May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As if you needed another reason to go to Florence. The newly-opened Villa Olmi Resort, poised on a six hectare estate just outside the gates of Florence, has been renovated into one of the region's most exclusive and enchanting properties. The park and Italian gardens have been witness to centuries of history, dating back to the Renaissance, and the beautiful Villa still retains original characteristics such as 18th century murals. Villa Olmi is comprised of three main buildings: the Villa, the Country House and the Colonica, now gorgeous hotel facilities. The restoration was a careful and diligent process, managed by the Government Service for Monuments. And the hotel, with its focus on privacy and careful attention to detail, preserves an aura of an 18th century private nobleman's home. The 50 rooms and suites don't skimp on modern conveniences; they're loaded with Wi-Fi, plasma TV screens, DVD players, marble bathrooms with jacuzzis, and individual air-comfort systems in-room.
May 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The recently renovated Gran Melia Fenix offers distinguished rooms and service to the most discerning of visitors to Spain's buzzing capital. The 215 guest rooms are exquisitely decorated in 19th century style, and equipped with cutting-edge technology: domestic control systems, Bang and Olufsen TVs, three phones and internet access, CD player, and electronic mini-bars. All complimented by highly-personalized service and excellent fine dining. Book a suite and enjoy the outdoor jacuzzi with awesome views of the city. But the best part of all is the exclusive Royal Service Floor, where guests are spoiled with the private reception area, butler service, pillow menu, private buffet and permanent bar.
Forget the big group tours at the Louvre, or commercial two- and three-country package tours sprouting up to appease eager fans of Dan Brown's best-selling novel. Dukes Hotel in London does it right, with a "Dukes Does Da Vinci" package with a private guide and driver tracking the scenes and clues from the book. And with the movie set to hit the big screen in a matter of days, and the best London season fast approaching, what a better time to cross the big pond and crack the code. Dukes is an award-winning, privately-owned hotel set within a quiet courtyard between Mayfair and Green Park, with a prime location near the city's finest restaurants, theaters and museums. Their Da Vinci Code tour is a three-hour adventure, offered in the morning or afternoon, with private car and guide who encourages guests to track the book's clues, stopping to visit each relevant, noteworthy site. The three-day package includes: accommodation in a Classic room, double occupancy, full English breakfast for two daily, private three-hour "Da Vinci Code Tour" with car and driver, picnic lunch in St. James's Park before or after the tour, foot massage for two (20 minutes each), two martinis in Dukes Bar, dinner at Dukes Restaurant for two (excluding beverages). Offered for Friday night arrivals now through July 24, or any day from July 24-September 10. GBP 1050, inclusive of VAT.
Come November, the new InterContinental Boston will bring five star rooms (424 of them) to a stellar location overlooking Boston Harbor within walking distance of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. According to the Boston Herald, bookings for corporate events are already taking off. And it's no wonder--the hotel will have a prime spot near the Convention Center, the second largest ballroom in downtown (a total of 32,000 sq ft of conference and banquet facilities), state-of-the-art technology, and a classy interior of rich paneling, marble and leather. Boston is welcoming a hotel boom at the moment with exemplary spots like this one. As described by the Herald, here's a taste of what’s to come:
The exterior, a bold statement for Boston, features sleek, modern glass. The windows on the front of the hotel facing Atlantic Avenue curve in and out to evoke the feeling of a flag. On the harborside, they are curved in to convey a sail.
Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.
Spice things up with a one-night romantic escape at New York's timeless classic: The Carlyle. A landmark on Madison Avenue, The Carlyle is all about elegance and refined taste. Like a stately private residence, The Carlyle welcomes its guests with the most exacting and discreet service. Enjoy sweeping views of Central Park from your sumptuous suite, individually appointed with the finest fabrics and Frette linens, some featuring private terraces and grand pianos. Rekindle the romance with a getaway to The Carlyle with the Legendary Love Package, which includes: accommodations for one night, chocolates, champagne and roses on arrival, one dinner for two in The Carlyle Restaurant, cover charges for two persons to see Elaine Stritch at Cafe Carlyle, Continental breakfast for two in bed, and two spa treatments at Exhale (up to $100 per treatment).
The Carlyle, Five Star Alliance
So you're tardy again and are scouring FTD, Red Envelope, and all the best of them for the perfect last minute gift for Mom. (Just when you vowed, after shopping on Christmas Eve last year, never to be last minute again.) Why not spoil Mom with a night at the best and most exclusive joint Vegas has to offer, where vibrant, luxurious rooms are complimented by the most opulent and decadent of facilities? Amazing Spa, check. Designer boutiques, check. Golf, enormous casino, restaurants, entertainment, check. Just what does the Wynn Las Vegas not have?
This Summer Special is almost too good to be true. From June 1 to September 15, book a two-night stay at any Peninsula Hotel worldwide, and get spoiled with a complimentary gift of your choice: spa treatment, romantic dinner for two, traditional afternoon tea, airport transfers or late check-out. For example, when you stay for a minimum of two consecutive nights at The Peninsula Hong Kong, you can choose one value-added benefit from the following: round trip limousine airport transfers, one set dinner for two persons at Gaddi's, or one 80-minute ESPA Holistic Body Massage for two persons. And this is for ANY Peninsula Hotel, located in seven awesome locations worldwide.
The folks at Daily Candy have scouted the world for their favorite summer festivals, and we can't help but heartily agree with their picks. Especially with the Scottish vote. The Fringe Festival is an outrageously fun and quirky event, full of alternative whimsy and improv energy, billed as "the biggest arts festival in the world." (Last year they hosted a whopping 1,800 shows in 250 venues.) The 60th annual festival, running from August 6-28, promises to be equally as exciting, with theather and comedy shows galore. Where to stay? Do it right and score a room at Rocco Forte's Balmoral, of course. A perfect location, serious Scottish charm, Michelin star rated restaurant, swanky spa, CNT Gold List awarded rooms, and spectacular views of the Edinburgh Castle… what more could you ask for?
Rocco Forte Balmoral Hotel, Five Star Alliance
China is quickly gaining ground as a hotspot for tourism (ranked the world's 4th most visited nation). And in easily the most beautiful spot in the entire country-- with breathtaking natural scenery of winding rivers and limestone outcroppings covered in vegetation-- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is planning to open the Shangri-La Hotel, Guilin. Slated to open in 2009, the hotel will be situated on the Li Jiang River, with its 418 guestrooms boasting river views. Guests can expect all the luxurious Shangri-La amenities, including wireless internet, business center, numerous dining options, health club, spa and swimming pools. This former backpackers mecca in southeastern China will no doubt be transformed by the arrival of a five star hotel by Asia's leading luxury hotel group.