Shermanstravel Blog

Smart Luxury

Palafitte2

Switzerland’s Hotel Palafitte lays claim to an unusual distinction: it is the only hotel in Europe built on stilits — an architectural detail more commonly associated with the Indian and Pacific oceans. More than mere novelty, the stilts are an architectural design meant to enhance the surrounding views. The luxury boutique property, a member of Preferred Hotel Group, was built as part of Switzerland’s 2002 National Exposition and consists of 40 spacious private bungalows, twenty-six of which are called “Lake Pavilions” and situated lakeside and built directly over Lake Neuchâtel in Romandie, the French-speaking area in western Switzerland. Read more

miramarriodejaneiro

As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?

Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.

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MondrianSoBe1The Morgans Hotel Group, which offers a spate of stylish, upscale properties around the world, is in the midst of some major expansion. The Mondrian London at Sea Containers is set to open September 30, followed by the Mondrian Doha, and the Mondrian Istanbul. The hotel group is also preparing to open their Delano brand in Las Vegas this fall, followed by Cesme, Turkey; Moscow; and Cartagena; then another in Karaköy, Istanbul. With all this new activity in mind, we took a step back to see how their second Mondrian property, in South Beach, Miami, which opened way back in 2008, is holding up.

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Shangri-La Hotel at The ShardWho doesn’t love a new hotel pool, especially when it’s on the 52nd floor of a luxury hotel in one of our favorite cities in the world — London?

The Skypool at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard just opened, and we’re swooning. Not only is it the highest pool in Western Europe, it also offers views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye, and it’s heated.

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omniamelia

The Omni Hotels and Resorts brand launched a 72-hour sale this morning, which means the clock is ticking if you want to take advantage it. Until midnight on Thursday, August 21, the brand’s Labor Day Special is offering rooms for $99, $119, $139, $169, $199, and $229 in select cities for stays from August 24 through September 7. Just in time for a last-minute Labor Day weekend getaway.

Sample rates include $199 at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, which, with its paddle boarding, golfing, island hoppers, and Segways, makes for a great family getaway;  $119 at Omni Rancho Palmas in Palm Springs, and $159 at Omni New Haven at Yale – handy for parents dropping their children off for the start of the school year. To get that attractive $99 rate, you can head south to steamy Texas where, at Omni Fort Worth Hotel, you can cool off in their rooftop pool.

FPO_BUE_403It’s not uncommon for upscale hotels and resorts to offer guests extraordinary excursions and activities, but Four Seasons takes it to a whole new level. From dining center stage at a historic opera house to designing a custom pair of Lucchese boots, here are a few exclusive Four Seasons that we love dreaming about.

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Vienna Austria ParliamentI traveled to Vienna this year to attend the Life Ball, the largest fundraiser for AIDS research in the world. The event is televised on Austrian TV and is notable for the procession of elaborately costumed partygoers walking the red carpet to the ornate City Hall. This year’s event included President Clinton, Ricky Martin, and Conchita Wurst, the Austrian drag queen who won this year’s Eurovision song contest.

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ShelteringSky2We’re into our last few weeks of summer, but before you start dusting off your coats and settling in for the winter, let’s wrap up the season in style with one last go around of all the things that make a New York summer great.

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Four Seasons Gresham PalaceI have been to Budapest several times and, on each visit, I adore staying at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace. In the off-season (winter, or shoulder season in fall or early spring), rates are quite reasonable relative to other 5-star properties in Paris, London, or New York City. (Think $280-$320 per night, compared with $500+.) The Gresham Palace is, in many ways, in a league of its own when it comes to Budapest’s hotel offerings. In fact, it was just named the number three hotel in the world in Travel + Leisure‘s 2014 World Best Awards. The majestic old-world structure was originally designed to be an insurance company before it became a hotel.

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WaldorfPanamaOn August 15, the Panama Canal, which unites the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and is considered a feat of civil engineering, will celebrate its 100th birthday. Many cruise lines are offering centennial itineraries that are scheduled to pass through the 48-mile-long canal, but other travel companies are getting in on the celebrations, too. For its historical value, this package from the Waldorf Astoria is perhaps the most alluring. Read more

CuracaoWillemstedThe latest news from budget-friendly airline JetBlue is that they are beginning service to a new destination this winter. Starting December 2, the airline will fly from New York City to the Caribbean island of Curaçao twice a week, operating one round-trip flight each Tuesday and Saturday, making it the only airline to offer a direct service between New York and Curaçao. This opens up more appealing flight options, flights with Avianca take over 10 hours and require a stop in Bogota, while flights with American Airlines take more than seven hours with a layover in Miami, as well as more attractive fares, December flights with Avianca and American cost $653 and $689, respectively, while you can fly round-trip with JetBlue for less than $400. Read more

JW Guanacaste 7 - 620

Volcanoes and tropical rainforests are all well and good, but to get a taste of Costa Rican culture at its core, head into the countryside. That is, after all, where fiestas and horse parades came to fame. It’s where the only “traffic” might come from a feisty cow that’s strayed from its cattle, with a sabanero (cowboy) hot at its heels — where horseback actually is a popular mode of transportation, and where any local can howl exactly like the ubiquitous monkey clans that rove the trees.

If this sounds like a far-reaching haven, don’t worry. Along the northern Pacific Coast, Guanacaste is easily accessible via Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, serviced by 12 airlines from North America. (JetBlue, for one, flies direct from New York JFK from less than $400 roundtrip.) For an affordably pampering home base, check into JW Marriott Guanacaste. With its spacious rooms and tropical hacienda look — not to mention palatable off-season rates right now — it’s a fine extension of the laid-back, grounded spirit of the region.

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citizenm

At the beginning of the boutique hotel boom, luxury was defined by money; how much of it you had and what it could buy you. But that has long since changed. The emergence of creative “lifestyle” hotels have transformed the industry — as the annual LE Miami trade show in South Beach pointed out — with rising demand in experiences that are unique and culturally connected. These days, rather than high prices, luxury is about authenticity, storytelling, and innovation.

So how does this shift in the very definition of luxury translate to a more authentic, value-driven experience on your next trip? 

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AC-Beach

Atlantic City has long been popular with visitors looking to try their luck at the casinos. But a couple of years ago, hotels like Revel started the non-gaming trend, when it brought Beyoncé in and set a new tone to the gambling destination. Suddenly there were more bars, nightclubs, restaurants by famous chefs, and even an outlet mall. Unfortunately, almost just as quickly as it opened, Revel and two other casinos are facing closure by this summer’s end. The Atlantic Club has already shut its doors, and the Trump Plaza and Showboat are next on the chopping block if a windfall doesn’t come.

Luckily, the fate of Atlantic City doesn’t have to depend on its casinos, and it remains affordable for those who know where to look. Here are your options for both accommodations and entertainment:  Read more

hawaii islands - kauai

Beaches and forests. Hiking and surfing. Volcanoes and luaus. These are some of the delights found all over Hawaii.

But each island is a little different, each famous for its own flavor. Kauai treats visitors to lush landscapes and secluded peace, for example — whereas Oahu is perfect for cramming culture and dining and shopping all in one. To discover which island is best suited to your travel style and interests, take our newest quiz. (Note: You must like ShermansTravel on Facebook in order to see your results.)

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