January 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In the tiny town of Irvington in rural Tidewater Virginia, nestled between the banks of Carter's creek and other graceful tributaries that feed the Chesapeake Bay, the townsfolk used to talk. The goss was that The Tides Inn had fallen into disrepair, its guestrooms, restaurants and facilities disgraced beyond the pale. But that was before the new management company committed over $10 million to wide-sweeping renovations, including the gorgeous modernization of all guestrooms and the hotel exterior. Now the not exactly tight-lipped town is abuzz about the recent hire of a new, world-class chef. Though closed during the winter months, The Tides Inn commands a superb location overlooking its own award-winning marina on Carter's Creek, and beautifully manicured golf course. Other recreational facilities include tennis courts, swimming pools, sand beach, fishing, biking, not to mention river cruises on the National Historic yacht, Miss Ann.
The Tides Inn, Official Site
The Tides Inn, Five Star Alliance
January 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Situated in perhaps the most stunning city on earth, perched above the Atlantic with dramatic views of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, the hotel and spa is often deemed the best in Africa (sure Leading Hotels may be a teensy bit biased in their choices, but mags like CNT also rave that the Twelve Apostles is pretty darn hot...) Swim in the rock pool overlooking the ocean, enjoy prime diving spots nearby or head out on whale and dolphin watching excursions. In the afternoon, relax in the exceptional Sanctuary Spa (the treatments are beyond lavish), or imbibe a few drinks on the terrace. Though tearing yourself away from the luxury of your room may prove difficult. Further enticements include some sweet special packages, i.e. Stay Four Nights For the Price of Three! Along with the complimentary 4th night, you'll score some fun amenities: welcome drink on arrival, full South African breakfast daily, luxury shuttle transfers within a 13 km radius, and daily wine tastings.
Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Official Site
Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Five Star Alliance
Discover the ultimate in luxury and seclusion at this elegant 17th century hacienda on the mesmerizing Mediterranean isle of Mallorca. Dating from 1672, the Gran Hotel Son Net features an exquisite patio, terraces, the original interior beams, beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, and walls graced by an awesome collection of modern art. And with only 25 rooms and suites, guests are ensured the utmost in privacy and the most attentive of service. The perfect Valentine's retreat includes two nights accommodations, two Son Net breakfasts, a bottle of cava and fresh fruit arrangement in-room, and a romantic candle-lit dinner at L'Orangerie restaurant. Prices starting at EUR 225 per person, valid Feb 10-28.
Gran Hotel Son Net, Official Site
Gran Hotel Son Net, Five Star Alliance
Happy 5th to the Mandarin Oriental Miami! What's in store for this year's big birthday bash? Why, lucky guests can pamper themselves with a free night at this most luxurious and swanky of Miami's oceanfront properties. With the "Fifth Anniversary, Fifth Free Night" package, reserve five nights and get the last one free. Even better, if you too are celebrating a fifth anniversary, book the "Five Year Celebration" package and receive all kinds of goodies. Accommodations for two nights, a five-year anniversary gift made of wood, five-piece gift box from Norman Love Chocolates, and a $50 resort credit to use in the restaurants, bars, beach club, and spa, starting at $915.
Mandarin Oriental Miami, Official Site
Mandarin Oriental Miami, Five Star Alliance
January 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Enjoy a winter respite on the stunning beaches of Thailand, and help the economy rebound from the tsunami devastation. Take advantage of special rates at the Le Royal Meridien Phuket Yacht Club, a steal at $175 a night. Soak up the sun on your room's private terrace overlooking the Andaman Sea, or enjoy a wide range of watersports activities. In the privacy of the luxurious Royal Spa—boasting spectacular treatment rooms with a large veranda, waterfall wall, and sweeping ocean views—indulge in the signature Spa Treatment. Le Royal Massage combines Thai and Swedish massage with aromatherapy and Shiatsu.
Le Royal Meridien Phuket Yacht Club, Official Site
Le Royal Meridien Phuket Yacht Club, Five Star Alliance
Cupids, lace paper doilies, elaborate pink cards with ornate trim... embrace the Victorian symbols of Saint Valentine. For those seeking a truly romantic, and truly Victorian Valentine's Day, 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. With such doting attention to the details of design, the owner didn't skimp on the technology: rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs, high speed internet, and heated towel racks in the bathrooms. Start the perfect day with the renowned complimentary full breakfast, a bountiful feast of freshly baked breads, omelettes with herbs picked from the garden, and french toast with caramelized apples.
The Britt Scripps Inn, Official Site
The Britt Scripps Inn, Five Star Alliance
Discover the most elegant chateau in the heart of Reims. What could be a more romantic destination than Champagne country!? The historic, award-winning Chateau les Crayeres, set in a 7-hectare park, is known for its phenomenal restaurant. This is the ultimate gourmet retreat, guaranteed to be some of the best damn cuisine you will taste in your life. The menu is simply extraordinary; you'll start salivating immediately at first glance. And the rooms aren't so shabby either. (Conde Nast, T and L and all those folks seem to think this place worthy of their top awards.)
Chateau les Crayeres, Official Site
Chateau les Crayeres, Five Star Alliance
January 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
I fell asleep on the cold deck of the ferry from Naples, my bag as a cushion for star-gazing at the endless vault above, the night furious with wind, and awoke at dawn to the sight of the looming volcanic island of Stromboli, its conical peak sputtering with ash and red flaming rock. (There are easier and faster means of transportation to these remote islands- namely, the ferry from much-closer Sicily). What a welcome! The Aeolian Islands had long conjured a mythical image in my head; after all, the ancient Greeks described this small string of islands as the home of the God of Wind. (And Homer described the voyage of Odysseus passing through these islands with the help of a favorable wind.) Craggy cliffs covered in vegetation, dotted with white-washed houses draped in brilliant fuchsia bougainvillea, the islands in this volcanic archipelago have a dramatic setting in the clear blue Tyrrhenian Sea. Each island is different, with a distinct personality. And it's easy for visitors to island-hop, as smaller boats and hydrofoils connect between the islands a few times daily. Lipari is the most developed of them-- though hardly bustling-- with a charming town full of cafes and shops. Among the other sites are the ruins of the ancient Greek settlement, the long stretches of beaches, and white cliffs of pumice. On Stromboli, hike to the volcanic crater to see small eruptions of red lava at twilight. Tour the vineyards on the green island of Salina, or escape with the international jet-set to the gorgeous seclusion of Panarea.
Where else can you ski the world's most majestic mountains in the morning and sun by the sea in the afternoon? Welcome to the Cote d'Azur of France, where the Chateau Eza has charmed guests at its cliffside location for centuries. A thousand feet above the Mediterranean Sea, the hotel sits within the charming rock walls of Eze, a thousand-year-old medieval village. The ten rooms and suites are enchanting and romantic; most feature private balconies overlooking the sea and are reached by stone passageways and ancient walkways. The award-winning restaurant is likewise breathtaking in its setting atop the cliffs. From now until the end of March, the Chateau is offering a "Sun and Snow Special," which includes three nights accommodations with continental breakfast, hot cocktails in the Lounge Bar for four, and morning helicopter rides to ski Isola 2000 in the Alps, with all lift tickets, ski equipment and lunch included. EUR 2,900 for four peeps.
Chateau Eza, Official Site
Chateau Eza, Five Star Alliance
Kick off those ugg boots and give your cold, scaly, winter feet a break at the Cheeca Lodge and Spa. After all, their motto is "Barefoot Elegance." The resort is set on 27 lush acres on Islamorada, the most perfect little island in the Florida Keys archipelago. Besides its proximity to the only tropical coral reef in the continental U.S., the island is plugged as the sport fishing capital of the world, with 600 species of fish in the surrounding turquoise waters. But this is not just a paradise for anglers and snorkelers; Cheeca's got a heavenly 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.