September 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The quiet island of Vieques, located eight miles off Puerto Rico's east coast, could be the best-kept secret in the Caribbean. Dreamy, secluded and breathtakingly beautiful, the island's 55 square miles are pristine and untouristed. The island's swankiest hotel, the Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, will close at the end of September to morph into the Caribbean's first W Hotel, slated to open next year. For the next month, the hotel is offering exceedingly attractive rates starting at $149 a night (that's a 30 percent discount). Set on two gorgeous Atlantic-facing beaches, the hotel features sumptuous accommodations, excellent dining, world-class spa, recreational facilities galore, and a large two-level pool surrounded by a lovely coral-stone sundeck.
Easily one of the hottest new hotels in the world, The Standard shook things up in Miami when it opened in late 2005, created by hotelier Andre Balazs as a hydrotherapy playground with communal spa activities. The hotel represents the advanced spa-hotel concept at its finest, with its incredible and innovative spa. (Mud lounge, anyone?) Located on quiet Belle Island, a calm refuge from South Beach, The Standard, Miami is as creative with the names of its room types-- Missionary, Lush, Dry, Wet, and the Full Spread—as it is with the spa features and amenities. Guest rooms are designed in the simple Scandinavian tradition, with plush features including Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy pillows, day beds, private outdoor living rooms, mood lighting, spa showers, outdoor soaking tubs, mini bars stuffed with yummy organic stuff, Kiss My Face amenities, high speed internet, flat screen TVs, DVD library and CD players.
Now couldn't be a better time to check out this higher Standard, with a hot Autumn deal from the hotel. The Holistic Hideaway is a two-night escape for just $395, which includes Accommodations, Limitless use of indoor and outdoor baths, Turkish hammam, sauna, aroma steam room, sound pool, Roman waterfall, hot tub, arctic plunge and gymnasium, Your choice of either one in-room "Standard" massage or two "quickie" massages, An invigorating "Just Pure" herbal bath, Complimentary access to the mud lounge, Two Yoga classes in The Standard's Movement and Meditation Center, Spa breakfasts for two every morning, and a two-course wholesome dinner for two at The Lido Restaurant. Wow.
Via Daily Candy (The package is just $350 for Daily Candy readers)
The leaf-peeping season is just around the corner, and luxurious New England Inns await your stay. Forbes has defined "a new breed of very high-class New England inns, converted country houses and B&Bs"-- inns that showcase the best of top-tier hospitality and ultra-luxurious amenities. Forbes' annual list of Great New England Inns includes the likes of the dazzling, new Mayflower Inn, home to the "best spa in North America," just a few hours from NYC.
September 6, 2006
By: Courtney W. May
I stayed at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia on the night of July 15th in Guest Room 606 (a deluxe room). I admit I got an awesome rate last minute and because I have a travel agency IATA card (for full disclosure I must mention that), I got a nice rate, but it wasn't free and I made no promises about my reviews. Now I'll cut to the chase and just list for you all of the good (and maybe bad) things to consider on your trip to Richmond.
* The rooms (at least all of the ones I saw) are HUGE (ceilings are tall, windows are large, and the closest had tons of space).
* The city of Richmond is not the absolute greatest view to have -I am not saying it's not bad)- but most importantly - none of the rooms at The Jefferson have views that are into walls, parking garages, or anything like that.
* The hotel pool is indoors, which might be nice in the winter, but Richmond is incredibly hot and in the summer a nice outdoor pool would be really, really nice.
* The Sunday Brunch is everything, plus more, that you've heard about.
* Again, let me say, Richmond is really, really hot in the summer.
* The employees are some of the best I've ever come across (they couldn't have been more helpful).
* I was able to walk to all of the locations I wanted to visit while in Richmond, but if I didn't want to the hotel would have provided a town car free of charge.
* Although not associated with the hotel, the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond is a lot of fun and has great restaurants.
* The guest rooms have a strange layout and you can never expect two rooms in the same room category to be exactly equal - but that is because the hotel was built in 1895.
* It is really hard to get reservations for the Sunday morning brunch - so make sure you reserve early.
* Make sure to ask for a non-smoking room if you don't smoke - you're in tobacco country.
The end result is that I definitely want to go back. I traveled from the DC area (which prices for everything are much, much higher) and wouldn't mind spending two or three weekends in the fall, winter and spring in the Richmond area. Rates for this five star hotel are lower then you will find in more places - yet provide you with some of the best services I have experienced. You may not think you have a reason to visit Richmond, but The Jefferson is it.
More candid photos from the trip can be found in my Richmond, VA Photoset on Flickr.
By: Courtney W. May
At midnight today, Steve Wynn opened his new hotel and gaming complex in the former-Portuguese colony of Macau, an island known as much for its casinos as for its rich cultural tradition. (Macau is also the biggest gambling city in the world now, surpassing Las Vegas when its casinos raked in $6.8 billion last year.) The $1.2 billion casino resort was showered with an impressive fireworks display. Wynn is taking a gamble with this ultra-luxurious property, as Macau's focus has been exclusively on gambling, and most visitors day-trip from Hong Kong (just a short jet boat ride away) rather than check into hotels. As explained by Reuters:
The Wynn Macau will be closely watched as an indicator of the viability of a planned $24 billion "neon alley" of hotels, conference centres, theatres, shopping centres and casinos being built on reclaimed land. The "Cotai Strip", where Wynn Resorts has a 50-acre plot and its rival, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is building a complex and luring several five-star hotel operators, aims to persuade people from gambling-mad China to stay a couple of days.
With 600 sleek, sophisticated guestrooms, Wynn Macau also boasts six gourmet restaurants, Las Vegas-style entertainment, plenty of meeting space, a health club, pool and luxurious spa. Let the good times roll.
The Medieval walled city of Carcassonne, standing high on a hill above the River Aude overlooking the Minervois vineyards in Southwest France, appears to be out of a fairytale. Europe's largest fortified citadel is a amalgam of ramparts layered in history, beginning with the Gauls, Romans, Visigoths, and added to by the Moors, Franks, and Cathars. La Cite is breathtaking, the dramatic witches' hat turrets and ramparts illuminated dramatically by night. The crowds in the summer can be overwhelming; over two million tourists flock to see Carcassonne's fortified walls every year. Thus the Fall is the perfect time to visit this enchanting historic city.
Hotel de la Cite, the luxurious hideaway from Orient-Express Hotels, has designed a special Autumn Leaves fall promotion that is too good to pass up. Standing between two historic landmarks, the Roman Chateau Comtal and the Gothic Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, in the heart of the old city, Hotel de la Cite is an exquisite structure of stone walls, wood paneling and stained glass windows set amidst gardens and terraces. Each of its 40 guestrooms and 21 Suites is individually furnished, with several boasting balconies and terraces with spectacular views of the medieval ramparts, the Castle, and the narrow cobble-stoned streets of the Citadel. In addition, the hotel's La Barbacane Restaurant offers a heavenly gastronomic experience in a fantastic setting with fireplaces, high ceilings and cathedral chairs. With the Autumn Leaves package, book three nights and get the fourth for free! Available from September 1 to October 31, 2006, the package also includes complimentary daily buffet breakfast at Brasserie Chez Saskia, and one special package dinner for two - The Chef's Choice - at La Barbacane Restaurant (excluding beverages). Savings of up to 40 percent off.
In January, Whistler welcomed its first designer boutique hotel: Adara. Situated in the heart of North America's no. 1 ski resort, Adara is located just minutes from the gondola stations for Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and the Village's best restaurants and nightlife. Whistler welcomes this new and stylish alternative: a modern, urban, sophisticated, and most importantly- fun- boutique hotel. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Adara mixes the best of contemporary design with simple, traditional comforts. The 41 guestrooms and suites, showcasing BC's best contemporary design elements from designers like Niels Bendtsen, Brent Comber, and Erich Ginder, feature wood, stone and other natural materials to reflect the surrounding landscape. The guestrooms—distinguished by four distinctive room configurations of minimalist design—feature spa-like bathrooms, plush beds, "floating" fireplaces, and cutting-edge technology, like iPod-compatible clock radios.
Overlooking the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, 41 is an exclusive boutique hotel celebrated for its attentive service, traditional comforts, and abundant luxury. Fashionable Sloane Street and Knightsbridge are just steps away, along with some of London's greatest attractions. This five-star haven, beloved by the most discriminating travelers, offers 20 deluxe rooms and 4 split-level suites hidden away in the wood and glass-lined corridors of the intimate building. Rooms are graced with traditional mahogany furniture, the finest mattresses, warm feather duvets, opulent marble bathrooms, and state-of-the-art interactive TV/IT technology. Guests enjoy all-new complimentary high speed wireless internet access throughout the hotel. The split-level suites are truly sumptuous; the Master Suite features a glass ceiling, with retractable blackout blinds, where you can view the stars from right in the heart of London.
Available from November 24, 2006 to January 7, 2007, the Hotel 41 is offering a fantastic Christmas celebration with the "It's A Wonderful Life" package. Starting at $1,256 for a two-night stay, the package includes welcome gift plus a DVD of the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life," full English breakfast each day, tea for two with Christmas cake on one day, a complimentary bottle of red and bottle of white wine, lunch or dinner for two on one day, including mince pies, and for those guests who stay at the hotel on Christmas Eve, a stocking filled with seasonal goodies on your doorknob overnight. If you stay in one of the suites, you will also enjoy a decorated Christmas tree in the lounge area. Minimum two-night stay required.
Come March 1, 2009, Tokyo will see a brand new Shangri-La in a prime city location, set to dazzle with dramatic views, the CHI spa, and signature Shangri-La service. Located in the Marunouchi district, beside the Tokyo Station (that's the only station, folks, with railway connections to all points in Japan), the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo will be housed in the top 11 floors of the 37-storey Marunouchi Trust Tower Main Building. In addition to the CHI spa, discerning travelers will enjoy spacious guest rooms (the Presidential Suite occupies the entire top floor), excellent meeting and banquet space, and exquisite dining experiences, including a glass-ceiling restaurant. Upon their arrival by dedicated ground elevators at the 28th floor lobby, guests will be wowed by sweeping views of the Marunouchi area, as well as Tokyo Bay to the East, through the eight-meter high, floor-to-ceiling windows.
Looking for the ultimate pet-friendly hotel in the US? You're not alone. According to a recent study by Travel Industry Association of America, 29 million dogs travel with their parents each year. And with Americans spending almost $40 billion yearly on their pets, hotels have rolled out the welcome mat. The Fall issue of Fido Friendly Magazine's got it covered, with the top ten list of exclusive resorts eager-to-please their pet clientele, including the AAA five-diamond Rittenhouse Hotel in Philly, where pets are pampered with specialized meals, always-fresh gourmet biscuits, walks from the bellman, and a take-home CD with calming music.