By William Tomicki
I love the new striped silk draperies and cozy velvet sofas around the big fireplaces in the luxurious-but-intimate common room and dining room at Cal-a-Vie, one of America’s best spas. Not content to rest on their laurels, Cal-a-Vie is adding a state-of-the-art 16,000-square-foot health and fitness center. How much better can spa life get? You can reach this “ultimate spa” at (866) Spa Havens or visit www.Cal-a-Vie.com.
A stay at Ariau Amazon Towers in the Amazon Rainforest is like living in a tree fort soaring high above the rainforest floor. Six treetop towers containing 250 sumptuous guestrooms and suites are connected by catwalks thirty-feet above the ground. Located thirty-five-miles northwest of Manaus, Brazil on the bank of the Negro River at the beginning of the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, Ariau has jungle trekking, alligator spotting, fishing, and river cruises. Rates begin at $312 a night and include all regular meals, regional riverboat shuttle, all excursions, and an English-speaking guide. Contact (877) 44-ARIAU or visit visit www.ariautowers.com.
To cater to the growing number of travelers sporting Western boots, the butlers at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston have been trained as specialists in polishing high-end cowboy boots. Boot-lovers at this posh hotel can now receive tips on at-home cleaning, an appointment with Houston’s acclaimed bootmaker, Rocky Carroll, and for a price, a room with a pair of boots. Their “Bed and Boots” package comes with one night’s accommodation, an in-room consult with Mr. Carroll and a pair of his handcrafted $950 boots, all for just $1225. For more information, call (713) 840-1377.
Expect a significant increase in travelers using luggage-free travel services over the next few months. LuggageExpress and VirtualBellhop note a marked increase in the number of inquiries regarding their services. Travel is going through the strictest security regimen in history and now each and every piece of baggage that goes on a plane is examined. Many travelers will avoid the looming baggage inspection, screening, and long lines by using LuggageExpress and VirtualBellhop services and flying luggage-free. Both companies will pick up baggage at your home and deliver it to the final destination. Users of the service avoid lines at the airport to get luggage checked in or queue at the carousel upon arrival. The baggage flies on a separate independent flight and is in the hotel room when you check in. Visit www.usxpluggageexpress.com and www.virtualbellhop.com.
The Lodge at Paratiho Farms is gently located on New Zealand’s South Island between the Tasman Bay and the Tasman Mountains on a 2000-acre sheep farm. This gracious sanctuary was built by a wise American couple, Robert and Sally Hunt, who shared a bold vision of creating an idyllic property full of comfort, seclusion, elegance, and indulgence. Paratiho is Maori for “paradise” and that’s just what a visitor can expect: Asian antiques, Persian rugs, a caring staff, and a powerful contemporary art collection.
The entire property consists of a main lodge and three very private two-suite cottages. Interiors are warm and theatrical with lacquered walls, mood lighting, underfloor heating, imported linens, fireplaces, and huge bathrooms with walled gardens. There is a health and beauty spa, swimming pool, tennis court, golf putting green, gym, and lovely walking areas. Excellent fishing, art galleries, and bird watching is also close by. The Abel Tasman National Park, world-renowned for its beauty, is just a forty-minute drive from the Lodge. Best of all, an exciting new menu is created each day for guests using only the freshest items New Zealand offers. Go any time of year—Nelson gets more sun than any other place in New Zealand. Rates start at $900 a night here, all-inclusive. Visit www.paratiho.co.nz.