LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
July 10, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Any day now, Paris will welcome its latest luxury boutique: Hotel Lumen. Behind a Haussmanian façade (like Hotel Fouquet's Barrière), the hotel will combine contemporary and baroque styles. Created by architect Alain Daronian and designer Claudio Colucci, the hotel's central design concept is the importance of light (from which it derives its name). What could be more appropriate in the City of Light! Situated smack dab in the center of Paris, the Hotel Lumen will be a stone's throw from the Louvre, the Place Vendôme, and all the mythological treasures of the 1st arrondissement. Of the 33 guest rooms, choose from the St. Roch single rooms (with views of the stained glass windows of the beautiful St. Roch church), the Pyramides double or twin rooms, the Lumen rooms (with lots of light), and the beautiful, luminous suites on the 5th and 6th floors. The on-site Parisian brasserie will serve delightful neo-classical cuisine inspired by Frédérick Grasser-Hermé, the acclaimed cookbook writer.
Joining the likes of Waldorf-Astoria, Bulgari, and Crillon Hotels, Baccarat Hotels and Resorts is the latest luxury hotel brand on the block. Starwood recently announced its latest venture into the foray of five-star hotels, inspired by Baccarat's iconic status with its fine, hand-crafted luxury goods (as the "provider of crystal to kings"). The first for the brand will be the Baccarat Wailea in Hawaii, scheduled to open in 2010 with 193 condominium homes furnished by Baccarat, the ultimate luxury living experience. Of course lobbies will be adorned with those signature Baccarat chandeliers. Other locations will follow in the Caribbean, Europe, and the Far East.
After a massive two year renovation by interior designer Jacques Garcia, La Réserve has emerged as one of Geneva's hottest hedonistic haunts. Utterly decadent, this contemporary five star hotel is located on the shores of Lake Geneva in a beautifully landscaped park of 10 acres. The Garcia touch is evident in the animal print carpets, outrageously gaudy colors, plastic resin chandeliers... (you get the idea). Most of the spacious 102 rooms and suites have a terrace with views over the gardens and the lake. High tech amenities include high speed Internet, flat screen TVs with CD and DVD players, Satellite TV, and international dial with personalized voicemail. The Spa, four hectares of sheer bliss, was also redesigned by Jacques Garcia with magnificent pools, hammam, sun beds, treatment rooms, and gym. This spectacular space also houses an organic restaurant, decked out in white leather. After a stay at La Réserve, you may wish to take home with you the sinfully delicious cuisine. With the in-flight catering service, you can enjoy classic dishes from the hotel's restaurants-- a whole menu of your choice-- during your flights from Geneva.
Set within 1,500 acres of lush gardens and woodlands in picturesque Kilkenny county, Mount Juliet Conrad is easily the finest sporting estate around. Just an hour from Dublin, the award-winning hotel epitomizes the gracious living of the countryside. Spend a weekend at this country house hotel and sample a slew of activities and sports in a spectacular natural setting: horseback riding, clay shooting, fishing, archery, tennis, and golf on the challenging links. (Mount Juliet Conrad played host to the 2002 and 2004 WGC-American Express Championship.) The Stay and Play package starts from EUR 250 per night and includes overnight accommodation in the Hunters Yard, breakfast and dinner at Kendals (excluding beverages) and your choice of one of the featured activities per adult, per day.
Enjoy a culinary getaway in the heart of Europe's largest medieval walled city, the magical fairytale destination of Carcassonne. Perched on a hill above the River Aude in Southwest France, Carcassonne attracts millions of visitors every year to explore the wonders which make it an UNESCO World Heritage site. Hôtel de la Cité, managed by Orient-Express hotels, is the city's most luxurious hotel and the only one to be found within the actual medieval citadel. Enjoy a three-night stay and relish some serious fine dining at La Barbacane restaurant, a private cooking lesson with dinner, and a half-day wine-tasting tour. Available until October 31, 2007, the Food & Wine Culinary Escape also includes daily buffet breakfast and an in-room amenity of sparkling wine, flowers, and petit fours.
June 27, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Be among the first to experience the brand new Ritz-Carlton Moscow, a distinguished address overlooking historic Red Square, destined to become one of the city's finest hotels. Opening on July 1, 2007, Ritz-Carlton Moscow is offering a Summer Special through the month of August, with room rates starting from $385 (plus VAT). This is a fantastic deal, as normal rack rates will begin at $1,000 a night. The $350 million hotel, the first for Ritz-Carlton in Russia, features an imperial Russian façade and chic interior with contemporary amenities. The address itself, Tverskaya 3, has a long history as a hospitality hot spot; it was once a popular gathering spot for Russian writers and poets. The hotel will feature a lavish spa by ESPA, heated indoor swimming pool, and complete fitness area. The rooftop O2 Lounge, with its dramatic glass dome, will offer sushi creations from celebrity chef Seiji Kusano. (There's even a nightlife butler to help guests score access to the city's best nightlife spots, and a vodka sommelier at the Lobby Lounge.) But the hotel's main attraction is Jeroboam restaurant, touted as the city's most talked-about addition:
When the power elite of Russia are not meeting at The Kremlin, chances are they may soon be found "power dining" around the corner from Red Square at Jeroboam, the restaurant of three star Michelin chef Heinz Winkler.
And with the Tsar's Breakfast costing a royal $700 per person, looks like the new, over-the-top Ritz-Carlton Moscow will lure all of Russia's oligarchs.
June 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After a staggering renovation project, a three-year makeover, the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles has reopened and is ready to dazzle the château's three million annual visitors. As described by the New York Times:
This week, after a $16 million makeover, the full spectacle finally resumed, with the hall looking, as closely as possible, the way it first appeared to Louis XIV in 1684. With its 357 mirrors, 17 glass doors, marble walls, chandeliers and ceiling paintings, it remains-- as was the Sun King's intent-- a sight breathtaking in its majesty.
Restoration of the palace will continue until 2020. This $455 million project-- the "biggest renovation since the king moved out in 1789"-- is a daunting undertaking, considering the sheer size and scale of this impressive château: 700 rooms, 2,153 windows, 352 chimneys and 28 acres of roof.
As recently featured on Travel and Leisure's "It List," Bauer Il Palladio is the hottest new hotel in Venice. Though the hotel is housed in a former convent, there is nothing austere about this place-- decked out in Murano-glass lanterns and the finest tapestries and paintings. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece of original 16th century brick walls and terrazzo floors, complemented by antique furnishings. The hotel is aptly called a "rare jewel in Venice," as its location on the exclusive island of Giudecca ensures stupendous views of the city. A cool perk: guests are transported by solar-powered boat to and from Venice's other islands. This summer, the five-star hotel welcomes its luxurious spa, which will offer a slew of first-class wellness therapies along with a Turkish hammam and saunas.
Visit nine wonders of the world-- from the Egyptian pyramids to the incredible carved sculptures on Easter Island-- with Abercrombie & Kent's globe-spanning journey by private jet. The luxury tour operator enlists expert guides to accompany their programs; these professionals are the ideal traveling companions who work hard to ensure an unforgettable journey. Privileged guests can choose from an array of sightseeing excursions, sport, shopping and spa options at selected destinations. And with Abercrombie & Kent, guests experience privileged access to these nine landmarks of world culture-- a real insider's perspective. As to be expected, the accommodations on this circumnavigation are the finest, like the elegant Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, and the luxurious Four Seasons First Residence in Cairo. For 2008, the itinerary spans Miami, Lima, Easter Island, Apia (Samoa), Sydney, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar), Jodhpur & Agra (India), Muscat (Oman), Petra (Jordan), Cairo, and New York. Dates are January 13- February 6, 2008 and February 7- March 2, 2008. There are a limited number of seats on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. The private Boeing 757-200 is limited to just 50 guests, so make your reservations today.
June 21, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now you can stay next door to Vladimir Putin's summer house on the Russian Riviera. When he's not hazing the new French president, Vlad hangs out here in Sochi, the historic seaside resort on the Black Sea. Stein Hotels opened Grand Hotel and Spa Rodina in May 2006 and the media's been abuzz ever since. Set within 15 hectares of gardens that lead down to a private beach club, the hotel has dramatic views of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains, sandy beaches of the Black Sea, and Putin's official summer residence. Joseph Stalin originally created the resort in the 1950s as a retreat for the party elite. For over two centuries, the country's rich and powerful flocked to these shores, now also known for its annual film festival held in June. The subtropical climate-- the most northernmost like it in the world-- means lush terrain and lots of leafy palms. (You can swim from April through October, and hit the ski slopes from October into May.) Discover the magnificent botanical gardens, the only tea plantations in Russia, and the magnificent canyons and waterfalls of the nearby Caucasus mountains.
Grand Hotel Rodina is an exclusive property of only 42 rooms and suites, some with private terrace Jacuzzis. Soak in the oversized swimming pools (the best in the area), catch a flick at the private cinema, dine al fresco on the rooftop terrace, stake your claim to a piece of paradise at the exclusive Beach Club. The facilities are truly presidential, with tennis and basketball courts, a helicopter pad, boathouse, billiard room, and fully-equipped gym and spa. The best part of all? The cigar room located in the 50 year old bomb shelter.