October 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Embark on some exciting culinary adventures at The Peninsula Chicago, where Shanghai Terrace (specializing in Shanghainese and Cantonese delicacies) and the newly-renovated Avenues (contemporary cuisine served from an exhibition kitchen) woo diners with discriminating palates. With the Peninsula Chicago Cookery Classes, learn superb culinary skills from two of the top chefs in Chitown. The classes provide guests with the opportunity to prepare four signature dishes from either Shanghai Terrace or Avenues, recently named "Restaurant of the Year 2005" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Learn how to prepare mouth-watering dishes served in Avenues under the professional guidance of Graham Elliot Bowles, recently named one of the "Ten Best New Chefs" by Food and Wine magazine, and nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2006. Or master the craft behind Shanghai Terrace's delicious dishes-- from classic dim sum to kung pao chicken-- with Executive Chef Terry Crandall.
Since 1766, The Homestead has provided a luxurious escape for Princes, heads of state and sports fanatics. Located in Virginia's Allegheny mountains, the National Historic Landmark is now ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts. Folks have been flocking here since the 1700s to "take the waters" at the historic hot springs and naturally-heated pools. And they continue to flock to this timeless retreat to enjoy the world-class facilities and beautiful setting. It's the ideal spot to start or preserve a family tradition (The Homestead makes it easy with endless activities for the whole family to enjoy). Here's the skinny on all the fun holiday happenings:
Big Band Weekend: November 10-12, 2006. Dining, dancing and absolute luxury packages starting at just $314
Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebration: Special dining, holiday events and plenty of holiday spirit. Packages starting at $295.
New Year's Eve Celebration: A year that starts this way is sure to be a great one. Dance, dine and celebrate the arrival of 2007! Packages start at $375.
Mile Marker 84 marks the halfway point between Miami and Key West on the gorgeous stretch of highway that links the Florida Keys archipelago. It's also the location of the self-proclaimed, "Sport Fishing Capital of the World" (aka Islamorada). The surrounding turquoise waters boast the only tropical coral reef in the continental US. And this heavenly little spot will soon feature a Greek-themed, five-star luxury fishing resort called Ocanos. Located on 12-acres on the current site of the Holiday Isle Resort, the oceanfront Ocanos Resort will offer 151 condominium suites overlooking the sea, a sandy beach, oceanfront infinity pool, tennis, 11,000 square-foot spa and wellness center, retail shops, and world-class marina. Slated to open in early 2008.
Image Via FloridaKeys.com
One of the newest members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Hotel Maximilian is a luxurious contemporary hideaway in the heart of Prague. Located just a few steps from the Old Town Square, situated on Haštalská (perhaps the oldest street in Prague), the hotel was recently refurbished and designed by Eva Jiricna, the world-renowned architect. Interiors combine Art Deco, Modernism, and contemporary design; the hotel is graced with chrome, glass, wood, and—in the lobby—a large wall of onyx. The 70 guest rooms are comfortable, contemporary, and wholly luxurious, equipped with the latest technology and amenities. And then there's the Floating Center. Relax in a 7-meter shell-shaped bath enriched with natural crystals and experience the Dead-Sea-Effect: utter weightlessness and deep relaxation after a long flight or day of sightseeing (or business meetings). The downstairs Spa also boasts the Sabai Massage Studio, featuring traditional Thai massage.
While Dubai has become marked by unceasing construction (the hotels cropping up at an increasingly frenetic pace), the Gulf-facing country of Bahrain boasts similar awe-inspiring landscapes and pleasant climate. As suggested by the savvy travelers at The Observer:
Being an early adopter of a new destination can dramatically reduce your bill. Rather than glitzy Dubai, for example, consider the island of Bahrain. It has many of the same qualities (and fewer cranes) and is still looking to entice tourists rather than profit from them.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Villas and Spa is the natural choice for luxury travelers. Situated on the north coast of Bahrain on the seafront of Manama, the 245-room hotel is located within a lush 20-acre urban resort complex which boasts its own private island. The newly-renovated rooms feature panoramic ocean views overlooking the Arabian Gulf. White sand beach, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gorgeous spa with Thalassotherapy pool, kid's club, and nine restaurants and bars… the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain's got it all.
Announcing the 1 Hotel and Residences, the brainchild of Barry Sternlicht, former big shot at Starwood. (As HotelChatter points out, this is the same mastermind behind the yet-to-be-seen Crillon lux hotel brand.) The new hotel brand aims to compete directly with the St. Regis (Starwood's lux label), Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons brands. And Sternlicht's setting his sights high: these hotels will have a "level of amenities and service lofty enough to earn a coveted five-star ranking from Mobil Travel Guide." Hotel launch locations will include Seattle, Scottsdale, Paris, Mammoth Mountain (Cali), and Fort Lauderdale. It's a crowded field. In South Florida, for example, the St. Regis Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Residences has been under construction since 2000 and is expected to open soon, and other luxury properties—including hotels by Trump and W—are in the works. (Not to mention the already existing five-star hotels.) How will 1 Hotels distinguish itself? It's being billed as the first ultra-luxurious, eco-friendly global hotel brand. 1 is planning to donate one percent of revenue from each hotel to local environmental groups, and the NRDC will serve as the environmental adviser.
Pictured: St. Regis, Fort Lauderdale
Ride through the snow-covered parks in a traditional Russian troika. Gape at the wondrous art collection at the Hermitage, the gorgeous palace from which the tsars ruled the Empire. Attend a spectacular ballet performance at the world-renowned Mariinsky Theater. With a plethora of concert and opera performances, and cafes and bars abuzz with warmth and good cheer, St. Pete's offers the world's ultimate winter experience. Stake a room at Rocco Forte's Hotel Astoria and experience the elegance and refinement of the city's finest five-star hotel. It's location couldn't be more perfect: situated opposite the St Isaac's Cathedral in the heart of St Petersburg, just a short walk from the Hermitage. There's caviar and chilled vodka aplenty at The Caviar Bar in the hotel's Davidov restaurant, and the Spa by Clarins has a sauna, steam, and four treatment rooms.
The White Days package at the Hotel Astoria features the city's top cultural experiences, dining, and entertainment, including entrance tickets to the Hermitage, "Russian table" at Davidov restaurant, three-hour city tour in English, and massage at the spa, three nights luxurious accommodations and buffet breakfast. Starting from EUR 525 per person in a Classic Double Room. Available from November 15, 2006 to March 31, 2007 (excluding the days around New Years).
What could be better than a few days retreat at the exclusive Peter Island resort? Add to that a few nights onboard the luxurious 41' sailing yacht Silmaril. Peter Island has devised the picture-perfect way to experience the best the Caribbean has to offer. By boat, explore the crystal-clear waters of the British Virgin Islands, and on land, discover the 1,300 acres of lush tropical island, and get pampered in style at the sophisticated luxury resort considered one of the best hotels in the world. (Added bonus: the new, swanky $6 million Spa.) The Ashore/Afloat package includes accommodations, full American plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), private lunch on a nearby secluded beach, unlimited use of facilities/activies (tennis, hobie cats, windsurfing, fitness center) and airport transfers. From November 1, 2006 to December 19, 2006, the four night package starts from $4,659. (Seven nights start at $6,401). From January 4 to April 15, 2007, the package rates are $5,330 and $7,925 respectively. All rates are based on double occupancy.
Yep, it's in a mall. But Maestro restaurant, housed in the Ritz-Carlton at Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia, is worth it. (Besides, Tysons is pretty swanky as far as malls are concerned.) This is contemporary Italian cuisine at its tasty and artistic best. A winner of the exclusive AAA five-diamond award, Maestro is a celebrated and highly-acclaimed venue which features an elegant open kitchen where guests are witness to food preparation that's more like an exquisite culinary performance. Zagat hails Chef Fabio Trabocchi as a "star," his talents matched by the fantastic sommelier Vincent Feraud. The restaurant's accolades are numerous and it's really no wonder: the menu is divided into Trabocchi's four culinary inspirations-- La Creazione, La Tradizione, L'Evoluzione and I Colori dell'Orto—showcasing the freshest of ingredients in the chef's creative interpretation of the regional Italian dishes that he grew up with. Plus there's an impressive wine cellar brimming with 800 wines from Italy, France, and the US.
It's on the market for a whopping $70 million. According to the Times UK, the penthouse is being marketed as the most expensive apartment in the world:
The French chateau inspired flat has 16 rooms, including five master bedrooms, 10 baths, and separate guest suites and staff accommodation. But there is no need to cook. The Pierre's five star hotel service is available 24 hours a day.
This could be the best spot in Manhattan. The Pierre, New York's landmark hotel, is located on Central Park at Fifth Avenue, steps away from all the best NYC attractions. The Penthouse boasts easily the best views in the city: sweeping vistas of Central Park and the city skyline.