January 17, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Guess where President Bush stayed last weekend on his Middle East trip? The oil-rich outpost of the United Arab Emirates boasts the most extravagant luxury hotels in the world, like the seven-star Burj Al Arab where aquarium walls full of tropical fish line the escalators, and the world's largest fleet of Rolls-Royces is available for guests.
President Bush, arriving in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, stayed in one of the basketball-court-size "Ruler's Suites" at the Emirates Palace, which bills itself as the world's costliest hotel. At $3 billion, with 300 rooms, that comes out to $10 million a room.
In this spare-no-expenses kingdom, the opulent Emirates Palace stands out because of its brand new Anantara Spa. You'll find an enormous private treatment complex, Vichy shower suite, hammam with heated marble beds, and intricate architectural details: Moorish tile floors beneath a glowing domed ceiling. Return to your room, sauntering down the hallways shimmering with gold mosaics, and enjoy private butler service and Hermes bath amenities.
P.S. We hear the hotel's best suite is the 1,185-square-foot Khaleej Suite, overlooking the Persian Gulf.
Bracing for a blizzard? Why not high-tail it south of the border to check out the brand new Mandarin Oriental on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula? Take advantage of a special opening offer and get a free fourth night when you pay for three! This is peak season in the tropics, but with this special, you'll be saving about 25 percent off Internet rates. Lounge on the beach, relax in the 25,000 square foot spa, bar-hop in the buzzing beachfront town of Playa del Carmen just 10 minutes away. This special is available until April 30, 2008, with black-out dates on February 14-17 and March 20-24.
If you missed November's big event at Cambridge Beaches, here's your chance to experience the popular Girlfriend Getaway with Mariel Hemingway! The actress/author will be returning to Bermuda's exclusive resort for an unforgettable weekend devoted to healthy living on March 27-30, 2008. Expect beachside yoga classes, personal Q & A sessions, delicious meals prepared by the renowned culinary team, spa treatments and more. Only 36 guests will be allowed to attend, so register today!
Escape the winter chill and get a 5th night free at Casa de Campo, the Dominican winter playground that boasts just about every single recreational activity on the planet. Tennis? The luxurious La Terraza Tennis Center awaits you-- with its 13 har-tru courts overlooking the resort and sea. Polo and horseback riding? You bettcha. Golf? Only some of the most celebrated, Peter-Dye-designed greens in the world. The spa offers a slew of rejuvenating services including exfoliating clay baths. Plus there's a dual-level pool with cascades and a swim-up bar, plenty of water sports from the beach, and an extensive children's program. Enjoy all this, while soaking up the Caribbean elegance and abundant natural beauty of the resort. Did we mention that it's all-inclusive?
Snow-capped peaks loom over olive groves and the crashing surf at the seaside eco-marine town of Kaikoura. Sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, halfway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island... Welcome to one of the most spectacular settings on earth. In this majestic spot, a family of designers and architects has created an eco-friendly luxury lodge unlike any place on earth. Hapuku Lodge is a treetrop retreat with solar-heated showers, spacious bathrooms, handcrafted furniture, multiple dining rooms, and even meeting venues. But the best part of all is the gasp-inducing 360 degree views from the hotel's perch 30 feet off the ground in the trees. To quote Outside Magazine, "'I joke with guests that over breakfast you can decide whether you want to go surfing or skiing,' says H. Justin Stafford-Wilson, whose father opened the lodge in 2002."
Ahhh, The Breakers. South Florida's bastion of style is truly the ideal winter escape. Since 1896, this Italian Renaissance-style palace has been welcoming chilled winter guests to thaw in luxury on the ocean. And with the gorgeous $15 million beachfront redevelopment, The Breakers continues to delight its guests with its indulgent beachfront experience. L'Escalier, the hotel's AAA Five-Diamond award-winning restaurant, is presenting its wildly popular wine dinners this winter. Master Sommelier Virginia Philip has partnered with celebrated winemakers to present magnificent food and wine pairings. A reception with tastings is followed by a four-course dinner artfully prepared by L'Escalier's culinary team. On Thursday, January 24, 2008, guests will be delighted by winemakers from Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron and Chateau Suduiraut. Priced at $450 per person. [Map]
Escape the cold and enjoy serious savings in the postcard-perfect Turks and Caicos islands, the newest "it" spot in the Caribbean. Just because it's January doesn't mean the holidays have to end. The award-winning Regent Palms has some last minute getaways that are too good to be true. Plus, you can scope out the brand new Regent Spa which just opened this month. Book the "Welcome to 2008" package and get five nights for the price of four in a Luxury Ocean View Room! You'll also score a 30 percent VIP discount on all signature massage services and two welcome cocktails as you watch the sun set over Grace Bay. The rate starts at $875 per night, available through January 31, 2008. Or book the "Four Night Holiday Recovery" and get a couple's massage, dinner for two at Parallel 23, an in-suite breakfast with champagne (complimentary continental breakfast on the other mornings), and complimentary non-motorized water sports. Valid until January 26, 2008, priced at $3,360. Nota Bene: Kids under 12 stay free at The Regent Palms!
Celebrity Chef Norman Van Aken-- the guy who coined the term "fusion cooking"-- has returned to Key West. Recipient of numerous accolades including the James Beard award, the "Founding Father of New World cuisine" is renowned for his South Florida restaurants. Van Aken's newest venture, Tavern N Town, marks his full circle return to Key West, where he opened Louie's Backyard in the mid-80s. Located at the brand new Beachside Resort and Conference Center, the two adjoining restaurants share a two-story space, but offer different dining experiences. Tavern serves up smaller plates and more casual fare, while Town-- not yet open-- is the place for gourmet fine dining. For a true epicurean delight, choose the chef's signature dish, Pork Tenderloin Havana, served with sherry jus, plantain crema, black bean corn-salsa, pickled red onions and pan arepa. Take a seat in front of the theater kitchen (gleaming with new appliances) and get ready for the action.
January 9, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Good news from Fairmont's eco-friendly luxury hotels... Not only is Fairmont Hotels and Resorts committed to energy-efficient practices, but also green kitchen operations. When the trendy talk these days is all about lessening our carbon footprint on the planet, Fairmont is actually taking action. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is devoted to organic and sustainable local menus, as well as finding ways to run an environmentally responsible kitchen. Case in point: Fairmont locations in the Pacific Northwest which partner with Rodney Strong Vineyards, an organic wine producer that operates with solar power and takes steps to ensure soil and water conservation. And Ottawa's beautiful Fairmont Chateau Laurier is connecting local producers with businesses by hosting events such as "Farmer-Chef Meet and Greet." In British Columbia, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport and The Fairmont Empress were the first hotels to join the Ocean Wise program run by the Vancouver Aquarium which promotes the use of sustainable seafood. In Bermuda, the chefs at The Fairmont Southampton and The Fairmont Hamilton work closely with local fishermen to source a variety of line-caught fish. Even the staff cafeteria at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise creates eco-friendly menus focused on locally-grown and organic ingredients. And get this-- starting this year, the Fairmont Newport Beach will hire a "local forager" to visit local organic produce markets to buy choice goods for the hotel. Bravo.
January 7, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This winter, make it Maui. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua officially opened today after a massive makeover. A dramatic new design and added amenities mean an unparalleled guest experience surrounded by championship golf greens, brilliant beaches, and the crashing Pacific surf. What's in store? The 463 guest rooms and suites are equipped with all new furnishings, travertine bathrooms, area rug designs with Kukui florals, and Hawaiian artwork framed with Koa wood. All the latest technology means LCD flat-screen televisions, iPod Docking Stations, DVD players and wireless Internet access. But that's not all. The resort's restaurants have been redesigned, and the signature Banyan Tree restaurant has a new destination outdoor bar and lounge with spectacular views of the Pacific and an innovative menu by Chef de Cuisine Jojo Vasquez. There's a new children's pool and enlarged cabanas by the 10,000 square foot, three-tiered pool, and the spanking new Fitness Center, open 24 hours a day, overlooks the ocean. An Environmental Education Center will be open by mid year. And there will be a new Ritz-Carlton Spa opening in May 2008, to boot. (Never fear-- there's a temporary spa offering spa and salon services until this gem opens.) Book now and be one of the first to experience the new digs at this AAA Five-Diamond oceanfront property.