January 2, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Post-holiday blues? Escape to London to hit the January Sales and take in the latest shows. The Maybourne Hotel Group, which manages a trio of super-luxury London hotels, has put together a tempting Winter Heaven package, starting from just GBP 239 per night. These London properties are some of the most renowned hotels in the world, each defined by a distinctive personality. The art deco jewel Claridges is the epitome of grand English style, adored by celebrities and illustrious families for over a century; The Berkeley, situated in fashionable Belgravia, is home to the Michelin star rated Petrus restaurant and trendy Blue Bar; The Connaught is located in the heart of Mayfair at one of the world's most distinguished addresses. The Winter Heaven package includes accommodations, a bottle of champagne upon arrival, and English breakfast each morning. Prices start at GBP 239 at The Connaught, GBP 249 at The Berkeley, and GBP 259 at Claridges. Available until January 14, 2007.
Say hello to the newest and most innovative luxury hotel in the nation's capital. Following a $24 million renovation, Park Hyatt Washington opened its doors in Summer 2006 to much fanfare and celebration. This exclusive hotel is located just a few blocks from Georgetown and minutes from Embassy Row, National Monuments, and the Smithsonian. Renowned designer Tony Chi was the mastermind behind the makeover, which showcases a Tea Cellar (offering rare and vintage selections), spa-inspired bathrooms (gray limestone rain showers and deep soaking tubs), and a signature fragrance designed for the hotel by artisan perfumer Blaise Mautin. Dynamic and modern, the hotel's design pays homage to the city itself: the hotel entrance celebrates DC's famous cherry blossoms with impressive glass sculptures. The 215 guest rooms are contemporary and stylish; the Park Deluxe rooms are the largest in the city. And each room also highlights Classic American Heritage, with antique gameboards, a selection of books about American history and crafts, Windsor style chairs, and Modern American artwork. The hotel's new restaurant, the Blue Duck Tavern, features an open kitchen with a wood burning oven, welcoming patrons with a warm, friendly ambience. The menu focuses on simple and traditional cooking methods with the freshest ingredients: slow-roasting in wood embers, braising, preserving and smoking techniques brings the true flavors of America's great and simple foods to the table.
This winter, experience the city at its most pleasant, when it's blissfully empty of tourist crowds, and as described by the New York Times, "when the locals come out to play." With the Comfort and Joy Winter Package at the Park Hyatt, take pleasure in the warmth of a cozy night: savor a rare tea from the Tea Cellar, soak in a steaming tub, relax in your lavishly appointed guest room, and if you must go out in the cold, the heated seats of a brand new custom designed Audi A8 L can transport you to your favorite shopping or sightseeing destination. The package includes a complimentary upgrade to Park Deluxe room, a pot of tea from Park Hyatt Washington's unique Tea Cellar, your choice of Valet Parking for the length of stay OR full American breakfast for two each morning, welcome amenity for children, or complimentary custom designed Audi A8 L to transport you to your favorite shopping or sightseeing destination within Washington. Available until February 28, 2007.
Since its gala opening in 1912, the Fairmont Copley Plaza has symbolized Boston's elegance, culture, and history. Steps away from Beacon Hill, Copley Place, and Newbury Street shopping, the Fairmont Copley Plaza boasts superlative service-- even providing the services of resident Canine Ambassador, Catie Copley, an adorable three year old black lab whom guests can walk or run (this doggie's even got her own email address!) The hotel is also the home to one of the hottest tables in Boston, the Oak Room. Fairmont Copley Plaza has put together a fun and fabulous Fashionista Package to celebrate the new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts: "Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006." The exhibit features runway garments from the spring collections of ten influential designers (including Valentino, Larcroix, Dior and Chanel) and explores the ideas and inspirations motivating Paris fashion today. The Fashionista Package includes accommodations in a newly renovated guest room and two tickets to the special exhibit at the MFA. Available until March 18, 2007, priced at $269 per night. Choose the "Ultimate Fashion Weekend" package and get a consultation with the hotel's shopping concierge, a private appointment with the hotel's Designer-in-Residence, Denice Hajjar, and a $500 clothing certificate at her boutique of couture and ready-to-wear fashion, while staying in the Museum of Fine Arts Suite. Starting from $1,089 per night.
And then there were three. The media went wild when Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas set sail: the 208 ft, 160,000 ton mega ship with a capacity for 4,000 passengers. The world's largest passenger ship featured all sorts of never-before-seen facilities like rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing simulator pool called "Flow Rider." Royal Caribbean's second Freedom-class ship, called Liberty of the Seas, will debut in May 2008. It will depart Miami on Saturdays for seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. (Ports of call include San Juan, St. Maarten, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.) And the cruise line recently announced that there is a third ship under construction in Finland, which will be dubbed Independence of the Seas. The sister ships will all share the same signature amenities, including the 1,215 sq ft Presidential Family Suite which sleeps up to 14.
These days (and it's about time), it's become trendy for hotels to go green. But Fairmont's been at it since 1990. With its award-winning Green Partnership program, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts have led the pack in their dedication to protecting the environment and minimizing the impact of hotel operations. Each of Fairmont's luxury hotels focuses on waste management, water and energy conservation, habitat protection, and community outreach. Fairmont is all about developing sustainable practices for the hospitality industry.
In 2005 Fairmont introduced Eco-Innovations, hotel-based environmental initiatives that encourage partnerships, learning, and guest experiences while addressing a universal environmental issue in a way that hits close to home. For example, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu-- located within a World Biosphere Reserve-- has created the Adopt-A-Beluga Program, to help the threatened St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population.
Recently, Fairmont created a partnership with the World Heritage Alliance, a joint initiative of the United Nations Foundation and Expedia, to promote conservation, sustainable tourism, and economic development for communities located in and around World Heritage sites. This is really good news for threatened sites like Cambodia's Angkor Wat temples. Leading the new partnership will be the Fairmont Mayakoba, a luxurious, eco-friendly resort located on Mexico's Mayan Riviera, which will work with an award-winning local tourism network from the nearby Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. This reserve comprises 1.3 million acres of tropical ecosystems and is home to 23 different archaeological sites of pre-Columbian Mayan culture. Guests of Fairmont Mayakoba will experience this marvelous World Heritage Site with tours that guarantee minimal environmental impact. Sustainable tourism is the way to ensure that sites are protected for the enjoyment of all travelers now and in the future.
The DR has got it all: sun-soaked sandy beaches, excellent recreational activities, and oodles of outstanding resorts. Case in point: Paradisus Palma Real-- an all-inclusive, all-suite luxury resort with spectacular ocean views just minutes from the hot spot of Punta Cana. 554 suites feature private terraces, mahogany furniture, flat screen TV, DVD and CD player, and complimentary high speed Internet access. Six restaurants offer a culinary tour of delicious cuisine from around the world (from Mediterranean to Chinese). There are three outdoor pools set in magnificent tropical gardens, tennis courts, a full fitness program at the gym, the ultimate in spa treatments, the Cocotal Golf and Country Club, and a slew of water sports. What more could you ask for? (Did I mention there's unlimited Premium brand drinks at your choice of six bars?)
The secret's out about the charming city of Tallinn, long adored by touring Finns and visitors from other Baltic countries (just a quick 50 mile hop across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki). Because easyJet started flying to Tallinn in 2004, "the Estonian capital has become the Las Vegas of the Baltics," so says The New York Times, which urges getting there fast. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town is a picturesque and well-preserved historical masterpiece full of turreted castles, Gothic spires, and winding cobblestone alleyways. The place to stay is Hotel Telegraaf, the city's only member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Located in the heart of Old Town, the hotel is housed in a 19th century building which used to be the city's telephone exchange station. The facade is elegant; the interiors are luxurious. The Hotel Telegraaf joins the Three Sisters Hotel as the finest in the city (both hotels have the same owners). After an extensive refurbishment, the Hotel Telegraaf opened in November 2006 with 86 rooms, the indulgent Elemis Spa, and the Tchaikovsky restaurant, serving fine Russian cuisine. A word of caution: avoid the booming tourist trap during sultry summer weekends. It's best to travel to Tallinn in the late spring, early summer, or early fall, when the days are still warm, but the tourist droves have vanished.
Noteworthy: This beautiful city has become a tech capital for the region, so you won't have a hard time finding a WiFi spot.
At the southernmost tip of China, off the mainland coast in the South China Sea, there exists a large tropical island called Hainan, covered in greenery and shrouded in a balmy climate. The waters are emerald-turquoise, the sandy beaches are long and white, and the vegetation is lush. Hainan Island is not yet heavily industrialized (even though it's a Special Economic Zone), and the island has become a popular tourist destination because of its bountiful natural beauty. In mid-2007, Mandarin Oriental is slated to open its newest property, a private beach resort nestled in the green valley of the Wuzhi Mountain range. The Mandarin Oriental Sanya will be a peaceful retreat, situated on a secluded sandy cove with a colorful coral reef just offshore, teeming with marine life. The resort will consist of low rise villas within landscaped gardens; its 295 rooms promise stunning views of the sunset over the sea. Other features include a spectacular spa, four large swimming pools, the only outdoor conference facilities in Sanya, four restaurants, tennis courts, high tech gym, and water sports center with snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and deep sea fishing equipment. All just five minutes from Sanya City, and 20 minutes from the international airport.
What could possibly beat the French Riviera? The French Riviera in the off-season, when you can score incredible deals like this one. At the Stein Group's luxurious Cap Estel Hotel, located between Nice and Monaco in the charming village of Eze-Bord-de-Mer, pay for two nights and get the third for free! This special seasonal offer is available January 1- January 7, 2007 and March 1- March 31, 2007. (Lovebirds, forget February!) Situated on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean, this renowned 19th century hotel has played host to royalty, politicians, and celebrities from all over the world. Guests have exclusive access to the private beach, the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, state-of-the-art fitness room, sauna, steam bath and the advice of a private trainer. The hotel features only eight rooms and twelve suites, for the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity. All rooms have a balcony or terrace with sea view, and are equipped with cutting-edge technology.
Adrian Zecha's elegant beachfront masterpiece is certainly a South Beach hot spot, beloved by celebs. The Setai is located in the middle of it all on Collins Avenue, close to the area's best dining, shopping, and nightlife. Since its opening in 2005, the hotel has been heating things up in Miami with its intimate ambience, impeccable service, superb spa, and star-studded facilities. Set amidst tropical gardens and turquoise pools next to the ocean, The Setai boasts exquisite accommodations-- 75 guestrooms and 45 suites stacked with amenities: espresso machines, in-room bars, Bose surround-sound DVD/CD systems, deep soaking tubs and rain showers, luxurious bath products, and flat screen LCD and plasma TVs. But perhaps the most exquisite accommodations of all is the palatial Penthouse: 10,000 square feet of heaven with a rooftop pool and sweeping panoramas of the ocean, beach and Miami skyline. It's the ideal spot for receptions, parties and other special events. This regal four-bedroom penthouse goes for a mere $25,000 a night (and that doesn't include tax).