October 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
An exotic tropical island, beachfront villa on Martinique, private bungalow in the Greek Islands, the seclusion of the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee… Relais and Chateaux properties offer the perfect romantic escape, whether for a honeymoon, anniversary, or quick romantic getaway. When you use your American Express Card to book at select luxurious destinations around the world, you'll receive the fourth night for free, along with a special VIP welcome amenity, such as Champagne on arrival and an assortment of local regional delicacies. Available through December 31, 2006.
(Pictured: Capri's stunning Hotel Caesar Augustus, perched on the cliffs high above the sea.)
Look out, Four Seasons. Shangri-La, the largest operator in Asia of deluxe hotels (raking in revenue of about $1 billion a year) is coming to Europe. According to a recent IHT article, the Hong Kong-based company is "on a major expansion spree, with 44 new hotels to be developed over the next four years, and the company is still seeking more sites." Indeed, the chief executive, Giovanni Angelini, personally scouted the ideal spot in Paris for Shangri-La's first luxury hotel in Europe: the historic palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte near the Trocadero. The hotel group is also looking at major American cities and European capitals. Significantly, Shangri-La is the largest operator of luxury hotels in China and is planning to double its current 20 hotels by 2010. To quote Angelini:
"By the year 2020, it is expected there will be more than 100 million Chinese travelers," he said. "Can you imagine the impact? Japan has made a tremendous impact in the industry and it never reached more than 17 million travelers.
Recently featured in an excellent Financial Times article about luxury travel, The Fasano in Sao Paulo is indeed one of the world's best hotels.
The rooms so chic, chocolate and cosseting, you will find yourself revising your low opinion of so-called design hotels. Bathrooms are simply vast, the location spot-on and service conspicuously good for capricious South America.
Most importantly, this is the spot of one of the best Italian restaurants in the world. The Fasano family name is well known in São Paulo: their signature restaurant has dignified the grand avenue (Rua Vittorio Fasano) since 1990, the recipes for its grand cuisine brought from Milan a century ago. The hotel's facilities are nothing short of decadent: rooftop health club with pool, baths, sauna (and stunning views), a fleet of limousines for airport pick-ups and transfers, hip jazz bar, and swank guest rooms. A truly glamorous address with exceptional service.
The star, the legend, the superstar, the crème de la crème of Chefs-- Alain Ducasse-- will open a new restaurant at the St. Regis in Manhattan. We're talking about the only guy in the world to own and operate three signature restaurants each honored with three Michelin stars. (Starwood is pleased as pie about this new arrangement.) The restaurant will open in March 2007 and will also feature a wine bar. The St. Regis Hotel, New York isn't exactly a shabby address: the majestic property was recently named the number one hotel in the world by the readers of Institutional Investor, the first New York hotel to win the top spot in the survey's 25-year history.
Congrats to Le Place d'Armes, the first ever Canadian hotel to pick up this coveted award. Each year the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences bestows the prestigious International Star Diamond Award to five star hotels deemed to represent the height of excellence and quality. This sophisticated boutique hotel combines the best of old and new Montreal after an elegant $29 expansion to its existing historic buildings. Le Place d'Armes offers exceptional service, accommodations, gastronomy and high-end amenities to pamper its guests. The 83 rooms and 52 suites are designed in marble, slate, leather and rich wood; luxurious options include jetted or therepeutic baths, exposed brick walls, terraces, electric fireplaces, and city views. Rainspa-- the 2,000 square foot urban day spa-- boasts the city's first hammam. In addition to the award-winning fine dining at Aix Cuisine Du Terroir, the hotel also houses the trendy bar/lounge Suite 701, where local hipsters and guests alike seek out the sophisticated ambiance and delicious martinis.
Adored by Madonna, the super-stylish Blue Bar-- located by the lobby of the Berkeley hotel-- is oft considered one of London's best bars. Designed by David Collins, the 50-seat bar is distinguished by the black crocodile print leather floor, white onyx bar, sunken seat area, and, most of all, by the gorgeous color of the room, which the designer has dubbed "Lutyens Blue." The drinks list includes a wide selection of Champagnes, original and contemporary cocktails, wine by the glass, and over 50 different whiskies. (There's even a Grape and Smoke menu for guests to pair cigars with carefully chosen wines.) In addition to the olives, caramelized nuts, and tasty nibbles which accompany each drink order, guests also enjoy the Asian-inspired tapas menu, which includes delicate and delicious dishes like queenie scallops with wasabi and lime vinaigrette, char smoked salmon with basil and yogurt, lime leaf and chicken on coconut crisp and citrus coulis rice paper, and nori wrapped vegetable rolls.
Start making plans now for the coming ski season. The ultra-luxurious Amangani is the place to be, ranked among the top après-ski destinations in the world and also consistently voted the nation's best spa by readers of Conde Nast Traveler. Set atop East Gros Ventre Butte, Amangani offers panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks around Grand Teton National Park. This is one of America's last true wilderness refuges, and guests can view the magnificent wildlife—elk, bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer and the occasional moose seek the sanctuary of the National Elk Refuge when snow blankets the higher altitudes—by cross-country skis or snowshoes. Jackson Hole's Rendezvous and Apres Vous mountains offer a host of excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Amangani's private Ski Lounge is conveniently located below Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's Bridger Gondola at the base of Rendezvous mountain, a quick 20-minute complimentary transfer from the resort. The Ski Lounge is staffed with a ski valet to assist with rentals and other details, and provides boot and glove warmers, ski racks, baskets for ski gloves, mittens and goggles to ensure that all equipment stays dry and comfortable. Soak up the warm après-ski ambience back at Amangani, sipping a hot toddy, mulled wine or ginger tea by the large fireplaces while gazing out the two-storey window wall at the Snake River range. And of course the award-winning spa is a welcome retreat after a day on the slopes, featuring slate-lined steam rooms, luxurious spa treatments, and the stunning 35-meter open-air pool, warm enough to be enjoyed all year round.
These days more and more women are taking an interest in golf, and resorts have picked up on the trend, courting women to the green with special spa-golf combo packages, and gender-specific classes and programs to introduce ladies to the fun challenges of golf. Traditionally, golf has been a men's game, with women comprising only 18 percent of the "core golf" market. But the times they are a-changing. As pinpointed in a recent CNN article, the upward trend in women's interest in golf has spawned a slew of new packages at resorts across the nation:
At Pinehurst, a sprawling 144-hole golf resort in central North Carolina, instructors created a daylong course called Discover Golf that aims to get beginners -- both men and women -- whacking balls before they learn the ins and outs of the game…Though designed for either sex, the classes have attracted far more women than men so far… all but two of this year's 40 students were women.
The women attendees have raved about the program as great fun, and an excellent opportunity for networking. And you can't beat Pinehurst Resort for the place to learn and perfect your game: the resort is legendary, with eight pristine championship golf courses where the best players in history have all gone before. This is the site of more championships than any other golf course in the country. (With fine luxury spa facilities to boot.)
The star chef has accumulated quite a loyal following from his renowned restaurants in Paris, Toyko, and Las Vegas, and now the legend arrives in Manhattan at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, newly opened at Four Seasons Hotel New York. The design is innovative: the heart of the restaurant is an open kitchen, dissolving the traditional boundaries between the dining room and kitchen. From the 20 individual seats at the U-shaped pearwood bar, diners can gape at the culinary team at work. The restaurant itself is elegant (details in wood and lacquered black and red) and very intimate: in addition to the pearwood counter, there are only 26 more seats in the whole joint. The cuisine is nothing short of spectacular, prepared with the highest quality ingredients. Famed dishes include the Pommes Purée Truffée (truffled mashed potatoes) and the popular La Caille Farcie de Foie Gras et Caramélisée (free-range quail stuffed with foie gras). With the nightly tasting menu, lucky guests can create their own multi-course Robuchon experience.
September 29, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Conrad Chicago These days all of the luxury hotels have packages or gimic to help attract new guests and market their property. In this case the Conrad Chicago (which just finished a major renovation) has 4 ongoing deals that aren't just gimics, but great add-ons to a Chicago visit. Halloween Package (through 10/31/06) this package includes orange cotton candy, gummy worms and spiders upon check-in for the children, 2 tickets to attend Navy FEAR at Navy Pier, and truffle pumpkin cookies for the entire family to enjoy. Business Retreat (through 12/31/06) includes complimentary coffee delivered to room following wake-up call , dry cleaning for 1 suite, executive services, a selection from our NY Times bestseller booklist, personal shopper to find a gift for your loved ones back home. Holidays on Magnificent Mile (through 12/31/06) includes shipping of shopping items within us up to $30.00, a $50.00 gift card, and a VIP savings passport for Westfield North Bridge, holiday Martini, gift wrapping, turndown, late check-out, and parking for 1 night. Tut at Twilight (through 12/31/06) includes 2 adult tickets to the King Tut exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. Extra tickets available for purchase. Reserve the Conrad Chicago