Tag Archives: Hotels & Resorts

Royal Suite Burj Al Arab

10 Most Expensive Middle East Hotels

You can be sure that the guests filing out of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai don’t count their pennies. Because according to a new ranking, the luxury property is the most expensive in the region.

After crunching the numbers, editors at luxury-hotels.com came up with a ranking that lists the most expensive hotels in the Middle East based on room rates during the month of November when hotels post the highest average daily rates.

At the Burj Al Arab, instantly recognizable from a distance for its sail-like design, the minimum room rate is $1,928, making it the most expensive hotel in the region.

Prices reflect the cheapest available rate for a double room between November 1 and 30.

Rounding out the top three spots is the Al Maha (Dubai) at $1,776 and Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman) at $1,330.

The list shows that Dubai – the city of superlatives, where opulence comes to bask – is home to the most expensive hotel rooms, dominating the top 10 list with eight addresses.

 

Looking to travel to the Middle East? Here are the hotels that will set you back the most:

Claridge’s Christmas Tree Gets Apple Makeover

Claridge’s Christmas Tree Gets Apple Makeover

One of the world’s most famous Christmas trees will be getting an Apple makeover this year… Luxury London hotel Claridge’s announced last week that its annual Christmas tree will be designed this year by Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, and Marc Newson. Both Ive and Newson are currently at Apple Inc.

Widely recognized as two of the world’s most influential designers, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Sir Jony Ive is the designer of Apple products such as the MacBook Air, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, while Marc Newson, CBE, has worked with some of the most prestigious brands in the world and is currently Brand Ambassador for Qantas Airways and Designer for Special Projects at Apple. Newson is particularly remembered for the Lockheed Lounge, one of our favorites here.

Interestingly, news reports reveal that Ive and Newson are also long-time friends of the legendary Mayfair hotel. Well, the hotel’s Christmas tree has become a seasonal landmark and draws both visitors and Londoners alike to admire its festive design.

This is the seventh year that Claridge’s has invited a favorite guest to design the tree in their own unique style, with Paul Jackson, Claridge’s General Manager commenting that, “Christmas has always been a truly special time of year at Claridge’s and we are delighted to welcome our friends Jony and Marc to spread their legendary creative magic this year. We truly believe their innovative spirit and ground-breaking approach will make this year’s annual tradition one to remember for our guests.”

The tree will be unveiled in Claridge’s lobby on Friday, November 18, 2016.

Karl Lagerfeld with Barbie

Karl Lagerfeld Launches Own Hotel Brand

Now you can move yourself into Karl Lagerfeld’s vision because he is launching his own hotel brand.

After high fashion, short films, his own Barbie doll (pictured top) and editorial magazine spreads, the creative director of Chanel and Fendi is making a grand but perhaps predictable leap into the hotel industry with an international hospitality brand that will bear his name.

Karl Lagerfeld Hotels & Resorts will include hotels, residential properties, restaurants and private clubs.

The venture into hotels is in partnership with Brandmark Collective BV.

The move comes as little surprise given The Kaiser’s lengthy list of design collaborations with luxury hotels.

One of the most hotly anticipated hotel openings of 2017, for instance, is the Karl Lagerfeld Hotel in Macau, which he has designed in its entirety.

Part of Lisboa Palace, the Karl Lagerfeld Hotel will be comprised of 270 guestrooms and suites. We were really hoping he would call it simply The Karl but it may yet happen.

The palatial resort will also house a wing designed by another iconic fashion label, Versace, with the Palazzo Versace Macau.

All told, the destination resort will house 2,000 hotel rooms, Michelin-starred restaurants, a retail mall, wedding pavilion and multi-purpose theater. The resort will also feature 700 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines.

Lagerfeld has also been tapped to lend his impeccable taste and vision to design luxury suites and hotel interiors around the world.

At the recently reopened Ritz Paris, Lagerfeld designed the Coco Chanel suite, paying homage to one of the hotel’s most famous residents with Asian lacquer, gilded mirrors and the simple pairing of black and white.

Other hotel design collaborations include the Sofitel So Singapore and the Patrick Hellmann Schlosshotel in Berlin.

Club Med Woos China with Tai Chi, Mahjong

Club Med Woos China with Tai Chi, Mahjong

Tai chi, mahjong and karaoke are on the menu alongside more traditional offerings such as sailing at Club Med’s new resort on the Chinese island of Hainan, as the French holiday group – now Chinese-owned – adapts its European formula for the market.

The all-inclusive village near the resort town of Sanya is the company’s fourth in China, and it is in talks to open around 15 more in the next four years.

It is something of a reversal of how firms usually target Chinese travellers, with Club Med seeking to bring its model to tourists within the Middle Kingdom, rather than draw them to other countries.

On a 12-hectare (30-acre) beachside estate complete with multiple pools, the emblematic “Gentils Organisateurs” or “GOs” – “Gentle Organisers” – recreate the tried and true Club Med recipe of sports activities, supervised childcare, and unlimited food and drink.

On a stretch of sand dotted with huts and palm trees, Shu Qi, a polo-shirted Beijinger in his fifties, admired the ocean with his elderly parents, wife and three-year-old son.

“It’s a change from crowded beaches! It’s ideal for families,” he said, noting how those near downtown Sanya were notoriously swarmed and often plagued by noisy construction.

Shu discovered Club Med while visiting the Maldives. “It’s very practical, as the price is all-inclusive with meals, and the international atmosphere is good for the children,” he said.

The cheapest of the 384 rooms available at the new Hainan site go for 2,300 yuan ($340) a night.

Club Med CEO Henri Giscard d’Estaing, son of the former French president Valery, told AFP: “We’re aiming at a high-end clientele, a portion of whom have already experienced Club Med while abroad.”

Exile Vacation

Once a place of exile, Hainan island, China’s southernmost province, has become a popular tourist destination, particularly in winter.

In a country where family remains important but workers’ annual holiday quotas are often limited, “the French concept of vacation villages meets the needs of the Chinese very well”, said Qian Jiannong, vice president of Chinese conglomerate Fosun, which bought Club Med last year.

After establishing its first winter sports village in China in 2010, Club Med set up shop amid the stunning karst scenery of Guilin, before opening a beach vacation village on an island in the Pearl River delta between Hong Kong and Macau.

Now the country is Club Med’s biggest market outside France, with some 200,000 clients expected this year and forecasting annual growth of 20 percent.

After criss-crossing the globe to collect trophy selfies at major sites, some well-off Chinese travellers are now turning towards more relaxed staycations.

How Club Med is Wooing China

In this picture taken on October 11, 2016 tourists enjoy the pool side at the Club Med resort in Sanya. Almost two years after being bought out by Chinese investment fund Fosun, the holiday resort French group Club Med tries to import its recipes on a promising Chinese market, where a growing upper middle-class now discovers the concept – still very new in Chinese society – of holiday resorts. © NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP

A Chinese hotel industry overcrowded with establishments that all look alike and designed for business clientele has left Club Med an opportunity, said Giscard d’Estaing. But it faces rivalry from competitors, both foreign – such as France’s Pierre & Vacances, owner of Center Parcs – and domestic.

Sanya tourism was “a very particular seasonal and regional market” Xiao Yimin, research director at Shanghai Fosea Capital, told AFP, adding that Club Med’s success there “doesn’t reflect the maturity of the whole Chinese market, but only a huge concentration of family travelling in one place at seasonal times”.

With outbound tourism growth slowing, competition between providers within China for middle class tourists will increase, he added, and the future might not be as rosy.

Karaoke Rooms

Club Med has sought to adapt to local tastes. In Sanya, there are seven karaoke rooms – always fully booked – and three mah-jong parlors, as well as a 24-hour noodle bar, and tai chi lessons have been developed to appeal to people in their 30s who rarely practice the discipline.

Clients are around two-thirds mainland Chinese, and the rest primarily South Korean or Taiwanese. Under the coconut trees, multi-generational family clans gather as well as couples spoiling their only child without dropping their smartphones.

Families are initially “reluctant to let their kids go off alone to activities, and when they see a GO sit down at their their table, they find it inappropriate”, but soon adapt, said Rachel Mondre, head of customer services.

Tanning, too, is out of the question for the Chinese, who have a traditional preference for pale skin. The group faces other cultural challenges, acknowledged Jason Wen, a tai chi teacher who works at the village.

“People in China are not used to the concept of holiday resorts,” he said. “Club Med might bring progressively a change, but it will be a slow, very slow process.”

Belmond Villa San Michele Launches Inferno tour

Belmond Villa San Michele is launching an immersive Inferno tour of Florence, Italy, as the premiere of the film draws closer. If you’ve always wanted a starring role in a conspiracy theory film set against the breathtaking backdrop of Tuscany and Florence, this looks a good bet. Hotel guests are be able to experience the adventures of the movie’s main characters – Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) and Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones) – firsthand.

The tour will have you go around the city unraveling mysteries and interpreting hidden meanings in works of art. Through secret passageways, palazzi, galleries, and landmarks you will search for clues to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, you can also do what everyone else does and be astonished at the exquisite Florentine architecture, including Badia Florentina, where the movie’s story begins. Your journey will continue to the Palazo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, and the Baptistery of Saint John.

The ‘Inferno tour’ aims to intrigue travellers who want to discover the city and its protagonists of the past, like Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari. The three-hour guided tour is priced at $393, excluding museum tickets.

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Set in the hillside of Tuscany, Belmond Villa San Michele is a calm sanctuary above the bustling city below. The building is a restored 15th century monastery, decorated with frescos, ancient carvings and a façade attributed to Michelangelo. Rich history aside, the hotel also has a panoramic outdoor swimming pool with a view of the city of Florence, terraced Italian gardens, and an award-winning Italian cooking school.

For more information on Belmond Villa San Michele, visit www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence.

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French ski lodge La Bouitte in the French Alps © La Bouitte, Relais & Chateaux

Relais & Chateaux Welcomes 21 Newcomers

Relais & Chateaux touts itself as the standard-bearer for the hotel and restaurant industry, much like the Michelin label. Another 21 properties and restaurants will be able to hang the coveted fleur de lys symbol, designating membership to the group.

The shortlisted properties are all independent and must adhere to distinct criterias characterized as “the soul of the innkeeper,” “celebration of the senses”, and “the art of living”.

The newcomers to the Relais & Chateaux club hail from the US, Colombia, France, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, China, Japan and New Zealand.

Eric Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City at his restaurant in New York May 16, 2016. © TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

Eric Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City at his restaurant in New York May 16, 2016.
© TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

The latest New York addition, Chef Eric Ripert’s restaurant Le Bernardin, extended its acclaim beyond the three Michelin star it holds. The upscale restaurant regularly tops New York’s best eats lists for its seafood and is one of the hottest tables in town for both locals and tourists alike.

Bread Crusted Red Snapper Saffron “Fideos” Chorizo in Smoked Sweet Paprika Sauce at Le Bernardin © Shimon & Tammar

Bread Crusted Red Snapper Saffron “Fideos” Chorizo in Smoked Sweet Paprika Sauce at Le Bernardin
© Shimon & Tammar

 

Over in France, an alpine ski lodge located in the heart of the Trois Vallees, is the latest chalet to gain admittance into the group. Boasting three Michelin stars, the Hotel Restaurant La Bouitte in the French Alps is a luxury ski lodge designed to reflect its surroundings, with luxurious furnishings set off against rustic wood beams and flooring.

Father and son duo Rene and Maxime Meilleur have also made the country inn one of France’s premier dining destinations for dishes like “veal à la Savoyarde” with cheese polenta and creamy sauce.

Wharekauhau Lodge and Country Estate, New Zealand © Courtesy of Wharekauhau

Wharekauhau Lodge and Country Estate, New Zealand
© Courtesy of Wharekauhau

 

In New Zealand, The Wharekauhau Lodge & Country Estate, a property set on a sheep farm, was given its membership card for offering guests an indulgent stay in a bucolic setting with forests, lakes and rivers.

And over in Japan, travelers looking to stay at an authentic ‘ryokan’ or traditional Japanese inn may want to consider Nishimuraya Honkan in Hyogo which also received Relais & Chateaux’s stamp of approval. With a heritage that stretches back 150 years and seven generations, the inn offers a peaceful retreat amongst bamboo forests and hot springs.

The ryokan also serves traditional kaiseki, a Japanese tasting menu made up of several small plates.

For more Relais & Chateaux properties visit https://www.relaischateaux.com.

White Desert Hotel Reopens Antarctica

White Desert Hotel Reopens Antarctica

Luxury can be found in some of the most unexpected places, including Antarctica, which for the last 10 years has played host to an outpost of the high life called White Desert. Here you’ll find heated domes, fur throw blankets, gourmet meals and once-in-a-lifetime encounters with Emperor penguins.

To mark its 10th anniversary, the White Desert hotel in Antarctica has undergone a complete overhaul in its ongoing quest to bring a dash of upscale creature comforts to a place devoid of even the basics.

The aforementioned heated dome pods shelter guests from the bitter cold (it is a balmy 15 °C, maximum), sleep them in plush double beds, and serve up gourmet meals prepared by a professional chef who cooks for a Formula 1 team when she’s not in the Antarctic.

White Desert Hotel Reopens Antarctica

Sleeping Pods at the White Desert Antarctica

It is of course quite a feat to try to import luxury to a place that can legitimately be called the middle of nowhere.

But dining chairs are warmed by fur throws, beds are backed by decorative fabric and bamboo headboards, floors are hardwood, and amenities such as hot showers, sustainable toiletries and writing desks help guests temporarily forget that they’re at the edge of the world. Not that you ever want to forget that you are living beyond the edge of what is possible for humans.

Items for the refurbishment were flown in from Cape Town but what is more impressive is what they fly out of Antarctica, to keep the place pristine. The White Desert hotel claims to have zero impact on the environment there, which means it takes some pretty extreme measures. All structures are temporary and waste of all sorts is flown away from the continent, including human waste of course. Most of the power to keep things running here is from renewable sources and the company is an accredited CarbonNeutral venture.

Even before it underwent its makeover, the property’s uniqueness has also attracted the likes of Prince Harry and Bear Grylls.

White Desert Hotel Reopens Antarctica

A dining Room at White Desert Antarctica

Activities in this final frontier include ice climbing, trekking the otherworldly landscape, exploring ice caves, visits to the Geographic South Pole – the lowest point on earth – and encounters with colonies of Emperor penguins. Thousands of them.

The hotel debuts its new look in November and, given that Antarctica is supposedly the latest destination of choice for the well-heeled. Due to harsh weather conditions, it is only open for two months, November and December.

Seven to 11-night itineraries cost €64,000 ($71,500).

White Desert Hotel Reopens Antarctica

A Room at White Desert Antarctica

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

6 Luxury Hotels Opening 2016

With numerous hotels set to welcome guests as we venture into the tail end of 2016, we thought we would bring you up to date with a round up of six establishments everyone is anticipating, starting with the most obvious of course.

Trump International HotelTrump International Hotel, Washington DC

The Republican presidential candidate opened his latest hotel earlier this week in Washington DC. The Trump International Hotel sits on what was the Old Post Office Pavilion that is considered a historical landmark. The $200 million hotel is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is connected to the White House and the United States Capitol. While the hotel was originally slated to be completed in 2018, it seems that developers have been pushing the project ahead to be ready in time for the US election in November.

Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc Miami Beach

With actor Robert De Niro as his partner, chef Nobu Matsuhisa will open the doors to his third hotel later this week. Located at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort, the hotel was designed by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group. Boasting 206 guest rooms and suites, the interior design was inspired by natural materials that bring to mind a Japanese beach house in the middle of Miami. Nobu Hospitality also operates Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and Nobu Hotel City of Dreams in Manila, Philippines.

Four Seasons Hotel New York DowntownGuest room at the Four Seasons New York Downtown

This will be the second Four Seasons hotel in the Tribeca district and is dubbed the little sister to the flagship New York property in Midtown. The hotel will open in the Tribeca district, a short stroll from the new World Trade Center, Wall Street and the Soho neighborhood and serve as a dual residential and hotel property. The 185 rooms are designed by Yabu Pushelberg. Dinner will be served by Wolfgang Puck and his CUT steakhouse restaurant and bar.

L’Hotel Barrière Les Neiges Courchevel

The French hotel group is set to open a five-star ski chalet in the French Alps. Featuring 42 alpine-inspired rooms that are made of wood and stone, the accommodation promises luxury. Located in the heart of the Trois Vallées, the largest ski domain in the world, the hotel will also feature a cinema, spa and Fouquet’s brasserie, modeled after the iconic restaurant on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Fouquet’s is also part of the Barrière group.

Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at VoavahFour Seasons Private Island Maldives

Located on a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve in Baa Atoll, Maldives, this luxury hotel and resort is one for those who prefer an ultra-secluded and exclusive private island getaway. The reserve is home to one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and to a globally significant biodiversity. The property, which opens at the end of this year, spans five acres and can accommodate just 22 people in the seven-bedroom beach house. It also comes with a dive center, spa and 62-foot superyacht.

Hilton Bali Resort

Bali is set to get a new sprawling luxury resort destination under the Hilton brand. Perched on a 40-meter high cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Hilton Bali Resort will feature 408 suites and villas, a secluded beach with designated surf area, spa and nail salon, seven restaurants including Japanese, Balinese and Italian cuisines, indoor tennis courts, and open-air amphitheater, gardens, conference centers and chapel for destination weddings.

The Parisian Macao

Parisian Macao Opens Doors on Cotai Strip

A miniature, condensed version of Paris is to be transplanted in the gambling capital of the world, when The Parisian Macao opens its doors this week.

Not unlike the Paris Las Vegas, The Parisian Macao features a half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower to announce its unmistakably French presence on The Cotai Strip.

The fully integrated property features 3,000 guestrooms and suites, spa, health club, water park, 1,200-seat theater and seven international dining destinations that serve up classic French brasserie fare along with favorite Chinese and Cantonese dishes such as hot pot and dim sum.

The property also features more than 320,000 square feet of retail space designed to evoke the shopping capital of the world and its luxurious avenues such as Avenue Montaigne, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the Champs-Elysées.

Luxury brands include Macau newcomers such as Sonia Rykiel, Isabel Marant, Repetto and Carven.

Developer Sands China Ltd. claims that despite the blinding glow emanating from the 6,600 light bulbs illuminating the tower, efforts were made to build as green a resort as possible: 100 percent of the lighting is LED, says Sands China.

It’s the latest splashy luxury resort to open in Macau.

Last month saw the opening of the long-awaited $4.1 billion Wynn Palace, themed after flowers. The glittering property features 1,700 rooms, an artificial lake, and large-scale floral displays such as a Ferris wheel studded with 103,000 flowers.

Last week, Macau’s monthly gaming revenues rose for the first time in two years, thanks to the launch of multiple mega-resorts.

Last year, Studio City Macau opened to much fanfare with celebrities like Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio appearing in a promotional video for the property.

The Parisian Macao opens September 13.

Spreading Good Ideas: TED Partners Marriott Hotels

Marriott Hotels is partnering with TED, the organization devoted to spreading worthwhile ideas, so that guests staying at any of its hotels can get inspired.

The partnership means that anyone staying at a Marriott will soon find himself or herself surrounded by TED content, from quotes and blogs to recordings of famous TED talks.

“We know that travelers today look for more in a hotel and we are bringing to life new innovations that help elevate guests’ stay to memorable experiences,” said Matthew Carroll, Vice President and Global Brand Manager of Marriott Hotels. “TED content does not only entertain, but educates and engages on topics that are relevant to our guests.”

As well as direct access to curated TED content via in-room entertainment or the hotel’s wi-fi, Marriot will be hosting live TED events in Seattle, London, Dubai, Bangkok and Santiago, starting this fall.

Marriott Hotels partners TED.

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach Wants to Welcome You

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach is finally ready for business. The latest hotel from actor Robert De Niro and chef Nobu Matsuhisa has officially started taking online reservations ahead of its September 16 opening. In a somewhat underwhelming move though, the hotel has timed this announcement to clash with Apple’s latest product reveals.

Situated at Eden Roc Miami Beach, the new Nobu hotel complements rather than replaces the existing Nobu Miami Beach restaurant that has been drawing in food obsessives for nearly two decades. The hotel will offer 206 guest rooms including 36 junior suites and three penthouse suites, plus four pools, a spa and 24-hour in-room dinning. We’re not sure if that in-room dining option is via the famed restaurant’s kitchens.

Of the new venture, also backed by film producer Meir Teper and Australian businessman James Packer, chef Nobu Matsuhisa said: “Since opening my restaurant in Miami Beach 16 years ago, I have felt a connection to this city and the people. Now with the Nobu Hotel, I feel like I have a new home.”

To make a reservation, visit the hotel’s website which is now officially online. Somewhat confusingly, there are actually two hotels here, the Nobu Hotel and also Eden Roc Resort.

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

Robert De Niro and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. © Erik Kabik

 

Nobu Hotel Miami, 4525 Collins Avenue Miami Beach FL 33140 

Macau gaming 2016

Macau Gaming Ends Two-Year Slump

Macau’s monthly gaming revenues ended a more than two-year slump last week, rising for the first time in 26 months, helped by multiple mega-resorts launching in the casino enclave.

A corruption crackdown by Chinese president Xi Jinping and a slowdown in the economy since mid-2014 have led to a plunge in revenues in the Asian gambling capital.

China’s clampdown drove away many mainland high-rollers who had propped up the VIP sector in the former Portuguese colony, which is now under pressure from Beijing to diversify away from gambling.

Casino operators are hoping a slew of huge mass-market hotel and casino complexes, which offer everything from fine dining and malls to theme park rides and shows, will make up for the shortfall.

The push towards more reliance on the mass market seems to have worked, according to analysts, with monthly gaming revenue for August rising 1.1 percent to 18.84 billion patacas ($2.36 billion), compared to the same month in 2015.

“The growth is driven by an increase in tourist arrivals and a better mass market,” gaming analyst Aaron Fischer told AFP. “We’ve reached the bottom and things should start to improve next year.”

The $4 billion Wynn Palace, complete with a giant lake, musical fountains and cable cars, opened in August.

Recent launches by Galaxy and Studio City have also upped the non-casino element, including everything from river rapids to an elevated figure-of-eight ferris wheel.

Las Vegas Sands will open its new pleasure palace, The Parisian, in September, featuring a half-size Eiffel Tower.

But despite the promising monthly rise, accumulated revenue for the year until August fell 9.1 percent at 144.39 billion patacas, compared to the same period in 2015.

“This year we may still see a decline for the full-year gaming revenues, but next year we should see an increase,” said Fischer, head of consumer and gaming research for CLSA. “It will be largely driven by the mass market, and the addition of the new properties.”

He predicted monthly low single-digit growth for the rest of the year as the Wynn and Parisian openings have a positive impact on the fourth quarter.

Macau overtook Las Vegas as the world’s casino capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002. It still leads its US counterpart despite the downturn.

Faena Hotel Miami,best design hotel by Virtuoso

Top 10 Luxury Hotels 2016: Virtuoso Selection

Luxury travel experts have christened a sumptuous villa set amongst the olive groves and lemon trees of Puglia, Italy their hotel of the year.

Winners of Virtuoso’s 10th annual Best of the Best awards, representing the standardbearers in luxury accommodations, were revealed at a conference in Las Vegas this week.

Taking the top title of “Hotel of the Year” is Italy’s Borgo Egnazia, a collection of white villas designed to evoke a traditional Apulian village, complete with piazza and alleyways.

The sprawling resort also features a championship 18-hole golf course, beach clubs and a renowned spa. Rooms are decorated in rich hues of cream, white and beige for a calming, restful effect.

It’s not the first time the Borgo Egnazia has been recognized within the industry. The hotel has also been awarded by Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Tatler and Leading Hotels of the World.

The Faena Hotel in Miami, Florida, was named best design hotel by Virtuoso

The Faena Hotel in Miami, Florida, was named best design hotel by Virtuoso

For the awards, Virtuoso surveyed their network of 390 luxury travel agencies and their 11,400 travel advisors around the world. Membership is invitation-only. Properties chosen belong to the group’s own network of 1,200 hotels, resorts, villas and private islands, located in 100 countries.

“Borgo Egnazia and the area of Puglia is one of the exciting new destinations in Italy that one could ever encounter,” said Annette Sordini of Protravel International, a Virtuoso agency.

“The hotel has an amazing ambiance, warm and friendly people, incredible food and a spiritual spa.”

Here are the other winners:

  • Best achievement in design: Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Florida
  • Best culinary experience: The Farmhouse Restaurant, Farmhouse Inn, California
  • Best bar: The New York Edition, New York
  • Best Family Program: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Best Spa: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy
  • Most Innovative Guest Experience: Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
  • Sustainable Tourism Leadership: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • One to Watch: Hotel Eden Rome, Dorchester Collection, Rome, Italy
  • Hotelier of the Year: José Silva – Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, Paris, France
Top 10 Hotels 2016 Sofitel

Top 10 Most Luxurious Hotels 2016

Ranking high-end hotels for luxury is a tough job but Hotels.com has just fearlessly come up with a top 10 list. It comes to us by way of the wire services but it goes to show that rest and relaxation matter more than top-notch dining and glittering fixtures.

Take New York City for example. If you’re in town for business and want a place where a good night’s sleep is all but guaranteed, consider booking a room at the Hotel Sofitel New York. Of course, it was ranked one of the top 10 luxury hotels by users of Hotels.com. Yes, the users of Hotels.com exhort you to try to legendary SoBeds and actually, so do we!

In the travel site’s “Loved by Guests Awards,” the top 10 hotels achieved near-perfect scores from guests for offering luxurious hotel experiences that include designer toiletries and deep sleep for the weary.’

The Sofitel in New York, for instance, is singled out for their SoBeds which are so popular among guests that they’re sold at the Sofitel boutique, notes Booking.com.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando also received high marks for spoiling guests with luxurious in-room amenities from Salvatore Ferragamo that go above and beyond soap and shampoo to include face masks, lip balms, and hand and eye creams.

Topping the list is the W Taipei in Taiwan, which draws repeat guests for its central location and contemporary decor and is particularly popular among younger travelers.

“We had a great time staying at the W,” reads one review. “Stylish and modern furnishings, very conveniently located near shopping/restaurants, useful amenities such as 24 hr facilities for exercise and swimming.”

Here are the top-ranked luxury hotels according to Hotels.com:

4 Luxury Asian Hotels: Banyan Tree X SilkAir

Asia has a lot to offer, and if you’re planning a trip to this very diverse continent (which you shouldn’t even think of as a single place), count yourself lucky. In a partnership with SilkAir, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has rolled out a range of promotions to seven idyllic properties in four iconic Asian destinations. Think of it as less planning on your part: the package includes full-service SilkAir flights, exclusive discounts of up to 30%, complimentary upgrades, dining offers and experiences at spas and Laguna Golf Clubs.

Banyan Tree Lijiang at Lijiang, China

banyan-tree-silkair-lijiang

Luxe meets tradition in Banyan Tree Lijiang, where once can bask in China’s history while taking a retreat located 2,400 meters above sea level and framed by the majestic Snow Jade Dragon Mountain. One can pick from a Garden Suite, Mountain View Suite, or Jet Pool Villas, and indulge in activities like yoga or play tennis on outdoor courts. In fact, one is reconnected with nature in this hotel – Lijiang isn’t a UNESCO heritage site for nothing.

Rates begin at $283 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 30% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and complimentary upgrades when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid until 30 March 2017.

http://www.banyantree.com/en/cn-china-lijiang

Banyan Tree Phuket at Phuket, Thailand

banyan-tree-silkair-phuket

Phuket has increasingly a spot on many’s travel itineraries in recent years – and rightly so. Breath-taking coastal views, pristine waters and stretches of glisteneing sand can all be found at the charming Bang Tao Bay, a stone’s throw from Banyan Tree Phuket. Opt between a variety of Pool Villas, ranging from the Banyan Lagoon Pool Villa to the Grand Two Bedroom Villa. In between dipping into pools and long, leisurely walks down the shores, one can indulge in cooking classes, golf classes, and even a turtle club for children.

Rates begin from $627 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 25% are offered on F&B, best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and golf green fees at Laguna Golf Phuket when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid until 20 December 2016.

http://www.banyantree.com/en/ap-thailand-phuket-resort

Banyan Tree Lang Co at Lang Co, Vietnam

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Picture dramatic vistas spread across a rugged landscape of unspoiled nature. Nestled in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage sites, eco-diverse mountains and spectacular national parks, Banyan Tree Lang Co is an all-pool villa resort. Visitors can stay in a Lagoon Pool Villa, Sanctuary Pool Villa, Beach Pool Villa and Seaview Hill Pool Villas of up to three-bedrooms in size. It is not all just pools, however; this hotel also boasts meeting rooms, a Laguna Sea Sports Centre and Marine Lab, as well as a gym and yoga pavilion. Having stayed at this location ourselves, we recommend it heartily and whole-heartedly. Although, as with all Banyan Trees, the fact that the best restaurant is the signature Saffron (Thai cuisine) is a little jarring.

Rates begin from $258 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 20% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments, gallery products and golf green fees at Laguna Golf Lang Co, when presenting the boarding pass on arrival. This offer is valid for bookings until 15 August 2016 and for stays until 22 December 2016.

http://www.banyantree.com/en/ap-vietnam-lang-co

Angsana Maison Souvannaphoum at Luang Prabang, Laos

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Steeped in old-world charm, one is surrounded by breath-taking natural landscapes as they seemingly take a trip back in time. More than just vintage charm, however, the hotel also has royal origins: it once belonged to Laos’ four-time Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma. Live in classic French colonial interiors in the Garden Wing, Residence Twin to the Maison Room. Enjoy spas, al fresco dining at the Elephant Blanc restaurant and in-room dining while on stay.

Rates begin from $120 per night, inclusive of breakfast. Discounts of up to 30% are offered on best available rates, spa treatments and gallery products, plus a complimentary traditional Laos set menu dinner with a minimum stay of two nights). This offer is valid for bookings until 31 August 2016 and for stays until 23 December 2016.

http://www.angsana.com/en/ap-laos-maison-souvannaphoum

Terms and conditions apply.

3 Quirky Holiday Fitness Classes

A vacation is the chance to create new habits and new regimes that we hope to follow long after the vacation is over (oh how naïve we can be!). Some hotels know just how good we are at following through with these newly cultivated rituals and have given guests a helping hand this summer. Far from a holiday of pure indulgences, these classes (open to guests and visitors) aim to improve one’s health and well-being. We take a look at three (or maybe five if you really want to be precise) quirky fitness classes to try on your next holiday.

Rooftop hula hooping classes at the Berkeley

Starting September 28, those in London can look forward to the return of the hula hooping master classes at the Berkeley Health Club & Spa located within the luxury hotel in Knightsbridge. Limited to four hula-hoopers per lesson, the weekly 60-minute classes will see HulaFit take guests through a rigorous workout that will help to burn 600 calories (per session). Of course, guests will also be able to enjoy the Berkeley hotel pool that overlooks Hyde Park and Knightsbridge.

Yoga at Kimpton Hotels

Among its many fitness offerings this summer, the Kimpton Hotels will offer rooftop yoga, full moon yoga and thug yoga at three of its hotels in America. At the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix, the hotel will partner with Sutra Studios for a rooftop yoga series that will take the action outdoors and make things a tad more scenic. With candlelight and DJ tunes, the classes are just another reason to stretch out under the stars. Over at the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel in Miami, “full moon yoga” classes will be in full swing, held under the moonlit sky, which makes for a session that brings you closer to nature. For those looking for something a little more upbeat, the Kimpton Sky Hotel in Aspen is limbering up to host a series of classes that combine yoga, hip-hop and beer. Dubbed Thug Yoga (yes, it is really a thing), the classes will see the Aspen Brewing Company serve up refreshing drinks at the hotel’s pool deck.

Wellness Tree House by Bodyism at Amilla Fushi

This is one of the latest partnerships between London-based Bodyism and the Amilla Fushi Hotel in the Maldives. The health and wellness experts incorporate the Clean and Lean program it is known for with a mix of exercise and relaxation techniques. As guests enjoy their stay in a one-bedroom wellness tree house, they will be greeted with a wellness consultation, daily spa treatments along with the chance to hang out by the room’s infinity pool as you look out over the tree canopy. Twelve meters above the ground, the accommodation is obviously right in the heart of nature. Aside from being cool, the idea is to help guests rest and relax.

Il Sereno Lago di Como Opens by Lake Como

Il Sereno Lago di Como Opens by Lake Como

By the tranquil banks of Lake Como’s eastern shore sits ll Sereno Lago di Como, a newly-opened five-star boutique residence that will also mark the first new hotel by the lake in decades.

Designed by prolific Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, the Il Sereno is located a convenient 6km away from the center of Como and a mere 50 minutes from Milan. It joins its neighbor Villa Pliniana by the same lake and Le Sereno Hotel and Villas in St. Barthelemy to be the third Sereno Hotels property.

Merging both contemporary design and quiet elegance, the compound houses a private beach, infinity pool and gardens designed by botanist Patrick Blanc, so you can expect total serenity amidst nature. At the helm of the Ristorante Berton is decorated Milan restauranteur and Michelin star chef Andrea Berton, who will serve up a menu inspired by the region.

“Sereno Hotels has perfected the art of providing luxury service in a relaxed manner and we look forward to introducing our brand of service to Lake Como. Guests will have access to not only the best in design, amenities and cuisine, but will also find an attention to detail that is unrivalled,” said Samy Ghachem, Managing Director of Sereno Hotels.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Il Sereno Lago di Como Dibuka di Sisi Danau Como

Aegean Idylls: 5 Greek Luxury Hotels

Oh, beautiful Greece. Home to some of the world’s most mesmerizing beaches, foundation stone of the Olympics and birthplace of Western civilization, and that enchanting blue-and-white architecture scene that you might have on your very own desktop right now. Greece is a place made of dreams and we were inspired by this report and this list to look up more exotic and exclusive places to stay in the Aegean Islands. Whether you’re admiring the whitewashed architecture of Santorini or combing the party shores of Mykonos, there’s so much to do. We round up our favorite hotels, each hailing from a different area of Greece. Take your pick.

Paros

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Name: Yria Hotel Resort

Where: Approximately 4km from the airport and 3km from Paroikia town, it is located at the heart of the bay of Parasporos, west of Paros island.

What: Its rustic Greek island charm meets luxury boutique hotel with this archetypal Cycladic building. Nestled among an oasis of lush greenery, it is a mere stone’s throw away from the Parasporos beach.

Services: One can indulge in full relaxation here: a library lounge, the Nefeli restaurant (serving Mediterranean cuisine), the Selini bar, spa, gym and a gallery (selling a selection of souvenirs and accessories) aim to fully offer such an experience.

Types of Rooms: From Superior Rooms (housing two), to two-storey maisonettes (housing four), to The Luxury Villa, a mansion of four master bedrooms.

Price: €229 to €4,200 ($252 to $4,630)

http://www.yriahotel.gr/overview/

 

Mykonos

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Name: Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort

Where: Barely three miles from Mykonos Town, the hotel is situated on one of the island’s most famous beaches, Ayios Yiannis.

What: Picture Cycladic architecture of whitewashed buildings and cobbled paths – the five-star beachfront hotel is one that aims to redefine the essence of romance.

Services: For the ultimate luxury Greek getaway: open plan ‘SPA Bathrooms’, Althea Spa with Greek-inspired massages, tennis and squash courts, stone-built amphitheater for yoga sessions, fitness center and two restaurants.

Types of Rooms: Take your pick from an array of Garden or Sea View rooms, replete with private pools or jacuzzis of varying sizes.

Price: €245 to €2,950 ($270 to $3,252)

http://www.mykonosgrand.gr/

 

Amorgos

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Name: Aegialis Hotel & Spa

Where: Located in a peaceful bay, the Cycladic architecture is flanked by two of the island’s most beautiful beaches on both sides.

What: Touted as “the jewel of Amogos”, the hotel believes in providing a unique experience of authentic local life, and is designed to respond to one’s need for silence, peace and soul-refreshing.

Services: Experience Greek life in the way of an organic vegetable garden for picking, cooking lessons and art exhibitions in the Ambrosia Gallery restaurant, as well as facilities from the Lalon Idor Spa (indoor heated seawater pool, gym, jacuzzi, sauna and hairdressing salon among others) are at your beck and call.

Types of Rooms: From Superior Modern (housing two), to Family Suite (housing four), two-storey Business Suite (housing four), Honeymoon Suite to the grand Presidential Suite (housing four).

Price: €235 to €992 ($259 to $1,093)

http://amorgos-aegialis.com/

 

Sifnos

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Name: Elies Resorts

Where: Situated right in the middle of Vathi (a long golden beach), it is approximately 10km from the capital of Apollonia.

What: A top-class boutique hotel, Elies Resorts is a 50,000m2 area of 32 dwellings, and offers customized services and high-end facilities befitting of its status.

Services: There’s lots to do: massage rooms, hot tubs, aromatherapies, gym, tennis court, art shop, conference room and two cocktail bars are available on site, among others.

Types of Rooms: Three types are available: Superior Rooms, Suites and Pool Villas.

Price: Available upon request.

http://www.eliesresorts.com/#!

 

Santorini

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Name: Andronis Luxury Suites

Where: Dreams come true here. On the edge of the cliff and built within the jigsaw of houses in Oia, it is near the great Aegean sea and volcanic islets of Santorini.

What: They know you’re seeking the dream life. It is an understated oasis of elegance consisting of 27 award-winning suites.

Services: From the Mare Sanus Spa (massages, facial therapies and body rituals by award-winning therapists) to dining on a cliff, infinity pools, and the Athena Bar, they’ve got it covered.

Types of Rooms: We’re looking at Premier Suites (housing two) to Cave Pool Suites (housing two), White House (housing two) and Sunset Villas (housing two).

Price: €734 to €3,300 ($809 to $3,638)

http://www.andronisexclusive.com/en/Andronis-Luxury-Suites-727.htm

 

All prices are dependent on season.

5 Romantic Experiences to Win Your Heart

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, marriage looms large in the minds of many couples. For others, it is the state of the marriage that might benefit from something extra special. Here’s a look at five original spots to pop the question, as they say, or just to take a chance on romance, whatever the date or status of your relationship may be. Seriously though, even if you’ve missed the boat this year (it is quite late in the day after all) all of these experiences can be savored at any time. Yes, the offerings will be different the rest of the year but you can recreate the magic with a little effort – we are sure that all the hotels and establishments listed will be happy to work with you on an exotic escapade. Speaking of which…

An exotic escapade to the Savoy Resort & Spa, Seychelles

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s day than with a romantic trip to a paradise island (pictured top)? Throughout the month of February, the Savoy Resort & Spa is offering a seven-day, five-night package priced at €890. The deal (excluding flights) includes an upgrade to an Ocean View room, a bottle of sparkling wine on arrival, breakfast, and a couple’s spa treatment with a saltwater peel, a Dead Sea mud treatment and a massage. This modern hotel is located on the island of Mahé, just ten minutes from the capital, Victoria.

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In a Chantal Thomass room or a Hermès suite at Le Pradey hotel, Paris, France

Chantal Thomass has designed two rooms (above) at Le Pradey, Paris, a four-star hotel right next to the Tuileries gardens, not far from the Louvre. In line with the designer’s typically baroque style, the rooms take guests back to an era of sumptuous cabarets, with a red and black décor complete with frills and velvet. On the fifth floor, the hotel’s suites have been designed by Hermès. Two different ambiances for a memorable proposal on February 14. The hotel is offering a Valentine’s Day package with one night’s stay, breakfast, a bottle of champagne and roses in the room for €320.

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A historical hotel in Verona, Italy

Just steps away from Verona’s Roman amphitheater, the Palazzo Victoria (above) is a five-star hotel built around medieval frescoes and Roman ruins. In the town famously home to Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet, this stylish hotel is offering a two-night Valentine’s Day stay for two adults priced at €215 per person (approx. $230). The package includes two nights in a Deluxe Double room, an American buffet breakfast and access to the hotel’s fitness suite.

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The Michelin-starred restaurant at Le Bristol hotel, Paris, France

The triple Michelin-starred Epicure restaurant (above), run by Chef Eric Frechon, will be serving up a special Valentine’s Day meal for fans of fine dining. The menu includes premium ingredients such as blue lobster, cooked in a bouillon with claws, infused with ginger, lemongrass and coriander. Scallops accompany caviar from Sologne and Bresse pigeon is prepared with duck foie gras. The meal comes priced at €690 per person, excluding drinks. Le Bristol has also teamed up with the Maison Boucheron jewelry house to offer one lucky Valentine’s diner drawn at random a “Reflet” watch.

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A refreshing road trip in Iceland

Travel agency Island Tours has a four-day long weekend in Iceland (above) from February 12-15. This takes couples to the geothermal village of Hveragerdi, where they’ll stay in a luxury hotel located on the lava field. Couples can then relax in the warm waters of the Fontana Spa at Laugarvatn and bathe in the milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon. The trip costs €762 per person (excluding flights).

Luxury Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France

Top 10 weirdest hotel complaints

Luxury Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France

An overly-handsome waiter, a snoring girlfriend and the sea being too blue are among some of the bizarre complaints made to hotel staff, according to a survey published Monday.

Travel search engine Skyscanner quizzed 400 international hotel workers to draw up a list of the top ten unusual grumbles and diva-like demands.

Other complaints included sheets being too white, ice cream being too cold, the bath being too big and no steak on a vegetarian menu.

One customer asked for a discount after his sleep was disturbed by his snoring girlfriend, while another asked for a refund as his dog had had an unhappy stay.

Staff in a hotel in London’s Mayfair were taken aback when a client bemoaned the lack of an ocean view.

Equally eyebrow raising are some of the requests, including one for a dead mouse. One guest asked for a bowl of crocodile soup, another for a bath of honey while one hungry punter demanded 15 cucumbers a day.

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TOP 10 Most unusual complaints

The sheets are too white
The sea was too blue
Ice cream too cold
Bath was too big
Girlfriend’s snoring kept guest awake
Guest’s dog didn’t enjoy his stay
Hotel had no ocean view (in Mayfair, London)
There was no steak on vegetarian menu
Waiter was too handsome
Mother of groom wasn’t given the honeymoon suite

Aerial view luxury Burj Al Arab

TOP 10 Most unusual hotel requests

One glass of water on the hour every hour, throughout the night
15 cucumbers a day
Toilet to be filled with mineral water
Bath of honey
Sound of goat bells to aid sleep
Only the right legs of a chicken
A dead mouse
Bath of chocolate milk
16 pillows (for single guest)
Crocodile soup