Check out these truly superb Top 10 lists-- best restaurants, walking tours, highlights, hotels-- from The Financial Times and Eyewitness Travel Guides. Their teaser: "Prepare to experience one of the most dramatic urban environments ever conceived."
The big daddy of prime Florida real estate… The Breakers is as mammoth in legend as is its luxury experience. The Italian Renaissance style hotel consists of 560 oceanfront rooms, on 140 acres smack in the middle of a private beach. Founded in 1896 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Breakers has got it all. Beach club, oceanfront spa, 36 holes of championship golf, 10 tennis courts, kids' programs, four oceanside pools, excellent restaurants. The icing on the cake? Truly superlative service.
PS A $15 million makeover has utterly transformed the beachfront, including ultra-lux bungalows available for daytime rental.
The Breakers, Official Site
The Breakers, Five Star Alliance
2006 marks Wolfgang's 250th birthday, and Austria is celebrating in style with an extensive calendar of events. The musical genius will be honored with new museums, operatic performances, extraordinary concert series, festivals and galas, expos and special exhibitions, all across the country. In Vienna--for example-- Mozart's big day will be marked by an open party for the whole city on January 27-29. He will be celebrated all over the city with music, films and readings on a variety of themes-- arranged in to five different tours (Mozart. Friends and Enemies; Mozart. Viennese and Cosmopolitan; Mozart. Art and Love; Mozart. Life and Death; and Mozart. Yesterday and Today). On each tour, visitors experience four different events and a special children's program. My favorite event? The Vienna Boys' Choir will give a concert in St. Stephen's Cathedral on January 27, featuring Mozart's most beautiful works of sacred music.
Check into the Conrad Brussels-- the largest, most sophisticated bedrooms in Brussels!—and get a voucher to return for free for more pampering! With exemplary butler service, heaps of meeting space and amenities for the business traveler, and sumptuous culinary delights at Loui restaurant and Cafe Wiltcher's, what more could you ask for? Until March 31 2006, book yourself a suite (from just EUR 339 per night) and receive a voucher for a complimentary weekend stay. The voucher is valid until 31 December 2006, and is not redeemable for cash.
The Conrad Brussels, Official Site
The Conrad Brussels, Five Star Alliance
Bask in San Diego's perfect year-round climate at this AAA five diamond winner that sits near the 18th green of the legendary championship course. The details? Rooms with custom-designed furniture and high-tech details, overlooking the Pacific. The signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien, with award-winning Chef who hails from Shutters on the Beach. A 9,500 square foot spa, with 14 specialized treatment rooms, that's all about the ocean: signature treatments themed around the seacoast, and a spa menu that uses coastal, botanical and marine based extracts. Miles of trails in the Torrey Pines reserve with unspoiled lagoons and beaches.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Official Site
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Five Star Alliance
Holiday getaways can't get more perfect than the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport. Its restaurant, at the top of all the "Best Of" lists (AAA Five Diamond, Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Conde Nast Traveler's Best of the Best.) Built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's, with rustic decor and an awesome 7,000 bottle wine cellar, the restaurant serves the finest New England cuisine. The adjoining Inn, ranked among the top 25 small hotels in North America, has 25 rooms with fireplace (how atmospheric can you get!), flat-screen TVs with DVD, and all that jazz. Plus, the inn's got a heated swimming pool, so even if a blizzard is a-raging, you can enjoy poolside massage therapy and spa treatments. Spend your holidays at the White Barn Inn, with the following special packages. The Christmas Retreat includes: two nights luxurious stay, Christmas Eve reception, turn down treat on arrival (and present in room), full Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch in White Barn restaurant, and traditional afternoon tea. From $409 per person. The New Years Eve Gala Celebration includes two nights stay, special tea on arrival, wine in room, Gala dinner dance with four-course meal and champagne, full continental breakfast. From $677 per person.
The White Barn Inn, Official Site
The White Barn Inn, Five Star Alliance
This Christmas, stroll through the winter wonderland of Versailles, without the maddening crowds. From December 17-December 29, enjoy unbelievable specials at the Trianon Palace and Spa, as the rates drop to a very festive EUR 99 a night. Or bring the whole family with the Christmas Family Package—which includes accommodations in a Deluxe Palace room, complimentary room and free breakfast for the kiddies, and Westin Kid's Bag upon check-in, for only EUR 295 a night. Just nine miles from downtown Paris, the Trianon is a luxurious palace set on eight gorgeous acres bordering Louis XIV's Royal Domain. The historical hotel has hosted the world's political and business leaders since 1910. Recently-renovated rooms feature stately decor (as you would expect) and views of the gardens. The 2,800 sq m Spa isn't too shabby either.
Trianon Palace and Spa, Official Site
Trianon Palace and Spa, Five Star Alliance
Attempting the impossible task of booking a luxury hotel in the Caribbean for the holidays? Most luxury hotels have been booked solid for months. But don't be discouraged in your quest for a well-deserved (albeit last-minute) Caribbean respite! I've found a few delightful gems that still have availability:
Casa Colonial in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: Long stretches of white sand beaches. Elegantly furnished all-suites hotel. World-class spa. Conde Nast Traveler's 2005 Hot List. Impeccable service. Enough said.
Casa Colonial, Official Site
Casa Colonial, Five Star Alliance
Anse Chastanet Resort, in the lush mountain paradise of St. Lucia. With 600 acres of tropical foliage, the soaring peaks of Petit Pitons, and extraordinary beaches, this is paradise on earth. Romantic and secluded. Scuba, spa, waters sports and mountain biking.
Anse Chastanet, Official Site
Anse Chastanet, Five Star Alliance
Petit St. Vincent Resort is available for the Christmas week, though not the post-Christmas week. Individual cottages set on a 113 acre privately-owned island of exquisite white sand beaches.
Petit St. Vincent, Official Site
Petit St. Vincent, Five Star Alliance
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Official Site
Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance
After all, the guy turns 400 next year. And the country is going nuts in celebration. Rembrandt 400 is a yearlong party for the artist's 400th birthday. Unique exhibitions and events are scheduled, and travel agents are jumping on the bandwagon with special packages galore. The first of the spectacular exhibitions-- Rembrandt's Mother, Myth and Reality-- opens on December 16 in the Municipal Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden (the artist’s birthplace). In Amsterdam, The Masterpieces opens on January 2, exhibiting 400 exceptional paintings. Why not stake out a room at The Dylan Amsterdam, situated in a 17th century landmark on one of the city's most famous canals? Smack in the city center, but the essence of tranquil.
The Dylan Amsterdam, Official Site
The Dylan Amsterdam, Five Star Alliance
November 25, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Starwood just announced that it acquired the Le Meridien brand of 130 hotels and resorts for $225 million. For the 24 million Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) customers, this means more choice in markets like Paris, Nice, Dubai and London. Additionally, Starwood will gain properties where it doesn't have them currently, in spots like Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Budapest, the Seychelles and Mauritius.