September 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The W hotel chain— adored by American urbanites for its sleek city hotels— has opened its first resort in the Maldives. Billed as a "sophisticated luxury playground," this Retreat and Spa is the first of its kind for W. Situated on the private tropical island of Fesdu, in the North Ari Atoll, the W Retreat and Spa combines indulgent all-villa accommodations with the Maldives first real nightlife: a subterranean grotto bar aptly called 15 BELOW because it's fifteen feet below the island's surface. This is the ultimate indulgence and exclusivity in the Maldives. In your private over-water villa, enjoy your own plunge pool, sundeck, and beach. Or marvel at the lagoon's colorful fish through the glass-paneled floor (the roof is likewise glass-paneled). The villas are all outfitted with outdoor lounging areas with individual barbeque stations for private dining, circular daybeds, and outdoor tropical showers. As to be expected from W Hotels, the accommodations are equipped with all the latest technology and conveniences: deluxe Bose sound systems, 42 inch plasma televisions, and wine refrigerators. Indulge in a spa treatment at the over-water AWAY spa. Lounge on the white-sand beaches, take a dip in the turquoise lagoon, and snorkel along the breathtaking reefs. The WAVE water sports facility is fully equipped with top-quality scuba diving gear, along with kite surfing, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, and endless other options. In the evening, dine at one of the six gourmet restaurants followed by a cocktail at the hip underground bar, which offers the largest selection of vodka in the Maldives. The W Retreat and Spa Maldives promises to be the ultimate private island paradise.
I recently had the honor of visiting Hotel Fouquet's Barrière before its November 3, 2006 opening date. In a city of superlatives--Paris is the most romantic and beautiful metropolis of them all--the luxury hotel scene sets the standard for elegance, sophistication, and impeccable service worldwide. I was pleased to discover (even with construction underway) that Hotel Foquet's Barrière proudly carves its own place in this impressive roster of opulent Palace Hotels.
The new kid on the block sports two defining characteristics that are hard to come by in Paris-- an enormous Spa with stunning swimming pool-- and location, location, location. Hotel Foquet's Barrière stands prominently on the corner of two fabled boulevards: the Champs-Elysées and Avenue George V. Surrounded by chic designer boutiques (Hermes, Louis Vuitton) and fine dining, the hotel is perfectly situated at the nexus of the Triangle d'Or.
A word about the architecture. Celebrity architect Édouard François has created a contemporary masterpiece by fusing the old and new. Attached to the legendary Brasserie Fouquet's, the hotel is comprised of five Haussman-style buildings located around a central interior garden. The project is extraordinary, years in the making, and destined to become a destination in its own right. All the buildings were not originally connected. As I walked around the outside of the hotel, I noticed how the architect created a faux Haussmann-style façade which has been molded onto the exterior of the newer adjoining buildings: on this grey stone--which is in marked contrast with the sandy colored old buildings it adjoins--the architect has superimposed large contemporary windows which are rectangular in shape and placed perpendicular, against the grain, to the corresponding window cut-outs in the façade.
And the interiors are just as remarkable. Interior designer Jacques Garcia has created 107 lavish guest rooms in a combination of art-deco and empire style. Utilizing rich velvets, leather, gold leaf, shark skin, precious marble, and plush fabrics, Garcia has created posh, imperial spaces that are also extremely comfortable. I've never seen beds so big. Bathrooms are like mini-spas, decked out in marble, with large bath and separate walk-in rainshower room. In the Presidential Suite, the large jetted tub actually overlooks the grand stretch of Champs-Elysées (though these rooms are ultra sound-proofed for peace and quiet.) The Presidential Suite, like all guest rooms, is equipped with the most cutting edge technology: the flat screen TV is embedded in the mirror, totally invisible until turned on.
The U Spa Barriere is located underground, a vast restorative space that includes seven private treatment rooms, fully equipped fitness room, hammam, steam room, sauna, and the hotel's gem: the gorgeous swimming pool. Besides the famous Brasserie, the hotel will feature Le Diane restaurant, overlooking the garden, and Le Lucien bar. Above, an enormous teak rooftop terrace offers the perfect space for private receptions, with views of the Eiffel Tower.
I think I'm in love. 35 days and counting…until we can get pampered in style in the City of Light.
LA's most prestigious address, the Mobil Five-Star award winning Hotel Bel-Air, is beloved for its special wine maker dinners and gourmet celebrations offered throughout the year. Don't miss the upcoming Italian Weekend with Anthony Dias Blue, one of the most influential wine, food and lifestyle personalities in the US (his work in various media is circulated to more than 50 million global customers each month). The weekend of October 13-15th, 2006 will be an Italian extravaganza at this elegant Beverly Hills hideaway, including two multi-course Italian dinners with wine pairings and an incredible Sunday brunch. Additionally, the Saturday program includes a morning trip to the farmer's market followed by lunch and cooking class with Chef Bruno. The entire weekend, inclusive of luxurious accommodations and tickets to all events, is $1,500 for two.
Dubai's legendary business hotel, soaring 305 meters above the central business district, sets the standard for luxurious services for the modern business traveler. Case in point: the H20 Male Spa, a unique concept designed exclusively for men. In today's fast paced world, jumping from time zone to time zone for meetings, a few minutes of restorative relaxation are a vital necessity. And so H20 has designed a full-menu of 30 individualized spa treatments that are quick and results-oriented. Express versions are also available. Cool and contemporary, the spa features an Oxygen Lounge, with high-tech Italian Shiatsu chairs and 3D movies, and Flotation Pool Therapy, touted as providing the equivalent of eight hours sleep.
Clinging to a cliff high above the Sea of Zihuatanejo Bay, La Casa Que Canta is Mexico's top-rated resort, bestowed the ultimate honor by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report as a Grand Award Winner. The 25-suite exclusive resort boasts two of the most elegant swimming pools found anywhere in the world: linger in the Freshwater Infinity Pool, overlooking the bay, and soak in stunning panoramic views of the sea and sky. The hotel also features a new spa, where guests enjoy luxurious treatments, and excellent al fresco restaurant and bar. The adults-only resort is known for its superlative service and hospitality; the accommodating staff can organize deep-sea fishing, watersports, and golf excursions. The Moonbeams in Paradise Package, valid until December 19, 2006, offers four nights accommodation, two welcome margaritas, special welcome flower petal design, roundtrip airport transfers by taxi, and a special and private candlelight with tasting menu and a bottle of wine. Starting from $2,406 per room, per stay, inclusive of tax and service charge.
Quite possibly the most luxurious hotel in Australia, the Park Hyatt Sydney has a commanding view of the Harbour and world-famous Opera House from its perch on the water's edge. You can't beat this killer location-- smack dab in the historic Rocks district, just minutes from the central business and shopping areas of Sydney. The Park Hyatt Sydney is even accessible by water-taxi. Rooms are comfortable and contemporary, with spectacular views; the bar is hip, with an exciting cocktail menu (and there's also the Club Bar, to savor a whiskey and Cuban cigar); the fitness center is well-equipped, and the spa is plush. But the best part of all: the outdoor rooftop terrace with sun-deck, heated pool, and Jacuzzi. Until December 31, 2006, the Park Hyatt Sydney is offering the "Culture at the Park" package, where guests can enjoy the highlights of Sydney starting at $1,105 per couple. The package includes luxurious accommodations, full buffet breakfast in harbourkitchen&bar, and a one-hour guided tour of Syndey's most famous icon, the Opera House. Two-night minimum required.
In the heart of the charming city of Santa Fe, La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa offers luxurious adobe-style accommodations in a magical garden setting. Boasting numerous accolades, the boutique hotel is oft considered the best place to stay in the city. Just blocks from the historic Plaza and beautiful art galleries, La Posada proudly displays its Southwestern culture: many of its rooms feature kiva fireplaces and patios, walls are adorned with original works of art from local galleries, and the full-service Avanyu Spa incorporates indigenous ingredients of the Southwest in its treatments. Take advantage of the Spa Package at La Posada and enjoy world-class accommodations, breakfast at the AAA four diamond award-winning Fuego restaurant, and one 50-minute spa treatment, starting at just $199 a night!
Set against the spectacular backdrop of Arizona's McDowell Mountains and the sun-kissed desert, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a luxurious AAA Five-Diamond oasis, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, and home to one of the best spas in North America. Designed to reflect Arizona's Spanish Colonial heritage, the magnificent resort features three award-winning restaurants, two 18-hole Championship Golf Courses (one of which is home to the Annual PGA Tour FBR Open), five swimming pools (including the Sonoran Splash pool with waterslides), and a premier tennis facility with seven hard courts. Usually this gem is booked solid for the holidays. But if you make your reservations early, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is offering bargain prices. Book a December visit (Dec 18-28, 2006) by October 9, and you can score a nightly rate of $225 including a $50 food credit per day, access to fitness center, supervised kids' activities, and oodles of holiday events. If you book by October 31, you can lock in a price of $249 a night.
The height of luxury in the City by the Bay. The Presidential Suite is the crown jewel in the refined, contemporary masterpiece of the newly-opened St. Regis San Francisco. Showcasing fine art and sculpture from around the world, the Suite is comprised of a double parlor (with sitting area adjacent to a media room), large dining room, enormous bedroom with attached walk-in closet, and two bathrooms. All outfitted in sumptuous fabrics and the most cutting-edge technology. From the marble window seats, and floor-to-ceiling windows, you'll gasp at the sweeping panoramic views of the city. The butler's pantry features a wine cooler, refrigerator–freezer, dishwasher, and cabinets stocked with Spiegelau stemware, Christofle flatware, and Wedgewood china designed by Vera Wang exclusively for St. Regis. Enjoy your own private spa in the spacious limestone bathroom with its oversized jetted tub and separate rainfall shower room.
Brown's Hotel-- the stylish boutique from Europe's finest luxury hotelier, Rocco Forte-- is beloved not only for its elegant accommodations but also for its fine dining venue, The Grill. With years of culinary experience at the Savoy, Harry's Bar, and The Ritz, award-winning Executive Chef, Laurence Glayzer, crafts traditional English fare with a contemporary, continental twist using only the best local produce. The ambience is like an elegant club, with wood paneling, 1930s design, and banquette booths. Brown's recently introduced the pre-theatre dining menu at The Grill, for West End theatre goers to indulge in the perfect, light meal before heading out on the town. From 6-7 pm, diners choose from a set menu of two courses (GBP 25) or three courses (GBP 30). The Grill also offers a Sunday Jazz Brunch with a three-course set menu that offers four options per course and 1/2 bottle of house wine at GBP39.50 per guest. Delightful dishes include roast rib of beef off the carving trolley, Eggs Benedict, grilled rump steak and fried egg with corned beef hash, and a selection of other brunch style dishes.