October 20, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Autumn could be the best season to visit Tuscany. The sun is shining, the tourist crowds have dispersed, and truffle foraging is in full swing. Not to mention the brilliant hues of the fall foliage. Just outside of Florence, Il Salviatino invites guests for a "Taste of Tuscany" until November 30, 2011. You'll tour a vineyard, taste local wines, go hunting for truffles, and sample the region's best seasonal delights while staying in luxury at the hotel named "Hideaway of the Year" in the 2011 Andrew Harper Grand Award Winners. Nestled in the rolling Tuscan hills, Il Salviatino is housed in a 15th century villa with original frescoes and Italian gardens-- and offers spectacular views of Florence. Starting from 1,920 euros, the "Taste of Tuscany" package includes:
* Two nights accommodation in a Deluxe Room * Breakfast for two daily * A seasonal dinner at Le Serre with a bottle of Tuscan wine * Truffle foraging for half a day * A vineyard tour and wine tasting * A spa treatment each in the award-winning Thai Devarana spa * Service and tax
October 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Already getting stressed out about Thanksgiving? Why not ditch the in-laws (or take them with you!) on a relaxing tropical getaway to the palm-lined shores of St. John. With a year-round temperature of 85 degrees and a wealth of recreational activities, the smallest of the US Virgin Islands makes for a tempting getaway. Plus, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas is making some Turkey Coolers for a Thanksgiving feast on St. John's Trunk Bay, one of the prettiest beaches in the world. The resort’s “Take Your Turkey to Trunk Bay” packages offer a 20 percent discount on room rates and a decadent menu to enjoy in paradise. Minimum two-night stay required, available through November 30, 2011, with room rates starting at $389, based on double occupancy. Here are the Thanksgiving feasting options, which must be ordered by November 10, 2011.
Dream Package: Starting at $75 for two, the "Dream Package" features a Turkey lunch equipped with a feast that even the pickiest taste buds can get excited about. (Think roast turkey and stuffing sandwiches and mini pumpkin pies!)
Extreme Package: Beginning at $125 for two, the “Extreme Package” offers the same extensive menu that is available in the “Dream Package,” but also includes two plush, brightly colored Westin St. John beach towels, two durable water bottles and an exploratory St. John guidebook.
Supreme Package: The “Supreme Package” starts at $525 for two and boasts the offerings of the “Extreme Package” with a side of luxury including personalized transportation to Trunk Bay, umbrella and chairs for dining on the sandy shores of Trunk Bay and a beach butler to set everything up prior to guests’ arrival.
This holiday season, how about winter in Venice? Not Italy, but the Las Vegas Strip! The Venetian and The Palazzo are putting on a one-of-a-kind celebration that they say will be the "most majestic winter wonderland Las Vegas has ever seen." The five-diamond resorts will transform into a winter wonderland with an ice skating rink above The Venetian's outdoor Grand Canal-- complete with snowflakes, strung holiday lights, and a 65-foot LED holiday tree perched atop the Doge's Palace fountain. While you stroll around, you'll be entertained by a colorful cast of characters: magicians, carolers, puppets, jugglers, and candy cane stilt walkers. Enjoy seasonal treats like eggnog cupcakes, warm apple cider, spiced cocktails, and hot chocolate. And to cap off each day, you’ll be in for a treat: a "spectacular light show performance beyond your wildest imagination." Winter in Venice will take place from November 21, 2011- January 8, 2012. Special package rates are available for $149 per night in a luxury suite, two-night minimum required, with a bunch of add-ons included (hot chocolate for two, skate rentals, $40 off seasonal spa treatments).
Craving a little sunshine in the DR this fall? Casa de Campo-- one of the most searched for resorts on Five Star Alliance-- has a tempting special that may prompt you to book that flight stat. When you reserve a five-night stay in one of the new Elite Patio or Elite Balcony rooms by October 31, you'll get your fifth night for free. (Valid for stays through December 20, 2011, and for new bookings only, not combined with any other offers.) You'll bliss out on the 7,000 acres of rolling hills, flowering gardens, and championship golf courses overlooking the Caribbean Sea. A veritable tropical playground, Casa de Campo has it all-- from tennis to polo.
The Christmas market is back at The Trianon Palace Versailles! Part of the Waldorf Astoria collection of hotels, the Trianon Palace knows how to get in the Christmas spirit. What could be better than sipping hot chocolate or mulled wine while browsing the artisanal crafts and gourmet treats on display outside one of the world's most opulent palaces? (The Trianon Palace is actually located in the heart of the Royal domain of the Chateau de Versailles.) The hotel's annual Christmas market promises good times for one and all. There's also an on-site ice skating rink- what could be merrier? The Trianon Palace Versailles has put together a "Festive Period Package" for stays between December 3, 2011 and January 2, 2012, that includes a host of amenities. Along with your luxe accommodations, you'll get a VIP gift in room and a glass of Champagne for two in the Gallery Bar; English breakfast served in La Veranda restaurant; free entrance to the ice rink; free access to the Guerlain Spa. Rates from 269 euros per room per night.
Planning a winter vacay to North America's no. 1 ski resort? Whistler beckons with waist-deep powder and lots of black diamond runs... plus plenty of bunny slopes, too. Sprawling across two mountains, the resort has more than 200 trails and over 8,100 acres of terrain for skiers and snowboarder to experience. Bunk down at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler and you'll be treated to ski in/ski out accommodations in the lap of luxury at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. There's also snowmobiling, snowshoe tours, horse drawn sleigh rides, and firelight fondue dinners. The best part of all? The resort offers "Whistler Ski for Free" package rates all season long!
The details: Stay two nights, receive a total of two Whistler Blackcomb lift passes per room / per stay. Stay three nights, receive a total of four Whistler Blackcomb lift passes per room / per stay. Stay four nights, receive a total of six Whistler Blackcomb lift passes per room / per stay. Available November 23, 2011, through April 25, 2012, subject to availability. Two night minimum stay required, and the maximum is seven nights. Rates for the "Whistler Ski for Free" package start from $239 CAD (early season) and $399 CAD (peak season) based on double occupancy in a Deluxe room, taxes not included.
Everyone's favorite holiday is just around the corner, and for little ghouls and ghosts, historic Old Town, Alexandria makes for some excellent trick or treating just outside the nation's capital. Some of the cobblestone streets are shut down to traffic, residents don their best costumes, and fantastic Jack-o'-lanterns decorate the Federalist houses. For out-of-town visitors, book the "Ghosts of Alexandria Family Package" at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria, starting at just $150 per room, and you'll get spooked on a "Ghosts and Graveyards" tour of Old Town by lantern light-- led by a guide in period costume who tells ghost stories and local lore. Available through November 20, 2011, the package includes two tickets for this tour (additional tix can be purchased for $12 per person and $6 per kids aged 7- 17). You'll stay on the hotel's "haunted 6th floor" and get free valet parking, a copy of the book "Ghosts of Alexandria," and the "Alexandria Key to the City Pass" with discounts on historic sights. Note: Kids under 17 stay for free at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria.
Experience the magic of Christmas in New Orleans with discounted rates at the Hotel Monteleone, a landmark in the French Quarter since 1886. Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2011, the AAA Four-Diamond hotel has a jam-packed calendar of festive Yuletide events-- from choir performances to Children's Holiday Teas, where Monte the Lion (the hotel's official mascot) will join Santa, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and Santa's elves in singing carols and reading classic Christmas tales. Take advantage of the special Papa Noel rates from November 20- December 29, 2011 and you'll be basking in luxury for just $99 per night! (Weekend rates are slightly higher, starting at $119 per night, and some blackout dates may apply.) The Hotel Monteleone decks the halls for the season- with a beautiful Christmas tree in the lobby and festive white lights decorating its exterior. For the full calendar of events during the holiday season, click here.
October 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Montague on the Gardens, the lovely Georgian townhouse hotel in the heart of London's Bloomsbury, is getting in the Christmas spirit early this year. They're creating the "12 Vodkas of Christmas" and inviting you, dear reader, to help dream up one of the delicious Christmas-themed flavors. They've already got 10 flavors including Cinnamon, Spiced Apple and Candy Cane, and now they're looking for two more to add to the menu. If your flavor is chosen, you'll win a night's stay for two people at the Montague on the Gardens, including breakfast, a festive Afternoon Tea for two, plus a bottle of your very own flavored vodka to savor at home! To enter, email email@example.com, or leave a comment on their blog with your creative idea. From the judges: "Points will be awarded for originality of mouth-watering flavors that will help keep us warm while we’re in our Winter Wonderland this December!"
Closing date for entry is November 11, 2011. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Prize valid until end of March 2012, subject to availability and terms and conditions apply. Festive Afternoon Tea will be replaced with Traditional Afternoon Tea from January 2012."
PS. Don't miss the hotel's "alpine lodge"-- as they transform their deck into a winter wonderland with pine trees, reindeer, even falling snow. The perfect spot to sample one of those 12 Christmas vodkas.
October 12, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The W Retreat Koh Samui is turning 1. Now's the time to surrender to a tropical island escape... W's sexy resort on the Gulf of Thailand made some waves when it opened last year. (One look at the photos and you'll see why.) Situated on a pristine stretch of Koh Samui's coastline, the resort manages both to delight the local party crowd and mesmerize global jetsetters, all while keeping its cool. Secluded villas surrounded by lush foliage make for the ultimate in relaxation after sampling the island's red-hot nightlife. Book the "1st Year Celebration" at W Retreat Koh Samui and you'll reap the rewards:
* A price of THB 11,111 per Retreat/per Night in a Jungle Oasis with free breakfast for two. (That's $358.)
* Only 11 Retreats are available per day for this special offer, so act fast to book.
* 1+1 Thaimazcal Spa Experience (buy 1 get 1 free at THB 2,400)
* Reserve your stay over 11/11 and get a free Thaimazcal Spa Experience for two persons
Book by November 30, 2011 for stays from November 1- 30, 2011.