January 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Alps are melting. According to an important feature in the February issue of National Geographic (RUN, don't walk, to the newsstand for this one), scientists are estimating that "the Alps have lost half their glacier ice in the past century, 20 percent of that since the 1980s; glaciers in Switzerland have lost a fifth of their surface area in the past 15 years." The glaciers are receding—driving some resort owners to drastic measures like buying white blankets to cover 15 acres of glacier during the summer—and the snow has stopped falling. Which isn’t helped by the 12 million trucks and 50 million cars that cross the Alps each year, their fumes trapped in a nasty greenhouse of emissions within the valleys. This is more than bad news for the region that worldwide symbolizes a wondrous winter playground for international jetsetters and local farmers alike. There are 600 ski resorts nestled in this dramatic mountain range that stretches across eight nations, half of which are predicted to close in the coming decades. For those passionate about Alpine adventures, this means adopting a philosophy of environmental sustainability while packing your bags ASAP for St. Moritz. Badrutts Palace Hotel, of course, here in the birthplace of the Alps winter tourism.
Located on the Big Island's Kohala coast, the AAA five-diamond resort is surrounded by a lush volcanic landscape chock full of waterfalls, rainforests, active lava flows and even snow-capped mountains. And Mauna Lani is a destination even among these wonders, recognized worldwide (almost suffocating with accolades) for its 25,000 sq ft spa, top tennis facilities at the Sport and Fitness Club, and white sand beach, where lucky guests can witness the whale migration just offshore. Escape this winter to an ocean view room or private bungalow, and get a fifth night free! In addition, the hotel is offering a $100-$200 per room per night resort credit (depending on room type) for stays March 1-May 30. But hurry! You must book the "Springtime Early Bird Special" by the end of Jan.
Mauna Lani, Official Site
Mauna Lani, Five Star Alliance
27 holes of championship golf in the sultry desert heat at The Phoenician. Nine gorgeous pools overlooking Camelback mountain and the red rock desert landscape. A phenomenal spa. And the city's dazzling culinary display and rockin nightlife. Now couldn't be a better time to visit Scottsdale. If those aren't reasons enough: the legendary destination resort recently completed a $20 million makeover. Guestrooms and casitas are all newly furnished (bed linens, wall hangings, artwork all in earthy desert tones), with divine new beds, and loads of new technology and upgraded bathroom fixures (lighting, floor-to-ceiling Italian marble, oversized tubs.) Of course the lobby, lounges, restaurants and public areas weren't overlooked, and the Spa and Fitness Facility was injected with a healthy $250,000 of new stairmasters, ellipticals, Life Fitness strength training machines and 15" individual televisions in all cardio equipment. The best part of the makeover? The Oasis swimming pool complex with new poolside cabanas, all new surfacing and decking, teak outdoor furniture, and underwater sound.
Via Travel and Leisure February issue
The Phoenician, Official Site
The Phoenician, Five Star Alliance
January 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
HotelChatter gives us the scoop about the Waldorf, just as the Hilton Hotel Corp. announces its new lux brand: The Waldorf-Astoria collection. The timing couldn't be worse. Now the Grand Wailea, Arizona Biltmore, and La Quinta Resort and Club, along with New York's legendary hotel-- slated to be newly managed by Hilton under this exclusive new brand-- will be stained by the very same Waldorf name. Talk about a PR nightmare.
Rumor has it that Acqualina-- the exquisite new boutique resort from Rosewood-- will open its doors for guests in February. Located in Sunny Isles, Florida, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Acqualina is billed as a European architectural masterpiece (everybody's talkin!). Indeed, the resort's got it all: two-storey oceanfront spa, private beach club, superb dining, poolside cabanas and three gorgeous pools to choose from-- depending on your mood (will that be the infinity pool or tranquility?) The long-awaited debut was originally scheduled for November 2005, so I'm not holding my breath for an ontime opening.
Acqualina, Official Site
Acqualina, Five Star Alliance
The award-winning hotel is back and (almost) ready for action. After Hurricane Wilma took out most of Cancun's hotels and sweeping white sand beaches, construction and renovation has been nonstop, and this gem is set to open on May 1. Luxurious oceanfront suites with balconies, an elegant spa, rooftop tennis, and plenty of golf nearby... located smack in the middle of Cancun's Hot Hotel Zone. Welcome back.
Four Seasons has set up camp (literally) in Thailand's mysterious Golden Triangle (didn't this used to be scary, opium-producing backcountry?) It seems the hotelier is jumping on the "rustic luxury" bandwagon, catering to a crowd that yearns for adventure, yet can't do without the spa touch of Four Seasons. Thus you can mount an elephant, raft down the Mekong, and meet the local hill tribes-- and return at night to one of 15 Four Seasons tents, with hand-hammered copper bathtubs (imagine hauling that into the wilderness on the back of some beast-of-burden), down pillows and supersized robes, and wifi access. Yep, you heard that right. A riverbank tent with wifi and multi-line phones. Other swank services include five-course dining, spa, and free-form pool.
The aging resort and casino sits on some 63 acres of prime Strip-front property, and the Boyd Gaming Corp. sees four sparkling, new hotels (including a Shangri-La) where Stardust's decrepit 1,500 rooms used to be. The developers will welcome Echelon Place—the $4 billion complex with 5,300 rooms, spas, casino, restaurants and bars, meeting facilities and a 4,000-seat theater– in 2010. Besides the Shangri-La, the Morgans Hotel Group (of Mondrian and Delano fame) is keen on the scene.
Heading to The Breakers? Here's an invitation you won't want to miss. The interactive evenings at Echo feature four course dinners, with a half-price specialty drink to complement the cuisine, $60 per person. The most popular dishes prepared before your eyes. First up: The Art of Thai Cooking, this Wednesday, January 18. Followed by a Vietnamese Valentine (the day after on February 15), and lastly, an evening of delicious Japanese cuisine on Wednesday, March 15.
Welcome to Aspen's newest resort. Steps away from Ajax Mountain, and all of Aspen's fabulous shopping and nightlife. One-, two- and three-bedroom accommodations with cozy, yet luxurious interiors designed in stone, polished woods, granite and marble. All equipped with multiple fireplaces, private balconies, absurdly large kitchens, spa tubs and steam showers. Now through Sept. 30, enjoy savings up to 30 percent off at the Hyatt Grand Aspen.