October 22, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hot off the Newswire! Members of Marriott Rewards can now redeem their points for Orient-Express hotels in locations worldwide. Including the spectacular Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, Hotel Cipriani in Venice, and the Hotel Caruso in Ravello, Italy. And not just hotels. We’re talking luxury safaris in Botswana also.
Who cares about the iPod nano when you can dress up your iPod with a snazzy underwater case?! For the next kayak or surf adventure, bring all your tunes-- with the protection of the indestructible polycarbonate case made by Otterbox. And beyond the nifty gadgets…Check out the travel podcasts created by itoors: exciting audio walking tours covering all range of subjects. And the leader of guidebooks just launched its own serious of podcasts, including conversations with Lonely Planet authors across the globe.
Bliss out this winter in two spectacular Alpine spas. The Palace Luzern – a fixture on CN’s Gold List—is an elegant Belle Epoque hotel, perched on the edge of Lake Lucerne. The new Palace Spa includes 800 square meters of saunas, steam rooms, lifestyle showers and treatment rooms. After you hit the slopes, bask in an ESPA treatment such as ayurvedic hot stone massage, body wraps or detoxifiers, inspired by ancient cultures worldwide. Or ditch that snow bunny gear and choose a full-day program in the spa. The Private Spa Ritual is a totally personalized experience in your own suite facility, with sauna, two person steam shower and couples bath with floating flowers. Includes welcome foot ritual, three hours of treatment time per person, light spa lunch and herbal tea and fresh fruit. Euro 867 for two people.
The landmark Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne just spent CHF 12 million on development of their cutting-edge Cinq Mondes spa, set to open this autumn. The 15,000 square foot signature spa is novel in design; its concept derived from its creator’s 10-year global quest for treatments from some of the great healing traditions. Fully equipped with nine treatment rooms, including a private spa suite, and fitness center overlooking Lake Geneva, with a diverse range of holistic massage and treatments (like micronized marine algae body wrap and facials featuring the latest Swiss cosmetic treatments).
Palace Luzern, Official Site
Palace Luzern, Five Star Alliance
Beau-Rivage Palace, Official Site
Beau-Rivage Palace, Five Star Alliance
The die’s been cast; road warriors have picked the world’s best airlines and hotels—published in this month’s issue of CN Traveler. In the United States and the Americas, Mandarin Oriental tops the charts, while Ritz-Carlton takes Europe and Africa, and Peninsula (surprise, surprise) prevails in Asia. Singapore Airlines still reigns supreme as the best business-class service in the world.
The observant folks at Luxist brought our attention to the upcoming Starwood Hotels auction: an extraordinary benefit for the Starwood employees affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Bidding will take place October 20-27. The items (all pretty sweet) include exclusive stays in luxurious Presidential suites at the best hotels worldwide, a walk on role in The Devil Wears Prada starring Meryl Streep, and an insider pass to the PGA tour and year golf passes to the world's most famous courses.
Cobble-stone streets, graceful colonial churches, pastel facades, flowering courtyards: Antigua is almost too picturesque. A stroll through the streets is to wander through time-- in a perfectly preserved Spanish colonial city. Framed by volcanoes, Antigua offers cute restaurants and bars, historical attractions a-plenty and a glimpse (albeit touristy) at traditional Mayan culture.
And while exploring the colorful local markets (intoxicatingly full of inexpensive fabrics, handbags, clothes, you name it…) forget that buyer’s remorse! What a better way to help the local economy, recently ravaged by Hurricane Stan.
Where to stay? Follow the presidents and movie stars to Casa Santo Domingo, housed in a former historic convent, now draped in bougainvillea and heaps of charm. Senator Hilary Clinton glowed, “Thank you for your warm and gracious hospitality in beautiful Casa Santo Domingo, a unique blend of the old and the new, I hope to return.” Any place that the Clintons and Oscar de la Renta rave about-- is bound to be a good hideaway.
For an adventure (and a really good scare), take a hike up the (active) Volcano Pacaya. I doubt the tourist police in the US would allow visitors this close to sputtering volcanic ash and flaming red lava. Trips depart twice daily in the wee AM hours or early afternoon.
Casa Santo Domingo, Official Site
Leave it to HotelChatter to add some spice to T&L’s hotel recs for your family feast this year. Get the inside scoop on the best Thanksgiving grub, whether you’re craving roasted scallops or some traditional turkey with all the fixin’s. My vote's for the Ritz-Carlton New York-- what about you?
The walls have come down. For centuries the Kingdom of Bhutan has been closed to the outside world, its cultures and customs a mystery to the West. Sandwiched between China to the north and India to the south, Bhutan straddles high mountain valleys and remote, unspoiled wilderness. The kingdom has preserved its beautiful Mahayana Buddhist way of life, uninfluenced by the outside world. Forget coffee-table books; now is your chance to see this marvel with your own eyes. By decree of the king, visitors are now allowed to step inside the mountain walls and experience Bhutan in style: Amanresorts is the first foreign company allowed to open a series of luxury properties throughout the kingdom. Amankora opened its first location in June 2004 in Bhutan's Paro Valley. Located 2,500 meters above sea level, the luxury hotel features magnificent wood-paneled interiors, traditional wood burning stoves and glorious views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks. The eight-suite Amankora Punakha is the second resort property, accessed by crossing a suspension bridge over a river. It is situated in lush rice fields near one of Bhutan’s most significant fortress monasteries.
Take advantage of the tailor-made Aman Journey, a circuitous route through the country’s diverse landscapes, for guests to experience and discover the ancient traditions of the Himalayas at each of four luxurious Aman hotels. In November and December of 2005, the Amankora circuit will be further extended with the openings of Amankora Gangtey in the remote Phobjikha Valley and Amankora Thimphu, in the Thimphu Valley, the site of Bhutan's capital city. Amanresorts will book all flights, ground transportation and take care of visas on behalf of guests. Double suites from $900, with an additional $289 for the Tourism Development Fund tax.
Amankora, Official Site
Amankora, Five Star Alliance
October 18, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
OK, so I´m guilty of reading inflight magazines (along with—um-- the Economist and Finding George Orwell in Burma*), but how else to hear about the latest Inflight Kit from Fresh? Convenient zippered bag includes cleansing towelettes with lotus and pomegranate, in-flight mask, and post-flight serum with green coffee. $130
*ok, ok, add to that the occasional US Weekly probe of Brangelina and TomKat also. It´s just sooo scintillating…