LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
May 9, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Spa-lovers rejoice. The Peninsula Chicago recently debuted the brand new Spa by ESPA. Ranked the number one Urban Hotel Spa by Conde Nast Traveler (April 2006), the 14,000 square foot Peninsula Spa just got even better. Sprawling over the top two floors of the hotel, encased in floor-to-ceiling windows, the newly renovated spa offers unparalleled views of the city. The Peninsula Spa by ESPA is the first of its kind in Chicago, the third spa worldwide created in partnership between Peninsula and internationally renowned spa consultancy ESPA. (The other locations are Hong Kong and Bangkok.) ESPA has developed a unique spa program which includes exclusive treatments and high-quality products, spa-design services, management, recruitment, and intensive training. (ESPA therapists must undergo a rigorous eight week training course.) Try a unique treatment like the ESPA Body Envelopment with algae, marine mud, or oshadi clay, Face and Back Facial, or the holistic hand and feet experience, then head to the pool and sundeck to lounge over the "Magnificent Mile."
The trend for cutting-edge boutique hotels is catching on in major metropolises across Asia. As recently featured by Newsweek International, these cool hotels are "popping up in Asia's more cosmopolitan cities faster than construction cranes." In recent years Hong Kong and Singapore have paved the way with a slew of intimate design hotels, but now Shanghai is also getting its share of hip boutiques. Opening within months of each other, these new luxury hotels include the 30-room Mansion Hotel, a renovated French villa-style manor which "evokes the swinging Shanghai of the 1920s", and M Suites, which has a "sleeker, more contemporary feel." But perhaps the most exciting news of all: the sexy, Philippe Starck-designed Jia Hotel in Hong Kong is branching out to two new locations: Krabi, Thailand and Shanghai.
Imagine: your own luxury villa with all the amenities of a world-class resort. One of the most exclusive refuges in Belize, Azul Resort is a tranquil paradise of only two villas. Situated on 400 feet of private beach lapped by turquoise water, the pair of 3,000 square-foot, two-level structures are outfitted with rooftop hot tubs, custom kitchens with Viking appliances, Apple computers, 50-inch plasma flat-screen TVs, and Bose home theater systems. There's an infinity pool, the hip Rojo Lounge next door, and private chef service. The price tag? Starting from $1,875 per night (summer and fall rates).
What's not to love about Charleston? Fabulous shops, charming historic buildings and Antebellum mansions, the lively port, fragrant gardens, lovely art galleries, and some of the country's top hotels, like the luxurious Market Pavilion Hotel. Here, guests are treated to every possible amenity: personal butlers, the most sophisticated technology, high thread count Frette linens and down pillows, plush terry cloth robes, cashmere blankets... Located in the epicenter of downtown, the AAA four-diamond hotel is just minutes from the waterfront. Each guest room is positively decadent, with double-paned windows opening to harbor breezes. Furnished in the old Charleston style, guest rooms feature mahogany foyers, heavy plaster crown molding, original paintings, Old World décor, four poster beds and marble topped bedside tables. Kick back and relax at the rooftop cascading pool, located high above the treetops with excellent views of the harbor and skyline. Nearby, the Pavilion Bar provides savory cuisine and cocktails to enjoy with the view. For an unforgettable meal, dine at Grill 225, the city's first and only USDA Prime steak house, conveniently located in the hotel. The charms of Charleston are yours for the taking at the Market Pavilion Hotel.
In a city that oozes hipness, the Hotel Unique epitomizes cool. Designed by the Brazilian-Japanese architect Ruy Ohtake, the hotel is an ultra-modern architectural landmark in the exclusive Jardins district of Sao Paulo. The 95 carefully designed guest rooms and suites are spread out over six floors in the building that looks like a watermelon slice, dotted with circular windows (the "seeds"-- how clever!) Rooms are loaded with technology: flat-screen TVs, DVD, phones that work anywhere in the hotel, free Internet. From the rooftop swimming pool and lounge, the cityscapes are magnificent. Don't be turned off by the crimson color of the pool; if you go for a dip, you'll be rewarded with groovy underwater sounds.
This summer, think Jamaica. Posh properties like Half Moon in Montego Bay are available for a steal. Step into a world of leisure and timeless elegance, surrounded by sandy crescent beaches, white-washed cottages, and fragrant gardens. With the Sizzling Summer Special at Half Moon, you can earn free nights and free rounds of golf if you book a stay of seven nights or more. For example, stay seven nights, get one night and one round of golf for free; stay 8-9 nights, get two nights and two rounds of golf free! (You get the picture...) Plus, rates are unbelievably low, starting from just $250 per night. Available until May 31, 2007. The Good Life Package is equally as enticing, available until December 15, 2007. Enjoy luxurious accommodations, sumptuous daily breakfast, leisurely lunch and gourmet dinner daily, premium drinks at the hotel bars, welcome gift and champagne in room, round trip airport transfers, and the best part of all: a complimentary Swedish massage for each adult. Starting from just $469 per night with a minimum three-night stay.
Celebrating its 20th year in 2007, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is a popular luxury destination situated on 3,000 acres outside Pittsburgh. The Mobil Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond resort features two world-class golf courses, 14 excellent restaurants and lounges, the internationally acclaimed Woodlands Spa, Equestrian Center, Kids Club, Shooting Academy, Off-Road Driving Academy, tennis, and myriad other activities. Additionally, the resort is home to the AAA Five-Diamond Falling Rock boutique hotel, inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
With a slew of family-oriented packages and special events, Nemacolin Woodlands is the ideal resort getaway for the whole family to enjoy. Kids will be thrilled with the Wet, Wild, and Woohoo Special; book a three-night stay and receive a $300 amenity credit to be used throughout the resort. Kids can splash away at The Marina at Paige's Beach, take a ride on the Fatbird Express Safari at the all-new Wildlife Academy, or get down and dirty with Xtreme activities at the Adventure Center. While the kids are happily entertained, parents can enjoy the spa, golf courses, wine-tasting, and fine dining. Celebrate Mother's Day with the special Mother's Day brunch on Sunday, May 13, and Memorial Day weekend means family events galore, including a night time mini-golf tournament, carnival games, and DJ entertainment.
Celebrated travel writer Pico Iyer will be giving a writing seminar on June 7, 2007 at Bali's beautiful Amandari resort. Perched high above the Ayung River gorge overlooking terraced rice fields in Bali's hill country, Amandari was designed as a walled Balinese village of 30 luxurious suites designed with coconut wood and teak, connected by river-stone walkways to the green-tiled swimming pool and magical open-air lobby. In this incredible setting, Pico Iyer will discuss the craftsmanship behind travel writing and how to highlight the distinct elements of a particular destination. Of course, questions about travel and the writing process are welcomed during the two-hour session. Partake in the writing session while enjoying Amandari's Classic Bali, a three-night offer which includes daily breakfast and a choice of six activities, from cooking classes to scenic Ayung River treks. From June 9-24, a complimentary morning yoga/tai-chi session is also included.
So what if the hotel's launch was a crazy publicity stunt for Volkswagen? (Or maybe I've just developed an obsession for concept hotels.) Copenhagen's Hotel Fox is an unique work of art. Unveiled in 2005, this exciting lifestyle hotel was designed by 21 artists from the fields of graphic design, urban art and illustration. Each of the 61 rooms was individually designed-- from whacky comic styles to Japanese Manga, from street art to fantasy. Guests choose the kind of room that suits their mood: the Sensuality room, Royal Wedding room, King's Forest, Japanese Garden. You can even book the "Tour de Fox" to experience the playful Fox universe with three nights in three difference rooms. At Fox kitchen & bar, sample funky cocktails and innovative food with the hipsters of Copenhagen; a special cocktail is created to match each course. Enjoy free high-speed Internet and personally-customized Mini-bar bags (Hangoverbag, Moviebag, Loversbag) made just for you.
Ahh, Florence. Fabled Tuscan city in the wine-growing hills of Chianti, home to magnificent Renaissance architecture and formidable art museums, the jewel of Italy. It may be packed with tourists in the summer, but Florence is still a premier destination, a treasure for art lovers. (After all, UNESCO estimates that 60 percent of the world's most important artworks are in Italy, with more than half located in Florence.) Rocco Forte's Hotel Savoy, located in the very heart of the city showcasing breathtaking, panoramic views over the Florentine rooftops, is offering a special package to celebrate the spectacular Cézanne exhibition at the historical Palazzo Strozzi. The Celebrate Cézanne package includes room upgrades upon availability at time of check-in, daily breakfast, entry to the exhibition and a copy of the official exhibition catalogue. Valid until July 29, 2007, with a minimum two-night stay required, rates start from EUR 480 per night in a Classic double room.