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The perfect location (on one of the island’s prettiest beaches), villa-style accommodations, and fantastic French-Caribbean fare make La Samanna St. Martin’s leading luxury hotel. White-washed Mediterranean villas perched above Baie Longue feature 83 newly renovated rooms and suites (since November 2011), complete with white travertine floors, marble bathrooms, shabby-chic furnishings, and oceanview balconies or terraces. The best suites come with their own private plunge pool or terrace with jacuzzi. A clubby colonial bar, impressive wine cellar, pool deck, and small spa round out the offerings. If you still need selling, a meal at Le Reserve is bound to dazzle. Alfresco seating on the oceanfront deck, bites of lobster ravioli, and a bottle of crisp Sancerre easily won me over. Rates are steep, starting at $845/night, but the resort’s More Paradise offer includes breakfast and $100 resort credit daily in peak winter season. www.lasamanna.com
For general trip-planning info, see our St. Martin Travel Guide.
To really get a proper taste of Languedoc, France, we recommend taking the scenic route (outlined below) which will let you explore several corners of the lesser-known wine region in the South of France. Rent a car, get a good map, and enjoy the ride through gorgeous countryside, hilltop villages abutting the Pyrenees Mountains, and seaside hamlets. (Just be sure to schedule your wine tastings before an overnight at one of the choice hotels mentioned below!) Before you go, check out this round-up of fabulous Languedoc wines available in the U.S. Read more
Out of all the dreamy spots visited on our recent Amalfi Coast escapade, Amalfi’s “city center” and its nearby Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi were highlights. The coastal town has a compact little village (aka the city center) tucked behind the port, while the hillside Grand Hotel Convento, a centuries-old convent turned hotel, sits high above the sea overlooking the coast, its three jetties, and the winding, cliff-hugging road below. Read more
When it comes to all-inclusive Caribbean getaways, there are plenty of options – and mediocre experiences. Discerning travelers staying at the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, a couples-only retreat on Dickenson Bay, have a few things going for them, like access to the isle’s longest stretch of white-sand beach.
Located just 15 minutes from the V.C. Bird International Airport, the 373-room resort is split into two parts: The lush Caribbean Grove and the European-inspired Mediterranean Village. Built in 2007, the Mediterranean section has some of the resort’s best perks, including the largest pool in the eastern Caribbean – complete with private cabanas decked out with misting machines and personal attendants ($99 per day) – and a suite of new plunge pool villas overseen by English-trained butlers.
Punta Tragara sits high on the rocky cliffs of Capri across from the Faraglioni Sea Stacks, about a 10-minute walk from Capri Town. The splashy 44-room villa-cum-boutique hotel has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Eisenhower, Churchill, and, more recently, Jonathan Adler and Trina Turk. I checked in a few weeks ago and am happy to report that our few nights here were a highlight of our Amalfi trip. Read more
The sprawling Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, has certainly seen its share of change. Given the resort’s age – the place has been around since 1778, when the American Revolutionary War was still raging – you’d expect the storied hotel to have some curious lore. Tidbits like the fact that it served as a military hospital during World War II, that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor often slumbered here – or that the 710-room retreat was once home base for a hush-hush government bunker until a Washington Post journalist uncovered its covert coordinates in 1992.
In 2009, the resort made history of another kind, when it filed for bankruptcy. It was a pivotal moment for the glorious Allegheny Mountain hideaway, which had hosted generations of families and American presidents (26 of them) alike. For local coal baron, Jim Justice, it was a new beginning – both for him and the hotel.
This spring I found myself in Manila, perhaps an unlikely choice for a city vacation, but the obvious first stop if your ultimate goal is to loll on any of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands, as mine was. Most visitors to Manila spend a layover night at the better-known chain and luxury hotels in the Makati commercial/financial district, but I opted for the city’s grande dame, the Manila Hotel. It sits on Manila Bay across from Intramuros, the 158-acre walled settlement the Spanish built in 1571, and Rizal Park, named for José Rizal, the national hero the Spanish then executed by firing squad in 1896. Overlooking both, the hotel is testament to the end of Spanish occupation two years later, and the start of American influence in this part of the Pacific. It’s also a pretty comfy place. Read more
Most visitors to Buenos Aires know the Río de la Plata as the widest river in the world, reaching 136 miles across. But by the Dársena Norte in Puerto Madero, it’s only 14 miles – or 75 minutes by Buquebus ferry – to the Uruguayan coast, making it perfect for a day trip or multi-day excursion.
So consider now the ease of visiting the Four Season Resort Carmelo, just two hours by car from the Uruguayan port town of Colonia del Sacramento (you can also condense the trip to less than 25 minutes by flying from Buenos Aires to Carmelo by private plane). Set along the banks of the Río Uruguay in a eucalyptus and pine forest, the 110-acre resort is a haven for weekending Argentinians, who make up three-quarters of its guests. As a result of these particular demographics, you’ll find the lowest rates of any Four Seasons resort in the world, starting at $240 per night, but as low as $180 for three-night stays. Read more
From the rooftop of the new Rosewood San Miguel del Allende, we could see clear across the city. It was springtime and the flowering Jacaranda trees punctuated the rows of colorful colonial villas and cobblestone streets. The neo-Gothic Parroquia de San Miguel with its pink spires and sandstone facade rose above the city like a mythical beacon and accented the sky’s dusty pink hues as the sun set behind it. It’s no wonder San Miguel de Allende is such an arts community. It’s beauty and relaxed pace is inspiring, and I sat there thinking how easy it would be to fill a blank canvas with this view: purple puffs of paint for the Jacarandas, yellows and reds for the haciendas, blue accents for the doors, window frames, and quickly turning sky. From this perch, we sat evening after evening, sipping fresh tamarind margaritas, snacking on warm tortilla chips, chatting with our waiter-friend – all the while watching the sun disappear behind Central Mexico’s oldest town. Read more
Don’t let the Mill Street Inn’s National Register of Historic Places status fool you – the hotel’s interiors are completely modern, with spacious suites and marble bathrooms, along with amenities like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Even the word “inn” is a bit of a misnomer, given that the 23-unit, all-suite property lacks any of the quaintness you’d find at a traditional New England bed-and-breakfast.
On the other hand, Mill Street Inn is a proper B&B with a generous breakfast spread – in the warmer months, it’s hosted on the inn’s gorgeous rooftop – with gourmet coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, a half-dozen cereal choices, yogurts, fresh fruit, and even homemade smoothies.
For a small rooftop terrace of your own, book one of the townhouse suites (shown above). These 2nd/3rd-floor duplex units sport comfortable sitting areas downstairs and king-sized feather beds on the upper level. All suites can sleep up to four people.
The inn offers free parking in a small adjacent lot and underground garage. Note there is no elevator, so request a ground-floor room if stairs are an issue. Rooms start at $225/night in the summer months, but spike sharply on weekends. www.millstreetinn.com
For general trip-planning information, see our Rhode Island Travel Guide.
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