January 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Get yourself to the metropolis of music for the 2006 gala for Wolfgang Amadeus' 250th birthday. In Salzburg, the composer's birthplace, the entire city has become a stage, with 55 first performances, 36 operas, 260 concerts, and exhibitions galore. Soak up that culture-- just revel in it!-- while spoiling yourself at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg, located in the heart of the city on the banks of the Salzach River. The preferred hotel of statesmen and royal families, the turn-of-the-century Grand Hotel has a long tradition of luxury and style, usually booked solid during the annual Salzburg Festival. Of course, it's the place to stay during Mozart's birthday extravaganza.
Hotel Sacher Salzburg, Official Site
Hotel Sacher Salzburg, Five Star Alliance
This year, Valentine's specials abound, but this is one of my favorites, found where else… but in the most romantic setting of them all, the City of Light. The very popular Pavillon de la Reine—located in the Marais district in the heart of Paris-- has created a special package this year that would make even a few days trip across the Pond worthwhile. Small and charming, yet offering all the luxurious amenities of a grand hotel, the Pavillon is like an elegant and warm Parisian home. The Valentine's special is a steal at EUR 385 per night in a Junior Suite (compared to the usual EUR 685), and EUR 495 per night in a Suite (how's that for savings from the usual EUR 775?) Includes accommodations, a bottle of Champagne Rosé, Fine Chocolates and Roses, a Continental or Buffet breakfast, and a surprise gift from Tiffany and Co. for your special Valentine. Offer valid from Feb 9th to February 20th, based upon availability.
Pavillon de la Reine, Official Site
Pavillon de la Reine, Five Star Alliance
Informed by a well-traveled reader, I couldn't keep the secret. For your next perfect business meeting or conference in Europe, look no farther than the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao. Chic, cosmopolitan and itself a figurehead of design, Silken's first five star hotel sits opposite the Museum Guggenheim, incorporating the architecture of its breathtaking neighbor. World-famous designer Javier Mariscal has mastered the design concept, the interior space paying homage to 20th century design with emblematic furniture. The atrium is pretty cool too: a Mariscal sculpture, the Fossil Cypress, stands tall and actually reaches the skylight. The bar is properly swank, 135 guestrooms have gorgeous views of the Guggenheim, and all meeting rooms incorporate the finest in technology (interactive television and audio equipment, wifi and all that jazz.)
How's this for Valentine's magic. Roundtrip airfare to London, three nights in one of Red Carnations unique and wonderfully-located London hotels, welcome drinks and full breakfast each day, all for $620 per person. Added bonus is early check-in and late check-out. My choice? The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, overlooking Kensington Palace, with its intimate boutique environment and superlative service. Can't escape for Valentine's? Breathe easy because this deal is available through the end of March.
The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, Official Site
The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, Five Star Alliance
For 722 bucks from LA, and 782 from NYC (and this is the airline voted #3 in the mag's readers' choice world's best international airlines!) Thanks to Travel and Leisure's Hot Deals-- which is hotter than hot, with featured deals including Belgian Bargains (winter weekend with airfare and hotel for mere pocket change) and Luxury Alaska Cruises for 3,497 bucks.
Consider this. The Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame without the summer hordes. No line at Andre's in
Atlantic-facing La Rochelle for a sumptuous poisson feast (or other decadent items from the tempting menu du jour), while gazing at the ancient ramparts and centuries-old towers jutting over the sparkling sea, even the gargoyles seeming to smile down in languid contentment. Indeed the crowds have evaporated, leaving the majestic Loire chateaux and even Versailles empty for the taking (and gaping). The icing on the cake? A temperate climate that never sees the ghastly winter lows of Washington DC, so one could even score a bit of a sun tan basking in the sun (while bundled in a trendy winter coat, of course.)
Interested in the pictured Chateau? It's dreamy, and just a hop from Bordeaux and Cognac.
Imagine our delight at hearing the recent industry buzz. After all, the Hotel de Crillon is easily our favorite hotel in Paris, and maybe in the whole of Europe. The perfect location, awash in elegance and history, with dynamite service (these guys know how to take care of you) and pretty swell dining. I'd be happy camping out here for a few days, instead of that Canal St Martin apartment. And this marvelous Palace hotel is to be the flagship of the new Crillon brand, launched by Barry Sternlicht, the former chief executive of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Their mission is to bring Crillon style European elegance to hotels around the world. God bless.
Hotel de Crillon, Official Site
Hotel de Crillon, Five Star Alliance
January 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Alps are melting. According to an important feature in the February issue of National Geographic (RUN, don't walk, to the newsstand for this one), scientists are estimating that "the Alps have lost half their glacier ice in the past century, 20 percent of that since the 1980s; glaciers in Switzerland have lost a fifth of their surface area in the past 15 years." The glaciers are receding—driving some resort owners to drastic measures like buying white blankets to cover 15 acres of glacier during the summer—and the snow has stopped falling. Which isn’t helped by the 12 million trucks and 50 million cars that cross the Alps each year, their fumes trapped in a nasty greenhouse of emissions within the valleys. This is more than bad news for the region that worldwide symbolizes a wondrous winter playground for international jetsetters and local farmers alike. There are 600 ski resorts nestled in this dramatic mountain range that stretches across eight nations, half of which are predicted to close in the coming decades. For those passionate about Alpine adventures, this means adopting a philosophy of environmental sustainability while packing your bags ASAP for St. Moritz. Badrutts Palace Hotel, of course, here in the birthplace of the Alps winter tourism.
January 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Can they send the funds to Paris Charles de Gaulle instead? The airport is the pits. I'm sure when it was constructed in the 70's, it was considered the epitome of cool. A space age vision of the future. Escalators and moving walkways ascending and descending hills through the maze of flashing white lights, crisscrossing the vast circular interior through plastic tubular structures. (The French tell me it resembles-- um-- camembert cheese.) Good luck trying to find the shuttle to the TGV. (It would require a map and pages of carefully detailed instructions.)
January 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Redeem awards for unrestricted travel on any airline? Or take those miles and stock up on goods like iPods, Bose sound systems or lux spa treatments? No, this is not a joke. Just when almost every other airline out there has raised the number of awards necessary to get a free ticket (and upped the blackout dates), Eos-- the premium airline I've obsessed over before-- has introduced a brilliant frequent-flyer program. Both Travel Weekly and the Online Travel Review are talking it up this week. (And it's easy to understand why.)