LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
Skip the stressful holiday get-togethers and create your own holiday vacation, chilling at four participating Omni Hotels. The unique "Run from the Relatives" package is available from November 18, 2006 to January 7, 2007 at the Omni San Diego, Omni Los Angeles, Omni Tucson, and Omni Interlocken (in Colorado). Soak up the sun or hit the slopes and enjoy 50 percent off rack rates, starting at just $199 per night. The package includes accommodations, breakfast for two in-room, a "whimsical pre-printed menu of excuses" to give relatives, and a $50 American Express gift card "to send to family members to apologize for not seeing them for the holiday."
Americans will spend a record $511 billion dining out this year. And prices at the country's best restaurants are skyrocketing, in part to keep up with the rising cost of high-quality, locally-grown, artisanal ingredients. Forbes has teamed up with the Zagat Survey to determine the priciest restaurants in the US, and topping the list is Masa, the NYC sushi restaurant in the Time Warner Center where the price of dinner for one is about $446. Also on the list? Napa Valley's epic French Laundry ($254 per person), Chicago's futuristic Alinea (12 and 24 course menus are $125 and $175 respectively), Philadelphia's landmark Le Bec-Fin ($120), Alex at Steve Wynn's opulent Vegas hotel ($114), and elegant Virginia establishment The Inn at Little Washington ($141).
From its perch overlooking the largest private beach on the Croisette, the Hotel Martinez reigns over the glamorous French Riviera. The legendary Art Deco palace, the glitzy hotel of choice during the Cannes film festival, is home to one of the few Givenchy spas in the world (and highly-acclaimed top-floor terrace suites that offer panoramic views of the sea from teakwood decks and sunken Jacuzzis). This New Year's Eve, the Hotel Martinez celebrates its film legacy by paying tribute to Bollywood magic. On December 31, the Hotel Martinez transforms the Salon Royal Galuchat to become a fairytale palace reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. There will be a show with dancers, acrobats, singers and musicians a la Bollywood, and a superb dinner with elegant food tastings and wine pairings prepared by chefs Christian Willer and Christian Sinicropi. The "Indian Fairytale New Year's Eve Party" includes the show, gourmet dinner including a bottle of champagne for two, wines chosen by the Master Sommelier, overnight accommodation in a Superior room, buffet breakfast in the restaurant or in-room on New Year's Day, and entry to the fitness area and sauna. The package starts at EUR 915 for two. Extra nights are available from EUR 195 per night, breakfast included.
Hot off the press. Conde Nast Traveler has announced the results of the 19th Annual Readers' Choice Awards—the largest independent poll of consumers' preferences, second in size only to the US Census. (That's a whopping 21,000 travelers voting in this year's survey.)
The number one resort in the big US of A? The perennial preference, our esteemed favorite, the gorgeous Scottsdale resort: Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. The destination spa is surrounded by the magical desert landscape and red rock mountain peaks of the American Southwest, and everything about a stay here is luxurious. An altogether sumptuous experience.
For more info about the other Readers' Choice winners (cruises, airlines, top cities), check out the November 2006 issue of the magazine, which hits newsstands on October 24. Or tune to the Travel Channel on October 25 at 8 pm (ET/PT) for the premiere of the program titled Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards.
Forget the plush Gulfstream G5 or Global Express of the private jet world. The super-rich are opting to upgrade to ultra-luxurious VIP jumbo jets. As profiled in the NYT:
This is about big, long-haul airliners that are converted to private jets and can carry not only pampered passengers and their entourages, but also, in some cases, their Rolls Royces and racehorses. These are specially equipped, privately owned jumbo jets — the kind that normally carry as many 300 to 400 passengers — but reconfigured with interiors designed for the enjoyment of, at most, a couple of dozen.
The newest, coveted jet on the market? The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which seats 210 to 330 passengers as a commercial airliner but is configured with 35 seats under a new "V.I.P" design, and priced starting at $150 million.
Even though the first deliveries of the 787 are not expected until 2008, industry experts say that marketing interior design plans now makes sense because there is always great interest in the next big thing at the highest end of the luxury private jet market. Ordering now ensures getting into the front of the line for a private 787, fully loaded, they say.
Better get crackin'. But be prepared to tack on another $50 million for the fully-loaded interior.
Chocolate chip cookies with milk, Frette robes, "mocktails"… Dublin's luxurious five-star Merrion Hotel has unveiled the "Miss and Master Merrion" program, where young guests are welcomed with a slew of complimentary amenities (and pampered alongside their 'rents). While children are delighted by the in-room milk and cookies (note: healthier options are available), babies receive complimentary products such as baby wash, moisturizer, talcum powder, and bottles. Frette children's robes and slippers are available in-room, and also at the Tethra Spa. Special children's menus include delightful homemade options including real chicken nuggets, chicken noodle soup, homemade pizza, and pigs in a blanket. And the bartender at No. 23 or The Cellar Bar can even prepare "mocktails" for kids to enjoy alongside their parents. (There's a wealth of family entertainment in Dublin-- from the Dublin Zoo to the Lambert Puppet Theater--easily arranged by the Merrion concierge.)
You are invited to a special culinary event at the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Georgia's celebrated French-style Chateau with a full-production winery renowned for its award-winning premium vintages. On November 3, 2006, the Chateau will host a fun-filled evening of exquisite cuisine and fine wine in the Cask Room, with Executive Chef Marc Suennemann and Winemaker Dan Baldwin. Enjoy a beautifully-prepared Five-Course Dinner for Two, luxurious overnight accommodations, a specially labeled bottle of Chateau Elan wine, and breakfast for two the following morning at Versailles. Seating is limited and the cost of the two-person package is $469 (excluding tax). Situated just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, the Chateau Elan is surrounded by 3,500 acres of picturesque vineyards. In addition to the winery, the resort boasts a fabulous spa and dining establishments.
Music City is home to many lively restaurants, bars, and nightlife where famed entertainers first made their mark. But Nashville's also full of museums, exciting attractions, culture, and art (try symphony, ballet, opera…) And the city positively comes alive during the holiday season. Visitors to Nashville can enjoy the Ray Charles exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Broadway's The Lion King at the Tennessee Performing Art's Center, Victorian Holiday Tours at Belle Meade Plantation, and the Titans vs. Patriots game on New Year's Eve. Book a room at the AAA five diamond award-winning Hermitage Hotel and experience the exceptional personalized service and first-rate facilities cited by the Robb Report when naming it one of the world's best luxury hotels. After a $19 million renovation, the historic Hermitage hotel shines as the city's finest, with its exquisite stained glass lobby ceiling, marble columns and staircases, and Russian walnut paneling. The elegant hotel is offering festive packages for the holiday season.
The secret's out about Itacaré. The favorite destination of Gisele and Sean Penn—a tropical paradise of white sand, lush palms, waterfalls, mangrove swamps and turquoise waters-- will witness the hottest luxury hotel opening in 2007, with the debut of the gorgeous eco-resort Warapuru. Wallpaper* hails it as a "Bond-style hideaway" that is "set to become the country's most exclusive retreat." And to quote the Fall issue of the New York Times Style Magazine:
While progressively more luxurious eco-resorts have been opening in early-adopting regions, the boom is currently spreading to more surprising destinations — like megapolluting Brazil. "Anyone with any feeling for the world is going green," says the cult interior designer Anouska Hempel, who is at work on Warapuru, a lavish eco-resort set to open next year on Brazil's north coast; made entirely of locally sourced materials, it will have customized spa treatments using native plants.
Anouska Hempel (who did Blakes in London and The Hempel in Amsterdam) has created a modern visual masterpiece, nestled within the rainforest canopy on a unique coastline. Warapuru will have 40 pavilions, beach club, restaurants, and exclusive spa. Opening set for early 2007.
Stay slopeside at the luxurious Pines Lodge, and dine like a king at the Grouse Mountain Grill, the AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant that features stunning views of Beaver Creek Resort. Zagat raves about the joint as the best in the region, and Grouse is the highlight of the annual Beaver Creek Culinary Festival. Executive Chef Ted Schneider prepares elegant game, beef, fish and fowl with a signature rustic style, served graciously in a warm, welcoming environment. For a divine taste of Grouse Mountain, try the recipe for honey & lemon venison osso buco with goat cheese risotto at home:
Honey & Lemon Venison Osso Buco
with Goat Cheese Risotto
8 venison shanks, cut "osso buco" style
3 T vegetable oil
1 cup lemon peel, fresh
2 cups lemon juice
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sauce
Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper venison shanks. Dredge in flour and fry in vegetable oil, turning to make sure both sides have browned. Place in a baking dish. Add lemon juice, honey, lemon peel and brown sauce. Bake at 350° covered for 1 to 2 hours or until "fork" tender. Skim off excess fat, and serve over the goat cheese risotto with some of the sauce.
Goat Cheese Risotto
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock, hot
4 T butter
6 oz goat cheese, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and stir until translucent. Add rice, stir until coated with oil. Add wine and simmer until evaporated. Add half chicken stock, simmer until evaporated. Add remaining stock and simmer until evaporated until rice is soft on the outside with a chewy center. If rice is crunchy, add another cup of stock and allow it to evaporate. Repeat if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.