Looking to get inspired for your next getaway? The savvy editors at Fodor's have just released their first-ever list of the world's best hotels. After careful deliberation, the team of Fodor's editors and writers curated the "Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011" spanning eight hotel categories. Here's a sampling of some of our favorites that made the cut.
Calling all shopping addicts. Come winter, the Dubai Shopping Festival is where it's at. Get a tan (and soak up the balmy temps) while you're sprinting between boutiques. Indulge in some retail therapy with serious discounts on luxury brands, and you'll also be privy to the region's biggest "entertainment extravaganza"-- ie. huge fireworks displays, daily car raffles, and more. The best part of all? Shopping in Dubai is entirely tax-free. The annual month-long fest takes place from January 20- February 20, 2012 and attracts some three million visitors. Looking for a place to stay? Five Star Alliance has the skinny on a number of glamorous Dubai hotels- from the "seven-star" Burj Al Arab to Armani's very own pad (pictured). Take a gander at the full list here.
November 9, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Fairmont has declared November 12, 2011 an official "tea day"-- celebrating all things tea-- and being tea fans ourselves, we're thrilled about the "tea-rrific" events they have planned at hotels and resorts around the world. From tastings with a tea sommelier at The Fairmont Empress in Victoria to tours of a neighboring tea estate at Kenya's historic Fairmont The Norfolk, the festive events celebrate Fairmont's historic connection to the traditional afternoon ritual. Other fun, noteworthy celebrations: get discounts for wearing fancy hats at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise; imbibe signature "Tea-quila" cocktails at The Fairmont Dallas; try Swiss-style tea at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace featuring finger sandwiches made with local Gruyère cheese; partake in a multi-cultural tea celebration at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui. For the full run-down of activities, check out the official website. And if you're in need of a little Tea Etiquette, the experts at The Fairmont Empress have some top tips.
Pssst. You can also try some tea-infused cocktails from the hotel brand's top mixologists.
Image via Fairmont Hotels/ Everyone's an Original
Baby, it's cold outside! What you need to warm up: two hours of perfect pampering at The Berkeley Health Club and Spa. The stylish hotel in Knightsbridge has a sublime spa created with the expert guidance of Howard Consulting, the premier spa consultancy. A range of massages and therapies are available, and the rooftop pool and gym have knock-out views over Hyde Park. For a limited time only, the hotel is running a contest where you can win a five-star spa experience. Here's what's included in the "Perfect Retreat": Body Skin Preparation (25 mins), Comfort Touch Massage (25 mins) and Rebalance Facial (55 mins) for her; and Comfort Touch Massage (25 mins), Pure Performance Facial (55 mins) and Men’s Manicure (25 mins) for him. Guaranteed to restore lost energy and relax your body and mind! To enter, simply sign up to receive email updates from The Berkeley, and all entries will be entered into a prize draw. Closing date: November 30, 2011. The winner will be notified by email on December 7, 2011.
November 7, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
Let it snow! November means it’s time to take advantage of some early-season ski deals so you can hit the powder fast. Without a doubt, the best place to embrace the winter is our neighbor to the north. Canada’s pristine wilderness is home to the number one ski resort in North America (Whistler), and Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a storybook winter setting in the Canadian Rockies. Here, the wide-open wilderness makes for some epic skiing on what feels like your very own private pistes.
Fairmont offers three legendary resorts where skiers and non-skiers alike revel in luxury while soaking up the surrounding natural beauty. Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs resort is located in the heart of the park with three pristine ski resorts at your doorstep. With the “Couples Holiday Getaway,” you get a third night for free when you stay for the festive Christmas season between December 17th and December 30th, 2011. Another hot offer: With “Extend Your Stay,” you’ll get discounts until February 10, 2012. Stay two nights and save 25% off each night when you stay two nights; 30% off each night when you stay three nights; 35% off each night when you stay four or more nights.
Also located in Banff National Park, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the ultimate winter playground. Oft described as Canada’s most scenic ski resort, the Lake Louise Ski Resort has 139 marked ski runs and back bowls on four mountain faces. Beyond skiing, the snow adventures are endless-- from dog sledding the Great Divide to horse-drawn sleigh rides through the glacial shadows. Take advantage of the resort’s “Ski & Play for Free” and you’re guaranteed the ski trip of a lifetime. Included in the package: luxury accommodations, two adult Lake Louise Ski Resort passes per room per night OR a $100 Fairmont Chateau lake Louise resort credit (in place of each ski day), plus transportation to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Valid from November 15th, 2011 until May 1st, 2012, starting from $299 CAD per night.
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler-- nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain-- offers ski-in/ski-out access, amenities for pets, and a lavish spa. The “Ski for Free” package means you get Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets included with your low room rates (from $269 CAD per night) until November 23, 2011. Or book the “Everyone's An Original Winter Offer “ for double airline reward miles.
To the disappointment of the Hollywood celebs and business tycoons who bunk down at The Gritti Palace while staying in Venice, the iconic luxury hotel has shuttered its palatial doors for a 15-month restoration. When it reopens in 2013, this Starwood Luxury Collection hotel is guaranteed to still have its magnificent historic features and design elements (original Rubelli Venetian textiles and unique furniture custom designed by Donghia and inspired by Venetian Rococo couches and pozzetti). But it will also flaunt up-to-the-minute technology and all the latest contemporary conveniences. The finest craftsmen have been enlisted for this meticulous renovation project. Located on the Grand Canal and housed inside a 16th century palazzo, The Gritti Palace is a fixture on Travel + Leisure magazine's "T+L 500" list of top-rated hotels around the globe.
For other accommodations options in Venice, check out our recommended hotels.
November 4, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Not content with just one day of Thanksgiving-style feasting, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia is rolling out a 12-Day Pumpkin Celebration this year. Starting on November 18, 2011, pumpkin fanatics will be able to get their hands on all kinds of gourd-flavored treats (like spiced pumpkin cream cheese muffins). It's even possible to start your day with Long Island cheese pumpkin pancakes with bourbon maple syrup for breakfast, and then complete your lunch-- full of fall-themed dishes-- with a pumpkin flan. Come 5 o'clock, a bevy of pumpkin cocktails await you at the bar at Swann Lounge. Teetotalers, never fear. You can get your drink on with the Johnny Pumpkinseed, a non-alcoholic beverage that contains apple cider and sparking cider with pumpkin spiced syrup.
November 2, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Come hell or high water, the Angsana Laguna Phuket will be opening its doors on December 1, 2011. The new flagship for Angsana Hotels and Resorts, the property closed earlier this year for a multi-million dollar overhaul, and promises to dazzle after a dramatic makeover. The guest rooms and public spaces are stylish and contemporary in design, with traditional Thai touches (think steep arched roofs, waterways winding through the grounds, and vividly colored fabrics).
Nestled on Bang Tao Bay in the northwest of Phuket Island in Southern Thailand, Angsana Laguna Phuket is part of Laguna Phuket, Asia’s first integrated resort, which is comprised of five luxury hotels, six palm-fringed lagoons, 600 acres of parkland, three kilometers of pristine beach and a slew of recreational activities and dining options. We like the sound of the 323 metre free-form pool that meanders throughout the Angsana Laguna Phuket and the award-winning Angsana Spa. Did we mention the treehouse-inspired Kids Club? This resort is family friendly (and they even have a special kiddies pool called the toddler's "tub").
Hot rates: The resort is currently offering $199 introductory rates with breakfast included, and they'll throw in a resort credit of $98 when you stay in two nights or more. Stay a minimum of three nights, and you'll get a free 90-minute massage.
November 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Slated to open on January 19, 2012, the new St. Regis Bal Harbour promises to bring a new level of luxury to the affluent Florida enclave. Inside the oceanfront development (pictured), both residences and hotel rooms will be available for luxury-seeking sun-worshippers. Rising 27 storeys above the beach, the three all-glass towers will house-- to quote the press release-- "a sprawling Remède Spa, a world class dining experience at Jean-Georges' restaurant J&G Grill, exquisite interior design by Yabu Pushelberg, renowned contemporary art and the finest finishes with one-of-a-kind West African Movinque wood and Chinese God Flower Stone Marble from a private quarry commissioned exclusively for the resort." Guests can also expect the signature St. Regis butler service, and an impressive contemporary art collection showcased throughout the hotel. For some gorgeous pix, check out the photo library.
October 31, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Nothing whets our appetite for travel more than the annual destination lists by top travel guides. Frommer's recently released their "Top Destinations for 2012" after its editors, authors, and experts spent "months bickering" among themselves. They also reached out to readers to find out their travel plans for the coming year, with Turkey the clear winner at 51% of the vote (Paris, Italy, and Hawaii also got high marks). The USA Today has summarized the list, including explanations about each destination from Frommers.com editorial director David Lytle.
Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, "as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives."
Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it's a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.
Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you've done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.
Beirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. "It's an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation," Lytle says.
Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it's also on the heritage trail for African Americans.
London's Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it's bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party's over.
Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It's also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It's a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.
Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it's central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.
Yucatan Peninsula – There's more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it's been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico's western reaches.