Shermanstravel Blog

Smart Luxury

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Autumn in the Southeast is a glorious time to visit as summer’s humidity dies down to make way for cooler days. And there is nowhere more posh than Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a former private retreat turned tony hotel on its namesake barrier island off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, midway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia.

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Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?

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Bucket lists are all well and good, but what about a getaway that’s truly off the beaten path? Take our quiz to find your perfect paradise. You might just discover that your ultimate vacation is in a place that you’ve never even heard of.

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In these days of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, travel that highlights the local experience is becoming more attractive. Traditional travel companies need to compete; this is how some hotels are doing just that.

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Casa Pueblo, Punta del Este, Uruguay, architecture

Lots of hotels have impressive art collections, but these ones go a step further and function as stand-alone museums as well as accommodations.

Benesse House, Japan
The Tadao Ando-designed Benesse House is located on the tiny Japanese island of Naoshima, a fishing community turned “art island” that hosts the Setouchi Art Triennal and is home to several permanent art installations and excellent museums. Guests of the Benesse House are granted access to the museum even after typical hours and have exclusive access to a six-seat monorail that runs up to the hotel’s Oval annex. Guest rooms in the museum are available in four styles and are decorated with drawings, paintings, and prints from the artists on exhibit. Rates start at $330.

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PalazzoVictoria

Salviatino Collection’s five-star resort, Palazzo Victoria, invites guests to check into its chic Verona accommodations by offering a 25 percent discount off the best available rates, now through March 31, 2015.

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You know you can ask the concierge to arrange a jeep tour or recommend a local restaurant. But did you know they’ll also hunt down the perfect souvenir or replace those dress slacks you forgot to pack while you lounge by the pool?

Most concierges want to do whatever it takes to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The best part is that the concierge’s time and expertise is usually complimentary, though you’ll of course be charged for items and services purchased on your behalf. Gratuities aren’t mandatory but are always appreciated (a simple thank you in person or a sincere email when you return home go a long way, too).

Here, some surprising requests that you can ask of your concierge:

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Hakkasan Beverly HillsWhen you’re on vacation, the restaurants where you choose to dine can be as much a part of your experience as your hotel, or the sites you visit. If you’re heading to Los Angeles’s Beverly Hills neighborhood and want to splurge on a meal that truly suits the neighborhood’s ambiance, try the local outpost of Hakkasan. With locations in such far-flung locations as Dubai, Mumbai, and Las Vegas, the restaurants are known as much for their low-lit, dark-wood interiors and chichi clientele as for high-end Chinese cuisine.

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BOGEKHotel

Open since October of 2013, EK Hotel is a modern boutique hotel in one of Bogotá’s ritziest neighborhoods. Within a few minutes’ walk, you’ll find restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping; especially centered around Calle 85, the T-Zone neighborhood, and the tree-lined plaza called Parque 93. Even closer, there are a few restaurants that share a plaza with the hotel, such as the newly opened Black Bear, recommended for its raw bar, sharing plates, and craft cocktails. However, with the on-site Cafe Bar Lounge serving all day, you don’t need to leave the hotel for a meal or drink.

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Avalon Hotel Beverly HillsNew York City’s annual Hotel Week started in 2011 with a simple premise: Offer great hotels for $100, $200, or $300 per night — in many cases, a substantial savings off typical rates. It’ll be happening again this year in January, but, before that, Los Angeles travelers will get their own opportunity to save on some excellent hotels.

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Sunset MarquisWho doesn’t love looking at photos of beautiful hotels? OK, maybe lots of people don’t, but our travel-addicted selves definitely do. Case in point, we’re loving these new shots of the remodeled Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. This classic hotel is known as a haven for celebs — especially musicians. (Harry Connick Jr. met his wife by the pool. Dave Grohl met his by the bar.)

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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

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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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