July 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The city's only boutique hotel on the beach, The Water Club was named "one of the coolest hotels in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler. The rooftop bar, Wet, offers cocktails and sushi under the stars, while the rooftop sundeck, pool and Jacuzzi likewise boast breathtaking ocean views. The enormous suites feature large telescopes to appreciate the panoramic vistas. This is a San Juan hot spot, with its bar, Liquid, a happening and loud party mecca, so non-party peeps should steer clear.
Right now The Water Club is offering an unbelievable Summer Package, starting at just $89 per person.The Sizzling Summer Package includes welcome Melon Lips Martini for two, complimentary breakfast for two at Tangerine, one night of VIP list privileges at a local night club, and a complimentary gift upon arrival.
Chicago Tribune, Old San Juan
Named "Best Steakhouse" by Boston Magazine, the Oak Room is also beloved by Zagat, which notes that diners "indulge in the finer things' – like 'killer Châteaubriand' and 'real martinis', 'high ceilings' and swathes of 'brocade' – at this 'grande dame' " of American restaurants. This is old Boston at its finest: an elegant antique setting with dark wood paneling, mirrored walls, intricate white plasterwork, and Waterford crystal chandeliers. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant dishes up award-winning cuisine, while the adjacent Oak Bar offers a slew of specialty martinis and one of Boston's best raw bars. Reservations are strongly recommended. After enjoying a superb meal, check out the elegant Fairmont Copley Plaza, which recently completed a stunning renovation of its 383 guestrooms and suites.
Tennessee's most treasured landmark is also a 2005 AAA five diamond award recipient and listed in Robb Report's Best of the Best. The historic Hermitage Hotel, newly emerged from an 11 month, $19 million renovation, stands as the city's finest hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Hermitage is known for its impeccable service and elegant grandeur. The lobby is an opulent delight--stained glass ceiling, marble columns and staircases, and Russian walnut paneling--as are the guestrooms. The roster of famous guests has delighted in this luxurious hotel since its opening in 1910.
This summer, a fabulous Music City Weekend awaits at The Hermitage. The weekend package includes luxurious accommodations, breakfast in bed, overnight valet parking, $20 gift card to iTunes, and a chance to win a new iPod Nano from Apple. Rates from $289 per night. The Hermitage is also offering a weekday Summer in the City package: reservations from Sunday-Thursday are just $209 and include an All-American breakfast for one and value parking. All guests receive complimentary wireless internet, fitness center use, morning coffee, afternoon sparkling cider and cookies, and daily newspaper.
Utell has just announced a fantastic promotion, with rates up to 50 percent off the normal rack rates at many of their luxury hotels worldwide. Participating hotels include the Hotel Majestic Barcelona, the elegant neoclassical landmark on Paseo de Gracia in the heart of the city, Le Soleil Hotel and Suites, the award-winning boutique gem in Vancouver, the Inn at Lost Creek, Telluride's romantic and charming inn named one of the best hotels in the world by leading travel magazines, and Grand Hotel Villa San Mauro, with panoramic views overlooking Caltagirone, Sicily. When making a booking, choose "Great Rate" or "Utell Luxury Hotel Promotion."
Jean Paul Gaultier had the right idea. He camped out in the Victor Hugo Suite at Le Pavillon de la Reine for a year when his house was renovated. Indeed, you couldn't ask for a better residence in the City of Light. The historic boutique hotel is brimming with 17th century details: elegant tapestries, beautiful antiques, and enormous wood beams grace the ceilings of the guest rooms.
In a city steeped in history, the Marais district stands out for its fashionable pre-Revolution townhouses, tiny alleys lined with exquisite boutiques and restaurants, and lively nightlife. And within this marvelous neighborhood, the Pavillon de la Reine has the remarkable location directly on the Place des Vosges, the oldest public square of its kind in Paris. Inaugurated as place Royale in 1612, Henry IV built the square to celebrate the wedding between his son, Louis XIII, and Ann of Austria. The area was thus transformed into the most fashionable and luxurious area of Paris. The Place des Vosges is comprised of 36 symmetrical houses with pink brick and slate roofs, surrounding a large and charming square.
The Pavillon de la Reine is an oasis within this bustling activity-- tucked away in a flowering courtyard, just minutes from the Bastille Opera House and the Picasso Museum. Each of the 56 rooms and suites-- from the modern duplex suite to the historical deluxe rooms-- is uniquely decorated and full of character. Historical details are balanced by a full array of modern amenities (like flat screen TVs), thus creating a unique fusion of modern and ancient styles. The hotel is privately owned by a French family, and the ambience takes on the feel of an intimate, private residence: pour yourself a drink at the honesty bar, eat breakfast in the atmospheric vaulted cellar, and enjoy a wood fire burning in the large fireplace in the winter. Of course this pied-a-terre offers all the comforts of a grand hotel, complimented by thoughtful, discreet service. And the hotel's guests gush their praises: La Pavillon de la Reine was awarded the 2005 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice award, a real testament to the quality and sophistication of the hotel.
It took eleven years, and EUR 232 million, but at the June 20 inauguration of the new Musée du Quai Branly, the world's gaze settled on the hottest new museum in Paris. After all, the Musée du Quai Branly represents the crowning cultural achievement of Chirac's reign, who has sought to create a space honoring "the world's forgotten civilizations." Jean Nouvel's architectural masterpiece now houses the 270,000 items from the African, Oceanic and Asian artworks from the Musée de l'Homme and the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens (only 3,500 are on display.)
The building itself is extraordinary: a piece of contemporary art beneath the Eiffel Tower, situated on 19 acres of green, sprawling along the Seine. It is disjointed: a colorful mass of metal, with curved glass walls and no sense of symmetry. It is distinctly modern. Standing within the gardens, or in the ticket line beneath the building's metal overhang, you catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, which seems to rise directly from the museum itself.
And though the lines of tourists assemble outside the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in the summertime, the Musée du Quai Branly is a breeze. Upon entrance, visitors follow a long white ramp where a kaleidoscope of images is projected. Once you enter the Collections area, the light is dim, and the museum experience is an interactive one. You walk through a corridor lined with soft walls that are meant to be touched, called La Riviere, where indigenous stories and folklore are narrated for handicapped visitors. The museum is meant to be a place of ongoing exploration of anthropology and non-Western civilizations.
Hours: 10 am-6:30 pm, closed on Mondays. Tickets are EUR 8.50.
New York Times, For a New Paris Museum, Jean Nouvel Creates His Own Rules
After an impressive six-year renovation, and a $36 million investment, the Musee de l'Orangerie has reopened at long last. Monet's series of waterlilies are perhaps the most monumental work of his lifetime: the artist spent 30 years captivated by the light on the waterlily pond at his home in Giverny, and managed to capture this mysterious light, and the changing seasons, in his large Abstract canvases that wrap around the walls of the museum. These eight paintings are enormous: over six feet high and one is over 50 feet long. The artist donated them to France, and they were hung at l'Orangerie in 1927, a year after his death. In the 1960's, the government attempted a renovation of the museum that holds the paintings, which failed miserably, and so for years, the nymphéas (as they are called) sat forgotten and neglected.
No longer. The museum re-opened in mid-May, and presents the paintings as Monet initially intended them to be viewed. Natural light floods through the ceiling; the white walls curve and bend to accommodate the canvases. The architecture is as stunning as the paintings. The water lilies are housed on the ground floor, while the downstairs showcases the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, including a corridor of Renoir, Matisse, Derain, and Modigliani.
Tickets are EUR 6.50, and individuals are only allowed in the museum from 12:30-7 pm, as groups tour the museum in the mornings. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. A warning: the lines assembled outside can snake around the building. Reserve your tickets ahead, and you'll skip the wait entirely. Though there are worse things than standing in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries.
Now is the time to go to Paris. The French team has made it to the finals of the World Cup (Allez Les Bleus!), the Tour de France has commenced, and Les Soldes--the annual summertime sales-- mean incredible bargains at the world's most beautiful boutiques (often over 50 percent off). After a few days in the City of Light-- wandering the alleys in the Marais, checking out the newest museums, soaking up the sun outside the Louvre and Notre Dame, shopping the Soldes-- I've picked up a few tips which I want to share with our readers on The Informed Traveler. Today is devoted to Paris.
July 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Voted to the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List of the World's Best Places to Stay, Banyan Tree Bangkok is located in the heart of the bustling commercial center of the city. With easy access to the shopping and entertainment access of Silom road, the all-suite Banyan Tree Bangkok is a rejuvenating sanctuary away from it all. Dining is a treat, both for the tasty gourmet meals and the superb views over the city. These fine dining establishments are the highest in the city (Vertigo Grill is on the 61st flooor!) The Spa--a heavenly oasis with the service and quality of treatments to be expected at Banyan Tree--is likewise situated high above the city: a whopping 54 floors above Bangkok. For the ultimate luxury, reserve the Presidential Suite (the preferred choice of presidents and business leaders), which consists of a two-storey glass dome with spectacular city views, and a loft style bedroom. The Spa Suites are similarly lavish, with their own private treatment rooms, and your choice of bath salts, scrubs, essential oils, and incense.
Splurge on a romantic getaway to Bangkok: immerse the senses with the incredible cultural stimuli of the city, and then retreat to your private urban oasis at the Banyan Tree where you can indulge in sumptuous spa treatments. The Romance in Bangkok Package includes: daily continental breakfast for two persons, one romantic dinner per stay at Bai Yun or Saffron restaurant, choice of one 2-hour 'Rejuvenation' or 'Renewal' spa treatment per person per stay, one 'Intimate Moments' suite decoration including one bottle of wine per stay, Banyan Tree Gallery gift, 10 percent discount at Bai Yun, Saffron and Rom Sai restaurant, and return transfer by Mercedes Benz limousine from the airport to the hotel. Starting at $305 per night. Valid until December 31, 2006. Minimum three night stay.
July 6, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board Last week, the Conrad Chicago continued their renovations and updates with new linens in the guest rooms (500 thread count Pratesi linens) and plush Pratesi towels and bathrobes. They have also rolled out the complimentary high speed wireless internet throughout the entire hotel, comp shoe shine services and evening turndown service with comp bottled water. Other ongoing renovations include 42' flat screen HD plasma tvs and Bose home theater systems. 4 floors within the Conrad's building have been completed and the 5th floor of guest rooms should be done by the end of July - but all rooms should be upgraded with these new amenities by mid October of 2006.Just past the fifth-floor lobby of downtown Chicago's Conrad Hotel is an alfresco escape -- The Terrace at Conrad (see image). It is a great place to unwind in a chic outdoor setting with fantastic cityscape views. This alfresco dining destination just recently opened at the end of May. Best of all, on Sunday and Monday nights you can enjoy movie night on the Terrace! The July movie line up includes: 6/2 – Guess who is coming to dinner 6/3 – Guy’s and Dolls 6/9 – Citizen Cane 6/10 – Star Wars 6/16 – Dr. Strangelove 6/17 – Rear Window 6/23 – Annie Hall 6/24 – All About Eve 6/30 – On the Water Front 6/31 – Ben Hur (but remember - movies may be subject to change so check with them first) And don't forget about the Special Offer from Five Star Alliance for the Conrad Chicago: Guests making their reservations through Five Star Alliance will receive a welcome amenity, continental breakfast for two (2) daily, and a possible upgrade upon check-in based upon availability.