September 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The quiet island of Vieques, located eight miles off Puerto Rico's east coast, could be the best-kept secret in the Caribbean. Dreamy, secluded and breathtakingly beautiful, the island's 55 square miles are pristine and untouristed. The island's swankiest hotel, the Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, will close at the end of September to morph into the Caribbean's first W Hotel, slated to open next year. For the next month, the hotel is offering exceedingly attractive rates starting at $149 a night (that's a 30 percent discount). Set on two gorgeous Atlantic-facing beaches, the hotel features sumptuous accommodations, excellent dining, world-class spa, recreational facilities galore, and a large two-level pool surrounded by a lovely coral-stone sundeck.
Easily one of the hottest new hotels in the world, The Standard shook things up in Miami when it opened in late 2005, created by hotelier Andre Balazs as a hydrotherapy playground with communal spa activities. The hotel represents the advanced spa-hotel concept at its finest, with its incredible and innovative spa. (Mud lounge, anyone?) Located on quiet Belle Island, a calm refuge from South Beach, The Standard, Miami is as creative with the names of its room types-- Missionary, Lush, Dry, Wet, and the Full Spread—as it is with the spa features and amenities. Guest rooms are designed in the simple Scandinavian tradition, with plush features including Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy pillows, day beds, private outdoor living rooms, mood lighting, spa showers, outdoor soaking tubs, mini bars stuffed with yummy organic stuff, Kiss My Face amenities, high speed internet, flat screen TVs, DVD library and CD players.
Now couldn't be a better time to check out this higher Standard, with a hot Autumn deal from the hotel. The Holistic Hideaway is a two-night escape for just $395, which includes Accommodations, Limitless use of indoor and outdoor baths, Turkish hammam, sauna, aroma steam room, sound pool, Roman waterfall, hot tub, arctic plunge and gymnasium, Your choice of either one in-room "Standard" massage or two "quickie" massages, An invigorating "Just Pure" herbal bath, Complimentary access to the mud lounge, Two Yoga classes in The Standard's Movement and Meditation Center, Spa breakfasts for two every morning, and a two-course wholesome dinner for two at The Lido Restaurant. Wow.
Via Daily Candy (The package is just $350 for Daily Candy readers)
The leaf-peeping season is just around the corner, and luxurious New England Inns await your stay. Forbes has defined "a new breed of very high-class New England inns, converted country houses and B&Bs"-- inns that showcase the best of top-tier hospitality and ultra-luxurious amenities. Forbes' annual list of Great New England Inns includes the likes of the dazzling, new Mayflower Inn, home to the "best spa in North America," just a few hours from NYC.
At midnight today, Steve Wynn opened his new hotel and gaming complex in the former-Portuguese colony of Macau, an island known as much for its casinos as for its rich cultural tradition. (Macau is also the biggest gambling city in the world now, surpassing Las Vegas when its casinos raked in $6.8 billion last year.) The $1.2 billion casino resort was showered with an impressive fireworks display. Wynn is taking a gamble with this ultra-luxurious property, as Macau's focus has been exclusively on gambling, and most visitors day-trip from Hong Kong (just a short jet boat ride away) rather than check into hotels. As explained by Reuters:
The Wynn Macau will be closely watched as an indicator of the viability of a planned $24 billion "neon alley" of hotels, conference centres, theatres, shopping centres and casinos being built on reclaimed land. The "Cotai Strip", where Wynn Resorts has a 50-acre plot and its rival, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is building a complex and luring several five-star hotel operators, aims to persuade people from gambling-mad China to stay a couple of days.
With 600 sleek, sophisticated guestrooms, Wynn Macau also boasts six gourmet restaurants, Las Vegas-style entertainment, plenty of meeting space, a health club, pool and luxurious spa. Let the good times roll.
Come March 1, 2009, Tokyo will see a brand new Shangri-La in a prime city location, set to dazzle with dramatic views, the CHI spa, and signature Shangri-La service. Located in the Marunouchi district, beside the Tokyo Station (that's the only station, folks, with railway connections to all points in Japan), the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo will be housed in the top 11 floors of the 37-storey Marunouchi Trust Tower Main Building. In addition to the CHI spa, discerning travelers will enjoy spacious guest rooms (the Presidential Suite occupies the entire top floor), excellent meeting and banquet space, and exquisite dining experiences, including a glass-ceiling restaurant. Upon their arrival by dedicated ground elevators at the 28th floor lobby, guests will be wowed by sweeping views of the Marunouchi area, as well as Tokyo Bay to the East, through the eight-meter high, floor-to-ceiling windows.
The German-born executive chef of The Lodge at Sea Island will be teaching a delicious array of authentic German specialties, including sauerbraten (a savory, marinated German pot roast), spätzle (handmade German noodles), and schnitzel (crispy pan-fried veal cutlets with aromatic herbs). The next session of the Sea Island Cooking School takes place on September 18 and 19, 2006, starting with the Friday evening private reception and dinner with Chef Johannes Klapdohr in The Lodge Wine Cellar. Also includes Saturday morning cooking school with lunch prepared by the participants, Sunday brunch, and your very own monogrammed chef's jacket. The "Cook Together" package starts at $850 per night, with a two night minimum stay. (If you miss the cooking school, there's always the annual Oktoberfest celebration at Sea Island on October 10, 2006.)
"Add some sizzle with schnitzel," Chef Johannes Klapdohr says. And here's a teaser for your next Fall tailgating picnic, for Southern German Potato Salad:
2 lb. Potatoes
1 lg. Onion, finely diced
2 c. Chicken stock
6 tbsp. Vinegar (mild vinegar like apple, with 5 percent acidity)
1 tbsp. Mustard
1 tsp. Salt
4 tbsp. Oil
1 tbsp. Parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Chives, finely cut
Pepper and Nutmeg to taste
Boil the potatoes in their jackets and peel while still hot.
Sweat onions with one tablespoon of oil and deglaze with chicken stock. Set aside.
Slice potatoes thinly in large bowl.
Season potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Add mustard, vinegar, parsley and chives.
Pour chicken stock over potatoes and add oil.
Mix carefully and let rest for 1 hr.
September 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In the very heart of the French Quarter, Hotel Monteleone is a historic gem, with a long history of exemplary Southern hospitality and a vibrant contemporary flair. Family owned and operated for over a hundred years, the newly-renovated hotel has earned a reputation for excellence in its extraordinary accommodations, world class cuisine, rooftop pool, fitness center, Carousel bar with live pianist, and private spa, Aria. Visit New Orleans before September 30, 2006 and take advantage of the hotel's "Suite Summer Deal." Book a suite for two nights, and the third night is free, with rates starting at $265 per suite, per night.
August 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Escape to the private Hawaiian island of Lana'i at the new Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, a gracious retreat situated in the island's dramatic central highlands amidst manicured gardens and Hawaii's incredible natural beauty. After an extensive renovation, the resort will reopen on November 15, 2006. Guests enjoy activities such as horseback riding, hiking and world-class golf on two courses, including the new Greg Norman-designed championship course overlooking mountains, lush greens, and cascading waterfalls in awe-inspiring landscapes. Watersports, and a full service spa, are available at the companion resort, Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay, so pampered guests on Lana'i can experience the best of both worlds: highlands and ocean. Savor peaceful tranquility at the pool, surrounded by rolling hills and landscaped gardens, where Four Seasons poolside services include ice water, Evian spritzes, and chilled towels offered by pool attendants. The 901 square foot fitness center is state-of-the-art, with weight room, spa treatment room, and men's and women's lockers. Now taking ressies.
August 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The beautiful Basque city of San Sebastien—situated on two sweeping beaches bathed by Atlantic surf—is a glorious combination of natural landscapes and urban treasures. Green mountaintops (one crowned by an enormous statue of Jesus, reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro) look down upon an awesome crescent of boat-dotted harbors and grand boulevards with tall art nouveau architecture. The Parte Vieja, its narrow alleys lined by packed tapas bars and beautiful boutiques – promises the liveliest and most entertaining nightlife in Basque Country (and possibly, in all of Spain.) Where to stay? The Hotel Maria Cristina—part of Westin's Luxury Collection—is a five star masterpiece overlooking the Urma River just minutes from the beach. Guest rooms boast ocean views from balconies, fine furnishings, marble, and all the modern amenities you'd expect in a world-class luxury hotel. After all, the Maria Cristina is a prominent fixture on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and Reader's Choice Awards. The spa is superb.
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/