June 1, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
No joke. America's favorite slow-poke of a train, Amtrak, has announced plans to bring back the luxurious train journeys of old. This Fall, Amtrak will launch a three month test of luxury service on three different train routes: Amtrak's Silver Meteor (Washington to Miami through West Palm Beach), the Southwest Chief (from Los Angeles to Chicago), and the California Zephyr (from Chicago to San Francisco). What's in store for passengers? Seven vintage Pullman cars, richly decorated in the manner of the great Pullman trains of the 1920's, will be attached to the back of these Amtrak trains. In addition to serious pampering, passengers will enjoy a lounge car with live music and a dining car that offers five-course meals. Amtrak hopes that the new luxury service will allow discriminating travelers to slow down, enjoy the journey, and escape the hassle of peak time holiday travel.
It's here. Toronto's Festival of Arts and Creativity, Luminato, will take the city by storm starting tomorrow. From music concerts to film spectacles, from theater and dance performances to stunning visual exhibits, the inaugural festival promises to knock your socks off. Over 100 innovative events are scheduled, many of which are free. Book a room at the city's seductive boutique hotel, Le Germain, and watch celebrated artist Carlito Dalceggio create a fantastic live event each evening between June 1-10, 2007. The artist will transform a massive outdoor canvas, mounted to the outside of the hotel, into a work of art. Check out the daily video updates of the canvas's transformation on the blog (and leave Carlito a note of inspiration). To complement this visual feast of the senses, Chef David Chrystian of the hotel's Chez Victor will be offering guests a delightful appetizer every evening between 5 and 6 p.m., inspired by the work of Carlito. The main ingredient will change as the artist's oeuvre develops.
Spend a special Father's Day weekend at the Omni Interlocken Resort, the four-diamond retreat nestled against the Rocky Mountains outside Denver. Enjoy luxurious accommodations, an outdoor barbeque lunch for the family on Saturday, and a special gift for Dad: two Fat Tire beers, two Fat Tire glasses, and a sleeve of golf balls. (The local brewery, Fat Tire, is adored for its Belgian style brews.) All for just $199 per night, available June 17, 2007. At the Omni Interlocken, there's a wealth of activities: championship golf with striking scenery, two beautiful pools with panoramic mountain views, and a fabulous spa.
Book a Deluxe Room at the elegant Rocco Forte Brown's Hotel and receive another Deluxe Room for your kids absolutely free. Prices start from GBP 480 for two children and two adults per night in interconnecting rooms. The rate also includes Continental breakfast for two. Situated in the heart of London's Mayfair, Brown's is minutes from must-see attractions, museums, galleries, theaters, and Bond Street shopping. Composed of 11 Georgian town houses, the charming historic hotel features fine dining at The Grill, the renowned English Tea Room, three spa treatment rooms, a dedicated five-star kid's program, and a fully-equipped gym. Book the "It's a Family Affair" Package, and all junior guests will receive a complimentary gift. Available for stays on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights and Bank Holiday Mondays.
Travel and Leisure raves, "Minneapolis's exuberant Chambers Hotel is taking Midwestern design to a whole new level." Forbes Traveler has named Chambers as one of the sexiest hotels in the U.S. Indeed this David Rockwell-designed boutique, the sister hotel to New York's famed Chambers hotel, is easily the hippest hotel in Minneapolis. Billed as the "Luxury Art Hotel," Chambers is housed in two landmark 20th century buildings located in the heart of downtown's historic theater district. The minimalist design aesthetic is complemented by the $7 million contemporary art collection of 250 works displayed throughout the public spaces. There are 60 modern guest rooms with "rain-sky" showers, the penthouse level outdoor terrace and bar, and stellar restaurant, where super chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (the visionary behind Jean-Georges in the Trump International Hotel and Mercer Kitchen in The Mercer Hotel) has devised the delicious Asian-themed menu.
This year, Grace Bay Club emerged from a serious renovation: the 58-suite luxury boutique hotel has morphed into a world-class resort on 11 beachfront acres. With both an adults-only hotel and family-friend Villas, Grace Bay Club is the ideal Caribbean destination for both couples and families. (Adults and families each have their own swimming pools and Jacuzzis, dining venues, beachfront lounges, bars and beach.) The most prestigious address in the Turks and Caicos, Grace Bay Club offers a slew of activities and a lavish European spa. What will $20,800 get you at this destination resort? A premium Penthouse Luxury Package for four nights in an oceanfront three-bedroom Penthouse with fabulous amenities. Get the royal treatment with a personal chef and concierge throughout your stay, unlimited meals, and unlimited Anani Spa treatments. Also included: limo transfer from the airport, welcome fruit or rum punch with cold scented towel, champagne and fruit basket en suite upon arrival, daily continental breakfast in the restaurant, and signature Turquoise Daiquiri at sunset. Available until December 20, 2007.
Billed as the largest wine and spirits store in Europe, Lavinia opened in a premier Paris location to much positive press in 2002. (There are other branches in Madrid and Barcelona.) The place is visually stunning-- 16,100 square feet and three sleek floors of wine paradise. It's no wonder the oenophiles flock here to the restaurant. At the wine bar, you can choose from over 6,000 different wines-- served at the right temperature and the same price as the shop itself-- paired with delicious dishes to bring out the nuances of the chosen glass. And it's not just the French vintages; Lavinia boasts a selection from wine regions all over the world. Plus, the sommeliers are gracious, knowledgeable and attentive. 3-5, blvd de la Madeleine; Closed Sunday.
...brought to you by the good folks at Travel and Leisure, who just published their "It List" of hot new hotel properties. Of the 25 chosen elite, the luxurious newbies include Trailblazers like Frank Gehry's architectural masterpiece, a sparkling mass of twisting metal in the midst of the Rioja's celebrated vineyards, Beachcombers like Vietnam's gorgeous Nam Hai hotel, New Urbanists like the dazzling Mandarin Oriental in Prague, and Healers, like the swanky Bauer Il Palladio Hotel & Spa in Venice and our favorite Four Seasons Westlake Village, created in partnership with the California WellBeing Institute.
Jet to Iceland to enjoy light-filled June days (try 20 hours of daylight!), Reykjavik's hot party scene, and exquisite natural landscapes: glaciers, hot springs, geysers, and volcanoes. The place to stay is CenterHotel Thingholt, one of the best hotels in the capital. Newly opened in December 2006, the boutique hotel is a model for contemporary Icelandic design. Inspired by the country's extraordinary natural bounty, the Icelandic architect Gulla Jónsdóttir incorporated materials like salmon fish skin tiles, leather flooring, and lava-like black stone in a minimalist Nordic style. There's even a waterfall in the lobby. Chic guest rooms offer toiletries crafted with the mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon geothermal springs. Housed in a renovated printing factory, the hotel demonstrates a strong focus on quality modern design. Located next to Laugavegur, Reykjavik's main shopping street, in the trendy Oceanside 101 neighborhood, the hotel is close to everything the vibrant city center has to offer.
P.S. TripAdvisor's Traveler Reviews are stellar.
California residents will love this one. The City by the Bay is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, and lucky Cali residents can score an exclusive hotel deal for a three-night stay in SF during the month of June. Stay three nights for the price of two when you book online and provide a billing address in California. In total, 16 hotels are participating, including luxurious icons like The Palace, host to presidents, royalty, and giants of industry.
Pictured: The renowned Garden Court restaurant at The Palace Hotel, which features a beautiful domed ceiling of stained glass-- designated a historic landmark by the city of San Francisco in 1969.