January 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
HotelChatter gives us the scoop about the Waldorf, just as the Hilton Hotel Corp. announces its new lux brand: The Waldorf-Astoria collection. The timing couldn't be worse. Now the Grand Wailea, Arizona Biltmore, and La Quinta Resort and Club, along with New York's legendary hotel-- slated to be newly managed by Hilton under this exclusive new brand-- will be stained by the very same Waldorf name. Talk about a PR nightmare.
Rumor has it that Acqualina-- the exquisite new boutique resort from Rosewood-- will open its doors for guests in February. Located in Sunny Isles, Florida, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Acqualina is billed as a European architectural masterpiece (everybody's talkin!). Indeed, the resort's got it all: two-storey oceanfront spa, private beach club, superb dining, poolside cabanas and three gorgeous pools to choose from-- depending on your mood (will that be the infinity pool or tranquility?) The long-awaited debut was originally scheduled for November 2005, so I'm not holding my breath for an ontime opening.
Acqualina, Official Site
Acqualina, Five Star Alliance
The award-winning hotel is back and (almost) ready for action. After Hurricane Wilma took out most of Cancun's hotels and sweeping white sand beaches, construction and renovation has been nonstop, and this gem is set to open on May 1. Luxurious oceanfront suites with balconies, an elegant spa, rooftop tennis, and plenty of golf nearby... located smack in the middle of Cancun's Hot Hotel Zone. Welcome back.
Redeem awards for unrestricted travel on any airline? Or take those miles and stock up on goods like iPods, Bose sound systems or lux spa treatments? No, this is not a joke. Just when almost every other airline out there has raised the number of awards necessary to get a free ticket (and upped the blackout dates), Eos-- the premium airline I've obsessed over before-- has introduced a brilliant frequent-flyer program. Both Travel Weekly and the Online Travel Review are talking it up this week. (And it's easy to understand why.)
Racing, ski jumping, chariot racing, snowboarding jam session, ski jöring events down Lincoln Avenue: the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival takes over the entire town come February. And it's a spectacle you won't want to miss. After all, it's been around for 93 years (that's the oldest Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi!) and is sponsored by the oldest winter sports club in the US of A! And of course there's the much-anticipated nighttime event, featuring the legendary "Lighted Man" (one of the famous exhibitionists, clad in a glowing suit of lightbulbs, launches fireworks as he skis down the mountain). Intrigued? Get yourself to Steamboat Feb 8-12!
Abu Dhabi plays catch up with the incredible development going on in nearby Dubai, with the latest AED 800 million project, dubbed BTB (that's Between the Bridges, guys). Due to open in Feb 2007, the complex will be packed with luxury villas, executive apartments, and a five star hotel. That's music to our ears.
Four Seasons has set up camp (literally) in Thailand's mysterious Golden Triangle (didn't this used to be scary, opium-producing backcountry?) It seems the hotelier is jumping on the "rustic luxury" bandwagon, catering to a crowd that yearns for adventure, yet can't do without the spa touch of Four Seasons. Thus you can mount an elephant, raft down the Mekong, and meet the local hill tribes-- and return at night to one of 15 Four Seasons tents, with hand-hammered copper bathtubs (imagine hauling that into the wilderness on the back of some beast-of-burden), down pillows and supersized robes, and wifi access. Yep, you heard that right. A riverbank tent with wifi and multi-line phones. Other swank services include five-course dining, spa, and free-form pool.
The aging resort and casino sits on some 63 acres of prime Strip-front property, and the Boyd Gaming Corp. sees four sparkling, new hotels (including a Shangri-La) where Stardust's decrepit 1,500 rooms used to be. The developers will welcome Echelon Place—the $4 billion complex with 5,300 rooms, spas, casino, restaurants and bars, meeting facilities and a 4,000-seat theater– in 2010. Besides the Shangri-La, the Morgans Hotel Group (of Mondrian and Delano fame) is keen on the scene.
In honor of Dr. King, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is offering free admission all day long. Opened in 1992, the Institute offers the best, most comprehensive and moving exhibitions on the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. A walk through the galleries—past replicas of segregated streetcars and fountains, a replica of the bombed and scarred Freedom Riders' bus, films and media presentations—is a journey through the events of the 1960s and the struggle for equality and racial justice. Importantly, the exhibitions highlight the Civil Rights Movement in relation to the ongoing international human rights movement today.
Heading to The Breakers? Here's an invitation you won't want to miss. The interactive evenings at Echo feature four course dinners, with a half-price specialty drink to complement the cuisine, $60 per person. The most popular dishes prepared before your eyes. First up: The Art of Thai Cooking, this Wednesday, January 18. Followed by a Vietnamese Valentine (the day after on February 15), and lastly, an evening of delicious Japanese cuisine on Wednesday, March 15.