July 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
In an incomparable setting on Baja's turquoise Sea of Cortes, Esperanza is a chic and alluring paradise created by Auberge Resorts. The sandstone villas are impossibly romantic: carved into the bluffs overlooking the sea, where the humpback whales migrate just offshore. The infinity pool seems to spill into the private cove beneath, with stunning views of the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. At the terraced Restaurant, enjoy a star-studded menu of local fish, like almond seared rare yellowfin tuna with warm avocado pie or grilled dorado steak with ricotta crepes and dark pasilla-huitlacoche mole. Or toss back a Piña Dorada at El Bar, watching the sun dip below the Pacific's horizon. The resort's 56 guest rooms and suites have oversized tubs, large outdoor terraces and handcrafted furniture. Unique spa treatments--like grated coconut and lime body exfoliation-- feature natural, indigenous ingredients. After a yoga or pilates class, relax in the warm soaking pool or the indoor steam cave. Other recreational activities include diving, sailing and kayaking trips.
Until September 30, guests can save up to 35 percent off with a special summer package at Esperanza: a five-night (midweek) getaway starting at $2,217 per couple. The "Baja Bliss" package includes five accommodations in an ocean-view terrace casita, two 60-minute Tropical Essence Spa treatments, complimentary yoga classes, nonalcoholic refreshments in a mini bar, complimentary DVD and CD library, and complimentary use of beach cabanas. Inclusive of taxes and service charges. The Baja Bliss package is also available for a five-night weekend package, starting from $2,697.
The Hotel Negresco is a legend, its pink dome a symbol of the French Riviera, its name evoking the essence of "art de vivre." For over a century, the national historic monument has dominated the Promenade des Anglais, overlooking the Bay of Angels and the scenic Mediterranean. Situated on the seafront promenade on the beach, the hotel is like a living museum, filled with antiques, oil paintings, and contemporary art. Each of the 121 guestrooms and 24 suites are individually decorated in styles spanning the historic spectrum from Louis XIII to Art Deco. The Michelin award-winning restaurant The Chantecler is celebrated as one of the best in Nice. From now until September 20, 2006, take advantage of the Prestige Package which includes daily breakfast, a welcome gift upon arrival, and complimentary access to the property's secluded private beach, "Le Neptune." From $445.
The World Cup may be over, but the celebrations continue at Banyan Tree Phuket, where guests can take advantage of the Halftime escapade until the end of July. The promotion started at the World Cup kick-off—with half price on rooms and spa treatments (for the first five bookings of each day)-- but is available until July 31, 2006.
Stay in a luxurious villa, recuperate from the excitement of the previous night's game with a rejuvenating spa treatment, and start the next day of Halftime pampering with breakfast - all at half the price. Even if your favorite team doesn't win the World Cup, you may still be a winner. In the first week of August, Banyan Tree Phuket will conduct the Halftime Draw and treat one lucky couple to a complimentary 3-night stay in a Tibetan Suite at Banyan Tree Ringha in Shangri-La (Diqing), the highlight of China's stunning Yunnan province.
The Halftime Promotion includes: 50 percent discount on villa rates (no minimum length of stay is required), 50 percent discount on one a-la-carte massage session at Banyan Tree Spa per person per stay, 50 percent discount on daily American buffet breakfast (inclusive of champagne). Rates start at $275 for a Deluxe Villa. This package is only applicable for the first 5 bookings per day.
The city's only boutique hotel on the beach, The Water Club was named "one of the coolest hotels in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler. The rooftop bar, Wet, offers cocktails and sushi under the stars, while the rooftop sundeck, pool and Jacuzzi likewise boast breathtaking ocean views. The enormous suites feature large telescopes to appreciate the panoramic vistas. This is a San Juan hot spot, with its bar, Liquid, a happening and loud party mecca, so non-party peeps should steer clear.
Right now The Water Club is offering an unbelievable Summer Package, starting at just $89 per person.The Sizzling Summer Package includes welcome Melon Lips Martini for two, complimentary breakfast for two at Tangerine, one night of VIP list privileges at a local night club, and a complimentary gift upon arrival.
Chicago Tribune, Old San Juan
Named "Best Steakhouse" by Boston Magazine, the Oak Room is also beloved by Zagat, which notes that diners "indulge in the finer things' – like 'killer Châteaubriand' and 'real martinis', 'high ceilings' and swathes of 'brocade' – at this 'grande dame' " of American restaurants. This is old Boston at its finest: an elegant antique setting with dark wood paneling, mirrored walls, intricate white plasterwork, and Waterford crystal chandeliers. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant dishes up award-winning cuisine, while the adjacent Oak Bar offers a slew of specialty martinis and one of Boston's best raw bars. Reservations are strongly recommended. After enjoying a superb meal, check out the elegant Fairmont Copley Plaza, which recently completed a stunning renovation of its 383 guestrooms and suites.
Tennessee's most treasured landmark is also a 2005 AAA five diamond award recipient and listed in Robb Report's Best of the Best. The historic Hermitage Hotel, newly emerged from an 11 month, $19 million renovation, stands as the city's finest hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Hermitage is known for its impeccable service and elegant grandeur. The lobby is an opulent delight--stained glass ceiling, marble columns and staircases, and Russian walnut paneling--as are the guestrooms. The roster of famous guests has delighted in this luxurious hotel since its opening in 1910.
This summer, a fabulous Music City Weekend awaits at The Hermitage. The weekend package includes luxurious accommodations, breakfast in bed, overnight valet parking, $20 gift card to iTunes, and a chance to win a new iPod Nano from Apple. Rates from $289 per night. The Hermitage is also offering a weekday Summer in the City package: reservations from Sunday-Thursday are just $209 and include an All-American breakfast for one and value parking. All guests receive complimentary wireless internet, fitness center use, morning coffee, afternoon sparkling cider and cookies, and daily newspaper.
Utell has just announced a fantastic promotion, with rates up to 50 percent off the normal rack rates at many of their luxury hotels worldwide. Participating hotels include the Hotel Majestic Barcelona, the elegant neoclassical landmark on Paseo de Gracia in the heart of the city, Le Soleil Hotel and Suites, the award-winning boutique gem in Vancouver, the Inn at Lost Creek, Telluride's romantic and charming inn named one of the best hotels in the world by leading travel magazines, and Grand Hotel Villa San Mauro, with panoramic views overlooking Caltagirone, Sicily. When making a booking, choose "Great Rate" or "Utell Luxury Hotel Promotion."
Jean Paul Gaultier had the right idea. He camped out in the Victor Hugo Suite at Le Pavillon de la Reine for a year when his house was renovated. Indeed, you couldn't ask for a better residence in the City of Light. The historic boutique hotel is brimming with 17th century details: elegant tapestries, beautiful antiques, and enormous wood beams grace the ceilings of the guest rooms.
In a city steeped in history, the Marais district stands out for its fashionable pre-Revolution townhouses, tiny alleys lined with exquisite boutiques and restaurants, and lively nightlife. And within this marvelous neighborhood, the Pavillon de la Reine has the remarkable location directly on the Place des Vosges, the oldest public square of its kind in Paris. Inaugurated as place Royale in 1612, Henry IV built the square to celebrate the wedding between his son, Louis XIII, and Ann of Austria. The area was thus transformed into the most fashionable and luxurious area of Paris. The Place des Vosges is comprised of 36 symmetrical houses with pink brick and slate roofs, surrounding a large and charming square.
The Pavillon de la Reine is an oasis within this bustling activity-- tucked away in a flowering courtyard, just minutes from the Bastille Opera House and the Picasso Museum. Each of the 56 rooms and suites-- from the modern duplex suite to the historical deluxe rooms-- is uniquely decorated and full of character. Historical details are balanced by a full array of modern amenities (like flat screen TVs), thus creating a unique fusion of modern and ancient styles. The hotel is privately owned by a French family, and the ambience takes on the feel of an intimate, private residence: pour yourself a drink at the honesty bar, eat breakfast in the atmospheric vaulted cellar, and enjoy a wood fire burning in the large fireplace in the winter. Of course this pied-a-terre offers all the comforts of a grand hotel, complimented by thoughtful, discreet service. And the hotel's guests gush their praises: La Pavillon de la Reine was awarded the 2005 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice award, a real testament to the quality and sophistication of the hotel.
It took eleven years, and EUR 232 million, but at the June 20 inauguration of the new Musée du Quai Branly, the world's gaze settled on the hottest new museum in Paris. After all, the Musée du Quai Branly represents the crowning cultural achievement of Chirac's reign, who has sought to create a space honoring "the world's forgotten civilizations." Jean Nouvel's architectural masterpiece now houses the 270,000 items from the African, Oceanic and Asian artworks from the Musée de l'Homme and the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens (only 3,500 are on display.)
The building itself is extraordinary: a piece of contemporary art beneath the Eiffel Tower, situated on 19 acres of green, sprawling along the Seine. It is disjointed: a colorful mass of metal, with curved glass walls and no sense of symmetry. It is distinctly modern. Standing within the gardens, or in the ticket line beneath the building's metal overhang, you catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, which seems to rise directly from the museum itself.
And though the lines of tourists assemble outside the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in the summertime, the Musée du Quai Branly is a breeze. Upon entrance, visitors follow a long white ramp where a kaleidoscope of images is projected. Once you enter the Collections area, the light is dim, and the museum experience is an interactive one. You walk through a corridor lined with soft walls that are meant to be touched, called La Riviere, where indigenous stories and folklore are narrated for handicapped visitors. The museum is meant to be a place of ongoing exploration of anthropology and non-Western civilizations.
Hours: 10 am-6:30 pm, closed on Mondays. Tickets are EUR 8.50.
New York Times, For a New Paris Museum, Jean Nouvel Creates His Own Rules
After an impressive six-year renovation, and a $36 million investment, the Musee de l'Orangerie has reopened at long last. Monet's series of waterlilies are perhaps the most monumental work of his lifetime: the artist spent 30 years captivated by the light on the waterlily pond at his home in Giverny, and managed to capture this mysterious light, and the changing seasons, in his large Abstract canvases that wrap around the walls of the museum. These eight paintings are enormous: over six feet high and one is over 50 feet long. The artist donated them to France, and they were hung at l'Orangerie in 1927, a year after his death. In the 1960's, the government attempted a renovation of the museum that holds the paintings, which failed miserably, and so for years, the nymphéas (as they are called) sat forgotten and neglected.
No longer. The museum re-opened in mid-May, and presents the paintings as Monet initially intended them to be viewed. Natural light floods through the ceiling; the white walls curve and bend to accommodate the canvases. The architecture is as stunning as the paintings. The water lilies are housed on the ground floor, while the downstairs showcases the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, including a corridor of Renoir, Matisse, Derain, and Modigliani.
Tickets are EUR 6.50, and individuals are only allowed in the museum from 12:30-7 pm, as groups tour the museum in the mornings. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. A warning: the lines assembled outside can snake around the building. Reserve your tickets ahead, and you'll skip the wait entirely. Though there are worse things than standing in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries.