April 12, 2006
By: Guest Writer
By Courtney W. May Following in the footsteps of all the travel blogs we admire, The Informed Traveler has set up a Flickr Group for fans and photographers alike to join in the community: The Informed Traveler Flickr Group Want to start a discussion on the most expensive hotel you've ever been to? This is the place to do it. Or maybe you had a really terrible time at that "luxury" hotel and you have pictures to prove it? We want to see those too. We are a public group and anyone interested in upscale travel and lavish hotels should join us to share stories, pictures, and comments. Plus, if you have some awesome photos to share about luxury destinations, you can post them in the group and maybe even be featured on the Blog as an 'Outstanding Traveler'. We try to use the photos of reader and community members when possible, so get them up there for us to feature with our stories. Don't yet have a Flickr or Yahoo account? You can sign up here.
By: Guest Writer
Shake or stir up the perfect weekend at Dukes Hotel, renowned worldwide for its marvelous Martinis, and of course the best Dry Martini in town. Located in a quiet spot on St. James's Place, Dukes is a charming, privately-owned luxury hotel set in a flowering gas-lit courtyard, just minutes from London's finest restaurants, theaters, galleries and exclusive shops. This luxurious boutique-- with its 89 rooms and suites individually decorated like a private home-- prizes its reputation for its happening Cocktail Bar. Brace yourself for the launch of the new Martini Menu, which will add clever concoctions such as a Filthy Dirty Martini, a Dukes Chocolate Martini, a Balsamic Vinegar Martini, a Saffron Martini, and a Rose Petal Martini, along with the traditional house specialties. In celebration of these libations, Dukes has introduced a special Martini Madness package, for Friday night arrivals throughout 2006. Priced at GBP 920 for three nights (double occupancy), the package includes: luxurious accommodations for two, full English breakfast daily, a private tasting with the bartender, a lesson on making the perfect Martini, and at-home presentation tips, two martinis at the happening bar, dinner for two at Dukes restaurant, and a special Recovery Massage for two. Top that off with a complimentary Dukes Martini set in a beautiful gift box that includes two Martini glasses, a bottle of gin, a miniature bottle of Vermouth, a lemon peeler, and a Dukes Martini leaflet with instructions on how to make a Martini. Cheers to that.
Dukes Hotel, Official Site
Dukes Hotel, Five Star Alliance
Forbes.com has the skinny on Luxury Plastic: those select, mythical cards issued to an elite few who spend a mere $250,000 a year and put it all on plastic. Unbeknownst to the masses, invitation-only cards like the American Express Centurion card (aka "the Black AmEx") and the even rarer Coutts & Co. purple card (try 100 card-holders) offer truly luxurious rewards programs. According to Forbes, the purple card is the most prestigious of them all (after all, this is the bank to the Queen we're talking about):
World Card is offered only to Coutts clients, and you have to have millions to qualify for that status to begin with. Aside from all the typical travel upgrades and luxury services, the card comes in handy when you need to go shopping at your favorite department store in the middle of the night. A quick call to a World Card service representative will arrange a private after-hours shopping session anywhere your little heart desires.Ahhh, the perks of (purple) plastic.
While visiting family and friends in Nashville, head to the city's treasured landmark, the Hermitage Hotel, for its famous Easter Brunch set in the historic lobby. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the luxurious Hermitage has racked up numerous awards, including AAA Five Diamond status and Robb Report's Best of the Best. Take advantage of the Easter Brunch package, starting at $279, and relax in splendor in a richly-furnished guest room, with its sumptuous fine thread count fabrics and all marble bathrooms.
In addition, the hotel is offering a Mother's Day Brunch Package that is sure to delight the most discriminating of guests. Brunch for two in the historic lobby features selections from the Capitol Grille. During mother's overnight stay, she will be spoiled with the hotel's Contemporary Bath Service, prepared by the Bath Concierge, with oversized plush towels, a bottle of fresh spring water, seasonal fruit, candles, rose petals, slippers, a luxurious robe, and a selection of aromatic bath salts and bath gels. Rates start at $349.
The Hermitage, Official Site
The Hermitage, Five Star Alliance
This summer, Spain's Costa del Sol and the French Riviera promise to be packed--the stretches of sand back-to-back (or butt-to-butt?) full of sun-worshippers from colder climes. Why not look further west for a European holiday, far from the traditional (and well-worn) tourist circuit? Portugal, rich in history of mighty ocean navigation and past epochs of sprawling international empires, is an undiscovered delight. Outside of the capital city of Lisbon, the Costa de Lisboa is marked by gleaming white sand beckoning beach lovers and surfers alike. At the town of Sintra, surrounded by lush forests and the geyser-like eruptions of waves breaking at Boca de Inferno, discover the pastel Palacio Nacional da Pena. Or head to the fantastic southern coast; the Algarve is dotted with splendid coastal resorts and quaint fishing villages lined with brightly colored wooden boats.
Set sail on the world's largest oceanliner-- Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and bring Fido along for the pampering and indulgence. The "Pets on Deck" program provides a host of services and amenities, including freshly-baked doggie biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and fleece blankets, oodles of toys, a premium selection of pet food, and even a QM2 logo coat. Beloved beasts get gift packs with Frisbee, food dish and a complimentary portrait with pet owners. In addition, there is a Kennel Master who reigns over the ship's kennel program, taking care of feeding and walking its pampered pooches. The kennel fees range from $300 to $500.
Imagine large private rooms with queen beds and luxe bathrooms with showers. No, this isn't your honeymoon nuptial suite we're talking about, but the private luxury airline that will jet your private party to your destination wedding. Instead of flying commercially, think VIP plane. Private Jet Services Group offers full-sized carriers redesigned and reconfigured for your wedding party, ranging in size from two to 109 people. These are first-class only aircraft, packed with luxurious services and amenities. And rest assured-- Private Jet Services Group oversees all the trip details (transportation to the airport, luggage transfers, special gourmet catering requests), with its exclusive Concierge Service, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the party.
For those in the know, this boutique hotel occupies the 28th-42nd floors of the landmark Waldorf-Astoria, just steps from Park Avenue in Midtown. It's a luxurious space with a comfortable residential ambience, with excellent personalized service and amenities for the business traveler. This spot is all about convenience: with a superb location and access to the Astoria Lounge, full-service business center and Plus One Fitness Center. The Waldorf Towers is now offering VIP access to MoMA, so that you can skip the lines and get admission to the museum at any time. The MoMA VIP Ticket package starts at $419 per night, and includes accommodations, two VIP tickets (children under 16 are free), and discount vouchers for the Midtown bistro Brasserie. Valid until Dec. 31, 2006.
Could Atlantis get any more mammoth? The kitschy celebration of the Lost Continent of Atlantis has these stats: 2,300 guest accommodations (the Royal Towers, Coral Towers and Beach Tower), 35 restaurants, a goliath casino, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and a marina that can hold the biggest and baddest of the private luxury yachts. Not to mention the 11 million gallons of swimming pools with water slides and cascades, and marine exhibits with a whopping 50,000 live animals. Kids go gaga over the replica Atocha (the Spanish galleon with oodles of sunken treasure that a Florida treasure-seeker uncovered) at the Kids Club, and apparently guests consume over 1 ton of lobster tails per week. Just what doesn't this resort have? Enough space (!), of course. Atlantis continues to undergo a massive development, which will include the Residences at Atlantis, an exclusive condominium-hotel for lucky owners to enjoy the casino and water activities galore, all year round. Additional features of the $1 billion development project include 1,450 rooms by next spring (including a luxury all-suite hotel), an expansion to the water park, a new dolphin facility, 100,000 sq ft of additional meeting facilities, and the new Nobu restaurant from world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Another luxury ship with permanent ocean residences is a good thing, as rumor has it that the Four Seasons Cruise Ship is almost sold out. The Magellan-- to be completed by the summer of 2008-- will be limited to 200 private homes, including 16 penthouses. The exclusive $650 million ship claims it will "redefine luxury for the discerning traveler":
The facilities and services of the world's finest resorts are part of everyday life aboard the Magellan. On-call housekeeping staff, a world-class spa and marketplace, a 24-hour concierge staff, indoor and outdoor pools, six restaurants, a 450-seat theatre featuring Broadway-quality entertainment, a casino worthy of Monte Carlo and a 8,000 sq.ft greenhouse with onsite horticulturists are just a few of the conveniences that make living aboard the Magellan a unique experience.
Add to that the luxury of visiting 300 unique ports of call as you circumnavigate the globe. Now that ain't too shabby.