LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
What could be better than sampling London's finest plates outside in Regent's Park? The annual Taste of London festival, now in its fourth year, entices serious foodies to flock to the gourmet extravaganza. Where else can you sample Le Gavroche, Fifteen, Nahm, Pied à Terre and Angela Hartnett at The Connaught all at the same time? From June 21-24, 2007, head to the best table in town at the capital's most prestigious food and drink festival. Gastrofeatures include F Word Live (where Gordon Ramsay and the F Word team whip up some fabulous dishes), the Times Chefs' Theater, Specialty Beer Master Class, and the Producer's Market with delectable local produce.
Where to stay? Book a room at The Halkin, whose famed Thai restaurant, Nahm, is showcasing its exceptional cuisine at the Taste of London. (How's this for bragging rights: Nahm secured the world's first Michelin star for Thai cooking.) Located in the heart of Belgravia, just steps from Knightsbridge and Hyde Park, the 41-room Halkin is all about understated glamour. The white-marble lobby is polished, its adjacent bar intimate and chic. At this ultimate insider's address, guests are treated to attentive, but discreet, personal service.
PS. The Halkin's got some of the best suites in town
Walk into the dramatic lobby-- a sparkling 5-storey glass atrium lined with 45-foot palm trees-- and take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The best family-friendly hotel in L.A., Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel offers elegance and comfort just a block from the beach. The 342 guest rooms are appointed with warm, inviting furnishings, sunken bathtubs, 300 thread-count linens, Bloom toiletries, the "Ultimate Doeskin" robe by Chadsworth & Haig, flat-screen TV, and CD player. Book a custom-designed luxury suite and you'll have a hard time tearing yourself away from the ocean views. Facilities are nothing short of fabulous. Hit the Fitness Center for a personalized consultation or Yoga class, dine poolside or on the outdoor patio next to the fire pit, indulge in a spa treatment. And families are thrilled to find out that they don't have to leave Fido behind on a trip to Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Pets are treated as pampered guests at Loews.
The newly-redesigned Park Hyatt, located between Dupont Circle and Georgetown, is a sight for sore eyes. Beautifully rendered by designer Tony Chi, the stylish five-star hotel has the largest deluxe guest rooms in the nation's capital. In addition to the hotel's excellent modern amenities (spa-like bathrooms, Frette linens...), free broadband Internet is a real perk. Stop by the Tea Cellar for rare and vintage selections, and don't miss a meal at the Blue Duck Tavern, where America's great and simple foods are prepared in an open kitchen with a wood burning oven.
Refresh and cool down during your visit to DC this summer with the Cool Summer in the City Package at the Park Hyatt, which offers a complimentary upgrade to a Park Deluxe Room, a bucket of hand cranked seasonal ice cream from Blue Duck Tavern's pastry pantry, full American breakfast for two each morning, and the complimentary use of an Audi A8 L sedan for sightseeing or shopping within Washington. Package rates start from $399 per night, available until September 5, 2007.
Take advantage of a special discount of 35 percent off published rack rates from July 1 through September 15, 2007 at the AAA five diamond Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Located in a charming Spanish-style town just 35 miles south of Santa Barbara on the Gold Coast, Ojai is considered one of California's best kept secrets. Housed in a whitewashed adobe building, draped in bougainvillea blossoms, with fountain courtyards and working fireplaces, Ojai Valley Inn is impossibly romantic. Rated in the top 25 of US resorts by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, the historic resort recently emerged from a $90 million renovation and expansion. Many of the 308 guest rooms have fireplaces and private balconies overlooking the golf course and nearby Topa Topa mountains. Amenities include two heated swimming pools, tennis courts, ranch, Art Studio (with classes in a variety of media), Camp Ojai for the kids, the 31,000 square foot Spa Ojai, one of the top 10 spas in America, and the classic 1923 golf course which has been the host site of Senior PGA Tour events.
When Four Seasons opened its luxury camp in Thailand's Golden Triangle, it launched a new travel trend for adventure-seekers to "rough it" without denying the creature comforts. Five-star tents, like tree houses, are outfitted with teak wood floors, hand-hammered copper tubs, outdoor rain showers, and sundecks with day beds. Guests discover the mysteries of the Golden Triangle-- the region wedged between northern Thailand, Burma and Laos-- on three or four-night adventures: elephant-trekking through the tropical jungle, hiking mountain trails, venturing out on river excursions down the mighty Mekong, discovering the cultures of the hill tribes. But perhaps the best part of the experience is the elephant rescue program. The six elephants at the Four Seasons Golden Triangle were rescued from city streets and now play an important role at the camp. Guests have the opportunity to help by making donations to the elephant adoption program.
When the Royal reopened in 2003, the legendary five-star hotel was reborn in the heart of Budapest. Since its dazzling renovation, the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal has won a slew of awards, including TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice Awards for the Best Luxury Hotel-World. Step into the lobby, outfitted in Italian marble, and marvel at the hotel's aesthetic grandeur. The Royal Spa is likewise opulent, first opened in 1886 and painstakingly restored before its reopening in July 2006. Take the waters in the original pool-- the spa's centerpiece. Lined with mosaic tiles, the pool features a painted glass ceiling, wrought-iron balcony, and walls decorated with Zsolnay ceramic. The splendid spa offers state-of-the-art facilities including saunas, steam room, jacuzzis, massage and treatment rooms, fitness facility, Niagara bath tubs, tropical showers, mud baths, and seaweed baths. Available exclusively for adults over 16 years of age. Younger guests are welcome to use the spa facilities at the hotel's sister property, the Corinthia Aquincum Hotel.
With the Stork Package, moms-to-be can spoil themselves on a pregnancy weekend at the Conrad Chicago, the perfect urban oasis located in the heart of Chicago on the Magnificent Mile. Unwind without having to leave the comfort of your own room with a foot/leg massage and pedicure or a pre-natal massage. Fabulous treats included in the package: a plush pregnancy pillow, crazy-craving amenity for those 24/7 pickle urges, and belly casting kit upon departure. In addition, Conrad Chicago offers a Nordstrom personal shopper to select the latest newborn trends for your baby clothes. Rates start from $375 per night, available until December 31, 2007. Additional enhancements-- like Bath Butler service and in-room facials-- can be arranged with an additional fee.
Buy two nights and get a third for free at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, the beautiful, award-winning hotel situated on a mountain top in the Vail Valley, boasting sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains. This Fourth of July, enjoy a luxurious escape to the Lodge and experience the acclaimed Avanyu Spa and six signature golf courses, designed by several of the greatest names in golf (Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Tom Fazio, Dave Pelz, and Greg Norman). Plus, Beaver Creek hosts a free July Fourth concert and fireworks show.
There's never a bad time to visit the French capital, but summertime brings a host of music concerts, the Paris Cinéma festival (showcasing a diversity of films in cinemas around the city from July 3-14), and the famous Paris Plages-- when urbanites flock to the sand along the Seine for serious sun-worshipping, replete with deckchairs, loungers, and umbrellas (July 19-August 20). Beach volleyball games take place on the sand court in front of the Hôtel de Ville.
Stop by the George Pompidou Centre, which celebrates its 30th anniversary with cutting-edge exhibitions. Stroll down Champs-Élysées and indulge in an ice cream break at the new international showcase for Häagen-Dazs. The three floor-establishment features a chic 200 seat terrace (the largest on this storied avenue), special tastings, cooking classes with the chefs, and the Ice Bäar on the top floor, where you can delight in ice-cream-based cocktails and take in panoramic views while listening to the DJ's sounds. Forget the Metro, the city now boasts a self-service bicycle lending program called Vélib', so you can navigate your way through Paris's magical streets, taking in the architecture and diverse districts-- all for free!
Let's not forget Les Soldes, when even the most bashful of Parisians hit the streets in a frenzied shopping spree. In July, the summer sales dazzle bargain hunters and fashionistas who can score impressive discounts of up to 70 percent off in the city's luxurious establishments. Treat yourself to a new chic French wardrobe (totally guilt-free!)
Make like Carrie Bradshaw and book a room at Hotel Plaza Athénée, the elegant landmark hotel which has become synonymous with Parisian style. Splurge on a meal at the hotel's award-winning restaurant, overseen by world-renowned Chef Alain Ducasse.
PS. Giorgio Armani's new luxury boutique-- a minimalist space with onyx walls, black Plexiglass ceiling, and grey silk wall murals-- is located right across the street on the avenue Montaigne.
Come January, the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong will stop operating. In its place, a high-rise commercial office building will loom over the city. Though not as fabled as The Peninsula, the Ritz-Carlton was known for its timeless elegance and outstanding amenities, like the complimentary Romantic Concierge, six restaurants, and extensive catering to female business travelers. But what we'll miss the most is the heated outdoor pool, the only one in the downtown area. Fans of Ritz-Carlton will be relieved to know that the company has two other properties under development in the region: a hotel-casino in Macau (of course) and another hotel in Kowloon's International Commerce Center. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the 116-storey Kowloon property will be the world's tallest hotel (1575 feet).