December 5, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Monkeys giggle above in the trees. The sun is scorching hot overhead. From the road, the jungle overgrowth suddenly parts to reveal the majestic domes of ancient Angkor Wat. Fragrant orange blossoms hang from the trees, matching the brilliant robes of the Buddhist monks who are seated around the temples. Welcome to the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Watch the sun set (or rise) over the magnificent Angkor Wat (the largest and most celebrated of the temples), gaze at the huge stone heads at Bayon, and walk through the mysterious calm of Ta Prohm, where trees' gnarled root systems are slowly overtaking the temples. (And after all, this was where Angelina Jolie's Laura Croft toted those big-- um-- guns on the set for Tomb Raider!!! Sweet.) Where to stay? Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, of course. With 60,000 sq meters of tranquil gardens, Cambodian art and architecture, and superb restaurants and spa.
Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Official Site
Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Five Star Alliance
December 3, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Half Moon, Montego Bay is celebrating the big 5-0 and has thus come up with some pretty sweet packages. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and space is available for the winter holidays, so why not book the "Take Me To The Moon" package? From $589 a night, includes swank accommodations, sumptuous food and—could it be?—unlimited beverage, unlimited use of the fitness center and tennis courts, a welcome gift with champagne, and round trip airport transfers. Chill on the palm-dotted beaches or in your choice of 50 freshwater pools, unwind at the spa, partake in the water sports, or challenge yourself on the world-class tennis courts and golf course. The dining options? For a self-contained little paradise, the restaurant choices are almost (surprisingly) limitless.
Half Moon, Official Site
Half Moon, Five Star Alliance
December 2, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Though it's beyond gimmicky (who was the big brain behind this name?), THEhotel is anything but corny. In 43 stories rising above the Strip, it's got the largest standard rooms in Vegas (a measly 750 square feet). The place is a playground packed with cosmopolitan fun: the 1,117 one-bedroom suites with wet bar, marble bathroom, plasma TV; the Bathhouse Spa with its pools of different temperatures, baths and flowing waterfall; and the swank Lounge (with delish cocktail concoctions) on the very top floor. Don't be fooled by December's ridiculously low rates; THEhotel is a sizzling Vegas destination.
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Official Site
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Five Star Alliance
Think Mexico for pre- or post-holiday recuperation! With 56 ocean view rooms, Casa del Mar is a hacienda-style resort set in lush gardens overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Play a round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones II designed championship course. Head to the spa for an outstanding signature treatment like the Tropical Exfoliation, where the skin is buffed with fine milled coffee and dried coconut, and then massaged with coconut massage oil. In the evening, dine under a poolside palapa. With the Relax 33 special package, save 33% off regular rates, starting as low as $269 a night for a Deluxe Oceanview Room. Offer good December 1-20, 2005, and January 2-15, 2006. Minimum 2 night stay required.
Scheduled to open on December 15, the new Ritz-Carlton is the most talked-about news of the season. This resort is destined to set new standards for luxury hotels, with an all-star cast contributing to the resort's conception: Greg Norman designed golf course, Tennis by Nick Bollettieri, two restaurants by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, NYC, the world's first spa inspired by La Prairie's Silver Rain (did I mention that this is one of the Caribbean's largest?!), and an aquatic education program run by Jean-Michel Cousteau. The best part? There is still availability for December holidays! But hurry; book those rooms fast!
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Official Site
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Five Star Alliance
The big daddy of prime Florida real estate… The Breakers is as mammoth in legend as is its luxury experience. The Italian Renaissance style hotel consists of 560 oceanfront rooms, on 140 acres smack in the middle of a private beach. Founded in 1896 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Breakers has got it all. Beach club, oceanfront spa, 36 holes of championship golf, 10 tennis courts, kids' programs, four oceanside pools, excellent restaurants. The icing on the cake? Truly superlative service.
PS A $15 million makeover has utterly transformed the beachfront, including ultra-lux bungalows available for daytime rental.
The Breakers, Official Site
The Breakers, Five Star Alliance
After a recent redesign, the legendary apres-ski scene at the Little Nell is hotter than ever. Savor the delicacies from the fresh seafood bar, followed by some fondue, and of course there's drinks all night at the Bar. Thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room, or "ski-watch" the day away.
The Little Nell, Official Site
The Little Nell, Five Star Alliance
Check into the Conrad Brussels-- the largest, most sophisticated bedrooms in Brussels!—and get a voucher to return for free for more pampering! With exemplary butler service, heaps of meeting space and amenities for the business traveler, and sumptuous culinary delights at Loui restaurant and Cafe Wiltcher's, what more could you ask for? Until March 31 2006, book yourself a suite (from just EUR 339 per night) and receive a voucher for a complimentary weekend stay. The voucher is valid until 31 December 2006, and is not redeemable for cash.
The Conrad Brussels, Official Site
The Conrad Brussels, Five Star Alliance
Bask in San Diego's perfect year-round climate at this AAA five diamond winner that sits near the 18th green of the legendary championship course. The details? Rooms with custom-designed furniture and high-tech details, overlooking the Pacific. The signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien, with award-winning Chef who hails from Shutters on the Beach. A 9,500 square foot spa, with 14 specialized treatment rooms, that's all about the ocean: signature treatments themed around the seacoast, and a spa menu that uses coastal, botanical and marine based extracts. Miles of trails in the Torrey Pines reserve with unspoiled lagoons and beaches.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Official Site
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Five Star Alliance
November 28, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Holiday getaways can't get more perfect than the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport. Its restaurant, at the top of all the "Best Of" lists (AAA Five Diamond, Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Conde Nast Traveler's Best of the Best.) Built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's, with rustic decor and an awesome 7,000 bottle wine cellar, the restaurant serves the finest New England cuisine. The adjoining Inn, ranked among the top 25 small hotels in North America, has 25 rooms with fireplace (how atmospheric can you get!), flat-screen TVs with DVD, and all that jazz. Plus, the inn's got a heated swimming pool, so even if a blizzard is a-raging, you can enjoy poolside massage therapy and spa treatments. Spend your holidays at the White Barn Inn, with the following special packages. The Christmas Retreat includes: two nights luxurious stay, Christmas Eve reception, turn down treat on arrival (and present in room), full Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch in White Barn restaurant, and traditional afternoon tea. From $409 per person. The New Years Eve Gala Celebration includes two nights stay, special tea on arrival, wine in room, Gala dinner dance with four-course meal and champagne, full continental breakfast. From $677 per person.
The White Barn Inn, Official Site
The White Barn Inn, Five Star Alliance