February 16, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In an era of premium air travel for the uber-rich, the likes of which has never been seen before, Singapore Airlines proves itself a trendsetter with the launch of its new fleet of Boeing 777-300ER's. As described by ABC News, the "Orient Express of the skies" makes the 20-hour flights seem short:
For a mere $10,000, first class airline passengers can now rest their champagne glasses on mahogany tables as they hunker down in Givenchy sleep suits in 30-inch leather seats that turn into cozy beds.
This is luxury flying at its finest, with the world's widest First and Business Class seats, enhanced personal space, awesome entertainment systems, and tempting cuisine. In addition, Singapore Airlines is scheduled to launch its new 555-seat Airbus 380 in October, which will boast a bar on each deck.
It may be sleeting, hailing, snowing (et freaking cetera) in this hemisphere, but the sun is shining in Cape Town. For those in desperate need of the summer sun, take off for Cape Town to bask in some sizzling temperatures. Twelve Apostles is the place to be, perfectly situated above the sea with stunning views of the mountains. The hotel boasts equally as stupendous accommodations and facilities: heated pools perched above the Atlantic, the exquisite Azure restaurant, the seriously sublime Sanctuary Spa, and panoramic sea views that go on forever. Of course Twelve Apostles has racked up a slew of impressive awards and accolades, as befits one of the world’s best hotels. When you stay for three nights at Twelve Apostles, get the fourth for free, along with a slew of added amenities thrown in. Like welcome drinks, full South African breakfast daily, wine tasting daily in Azure restaurant, complimentary transfers, and use of the hydrotherapy pools, aroma sauna and flotation tank at the Sanctuary Spa.
As if a stay at the Banyan Tree in the Maldives wasn't magical enough. The resort has organized sailing expeditions aboard the Turkish gulet, a 30-meter double-mast yacht named Velaa. Elegantly appointed, the yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in comfortable mahogany cabins for one-, two-, and three-night adventures to the best dive spots in the North and South Male Atolls of the Maldives archipelago. With five-star service onboard, gourmet cuisine, daily canapés and drinks, and luxurious cabins equipped with LCD TV screens and DVD players, this isn't exactly roughing it. Soak up the sunshine from the ship's deck, picnic on secluded beaches, explore the wonders of the deep, diving with grey reef sharks, eagle rays, barracuda, stonefish and turtles. After your unforgettable journey, return to the luxury of Banyan Tree Maldives for some more pampering.
Headed to Sonoma wine country? Forget trying to score a reservation at French Laundry. Head to Cyrus, the gem of a restaurant nestled just off the square in Healdsburg, housed in the superb Les Mars hotel. Rising Star Chef Douglas Keane and Maitre d' Nick Peyton offer contemporary cuisine in a flexible prix fixe format of three to five courses selected from any section of the beautiful menu. The ingredients are luxurious, the best from California's enormous bounty. Devour the terrine of foie gras with plum-ginger compote; corn, chanterelle and pancetta pansotti with cranberry beans, arugula and nage; or rack of lamb with eggplant ragout, fregola and stuffed squash blossom. Bartender Scott Beattie creates drinks to match, like the Creole Watermelon, a blend of vodka, crushed red watermelon, lime juice and Fresno chile rings, garnished with a triangle of watermelon rubbed with lime juice, kosher salt and chili powder. And if cocktails aren't your thing, Sommelier Jim Rollston's extensive wine list has over 750 world class wines, with a special focus on Sonoma appellations.
February 13, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The hottest "new" hotel in Manhattan, the most talked about hotel opening of 2006, Gramercy Park Hotel is Ian Shrager's latest masterpiece. With the bold redesign of the classic Manhattan icon, Gramercy Park Hotel has emerged as the luxurious hideway for the "new haute bohemian." Artist Julian Schnabel has created the gorgeous, sensual interior, which features art exhibits including works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lucky guests can imbibe cocktails under the stars at the Private Roof Club and Landscaped Garden, opening this spring. But perhaps the best part of Gramercy Park Hotel: guests receive a key, upon check-in, to the exclusive, gated Gramercy Park. Take advantage of a fantastic offer at this gem in NYC. For a limited time, receive a complimentary room upgrade for stays from February 25-March 18. Available with online bookings only. Upgrade is not available for suites, and blackout dates may apply.
Get ready for Ireland's biggest party of the year. Don your green and get ready to imbibe some brew... The St. Patrick's Day Festival will shake things up in Dublin from March 14-18, 2007. Enjoy the city's finest music, theater, carnivals, comedy, dance, and the famous parade, and then retire to the elegant Merrion hotel, just steps away from the action. Hit the fabulous Tethra Spa, or dine at Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant. In celebration of Paddy's Day, The Merrion, Dublin's most stylish five-star spot, is offering some dandy packages. The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Package, available March 16 to 18, features two nights in a Superior or Twin room in the contemporary Garden Wing, full Irish breakfast daily, The Merrion's signature "Black Velvet" cocktail, two grandstand tickets for the St. Patrick's Day Festival Parade and a special picnic box with snacks to take to the parade. Priced at EUR 795 per couple. The St. Patrick's Day Festival Special Offer, available March 16 to 18, features overnight accommodation, full Irish breakfast and a Black Velvet cocktail for EUR 355 per night for a Superior Room or EUR 375 per night for a Deluxe Twin room in the Garden Wing. Rates are based upon double occupancy, and subject to availability.
At the Restaurant at the Setai, trans-ethnic cuisine is crafted from the finest, freshest ingredients in an impressive exhibition kitchen. This is the pinnacle of haute dining in South Beach, the new "Vegas by the Ocean," so called by NYT critic Mark Bittman. The article “Is South Beach Growing Up?" identifies The Setai's restaurant as "visually stunning," with "competent, and actually warm, service":
The sheer scale of the Restaurant at the Setai-- South Beach's most opulent dining spot, and perhaps one of the most interestingly and arguably perfectly designed restaurants in the world-- is astounding. An enormous courtyard is dominated by a huge reflecting pool, and there are 20-foot ceilings, domes of 500 tightly grouped roses and an elaborate array of materials used to build the minimalist but intricate walls and floors: pressed metal, carved wood, imported antique brick, slate, stone, tile and fabric. Down the hall is a strikingly long bar, whose top is mother-of-pearl.
The price tag? A mere $120 per person with the prix fixe tasting menu.
February 9, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Rack of Venison (with sweet yams and foie gras) or Sautéed Northern Halibut with Dungeness crab ravioli? The choices are sensational at The Wildflower, Vail Valley's only restaurant to be awarded both the AAA Four Diamond Award and Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence." The Lodge at Vail's signature restaurant serves creative American cuisine, under the supervision of newly appointed Executive Chef Randy Belanger. Rated the #1 restaurant in Vail in the Zagat survey, The Wildflower boasts views of the snow-capped mountains from the dining room. Enjoy the epicurean delights from the area's only tasting menu, which changes daily-- depending on the availability of the finest quality seasonal fruits, vegetables, and meats.
A luxurious weekend in Chitown, plus a $100 credit (per night) for incidental spending at the Conrad Chicago? Bring it on! Escape for an exclusive weekend getaway at Conrad Chicago and enjoy the charm of the Windy City combined with the unparalleled luxury of the hotel. From one of the most prestigious addresses on the Magnificent Mile, take in incredible views over the city skyline. Within walking distance of The Loop, The Merchandise Mart, and Lake Michigan, the Conrad is a perfect urban oasis, with the best restaurants and shopping experiences at its doorstep. The 311 spacious, contemporary guest rooms are stacked with state-of-the-art technology, while the bar and restaurant offer a stylish respite at the very heart of the city. Take advantage of this special weekend offer, valid for Friday and Saturday nights only, with rates starting from $245 per night. With your $100 credit, dine at the excellent restaurant or indulge in the small luxuries that are often forgotten. Available until March 31, 2007.
Dinner and a... bath? Yep, that's right. Rosewood's world-renowned Las Ventanas al Paraiso, the only Five-Diamond property in Los Cabos, is once again leading the pack with
peculiar innovative amenities. From the ultra-luxury resort that brought you pre-loaded poolside iPods, Mini Cooper S Convertibles and Porsche Boxsters on property, in-room telescopes for star-gazing and whale-watching, pool-side services like sunglass-cleaning, sewing kits personalized to each guest's wardrobe, and the Hot Type author program (whew!), comes another cutting-edge service. When guests sit down to dine at the upscale dining room for an unforgettable meal at The Restaurant, they are presented with the dinner menu and the after-dinner bath menu, which offers a choice of a "Stress Relieving," "Rejuvenating" or "Sensual & Romantic" bath experiences. Choose from the lists of Champagnes, premium tequilas and Cuban cigars, to enjoy in the bath. So while you gobble down your Baja-Mediterranean cuisine, overlooking the pool and the Sea of Cortez, your bath will be prepared for a luxurious experience en-suite.