April 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
While visiting family and friends in Nashville, head to the city's treasured landmark, the Hermitage Hotel, for its famous Easter Brunch set in the historic lobby. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the luxurious Hermitage has racked up numerous awards, including AAA Five Diamond status and Robb Report's Best of the Best. Take advantage of the Easter Brunch package, starting at $279, and relax in splendor in a richly-furnished guest room, with its sumptuous fine thread count fabrics and all marble bathrooms.
In addition, the hotel is offering a Mother's Day Brunch Package that is sure to delight the most discriminating of guests. Brunch for two in the historic lobby features selections from the Capitol Grille. During mother's overnight stay, she will be spoiled with the hotel's Contemporary Bath Service, prepared by the Bath Concierge, with oversized plush towels, a bottle of fresh spring water, seasonal fruit, candles, rose petals, slippers, a luxurious robe, and a selection of aromatic bath salts and bath gels. Rates start at $349.
The Hermitage, Official Site
The Hermitage, Five Star Alliance
For those in the know, this boutique hotel occupies the 28th-42nd floors of the landmark Waldorf-Astoria, just steps from Park Avenue in Midtown. It's a luxurious space with a comfortable residential ambience, with excellent personalized service and amenities for the business traveler. This spot is all about convenience: with a superb location and access to the Astoria Lounge, full-service business center and Plus One Fitness Center. The Waldorf Towers is now offering VIP access to MoMA, so that you can skip the lines and get admission to the museum at any time. The MoMA VIP Ticket package starts at $419 per night, and includes accommodations, two VIP tickets (children under 16 are free), and discount vouchers for the Midtown bistro Brasserie. Valid until Dec. 31, 2006.
Could Atlantis get any more mammoth? The kitschy celebration of the Lost Continent of Atlantis has these stats: 2,300 guest accommodations (the Royal Towers, Coral Towers and Beach Tower), 35 restaurants, a goliath casino, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and a marina that can hold the biggest and baddest of the private luxury yachts. Not to mention the 11 million gallons of swimming pools with water slides and cascades, and marine exhibits with a whopping 50,000 live animals. Kids go gaga over the replica Atocha (the Spanish galleon with oodles of sunken treasure that a Florida treasure-seeker uncovered) at the Kids Club, and apparently guests consume over 1 ton of lobster tails per week. Just what doesn't this resort have? Enough space (!), of course. Atlantis continues to undergo a massive development, which will include the Residences at Atlantis, an exclusive condominium-hotel for lucky owners to enjoy the casino and water activities galore, all year round. Additional features of the $1 billion development project include 1,450 rooms by next spring (including a luxury all-suite hotel), an expansion to the water park, a new dolphin facility, 100,000 sq ft of additional meeting facilities, and the new Nobu restaurant from world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
As featured in the April 2006 Travel and Leisure, Gaia Hotel and Reserve, located near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, is Costa Rica's newest luxury hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels, this tropical boutique property is situated among the lush coastal rainforests of the Pacific coast. The terraced suites and villas overlook these incredible natural surroundings, a pristine nature reserve packed with exotic wildlife and chattering white-faced monkeys. This is a luxurious retreat, appointed with modern amenities, spa, gym, pool, and private butler service to attend to guests' every need. Gaia presents eco-tourism at its best, a project designed for the preservation of the natural reserve and protection of local flora and fauna for future generations. For a limited time, the resort is offering the "Soft Open Special" during the construction of their new Clubhouse, which will house the spa, gym, conference room, business center and game room. Take advantage of rates up to 20 percent off, starting at $240 per night (studio for two people), minimum three night stay, valid until April 30.
Follow the likes of Trista and Ryan (of Bachelorette fame) and countless celebs on this elite private island resort that Andrew Harper's calls "as close to heaven on earth as you're likely to get." 500 acres of bliss for only 14 couples at one time, and a staff of 150 to provide for and pamper them. Turtle Island is truly one of the world's finest and most romantic resorts. Settle into your elegant "bure," a traditional hand-crafted thatched cottage with outdoor verandahs overlooking blue lagoons. Rates are all-inclusive, including all gourmet meals, all drinks including alcohol, massage, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, private picnics, scuba diving, and countless other activities. And now is the time to fly free to Turtle Island, as the resort is offering two free coach tickets from Los Angeles and free seaplane transfers, with a seven night stay. Nightly rates start at $1,975 per night, per couple (Grand Bure accommodations). Travel must be completed by May 11, 2006.
Turtle Island, Official Site
Turtle Island, Five Star Alliance
That's right. The tiny, former Portuguese colony in China surpassed Las Vegas as the world's biggest gambling city, its casinos raking in $6.8 billion last year. According to the Telegraph:
Hollywood has led me to believe that the really high rollers jet into the casinos of the Bellagio or the Venetian in Las Vegas. But I was wrong. In terms of sheer spending power nowhere comes close to this former Portuguese colony, which now services the immense desire of the growing monied classes of China to gamble. Here, the average take per table per day is $18,000. In the VIP rooms that flank the main hall, $50,000 bets regularly change hands-- and it is on these private tables that nearly three quarters of Macau's gambling revenue is made, compared with just 25 per cent in Las Vegas. The slot machines in Macau largely stand empty, yet in Vegas they make three quarters of the profits.
And Las Vegas-style luxury hotels are on the rise: the $240 million Sands opened in 2004; the Wynn Macau is scheduled for this year, along with the $800 million sister hotel to Las Vegas's Venetian. Apparently, Macau is due for its own $1 billion MGM-Mirage, complete with underwater casino, and luxury hoteliers like Four Seasons, Hilton, InterContinental, Starwood, Park Hyatt and Shangri-La are staking out their territory.
The Informed Traveler, "What's Up With Macau?"
The clever folks at Bliss add lots of whimsy and wit to their product line and divine treatments at their Spas dotted across North America and Britain. Take the hangover herbie-- designed to be the "perfect pick for post-reveling recuperation"-- with its purifying essential oil and wrap-up, revitalizing mask, foot massage, anti-migraine massage, skin-saving oxygen spray and Pure Inventions Green Tea Concentrates. I mean, how cool is that? I'd venture to say cutting-edge cool. And the gimmicky stuff-- movie-while-you-manicure nail stations, rhythm and blues tunes and the trademark brownie buffet-- is as fun and innovative as their unique spa language (blissage, def: "a massage performed at Bliss.")
Their newest spa debut: a 7,000 sq ft facility in the W Westwood. Ten treatment rooms, luxurious men's and women's lounges, and an in-spa store. Not to mention the nifty treatments, including the famous Triple Oxygen Treatment (a facial that includes cleansing, exfoliating, a fruit acid peel, oxygen wrap, a calming oxygen and milk mask, and hydrating enzymatic wrap), the double choc pedicure, the firm fiancee, and the whopper of them all: the premarital pore-fection (a series of six monthly Triple Oxygen Treatments). You've got to check these guys out. The spa menu isn't exactly a chore to read.
W Los Angeles-Westwood, Official Site
W Los Angeles-Westwood, Five Star Alliance
Next to the green urban oasis of Hyde Park in the heart of Sydney, Sheraton on the Park is considered one of the city's best luxury hotels, awarded to both the Conde Nast Traveler and Luxury Travel Mag's Gold Lists for 2006. The 557 luxurious rooms were completely revamped in 2003 with sumptuous contemporary furnishings. And the hotel is Sydney's largest conference hotel, with meeting and function rooms available to seat up to 900. But the best part of the place is the top-caliber recreational choices: the Executive Club Lounge offers a stunning rooftop pool, health club and spa with sweeping city views. For a limited time, Sheraton on the Park is offering three night Easter specials starting at $233 per night. (The Easter Package is priced at $299 for a single night stay, $499 for two nights, and $699 for three nights--which averages to $233 a night.) Daily buffet breakfast for two and valet parking are also included.
Sheraton on the Park, Official Site
Sheraton on the Park, Five Star Alliance
Listed on the Travel and Leisure 500, the Nile-facing luxury hotel has earned top recognition as the best in the Middle East, surpassing even Dubai's modern masterpieces. It boasts a wondrous city resort setting, with all the first-class amenities expected in a Four Seasons hotel, including superb business facilities, and largest Spa in Cairo. After a day spent exploring the dynamic city or the ancient Pyramids, head to the Health Club for a work-out with stunning views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Followed by the sauna, steam room, whirlpool or cold plunge pool at the Spa, or a drink by the secluded rooftop pool. On this meticulously landscaped outdoor terrace, 17 private cabanas are situated next to the three heated pools. From your chic and spacious guest room, take in the panoramic view from the deep soaking tub in the all-marble bathroom.
Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza, Official Site
Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza, Five Star Alliance
April 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Change is afoot in Ft. Lauderdale, where the Intracoastal Waterway will be transformed with a new megayacht marina and five-star hotel. Just when we thought southern Florida couldn't get any more developed (satiric novelist Carl Hiassan is no doubt rolling his eyes at this one), the $100 million project will double the docks in size, adding three-phase power, WiFi and broadband, water, and pump-out stations. The adjacent hotel--the old Marina Marriott-- will get a $50 million infusion to debut as the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club. LXR Luxury Resorts aims to create the country's leading marina resort, stocked with 579 guest rooms, 33 yacht slips (for boats up to 300 feet), and 20,000 sq ft of meeting space. Spring specials are as low as $109 a night.