September 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Brown's Hotel-- the stylish boutique from Europe's finest luxury hotelier, Rocco Forte-- is beloved not only for its elegant accommodations but also for its fine dining venue, The Grill. With years of culinary experience at the Savoy, Harry's Bar, and The Ritz, award-winning Executive Chef, Laurence Glayzer, crafts traditional English fare with a contemporary, continental twist using only the best local produce. The ambience is like an elegant club, with wood paneling, 1930s design, and banquette booths. Brown's recently introduced the pre-theatre dining menu at The Grill, for West End theatre goers to indulge in the perfect, light meal before heading out on the town. From 6-7 pm, diners choose from a set menu of two courses (GBP 25) or three courses (GBP 30). The Grill also offers a Sunday Jazz Brunch with a three-course set menu that offers four options per course and 1/2 bottle of house wine at GBP39.50 per guest. Delightful dishes include roast rib of beef off the carving trolley, Eggs Benedict, grilled rump steak and fried egg with corned beef hash, and a selection of other brunch style dishes.
Among the fascinating destinations featured in the Fall issue of the New York Times Style Magazine: Travel, the ultra-exclusive game reserve in Tanzania's Serengeti intrigues because of the complexities and contrasts of modern-day Africa at its doorstep. Here lucky guests witness the spectacular seasonal migration of millions of wildebeest across the savannah while experiencing the exquisite luxury of one of the finest game lodges in Africa. The Grumeti Reserves is a 346,000-acre safari reserve, almost "a private extension of Serengeti National Park," its protected land a corridor right in the path of the great migration.
In the midst of all this is Sasakwa Lodge, a cluster of elegant colonial cottages with a spa and equestrian center on Sasakwa Hill. At $1,500 a night (part of which goes to the government as "hunting" revenue), Sasakwa is one of the most luxurious resorts in Africa.
At Sasakwa, each of the seven air-conditioned cottages is situated within the privacy of a beautifully landscaped garden, with heated infinity plunge pools, lounge, and spacious bedroom. This is the flagship of the Grumeti lodges, set high above the savannah, an elegant space of long, sweeping verandahs and classy lounges brimming with antiques.
No joke. Book a seven-night stay at the elite private island resort of Turtle Island, and get a free ticket from Los Angeles to Fiji. Or book a nine-night stay, and receive two airfares for free! The all-inclusive resort island is the favorite haunt of countless celebs and showcases eco-tourism at its luxurious finest-- more like "eco-hedonism," to quote Outside Magazine. Turtle Island is truly one of the world's most romantic resorts: 500 lush tropical acres for only 14 couples at one time, plus a staff of 150 to pamper them. Nightly rates start at $1,975 per night, per couple (Grand Bure accommodations). 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. Experience what Andrew Harper calls "as close to heaven on earth as you’re likely to get." Valid until March 31, 2007.
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.