September 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Get ready, Orlando. The Magic Kingdom is getting a luxe addition. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced that it will begin construction on a $360 million luxury resort in December. Slated for 2014, this will be the largest resort for the brand on the planet- encompassing 444 guest rooms, 40 time-share units, 90 Four Seasons private residences (any buyers out there?), a rooftop resto with views of Walt Disney World, and a "lazy river" water complex. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Four Seasons snatched up the real estate in August 2008 for $51 million, including Disney's Osprey Ridge golf course, which will become part of the resort.
September 15, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This is a real treasure hunt we're talking about... with a $20,000 Martin Flyer diamond ring as the pirate's booty. On September 17, the 2nd Annual Annapolis Diamond Dash will take place all over the city's historic downtown. And did we mention it's free to enter this one-day treasure hunt? All locations and challenges will be delivered straight to participants' cell phones. It's easy: Grab a teammate, solve riddles, and earn points! Teams of two answer riddles and complete challenges right from their cell phones, as they follow clues throughout the downtown area for the chance to win the ring. What's more, participants are also granted access to the exclusive after-party, hosted by Loews Hotel starting at 2 pm. For more details, check out the website.
Pictured: Loews Annapolis Hotel, a proud sponsor of the event.
It looks like massive tourism growth in glitzy Dubai has had a big impact on Dubai International. The airport handled 4.7 million passengers in the month of July alone, and is on track to eclipse Hong Kong and Paris Charles de Gaulle. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has determined that Dubai's airport will move into place this November as the world's second busiest international airport. London's Heathrow continues to be the world's busiest airport. Interested in jetting to Dubai to check out the indoor ski resort or the LED light show at InterContinental Dubai Festival City? Browse the Five Star Alliance collection of four- and five-star hotels...
One of NYC's finest restaurants-- Chef Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin-- closed for a month in August to revamp the interiors. It's now much more contemporary and sleek in style. Architects Bentel & Bentel, who did up the Gramercy Tavern and the Modern, were behind the makeover. The New York Times has the skinny:
Twisted vertical strips of steel dominate one wall in the dining room. Some smaller floor-to-ceiling teak panels screen serving stations and separate the dining room from a redesigned bar. Where 32 tables had been there are now 28, many at curved banquettes, a first for the restaurant. Translucent silvery fabric covers the windows. The chairs are upholstered in brown leather, framed in steel, not wood... Textured carpeting has a circular design suggesting fossilized sea creatures. The pièce de résistance is a 24-foot triptych painting of a stormy sea, "Deep Water No. 1," by Ran Ortner of Brooklyn, covering the back wall.
There's now an expanded bar and lounge with a cocktail menu (new for the restaurant). It has a more casual vibe-- jackets aren't required like they are for the dining room, and they don't take reservations. Read: A happening new spot!
One of our top picks for lodgings in Florence, Italy? The Villa San Michele, an Orient-Express property housed in a former monastery that boats a 15th century facade attributed to Michelangelo. The location is killer; the hotel is nestled on a hilltop amid terraced gardens with unrivaled views across the Arno Valley to Florence. From the panoramic swimming pool, you can soak up the stunning views over the Tuscan hills. And that's not all. A brand new Massage Gazebo at the Villa San Michele is the perfect place for open-air massages with a view. Special offers: The hotel is currently running the "One More Night" offer where you get a third night for free when you stay two consecutive nights. Your daily room rate is pre-discounted by 33% and includes Full American Breakfast daily. Rates are valid only during selected periods and are subject to availability.
Calling all fitness fanatics. Have you heard of Jock Yoga? Yoga pro Michael De Corte created these unique Power Yoga classes for all levels of fitness. Straight from the horse's mouth: These intensive classes are "for the yoga-skeptic, the inflexible, the over-flexible who wish to build strength, women and men who want to tone and strengthen their muscles, jocks/athletes, people who want to strengthen their spirit/ambition/resolve, and just about anyone who is willing to sweat!" Jock Yoga bootcamps are motivational four-week programs with one-hour sessions targeting the core and upper and lower body. Piqued your interest? The Windsor Arms Hotel, a bastion of luxury in Toronto, is currently hosting a month long boot camp, coinciding with the debut of the new Windsor Arms Yoga Studio.
The place to be in Miami this weekend? The Four Seasons Hotel for a happening pool party-- the last one of the summer season! What's so special about this bash? For one thing: the Leblon caipirinha cart, a very grown up version of the ice-cream cart, which will dispense made-to-order drinks chaise-side for just $7. But this isn't one last hurrah. This party marks the start of "Miami Season"- i.e. mucho revelry and merrymaking non-stop from October through March. The pool part will take place on Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 11:00 am to sundown. A special party menu will feature ceviche and light snacks priced from $10- $20. Expect high energy music and lots of signature amenities (think Evian spritzes, cool towels and butler-passed frozen treats).
Entrance is available with a $25 pool pass and members of The Sports Club/LA enter free. Cabana packages are available and include use of a cabana by four people, mineral water, fruit platter and one cocktail per person for $150. Reservations are recommended as space is limited.
Paint the town red in Vancouver; the Opus Hotel is inviting you to treat yourself to a deluxe evening out with a bevy of free add-ons with the "Lights Out" package. We're talking $170 worth of inclusions! Kick off the good times with free martinis in your stylish OPUS Suite as you primp for an evening out with priority access to Vancouver’s most desirable restaurant, One Hundred Nights. They're open until 3am so of course you'll get late 2pm check out the next morning and breakfast for two. Priced from $279, the package includes these complimentary perks:
* Martinis for 2 | mix or drink it straight up
* OPUS Perks Card | Exclusive offers at 14 Yaletown Retailers
* 15% off Deluxe and Executive Suite room rates
* VIP access to OPUS Bar/One Hundred Nights | flash your room key
* Breakfast for two in One Hundred Nights
PS. The Opus Hotel Vancouver is part of Five Star Alliance's four-star hotel collection. For other four-star hotels, browse the Five Star Alliance site...
There's a new signature restaurant at Dukes London and it's guaranteed to get foodies drooling. The restaurant's name-- Thirty-Six by Nigel Mendham-- is derived from the number symbolizing good luck in Chinese astrology, the symbol of the magic square of the sun, as well as the hotel's address on Little St. James. Michelin-starred chef Nigel Mendham cooks up traditional British dishes in a "classic contemporary style" highlighting superb local produce. Here's a sampling:
Dry aged beef carpaccio, beetroot, horseradish; Rare breed pork of braised cheek with Waldorf salad; Scallops, cauliflower, smoked eel, red sorrel
Highland venison, butternut fondant, ossobucco; Lemon sole, langoustine tortellini, carrot puree, hazelnut crumb; Brill rib of beef with watercress and native oysters;
Carrot cake, liquid carrot, iced cream cheese, spiced walnuts; Apples and brambles crumble, brulee, sorbet; Dark chocolate delice, crunchy pears and cardamon
All menu selections are offered prix fixe at Thirty-Six by Nigel Mendham: dinner is £49 for two courses and £60 for three courses; and lunch is £26 for two courses and £36 for three courses. The restaurant's nine-course tasting menu - which includes a Margarita right before the dessert courses - runs £95 or £150 with matching wines.
Like the farm-to-table food movement, spas are sourcing locally grown ingredients like chamomile and lavender. This new trend was highlighted in the International Spa Association's annual trend showcase in New York on August 18. Another new direction that spas are taking? Treatments are focusing not just on beauty but also on remedying stress and pain. Lastly, as The Washington Post points out, spa treatments are embracing technology:
- The Spa at Trump demonstrated a pulsating light treatment on hands at the ISPA event; the LED therapy is used in facials at Trump Hotel spas ($150 for 30 minutes at Trump Soho). The Trump team also showed off a sparkly new line of SpaRitual vegan nail polish (animal fat can be an ingredient in nail polish).
And the spa market is looking pretty healthy, too, with statistics showing that the industry is recovering from the recession. An annual study by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that revenue was up to $12.8 billion in 2010, a 4% increase over 2009, with spa visits increasing from 143 million to 150 million.
Pictured: A spa treatment at Miraval Resort in Arizona.