The lush, forested Caribbean isle of Dominica is a nature lover's delight, with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, gorgeous beaches where whales can be spotted off-shore, and hot springs and glorious waterfalls amidst the rainforest. In this tropical paradise, the Jungle Bay Resort and Spa is a peaceful and luxurious retreat. With yoga studios, beachfront bar, gorgeous Spa, and Atlantic-facing restaurants, this resort could be heaven on earth. The 35 tropical hardwood cottages are nestled within the jungle, accessed by a series of graceful footpaths, and feature balconies and private outdoor showers. At night, fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of the spring fed stream in the forest below, or the Atlantic waves crashing into the soft sandy shore. Dining is an experience to remember, with delicious and fresh Caribbean specialities served in an outdoor Pavilion overlooking the stone pool and ocean.
The former owner of North Face, Doug Tomkins, has created a 30,000 acre wildlife refuge and eco-retreat in Argentina's Corrientes province. The Conservation Land Trust has attracted a slew of nature lovers in pursuit of discovering the beauty of Argentina's vast northeast. The place to stay? Estancia Rincon del Socorro is a 12,000-hectare former cattle ranch on the edge of the Ibera wetlands that is now a nature reserve. Doug and his wife Kris restored a beautiful property, originally built in 1896, including three bungalows and the main house, El Casco, which offers spacious rooms with high ceilings, a screened verandah, well-stocked library, and terraced dining area where beautiful organic meals are served, with fruit and vegetables plucked from the kitchen garden and delicious Argentine barbecue (free range meats). Relax by the pool or take to the savannah on horseback, riding with a gaucho on one of the native horses.
Could it be the hottest new trend in travel? The new romantic comedy from Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston, The Break Up, introduces the term 'Man'cations (Vince is at it again, in a role where he champions hanging out with the boys), and now Fairmont has put together some neat and unique ways for the guys to get together on 'Man'cations across North America. The Fairmont Chicago partners with wine and spirits producer Brown-Forman to bring the gents the ultimate Chitown 'Man'cation. The package includes a Woodford reserve whiskey tasting led by master distiller, Chris Morris, a three-course steak dinner with wine pairings by Brown-Forman, and a post-dinner cocktail seminar led by Brown Forman's CEO Tim Laird. Starting July 28, priced at $150 for seminars, dinner, alcohol, and overnight accommodations starting at $249 with a special "hair-of-the-dog" turndown amenity. Or get the crew together for some spa pampering at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. The Speed Meets Spa package caters to both the need for speed and the desire for pampering. With this package, guests receive enrollment at the ESPN Russell Racing School's introductory three day driving course at Infineon Raceway, three nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Inn's handsome fine-dining restaurant, two 50-minute spa treatments, tasting for two at the Gloria Ferrer winery and a bottle of Sonoma Sparkling Wine upon arrival. Available until December 30, 2006, rates start at $3,595 for the entire three-night stay, based on double occupancy.
Once owned by Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, this spectacular villa was transformed from an agricultural estate into an exquisite country inn and restaurant by legendary celebrity chef Alain Ducasse. Set within olive groves and vineyards, L'Andana Hotel is situated on a 500-hectare estate where gourmet olive oil and divine wine are produced for expectant foodies. The 33 guestrooms are beautifully appointed with views over the surrounding Tuscan countryside, and the suites boast fireplaces. The restaurant, as expected of Alain Ducasse, is excellent. There are recreational activities aplenty: cooking courses, horseback riding, tennis, heated swimming pool, guided tours, mountain biking, and (coming soon) golf. And the newly opened spa is a food-inspired dream, featuring ingredients from the kitchen garden such as olives, lavender, grapes, sunflowers and herbs. Enjoy relaxing treatments overlooking the vineyards and outdoor marble pool.
In the energetic arts capital of Ireland, The g is the height of hip. Let's start with the reception area. Black glass walls frame a tank of seahorses. Philip Treacy-designed concierge wall is covered in white Venetian plaster to look like a seashell. Next stop: the lounges on the ground floor, connected by the signature red carpeted corridor. Golden doorways mark the entrances to the Pink Salon, Grand Salon, and Blue Lounge. Over-the-top or fashionably contemporary? The hotel likens it to "walking through a glamorous dolls house." Moving on to the guestrooms. Extremely original and stylish, the decorative details (wallpaper, lighting, art, and flooring) were inspired by the landscapes of the countryside surrounding Galway. Of course in these sensual spaces, the technology and amenities are cutting edge and sophisticated. The restaurant (serving Italian cuisine) and cocktail bar are likewise decadent and glamorous. But amongst all this theater, the ESpa is certainly the hotel's highlight. Located in the top two floors of the hotel, the spa features four beauty suites, rock sauna, steam room, relaxation room with Japanese garden, and an ice fountain. The architectural design is stunning, with stone, wood, linen and glass blended in luxurious harmony. Extensive treatment list available.
When in Venice, do like the locals (or visiting celebs) and head to the outdoor terrace at the 18th century Bauer Il Palazzo hotel. It's extraordinary. The cleverly named Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) is a rooftop lounge on the 7th floor, with spectacular panoramic views over the city and lagoon. Here, breakfast is served exclusively for lucky guests, and the entire terrace and rooftop jacuzzi are available to rent for private functions. The hotel has the best spot in the floating city after all, in St. Mark's Basin, with its own private dock on the Grand Canal. In the heart of Venice, the Bauer Il Palazzo is an intimate boutique hotel with a stunning Gothic facade and opulent Venetian aura. The guestrooms likewise boast impressive views of the best of Venice. Many of the 44 luxurious rooms and 38 suites--lavishly appointed with fine furniture, fabrics, and Murano glass chandeliers-- offer balconies and terraces overlooking the beautiful city of canals. (Never mind that it's sinking.)
That's right. The opulent Parisian hotel has a new Culinary and Lifestyle Academy for folks to learn (and hopefully master) the art of French savoir-vivre. The landmark Hotel Meurice has always been ranked one of the most elegant hotels in the world, so we can trust that this fashionable new school will provide the best kind of expertise in subjects such as flower-arranging, wine-tasting, and pastry-making. Saturday classes include morning and afternoon sessions, with 12 students max. a class. Starting at EUR 105 per person.
On exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Degas to Picasso: Modern Masters. This survey of European art from 1900 to 1960 is ambitious and fascinating, showcasing 280 paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints, and photographs. From the late works of Degas, Gauguin, Munch and Rodin through Giacometti and Picasso, this exhibition explores the major masters in 20th century Europe on an individual artistic basis, while also highlighting the rise of new artistic movements, from late impressionism and symbolism to mid-century modernism. Don't miss this one. Through July 23.
From the city of over-the-top, comes super-plush, themed suites with a serious wow-factor. The Palms resort recently opened an entire floor of individually themed party suites. Who needs typical Vegas glamour (fresh flowers and champagne, 3,000 thread count sheets, Jacuzzi tubs, *yawn*) when you could stay in the Kingpin Suite, which offers full-sized bowling lanes and oodles of plasma TVs along the walls of the 1,370 sq meter space? K-Fed and his posse will no doubt fantasize about the Crib Suite, with its DJ booth, pool table and video gaming lounge (the sleekest hip-hop bachelor pad you'll ever see). The Erotic Suite boasts a rotating bed and mirrored ceiling, and the fur-trimmed Hot Pink Suite is perfect for a girls get-together for pampering and nights out on the town. Viva Las Vegas.
(Of course extravagance like this comes with a price tag. Expect to shell out thousands per night.)
The majestic mountains of British Columbia offer more than superlative skiing; North America's renowned ski destination is just as enticing in the summertime, with fabulous hiking, gorgeous swimming pools, and world-class golf. The Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside, the luxury boutique hotel located superbly at the bottom of the gondolas, has put together an excellent family vacation package for some thrilling adventures this summer. The Summer Family Adventure Package (created for a group of two adults and two kids) consists of five nights in a two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen and two bathrooms. The package also includes a five-hour boat trip on Lillooet Lake; a two-and-a-half hour ZipTrek Canopy Tour through the forest treetops; a dog sled tour (without the snow, but thrilling nonetheless); passes to go up Whistler Mountain Peak; and a disposable camera. Starting at $1,739, for family of four. Via Travel and Leisure Hot Deals