LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
December 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
According to the International Herald Tribune, the isolated Midway Atoll-- located in the North Pacific Ocean one third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo-- could be opened to visitors next year. An important naval base during WWII, the Midway Atoll is impossibly remote: just three small volcanic islands surrounded by coral reef and the vast turquoise Pacific. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is drafting a plan to bring tourists to this paradise as early as mid-2007 (probably 30 visitors at a time). As a National Wildlife Refuge, the islands provide habitat for thousands of seabirds. TravelWeekly points out that Princess Cruises will be sailing the 1,590-passenger Regal Princess to Midway in June 2007, for the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Midway (June 4).
December 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Caribbean resort of La Samanna is impossibly chic, a haven for discriminating international travelers seeking seclusion, relaxation, and attentive personalized service. Overlooking Baie Longue, a crescent-shaped, pristine white sand beach, La Samanna is St. Martin's most luxurious resort. The owners' inspiration came from the Greek Isles; the hotel's Caribbean architect designed the house based on sunny white-washed walls reminiscent of the Mediterranean. The resort is legendary for its Elyseé spa featuring indoor/outdoor tropical garden treatment rooms, Pilates studio, extensive wine cellar, and stellar cuisine (with provisions flown from France daily). Part of the famed Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruises collection, the resort boasts 81 suites located on 55 acres of prime beachfront property. La Samanna has long been recognized as one of the finest hotels in the world. Now you can Shop to the Last Drop with Les Dames de Leisure package, designed as a girls getaway to enjoy paradise within paradise: the exclusive shopping of Marigot that was once the playground of Jackie O. Les Dames de Leisure package includes duty-free shopping in Marigot with a chauffeured car, two head-to-toe treatments at the Elyseé Spa, and a two-bedroom suite which includes spacious living room, two large bedrooms with king beds, terrace, and fully equipped kitchen. The day-long shopping spree includes special discounts in some of the most exclusive stores, and the services of the resort's personal shopping expert. Upon check-out, guests will receive VIP treatment as the concierge arranges to have guests escorted to the private airport lounge, far from the crowds. Priced at $2,450, per night for four people, minimum stay of four nights.
December 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
During the month of December, New Orleans is the place to be. More than 100 festivities are planned during the month-long event of Christmas New Orleans Style, a celebration of uniquely Cajun holiday activities in a city that is steeped in traditions of the past. The events kicked off with the December 2 tree lighting ceremony at the French Market on Decatur Street, and continued with La Fête de Noël, a Christmas Market at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on December 3. Throughout the month, enjoy caroling, river cruises, candlelight tours through the historic houses of the French Quarter (decorated for the season), and Reveillon, a Creole dining tradition adapted by participating restaurants with holiday prix-fixe menus. Don't miss the Chef's Holiday Cooking Demonstrations, on December 7, 14, and 21, at The Shops at Canal Place. Acclaimed local chefs share their culinary secrets and favorite recipes (and an abundance of yummy samples are yours for the taking). Demos start at 3 pm and last 45 minutes.
December 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The hottest new hotel in Cancun, ME by Sol Melia Hotels and Resorts, is a sophisticated and stylish spot located on a perfect stretch of powdery white sand beach. The hotel's grand opening of December 16, 2006 has been excitedly anticipated for months. What's in store? Superb modern guestrooms with state-of-the-art technology (pre-tuned iPods and private Jacuzzis) and breathtaking ocean and lagoon views. One of the largest infinity-edged pools in Mexico. The 10,700 sq. ft. spa facility featuring Life Fitness Gym, Hydrotherapy zone with sauna, steam baths, hydro-massage pool, and Relaxation Center for facials, body treatments and massages. Tempting Mediterranean, Asian, and Mexican cuisine. And the Rande Gerber lounge (destined to transform Cancun's nightlife scene). To celebrate the grand opening, get two nights free when you book your stay between December 16 and February 28! Hurry, you must make your reservation by December 15, 2006. (Three night minimum stay required. Voucher for free nights provided at check-in, redeemable for Fall 2007.)
December 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In recent years, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula-- aka Riviera Maya-- has emerged as one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Upscale design hotels and dazzling eco-friendly resort communities such as Mayakoba are situated just south of Cancun on the stunning Caribbean coast surrounded by lush forest canopies, mangrove-lined waterways, and the azure of the Caribbean sea. Beyond the obvious tropical paradise (and the second largest coral reef in the world teeming with underwater life), there is a wealth of history to explore: the ancient cities and architectural wonders of the Mayan civilization. The Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya is the latest luxury addition, slated to open in 2007 just 30 minutes south of Cancun International Airport and 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. Situated among 36 acres of white sand beaches and tropical forests, the resort consists of 128 villas overlooking the Caribbean and the Cenote (sacred Mayan freshwater lake). Villas are spacious, private havens, accessible by winding paths and waterways; guests will be escorted to their villas by golf cart or water taxi. Designed with bamboo flooring, indigenous stone, outdoor bathtubs, rainforest showers, and natural furnishings, the villas are further enhanced with art from highly reputed Mexican artists. The Grand Villas have private pools, and the Villa Presidencial boasts private butler and chef service. Mandarin Oriental's latest hideaway also features a 25,000 square foot spa with treatments drawing from ancient Mayan and Asian traditions.
Indulge in the best afternoon tea in the world at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge. Cakes, butter biscuits, and scrumptious delicacies are all set for a makeover in the style of the world's top fashion designers, such as Lanvin, Jimmy Choo and Valentino, as The Berkeley launches its new Autumn/Winter 2006 Prêt-a-Portea cake collection. The traditional afternoon tea gets a twist with inspiration from the latest fashion season's catwalk designs. On the Pret-a-Portea menu this season are fashionista delectables such as Valentino leopard chestnut crème handbag, Giles Deacon pink polka dot nougat mousse , Alexander McQueen Stuart tartan chocolate cake , Aquascutum yellow coat ginger biscuit, Yves Saint Laurent frilly passion fruit meringue and Jimmy Choo gold boot biscuit. (All served in tiny bites, of course, for the figure conscious.) The Berkeley's pastry chef visits London fashion week shows to get his inspiration for the new patisserie collections; the Berkeley has also created a distinguished Prêt committee of fashion experts from publications such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar to check out the collection. Pret-a-Portea is served in The Caramel Room at The Berkeley from 2-6 pm everyday priced at GBP 33 per person. (GBP 41 per person includes a glass of champagne.)
The best hotel in Tokyo, the inspiration and backdrop for the film, Lost in Translation, is also the setting for one of the hottest hotel bars in the world. Park Hyatt Tokyo is an elegant oasis of space and calm that offers spectacular views of Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji, from the top 14 floors of the 52-storey Shinjuku Park Tower. This major landmark on the Tokyo skyline houses the stunning New York Bar, the place to see-and-be-seen in the city. The ambience could be Manhattan itself: black ebony chairs, walnut flooring, steel supports of the floor-to-ceiling windows, and Valerio Adami's huge murals of Radio City Music Hall and the Rainbow Room. As one of the top venues for live music in the city, the bar features jazz by top international artists nightly. New York Bar offers vintage cognac and brandy, classic and original cocktails, and the largest selection of American wines in Japan. Casual dining menu is available. Open Sunday to Wednesday from 5 pm to midnight. Thursday to Saturday from 5 pm to 1:00 am. Cover charge of 2,000 JPY is applied Monday through Saturday from 8 pm, Sunday from 7 pm.
The fifth annual Art Basel Miami Beach is just days away. The spectacular international art show-- to take place from December 7-10 this year-- is the American sister event of Art Basel in Switzerland, one of the most important art shows in the world. Art Basel Miami Beach is an extraordinary event combining an international art show with special exhibitions, parties, and events featuring design, film, music and architecture. The exhibition sites will be located within the Art Deco district, just a few steps from the beach. A selection of 200 art galleries from all over the world will exhibit 20th and 21st century art from over 1,500 artists; the Miami Beach Convention Center will be packed with good stuff and there will be art fairs galore. (Check out the Catalina Hotel and Beach Club in South Beach, wholly converted into an art gallery for the event.)
The best kept secret of the Indian Ocean-- the 26 atolls and 1,190 tropical islands of the Maldives-- has become one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Rated the number one islands in the world by the Conde Nast Traveler 19th annual Reader's Choice Awards, the Maldives are a natural wonder with unparalleled biodiversity (over 900 species of fish) and some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the world. Located on one of the most picturesque islands of the Maldives (lush and beautiful Ihuru), the Angsana Resort is surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty: pristine reefs, palm-dotted beaches, and turquoise waters. The island is encircled by a shallow lagoon and technicolor reef, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru offers the hedonistic pleasures of a spa retreat and the perfect holiday paradise. The 45 private villas feature thatched roofs, private gardens and verandas with dining and sitting areas. The resort has recently revamped its spa offerings with an extensive list of treatments, including Asian Spa therapies and special men's treatments. The new highlights include Duet, tailored for couples to enjoy together (the spa experience begins with a Tropical Fruit Wash for him and an Almond Milk Aglow body polish for her, followed by body massages and the Milk Orange Bath), Soothing Sun Relief (which includes Cucumber Soother and a calming facial soother), and Ayurvedic Delights.
PS. Noteworthy: The Angsana Resort and Spa has won awards for its environmentally friendly focus, including several outstanding marine biology research initiatives.
Possibly the world's most famous ski resort, Badrutt's Palace is a historic symbol of St. Moritz and the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism. Situated on six acres of private grounds high above the village of St. Moritz, overlooking the lake and mountains, Badrutt's Palace occupies a regal perch amidst dramatic and unspoiled scenery. Since its opening in 1896, Badrutt's Palace has been hailed as a symbol of the Swiss Alps region, a wondrous winter playground beloved by visiting celebrities and royalty. The Palace offers 165 guestrooms and 30 suites with stunning views. Guests enjoy discreet service, the ultimate relaxation at the spa, exciting nightlife, world-renowned cuisine at the hotel's restaurants, including Nobu, the trendiest new restaurant in St. Moritz opened by adored superstar chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. With parties, polo ponies and ski slopes, the Winter season is an event not to be missed in St. Moritz. The Pre-Holiday Ski Break is a fantastic deal; guests experience the pampered luxury of Badrutt's Palace at an unparalleled discount with four nights for the price of three. Stay December 5-17, 2006 (not including Saturday nights) and get a rate of $280 per night for a superior double room (usual rack rate is $510).