February 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The capital of tech gets its own snazzy Four Seasons. Rooftop pool, walls of contemporary art, floor-to-ceiling views, full-service spa and of course the signature Four Seasons doting service. Welcome to East Palo Alto, the edge of suburban sprawl and office park strip malls just minutes from the ivory towers of higher learning at Stanford. The 200 room hotel is "the centerpiece of the prestigious new University Circle complex" (or is this just a euphemism glorifying another Office Park?) But if you're on business in Palo Alto, what could be better than the classic luxury of Four Seasons with a high tech touch? Where in-room and poolside spa treatments are available after a long day of meetings. And guestrooms are spacious, full of light, and loaded with technology.
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Official Site
Four Seasons Silicon Valley, Five Star Alliance
The biggest, baddest party of the year (leaps and bounds better than Mardi Gras) has been announced, and this is the year to go. Proudly emerging from reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina, NOLA is as enticing as ever, though there's still a long way to go. And tourism's the ticket to get there. Following its historic tradition, 2006 Jazz Fest promises to be an awesome show, with Fats Domino already signed on to the line-up of legendary musicians. In fact, organizers have announced the show will take place over two weekends, April 28-30 and May 5-7. Advance tickets are $30 per day, and if you act fast, there might still be room at the stunning Windsor Court, consistently awarded as one of the world's finest hotels.
Windsor Court Hotel, Official Site
Windsor Court Hotel, Five Star Alliance
The cat's out of the bag. The ladies are flocking to the AAA five diamond Greenbrier for the March 8-12 scheduled Women's Wonderful Weekend, a relaxing four-day weekend designed just for women. The 4th annual event features an array of talented speakers, including authors Gail Sheehy and Christine Martinello, who lead sessions covering a range of topics (women's health issues, spiritual and mental growth, women in leadership roles, techniques to reduce stress, finance, fashion and beauty, etc). And of course besides the motivational discussions and reflection on personal growth, there's a birthday bash dinner party, "Not So Extreme Makeovers," and plenty of opportunities to divulge in the superb Greenbrier Spa. Rates are on the Modified American Plan (includes breakfast, dinner and a $50 spa voucher) and start at $380 per night single occupancy and $325 per night double occupancy.
The Greenbrier, Official Site
The Greenbrier, Five Star Alliance
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces spent a mere $27.1 million for one of the hottest hotels in Sydney. On its first venture in Australia, Taj dubbed the boutique property BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay, an apt name for the luxurious marina surroundings on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Indeed, this is a perfect location: a hop from the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the central business and shopping districts. Distinguished among the top hotels in Sydney-- on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List it was among the "Top 3 Best Hotels for Location in Australia/South Pacific"— BLUE also has an acclaimed restaurant and bar. (The Water Bar was named one of the "Top 5 Bars in the World" by Wallpaper mag in 2004 and one of the "Top 10 Bars in the World" in 2003 by CNT.) The 100 lavish guest rooms—including 36 stunning Loft Rooms-- retain authentic characteristics from the renovated historic wharf structure, but emanate urban chic and are equipped with all the latest technology. Not to mention sensational views of Sydney Harbor.
It's not too early to start planning your summer getaway. And why not think the UK countryside? Here's a favorite spot that the mags gush and rave about-- Harpers & Queen (Nov 2005) ranks the Summer Lodge as one of the 100 Best Places in the World:
With deckchairs scattered on sprawling lawns and trays laden with afternoon tea, this wisteria-clad Relais & Chateaux hotel in the beautiful Dorset Downs feels delightfully English – an atmosphere that extends into 24 extremely pretty, individually decorated rooms and suites.
X-factor: The lovely indoor pool, which is housed in a glass conservatory that looks out on the kitchen garden.
The room to choose? Why the master bedroom, of course. Room One was originally designed for famed writer Thomas Hardy and boasts a magnificent open fireplace and four poster bed overlooking the beautifully manicured English country gardens. Though you can't go wrong with the Ivy Cottage and its private hot tub in the courtyard garden.
Summer Lodge, Official Site
Summer Lodge, Five Star Alliance
February 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to the NYT to spill the secret: Rome in wintertime just can't be beat. Off-season hotel rates, end of season sales means shopping galore, the perfect lack of gawking crowds, and a plethora of (warm) indoor cultural activities. Where to stay? The stunning, historic Hotel de Russie (this is one of Rocco Forte's many European gems) boasts gorgeous terraced gardens and central courtyard, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city near the Spanish Steps. And the Spa—with Turkish steam bath, hydropool, jacuzzi and sauna—ain't too shabby either.
Hotel de Russie, Official Site
Hotel de Russie, Five Star Alliance
No joke. Private white sand beach and gorgeous tropical lagoons, luxurious rooms with ocean-view balconies, the Angsana Spa (need I say more?) and that famous Thai hospitality. All for $90 a night at the newly-renovated, newly-opened Dusit Laguna. It's back, and better than ever. Looking for a more active holiday? You name the sport. What don't they offer. Tennis, mountain biking, waterpolo, windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, basketball, volleyball, sailing, kayaking, pitch and putt golf, and-- for the Frenchies-- Jeu de Boules. Rates are absolutely unbeatable (have I mentioned that they start at $90 a night?)-- including both breakfast and dinner. Book travel before June 30th, 2006.
Dusit Laguna Resort, Official Site
Dusit Laguna Resort, Five Star Alliance
TripAdvisor reviews are pretty shameful, resounding with sentiments of disappointment about the overpriced little rooms and office park location. Has the hotel slipped since it lost its Four Seasons identity? Or have the negatives always plagued this place? Though certain trademarks—awesome eats, exquisite balcony views (over the Fashion Island shopping mall, the Pacific shimmers in the distance), superior service and a damn good spa—have stuck around, despite the management change. Besides, where else is there to stay in the OC?
Now you can explore the legendary Caribbean private island resort-- considered the best place to stay the world over—by land as well as sea, by exploring the crystal-clear waters of the British Virgin Islands while onboard the luxurious 41' sailing yacht Silmaril. Peter Island, the largest private island in the BVI and accessible only by boat or helicopter, offers an exquisite Ashore/Afloat package, which includes two nights on the yacht, and two or five nights of resort accommodations. Starting at $5,571 for 4 nights stay, from Jan 4-April 30. This is romance and luxurious seclusion at its finest; the island is a stunning natural paradise of lush mountains and secluded white sand beaches. Offering oodles of watersports, divine dining and a spa—150 feet from the water— with extraordinary specialty treatments... what could get better than this?
Peter Island, Official Site
Peter Island, Five Star Alliance
February 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
You can't beat the Washington Post "What's the Deal?" for superlative Weekly Travel Specials—this week's highlight a much needed Winter Spa Renewal package in the heart of California's magical Sonoma wine country. The elegant Hotel Healdsburg, set on the historic town plaza, is the setting of the much-acclaimed Dry Creek Kitchen, where famed chef Charlie Palmer goes Sonoma-fresh with local, organic ingredients. Enjoy this brilliant cuisine, gardens and pool with jacuzzi, luxurious spa, and the tranquility of Sonoma's surrounding wine country with discounts of $220 for a two-night stay. The Winter Spa Renewal package includes two nights accommodations, $500 worth of spa treatments, and breakfasts. A steal at $876 for two people, available Sunday-Thursday through March 31.
Hotel Healdsburg, Official Site
Hotel Healdsburg, Five Star Alliance