March 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
So close to Puerto Vallarta (42 kilometers), and yet so isolated in a pristine, tropical paradise. Surrounded by long stretches of white-sand beaches and the turquoise Pacific, Four Seasons Punta Mita offers an unrivaled vacation destination, with luxurious spa and Jack Nicklaus golf. But perhaps the coolest thing about the Punta Mita is the new five-bedroom beachfront Arena Suite, a breathtaking beachfront villa perfect for a family reunion or gathering of friends. The $2.8 million retreat is 13,000 sq feet, with complete privacy, butler service, and magnificent sunset views and whale-watching from a hacienda patio. Amenities include flat screen televisions, high speed internet access, and full marble bathrooms each with a deep soaking tub, separate glass-enclosed shower, and double vanity. Reservations for this suite also includes a daily poolside cabana in the new, adult-oriented Tamai pool complex, complete with 42" plasma tv, DVD, iPod, Bose Wave sound and wifi.
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Official Site
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Five Star Alliance
March 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The moment we've all been waiting for. The glorious Sunny Isles beach resort we've been raving about for months, is officially accepting ressies for April 28th arrivals. The setting couldn't be more perfect: 400 feet of gorgeous Florida coastline halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. This luxurious haven features 97 suites, all with private terraces, the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. We've been excitedly anticipating this one for months. Enjoy.
Acqualina, Official Site
Acqualina, Five Star Alliance
March 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The globe's biggest tele-marking festival is a rip-roaring good time, a week packed full of races, treks through the Alps, a film festival, equipment expos, open-air barbecue, and lots of grub and wine. So toss those bindings and jet to Italy! Formerly known as La Skieda, the festival runs from April 1-8. $170 gets you lift tickets and entrance to all events.
To many, the Hotel Jerome is the symbol of Aspen. Opened in 1889 at the height of Colorado's silver boom, the grand Victorian hotel is now a National Register Landmark. Just minutes from downtown Aspen and surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, the Jerome is magnificent. The gorgeous rooms, the essence of comfortable elegance and sophistication. Each luxurious guest room is individually decorated, equipped with fully stocked mini-bar, luxurious terry bathrobes, DVD, double line telephones, fax lines, high-speed internet access, and oversized tubs with separate shower. Other perfect amenities include the year-round heated pool and two Jacuzzis, exquisite dining, and all sorts of kid-friendly activities.
From April 9- May 24, take advantage of the "Spring in Aspen" package, for an unbelievable $265 for Deluxe King accommodations. In addition, the "Ski Deal" package is available through April 16. The package offers excellent value, combining luxurious hotel accommodations and two lift tickets daily. From April 2 to 16, package rates start at $320 a night, double occupancy, during the week; or $370 on weekends. During Feb and March, that same package is at least $695 a night.
Hotel Jerome, Official Site
Hotel Jerome, Five Star Alliance
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.
Palma de Mallorca-based Barcelo Hotels and Resorts recently acquired the five-star Karmina Palace Hotel along Mexico's Pacific Coast near Manzanillo. The 324 all-suite, all-inclusive resort has long been known as a world-class, premium destination, and the new Barcelo management will surely only enhance that reputation. (Barcelo operates 10 luxury properties throughout Mexico.) This baby-- for which they shelled out $48.2 million-- is rated AAA Four Diamond and offers an 18-hole golf course, swanky accommodations, three restaurants and four bars, eight swimming pools with waterfalls, children's club, fitness center and spa, and a theater. The Barcelo Karmina Palace Hotel is uber-family-friendly, and superior service is not abandoned with the convenience of the all-inclusive plan.
Here in Washington we're already going gaga over the annual flowering of the Cherry Blossoms. The festival doesn't get rocking until next weekend, but the flowers are a-blooming and travelers are enjoying the best time of year to visit the nation's capital. Below I've compiled some articles for your perusal and pleasure:
National Cherry Blossom Festival, Official Website
The Washington Post, "2006 Cherry Blossom Guide"
Fodor's Travel Wire, "Think Pink: Spring Cherry Blossom Festivals"
Fodor’s Travel Wire, "Essential Washington, D.C."
The Informed Traveler, "Luxurious DC Cherry Blossom Package at The Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington"
Holy week in Seville takes place in the eight days between Palm Sunday and Easter (April 9-16 this year): an incredible celebration and melancholy observance at the same time. The cloaked Cofradias (Brotherhoods)-- their eyes and faces hidden by huge conical hats-- process through the city's narrow, winding streets. Some barefoot, burdened with crosses, or huge fantastic floats of the Virgin Mary or Jesus, kneeling in penitence as they circle from their church to the Cathedral of Seville and back-- passing mobs of citizen revelers and eager onlookers. The streets are absolutely packed with extended families (from infants to grandmothers) who gather to watch the processions of 57 brotherhoods carry 116 marvelous floats through the streets. To witness this religious ritual is a once-in-a-lifetime must. Where to stay in the exquisite historical city of Seville? The Hotel Alfonso XIII, of course! Built in 1929, the posh royal palace was inaugurated by the King for which it was named. A fixture on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, the hotel is the essence of opulence. (Hurry, rooms are still available! My pick are the Moorish-themed rooms, with their tasteful and elegant furnishings.)
Hotel Alfonso XIII, Official Site
Hotel Alfonso XIII, Five Star Alliance
Disney descended on Hong Kong last September, and-- in the ultimate symbol of China's newly (and increasingly) ravenous consumer hunger-- is now planning a park on the Chinese mainland as well. Indeed, Hong Kong Disneyland was so mobbed during the Lunar New Year that hordes were denied entrance to the park. As quoted by CNN:
"China has a very large population. We now have 1.3 billion people. The market is very large. As far as I know, Hong Kong Disneyland is now very crowded," said Shao Qiwei, director of China's State Administration of Tourism, whose comments were broadcast on Hong Kong's Cable TV.
The first new hotel to open in Monaco in 75 years, the $260 million Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel has reinvented Monte Carlo, bringing back the chic and legendary glamour of the Roaring Twenties on the Riviera. Set on the edge of the sea, with sweeping azure views, the hotel is elegantly situated within four hectares of Mediterranean gardens and lagoons. Just minutes from Nice. Lounge by the glass-domed indoor swimming pool, or relax in the adjoining spa, a contemporary and luxurious paradise complete with 12 treatment rooms, fitness center and Turkish baths. In the evening, watch the sunset from the sea-view bar, and then indulge in the gastronomic pleasures of four stellar restaurants, including one directed by celebrity chef Alain Ducasse. And the nightlife—as expected—is exceptional.
Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel, Official Site
Monte Carlo Bay Resort and Hotel, Five Star Alliance