The newest chic spot on Mexico's Riviera Maya, Esencia is a small boutique hotel which was once the home of a European duchess. Located on one of the best white sand beaches on the Yucatan, Esencia has been recognized for its elegant cuisine, personalized butler service and modern amenities. The 29 rooms and suites offer exquisite views, private gardens and pools, and in-room bathtubs. The luxurious Aroma Spa prides itself on its organic focus, with plant extracts and botanical essences used in the treatments. From now through August, Esencia is offering a five-night "Family Fun in the Sun" package with discounts of more than 30 percent. The package includes a garden suite with plunge pool, daily breakfast and transfers, for two adults and one child under age 12. Starting at $1,725. (Nightly rates usually start at $475) Via Washington Post "What's the Deal?"
The media is abuzz with news of the nuptials between Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. The happy lovebirds have since jetted to the South Pacific on their honeymoon, but fans are no doubt eager for the scoop about the Intercontinental Sydney where Urban shacked up before the ceremony. As one of Sydney's leading five-star hotels, the Intercontinental Sydney overlooks the stunning harbor with panoramic views of the Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens. Besides its central location, the hotel is distinguished by its majestic sandstone facade, as the hotel is housed in the heritage listed 1851 Treasury Building, a Sydney landmark. In 2005, the Intercontinental completed an AUD$30 million refurbishment with spacious, contemporary rooms and a gorgeous rooftop Club Lounge. I wonder if Urban staked out the Australia Suite, perhaps the best Presidential Suite in Sydney. Located on the 29th floor, the 245 sq-meter suite features an open-air terrace with dining area, living and dining room with grand piano, fully equipped kitchen, and bathroom with shower-steam room and spa bath. This is the height of luxury and indulgence.
The Pan Pac Whistler Mountainside, nestled in the beautiful mountains of British Columbia, is a tempting destination in both winter and summer. Excellent skiing is complimented by sunshine-filled days of hiking and swimming during the summer months. The luxurious boutique hotel has recently launched its Desperate Housewives Package, a clever and fun summer getaway designed for women seeking a little r and r with their girlfriends. To quote the Pan Pac:
For women who find work, the kids, the spouse or any other of life's challenges making them desperate for the ultimate girlfriend getaway, Pan Pacific Whistler has designed the perfect solution... the property's 2006 "Desperate Housewives" package.
Valid until November 23, 2006, the package rates start from CAD$375 (US$325) per person (based on quadruple occupancy), and includes accommodations in a luxurious Two Bedroom Valley View Suite as well as the following components: Beauty Boot Camp for four women at Vital Spirit Spa which includes a 45-minute massage, 30-minute Essential Facial and mini manicure and mini pedicure; breakfast for four in the guest exclusive Pacific Suite; welcome martini basket; and complimentary Mountain View upgrade when available.
Let the countdown begin. The Tour de France is set to kick off in July, and all eyes are on this year's post-Lance race, the exciting 93rd Tour. And for the best vantage point to view the finish of the Tour de France at the Place de la Concorde, the Hotel de Crillon is the place to be. Overlooking the finish line in the heart of Paris, the legendary Crillon is a unique historical monument offering an exceptional five-star hotel experience in the City of Light. The best views, of course, are from the posh Presidential Suites, and for this momentous occasion, the Hotel de Crillon has created an exclusive package. "Tour de France 2006" includes two nights accommodation (Saturday July 22 and Sunday July 23), afternoon tea served in one of the grand Presidential Suites while watching the race on giant screen televisions, American buffet breakfast and access to the Fitness Center. The package rate is from EUR 1,210 for a Superior Room, subject to availability, inclusive of taxes and service. Other room categories are also available.
Our adoration for Eos is hardly a secret. A recent Business Week article, "Eos Airlines, Your Airborne Concierge" applauds the airline for its "business class services with a five-star hotel twist for passengers flying from New York's JFK airport to London's Stansted." The interior is luxurious and spacious, with 48 seats in a jet originally designed for 220 people. The individual passenger seating area is like a suite, with flatbed, worktables, personal entertainment units, and business travel conveniences. And it's a staggering 21 square feet per person. Not too shabby. The airline even offers "turndown service," with high-thread-count seats, cashmere blankets and Bose noise cancellation headphones. To quote Business Week:
While mainstream carriers such as US Airways are making headlines by eliminating packets of peanuts on board, Eos takes the opposite track by promising "restaurant quality, gourmet meals" with aesthetic presentation, along with a high-end wine and beverage selection. Passengers set their own eating pace by selecting either a five-course meal to be eaten at leisure or an "express" meal served at once.
Price? $6,500 for an unrestricted fare.
Located just minutes from Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Fearrington House Country Inn is situated on an 18th Century Dairy farm surrounded by acres of stunning gardens. Each of the 33 guest rooms are distinctively decorated with European antiques, Southern artwork, rich fabrics, canopied beds, hand-painted mantels, and pine flooring. The bathrooms are luxurious and comfortable, with marble vanities, plush robes and slippers, Molton Brown bath products, and heated towel racks. Guests enjoy traditional southern hospitality and fine dining at the restaurant. Stroll the expansive grounds and admire the water sculptures and manicured English gardens, browse the unique Village shops, or relax on the front porch in a rocking chair gazing at the pasture full of cows. Traditional English afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, delicate pastries and scones, and a full gourmet breakfast-- with hearty choices such as shrimp and grits and eggs bendict-- are included in the room rate. The Fearrington House Country Inn has devised some exciting Summer specials. The "Summer Getaway" package includes one nights accommodations, English afternoon tea, gourmet dinner for two, hearty breakfast, and a $25 gift card. From $295, limited availability through August. And with the "Fearrington Escape Package", stay two nights and receive the third for free! Includes daily English tea, daily hearty breakfasts, a bottle of chilled Champagne in the room for arrival, gourmet dinner for two, casual dinner at The Market, a picnic in the Gardens, two one-hour massages. From $895.
It's about time. The Mobil Travel Guide--the illustrious bible which has provided comprehensive hotel ratings in the US and Canada since 1958 (using 750 criteria, no less)-- has announced plans to bring that expertise to evaluation of Caribbean hotels. Mobil bills itself as the "originator of the prestigious Five-Star ratings and certifications program for hotels, restaurants, and spas." The company's evaluation of Caribbean hotels, in of the most popular tourist regions in the world, is the beginning of an effort to bring their renowned rating system to properties worldwide.
The award-winning, classic Dukes Hotel, tucked in its own courtyard in a quiet corner on St. James's Place between Mayfair and Green Park, is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the special exhibition in honor of the Queen's 80th birthday. On display at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace in honor of Her Majesty's birthday, the extensive exhibit showcases the Queen's evening dresses (80 of them! from the 1940's to the present) and personal jewelry, including private gifts and historic pieces, such as the Vladimir Tiara, the Cambridge Emerald Necklace, two brooches set with stones from the famous Cullinan Diamond, and a pair of Boucheron aquamarine and diamond clip brooches given to then Princess Elizabeth by her father, King George VI, for her 18th birthday. Visitors to the exhibition see the Palace's 39-acre garden, and appreciate rare views of the Palace's garden façade and the 19th-century lake. As part of Her Majesty's Birthday Celebration, Dukes Hotel is going over the top (try this for British pomp and pageantry) with a special package. "Her Majesty's Birthday Celebration" includes a two-night stay in a Classic Double room including daily breakfast and afternoon tea and two tickets to the "Special Exhibition" with entrance to Buckingham Palace. Priced at GBP 525, inclusive of VAT, available from July 26 to September 24, 2006.
(Guests will also enjoy Duke's luxurious spa and the world-famous Dukes Martini at the bar.)
The New York Times dazzles with its savvy weekend piece "The Latest Splash? Baths and Pools." The next big thing for hip hotels includes "Peekaboo Baths" (where, in places like Madrid's Hotel Puerta América and the Hotel Rival in Stockholm, "bathers are exposed to their fellow guests" in an open-plan bathroom), "Pools with a View" (the rooftop bar and pool craze first started at The Standard in downtown LA), "Guest Galleries" (the trendy 21cMuseum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky is first and foremost an art gallery), and "Megasuites," like the EUR 30,000-a-night Penthouse suite at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes.
Hot off the press! The classic New York landmark that sits at 6 Times Square has just been sold to Istithmar Hotels, an investment arm of the royal family of Dubai, for $300 million-- to be restored to its former glory as a five-star hotel. The original Knickerbocker Hotel was built between 1901 and 1906 for John Jacob Astor IV, a luxurious hot spot for celebrities in the heart of Manhattan. As described by the Hartford Courant:
The one-time Knickerbocker hotel in Times Square has an illustrious history: Enrico Caruso sang from its balcony; Maxfield Parrish's 30-foot-long painting "Old King Cole" hung in its barroom; and the martini is believed to have been invented there. Now the beaux-arts-style Knickerbocker, long since converted into apartments and textile showrooms, may become a hotel again.
Once known as the Newsweek Building when it housed the magazine's offices, the Knickerbocker hotel's building is also known to be the place where the famous gang leader, Monk Eastman, was captured by police while having a shoot-out with a Pinkerton detective. In its heyday, the Knickerbocker hotel boasted 556 rooms, a phenomenal restaurant-bar, and its own subway entrance. (The mysterious locked door is still visible at the northern end of the platform at Times Square subway station.) No wonder the city's elite flocked there.