LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
February 19, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Look out, South Florida; St. Regis is coming to the beach. Scheduled to open on May 1, 2007, the new St. Regis Fort Lauderdale is bringing a whole new level of luxury to Florida's Gold Coast. With signature St. Regis Butler Service and exceptional facilities, St. Regis Fort Lauderdale promises ultra-luxury for guests: whether pool-side, beach-side, at the spa, golfing, or fishing. Celebrated interior designers Hirsch Bedner Associates have created an indulgent haven of seaside elegance; the 166 guest rooms, including 8 oceanfront and 20 Intracoastal suites, were designed "to evoke the glamorous era of vintage yachting and luxe travel," and showcase sweeping views of the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. The hotel will feature a state-of-the-art fitness facility, 8,500 sq. foot exclusive St. Regis Spa, pristine outdoor pool area, private cabana terrace, business center, and dazzling dining room.
This spring, Grace Bay Club will re-open its original landmark hotel building after a $6 million, year-long transformation. Now both families and couples can experience this luxurious all-suite resort experience in the Caribbean. The 11-acre property comprises The Hotel, a romantic adults-only enclave of 21 opulent suites which will open in the spring; The Villas, a family-friendly retreat with 38 expansive luxury suites and one-of-a-kind penthouses, and The Estate, a collection of 22 custom residences and penthouse suites set to debut in 2008. Poised on the spectacular Grace Bay Beach on Provedenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the resort features three dining venues, the Anani Spa, an imaginative kids' program, and a full array of recreational activities, including tennis and oodles of water sports. Recently named "Most Excellent Resort" in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific by Condé Nast Johansens, Grace Bay Club is consistently ranked among the world's finest resorts.
Smack in the middle of "the world's most absurd adult playground" (to quote Aarib Gulley in "Double Down," Outside Traveler's Winter issue), amidst the glitz and all that nonstop action, Canyon Ranch SpaClub provides a quiet haven of tranquility. Located on the fourth floor of the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, the spa is a 69,000 square-ft mega-facility complete with health and wellness center, massage, skin care and body treatments, gyms and weights rooms, therapeutic pools, and a three-story rock-climbing wall. Sumptuous massages and treatments truly run the gamut. As described by Fodor's:
The extensive treatment menu here covers any desire, including Tibetan Bowl Healing and an Ayurvedic herbal rejuvenating treatment. The unusual Rasul Ceremony is a Middle Eastern treatment of herbal steam and medicinal mud in a tiled steam chamber -- perfect for couples. The nutrition, wellness, and exercise physiology departments also offer free lectures, Lifetime Nutrition Consultation, and acupuncture. An adjoining café serves healthy cuisine and smoothies.
In an era of premium air travel for the uber-rich, the likes of which has never been seen before, Singapore Airlines proves itself a trendsetter with the launch of its new fleet of Boeing 777-300ER's. As described by ABC News, the "Orient Express of the skies" makes the 20-hour flights seem short:
For a mere $10,000, first class airline passengers can now rest their champagne glasses on mahogany tables as they hunker down in Givenchy sleep suits in 30-inch leather seats that turn into cozy beds.
This is luxury flying at its finest, with the world's widest First and Business Class seats, enhanced personal space, awesome entertainment systems, and tempting cuisine. In addition, Singapore Airlines is scheduled to launch its new 555-seat Airbus 380 in October, which will boast a bar on each deck.
A member of Starwood's prestigious Luxury Collection, the US Grant is an historical classic, built in 1910 by Ulysses S. Grant Jr. to honor his war-hero father. After a $52 million renovation, the legendary Edwardian hotel re-opened in November 2006. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the US Grant blends classic beaux arts architecture with exceptional contemporary design including $6.5 million in newly commissioned art. Walk through the grand entrance on Fourth Avenue, step into the opulent lobby, and experience the era of elegance.
The pinnacle of the 11-story hotel are the two bi-level Presidential suites. These suites offer multi-level residential comfort in the heart of the cosmopolitan city, just steps from the lively Gaslamp Quarter. These enormous suites are comprised of an upper floor private master bedroom and lower level living room and formal dining room, exquisitely furnished. Of course this posh Presidential Suite offers more than creature comforts: the Luxury Collection bed, Italian linens, plush robes, warm slippers, and the latest in audio and visual technology perfect the sumptuous experience.
The landmark Hay-Adams Hotel, the residence of choice while visiting the nation's capital, has scored another award to add to its impressive list. Winners of the 2007 Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence were announced by Cindy Crawford on February 5 at LA's Hotel Bel-Air:
The awards are given annually to those properties worldwide that represent the finest standards and best value for money in luxury and independent accommodation, as chosen by its readers, hotel guests and Condé Nast Johansens inspection teams.
And the winner for Most Excellent Hotel (USA and Canada) is... DC's supremely luxurious Hay-Adams. Can't really say that I'm surprised. This hotel has serious bragging rights: a location just across Lafayette Square from The White House, warm service, impeccable style, and an impressive history.
According to the US Department of Transportation, there are more than half-million pets which fly each year. But navigating the rules and regs for flying with Fido can be tricky. Which airlines boycott pugs? When are fees required? Which airlines ban pets from the cabin? What if Fido needs his Prozac? CNN's got the skinny, with a list of helpful hints about the different airline policies. A sampling: pets must be considered "healthy" (with health certificates sometimes required to prove it), Southwest bans pets altogether while American and Northwest charge $80 for pets to fly in the cabin, and of course, no snakes are allowed on the plane. (Tip: "Do not feed or give water to your pet two hours before departure.")
It may be sleeting, hailing, snowing (et freaking cetera) in this hemisphere, but the sun is shining in Cape Town. For those in desperate need of the summer sun, take off for Cape Town to bask in some sizzling temperatures. Twelve Apostles is the place to be, perfectly situated above the sea with stunning views of the mountains. The hotel boasts equally as stupendous accommodations and facilities: heated pools perched above the Atlantic, the exquisite Azure restaurant, the seriously sublime Sanctuary Spa, and panoramic sea views that go on forever. Of course Twelve Apostles has racked up a slew of impressive awards and accolades, as befits one of the world’s best hotels. When you stay for three nights at Twelve Apostles, get the fourth for free, along with a slew of added amenities thrown in. Like welcome drinks, full South African breakfast daily, wine tasting daily in Azure restaurant, complimentary transfers, and use of the hydrotherapy pools, aroma sauna and flotation tank at the Sanctuary Spa.
As if a stay at the Banyan Tree in the Maldives wasn't magical enough. The resort has organized sailing expeditions aboard the Turkish gulet, a 30-meter double-mast yacht named Velaa. Elegantly appointed, the yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in comfortable mahogany cabins for one-, two-, and three-night adventures to the best dive spots in the North and South Male Atolls of the Maldives archipelago. With five-star service onboard, gourmet cuisine, daily canapés and drinks, and luxurious cabins equipped with LCD TV screens and DVD players, this isn't exactly roughing it. Soak up the sunshine from the ship's deck, picnic on secluded beaches, explore the wonders of the deep, diving with grey reef sharks, eagle rays, barracuda, stonefish and turtles. After your unforgettable journey, return to the luxury of Banyan Tree Maldives for some more pampering.
Headed to Sonoma wine country? Forget trying to score a reservation at French Laundry. Head to Cyrus, the gem of a restaurant nestled just off the square in Healdsburg, housed in the superb Les Mars hotel. Rising Star Chef Douglas Keane and Maitre d' Nick Peyton offer contemporary cuisine in a flexible prix fixe format of three to five courses selected from any section of the beautiful menu. The ingredients are luxurious, the best from California's enormous bounty. Devour the terrine of foie gras with plum-ginger compote; corn, chanterelle and pancetta pansotti with cranberry beans, arugula and nage; or rack of lamb with eggplant ragout, fregola and stuffed squash blossom. Bartender Scott Beattie creates drinks to match, like the Creole Watermelon, a blend of vodka, crushed red watermelon, lime juice and Fresno chile rings, garnished with a triangle of watermelon rubbed with lime juice, kosher salt and chili powder. And if cocktails aren't your thing, Sommelier Jim Rollston's extensive wine list has over 750 world class wines, with a special focus on Sonoma appellations.