Let the countdown begin. Las Vegas' newest resort opens April 18, with a huge fireworks celebration at approximately 9:30 pm. Red Rock Casino Resort Spa, located at I-215 and West Charleston, is surrounded by serene and inspiring landscapes, just minutes from the Strip. The pool back yard is three acres of fun in the sun, with 19 private cabanas, swim-up gaming, and a tropical island. And the luxurious accommodations are equipped with 42-inch plasma TVs, iPod sound systems, in-room spa service and lustrous linens. For a limited time, take advantage of the exclusive introductory room offer from $129 per night!
The Informed Traveler, "New Las Vegas Hotels: Red Rock Station"
A luxury train ride promised to be epic, and it stank to high heaven? A private jet experience gone wrong? The Times UK weighs in:
They're icons of luxury travel: the Orient-Express, the Queen Mary 2, the private jet. Travel on them and you wave goodbye to the common herd. Sure, they cost a small fortune, but you've got to experience them at least once in a lifetime. Or have you? Are the most prestigious train, boat and plane rides in the world all they’re cracked up to be?The Times sent three writers to find out, whose overwhelming response-- "Damn straight, it's worth it!"-- was a little surprising... Can these icons of luxury travel deliver perfect performances each time? Is there no room for improvement?
March 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
So what if the hotel spa had racked up a mountain of awards, including #1 in service by Conde Nast Traveler readers? The only hotel in Southern California to score both the AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Five Star awards for twelve consecutive years doesn't get complacent or sit pretty on their laurels. Instead, they inject $7 million in renovations into an already picture-perfect spa. The newly transformed Peninsula Spa opened its doors in Beverly Hills last month; its new look is cutting-edge, characterized by limestone, clear glass and mosaic tile-work. The lavish range of treatments include special treatments for men (that run the gamut from facials, sports, body, hand and foot experiences), and a dedicated skin therapy room overlooking the Hollywood Hills. In addition, there is now a Couples Treatment Room, and Spa robes, wraps and headbands from Frette. Spa technicians are fashionably clad in St. John custom-designed uniforms. And the best part of all: the exclusive Shiffa Precious Gem Treatments, which incorporate Shiffa gem oils containing rubies, emeralds and sapphires (oh my!) to relay the gems' healing powers and create serenity.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills, Official Site
The Peninsula Beverly Hills, Five Star Alliance
March 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At last, a luxury destination hotel for business travelers in the heart of Indiana's capital. The Conrad Indianapolis debuts today (and Conrad's been prepping for this opening ceremony for months!) The 241 guest rooms are loaded with technology and amenities for business travelers: 42 inch flat screen TVs with satellite, high speed wireless internet, spacious work areas, three telephones and fax. In addition, the hotel's got ample meeting space (10,000 sq ft. of it), excellent spa facilities, and fine dining. The Vitesse tapas and caviar bar may even lure East and West coasters into the depths of the Heartland's fly-over territory.
March 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The media is abuzz: Louisville's 21C is the hottest thing this side of the Mississippi. The newly-opened boutique hotel-- listed on the National Register of Historic Places-- is part of what the New York Times calls Louisville's "downtown renaissance." The 90 rooms (including six premier suites) are elegantly decorated and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including 42' flat-screen televisions and WiFi. But this masterpiece is not merely a luxury boutique hotel; 21C is also a museum of contemporary art, housing pieces from the owner's mind-blowing $10 million art collection. (Philanthropists Steve Wilson and Laura Brown, a husband and wife team, are the co-developers.)
The award-winning hotel that is oft considered the best city hotel in the United States has a dining room to match. Seasons Restaurant is an opulent dining experience, both in its gorgeous seventh-floor setting overlooking Chicago's avenues, and in its creative Franco-American cuisine. The new executive chef brings with him an 11 year career with the company. A Chicago native, Hickey is a frequent shopper of neighborhood ethnic markets, incorporating local, organic products into his distinct menus of American cuisine.
Seven months ago, four-star executive chef Robert Sulatycky left Seasons for Napa Valley to pursue his dream of becoming a winemaker. Since the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotels are sister properties, that left Kevin Hickey, the executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, responsible for the entire kitchens of both hotels. The guy says he has literally been running across the street in his chef whites as many as four times a day, "writing menus, driving the creative force, being involved with events." How do you do it? Dish asked. "I don’t know," Hickey replied, "but I delegated a lot. I have great sous chefs and put a little bit more work on their shoulders." One set of those shoulders belongs to the executive sous chef at the Ritz, Mark Payne, a UK native with credentials that include nine years with the Four Seasons family from properties in Nevis (West Indies) to New York City. Clearly Payne and Hickey each performed at the top of their culinary game because Hans Willimann, general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, has announced that as of April 1st, Hickey will become the executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel and Payne will be promoted to the top toque position at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Both chefs expect to have their new dining room menus in place by mid-May.
When it opens in 2010, the 450-room luxury hotel will be the tallest in the world. Intercontinental recently signed a deal with Shanghai Greenland Group, one of the leading real estate and property management companies in China, which will add more hotel rooms in Shanghai and Xian, as well as the hot Intercontinental Nanjing. To be located within the Nanjing International Financial Center, the world's tallest hotel will boast pool, spa, dining, and excellent conference and business facilities. Take that, Dubai.
March 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Dubai's got it all. But the mouth-dropping reflex still hasn't been tempered with each new juicy detail I learn about Dubai's growth. (With the progression of developments from the initial underwater restaurant, the globe's unique seven-star hotel, the private manmade islands of The World, and indoor skiing facility at the SnowDome.) Instead, I marvel at the UAE's new craze for speed: the Ferrari theme park slated for Abu Dhabi and the MotorCity Autodrome and Business Park in Dubai. MotorCity is a fully-integrated auto/motor sports facility with racing track, humongous grandstand, surrounding office park with conference facilities, entertainment, dining and retail complex, and-- get this!-- a "destination development" for upscale villas in a residential community called UPTOWN MotorCity. How rad.
It's that time of year again. MGM Mirage-- which now owns over half of the hotel rooms on the Strip-- is spending a whole lot of cash on its Vegas spring cleaning. $800 million on upgrades, in addition to the $7 billion they're shelling out for the Project CityCenter development, expected to open in 2010. After all, you've got to spend money to make money, as the Las Vegas Sun explains: "the idea is to continue to attract big spenders." Last year they spent big bucks on upgrading a wing of MGM Grand, building high-end Skylofts, adding two restaurants from Chef Joel Robuchon, and serious upgrades at Mandalay Bay. What's in store with this year's spring cleaning? Renovation of the outdoor pool and beach area at Mandalay Bay to add a bunch of new deck space and cabanas. Remodeling of the Rumjungle bar and revamping of the 3950 restaurant, with the addition of a celebrity chef. A new nightclub at Luxor. A new restaurant and bar at Excalibur. A new Japanese restaurant at Mirage. And the biggest upgrade of all: a Cirque du Soleil show inspired by the music of the Beatles, to debut in May at the Mirage.
After the tragic mess left by Hurricane Wilma, Cancun is slowly making a comeback. The Presidente Intercontinental Cancun Resort has recently reopened, with some profound improvements. They've renovated each guest room and suite, revamped the Club Floor, redesigned the lobby, enlarged the pool, added a new oceanfront bar with nightly live music, and added a new open air restaurant. Not to mention a wider (and whiter) beach. Actually, as the hotel explains:
due to its privileged location, added more than 15 feet of additional frontage to its spectacular private beach, one of the largest and most beautiful in Mexico and featured as one of the "World's Best Beaches" by the Travel Channel.
Forget the spring break hordes (they're all in Key West and Panama City, anyway); now's the time to head south of the border.