July 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
London's most exciting contemporary hotel—it's even got its own private screening room!—is located in the middle of all the action in Covent Garden, within walking distance of all the theaters, museums, galleries, and city sites. Leave it to the concierge and superb staff at One Aldwych to provide the scoop on what's hot in London. At the Tate Britain—a mere 15 minute walk away—there is a major exhibition of Constable and his six-foot Great Landscapes, while the Tate Modern showcases Kandinsky's Path to Abstraction. And at the Somerset House, just a one minute hop from your doorstep at One Aldwych, Oskar Kokoschka's Prometheus Triptych is on display for the first time in a decade. Fabulous theater includes Evita, The Producers, Lion King, and Antony and Cleopatra and the Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare's Globe Theater. And the splendid Royal Opera House, where Swan Lake is performed this August, is only two minutes from One Aldwych. London is simply sizzling this summer.
July 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's a new all business-class airline on the block. Joining the likes of Eos and Maxjet, Silverjet is planning new luxury service between London and Newark, NJ. The airline plans to command a fleet of ten Boeing 767's, all configured with 100 flat-bed seats. The all-business class start-up, following the model of low-cost discount airlines, will focus on superlative service, including reduced check-in times, pre-ordered films, personalized meals, and excellent arrival and departure transfer services (including helicopter, chauffeur drive, valet parking and taxi). Round-trip fares will be about $1,855. Via NYT Related Articles: "Eos: The Luxury Airline that’s like a Five-Star Hotel" "Announcing Eos and Maxjet Airlines: New Luxury Airlines for the Business Traveler"
Ahh, Capri. Favorite haunt of hedonists, undercover movie stars, and loony Roman Emperor Tiberius, who used to indulge in wild orgies (and was also know to hurl virgin maidens and boys to their deaths over the cliffs). It's little wonder why so many visitors flock to the island. Home of the famous Blue Grotto, and fantastic Roman ruins including Tiberius's many villas, Capri juts up from the deep blue waters of the Bay of Naples overlooking Italy's scenic Amalfi Coast. The landscape is simply gorgeous, and the cuisine is divine. The place to stay? The Hotel Caesar Augustus commands a magnificent view, perched on the clifftop in Anacapri 1,000 feet above the sea, at the very pinnacle of the island. The hotel boasts the most extraordinary vistas to be found on all of Capri, and its infinity swimming pool seems to overflow into the sea of Capri below. For a stay fit for the emperor, book the Suite Cesare; the beautiful light-filled space has superb panoramic views from its private terrace and bathroom jacuzzi. In Spring and September (an ideal time to visit with its plentiful sun-kissed days without the crowds), the hotel offers the Best of Capri Package which includes three nights accommodation in Deluxe room with sea view and buffet breakfast, romantic dinner for two at the restaurant "La Terrazza di Lucullo," tour of the island in a convertible taxi or by private boat, and transfer from/to the port of Capri on arrival and departure. Starting from EUR 1,500. (Quite the steal. Normally you'd pay over $2,000 just for the three-night stay, without the additional amenities.)
Tis the season. For fashionable jaunts to the beach in St. Tropez, that is. And for a peaceful alternative to the crowded Riviera scene, head to Villa Marie, a serene and luxurious hideaway that was first brought to our attention by Conde Nast Traveler's 2004 Hot List. Overlooking the sparkling blue Pamplona Bay, Villa Marie is tucked into a secluded pine grove, a peaceful garden oasis of sprawling gardens, vineyards and a magnificent swimming pool carved from the rock. The villa is blissfully removed from the action, but close enough to easily satisfy a craving for a night out on the town (10 minutes away). The 42 guests rooms are uniquely designed with vintage Riviera and plenty of antiques, decorated in subtle pastel shades of pink and blue. The Spa Pure Altitude offers personalized treatments such as the regenerative Himalayan rose facial, the Mediterranean Body Care or theJasmine After-Sun Care. And the restaurant features an exquisite setting—its outdoor terrace has panoramic sea views—and delightful Mediterranean menu, with fresh local fish and produce.
July 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Dating back to 1228, the luxurious Ashford Castle is set on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland's second largest lake, in the picturesque village of Cong. Once the home of the Guiness family, and a favorite haunt of presidents and Hollywood celebrities, this world-class resort is set on 350 beautiful acres. This is the ideal venue for a fun family vacation with its excellent recreational activities and facilities. The "Ashford Welcomes Families" package is designed to blend the luxurious Ashford setting with activities the entire family will enjoy. The package includes accommodations for two nights in a Deluxe Family Room with two queen-sized beds sleeping up to two adults and two children (12 years and under), breakfast daily, two dinners, horseback riding for one hour, a Falconry lesson (45 minutes) and one round of golf on the 9-hole Stableford golf course. The package is EUR 1,875 for the entire family (inclusive of taxes), subject to availability. Available until September 30, 2006.
July 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At long last, the guru of European travel, and guidebook extraordinaire, has launched a travel blog. Check it out!
It doesn't get much better than the stunning Amalfi Coast. Dotted with pictureseque hill towns and sun-kissed vineyards and olive groves, the cliffs soar above the azure waters of the Mediterranean. In this spectacular landscape, the Hotel Caruso commands the ultimate location, situated 350 meters above the sea, hugging the cliffside. The entrance is magical: wind your way between tiny alleys lined with white stucco houses. The hotel's 50 rooms are individually decorated with 18th century antiques, and have terraces and sea views, while some boast a private garden. Each spacious room is equipped with satellite TV, DVD (movies are available at reception), private bar, separate bath and shower in the bathrooms, deluxe amenities from Bulgari, and Play Station available upon request. The infinity pool is among the most beautiful in the world, sitting high atop the cliff overlooking the sea. A variety of massage and spa services are available in-room, including traditional massage, Shiatsu, Senritsu: Firming and Toning Body Treatment, and Sensai Beauty: Premier Facial Treatment. The town of Ravello is a delight to discover, though the hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle service to the neighboring towns of Amalfi and Positano.
In early July, The Stein Group announced that the 19th century palatial hotel, located between Nice and Monaco on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Med, has joined its gorgeous collection of luxury hotels. Located in Eze-Bord-de-Mer, Cap Estel is surrounded by lush gardens draped with bougainvillea and wisteria, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, and the pink facades of villas in the French Riviera's charming villages. As one of the area's most renowned boutique hotels, with only eight rooms and 12 suites, Cap Estel has hosted royalty, politicians, and celebrities from all over the world. Guests are delighted by the personalized service and excellent facilities: private beach, indoor heated pool, outdoor salt water infinity pool perched over the Mediterranean, state-of-the-art gym, and extensive gardens. All rooms have a balcony or terrace with sea view, and are equipped with cutting edge technology: LCD or plasma screen TVs, DVD/CD player, individually controlled A/C and heating units, and internet connections. The property has just emerged from a meticulous, three-year restoration. The Stein Group now boasts 17 prestigious hotels in its portfolio, many of which dot the Mediterranean.
July 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Rob Wilder, Food & Wine Editor and Member of the Five Star Alliance Editorial Advisory Board In the US, great views usually are accompanied by mediocre food. Fortunately in Athens a different rule applies. Three of the better restaurants in town treat you to spectacular views. The menu at Pil Pil is only marginally Greek, but the location reminds you why you came to Athens. The dramatically lit Acropolis literally soars above this romantic patio, atop a small townhouse by the ancient agora. It is an "only in the movies" kind of setting! While somewhat pricey, Pil Pil delivers with fine Greco-Mediterranean dishes and excellent service. For an equally dramatic but very different panorama, ride the funicular to the top of Mount Lycavetus to Orizondes, a highly respected modern Greek restaurant perched atop this 1,000 foot cliff. With the chaotic jumble of Athens way below you, Orizondes produces wonderful food and service. Both restaurants have good selections of high quality Greek wines... look for any by Gerovasiliou or Kyr-Yianni. Finally, for a Michelin one-star experience with an almost equal view, head to the rooftop at Varoulko. Creative interpretations of every kind of Greek seafood are excellent. Perhaps the best overall dining experience in Athens? During our meal a summer lightning storm crashed around us, and our Greek friends coolly told us not to worry, the storm would miss us. Even when a few drops started falling, not a single diner budged from their open air seats- too enthralled with their dinners. The storm miraculously passed us by - Another magical evening in Athens! On the hotel front, we have had two good experiences at the St. George Lycabetus, perched on a hill over the upscale shopping area of Kolonaki. Fine rooms, great views (and rooftop pool), and an excellent location. Friends have also loved the Grand Bretagne, but it is both more expensive and in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Syntagma Square. The shops and restaurants of Kolonaki are big draw - our favorite is Papadakis, a youthful and modern take on the Greek Taverna with wonderful food and service. 9 Luxury Hotels in Athens from Five Star Alliance
July 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In October, the prestigious Rocco Forte Hotels—considered Europe's leading luxury hotel brand—will open a new five-star hotel in the heart of Berlin. Located in Bebelplatz, in the Mitte area of Berlin close to the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel de Rome will be housed in a historic building originally constructed in 1889. Formerly a large and distinguished bank building, the new Hotel de Rome will retain much of the architectural substance of the building. Indeed, the hotel will showcase these historic touches: the rooms leading to the banqueting hall are the former cashier's rooms of the bank; the ancient bank vault has been converted into a 15-meter swimming pool, and the grand offices of the former board members of Dresdner Bank have been transformed into suites.
The hotel will have 146 large bedrooms including 103 classic rooms, 32 junior suites, 10 one-bedroom suites and a presidential suite, measuring 120 square meters and boasting a full-length terrace overlooking Bebelplatz. The rooms will be a combination of classical design and contemporary "Berlin style" glass and steel, with all the latest cutting-edge technology, including Broadband Internet and interactive flat-screen television. Bathrooms feature mosaic marble detailing above double-ended baths, and separate walk-in showers. Other facilities include six conference rooms and banquet hall, restaurant, bar, health and fitness center with swimming pool, and Spa with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and plunge pool.