LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
You must actually scuba dive 21 feet beneath the surface of the sea to get to Jules Undersea Lodge, located at the bottom of the Emerald Lagoon in Key Largo Underseas Park. For the first time in history, an authentic underwater research habitat is open to the public. After swimming through the tropical mangrove habitat, overnight guests will approach the big 42' round windows of Jules Undersea Lodge. Inside, the cottage space is stocked with creature comforts: air-conditioning, hot showers, VCR/DVD, well-equipped kitchen, and cozy beds from where you can watch the colorful reef fish swim outside. Enjoy unlimited diving (for certified divers) and then dine on a subaquatic feast prepared by your "mer-chef": filet mignon, Florida lobster, and of course Key Lime pie. No wonder Jules Underseas Lodge has been featured in countless magazines and on every major television network in the world.
Say hello to the newly renovated Mandarin Oriental, housed in a neo-renaissance building just around the corner from the rowdy Hofbräuhaus. Last summer this sophisticated hideaway was renovated from top to bottom. The facade got a facelift, and all 48 rooms and 25 suites ooze exclusivity with a sleek contemporary design and all the latest technology. Choose your own bed linens (down-feather duvet, hypoallergenic blanket...) and help yourself to the mini-bar. Like an elegant museum, this stately hotel showcases hundreds of pieces of decorative artwork and antiques from Asia. On the top floor, the heated swimming pool boasts a view that extends to the Alps. Mark's, the hotel's signature fine dining restaurant, just earned its first Michelin star.
The latest offering from the group of visionary design hotels, Viceroy Snowmass will be a ski-in/ski-out mountain resort designed by world-renowned architect Jean-Michel Gathy of the Malaysia-based design group, Denniston International (think One&Only Reethi Rah, Aman Resorts in Indonesia, the Fuchun Resort in China, and The Setai in South Beach.) Slated to open in the winter of 2009/2010, the Viceroy Snowmass will be one of America's first LEED-certified Silver hotels. And knowing Viceroy, this latest hotel addition will exude style-- chock full of the signature Viceroy amenities and glamorous facilities like a 7,000 square foot spa, fitness center, swimming pool, fine dining restaurants, and ski valet. Set within the new $1 billion Snowmass Base Village development, just minutes from Aspen, Colorado, the new luxury hotel will not only be visually stunning, but also environmentally friendly.
It's about time. For years, France has-- like many countries around the world-- used its own system for categorizing its hotels. As we've lamented in the past, there is no standardized international system for rating hotels, so a five-star hotel in Vietnam will not be the same as one in Dubai. For years, the hotel scale in France has maxed out at four stars, which means the opulent Parisian palace hotels like the Crillon and Hôtel Plaza Athénée-- the best the world over-- are lumped into the four-star category. Now, at long last, the French government has announced plans to create a five-star category of top lodgings.
Guests at The Peninsula Hong Kong, long hailed one of the finest hotels in the world, can now enjoy a complimentary harbor cruise. Two of Hong Kong's oldest icons, The Peninsula and The Star Ferry, have teamed up for The Peninsula's Cruise and Dine package. Each evening at 6:15 p.m., the hotel will charter the exquisite 'Shining Star' for a 45-minute cruise around Victoria Harbor with champagne served onboard. The "Grand Dame of the Far East" will offer the cruise from November 19, 2007- February 29, 2008. Just call the concierge to book your reservation. Or, choose the Cruise and Dine package, priced at HK $1,288 per couple, and enjoy a three-course dinner in The Lobby (with a bottle of Peninsula wine) after the cruise. As a special gift, The Peninsula Spa by ESPA will present each diner with a HK $300 gift certificate redeemable for any treatment.
Take a tour of Renoir's landscapes and enjoy views of one of the nation's oldest cityscapes at Loews Philadelphia Hotel, where the newly-renovated guest rooms showcase spectacular city views. Reserve the Renoir Landscapes VIP Package and enjoy two VIP tickets to the exclusive showing of the Renoir exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, plus one night accommodation in a beautifully-appointed guest room. Located in the landmark PSFS building in the city's vibrant heart, Loews Philadelphia Hotel is a winning combination of historic architecture and modern amenities. The package rate starts at $229 for two people. Valid until January 6, 2008.
Announcing the latest brand from Hyatt Hotels: ANdAZ. Taking its name from an Urdu word that means 'personal style', the new collection of luxury boutique hotels is hoping to attract youthful, affluent travelers. True to form, the Web site is lively, and promises a "young at heart" and "environmentally conscious" hotel experience.
Created in response to travellers' needs for an experience that blends style with uncompromised service, ANdAZ focuses on a personal attention to detail and a freedom from conventional hotel wisdom. A renewal of the highest quality standards, and the delivery of simple luxuries.
The brand's first location opens in London on Friday. Housed in the former Great Eastern Hotel, the red brick Victorian building constructed in 1884 by the Great Eastern railway company, the ANdAZ is right next to Liverpool station. The 236-room hotel is all about casual luxury. Instead of a lobby with a check-in counter and concierge desk, there's a sleek modern "living room," where guests check in with personal hosts who carry tablet PCs. Rooms are decked out with ergonomically designed furniture and iPods with locally selected playlists. Also on the premises: five restaurants and four bars. Room rates start at GBP 395 per weekday night, and GBP 120 on weekend nights, including breakfast, Internet, local calls, mini-bar, laundry and pressing, and movies. Coming soon: ANdAZ hotels in New York (75 Wall Street and 485 Fifth Avenue) and Austin, Texas.
The tiny country of Monaco, the glamorous city-state nestled between Italy and France on the Côte d'Azur, is luxury incarnate. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the Riviera is an enticing Mediterranean destination, and Monte Carlo is the prestigious choice for the globe-trotting elite. Take the six-minute helicopter ride from the Nice airport and arrive in style. (Plus, on the way you can take in all 500 acres of the Principality.) The place to stay is the Fairmont Monte Carlo, which unveiled a EUR 42 million renovation this spring. Built in the 70s, this enormous luxury hotel (619 rooms and suites) commands a remarkable location: built on piles over the water next to the Casino. It's like an island unto itself, floating over the Mediterranean, with sweeping sea views from its rooftop terrace and heated swimming pool. The Fairmont boasts three restaurants, two bars, 18 meetings rooms, a fitness center, shopping arcade, and in-house casino-- the first hotel in Monte Carlo to install its own. During the Grand Prix auto race in May, the Formula One cars rocket right under the hotel. Book the Corner Suite for the Grand Prix and you'll see why it's the most highly prized room in town for the race. On one side, views of the glittering sea, and on the other, the famous hairpin turn before the cars zoom into a tunnel beneath the hotel.
One of the most hotly anticipated restaurant openings in London, The Landau will make its debut at the prestigious Langham Hotel by month's end. After the opening of the fabulously chic bar Artesian, the star designers at David Collins Studio have been hard at work designing this new luxury London restaurant in The Langham's original ballroom. Hailed as one of the best kept secrets in the capital, The Landau will be a top destination restaurant alongside the capital's big players: Gordon Ramsay at Claridges and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. Head Chef Andrew Turner has devised a contemporary European menu with the best British ingredients and a few surprising twists. What's behind the name? Landau was originally the word for "the front horse-rider who gave direction to a carriage." True to its namesake, The Landau will be a leader on London's happening culinary scene.
The awards keep streaming in for The Nam Hai, the stunning Asian flagship for GHM (of Setai fame). The Nam Hai nabbed the #1 spot for the Best New Beach Resort at the 18th annual TTG Travel awards, which honor the movers and shakers in Asia-Pacific's travel industry. Since its opening in December 2006, the Nam Hai has been turning heads nonstop. Nestled on the pristine beach in Hoi An, Vietnam, the Nam Hai is a gorgeous design hotel with close proximity to important UNESCO World Heritage sites: the ancient Cham sanctuary of My Son and the citadels of Hue. You'll find in-room bathtubs, rain showers, flat-screen TVs and iPods, and in-room bars. There's an all-natural spa center, tennis courts, exquisite beachfront swimming pools, and a restaurant serving the finest Vietnamese cuisine overlooking water gardens and the ocean.