February 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The biggest, baddest party of the year (leaps and bounds better than Mardi Gras) has been announced, and this is the year to go. Proudly emerging from reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina, NOLA is as enticing as ever, though there's still a long way to go. And tourism's the ticket to get there. Following its historic tradition, 2006 Jazz Fest promises to be an awesome show, with Fats Domino already signed on to the line-up of legendary musicians. In fact, organizers have announced the show will take place over two weekends, April 28-30 and May 5-7. Advance tickets are $30 per day, and if you act fast, there might still be room at the stunning Windsor Court, consistently awarded as one of the world's finest hotels.
Windsor Court Hotel, Official Site
Windsor Court Hotel, Five Star Alliance
February 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Brokeback Mountain was filmed in Canada? (Ang Lee pulled a fast one on us with this Hollywood cost-cutting maneuver.) This fact doesn't seem to deter the hundreds of callers who have contacted the Wyoming tourism office, who want a little piece of that scenery. The phones are ringing off the hook and callers don't seem to give a hoot when they learn the truthful location for the set. The mountains and rugged wilderness of the "cowboy state" are just too tempting. Do you too want a piece of that scenery? The elegantly rustic cabins of the Jenny Lake Lodge, set beneath the glorious Teton range, are a good bet; satisfy your inner cowboy with trail rides, flyfishing and hiking around the Old Western style ranch. Of course you could always take it up a notch at Jackson Hole's Rusty Parrot, which is one of the country's great luxury stand-outs.
January 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The best part of winter (besides hitting the slopes or lounges in Aspen, Jackson Hole or Zermatt, of course) are the special offers wheeled and dealed by luxury hotels in order to fight the vacancies of their shoulder seasons. Nothing like a free night at one of the best hotels in Europe to entice a winter-weary traveler for a luxurious long weekend. At the Hotel Majestic, guests are pampered in a destination hotel that is smack in the middle of all that's cool in Barcelona: Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, Gaudi's strange and marvelous architecture. The rule may even apply to the most glorious and fashionable penthouse in the city, with its whopping 3,230 sq ft of space. From now until the end of February, take advantage of the 3x2 Offer, where guests are awarded with a free night after paying for two. And the weather map in the International Herald Tribune this morning seems to suggest that guests could even marvel at the panoramic city-view from the rooftop pool and solarium right about now (Spain is blessed with some remarkably mild winter temps.)
Hotel Majestic, Official Site
Hotel Majestic, Five Star Alliance
January 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
You've got to be kidding me. But as CNN reports, HK is no longer just about glitzy skyscrapers, designer shopping and gourmet eats. Throw ecotourism in the mix; the city is one of the best spots to see Indo Pacific humpback dolphins, which just happen to be totally, completely bubblegum-pink. Sign up with tour operator Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, who normally spots these uncanny creatures 97 percent of the time on tours in the South China Sea.
Located on the Big Island's Kohala coast, the AAA five-diamond resort is surrounded by a lush volcanic landscape chock full of waterfalls, rainforests, active lava flows and even snow-capped mountains. And Mauna Lani is a destination even among these wonders, recognized worldwide (almost suffocating with accolades) for its 25,000 sq ft spa, top tennis facilities at the Sport and Fitness Club, and white sand beach, where lucky guests can witness the whale migration just offshore. Escape this winter to an ocean view room or private bungalow, and get a fifth night free! In addition, the hotel is offering a $100-$200 per room per night resort credit (depending on room type) for stays March 1-May 30. But hurry! You must book the "Springtime Early Bird Special" by the end of Jan.
Mauna Lani, Official Site
Mauna Lani, Five Star Alliance
27 holes of championship golf in the sultry desert heat at The Phoenician. Nine gorgeous pools overlooking Camelback mountain and the red rock desert landscape. A phenomenal spa. And the city's dazzling culinary display and rockin nightlife. Now couldn't be a better time to visit Scottsdale. If those aren't reasons enough: the legendary destination resort recently completed a $20 million makeover. Guestrooms and casitas are all newly furnished (bed linens, wall hangings, artwork all in earthy desert tones), with divine new beds, and loads of new technology and upgraded bathroom fixures (lighting, floor-to-ceiling Italian marble, oversized tubs.) Of course the lobby, lounges, restaurants and public areas weren't overlooked, and the Spa and Fitness Facility was injected with a healthy $250,000 of new stairmasters, ellipticals, Life Fitness strength training machines and 15" individual televisions in all cardio equipment. The best part of the makeover? The Oasis swimming pool complex with new poolside cabanas, all new surfacing and decking, teak outdoor furniture, and underwater sound.
Via Travel and Leisure February issue
The Phoenician, Official Site
The Phoenician, Five Star Alliance
Rumor has it that Acqualina-- the exquisite new boutique resort from Rosewood-- will open its doors for guests in February. Located in Sunny Isles, Florida, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Acqualina is billed as a European architectural masterpiece (everybody's talkin!). Indeed, the resort's got it all: two-storey oceanfront spa, private beach club, superb dining, poolside cabanas and three gorgeous pools to choose from-- depending on your mood (will that be the infinity pool or tranquility?) The long-awaited debut was originally scheduled for November 2005, so I'm not holding my breath for an ontime opening.
Acqualina, Official Site
Acqualina, Five Star Alliance
The award-winning hotel is back and (almost) ready for action. After Hurricane Wilma took out most of Cancun's hotels and sweeping white sand beaches, construction and renovation has been nonstop, and this gem is set to open on May 1. Luxurious oceanfront suites with balconies, an elegant spa, rooftop tennis, and plenty of golf nearby... located smack in the middle of Cancun's Hot Hotel Zone. Welcome back.
Racing, ski jumping, chariot racing, snowboarding jam session, ski jöring events down Lincoln Avenue: the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival takes over the entire town come February. And it's a spectacle you won't want to miss. After all, it's been around for 93 years (that's the oldest Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi!) and is sponsored by the oldest winter sports club in the US of A! And of course there's the much-anticipated nighttime event, featuring the legendary "Lighted Man" (one of the famous exhibitionists, clad in a glowing suit of lightbulbs, launches fireworks as he skis down the mountain). Intrigued? Get yourself to Steamboat Feb 8-12!
Abu Dhabi plays catch up with the incredible development going on in nearby Dubai, with the latest AED 800 million project, dubbed BTB (that's Between the Bridges, guys). Due to open in Feb 2007, the complex will be packed with luxury villas, executive apartments, and a five star hotel. That's music to our ears.