LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
French formal dining at its best. The award-winning Le Fountainebleau is a San Diego treasure, its focus on attentive service and artfully conceived menus incorporating fresh seasonal ingredients. The dining room is elegant, full of antiques and beautiful floral arrangements, with a grand piano setting the mood with background music. Named San Diego's most romantic restaurant by the San Diego Reader, the restaurant is also beloved for its Friday night seafood buffet. The Seafood Soiree features over 30 items: a sumptuous display of oysters, caviar, lobster, mussels, gourmet sushi and other favorites. Located in the Westgate Hotel.
Nestled among vineyards, olive groves, and Tuscan forest, the Villa Mangiacane is a majestic 16th century villa, overlooking the famous Duomo in Florence from its loggia. Once owned by the ancient and powerful Machiavelli family, the villa also bears the artistic influence of Michelangelo. The hotel has been completely and lovingly restored, with exquisite historical touches coexisting with luxurious modern details. The Villa boasts its own library, beautiful gardens, Renaissance frescoes, full-size infinity pool, and decadent Master Suite. Guests enjoy lavish treatments at the new spa, using homegrown ingredients such as grape seed and olive oil. Art exhibitions are frequent, featuring sponsored on-site artists and the proceeds go to African charities. Meals are divine, ranging from three to seven courses, served outdoors overlooking the Chianti countryside, or in the formal dining room. The Villa has just recently opened its Vineyard Villa wing, featuring 19 spectacular rooms. Enjoy an escape to Villa Mangiacane this summer—soaking up the Renaissance culture and art of Florence—with the Vineyard Villa Introductory Summer Rates. Classic room starts at EUR 250, based on double occupancy. Includes Continental Buffet Breakfast, and Villa Mangiacane wine and olive oil tasting. Valid until September 30, 2006.
July 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
From August 2-6, 2006, Rockland, Maine is transformed into a lively playground of gourmet tents serving delicious Maine seafood (loads of succulent lobster), with lots of entertainment and events. The world's largest lobster cooker is a sight to behold. During last year's Lobster Festival, a whopping twelve tons of lobster were prepared and consumed. (That's over 25,000 lbs, folks!) And if you tire of lobster, stuff yourself with steamed and fried clams, fried Maine shrimp, shrimp cocktail, steamed mussels in wine and vegetable sauce, and endless dishes of traditional Maine summer fair food. Other festival highlights include the coronation of the Sea Goddess, Lobster Crate Race (sprint along a string of partially submerged lobster crates before falling into the freezing Atlantic), Cooking Contest, Fine Art Tent (with works by local artists in oil, watercolor, photography, etc.), Craft Tent, and Parade down Rockland's Main Street on August 5th, which draws an audience of over 25,000.
July 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Situated in the heart of Napa Valley wine country, the Harvest Inn is an intimate luxury retreat in St. Helena, California. Surrounded by rolling vineyards and a distant mountain backdrop, the Inn is an inspiring Napa hideaway amidst lush gardens and winding pathways through redwood groves. Guests enjoy the cottages with handcrafted fireplaces, intricate woodwork, and private terraces with intimate spa tubs. The heated outdoor pools and Jacuzzis are nestled within the gardens. This year, the Harvest Inn has partnered with Magnum Tours to offer guests a unique Napa experience with its Napa Confidential Package, allowing guests access to winemakers in the area's smaller, family-owned wineries. Included in the package are personal wine tasting tours at three such estates, chosen by the guest booking the package, as well as a picnic lunch with one of the winemakers. Additional amenities include one bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Noir wine, Woodhouse Chocolate Truffles, and an arrangement of red roses, two outdoor spa treatments in the Redwood Cove adjacent to the vineyard or in the privacy of the guestroom, and two personalized, monogrammed Harvest Inn robes. The two-night package is priced at $2,269 for Friday and Saturday night stays and $1,799 for Sunday through Thursday night stays.
July 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The fabled stretch of California coastline—recently featured in the fantastic NYT piece "Road Trip: Chasing the Perfect Taco up the California Coast"—has long been celebrated as one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in the world. In the midst of this rugged beauty, rising above the craggy cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn provides a spectacular view of the Pacific and one of the best dining experiences in the country at Sierra Mar Restaurant. Located just off Highway One, the Post Ranch Inn is a romantic sanctuary of rustic elegance, with 30 guest rooms featuring wood-burning fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, complimentary minibars, private decks, and Pacific and mountain views. The luxurious Spa has been featured as one of the world's best in Travel and Leisure magazine. Enjoy early-morning yoga classes, bask in the sun by the pools, go whale-watching, or participate in a guided nature walk. The award winning Sierra Mar restaurant offers an awe-inspiring setting overlooking the coast, from its perch 1,200 feet above the Pacific. The all-glass dining room is possibly the best place along this coast to enjoy its incomparable beauty.
July 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At the end of a country lane near Damariscotta, at the tip of the peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point is perched dramatically above the crashing surf, a quintessential image of Maine. Here, the landscape and beautiful summer cottages are part of a quaint Down East community that houses one of the best restaurants in Maine. The Bradley Inn is a century-old Bed and Breakfast that delights guests with gracious hospitality and charming accommodations. Its 16 gracious guest rooms feature four poster cherry beds, fireplaces, New England period furnishings, and garden or ocean views. Guests enjoy biking through the area's great natural beauty, croquet on the lawn in the afternoons, and canoeing the local coves and waterways. In the evenings, guests are spoiled at the exceptional dining room, winner of the Wine Spectator award of excellence. As described by Food and Wine Magazine:
(Chef) Carinhas has an eclectic take on local products that lifts them to another level altogether—like big-bellied Maine clams that she fries until crisp and serves with an anchovy mayonnaise, or Atlantic halibut, seared and presented with a Tuscan contorno of white beans and bitter greens.
July 19, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory BoardOn Tuesday, July 18th, Loews Hotels President Jack Adler presented plans at the NBTA conference in Chicago for the company's expansion and brand initiatives. To increase Loews Hotels' distribution, the company has plans to expand into target cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Vancouver. According to Loews, resort locations are also on the drawing board, including a 400 plus room resort in Lake Las Vegas. Slated to open in 2009, it would be Loews Hotels’ first property with a residential component, featuring 125 condo hotel units and 350 traditional guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space and distinctive entertainment facilities. Additional brand initiatives in the next 5 years include furthering the Loews idea of "Four Diamond and more" properties while ensuring that each hotel is supremely comfortable, vibrant and uniquely local. For example, in Miami, Loews teams with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse to offer Emeril’s South Beach and in New York, a successful partnership with celebrated musician Michael Feinstein promises a vibrant New York cabaret experience for Loews guests. On the design and décor front, the Loews brand promise ensures that each property has a distinctly local sensibility. In Nashville, for example, the hotels whimsical décor is reflective of the destination's "Music City" moniker. A final initiative is the Loews Branded Breakfast Experience, a program that further differentiates the brand in the luxury field. The Breakfast at Loews program has several distinguishing features, including an expanded beverage program featuring a custom shaken "juice bar" and specialty press coffee; a chef-selected "breakfast amuse" and a to-go cup of coffee at departure.
July 18, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory BoardJust in case you needed another reason to visit New York City this month, The Bryant Park Hotel - which is a best romantic hotel winner - has rates starting as low as $249! Visit the weekend of the 21st - 23rd and get a room for the Deanna Witkowski's Piano in the Park Performance, or maybe come the weekend of the 28th-30th and see Kuni Mikami's Piano in the Park Show. Get their early on Friday mornings and you can see the Good Morning America Concert Series in the Park - with Taylor Hicks or Huey Lewis and News. Check for rates at Bryant Park for July 21st-23rdCheck for rates at Bryant Park for July 28th-30th
The best restaurant in Philly, according to Zagat, is also acclaimed as one of the best dining experiences in the county. The elegant 107-seat Fountain Restaurant also received top honors from Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and AAA. The menu is heavenly. Start with the pan-seared foie gras with grilled black Mission figs or the poached jumbo sea scallop with cauliflower ravioli and paddlefish caviar, and then indulge in the venison saddle with stone fruit compote, sauteed veal tenderloin with jumbo lump crab meat, or the Maine lobster with exotic mushroom galette and truffled beets. (Mmmmm.) At this grand culinary mecca and Philadelphia favorite, guests experience the most sublime dining, arguably, in the entire nation. Located at the Four Seasons Hotel. Jacket required.
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).