As a massive $70 million renovation comes to an end, the Grande Dame of New York has returned to her original splendor. Uniquely situated at the southern base of Central Park, Jumeirah Essex House is an internationally renowned urban oasis right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. A member of National Trust Historic Hotels, the 515-room landmark is part of Dubai-based luxury hospitality group Jumeirah and sister to the world's most luxurious hotel, Burj al Arab. The ambitious makeover project has enhanced the facilities and services of the hotel, rebuilding its status as one of New York's iconic luxury hotels. Here's the skinny on the exciting renovation. Come September 2007, guests will enjoy completely remodeled rooms and suites with the comfort and functionality of the 21st century, the latest in high-tech amenities, including an "electronic butler" system using LCD touch screens, and a more functional lobby where guests can enjoy Afternoon Tea and light fare. The completely renovated restaurant, transformed by Tony Chi, one of the world's top designers, is slated for the end of 2007, or early 2008. It promises to be one of the city's hottest culinary destinations.
The weekend of August 2-5 honors New Orleans' native son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, with entertainment, Sizzlin' Satchmo dinners, and educational programs in the French Quarter. Stay at the Windsor Court Hotel, the city's finest hotel, and luxuriate in the tranquility of the Garden District after partaking in the weekend's excitement. For chilled cocktails and cool music, head to the hotel's Polo Club Lounge, its overstuffed chairs and tobacco color scheme evoking the aura of an 18th century "gentlemen's withdrawing room." Take tea at Le Salon. And dine at the innovative, award-winning New Orleans Grill Room, where the new Executive Chef Greg Sonnier, James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef of the South, concocts delightful Louisiana dishes in the city's best restaurant.
With Windsor Court's Museum Package, get incredible savings (suites from $179 and Club Suites from $279 until September 30, 2007!) in the most luxurious hotel in the city, along with two complimentary tickets for one of the following museums: The National World War II Museum (formerly the National D-Day Museum), the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, home to the most comprehensive collection of Southern art in the world, or the New Orleans Museum of Art, located in New Orleans' acclaimed City Park. The Museum features 40,000 objects valued in excess of $200 million. The hotel itself features its own dazzling $8 million art collection, with masterpieces by Reynolds and Van Dyck.
There's more to Windows Restaurant than the mind-blowing views, overlooking Lake Geneva, the Jet d'Eau, and Mont Blanc. Windows scored a rating of 16 in the prestigious Gault & Millau Guide. After all, the restaurant is housed in the Hotel d'Angleterre, one of the best hotels in all of Europe, and the excellence of the dining experience matches the sheer sumptuousness of the rooms. This summer, indulge in an evening of Enchanting Indian Delicacy during a three-week extravaganza when a five-man team flies in from the Michelin star Tamarind restaurant in London. From July 30- August 18, 2007, discover the exciting flavors of northwest India in a fabulously luxurious setting. The gastronomic four-course dinners at Windows are prepared by Tamarind's renowned chef Alfred Passat and his team.
Get a $200 resort activity credit and complimentary breakfast for two when you book three nights or more at The Sanctuary, the beautiful seaside mansion within Kiawah Resort. Awarded five diamonds by AAA, the exquisite luxury hotel is located just thirty minutes from downtown Charleston, and embodies all of the grandeur and warm hospitality of the American South. Kids adore the range of activities on offer at Kiawah (unspoiled beaches, tennis, bike riding), while their parents enjoy luxurious spa indulgence and championship golf outings. The Family Fun Offer also applies to villa stays; book two or more nights in a villa and receive 20 percent off the nightly rate. Offer available from August 12- September 30, 2007.
There's been a lot of buzz about the opening of San Diego's hottest new hotel, the "posh adult playground" that is the Ivy Hotel. It's not just the rooms that are extravagant, the hotel has transformed San Diego's nightlife scene with Club Envy and the sultry rooftop lounge, Eden Bar. Guests at Ivy receive exclusive VIP passes to Envy:
a multilevel club with a gravitational pull that's hard to resist. Envy will swallow you up in its hidden corners, where beds become tables and tables become dance floors. Anticipate, expose, and play out fantasies.
...While Eden (pictured) is the largest rooftop space in San Diego, complete with pool and sundeck, where visitors soak up breathtaking views and myriad tropical cocktails. Head to The Quarter Kitchen, the hotel's acclaimed fine dining restaurant, for sensual and unique combos of simple food (caviar tacos, lobster pot pie...), cooked to perfection. Celebrity chef Damon Gordon has been an executive chef at some of the world's most exclusive hotels, including The Royalton Hotel in New York, The Delano in Miami, and St. Martins Lane Hotel in London.
Mosaic floors, hand-carved moldings, glorious antique furnishings, sumptuous French fabrics, and of course the Art Nouveau glass roof atop the Winter Garden... In a breath: Parisian opulence incarnate. Hotel Meurice, the legendary Palace hotel adored by visiting royalty, has long stood as a proud Parisian landmark facing the Tuileries Gardens. How could one possibly improve upon perfection? Hotel Meurice has gone hip with a massive renovation, and is now better than ever. Most rooms have wonderful views of the Louvre and Tuileries, or the brilliant white Sacré-Coeur, floating above the city. Each of the seven floors has a distinct style, with 121 rooms decorated in a style reminiscent of Louis XVI. All the rooms are soundproofed and have air conditioning, high-speed Internet access, multiple telephone lines, a direct line, fax machines upon request and cable television. The Spa Caudalíe, opened in 2001, features the rejuvenating and purifying effects of Caudalíe treatments (like the Crushed Cabernet scrub) as well as a separate state-of-the-art Fitness Center. Meals at Le Meurice are as close to perfect as it gets; Yannick Alléno garnered his third Michelin star this year and the critics can't stop raving about the exquisite dining experience-- smart service, stunning surroundings, and elegant French fare at its finest. And of course kids are spoiled rotten at Hotel Meurice: sweets and in-room Kids Kit awaiting upon arrival, a treasure hunt winding through the hotel...
And we thought we were excited when Bacara first opened in Santa Barbara. For the ultimate luxury digs in So Cal, head to the newly renovated Malibu Beach Inn, situated on "Billionaire's Beach," where some of America's richest make their homes on Malibu's oceanfront bluffs. The multi-million dollar makeover means facilities that are downright decadent; the 47 elegantly appointed guest rooms boast breathtaking ocean views from private balconies, natural tile showers, contemporary furnishings made from exotic wenge wood, Dean and Deluca Refreshment Centers and Private Bars, and state-of-the-art technology. An added touch: the in-room wine rack with eight hand-selected Cali wines. The hotel's landscaping, architecture, and interior design reflect the natural beauty of Malibu's coastline, and a unique collection of artwork graces the hotel's walls. Come Fall 2007 (the official re-opening date), well-heeled guests can expect unsurpassed luxury at the area's only destination hotel.
P.S. The signature beach club promises to make a splash.
Argentina's cosmopolitan capital has been high on the traveler's "it" list in recent years. Sizzling with style and sexiness, oozing sophistication, Buenos Aires is the place to be. What's more-- the city is incredibly affordable, so a night on the town-- pretty-people watching at tango parlors, indulging in an embarrassingly inexpensive feast-- can be had for a song. Not to mention the shopping. Stock up on beautiful, high-quality leather goods for a fraction of their cost in the U.S. Where to stay in the most sensual city on earth? The Palacio Duhau, built in 1934 by French architect Leon Dourge, is one of the few remaining palaces representing the city's traditional Porteña aristocracy. Located in the fashionable Recoleta district on Avenida Alvear, the hotel seamlessly blends B.A.'s legendary old time glamour with 21st century design and cutting edge technology. Duck into the Vinoteca to taste marvelous vintages from a formidable selection: 350 different labels, 3,500 bottles of Argentine wines featuring the best Argentine Malbecs. Wines are paired with dried fruits, homemade breads and marmalades, air dried ham, and the best artisanal cheeses selected by the Maitre Fromager in the Cheese Room.
Beneath a lotus pool floating above treetops, high above Bali's sacred Ayung River, discover a luxurious paradise nestled in the jungle. At Four Seasons Resort at Sayan, cooking classes offer a hands-on approach to the exotic world of Balinese cooking. During an escorted excursion to the local market, lucky guests marvel at the abundant selection of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices. After the chef conducts a tour of the gardens to show the herbs grown on-site, participants partake in an informative class in the Ayung Terrace kitchen. But the cooking class isn't the only thing delighting visitors to Bali's Four Seasons at Sayan. Enormous suites and private villas offer a tropical haven with Indonesian furnishings and local handmade fabrics. The two-level swimming pool, designed to follow the river's natural contours, is surrounded by a wooden deck from where guests gape at the views. With hot and cold plunge pools, outdoor bathing pavilions, and courtyard gardens, the spa is infused with elegant Balinese architecture throughout. Treatments focus on the rejuvenating elements found in nature: earthen clays, mountain botanicals and warming spices.
To discover the extraordinary diversity of Bali, pair your visit with a stay at Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay. From now until September 30, 2007, enjoy a $250 resort credit at both resorts (with a minimum four-night stay).
It's official. Five Star Alliance, the leading online travel agency for luxury hotels, has released the annual "World's Best Luxury Hotels" lists. Our crew of somewhat obsessive luxury hotel fans gives recs so often, we decided it's important to share that info with the world. Along with the company's expertise, the criteria used to select the World's Best Luxury Hotels includes honest feedback from Five Star Alliance clients and the popularity of hotels. Since Five Star Alliance only focuses only luxury hotels, these picks are truly la crème de la crème.
The world's most luxurious hotels are selected for eight categories, including Luxury Beach Resorts, Business Hotels, Luxury Honeymoon Resorts, Luxury Golf Resorts, Luxury Spa Resorts, Luxury Ski Resorts, Luxury Resorts for Families, and Romantic Resorts.
Do you have a favorite that didn't make our lists? After checking them out, come back and discuss your favorites with us! (You'll find a link for comments at the bottom of each list.)