LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
January 24, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Kudos to the Ritz-Carlton Berlin, which was named the Best Luxury Hotel in Europe by TripAdvisor's 2006 Traveler's Choice Awards. What makes it so special that outspoken TripAdvisor readers felt compelled to cast their votes? Situated right in the heart of Berlin on the prestigious Potsdamer Platz, the Ritz-Carlton Berlin is pretty posh. Guest rooms feature sumptuous marble bathrooms, with signature amenities and the unique service of a Bath Butler. The exclusive gourmet restaurant, Vitrum, is decked out in finery: inlaid Italian marble floors, mirror covered columns, antique Venetian cabinets, and Murano glass chandeliers. At the Curtain Club hotel bar, guests sip aperitifs next to an open fireplace while listening to live jazz. And the La Prairie Boutique Spa is utterly swoon-worthy, a luxurious oasis with health and wellness center and swimming pool set under a ceiling which sparkles with crystals. Signature treatments include Champagne and Caviar (prepare yourself for a gala evening), The Changing Room (the ideal buildup to a night out in Europe's most exciting city), and Jet Lag Recovery (banish the effects of a long-distance flight and stale airplane air). Of course it's the little details which really distinguish luxury hotels like the Ritz-Carlton Berlin. Case in point: the hotel's Joggers Station which supplies fresh towels, mineral water, fruit, and route maps to lucky guests.
The longtime Beverly Hills landmark is getting a makeover. That's right. The Beverly Hilton, proudly situated on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, has announced plans to welcome the first West Coast Waldorf-Astoria hotel as part of its nine-acre hotel property. An extension of Manhattan's legendary art deco hotel, the new hotel will be the first Waldorf-Astoria property under the new brand, and is part of a $500 million investment to revitalize the Beverly Hilton. (After all, even the most legendary and glamorous LA ladies require touch-ups as they age...) The 120 room Waldorf-Astoria will be designed by Gwathmey, Siegal and Associates with contemporary architecture celebrating the city's luxury lifestyle. Together, both hotels will offer spacious gardens, a public art collection, new luxury residences, a destination pool area, and upgraded conference center. They're promising a one-of-a-kind hotel property-- two singular and separate hotel experiences in one location-- that is "unmatched in its diverse offerings, services and amenities for guests and residents of Beverly Hills." Look out, 90210.
Celebrated worldwide for its opulent palaces (and luxurious palace hotels), India's desert state of Rajasthan is a mythical place, rich with cultural history. Indeed, it seems Liz Hurley has been scoping the region for her upcoming wedding to businessman Arun Nayar, and has her eye on the breathtaking Devi Garh Fort Palace. And who can blame her? This palace is the real deal, a magnificently restored royal fort dating from the 18th century. Perched high on a bluff in the Aravali hills outside Udaipur, the Devi Garh Fort Palace commands an impressive position overlooking the valley. The all-suite luxury hotel (39 suites) is a masterpiece of design, embellished with marble and semi-precious stones. (There is even a black marble water maze in one of the magnificent outdoor courtyards.) The premium Devi Gardh suite boasts a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Guests may be irked by her rigid dress code requirements (saris for all!) but they'll surely swoon at the sight of the heavenly spa.
This could be heaven on earth. Situated on the sun-kissed Kohala Coast of Hawaii's Big Island, the AAA five-diamond Mauna Lani Resort is surrounded by a stunning landscape of volcanoes, lush rainforests, endless beaches, and waterfalls. There's tennis, water sports, a children's camp, two championship golf courses, an epic Spa (with a naturally heated lava rock sauna and Aquatic Body Therapy facility), Sport and Fitness Club, and five exquisite dining venues. Because the choices are endless-- a round of golf on the challenging North Course (built on a lava bed older than the Kaniku flow?) or a massage at Hawaii's premier Mauna Lani Spa?-- the good folks at Mauna Lani have made the decision a bit easier for their guests with the "Pick Your Passion" Package. With a full array of exciting options, this package may be the perfect way to discover your favorite activity at the most romantic spot in Hawaii. The "Pick Your Passion" Package includes lodging and one certificate per person (per room night) valid for one of the following: breakfast, lunch or dinner, day of unlimited golf, Golf Academy Session, Spa treatment, personal fitness training, snorkel or sunset cruise, scuba dive, and a volcano helicopter tour. Starting at $595, available until December 19, 2007. So stay five days and discover five new passions.
Tis the season. The fourth annual Winterlicious culinary extravaganza will take Toronto by storm, starting January 26, 2007. For two delicious weeks, Toronto's superb restaurants dazzle diners with mouthwatering culinary events and the ever-popular prix fixe promotion at 130 top dining establishments. This incredible value is also available at Courtyard Cafe, the elegant dining room located at Toronto's most luxurious hotel, the Windsor Arms. A landmark since 1927, the fashionable boutique hotel is a favorite hideaway for celebrities visiting the city, who enjoy sophisticated service, lavish suites, luxurious spa, and fine dining. Courtyard Cafe is beautiful and romantic, and offers a brilliant dining experience with impeccable wait staff. For the 2007 Winterlicious, Windsor Arms Hotel will offer ever-popular prix fixe menus of $20 lunch and $35 dinner. (Beverages, tax, and gratuity are not included.) The lunch menu features starters like roast celeriac and leek puree (with crab claw tempura and coriander essence) and bonito crusted corn and salmon cakes (with red pepper-chile sauce and pickled mushroom fennel slaw), followed by main plates like sole "maki" roulade with prawn mousse, smoked paprika beurre blanc, fingerling confit and haricot vert. The dinner menu is equally as extravagant, with appetizer choices like roasted beets, balsamic poached strawberries, tender greens, mascarpone bavarois and cashew pumpkinseed vinaigrette, followed by braised beef short-ribs with black bean-sherry reduction, white bean ragout and maple roasted brussel sprouts. Created in house, the heavenly desserts are designed to seduce the eyes and delight the palate. Choose from chocolate terrine with pistachio creme anglaise and candied mandarin zest, chocolate walnut roulade with dolce leche mousse and late-harvest wine poached kumquat, or almond-apricot joconde cake with cassis sauce.
Escape to the sultry city of Bangkok and celebrate the season of love at Plaza Athénée, A Royal Meridien Hotel with a special Valentine's Day package. Priced at $209 (per room, per night), the Valentine's Escapade includes complimentary daily breakfast for two, a bottle of Les Amauts red wine and chocolate delights delivered to your room, 30 percent discount on a romantic dinner for two at The Reflexions, and a complimentary $100 Spa voucher, where you can indulge in a Romantic Spa treatment for two at Spa Athénée. The offer is available from February 1-28, 2007 and a two-night minimum stay is required. A true oasis in the heart of Bangkok, the Plaza Athénée is located just minutes from all the best shopping hotspots, and only 30 minutes from the recently opened Suvarnabhumi Airport. The hotel features the super Spa Athenee, a fully equipped gym, squash courts, stately gardens, and a breathtaking outdoor pool with terrace, bar, and teak deck chairs.
Act fast on this exclusive offer from the hottest hotel in Vegas. Now through February 28, 2007, stay at Wynn Las Vegas in a stylish Resort Room and receive a complimentary upgrade (Panoramic View Room) for only $179 a night. What a steal. The first Vegas resort in history to win the coveted Mobil Five Star Award for its Tower Suites, Wynn Las Vegas is the height of luxury. The resort boasts 19 fine dining establishments with superstar chefs, amazing spa, huge casino, and its very own 18-hole championship golf course (the only place on the Strip with such bragging rights). Rooms are positively decadent, especially the Tower Suites wing which have their own VIP check-in, private concierge, spa-like bathrooms, and posh entertaining areas with gorgeous views over the city.
(Black-out dates apply for this special mid-winter rate. Offer available on the following dates only: January 21, 25 and 28 and February 5-7, 11, 19-22, 25-28.)
The conditions are epic. Skiers and snowboarders are dazzled. Since November 1, 2006, North America's number 1 ski resort has been blanketed with over 26 feet (8 meters) of snow. The locals are claiming this is Whistler's best season ever. So what are you waiting for? Escape to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for a magical ski holiday and enjoy Only One Way Winter Rates, starting from just CAD $299 CAD per night (approximately $269 USD). Experience the luxury of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler's sublime accommodations, with adventure right at your doorstep: 8,100 acres of prime ski and snowboard terrain out the front door. (Nestled at the foot of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, the resort boasts excellent ski-in/ski-out facilities.) Relax in the rejuvenating Vida Wellness Spa, enjoy the heated swimming pool with its underwater music, or hit the health club and Eucalyptus steam rooms. The dining experience at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is likewise unforgettable; a talented culinary team crafts exquisite Pacific Northwest cuisine.
The AAA five-diamond Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is Hawaii's premier golf resort. Surrounded by sweeping greens, a historic pineapple plantation, and the rolling blue of the Pacific, the resort is Maui's finest. (It's home to the season-opening, champions only, PGA TOUR event: the Mercedes-Benz Championship.) The facilities take your breath away: six tennis courts, a basketball court, a 10,000-sq-ft three-tiered swimming pool, two outdoor whirlpool spas, nine-hole putting green, croquet and bocce ball lawn, shuffleboard, the 7,000-sq-ft fitness room and spa, and a secluded beach. As if this wasn't enough, the celebrated resort has just announced plans for a big-time transformation. The detailed renovation will feature enhanced dining restaurants, upgrades to the Spa, additional children's activities, 363 renovated guestrooms, and 107 full-ownership Residential Suites. Inspired by the natural beauty of the islands, the interior design concept will use indigenous materials (such as coconut and shells) and feature traditional Hawaiian artwork. Construction kicks off on July 2 and is scheduled for completion by the Holiday Season 2007.
Talk about exceptional customer service. Jamaica's preeminent luxury resort, Half Moon, just introduced a pre-arrival concierge, to help create the ultimate, unique vacation experiences for its guests. The pre-arrival concierge service will gather guest preferences before the guest actually arrives to create a customized itinerary that will include anything from pre-arranged tee times at the resort's newly-renovated golf course, to spa treatments, dinner reservations and off-site excursions. Crave organic snacks for the mini-bar? Now guests can make special requests for items in the mini-bar, in-room amenities, and special deliveries for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Experience the benefits of individually customized service while enjoying excellent savings at Half Moon with the Winter Escapes Packages. Guests reserving Half Moon's luxurious Royal Villas this winter can receive up to $1400 in resort credit! With the Winter Escape package, guests of the Royal Villas who book a minimum of 5 nights will receive a resort credit of $1000 for a 5-bedroom villa, $1200 for a 6-bedroom villa and $1400 for a 7-bedroom villa. The package also includes daily breakfast as well as round-trip airport transfers in Montego Bay. The credit is applicable for restaurants, activities and other services at the resort.
Half Moon's villa rates start at $2000 per night for a luxurious 5-bedroom villa and features the exclusive services of a private butler, cook and housekeeper. Villas range from five- to seven-bedrooms with private en suite bathrooms, spacious living room, dining room and private pool. Guests also have use of two golf carts to traverse the 400-acre resort.
The Winter Escape package is also available for guests staying in any of Half Moon's 204 hotel rooms and suites. Valid for stays through April 15, 2007, with black-out dates from February 14-22, 2007.