May 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
You're about to head out on a trip to Budapest or Timbuktu and you're thinking of starting a blog. Maybe you just want a space to showcase the gazillions of photos you will take (you're a little snap-happy with the new digital). Or maybe you tend to wax poetic about monuments and museums. Or maybe you just want a cool mapping feature to illustrate your travels. Or maybe you want to glean some advice from the locals about trendy hotspots. TravBuddy is the place to do it. TravBuddy is a travel-networking community that allows you to write travel blogs and review destinations all over the world. The Google mapping features are rad. They offer unlimited photo hosting. And it's super easy to post comments and/or connect with other travelers. And TravBuddy is also useful right from your own backyard-- whether you're an enthusiastic armchair traveler or want to share local tidbits about restaurants or shops in your hometown. Check it out.
We go gaga over all things Philippe Starck. Hong Kong's sexy boutique, Jia, LA's Mondrian (oozing all of that Cali style), Miami's hotspot The Delano, and BA's extraordinary Faena Hotel and Universe. The award-winning celebrity designer has knocked our socks off with pretty much every one of his creations. And now the rumor on the street is that the master has been chosen by SBE Hotel Group to create a signature look for an unnamed luxury boutique brand scheduled to debut in 2008. The deets? Apparently, Starck signed a 15 year, exclusive contract, which will open its first hotel in SoCal, where the Beverly Hills Le Meridien is now. Other hotels in NY, Miami and the Carib will follow-- mostly all conversions. The contract also stipulates the design of nine restaurants and lounges, the first of which will open in Brentwood in May. Bring it on! (This is the father of the whole boutique category we're talking about!)
Dubai is hopping this week with the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the enormous travel and tourism exhibition held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. With the tourism industry booming in the Arabian Gulf these days, the ATM is an important event for the hospitality industry, with oodles of exhibitors announcing new projects, hotels, and airlines. Dubai-based Elite Jets debuts today at the ATM, showcasing its luxury jet travel for VIP clients expecting the ultimate in convenience, luxury, and privacy. Established at the Dubai Airport Free Zone, Elite Jets has been around since November 2004, providing charter services for corporate and leisure travelers in the Middle East. (Its founding partners are National Airways Corporation and JML Investment Group.) The fleet consists of Raytheon Hawker 1000 aircraft, which have spacious, well-equipped cabins that can accommodate 9 passengers. In July, the portfolio will be expanded with the brand new Raytheon Hawker 850XP, which boast the largest cabins for midsize jets. It seems Elite Jets fills an important niche by providing the luxury travel option for reaching the world's fastest growing luxury destination.
There's been quite a hullabaloo over Mobil's recently announced 2006 award winners. The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York made the cut and graduated to elite five star status, its "wow factor" described by the experts:
This sleek hotel marries Asian sensibilities with New York panache, and its 14,500-square-foot spa is the piece-de-la-resistance. Bamboo and natural stone are used throughout, creating a temple of serenity in this most frenetic of world capitals. Chinese, Ayurvedic, Balinese, and Thai healing therapies are the highlight of a visit to this facility, where guests are encouraged to book blocks of time, known as Time Rituals, for a comprehensive relaxation experience.
It joins the likes of the Spa Montage at the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, Cali-- the nation's only other Mobil Five-Star Spa. The full list of 2006 award-winners is here. Any dynamite spas that you noticed didn't make the cut?
How's this for a perfect day. A leisurely lunch savored in the sunshine gazing up at the immense ruins of a 9th century church carved from sheer limestone walls. A stroll through winding cobble-stoned streets with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. A tour through a local wine-grower's chateau, its wine cave built deep into the hill's rock cliffs. A late afternoon glass of pink sparkling wine, accompanied with almond flavored macaroons, in the ruins of an ancient monastery. As the afternoon light fades orange against the city's ramparts and Roman stone archways, you can't help but think… This is the life.
Welcome to Saint-Emilion, 30 minutes from Bordeaux in the midst of the world's most famous wine-growing region. The town is steeped in history-- its name derived from the Benedictine monk hermit who resided in a cave here between 750 and 767-- and the luxurious traditions of art de vivre. The vineyards and township of St. Emilion are UNESCO-heritage protected sites because they've endured-- virtually untouched-- since the Roman poets extolled the virtues of the rich wines.
In such an extraordinary setting, the Grand Barrail Chateau Resort and Spa is the gem to choose for its unrivaled accommodations. Just outside the township of Saint-Emilion, the castle's towers and turrets emerge in splendor from the rolling hills of meticulously planted vines. Even the basic accommodations (Superior) are comfortable, spacious, and tastefully appointed. But the suites are extraordinary, with lavish bathrooms, light-filled rooms, and sweeping views over the lawn and countryside; one even boasts an enormous stone balcony and terrace that comprises most of the castle's second floor.
The new full-service Spa features hammam, Scottish bath, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and a tantalizing menu of treatments with Ligne St Barth cosmetics. For example: the St. Barth Softness is a nourishing body peeling massage with coconut oil, fresh papaya and an extra-fine sea sand polish complex. (The sand is imported from the Caribbean island, and the Ligne St Barth cosmetics are enhanced with additional fresh fruit.)
Dining is a gastronomic experience, with plates as beautifully presented as the cuisine is rich and delicious. The chef's got quite a few awards under his belt. Compared to your nightly feast, breakfast isn't half bad. It's served in an elegant breakfast room filled with light through stained glass windows; dainty crossaints are served hot from the oven, accompanied with fine fruit jams and other delights from a generous buffet display.
Here in Saint-Emilion at the Grand Barrail Chateau, it's easy to see how the French have mastered the joie de vivre.
So maybe Dubai's got an indoor ski resort, the world's only seven-star hotel, and the MotorCity Autodrome. But Abu Dhabi's getting a Ferrari Amusement Park! (So there.) The UAE's oft-neglected capital city (in favor of the trendy, prosperous tourism mecca of Dubai) is also enjoying fast growth and fashionable revitalization. The Gulf-facing capital sports the super-swanky Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi, which seems to emanate grandeur (and sheer size-- with its enormous ballroom, endless array of dining options, large health club and spacious guest rooms), and the city's other Le Meridien has just announced its massive AED 20 million renovation, adding luxurious guest rooms and remodeling the spa. The capital city's got its fair share of luxurious shopping malls, golf courses, tennis, and watersports on the Gulf. And of course there's the Ferrari amusement park. Starting in 2008, you can test-drive those $500,000 babies around the racetrack. I'm so there.
May 1, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May and Karen Goldberg, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hotel Plaza Athenee New York
The Hotel Plaza Athenee is a small, charming European boutique-style hotel located on 64th Street at Madison Avenue. In 2006, Conde Nast Traveler featured the Hotel Plaza Athenee as “One of the Top Hotels in the World” on the Gold List. For those looking for a 'discreet location' in Manhattan, ecspecially on the fashionable Upper East Side, they need look no further then the Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse Suite. Yes, that's right - we are once again writing about a luxury, high-level, freakishly huge and overdone suite at a five-star hotel in New York City.
In Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse, free time not spent in the solarium, on the balcony, or their office alcove, can be spent indulging in the finest shops of the neighborhood. Also nearby is the Whitney, Frick or Museum of Modern Art. Not to mention all of the noteworthy restaurants where our the concierge staff will gladly secure your reservation.
Hotel Plaza Athenee New York Penthouse Suite
Location: The hotel is on the Upper East Side of New York City - on 64th between Madison and Park Avenue, one block from Central Park. The pale yellow decorated suite is a two-story duplex apartment located on the top two floors of the hotel - the 16th & 17th.
Size: 1972 square feet or 184 square meters.
Living Room: On the Suite's first floor, the 16th, the living room includes a decorative marble fireplace. The lower level also contains a pantry, formal dining room that seats 12, a ½ bathroom and an office alcove off the living room and the connecting second bedroom.
Master Bedroom: Spiral staircase leads to the second floor of the penthouse with full master bedroom, full bath and walk in closet, wrap around terrace and atrium.
Balcony & Atrium: Connected to the Master Bedroom, the balcony has a planted private terrace which runs half the length of the hotel. The atrium is a sun-drenched indoor space with rattan furniture.
Rate: Currently, the one-bedroom Penthouse Suite will run you about $3,900 per night, plus tax.
Fun Fact: The hotel's exterior is shaped somewhat like a pyramid - the higher up you go, the less space you have and the less numbers of rooms you get on each floor.
Hotel Plaza Athenee New York, Five Star Alliance
Related Articles: "Park Avenue Suite at The Regency in New York City", "The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite", "The Triplex Penthouse at the Time", and "Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite".
Don't forget, if you make your reservation with Five Star Alliance for the Hotel Plaza Athenee, you get the "Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Afternoon Tea for two (2) with pastries and tea sandwiches once during your stay."
The rumors are flying. The sophisticated and palatial Dallas landmark-- stacked with awards and with a devoted international following-- is on the market. And this posh icon shouldn't have any trouble attracting a buyer. The Mobil five-star and AAA five-diamond award winner has been distinguished as the top U.S. hotel by Zagat and the world's best hotel service by Travel and Leisure. Rosewood's Mansion on Turtle Creek is the only five-star hotel in Texas, and the management intends to keep it that way: continuing its role operating the property after the new buyer is found. Besides this stellar service and other-worldly cuisine, the hotel features a world-class spa, fitness center and pool.
Discover the remote private islands of the Philippines. Accessible only by private charter flight, Amanpulo is surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine coral reef just 300 meters offshore. The diving is fantastic. And the resort offers an abundance of other watersports, additionally. Enjoy the views from the treetops or from the water's edge: Amanpulo's 40 casitas are heavenly hideaways with generous space, divine amenities, and spellbinding views. From April until October, Amanresorts' resident tennis professional, David Bush, will be offering private tennis tuition at Amanjena, Amandari, Amanpulo, and Amanpuri. A former NCAA Division 1 player, David coaches all levels of sporting ability, from beginners to serious competitors. Therefore, Amanpulo has designed a special Tennis package available from September 1 to October 31. Over a three night stay on the private island of Pamalican, guests can enjoy daily breakfast, a complimentary one hour private tennis session with David Bush, and a one-hour massage per stay. Starting at $1,960 for a Beach Casita.
Just south of Cancun on a stunning and isolated Caribbean coast, the Yucatan's prized Riviera Maya, lies a dazzling, eco-friendly resort community. Surrounded by lush forest canopy and beautiful waterways, Mayakoba is a luxury destination with golf, tennis, fine dining, and world-class snorkeling and diving. After the destruction caused by Hurricane Wilma last year, Cancun and the Yucatan peninsula have made a courageous comeback. The Fairmont Mayakoba had to delay its original opening because of hurricane damage, but has finally opened its doors and is welcoming guests to paradise. In addition to its luxurious accommodations overlooking beaches and lagoons, the resort offers a huge free-form pool with swim-up bar, superb Spa, children's programs, excellent dining outlets, and access to Mayakoba's fine golf and tennis facilities. Take advantage of the Only One Way Summer Promotion, starting at an unbelievably low $199 per night (double occupancy). Available from May 15- September 5, 2006.