July 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Labor Day weekend is a mouth-watering affair at the legendary Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. Phoenix Cooks! is Arizona's premier culinary event, developed by Clear Channel Radio, The Biltmore, and Food and Life Magazine to showcase the Valley's top chefs and their talents. Foodies indulge in a weekend of culinary adventures at the Biltmore, including the Parade of Chefs reception on Friday, September 1 (eight local celebrity chefs do their thing and cook up signature dishes, paired with fine wines), Saturday's Gourmet Food and Kitchen Show (interactive cooking demonstrations and food forums with top chefs, wine tastings, gourmet kitchen displays by Dacor and Viking, a beer garden, and a chef's marketplace), the Wine Maker Dinner (a five-course extravaganza with specialties from five different chefs), and the Chef's Champagne Brunch (simply divine). Individual tickets may be purchased for the events, though the Arizona Biltmore has designed an exceptional VIP package specifically for the event.
The Phoenix Cooks! package includes two nights luxurious accommodations, a VIP chef's amenity, and admission to the Parade of Chef's Reception, the Gourmet Food and Kitchen Show, the Wine Maker Dinner and the Chef's Champagne Brunch. Package price is $399, which is a real deal, considering individual ticket prices range from $55 per person (Champagne Brunch) to $95 per person (the Parade of Chefs).
An urban retreat by the sea, the Viceroy is a happening Santa Monica hot spot, known for its fusion of classic sophistication and contemporary style. This beach boutique is boldly designed and utterly luxurious, its 163 guestrooms featuring ocean views and the finest quality amenities: custom beds with down comforters and pillows, over-sized showers, fully-stocked minibars, entertainment center with 27" flat screen TV, music and video games, in-room CD-DVD player and 2-line telephones with speaker capability. And the Monarch Suite rocks; the Penthouse has a balcony, living room with wet bar, and whirlpool tub. Relax in a poolside cabana, head to the beach, shop the nearby Third Street Promenade, or work out in the 24-hour fitness facility. In the evening, grab a cocktail at the chic Cameo bar, packed nightly with the city's trendsetters, and savor the California-French cuisine at Whist, rated one of the top hotel restaurants by Travel and Leisure. Until December 30, 2006, the Viceroy Santa Monica is offering the "L.A. A La Carte" package, which includes accommodations in a viceroy or ocean-view room, breakfast for two, and a late check-out at 3 pm. Starting at $389 per night (taxes and tips additional).
It's being called the "largest development in the hemisphere." The O Property Collection has announced its development of 2.24 sq-mile Dellis Cay, a breaktakingly beautiful island in the Turks and Caicos. With stunning tropical beaches and lagoons, the islands are also known for their spectacular diving and snorkeling, as the third largest coral reef system in the world is located just off-shore. This flagship project is located just 20 minutes from Providenciales. According to Travel Weekly:
Scheduled to open in 2008, the project is estimated to generate a billion dollars worth of sales within the next five years… The development will be divided into lifestyle zones, each designed by a different architect. OPC, which also has projects planned in the Mediterranean and Asia, will partner with hotel management companies to run the individual properties worldwide. Although each property development will be different, Kinay said that they will all "bear the marks of the OPC signature brand -- timeless architecture, sleek design, a fit with the natural surroundings and the finest in amenities and services."
But the company's website is remarkably vague about a project of this magnitude:
The Project involves building infrastructure and about 70,000 square meters of construction within the next three to five years. On the island, which will be divided into "lifestyle areas" designed by the world's foremost architects, the focus will be on creating an upscale, exclusive private island serving the needs of affluent travelers.
Another reason why Abu Dhabi is shaking things up: the Guggenheim Foundation has recently announced plans to open a museum in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The new museum will be the biggest and most ambitious yet: 300,000 square feet designed by super-star Frank Gehry, 25 percent bigger than the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain.
The museum, to be called the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, would house Modern and contemporary art and serve as the linchpin of a sprawling development in a new cultural district of Saadiyat (Arabic for "isle of happiness"), a 10-square-mile natural island just off Abu Dhabi.
The new museum is slated to open in 2011.
New York Times, "Guggenheim Foundation and Abu Dhabi Plan Museum There"
The Informed Traveler, "Move Over Dubai: the Marvelous Makeover of Abu Dhabi"
Jack Nicklaus, Vijay Singh, John Daly and Stephen Ames called it home during the 2005 Telus Canadian Skins Game. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler offers guests the same thrill of world-renowned golfing, four-diamond dining, and luxurious accommodations. The Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is nestled at the foot of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains with a spectacular mountain backdrop. The par 72, 18-hole course has accumulated its share of awards: four and a half stars from Golf Digest, rated the number one Golf Resort Hotel in Canada by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, rated one in Golf Resort Canada, and Links Magazine calls the course "mountain golf at its finest." This dramatic course was carved from the slopes, overlooking rugged terrain of creeks, ponds, and pockets of Douglas fir, and with elevation changes of more than 400 feet. Notably, the on-site Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club is home to Canada's only David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
The Play Where the Pros Stay Package includes accommodation at the resort plus two individual rounds of golf at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club. Plus, all Fairmont Chateau Whistler guests enjoy the privileges of 'unlimited golf' and unlimited, free access to the Practice Facility.Valid until September 24, 2006, rates start from $249 CAD per person, per night. Stay midweek and the savings are considerable: starting at $149 CAD per person, per night, based on double occupancy for stays on Sunday through Thursday.
July 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Rob Wilder, Food & Wine Editor and Member of the Five Star Alliance Editorial Advisory Board In the US, great views usually are accompanied by mediocre food. Fortunately in Athens a different rule applies. Three of the better restaurants in town treat you to spectacular views. The menu at Pil Pil is only marginally Greek, but the location reminds you why you came to Athens. The dramatically lit Acropolis literally soars above this romantic patio, atop a small townhouse by the ancient agora. It is an "only in the movies" kind of setting! While somewhat pricey, Pil Pil delivers with fine Greco-Mediterranean dishes and excellent service. For an equally dramatic but very different panorama, ride the funicular to the top of Mount Lycavetus to Orizondes, a highly respected modern Greek restaurant perched atop this 1,000 foot cliff. With the chaotic jumble of Athens way below you, Orizondes produces wonderful food and service. Both restaurants have good selections of high quality Greek wines... look for any by Gerovasiliou or Kyr-Yianni. Finally, for a Michelin one-star experience with an almost equal view, head to the rooftop at Varoulko. Creative interpretations of every kind of Greek seafood are excellent. Perhaps the best overall dining experience in Athens? During our meal a summer lightning storm crashed around us, and our Greek friends coolly told us not to worry, the storm would miss us. Even when a few drops started falling, not a single diner budged from their open air seats- too enthralled with their dinners. The storm miraculously passed us by - Another magical evening in Athens! On the hotel front, we have had two good experiences at the St. George Lycabetus, perched on a hill over the upscale shopping area of Kolonaki. Fine rooms, great views (and rooftop pool), and an excellent location. Friends have also loved the Grand Bretagne, but it is both more expensive and in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Syntagma Square. The shops and restaurants of Kolonaki are big draw - our favorite is Papadakis, a youthful and modern take on the Greek Taverna with wonderful food and service. 9 Luxury Hotels in Athens from Five Star Alliance
The temperatures may be hot and steamy, but the prices are record-low. Head on down to Miami during Hurricane Season and seize the deal at South Beach hot spots like The Setai. Right now, the deals are unbelievable at Adrian Zecha's elegant beachfront masterpiece. Summer rates are starting at just $495, through September 2006. (The celeb-favorite Setai usually charges an arm and a leg.) Set amidst tropical gardens and turquoise pools next to the Atlantic, the Art Deco landmark has been beloved for its intimate ambience, impeccable service, and awesome facilities since its opening in 2005. No detail is overlooked in the 75 guestrooms and 45 suites, stacked with amenities: espresso machines, in-room bars, Bose surround-sound DVD/CD systems, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, luxurious bath products, and flat screen LCD and plasma TVs. Enjoy a deep therapeutic massage at the luxurious spa overlooking the sand and sea, and then savor the excellent cuisine at the Crustacean restaurant. And The Setai is located in the middle of it all on Collins Avenue, close to the hottest dining, shopping and nightlife in South Beach.
In October, the prestigious Rocco Forte Hotels—considered Europe's leading luxury hotel brand—will open a new five-star hotel in the heart of Berlin. Located in Bebelplatz, in the Mitte area of Berlin close to the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel de Rome will be housed in a historic building originally constructed in 1889. Formerly a large and distinguished bank building, the new Hotel de Rome will retain much of the architectural substance of the building. Indeed, the hotel will showcase these historic touches: the rooms leading to the banqueting hall are the former cashier's rooms of the bank; the ancient bank vault has been converted into a 15-meter swimming pool, and the grand offices of the former board members of Dresdner Bank have been transformed into suites.
The hotel will have 146 large bedrooms including 103 classic rooms, 32 junior suites, 10 one-bedroom suites and a presidential suite, measuring 120 square meters and boasting a full-length terrace overlooking Bebelplatz. The rooms will be a combination of classical design and contemporary "Berlin style" glass and steel, with all the latest cutting-edge technology, including Broadband Internet and interactive flat-screen television. Bathrooms feature mosaic marble detailing above double-ended baths, and separate walk-in showers. Other facilities include six conference rooms and banquet hall, restaurant, bar, health and fitness center with swimming pool, and Spa with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and plunge pool.
This is English country living at its finest. Set in the quaint village of Evershot in the heart of the Dorset Downs, Summer Lodge is a luxurious English Country House retreat. Named by Harpers and Queen as one of the Best 100 Places in the World, Summer Lodge arranges for its guests a host of country pursuits—horseback riding, fishing, golfing, shooting—though many of the distinguished clientele prefer simply to enjoy the relaxation and serenity of the hotel's exquisite grounds. Relax in the Spa or by the beautiful swimming pool (housed in a glass conservatory), play croquet on the lawn or a game of tennis, work-out at the gym with your own personal trainer, take traditional tea in the afternoon, and sample the gastronomic delights at the award-winning restaurant. Accommodations are exceptional; the 20 guestrooms and four suites are individually decorated and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including large plasma screen TV and DVD, satellite TV and Internet access. Choose the master bedroom for a truly unforgettable stay. 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.
With some superb packages now on offer at the Summer Lodge, why wait to reserve a well-deserved vacation? 3 nights for the price of 2 is available until December 31, 2006, and includes full English breakfast, morning newspaper, evening turndown, complimentary use of the Health Club, and 20 percent off treatments in the Spa. The Pampering Package is available until December 31, 2006, and includes: two nights accommodations (Superior Room), full English breakfast daily, Matis Total Youth Facial, Back, Neck and Shoulder massage.
The much-anticipated World's Best Awards has just been released by Travel and Leisure. In these 11th annual reader polls, the chic Singita Private Game Reserve scores at the top of the hotel list, after debuting as number 1 in the world in 2004. What makes the Singita such a hot property? Lions, tigers, and…elephants galore, and on top of that, some of the finest accommodations on the planet, consisting of 18 suites spread out within five lodges. The Sabi Sands is a wildlife mecca, and situated in the middle of this dramatic landscape, the lodges at Singita are internationally recognized as among the most exclusive in the world. After a daily expedition into the African bush, continue the wildlife viewing from the privacy of your own private deck. Or appreciate the gorgeous surroundings while indulging in a massage or beauty treatment at the excellent spa. Enjoy exceptional cuisine complemented by impressive wine cellars: each Singita lodge has a unique and comprehensive wine cellar, totalling approximately 35,000 bottles of the finest South African wines.
Gridskipper on the World's Best Awards, "This Just In: Tourists Love Touristy City"