LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Mosaic floors, hand-carved moldings, glorious antique furnishings, sumptuous French fabrics, and of course the Art Nouveau glass roof atop the Winter Garden... In a breath: Parisian opulence incarnate. Hotel Meurice, the legendary Palace hotel adored by visiting royalty, has long stood as a proud Parisian landmark facing the Tuileries Gardens. How could one possibly improve upon perfection? Hotel Meurice has gone hip with a massive renovation, and is now better than ever. Most rooms have wonderful views of the Louvre and Tuileries, or the brilliant white Sacré-Coeur, floating above the city. Each of the seven floors has a distinct style, with 121 rooms decorated in a style reminiscent of Louis XVI. All the rooms are soundproofed and have air conditioning, high-speed Internet access, multiple telephone lines, a direct line, fax machines upon request and cable television. The Spa Caudalíe, opened in 2001, features the rejuvenating and purifying effects of Caudalíe treatments (like the Crushed Cabernet scrub) as well as a separate state-of-the-art Fitness Center. Meals at Le Meurice are as close to perfect as it gets; Yannick Alléno garnered his third Michelin star this year and the critics can't stop raving about the exquisite dining experience-- smart service, stunning surroundings, and elegant French fare at its finest. And of course kids are spoiled rotten at Hotel Meurice: sweets and in-room Kids Kit awaiting upon arrival, a treasure hunt winding through the hotel...
And we thought we were excited when Bacara first opened in Santa Barbara. For the ultimate luxury digs in So Cal, head to the newly renovated Malibu Beach Inn, situated on "Billionaire's Beach," where some of America's richest make their homes on Malibu's oceanfront bluffs. The multi-million dollar makeover means facilities that are downright decadent; the 47 elegantly appointed guest rooms boast breathtaking ocean views from private balconies, natural tile showers, contemporary furnishings made from exotic wenge wood, Dean and Deluca Refreshment Centers and Private Bars, and state-of-the-art technology. An added touch: the in-room wine rack with eight hand-selected Cali wines. The hotel's landscaping, architecture, and interior design reflect the natural beauty of Malibu's coastline, and a unique collection of artwork graces the hotel's walls. Come Fall 2007 (the official re-opening date), well-heeled guests can expect unsurpassed luxury at the area's only destination hotel.
P.S. The signature beach club promises to make a splash.
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.
July 24, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.