Take advantage of a special discount of 35 percent off published rack rates from July 1 through September 15, 2007 at the AAA five diamond Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Located in a charming Spanish-style town just 35 miles south of Santa Barbara on the Gold Coast, Ojai is considered one of California's best kept secrets. Housed in a whitewashed adobe building, draped in bougainvillea blossoms, with fountain courtyards and working fireplaces, Ojai Valley Inn is impossibly romantic. Rated in the top 25 of US resorts by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, the historic resort recently emerged from a $90 million renovation and expansion. Many of the 308 guest rooms have fireplaces and private balconies overlooking the golf course and nearby Topa Topa mountains. Amenities include two heated swimming pools, tennis courts, ranch, Art Studio (with classes in a variety of media), Camp Ojai for the kids, the 31,000 square foot Spa Ojai, one of the top 10 spas in America, and the classic 1923 golf course which has been the host site of Senior PGA Tour events.
When Four Seasons opened its luxury camp in Thailand's Golden Triangle, it launched a new travel trend for adventure-seekers to "rough it" without denying the creature comforts. Five-star tents, like tree houses, are outfitted with teak wood floors, hand-hammered copper tubs, outdoor rain showers, and sundecks with day beds. Guests discover the mysteries of the Golden Triangle-- the region wedged between northern Thailand, Burma and Laos-- on three or four-night adventures: elephant-trekking through the tropical jungle, hiking mountain trails, venturing out on river excursions down the mighty Mekong, discovering the cultures of the hill tribes. But perhaps the best part of the experience is the elephant rescue program. The six elephants at the Four Seasons Golden Triangle were rescued from city streets and now play an important role at the camp. Guests have the opportunity to help by making donations to the elephant adoption program.
When the Royal reopened in 2003, the legendary five-star hotel was reborn in the heart of Budapest. Since its dazzling renovation, the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal has won a slew of awards, including TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice Awards for the Best Luxury Hotel-World. Step into the lobby, outfitted in Italian marble, and marvel at the hotel's aesthetic grandeur. The Royal Spa is likewise opulent, first opened in 1886 and painstakingly restored before its reopening in July 2006. Take the waters in the original pool-- the spa's centerpiece. Lined with mosaic tiles, the pool features a painted glass ceiling, wrought-iron balcony, and walls decorated with Zsolnay ceramic. The splendid spa offers state-of-the-art facilities including saunas, steam room, jacuzzis, massage and treatment rooms, fitness facility, Niagara bath tubs, tropical showers, mud baths, and seaweed baths. Available exclusively for adults over 16 years of age. Younger guests are welcome to use the spa facilities at the hotel's sister property, the Corinthia Aquincum Hotel.
With the Stork Package, moms-to-be can spoil themselves on a pregnancy weekend at the Conrad Chicago, the perfect urban oasis located in the heart of Chicago on the Magnificent Mile. Unwind without having to leave the comfort of your own room with a foot/leg massage and pedicure or a pre-natal massage. Fabulous treats included in the package: a plush pregnancy pillow, crazy-craving amenity for those 24/7 pickle urges, and belly casting kit upon departure. In addition, Conrad Chicago offers a Nordstrom personal shopper to select the latest newborn trends for your baby clothes. Rates start from $375 per night, available until December 31, 2007. Additional enhancements-- like Bath Butler service and in-room facials-- can be arranged with an additional fee.
Buy two nights and get a third for free at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, the beautiful, award-winning hotel situated on a mountain top in the Vail Valley, boasting sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains. This Fourth of July, enjoy a luxurious escape to the Lodge and experience the acclaimed Avanyu Spa and six signature golf courses, designed by several of the greatest names in golf (Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Tom Fazio, Dave Pelz, and Greg Norman). Plus, Beaver Creek hosts a free July Fourth concert and fireworks show.
There's never a bad time to visit the French capital, but summertime brings a host of music concerts, the Paris Cinéma festival (showcasing a diversity of films in cinemas around the city from July 3-14), and the famous Paris Plages-- when urbanites flock to the sand along the Seine for serious sun-worshipping, replete with deckchairs, loungers, and umbrellas (July 19-August 20). Beach volleyball games take place on the sand court in front of the Hôtel de Ville.
Stop by the George Pompidou Centre, which celebrates its 30th anniversary with cutting-edge exhibitions. Stroll down Champs-Élysées and indulge in an ice cream break at the new international showcase for Häagen-Dazs. The three floor-establishment features a chic 200 seat terrace (the largest on this storied avenue), special tastings, cooking classes with the chefs, and the Ice Bäar on the top floor, where you can delight in ice-cream-based cocktails and take in panoramic views while listening to the DJ's sounds. Forget the Metro, the city now boasts a self-service bicycle lending program called Vélib', so you can navigate your way through Paris's magical streets, taking in the architecture and diverse districts-- all for free!
Let's not forget Les Soldes, when even the most bashful of Parisians hit the streets in a frenzied shopping spree. In July, the summer sales dazzle bargain hunters and fashionistas who can score impressive discounts of up to 70 percent off in the city's luxurious establishments. Treat yourself to a new chic French wardrobe (totally guilt-free!)
Make like Carrie Bradshaw and book a room at Hotel Plaza Athénée, the elegant landmark hotel which has become synonymous with Parisian style. Splurge on a meal at the hotel's award-winning restaurant, overseen by world-renowned Chef Alain Ducasse.
PS. Giorgio Armani's new luxury boutique-- a minimalist space with onyx walls, black Plexiglass ceiling, and grey silk wall murals-- is located right across the street on the avenue Montaigne.
Come January, the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong will stop operating. In its place, a high-rise commercial office building will loom over the city. Though not as fabled as The Peninsula, the Ritz-Carlton was known for its timeless elegance and outstanding amenities, like the complimentary Romantic Concierge, six restaurants, and extensive catering to female business travelers. But what we'll miss the most is the heated outdoor pool, the only one in the downtown area. Fans of Ritz-Carlton will be relieved to know that the company has two other properties under development in the region: a hotel-casino in Macau (of course) and another hotel in Kowloon's International Commerce Center. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the 116-storey Kowloon property will be the world's tallest hotel (1575 feet).
The Caribbean coastline south of Cancun has become a favorite beachfront hideaway, brimming with luxury eco-resorts, fascinating Mayan ruins, and the happening nightlife in Playa del Carmen. The place to stay is Maroma resort, nestled in hundreds of acres of secluded jungle next to the soft sandy beaches and turquoise sea. In this luxurious haven, inclusive amenities are numerous-- like daily breakfast, welcome cocktail, and snorkeling trip to the extensive coral reefs just offshore. There's a beautiful spa, new restaurant, al fresco bar, pool and Jacuzzi. With the Stay Another Day in Paradise promotion, stay for four nights, but only pay for three. Rates start at $435 per night in a Garden Room. Valid until November 7, 2007.
Taking a cue from Fodor's Hot List, we're focusing our gaze across the pond at the London Langham Hotel's glamorous new bar, Artesian. Designed by David Collins Studio, this chic new hot spot is decked out in embossed leather seats, a lilac marble bar, timber chandeliers, and ornate, mirrored wall paneling. The cocktail menu is simply luxurious, with lots of delicious drinks specializing in rum. (Try the Hot Buttered Rum, a relaxing, buttery drink served with Myer's rum, clove-infused apricot brandy, hot water, cloves, and a spoonful of homemade cream.) Here, the creative mixologists craft timeless classics and Artesian signature cocktails, like the Good Night Chihuahua, a twist in the seminal Tommy's Margarita recipe, using Sotol Reposado, homemade chamomile syrup and fresh lime juice, served on the rocks. But as Fodor's points out, "if tongues are wagging over Artesian, it's not because of the décor or the celebrity guests, it's because of the "energized" ice cubes: they're denser and colder than most, so cocktails stay potent longer." Talk about indulgence.
Believe the hype. Travel sybarites go gaga over this cool designer hotel, located in the seaside port of Rimini in Italy's Emilia-Romagna coast (birthplace of Fellini, the film director). Internationally renowned designer Ron Arad, known for his metal furniture and for the cool design of the 6th floor of Madrid's Hotel Puerta America, went all out with his flashy, futuristic vision for the duoMo hotel. Unconventional to say the least. Walk past doors designed like pinball-machine flippers into the lobby, where the enormous front desk (pictured) looms like a stainless steel spaceship. As quoted in Travel and Leisure, Arad has said of his hotel: "I do not want to make people feel at home, because they’re not at home." The 43 guest rooms feature the latest in technology and design. Pod-shaped bathrooms have glass walls, custom-made designer toiletries, and LCD screens. A young, hip clientele flock to the lobby bar, NoMi, to taste tapas-style small plates and groove to cool tunes spun by live DJs from Miami, Ibiza, and NY.