feet of function space. The stunning public areas are chock full of 16th century Flemish Gobelin tapestries, baroque cupboards, Renaissance chests, chandeliers, and marble.
Take advantage of the Welcome to Hamburg package and receive a complimentary third night when staying two consecutive nights. The package also includes complimentary daily breakfast and an evening cocktail at Bar Indochine, complimentary HSIA, access to the health center and welcome amenities. Package rates start from EUR 570 in a Fairmont Room, available until December 28, 2007.
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