Recently featured in an excellent Financial Times article about luxury travel, The Fasano in Sao Paulo is indeed one of the world's best hotels.
The rooms so chic, chocolate and cosseting, you will find yourself revising your low opinion of so-called design hotels. Bathrooms are simply vast, the location spot-on and service conspicuously good for capricious South America.
Most importantly, this is the spot of one of the best Italian restaurants in the world. The Fasano family name is well known in São Paulo: their signature restaurant has dignified the grand avenue (Rua Vittorio Fasano) since 1990, the recipes for its grand cuisine brought from Milan a century ago. The hotel's facilities are nothing short of decadent: rooftop health club with pool, baths, sauna (and stunning views), a fleet of limousines for airport pick-ups and transfers, hip jazz bar, and swank guest rooms. A truly glamorous address with exceptional service.
The star, the legend, the superstar, the crème de la crème of Chefs-- Alain Ducasse-- will open a new restaurant at the St. Regis in Manhattan. We're talking about the only guy in the world to own and operate three signature restaurants each honored with three Michelin stars. (Starwood is pleased as pie about this new arrangement.) The restaurant will open in March 2007 and will also feature a wine bar. The St. Regis Hotel, New York isn't exactly a shabby address: the majestic property was recently named the number one hotel in the world by the readers of Institutional Investor, the first New York hotel to win the top spot in the survey's 25-year history.
Congrats to Le Place d'Armes, the first ever Canadian hotel to pick up this coveted award. Each year the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences bestows the prestigious International Star Diamond Award to five star hotels deemed to represent the height of excellence and quality. This sophisticated boutique hotel combines the best of old and new Montreal after an elegant $29 expansion to its existing historic buildings. Le Place d'Armes offers exceptional service, accommodations, gastronomy and high-end amenities to pamper its guests. The 83 rooms and 52 suites are designed in marble, slate, leather and rich wood; luxurious options include jetted or therepeutic baths, exposed brick walls, terraces, electric fireplaces, and city views. Rainspa-- the 2,000 square foot urban day spa-- boasts the city's first hammam. In addition to the award-winning fine dining at Aix Cuisine Du Terroir, the hotel also houses the trendy bar/lounge Suite 701, where local hipsters and guests alike seek out the sophisticated ambiance and delicious martinis.
Adored by Madonna, the super-stylish Blue Bar-- located by the lobby of the Berkeley hotel-- is oft considered one of London's best bars. Designed by David Collins, the 50-seat bar is distinguished by the black crocodile print leather floor, white onyx bar, sunken seat area, and, most of all, by the gorgeous color of the room, which the designer has dubbed "Lutyens Blue." The drinks list includes a wide selection of Champagnes, original and contemporary cocktails, wine by the glass, and over 50 different whiskies. (There's even a Grape and Smoke menu for guests to pair cigars with carefully chosen wines.) In addition to the olives, caramelized nuts, and tasty nibbles which accompany each drink order, guests also enjoy the Asian-inspired tapas menu, which includes delicate and delicious dishes like queenie scallops with wasabi and lime vinaigrette, char smoked salmon with basil and yogurt, lime leaf and chicken on coconut crisp and citrus coulis rice paper, and nori wrapped vegetable rolls.
Start making plans now for the coming ski season. The ultra-luxurious Amangani is the place to be, ranked among the top après-ski destinations in the world and also consistently voted the nation's best spa by readers of Conde Nast Traveler. Set atop East Gros Ventre Butte, Amangani offers panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks around Grand Teton National Park. This is one of America's last true wilderness refuges, and guests can view the magnificent wildlife—elk, bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer and the occasional moose seek the sanctuary of the National Elk Refuge when snow blankets the higher altitudes—by cross-country skis or snowshoes. Jackson Hole's Rendezvous and Apres Vous mountains offer a host of excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Amangani's private Ski Lounge is conveniently located below Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's Bridger Gondola at the base of Rendezvous mountain, a quick 20-minute complimentary transfer from the resort. The Ski Lounge is staffed with a ski valet to assist with rentals and other details, and provides boot and glove warmers, ski racks, baskets for ski gloves, mittens and goggles to ensure that all equipment stays dry and comfortable. Soak up the warm après-ski ambience back at Amangani, sipping a hot toddy, mulled wine or ginger tea by the large fireplaces while gazing out the two-storey window wall at the Snake River range. And of course the award-winning spa is a welcome retreat after a day on the slopes, featuring slate-lined steam rooms, luxurious spa treatments, and the stunning 35-meter open-air pool, warm enough to be enjoyed all year round.
These days more and more women are taking an interest in golf, and resorts have picked up on the trend, courting women to the green with special spa-golf combo packages, and gender-specific classes and programs to introduce ladies to the fun challenges of golf. Traditionally, golf has been a men's game, with women comprising only 18 percent of the "core golf" market. But the times they are a-changing. As pinpointed in a recent CNN article, the upward trend in women's interest in golf has spawned a slew of new packages at resorts across the nation:
At Pinehurst, a sprawling 144-hole golf resort in central North Carolina, instructors created a daylong course called Discover Golf that aims to get beginners -- both men and women -- whacking balls before they learn the ins and outs of the game…Though designed for either sex, the classes have attracted far more women than men so far… all but two of this year's 40 students were women.
The women attendees have raved about the program as great fun, and an excellent opportunity for networking. And you can't beat Pinehurst Resort for the place to learn and perfect your game: the resort is legendary, with eight pristine championship golf courses where the best players in history have all gone before. This is the site of more championships than any other golf course in the country. (With fine luxury spa facilities to boot.)
The star chef has accumulated quite a loyal following from his renowned restaurants in Paris, Toyko, and Las Vegas, and now the legend arrives in Manhattan at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, newly opened at Four Seasons Hotel New York. The design is innovative: the heart of the restaurant is an open kitchen, dissolving the traditional boundaries between the dining room and kitchen. From the 20 individual seats at the U-shaped pearwood bar, diners can gape at the culinary team at work. The restaurant itself is elegant (details in wood and lacquered black and red) and very intimate: in addition to the pearwood counter, there are only 26 more seats in the whole joint. The cuisine is nothing short of spectacular, prepared with the highest quality ingredients. Famed dishes include the Pommes Purée Truffée (truffled mashed potatoes) and the popular La Caille Farcie de Foie Gras et Caramélisée (free-range quail stuffed with foie gras). With the nightly tasting menu, lucky guests can create their own multi-course Robuchon experience.
September 29, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
by Courtney W. May for the Conrad Chicago These days all of the luxury hotels have packages or gimic to help attract new guests and market their property. In this case the Conrad Chicago (which just finished a major renovation) has 4 ongoing deals that aren't just gimics, but great add-ons to a Chicago visit. Halloween Package (through 10/31/06) this package includes orange cotton candy, gummy worms and spiders upon check-in for the children, 2 tickets to attend Navy FEAR at Navy Pier, and truffle pumpkin cookies for the entire family to enjoy. Business Retreat (through 12/31/06) includes complimentary coffee delivered to room following wake-up call , dry cleaning for 1 suite, executive services, a selection from our NY Times bestseller booklist, personal shopper to find a gift for your loved ones back home. Holidays on Magnificent Mile (through 12/31/06) includes shipping of shopping items within us up to $30.00, a $50.00 gift card, and a VIP savings passport for Westfield North Bridge, holiday Martini, gift wrapping, turndown, late check-out, and parking for 1 night. Tut at Twilight (through 12/31/06) includes 2 adult tickets to the King Tut exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. Extra tickets available for purchase. Reserve the Conrad Chicago
The W hotel chain— adored by American urbanites for its sleek city hotels— has opened its first resort in the Maldives. Billed as a "sophisticated luxury playground," this Retreat and Spa is the first of its kind for W. Situated on the private tropical island of Fesdu, in the North Ari Atoll, the W Retreat and Spa combines indulgent all-villa accommodations with the Maldives first real nightlife: a subterranean grotto bar aptly called 15 BELOW because it's fifteen feet below the island's surface. This is the ultimate indulgence and exclusivity in the Maldives. In your private over-water villa, enjoy your own plunge pool, sundeck, and beach. Or marvel at the lagoon's colorful fish through the glass-paneled floor (the roof is likewise glass-paneled). The villas are all outfitted with outdoor lounging areas with individual barbeque stations for private dining, circular daybeds, and outdoor tropical showers. As to be expected from W Hotels, the accommodations are equipped with all the latest technology and conveniences: deluxe Bose sound systems, 42 inch plasma televisions, and wine refrigerators. Indulge in a spa treatment at the over-water AWAY spa. Lounge on the white-sand beaches, take a dip in the turquoise lagoon, and snorkel along the breathtaking reefs. The WAVE water sports facility is fully equipped with top-quality scuba diving gear, along with kite surfing, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, and endless other options. In the evening, dine at one of the six gourmet restaurants followed by a cocktail at the hip underground bar, which offers the largest selection of vodka in the Maldives. The W Retreat and Spa Maldives promises to be the ultimate private island paradise.
September 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
I recently had the honor of visiting Hotel Fouquet's Barrière before its November 3, 2006 opening date. In a city of superlatives--Paris is the most romantic and beautiful metropolis of them all--the luxury hotel scene sets the standard for elegance, sophistication, and impeccable service worldwide. I was pleased to discover (even with construction underway) that Hotel Foquet's Barrière proudly carves its own place in this impressive roster of opulent Palace Hotels.
The new kid on the block sports two defining characteristics that are hard to come by in Paris-- an enormous Spa with stunning swimming pool-- and location, location, location. Hotel Foquet's Barrière stands prominently on the corner of two fabled boulevards: the Champs-Elysées and Avenue George V. Surrounded by chic designer boutiques (Hermes, Louis Vuitton) and fine dining, the hotel is perfectly situated at the nexus of the Triangle d'Or.
A word about the architecture. Celebrity architect Édouard François has created a contemporary masterpiece by fusing the old and new. Attached to the legendary Brasserie Fouquet's, the hotel is comprised of five Haussman-style buildings located around a central interior garden. The project is extraordinary, years in the making, and destined to become a destination in its own right. All the buildings were not originally connected. As I walked around the outside of the hotel, I noticed how the architect created a faux Haussmann-style façade which has been molded onto the exterior of the newer adjoining buildings: on this grey stone--which is in marked contrast with the sandy colored old buildings it adjoins--the architect has superimposed large contemporary windows which are rectangular in shape and placed perpendicular, against the grain, to the corresponding window cut-outs in the façade.
And the interiors are just as remarkable. Interior designer Jacques Garcia has created 107 lavish guest rooms in a combination of art-deco and empire style. Utilizing rich velvets, leather, gold leaf, shark skin, precious marble, and plush fabrics, Garcia has created posh, imperial spaces that are also extremely comfortable. I've never seen beds so big. Bathrooms are like mini-spas, decked out in marble, with large bath and separate walk-in rainshower room. In the Presidential Suite, the large jetted tub actually overlooks the grand stretch of Champs-Elysées (though these rooms are ultra sound-proofed for peace and quiet.) The Presidential Suite, like all guest rooms, is equipped with the most cutting edge technology: the flat screen TV is embedded in the mirror, totally invisible until turned on.
The U Spa Barriere is located underground, a vast restorative space that includes seven private treatment rooms, fully equipped fitness room, hammam, steam room, sauna, and the hotel's gem: the gorgeous swimming pool. Besides the famous Brasserie, the hotel will feature Le Diane restaurant, overlooking the garden, and Le Lucien bar. Above, an enormous teak rooftop terrace offers the perfect space for private receptions, with views of the Eiffel Tower.
I think I'm in love. 35 days and counting…until we can get pampered in style in the City of Light.