April 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Truly the first of its kind, Shangri-La's newest venture in the Middle East is three-hotels-in-one, and it single-handedly ups Oman's luxury hotel rooms by 60 percent. Set within 124 acres of landscaped gardens, overlooking the mountains and gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Oman, the Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is just 20 minutes from downtown Muscat. The destination resort is comprised of three hotels (Al Waha, Al Bandar, and Al Husn), 19 restaurants and bars, three private beaches, 6,000 sq meters of swimming pools, and a CHI spa. And don't fret; this oasis hideaway isn't without its own nightclub. With the third hotel (Al Husn) now opened, the resort counts 680 sea-facing rooms with private balconies, terraces or patios. The separate Chi Spa Village will be fully operational in May, consisting of private villas for rejuvenating treatments, three freshwater swimming pools, 19 (count 'em!) food and beverage outlets, meeting rooms and an open-air amphitheater. Did I mention the Oman Dive Center, Kids Club, Dolphin and Whale-watching trips, and marina? O- Man!
April 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Take your pick between Ritz-Carlton's two, sun-kissed Naples hotels and get fantastic discounts this summer. From your guestroom balcony in the AAA Five Diamond Award Golf Resort, gaze out over the rolling green of the 36-hole Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Course. Or if golf isn't your thing-- take a room with a Gulf View at the elegant Ritz-Carlton Hotel Naples, a grand seaside resort with exceptional amenities including spa, pool, and gorgeous beach with watersports. Between June 1 and September 30, the "Summer Sand and Sun" package starts at a mere $159 per night at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort and $199 at Ritz-Carlton Naples. Additionally, they're giving out resort credits left and right: stay for three nights and get a $100 resort credit (for dining, spa treatments, resort apparel in the gift shop, go wild!), five night stays score $200 credits and when you stay a full week: $300.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples, Five Star Alliance
Ritz-Carlton Naples, Five Star Alliance
April 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This summer, Spain's Costa del Sol and the French Riviera promise to be packed--the stretches of sand back-to-back (or butt-to-butt?) full of sun-worshippers from colder climes. Why not look further west for a European holiday, far from the traditional (and well-worn) tourist circuit? Portugal, rich in history of mighty ocean navigation and past epochs of sprawling international empires, is an undiscovered delight. Outside of the capital city of Lisbon, the Costa de Lisboa is marked by gleaming white sand beckoning beach lovers and surfers alike. At the town of Sintra, surrounded by lush forests and the geyser-like eruptions of waves breaking at Boca de Inferno, discover the pastel Palacio Nacional da Pena. Or head to the fantastic southern coast; the Algarve is dotted with splendid coastal resorts and quaint fishing villages lined with brightly colored wooden boats.
Could Atlantis get any more mammoth? The kitschy celebration of the Lost Continent of Atlantis has these stats: 2,300 guest accommodations (the Royal Towers, Coral Towers and Beach Tower), 35 restaurants, a goliath casino, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and a marina that can hold the biggest and baddest of the private luxury yachts. Not to mention the 11 million gallons of swimming pools with water slides and cascades, and marine exhibits with a whopping 50,000 live animals. Kids go gaga over the replica Atocha (the Spanish galleon with oodles of sunken treasure that a Florida treasure-seeker uncovered) at the Kids Club, and apparently guests consume over 1 ton of lobster tails per week. Just what doesn't this resort have? Enough space (!), of course. Atlantis continues to undergo a massive development, which will include the Residences at Atlantis, an exclusive condominium-hotel for lucky owners to enjoy the casino and water activities galore, all year round. Additional features of the $1 billion development project include 1,450 rooms by next spring (including a luxury all-suite hotel), an expansion to the water park, a new dolphin facility, 100,000 sq ft of additional meeting facilities, and the new Nobu restaurant from world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Another luxury ship with permanent ocean residences is a good thing, as rumor has it that the Four Seasons Cruise Ship is almost sold out. The Magellan-- to be completed by the summer of 2008-- will be limited to 200 private homes, including 16 penthouses. The exclusive $650 million ship claims it will "redefine luxury for the discerning traveler":
The facilities and services of the world's finest resorts are part of everyday life aboard the Magellan. On-call housekeeping staff, a world-class spa and marketplace, a 24-hour concierge staff, indoor and outdoor pools, six restaurants, a 450-seat theatre featuring Broadway-quality entertainment, a casino worthy of Monte Carlo and a 8,000 sq.ft greenhouse with onsite horticulturists are just a few of the conveniences that make living aboard the Magellan a unique experience.
Add to that the luxury of visiting 300 unique ports of call as you circumnavigate the globe. Now that ain't too shabby.
As featured in the April 2006 Travel and Leisure, Gaia Hotel and Reserve, located near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, is Costa Rica's newest luxury hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels, this tropical boutique property is situated among the lush coastal rainforests of the Pacific coast. The terraced suites and villas overlook these incredible natural surroundings, a pristine nature reserve packed with exotic wildlife and chattering white-faced monkeys. This is a luxurious retreat, appointed with modern amenities, spa, gym, pool, and private butler service to attend to guests' every need. Gaia presents eco-tourism at its best, a project designed for the preservation of the natural reserve and protection of local flora and fauna for future generations. For a limited time, the resort is offering the "Soft Open Special" during the construction of their new Clubhouse, which will house the spa, gym, conference room, business center and game room. Take advantage of rates up to 20 percent off, starting at $240 per night (studio for two people), minimum three night stay, valid until April 30.
Follow the likes of Trista and Ryan (of Bachelorette fame) and countless celebs on this elite private island resort that Andrew Harper's calls "as close to heaven on earth as you're likely to get." 500 acres of bliss for only 14 couples at one time, and a staff of 150 to provide for and pamper them. Turtle Island is truly one of the world's finest and most romantic resorts. Settle into your elegant "bure," a traditional hand-crafted thatched cottage with outdoor verandahs overlooking blue lagoons. Rates are all-inclusive, including all gourmet meals, all drinks including alcohol, massage, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, private picnics, scuba diving, and countless other activities. And now is the time to fly free to Turtle Island, as the resort is offering two free coach tickets from Los Angeles and free seaplane transfers, with a seven night stay. Nightly rates start at $1,975 per night, per couple (Grand Bure accommodations). Travel must be completed by May 11, 2006.
Turtle Island, Official Site
Turtle Island, Five Star Alliance
April 5, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Mary Phillips, General Manager, Jamaica Inn
Where can you find a beach resort with snorkeling equipment available free to guests; where each suite has a private balustraded balcony or large verandah overlooking the water; where balconies and verandahs come complete with a full sized sofa, wing chair, breakfast table, writing desk and coffee table; and a 700-foot private white sand beach? Ocho Rios and right now you can go for cheap. The Jamaica Inn is offering a last-minute, early April special - summer rates as low as US $255 per room, per night (double occupancy) - starting April 1, 2006.
And if you are trying to decide whether or not you want to book a room for this summer and risk getting stuck at home because of Jamaica's hurricane season, the answer is the Hurricane Guarantee. In the event of a hurricane on the island of Jamaica, and if the hurricane interrupts the use of the all included services at Jamaica Inn - the resort will offer a free replacement vacation. Of course there is some fine print, which you should ask about when you give them a call at 1-800-837-4608 for reservations.
Jamaica Inn, Official Site
Jamaica Inn, Five Star Alliance
April 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Change is afoot in Ft. Lauderdale, where the Intracoastal Waterway will be transformed with a new megayacht marina and five-star hotel. Just when we thought southern Florida couldn't get any more developed (satiric novelist Carl Hiassan is no doubt rolling his eyes at this one), the $100 million project will double the docks in size, adding three-phase power, WiFi and broadband, water, and pump-out stations. The adjacent hotel--the old Marina Marriott-- will get a $50 million infusion to debut as the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club. LXR Luxury Resorts aims to create the country's leading marina resort, stocked with 579 guest rooms, 33 yacht slips (for boats up to 300 feet), and 20,000 sq ft of meeting space. Spring specials are as low as $109 a night.
April 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
At the crossroads between East and West, built upon layers of history of ancient civilizations, Bodrum sits on Turkey's breathtaking Aegean coastline overlooking beaches framed by olive groves and the blue sea. Majestic ancient ruins, some dating from 5,000 years ago, imbue the city with culture and mythology. The Castle of St. Peter, built by the Knights of St. John in 1406, stands near remains of the Ottoman empire, and the grand Mausoleum of King Moussollos is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Sun-seekers, history buffs, and yacht owners alike flock to the gorgeous seaside port of Bodrum-- especially in the summer months. In this magical place, the Ada Hotel offers a luxurious respite cloaked in traditional culture and romance. The 14 guestrooms have balconies opening into the garden or overlooking the sea; the 90 sq-meter Executive Suite is equipped with a fireplace and separate Jacuzzi, and the Presidential Suite shares a private pool with the Penthouse Suite. The health center boasts an enormous Jacuzzi, luxurious Turkish Hammam, sauna and therapeutic treatment rooms.