14Jul

Top U.S.Travel Destinations 2011

Virtuoso’s Luxe Report revealed the top domestic travel destinations for 2011. Hawaii dominated the list, demonstrating US traveler’s need for exotic island vacations in 2011!

1. Maui, Hawaii

The Four Seasons Resort Maui is one of the islands best luxury hotels.

Four Seasons Resort Maui

What has been recognized as the “Best Island in the World” 16 years in a row (out of 23) by the Conde Nast Reader’s Poll. So it’s no surprise this amazing island took the top spot as most sought after destination of 2011! Not only is it a great leisure destination, but offers adventure activities as well. Whale watching, exploring active volcanoes, water sports, golf and more can be found on the islands of Hawaii.

2. New York City

Hotel Plaza Athenee is one of New York City's best hotels.

Hotel Plaza Athenee

In 2010, NYC drew in 43 million tourists. That’s a 7% increase from 2009. It’s possible that 2011 may hit 50 million tourists. It makes sense that NYC tourism is doing so well in this economy because it offers plenty of things to do, is within driving distance for a good amount of people on the east coast, and it’s larger-than-life attitude can be just as thrilling as the exotic Maui!

3. Las Vegas

The Bellagio is a luxury hotel in Las Vegas

Bellagio Las Vegas

It seems like the perfect place to let off some steam. Casinos, nightlife, shopping, and shows are the main attractions. Summer is great for Vegas pool parties too.

4. Napa Valley

Auberge du Soleil is a luxurious hotel in Napa Valley.

Auberge du Soleil

Napa draws over 5 million tourists every year. People come to visit wineries and take in the beautiful landscape. Plus, you can stop by San Francisco (#5) on the way.

5. Orlando

Disney World is a popular tourist attraction in Orlando, Florida

Disney World

Disney travel is huge, and with new renovations this year, exciting for many.

6. San Francisco

The W Hotel in San Francisco is a popular luxury hotel.

W Hotel San Francisco

People come to San Francisco for the food, architecture, art, and entertainment. It’s a great place for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. San Francisco is to the west coast what NYC is to the east coast – a great weekend spot that’s not too far, but you still feel like you’re going on a substantial vacation.

7. Colorado Mountains

The Ritz Carlton Vail is a new luxury hotel in Vail.

Ritz Carlton Vail

The Rockies are really popular during the winter and early spring for skiing and snowboarding. There are lots of great resort towns, like Vail, Aspen, and Steamboat Springs.

8. Big Island, Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid on Big Island, Hawaii, is a popular luxury hotel.

Fairmont Orchid

The second Hawaiian island to make the top 10, Big Island is (as it’s name might suggest) the largest. It’s also an active volcanic site, which is one of its biggest attractions.

9. Maimi

The Gansevoort is a luxury hotel in South Beach, Miami.

Gansevoort

Another great place to go for a long weekend and have some fun. Relax on the beach during the day and enjoy the South Beach scene at night!

10. Kauai, Hawaii

The St. Regis Princeville is a popular luxury hotel in Kauai, Hawaii.

St. Regis Princeville

The third and final Hawaiian island on the list…Kauai is the oldest and has been featured in over 70 Hollywood movies. Directors can’t get enough of the beautiful landscapes of Kauai!

20Jun

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Vail

The Ritz Carlton Vail opened this past winter. It is a super-exclusive, members-only destination that features elegant Bavarian architecture and huge vacation condos within the amazing five star Ritz resort!

The Ritz Carlton Vail offers luxury vacation rentals in Vail, CO.

Ritz Carlton Vail

Design

Ski resort destinations are notorious for their outdated “Bavarian” style design – logs and plaid everywhere! Not at the Ritz Carlton Vail. It’s definitely alpine design, but done tastefully. They’ve used a neutral color palette, huge windows that let in lots of light, and rustic wood elements.

The Great Room lounge features huge bay windows and plush furniture that is perfect for relaxing. The Lobby Bar is ultra-cozy and dimly lit.

The Ritz Carlton Vail vacation condos offer spacious living rooms and dining rooms.

Ritz Carlton Vail Dining Room and Living Room

Members Only Vacation Condos

The Ritz Carlton Vail is a members-only destination comprised of Residence Club vacation condos. The Ritz Carlton Residence Club program is a fractional program, similar to a timeshare, but with deeded ownership in a specific unit. These condos are located within the resorts in addition to the hotel’s traditional accommodations of guest suites, and offer owners access to resort amenities. The Vail location, however, is Residence Club vacation condos only. That means you have to be part of the Club program, or rent from someone who is. There are plenty of vacation rental agencies who specialize in luxury vacation rentals to choose from.

Five Star Condos + Resort Amenities

For those of who who enjoy the extra space of vacation rentals (and TripAdvisor says that you do), the Ritz Carlton Vail is something to consider. These condos have spacious bedrooms (with walk-in closets!), fully equipped gourmet kitchens, elegant dining room, living room, washer/dryer, and powder room.

Guests also have the luxury of resort amenities, like a year-round heated pool, fitness center, spa, lounge, and on-site dining. Hotel services are also provided, including twice daily maid service, room service, 24 hour concierge, ski nanny, ski concierge, and Ritz Kids Program.

The Ritz Carlton Vail offers Club guests resort amenities, including a year-round heated pool.

Ritz Carlton Vail pool

Location, Location, Location!

Vail is one of North America’s premier ski destinations whose fame is only surpassed by Aspen. The Ritz Carlton Vail is right in the heart of this charming and luxurious town. There is fine dining, shopping, and nightlife just steps away!

2May

Mother’s Day Trip & Brunch

Are you taking your mom on a luxury vacation for Mother’s Day? These restaurants in popular vacation destinations feature decadent brunches that are sure to make Mother’s Day special for you and your mom!

San Francisco, CA

Foreign Cinema serves one of the best brunches in San Francisco.

Foreign Cinema Brunch

Where to stay: The Ritz Carlton San Francisco Residence Club

Urban luxury at Union Square, with direct access to the best shopping in the city!

Where to Brunch: Foreign Cinema

This theatrical restaurant offers delicious dishes such as homemade pop tarts with real fruit inside, balsamic fried eggs, and Dungeness crab croque monsieur. And of course since it’s in San Francisco, they have a ton of fresh seafood, including an oyster bar, mussels, prawns, and lobster. There are 3 dining rooms to choose from, the main space with the kitchen and bar, a lively courtyard where old movies are played at night, and a quieter art gallery space. A secret (delicious) item not on the menu: beignets.

Los Angeles, CA

The Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills serves amazing brunch.

Four Seasons Los Angeles Brunch

Where to Stay: The Peninsula

Classic Beverly Hills luxury in a great location.

Where to Brunch: Four Seasons Hotel (Beverly Hills)

The Four Seasons BH brunch is known for three things: serving a variety of delicious food, being expensive, and celebrity sightings. The service is impeccable and they offer a several food and beverage stations, including breakfast food, Bloody Marys, sushi/Asian food, cheese, and desserts. The Four Seasons is doing a special Mother’s Day Brunch, reservations highly recommended.

New York

Essex, located in the Lower East Side, serves amazing Sunday brunch.

Essex New York City Brunch

Where to Stay: Waldorf Astoria

New York elegance and an amazing location on Park Avenue.

Where to Brunch: Essex

Head to the Lower East Side to Essex, where you will find a delicious brunch for only $20 that includes 3 Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, or mimosas! This chic white, lofty space is the perfect place for a Mother’s Day Brunch. Enjoy classic brunch items, like the manchego mac & cheese, lobster benedict, Mexican Matzo Brei (scrambled eggs, tortilla crisps, monterey jack cheese, avocado, black beans and pico de gallo) and The Deep South (chicken fried steak, biscuits, eggs, and sausage gravy).

Boston, MA

Stella, located in Boston's South End, serves delicious brunch.

Stella Boston Brunch

Where to Stay: Ames Hotel

One of Boston’s newer hotels, featuring chic and modern luxury.

Where to Brunch: Stella

Stella offers simple Italian food and a cute atmosphere. The entire place is white and includes a great outdoor patio. Enjoy traditional breakfast foods, like bagel and lox, frittatas, parfaits, and eggs benedict.

Miami, FL

The Biltmore Miami serves a lavish Sunday Champagne Brunch

Biltmore Miami Sunday Champagne Brunch

Where to Stay: Biltmore

An iconic Miami hotel that has accommodated countless celebrities and public figures with superior service and elegance.

Where to Brunch: Biltmore’s Fontana

The Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Biltmore is a legendary affair that combines European flair with Latin flavor and Miami’s own unique style. There is live entertainment and a lavish buffet, including caviar, shellfish, smoked salmon, carved meats, fresh omelets, pastas, sushi, and a wall of spectacular desserts.

Scottsdale, AZ

Fred's at Barneys New York in Scottsdale offers a sophisticated Sunday brunch.

Fred's at Barneys New York Scottsdale

Where to Stay: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Modern luxury inspired by its stunning desert surroundings.

Where to Brunch: Fred’s at Barneys New York

Mom is sure to love Fred’s, which features a bright, open space with views of Old Town. Brunch is elegant and relaxing, featuring a Bourbon Street Brunch, bagels made from scratch, and live New Orleans jazz. The flavored iced tea and specialty cocktails are also delicious! A huge bonus of brunching at Fred’s is that it’s located in Barneys New York! After eating and sipping on mimosas, go to Barney’s for some Mother’s Day shopping.

Chicago, IL

Elate in Chicago serves a great Sunday brunch.

Elate Chicago Brunch

Where to Stay: Elysian Hotel

Where to Brunch: Elate

This rustic, modern, and casually sophisticated restaurant is adjacent to Hotel Felix, Chicago’s first LEED certified hotel. Brunch dishes at Elate include breakfast pizza, braised pork and egg tostada, and creme brulee pancakes. The special Mother’s Day prix fixe meal begins with a buffet of muffins, fruit, pastries and cheese. Guests can choose from 3 entrees, and finish with dessert. Don’t forget the bottomless mimosa for $20!

28Apr

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is one of the best Caribbean resorts.

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman

The acclaimed Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is a sprawling resort that covers the entire width of the island, about 145 acres. It is by far the best resort on the Cayman Islands! When you finally arrive, you’ll be served delicious lemonade in a tropical tiki hut. Then they will whisk you away to your guest room…

I recommend staying in one of the newly refurbished guest rooms, which now feature chic and modern design. These rooms are closer to the pool and offer stunning ocean views. The Ritz has thoughtfully scattered the ocean with fun toys, rafts, and even floating bars! I wish I was floating on a raft on the Caribbean with a cocktail in my hand right now

This European style resort is meticulously manicured and designed with marble, stone, and luxurious woods everywhere. The resort is split into two buildings, connected by a climate controlled catwalk that overlooks West Bay Street.

As an island resort, there are a variety of fun water activities to choose from, like snorkeling, sailing,and water rafting. You can explore the island and check out the Cayman Turtle Farm, where you’ll get to touch and swim with green sea turtles.

The Silver Rain Spa at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is a La Prairie Spa.

Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Silver Rain Spa

Taking in a treatment at the Silver Rain Spa, a La Prairie Spa, is a great way to relax. The Silver Rain Spa incorporates pure and rare ingredients and offers massages, body and facial treatments, hydrotherapies, and La Prairie anti-aging formulas.

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman’s premier restaurant, Blue by Eric Ripert, celebrates epicurean artistry in the grand tradition of Le Bernadin. The menu features seafood locally caught by Cayman fishermen. The wine cellar offers over 650 selections from all around the world.

Periwinkle is an elegantly casual restaurant that features a terrace and lagoon views. The menu offers simply prepared seafood, homemade pasta, pizza, and Mediterranean style cuisine. 7 Prime Cuts and Sunsets is a steakhouse and seafood & raw bar. 7 Prime also features a Cuban Cigar assortment and Sunday Prime Rib Dinner.

The golf course at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman was designed by Greg Norman. This 9 hole course features 8 holes on the water and a final island green. Caddie concierge service and golf  instruction is available.

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman implements an Ambassadors of the Environment program, which offers eco tours for kids, youth, adults and families.

Conclusion: Great for honeymoons, girls getaways, and family vacations! Beware of children.

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23Apr

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Moscow

The Ritz Carlton Moscow is one of the capital's finest hotels.

Ritz Carlton Moscow

The Ritz Carlton Moscow is located right off Red Square, on the city’s main avenue, Tverskaya Street. This Ritz features true Russian glamour and a few distinct services and amenities inspired by its region – like the Lobby Lounge’s vodka sommelier!

The hotel offers 334 spacious guest rooms (the smallest is 450 sq ft), and they will cost you…standard rates, depending on the season, are upwards of $1000 per night.

The Ritz Carlton Moscow offers a chic lounge, O2 Lounge, which offers amazing views of the city.

The O2 Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Moscow

The O2 Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Moscow features Faberge inspired lounge chairs.

The Faberge chairs at the Ritz Carlton Moscow's O2 Lounge

The Ritz Carlton Moscow’s O2 Lounge features views of the Kremlin, a sushi bar, oxygen bar, “Faberge” chairs, and chic design.

The premier restaurant at the Ritz Moscow is Caviarterra, whose menu incorporates the local culture. Enjoy Russian classics like caviar, borsch, chicken kiev, and beef stroganoff. The Petrus wine room has a collection of over 800 wines from around the world!

The ESPA Spa at the Ritz Carlton Moscow features a pool with an ice fountain.

Ritz Carlton Moscow ESPA Spa Pool with ice fountain

The ESPA Spa is a gorgeous facility that includes a pool with lounge chairs and ice fountain. Treatments utilize the latest scientific discoveries and effective European therapies.

20Sep

Ski Holidays: Colorado Ski Resorts and more

Ski Holidays

Ski Holidays

Winter is quickly approaching – that means it’s time to start thinking about where to take your ski vacations! Ski holidays are fun because it’s not just about skiing – it’s about staying at a beautiful resort in a luxurious ski town, going to dinners and doing plenty of shopping. It’s a great family, romantic, or girls vacation.

There are a few 5-star ski resorts that stand out, especially the Colorado ski resorts. Not only are the hotels top-of-the-line, but the towns they are located in have been developed over the years and now cater to an affluent crowd.

Ski Holidays - Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch

Ski Holidays - Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch

The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch is a ski-in/ski-out resort in the luxurious Beaver Creek Village. This resort is one of the most popular of all the Ritz Carlton ski resorts thanks to its location and amenities.

Ski Holiday - Ritz Carlton Aspen Highlands

The Ritz Carlton Aspen Highlands is another great place to stay. Aspen is world-renowned for being a glamorous ski destination, and celebrities are often spotted there. Aspen has many fine dining options, like LuLu Wilson, Cache Cache, Ellina and Gisella.

Ski Holidays - Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Ski Holidays - Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Ritz Carlton has another ski-in/ski-out resort in North Lake Tahoe, California. The resort is less that 15 minutes away from the village of Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

Ski Holidays - Four Seasons Jackson Hole

Ski Holidays - Four Seasons Jackson Hole

The Four Seasons Jackson Hole (Wyoming) is another ski-in/ski-out resort in the Teton Mountains. Jackson Hole is well known for its challenging ski conditions and is perfect for the advanced skier in your group, although they do have terrain suitable for skiers of all levels.

All of these resorts have Ski Valets, 5-star dining, heated outdoor pools and jacuzzis, destination inspired decor, and luxury spas designed to soothe aching muscles and deal with high altitudes. There is also the option to rent one of their Residence Club luxury condos. You can rent from owners through our sponsor, Travel En Vogue.

The Four Seasons is also opening another ski resort in Vail, Colorado, that is scheduled to open December 2010.