Monthly Archives: April 2017

Best Hotel Fireplaces This Winter

As winter closes in around the country, these hotels offer some of the most stunning and snuggle-worthy fireplaces to make even the worst weather not just tolerable, but maybe even desirable.

Located on the University of Minnesota campus, The Commons Hotel offers a distinctly collegiate feel complete with a library and fireplace right in the hotel lobby. Guests of the self-described geek-chic property in Minneapolis will find themselves gathered around the large fire, reading a selection from the hotel’s Book Butler or a novel plucked from nearby shelves.

Book a stay in the 1000-square-foot Grand Mansion Suite of the Wentworth Mansion in historic downtown Charleston to enjoy not one, but two floor-to-ceiling hand-carved marble gas fireplaces. Constructed in the late 1800’s as the home of a wealthy cotton planter, the Wentworth Mansion now houses an inn and award-winning restaurant. The Grand Mansion Suite also features original Italian crystal chandeliers and Tiffany glass in its design.

After biking the hills of Wine Country on a bike tour with Sonoma on a Bike or enjoying wine tastings at area vineyards, guests of the charming Hotel Healdsburg gather around the sleek, oversized sealed concrete fireplace in its lobby for one last toast of the day. An urban country inn located in Sonoma County, the hotel also offers a spa, garden pool and screened porch for warmer evenings.

Take a seat by the uber-cool fireplace in the speakeasy-like cigar lounge at luxurious Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch. Located on Beaver Creek Mountain in the Rockies, the lounge offers cigar pairings with spirits, beer or wine, so you can relax and unwind fireside with breathtaking mountain vistas. If you’re so inclined, you can even order a $2000 cigar.

At the Resort at Squaw Creek, guests will find one of the last remaining wood-burning fireplaces in a mountain resort. Inhale the fragrant scent of the fire and listen to the sounds of the wood popping as you take in the stunning view down Lake Tahoe’s Olympic Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The ski-in, ski-out resort also has several other outdoor fireplaces, as well as many in rooms.

There’s plenty of room to find a spot next to this fireplace in Chicago that seems to stretch for blocks. Billed as the largest fireplace in a U.S. hotel lobby, this 50-foot long spectacle at the Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago is framed by an intricate Egyptian brass screen. Take a break from gazing at the fire for a gander across the way at the lobby’s brick wall with backlit glass blocks, which are symbolic of the Chicago city lights as viewed from a distance.

At the Taj Boston hotel, one of the Leading Hotels of the World, you get not only your own fireplace, but your own fireplace butler. The Boston hotel’s Fireplace Suites package gets you a suite with wood-burning fireplace and a butler who will light the fire built with your preferred wood. Choose from birch, cherry, oak or Taj blend, depending on the desired scent. (Supples for s’mores are also provided.)

You may feel like you’ve stepped onto the African continent after a glance at this ornate fireplace. While these “big five” fireplaces are a staple of all Kalahari Resorts, which are African-themed indoor waterparks and hotels, the Pocono Mountains’ property boasts the grandest to date. See if you can spot all of the “big five” animals from Africa: lion, elephant, rhinocerous, leopard and cape buffalo (and even a giraffe thrown in for good measure). During the holidays, gather round the “big five” fire for story time.

Kick off your skis and dust off the powder next to this sleek freestanding glass fireplace at the Viceroy Snowmass located in Base Village. Warm your aching muscles next to the fire in the lobby, which reflects the hotel’s minimalist design that incorporates natural elements. Each of the property’s 173 rooms also offers a personal gas fireplace made from glass and granite for private snuggling.

Warm up next to a work of art at Renaissance New York 57 Hotel. This sculptural fireplace designed by Jordan Mozer contains tubes of individually hand-blown glass that surround the flames. The hotel, located on E. 57th Street in Manhattan, is the former residence of a 1920’s fashion designer, and much of the property’s design reflects that time period, while incorporating some modern touches.

The Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond American Club hotel boasts a beautiful four-paneled glass fireplace in their Eau de vie Suite. No need to even get out of bed to enjoy this fireplace, which is located between the bedroom and bathroom. Surrounded by uniquely-designed state-of-the-art Kohler plumbing and an overflowing bath with chromatherapy, the fireplace takes center stage in this luxury suite.

Science tells us that a mug of hot cocoa tastes best consumed next to this stone gem at the Ocean House in Rhode Island. Watch the snowflakes fall outside while you stay snug and warm indoors next to this original 1895 fireplace. The resort also offers a selection of regional books to peruse, or try your hand at solving the hand-crafted wooden Stave puzzle as the embers burn down.

Rich marble and black rock are the hallmarks of this eye-catching, freestanding fireplace at the W Minneapolis, the city’s first skyscraper. Featuring the building’s original Art Deco design and surrounded by dark, edgy furnishings, including oversized leather armchairs, there’s plenty of room to curl up with a glass of wine or good book on cold Minneapolis nights.

Inside Santa Fe’s most well-known and popular hotel, guests will find a Southwestern style hearth. La Fonda on the Plaza, located in the historic heart of the city and at the end of the legendary Santa Fe Trail, sits on the site of the town’s first inn in 1607. Grab a margarita from the hotel lounge and grab your spot next to the roaring fire as folks have done since the current building’s construction in 1922.

Want to Relax in These 10 Heavenly Hotel Hammocks

We have ancient Mayans to thank for the invention of the hammock – the ultimate symbol of slothdom. These soothing slings were originally made from the bark of a hamack tree, from which they derive their name.

Today, some of the most heavenly hammocks can be found at hotels and resorts across the tropics.  And because we love hammocks so much, we tracked down 10 that you should keep in mind for your next trip.

Old Man and The Sea Ocean Villas | Aruba

Dushi Sue Villa Overwater Bungalow

No need to travel all the way to the South Pacific for the overwater bungalow experience, as this boutique luxury retreat in Aruba’s sleepy suburb of Savaneta offers the identical stilted and thatched abodes. The owner of Old Man and The Sea Ocean Villas – a self-confessed hammock fanatic – has them hanging everywhere, even in a carved out sea pool.

The villas are set in calm, clear waters surrounded by mangroves and teeming with fish, so snorkeling after a sling sleep is just steps from your door. VIP holiday packages include toes-in-the-sand dining with a private chef and scads of luxurious extras.

Hamilton Princess Beach Club & Hotel | Bermuda

Hamilton Beach Bermuda 

The legendary “pink palace,” renowned for its first-class service over a century, the Hamilton Princess has placed their quintessential adult cradle right in the sea.

A short stroll into the Atlantic will find you swinging and swaying in the waves, and it’s large enough for two, so canoodling is encouraged. It’s an ideal place to steal away for a rest, which you’ll need if you partake of the multitude of activities this world-class resort has on offer.

Now Larimar | Dominican Republic

Dual hammock nirvana 

Living large with Now Larimar’s signature Unlimited Luxury  experience is a breeze when you book one of their oceanfront swim-out suites with dual hammocks on the deck. And you might never want to leave your delightful swinging day beds since they have unlimited 24/7 room service, too!

Though this resort exudes romance for couples, it’s also a treat for parents since their family-friendly services include one of the best complimentary kid’s and teen clubs around. Mom and dad can hang by the pool and sea for hours while their children enjoy all kinds of well-supervised and age appropriate creative activities.

Secrets Aura Cozumel | Mexico

Rafael Nadal at Secrets Aura

“Rock me gently, rock me slowly” is the vibe while immersed in the sea hammocks at Secrets Aura Cozumel – an adult-only, upscale all-inclusive resort. If you’re lucky, you might even see renowned champion tennis star Rafael Nadal rocking along with you since he holidays there every year, and the sea hammock is the first place he goes after a rousing game in the hot sun.

The sea there is also famous for its abundance of marine life, so you’re bound to have lots of colorful tropical fish swing by, too!

Mahekal Beach Resort | Mexico

Deck hammocks at Mahekal Beach Resort 

Mahekal Beach Resort is another outpost dedicated to the comforting cocoons of the ancient Mayans, and actually, most of this resort has been created with the Mayan way of living in mind.

Located on Playa del Carmen’s longest strip of beach, hand-laid, hidden stone pathways lead to 196 private, palapa-style bungalows with open-air terraces and crochet hammocks.

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita| Mexico

Four Seasons Punta Mita 

Still fairly undiscovered by hordes of sun-seeking tourists, Mexico’s Punta Mita is known for its luxury resorts and upscale homes dotting the lush mountains overlooking pristine private beaches around Banderas Bay.

The Fours Seasons exudes hedonism at its finest, and many of the suites have deck hammocks affording stunning views of the wild blue Pacific. You might even see whales and dolphins frolicking below, and the entire region is ideal for eco-touring.

Pacuare Lodge | Costa Rica

Treehouse Hammock Costa Rica 

You can rock-a-bye your baby in the treetops to your heart’s content while you’re eye-to-eye with tropical birds and monkeys in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Your tree house jungle hideaway in this unique eco lodge has dual hammocks on the deck, right in the thick of the protected nature reserve of Pacuare.

Take a life lesson from your neighboring sloths and simply hang out in leisure all day until it’s feeding time!

Nisbet Plantation Beach Club | Nevis

View from Nisbet Beach 

The only oceanfront ex-sugar plantation resort on the tiny island of Nevis is Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, aptly named for its lovely long stretch of soft sand.

Beyond the gorgeous stone ruins of the old sugar mill, you’ll find half-a-dozen hammocks strewn along the surf with a wonderful view of the waves and the dormant volcano peak of Mt. Nevis – which is often shrouded in cloud forest making it an ideal backdrop to spot rainbows over the sea.

PM 78 Urban Oasis | Curacao

Manmade urban beach hangout 

PM 78 Urban Oasis, a delightful boutique luxury hotel, is in the heart of the trendy downtown neighborhood district called Pietermaai, and it’s full of surprises. For instance, a manmade sand beach off their main “Beach House” suite cresting the rocky coast and wild waves – and lots of hammocks!

They offer six different room types and many have hammocks; there’s even one on the balcony of their top loft apartment. Enjoy watching the big ships cruise by from suspended perches.  You’ll also find yourself mere steps away from eclectic nightlife and cosmopolitan dining.

Le Phare Bleu | Grenada

Floating raft hammock Grenada 

It’s been scientifically proven that people fall asleep faster and sleep deeper in a hammock than in a regular bed, so now add the motion of the ocean and you have the formula for the perfect nap just waiting to happen.

Swim out to the raft in the crystal blue waters at Le Phare Blue’s boutique hotel to test out this theory, and discover if a floating hammock is even better than a stationary one. After your sea slumber, enjoy their unique brand of eco-friendly hospitality amid their award-winning gardens full of hummingbirds.

Travel to Hotels and Resorts in 2017

Sometimes a hotel is just a place to sleep. Other times, it’s a destination. The following hotel openings, scheduled from late 2016 to late 2017, belong to the latter category: worthy of trips in their own right.

Bhutan

Six Senses Bhutan

Five new lodges known collectively as Six Senses Bhutan are expected to open in August, offering inn-to-inn circuits. With 82 rooms in total, the lodges will reside in five areas: the capital of Thimphu; the rice farming region of Punakha; Gangtey, where black-necked cranes migrate; Bumthang, known for its monasteries; and Paro, near the dramatic cliffside Tiger’s Nest monastery. Rates to be announced.

Brazil

Palácio Tangará, São Paulo

In April, the European-based Oetker Collection of luxury hotels plans to open its first location in South America with the Palácio Tangará in São Paulo. The 141-room hotel next to Burle Marx Park aims to be an urban resort with a swimming pool and spa. The chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will oversee the restaurant and several bars. Rates from $450.

Canada

Parq Vancouver, Vancouver

Opening next fall beside BC Place stadium, the development known as Parq Vancouver straddles a convention destination and an entertainment center, including a casino, outdoor rooftop park, five restaurants and a spa. Its two hotels include the upscale 329-room JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the more intimate Douglas hotel with 188 rooms and an organic theme. Rooms from 429 Canadian dollars (about $321).

England

The Ned, London

This 252-room combo private club and hotel, set to open in the spring, gets its name from the designer of the 1930s-era bank that houses it: Sir Edwin Lutyens, known as Ned. A joint venture between Soho House & Company and the Sydell Group, the Ned will have pools on the rooftop and in the basement, nine restaurants — seven in the original banking hall — and a Cowshed spa. Rates from £250 (about $311).

Fiji

Kokomo Island

Just 21 rooms share the private 140-acre Kokomo Island, a Small Luxury Hotel opening in March. The Great Astrolabe Reef encircles the isle and an on-site dive center will equip undersea explorers. Each villa has its own plunge pool, and amenities include two restaurants and a tennis court. Arrive by helicopter or float plane from Nadi International Airport. Rooms from $1799.

Indonesia

Hoshinoya Bali, Ubud, Bali

Inspired by traditional villages in the rice-terraced region of Ubud, the Japanese-owned Hoshinoya Bali will open this month. Villas, each with its own plunge pool, line canal-like swimming pools that reference area irrigation systems. The spa will offer twice-daily yoga classes, the restaurant will prepare Balinese-Japanese fare, and guests can meditate in terraces elevated amid the palm canopy. Rooms from 9,000,000 Indonesian rupiah (about $671).

India

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur

It’s hard to find a more dramatic setting for a hotel than the towering Fort Bishangarh near Jaipur, a hilltop-walled fortress with gun turrets and six-foot-thick walls offering panoramic views of the Rajasthani region. Fifty-nine suites were added onto and around the 18th-century fort, which will house two restaurants and a spa when the Alila Fort Bishangarh opens in early 2017. Rooms from $280.

Italy

Il Castelfalfi, Tuscany

A medieval village, now filled with shops and restaurants, anchors the 2,700-acre Toscana Resort Castelfalfi resort. In April, it will add the 120-room Il Castelfalfi hotel, built to be energy efficient with biomass heating and water and food waste recycling. The new hotel will have a spa and restaurant, and guests will have access to the existing golf course, cooking school and winery. Rooms from 300 euros (about $312).

South Africa

The Silo, Cape Town

The new 28-room Silo hotel, built atop a series of former grain silos on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, will open in March. Designed by the architect Thomas Heatherwick, the hotel, its rooftop bar, pool and restaurant will precede the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in the lower portion of the building, expected in September. Rooms from 12,000 rand (about $853).

St. Kitts

Park Hyatt St. Kitts, St. George

In summer, the Park Hyatt St. Kitts will open overlooking the southern strait that separates it from its sibling island of Nevis. The Caribbean property will check in with 126 breezy rooms and suites, the latter with rooftop pools. Expect three restaurants, including an adults-only option in a stone barn, two swimming pools, a rum bar in the plantation-style great house, a spa and, nearby, golf. Rooms from $380.

Sweden

At Six, Stockholm

The first Preferred Hotels & Resorts member in Sweden, the design-focused At Six will open in March in central Brunkebergstorg Square. The 343-room hotel puts art at the center of the experience with curated exhibitions. The two-story rooftop restaurant Tak will serve food from the chef Frida Ronge, known for her Nordic-Japanese style. Rooms from $230.

Switzerland

Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne

On a mountain ridge above Lake Lucerne, the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne will replace three aging hotels with a 21st-century health resort set on 148 acres. Two of four new or rebuilt properties will open in spring along with 13 restaurants and bars, a golf course, three tennis courts and 43 miles of trails. By year end, expect two more hotels, including a 160-room doctor-staffed wellness lodge. Guests can reach the car-free resort by funicular. Rooms from 150 Swiss francs (about $146).

United States

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Is this the hotel that lures the tourists from Manhattan? When it opens in February, the 194-room 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge on Pier 1 will frame postcard views of the nearby bridge and skyline. The 11th-story rooftop will hold a pool lounge and fire pits, while a glassed-in cocktail lounge one floor below enables year-round swilling. The chef Seamus Mullen will handle food service. Rooms from $350.

21c Museum Hotel Nashville

The art-focused minichain 21c Museum Hotels will head to Nashville in May, transforming the Gray & Dudley Building downtown, a former hardware warehouse, into the 124-room boutique 21c Museum Hotel Nashville. The property will house a 10,500-square-foot contemporary art exhibition space with rotating shows and a restaurant from the chef Levon Wallace. Rooms from $299.

Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, St. Helena, Calif.

Spy the vineyards just outside your balcony at Las Alcobas, a new resort in Napa Valley that is scheduled to open this month. Six of the property’s 68 rooms reside in the 1905-vintage Acacia House, a former residence, along with a seasonally focused restaurant from the chef Chris Cosentino. There is also a five-treatment-room spa, and wineries are within walking distance. Rooms from $695.

MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md.

MGM Resorts imported Las Vegas east with the December opening of the 308-room MGM National Harbor overlooking the Potomac River just south of Washington. In addition to the 125,000-square-foot casino, amenities include a 3,000-seat theater (coming acts include Sting and Kings of Leon); celebrity-chef-run restaurants by Marcus Samuelsson and José Andrés; a clothing boutique from Sarah Jessica Parker; and a metal sculpture by Bob Dylan. Rooms from $299.

Wales

The Exchange Hotel, Cardiff

The 19th-century Coal Exchange building in Cardiff was badly deteriorated before the hotel developer Signature Living stepped in, saving the former regal headquarters of the coal industry and turning it into a 200-room hotel. Scheduled to open in March, the Exchange Hotelwill also include a memorial dedicated to World War I. Rates from £89 (about $110)

Hotels and Resorts for Romance of All Kinds

Romance is a malleable concept. For some, it’s rose petals strewed on the bed. For others, it’s the awe of the great wide open. With that in mind, here are some new and improved hotels and resorts to woo many ages and stages of love, from platonic crushes to wedded commitment.

Le Barthélemy

The French Caribbean island synonymous with wealth and style, St. Barts, as it is called, is known as a place for pampering. Its new 46-room Le Barthélemy hotel is on one of the island’s most exclusive beaches, Grand Cul de Sac, which is also part of a nature preserve. Garden- and ocean-facing rooms all have a terrace with a dining table ideal for room service breakfasts. With an infinity pool, stand-up paddleboards and a restaurant from the Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin, guests may feel little impulse to leave, though if they do, the resort will arrange a Mini Moke, the island’s signature car, and a picnic basket filled with roast chicken and rosé.

Rooms from 610 euros, about $650

Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens

The new Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens encompasses nine historic buildings dating back to 1790 that formerly comprised the Dow Museum of Historic Houses. Guests can book 30 rooms in seven of these Spain-meets-the-South homes built with ocean-harvested limestone bearing the imprint of shells. Guest rooms and suites include kitchenettes, and several have balconies, porches and fireplaces. The villagelike setting occupies an entire city block with walled gardens, a courtyard and pool, along with a guests-only bar in an early-20th-century garage.

Rooms from $199, including breakfast and a wine hour

The Resort at Paws Up

Travelers commune with nature, and each other, by camping — with the comfort of real beds and a staff to do the hunting, gathering and cocktail shaking — at the Resort at Paws Up in western Montana. Just 30 deluxe tents, spread over five riverside camps, each with its own chef, and an additional 28 luxury vacation homes share 37,000 acres of wilderness. The resort offers guided river rafting, horseback riding and massages. In June, Paws Up will introduce its sixth tented compound, the six-unit North Bank Camp, with two- and three-bedroom tents big enough for an entire wedding party.

Rates from $1,300, all-inclusive

The Germantown Inn

Whichever half of a couple books the new Germantown Inn in Nashville’s hip, bungalow-lined neighborhood gets bragging rights for style and location. Each of the six bedrooms in the 1865 home is named after a president, whose collaged portrait within encapsulates the history-with-a-wink décor. Broadway’s honky-tonks and the state capital are a walk away, but the acclaimed restaurants of historic Germantown are even closer. Downy beds and local Steadfast Coffee and pastries served in the courtyard encourage lazy mornings.

Rooms from $249

Austin Motel

The motel — that tryst-destination cliché — gets an update from the hotelier Liz Lambert in the form of the Austin Motel. Under new management, the 1938 icon on South Congress Avenue has been fully remodeled, retaining the phallic neon sign and kidney-shaped pool while updating the 41 rooms with splashy accents including lip-motif wallpaper and lip-shaped telephones. There’s a pool bar and plans to showcase local bands poolside.

Rooms from $125 

Timber Cove

Wine country meets the coast at bluff-top Timber Cove in Sonoma County. Built in 1963, the property closed for eight months last year for renovation and expansion, updating the knotty-pine-paneled rooms and the wood-and-stone Great Room and adding eight ocean-facing suites with decks and a new farm-to-table restaurant. Redwoods dot the property’s 23 acres and line hiking trails close by. Guests can explore area wineries and return to nightly campfires.

Rooms from $250; 

Holiday House

The owners of the hip Palm Springs hideaway Sparrows Lodge strike again with Holiday House, their newest desert retreat. Opening in May, the 28-room downtown hotel revives the original, built in 1951, with a Pop Art-inspired color scheme and prints by David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and the street artist Mr. Brainwash scattered throughout. The courtyard contains a pool, bar and restaurant serving light fare, but one distinct advantage Holiday House has is its location, which is walking distance to downtown shops, bars and restaurants.

Rooms from $199, including breakfast.

NYAH

Lovers of nature and night life can find both, and much more, on Key West. Lodging that everyone can afford on the island can be a challenge, but NYAH — Not Your Average Hotel — serves groups of friends ranging from two to six in flexible rooms where bunk beds can convert to doubles and couches to beds. That may sound like a dormitory, but guests will be pleasantly surprised to find classic Key West architecture with shady porches and several pools in the courtyard. A new bar adds to the social character of the Old Town property located in easy walking or cycling distance of most island attractions.

Rooms from $150 for up to six beds

Anvil Hotel

Adventure-loving besties can split their time between the wilds of Wyoming and the friendly confines of Jackson at the revived Anvil Hotel. Originally opened in the 1950s, the Anvil has been renovated in thoroughly frontier style with a wood stove in the general mercantile shop that acts as a lobby. Its 49 rooms contain an iron-frame bed or two. By day, nearby Grand Teton National Park beckons hikers, and the Snake River calls to anglers. By night, the pedestrian-friendly town offers plenty of diversions, from galleries and boutiques to a cowboy bar and restaurants, including the hotel’s own Italian trattoria, Glorietta.