December 21, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Nope, that's not the White House, folks. The stately architecture on display is the historic Greenbrier Resort, its estate set on 6,500 scenic acres in the Allegheny mountains of West Virginia. Habitual winner of the AAA five diamond award, named the "resort of the century" by the Andrew Harper Hideaway Report in '99, the Greenbrier is the essence of opulence. The all-inclusive resort offers over 50 recreational activities including three championship golf courses, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and a 40,000 square foot spa. And for this New Years, the Greenbrier is celebrating with an unforgettable party. (They've even planned a special dinner just for kids.) Evening concerts and live entertainment, a 50's buffet dinner dance, two New Year's Eve Galas featuring the Gene Donati Orchestra and The Gentlemen and Their Lady, noisemakers, hats, balloons, and of course the champagne toast at midnight. Followed the next day with an extraordinary New Year's Day champagne brunch. All this—including luxurious accommodations and daily meals-- is included with your New Years Package. Rates start at $329 per person, per night, double occupancy.
The Greenbrier, Official Site
The Greenbrier, Five Star Alliance
December 20, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The legendary pink palace, once the playground for celebs like F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a self-contained wonderland of pampering and exceptional service. Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the Don CeSar, a Loews hotel, embodies the grandeur of America's traditional beach resorts. More than seven miles of gorgeous beaches, oodles of watersports, including daily sailing and waverunning clinics, seaside massages, the stunning pool, and of course, blissful accommodations. And from now until January 5, take advantage of mind-blowing specials, and the magical holiday ambience at the Don. The "Treasured Holiday" Package includes one night's accommodation in a Partial Gulfview room, breakfast buffet for two in the Sea Porch Cafe, and a 2006 Don CeSar calendar. Starting at $228 per night.
The Don CeSar, Official Site
The Don CeSar, Five Star Alliance
December 16, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We've got the skinny on new Vegas hotel openings. There's the hotly-anticipated Las Ramblas, positively aglow with star power, which I've been prone to drool over. The Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino will squeeze onto the Strip right next door to the Bellagio, its condos and hotel ready in 2008. Steve Wynn's ambitions get more grandiose with the construction of Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, the 2,000-suite second tower which will be ready for 2008. And what a big year for Sin City! Loews is planning to open its first resort in Nevada; Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort will have 400 rooms, two outdoor pools with cabanas, restaurants galore, and a destination spa. Not to be outdone, the lovely Venetian will be dolled up with the addition of the Palazzo Casino Hotel, a new hotel and retail tower connecting to the classic Vegas hotel. Look out Wynn: Mr. Trump is developing a hotel sin casino right next door, scheduled to open next year. Lastly, W is joining the fray, opening its first hotel with casino in the Harmon Corridor in 2008. Just how big can the sprawling neon funland get?
December 15, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Sick of the crowds on the slopes? Hop over the Austrian or Italian border to ski what the Alps used to look like. Imposing peaks blanketed in white, bordered by untouched forests and deep river gorges. The former Yugoslav republic is a peaceful gem just waiting to be discovered. Where to go? Kranjska Gora, which hosts an annual World Cup men's downhill competition, is next to a national park. Or Mount Kanin, the highest altitude in Slovenia, boasts the longest season: December-May 1. From Kanin, just 100 miles from the Adriatic, you can ski in three countries! (Austria's and Italy's neighboring resorts are right next door.)
Cringing at the thought of preparing a Christmas dinner? Take it easy on yourself and EAT OUT! The Sutton Place Toronto—located in the heart of the city— is offering a scrumptious four-course prix-fixe Christmas dinner in its elegant restaurant, Accents. Available for two seatings on Christmas day, $59 per adult, $26 for children between 6-12 years (the younguns are free). The menu offers a delicious array of aps, entrees, and desserts to be shared with family and friends. And plus, eating out means no dishes!
The Sutton Place Toronto, Official Site
The Sutton Place Toronto, Five Star Alliance
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.