September 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.
August 30, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Good news for spa clients, bad news for spa media From our friends the SpaQuest spa professionals It is always interesting to us when magazines create ‘top’ lists for spas, because for us the perfect spa vacation cannot be defined by general criterion, but instead by whether or not an individual’s specific set of needs has been fulfilled. There is no cookie cutter mold that fits all spa experiences, or clients. A spa vacation that is rich in holistic immersion, for example, might be intentionally meager on luxe amenities in order to encourage guests to focus on achieving intrinsic goals without distractions. Likewise, pampering spas with endless arrays of treatment options and mega facilities tend to soft pedal a focus on goal attainment in favor of the delight of almost instant gratification. Of course both have their place in the spa industry because they cater to very different types of clients, or even the same clients seeking different experiences at different times. Luckily for die-hard spafanatics, in recent times the industry has been undergoing a form of upgrading of spa retreats. Destination spas, the holy grail of holistic experience, have been melding age-old philosophies of weight-loss, detoxification and stress management with modernized spa facilities and engaging outdoor activities. The latest destination spa to enter the category we fondly refer to as ‘holistic luxury’ is the Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah. Founded in very strict dietetic/fitness philosophies – older clients will remember it as the National Institute of Fitness, a spa that would have fallen into the boot camp category years ago – the ages old spa is always in flux in order to meet the demands of the new, more discerning spa consumer. The holistic resort’s new Sage Stone spa is a haven of treatments that incorporate elements of the local minerals and flora. Spas such as Miraval located in Tucson, and the Canyon Ranches (Lennox, Massachusetts and Tucson, Arizona) had the foresight to offer holistic luxury for years now. As industry leaders, both properties have not only become brands, but also usually top those lists we mentioned earlier. And each of these experiences is tailored to appeal to different types of clients with the Canyon programs fulfilling a Type A demand while Miraval cultivates a “balanced” vacation. Newer spas added to our roster, such as the Lakeview at Fontana, North Carolina and Sivory Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, were created with this amalgamation of mind, body, spirit and sensuality in mind. They are destination spas with a pleasing balance of philosophy and pampering. We embrace this evolving model of spa experience, one that is sure to throw a wrench in the cogs of print media machines and their fanciful ‘top’ lists, because it will prove increasingly difficult to determine which spa is ‘best’ when the delineations are less black and white. The lists may also prove irrelevant with the new and newly upgraded spas and also better educated and sophisticated spa clients that understand that spa experiences cannot be judged simply by star rating or celebrity sighting, that the intangible benefits are just as important as the physical ones, if not more so. Visit SpaQuest at http://spa-quest.com/
August 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The hottest, trendiest place on the So Cal coast, Tower 23 opened in July 2005 to much fanfare and celebration. Overlooking long stretches of golden sand, the three-storey all-glass hotel is a stylish, contemporary urban resort, taking its name from the Lifeguard Tower 23 positioned on Pacific Beach in front of the hotel. Billing itself as San Diego's "only luxury, lifestyle hotel on the beach," Tower 23 is a celebration of contemporary architecture and design. The 44 guestrooms reflect the oceanfront setting—the environment of sun, sand, surf, and sky—with minimalist design, private balconies and patios to contemplate the sea, and teak furnishings. (And with names to match; the rooms are divided into three types: Spirit, Sky and Surf Pads.) Of course the rooms are brimming with all the latest technology: LDC flat-screens, XBoxes, wifi Internet, and Tempur-Pedic beds. Hipsters flock to Jordan, the sleek restaurant and bar (pictured) where fresh California cuisine is served in a happening environment.