No joke. Starwood has just announced an exclusive launch party for their aloft hotel brand with a "3-D computer generated property inside a virtual world." Preview the virtual aloft hotel in Second Life, the "virtual online world where trendsetters are flocking to exchange ideas, egos and virtual property using "avatars," or highly-customized 3D representations of themselves." Starwood's touting it as a "groundbreaking event," and Ben Folds will appear live at the virtual aloft to play brand new tracks from his upcoming release, supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp, due in stores October 24th. To attend the big bash, send an e-mail to frontdesk at virtualaloft.com and request a "VIP invitation." The launch party will take place on October 19th, from 7-9pm EDT. You can also check out the development and building progress for aloft on their blog.
Starting in January, Cathay Pacific will unveil some swanky cabin upgrades. First class-fliers will go gaga over the new seat that can be transformed from armchair, to chaise lounge, to bed (and an extra-long and wide one at that!) Business class passengers will appreciate the seats that recline to fully flat beds. And even the economy folks will enjoy a new seat, designed to let passengers recline without intruding on those seated behind them. (Plus economy fliers will get video and audio on-demand.) This is hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic's announcement—reported by the folks at Mobissimo—of the airline's $25 million investment for newly-designed seats.
Talk about a Grand Slam. Kiawah Island Golf Resort has been racking up the awards lately. It's been selected as the Best Golf Resort in the US by Travel and Leisure Golf. Readers of Travel and Leisure Family recently rated Kiawah as the Top Family Resort in the East. Golf Digest awarded the Ocean Course a perfect 5 stars rating in the "Best Places to Play," and Golf Magazine ranked the Ocean Course as No. 3 in the "Top 100 You Can Play," ahead of Pinehurst and Torrey Pines. And Tennis Magazine ranked Kiawah as the number one resort. Wow.
After $177 million in renovations since 1997, including the addition of the gorgeous luxury hotel The Sanctuary, Kiawah has dazzled its guests with gracious hospitality and superb facilities. Families are attracted to the excellent recreational activities, including beach, biking, tennis, and fabulous children's programs. And golfers are lured to the five world-championship courses, including the famed Ocean Course, recently redesigned by Pete Dye with a $4 million overhaul (the 18th green is now right next to the ocean). There's a brand new, 24,000 sq-foot Club House in the works, with wrap-around porches overlooking the dunes, slated to open in May 2007 in time for the PGA Senior Open Championship. Kiawah has a number of excellent Fall Golf Packages, which include three nights accommodations, breakfast and dinner, and all greens fees for three rounds of golf. Starting from $313, per person, per night.
Business taking you to Kazakhstan? (Rich oil, gas, and mineral reserves means rapid development for the country, and Almaty is now the economic heart of it all.) The city's finest hotel—the Regent—has recently been acquired by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, and will morph into the brand spanking new InterContinental Almaty this month. The 290-room hotel has long been a city landmark, situated across from the presidential palace, with beautiful mountain views. After a substantial refurbishment, the hotel will feature nine executive and two Presidential suites, oodles of dining options, a Spa and Turkish baths, and fully-equipped fitness center. Notably, the new hotel will boast the most extensive meeting and conference facilities in the city, including a ballroom with a capacity of 400.
Be the first to experience the newly-renovated Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and Club after its $100 million face-lift. Located midway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Fairmont Turnberry Isle is a Mediterranean-style resort renowned for its golf, tennis, spa, and ocean club. But after the six month renovation, the resort is about to add another meaning to the word "luxury" on its reopening on December 15, 2006. Ready for the ultra-luxurious details?
The 392 oversized, oceanfront rooms and suites have received millions in upgrades: furnishings, flooring, complete bathroom renovations, new flat screen televisions, and patio furniture. The two championship golf courses have been completely redesigned by golf Hall of Fame recipient Ray Floyd, with a $30 million investment for elevation changes and new contours amidst the lush tropical grounds. The Willow Stream Spa and fitness center has also been completely refurbished, along with the Golf Pro Shop. The tennis courts are now lit for night-play, and the private Ocean Club just got a little swankier with a complete make-over.
The moment we've all been waiting for. Come October 14, 2006, the first in a series of exhibits from the Musee de Louvre in Paris opens at Atlanta's High Museum of Art. The unprecedented three-year partnership, dubbed simply Louvre Atlanta, will begin with the Royal Collections, a dazzling array of paintings, sculptures drawings from master artists, that once belonged to the kings of France. The opening day celebrations include art-making activities for children, live music in the Piazza, theater, the French Poodle Parade, classic French mime, and other special performances. The two area Ritz-Carlton hotels have organized a Louvre Atlanta package for visitors to enjoy the fantastic exhibit. The package includes one night's luxurious accommodations, full breakfast for two, valet parking, and a pair of tickets to the museum exhibit. Available through December 2006. Starting at $249 at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, an elegant address in the heart of downtown, and $299 at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, located uptown across the street from the acclaimed Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza shopping malls.
The capital of the UAE is glamming it up. These days, Abu Dhabi is experiencing a fashionable revitalization, mirroring the prosperous growth of nearby Dubai. A booming real estate market means a new city convention center, lots of hip restaurants... and five-star hotels are opening their doors. In fact, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts recently announced the February 2007 opening of the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi-- a joint project with the Al Jaber Establishment and Tourism Development and Investment Company. Situated on a 21 acre property facing a 1,000 meter-long private beach, the 214-room luxury hotel will feature CHI (the signature spa), myriad dining options (including poolside bar and a lively souk), health club, five outdoor pools and water sports, and luxurious sea-facing accommodations.
Now is the time to visit Hong Kong. The city is simply hopping with festivals and good times. From October 20-November 19, 2006, the New Vision Arts Festival-- highlighting the connections between East and West-- is a month-long cultural extravaganza of art, modern dance, Chinese opera, theater and ballet. And starting October 25, Hong Kong Winterfest will transform the city into a winter wonderland. A must-see is the newly-renovated Peak Tower. Hong Kong's iconic landmark has undergone a multi-million dollar makeover and is now welcoming visitors to take in the dramatic city views. The entire rooftop has been turned into a viewing platform, high-end restaurants have opened in addition to the fast food joints, and the rooftop Sky Gallery now showcases the work of local artists.
Be pampered in style at the legendary Peninsula Hong Kong, long hailed as one of the finest hotels in the world. Even if an overnight stay's not in the works, you can now enjoy a luxurious Weekday Spa Escape at the hotel. Escape from the hectic pace of city life for the ultimate in rejuvenation. The 'Weekday Spa Escape' includes full use of the Peninsula Spa facilities (including harbor view sauna and crystal steam room, relaxation areas, Asian Tea Lounge and the hotel's Greco-Roman-style swimming pool), an ESPA salt and oil full-body exfoliation (30 minutes), ESPA aromatherapy body massage (1hr 20 minutes), plus a light lunch by the pool, featuring 'Naturally Peninsula' light and healthy cuisine. All for just HK$1,800 per person.
Rest assured, it's got bulletproof windows and doors, along with the brilliant views of Lake Geneva. After all, the folks who stake out the famed Imperial Suite are heads of state, billionaires, and celebs looking to
squander their cash spend. The Imperial Suite takes up the entire floor of the art deco Hotel President Wilson, reached via private elevator. Overlooking the Lake, the bay windows and private terrace offer incredible vistas of Mont Blanc and the Alps. In addition to the four bedrooms, the suite features five bathrooms with mosaic marble floors, Jacuzzi and steam bath, living room with billiards table, and library. The cocktail lounge can accommodate 40 people, while the dining room seats 26, so no need to venture out on the town (when you can bring the party to you). Though the hotel does boast an excellent location in the heart of Geneva, with easy access to the sites, shops, restaurants, and businesses. All this for just $50,000 a night. Talk about bang for your buck.
That's right. The InterContinental Hotels Group has partnered with TurnHere to create a series of local video guides narrated by the concierges of Intercontinental Hotels across the United States. First up: the insider's guide to the nation's capital, brought to you by Robert Watson, the lovely concierge at the Willard InterContinental Washington DC, the grand historic landmark known as the "Crown Jewel of Pennsylvania Avenue." The free video is lively, informative, and a fun (and free) overview of the city's neighborhoods, sites, and restaurants. Plus you'll get the inside scoop on the locals' favorite haunts and stomping grounds. Check it out.