LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
January 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
What a better way to spend Valentine's Day than at one of the finest, most romantic hotels in the world? For the past 60 years, the Mobil five star award-winning Hotel Bel-Air has welcomed generations of lovers on this special day. The embodiment of LA glamour and luxury, this could be the city's most prestigious address. For this year's special Valentine's event, the Hotel Bel-Air has partnered with Laurent-Perrier Champagne to premiere their most delicious and rare vintages, paired with five courses from the master chefs. Following an elegant reception with hors d'oeuvres, the dinner will start at 7 pm. The menu includes a Terrine of Foie Gras and Date Chutney paired with Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut, Citrus Butter Braised Maine Lobster with Spring Vegetable Essence paired with Laurent-Perrier Brut Vintage 1995 in Magnum, a Seared Filet of Beef with Truffle Twice Baked Potato and Sauce Périgueux paired with a Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose 1997, in Magnum, and for dessert-- a sinful Fig Soufflé with Passion Fruit Anglaise and Kissing Swans, paired with Laurent-Perrier Demi Sec. At 8:30 pm, John Brown and his four-piece band will kick off the dancing festivities. Priced at $225 per person, not including tax and gratuity.
Sexy and sophisticated, the new Keating Hotel is set to become a San Diego hotspot. Recently featured in both Urban Zeitgeist and Sherman's Travel Magazine, this chic design hotel is the first hotel creation by Pininfarina, of Ferrari fame. Billed as an "urban lifestyle hotel," The Keating oozes sexiness in the details: sinful bedding (down duvets and pillows, Italian linens), LavAzza espresso machines by Pininfarina, personalized sip and crave bars in-room, and the subterranean lounge: the exclusive high-tech bar and focal point of the hotel, destined to emerge as the place to see and be seen in San Diego. The hotel is bringing a winning combination of Europe and Soho to Southern California. To quote Sherman's Travel Magazine:
This fall The Keating hotel unveiled its overhaul of a century-old Romanesque Revival gem in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Pininfarina, best known for their design work with Ferrari, turned the historic building modern with sleek, minimal interiors.
Each of the hotel's 35 luxurious suites (called "Stanzas," Italian for guestroom) are decked out with custom designed furnishings, vaulted ceilings, Bang and Olufsen's Beo Vision electronics, Dornbracht fixtures, and all the latest, cutting-edge technology. For a limited time, take advantage of excellent Grand Opening special rates, starting at $269 a night in a Stanza room. Valid until January 31, 2007.
Hit the slopes at Ski Santa Fe, recently recognized by readers of Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 20 ski resorts in North America. Soak up the splendor of New Mexico's mountains and enjoy the season's record snowfall, just a short drive from charming, downtown Santa Fe. Stay at the award-winning La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa and score a lift ticket-inclusive package for just $135 per person, per night! Nestled on six landscaped acres in the heart of Santa Fe, the resort offers adobe-style accommodations in a magical garden setting. La Posada de Santa Fe exudes Southwestern culture with its vibrant artwork, kiva fireplaces, signature cuisine at Fuego restaurant, and Southwest-inspired spa treatments at the luxurious Avanyu Spa. Ski and stay at Santa Fe's legendary resort with the special lift ticket-inclusive package. The package includes accommodations, full day lift tickets for two, and unlimited use of the Avanyu Spa steam and fitness rooms. (Priced at $135 per person during the week and $147 on weekends.) Or, for the ultimate winter escape, choose the Ski, Dine and Unwind Package, which includes two nights accommodation, two 50 minute Dancing Wind Massages or two Flowing Water Massages, two half-day lift tickets each day to Ski Santa Fe, and lunch for two at Fuego. This package is priced from $190 per person, per night. Available until April 14, 2007.
Cancun's most luxurious resort, the AAA five diamond Ritz-Carlton, has unveiled a brand, spanking new Culinary Center. Overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the $500,000 recreational kitchen facility features the world's finest equipment from Viking Range Corporation. Guests explore an exciting approach to food and wine with classes, demonstrations, and tastings. Rory Dunaway, the chef de cuisine, shares professional techniques and recipes through interactive, hands-on cooking experiences. Participants learn the secrets to authentic Mexican cuisine, and-- with Wine and Tequila tastings-- learn about beverage culture and how it is linked to culinary traditions. The Center utilizes the freshest, local ingredients for its two-hour classes, which feature three to five themed recipes. Guests can select from a menu of 12 different themed sessions a week: Monday's Cooking Without Heat class focuses on light, low-fat delicacies using marinades, lime and other ingredients (think ceviche and sushi), while Wednesday's Tuscan Dinner Party introduces classic Italian recipes using fresh ingredients and authentic techniques. Ritz-Carlton's Culinary Center is open six days a week. Wine and Tequila tastings are offered at 6:30 pm in the evenings.
This charming and sophisticated boutique hotel-- ranked among the Word's Best Hotels by both the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and Travel and Leisure magazine-- is a favorite Manhattan hideaway for couples as well as families. Nestled among the residences of the fashionable East Side in an oasis of calm, the Hotel Plaza Athenee is just steps from Central Park and Madison Avenue shopping. This European-style hotel offers the ultimate in personalized service. Need restaurant reservations or tickets to a Broadway show? Simply ask the knowledgeable concierge. Decorated in elegant European furnishings, the 115 guestrooms and 35 suites (some with glass-enclosed indoor terraces and outdoor balconies) create the feeling of being a pampered guest in an upscale, private home. The hotel is home to one of the best restaurants in New York City: Arabelle.
Take your family to Manhattan and enjoy a special children's package at the Hotel Plaza Athenee. Pillows and Penguins, available for children 14 and under, features special amenities sure to delight the kids: children's gift bag including a New York taxi, New York coloring book, crayons, Yankee's baseball cap, and plush penguin, four tickets to Central Park Zoo (just one block from the hotel), VIP passes for Jekyll and Hyde themed restaurant, 10 percent off Lunch or Dinner at Mars 2112 Restaurant, and milk and cookies at turndown. The package includes accommodations for two adults and up to two children in two connecting rooms and continental breakfast daily with special children's menu for the kids. Pillows and Penguins is priced at $990, per night for two connecting King bedded rooms, from January through April 1, 2007, and July 1-September 3, 2007. (From April 2 - June 30, 2007, the package is $1,140, per night for two connecting King bedded rooms.) Subject to availability.
Winter blues? Escape to Arizona's sunshine and wrap yourself in luxury with warm winter rates at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Situated on 93 acres in the ancient Catalina Mountains, the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort offers guests a sanctuary inside and out. Golf buffs, spa addicts, and sun worshippers marvel at the excellent recreational facilities and luxurious guestrooms (each with private terrace, and some feature fireplaces and Jacuzzis). Tee off at one of two Tom Fazio-designed PGA golf courses. Perfect your backhand at one of eight lighted tennis courts at the Tennis Center. Enjoy a rejuvenating body treatment at the 7,000 square foot, full-service spa. Relax by the gorgeous swimming pools. There's also hiking, bicycle rentals, croquet court, ping-pong, and basketball. And for a real splurge, book the Presidential Suite and enjoy its two-tiered patio with spectacular views (of either the 80-foot waterfall or the Canyon Golf Course) from your own private Jacuzzi. Wonderful Winter Rates for Loews Ventana Canyon Resort start at just $329, available until April 8, 2007.
Kudos to the Ritz-Carlton Berlin, which was named the Best Luxury Hotel in Europe by TripAdvisor's 2006 Traveler's Choice Awards. What makes it so special that outspoken TripAdvisor readers felt compelled to cast their votes? Situated right in the heart of Berlin on the prestigious Potsdamer Platz, the Ritz-Carlton Berlin is pretty posh. Guest rooms feature sumptuous marble bathrooms, with signature amenities and the unique service of a Bath Butler. The exclusive gourmet restaurant, Vitrum, is decked out in finery: inlaid Italian marble floors, mirror covered columns, antique Venetian cabinets, and Murano glass chandeliers. At the Curtain Club hotel bar, guests sip aperitifs next to an open fireplace while listening to live jazz. And the La Prairie Boutique Spa is utterly swoon-worthy, a luxurious oasis with health and wellness center and swimming pool set under a ceiling which sparkles with crystals. Signature treatments include Champagne and Caviar (prepare yourself for a gala evening), The Changing Room (the ideal buildup to a night out in Europe's most exciting city), and Jet Lag Recovery (banish the effects of a long-distance flight and stale airplane air). Of course it's the little details which really distinguish luxury hotels like the Ritz-Carlton Berlin. Case in point: the hotel's Joggers Station which supplies fresh towels, mineral water, fruit, and route maps to lucky guests.
The longtime Beverly Hills landmark is getting a makeover. That's right. The Beverly Hilton, proudly situated on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, has announced plans to welcome the first West Coast Waldorf-Astoria hotel as part of its nine-acre hotel property. An extension of Manhattan's legendary art deco hotel, the new hotel will be the first Waldorf-Astoria property under the new brand, and is part of a $500 million investment to revitalize the Beverly Hilton. (After all, even the most legendary and glamorous LA ladies require touch-ups as they age...) The 120 room Waldorf-Astoria will be designed by Gwathmey, Siegal and Associates with contemporary architecture celebrating the city's luxury lifestyle. Together, both hotels will offer spacious gardens, a public art collection, new luxury residences, a destination pool area, and upgraded conference center. They're promising a one-of-a-kind hotel property-- two singular and separate hotel experiences in one location-- that is "unmatched in its diverse offerings, services and amenities for guests and residents of Beverly Hills." Look out, 90210.
Celebrated worldwide for its opulent palaces (and luxurious palace hotels), India's desert state of Rajasthan is a mythical place, rich with cultural history. Indeed, it seems Liz Hurley has been scoping the region for her upcoming wedding to businessman Arun Nayar, and has her eye on the breathtaking Devi Garh Fort Palace. And who can blame her? This palace is the real deal, a magnificently restored royal fort dating from the 18th century. Perched high on a bluff in the Aravali hills outside Udaipur, the Devi Garh Fort Palace commands an impressive position overlooking the valley. The all-suite luxury hotel (39 suites) is a masterpiece of design, embellished with marble and semi-precious stones. (There is even a black marble water maze in one of the magnificent outdoor courtyards.) The premium Devi Gardh suite boasts a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Guests may be irked by her rigid dress code requirements (saris for all!) but they'll surely swoon at the sight of the heavenly spa.
This could be heaven on earth. Situated on the sun-kissed Kohala Coast of Hawaii's Big Island, the AAA five-diamond Mauna Lani Resort is surrounded by a stunning landscape of volcanoes, lush rainforests, endless beaches, and waterfalls. There's tennis, water sports, a children's camp, two championship golf courses, an epic Spa (with a naturally heated lava rock sauna and Aquatic Body Therapy facility), Sport and Fitness Club, and five exquisite dining venues. Because the choices are endless-- a round of golf on the challenging North Course (built on a lava bed older than the Kaniku flow?) or a massage at Hawaii's premier Mauna Lani Spa?-- the good folks at Mauna Lani have made the decision a bit easier for their guests with the "Pick Your Passion" Package. With a full array of exciting options, this package may be the perfect way to discover your favorite activity at the most romantic spot in Hawaii. The "Pick Your Passion" Package includes lodging and one certificate per person (per room night) valid for one of the following: breakfast, lunch or dinner, day of unlimited golf, Golf Academy Session, Spa treatment, personal fitness training, snorkel or sunset cruise, scuba dive, and a volcano helicopter tour. Starting at $595, available until December 19, 2007. So stay five days and discover five new passions.