LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
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.
October 27, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
Starwood is handing out the treats this Halloween. Book the "Trick or Suite" package by October 31, 2011 to get in on the action (the biggest suite sale of the year!) The Toronto Star points out that you can snag 40% off suites at hotels like the Westin Trillium House at Blue Mountain, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, W Montreal "and four properties in Toronto, including Le Meridien King Edward, Sheraton Toronto, Westin Harbour Castle and Sheraton Parkway." For weekend stays with arrivals Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, for travel through December 30, 2011. Black-out dates apply at each property.
Hurry, it's the last week for newly-engaged couples to enter the Velas Weddings' contest to win a tantalizing, $25,000 dream wedding at Grand Velas Riviera Maya! All you have to do is submit the story of your creative marriage proposal along with a photo (optional) of your best moment together on the on the Velas Weddings, Xcaret, and Xel-Há Facebook pages. Ten finalists will be chosen by Velas Resorts in a random drawing on November 1st. On November 2nd the 10 finalists will be notified, and public voting will take place from November 2nd - 19th on the Velas Weddings Facebook Page. The winners will be notified on November 20th, 2011. To see the winning couple from this past spring's contest tie the knot in paradise at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, tune in to www.velasresorts.com/grandwedding for live coverage on October 30. .
Curious to hear more about the winning prize? Read on to learn the details about this all-expenses paid beach wedding on Mexico's idyllic Riviera Maya...
The winning couple will enjoy a unique Mayan ceremony at Xel-Ha, known to be one of the most beautiful natural aquariums in the world, followed by a symbolic or legal ceremony complemented with flowers and music at Xcaret eco-archeological park, which showcases Mexico's mystical natural wonders, biodiversity and cultural heritage. The prize package includes four days and three nights in a luxury ocean-front Ambassador Pool Suite, a beach-side cocktail hour, a three-course wedding reception, live music, hair and makeup for the bride, decorations, wedding cake, $250 gift certificate courtesy of Diamonds International, event photography by Humberto Castilla, "Trash the dress" photo session by Dream Art and a Ultrafemme gift certificate. The couple and guests will also enjoy a welcome dinner at the resort's exclusive Piaf restaurant, dolphin swim courtesy of Delphinus, special shopping excursions to Luxury Avenue and nature tours courtesy of Rio Secreto.
One of the latest trends in luxury travel? Tykes and teens are getting pampered with specialized spa treatments. We've seen teen acne facials and little princess manicures at hotels like Stowe's Topnotch Resort, Loews Coronado Bay Hotel in San Diego, and The Homestead in Virginia. The latest resort to create a customized menu for its youngest guests? The Four Seasons Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand's northern culture capital in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley. For "little angels," the resort recently unveiled a menu of new treatments using organic, chemical-free products. Here's the menu:
Angel Bliss Massage – A relaxing, soothing treatment perfect for energetic kids, the Angel Bliss Massage improves the quality of children’s sleep, soothes the nervous system, and helps to strengthen the immune system through a gentle pressure oil massage applied to the scalp, legs and feet. 60 minutes.
Look At Me Facial - Formulated especially to suit young and teenage skin, and to leave a little one looking her very best, this is a very gentle facial incorporating an exhilarating face massage to hydrate and purify the skin. 50 minutes.
Gorgeous Skin Glow – The perfect treatment to bring a glow to young skin, the Skin Glow is a gentle scrub using natural red rice to exfoliate dead skin cells and revitalise the skin. 50 minutes.
Soothing Wrap for Sun-Kissed Skin – The perfect after-sun treatment for those kids who’ve been enjoying the great outdoors, this soothing body wrap uses the healing power of aloe vera to cool, moisturise and heal the skin. 50 minutes.
The first Ritz-Carlton in Saudi Arabia officially opened its doors in Riyadh this week. Situated in the Diplomatic Quarter next to the King Abdul Aziz Convention Centre, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is positively palatial in size with 493 guest rooms-- including a whopping 49 two-bedroom Royal Suites and 50 one-bedroom Executive Suites. Looks like they're expecting some high-rollers! The opulent hotel has already become a destination for weddings, even hosting a few before the official opening date, and-- with some 5,800 square meters of conference space-- it's expecting some of the city's largest international summits and gala events. Dotted with fountains, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with native palms and 600-year old olive trees imported from Lebanon. That's not all; the hotel also has an indoor bowling alley and a cigar lounge with one of the largest selections of Cubans in the Kingdom.
There's so much fun and excitement happening the hospitality world these days (beer-themed spa treatments? Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh?) that you can't possibly be expected to keep up with it all. So we're helping out with a wrap-up of some of our favorite tidbits (and gossip) this week. First up: Rumor has it that Buckingham Palace might open as a hotel for tourists when when Prince Charles moves his home to Windsor Castle upon taking the throne. If this does indeed come to pass, expect to pay a "princely sum" to sleep there, says The Boston Globe's Melanie Nayer. Another fun news item: Sir Richard Branson has signed the first deal for his highly anticipated Virgin Hotels brand... in Chicago. The 27-storey Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash-- just a block off Michigan Avenue and the river-- will get a makeover and open as a hotel in fall 2013.
Pictured: Another newsworthy item, the lebua New Delhi, opening in December.
We're terribly excited about the Lebua New Delhi, the brand spanking new hotel from the folks behind the State Tower in Bangkok and the Lake Okareka Lodge in New Zealand. The Lebua blog explains that "Khun Deepak Ohri, CEO of Lebua Thailand aspires to bring the success of The Dome to the shores of India" with some six restaurants. Big expansion plans are in the works. After the property in New Delhi, the brand aims to set up shop in Mumbai and Punjab as well. From the official press release: "The first property by lebua in India will come with its patent luxury model offering the Indian market an array of restaurants and bars. A spectacular roof top restaurant and bar, a traditional Indian restaurant with a renowned Indian Michelin Star awarded chef, and an open terraced fine dining venue." The best news of all? A special introductory rate of $109 per night!
11/11/11 is fast approaching... Will we see a record number of weddings like we did on 8/8/2008? Apparently this date is the most auspicious date of the 21st century, and hotels like The Peninsula Shanghai are feting this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with special 11-themed offers. Not only that, but a number of hotels have chosen 11/11/11 as their opening date. Case in point: The Omni Hotel Dallas which opens its doors in Dallas, Texas on November 11. The Los Angeles Times notes that the "Definitely Dallas Package," with room rates of $111, translates to a 15% discount. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the hotel has 1,001 rooms, a heated pool, sauna, and spa. The offer is available through December 30, 2011, subject to availability and some black-out dates.
October 20, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
This will be a quick one because I like to let the talking pictures speak for themselves. Mandarin Oriental has relaunched its YouTube channel, and it’s gotten a full makeover and is chock full of pretty pictures and promotional interviews, like a piñata filled with the dreams of an overworked marketing executive. Go check out their new content here.
October 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Trump has landed in Toronto. And not exactly in a quiet way. The Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, slated to open its doors on January 31, 2012, will be Canada’s tallest residential building towering 900 feet above the city. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto at the corner of Bay and Adelaide Streets, the tower will have 65 storeys. Talk about a bold addition to the city skyline! The 261 guest rooms are decorated with a color palette said to be "inspired by Champagne and caviar." Expect palatial rooms outfitted with the latest technology, Nespresso Coffee Machines, and the signature Trump Hotel Collection Beds covered with Italian Bellino Linens. Not to mention the personal attention of the Trump Attaché (dedicated butler-style service)! There will also be a 18,000-square-foot spa with an indoor pool and a fully-equipped gym, plus the STOCK restaurant on the 31st floor.
Related Article: From Trump to Four Seasons: A New Crop of Luxury Hotels in Toronto