Seriously, this is the hideaway. According to Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, anyway. Las Amandas was recently voted a "2006 Hideaway of the Year," and is the frequent haunt and luxurious retreat for celebrities galore. Halfway between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, the 70-acre resort is set in a lush ecological reserve chock full of exotic flowering plants, pristine beaches and lagoons. Its 14 suites and six villas-- beautifully designed with Mexican artifacts and antiques-- are linked by yellow mosaic-lined walkways winding through graceful gardens. Most are equipped with private terraces and verandahs. For a limited time this spring, get four nights for the price of three! The "Spring Escape" includes a welcome cocktail upon arrival, a fruit platter and flowers in suite, daily Continental breakfast and a romantic candlelit dinner for two on the beach. Unlimited horseback riding, tennis, gym and croquet are included. Rates depend upon the suite selected and range from $360 to $1,400 per suite, per night.
The beautiful and scenic California coastline near San Luis Obispo is also Cali's fastest-growing wine region. But the cat's not yet out of the bag-- the rolling hills and undulating countryside are still peacefully quiet. No Napa traffic jams here. To explore these tranquil environs-- just about halfway between Lalaland and San Fran-- take a room at the charming Villa Toscana, a luxe bed and breakfast that boasts just eight romantic suites. Overlooking the vineyards, the rooms are opulently decorated, each named for one of the estate's award-winning wines. To really do it right, reserve the private winemaker's residence: a two-bedroom, 2.5 bath suite, with a detached two car garage, private courtyard, patio, and Jacuzzi.
It's hot. It's hip. Welcome to the new Strand Ocean Drive Hotel, a chic and stylish boutique hotel on Miami's South Beach. The unique hotel is comprised of four different historical structures (and one new building) with each suite featuring a unique design theme so—and get this!— you can change the style and ambience each time you visit the hotel. Whatever your whim. Thus, at 1024 Ocean Drive, you can savor the Retro style of the 1960s. Next door at 1036 Ocean Drive, you can join the martini-set in the classic Art Deco style of the 1930s. At 1052 Ocean Drive, get a taste of the contemporary, with the hip new five story structure. And at 1060 Ocean Drive, you can soak up the Mediterranean Tropical style of Miami. Now through April 7, 2006, the hotel is offering a cool giveaway. If you sign up for The Strand Ocean Drive mailing list, you are entered to win an iPod shuffle. They're giving one away each week for a month. Hop to it!
On its sun-soaked perch overlooking Miami, Coral Gables-- aka City Beautiful as it was dubbed when it was founded in 1925-- is a lot more than its 6.5 million square feet of office space, high-end boutiques and University of Miami campus. This is also the Latin American business headquarters of oodles of multinational companies (try 175 of them). It's a lush and beautiful spot, with a Mediterranean style aura. Starwood just announced plans to convert the 157-room Colonnade Hotel-- long known as the scene for important social and business events-- into a new Westin. What can guests expect at the new Colonnade, slated to open in late 2006? Why-- Westin's signature Heavenly Bed, of course, along with luxurious services, products and amenities that are all in line with Westin's new brand message of "renewal." Hence, the high thread-count sheets, down duvet and down pillows, plush bathrobes, and the newest Heavenly Bath: "a custom-designed dual showerhead that offers a choice of spray options from light mist to massaging needles." But smokers, beware. As of February 2006, Westin's paved the way for smoke-free hotels across North America.
March 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
South Florida's national historical landmark is renowned for its luxurious, Old-World European accommodations, and impressive resort amenities. Located in Coral Gables, the destination hotel features the 18-hole, Donald Ross-designed championship golf course, 10-lighted tennis courts, fitness center, fine restaurants and bars, private wine cellar club, and an enormous pool (the largest in the continental US!) with private cabanas. Reasons to go now? Besides the new and deliciously-luxurious Biltmore Spa--12,000 sq. ft. with spectacular views, wet rooms with hydrotherapy tubs and Vichy showers, connecting specialty suites for couples, exceptional men's and women's locker facilities with steam and sauna rooms, a signature line of Solarte of Provence amenities, and state-of-the-art treatments -- The Biltmore is currently offering a promotion for a free night! Make a booking for four nights, and pay for only three.
The Biltmore, Official Site
The Biltmore, Five Star Alliance
March 14, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Courtney W. May Last week in the Informed Traveler Newsletter we had an article which highlighted three suites in New York City, including the Taipan Suite at the Mandarin Oriental, the Royal Suite at the Carlyle and the Park Avenue Suite at The Regency. We asked our readers to send us their favorite suites in NYC and the highlight was the 'Triplex Penthouse Suite' at The Time located at 224 West 49th Street in the heart of the West Side. On level one of the three you have the main living area with a huge L-shaped terrace, full sized marble bath, and dining area. On the second level you have the master bedroom with King size platform bed, computer workstation, the master bath (featuring jacuzzi tub, sauna, towel warmer and dual vanities), and a printer/fax/copier. Level three is the 'entertainment' level with oversized terrace, exercise bike, and 60" projection screen tv. As our reader put it: "it's pretty 'Suite'!".
By: Guest Writer
March 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Amidst the rowdy hordes of spring-break revelers, tacky t-shirt stands and shops spilling flamingo kitsch, wary sun-seekers may despair: where is the colorful, whimsical Key West of old?! But step away from the mobs on Duvall Street, the wet t-shirt contests and "clothing optional" bars and tacky sunset scene of Mallory Square-- where the shadow of an enormous Carnival Cruise ship looms-- and the palm-lined alleys and side-streets reveal the other side to Key West's Old Town: white clapboard Victorian houses framed by fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms, Gypsy roosters clucking and crowing alongside the city's famous fat lounging cats, art galleries and Cuban coffee shops, friendly and eccentric locals.
The best dining in Key West-- hands down-- is Cafe Sole, located off the beaten path on Southard and Francis Streets. Chef John Correa learned his magic in Provence and Bordeaux, and superb dishes-- like Hog Snapper smother in a red pepper hollandaise sauce-- reflect his culinary training. For the island's best brunch, head to Blue Heaven in Bahama Village, where you can devour blueberry pancakes and lobster benedict in a flowering, friendly backyard-- full of whimsy and good cheer.
Shopping? Don't despair on Duvall. A few steps away on Petronia Street, Besame Mucho is one of the world's most pleasant boutiques. The fragrant interior is full of fine jewelry, exquisite Provencal soaps, Kiehl's products, luscious gourmet candies and beautiful Moroccan shoes. Indeed, as the slogan goes: "shop here once and life will be a joy forever.”
March 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
From Gary Stram, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Regency, A Loews Hotel
The Regency, A Loews Hotel in New York City has already provided us with two recipes - Roast American Rack of Lamb and Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce. As promised, they have sent us a third recipe from their executive chefs for Lemon Crusted Shrimp with a Mint and Olive Oil Glaze. Recipe after the jump.
Lemon Crusted Shrimp with Mint and Olive Oil Glaze
This recipe calls for brining the shrimp first. Shrimp are grilled in their shells, retaining their flavor and juices.
For the Brine
1 qt. water
1/2 cup salt
1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar
2 lbs-Jumbo shrimp-10 to a lb.
2 ea lemons-juiced
1 bunch mint-chopped
For the Glaze
1⁄2 cup virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup chardonnay-Paumanok Winery
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped mint
2 ea limes –juiced –zest reserved
2 Tablespoon-chopped Capers
salt & pepper to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1⁄2 stick lightly salted butter
For the brine combine first five ingredients in large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Reserve.
Using kitchen scissors cut shrimp shells down back all the way to the tail. Remove vein and pull out legs.
Add raw shrimp to the brine and refrigerate for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, drain shrimp and transfer to a large platter. Brine can now be discarded.
For the glaze combine the next 10 ingredients in a large saucepan and whisk thoroughly. Once glaze reduces by 1⁄2, slowly whisk in butter and reserve.
Turn grill on and preheat on high for 10 minutes. Once grill is hot, place shrimp flesh side down until pink approximately 2 minutes per side. Remove from grill and place on warm platter. Pour heated glaze over shrimp and enjoy!
The Regency, A Loews Hotel, Official Site
The Regency, A Loews Hotel, Five Star Alliance
March 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Now is the time for an end-of-season hurrah. The biggest ski resort in North America may also be the most fabulous. Whistler boasts the biggest vertical rise in North America (a whopping 5,280 feet) and the most terrain (we're talking 8,171 acres). Additionally, there's a meager 100,000 acres of Heli and SnowCat backcountry skiing on the surrounding Coast Mountain range. Where to stay? The Pan Pac is where it's at, consistently rated the best, most luxurious spot in Whistler. Here's why: the suites offer full kitchens, balconies, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains. Resort amenities are world-class: outdoor heated swimming pool, outdoor hot tubs with spectacular mountain views, fitness center, spa and steam room.
Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside, Official Site
Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside, Five Star Alliance