The capital of tech gets its own snazzy Four Seasons. Rooftop pool, walls of contemporary art, floor-to-ceiling views, full-service spa and of course the signature Four Seasons doting service. Welcome to East Palo Alto, the edge of suburban sprawl and office park strip malls just minutes from the ivory towers of higher learning at Stanford. The 200 room hotel is "the centerpiece of the prestigious new University Circle complex" (or is this just a euphemism glorifying another Office Park?) But if you're on business in Palo Alto, what could be better than the classic luxury of Four Seasons with a high tech touch? Where in-room and poolside spa treatments are available after a long day of meetings. And guestrooms are spacious, full of light, and loaded with technology.
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Official Site
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Five Star Alliance
Party like a rockstar, or just get pampered like one, at the Sunset Marquis Hollywood hotspot, that's not exactly below the radar, but very much a hidden sanctuary in a tree-lined street just off Sunset Strip's main drag. Where else could you relax in your own magnificent Mediterranean style villa in the heart of the City of Angels? And surrounded by lush gardens, private landscaped terraces, and heated pools, to boot? As befits the hotel of choice for the international jet set and music industry clientele, villas and suites are bountifully equipped with oversized whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, private fax lines and high-speed internet access. And of course there's the on-site private recording studio and buzzing LA hotspot Whiskey Bar (talk about a rock n roll social scene).
Sunset Marquis Hotel and Villas, Official Site
Sunset Marquis Hotel and Villas, Five Star Alliance
The biggest, baddest party of the year (leaps and bounds better than Mardi Gras) has been announced, and this is the year to go. Proudly emerging from reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina, NOLA is as enticing as ever, though there's still a long way to go. And tourism's the ticket to get there. Following its historic tradition, 2006 Jazz Fest promises to be an awesome show, with Fats Domino already signed on to the line-up of legendary musicians. In fact, organizers have announced the show will take place over two weekends, April 28-30 and May 5-7. Advance tickets are $30 per day, and if you act fast, there might still be room at the stunning Windsor Court, consistently awarded as one of the world's finest hotels.
Windsor Court Hotel, Official Site
Windsor Court Hotel, Five Star Alliance
The cat's out of the bag. The ladies are flocking to the AAA five diamond Greenbrier for the March 8-12 scheduled Women's Wonderful Weekend, a relaxing four-day weekend designed just for women. The 4th annual event features an array of talented speakers, including authors Gail Sheehy and Christine Martinello, who lead sessions covering a range of topics (women's health issues, spiritual and mental growth, women in leadership roles, techniques to reduce stress, finance, fashion and beauty, etc). And of course besides the motivational discussions and reflection on personal growth, there's a birthday bash dinner party, "Not So Extreme Makeovers," and plenty of opportunities to divulge in the superb Greenbrier Spa. Rates are on the Modified American Plan (includes breakfast, dinner and a $50 spa voucher) and start at $380 per night single occupancy and $325 per night double occupancy.
The Greenbrier, Official Site
The Greenbrier, Five Star Alliance
That's right, the charming city of Aix is paying tribute to the great artist—this is the father of modern art we're talking about!-- all throughout 2006. Indeed, Cézanne's light-filled paintings have become inseparable symbols of the Provençal setting they depict, the landscape that helped create the artistic genius that influenced Cubism, Fauvism and abstract art. Head to the south of France for the spectacular exhibit Cézanne in Provence, which features over a hundred of the artist's works, with 80 oil paintings and 30 water colors—all associated with the region around Aix. Now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and showing at the Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, from June 9 - September 17, 2006. Additionally, starting April 8th the Tourism office will be operating a shuttle bus service to tour special Cezanne sites, including the studio at Les Lauves, the manor at Jas de Bouffan, and the quarries at Bibemus. The Cézanne 2006 season also includes performances, concerts, exhibitions, and music and dance. To really do it right in celebrating Cézanne's Provence, shack up at the Villa Gallici, an elegant paradise (and destination hotel) just 10 minutes from the town's historical center. (Where you can sip an aperitif on the statue-flanked terrace, overlooking the pool and Florentine gardens, before indulging in the evening's gastronomic feast.)
Villa Gallici, Official Site
Villa Gallici, Five Star Alliance
Here it is, the key to the signature Irish Coffee served by the experts at Dublin's most luxurious hotel. What better way to kill the chill of a cold winter's night.
The Merrion Irish Coffee
Jameson Irish Whiskey - 35 cl and a drop for good luck
Strong freshly brewed coffee (caffeinated or decaf)
2 Brown Sugar Cubes (depending upon required sweetness)
50 m. Heavy Cream
3 Coffee Beans
Fill a cafe latte glass with a handle with hot water and leave to warm. Brew a pot of coffee. Empty the water from the glass and place the sugar cubes inside. Caramelize the sugar by pouring a few drops of Whiskey over them and gently light with a long match. Only let it burn for a few seconds so that the sugar just begins to caramelize. Pour in the measure of Whiskey and fill with coffee to within one inch of the rim. Ensure you keep a teaspoon in the glass at this stage. Stir well and ensure the sugar is completely dissolved to avoid a grainy texture when drinking. Place the cream in a clean cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until whipped. Using the back of the spoon, gently pour the cream into the glass. Garnish with three coffee beans and serve.
And according to the good folks at The Merrion:
On a typical winter's evening, The Merrion might serve up about a dozen Irish Coffees to patrons. However Stephen Lynch, Assistant Manager for the Drawing Rooms and Bar No. 23, reports that about two-and-a-half years ago, he and his staff prepared 150 Irish Coffees in an hour and a half much to the pleasure of the entire French Rugby Team who had taken up residence in the hotel bar that evening.
The Merrion, Official Site
The Merrion, Five Star Alliance
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces spent a mere $27.1 million for one of the hottest hotels in Sydney. On its first venture in Australia, Taj dubbed the boutique property BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay, an apt name for the luxurious marina surroundings on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Indeed, this is a perfect location: a hop from the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the central business and shopping districts. Distinguished among the top hotels in Sydney-- on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List it was among the "Top 3 Best Hotels for Location in Australia/South Pacific"— BLUE also has an acclaimed restaurant and bar. (The Water Bar was named one of the "Top 5 Bars in the World" by Wallpaper mag in 2004 and one of the "Top 10 Bars in the World" in 2003 by CNT.) The 100 lavish guest rooms—including 36 stunning Loft Rooms-- retain authentic characteristics from the renovated historic wharf structure, but emanate urban chic and are equipped with all the latest technology. Not to mention sensational views of Sydney Harbor.
It's not too early to start planning your summer getaway. And why not think the UK countryside? Here's a favorite spot that the mags gush and rave about-- Harpers & Queen (Nov 2005) ranks the Summer Lodge as one of the 100 Best Places in the World:
With deckchairs scattered on sprawling lawns and trays laden with afternoon tea, this wisteria-clad Relais & Chateaux hotel in the beautiful Dorset Downs feels delightfully English – an atmosphere that extends into 24 extremely pretty, individually decorated rooms and suites.
X-factor: The lovely indoor pool, which is housed in a glass conservatory that looks out on the kitchen garden.
The room to choose? Why the master bedroom, of course. Room One was originally designed for famed writer Thomas Hardy and boasts a magnificent open fireplace and four poster bed overlooking the beautifully manicured English country gardens. Though you can't go wrong with the Ivy Cottage and its private hot tub in the courtyard garden.
Summer Lodge, Official Site
Summer Lodge, Five Star Alliance
Leave it to the NYT to spill the secret: Rome in wintertime just can't be beat. Off-season hotel rates, end of season sales means shopping galore, the perfect lack of gawking crowds, and a plethora of (warm) indoor cultural activities. Where to stay? The stunning, historic Hotel de Russie (this is one of Rocco Forte's many European gems) boasts gorgeous terraced gardens and central courtyard, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city near the Spanish Steps. And the Spa—with Turkish steam bath, hydropool, jacuzzi and sauna—ain't too shabby either.
Hotel de Russie, Official Site
Hotel de Russie, Five Star Alliance
This is it. The sports event of the year and fans are already going nuts. Our advice? Get ready, set, and book those hotel ressies ASAP before rooms book up for the June games (scheduled June 9-July 9). The official site is loaded with info about this year's World Cup and its host cities of Hamburg, Hanover, Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund, Leipzig, Cologne, Frankfurt, Kaiserlautern, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Munich. Our picks:
In Hamburg, head for the Raffles Vier Jahreszeiten which has been the city's symbol of impeccable service for over a century. The furnishings are exquisite: 16th and 17th century Flemish Gobelin tapestries, Baroque cupboards and Renaissance chests. (The mags Travel and Leisure and CNT also love this joint, and its kick-ass spa is listed as a Leading Spa by LHW.)
In Berlin, which is just hopping with trend-setters these days, there are a plethora of worthy establishments, including the Kempinski Hotel Bristol (with its kickin address), the Radisson SAS (with its 25 meter AquaDom cyclindrical aquarium in the lobby), and the beloved favorite, Schlosshotel Im Grunewald, the historic castle hotel that offers only 54 exclusive rooms and 12 suites, designed by the one and only Karl Lagerfeld.
In the heart of Bavaria, you simply can't go wrong with Munich's Mandarin Oriental or the Bayerischer Hof, dating from 1841 and now the country's largest privately-owned hotel (with central location and rooftop pool to boot).
Now get moving.