April 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Destination: Orlando. Don your Mickey Mouse ears, grab your Orlando Magicard, and hit the parks. The amusement park hub of the world promises fun in the sun (along with stress in the lines pre-ride, and dizziness--and possible death-- apres nausea-inducing ride). And now Florida's Funland is getting bigger and badder than ever, with luxury hotels cropping up like the migraines at Epcot. The Hilton Orlando Convention Center is slated for 2009, with construction starting this year. With 18 storeys and 1,400 rooms, the hotel will be connected by a pedestrian sky bridge to the Convention Center's North Concourse. With a whopping 130,000 square feet of meeting space, the new Hilton is certainly "poised to take advantage of a booming Orlando convention market." Not to be outdone, InterContinental is plotting its largest hotel worldwide-- the InterContinental Resort and Residences Orlando-- within the $800 million luxury destination resort dubbed Palazzo del Lago. Comprised of luxury hotel and condo units, the waterfront Palazzo will also be an appendage of the Convention Center, competing with the Hilton for an on-time 2009 debut.
April 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We recently noted that Loews Hotels assumed management of the Washington, D.C. landmark-- The Madison Hotel. But what we didn't note is the hotel's Special Introductory Rate, to celebrate Loews return to the nation's capital during the springtime season of perfect temperatures and beautiful cherry blossoms. Check into Washington's traditional establishment (and check out Loews's signature style)-- for as low as $179 a night. Offer is valid for Friday and Saturday evenings through June 24, 2006.
After three years of construction and $350 million spent on resort redevelopment, Georgia's exclusive Sea Island hot spot is ready to dazzle. The elegant 1928 hotel-- regularly hosting royalty and international dignitaries through the 20th century-- was ready for some work, and the new Mediterranean style main building (with the meticulous restoration of the legendary Spanish Lounge) is absolutely stunning. Guests are already shelling out the dough for coveted guest rooms, the summer season promising to be booked solid. And who can blame them? The epitome of Old World elegance, these rooms feature wood beamed ceilings, 500-thread count Italian sheets, Turkish stone baths, Bulgari White Tea toiletries, antiques and original art, and are draped in custom-designed hand-loomed Turkish rugs. Of course, there's also the appeal of the attentive private butler service and impeccable Southern hospitality. Additional developments are in store for this award-winning resort: the construction of a new Spa at Sea Island is slated to open in October, and the Beach Club is expected in Summer 2007.
The Cloister at Sea Island, Five Star Alliance
Truly the first of its kind, Shangri-La's newest venture in the Middle East is three-hotels-in-one, and it single-handedly ups Oman's luxury hotel rooms by 60 percent. Set within 124 acres of landscaped gardens, overlooking the mountains and gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Oman, the Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is just 20 minutes from downtown Muscat. The destination resort is comprised of three hotels (Al Waha, Al Bandar, and Al Husn), 19 restaurants and bars, three private beaches, 6,000 sq meters of swimming pools, and a CHI spa. And don't fret; this oasis hideaway isn't without its own nightclub. With the third hotel (Al Husn) now opened, the resort counts 680 sea-facing rooms with private balconies, terraces or patios. The separate Chi Spa Village will be fully operational in May, consisting of private villas for rejuvenating treatments, three freshwater swimming pools, 19 (count 'em!) food and beverage outlets, meeting rooms and an open-air amphitheater. Did I mention the Oman Dive Center, Kids Club, Dolphin and Whale-watching trips, and marina? O- Man!
Take your pick between Ritz-Carlton's two, sun-kissed Naples hotels and get fantastic discounts this summer. From your guestroom balcony in the AAA Five Diamond Award Golf Resort, gaze out over the rolling green of the 36-hole Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Course. Or if golf isn't your thing-- take a room with a Gulf View at the elegant Ritz-Carlton Hotel Naples, a grand seaside resort with exceptional amenities including spa, pool, and gorgeous beach with watersports. Between June 1 and September 30, the "Summer Sand and Sun" package starts at a mere $159 per night at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort and $199 at Ritz-Carlton Naples. Additionally, they're giving out resort credits left and right: stay for three nights and get a $100 resort credit (for dining, spa treatments, resort apparel in the gift shop, go wild!), five night stays score $200 credits and when you stay a full week: $300.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples, Five Star Alliance
Ritz-Carlton Naples, Five Star Alliance
Storytelling teas, Easter baskets, premium chocolate candies, Easter Egg Hunt and Roll, and an epic Easter Brunch. The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is positively hopping with merriment this weekend. Of all these festivities, here's a taste of what's in store: On both Friday and Saturday, at 3 pm, children will be delighted with a magical storytelling tea where "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" is brought to life with decorations and delicious delights ($40 per person). The classic Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Sunday morning at 10 am on the 8th floor landing, hosted by the Easter Bunny, and his assistant Chickie. The Egg Roll takes place at the same time in the State Room. While the kids are having the time of their lives, their parents can indulge in chocolate-tasting at ethel's chocolate lounge in the hotel lobby. And even learn the art of premium fondue. The best part of the weekend? The traditional Easter Brunch at Seasons Restaurant, where the award-winning chef and staff devise over 100 specialty brunch items to dazzle the palate. At the six different stations, enjoy dishes like Leg of Spring Lamb with Mint Pesto, Tomato Crusted Filet of Halibut or a Salad of Chilled Green and White Asparagus with Aigrellette Sauce. Seatings begin at 11:00 am and reservations are $85.00 per adult and $20.00 per child 12 and under. Take advantage of the special Easter Weekend rate, with your prepaid purchase of Easter Brunch or the Storytelling Tea. Rates begin at $305 per night, and include lovely children's Easter baskets, stuffed to the brim with goodies.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Official Site
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Five Star Alliance
April 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
While visiting family and friends in Nashville, head to the city's treasured landmark, the Hermitage Hotel, for its famous Easter Brunch set in the historic lobby. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the luxurious Hermitage has racked up numerous awards, including AAA Five Diamond status and Robb Report's Best of the Best. Take advantage of the Easter Brunch package, starting at $279, and relax in splendor in a richly-furnished guest room, with its sumptuous fine thread count fabrics and all marble bathrooms.
In addition, the hotel is offering a Mother's Day Brunch Package that is sure to delight the most discriminating of guests. Brunch for two in the historic lobby features selections from the Capitol Grille. During mother's overnight stay, she will be spoiled with the hotel's Contemporary Bath Service, prepared by the Bath Concierge, with oversized plush towels, a bottle of fresh spring water, seasonal fruit, candles, rose petals, slippers, a luxurious robe, and a selection of aromatic bath salts and bath gels. Rates start at $349.
The Hermitage, Official Site
The Hermitage, Five Star Alliance
For those in the know, this boutique hotel occupies the 28th-42nd floors of the landmark Waldorf-Astoria, just steps from Park Avenue in Midtown. It's a luxurious space with a comfortable residential ambience, with excellent personalized service and amenities for the business traveler. This spot is all about convenience: with a superb location and access to the Astoria Lounge, full-service business center and Plus One Fitness Center. The Waldorf Towers is now offering VIP access to MoMA, so that you can skip the lines and get admission to the museum at any time. The MoMA VIP Ticket package starts at $419 per night, and includes accommodations, two VIP tickets (children under 16 are free), and discount vouchers for the Midtown bistro Brasserie. Valid until Dec. 31, 2006.
Could Atlantis get any more mammoth? The kitschy celebration of the Lost Continent of Atlantis has these stats: 2,300 guest accommodations (the Royal Towers, Coral Towers and Beach Tower), 35 restaurants, a goliath casino, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and a marina that can hold the biggest and baddest of the private luxury yachts. Not to mention the 11 million gallons of swimming pools with water slides and cascades, and marine exhibits with a whopping 50,000 live animals. Kids go gaga over the replica Atocha (the Spanish galleon with oodles of sunken treasure that a Florida treasure-seeker uncovered) at the Kids Club, and apparently guests consume over 1 ton of lobster tails per week. Just what doesn't this resort have? Enough space (!), of course. Atlantis continues to undergo a massive development, which will include the Residences at Atlantis, an exclusive condominium-hotel for lucky owners to enjoy the casino and water activities galore, all year round. Additional features of the $1 billion development project include 1,450 rooms by next spring (including a luxury all-suite hotel), an expansion to the water park, a new dolphin facility, 100,000 sq ft of additional meeting facilities, and the new Nobu restaurant from world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
April 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Next to the green urban oasis of Hyde Park in the heart of Sydney, Sheraton on the Park is considered one of the city's best luxury hotels, awarded to both the Conde Nast Traveler and Luxury Travel Mag's Gold Lists for 2006. The 557 luxurious rooms were completely revamped in 2003 with sumptuous contemporary furnishings. And the hotel is Sydney's largest conference hotel, with meeting and function rooms available to seat up to 900. But the best part of the place is the top-caliber recreational choices: the Executive Club Lounge offers a stunning rooftop pool, health club and spa with sweeping city views. For a limited time, Sheraton on the Park is offering three night Easter specials starting at $233 per night. (The Easter Package is priced at $299 for a single night stay, $499 for two nights, and $699 for three nights--which averages to $233 a night.) Daily buffet breakfast for two and valet parking are also included.
Sheraton on the Park, Official Site
Sheraton on the Park, Five Star Alliance