As the New Zealand Herald reports, luxury travel in kiwi territory is booming. Lodges like Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau, Blanket Bay and Huka Lodge are glam destination resorts that play host to celebs (laying low), oil tycoons, and the international jet-set. The cat's out of the bag about the remote Pacific islands whose breathtaking scenery played center stage in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings flicks. Our pick? The luxurious hideaway of Blanket Bay, with its magnificent setting next to Lake Wakatipu, beneath snow-capped peaks. Earning top accolades from CNT, Forbes, and the Sunday Times UK, Blanket Bay offers 12 secluded rooms and suites, constructed of timber and stone and filled with sumptuous furnishings. The suites boast exquisite views from large private terraces. Likewise, the mountain and lake vistas are phenomenal from the outdoor heated lap pool. Activities range from the adrenaline-pumping (jetboating and heli-skiing) to the calm and relaxing (excellent health and spa facilities).
Blanket Bay, Official Site
Blanket Bay, Five Star Alliance
Top-quality spas abound, but the Aji Spa is sublime. Named for the Pima word for "sanctuary," the 17,500 sq ft spa features treatments derived from the ancient Native American cultural tradition. Specifically, treatments like the Blue Coyote Wrap and the Blue Bird Facial are inspired by longstanding Pima lore and utilize ingredients like red clay from the Gila River and Cholla cactus bud to help purify the body. Additionally, the Ho'dai (or River Rock Massage) uses the hot river stones (naturally smooth) that the Pima and Maricopa have used for centuries to alleviate pain. With 17 treatment rooms, fitness center, relaxing watsu pool and a traditional roundhouse, the Aji Spa is surrounded by Arizona's stunning natural scenery, only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix.
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Official Site
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Five Star Alliance
Now is the time to discover the legendary Nice hotel, the architectural masterpiece and national historic monument that has dominated the Promenade des Anglais for over a century. Its pink dome a symbol of the French Riviera, its name evokes the essence of "art de vivre." Situated on the seafront promenade overlooking the Mediterranean, the hotel is filled with a fantastic collection of antiques, oil paintings and contemporary works of art. In this living museum, each of the 121 guestrooms and 24 suites are individually decorated in styles spanning the historic spectrum from Louis XIII to Art Deco. The award-winning restaurant The Chantecler is celebrated as one of the best in Nice. Take advantage of this special offer celebrating the first days of spring. For a limited time—from now until March 31-- when you book a three night stay, the third night is free! (Breakfast included.)
Hotel Negresco, Official Site
Hotel Negresco, Five Star Alliance
Just in time for the World Cup Championship I've been obsessing about. Following an extensive restoration, the Villa Kennedy will be ready to dazzle (and show off that stunning neo-gothic architecture) on March 1st. Originally built in 1904, the hotel has extensive gardens and a sweet central courtyard. Located on the southside of the River Main, the Villa features luxurious rooms with state-of-the-art technology, mosaic-tiled bathrooms, pool and three-level-Spa. Book the gigantic presidential suite (300 sq meters) and enjoy a separate kitchen and turret dining room.
It's music to our ears. A 230-acre private island, Ritz-Carlton's deluxe spot in the Bahamas, is scheduled to open in 2009. Just four miles off Nassau and Paradise Island, Rose Island will be accessible by boat or helicopter. Guest rooms are planned to average 550 square feet with large balconies overlooking the beach.
The Le Meridien Pattaya Resort will be part of one of Pattaya's foremost upscale beachfront resort developments, which comprises unbranded condominiums and the resort. The development is strategically located in a prime position, only 150 km or 1.5 hours' drive from Bangkok and less than an hour's drive from Bangkok's new International Airport when it officially opens in 2006.Pattaya's foremost upscale development? Perhaps because you'd be hard-pressed to find anything upscale about the place. Has anyone at Le Meridien actually checked out this truly world-class beach? The only prime position about Pattaya is its leading spot as the world's number one destination for prostitution and reckless hedonism. Rock on, dudes. (To each their own.)
Dating back to 1228, situated on the shores of Lough Corrib on a private estate of 350 acres, Ashford is one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland. The former estate of the Guinness family, the picturesque castle was the chosen spot for the wedding of Pierce Brosnan (and 007's got the world's pick). For avid anglers, Ashford Castle has recently designed a deluxe fly-fishing package. After all, the castle is strategically located on one of the most famous fisheries in all of Ireland. (The lake is known for its wild brown trout and salmon.) Available from Feb 15-Sep 30, the package includes accommodations, guided fishing (shared guide/boat), all breakfasts, a ghillie's lunch on fishing days, and complimentary use of tennis courts, the 9-hole golf course, and walking trails throughout the 350-acre estate. All fishing gear is provided at no additional cost on fishing days. Prices start at $785 for two nights, and one day fishing. $2,241 for five nights, four days fishing. For the non-anglers in the family, the castle's got all sorts of activities—tennis, golf, equestrian, and even falconry.
Ashford Castle, Official Site
Ashford Castle, Five Star Alliance
Opening in June, the next Hard Rock Hotel will debut—where else?—but Madrid. How's that for a nonsequitur. So when the lovely Prado Museum shows off its new extension later this year filled with the zillions of masterpieces that had been idly collecting dust in storerooms, you can check out the exhibits while a guest at the happening Hard Rock, located on the lively Plaza Santa Ana, surrounded by bars galore. Noteworthy features? The Tower Suite, with its terrace offering 360 degree views of the city and "chillout zone." Along with the private outdoor jacuzzi, guests get personalized concierge service (talk about rockstar treatment) and a bottle of champagne.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, indulge yourself in a perfectly pink paradise of fun. St. Pete's Loews Hotel—the palatial pink icon otherwise known as "Florida's Pink Palace"-- is offering a Pink Panther themed vacation package. So even if the movie sucked (Steve Martin and Beyonce just couldn't redeem it), your whole family will be tickled pink by this clever and fun package that includes pink milkshakes and Pink Panther Gift Bags. Starting at $1,174, the package includes three nights accommodations for four, two pink milkshakes for the kiddies, "Who Stole the Pink?" Treasure Hunt, Two Pink Panther Gift Bags, and one full-day admission to Camp CeSar for two kids. Available from Feb 10- April 22. Rates are slightly higher during the weekends.
The Don CeSar Beach Resort, Official Site
The Don CeSar Beach Resort, Five Star Alliance
February 14, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Alex Rose
The first thing you'll notice about the JW Marriott Resort is the luxurious, oversized suites. The next thing you'll notice is the amazing view of Red Rock Canyon from your balcony, especially as afternoon crosses into evening. Even though the resort is located in Summerlin (which is about 40 minutes from the airport), it is exceptionally secluded, quiet, and very private... away from the energy of downtown. JWM offers an exceptional and enjoyable PGA 18-hole golf course. The recommended spa treatments for couples are the "Green Tea and Ginger Ultimate Body Facial" for the ladies, and "Herbal Spice Body Treatment" for the men, which are recommended before venturing downtown for the evening. For dining pleasure, the Wing Lei restaurant, located in the Wynn downtown, is recommended. Wing Lei's name has a pedigree too... Wing in English is Wynn and Wing Lei's English translation is "forever prosperous." The chef is Richard Chen, from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Try the crisp prawns with black beans, asparagus, onions, and mushrooms for dinner and lychee sorbet as your finale.
By: Guest Writer