September 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Dubai's legendary business hotel, soaring 305 meters above the central business district, sets the standard for luxurious services for the modern business traveler. Case in point: the H20 Male Spa, a unique concept designed exclusively for men. In today's fast paced world, jumping from time zone to time zone for meetings, a few minutes of restorative relaxation are a vital necessity. And so H20 has designed a full-menu of 30 individualized spa treatments that are quick and results-oriented. Express versions are also available. Cool and contemporary, the spa features an Oxygen Lounge, with high-tech Italian Shiatsu chairs and 3D movies, and Flotation Pool Therapy, touted as providing the equivalent of eight hours sleep.
Among the fascinating destinations featured in the Fall issue of the New York Times Style Magazine: Travel, the ultra-exclusive game reserve in Tanzania's Serengeti intrigues because of the complexities and contrasts of modern-day Africa at its doorstep. Here lucky guests witness the spectacular seasonal migration of millions of wildebeest across the savannah while experiencing the exquisite luxury of one of the finest game lodges in Africa. The Grumeti Reserves is a 346,000-acre safari reserve, almost "a private extension of Serengeti National Park," its protected land a corridor right in the path of the great migration.
In the midst of all this is Sasakwa Lodge, a cluster of elegant colonial cottages with a spa and equestrian center on Sasakwa Hill. At $1,500 a night (part of which goes to the government as "hunting" revenue), Sasakwa is one of the most luxurious resorts in Africa.
At Sasakwa, each of the seven air-conditioned cottages is situated within the privacy of a beautifully landscaped garden, with heated infinity plunge pools, lounge, and spacious bedroom. This is the flagship of the Grumeti lodges, set high above the savannah, an elegant space of long, sweeping verandahs and classy lounges brimming with antiques.
Forbes has unveiled a brand, spanking new luxury travel site-- dedicated to distinctive travel experiences for the discerning traveler. Forbes has long had its finger on the pulse of luxury travel trends, so the stand-alone site is a welcome addition to its portfolio. The folks at ForbesTraveler are scheming all sorts of unique content, including destination guides and specialized focus on luxury hotels (that's what we like to hear). The first edition shares a local insider's guide to Aspen, with tips including the following rec. for private jets:
A great trip to Aspen starts on the runway. It's been said that in an average year 10 percent of all the private jets in America land in Aspen, but not all charter outfits are equal. One good choice is Aspen Executive Air (also known as AEXJet), which knows the ins and outs of Sardy Field. Prices range from $2,200 per hour of flight time for a light jet to $10,000 per hour for something big enough to make an impression over cocktails at the Little Nell.
Of course the place to stay in Aspen is The Little Nell, where the legendary après-ski scene is hotter than ever (indulge with fondue or fresh seafood at the bar or thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room). Just steps from the Silver Queen gondola, The Little Nell is the only five-star/five-diamond hotel in town. Rooms are lavish, and the heated outdoor swimming pool, facing Aspen Mountain, divine.
The most hotly anticipated hotel opening in South Florida (delayed for
years months, much to our chagrin.) The glorious Acqualina Resort, located on 400 feet of picture-perfect coastline in Sunny Isles, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, has officially opened its doors. The resort's grand European-inspired architecture graces the oceanfront, its 97 suites featuring private terraces to take in views of the Miami skyline and dazzling seascape. But that's not all. This luxurious haven features the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools, private beach club, and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. Acqualina also offers a special Kids in the Kitchen pastry cooking class, where children play, experiment, and learn their way around a kitchen. Enjoy introductory rates starting at $299 a night at the newly-opened hotel masterpiece.
Girls Getaway Packages, Babymoons, and now Mancations... The luxury hotel industry is quick to forecast travel trends and anticipate the desires of its clientele. And these days, it's for getaways with the guys. Hotels are offering poker parties, hand-rolled cigars, luxury cars and sports tickets, in an effort to tap this new trend. As CNN reports, the new Regent South Beach has devised a special package catering to guys "man-cationing" together which includes a penthouse room, private rooftop terrace with a hot tub and wet bar, round-the-clock butler service and a choice of a luxury rental car such as a Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini.
An "Urban Dictionary" definition for mancation describes it as men engaging in masculine activities such as sports, camping, gambling, chasing women and drinking, without the presence of wives, mistresses or girlfriends. Vince Vaughn helped popularize the term in this summer's romantic comedy "The Break-Up."
The Regent South Beach is not alone. Back in June, The Informed Traveler described how Fairmont Hotels has paved the way with its Mancations packages in its properties across North America. At the Fairmont Chicago, gents enjoy a Chitown getaway which includes whisky tasting, steak dinner, seminar with wine and spirits producer Brown-Forman, and a special "hair-of-the-dog" turndown amenity. And the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa includes spa pampering with its Mancation package. The Speed Meets Spa package caters to both the need for speed and the desire for pampering. With this package, guests receive enrollment at the ESPN Russell Racing School's introductory three day driving course at Infineon Raceway, three nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Inn's handsome fine-dining restaurant, two 50-minute spa treatments, tasting for two at the Gloria Ferrer winery and a bottle of Sonoma Sparkling Wine upon arrival.
And the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina has put together the "Dudes on the Dunes" package, which includes a round of golf and an in-room poker game with snacks and beer from $625 per person for two nights.
September 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The dynamic, vibrant city of Shanghai is a city of superlatives: it has the fastest train on the planet (the Maglev train linking its two airports) and is also home to the highest hotel in the world, The Grand Hyatt. Situated in the 53rd to 87th floors of the Jin Mao Tower in the heart of Pudong, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai is easily the best hotel in the city. Nota Bene, the exclusive destination review, raves about the Grand Hyatt in its latest issue on Shanghai, recommending it over most of the city's other luxury hotels (which are mostly big Western chains, like Four Seasons, Westin, JW Marriott):
The Grand Hyatt's height, its floor-to-ceiling windows, its 87th-floor bar, the swiftness of its lifts, its views of the Bund; all are largely unbeatable.
Hipsters flock to Cloud 9, the hotel's sexy bar/lounge located on the 87th floor, the highest point of the hotel. The 360 degree city views are sensational. The spacious guest rooms and suites epitomize luxury, with modern amenities guaranteed to mesmerize even the most discerning travelers.
September 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Oktoberfest in Munich is in full swing. And the beer-guzzling merriment of the world's biggest beer festival--16 days of revelry--will continue until October 3, 2006. The 14 beer tents collectively seat over 100,000 patrons and over the course of the festival, an estimated 6 million visitors will down 6 million liters of specialty brew, accompanied by the best kind of German grub (schnitzel, sauerkraut and sausage galore). But it's more than a keg fest. There's entertainment, theater and shows, and carnival rides a plenty. Munich is hopping with activity. If a last minute trip to Europe's biggest festival is in the works, stake your claim to a room at the Bayerischer Hof, the city's finest hotel-- its elegance a welcome respite from the frenzy of activity outside. Centrally located, the largest privately owned hotel in Germany boasts excellent restaurants, rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities with sauna, steambath, and solarium, and its own theater and night club. Or start planning for next year's merry-making, scheduled for September 22-October 7, 2007.
66 storeys of sleek, sophisticated luxury right smack in the center of Shanghai on People's Square. The new Le Royal Meridien Shanghai is a sight to behold, a new landmark on the city's quickly-changing skyline. This is the heart of the city, just a quick walk to the Bund, Huaihai Road, Xintiandi, the old town, and the numerous shops along the buzzing Nanjing Road. The 770-room hotel has a staff of 1,200 to ensure the highest level of service for its pampered clientele. Views from the guest rooms are exquisite, overlooking the Bund, Huang Pu River, and dramatic Shanghai skyline. Rooms are outfitted with 42" plasma TV, DVD/CD player, rain shower, wireless and High Speed Internet Access, and wall-to-wall windows. Not too shabby. And with 10 restaurants and bars, a luxury spa, and 2,000 square meters of meeting space, Le Royal Meridien Shanghai is the place to stay in the city. Now accepting reservations for September 25, 2006 arrivals.
Leave it to NYT Travel to hook us up with the latest scoop on the South Beach scene: the hot new hotels breaking ground (move over, Delano!), big name restauranteurs making waves (LA dude Govind Armstrong has big plans with a branch of his Table 8 and David Bouley's staking out a spot in the Ritz-Carlton), and over-the-top parties shaking things up (at new clubs like Mokai, SET, and Snatch).
The hottest hotel opening of the season? The Regent South Beach, a luxury 80-suite condominium hotel, located on 14th and Ocean, in the middle of it all in South Beach. Penthouse Suites are decked out with secluded rooftop gardens, roman hot tubs, and ocean views. There's a full-service European spa, trendy restaurant overlooking Ocean Drive, glass-bottom pool, and first-class amenities. At this new gem, concierge and valet service is 24 hours a day, of course. Renowned architectural firm Arquitectonica is behind the gorgeous building and landscaping.
September 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Here's good news from the incredible indoor ski and snowboard center at the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai: Ski Dubai will be hosting a Jam Session on Monday, September 18, 2006 with Olympic Snowboarder Gold Medalist Tanja Frieden. The event will be judged and the Best Overall Freestyler will be jetting off to snowy Switzerland, courtesy of Swiss International Airlines. A winner for "Best Trick of the Night" will also be awarded. Ski Dubai's Freestyle Nights, which take place every other Monday between 8 and 11 pm, are a riotous good time with DJs playing good tunes all evening (highlights on the runs include a volcano, barrel hump, four-meter table-top jump, and monster ramp at mid-station), and this Jam Session promises to be a blast. Register at Ski Dubai on the night.