LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Happy birthday to the storied Raffles Hotel, pride and joy of the island state of Singapore, celebrity mecca and worldwide icon. Named for Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of modern Singapore, the historic landmark hotel has been wowing well-heeled travelers since 1887. Though the hotel has been featured in books (Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham hung out here) and on the silver screen, Raffles doesn't rest on its laurels. Today, Raffles Hotel Singapore is a modern bastion of exclusivity and pampering, known for its unsurpassed service and colonial elegance. At a spot with such impressive history, it's no wonder the tourists flock. The lobby is open to tourists who want to gape at the molded ceilings, teak and marble floors, and period furnishings. But don't worry-- the hotel retains a private lobby for hotel guests only. Also on site: the Amrita spa and excellent culinary academy.
PS. A stay at Raffles isn't complete without a cocktail at Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was invented in 1910.
This weekend, step back in time at the splendid Chateau Mcely, just an hour outside Prague in the beautiful St. George Forest. The five-star hotel has received a lot of press for the incredible renovation project of the 17th century castle. A former ruin, the newly transformed hotel has won awards for the genius reconstruction. Dolce Vita magazine describes Mcely as "a baroque chateau reconstructed into the most luxurious boutique in Bohemia." Enjoy the exciting Designer's Weekend-- Your Home is Your Castle-- from June 8-June 10, 2007 (now's the time for a little last-minute spontaneity!) and meet the talented artist behind the masterpiece, Oto Blaha, one of the top designers in the Czech Republic. The fun-filled weekend includes a tour of the castle with the designers, a brief course in interior design with Oto Blaha (through the chateau's partnership with Prague's Design School), and individual discussions and consultations with Oto Blaha.
PS. Check out the hotel's website to see Oto's marvelous sketches and designs.
Hot off the press. Morgans Hotel Group-- which owns and manages fabulously hip properties like Delano and Shore Club in Miami, Clift in San Francisco, and Mondrian in LA and Scottsdale,-- has just released a statement about plans for an all-new Mondrian in Chitown. Expected to open in 2010, the Mondrian Chicago will be located on the existing site of the Cedar Hotel in the Gold Coast region. What's in store? 200 guest rooms (some with views of Lake Michigan), luxury amenities, restaurant, bar, cutting edge design, and a hip, energetic vibe. No doubt the hotel will be the sexiest thing around. This will bring the grand total to five Mondrian hotels (there are other properties currently in development in Vegas and Miami).
When in sunny Palm Springs, do like the pleasure-seeking LA-crowd and head to the plush Parker Palm Springs, transformed by New York designer Jonathan Adler into a fabulous and funky hot spot with lots of contemporary flair. (Despite the colorful interiors and zebra-print rugs, the Parker's exterior building still seems to date from the Rat Pack-era.) The glamorous resort du jour-- what the NYT called "a kind of dandy Betty Ford clinic for those who overdosed on the W Hotel's much-copied sleek and minimalist vibe"-- is clearly the steamiest spot in the desert, attracting the young, hip, and fashionable for weekend getaways. Formerly the Givenchy Resort and Spa (and before that era, California's first Holiday Inn!), the Parker Palm Springs features lush desert gardens, the chic Mister Parker's restaurant, fire pit, 16,500-square-foot spa, four pools, clay tennis courts, and two petanque courts.
St. Moritz's most sophisticated winter address is likewise fun in the summer sun, with oodles of seasonal activities, cultural events, and gourmet dining experiences. (Culinary events this year include August's Palace Chocolate Cult and the Soirée Bourguignonne celebrating Burgundian cuisine and wine.) Situated amidst the most breathtaking natural scenery, the hotel is a historic symbol of St. Moritz. Now is the time to book a stay at the legendary Badrutt's Palace Hotel and enjoy summer in the Swiss Alps at unbelievably low rates starting from just CHF 345 a night, a savings of up to 57 percent off rack rates. Check out the list of Special Summer Getaway Packages after the jump.
Alpine Summer Feeling: Two-night package for two in a Superior room including a free upgrade upon availability, welcome amenity and flowers in room upon arrival, daily buffet breakfast, two set dinners in Chesa Veglia or Le Restaurant (excluding drinks), and ticket for Corviglia mountain train. From CHF 960 for double occupancy.
Simply St. Moritz: Three-night package for two in a Superior room including daily buffet breakfast, three set dinners in Chesa Veglia or Le Restaurant (excluding drinks), horse-drawn carriage ride into Fex Valley including transfer to Sils and back, and ticket for Corviglia mountain train. From CHF 1,820 for double occupancy.
Family Summer Indulgence: Seven-night package for two in a Superior room including daily buffet breakfast, daily set dinner in Chesa Veglia or Le Restaurant (excluding drinks), Palace Picnic basket, one boat trip on Lake Sils including return transfer to Sils, horse drawn carriage trip into Fex Valley including return transfer to Sils, free use of Palace Tennis courts & Tennis lessons at a 30 percent discount, complimentary childcare services at the Kids’ Club "Palazzino," additional room at a 50 percent discount on standard daily rate (bed & breakfast). From CHF 4,250 for double occupancy.
Golf Delight: Three-night package for two in a Deluxe room including welcome amenity and flowers in room upon arrival, daily buffet breakfast, Palace Golf present, 2 set dinners in Chesa Veglia or Le Restaurant (excluding drinks), 2 Green fees at golf courses Zouz Madulain or Samedan, return transfer from hotel to golf course, 1 full body massage (55 minutes) at Daniela Steiner Beauty Spa, and ticket for Corviglia mountain train. From CHF 2,340 for double occupancy.
Say bonjour to the newest thing to make waves in the south of France. Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche, the glamorous hilltop hideaway overlooking fragrant fields of lavender and wild thyme in Provence, has just announced the opening of its new spa. Framed by cypress and olive trees, the spa is an indulgent haven boasting beautiful panoramas: rolling Mediterranean valleys dotted with charming French villages. Here, guests can enjoy pampering treatments which utilize local ingredients such as Camargue sea salts, lavender buds, wild thyme and rich Provençal olive oil. (The unique treatments also use innovative products from ESPA, TERRAKÉ and LPG Solutions.) The two-level facility features 12 treatment rooms (four with private terraces), saunas, steam rooms, whirlpool baths, steam showers, and the dedicated spa café, Infusion.
Father's Day is just around the bend and Mandarin Oriental New York, Manhattan's Mobil Five-Star award-winning hotel located in the Time Warner Center, has announced some fun packages in partnership with Gotham Dream Cars. Treat Dad to a weekend of luxurious accommodations plus Dad's choice of a Dream Car Tour (customized test drives of six high-performance sports cars) or private use of a Ferrari or Lamborghini for the entire weekend. This Father's Day weekend (June 16-17), check Dad into a lavish suite above Central Park's treetops where he'll appreciate serious five-star service above the sparkling NY skyline.
Dad's Dream Car Tour package, priced from $2,075, includes one night accommodation along with Gotham Dream Cars's adrenaline-pumping Dream Car Tour, where Dad’ll have the opportunity to test-drive six exotic sports cars. The Father's Day Road Warrior Weekend package, priced from $5,750, includes two nights luxury accommodations, Dad's choice of high performance vehicles for the weekend, custom maps with suggested driving routes, and complimentary late check-out to give Dad as much driving time as possible.
The cat's out of the bag about Punta Cana, the celebrity favorite hot spot in the Dominican Republic known for its white sand beaches edged by the crystal clear Caribbean sea. Located on the eastern-most tip of the DR, the region has been quietly edging out the other Caribbean destinations as the best beach bargain. Luxury boutique hotels-- like the fabulous, all-suite Sivory Punta Cana-- are now getting some competition. Recent growth has been staggering, with new hotels including the Golf Suites in Punta Cana, Agua Resort & Spa, and the Hotel Bavaro Real Arena and Hotel VIP Real Arena, two luxury properties to be launched by the Spanish NH Hoteles chain. That's more than 1,100 rooms to be added to the market in the next two years.
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has joined the fray. His new development venture, the 30,000 acres called Cap Cana, will be one of the largest in the Caribbean. The $2 billion project will feature four luxury hotels, three Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, a mega yacht marina with 1,000 slips, and 5,000 residential units.
Numerically perfect, and truly rare, dates like July 7th (07/07/07) only occur 12 times a century. So best to live it up and celebrate-- especially when the digit is the lucky number seven. Red Carnation Hotels has put together two fun packages at Summer Lodge in Dorset and The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. Take a Date with Destiny and enjoy a slew of "7" themed amenities: from a seven-course dinner to a seven minute helicopter ride to the beach... Get the deets after the jump.
At the award-winning Twelve Apostles, perched above the ocean at the foot of the dramatic Twelve Apostles mountain range, the "Three Lucky Sevens break" offers seven (you guessed it!) special amenities:
*7 scratch cards (so you can win back the price of your stay!)
*A tasting of 7 wines selected by Sommelier Luvo Ntezo
*A 7 course dinner in the Azure restaurant
*7 pm Movie screening of Casino Royale in the hotel's own cinema
*7 minute heli-flip to the V&A Waterfront
*7 hours free car hire
*75 minute Moya Crystal massage at the fabulous Sanctuary Spa, consistently ranked as one of the world's best
*Plus 70 minutes in the hydrotherapy pools, aroma sauna and floatation tank at the Sanctuary Spa
*Breakfast daily from 7 am
Before you check into your guest room (the number of which will end in a "7"), you'll be greeted with 007's favourite drink-- vodka martini, shaken not stirred. The price? A magical R7777 for two people sharing for two nights. You must arrive on Saturday, July 7th.
Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, the charming boutique hotel in Evershot in Dorset, is likewise offering a weekly stay dedicated-- not to the "seven deadly sins" but to "septual healing." Book a visit for at least three nights including Saturday, July 7th, and you'll enjoy:
*A bouquet of 7 roses upon arrival
*7-item full English breakfast daily
*7-course dinner prepared by inspirational chef Steven Titman
*A tasting session of 7 wines selected by sommelier Eric Zwiebel, recently ranked fourth in World's Top Sommeliers category
*70 minutes of spa treatment
*DVD of your choice: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Se7en, or The Seven Samurai
*Seven Lucky 7 scratch cards per couple
*A room with a number seven in it, subject to availability
*A map outlining a comfortable 7 mile walk through the beautiful countryside
The price? GBP 777 per person for three nights.
Get busy inside the kitchen this summer at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, where the seasonal culinary series, Inside the Kitchen, showcases the best celeb chefs, cookbook authors, and sommeliers of the industry. Learn tempting recipes while indulging in some tasty dishes and fine wine. (Plus, the Ritz-Carlton even donates a portion of the proceeds to Meals on Wheels.) From June 1 through August 31, 2007, the AAA Five Diamond resort offers an array of themed weekends with cooking classes, dinners, and seminars.
The summer's instructors include Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake, Marcel Vigneron of Bravo's Top Chef, Jairemarie Pomo of The Hog Island Oyster Company, and Gayle Pirie and John Clark of Foreign Cinema. First up: Treasures of Asia: Far East to West on Friday, June 1 with Tim Luym of Poleng Lounge, named Rising Star Chef 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Next: High Style in Lowcountry on Saturday, June 9 with Kevin Johnson from Anson restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, described as the "the city's best example of high class Lowcountry cooking" by Wine Spectator.
Weekend package rates at the Ritz-Carlton start at $759 per night for one night accommodation and registration for two to any class.