November 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's a winter wonderland out there. Sure, the blizzards blanketed the East Coast a little early, but why not take advantage of the snow and go ice skating in Bryant Park? Cassa Hotel and Residences in Midtown has partnered with Citi Pond at nearby Bryant Park to create a swell package for guests visiting NYC when it's at its best (over the holidays!). Book "Skating in the Park," starting from $329 per night, and you'll get skate rentals for two, VIP admission to the rink so you can skip the line, hot chocolate for two, and 10% off of all food and beverage when presenting your guest room card at Celsius restaurant and bar. Subject to availability.
The luxurious condo-hotel opened in 2010 to much fanfare (in-room Dean and Deluca snack bar! room service on demand! glorious design!). Needless to say, Cassa offers all the services expected at a world-class hotel- like 24 hour concierge, daily turn-down service, express dry-cleaning, babysitting, overnight shoe shine, and limo service. Spa treatments can be arranged off site.
We've been waiting with bated breath to find out which talented designer would nab the prestigious Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. The luxury hotel group-- celebrated for iconic hotels in urban centers in Europe and the U.S.-- launched the Fashion Prize to honor the work of young designers- and it's gotten some serious buzz in the press. Just this past weekend, the prize was bestowed in The Rodeo Ballroom at The Beverly Hills Hotel after a runway presentation featuring models from cycle 18 of America's Next Top Model. (The event was filmed for an upcoming episode to be aired in spring 2012.) After much deliberation, the judges chose the collection by Anndra Neen as best representing “the spirit of individuality, luxury, style and craftsmanship" of The Dorchester Collection's hotels. Anndra Neen received $40,000 and will have the opportunity to display their work at the fabulous Hôtel Plaza Athénée (pictured) during Paris Fashion Week in 2012.
Nothing whets our appetite for travel more than the annual destination lists by top travel guides. Frommer's recently released their "Top Destinations for 2012" after its editors, authors, and experts spent "months bickering" among themselves. They also reached out to readers to find out their travel plans for the coming year, with Turkey the clear winner at 51% of the vote (Paris, Italy, and Hawaii also got high marks). The USA Today has summarized the list, including explanations about each destination from Frommers.com editorial director David Lytle.
Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, "as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives."
Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it's a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.
Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you've done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.
Beirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. "It's an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation," Lytle says.
Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it's also on the heritage trail for African Americans.
London's Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it's bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party's over.
Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It's also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It's a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.
Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it's central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.
Yucatan Peninsula – There's more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it's been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico's western reaches.
October 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
One of the latest trends in luxury travel? Tykes and teens are getting pampered with specialized spa treatments. We've seen teen acne facials and little princess manicures at hotels like Stowe's Topnotch Resort, Loews Coronado Bay Hotel in San Diego, and The Homestead in Virginia. The latest resort to create a customized menu for its youngest guests? The Four Seasons Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand's northern culture capital in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley. For "little angels," the resort recently unveiled a menu of new treatments using organic, chemical-free products. Here's the menu:
Angel Bliss Massage – A relaxing, soothing treatment perfect for energetic kids, the Angel Bliss Massage improves the quality of children’s sleep, soothes the nervous system, and helps to strengthen the immune system through a gentle pressure oil massage applied to the scalp, legs and feet. 60 minutes.
Look At Me Facial - Formulated especially to suit young and teenage skin, and to leave a little one looking her very best, this is a very gentle facial incorporating an exhilarating face massage to hydrate and purify the skin. 50 minutes.
Gorgeous Skin Glow – The perfect treatment to bring a glow to young skin, the Skin Glow is a gentle scrub using natural red rice to exfoliate dead skin cells and revitalise the skin. 50 minutes.
Soothing Wrap for Sun-Kissed Skin – The perfect after-sun treatment for those kids who’ve been enjoying the great outdoors, this soothing body wrap uses the healing power of aloe vera to cool, moisturise and heal the skin. 50 minutes.
October 26, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
There's so much fun and excitement happening the hospitality world these days (beer-themed spa treatments? Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh?) that you can't possibly be expected to keep up with it all. So we're helping out with a wrap-up of some of our favorite tidbits (and gossip) this week. First up: Rumor has it that Buckingham Palace might open as a hotel for tourists when when Prince Charles moves his home to Windsor Castle upon taking the throne. If this does indeed come to pass, expect to pay a "princely sum" to sleep there, says The Boston Globe's Melanie Nayer. Another fun news item: Sir Richard Branson has signed the first deal for his highly anticipated Virgin Hotels brand... in Chicago. The 27-storey Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash-- just a block off Michigan Avenue and the river-- will get a makeover and open as a hotel in fall 2013.
Pictured: Another newsworthy item, the lebua New Delhi, opening in December.
October 25, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
What will you be doing this winter? Ditch the snow shovel and sniffly nose for the warmer climes out west. If you spend the holidays at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, the glamorous hotel that's earned the rare distinction of both the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond awards, they'll throw in a third night for free along with daily American breakfast and two signature holiday cocktails. ("Reindeer Games" sounds like our kind of a tipple.) The sun is shining over Beverly Hills all year round, and the boutiques of Rodeo Drive await... Get spoiled rotten at this legendary address which quite a few celebs have called home. "And to All a Free Night" is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other promotions. Valid until January 8, 2012.
October 25, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
The Ritz Carlton Chicago, a Four Seasons Hotel, is offering a few incredible activities and memorable events in November that are fun for the whole family. Kick off the holidays by participating in the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights parade on November 19, 2011. The Ritz Carlton Chicago is located on the Magnificent Mile, just steps away from the upcoming parade. Your family and friends will enjoy hot chocolate, chestnuts, and other delicious snacks right outside the hotel prior to the parade, courtesy of the Candy Man from Candyality. After nibbling on treats, check out the parade, which begins with the lighting procession by none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse at 5:30 PM. Take in the magic of seeing various Disney characters, floats, huge balloons, celebrities, marching bands, music performers, and last but not least, Santa Claus. During the parade, over 1 million lights covering 200 trees are illuminated, enlivening the spirit of the holidays, leading up to stunning fireworks along the Chicago River to conclude the parade. After the exciting parade, head back to the Ritz Carlton for a toast to the holiday season with a complimentary glass of champagne for adults and a cup of hot chocolate for children and the lighting of the hotel’s 17-foot (5 meter) tree at 7:30PM.
November is just around the corner, so get excited for some family fun and make your travel plans to Chicago today!
October 25, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
If I had three wishes, I’d use up the first two on world peace and a grilled cheese sandwich. But the third one would be tough if I got them by acquiring the new Dream Folly from Neiman Marcus. Because I’d already be spending the night in my third wish. An 18-foot-diameter yurt, a traditional tent going back to the Mongols, who clearly sacked Rome in style, is the centerpiece of a full package built to evoke an extravagant genie’s bottle. So it’s time to stop dreaming of Jeannie, and instead make your dream a reality, for this fantasy hideaway comes with a set of literally one-of-a-kind pillows by famed designer Rebecca Vizard, who creates her works of art by meticulously preserving 18th and 19th century prints on her lush, modern pillows. Not only that, the room is adorned with a handcrafted crystal chandelier and linen wall coverings. And while you’re living your fantasy, you can help the dreams of others come true, because with the purchase of Dream Folly, $5,000 of the proceeds will go The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The Dream Folly package, which will see this fully customizable Yurt installed on your estate grounds, is a part of Neiman Marcus’s fantasy collection in the new Christmas book. Every item is perfectly designed to help you live your very own fantasy. Check out the full collection here.
Photo Via Neiman Marcus.
It’s a common misconception that traveling with kids means you cannot stay in 5-star, luxury hotels. While it is true that the industry standard is double occupancy, many luxury hotels are willing to make adjustments and modifications to best accommodate you and your travel companions. In order to choose the best room(s) at the best rate(s), we’ve come up with 5 tips to help you plan your next travel excursion, and ensure an enjoyable trip with kids.
#1: Provide the hotel with details including the number of kids traveling with you as well as their ages. This is to make sure the hotel is prepared for your arrival and has time to make the necessary adjustments to your room. Providing this information will also ensure that the appropriate adjustments are made, and that a crib is not added for the 13-year-old teenager traveling with you.
#2: Many hotels will be able to provide extra bedding for one child, but it is unlikely that they will be able to provide bedding for two or more children in one room. If you’re traveling with another adult and two or more kids, consider booking a suite, but be sure to double check with the hotel to find out how many people the suite sleeps, and make your travel plans from there.
#3: If you are traveling with children that are older, and the hotel of your choice does not have suites that suit your needs, consider reserving 2 rooms and requesting that they be adjacent, adjoining, or connecting rooms.
#4: If you are traveling with children that are younger and two adults, we advise that you book two rooms, request that they be adjacent, adjoining, or connecting rooms, and have one adult stay in each room.
#5: Be flexible, open, and willing to take advice and make adjustments as need be. Please be aware that all requests are simply requests only, and cannot be guaranteed until confirmed with the hotel.
We hope these tips ease the stress of planning your next trip with kids, and we wish you happy travels and a truly memorable experience!
With the winter holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for your family members and friends. This year, however, we bet you want something different, something special, something extravagant, something over the top. Did we just read your mind? For the luxury seekers, the best gift givers, and the folks who always go above and beyond what is expected, the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue may be just for you.
One of my personal favorite gifts offered is the Dancing Fountains from WET. WET, the company responsible for creating some of the most extravagent fountains in the world, including the Fountains of Bellagio and the Dubai Fountain is now bringing these charming creations to your home. With this fantasy gift, WET will install two underwater robotic nozzles that dance as a couple. This fountain will swirl, twirl, dip, and spin for you with the beauty of two graceful dancers. With this purchase, Neiman Marcus will donate $10,000 of the proceeds to Water.org, a nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Curious what else the Neiman Marcus catalogue has to offer? Check out the Assouline Custom-Built Library, the Dream Folly, and the rest of the Holiday Catalogue.
(Photo via Neiman Marcus)