July 27, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Argentina's cosmopolitan capital has been high on the traveler's "it" list in recent years. Sizzling with style and sexiness, oozing sophistication, Buenos Aires is the place to be. What's more-- the city is incredibly affordable, so a night on the town-- pretty-people watching at tango parlors, indulging in an embarrassingly inexpensive feast-- can be had for a song. Not to mention the shopping. Stock up on beautiful, high-quality leather goods for a fraction of their cost in the U.S. Where to stay in the most sensual city on earth? The Palacio Duhau, built in 1934 by French architect Leon Dourge, is one of the few remaining palaces representing the city's traditional Porteña aristocracy. Located in the fashionable Recoleta district on Avenida Alvear, the hotel seamlessly blends B.A.'s legendary old time glamour with 21st century design and cutting edge technology. Duck into the Vinoteca to taste marvelous vintages from a formidable selection: 350 different labels, 3,500 bottles of Argentine wines featuring the best Argentine Malbecs. Wines are paired with dried fruits, homemade breads and marmalades, air dried ham, and the best artisanal cheeses selected by the Maitre Fromager in the Cheese Room.
Beneath a lotus pool floating above treetops, high above Bali's sacred Ayung River, discover a luxurious paradise nestled in the jungle. At Four Seasons Resort at Sayan, cooking classes offer a hands-on approach to the exotic world of Balinese cooking. During an escorted excursion to the local market, lucky guests marvel at the abundant selection of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices. After the chef conducts a tour of the gardens to show the herbs grown on-site, participants partake in an informative class in the Ayung Terrace kitchen. But the cooking class isn't the only thing delighting visitors to Bali's Four Seasons at Sayan. Enormous suites and private villas offer a tropical haven with Indonesian furnishings and local handmade fabrics. The two-level swimming pool, designed to follow the river's natural contours, is surrounded by a wooden deck from where guests gape at the views. With hot and cold plunge pools, outdoor bathing pavilions, and courtyard gardens, the spa is infused with elegant Balinese architecture throughout. Treatments focus on the rejuvenating elements found in nature: earthen clays, mountain botanicals and warming spices.
To discover the extraordinary diversity of Bali, pair your visit with a stay at Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay. From now until September 30, 2007, enjoy a $250 resort credit at both resorts (with a minimum four-night stay).
It's official. Five Star Alliance, the leading online travel agency for luxury hotels, has released the annual "World's Best Luxury Hotels" lists. Our crew of somewhat obsessive luxury hotel fans gives recs so often, we decided it's important to share that info with the world. Along with the company's expertise, the criteria used to select the World's Best Luxury Hotels includes honest feedback from Five Star Alliance clients and the popularity of hotels. Since Five Star Alliance only focuses only luxury hotels, these picks are truly la crème de la crème.
The world's most luxurious hotels are selected for eight categories, including Luxury Beach Resorts, Business Hotels, Luxury Honeymoon Resorts, Luxury Golf Resorts, Luxury Spa Resorts, Luxury Ski Resorts, Luxury Resorts for Families, and Romantic Resorts.
Do you have a favorite that didn't make our lists? After checking them out, come back and discuss your favorites with us! (You'll find a link for comments at the bottom of each list.)
A little piece of Paris with a South African setting that is second to none, Hôtel Le Vendôme is a boutique hotel brimming with Old World charm. Located in the cosmopolitan suburb of Sea Point overlooking the Atlantic coast, just a quick drive from the center of Cape Town, Le Vendôme offers the ideal base to explore the acclaimed winelands and Cape Peninsula. Pass through the rooms of the hotel, and step through symbols of Parisian opulence: the Salon Le Concorde, Rive Gauche (the gastronomique restaurant where plates are complemented with superb international and local wines), Le Cygne (for a lighter meal by the pool), Le Louvre (a magnificent suite on the executive floor), Le Petit Palais (the hotel's best suite)... Each of the 143 rooms are sumptuous and chic, individually designed with French panache. Relax by the sparkling pool, or treat yourself royally in Le Salon Chantilly, the perfect milieu for High Tea, an aperitif, or a cognac and cigar.
These days, the adolescent set is defining a whole new list of top indulgences. Technology may be one thing (iPods, cell phones, MySpace, oh my!), but spa treatments are also topping the list. At Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont, a slew of teenage requests at the award-winning spa has inspired treatments specifically geared toward teens. Among the most popular: the Teen Tune-Up, where one-on-one time with a certified personal trainer means serious results. The focus is on strength training, flexibility, and cardio conditioning, and trainers also help devise home-care routines for nutrition and exercise. The Total Teen Facial involves deep cleansing, toning, steam, mask, extractions and a facial massage for faces on the grow. There's even a Teen Massage. Little wonder the spa at Topnotch has been ranked in the top ten resort spas by both SpaFinder and Conde Nast Traveler.
Imagine: splurging on $500 worth of meals at the fabulous Relais Gourmands restaurants, which together garnered over 300 Michelin stars in 2006. (The Inn at Little Washington-- pictured at right-- is a member, described by Zagat as "the gastronomic equivalent of sex.") The line-up of celebrity chefs at Relais and Chateaux is nothing short of staggering: Daniel Boulud, Heston Blumenthal, Hélène Darroze, Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer, Charlie Trotter and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Celebrate l'art de vivre and enter the draw for the $500 gift certificate. Register by phone before September 10, 2007 by calling 877-334-6464.
Just a hop from the Spanish Steps in the middle of Rome, the terraced gardens of Hotel de Russie provide a tranquil refuge amidst the bustle of the Eternal City. Dine al fresco or stroll through the Butterfly Oasis, created in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund. (The graceful insects are an extremely rare sight in inner city gardens.) Rocco Forte's five-star luxury hotel is also known for its health club and spa, one of Rome's best with hydropool, Jacuzzi, Turkish steam bath, and gym. Hotel de Russie is within easy walking distance of the best this ancient city has to offer. With the "Art of Shopping" package, guests can enjoy the heady pleasure of discovering Rome's fashion houses while being pampered at Hotel de Russie. Package includes two nights accommodation, daily buffet breakfast, welcome gift in-room by a renowned designer, a post-shopping aperitif at the fashionable Stravinskii Bar, and an unforgettable foot massage at the famous de Russie Wellness Zone. Priced from EUR 663 until August 31, 2007, and EUR 841 from September 1- October 31, 2007.
There's a reason this tiny gem has racked up so many accolades and is noted on "It Lists" the world over. The latest from the Hospes Group, Spain's hippest hotelier which also runs the chic Hotel Lancaster in Paris, Hospes Palacio del Bailío is a 16th century palace turned design hotel. Surrounded by the architectural marvels of the city of Córdoba, the eighth century seat of the Moorish caliphate, the hotel itself is a stylish mix of contemporary luxury and fine historical details, like vaulted ceilings, beautiful frescoes, and 15th century doors. Indeed, in the atrium, a glass floor reveals a Roman villa that was unearthed beneath the building's foundations. There are 53 rooms and suites with sleek bathrooms, a courtyard swimming pool, Roman baths and signature Bodyna spa, and tapas bar and gourmet restaurant. Step outside and discover the riches of Córdoba, a UNESCO World Heritage site and ancient crossroads where narrow cobblestone streets wind past whitewashed walls and Moorish monuments.
Discover the historical town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A mélange of cultural influences-- Native American roots, Spanish colonization, and Southwest spirit-- has created a city brimming with charm-- a mecca for artists. At La Posada de Santa Fe, this vibrant Southwestern culture is manifest in the details: adobe-style accommodations adorned with beautiful local artwork, kiva fireplaces, signature cuisine at Fuego restaurant, and Southwest-inspired spa treatments at the luxurious Avanyu Spa. Located in the very heart of the city, the award-winning hotel sprawls over six landscaped acres, a stunning garden oasis. Book the Bed and Breakfast package at La Posada de Santa Fe, the city's finest hotel, and enjoy one night's accommodations, daily $30 breakfast voucher, valet parking, and unlimited use of the RockResorts Spa steam and fitness rooms. Starting from $325 per night, until October 20, 2007. Priced from $231 per night from October 21- December 22, 2007.
This summer, escape to the OC for some sun and surf. Experience Bay Bliss at the award-winning Balboa Bay Club and Resort, the only waterfront luxury resort in Newport Beach. Starting from just $305 per night, your personalized package includes luxurious accommodations and your choice of amenities: lunch for two at The First Cabin, manicure or pedicure in Loran Loran salon, 25 minute massage or facial, or one hour duffy boat rental. For some serious family fun, book the Disney Package and get two Disneyland tickets, rental car for the day, and box lunch in addition to two nights accommodations. In the evening (seven days a week!), enjoy live music on the waterfront at Duke's Place. And on Sundays, guests can indulge in BBQ Sunday nights on Duke's patio. Refreshing summer cocktails accompany all your favorites like delectable baby back ribs, carved-mesquite grilled beef tri tips, and fresh grilled free-range chicken. Don't miss the new Sunday European Breakfast Buffet, with a mouth-watering selection of special entrees like Eggs Benedict with Sauce Choron, Roasted Boneless Pork Loin, Prosciutto and Rare Roast Beef as well as hot and cold plate items and beverages.