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One of the things that makes Casa de Campo appealing is that it has everything from nicely-designed rooms that start at $187, villas that start at around $850 and go up from there, and truly extravagant owned properties. This makes it not just a hotel or resort, but a community – granted, a pretty wealthy community. But no matter where you find yourself in that rich and fabulous scale you still get to experience everything the resort’s got going on.
The sugar-baron owners of Casa de Campo started out with sugar cane fields, then added a rum distillery (which produces a very nice sipping rum, Atlantico, which is a crime to hide in a sweet sissy cocktail so make sure to try some straight), then purchased and expanded the hotel in order to house their visiting business colleagues. From there, the Fanjul family started adding things as they saw a need or which friends and guests started asking for.
What that means is that today the resort has a horse ranch, a shooting center, a marina and even a small town. This is, of course, in addition to the family-owned La Romana Airport and a cruise ship port that was recently built. Holy mega wealth.
Although this contributing editor would have been pretty happy simply putt-putting around in her golf cart (one comes with each room and villa) looking at all the lush and lovely scenery, I recognize that this might not be everyone's idea of a trip to the tropics. So in the spirit of sharing, check out what else you can do below.
We already told you about the hip new look down at the Grand Cayman Marriott, and gave you a preview of what to expect at the resort's new-and-improved F&B outlets. But the Brooklyn-goes-to-the-beach vibe of the hotel's new Beach House Experience goes even further, down to some of the amenities they're offering guests.
Hotel bicycles are nothing new, of course, but at the Grand Cayman Marriott, that chariot is an uber-cool Linus Bike, and the rental is included in the daily resort fee. We love the French globetrotter style of these bikes and the idea of riding one around the island is more than a little seductive. Whether you're looking to take in some history, hit the boutiques or simply ride and feel the Caribbean breeze in your hair, the hotel will steer you in the right direction and provide a map so you can find your way home again.
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In case you were thinking that labeling what’s going on over in Macau as Macau Hotel Madness was unnecessary exaggeration, take a look at this: Studio City Macau, to open sometime later this year, will be bringing us the world’s first figure eight ferris wheel, 130 meters up in the air.
That’s right, those two golden circles that sort of look like Olympic rings are in fact a ferris wheel, joining the 1,600 rooms divided between the “Celebrity Tower” and the “Star Tower”. For some real-life photos of what that looks like, keep reading.
You already know it’s easy to pig out at breakfast and phone home from the Hotel Icon in Hong Kong, but those aren’t the only innovative things that this teaching hotel is doing. Friends of friends are falling over themselves about the amenities at the Icon - and during our recent stay, we realised why. So here you go - not 10, but 11 things that make the Icon, well, iconic.
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It may not be raining men, as the song goes, but according to big-brain astronomer types, it is going to be raining meteors this summer. The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is making its debut late July and the Perseid meteor shower is hitting its peak in mid-August, and some hotels are set up for stargazing. Here's where to go to get the best view of the show.
AKA Central Park (above)
The newly-remodeled penthouses at AKA Central Park will give you a glamping experience like no other. The 1,000-square-foot wraparound terraces have an outdoor bedroom with a queen-sized bed, fireplace and a primo telescope meant solely for stargazing (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Rates mid-August start at $395 and the Penthouse Suite starts at $815.
More hotels with star views below!
A little while ago we showed you the ingenious breakfast signs at the Hotel Icon in Hong Kong, which you put on your table to help staff determine whether you’re done or still gorging, while you’re away from the table. Today, let’s look at something even more ingenious: phones with free international calls and internet that sit in every single room.
Yes, a hotel in one country that allows you to phone other countries - landlines and mobiles - for free. And not just from your room, either - you can make those calls from wherever you like in Hong Kong, whether on the harbor front, up Victoria Peak or in the Hello Kitty Cafe. The phone is synced to your room, so if you need to take a call, just tell them to call the hotel and it’ll come straight through. Handy, right? Literally - they're actually made by handy, a new Hong Kong-based smartphone rental company.
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We’re hardly surprised that Virgin Hotels is thinking outside of the box when it comes to in-room amenities. But their latest idea has nothing to do with WiFi or the mini-bar, as this time it’s all about shopping for clothes right from the comfort of your room—thanks to a new partnership with the folks over at Gap.
Utilizing Gap’s "reserve in store" technology, Virgin Hotel guests can shop ‘til they drop over at Gap.com, and they won’t even have to wait—or pay—for shipping. Items will be delivered right to their room in as quickly as three hours, and from there they can try them on, check them out, and decide what they like. It’s kind of like the ultimate dressing room if you think about it.
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If you’re looking for take-out that will complement your fashionable black-tie outfit, The Mark is the place to go to get your pizza-to-go.
The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges has just started offering their gourmet pizzas on a “get it to go” basis, and they enlisted design shop Pandiscio & Co. to come up with a chichi box design that incorporates the hotel’s iconic black-and-white stripe from the lobby floor.
No need to turn the music down to appease the folks in the adjoining room, as one hotel chain is now cranking up the volume to eleven—thanks to some Beats headphones.
Peninsula Hotels are teaming up with Beats by Dre—and we guess Apple too, eh?—to provide guests with access to all kinds of audio technology during their stay. These products are usually available at quite the premium, but overnight guests will be enjoying things during their stay for no additional charge.
Polaroid this: Grace Santorini
Keyless entry. Google Glass. Fancy apps. Things move fast in the world of hotel technology and what seemed fancy a year ago (Glass concierges, anyone?) now feels a little sad.
Which is why one genius hotel chain is taking a step back - really far back. Grace Hotels is starting a Polaroid Program, putting a refurbished Polaroid camera and a free roll of film inside each of its suites this summer. Not staying in a suite? No biggie – each hotel will also have Polaroids at the front desk which you can use for free. All you have to do is buy the film: $20 + tax for an 8-exposure film. Remember when you had to really choose what to snap because you’d have to pay for it?
There’s plenty of good uses for the concierge, but what we’re looking for is something above and beyond. That’s where Four Seasons comes in, as they’re taking the title of concierge and taking it to the next level of fancy.
At Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka‘upulehu on the Big Island of Hawaii the hotel has introduced something they’re calling Oceanfront Concierge Service—um, yes please. Basically the concierge team will be roaming about the beaches and pools in hopes of helping you plan this, that, or the other thing. Between 8am and 5pm you'll get assistance with the typical like dining reservations, but they’re also up for creating customized adventures and all kinds of ocean activities.
When it comes to an authentic New England experience there’s many items to add to your travel to-do list. There are the rocky beaches, the seafood, and of course the preppy clothing.
Cape Cod can help you get your fill of seaside New England, and now one resort is helping you out in the clothing department as well. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club has introduced quite the in-room amenity: Sperry topsiders in select guest rooms.