February 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
With white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and lush, green landscapes, Maui has always appealed as a picture-perfect paradise and renowned destination for honeymooners and families alike. Thus we've been eagerly anticipating the April opening of the Wailea Beach Villas: its elegant private residences offering the intimacy of private homes, but with all the facilities and amenities of a grand resort. Daily housekeeping, concierge assistance, swimming pools, and a spectacular beachfront location overlooking the West Maui mountains. The villas are stocked with fine linens, signature bath amenities, and fabulous gourmet kitchens. And of course the island paradise offers a bounty of activities: scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, boating, kayaking, surfing, fishing, horseback riding, jeep and helicopter tours.
The only complaint? In a tropical island paradise like Maui, is a gated community-- touting serious 24 hour security and surveillance-- absolutely necessary?
Opening in April of this year, Kempinski's first hotel in Dubai has an extraordinary location: overlooking the much-hyped Ski Dubai Alpine themed indoor snow resort, and attached to the biggest shopping mall outside of North America. The luxurious and spacious guestrooms (some of the country's largest) include 15 Ski Chalets with superb views of the indoor ski resort. All are equipped with cutting-edge technology: large flat plasma screen TVs with 40 international satellite channels, in addition to DVD and multi media player. The hotel also features a health club, Ayurveda wellness center, swimming pool and tennis court. The ultimate Alpine experience in the heart of Dubai, Kempinski's five-star hotel is set to become a central landmark in the hottest destination on the planet.
Now is the time to plan a holiday to India: to discover the colorful culture and mythical history of the desert-state of Rajasthan, the pulsing nightlife of New Delhi, and get pampered like a maharaja staying at the glorious Taj Hotels. It doesn't get much better than this with Taj Royal Escapes. From May 1- September 30, stay at any participating Taj luxury hotel, in any combination, and the benefits are extraordinary. Stay for 6 nights, pay for 3; stay for 10 nights, pay for 5; stay for 14 nights, pay for 7. Hotels include Taj Mahal Palace and Tower (Mumbai), Taj Mahal Hotel (New Delhi), Rambagh Palace (Jaipur), Umaid Bhawan Palace (Jodhpur), and the most romantic and magical hotel in the world: the Taj Lake Palace, which appears like a brightly lit castle floating on water in Udaipur.
From the New York Times to shiny glossies and guidebooks, the media is brimming with good tips about cruisin'. I've compiled some recent newsworthy articles for your planning pleasure: Conde Nast Traveler, Reader's Poll, The World's Best Cruise Ships 2006 Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Best of Cruising" Forbes, The World's Most Expensive Cruises Travel and Leisure Hot Deals, "Cell Phones at Sea" The New York Times Travel, "Bon Voyage to the Three-Bean Salad" The New York Times Travel, "Extreme Makeover: Taking High Style to the High Seas" The New York Times Travel, "Oman Anyone? More Ships, More Ports of Call" The New York Times Travel, "Mystery at Sea: Who Polices the Ships?"
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