LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
October 5, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's a new architectural landmark in New York City's Midtown and it's getting lots of press love. A luxury condo hotel with a prime location near Fifth and Madison Avenue shopping and the bright lights of Broadway's theatre district, the Cassa Hotel and Residences has 165 refined guest rooms. Here's what The New York Times has to say about this new breed of condo hotels: "Room service on demand from a celebrity chef. A maid to make the bed with fresh linens every day and leave a chocolate on your pillow at night... All yours with the purchase of a luxury condo." But even if you're not in the market for a Manhattan condo, you're guaranteed to appreciate the service and amenities at this sophisticated hotel. Here's the skinny from The Globe and Mail:
Lower Manhattan's hotel boom is trickling up to Midtown with the opening of Cassa Hotel and Residences. Unlike blander hotels in the Times Square neighbourhood, Cassa has a whiff of European minimalism with exclusive guest amenities such as an in-room Dean and Deluca snack bar, the Cassa Care babysitting program and daily fresh flower delivery upon request. Art and architecture buffs will appreciate the polished, black volcanic walls in the lobby and the Rizzoli and Taschen design books in the rooms... Introductory rates start from $287 a night.
Take advantage of the Sneak Peek Special Offer, available until December 30, 2010, and get savings depending on the length of stay. Stay 2 Nights, Save 10%; Stay 3 Nights, Save 15%; Stay 4+ Nights, Save 20%. (2-night minimum stay and 1-night non-refundable deposit required. Rates are based on double occupancy and subject to room availability; blackout dates may apply.)
September 30, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Autumn could be the best time to visit the Eternal City, when the summer crowds have dispersed and Rome is yours for the taking. Immerse yourself in the fall colors (not to mention fashion!) and experience a stay at the Hassler Roma, the legendary hotel perched atop the Spanish Steps in the heart of the historic city center. The hotel of choice for visiting stars, The Hassler is just minutes away from Rome's top shopping venues and important landmarks (like the Pantheon and Coliseum). The "Autumn in Rome" package is the ultimate pampering experience. Here's what's included: • 3 nights in a room of your choice • Daily buffet breakfast at the elegant Salone Eva • 2 massages at the Amorvero SPA (1 per person, per stay) • Relaxing tea at the Amorvero SPA after the massage • Light lunch for 2 in the Salone Eva (starter, first course & home-made dessert, drinks excl.) Validity dates: November 1 – December 22, 2010. Limited availability! “Autumn in Rome ” package rates are euro 1,350 for a Deluxe Double / twin room and euro 1,530 for a Grand Deluxe Double / twin room. Rates are for a 3-night stay, per room. Cancellation deadline is 4 days prior to arrival in order to not incur a 50% penalty charge.
September 29, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The New York Times recently fixed its gaze on the Windy City in "36 Hours in Chicago" after Mayor Richard M. Daley's recent announcement that he'll be stepping down after 21 years in office. From architectural wonders to the hottest restaurants in Chicago (like Girl & the Goat, "a much-blogged-about new restaurant where the "Top Chef" winner Stephanie Izard takes livestock parts seriously"), the article has some good picks. Where to bed down while in town? The Elysian, of course, which landed a place on Conde Nast Traveler's annual Hot List 2010. Here's the skinny from The NYT:
Opened last year, the Elysian (11 East Walton Street; 312-646-1300; elysianhotels.com) is a cushy 188-room hotel where the beds aren’t made — they’re “draped” in 460-thread-count Rivolta Carmignani linens. From the outside, the building, not far from the Magnificent Mile, resembles a chateau. Rooms start at about $430.
August 25, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The JIA Hong Kong-- the trendy Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel-- is celebrating its first anniversary with a lucky draw. Stay at the JIA Hong Kong between September 1 and November 30 for a chance to win exceptional prizes plus a one-night stay in a suite. The JIA prides itself on the true "insider's experience" of Hong Kong that it offers each guest. When you stay at the hotel, you get the insider access card as one of the hotel's signature extras, which gives entry to the hottest private members clubs in town, plus privileges at cool restaurants, bars, stores and spas. Thus the prizes for the draw are offered by JIA Insider Access Partners: a Bothos vegetan buffalo leather trolley suitcase worth HK$8,800, and a bespoke man's suite from Moustache worth HK$8,500.
Details on the First Anniversary Lucky Draw: Each night of your stay will be entered in the draw. Complimentary room prize is valid from December 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 (not valid on New Year's Eve or Rugby Sevens 2011).
August 10, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In Shanghai for the World Expo 2010? (Hopefully you booked the EXPO-rience package at the Art Deco-inspired Peninsula Hotel, the new property on the Bund that offers breathtaking views over the city.) Shopaholics won't want to miss the exclusive shopping opportunities at the Peninsula Arcade, boasting a slew of luxury boutiques-- from Giorgio Armani and Prada to Chopard and Piaget. Billed as the most exclusive shopping destination in Shanghai, the two-storey arcade even has a Peninsula Boutique along with 24 leading luxury brands.
August 2, 2010
By: Ruthanne Terrero
You’ll be BFFs forever after a day at one of these sizzling spas.
We say the spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami is worth a visit for the VIP suites alone; there are six of them, all with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Biscayne Bay. (Tip: If you book a treatment toward evening, you’ll witness some splendid sunsets over the water.)
The signature treatment is the Oriental Essence massage, which includes a consultation with the therapist and a full-body customized treatment. An interesting half-day program, drawing on Miami’s heritage, is the Latin Rhythms spa package, which includes a private Samba class followed by an exfoliation of lime, mint and sugar, and a hot stone massage. A Spa Mojito cocktail and a Latin-Asian bento box lunch are then served poolside. Detox-Retox, we’re all over that!
Spa Director Osa Mallo suggests reserving treatments a week in advance for weekends and holidays, though last-minute requests are usually accommodated. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 305-913-8331 for insider tips.
Considering a bridal shower or other special event for you and your BFFs? Consult Spa Sales Manager Stephanie Menendez (email@example.com; 305-913-3806), who is an expert at setting up suite and spa buyouts for bachelorette parties and other smaller groups. Note: If your client is traveling with children, there are yoga programs for those aged 5-11 and teen treatments that include manicures, pedicures and facials, as well as belly dancing and salsa classes.
Staying at the hotel? If you want your room to have an inviting and peaceful spa vibe, opt for the one-bedroom Mandarin Suite, which has a living room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen and a large private balcony accessible from every room. There’s also a spa serenity room with fabulous views of Biscayne Bay. If that’s taken, insiders tell us the Deluxe Veranda guest rooms are the hotel’s best-kept secret. They’re a step up from Deluxe Bay View rooms and have oversized terraces with views of the bay and the Miami skyline—perfect for entertaining the girls. Note: All rooms at the hotel have private balconies; the most popular are the Biscayne suites with stunning views of the bay and the bridge.
Chief Concierge Guillerme DeMelo (firstname.lastname@example.org; 305-913-3794) can procure a Vespa scooter for your Girlfriend Group to tool around Miami; he’s also known to have arranged for a private jet to fly a guest and his date to Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys for a romantic dinner. His most famous feat, however, was shipping 100 palm trees to a guest’s home in the Middle East.
After our stay, we say that the cozy Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove is a gem of a boutique hotel. It’s a best bet for women traveling solo as the service is attentive and it’s close to one of Miami’s most interesting dining and shopping districts. We’re talking walking distance.
The spa may be petite (just 6,000 square feet) but houses separate men’s and women’s lounges, saunas and steam rooms and six treatment rooms.
If you go, try the time-saving Tandem Treatment, which, for 50 minutes, employs two therapists who work together to serve up a signature facial and pedicure that includes a foot and leg massage, as well as a shoulder, neck, arm and scalp massage. Be sure to request appointments at least six hours prior to each service.
Spa Director Laura Kain (email@example.com; 305-644-4684) can recommend the top therapist, including Danilo Toledo, who is most requested for the Signature or Hot Stone Massage.
The size of the spa makes it ideal for buyouts for a wedding party or other group event. Know a bride considering a wedding in South Florida? Contact Jeysa Plana (firstname.lastname@example.org; 786-470-1202), who can detail the nuptial venues on site.
After the pampering, you and your BFFs will want to retire to the top digs in the house, The Ritz-Carlton Suite (a.k.a. the Presidential Suite). It has two bedrooms, private balconies, a living and dining room, an office, private butler service and great views of Biscayne Bay and Coconut Grove.
We found our Executive Suite to be a fine place to crash for several days (request No. 529, 629, 729 or 829 for the top vistas), courtesy of its large living and dining area. Note: The hotel was modeled after the nearby Villa Vizcaya (the posh former estate of magnate John Deering), so rooms and public spaces have an elegant and regal ambiance. If clients must book a standard guest room, they’ll take heart in knowing that a private balcony awaits.
Note: If you’re sailing in or out of the Miami cruise port, a 15-minute drive away, the hotel has a Sail Away package that covers accommodations, breakfast for two and transportation to or from the port.
Those arriving via private chopper or jet can land at Kendall-Tamiami Executive General Airport; contact Airport Manager Michael J. Handrahan (email@example.com) for details. Another option is Opa-Locka Executive Airport; contact Chris McArthur (CMcArthur@miami-airport.com).
By: Ruthanne Terrero
July 29, 2010
By: Guest Writer
Shopping, bungalows and foody delights: We bring you the latest intel from this posh Hollywood playground.
By Meagan Drillinger and Ruthanne Terrero
Who doesn't want a little taste of SoCal luxury? Beverly Hills, is giving travelers the opportunity to sample its culinary scene. The "Taste of Beverly Hills," presented by Food & Wine, is being held September 2 (or 9.02.10...get it?) through September 5 next to the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The event will call together the region's celebrated chefs and restaurateurs. Think Wolfgang Puck, Ted Allen, Scott Conant and more. A select group of chefs have been handpicked to showcase their skills and talents in a 120,000-square-foot epicurean paradise. The whole event kicks off with a special "9.02.10 City of Beverly Hill Celebration," which will include a picnic under the stars with guests such as Larry King and live musical performances. Festival highlights include lessons on concocting cocktails, featuring the city's top mixologists and DJs, insider secrets from chefs and master sommeliers, and a special brunch that even includes a pie-eating contest. We say, bring it on!
Hotel Choices: We know; hanging out at The Beverly Hills Hotel (pool shown above) is one of your favorite pastimes, but we say that sport will get a bit more exciting when the big Pink Palace hotel opens its two new Presidential Bungalows next January.
The hotel has given up its tennis courts to create space for the two private residences, which will both be more than 5,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space. Each will have three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. They’ll also boast a chef’s kitchen (with a wine cooler and private entrance for staff), a great room and study, plus a dining area. Bang and Olufsen high-definition TV’s are promised for virtually every room.
The outdoors will have a private pool with underwater speakers, a garden shower, a fitness area and a fireplace. We say that’s a pretty swell way to soak up that glorious year-round California sun. The architectural style all around will be Mediterranean (as in vaulted ceilings, tile roofs and pretty little gardens), to match the hotel.
If you’re a privacy freak (and we know you are), this is the place to hide away. With full inward-facing courtyards, an abundance of tall tropical landscaping, and full security cameras and an alarm system, we say these butler-serviced bungalows will make you feel safe as could be.
If you go, ask Concierge Abbas Golestani (310-276-2251, ext. 7788) to arrange for you to attend any of the L.A. award shows, including the Emmy’s, Grammy’s and the Golden Globes. He can also arrange for front row seats at major movie premieres and for a “VIP Behind the Scenes Tour” of Universal Studios.
Want another option? Montage Beverly Hills, a Forbes Five Star-rated resort is just steps from Rodeo Drive and is offering a nifty “Overnight Spa Escape.” For $775 a night, a guest receives two 60-minute spa treatments of their choice at Spa Montage and daily continental breakfast for two. Not staying at the resort? You can still pamper yourself silly with “A Day of Indulgence,” which includes a 60-minute massage or facial, a personalized fitness class in a private movement studio and access to the rooftop pool and a poolside lunch at The Conservatory Grill.
Shopping News: Once you’ve enjoyed the spa, you can, of course, head over to Rodeo Drive, where the fashionistas go to worship. We hear Badgley Mischka is soon to set up shop at this Mecca of haute couture. The new two-level, 2,700-square-foot flagship on Rodeo Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills will reflect Badgley Mischka's aesthetic of modern and historic elements. Think chandeliers juxtaposed against reclaimed wood floors.
Brides-to-be meander upstairs to peer at the bridal collection, while the first floor will include the Mark & James contemporary collection, handbags, eyewear, footwear, jewelry, etc. The store is slated to open some time after August when Badgley Mischka's Shanghai store opens at Hong Kong Plaza. For more information visit www.badgleymischka.com.
By: Guest Writer
July 27, 2010
By: Guest Writer
We serve up insider information on the City of Light...
By Jena Tesse Fox and Mary Winston Nicklin
If you’ve been to the Hotel San Régis, you’ll be surprised upon your return. The popular Parisian hotel, located between the Champs-Elysées and Avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement,
We love the fresh new fabrics and swell headboards and armchairs
Travel agents voted this hotel tops in the Small Luxury Hotels chain last year, so we say how can it be bad? If you haven’t been, it’s housed in a 19th-century private mansion.
Insider Secret: Jean-François Chauvin, the "Clefs d'Or" Concierge, is known for handling all manner of requests: limousine transfers, river cruises on private boat, reservations to the hottest restaurants in town, tickets for museum exhibitions or the theater, personal shoppers to discover the city’s secret boutiques.
Did you know that Uniqlo has opened its store on rue Scribe in the Opéra district? Needless to say, the Paris press has been buzzing about this global phenomenon, explaining that "it's impossible to leave the store with your hands in your pockets." Chances are, you'll leave with shirts, jeans, leggings, maybe even a puffy jacket. Indeed, a recent article in Hemispheres Magazine describes how "irresistably low prices and an uncanny sense for how the world wants to dress have made Uniqlo's owner the richest man in Japan." At 2,150 square meters, the Parisian flagship store is the third largest for Uniqlo worldwide-- after the New York and London locations. What's the brand's appeal? Perhaps it's the range of colors as plentiful as the Pantone shades, muses A Nous Paris: 35 different options for cashmere sweaters, 60 tints of colorful socks, from cerulean blue to mimosa... And now available: Jil Sander's +J Line at Uniqlo.
Upon arrival, the Ritz Health Club specialists will give each guest a personalized fitness check-up, and then help them select treatments, massages and body conditioning sessions fitted to their exclusive needs.
As a real therapy program combines healthy eating, the Ritz Paris suggests detoxifying menus especially made by a nutritionist and Chef Michel Roth. Guests can enjoy well-balanced dishes adapted to their fitness activities in the swanky settings of the Pool Bar and the Bar Vendôme. Delicious touch: Every day at tea time, a snack of fruits and green tea is served by the pool.
The Luxury Detox program by Ritz Paris includes:
• Accommodation in a Superior room during four nights
• Healthy menus made by a nutritionist and Chef Michel Roth
• Personalized fitness check-up with Ritz Health Club trainers
• A program including Pilates, aqua gym, stretching and Cellu M6 sessions
• Slimming Detox treatments, draining massages at the Spa
The Detox program as from $7,685 for two people including full board, and is valid until December 20.
Can’t get a reservation at The Ritz? Hôtel Le Bristol Paris is has its own "Well-Being & Beauty" program. offering guests a full-body personalized health program.
This is the real deal, it begins with a workout plan, tailored to your specific needs by Le Bristol's personal trainer, Bruno Fuscien-Trasan, and ends with a visit to the Anne Sémonin Spa for a skin diagnosis and customized facial.
This package is available for $368 and must be booked 10 days in advance. Offer Dates: May 06, 2010 - May 06, 2011
When touring the opulent Chateau de Versailles, 12 miles outside of Paris, you may feel the urge to check into your very own castle (we get that way, too). A royal guest experience is to be had at the Trianon Palace Versailles, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Just a stone’s throw from Louis XIV's world famous chateau, this luxury hotel is nestled in gardens recently enhanced by acclaimed landscape designer Louis Benech. The palace hotel is home to a heated indoor pool, Guerlain Spa, and a restaurant by Gordon Ramsay. (It’s only fitting that the gastronomically gifted Trianon Palace was the setting for the finale of Top Chef, a smash hit after its first season on the French tube.)
News: The Trianon Palace is feting 100 years in 2010 with a special Anniversary Dinner inspired by an original menu from 1910. Available at Gordon Ramsay au Trianon for €160 per person, the feast features the following dishes: canapés and champagne, chicken velouté à la royale, foie gras in aspic, ham knuckle in jelly, filet of sole Casanova, and lamb à la Bordelaise. The best part of all is the 100th anniversary dessert, "Dôme rouge infidèle façon chocolat." This decadent dessert is also available to all guests celebrating a birthday at the hotel, and to those who indulge in the Anniversary Afternoon Tea.
The party doesn’t stop there. The hotel’s Sports Club Bar is also in the birthday spirit. “100 Minutes of Happy Hour” takes place every weeknight from 6:30 pm- 8:10 pm, and features drink specials and complimentary tapas specially prepared by the chefs.
In addition, the luxury hotel is offering a special package in honor of its 100th anniversary which can be booked through December 31, 2010. The “Anniversary Package” can be tailored to fit individual preferences, as guests can choose two lavish amenities for an additional €100 per room. The list of amenities includes Afternoon Tea and Cocktails, Guerlain Harmony Foot Bath & Reflexology, Special Children's Welcome, Romantic Experience (champagne, chocolate, and the purchase of a star in the galaxy), The Queen's Treasures (“capture the decadence of Marie-Antoinette with a red rose, delectable macarons, and an exclusive bottle of perfume”), and Secrets of Louis XIV (“live like a king with a bottle of red Cuvée Royale Prestige, a box of macarons, and a copy of the book Women in the Life of Louis XIV.”)
By: Guest Writer
July 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Want to take a Roman holiday? Explore the romantic canals of Venice? Immerse yourself in Renaissance art in Florence? Snag some fashionable threads in Milan? Eat and drink your way across the Italian boot? Have it all with a unique offer from Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Create your own personalized Italian itinerary, staying a minimum of seven nights in any combination of participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and you'll get a guaranteed US dollar rate and buffet breakfast included. For example: Shack up in style at the Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice-- luxuriating in an opulent guest room detailed with Murano Glass chandeliers and original gold-trimmed ceilings-- for $360 per night (included: complimentary rollaway bed for 1 child aged 12 or under). For the "Welcome to Italy" package, participating hotels include the Hotel Gritti Palace, Hotel Danieli, and The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice; the Westin Palace in Milan; the St Regis Grand Hotel, The Westin Excelsior Rome, and the Hotel Eden in Rome; and the Westin Excelsior Florence and the Grand Hotel in Florence.
June 30, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now fashionistas can "get in bed with Marc Jacobs" with a special package offered by the Elysian Hotel, the luxurious new hotel in Chicago that landed a spot on Conde Nast Traveler's "Hot List" just after opening. Back in February, the Marc Jacobs Collection store launched in the hotel's street-level retail space causing quite the stir in Chitown (and nationally!) The "Bed, Breakfast, and Marc Jacobs" package, available through Labor Day, includes accommodations in an Elysian guestroom or suite, complimentary breakfast in bed, a Marc Jacobs beach tote, and a limited edition Marc Jacobs towel. Rates start at $415. As BagBunch puts it, "These Marc Jacobs accessories are just the thing for looking the part when sunning yourself near the Elysian pool."