May 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The award-winning resort located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia represents the pinnacle of ultra-luxury and elegance. Its classic architecture, sumptuous interiors, gorgeous grounds, excellent recreational activities (including three championship gold courses, indoor and outdoor tennis and a 38,000 sq ft spa), and impeccable service have distinguished the resort for over two centuries. But the National Historic landmark is in need of a little sprucing up, as reported by the Associated Press. The resort will be closing for three months next winter, starting January 2 after the holidays. The project is the most extensive since the 1940's, and is slated for 18 months total. The renovation will include the main dining room, the Tavern Room, Old White Lounge, main kitchen and about 65 guest rooms in the main building, which will be enhanced by new furniture and marble bathrooms. The Greenbrier seeks to restore its Mobil five star rating, which it lost in 2000 after 38 years.
May 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
But choosing-- (you see Kenyan safari, s/he sees tequila and tanning in Mexico)-- and planning a honeymoon can be more taxing than the actual wedding planning. Just ask The Post. This Sunday, The Washington Post Travel section is devoted to the honeymoon: top 10 destinations; tips on making it a trip to remember; tales from readers (honeymoons worth telling the grandkids about), and the best of all: 5 Couples, 5 Budgets, 5 Honeymoons, a case study of five DC area couples who honeymooned in different ways (Disney World, anyone?)
And now we're looking to our readers for planning tips, packing advice, ideas on memorable locations and luxury hotels worldwide. Just how do you go about picking and planning the perfect honeymoon?
Leave it to Trendhunter to pick up on the latest fad: fashion designers branching out beyond the basics, and "expanding their empires" to include jet interior design (Versace's got it covered: You go, girl!) as well as kitchens by…Armani.
Of course we're all over their big plans to break into the hotel industry with luxury hotels in Dubai. Both the Versace Palazzo hotel and Armani's hotel in the Burj Dubai building are planned to open in 2008.
Armani's hotel is under construction in the stratospheric Burj Dubai building, whose exact number of floors is secret but rumored to approach 200. It will feature subtle hues and a rigorous, sophisticated environment. In addition to offering who-knew-you-needed-it features such as temperature-controlled sand on the beach, Versace's Dubai outpost will be as Baroque as the late Gianni Versace's private residences. At the Missoni hotel, one of a string of global openings, the decor blends the brand's colorful prints with the streamlined architecture of Matteo Thun.
And at luxury hotels across the world, guests are opting for designer suites that reflect a certain lifestyle, such as the Vera Wang Suite at the Halekulani Hotel, and the brand new Bottega Veneta Suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, opening this fall. (1,700 sq ft distinguished by pieces from Bottega's new home line.)
Announcing yet another tantalizing culinary event at the discriminating Los Angeles hot spot. The Mobil five-star award winner celebrates a five year tradition of culinary events and special wine-maker dinners, featuring exquisite multi-course meals paired with rare wine tastings. On Thursday, June 8 Hotel Bel-Air welcomes Meadowbank Estates for a New Zealand BBQ featuring 27 different wine varieties. Each winemaker (representing Clearview Estate, Foxes Island, Voss, Escarpment, and more) will have a tasting table with selections. Food stations are served on the front lawn and include such delicious dishes as Roasted New Zealand Lamb and Rock Lobster Tails. 6:30 pm, $115 per person.
The cat's out of the bag about Playa del Carmen. The cool and classy beach destination on Mexico's gorgeous less-traveled Yucatan peninsula (away from the high-rises, Senor Frog's, and wet t-shirt contests of Cancun) is growing at a staggering pace. Quickly fleeting are the days of uncrowded stretches of white sand beach and evenings at hip beach bars. Among the new hotels popping up as quickly as sand-castles: The new Riu Palace Riviera Maya is the fourth all-inclusive Riu Palace to open in Playa in recent months. And Kor has jumped on the development bandwagon, with the Viceroy Riviera Maya and The Tides Playa del Carmen Resorts and Residences (both slated for 2008), and the recent acquisition of two existing upscale resorts: the 46-room Mosquito Blue and the newly built, 33-room Mosquito Beach. (And the accommodations all promise to be sinfully luxurious...) Flights to Cancun are at a record low right now-- we're talking $129 Chicago-Cancun on United's brand new route-- so best get down there now to see a piece of paradise vanishing fast...
Vancouver's delightful boutique hotel already has plenty of gold in its collection. A fixture on Travel and Leisure's Top 500 list and considered the best hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Traveler readers, the Wedgewood is a delightful European style hotel situated in the city center on Robson Square. The 83 luxurious rooms and suites all feature private balconies and beautiful, plush furnishings. The four Penthouse Suites are currently undergoing a $1 million renovation, and will reopen at the end of May. At 700 sq. ft. each, the Penthouse Suites will feature large private garden terraces and balconies with views of the Robson Square gardens and waterfalls, luxurious Spa bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, walk-in showers and heated limestone floors, living rooms with fireplaces and marble wetbars, and bedrooms with French doors and LCD flatscreen TVs. A truly blissful spot in this cosmopolitan city.
And to add to the awards at the Wedgewood, Vancouver Magazine recently gave top honors to Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge at the 17th Annual Vancouver Restaurant Awards. The restaurant received Gold for Best Bar/Lounge, Gold for Best Hotel Dining and Bronze for Best Formal French in Vancouver. In addition, Bacchus was awarded the title of Best Bar and Lounge in the City, for the seventh consecutive year.
At the world-famous intersection of Rodeo and Wilshire Boulevards, The Regent Beverly Wilshire wows with its signature suites, superb Spa, and unrivaled service. And this legendary address has now been enhanced by a renovation of luxurious refurbishments and newly designed Spa and Pool. The exciting makeover includes the June 1st opening of celebrated Chef Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant and lounge, called Cut and Sidebar. The contemporary steakhouse was designed by architect Richard Meier, boasting a stunning modern look.
Now's the time to find fantastic savings and oodles of family activities at the "Jewel of the Desert." Situated in the heart of Phoenix on 39 lush acres at the foot of Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the Arizona Biltmore is oft-considered one of the world's finest resorts, with its oasis of swimming pools, gardens and Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture. The distinguished clientele--including visiting Presidents and celebrities-- enjoy the resort's spectacular facilities, including eight swimming pools, seven tennis courts, 18-hole putting course, fitness center, and full-service European spa. The neighboring Arizona Biltmore Country Club offers two 18-hole PGA golf courses.
With Summer Specials, villas are a steal starting at $299, and classic rooms from $149. The resort is offering enhanced poolside amenities and a full agenda of activities for the whole family to enjoy: from Dive-In Movies (enjoy popular movies on the big screen while floating in the Paradise Pool, or on the deck with Ben and Jerry's ice cream novelties), to S'mores and Salsa making demonstrations and poolside massage. In the Summertime, enjoy the best of the Biltmore.
May 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:
"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead. Resources: The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans. Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.
May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As CNN reports, the legal battle over designation of "Surf City USA" has officially ended, as Huntington Beach edged out rival Santa Cruz with a federal agency's decision "to grant the town exclusive trademark rights." Easy, dudes! Both spots are world-renowned for their awesome waves. But if you're craving the warmer waters, better head south to Huntington Beach. The town's got an easy-going vibe and quiet elegance, and plenty of opportunities to watch the locals ride the waves in surf competitions.
Looking for lux accommodations? Just a short hop from Huntington Beach in the sun-drenched magnificence of the OC, Newport Beach lures with its recently renovated Fairmont Hotel. It's actually in the final stages of the $30 million renovation, which involves the outdoor area, driveway, and landscaping-- all slated for completion by August 31. The rest of the place is dazzling and new, including the heated sky pool and deck which opens any day now. The Fairmont Gold Lounge and Gold Floor guest rooms-- a "hotel within a hotel" with private check-in and complimentary breakfast and evening hors' d'oeuvres-- will be completed at the beginning of June. The new 8,000 sq ft Spa will open in January.
Take advantage of Only One Way Summer Rates. Rooms are a steal starting at $199 a night.
The Fairmont Newport Beach, Five Star Alliance
Outside Magazine, Surf Guide 2006