LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
An unspoiled, uninhabited island at the far west end of The Turks and Caicos Islands is the setting for a unique eco-conscious residential community and boutique resort developed by Ritz-Carlton. West Caicos Reserve-- located 20 minute boat ride from Providenciales-- is dedicated to preserving the island's natural habitat, and has thus preserved 90 percent of it as open space. Construction has just begun for Ritz-Carlton's 125-suite resort, which will be called Molasses Reef, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Overlooking a 2,600 ft stretch of secluded beach, the 125 oceanfront suites are billed as representing "barefoot luxury at its best." The property also includes 75 Ritz-Carlton-managed residential villas-- for owners to realize dreams of life on an uncharted tropical island yet pampered with the world-class service expected of Ritz-Carlton. More than 50 percent of the villas have already been sold (so hop to it!) The resort, along with its restaurants and spa, is scheduled to open in early 2008.
Little Dix Bay is a Caribbean gem on Virgin Gorda beloved by its discerning clientele for its elegant villas nestled among lush gardens, delicious dining venues, and other-worldly Spa. The award-winning beachfront resort just got a little more enticing when it unveiled new renovations and additions, including eight new junior suites and three new hilltop villas. These renovations--including all 100 guest rooms-- are part of a five-year makeover that will be completed in December just in time for high season. Each of the new suites is distinguished by patio and porch with gorgeous sea views and sunsets, and extraordinary outdoor bathrooms that are completely hidden from the water. The interiors are luxuriously appointed with indigenous woods, local stones, and handcrafted furniture and fabrics. The three new villas feature three or four bedrooms, oversized living areas, outdoor showers, private pool and dining pavilion/barbeque area. The magical makeover began in 2000 with the addition of the 3,000 sq ft Children's Grove, where children enjoy creative activities with a professional and fun staff. In 2001, the resort opened The Spa at Little Dix Bay, in its unparalleled cliffside setting, along with two beachfront villas. Eight Rosewood Junior suites were added in 2004, and in 2005, the resort redesigned its restaurants and renovated two-thirds of all guestrooms with completely new bathrooms and outdoor showers. With these extensive renovations, the tranquil and sophisticated Caribbean resort just got a whole lot more luxurious.
Leave it to Trendhunter to pick up on the latest fad: fashion designers branching out beyond the basics, and "expanding their empires" to include jet interior design (Versace's got it covered: You go, girl!) as well as kitchens by…Armani.
Of course we're all over their big plans to break into the hotel industry with luxury hotels in Dubai. Both the Versace Palazzo hotel and Armani's hotel in the Burj Dubai building are planned to open in 2008.
Armani's hotel is under construction in the stratospheric Burj Dubai building, whose exact number of floors is secret but rumored to approach 200. It will feature subtle hues and a rigorous, sophisticated environment. In addition to offering who-knew-you-needed-it features such as temperature-controlled sand on the beach, Versace's Dubai outpost will be as Baroque as the late Gianni Versace's private residences. At the Missoni hotel, one of a string of global openings, the decor blends the brand's colorful prints with the streamlined architecture of Matteo Thun.
And at luxury hotels across the world, guests are opting for designer suites that reflect a certain lifestyle, such as the Vera Wang Suite at the Halekulani Hotel, and the brand new Bottega Veneta Suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, opening this fall. (1,700 sq ft distinguished by pieces from Bottega's new home line.)
The cat's out of the bag about Playa del Carmen. The cool and classy beach destination on Mexico's gorgeous less-traveled Yucatan peninsula (away from the high-rises, Senor Frog's, and wet t-shirt contests of Cancun) is growing at a staggering pace. Quickly fleeting are the days of uncrowded stretches of white sand beach and evenings at hip beach bars. Among the new hotels popping up as quickly as sand-castles: The new Riu Palace Riviera Maya is the fourth all-inclusive Riu Palace to open in Playa in recent months. And Kor has jumped on the development bandwagon, with the Viceroy Riviera Maya and The Tides Playa del Carmen Resorts and Residences (both slated for 2008), and the recent acquisition of two existing upscale resorts: the 46-room Mosquito Blue and the newly built, 33-room Mosquito Beach. (And the accommodations all promise to be sinfully luxurious...) Flights to Cancun are at a record low right now-- we're talking $129 Chicago-Cancun on United's brand new route-- so best get down there now to see a piece of paradise vanishing fast...
Vancouver's delightful boutique hotel already has plenty of gold in its collection. A fixture on Travel and Leisure's Top 500 list and considered the best hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Traveler readers, the Wedgewood is a delightful European style hotel situated in the city center on Robson Square. The 83 luxurious rooms and suites all feature private balconies and beautiful, plush furnishings. The four Penthouse Suites are currently undergoing a $1 million renovation, and will reopen at the end of May. At 700 sq. ft. each, the Penthouse Suites will feature large private garden terraces and balconies with views of the Robson Square gardens and waterfalls, luxurious Spa bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, walk-in showers and heated limestone floors, living rooms with fireplaces and marble wetbars, and bedrooms with French doors and LCD flatscreen TVs. A truly blissful spot in this cosmopolitan city.
And to add to the awards at the Wedgewood, Vancouver Magazine recently gave top honors to Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge at the 17th Annual Vancouver Restaurant Awards. The restaurant received Gold for Best Bar/Lounge, Gold for Best Hotel Dining and Bronze for Best Formal French in Vancouver. In addition, Bacchus was awarded the title of Best Bar and Lounge in the City, for the seventh consecutive year.
At the world-famous intersection of Rodeo and Wilshire Boulevards, The Regent Beverly Wilshire wows with its signature suites, superb Spa, and unrivaled service. And this legendary address has now been enhanced by a renovation of luxurious refurbishments and newly designed Spa and Pool. The exciting makeover includes the June 1st opening of celebrated Chef Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant and lounge, called Cut and Sidebar. The contemporary steakhouse was designed by architect Richard Meier, boasting a stunning modern look.
The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas offers a heavenly escape surrounded by sparkling turquoise waters and lush tropical forests. From the resort's dazzling white beaches, guests windsurf, parasail, and venture out on scuba diving and snorkeling expeditions. The elegant 152-room resort is about to get even classier, with a new $35 million renovation project. The changes planned include the addition of 24 luxury suites, six spa treatment rooms and a 20,000 sq ft lounge, and overhauls of all three restaurants. The hotel will reopen again on November 1, ready to charm guests for the holiday season. But hurry! There is still some availability for the peak holiday season...
Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:
"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead.Resources:The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans.Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.
What did I tell you? Abu Dhabi is where it's at. Apparently, the capital of the UAE is aiming for 25,000 hotel rooms by 2015. The latest five-star hotel announcement is the Emirates Pearl, expected to take two years to build and at a cost of $136 million. The coastal hotel's defining feature? A 240 meter high tower (that's 47 storeys) designed by Austria's award-winning architect Dennis Lems:
The tower, which houses 352 spacious rooms and suites and 104 luxuriously furnished apartments all with balconies and Gulf views, sits on a 22 meter high, five-storey podium which features a 20-meter high atrium with five restaurants, service centres, offices, a gym, hair salon, spa, meeting rooms, business centre and shops.
The Emirates Pearl will be constructed with a contemporary twisting glass design. And the hotel's entrance will be marked by a "figurehead sculpture of an Arab hunting scene." How snazzy. And they sure picked a winner of a name for the place.
May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As if you needed another reason to go to Florence. The newly-opened Villa Olmi Resort, poised on a six hectare estate just outside the gates of Florence, has been renovated into one of the region's most exclusive and enchanting properties. The park and Italian gardens have been witness to centuries of history, dating back to the Renaissance, and the beautiful Villa still retains original characteristics such as 18th century murals. Villa Olmi is comprised of three main buildings: the Villa, the Country House and the Colonica, now gorgeous hotel facilities. The restoration was a careful and diligent process, managed by the Government Service for Monuments. And the hotel, with its focus on privacy and careful attention to detail, preserves an aura of an 18th century private nobleman's home. The 50 rooms and suites don't skimp on modern conveniences; they're loaded with Wi-Fi, plasma TV screens, DVD players, marble bathrooms with jacuzzis, and individual air-comfort systems in-room.