September 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Though hardly new— the exclusive private island of Cayo Espanto has been pampering guests since 1998— the ultra-luxe resort has put Ambergris Cay, Belize on the map. Just eight minutes by boat from the town of San Pedro on Ambergris, Cayo Espanto has developed the best kind of environmentally-friendly luxury resort. The five oceanfront villas are sprawling in size and feature personal plunge pools, private docks, al fresco showers, romantic mosquito netting over the beds, and 180 degree wrap-around views of the Caribbean. Here, lucky guests enjoy the ultimate pampered relaxation: spa services are readily available, chefs prepare personalized gourmet fare with the freshest tropical ingredients, and activities include fly-fishing, boating and conching excursions, scuba diving and snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world (including the famous Blue Hole), and sailing to deserted beaches for a gourmet picnic. Though Belize is less than two hours from Miami, its sparkling waters are still largely undiscovered. Enjoy your own private island at Cayo Espanto.
As featured in the Robb Report (our friends at the Helium Report have published an awesome summary of the September issue, check it out!)— the world-renowned Miraval, Life in Balance Resort continues to pave the way for lifestyle resorts with the innovative and ground-breaking work of its Director of Integrative Health and Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil. America's leading expert on mind-body living, Dr. Weil has devoted the past thirty years to developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine. His books include the national bestsellers Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Eating Well for Optimum Health and The Healthy Kitchen.
As part of the Miraval resort's Luminaries Series— where guests are invited to meet and speak with thinkers who have shaped the ideas of our time— Andrew Weil will lead a special workshop on Healthy Aging at Miraval from October 29-November 1, 2006. Rates per person are $3092.06 single occupancy all-inclusive and $2738.32 double occupancy all-inclusive. Includes three nights luxurious accommodation, all retreat programming, three gourmet meals daily, evening appetizers, snacks and all non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited access to all scheduled programs and activities, one spa service, one-on-one consultation or one round of golf up to a $110 value per person, per night of stay, and round trip transportation from Tucson International Airport.
Consistently ranked the number one destination spa in the world, Miraval, Life in Balance is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Southern Arizona, its 104 exquisite hacienda-style guestrooms situated on 400 manicured acres in the picturesque Sonoran Desert. The resort offers luxury, privacy and a healthful focus for the body, mind and spirit. There is no strict regimen: guests are free to create daily agendas that suit their own goals.
In early October 2006, Kempinski Hotels, Europe's oldest luxury hotel group, will open a new five-star hotel in Shenzhen, China, the Special Economic Zone situated in the Pearl River Delta at the southern tip of Guangdong Province, connected to Hong Kong by a cross-sea bridge. Another hotel is slated for China: Kempinski will open its 380-room Huizhou property— boasting a spa, fitness center, four restaurants, and even a micro-brewery-- in 2008.
In Jakarta, the former Hotel Indonesia is being converted into a Kempinski luxury hotel scheduled to open at the end of 2007. And hot off the press: Kempinski recently announced plans to manage a hotel in Khao Lak, Thailand, the beach resort destination not far from famed Phuket. In the first phase of development, the hotel will open 320 rooms within landscaped gardens and lagoons on a white sand beach in autumn 2007. Phase II, to include 40 pool villas, will be completed in 2009.
By the end of 2009, Kempinski expects to manage a total of 29 hotels in Asia.
Your own pristine private island accessible only by boat and seaplane, Little Palm Island is a lush tropical paradise listed among the top resorts in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. The internationally-acclaimed resort has got it all: romantic, spacious guestrooms (outfitted with ocean facing verandahs, private outdoor showers and jetted tubs), a heated lagoon style pool, natural white sand beach (rare for the Keys!), cozy Great Room library, endless array of watercraft choices, and fitness room. But the best part of all is the candle-lit Dining Room. Recently voted the best Hotel Dining Room in the Southeast by the Zagat Survey and number three in the nation, the Dining Room creates a real epicurean experience, sure to delight even the most discriminating of foodies. Executive Chef Luis Pous and his culinary team serve exceptional French-Caribbean plates served in a magical setting overlooking the turquoise sea. (And the service is really unparalleled.)
Amanresorts has devised an incredible expedition to explore Komodo National Park, the World Heritage Site in the magical islands of Indonesia, where guests will be escorted by park rangers to view the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. Though the 2006 Komodo Expedition is completely sold out, Amanwana is taking reservations for the 2007 expeditions, to take place between May and October 2007.
The seven-night adventure cruise is an island-hopping adventure to some of the world's most pristine marine environments, colorful dive spots, and beautiful beaches. Guests board the Ikan Gurami-- a traditional 27-meter coastal cruiser romantically reminiscent of the spice trade sailing vessels—which consists of luxurious, air-conditioned teak cabins perfect for a few couples or a family. For the last two nights of the expedition, guests enjoy the resort of Amanwana—a luxury tented wilderness hideaway-- and its nature reserve of Moyo Island. From here, explore the jungle's waterfalls and limestone pools, partake in endless water sports, or indulge in a spa treatment. Starting at $14,150 for an Ocean Tent (one couple.) Includes meals and dives.
What could be better than good Southern eats, coupled with that legendary Southern hospitality, at the elegant Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina's picturesque Low Country? The 2006 Andrew Harper's Hideaway Grand Award Winner is a peaceful and luxurious retreat just minutes from Savannah and Hilton Head Island. Surrounded by flowering gardens overlooking the May River, the Inn provides the ultimate pampering resort experience expected of a world-renowned Auberge Resort. It is also South Carolina's greatest golf resort.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday with the Inn at Palmetto Bluff and treat yourself to a delicious, traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the River House along with a slew of exciting family-oriented activities. Beginning Thursday, November 23 and continuing through Sunday, November 26, 2006 fun-filled adventures include: family games, the Crab Cake Social, 5K Turkey Trot, oyster roast, cider and hot chocolate around the fire pits, cooking and and wine demonstration, and a cruise on the May River for dolphin watching.
The quiet island of Vieques, located eight miles off Puerto Rico's east coast, could be the best-kept secret in the Caribbean. Dreamy, secluded and breathtakingly beautiful, the island's 55 square miles are pristine and untouristed. The island's swankiest hotel, the Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, will close at the end of September to morph into the Caribbean's first W Hotel, slated to open next year. For the next month, the hotel is offering exceedingly attractive rates starting at $149 a night (that's a 30 percent discount). Set on two gorgeous Atlantic-facing beaches, the hotel features sumptuous accommodations, excellent dining, world-class spa, recreational facilities galore, and a large two-level pool surrounded by a lovely coral-stone sundeck.
Easily one of the hottest new hotels in the world, The Standard shook things up in Miami when it opened in late 2005, created by hotelier Andre Balazs as a hydrotherapy playground with communal spa activities. The hotel represents the advanced spa-hotel concept at its finest, with its incredible and innovative spa. (Mud lounge, anyone?) Located on quiet Belle Island, a calm refuge from South Beach, The Standard, Miami is as creative with the names of its room types-- Missionary, Lush, Dry, Wet, and the Full Spread—as it is with the spa features and amenities. Guest rooms are designed in the simple Scandinavian tradition, with plush features including Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy pillows, day beds, private outdoor living rooms, mood lighting, spa showers, outdoor soaking tubs, mini bars stuffed with yummy organic stuff, Kiss My Face amenities, high speed internet, flat screen TVs, DVD library and CD players.
Now couldn't be a better time to check out this higher Standard, with a hot Autumn deal from the hotel. The Holistic Hideaway is a two-night escape for just $395, which includes Accommodations, Limitless use of indoor and outdoor baths, Turkish hammam, sauna, aroma steam room, sound pool, Roman waterfall, hot tub, arctic plunge and gymnasium, Your choice of either one in-room "Standard" massage or two "quickie" massages, An invigorating "Just Pure" herbal bath, Complimentary access to the mud lounge, Two Yoga classes in The Standard's Movement and Meditation Center, Spa breakfasts for two every morning, and a two-course wholesome dinner for two at The Lido Restaurant. Wow.
Via Daily Candy (The package is just $350 for Daily Candy readers)
The leaf-peeping season is just around the corner, and luxurious New England Inns await your stay. Forbes has defined "a new breed of very high-class New England inns, converted country houses and B&Bs"-- inns that showcase the best of top-tier hospitality and ultra-luxurious amenities. Forbes' annual list of Great New England Inns includes the likes of the dazzling, new Mayflower Inn, home to the "best spa in North America," just a few hours from NYC.
September 6, 2006
By: Courtney W. May
I stayed at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia on the night of July 15th in Guest Room 606 (a deluxe room). I admit I got an awesome rate last minute and because I have a travel agency IATA card (for full disclosure I must mention that), I got a nice rate, but it wasn't free and I made no promises about my reviews. Now I'll cut to the chase and just list for you all of the good (and maybe bad) things to consider on your trip to Richmond.
* The rooms (at least all of the ones I saw) are HUGE (ceilings are tall, windows are large, and the closest had tons of space).
* The city of Richmond is not the absolute greatest view to have -I am not saying it's not bad)- but most importantly - none of the rooms at The Jefferson have views that are into walls, parking garages, or anything like that.
* The hotel pool is indoors, which might be nice in the winter, but Richmond is incredibly hot and in the summer a nice outdoor pool would be really, really nice.
* The Sunday Brunch is everything, plus more, that you've heard about.
* Again, let me say, Richmond is really, really hot in the summer.
* The employees are some of the best I've ever come across (they couldn't have been more helpful).
* I was able to walk to all of the locations I wanted to visit while in Richmond, but if I didn't want to the hotel would have provided a town car free of charge.
* Although not associated with the hotel, the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond is a lot of fun and has great restaurants.
* The guest rooms have a strange layout and you can never expect two rooms in the same room category to be exactly equal - but that is because the hotel was built in 1895.
* It is really hard to get reservations for the Sunday morning brunch - so make sure you reserve early.
* Make sure to ask for a non-smoking room if you don't smoke - you're in tobacco country.
The end result is that I definitely want to go back. I traveled from the DC area (which prices for everything are much, much higher) and wouldn't mind spending two or three weekends in the fall, winter and spring in the Richmond area. Rates for this five star hotel are lower then you will find in more places - yet provide you with some of the best services I have experienced. You may not think you have a reason to visit Richmond, but The Jefferson is it.
More candid photos from the trip can be found in my Richmond, VA Photoset on Flickr.
By: Courtney W. May