If you needed an excuse to take a vacation, here’s a good one: it could help you to live longer.
Forget all that stuff about it being stressful having the family around you 24/7, Australian research has concluded that travelling makes people happier and improves their health, even long after the holiday is over.
Dr Sebastian Filep, an expert in travel and wellbeing at Victoria University, found that motivations for travel, experiences at the destination and the post-holiday reflection all contributed to the pleasure of a vacation abroad.
“I see an opportunity for a greater connection between tourism and health, where holidays become a more important factor in leading a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr Filep. “We know from studies in the US that experiencing positive emotions reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, and that optimists live longer than pessimists. So happiness is good for overall physical and mental health, and holidays are a good vehicle for experiencing happiness.”
Dr Filep’s study, conducted as part of a doctoral thesis, forms the basis of a chapter in a forthcoming book, Tourists, Tourism and the Good Life.
by Andy Moreton
Most tourists visit London for the historic attractions and architecture, but where you stay and how you eat can make or break any visit to London. Consider staying in a top London luxury hotel which also has an award winning restaurant to cut down on expensive taxis trips. Other advantages of dining where you stay include being able to charge the whole stay to your bill, which can be beneficial when claiming company travel expenses, and after indulging in award winning food and a good bottle of wine it is much more pleasant to stroll back to your room trying to get a ride back to the hotel.
Some top London luxury hotel with fine dining choices for the Summer 2012 include:
Connaught Hotel, Mayfair
The on-site and understated Espelette Restaurant is actually one of London’s Michelin star establishments, located in one of Mayfair’s best luxury hotels. French chef, Hélène Darroze, provides a true gastronomic experience from afternoon tea to signature dinner entrees.
You will know you are dining at the Foliage Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, as beneath each glass plate is a freshly pressed leaf picked fresh from the grounds of Hyde Park opposite. With al-fresco or indoor dining, this Michelin star restaurant will make any stay at the Mandarin Oriental absolutely perfect.
Superbly located just off Knightsbridge, the Berkeley is one of London’s top luxury hotels and a beautiful place to return to each evening. Choose to dine casually at Gordon Ramsey’s Boxwood Café or more upscale with Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. Both chefs have a Michelin star and offer exquisite cuisine.
Dining at the Metropolitan gives guests the opportunity to sample the delectable Japanese-style menu developed by chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, better known simply as Nobu. Coupled with the five star service of this London luxury hotel, it makes a great base for sightseeing.
No list would be complete without including Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. Two Michelin star dining created by one of the world’s greatest chefs is a great reason to stay at the Dorchester, one of the top London five-star hotels.
The newest boutique hotel in South Beach Miami to open its doors is Lords South Beach on exclusive Collins Avenue. It is the first self-identified gay boutique hotel and describes itself as an “appropriately oriented hotel”. It aims to cater to the gay community that gravitates around this bijou area. Located just around the corner from the former Versace mansion, Lords also welcomes straight guests who are open minded enough to be enjoying the South Beach lifestyle.
On the surface this hotel offers much the same as any other boutique hotel in Miami – Frette linens, well-stocked minibars and the latest high-tech equipped guest rooms. One tweak has given room service a new title, Stay Naked Dining, although robes are thoughtfully provided. The hotel also has Bohemian décor with copies of Out magazine scattered carelessly around.
This is one of 1800 TAG approved hotels which are known to enforce non-discriminatory policies and train staff in LGBT sensitivity.
by Gillian at Luxique
The British TV period drama Downton Abbey, which weaves stories around the lives of a fictional aristocratic family and their staff in the early 1900s, seems to have captured the imagination of luxury hotels worldwide. The series was featured as a Masterpiece Classic PBS program in the USA, and New York’s Oheka Castle luxury hotel in New York decided to offer its own Downton Abbey experience. It has created special “Aristocratic Escape Packages” where Lords and Ladies can be entertained in the manner befitting upper class gentry.
This pampering package includes overnight accommodation, afternoon tea, champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries and a copy of the drama series on DVD. Oheka Castle and Estate on Long Island is no stranger to an upmarket clientele. It was the setting for the marriage of Maude Kahn, elder daughter of Otto Kahn, to Scots Guard Major John Marriott in 1920 with a guest list straight from the Who’s Who of New York Society.
Other luxury hotels cashing in on popular TV series include the urban art hotel, Artists Residence, in Brighton England. It was featured in the Hotel Inspector TV series that shot a behind-the scenes-documentary and the hotel now basks in notoriety.
Similarly, the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars has prompted a spate of package weekend breaks with a dancing theme. Judges and professional contestants from the British version, Strictly Come Dancing, are guests at luxury country house hotels across Britain. Guests have two dance lessons before a performance, plus a Q&A session and photographs with the celebrities.
The New Year is traditionally a time to go sales shopping and tourism enjoys a boost as shoppers head to international destinations. Luxury hotels in New York look forward to shoppers hitting Fifth Avenue or visiting during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in early February.
Paris offers the elegant temples of Chanel, Dior and Hermes and Milan’s couture is world famous. However, shoppers looking for a luxury destination in the sun with superb shopping malls are now reportedly heading to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Luxury hotels in Dubai include the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which overlooks the Dubai Mall with almost 12 million square feet of retail space. The huge mall is crammed with high-end extravagances and designer names from Gucci to Louis Vuitton. Although the malls are new, the Middle East has historically been a center of trade for gold, spices and pearls in its colourful souks.
Winter is the perfect time to enjoy Dubai’s sunny desert climate. Tourists are finding that cooling off in one of the shopping malls can also include a trip to a skating rink, restaurant or a movie.
The Maldives Government recently ordered that all spas in luxury hotels in the Maldives should be closed. The order followed protests by the opposition Islamist Adhaalath Party which claimed the spas were breaching Islamic law.
More than 850,000 tourists visit the 1,100 coral islands and atolls that make up the Maldives. Vacations typically include sunbathing, snorkelling and diving on the beautiful coral reefs along with spa treatments and massage. The destination is popular with wealthy celebrities and honeymooners looking for a quiet place to relax in the tropical sunshine. Luxique.com offers ten top luxury resorts in the Maldives, most with five star amenities.
Although all resort hotels were ordered to close their spas and health centres with immediate effect, many chose to disobey the ruling to preserve their business. The Maldives Association of Tourism (MATI) has vowed to fight the ban on behalf of the island’s hotels as tourism is crucial to the economy of the Maldives.
In the latest move, the President of the Maldives has ordered the country’s upscale spas to reopen pending the Supreme Court’s decision on whether spas violate Islamic beliefs. Mr Nasheed said, “To be racist in any way is detrimental to the tourism industry” and he acknowledged this was not the way for the Maldives to go. He advocates a brand of moderate Islam traditionally practised in the country, which he sees is vital to preserve tourism in the Maldives.
Four Seasons Atlanta and Whistler luxury hotels are giving their room service menus an overhaul – and guaranteeing a speedy delivery to your door. The new service aims to satisfy guests that are tight on time but need a hot snack.
The latest in-room menu will offer a range of fast-food items and guarantees the order will be delivered to your room within 15 minutes of ordering. Each Four Seasons hotel (and Luxique offers 52 of them worldwide) has a different twist on what to offer. For example the Four Seasons Hong Kong will have traditional quick and easy favourites such as wonton noodle soup with Chinese greens while the Four Seasons Hampshire England will lay on a typical British ploughman’s lunch. Hot snacks will include nachos with Winchester cheese and chive crème fraiche.
The second neat idea from Four Seasons is the “to go” menu which offers packed meals that are airline-friendly. Simply order from your room 15 minutes before checking out and pick up your meal-to-go at the front desk as you head for the airport.
Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North offers delicious portable lunches that will also suit guests wanting to enjoy a picnic as they enjoy the local sights. It includes tequila-lime chicken wrap with slaw, kettle chips, iced tea and a chocolate chip cookie.
What started out as a novel way to attract single female travellers and groups of ladies has turned into a legal nightmare for a boutique hotel in Denmark. The Bella Sky Hotel in Copenhagen opened last year as Europe’s largest design hotel. It reserved one floor specifically for women and added extra feminine touches such as makeup mirrors and glossy magazines to make their female guests feel more pampered.
Unfortunately Denmark’s Equal Treatment Board ruled that the initiative was illegal. The hotel is currently refusing to comply with the ruling, stating “the only man who can access this floor will be a fireman in the case of fire”.
The Dukes Hotel, a five star London boutique hotel has also decided to woo women guests and has assigned some of its rooms as “Duchess Rooms”. These rooms are serviced solely by women staff and have added extras such as fresh flowers, styling accessories and female bathroom amenities. They are proving very popular with their upmarket female clientele, but may prove to be less than popular with the European Commission on Gender Equality.
The luxury travel market is suddenly being inundated with a new term – “Pop-up”. While the term is common in temporary pop-up seasonal shops, it is also now being applied to hotels. One British company calling itself the “Pop-Up Hotel” specializes in crafting temporary spaces for events and retreats, and other hotel chains are now joining in.
While temporary usually equates to cheap, in the case of the Papaya Playa Project in Mexico, it is anything but. Priced at up to $675 per night, the hotel group Design Hotels has created a pop-up hotel in a series of cabanas and casitas right on the beach at Tulum. Claiming that it offers a luxury “glamping” experience (being a type of glamorous camping) it does promise high thread count sheets, a spa incorporating Mayan shamanism and food from KaterHolzig, better known for its Berlin Bar 25 fame.
Design Hotel Founder Claus Sendlinger also plans to bring famous DJs and musicians to perform on the natural amphitheater on the beach, introduce an on-site designer boutique and offer the luxury traveler perks such as sustainable and organic food-on-the-go.
Not to be outdone, the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas luxury hotel is offering a Pop-Up Wedding Chapel for a short time. There is a choice of ceremonies: the Hitched in a Hurry economy package which includes a photo booth picture and space eraser rings, or the deluxe “Going to the Chapel” package which has a silk flower bouquet, logo tee shirts and party favors.
by Gillian at Luxique
According to the Miami New Times, luxury hotel breakfast buffets are being seriously affected by the economic downturn. Locals are apparently posing as guests and helping themselves to free hot breakfasts, muffins, bagels, fruit and whatever else may be on offer. Hotel General Managers in luxury hotels in Miami are reporting that the problem is worse in hotels where the buffet is on the first floor, or visible from street level.
Many luxury hotels have a two-tier system; free breakfast for those with room keys and a charge of anything from $12-30 for non-residents. In practise, these hotels rarely ask guests to show their room key. They simply ask for their room number before seating them, for fear of causing barely-conscious guests a bad start to their day. However, this is allowing brazen free-loaders the chance to enjoy a tasty breakfast for free on a regular basis.
Some on-the-ball restaurant managers in boutique hotels know all their guests on sight. However, many city hotels in Miami have a stream of one-night guests who are catching flights. Adam Zembruski, spokesperson for Pharos Hospitality was quoted as saying, “When I was GM, I was very hands on and knew most, if not all of my guests personally. More importantly, they knew me. So, I was out there at breakfast every day – and knew the regulars (so) the ‘outsiders’ stuck out like a sore thumb.” While some hotel managers involve the police, others either give the offender the bill or remove them as quietly as possible.
by Gillian at Luxique