LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
November 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's back. The elegant grande dame of New Orleans, the only Five Diamond hotel in Louisiana, is planning its comeback after a 15-month closure caused by serious damage from Hurricane Katrina. Resembling the beautiful antebellum mansions in the Garden District, Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is celebrated for its traditional Southern ambience and gracious hospitality. Located at the edge of the French Quarter on Canal Street, the hotel features luxurious accommodations (distinguished by European and American art and antiques), excellent cuisine (four venues!), and a 20,000 square-foot European style spa, including signature treatments that date back to the time of Napoleon, Marie Antoinette and the court of Louis XVI. Room enhancements were a major part of the hotel's recent $100 million renovation. All 527 rooms have been renovated with new 400 thread-count Egyptian Cotton Linens, new Bulgari White Tea Bath Amenities, and new Rainforest Showerheads. Flat panel televisions were added to all of the Suites and Club Level accommodations. The renovated hotel will also feature the new signature restaurant called Melange and enhanced meeting space measuring 35,000 square feet. Accepting reservations starting December 4, 2006.
November 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Fairmont invites guests to enjoy Canada's winter wonderland with an excellent Experience Winter Package at participating hotels and resorts, starting from CAD139 a night. Hit the slopes at Whistler-- North America's top ski resort-- and stay slopeside at the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Whistler for direct ski-in, ski-out access. Or enjoy the snow-covered peaks of the Canadian Rockies at the Fairmont Banff Springs, where your lift ticket gives you the opportunity to ski at any one of three awesome ski areas: Banff's Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village or Lake Louise Ski Area. Or experience a slew of wintry activities-- dog sledding, sleigh rides, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, spa-- at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello in Quebec. Choose from ten of Fairmont's exciting Canadian destinations. In addition, if you pay with your American Express Card and stay three consecutive nights, you'll get the fourth night for free, including breakfast for two. (Four consecutive nights required at Whistler.)
November 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Mirror Lake Inn may be one of the top three ski resorts in North America, but it's also recognized as one of the "best resorts for non-skiers" (MSNBC.com) because of the excellent facilities. Enjoy winter activities such as ice skating, skiing, snow-snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, followed by afternoon tea in front of a crackling fire or a hot stone massage at the spa. Situated on the shores of Lake Placid, this elegant Adirondack hideaway features an exquisite indoor pool and Jacuzzi with panoramic views of the lake and mountains beyond. This traditional inn, relaxed and gracious, is celebrated for its warmth and hospitality. Escape for a One Night Ski Package and get incredible savings. Starting from just $260 per room, the package includes overnight accommodations, a one day ski pass to Whiteface Mountain for each adult, and breakfast in The View for two. Not valid during December 22, 2006 to January 7, 2007.
Kiawah Island Resort, outside Charleston, South Carolina, is oft considered the best golf and tennis resort in the United States. Kiawah debuted its luxury hotel, The Sanctuary, in recent years and the hotel has quickly gained a loyal following of distinguished guests. Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report named it "Best New Resort Hotel" for its personalized service, extraordinary accommodations, and luxurious facilities. The crown jewel of a special resort island, The Sanctuary is easily the finest oceanfront hotel to open on the East Coast in the past 20 years. Celebrate the holiday season at The Sanctuary with month-long festivities, beginning with the tree lighting ceremony and including special breakfasts with Santa and the elves, afternoon teas and storytelling with Mrs. Claus, cookies and hot chocolate, local chef Gingerbread House competition, and holiday music filling the lobby as carolers sing old favorites. It's truly a magical experience for the whole family. The Christmas Eve Package, priced at $485 per room, includes accommodations (Ocean View), full buffet breakfast for two, Christmas Eve Dinner for two at Jasmine Porch or Turtle Point, and a keepsake Sanctuary Christmas Ornament. The Christmas Feast Package, priced at $620 per room, includes a lavish Christmas Eve dinner for two at The Ocean Room, and a Christmas Day Buffet for two at Jasmine Porch.
As of November 20, 2006, downtown Orlando's landmark luxury hotel, the Grand Bohemian, will no longer be a Westin, after deciding not to renew the franchise agreement with Starwood. The award-winning hotel is gorgeous and plush; the lobby is distinguished by red and gold flecked Italian mosaic tiles and guest accommodations are appointed with rich fabrics and dark wood. Located in a premier spot across from Orlando's City Hall, the Grand Bohemian houses an incredible collection of rare and original works of art from regional as well as internationally renowned artists. Take a dip in the heated rooftop swimming pool, work out in the 24-hour fitness center, pamper yourself with an in-room spa treatment, and enjoy world-class dining at the AAA four-diamond awarded Boheme restaurant.
Rated North America's only AAA five diamond bed and breakfast, the Simpson House Inn is a luxurious and serene hideaway, only a five-minute walk from Santa Barbara's restaurants, theaters, museums and shops. Located in a lovely and historic neighborhood of Santa Barbara, the Simpson House is private and secluded, set behind tall hedges in an acre of English gardens. The landmark Victorian estate, considered one of the most distinguished homes of its era in SoCal, features 15 rooms, suites, and cottages each individually appointed with antiques, exquisite decor, and generous amenities. Guests enjoy European spa services in the comfort of their own room.
The Simpson House Inn has created some whimsical Celebration of Romance Packages, which include Flirt (the romantic getaway), Love Story (the anniversary plan), Enchanting Proposal (for popping the question), Fantasy Elopement (for getting hitched), and Passion (the honeymoon package). Passion is priced at $3,500 for five nights, and promises "all the romance of the American Riviera." Choose a Garden Cottage or Historic Barn room with wood burning fireplace. Guests are pampered with champagne, chocolate cheesecake hearts and a dozen roses on arrival. During the stay, guests enjoy two massages, complimentary bathrobes, and a framed photo taken at the Inn. The package also includes a day in the Santa Barbara Wine Country with car, driver and picnic lunch, and a custom itinerary with scenic hikes, shopping and dining suggestions, beach walks, and theater picks.
In a city of traditional hotels, Kimpton's Hotel Palomar is a welcome addition. Known for distinctive, modern hotels (with lots of color and personality), Kimpton has opened this luxury boutique hotel in the trendy Dupont Circle area. Stylish and vibrant, the Hotel Palomar Washington DC is inspired by the modern elegance of 1930s French Moderne designers, decked out with geometric marble flooring, exotic wood, and bold artwork. The 335 guestrooms and suites are touted as some of the most spacious in the nation's capital. Guests enjoy flat screen TVs, complimentary high-speed WiFi Internet access, complimentary evening wine reception, complimentary morning coffee and tea in the living room, and an on-site fitness center and outdoor lap pool. The hotel is proud of its pet-friendly status, and spoils Fido and Kitty with luxurious amenities (there's a pet concierge, and Bark Bar, the three-tiered water bar for dogs outside the hotel). Even with seven hotels in the metropolitan DC area, Kimpton is apparently scouting out more locations in the area.
Created by Robert Redford, Sundance Resort is an intimate preserve that balances art, nature, and community. Situated at the base of 12,000 foot Mount Timpanogos, the resort consists of 95 luxurious guest cottages and 6,000 acres of pristine mountain wilderness to explore. Though rooms may be all booked for the celebrated Sundance Film Festival (January 18-28, 2007), superb winter packages entice guests to indulge in a luxurious hideaway at Sundance. Dine in the highest Zagat-rated fine restaurant in the state of Utah, the Tree Room. Pamper yourself at the Native American-inspired spa, which utilizes all organic products in its sumptuous treatments. Take a class at the artisan center: jewelry making, photography, painting, pottery, and recycled glass blowing demonstrations. And explore Utah's beautiful terrain with a vast array of mountain activities including biking, hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing. For a limited time, enjoy a one-night escape at an amazing value, starting at $160.25 (based on double occupancy). Package includes a luxurious night in one of the mountain cottages and a full American breakfast for two in the Foundry Grill. Available until December 7, 2006. Sundance Resort offers another excellent package: Stay 3 Ski Free. If you book three or more nights in a cottage suite, enjoy two all day lift passes per day. Also includes breakfast for two. Package starts at $927 based on double occupancy.
Surf's up. Welcome to San Diego, where it's always sunny and seventy degrees, and the leading luxury resort-- the AAA five diamond Four Seasons Aviara-- has a surf concierge. That's right. This concierge dude hangs out in a poolside surf shack and relays the latest wave conditions and ocean temperature to interested guests. A Surf Shuttle departs from the resort daily at 10:30 am to transport guests to Moonlight Beach, one of San Diego's top surf spots, where lessons are held. The surf concierge-turned-instructor gives personalized two-hour lessons, which includes wetsuit and board. (Never fear: s/he's a professional, and life-guard-certified.) The ultimate goal of the surf concierge: help you catch your first wave.
November 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It’s really no wonder The Belvedere is so good. It's located in the only hotel in So Cal to earn the distinction of an AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil Five-Star rating for 13 consecutive years. Its sophisticated ambience, impeccable service, and outstanding American cuisine have distinguished The Belvedere as one of the finest restaurants in LA. In fact, readers of Travel and Leisure recently voted it the "Best Hotel Restaurant in the Continental US and Canada." Star chef Sean Hardy has created a beautiful menu which includes signature items like the famed "Macaroni and Cheese", Elbow Pasta with Taleggio Cheese, Shaved Truffles, and a Parmesan Tuile, or Potato-Crusted California Sturgeon. Guests can dine on the patio and soak up the California rays while indulging in the exemplary cuisine. One can even get their food to go (*gasp*) with the Pen-Air menu, originally designed to accommodate guests on their flights home. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The Sunday brunch is especially popular.