The newly opened Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi has one of the most luxurious suites in the United Arab Emirates.
When Marketwatch reporter Catey Hill called me to ask about the top luxury travel destinations in the world, she put only one limitation on my answers: “Think big,” she said. Hill found a study that showed some of the top dream getaways if money were no object, and I have to admit, the travel bucket lists were pretty remarkable.
From around-the-world cruises to majestic suites in the Middle East, there’s a lot you can do if you had an endless income. According to Hill,
Fiji was named No. 10 on a list of dream destinations based on a recent survey by travel management company Travel Leaders. The company asked 1,045 U.S.-based travel agency owners to rank which international destinations their clients would choose if money was no object. Their top choices appear here.
Take a look at some of my picks, including my thoughts on the best luxury travel spots. Then tell me… if money were no object, where would you travel to?
Elbow Beach, Bermuda
It’s a new year. The world is your oyster. If you need some help narrowing down your options, I’ve pulled together some of the top destinations to visit in 2013, based on my own research and travel, and with the help of some of my expert travel friends.
Whether you choose to stay stateside or explore far away villages in foreign countries, make 2013 the year you discover (or rediscover) a new favorite destination.
From San Francisco to Slovenia, see the list of top travel destinations for 2013
Cashmere linings, organic cotton linens, specially-printed drapery, personal art collections — when fashion designers work with luxury hotels, the end result is an experience worth indulging in. “Wearing” a room connects a guest with a designer, allowing a deeper look into how luxury weaves palettes of color into experiential stays.
The latest designer suite is no exception.
Straight from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the new Diane von Furstenberg Penthouse suite on Hayman is a designer oasis draped in luxury amenities and flowing in style and sophistication. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Hayman is Australia’s premier luxury nature-resort destination, located on the northernmost of the Whitsunday Islands in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland. After an extended vacation on the island, von Furstenberg “fell in love with the five star private island resort” and decided to add her own personal touch.
Von Fustenberg opened the DvF Penthouse suite on Oct. 27, 2012. The two-bedroom penthouse is decorated with intricately designed furniture pieces, all upholstered in DVF signature fabrics and contemporary furnishings that blend vibrant colors and textures with the calm landscapes seen throughout the island.
“It was such a pleasure to work with Hayman,” said von Furstenberg. “It is such a special destination and I hope my design will enhance the beauty of the island and give the people staying in the DVF Penthouse a memorable moment.”
Read my entire story and see the photo gallery on The HuffingtonPost
In my opinion, luxury hotels and fashion houses go hand-in-hand; they both offer the best in elegant and trendy concepts – whether in the form of fabric or bathroom toiletries.
So it’s no wonder more luxury hotels are turning to to designers to create one-of-a-kind experiences for their guests.
While some designers are called on by hotels to actually design a guest room, others are recruited to create exclusive items that can only be found at the hotel.
In London, Diane von Furstenberg decorated her own suite at London’s Claridge’s hotel, and designer duo Teatum Jones created a scarf available only at the Dorchester. At XV Beacon in Boston, the hotel called on a perfumery in Italy to create the hotel’s unique scent, used in all the bathroom amenities.
The options are endless for designers and hotels to collaborate, and I predict this trend will continue to grow. The one caveat, however: as the luxury hotel market becomes saturated with designer offerings, designers and their partner hotels must find unique ways to appeal to guests.
Read more from my column at 4Hoteliers.
With each year brings new ideas, plans and promises. Resolutions aside, travel is one of the best laid plans in the new year. The question is: will you actually plan that dream trip you’ve been talking about for the past year?
As 2012 draws near, luxury travel network Virtuoso® asked its expert travel advisors to name their top luxury destinations for 2012. In some cases, their picks are extreme, but then again, if you’re going to go, go big! I’ve added a few of my own suggestions to their list, so read on and then let me know: where is the one place you long to explore in 2012?
Here’s are my three picks for the luxury destinations you should consider in 2012:
Hong Kong: This city seems to always make the list, but for good reason. Hong Kong is one of the most fascinating and evolving cities in the world. Luxury hotels and Michelin-star restaurants abound in Hong Kong, so you won’t be without a luxurious experience while you’re here. For all its enhancements, Hong Kong is still true to its roots. Leave the hotel and head out the hidden streets in Kowloon to experience life on a much simpler level. You can always go back to your hotel later and indulge in something extravagant.
South Africa: South Africa has been at the top of luxury destinations to visit for years, but I’m adding a new twist to it: South Africa wine country. While most people plan trips to Napa or Sonoma, Tuscany and Chile, few people consider South Africa for wine trips. In reality, South Africa has some of the greatest wineries in the world, and some of the most amazing resorts to sip wine under the night sky. Plan for at least two weeks on this trip, and be prepared to spend well. Enjoy the city scene in Cape Town, or opt for a luxury tent under the stars.
Get the full list of luxury travel destinations from my travel column on Boston.com.
Imagine the ultimate luxury experience in New York. You walk out the front door of your apartment and make an instant decision: turn left and you’re on Park Avenue; turn right and you’re on Madison Avenue. Only a few feet from Hermes, Chloe, Dior and Harry Winston, within an hour you can be styled and accessorized for an evening out. The world is a luxurious place and from your apartment on East 55th Street, it can be yours.
At the invitation of Exclusive Resorts, a membership-only luxury residence program with properties around the world, I walked into the Park Avenue Place building to check into my high-rise condominium in New York City for a night. Exclusive Resorts has over 400 luxury residences in 50 spots all over the world, so when they invited me to spend the night in one of their multi-million dollar Park Avenue apartments, it was hard to say no.
After being greeted by a doormen I made my way to the 23rd floor and met Sergio, an Exclusive Resorts concierge. He had the keys to my apartment 25B, handed me his cell phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. The goal: to understand the difference between staying at a luxury hotel and staying at a luxury residence. Is there really a difference? Surprisingly, yes there is.
Exclusive Resorts offers 28 two-bedroom residences in New York, completely furnished with the finest in luxury finishes. The midtown apartments at Park Avenue Place have full kitchens, two bathrooms, walk-in closet space that would make any city girl swoon, and access to a private fitness center. Before you check in you can request groceries, theater tickets, dinner reservations and just about anything you want to fulfill your New York experience. While I didn’t take advantage of the grocery shopping options, my friend Luxury Travel Mom and her four kids did when they checked in just two days earlier.
There’s something to be said for having a ‘home’ in New York. While luxury hotel rooms are nothing short of spectacular, having a full kitchen, washer and dryer and two bathrooms in a luxury residence is near perfection. I walked into my apartment for the night and I immediately made myself at home. I threw my purse on the table in the foyer, thumbed through the magazines that were waiting for me, flipped on the TV in the living room, and made my way into the kitchen to see if I could find a snack. The beauty of the Exclusive Resorts residences? They really do feel like home.
I always wanted to live in New York City. I spent my summers as a kid in Long Island and as I got older would visit my cousins in their apartments on the Upper West Side, Manhattan. I’d get up in the morning and walk to Zabars for fresh bagels and lox, join my cousins at the laundromat before we tackled a day of errands or shopping. At night we’d visit our favorite sushi restaurants, martini bars or nearby dives for a laugh with friends. We’d retreat to back to the studio apartment and crawl into bed, the noises of New York whizzing outside and humming us to sleep. The Big Apple was my big oyster. I felt at home here; inspired here.
Over the years I’ve come to know New York like a resident. The Upper West Side remains my old stomping grounds; the concrete jungle feeds my soul. As life took a turn toward luxury hotels, I was fortune enough to spend the night in some of New York’s best addresses. Still, I still longed for a residence here and for one night, I was handed the key to an apartment in a exclusive building and played the part of Melanie, New York resident.
For more information you can go to Exclusive Resorts.
The last place a single woman thinks about going when planning a weekend escape on her own is to a romantic island. After all, why would you pay to remind yourself of your solitude? It’s enough you don’t have someone to whisk you away for the weekend, right? Maybe you’re wrong. There’s something to be said for intimate destinations – they are quiet, they are peaceful, they often have a great spa attached and depending on where you stay, you can treat yourself to a little luxury in the comforts of your guest room.
Having come off almost four weeks of not sleeping due to pending deadlines that continue to pile up, I was eager to get away and crash for a weekend. Being at home isn’t often ‘relaxing’ for me – there’s always a dish to clean, laundry to do, piles of mail to organize … you get the point. While I can’t advocate that you dismiss all your responsibilities at home and take off for a weekend away because you want one, I can suggest that you reward yourself with something serene after finalizing a huge project, or when you’re just so worn down you can’t recall what happened earlier in the day.
Enter: Bermuda. The picturesque island with pink sand located just a few hours from most East Coast airports. Romantic? Yes, but it is equally private and secluded, which made vacationing alone on this island the perfect prescription for my worn out mind, body and soul.
Day 1: I hopped on my flight and was stunned when the captain said our flying time was one hour and 48 minutes. I had forgotten about the time zone difference (Bermuda is one hour ahead of Boston), which made this flight even more enjoyable. I arrived Bermuda’s Hamilton airport at 11:40 a.m. and made my way to winding customs line. After about 30 minutes of waiting I was finally ushered to my 30-something-year-old agent who smiled at me from behind the glass as he took my passport and asked. “Are you here alone?” Awesome. It’s already starting.
“Yes, I am,” I replied.
“Business or pleasure?” he inquired. “Pleasure,” I said. “I just need a little break,” offering more than was required.
He looked up from his glasses, smiled at me, stamped my passport and said, “You’ve come to the right place. Go on girl…” And off I went. (more…)
The fashion world came to a screeching halt the day Gianni Versace was shot outside his Miami home in 1997. The Italian fashion mogul produced accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings, as well as clothes that dressed generations. Few people inspired fashion the way Gianni Versace did. Few people did it in a way that is as recognizable as Gianni Versace. Few people lived the way Gianni Versace lived, and today, few people get the opportunity to step inside the villa that was once owned by the iconic fashion designer.
Before it was the Villa by Barton G, it was the Casa Casuarina – built in 1930 and modeled after the Alcazar de Colon in Santo Domingo, a residence built in 1510 by the son of Christopher Columbus and said to be one the oldest existing homes in the western hemisphere. Versace purchased the building in 1992 for $2.9 million and demolished the hotel next door to create a two-story, 6,100-foot addition that became the Versace Miami Beach house. It saw the likes of Madonna, Elton John, Lady Diana and more, and today stands as a tribute to the man who helped define luxury to its core. The now 19,000-square-foot space is owned and managed by Barton G. Weiss, the renowned restaurantuer, who maintains the essence of Versace behind the steel gates at historic 1116 Ocean Drive.
I walked into the mansion at precisely 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. The butler opened the grand steel gates and showed me the way past the arched opening and toward the fountain in the middle of the courtyard that streamed gold water (via gold thread in its spouts). Admittedly, I stood in awe, my jaw open and my eyes wide, as the realization of my whereabouts came into focus. The Versace handbag in my closet has a whole new meaning now. View the exclusive photos. (more…)
Aviary Suite, Villa by Barton G.
The Versace name is synonymous with luxury, privilege and decadence, so it’s no surprise that the mansion where Gianni Versace lived in Miami doesn’t rank as one of the most coveted homes in America.
When Gianni Versace was gunned down in 1997, his South Beach home became a place to pay homage to one of the world’s elite designers and purveyor of fine fashion.
Now, the Versace mansion has re-opened as a hotel for the rich and luxurious. My favorite part? Gianni Versace’s former bedroom has a nine-foot-wide bed, two balconies and seven closets.
This is luxury living. Read more here.
My favorite part of the blockbuster movie “Pretty Woman” is when the ‘happy man’ comes strolling down the street shouting, “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.” He couldn’t be more right.
Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, Beverly Hills
The cab pulled into the horseshoe driveway at the Four Seasons Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and stopped right in front of the statue of Marilyn Monroe. “How Hollywood,” I thought. I’ve returned to LA having embarked on one of my travel dreams — Los Angeles was my first stop on the way to Australia.
I walked into the hotel and was immediately taken by the smells of fresh flowers and new decor, thanks to a $33 million makeover the hotel just unveiled after two and a half years. The walls whispered softly of Hollywood legends while welcoming new stars to its check-in desk. Unlike its sister property, the Four Seasons Los Angeles on Wilshire (known to many as the former Regent Beverly Wilshire), the Four Seasons Los Angeles, Beverly Hills is a private getaway located in the backyard of its famous neighbors. General Manager Mehdi Eftekari describes the hotel as “Hollywood’s living room.”
I walked into room 1024 and was transcended back to 1960′s Hollywood. The simple flower decor played into the ambiance of French doors that opened up to a small balcony overlooking Century City. I imagined Rita Hayworth welcoming the morning with a shake of her hair as Orson Welles emerged from the bedroom.
Piano in the penthouse suite
As I walked down the hall of the 10th floor, I wondered what stories might have transpired on the other side of the doors. If you listen carefully, you can hear Sinatra tickling the ivory keys on the piano in the penthouse suite, or Audrey Hepburn humming along with her favorite songs. The soft sobs of Warren Beatty’s late-night mistress echo through the hallway while the rest of Hollywood gets dressed for the new day. Today’s Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, Beverly Hills might not have been around in the 1960s, but it’s current location on South Doheny Drive captures the essence and glamour that made Hollywood a shining star on the world’s map.
I made my way downstairs and stood in the library looking out on the gardens, which are pruned perfectly by the hotel’s owner. The grand displays of green trees and white blossoms provide the perfect shade for today’s haut monde, while still adding a touch of home to this luxury hotel.
I stepped back to admire the view and was slowly transported back to 2010. This hotel that makes all its guests feel like a member of Hollywood’s elite, and made me feel like a modern day pretty woman.