LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
The most hotly anticipated hotel opening in South Florida (delayed for
years months, much to our chagrin.) The glorious Acqualina Resort, located on 400 feet of picture-perfect coastline in Sunny Isles, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, has officially opened its doors. The resort's grand European-inspired architecture graces the oceanfront, its 97 suites featuring private terraces to take in views of the Miami skyline and dazzling seascape. But that's not all. This luxurious haven features the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools, private beach club, and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. Acqualina also offers a special Kids in the Kitchen pastry cooking class, where children play, experiment, and learn their way around a kitchen. Enjoy introductory rates starting at $299 a night at the newly-opened hotel masterpiece.
From December 15-18, 2006, the Cambodian Royal Ballet will perform in front of the majestic temples of Angkor Wat, the UNESCO-protected world heritage that is the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of mythological temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Performed as the sun sets over the magnificent domes, Les Nuits d'Angkor promises to be an epic experience, billed as an elegant embodiment of the history of the Cambodian people, a culture nearly lost on so many occasions throughout its history. The audience is restricted to only 1,300 seats so book fast! Amanresorts is offering a package to enjoy the ballet performance while savoring the romantic tranquility of Amansara, the former guest villa of King Norodom Sihanouk now converted into a 24-suite retreat. Set within beautiful gardens, Amansara features a spa, two pools, roof terrace, library, bar, and exquisitely designed dining room with walk-in wine cellar. Starting from $675 per night in a Suite, with a minimum three-night stay required.
September 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The legendary Caribbean private island resort of Peter Island, accessible only by boat or helicopter, is considered the best place to stay the world over. This is romance and luxurious seclusion at its finest; the oceanfront retreat is a stunning natural paradise of lush mountains, sugary white sand beaches, and turquoise sea. The resort features excellent dining, watersports, and a world-class spa, just steps from the beach. This year-- in order to meet the increasing guest demand recently-- Peter Island will not close for September and October. This is an excellent time to enjoy the island's unparalleled luxury because of the Fall Special Offers, which include the "Peter Island Math" package, where guests pay for four nights and receive the fifth for free. (Valid until October 31, 2006.) The weather in the BVI is gorgeous year-round, but rest assured: Peter Island offers a money back guarantee (or the opportunity to rebook with the same discounted rate) should a hurricane prohibit travel plans.
September 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The mountains of Vermont offer some of the best fall foliage in the country: a gorgeous pastoral of slopes dotted with yellow aspens, orange oaks, and firey red maples. And according to the Peak Foliage Report, the autumn leaves will be at their best starting at the end of September for a three-week period. Escape to The Equinox Resort and Spa in Manchester Village for the best kind of Fall getaway. Situated on 2,300 acres between the Green and Taconic Mountains, the award-winning hotel dates back more than 200 years. Enjoy deluxe accommodations, a recently renovated Avanyu Spa, a wide variety of dining options, and world-class golf at Gleneagles Golf Course. Take advantage of the extraordinary Orvis Inn Extravaganza Package and get lots of goodies with your luxurious accommodations. The Charles Orvis Inn is the elegantly restored 19th-century residence of the Orvis Company Founder which features nine one and two-bedroom suites with marble baths and cherry-paneled kitchens. The two-night package includes accommodations, daily breakfast, a picnic lunch at Hildene, a tour of the Hildene Mansion, chef-prepared dinner for two in Marsh Tavern, a horse-drawn carriage ride, a Falconry lesson, an off-road driving lesson, one 55-minute Avanyu Spa massage per person, picnic lunch at Equinox Pond, and a trip to the Orvis Flagship Store, including transportation and a personal shopper. The package is $810 per person, per night (excluding taxes); available until December 22, 2006.
September 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
La Mer is Hawaii's only Five-Diamond Restaurant. Located in the landmark Halekulani hotel-- its proud global reputation sustained by its long tradition of gracious hospitality and royal service-- La Mer features Neoclassical French cuisine crafted with indigenous island ingredients. Chef Yves Garnier's internationally-acclaimed creations are served amidst breathtaking ocean views, a setting deemed No. 1 for Decor in a Zagat study of the best hotel restaurants. Expect to pay a pretty penny for this divine gourmet experience; La Grande Assiette Gourmande (an appetizer for two people which includes a chef's sampler of Hamachi and Ahi Tartare on a Taro Chip, Lobster Medallions, Fresh Hearts of Palm and Red Beet, Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Marinated Anchovies on Potato, Small Mussel Soup and Sauteed Foie Gras) is $72. Jacket required for gentlemen.
September 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to NYT Travel to hook us up with the latest scoop on the South Beach scene: the hot new hotels breaking ground (move over, Delano!), big name restauranteurs making waves (LA dude Govind Armstrong has big plans with a branch of his Table 8 and David Bouley's staking out a spot in the Ritz-Carlton), and over-the-top parties shaking things up (at new clubs like Mokai, SET, and Snatch).
The hottest hotel opening of the season? The Regent South Beach, a luxury 80-suite condominium hotel, located on 14th and Ocean, in the middle of it all in South Beach. Penthouse Suites are decked out with secluded rooftop gardens, roman hot tubs, and ocean views. There's a full-service European spa, trendy restaurant overlooking Ocean Drive, glass-bottom pool, and first-class amenities. At this new gem, concierge and valet service is 24 hours a day, of course. Renowned architectural firm Arquitectonica is behind the gorgeous building and landscaping.
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.
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.
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.