LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
June 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As if you needed an excuse to jet to Hawaii. The 25th annual Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, Hawaii's most prestigious and exciting festival of its kind, kicks off on July 6 with a "Silver Salute" four-day culinary extravaganza. Look no further than this for pure gastronomic bliss. World-renowned winemakers, top master sommeliers, celebrated chefs and industry insiders lead themed tastings, seminars, and gala evening events. Cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars and winemaker dinners are but a few of the highlights of this event. The festivities begin with the Grand Tasting on Friday, July 7th and culminate with the popular Seafood Festival on Sunday, July 9th.
After an extensive renovation, the National Portrait Gallery celebrates its grand reopening July 1 with fourteen new exhibitions. The National Landmark Historic Building that houses the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum now has 30 percent more exhibition space, redesigned galleries, a conservation lab, and an enclosed courtyard. The gallery's 20,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings portray the individuals who have made signature contributions to the history and culture of the US. All exhibitions will open July 1, and include "Americans Now," which showcases individuals prominent in sports, entertainment and other fields in the last 25 years, and "Eye Contact," which will feature masterpieces of 20th century portraiture from the National Portrait Gallery's drawing collections. Folks can even "Adopt-A-Portrait" in celebration of the reopening.
The coolest hotel in Vegas is also home to one of the best hotel pools in the US. At the Hard Rock you'll find a hip party atmosphere, a Nobu restaurant, and a rocking Beach Club swimming pool with swim-up blackjack tables. This is the hang-out in Sin City, where there's always a hopping pool party with plenty of people watching. The seven acres of pools are connected by a lazy river and enhanced by actual sand beaches, palm trees, and a stage with live music. And of course you can play blackjack in your bathing suit. Swim up to the wooden gazebo with its blackjack and craps tables and don't worry about sopping wet bills-- the good folks at the Hard Rock hand out plastic pouches to protect your money.
June 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for Bryant Park Hotel, New York CitySituated directly across from New York City's storied Bryant Park, and steps away from the media, fashion, retail and transportation centers of Manhattan, the Bryant Park Hotel's midtown address alone renders it prime accommodations for the business or leisure traveler alike. Get the most out of your trip by reserving their Penthouse Suite (pictured). Make sure you do it when something exciting is happening in Bryant Park or when you can devote some time to park and people watching on your balcony. P.S. The Bryant Park bathroom - the actual Park's bathrooms aren't just outhouses - was awarded the title of "best in America" by Citysearch users in 2002 so make sure you check that out too.Penthouse Suite DetailsLocation: The Bryant Park Hotel is 25 stories tall with only 128 guest rooms. The Penthouse Suite occupies the entire 24th floor with surrounding views of the New York City skyline.Size: 1,100 square feet (better then all of Manhattan's apartments)Rooms: The Penthouse features 1 and a half baths, a dinning area for up to 6 people, living room, bedroom and balcony. The Living Room: Notable aspects of the living room include one of the Suite's two 32" High Definition LCD flat screen televisions and a desk equipped with internet access is available for any business needs. Bathroom: A sleek double-headed shower, as well as an oversized bathtub, provides a luxurious bathing experience plus you can hoard Molton Brown products in your suitcase and keep asking the housekeeping staff and front desk to send you more. Balcony: Accessible through the Bedroom, the balcony provides amazing views which include the lawn of Bryant Park and the Manhattan skyline (make sure you bring binoculars).Note Bene: Through floor-to-ceiling windows, you can enjoy the view of the Empire State Building illuminated at night, all the while immersed in a flower-petal-infused bubble bath with your BOSE Wave Music System and a BOSE SoundDock Digital Music System for Apple iPod playing that hip music kids these days are listening to. Too cheap to get the Penthouse Suite? The Bryant Park Hotel does also have 16 suites, 10 park-view terraces, and a rooftop loft space with 360-degree skyline panoramas. They all have a fresh contemporary decor and signature room appointments that include authentic Tibetan rugs, goose-down duvets, and travertine marble bathrooms, even without shelling out the Penthouse nightly rate. Other New York Suites: Plaza Athenee's Penthouse Suite, "Park Avenue Suite at The Regency in New York City", "The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite", "The Triplex Penthouse at the Time", and "Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite".
When in Venice, do like the locals (or visiting celebs) and head to the outdoor terrace at the 18th century Bauer Il Palazzo hotel. It's extraordinary. The cleverly named Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) is a rooftop lounge on the 7th floor, with spectacular panoramic views over the city and lagoon. Here, breakfast is served exclusively for lucky guests, and the entire terrace and rooftop jacuzzi are available to rent for private functions. The hotel has the best spot in the floating city after all, in St. Mark's Basin, with its own private dock on the Grand Canal. In the heart of Venice, the Bauer Il Palazzo is an intimate boutique hotel with a stunning Gothic facade and opulent Venetian aura. The guestrooms likewise boast impressive views of the best of Venice. Many of the 44 luxurious rooms and 38 suites--lavishly appointed with fine furniture, fabrics, and Murano glass chandeliers-- offer balconies and terraces overlooking the beautiful city of canals. (Never mind that it's sinking.)
That's right. The opulent Parisian hotel has a new Culinary and Lifestyle Academy for folks to learn (and hopefully master) the art of French savoir-vivre. The landmark Hotel Meurice has always been ranked one of the most elegant hotels in the world, so we can trust that this fashionable new school will provide the best kind of expertise in subjects such as flower-arranging, wine-tasting, and pastry-making. Saturday classes include morning and afternoon sessions, with 12 students max. a class. Starting at EUR 105 per person.
On exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Degas to Picasso: Modern Masters. This survey of European art from 1900 to 1960 is ambitious and fascinating, showcasing 280 paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints, and photographs. From the late works of Degas, Gauguin, Munch and Rodin through Giacometti and Picasso, this exhibition explores the major masters in 20th century Europe on an individual artistic basis, while also highlighting the rise of new artistic movements, from late impressionism and symbolism to mid-century modernism. Don't miss this one. Through July 23.
June 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago debuted the Teen Concierge program last year in an effort to cater to older children and teens who have different expectations for a fun vacation. Cynthia Waldmeir, the Teen Concierge, knows Chitown inside and out: the coolest boutiques in Lincoln Park and the trendiest restaurants in the city. Equipped with iPod fix-it kits, lip balm, and popular DVDs, Cynthia's got her list ready for the Top Picks for visiting teens and tweens:
Where to eat:
1. Best Place to Enjoy Sushi: Kamehachi, 240 East Ontario Street
Cynthia says: "They have a really cool underground atmosphere. It's like you are going into this cave where you sit down to enjoy delicious sushi rolls."
2. Best Sweets in City: Sweet Mandy B's, 1208 West Webster Avenue
Cynthia says: "The vintage cafe is so cute and their cupcakes and sweets are to die for."
3. Best Place for Something Different: L'Appetito, 875 North Michigan Avenue.
Cynthia says: "They have great panini-- but leave room for the gelato, an Italian favorite."
4. Best Place for a Chicago hot dog: Downtown Dogs, 804 North Rush Street
Cynthia says: "A trip to Chicago is not complete without a Chicago hot dog. Downtown Dogs has a great menu and is within walking distance for our guests."
5. Best Place for Chicago-style Pizza: Giordano's, 730 North Rush Street
Cynthia says: "At Giordano's you can place your order while you wait for a table-- which is important for young eaters who are low on patience."
Where to Shop:
1. Best Place for Jeans: The Denim Lounge, 940 N. Rush Street
Cynthia says: "They carry all the popular brands as well as fun T-shirts."
2. Best Place for Sunglasses: Active Endeavors, 935 West Armitage Avenue
Cynthia says: "They have a great selection and carry a lot of trendy, hard-to-find styles."
3. Best Place for CD's and DVD's: Virgin Megastore, 540 North Michigan Avenue
Cynthia says: "They have their own deejay and listening stations-- not to mention three floors of the hottest music, latest movies and even those rare titles you can never find."
4. Best Place for Jewelry and Handbags: Francesca's Collections, 2012 North Halsted Street and 1154 Lill Studio, 904 W. Armitage Avenue
Cynthia says: "Francesca's has a wall-to-wall jewelry collection of fun and sophisticated styles. If you can't find it there, it's not going to happen. At 1154 Lill Studio, you can design your own handbag which is something different and a fun activity for teens and their moms."
5. Best Place for Cosmetics: Sephora, Water Tower Place/Shops at Northbridge
Cynthia says: "They have free samples of just about everything so that you and your girlfriends can give one another makeovers."
Where to Play:
1. Best Scenic Beach Spot: Oak Street Beach
Cynthia says: "Right behind you is Chicago's awesome skyline."
2. Best Recreational Beach Spot: North Avenue Beach
Cynthia says: "Here you can join in a volleyball game or rent a bike for a scenic lakefront tour."
3. Best Cultural Spot: The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue
Cynthia says: "It may not sound like kid-pleaser, but the guys love the Arms and Armor collection and the girls love The Thorne Miniature Rooms. Plus the gift shop has posters of their popular art. Teens will also enjoy the King Tut exhibit at the Field Museum and the U-505 Submarine exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry."
4. Best City Park: Millennium Park, 222 North Columbus Drive
Cynthia says: "Where else can you get soaked by interactive fountains of faces that spew water?"
5. Best Snapshot Spot: Outside the Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lakeshore Drive
Cynthia says: "It's a picture-perfect spot with a spectacular view of Chicago's skyline and Lake Michigan."
June 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In June, Bermuda is the place to be. For over 100 years, the legendary Newport Bermuda race has culminated in celebratory frolicking (and rum-guzzling aplenty) at the race's finish. The 635-nautical-mile race is a challenging course raced by sailboats of all sizes, and this year's Centennial has attracted a record number of fleet entrants. This is high season in Bermuda-- by far the best and most fun time to visit the island of pink sand beaches and renowned golf courses. Where to stay? Cambridge Beaches, of course! The romantic hideaway boasts exemplary service and world-class facilities: indoor and outdoor pools, three tennis courts, five private beaches, the world-acclaimed European wellness centre, extensive marine rentals and watersports, putting green, croquet and internationally recognized gourmet cuisine. The resort's cottages (94 guest rooms and suites) are surrounded by blue sea, fine gardens, and long stretches of sandy beaches.
June 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Stockholm's Hotel Rival is the epitome of cool. Hip, lively, colorful, and chic, the city's first boutique hotel is a modern masterpiece of design. (As to be expected of one of Sweden's finest hotels.) On a recent visit to the Hotel Rival, I decided I could camp out there for quite a while. Whether it be in the lobby (swooning over the stylish furniture), on-site bakery (stuffing my face with homemade breads and tasty pastries), the gorgeous bar (pretty-people-watching), or the on-site cinema (oohing and ahing a little bit more), I found the Hotel Rival to be the kind of friendly and exciting boutique that every city should wish for.
On the way to the hotel, flying over the islands that make up Stockholm's archipelago, my taxi driver told me that Paris Hilton much prefers the Hotel Rival to her Daddy's Hilton, right next door. No surprise there. Paris isn't the only one who adores the Hotel Rival. From Pop stars to business-folk, the hotel's clientele keep coming back for the thoughtful service, cutting-edge technology, and careful attention to detail. Of course there's also the star factor. This crib belongs to Benny Andersson, the ABBA legend. The Swedish version of Mama Mia! has recently debuted in Stockholm, much to the city's delight, and CDs (along with ABBA memorabilia) are available for purchase in the lobby.
The Hotel Rival is a major gathering place in Stockholm. The gorgeous cinema--showcasing original historical touches after its lux renovation-- is now the scene of fashion shows, parties, concerts, and film screenings. Indeed, the cinema motif is dominant in the hotel's design: the comfortable bistro features wall paneling with a mosaic of 924 film star images, and each guestroom is adorned with a scene from a vintage Swedish film, the glass-covered canvas suspended above the beds.
Ahhh the rooms. Perfectly comfortable and highly sophisticated, the guestrooms embrace a sleek modern minimalism which hasn't abandoned function over form. The DUX beds are heavenly, with luscious linens, Egyptian cotton sheets, a special pillow menu, and the signature teddy bear from Debenhams. Some rooms feature a windowed wall between the bathroom and bedroom, allowing guests to soak in the tub while gazing out into the room. Of course the guestrooms and suites are loaded with technology, from 32" plasma screen TVs, DVD/CD players (and plenty of DVD rentals), PlayStation2, and wireless internet access.
The Hotel Rival is Stockholm at its finest.