California Coast RV Road Trip

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Tag Archives: luxury

Four Seasons plans luxury Disney World resort

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts officials say they’ve secured financing to build a $360 million (euro264 million) resort at Walt Disney World in Florida.


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Officials announced Tuesday that construction of the 444-room hotel will begin in December. Plans call for a rooftop restaurant with views of the Magic Kingdom. It’s scheduled to open by late 2014.

The Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/q2Jt7d ) reports Toronto-based Four Seasons bought the land from Disney World in 2008 for about $51 million. The property includes Disney’s Osprey Ridge golf course, which will be incorporated into the resort.

Officials had hoped to open the resort last year, but it was slowed by the global economic recession.

Four Seasons executive Scott Woroch says he expects a 50-50 split of leisure and business travelers at the Orlando resort.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Four Seasons plans luxury Disney World resort

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts officials say they’ve secured financing to build a $360 million (euro264 million) resort at Walt Disney World in Florida.


    1. Image: Express Lane


      Pittsburgh International Airport


      One bag? Sail through security at Pittsburgh airport


      Beginning Tuesday, travelers with just one carry-on item will be able to breeze through Pittsburgh airport’s new Express Security Lane, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.


    2. 8 colorful ways to experience autumn


    3. Play mind games for a better vacation


    4. How safe is your hotel room safe?


    5. Cape Cod hotel ties room rate to temperature

Officials announced Tuesday that construction of the 444-room hotel will begin in December. Plans call for a rooftop restaurant with views of the Magic Kingdom. It’s scheduled to open by late 2014.

The Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/q2Jt7d ) reports Toronto-based Four Seasons bought the land from Disney World in 2008 for about $51 million. The property includes Disney’s Osprey Ridge golf course, which will be incorporated into the resort.

Officials had hoped to open the resort last year, but it was slowed by the global economic recession.

Four Seasons executive Scott Woroch says he expects a 50-50 split of leisure and business travelers at the Orlando resort.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cast your vote for America’s best restroom

Courtesy of the Renaissance Arlington Capital View

The loo at Renaissance Arlington Capital View is worth more than a quick visit, Mirrors feature bird silhouettes that are lit and when a guest turns on the faucet, water flows in a sparkling red stream if it’s hot, and a blue stream if it’s cool, thanks to lighting within the fixtures.

Whether sightseeing or heading down the road to visit a new town, finding a clean place to “go” when you’re on the go can be a traveler’s most urgent challenge.

That’s why word gets around when a hotel, restaurant, museum, ballpark or other venue goes out of its way to provide bathrooms that are not just sanitary, but distinctive, inviting and somewhat eccentric.

There’s even an annual award for America’s Best Restroom. For this year’s choice, people can cast their vote online through Sept. 19.

The contest is hosted by bathroom supply company Cintas Corp., which gathers restroom recommendations through the year and then invites the public to help flush out the best loo in the land from a list of 10 finalists.

The 2010 winner was The Fountain on Locust, a vintage ice-cream parlor in St. Louis, Mo., where the bathrooms have hand-painted murals, luxury fixtures and designer mirrors.

This year’s nominees include the dragon- and gargoyle-themed restrooms at the Castello Di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, Calif., and the loos at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va., where bird silhouettes on the mirrors light up when the faucets are turned on.

Restrooms on the ground floor of Chicago’s Field Museum have also been nominated. “They’re large and family friendly, with changing stations and sinks set low enough for kids to easily wash their hands,” said museum spokeswoman Nancy O’Shea. “Our housekeeping staff does a great job of keeping those restrooms clean, and we are just delighted to be in the running.”

Other nominees this year include the restrooms at the Main Street Casino in Las Vegas, where urinals hang on a graffiti-covered slab of the Berlin Wall, and Ninja New York, a restaurant where the décor is 15th-century Japan (complete with ninja-dressed wait staff), but the up-to-date restrooms sport built-in seat warmers, water sprayers, deodorizers and driers for the derriere.

There’s even a posh portable potty on the list. Created for President Obama’s 2009 inauguration-day festivities, Don’s Johns DJ5000LX Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer has granite counters and shelves, heat and air conditioning, an audio system and, for those waiting their turn, a 37-inch exterior-mounted flat screen TV. It’s available for rent by any organization interested in an outstanding outhouse.

More on Overhead Bin

Find more by Harriet Baskas on Stuck at The Airport.com and follow her on Twitter. 

Spa therapies blending high-tech with tradition

Hyperlocal ingredients, a blend of technology and tradition, and treatments focusing not just on beauty but also on remedying stress and pain are some of the trends turning up at spas.

Members of the International Spa Association offered examples of all of them at ISPA’s annual trend showcase in New York Aug. 18.

ISPA also released statistics showing the U.S. spa industry is starting to recover from the recession, with $12.8 billion in revenue in 2010, up 4 percent over 2009, according to an annual study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Spa visits increased from 143 million in 2009 to 150 million in 2010. But spa locations decreased by 3 percent, from 20,600 to 19,900, suggesting that the industry could not support the number of existing spas even though demand was slightly up.

“We have to continue to wow people,” said Jean Kolb, director of wellness at Kohler Co., which operates Kohler Waters Spas in Wisconsin and Illinois. “They’re looking for something that’s different and memorable.”

Some spas are taking a cue from the locavore food movement by using locally grown ingedients. Aspira the Spa in Elkhart Lake, Wis., grows colorful flowers and herbs like chamomile and lavendar for use in a “chakra massage,” one of a number of yoga-related treatments offered by the spa (80 minutes, $190). The spa at the Oneida Nation’s Turning Stone resort in upstate Verona, N.Y., uses “things indigenous to the area like pine, cedar, and flowers,” and even maple syrup in various treatments, products and massages, said Loretta Taylor, director of spa operations.

At the same time that they’re going locavore and looking to traditional therapies, spas are also embracing technology. Miraval, located in Tucson, Ariz., is offering a unique treatment called Taiz Sensorium that combines aromatherapy, massage and sound. Guests listen to a soundtrack ranging from sounds of nature to composed rhythmic and instrumental music while vibrating wooden balls are applied to shoulders, neck and other pressure points ($250 for 50 minutes). “Someone likened it to being a human tuning fork,” said spokeswoman Maura Duggan. “People who aren’t familiar with yoga or meditation, it allows them to quickly and easily reach that meditative state.”

The Spa at Trump demonstrated a pulsating light treatment on hands at the ISPA event; the LED therapy is used in facials at Trump Hotel spas ($150 for 30 minutes at Trump Soho). The Trump team also showed off a sparkly new line of SpaRitual vegan nail polish (animal fat can be an ingredient in nail polish).

If you care to customize your massage in advance, Massage Envy has an app for that. The mall franchise, with 700 locations in 43 states, offers a free iPhone and iPad app that lets you create a massage targeting whatever hurts. You send your order in and the therapist is ready when you arrive. Massage Envy outlets give a million massages a month; a typical membership is $59 a month, which covers one massage.

“Back in the day, a massage was something you did to treat yourself,” said C.G. Funk, Massage Envy’s vice president for industry relations and product development. “Now it’s to manage pain and stress. People are fitting this into their wellness regimen.”

Water treatments have been an essential spa experience since Roman times, but Kohler Waters Spa is updating the tradition. Its Custom Vichy Shower can be preprogrammed for different water treatment settings so that “the therapist’s hands never leave the guest,” said Kolb. And Kohler’s American Club Resort recently debuted the luxury Eau de Vie suite ($1,500 a night) with a deep whirlpool tub that lets you bathe in different hues of colored light at the touch of a button.

Spas are also zeroing in on specific symptoms and causes of stress. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Queensland, Australia, has a program “dedicated to sleep,” said Tony de Leede, Gwinganna’s founder. “People come for four days to learn how to sleep.”


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Asked for some quick tips, he said, “It’s all about training people to get their minds to relax, teaching them ways and little tricks. It ties into what and when and how you eat, the amount of exercise you get — you don’t want to exercise too vigorously at night — and also alcohol consumption.” Rates vary depending on accommodations but the four-day program starts at about $1,810 U.S. per person, double occupancy. Another technique Gwinganna uses to help guests relax is Rockupuncture, a fusion of acupuncture and hot stone therapy.

Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y., has a series of “solutions for modern living,” including the “Texting Tension Tamer” massage for multitaskers, focusing on shoulders, neck, hands and forearms (50 minutes, $120). And with “men making up 30 percent of the spa-going population,” according to Nina Smiley, Mohonk’s director of marketing, Mohonk is also offering “skin fitness for men,” a four-step facial (50 minutes, $120). Smiley added that Mohonk is seeing a new type of man at the spa, “the retrosexual,” with a traditional masculine style perhaps inspired by “Mad Men.”

The ISPA event also showcased two hotel spa concepts that depart from tradition. Suite Spa is a company that’s developed a portable cart to bring a full spa menu to hotel rooms the way room service brings in meals. The carts enable therapists to provide massages, body wraps, manicures, facials and pedicures (including a foot “smoothie” to take care of rough skin, shown at the spa event). Suite Spa started at the J.W. Marriott in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 2009 and is now available at a half-dozen other locations including the Andaz Fifth Avenue in New York and the Park Hyatt in Washington.

In Miami Beach, the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel recently opened the Elle Spa, partnering with Elle magazine. Spa director Timothy Williams says it’s the first time a media publication has partnered with a hotel to open a spa. Elle beauty editors advise on unique boutique brands — like Ahava, a brand that uses minerals from the Dead Sea in masks and treatments — and help bring the New York fashion world aesthetic to Miami Beach.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Around the world with the Smithsonian

It’s the around-the-world trip of a lifetime.

The itinerary includes Machu Picchu, Easter Island, the Serengeti, the Taj Mahal and 10 other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And travelers who sign up for this luxury, 22-day Smithsonian Journeys vacation get to fly to all of these destinations in style via private jet.

“I’d just lost my husband of 30 years and really needed a trip, something special,” said Dr. Paulene Popek, 65, an executive director of the Center for Reflective Parenting in Los Angeles. “I was missing him so much I felt like I needed to treat myself. I needed a trip of a lifetime.”

It’s one of four around-the-world charters in late 2011 and early 2012 affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution’s travel program , which has been combining expert-led tours and life-enriching experiences for travelers worldwide for more than 40 years.

“We have our own pilots, our own chef and our own staff that will know what you want to drink as soon as they recognize your face,” said Amy Kotkin, director of Smithsonian Journeys. The private jet, she added, is a Boeing 757 that typically seats more than 200 “but for us is configured for just 78 with all business class cradle seats.”

Despite the space, on-board snoozing is discouraged; class will be in session. Some of the world’s top experts will join various legs of the trip to lecture about upcoming sites.

If parts of that sound both physically and intellectually strenuous, relax. All the flights are during the day and none lasts longer than seven hours.

“We’re on the ground for about two days at each site,” Kotkin said. “At night we stay at very luxurious accommodations in spectacular settings.”

Treated like royalty

The trip originates in Orlando, Fla., where guests will stay and enjoy an introductory dinner and accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton. Other lodging includes Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India, and the Palais Jamai Fes in Fez, Morocco.

Image: Taj Mahal

India Tourism Bureau

Popek says she was treated like royalty during her March 2009 trip — and once by royalty. It was at a sumptuous dinner at Bhutan when Her Majesty, Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, made time to engage in pleasantries with each guest.

“She was so sweet and gracious,” Popek said. “She made it a point to visit with each of us and personally thank us for coming to Bhutan.”

Popek said she was awed by what she experienced every day during the tour.

“You know you’re going to be impressed by Taj Mahal, the Egyptian pyramids and Easter Island, but exposure to some of these tribal cultures in places like New Guinea gives you a profound sense of humility that never leaves you,” she said. “That trip changed my life in so many varied and wonderful ways.”


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Luxury — at a price

So what, exactly, does all this cost? Trips start at $62,950 ($71,100 single occupancy).

At that price, such a luxury trip might sound like an outlandish extravagance, but consider that a year’s tuition at Harvard is now $50,724.

“Depending on their travel aspirations, many people consider this a real bargain,” said Kotkin. “These are iconic destinations so many yearn to visit. Here they’re all together in one package. And there’s always going to be a huge romance with circling the globe.”

The plane also has its own staff and security. Logistics of traveling from continent to continent, such as visas and clearing customs, are handled by Smithsonian Journeys.

“Let’s put it this way,” Kotkin said. “It’s the only time in their lives when many of our passengers will ever fly overseas in a plane with overhead bins that are full of masks, shields and spears.”

© 2011 msnbc.com. 



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