Tags: Spanish | Pyrenees

Luxe Travel: High Society Retreats in Spain, Florida Keys

Friday, 11 Jul 2008 10:29 AM

By Karen T. Bartlett

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  • Summer Royalty in the Spanish Pyrenees

  • Hemingway Meets Bond in the Florida Keys

  • Chicago: Mommy-and-Me Dress-up Weekend

  • Doing Time in Boston

  • Turkish Delight

    Summer Royalty in the Spanish Pyrenees

    The Spanish Royal Family, among others, loves the glam five-star La Pleta Resort tucked away in Val d’DAran, Baqueira, Spain. The high society retreat in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains is offering its summer guests an eco-chic gourmet weekend with guided excursions to pick their own wild berries, mushrooms, and Catalan escargots, which will be prepared by the master chef for dinner.

    The weekend costs $686 per person plus taxes and service charges. For a royal experience, check out the Occitania Presidential Suite, with its king-size infinity bed with Jacuzzi and uninterrupted mountain views. Press a button and the plasma TV descends from the ceiling. La Pleta is two hours from Spain’s Toulouse Airport. See www.lapleta.com.

    Hemingway Meets Bond in the Florida Keys

    Florida Keys: Fishing, funkiness, and family fun, right?

    Yes, but there’s also opulence, privilege, and supreme privacy. Think Hemingway meets Bond in a private-to-the-max island estate, hidden away in a landscape of bougainvillea and palms. Think chauffeurs and chefs and massage therapists on call.

    Simply meet the application requirements, and a 45-acre, $5 million estate can be yours for a month for just $45,000. Need a yacht? Personal SCUBA instructor? Private lobstering guide? No problem.

    The tour company, Stay in the Florida Keys Vacation Rentals, has exclusive private home listings from Key Largo to Old Town Key West. From Victorian gingerbread houses to multimillion estates, rates range from about $4,500 to $45,000 a month. Weekly rates are also available. Dream-maker Lori Denues can fix you right up at www.stayinthefloridakeys.com.

    Chicago: Mommy-and-Me Dress-up Weekend

    If archery and basket-weaving summer camps just don’t impress your little fashionista-in-training, take her to the Avenue Hotel Chicago this summer for a princess-style dress-up weekend.

    After she munches on her welcome cookies with milk, your girly-girl can dive into her own personal dress-up chest, brimming with runway model pizzazz. Besides the glamorous dresses and skirts, there’s a faux fur stole, feathery fans and tulle scarves, a bridal veil, long white gloves, a gold purse, and jewels galore, suitable for age 3 and up.

    The Dress-up Weekend includes deluxe accommodations and manicures for both of you. Do upgrade to the kid-friendly, rainbow-colored theme room, with amenities like Crayola bath products and toys, a beanbag chair, chalkboard (with dust-free chalk), a color-your-own T-shirt, children’s books, and more.

    Not to miss: A visit to nearby American Girl Place (www.americangirl.com) for shopping, brunch, a souvenir photo, and the last-ever chance to see the American Girl Revue. Dress-up Weekend for Two in the theme room: $429. More at www.avenuehotelchicago.com.

    Doing Time in Boston

    For 120 years, you couldn’t spend a night in this imposing gray granite building unless you broke the law. Now, according to critics, it’s one of the sexiest hotels in America.

    The notorious Charles Street Jail recently has been reborn as the posh and classy Liberty Hotel, at the foot of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill.

    Built in 1851, complete with a 90-foot central rotunda and cupola, a basement “drunk tank” and, of course, brick-and-iron cellblocks, it now reflects all the glamour that a $150 million restoration can provide.

    The drunk tank is now — what else? — a bar. The lobby design features vestiges of the original cells, and room service is called “solitary dining.”

    Be sure to request one of the 18 guest rooms in the original jailhouse. (Best: The Ultra Fantastic Suite, about $400 in summer.) The other 280 guest rooms are in the adjacent Big House, a 16-story tower, including the $5,500-a-night Presidential Suite.

    Now, wouldn’t the former inmates get a (pardon the expression) "charge" out of the pale rose and taupe interiors, complimentary shoe shines, down comforters, and chocolates at lockdown, that is, turndown? Get booked at www.libertyhotel.com.

    Turkish Delight

    The folks at Marmara Antalya Hotel aren’t exaggerating when they promise the best view in the house from every room. Perched on the majestic Falez Cliffs of Turkey's southern coast, it’s the world’s first revolving hotel.

    At the Marmara Antalya, each of its 24 loft rooms showcases ever-changing 360-degree panoramic views of the turquoise-blue Mediterranean, the Antalyan coastline and the snow-capped Taurus Mountains. Yes, even from your bathtub.

    And there’s more. Guests access the beach via a 230-foot stalactite-lined tunnel. The Marmara Spa features traditional Turkish treatments. And there’s a 975-foot man-made river with — I’m not kidding — adjustable wave heights.

    Room décor at the Marmara Antalya is seaside-whimsical, by French designer Christian Alart.

    The nightly tariff: A disarmingly affordable $350. The experience: Priceless. Enjoy the views at www.themarmarahotels.com.

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