March 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Holy week in Seville takes place in the eight days between Palm Sunday and Easter (April 9-16 this year): an incredible celebration and melancholy observance at the same time. The cloaked Cofradias (Brotherhoods)-- their eyes and faces hidden by huge conical hats-- process through the city's narrow, winding streets. Some barefoot, burdened with crosses, or huge fantastic floats of the Virgin Mary or Jesus, kneeling in penitence as they circle from their church to the Cathedral of Seville and back-- passing mobs of citizen revelers and eager onlookers. The streets are absolutely packed with extended families (from infants to grandmothers) who gather to watch the processions of 57 brotherhoods carry 116 marvelous floats through the streets. To witness this religious ritual is a once-in-a-lifetime must. Where to stay in the exquisite historical city of Seville? The Hotel Alfonso XIII, of course! Built in 1929, the posh royal palace was inaugurated by the King for which it was named. A fixture on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, the hotel is the essence of opulence. (Hurry, rooms are still available! My pick are the Moorish-themed rooms, with their tasteful and elegant furnishings.)
Hotel Alfonso XIII, Official Site
Hotel Alfonso XIII, Five Star Alliance
The rumor mills are churning, and our friends at the TravelPost Insider have picked up on this tantalizing tidbit. Stop the press: Brangelina may be tying the knot this weekend on the shores of Lake Como. What's in store at the elegant and perfect Villa d'Este? The 16th century aristocratic residence could easily be the most romantic place on earth. Draped in accolades, and revered worldwide, the villa overlooks 25 acres of picturesque gardens and the heart-stopping blue vistas of Lake Como. Rooms are simply magnificent, with period furniture, sumptuous silk and satin fabrics, some with balconies and terraces.
Villa d'Este, Official Site
Villa d'Este, Five Star Alliance
The beautiful and scenic California coastline near San Luis Obispo is also Cali's fastest-growing wine region. But the cat's not yet out of the bag-- the rolling hills and undulating countryside are still peacefully quiet. No Napa traffic jams here. To explore these tranquil environs-- just about halfway between Lalaland and San Fran-- take a room at the charming Villa Toscana, a luxe bed and breakfast that boasts just eight romantic suites. Overlooking the vineyards, the rooms are opulently decorated, each named for one of the estate's award-winning wines. To really do it right, reserve the private winemaker's residence: a two-bedroom, 2.5 bath suite, with a detached two car garage, private courtyard, patio, and Jacuzzi.
March 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's hot. It's hip. Welcome to the new Strand Ocean Drive Hotel, a chic and stylish boutique hotel on Miami's South Beach. The unique hotel is comprised of four different historical structures (and one new building) with each suite featuring a unique design theme so—and get this!— you can change the style and ambience each time you visit the hotel. Whatever your whim. Thus, at 1024 Ocean Drive, you can savor the Retro style of the 1960s. Next door at 1036 Ocean Drive, you can join the martini-set in the classic Art Deco style of the 1930s. At 1052 Ocean Drive, get a taste of the contemporary, with the hip new five story structure. And at 1060 Ocean Drive, you can soak up the Mediterranean Tropical style of Miami. Now through April 7, 2006, the hotel is offering a cool giveaway. If you sign up for The Strand Ocean Drive mailing list, you are entered to win an iPod shuffle. They're giving one away each week for a month. Hop to it!
March 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Amidst the rowdy hordes of spring-break revelers, tacky t-shirt stands and shops spilling flamingo kitsch, wary sun-seekers may despair: where is the colorful, whimsical Key West of old?! But step away from the mobs on Duvall Street, the wet t-shirt contests and "clothing optional" bars and tacky sunset scene of Mallory Square-- where the shadow of an enormous Carnival Cruise ship looms-- and the palm-lined alleys and side-streets reveal the other side to Key West's Old Town: white clapboard Victorian houses framed by fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms, Gypsy roosters clucking and crowing alongside the city's famous fat lounging cats, art galleries and Cuban coffee shops, friendly and eccentric locals.
The best dining in Key West-- hands down-- is Cafe Sole, located off the beaten path on Southard and Francis Streets. Chef John Correa learned his magic in Provence and Bordeaux, and superb dishes-- like Hog Snapper smother in a red pepper hollandaise sauce-- reflect his culinary training. For the island's best brunch, head to Blue Heaven in Bahama Village, where you can devour blueberry pancakes and lobster benedict in a flowering, friendly backyard-- full of whimsy and good cheer.
Shopping? Don't despair on Duvall. A few steps away on Petronia Street, Besame Mucho is one of the world's most pleasant boutiques. The fragrant interior is full of fine jewelry, exquisite Provencal soaps, Kiehl's products, luscious gourmet candies and beautiful Moroccan shoes. Indeed, as the slogan goes: "shop here once and life will be a joy forever.”
March 10, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
From Kostas Christopoulos and Don MacCorquodale, The Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver
After finishing a five million dollar renovation of the guest rooms, The Sutton Place Hotel in Vancouver (again a recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award in 2006) has added a sweet touch to its tradition of elegance with the unique Chocoholic Bar. The Bar is the city's only all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet.
Famous with local Vancouverites, the Chocoholic Buffet provides delectable offerings including an array of home made luscious cakes, pastries and pies, exquisite sorbets and ice creams, topped only by the Bar's own renowned Brittany crepes, a house specialty made right before your eyes. Join The Sutton Place Hotel's Master Chocolatier and Pastry Chef Wolfgang Dauke for an evening of sinful delights.
This chocolate-lover's dream come true, the Chocoholic Bar, is offered in two seatings, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 10:00 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Fleuri Restaurant, located on the lobby level.The buffet is $23.00 per person and is also available for banquet or catering functions outside the hotel.
Is it possible to overdose on chocolate?
The Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver, Official Site
The Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver, Five Star Alliance
From Paul Reynolds, The Maybourne Hotel Group
Madonna "Adores the Blue Bar" at The Berkeley. Claridge's main restaurant is run by (and named for) celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. You can find out why so many people want to associate themselves with the London hotels of the Maybourne Group this March and April with 4 special deals. 'Suite Dreams' deals start at 299 pounds for a Deluxe Junior Suite at The Connaught, 339 pounds for a Superior Junior Suite at The Berekley and 359 pounds for a Deluxe Junior Suite at Claridge's. The 'April Special' allows you to 'sample five star luxury at an affordable price'. 'Work from 'Home' without the inconveniences' during March and April with a special rate for single occupancy of Queen-bedded rooms at The Connaught. Lastly, check out the specials being offered during Easter week with reduced rates at The Berkeley, Claridge's, and The Connaught.
Maybourne Hotel Group, Official Site
Claridge's, Five Star Alliance
The Connaught, Five Star Alliance
The Berkeley, Five Star Alliance
From Doug Camp, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Hay-Adams
The DC Cherry Blossom Festival happens each year from March 25th through April 9th (although the Yoshino cherry blossom trees will stay in bloom a little longer than that). This year's parade on Saturday, April 8th will be hosted by Pat Sajak. Other performers include Anthony Fedorov (American Idol Season 4) and Grammy-nominated artist Martha Wash.
Doug Camp from The Hay-Adams, a luxurious Washington, DC Boutique hotel, pointed out that they are offering their Cherry Blossom Package again this year. The package includes complimentary parking, but walking from The Hay-Adams to the blossoms around the Tidal Basin a) is a great walk which includes the White House, Washington Memorial, World War II Memorial and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, b) shouldn't take more than 20 minutes.
UPDATE 2 (March 29): The National Park Service's chief horticulturist Rob DeFeo now says Thursday, March 30th will be the peak bloom date for the Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms.
UPDATE: According to the National Park Service Chief Horticulturist, Rob DeFeo, the predicted peak blooming period for the 2006 Cherry Blossoms is March 27th through April 1st.
There is nothing more beautiful than the Cherry Blossoms in bloom around the Tidal Basin. Experience the beauty firsthand while enjoying luxurious accommodations at The Hay-Adams. This package is based on a two night minimum stay. Cherry Blossom Festival information, a special amenity, and complimentary parking are included. Packages start at $309.00 from March 24 – April 9, 2006.
Call the Hotel to reserve 800.853.6807
The Hay-Adams, Official Site
The Hay-Adams, Five Star Alliance
March 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Winner of Outside Magazine's 2006 Trip of the Year, this heli-skiing experience is simply sublime: the only operation in the world that departs from a luxurious megayacht, Absinthe. The world-famous terrain of the West Coast Mountain Range of BC is celebrated for its incredible powder and enormous glaciers, and accessible from Absinthe within just a few minutes by helicopter. After an adrenaline-pumping day, return to the yacht to enjoy the luxurious amenities of a five-star hotel, while surrounded by beautiful views of the fjords and coastal wildlife. Trips depart March and April. Maximum of 11 skiers. Via Outside March 06 issue
March 3, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Alex Rose
A timeless and elegant tradition for gentlemen is returning. Grooming with master barbers in the style of earlier American and English traditions are returning with a modernized and upscale version of “barbershop spas.”
Next time you're in Las Vegas, make time to visit The Art of Shaving (at Mandalay Place) or Truefitt and Hill (at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace) and try something that will make you look and feel great before heading out for a night on the town and some evening adventures.
What's the difference between a traditional straight-edge shave and an off-the-shelf multi-cartridge shave? The straight-edge is used to cut with and against the grain which results in a much closer shave, and leaves your face absolutely smooth all over. In addition to the usual shave and a hair cut, men have the option of being pampered and rejuvenated with techniques found in upscale spas such as hot and cold aromatherapy towels, facial masks, luxuriant shaving creams, balms, and oils-- along with various hair care and skincare products, fragrances, shoe shines, and manicures.
You're in good company, following the likes of royalty, industry execs, and celebs like Frank Sinatra who have opted for traditional shaves.
By: Guest Writer