July 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At the end of a country lane near Damariscotta, at the tip of the peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point is perched dramatically above the crashing surf, a quintessential image of Maine. Here, the landscape and beautiful summer cottages are part of a quaint Down East community that houses one of the best restaurants in Maine. The Bradley Inn is a century-old Bed and Breakfast that delights guests with gracious hospitality and charming accommodations. Its 16 gracious guest rooms feature four poster cherry beds, fireplaces, New England period furnishings, and garden or ocean views. Guests enjoy biking through the area's great natural beauty, croquet on the lawn in the afternoons, and canoeing the local coves and waterways. In the evenings, guests are spoiled at the exceptional dining room, winner of the Wine Spectator award of excellence. As described by Food and Wine Magazine:
(Chef) Carinhas has an eclectic take on local products that lifts them to another level altogether—like big-bellied Maine clams that she fries until crisp and serves with an anchovy mayonnaise, or Atlantic halibut, seared and presented with a Tuscan contorno of white beans and bitter greens.
Nestled in hundreds of acres of jungle in the Yucatan Peninsula's Riviera Maya, Maroma is a secluded hideaway on the edge of the turquoise Caribbean. An Orient-Express Hotel, Maroma reopened in February 2006 with many luxurious renovations, including the addition of eight Sian Nah Suites and a new restaurant. Though only 20 minutes from the Cancun International Airport, the resort is tucked away in a nature reserve, with extensive coral reefs located just offshore from the long stretches of sugary white sand. The 65 elegant rooms and suites are situated within lush gardens, each with open-air terrace, just steps away from the beach, pool, jacuzzi, and the lavish Kinan Spa—where guests are pampered with specialty spa services in open-air palapas with private gardens. From now until November 16, 2006, stay four nights, but only pay for three! This special package includes welcome cocktail, a snorkeling trip to the beautiful reef, use of fitness center, airport transfers and daily a la carte breakfast. Special offer rates start at $1,290 for a Garden Room.
Maroma is also offering a series of Yoga retreats, comprised of daily progressive yoga classes, meditation sessions, spa treatments, a healthy gourmet cooking class, and a menu which includes healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These six-day Yoga Retreats include accommodations for five nights, Holistic Health Advisor Consultations, welcome reception and dinner, daily meditation, daily spa breakfast, daily yoga classes, daily spa treatment, one Healthy Spa gourmet cooking class, trip to Koba, snorkeling excursion, and farewell reception and dinner. Double occupancy rate is $4,475 in Garden Room. Yoga retreats are limited to a maximum of ten people in order to ensure personalized attention. Maroma is now taking reservations for the August 24 to 29, 2006, October 19 to 24, November 9 to 14, 2006, May 3 to 8, 2007, and June 7 to 12, 2007 retreats.
July 19, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board On Tuesday, July 18th, Loews Hotels President Jack Adler presented plans at the NBTA conference in Chicago for the company's expansion and brand initiatives. To increase Loews Hotels' distribution, the company has plans to expand into target cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Vancouver. According to Loews, resort locations are also on the drawing board, including a 400 plus room resort in Lake Las Vegas. Slated to open in 2009, it would be Loews Hotels’ first property with a residential component, featuring 125 condo hotel units and 350 traditional guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space and distinctive entertainment facilities. Additional brand initiatives in the next 5 years include furthering the Loews idea of "Four Diamond and more" properties while ensuring that each hotel is supremely comfortable, vibrant and uniquely local. For example, in Miami, Loews teams with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse to offer Emeril’s South Beach and in New York, a successful partnership with celebrated musician Michael Feinstein promises a vibrant New York cabaret experience for Loews guests. On the design and décor front, the Loews brand promise ensures that each property has a distinctly local sensibility. In Nashville, for example, the hotels whimsical décor is reflective of the destination's "Music City" moniker. A final initiative is the Loews Branded Breakfast Experience, a program that further differentiates the brand in the luxury field. The Breakfast at Loews program has several distinguishing features, including an expanded beverage program featuring a custom shaken "juice bar" and specialty press coffee; a chef-selected "breakfast amuse" and a to-go cup of coffee at departure.
Ritz-Carlton is expanding its portfolio of award-winning luxury properties in the Caribbean, with its eight hotel in St. Lucia slated to open in 2009. And the island destination isn't a shabby choice; St. Lucia is celebrated for its unspoiled natural beauty and verdant landscape marked by the Piton volcanoes. Situated on Half Moon Bay with spectacular views of the Piton peaks, the new Ritz-Carlton will be an exclusive haven of 275 oceanfront rooms. The resort will be enhanced by a 20,000 square foot spa and two 18-hole golf courses overlooking the Atlantic, including one designed by Arnold-Palmer. Dining venues will include a specialty restaurant with pool grill, 30-seat lobby lounge, and a clubhouse restaurant and bar next to the golf course. Ritz-Carlton is already anticipating the St. Lucia resort to be a hot spot for destination weddings and meetings.
It doesn't get much better than the stunning Amalfi Coast. Dotted with pictureseque hill towns and sun-kissed vineyards and olive groves, the cliffs soar above the azure waters of the Mediterranean. In this spectacular landscape, the Hotel Caruso commands the ultimate location, situated 350 meters above the sea, hugging the cliffside. The entrance is magical: wind your way between tiny alleys lined with white stucco houses. The hotel's 50 rooms are individually decorated with 18th century antiques, and have terraces and sea views, while some boast a private garden. Each spacious room is equipped with satellite TV, DVD (movies are available at reception), private bar, separate bath and shower in the bathrooms, deluxe amenities from Bulgari, and Play Station available upon request. The infinity pool is among the most beautiful in the world, sitting high atop the cliff overlooking the sea. A variety of massage and spa services are available in-room, including traditional massage, Shiatsu, Senritsu: Firming and Toning Body Treatment, and Sensai Beauty: Premier Facial Treatment. The town of Ravello is a delight to discover, though the hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle service to the neighboring towns of Amalfi and Positano.
July 18, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board Just in case you needed another reason to visit New York City this month, The Bryant Park Hotel - which is a best romantic hotel winner - has rates starting as low as $249! Visit the weekend of the 21st - 23rd and get a room for the Deanna Witkowski's Piano in the Park Performance, or maybe come the weekend of the 28th-30th and see Kuni Mikami's Piano in the Park Show. Get their early on Friday mornings and you can see the Good Morning America Concert Series in the Park - with Taylor Hicks or Huey Lewis and News. Check for rates at Bryant Park for July 21st-23rd Check for rates at Bryant Park for July 28th-30th
In early July, The Stein Group announced that the 19th century palatial hotel, located between Nice and Monaco on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Med, has joined its gorgeous collection of luxury hotels. Located in Eze-Bord-de-Mer, Cap Estel is surrounded by lush gardens draped with bougainvillea and wisteria, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, and the pink facades of villas in the French Riviera's charming villages. As one of the area's most renowned boutique hotels, with only eight rooms and 12 suites, Cap Estel has hosted royalty, politicians, and celebrities from all over the world. Guests are delighted by the personalized service and excellent facilities: private beach, indoor heated pool, outdoor salt water infinity pool perched over the Mediterranean, state-of-the-art gym, and extensive gardens. All rooms have a balcony or terrace with sea view, and are equipped with cutting edge technology: LCD or plasma screen TVs, DVD/CD player, individually controlled A/C and heating units, and internet connections. The property has just emerged from a meticulous, three-year restoration. The Stein Group now boasts 17 prestigious hotels in its portfolio, many of which dot the Mediterranean.
July 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's being called the "largest development in the hemisphere." The O Property Collection has announced its development of 2.24 sq-mile Dellis Cay, a breaktakingly beautiful island in the Turks and Caicos. With stunning tropical beaches and lagoons, the islands are also known for their spectacular diving and snorkeling, as the third largest coral reef system in the world is located just off-shore. This flagship project is located just 20 minutes from Providenciales. According to Travel Weekly:
Scheduled to open in 2008, the project is estimated to generate a billion dollars worth of sales within the next five years… The development will be divided into lifestyle zones, each designed by a different architect. OPC, which also has projects planned in the Mediterranean and Asia, will partner with hotel management companies to run the individual properties worldwide. Although each property development will be different, Kinay said that they will all "bear the marks of the OPC signature brand -- timeless architecture, sleek design, a fit with the natural surroundings and the finest in amenities and services."
But the company's website is remarkably vague about a project of this magnitude:
The Project involves building infrastructure and about 70,000 square meters of construction within the next three to five years. On the island, which will be divided into "lifestyle areas" designed by the world's foremost architects, the focus will be on creating an upscale, exclusive private island serving the needs of affluent travelers.
July 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Rob Wilder, Food & Wine Editor and Member of the Five Star Alliance Editorial Advisory Board In the US, great views usually are accompanied by mediocre food. Fortunately in Athens a different rule applies. Three of the better restaurants in town treat you to spectacular views. The menu at Pil Pil is only marginally Greek, but the location reminds you why you came to Athens. The dramatically lit Acropolis literally soars above this romantic patio, atop a small townhouse by the ancient agora. It is an "only in the movies" kind of setting! While somewhat pricey, Pil Pil delivers with fine Greco-Mediterranean dishes and excellent service. For an equally dramatic but very different panorama, ride the funicular to the top of Mount Lycavetus to Orizondes, a highly respected modern Greek restaurant perched atop this 1,000 foot cliff. With the chaotic jumble of Athens way below you, Orizondes produces wonderful food and service. Both restaurants have good selections of high quality Greek wines... look for any by Gerovasiliou or Kyr-Yianni. Finally, for a Michelin one-star experience with an almost equal view, head to the rooftop at Varoulko. Creative interpretations of every kind of Greek seafood are excellent. Perhaps the best overall dining experience in Athens? During our meal a summer lightning storm crashed around us, and our Greek friends coolly told us not to worry, the storm would miss us. Even when a few drops started falling, not a single diner budged from their open air seats- too enthralled with their dinners. The storm miraculously passed us by - Another magical evening in Athens! On the hotel front, we have had two good experiences at the St. George Lycabetus, perched on a hill over the upscale shopping area of Kolonaki. Fine rooms, great views (and rooftop pool), and an excellent location. Friends have also loved the Grand Bretagne, but it is both more expensive and in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Syntagma Square. The shops and restaurants of Kolonaki are big draw - our favorite is Papadakis, a youthful and modern take on the Greek Taverna with wonderful food and service. 9 Luxury Hotels in Athens from Five Star Alliance
July 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The temperatures may be hot and steamy, but the prices are record-low. Head on down to Miami during Hurricane Season and seize the deal at South Beach hot spots like The Setai. Right now, the deals are unbelievable at Adrian Zecha's elegant beachfront masterpiece. Summer rates are starting at just $495, through September 2006. (The celeb-favorite Setai usually charges an arm and a leg.) Set amidst tropical gardens and turquoise pools next to the Atlantic, the Art Deco landmark has been beloved for its intimate ambience, impeccable service, and awesome facilities since its opening in 2005. No detail is overlooked in the 75 guestrooms and 45 suites, stacked with amenities: espresso machines, in-room bars, Bose surround-sound DVD/CD systems, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, luxurious bath products, and flat screen LCD and plasma TVs. Enjoy a deep therapeutic massage at the luxurious spa overlooking the sand and sea, and then savor the excellent cuisine at the Crustacean restaurant. And The Setai is located in the middle of it all on Collins Avenue, close to the hottest dining, shopping and nightlife in South Beach.