June 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hot off the press! The classic New York landmark that sits at 6 Times Square has just been sold to Istithmar Hotels, an investment arm of the royal family of Dubai, for $300 million-- to be restored to its former glory as a five-star hotel. The original Knickerbocker Hotel was built between 1901 and 1906 for John Jacob Astor IV, a luxurious hot spot for celebrities in the heart of Manhattan. As described by the Hartford Courant:
The one-time Knickerbocker hotel in Times Square has an illustrious history: Enrico Caruso sang from its balcony; Maxfield Parrish's 30-foot-long painting "Old King Cole" hung in its barroom; and the martini is believed to have been invented there. Now the beaux-arts-style Knickerbocker, long since converted into apartments and textile showrooms, may become a hotel again.
Once known as the Newsweek Building when it housed the magazine's offices, the Knickerbocker hotel's building is also known to be the place where the famous gang leader, Monk Eastman, was captured by police while having a shoot-out with a Pinkerton detective. In its heyday, the Knickerbocker hotel boasted 556 rooms, a phenomenal restaurant-bar, and its own subway entrance. (The mysterious locked door is still visible at the northern end of the platform at Times Square subway station.) No wonder the city's elite flocked there.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Alexis Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel as committed to its history as it is to the contemporary Seattle arts scene, displaying original pieces throughout the guestrooms and public spaces. The Alexis offers elegance mixed with a lot of whimsy smack dab in the middle of it all in downtown Seattle. Guestrooms also feature beautiful antiques, wood burning fireplaces, and two person tubs. The Library Bistro is known as one of the best restaurants in Seattle-- its ambience reminiscent of a 1940s supper club with faux lizard skin high back booths and dramatic lighting, and serving new American cuisine with an emphasis on locally grown vegetables and fresh seafood. Now at the Alexis Hotel, enjoy "The Art of Celebrity Living, Seattle Style," featuring a weekend of pampering and sampling of the city's hot art scene with the centerpiece, a chartered helicopter trip to a concert at The Gorge Ampitheatre, the top outdoor concert venue in the United States.
Here's the skinny:
Arrive via chauffeured limousine; accommodations for two in luxuriously appointed suite complete with a gorgeous floral arrangement, a pair of emerald earrings from Turgeon-Raine Jewellers, and a local eyewear boutique will pay you a visit with a selection of "rock star" designer sunglasses to choose from; following a scrumptious breakfast in bed, you will have your choice of "Seattle Style" experiences: a private glass blowing class, coupled with your choice of either a private art gallery tour led by Barbara Shaiman (the Alexis' own art curator) or a behind-the-scenes tour of the acclaimed DoubleTake fine art exhibit at the Experience Music Project (EMP); take a chartered chopper for a trip over the Cascade Mountains to attend a concert at The Gorge Amphitheater, arriving just in time for sunset; the Alexis' executive chef, Tim Ferguson will prepare a special "Cristal and caviar" picnic dinner for you to enjoy during the concert; finish off this rock-star weekend with a mimosa brunch at the Alexis' Library Bistro; as a special memento, the complete Alexis bedding set will be shipped to your home along with a CD collection of the artist you've just seen at The Gorge.
The Art of Celebrity Living package is priced at $10,000 and is valid until September 3, 2006.
The spot with the best Chinese food in the city--mouthwatering Shanghainese and Cantonese dishes--is also home to an exquisite (and unique) open-air terrace. Sit among the skyscrapers while experiencing the finest service for which the award-winning Peninsula Chicago is known. Voted number 1 hotel in the US by Travel and Leisure, the Peninsula Chicago is also a Mobil five star and AAA five diamond property. Located on the fourth floor of the hotel, the Shanghai Terrace is also known for its 1930's supper club atmosphere and elegant Asian decor.
June 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
A Bastille celebration at the Hotel Bel-Air is a jackpot for foodies, promising sumptuous French eats and bubbly, of course. On Friday, July 14, 2006, join Madeleine Sophie de Jean, Champagne Ambassador of Mumm, for a lively evening at this elegant LA establishment. Learn about the history of Bastille Day and Champagne Mumm and indulge in such flavorful dishes as seared foie gras with sauteed yellow peaches and black pepper caramel, seared Turbot filet with Champagne caviar sauce and asparagus and sorrel medley, and filet of beef with Bordelaise, roasted shallots, and gratin Dauphinois. Fireplace Courtyard Reception at 6:30 pm followed by dinner at 7:30 pm in The Palm Room. $225 per person.
In the heart of New Orleans, on the edge of the French Quarter, sits one of the world's best hotels. For over 20 years, the Windsor Court has pampered guests with its gracious Southern hospitality, elegant accommodations, and superlative amenities. The awards are numerous, bestowed by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure (among the top hotels in the US), Andrew Harper's Hideaway "World's Best Hotels", Mobil four-star, and AAA four-diamond.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, the hotel has been at the forefront in rebuilding the city of New Orleans with its Windsor Court Cares program, which makes charitable donations from room bookings and provides housing for volunteers. Their latest package combines tourism and civic responsibility for guests wishing to assist in reconstruction efforts. The two-night package (designed for groups of 10 or more) features a cooking class at Savvy Gourmet in Uptown New Orleans, followed by a visit to a city affected reconstruction site where participants serve foods prepared in class to volunteer workers. Part of the package price is also donated to the Slow Food New Orleans Relief Fund and to the Edible Schoolyard Project.
This elegant 140-acre resort offers an alluring array of recreational choices for the ideal summer getaway. Situated just 15 minutes from the Palm Beach International Airport, The Breakers is a legendary Florida resort with a premium oceanfront location, brand new $15 million beachfront experience, fabulous cuisine, extensive amenities, and an award-winning children's program. This summer at The Breakers, it's all about affordable luxury, with the Stay Longer and Save promotion, offering reduced summer rates based on length of stay. From June 1- September 30, 2006, summer savings are in full effect, both on room categories and recreational amenities. For example, for one or two nights, rates start at $259 per night for standard superior rooms, and for five nights or more, rates are an unbelievable $219 per night. The resort's top amenities are also available at reduced summer pricing: 20 percent savings at Spa services (Monday-Thursday, and 15 percent off on the weekends), 20 percent savings at select restaurants, including Sunday Brunch, 20 percent savings at the Coconut Crew kids camp, daily complimentary tennis court time and fitness classes, reduced Golf greens fees on the resort's two championship courses, and fabulous introductory pricing on daily rental fees for the new Luxury Beach Bungalows. Located along the newly transformed waterfront, the premium beach bungalows offer a private retreat by the ocean. Enjoy savings starting at $149 per day.
Who would've thought that the heart of Scottsdale would become the center of hip? And in this newly-glamorous and fashionable city, the Mondrian Hotel Scottsdale stands out as the sexiest thing around, much like its sister hotel in West Hollywood. Morgans Hotel Group (with its luxurious design-focused boutique hotels) has done it again. This 200-room "Urban Resort" is sophisticated and exciting, conveniently located overlooking the Scottsdale Mall gardens. Guest rooms are sleek and comfortable, with Wireless Internet, 42-inch plasma TVs, 300-thread count luxury bedding and European pillow top mattresses topped off with six pillows, Agua bath products, 200 movies on-demand and a deluxe CD sound system with an iPod connection. The suites boast deep tubs and wrap-around patios. Of course the Mondrian Scottsdale features signature design elements such as the Indoor/Outdoor Lobby, the Bar with large, open fireplace, and two beautifully designed swimming pools and jacuzzi. Morgans Hotel Group is planning the hotel's re-launch for later this year, with the opening of the legendary Skybar and Jeffrey Chodorow's Asia de Cuba. Rock on.
Gas prices hovering at obscene highs put a damper on your travel plans? Fear not, a dose of summer sunshine and gorgeous scenery may still be in the cards, with the "Free Gas and Deals on Wheels" package offered by the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado. The National Register Landmark is the quintessential Aspen hotel, just minutes from downtown and surrounded by the magnificent Rocky Mountains. Guest rooms are individually decorated, with luxurious amenities; guests gratefully retreat to their elegant and comfortable haven after a day spent exploring the surrounding countryside (or lounging by the beautiful pool).
The "Free Gas and Deals on Wheels'' package includes a voucher for $50 in gas, free parking, two passes to the Aspen Recreation Center ($30), two bus rides to the Maroon Bells ($14) and two free one-day bicycle rentals. Rates start at $380 for a deluxe king, through Labor Day. Valid through Labor Day.
The city that never sleeps is open 24/7. As a cute reminder of this fact, New York is celebrating its annual Summer Restaurant Week with its finest restaurants serving up three-course prix-fixe lunches for $24.07 (three-course dinners are $35, with beverages and taxes additional). July 10-14, and July 17-21, Monday-Friday only. The list of participating restaurants is extensive (200 of them!), covering all neighborhoods, and includes 21 Club, Asia de Cuba, FIVES at The Peninsula, Gramercy Tavern, Mercer Kitchen, and Nobu.
June 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The resort and its spa have been acclaimed worldwide as the premier five-star experience in North America. And now Las Ventanas brings its clients a fundamentally new way to experience a resort spa, with is three new Spa Suites that offer a self-contained "total spa lifestyle" within the privacy of your own ultra-lavish suite.
These suites feature a dedicated Spa Butler who coordinates your personalized spa program, a state-of-the-art, in-suite treatment room, and a spa ambiance that includes organic mini-bar, magnetic mattresses, infrared sauna, Infinity-edge Jacuzzi (with a breathtaking view over the Sea of Cortez), and iSqueeze Reflexology Boots for daily foot massages. The 3,893 sq. foot suites offer two full bedroom suites (master and guest) with full baths, oversize jet tubs, living room, full kitchen, two patios, adobe fireplaces, and telescopes for whale-watching.
The individualized spa activity program-- built around health, fitness, nutrition, and beauty-- is results-oriented, with multi-faceted activities (bodywork, meditation, nutrition, facials, herbal remedies, swimming, saunas, etc.) Starting at Las Ventanas, guests achieve measured results, and then continue an at-home program for a lasting lifetime impact.
Rates for Spa Suite Programs start at $13,425 for a four-night program for two.