December 14, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The marvelous Galapagos Islands, the inspiration for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, are home to the greatest diversity of creatures on the planet. What better way to experience this rich biodiversity than by private yacht tour? Blue Parallel is the specialist for private luxury travel to the wondrous natural wonders of South America, including customizable yacht packages to the equatorial islands of the Galapagos. Boats range in size from small (one to four passengers) to larger cruise ships for up to 40 peeps. The price range? From between $6,000 to $7,000 per person for an 11 day trip. Amenities include a superb staff (onboard personal chefs, expert naturalists, dive instructors, masseuse, and butler) and five-star accommodations.
Record lows (prices, that is) at the Boulders Resort, with winter specials from $249 a night. Discover one of America's top golf and spa resorts, located on 1,300 acres of pristine Sonoran desert. Book one of 160 unique adobe casitas, overlooking red-rock boulders, enormous cacti and the wildlife of the Southwestern desert. Or choose one of 55 Pueblo Villas, with one to three bedrooms, and private patios. The 32,000 sq. foot Golden Door Spa offers 24 treatment rooms, Movement Studio (Pilates, etc.), private locker rooms with saunas, steam rooms and Japanese baths. The full spa menu includes Native American wraps and therapies.
Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, Official Site
Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, Five Star Alliance
No hotel space in the Caribbean this winter? Sleep on the beach! Experience the beauty and blissful Caribbean sunshine of the Virgin Islands from a kayak, with Arawak Expeditions. A small, family-run outfitter based in St. John, Arawak was the first company offering sea-kayaking tours around St. John, and they know their territory. With years of experience, Arawak uses the best technology and equipment in leading environmentally-friendly tours in the Virgin Islands National Park. With gourmet meals—prepared nightly on the deserted beach-- to boot. The snorkeling is remarkable, in secluded, untouristed locations. This is adventure travel at its finest. A sample five-day itinerary starts in Peter Island, then involves gentle paddling from island to island, including: Pelican Island, Norman Island, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Cay, Lovango Cay, St. John.
The Michelin Guide Deutschland 2006 has distinguished the "White Town by the Sea," bestowing an award on the gourmet restaurant Friedrich-Franz in the Kempinski Grand Hotel Heiligendamm. Head chef Tillmann Hahn opened the restaurant in June 2004. The guy's culinary motto? "One cuisine, four aspects." Thus four creative menus-- utilizing the best products from the region and the world—range from Classique, Exotique, Mediterranee, and vegetarian Menu Jardiniere. Framed by the Baltic Sea, the beach and dense forests, the hotel is now blanketed in wintry charm.
I told you these guys were good. They just scored big at the seventh annual Luxury Travel Expo today in Vegas, where Sir Rocco Forte—Chairman and Chief Executive of Rocco Forte Hotels—received the Leaders in Luxury Award. His collection of truly exemplary luxury hotels are expanding aggressively across Europe, with hotel openings scheduled for England, Germany and Prague. (The plan—hallelujah!-- is to cover all major European cities.)
Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines just announced a new version of its Big 'S' Sale with prices starting at $19 each-way for domestic and Caribbean travel. Though serious restrictions apply, and the lowest fares are available for midweek winter travel, Smarter Travel investigated and still found savings of more than $300.
Fly to Mexico on American from $198 R/T. Destinations include Cozumel, Cancun, Los Cabos, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Valid through March 31, book by December 15. This sale is hot!
Ahh, the Hotel Ritz Madrid. Favored residence of royalty, heads of state, and fashionistas alike, upon their visits to Spain's culture-saturated capital. The divine result of King Alfonso XIII's desire to build a luxury hotel to rival the Hotel Ritz in Paris. In the heart of the city, located in the center of the "Triangle of Art," the Hotel Ritz evokes the pomp and grandeur of the Royal Madrid of old. And from now until December 20, save 20 percent! The "Art in Madrid" package includes accommodations for three nights; entrance to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Prado and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; a five-course dinner at the hotel's highly-acclaimed Goya restaurant; afternoon tea in the lounge (one per person); airport transfers; and champagne and fruit in your room. The rate is $900 per person, double occupancy.
Hotel Ritz Madrid, Official Site
Hotel Ritz Madrid, Five Star Alliance
December 8, 2005
By: Guest Writer
St. Pete's notorious hotel scene is about to do a 180. For years marked by a severe shortage of rooms, with chronic unavailability for travelers seeking to discover Russia's most culturally fascinating city, St. Pete's luxury hotel market will double in size next year. Brands like Raffles International, Intercontinental, and Sofitel have disclosed plans for new hotels in the city.
By: Guest Writer
December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Space available at the inn for Christmas?! Could it be? Indeed, New England's premier oceanfront resort and historic landmark is all spruced up for the holidays, with a few rooms available for a last-minute getaway. In addition to the 205 luxurious guestrooms, there are 34 Cape-style cottages situated around the 25-acres of gardens. Heated pool, full-service spa, heaps of children's activities: this is the perfect spot for a family retreat. The halls are decked, and full of good cheer; enjoy afternoon tea, holiday music, and lots of hot chocolate and cookies by a cozy fire. Christmas day itself is marked by a stunning feast, ice carvings, wine tastings and culinary demonstrations, and pastries from an award-winning French chef.
Chatham Bars Inn, Official Site
Chatham Bars Inn, Five Star Alliance