Tags: Port | Wine | in | Portugal

Luxe Travel: Port Wine in Portugal, Sensuous Retreat in New Zealand

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2008 09:10 AM

By Karen T. Bartlett

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New Zealand Honeymoon? Think Eagle's Nest

Ladies Only in Oslo

Explore the Port in Portugal

Luxury Leaf-Peeping in Connecticut

Sultry St. Lucia


New Zealand Honeymoon? Think Eagle's Nest

Imagine succulent cuisine, world class New Zealand wine, and sumptuous villas with private infinity pools tucked into 75 acres between the sacred bushlands and extremely private beaches of Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

A three-hour drive from Auckland, yet a million miles away, this sexy, sensuous destination languishes just a stroll from the tiny historic town of Russell, where New Zealand was born.

The private four-bedroom house, Sacred Space, is the heart of the resort. The best room in the house is the top-floor, glass-ceiling Kingfisher Suite: all antiques, designer linens, and original art, an outdoor shower, decks, and superb 360-degree views.

Simple elegance is the byword here in one of the world's great big-game fishing spots, where healing spirits are believed to live.

Spend your time walking in the bush, whale and dolphin watching, scuba and sky diving, and luxuriating in holistic body therapies while your personal chef and butler (priced extra) do the work. The house, including transfers, arrival champagne, maid service and more, just under $4,000 per night. More at www.eaglesnest.co.nz.

Ladies Only in Oslo

Yes, the palatial Grand Hotel was a favorite of playwright Henrik Ibsen, and it has been frequented by heads of state and a collection of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Still, nothing will make a female traveler swoon like the Ladies Floor of this massive, circa 1874 Louis XVI-style building that dominates Oslo's main street.

Each of its 13 rooms has been designed by a prominent Norwegian woman, among them film stars, painters, authors, songwriters, wealthy entrepreneurs, and fashion designers. One is even an Olympic gold medalist.

Each room is scrumptiously unique, from the cool but passionate icicle-silver, snow-white and red-velvet "Snowprincess Room" of Olympic skier Kari Traa to the sherbet-hued "Colour Kingdom" of jazz musician Silje Nergaard.

One may choose, according to her mood, the sleek, romantic elegance of "1001 Nights" by Bertine Zetlitz, or the warm, holistic Lap-inspired "Arctic Room" of Sami musician Mari Boine, reindeer fur throws and all.

The daily rate is a surprisingly modest $556 per night, compared with the $1,500 to $2,200 daily rate for the Grand Suites no doubt favored by Nobel laureates and royalty.

Ladies also get fruit on arrival and the somewhat mysteriously identified "female amenities." A stroll away is the Nobel Peace Centre and the National Theatre. Take a peak at www.ladiesfloor.no.

Explore the Port in Portugal

You can't call it sparking wine champagne if it didn't come from the Champagne region of France, and you can't call just any dessert wine port if it didn't come from Portugal. Specifically, the small towns of Pinhao and Barca d'Alva in the Douro River Valley.

I suggest you explore the epicenter of the port region and its famously sweet, fortified wine via the intimate floating hotel, the Douro Queen. You'll be wined and dined on board and in intoxicating Portuguese settings. You'll feast at a 14th century Benedictine monastery, a rustic pousada, and an 18th century mansion.

The cruise starts with two nights in Spain, so you'll also dine on traditional paella with Sangria in the romantic medieval city of Salamanca. The cruise company is Uniworld, selected by Conde Nast Traveler among the world's top small cruise lines this year.

Eleven-day departures through Oct. 30. Upper deck stateroom runs $3,000 per person. Details at www.uniworld.com.

Luxury Leaf-Peeping in Connecticut

Five Stars, Five Diamonds, and a hundred million crimson autumn leaves lure foliage-lovers, inn-lovers, spa-lovers, and just plain lovers to Connecticut's Mayflower Inn each fall. The quintessential New England inn at its most gracious, the Mayflower is set on 58 acres of centuries-old landscape in Washington, about a two-hour drive from New York City.

You expect, of course, the four-poster beds with feather-top mattresses and Frette linens, the fireplaces and elegant antiques — and they're all there. What you might not expect are the breathtaking kayaking along the Shepaug River; unlimited access to the hiking trail of the adjacent Steep Rock Reserve; or the sophisticated new destination spa featuring soul-reviving rituals and body-renewing treatments.

Don't wait to book your autumn foliage-peeping escape. The pages of the calendar are falling like maple leaves. There are 30 rooms, including four equally luscious suites. The October weekend rate for a suite is $4,500. Other rooms start around $500. See more at www.mayflowerinn.com.

Sultry St. Lucia

Cap Maison, a stunning, four-acre, cliff-top boutique hotel on the lush, volcanic Caribbean island of St. Lucia, just opened. Rooftop terraces, full professional kitchens, outdoor showers, private pools, and personal butler service are standard in its 50 artfully appointed suites.

The 3,000 square-foot Oceanview Villa Suite, with heart-palpitating views from its roof terrace, is just $895 a night through Sept. 30.

The hotel's opulent and private 46-foot yacht can be chartered for private sunset sails or overnight excursions within the Windward Islands. A romantic overnight sail to the Grenadines or Dominica and Martinique, including crew, meals, taxes and service charges, is $3,000. And oh, why not? Book a couples massage ($240) on board or after in the Cap Maison Spa. Go to www.capmaison.com.

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