In other festive news: We hear that fashion designer Betsey Johnson has partnered with The Plaza in New York to design the hotel’s first official Christmas Tree this holiday season. And guess her inspiration? Eloise, of course! The fictional heroine of Kay Thompson’s 1955 classic book already has her own suite at The Plaza, but now she'll be honored with her very own tree- prominently displayed in the Fifth Avenue foyer. See Betsey Johnson's sketch for the tree here, but if you want to take a gander at the Christmas tree with your very own eyes, book a table for the special ‘Tree Lighting Tea’ in The Palm Court on November 28 at 5pm, hosted by The Plaza and Betsey Johnson. The iconic New York City hotel-- recently honored as a member of Historic Hotels of America-- is excited to welcome the designer’s first holiday ‘popup’ shop, which opened its doors on November 14th and offers an exciting collection of giftable items.
Let the countdown begin. In just one week's time, the S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship-- made from 1,200 pounds of sugar and 3,000 eggs-- will dock in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. And it's little wonder they're televising the event live; the gingerbread pirate ship will be 17-ft high! The S.S. Amelia will serve as a backdrop for all the festive holiday events the resort has scheduled- from Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts to holiday wagon rides on the dunes, beach bonfires, and Santa tuck-ins. The annual Christmas Tree Lighting on November 23 at 5:30 pm kicks off the holiday season; the 40-ft tree will be beautifully illuminated and some 200,000 lights will glitter throughout the resort grounds. There will be plenty of hot apple cider for imbibing, and fireworks for ogling. Immediately after the Christmas Tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus will host a dinner the whole family will enjoy. Santa's elves and reindeer will be hanging out, too.
November 15, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Looking for a warm-weather respite with a generous helping of luxury? Make a b-line for Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach, located just north of Miami in Sunny Isles. It's not just the postcard-perfect beach that'll sooth your winter-weary soul. The hotel was recently singled out as one of the Top 20 Beach and Family Resorts winners in the 2011 Reader Survey of Andrew Harper’s exclusive Hideaway Report. (Andrew Harper and his editors travel incognito to find the best accommodations on the planet.) Also the recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award, the hotel has a 20,000 square foot spa by ESPA, two oceanfront restaurants (including the famous Il Mulino New York), three swimming pools overlooking the Atlantic, and a marine biology-based AcquaMarine children’s program.
November 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Want to spice things up for Christmas this year? Hop the pond to the most visited city on earth for some raucous merrymaking-- French-style. The Champs-Élysées will be sparkling with lights, the street markets fragrant with hot mulled wine, the department stores dazzling with over-the-top window displays. What are you waiting for? Paris awaits you with open arms. Bed down at Le Meurice- the majestic palace hotel facing the Jardin des Tuileries- and you'll be privy to some fun festivities, as the hotel decks the halls with colorful decorations and goes all out in the food department. Best part of all: Santa will be pulling up his sleigh at Le Meurice for three Wednesdays in December, starting December 7, to give gifts to the kids at teatime.
The hotel is offering a special package for Christmas, available from December 1- December 28, 2011, starting from 560 euros, which includes accommodations (upgrade guaranteed at booking time) and American breakfast for two guests, Champagne and petits fours amenities, a Christmas gift for children, and free access to the wellness centre, Sauna, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi.
The epic snowfall in October gave us a taste of what's in store this winter, and you can bet your bottom dollar that we'll be trading in our snow boots for a pair of flipflops when the arctic cold gets to be too much to handle. Lucky for us, Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts are making it easy-- with a swell "Retreat to the Heat" offer that hands out a free night, a resort credit (ranging from $75 to $250), and a room upgrade (based on availability). Take a peek at some of the participating hotels below and start dreaming about your winter getaway. (Psst. What a great Christmas gift!) The offer is available for booking now through December 15, 2011 for travel through January 31, 2012, and blackout dates do apply.
* Aruba: The Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba
* Grand Cayman:The Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa, Grand Cayman
* St. Maarten: The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten
* U.S. Virgin Islands: The Westin St. John Resort & Villas
The legendary address on Central Park is now part of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation that recognizes hotels for preserving and maintaining their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. The Plaza Hotel-- the fictional setting for Kay Thompson's Eloise character-- isn't just a NYC landmark; the storied hotel looms large in the imaginations of folks across the United States. It's the only hotel in New York City listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. After a $450 million, three-year renovation completed in 2008, The Plaza Hotel continues its tradition of luxury with a Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, one-of-a-kind suites, and high-profile restaurants.
November 8, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
The Four Seasons Chicago is adding a little holiday cheer to your visit to the windy city. Perfect for families and individuals of varying ages, the following events are sure to brighten your spirits and make your holidays even more enjoyable.
Starting November 25th, the Four Seasons Chicago will have a Hot Chocolate Doc available to deliver specially crafted hot chocolate drinks right to your room. He’ll be available from 4:00 – 6:00pm until December 30th, making a variety of drinks with marshmallow crème and caramel drizzle toppings for kids, and offering a selection of rums and schnapps for adults. The price for these delectable treats is $8 for kids and $14 for the adult varieties with spirits.
The Four Seasons Chicago is also offering a Holiday Movie Room, a Family Gingerbread House Decorating Class, and even personal touches from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy holiday classic films and take your kids down to meet Santa while enjoying luxurious accommodations at the Four Seasons Chicago. Don’t delay, and make your holiday reservations early and enjoy a relaxing and stress-free vacation.
By: Oksana Balytsky
November 7, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
Let it snow! November means it’s time to take advantage of some early-season ski deals so you can hit the powder fast. Without a doubt, the best place to embrace the winter is our neighbor to the north. Canada’s pristine wilderness is home to the number one ski resort in North America (Whistler), and Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a storybook winter setting in the Canadian Rockies. Here, the wide-open wilderness makes for some epic skiing on what feels like your very own private pistes.
Fairmont offers three legendary resorts where skiers and non-skiers alike revel in luxury while soaking up the surrounding natural beauty. Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs resort is located in the heart of the park with three pristine ski resorts at your doorstep. With the “Couples Holiday Getaway,” you get a third night for free when you stay for the festive Christmas season between December 17th and December 30th, 2011. Another hot offer: With “Extend Your Stay,” you’ll get discounts until February 10, 2012. Stay two nights and save 25% off each night when you stay two nights; 30% off each night when you stay three nights; 35% off each night when you stay four or more nights.
Also located in Banff National Park, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the ultimate winter playground. Oft described as Canada’s most scenic ski resort, the Lake Louise Ski Resort has 139 marked ski runs and back bowls on four mountain faces. Beyond skiing, the snow adventures are endless-- from dog sledding the Great Divide to horse-drawn sleigh rides through the glacial shadows. Take advantage of the resort’s “Ski & Play for Free” and you’re guaranteed the ski trip of a lifetime. Included in the package: luxury accommodations, two adult Lake Louise Ski Resort passes per room per night OR a $100 Fairmont Chateau lake Louise resort credit (in place of each ski day), plus transportation to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Valid from November 15th, 2011 until May 1st, 2012, starting from $299 CAD per night.
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler-- nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain-- offers ski-in/ski-out access, amenities for pets, and a lavish spa. The “Ski for Free” package means you get Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets included with your low room rates (from $269 CAD per night) until November 23, 2011. Or book the “Everyone's An Original Winter Offer “ for double airline reward miles.
November 4, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Last year Chicago got a kick out of the live reindeer imported to the Trump International Hotel & Tower to play on the River Walk. Now that's our kind of holiday party! We hear that the luxury hotel is at it again this year, organizing a special celebratory family event on Saturday, November 19 with two reindeer, holiday music, lots of good food, and a viewing of Chicago's annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival fireworks show. Straight from the
horse's reindeer's mouth: "Rudolph has informed us of his master plan to escape the North Pole and join us for the magical Festival of Lights. Rudolph will be staying at Trump International Hotel & Tower with a few of his friends and is eager to meet you."
Book "Rudolph's Great Escape," starting from $465 per night, and enjoy accommodations in a Deluxe King Guestroom; assorted cookies and milk at turndown; a vintage Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer DVD; complimentary meals for children under 10 years-old from the in-room dining children's menu (only when accompanied with an adult entree); photos with the reindeer; and a plush stuffed reindoor toy.
November 2, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Come hell or high water, the Angsana Laguna Phuket will be opening its doors on December 1, 2011. The new flagship for Angsana Hotels and Resorts, the property closed earlier this year for a multi-million dollar overhaul, and promises to dazzle after a dramatic makeover. The guest rooms and public spaces are stylish and contemporary in design, with traditional Thai touches (think steep arched roofs, waterways winding through the grounds, and vividly colored fabrics).
Nestled on Bang Tao Bay in the northwest of Phuket Island in Southern Thailand, Angsana Laguna Phuket is part of Laguna Phuket, Asia’s first integrated resort, which is comprised of five luxury hotels, six palm-fringed lagoons, 600 acres of parkland, three kilometers of pristine beach and a slew of recreational activities and dining options. We like the sound of the 323 metre free-form pool that meanders throughout the Angsana Laguna Phuket and the award-winning Angsana Spa. Did we mention the treehouse-inspired Kids Club? This resort is family friendly (and they even have a special kiddies pool called the toddler's "tub").
Hot rates: The resort is currently offering $199 introductory rates with breakfast included, and they'll throw in a resort credit of $98 when you stay in two nights or more. Stay a minimum of three nights, and you'll get a free 90-minute massage.