April 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After three years of construction and $350 million spent on resort redevelopment, Georgia's exclusive Sea Island hot spot is ready to dazzle. The elegant 1928 hotel-- regularly hosting royalty and international dignitaries through the 20th century-- was ready for some work, and the new Mediterranean style main building (with the meticulous restoration of the legendary Spanish Lounge) is absolutely stunning. Guests are already shelling out the dough for coveted guest rooms, the summer season promising to be booked solid. And who can blame them? The epitome of Old World elegance, these rooms feature wood beamed ceilings, 500-thread count Italian sheets, Turkish stone baths, Bulgari White Tea toiletries, antiques and original art, and are draped in custom-designed hand-loomed Turkish rugs. Of course, there's also the appeal of the attentive private butler service and impeccable Southern hospitality. Additional developments are in store for this award-winning resort: the construction of a new Spa at Sea Island is slated to open in October, and the Beach Club is expected in Summer 2007.
The Cloister at Sea Island, Five Star Alliance
Take your pick between Ritz-Carlton's two, sun-kissed Naples hotels and get fantastic discounts this summer. From your guestroom balcony in the AAA Five Diamond Award Golf Resort, gaze out over the rolling green of the 36-hole Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Course. Or if golf isn't your thing-- take a room with a Gulf View at the elegant Ritz-Carlton Hotel Naples, a grand seaside resort with exceptional amenities including spa, pool, and gorgeous beach with watersports. Between June 1 and September 30, the "Summer Sand and Sun" package starts at a mere $159 per night at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort and $199 at Ritz-Carlton Naples. Additionally, they're giving out resort credits left and right: stay for three nights and get a $100 resort credit (for dining, spa treatments, resort apparel in the gift shop, go wild!), five night stays score $200 credits and when you stay a full week: $300.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples, Five Star Alliance
Ritz-Carlton Naples, Five Star Alliance
Starting Friday June 16, gourmands unite in Aspen for three days of pure hedonistic cooking pleasure: wine tastings, cooking demos, and loads of special events. Food and Wine's Aspen Classic is orchestrated by leading star chefs like Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pepin, and Wolfgang Puck, and oenophile/wine extraordinaires like Steve Olson, Joshua Wesson, and Daniel Johnnes. Cooking demonstrations vary from preparing day-to-day dishes to perfecting culinary masterpieces: "Del Posto Favorites" with Mario Batali, "Sunday Suppers" with Suzanne Goin, "Easy Entertaining" with Jacques and Claudine Pepin, "Spago Classics" with Wolfgang Puck, "Real Creole" with Emeril Lagasse, "Shrimp Master Class" with Ming Tsai, "Rib University" with Steven Raichlen… (drooling, yet?) The wine-tasting seminars are equally as enticing, showcasing wines from Southern Italy to Washington State, New Zealand to Chile.
Storytelling teas, Easter baskets, premium chocolate candies, Easter Egg Hunt and Roll, and an epic Easter Brunch. The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is positively hopping with merriment this weekend. Of all these festivities, here's a taste of what's in store: On both Friday and Saturday, at 3 pm, children will be delighted with a magical storytelling tea where "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" is brought to life with decorations and delicious delights ($40 per person). The classic Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Sunday morning at 10 am on the 8th floor landing, hosted by the Easter Bunny, and his assistant Chickie. The Egg Roll takes place at the same time in the State Room. While the kids are having the time of their lives, their parents can indulge in chocolate-tasting at ethel's chocolate lounge in the hotel lobby. And even learn the art of premium fondue. The best part of the weekend? The traditional Easter Brunch at Seasons Restaurant, where the award-winning chef and staff devise over 100 specialty brunch items to dazzle the palate. At the six different stations, enjoy dishes like Leg of Spring Lamb with Mint Pesto, Tomato Crusted Filet of Halibut or a Salad of Chilled Green and White Asparagus with Aigrellette Sauce. Seatings begin at 11:00 am and reservations are $85.00 per adult and $20.00 per child 12 and under. Take advantage of the special Easter Weekend rate, with your prepaid purchase of Easter Brunch or the Storytelling Tea. Rates begin at $305 per night, and include lovely children's Easter baskets, stuffed to the brim with goodies.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Official Site
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Five Star Alliance
April 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
While visiting family and friends in Nashville, head to the city's treasured landmark, the Hermitage Hotel, for its famous Easter Brunch set in the historic lobby. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the luxurious Hermitage has racked up numerous awards, including AAA Five Diamond status and Robb Report's Best of the Best. Take advantage of the Easter Brunch package, starting at $279, and relax in splendor in a richly-furnished guest room, with its sumptuous fine thread count fabrics and all marble bathrooms.
In addition, the hotel is offering a Mother's Day Brunch Package that is sure to delight the most discriminating of guests. Brunch for two in the historic lobby features selections from the Capitol Grille. During mother's overnight stay, she will be spoiled with the hotel's Contemporary Bath Service, prepared by the Bath Concierge, with oversized plush towels, a bottle of fresh spring water, seasonal fruit, candles, rose petals, slippers, a luxurious robe, and a selection of aromatic bath salts and bath gels. Rates start at $349.
The Hermitage, Official Site
The Hermitage, Five Star Alliance
April 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
For those in the know, this boutique hotel occupies the 28th-42nd floors of the landmark Waldorf-Astoria, just steps from Park Avenue in Midtown. It's a luxurious space with a comfortable residential ambience, with excellent personalized service and amenities for the business traveler. This spot is all about convenience: with a superb location and access to the Astoria Lounge, full-service business center and Plus One Fitness Center. The Waldorf Towers is now offering VIP access to MoMA, so that you can skip the lines and get admission to the museum at any time. The MoMA VIP Ticket package starts at $419 per night, and includes accommodations, two VIP tickets (children under 16 are free), and discount vouchers for the Midtown bistro Brasserie. Valid until Dec. 31, 2006.
April 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The clever folks at Bliss add lots of whimsy and wit to their product line and divine treatments at their Spas dotted across North America and Britain. Take the hangover herbie-- designed to be the "perfect pick for post-reveling recuperation"-- with its purifying essential oil and wrap-up, revitalizing mask, foot massage, anti-migraine massage, skin-saving oxygen spray and Pure Inventions Green Tea Concentrates. I mean, how cool is that? I'd venture to say cutting-edge cool. And the gimmicky stuff-- movie-while-you-manicure nail stations, rhythm and blues tunes and the trademark brownie buffet-- is as fun and innovative as their unique spa language (blissage, def: "a massage performed at Bliss.")
Their newest spa debut: a 7,000 sq ft facility in the W Westwood. Ten treatment rooms, luxurious men's and women's lounges, and an in-spa store. Not to mention the nifty treatments, including the famous Triple Oxygen Treatment (a facial that includes cleansing, exfoliating, a fruit acid peel, oxygen wrap, a calming oxygen and milk mask, and hydrating enzymatic wrap), the double choc pedicure, the firm fiancee, and the whopper of them all: the premarital pore-fection (a series of six monthly Triple Oxygen Treatments). You've got to check these guys out. The spa menu isn't exactly a chore to read.
W Los Angeles-Westwood, Official Site
W Los Angeles-Westwood, Five Star Alliance
Change is afoot in Ft. Lauderdale, where the Intracoastal Waterway will be transformed with a new megayacht marina and five-star hotel. Just when we thought southern Florida couldn't get any more developed (satiric novelist Carl Hiassan is no doubt rolling his eyes at this one), the $100 million project will double the docks in size, adding three-phase power, WiFi and broadband, water, and pump-out stations. The adjacent hotel--the old Marina Marriott-- will get a $50 million infusion to debut as the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club. LXR Luxury Resorts aims to create the country's leading marina resort, stocked with 579 guest rooms, 33 yacht slips (for boats up to 300 feet), and 20,000 sq ft of meeting space. Spring specials are as low as $109 a night.
These days, more and more grandparents are traveling with grandchildren. The statistics indicate that Grand-pere and Mamie have more discretionary income and the free time to spend it in, thus one in every five trips taken with children is with Gramps. Where are these families going? Family cruises of the Galapagos with Ocean Adventures, operator of the luxurious small ship The Eclipse, and luxurious European castles such as the Crillon in Paris, Ashford Castle in Ireland, and Beau Rivage Palace in Switzerland-- all offering plenty of fun activities for kids, and specialized amenities like children's bathrobes and delightful kid's menus.
Via Cullen International
One of our favorite DC establishments-- the landmark hotel The Madison-- has been acquired by Loews Hotels, and we're excitedly awaiting the refurbishment of the brand new Madison, A Loews Hotel. The Madison has long radiated classic, refined elegance-- its Georgian, Federal and American Empire furnishings and superb service symbols of a bygone era. After all, this is the hotel that has hosted every President since John F. Kennedy, as well as international heads of state and business leaders. And it's got a killer location. The Madison will no doubt be made even more lavish with Loews trademark touches. Plans are in the works for new flat screen TVs, luxurious terry products, and signature suites.
The Madison, A Loews Hotel, Official Site
The Madison, A Loews Hotel, Five Star Alliance