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Luxe Travel: Chicago Diamonds, Orlando Bling, Swiss Gems, More

Tuesday, 18 Mar 2008 02:41 PM

By Karen T. Bartlett

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Whatever happened to the luxury suite, Frette linens, and a nice Godiva chocolate on the pillow?

Well, it’s a start, but for ever-more discriminating travelers, the new breed of hospitality-savvy marketers prove that a room with a view just isn’t enough. They want a room on the rocks — diamonds will do just fine.

Windy City Diamonds, Custom Swiss Time

When a guest books a Proposal Dinner at Chicago’s James Hotel, acclaimed chef David Burke of davidburke & donatella prepares the $60,000 meal himself and a quartet from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra serenades. So say insiders at luxurytravel360.com.

Oh, and a 1.5 carat Van Cleef & Arpels diamond comes “at no extra charge.” Check out www.jameshotels.com.

She has her ring — now for his watch. After dinner, fly to Switzerland for a night or two at the Art Deco Hotel Montana overlooking Lake Lucerne. In the words of novelist Alexandre Dumas, “Lucerne is a pearl in the world’s most beautiful oyster.”

But we’re talking diamonds and gems here. At the circa 1910 grande dame, you can get your own personal watchmaker to create a one-of-a-kind Swiss timepiece. Plan to bring at least $15,000.

More, of course, if you want it encrusted with jewels. Details at Small Luxury Hotels of the World, at www.slh.com.

Quintessential Swiss Jewel

Relais & Chateaux calls its Lucerne member, the Park Hotel Weggis, the jewel of Lake Lucerne, and the three-night romance package sparkles.

Your stunning Adara Junior Suite, with its designer fabrics and furnishings, comes with a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne and sumptuous amuse-bouches, a five-course gourmet dinner one night and a romantic six-course "tête-à-tête" wine cellar dinner the next.

Plus there’s caviar aperitifs, Thai massage and three hours’ private use of the spa cottage, Mount Rigi Royal and Fassbind Distillery tour, and a luxury car return transfer to Zurich.

Swiss done sensuous runs about $3,500. More at www.weggisparkhotel.com.

Orlando Bling

The Peabody Orlando Hotel’s AAA Four Diamonds rating almost pales in comparison to its new “Will You Be Forever Mine?” proposal package designed for young (and well-to-do) lovers, which kicked off this month.

Besides a luxurious two-bedroom suite (optional), limo transfers and a gourmet five-course dinner, he’ll propose in a poolside cabana which has been transformed into a movie-set oasis, complete with gauzy fabrics, candles, flowers, and fragrance. Oh, and a personal butler, a strolling violinist and a bottle of Cristal Champagne.

The custom-designed diamond will be nestled on a bed of marzipan roses in its gold-infused chocolate ring box.

Most extravagant package: $30,000 ring plus hotel costs: $37,900. Get it at www.peabodyorlando.com.

Jewel of the Lotus

Spiritual seekers can forgo the material for a more meaningful jewel this October, when the Upaya Institute and Zen Center of Santa Fe, New Mexico leads an intimate journey deep into the heartland of the Himalayas to witness the Mani Rimdu festival, one of the most colorful and important celebrations on the Tibetan Buddhist calendar.

Mani Rimdu honors spiritual leader Guru Rinpoche, legendarily born of a lotus in the center of a lake. The sacred prayer-chant, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” may be translated in English as “hail to the jewel of the lotus.”

The excursion includes trekking, yoga, and meditation. Cost per person is $4,100 plus airfare. Get started at www.upaya.org.

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