Who knew that Brussels could be a couture-minded mecca for trendy fashionistas? Apparently 2006 has been dubbed The Year of Fashion and Design in Brussels, and the city's buzzing with exhibitions and fashion shows, including a mobile extravaganza where models tour the city in a tram, with each tram stop serving as a catwalk for a different show. The city is a self-professed "favorite haunt of original and talented designers, who, by being based there, not only enjoy the recognition of their peers, but also find in this exuberant and surrealist capital a fantastic environment in which to live and to experiment." Brussels views itself as "setting the pace in terms of fashion and design." Rock on.
Starting on May 17, the luxurious Conrad Brussels is offering a "Mode Design" package for visitors to discover the history and meaning of design in Brussels. The elegant hotel is easily one of the city's finest, with an excellent health club, fine dining, and the largest and most sophisticated bedrooms in the city. The package is available until December 31, 2006, and includes: accommodations in a Classic room, breakfast daily, and an exclusive free gift for fashion lovers. Starting at EUR 235 per room per night. What a steal.
Conrad Brussels, Five Star Alliance
This Nob Hill historic landmark has recently completed a $12.5 million renovation, and the stately hotel has been renewed with modern elegance. The city's highest-rated hotel-- the only Mobil five star and AAA five diamond winner-- boasts remarkable views of the bay and city skyline, and the perfect location on a stop for the Cable Car line. This is a delightful setting to dazzle Mom on Mother's Day, whether in The Dining Room (one of only four Mobil five-star restaurants in Cali) for dinner, the elegant Ballroom for an elaborate Buffet Brunch, on The Terrace in the sunshine for a delicious three-course lunch, or for Mother's Day Tea in The Lobby Lounge. Enjoy extraordinary cuisine, listen to a superb jazz trio, and rest assured that Mom will be showered with attentive, respectful service, flowers and a more-than-memorable meal.
Announcing an offer you just can't refuse. Book a stay at participating Preferred Resorts with your American Express Card, and receive a gift. With the "I Prefer Spa" package, guests indulge in a signature spa treatment, and get a welcome amenity. Luxurious spas include Napa's Carneros Inn-- nestled in the grapevines of California's exquisite wine country, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows-- the AAA five-diamond winner on Hawaii's Big Island, Las Vegas' Red Rocks Casino, Resort and Spa-- which recently opened to much fanfare and glowing reviews, and the Caribbean's Peter Island-- the luxurious private island in the BVI that is consistently ranked as one of the world's best places to stay.
Jumeirah, the luxury hospitality group and member of Dubai Holding, is growing by leaps and bounds. Perhaps the most significant development for 2005 was Jumeirah's entry into the US market, with the acquisition of one of Manhattan's most prestigious and historic luxury hotels: The Essex House. Renamed the Jumeirah Essex House, the hotel is an elegant city landmark, perfectly located off Central Park. Since its debut in 1931, this luxurious property has been the New York refuge for international leaders, dignitaries, and celebs. Most importantly, the hotel houses the superlative Mobil Five-Star restaurant, Alain Ducasse at Jumeirah Essex House-- easily the best restaurant in New York City.
After the acquisition of this gorgeous property, Jumeirah continues to anticipate awesome growth for 2006. Let us count the ways. Management of Shanghai's most prestigious new hotel development in the Luwan District (HanTang Jumeirah Shanghai will open in 2008). Management of Jumeirah Dubai Towers, a five-star hotel in Doha, Qatar. Management of the luxury hotels and theme park at the beachfront town of Aqaba, Jordan. And in Dubai, Jumeirah will operate Aqua Dunya, a theme park resort in Dubailand that aims to become the world's largest leisure and tourism attraction. (With a whopping 8 million sq. ft.) And let's not forget the management of Jumeirah Al Khor in Dubai Healthcare City, and lastly, the Jumeirah Business Bay Hotel, in Dubai's new business district (Business Bay, Dubailand, Healthcare City.... the names are clever, aren't they?) Whew.
Jumeirah Essex House, Five Star Alliance
Ahhh, Round Hill: the elegant Jamaican hideaway, a favorite for Town and Country fashion shoots, a former pineapple, allspice and coconut plantation, where the elite and moneyed few escape for their tropical respites. The legendary resort, not far from Montego Bay, is an oasis of gardens, secluded beaches, private villas and horizon-edge pools. There's a Spa, tennis, diving, and fine dining, a vacation experience enhanced by the best, most discreet service.
The 36 guestrooms in the Pineapple House were recently renovated and designed by Ralph Lauren, with white stone floors, four poster bamboo beds draped in a white net, 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, and upholstered furniture from the Ralph Lauren home collection. The rooms are all-white, evoking tropical beach living, and with ocean or garden views. The bathrooms were also redesigned by Lauren, with deep soaking tubs, freestanding rain showers, and double sink vanities.
You heard that right. The AAA four diamond resort-- in quest of the ever elusive five-diamond rating-- may construct an Old West-style casino with 500 slot machines. Just how that will up the rating is beyond me. Currently, Nemacolin Woodlands is a popular luxury destination outside Pittsburgh, with world-class golf course, excellent restaurants, internationally acclaimed Spa, Equestrian Center, Kids Club, shooting academy, tennis, and endless other activities.
Nemacolin Woodlands, Five Star Alliance
The Conch Republic-- so named in 1982 when Key West seceded from Florida with the motto "The People Who Seceded Where Others Failed"-- is a quirky and magical place. At the southernmost point in the US, charming, white Victorian houses bask in the sun. There's diving and snorkeling, sailing and sunning, deep-sea fishing, and more bars per capita in (possibly) the entire world over. Needless to say, this was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, whose legendary residence still houses the offspring of his six-toed cats. In celebration of the city's most famous resident, Key West hosts an annual "Hemingway Days Festival." From July 18 to July 23, the 26th annual event celebrates Hemingway's work and lifestyle. A week of literary readings, a theatrical premiere, short story competition, a museum exhibit, and fishing tournament. And as highlighted by the Washington Post "What’s the Deal?"-- from now until October 15, the city of Key West is offering half price admission to many of its major sites, including sightseeing tours on the Conch Train and Old Town trolley, Hemingway Home and Museum, and Aquarium. Coupons are available here.
Northwest of Bordeaux, bordered by the Atlantic and the Gironde Estuary, lies the world-renowned Medoc region, celebrated for producing the world's most prestigious red wines. Meaning the "middle territory," the Medoc is situated on the 45th parallel, benefiting from an ideal temperate climate and a unique gravelly terroir. These beautiful vineyards produce high-quality grapes of many varieties: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet-Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.
Situated in the midst of these splendid vineyards on a 135-acre property, the Relais De Margaux is an elegant hotel, graced with the traditions of a rich past but with all the comforts and facilities of the present. Originally the chateau of one of the premier wine-producing families of France, Relais de Margaux has been transformed into a comfortable, contemporary resort destination. From your room, enjoy spectacular views of the new 18-hole golf course situated between the Estuary and the vineyards. (The course opened in 2005 with driving range and putting green.)
Rooms are the essence of comfort-- furnished in a traditional French style, and with all the modern amenities of a world-class hotel: flat screen TVs, spacious bathrooms with heated towel racks, large French windows, luxurious linens. Relax in your room or immerse yourself in luxury at the new Spa Harmonia with a treatment a la carte, or full day cares package, to enjoy the Jacuzzi, hammam, sauna, swimming pool, and fitness room.
After a day spent tasting the divine wines of the nearby Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and Chateau Margaux-- all renowned for their premier grand cru classe-- indulge in gastronomic cuisine that will likewise knock your socks off. At both the gourmet restaurant (Ile Vincent is situated in one of the ancient wine cellars) or the Brasserie du Lac, Chef Laurent Costes creates exceptional dishes to match the region's exceptional wines. For dessert, you must order the chocolate pizza: rich melted chocolate over a thick, round crust of brioche. And breakfast is a sheer delight: bountiful baskets of piping hot crossaints, meats, thick yogurt, fruit, and rich coffee.
What's next: Toddler Teatime or Tween Scene? Looks like Hyatt has pegged the teenage demographic as crucial for future marketing efforts. Now the sweet 16's can "assert their independence" and mark their celebratory milestone with a luxurious sleepover party, with lots of pampering and chocolate manicures, at participating Hyatt Resorts in the U.S. and Caribbean. The Standard Suite 16 Package includes: Birthday Concierge consultation (lucky kids!!), one night luxurious accommodations in a two-bedroom suite, for up to 2 adults and 6 guests under the age of 18, limo transportation, one plush Kashmere Spa Robe for the birthday teen, use of a digital camera while at the hotel and a commemorative picture frame for the birthday teen to take home, dinner for eight catered by in-room dining, special birthday dessert, bowls of popcorn and candy, movie night in room via On Command, use of Cranium(R) games in room, continental breakfast for eight served in-room. Starting at $2,500, and varies by property.
You're about to head out on a trip to Budapest or Timbuktu and you're thinking of starting a blog. Maybe you just want a space to showcase the gazillions of photos you will take (you're a little snap-happy with the new digital). Or maybe you tend to wax poetic about monuments and museums. Or maybe you just want a cool mapping feature to illustrate your travels. Or maybe you want to glean some advice from the locals about trendy hotspots. TravBuddy is the place to do it. TravBuddy is a travel-networking community that allows you to write travel blogs and review destinations all over the world. The Google mapping features are rad. They offer unlimited photo hosting. And it's super easy to post comments and/or connect with other travelers. And TravBuddy is also useful right from your own backyard-- whether you're an enthusiastic armchair traveler or want to share local tidbits about restaurants or shops in your hometown. Check it out.