July 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.
This is English country living at its finest. Set in the quaint village of Evershot in the heart of the Dorset Downs, Summer Lodge is a luxurious English Country House retreat. Named by Harpers and Queen as one of the Best 100 Places in the World, Summer Lodge arranges for its guests a host of country pursuits—horseback riding, fishing, golfing, shooting—though many of the distinguished clientele prefer simply to enjoy the relaxation and serenity of the hotel's exquisite grounds. Relax in the Spa or by the beautiful swimming pool (housed in a glass conservatory), play croquet on the lawn or a game of tennis, work-out at the gym with your own personal trainer, take traditional tea in the afternoon, and sample the gastronomic delights at the award-winning restaurant. Accommodations are exceptional; the 20 guestrooms and four suites are individually decorated and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including large plasma screen TV and DVD, satellite TV and Internet access. Choose the master bedroom for a truly unforgettable stay. Room One was originally designed for famed writer Thomas Hardy and boasts a magnificent open fireplace and four poster bed overlooking the beautifully manicured English country gardens. Though you can't go wrong with the Ivy Cottage and its private hot tub in the courtyard garden.
With some superb packages now on offer at the Summer Lodge, why wait to reserve a well-deserved vacation? 3 nights for the price of 2 is available until December 31, 2006, and includes full English breakfast, morning newspaper, evening turndown, complimentary use of the Health Club, and 20 percent off treatments in the Spa. The Pampering Package is available until December 31, 2006, and includes: two nights accommodations (Superior Room), full English breakfast daily, Matis Total Youth Facial, Back, Neck and Shoulder massage.
The much-anticipated World's Best Awards has just been released by Travel and Leisure. In these 11th annual reader polls, the chic Singita Private Game Reserve scores at the top of the hotel list, after debuting as number 1 in the world in 2004. What makes the Singita such a hot property? Lions, tigers, and…elephants galore, and on top of that, some of the finest accommodations on the planet, consisting of 18 suites spread out within five lodges. The Sabi Sands is a wildlife mecca, and situated in the middle of this dramatic landscape, the lodges at Singita are internationally recognized as among the most exclusive in the world. After a daily expedition into the African bush, continue the wildlife viewing from the privacy of your own private deck. Or appreciate the gorgeous surroundings while indulging in a massage or beauty treatment at the excellent spa. Enjoy exceptional cuisine complemented by impressive wine cellars: each Singita lodge has a unique and comprehensive wine cellar, totalling approximately 35,000 bottles of the finest South African wines.
Gridskipper on the World's Best Awards, "This Just In: Tourists Love Touristy City"
In an incomparable setting on Baja's turquoise Sea of Cortes, Esperanza is a chic and alluring paradise created by Auberge Resorts. The sandstone villas are impossibly romantic: carved into the bluffs overlooking the sea, where the humpback whales migrate just offshore. The infinity pool seems to spill into the private cove beneath, with stunning views of the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. At the terraced Restaurant, enjoy a star-studded menu of local fish, like almond seared rare yellowfin tuna with warm avocado pie or grilled dorado steak with ricotta crepes and dark pasilla-huitlacoche mole. Or toss back a Piña Dorada at El Bar, watching the sun dip below the Pacific's horizon. The resort's 56 guest rooms and suites have oversized tubs, large outdoor terraces and handcrafted furniture. Unique spa treatments--like grated coconut and lime body exfoliation-- feature natural, indigenous ingredients. After a yoga or pilates class, relax in the warm soaking pool or the indoor steam cave. Other recreational activities include diving, sailing and kayaking trips.
Until September 30, guests can save up to 35 percent off with a special summer package at Esperanza: a five-night (midweek) getaway starting at $2,217 per couple. The "Baja Bliss" package includes five accommodations in an ocean-view terrace casita, two 60-minute Tropical Essence Spa treatments, complimentary yoga classes, nonalcoholic refreshments in a mini bar, complimentary DVD and CD library, and complimentary use of beach cabanas. Inclusive of taxes and service charges. The Baja Bliss package is also available for a five-night weekend package, starting from $2,697.