LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Situated in the heart of Napa Valley wine country, the Harvest Inn is an intimate luxury retreat in St. Helena, California. Surrounded by rolling vineyards and a distant mountain backdrop, the Inn is an inspiring Napa hideaway amidst lush gardens and winding pathways through redwood groves. Guests enjoy the cottages with handcrafted fireplaces, intricate woodwork, and private terraces with intimate spa tubs. The heated outdoor pools and Jacuzzis are nestled within the gardens. This year, the Harvest Inn has partnered with Magnum Tours to offer guests a unique Napa experience with its Napa Confidential Package, allowing guests access to winemakers in the area's smaller, family-owned wineries. Included in the package are personal wine tasting tours at three such estates, chosen by the guest booking the package, as well as a picnic lunch with one of the winemakers. Additional amenities include one bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Noir wine, Woodhouse Chocolate Truffles, and an arrangement of red roses, two outdoor spa treatments in the Redwood Cove adjacent to the vineyard or in the privacy of the guestroom, and two personalized, monogrammed Harvest Inn robes. The two-night package is priced at $2,269 for Friday and Saturday night stays and $1,799 for Sunday through Thursday night stays.
The AAA-Five Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is nothing short of magnificent. Let me count the ways. Breathtaking surroundings of mountains and sun-splashed desert. A vast network of five swimming pools, including the Sonoran Splash pool with waterslides. A premier tennis facility with seven hard courts and a 6,300-seat capacity Stadium Court. Two 18-hole championship Golf courses, one of which is home to the Annual PGA Tour FBR Open (formerly the Phoenix Open). Award-winning restaurants. And the 44,000 square foot Willow Stream Spa, one of the best in North America. Useful tip: In the Spa's MVP room, men find the quintessential spa escape for guys, with plasma screens with wireless headsets, leather and wood decor, the "Bentley" of multi-tasking massage beds, authentic spa treatment menus that are easy-to-understand, the latest issues of sports magazines and business journals, and even tasty home-baked cookies. After a full day on the Tournament Players Club Stadium Course, treat yourself to a 60-minute Golf Performance Treatment Massage ($169 USD), which targets sore muscles after exercise.
The delightful port city of Charleston—brimming with historic charm-- was ranked the fourth best city in the nation by readers of Travel and Leisure magazine. The Golf courses are beloved by readers of Golf Digest magazine. Additionally, Charleston was named a top art destination by American Style Magazine, for its lovely art galleries and exhibits. And come October, Charleston will host the Southern Living Cook-Off 2006, the largest annual cook-off in America, at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, where finalists will prepare their recipes for judges prior to the main event.
Plus, Charleston is home to some of the country's top-ranking hotels, like The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, an oceanside resort celebrated for its incredible natural beauty, championship golf courses and excellent recreational activities, and the stunning Charleston Place, where guests are treated to the finest Southern hospitality in elegant surroundings. (Not to mention the incredibly lavish European-style Spa, with clay tennis court, and a horizon edged swimming pool with retractable glass roof.)
Good Morning America and Travel and Leisure think so, anyway. The Mayflower Inn is a grand Relais and Chateaux country house, less than two hours from New York City. Nestled in 58 acres of gardens and parkland, it's the ideal setting for hiking, kayaking, or playing tennis. The five-star accommodations are luxuriously romantic, 30 different rooms that are billed as the "antidote to urban stress." These finer details include feather topped mattresses, Tabriz rugs, enormous marble bathrooms wainscoted in mahogany, with brass and Limoges fittings, fireplaces, well-stocked mini-bars, flat screen televisions, down comforters, oversized pillows, linens by Frette, four-poster canopied antique beds, and all the modern conveniences including Wi-Fi and cable TV.
The rooms may be heavenly, but for the ultimate pampering experience, head to the destination spa. Newly opened on July 16, 2006, the 20,000 square foot facility includes treatment rooms, fully equipped exercise studios, pool and whirlpool, and moonflower scented Thermal Sanctuary. With its selection of Acitive Body and Mind-Spirit activities along with its full spa menu of restorative treatments, the Mayflower Spa is the ultimate relaxation resource. And Good Morning America isn't the only one to go gaga. Time Out New York calls it "Edenic." The New York Post calls it the "region's sexiest spa." And Vanity Fair gushes to its readers: "Imagine being transported to a kind of heaven on earth..."
Ahh, Capri. Favorite haunt of hedonists, undercover movie stars, and loony Roman Emperor Tiberius, who used to indulge in wild orgies (and was also know to hurl virgin maidens and boys to their deaths over the cliffs). It's little wonder why so many visitors flock to the island. Home of the famous Blue Grotto, and fantastic Roman ruins including Tiberius's many villas, Capri juts up from the deep blue waters of the Bay of Naples overlooking Italy's scenic Amalfi Coast. The landscape is simply gorgeous, and the cuisine is divine. The place to stay? The Hotel Caesar Augustus commands a magnificent view, perched on the clifftop in Anacapri 1,000 feet above the sea, at the very pinnacle of the island. The hotel boasts the most extraordinary vistas to be found on all of Capri, and its infinity swimming pool seems to overflow into the sea of Capri below. For a stay fit for the emperor, book the Suite Cesare; the beautiful light-filled space has superb panoramic views from its private terrace and bathroom jacuzzi. In Spring and September (an ideal time to visit with its plentiful sun-kissed days without the crowds), the hotel offers the Best of Capri Package which includes three nights accommodation in Deluxe room with sea view and buffet breakfast, romantic dinner for two at the restaurant "La Terrazza di Lucullo," tour of the island in a convertible taxi or by private boat, and transfer from/to the port of Capri on arrival and departure. Starting from EUR 1,500. (Quite the steal. Normally you'd pay over $2,000 just for the three-night stay, without the additional amenities.)
The fabled stretch of California coastline—recently featured in the fantastic NYT piece "Road Trip: Chasing the Perfect Taco up the California Coast"—has long been celebrated as one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in the world. In the midst of this rugged beauty, rising above the craggy cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn provides a spectacular view of the Pacific and one of the best dining experiences in the country at Sierra Mar Restaurant. Located just off Highway One, the Post Ranch Inn is a romantic sanctuary of rustic elegance, with 30 guest rooms featuring wood-burning fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, complimentary minibars, private decks, and Pacific and mountain views. The luxurious Spa has been featured as one of the world's best in Travel and Leisure magazine. Enjoy early-morning yoga classes, bask in the sun by the pools, go whale-watching, or participate in a guided nature walk. The award winning Sierra Mar restaurant offers an awe-inspiring setting overlooking the coast, from its perch 1,200 feet above the Pacific. The all-glass dining room is possibly the best place along this coast to enjoy its incomparable beauty.
Tis the season. For fashionable jaunts to the beach in St. Tropez, that is. And for a peaceful alternative to the crowded Riviera scene, head to Villa Marie, a serene and luxurious hideaway that was first brought to our attention by Conde Nast Traveler's 2004 Hot List. Overlooking the sparkling blue Pamplona Bay, Villa Marie is tucked into a secluded pine grove, a peaceful garden oasis of sprawling gardens, vineyards and a magnificent swimming pool carved from the rock. The villa is blissfully removed from the action, but close enough to easily satisfy a craving for a night out on the town (10 minutes away). The 42 guests rooms are uniquely designed with vintage Riviera and plenty of antiques, decorated in subtle pastel shades of pink and blue. The Spa Pure Altitude offers personalized treatments such as the regenerative Himalayan rose facial, the Mediterranean Body Care or theJasmine After-Sun Care. And the restaurant features an exquisite setting—its outdoor terrace has panoramic sea views—and delightful Mediterranean menu, with fresh local fish and produce.
July 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We've written about the Babymoon Packages at the Four Seasons Chicago and Peter Island in the Caribbean. And now it seems the trend is catching on. More and more expectant couples are choosing to travel before the baby's arrival-- to treat themselves to a few days of romance and pampering before the baby makes three. And more and more luxury hotels are organizing Babymoon packages to accommodate them. As highlighted in Newsweek International, Jamaica's Half Moon resort has organized an elaborate, five-day package where moms-to-be (in their first trimester) can even swim with dolphins, which use sonar to communicate with the fetus. At Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, the four-night maternity spa package offers prenatal yoga and exercises, and a special gift of a silver baby fork-and-spoon set.
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.
July 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.