So what if its development recently changed hands? Chicago's in store for an humongous tower, a huge twisting mass of metal designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, that will sit right on the lake. Only the Burj Tower, under construction in Dubai, will be taller. Reaching 2,000 feet at its spire, the 124-storey building will house a five star hotel and 300 luxury condominiums, ranging in price from $600,000 to $5 million. It's scheduled for completion in 2010. Via NYT
Doggies are going to love this one. While their owners are away, pampered pooches enjoy the plushest of suites and the finest five star service at the PetSmart PetHotel in Bethesda, MD-- all for just 23 bucks a night. According to Yahoo! News:
The doggie hotel is nothing like kennels of yore: in this inn there is lactose-free ice cream, indoor recreation, and for 10 more dollars a night, pooch can stay in a roomier "suite" with a television set showing an "animal related movie all day," said Vince Malanaphy, who manages the Bethesda PetsHotel.
A lot of the lucky canine guests are day boarders; poodles and labradors can "socialize" at Doggie Day Camp here in Bethesda for only 20 bucks a day.
It's being called the "largest development in the hemisphere." The O Property Collection has announced its development of 2.24 sq-mile Dellis Cay, a breaktakingly beautiful island in the Turks and Caicos. With stunning tropical beaches and lagoons, the islands are also known for their spectacular diving and snorkeling, as the third largest coral reef system in the world is located just off-shore. This flagship project is located just 20 minutes from Providenciales. According to Travel Weekly:
Scheduled to open in 2008, the project is estimated to generate a billion dollars worth of sales within the next five years… The development will be divided into lifestyle zones, each designed by a different architect. OPC, which also has projects planned in the Mediterranean and Asia, will partner with hotel management companies to run the individual properties worldwide. Although each property development will be different, Kinay said that they will all "bear the marks of the OPC signature brand -- timeless architecture, sleek design, a fit with the natural surroundings and the finest in amenities and services."
But the company's website is remarkably vague about a project of this magnitude:
The Project involves building infrastructure and about 70,000 square meters of construction within the next three to five years. On the island, which will be divided into "lifestyle areas" designed by the world's foremost architects, the focus will be on creating an upscale, exclusive private island serving the needs of affluent travelers.
Another reason why Abu Dhabi is shaking things up: the Guggenheim Foundation has recently announced plans to open a museum in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The new museum will be the biggest and most ambitious yet: 300,000 square feet designed by super-star Frank Gehry, 25 percent bigger than the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain.
The museum, to be called the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, would house Modern and contemporary art and serve as the linchpin of a sprawling development in a new cultural district of Saadiyat (Arabic for "isle of happiness"), a 10-square-mile natural island just off Abu Dhabi.
The new museum is slated to open in 2011.
New York Times, "Guggenheim Foundation and Abu Dhabi Plan Museum There"
The Informed Traveler, "Move Over Dubai: the Marvelous Makeover of Abu Dhabi"
July 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Rob Wilder, Food & Wine Editor and Member of the Five Star Alliance Editorial Advisory Board In the US, great views usually are accompanied by mediocre food. Fortunately in Athens a different rule applies. Three of the better restaurants in town treat you to spectacular views. The menu at Pil Pil is only marginally Greek, but the location reminds you why you came to Athens. The dramatically lit Acropolis literally soars above this romantic patio, atop a small townhouse by the ancient agora. It is an "only in the movies" kind of setting! While somewhat pricey, Pil Pil delivers with fine Greco-Mediterranean dishes and excellent service. For an equally dramatic but very different panorama, ride the funicular to the top of Mount Lycavetus to Orizondes, a highly respected modern Greek restaurant perched atop this 1,000 foot cliff. With the chaotic jumble of Athens way below you, Orizondes produces wonderful food and service. Both restaurants have good selections of high quality Greek wines... look for any by Gerovasiliou or Kyr-Yianni. Finally, for a Michelin one-star experience with an almost equal view, head to the rooftop at Varoulko. Creative interpretations of every kind of Greek seafood are excellent. Perhaps the best overall dining experience in Athens? During our meal a summer lightning storm crashed around us, and our Greek friends coolly told us not to worry, the storm would miss us. Even when a few drops started falling, not a single diner budged from their open air seats- too enthralled with their dinners. The storm miraculously passed us by - Another magical evening in Athens! On the hotel front, we have had two good experiences at the St. George Lycabetus, perched on a hill over the upscale shopping area of Kolonaki. Fine rooms, great views (and rooftop pool), and an excellent location. Friends have also loved the Grand Bretagne, but it is both more expensive and in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Syntagma Square. The shops and restaurants of Kolonaki are big draw - our favorite is Papadakis, a youthful and modern take on the Greek Taverna with wonderful food and service. 9 Luxury Hotels in Athens from Five Star Alliance
July 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The temperatures may be hot and steamy, but the prices are record-low. Head on down to Miami during Hurricane Season and seize the deal at South Beach hot spots like The Setai. Right now, the deals are unbelievable at Adrian Zecha's elegant beachfront masterpiece. Summer rates are starting at just $495, through September 2006. (The celeb-favorite Setai usually charges an arm and a leg.) Set amidst tropical gardens and turquoise pools next to the Atlantic, the Art Deco landmark has been beloved for its intimate ambience, impeccable service, and awesome facilities since its opening in 2005. No detail is overlooked in the 75 guestrooms and 45 suites, stacked with amenities: espresso machines, in-room bars, Bose surround-sound DVD/CD systems, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, luxurious bath products, and flat screen LCD and plasma TVs. Enjoy a deep therapeutic massage at the luxurious spa overlooking the sand and sea, and then savor the excellent cuisine at the Crustacean restaurant. And The Setai is located in the middle of it all on Collins Avenue, close to the hottest dining, shopping and nightlife in South Beach.
July 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The much-anticipated World's Best Awards has just been released by Travel and Leisure. In these 11th annual reader polls, the chic Singita Private Game Reserve scores at the top of the hotel list, after debuting as number 1 in the world in 2004. What makes the Singita such a hot property? Lions, tigers, and…elephants galore, and on top of that, some of the finest accommodations on the planet, consisting of 18 suites spread out within five lodges. The Sabi Sands is a wildlife mecca, and situated in the middle of this dramatic landscape, the lodges at Singita are internationally recognized as among the most exclusive in the world. After a daily expedition into the African bush, continue the wildlife viewing from the privacy of your own private deck. Or appreciate the gorgeous surroundings while indulging in a massage or beauty treatment at the excellent spa. Enjoy exceptional cuisine complemented by impressive wine cellars: each Singita lodge has a unique and comprehensive wine cellar, totalling approximately 35,000 bottles of the finest South African wines.
Gridskipper on the World's Best Awards, "This Just In: Tourists Love Touristy City"
July 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It took eleven years, and EUR 232 million, but at the June 20 inauguration of the new Musée du Quai Branly, the world's gaze settled on the hottest new museum in Paris. After all, the Musée du Quai Branly represents the crowning cultural achievement of Chirac's reign, who has sought to create a space honoring "the world's forgotten civilizations." Jean Nouvel's architectural masterpiece now houses the 270,000 items from the African, Oceanic and Asian artworks from the Musée de l'Homme and the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens (only 3,500 are on display.)
The building itself is extraordinary: a piece of contemporary art beneath the Eiffel Tower, situated on 19 acres of green, sprawling along the Seine. It is disjointed: a colorful mass of metal, with curved glass walls and no sense of symmetry. It is distinctly modern. Standing within the gardens, or in the ticket line beneath the building's metal overhang, you catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, which seems to rise directly from the museum itself.
And though the lines of tourists assemble outside the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in the summertime, the Musée du Quai Branly is a breeze. Upon entrance, visitors follow a long white ramp where a kaleidoscope of images is projected. Once you enter the Collections area, the light is dim, and the museum experience is an interactive one. You walk through a corridor lined with soft walls that are meant to be touched, called La Riviere, where indigenous stories and folklore are narrated for handicapped visitors. The museum is meant to be a place of ongoing exploration of anthropology and non-Western civilizations.
Hours: 10 am-6:30 pm, closed on Mondays. Tickets are EUR 8.50.
New York Times, For a New Paris Museum, Jean Nouvel Creates His Own Rules
July 6, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board Last week, the Conrad Chicago continued their renovations and updates with new linens in the guest rooms (500 thread count Pratesi linens) and plush Pratesi towels and bathrobes. They have also rolled out the complimentary high speed wireless internet throughout the entire hotel, comp shoe shine services and evening turndown service with comp bottled water. Other ongoing renovations include 42' flat screen HD plasma tvs and Bose home theater systems. 4 floors within the Conrad's building have been completed and the 5th floor of guest rooms should be done by the end of July - but all rooms should be upgraded with these new amenities by mid October of 2006.Just past the fifth-floor lobby of downtown Chicago's Conrad Hotel is an alfresco escape -- The Terrace at Conrad (see image). It is a great place to unwind in a chic outdoor setting with fantastic cityscape views. This alfresco dining destination just recently opened at the end of May. Best of all, on Sunday and Monday nights you can enjoy movie night on the Terrace! The July movie line up includes: 6/2 – Guess who is coming to dinner 6/3 – Guy’s and Dolls 6/9 – Citizen Cane 6/10 – Star Wars 6/16 – Dr. Strangelove 6/17 – Rear Window 6/23 – Annie Hall 6/24 – All About Eve 6/30 – On the Water Front 6/31 – Ben Hur (but remember - movies may be subject to change so check with them first) And don't forget about the Special Offer from Five Star Alliance for the Conrad Chicago: Guests making their reservations through Five Star Alliance will receive a welcome amenity, continental breakfast for two (2) daily, and a possible upgrade upon check-in based upon availability.
June 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The media is abuzz with news of the nuptials between Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. The happy lovebirds have since jetted to the South Pacific on their honeymoon, but fans are no doubt eager for the scoop about the Intercontinental Sydney where Urban shacked up before the ceremony. As one of Sydney's leading five-star hotels, the Intercontinental Sydney overlooks the stunning harbor with panoramic views of the Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens. Besides its central location, the hotel is distinguished by its majestic sandstone facade, as the hotel is housed in the heritage listed 1851 Treasury Building, a Sydney landmark. In 2005, the Intercontinental completed an AUD$30 million refurbishment with spacious, contemporary rooms and a gorgeous rooftop Club Lounge. I wonder if Urban staked out the Australia Suite, perhaps the best Presidential Suite in Sydney. Located on the 29th floor, the 245 sq-meter suite features an open-air terrace with dining area, living and dining room with grand piano, fully equipped kitchen, and bathroom with shower-steam room and spa bath. This is the height of luxury and indulgence.