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By John and Sandra Nowlan
The Crane Resort, situated on top of a rugged 30-40 metre cliff overlooking the open Atlantic Ocean, traces its origins to 1887. The prime attraction then, and now, is the magnificent, wide soft sand beach that spreads out below the resort and slopes gently into the warm, azure blue waters of the South Atlantic that stay a constant 24-27 degrees. There’s nothing to the east but ocean…and Africa. The eye-popping beach has been listed as one of the top 10 in the world by both Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and by the BBC.
Open ocean waves on this east side of Barbados can be dramatic and forceful, unlike the quiet and laid-back lifestyle of the resort itself. The marketing director, Joanna Robinson, told us that this gentle pace of life is not for everyone. “If you want a variety of water sports, a busy night life and lots of constant activity,” she said, “this isn’t the place for you.”
But apparently it’s that peacefulness and relative remoteness that makes it the ideal place for thousands of guests each year, mainly from Canada, the US and Britain, who book one of the 200 generously sized suites for a short holiday or a longer time share. Ranging in size between 800 and 4,000 square feet, all the rooms have full housekeeping facilities, elaborate mahogany
furniture including four-poster beds and multi-media entertainment choices that include CBC Television. Several have private plunge pools at their front door and most of the newer buildings (the resort is constantly
growing) have a two-story penthouse unit with a personal, oversize rooftop Jacuzzi. The well-maintained property also has a series of cascading swimming pools.
In spite of its age and historic features (the oldest part is well-preserved), The Crane seems determined to remain a top Caribbean resort by adding innovative features like free WiFi throughout the property and a new area called The Village with shops, cafés and even plans for a theatre.
It’s in The Village that an innovative Italian restaurant, D’Onofrios, sets a new standard for cuisine in this part of the world. The resort hired a top French chef from New York, Jean-Jacques Carquillat, to oversee and improve its culinary operation. His first focus was on D’Onofrios and, in our view, he succeeded admirably. He may be French but his pizza was the best we’ve ever enjoyed outside Naples and his antipasti was both imaginative and flavourful. Our two main courses, fresh snapper and Chicken Filini, were both infused with just enough herbs and spices to make our taste buds sing. Delizioso!
Chef Carquillat told us he’s now working on menus for The Crane’s International/Caribbean restaurant, L’Azure, which is perched on the edge of the coral cliff with spectacular views of the beach and open Atlantic. The resort also boasts an excellent Japanese/Thai restaurant called Zen and The Carriage House, the former stable 100 years ago at the Crane Beach Hotel, which has a bar and grill featuring an Island specialty, Flying Fish sandwiches.
Andrée Steel and Don Adams of Ottawa first visited Barbados five years ago continuing their policy of never vacationing in the same place twice. They told us that policy changed when they visited The Crane and fell in love with the property, the rooms, the amenities and the view. “Here on the east coast of Barbados we feel very safe and very comfortable in a warm, friendly
environment,” they said. “We come here to relax, not to rough it. On the way from the airport we stop for groceries and some great bottles of wine at prices that are comparable to Ontario.”
For them, and for us, that relaxation starts with a generous glass of the Caribbean’s best rum punch.
The Hazelton, located in Toronto’s prestigious Yorkville neighbourhood, is the city’s top art-centric hotel, boasting an extensive on-site contemporary art collection.
The art concierge will serve as an educational resource for guests and the general public regarding the surrounding art community; the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood alone is home to nearly 40 art dealers and galleries. The art concierge will also act as a go-to source for the hotel’s contemporary Canadian art collection.
by Barbara Kingstone
When uber fashionista, the late Diana Vreeland, told the fashion world, decades ago, that “the new black is pink”, she was referring to her colorful experience of seeing such vibrancy in India.- miles away from the black -clad style mavens of Manhattan and Paris.
This phrase has become so overused and it was my immediate reaction to emphasize my own interpretation of the recently opened Trump International Tower Hotel and Tower, in downtown Toronto. My instant reaction was “the new black is black”.
From the doorman and the rest of the staff, it’s done as though a top fashion designer had taken the reins.
From the granite floor design of most intricate interwoven squares of black mixed with shots of grey and ecru, this is a well thought out mixture of pattern and texture. It was easy to understand that the inspiration for the palette was champagne and caviar.
This is an obvious thread from the sensuous, curved black door framing to the elevators -one section for guests, the other for condo owners- and black was the ‘it’ hue. This played well against the lightest panels of white semi-precious onyx walls and the greige upholstered black framed chairs. One can’t miss the exquisite crystal sculpture, on an interruption of a dark aubergine wall that backs the reception desk. At night, when lights are dimmed to meet the outside dusk, this monumental crystal has noticeable purple which plays with the facets of the stones.
The sleek color scheme was indicative of the theme throughout the hotel. So it was no surprise when I visited a few suites that even the wide luxurious hallways had these shades. Another constantly seen theme but in a variety of colors, is cherry blossoms shown on some of the rugs, ceilings, over the bed photographs, on the filigree steel balustrade, all playing with the lighter shades which are often in damask silk panels.
So skillfully done, the palette throughout the hotel with the shots of dark and lighter shades is well thought out, and usually seen in the most modernistic decorated hotel. One has to think that this isn’t a building of the ultra modern genre of only glass and steel but sends a feeling of warmth with the stonework set off by the glass.
For me, one of the most impressive decor treeats,is a mural that greets guest at the porte cochere- the tip-off that this wasn’t just any hotel. All done in gold dotted, multi colored, mosaic tile, until you stand away from the 55,000 tile masterpiece, entitled, “A Small Part of Something Larger” by Canadian artist, Stephen Andrews, do you see that it’s a cross-section of people in seats at a sports venue. The cheers, well deserved.
Although there is a feeling of deja vu… of mid century furnishing combined with a most updated look, there are statement pieces seen in the choice of various chairs, some completely in gold leather near heavy crystal chandeliers. A plus to this eclectic mixture that works so terrifically, is the location in the Toronto’s financial area of Bay and King Streets. Every detail has been thought out and expense seemed not to be a concern. It is, after all, a perfect introduction to the wealth of this always growing city.
If, by chance, you had one too many and you didn’t know where you were except for the fact that you were in a nifty bar, you’d realize it quickly enough with the ticker over the mirrored back wall. This has to be a financial district with a very affluent crowd seated or standing along the bar which you’d probably transmit this evidence to your somewhat soused brain.
After 4PM, the small space is packed with the very upwardly mobile set of deal makers of all ages.. The name? Wait for it….SUITS. It’s the meeting place for those who have deep pockets from their investments in the good old times or those who were astute enough to know when to sell. It’s a bar that easily matches in price rates per flute, any 5 star Manhattan hotel. Decor and great service costs.
The long narrow restaurant…STOCK.. has a smoky screen of dainty lace inserted between the glass, the banquettes are theme-ready with light beige tufted velvet backs and black leather seats, the coffered ceiling, herringbone pattern wood flooring, black wood tabletops, fabric paneled walls, windows draped in light sheers and black on black velvet damask, side drapes. This creates an airy feeling but there’s also a sense of La Belle Epoque and a hint of romance at many of the tables. Who wouldn’t feel romantic?
While some are having their favored drink, many guests opt to stay in their majestic suites. The panoramic view is like a kinetic sculpture from just about every window..either a busy street scene below or Lake Ontario, where on a clear day you could make out Niagara Falls.(not the Falls but the silhouette of the city, about 2 hours from Toronto).
I’m a ‘newsy’ so having a TV in the bathroom is a plus. But here it’s not just any TV that swivels but a flat insert into the mirror.When turned off it becomes a black (of course) square set in the mirror.
And even the smallest detail is looked on as an important feature. A great example happen to be in the closet. A safety box is large enough for a lap top and there are four varieties of hangers …padded for the dainty dressed and tops, another set for heavy coats, also hangers for pants and suits.
Of course, there’s a spa. Quartz Crystal Spa has 19 treatment rooms and is on two levels. And now it seems that Trump is in the skin care business since shelves have a namesake selection of creams and lotions.
One thing is for sure, Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto may be theoretically black tones but there isn’t a dark area in this grand building. Guests depart knowing that they were well serviced by an amicable, friendly, well trained staff that happens to work in outstanding surroundings.
Black it may be, but there’s a lightness due to the quality and a definite dedication to class and comfort that trumps other Trumps.
Casa Moderna, the luxury boutique hotel located in the Marquis Residence on Miami’s Biscayne Blvd. “In a city like Miami that is renowned for exceptional and exciting hotels, it is particularly gratifying to know that our guests consistently recognize our efforts to provide a memorable experience,” said Matt Fenn, general manager of Casa Moderna Miami.
Located on Biscayne Blvd. in downtown Miami, the luxury boutique hotel is ensconced in the iconic 67-story Marquis building. The Arquitectonica-designed masterpiece contains some of the city’s most expensive, luxury residences. Casa Moderna offers the discerning traveler unparalleled service, spacious, sleekly-styled guest rooms, an 8,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, two 14th floor sky pools with sunrise and sunset views, and Amuse, a dining destination serving the freshest, up-to-the-minute cuisine crafted from locally-sourced ingredients. Casa Moderna sits at the epicenter of Miami’s vibrant downtown scene, within easy walking distance to the Adrienne Arsht Center, American Airlines Arena, the Port of Miami cruise terminal and the city’s financial district.
Newest Luxury Hotel to be Built in Swiss Alpine Village – Opens December.
The Alpina Gstaad, the newest luxury hotel to open in this Swiss Alpine village in 100 years, will feature a Six Senses Spa, it has been announced. Melding Swiss Alpine architecture with an Asian sensibility, P49 Deesign is creating a tranquil sanctuary in 21,500 square feet which is all curved walls and flowing spaces. Guests will literally be transported into a different world.
A hallmark of the Six Senses Spa at The Alpina Gstaad will be locally-inspired treatments using indigenous plants and Alpine herbs. Life coaching, detox programs, nutritional consultation and specialist therapies by visiting practitioners will be offered. More here
Think Surin, think seclusion, warm tropical hospitality and swaying coconut palms.This celebrated resort paradise in Phuket has been rejuvenated by its original designer, Paris-based architect Ed Tuttle who has artfully refreshed the 108 Thai beach cottages utilizing local materials and traditional designs fused with modern functionality. The cottages are connected by elevated walkways and all feature unobstructed views of the ocean, the finest white sandy beach at Pansea Bay, spacious bedrooms, bathrooms with his-and-hers vanities and high-tech electronic elements. All done up in custom made furnishings and warm, earthy, organic colors. The atmosphere is eclectic yet serene, the service is high touch yet unobtrusive. And for beach lovers and island enthusiasts, think no further. Surin is the place.
by Subhasish Chakraborty
A holiday in New Zealand is always very special and I have seen a number of my friends migrating to this country in search of greener pastures and promise of a good life. During my days as a student of
Tourism Management at the Trade Wings Institute of Management, Guwahati (Assam), quite a number of my close friends opted to migrate to New Zealand, given the fact that the Tourism industry in New Zealand is booming and the prospect of jobs in the Tourism industry is quite encouraging.
Rajesh Goyal was one such buddy who left India lock, stock and barrel. Hailing from a business family and given the fact that terrorism was eating into the vitals of Assam’s economy, the Goyal family decided enough was enough and after successfully overcoming the rigorous immigration procedures, finally settled down in the city of Auckland.
Its been almost a decade now and with Goyal family’s burgeoning spices business doing really well in the promised land, Rajesh decided it was about time he tied the nuptial knot. In spite of the fact that I was engrossed with my job as a Travel Writer, crisscrossing the subcontinent, I simply couldn’t say no to him when I received the Invitation Card.
So off I was, first to Auckland to attend the marriage ceremony and later on at the fabulous Cavalli Beach House Retreat, which is one of New Zealand’s most isolated secret beach hideaway. The four hours drive from Auckland was exhilarating and I was received at the Resort’s lobby by one of Rajesh’s colleague – Ankit, who is of Indian origin and a business partner of the Goyal family. Ankit would be my guide cum companion for the next few days and a lot of outdoor activities were planned in advance.
The Cavalli Beach House is an exclusive beach retreat and the remote location along with the unusual architecture was every bit interesting. I took a deep breath and as I opened the windows, the breathtaking beach panorama left me stupefied, as if the world was at my feet. I felt like I was at home. Its not a profanity. Its not a cliché. Any hotel or resort that makes you feel at home has to have an identity, a bearing and a sense of security, all of which I found at the Cavalli Beach House.
There is an old saying that man is a master of his home. This could not be a more appropriate aphorism, when it comes to the sublime and aesthetically done up Beach Retreat. Whoever provided the architectural blueprint to this one-of-its-kind retreat has to be a man of exquisite tastes. Just like music, I could see and feel the rhythm and harmony, in everything that was laid out in every single room. Be it the furniture, tapestry, artifacts, glassware, lamps and carpets, it was elegance personified.
My friend Rajesh is a widely traveled man and he is always on the lookout for either an antique or contemporary work of creativity when it comes to choosing hotels and resorts. I am glad he choose the Cavalli Beach House as my place to rejuvenate.
What was striking to me about the retreat was the “Color Harmony”. Colors are silent communicators, yet they say a lot. The color harmony at the Cavalli Beach House was a pleasing application of colors as you have in paintings. There was a sense of order and balance. The intelligent choice of colors that adorned the walls gave the retreat a sense of space and grandeur.
At the Cavalli Beach, world-class visitor amenities set in a sylvan rural setting and a life enhanced by boundless activities awaits you. The first night, me and Ankit sat by a beach fire lit up by the resort’s friendly staff and let me tell you…. the resort’s wine collection is not only rich but honored guests are also offered award winning New Zealand wines to keep them in good spirits. A traditional three course dinner under a starlit sky followed.
Given the breathtaking natural panorama, replete with secluded bays, exclusive fishing zones and a host of adrenalin pumping watersport activities, its not surprising that the Cavalli Beach House has its own Environmental policy. The landscape in this part of New Zealand is ecologically fragile and even the designing of the retreat took into consideration the link between the local ecological balance.
The retreat supports Eco-Tourism that is sustainable in nature and the retreat’s staff too seemed well aware of the ecological issues not only facing New Zealand, but the rest of the world as well. I was told by one the resort’s amicable Front Office Executive that the Cavalli Beach House works in tandem with Tourism New Zealand as well as Qualmark in its efforts to popularize and put into practice Eco-Friendly norms.
Instead of jumping headlong into some outdoor activities, the “Lazy Indian” syndrome caught up with me and I kind of delayed my stint outdoors for a day, choosing instead a therapeutic massage at the retreat’s cool parlor. I meet Gabriella Fischer, the retreat’s in-house Massage Therapist – very amiable and well mannered. After a brisk Question & Answer session through which she arrived at a conclusion to impart the 90 minutes “Deep Tissue Relaxation” therapy that promised to rejuvenate my body and soul.
The next day Ankit, my companion, woke me up early as we planned to get involved in outdoor activities. After a warm shower and light breakfast, we headed to the retreat’s jetty and boarded a launch that would take us on a sightseeing trip. After an enthralling 2 hours sea voyage, we decided to have an impromptu lunch onboard.
Although I am not an avid adventure sports freak…. No guts really! On one of my visits to Goa, I did take a few days’ lesson on Scuba Diving at the Barracuda Dive Center that is located at Panaji’s magnificent Marriot hotel. However, unless you practice at regular intervals, you tend to forget the skill sets that are required in deep sea diving. Any which way, I mustered some courage and decided to give it a shot, since a qualified diver was at hand.
As I put on my diving gear, I could sense a tinge of nervous sensation engulfing me and I got hold of Mike (Diving Specialist) as we splashed on the azure blue waters. I had the notion that India was by far the most captivating country in terms of diving spots since we have fabulous diving destinations like Lakshwadeep, Daman, Diu, Goa and Andaman Islands that are unrivalled. But after an hour, as I rose up to the surface and put my foot onboard, there was a sense of fulfillment. Post diving, I can say with certainty that be it the “Rainbow Warrior” wreck or the bewildering coastal conservation reserve in close proximity to the Cavalli Beach House, they are amongst the best diving sites the world has to offer.
Apart from the usual beach activities, the Cavalli Beach House is ideally located in close proximity to the famed Mahinepua Conservation Reserve that offers some incredible hiking options. We spent one full day hiking in the forest cover of Mahinepua, which was refreshing to say the least.
One great way of romancing New Zealand is by hopping on to a helicopter flight. I know the worth of Heli Tourism as I have first hand experience of embarking on Mountain Flights that are operated in Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim. In Nepal it is the Mount Everest, while in Sikkim it is Mount Kanchenjunga that are the focal points of attraction.
Here in New Zealand though, it is Cape Reinga, popularly referred to as “Top of New Zealand” which draws the discerning visitors to go onboard the breathtaking 1 hour Mountain Flight. As we sat onboard the Salt Air helicopter and fastened our seat belts, the copter slowly started its ascent and within minutes we were flying on top of the West Coast. The scenery below was surreal to say the least and made for a truly kaleidoscopic vignette.
We landed at Far North where a coach was awaiting our arrival and we were whisked away to the panoramic Pouto where we had an impromptu lunch in the ethereal backdrop of the spectacular sand dunes. Late in the afternoon we made a few more rounds of the stunning landscape before our flight back to Cavalli Beach House.
Although Helicopter Tourism sounds great, it comes for a price. The 6 hours Cape Reinga/Pouto trip is pegged at NZ $ 4,300 – NZ $ 4,600 depending upon the number of passengers. There is another trip operated by Salt Air – this one takes you to the enchanting Waitiki region and can be covered in 4 hours and is competitively priced at NZ $ 375.00 per person. Unfortunately due to paucity of time, we gave the later a miss, much to the dismay of the retreat’s Manager.
For those unable to board high altitude helicopter flights, the Cavalli Beach House does offer breathtaking day trips by car to some of the most exotic locales of New Zealand. I was especially stupefied by the sheer grandeur and panoramic natural vistas of Cape Karikari and Mangonui. Time permitting, first time visitors would do well to visit the heavily forested regions of Waipoua and Puketi forest as well as Paihia and Russel, all within driving distance from the Cavalli Beach House.
According to my companion Ankit, no trip to New Zealand is ever complete without a stint at one of New Zealand’s superbly landscaped golf courses. On the penultimate day of our stay at the Cavalli Beach House, the retreat’s friendly Manager arranged for our trip to the fabulous Carrington Golf Club, which is an hour’s drive from the retreat. The drive itself was beautiful as you pass by the scenic New Zealand countryside.
The Carrington Club is ideally nestled in Northland’s Karikari Peninsula. The resort’s world class facilities a heated swimming pool and an exclusive spa pool, a well stocked bar, two championship tennis courts, Olympic standard clay and skeet target shooting range as well as a gymnasium.
Carrington Club is spread over an area of 3000 lush green acres and what impressed me the most was the natural setting of 4 Kms. of exclusive balmy beach stretch. There is also an exclusive wetland site and the region is rich in avian life.
We meet a group from far away Los Angeles, who were out to have fun in cool, cool New Zealand. They were truly enchanted by the excellent golfing ambience at Carrington Club. And why not! The course is all of 6417 meters with a par 72 and offers a terrain ranging from green undulating vales and testing water holes. What makes the Carrington Golf Course truly spectacular is that it has the longest par 5’s in the whole of New Zealand as well as the shortest par 3’s.
As we indulged in the mouth watering Sea Food fare at the Retreat’s exclusive multi cuisine restaurant, the ethereal sight of the picturesque and make belief world of a rural New Zealand with its dimly lit lights appearing like a million studded diamonds sparkling or should I say flickering, reminded me of those eternal words of Rishi Aurobindoo –
“When you and I, we played together,
Who my playmate was I did not know.
Without a fear, without a shame,
Life in quiet ease did flow”.
Traveler’s Fact File:
New Zealand being a small country is well served by International Airlines’ like Air New Zealand, Qantas, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai International.
Reaching Cavalli Beach House:
The Cavalli Beach House Retreat is ideally located in a remote waterfront locale in East Coast. From Auckland one can reach the retreat in four hours driving time. However, if you happen to board a commuter flight from Auckland, you will reach the Bay of Islands airport in 35 minutes. Alternatively, if you choose a helicopter ride, you will reach the retreat from Kerikeri in 45 minutes.
For further information and reservations at Cavalli Beach House Retreat, please feel free to contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO – After three successful years, Banyan Tree Mayakoba continues to amaze its visitors with its attention to detail and commitment to creating a “Sanctuary for the Senses” for each of its guests. The property’s dedication to luxury has allowed it to establish itself as a haven of relaxation where mind, body and spirit are pampered. Blended among an ecosystem of carefully maintained dunes, mangroves and freshwater lagoons, Banyan Tree Mayakoba offers a refuge where travelers can visit and return home feeling rejuvenated.
by Barbara Kingstone
When I was told by my daughter who spends time in Dubai, that for two nights we would be in the desert, I mused, thinking I’d be in a tent. Okay, I thought rationally, I could do 48 hours in the sand and whatever ants and animals were around. However, after passing great sculptured-like sand dunes of golden and red sands with tuffs of wild grass here and there, off the well paved four lane highway, and a 2 1/2 hour drive from Dubai, my adventurous spirit, often well hidden, come out.
From a distance, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, it look liked a beachside playground for kiddies who had skilfully built sand castles.
But there was no sea to wash this fickle edifices away when the tide came in. However, the nearer we got, the more majestic and magical this property appeared.
The 206 room five star resort with luxury suites and villas was beyond anything I could have imagined. Here, on the Liwa Desert (also known as as the Empty Quarter), we passed over a bridge filled instead of water beneath, was sand. The entrance wirh Moorish styled lanterns filled archways was where we were greeted by a staff member who served us a refreshing yogurt drink and wonderful, thick, fresh dates.
The following days, that longed for pampered and stress-free feeling was omnipresent after days in bustling Dubai. This hotel also had a beautifully designed spa although that said, the facial, about $200, just wasn’t up to snuff as I needed to ask for the deep cleansing. This was the only misstep in this entire experience…not bad.
Our spacious suite overlooked a garden and pool, and since there are no guest rooms in the main building, there are 25 buggies that, with only a click of the zero on the phone, these wondrous machines were outside awaiting to take us anywhere on this vast property. But within hours, I discovered an arch filled tunnel which lead us, in just a few minutes, to the main building. Everything was well thought out and easy, just what a guest wants at a unique destination
Archery, one of the main sports in the Emirates (there are 7 in the UAE) is one of the popular activities as is falconry. That said, it is the early morning desert walk that was the perfect way to feel, touch, and sense the sand. There was a degree of difficulty navigating the fine sand which looks so deceptively easy.
And surprisingly was the great the variety of flowers and the sounds of the birds, a cookoo clock of sorts, had us on our feet by 6.30AM. I’m no Lawrence of Arabia, but I could see the attachment one could develope as I watched the color of the sand with its shadows go to various golden hues and aware of the constant movement of the dunes during the night and day.
The difficulty was leaving the room and our terrace. I was smitten with our suite, The Garden Suite, which had all the earmarks of an Arabian room but modernity came in the form of an espresso machine and good coffee wi fi, a great oval tub, a wide counter with double sinks and enough room for toiletries and cosmetics a separate shower and gratefully a lime stone, not slippery marble flooring. (I’ve experienced wet marble bathroom floors when I slipped and fell, banging my head into unconsciousness in a sleek, chic, newly renovated Italian hotel’s bathroom). The supply of towels, were rolled for displaying the touch of visual interest and here just seemed like a natural instinct.
Beamed and tatami decorated ceiling, a Moorish-styled alcove for the head board, the wonderful Moroccan styled chandelier which threw great designs when turned on in the evening and created wild designs.
As for the food, from the enormous choice at the breakfast buffet which we always had el-fresco to our choice of Arabic meals at lunch and evening, we were delighted that we could go ‘native’ . In fact, one evening the chef, knowing our preferences created a surprise and delicious Middle East meal. Nothing seemed too much at Qasr El Sarab.
And suddenly it was late, and as if by some movie magic, every evening there was a marvelous picture perfect sun set. In this oasis, I felt content and yearned to return to my villa in the desert..some tent !!!!!
Maybe if I pray to Allah, I could come back again
Today Ibis Thailand introduces the very first Ibis property in Hua Hin, one of the most popular beach towns in Thailand.
For more info Barbara3@rogers.com