the AMPR gold standard

July 17th, 2014

Gold is the new black. From Vienna to Jamaica, our “Gold Standard” will pave the way to a truly gilded vacation.

 

The pool at the new Park Hyatt Vienna, located in a 100-year-old bank vault, is lined in real gold tiles as an homage to the bricks that were once stored there.

 

The Halkin by COMO’s basque-inspired Ametsa with Arzak Instruction is dripping with golden icicles from every inch of the ceiling.

 

Ian Fleming has always taken his readers on the ultimate gilt trip with “The Man with the Golden Gun” and “Goldfinger.” Now, to mark the 50-year Golden anniversary of Fleming’s passing, Island Outpost is allowing guests to book a single room in his former villa at GoldenEye in Oracabessa, Jamaica.

 

All that glitters is gold in the Arrow River, where families can take a 30-minute day trip from Matakauri Lodge to pan for golden nuggets.

 

food markets: where the locals shop

June 7th, 2012

We’ve found that hanging with locals is the best way to experience a new destination authentically – and where better to do that than at a local market? USA Today lists the greatest food markets around the world and many happen to be in some of our favorite cities (including NYC – check out the Union Square Greenmarket right near our office!). Whether they’re called markets, bazaars or souks, you’ll find tasty treats in any of these sweet spots, so be sure to stop by and grab a quick snack while sightseeing.

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech Souk

Navigating through the maze of souks might be a little overwhelming at first, but we guarantee you will be delighted by fresh spices, oils, and olives. Complete your stay at the Royal Mansour Marrakech, where many of these ingredients can be found in the cuisine in the hotel’s three restaurants, overseen by thrice Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe Farmers Market

After a relaxing stay at the cozy Inn on the Alameda, start your day with a trip into town for some shopping and people watching at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, which hosts 150 vendors in a LEED-certified building in the Santa Fe Railyard. Retreat back to the rustic Inn for a little R&R before exploring more of the oldest capital city in the nation.

Lucerne, Switzerland

Wochenmarkt

Guests staying at the elegant Palace Luzerne can enjoy both the beautiful Alpine scenery and the proximity to the heart of town – and don’t forget one of Switzerland’s best food markets! Stroll along the Reuss River while shopping for nuts, fruits, and mushrooms, or pick up one of the Wochenmarkt’s own cookbooks. This market also makes for a great day trip from Geneva (just 3 hours away) and at La Réserve Geneva, guests can take the new Tesla Roadsters out for a spin on their way to the market.

London, England

Borough Market

Made famous by scenes in blockbuster films, like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the centuries-old Borough Market invites locals and tourists alike to pop in and perhaps duck out of the rain. Fresh fruits and homemade breads in the summer and warm drinks and decadent desserts in the winter – there’s always a good time to visit this market. It is just a quick Tube ride from the Metropolitan London, where guests can take advantage of the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa, or The Halkin, one of the first design-led boutique hotels in the world.

 

europe this summer? mais oui!

May 7th, 2012

With the spring weather upon us, we have our hearts set on Europe. Whether you’re traveling to London for the Olympic Games or hoping to stay as far away as possible, we have a suggestion for every traveler’s delight.

For the Olympics:

The Halkin

London, UK

The Halkin is a hidden gem in Belgravia. Clean lines and impeccable service define the London favorite, along with its award winning nahm restaurant serving up authentic Thai fare. Guests can even order this haute Thai cuisine for room service!

What’s New: Celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, The Halkin has certainly made its mark on the London hotel scene. To celebrate, The Halkin has partnered with William Curley, renowned patissier and chocolatier, to fashion a Couture Chocolate Afternoon Tea. This is a Champagne tea service inspired by the chocolatier’s new book, Couture Chocolate, and will include a selection of chocolate patisserie, homemade scones with clotted cream and preserves, and a selection of freshly made sandwiches.

Rates: Rates start at £260 ($422) per night.

 

Metropolitan London

London, UK

This well known London hotel is famous for its Met Bar that first opened in 1997 and set the trend for the ultimate great night out in the heart of London! Now the Met Bar has re-opened its doors with a whole NEW look featuring an expanded and innovative cocktail menu and classic seasonal British cuisine. For the first time, the Met Bar ended its “Members-Only” policy, making it accessible to all from early in the day to late at night.
What’s New: The new COMO Shambhala Urban Escape offers key Asian-inspired therapies as well as a resident acupuncturist. Among the treatments on offer are the Dr. Perricone facials (the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape is the only spa in the U.K. to work with this popular U.S. product line) and COMO Shambhala PURIFY facials, suitable for men and women.

Rates: Rates start at £229 ($372) per night.

 

For the Culture:

Belmond Afloat in France

France

Discover the French countryside from a new perspective with Afloat in France, a small fleet of luxury barges ideal for a group of family or friends on vacation. Fashion an itinerary that matches the interests of the crowd (think golf, cycling, or antiques), and relax in Belmond style over fine French dining and wine while meandering through the ever-changing scenery.

What’s New: Explore the finest vineyards from the Rhône Valley to Gevrey-Chambertin on the new seven-day “Wine Discovery Tour” aboard the Napoleón, which features instructive tastings, wine-centric French dinners, and guided walks through some of the region’s most famous vineyards. To ring in the new tour, each “Wine Discovery Tour” attendee is rewarded with a free one-night stay at a luxury five-star hotel in Paris.

Rates: Rates start at €4,450 ($5,825) per person, based on double occupancy of a cabin.

 

Le Pavillon des Lettres

Paris, France

The charming Pavillon des Lettres, an impossibly chic retreat for art and literature lovers, is the perfect alternative to Paris’ traditional hotels. Combining art, literature, and fine design, each of the hotel’s 26 rooms is devoted to a letter of the alphabet and a corresponding international writer (think B for Baudelaire or H for Hugo).

What’s new: Crazy Horse Cabaret, the avant-garde icon of provocative Parisian nightlife, celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2012 with Le Pavillon des Lettres. Together they are offering a package that includes amour-inducing accommodations and VIP tickets to the show.

Rates: Rates start at €265 ($351) per night.

 

Crystal Cruises Royal Explorer Sailing

Stockholm to London

From the old-world charm of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan to Helsinki’s cutting-edge Ice Bar, revel in the rich cultural life and fascinating museums of these Baltic capitals. From August 14 – 25, spend 11 days exploring these spectacular lands with Crystal Symphony, with calls in St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Berlin/Warnemünde, Germany; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

What’s New: Fresh from a $15 million drydock, Crystal Symphony will be showing off her newly redesigned public spaces. Guest chefs Orjan Johannessen and Odd Ivar Sovod will also be joining the cruise, along with wine expert Eugenio Jardim and mixologist Simon Ford to celebrate the Crystal Wine & Food Festival.

Rates: Check here for current pricing and special offers

 

For the Cuisine:

Park Hyatt Milan

Milan, Italy

Cozily situated in the heart of Milan next to the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, this hotel is a natural favorite for visiting celebrities, design mavens, and vacation travelers alike.

What’s New: After a recent collaboration with the famous English fashion designer, Paul Smith, Park Hyatt Milan now serves their culinary creations upon beautiful, hand-painted dishes designed specifically for the hotel by Smith.

Rates:  Rates start at €540 ($715) per night.

 

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme

Paris, France

Recently accepted into the prestigious Palace Hotels Group, the five-star Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme offers a sensual, understated elegance that extends throughout the hotel – from the lavish rooms and suites to the captivating social areas and exquisite spa.

What’s New: Refreshed and ready for spring, guests can enjoy lunch or dinner on the terrace in an intimate and confidential ambience in the most glamorous neighborhood in the city. Make sure to try the chef’s newest creation, the Non-coupable, a guilt-free dessert that features fresh market strawberries, a base of low-fat cheesecake and cream, finished with a tangy spark of crystallized thyme and lemon.

Rates: Rates start at €1180 ($1550) per night.

 

For the Scenery:

La Réserve Ramatuelle

St. Tropez, France

Located just outside St. Tropez, this stunning property, with 360° views of the Mediterranean Sea, is an intimate, elegant getaway that is ideal for discerning travelers.

What’s new: La Réserve Ramatuelle just added four new health and wellness programs that combine medical assessments, personal training sessions, physical activities, and personalized diets for a total care approach.

Rates: Rates start at €650 ($861) per night.

 

Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

Interlaken, Switzerland

Located in the picturesque mountain setting of the Bernese Oberland, this five-star hotel and spa, known as one of the most beautiful hotels in Switzerland, is in the ultimate location for a summer vacation. Whether visiting for a wellness weekend or a family holiday, the unique grand hotel atmosphere is sure to provide memories that last a lifetime.

What’s New: Offering everything from snacks to cakes to tasty drinks, the hotel has recently renovated its outdoor dining area, the Victoria-Jungfrau terrace, adding a new lighting system designed to create the perfect atmosphere for dinners under the starry, summer night sky. With the addition of 110 seats, the terrace can now accommodate up to 150 guests.

Rates: Rates start at 443.10 CHF ($488.16) per night.

stay skinny and check into chocolate

April 16th, 2012

Image courtesy of WakeUpWorld.com

Everyone seems to be talking about the new “Chocolate Diet”, including The New York Times. With a new study showing that people who eat chocolate frequently have lower body mass indexes than those who it less often, we’re all about indulging our sweet tooth – in moderation of course. Here are some of our favorite places to satisfy a chocolate craving and stay healthy.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The sweetest way to satisfy a sweet tooth? A trip to the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, of course! The Inn on the Alameda even offers a special “Check Into Chocolate” package. Designed to let you sample the unique hand-crafted delicacies created by the talented chocolatiers of the City Different, this tasty package won’t break the bank or your waistline. With rates starting at $340, this package includes:

  • Two (2) nights in a traditional Queen or King Room or a Deluxe King accommodation
  • Daily continental breakfast
  • Daily afternoon wine hour
  • Four (4) $10 gift certificates, one each to sample some of the individual creations found on the Chocolate Trail at Todos Santos, Kakawa Chocolate House, The Chocolatesmith, and C.G. Higgins
  • Four (4) melt-in-your mouth bolitos, the signature chocolates from Señor Murphy, Santa Fe’s first local chocolatier, upon arrival
  • One (1) $30 gift certificate to dine at the Chocolate Maven, purveyor of some of the tasty treats found in the Inn’s Breakfast of Enchantment, serving high tea Monday through Saturday from 3-5pm

London

Since November, London’s famed boutique hotel, The Halkin, offers Couture Chocolate Afternoon Tea. The concept was created by William Curley, four-time winner of ‘Britain’s Best Chocolatier,’ for The Halkin as part of the hotel’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The exclusive new menu gives traditional afternoon tea an unexpected twist and is to be found in the hotel’s newly-transformed lobby bar, the Assouline Culture Lounge, showcasing coffee table books from the renowned book publisher, Assouline. In addition to the English teatime classic of freshly-made scones with clotted cream and jams and a selection of sandwiches, guests can choose from William Curley’s à la carte selection, that includes a Chocolate Financier with Passion Fruit Curd and a Sea Salt Caramel and Raspberry Tart. Priced from £37.50 per person, the tea is available daily between 3 and 6pm.

Bangkok

Located on the ground floor of the newly opened Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, Numero Uno is a chocolate lover’s paradise. The boutique features over 100 types of chocolate, mouthwatering cakes, and delectable pastries made from raw ingredients imported from Europe. Visitors can also enjoy rich coffees and a selection of indulgent hot chocolates. Deli-style sandwiches along with Asian and Western cuisine make Numero Uno a perfect place to stop for an afternoon snack or a late-night treat.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Chef Fred Bisaillon, the Executive Chef at the White Elephant’s Brant Point Grill, has created a delicious and satisfying dessert. Using a decadent combination of rich dark chocolate and sweet fruit, the restaurant’s Cranberry, Pecan, and Orange Chocolate Clusters are easy to make and the perfect solution for a sweet tooth.

Recipe:

  • 1 lb dark chocolate
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Zest of 2 oranges

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl using 25-50% power, stirring every 25 seconds until melted but not burned. Remove from microwave and stir in cranberries and nuts, then orange zest. Using two spoons, drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking dish one at a time. Allow to rest in refrigerator until solid, about 15 minutes. Pull out pan and release clusters from it with thin knife or spatula.

On the Seven Seas

At least once on every sailing, Crystal Cruises hosts a special Chocolate Tea Time held in the charming sunlit Palm Court on both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Guests can enjoy delicious savories and sweets accompanied with Might Leaf teas, the world’s finest whole tea leaf served in special silk pouches. Some of the chocolate temptations offered include Ganache cake, rings, and tartelettes; chocolate crème brûlée; chocolate éclairs; chocolate fudge cake; chocolate whiskey tart; chocolate pyramids and chocolate roulade. Yummm!

 

london’s cool new lounge

October 6th, 2011

Get an inside peek at The Halkin’s NEW Assouline Culture Lounge! The hotel’s General Manager, Kenneth Speirs, was interviewed by Superyachts about the chic new lounge. Check out the interview with Kenneth Speirs to get all the behind-the-scenes details!

new culture lounge in london

October 3rd, 2011

Now open in London is the NEW Assouline Culture Lounge at The Halkin.  The hotel’s lobby bar has been transformed to showcase some of Assouline’s most iconic coffee table books, including collections in fashion, art, photography, travel, architecture, and design.  The Halkin has long been one of the city’s best-kept secrets, nestled among the stately Georgian facades of Belgravia, minutes from Harrods.  Passersby now have the perfect place to stop for a midday or evening break. While enjoying signature cocktails and other light bites, they can peruse the beautiful books and other antiquities on display.  To bring the literature to life, the lounge will host a series of events with selected authors later this year.

This exciting addition comes as the hotel celebrates its 20th anniversary.  It opened its doors in September 1991 as one of the first design-led boutique hotels in London and the first property from COMO Hotels and Resorts.  Since then, it has set the benchmark for small, luxury hotels with impeccable attention to detail and world-class service.  Located in ultra-chic, residential Belgravia in the heart of London – and moments from the glamorous shopping of Mayfair and Knightsbridge – the hotel has its own award-winning Thai restaurant, nahm, under the direction of Chef David Thompson.

giving back to the community

September 27th, 2011

COMO Hotels and Resorts is giving back to the community with your help! In 2010, COMO partnered with MasterCard for the Purchase with Purpose program which helps raise funds for local community projects. Last year, the project raised $35,580 and COMO has decided to bring the program back for 2011!

For every transaction made with a MasterCard card at a COMO property between 1 October and 31 December 2011, MasterCard will donate $30 to a community project with which the COMO property is closely affiliated. The money raised goes to educational and wellbeing initiatives as well as to local schools to improve nutrition and sanitation. In 2010, the funds helped stock the libraries of Tirta Kumara Kindergarten in Bali and the Maafushi and Guraidhoo schools in the Maldives. The program also helped deliver sanitary essentials to the nuns of Kela Goemba in Bhutan and improve sanitation and cooking facilities in the Wat Bangploeng School in Thailand.

With this program, guests have the opportunity to make a real difference in the communities they visit. As if you needed a better reason to go on vacation!

british holiday

December 1st, 2010

London Eye

If the seasonal spirit and décor is calling you to London for a Christmas-Carol-esque holiday, The Halkin and the Metropolitan London have some treats to brighten your stay. Before a day at Harrod’s, take advantage of the Met’s complimentary breakfast to fortify you for your day of shopping. The Halkin is offering “Flights of Wine,” perfect for unwinding after a day of museum-exploration or strolling the Thames. This offer is valid from December 19-January 16 for online bookings.

Make sure to check out the festive lights in the West End when perusing the shops on Oxford and Regent streets.

happy guy fawkes!

November 5th, 2010

Guy Fawkes

Celebrate the eponymous antihero’s foiled plot to blow up British Parliament to restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. Though Fawkes was executed for his treasonous act, he is celebrated each year with fireworks and bonfires. Tonight and tomorrow night, London has celebrations throughout the city for firework watching and general reveling. Guests at the Metropolitan London and the Halkin can pop over to nearby Hyde Park for an uninterrupted view of the sky. Here are some gatherings if you find yourself in London Town.

 

November 6

Roundwood Park. Gates open at 6:45 p.m. Show starts at 8. Free admission.

Ravenscourt Park. Gates open at 6 p.m. Bonfire lighted at 7:15. Children’s show at 7:30, main show at 8. Five years old and over, £6; under 5 free; tickets available online.

Battersea Park. Gates open at 6 p.m. Bonfire at 7:30; main show at 8. Since this will be one of the largest of the firework displays in London there are numerous gated entrances, some of which will not be open until late evening. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. tickets will be available at: Albert Gate, Chelsea Gate, Rosery Gate, and Sun Gate. Starting at 6 p.m. tickets can be purchased at: Albert Gate. Alexandra Gate, Beechmore Gate, Chelsea Gate, Ethelburga Gate, MacDuff Gate, Rosery Gate and Sun Gate. Adults, £6; under 10 years, £1.

 Morden Park. Gates open at 5:15 p.m. Bonfires at 6:30 and 8:15; shows at 6:45 and 8:30. Sixteen years old and over, £7; under 16, £5; under 4, free; family ticket (two adults, two children), £20.

cheap flights to londontown

July 2nd, 2010

Just this morning Iceland Express announced that summer and fall fares to London, Copenhagen, and Luxembourg are on sale for just $399 round trip! There are a limited amount of seats, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of a late summer trip to London to catch the festivals, or a fall getaway in a cozy English cottage, now is the ideal time to book.

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