September 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The height of luxury in the City by the Bay. The Presidential Suite is the crown jewel in the refined, contemporary masterpiece of the newly-opened St. Regis San Francisco. Showcasing fine art and sculpture from around the world, the Suite is comprised of a double parlor (with sitting area adjacent to a media room), large dining room, enormous bedroom with attached walk-in closet, and two bathrooms. All outfitted in sumptuous fabrics and the most cutting-edge technology. From the marble window seats, and floor-to-ceiling windows, you'll gasp at the sweeping panoramic views of the city. The butler's pantry features a wine cooler, refrigerator–freezer, dishwasher, and cabinets stocked with Spiegelau stemware, Christofle flatware, and Wedgewood china designed by Vera Wang exclusively for St. Regis. Enjoy your own private spa in the spacious limestone bathroom with its oversized jetted tub and separate rainfall shower room.
September 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Forbes has unveiled a brand, spanking new luxury travel site-- dedicated to distinctive travel experiences for the discerning traveler. Forbes has long had its finger on the pulse of luxury travel trends, so the stand-alone site is a welcome addition to its portfolio. The folks at ForbesTraveler are scheming all sorts of unique content, including destination guides and specialized focus on luxury hotels (that's what we like to hear). The first edition shares a local insider's guide to Aspen, with tips including the following rec. for private jets:
A great trip to Aspen starts on the runway. It's been said that in an average year 10 percent of all the private jets in America land in Aspen, but not all charter outfits are equal. One good choice is Aspen Executive Air (also known as AEXJet), which knows the ins and outs of Sardy Field. Prices range from $2,200 per hour of flight time for a light jet to $10,000 per hour for something big enough to make an impression over cocktails at the Little Nell.
Of course the place to stay in Aspen is The Little Nell, where the legendary après-ski scene is hotter than ever (indulge with fondue or fresh seafood at the bar or thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room). Just steps from the Silver Queen gondola, The Little Nell is the only five-star/five-diamond hotel in town. Rooms are lavish, and the heated outdoor swimming pool, facing Aspen Mountain, divine.
The most hotly anticipated hotel opening in South Florida (delayed for
years months, much to our chagrin.) The glorious Acqualina Resort, located on 400 feet of picture-perfect coastline in Sunny Isles, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, has officially opened its doors. The resort's grand European-inspired architecture graces the oceanfront, its 97 suites featuring private terraces to take in views of the Miami skyline and dazzling seascape. But that's not all. This luxurious haven features the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools, private beach club, and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. Acqualina also offers a special Kids in the Kitchen pastry cooking class, where children play, experiment, and learn their way around a kitchen. Enjoy introductory rates starting at $299 a night at the newly-opened hotel masterpiece.
Girls Getaway Packages, Babymoons, and now Mancations... The luxury hotel industry is quick to forecast travel trends and anticipate the desires of its clientele. And these days, it's for getaways with the guys. Hotels are offering poker parties, hand-rolled cigars, luxury cars and sports tickets, in an effort to tap this new trend. As CNN reports, the new Regent South Beach has devised a special package catering to guys "man-cationing" together which includes a penthouse room, private rooftop terrace with a hot tub and wet bar, round-the-clock butler service and a choice of a luxury rental car such as a Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini.
An "Urban Dictionary" definition for mancation describes it as men engaging in masculine activities such as sports, camping, gambling, chasing women and drinking, without the presence of wives, mistresses or girlfriends. Vince Vaughn helped popularize the term in this summer's romantic comedy "The Break-Up."
The Regent South Beach is not alone. Back in June, The Informed Traveler described how Fairmont Hotels has paved the way with its Mancations packages in its properties across North America. At the Fairmont Chicago, gents enjoy a Chitown getaway which includes whisky tasting, steak dinner, seminar with wine and spirits producer Brown-Forman, and a special "hair-of-the-dog" turndown amenity. And the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa includes spa pampering with its Mancation package. The Speed Meets Spa package caters to both the need for speed and the desire for pampering. With this package, guests receive enrollment at the ESPN Russell Racing School's introductory three day driving course at Infineon Raceway, three nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Inn's handsome fine-dining restaurant, two 50-minute spa treatments, tasting for two at the Gloria Ferrer winery and a bottle of Sonoma Sparkling Wine upon arrival.
And the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina has put together the "Dudes on the Dunes" package, which includes a round of golf and an in-room poker game with snacks and beer from $625 per person for two nights.
September 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Situated just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort is a grand French-style Chateau surrounded by 3,500 acres of lush vineyards and rolling foothills. In this setting reminiscent of the Loire Valley, French elegance and Southern hospitality combine in a luxurious leisure resort. The resort boasts a full-production Winery (42,000 sq ft), and is the largest producer of premium wines in Georgia, recognized by Wine Spectator for its vintages. There are winery tours and tastings, along with a bistro and fine dining restaurant. The 33,000 sq ft Spa is renowned for its indulgent treatments and excellent facilities: beautiful flowering gardens, 14 private guest suites, fitness area, steam, sauna, whirlpool, and its very own fine dining room, Fleur-de-Lis, which serves seasonal gourmet dishes overlooking the lake. But perhaps the best part of all: the Spa offers guest accommodations (!) The 14 spa suites are comfortable and spacious, each individually designed with luxurious flair, from Country French to Victorian Wicker, High-Tech to the exotic Zimbabwe Suite. Overnight spa packages are available, which include use of the facilities, gourmet spa lunch, afternoon tea, and Winery Tour and Tastings.
The mountains of Vermont offer some of the best fall foliage in the country: a gorgeous pastoral of slopes dotted with yellow aspens, orange oaks, and firey red maples. And according to the Peak Foliage Report, the autumn leaves will be at their best starting at the end of September for a three-week period. Escape to The Equinox Resort and Spa in Manchester Village for the best kind of Fall getaway. Situated on 2,300 acres between the Green and Taconic Mountains, the award-winning hotel dates back more than 200 years. Enjoy deluxe accommodations, a recently renovated Avanyu Spa, a wide variety of dining options, and world-class golf at Gleneagles Golf Course. Take advantage of the extraordinary Orvis Inn Extravaganza Package and get lots of goodies with your luxurious accommodations. The Charles Orvis Inn is the elegantly restored 19th-century residence of the Orvis Company Founder which features nine one and two-bedroom suites with marble baths and cherry-paneled kitchens. The two-night package includes accommodations, daily breakfast, a picnic lunch at Hildene, a tour of the Hildene Mansion, chef-prepared dinner for two in Marsh Tavern, a horse-drawn carriage ride, a Falconry lesson, an off-road driving lesson, one 55-minute Avanyu Spa massage per person, picnic lunch at Equinox Pond, and a trip to the Orvis Flagship Store, including transportation and a personal shopper. The package is $810 per person, per night (excluding taxes); available until December 22, 2006.
Can't get enough of that white tea scent of Westin? Wish you could bottle it and take it with you? Recreate that soothing space in the comfort of your own home? Well, now you can. Lucky guests no longer have to wait until their next travel getaway to get their fix of Westin's signature scent. White Tea by Westin features a luxurious 100 percent soy candle, gentle room oil diffuser and all-natural potpourri in its fragrance collection. According to the folks at Westin:
White Tea by Westin is a custom-designed scent that evokes the personality of the brand, elevates the senses and transforms any space. Highlighted with notes of geranium and freesia, the ingredients were carefully chosen because of their relaxing properties and are the result of almost a year of research and testing. The scent made its debut in the Westin brand's recent "This is How it Should Feel" print ad campaign that features a White Tea fragrance strip - the first time a hotel company used this type of execution in an ad campaign. It was then introduced in Westin Hotel lobbies around the world as part of the brand's new Welcome program which is currently rolling out across all hotels worldwide.(The smell evokes the personality of the brand? Ed. Insert joke here.) The Westin retail line also includes the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath products, available through an in-room catalogue, website, and at Nordstrom's.
La Mer is Hawaii's only Five-Diamond Restaurant. Located in the landmark Halekulani hotel-- its proud global reputation sustained by its long tradition of gracious hospitality and royal service-- La Mer features Neoclassical French cuisine crafted with indigenous island ingredients. Chef Yves Garnier's internationally-acclaimed creations are served amidst breathtaking ocean views, a setting deemed No. 1 for Decor in a Zagat study of the best hotel restaurants. Expect to pay a pretty penny for this divine gourmet experience; La Grande Assiette Gourmande (an appetizer for two people which includes a chef's sampler of Hamachi and Ahi Tartare on a Taro Chip, Lobster Medallions, Fresh Hearts of Palm and Red Beet, Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Marinated Anchovies on Potato, Small Mussel Soup and Sauteed Foie Gras) is $72. Jacket required for gentlemen.
Take in the spectacular display of fall color, high in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia at The Homestead-- the National Historic Landmark which has played host to Princes and heads of state since 1776. Ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts, The Homestead is surrounded by gorgeous scenery, enhanced by nature's display of autumn foliage. Enjoy this splendor by foot, bike, horse, carriage or porch rocker. Or, take in the scenery while playing a round of golf on one of three championship courses. At the end of the day, "take the waters" at the world-class spa and historic Jefferson pools, where travelers since the 1700s have bathed in the bubbling hot springs. For select dates this Fall, The Homestead is offering rates as low as $135 a night with the "Hot Dates, Hot Rates" package, which includes luxurious accommodations, breakfast daily, traditional afternoon tea, nightly movies in the historic theater, use of pool and fitness center. Children 6-18 years of age stay free when sharing a room with a parent. (Children 5 and under may also eat free.)
The all-business class Maxjet Airways flies luxurious transatlantic service between London Stansted and New York and Washington. Maxjet planes (Boeing 767s) carry half their original capacity, so 102 passengers enjoy double the space per seat. The service is fantastic: gorgeous pre-departure lounges where beverages and canapes are served, multi-course gourmet meals, a Chef's pantry, premium liquor, on-demand entertainment, and deep-recline, all-leather seats onboard. Maxjet Airways features all-business class at affordable rates. To celebrate its first anniversary, Maxjet is offering an unbelievable fare sale of only $999 round trip from either New York JFK or Washington Dulles to London Stansted. Tickets must be booked between September 19 and October 1, 2006 for travel anytime between November 1, 2006 and February 28, 2007. The promotion code for the sale fare is ANNV06 and can be booked at Maxjet's Web site.