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.
September 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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
September 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
LA's most prestigious address, the Mobil Five-Star award winning Hotel Bel-Air, is beloved for its special wine maker dinners and gourmet celebrations offered throughout the year. Don't miss the upcoming Italian Weekend with Anthony Dias Blue, one of the most influential wine, food and lifestyle personalities in the US (his work in various media is circulated to more than 50 million global customers each month). The weekend of October 13-15th, 2006 will be an Italian extravaganza at this elegant Beverly Hills hideaway, including two multi-course Italian dinners with wine pairings and an incredible Sunday brunch. Additionally, the Saturday program includes a morning trip to the farmer's market followed by lunch and cooking class with Chef Bruno. The entire weekend, inclusive of luxurious accommodations and tickets to all events, is $1,500 for two.
September 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Brown's Hotel-- the stylish boutique from Europe's finest luxury hotelier, Rocco Forte-- is beloved not only for its elegant accommodations but also for its fine dining venue, The Grill. With years of culinary experience at the Savoy, Harry's Bar, and The Ritz, award-winning Executive Chef, Laurence Glayzer, crafts traditional English fare with a contemporary, continental twist using only the best local produce. The ambience is like an elegant club, with wood paneling, 1930s design, and banquette booths. Brown's recently introduced the pre-theatre dining menu at The Grill, for West End theatre goers to indulge in the perfect, light meal before heading out on the town. From 6-7 pm, diners choose from a set menu of two courses (GBP 25) or three courses (GBP 30). The Grill also offers a Sunday Jazz Brunch with a three-course set menu that offers four options per course and 1/2 bottle of house wine at GBP39.50 per guest. Delightful dishes include roast rib of beef off the carving trolley, Eggs Benedict, grilled rump steak and fried egg with corned beef hash, and a selection of other brunch style dishes.
The most hotly anticipated hotel opening in South Florida (delayed for
years months, much to our chagrin.) The glorious Acqualina Resort, located on 400 feet of picture-perfect coastline in Sunny Isles, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, has officially opened its doors. The resort's grand European-inspired architecture graces the oceanfront, its 97 suites featuring private terraces to take in views of the Miami skyline and dazzling seascape. But that's not all. This luxurious haven features the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools, private beach club, and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. Acqualina also offers a special Kids in the Kitchen pastry cooking class, where children play, experiment, and learn their way around a kitchen. Enjoy introductory rates starting at $299 a night at the newly-opened hotel masterpiece.
Girls Getaway Packages, Babymoons, and now Mancations... The luxury hotel industry is quick to forecast travel trends and anticipate the desires of its clientele. And these days, it's for getaways with the guys. Hotels are offering poker parties, hand-rolled cigars, luxury cars and sports tickets, in an effort to tap this new trend. As CNN reports, the new Regent South Beach has devised a special package catering to guys "man-cationing" together which includes a penthouse room, private rooftop terrace with a hot tub and wet bar, round-the-clock butler service and a choice of a luxury rental car such as a Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini.
An "Urban Dictionary" definition for mancation describes it as men engaging in masculine activities such as sports, camping, gambling, chasing women and drinking, without the presence of wives, mistresses or girlfriends. Vince Vaughn helped popularize the term in this summer's romantic comedy "The Break-Up."
The Regent South Beach is not alone. Back in June, The Informed Traveler described how Fairmont Hotels has paved the way with its Mancations packages in its properties across North America. At the Fairmont Chicago, gents enjoy a Chitown getaway which includes whisky tasting, steak dinner, seminar with wine and spirits producer Brown-Forman, and a special "hair-of-the-dog" turndown amenity. And the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa includes spa pampering with its Mancation package. The Speed Meets Spa package caters to both the need for speed and the desire for pampering. With this package, guests receive enrollment at the ESPN Russell Racing School's introductory three day driving course at Infineon Raceway, three nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Inn's handsome fine-dining restaurant, two 50-minute spa treatments, tasting for two at the Gloria Ferrer winery and a bottle of Sonoma Sparkling Wine upon arrival.
And the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina has put together the "Dudes on the Dunes" package, which includes a round of golf and an in-room poker game with snacks and beer from $625 per person for two nights.