LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
January 8, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Fringed by the tall, snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees, the French village of Cauterets is a picturesque resort destination, famed for its seasonal recreational activities. In the winter, Cauterets is almost always shrouded in a thick blanket of snow, and entices skiers and snowboarders of all levels to hit the slopes carved from the surrounding mountains. This year's scant snowfall has compelled most French ski resorts in the Pyrenees to close-- with the exception of Cauterets, of course. The town's proximity to some of the best hiking trails in France (the National Park of the Pyrenees straddles the Franco-Spanish border and boasts a wealth of natural beauty) ensures plenty of summertime visitors as well. After a day on the slopes, relax fatigued muscles in Les Thermes, the Roman style bath complex fed by hot springs. (The naturally-warm water may reek of rotten eggs, but the jet pools and showers are divine.) Sip an aperitif at one of many cozy bars or hit the casino, located near the river which flows through the town. At the small covered market, foodies drool over perfect wedges of local cheese, homemade blueberry torte, and seasoned charcuterie. Note: most shops are only open in the morning and evening hours.
January 5, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Come April 1, 2007, The Greenbrier will debut a sassy new makeover. For over two centuries this distinguished resort-- a National Historic Landmark-- has charmed discerning travelers with its stately architecture, scenic beauty, abundant recreational activities (50! including a world-class spa and golf), and impeccable service. But this symbol of ultra-luxury lost its Mobil five star rating in 2000 after 38 consecutive years ranked as one of the top resorts in North America. With this exciting $50 million renovation, The Greenbrier seeks to regain its superstar status. For the first time since World War II, The Greenbrier is closing from January 3 until April 1, 2007 to complete the makeover, which includes new restaurants and nightlife, and luscious, new beds and linens and flat-screen TVs for all 721 guest rooms. Hemisphere will debut in the former Old White Lounge area, featuring exciting global cuisine from Chef Michael Voltaggio. 38°80 will be The Greenbrier's new entertainment venue in what was formerly The Tavern Room, with handcrafted flights and world lounge music that will evolve as the evening progresses-- a sultry, sexy ambience. In addition, the full renovation of 63 guest rooms will add new marble bathrooms with soaking tubs and walk-in showers and executive-style desks. Be the first to discover the new Greenbrier in Spring 2007; reservations are now being accepted.
Say hello to the newest and most innovative luxury hotel in the nation's capital. Following a $24 million renovation, Park Hyatt Washington opened its doors in Summer 2006 to much fanfare and celebration. This exclusive hotel is located just a few blocks from Georgetown and minutes from Embassy Row, National Monuments, and the Smithsonian. Renowned designer Tony Chi was the mastermind behind the makeover, which showcases a Tea Cellar (offering rare and vintage selections), spa-inspired bathrooms (gray limestone rain showers and deep soaking tubs), and a signature fragrance designed for the hotel by artisan perfumer Blaise Mautin. Dynamic and modern, the hotel's design pays homage to the city itself: the hotel entrance celebrates DC's famous cherry blossoms with impressive glass sculptures. The 215 guest rooms are contemporary and stylish; the Park Deluxe rooms are the largest in the city. And each room also highlights Classic American Heritage, with antique gameboards, a selection of books about American history and crafts, Windsor style chairs, and Modern American artwork. The hotel's new restaurant, the Blue Duck Tavern, features an open kitchen with a wood burning oven, welcoming patrons with a warm, friendly ambience. The menu focuses on simple and traditional cooking methods with the freshest ingredients: slow-roasting in wood embers, braising, preserving and smoking techniques brings the true flavors of America's great and simple foods to the table.
This winter, experience the city at its most pleasant, when it's blissfully empty of tourist crowds, and as described by the New York Times, "when the locals come out to play." With the Comfort and Joy Winter Package at the Park Hyatt, take pleasure in the warmth of a cozy night: savor a rare tea from the Tea Cellar, soak in a steaming tub, relax in your lavishly appointed guest room, and if you must go out in the cold, the heated seats of a brand new custom designed Audi A8 L can transport you to your favorite shopping or sightseeing destination. The package includes a complimentary upgrade to Park Deluxe room, a pot of tea from Park Hyatt Washington's unique Tea Cellar, your choice of Valet Parking for the length of stay OR full American breakfast for two each morning, welcome amenity for children, or complimentary custom designed Audi A8 L to transport you to your favorite shopping or sightseeing destination within Washington. Available until February 28, 2007.
And then there were three. The media went wild when Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas set sail: the 208 ft, 160,000 ton mega ship with a capacity for 4,000 passengers. The world's largest passenger ship featured all sorts of never-before-seen facilities like rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing simulator pool called "Flow Rider." Royal Caribbean's second Freedom-class ship, called Liberty of the Seas, will debut in May 2008. It will depart Miami on Saturdays for seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. (Ports of call include San Juan, St. Maarten, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.) And the cruise line recently announced that there is a third ship under construction in Finland, which will be dubbed Independence of the Seas. The sister ships will all share the same signature amenities, including the 1,215 sq ft Presidential Family Suite which sleeps up to 14.
December 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The DR has got it all: sun-soaked sandy beaches, excellent recreational activities, and oodles of outstanding resorts. Case in point: Paradisus Palma Real-- an all-inclusive, all-suite luxury resort with spectacular ocean views just minutes from the hot spot of Punta Cana. 554 suites feature private terraces, mahogany furniture, flat screen TV, DVD and CD player, and complimentary high speed Internet access. Six restaurants offer a culinary tour of delicious cuisine from around the world (from Mediterranean to Chinese). There are three outdoor pools set in magnificent tropical gardens, tennis courts, a full fitness program at the gym, the ultimate in spa treatments, the Cocotal Golf and Country Club, and a slew of water sports. What more could you ask for? (Did I mention there's unlimited Premium brand drinks at your choice of six bars?)
December 12, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Looking for a last minute getaway trip for the holidays? At this point, just about all of the hotels and resorts in the Caribbean are sold out for the holidays. Any luxury hotels or resorts that do still have availablity, such as the Jamaica Inn, require longer minumum stays (Jamaica Inn has a 10 night min.) There are a few luxury hotels and resorts in Mexico City and South America where you can still find availability.
But don't worry - luxury villas are still available for a last minute holiday getaway in the Caribbean. Luxury caribbean villas are the perfect solution for a last minute luxury getaway with the whole family or with friends.
Grand Cayman: 4 Bedroom beach villa with private boat dock and cabana
Virgin Gorda, BVI: New 3 Bedroom villa with tennis, just steps from the beach
Tortola, BVI: 1 Bedroom beachfront villa on private island off Tortola
Mustique: 9 Bedroom Japanese style villa with pitch & putt
Provo, Turks & Caicos: 5 Bedroom Palace Resort with boat
See all of our Luxury Villas in the Carribean for Christmas and New Years
Not planning on traveling to the Caribbean? Check out what last minute packages are still available in other parts of the world:
Luxury Hotels & Resorts in Miami, FL
The 12 Best Ski Resorts Worldwide
Los Angeles Area Luxury Hotels
Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in Paris
December 11, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
During the holiday season, keep your kitchen clean by dining at the Conrad Chicago instead. The Conrad Hotel is located at the heart of Chicago's financial district on Michigan Avenue, also known as "the Magnificent Mile", connected to Nordstrom and Westfield North Bridge shopping centers. Make your reservations for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch, or New Years Eve dinner now to avoid being turned away. Plus, if you make overnight room reservations with Five Star Alliance at the Conrad, you'll also get a welcome amenity, continental breakfast for two (2) daily, and a possible upgrade upon check-in based upon availability.Christmas Eve (December 24, 2006) 3 Course prix-fixes Menu $55 Adult + Wine pairing additional $24Christmas Brunch (December 25, 2006) Hours: 11:30a-3:00p $65.00 Adult / $25.00 under 12New Years Eve Dinner (December 31, 2006) 7 Course dinner Hours: 7:00p-12:00a $90 per adult, optional wine pairings $56
December 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
During the month of December, New Orleans is the place to be. More than 100 festivities are planned during the month-long event of Christmas New Orleans Style, a celebration of uniquely Cajun holiday activities in a city that is steeped in traditions of the past. The events kicked off with the December 2 tree lighting ceremony at the French Market on Decatur Street, and continued with La Fête de Noël, a Christmas Market at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on December 3. Throughout the month, enjoy caroling, river cruises, candlelight tours through the historic houses of the French Quarter (decorated for the season), and Reveillon, a Creole dining tradition adapted by participating restaurants with holiday prix-fixe menus. Don't miss the Chef's Holiday Cooking Demonstrations, on December 7, 14, and 21, at The Shops at Canal Place. Acclaimed local chefs share their culinary secrets and favorite recipes (and an abundance of yummy samples are yours for the taking). Demos start at 3 pm and last 45 minutes.
Slated to open on December 9, 2006, Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort is a 25-acre resort surrounded by natural beauty, where the desert meets the mountains, only 17 miles from the Vegas strip. Escape to the Moroccan style Spa, featuring nine treatment rooms and full-service beauty salon and soothe your soul with massages, skin therapies, manicures and pedicures. Enjoy the two signature pools, swimming lagoon, and cabanas. Play a round on two challenging golf courses, including the 18-hole Reflection Bay Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus signature design championship golf course complete with instructional programs managed by Jim Flick Golf. Savor exquisite dining, and experience exhilarating water sports on Lake Las Vegas-- kayaks, pedal boats, canoes and electric boats-- or cruise Lake Mead. Take advantage of a special introductory offer, from $179 per night, valid for the month of December 2006. (Rates from $199 per night available in January 2007.)
Now is the time to visit the fabled Mediterranean coast of France. The sun is shining but the crowds have dissipated on the Cote d'Azur. And legendary luxury hotels like the Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice are offering excellent holiday packages, to help spur the decision to ditch the usual harried holiday season at home (caroling and shopping overkill) and take the fam on a delightful winter escape. The most fashionable palace in Nice, situated on the Promenade Des Anglais, offers the ultimate Riviera experience with its Art Deco ambience, award-winning Le Padouk restaurant, panoramic poolside terrace, and splendid accommodations. Recently rated among the "Top 75 European Hotels" in Conde Nast Traveler magazine's Reader's Choice Awards 2006, the Palais de la Mediterranee has devised two great value offers for a joyous Christmas and New Year's. The Magical Christmas Package starts at an unbelievable EUR 285 per night, and includes accommodations in a superior city view room, daily breakfast buffet, welcome gift, Christmas lunch or dinner at Restaurant Le Padouk on December 25, complimentary extra bed and breakfast for one child under 12 and unlimited access to the indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, sauna and steam room. Valid from December 22-26, 2006. Two night minimum stay. Sea view room is available for an additional EUR 25 per night. Likewise, the Cabaret Show Time New Year's Package is an excellent value, starting from EUR 425 per night. The package includes accommodations in a superior city view room, daily breakfast buffet, a VIP welcome, New Year's Eve gourmet dinner with beverages such as Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée 730, a French cabaret show and after dinner dancing, unlimited access to the indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, sauna and steam room. Valid from December 28, 2006 to January 2, 2007. Minimum two night stay required.