August 24, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Maldives is almost bursting at the seams with swanky hotels. From the One & Only to the W Retreat and Spa, The Maldives are the islands du jour. Now Conrad has announced an exciting rebranding of the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa Rangali, which will move under the Conrad umbrella of luxury hotels starting December 18, 2007. Renowned for its attentive service and breathtaking natural beauty, the resort is an idyllic piece of paradise, situated on two islands enclosed by a coral reef and lagoon. Spa aficionados will be thrilled by the spas-- as there are two, one on each island, with different product ranges and philosophies. Experience sophisticated barefoot luxury at this romantic retreat. Dive and snorkel the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, take Pilates and yoga classes, plan an excursion island hopping on the resort's private yacht.
The Vegas restaurant scene is seriously mind-blowing. The best chefs in the world have been lured to the desert to open the finest restaurants anywhere. Case in point: Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace, the first Vegas restaurant to be given the prestigious "Best New Restaurant 2004" award by the James Beard Foundation. Famed Bay Area chef Bradley Ogden, mastermind behind One Market in SF and The Lark Creek Inn across the bridge in Marin County, opened his first restaurant outside California at Caesars Palace where it promptly won the Mobil Four-Star award. His new take on classic farm fresh American cuisine earned Ogden national acclaim and a host of top culinary awards. His Vegas restaurant is "a sure bet" in the city, to quote Mobil. "High rollers may still rule the poker tables in Vegas, but the true winners are those who reserve a dining table at Bradley Ogden."
The old port city of Marseilles, thriving since the Greeks from Asia Minor established a settlement in 600 B.C., has a chic, new hotel which landed a spot on Conde Nast Traveler's 2007 Hot List. The New Hotel of Marseille- Le Pharo is close to the Vieux Port and just five minutes walk from the city center. A high design hotel, Le Pharo is splashed with color and bold graphics. In the "Victor Kitchen Garden," guests are delighted to discover the aromatic herbs, tomatoes, chilies and peppers which supply the hotel's kitchen, overseen by Jérôme Polio, a disciple of Alain Ducasse. Filled with contemporary art, the hotel is sleek and highly refined. There are 100 rooms, "Le Victor Café" restaurant with a summer terrace, a bar, and a wood-decked swimming pool with solarium. The lobby is a mix of genres, built inside the 19th century Institut Pasteur, and linked to the ultra-modern main building by a long glass corridor.
The beloved luxury hotel brand is making waves with a host of new hotel openings in the next few years, and it looks like Costa Rica--the world's premier destination for eco-tourism-- is getting a luxury addition. Mandarin Oriental, Costa Rica will open in 2009 in the Guanacaste province, known for its beautiful Pacific coastline, stunning volcanoes, excellent hiking, and bird (and monkey) watching. Situated just 25 minutes from the Liberia airport, the 130-room beach resort will be the cornerstone of a gated golf and residential development called Rancho Manzanillo. Leisure activities will include an 18-hole Fred Couples Signature Championship golf course, 20,000 square foot spa, multi-level outdoor swimming pools, water sports from the resort's natural beach, and exotic wildlife viewing from the property's 200 acres of protected tropical dry forest. The best part of all? The Tree House Suites, nestled high in the canopy of Guanacaste trees.
Shangri-La continues to raise the bar for Asian luxury hotels with the launch of CHI, The Spa at two additional properties. After successful launches in Bangkok, Beijing and Pudong Shanghai, the spa brand CHI will open in hotels in Guangzhou, China and Manila, The Philippines. Guests go gaga over the signature spa services inspired by Chinese and Himalayan healing philosophies, along with traditions associated with each specific hotel destination. In Manila, for example, the treatment menu features Hilot, a healing massage based on Filipino folk medicine, and Dagdagay, a traditional foot massage using bamboo sticks practiced by indigenous mountain tribes in the Philippines. The spa also offers rejuvenating body scrubs like the Himalayan Goji Red Berry Scrub and Tropical Coconut Scrub. CHI spas are tranquil retreats, modeled on the "spa within a spa concept" so that each private suite is a refuge in and of itself. Each suite offers herbal steam rooms, infinity baths with color therapy, rain showers, and vanity areas. The Lotus Pond is a striking architectural feature unique to CHI spas. As guests are led to their treatment suites they come to a serene pool adorned with dramatic, sculptural flora. (Pictured at right.)
The newly opened Melenos Lindos has already been listed on Travel and Leisure's 2007 "It List." Inspired by 17th century Lindos architecture, this Aegean clifftop hotel is set among picturesque gardens overlooking the sparkling bay. The historical backdrop of small winding streets and the magnificent Lindian Acropolis is just as magical as this lovely gem of a hotel. Described as "a village within a village," the 12 white stucco guest rooms are connected by terraces decorated with pebble mosaics. An abundance of artifacts from Turkey and Greece are found throughout the hotel. There are sea-view terraces from the beautifully furnished suites, an open-air restaurant serving the freshest Mediterranean cuisine, and all the latest luxury amenities.
The National Historic Landmark of The Homestead, ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts, is a family favorite. Nestled in Virginia's Allegheny mountains, The Homestead boasts historic hot springs and naturally heated pools, in addition to its myriad recreational activities. Enjoy the elegance and style of Southern Accents Magazine and the 2007 Southern Accents Showhouse all wrapped into two special weekends at The Homestead Resort. The Homestead Preserve and The Homestead Resort have teamed up with the magazine to offer two distinctively different weekends that both feature design seminars and tours of the Showhouse. The Showhouse is conveniently located just two miles from The Homestead Resort. The weekend rate starts at $980; September 21-23 and November 2-4, 2007.
Tis the season. For holidays on the coast of Maine, that is. Chances are rooms at the award-winning White Barn Inn have been booked solid for months. But a Fall getaway at this "achingly romantic destination" will restore the spirits and-- to quote Zagat-- "stay in your memory forever." The ideal base to explore the breathtaking Maine coastline, The White Barn Inn is built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's. The restaurant is equally as noteworthy as the cottage-style accommodations, simply brimming with accolades. The finest New England cuisine is paired with delicious wines from the impressive 7,000-bottle cellar. An experience at The Inn is distinguished by its level of service-- from the valets to the bath butlers. Luxuriate in a plush bathrobe, indulge in massage therapy by the heated swimming pool, soak in a perfect, butler-drawn bath. The White Barn Inn offers the best of Maine.
The grape harvest is fast upon us in North America-- the perfect time to pay a visit to the romantic vineyards of Washington's Woodinville region. Escape to Willows Lodge, just 20 minutes from Seattle, and indulge in a culinary extravaganza at one of the most highly-rated restaurants in the Northwest, a stroll through award-winning wineries, and all the civilized comforts of a magical luxury lodge. Oenophiles will delight in Western Washington's wine and culinary destination of choice; Woodinville is currently home to nearly two dozen wineries and many are open for daily tasting including Columbia Winery, Silver Lake Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle. Situated on five exquisitely landscaped acres that border the Sammamish River, Willows Lodge features 84 rooms and suites, a full-service spa with outdoor Jacuzzi, and The Herbfarm Restaurant, rated one of the Top 50 Restaurants in America.
PS. Willows Lodge is pet friendly! The WVIP (Willows Very Important Pet) program means special amenities for four-legged friends including a doggie room service menu specially prepared by Seattle's Three Dog Bakery, map and directions for pet and owner walks, and doggie bed with turn down service (and a night time raw hide bone).
An African safari wouldn't be complete without a stop-over at the Indian Ocean hot spot of Zanzibar. The archipelago is just a hop from the mainland, and entices visitors with its rich history and aquamarine waters. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of ancient Stone Town is buzzing with bright bazaars, redolent with the scent of cloves. Wander the narrow streets and marvel at the Portuguese, Arab, Dutch, and English cultural influences. The place to stay is the Zanzibar Serena Inn, the perfect base to explore the atmospheric streets of the town. Idyllically situated on the sea front, the hotel is a haven of opulence amidst the bustle of the town. Each guest room is a cool, white enclave, constructed in the traditional design of a Swahili house, adorned with traditionally carved furniture, cool-ceramics, intricate fretwork, and draped beds. Lovely doors open onto wrought-iron balconies overlooking the Persian-bath pool and azure bay beyond.