It's big, it's bad…Royal Caribbean's new boat eclipses them all. Freedom of the Seas is set to sail, and the media is abuzz. At 208 feet tall, weighing 160,000 tons, and with a capacity for 4,000 passengers, this baby dwarfs Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and grabs the title of world's biggest passenger ship. The mother of them all sports some pretty nifty "firsts" in the cruising world: rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with (Good God) Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing pool called "Flow Rider." And as recommended by Fodor's, the perfect family cruise experience. Look out, Caribbean.
Fodor's Travel Wire, "Royal Caribbean's Big New Boat"
A Luxury Travel Blog, "Freedom of the Seas in Hamburg"
Yahoo! News, "Freedom of the Seas Is Largest Ship Ever"
Come November, the new InterContinental Boston will bring five star rooms (424 of them) to a stellar location overlooking Boston Harbor within walking distance of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. According to the Boston Herald, bookings for corporate events are already taking off. And it's no wonder--the hotel will have a prime spot near the Convention Center, the second largest ballroom in downtown (a total of 32,000 sq ft of conference and banquet facilities), state-of-the-art technology, and a classy interior of rich paneling, marble and leather. Boston is welcoming a hotel boom at the moment with exemplary spots like this one. As described by the Herald, here's a taste of what’s to come:
The exterior, a bold statement for Boston, features sleek, modern glass. The windows on the front of the hotel facing Atlantic Avenue curve in and out to evoke the feeling of a flag. On the harborside, they are curved in to convey a sail.
Not only are airlines continuing to lose bags at an abysmal rate, but now they're slapping on the baggage fees (overweight bag and you'll have to pony up the dough). Hence the launch of luggage shipping. Skip the hassle of airport check-in, kiss goodbye to bag-schlepping on taxis and trains, avoid the wait at baggage claim, and travel worry-free knowing that your bags will be waiting for you at your destination. Brilliant. Who are the big guys in luggage shipping? Luggage Free bills itself the "luxury luggage delivery expert," specializing in the delivery of excess baggage, golf clubs, skis and oversize stuff. Luggage Concierge offers competitive pricing and a first-class experience, with solid insurance coverage. Luggage Forward provides door-to-door luggage and sports equipment delivery to more than 200 countries globally. Luggage Forward recently announced a sweet new development in their business model: a walk-up forwarding location at the Nantucket Memorial Airport. The fully-staffed counter will be available during the busy summer season, and is the first instance of a luggage forwarding company creating a satellite location. By now, discerning travelers have caught on to the trend of luggage forwarding. Pray tell: how do you like it? What has been your experience? How many days does the process require? Will you ever check baggage on your flights again? Fill us in!
Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.
May 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
China is quickly gaining ground as a hotspot for tourism (ranked the world's 4th most visited nation). And in easily the most beautiful spot in the entire country-- with breathtaking natural scenery of winding rivers and limestone outcroppings covered in vegetation-- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is planning to open the Shangri-La Hotel, Guilin. Slated to open in 2009, the hotel will be situated on the Li Jiang River, with its 418 guestrooms boasting river views. Guests can expect all the luxurious Shangri-La amenities, including wireless internet, business center, numerous dining options, health club, spa and swimming pools. This former backpackers mecca in southeastern China will no doubt be transformed by the arrival of a five star hotel by Asia's leading luxury hotel group.
May 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Surprise, surprise. On the site of what will become the world's longest hotel strip. The US$27 billion tourism development, called Bawadi, is to cover a measly 139 million square feet smack in the middle of Dubailand, and will alone double the number of hotel rooms available in the UAE:
The project was unveiled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, and is intended to help Dubai accommodate the 15 million tourists it aims to attract by 2012.
What exactly will the tourists be doing, flocking to Dubai? Checking out the other tourists on the 10 km strip stuffed with 31 hotels?
Jumeirah, the luxury hospitality group and member of Dubai Holding, is growing by leaps and bounds. Perhaps the most significant development for 2005 was Jumeirah's entry into the US market, with the acquisition of one of Manhattan's most prestigious and historic luxury hotels: The Essex House. Renamed the Jumeirah Essex House, the hotel is an elegant city landmark, perfectly located off Central Park. Since its debut in 1931, this luxurious property has been the New York refuge for international leaders, dignitaries, and celebs. Most importantly, the hotel houses the superlative Mobil Five-Star restaurant, Alain Ducasse at Jumeirah Essex House-- easily the best restaurant in New York City.
After the acquisition of this gorgeous property, Jumeirah continues to anticipate awesome growth for 2006. Let us count the ways. Management of Shanghai's most prestigious new hotel development in the Luwan District (HanTang Jumeirah Shanghai will open in 2008). Management of Jumeirah Dubai Towers, a five-star hotel in Doha, Qatar. Management of the luxury hotels and theme park at the beachfront town of Aqaba, Jordan. And in Dubai, Jumeirah will operate Aqua Dunya, a theme park resort in Dubailand that aims to become the world's largest leisure and tourism attraction. (With a whopping 8 million sq. ft.) And let's not forget the management of Jumeirah Al Khor in Dubai Healthcare City, and lastly, the Jumeirah Business Bay Hotel, in Dubai's new business district (Business Bay, Dubailand, Healthcare City.... the names are clever, aren't they?) Whew.
Jumeirah Essex House, Five Star Alliance
Ahhh, Round Hill: the elegant Jamaican hideaway, a favorite for Town and Country fashion shoots, a former pineapple, allspice and coconut plantation, where the elite and moneyed few escape for their tropical respites. The legendary resort, not far from Montego Bay, is an oasis of gardens, secluded beaches, private villas and horizon-edge pools. There's a Spa, tennis, diving, and fine dining, a vacation experience enhanced by the best, most discreet service.
The 36 guestrooms in the Pineapple House were recently renovated and designed by Ralph Lauren, with white stone floors, four poster bamboo beds draped in a white net, 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, and upholstered furniture from the Ralph Lauren home collection. The rooms are all-white, evoking tropical beach living, and with ocean or garden views. The bathrooms were also redesigned by Lauren, with deep soaking tubs, freestanding rain showers, and double sink vanities.
You heard that right. The AAA four diamond resort-- in quest of the ever elusive five-diamond rating-- may construct an Old West-style casino with 500 slot machines. Just how that will up the rating is beyond me. Currently, Nemacolin Woodlands is a popular luxury destination outside Pittsburgh, with world-class golf course, excellent restaurants, internationally acclaimed Spa, Equestrian Center, Kids Club, shooting academy, tennis, and endless other activities.
Nemacolin Woodlands, Five Star Alliance
The Conch Republic-- so named in 1982 when Key West seceded from Florida with the motto "The People Who Seceded Where Others Failed"-- is a quirky and magical place. At the southernmost point in the US, charming, white Victorian houses bask in the sun. There's diving and snorkeling, sailing and sunning, deep-sea fishing, and more bars per capita in (possibly) the entire world over. Needless to say, this was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, whose legendary residence still houses the offspring of his six-toed cats. In celebration of the city's most famous resident, Key West hosts an annual "Hemingway Days Festival." From July 18 to July 23, the 26th annual event celebrates Hemingway's work and lifestyle. A week of literary readings, a theatrical premiere, short story competition, a museum exhibit, and fishing tournament. And as highlighted by the Washington Post "What’s the Deal?"-- from now until October 15, the city of Key West is offering half price admission to many of its major sites, including sightseeing tours on the Conch Train and Old Town trolley, Hemingway Home and Museum, and Aquarium. Coupons are available here.