October 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale's hip urban resort, is home to one of the most stellar restaurants in town. Recently praised by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of "America's Top Tables" and recognized in Phoenix Magazine as one of the "Best New Restaurants" of 2006, Cafe Zuzu serves contemporary American comfort food and handcrafted cocktails in an ultra-cool, retro setting. This Fall, the restaurant launched its Monday Nights Chef's Table, a gourmet extravaganza featuring one supplier, regional American Cuisine, one particular ingredient, paired with wine... every Monday night. Themes for November's Chef's Tables include "The Fleeting Fruit of Fall: Pomegranates, Persimmons, and Quince" (Nov 6) and "In Celebration of Oysters: The Best of Both Coasts" (Nov 27). Thanksgiving promises to be a feast to remember, with a delectable four-course menu including their famous slow-roasted Young's Farm turkey, awesome side dishes, and warm, fluffy Parkerhouse rolls. Mmmm.
Le Bar at Plaza Athenee is the place to be in the City of Light. Fashionable and sexy, Le Bar has become the city's contemporary and trendy meeting spot. Designed by hot Parisian designer Patrick Jouin, a former protégé of Philippe Starck, Le Bar is distinguished by a long illuminated bar-- sculpted with curve-shaped glass with an ice-blue lighting, resembling a luminous, glowing iceberg— and leather club chairs and large paintings whose frames allow patrons to actually sit inside and become part of the art. The drinks are likewise innovative; the bartender crafts delicious concoctions like Rose Royal (raspberry and champagne), Flower Power (flower elixir distilled in an oxygen-enriched 'eau de source'), and ice-cream drinks. A word of caution: celebrity-sightings galore.
Based in Geneva, PrivatAir is a private-jet charter airline which operates premium class jets exclusively for business class flights. Currently PrivatAir operates six days a week out of Zurich, Dusseldorf and Munich to Newark and Chicago on behalf of Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines. When it launched this service in 2002, PrivatAir revolutionized the concept of business class travel with the world's first intercontinental business-class-only service, with planes configured in a single business class for long routes. Come December, PrivatAir will take delivery of a long-range Boeing 767, equipped with 56 first-class seats and a dining room to seat eight. This joins a fleet of over 100 business jets ranging from light planes to big Boeing jets.
Embark on some exciting culinary adventures at The Peninsula Chicago, where Shanghai Terrace (specializing in Shanghainese and Cantonese delicacies) and the newly-renovated Avenues (contemporary cuisine served from an exhibition kitchen) woo diners with discriminating palates. With the Peninsula Chicago Cookery Classes, learn superb culinary skills from two of the top chefs in Chitown. The classes provide guests with the opportunity to prepare four signature dishes from either Shanghai Terrace or Avenues, recently named "Restaurant of the Year 2005" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Learn how to prepare mouth-watering dishes served in Avenues under the professional guidance of Graham Elliot Bowles, recently named one of the "Ten Best New Chefs" by Food and Wine magazine, and nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2006. Or master the craft behind Shanghai Terrace's delicious dishes-- from classic dim sum to kung pao chicken-- with Executive Chef Terry Crandall.
Since 1766, The Homestead has provided a luxurious escape for Princes, heads of state and sports fanatics. Located in Virginia's Allegheny mountains, the National Historic Landmark is now ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts. Folks have been flocking here since the 1700s to "take the waters" at the historic hot springs and naturally-heated pools. And they continue to flock to this timeless retreat to enjoy the world-class facilities and beautiful setting. It's the ideal spot to start or preserve a family tradition (The Homestead makes it easy with endless activities for the whole family to enjoy). Here's the skinny on all the fun holiday happenings:
Big Band Weekend: November 10-12, 2006. Dining, dancing and absolute luxury packages starting at just $314
Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebration: Special dining, holiday events and plenty of holiday spirit. Packages starting at $295.
New Year's Eve Celebration: A year that starts this way is sure to be a great one. Dance, dine and celebrate the arrival of 2007! Packages start at $375.
Mile Marker 84 marks the halfway point between Miami and Key West on the gorgeous stretch of highway that links the Florida Keys archipelago. It's also the location of the self-proclaimed, "Sport Fishing Capital of the World" (aka Islamorada). The surrounding turquoise waters boast the only tropical coral reef in the continental US. And this heavenly little spot will soon feature a Greek-themed, five-star luxury fishing resort called Ocanos. Located on 12-acres on the current site of the Holiday Isle Resort, the oceanfront Ocanos Resort will offer 151 condominium suites overlooking the sea, a sandy beach, oceanfront infinity pool, tennis, 11,000 square-foot spa and wellness center, retail shops, and world-class marina. Slated to open in early 2008.
Image Via FloridaKeys.com
One of the newest members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Hotel Maximilian is a luxurious contemporary hideaway in the heart of Prague. Located just a few steps from the Old Town Square, situated on Haštalská (perhaps the oldest street in Prague), the hotel was recently refurbished and designed by Eva Jiricna, the world-renowned architect. Interiors combine Art Deco, Modernism, and contemporary design; the hotel is graced with chrome, glass, wood, and—in the lobby—a large wall of onyx. The 70 guest rooms are comfortable, contemporary, and wholly luxurious, equipped with the latest technology and amenities. And then there's the Floating Center. Relax in a 7-meter shell-shaped bath enriched with natural crystals and experience the Dead-Sea-Effect: utter weightlessness and deep relaxation after a long flight or day of sightseeing (or business meetings). The downstairs Spa also boasts the Sabai Massage Studio, featuring traditional Thai massage.
While Dubai has become marked by unceasing construction (the hotels cropping up at an increasingly frenetic pace), the Gulf-facing country of Bahrain boasts similar awe-inspiring landscapes and pleasant climate. As suggested by the savvy travelers at The Observer:
Being an early adopter of a new destination can dramatically reduce your bill. Rather than glitzy Dubai, for example, consider the island of Bahrain. It has many of the same qualities (and fewer cranes) and is still looking to entice tourists rather than profit from them.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Villas and Spa is the natural choice for luxury travelers. Situated on the north coast of Bahrain on the seafront of Manama, the 245-room hotel is located within a lush 20-acre urban resort complex which boasts its own private island. The newly-renovated rooms feature panoramic ocean views overlooking the Arabian Gulf. White sand beach, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gorgeous spa with Thalassotherapy pool, kid's club, and nine restaurants and bars… the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain's got it all.
Announcing the 1 Hotel and Residences, the brainchild of Barry Sternlicht, former big shot at Starwood. (As HotelChatter points out, this is the same mastermind behind the yet-to-be-seen Crillon lux hotel brand.) The new hotel brand aims to compete directly with the St. Regis (Starwood's lux label), Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons brands. And Sternlicht's setting his sights high: these hotels will have a "level of amenities and service lofty enough to earn a coveted five-star ranking from Mobil Travel Guide." Hotel launch locations will include Seattle, Scottsdale, Paris, Mammoth Mountain (Cali), and Fort Lauderdale. It's a crowded field. In South Florida, for example, the St. Regis Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Residences has been under construction since 2000 and is expected to open soon, and other luxury properties—including hotels by Trump and W—are in the works. (Not to mention the already existing five-star hotels.) How will 1 Hotels distinguish itself? It's being billed as the first ultra-luxurious, eco-friendly global hotel brand. 1 is planning to donate one percent of revenue from each hotel to local environmental groups, and the NRDC will serve as the environmental adviser.
Pictured: St. Regis, Fort Lauderdale
Ride through the snow-covered parks in a traditional Russian troika. Gape at the wondrous art collection at the Hermitage, the gorgeous palace from which the tsars ruled the Empire. Attend a spectacular ballet performance at the world-renowned Mariinsky Theater. With a plethora of concert and opera performances, and cafes and bars abuzz with warmth and good cheer, St. Pete's offers the world's ultimate winter experience. Stake a room at Rocco Forte's Hotel Astoria and experience the elegance and refinement of the city's finest five-star hotel. It's location couldn't be more perfect: situated opposite the St Isaac's Cathedral in the heart of St Petersburg, just a short walk from the Hermitage. There's caviar and chilled vodka aplenty at The Caviar Bar in the hotel's Davidov restaurant, and the Spa by Clarins has a sauna, steam, and four treatment rooms.
The White Days package at the Hotel Astoria features the city's top cultural experiences, dining, and entertainment, including entrance tickets to the Hermitage, "Russian table" at Davidov restaurant, three-hour city tour in English, and massage at the spa, three nights luxurious accommodations and buffet breakfast. Starting from EUR 525 per person in a Classic Double Room. Available from November 15, 2006 to March 31, 2007 (excluding the days around New Years).