January 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Informed by a well-traveled reader, I couldn't keep the secret. For your next perfect business meeting or conference in Europe, look no farther than the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao. Chic, cosmopolitan and itself a figurehead of design, Silken's first five star hotel sits opposite the Museum Guggenheim, incorporating the architecture of its breathtaking neighbor. World-famous designer Javier Mariscal has mastered the design concept, the interior space paying homage to 20th century design with emblematic furniture. The atrium is pretty cool too: a Mariscal sculpture, the Fossil Cypress, stands tall and actually reaches the skylight. The bar is properly swank, 135 guestrooms have gorgeous views of the Guggenheim, and all meeting rooms incorporate the finest in technology (interactive television and audio equipment, wifi and all that jazz.)
How's this for Valentine's magic. Roundtrip airfare to London, three nights in one of Red Carnations unique and wonderfully-located London hotels, welcome drinks and full breakfast each day, all for $620 per person. Added bonus is early check-in and late check-out. My choice? The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, overlooking Kensington Palace, with its intimate boutique environment and superlative service. Can't escape for Valentine's? Breathe easy because this deal is available through the end of March.
The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, Official Site
The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, Five Star Alliance
For 722 bucks from LA, and 782 from NYC (and this is the airline voted #3 in the mag's readers' choice world's best international airlines!) Thanks to Travel and Leisure's Hot Deals-- which is hotter than hot, with featured deals including Belgian Bargains (winter weekend with airfare and hotel for mere pocket change) and Luxury Alaska Cruises for 3,497 bucks.
Discover the "Lost City of the Incas" and the incredible natural beauty of the Amazon Basin while cocooned in luxurious comfort at this rustic boutique hotel. Located in the heart of Machu Picchu's Historical Sanctuary in the cloud forest (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), the hotel consists of 83 rooms and suites set in whitewash cottages spread over 12 acres of streams, waterfalls and lush forest, reached by stone walkways. The hotel itself is the setting for enormous biodiversity: the world's largest collection of native orchids (372 species) as well as wild hummingbirds and butterflies. Rooms are charming yet sumptuous, decorated with local handcrafted Andean architecture, alpaca bedspreads, and deluxe kits of handmade, organic amenities and aromatherapy products. Likewise, the utterly-divine spa incorporates a mystical Andean approach, with 100% natural botanical products.
Consider this. The Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame without the summer hordes. No line at Andre's in
Atlantic-facing La Rochelle for a sumptuous poisson feast (or other decadent items from the tempting menu du jour), while gazing at the ancient ramparts and centuries-old towers jutting over the sparkling sea, even the gargoyles seeming to smile down in languid contentment. Indeed the crowds have evaporated, leaving the majestic Loire chateaux and even Versailles empty for the taking (and gaping). The icing on the cake? A temperate climate that never sees the ghastly winter lows of Washington DC, so one could even score a bit of a sun tan basking in the sun (while bundled in a trendy winter coat, of course.)
Interested in the pictured Chateau? It's dreamy, and just a hop from Bordeaux and Cognac.
Courtesy of Forbes.com (and we are proud to say our very own Manager of Client Services-- Sarah Anderegg-- helped compile the domestic travel spending data), an interesting article on travel spends and hot spots for the new year:
With the new year comes the inevitable tide of resolutions, remorse (for overdoing it during the holidays), anticipation for the 12 months ahead and, for many people, a bad case of the winter blahs.Time to hit the road, to such sought-after locales as the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, Thailand or The Palms in Turks and Caicos, or the brand new Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.
Imagine our delight at hearing the recent industry buzz. After all, the Hotel de Crillon is easily our favorite hotel in Paris, and maybe in the whole of Europe. The perfect location, awash in elegance and history, with dynamite service (these guys know how to take care of you) and pretty swell dining. I'd be happy camping out here for a few days, instead of that Canal St Martin apartment. And this marvelous Palace hotel is to be the flagship of the new Crillon brand, launched by Barry Sternlicht, the former chief executive of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Their mission is to bring Crillon style European elegance to hotels around the world. God bless.
Hotel de Crillon, Official Site
Hotel de Crillon, Five Star Alliance
You've got to be kidding me. But as CNN reports, HK is no longer just about glitzy skyscrapers, designer shopping and gourmet eats. Throw ecotourism in the mix; the city is one of the best spots to see Indo Pacific humpback dolphins, which just happen to be totally, completely bubblegum-pink. Sign up with tour operator Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, who normally spots these uncanny creatures 97 percent of the time on tours in the South China Sea.
Speaking of the devil... The Times UK reports that many British homeowners regret their decision to invest in Dubai. That terrible third-rate workmanship of "luxury" properties and poor management belie the slick, glossy brochures advertising the glittering sea, sand and skyscrapers of developments in Dubai. (Thanks Alex!)
The lush, unspoiled landscape of St. Lucia-- 238 square miles of empty beaches and tropical paradise-- is the setting for the new luxury condominium resort development called (naturally) Le Paradis with its ultra-hyped Greg Norman designed golf course. The center of it all will be the Westin St. Lucia, set to open in March of next year with 232 guestrooms. Bring it on.