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Report: Best hotels in Massachusetts

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 30, 2013 06:47 AM

bedroom-580.jpgLuxury awaits in the Laurel Suite at Blantyre Resort, named one of the top hotels in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has another set of awards to be proud: some of the best hotels in the U.S. are located right here in the Bay State. US News ranked the top hotels in Massachusetts based on an "unbiased analysis of awards, expert recommendations and user ratings," according to their site. Out of 55 luxury hotels, nine scored high enough to make the U.S. News list of the Best Hotels in the USA.

Here are the top 10 hotels in Mass., including some commentary from U.S. News:

  1. Mandarin Oriental: Recent guests describe the hotel as "sensational," "outstanding," and "special."
  2. Four Seasons, Boston: The Four Seasons Hotel Boston is known for catering to even the most discerning of luxury-seekers.
  3. Blantyre Resort: Recent visitors say they felt like royalty during their stay.
  4. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club: Guests rave about everything from the amenities to the guest room decor and superb staff.
  5. The Wauwinet: Popular with honeymooners, The Wauwinet sits in a quieter northern corner of Nantucket island.
  6. Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf: When it comes to describing this waterfront hotel, guests use words like "wonderful," "gorgeous," and "excellent."
  7. XV Beacon Hotel: If you're looking for extravagance, then the XV Beacon can certainly oblige.
  8. Hotel Commonwealth: This stylish boutique hotel features spacious accommodations, sumptuous Italian linens, and 32-inch flat-screen TVs.
  9. The White Elephant Nantucket Island: The White Elephant has been a favorite of Nantucket's bluebloods since the 1920s.
  10. Chatham Bars Inn: The Chatham Bars Inn is been a cozy oceanfront retreat that beckons Cape Cod visitors with its laid-back luxury.

Check out the entire list of top rated Massachusetts hotels.

Related stories:
Top hotels for food lovers
Top destinations for 2013

Readers: What's your favorite hotel in Massachusetts?

Food for thought: Cooking classes with Rialto's Jody Adams

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 28, 2013 06:58 PM

fresh-vegetables-580.jpgOne of my New Year's resolutions is to cook more at home. This is going to be a challenge for a variety of reasons, mostly because the amount of hours I spend in front of the computer greatly surpasses the amount of hours I'm in or near the kitchen. And while traveling the world and visiting hotels has its perks, it also reminds you're not a trained chef (food for thought: check out the best hotels for food lovers).

But I am committed to giving this "cooking at home" concept a try. Not only is it a nice cost-saving measure, but it ups the healthy eating factor, cuts calories, and allows for better portion control (read: leftovers!).

To help kick things off, I tapped into one of my favorite Boston chefs, Jody Adams, for her advice.

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New England escapes: Chatham, Cape Cod

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 28, 2013 09:20 AM

View-from-deck.jpgView from the deck of an Ocean View room in the Main Inn at Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham.

While the rest of the world flocks to Cape Cod for the summer months, local New Englanders know the beauty that Cape Cod beholds in the off-season.

Snow-covered beach walks, hot chocolate strolls, slow-roasted dinners, after-dinner drinks by the fire in the bar. These are the things that make Cape Cod worthy of a winter escape. Add to this the discounted hotel and resort rates, and relatively empty stores and restaurants (read: no waiting in long lines or reservations necessary), and you've got yourself a great weekend getaway at a fraction of the price.

I took a quick trip to Chatham this weekend to check things out. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was quiet. Yes, it was perfect. And shouldn't every day, regardless of the weather, start with a walk on the beach?

A few things you should know before you go:

  • Cape Cod is unvisited in the winter months, which means a lot of shopping and restaurants you would frequent in-season are shut down from November - February or March. This is your time to try something new. Make a reservation somewhere you would normally have a hard time getting into during the high-tourist season and enjoy a leisurely dinner.
  • Regardless of when you visit the Cape, the beach will be hard to resist. Enjoy a morning or afternoon walk in the snow-sprinkled sand. You'll see plenty of people walking their dogs, going for a jog or taking photos. Bundle up and join the fun.
  • While many bars and restaurants are open, the hours are varied to accommodate to the slower season. Call ahead before you go to make sure your favorite hole-in-the-wall bar is open or that the restaurant you want to dine in is accepting reservations.
  • The nice thing about visiting the Cape off-season is the opportunity for more hotel amenities, like easy upgrades, thanks to low occupancy. However, low occupancy means there might be fewer staff on call, so be patient. Just kick back and relax.
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Omni Bedford Springs Resort offers "Women's Wellness Weekend"

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 25, 2013 08:25 AM

spa151-small.jpgIf "eating healthy", "travel" and "spending more time with friends" were on your New Year's resolution list, then this hotel t is going to help you maintain your goals - all in one weekend.

The first-ever Women's Wellness Weekend takes place in Pennsylvania's scenic Allegheny Mountain region at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa from April 5-7, 2013. The weekend is led by Editor-in-Chief Peg Moline of Natural Health magazine and features a weekend full of special guests, including leading experts and best-selling authors. The three-day, all-inclusive program is "designed to inspire and rejuvenate women" with a focus on fitness, beauty, healthy eating and overall wellbeing.

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Boston hotels welcome back the Bruins with deals

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 21, 2013 06:26 AM

gardentwo415.jpgThe Bruins are back on the ice, and to celebrate the return of Boston's beloved hockey team, local hotels are offering some great deals on room rates and discounts on seats.

The Onyx Hotel: The "Locked In" deal at Kimpton’s Onyx Hotel keeps guests walking distance from the TD Garden. Package rates start at $800 and includes:

  • An overnight stay in deluxe accommodations
  • Two tickets to a Bruins game in top-of-the-line seats
  • One appetizer and one drink each for two people in the Ruby Room
  • Two Bruins’ jerseys to wear to the game

Book online or call 1-866-660-6699 and mention rate code PLOCK.

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Hotel Vermont to open in Burlington this Spring

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 18, 2013 10:16 AM

The new hotel boom of 2013 is underway with the first new hotel in New England ready to open its doors this Spring.

The luxury boutique hotel will open its doors on Cherry Street in Burlington, Vt., complete with high-tech amenities and a James Beard Award nominee chef leading the restaurant. The 125-room hotel is locally developed, owned and operated with Burlington-based teams, and is working toward a LEED-certification.

According to hotel management, Hotel Vermont will ensure an authentic "Vermont" experience.

"This project is a first for Burlington," said Hans van Wees, general manager of the hotel. "We are bringing an independent, luxury boutique hotel to the city so travelers can enjoy our destination and locals can use this as a meeting place."

The press release announcing the opening said the hotel was built from all things "Vermont". Guests will see furniture made from white oak indigenous to Vermont, stone countertops with Vermont marble, and flooring made from reclaimed antique red oak, local to Vermont. There will be specially-designed indoor and outdoor public spaces and the hotel lobby will feature a wood-burning hearth.

HotelVT-bedroom.jpg

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QE2 to become luxury hotel in Asia

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 17, 2013 10:28 AM

3056152631_6d894735af_m.jpgThe Queen Elizabeth 2, known to most as the QE2 that sailed the Atlantic for almost 40 years and recently was docked in New York City, will soon become a 400-room luxury hotel in Asia.

According to a Bloomberg report, plans to convert the ship to a five-star hotel are underway:

“The QE2 is not being scrapped, quite the opposite,” Oceanic Group Managing Director Daniel Chui told reporters in Dubai today. “We will lavish many, many millions of dollars on this magnificent ship to restore her the splendor of her glory days.”
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Hottest hotel openings for 2013

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 14, 2013 11:07 AM

bsouthbeachfall2012.jpgNot sure where to stay on your 2013 vacation? Make this the year to try something new.

HotelChatter released its very extensive annual calendar of 2013 expected hotel openings. There's a lot to digest here, so take some time to thoroughly read through this list. The hotels range from big and beautiful to luxury boutiques and B&Bs and the destinations are far and wide around the globe. (Pictured right: the B Hotel South Beach, opening in February.)

If you need some inspiration, check out my picks for the top places to travel in 2013, and then head over to the HotelChatter Master List of Worldwide Hotel Openings and make your reservations.

PHOTOS: Top destinations for 2013

Happy travels!

No school, no Spring Break: Winter travel escapes for boomers

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 11, 2013 10:05 AM

Naples-beach.jpg

Where do you go when you want to escape the wintery weather, but you don't want to be trampled by kids on vacation? Catey Hill, a freelancer reporter with MarketWatch and author of "SHOO, Jimmy Choo! The Modern Girl's Guide to Spending Less and Saving More", asked me for some tips to help boomers find some peace and quiet on vacation this winter.

My advice: avoid the obvious!

Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa are always packed with school vacationers and they are the prime locations for Spring Break parties. But there's more to Florida than just the south coast.

According to MarketWatch, the number of trips taken by Americans is expected to hit an all-time high this year. According to predictions by the U.S. Travel Association, leisure travel is expected to grow 1.3% in 2013, as Americans take almost 1.6 million trips that range more than 50 miles from home or include one night away from home.

Hill writes:

Baby boomers are even more likely to be hitting the road. The fastest-growing age groups of travelers are those in their 50s and 60s, says Lonely Planet’s U.S. travel editor, Robert Reid. And mature travelers in general already spend more on travel than any other age group; currently, households in which the head of household is between 55 and 64 years old spend an average of $1,897 a year on travel, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Disney to roll out RFID-enabled 'MagicBand' to guests

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 9, 2013 09:29 AM

disney-magicband.jpgSay goodbye to paper tickets at Disney parks. An official announcement on the Disney Parks blog confirms that the park will soon replace their traditional paper tickets with a RFID-enabled bracelet for all park guests.

The bracelet, called the "MagicBand", will make tickets, hotel keys, cash and credit cards obsolete for visitors.

According to the New York Times, Disney asked for FCC approval for the digital transmitters in the fall. The “MagicBands” will roll out as part of a vacation management system called “MyMagic+.” Once loaded with your personal information and credit card numbers, you can simply swipe your band to buy just about anything, access your hotel room and even get your name on the wait-line lists for popular rides. As for the kids? The MagicBrand can keep track of them, too.

Via the NYTimes:

[P]arts of MyMagic+ will allow Disney for the first time to track guest behavior in minute detail.

Did you buy a balloon? What attractions did you ride and when? Did you shake Goofy’s hand, but snub Snow White? If you fully use MyMagic+, databases will be watching, allowing Disney to refine its offerings and customize its marketing messages.

MagicBands can also be encoded with all sorts of personal details, allowing for more personalized interaction with Disney employees. Before, the employee playing Cinderella could say hello only in a general way. Now — if parents opt in — hidden sensors will read MagicBand data, providing information needed for a personalized greeting: “Hi, Angie,” the character might say without prompting. “I understand it’s your birthday.”

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Culinary travel: Hotels for food lovers

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 6, 2013 10:19 AM

Food has always been a focus at fine hotels. From farm-to-table plates to foraging tours and wine cave dinners, food lovers can count on luxury hotels for mouth-watering menus.

Food & Wine recently named their top hotels for food lovers, which range in concept from celebrity chefs to fancy vending machines. I've added a few of my favorite hotels for food to their list. Whether you're into private picnics, extraordinary room service or feasts fit for a king, these hotels are sure to fit any palette.

My favorite hotels for food:

The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, CA: Brunch is a work of art at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay in California. Every Sunday, the hotel's main restaurant Navio turns itself into what can only be described as food heaven. Sunday brunch at Navio's was named Best in the Bay Area by San Francisco Magazine and the Best in Silicon Valley by the editors of San Jose Mercury News. It's not for the faint of heart. The $88 meal includes multiple trips to the various stations and a cocktail or glass of champagne. From oyster and sushi stations to various roasted meats, vegetarian sections, dim sum and of course, a dessert alcove, Resort Executive Chef, Xavier Salomon spares no expense when it comes to the best-loved meal of any Sunday. Mouth-watering food photos from Sunday brunch at Navio are below:

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New York Palace Hotel's Cinderella package includes Prince Charming

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 4, 2013 05:21 AM

NYPPrinceCharming1.jpgFairy Godmothers, glass slippers, and of course, Prince Charming. At The New York Palace, princess dreams become reality, thanks to a new partnership with the Broadway musical, Rodgers + Hammerstein's CINDERELLA.

If your little one dreams in fairy tales, then The New York Palace Hotel is the place to be this month. As the show’s official hotel sponsor, The New York Palace offers Cinderella-inspired offerings, from overnight packages to a themed brunch, complete with Prince Charming and glass slippers.

The New York Palace will serve this Cinderella Brunch Saturdays and Sundays, 12noon-2:30pm, through January 2013. Special dishes include a ‘Build Your Own Castle’ Yogurt Parfait; Prince Charming Burger; and Royal Wedding ‘Something Blue’ Cupcakes. For the hotel’s older, but still young-at-heart guests, try the Fairy Godmother Frittata; “Back By Midnight” Belgian Waffles; and Pumpkin Coach Cheesecake. A special brunch cocktail will also be offered – the Princess Bellini Martini, featuring Ketel One Vodka, peach puree and a splash of champagne.

While the food is fit for a king, the ambiance is set for a princess-in-waiting. As part of The Palace’s enchanted Cinderella Brunch, Prince Charming makes special guest appearances each Saturday and Sunday, and brings a glass slipper for younger guests to try on.

Make a weekend out of it and spend the night at The New York Palace so you can enjoy the hotel's royal hotel treatment and catch the Broadway production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA. This package includes:

  • Two nights hotel accommodations
  • Access to dedicated concierge and discount show tickets (tickets not included in package cost)
  • Two Glass Slipper Martinis (cocktails or mocktails)
  • Special glass slipper in-room amenity
  • Cinderella Merchandise Item

The cost for the two nights: $499.00 plus tax per night + tax (exclusive of tickets)

To book this package, visit The New York Palace website.

Photo credit: Howard Levy / HSL Photography

Hotels help guests set, keep New Year's resolutions

Posted by Melanie Nayer January 2, 2013 08:15 AM

FSDenver-Fitness.jpgOne of the most popular New Year's resolutions is the vow to hit the gym more. To help resolution setters keep their goals in site, hotels are getting in on the action.

From in-room workout videos to sneaker rentals and gym memberships, hotels are getting creative with their fitness offerings.

In early 2012, InterContinental Hotels Group launched their health-concious hotel brand, EVEN. The new IHG brand will focus on exercise, eat, work and rest, and the first one of its kind is set to open in New York City in 2014.

But with all the celebrity chef offerings, new restaurant concepts and trendy wine bars popping up in luxury hotels, how can guests be mindful of their waistline while traveling? Simple, says experts. Leave it to the hotels.

A report by Hawkins International, a New York-based public relations company specializing in luxury travel and lifestyle trends, says hotel exercise routines are get more innovative and interesting, enticing guests to get fit while on the road.

The hotel rooms at London's 45 Park Lane are the latest arrival to the fitness-friendly travel craze. All rooms offer an in-room fitness TV channel with professionally led workouts designed and narrated by fitness expert Matt Roberts. Guest rooms also include complimentary yoga mats and guests can reserve bespoke [tailor-made] Brompton bicycles. The programs will vary based on the time of year, events and speciality (for example, in April when London is getting ready to run the marathon, the hotel will offer a special 'Booster Slider' which includes spicy lobster and raw vegetables at its Bar 45).

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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