LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
November 30, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
Now this is a hotel that understands the building blocks to success: Take a universally loved children’s toy, add just the right amount of kitsch, and make it a family-themed resort, and all of a sudden, you’ve got the perfect destination. According to HotelChatter, the Legoland in the UK is opening in March with an attendant Windsor Resort hotel. And this hotel is taking the theme of the park seriously. Making use of 1,600 different lego models assembled by their team of expert builders, more than 80 million blocks will be used in the hotel design (don’t worry none of them are structurally vital). Not only that, the rooms are themed around the traditional lego settings, including everyone’s favorite, pirates.
You might not think of Lego has a traditional luxury brand, and they certainly aren't making an attempt at super luxury; roughly 250 euros gets you a family room, park tickets for two days, free breakfast, and an early-bird pass in the low season; but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better kids-oriented destination. And if you hail from the other side of the pond, you need not worry. The California Legoland will be rolling out a similar Lego-themed hotel in 2013.
Photo via Legoland
November 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Need to get cleaned up for your company's annual holiday party? Hot-foot it to The Langham London, where you'll get a serious pick-me-up at the swank Chuan Spa.* They've just launched a revolutionary new spa treatment... and jade stones are involved. Long prized in China by the Imperial Court (and crafted into objets d'art by skilled artisans), jade is celebrated for its healing and restorative properties. The 75-minute Chuan Yu Facial is designed for the ultimate in skin rejuvenation, using jade to stimulate and massage facial acupoints with the Ancient Gua Sha technique-- one of China’s traditional national therapies used by Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors for relieving blocked meridians. The facial eliminates toxins and improves blood circulation- meaning you'll look and free great. Starting off with a short breathing ritual to aid relaxation, the treatment also includes a nourishing face mask, a full facial hydrating ritual and ear auricular therapy to help stimulate internal organs. The Chuan Yu facial costs £100.
*The Langham's Chuan Spa opened earlier this year to much fanfare.
November 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Not content with Geneva's own splendid holiday decorations, La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa has gone above and beyond the call of Christmas duty. The ultra-luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva will be installing its very own private ice rink and Christmas market-style winter chalets on the property. Starting December 13, 2011 and running until February 26, 2012, La Réserve Genève will morph into a true winter wonderland where guests can glide across the ice (or book skating lessons!), then sip hot mulled wine or Champagne in the festive winter chalets. The chic waitstaff will supply blankets to ward off the chill in the air, and serve holiday treats like crêpes, waffles, oysters, and caviar. The best part of all? This Winter Wonderland has spectacular views of Lake Geneva and the snow-capped mountains beyond.
A two-night weekend stay at La Réserve Genève starts from $1,076 (based on two sharing a double room) and includes full use of all hotel facilities including the spa, fitness center, swimming pool, indoor tennis courts, and the Winter Wonderland.
November 21, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's official. The Rezidor Hotel Group is one of the fastest growing hotel companies worldwide. The latest property to join their expansive portfolio? The Radisson Blu Park Hotel, Athens- which will open in a matter of weeks in the Greek capital. Formerly called the Athens Park Hotel, the 152-room property is located opposite the "Pedion Areos," Athens' largest park, and is next to the National Archaeological Museum. This address in the northern part of the city center is convenient to museums, shops, and restaurants, with the Acropolis just a short walk away. Guests of the Radisson Blu can enjoy a rooftop swimming pool with staggering views over Athens. The hotel also has the Gallo Nero restaurant, the Oak Room bar, St'Astra rooftop restaurant, and two conference rooms. This is the first Radisson Blu in Greece, and Rezidor now has properties in 65 countries across Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Up next: the Radisson Blu Grand Canaria Resort, Spain and Radisson Blu Uppsala, Sweden in 2012.
Want to spice things up for Christmas this year? Hop the pond to the most visited city on earth for some raucous merrymaking-- French-style. The Champs-Élysées will be sparkling with lights, the street markets fragrant with hot mulled wine, the department stores dazzling with over-the-top window displays. What are you waiting for? Paris awaits you with open arms. Bed down at Le Meurice- the majestic palace hotel facing the Jardin des Tuileries- and you'll be privy to some fun festivities, as the hotel decks the halls with colorful decorations and goes all out in the food department. Best part of all: Santa will be pulling up his sleigh at Le Meurice for three Wednesdays in December, starting December 7, to give gifts to the kids at teatime.
The hotel is offering a special package for Christmas, available from December 1- December 28, 2011, starting from 560 euros, which includes accommodations (upgrade guaranteed at booking time) and American breakfast for two guests, Champagne and petits fours amenities, a Christmas gift for children, and free access to the wellness centre, Sauna, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi.
For his first eponymous hotel, Giorgio Armani didn't exactly go about it quietly. He chose the tallest building in the world-- the towering Burj Khalifa-- as the setting for the sleek Armani Hotel Dubai, which embodies the fashion mogul's sophisticated style even in the tiniest of details. Now Armani has done it again-- this time with a brand new "palazzo" hotel in his home town of Milan. Situated on via Manzoni in the city's designer shopping district, the Armani Hotel Milan recently held a star-studded opening gala where celebs like Jessica Alba donned their finest Armani apparel.
Conde Nast Traveller says: "Giorgio Armani has created a home from home, or casa della casa, for suitably stylish guests in Milan. Interiors are perfectly in keeping with Armani/Casa's sleek style and his clothing line; a continuation of his ocean-inspired Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection - think silver and sophisticated gold." Luxury Travel Advisor is smitten with the suites that come with private gyms and personal kitchens. "Each guest is assigned his or her personal "lifestyle manager," (think 24/7 butler). There is a rooftop spa with Japanese onsen-style Jacuzzi and gym overlooking the Duomo and La Scala (posh indeed!)."
November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Looking to get inspired for your next getaway? The savvy editors at Fodor's have just released their first-ever list of the world's best hotels. After careful deliberation, the team of Fodor's editors and writers curated the "Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011" spanning eight hotel categories. Here's a sampling of some of our favorites that made the cut.
November 7, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
To the disappointment of the Hollywood celebs and business tycoons who bunk down at The Gritti Palace while staying in Venice, the iconic luxury hotel has shuttered its palatial doors for a 15-month restoration. When it reopens in 2013, this Starwood Luxury Collection hotel is guaranteed to still have its magnificent historic features and design elements (original Rubelli Venetian textiles and unique furniture custom designed by Donghia and inspired by Venetian Rococo couches and pozzetti). But it will also flaunt up-to-the-minute technology and all the latest contemporary conveniences. The finest craftsmen have been enlisted for this meticulous renovation project. Located on the Grand Canal and housed inside a 16th century palazzo, The Gritti Palace is a fixture on Travel + Leisure magazine's "T+L 500" list of top-rated hotels around the globe.
For other accommodations options in Venice, check out our recommended hotels.
We've been waiting with bated breath to find out which talented designer would nab the prestigious Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. The luxury hotel group-- celebrated for iconic hotels in urban centers in Europe and the U.S.-- launched the Fashion Prize to honor the work of young designers- and it's gotten some serious buzz in the press. Just this past weekend, the prize was bestowed in The Rodeo Ballroom at The Beverly Hills Hotel after a runway presentation featuring models from cycle 18 of America's Next Top Model. (The event was filmed for an upcoming episode to be aired in spring 2012.) After much deliberation, the judges chose the collection by Anndra Neen as best representing “the spirit of individuality, luxury, style and craftsmanship" of The Dorchester Collection's hotels. Anndra Neen received $40,000 and will have the opportunity to display their work at the fabulous Hôtel Plaza Athénée (pictured) during Paris Fashion Week in 2012.
Nothing whets our appetite for travel more than the annual destination lists by top travel guides. Frommer's recently released their "Top Destinations for 2012" after its editors, authors, and experts spent "months bickering" among themselves. They also reached out to readers to find out their travel plans for the coming year, with Turkey the clear winner at 51% of the vote (Paris, Italy, and Hawaii also got high marks). The USA Today has summarized the list, including explanations about each destination from Frommers.com editorial director David Lytle.
Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, "as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives."
Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it's a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.
Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you've done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.
Beirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. "It's an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation," Lytle says.
Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it's also on the heritage trail for African Americans.
London's Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it's bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party's over.
Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It's also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It's a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.
Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it's central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.
Yucatan Peninsula – There's more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it's been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico's western reaches.