Jumeirah, the luxury hospitality group and member of Dubai Holding, is growing by leaps and bounds. Perhaps the most significant development for 2005 was Jumeirah's entry into the US market, with the acquisition of one of Manhattan's most prestigious and historic luxury hotels: The Essex House. Renamed the Jumeirah Essex House, the hotel is an elegant city landmark, perfectly located off Central Park. Since its debut in 1931, this luxurious property has been the New York refuge for international leaders, dignitaries, and celebs. Most importantly, the hotel houses the superlative Mobil Five-Star restaurant, Alain Ducasse at Jumeirah Essex House-- easily the best restaurant in New York City.
After the acquisition of this gorgeous property, Jumeirah continues to anticipate awesome growth for 2006. Let us count the ways. Management of Shanghai's most prestigious new hotel development in the Luwan District (HanTang Jumeirah Shanghai will open in 2008). Management of Jumeirah Dubai Towers, a five-star hotel in Doha, Qatar. Management of the luxury hotels and theme park at the beachfront town of Aqaba, Jordan. And in Dubai, Jumeirah will operate Aqua Dunya, a theme park resort in Dubailand that aims to become the world's largest leisure and tourism attraction. (With a whopping 8 million sq. ft.) And let's not forget the management of Jumeirah Al Khor in Dubai Healthcare City, and lastly, the Jumeirah Business Bay Hotel, in Dubai's new business district (Business Bay, Dubailand, Healthcare City.... the names are clever, aren't they?) Whew.
Jumeirah Essex House, Five Star Alliance
Ahhh, Round Hill: the elegant Jamaican hideaway, a favorite for Town and Country fashion shoots, a former pineapple, allspice and coconut plantation, where the elite and moneyed few escape for their tropical respites. The legendary resort, not far from Montego Bay, is an oasis of gardens, secluded beaches, private villas and horizon-edge pools. There's a Spa, tennis, diving, and fine dining, a vacation experience enhanced by the best, most discreet service.
The 36 guestrooms in the Pineapple House were recently renovated and designed by Ralph Lauren, with white stone floors, four poster bamboo beds draped in a white net, 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, and upholstered furniture from the Ralph Lauren home collection. The rooms are all-white, evoking tropical beach living, and with ocean or garden views. The bathrooms were also redesigned by Lauren, with deep soaking tubs, freestanding rain showers, and double sink vanities.
You heard that right. The AAA four diamond resort-- in quest of the ever elusive five-diamond rating-- may construct an Old West-style casino with 500 slot machines. Just how that will up the rating is beyond me. Currently, Nemacolin Woodlands is a popular luxury destination outside Pittsburgh, with world-class golf course, excellent restaurants, internationally acclaimed Spa, Equestrian Center, Kids Club, shooting academy, tennis, and endless other activities.
Nemacolin Woodlands, Five Star Alliance
Northwest of Bordeaux, bordered by the Atlantic and the Gironde Estuary, lies the world-renowned Medoc region, celebrated for producing the world's most prestigious red wines. Meaning the "middle territory," the Medoc is situated on the 45th parallel, benefiting from an ideal temperate climate and a unique gravelly terroir. These beautiful vineyards produce high-quality grapes of many varieties: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet-Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.
Situated in the midst of these splendid vineyards on a 135-acre property, the Relais De Margaux is an elegant hotel, graced with the traditions of a rich past but with all the comforts and facilities of the present. Originally the chateau of one of the premier wine-producing families of France, Relais de Margaux has been transformed into a comfortable, contemporary resort destination. From your room, enjoy spectacular views of the new 18-hole golf course situated between the Estuary and the vineyards. (The course opened in 2005 with driving range and putting green.)
Rooms are the essence of comfort-- furnished in a traditional French style, and with all the modern amenities of a world-class hotel: flat screen TVs, spacious bathrooms with heated towel racks, large French windows, luxurious linens. Relax in your room or immerse yourself in luxury at the new Spa Harmonia with a treatment a la carte, or full day cares package, to enjoy the Jacuzzi, hammam, sauna, swimming pool, and fitness room.
After a day spent tasting the divine wines of the nearby Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and Chateau Margaux-- all renowned for their premier grand cru classe-- indulge in gastronomic cuisine that will likewise knock your socks off. At both the gourmet restaurant (Ile Vincent is situated in one of the ancient wine cellars) or the Brasserie du Lac, Chef Laurent Costes creates exceptional dishes to match the region's exceptional wines. For dessert, you must order the chocolate pizza: rich melted chocolate over a thick, round crust of brioche. And breakfast is a sheer delight: bountiful baskets of piping hot crossaints, meats, thick yogurt, fruit, and rich coffee.
What's next: Toddler Teatime or Tween Scene? Looks like Hyatt has pegged the teenage demographic as crucial for future marketing efforts. Now the sweet 16's can "assert their independence" and mark their celebratory milestone with a luxurious sleepover party, with lots of pampering and chocolate manicures, at participating Hyatt Resorts in the U.S. and Caribbean. The Standard Suite 16 Package includes: Birthday Concierge consultation (lucky kids!!), one night luxurious accommodations in a two-bedroom suite, for up to 2 adults and 6 guests under the age of 18, limo transportation, one plush Kashmere Spa Robe for the birthday teen, use of a digital camera while at the hotel and a commemorative picture frame for the birthday teen to take home, dinner for eight catered by in-room dining, special birthday dessert, bowls of popcorn and candy, movie night in room via On Command, use of Cranium(R) games in room, continental breakfast for eight served in-room. Starting at $2,500, and varies by property.
We go gaga over all things Philippe Starck. Hong Kong's sexy boutique, Jia, LA's Mondrian (oozing all of that Cali style), Miami's hotspot The Delano, and BA's extraordinary Faena Hotel and Universe. The award-winning celebrity designer has knocked our socks off with pretty much every one of his creations. And now the rumor on the street is that the master has been chosen by SBE Hotel Group to create a signature look for an unnamed luxury boutique brand scheduled to debut in 2008. The deets? Apparently, Starck signed a 15 year, exclusive contract, which will open its first hotel in SoCal, where the Beverly Hills Le Meridien is now. Other hotels in NY, Miami and the Carib will follow-- mostly all conversions. The contract also stipulates the design of nine restaurants and lounges, the first of which will open in Brentwood in May. Bring it on! (This is the father of the whole boutique category we're talking about!)
There's been quite a hullabaloo over Mobil's recently announced 2006 award winners. The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York made the cut and graduated to elite five star status, its "wow factor" described by the experts:
This sleek hotel marries Asian sensibilities with New York panache, and its 14,500-square-foot spa is the piece-de-la-resistance. Bamboo and natural stone are used throughout, creating a temple of serenity in this most frenetic of world capitals. Chinese, Ayurvedic, Balinese, and Thai healing therapies are the highlight of a visit to this facility, where guests are encouraged to book blocks of time, known as Time Rituals, for a comprehensive relaxation experience.
It joins the likes of the Spa Montage at the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, Cali-- the nation's only other Mobil Five-Star Spa. The full list of 2006 award-winners is here. Any dynamite spas that you noticed didn't make the cut?
How's this for a perfect day. A leisurely lunch savored in the sunshine gazing up at the immense ruins of a 9th century church carved from sheer limestone walls. A stroll through winding cobble-stoned streets with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. A tour through a local wine-grower's chateau, its wine cave built deep into the hill's rock cliffs. A late afternoon glass of pink sparkling wine, accompanied with almond flavored macaroons, in the ruins of an ancient monastery. As the afternoon light fades orange against the city's ramparts and Roman stone archways, you can't help but think… This is the life.
Welcome to Saint-Emilion, 30 minutes from Bordeaux in the midst of the world's most famous wine-growing region. The town is steeped in history-- its name derived from the Benedictine monk hermit who resided in a cave here between 750 and 767-- and the luxurious traditions of art de vivre. The vineyards and township of St. Emilion are UNESCO-heritage protected sites because they've endured-- virtually untouched-- since the Roman poets extolled the virtues of the rich wines.
In such an extraordinary setting, the Grand Barrail Chateau Resort and Spa is the gem to choose for its unrivaled accommodations. Just outside the township of Saint-Emilion, the castle's towers and turrets emerge in splendor from the rolling hills of meticulously planted vines. Even the basic accommodations (Superior) are comfortable, spacious, and tastefully appointed. But the suites are extraordinary, with lavish bathrooms, light-filled rooms, and sweeping views over the lawn and countryside; one even boasts an enormous stone balcony and terrace that comprises most of the castle's second floor.
The new full-service Spa features hammam, Scottish bath, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and a tantalizing menu of treatments with Ligne St Barth cosmetics. For example: the St. Barth Softness is a nourishing body peeling massage with coconut oil, fresh papaya and an extra-fine sea sand polish complex. (The sand is imported from the Caribbean island, and the Ligne St Barth cosmetics are enhanced with additional fresh fruit.)
Dining is a gastronomic experience, with plates as beautifully presented as the cuisine is rich and delicious. The chef's got quite a few awards under his belt. Compared to your nightly feast, breakfast isn't half bad. It's served in an elegant breakfast room filled with light through stained glass windows; dainty crossaints are served hot from the oven, accompanied with fine fruit jams and other delights from a generous buffet display.
Here in Saint-Emilion at the Grand Barrail Chateau, it's easy to see how the French have mastered the joie de vivre.
So maybe Dubai's got an indoor ski resort, the world's only seven-star hotel, and the MotorCity Autodrome. But Abu Dhabi's getting a Ferrari Amusement Park! (So there.) The UAE's oft-neglected capital city (in favor of the trendy, prosperous tourism mecca of Dubai) is also enjoying fast growth and fashionable revitalization. The Gulf-facing capital sports the super-swanky Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi, which seems to emanate grandeur (and sheer size-- with its enormous ballroom, endless array of dining options, large health club and spacious guest rooms), and the city's other Le Meridien has just announced its massive AED 20 million renovation, adding luxurious guest rooms and remodeling the spa. The capital city's got its fair share of luxurious shopping malls, golf courses, tennis, and watersports on the Gulf. And of course there's the Ferrari amusement park. Starting in 2008, you can test-drive those $500,000 babies around the racetrack. I'm so there.
May 1, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May and Karen Goldberg, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hotel Plaza Athenee New York
The Hotel Plaza Athenee is a small, charming European boutique-style hotel located on 64th Street at Madison Avenue. In 2006, Conde Nast Traveler featured the Hotel Plaza Athenee as “One of the Top Hotels in the World” on the Gold List. For those looking for a 'discreet location' in Manhattan, ecspecially on the fashionable Upper East Side, they need look no further then the Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse Suite. Yes, that's right - we are once again writing about a luxury, high-level, freakishly huge and overdone suite at a five-star hotel in New York City.
In Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse, free time not spent in the solarium, on the balcony, or their office alcove, can be spent indulging in the finest shops of the neighborhood. Also nearby is the Whitney, Frick or Museum of Modern Art. Not to mention all of the noteworthy restaurants where our the concierge staff will gladly secure your reservation.
Hotel Plaza Athenee New York Penthouse Suite
Location: The hotel is on the Upper East Side of New York City - on 64th between Madison and Park Avenue, one block from Central Park. The pale yellow decorated suite is a two-story duplex apartment located on the top two floors of the hotel - the 16th & 17th.
Size: 1972 square feet or 184 square meters.
Living Room: On the Suite's first floor, the 16th, the living room includes a decorative marble fireplace. The lower level also contains a pantry, formal dining room that seats 12, a ½ bathroom and an office alcove off the living room and the connecting second bedroom.
Master Bedroom: Spiral staircase leads to the second floor of the penthouse with full master bedroom, full bath and walk in closet, wrap around terrace and atrium.
Balcony & Atrium: Connected to the Master Bedroom, the balcony has a planted private terrace which runs half the length of the hotel. The atrium is a sun-drenched indoor space with rattan furniture.
Rate: Currently, the one-bedroom Penthouse Suite will run you about $3,900 per night, plus tax.
Fun Fact: The hotel's exterior is shaped somewhat like a pyramid - the higher up you go, the less space you have and the less numbers of rooms you get on each floor.
Hotel Plaza Athenee New York, Five Star Alliance
Related Articles: "Park Avenue Suite at The Regency in New York City", "The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite", "The Triplex Penthouse at the Time", and "Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite".
Don't forget, if you make your reservation with Five Star Alliance for the Hotel Plaza Athenee, you get the "Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Afternoon Tea for two (2) with pastries and tea sandwiches once during your stay."