LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
April 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Another luxury ship with permanent ocean residences is a good thing, as rumor has it that the Four Seasons Cruise Ship is almost sold out. The Magellan-- to be completed by the summer of 2008-- will be limited to 200 private homes, including 16 penthouses. The exclusive $650 million ship claims it will "redefine luxury for the discerning traveler":
The facilities and services of the world's finest resorts are part of everyday life aboard the Magellan. On-call housekeeping staff, a world-class spa and marketplace, a 24-hour concierge staff, indoor and outdoor pools, six restaurants, a 450-seat theatre featuring Broadway-quality entertainment, a casino worthy of Monte Carlo and a 8,000 sq.ft greenhouse with onsite horticulturists are just a few of the conveniences that make living aboard the Magellan a unique experience.
Add to that the luxury of visiting 300 unique ports of call as you circumnavigate the globe. Now that ain't too shabby.
As featured in the April 2006 Travel and Leisure, Gaia Hotel and Reserve, located near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, is Costa Rica's newest luxury hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels, this tropical boutique property is situated among the lush coastal rainforests of the Pacific coast. The terraced suites and villas overlook these incredible natural surroundings, a pristine nature reserve packed with exotic wildlife and chattering white-faced monkeys. This is a luxurious retreat, appointed with modern amenities, spa, gym, pool, and private butler service to attend to guests' every need. Gaia presents eco-tourism at its best, a project designed for the preservation of the natural reserve and protection of local flora and fauna for future generations. For a limited time, the resort is offering the "Soft Open Special" during the construction of their new Clubhouse, which will house the spa, gym, conference room, business center and game room. Take advantage of rates up to 20 percent off, starting at $240 per night (studio for two people), minimum three night stay, valid until April 30.
Follow the likes of Trista and Ryan (of Bachelorette fame) and countless celebs on this elite private island resort that Andrew Harper's calls "as close to heaven on earth as you're likely to get." 500 acres of bliss for only 14 couples at one time, and a staff of 150 to provide for and pamper them. Turtle Island is truly one of the world's finest and most romantic resorts. Settle into your elegant "bure," a traditional hand-crafted thatched cottage with outdoor verandahs overlooking blue lagoons. Rates are all-inclusive, including all gourmet meals, all drinks including alcohol, massage, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, private picnics, scuba diving, and countless other activities. And now is the time to fly free to Turtle Island, as the resort is offering two free coach tickets from Los Angeles and free seaplane transfers, with a seven night stay. Nightly rates start at $1,975 per night, per couple (Grand Bure accommodations). Travel must be completed by May 11, 2006.
Turtle Island, Official Site
Turtle Island, Five Star Alliance
The clever folks at Bliss add lots of whimsy and wit to their product line and divine treatments at their Spas dotted across North America and Britain. Take the hangover herbie-- designed to be the "perfect pick for post-reveling recuperation"-- with its purifying essential oil and wrap-up, revitalizing mask, foot massage, anti-migraine massage, skin-saving oxygen spray and Pure Inventions Green Tea Concentrates. I mean, how cool is that? I'd venture to say cutting-edge cool. And the gimmicky stuff-- movie-while-you-manicure nail stations, rhythm and blues tunes and the trademark brownie buffet-- is as fun and innovative as their unique spa language (blissage, def: "a massage performed at Bliss.")
Their newest spa debut: a 7,000 sq ft facility in the W Westwood. Ten treatment rooms, luxurious men's and women's lounges, and an in-spa store. Not to mention the nifty treatments, including the famous Triple Oxygen Treatment (a facial that includes cleansing, exfoliating, a fruit acid peel, oxygen wrap, a calming oxygen and milk mask, and hydrating enzymatic wrap), the double choc pedicure, the firm fiancee, and the whopper of them all: the premarital pore-fection (a series of six monthly Triple Oxygen Treatments). You've got to check these guys out. The spa menu isn't exactly a chore to read.
W Los Angeles-Westwood, Official Site
W Los Angeles-Westwood, Five Star Alliance
Next to the green urban oasis of Hyde Park in the heart of Sydney, Sheraton on the Park is considered one of the city's best luxury hotels, awarded to both the Conde Nast Traveler and Luxury Travel Mag's Gold Lists for 2006. The 557 luxurious rooms were completely revamped in 2003 with sumptuous contemporary furnishings. And the hotel is Sydney's largest conference hotel, with meeting and function rooms available to seat up to 900. But the best part of the place is the top-caliber recreational choices: the Executive Club Lounge offers a stunning rooftop pool, health club and spa with sweeping city views. For a limited time, Sheraton on the Park is offering three night Easter specials starting at $233 per night. (The Easter Package is priced at $299 for a single night stay, $499 for two nights, and $699 for three nights--which averages to $233 a night.) Daily buffet breakfast for two and valet parking are also included.
Sheraton on the Park, Official Site
Sheraton on the Park, Five Star Alliance
Listed on the Travel and Leisure 500, the Nile-facing luxury hotel has earned top recognition as the best in the Middle East, surpassing even Dubai's modern masterpieces. It boasts a wondrous city resort setting, with all the first-class amenities expected in a Four Seasons hotel, including superb business facilities, and largest Spa in Cairo. After a day spent exploring the dynamic city or the ancient Pyramids, head to the Health Club for a work-out with stunning views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Followed by the sauna, steam room, whirlpool or cold plunge pool at the Spa, or a drink by the secluded rooftop pool. On this meticulously landscaped outdoor terrace, 17 private cabanas are situated next to the three heated pools. From your chic and spacious guest room, take in the panoramic view from the deep soaking tub in the all-marble bathroom.
Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza, Official Site
Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza, Five Star Alliance
At the crossroads between East and West, built upon layers of history of ancient civilizations, Bodrum sits on Turkey's breathtaking Aegean coastline overlooking beaches framed by olive groves and the blue sea. Majestic ancient ruins, some dating from 5,000 years ago, imbue the city with culture and mythology. The Castle of St. Peter, built by the Knights of St. John in 1406, stands near remains of the Ottoman empire, and the grand Mausoleum of King Moussollos is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Sun-seekers, history buffs, and yacht owners alike flock to the gorgeous seaside port of Bodrum-- especially in the summer months. In this magical place, the Ada Hotel offers a luxurious respite cloaked in traditional culture and romance. The 14 guestrooms have balconies opening into the garden or overlooking the sea; the 90 sq-meter Executive Suite is equipped with a fireplace and separate Jacuzzi, and the Presidential Suite shares a private pool with the Penthouse Suite. The health center boasts an enormous Jacuzzi, luxurious Turkish Hammam, sauna and therapeutic treatment rooms.
Of Islands Magazine recent picks of the Best Snorkeling Spots Worldwide, Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia shines as an unspoiled natural paradise with awesome snorkeling right out the front door. Overshadowed by the landmark green peaks--the Gros and Petit Pitons--that provide the lush and dramatic backdrop for this island nation, the resort sits on 600 acres of rolling hills and tropical gardens overlooking the soft sparkling sand of the Caribbean's best beaches. The resort's rooms are each individualized: white-washed cottages with wrap-around-balconies, deluxe suites with enormous interiors and walls opening to extraordinary vistas, other rooms boasting verandahs framed by flowering blossoms, while the premium suites offer sublime showers-with-a-view. Besides the snorkeling on the pristine coral reef just offshore, the resort offers a world-renowned, first class SSI Platinum Pro/PADI dive facility. And after a day on the water (or playing tennis or mountain biking), the therapeutic delights of the Kai Belte Spa await.
Anse Chastanet, Official Site
Anse Chastanet, Five Star Alliance
March 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
So close to Puerto Vallarta (42 kilometers), and yet so isolated in a pristine, tropical paradise. Surrounded by long stretches of white-sand beaches and the turquoise Pacific, Four Seasons Punta Mita offers an unrivaled vacation destination, with luxurious spa and Jack Nicklaus golf. But perhaps the coolest thing about the Punta Mita is the new five-bedroom beachfront Arena Suite, a breathtaking beachfront villa perfect for a family reunion or gathering of friends. The $2.8 million retreat is 13,000 sq feet, with complete privacy, butler service, and magnificent sunset views and whale-watching from a hacienda patio. Amenities include flat screen televisions, high speed internet access, and full marble bathrooms each with a deep soaking tub, separate glass-enclosed shower, and double vanity. Reservations for this suite also includes a daily poolside cabana in the new, adult-oriented Tamai pool complex, complete with 42" plasma tv, DVD, iPod, Bose Wave sound and wifi.
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Official Site
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Five Star Alliance
March 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The moment we've all been waiting for. The glorious Sunny Isles beach resort we've been raving about for months, is officially accepting ressies for April 28th arrivals. The setting couldn't be more perfect: 400 feet of gorgeous Florida coastline halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. This luxurious haven features 97 suites, all with private terraces, the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. We've been excitedly anticipating this one for months. Enjoy.
Acqualina, Official Site
Acqualina, Five Star Alliance