July 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.
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.
The award-winning Chicago hotel caters to expectant couples who seek a weekend of pampering, and a few days of revelry as a couple, before the baby's arrival. Babymoons are all the rage these days; USA Today reports that 60 percent of new parents opt for a babymoon these days. And at Four Seasons Chicago, they do it right, with the ultimate in lux accommodations and lots of fun amenities. Here's the scoop on the Expecting You Package: includes plush accommodations (with sweeping views of the city and Lake Michigan and body contour pillows to keep comfortable the mother-to-be), a copy of the book "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" with a book light for late night reading, complimentary manicure from the Spa when booking a pregnancy massage, complimentary "Toast to Fatherhood" in Seasons Bar for the dads-to-be, complimentary Midwest breakfast from Room Service or in the Cafe, complimentary visit from The Ice Cream Man, and special savings from premier shopping partners (for example, receive a complimentary bassinet at Neiman Marcus with any $200 purchase in Layette clothing). Rates begin at $480 per night.
An American landmark since 1895, The Jefferson is one of only 23 hotels to hold both the Mobil Five Star and the AAA Five Diamond ratings. This crown jewel is a charter member of Historic Hotels of America, celebrating its historic details and distinct architecture. Located in the center of downtown Richmond, The Jefferson is a luxurious haven of old-world charm and personalized service. Signature features include the antique furniture, tapestries, faux-marble columns, the 70-ft ceiling with stained-glass skylight, and the sweeping staircase that looks straight out of Gone With the Wind. The 264 guestrooms are opulent, with high ceilings, tall windows, and custom-designed furnishings such as mahogany armoires and beautiful carpets. Facilities include a fitness center and pool. The Champagne Brunch on Sunday is not to be missed: this Richmond tradition is served in the Rotunda lobby amidst the columns-- the buffet is lavish with freshly made omelettes, waffles, carving station, seafood, imported cheeses, signature spoonbread and desserts.
Take advantage of the exceptional "Twice as Nice" package, where guests can score 1 room for 2 nights, or 2 rooms for 1 night. Superior accommodations are $299, and deluxe are $339. Valid until September 4, 2006. The Jefferson is also offering the "Summer Bed and Breakfast Package" which includes buffet breakfast for two in Lemaire (the hotel's AAA five-diamond restaurant) and accommodations. Superior is priced at $215 per night, and deluxe at $235 per night.
Jack Nicklaus raved about the award-winning course: "If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach. I've loved this course from the first time I saw it. It's possibly the best in the world." Ranked the number 1 golf resort by Golf Digest Magazine, Pebble Beach offers four unique courses of breathtaking beauty, including the Scottish links-style Links at Spanish Bay. Perched dramatically on the Pacific coastline, nestled within groves of tall Monterey pines, The Inn at Spanish Bay offers more than just world-class golf. The 269 luxurious rooms and suites feature a private patio or balcony view over the Monterey Peninsula, along with a cozy fireplace. Outstanding facilities include The Spanish Bay Club, Oceanside Beach and Tennis Club, outdoor pools and Jacuzzi, and full-service spa and salon.