LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
August 7, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Thailand's highly popular King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament returns to the hills of the Golden Triangle in 2008. Mark your calendars for March 31-April 6, for some serious fun in the sun. Event organizer, Anantara Resorts, describes the event as wildly entertaining, ranked as the 6th largest on the Thai tourism calendar. And it's easy to understand why. A charitable event that raises money for the country's National Elephant Institute in Lampang, King's Cup Elephant Polo is chock full of celebrities, seasoned elephant polo players, colorful parades and elephants. Plus, it's location in spectacular northern Thailand showcases the natural beauty of the Golden Triangle region, home to Thailand's elephant population. Indeed Anantara Resort has its own Elephant Camp, an on-site sanctuary for these peaceful pachyderms. Located 60 kilometers north of the Chiang Rai airport, perched on a ridge overlooking the hills of Myanmar and Laos, Anantara is all about laid-back luxury. Here you can experience the refreshing chill of a Northern Thai sunrise shrouded in mountain mist; the rush of a longboat ride up the Mekong to Laos; the exhilaration of riding an elephant through bamboo jungle along the border of Burma.
PS. The sport of Elephant Polo poses no threat to the participating creatures, says the World Wildlife Fund.
First stop: Costa Rica. Steve Case is launching a new luxury resort company, Revolution Places, with an eye on environmental and cultural preservation. Only natural for a guy who grew up in Hawaii and feels passionately about not paving over paradise. The first environmentally-friendly project is an $800 million, 650-acre development in Cacique, Costa Rica, on the northwest Pacific coast. What's in store? A 120-villa One&Only resort by Sol Kerzner, who developed Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas; a 180-unit Miraval: Life in Balance-branded destination spa resort; a Tom Doak-designed golf course; and a tennis and fitness center designed by Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf. Expected to open in 2010, the resort will be designed to reduce water and energy waste, with renewable energy sources and on-site treatment facilities to reuse waste water.
The moment we've all been waiting for. The Raffles experience has arrived in the Middle East. When Raffles Dubai opens its doors in October 2007, visitors will be blown away by what's been called "the hottest hotel of the year." It's not just the exciting architecture, inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt. Raffles promises an over-the-top, high octane dose of luxury: 11 distinctive restaurants and bars with culinary delights from all over the world, 248 opulent state rooms and suites, the one-hectare Sky Garden (perfect for outdoor celebrations), and the seriously decadent RafflesAmrita Spa. Located in Wafi City, adjunct to Wafi Mall, just 10 minutes from Dubai International Airport, Raffles Dubai offers the latest technology and blissful pampering. In a city that changes by the minute, Raffles Dubai is a prominent landmark, built to last.
Ritz-Carlton Dallas isn't the only luxury hotel to get a cutting-edge new restaurant designed and branded by a celebrity chef. (Dean Fearing's been getting a lot of press for the new $6 million Fearing's Restaurant, celebrating farm-to-market.) Ritz-Carlton is also launching a fancy new eatery in their hotel on 22nd Street in Washington D.C., overseen by Michelin three-star chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York. This Fall, he will launch West End: A Bistro by Eric Ripert, which will feature casual French-American fare. (And all the bloggers-- from the Metrocurean to Zagat Buzz-- are paying heed. The true foodies, those readers of Chowhound, are also taking note.) This is part of a trend identified by USA Today. Ornate dining rooms, in all their stiff formality, are a thing of the past, as luxury hotels are looking to open brand-name restaurant concepts led by popular, super-star chefs. Examples abound:
Ritz-Carlton just opened Jeroboam restaurant with Michelin three-star chef Heinz Winkler at its Moscow property and is working with Gordon Ramsay on a restaurant for Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt near Dublin.
Heat and humidity? Bring it on! Escape to the Caribbean where cool breezes soothe and crystal clear waters calm. And with a deal like this, how could you possibly resist? From now until August 31, 2007, Cap Juluca is offering an Easy Breezy Summer offer where guests are spoiled with a fifth night free, when paying for four nights. Also included: daily breakfast, one dinner for two at the resort's Pimms restaurant, use of water sports equipment, tennis courts and the health club, nightly movies, and roundtrip transfers from the island's airport or ferry terminal. Located on the island of Anguilla just minutes from St. Maarten, this place is simply delicious. The sugary white sand beaches, dotted with swaying palms, conjure images of the picture-perfect tropical paradise. But Cap Juluca's got a lot more than pristine beaches. At this award-winning resort, there's a fitness center, bicycles and private golf carts, aqua golf driving range, putting green, croquet lawn, swimming pool, tennis courts, and endless water sports.
When new rules were established requiring U.S. citizens to carry passports for all Caribbean destinations (then relaxed again, after the worst passport waiting lines in history), savvy travelers avoided all the passport mayhem and booked vacas in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were the only two paradisiacal Caribbean destinations not affected. Old San Juan has been luring and exciting visitors with a renaissance of sorts; one of the oldest cities in the Americas has gotten a dose of South Beach glamour. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dior have opened stores along the waterfront in the Condado neighborhood. With the opening of myriad trendy restaurants and clubs, there's a cool vibe in the air. Liquid, on the top floor of the Water Club hotel, is one of the hottest spots in town. Indeed, the Water Club, named one of the coolest hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, embodies South Beach chic. San Juan's only luxury boutique on the beach, the hotel boasts floor to ceiling windows with endless ocean views. Theatrical lighting brings the outdoors indoors; elevators have waterfalls (behind glass); corridor sounds are gentle surf. Doors are made of murano glass, and there are photographs of pebbles instead of corridor carpeting. For such a fabulous hotel, the rates are surprisingly modest. With the "Turn the Page" package at the Water Club, guests are spoiled with library benefits, book selection, free iPod using during their stay, and late check-out-- all for $149 per night. Valid through September 30, 2007.
August 3, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Here's a challenge to test your luxury travel savvy. Do you know this hotel? Take a guess, leave us a comment letting us know which hotel you think this photo belongs to, and check back next week for the answer and new image.
Helpful Hints:The fundamental link between water and life, Centuries Old Moorish Architecture...
Congrats go out to Martin Rusteberg who was the only one to correctly guess our Previous Hotel Contest:
The Naladhu Resort, South Male Atoll, Maldives
Describing a trip to the Galapagos as "stunning" or "mind blowing" is a serious understatement. It's more like the trip of a lifetime. Witness the most fascinating wildlife on earth-- giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, schools of colorful fish-- a living study of evolutionary science since Charles Darwin's first fateful trip through these waters. This September, plan a voyage to the only luxury hotel in Galapagos National Park, Royal Palm Galapagos, nestled in the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Situated on 500 acres of unspoiled natural wilderness, with incredible views of the neighboring islands, this exclusive hotel was constructed of authentic local materials, in harmony with the natural environment. "You are as close to nature as luxury will allow." Enjoy a special promotional rate of 50 percent off the room rate this September 2007, which also includes breakfast, roundtrip transportation from and to Baltra Airport, and the use of the exclusive VIP lounge. Prices are a steal, starting from $173 per couple, per night.
Cowboy Up! From the same folks who run The Resort at Paws Up, comes a luxurious camping experience in the heart of Montana's high country. Experience magical Montana from the best seat in the house-- your saddle. The Luxury Equestrian Tour into the backcountry, offered by The Resort at Paws Up, is a spectacular 12-mile horseback ride which leads to a luxury wilderness camp just outside the famed Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Encampment at Bull Creek isn't exactly hot dogs and s'mores; there are well-appointed tents with real feather beds, fine linens, and artwork on the canvas walls. Gourmet cuisine is served with fine wines in the midst of America's greatest natural treasures. The 3 day/2 night adventure is an all-inclusive experience, and rates start at $600 per person, per night, and include all meals, taxes, airport transfers and guided wilderness adventures (like fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding).
Looks like United and American are still in the running. Luxury airline favorites like Eos and Maxjet have been getting a lot of press (read: a lot of business), and the major U.S. carriers are taking notice. High-paying customers have flocked to the new all-business class airlines, where spacious seats, cutting edge technology, and truly decadent meals are run of the mill. Now United and American Airlines, the nation's largest air carriers, are preparing to enter the fray with costly makeovers to get a piece of the pie. On international flights, first-class and business travelers can soon expect big lie-flat seats, ample leg room, elaborate in-flight entertainment systems, and lots of pampering and perks. These changes to business and fist-class seats will start to take place late this year and early next year.