LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
June 29, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Since its reopening at the end of 2006, the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa has generated quite a buzz. (In a setting this magical-- private coral island surrounded by the turquoise sea-- it's no wonder visitors are swooning.) The resort's palm-thatched pavilions and bungalows rise above the water, or line the white sand, and boast private plunge pools, over-water decks, and outdoor showers. From the infinity edge pool, one of the largest in the Maldives, you can take in the memorable sunsets, when the sky is painted in brilliant shades of color. Aboard the resort's yacht, The Explorer, you can cruise untouched atolls and discover some of the best scuba diving spots in the world. Until September 30, 2007, book a four-night stay and you'll receive a $250 resort credit for use in the fabulous spa and restaurants.
Sup on the finest traditional American cuisine in a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired atmosphere at the Arizona Biltmore's acclaimed restaurant. The chefs at Wright's use only the best hand-crafted organic ingredients from boutique farms across the country-- goat cheese from Maui, escargot from Oregon, or elk from Wyoming-- with the menu changing weekly to reflect what's in season. It's all about getting back to basics rather than manipulating the food. This philosophy also applies to the service, which is warm and attentive, but not at all stuffy. In addition to the fantastic à la carte menu, Wright's offers diners a tasting menu each evening. Open daily for dinner and Sunday for brunch.
In the wake of the decision by most major hotel chains to go trans fat free, Banyan Tree has announced its plan to eliminate trans-fat from their larders by August 1, 2007. Loews, Omni, Starwood, even Carnival Cruises have made the verdict on the evils of trans fat (you can educate yourself on the health risks of those nasty hydrogenated fast foods here). It's good to see hotels one upping each other to help their guests achieve healthier lifestyles. Now let's hope green environmental policies (thanks to Fairmont) becomes as big of a fad.
At the lowest point on earth, where the lapping waters of the Dead Sea are sought out for their curative powers, you'll find an elegant resort with one of the most advanced spa operations in the Middle East. Located at 400 meters below sea level, beside the northern shores of the saltiest sea in the world, Movenpick Dead Sea is a luxurious hideaway designed as a traditional stone village. Where else can you float in the sea while reading your newspaper? Indulge in the legendary therapeutic secrets of the Dead Sea at the ZARA Spa, with its wide range of health and beauty therapies and several saline pools including an indoor Dead Sea flotation pool. The facilities are superb: beach, heated pool, summer beach pool, children's pool and playground, solariums, tennis court, and large fitness room. The Dead Sea is an exciting place to visit, not only because of this blissful spa experience, but also because of the spectacular surrounding landscape and ancient historical sites.
Hot on the heels of the debut of its new St. Lucia hotel, Raffles will open a third Caribbean property in 2010: set on 50 pristine beachfront acres on the northeastern end of Tortola in the BVI. Raffles luxury hotels have distinguished themselves as landmarks in their respective cities around the globe (the flagship in Singapore is world-renowned), so the new Tortola hotel will no doubt bring a high standard of luxury to the secluded white sand beaches of the "sailing capital of the Caribbean." The 100-room resort will feature four restaurants and bars, three swimming pools, a fitness center, two beach clubs, and the signature RafflesAmrita Spa, occupying 15,000 square feet. Cool fact: the resort, though managed by Raffles, is 100 percent owned by British Virgin Islanders.
Ahhh, summer in San Diego, where the surf's up, the breeze is balmy, and the temperatures are just right. Take the whole family (including your doggie) to Loews Coronado Bay Resort for some fun in the sun. The recreational facilities are remarkable: tennis courts, Sea Spa, fitness center, beach and three outdoor swimming pools, private marina, gondola rides on the nearby canals, bicycling, rollerblading, whatever your little heart desires. Your family's teenage jetsetter will dig the Super Suite Vacation package-- replete with surfing lessons, custom-designed INT surfboard, and two spa treatments in the resort's Teen Spa Room designed by Pottery Barn's PBteen. This taste of the suite life, a perfect blend of sun and surf, goes for $2,000 for a two-night stay. Prior to arrival, your teen can select the color and graphics for the surf board. Loews also offers a Su'ruff Camp, where your doggie can get a surfing lesson with Coronado Surfing Academy at Coronado's Dog Beach. The package also includes a Surf & turf room service meal for your pet, board shorts or a surfing bandana for your pup, and a copy of The Dog's Guide to Surfing.
Be among the first to experience the brand new Ritz-Carlton Moscow, a distinguished address overlooking historic Red Square, destined to become one of the city's finest hotels. Opening on July 1, 2007, Ritz-Carlton Moscow is offering a Summer Special through the month of August, with room rates starting from $385 (plus VAT). This is a fantastic deal, as normal rack rates will begin at $1,000 a night. The $350 million hotel, the first for Ritz-Carlton in Russia, features an imperial Russian façade and chic interior with contemporary amenities. The address itself, Tverskaya 3, has a long history as a hospitality hot spot; it was once a popular gathering spot for Russian writers and poets. The hotel will feature a lavish spa by ESPA, heated indoor swimming pool, and complete fitness area. The rooftop O2 Lounge, with its dramatic glass dome, will offer sushi creations from celebrity chef Seiji Kusano. (There's even a nightlife butler to help guests score access to the city's best nightlife spots, and a vodka sommelier at the Lobby Lounge.) But the hotel's main attraction is Jeroboam restaurant, touted as the city's most talked-about addition:
When the power elite of Russia are not meeting at The Kremlin, chances are they may soon be found "power dining" around the corner from Red Square at Jeroboam, the restaurant of three star Michelin chef Heinz Winkler.
And with the Tsar's Breakfast costing a royal $700 per person, looks like the new, over-the-top Ritz-Carlton Moscow will lure all of Russia's oligarchs.
I was fortunate enough to tour the Tides Inn during a glorious afternoon. Allow me to sing its praises. For sixty years, discriminating travelers and yachtsmen sailing the Eastern seaboard have flocked to the Tides Inn, a well-guarded secret. Today, the AAA four-diamond resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, and visitors enjoy the sparkling pool, spa, boating excursions, tennis, and world-class golf on the Golden Eagle course.
As I walked towards the Inn's entrance, I was greeted by a valet and bellhop who offered lemonade and freshly baked cookies, along with a smile. How's that for Southern hospitality? This gracious hospitality is standard at an Inn long celebrated for its genuine Southern charm. Perched over Carters Creek with an unobstructed view to the sparkling waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Tides Inn commands a setting like no other. Under a clear blue sky, I strolled out in the flowering gardens to gape at the view. Next to the manicured croquet lawn, guests sipped drinks beneath the shade of a tall cedar, watching the boats dock in the marina. Everywhere I turned, the staff beamed smiles and greetings.
Though the Inn has a long history as the premier hotel in the Mid-Atlantic, there is nothing faded about this place. After extensive refurbishments in 2001, the Tides Inn emerged in all of its contemporary splendor, but with all its traditions intact. Guest rooms are elegant and comfortable, outfitted in British colonial style with dark wood trim and custom fitted marble for the wet bars. You'll still find the wooden lockers in the Chesapeake Club, the resort's fine dining restaurant, where guests during the "dry" years stored their bottles after a whiskey run to nearby Urbanna (a "wet county") aboard the Miss Ann. And you'll still find an impressive attention to detail: guests are pampered with complimentary bottles of champagne and hand-written cards when celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.
The Fourth of July week at the Tides Inn promises to be a fabulous celebration, packed with festive activities and events. Plus, if you stay three or more nights during the week, you'll qualify for a special rate of $295 per evening. Here's a taste of what's in store: a phenomenal fireworks display right on Carters Creek, night golf, a boat building competition on the Windsor Lawn, kayaking tours on Carters Creek, Irvington's Main Street Parade complete with Antique Cars, family scavenger hunts, garden tours, and movie nights in the Bryant Garden, the Inn's own natural amphitheater.
After a staggering renovation project, a three-year makeover, the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles has reopened and is ready to dazzle the château's three million annual visitors. As described by the New York Times:
This week, after a $16 million makeover, the full spectacle finally resumed, with the hall looking, as closely as possible, the way it first appeared to Louis XIV in 1684. With its 357 mirrors, 17 glass doors, marble walls, chandeliers and ceiling paintings, it remains-- as was the Sun King's intent-- a sight breathtaking in its majesty.
Restoration of the palace will continue until 2020. This $455 million project-- the "biggest renovation since the king moved out in 1789"-- is a daunting undertaking, considering the sheer size and scale of this impressive château: 700 rooms, 2,153 windows, 352 chimneys and 28 acres of roof.
Northern California's sophisticated getaway just got spruced up for the summertime. Sloping across a 33-acre hillside olive grove in Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil is acclaimed for its informal elegance, celebrating the art of relaxation. And with the new "al fresco playground," hotel guests can appreciate the laid-back luxury of the Riviera smack dab in the middle of California's wine country. As reported by Daily Candy, SF residents escape the summertime fog on jaunts to Napa where you can "daydream you're in Provence on a plush daybed by the swanky new pool at Auberge du Soleil." Dedon lounge furniture imported from Germany, oversized market umbrellas, sweeping views from the terrace, and a gorgeous pool inlayed with an Italian mosaic and an iridescent Auberge sun crafted in mother-of-pearl... It's a sexy space, an exotic outdoor living room. Relax in oversized chaises or underneath gauze-draped canopies on day beds, sip signature cocktails, taste lounge food from Auberge du Soleil's award-winning restaurant, enjoy WiFi and a DJ-mixed pool soundtrack. Doting pool attendants offer refreshing amenities like the signature Auberge Bellini, gourmet Italian ices, sorbets, gelées, chilled eucalyptus-infused towels and iPods.