September 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
LA's most prestigious address, the Mobil Five-Star award winning Hotel Bel-Air, is beloved for its special wine maker dinners and gourmet celebrations offered throughout the year. Don't miss the upcoming Italian Weekend with Anthony Dias Blue, one of the most influential wine, food and lifestyle personalities in the US (his work in various media is circulated to more than 50 million global customers each month). The weekend of October 13-15th, 2006 will be an Italian extravaganza at this elegant Beverly Hills hideaway, including two multi-course Italian dinners with wine pairings and an incredible Sunday brunch. Additionally, the Saturday program includes a morning trip to the farmer's market followed by lunch and cooking class with Chef Bruno. The entire weekend, inclusive of luxurious accommodations and tickets to all events, is $1,500 for two.
Clinging to a cliff high above the Sea of Zihuatanejo Bay, La Casa Que Canta is Mexico's top-rated resort, bestowed the ultimate honor by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report as a Grand Award Winner. The 25-suite exclusive resort boasts two of the most elegant swimming pools found anywhere in the world: linger in the Freshwater Infinity Pool, overlooking the bay, and soak in stunning panoramic views of the sea and sky. The hotel also features a new spa, where guests enjoy luxurious treatments, and excellent al fresco restaurant and bar. The adults-only resort is known for its superlative service and hospitality; the accommodating staff can organize deep-sea fishing, watersports, and golf excursions. The Moonbeams in Paradise Package, valid until December 19, 2006, offers four nights accommodation, two welcome margaritas, special welcome flower petal design, roundtrip airport transfers by taxi, and a special and private candlelight with tasting menu and a bottle of wine. Starting from $2,406 per room, per stay, inclusive of tax and service charge.
In the heart of the charming city of Santa Fe, La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa offers luxurious adobe-style accommodations in a magical garden setting. Boasting numerous accolades, the boutique hotel is oft considered the best place to stay in the city. Just blocks from the historic Plaza and beautiful art galleries, La Posada proudly displays its Southwestern culture: many of its rooms feature kiva fireplaces and patios, walls are adorned with original works of art from local galleries, and the full-service Avanyu Spa incorporates indigenous ingredients of the Southwest in its treatments. Take advantage of the Spa Package at La Posada and enjoy world-class accommodations, breakfast at the AAA four diamond award-winning Fuego restaurant, and one 50-minute spa treatment, starting at just $199 a night!
Set against the spectacular backdrop of Arizona's McDowell Mountains and the sun-kissed desert, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a luxurious AAA Five-Diamond oasis, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, and home to one of the best spas in North America. Designed to reflect Arizona's Spanish Colonial heritage, the magnificent resort features three award-winning restaurants, two 18-hole Championship Golf Courses (one of which is home to the Annual PGA Tour FBR Open), five swimming pools (including the Sonoran Splash pool with waterslides), and a premier tennis facility with seven hard courts. Usually this gem is booked solid for the holidays. But if you make your reservations early, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is offering bargain prices. Book a December visit (Dec 18-28, 2006) by October 9, and you can score a nightly rate of $225 including a $50 food credit per day, access to fitness center, supervised kids' activities, and oodles of holiday events. If you book by October 31, you can lock in a price of $249 a night.
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.
September 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.