March 4, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We've seen our fair share of creative afternoon teas (eye's on you, Sanderson Hotel, with your Alice in Wonderland-inspired Mad Hatter’s tea!) But this one might just take the cake. Podium Restaurant at the London Hilton on Park Lane has announced a limited edition Afternoon Tea inspired by Kate Middleton's sapphire engagement ring. As featured on ABC News, the Tea is a celebration of the cool blue of this precious gemstone with color accents galore: white chocolate cupcakes with 'bouquet' icing and blueberry jam cupcakes with 'K' and 'W' iced decorations... That's not all. When you arrive for tea, you'll be treated to a complimentary "Loveberry" cocktail-- mixed with fresh raspberries, strawberries, blue curaçao, lime and soda water over crushed ice-- followed by tasty sandwiches (egg & cress, Foreman’s smoked salmon & horseradish...) and warm scones with clotted cream. Then all manner of miniature fancies. Available from April 26 to May 1, 2011 inclusive, priced at £32/person (£40 with a glass of Champagne) from 2-6pm daily.
PS. Podium has been honored as one of the newest members of The Tea Guild. Founded in 1985, The Tea Guild recognises establishments that serve tea to a high standard.
March 3, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The hospitality industry's got the Royal Wedding on the brain. On both sides of the pond there are special packages galore for royal watchers to mark the occasion. But Langham Hotels has gone one step further. The hotel company recently announced a competition encouraging couples to submit the "most romantic proposal" for a chance to win a trip around the world, using one million Asia Miles and staying in the lap of Langham luxury on four different continents. (The trip is worth $40,000.) Just upload a videoblog detailing your marriage proposal, or a video of the actual event, and link it to Facebook or Chinese social media site Kaixin by April 29, 2011. In May, Langham Hotels will pick 10 finalists, who will then be asked to share how they'll spend their time at the eight Langham locations worldwide. For more info, visit: romantic.langhamhotels.com.
Details on the prize: One million frequent flyer miles, two-night stays in each of the eight Langham properties (located in London, Hong Kong (pictured), Boston, Pasadena, Auckland, Melbourne and two hotels in Shanghai, The Langham Yangtze Boutique and The Langham Xintiandi Shanghai), airport transfers, and an afternoon tea experience.
February 10, 2011
By: Daniel L. Moses
There are two things I value above all else: Luxury and Romance. Finding each individually is hard enough, but finding them together is nearly impossible. So I did what most people do when they are looking for something. I googled it. I entered simply, “Romantic Luxury Getaways”, and let the computer do the work for me. And I implore you to do the same. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here until you return. Don’t worry, it won’t spoil the ending…
Back yet? Okay, what did we both find? First, it was some of the great hotels of the world. And amongst them, of course, the city that appeared again and again: Paris, France. Not Paris, Texas, nor Paris, Arkansas, both of which I’ve visited and can say are truly unromantic. Paris, France, on the other hand, is, cliché or not, simply the most romantic city in the world. Luckily for us, it also offers some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
Before I get into that, and therefore before I list which of Paris’ finest are my favorites, I want to tell you why Paris is romantic. You may now be grumbling about your last visit, or maybe your last 5 visits, and how you know very well what is and is not true about la belle ville. I’ve been several times myself in the last few years, and in fact lived two years in Paris on the Left Bank in my marauding early-20s. And yes, while I have the advantage of ordering a Domaine Romanée-Conti in heavily accented French, I’ve learned that in Paris anyone can find romance.
Where? I found it on the terrace of a café in an alley at a hole-in-the-wall Moroccan restaurant that no longer exists. The place was run down, the couscous overcooked, and yet when I raised a glass of Burgundy and toasted with the sweet, brown-eyed girl underneath a canopy of stars illuminating the French summer night, I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. Months later, a ring tucked deep in my pocket, I strolled down to the banks of the Seine, heard the muted stir of the river below, and found myself on one knee asking her to be with me forever. We returned for our honeymoon, and several trips thereafter, and Paris never let us down. The gray hair on my temples has never kept the romance at bay, and I still raise a toast with the brown-eyed girl on the other side of the table.
Now, though, when I go to the world’s most romantic city, I stay at the world’s most luxurious hotels. And why not? Luxury and romance go hand in hand, just as my hand goes with hers each and every morning when I wake up, and just as our lips come together each evening to say goodnight.
So make romance yours at L’Hotel de Crillon. This hotel is not for the overnight traveler. In fact, the pre-revolutionary construction is in classic Louis XV style, and will tantalize patrons with a stunning location only steps from Les Champs-Elysees, and make a stay of any length too short.
If you’re looking for a taste of the Belle Époque, seek out the Ritz Paris. Erected in 1898, the Ritz underwent a stunning renovation in 2010, and is known for its famous guests, more recently (Elton John) and a few years ago (Marcel Proust).
Finally, if you prefer views of the Eiffel tower from your flower-filled balcony, charm your loved one with a stay at the Hotel Plaza Athenee. Luxury is a given, romance an absolute, and with four restaurants on site overseen by the eminent Alain Ducasse, you’ll have the best of Parisian dining just steps away.
One final note: If you’re thinking of buying her that ring, or perhaps telling him that you love him all the more after all these years, don’t wait! Seize the moment! Paris may endure and always be waiting, but perhaps he or she won’t. Bon voyage!
By: Daniel L. Moses
January 20, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The report from London is that the Goring Hotel in Belgravia will host some very important guests for the April 29 royal wedding. Not only is the deluxe hotel a quintessentially English haven, it's also ideally located next to Buckingham Palace-- where the reception will be held after Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot at Westminster Abbey. Apparently the bride herself will stay on the premises the night before the big day. The Daily Mail has the scoop:
If Kate also stays there, it would be in tune with her wish to ensure her wedding is not overblown with pomp and pageantry — she has, remember, declined a horse-drawn carriage ride to the Abbey, choosing instead to go by car. Determined to avoid comparisons with Princess Diana, who did go by coach, Kate would avoid another by staying in a hotel. Lady Diana Spencer spent her wedding night at Clarence House, now the home of Prince Charles. Kate is unlikely to want to do the same.
Of London hotels, the family-run Goring is a fine choice. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the hotel is known for its high levels of personal service. The Guardian says, "It is a place of graces, comforts, old-fashioned good manners and a total lack of snoot." And Harper's Bazaar describes how, at the Goring, "service is paramount and unparalleled in the British Isles."
January 13, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton are scouting out honeymoon destinations, and Lake Okareka Lodge by lebua-- located in Rotorua, New Zealand-- should be at the top of their list. After all, this exclusive, ultra-luxe lodge was recently named as one of the world's top 10 honeymoon destinations by HotelsCombined.com.
In fact, Lake Okareka Lodge manager Diana Moore wrote the Prime Minister John Key urging him to invite the royal couple to New Zealand for their honeymoon. "We suggested to Mr. Key that a New Zealand honeymoon would be the perfect wedding gift from the people of New Zealand and at the same time it would generate priceless worldwide publicity for New Zealand as a visitor destination." The honeymooning couple would experience breathtaking scenery, world class culinary experiences, and the seclusion and privacy of this unique and unspoiled environment.
Many guests book out the entire lodge for exclusive use, as it comprises just three large suites, one on each level. Lake Okareka Lodge rates start at around NZ$2500 per couple per night in a suite and rise to around $8,000 per night for exclusive-use of the entire lodge with accommodation in the award winning Lake Okareka Suite-- with gourmet dining, beverages and 24-hour butler service included.
The lodge boasts its own helipad, floatplane jetty, outdoor spa, private beach, massage room and fitness studio. Honeymooning couples find it a magic, romantic hideaway for a few days of guilt-free pampering.
January 3, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Dreamed of tying the knot on a sandy stretch of beach in paradise? Think Bali, where the St. Regis Resort offers a slew of bespoke wedding possibilities-- from custom catering and personalized flower arrangements to the services of a personal St. Regis Specialist and all the ingredients for a perfect, pampering honeymoon (like his and her treatments at the swank Remède Spa). The address is unbeatable: swim through azure lagoons and stroll barefoot in the sand surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The resort's Cloud Nine Chapel has awesome panoramic ocean views from its postcard-perfect location on the beach. Beyond the chapel’s pond, a wood-terraced reception area on the beach is the ideal spot for pre-dinner canapés and cocktails.