Holiday getaways can't get more perfect than the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport. Its restaurant, at the top of all the "Best Of" lists (AAA Five Diamond, Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Conde Nast Traveler's Best of the Best.) Built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's, with rustic decor and an awesome 7,000 bottle wine cellar, the restaurant serves the finest New England cuisine. The adjoining Inn, ranked among the top 25 small hotels in North America, has 25 rooms with fireplace (how atmospheric can you get!), flat-screen TVs with DVD, and all that jazz. Plus, the inn's got a heated swimming pool, so even if a blizzard is a-raging, you can enjoy poolside massage therapy and spa treatments. Spend your holidays at the White Barn Inn, with the following special packages. The Christmas Retreat includes: two nights luxurious stay, Christmas Eve reception, turn down treat on arrival (and present in room), full Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch in White Barn restaurant, and traditional afternoon tea. From $409 per person. The New Years Eve Gala Celebration includes two nights stay, special tea on arrival, wine in room, Gala dinner dance with four-course meal and champagne, full continental breakfast. From $677 per person.
The White Barn Inn, Official Site
The White Barn Inn, Five Star Alliance
Long renowned as a little bit of Provence in California's wine country, this Napa establishment recently unveiled a spectacular renovation. Interiors enhanced by custom designed furniture with a historical basis (like oversized ottomans), richly colored bedcovers, and limestone countertops. And of course myriad high-tech touches: plasma TVs in both bedroom and sitting room, DVD, wireless internet, and flat screen TV in the bathrooms above the large soaking tubs. Situated on a sun-kissed 33 acre olive grove, the accommodations (whether private rooms, suites or private cottages) are terraced into the hillside, with sweeping views of the Napa Valley. From the acclaimed restaurant to the magnificent spa (boasting fountains, private gardens and outdoor soaking pools), what's not to love?
L'Auberge Du Soleil, Official Site
L'Auberge Du Soleil, Five Star Alliance
Starwood just announced that it acquired the Le Meridien brand of 130 hotels and resorts for $225 million. For the 24 million Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) customers, this means more choice in markets like Paris, Nice, Dubai and London. Additionally, Starwood will gain properties where it doesn't have them currently, in spots like Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Budapest, the Seychelles and Mauritius.
Starting next year, art and sculpture from one of the world's finest collections will be on view at Atlanta's High Museum. This seems truly unprecedented: that Paris' cultural gem has agreed to share part of its collection with another museum for an extended period. The "Louvre in Atlanta Project" is to be launched in January, with an exchange of French and American high school students, followed by the appearance of Louvre exhibits at Atlanta's High Museum in the fall. So much for botched Franco-American relations!
Maybe you're stuffed to the gills with stuffing, but I'd place a bet that you could still squeeze in a few bites at Restaurant Eve-- the best neighborhood bistro in the Washington DC area. The website may be a bit ambitious, a bit over-the-top bold, with their taunting boast: "Are you in the mood for a gastronomic epiphany?" But this place sure does deliver. (I've known Frenchmen even to swoon over the amuse-bouche.) The chef's tasting menus (choose from five or nine courses) include such delights as lobster creme brulee, olive oil poached escolar, and wild Scottish partridge. Yum. And who cares that this destination restaurant is a little outside the beltway? Alexandria's not really the burbs when it's got such historical charm.
Looking for a winter respite close to home? Charleston, SC will lure you with its sub-tropical climate, history, charm and beautiful architecture. Tour the antebellum homes, play a round of golf at more than 20 courses in the area (including Kiawah, Wild Dunes and the new Arnold Palmer signature course at Rivertowne), or relax on the white sand beaches just 15 minutes from the city center. And this time of year, there are countless special offers at hotels in the area. My pick? The romantic Charleston Place (an Orient Express hotel), with its two great restaurants, elegant rooms, and Spa with horizon edged pool with retractable glass roof. The staff is all about Southern hospitality. Rates as low as $189 are available from November 27-30, and December 18-December 22. Other great deals? Try Kiawah Island Golf Resort, with its zillion activities and trails through nature preserves. For the end of November, rates are a steal at $117.
Charleston Place, Official Site
Charleston Place, Five Star Alliance
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Official Site
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Five Star Alliance
Read about Charleston in The Washington Post’s Vagablog
November 23, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
A permanent address that's an everchanging address… now that's a cool idea. Slated to launch in fall 2007, the ship will include 100 luxury apartments, with all the indulgent amenities for which Four Seasons is famous (spa, steam room, pool and cabanas, jogging track and fitness center, even… golf?) Grab a stake before they sell out. From $400,000 for a one-month timeshare for 50 years.
Via Travel and Leisure (flipping through the November issue)
I kind of love that the entrance (a decidedly BIG wooden door) is unmarked. Only a coolly-clad bouncer marks the entrance to swankdom. Step inside and it's a colorful world of uber-romance. Enjoy a glass of wine on the patio or winter garden (choose from 85 varieties of wine by the glass). Of the Mediterranean/Californian fare—all organic-- even the salads are drool-worthy. Though some reviewers are prone to deem it "so hip it hurts," I’d choose 4 out of 3 meals a day at this joint.
The rumors were too devastating to bear: The Plaza to be gutted and stuffed with luxury condos?!? The fall of New York’s legendary landmark—possibly the most storied hotel in the United States—seemed the end of an era. After 100 years of hosting movie stars, dignitaries, and lots of drunken NYC debutantes… But admirers of Eloise (my all-time favorite childhood book), the legend lives on! Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has just announced plans to manage this National Historic Landmark. After a $350 million renovation, the new Plaza will contain 282 luxury hotel rooms (including those dreaded condo units and heaps of retail space), ready in early 2007.
In the rugged wilderness of West Texas, between Big Bend National Park and the Mexico border, lies a unique destination resort situated on a 25,000-acre private estate. Lajitas is surrounded by the awesome scenery that—as Architectural Digest explains—inspired Franklin Delano Roosevelt to sign into law the creation of Big Bend National Park. This exquisite landscape is etched with the history of the infamous characters from the Old West. The lodging? This ain’t tents around the campfire. Along with the resort’s endless array of activities, Lajitas offers luxurious cowboy chic. Of the 92 rooms, no two are alike—each outfitted with plush robes and lavish Agave amenities. (Suites and private haciendas also available.) The resort has designed a host of fun and clever packages. The “Ultimate Golf Package”—with unlimited golf and lunch on the course—is $250 a night. With the optional 19th hole in Mexico, Ambush at Lajitas is the world’s only international course. Unlimited rounds of golf are complemented by unlimited carts, balls, and beverages. My fave is the “So You Wanna Be A Cowboy” package, where guests participate in a slew of activities, starting with a custom-fitting of cowboy boots. Next on the agenda? Learn how to use a gun of the Old West at Greasewood Flats, Lajitas’ very own cowboy action shooting range. After breakfast on Day 2, head out on a trail ride to the Buena Suerte Mine and Ghost Town, then star-gaze by a roaring campfire while enjoying a gourmet feast. Starting at $400 per person.
Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout, Official Site
Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout, Five Star Alliance