October 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Welcome to the "Greatest City in America." These days Balty is a shining star, welcoming tourists in droves to the glittering Inner Harbor. By far the best Baltimore restaurant for exceptional cuisine and service is Hampton's, located in the award-winning Intercontinental Harbor Court Hotel directly on the waterfront. The dining room at Maryland's premier restaurant is genteel and elegant, featuring antique mahogany breakfronts, Chinese laquered screens, overstuffed armchairs, and fine art. But the contemporary American cuisine is what makes the restaurant worth the trip. Incorporating only the freshest local ingredients of the season, Hampton's is renowned for its signature dishes like lobster bisque, broiled Maryland crab cakes with a grilled Granny Smith apple slaw, and grilled Hereford Rib-Eye with potato and wild mushroom millefeuille. The restaurant has been recognized for excellence by Gourmet, Zagat, Conde Nast Traveler, and DiRoNa, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America. Open nightly for dinner and Sunday for Champagne Brunch. Dress is business casual; jacket preferred but not required.
Cool terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, stone arches, and traditional wooden doors… The elegance and charm of Colonial Mexico beckons at Casa de Sierra Nevada. The luxurious boutique hotel, acquired by Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruises in February, is a historical landmark, dating from 1580. The hotel is comprised of a collection of colonial mansions centered around cool, flowering courtyards, and consists of 33 deluxe rooms and suites. Highlighting the distinctive original architecture, these rooms are each unique, boasting rich art and antiques, exquisite fabrics, tiled bathrooms, working fireplaces, and private terraces overlooking San Miguel. Recognized as one of the finest hotels in the world, Casa de Sierra Nevada has an impressive list of accolades: Conde Nast Traveler World's Best Awards and Gold List, Zagat's 2006 Top International Hotels, Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, Travel and Leisure T500, Robb Report, NYT…(whew).
The hotel is reason enough to visit this magnificent city, steeped in rich history and culture. But Orient Express has just announced an exciting new enticement: the acquisition of the Sazón Cooking School, which will now be part of the hotel. Guests learn to cook with the masters of Mexican cuisine, with a variety of programs ranging from one hour cooking classes on local specialties to week-long culinary packages. In addition to featuring regional culinary talent, the hotel will also include a "Toque Travels" series, featuring renowned chefs from around the world, such as Chef Raymond Blanc of Orient-Express's Michelin two star, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire, England.
With seven-miles of powdery white beaches and swaying palms, the all-suite Edgewater Beach Hotel is the ideal setting for an autumn getaway. Elegant and luxurious, yet comfortably casual, the beachfront resort has received a dramatic renovation, with newly enhanced lobby and restaurant (Coast serves coastal cuisine overlooking the Gulf of Mexico). Guest rooms are all about easy-going luxury: well-appointed, spacious, with separate kitchens and living areas, and balconies with sweeping views. Activities are plentiful—biking, sailing, snorkeling—though you may prefer to relax by the sparkling, heated pool, cocktail in hand. Now is the perfect time for a Fall escape. Because the hotel's in the process of adding a new 2-lane lap pool and refurbishing the garden courtyard area, current rates are a steal: try $179 per night in a one-bedroom Gulf Suite.
Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale's hip urban resort, is home to one of the most stellar restaurants in town. Recently praised by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of "America's Top Tables" and recognized in Phoenix Magazine as one of the "Best New Restaurants" of 2006, Cafe Zuzu serves contemporary American comfort food and handcrafted cocktails in an ultra-cool, retro setting. This Fall, the restaurant launched its Monday Nights Chef's Table, a gourmet extravaganza featuring one supplier, regional American Cuisine, one particular ingredient, paired with wine... every Monday night. Themes for November's Chef's Tables include "The Fleeting Fruit of Fall: Pomegranates, Persimmons, and Quince" (Nov 6) and "In Celebration of Oysters: The Best of Both Coasts" (Nov 27). Thanksgiving promises to be a feast to remember, with a delectable four-course menu including their famous slow-roasted Young's Farm turkey, awesome side dishes, and warm, fluffy Parkerhouse rolls. Mmmm.
Based in Geneva, PrivatAir is a private-jet charter airline which operates premium class jets exclusively for business class flights. Currently PrivatAir operates six days a week out of Zurich, Dusseldorf and Munich to Newark and Chicago on behalf of Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines. When it launched this service in 2002, PrivatAir revolutionized the concept of business class travel with the world's first intercontinental business-class-only service, with planes configured in a single business class for long routes. Come December, PrivatAir will take delivery of a long-range Boeing 767, equipped with 56 first-class seats and a dining room to seat eight. This joins a fleet of over 100 business jets ranging from light planes to big Boeing jets.
Embark on some exciting culinary adventures at The Peninsula Chicago, where Shanghai Terrace (specializing in Shanghainese and Cantonese delicacies) and the newly-renovated Avenues (contemporary cuisine served from an exhibition kitchen) woo diners with discriminating palates. With the Peninsula Chicago Cookery Classes, learn superb culinary skills from two of the top chefs in Chitown. The classes provide guests with the opportunity to prepare four signature dishes from either Shanghai Terrace or Avenues, recently named "Restaurant of the Year 2005" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Learn how to prepare mouth-watering dishes served in Avenues under the professional guidance of Graham Elliot Bowles, recently named one of the "Ten Best New Chefs" by Food and Wine magazine, and nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2006. Or master the craft behind Shanghai Terrace's delicious dishes-- from classic dim sum to kung pao chicken-- with Executive Chef Terry Crandall.
October 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Since 1766, The Homestead has provided a luxurious escape for Princes, heads of state and sports fanatics. Located in Virginia's Allegheny mountains, the National Historic Landmark is now ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts. Folks have been flocking here since the 1700s to "take the waters" at the historic hot springs and naturally-heated pools. And they continue to flock to this timeless retreat to enjoy the world-class facilities and beautiful setting. It's the ideal spot to start or preserve a family tradition (The Homestead makes it easy with endless activities for the whole family to enjoy). Here's the skinny on all the fun holiday happenings:
Big Band Weekend: November 10-12, 2006. Dining, dancing and absolute luxury packages starting at just $314
Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebration: Special dining, holiday events and plenty of holiday spirit. Packages starting at $295.
New Year's Eve Celebration: A year that starts this way is sure to be a great one. Dance, dine and celebrate the arrival of 2007! Packages start at $375.
October 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Announcing the 1 Hotel and Residences, the brainchild of Barry Sternlicht, former big shot at Starwood. (As HotelChatter points out, this is the same mastermind behind the yet-to-be-seen Crillon lux hotel brand.) The new hotel brand aims to compete directly with the St. Regis (Starwood's lux label), Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons brands. And Sternlicht's setting his sights high: these hotels will have a "level of amenities and service lofty enough to earn a coveted five-star ranking from Mobil Travel Guide." Hotel launch locations will include Seattle, Scottsdale, Paris, Mammoth Mountain (Cali), and Fort Lauderdale. It's a crowded field. In South Florida, for example, the St. Regis Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Residences has been under construction since 2000 and is expected to open soon, and other luxury properties—including hotels by Trump and W—are in the works. (Not to mention the already existing five-star hotels.) How will 1 Hotels distinguish itself? It's being billed as the first ultra-luxurious, eco-friendly global hotel brand. 1 is planning to donate one percent of revenue from each hotel to local environmental groups, and the NRDC will serve as the environmental adviser.
Pictured: St. Regis, Fort Lauderdale
Yep, it's in a mall. But Maestro restaurant, housed in the Ritz-Carlton at Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia, is worth it. (Besides, Tysons is pretty swanky as far as malls are concerned.) This is contemporary Italian cuisine at its tasty and artistic best. A winner of the exclusive AAA five-diamond award, Maestro is a celebrated and highly-acclaimed venue which features an elegant open kitchen where guests are witness to food preparation that's more like an exquisite culinary performance. Zagat hails Chef Fabio Trabocchi as a "star," his talents matched by the fantastic sommelier Vincent Feraud. The restaurant's accolades are numerous and it's really no wonder: the menu is divided into Trabocchi's four culinary inspirations-- La Creazione, La Tradizione, L'Evoluzione and I Colori dell'Orto—showcasing the freshest of ingredients in the chef's creative interpretation of the regional Italian dishes that he grew up with. Plus there's an impressive wine cellar brimming with 800 wines from Italy, France, and the US.
It's on the market for a whopping $70 million. According to the Times UK, the penthouse is being marketed as the most expensive apartment in the world:
The French chateau inspired flat has 16 rooms, including five master bedrooms, 10 baths, and separate guest suites and staff accommodation. But there is no need to cook. The Pierre's five star hotel service is available 24 hours a day.
This could be the best spot in Manhattan. The Pierre, New York's landmark hotel, is located on Central Park at Fifth Avenue, steps away from all the best NYC attractions. The Penthouse boasts easily the best views in the city: sweeping vistas of Central Park and the city skyline.