February 14, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Headed to Sonoma wine country? Forget trying to score a reservation at French Laundry. Head to Cyrus, the gem of a restaurant nestled just off the square in Healdsburg, housed in the superb Les Mars hotel. Rising Star Chef Douglas Keane and Maitre d' Nick Peyton offer contemporary cuisine in a flexible prix fixe format of three to five courses selected from any section of the beautiful menu. The ingredients are luxurious, the best from California's enormous bounty. Devour the terrine of foie gras with plum-ginger compote; corn, chanterelle and pancetta pansotti with cranberry beans, arugula and nage; or rack of lamb with eggplant ragout, fregola and stuffed squash blossom. Bartender Scott Beattie creates drinks to match, like the Creole Watermelon, a blend of vodka, crushed red watermelon, lime juice and Fresno chile rings, garnished with a triangle of watermelon rubbed with lime juice, kosher salt and chili powder. And if cocktails aren't your thing, Sommelier Jim Rollston's extensive wine list has over 750 world class wines, with a special focus on Sonoma appellations.
The picture-perfect setting in a fairytale city. The new Mandarin Oriental recently opened in the Mala Strana district, in the heart of Prague's historic center. Housed in a renovated 14th century monastery, this luxurious hotel embodies the allure of Prague. London-based architect Khuan Chew, famed for the swank interiors of the world's only seven-star hotel, Dubai's Burj al Arab, mixed contemporary amenities with the building's fine architectural details (parquet floors, vaulted ceilings, limestone bathrooms). From your guest room, gaze out over the cobble-stoned streets, ancient spires, and red rooftops. Indulge in the world-class spa, located on the site of a Renaissance church. Take advantage of a fantastic Opening Offer at the Mandarin Oriental Prague, and score a third night for free! Available until March 31, 2007, the Opening Offer Package includes daily American breakfast, late check-out at 6pm, complimentary extra bed for a child under 12, and a third night free when you book two. Rates start from EUR 219 for a Superior Room.
The sky's grey; the weather calls for an ominous-sounding "wintry mix." Now is the time to daydream of sunnier climes, and plan a winter getaway to the tropics. Here's an idea: your own private island in French Polynesia, a little piece of paradise ranked number one on Conde Nast Traveler's "Top 25 Escapes in the World." Vahine Island, a member of Small Luxury Hotels, is a 10-acre wonderland overlooking Bora Bora, about 40 minutes by plane from Papeete International Airport. Overwater bungalows, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, coconut groves and lush rainforests, secluded coral reefs with a rainbow of tropical fish. This is paradise on earth, chock full of hedonistic delights, and only enhanced by the marvelous French cuisine. It doesn't get much better than Vahine Island. (As if you needed further goading, check out the glowing reviews on TripAdvisor.)
The hottest "new" hotel in Manhattan, the most talked about hotel opening of 2006, Gramercy Park Hotel is Ian Shrager's latest masterpiece. With the bold redesign of the classic Manhattan icon, Gramercy Park Hotel has emerged as the luxurious hideway for the "new haute bohemian." Artist Julian Schnabel has created the gorgeous, sensual interior, which features art exhibits including works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lucky guests can imbibe cocktails under the stars at the Private Roof Club and Landscaped Garden, opening this spring. But perhaps the best part of Gramercy Park Hotel: guests receive a key, upon check-in, to the exclusive, gated Gramercy Park. Take advantage of a fantastic offer at this gem in NYC. For a limited time, receive a complimentary room upgrade for stays from February 25-March 18. Available with online bookings only. Upgrade is not available for suites, and blackout dates may apply.
India's high-tech commercial and entertainment hub-- this is Bollywood we're talking about-- is getting a new Four Seasons. The buzzing metropolis (formerly known as Bombay) will welcome the new luxury hotel in mid 2007. Located in the Worli district in close proximity to Mumbai's movie industry and financial district, the Four Seasons will have a destination spa, extensive business facilities, poolside recreation, and spacious accommodations with views of the Arabian Sea. Plus, Four Seasons is promising "see-and-be-seen dining" and S-class Mercedes transfers around the city. A feast for the senses, the hotel is being billed as "a sleek icon to the finest hospitality in India."
Get ready for Ireland's biggest party of the year. Don your green and get ready to imbibe some brew... The St. Patrick's Day Festival will shake things up in Dublin from March 14-18, 2007. Enjoy the city's finest music, theater, carnivals, comedy, dance, and the famous parade, and then retire to the elegant Merrion hotel, just steps away from the action. Hit the fabulous Tethra Spa, or dine at Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant. In celebration of Paddy's Day, The Merrion, Dublin's most stylish five-star spot, is offering some dandy packages. The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Package, available March 16 to 18, features two nights in a Superior or Twin room in the contemporary Garden Wing, full Irish breakfast daily, The Merrion's signature "Black Velvet" cocktail, two grandstand tickets for the St. Patrick's Day Festival Parade and a special picnic box with snacks to take to the parade. Priced at EUR 795 per couple. The St. Patrick's Day Festival Special Offer, available March 16 to 18, features overnight accommodation, full Irish breakfast and a Black Velvet cocktail for EUR 355 per night for a Superior Room or EUR 375 per night for a Deluxe Twin room in the Garden Wing. Rates are based upon double occupancy, and subject to availability.
At the Restaurant at the Setai, trans-ethnic cuisine is crafted from the finest, freshest ingredients in an impressive exhibition kitchen. This is the pinnacle of haute dining in South Beach, the new "Vegas by the Ocean," so called by NYT critic Mark Bittman. The article “Is South Beach Growing Up?" identifies The Setai's restaurant as "visually stunning," with "competent, and actually warm, service":
The sheer scale of the Restaurant at the Setai-- South Beach's most opulent dining spot, and perhaps one of the most interestingly and arguably perfectly designed restaurants in the world-- is astounding. An enormous courtyard is dominated by a huge reflecting pool, and there are 20-foot ceilings, domes of 500 tightly grouped roses and an elaborate array of materials used to build the minimalist but intricate walls and floors: pressed metal, carved wood, imported antique brick, slate, stone, tile and fabric. Down the hall is a strikingly long bar, whose top is mother-of-pearl.
The price tag? A mere $120 per person with the prix fixe tasting menu.
Rack of Venison (with sweet yams and foie gras) or Sautéed Northern Halibut with Dungeness crab ravioli? The choices are sensational at The Wildflower, Vail Valley's only restaurant to be awarded both the AAA Four Diamond Award and Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence." The Lodge at Vail's signature restaurant serves creative American cuisine, under the supervision of newly appointed Executive Chef Randy Belanger. Rated the #1 restaurant in Vail in the Zagat survey, The Wildflower boasts views of the snow-capped mountains from the dining room. Enjoy the epicurean delights from the area's only tasting menu, which changes daily-- depending on the availability of the finest quality seasonal fruits, vegetables, and meats.
From your own private infinity pool, you gaze out over the turquoise Indian Ocean to the lush green peak of Tamarin in the distance. Behind you, wide glazed doors open invitingly into the luxury of the Presidential Suite's spacious living room. From the crescent shaped beach, you can snorkel and scuba dive the nearby coral reefs, spectacular in their colorful marine life. After an afternoon sailing serene waters, you retire to the Taj Spa for a massage and a consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor. The setting is magical: spa pavilions and water courtyards surrounded by gardens and reflecting pools, overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius. As the sun dips below the horizon, you sip a cocktail and anticipate the fine cuisine that awaits. You pinch yourself. Just another day in Paradise.
This could be the most exciting setting on earth. Situated in the world's only inhabited volcano crater-- I kid you not-- On the Rocks is blessed with staggering views of the Aegean Sea and Santorini's world famous sunsets. The hotel is comprised of a complex of traditional Greek buildings: white-washed walls, dramatic blue furnishings, bougainvillea-draped terraces (and all that jazz). Situated above the charming village of Imerovigli, the hotel's exclusive apartments boast private verandahs overlooking the cusp of the volcano crater, with the brilliant blue sea beyond. Set to open April 1, 2007, this unique hotel will feature an impressive spa, inviting pool, and gourmet poolside restaurant serving traditional Greek fare. Noteworthy: one of the newest members of Small Luxury Hotels.