October 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Music City is home to many lively restaurants, bars, and nightlife where famed entertainers first made their mark. But Nashville's also full of museums, exciting attractions, culture, and art (try symphony, ballet, opera…) And the city positively comes alive during the holiday season. Visitors to Nashville can enjoy the Ray Charles exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Broadway's The Lion King at the Tennessee Performing Art's Center, Victorian Holiday Tours at Belle Meade Plantation, and the Titans vs. Patriots game on New Year's Eve. Book a room at the AAA five diamond award-winning Hermitage Hotel and experience the exceptional personalized service and first-rate facilities cited by the Robb Report when naming it one of the world's best luxury hotels. After a $19 million renovation, the historic Hermitage hotel shines as the city's finest, with its exquisite stained glass lobby ceiling, marble columns and staircases, and Russian walnut paneling. The elegant hotel is offering festive packages for the holiday season.
The secret's out about Itacaré. The favorite destination of Gisele and Sean Penn—a tropical paradise of white sand, lush palms, waterfalls, mangrove swamps and turquoise waters-- will witness the hottest luxury hotel opening in 2007, with the debut of the gorgeous eco-resort Warapuru. Wallpaper* hails it as a "Bond-style hideaway" that is "set to become the country's most exclusive retreat." And to quote the Fall issue of the New York Times Style Magazine:
While progressively more luxurious eco-resorts have been opening in early-adopting regions, the boom is currently spreading to more surprising destinations — like megapolluting Brazil. "Anyone with any feeling for the world is going green," says the cult interior designer Anouska Hempel, who is at work on Warapuru, a lavish eco-resort set to open next year on Brazil's north coast; made entirely of locally sourced materials, it will have customized spa treatments using native plants.
Anouska Hempel (who did Blakes in London and The Hempel in Amsterdam) has created a modern visual masterpiece, nestled within the rainforest canopy on a unique coastline. Warapuru will have 40 pavilions, beach club, restaurants, and exclusive spa. Opening set for early 2007.
Stay slopeside at the luxurious Pines Lodge, and dine like a king at the Grouse Mountain Grill, the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant that features stunning views of Beaver Creek Resort. Zagat raves about the joint as the best in the region, and Grouse is the highlight of the annual Beaver Creek Culinary Festival. Executive Chef Ted Schneider prepares elegant game, beef, fish and fowl with a signature rustic style, served graciously in a warm, welcoming environment. For a divine taste of Grouse Mountain, try the recipe for honey & lemon venison osso buco with goat cheese risotto at home:
Honey & Lemon Venison Osso Buco
with Goat Cheese Risotto
8 venison shanks, cut "osso buco" style
3 T vegetable oil
1 cup lemon peel, fresh
2 cups lemon juice
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sauce
Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper venison shanks. Dredge in flour and fry in vegetable oil, turning to make sure both sides have browned. Place in a baking dish. Add lemon juice, honey, lemon peel and brown sauce. Bake at 350° covered for 1 to 2 hours or until "fork" tender. Skim off excess fat, and serve over the goat cheese risotto with some of the sauce.
Goat Cheese Risotto
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock, hot
4 T butter
6 oz goat cheese, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and stir until translucent. Add rice, stir until coated with oil. Add wine and simmer until evaporated. Add half chicken stock, simmer until evaporated. Add remaining stock and simmer until evaporated until rice is soft on the outside with a chewy center. If rice is crunchy, add another cup of stock and allow it to evaporate. Repeat if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
The dream team has been scheming to open a stunning all-season resort in the mountains of Idaho, and now the Fairmont Tamarack development is official. Agassi Graf Development LLC has partnered with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, who will manage the luxury hotel and residences in two locations: Tamarack's village and a mid-mountain site. The terrain is breathtaking (check out the sleek virtual brochure) and the resort promises extraordinary skiing, excellent fly fishing, a challenging Robert Trent Jones, Jr. golf course (with new Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf), white water rafting and watersports on the nearby rivers and Lake Cascade. To quote the daring duo:
Time together with family is one of the most treasured things in our lives. We value the days we spend together and the quality of the moments we share. We have discovered a location in the heart of central Idaho that creates the perfect backdrop for exceptional experiences and precious memories. Tamarack Resort, with its all-season landscape, provides families like ours an active outdoor lifestyle and a chance to appreciate its surrounding beauty. Fairmont Tamarack is our opportunity to share this extraordinary experience with you.
This "outdoor enthusiast's dream" is scheduled to open in 2008.
The most prestigious address in the city of Philadelphia, the AAA Five-Diamond Rittenhouse hotel, is also ranked among the world's finest places to stay. And its intimate spa, the Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon, has been awarded as one of the top five spas in the nation. Located on the hotel's third floor, the spa is a gorgeous and serene sanctuary in the heart of the bustling metropolis. As featured in the September 2006 issue of American Spa Magazine, the 10,100 square-ft Aveda-concept spa offers a glimpse of "the good life" for those fortunate enough to be pampered inside. It is a complete health and beauty complex, offering a full menu of treatments and services (from massage to haircutting and styling), along with a health club and nail salon. The Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon is the first in the area to feature a Vichy shower room. With its menu designed for high-end pampering, this is a favorite for groups of professionals and bridal parties.
It's no wonder that one of the oldest and most exclusive luxury hotels in the world also boasts one of the best restaurants. Like the opulent hotel it occupies, Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant reflects total decadence: from the crystal chandeliers to the lavish marble interior, from the first extraordinary course to the last artfully-prepared dessert. A meal at this two-star Michelin restaurant is not just memorable; it's a once-in-a-lifetime event. This Christmas, Les Ambassadeurs features a special four-course Christmas menu at EUR 415 (exclusive of drinks).
No joke. Starwood has just announced an exclusive launch party for their aloft hotel brand with a "3-D computer generated property inside a virtual world." Preview the virtual aloft hotel in Second Life, the "virtual online world where trendsetters are flocking to exchange ideas, egos and virtual property using "avatars," or highly-customized 3D representations of themselves." Starwood's touting it as a "groundbreaking event," and Ben Folds will appear live at the virtual aloft to play brand new tracks from his upcoming release, supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp, due in stores October 24th. To attend the big bash, send an e-mail to frontdesk at virtualaloft.com and request a "VIP invitation." The launch party will take place on October 19th, from 7-9pm EDT. You can also check out the development and building progress for aloft on their blog.
Starting in January, Cathay Pacific will unveil some swanky cabin upgrades. First class-fliers will go gaga over the new seat that can be transformed from armchair, to chaise lounge, to bed (and an extra-long and wide one at that!) Business class passengers will appreciate the seats that recline to fully flat beds. And even the economy folks will enjoy a new seat, designed to let passengers recline without intruding on those seated behind them. (Plus economy fliers will get video and audio on-demand.) This is hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic's announcement—reported by the folks at Mobissimo—of the airline's $25 million investment for newly-designed seats.
Talk about a Grand Slam. Kiawah Island Golf Resort has been racking up the awards lately. It's been selected as the Best Golf Resort in the US by Travel and Leisure Golf. Readers of Travel and Leisure Family recently rated Kiawah as the Top Family Resort in the East. Golf Digest awarded the Ocean Course a perfect 5 stars rating in the "Best Places to Play," and Golf Magazine ranked the Ocean Course as No. 3 in the "Top 100 You Can Play," ahead of Pinehurst and Torrey Pines. And Tennis Magazine ranked Kiawah as the number one resort. Wow.
After $177 million in renovations since 1997, including the addition of the gorgeous luxury hotel The Sanctuary, Kiawah has dazzled its guests with gracious hospitality and superb facilities. Families are attracted to the excellent recreational activities, including beach, biking, tennis, and fabulous children's programs. And golfers are lured to the five world-championship courses, including the famed Ocean Course, recently redesigned by Pete Dye with a $4 million overhaul (the 18th green is now right next to the ocean). There's a brand new, 24,000 sq-foot Club House in the works, with wrap-around porches overlooking the dunes, slated to open in May 2007 in time for the PGA Senior Open Championship. Kiawah has a number of excellent Fall Golf Packages, which include three nights accommodations, breakfast and dinner, and all greens fees for three rounds of golf. Starting from $313, per person, per night.
Business taking you to Kazakhstan? (Rich oil, gas, and mineral reserves means rapid development for the country, and Almaty is now the economic heart of it all.) The city's finest hotel—the Regent—has recently been acquired by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, and will morph into the brand spanking new InterContinental Almaty this month. The 290-room hotel has long been a city landmark, situated across from the presidential palace, with beautiful mountain views. After a substantial refurbishment, the hotel will feature nine executive and two Presidential suites, oodles of dining options, a Spa and Turkish baths, and fully-equipped fitness center. Notably, the new hotel will boast the most extensive meeting and conference facilities in the city, including a ballroom with a capacity of 400.