February 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
From tragedy to renaissance. The historic Clifton Inn, one of only 44 prestigious Relais and Chateaux properties in the United States, has re-emerged in all its glory after a devastating fire two years ago that killed two guests. The tragedy and heartache of that event-- and the lawsuits and settlements that followed—no longer linger over the historic 1799 property, built by Thomas Mann Randolph, the son-in-law of Thomas Jefferson and once governor of Virginia. Renovations are remarkable. Rooms in the main house are beautifully furnished with antiques, equipped with up-to-the-minute technology, and state-of-the-art bathrooms feature Waterworks fixtures and spa jet showers. Views from the newly renovated main house overlook Monticello Mountain, the pool's cascading waterfalls, the beautifully sloping lawns and flowering gardens. The garden rooms, reminiscent of a private cottage, feature exposed ceiling beams and more unique antiques.
Take advantage of this special offer, designed to beat the winter blues. From now until March 31, these luxurious accommodations-- with breakfast and daily afternoon tea included-- are only $225 a night. Valid Sunday-Thursday.
The Washington Post, "The Comeback Inn"
The new Four Seasons is the shining star of the prestigious International Finance Centre, the awesome business and shopping complex located on the waterfront of the Central neighborhood. This is easily the top location on Hong Kong Island, with unrivalled links to Hong Kong Station, and the Star Ferry just steps away. Described by the IHT as the "first major hotel to open in Hong Kong in 15 years," the Four Seasons Hong Kong opened its sleek, modern doors in September. Its 399 spacious guestrooms—with wall-to-wall windows offering views of the Harbour, Kowloon and the Peak—are well-equipped with the latest in technology, including 42-inch plasma screen TVs. Additionally, there are five excellent restaurants and bars, a fully-equipped health club, and an incredible, 2,043 sq meter spa with 18 treatment rooms including two VIP suites. The outdoor infinity pools, heated in winter, offer a pool-deck whirlpool and sweeping harbor views.
Four Seasons Hong Kong, Official Site
Four Seasons Hong Kong, Five Star Alliance
The craggy, mysterious Himalayas, or some faux fantasy from Disney? Looks like the real deal to me. Snowcapped peaks, colorful Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind, a monastery, Everest base camp, and real, imported flora and fauna. Disney's just-completed Expedition-Everest: Mission Himalayas promises to be as educational as it is action-packed. After all, the Disney creatives partnered with Conservation International and Discovery Networks and sent a scientific, exploratory mission to the Himalayas:
The team searched for new plants and animals not yet discovered in the eastern Himalayan region from China to Nepal, one of the most botanically rich temperate regions in the world with an estimated 12,000 plant species, including 3,500 found nowhere else.
Opening this April, the newest attraction takes riders to an encounter with the scary and mythical Yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman, after "trekking" into a remote Himalayan village and "exploring" local artifacts. Who cares about the lines? I'm so there.
February 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After late nights pondering the question, I've finally found the answer. Novelist Jay McInerney-- with his sarcastic wit and true command of the South and all things Southern-- describes the Peabody Memphis in his book The Last of the Savages:
I think it was Faulkner—usually a safe bet in these matters—who said the Mississippi Delta originated in the lobby of the Peabody. Certainly no one would have mistaken this for the Boston Ritz-Carlton, or for the Plaza in New York. That curious and beguiling southern blend of ease and formality were in the air—that rhythm oscillating between languor and hysteria. The lobby was thronged with revelers in evening dress... Young women in ball gowns wafted about the two-story lobby, while their male counterparts lurked in corners, conspiring and breaking out into sudden fits of suppressed hilarity. These young swains applauded as a tiny man in livery marched the ducks from the fountain in the center of the lobby across the floor and into the elevator en route to a pen on the hotel roof. The ducks were the descendants of a batch of live decoys—or so Cordell Savage once told me—which had been dumped into the fountain one afternoon by a band of liquored-up hunters fresh from the duck blind who wanted to continue drinking at the hotel bar.
So much for the ducks' noble origins.
The Peabody Memphis, Official Site
The Peabody Memphis, Five Star Alliance
Imagine a luxurious home-away-from-home in the heart of Manhattan, featuring designer furnishings by rock-star designers Robert Kuo, Martha Sturdy, Barbara Berry and Bill Sofield. The two-bedroom Taipan Suite is a dreamy 1,210 sq feet, with floor-to-ceiling views overlooking Central Park, the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline from the 54th floor of the Mandarin Oriental. The decor? The best of urban chic, with Asian and Art Deco influence. The bathrooms—equipped with heavenly bath products by FRESH—are unique and luxurious: an oversized marble bath with LCD flat panel TV and separate shower, and the other featuring a soaking tub with picture window overlooking Central Park. Take care of some business—your suite converts easily to an office with three multi-line telephones, high-speed internet access, laptop connections to LCD TV, and printer and fax machine upon request. Or relax with a drink from the wet bar with Bisazza tiles, and enjoy a flick from the home theater set-up.
Mandarin Oriental New York, Official Site
Mandarin Oriental New York, Five Star Alliance
When the grey and dreary February days drag on (could this really be the shortest month of the year?), it's easy to dream of greener pastures. And with spectacular special packages like this one, it's easy to act and make those dreams happen. At the sun-drenched resort of Casa de Campo, the days are long, lively, or languorous, rooms are luxurious, the spa is heaven-on-earth, and the activities are plentiful. Horseback riding, tennis, water sports, golf, fishing, sailing… whatever your little heart desires. Truly. Now through April 16th, guests who book four nights, receive the fifth night free. Starting at $1,476 per person, all-inclusive. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner; unlimited drinks in resort restaurants and bars; horseback riding; tennis; non-motorized water sports; one round of skeet-shooting; one four-passenger touring cart for duration of stay. Now that's a deal.
Casa De Campo, Official Site
Casa De Campo, Five Star Alliance
February 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Private luxurious beach bungalows are now available for daytime rental at The Breakers. Enjoy a secluded day retreat on the ocean with loads of ultra-luxurious conveniences. Situated next to the Ocean Grill across from the new Active Pool, the five cabanas are 300 square feet in size with outside patio surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. The Breakers has done it right with its new $15 million beachfront makeover. Along with the casual dining at the new Ocean Grill overlooking the Atlantic and the expansive Active Fun Pool (free-form zero entry pool on the beach, designed for families), 15 more Beach Bungalows will be available for some lucky folks come end-of-March. These cabanas will be situated next to the new luxury relaxation pool designated quiet area (more chill-out zone than people-watching hub).
The Breakers, Official Site
The Breakers, Five Star Alliance
February 20, 2006
By: Guest Writer
You can now go snow skiing in one of the hottest places on earth. Dubai, the city-state in the United Arab Emirates, opened the first of two state-of-the-art indoor snow parks this past December; the second, Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, is scheduled for 2006. It’s the world’s third largest indoor ski resort and the only one in the Middle East. The 25-storey structure covers an area of about three football fields and can hold up to 1,500 people at a time. The indoor park maintains temperatures between 18F and 28F with real snow including falling snow flakes. It's connected to the billion dollar Mall of the Emirates and resembles a Swiss mountain resort complete with the St Moritz Cafe to warm yourself with a hot drink. The indoor snow park has chairlifts with skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and a ski school. It includes five color-coded slopes with varying degrees of difficulty for both enthusiasts and beginners, and the world's first indoor black diamond run. The longest ski run is over 1200 feet. There's even a rumor that Dubai might field a team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Admission to Ski Dubai is $35 and winter clothing and ski gear are rented as part of the admission fee.
By: Guest Writer
As the New Zealand Herald reports, luxury travel in kiwi territory is booming. Lodges like Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau, Blanket Bay and Huka Lodge are glam destination resorts that play host to celebs (laying low), oil tycoons, and the international jet-set. The cat's out of the bag about the remote Pacific islands whose breathtaking scenery played center stage in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings flicks. Our pick? The luxurious hideaway of Blanket Bay, with its magnificent setting next to Lake Wakatipu, beneath snow-capped peaks. Earning top accolades from CNT, Forbes, and the Sunday Times UK, Blanket Bay offers 12 secluded rooms and suites, constructed of timber and stone and filled with sumptuous furnishings. The suites boast exquisite views from large private terraces. Likewise, the mountain and lake vistas are phenomenal from the outdoor heated lap pool. Activities range from the adrenaline-pumping (jetboating and heli-skiing) to the calm and relaxing (excellent health and spa facilities).
Blanket Bay, Official Site
Blanket Bay, Five Star Alliance
They're open! And there's plenty of snow. Just in time for President's Day Weekend. The Wash Post has the skinny.