November 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
For his first eponymous hotel, Giorgio Armani didn't exactly go about it quietly. He chose the tallest building in the world-- the towering Burj Khalifa-- as the setting for the sleek Armani Hotel Dubai, which embodies the fashion mogul's sophisticated style even in the tiniest of details. Now Armani has done it again-- this time with a brand new "palazzo" hotel in his home town of Milan. Situated on via Manzoni in the city's designer shopping district, the Armani Hotel Milan recently held a star-studded opening gala where celebs like Jessica Alba donned their finest Armani apparel.
Conde Nast Traveller says: "Giorgio Armani has created a home from home, or casa della casa, for suitably stylish guests in Milan. Interiors are perfectly in keeping with Armani/Casa's sleek style and his clothing line; a continuation of his ocean-inspired Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection - think silver and sophisticated gold." Luxury Travel Advisor is smitten with the suites that come with private gyms and personal kitchens. "Each guest is assigned his or her personal "lifestyle manager," (think 24/7 butler). There is a rooftop spa with Japanese onsen-style Jacuzzi and gym overlooking the Duomo and La Scala (posh indeed!)."
November 11, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
Situated along the exclusive beach of Baie Longue, La Samanna is a boutique resort bathed in St. Martin’s lush mangroves, tropical flora and simple Caribbean luxury. Over the past four decades, the privacy, tranquility and panoramic views of Baie Longue have enticed guests from around the world to visit La Samanna – one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts. Since purchasing the hotel from its original owners in 1997, Orient-Express has made continuous enhancements to maintain the resort’s position as a legendary getaway while preserving the property’s connection to St. Martin’s history and culture.
When guests arrive this fall, they will discover La Samanna has embarked on an extensive renovation project of guest rooms and suites. Inspired by the hotel’s original guest rooms from 1972, which were influenced by Mediterranean architecture, the new design is graceful, light and clean. There is generous use of the color white, in the flooring, countertops, walls and furnishings, and accents of color introduced with accessories, decorative pillows and lamps.
Guests will find original etchings from Sir Roland Richardson, depicting scenes or locations of old St. Martin. Often referred to as the “Father of Caribbean Impressionism,” Richardson has been the resident artist at La Samanna for the past decade. Rooms will also feature watercolor prints from Antoine Chapon, a French painter who settled on St. Martin in 1981. Chapon’s work is a serene reflection of the Caribbean atmosphere and culture.
This fall, La Samanna invites you to see their newly renovated suites with the Suite Dreams Package. For a limited time only, you can experience the luxury of the one-bedroom suites at a 30% discount. The "Suite Dreams Package" includes accommodation, daily buffet breakfast, access to the state-of-the-art fitness center, and unlimited usage of non motorized water sports. Rates are from $555 per suite, per night. Please Note: five night minimum stay required. Offer applicable to one-bedroom suites only. All taxes and gratuities are not included. This package is valid now through December 21, 2011, is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offers or packages
November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Looking to get inspired for your next getaway? The savvy editors at Fodor's have just released their first-ever list of the world's best hotels. After careful deliberation, the team of Fodor's editors and writers curated the "Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011" spanning eight hotel categories. Here's a sampling of some of our favorites that made the cut.
Fairmont has declared November 12, 2011 an official "tea day"-- celebrating all things tea-- and being tea fans ourselves, we're thrilled about the "tea-rrific" events they have planned at hotels and resorts around the world. From tastings with a tea sommelier at The Fairmont Empress in Victoria to tours of a neighboring tea estate at Kenya's historic Fairmont The Norfolk, the festive events celebrate Fairmont's historic connection to the traditional afternoon ritual. Other fun, noteworthy celebrations: get discounts for wearing fancy hats at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise; imbibe signature "Tea-quila" cocktails at The Fairmont Dallas; try Swiss-style tea at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace featuring finger sandwiches made with local Gruyère cheese; partake in a multi-cultural tea celebration at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui. For the full run-down of activities, check out the official website. And if you're in need of a little Tea Etiquette, the experts at The Fairmont Empress have some top tips.
Pssst. You can also try some tea-infused cocktails from the hotel brand's top mixologists.
Image via Fairmont Hotels/ Everyone's an Original
The legendary address on Central Park is now part of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation that recognizes hotels for preserving and maintaining their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. The Plaza Hotel-- the fictional setting for Kay Thompson's Eloise character-- isn't just a NYC landmark; the storied hotel looms large in the imaginations of folks across the United States. It's the only hotel in New York City listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. After a $450 million, three-year renovation completed in 2008, The Plaza Hotel continues its tradition of luxury with a Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, one-of-a-kind suites, and high-profile restaurants.
November 7, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
To the disappointment of the Hollywood celebs and business tycoons who bunk down at The Gritti Palace while staying in Venice, the iconic luxury hotel has shuttered its palatial doors for a 15-month restoration. When it reopens in 2013, this Starwood Luxury Collection hotel is guaranteed to still have its magnificent historic features and design elements (original Rubelli Venetian textiles and unique furniture custom designed by Donghia and inspired by Venetian Rococo couches and pozzetti). But it will also flaunt up-to-the-minute technology and all the latest contemporary conveniences. The finest craftsmen have been enlisted for this meticulous renovation project. Located on the Grand Canal and housed inside a 16th century palazzo, The Gritti Palace is a fixture on Travel + Leisure magazine's "T+L 500" list of top-rated hotels around the globe.
For other accommodations options in Venice, check out our recommended hotels.
November 2, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Come hell or high water, the Angsana Laguna Phuket will be opening its doors on December 1, 2011. The new flagship for Angsana Hotels and Resorts, the property closed earlier this year for a multi-million dollar overhaul, and promises to dazzle after a dramatic makeover. The guest rooms and public spaces are stylish and contemporary in design, with traditional Thai touches (think steep arched roofs, waterways winding through the grounds, and vividly colored fabrics).
Nestled on Bang Tao Bay in the northwest of Phuket Island in Southern Thailand, Angsana Laguna Phuket is part of Laguna Phuket, Asia’s first integrated resort, which is comprised of five luxury hotels, six palm-fringed lagoons, 600 acres of parkland, three kilometers of pristine beach and a slew of recreational activities and dining options. We like the sound of the 323 metre free-form pool that meanders throughout the Angsana Laguna Phuket and the award-winning Angsana Spa. Did we mention the treehouse-inspired Kids Club? This resort is family friendly (and they even have a special kiddies pool called the toddler's "tub").
Hot rates: The resort is currently offering $199 introductory rates with breakfast included, and they'll throw in a resort credit of $98 when you stay in two nights or more. Stay a minimum of three nights, and you'll get a free 90-minute massage.
November 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Slated to open on January 19, 2012, the new St. Regis Bal Harbour promises to bring a new level of luxury to the affluent Florida enclave. Inside the oceanfront development (pictured), both residences and hotel rooms will be available for luxury-seeking sun-worshippers. Rising 27 storeys above the beach, the three all-glass towers will house-- to quote the press release-- "a sprawling Remède Spa, a world class dining experience at Jean-Georges' restaurant J&G Grill, exquisite interior design by Yabu Pushelberg, renowned contemporary art and the finest finishes with one-of-a-kind West African Movinque wood and Chinese God Flower Stone Marble from a private quarry commissioned exclusively for the resort." Guests can also expect the signature St. Regis butler service, and an impressive contemporary art collection showcased throughout the hotel. For some gorgeous pix, check out the photo library.
We've been waiting with bated breath to find out which talented designer would nab the prestigious Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. The luxury hotel group-- celebrated for iconic hotels in urban centers in Europe and the U.S.-- launched the Fashion Prize to honor the work of young designers- and it's gotten some serious buzz in the press. Just this past weekend, the prize was bestowed in The Rodeo Ballroom at The Beverly Hills Hotel after a runway presentation featuring models from cycle 18 of America's Next Top Model. (The event was filmed for an upcoming episode to be aired in spring 2012.) After much deliberation, the judges chose the collection by Anndra Neen as best representing “the spirit of individuality, luxury, style and craftsmanship" of The Dorchester Collection's hotels. Anndra Neen received $40,000 and will have the opportunity to display their work at the fabulous Hôtel Plaza Athénée (pictured) during Paris Fashion Week in 2012.
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.