LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Say hello to the newest and most innovative luxury hotel in the nation's capital. Following a $24 million renovation, Park Hyatt Washington opened its doors in Summer 2006 to much fanfare and celebration. This exclusive hotel is located just a few blocks from Georgetown and minutes from Embassy Row, National Monuments, and the Smithsonian. Renowned designer Tony Chi was the mastermind behind the makeover, which showcases a Tea Cellar (offering rare and vintage selections), spa-inspired bathrooms (gray limestone rain showers and deep soaking tubs), and a signature fragrance designed for the hotel by artisan perfumer Blaise Mautin. Dynamic and modern, the hotel's design pays homage to the city itself: the hotel entrance celebrates DC's famous cherry blossoms with impressive glass sculptures. The 215 guest rooms are contemporary and stylish; the Park Deluxe rooms are the largest in the city. And each room also highlights Classic American Heritage, with antique gameboards, a selection of books about American history and crafts, Windsor style chairs, and Modern American artwork. The hotel's new restaurant, the Blue Duck Tavern, features an open kitchen with a wood burning oven, welcoming patrons with a warm, friendly ambience. The menu focuses on simple and traditional cooking methods with the freshest ingredients: slow-roasting in wood embers, braising, preserving and smoking techniques brings the true flavors of America's great and simple foods to the table.
This winter, experience the city at its most pleasant, when it's blissfully empty of tourist crowds, and as described by the New York Times, "when the locals come out to play." With the Comfort and Joy Winter Package at the Park Hyatt, take pleasure in the warmth of a cozy night: savor a rare tea from the Tea Cellar, soak in a steaming tub, relax in your lavishly appointed guest room, and if you must go out in the cold, the heated seats of a brand new custom designed Audi A8 L can transport you to your favorite shopping or sightseeing destination. The package includes a complimentary upgrade to Park Deluxe room, a pot of tea from Park Hyatt Washington's unique Tea Cellar, your choice of Valet Parking for the length of stay OR full American breakfast for two each morning, welcome amenity for children, or complimentary custom designed Audi A8 L to transport you to your favorite shopping or sightseeing destination within Washington. Available until February 28, 2007.
And then there were three. The media went wild when Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas set sail: the 208 ft, 160,000 ton mega ship with a capacity for 4,000 passengers. The world's largest passenger ship featured all sorts of never-before-seen facilities like rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing simulator pool called "Flow Rider." Royal Caribbean's second Freedom-class ship, called Liberty of the Seas, will debut in May 2008. It will depart Miami on Saturdays for seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. (Ports of call include San Juan, St. Maarten, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.) And the cruise line recently announced that there is a third ship under construction in Finland, which will be dubbed Independence of the Seas. The sister ships will all share the same signature amenities, including the 1,215 sq ft Presidential Family Suite which sleeps up to 14.
December 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The DR has got it all: sun-soaked sandy beaches, excellent recreational activities, and oodles of outstanding resorts. Case in point: Paradisus Palma Real-- an all-inclusive, all-suite luxury resort with spectacular ocean views just minutes from the hot spot of Punta Cana. 554 suites feature private terraces, mahogany furniture, flat screen TV, DVD and CD player, and complimentary high speed Internet access. Six restaurants offer a culinary tour of delicious cuisine from around the world (from Mediterranean to Chinese). There are three outdoor pools set in magnificent tropical gardens, tennis courts, a full fitness program at the gym, the ultimate in spa treatments, the Cocotal Golf and Country Club, and a slew of water sports. What more could you ask for? (Did I mention there's unlimited Premium brand drinks at your choice of six bars?)
December 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At the southernmost tip of China, off the mainland coast in the South China Sea, there exists a large tropical island called Hainan, covered in greenery and shrouded in a balmy climate. The waters are emerald-turquoise, the sandy beaches are long and white, and the vegetation is lush. Hainan Island is not yet heavily industrialized (even though it's a Special Economic Zone), and the island has become a popular tourist destination because of its bountiful natural beauty. In mid-2007, Mandarin Oriental is slated to open its newest property, a private beach resort nestled in the green valley of the Wuzhi Mountain range. The Mandarin Oriental Sanya will be a peaceful retreat, situated on a secluded sandy cove with a colorful coral reef just offshore, teeming with marine life. The resort will consist of low rise villas within landscaped gardens; its 295 rooms promise stunning views of the sunset over the sea. Other features include a spectacular spa, four large swimming pools, the only outdoor conference facilities in Sanya, four restaurants, tennis courts, high tech gym, and water sports center with snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and deep sea fishing equipment. All just five minutes from Sanya City, and 20 minutes from the international airport.
Hip, stylish, and of course the most glamorous rendezvous in town: Felix is Hong Kong's place to see and place to be seen. Created by celebrity designer Philippe Starck, Felix sits on the 28th floor of The Peninsula, long renowned as one of the best hotels in the world. The "Grande Dame of the Far East" is legendary for its opulent rooms, fleet of Rolls-Royce limousines, helicopter shuttle service, and celebrated Peninsula service. The dining experience at Felix is thrilling not only for the contemporary cuisine (try crispy Indonesian crab cakes, grilled Ahi steak, honey tempura King Prawns, and pan fried foie gras with marinated figs) but because of the setting: sexy interiors and lighting, plus sweeping views of the harbor and Hong Kong's skyline. (Did I mention the people watching?) Open daily for dinner from 6 pm to 11 pm; last drinks at 2 am. Dress is "smart casual." Needless to say, reservations are essential.
This winter, escape to Southern Florida's classic landmark for a truly luxurious experience. Situated directly on a private white sand beach, the Italian Renaissance style hotel was founded in 1896 and has been legendary ever since. (And with a Beach club, oceanfront spa, 36 holes of championship golf, 10 tennis courts, kids' programs, four oceanside pools, and excellent restaurants... what's not to love?) Here at The Breakers, L'Escalier offers one of the country's finest dining experiences and is the proud recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award and Wine Spectator's highest honor, the Grand Award. The restaurant now presents the specialty wine dinners of the 2007 Winter Wine Series. Master Sommelier Virginia Philip has invited celebrated winemakers from around the world to present three unforgettable evenings of food and wine pairings. A reception with tastings is followed by a five-course dinner prepared by the exceptional culinary team led by Chef Kevin Ives. Dinners are $300 inclusive of tax and service charge. (The March 5, 2007 dinner is priced at $575). Seating is limited so make your reservations soon.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Featuring Tom Shelton, President and CEO
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Featuring Tom Johnson, Vice President
Monday, March 5, 2007
Clos de Tart and Mommessin Wineries
Featuring Clos de Tart with Sylvain Pitiot, winemaker
Romance-starved? Nothing that champagne, chocolates, and private island fine dining can't fix. The four-diamond Cambridge Beaches, oft considered one of the world's most romantic resorts, is offering couples the opportunity to rekindle their relationship during the month of February, which has been dedicated to romance with a new Relationship Menu. Escape the grind of our daily lives and relax at one of the resort's five private beaches, relish a fine dining experience on the private Isle of TT, or rejuvenate at the resort's world-class two-level 10,000 sq. ft. Ocean Spa. Discover the fine art of preparing finger foods and sensual desserts as a couple. Uncover the island's most romantic spots (the Romance Concierge will give you the inside scoop). Enjoy turn down gifts. Watch romantic movies by candlelight. Try your hand at couples vs. couples golf tournaments. Experience a champagne horse n' buggy ride, 1001 Arabian Nights Themed Dinner, and romantic picnic basket excursion. And then there's the seminars, offered from February 11-23, 2007. Covering subjects like Venus and Mars Balance, Communication for Couples, Creating a Special Place for the Ultimate Romance, and Introduction to Tantra. Prices for the romance menu package start at $875 a night per couple in the new, lavishly appointed infinity plunge pool suite which overlooks the ocean.
Chic, discreet, and utterly fabulous, Hotel Andra is Seattle's premier address for urban luxury. Located on the edge of the trendy Belltown neighborhood, the hotel embraces the vibe of the area: progressive sophistication and style. This is a luxury boutique delight in the epicenter of downtown Seattle. Inspired by the surrounding artist studios and galleries, Hotel Andra is all about design: celebrating the strong elements of the Northwest-- water, woods and stone-- along with Scandinavian design influences. For the ultimate Girls Getaway Weekend, take advantage of the Syster Sjal package (Soul Sisters, don't you know!) Relax in your Andra Suite with two queen beds; refresh with two chilled "Sofias" (a sparkling Blanc de Blanc from the acclaimed Niebaum Coppola Winery); rejuvenate with $100 credit for each of you at Red Salon and Spa; and recharge with breakfast at Lola. Also includes $30 gift card. Priced at $490, available until the end of the year.
Ice hotels, ice bars, ice spas, luxury igloos... The opulent Four Seasons Hotel George V has jumped on the fashionably-freezing bandwagon. The first ice bar in Paris was opened at the trendy Kube Hotel in the 18th arrondissement. Hipsters flock to this cutting-edge design boutique. Entrance to the Ice Kube GreyGoose vodka bar is EUR 38 for 30 minutes with a limited capacity of only 20 peeps; reservations required. Now the George V has followed suit. According to the NYT:
It's official, freezing is in fashion. Last month in Paris, the Four Seasons Hotel George V opened a luxury ice bar, bringing a Gallic twist to a Nordic novelty. The bar was built entirely of ice in a refrigerated cube in the hotel’s courtyard. Guests are given a black rabbit-fur Kaufman Franco poncho for their 30-minute session inside the boudoir-style interior, which is kept at a frosty 18 degrees. While the hors d'oeuvres won't cure frostbite (ice bars and sorbet), the flavored vodkas (ginger, cinnamon and vanilla among others) served at the glacial bar just might. The bar is open daily, 6 to 11 p.m. until Jan. 15, and the entrance fee of 55 includes drinks and amuse bouches. Reservations are required.
December 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Foodies rejoice! From Sunday, January 7 through Friday, January 12, 2007, gourmands will delight in San Diego's third annual Restaurant Week, where over 125 restaurants will offer special fixed price, three course dinner menus for just $30 or $40 per person. This is a steal considering the participating restaurants are stars on the county's culinary scene. At award-winning A.R. Valentien, for example, guests can indulge in an exquisite menu including such items as the homemade Charcuterie Plate for starters, followed by the Roasted Vande Rose Pork Loin with Red Wine Braised Cabbage, Apple, Frisee and Toasted Hazelnuts, and the Boca Negra with Mocha Cream to finish. For this weeklong culinary celebration, reservations are highly recommended.