LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
January 31, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
With 70 properties worldwide, Starwood's Luxury Collection is a group of unique hotels and resorts offering exceptional service to an ultra-elite clientèle. One of those classic luxury properties is the Hotel Pulitzer. Overlooking two of the city's most picturesque canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, Hotel Pulitzer is ideally located in the middle of the old city center of Amsterdam. This unique property is comprised of 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses. Each of the 230 distinctive guest rooms represents a small piece of Dutch history and culture. And although the hotel does have the historical feel and look, it also offers all the upgraded facilities and services of today - like wifi Internet, air conditioning, and full fitness facilities.
PS - I know the above title is cheesy - I had to do it - give me a break.
January 30, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
People are frequently confused over the terms "ocean view" versus "ocean front" as found in hotel room descriptions. Most beach resorts will try to best describe the room views to make sure guests are fully informed. In the rate terms, oceanfront (Cambridge Beaches pictured at left) means that you will have the best possible ocean views from your windows and, if available, balcony. Your room will be directly facing the ocean - frontage views. Of course, ocean-front rooms are always the most expensive as well. But if your idea is to lay in bed and look out over the ocean, these are the rooms that will guarantee you that opportunity.
On the other hand oceanview rooms (Cambridge Beaches pictured) will have some possible view of the ocean - whether it is out certain window to the side, available at an angle, or seen from the side of your balcony. Ocean-view usually guarantees at least a sliver of ocean will be seen from somewhere inside, or even directly outside, your room. If seeing the ocean is really important to you - then you definitely need to reserve an ocean front room to be on the safe side and get the best possible views.
Now's the time to jet to the Cote d'Azur for the biggest event of the season: The Carnival of Nice. Think crazy, colorful costumes, parades and pageantry, floats and fireworks on the Promenade des Anglais. The two-week extravaganza runs from February 16 – March 2, 2008. The place to stay is the elegant La Perouse Hotel, where rates can be found as low as EUR 130 per night in mid-February during the Carnival. Tucked into the hillside below the chateau and just a stroll from Old Nice, this charming hotel overlooks the Mediterranean. (These views of the Baie des Anges are what inspired artists like Matisse.) Note: If you book with Five Star Alliance, you get complimentary in-room continental breakfast.
Roses and bubbly? Chocolates, pink hearts, hovering cupids? Who needs 'em! Valentine's Day looms but you can dodge that bullet with a perfectly-timed European escape to the Eternal City. The Hotel FortySeven in Rome has tailored a Made for Singles package perfect for you and your pals. Situated in Rome's historical center just across from the Temple of Vesta inside the Roman Forum, the Hotel FortySeven is a sleek boutique hotel where each of the five floors is dedicated to a 20th century Italian master: Mastroianni, Greco, Modigliani, Quagliata and Guccione. From each and every guest room, the city views are priceless. There's a beautifully landscaped Roof Garden, a downstairs Lounge for conversation and cocktails, and a gym with a Turkish bath. The offer includes two nights in a Deluxe Room or Suite, daily buffet breakfast, welcome drinks upon arrival, and your choice of a personal shopper for 2 hours or a personal trainer for 1 hour. Available from February 1- March 31, 2008, and July 15- August 31, 2008 (black-out dates: March 13-16, and March 22-24). Priced from EUR 650.
January 30, 2008
By: Christina Vasquez
For a first time visit to New York City, I have to say that ours was amazing. Not only were we able to spend the Christmas holiday in one of the most exciting cities in the world, but we were also able to stay at one of the most fashionably chic boutique hotels. The Bryant Park hotel is conveniently located in midtown and walking distance from major New York sites such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and major shopping on 5th avenue.
We were surprised at the contrast between the classic architecture of the exterior of Bryant Park and the ultra chic décor of the interior. We stayed in a Deluxe Room, which was very modern and stylish, with simple detail and a pleasing color palette. Be advised though that the Deluxe Room Categories do not have park views; however this did not make us enjoy our room any less. The plush bathrobes, the spa-grade sunken bath tub, Soundscape sleep machine, plasma screen television, and BOSE Sound system more than made up for the lack of park view. My only disappointment: the hotel's bar/lounge, Cellar, was closed during our stay (It's closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) - we visited Underbar at the W Hotel instead. That aside, the hotel's staff was courteous and unpretentious, and our concierge, Marco, was extremely helpful in getting us last-minute reservations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner at two wonderful restaurants!
Just yesterday the Mobil Travel Guide came out with 2008's list of Four- and Five-star hotels, restaurants and spas. And they've been at it for 50 years! (Bon anniversaire.) Notable winners include: The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs (the longest running property on the Five-Star list with some 48 years!), The Tower at Wynn Las Vegas (the only casino-hotel in the world with this badge), and Deer Valley's Stein Eriksen Lodge (the first ever Utah hotel to garner this award). The other Mobil Five-Star virgins are the Boston Harbor Hotel, The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, and the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole.
Beat the winter blues and bring your valentine to the beach! Book the Seaside Serenity package at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and you have a $200 resort credit to play with. Choose a candle-lit dinner for two, indulgent massages from the Ocean Spa & Fitness Center, a personalized consultation or yoga classes... The sky's the limit at this Santa Monica favorite, just a block from the soft sandy beach. Custom-designed rooms are so fabulous, you'll be content to just lounge around in your "Ultimate Doeskin" robes by Chadsworth & Haig, and smother yourself with the sumptuous 300 thread-count sheets, while checking out the Pacific views. The package includes one night's stay in a premium ocean view room, a special romance welcome amenity, and the $200 credit to be used towards meals, spa, fitness and/or retail. Priced from $499 per night, available February 11- February 21, 2008.
Pssst. You can bring your pup; Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is pet-friendly!
Scottsdale's hip mid-century landmark-- the original hide-away for Bogart, Bing and Marilyn-- just got a new addition. Hotel Valley Ho recently opened The Tower, an elite boutique hotel soaring above this urban resort. The ultimate luxury experience, complete with personal shopper and private chef service, can be yours at The Tower. In the guest rooms, floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide sweeping panoramic views. Other room highlights include a custom-swivel plasma-screen TV, 1950s-design chairs, stainless steel hardware, a fully-equipped kitchen, and dazzling bright-yellow cabinets. Plus there's an entertainment system with an iPod satellite and free Wifi. Every guest is afforded VIP status; you'll get a management escort to your room for check-in without ever stopping at the front desk.
January 29, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
It's summer in South Africa and the perfect time to visit the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. Not just because the views are amazing and the weather is awesome, but because the fantastic golden sand beaches are just minutes away. They are also perfect locations to enjoy a picnic lunch. Guests who visit the Twelve Apostles making reservations through Five Star Alliance will receive an extensive "Fynbos Picnic Hamper" with food, treats, and drinks once during their stay. Whether you are traveling with a significant other, family, pet, or friends - Twelve Apostles can accommodate everyone and is barely ten minutes from the bustling heart of Cape Town, with nearby attractions including prime diving spots, nature trails, and seals, dolphins, whales and penguins.
By: Courtney W. May
January 28, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It all started back in 1963 with The Madison in Washington D.C., when the capital's landmark hotel decided to introduce a novelty: the in-room mini-bar! Fabulously convenient, stocked full of helpful items, the mini-bar is now universally appreciated (late-night snack binging!) and abhorred (scandalous overpricing!). Since its debut, the mini-bar has come a long way. In an era of truly over-the-top hotel amenities (baby butler service, pet pampering, unpacking and bath service), the mini-bar has been completely made over and sexed up.
Hotel Victor in Miami offers all kinds of decadent treats. A hotel this cool-- furnished by celebrity designer Jacques Garcia with retro furniture and an illuminated moon jellyfish tank in the lobby-- has gone one step further by introducing full-size in-room bars, stocked with a large range of liquor and "South Beach life-style essentials" like chilled eye masks.
The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta caters to female guests with practical items like stockings and nail-polish remover. Gentlemen, don't despair when you forget socks at home! The mini-bar is stocked with fresh pairs of black socks to match your dark suits.
Omni Hotels created Sensation Bars in cities like New York, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco with all sorts of items to create soothing mini-spa treatments in-room. Think sleep inducing CDs, lavender pillow sprays, eucalyptus bath salts and mini Zen gardens.
But the biggest trend of late is sex kits in the mini-bar. NY's 60 Thompson and Miami's Sagamore may have "Shag Bags," and the Montalembert in Paris has a "petite love box," but the Hotel Gansevoort has ticklers!
On a recent trip to New York, we snapped these shots of the goodies on-hand at the Hotel Mela and Gramercy Park Hotel. The mini-bar at Hotel Mela isn't refrigerated; instead you'll find a basket spilling delicious snacks, drinks, and an "Intimacy Kit." What's inside? Lifestyles, lubricant, and individually wrapped life savers. (We just couldn't resist buying one. As a *cough* souvenir...)
The mini-bar at Gramercy Park is nothing short of awesome (check out the pix). T-shirts, sweet treats... They've also got an Intimacy Kit, of course, but it's as classy as they come. And if things get too rowdy, there's a first-aid kit, to boot.
Curious? Be careful when you take that item from the mini-bar! Most of today's "smart" minibars have infra-red sensors (or wireless technology, found at the sophisticated Willard Intercontinental in Washington D.C.) that automatically records your purchase on your bill when you reach for, say, a bag of M&M's or something equally as tempting...
Photos Via Courtney May (top to bottom: mini-bar of Gramercy Park, Gramercy Park, Hotel Mela)