Hot New Hotels and Suites
With the help of some top travel agents, this issue of DG Amazing Experiences brings you new hotels and suites from Italy and Greece to St. Bart's, Ago Bay in Japan, Langkawi, New York City and onto the high seas with another expansive cruise ship suite.
I hope a
ll your trips are amazing experiences!
DG Amazing Experiences
Please Note - DG Amazing Experiences is not commercially affiliated with any of the resorts we profile or travel advisors we reference.
1. At Sea, The Suites Keep Getting Bigger
Later this year Seabourn will launch new Grand Wintergarden Suites on Seabourn Encore (which Dec. 4 embarks on a 60-day voyage from Athens to Sydney before returning on March 6 with a 61-day passage. Both can be purchased in segments as short as 16 days). There are already similar type suites on the Odyssey, Soujourn and Quest.
The Grand Wintergarden suites (on Deck 8 at 1,550 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor space) feature large windows, two bedrooms, walk-in closet, 2.5 bathrooms, two private verandas, dining for six, a convertible sofa-bed, pantry with wet bar and espresso machine, and three flat-screen televisions. There is a glass-enclosed solarium with soaking tub and daybed. Balconies are large enough for outdoor dining.
Mary Jean Tully
, founder of
Tully Luxury Travel
, and one of the biggest sellers of luxury cruises, tells me while these bigger new suites are nice, she finds that as along as a "suite" is at least 500 sq. ft. most customers are satisfied with the space. She says, the most significant feature customers want is an extra half bathroom.
2. Greek Treat: A 9-Bedroom Suite At Amanzoe
(contemporary modernism meets classical Greece pictured below) at Amanzoe commands 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside and Aegean Sea. Spanning six levels connected by elevators, built with stone, marble and wood, there are three Master Pavilions (two on level 3; one on level 5). Private pools range from 130 to 150 feet in length. In addition to nine bedrooms and sleeping capacity of up to 20 there is a 700 sq. ft. air conditioned beach cabana, private pool and direct access to the water. There are also two staff bedrooms. The resort is seasonal and reopens April 1. Meredith Broder, a luxury travel designer with Avenue Two Travel visited the villa while it was under construction and says it is perfect for multi-generational families and families vacationing together.
Adjacent to the infinity pool and close to the library, Villa 20's main open-plan living and dining area seats up to 18 people inside, and a minimum of 10 outside. Features include full-size, bifold windows that blur the line between indoor and outdoor space, a fireplace, a large terrace with plenty of seating and dining space. There is a full main kitchen to accommodate the needs of all guests.
There is also an outdoor BBQ area, featuring two wood-burning grills surrounded by benches and soft cushions offering an ideal venue for casual gatherings. Level 6 gathering space includes a fully equipped open kitchen and a large terrace by the outdoor pool. Level 5 living area and meeting space features an inside living area with a fireplace and couches, as well as a conference table.
Your own spa facilities feature over 6,000 sq. ft. of indoor space on the fourth level, including full gym facilities, a double treatment room with private shower, a water bed treatment room, steam room, Hammam, cold plunge pool, 165 feet long indoor pool and yoga platform. Additionally, a game room includes a juke box, pool table and soccer table.
Staff includes dedicated housekeeping, houseman, chef and room attendant. You get access to all resort facilities. There is over 28,000 sq. ft. of air conditioned space and 12,000 sq. ft. of terraces.
"They've created a real sense of place and authenticity (and) bring in that Aman influence which you don't get in Greece," says Broder. The beach (and your private cabana as well as the resort's club) is about a five minute bike ride downhill, she notes. You can always get a ride back up after you're done.
The resort can be directly accessed by helicopter (about 40 minutes from Athens International Airport), and Broder recommends staying at least four nights, combining it with an island stop, or as a perfect ending to a yacht vacation. Rate is Euros 15,000 per night in April, May and October, Euros 20,000 in June and September and Euros 25,000 in July or August. There are also four, five and six-bedroom villas and regular suites with pools called Pavilions.
|3. Eden Rock's New Christopher Columbus Suite
|Click the photo above for a video tour of the Christopher Columbus Suite at the Eden Rock in St. Barts.
The Christopher Columbus Suite is the newest signature suite at Eden Rock in St. Barts. At 2,200 sq. ft., it is located within the main house with views across St. Jean Bay. There is an air-conditioned terrace, oak wood floors and Carrara marble finishes in the bathroom. It can be connected by exterior terraces with the Howard Hughes Loft (1,505 sq. ft.), the Garbo (861 sq. ft.) and De Haenen (700 sq. ft.) suites, each of which sleep two.
Jacklyn Siena India, CEO of Siena Charles Travel says, the Christopher Columbus Suite at the Eden Rock in St. Bart's represents in her view the perfect suite for two people: Lots of space, but no wasted space. The suite opened in January with rates starting at $4,373 per night, and the hotel closes at the end of August and reopens at the beginning of October.
Eden Rock is part of Oetker Collection, which last year announced it is expanding to New York City while adding The Lanesborough in London. Among its famous hotels is Le Bristol in Paris and Brenners Park in Baden-Baden.
|4. Hot New Hotels in Japan, New York, Malaysia and Italy
Michael Holtz is owner and founder of SmartFlyer, a luxury travel agency with offices spanning from New York to Newport Beach, Singapore, Sydney and St. Louis, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. I asked him which new hotels he is most excited about.
Amanemu, Kii Peninsula on Ago Bay, Japan
Amanemu, which opened March 1, will be a resort for all seasons, says Holtz. Located on the hills above Ago Bay and close to the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, a UNESCO World Heritage designee with a golf course nearby, the main draw is nature and the naturally heated mineral hot springs. It is surrounded by the Ise Shima National Park on the Kii Peninsula. You can get your dose of the healthy water in a pool that goes with a 20,000 sq. ft. spa as well as your own private onsen if you take a villa.
There are 24 one-bedroom suites (1,065 sq. ft. each), however, Holtz recommends the four 3,710 sq. ft.
, which can be bought as single bedroom units as well. Each features a dining table for six and outside veranda with daybeds. The Nagi Villa has the best views of Ago Bay and is the most private, while the two Sora Villas have partial water views and the Mora Villa has a garden view. There is also fine Japanese dining featuring Matsusaka beef (know for its high fat-to-meat ratio) and local spiny lobster. Activities include kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, visits to oyster farms or even crab fishing.
Nagoya's Chubu Centrair International Airport is a 25-minute helicopter ride, and you can equally access the resort by helicopter from Kyoto and Osaka. While Holtz says Amanemu makes a great weekend break if you are visiting Japan on business, it is also busiest then. If you can, arrive on Sunday or Monday and stay for three nights and you might feel as you are in your own private forest. Another plus is that there is a level of competence in English that Holtz says isn't standard in Japan.
Il Sereno and Villa Pliniano, Lake Como, Italy
Il Sereno Lago di Como
(30 suites) will open in July on the shores of Lake Como adding the modern design of Patricia Urquiola (B&B Italia, Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, Missoni's flagship store in Milan) to the area's grand dame properties (Villa d'Este), and Holtz expects the same sexy vibe as its sister St. Bart's property of the same name. Forbes, Robb Report
and others have it on their lists of Top 2016 openings.
The hotel (a sister of El Sereno in St. Barts) will feature its own private dock so you can come and go by water taxi. Suites range in size from 600 sq. ft. to The Penthouse at 2,150 sq. ft., including a private terrace and garden with a rooftop lap pool. There will be 23 Lakefront Suites ranging from 645 to 710 sq. ft. Holtz recommends the three Corner Suites at 893 sq. ft., which he says offers views of both the pool and double lake exposure. There are also two Lake Apartments are on the ground level with private terraces that are close enough to the water that you might catch the spray from the waves when the lake gets windy. There is an infinity pool, cabanas, restaurant, bar, a spa with option for in-room treatments and fitness center.
That's not it. Late last month it was announced that 19-key
(below) had been acquired by the group and will be offered for full takeovers, proving a terrific venue for celebrations (up to 200 people), weddings and any other reason you want to party like your neighbor on the lake, George Clooney. Accommodations include three standalone villas and four large apartments. It opened at the beginning of March.
Both are four miles from the town and there is a helipad so you can easily transfer from Milan's Malpensa and Linate airports.
The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel, New York City
features a a nine-story atrium topped by a skylight (the
building's facade is a designated historical landmark). Opening in June, there will be Carrara-marble tiled bathrooms, rain showers and oak beds with leather headboards. James Beard award winners Tom Colicchio (Fowler & Wells) and Keith McNally (Augustine) will each have restaurants, and The Bar Room will be a gathering spot in the specta
Holtz calls the hotel "a great, solid downtown option wi
a trendy flair
re are 287 rooms, 45 suites and two penthouses located in the turrets of the building, each with private rooftop terraces with views of City Hall Park and One World Trade Center. Interior design is by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio with credits including The Ivy and Soho Beach House Miami.
The two Turret Penthouses feature 400 sq. ft private terraces with Manhattan skyline views. The suite features 30 foot ceilings, curated artworks and aged oak floors in 1,200 sq. ft. There is an entry floor living room and dining area for six, steel and stone fireplace and built-in wet bar. The second floor is within the building's turret with the bedroom and freestanding bathtub. The next suite category down is the 1,000 sq. ft. Thompson Suite.
St. Regis Langkawi, Malaysia
Built on a lagoon overlooking the Andaman Sea with 89 suites and villas, he says, there are a number of connecting suite options that make it ideal for families with all ages of children, including the 3,029 sq. ft. Presidential Suite (pictured above). There are also several suite types ranging from 743 sq. ft. to 1,496 sq. ft. that have private pools as well as overwater villas. There is also an Iridium Spa.
Holtz notes Langkawi is "clean and has lots of activities" to keep all ages occupied. Attractions include sunset cruises, rice garden tours, The Kilim Geoforest Park, a cable car, waterfalls, night markets and luxury shopping. The resort is 12 miles from Langkawi International Airport (LGK), an international port of entry with a 12,500 ft. runway, however it does have a night curfew.
. How To Avoid A Bad Vacation:
The best way to have a bad time at a great hotel is to pick the wrong room, go at the wrong time of the year or go without understanding the vibe or the place. Our Special Reports and Theme Reports are designed to give you insider information that helps ensure you pick the right suites and villas at a hotel you'll enjoy.
Which suites and villas are most secluded for that romantic getaway?
Which ones are close to the facilities and are best for families?
Which ones are next to the parking lot and you should avoid?
How's the nightlife?
Is it possible to get a luxury experience on a 4,000 passenger cruise ship?
DG Amazing Experiences Special Reports give you comprehensive inside information that is a "must-read" before you go:
Special Report: Four Seasons Maui Resort at Wailea - A look at two very different, new Presidential Suites.
The Brando - How an 18th century boardroom battle created a new luxury resort in French Polynesia.
Mukul Beach Golf & Spa - A new playground for adventure travel, sport fishing, golf and a unique spa on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast.
The Haven aboard the Norwegian Breakaway - Is it possible to have a luxury experience on one of the world's largest cruise ships?
The first report from Crystal Cruise's new 62-person yacht Crystal Esprit, including its two-man submarine.
We travel through Asia, the Middle East and Europe to pick the best villas and residences at nine Six Senses properties.