LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Chances are, your calendar is booked for a wedding or two this weekend, as July 7, 2007-- a.k.a., "07/07/07"-- is the luckiest date of the century. Eva Longoria and Tony Parker weren't alone in choosing this day to get hitched; it's the most popular wedding date in history. (There's even a Flickr group devoted to snapping the best 7 shots on 7/7/07!) The wedding industry is bracing itself for the weekend, while the hospitality sector is also going gaga with special packages and promotions, from the "Seven Deadly Sins" to "7 Nights in 7th Heaven," from "Test Your Luck" gambling vacations (Lady Luck is on your side in Sin City!) to "Lucky in Love" romantic escapes. Whatever your destination this weekend, go ahead and indulge. Days like this come once in a lifetime.
P.S. If you miss out on all these decadent festivities, you can still look forward to 08/08/08 next year. Not quite as lucky, but still exciting.
Go coastal this summer and head south of the border to Acapulco, the oft-overlooked Pacific Coast retreat nestled between the soaring mountains of the Sierra Madre on one side and the crystal blue bay on the other. Book a stay at the premier resort in the area, the Fairmont Pierre Marques, once the private getaway of J. Paul Getty, and enjoy fantastic savings with "Only One Way" summer rates, starting at just $149 through early September. With refreshing infinity pools overlooking the ocean, a state-of-the-art fitness center, tennis, golf, and aquatic sports galore, this landmark hotel offers endless fun in the sun for a real steal. (The hotel's sister property, Fairmont Acapulco Princess, has likewise reduced its summer rates.)
Foodies flock to Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica, ranked in the top hotel restaurants in the U.S. for its fabulous Modern American cuisine. In this stylish hot spot, Executive Chef Warren Schwartz serves up highly addictive bites using fresh local provisions. This summer, Taste of Tuesday transforms Viceroy Santa Monica's famed poolside into a gourmand's mecca; guests can relax by the pool while indulging in tasty treats every Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Servers circulate small plates to accompany classy cocktails like the Bartinis-- a low carb/low calorie selection of martinis with flavors like blue raspberry, cranberry cosmo, and dessert key lime. In addition, guests at Viceroy Santa Monica can enjoy "Warren's Culinary Journal," a new menu at Whist showcasing recipes from the globe-trotting Executive Chef that he's collected on his extensive travels. Taste your way around the world without leaving the luxurious comfort of the Viceroy.
June 29, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hidden in the tropical forest on the white sands of the Riviera Maya, the Tides is a 30-villa property that epitomizes barefoot luxury. Located just outside Playa del Carmen, this seaside refuge has been touted as "a sexy, eco-conscious hideaway in the jungle" by Travel and Leisure magazine. Taste the award-winning "Yucatecan Cuisine," take a yoga class overlooking coastal splendor, discover nearby ancient Mayan cities, frolic on the seven miles of white sand beach. Here in paradise, the Tides provides unique services and facilities: Temazcal, the stunning Maya-style sauna right on the beach, a "tropical butler" to deliver iced face towels poolside, and a "dine anywhere, anytime" policy. Leave your cell phones behind (they're not allowed here!) and get ready for some serious relaxation, both in your palapa-roofed villa (decorated with sophisticated simplicity) and the full-service holistic spa. If you book the Barefoot Luxury package, you can enjoy four nights at the Tides Riviera Maya along with a private Mayan cooking class or Tequila and Ceviche tasting. Priced at $2,740, includes a departure amenity.
Sup on the finest traditional American cuisine in a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired atmosphere at the Arizona Biltmore's acclaimed restaurant. The chefs at Wright's use only the best hand-crafted organic ingredients from boutique farms across the country-- goat cheese from Maui, escargot from Oregon, or elk from Wyoming-- with the menu changing weekly to reflect what's in season. It's all about getting back to basics rather than manipulating the food. This philosophy also applies to the service, which is warm and attentive, but not at all stuffy. In addition to the fantastic à la carte menu, Wright's offers diners a tasting menu each evening. Open daily for dinner and Sunday for brunch.
In the wake of the decision by most major hotel chains to go trans fat free, Banyan Tree has announced its plan to eliminate trans-fat from their larders by August 1, 2007. Loews, Omni, Starwood, even Carnival Cruises have made the verdict on the evils of trans fat (you can educate yourself on the health risks of those nasty hydrogenated fast foods here). It's good to see hotels one upping each other to help their guests achieve healthier lifestyles. Now let's hope green environmental policies (thanks to Fairmont) becomes as big of a fad.
June 27, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Ahhh, summer in San Diego, where the surf's up, the breeze is balmy, and the temperatures are just right. Take the whole family (including your doggie) to Loews Coronado Bay Resort for some fun in the sun. The recreational facilities are remarkable: tennis courts, Sea Spa, fitness center, beach and three outdoor swimming pools, private marina, gondola rides on the nearby canals, bicycling, rollerblading, whatever your little heart desires. Your family's teenage jetsetter will dig the Super Suite Vacation package-- replete with surfing lessons, custom-designed INT surfboard, and two spa treatments in the resort's Teen Spa Room designed by Pottery Barn's PBteen. This taste of the suite life, a perfect blend of sun and surf, goes for $2,000 for a two-night stay. Prior to arrival, your teen can select the color and graphics for the surf board. Loews also offers a Su'ruff Camp, where your doggie can get a surfing lesson with Coronado Surfing Academy at Coronado's Dog Beach. The package also includes a Surf & turf room service meal for your pet, board shorts or a surfing bandana for your pup, and a copy of The Dog's Guide to Surfing.
I was fortunate enough to tour the Tides Inn during a glorious afternoon. Allow me to sing its praises. For sixty years, discriminating travelers and yachtsmen sailing the Eastern seaboard have flocked to the Tides Inn, a well-guarded secret. Today, the AAA four-diamond resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, and visitors enjoy the sparkling pool, spa, boating excursions, tennis, and world-class golf on the Golden Eagle course.
As I walked towards the Inn's entrance, I was greeted by a valet and bellhop who offered lemonade and freshly baked cookies, along with a smile. How's that for Southern hospitality? This gracious hospitality is standard at an Inn long celebrated for its genuine Southern charm. Perched over Carters Creek with an unobstructed view to the sparkling waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Tides Inn commands a setting like no other. Under a clear blue sky, I strolled out in the flowering gardens to gape at the view. Next to the manicured croquet lawn, guests sipped drinks beneath the shade of a tall cedar, watching the boats dock in the marina. Everywhere I turned, the staff beamed smiles and greetings.
Though the Inn has a long history as the premier hotel in the Mid-Atlantic, there is nothing faded about this place. After extensive refurbishments in 2001, the Tides Inn emerged in all of its contemporary splendor, but with all its traditions intact. Guest rooms are elegant and comfortable, outfitted in British colonial style with dark wood trim and custom fitted marble for the wet bars. You'll still find the wooden lockers in the Chesapeake Club, the resort's fine dining restaurant, where guests during the "dry" years stored their bottles after a whiskey run to nearby Urbanna (a "wet county") aboard the Miss Ann. And you'll still find an impressive attention to detail: guests are pampered with complimentary bottles of champagne and hand-written cards when celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.
The Fourth of July week at the Tides Inn promises to be a fabulous celebration, packed with festive activities and events. Plus, if you stay three or more nights during the week, you'll qualify for a special rate of $295 per evening. Here's a taste of what's in store: a phenomenal fireworks display right on Carters Creek, night golf, a boat building competition on the Windsor Lawn, kayaking tours on Carters Creek, Irvington's Main Street Parade complete with Antique Cars, family scavenger hunts, garden tours, and movie nights in the Bryant Garden, the Inn's own natural amphitheater.
Northern California's sophisticated getaway just got spruced up for the summertime. Sloping across a 33-acre hillside olive grove in Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil is acclaimed for its informal elegance, celebrating the art of relaxation. And with the new "al fresco playground," hotel guests can appreciate the laid-back luxury of the Riviera smack dab in the middle of California's wine country. As reported by Daily Candy, SF residents escape the summertime fog on jaunts to Napa where you can "daydream you're in Provence on a plush daybed by the swanky new pool at Auberge du Soleil." Dedon lounge furniture imported from Germany, oversized market umbrellas, sweeping views from the terrace, and a gorgeous pool inlayed with an Italian mosaic and an iridescent Auberge sun crafted in mother-of-pearl... It's a sexy space, an exotic outdoor living room. Relax in oversized chaises or underneath gauze-draped canopies on day beds, sip signature cocktails, taste lounge food from Auberge du Soleil's award-winning restaurant, enjoy WiFi and a DJ-mixed pool soundtrack. Doting pool attendants offer refreshing amenities like the signature Auberge Bellini, gourmet Italian ices, sorbets, gelées, chilled eucalyptus-infused towels and iPods.
June 25, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Visit nine wonders of the world-- from the Egyptian pyramids to the incredible carved sculptures on Easter Island-- with Abercrombie & Kent's globe-spanning journey by private jet. The luxury tour operator enlists expert guides to accompany their programs; these professionals are the ideal traveling companions who work hard to ensure an unforgettable journey. Privileged guests can choose from an array of sightseeing excursions, sport, shopping and spa options at selected destinations. And with Abercrombie & Kent, guests experience privileged access to these nine landmarks of world culture-- a real insider's perspective. As to be expected, the accommodations on this circumnavigation are the finest, like the elegant Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, and the luxurious Four Seasons First Residence in Cairo. For 2008, the itinerary spans Miami, Lima, Easter Island, Apia (Samoa), Sydney, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar), Jodhpur & Agra (India), Muscat (Oman), Petra (Jordan), Cairo, and New York. Dates are January 13- February 6, 2008 and February 7- March 2, 2008. There are a limited number of seats on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. The private Boeing 757-200 is limited to just 50 guests, so make your reservations today.