LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
January 18, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Cool shoes, hip hotel. The Camper brand doesn't just mean hipster footwear... There's a luxury boutique hotel situated in Barcelona's vibrant, arty El Raval district, within walking distance to Las Ramblas, and rumor has it that there will be a whole chain of them on the horizon. Housed in a restored historic building, Casa Camper has 25 guest rooms: simple, contemporary, and stylish. Each is painted vivid green or red, while bathrooms are gleaming white. Across the hall, you'll find your own sitting room with a flat-screen TV and hammock strung on the balcony. Perks: Snacks are on the house all day long, service is friendly and personalized, amenities include wifi and pillow menus, and there's a roof terrace with beautiful views over the rooftops.
Guess where President Bush stayed last weekend on his Middle East trip? The oil-rich outpost of the United Arab Emirates boasts the most extravagant luxury hotels in the world, like the seven-star Burj Al Arab where aquarium walls full of tropical fish line the escalators, and the world's largest fleet of Rolls-Royces is available for guests.
President Bush, arriving in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, stayed in one of the basketball-court-size "Ruler's Suites" at the Emirates Palace, which bills itself as the world's costliest hotel. At $3 billion, with 300 rooms, that comes out to $10 million a room.
In this spare-no-expenses kingdom, the opulent Emirates Palace stands out because of its brand new Anantara Spa. You'll find an enormous private treatment complex, Vichy shower suite, hammam with heated marble beds, and intricate architectural details: Moorish tile floors beneath a glowing domed ceiling. Return to your room, sauntering down the hallways shimmering with gold mosaics, and enjoy private butler service and Hermes bath amenities.
P.S. We hear the hotel's best suite is the 1,185-square-foot Khaleej Suite, overlooking the Persian Gulf.
Talk about "foie gras with a view!" Celebrity chef Alain Ducasse-- renowned for his fine dining restaurants at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Dorchester in London-- recently opened a new restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. After a four-month refurbishment, the Jules Verne restaurant showcases nifty glass windows that allow diners to gape at the view even when it's nighttime and the lights are on in the room. With 16 Michelin stars under his belt (and 20 eateries around the world), Ducasse is the very symbol of haute cuisine. His goal with the new Jules Verne? Create a "shop window for French cuisine." Lunch goes for $108 and dinner costs $223.
This summer, the Czech capital will welcome a stunning new hotel from the Rocco Forte Collection, housed in a complex of five historical buildings including St Thomas's Monastery which dates from the 1400s. Smack dab in the heart of Prague, just a stone's throw from the glorious Prague Castle, the 101-room property will be designed by Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte's sister, who has added impressive design touches to the other Collection hotels. Expect contemporary amenities in a picturesque setting of courtyards and tranquil garden squares. In fact, the practicing Benedictine monks will continue to meditate in certain areas on site! Of course key historic features-- cloistered terraces, beamed ceilings, stone arches, and wine vaults-- will be celebrated in the hotel design. The Augustine's Tower Suites will boast incredible panoramic views across the Prague rooftops.
Washingtonians, take heed. A blissful spa weekend is just a pleasant drive away- in the quaint Victorian town of St. Michaels on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Inn at Perry Cabin is an idyllic hideaway, with a stunning spa which opened last summer to much acclaim. With signature treatments like the Linden Ritual and the Five Flower Solace, which incorporate local medicinal plants, the Linden Spa has proved itself worthy of all the buzz. Book the "Suite Dreams" package and get your second night at 50 percent off! Plus, you'll get a bottle of wine on arrival, and two tickets to the famed Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Starting from $495 (for the first night).
Bracing for a blizzard? Why not high-tail it south of the border to check out the brand new Mandarin Oriental on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula? Take advantage of a special opening offer and get a free fourth night when you pay for three! This is peak season in the tropics, but with this special, you'll be saving about 25 percent off Internet rates. Lounge on the beach, relax in the 25,000 square foot spa, bar-hop in the buzzing beachfront town of Playa del Carmen just 10 minutes away. This special is available until April 30, 2008, with black-out dates on February 14-17 and March 20-24.
If you missed November's big event at Cambridge Beaches, here's your chance to experience the popular Girlfriend Getaway with Mariel Hemingway! The actress/author will be returning to Bermuda's exclusive resort for an unforgettable weekend devoted to healthy living on March 27-30, 2008. Expect beachside yoga classes, personal Q & A sessions, delicious meals prepared by the renowned culinary team, spa treatments and more. Only 36 guests will be allowed to attend, so register today!
There are some big parties going on in Hong Kong: Chinese New Year is in a few weeks (welcome the Year of the Rat!) and The Peninsula Hotel celebrates its 80th anniversary year! On December 11, 1928, a legend of Asian hospitality was born. The idea was to create "the finest hotel east of Suez" and The Peninsula's guests were dazzled. ...And continue to be, when riding around in the hotel's exclusive Rolls-Royce Phantoms, or when getting pampered at The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. Welcome 2008 in style and celebrate The Peninsula's 80th anniversary with some exciting amenities: the return of traditional afternoon tea dances on the first Sunday of each month from March to December, a new Culinary Journey dining odyssey around the hotel, a harbor cruise aboard one of the historical Star Ferries, the "Shining Star." Choose the "Celebrate 80 Exceptional Years" package and you'll get two nights luxurious accommodations, daily traditional breakfast for two in The Lobby, round-trip Rolls-Royce airport transfers, a Culinary Journey for two or a Gaddi's Classics lunch or dinner for two, one HK $300 Peninsula Spa gift certificate per person, and one exclusive 80th anniversary gift per person. Rates starting at HK $6,680 in a Grand Deluxe Kowloon View room.
Escape the winter chill and get a 5th night free at Casa de Campo, the Dominican winter playground that boasts just about every single recreational activity on the planet. Tennis? The luxurious La Terraza Tennis Center awaits you-- with its 13 har-tru courts overlooking the resort and sea. Polo and horseback riding? You bettcha. Golf? Only some of the most celebrated, Peter-Dye-designed greens in the world. The spa offers a slew of rejuvenating services including exfoliating clay baths. Plus there's a dual-level pool with cascades and a swim-up bar, plenty of water sports from the beach, and an extensive children's program. Enjoy all this, while soaking up the Caribbean elegance and abundant natural beauty of the resort. Did we mention that it's all-inclusive?
January 15, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Snow-capped peaks loom over olive groves and the crashing surf at the seaside eco-marine town of Kaikoura. Sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, halfway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island... Welcome to one of the most spectacular settings on earth. In this majestic spot, a family of designers and architects has created an eco-friendly luxury lodge unlike any place on earth. Hapuku Lodge is a treetrop retreat with solar-heated showers, spacious bathrooms, handcrafted furniture, multiple dining rooms, and even meeting venues. But the best part of all is the gasp-inducing 360 degree views from the hotel's perch 30 feet off the ground in the trees. To quote Outside Magazine, "'I joke with guests that over breakfast you can decide whether you want to go surfing or skiing,' says H. Justin Stafford-Wilson, whose father opened the lodge in 2002."