LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Now's your chance to stay in a genuine Ottoman Palace, Turkey's only imperial palace hotel, for a mere EUR 215 a night. Get luxury for less this winter 2008 with special weekend rates available at Istanbul's most glamorous hotel. Overlooking the Bosphorous Sea, the 282-room Ciragan Palace-- the former home of a line of Ottoman sultans-- was restored by the Kempinski Group for over $100 million in the 1990s. You'll find a lobby decked out in 19th century marble and mother-of-pearl. The stone latticework and marble colonnade of the façade were recreated by hand from materials salvaged onsite. Besides the glorious views, you'll enjoy a marvelous infinity pool (heated during the winter time), authentic Turkish Hammam, fine cuisine, and personal butler. Special winter weekend rates are priced at EUR 215 in a Park View room, and EUR 287 for a Bosphorous View Room. Valid Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday until March 31, 2008.
January 28, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
More than $18 billion in upscale and luxury lodging facilities changed hands in 2007, according to Stephen Hennis, Managing Director of Hospitium. A total of 279 properties were traded last year and The Point at Saranac Lake in upstate New York garnered the highest price per room in 2007 at more than $2.7 million per room. With only 11 rooms on the property - $2.7 million per room is a steal when you consider that it has received the Mobil 5 Star award and is a member of Relais and Chateaux. Nightly room rates (they start around $1400 per night) are all-inclusive for two people, with carte blanche use of sports equipment and facilities, as well as three meals, afternoon tea, unlimited wine, liquor, and liqueurs from help-yourself bars open 24 hours a day. In the heart of the Adirondacks - on the shore of Upper Saranac Lake, The Point can be reached in six hours from Manhattan and three hours from Albany, New York. The hotel has a "Great Camp" motif with no phones and no televisions - definitely geared for people to get away.
By: Courtney W. May
Steal away to London and spoil yourself with a stay at one of the capital's chicest hotels: The Berkeley, the deluxe Knightsbridge retreat that's home to Madonna's favorite Blue Bar and rooftop spa with glorious views over Hyde Park; Claridge's, known as London's art deco jewel, situated in the heart of Mayfair; The Connaught, the stylish hideaway that quietly re-opened in December after a multi-million pound restoration which brought together some of the world's finest designers and artisans. At these three Maybourne Hotels, you'll be spoiled by staff who accommodate every whim. During the month of February 2008, choose the Truly Madly Deeply package and you'll get one nights luxurious accommodation including English breakfast, a bottle of champagne, a fresh basket of fruit, roses in your room and bathrobes for the special couple. Starting from just GBP 395 per night.
Ian Schrager's newest masterpiece has been the talk of the town since its 2006 opening. "Dazzling," "showstopping," "searingly hot"... Gramercy Park has established itself as one of NY's most happening hotspots. The eclectic, candle-lit Rose Bar was voted "Best Hotel Bar in New York City" by Citysearch 2007, and the Jade Bar is likewise an original and exciting public space, filled with custom-designed furniture by Julian Schnabel. And now the eagerly-anticipated new restaurant, Wakiya Gramercy Park Hotel, is dazzling diners with an innovative take on Chinese cooking, inspired by the traditional food of Shanghai, Szechuan, Canton and Beijing done from a Japanese culinary perspective. (Read: it's both healthy AND delicious!) Chef Yuji Wakiya is the man behind this new genre of Chinese cuisine; he was introduced to Ian Schrager by Nobu Matsuhisa. Don't miss the incredible Dim Sum Brunch. For reservations, call 212-995-1330.
No plans for Valentine's Day? Richmond's historic jewel, simply brimming with Old World charm, has saved the day with a perfect Valentine's Day package. The Jefferson is one of the finest hotels in America and its romantic setting-- grand public rooms, sumptuous guest rooms and gracious service-- makes it easy to feel the love. Book the "Romance Package" and you'll get champagne and strawberries upon your arrival, one dozen red roses, a full American breakfast (via room service) and valet parking. All for just $350 a night in a Deluxe Room. For a Studio Suite, the package is priced at $450 per night.
January 25, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
With 70 properties worldwide, Starwood's Luxury Collection is a group of unique hotels and resorts offering exceptional service to an ultra elite clientèle. Located in over 25 countries (even Ethiopia), the collection offers resorts, city-center high-rises, centuries old buildings, modern boutique properties, over water bungalows, and more. A current favorite of mine is the Hotel Danieli in Venice. Made up of 3 interconnecting palaces - Dandolo Palace, Casa Nuova, and Danielino - the Danieli is steps away from Piazza San Marco, Doge's Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs. A great choice for special occasions and first visits to Venice are the Lagoon view rooms (pictured), some of which have a balcony - all are beautifully decorated in Empire or Venetian style and offer romantic views of the Venice lagoon.
NOTE: Guests making reservations at Hotel Danieli through Five Star Alliance will receive a traditional English high tea once during stay and, based on availability, a one category room upgrade at check-in. Pretty snazzy.
By: Courtney W. May
The legendary après-ski scene at The Little Nell in Aspen is about to hit the road. Rumor has it that the five-star Little Nell is expanding as a brand, with other hotels slated for Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Snowmass. This is great news for Little Nell devotees, who have come to see the luxurious accommodations and impeccable service at The Little Nell as a benchmark for ski resorts worldwide.
TripAdvisor and Budget Travel have partnered together to create the first-ever Budget Travel Best Values awards. These are the world's best luxury hotels with an average nightly rate of $250 or less. Winners were selected based on TripAdvisor's Popularity Index, and the average nightly rates were calculated with four different weeks throughout the year, during peak and off-peak periods.
It's not surprising to see the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur on the top 10 list. In a lower priced city like Kuala Lumpur, you'll find a real luxury value at the Mandarin Oriental, where rooms are extravagant, the spa is plush, and the infinity pool has views overlooking the lush 50-acre Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Park. Plus, this award-winning hotel boasts two outdoor tennis courts and fine dining options galore. And the location is truly unbeatable: at the base of Petronas Towers and linked to the KLCC.
Voted No. 1 hotel in Rome on Travel+Leisure's list of the 500 best luxury hotels in the world, the Hotel Hassler has been wowing visitors for over a century. Perched atop the Spanish Steps, the Hotel Hassler promises an unforgettable stay in an enviable location. Take advantage of some unbeatable special offers available in the Eternal City. When you book the Magic Roma package, you can score rates as low as EUR 410 per night in a Classic Room. Stay over Valentine's Day and you'll luck out with an extraordinary dinner. The menu's got tantalizing tasters like pan-friend scallops with seasoned Cinta Senese bacon and white asparagus, black cabbage ravioli and ginger burrata cheese with hazelnut foie gras, and saffron pasta veils with crab. (EUR 155 per person)
At the end of the month, the Mobil Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond Inn at Little Washington will celebrate its 30th anniversary. As I've gushed before, this place is-- quite possibly-- America's most celebrated restaurant. Last summer, we checked out the Inn's latest addition: Claiborne House, "a 3,200-square-foot cottage just a stone's throw from the Inn's main building, overlooking a newly-created herb and cutting garden. With two bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, living room, dining room, media room, and library, this "cottage" is quite the hideaway. Above the private garden out back, there's a lovely two-story veranda. Patrick O'Connell, the proprietor and chef, has long championed local, organic growing, and The Inn is now working on becoming a self-sufficient farmstead with a cherry orchard (used for jellies and clafouti desserts in the restaurant), bee colony, and vegetable gardens. O'Connell has developed a network of local farmers who custom-grow vegetables for his kitchen.