May 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:
"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead. Resources: The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans. Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.
As CNN reports, the legal battle over designation of "Surf City USA" has officially ended, as Huntington Beach edged out rival Santa Cruz with a federal agency's decision "to grant the town exclusive trademark rights." Easy, dudes! Both spots are world-renowned for their awesome waves. But if you're craving the warmer waters, better head south to Huntington Beach. The town's got an easy-going vibe and quiet elegance, and plenty of opportunities to watch the locals ride the waves in surf competitions.
Looking for lux accommodations? Just a short hop from Huntington Beach in the sun-drenched magnificence of the OC, Newport Beach lures with its recently renovated Fairmont Hotel. It's actually in the final stages of the $30 million renovation, which involves the outdoor area, driveway, and landscaping-- all slated for completion by August 31. The rest of the place is dazzling and new, including the heated sky pool and deck which opens any day now. The Fairmont Gold Lounge and Gold Floor guest rooms-- a "hotel within a hotel" with private check-in and complimentary breakfast and evening hors' d'oeuvres-- will be completed at the beginning of June. The new 8,000 sq ft Spa will open in January.
Take advantage of Only One Way Summer Rates. Rooms are a steal starting at $199 a night.
The Fairmont Newport Beach, Five Star Alliance
Outside Magazine, Surf Guide 2006
It's not too late. Take a break from the Big Apple and head for the hills: the elegant Adirondack hideaway, Mirror Lake Inn, on the shores of Lake Placid. The award-winning hotel (Travel and Leisure loves this spot) is hosting its first annual Festival of Food and Wine in just a few days time. From May 17- May 19, culinary masters and guest chefs will delight guests with their techniques and tasty dishes. What's in store over the three day event? Cooking demos, tastings, wine seminars, and high-profile dinners. The hotel is offering a special package for the event, which includes the following: luxurious accommodations for three nights in a Noonmark room, welcome champagne reception, a wine reception followed by a seven course Tasting menu presented by the members of the 1988 New England Culinary Team on the second evening, and a farewell dinner prepared by the Mirror Lake Inn culinary team the last night. $785 per person or $1240 per couple.
(Plus, after feasting on all that yummy grub, rest assured that there are work-out facilities aplenty at this lakeshore resort, along with plenty of fun in the sun: natural private beach, outdoor heated pool with panoramic views, tennis, Spa, indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna.)
May 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
A fast ride on a hydrofoil and you feel a million miles away from the big city. The island's landscape could almost be the flower-studded hills of a Mediterranean isle, surrounded by the deep blue of sea and sky. Welcome to Santa Catalina (here feel free to break into song: Twenty- six miles across the sea; Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me; Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance.) Even a day-trip from LA can be a rejuvenating escape. Explore the beautiful coast by mountain bike, kayak, or by foot, stroll through the village, or hit the beach and soak up the sun. This month, Islands Magazine features Santa Catalina as one of four American islands to visit this summer.
Come November, the new InterContinental Boston will bring five star rooms (424 of them) to a stellar location overlooking Boston Harbor within walking distance of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. According to the Boston Herald, bookings for corporate events are already taking off. And it's no wonder--the hotel will have a prime spot near the Convention Center, the second largest ballroom in downtown (a total of 32,000 sq ft of conference and banquet facilities), state-of-the-art technology, and a classy interior of rich paneling, marble and leather. Boston is welcoming a hotel boom at the moment with exemplary spots like this one. As described by the Herald, here's a taste of what’s to come:
The exterior, a bold statement for Boston, features sleek, modern glass. The windows on the front of the hotel facing Atlantic Avenue curve in and out to evoke the feeling of a flag. On the harborside, they are curved in to convey a sail.
Courtesy of Forbes.com. Vanity Fair's Oscar Party? Been there, done that. But what about Le Bal Des Debutantes, at the smashing Hotel de Crillon in Paris? Or the Monte Carlo Red Cross gala? Or Playboy's Midsummer Night's Dream Party? (The full list of high-rollers hang-outs is here.) Hurry up and score an invite! You're so there.
Not only are airlines continuing to lose bags at an abysmal rate, but now they're slapping on the baggage fees (overweight bag and you'll have to pony up the dough). Hence the launch of luggage shipping. Skip the hassle of airport check-in, kiss goodbye to bag-schlepping on taxis and trains, avoid the wait at baggage claim, and travel worry-free knowing that your bags will be waiting for you at your destination. Brilliant. Who are the big guys in luggage shipping? Luggage Free bills itself the "luxury luggage delivery expert," specializing in the delivery of excess baggage, golf clubs, skis and oversize stuff. Luggage Concierge offers competitive pricing and a first-class experience, with solid insurance coverage. Luggage Forward provides door-to-door luggage and sports equipment delivery to more than 200 countries globally. Luggage Forward recently announced a sweet new development in their business model: a walk-up forwarding location at the Nantucket Memorial Airport. The fully-staffed counter will be available during the busy summer season, and is the first instance of a luggage forwarding company creating a satellite location. By now, discerning travelers have caught on to the trend of luggage forwarding. Pray tell: how do you like it? What has been your experience? How many days does the process require? Will you ever check baggage on your flights again? Fill us in!
Spice things up with a one-night romantic escape at New York's timeless classic: The Carlyle. A landmark on Madison Avenue, The Carlyle is all about elegance and refined taste. Like a stately private residence, The Carlyle welcomes its guests with the most exacting and discreet service. Enjoy sweeping views of Central Park from your sumptuous suite, individually appointed with the finest fabrics and Frette linens, some featuring private terraces and grand pianos. Rekindle the romance with a getaway to The Carlyle with the Legendary Love Package, which includes: accommodations for one night, chocolates, champagne and roses on arrival, one dinner for two in The Carlyle Restaurant, cover charges for two persons to see Elaine Stritch at Cafe Carlyle, Continental breakfast for two in bed, and two spa treatments at Exhale (up to $100 per treatment).
The Carlyle, Five Star Alliance
So you're tardy again and are scouring FTD, Red Envelope, and all the best of them for the perfect last minute gift for Mom. (Just when you vowed, after shopping on Christmas Eve last year, never to be last minute again.) Why not spoil Mom with a night at the best and most exclusive joint Vegas has to offer, where vibrant, luxurious rooms are complimented by the most opulent and decadent of facilities? Amazing Spa, check. Designer boutiques, check. Golf, enormous casino, restaurants, entertainment, check. Just what does the Wynn Las Vegas not have?
May 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This Summer Special is almost too good to be true. From June 1 to September 15, book a two-night stay at any Peninsula Hotel worldwide, and get spoiled with a complimentary gift of your choice: spa treatment, romantic dinner for two, traditional afternoon tea, airport transfers or late check-out. For example, when you stay for a minimum of two consecutive nights at The Peninsula Hong Kong, you can choose one value-added benefit from the following: round trip limousine airport transfers, one set dinner for two persons at Gaddi's, or one 80-minute ESPA Holistic Body Massage for two persons. And this is for ANY Peninsula Hotel, located in seven awesome locations worldwide.