May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
As if you needed another reason to go to Florence. The newly-opened Villa Olmi Resort, poised on a six hectare estate just outside the gates of Florence, has been renovated into one of the region's most exclusive and enchanting properties. The park and Italian gardens have been witness to centuries of history, dating back to the Renaissance, and the beautiful Villa still retains original characteristics such as 18th century murals. Villa Olmi is comprised of three main buildings: the Villa, the Country House and the Colonica, now gorgeous hotel facilities. The restoration was a careful and diligent process, managed by the Government Service for Monuments. And the hotel, with its focus on privacy and careful attention to detail, preserves an aura of an 18th century private nobleman's home. The 50 rooms and suites don't skimp on modern conveniences; they're loaded with Wi-Fi, plasma TV screens, DVD players, marble bathrooms with jacuzzis, and individual air-comfort systems in-room.
A fast ride on a hydrofoil and you feel a million miles away from the big city. The island's landscape could almost be the flower-studded hills of a Mediterranean isle, surrounded by the deep blue of sea and sky. Welcome to Santa Catalina (here feel free to break into song: Twenty- six miles across the sea; Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me; Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance.) Even a day-trip from LA can be a rejuvenating escape. Explore the beautiful coast by mountain bike, kayak, or by foot, stroll through the village, or hit the beach and soak up the sun. This month, Islands Magazine features Santa Catalina as one of four American islands to visit this summer.
Introducing the speaker system that also charges your bad-ass fifth generation iPod. The Sonic Impact i-Fusion is the first rechargeable, portable speaker case system out there. The nifty i-Fusion sports a built-in docking station made exclusively for the iPod and iPod mini. With its patented Maxxbass psycho-acoustic technology, the i-Fusion boasts the best sound in its category. Powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Also features a durable hard cover case to store and protect you're built in speakers and your iPod. $150
Via Outside Magazine
The recently renovated Gran Melia Fenix offers distinguished rooms and service to the most discerning of visitors to Spain's buzzing capital. The 215 guest rooms are exquisitely decorated in 19th century style, and equipped with cutting-edge technology: domestic control systems, Bang and Olufsen TVs, three phones and internet access, CD player, and electronic mini-bars. All complimented by highly-personalized service and excellent fine dining. Book a suite and enjoy the outdoor jacuzzi with awesome views of the city. But the best part of all is the exclusive Royal Service Floor, where guests are spoiled with the private reception area, butler service, pillow menu, private buffet and permanent bar.
Forget the big group tours at the Louvre, or commercial two- and three-country package tours sprouting up to appease eager fans of Dan Brown's best-selling novel. Dukes Hotel in London does it right, with a "Dukes Does Da Vinci" package with a private guide and driver tracking the scenes and clues from the book. And with the movie set to hit the big screen in a matter of days, and the best London season fast approaching, what a better time to cross the big pond and crack the code. Dukes is an award-winning, privately-owned hotel set within a quiet courtyard between Mayfair and Green Park, with a prime location near the city's finest restaurants, theaters and museums. Their Da Vinci Code tour is a three-hour adventure, offered in the morning or afternoon, with private car and guide who encourages guests to track the book's clues, stopping to visit each relevant, noteworthy site. The three-day package includes: accommodation in a Classic room, double occupancy, full English breakfast for two daily, private three-hour "Da Vinci Code Tour" with car and driver, picnic lunch in St. James's Park before or after the tour, foot massage for two (20 minutes each), two martinis in Dukes Bar, dinner at Dukes Restaurant for two (excluding beverages). Offered for Friday night arrivals now through July 24, or any day from July 24-September 10. GBP 1050, inclusive of VAT.
It's big, it's bad…Royal Caribbean's new boat eclipses them all. Freedom of the Seas is set to sail, and the media is abuzz. At 208 feet tall, weighing 160,000 tons, and with a capacity for 4,000 passengers, this baby dwarfs Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and grabs the title of world's biggest passenger ship. The mother of them all sports some pretty nifty "firsts" in the cruising world: rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with (Good God) Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing pool called "Flow Rider." And as recommended by Fodor's, the perfect family cruise experience. Look out, Caribbean.
Fodor's Travel Wire, "Royal Caribbean's Big New Boat"
A Luxury Travel Blog, "Freedom of the Seas in Hamburg"
Yahoo! News, "Freedom of the Seas Is Largest Ship Ever"
Come November, the new InterContinental Boston will bring five star rooms (424 of them) to a stellar location overlooking Boston Harbor within walking distance of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. According to the Boston Herald, bookings for corporate events are already taking off. And it's no wonder--the hotel will have a prime spot near the Convention Center, the second largest ballroom in downtown (a total of 32,000 sq ft of conference and banquet facilities), state-of-the-art technology, and a classy interior of rich paneling, marble and leather. Boston is welcoming a hotel boom at the moment with exemplary spots like this one. As described by the Herald, here's a taste of what’s to come:
The exterior, a bold statement for Boston, features sleek, modern glass. The windows on the front of the hotel facing Atlantic Avenue curve in and out to evoke the feeling of a flag. On the harborside, they are curved in to convey a sail.
Courtesy of Forbes.com. Vanity Fair's Oscar Party? Been there, done that. But what about Le Bal Des Debutantes, at the smashing Hotel de Crillon in Paris? Or the Monte Carlo Red Cross gala? Or Playboy's Midsummer Night's Dream Party? (The full list of high-rollers hang-outs is here.) Hurry up and score an invite! You're so there.
Not only are airlines continuing to lose bags at an abysmal rate, but now they're slapping on the baggage fees (overweight bag and you'll have to pony up the dough). Hence the launch of luggage shipping. Skip the hassle of airport check-in, kiss goodbye to bag-schlepping on taxis and trains, avoid the wait at baggage claim, and travel worry-free knowing that your bags will be waiting for you at your destination. Brilliant. Who are the big guys in luggage shipping? Luggage Free bills itself the "luxury luggage delivery expert," specializing in the delivery of excess baggage, golf clubs, skis and oversize stuff. Luggage Concierge offers competitive pricing and a first-class experience, with solid insurance coverage. Luggage Forward provides door-to-door luggage and sports equipment delivery to more than 200 countries globally. Luggage Forward recently announced a sweet new development in their business model: a walk-up forwarding location at the Nantucket Memorial Airport. The fully-staffed counter will be available during the busy summer season, and is the first instance of a luggage forwarding company creating a satellite location. By now, discerning travelers have caught on to the trend of luggage forwarding. Pray tell: how do you like it? What has been your experience? How many days does the process require? Will you ever check baggage on your flights again? Fill us in!
Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.