April 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Guests have gone gaga over a mother duck and her expected brood, nesting in a planter box outside the hotel, forcing the chef to remove the succulent duck breast from the menu at Fahrenheit restaurant. Until the eleven eggs have hatched and the duckies depart for the nearby Potomac River, the entree will remain off the menu. In the meantime, the mallard is under 24 hour surveillance by the hotel concierge, who has secured the area with velvet rope, and hotel security makes frequent nest-checks. According to the Washington Post, the duck's getting "bottled Ritz water to drink and cracked corn to eat -- both served in a silver Ritz bowl."
That's not all. As reported by UPI:
Bartenders at the hotel's bar created a special cocktail called the "Duck Duck Goose" with Grey Goose L'Orange vodka, pineapple juice, a splash of Grenadine and a splash of Sprite. And hotel guests now get a small Ritz-Carlton rubber ducky at evening turn down.
Get this. By the end of 2006, the friendly skies will be transformed by a new type of aircraft: the Very Light Jet. The VLJ (God bless Wikipedia) is "smaller and lighter than conventional business jets and defined by some aviators as jet aircraft with a minimum take-off weight less than 10,000 lbs and approved for single-pilot operation." The media is abuzz: these babies will be cheaper to operate than conventional jets and are highly maneuverable-- shorter runways are no sweat, providing access to airfields that the conventional business jet often can't reach. Talk about making inroads in aviation technology. Eclipse Aviation has launched its Eclipse 500, one of the first of the VLJs to undergo flight testing:
The Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ)-- the category of jet we created-- is loaded with capability and functionality, yet is priced less than any other competitive jet and has the lowest operating cost per mile of any jet.
The Eclipse 500 has a maximum cruise speed of 375 knots, it can carry up to six occupants, and has a generous range of 1,280 nautical miles. A 41,000-foot ceiling avoids most severe weather, and this extraordinary jet gives you access to more than 10,000 airports in the U.S. So the question is never, "Where can't you go?" but rather, "Where do you want to go?"
Talk about luxury for less. With the new VLJ, Jane and Joe can fly privately at competitive, economic prices.
from Julie A. Skrei, Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa & Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa
Exactly 12 Hours from this moment (12 noon EST), The Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas will host it's Grand Opening (and grand offers) in the master-planned community of Summerlin, Las Vegas. And the newest good news to hit this $925 million resort is the "CHERRY" night club operated by Rande Gerber and his brother Scott, founders of After Midnight Company (and of course family to Cindy Crawford).
CHERRY was designed with NYC's Rockwell Group, featuring art such as the 7-foot sculpture of red cherries from Takashi Murakami. The club encompasses 8,500-square-feet with an indoor nightclub and outdoor pool deck, electric red leather walls, translucent crimson glass doors and mirrored entranceway leaging to the oval shaped venue. Guests can find the club directly off the casino and pool where there are hanging domes and beaded chandelier.
Some of CHERRY's coolest/strangest/weirdest features include:
• Snakeskin tile mosaics in the bathrooms
• Glass, red hot, pouting lips from Holland for the "gentleman's" urinals
• VIP areas overlookign the dance floor with banquette seating, flat screen TVs and steel cocktail tables
• Pool deck seperate from the casino pool, with rotating sun beds and individual daybeds in private areas
• Eight large VIP cabanas with plasma TVs, stereos, refridgerators, fans and private bars adjacent to the pool
• Exclusive house DJs featuring eclectic mix of music, with occasional celebrity DJs (no woner they need the VIP sections)
• The most advanced lighting and sound system ever created for a club worldwide - which took more then a year to develop and months to program
Five Star Alliance still has rates available for the Red Rock Casino these next few months, including Deluxe Canyon Rooms with Red Rock Canyon Views and a Special Breakfast for 2 in the Feast Buffet for as little as $149.00 a night, double occupancy.
For Gentlemen Only: A Luxury Grooming Tradition Returns March 3, 2006
New Las Vegas Hotels: Red Rock Station December 19, 2005
George Clooney’s Las Ramblas, Las Vegas November 10, 2005
Rosewood's newest luxury addition is a Cali Valley girl. CordeValle-- derived from the Spanish "El Corazon del Valle" or "Heart of the Valley"-- is an exclusive retreat that should maybe be dubbed "the heart of nowhere." We're talking at least 30 minutes from San Jose, and 45 minutes north of the Monterey Peninsula. So what makes the trek to the Cali Valley worth it? Amidst the rolling hills of the California countryside, CordeValle is like a luxurious country club with a world-class golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., fabulous spa, tennis courts, pool, and on-site vineyard. Choose from bungalow accommodations, fairway homes, or private villas-- all with killer views of the Santa Cruz foothills and surrounding meadowlands. Amenities are hardly lacking: goose-down comforters and Frette linens, flat screen TV, fireplace, patio, walk-in closets, high speed Internet access, and separate shower and whirlpool bath. This private sanctuary is yours for the taking: play some golf, retreat to the spa, or take to the hills for some superb hiking on the property's 1,700 acres of canyons, meadows and forests.
CordeValle, A Rosewood Hotel, Five Star Alliance
from Jonathan Critchard, General Manager, Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments
Last summer Five Star Alliance did a big push to make sure people were aware of the popular £ for $ rate, and once again many of the London hotel's are including it in their special offers. The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in London's fashionable Mayfair district is continuing the program through the city's busiest travel period. The rate represents a substantial savings of more than 40% on the hotel’s most popular room categories. Add that to the hotel's August offer of guaranteed upgrades for travelers booking their stay during the month of August, and you really are getting a deal. Guests booking a traditional guest-room get bumped to an executive, booking an executive guest-room gets you a park-view and any category of suite (park-view or studio) gets you one of the Classic British Collection apartments (see below). Under the £ for $ rate – valid weekdays as well as weekends -- a traditional guestroom that usually cost £295 is now $295; an executive guestroom costing £350 is now $350; a Parkview room costing £395 is now $395; and suites that usually are £500 are now $500. These special rates are subject to availability, based on double occupancy and exclusive of taxes. To get this deal, make sure your rate description includes the term "Pound for Dollar Rate" or something similar.
Classic British Collection -- This collection of 19 apartments are designed in a classically British style with plush furnishings, traditional wall-coverings and fabric from British interior design stalwarts such as Colefax and Fowler, Osbourne & Little and Nina Campbell.
P.S. The image above is of the brand spankin new Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments logo. What do you think?
Travelers to Ireland can now combine the decadent pampering of Dublin's most luxurious hotel with a trekking adventure in the scenic mountains on the country's East Coast. The award-winning Merrion Hotel (the location of Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant) has teamed up with Dirty Boots Treks to offer guests a two-day break to explore these remote mountains, just an hour's drive from the city. Hikers enjoy the day's spectacular landscape at their own pace, stop for a delicious homemade lunch, and finish the trek in a cozy Irish country pub. (All hiking gear is provided.) Return to the hotel for a well-earned spa treatment at the world-class Tethra Spa. Package rates are EUR 770 per couple for a two-night stay, including full Irish breakfast daily, available through November 25.
The Merrion, Five Star Alliance
Destination: Orlando. Don your Mickey Mouse ears, grab your Orlando Magicard, and hit the parks. The amusement park hub of the world promises fun in the sun (along with stress in the lines pre-ride, and dizziness--and possible death-- apres nausea-inducing ride). And now Florida's Funland is getting bigger and badder than ever, with luxury hotels cropping up like the migraines at Epcot. The Hilton Orlando Convention Center is slated for 2009, with construction starting this year. With 18 storeys and 1,400 rooms, the hotel will be connected by a pedestrian sky bridge to the Convention Center's North Concourse. With a whopping 130,000 square feet of meeting space, the new Hilton is certainly "poised to take advantage of a booming Orlando convention market." Not to be outdone, InterContinental is plotting its largest hotel worldwide-- the InterContinental Resort and Residences Orlando-- within the $800 million luxury destination resort dubbed Palazzo del Lago. Comprised of luxury hotel and condo units, the waterfront Palazzo will also be an appendage of the Convention Center, competing with the Hilton for an on-time 2009 debut.
Surf in Europe?! You betcha. Complete with bros and babes and board(ie) shops galore. Forget the Cote d'Azur-- in the summer months, Biarritz is where it's at. Europe's surf mecca is also a chic Atlantic resort town, steeped in the rich history and culture of the Basque country, just ten miles from the border with Spain. Before surfers discovered Europe's best break and catapulted Biarritz to the world's top ranking surf spots, 18th century doctors recommended the seaside climate as therapeutic for sick patients, who made the haul from all over Europe. The cat was out of the bag, and royalty and high-rollers inevitably followed the herd to this Atlantic paradise. In 1854, the wife of Napoleon III-- Empress Eugenie-- constructed an elegant and stately Palace on the beach, where guests continue to descend today for unparalled luxury. Following the tradition of art de vivre, the Hotel du Palais continues to indulge its privileged guests with elegant refinement, luxurious touches and impeccable service.
Hotel du Palais, Five Star Alliance
Andrew Harper drooled over the fashionable Leopard Lounge, naming it the Hotel Bar of the Year. Leading Small Hotels of the World decided this pad is the Best Hotel in Europe (2005). Not too shabby for a lakeside pied a terre that dates from 1872. In fact, most of the world's remaining royalty (and folks that just feel like kings and queens) concur that the hotel's 39 rooms and suites provide the best accommodations in Switzerland's largest city, and perhaps the world over. Balconies provide heart-stopping views over Lake Geneva, the Jet d'Eau and the towering peaks of Mont Blanc. (And the Presidential Suite, rest assured, has bullet proof windows, among other amenities.) From May 10 through the end of the year, the Hotel d'Angleterre is offering a Suite Dreams package, for a luxurious weekend of indulgence. The package includes Junior suite lake view accommodations, buffet breakfast daily, afternoon tea, Aroma therapy set, and in room champagne upon arrival. Starting at CHF 1,590 for two people.
Hotel d'Angleterre, Five Star Alliance
The NYT reports on the phenomenal building boom that is transforming Shanghai at a feverish pace. My recent memory of Shanghai (2004)-- a landscape ravaged by industry, blanketed by pollution, and marked by strangely toxic sunsets over the Bund but also steeped in fascinating history and culture-- is barreling towards an unrecognizable future. The biggest city on Earth is about to get a whole lot bigger: host to the biggest ports, one of the biggest automobile factories, the biggest shipyard, Asia's largest shopping mall, and mammoth, futuristic skyscrapers dominating the Pudong riverfront. Shanghai's got its eye on surpassing New York in magnitude, size, and industrial infrastructure. And the trends I noticed a few years ago-- skyscrapers shooting up as quickly as bamboo stalks, the neon hovering and enormous in the smog, the transformation of the cosmopolitan face of modern China-- will continue at breakneck speed. As reported by the NYT, conservationists and critics bemoan the city's cultural losses: the architecture and personality of a city that has such a storied history, including its 19th century imperial division into autonomous colonial possessions, each ruled by the Brits, French and Americans. Historical neighborhoods of winding alleyways, open air markets and rich, authentic street life are set to be demolished.
Like China's capital, which is undergoing a crash rebuilding program in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Shanghai is using its role as host of the World Expo to shift what had already been a hugely ambitious remake into high gear. By the standards of recent urban development projects in the West — the so-called Big Dig in Boston, say — the scale of what the city is undertaking is astounding.
Along the western banks of the Huangpu River, site of the historic Bund thoroughfare, a 2,000-plus-yard-long stretch of the waterfront is being razed and redeveloped. The essence of the Bund, a virtual museum of Western architecture, flush with classical, Gothic and Art Deco landmarks, will be preserved, but densely inhabited neighborhoods at its edge are already being demolished.
Talk about ambition. As the city "aims for the top as it ascends the hierarchy of world cities, with one eye on longtime champions like New York, and another on its fraternal rival, Beijing," its rich heritage will perhaps be lost forever. Best to get there fast before a new breed of skyscrapers (already twice as many as New York's) paves China's quintessential urban cityscape.