Luxury can be defined in so many ways—from fabulous spa stays to ritzy rooms at top-notch resorts. So what is driving luxury travelers to destinations in North America?
“Luxury in the U.S. is finally on par with the luxury standards of Asia or even Europe,” says Travel Leaders agent John Oberacker. “The luxury traveler is finding that they do not necessarily need to travel so far to get what they are looking for. With international travel becoming more complicated in terms of security, visa requirements, reduced flight schedules, etc., the luxury traveler is finding that staying domestic is much more simple, and thus a luxury in itself.
“When it comes to a resort or to a city hotel, the needs and desires of the high-end client can vary between the two,” Oberacker adds. “When looking for a resort, the high-end client wants a feeling of seclusion, authenticity, simplicity and value. Together, all these things perfected, equal true luxury. When looking at a city hotel, these things all play true, but the luxury client might be a bit more concerned with location and the accessibility of local attractions, landmarks and activities.”
For clients looking for a spa getaway in a destination city, recommend the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last May with a redesign of its 158 guestrooms and suites and debut of The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco. The 8,000-sq.-ft. spa and fitness center features three treatment suites and one couple’s suite with rainforest showers and a Tea Lounge. Treatments blend Eastern traditions and modern techniques inside the luxurious spa that features Asian-influenced design and artwork such as a 6-ft.-tall statue of Kuan-Yin, Goddess of Mercy.
With the Reset package, available year-round, guests traveling from other parts of the country can feel refreshed with a 1-hour-and-20-minute Red Eye treatment—featuring exfoliation and a full body massage—as well as overnight accommodations, Mercedes S550 Sedan 2013 house car service and a Les Clefs d’Or concierge team. Rates start at $725 pp or $875 for two guests. Regular overnight rates at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco start at $395.
Meanwhile, clients seeking a spa escape outside the city can opt for the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in Vista, just north of San Diego. The destination spa is set on 200 private acres and features 28 villas and four new suites. In addition, the spa is currently renovating its dining room, kitchen and four villas. With 3-, 4- and 7-night packages at the French Provencal-style spa, your client can choose from a variety of activities and treatments, with everything from sunrise hikes to hopping on a Hydrorider in the pool. With the 7-night EP ($8,795 plus tax), guests will have the ultimate wellness package, complete with 16 (yes, 16!) spa treatments, fitness classes, meals and more.
What makes a luxe getaway even more charming is its location—perhaps a property set in wine country. In this case, Granada Hotel and Bistro fits the bill. Set in San Luis Obispo,
California’s third-largest wine region, this 17-room property is the first luxury boutique hotel in the downtown area.
Situated in an original 1920s exposed brick building, the hotel received a $5 million renovation incorporating a local touch with custom installations made by local artisans throughout the property. Further adding to the charm is the onsite boutique, Butch, ready to prepare guests for a picnic with local cheeses, meat, wine, and yes, even the picnic basket. After stopping at Butch, guests can hop on a complimentary bike, complete with map and itinerary, and explore the city. Rates start at $119.
In Ranch Santa Fe in San Diego, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa—a Mediterranean-style property set on 45 acres—completed a $30 million property-wide transformation in October, customizing its 1,000-sq.-ft. suites with rustic furnishings, high-beam roofs, walk-in closets, deep-soaking tubs, and private patios with fireplaces and whirlpools. The 5,000-sq.-ft. Hacienda private villa also got a makeover, featuring a new kitchen and updated appliances, three bedrooms with private patios, and a private backyard with pool, dining area and outdoor entertaining space. Yoga-lovers will be excited about the new yoga pavilion added to the fitness center, which will host yoga sessions, fitness classes and retreats. Rates start at $650.
Las Vegas, a city known for its over-the-top hotels and attractions, is bringing together the best in hospitality with the opening of the first Nobu Hotel, located within Caesars Palace. The boutique hotel features 181 rooms including 18 luxury suites, designed in part by chef Nobu and Robert DeNiro. With a 24-hour in-room dining menu, guests can also enjoy Nobu’s cuisine at all hours with items like sushi and breakfast bento boxes with traditional Japanese morning dishes. Another first for the Strip will be Nobu Restaurant and Lounge opening next door. At 12,775 sq. ft., it will be the largest of the chain’s restaurants in the world. Rates start at $249.
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino entered the new year with a new look, after completing a $160 million “Grand Renovation” (thegrandrenovation.com), redesigning more than 4,200 rooms and suites in its main tower. Some of the highlights of the renovation include the 2-bedroom Skyline Marquee Suites—complete with 180-degree panoramic views of the Strip—and the 2-story Skyline Terrace Suites—set up penthouse-style with an outdoor balcony overlooking the city. Another addition is the new Stay Well collection, with rooms designed to ensure travelers remain refreshed and rejuvenated. Rooms feature vitamin C shower infusion for healthy hair and skin, a water filtration system, an air purification system, and a variety of technology to reverse the effects of jet lag and assist melatonin production. The finishing touch to the renovations will take place this spring, with the opening of Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a 5-level, 75,000-sq.-ft. venue taking over the Studio 54 space. Rates for suites start at $80.
While some people go to Vegas for the glamour of the casinos and shows, others go for a bit of pampering at over-the-top hotels and spas. And with the Spa Experience package at ARIA Resort & Casino, your clients will have the opportunity to do just that. With the weekend package (Friday and Saturday) your client will spend two nights in a deluxe king room while enjoying a variety of spa treatments at The Spa & Salon at ARIA—including Spa Suite Classic massages and facials—while indulging on champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. The 2-level spa spans 80,000 sq. ft. with 62 treatment rooms that include everything from massage and skincare rooms to a hydrotherapy and spray tanning rooms. Rates start at $898.
In the city that never sleeps, travelers who actually want to sleep have an endless amount of choices when it comes to hotels in New York. With tourism up in 2012 from the previous year, and over 41 million domestic visitors in New York City last year, hotels are continuing to expand to accommodate all of this growth.
At The NoMad, European elegance is on full display at the new hotel, which opened last year. As the name implies, the property—part of Sydell Group—is located in the NoMad neighborhood (North of Madison Square Park) in a Beaux-Arts building that has been restored with interiors by French designer Jacques Garcia, who looked to his childhood Parisian flat as inspiration. The 168 rooms and suites feature European-style bathrooms with walk-in showers; mahogany French writing desks; handmade vintage Heriz rugs; custom linens and bathrobes by Sferra and Frette; Argan bath amenities by Cote Bastide; and views of the atrium, Broadway or 28th street.
When guests aren’t out and about in the city, they can curl up in the 2-level library that has a spiral staircase imported from the South of France—just like a scene from “Beauty and the Beast”—or dine in the atrium, which has a pyramid glass roof inspired by the courtyards of Europe. Rates start at $395.
For clients seeking something fresh, Hotel Chandler, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has undergone a $10 million revamp of its guestrooms, lobby and public spaces, and is adding a private dining room and new high-end organic restaurant, Juni, early this year. “With the upcoming Juni restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Shaun Hergatt at the helm, Hotel Chandler will soon be a dining destination for locals and travelers alike,” says general manager Kate Martin.
Says Martin, “The combination of a central, but quiet location, luxe guestrooms ideal for couples, families, groups or business travelers…and a completely refreshed decor make Hotel Chandler unlike any other hotel in the city.”
The 138-room boutique luxury hotel located in the Flatiron District is set in a Beaux-Arts-style building offering all the luxury and charm of another era—with an iron spiral staircase going through the center of the hotel up to all 12 floors, as well as a library and cocktail and wine bar. Rates start at $389.
The Surrey—the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in New York and which Recommend covered in the October issue—on Manhattan’s Upper East Side has added to the classic hotel with the opening of the Cornelia Spa at The Surrey. At Cornelia Spa, services are tailored and customized for each guest with decadent titles like Caviar & Oxygen Reparative Quench ($325)—a 90-minute facial treatment using ocean botanicals to exfoliate and create smoother skin—and the Champagne & Pearl Sugar Glow ($175)—a 60-minute body treatment with mother of pearl powder and champagne shimmer oil.
When not indulging at the spa, guests can partake in other indulges (and there are many to choose from at The Surrey), such as dining on French cuisine at Michelin-starred Cafe Boulud or taking in the city’s skyline from the private roof garden. Rates start at $495 for a deluxe salon and $7,000 for the presidential suite.
At Le Parker Meridien, in Midtown, the “less is more” mentality rings true at its new spa, Moonshine. Opening in March, the hotel’s first spa will be located in a 20,000-sq.-ft. underground space, along with gravity fitness, the completely renovated gym; Drybar, a salon specializing in only blowouts; tenoverten, a nail salon; and Petit Blue Dog, which features gourmet bites, as well as organic vegan smoothies and cold pressed juices.
Moonshine’s not your typical spa, either. It has a bit of Old World glamour and sass, with six cleverly named treatment rooms—after prohibition cocktails like Bee’s Knees, Rusty Nail and Salty Dog—and features a different look from the rest of the hotel, with candles, vintage Louis Vuitton trunks, faux fur throws and Turkish rugs set against rough floors and walls. The menu consists of a massage or facial (both $120 for 60 minutes), and while it may seem simple to only offer two treatments, it’s because they’re tailor-made for each guest. And to get loosened up and ready for treatments, guests are given a shot of moonshine. Rates start at $395.
While most people think of Manhattan as being a mecca for art and culture, Brooklyn—Williamsburg in particular—has blossomed into a cultural hotspot. Located on the water in Williamsburg, the new 8-story Wythe Hotel is set in a former cooperage and embraces the industrial vibe of the neighborhood, with cast-iron columns, arched windows and original pine beams. Many of the 72 guestrooms also have floor-to-ceiling views of the Manhattan skyline and East River, and feature art by local artists and mini-bars with locally sourced items. The rooms feature custom-made beds, vintage mirrors in the bathrooms and custom wallpaper, and the hotel has other art and design collaborations, such as the neon hotel sign and lobby art. On the ground floor of the hotel is Reynard, a restaurant and bar serving up American cuisine with a wood-fired oven and grill and courtyard seating with a menu by chef Sean Rembold of Diner and Marlow & Sons. And as if that weren’t enough art and food for you, Wythe Hotel is also nestled between the top galleries, boutiques, bars and concert halls in this chic neighborhood. Rates start at $179.
Luxury travelers are turning to Phoenix, as Douglas MacKenzie, director of media relations for Greater Phoenix Convention & Vistors Bureau, says, because they “will find resort accommodations that are not only unique but offer rejuvenation and premier amenities.
“With shopping, nightlife, and outdoor adventure to choose from, an escape to Phoenix is the perfect getaway for a luxury traveler.” New on the hotel scene in Phoenix is the addition of Ocatilla at Arizona Biltmore, a 120-room wing adding on to the amenities offered at Arizona Biltmore. “Ocatilla at Arizona Biltmore was created to appeal to today’s discriminating travelers who are seeking a more exclusive and personalized luxury lodging experience,” says general manager David Kirken. “Ocatilla is actually a ‘hotel within the hotel’ where the extraordinary range of exclusive amenities and complimentary services sets it apart from any other hotel in Phoenix.”
The 3-story hotel—named after a compound architect Frank Lloyd Wright built around the same time he was working on the Arizona Biltmore—features a private pool with poolside service and an executive lounge that offers breakfast, snacks and wines by the glass. Guests staying at the Ocatilla will also enjoy amenities like a 2-hour pressing service daily, shoe shine, massage and therapeutic turndown bath. Rates start at $299.
Meanwhile, last spring Enchantment Resort finished a 2-year, $25 million renovation updating the entire Sedona property located in Arizona’s Boynton Canyon. All 218 casita-style guestrooms were redesigned with upgraded technology, as well as fireplaces and headboards inspired by the area’s landscape and Native American culture. The resort also added a new signature restaurant, Che-Ah-Chi—which serves up American cuisine with a Southwest influence—and a Wine Bar with over 2,000 bottles, which overlooks the Sedona red rocks. Rates start at $325.
If your client is looking to explore the area, the Grand Canyon by Air package takes guests on a 6-hour Grand Canyon aerial and features a 3-night stay at Enchantment and full breakfast or breakfast buffet each morning. Rates start at $2,045.
Couples who want to vacation together can both do something they enjoy with Talking Stick Resort’s his and her’s golf and spa package. The Scottsdale resort is offering the Fairway to Heaven package year-round, which features a round of golf at the Talking Stick Golf Club and the choice of a 60-minute Desert Lavender massage, Simply Swedish massage, or Opulence facial at the Spa at Talking Stick. The spa is set on the 14th floor of the hotel, with open-air treatment rooms and views of the valley, while the golf club is located behind the resort. Rates start at $389 per night.
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What’s Hot in Vegas for 2013
Aria Resort & Casino: (866) 359-7757; arialasvegas.com
Cal-a-Vie: (866) 772-4283; calavie.com
Enchantment Resort: (800) 826-4180; enchantmentresort.com
Granada Hotel & Bistro: (805) 544-9100; granadahotelandbistro.com
Hotel Chandler: (866) 627-7847; hotelchandler.com
Le Parker Meridien: (212) 245-5000; parkermeridien.com
Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco: (415) 276-9888; mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino: (877) 880-0880; mgmggrand.com
Nobu Hotel: (800) 727-4923; nobucaesarspalace.com
The NoMad: (212) 796-1500; thenomadhotel.com
Ocatilla at Arizona Biltmore: (800) 950-0086; ocatilla.com
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: (800) 548-3664; ranchovalencia.com
The Surrey: (800) 978-7739; thesurrey.com
Talking Stick Resort: (866) 877-9897;talkingstickresort.com
Wythe Hotel: (718) 460-8000; wythehotel.com