Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
There's a desert to the west of Los Angeles, the dusty, scrubby kind riven by arroyos and snow-capped ranges. The city is protected from that barren terror by a kind of East Wall, a monumentally wide buffer of concrete that are actually cities and towns everyone knows about but few ever visit on purpose – places like Monrovia, Cerritos, Montebello, Pomona.
Occasionally, though, there comes a reason to cross that desert, and you want a good camel when such time comes. We found a proper mount in the Honda CR-Z, a two-seat hybrid to play miniature steel dromedary for our Bedouin sallies.
The destination was an oasis 380 miles due east tucked behind Scottsdale's Camelback Mountain, in Paradise Valley, and aptly named The Camelback Inn. Once there, having braved, well, nothing really, we would quench our thirst with some of the finest drinks ever sipped by any traveler, weary or otherwise...
To find out if the three resorts in the Park City, Utah area really do represent "The Greatest Snow on Earth", we skied and apres-skied and learned first-hand how fabulous the town and it's amenities have become. Indeed, the area has come a long way from the area's poor, silver mining history.
During the recent Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah was teeming with glittery Hollywood types littering local restaurants and bars, meanwhile abandoning the perfectly powdered slopes. Over the ten-day stretch, those idyllic resort town slopes– located less than an hour's drive from the Salt Lake City airport, stand virtually empty. It's an insider secret that the week and a half is ideal for powder junkies hungry for crowd-free runs during high season.
(Good luck finding a hotel room though!) As it turns out Hollywood isn't so into that kind of snow.
Fortunately out west ski and snowboard season run long. A good year means soft, fluffy snow starts falling just after Thanksgiving until -- if you're really, really lucky -- as late as Cinco de Mayo. Utah doesn't claim "Greatest Snow on Earth" for nothing -- the trademarked white stuff maintains a unique blend of "consistency, abundance and quality," says Ski Utah's Director of Communications Jessica Kunzer, "Anyone who skis dreams of skiing out west. You might like skiing wherever you're from originally -- if it's Minnesota, or, out east in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, [but] the general wish is to experience our soft, ice-free slopes."
The fleeting effects of Sundance come and go, but the snow steadily falls and the apres ski scene never dies. Here are three stellar spots to kick back and relax between smooth runs and story-worthy wipe-outs.
Filed under: Wealth
Kate Moss splashed out $150,000 on a last-minute New Year's Eve blowout in Thailand with her rock star boyfriend Jamie Hince. Moss has booked in for a week at the luxe Amanpuri resort in Phuket where she has rented a private villa with a full staff as well as a luxury yacht to cruise round the Andaman sea, the UK's Daily Star reports. For New Year's Eve the stunning supermodel spent about $45,000 on a lavish banquet. Moss has spent the last three New Year's Eves at the glamorous resort, situated in a coconut grove on a private beach. The paper reports that she wanted to make other plans this year but left it too late and found everything booked. "She's in a huff because she was desperate for somewhere new, but was turned down by top resorts around the globe who had no room left," a source tells the paper. "Kate's been moaning that's she's not happy going back to the same resort, but to make it exciting she'll do it in style and raise the roof." That's the spirit.
Gallery: Amanpuri Resort, Thailand
Keith Richards, Julia Roberts, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell all go there for a getaway – now you can call it home. Pink Sands, the exclusive resort on idyllic Harbour Island in the Bahamas formerly owned by famed record producer Chris Blackwell is now offering a limited number of private residences on the picturesque property built to owners' specifications. Only 13 of the elite estates will be constructed on the celebrity hideaway's 20 acres overlooking the most beautiful stretch of pink sand beach in the Bahamas. Building lots are priced fro $700,000 – $1.995 million, and the resort's luxe amenities including the concierge service, housekeeping, private dining, beach chairs and umbrellas, massage studio and more will be available to estate owners.
Once they've acquired a lot owners can choose to hire their own architect or pick out one of Pink Sands' unique turnkey plans, and can also stay at the posh resort while their villas are being built. One of the first estates, designed by the award-winning Garcia Stromberg architectural firm, is a three-bedroom villa with panoramic views of the beach and the bay, a beautifully landscaped private outdoor courtyard, an open-air sitting area with fireplace and a private swimming pool, and a guest cottage. This villa will also be available to rent with weekly rates starting at about $19,000 during the off-season, as will certain others, with the option of joining the rental program open to all purchasers.
Gallery: Pink Sands, Harbour Island
Last spring we previewed the luxe private residences at the St. Regis' beautiful new Bahia Beach property in Puerto Rico. Now the accompanying exclusive resort, the prestigious brand's first Caribbean hotel, is officially open bringing world-class luxury to the island. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico brings St. Regis' signature bespoke services to the stunning 483-acre beachfront enclave, located on a former coconut plantation nestled between the majestic El Yunque rainforest and the Espiritu Santo River. The property's ultra-luxe amenities include St. Regis' legendary Butler Service, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant Fern, a 10,000 square foot Remède Spa, and an ocean-front golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. as well as the Caribbean's first certified Gold Audubon Signature Sanctuary.
Designed by acclaimed architecture firm Hill Glazier in a graceful plantation style that harmoniously blends in with the glorious landscape of towering palms and tropical flowers, the resort boasts 139 luxuriously appointed guest rooms including 35 suites with private terraces offering spectacular ocean views, as well as 25 private St. Regis Estate Homes. The elegant, inviting interiors feature custom-designed furniture and spacious marble baths in addition to Pratesi linens and high-tech amenities such as high-speed wireless internet, 40-inch LCD televisions, additional TVs ingeniously integrated into the bathroom mirrors and an iPod docking station. The resort's signature Butler and Private Dining services ensure you'll never want for anything. The beachside swimming pool compound features Seagrapes, a casual bar and restaurant, private cabanas and more incredible ocean views.
The Rosewood collection of leading luxury hotels and resorts is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a cool new contest rewarding those who share the company's core values. Now through November 1 Rosewood is seeking nominations for 30 Under 30, open to young men and women who demonstrate the following traits: mindful of the community, leadership with integrity, passion of conviction, respect and dedication to preserving our natural environment, creativity and strong sense of life balance. To nominate yourself, a friend or colleague, visit www.rosewoodhotels.com/30under30 and submit a brief 250 word statement detailing the nominee's qualifications along with a resumé if possible. 30 finalists will be chosen from among the nominees, who will be revealed online on December 1st. Rosewood will make a $100 donation on behalf of each finalist to the non-profit organization of their choice. Additionally, they will each enjoy a complimentary dinner for two at the Rosewood hotel or resort of their choice. Finally, Rosewood will select one lucky nominee whose life is truly exemplary to receive a $1,000 donation to the non-profit of their choice and a complimentary three-night stay at any Rosewood hotel or resort.
The exclusive Rosewood portfolio includes Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek (above) and Rosewood Crescent Hotel in Dallas, The Carlyle Hotel in New York, The Mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta, Rosewood Sand Hill, CordeValle and San Ysidro Ranch in California, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, Las Ventanas al Paraíso and Rosewood Mayakobá in Mexico, and a triumvirate of world-class Caribbean properties – Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, Caneel Bay on St. John and Jumby Bay on Antigua. Rosewood also offers Sense, A Rosewood Spa® - featuring treatments reflective of the brand's signature philosophy A Sense of Place® - available exclusively at select properties. Helping to select the best 30 Under 30 will be a panel of judges including Caroline Rose Hunt, Honorary Chairman of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, John Scott, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Stephen Hunt Sands, Chairman of the Board of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor, Jason Binn, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Niche Media, and Pamela Fiori, Editor-at-Large of Town & Country.
Gallery: Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
I visited this spa on a recent getaway to Jackson Hole and can tell you the staff's talented hands are the perfect antidote to the strain and pain that comes with an active vacation. The Avanyu Spa offers 17,000 square feet of pure relaxation ... with the exception of the gym on the fifth floor. It's a great place to get in shape, but I just can't bring myself to compare exercise to bliss – it's just not my nature.
The range of treatments is fairly wide, and includes a variety of unique massages (e.g., Komodo Massage, Sleeping Indian Custom Massage and River Stone Massage), as well as desert salt exfoliation, several facials and other skin treatments.
The spa's layout was certainly interesting. The gym is on its uppermost floor, and the four below included treatment rooms, locker rooms and, on the first floor, an indoor pool and access to one outside. An elevator transports you from one to the next. At first, this seemed cumbersome, but that's probably because I'm constantly in a hurry. Quickly, I came to realize that the forced wait encouraged a bit of patience, moving me into the mindset that a spa visit encourages.
Gallery: Snake River Lodge & Spa
Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
To truly appreciate what this property has to offer, though, you need to walk through the main building, across the golf course and along the water a bit. Or, you can have someone give you a lift in a golf cart, which might be a bit easier.
The Flume Cottage sits apart from the rest of the resort, resulting in seclusion within seclusion. This1,500 square foot cottage, refurbished in 2010, sits right on the water, with a back deck that sports drop-dead views of the breakwater, with its lighthouse at the end. And, you can soak in the sights from the Jacuzzi that's out there. Since the only adjacent action on land is golf, you don't need to worry about the slightest noise intruding on your getaway, except, perhaps, a knock at the door when your meals arrive.
Watch Hill, Rhode Island's majestic Ocean House resort has reopened for the summer 2010 season after a sweeping, $140 million renovation.
Originally opened in 1868, the Victorian-style property catered to the era's high society with its prime beachfront location and leisure class activities like croquet on the lawn, bathing and sailing, and afternoon tea. By 1917, the dining room could serve 500, bands traveled from New York to entertain guests and the Douglas Fairbanks vehicle American Aristocracy, filmed at the resort, had just been released.
But by the turn of millennium a series of fires, almost a century-and-a-half of wear and a shift in tastes away from the seaside resort vacation, left the Ocean House a ghostly shell of its former grandeur. When in 2004 a group of summer residents, led by Royce Funds president Charles M. Royce, attempted to salvage the original structure it was determined that it was too far gone, and so the decision was made to recreate the original Ocean House as a modern hotel with period charm.
The 152,660-square foot result is a faithful, and striking, homage to its provenance with 49 rooms and 23 private residences. Thousands of architectural elements were salvaged and recreated to populate the hotel, including a 19th-century elevator, reception desk, stone fireplace, moldings and chandeliers. Even the resort's 247 windows have been placed in their original locations and the exterior color remains the distinctive butter cream yellow.
Gallery: Ocean House
So, as the waiter at the Hotel Christopher on St. Barths explained the evening's specials last week, the langouste, which he translated for us as "lobster," caught my attention. Recalling my travails with French in high school and college, I vaguely remembered that Jean-Paul Sartre writing of a hallucination in which he fled an "homard." The different word for lobster led to the obvious question: "What's the difference?"
Christian Langlade, who owns Hotel Christopher with his wife, Sandrine, explained that homard" refers to the tasty resident of northern waters, the creature I cracked open throughout my childhood – and which tormented the French existentialist. "Langouste," however, is the lobster found in the Caribbean, sans claws yet certainly delightful to chomp.
Disclosure: Hotel Christopher picked up the tab for this trip. Nonetheless, my opinions are my own – they're certainly not for sale at any price.
Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
Aiming at the traditional (and far from the dangerous border) vacation spot of Puerto Vallarta, I stay at the Dreams Villamagna All-Inclusive resort in Nuevo Vallarta – a newer area just north of Puerto Vallarta. The resort is part of the Dreams family of properties that even has another location in Puerto Vallarta. Right on the beach, the comfortable property has picturesque views, a smooth stretch of beach, and enough things to do when you aren't resting under a palapa drinking a fruit filled mixed drink.
A high-end luxury locale Dreams Villamagna is not. Though for young couples and working class families the resort has a lot to offer and certainly will be luxurious in their book. Those who frequent five star luxury resorts around the world will find the place a bit too much on the family-friendly side, without some of the higher-end amenities they might expect, as well as a lack of exclusivity common in shelled-off luxe resort locations.
The innovator behind Aspen Fashion Week, Lisa Johnson had a hunch that a fashion event combining the chic of skiing, winter and resort with the high energy appeal of Aspen would be a huge hit. As the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, managing the destination marketing funds on behalf of the City of Aspen, Lisa worked with major events and productions like ESPN Winter X Games, HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and Luxury Spa Finder's Aspen Spa Day. Also as part of her six year tenure with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Lisa managed the media relations efforts and served as a de facto film commissioner assisting on film, television and commercial productions of all sizes.
"Aspen is the most recognizable mountain town and the undeniable center of the winter lifestyle," Johnson, pictured above, center, with Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson from FEED, tells Luxist. "Most of the major fashion and luxury brands have boutiques here because it caters to a very high-end consumer and has some of the most influential buyers in winter and ski. I strongly felt that Aspen could support a fashion event in which designers and outerwear / ski brands could show collections in a fun, relaxed, high energy format to a consumer with the ability to walk into the stores to buy. And having Aspen Mountain as a backdrop is never a bad setting!" In the gallery are images of Johnson's essential luxuries, from skis to wine to books and bags, along with quotes about what makes them a must.
Filed under: Estates
In a rare offering, an incredibly beautiful private island in Exuma, Bahamas, is being offered for sale at $110 million. Located near David Copperfield's famed Musha Cay, the island, called Cave Cay, features a protected deep-water harbor and marina with floating cement dock system and 35 dock slips, a 2,800 ft. private airstrip and several completed buildings. The island is totally self sufficient with water and power supplied by diesel generators, and features unspoiled beaches, lush vegetation, and elevations of up to 40 ft. capturing breathtaking views. Perched atop one of the highest points on the island is a luxurious owner's estate with 360-degree views and top-of-the-line appointments. Plans are in place for a world-class resort including a large clubhouse and restaurant, marina, shop, and guest houses, though it would of course make the perfect private retreat. Aside from Copperfield, Cave Cay's neighboring island owners are said to include Johnny Depp, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and the increasingly impecunious Nicolas Cage. Christie's Great Estates has the listing.
Gallery: Cave Cay
Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
One look at a picture of the Hotel Capo Spartivento and the answer was "Yes," even though there was no one around to ask us any questions. Set at the end of a lonely road on the southern coast of Sardinia, the Capo Spartivento is the oldest lighthouse on the island and set inside a preserve that allows no general car traffic. It was a home for the lighthouse keeper until the eighties, but millions have spent to make it a destination worthy of getting yourself all the way to the southern coast of Sardinia.
There are four junior suites inside the main buildings, and two larger apartments in an adjacent annex. All of the rooms come with every mod-con you would expect, as well as a chef and service staff. Then there are those unexpectedly fantastic views of the Mediterranean, which you might take in while swimming in the actual Med, or from the less salty confines of the infinity pool. Decisions, decisions...
The hotel is booked in one-week blocks. Which reminds us, whenever someone at the Capo Spartivento gets the idea to ask us "Would you like to come by for a couple of weeks in July?", you have our answer.
Monique, thank you for the tip