September 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Le Meridien Tahiti is one of those dreamy tropical locales— you know, the ones with over-water bungalows on stilts over the perfectly clear blue— that travel magazines ooh and ahh about. It's also got a swimming pool with a sandy bottom, a long white-sand beach that curves around a gorgeous lagoon, water sports aplenty (cruise on a catamaran with or without a skipper), tennis and volleyball, and excellent dining options. From now until mid-December, Le Meridien Tahiti has slashed their prices and is offering the "Linger Longer for Less" package, at 50 percent off hotel rack rates. A three-night stay (double occupancy) will set you back a mere $820; six nights-- $1,490. At $249 a night, what a steal.
According to GaultMillau— the influential French guide to restaurants, hotels and wine-- that honor goes to the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, named "Hotel of the Year" for 2006. The iconic landmark has wowed its high-profile clientele with impeccable service since 1861. And Forbes.com recently rated the hotel's new Cinq Mondes Spa "one of the most luxurious spas in the world."
But according to Andrew Harper's Hideaway report, the best international resort for 2006 is the Four Seasons Punta Mita, the Mexican paradise getaway just 26 miles from Puerto Vallarta (gorgeous oceanfront rooms, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, heavenly spa, and all that jazz.)
What's your vote?
Besides the accolades for its world-class tennis program, the premiere Southern California resort of Rancho Valencia is destined to become a top Spa destination as well. Located just 25 miles north of downtown San Diego, Rancho Valencia is an all-suite hideaway set within 40 acres of lush landscaping. The 43 suites— decked out with cathedral ceilings, hand painted tiles, fireplaces, and private garden patios— seem reminiscent of early California haciendas. This summer, the resort opened its full-service Spa Rancho Valencia, a center for health and well-being which offers yoga and Pilates classes and a well-equipped fitness center (PreCor cardio machines with personal televisions and DVD players) in addition to its superb treatment menu. Each of the ten treatment rooms boast private patios, and the two couples treatment rooms even have fireplaces, outdoor showers, and tubs for two. The Spa also offers a new lap pool (with private cabanas available), three therapy pools, and a Watsu treatment pool. The luxurious treatments incorporate the indigenous plants found at the resort, and pure essential oils of citrus, avocado and eucalyptus. Signature treatments include Zest for Life— a 120-minute treatment starting in the signature Vichy rain room with a rosemary and lemon steam, followed by an uplifting bergamot and fresh lemon zest sea salt exfoliation, and finished with a massage— and the Terra Cotta Clay Couples Clay Bake.
Take advantage of a superb Fall Special, which includes a $75 Spa Credit, with the Suite and Spa and Breakfast Package. Starting from $450 per night, the package includes Suite Accommodations for Two Nights, $75 Spa Credit, per person, and breakfast for two daily, including tax and gratuity. Two-night minimum stay required. Valid through November 17, 2006.
Nestled in the gentle sloping foothills of the Pyrenees, the elegant city of Pau is excellently situated for jaunts into the mountains, by foot or on skis. Along the grand blvd des Pyrenees, the rugged mountain peaks emerge majestically through mist and cloud. Indeed the palm-lined promenade, packed with cafes and trendy bars, seems more reminiscent of Nice than the quiet neighboring villages of France's Southwest. This vibrant university town, long favored by travelers and wintering Brits for its mild climate and sweeping vistas, has transformed into a modern and stylish urban center. The nearby Jurancon vineyards lure oenophiles, and Pau natives point out the convenience of the Atlantic coast, just an hour away. Where to stay? On the edge of the Parc Beaumont, the famous public garden in the heart of Pau, the new Parc Beaumont Hotel is a contemporary luxury hotel with elegant interior design. Excellent amenities include heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath in the spa, and exquisite gastronomic restaurant, Jeu de Paume. From the terrace in your suite, enjoy lovely views of the Pyrenees.
Dating from 1902, Blantyre is a Tudor-country-house estate (modeled after a castle in Scotland) situated amidst 100 acres of impeccably manicured grounds. Critics hail Blantyre as America's Best Inn, its elegant surroundings and superb service conjuring a bygone time of gracious living and refined taste. Here is the ideal spot to enjoy the Berkshires countryside and fall foliage. Recipient of the Mobil Five-Star Award since 2003, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2002, and Andrew Harper's Hideaway Grand Award Winner, Blantyre offers guests an experience of grandeur. Guest rooms feature hand-carved four poster beds, fireplaces, French windows, and lavish furnishings. Play croquet on the tournament-rated croquet courts, hit on the four Har-Tru tennis courts, enjoy the heated pool, relax in the excellent new spa (housed in Blantyre's original Potting Shed), or take to the trails to appreciate the beautiful changing leaves. The hotel is happy to prepare a special picnic basket, decorated with flowers and ribbons, just for the occasion. Dinner, likewise, is a memorable experience (jacket and tie required).
Conde Nast Traveler Gold list. AAA Four Diamond award, 15 consecutive years. Best in Colorado, Golf Digest. Best Romantic Getaway in North America, Mountain Living Magazine. The list of awards is staggering. Situated on a mountain top in a 6,500-acre private wilderness, with sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains, The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera is a magical mountain hideaway. After a $5 million renovation in 2004, the 56 luxurious guest rooms have new bathrooms with tumbled-stone floors and extravagant new linens, the Avanyu spa has been expanded to 20,000 square feet with new treatment rooms and amenities, and the acclaimed Mirador restaurant boasts a new private dining area, new menu, and elegant wine cellar.
Besides the excellent winter skiing at nearby Vail or Beaver Creek, The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera is known for its world-class golf. The resort features access to six championship golf courses, designed by several of the greatest names in golf (Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Tom Fazio, Dave Pelz, and Greg Norman). The facilities are excellent, and the scenery absolutely breathtaking. For a limited time, the resort is taking 30 percent off its fall golf packages, which includes two nights accommodations, a round of golf per person, one couples massage, and a dinner for two. Rates are $426 per person, September 5-30, 2006, and $386 per person, October 1-31, 2006.
Though hardly new— the exclusive private island of Cayo Espanto has been pampering guests since 1998— the ultra-luxe resort has put Ambergris Cay, Belize on the map. Just eight minutes by boat from the town of San Pedro on Ambergris, Cayo Espanto has developed the best kind of environmentally-friendly luxury resort. The five oceanfront villas are sprawling in size and feature personal plunge pools, private docks, al fresco showers, romantic mosquito netting over the beds, and 180 degree wrap-around views of the Caribbean. Here, lucky guests enjoy the ultimate pampered relaxation: spa services are readily available, chefs prepare personalized gourmet fare with the freshest tropical ingredients, and activities include fly-fishing, boating and conching excursions, scuba diving and snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world (including the famous Blue Hole), and sailing to deserted beaches for a gourmet picnic. Though Belize is less than two hours from Miami, its sparkling waters are still largely undiscovered. Enjoy your own private island at Cayo Espanto.
As featured in the Robb Report (our friends at the Helium Report have published an awesome summary of the September issue, check it out!)— the world-renowned Miraval, Life in Balance Resort continues to pave the way for lifestyle resorts with the innovative and ground-breaking work of its Director of Integrative Health and Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil. America's leading expert on mind-body living, Dr. Weil has devoted the past thirty years to developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine. His books include the national bestsellers Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Eating Well for Optimum Health and The Healthy Kitchen.
As part of the Miraval resort's Luminaries Series— where guests are invited to meet and speak with thinkers who have shaped the ideas of our time— Andrew Weil will lead a special workshop on Healthy Aging at Miraval from October 29-November 1, 2006. Rates per person are $3092.06 single occupancy all-inclusive and $2738.32 double occupancy all-inclusive. Includes three nights luxurious accommodation, all retreat programming, three gourmet meals daily, evening appetizers, snacks and all non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited access to all scheduled programs and activities, one spa service, one-on-one consultation or one round of golf up to a $110 value per person, per night of stay, and round trip transportation from Tucson International Airport.
Consistently ranked the number one destination spa in the world, Miraval, Life in Balance is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Southern Arizona, its 104 exquisite hacienda-style guestrooms situated on 400 manicured acres in the picturesque Sonoran Desert. The resort offers luxury, privacy and a healthful focus for the body, mind and spirit. There is no strict regimen: guests are free to create daily agendas that suit their own goals.
In early October 2006, Kempinski Hotels, Europe's oldest luxury hotel group, will open a new five-star hotel in Shenzhen, China, the Special Economic Zone situated in the Pearl River Delta at the southern tip of Guangdong Province, connected to Hong Kong by a cross-sea bridge. Another hotel is slated for China: Kempinski will open its 380-room Huizhou property— boasting a spa, fitness center, four restaurants, and even a micro-brewery-- in 2008.
In Jakarta, the former Hotel Indonesia is being converted into a Kempinski luxury hotel scheduled to open at the end of 2007. And hot off the press: Kempinski recently announced plans to manage a hotel in Khao Lak, Thailand, the beach resort destination not far from famed Phuket. In the first phase of development, the hotel will open 320 rooms within landscaped gardens and lagoons on a white sand beach in autumn 2007. Phase II, to include 40 pool villas, will be completed in 2009.
By the end of 2009, Kempinski expects to manage a total of 29 hotels in Asia.
Your own pristine private island accessible only by boat and seaplane, Little Palm Island is a lush tropical paradise listed among the top resorts in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. The internationally-acclaimed resort has got it all: romantic, spacious guestrooms (outfitted with ocean facing verandahs, private outdoor showers and jetted tubs), a heated lagoon style pool, natural white sand beach (rare for the Keys!), cozy Great Room library, endless array of watercraft choices, and fitness room. But the best part of all is the candle-lit Dining Room. Recently voted the best Hotel Dining Room in the Southeast by the Zagat Survey and number three in the nation, the Dining Room creates a real epicurean experience, sure to delight even the most discriminating of foodies. Executive Chef Luis Pous and his culinary team serve exceptional French-Caribbean plates served in a magical setting overlooking the turquoise sea. (And the service is really unparalleled.)