The delightful port city of Charleston—brimming with historic charm-- was ranked the fourth best city in the nation by readers of Travel and Leisure magazine. The Golf courses are beloved by readers of Golf Digest magazine. Additionally, Charleston was named a top art destination by American Style Magazine, for its lovely art galleries and exhibits. And come October, Charleston will host the Southern Living Cook-Off 2006, the largest annual cook-off in America, at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, where finalists will prepare their recipes for judges prior to the main event.
Plus, Charleston is home to some of the country's top-ranking hotels, like The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, an oceanside resort celebrated for its incredible natural beauty, championship golf courses and excellent recreational activities, and the stunning Charleston Place, where guests are treated to the finest Southern hospitality in elegant surroundings. (Not to mention the incredibly lavish European-style Spa, with clay tennis court, and a horizon edged swimming pool with retractable glass roof.)
The Silver Lake neighborhood is becoming hip. The up-and-coming district is getting a make-over (or shall we call it gentrification?) with the planned Silver Lake Hotel, a stylish boutique with trendy restaurant and spa, and price tag to match. The hotel will emerge from a decrepit, shuttered mess called the Sunset Pacific Hotel, a project of local entrepreneur Dana Hollister, who has an eye for old gems and has renovated quite a few in this neighborhood. As described by the LA Times,
[she's] made it her life's work to contribute to Silver Lake's face lift. She has two restaurants, two bars, a design boutique and a salon to her credit. She's renovated the Paramour Estate, Silver Lake's architectural crown jewel, and hopes to turn it one day soon into Silver Lake's first five-star lodging, the Bel-Air Hotel of Silver Lake, as she envisions it. A 5-acre spread that was built for oil heiress Daisy Canfield in the 1920s, the Paramour was later converted into a girls' school and was serving as a decrepit nunnery when Hollister discovered it 15 years ago.Though it's yet to be seen if Silver Lake's rejuvenation will come at the cost of its alternative, cool factor.
Good Morning America and Travel and Leisure think so, anyway. The Mayflower Inn is a grand Relais and Chateaux country house, less than two hours from New York City. Nestled in 58 acres of gardens and parkland, it's the ideal setting for hiking, kayaking, or playing tennis. The five-star accommodations are luxuriously romantic, 30 different rooms that are billed as the "antidote to urban stress." These finer details include feather topped mattresses, Tabriz rugs, enormous marble bathrooms wainscoted in mahogany, with brass and Limoges fittings, fireplaces, well-stocked mini-bars, flat screen televisions, down comforters, oversized pillows, linens by Frette, four-poster canopied antique beds, and all the modern conveniences including Wi-Fi and cable TV.
The rooms may be heavenly, but for the ultimate pampering experience, head to the destination spa. Newly opened on July 16, 2006, the 20,000 square foot facility includes treatment rooms, fully equipped exercise studios, pool and whirlpool, and moonflower scented Thermal Sanctuary. With its selection of Acitive Body and Mind-Spirit activities along with its full spa menu of restorative treatments, the Mayflower Spa is the ultimate relaxation resource. And Good Morning America isn't the only one to go gaga. Time Out New York calls it "Edenic." The New York Post calls it the "region's sexiest spa." And Vanity Fair gushes to its readers: "Imagine being transported to a kind of heaven on earth..."
Ahh, Capri. Favorite haunt of hedonists, undercover movie stars, and loony Roman Emperor Tiberius, who used to indulge in wild orgies (and was also know to hurl virgin maidens and boys to their deaths over the cliffs). It's little wonder why so many visitors flock to the island. Home of the famous Blue Grotto, and fantastic Roman ruins including Tiberius's many villas, Capri juts up from the deep blue waters of the Bay of Naples overlooking Italy's scenic Amalfi Coast. The landscape is simply gorgeous, and the cuisine is divine. The place to stay? The Hotel Caesar Augustus commands a magnificent view, perched on the clifftop in Anacapri 1,000 feet above the sea, at the very pinnacle of the island. The hotel boasts the most extraordinary vistas to be found on all of Capri, and its infinity swimming pool seems to overflow into the sea of Capri below. For a stay fit for the emperor, book the Suite Cesare; the beautiful light-filled space has superb panoramic views from its private terrace and bathroom jacuzzi. In Spring and September (an ideal time to visit with its plentiful sun-kissed days without the crowds), the hotel offers the Best of Capri Package which includes three nights accommodation in Deluxe room with sea view and buffet breakfast, romantic dinner for two at the restaurant "La Terrazza di Lucullo," tour of the island in a convertible taxi or by private boat, and transfer from/to the port of Capri on arrival and departure. Starting from EUR 1,500. (Quite the steal. Normally you'd pay over $2,000 just for the three-night stay, without the additional amenities.)
The fabled stretch of California coastline—recently featured in the fantastic NYT piece "Road Trip: Chasing the Perfect Taco up the California Coast"—has long been celebrated as one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in the world. In the midst of this rugged beauty, rising above the craggy cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn provides a spectacular view of the Pacific and one of the best dining experiences in the country at Sierra Mar Restaurant. Located just off Highway One, the Post Ranch Inn is a romantic sanctuary of rustic elegance, with 30 guest rooms featuring wood-burning fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, complimentary minibars, private decks, and Pacific and mountain views. The luxurious Spa has been featured as one of the world's best in Travel and Leisure magazine. Enjoy early-morning yoga classes, bask in the sun by the pools, go whale-watching, or participate in a guided nature walk. The award winning Sierra Mar restaurant offers an awe-inspiring setting overlooking the coast, from its perch 1,200 feet above the Pacific. The all-glass dining room is possibly the best place along this coast to enjoy its incomparable beauty.
Tis the season. For fashionable jaunts to the beach in St. Tropez, that is. And for a peaceful alternative to the crowded Riviera scene, head to Villa Marie, a serene and luxurious hideaway that was first brought to our attention by Conde Nast Traveler's 2004 Hot List. Overlooking the sparkling blue Pamplona Bay, Villa Marie is tucked into a secluded pine grove, a peaceful garden oasis of sprawling gardens, vineyards and a magnificent swimming pool carved from the rock. The villa is blissfully removed from the action, but close enough to easily satisfy a craving for a night out on the town (10 minutes away). The 42 guests rooms are uniquely designed with vintage Riviera and plenty of antiques, decorated in subtle pastel shades of pink and blue. The Spa Pure Altitude offers personalized treatments such as the regenerative Himalayan rose facial, the Mediterranean Body Care or theJasmine After-Sun Care. And the restaurant features an exquisite setting—its outdoor terrace has panoramic sea views—and delightful Mediterranean menu, with fresh local fish and produce.
Things are pretty riotous in Key West these days. The annual Hemingway Days Festival—replete with a Papa look-alike contest, loads of literary readings, short story competition, and fishing tournament—has come and gone. Resident locals are anxiously watching the sky (and nightly news) for hurricane warnings. And the (in)famous Hilton Key West resort and Marina—where the nightly sunset celebrations take place with street perfomers like the famed Dominique and his Flying House Cats, much to the delight of the cruise ship passengers— has been reflagged as The Westin Key West Resort and Marina. By the end of the month, the new brand name will be flying high, and during the next two years, the hotel will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation "to meet the upper-upscale standards of the Westin brand." The folks at Westin are also planning the Sunset Key Guest Cottages at the Westin Resort: 37 luxurious residential-style accommodations situated on a private island just 500 yards off-shore.
Experience heaven on earth in scenic Maui, and score a free room night at the same time! The award-winning Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, majestically perched on a crescent of white sand overlooking the Pacific, is considered one of the world's finest resorts. Enjoy the island's largest guest rooms (80 percent boast dazzling ocean views), peerless service, exquisite dining at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, and championship golf at your doorstep on the spectacular Wailea Emerald Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, and named one of the country's top-ten new resort courses by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest after its opening in 1994. Guests also enjoy the excellent fitness facilities, beautiful beach, spa, tennis courts, and snorkeling and scuba diving. At the large fountain pool (pictured), guests are spoiled with ice water, chilled towels, refreshing snack amenities, and Evian water spritz, from the doting pool attendants. From August 27-December 18, 2006, take advantage of the 5th Night Free Promotion, an excellent value during a great time to visit Hawaii. Blackout dates are from September 13-16, and November 18-26. Applicable to all room and suite categories except Mountainside and Maile Suite.
We've written about the Babymoon Packages at the Four Seasons Chicago and Peter Island in the Caribbean. And now it seems the trend is catching on. More and more expectant couples are choosing to travel before the baby's arrival-- to treat themselves to a few days of romance and pampering before the baby makes three. And more and more luxury hotels are organizing Babymoon packages to accommodate them. As highlighted in Newsweek International, Jamaica's Half Moon resort has organized an elaborate, five-day package where moms-to-be (in their first trimester) can even swim with dolphins, which use sonar to communicate with the fetus. At Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, the four-night maternity spa package offers prenatal yoga and exercises, and a special gift of a silver baby fork-and-spoon set.
July 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Dating back to 1228, the luxurious Ashford Castle is set on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland's second largest lake, in the picturesque village of Cong. Once the home of the Guiness family, and a favorite haunt of presidents and Hollywood celebrities, this world-class resort is set on 350 beautiful acres. This is the ideal venue for a fun family vacation with its excellent recreational activities and facilities. The "Ashford Welcomes Families" package is designed to blend the luxurious Ashford setting with activities the entire family will enjoy. The package includes accommodations for two nights in a Deluxe Family Room with two queen-sized beds sleeping up to two adults and two children (12 years and under), breakfast daily, two dinners, horseback riding for one hour, a Falconry lesson (45 minutes) and one round of golf on the 9-hole Stableford golf course. The package is EUR 1,875 for the entire family (inclusive of taxes), subject to availability. Available until September 30, 2006.