February 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Discover the world's top eco-tourism destination with some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Costa Rica's Guanacaste Peninsula is jam-packed with breathtaking national parks and stunning beaches. (Erupting volcanoes, tropical cloud forest filled with chatty monkeys, orchid-blooming rainforest canopies…) Located in the midst of this lush landscape, on its own pristine paradise of 2,400 acres, the Paradisus Playa Conchal offers a luxurious, family-friendly environment from which to explore all that Costa Rica has to offer. Enjoy Central America's largest free form pool (the spectacular freshwater pool is set in a 1,800 square meter garden and has two jacuzzis), the endless choice of water sports (running the gamut from windsurfing to scuba), play a round of golf on the 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, or indulge in the spa. The kids will be happy at their own paradise (aka Kids Club)—comprised of playgrounds, climbing wall, mini disco, table games, movies, and eco-recreational team.
The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Official Site
The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Five Star Alliance
The beautifully restored 15th century mansion makes its debut this month, the second luxury hotel on the island of Mallorca for the Stein Group. Close to Palma de Mallorca and the Mediterranean Sea, in a prime location overlooking the surrounding countryside, the Gran Hotel Son Julia offers 25 guestrooms, equipped with state-of-the-art features (marble bathrooms and giant plasma TVs) while still preserving many of the original historical details. Also on the premises: spa and wellness area, gym, indoor and outdoor pools and a choice of restaurants. Take advantage of the special opening rate of EUR 75 per person during the entire month of February, when the island is covered in flowering almond blossoms.
The coach of the country's Number One tennis player is now heading up the program at the Ritz Carlton Dubai. Zeeshan Ali has oodles of awards and titles under his belt—experience that he's now bringing to all tennis enthusiasts at the hotel in both private instruction and group lessons. Not really into tennis? The Ritz Carlton Dubai has got it all—from fitness classes, squash, golf, shopping, stunning pools, beach, and idyllic Balinese Spa. Situated on prime beachfront along the snazzy, exclusive Jumeirah Beach area of Dubai, the Ritz Carlton basks in the year-round sunshine of Dubai's perfect climate. Luxurious rooms have private balconies overlooking the tropical gardens and the Arabian Gulf. Plus, the Kids Club has loads of fun daily activities to keep the 'liluns happy and smiling.
The Ritz Carlton Dubai, Official Site
The Ritz Carlton Dubai, Five Star Alliance
February 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The capital of tech gets its own snazzy Four Seasons. Rooftop pool, walls of contemporary art, floor-to-ceiling views, full-service spa and of course the signature Four Seasons doting service. Welcome to East Palo Alto, the edge of suburban sprawl and office park strip malls just minutes from the ivory towers of higher learning at Stanford. The 200 room hotel is "the centerpiece of the prestigious new University Circle complex" (or is this just a euphemism glorifying another Office Park?) But if you're on business in Palo Alto, what could be better than the classic luxury of Four Seasons with a high tech touch? Where in-room and poolside spa treatments are available after a long day of meetings. And guestrooms are spacious, full of light, and loaded with technology.
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Official Site
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Five Star Alliance
The biggest, baddest party of the year (leaps and bounds better than Mardi Gras) has been announced, and this is the year to go. Proudly emerging from reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina, NOLA is as enticing as ever, though there's still a long way to go. And tourism's the ticket to get there. Following its historic tradition, 2006 Jazz Fest promises to be an awesome show, with Fats Domino already signed on to the line-up of legendary musicians. In fact, organizers have announced the show will take place over two weekends, April 28-30 and May 5-7. Advance tickets are $30 per day, and if you act fast, there might still be room at the stunning Windsor Court, consistently awarded as one of the world's finest hotels.
Windsor Court Hotel, Official Site
Windsor Court Hotel, Five Star Alliance
The cat's out of the bag. The ladies are flocking to the AAA five diamond Greenbrier for the March 8-12 scheduled Women's Wonderful Weekend, a relaxing four-day weekend designed just for women. The 4th annual event features an array of talented speakers, including authors Gail Sheehy and Christine Martinello, who lead sessions covering a range of topics (women's health issues, spiritual and mental growth, women in leadership roles, techniques to reduce stress, finance, fashion and beauty, etc). And of course besides the motivational discussions and reflection on personal growth, there's a birthday bash dinner party, "Not So Extreme Makeovers," and plenty of opportunities to divulge in the superb Greenbrier Spa. Rates are on the Modified American Plan (includes breakfast, dinner and a $50 spa voucher) and start at $380 per night single occupancy and $325 per night double occupancy.
The Greenbrier, Official Site
The Greenbrier, Five Star Alliance
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces spent a mere $27.1 million for one of the hottest hotels in Sydney. On its first venture in Australia, Taj dubbed the boutique property BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay, an apt name for the luxurious marina surroundings on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Indeed, this is a perfect location: a hop from the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the central business and shopping districts. Distinguished among the top hotels in Sydney-- on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List it was among the "Top 3 Best Hotels for Location in Australia/South Pacific"— BLUE also has an acclaimed restaurant and bar. (The Water Bar was named one of the "Top 5 Bars in the World" by Wallpaper mag in 2004 and one of the "Top 10 Bars in the World" in 2003 by CNT.) The 100 lavish guest rooms—including 36 stunning Loft Rooms-- retain authentic characteristics from the renovated historic wharf structure, but emanate urban chic and are equipped with all the latest technology. Not to mention sensational views of Sydney Harbor.
It's not too early to start planning your summer getaway. And why not think the UK countryside? Here's a favorite spot that the mags gush and rave about-- Harpers & Queen (Nov 2005) ranks the Summer Lodge as one of the 100 Best Places in the World:
With deckchairs scattered on sprawling lawns and trays laden with afternoon tea, this wisteria-clad Relais & Chateaux hotel in the beautiful Dorset Downs feels delightfully English – an atmosphere that extends into 24 extremely pretty, individually decorated rooms and suites.
X-factor: The lovely indoor pool, which is housed in a glass conservatory that looks out on the kitchen garden.
The room to choose? Why the master bedroom, of course. 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.
Summer Lodge, Official Site
Summer Lodge, Five Star Alliance
February 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to the NYT to spill the secret: Rome in wintertime just can't be beat. Off-season hotel rates, end of season sales means shopping galore, the perfect lack of gawking crowds, and a plethora of (warm) indoor cultural activities. Where to stay? The stunning, historic Hotel de Russie (this is one of Rocco Forte's many European gems) boasts gorgeous terraced gardens and central courtyard, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city near the Spanish Steps. And the Spa—with Turkish steam bath, hydropool, jacuzzi and sauna—ain't too shabby either.
Hotel de Russie, Official Site
Hotel de Russie, Five Star Alliance
February 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
No joke. Private white sand beach and gorgeous tropical lagoons, luxurious rooms with ocean-view balconies, the Angsana Spa (need I say more?) and that famous Thai hospitality. All for $90 a night at the newly-renovated, newly-opened Dusit Laguna. It's back, and better than ever. Looking for a more active holiday? You name the sport. What don't they offer. Tennis, mountain biking, waterpolo, windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, basketball, volleyball, sailing, kayaking, pitch and putt golf, and-- for the Frenchies-- Jeu de Boules. Rates are absolutely unbeatable (have I mentioned that they start at $90 a night?)-- including both breakfast and dinner. Book travel before June 30th, 2006.
Dusit Laguna Resort, Official Site
Dusit Laguna Resort, Five Star Alliance