September 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Oktoberfest in Munich is in full swing. And the beer-guzzling merriment of the world's biggest beer festival--16 days of revelry--will continue until October 3, 2006. The 14 beer tents collectively seat over 100,000 patrons and over the course of the festival, an estimated 6 million visitors will down 6 million liters of specialty brew, accompanied by the best kind of German grub (schnitzel, sauerkraut and sausage galore). But it's more than a keg fest. There's entertainment, theater and shows, and carnival rides a plenty. Munich is hopping with activity. If a last minute trip to Europe's biggest festival is in the works, stake your claim to a room at the Bayerischer Hof, the city's finest hotel-- its elegance a welcome respite from the frenzy of activity outside. Centrally located, the largest privately owned hotel in Germany boasts excellent restaurants, rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities with sauna, steambath, and solarium, and its own theater and night club. Or start planning for next year's merry-making, scheduled for September 22-October 7, 2007.
La Mer is Hawaii's only Five-Diamond Restaurant. Located in the landmark Halekulani hotel-- its proud global reputation sustained by its long tradition of gracious hospitality and royal service-- La Mer features Neoclassical French cuisine crafted with indigenous island ingredients. Chef Yves Garnier's internationally-acclaimed creations are served amidst breathtaking ocean views, a setting deemed No. 1 for Decor in a Zagat study of the best hotel restaurants. Expect to pay a pretty penny for this divine gourmet experience; La Grande Assiette Gourmande (an appetizer for two people which includes a chef's sampler of Hamachi and Ahi Tartare on a Taro Chip, Lobster Medallions, Fresh Hearts of Palm and Red Beet, Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Marinated Anchovies on Potato, Small Mussel Soup and Sauteed Foie Gras) is $72. Jacket required for gentlemen.
Take in the spectacular display of fall color, high in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia at The Homestead-- the National Historic Landmark which has played host to Princes and heads of state since 1776. Ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts, The Homestead is surrounded by gorgeous scenery, enhanced by nature's display of autumn foliage. Enjoy this splendor by foot, bike, horse, carriage or porch rocker. Or, take in the scenery while playing a round of golf on one of three championship courses. At the end of the day, "take the waters" at the world-class spa and historic Jefferson pools, where travelers since the 1700s have bathed in the bubbling hot springs. For select dates this Fall, The Homestead is offering rates as low as $135 a night with the "Hot Dates, Hot Rates" package, which includes luxurious accommodations, breakfast daily, traditional afternoon tea, nightly movies in the historic theater, use of pool and fitness center. Children 6-18 years of age stay free when sharing a room with a parent. (Children 5 and under may also eat free.)
The all-business class Maxjet Airways flies luxurious transatlantic service between London Stansted and New York and Washington. Maxjet planes (Boeing 767s) carry half their original capacity, so 102 passengers enjoy double the space per seat. The service is fantastic: gorgeous pre-departure lounges where beverages and canapes are served, multi-course gourmet meals, a Chef's pantry, premium liquor, on-demand entertainment, and deep-recline, all-leather seats onboard. Maxjet Airways features all-business class at affordable rates. To celebrate its first anniversary, Maxjet is offering an unbelievable fare sale of only $999 round trip from either New York JFK or Washington Dulles to London Stansted. Tickets must be booked between September 19 and October 1, 2006 for travel anytime between November 1, 2006 and February 28, 2007. The promotion code for the sale fare is ANNV06 and can be booked at Maxjet's Web site.
66 storeys of sleek, sophisticated luxury right smack in the center of Shanghai on People's Square. The new Le Royal Meridien Shanghai is a sight to behold, a new landmark on the city's quickly-changing skyline. This is the heart of the city, just a quick walk to the Bund, Huaihai Road, Xintiandi, the old town, and the numerous shops along the buzzing Nanjing Road. The 770-room hotel has a staff of 1,200 to ensure the highest level of service for its pampered clientele. Views from the guest rooms are exquisite, overlooking the Bund, Huang Pu River, and dramatic Shanghai skyline. Rooms are outfitted with 42" plasma TV, DVD/CD player, rain shower, wireless and High Speed Internet Access, and wall-to-wall windows. Not too shabby. And with 10 restaurants and bars, a luxury spa, and 2,000 square meters of meeting space, Le Royal Meridien Shanghai is the place to stay in the city. Now accepting reservations for September 25, 2006 arrivals.
Leave it to NYT Travel to hook us up with the latest scoop on the South Beach scene: the hot new hotels breaking ground (move over, Delano!), big name restauranteurs making waves (LA dude Govind Armstrong has big plans with a branch of his Table 8 and David Bouley's staking out a spot in the Ritz-Carlton), and over-the-top parties shaking things up (at new clubs like Mokai, SET, and Snatch).
The hottest hotel opening of the season? The Regent South Beach, a luxury 80-suite condominium hotel, located on 14th and Ocean, in the middle of it all in South Beach. Penthouse Suites are decked out with secluded rooftop gardens, roman hot tubs, and ocean views. There's a full-service European spa, trendy restaurant overlooking Ocean Drive, glass-bottom pool, and first-class amenities. At this new gem, concierge and valet service is 24 hours a day, of course. Renowned architectural firm Arquitectonica is behind the gorgeous building and landscaping.
Thailand's swanky new Suvarnabhumi International Airport-- that's NBK in airport code-- opened on Friday... a soft launch with a few domestic and international flights. By September 28, this flashy new airport is expected to handle most of the flights from the nearby, aging Don Muang airport (BKK). The new airport, expected to accommodate up to 45 million passengers a year, is set to become a regional aviation hub, competing with Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The best part of all is the new high-speed rail link and five alternative routes to the city center (bye bye, nasty Bangkok gridlock).
The myriad charms of Turin were revealed to the world during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. And it's no wonder the vibrant city now tops the list of holiday getaways for travelers this year. This winter, hit the slopes near Turin and stay at the chic Le Meridien Lingotto, formerly a Fiat automobile factory. It's a masterpiece of modern design and restoration: loft-style guest rooms still preserve the original Fiat glass walls (lots of natural light) and the rooftop track which was once used to test cars, is now used by guests for a morning run. From the rooftop, gaze out at Turin's beautiful cityscape of churches and castles: the rich culture of Italy at your feet. And be sure to explore the top floor art gallery, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli. The hotel is directly connected to the Lingotto Exhibition and Congress Center, designed by famed architect Renzo Piano— its first floor occupied by a one-kilometer long shopping small "8 Gallery" with excellent boutiques and cafes.
Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, schools of colorful fish, sea lions… The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most fascinating wildlife on earth, a living study of evolutionary science since Charles Darwin first sailed through these isolated islands. A 10-day voyage with International Expeditions— the premier provider of nature travel tours and environmentally responsible expeditions for over 25 years— allows visitors the chance to see these remarkable animals up close and personal, in their natural habitat. Explore the islands' diverse terrain-- deserts, beaches, forests, and small active volcanoes-- and snorkel next to tortoises and sea lions in the clear Pacific waters. Sail aboard the Evolution, a newly-refurbished ship crafted like the European steamers of old, with comfortable accommodations for just 32 guests. During the trip, you will be accompanied by highly-trained naturalist guides extremely knowledgeable about the Galapagos wildlife. There are a few spaces available for 2006 journeys, with departures on October 6 and 20; November 3 and 24; and December 15.
Berlin's newest five-star hotel will open its doors on October 12, 2006. Located in the heart of the city, the Hotel de Rome is housed in an historic building originally constructed in 1889 and retains much of the original architectural detail. The 146 guest rooms showcase 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. The 120 square meter Presidential Suite features a gorgeous full-length terrace overlooking Bebelplatz. The hotel also boasts 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.
To celebrate its opening, the Hotel de Rome is pleased to offer a special promotion: "Hotel de Rome Best Friends." When you make a reservation during the months of October and November 2006, you'll receive an automatic room upgrade, a welcome drink with canapés and a VIP special gift. Please quote "Hotel de Rome Best Friends" when booking. Offer subject to availability.