December 7, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Keep winter blues at bay with a Vegas getaway and get luxury for less at The Venetian. In the center of the action on The Strip, the resort's got plenty of wow factors: authentic gondola rides on the Grand Canal, the Guggenheim Museum, excellent live entertainment, top-quality restaurants, and the Canyon Ranch Spa... Talk about the ultimate winter playground. Skip the holiday frenzy and luxuriate in style at The Venetian, where you can unwind in one of the newly remodeled Luxury Suites for a mere $149 per night with their exclusive holiday rate. Available until January 3, 2008. (Weekend rates are slightly more at $199 per night.)
East Coasters, grab your skis and snowboards. Snow is falling in the Laurel Highlands and winter weather is in the forecast. Mystic Mountain-- 25 acres of fun, short lines, friendly trails and experienced instructors-- will be open to welcome skiers of all levels on Saturday, December 8, 2007. This is Western Pennsylvania's ideal learning environment for first-timers, but there is also plenty of terrain for the pros. There are 10 slopes, ranging from beginner to expert, with a 300 foot vertical drop, three lifts-- 100 percent illuminated for night skiing. Easily accessible and incredibly popular during its 20 year history, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is your indoor and outdoor winter destination. With winter weather on the horizon, you'll find all sorts of activities at the resort: dog sledding, surrey rides, snow-tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. But if snowsports aren't your thing, head inside and indulge in some special holiday treatments at the world-class Woodlands Spa or fine dining with French flair at the AAA Five-Diamond Lautrec restaurant.
What could be better than bringing in the New Year in one of the world's hottest cities? Watch the fireworks from the best spot in town: the luxurious Grand Hotel La Florida, perched high on Mount Tibidabo just 25 minutes from the city center. From the roof, the views are absolutely spectacular-- mountains, sea, and city stretched out before your eyes. Book a New Year's Eve Getaway and enjoy music, festive colors, sparkling champagne, and those priceless views. Priced at EUR 1,390 (in a Deluxe Room), the getaway includes two nights of luxury, buffet breakfast served daily in the restaurant, a welcome Christmas amenity, the spectacular New Year's Eve gala dinner, and free Wireless Internet, shuttle service to the city center, and access to the ZenZone Spa (read: hammam, sauna, caldarium, and fitness center). Valid on December 30 and 31, 2007.
It's a most wonderful time of the year in Lake Placid, ranked one of the best ski experiences in North America by Condé Nast Traveler. The Whiteface Lodge, offering the rustic sophistication of the Adirondack Great Camps, is decked out for the holidays. From piano entertainment in the lounge to gourmet holiday dinners at Steak & Stinger, The Whiteface Lodge is brimming with festive good cheer. Indeed the hotel has even devised a special Couple's Spa Package to ease the yuletide stress. There's been lots of buzz about the luxurious new spa, selected as one of the elite Leading Spas of the World, and the two-night stay with daily breakfast and one couple's massage ($1,100 per couple) offers the perfect pre-holiday escape. There's an array of seasonal activities just outside the front door. The Lodge has its very own ice-skating rink; a year-round heated swimming pool; and nearby cross-country trails. Whiteface Mountain opened November 23, 2007 with excellent conditions for downhill skiers, and pre-season lift ticket rates are in effect through December 15th.
You can't get more festive than this. As befits one of the world's best hotels, The Peninsula Chicago is going all out for the holiday season. Expect decadent multi-course meals, festive décor, Fashion Afternoon Teas, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a magical New Year's Eve celebration. On Christmas Eve, dine to the music of a Viennese Quartet in The Lobby or enjoy a five-course dinner at AAA-Five-Diamond rated Avenues, prepared by Chef de Cuisine Graham Elliot Bowles. Christmas Day promises to be nothing short of spectacular. The kids will be delighted by a visit from Santa, entertainment by a magician, and other fun activities in the Pen Kids Holiday Activity Room. During the day (10:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.), The Lobby will host a delicious buffet accompanied by live music. The five-course Christmas Dinner, featuring seasonal cuisine, will knock your socks off. But the fun doesn't stop there. The festivities continue through New Year's, with a Black Tie Gala including a champagne reception, exquisite dinner menu, music from Eric Remschneider and The Peninsula Big Band, and-- after the Scottish pipers ring in 2008-- dancing til all hours.
A recent article in the Washington Post describes the "destination fatigue-- been there, done that, paid a big bill"-- that affects a growing number of high-end travelers. When you've vacationed in Patagonia, the BVI, and the Greek Islands, and cruised the Nile and Yangtze rivers, what's next? The answer is remote, off-the-map destinations that once only appealed to backpackers. The newest hotspots are places like Bhutan, where Amanresorts has opened a string of luxury lodges that allow travelers to discover this incredible Himalayan kingdom without having to rough it. We'd count China's Yunnan province on the list, as well as luxury safaris in Africa, and hotels in northern India. What's your next luxury travel destination?
We just can't stop talking about the newly-renovated Tides South Beach. And now we just have to spread the word about a special opening promotion at this glamorous Ocean Drive hotspot. In tribute to the high-design, art deco era that created this South Beach landmark, the hotel is offering guests the rate in 1936 when the property first debuted. Book four nights and get the fourth night for $1.50, a cost for a room at The Tides in 1936! But hurry, the "Encore of an Icon" rates will surely sell out fast. Available for stays until January 31, 2008. Sunday- Thursday nights only.
Shangri-La is bringing a whole new level of luxury to this city in northern Thailand. Opening this month (December 2007), Shangri-La Chiang Mai takes its inspiration from the beautiful surrounding landscape. Just 10 minutes from the international airport and within walking distance to the city's cultural sites and famous Night Bazaar, the deluxe city resort incorporates local materials and artifacts (teak, rich fabrics) into its contemporary design. Take a dip in the free-form swimming pool, framed by frangipani, bamboo, ginger and lotus ponds. Indulge in the luxury of the spacious CHI spa. Relax in your cozy bedroom which features numerous special touches: celadon tea sets, Thai silk pillows and bedrunners, local artwork, and daybeds in the Premier rooms. And of course, a stay at the Shangri-La Chiang Mai means soaking up the personalized service and hospitality for which Shangri-La is internationally-renowned. Take advantage of the pre-opening rate of just $270 per night and enjoy complimentary buffet breakfast at Kad Kafe. Available for bookings from December 22, 2007- February 29, 2008.
Jumeirah already has an undeniably impressive collection of properties (including the award-winning Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab, celebrated as the world's most luxurious hotel) and the Jumeirah group has embarked on an ambitious expansion drive to include key resorts in cities the world over (London, New York, Shanghai, Doha...) But perhaps the most exciting news of all for Jumeirah fans: It's now possible to order those sumptuous Burj Al Arab bathrobes and bedding from the Jumeirah Collection, a dedicated retail Web site. The newly-launched online store features exclusive products and innovative services. And for those who like to travel light, take advantage of the "Pre-Arrival Service" and order essential vacation items online prior to staying with Jumeirah. When you arrive, you'll find all the goodies already in your room. And get this: Before the end of the year, you'll be able to order the luxurious new Burj Al Arab Dux Bed from the Web site, at the same time it debuts in the hotel.
This summer, a trendy new restaurant opened its doors in a wing of the Grand Palais. And it's branded MINI-- as in, like, um, the car. Sprawling under the arcade's columns, the restaurant is all about paradox, starting with the name. During the weekends, a DJ spins trendy tracks which vibrate through the classic colonnade. "Mini palais, maxi chic," the restaurant features innovative small plates and lighter fare from star chef Gilles Choukroun (of Michelin-starred Angl'Opera Restaurant). Inside, you'll find Baccarat light fixtures and a cool, loungy vibe. AdAge explains that the MINI branding is subtle: the neon sign in the lobby, the MINI logo on the menu and on the black t-shirts worn by staff, and a couple of Union Jacks emblazoned behind the bar.