April 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Truly the first of its kind, Shangri-La's newest venture in the Middle East is three-hotels-in-one, and it single-handedly ups Oman's luxury hotel rooms by 60 percent. Set within 124 acres of landscaped gardens, overlooking the mountains and gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Oman, the Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is just 20 minutes from downtown Muscat. The destination resort is comprised of three hotels (Al Waha, Al Bandar, and Al Husn), 19 restaurants and bars, three private beaches, 6,000 sq meters of swimming pools, and a CHI spa. And don't fret; this oasis hideaway isn't without its own nightclub. With the third hotel (Al Husn) now opened, the resort counts 680 sea-facing rooms with private balconies, terraces or patios. The separate Chi Spa Village will be fully operational in May, consisting of private villas for rejuvenating treatments, three freshwater swimming pools, 19 (count 'em!) food and beverage outlets, meeting rooms and an open-air amphitheater. Did I mention the Oman Dive Center, Kids Club, Dolphin and Whale-watching trips, and marina? O- Man!
Take your pick between Ritz-Carlton's two, sun-kissed Naples hotels and get fantastic discounts this summer. From your guestroom balcony in the AAA Five Diamond Award Golf Resort, gaze out over the rolling green of the 36-hole Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Course. Or if golf isn't your thing-- take a room with a Gulf View at the elegant Ritz-Carlton Hotel Naples, a grand seaside resort with exceptional amenities including spa, pool, and gorgeous beach with watersports. Between June 1 and September 30, the "Summer Sand and Sun" package starts at a mere $159 per night at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort and $199 at Ritz-Carlton Naples. Additionally, they're giving out resort credits left and right: stay for three nights and get a $100 resort credit (for dining, spa treatments, resort apparel in the gift shop, go wild!), five night stays score $200 credits and when you stay a full week: $300.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples, Five Star Alliance
Ritz-Carlton Naples, Five Star Alliance
Storytelling teas, Easter baskets, premium chocolate candies, Easter Egg Hunt and Roll, and an epic Easter Brunch. The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is positively hopping with merriment this weekend. Of all these festivities, here's a taste of what's in store: On both Friday and Saturday, at 3 pm, children will be delighted with a magical storytelling tea where "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" is brought to life with decorations and delicious delights ($40 per person). The classic Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Sunday morning at 10 am on the 8th floor landing, hosted by the Easter Bunny, and his assistant Chickie. The Egg Roll takes place at the same time in the State Room. While the kids are having the time of their lives, their parents can indulge in chocolate-tasting at ethel's chocolate lounge in the hotel lobby. And even learn the art of premium fondue. The best part of the weekend? The traditional Easter Brunch at Seasons Restaurant, where the award-winning chef and staff devise over 100 specialty brunch items to dazzle the palate. At the six different stations, enjoy dishes like Leg of Spring Lamb with Mint Pesto, Tomato Crusted Filet of Halibut or a Salad of Chilled Green and White Asparagus with Aigrellette Sauce. Seatings begin at 11:00 am and reservations are $85.00 per adult and $20.00 per child 12 and under. Take advantage of the special Easter Weekend rate, with your prepaid purchase of Easter Brunch or the Storytelling Tea. Rates begin at $305 per night, and include lovely children's Easter baskets, stuffed to the brim with goodies.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Official Site
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Five Star Alliance
Shake or stir up the perfect weekend at Dukes Hotel, renowned worldwide for its marvelous Martinis, and of course the best Dry Martini in town. Located in a quiet spot on St. James's Place, Dukes is a charming, privately-owned luxury hotel set in a flowering gas-lit courtyard, just minutes from London's finest restaurants, theaters, galleries and exclusive shops. This luxurious boutique-- with its 89 rooms and suites individually decorated like a private home-- prizes its reputation for its happening Cocktail Bar. Brace yourself for the launch of the new Martini Menu, which will add clever concoctions such as a Filthy Dirty Martini, a Dukes Chocolate Martini, a Balsamic Vinegar Martini, a Saffron Martini, and a Rose Petal Martini, along with the traditional house specialties. In celebration of these libations, Dukes has introduced a special Martini Madness package, for Friday night arrivals throughout 2006. Priced at GBP 920 for three nights (double occupancy), the package includes: luxurious accommodations for two, full English breakfast daily, a private tasting with the bartender, a lesson on making the perfect Martini, and at-home presentation tips, two martinis at the happening bar, dinner for two at Dukes restaurant, and a special Recovery Massage for two. Top that off with a complimentary Dukes Martini set in a beautiful gift box that includes two Martini glasses, a bottle of gin, a miniature bottle of Vermouth, a lemon peeler, and a Dukes Martini leaflet with instructions on how to make a Martini. Cheers to that.
Dukes Hotel, Official Site
Dukes Hotel, Five Star Alliance
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?"