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
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.
In October, the prestigious Rocco Forte Hotels—considered Europe's leading luxury hotel brand—will open a new five-star hotel in the heart of Berlin. Located in Bebelplatz, in the Mitte area of Berlin close to the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel de Rome will be housed in a historic building originally constructed in 1889. Formerly a large and distinguished bank building, the new Hotel de Rome will retain much of the architectural substance of the building. Indeed, the hotel will showcase these historic touches: the rooms leading to the banqueting hall are the former cashier's rooms of the bank; the ancient bank vault has been converted into a 15-meter swimming pool, and the grand offices of the former board members of Dresdner Bank have been transformed into suites.
The hotel will have 146 large bedrooms including 103 classic rooms, 32 junior suites, 10 one-bedroom suites and a presidential suite, measuring 120 square meters and boasting a full-length terrace overlooking Bebelplatz. The rooms will be a combination of classical design and contemporary "Berlin style" glass and steel, with all the latest cutting-edge technology, including Broadband Internet and interactive flat-screen television. Bathrooms feature mosaic marble detailing above double-ended baths, and separate walk-in showers. Other facilities include six conference rooms and banquet hall, restaurant, bar, health and fitness center with swimming pool, and Spa with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and plunge pool.
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.
The Hotel Negresco is a legend, its pink dome a symbol of the French Riviera, its name evoking the essence of "art de vivre." For over a century, the national historic monument has dominated the Promenade des Anglais, overlooking the Bay of Angels and the scenic Mediterranean. Situated on the seafront promenade on the beach, the hotel is like a living museum, filled with antiques, oil paintings, and contemporary art. Each of the 121 guestrooms and 24 suites are individually decorated in styles spanning the historic spectrum from Louis XIII to Art Deco. The Michelin award-winning restaurant The Chantecler is celebrated as one of the best in Nice. From now until September 20, 2006, take advantage of the Prestige Package which includes daily breakfast, a welcome gift upon arrival, and complimentary access to the property's secluded private beach, "Le Neptune." From $445.
The World Cup may be over, but the celebrations continue at Banyan Tree Phuket, where guests can take advantage of the Halftime escapade until the end of July. The promotion started at the World Cup kick-off—with half price on rooms and spa treatments (for the first five bookings of each day)-- but is available until July 31, 2006.
Stay in a luxurious villa, recuperate from the excitement of the previous night's game with a rejuvenating spa treatment, and start the next day of Halftime pampering with breakfast - all at half the price. Even if your favorite team doesn't win the World Cup, you may still be a winner. In the first week of August, Banyan Tree Phuket will conduct the Halftime Draw and treat one lucky couple to a complimentary 3-night stay in a Tibetan Suite at Banyan Tree Ringha in Shangri-La (Diqing), the highlight of China's stunning Yunnan province.
The Halftime Promotion includes: 50 percent discount on villa rates (no minimum length of stay is required), 50 percent discount on one a-la-carte massage session at Banyan Tree Spa per person per stay, 50 percent discount on daily American buffet breakfast (inclusive of champagne). Rates start at $275 for a Deluxe Villa. This package is only applicable for the first 5 bookings per day.
The city's only boutique hotel on the beach, The Water Club was named "one of the coolest hotels in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler. The rooftop bar, Wet, offers cocktails and sushi under the stars, while the rooftop sundeck, pool and Jacuzzi likewise boast breathtaking ocean views. The enormous suites feature large telescopes to appreciate the panoramic vistas. This is a San Juan hot spot, with its bar, Liquid, a happening and loud party mecca, so non-party peeps should steer clear.
Right now The Water Club is offering an unbelievable Summer Package, starting at just $89 per person.The Sizzling Summer Package includes welcome Melon Lips Martini for two, complimentary breakfast for two at Tangerine, one night of VIP list privileges at a local night club, and a complimentary gift upon arrival.
Chicago Tribune, Old San Juan
July 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Named "Best Steakhouse" by Boston Magazine, the Oak Room is also beloved by Zagat, which notes that diners "indulge in the finer things' – like 'killer Châteaubriand' and 'real martinis', 'high ceilings' and swathes of 'brocade' – at this 'grande dame' " of American restaurants. This is old Boston at its finest: an elegant antique setting with dark wood paneling, mirrored walls, intricate white plasterwork, and Waterford crystal chandeliers. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant dishes up award-winning cuisine, while the adjacent Oak Bar offers a slew of specialty martinis and one of Boston's best raw bars. Reservations are strongly recommended. After enjoying a superb meal, check out the elegant Fairmont Copley Plaza, which recently completed a stunning renovation of its 383 guestrooms and suites.