LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
After all the talk about converting old jails into luxury hotels, this trend seems rather ho-hum. From the drop-dead gorgeous Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, Peru to the new Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, there are a whole bunch of monastery-hotels cropping up in phenomenal locations worldwide. Here's what Forbes Traveler says about Villa San Michele:
But it's doubtful there could be a view more serene than that of Florence from the Villa San Michele, a former century monastery that clings to a lush hillside in Fiesole. The monastery portion was built in the 16th century, the façade was designed by Michelangelo and the entire property is run with smooth, contemporary efficiency by General Manager Luca Finardi, an affable Florentine if ever there was one. "The Michelangelo Suite, the monastery's former library, was where Napoleon once stayed," Finardi says.
Perhaps most exciting of these hotel openings is The Augustine, slated to open in January 2009. Housed in five historic buildings around the St. Thomas Monastery in Prague, the new hotel promises abundant style and sophistication- like all the Rocco Forte Collection hotels.
The 29-room Uma Paro, operated by COMO Hotels and Resorts, offers more than the usual five-star hotel experience in Bhutan; Uma Paro welcomes visitors on an holistic, cultural adventure- where you can discover one of the last pristine mountain cultures on earth, surrounded by towering peaks. Uma Paro arranges the entry permission required to visit the Kingdom, along with visas and Druk Airline tickets. Because the core of the COMO Shambhala experience is yoga and Asian-inspired therapies devoted to physical and spiritual wellbeing, it's only fitting that Uma Paro is offering a 6-night yoga retreat led by Australian teacher Judy Krupp. Suitable for all levels, the retreat will take place from January 4-10, 2009 and is priced from $3,968 (single occupancy). The program includes six nights accommodation, breakfast and lunch daily, five hours of daily group instruction, a traditional Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath and Massage, exploration of the local scenery and monasteries with an English-speaking guide, a pilgrimage to Bhutan's most sacred site Taktsang monastery (Tiger's Nest), a lunch at a Traditional Bhutanese Farmhouse, and a picnic at a ruined fortress at the end of Paro Valley with views of Bhutan's highest mountain, Mt Jomolhari (7,314 meters).
September 17, 2008
By: K. Clare Johnson
Stay the night without paying a cent! CoutureLab and Small Luxury Hotels of the World have teamed up to give away a luxury getaway. Simply sign up here to receive the CoutureLab and Small Luxury Hotels of the World newsletters and you will be entered to win.
The lucky winner gets 2 nights at the Small Luxury Hotel of their choice worldwide, and travel accessories worth nearly $2000. CoutureLab's personal shoppers have put together essentials based on the hotel you choose, so whether you are heading to the beach, on safari, to the big city, or to the slopes, you'll win everything you need.
Contest ends September 28, 2008 and winners will be notified shortly thereafter so hurry!
By: K. Clare Johnson
From the legendary London hotel to Hong Kong's stylish establishment, Langham has brought its stimulating hospitality concept to four continents now. Luxury hotel operator, Langham Hotels International, has doubled in size in the last year with 16 hotels open or in the pipeline. We just got word that Langham has signed a contract for Langham Place, Koregaon Park, Pune, India- as Langham expands into what's termed the "new Silk Road of China, India and the Middle East." Slated to open in 2010 in the "Silicon Valley of India," the 180-room hotel will be home to India's first Chuan Spa concept, featuring oriental hot tubs, ice caves, herbal steam rooms, singles and couples treatment suites, and an infinity edge indoor and outdoor pool. The exciting restaurants on offer will include a new hybrid concept called Portal- Work & Play. Here's the scoop from the press release: "By combining a lobby lounge, cocktail bar and business centre, Portal is where work and play seamlessly intertwine to meet the needs of today's multi-tasking world." A DJ will spin in the lobby-atrium, setting the mood.
It's not just the bar that's the place to be in Paris. The Hotel Plaza Athenee, the 188-room embodiment of Parisian luxury set between Avenue des Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower, is also home to La Galerie Des Gobelins, a newly-designed lounge area that's the talk of the town in Paris. The hotel recently unveiled a tremendous re-imagining by interior designer Pascale Benhamou, and the Galerie now features velvet sofas, a mosaic carpet, amber lighting from chandeliers, and made-to-measure furniture (like beaten-metal lampshades by Societé Lyonnaise Bronzes d'art Francais and pedestal tables of French-polished walnut by Taillardat). This chic, Parisian venue is the perfect spot to lounge after a day of shopping in the Golden Triangle. There's a "fashion parade of a menu" so you can enjoy epicurean delights like "Start the show" (nibbles), the "Spring & Tea Collection" (afternoon tea) and the "Hottest Fashions" (main courses). Desserts are crafted by Christophe Michalak, the world-famous Pastry Chef.
We recently spread the word about the incredible deal-- $19.28 room rates!-- offered by Leading Hotels of the World to celebrate its 80th anniversary. And now it's time to highlight another celebratory package from LHW-though this one is a tad more extravagant. Leading Hotels of the World has created an epic voyage, "Around The World in 80 Ways," to pay homage to both the 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards, and their own 80th birthday. The price tag for this amazing, glamorous journey? One million dollars.
Traveling in a private jet all the way, you and a companion will see everything in the world worth seeing and do everything in the world worth doing. Best of all, 10 percent of the USD 1 million price will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation for the global fight against AIDS. So, with that in mind, we invite you to open your hearts and wallets and get ready to set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Back in June we broke the news about the brand new Anantara Resort on Thailand's Phuket Island, set to debut in early October on a quiet stretch of Mai Khao Beach on Phuket's secluded northern sunset coast. You'll fall in love with this all-villa resort, where the stunning accommodations come equipped with individual private pools. Another perk: the Anantara signature outdoor "made for two" terrazzo tub that seamlessly blends with the private pool. Be one of the first to experience an unforgettable getaway at the Anantara Phuket Resort and Spa with a special opening offer. Stay for four nights and pay for only three at the special Anantara Breeze rate, available from October 1- December 23, 2008. Rates start from THB 16,000.
You can't beat the views of the glittering city skyline from the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, perfectly situated in the historic Rocks district overlooking the spectacular Sydney Harbour and world-famous Opera House. After a AUD 40 million renovation program, the spacious guest rooms showcase exquisite furnishings. The views are simply extraordinary. It's easy to become mesmerized by the bright city lights at this five-star address. Get pampered in style with the aptly-named "Emerald City" package, starting from AUD 325 per night. The offer is available through December 30, 2008 and includes overnight accommodation, breakfast for two at Café Mix, complimentary use of the Health Club, and complimentary valet parking. Inclusive of 10 percent goods and services tax.
How about a free night on the Hawaiian island of Kauai? Or at the swanky Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, Colorado? Plus a complimentary room upgrade and sumptuous American breakfast? Hyatt is currently running a fantastic promotion to inspire travelers to treat themselves to a fall vacation. With the "Three for Free" package, you can enjoy a free night (based on length of stay), a 1-category room upgrade, and full American breakfast for two daily. There's no catch on this hot deal. You must stay between September 1 and December 19, 2008, and American Express Cardmembers also receive a welcome amenity and late checkout when paying with any American Express Card(R) and requesting offer code AX3FF at the time of reservation.
Here's the scoop on some of the superb properties participating in "Three for Free":
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek: Nestled in the Rocky Mountains with ski-in/ski-out access and indulgent amenities. The water-based spa experience at the Allegria Spa is not-to-be missed.
Hyatt Regency Aruba: The ultimate island escape with sailing, water sports, and 8,000-square foot pool complex, the luxurious Stillwater spa, and six tempting restaurants.
Grab an AAA Four Diamond room at the Gran Meliá Cancún for just $99. Treat yourself to a beach break this fall and relish the luxurious facilities at this beachside resort. Nestled on a 1,500 foot stretch of white sand, the resort consists of five Mayan-inspired pyramids surrounded by lush vegetation and an exclusive 9-hole golf course. Book the Autumn Special by October 15, 2008 and you'll score rates of $99 in an oceanview room, 25 percent off all food and beverages (there's a wide range of good restaurants on-site), and a voucher for 20 percent off your next stay. Don't miss a massage at the newly remodeled Yhi Spa. The gym is pretty slick, too. If you can tear yourself away from the pool, that is.