May 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
If Wynn's signature restaurant is identified by a first name, the chef must be pretty darn good. Indeed, Zagat describes Alex Stratta as one of the "very best chefs" in Las Vegas, having learned his cosmopolitan gastronomic savvy while working under Alain Ducasse. The luxurious four-course prix fixe menu ($120) is a hedonistic delight-- perhaps the dining experience of a lifetime. His artistic French cuisine combines the freshest seasonal ingredients and includes dishes such as foie gras ravioli in truffle bouillon with duck confit salad. The entrance is dramatic-- descending a grand, hourglass-shaped staircase to arrive in the elegant and romantic dining room, designed in a European style with inlaid wood and crystal chandeliers. Zagat raves:
the staff "goes out of its way to ensure a wonderful evening", and "perfect touches" like "the seat-side purse ottoman" for a clientele "who actually remembers to dress" guarantee a reprieve from "the shorts-and–flip-flops" "Vegas culture."
But don't bring the kiddies (children under five are banned from the premises).
Wynn Las Vegas, Five Star Alliance
Modern and stylish rooms. Home of Manila's top restaurants. Club Floor catering to every need of business travelers. Complimentary internet access in all guest rooms and suites. State-of-the-art Spa and Fitness Center-- arguably the city's best-- with gym, pool, sauna, steam room, and massage treatments. Signature Peninsula service. The only hotel in the Philippines honored in Travel and Leisure's "World's Best Business Hotel" awards. Located in the heart of the business and financial district, The Peninsula Manila is the place to stay in the city. Ideal for business travelers, the hotel is also ideal for leisure visitors to the Philippines. And a luxurious stay at the city's best hotel has never been of better value, with rates starting at $120 per night for a Superior Room. Valid until December 31, 2006.
With airfares to Europe skyrocketing, this promotion is almost too good to be true. Maxjet Airways-- all business class and low airfares too-- flies luxurious transatlantic service between London Stansted and New York and Washington. The service is sensational: gorgeous pre-departure lounges, signature gourmet meals, on-demand entertainment, and deep-recline, all-leather seats onboard. From now until June 2, you can fly the luxury airline with discounted fares of just $1,000 roundtrip. Now that's a steal.
The former Pan Pacific has morphed into the new JW Marriott San Francisco. But touches of the classic SF establishment remain: its dramatic atrium lobby (three floors with skylight ceiling), elegant guestrooms with tasteful, contemporary furnishings, and its air of romance and sophistication. Located in the heart of the city in Union Square, surrounded by upscale shopping, fine dining and art galleries, the JW Marriott boasts one of the best addresses in San Francisco. The hotel is just a hop from the Moscone Convention Center, Nob Hill, and countless SOMA museums. There's creative California cuisine and a well-equipped fitness center. For better or for worse, the JW Marriott is definitely a business-oriented, convention type hotel, with 14,000 sq ft of event space and business with state-of-the-art technology. But it's a classy and luxurious spot nonetheless.
Georgia's Sea Islands offer a beautiful and exclusive summer escape. Championship golf, incredible dining, lots of Southern hospitality, and the chance to restore your body and mind. Find the perfect hideaway at The Lodge or the completely new, and absolutely stunning, Cloister at Sea Island. The "Golf Escape Package for Two" includes two nights luxury accommodations, two rounds of golf on Seaside, Plantation or Retreat Course or one round of golf and spa treatment of your choice during your stay, an elegant five-course dinner in the Georgian Room, breakfast each morning at any dining venue, Beach Yoga or a Beach Walk each morning, and welcome gift. Valid until November 1, 2006. Starting at $1,195 for The Lodge, River or Nature View at The Cloister. ($1,395 for Ocean View at The Cloister and $1,595 for River View Suite at The Cloister.)
In a city with a superb culinary scene, Four Season's Chartwell Restaurant shines at the forefront. Recognized as one of Vancouver's finest restaurants, Chartwell has received numerous accolades including the 2006 AAA Four Diamond Award, 2006 DiRoNA Award, 2006 Vancouver Magazine, 17th Annual Restaurant Awards "Bronze - Best Hotel Dining", and 2005 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its "Outstanding Restaurant Wine List."
Four Seasons Vancouver has recently appointed Miami's Rafael Gonzalez as executive chef. He has worked in some of the country's most revered kitchens, starting off in Miami at Le Pavillon, then moving on to New York where he was mentored by David Bouley, chef of the famed four-star Bouley Bakery, Chef Eric Rupert at Le Bernardin, and Chef Jean-George Vongerichten at Jean George Restaurant. His last stint was at The Pierre, where he was Executive Sous Chef. Gonzalez is an outstanding chef, and can also handle a large kitchen; at Chartwell he will be overseeing 1,200 to 2,000 meals a day and managing four sous chefs and 33 employees.
Memorial Day is upon us, which means the start of summer and some exclusive special deals in the Caribbean. One of the region's finest luxury resorts, Sandy Lane Hotel and Golf Club, the darling of royalty and dignitaries who visit Barbados, has announced some fantastic summer offers. A classic Palladian-style building of coralstone, the spacious 112 room resort is set in a mahogany grove overlooking a crescent of white beach and the turquoise sea. Each of the rooms feature private verandahs and state-of-the-art amenities like plasma wide screen TV, DVD/CD player, and wifi. Here at Sandy Lane, the service is phenomenal, from the chauffeured luxury car that greets you at the airport to the knowledgeable concierge and staff who cater to your every whim. The Summertime promises to be a blast in Barbados, with the annual Crop Over Festival, a colorful extravaganza and celebration of Barbadian culture. Ceremonies, competitions, shows and music, from July 15 to August 7, 2006.
Special Summer Packages at Sandy Lane are a real deal: "Romance in Paradise" includes accommodation in a Luxury Ocean Room at Ocean room rate, bottle of champagne on arrival, one candlelight dinner for two, unlimited non-motorized watersports, full English Breakfast daily, one Catamaran Cruise, spa voucher of $100 per person (or one round of golf on The Country Club per person.) Rates start from $4,750 for a seven night stay. With the "Family Fun" package, three Children under 16 years in connecting room pay 50 percent of the full 7 or 10 night stay. Package includes full English Breakfast daily, unlimited use of the Treehouse Club, one family Sunday Brunch, unlimited non-motorized watersports. Parent's room rates start at $4,250 for a seven night stay in an Orchid room; Children's room rates start at $2,975 for a seven night stay in an Orchid room.
Surrounded by the finest wine-making chateaux in the world, this converted 17th century monastery is now home to a small hotel and Thierry Marx's inspired restaurant. (Of course the star chef's creative cuisine is paired with the best Bordeaux grand crus from the Medoc region.) Named "Chef of the Year" by GaultMillau, Thierry Marx is one of the finest, cutting-edge chefs of the day. A recent review in the International Herald Tribune describes his food as intensely creative, and thus "not for everyone":
Look at the titles of some of his dishes and you simply may want to run the other way. Liquid quiche Lorraine? Virtual sausage? Bean sprout risotto? Sweetbread spaghetti? Wacky, yes. But Marx is not taking food to another level of perfection or enjoyment, but to a different level. Food such as his makes us look at taste in a new way.
In my book, none of this would be any good if the food did not offer pleasure as well as amusement, shock as well as satisfaction. And it does. Most of the time.
For me, the most satisfying, surprising and enjoyable dish of some 15 little tastes was his smoked Aquitaine beef. Marx sears the filet quickly, slices it, then sets the beef on a miniature hibachi set above burning Merlot vine clippings. All of that is wrapped in clear thick plastic, tied with ribbon and paraded to the table. As the wait staff unwraps your dinner gift, light, delicate, pleasing smoky aromas waft through the room. The end result is a meat that is juicy, delicate, sweet and oh-so-gently smoked, a dish created with a stroke of genius.
Bring it on.
Fodor's recently picked the Top 10 U.S. Golf Resorts, and The Homestead ranked right up there with the best of them:
The resort's Old Course, laid out in 1892, includes the oldest tee in continuous use in the United States. Backdropped by the Alleghany Mountains, the Cascades Course is beautiful during the turning of the leaves in the fall.
Surrounded by stunning mountain views, The Homestead is one of the country's leading historic resorts, known for its luxury spa, excellent recreational facilities, and world-class golf. The Homestead offers a luxurious Summer Golf Special, starting at $249 per night, which includes accommodations, unlimited play (including cart) on the three championship courses including the William S. Flynn designed Cascades Course (ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the world by Golf Magazine in 2005), the Donald Ross designed Old Course and the Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed Lower Cascades Course, complimentary use of the driving range and range balls and a complimentary sleeve of Titleist golf balls.
The exquisite Banyan Tree Phuket recently announced the July 2006 unveiling of its new Double Pool Villas. With their 24-hour butler service and in-villa chef services, the 22 new Villas take tropical luxury to the next level. Surrounded by aromatic gardens and constructed along an azure lagoon, each Double Pool Villa features a ten-meter private infinity pool with fiber-optic lighting, a spacious and ultra-private compound (between 1,530 to 2,185 sq meters), full-length glass windows, and direct pool access from the bedroom. In one word: stunning. In addition, guests enjoy unique services and amenities: daily in-villa cooked breakfast, selection of vegetables and exotic fruits with juice mixer, daily in-villa afternoon treats and evening cocktails, 30-minute lesson on "Basic Steps of Massage," an "Intimate Moments" villa setting for a romantic evening with bottle of wine and drawn sunken bath with flower petals, and special turndown gift from Banyan Tree Gallery. Rates start from $2,000 per night. To celebrate the launch of the Double Pool Villas, guests can enjoy a complimentary second night's stay with every night booked from July 1 to September 30, 2006.