LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
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).
Bangkok's newest member of Small Luxury Hotels is an extraordinary all-suite masterpiece in the heart of Bangkok. At lebua at State Tower, each suite boasts a wall of windows with dazzling views of the city skyline and Chao Phraya River. The spacious suites are luxurious and comfortable, stacked with contemporary conveniences (like two flat-screen TVs, DVD players, in-room broadband Internet connectivity, workstations, and fully-equipped kitchens). The Dome at State Tower features myriad dining options with glass balconies, sexy lighting, terraces, and city viewing galleries. Located on the 63rd floor of The Dome at State Tower, Sirocco is the world's highest al fresco restaurant stunning views of Bangkok. The dramatic deck appears to be suspended in the middle of the sky, frozen in space. Descending onto the deck is a beautifully lit stairway leading to one corner where the hip Sky Bar takes center-stage.
With the Sky Night @ Sky Bar package, enjoy the very best that Bangkok has to offer from high atop State Tower. The package includes daily full breakfast, complimentary local calls and high-speed internet access, complimentary use of the fitness center facilities and swimming pool, welcome amenity of flowers and handmade chocolates, one Sky Bar drink per person, and one bottle of wine in-room upon arrival. Starting at $140 per one bedroom suite through December 21, 2006. $150 per one bedroom suite until March 31, 2007. Two night minimum stay required.
The legendary Fasano Hotel of São Paulo-- site of one of the best Italian restaurants in the world-- is coming to Rio de Janeiro. Destined to wow both trendsetting locals and savvy travelers alike, the elegant new hotel will be situated in the heart of Ipanema Beach. Rogerio Fasano commissioned Philippe Starck in its design, which exudes understated sophistication, with decor from the 1950's and 60's. From the rooftop (guests only), the views are absolutely spectacular. In addition to the happening Lobby Lounge, Londra, the hotel features the Fasano Al Mare, Rogerio Fasano's gastronomic restaurant (serving traditional Italian seafood), beautiful pool, fitness center, sauna, massage and coffee shop for light meals.