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$5 million for a pudding!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Fregate Island is pulling out all the stops for Valentine’s Day next year as they create the world’s most expensive dessert.

The Ultra-luxury eco retreat has teamed up with South Africa Diamonds and the world’s leading diamond cutting company, Rosy Blue, to create the world’s most exclusive dessert, worth in excess of US$5 million. The masterly, one-of-a-kind confectioned chocolate tarte by Maitre Andre Barbe, Frégate’s chef patissier, is garnished with no fewer than 929 diamonds, totalling 151.92 carats – including seven individual stones of between 5.05 and 9.04 carats.

The perfect Valentine’s Day present for the girl who seemingly has everything, the diamond-studded dessert is priced at US$5,310,000 (approximately £3.33 million) and comes complete with two First Class Emirates Airlines tickets to the Seychelles from any destination in the world, and a one week full board stay for two at Frégate Island Private. Having whisked their loved one to this extraordinary tropical haven, the purchaser can take their pick of picture-postcard private locations in which to present the ‘ice’ on the cake!

The diamonds, independently certified by the Gemological Institute of America, include one worth over US$1million on its own – an 8.04 carat, internally flawless Round Brilliant stone colour graded D. A further two internally flawless stones weigh 7.05 and 6.63 carats respectively, while the largest of the diamonds, at 9.04 carats, is graded VVS1 for clarity.

For more information on Frégate Island Private, please call tel: +49 69 86 00 42 980, or visit the website at www.fregate.com.

The Savoy Story – ITV get exclusive access

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Tonight (Monday 13th December 2010), ITV take you on an exclusive behind the scenes tour of how the luxury London hotel, The Savoy swallowed up £220m and 2 years during its record breaking refurbishment.

“You will be the wind beneath the guests’ wings. I am extremely passionate about what I do…I want to make this the best hotel, I’m going to say in the world, because I think we will.”

Sean Davoren, Head Butler, The Savoy, to his new team of butlers ahead of the hotel’s reopening.

The Savoy was Britain’s first luxury hotel and for over 100 years it has been synonymous with extravagance, glitz and glamour.

Now, for the first time, cameras have been allowed into this exclusive and elegant establishment to witness the closure and re-opening of the hotel after a staggering £220m, two year refurbishment.

ITV1’s The Savoy has been allowed unprecedented access at key points from the moment 650 staff were told the shocking news that the hotel was to close, to the moment the swivel doors started turning again more than three years later.

The cameras were there to capture all the crucial stages of the restoration, which took twice as long and cost twice as much as it was originally expected to. And we see how the hotel and its staff fare in the first weeks following its grand reopening.

From the builders and the butlers to the boss, key staff members talk to the programme about their part in reclaiming the glamour and glory of the iconic hotel, providing a revealing insight during one of the most pivotal moments in its illustrious existence and the people striving to meet the challenge of restoring its stature as a global leader in elegance, luxury and service

Project manager, John Ferrari, is seen ruthlessly enforcing the strict health and safety codes to the hordes of workers and expressing his grim determination to ensure what he describes as the biggest hotel refurbishment ever carried out in Europe meets its deadline for completion. As the pressure mounts in the race to get the hotel finished in time to receive its first guest, he leads cameras through the hotel’s labyrinth of unfinished corridors and even into the £10,000 a night Royal Suite.

Head butler, Sean Davoren, who has been a butler for 30 years and served every European royal family, leads a rigorous recruitment drive to select and train a team of world class butlers, for the hotel’s reinstated butler service – the first time the hotel has offered this service in 50 years.

And general manager, Kiaran MacDonald is followed at close quarters as he sees the refurbishment project through from start to finish, patiently waiting for the moment when the hotel will finally reopen.

The first film sees the day the hotel closed its doors to its last customer before the restoration process began.

When the hotel first opened in 1889, it was the height of modernity and the first hotel to have electric lights, lifts and en-suite bathrooms. As the hotel prepares for a full closure for the first time ever and the customers leave the building, Kiaran is on hand to reassure them about the changes that are about to be made.

He tells one customer: “There’ll be absolutely some changes, but the changes will enhance what we have today, it’s a restoration project.”

Out of the 650 staff who worked at The Savoy, only 25 were promised a job when the refurbishment was finished. Head receptionist Oli Ormond was one of them. He tells the programme: “We have had some people who are a little bit angry with us that we are ruining an institution. The Savoy is an icon of London, but, overall, people have been happy and are looking forward to seeing what we are going to come back with.”

The cameras visit the hotel a month before it is supposed to re-open, but it is still like a building site and the £100m budget has already been spent.

Chorus Construction Group project manager, John Ferrari, gives the cameras a guided tour of the building. He says: “This is, without a doubt, the largest hotel refurbishment ever in the whole of Europe.”

Kiaran explains that the project has over run due to a structural problem which only became apparent once work began.

The documentary revisits the hotel 18 months later when the end is in sight. Staff are starting to be hired, carpet is being laid and the £80,000 glass fountain is being lifted into place at the hotel’s entrance.

Three hundred thousand pounds has been spent on new uniforms for every member of staff from the chef to the front of house staff. Head butler Sean declares: “The uniform is everything. This is my stage clothes and I perform when I wear these clothes and so I have to feel comfortable in it for me to do what I want to do. It’s everything for me because I change from Sean to The Butler, when I put this uniform on. I do feel changed. I want customers and people to look after.”

Twenty-eight thousand people applied for 600 positions at the hotel and Sean is in charge of hiring the butlers.

John shows the cameras the hotel’s Royal Suite, which runs the entire length of the building. The suite boasts two bedrooms, a private dining room for 12 and a shoe cupboard with its own climate control.

As the restoration nears completion, the documentary follows Kiaran as he announces to his staff the exciting news that the hotel is going to re-open.

John and his team have a new deadline to meet and he tells the programme: “The goal posts have moved so many times but we will hit target, it’s not an option, we will hit target, as simple as that. If we don’t, we’ve failed, but I have never been on a job that’s failed.”

On the day of completion, the cameras are there as Kiaran prepares to take receipt of the keys from Chorus and move his staff in. Along with the 600 staff members, 600 pieces of specially commissioned art, 2000 chairs, 270 flat screen TVs, and 52,0000 pieces of china will also be moved in to add the finishing touches to the hotel.

Sean is now able to train his team to do everything from run a guest’s bath to dress them. He tells them: “I want to get you hyped up, I want to get you into that mode…and that is the mode of a butler. You will be the wind beneath the guests’ wings. I am extremely passionate about what I do…I want to make this the best hotel, I’m going to say in the world, because I think we will.”

As the hotel is now owned by a different company, the doormen and the receptionists explain that they will be learning to do things in a new way. Every staff member has to take part in a training day with one phrase at the heart of it: ‘I am Savoy’. During the training the staff are encouraged to do Mexican waves, singing, miming and role play to prepare them for their new jobs.

Sean says: “I’m like a little excited child…counting the days to Christmas. That buzz you get out of that guest, those challenges that are put in front of you, they make my day.”

After six weeks of moving in, the cameras are there as the staff prepare for their first guests. Kiaran is overseeing delivery of the final plants and blinds, while Sean advises his team to sit on the toilet of each guest room to see what the guest sees and make sure everything is perfect.

Finally, the head chef is preparing every one of the 36 dishes on the menu for Kiaran to sample and Oli and the other receptionists face the ultimate nail-biting dress rehearsal when Clarence MacLeod from the head office jets in from Canada to test the service.

Will they pass the test and be ready for the arrival of their first guest?

Source: ITV.com

Raymond Blanc is appointed Vice President of Orient-Express Hotels

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Orient-Express Hotels has appointed Raymond Blanc OBE, founder and Chef Patron of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, England, as Vice President of Orient-Express Hotels.

Mr. Blanc has maintained a close relationship with Orient-Express since he partnered with the company upon the acquisition of the two star Michelin restaurant and 32 room hotel, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in 2002.

In his new role as Vice President, Blanc will assist with the entire Orient-Express portfolio of hotels, trains and cruises, working with the existing teams to improve and enhance upon their culinary offerings. The first such project will take place at Orient-Express Hotels’ Santa Barbara, California property, El Encanto, scheduled to open in 2012. Here Raymond Blanc will be designing the hotel’s restaurant and oversee execution of the culinary concept.

“Raymond is one of the world’s most talented chefs and he has an amazing track record of encouraging his colleagues on to greater achievement. No less than 25 Michelin starred Chefs trained with Raymond at some point in their careers,” said Paul White, President and Chief Executive of Orient-Express Hotels. “I know my colleagues in Orient-Express restaurants and kitchens all over the world will be delighted to have his input and benefit from his knowledge.”

Raymond Blanc said he was delighted to work more closely with Orient-Express hotels around the world. “Unlike many hotel companies, Orient-Express runs its own restaurants and the reason they are successful is because they really aren’t hotel dining rooms, but restaurants in the true meaning of the word. There are still many ways to enhance these offerings and I look forward to this opportunity to get more involved with my Orient-Express colleagues.”

Holiday Offers at the Ballantyne Hotel, Charlotte

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

A luxury hotel in North Carolina is celebrating the spirit of the season with a glittering array of offers and events. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge features an assortment of signature events such as holiday brunches, Tea with Mrs. Claus and the Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge, as well as brand new additions such as Brunch with Santa and New Year’s Day Brunch. In addition, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge recognizes that the holiday season is the perfect time of year to give back to the community with a portion of the proceeds from Tea with Mrs. Claus to benefit the Lift Up Foundation, as well as the proceeds from Gingerbread Village and the Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge going to Levine Children’s Hospital.

Holiday Room Rates
For visiting family and friends or an escape from a hectic holiday season, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is the place to stay with a special rate starting at $179. The holiday rate is available November 19 through November 30 and December 17 through January 9, 2011. To make a reservation, visit www.theballantynehotel.com or call 1-888-627-8048.

Holiday Events at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge
From elegant ballrooms to Gallery Restaurant’s intimate Ardissone Room, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge offers a variety of exceptional event space options for social events. Holiday brunch, lunch and dinner packages start at $30 per guest. In addition, the hotel is offering 10% off parties hosted Sunday – Thursday as well as a complimentary room for the planner. Food & beverage minimums do apply. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge’s staff of experienced catering managers will plan the event from start to finish, taking care of all details to ensure that this holiday season is as stress-free as possible. For more information, please call 704-248-4035 or e-mail celebrations@theballantynehotel.com.

Thanksgiving Brunch
Join The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge for a favorite tradition with Thanksgiving Brunch on Thursday, November 25, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Leave the cooking to The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, and enjoy an endless array of seasonal salads, decorative displays, carving stations with regional accompaniments and decadent desserts. Cost is $55 per person, $28 for children, ages 5-12, and complimentary for children ages 4 and under (pricing does not include tax and gratuity). Private dining rooms are available for larger groups.  Reservations are required. To make a reservation, please call 704-248-4100 or visit www.gallery-restaurant.com.

Hot Chocolate & Toddies
Get cozy at the Veranda on Friday – Sunday, 3 pm – 5 pm throughout December. Enjoy hot chocolate with the option to add Godiva liqueurs and a selection of garnishes. The cost is $5 and $8 with liqueur.

Tea with Mrs. Claus
On Sunday, December 5, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., celebrate the holidays with all things girly at this year’s Tea with Mrs. Claus honoring Ellie Potvin, a beautiful little girl who lost her courageous battle with pediatric cancer earlier this year. This perfectly pink tea will be the ultimate tea gathering for little ladies and their mothers with sweet treats, crafts and story time. Children are encouraged to wear their holiday best or favorite princess dress. An adult must accompany children. Cost is $40 per child and $20 per adult, with 10% of the proceeds benefiting the Lift Up Foundation, dedicated to supporting families fighting against pediatric cancer. Reservations are required at 704-248-4100.

Gingerbread Village Professional & Amateur Competition
The gingerbread house competition offers two independent categories for professional and amateur entries. The grand prize in both categories is an overnight stay in the luxurious presidential suite at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge with breakfast in bed and dinner for two in Gallery Restaurant. Entry forms are available online at www.theballantynehotel.com. Please contact Erin Hunter at 704-248-4038 or ehunter@theballantynehotel.com for more information. Gingerbread house applications must be submitted by Saturday, December 4 and houses need to be delivered by Friday, December 10. Judging will take place on Saturday, December 11 at 5 p.m.

Gingerbread Village
Enjoy an enchanting collection of gingerbread houses throughout the holiday season. From December 11 through December 26, the creative display is open daily to the public. Attendees may vote on their favorite gingerbread house with $1 minimum donation per vote. All proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital, dedicated to caring for the physical and emotional needs of children and their families. 

Cooking School – No Place Like Home for the Hollandaise
On Saturday, December 11, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., learn how to prepare hearty sauces for the holiday season. The cost is $65 inclusive per person. To make a reservation, please call 704-248-4100.

Brunch with Santa
Santa Claus is coming to The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge for brunch on Sunday, December 12, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Children of all ages will enjoy sitting on Santa’s lap and a delightful brunch buffet including breakfast items, a carving station and decadent desserts. Please bring cameras for photos with Santa Claus. The cost is $39.95 for adults, $19.95 for children, ages 5-12, and complimentary for children ages 4 and under (pricing does not include tax and gratuity). Reservations are required at 704.248.4100 or www.gallery-restaurant.com.

Handbell Choir Performance
The Chancel Handbell Choir from First United Methodist Church in Gastonia will perform in the Main Lobby providing holiday cheer for hotel guests and locals on Saturday, December 18, 10 a.m. – Noon.

Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge
The holiday season presents the perfect opportunity to showcase a favorite holiday treat or special family recipe at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. On Sunday, December 19, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., enter a homemade cupcake or cookie in the Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge. The cost for entry is $10, which will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge’s culinary team will select three winners in each category based on taste and presentation. The grand prize for each category is an overnight stay in a Parlor Suite with breakfast in bed. To enter a recipe, please complete the entry form available online at www.theballantynehotel.com. Registrations are due by Thursday, December 9. Contact Katie Saunders at 704-248-4007 or ksaunders@theballantynehotel.com for more information.

Peninsula Hotels take a ‘Mini’ Adventure

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

MINI TAKES MANHATTAN AND CHICAGO AS THE PENINSULA WELCOMES NEW BESPOKE MINI COOPER S CLUBMAN CARS

The ultimate accessories for city shopping and sightseeing, suite guests can enjoy the complimentary chauffeur-driven MINIs which continue The Peninsula tradition of customized vehicles

The holidays will bring more than just good tidings beginning in November when The Peninsula New York and The Peninsula Chicago each unveil two customized MINI Cooper S Clubman vehicles. Offered as a complimentary amenity to suite guests, the high-performance head-turners will be a treat for those guests seeking some motoring thrills as they are whisked away for a shopping spree or sightseeing adventure around town.

At The Peninsula New York, guests who book a suite will have access to a MINI for up to three hours per day during their stay. The chauffeured vehicles can be used for shopping excursions or sightseeing around Manhattan. The hotel’s Chef Concierge, Frederick Bigler, has developed a series of self-guided three-hour motoring tours that highlight city sights, from a trip to the famous Cloisters museum located at the very northern tip of Manhattan to a shopping tour of the Meatpacking District, and each experience can be paired with directions and customized tips available on the guest’s choice of an iPhone or iPad, which are available for use during the duration of their trip. As an added enticement, The Peninsula New York is offering The Suite Life promotion providing guests a complimentary second night when booking a two-night suite-level stay.

The Peninsula Chicago offers complimentary use of the chauffeured MINIs to suite-level guests for up to three hours per day. The hotel’s Chief Concierge, Todd Nelson, has designed a series of selfguided tours focusing on popular themes, including: family, culture, romance, outdoor excursions, entertainment, dining and of course, shopping sprees. Guests can direct the driver as they wish within the city limits, or simply use the sample tours provided by the Concierge. Examples of adventures include Famous Chicago Movie Scenes, Chicago Neighborhood Tours, an Engagement Surprise Ride and a Holiday Season Tour. An iPhone is available for guests’ use during their trip and provides directions and information for the various excursions.

“We are pleased to introduce these delightful additions to our transportation fleet,” said Peter Borer, Chief Operating Officer of Peninsula Hotels. “At The Peninsula Hotels, we believe the journey is part of the adventure. With transportation options ranging from rooftop helicopters and helipads to rare vintage cars and our bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantoms, we have made innovative and luxurious transportation part of the Peninsula signature experience. Our new MINIs offer Peninsula signature style along with that extra bit of flair and fun.”

The Peninsula Hotels has a long history of providing stylish rides for their guests, including the Hong Kong property’s legendary fleet of 14 Rolls-Royce Phantoms and four 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom IIs belonging to The Peninsula Hong Kong, The Peninsula Tokyo, The Peninsula Shanghai and The Peninsula Paris, all finished in signature Peninsula Green. The Peninsula most recently collaborated with BMW, the parent of the Rolls-Royce and MINI brands, to create a custom-made bespoke MINI Cooper S Clubman, with the personalization process of these compact, yet dynamic, vehicles taking over two years to perfect. The MINIs first debuted at The Peninsula Hong Kong in December 2009, and the tradition now continues this November at The Peninsula hotels in New York and Chicago, with Tokyo in January 2011.

Taking into consideration the specific requirements of the hotels and their guests, MINI engineers and designers worked closely with The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited and Martin Oxley, The Peninsula Hotels’ Fleet Vehicle Manager, to develop a number of dedicated features. These include a custom-illuminated Peninsula logo on door entry sills, leather finishing to match the existing Rolls-Royce interiors, and the signature Peninsula Green colour that adorns every vehicle in the hotel’s transport fleet. Each car is also specially fitted with a tailor-made rooftop box providing extra cargo space, a mini-fridge offering complimentary refreshments, and an iPhone to add to guests’ comfort and convenience.

The new Peninsula MINIs are evocative of two larger-than-life toys, reminiscent of the much-loved range of Matchbox® cars dating from the 1950s.

The Peninsula MINI Clubman Specifics:
• Exterior finished in Peninsula Green
• The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited crest on both doors
• Mini fridge in rear for refreshments & cold towels
• iPod/iPhone connection in front and rear for guest use
• Mounted rooftop box to carry guests’ shopping, incorporating The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited crest on front and rear, trimmed in Green Everflex leatherette and printed with Peninsula logo
• Illuminated Peninsula logo on door entry sills
• Rear door, windscreen pillars and filler cap painted in Peninsula Green
• Roof rails • Run-flat tires

Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa joins the Luxury Collection

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The Luxury Collection from Starwood Hotels & Resorts will take over the day to day operation and manage the Chilean Luxury Hotel Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa. The property will undergo renovations to its rooms and suites and will become a part of The Luxury Collection’s exclusive portfolio in December 2010.

Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa is ideally situated in the Araucanía region 435 miles south of Santiago, surrounded by lakes, volcanoes and mountains. Guests can easily arrive by car, or by plane at the Temuco Airport. The Villarrica and nearby Pucón areas are renowned for their unique natural environment, characterized by snow capped volcanoes, crystal clear lakes and rivers, thermal baths, ski centers and vast national parks. Additionally, the area features the archeological remains of the Spanish colonial period blended with the influence of the “Mapuche” Indigenous culture, Chile’s first inhabitants.

Built in 2002, Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa is surrounded by stunning landscapes and vegetation and has spectacular panoramic views from every one of its 70 rooms and suites. The hotel offers spacious meeting rooms for events, conventions or incentive groups, with state of the art technology and access to its 24-hour business center. The hotel was recently named “Best South America Resort–2010″ by World Travel Awards.

“We are excited to strengthen our presence in Chile, one of the Latin American fastest growing economies,” said Osvaldo Librizzi, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Latin America. “We are proud to welcome international travelers to our second Luxury Collection Hotel in Chile, joining the San Cristobal Tower Hotel in Santiago. Our guests already trust The Luxury Collection for exceptional and highly personal luxury travel experiences.”

“The Luxury Collection is a portal to the world’s most enriching and desirable destinations, where nothing less than an exceptional level of service, perfect location and indigenous personal offerings will do,” said Paul James, Global Brand Leader, The Luxury Collection and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa, with its unrivaled natural surroundings, will undoubtedly offer global travelers unique and spectacular experiences in one of South America’s most culturally diverse and vibrant destinations.”

“This is an enormous step in the history for our Company. Joining Starwood Hotel’s & Resorts’ acclaimed Luxury Collection brand will significantly increase the recognition of the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel as well as give broader international exposure to the uniqueness of the Aracucania Region located in southern Chile. Additionally, the renovations already underway in anticipation of joining the Luxury Collection Brand will allow us to even better deliver to all our guests the highest level of service which they have come to expect when visiting the hotel,” said Tamara Kaufmann, Executive Director of Grupo Hotelera Aguas Verdes S.A.

Dining at any of the 3 restaurants featured at the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa indulges the senses with diverse menus ranging from modern interpretations of authentic Chilean cuisine to exceptional international dishes. The gourmet restaurant, “Aguas Verdes”, which offers it’s up to 120 guests a spectacular view of Lake Villarrica, serves both local and international cuisine delights.

The hotel’s bar lounge, and both swimming pools also directly look out onto the lake, inviting guests to further relax amidst breathtaking sunsets. Guests are invited to unwind at the hotel’s luxurious spa, featuring a variety of indigenous treatments, fully equipped sauna and steam room, as well as a fitness center and indoor/outdoor pools.

With the opening of the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa, Starwood Hotels & Resorts operates 7 hotels in Chile including the San Cristobal Tower, A Luxury Collection Hotel, W Santiago, Sheraton Santiago Hotel & Convention Center, Sheraton Miramar Hotel & Convention Center in Viña del Mar Four Points by Sheraton Santiago and Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles. In Latin America, Starwood is proud to feature 11 stunning and unique Luxury Collection Hotels in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru, among its 64 properties located in 12 Latin American countries.

Hotels to know: Amara Selous – a luxury safari lodge in Tanzania

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

River view at Amara Selous

Amara Selous is the first camp of the Amara Collection. Amara Collection promise a line of luxury boutique tented camps within Tanzania and if their first is anything to go by, we are in for a treat when they open in Ruaha and Ngorongoro next year.

Amara Selous opened in March 2010 and is already receiving great acclaim from guests. “best game lodge in East Africa”, “unforgettable stay”, and “amazing experience” are just some of the comments posted on TripAdvisor about this unique and luxurious property.

The ultra luxury Selous property offers 12 suites of 90 square meters of air-conditioned luxury inside space with king beds and opulent bathrooms. Outside, you have an additional 40 square meters where an outside hot shower and rock plunge pool provides the perfect secluded escape from the African sun.

Of course, there is more to the Amara experience than just luxury bedding, outdoor showers and plunge pools! Tanzania is home to an incredibly diverse wildlife and as the afternoon sun sets, your safari guide will lead you on an evening safari where you can discover the intimate aspects of the African bush… identify animal tracks, feeling the rustle of a scuttling impala and relishing in the nature that surrounds you. At nightfall you’ll be treated to a dining spectacular always under the attentive eye of your personal butler… dining locations vary each night to take advantage of the conditions… you could be in the heart of the wilderness, on the riverbank, the pool’s shallow overflow or if you prefer, on your private veranda.

Day break brings a new perspective to the bush and if you can shake the fussy head, your guide will lead you to illuminate the new day and the unique beauty of dawn over the African bush… now you’re truly living ‘Africa’.

Landing strip at Amara Selous

Riverside Dining at Amara Selous

Leading Hotels of the World add 7 new Luxury Hotels to their collection

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Leading Hotels of the World has just announced the following new member hotels in the following locations: Bahrain, Egypt, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United States, Barbados and the Dominican Republic.

1

Al Areen Palace & Spa, Bahrain

Rating: 5 Star

Al Areen Palace & Spa, an all-villa resort blending Middle Eastern palace style with contemporary flair, is situated 35 minutes from Manama, Bahrain. Guest accommodations are in 78 one- and two-bedroom villas — each with a private outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, dining room and authentic Arabic majlis or sitting area; some also have private kitchens. Restaurant offerings include Al Bustan for all-day dining; El Morocco featuring regional specialties and live entertainment; L’Ile for grilled meats and seafood; Vertigo Bar & Lounge; the Lobby Lounge and Pool Bar. For recreation there are squash and tennis courts, the Al Areen Spa & Hydrotherapy Center, an outdoor garden hammam, fitness center and kids club. In addition, there are meeting facilties for up to 500.

82% of TripAdvisor reviewers recommend this hotel

2

Kempinski Nile Hotel Garden City, Cairo, Egypt

Rating: 5 Star

Situated on the east bank of the river Nile, in the historical area of the city, the newly opened Kempinski Nile Hotel Garden City is the first and only luxury boutique hotel in Cairo, Egypt. Located directly on the eastern bank of the Nile River, the hotel was designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, and boasts the ultimate concepts of luxury blending Egyptian and European charm and hospitality, within the exotic bustle of the city. All of the 191 rooms and suites offer spectacular garden, city or river views. Dining options include The Blue, for international fare; Osmanly, for Turkish, Lebanese and Egyptian specialties; Chic Dining, for contemporary French cuisine; Chocolate Lounge and the Jazz Bar. There is an outdoor swimming pool, health club, and a spa scheduled to open before the end of the year.

85% of TripAdvisor reviewers recommend this hotel

3

One&Only The Palm, Dubai

Rating: 5 star

One&Only The Palm is nestled on a peninsula of Palm Jumeirah – easily accessible by car or water taxi from the center of Dubai. Blending Moorish and Andalusian-inspired architecture with contemporary chic interiors, its 94 stylish guest accommodations are secluded in a residential environment within the tri-level Manor House, in low-rise mansions and in beachfront villas boasting spectacular views of the gulf and the impressive skyline of the city. Food and beverage outlets include The Conservatory, serving Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines; the Marina Restaurant & Lounge, for al fresco dining; and a contemporary Italian restaurant. The One&Only Spa and fitness center are complemented by a swimming pool, marina and private beach.

See this hotel on TripAdvisor

4

Zulu Camp at Shambala Game Reserve, South Africa

Rating: 5 Star

The intimate Zulu Camp at Shambala Game Reserve is located northwest of Johannesburg, approximately 2 ½ hours by car from the Waterberg Mountain range in South Africa. With its eight chalets, it offers visitors a unique experience in the heart of the Bushveld, with streams from the nearby river running through the camp. The area is home to the big five (leopard, lion, elephant, black and white rhino and buffalo), as well as predators such as cheetah and spotted hyena. All comforts are catered for with chic furnishings, king-size beds, mini-bars and patios. All bathrooms have indoor and outdoor
showers, an oversized bathtub and separate WC. Rates include all meals and a selection of beverages in Restaurant at Zulu Camp and the Shambala Bar. The multitude of recreation choices includes game viewing, elephant safaris, bush picnics, sunset crises, The Shambala Spa, and an outdoor pool.

 

5

The Setai Fifth Avenue, New York

Rating: 5 star

With its ideal location at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 36th Street in the heart of midtown Manhattan, The Setai Fifth Avenue offers its guests easy access to shopping, sightseeing, and New York City’s finest museums. Its 214 rooms, suites and apartments – some with private balcony and fully stocked kitchen – are among the largest in the city. Exotic materials create warmth, harmony and a balance between modern design and intimate allure. For memorable dining, Ai Fiori presents Mediterranean specialties under the expert guidance of Chef Michael White. The Bar on Fifth is ideal for enjoying sophisticated cocktails. Weary travelers can unwind in the Auriga Spa, and revitalize in the fitness center.

xx% of TripAdvisor reviewers recommend this hotel

6

Sandy Lane, Barbados

Rating: 5 star

The legendary Sandy Lane is located on the western coast of Barbados, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, set amidst a mahogany grove fronting a 1000-foot expanse of white sand beach. There are 112 rooms and suites, each with its own private verandah with garden or ocean views; and a 5-bedroom villa. A variety of restaurants includes L’Acajou, serving gourmet cuisine de Provence; Bajan Blue, offering international fare with Caribbean influences; The Country Club Restaurant; The Spa Café; Monkey Bar; Beach Bar and Pool Bar. For recreation and relaxation, guests can choose among a 47,000-square-foot spa, 45 holes of championship golf; a swimming pool, fitness center and tennis club. There is also The Treehouse Club for kids and teens.

80% of TripAdvisor reviewers recommend this hotel

7

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

Rating: 5 Star

Casa de Campo lies on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic just outside the town of La Romana. Nestled along the Caribbean Sea, the massive resort is situated within a 7,000-acre expanse with fantastic views of the mountains. Guest accommodations are in 215 rooms, suites and villas. Casa de Campo has a choice of over 20 restaurants such as the Beach Club by Le Cirque as well as 15 bars and lounges. Explore the beauty of the Dominican countryside on horseback, or enjoy the thrill of a polo match played by resident teams of the resort’s Equestrian Center. Other exciting features of this tropical playground include: La Terraza Tennis Center (dubbed the “Wimbledon of the Caribbean”), Cygalle Healing Spa, three golf courses designed by master golf architect Pete Dye, over 45 retail shops, a wedding chapel and heliport. Ideal for families, the resort features extensive programs for all ages from toddlers to teens.

73% of TripAdvisor reviewers recommend this hotel

2 New Luxury Hotels in the Maldives to watch out for in 2011

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based luxury hospitality company and member of Dubai Holding, has revealed the new brand name of its first resort currently under way in the Maldives: Jumeirah Dhevanafushi (formerly Jumeirah Meradhoo).

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi is an exclusive all suite resort and scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2011. Situated in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, 400 km south of the capital city of Malé, it is located in an area of extraordinary beauty surrounded by unspoiled coral reefs.

The intimate resort comprises 22 island villas, offering a distinctive residential feel, as well as an exclusive water village, called the Hermitage Collection, including 16 ocean villas, that are separated from the main island. The Hermitage Collection at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi is resplendently poised for the most discerning traveller wanting to experience a truly unique level of remote luxury. The villas, named Revives and Sanctuaries, range from 200m² to 600m² in size and offer stunning sea views, direct access to the beach and 24 hour butler service. The design of the bountiful bedrooms is inspired by traditional Maldivian architecture.
 
The resort features three restaurants and a bar with a variety of culinary options, as well as a Talise Spa with imaginatively designed over water treatment rooms and extensive sports and leisure facilities.

The second property under way in the Maldives is Jumeirah Vittaveli. The five star deluxe family resort is located in the South Malé Atoll and is scheduled to open in March 2011.

Westin Tabor Center Name Changes to The Westin Denver Downtown

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Westin Tabor Center announce the name change to The Westin Denver Downtown.

“The name change gives a more identifiable sense of place to our national and international customers,” states Tom Curley, The Westin Denver Downtown’s general manager. “The traveling public is increasingly dependant on the internet for travel plans, and the new name makes our destination in the heart of downtown Denver easier to identify.” He continued that the iconic Tabor Center is well-known to locals and Colorado residents alike, and the hotel will continue to partner with neighboring businesses such as the Palm Restaurant, Jon Ric Salon & International Day Spa and the Colorado Athletic Club, to name just a few.

The Westin Denver Downtown is located on the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, Colorado’s leading tourist destination, and just blocks from the Denver Center for Performing Arts, the Denver Convention Center, Coors Field, the Pepsi Center and the Denver Art Museum/Denver Public Library Complex.

The 430 room, Four-Diamond award-winning hotel boasts 25,000 square feet of meeting space, 24-hour room service, a WestinWORKOUT Gym and a roof deck pool with stunning mountain views. The hotel was recently awarded Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association’s first “Green Hotel” designation.