September 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Forbes has unveiled a brand, spanking new luxury travel site-- dedicated to distinctive travel experiences for the discerning traveler. Forbes has long had its finger on the pulse of luxury travel trends, so the stand-alone site is a welcome addition to its portfolio. The folks at ForbesTraveler are scheming all sorts of unique content, including destination guides and specialized focus on luxury hotels (that's what we like to hear). The first edition shares a local insider's guide to Aspen, with tips including the following rec. for private jets:
A great trip to Aspen starts on the runway. It's been said that in an average year 10 percent of all the private jets in America land in Aspen, but not all charter outfits are equal. One good choice is Aspen Executive Air (also known as AEXJet), which knows the ins and outs of Sardy Field. Prices range from $2,200 per hour of flight time for a light jet to $10,000 per hour for something big enough to make an impression over cocktails at the Little Nell.
Of course the place to stay in Aspen is The Little Nell, where the legendary après-ski scene is hotter than ever (indulge with fondue or fresh seafood at the bar or thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room). Just steps from the Silver Queen gondola, The Little Nell is the only five-star/five-diamond hotel in town. Rooms are lavish, and the heated outdoor swimming pool, facing Aspen Mountain, divine.
The most hotly anticipated hotel opening in South Florida (delayed for
years months, much to our chagrin.) The glorious Acqualina Resort, located on 400 feet of picture-perfect coastline in Sunny Isles, halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, has officially opened its doors. The resort's grand European-inspired architecture graces the oceanfront, its 97 suites featuring private terraces to take in views of the Miami skyline and dazzling seascape. But that's not all. This luxurious haven features the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools, private beach club, and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. Acqualina also offers a special Kids in the Kitchen pastry cooking class, where children play, experiment, and learn their way around a kitchen. Enjoy introductory rates starting at $299 a night at the newly-opened hotel masterpiece.
From December 15-18, 2006, the Cambodian Royal Ballet will perform in front of the majestic temples of Angkor Wat, the UNESCO-protected world heritage that is the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of mythological temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Performed as the sun sets over the magnificent domes, Les Nuits d'Angkor promises to be an epic experience, billed as an elegant embodiment of the history of the Cambodian people, a culture nearly lost on so many occasions throughout its history. The audience is restricted to only 1,300 seats so book fast! Amanresorts is offering a package to enjoy the ballet performance while savoring the romantic tranquility of Amansara, the former guest villa of King Norodom Sihanouk now converted into a 24-suite retreat. Set within beautiful gardens, Amansara features a spa, two pools, roof terrace, library, bar, and exquisitely designed dining room with walk-in wine cellar. Starting from $675 per night in a Suite, with a minimum three-night stay required.
Girls Getaway Packages, Babymoons, and now Mancations... The luxury hotel industry is quick to forecast travel trends and anticipate the desires of its clientele. And these days, it's for getaways with the guys. Hotels are offering poker parties, hand-rolled cigars, luxury cars and sports tickets, in an effort to tap this new trend. As CNN reports, the new Regent South Beach has devised a special package catering to guys "man-cationing" together which includes a penthouse room, private rooftop terrace with a hot tub and wet bar, round-the-clock butler service and a choice of a luxury rental car such as a Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini.
An "Urban Dictionary" definition for mancation describes it as men engaging in masculine activities such as sports, camping, gambling, chasing women and drinking, without the presence of wives, mistresses or girlfriends. Vince Vaughn helped popularize the term in this summer's romantic comedy "The Break-Up."
The Regent South Beach is not alone. Back in June, The Informed Traveler described how Fairmont Hotels has paved the way with its Mancations packages in its properties across North America. At the Fairmont Chicago, gents enjoy a Chitown getaway which includes whisky tasting, steak dinner, seminar with wine and spirits producer Brown-Forman, and a special "hair-of-the-dog" turndown amenity. And the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa includes spa pampering with its Mancation package. The Speed Meets Spa package caters to both the need for speed and the desire for pampering. With this package, guests receive enrollment at the ESPN Russell Racing School's introductory three day driving course at Infineon Raceway, three nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Inn's handsome fine-dining restaurant, two 50-minute spa treatments, tasting for two at the Gloria Ferrer winery and a bottle of Sonoma Sparkling Wine upon arrival.
And the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina has put together the "Dudes on the Dunes" package, which includes a round of golf and an in-room poker game with snacks and beer from $625 per person for two nights.
Situated just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort is a grand French-style Chateau surrounded by 3,500 acres of lush vineyards and rolling foothills. In this setting reminiscent of the Loire Valley, French elegance and Southern hospitality combine in a luxurious leisure resort. The resort boasts a full-production Winery (42,000 sq ft), and is the largest producer of premium wines in Georgia, recognized by Wine Spectator for its vintages. There are winery tours and tastings, along with a bistro and fine dining restaurant. The 33,000 sq ft Spa is renowned for its indulgent treatments and excellent facilities: beautiful flowering gardens, 14 private guest suites, fitness area, steam, sauna, whirlpool, and its very own fine dining room, Fleur-de-Lis, which serves seasonal gourmet dishes overlooking the lake. But perhaps the best part of all: the Spa offers guest accommodations (!) The 14 spa suites are comfortable and spacious, each individually designed with luxurious flair, from Country French to Victorian Wicker, High-Tech to the exotic Zimbabwe Suite. Overnight spa packages are available, which include use of the facilities, gourmet spa lunch, afternoon tea, and Winery Tour and Tastings.
The legendary Caribbean private island resort of Peter Island, accessible only by boat or helicopter, is considered the best place to stay the world over. This is romance and luxurious seclusion at its finest; the oceanfront retreat is a stunning natural paradise of lush mountains, sugary white sand beaches, and turquoise sea. The resort features excellent dining, watersports, and a world-class spa, just steps from the beach. This year-- in order to meet the increasing guest demand recently-- Peter Island will not close for September and October. This is an excellent time to enjoy the island's unparalleled luxury because of the Fall Special Offers, which include the "Peter Island Math" package, where guests pay for four nights and receive the fifth for free. (Valid until October 31, 2006.) The weather in the BVI is gorgeous year-round, but rest assured: Peter Island offers a money back guarantee (or the opportunity to rebook with the same discounted rate) should a hurricane prohibit travel plans.
The dynamic, vibrant city of Shanghai is a city of superlatives: it has the fastest train on the planet (the Maglev train linking its two airports) and is also home to the highest hotel in the world, The Grand Hyatt. Situated in the 53rd to 87th floors of the Jin Mao Tower in the heart of Pudong, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai is easily the best hotel in the city. Nota Bene, the exclusive destination review, raves about the Grand Hyatt in its latest issue on Shanghai, recommending it over most of the city's other luxury hotels (which are mostly big Western chains, like Four Seasons, Westin, JW Marriott):
The Grand Hyatt's height, its floor-to-ceiling windows, its 87th-floor bar, the swiftness of its lifts, its views of the Bund; all are largely unbeatable.
Hipsters flock to Cloud 9, the hotel's sexy bar/lounge located on the 87th floor, the highest point of the hotel. The 360 degree city views are sensational. The spacious guest rooms and suites epitomize luxury, with modern amenities guaranteed to mesmerize even the most discerning travelers.
The mountains of Vermont offer some of the best fall foliage in the country: a gorgeous pastoral of slopes dotted with yellow aspens, orange oaks, and firey red maples. And according to the Peak Foliage Report, the autumn leaves will be at their best starting at the end of September for a three-week period. Escape to The Equinox Resort and Spa in Manchester Village for the best kind of Fall getaway. Situated on 2,300 acres between the Green and Taconic Mountains, the award-winning hotel dates back more than 200 years. Enjoy deluxe accommodations, a recently renovated Avanyu Spa, a wide variety of dining options, and world-class golf at Gleneagles Golf Course. Take advantage of the extraordinary Orvis Inn Extravaganza Package and get lots of goodies with your luxurious accommodations. The Charles Orvis Inn is the elegantly restored 19th-century residence of the Orvis Company Founder which features nine one and two-bedroom suites with marble baths and cherry-paneled kitchens. The two-night package includes accommodations, daily breakfast, a picnic lunch at Hildene, a tour of the Hildene Mansion, chef-prepared dinner for two in Marsh Tavern, a horse-drawn carriage ride, a Falconry lesson, an off-road driving lesson, one 55-minute Avanyu Spa massage per person, picnic lunch at Equinox Pond, and a trip to the Orvis Flagship Store, including transportation and a personal shopper. The package is $810 per person, per night (excluding taxes); available until December 22, 2006.
Can't get enough of that white tea scent of Westin? Wish you could bottle it and take it with you? Recreate that soothing space in the comfort of your own home? Well, now you can. Lucky guests no longer have to wait until their next travel getaway to get their fix of Westin's signature scent. White Tea by Westin features a luxurious 100 percent soy candle, gentle room oil diffuser and all-natural potpourri in its fragrance collection. According to the folks at Westin:
White Tea by Westin is a custom-designed scent that evokes the personality of the brand, elevates the senses and transforms any space. Highlighted with notes of geranium and freesia, the ingredients were carefully chosen because of their relaxing properties and are the result of almost a year of research and testing. The scent made its debut in the Westin brand's recent "This is How it Should Feel" print ad campaign that features a White Tea fragrance strip - the first time a hotel company used this type of execution in an ad campaign. It was then introduced in Westin Hotel lobbies around the world as part of the brand's new Welcome program which is currently rolling out across all hotels worldwide.(The smell evokes the personality of the brand? Ed. Insert joke here.) The Westin retail line also includes the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath products, available through an in-room catalogue, website, and at Nordstrom's.
Oktoberfest in Munich is in full swing. And the beer-guzzling merriment of the world's biggest beer festival--16 days of revelry--will continue until October 3, 2006. The 14 beer tents collectively seat over 100,000 patrons and over the course of the festival, an estimated 6 million visitors will down 6 million liters of specialty brew, accompanied by the best kind of German grub (schnitzel, sauerkraut and sausage galore). But it's more than a keg fest. There's entertainment, theater and shows, and carnival rides a plenty. Munich is hopping with activity. If a last minute trip to Europe's biggest festival is in the works, stake your claim to a room at the Bayerischer Hof, the city's finest hotel-- its elegance a welcome respite from the frenzy of activity outside. Centrally located, the largest privately owned hotel in Germany boasts excellent restaurants, rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities with sauna, steambath, and solarium, and its own theater and night club. Or start planning for next year's merry-making, scheduled for September 22-October 7, 2007.