July 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Labor Day weekend is a mouth-watering affair at the legendary Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. Phoenix Cooks! is Arizona's premier culinary event, developed by Clear Channel Radio, The Biltmore, and Food and Life Magazine to showcase the Valley's top chefs and their talents. Foodies indulge in a weekend of culinary adventures at the Biltmore, including the Parade of Chefs reception on Friday, September 1 (eight local celebrity chefs do their thing and cook up signature dishes, paired with fine wines), Saturday's Gourmet Food and Kitchen Show (interactive cooking demonstrations and food forums with top chefs, wine tastings, gourmet kitchen displays by Dacor and Viking, a beer garden, and a chef's marketplace), the Wine Maker Dinner (a five-course extravaganza with specialties from five different chefs), and the Chef's Champagne Brunch (simply divine). Individual tickets may be purchased for the events, though the Arizona Biltmore has designed an exceptional VIP package specifically for the event.
The Phoenix Cooks! package includes two nights luxurious accommodations, a VIP chef's amenity, and admission to the Parade of Chef's Reception, the Gourmet Food and Kitchen Show, the Wine Maker Dinner and the Chef's Champagne Brunch. Package price is $399, which is a real deal, considering individual ticket prices range from $55 per person (Champagne Brunch) to $95 per person (the Parade of Chefs).
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.
In October, the prestigious Rocco Forte Hotels—considered Europe's leading luxury hotel brand—will open a new five-star hotel in the heart of Berlin. Located in Bebelplatz, in the Mitte area of Berlin close to the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel de Rome will be housed in a historic building originally constructed in 1889. Formerly a large and distinguished bank building, the new Hotel de Rome will retain much of the architectural substance of the building. Indeed, the hotel will showcase these historic touches: the rooms leading to the banqueting hall are the former cashier's rooms of the bank; the ancient bank vault has been converted into a 15-meter swimming pool, and the grand offices of the former board members of Dresdner Bank have been transformed into suites.
The hotel will have 146 large bedrooms including 103 classic rooms, 32 junior suites, 10 one-bedroom suites and a presidential suite, measuring 120 square meters and boasting a full-length terrace overlooking Bebelplatz. The rooms will be a combination of classical design and contemporary "Berlin style" glass and steel, with all the latest cutting-edge technology, including Broadband Internet and interactive flat-screen television. Bathrooms feature mosaic marble detailing above double-ended baths, and separate walk-in showers. Other facilities include six conference rooms and banquet hall, restaurant, bar, health and fitness center with swimming pool, and Spa with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and plunge pool.
This is English country living at its finest. Set in the quaint village of Evershot in the heart of the Dorset Downs, Summer Lodge is a luxurious English Country House retreat. Named by Harpers and Queen as one of the Best 100 Places in the World, Summer Lodge arranges for its guests a host of country pursuits—horseback riding, fishing, golfing, shooting—though many of the distinguished clientele prefer simply to enjoy the relaxation and serenity of the hotel's exquisite grounds. Relax in the Spa or by the beautiful swimming pool (housed in a glass conservatory), play croquet on the lawn or a game of tennis, work-out at the gym with your own personal trainer, take traditional tea in the afternoon, and sample the gastronomic delights at the award-winning restaurant. Accommodations are exceptional; the 20 guestrooms and four suites are individually decorated and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including large plasma screen TV and DVD, satellite TV and Internet access. Choose the master bedroom for a truly unforgettable stay. Room One was originally designed for famed writer Thomas Hardy and boasts a magnificent open fireplace and four poster bed overlooking the beautifully manicured English country gardens. Though you can't go wrong with the Ivy Cottage and its private hot tub in the courtyard garden.
With some superb packages now on offer at the Summer Lodge, why wait to reserve a well-deserved vacation? 3 nights for the price of 2 is available until December 31, 2006, and includes full English breakfast, morning newspaper, evening turndown, complimentary use of the Health Club, and 20 percent off treatments in the Spa. The Pampering Package is available until December 31, 2006, and includes: two nights accommodations (Superior Room), full English breakfast daily, Matis Total Youth Facial, Back, Neck and Shoulder massage.
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"
In an incomparable setting on Baja's turquoise Sea of Cortes, Esperanza is a chic and alluring paradise created by Auberge Resorts. The sandstone villas are impossibly romantic: carved into the bluffs overlooking the sea, where the humpback whales migrate just offshore. The infinity pool seems to spill into the private cove beneath, with stunning views of the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. At the terraced Restaurant, enjoy a star-studded menu of local fish, like almond seared rare yellowfin tuna with warm avocado pie or grilled dorado steak with ricotta crepes and dark pasilla-huitlacoche mole. Or toss back a Piña Dorada at El Bar, watching the sun dip below the Pacific's horizon. The resort's 56 guest rooms and suites have oversized tubs, large outdoor terraces and handcrafted furniture. Unique spa treatments--like grated coconut and lime body exfoliation-- feature natural, indigenous ingredients. After a yoga or pilates class, relax in the warm soaking pool or the indoor steam cave. Other recreational activities include diving, sailing and kayaking trips.
Until September 30, guests can save up to 35 percent off with a special summer package at Esperanza: a five-night (midweek) getaway starting at $2,217 per couple. The "Baja Bliss" package includes five accommodations in an ocean-view terrace casita, two 60-minute Tropical Essence Spa treatments, complimentary yoga classes, nonalcoholic refreshments in a mini bar, complimentary DVD and CD library, and complimentary use of beach cabanas. Inclusive of taxes and service charges. The Baja Bliss package is also available for a five-night weekend package, starting from $2,697.
July 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The World Cup may be over, but the celebrations continue at Banyan Tree Phuket, where guests can take advantage of the Halftime escapade until the end of July. The promotion started at the World Cup kick-off—with half price on rooms and spa treatments (for the first five bookings of each day)-- but is available until July 31, 2006.
Stay in a luxurious villa, recuperate from the excitement of the previous night's game with a rejuvenating spa treatment, and start the next day of Halftime pampering with breakfast - all at half the price. Even if your favorite team doesn't win the World Cup, you may still be a winner. In the first week of August, Banyan Tree Phuket will conduct the Halftime Draw and treat one lucky couple to a complimentary 3-night stay in a Tibetan Suite at Banyan Tree Ringha in Shangri-La (Diqing), the highlight of China's stunning Yunnan province.
The Halftime Promotion includes: 50 percent discount on villa rates (no minimum length of stay is required), 50 percent discount on one a-la-carte massage session at Banyan Tree Spa per person per stay, 50 percent discount on daily American buffet breakfast (inclusive of champagne). Rates start at $275 for a Deluxe Villa. This package is only applicable for the first 5 bookings per day.
Voted to the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List of the World's Best Places to Stay, Banyan Tree Bangkok is located in the heart of the bustling commercial center of the city. With easy access to the shopping and entertainment access of Silom road, the all-suite Banyan Tree Bangkok is a rejuvenating sanctuary away from it all. Dining is a treat, both for the tasty gourmet meals and the superb views over the city. These fine dining establishments are the highest in the city (Vertigo Grill is on the 61st flooor!) The Spa--a heavenly oasis with the service and quality of treatments to be expected at Banyan Tree--is likewise situated high above the city: a whopping 54 floors above Bangkok. For the ultimate luxury, reserve the Presidential Suite (the preferred choice of presidents and business leaders), which consists of a two-storey glass dome with spectacular city views, and a loft style bedroom. The Spa Suites are similarly lavish, with their own private treatment rooms, and your choice of bath salts, scrubs, essential oils, and incense.
Splurge on a romantic getaway to Bangkok: immerse the senses with the incredible cultural stimuli of the city, and then retreat to your private urban oasis at the Banyan Tree where you can indulge in sumptuous spa treatments. The Romance in Bangkok Package includes: daily continental breakfast for two persons, one romantic dinner per stay at Bai Yun or Saffron restaurant, choice of one 2-hour 'Rejuvenation' or 'Renewal' spa treatment per person per stay, one 'Intimate Moments' suite decoration including one bottle of wine per stay, Banyan Tree Gallery gift, 10 percent discount at Bai Yun, Saffron and Rom Sai restaurant, and return transfer by Mercedes Benz limousine from the airport to the hotel. Starting at $305 per night. Valid until December 31, 2006. Minimum three night stay.
The award-winning Chicago hotel caters to expectant couples who seek a weekend of pampering, and a few days of revelry as a couple, before the baby's arrival. Babymoons are all the rage these days; USA Today reports that 60 percent of new parents opt for a babymoon these days. And at Four Seasons Chicago, they do it right, with the ultimate in lux accommodations and lots of fun amenities. Here's the scoop on the Expecting You Package: includes plush accommodations (with sweeping views of the city and Lake Michigan and body contour pillows to keep comfortable the mother-to-be), a copy of the book "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" with a book light for late night reading, complimentary manicure from the Spa when booking a pregnancy massage, complimentary "Toast to Fatherhood" in Seasons Bar for the dads-to-be, complimentary Midwest breakfast from Room Service or in the Cafe, complimentary visit from The Ice Cream Man, and special savings from premier shopping partners (for example, receive a complimentary bassinet at Neiman Marcus with any $200 purchase in Layette clothing). Rates begin at $480 per night.
July 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Jack Nicklaus raved about the award-winning course: "If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach. I've loved this course from the first time I saw it. It's possibly the best in the world." Ranked the number 1 golf resort by Golf Digest Magazine, Pebble Beach offers four unique courses of breathtaking beauty, including the Scottish links-style Links at Spanish Bay. Perched dramatically on the Pacific coastline, nestled within groves of tall Monterey pines, The Inn at Spanish Bay offers more than just world-class golf. The 269 luxurious rooms and suites feature a private patio or balcony view over the Monterey Peninsula, along with a cozy fireplace. Outstanding facilities include The Spanish Bay Club, Oceanside Beach and Tennis Club, outdoor pools and Jacuzzi, and full-service spa and salon.