Friday, December 31, 2010

Zagat's Top-Ranked Hotel Restaurants

Have you ever stayed in a hotel that you thought you loved... until you decided to dine in the hotel restaurant, that is? Zagat went to work on a list of restaurants that won't yield the same results—these have expanded menus, specialty offerings, and a list of accolades that set them apart. Just because you are staying in a fine luxury hotel doesn't mean that you're guaranteed the same class of meal, Zagat points out, but they've done the legwork in order for you to avoid the less-than-amazing experiences.

Hotel Restaurant Suggestion #1:
MGM Grand's L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

The MGM Grand's Las Vegas location puts you in the heart of the action, with easy access to nightlife, gambling, spectacular city sights, and entertainment that only Las Vegas can provide. As the MGM Grand puts it, they deliver “Maximum energy. Maximum indulgence. Maximum escape,” and that indulgence can be found on L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon's menu, too. Zagat called the New French cuisine at the MGM Grand hotel restaurant “stunning,” adding that the small-plate dinners are best enjoyed when eaten at a U-shaped bar, where you can see the action in the open kitchen, too.

Hotel Restaurant Suggestion #2:
Four Seasons Hotel Houston's Quattro

It's not just the food at Quattro that made the Four Seasons Hotel Houston's restaurant arrive on Zagat's list, but the price. Quattro is considered the most affordable hotel restaurant on their list, at around $46 per person for dinner. Quattro's dining concept involves a “small plates” meal experience that changes weekly, and one can go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or for their antipasto feast. If you have a taste for Italian favorites, then you might want to indulge in tiger shrimp, expertly-finished risotto, calamari, or the lamb tenderloin.

Hotel Restaurant Suggestion #3:
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills' The Bazaar

Zagat chose The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills for its internationally-known chef working magic in the kitchen: SAAM at the Bazaar by José Andrés is an exciting fixture, but you'll need to be prepared with a slightly higher budget than for Houston's Quattro restaurant. The modern meals at SLS' SAAM employ modern techniques, improving upon traditional-style tastes. As the website describes, “Pristine but not pretentious service guides guests through a memorable evening of innovative fare. Set in an elegant, hidden dining room designed by Philippe Starck, SAAM offers a quiet retreat from the bustle of the Bazaar, where the chef's creations and world-class wines take center stage.” Is your mouth watering yet?

Zagat's other hotel restaurant favorites include T. Cook's, at the Royal Palms Resort and Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona; The Lobby at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills, California; and the Addison at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego. Zagat's full list of luxury hotel restaurants is here, so you can easily locate the restaurant to dine at—and a hotel room to book—when you are planning business travel.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Business Hotels Announced for 2010

Business hotels can satisfy or disappoint, depending on what you get, when you get it, and when you need it. A property in the downtown business / financial district of a city is great, but the best hotels combine thier location with the most sought after amenities to earn high rankings for the top business class hotels.

When comparing the Travel + Leisure lists of 2009 and 2010, one major point of interest does arise: 19 out of the top 29 luxury business hotels that placed in 2010 were not on the list in 2009. The highest concentration of business hotels was in Asia, as opposed to the United States, and this could, reporters conclude, be connected to the shift in recent years as the U.S. struggled with economic changes. That said, while the U.S. had a reduced number of cities topping the list when compared to Asia, there was double the number of hotels on the list from 2009 (5) to 2010 (10).

Beijing has two hotels listed for 2010, which includes the St. Regis Beijing, moving from 15th place in 2009 to an astounding 6th place. Meanwhile, Four Seasons Shanghai put the city of Shanghai on the map after Shanghai didn't even place in the top 25 last year. The Peninsula Hong Kong placed at number 2 on the list, with experts citing service and hi-tech equipped rooms as two reasons why executives regularly return to this luxury business hotel.

In South America, Buenos Aires grabbed three spots on the list, including the Hilton Buenos Aires, which tied for number 15, the Alvear Palace Hotel (no. 22), and the Palacio Duhau. Interestingly, the Hilton Buenos Aires also placed as one of the few hotels providing great value, with rates starting at $250 or less.

And the number 1 hotel? The Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta was ranked the number-one hotel for business travelers, with an overall score of 98.1. The hotel is located with close proximity to business, shopping, and leisure hubs in the city, and its fine positioning surely helped it place on the top business hotel list.

The premier location also happens to have excellent views—just a feature that makes your experience more enjoyable—and also has a house car service that takes guests anywhere within a six-mile radius, free of charge. Besides internet access in the business center, a fitness center, and a daily newspaper, this hotel has a salt-water lap pool, steam rooms, and saunas, plus poolside amenities. And that's not all, if you book it today and complete your stay before 2011 begins, you can get the 3rd Night FREE and experience the hotel in a non-business state-of-mind while ringing in the New Year right there!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hot Holiday Spots for 2011

Travel is picking up! Like anything that involves seasonal activities or deals, there are trends when it comes to travel, and a few places are leading the way for travelers worldwide. Curious about what’s particularly hot for 2011? If you head where tourism is heating up, you can find quality packages, pepped-up service, and nice new activities and monuments, all perfect for families and single travelers alike.

Top Spots for Traveling
New York is one of the most popular spots for traveling in 2011, but the reason for it is somber: next year will be the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The September 11th memorial, with reflecting pools set near the World Trade Center site, is due to be open by the anniversary. Lonely Planet named New York the “number-one city” for Best in Travel 2011, with the publisher’s Robert Reid writing "For all of New York, 11 September 2011 will be a defining moment.”

We can’t forget about London. Always a wonderful spot to visit, it will be more crowded than ever come April 29th. Kate Middleton and Prince William will be getting married on that date--and even are rumored to be inviting some of regular folk to attend--and it’s expected that the nuptials will result in a tourism boom.

"If Charles and Diana got 600,000 people who came into London for that wedding, I could see a million for this one," Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer Guides, said.

And there’s more, too! Alaska is expecting crowds in 2011, because of the success of Sarah Palin’s TLC series Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Australia invited Oprah Winfrey and her most loyal fans to the country, spending $4 million, but they expect to reap the rewards in upcoming seasons. Meanwhile, back in the States, Washington D.C. expects a large gathering when the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is erected at the National Mall. The 28-foot-tall statue will be erected on August 28th, close to where his “I have a dream” speech was given 48 years prior.

There are quite a few options for you for 2011, and now it's a question of trimming down your list--always the hardest part!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Claus Makes a Change to Visit Resorts

Santa Claus might have enjoyed revving up his sleigh and prepping his reindeer to take to the sky, but a modern-day Santa has a lot more options. This year, Santa at the Four Seasons Mauritius gets to make a mega-entrance by sky diving, and last year, he arrived by pirate ship. While Santa definitely makes a lot of visits to luxury spots worldwide in December, it sounds like he never tires of giving travelers a holiday thrill.

There are some variables when it comes to Santa’s visit, though: he doesn’t always know when he’ll arrive, and it varies from year to year. Sometimes, he starts making his first rounds as early as November, and in Brazil and in Scandinavia, he’s likely to arrive on Christmas Eve to do his thing. Other resorts get a visit on Christmas Day itself--perhaps Santa’s second-shift trip?

There are two special appearances by Santa Claus that get rave reviews, year after year. The first is at the Oberoi, on the Red Sea, where Santa skips the reindeer and instead takes his journey by camel. After his caravan arrives at the hotel, Santa starts up a Christmas party in which children and adults alike get into the spirit of the holiday. Oh, and we can’t forget about the stockings filled with holiday cookies!

For those who seek a traditional Christmas with dramatic flair, the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia delivers. With a gentle dusting of snow on the ground, a classic horse-drawn sleigh is brought right up to the door of the hotel. After visitors snap pictures of the fantastic sleigh, they can attend the Gingerbread Ball, a holiday bash, and then check out the life-size sculpture of Santa and his reindeer.

It’s worth traveling to a resort just to see Santa hard at work. Resort and vacation Santas are well-known for their exceptional cheer, and a trip to a hot location come Christmas always needs a few holiday extras to make the holidays feel just as jovial. These Santa Claus luxury hotel drop-ins should do the trick!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shopaholics' Favorite Spots

Do you have a shopaholic in your life? Whether it's you or a "friend" planning a shopping-based vacation, some places are just better for buying. When your pockets are stuffed with gift cards, and you have a vacation coming up to plan, it might be worth checking out some of the best places to shop in the world. Don't set yourself up for disappointment when it comes to international shopping!

Buenos Aires
If you have a thing for leather, then come to Buenos Aires. The Argentinian capital features options galore when it comes to leather goods, like handbags, jackets, shoes, and wallets, and after you pick up something for yourself in the leather market, you can head to designer shops downtown, as well as on Calle Florida and Calle LaValley.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Buenos Aires' Best Hotels include Four Seasons and Caesar Park.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong is far more than an electronics mecca, as evidenced by the Chinese nation's love of labels. The Jade Market located in Yau Ma Tai features 400 stalls stuffed with the good-luck stone, and from there, it's worth visiting the historic Stanley Market for porcelain and silk. And next year? Book a trip to Hong Kong right before Christmas, when you can catch the WinterFest, a duty-free shopping blowout that's warm up your credit cards and leave you with plenty to gift when you return Stateside.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Luxury Hong Kong Hotels vary from the towering to the austere.

Los Angeles
Here's your chance to shop like a celebrity! Go to Rodeo Drive, where every celebrity knows they can get snapped by the paparazzi, and then stop by one of L.A.'s famed outdoor shopping centers. The Grove sells lots of little goodies, while Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade has a funkier atmosphere.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Stay in a hotel fit for a celebrity by choosing one of Los Angeles' top-ranked locations.

The bazaars and souks, the shoes and shawls... Marrakech is a mind-blowing experience for any shopper, even the seasoned type. You'll experience a drastic change of environment, with winding paths and willy-nilly stalls, and then you'll have to dicker for the piece you've got in your sights. Can you handle the bargaining? If that's not to your taste, you can always enlist the most daring of your friends to negotiate your deals.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Marrakech's Best Hotels combine traditional cultural flair with modern convenience.

It's not just the Parisian atmosphere that's romantic, but the deals! Okay, that's debatable, but there's some retail magic in most Parisian shops, from the chocolatier to the boutiques. Set yourself up at a cafe to plot your retail attack, and then visit the shopping spot near Place des Vogses, which is home to shops and galleries. The “can't miss” place in Paris is certainly the 8th arrondissement, with haute couture and fashion houses lining the streets.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Stay in a Parisian palace from this collection of Luxury Hotels.

Take your pick: which shopping destination would you put first on your list?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Real Secret Santa

There's something to be said for Christmas cheer, even in the time of non-denominational parties and generic greetings of "Happy Holidays"! Secret Santa II hit the streets of Kansas City to start the celebrations early, handing out payments in $100 bills this week. People were simply stopped in the street and asked to tell their story, and then given a present of $100 or more.

Why “Secret Santa II”? Well, this Santa is a second-generation surprise-giver following in the footsteps of Larry Stewart, who died in 2007 at the age of 58. Stewart would give out $1 million in crisp bills every December to absolute strangers, getting replies that varied from gratitude to shock to disbelief.

Secret Santa II gave out an incredible $10,000 in one day this week, and he wasn't answering questions about his finances, like where he gets the bills or whether it was harder to create a nice Christmas bag of money for his surprised recipients in this economy.

This kind soul giving out cash might not be handing out as much at the original Secret Santa--$40,000 is what he has in his coffer for 2010—but the amount he's delivering is making a difference. According to watchers, the replacement Secret Santa gave money to a homeless man headed down the street with a shopping cart, a woman with 27 grandchildren, a police officer with terminal cancer, and an unemployed mom--and that's just a sample of recipients!

"He walked up to Peggy Potter, 59, of Kansas City, Kan., who was looking at some framed prints at a thrift store. He made some small talk, put his arm around her and within minutes she was crying. Her son died about a year and a half ago. Her husband died in July and her daughter died soon after that,” MSNBC describes. Secret Santa II gave her $200 after listening to her story.

"I'm just ... today's been a rough day for me, just thinking about my loved ones," she said. "I've been having a hard time paying for all the funerals."

If your heart is warmed by Santa's selfless giving, don't forget that you can give back at any time of the year. Even if you're staying in a luxury hotel at a special resort, you can sign up for volunteer opportunities in a nearby community. If you're not the handy type but you do want to make a difference, you can “adopt” a child in the country of your choice through a children's charity, or only stick to buying souvenirs from locals in town. Anything you can think of that makes someone's life just a little better is encouraged.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunsets Worth Traveling For

Some people are “sunset people” and others are “sunrise people.” If you happen to be part of the former group, then you can prepare yourself for a list to end all lists: sunsets worth traveling for, all over the world. While it's calming to see a burst of color over an open field outside of your hometown, there are sunsets to see over the ocean, peeking from behind European villages, and melting into the mountains. decided to take on the task of determining some of the world's best, with the help of celebrities and travel experts.

The beach is one of the first places a perfect sunset can be located. The reflection on the water, the movement of the waves, and the often tropical trees framing orange sky is a combination that will stick in the memory. The Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmerman said that some of his favorite sunsets in the world have been near the ocean, saying “Top sunsets on my list would have to include the beach in Seminyak, Bali, and sitting in sand on the Mahoe Bay on Virgin Gorda in the BVI, sharing the event with my wife and son--and not a person in sight."

The best sunset Zimmerman ever caught was in Sicily, Italy. "Ten kilometers from the hotel, the entire countryside is dominated by waving fields of wheat [with] ancient palazzo and villas and the ocean ringing the horizon,” Zimmerman described. “The view and the sunset were so dramatic we stopped the car and walked to a hilltop to watch it. The setting sun that night cast the most beautiful light I have ever seen in my life. Nothing has ever matched it."

If you are looking for somewhere else, runners-up include Canada, Scotland, and Africa for Zimmerman, but another travel expert's preferred sunset-spotting location was in the southern hemisphere, in Chile's Valley of the Moon. Julia Dimon described the sight of the winter sun setting, explaining that the desert washes over in tones of red, purple, and orange.

“A warm hue illuminates million-year-old mountain ranges,” she explained. “They jet out from sand dunes like the spine of some prehistoric reptile. Millennia of desert winds have sculpted stones and sand formations and the colors dance in the early evening light. Jupiter beams brightly in the sky, as a patchwork of celestial stars start to sparkle."

If you're going to be snapping pictures of sunsets-that-stun, however, try focusing on something closer to you. By keeping your camera trained on a gorgeous tree, a rock formation, or a picturesque villa, you'll reduce the chance of sunspots. After you capture the view, kick back on your luxury hotel's balcony and commit the rest to memory.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advice from the World's Most Traveled Man

The world's most well-traveled man has some advice for you, and you'd best take it. After traveling to an astonishing 823 of the world's 872 countries, Charles Velay has almost seen it all. He's been stranded in Antarctica with scant supplies (and prayed to survive the stay); he's spent time in caves, on islands, and in untouched locales. The married father of three booked the bulk of his travel between 2000 and 2008, but he still manages to fly 200,000 miles a year.

With that much travel under his belt, super traveler Velay has plenty of advice for those of us who prefer to bed down in a luxury hotel for at least one night. We might not be roughing it in Antarctica, but many of us have the same passion for mysterious destinations scattered across the globe, like Marrakech, Cairo, Jakarta, and Istanbul.

Go everywhere twice.
“Every airport looks less threatening the second time you see it,” Velaytold MSNBC, encouraging travelers to swing by their destinations two times in a lifetime. Luxury hotels are available for discounted rates during specific periods of the year, so by traveling out of season, you can easily book an additional stay in a place you felt you didn't get enough of the first time.

Be friendly.
A smile is international, and even if you don't know a word of the local language, it can ease your transition from the hotel to the trail.

Shrink your belongings.
Your luggage might not be able to get smaller, but your things inside can take up less room if you select the right packing materials. One traveler interviewed recommended compression sacs to reduce the volume of must-haves, and these bags work for anything as long as it's not leather. Have a voluminous gown that you're going to wear at the Hotel de Crillon? Use suction to compress tulle and frothy layers, and you will have more room for accessories.

Turn off your mind.
Velay knows how travelers frequently need to kill time between transfers, pick-ups, and shuttle rides, and there's no need to get sulky when something goes wrong. “To deal with routine travel today, all the hours of waiting, all the delays, the best advice is to just turn your mind off,” Velay told MSNBC. “The great thing is to have an iPhone or a Blackberry that lets you plow through your to-do list.”

Don't panic if you don't have the “right” supplies.
Velay reminds travelers that any “forgot it!” disasters are opportunities to spend time interacting with locals and pick up a possible souvenir.

Pack light.
With per-bag fees and lost baggage, you can easily spoil your travel experience with a luggage problem. Packing light will ensure that you keep your belongings close, and that you can maneuver more easily in your vacation destination. Struggling with overstuffed luggage can be a thing of the past, particularly if you consider how many microfiber, waterproof, and “smart” bags are available to the modern traveler.

Traveling can be tough these days, with near-bursting airports and the threat of cancellation, so it will be to your advantage to prepare bookings in locations that offer you the best package. With luxury hotel deals the world over, you can rough it when you want, and then find the right place to settle down for a well deserved respite from it all. Consider a spa treatment to give you the power to keep on touring that vacation spot the next day. Just don't forget Velay's advice!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Surprising Cultural Practices: Business Travel Edition

One of the best things about traveling is seeing and experiencing things you’d never witness in your hometown, from an unusual greeting to a strange dish of local treats. Of course, there’s a fine line between cultural curiosity and cultural ignorance. This rings especially true for women combining business and pleasure in one trip, since they’ll need to switch from tourist mode to business mode in a flash. To make the most of your business meetings--which will make time off so much sweeter--why not get your fill of surprising cultural practices from around the world?

Dress: What’s Acceptable?
It’s easy enough to pack a suitcase full of work-appropriate clothes for a trip to New York or San Francisco, but what about a stay in Japan and the Middle East? A smart pantsuit with a sharply-tailored blazer and a simple blouse might scream “take me seriously!” in the United States, but in countries like China, Russia, and India, women business travelers need to take things one step further. Cover the elbows and knees when meeting for business, and button that blouse all the way up to your neck. Save your brightly-colored separates for another day, too, because neutrals are expected on businesswomen--as are skirts instead of pants. You’ll need to pack accordingly to command respect, unless you like whirlwind shopping trips when you land.

Luxury Lodging List: Businesspeople should review the best hotels in Tokyo.

Networks: How to Make Them advises women travelers to prepare a network to ensure that business meetings go smoothly. When planning a business meeting in countries like China, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia, it’s recommended that you bring along an intermediary to bridge the gap between you and your hosts. In the Islamic Middle East, experts recommend that your host be male. If you know the right people in your field, you’ll have an easier time closing deals (and getting back to the fun of seeing the sights!).

Luxury Lodging List: If you're traveling to China, then luxury hotel recommendations for Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai will guide you to the best exclusive complimentary perks available.

Respecting Your Hosts: The Nitty-Gritty
Of course, there are also the finer points to cross-cultural business meetings. Even if you’re traveling mostly for pleasure and just have a single meeting scheduled, there are a few tips that can help you ace your meeting. For example, when you’re offered beverages or snacks from your host, it’s imperative that you accept something. If you don’t and you are in Asia or the Middle East, you’ll be guilty of disrespecting your new business contacts.

It doesn’t hurt to bring gifts to a business meeting, although it’s recommended that you exchange presents at the end of your meeting instead of at the beginning. “Made in America” presents like books and art are smart things to bring, and if you have something scheduled in China or Japan, know that American whiskey is very much appreciated.

Luxury Lodging List: For those traveling to the Middle East, you might be interested in luxury hotel suggestions specific to Doha, Dubai, Amman, Jeddah, and Riyadh.

Combining a sightseeing trip with business meetings is typical these days, but it can be tricky if you’re going somewhere brand-new. Armed with this knowledge about faux pas, dress, and gifting, you can sign your contract and still have time for a leisurely meal in your far-off destination.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Perfect Gift: A Flight and a Luxury Hotel Stay

American Airlines recently released their holiday shopping suggestions, which are all about giving the gift of flight in a variety of fashions. While vouchers are the most well-known of holiday flight gifts, airlines are making it clear that these aren't the only way to spread cheer.

Besides the simple ways to give flights to loved ones, there are also innovative options for the regular traveler. For example, American Airlines offers Lounge One-Day Passes to the Admirals Club, which are priced at $50. This pass can be used in any of the airline's lounges, and it gives your traveler in mind a great way to relax while prior to departure instead of sitting or standing at the boarding gate.

Did you know that airlines also issue gift cards or gift certificates for presents? Research the average cost of the flight or talk to a travel agent, and then you can purchase a card in any denomination up to $1500 from American Airlines, for example. What's even better is that American is giving back $5 from every $50 travel purchase to Susan Komen for the Cure, so your buy will also be helping a worthy cause at an important time of year. If the denominations on the gift cards aren't to your liking, perhaps a gift certificate would suit you, since AAVacations has them available without set denominations.

Still looking? You can also buy or share miles with someone during the holidays, perhaps with a plan to have them come visit a city nearby. You can encourage your friend or family member to travel in style, luxuriate in a beautiful hotel, and then come visit you, too! If you share American Airlines miles before December 31st, for example, they will award you with 25% bonus miles.

If you really want to go over the top this December, why not ehance your gift of flight with a reservation for luxury accommodations by selecting one of the many viewing the hotel specials available.

The luxury hotel pick and manner of presenting your gift is up to you, but no matter how you do it, you know that the person who receives a flight and hotel stay will be overjoyed. Browsing now will ensure a great holiday present and some of the best travel deals you'll find, so why not start looking today? Chirstmas is right around the corner.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holidays at Disney World

Have you ever considered going to Walt Disney World for Christmas? It's common to wonder whether or not the crowds will be overwhelming or if this will be a perfect time to take in the sites--we've got your Q&A right here!

Will it be crowded?
Walt Disney World is a favorite family destination, but WDW doesn't keep filling the park all day. Get there early and get in, as the park could be closed to visitors who arrive later in the day when maximum capacity is reached. With a plan in hand, you should have no problem enjoying Walt Disney World during the holidays.

What should I do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Many guests who stay at Walt Disney World suggest the Epcot Center and the Candlelight Processional on Christmas Eve. When you're spending the holidays at Disney, you should book extra-special events to add to the Christmas cheer. Guests truly enjoy this break from day-to-day routine, and for children, it's a fantastic holiday thrill.

Why do people go to the Magic Kingdom at Christmastime?
Walt Disney takes the Magic Kingdom and turns it all around on Christmas, and you will see evidence of this as soon as you enter the Kingdom: there's a massive Christmas tree in Town Square and a lot of decorations strewn around Main Street. Top attractions include enchanted storytelling and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade.

Where can I stay?
Many guests going to Walt Disney World are overwhelmed when trying to select accommodations. Our favorite pick? The Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which is a gem of a location that also provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of Walt Disney World at Christmastime BUT still close enough to provide complimentary shuttles throughout the day & evening to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Oh, and one more thing: don't forget to write Santa and tell him where you'll be this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold brings out ski buffs

With dropping temperatures around the globe, even weather forecasters in Miami are warning listeners about frosty conditions, windchill, and frostbite. It's not a time to be frolicking outdoors. . . or so they say!

If you live somewhere like Miami, the “cold” temperatures are actually a nice break from the norm. The air gets clear and crisp, the sun seems brighter, and one can finally bring out the winter fashions for a night out on the town.

There's also the ski vacations when it gets colder. If you're a ski buff this is now prime time for all the resorts that have been on your list. Some of our top locations for ski resorts follow!

Colorado: Hotel Jerome, Aspen
Aspen is one of the quintessential skiing stops for snow bunnies, and what's great about bringing your skis or snowboard out here is that the accommodations are spectacular. With Exclusive Complimentary Perks and a bevy of outdoor activities to enjoy, you'll get your fill of winter fun. Thanks to the drop in temperature, your mountain of choice will be powderiffic, too!

Vermont: Stowe Mountain Lodge
This century-old ski lodge isn't a log cabin in the woods by any means: it's an impressive resort built in the “Alpine style,” with 139 rooms and six stories. Vermont's ski industry dates back to the early '30s, when Vermont CCC director Montpelier’s Perry Merrill cut the first ski trails on Mount Mansfield. If you're from the east coast, this ski town is easily accessible.

Wyoming: Four Seasons Resort at Jackson Hole
Isn't it welcoming that in lower-than-low temperatures, this luxury hotel offers you warm cider upon check-in? Wyoming's stunning natural beauty isn't just to be enjoyed in the summer, especially since the Four Seasons has everything ready to fight cold weather and keep you skiing all day: heated ski boot storage, private ski lockers, s'more snacks for apres-ski, and ski-in, ski-out concierge. Take some pictures of the Teton Range, which encircles the resort, before you leave.

Utah: St. Regis Deer Crest Resort
There's something about being by a crackling fire when the winds blow that thrills those of us who grew up in slightly warmer climes. By booking a luxury stay at the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort, you get to do just that and gaze at the nearby Wasatch Mountains. There's ski-in, ski-out access at this resort, plus a private “ski beach” and hot tubs. 67 luxe suites are waiting for your winter vacation.

Some people might dread colder weather, but to others, it just means more fun! With snow piling high on the mountains and the hotels stocking up on holiday cheer, it's a perfect time to look into a wintertime escape.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unique, Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips

Have you made your bucket list of to-die-for-vacations? If you haven't given any thought to the places you need to see in your lifetime, then now's the time to start. If you wait until the last minute before you start planning your trip each year, then you can't hammer down the fine points of such a vacation. Nobody wants that, so it's time to surf a website with the finest hotels & resorts on the planet for vacation specials on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

African Safaris
If you decide to take your African vacation to the max, you can head into the misty mountains and see gorillas (the silver-backed kind!) in their natural habitat. While you have to be able to hike up and down in thin oxygen and on a winding path, when you see peaceful gorillas munching on tiny berries, you'll capture the photo of a lifetime.

Your Lodging: In the case of a gorilla trek, your lodging will depend on which type of gorilla you are tracking. We recommend staying in a luxury lodge before you head out on your trip into the bush, where you're likely to camp the next day.

Fossil-Hunting in Kenya
Head to Kenya and learn about travelers like the Leakeys, who studied the roots of civilization. Find out about research areas that feature amazing 3.5-million-year-old fossils only recently discovered. You'll also get a chance to explore the earth on your own, and who knows what you could find?

Your Lodging: The The Mount Kenya Safari Club has 100 acres of land and a stunning resort hotel, and on your free time, be sure to indulge in pastimes like the bowling green and croquet.

Loire Valley Cycling Tours
If you're the face-paced type, then a cycling tour is what you need. Take to the roads in the land of the Tour de France and discover the Loire Valley. Tourists can stay in stunning estates with rich historys after spending the day zipping by sunflower fields and rolling green scenery. At night, of course, one can take advantage of legendary French wine and fine, healthy meals.

Your Lodging: To balance out your trip to the Loire Valley, visit Reims and stay in the the Chateau les Crayeres. A 20-room inn offers 400 champagnes to try, which will help you relax after rattling your bones on the roads.

Take a Camel Caravan Across the Desert
If you want to see older-than-old relics from civilizations past, then you certainly need to head to the Middle East. After seeing incredible spots like Petra in Jordan, one can head across the magnificent sand dunes on a camel, complete with a local guide who can wrangle it if need be. Don't forget to dress in light, cool layers!

Your Lodging: When staying in Jordan, book a night at Evason Ma'In Hot Springs & Six Senses Spa, which features hot springs, waterfalls, spa services, and Exclusive Complimentary Perks.

Even if you have your bucket list, it can't be set in stone. Why not add a once-in-a-lifetime trip to it right now?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warm and Luxurious Places to Go This Winter

It's cold outside, snowing in some places one might be tuning in from, and that means shoveling yourself out of the driveway or at least contending with the icy blasts that come from a big northeastern gale. Instead of fighting the cold without respite, you can always plan a break from the white stuff with a trip a little closer to the equator.

On to the suggestions...

The Caribbean: Crystal-blue waters are something you need to see at least once in your life, and going to the Caribbean is a good way to check that off your bucket list. Forget the local lake—now probably frozen over or at least totally freezing cold—and swim with dolphins, snorkel, and lounge. When you're not taking in the supremely amazing weather in the Caribbean, you should be taking advantage of amazing deals .

Central America: If you're not a resort-lounger and you prefer a touch of adventure, you should really consider heading to Central America for the exploration of a lifetime. Ruins of lost civilizations can easily be arranged through your high-quality, totally luxurious hotel, which means that you can suit up, head out in the jungle with a guide, and then relax with an in-room massage after. It's a nice change of pace from ice-skating across the parking lot and crashing on the couch at night!

Africa: Africa's another unusual, but exciting, stop for travelers. This country is an absolute wonder to navigate, explore, and film, and there are multiple luxury lodges perched right on the edge of nature preserves and some of Africa's finest natural wonders. If Africa has always interested you, but you feel intimidated, then you should try booking through a travel agency like ours, which will help you arrange your visas and get everything ready in short order.

The Maldives: If you're a beach bum, then the Maldives are a good place to visit. They are quiet and tranquil, and best of all, you can stay in one of those luxury huts that so many people love! Lounge in the sand and soak up the rays, and you should be able to last the rest of the winter back home.

South America: South America is a lot of things, and boring isn't one of them. Stay in a hotel in Peru and enjoy luxurious, traditional South American cuisine, and then trek to Machu Piccu for the trip of a lifetime. If you want to try another trip, go to Brazil and take advantage of the high-end shipping in the city of Sao Paulo, or the fantastic local fares in Northern Brazil, where it's closer to the equator and plenty warm.

Like we told you in a previous post, the sales going on right now are perfect for people to get deals, especially on higher-end hotels in diverse locations. If you want warm weather, there are specials waiting, and it's probably already tempting you. Have a look and see what suits your winter craving—international locations abound at

Monday, November 29, 2010

Luxury Hotel Stays for Less This Winter

Some people shy away from luxury hotel stays especially during the winter season holidays because they feel it will be very expensive, but there's a secret that people who enjoy staying at luxury resorts won't spill. Winter is a perfect season to enjoy a luxury hotel stay - you just have to pick the right winter destination!

In a recent feature on MSNBC, experts discussed some of the best places to vacation in luxury this winter. The best part about linking up with a travel consultant like those on our staff is that you'll be able to score better deals from the same places recommended by MSNBC. Time to browse, make your selection, and get special offers through

Terranea Resort: This southern California luxury hotel is actually a stretch of Mediterranean estate on 102 acres, which means that you certainly won't be room-bound on a city block if you select this option. With villas, casitas, and bungalows for guests, the Terranea is a stunning hotel that also affords multiple options for traveler. MSNBC points out that this location offers great promotions, too.

The Signature at MGM Grand: Sales are just part of the value at The Signature at MGM Grand. Just because you can get a great price on a room and outstanding service doesn't mean that it's worth booking right away: this hotel also has a private gated entrance and is still perfectly situated to take advantage of the Las Vegas Strip action. As MSNBC's source pointed out, “The excess of 5-star rooms in Las Vegas creates great values. December is a win-win for the consumer in terms of seasonal demand.”

One and Only Ocean Club, Bahamas: Can't decide between a Parisian jaunt and a trip in the Bahamas? The One and Only Ocean Club has gardens inspired by those at Versailles, but it's perched on the beach, with views to spare. Expect a stunningly appointed room when you stay at the One and Only Ocean Club, and perks at this hotel include activity credits and a free round of golf.

Cotton House Hotel: If you happen to be a sucker for fancy surroundings with a historical past, the Caribbean's Cotton House is for you. Built in the 1700s, this fully renovated luxury location flaunts beautiful beaches nearby, plenty of activities for guests, and a number of plunge pools. “The Grenadines is a great choice for an off-the-beaten path, authentic experience,” MSNBC points out.

Las Vegas at this time of year doesn't sound like it's for everyone, but when you're in your 5-star hotel room with a view of the grandeur, you could change your mind about spending your winter shoveling snow. Not a gambler? Go beachside instead for less this Winter!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What to Buy a World Traveler for Christmas

The holiday gift-buying crunch is on, and that means we're all stocking up on gifts... or at least, we should be. Travel-loving individuals are often the type who like convenience and seem to already have everything they want, making them more difficult to shop for than you first expect. The one thing that everyone loves, whether they are staying at a luxury hotel luxury hotel or even a camping site, is something that makes their travel go more smoothly.

Thankfully, enough people struggle with buying presents for luxury-loving gadget fiends that lists have been compiled for our ease. These tips should get you shopping for conversation-worthy pieces that make any globetrotter grin.

Consider noise-canceling products. Noise-canceling earbuds, like the Shure se535s, are a dream on a plane, in any class seats. Just because someone's sitting in first on the way to the beach doesn't mean they're not hearing others' loud travel talk! Give them the present of a few quality hours of sleep on the plane.

Get products that bring home to the traveler. Some travelers like to experience brand-new every day, but when something goes wrong, a quick comforting reminder of the home base is welcome. Consider buying a satellite travel radio to give someone who's prone to missing home or who is a first-time traveler, like the Tivoli version that's water-resistant. It also would work well for sports fans who really want to catch the game, or someone who likes to listen to local music when they're on the move.

Buy something for the travel-curious as well. Maybe the person you're shopping for loves luxury and longs to be on the move, but hasn't had the opportunity to visit anywhere yet. There's a talking globe by Pylones that actually tells you about specific cities when you press them, so you can choose the next destination to explore: London, Moscow, Bora Bora?

Look at footwear options for anyone who doesn't have a plane “routine.” While some of us have circulation-aiding socks and perfect slippers for the plane, others could do with cozy footwear for the long haul. Take a look at sheepskin or microfiber slippers lined in something deep and soft, plus a pair of socks made for the plane.

And while you're at it? Consider getting yourself something as well. Our Exclusive Complimentary Perks are an added value at our collection of luxury hotels, but the pampering doesn't have to end there.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Le Royal Monceau: A New Gem in Paris

It took two years for Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris to renovate completely and open its doors this October. The collection of hotel suites and private apartments is flanked by restaurants, bars, a kids room, a spa, and a 3D cinema, and the hotel is once again one of the best hotels in Paris.

If you want to thank someone for getting Le Royal Monceau back on its feet and more than well again, that would be Philippe Starck. Splashes of red create a truly luxurious sentiment in the Raffles Paris location, and it's been said that Starck's “attempt” (in reality, much more than that) is “artistic, delicate, open, poetic.”

The story of Le Royal Monceau has been a complex one, considering that its opening directly preceded the American Depression, and the hotel was even requisitioned during World War II. However, popular since day one, the imposing stone structure has housed a huge number of notable individuals, and not solely movie stars and actors. King Forouk of Egypt, Aga Khan, Joseph Kessel, Michael Jackson, Robert De Niro, and Madonna were all guests at this historical destination where luxury accommodations are top priority.

Even the grandest of hotels needs some help from time to time, and Le Royal Monceau's received an above,above-and-beyond facelift that puts many other “European style” renovations to shame. Clusters of chandeliers draped in crystal and tiny lampshades play against a patterned floor, while suites' deep hotel tubs sits amidst dazzling mirrored walls and marble floors. More magnetic still are the suite bedrooms, with soothing wall colors, fabulous linens, and windows letting in abundant light. If you could clear your schedule for a day in Paris and lounge around the hotel, there's no way you could pass up the opportunity particularly with our Exclusive Complimentary Perks just for the booking.

Peering out on the geometrically-pleasing greenery in the courtyard, you'll feel a new calm come over you. If you have ever tried to brave traffic at the Arc de Triomphe, then you know how important this is. Le Royal Monceau doesn't just provide luxury accommodations, but ones that balance art with a comforting, cocoon-like atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peninsula Beverly Hills

Some people feel as though they can simply sign onto any price comparison site and get a great deal on their accommodation. If you bid on a hotel in your price range, however, you won't know which one it is until you've already been permanently assigned. If you use this method, how will you ever become acquainted with highly rated luxury hotels like Peninsula Beverly Hills?

If you live on the East Coast—or in the northern, southern, or midwestern states for that matter—you should plan at least one trip to the West Coast in your lifetime. See the Hollywood sign, take the Walk of Fame, and shop on Rodeo Drive—and stay somewhere where you can soak up the glamour and the service to which any celebrity quickly becomes accustomed.

What makes Peninsula Beverly Hills stand out? The location is as advantageous as the interior is richly furnished, but the environment is far from stuffy. The spa isn't simply a place to relax and receive beneficial wellness treatments: it was named the leading urban spa for service and the second for treatments in all of the United States. There's the massage services, body treatments, and nail suites to keep you busy, but that's only if you can leave your hotel room. With a 24-hour check-in, you can arrive whenever you'd like, quickly settling into a room that flaunts classic Renaissance design with all the modern touches. If you're looking for a larger space to call home at Peninsula Beverly Hills, there are also 16 Garden Villa Suites tastefully tucked away.

And then there are the unexpected perks to consider. Many people who travel have extreme difficulty finding an animal-friendly location to suit their needs. Even if you can find a spot that accepts your dogs, there are often restrictions and many fees. The Peninsula has no size-restriction policy in their hotel regulations, so you can bring your best friend along with your family.

And the icing on the cake? Rolls Royce house cars. In fact, when you book one of the luxurious hotel suites, you will receive the use of a Rolls Royce for the duration of your stay. While you'll undoubtedly have ideas about things you want to do, let us pose just a few suggestions. Drive to Santa Monica to enjoy the new wheels and stop by Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, boutiques, the beach, and plenty of great restaurants. On another day trip, consider taking the Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy classic Californian views.

If this property sounds right to you, then we know exactly where to book Peninsula Beverly Hills to get Exclusive Complimentary Perkswhile doing so. Enjoy it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Allure of the Seas has got that Oprah !

Oprah loves cruise ships, and she shared her new favorite, the Allure of the Seas, on her recent Ultimate Favorite Things list. What's not to love about a floating five-star luxury hotel? If someone knows luxe, it's Oprah, and there are even special deals for the Allure of the Seas going on as we write.

Oprah gave Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas seven-day cruise packages to her viewers on last Friday's studio audience giveaway, rounding the package out with other gifts like cashmere sweaters, diamond-studded watches, five-year Netflix subscriptions, Nikon cameras, and custom-built closets. After presenting trips on the world's largest cruise ship, Oprah said to the audience "Cruising, of course, is one of my favorite things. And you are going to have the time of your lives."

So what makes Allure of the Seas so special? The boat might have capacity to carry over 5,000 passengers, but reviews quickly demonstrate that specialty service is brought to each and every person. There is an astonishing choice of 37 cabins on the boat, including balcony suites and eight-person family suites. And those "balcony suites"? They overlook a "central park" area filled with live greenery, great for people trying out their sea legs for the first time.

While paying customers haven't taken their first voyage, the press was already invited to have a spin around the ocean on the 225,282-ton ship. Their notes? We've summarized some of the high points for your browsing pleasure, but to sum it up, this luxury cruise ship has it all!

*The DreamWorks parade streams through the Royal Promenade with colorful costumes and music galore, and you can even see the Kung-Fu Panda himself. It's surprisingly popular with adults, so if you have kids, it'll be even better.

*The chef at the top Allure of the Seas' restaurant, 150 Central Park, is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and spent hours dreaming up and testing recipes. Crispy Duck Cigar? Shellfish Bloody Mary? The six-course set menu is just as luxurious as the meals we'd find in a fine hotel's restaurant.

*The Amber Theatre presents Chicago with a full orchestra and a great cast on the Allure of the High Seas. If you were trying to choose between a New York vacation and a relaxing cruise, then you'll have the best of both worlds.

*Just some of the extra cruise features include the Royal Promenade's Cupcake Cupboard, a tropical garden called the "Neighborhood," plenty of in-room iPod docks, a Coach store, a wine and tapas bar, and the Aquatheatre.

Don't you wish you were on the first Allure of the Seas trip on December 1st? If you're dreaming of a vacation at sea, the Allure of the Seas sounds like a magnificent ship to sail on. Just don't forget your camera, whatever you do! It sounds like Oprah's gift recipients will have their new Nikon to take along, but you can bring your trusty digital along instead.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Savoy Hotel Unveiled

If you're a lover of all things posh, then you very well may have been waiting for the Savoy to finally complete their thorough renovation. Extending the renovation by one and a half years, the Savoy London was worth the wait. Not only is the hotel restored to turn-of-the-last-century design aesthetics, but it is green and energy-clean: in fact, it's now one of the most energy-efficient hotels in the world.

Much of the Savoy's intense effort for earth-friendliness goes on behind the scenes, making it necessary to read up on the changes before enjoying the features and service in one of their well-appointed luxury rooms. The staff members are active participants in the hotel's day-to-day green functions and features, including recycling all paper, using hybrid vehicles for hotel operations and guest transfers, and monitoring heat and light usage.

"We don't want this to be 'in your face.' It is deliberately understated. We are the only five-star hotel doing environmental work at this level, so if a potential guest is interested in that, then I can't see why they would not come to the Savoy," the hotel's "Green Team" chief Debra Patterson told The New York Times' ClimateWire.

Then there are the more expensive, drastic changes: a combined heat/power plant in the building provides half of the hotel's requirements on its own, while heat collected from appliances in the kitchen in turn heats the hotel's water. Low-energy lights are installed throughout the building, and even the cooking oil is converted to biodiesel.

Interested in the Savoy London? This 1889 hotel stands alone in green accommodations and is an icon in its own right. The magnificent hotel has 268 rooms, but 9 of those are exclusive suites that have been decorated with high-profile guests in mind. With a range of room prices, this hotel allows for luxury stays that range from elegant to fit for a king. The choice is yours, but remember that there will be a mad dash on room reservations at Savoy because it is all the rage now for those who want the best luxury hotel in London.

President Obama's Vacation Days Examined

Did President Obama spend an unusual number of days in luxury accommodation his first year of presidency? The press has made quite a fuss about President Obama's vacation days, but one expert states that his schedule is nothing unusual. In fact, in his first year of presidency, President Obama took less days off than President Ronald Regan, George W. Bush, and George H. W. Bush, while taking more days off than President Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller has created a list of every president's vacation days since Gerald Ford, but he's quick to point out that no matter how many days a president stays away from the White House, he never sheds his responsibilities as the U.S. leader.

"The job - and its awesome powers and responsibilities - is his wherever he is and whatever he’s doing,” Knoller told

And now, for the rundown of presidential holidays in their first year, starting with present day: President Obama took 26 days of vacation, according to Knoller, with the following destinations:

  • An eight-day stay at Martha's Vineyard in August, where he stayed in a rented house with his family.
  • A four-day holiday weekend in Chicago near Valentine's Day, where President Obama took the First Lady out to dinner.
  • An 11-day stay in Hawaii, where President Obama celebrated the year's end.

In the tally game, President Regan took off 42 days of vacation, while George W. Bush took 69 days off to spend at his Texas ranch. George H.W. Bush took about 40 days off during his first year, but he didn't go to Texas—he spent his time in Kennebunkport, Maine. President Carter took 19 days off, while President Clinton took off 21. Interestingly, Knoller points out that President Obama made 11 trips to Camp David, the presidential retreat, but that those days are not considered vacation days. Even if the total 27 days were included in President Obama's tally, President George W. Bush made 25 trips to the same location for a total of 78 days.

Despite rumors, it looks like President Obama's vacation days have been completely within normal expectations, but he spent smaller bursts of time in varied places. We like the idea of shorter, more frequent vacations, so that people can try out more luxury hotels and Exclusive Complimentary Perks in one year. As they say, variety's the spice of life, and we think that applies to vacations, too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Body Scammers

When body scan images were first obtained, many people believed the leaked pictures to be those from the “naked scanners,” the original machines that kicked up a strong debate about how and when security scanners should be used. U.S. Marshals saved 35,000 images in one courthouse machine, prompting website Gizmodo to make a Freedom of Information Act request and receive a collection of the saved images.

The good news? The saved scans look like cotton-candy men, soft and distorted. The bad news? The machines weren’t supposed to be saving the images in the first place. Gizmodo writer Joel Johnson pointed out that the more invasive scanner systems using high-fidelity x-rays are also in use, and now it’s being researched whether or not those machines can save images like the “less embarrassing” machines.

No matter where you stand on the issue, it’s important to note that the body scanner debate isn’t over. There’s no doubt that procedures and regulations will become standardized and safer, although those against body scanning might feel less inclined to fly right now.

No problem--there are plenty of renowned hotels in your backyard. Take a sleeper train, load up the car, or book a hotel room in the next city over, because these hotels definitely provide the luxury of a far-off vacation without the airport fuss. Plus, all of the hotels suggested below have Exclusive Complimentary Perks as part of a reservation across our website

Hotels in the Northeast
Taj Boston: This classic Boston hotel opened its doors in 1927 and overlooks the Public Garden. In the heart of the city, the Taj is surrounded by sights to see and things to do.
InterContinental The Barclay New York: This restored Federal-style hotel is perfectly situated for easy access to must-see New York attractions, and some rooms boast living rooms and marble bathrooms.

Hotels in the South
W Atlanta Midtown: Southern hospitality at its best meets 21st-century convenience in the W, flanked by Atlanta's Miracle Mile and Piedmont Park. Look into the Whatever/Wherever service while staying.
Windsor Court Hotel: Located two blocks from the French Quarter, the Windsor Court hotel has the distinction of receiving Forbes Four Stars and AAA's Four Diamonds. Why not stay in the only hotel in Louisiana to receive both honors?

Hotels on the West Coast
Hotel Vitale: This urban getaway is perched on San Francisco's waterfront: don't forget to book some time at the penthouse level of Spa Vitale!
The Edgewater: Parked right on Pier 67, the Edgewater provides both unparalleled views and service. After getting a glimpse of Seattle skyline, head down to restaurant Six Seven for grilled goodness.

Midwest Hotels
Swissotel Chicago: Going on a working vacation? Spread it out on the oversized executive desk in your hotel room before going out on the town. The Swissotel flaunts 40 suites in several different styles, so you can rest assured that your room will suit your taste.
The Peninsula Chicago: This Magnificent Mile hotel is situated right by Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue, and you'll never run out of dining options when you stay in this centrally-located spot.

If you’d like to find a hotel even closer to home, then the's luxury hotels collection is your next stop. You can browse hotels by state and find the perfect luxe hotel for your next break.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Summer in London, Just Like the Royals

Bookies are now shelling out thousands of pounds for 5-to-1 bets that Kate Middleton and Prince William would be engaged this month, but they're in the minority when it comes to sour feelings about the engagement. After the initial press release and interviews, congratulations came pouring in for this lucky young couple. The Queen said she was pleased, Prince Charles sounded relieved, and Prince Harry ecstatic about gaining a sister. Step-mother Camilla Parker Bowles livened things up by calling the engagement "wicked" and "brilliant."

With the royal wedding slated for summer 2011 and an avalanche of press coming Prince William and Kate Middleton’s way, we’re hardly surprised that London luxury hotels are getting stepped up a notch. While Kate's flashing her sapphire engagement ring, people are already abuzz with speculation about Middleton's dress, the venue, the honeymoon, and Prince William's best man. Suffice it to say, these two are going to have their hands full when it comes to planning the wedding of the century, but they’re not going to do it alone. So why should you when it comes to travel planning, booking, arranging, and organizing?

You probably don’t have a special title like Prince William, but you can still vacation like someone who does. Take Four Seasons London at Park Lane, where you get excellent accommodations, plus some Exclusive Complimentary Perks. Coming off an extensive multi-million pound restoration, the new surroundings will stun you before the service does. Since all of London's major museums are free (barring some special exhibits), you can easily go from this centrally-located hotel to the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Museum of London for a dose of royal-approved culture. Take afternoon tea at the hotel after seeing the sights, and taste the crumpets, scones, clotted creams, and pound cake during the memorable feast!

If you prefer a more secluded spot, the Flemings Mayfair is an excellent match. It is considered one of the best-kept secrets in Central London, and it has a special kind of service that makes people feel as if they’re “coming home” when they show up. Of course, that home you have doesn’t offer Exclusive Complimentary Perks, which is a reason to come to London in 2011. As one regular guest said about the Mayfair, “One is scooped up by a genuinely warm and friendly welcome, created by the delightful staff and the charming atmosphere. One is immediately put at ease and has a tremendous sense of belonging.”

No matter who you are, if you go to London in summer 2011, you can stay in a hotel that leaves you feeling both pampered and important...without all the pressure of being a royal. It's a sweet compromise, and one that couldn't be accomplished without those exclusive perks through

Friday, November 5, 2010

South Beach Wine & Food Festival with Food Network

We’re delighted to announce the next Food Network Travel Package to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBE) is now available exclusively through WhataHotel!
The first of these “by-invitation-only” packages were very popular and sold out quickly.

A limited number of these exclusive packages are available, which provide our clients with special access to the SOBE Wine & Food Festival events. The exclusive package includes two nights at either The Albion, a chic and small hotel or The Tides offering luxurious ocean view studio suites and other perks! Both hotels are walking distance to all package events.

By purchasing the package offering, you will enjoy speed line/early access to select events, reserved seating at Paula Deen’s Gospel Bruch, as well as exclusive experiences ONLY available to other guests who purchased the package. The package also includes tickets to four festival events as well as a private Food Network Travel Reception hosted by celebrity chef Aarti Sequeira, recent winner of Next Food Network Star and host of Food Network’s Aarti Party. This package also features an intimate 30 minute meet and greet with Duff Goldman prior to the "Best Thing I Ever Ate: event. This reception and meet and greet is ONLY available to those who purchase our Food Network Travel package!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Exclusives from Greg's List

All at What a Hotel! are delighted to present you with another edition of "Exclusives from Greg's List".

By checking our Blog frequently, you'll see a new "List of Exclusives" each month.

You'll also be able to find "Exclusive from Greg's List" on Facbook by joining our Group. Just click here and on the resulting page, click JOIN. By becoming a member of our group on facebook, you'll...

- See very Special Offers
- See New Exclusive Promotions
- Receive customized Facebook Fan notices
- Get chances to win free stays on special drawings
- Get ideas of what other well-connected travelers are up to

And if you're not a Facebook member yet, you'll be able to sign up once and for all to connect with us, find all your long lost friends, see their photos and do all the other things that make Facebook all the rage.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

This says it all. IF you are so inspired make sure you plan your sojourn by including luxury hotel stays along the way!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recession is Over for the Magnificent 7"in Paris

Crisis? What crisis? Judging by the flood of super-rich foreign tourists into France this summer, the recession is over, at least for some.

The top Paris hotels have long regarded themselves as a leading indicator of the financial health of the world's estimated 10 million millionaires, and in 2008, after the start of the world banking crisis, they feared the worst as occupancy slumped, with some suites standing empty for days at a time. Even the super-wealthy contented themselves with an "ordinary" room at the Ritz or George V at about €700 (£575) a night.

Bookings recovered only partially last year. But now things appear to be changing. The seven top hotels in Paris – the "magnificent seven" – have been virtually fully booked since the beginning of July at an average room rate of more than €900 a night. Much the same story is reported from the Côte d'Azur and Biarritz.

"July was exceptional. Things could hardly be better," said Didier Le Calvez, director general of the Bristol, a few steps from the Elysées Palace and the Parisian hotel of choice for Middle Eastern princes and Hollywood film stars.

On the other side of the Champs Elysées, the Hotel George V is also chock full with wealthy Russians, Brazilians, Indians and Middle Eastern minor royalty. The hotel's director, Marc-Oliver Raffray, says that all 60 suites – at prices ranging from €13,000 to €3,000 a night – have been booked for the whole summer. The five other five-star hotels in Paris – the Ritz, Crillon, Meurice, Plaza-Athénée and Fouquet's Barrière – report more than 90 per cent occupancy from all over the world.

"Now the economy seems to be booming in Brazil and Asia," said Mr Calvez at the Bristol. "We are also getting lots of American and Australian dollars. Middle Eastern clients are back. It is a special moment when all our markets are buzzing at once."

And although Middle Eastern visitors are thinning out a little, with the beginning of this year's early Ramadan religious festival, wealthy Russians, Indians and Brazilians are taking their places. At Biarritz, at the foot of France's Atlantic coast, the Hotel du Palais, dominating the main beach, is fully booked for August at an average room rent of €500 a night. Jean-Louis Leimbacher, the director general of the hotel, said that 60 per cent of his clients were foreign, the majority of them Russian.

Vanguelis Panayotis, development director at the hotel and leisure group MKG, said that the occupancy rate at top hotels in France was back to pre-crisis levels. France was benefiting, in part, from the relative weakness of the euro against the dollar and other currencies, he said, but there also seemed to be no shortage of money among the elites of Asia (other than Japan), Russia and South America.

The lower reaches of the French tourism market are also enjoying a relative boom this year, after a poor 2009. The fall in the value of the euro has brought back visitors from Britain and the United States. The Germans, Dutch and Belgians are choosing to stay close to home rather than book expensive holidays on the other side of the world. "For them nearer to home means France," said Didier Arino, director of the study group Protourisme.

There had been an increase of up to 10 per cent in European visitors to France this summer, he said. The average price of a hotel room had increased by 10 per cent

Written by By John Lichfield in Paris for the . Links supplied by

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Spoil Your Daughter like Eloise at The Plaza

NEW YORK (CBS) Eloise, the precocious 6-year-old who lived on the "tippy top floor" of The Plaza Hotel (one of my daughter's favs) with her Nanny, her dog Weenie, and her turtle Skipperdee in Kay Thompson's classic book, now has a suite at the New York hotel in her honor.

Designed by Betsey Johnson (my wife's former employer), the suite on the hotel's 18th floor channels the hotel's most famous fictional resident.

"She's so pink, so fun," Johnson said in the statement of the fictional city girl that inspired the room. "...Hey, Eloise! Me and my grandkids want a sleepover with you soon!"

"Each day, our colleagues share Eloise's adventures with guests from all over the world and she is such a beloved character," The Plaza's General Manager Shane Kirge added. "Collaborating with a visionary of style and design like Betsey Johnson to bring Eloise's world to life has been so rewarding and we feel she is the ideal talent for this project."

The room, decorated in pink and black, is full of nods to the beloved book character and the girly accents that Johnson is known for on the runway.

A chandelier hangs from the ceiling, a zebra-print carpet covers the floor (to muffle the sound when Eloise "slomps her skates to 'make a really loud and terrible racket,'" according to a statement from the hotel), a king-size bed with custom-designed bedding depicting images of Eloise, a sparkly padded pink headboard and Eloise's name scrawled in neon lights affixed to the wall above.

Petticoats and tutus hang in the closet - an homage to Eloise's love of dressing up - and custom-made fabric with her well-known remarks ("Charge it, please" and "Tomorrow I think I'll pour water down the mail chute.") cover the French doors to the bathroom, according to the New York Times.

The suite also has original prints by "Eloise" illustrator Hilary Knight on the pink-striped walls, a wall-mounted flat screen TV and DVD player and Eloise books and dolls.

The Eloise Suite, which starts at $995 a night, opens Aug. 16. Guests also have the option of booking the adjoining "grown-up" Edwardian suite, which ups the total to $2,045 a night for both rooms. Whereas regular rooms & suites like the Edwardian Suite are bookable online across our site at WhataHotel!, you'll need our connections to snag the Eloise Suite. Plus, any booking with us at The Plaza at a qualifying ratecode entitles you to Exclusive Complimentary Perks that enhance the value of your reservation.

The "Eloise" books debuted in 1955, and documented the antics of the titular pint-sized heroine in her hotel home. A portrait of Eloise has hung in the Plaza lobby until it closed for renovations in 2005. It was re-hung in 2008 after spending time in storage.

CREDIT-CBS News Online for story. Additional commentary & links by Greg Guiteras/Blogger.

Monday, August 2, 2010

An Actual Study which Proves You Need Vacations

Two recent studies show there's good news and bad news about your coming vacation.

Bad news first: Your vacation will likely make you happier and probably even healthier, but those effects won't last long.

Now, the good: The benefits of your vacation kick in sooner than you'd think. In fact, if you have a trip planned, you're likely already happier than usual.

Despite vacations being a sizable contributor to the world economy—Americans alone will spend $76 billion on summer vacations this year, up $7 billion from last year, according to a survey by travel insurer Mondial Assistance USA—there's relatively little research available that measures vacation effects.

In a study published in the August issue of Work & Stress, an academic journal, authors surveyed 96 Dutch workers over a seven-week period beginning two weeks before their planned vacations. Workers were asked throughout the period about wellness factors, including their health status, mood, level of tension and energy and satisfaction. Participants reported improvements in each of these measures during their vacations, as expected. However, just one week after returning to work, their self-reported measures of wellness plummeted to pre-vacation levels.

That suggests the benefits of vacations are real but short-lived. What the study results don't show, and what the authors suggest future studies look at, is how changes in vacation time affect the duration of benefits upon return. For example, if a worker has 10 vacation days to use during summer, does he capture greater total happiness by using them all at once on an extended getaway, or by taking Fridays off all summer long?

Another study, published in the March issue of Applied Research in Quality of Life, looked at survey results from more than 1,500 Netherlanders, almost 1,000 of whom had gone on vacations. Time off refreshed workers, but the effects were far from lasting. The study also showed a marked increase in the self-reported happiness of vacationers in the weeks leading up to their trips.

The implications for workers are clear. Plan vacations well in advance. Doing so can save money, but more important, it prolongs the anticipatory phase and increases total happiness. How best to handle the dip in happiness upon returning to work? Simple: Start planning your next vacation right away.

Above article was found at by Conor Dougherty. Greg Guiteras of added a link to it's content.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tough Crowd, these Teens on a Family Vacation

For teenagers on summer vacation with their families, there seems to be a universal goal: Ditching the parents.

Hotels and resorts are trying to make that easier by offering souped-up teen programs—with Wii contests, sushi-making lessons and poker nights—as well as dedicated hang-out spots for the under-18 set. Think video games and "mocktails."

While hotels and resorts have long offered activities geared to younger children, companies are now realizing they need to offer something fun, and safe, for teens, especially if they want to hold onto families whose kids have aged out of the children's programs. Resorts are also finding that bored teens hanging around the lobby isn't so desirable. Before Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa extended the hours of its teen program last summer to 1:30 a.m. instead of 11 p.m., "kids would be wandering around the property aimlessly," says Joel Ryan, group manager for entertainment at Sandals Resorts International, which owns Beaches properties in the Caribbean. "They would take pool chairs and throw them in the pool."

The Renaissance Esmerelda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., started in March turning over its new adult nightclub to 12- to 17-year-olds during the day. For $40, kids get access to computers loaded with 150 video games and unlimited pizza and soda. Beaches Turks & Caicos has an outpost of Scratch DJ Academy, a New York-based DJ school, to teach kids how to spin vinyl. Last year, it opened "Trench Town," a no-parents-allowed lounge with arcade games, black lights and murals painted by a New York graffiti artist.

This summer, the teen beach cabana at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel (designed by Williams-Sonoma Inc.'s PBteen home-furnishings brand) is hosting Wii contests and offering mocktails such as mojitos, daiquiris and margaritas, all sans alcohol.

And this winter, Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas, is planning to open a massive teen club. The $10 million, 14,000 square-foot spot will include its own teen-only branch of Starbucks, an Internet lounge, a video-game room with a floor-to-ceiling "gaming tree" with 32 monitors, and a dance club with its own bouncers and roving paparazzi. And for a place to stay at Atlantis, consider either The Cove Atlantis or The Reef Atlantis.

Teens say that the new activities and lounges not only give them a much-needed break from vacation-forced family togetherness, but also help them meet people their own age. "We were just sitting on the couch and people said, 'What's up?,'" said Kristoff Duxbury, an 18-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, on a recent afternoon at the PBteen lounge at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort near San Diego, Calif. "Maybe we'll hang out later." Kristoff and his brother Madison, 13, were taking part in the "Wii Teen Challenge" along with nine other kids, including a few pint-sized under-10 crashers. (First prize was a sundae.) "It is hard finding activities for this age group," said Sophie Duxbury, Kristoff and Madison's mother. "This is a lifesaver."

Parents are more likely to travel with their kids and to give them a big say in deciding where to go. (A week with a miserable, eye-rolling teen is no vacation.) Families are particularly attractive for hotels because they tend to stay longer and rack up bigger bills. While business travelers stay an average of 1.2 nights, families on their big annual vacation stay about 4.3 nights, says Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality professor at the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.

Teens are among a hotel's toughest customers: They will skip any program that resembles a children's camp or activity that seems remotely un-cool. The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas, axed scavenger hunts and "ice-breaker" games after kids didn't show or refused to participate. "Maybe we tried too hard. It was really a failure," says Melody Goeken, a hotel spokeswoman. The program has been much more popular since it dropped most organized activities and instead simply provides video games, Internet access and a "place where [teens] can just be," she says.

The Montage Laguna Beach, an ocean-front resort in Laguna Beach, Calif., started offering stand-up paddle board lessons, beach volleyball games and weekend theme parties for teens this past Memorial Day weekend. Jake Wasserkrug says he won't be anywhere near the activities, even though the 16-year-old loved the resort's children's club, "Paintbox," when he was younger. "Even if it was fun, I still wouldn't do it—unless there was a hot girl camp," says Jake, who was vacationing from Henderson, Nev., earlier this month at the Montage with his parents, brother, two friends and cousins.

The key to attracting teens, some hotels say, is giving them grown-up experiences—and setting limits. When Atlantis did a focus group with 50 teenagers earlier this year to find out what they wanted in a new teen club, the participants asked for the oversized beds popular in some adult spots, hot tubs and "cages to dance in," says Amanda Felts, vice president of guest activities and resort planning. "That's not going to happen."

The Montage Laguna Beach
has had success with a "casino" night where kids sip "teentails" such as Shirley Temples, gorge on a buffet of candy and play poker. On a recent Friday night, six kids ages 11 to 15 sat around a table getting ready to play Texas hold 'em in one of the hotel's beige-carpeted meeting rooms. (Inflatable dice and hand-made posters saying "Mteens Casino Night" tried to liven it up.) One attendee, Leigha Mamula, asked for a refresher on the game's rules.

"But you're from Vegas," protested John Gallagher, 14. "So?, said Leigha. "I'm 12, not 21."

While hotels say they want to give kids independence and a good time, they try to prevent mischief. When the Beaches Turks & Caicos throws nighttime bonfires on the beach, for example, the beach is lit up and counselors and security guards are stationed around. The designer of the new Atlantis teen club, Jeffrey Beers, said he made sure there were no "dark, hidden areas" where teens could sneak off and make out. Most hotels also employ software to control which websites kids can visit in teen lounges and edit the music collection to keep it PG-rated.

One way to up attendance at teen programs is to bribe the kids. At Beaches Negril Resort & Spa in Jamaica, teens earn points for each activity. They can cash them in for access to "VIP cabanas" during teen dance nights at the resort's Club Liquid. The Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont, gives iTunes gift cards to kids who complete the teen "Passport," a booklet filled with various challenges including, "Perform in the talent show" and "Dance...with grandma." The resort is hoping the program will boost last summer's attendance rate when only 15% to 20% of teen guests took part in its organized teen activities, says Jennifer Wyman, director of programming and public relations at the resort

The Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown, Mass., sends the "coolest" counselor to scope out the pools and invite teens to attend the hotel's program, says Tammy Moreis, activities director for the Martha's Vineyard resort. "I get one of the most active, fun counselors to really talk it up. [Teens] usually want to hang out with them."

Still, Ms. Moreis says there's always the danger that an activity will be taken down by the too-cool-for-it teen. "I could have 10 kids sign up and one can walk in and say, 'that's stupid' and every single one of them will follow," and leave," she says.

And if a teen program is too compelling, there is a downside: Parents who have spent time and money to take a family vacation may rarely see their child. The teen program at the Beaches resorts, for example, keeps kids busy from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., including during mealtimes. Counselors will, however, try to coax kids into at least a little family time. Says Beaches' Mr. Ryan, "You are guaranteed to have at least one dinner," with your teen during a week's trip.

This article was copied from the Wall Strett Journal & written by Andrea Petersen. Greg Guiteras of contributed some remarks & links.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman

Just returned from a marvelous family vacation at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman and was moved to write about it because the resort is awesome.

Completed in 2006 and sitting on 144 beautifully landscaped acres, this is THE premier luxury resort on Grand Cayman.

The hotel "welcome" on arrival ( my 4 year-old Emma loves the hotel "welcome" ) was everything we expected with porters, door men & even management greeting - just over the top.

The resort's interiors contain elegantly appointed furnishings, spectacular tropical floral arrangements, as well as rich wall coverings and chandeliers. And since the resort has a rear facing side over a wonderful golf course & a forward facing side over the spectacular 7 Mile Beach, there is an elevated, air conditioned walkway across the road from the beach that makes seaside access a breeze and interesting because one actually walks thru an art gallery too. Some may not like this layout but it worked for most of us. My 16 month old who just discovered walking enjoyed this corridor more than anyone.

The property features seven restaurants and bars, including alfresco service, casual snack spots and fine dining. Blue by Eric Ripert, is an elegant venue and recipient of three Michelin stars which we did not have a chance to dine at with two kids and an extended family with too many individual tastes.

This property is known for its 7 Wonders on 7 Mile Beach experience. The seven wonders include :

1. Golf- there is a 9-hole golf course-the only course on Grand Cayman.

2. Tennis - The tennis center was designed by renowned coach Nick Bolletteri and boasts three red-clay courts and one grass court. Lessons, workshops and a full tennis program are available for guests (surcharge).

3. Ambassador of the Environment - children's program designed and sponsored by Jean Michel Cousteau. Children learn through excursions, activities and programs about the Caymans and the Caribbean's natural environment.

4. Watersports - The Ritz offers all sorts of watersports rentals and will book diving, snorkeling, and fishing trips. For those who prefer pools, there are two outdoor pools (one beachfront and the other a quieter option close to the lagoon) and whirlpools. .

5. Spa - The full-service spa specializes in many types of treatments and pampering. Options include a la carte treatments, as well as complete pampering packages to address any beauty, health or relaxation need. The steam rooms and sauna are open to all resort guests free of charge.

6. Fitness - A very adequate gym on-site provides complimentary group classes, personal training, and the latest in muscle-pounding technogadgetry.

7. Beach - It's really about (5 1/2 miles) long, but who's counting? The translucent aquamarine waters are very inviting. Australian pines dot the background (except where there is a huge resort like the er.. Ritz of course), and the average winter temperature of the water is a perfect 80°. Wait staff parades around the beach front taking food & drink orders & delivers them to your chaise lounger or even into the water where one can sit on these floating table & chairs and enjoy lunch. There are cabanas available for rental, and there are plenty of free cushioned beach chairs with their own sun shades for guest use.

There are several categories of rooms, suites and even multi-room residences. The Standard Resort View and Ocean Front rooms are well-appointed but a bit small for my taste. Nevertheless, the top-end mattress are covered with feather duvets, down pillows and 400-thread-count designer Italian sheets that make these smaller rooms very accommodating! If you can splurge, go for the Blue Tip Suites which are 960 sq ft and include two 75-sq-ft private terraces. They do however need flat-screen TV's instead of those TV/Armoires that are just outdated. There is also wireless internet access in the rooms & all common areas of the resort so one can stay in touch all the while.

The staff, as always at a Ritz, couldn't do enough for you, all very friendly and helpful.

This is the absolute best property on 7 Mile Beach for luxury guests. It is an all encompassing resort chosen by high-end clients who do not mind the lofty prices. This is why there is a Tiffany Retail shop on premises! It is the top of the line in Grand Cayman and is a sure bet for those who expect the best.