LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
March 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Southern Florida's premier tourist attraction is back. After a large clean-up and renovation in the wake of Hurricane Wilma's wrath, the marine park opened its doors again on February 11. Located in a picture-perfect spot on Biscayne Bay, the Seaquarium offers a host of marine-life shows and exhibits. Sharks and Dolphins and Sea Lions, Oh My!
You may have missed Mardi Gras, but Jazz Fest is on the horizon. And both W hotels—which had sustained serious wind and water damage from Hurricane Katrina—have recently reopened in time for the best of spring festivals. W French Quarter is contemporary and full of sleek technology—as all W Hotels are—yet plenty romantic and old-world European at the same time. Plus, as its name suggests, it's in the heart of it all in the French Quarter. Its restaurant Bacco is considered one of the best in the city. Hot and hip, the other W New Orleans is equally well-located, a trendy and fashionable hotel that is the home of Rande Gerber's happening bar Whiskey Blue.
W New Orleans, Official Site
W New Orleans, Five Star Alliance
W French Quarter, Official Site
W French Quarter, Five Star Alliance
From Zanzibar to St. Lucia, the March issue of Travel and Leisure has found some incredible beach hot spots, including the DR's Sivory Punta Cana, which I've waxed poetic about before. In their words:
How do you know when a destination hasn't been trammeled by Americans? When it's a challenge to find locals who speak English. Such is the charm of the Dominican Republic, which has long been on the radar of A-listers (Oscar de la Renta, the Clintons); now, with low fares on JetBlue, it's even easier (and less expensive) to get to. The Sivory Punta Cana, a 55-suite property open since December and situated on a long expanse of untouched beach, offers visitors a low-key hideaway.
Your favorite tunes on the stereo. Room at exactly the right temp. The minibar stocked with your daily dose of wheat grass shots. As the IHT reports:
At the Mandarin and other high-end hotels, new computer systems which connect individual rooms to network servers can now keep track of guests' preferences and change the room conditions automatically.Big brother profiling or the perks of refined technology?
This is for private citizens we're talking about. No joke. Space Adventures, Ltd. is a privately owned company in Arlington, VA working hard to open the space frontier for (rich) people from all over the world.
Their mission statement doesn't exactly lack ambition:
Space Adventures will fly tens of thousands of people in space over the next 10-15 years and beyond, both orbital and suborbital, around the moon, and back, from spaceports both on Earth and in space, to and from private space stations, and aboard dozens of different vehicles; and by continually providing newly available space experiences and improving existing space experiences.
An Orbital starts at just $20,000,000—one week at the International Space Station orbiting the Earth. Includes six months of intense training, roundtrip transportation to the ISS, and a weeks lodging in space. Sounds like a steal to me.
You can make a reservation by calling the toll-free number at 1-888-85-SPACE. Easy as pie. Don't know about you—but I've flown an aging Russian jet (a Moscow-born friend confided that though Pulkovo's planes are aging and rickety, the pilots are all ex-fighter-pilots, so if the plane goes down, you're in good hands), and the idea of boarding a jet at Zhukovsky Air Base outside of Moscow, Russia isn't exactly appealing.
With white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and lush, green landscapes, Maui has always appealed as a picture-perfect paradise and renowned destination for honeymooners and families alike. Thus we've been eagerly anticipating the April opening of the Wailea Beach Villas: its elegant private residences offering the intimacy of private homes, but with all the facilities and amenities of a grand resort. Daily housekeeping, concierge assistance, swimming pools, and a spectacular beachfront location overlooking the West Maui mountains. The villas are stocked with fine linens, signature bath amenities, and fabulous gourmet kitchens. And of course the island paradise offers a bounty of activities: scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, boating, kayaking, surfing, fishing, horseback riding, jeep and helicopter tours.
The only complaint? In a tropical island paradise like Maui, is a gated community-- touting serious 24 hour security and surveillance-- absolutely necessary?
Opening in April of this year, Kempinski's first hotel in Dubai has an extraordinary location: overlooking the much-hyped Ski Dubai Alpine themed indoor snow resort, and attached to the biggest shopping mall outside of North America. The luxurious and spacious guestrooms (some of the country's largest) include 15 Ski Chalets with superb views of the indoor ski resort. All are equipped with cutting-edge technology: large flat plasma screen TVs with 40 international satellite channels, in addition to DVD and multi media player. The hotel also features a health club, Ayurveda wellness center, swimming pool and tennis court. The ultimate Alpine experience in the heart of Dubai, Kempinski's five-star hotel is set to become a central landmark in the hottest destination on the planet.
From the New York Times to shiny glossies and guidebooks, the media is brimming with good tips about cruisin'. I've compiled some recent newsworthy articles for your planning pleasure: Conde Nast Traveler, Reader's Poll, The World's Best Cruise Ships 2006 Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Best of Cruising" Forbes, The World's Most Expensive Cruises Travel and Leisure Hot Deals, "Cell Phones at Sea" The New York Times Travel, "Bon Voyage to the Three-Bean Salad" The New York Times Travel, "Extreme Makeover: Taking High Style to the High Seas" The New York Times Travel, "Oman Anyone? More Ships, More Ports of Call" The New York Times Travel, "Mystery at Sea: Who Polices the Ships?"
February 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Making its debut in June, the new Discovery at Marigot Bay stakes its claim to fame with a location on the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean. A member of Small Luxury Hotels, Discovery is situated on the breathtakingly gorgeous island of St. Lucia, built into a lush hillside overlooking the turquoise bay near Castries. The boutique resort offers 67 luxurious guestrooms and 57 suites (30 of them with private plunge pools), featuring dark wood furniture, romantic draped netting over king size pillow-top beds, large balconies overlooking the bay, wifi internet and flat-screen TVs. The Lapli Spa is world-class, its treatment rooms each boasting a private deck with open-air shower. Luxurious treatments use all-natural, local products created by Caribbean herbalists. This is truly an intimate paradise in a yachting capital of the Caribbean.
February 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The craggy, mysterious Himalayas, or some faux fantasy from Disney? Looks like the real deal to me. Snowcapped peaks, colorful Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind, a monastery, Everest base camp, and real, imported flora and fauna. Disney's just-completed Expedition-Everest: Mission Himalayas promises to be as educational as it is action-packed. After all, the Disney creatives partnered with Conservation International and Discovery Networks and sent a scientific, exploratory mission to the Himalayas:
The team searched for new plants and animals not yet discovered in the eastern Himalayan region from China to Nepal, one of the most botanically rich temperate regions in the world with an estimated 12,000 plant species, including 3,500 found nowhere else.
Opening this April, the newest attraction takes riders to an encounter with the scary and mythical Yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman, after "trekking" into a remote Himalayan village and "exploring" local artifacts. Who cares about the lines? I'm so there.