October 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It's here. The new, beautiful glossy from Sherman's Travel is a feast for the senses, jam-packed with savvy travel tips, thrilling photography, and entertaining features. Published by the travel experts at the beloved website, the quarterly magazine focuses on the best luxury values of the season-- the "smart splurges" for today's sophisticated, value-conscious traveler. Here's a sampler of the good stuff in the premiere issue: the Top Ten Emerging Wine Regions in the World, New York's New Burger Bistros, Off-the-Path in Romania, and an in-depth feature on Maui. Noteworthy signature sections (and my favorites) include: the Luxe List (the season's best luxury-value deals include the Pavillon de la Reine in Paris and Aspen's Hotel Jerome) and the Sweet Spot (places to go for Fall value, like Curacao and New Zealand's South Island). Also noteworthy: handy tear-out sheets about the best hotels, restaurants, and nightlife at a given destination. Available online.
This could be the most dramatic setting on earth: amidst deep blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, and the rivers and forests of Nauel Huapi National Park in Northwest Patagonia. Welcome to the Llao Llao Hotel and Resort, where the spectacular surroundings are only enhanced by extraordinary facilities. Recently recognized as one of the top three resorts in Central/South America by Conde Nast Traveler's 19th annual Readers' Choice Awards, Llao Llao is a luxurious mountain lodge, designed in the style of Canada's greatest ski lodges, with exposed timbers and grand stone fireplaces. No matter what season, Llao Llao's a picture-perfect destination, with numerous recreational activities: 18-hole golf course, state-of-the-art spa, spectacular heated swimming pool with mountain views, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, horse back riding, sailing. (And awesome skiing in the off-season, come next May/June.)
Paradise is only 26 miles from Puerto Vallarta. According to Andrew Harper's Hideaway report, the best international resort for 2006 is the Four Seasons Punta Mita, the breathtaking Pacific-facing resort surrounded by white sand and turquoise sea. This is truly an unrivaled vacation destination: gorgeous oceanfront rooms with plunge pools, a unique spa, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, tennis courts, kids program, and all that jazz. Recent property enhancements include a second pool complex with 10 private cabanas and a 55-foot yacht for sunset sailing trips and whale-watching cruises. Plan a getaway at the resort before peak holiday season in December, and score a fantastic Special Offer... Pay for three nights, and get the fourth for free.
Welcome to the "Greatest City in America." These days Balty is a shining star, welcoming tourists in droves to the glittering Inner Harbor. By far the best Baltimore restaurant for exceptional cuisine and service is Hampton's, located in the award-winning Intercontinental Harbor Court Hotel directly on the waterfront. The dining room at Maryland's premier restaurant is genteel and elegant, featuring antique mahogany breakfronts, Chinese laquered screens, overstuffed armchairs, and fine art. But the contemporary American cuisine is what makes the restaurant worth the trip. Incorporating only the freshest local ingredients of the season, Hampton's is renowned for its signature dishes like lobster bisque, broiled Maryland crab cakes with a grilled Granny Smith apple slaw, and grilled Hereford Rib-Eye with potato and wild mushroom millefeuille. The restaurant has been recognized for excellence by Gourmet, Zagat, Conde Nast Traveler, and DiRoNa, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America. Open nightly for dinner and Sunday for Champagne Brunch. Dress is business casual; jacket preferred but not required.
Cool terraces and gardens, bubbling fountains, stone arches, and traditional wooden doors… The elegance and charm of Colonial Mexico beckons at Casa de Sierra Nevada. The luxurious boutique hotel, acquired by Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruises in February, is a historical landmark, dating from 1580. The hotel is comprised of a collection of colonial mansions centered around cool, flowering courtyards, and consists of 33 deluxe rooms and suites. Highlighting the distinctive original architecture, these rooms are each unique, boasting rich art and antiques, exquisite fabrics, tiled bathrooms, working fireplaces, and private terraces overlooking San Miguel. Recognized as one of the finest hotels in the world, Casa de Sierra Nevada has an impressive list of accolades: Conde Nast Traveler World's Best Awards and Gold List, Zagat's 2006 Top International Hotels, Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, Travel and Leisure T500, Robb Report, NYT…(whew).
The hotel is reason enough to visit this magnificent city, steeped in rich history and culture. But Orient Express has just announced an exciting new enticement: the acquisition of the Sazón Cooking School, which will now be part of the hotel. Guests learn to cook with the masters of Mexican cuisine, with a variety of programs ranging from one hour cooking classes on local specialties to week-long culinary packages. In addition to featuring regional culinary talent, the hotel will also include a "Toque Travels" series, featuring renowned chefs from around the world, such as Chef Raymond Blanc of Orient-Express's Michelin two star, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire, England.
With seven-miles of powdery white beaches and swaying palms, the all-suite Edgewater Beach Hotel is the ideal setting for an autumn getaway. Elegant and luxurious, yet comfortably casual, the beachfront resort has received a dramatic renovation, with newly enhanced lobby and restaurant (Coast serves coastal cuisine overlooking the Gulf of Mexico). Guest rooms are all about easy-going luxury: well-appointed, spacious, with separate kitchens and living areas, and balconies with sweeping views. Activities are plentiful—biking, sailing, snorkeling—though you may prefer to relax by the sparkling, heated pool, cocktail in hand. Now is the perfect time for a Fall escape. Because the hotel's in the process of adding a new 2-lane lap pool and refurbishing the garden courtyard area, current rates are a steal: try $179 per night in a one-bedroom Gulf Suite.
Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale's hip urban resort, is home to one of the most stellar restaurants in town. Recently praised by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of "America's Top Tables" and recognized in Phoenix Magazine as one of the "Best New Restaurants" of 2006, Cafe Zuzu serves contemporary American comfort food and handcrafted cocktails in an ultra-cool, retro setting. This Fall, the restaurant launched its Monday Nights Chef's Table, a gourmet extravaganza featuring one supplier, regional American Cuisine, one particular ingredient, paired with wine... every Monday night. Themes for November's Chef's Tables include "The Fleeting Fruit of Fall: Pomegranates, Persimmons, and Quince" (Nov 6) and "In Celebration of Oysters: The Best of Both Coasts" (Nov 27). Thanksgiving promises to be a feast to remember, with a delectable four-course menu including their famous slow-roasted Young's Farm turkey, awesome side dishes, and warm, fluffy Parkerhouse rolls. Mmmm.
Le Bar at Plaza Athenee is the place to be in the City of Light. Fashionable and sexy, Le Bar has become the city's contemporary and trendy meeting spot. Designed by hot Parisian designer Patrick Jouin, a former protégé of Philippe Starck, Le Bar is distinguished by a long illuminated bar-- sculpted with curve-shaped glass with an ice-blue lighting, resembling a luminous, glowing iceberg— and leather club chairs and large paintings whose frames allow patrons to actually sit inside and become part of the art. The drinks are likewise innovative; the bartender crafts delicious concoctions like Rose Royal (raspberry and champagne), Flower Power (flower elixir distilled in an oxygen-enriched 'eau de source'), and ice-cream drinks. A word of caution: celebrity-sightings galore.
Based in Geneva, PrivatAir is a private-jet charter airline which operates premium class jets exclusively for business class flights. Currently PrivatAir operates six days a week out of Zurich, Dusseldorf and Munich to Newark and Chicago on behalf of Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines. When it launched this service in 2002, PrivatAir revolutionized the concept of business class travel with the world's first intercontinental business-class-only service, with planes configured in a single business class for long routes. Come December, PrivatAir will take delivery of a long-range Boeing 767, equipped with 56 first-class seats and a dining room to seat eight. This joins a fleet of over 100 business jets ranging from light planes to big Boeing jets.
Embark on some exciting culinary adventures at The Peninsula Chicago, where Shanghai Terrace (specializing in Shanghainese and Cantonese delicacies) and the newly-renovated Avenues (contemporary cuisine served from an exhibition kitchen) woo diners with discriminating palates. With the Peninsula Chicago Cookery Classes, learn superb culinary skills from two of the top chefs in Chitown. The classes provide guests with the opportunity to prepare four signature dishes from either Shanghai Terrace or Avenues, recently named "Restaurant of the Year 2005" by the Chicago Sun-Times. Learn how to prepare mouth-watering dishes served in Avenues under the professional guidance of Graham Elliot Bowles, recently named one of the "Ten Best New Chefs" by Food and Wine magazine, and nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2006. Or master the craft behind Shanghai Terrace's delicious dishes-- from classic dim sum to kung pao chicken-- with Executive Chef Terry Crandall.