November 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Homestead is the winter playground for generations of families. Ranked among the world's top spa and golf resorts, the National Historic Landmark is located in Virginia's Allegheny mountains, where a plethora of outdoor activities are at your beck and call: skiing (with the excellent Sepp Kober Ski School and its staff of international instructors), snowboarding, snow tubing, ice skating, snowmobile tours, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Indoors, there's the world-class spa, bowling, movies, video games, heated pool, billiards, and family games. Folks have been flocking here since the 1700s to "take the waters" at the historic hot springs and naturally-heated pools. And they continue to flock to this timeless retreat to enjoy the world-class facilities and beautiful setting. The Winter Fun Package at The Homestead starts at just $109 and includes luxurious accommodations, breakfast daily, use of fitness center and outdoor pool, and afternoon tea in the Great Hall. Children 12 and under eat breakfast free. Children 18 and under stay free.
Coming in 2007: the gorgeous, newly renovated La Mamounia-- legend of Marrakech-- will open after a major makeover by celebrated interior designer Jacques Garcia, mastermind behind the new Hotel Fouquet's Barriere in Paris. According to Garcia, even grand hotels of seeming perfection like La Mamounia need touch-ups every few years. As quoted in the NYT, " must all be updated regularly. It's like face-lifts: a little injection once in a while is better than one big scar." Located in the heart of Marrakech with views of the desert valley and snow-capped peaks of the Atlas mountains, La Mamounia is set within idyllic 300-year-old gardens and surrounded by the city's 12th century ramparts. The beautiful gardens are tended daily by 40 gardeners; the thousands of flowers and trees and numerous lily ponds create a tranquil eden in the midst of this Imperial city. For over 80 years, La Mamounia has embodied the grand traditions of Moroccan hospitality.
Announcing the December 21, 2006 reopening of the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach. The Mobil Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond luxury resort is located just eight miles from Palm Beach International Airport, and features 310 elegant guest rooms, massage and fitness center with extensive spa menu, outdoor pool, fabulous oceanfront dining, and seven acres of oceanfront beach. After a massive five-month renovation project, the resort will showcase an additional swimming pool, three new restaurant concepts, a 3,000 square foot oceanfront terrace, newly expanded Ritz Kids and new Ritz Teens Programs, and a new 28,000 square foot Grand Spa (to debut summer 2007). Other luxurious additions include a resort-wide Wifi network, the installation of flat screen TVs, a new oceanfront suites luxury room category, and a new foyer with an unobstructed ocean view.
Celebrate the holiday season in Washington DC at the Hay-Adams. With the Holiday Getaway Package, guests enjoy a free third night when they pay for two. The choice of Presidents, international dignitaries, and savvy clientele looking to be pampered, the historic Hay-Adams offers guests the most prestigious Washington address with views overlooking the White House, Lafayette Square, and St. John's Church, the "Church of Presidents." The classic landmark has long been a favorite gathering place in the nation's capital. Like a distinguished private residence on Lafayette Square, The Hay-Adams boasts personalized service, culinary excellence and one-of-a-kind amenities. The 145 guestrooms (including 20 suites) are elegantly appointed with soft tailored upholstery, luxurious linens, and lavish decor; some feature ornamental fireplaces, intricately carved plaster ceilings, and balconies. Escape with a guest during the holidays to enjoy the sites of the nation's capital lit up for the season, and experience an unforgettable stay at the Hay-Adams. Relax and rejuvenate in your lavishly appointed guest room for two nights and receive your third night complimentary. Holiday Getaway Package rates are from $429-$729 based on availability and include daily breakfast for two and valet parking. Valid from December 19, 2006 to January 7, 2007.
Indulge in the best afternoon tea in the world at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge. Cakes, butter biscuits, and scrumptious delicacies are all set for a makeover in the style of the world's top fashion designers, such as Lanvin, Jimmy Choo and Valentino, as The Berkeley launches its new Autumn/Winter 2006 Prêt-a-Portea cake collection. The traditional afternoon tea gets a twist with inspiration from the latest fashion season's catwalk designs. On the Pret-a-Portea menu this season are fashionista delectables such as Valentino leopard chestnut crème handbag, Giles Deacon pink polka dot nougat mousse , Alexander McQueen Stuart tartan chocolate cake , Aquascutum yellow coat ginger biscuit, Yves Saint Laurent frilly passion fruit meringue and Jimmy Choo gold boot biscuit. (All served in tiny bites, of course, for the figure conscious.) The Berkeley's pastry chef visits London fashion week shows to get his inspiration for the new patisserie collections; the Berkeley has also created a distinguished Prêt committee of fashion experts from publications such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar to check out the collection. Pret-a-Portea is served in The Caramel Room at The Berkeley from 2-6 pm everyday priced at GBP 33 per person. (GBP 41 per person includes a glass of champagne.)
The best hotel in Tokyo, the inspiration and backdrop for the film, Lost in Translation, is also the setting for one of the hottest hotel bars in the world. Park Hyatt Tokyo is an elegant oasis of space and calm that offers spectacular views of Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji, from the top 14 floors of the 52-storey Shinjuku Park Tower. This major landmark on the Tokyo skyline houses the stunning New York Bar, the place to see-and-be-seen in the city. The ambience could be Manhattan itself: black ebony chairs, walnut flooring, steel supports of the floor-to-ceiling windows, and Valerio Adami's huge murals of Radio City Music Hall and the Rainbow Room. As one of the top venues for live music in the city, the bar features jazz by top international artists nightly. New York Bar offers vintage cognac and brandy, classic and original cocktails, and the largest selection of American wines in Japan. Casual dining menu is available. Open Sunday to Wednesday from 5 pm to midnight. Thursday to Saturday from 5 pm to 1:00 am. Cover charge of 2,000 JPY is applied Monday through Saturday from 8 pm, Sunday from 7 pm.
The fifth annual Art Basel Miami Beach is just days away. The spectacular international art show-- to take place from December 7-10 this year-- is the American sister event of Art Basel in Switzerland, one of the most important art shows in the world. Art Basel Miami Beach is an extraordinary event combining an international art show with special exhibitions, parties, and events featuring design, film, music and architecture. The exhibition sites will be located within the Art Deco district, just a few steps from the beach. A selection of 200 art galleries from all over the world will exhibit 20th and 21st century art from over 1,500 artists; the Miami Beach Convention Center will be packed with good stuff and there will be art fairs galore. (Check out the Catalina Hotel and Beach Club in South Beach, wholly converted into an art gallery for the event.)
The best kept secret of the Indian Ocean-- the 26 atolls and 1,190 tropical islands of the Maldives-- has become one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Rated the number one islands in the world by the Conde Nast Traveler 19th annual Reader's Choice Awards, the Maldives are a natural wonder with unparalleled biodiversity (over 900 species of fish) and some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the world. Located on one of the most picturesque islands of the Maldives (lush and beautiful Ihuru), the Angsana Resort is surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty: pristine reefs, palm-dotted beaches, and turquoise waters. The island is encircled by a shallow lagoon and technicolor reef, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru offers the hedonistic pleasures of a spa retreat and the perfect holiday paradise. The 45 private villas feature thatched roofs, private gardens and verandas with dining and sitting areas. The resort has recently revamped its spa offerings with an extensive list of treatments, including Asian Spa therapies and special men's treatments. The new highlights include Duet, tailored for couples to enjoy together (the spa experience begins with a Tropical Fruit Wash for him and an Almond Milk Aglow body polish for her, followed by body massages and the Milk Orange Bath), Soothing Sun Relief (which includes Cucumber Soother and a calming facial soother), and Ayurvedic Delights.
PS. Noteworthy: The Angsana Resort and Spa has won awards for its environmentally friendly focus, including several outstanding marine biology research initiatives.
Possibly the world's most famous ski resort, Badrutt's Palace is a historic symbol of St. Moritz and the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism. Situated on six acres of private grounds high above the village of St. Moritz, overlooking the lake and mountains, Badrutt's Palace occupies a regal perch amidst dramatic and unspoiled scenery. Since its opening in 1896, Badrutt's Palace has been hailed as a symbol of the Swiss Alps region, a wondrous winter playground beloved by visiting celebrities and royalty. The Palace offers 165 guestrooms and 30 suites with stunning views. Guests enjoy discreet service, the ultimate relaxation at the spa, exciting nightlife, world-renowned cuisine at the hotel's restaurants, including Nobu, the trendiest new restaurant in St. Moritz opened by adored superstar chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. With parties, polo ponies and ski slopes, the Winter season is an event not to be missed in St. Moritz. The Pre-Holiday Ski Break is a fantastic deal; guests experience the pampered luxury of Badrutt's Palace at an unparalleled discount with four nights for the price of three. Stay December 5-17, 2006 (not including Saturday nights) and get a rate of $280 per night for a superior double room (usual rack rate is $510).
Most luxury resorts in the Caribbean have been booked solid for months. But there are still a few rooms available at the gorgeous romantic hideaway of Anse Chastenet, located 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. And these days, St. Lucia is the new Turks and Caicos (according to the NYT, anyway), with swank hotels situated on perfect sandy stretches of coastline. The Anse Chastanet Resort offers the renowned SSI Platinum Pro/PADI dive facility, beautiful rooms (some boast luxurious "showers with a view"), art gallery, panoramic dining, the beachside Kai Belté spa, and activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, tennis, sunset sailing, jungle biking, "kool kayaking" or a nature walk among the ruins of a colonial plantation. The Tropical Tranquility Package includes includes seven nights of accommodations, breakfast and dinner, two spa treatments per person, a sunset celebration with champagne and appetizers in-room, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing and more. Rates start from $4,288 per couple, until December 31, 2006. But hurry! There are only a few rooms left for the holidays. (One beachside deluxe room from December 22-January 3, One Beachside Deluxe Room until December 28, Two Hillside Deluxe rooms with check-out December 27, One two-bedroom suite until December 26, Two Superior rooms with check-out December 28.)