An American institution that has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce, The Willard InterContinental was recently listed as one of the most iconic buildings in the US. The Empire State Building and the White House topped the list of America's Favorite Architecture, according to a public poll of the 150 best works of architecture conducted by Harris Interactive and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The only DC hotel on the list, The Willard dominates the Pennsylvania corridor between the White House and the Capitol and was originally built in 1901 on the site of an older Willard property. At that time, Joseph Willard Jr. decided to create one of the city's first skyscrapers to "out-dazzle" anything else on the Washington horizon. The hotel's style? French Second Empire Beaux-Arts, distinguished by vast proportions and great columns, with an interior marked by huge chandeliers, inlaid mosaic marble tile floors, elaborate plaster work and painted and carved ceilings. Truly majestic. The newspapers of the day raved that The Willard was "The Handsomest of Washington Hotels," and today, guests are still dazzled by the hotel's architectural magnificence.
The Monday Night Chef's Table continue to dazzle diners at the ultra-cool Café Zuzu, located at Scottsdale's hip urban resort, Hotel Valley Ho. Since the hotel's opening in late 2005, Café Zuzu has been racking up the awards. Critics swoon over the stylish American comfort food, hand-crafted cocktails, and fun retro setting. The next Monday Night Chef's Table: The Great White-- Rediscovering Chardonnay on Monday, March 5. A note of explanation from the witty chef:
A few months ago, a Monday night theme was ABC (Anything But Chardonnay), a sentiment shared by some wine lovers in the '90s when overly oaky, flabby and overpriced renditions of the grape were emerging from California. It's not that we have anything against chardonnay; we simply wanted to expose our guests to some alternatives. The truth is though, when chardonnay is poorly done it's extremely difficult to pair with food. We do enjoy a well made chard however, so we thought it was high time to rediscover this extremely popular varietal and design a menu around it ("The Great White") just in time for summer.
The menu looks divine: Smoked Salmon (hearts of palm and garlic cream), Braised Pork Belly (roasted cipollini and foraged mushrooms), Pheasant Breast (truffle gnocchi, English peas and tomato confit), and Peach Tarte Tatin (honey mascarpone cream and blackberry nectar). From 6:30-8pm, priced at $42 per person.
The Montreal High Lights Festival is in full swing. One of the best urban festivals of the season, Montreal's fabulous citywide festival includes culinary and wine events, art exhibits, and free concerts and performances. Foodies will be thrilled by the culinary tours, wine tasting events, gourmet dinners, lunches, and cheese-making course. Feast on a five-course gourmet dinner prepared by one of the world's leading chefs, glide under the stars at the ice skating rink, take in a concert, visit an exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and enjoy the fabulous fireworks. The festival runs until March 4, 2007, so don your scarf and mittens and embrace winter in Montreal!
A one-room hotel? I kid you not. The One Hotel Angkor is a stylish, one-suite hotel, offering the ultimate privacy in the heart of Siem Reap. Located in the town's Old Market area, the hotel is devoted to you and you alone. Perks include intimate, stunning dining experiences (the choice is up to you), a mobile phone for the duration of your stay, and in-room spa treatments.
Enter through a gallery-cafe on the ground floor. Ascend to your luxurious bedroom. A custom-made king size bed draped in Frette linen. Your personal iBook and iPod. 32" LCD screen television. Luxury and sensual indulgence continues into the bathroom. Choose from the two-person granito tub with underwater lighting or the soothing experience of your rainfall shower. A private rooftop terrace awaits above. Sink into your jacuzzi. The indoor-outdoor sound system allows you to accompany a romantic late evening dip with your favorite music. Lounge on the daybed. Dine at the table setting. Cast off your clothes for an outdoor shower. With the entire hotel to yourself, how you enjoy The One is up to you.
This hotel is no stranger to awards lists. Lavished with media attention, the One Hotel Angkor was recognized on Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List as one of the hottest luxury properties worldwide.
Where to dine in the trendy, popular neighborhood of Buckhead? Head to the Grand Hyatt Atlanta, where Cassis and Onyx Bar have made names for themselves in a crowded (and distinguished) playing field. Recently featured on Fox 5's "Good Day Atlanta," Executive Chef Billy Skiber has set the gold standard for hotel dining. Cassis is one of Atlanta's most successful kosher kitchens. This is the perfect place to enjoy an extravagant Sunday brunch; the spread includes everything from crab cakes to made-to-order omelets. Dinner is likewise memorable, pleasing palates with eclectic takes on traditional continental cuisine. For after-work happy hours and evening cocktails, head to Onyx Bar, where the extensive bar menu features fine liquors from around the world. Don't miss the elegant HyTea on Saturday afternoons from 2 to 6 pm served in the chic bar overlooking the tranquil Japanese gardens.
February 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Named Tatler Hotel of the Year 2007, Banyan Tree Ringha is set in the stunning, mountainous country which inspired the author of Lost Horizon to describe the remote, peaceful paradise of Shangri-La. The rugged landscape is mythical: snow-capped mountains towering over wide, open valleys. Designated the official "Shangri-La" by the Chinese government, this region of Yunnan province is part of Greater Tibet both historically and culturally. Here, 3,200 meters above sea level, Banyan Tree Ringha is a magical resort which reflects the local Tibetan culture. Crafted from traditional Tibetan farmhouses, the 32 spacious lodges and suites feature intricate woodcarvings, smoky fireplaces and wooden balconies with awe-inspiring views. Embark on a trek with a local guide through the Tibetan Mountains to crystalline lakes, deep canyons, mystical plateaus, and divine mountain peaks. At the end of the day, return to the heavenly spa and unwind in serene, luxurious comfort.
Long hailed as a landmark in St. Moritz, Badrutt's Palace Hotel embodies the grandeur of the Swiss Alps. Situated amidst breathtaking scenery, the hotel has been a celeb-hounded hotspot since its opening in 1896. Dine at the hotel's new Nobu restaurant, the trendiest place in town and innovative addition to the storied hotel. After a lip-smacking good meal (legendary dishes like Tiradito, Black Cod with miso and New Style Sashimi are musts), head to the Renaissance Bar, the coziest bar in St. Moritz. Here, Mario, the well-known barkeeper, fixes both classic and creative cocktails. Sip the best Bellini in St. Moritz, or opt for the U2, the signature drink inspired by Mario's celebrity clientele. The shaken creation includes peach juice, cranberry juice, vodka, apricot brandy, a tumbler, and a straw.
The line-up for Jazz Fest is looking good. Who's not going to be there? Dr. John, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Jill Scott, Irma Thomas, Ludacris, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pharoah Sanders, Lucinda Williams, Soulive, Harry Connick Jr., Steely Dan, ZZ Top, John Legend, Allen Toussaint, Counting Crows, New Edition, George Benson, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Allman Brothers Band, Better Than Ezra, Joss Stone, Stephen Marley featuring Jr. Gong, Taj Mahal... (And the list goes on, and on.) Scheduled for April 21-29 and May 4-6, 2007, New Orleans' Jazz Fest draws tens of thousands of fans annually. Celebrate the rebirth of the Big Easy and enjoy ten stages of simultaneous music programming complemented by an unparalleled Food Fair with 100 varieties of authentic Louisiana cuisine (jambalaya, anyone?) Head to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and shack up at The International House, the stylish, contemporary boutique hotel just two blocks from the French Quarter. "If New Orleans is the best place in the country to party, then International House is the best place to sleep it off," says Travel and Leisure about this hip spot.
February 22, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The winners have been announced. After much speculation, Michelin has come out with its latest crop of three-star restaurants in France, with a whopping five new restaurants added to the prestigious list. The total number of three-star restaurants is 26. To quote the New York Times:
The new three-star establishments include three in Paris — Le Meurice in the Hôtel Meurice, Le Pré Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne, and Astrance, a tiny, 25-seat Right Bank restaurant — along with Lameloise in Burgundy and Pic in Valence, south of Lyon. Lameloise and Pic each regained third stars that were taken away several years ago; Pic's chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, is now one of only a handful of women ever to be in charge of a three-star kitchen.
But perhaps the most interesting announcement of all: the startling demotion of many top-tier restaurants to two stars, including Taillevent in Paris (bestowed three stars since 1973) and Le Cinq in the Four Seasons George V.
February 20, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Dubai-based Jumeirah Group, of Burj al Arab fame, is heading to the Bermuda Triangle. The fast-growing luxury hospitality group has a portfolio with some of the most luxurious and iconic properties in the world: Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Madinat Jumeirah, and Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London, and the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South in New York. Ambitious new plans are in the works, including the first new luxury resort to be built in Bermuda in 35 years. Jumeirah Southlands Resort promises to shake things up in one of the most enduringly popular vacation destinations in the Americas. Scheduled to open in mid-2008 (pending the appropriate building permits, of course), the Jumeirah Southlands will be situated on 37 acres on Bermuda's South Shore. They're going for a contemporary, innovative style:
Seamlessly incorporated into nature by the extensive use of glass and seemingly endless vistas are a series of dramatically 21st century structures, stairways and open plazas that encompass the suites, ridge-top town houses overlooking the ocean, restaurants and other public areas.
Expansive beach and swimming pools? Check. Nightclub, bars, and restaurant? Check. Conference Center and business facilities? Of course. This resort will even have an equestrian center.