September 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Thailand's swanky new Suvarnabhumi International Airport-- that's NBK in airport code-- opened on Friday... a soft launch with a few domestic and international flights. By September 28, this flashy new airport is expected to handle most of the flights from the nearby, aging Don Muang airport (BKK). The new airport, expected to accommodate up to 45 million passengers a year, is set to become a regional aviation hub, competing with Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The best part of all is the new high-speed rail link and five alternative routes to the city center (bye bye, nasty Bangkok gridlock).
The myriad charms of Turin were revealed to the world during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. And it's no wonder the vibrant city now tops the list of holiday getaways for travelers this year. This winter, hit the slopes near Turin and stay at the chic Le Meridien Lingotto, formerly a Fiat automobile factory. It's a masterpiece of modern design and restoration: loft-style guest rooms still preserve the original Fiat glass walls (lots of natural light) and the rooftop track which was once used to test cars, is now used by guests for a morning run. From the rooftop, gaze out at Turin's beautiful cityscape of churches and castles: the rich culture of Italy at your feet. And be sure to explore the top floor art gallery, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli. The hotel is directly connected to the Lingotto Exhibition and Congress Center, designed by famed architect Renzo Piano— its first floor occupied by a one-kilometer long shopping small "8 Gallery" with excellent boutiques and cafes.
Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, schools of colorful fish, sea lions… The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most fascinating wildlife on earth, a living study of evolutionary science since Charles Darwin first sailed through these isolated islands. A 10-day voyage with International Expeditions— the premier provider of nature travel tours and environmentally responsible expeditions for over 25 years— allows visitors the chance to see these remarkable animals up close and personal, in their natural habitat. Explore the islands' diverse terrain-- deserts, beaches, forests, and small active volcanoes-- and snorkel next to tortoises and sea lions in the clear Pacific waters. Sail aboard the Evolution, a newly-refurbished ship crafted like the European steamers of old, with comfortable accommodations for just 32 guests. During the trip, you will be accompanied by highly-trained naturalist guides extremely knowledgeable about the Galapagos wildlife. There are a few spaces available for 2006 journeys, with departures on October 6 and 20; November 3 and 24; and December 15.
Berlin's newest five-star hotel will open its doors on October 12, 2006. Located in the heart of the city, the Hotel de Rome is housed in an historic building originally constructed in 1889 and retains much of the original architectural detail. The 146 guest rooms showcase a combination of classical design and contemporary "Berlin style" glass and steel, with all the latest cutting-edge technology, including Broadband Internet and interactive flat-screen television. Bathrooms feature mosaic marble detailing above double-ended baths, and separate walk-in showers. The 120 square meter Presidential Suite features a gorgeous full-length terrace overlooking Bebelplatz. The hotel also boasts six conference rooms and banquet hall, restaurant, bar, health and fitness center with swimming pool, and Spa with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and plunge pool.
To celebrate its opening, the Hotel de Rome is pleased to offer a special promotion: "Hotel de Rome Best Friends." When you make a reservation during the months of October and November 2006, you'll receive an automatic room upgrade, a welcome drink with canapés and a VIP special gift. Please quote "Hotel de Rome Best Friends" when booking. Offer subject to availability.
For an unforgettable holiday, head to the authentic, breathtakingly-restored Victorian inn in the heart of San Diego. The Britt Scripps Inn is all about decadent romance: each of its nine guestrooms have been individually designed and decorated with rich, hand-crafted period antiques. Charm and traditional elegance blend with modern day luxurious (like flat screen TVs, high speed internet, and heated towel racks in the bathrooms). Just a short walk from Balboa Park and the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the Britt Scripps Inn promises a lavish and unique holiday getaway. And during the winter months, the Inn is quite a sight, lit up by 135,000 lights and decorated with a phenomenal holiday display of flowers, 100 wreaths, and over 4,000 paper white narcissus and amaryllis flowers blooming in the garden. Enjoy the Mistletoe Memories package, which includes your choice of any of the nine guestrooms (based on availability), evening wine and hors d'oeuvres, full gourmet breakfast for two, exclusive Britt Scripps Inn "Mistletoe Memories CD"- A Contemporary Holiday Jazz Collection, a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne, and a set of two "Marquis by Waterford-The Romance Collection" Crystal Champagne Flutes.” From $495 (exclusive of tax). Subsequent nights $300. Available November 23, 2006 through January 1, 2007.
Here's good news from the incredible indoor ski and snowboard center at the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai: Ski Dubai will be hosting a Jam Session on Monday, September 18, 2006 with Olympic Snowboarder Gold Medalist Tanja Frieden. The event will be judged and the Best Overall Freestyler will be jetting off to snowy Switzerland, courtesy of Swiss International Airlines. A winner for "Best Trick of the Night" will also be awarded. Ski Dubai's Freestyle Nights, which take place every other Monday between 8 and 11 pm, are a riotous good time with DJs playing good tunes all evening (highlights on the runs include a volcano, barrel hump, four-meter table-top jump, and monster ramp at mid-station), and this Jam Session promises to be a blast. Register at Ski Dubai on the night.
After the devastation caused by Hurricane Wilma, Cancun is making a grand comeback. The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun is the latest luxury hotel to announce its reopening, scheduled for September 27, 2006 after a dazzling renewal program. Proudly advertising its status as the "world's only Triple Five Diamond oceanfront resort," the exclusive hotel has been completely refurbished with new features and attractions. Considered one of the most luxurious resorts in the world, the Ritz-Carlton, Cancun sits on a spectacular white sand beach, (115 feet wide and 1,200 feet long), the pride of Cancun. The hotel's tiled roofs, fountains, wrought iron handrails, and private patios reflect the region's rich Spanish-Mexican heritage. With AAA Five Diamond restaurants, the indulgent Kayanta Spa, Cliff Drysdale Tennis Club and Pro Shop with three outdoor courts, sculpted outdoor pools, fitness center, and new Culinary Center, this tropical getaway is well deserving of the 2005 National Quality Award, presented by Mexican President Vicente Fox.
There's no shortage of spectacular picnic spots in Vancouver: observe harbor seals from your seat on the rocks at Lighthouse Park, hit the rainforest trails of Stanley Park (or soak up the sun at Third Beach), find a spot in the grass on Granville Island (after kayaking down False Creek), enjoy the people-watching along the seawall at Davie Street in Yaletown, or unpack your picnic after hiking Grouse Mountain, munching on lunch while savoring the beautiful view of city and ocean. Four Seasons Vancouver has recently launched a Day Tripper Menu, so that guests can visit these gorgeous urban picnic spots with a deluxe gourmet meal (by backpack or basket).
Recently named as one of the top ten luxury hotels "worth the splurge" by SmarterTravel.com, Cheeca Lodge is the ultimate Caribbean resort— only it's still within the continental United States. Situated on 27 lush acres in Islamorada, halfway down the Florida Keys archipelago, Cheeca Lodge delights guests with its luxurious facilities: spa with lap pool, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, six lighted tennis courts, saltwater lagoon stocked full of fish, a myriad of water sports, brand new Deluxe Beachfront Bungalows with private balconies and gardens, and award-winning dining. Just offshore, the only tropical coral reef in the continental US delights snorkelers and divers with its teeming marine life, and anglers are thrilled by the fishing opportunities— 600 species of fish in the surrounding waters!— in the self-proclaimed "sport fishing capital of the world."
And from now until mid-December 2006, Cheeca Lodge and Spa is celebrating its 60th anniversary and offering special room rates of 40 percent off. Rates start from $160 per night, and includes accommodations in a Deluxe Resort View Room, $60 credit towards food purchases or spa treatment, and a chilled bottle of champagne in room upon arrival. Must book room for a Sunday or Monday night arrival. Two-night minimum required. Make your reservation by October 6, 2006.
Le Meridien Tahiti is one of those dreamy tropical locales— you know, the ones with over-water bungalows on stilts over the perfectly clear blue— that travel magazines ooh and ahh about. It's also got a swimming pool with a sandy bottom, a long white-sand beach that curves around a gorgeous lagoon, water sports aplenty (cruise on a catamaran with or without a skipper), tennis and volleyball, and excellent dining options. From now until mid-December, Le Meridien Tahiti has slashed their prices and is offering the "Linger Longer for Less" package, at 50 percent off hotel rack rates. A three-night stay (double occupancy) will set you back a mere $820; six nights-- $1,490. At $249 a night, what a steal.