October 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Americans will spend a record $511 billion dining out this year. And prices at the country's best restaurants are skyrocketing, in part to keep up with the rising cost of high-quality, locally-grown, artisanal ingredients. Forbes has teamed up with the Zagat Survey to determine the priciest restaurants in the US, and topping the list is Masa, the NYC sushi restaurant in the Time Warner Center where the price of dinner for one is about $446. Also on the list? Napa Valley's epic French Laundry ($254 per person), Chicago's futuristic Alinea (12 and 24 course menus are $125 and $175 respectively), Philadelphia's landmark Le Bec-Fin ($120), Alex at Steve Wynn's opulent Vegas hotel ($114), and elegant Virginia establishment The Inn at Little Washington ($141).
October 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hot off the press. Conde Nast Traveler has announced the results of the 19th Annual Readers' Choice Awards—the largest independent poll of consumers' preferences, second in size only to the US Census. (That's a whopping 21,000 travelers voting in this year's survey.)
The number one resort in the big US of A? The perennial preference, our esteemed favorite, the gorgeous Scottsdale resort: Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. The destination spa is surrounded by the magical desert landscape and red rock mountain peaks of the American Southwest, and everything about a stay here is luxurious. An altogether sumptuous experience.
For more info about the other Readers' Choice winners (cruises, airlines, top cities), check out the November 2006 issue of the magazine, which hits newsstands on October 24. Or tune to the Travel Channel on October 25 at 8 pm (ET/PT) for the premiere of the program titled Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards.
You are invited to a special culinary event at the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Georgia's celebrated French-style Chateau with a full-production winery renowned for its award-winning premium vintages. On November 3, 2006, the Chateau will host a fun-filled evening of exquisite cuisine and fine wine in the Cask Room, with Executive Chef Marc Suennemann and Winemaker Dan Baldwin. Enjoy a beautifully-prepared Five-Course Dinner for Two, luxurious overnight accommodations, a specially labeled bottle of Chateau Elan wine, and breakfast for two the following morning at Versailles. Seating is limited and the cost of the two-person package is $469 (excluding tax). Situated just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, the Chateau Elan is surrounded by 3,500 acres of picturesque vineyards. In addition to the winery, the resort boasts a fabulous spa and dining establishments.
Music City is home to many lively restaurants, bars, and nightlife where famed entertainers first made their mark. But Nashville's also full of museums, exciting attractions, culture, and art (try symphony, ballet, opera…) And the city positively comes alive during the holiday season. Visitors to Nashville can enjoy the Ray Charles exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Broadway's The Lion King at the Tennessee Performing Art's Center, Victorian Holiday Tours at Belle Meade Plantation, and the Titans vs. Patriots game on New Year's Eve. Book a room at the AAA five diamond award-winning Hermitage Hotel and experience the exceptional personalized service and first-rate facilities cited by the Robb Report when naming it one of the world's best luxury hotels. After a $19 million renovation, the historic Hermitage hotel shines as the city's finest, with its exquisite stained glass lobby ceiling, marble columns and staircases, and Russian walnut paneling. The elegant hotel is offering festive packages for the holiday season.
Stay slopeside at the luxurious Pines Lodge, and dine like a king at the Grouse Mountain Grill, the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant that features stunning views of Beaver Creek Resort. Zagat raves about the joint as the best in the region, and Grouse is the highlight of the annual Beaver Creek Culinary Festival. Executive Chef Ted Schneider prepares elegant game, beef, fish and fowl with a signature rustic style, served graciously in a warm, welcoming environment. For a divine taste of Grouse Mountain, try the recipe for honey & lemon venison osso buco with goat cheese risotto at home:
Honey & Lemon Venison Osso Buco
with Goat Cheese Risotto
8 venison shanks, cut "osso buco" style
3 T vegetable oil
1 cup lemon peel, fresh
2 cups lemon juice
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sauce
Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper venison shanks. Dredge in flour and fry in vegetable oil, turning to make sure both sides have browned. Place in a baking dish. Add lemon juice, honey, lemon peel and brown sauce. Bake at 350° covered for 1 to 2 hours or until "fork" tender. Skim off excess fat, and serve over the goat cheese risotto with some of the sauce.
Goat Cheese Risotto
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock, hot
4 T butter
6 oz goat cheese, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and stir until translucent. Add rice, stir until coated with oil. Add wine and simmer until evaporated. Add half chicken stock, simmer until evaporated. Add remaining stock and simmer until evaporated until rice is soft on the outside with a chewy center. If rice is crunchy, add another cup of stock and allow it to evaporate. Repeat if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
The dream team has been scheming to open a stunning all-season resort in the mountains of Idaho, and now the Fairmont Tamarack development is official. Agassi Graf Development LLC has partnered with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, who will manage the luxury hotel and residences in two locations: Tamarack's village and a mid-mountain site. The terrain is breathtaking (check out the sleek virtual brochure) and the resort promises extraordinary skiing, excellent fly fishing, a challenging Robert Trent Jones, Jr. golf course (with new Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf), white water rafting and watersports on the nearby rivers and Lake Cascade. To quote the daring duo:
Time together with family is one of the most treasured things in our lives. We value the days we spend together and the quality of the moments we share. We have discovered a location in the heart of central Idaho that creates the perfect backdrop for exceptional experiences and precious memories. Tamarack Resort, with its all-season landscape, provides families like ours an active outdoor lifestyle and a chance to appreciate its surrounding beauty. Fairmont Tamarack is our opportunity to share this extraordinary experience with you.
This "outdoor enthusiast's dream" is scheduled to open in 2008.
The most prestigious address in the city of Philadelphia, the AAA Five-Diamond Rittenhouse hotel, is also ranked among the world's finest places to stay. And its intimate spa, the Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon, has been awarded as one of the top five spas in the nation. Located on the hotel's third floor, the spa is a gorgeous and serene sanctuary in the heart of the bustling metropolis. As featured in the September 2006 issue of American Spa Magazine, the 10,100 square-ft Aveda-concept spa offers a glimpse of "the good life" for those fortunate enough to be pampered inside. It is a complete health and beauty complex, offering a full menu of treatments and services (from massage to haircutting and styling), along with a health club and nail salon. The Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon is the first in the area to feature a Vichy shower room. With its menu designed for high-end pampering, this is a favorite for groups of professionals and bridal parties.
No joke. Starwood has just announced an exclusive launch party for their aloft hotel brand with a "3-D computer generated property inside a virtual world." Preview the virtual aloft hotel in Second Life, the "virtual online world where trendsetters are flocking to exchange ideas, egos and virtual property using "avatars," or highly-customized 3D representations of themselves." Starwood's touting it as a "groundbreaking event," and Ben Folds will appear live at the virtual aloft to play brand new tracks from his upcoming release, supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp, due in stores October 24th. To attend the big bash, send an e-mail to frontdesk at virtualaloft.com and request a "VIP invitation." The launch party will take place on October 19th, from 7-9pm EDT. You can also check out the development and building progress for aloft on their blog.
Starting in January, Cathay Pacific will unveil some swanky cabin upgrades. First class-fliers will go gaga over the new seat that can be transformed from armchair, to chaise lounge, to bed (and an extra-long and wide one at that!) Business class passengers will appreciate the seats that recline to fully flat beds. And even the economy folks will enjoy a new seat, designed to let passengers recline without intruding on those seated behind them. (Plus economy fliers will get video and audio on-demand.) This is hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic's announcement—reported by the folks at Mobissimo—of the airline's $25 million investment for newly-designed seats.
October 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Talk about a Grand Slam. Kiawah Island Golf Resort has been racking up the awards lately. It's been selected as the Best Golf Resort in the US by Travel and Leisure Golf. Readers of Travel and Leisure Family recently rated Kiawah as the Top Family Resort in the East. Golf Digest awarded the Ocean Course a perfect 5 stars rating in the "Best Places to Play," and Golf Magazine ranked the Ocean Course as No. 3 in the "Top 100 You Can Play," ahead of Pinehurst and Torrey Pines. And Tennis Magazine ranked Kiawah as the number one resort. Wow.
After $177 million in renovations since 1997, including the addition of the gorgeous luxury hotel The Sanctuary, Kiawah has dazzled its guests with gracious hospitality and superb facilities. Families are attracted to the excellent recreational activities, including beach, biking, tennis, and fabulous children's programs. And golfers are lured to the five world-championship courses, including the famed Ocean Course, recently redesigned by Pete Dye with a $4 million overhaul (the 18th green is now right next to the ocean). There's a brand new, 24,000 sq-foot Club House in the works, with wrap-around porches overlooking the dunes, slated to open in May 2007 in time for the PGA Senior Open Championship. Kiawah has a number of excellent Fall Golf Packages, which include three nights accommodations, breakfast and dinner, and all greens fees for three rounds of golf. Starting from $313, per person, per night.