Raise your hand if you slept well last night. My guess is that most of you didn't. And those of you who travel experience a certain type of sleep deprivation that only other travelers can appreciate, or at the very least, commiserate with.
The Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is hoping to change all of that.
In an effort to help guests get a good night's sleep, the luxury hotel brand is rolling out customized beds. The new Four Seasons Bed is being touted as the first fully customizable hotel bed, thanks to a partnership between the luxury hotel group and leading bed manufacturer Simmons. A choice of three different levels of firmness will be offered, along with a variety of pillows and bedside amenities for customized comfort.
As part of the new mattress program, guests can choose from three mattress tops that vary in firmness (Signature, Signature Firm, and Signature Plush). Returning guests will find their favorite mattress top already in their room.FULL ENTRY
It's not enough that Ritz-Carlton hotels rank tops among luxury hotels around the world, thanks in most part to their unparalleled service, extravagant amenities and their innate ability to always go the extra mile for their guests (who can forget about Joshie, the once-lost-but-now-found giraffe, or the Boston Strong cupcakes). Now, they've gone and created a signature cake.
Beware chocolate lovers: this might put you over the edge. The long rectangular cake is a sponge cake mixed with three different kinds of chocolate and layered with bitter caramel and orange ganache (a combination of candied fruit and Grand Marnier). It's topped with another fine strip of chocolate, stamped with the Ritz-Carlton lion logo and packaged perfectly with a white bow.
Corporate Chef Rainer Zinngrebe shares the details on what goes into this priceless piece of chocolate decadence, and where guests can get some of their own:
It doesn't feel like Spring yet, but warmer weather is right around the corner (we hope). If you're eager to get out of the cold and into the sun and sand, here are five Caribbean resorts perfect for parents and kids:
Where: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia
Why: The range of supervised activities for children ages 4-12: glass-bottom boat excursions, arts and crafts, and guided hikes up the Gros Piton, the mountain at the center of the island, with a chance to splash in a thermally heated waterfall.
Best family accommodation: The plantation-style Two Bedroom Grand Luxury Villas, which have indoor and outdoor living rooms, a private deck and plunge pool, and butler service. Butlers can arrange anything, from a babysitter to a private beach BBQ.FULL ENTRY
Making the bed is one chore most people typically loathe, but hotel housekeepers seem to have mastered it. And what's more fun than jumping on - or into - a perfectly made bed?
To help get you in the mood when you go home, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Chicago is kicking off National Bed Month (yes, apparently that's a thing) with a catchy bed-making tutorial.
The "How to Make the Perfect Bed" video features Monaco Chicago’s general manager, housekeepers, and front office staff singing and dancing their way through the bed-making process – from plumping pillows, to precise folds and tightly tucked sheets.
I'd prefer to be sleeping in my bed right now, but we all have to get up and start the day at some point so… Go make your bed!
Raise your hand if this scenario sounds familiar:
The countdown to your vacation is on, and you've started the "I have to get into a bathing suit" diet. You cut calories, limit alcohol, hit the gym, and get yourself in a relatively happy zone so putting on a swimsuit doesn't send you into a complete state of shock. Then it's time to travel. You hit the airport, go straight to the bar, throw back a few before the flight (and maybe a few more on the flight), and indulge in all the flavors of the local cuisine when you finally arrive at your destination. We indulge. We savor. We taste-test our way through Five-Star restaurants and mixology classes at the swim-up hotel bar. And why shouldn't we? We work hard so we can play hard, right? And sometimes, playing hard means stuffing your face with a bowl of fresh-made guacamole and a pitcher of margaritas.
So much for saving calories.
Yes, it's normal, and yes, we've all fell victim to this routine at one point in our travel lives. The bad news is: bloating occurs at rapid rates at 35,000 feet. The good news is: airlines and hotels have created ways to help you beat the bloat in the sky and on the ground.FULL ENTRY
The Ritz-Carlton Suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong's spacious living room features expansive views of Hong Kong Victoria Harbour. Photo credit: Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
To some travelers, luxury knows no limits. Hotels around the world have upped their luxury status over the years, building out expansive penthouse suites (the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong's Presidential Suite has Mother of Pearl walls) and bringing gold-plated amenities (like the iPads at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai).
According to CNN.com, the Royal Penthouse Suite at Geneva's Hotel President Wilson is the most expensive hotel room in the world, pricing out at $83,200 a night. The hefty price tag includes 12 bedrooms and 12 marble bathrooms, a wraparound terrace with views of the Alps, and a private butler, chef, and personal assistant to be at your service during your stay.
Upping its historical luxury status, the New York Palace Hotel last year unveiled its new specialty suites - the Jewel Suite and the Champagne Suite - as part of its $140 million makeover. The results are nothing short of stunning.
So, between the grand pianos, the decadent bath products and the 24/7 private service, what makes a hotel the most "luxurious"? Simply put: the price tag.FULL ENTRY
Rumors spread like soft butter on crusty bread last week about Chef Daniel Boulud's potential entry into Boston. Finally, it was confirmed, and foodies around the Hub salivated at the news: Bar Boulud will open at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston this fall.
But what does this announcement mean to the culinary landscape of Boston? With a new celebrity chef in town, will that mean more tourism to the city, or more wait times at restaurants?
For a story in Forbes Travel Guide, I spoke with the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, about this news and got to the bottom of the rumor mill:
Sure, you can Tweet from your seat and connect with friends on Facebook when you're connected to whatever Internet carrier is hosted on your flight. But now, Virgin America is launching the first in-flight social network at 35,000 feet.
With the help of Gogo (the carrier's WiFi partner), and the business networking app Here on Biz, this new, customized technology will allow Virgin fliers to connect directly with other travelers. It works by isolating the unique IP address of each Virgin America aircraft and its location in the sky, so that – for the first time in the U.S. skies – travelers can see and connect with guests (via the LinkedIn API) on their specific flight, guests on other Virgin America flights in the air, or fellow travelers at their destination airport.
To celebrate the new in-flight network, Virgin America is launching a Twitter promotion that invites flyers to share their dream business travel connection and describe how they would break the ice in 140 characters using the hashtag #planepitch. A weekly winner will receive a complimentary Gogo WiFi pass and one Grand Prize winner will win Virgin America Elevate Gold status, six Main Cabin Select business class flights and an annual Gogo pass, so the winner will never miss a “connection” on the fly. Check out www.planepitch.biz for rules and regulations. Bonus! Now through July, flyers who download the Here On Biz app can score a 25 percent discount to the Virgin America Loft at LAX.FULL ENTRY
Photo credit: Omni Mount Washington, Bretton Woods
No doubt it's been a wicked winter in Boston. The icy temps, the whipping winds and the mounds of snow banks have all but shut down the city on some days. But as true Bostonians, we've laced up our snow boots, wrapped ourselves in layers and weathered the wind chills.
While you might not be able to escape the winter weather (thanks in most part to the never-ending cold front sweeping the nation), there are a few places you might consider for a simple change of scenery. Pack your bags and head to one of these festivals or events for a quick change of scenery:
Winter Concert Series: January 31 – March 9: The Omni Grove Park Inn in Ashville, NC, is turning up the volume with its annual Winter Concert series. Indulge in the sounds of Celtic Weekend (January 31 – February 2) with performances by Seven Nations and Gaelic Storm or enjoy a room full of laughs over Comedy Weekend (March 7 – March 9) with sets by comedians such as Gary Gulman and John Heffron. Package rates from $498 include accommodations, concert tickets and weekend events, based on double occupancy. General admission tickets begin at $15 per person.
Telluride Gay Ski Week: February 21 – March 2: Celebrate Telluride Gay Ski Week at Hotel Madeline Telluride February 21 - March 2. With an ideal ski-in/ski-out location in the heart of Telluride’s Mountain Village, Hotel Madeline is the perfect spot to drop your bag and take in the annual event that has been voted the Top Ski Week in the U.S.A. by Gay.com. Hotel Madeline Telluride is the center of activity, with SMAK Bar hosting Telluride Gay Ski Week’s après-ski cocktail parties and festivities. The resort is offering rates starting at $215 per night for Telluride Gay Ski Week. For reservations, call 1-866-530-0880 and mention Telluride Gay Ski Week.
Brazil Carnival: February 28 – March 4: CW Adventures takes travelers to the heart Carnival with the Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Select Experience. Touching down in Rio de Janeiro, the select experience takes guests to walk the urban forest trails of Tijuca National Park to the stunning panorama of the Corcovado, and spend lunchtime in the picturesque Santa Tereza neighborhood. Guests will stay at the Sofitel Copacabana Beach Hotel with views of the waterfront. The select experience includes some meals, accommodations for two nights and entry fees for parks. Prices start at $2,498 per person based on double occupancy.
Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon: March 8: The Bretton Woods Nordic Center at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH, invites Nordic skiers to test their long distance skills at the annual Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon. Staged between the historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel, Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon is a classic cross-country ski race in half marathon and marathon distances showcasing one of the largest Nordic systems in the northeast.
The Beatles at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in 1964. Photo credit: Omni Shoreham Hotel
February marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first performance in the U.S., and what better way to celebrate than with a hotel promotion straight from the hotel where The Beatles stayed
The Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC – where The Beatles stayed for the inaugural U.S. show on Feb. 11, 1964 – is giving Beatles fans the chance to relive their Beatlemania days (or just re-embrace the legal of Fab Four) with memorabilia, photography and a personal recollection of the legendary band. There will also be special tribute show, "Yesterday & Today," in partnership with the DC Preservation League.
The “Fab February 50th Anniversary Package” includes deluxe accommodations, a commemorative gift and a welcome amenity. There's also a hotel display of Mike Mitchell photography capturing the band’s Washington performance, a tribute documentary running on the hotel television’s channel, and signature cocktails in the Marquee Bar and Lounge.FULL ENTRY
More hotels just joined the tally of participating hotels for Hotel Week Boston. Check out the official Hotel Week Boston website for the latest deals.
The first ever Hotel Week Boston kicks off Feb. 16 – 23, 2014 with specially-crafted Boston hotel packages. Conveniently organized during February School Vacation, Hotel Week Boston is a great option for those who want a staycation in the city, or just know of some friends and family who want to come for a visit.
Participating hotels and their offers include:FULL ENTRY
Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 56th list of Star Rating recipients worldwide, including some new star properties in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The White Elephant Village in Nantucket and The Chanler in Newport, Rhode Island, both earned Four Stars and join the hundreds of other hotels, restaurants and spas around the world in displaying this prestigious honor.
The 2014 Forbes Star Ratings welcomed 15 new Five-Star hotels, 16 new Five-Star restaurants and five new Five-Star spas. the United States, Canada, London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai and Singapore. This year’s list includes newly-opened hotels as well as hotels that recently completed renovations. Of course, restaurants and spas are also included.FULL ENTRY
Alaska was named one of the top travel destinations for 2014. This photo, courtesy of Alaska.org, shows the spectacular views of Alaska's landscape as seen from a local cruise ship.
Ready to travel this year but need some help deciding where to go? American Express Travel recently surveyed nearly 200 of its Travel Counselors on top destinations.
Based on trips already booked for 2014, more people are traveling abroad and – despite the deep freeze sweeping through the country – more travelers are booking Arctic explorations.
“Travel tends to make the list of new year resolutions. For those who are looking to get away in 2014, we wanted to ask our Travel Counselors what they are seeing as the latest travel trends and share them to help inspire inclined jetsetters,” says Claire Bennett, executive vice president of American Express Travel. “In 2014, we are seeing that some travelers will want to re-explore tried and true favorites and others are looking into more unchartered waters for a new adventure.”
The list of hot destinations for 2014 from American Express Travel includes:
The best thing about a new year is the new opportunity it presents. For the hospitality industry, this means new openings and renovations that appeal to new and returning guests.
Boston has a lot to look forward to in 2014. Already making an impact on the economy are new restaurants and a few hotel renovations happening around the city. If you're visiting Boston this year, or you're just looking for something new to explore in the city, Forbes Travel Guide has the details what's new in 2014.
A few notables include renovations at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, which include upgrades to the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel lobby, two restaurants — Aura and Tamo — and guest rooms. In Back Bay, the Loews Boston Hotel is preparing to unveil their new guest rooms, lobby and restaurant.
Columbus Hospitality Group (the parent company of Mistral, Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Mooo and Four-Star XV Beacon) recently opened Ostra, a contemporary Mediterranean restaurant located in the Theater District. The restaurant occupies the former Avila space of on the corner of Charles and Stuart Streets.
Check out the other Forbes-rated properties in Boston.
Hilton launched its Ultimate Weekender Sweepstakes for Hilton HHonors members, encouraging those members to “Be a Weekender” in 2014 by offering the chance to win a weekend trip every week throughout the year.
Every Monday, a new giveaway destination will be revealed. Members of Hilton HHonors are invited to enter once a day to win that week’s getaway at Hilton.com/Weekender.
Starting in February, members can earn additional daily entries for each giveaway by submitting photos or travel tips related to that particular week’s getaway destination. And lest you forget how much social media plays a role in travel… you'll also be entered into the promotion via Twitter. All entries from the year will go into a draw to select a grand prize winner. Any stays by a member in 2014 will also count as entries toward the grand prize of 12 weekend getaways.FULL ENTRY
To kick off 2014 on a healthy note, the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, launched a series of heart-healthy promotions and special offers for guests checking into the hotel in January and February.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, Brasserie S&P, and the hotel has travel packages, spa treatments, cooking classes, healthy dinners and weekly evening runs through San Francisco with the General Manager, Mr. Donald Bowman. The 2-month "Hotels with a Heart" campaign, which benefits the American Heart Association, includes:
- Healthy cooking classes for kids
- Winemaker dinners
- A variety of wine and beer classes
- Heart healthy spa treatment and products
- Fitness classes to encourage lifestyle change
- Weekly running sessions
You can find dates and details of special events on the Mandarin Oriental website.FULL ENTRY
This past year was a reinventing of sorts for the travel industry. In 2013, there was on average more travelers, and more interest in getting back on the road and seeing the world. To help accommodate the re-interest in travel after the recession, hotels, airlines, cruise companies and travel agencies are reinventing the way we travel - from booking options to room service menus.
In 2013 we saw hotel grocery delivery services, mobile check-ins and yes, free WiFi on planes. We witnessed some unfortunate travel disasters but also some travel successes, like the use of social media to book and plan trips, more leg room on flights, and the beginning stages of tourism space travel.
As the new year approaches, the travel industry is on par to make some significant improvements and enhancements. If you're looking to travel in 2014, here are 10 trends to watch for - from Pinterest planning to, finally, the first tourist in space.
Photo gallery: The top 10 travel trends to watch for in 2014
Eager to escape in 2014 but not sure where to go? You might find inspiration from the TripAdvisor community, who recently voted on the best destinations to travel to in 2014.
TripAdvisor’s new Travelers’ ChoiceAwards for Destinations on the Rise picks 54 places across the globe based on data collected from millions of TripAdvisor user searches and reviews. These were the places that have seen the “greatest increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest”, said the travel search engine.
The most intriguing place to travel in the new year went to Havana, while Kailua-Kona, Hawaii nabbed the top U.S. destination.
Take a look the top Global and U.S. destinations below, as voted on by the TripAdvisor and then tell us, where do you want to go in 2014?FULL ENTRY
Photo courtesy of Abercrombie and Kent
'Tis the season for giving, and better way to show you care than with the ultimate in luxury travel gift. It's the gift of all gifts for the luxury traveler in your life, and it will cost you a cool $1.5 million.
Passport to the World, the newest collaboration between private-jet company Flexjet and luxury travel outfitter Abercrombie & Kent, is providing a premier opportunity to see the world by private jet in 14 days.
The trip takes you and seven of your closest friends to seven cities onboard a Challenger 605 aircraft. You'll pick the people you travel with and the dates you travel - no pre-set itineraries or people you don't know (save for the captain and crew, who I'm sure you'll become close with within minutes onboard this luxury aircraft).
Your business jet features roomier seats that transform into beds, state-of-the-art audio and video systems, and global Wi-Fi. Your seven stops include cities in Japan, China, Turkey, France, and India. You'll dine at Michelin-star restaurants, shop at one-of-a-kind designer boutiques, enjoy private sunset cruises, after-hours access to art museums, and so much more... all you have to do is ask.
Everyone's getting into the holiday spirit, especially the airlines. As the holiday rush speeds up and more travelers start flocking to their flights, the airlines are hoping to keep everyone in the Christmas spirit by spreading a little holiday cheer at the gates, in-flight and even before you board.
To help make wishes come true, Virgin Atlantic is launching a 'Taste of Virgin Atlantic' #wishweek on Twitter. The @Virgin_Atlantic handle will be dedicated to granting wishes to those who haven't quite got round to buying all their presents. The elves, donning Virgin's signature red, will come to the rescue with a week of daily gifts (a small sign of the experience customers receive when they fly with the top-rated airline.)
#wishweek will run from December 16th - 20th and the gifts grow in size every day with Friday's reveal being the ultimate Virgin Atlantic experience.FULL ENTRY
The way of luxury suites is getting more luxurious. Last week I told you about the new signature suites at New York's The Plaza Hotel, and this week comes the debut of another Manhattan hotel suite: Mandarin Oriental, New York's Suite 5000.
The Mandarin Oriental, New York's newest signature suite, Suite 5000 spans 3,300-square-feet on the hotel's 50th floor. The theme of the suite is that there isn't just one theme. The hotel will work with various partners in the city’s finest art, fashion and design industries to customize each stay from start to finish.
“Our aim is to showcase the essence and distinctiveness of New York City within Suite 5000, and offer guests unparalleled access to new and enriching cultural experiences,” said Susanne Hatje, General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, New York. “Combined with Mandarin Oriental’s legendary service and style we believe this will provide our guests with a memorable, one of a kind stay,” she added.FULL ENTRY
In the spirit of decadence, and just in time for the holidays, The New York Palace opened the doors to two new suites: The Jewel Suite by Martin Katz and The Champagne Suite.
The suites were part of the $140 million hotel renovations that were just completed. Both suites span 5,000-square feet, take up three levels and sit 53 stories up. Rates for each suite begin at $25,000 per night.
In an effort to help you choose which suite would best suite you, here are the details:
The Jewel Suite by Martin Katz: Designed by jeweler Martin Katz, this suite is adorned in rich fabrics and glittering jewel-inspired tones that ooze luxury and romance. You'll enter on Port Laurent stone floors, run your (clean) hands along the diamond-like wall coverings that are set in soothing jewel tones, admire the 20-foot ?diamond waterfall? chandelier, and gaze into the ?floating? crystal jewel boxes that hold various haute couture jewelry pieces by Katz. The Grand Parlor features floor-to-ceiling windows and a grand piano (perfect if you want to hold your own private concert). On the suite?s third floor is a wood burning fireplace (one of the few still available in a New York City hotel). For the best views of the city, step outside on your private outdoor terrace, where you'll also find your own Jacuzzi spa. Book this suite and you'll receive an original Martin Katz Diamond Microband Ring, worth $2,500.FULL ENTRY
David Beckham is a man of many pursuits – from kicking around the soccer ... err, football, to modeling underwear and making cologne, it seems just about anything Beckham touches turns to gold. Now, he's putting his midas touch on hotels.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced that Beckham would be assisting in the development of "dining, retail and leisure concepts" at the Sands properties in Macao and Marina Bay, Singapore. In a press release distributed by the Sands Corp., the details were pretty limited to what, exactly, Beckham will be doing, but the star power might be all the hotel group needs to drive attraction to their hotels.
Beckham made the following statement:
"The Sands team has created amazing resorts in Singapore and Macau. The scale, vision and caliber in all that they do is impressive. I am very excited to be working with them to develop a range of new business ideas in a part of the world that I love spending time in and is full of optimism and growth."FULL ENTRY
The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, formerly the Barcelo Los Cabos, is situated beachfront on the Sea of Cortes and features eight restaurants, six bars and lounges, a kids' camp, adult pool, water fountains, stunning views and on-site spa.
The Hyatt Zilara Cancun is an all-suite resort located in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, featuring 14 restaurants and bars, a spa, pool and beach butler service and more.
The Hyatt Zilara resorts will be adult-only, while the Hyatt Ziva resorts is more family-friendly.FULL ENTRY
The holidays are stressful. Office parties, unlimited calorie consumption and of course, the dreaded conversations around the dinner table with your family.
This time of year is when most of us – happy as we may be – start to panic over pumpkin pies and without warning, consume more eggnog than we had originally planned.
Here's the thing: it happens to everyone.
Here's what to do: treat yourself to a little serenity at the spa.
The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, Massachusetts’ only Forbes Five-Star spa, is offering its holiday signature treatment, the Frankincense Massage Ritual, for the month of December.FULL ENTRY