February 5, 2008
By: Courtney W. May
TripAdvisor.com has officially chosen The Signature at MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the No. 1 "Best Luxury Hotel in the U.S." The TripAdvisor's 2008 Travelers' Choice Awards also recognized The Signature among the "Top 100 Best Luxury Hotels in the World" and the "Best Hotels in the World's 25 Most Popular Destinations." What makes the win so interesting is that the Signature does not offer a casino, is non-smoking only, and all-suites - no standard rooms here. While it is true guests can still use the MGM Grand for gambling and smoking, by booking the Signature, they get to enjoy a gated entrance and suites with balconies.
Note Bene: At 550 square feet, the MGM Signature Junior Suites are big on style and are the most basic, standard room category.
By: Courtney W. May
February 5, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Business in Jeddah? The place to stay is the Qasr Al Sharq, the opulent "Palace of the Orient" managed by the new Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Designed by the folks behind Dubai's seven-star Burj Al Arab, the all-suite hotel epitomizes extravagance. Pure gold, handpicked crystal and porcelain, exquisite mosaics, cultured marble, the finest art... Luxury is in the details. As befits a palace this grand, some of the suites are more than 10,000 square feet in size, and come with massage tables and private gyms. Service is exceptional, as the personal butlers are members of the International Guild of Professional Butlers. Facilities include a traditional Hammam, magnificent pool with a fully retractable glass roof, and ladies-only spa with Jeddah's only Aquamedic pool that pumps underwater jet streams specifically designed to massage the body. For business meetings, there are seven boardrooms themed to reflect the world's economic powerhouses (think: British Windsor Room, Japanese Kyoto room). Plus, all the suites are equipped with laptops that wirelessly connect to the Internet anywhere in the building.
Share a magical time with your family in the heart of the European capital. One step away from Grand Place, one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, and close to the city's key historic sites and attractions, the stylish Hotel Amigo is a newly-refurbished gem in the Rocco Forte Collection. Renowned for its five-star accommodations and impeccable personal service, the hotel is the ideal base for you and your family to discover Brussels. The Hotel Amigo has put together a VI'Kids program (how clever!) with all sorts of special amenities. After a generous buffet breakfast at the Ristorante Bocconi (or in your room), spend the day with your kids at the Natural Science Museum, checking out the impressive collection of dinosaurs. The VI'Kids program includes 2 Classic Rooms connecting or adjoining (for 2 adults and 2 children) with 50 percent reduction on your kids' room, full buffet breakfast, tickets to the Museum of Natural Science, a welcome basket filled with goodies and children's amenities, a "Bvlgari" present for kids, daily newspaper and access to the fitness center. Total price for 2 Classic Rooms is EUR 405. Available every weekend until April 30, 2008.
PS. The Hotel Amigo offers a Family Lunch with a special 3-course Children's menu, along with Babysitting service.
What could be more romantic than Florence for Valentine's Day? Savor the dolce vita at an enchanting Renaissance villa nestled on six hectares of beautifully-landscaped gardens. Just outside the gates of Florence, the Villa Olmi entices guests with its original murals, refined antiques, and contemporary amenities galore. (Marble bathrooms with jacuzzis, plasma TV screens, Wifi, the works...) The Italians certainly do things right for Valentine's Day. Escape to Florence and enjoy splendid accommodations with an essential oils Jacuzzi bath, fresh fruit and Italian "Spumante" in-room upon arrival, and a complimentary buffet breakfast. On February 14, there will be a sumptuous, candle-lit feast with live music (EUR 65 per person). Rates for the "Luxury Valentine Escape" start from EUR 295 for the Classic Room. Plus, if you stay for three-nights, you'll enjoy a wine-tasting session in the villa's impressive wine cellar. Available from February 11- February 17, 2008.
Imagine: you sink into a plush lounge chair in a private poolside cabana while a pool attendant spoils you with Evian spritzes, cool towels, and frozen fruit brochettes. Lush tropical foliage waves in the breeze. Just a block from glittering Biscayne Bay, in the heart of Miami, you've discovered an oasis of luxurious pampering. Indulge in a Vichy shower and spa treatment at the 50,000-square-foot Splash Spa. Did we mention the Sports Club/LA? The Four Seasons Hotel Miami features state-of-the-art fitness facilities (40,000-square-feet worth!) where personal trainers and fitness gurus teach the ultimate work-out programs (read: 14 different types of yoga, REV Group Cycling Studio, BodyArt Pilates Studio). Housed in a sleek 70-storey tower of glass and granite reflecting the sparkling bay, the Four Seasons Miami offers 221 spacious rooms including 39 suites. Take advantage of some exceptional rates for a two- or three-night getaway. From March 16- March 29, 2008, you'll find a two-night stay priced as low as $275 per night in a Superior Room. From June 1- September 30, 2008, rates start at $250 per night.
It's back-- and better than ever. The Ici Urban Bistro re-opens today at the capital's Sofitel Lafayette Square. Housed in an updated historic building dating from 1880, the contemporary hotel boasts one of the most exclusive DC locations overlooking the White House. Chef Philippe Piel welcomes you to his casually-elegant restaurant, offering a contemporary twist on traditional French bistro cuisine. The menu's all about French comfort food using the best local ingredients. (Daily Candy drools over the "ever-awesome Cajun pommes frites.")
February 1, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
In October 2007, River Inn of Harbor Town opened its doors, offering Memphis visitors an entirely new lodging experience. Situated close to the Mighty Mississippi River in Downtown's Harbor Town neighborhood, the River Inn is a small boutique hotel where the history of the Old South meets the charm of classic Europe.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the River Inn at Harbor Town?
Karl W. Friedrich: Having managed luxury hotels in Europe, Caribbean and Pawleys Island, South Carolina for the past 35 years, the owners and the President of the River Inn Management Company thought I was the perfect fit for this unique and beautiful Boutique Hotel.
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?
Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn at Harbor Town's architecture is influenced by European small luxury hotel concept with a touch of New Orleans look, the coziness and warm feeling of the lobby, small libraries on each floor, bedrooms/suites which open and one can sit in front and admire the great view of the Mississippi River. The Currents Fine Dining Restaurant with an elegant but warm decor and superb epicurean food served by a most accommodating and attentive Staff. In addition one can choose to go to TUGS, a bistro style casual restaurant with great food and draft beer.
Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?
Karl W. Friedrich: We are new, nor do we tell!
Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?
Karl W. Friedrich: Room 306 is one of our superior corner rooms with a typical New Orleans wrought iron balcony rail and double window, overlooking the Mississippi.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel is located 5 minutes from down town Memphis with all its attraction; Beal Street, FedEx Forum, Auto Zone Ball Park, River Park Museum, St. Jude Hospital, The Trolley Area, and the famous Rendezvous BBQ Restaurant. The Inn is across the road from the River Park with 3 miles of trail to walk or jog along the Mississippi river.
Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?
Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel features hardwood floors brought in from a West Virginia Textile Mill dating back to 1850, also two of the fire place mantel pieces have been obtained in New Orleans and are antique from the 1850's.
Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?
Karl W. Friedrich: That it is a true boutique hotel with the personalized service and atmosphere one expects at a small luxury Inn.
Five Star Alliance: What is your definition of luxury?
Karl W. Friedrich: Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort. Something desirable but expensive, something very pleasant but not really needed in life.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Karl W. Friedrich: Our patrons are either visitors for pleasure and sightseeing from around the world and the USA. We also cater to corporate guest and small executive retreats.
Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?
Karl W. Friedrich: I would add a spa (this is already in the planning stage) to enhance the service and pleasure of our patrons.
Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?
Karl W. Friedrich: The Fearrington House in Pittsboro, NC – Great atmosphere and well managed. The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Austin, TX – Great Hotel and also well managed. Twin Farms, VT – a wonderful place to get away and get spoiled.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?
Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn is a place you will remember for making you feel welcome and the superb service, delicious food and well appointed rooms/suites with luxury amenities.
More Information About Karl Friedrich:
Karl brings to River Inn more than 30 years of experience in the management of full service hotels. Most recently, he was general manager of Litchfield Plantation, a small luxury hotel in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. During Karl’s eight years at Litchfield, he established a European sales and marketing strategy, which created a diverse mix of international guests, accounting for 20 percent of the total yearly occupancy.
Karl is the former president of International Hospitality Management, Inc., a management and consulting firm specializing in luxury Jamaican resorts. Additionally, he has managed Four-Star and Five-Star hotels throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Antigua, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
An Austrian, Karl holds a degree in business administration. He later attended hotel management school in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.
In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, sailing, and of course, travel. He and his wife, Belinda, a licensed professional counselor, have two grown sons.
There's nothing like Europe in the off-season, when great deals at luxury hotels abound. But the best thing about this 3 X 2 Special Offer at Barcelona's landmark Hotel Majestic-- it's actually available for select dates throughout the year. Go ahead and splurge at this sumptuous hideaway that's played host to a number of presidents and globe-trotting celebs. When you pay for two nights, you can enjoy the third for free! Available February 1- 7; March 14- 20; July 13- 31, August 1- 29; December 1- 28, 2008. The Hotel Majestic has a killer location on Paseo de Gracia, within walking distance to Las Ramblas, the Plaza de Cataluña, Gaudi monuments, and the Gothic Quarter. Behind the neoclassical façade, you'll find 303 luxurious guest rooms and suites, the Michelin-starred restaurant, and magnificent rooftop swimming pool and bar.
Smack dab in the middle of bustling Chitown you'll find a splendid boutique hotel simply oozing Old World charm. The Whitehall Hotel offers a European sense of grace and lots of generous amenities: 24-hour room service, multi-line phones with voicemail, Internet, complimentary coffee and tea in the lobby, fully-equipped fitness center and valet service. The 221 guest rooms are appointed with fine antiques, and the Presidential Suite and The Whitehall Suite boast spacious private terraces overlooking the Chicago skyline from the 18th floor. Enjoy Italian cuisine at the hotel's Fornetto Mei restaurant, or step outside and find yourself in the middle of all the Gold Coast action with a bountiful choice of restaurants and bars. Book with Five Star Alliance and you'll find rates as low as $132 per night this winter.
January 31, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hibernate in style at Keswick Hall, the magnificent estate managed by Orient Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises. Enjoy a winter sojourn in a destination that Thomas Jefferson called "Eden," just minutes from Jefferson's historic Monticello in the heart of the Virginia Piedmont. Explore the antique shops and delightful boutiques of Charlottesville, and go wine tasting in the surrounding vineyards. Return for an epic meal at the award-winning Fossett's Restaurant, where floor-to-ceiling windows showcase a magnificent vista. Curl up with a good book in front of one of the many fireplaces. When you book the "Winter Sojourn" package, you pay for two nights and get the third night for free. Rates starting from $295 per night in a Signature Room.