LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
March 12, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
See the nation's capital at its best, when the famous cherry trees are abloom. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the annual citywide event featuring daily cultural performances and special events, celebrates the 95th anniversary of the Japanese gift of the cherry blossom trees and the ongoing friendship between the citizens of the United States and Japan. This year the festival will be held from March 31-April 15, 2007, with a parade on April 14, 2007. The Madison, A Loews Hotel, celebrates the spring season with a special Cherry Blossom Package, from just $229 per night, based on double occupancy (excluding taxes). The package includes overnight accommodations for two in a Deluxe guest room, complimentary parking, and a special turn-down amenity.
March 9, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Tony McHale is the current General Manager at Keswick Hall in Keswick, Virginia - just outside Charlottesville. He took some time out of his busy schedule (you'd be busy too if you had an Arnold Palmer golf course at your office) to answer some of our questions.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?
Tony McHale: Keswick is like a country home. It is intimate and charming with gracious service and hospitality, in a breath taking setting, on a private 600 acre Estate.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Tony McHale: Private, yet just 15 minutes from downtown Charlottesville. Curl up with a book in front of one of the six fireplaces, or enjoy golf on our private Arnold Palmer Championship Golf course. Hot air ballooning, shooting, riding, fishing or biking are one of many pursuits.
Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed at Keswick Hall, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?
Tony McHale: Mic Jagger, James Brown, Michael J. Fox, Sissy Spacek, Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, and Paul Newman to name a few.
Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages?
Tony McHale: Balcony State Rooms 9 and 27: Both are corner rooms located on the 2nd floor. They have private balconies and exquisite views overlooking the Arnold Palmer Golf Course. They are requested time and time again by our regular guests.
Five Star Alliance: If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?
Tony McHale: A favorite Signature Room (standard) would be # 10. It has a full size balcony overlooking the Horizon Edge Pool and Arnold Palmer Golf Course.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Tony McHale: Strongest markets are New York and Washington, though people travel from all over including Europe.
Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?
Tony McHale: Check-in/out times, dining options (both on and off property), recreational activities, things to do in the area: shopping, wineries, etc, parking fee, and safety deposit box.
Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?
Celebrate Easter traditions at Kiawah and treat your family to a memorable stay at the AAA Five Diamond-rated Sanctuary Hotel or in a spacious private home or villa. The weather is spectacular, the variety of activities is endless, not to mention the fantastic Easter Dining and fun holiday festivities. (Sand sculpting contest, fabulous food and wine bar, live music, Easter Egg Hunt, and a special appearance by the Easter Bunny!)
Take advantage of the Sanctuary Easter Package starting from just $639 per room, which includes one night accommodation in a garden view room, buffet breakfast for two, and the Grand Easter buffet for two adults. With the Villa Easter Package at Kiawah, enjoy buffet breakfast for two, and Easter Buffet at Osprey Point (for two), along with the luxurious accommodations in a one bedroom scenic view villa. Starting from $382 per night, seven-night minimum stay required.
Warm weather, sunny skies and great conditions on the mountains. What could be finer than spring skiing at Vail? Named "Number 1 Ski Resort Hotel in North America" by the readers of Departures magazine, The Lodge at Vail boasts an unbeatable location, in the heart of Vail Village and at the base of the mountain. World-class skiing and snowboarding are right outside the front door. Book the Four-night Ski Package at The Lodge at Vail and enjoy rates as low as $229 per room. The package includes four nights accommodations, a four-day lift ticket for two to Vail and Beaver Creek, and daily breakfast for two at Cucina Rustica.
PS. Rates are so low partly because renovations are currently underway at The Lodge, including the addition of the new Avanyu Spa. Opening in late 2007, the 7,725-square-foot, state-of-the-art spa will feature 11 treatment rooms and world-class facilities.
The luxurious Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, the grand French-style Chateau surrounded by 3,500 acres of vineyards just 40 minutes from Atlanta, is also home to their very own Irish Pub. Paddy's will be hosting their 9th Annual St Patrick's Day Celebration on March 17, 2007. Sponsored by Guinness, the event will feature food stations with all your favorite Irish-fare and live music within the Winery Pavilion and within the Pub til last call. Ticket booths will be setup so all food and beverages will be sold festival-style using tickets. Starting at 12 p.m. After the festivities, retire to your lavish guest room, and cure next day's hang-over with an indulgent spa treatment in the world-renowned 33,000 square foot spa.
March 6, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Never say never. Disney and Four Seasons have just announced a partnership in Orlando. Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf courses (a mere 900 acres) will be converted into a luxury resort and golf community that will include a Four Seasons hotel. So side-by-side with the timeshare homes and a sprawling retail development, Four Seasons will entice guests to check into serious luxury. Slated to open in 2010, the new hotel will be situated in the northeast region of Walt Disney World. Apparently, this project will be comparable in size to Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. Let the magic begin.
Announcing the hottest new restaurant in South Beach: LA's trendy, celebrity-beloved Table 8 has moved in on Miami's dining scene (recently profiled in the NYT by Mark Bittman). Bon Appetit raved, "It's hard to find a place where the scene is hot, the chef is hotter, and the food is actually worth the hype..." Celebrity chef Govind Armstrong, who launched his career at the tender age of 13 with Wolfgang Puck at Spago, recently opened a branch of his LA hot spot in The Regent Hotel South Beach. The restaurant features a main dining room, private VIP dining room, and a wine room. There is also a cool 40-seat lounge situated beneath the hotel's glass-bottom pool. Be sure to order the salt-roasted Porterhouse Steak, hailed by the Robb Report as the Best of the Best (2004).
Manhattan's chic Bryant Park, midtown's first luxury designer hotel, is stylish, contemporary, and utterly fabulous. The Bryant Park suites are the essence of sophistication: French doors separate the living and bedroom areas, hardwood floors are adorned with Tibetan rugs, Travartine marble bathrooms are outfitted with both deep soaking tubs and separate showers, the technology is state-of-the-art (Bose Wave Music system, iPod docking station, etc). And of course the views from the hotel, housed in the Gothic-Revival-style American Radiator Building, are stupendous. Enjoy a weekend jaunt to NYC and score a fantastic rate with the Suite Escape package at Bryant Park. The package includes luxurious accommodations in a Bryant Park Suite, Raymond Hood Suite, or The Penthouse, chilled champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, full American breakfast for two served in-room daily, welcome amenity upon arrival, and complimentary late check-out at 1 pm. The package, excluding taxes, is priced from $659 until June 24, 2007; $599 from June 25-September 2, 2007; $699 September 5-December 31, 2007.
An American institution that has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce, The Willard InterContinental was recently listed as one of the most iconic buildings in the US. The Empire State Building and the White House topped the list of America's Favorite Architecture, according to a public poll of the 150 best works of architecture conducted by Harris Interactive and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The only DC hotel on the list, The Willard dominates the Pennsylvania corridor between the White House and the Capitol and was originally built in 1901 on the site of an older Willard property. At that time, Joseph Willard Jr. decided to create one of the city's first skyscrapers to "out-dazzle" anything else on the Washington horizon. The hotel's style? French Second Empire Beaux-Arts, distinguished by vast proportions and great columns, with an interior marked by huge chandeliers, inlaid mosaic marble tile floors, elaborate plaster work and painted and carved ceilings. Truly majestic. The newspapers of the day raved that The Willard was "The Handsomest of Washington Hotels," and today, guests are still dazzled by the hotel's architectural magnificence.
The Monday Night Chef's Table continue to dazzle diners at the ultra-cool Café Zuzu, located at Scottsdale's hip urban resort, Hotel Valley Ho. Since the hotel's opening in late 2005, Café Zuzu has been racking up the awards. Critics swoon over the stylish American comfort food, hand-crafted cocktails, and fun retro setting. The next Monday Night Chef's Table: The Great White-- Rediscovering Chardonnay on Monday, March 5. A note of explanation from the witty chef:
A few months ago, a Monday night theme was ABC (Anything But Chardonnay), a sentiment shared by some wine lovers in the '90s when overly oaky, flabby and overpriced renditions of the grape were emerging from California. It's not that we have anything against chardonnay; we simply wanted to expose our guests to some alternatives. The truth is though, when chardonnay is poorly done it's extremely difficult to pair with food. We do enjoy a well made chard however, so we thought it was high time to rediscover this extremely popular varietal and design a menu around it ("The Great White") just in time for summer.
The menu looks divine: Smoked Salmon (hearts of palm and garlic cream), Braised Pork Belly (roasted cipollini and foraged mushrooms), Pheasant Breast (truffle gnocchi, English peas and tomato confit), and Peach Tarte Tatin (honey mascarpone cream and blackberry nectar). From 6:30-8pm, priced at $42 per person.