July 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The fabled stretch of California coastline—recently featured in the fantastic NYT piece "Road Trip: Chasing the Perfect Taco up the California Coast"—has long been celebrated as one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in the world. In the midst of this rugged beauty, rising above the craggy cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn provides a spectacular view of the Pacific and one of the best dining experiences in the country at Sierra Mar Restaurant. Located just off Highway One, the Post Ranch Inn is a romantic sanctuary of rustic elegance, with 30 guest rooms featuring wood-burning fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, complimentary minibars, private decks, and Pacific and mountain views. The luxurious Spa has been featured as one of the world's best in Travel and Leisure magazine. Enjoy early-morning yoga classes, bask in the sun by the pools, go whale-watching, or participate in a guided nature walk. The award winning Sierra Mar restaurant offers an awe-inspiring setting overlooking the coast, from its perch 1,200 feet above the Pacific. The all-glass dining room is possibly the best place along this coast to enjoy its incomparable beauty.
Things are pretty riotous in Key West these days. The annual Hemingway Days Festival—replete with a Papa look-alike contest, loads of literary readings, short story competition, and fishing tournament—has come and gone. Resident locals are anxiously watching the sky (and nightly news) for hurricane warnings. And the (in)famous Hilton Key West resort and Marina—where the nightly sunset celebrations take place with street perfomers like the famed Dominique and his Flying House Cats, much to the delight of the cruise ship passengers— has been reflagged as The Westin Key West Resort and Marina. By the end of the month, the new brand name will be flying high, and during the next two years, the hotel will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation "to meet the upper-upscale standards of the Westin brand." The folks at Westin are also planning the Sunset Key Guest Cottages at the Westin Resort: 37 luxurious residential-style accommodations situated on a private island just 500 yards off-shore.
Experience heaven on earth in scenic Maui, and score a free room night at the same time! The award-winning Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, majestically perched on a crescent of white sand overlooking the Pacific, is considered one of the world's finest resorts. Enjoy the island's largest guest rooms (80 percent boast dazzling ocean views), peerless service, exquisite dining at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, and championship golf at your doorstep on the spectacular Wailea Emerald Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, and named one of the country's top-ten new resort courses by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest after its opening in 1994. Guests also enjoy the excellent fitness facilities, beautiful beach, spa, tennis courts, and snorkeling and scuba diving. At the large fountain pool (pictured), guests are spoiled with ice water, chilled towels, refreshing snack amenities, and Evian water spritz, from the doting pool attendants. From August 27-December 18, 2006, take advantage of the 5th Night Free Promotion, an excellent value during a great time to visit Hawaii. Blackout dates are from September 13-16, and November 18-26. Applicable to all room and suite categories except Mountainside and Maile Suite.
So what if its development recently changed hands? Chicago's in store for an humongous tower, a huge twisting mass of metal designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, that will sit right on the lake. Only the Burj Tower, under construction in Dubai, will be taller. Reaching 2,000 feet at its spire, the 124-storey building will house a five star hotel and 300 luxury condominiums, ranging in price from $600,000 to $5 million. It's scheduled for completion in 2010. Via NYT
Doggies are going to love this one. While their owners are away, pampered pooches enjoy the plushest of suites and the finest five star service at the PetSmart PetHotel in Bethesda, MD-- all for just 23 bucks a night. According to Yahoo! News:
The doggie hotel is nothing like kennels of yore: in this inn there is lactose-free ice cream, indoor recreation, and for 10 more dollars a night, pooch can stay in a roomier "suite" with a television set showing an "animal related movie all day," said Vince Malanaphy, who manages the Bethesda PetsHotel.
A lot of the lucky canine guests are day boarders; poodles and labradors can "socialize" at Doggie Day Camp here in Bethesda for only 20 bucks a day.
At the end of a country lane near Damariscotta, at the tip of the peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point is perched dramatically above the crashing surf, a quintessential image of Maine. Here, the landscape and beautiful summer cottages are part of a quaint Down East community that houses one of the best restaurants in Maine. The Bradley Inn is a century-old Bed and Breakfast that delights guests with gracious hospitality and charming accommodations. Its 16 gracious guest rooms feature four poster cherry beds, fireplaces, New England period furnishings, and garden or ocean views. Guests enjoy biking through the area's great natural beauty, croquet on the lawn in the afternoons, and canoeing the local coves and waterways. In the evenings, guests are spoiled at the exceptional dining room, winner of the Wine Spectator award of excellence. As described by Food and Wine Magazine:
(Chef) Carinhas has an eclectic take on local products that lifts them to another level altogether—like big-bellied Maine clams that she fries until crisp and serves with an anchovy mayonnaise, or Atlantic halibut, seared and presented with a Tuscan contorno of white beans and bitter greens.
The city by the bay offers an unforgettable summer getaway: boutique hopping in Union Square, soaking up the sun at Dolores Park, sipping an espresso at Cafe Trieste in North Beach, touring SOMA's exciting museums, strolling through the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. And San Francisco is always noticeably cooler in the summer months, a soothing change from the broiling heat waves on the East Coast. While exploring San Francisco's many charms, stay at the Four Seasons and get a fourth night free! The hotel is ideally located in the heart of downtown, just two blocks from Union Square, the Financial District, the Moscone Convention Center, and the Museum of Modern Art. The building features floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase stunning views of the city and San Francisco Bay. Dine at Seasons Restaurant and catch a glimpse into the art of California cuisine with the open display kitchen. Pamper yourself with a green tea and ginger wrap at the Spa. Or work out in the world-class fitness facility at Sports Club/LA, the best health club in the city. And of course the hotel offers all of the luxury and impeccable service that one expects at a Four Seasons.
We've been waiting with bated breath. (Well, that's not entirely accurate. Some are aghast at the changing face of Tahoe.) But the day has arrived at Northstar-at-Tahoe: construction for the area's first five-star ski-in/ski-out resort is now underway. The new $300-million resort project, which will also include residences, is scheduled to open in 2009. The Ritz-Carlton Highlands will have 173-rooms and a 20,000 square foot spa, featuring pool and treatment rooms with mountain views, and oodles of meeting space.
The world-famous Broadmoor—adorned with AAA's five-diamond award for 30 consecutive years, and Mobil's five-star award for even longer-- has been a vacation destination for its long and distinguished history. Since 1918, The Broadmoor has charmed guests as one of the world's premier resorts, the darling of presidents and celebrities. Located at the foot of the Rockies, surrounded by miles of hiking and biking trails around Cheyenne Lake, this Grand Dame offers the finest accommodations, services, and recreational facilities, including three championship golf courses, nine plexi-pave tennis courts, the excellent spa, and award-winning dining at Charles Court. This summer, take advantage of Summer Escape Rates as low as $250 a night (double occupancy), with added discounts of 10 percent in the spa, 20 percent on golf fees, and 35 percent on suites. This is a steal, as summer rates normally fall between $350-400 a night.
Via Travel and Leisure Hot Deals
Nestled in hundreds of acres of jungle in the Yucatan Peninsula's Riviera Maya, Maroma is a secluded hideaway on the edge of the turquoise Caribbean. An Orient-Express Hotel, Maroma reopened in February 2006 with many luxurious renovations, including the addition of eight Sian Nah Suites and a new restaurant. Though only 20 minutes from the Cancun International Airport, the resort is tucked away in a nature reserve, with extensive coral reefs located just offshore from the long stretches of sugary white sand. The 65 elegant rooms and suites are situated within lush gardens, each with open-air terrace, just steps away from the beach, pool, jacuzzi, and the lavish Kinan Spa—where guests are pampered with specialty spa services in open-air palapas with private gardens. From now until November 16, 2006, stay four nights, but only pay for three! This special package includes welcome cocktail, a snorkeling trip to the beautiful reef, use of fitness center, airport transfers and daily a la carte breakfast. Special offer rates start at $1,290 for a Garden Room.
Maroma is also offering a series of Yoga retreats, comprised of daily progressive yoga classes, meditation sessions, spa treatments, a healthy gourmet cooking class, and a menu which includes healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These six-day Yoga Retreats include accommodations for five nights, Holistic Health Advisor Consultations, welcome reception and dinner, daily meditation, daily spa breakfast, daily yoga classes, daily spa treatment, one Healthy Spa gourmet cooking class, trip to Koba, snorkeling excursion, and farewell reception and dinner. Double occupancy rate is $4,475 in Garden Room. Yoga retreats are limited to a maximum of ten people in order to ensure personalized attention. Maroma is now taking reservations for the August 24 to 29, 2006, October 19 to 24, November 9 to 14, 2006, May 3 to 8, 2007, and June 7 to 12, 2007 retreats.