September 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The star chef has accumulated quite a loyal following from his renowned restaurants in Paris, Toyko, and Las Vegas, and now the legend arrives in Manhattan at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, newly opened at Four Seasons Hotel New York. The design is innovative: the heart of the restaurant is an open kitchen, dissolving the traditional boundaries between the dining room and kitchen. From the 20 individual seats at the U-shaped pearwood bar, diners can gape at the culinary team at work. The restaurant itself is elegant (details in wood and lacquered black and red) and very intimate: in addition to the pearwood counter, there are only 26 more seats in the whole joint. The cuisine is nothing short of spectacular, prepared with the highest quality ingredients. Famed dishes include the Pommes Purée Truffée (truffled mashed potatoes) and the popular La Caille Farcie de Foie Gras et Caramélisée (free-range quail stuffed with foie gras). With the nightly tasting menu, lucky guests can create their own multi-course Robuchon experience.
September 29, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Conrad Chicago These days all of the luxury hotels have packages or gimic to help attract new guests and market their property. In this case the Conrad Chicago (which just finished a major renovation) has 4 ongoing deals that aren't just gimics, but great add-ons to a Chicago visit. Halloween Package (through 10/31/06) this package includes orange cotton candy, gummy worms and spiders upon check-in for the children, 2 tickets to attend Navy FEAR at Navy Pier, and truffle pumpkin cookies for the entire family to enjoy. Business Retreat (through 12/31/06) includes complimentary coffee delivered to room following wake-up call , dry cleaning for 1 suite, executive services, a selection from our NY Times bestseller booklist, personal shopper to find a gift for your loved ones back home. Holidays on Magnificent Mile (through 12/31/06) includes shipping of shopping items within us up to $30.00, a $50.00 gift card, and a VIP savings passport for Westfield North Bridge, holiday Martini, gift wrapping, turndown, late check-out, and parking for 1 night. Tut at Twilight (through 12/31/06) includes 2 adult tickets to the King Tut exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. Extra tickets available for purchase. Reserve the Conrad Chicago
I recently had the honor of visiting Hotel Fouquet's Barrière before its November 3, 2006 opening date. In a city of superlatives--Paris is the most romantic and beautiful metropolis of them all--the luxury hotel scene sets the standard for elegance, sophistication, and impeccable service worldwide. I was pleased to discover (even with construction underway) that Hotel Foquet's Barrière proudly carves its own place in this impressive roster of opulent Palace Hotels.
The new kid on the block sports two defining characteristics that are hard to come by in Paris-- an enormous Spa with stunning swimming pool-- and location, location, location. Hotel Foquet's Barrière stands prominently on the corner of two fabled boulevards: the Champs-Elysées and Avenue George V. Surrounded by chic designer boutiques (Hermes, Louis Vuitton) and fine dining, the hotel is perfectly situated at the nexus of the Triangle d'Or.
A word about the architecture. Celebrity architect Édouard François has created a contemporary masterpiece by fusing the old and new. Attached to the legendary Brasserie Fouquet's, the hotel is comprised of five Haussman-style buildings located around a central interior garden. The project is extraordinary, years in the making, and destined to become a destination in its own right. All the buildings were not originally connected. As I walked around the outside of the hotel, I noticed how the architect created a faux Haussmann-style façade which has been molded onto the exterior of the newer adjoining buildings: on this grey stone--which is in marked contrast with the sandy colored old buildings it adjoins--the architect has superimposed large contemporary windows which are rectangular in shape and placed perpendicular, against the grain, to the corresponding window cut-outs in the façade.
And the interiors are just as remarkable. Interior designer Jacques Garcia has created 107 lavish guest rooms in a combination of art-deco and empire style. Utilizing rich velvets, leather, gold leaf, shark skin, precious marble, and plush fabrics, Garcia has created posh, imperial spaces that are also extremely comfortable. I've never seen beds so big. Bathrooms are like mini-spas, decked out in marble, with large bath and separate walk-in rainshower room. In the Presidential Suite, the large jetted tub actually overlooks the grand stretch of Champs-Elysées (though these rooms are ultra sound-proofed for peace and quiet.) The Presidential Suite, like all guest rooms, is equipped with the most cutting edge technology: the flat screen TV is embedded in the mirror, totally invisible until turned on.
The U Spa Barriere is located underground, a vast restorative space that includes seven private treatment rooms, fully equipped fitness room, hammam, steam room, sauna, and the hotel's gem: the gorgeous swimming pool. Besides the famous Brasserie, the hotel will feature Le Diane restaurant, overlooking the garden, and Le Lucien bar. Above, an enormous teak rooftop terrace offers the perfect space for private receptions, with views of the Eiffel Tower.
I think I'm in love. 35 days and counting…until we can get pampered in style in the City of Light.
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.