December 2, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Though it's beyond gimmicky (who was the big brain behind this name?), THEhotel is anything but corny. In 43 stories rising above the Strip, it's got the largest standard rooms in Vegas (a measly 750 square feet). The place is a playground packed with cosmopolitan fun: the 1,117 one-bedroom suites with wet bar, marble bathroom, plasma TV; the Bathhouse Spa with its pools of different temperatures, baths and flowing waterfall; and the swank Lounge (with delish cocktail concoctions) on the very top floor. Don't be fooled by December's ridiculously low rates; THEhotel is a sizzling Vegas destination.
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Official Site
THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Five Star Alliance
Think Mexico for pre- or post-holiday recuperation! With 56 ocean view rooms, Casa del Mar is a hacienda-style resort set in lush gardens overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Play a round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones II designed championship course. Head to the spa for an outstanding signature treatment like the Tropical Exfoliation, where the skin is buffed with fine milled coffee and dried coconut, and then massaged with coconut massage oil. In the evening, dine under a poolside palapa. With the Relax 33 special package, save 33% off regular rates, starting as low as $269 a night for a Deluxe Oceanview Room. Offer good December 1-20, 2005, and January 2-15, 2006. Minimum 2 night stay required.
Scheduled to open on December 15, the new Ritz-Carlton is the most talked-about news of the season. This resort is destined to set new standards for luxury hotels, with an all-star cast contributing to the resort's conception: Greg Norman designed golf course, Tennis by Nick Bollettieri, two restaurants by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, NYC, the world's first spa inspired by La Prairie's Silver Rain (did I mention that this is one of the Caribbean's largest?!), and an aquatic education program run by Jean-Michel Cousteau. The best part? There is still availability for December holidays! But hurry; book those rooms fast!
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Official Site
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Five Star Alliance
November 30, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After a recent redesign, the legendary apres-ski scene at the Little Nell is hotter than ever. Savor the delicacies from the fresh seafood bar, followed by some fondue, and of course there's drinks all night at the Bar. Thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room, or "ski-watch" the day away.
The Little Nell, Official Site
The Little Nell, Five Star Alliance
November 29, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Bask in San Diego's perfect year-round climate at this AAA five diamond winner that sits near the 18th green of the legendary championship course. The details? Rooms with custom-designed furniture and high-tech details, overlooking the Pacific. The signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien, with award-winning Chef who hails from Shutters on the Beach. A 9,500 square foot spa, with 14 specialized treatment rooms, that's all about the ocean: signature treatments themed around the seacoast, and a spa menu that uses coastal, botanical and marine based extracts. Miles of trails in the Torrey Pines reserve with unspoiled lagoons and beaches.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Official Site
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Five Star Alliance
Holiday getaways can't get more perfect than the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport. Its restaurant, at the top of all the "Best Of" lists (AAA Five Diamond, Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Conde Nast Traveler's Best of the Best.) Built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's, with rustic decor and an awesome 7,000 bottle wine cellar, the restaurant serves the finest New England cuisine. The adjoining Inn, ranked among the top 25 small hotels in North America, has 25 rooms with fireplace (how atmospheric can you get!), flat-screen TVs with DVD, and all that jazz. Plus, the inn's got a heated swimming pool, so even if a blizzard is a-raging, you can enjoy poolside massage therapy and spa treatments. Spend your holidays at the White Barn Inn, with the following special packages. The Christmas Retreat includes: two nights luxurious stay, Christmas Eve reception, turn down treat on arrival (and present in room), full Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch in White Barn restaurant, and traditional afternoon tea. From $409 per person. The New Years Eve Gala Celebration includes two nights stay, special tea on arrival, wine in room, Gala dinner dance with four-course meal and champagne, full continental breakfast. From $677 per person.
The White Barn Inn, Official Site
The White Barn Inn, Five Star Alliance
This Christmas, stroll through the winter wonderland of Versailles, without the maddening crowds. From December 17-December 29, enjoy unbelievable specials at the Trianon Palace and Spa, as the rates drop to a very festive EUR 99 a night. Or bring the whole family with the Christmas Family Package—which includes accommodations in a Deluxe Palace room, complimentary room and free breakfast for the kiddies, and Westin Kid's Bag upon check-in, for only EUR 295 a night. Just nine miles from downtown Paris, the Trianon is a luxurious palace set on eight gorgeous acres bordering Louis XIV's Royal Domain. The historical hotel has hosted the world's political and business leaders since 1910. Recently-renovated rooms feature stately decor (as you would expect) and views of the gardens. The 2,800 sq m Spa isn't too shabby either.
Trianon Palace and Spa, Official Site
Trianon Palace and Spa, Five Star Alliance
Long renowned as a little bit of Provence in California's wine country, this Napa establishment recently unveiled a spectacular renovation. Interiors enhanced by custom designed furniture with a historical basis (like oversized ottomans), richly colored bedcovers, and limestone countertops. And of course myriad high-tech touches: plasma TVs in both bedroom and sitting room, DVD, wireless internet, and flat screen TV in the bathrooms above the large soaking tubs. Situated on a sun-kissed 33 acre olive grove, the accommodations (whether private rooms, suites or private cottages) are terraced into the hillside, with sweeping views of the Napa Valley. From the acclaimed restaurant to the magnificent spa (boasting fountains, private gardens and outdoor soaking pools), what's not to love?
L'Auberge Du Soleil, Official Site
L'Auberge Du Soleil, Five Star Alliance
Attempting the impossible task of booking a luxury hotel in the Caribbean for the holidays? Most luxury hotels have been booked solid for months. But don't be discouraged in your quest for a well-deserved (albeit last-minute) Caribbean respite! I've found a few delightful gems that still have availability:
Casa Colonial in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: Long stretches of white sand beaches. Elegantly furnished all-suites hotel. World-class spa. Conde Nast Traveler's 2005 Hot List. Impeccable service. Enough said.
Casa Colonial, Official Site
Casa Colonial, Five Star Alliance
Anse Chastanet Resort, in the lush mountain paradise of St. Lucia. With 600 acres of tropical foliage, the soaring peaks of Petit Pitons, and extraordinary beaches, this is paradise on earth. Romantic and secluded. Scuba, spa, waters sports and mountain biking.
Anse Chastanet, Official Site
Anse Chastanet, Five Star Alliance
Petit St. Vincent Resort is available for the Christmas week, though not the post-Christmas week. Individual cottages set on a 113 acre privately-owned island of exquisite white sand beaches.
Petit St. Vincent, Official Site
Petit St. Vincent, Five Star Alliance
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Official Site
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance
November 25, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Starwood just announced that it acquired the Le Meridien brand of 130 hotels and resorts for $225 million. For the 24 million Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) customers, this means more choice in markets like Paris, Nice, Dubai and London. Additionally, Starwood will gain properties where it doesn't have them currently, in spots like Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Budapest, the Seychelles and Mauritius.