At the Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills, head bartender Allen Allam will teach you secrets of the Japanese hard-shake method for mixing bespoke cocktails. During an hour-long class in the lustrous bar lounge, learn the recipe for such signature drinks as Dragon's Fire and Monroe's Passion, a potent fusion of ginger juice, fresh passion fruit puree, Thai chili syrup and Barcardi 151 rum. (Actress Marilyn Monroe was a regular at the Bel-Air.) Other tricks of the bar trade are also revealed. Allam demonstrates techniques for stirring and garnish cutting, as well as how to employ essential barware like slow-frozen Clinebell ice, stainless steel muddlers and gold-plated strainers. Beverage director Rob Harpest provides colorful cocktail history commentary as Allam pours. Afterwards, slip into one of the lounge's banquettes under larger-than-life celebrity portraits to further your liquid research. From $100 per person, minimum six per class, 14-day advance reservation required.
Heed the warnings. If the hotel informed you of resort fees and the like, you share some of the blame.
Play up your loyalty. Point out that you are a member of the hotel’s program, or a repeat customer.
Accept responsibility for fees buried in fine print. They should be clearly presented to guests.
Be afraid to stand your ground. If the front desk can’t help, ask for the general manager or guest services director.
Returning to the scene of his salad days, Peter J. Frank encounters a more mature Miami.
I spent my teenage years in South Beach before it became “South Beach”—dancing at roving parties in run-down hotel ballrooms; shooting late-night pool with drag queens at dive bars; scarfing Cuban sandwiches on the sand at sunrise. I mellowed—eventually—but Miami seemed to prolong its adolescence. While the clubs grew slicker and the hotels more expensive, partying remained the point.
The 2008 recession was a wake-up-grow-up call, and in the years since, the city has become more urbane and (dare I say it?) dignified, with a Frank Gehry–designed symphony hall and, of course, Art Basel. A wave of new hotels has rolled in, and more are on the way. But what does it mean to be a grown-up hotel in South Beach?
In honor of Valentine's Day, Vacationist, T+L's flash-sale site, is offering an extra 10% off all travel deals, starting at 6 a.m. PST to 12 midnight PST. Where to whisk away your plus one? Choose from the following hotels, or go to Vacationist for more:
• The landmark JW Marriott Essex House, across from New York City's Central Park
• The new Lumeria Maui, for secluded beaches on the island's western shore
• Club Med Columbus Isle, on a quiet island in the Bahamas
• Pavilions Phuket, with 48 standalone villas above the Andaman Sea
• South Africa's Sanbona Wildlife Preserve, a luxury tented camp three hours west of Cape Town
It's free to join. Book now!
Photo by courtesy of Four Seasons Maui
How many flowers does it take to say I love you? Renaissance Hotels thinks 27,000 should do the trick. That’s the number of multicolored blossoms bedecking the $15,000-a-night Valentine’s Day suites, which are available for the remainder of February at any of their worldwide properties. Upon booking, almost every inch of a room's interior becomes awash in a mélange of brightly-hued petals, from the bed to the walls to the nightstand.
If you can’t stomach parting with enough cash to buy a new car for a one-night stay, Renaissance is offering romance packages for the big weekend at a more palatable rate ($299.) Breakfast, cocktails, and candles are included, along with a designer floral arrangement. A conventional bouquet of roses will just have to suffice.
Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Renaissance Hotels
We always like to hear about spa treatments that are a little different, like reiki on horseback, or getting tapped with wooden pegs. The spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills offers some interesting treatments, too, like a Biomeditation Therapy meant to remove energy blockages. And for Valentine's Day, they're introducing another.
Their couples' Spellbound Massage, available only February 14–17, uses products containing pheromones—those naturally occurring chemicals that are elemental in occurrences of natural "chemistry."
It's $175–$250 for the 60- or 90-minute versions; on V-Day itself you and your partner can even opt to have the treatment in a "Valentine Suite" decked out with (what else?) candles, rose petals, soft music, and chocolate truffles.
From the spa it's just a few steps to the hotel's fantastic restaurant, Culina, Modern Italian for the special four-course menu ($85 per person) featuring oysters and lobster. (Look for Larry Flint—he's a regular). And from there, of course, you're just steps away from the spacious rooms upstairs overlooking the City of Angels.
Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Los Angeles
New evidence suggests dental tourism is skyrocketing, with a now estimated one million people traveling outside their home country for affordable dental treatments and enhancements. According to medical travel resource Patients Without Borders, most tooth tourists are from the U.S., with Europe a close second—with the majority seeking implants, crowns, root canals, and smile makeovers.
And while Hungary, Poland, Thailand, India, and Singapore are fast emerging as top spots for dental work, some are traveling to the U.S. for treatments. Call it Reverse Dental Tourism. And it makes sense, given Americans' worldwide reputation for flaunting mouthfuls of pearly whites. But these aren't your average bargain-hunting snaggle-toothed tourists.
Dr. Michael Apa, a partner in New York-based Rosenthal-Apa Group and pioneer in Facial Aesthetic Design, is one of the world's top cosmetic dentists. Beyond catering to celebrities such as Matt Dillon, Chloë Sevigny, and the Trumps, he also services many of the Middle East's royal families, who pay upwards of $30,000 for his mouth makeovers—and who decamp to New York City for weeks at a time. As a result, Dr. Apa not only helps people looks years younger with porcelain veneers and facial asymmetry adjustments, but his practice also acts as de facto concierge and travel advisor. He was recently honored with a Five-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Science for being "One of the Finest Dentists Worldwide." Travel + Leisure recently caught up with the doctor in NYC:
I am a hotel nerd. At the start of each year, I scan the next 12 months for openings to obsess over. Here, five newcomers that have me at the edge of my seat.
I’ve found a new way to play out my Wild West fantasy. Set on 1,600 acres deep in the Colorado Rockies, Cresto Ranch (pictured) opens in June with a main lodge in a restored 19th-century farmhouse and eight safari-style tents, all with en-suite bathrooms, gas stoves, enormous beds, and—color me happy—private porches where you can daydream while gazing out at the vast wilderness. The retreat is four miles down the Dolores River from sister property Dunton Hot Springs, a luxury pioneer in the Rockies. (And yes! Cresto guests can pop over to Dunton for a dip).
Anthony Melchiorri has come a long way since working as the director of front office operations for New York's iconic Plaza Hotel. Now, more than 20 years and a fair share of hotel management jobs later, the Brooklyn-born hospitality expert has taken on the role of "hotel fixer" for the Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible. And After Anthony, a one-hour special looking back on Season One, airs February 4 at 10 p.m.Here, Melchiorri reflects on the properties he visited, describes his perfect hotel room, and more.
The symptoms were reaching dangerous levels. After being cooped up with our twin three-year-old boys in a 900-square-foot NYC apartment in the dead of winter, my husband and I had a serious case of co-op-cabin fever. The cure: Get out of dodge—and burn off some energy—as quickly as possible. My only prerequisite: BRING A FULLY CHARGED iPAD WITH US IN CASE OF A MELTDOWN.