The Michelin Guide New York City 2006 honored celebrated chef Alain Ducasse with three stars at the Essex House. He is the only dude ever to have three restaurants earn three stars. Damn. (The other two are Louis XV in Monaco, and my fave, the Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee, Paris.)
Jumping on the blog bandwagon, I’d like to highlight the interesting NYT piece about the ultra-lux perks recently employed by luxury hotels, in order to distinguish themselves and entice repeat customers. Notable extravagant examples include the Four Seasons Manhattan (where a $400,000 Maybach 62 and a $325,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom are parked out front for clients’ use), the Conrad Istanbul (which provides CD players and discs for guests to learn useful Turkish phrases) and the Loews Annapolis Hotel (where guest can “borrow” the hotel’s Labrador retriever, Luke.) Experienced any hotel perk that can top this list?!
November 1, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In the rugged wilderness of Canada’s Vancouver Island lies the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, its temperate rainforest deemed one of the most important habitats in the world. On show here is a year-round spectacle of some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Spawning salmon, nesting eagles, otters, porpoises, and migrating whales. Did I mention the bears? Clayoquot Wilderness Resorts offers two luxury eco-resorts within this untouched wilderness. The Quait Bay Floating Resort is Clayoquot’s flagship property, with full-service spa and conference center with gorgeous views. A 30 minute boat ride away, the 18 ultra-luxurious white canvas tents of the Wilderness Outpost at Bedwell River were inspired by late 19th century Great Camps. Who says you can’t get pampered while roughing it? The suite tents are outfitted with Adirondack-style beds covered in down duvets, antique dressers, pressed-glass oil lamps, heirloom accessories, and a plethora of candles. Who needs in-room telephone or flat screen TV when you can lounge in a terry cloth robe, hook up your laptop to wireless internet, and bask in the heat of your remote-controlled propane wood-stove?
The site includes luxurious spa tents, dining tents, and lounge tents. The food is all organic, as regional growers and producers supply cheese, giant oysters and scallops, free-range hens, wild fish and just-picked berries. I’m drooling at the sample Outpost Table d’hote menu: local albacore tuna tartare with grilled vegetable ratatouille. Pan-seared wild pacific halibut with marinated spaghetti squash salad, oven-dried tomatoes and red bell pepper reduction. Or maybe the oven-roasted venison loan with sweet potato tarragon flan? Followed by a white chocolate pumpkin mousse with local organic fieldberry blintz and vanilla sour cream sauce. Mmmmmm. Guided (and unguided) activities abound—from horseback riding, whale and bear watching, salt and fresh water fishing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, Hot Springs Cove day treks, and naturalist hikes.
The Economist recently announced that two new niche carriers have started flying the London-New York route. We’ve watched the low-cost model (thank you, Southwest!) catch on in Europe and Asia, but these two new transatlantic airlines are uniquely (and notably) devoted to luxury business class. Eos has enhanced planes originally built to carry 250 passengers. Now catering to only 48 business travelers, the Eos planes provide an experience more closely akin to corporate jets than business class cabins. Flights commenced October 18, leaving London in the AM, with return fares of $6,500. The other new kid on the block is Maxjet, targeting a different part of the business market: the more budget conscious business travelers. Maxjet planes carry half their original capacity, so 102 passengers enjoy double the space per seat. Return fares are the same as full economy fares, at $1,600. (Both airlines fly from London’s Stansted to New York JFK.)
P.S. A follow-up to my post a few days ago… The New York Times “New Orleans Watch” includes a hotel status report with a list of all the hotels open in the city. Including some of my favorites like the JW Marriott, International House, Le Pavillon and the Monteleone. Come on down south, y’all! The price is right.
October 30, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The press has gone gaga over this sexy addition to the swanky boutique hotels of South Beach. Last year’s $60 million make-over of the Hotel Victor has utterly transformed the formerly-tacky Ocean Drive. Right next door to the famed Versace mansion, the Hotel Victor is centrally located in the middle of the Art Deco district, just a hop from the city’s buzzing nightlife. Parisian designer Jacques Garcia has created a sensory explosion of rich color, aromatic infusions and whimsical retro furniture, the lobby marked by an illuminated moon jellyfish tank. The hotel’s 91 rooms and suites are situated around an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic. Mini-bars are stuffed full of “South Beach life-style essentials” (chilled eye mask, anyone?) The 6,000 square foot Spa V entices with signature treatments (like the Jet Lag V which incorporates a patented formula of volcanic mud) and the only Turkish Hammam in South Beach. The best part of the hotel? Your personal “vibe manager,” who can arrange just about anything you want to do in Miami-- from salsa to surfing.
Hotel Victor, Official Site
Hotel Victor, Five Star Alliance
October 29, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Vacationing on the placid waters of the Caribbean—from the coral reefs of Belize, the perfect windswept beaches of Mexico’s Yucatan and the French West Indies, to the pulsing nightlife and crooning jazz tunes of The Big Easy—it’s hard to imagine the annihilating wrath of the hurricanes that sweep through every year. And this year—as we’ve all been witness—has been especially destructive. After the devastating damage of Katrina and Wilma, reconstruction efforts must begin anew in these tourism-dependent regions. Relief pours into New Orleans, but it’ll be a long time until the city and its inhabitants recover. In the preliminary stages, most hotels have begun reparation work, and expect 2006 reopenings. Wikipedia presents a thorough analysis of the sustained damage, including criticism of the initial relief efforts. In the Yucatan, the coastal resorts (which account for almost half of Mexico’s $11 billion yearly tourism revenue) are not expected to reopen for at least two months. Many will not be ready until Easter week. The island of Cozumel was even harder hit—many of the cruise ship piers were entirely destroyed. Heard any more news? Let me know. (Read one reporter's account of Wilma's wrath.)
October 28, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Need I say more? Traveling through the world’s busiest passenger airport just got a little easier, with the introduction of wireless internet access throughout.
This year, the Four Seasons Washington D.C. is the only new hotel to join the prestigious list of 32 Mobil five-star hotels in the United States and Canada. The three new five-star restaurants include New York’s per se, the White Barn Inn Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine and West Hollywood’s Bastide.
Four Seasons Washington D.C., Official Site
Four Seasons Washington D.C., Five Star Alliance
I’m diggin’ the TravelPost.com blog. Especially their description of Westin’s new Renewal Suite at the Westin New York, Times Square. (This is the same hotel where Martha Stewart’s Apprentice candidates struggled to create their ultimate themed hotel suite.) The Renewal Suite is complete(ly absurd) with DVD spinning classes, bamboo flooring to relieve stress, and Hepa air purifiers. As for Westin’s new mini-bars? TravelPost.com says it all.