LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
First: the good news. The prestigious Mobil Travel guide has unveiled its fourth annual ratings of North America's top hotel and resort spas and Montage tops the list, along with the Mandarin Oriental, New York, as the only Mobil Five-Star winners. After all, this super-luxury resort has a serious wow-factor. Perched on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific in South Laguna, Montage = oceanfront opulence. Surrounded by three pools, white sand beaches and lush landscaping, the spa is as elegant as they come. Now, the bad news. On Sunday, a couple was shot dead in their resort bungalow after a confrontation with the police. Details are still emerging.
Get ready, Jakarta. The city's getting another luxury addition. Ritz-Carlton has staked its claim to the city's newest and hottest development, Pacific Place, where the hotel company is planning to open a 62-room boutique hotel sometime this year. Located in the heart of Jakarta's central commercial district, adjacent to the Jakarta Stock Exchange, Pacific Place is described as "the nation's benchmark development." Ritz-Carlton is promising the largest suites in the city, a 44,000 square foot ballroom, and dedicated concierge service with complimentary food and beverage presentations throughout the day in the Club Level. Of course the biggest draw is access to Pacific Place's upscale shopping, dining, office tower, and entertainment.
High-end restaurants in SF abound. But Michael Mina's namesake restaurant, housed in the landmark Westin St. Francis on Union Square, genuinely dazzles serious SF diners with create-your-own prix fixe three-course dinners centered around fresh seasonal ingredients. Offerings are unique and extravagant. Plus, the wine list includes 2,200 wines from all over the world. Awarded two Michelin stars, Michael Mina continues to get lots of hype. Executive Chef Michael Mina was named Bon Appetit Chef of the Year 2005-2006, San Francisco Magazine Chef of the Year 2005-2006, as well as Restaurateur of the Year 2005-2006 by the International Food and Beverage Forum.
Sexy and sophisticated, Hotel Urban boasts much more than a fantastic location (within walking distance to the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, and the Puerta del Sol). The most stylish hotel in the city also showcases the coolest terrace in the city, where hipsters imbibe cocktails under the stars overlooking the urban center of Madrid. La Terraza del Urban is located at the highest point of the hotel and, like the hotel itself, is a wonder of modern design. The swimming pool and solarium are added draws. This place is simply hopping.
Plan a spring escape to the magical city of Savannah and experience the ultimate in Southern hospitality at The Mansion on Forsyth Park. Housed in a restored Victorian mansion in the heart of the historic district, the hotel is magnificent: onyx marble lobby, opulent furnishings, graced by the collection of over 400 pieces of original artwork. Rooms are likewise swoon-worthy, appointed with sumptuous fabrics and all of the technological conveniences expected by the 21st century traveler. Relax at the spa and indulge in the celebrated cuisine at the hotel's restaurant. Or try your hand at preparing your own tasty meals at the hotel's 700 Kitchen Cooking School, where hands-on classes are overseen by Chef Darin Sehnert, Culinary Director. (You can even arrange a private party or special event at the cooking school.) Hone your culinary skills and learn new flavorful recipes with the two-night Culinary Getaway Package at The Mansion on Forsyth Park. Sherman's Travel Magazine recommends the package as a real deal. Priced from $437 per night, the package has extras which are worth $300 alone. Includes two nights in a Premium King room, one culinary class per person at 700 Kitchen Cooking School, gourmet breakfast for two, three-course dinner for two at 700 Drayton restaurant, and complimentary 700 Kitchen aprons.
Often described as the "Venice of the North" or "another Amsterdam," the magical city of Bruges is an untouristed delight. As recently featured in a NYT article about Affordable Europe/Second-Tier Cities, Bruges is a less-pricey alternative for a European holiday:
Bruges, a medieval city in the Flemish region of Belgium, has fairy-tale streets, gingerbread houses and winding canals that lead to old windmills.
The city itself is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its 50 picturesque canals and charming medieval buildings. The newly-refurbished Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo has put together a special package for visitors to enjoy both Bruges and the lively capital city of Brussels. Superbly located in the very heart of the capital, adjacent to the Grand Palace, Hotel Amigo now provides the best luxury digs in Brussels. The "Bruges Your Way" package, starting at EUR 511 for two nights, includes accommodations in a Classic room, full buffet breakfast at the Ristorante Bocconi, one first-class return train ticket (Brussels-Bruges) per person, guide and map of Bruges, map of Brussels, and a box of Pierre Marcolini chocolates in your room upon arrival.
Indulge in some guilt-free pampering-- safari-style-- at the Rift Valley's stunning Shompole lodge. Overlooking the sun-bleached savannah near the Tanzanian border, Shompole is a luxurious outpost surrounded by pristine wilderness. Tented rooms are composed of quartz floors and pale thatch roofs, blending perfectly into the surroundings. From your own private "cool-pool," gaze out across the valley while lounging in blissful seclusion. The resort is managed by both a private safari company and members of the local Masai tribes, and sets an example for its environmental and social programs: wildlife conservation projects, the use of solar power, and low-impact building practices. Shompole has lured savy travelers with its exquisite accommodations and services, but now that green travel has gone mainstream, this eco-friendly resort will no doubt shine in the media spotlight. Guests enjoy safaris to view the big game and incredible wildlife, along with trips to the Shompole village and Flamingo breeding habitats at the alkaline lakes Magadi and Natron.
April 23, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Claridge's in London enlisted the British furniture and design company LINLEY to create new interior schemes for eleven of its sixty-three suites. Each of the one- or two-bedroom suites will be individually appointed; guests will enjoy both 'traditional' and 'art deco' themed suites.
One-bedroom Linley suites are 105 square metres/1,130 square feet (approximately) with one King size bed. The entrance hall leads to a large sitting room and the marble bathrooms are bright and spacious. Some of the one-bedroom suites offer a large walk-in wardrobe and a guest bathroom. The Two-Bedroom Linley suites offer King size beds. The entrance hall leads to a large sitting-room and the marble bathroom-- accessed via a striking dressing-room-- is sumptuously spacious. Rates for the Linley suites start at £2,500 for one-bedroom and £3,250 for a two-bedroom.
You can view more images of the new LINLEY suite designs from Claridge's.
Sunshine seekers, botanists, landscape lovers: pay heed. The LA Times Daily Deal Blog has highlighted an excellent getaway for visitors to SoCal. Discover the rugged beauty of the spectacular Desert Garden at Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. Celebrating its 100th birthday, the Desert Garden showcases magnificent cacti and rare specimens, some of which are no longer found in the wild. Shack up at Pasadena's landmark hotel, the splendid turn-of-the-century Ritz-Carlton Huntington, and take advantage of the Ritz-Carlton Cultural Escape Package, starting at $305. Available through December 28, 2007, the package includes accommodations for one night, breakfast for two on the Terrace, complimentary valet parking, and tickets to either the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens or the Norton Simon Museum.
April 20, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Chinese capital's in the press a lot these-- mind-boggling economic growth, the new city-wide anti-spitting campaign, and all the buzz for the imminent Olympic games. After all, tickets have just gone on-sale! So once you've secured seats for your favorite sporting event, it's time to think lodging. The place to stay in Beijing is the new Raffles, awarded "Best New City Hotel" by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report (2007) and also listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s 2007 "Hot List." Dating from the 1900's, the distinguished hotel is an architectural icon in the city. The location is ideal, just minutes from the Forbidden City and historic Tiananmen Square. The 171 guest rooms are downright decadent.