Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tokyo Keio Plaza Hotel Celebrates Porcelain Art

Among the wide range of Japanese porcelain types out there, the Arita/Imari style is notable for being one of the more flowery styles. It was first produced in the town of Arita in the 17th century and is best recognized by the white porcelain with colorful nature motifs on it. In celebration of the 400 years that the style has existed, the Keio Plaza Hotel located in Tokyo has decided to host a number of special treats lasting from July 1 to August 7.

Held in the lobby of the hotel, the annual Arita Porcelain Fair will enjoy its 36th iteration this year. For this year, a giant “Porcelain Tree” sculpture (9.5 meters long and 3 meters wide) will be installed there alongside the work of three prominent Arita artists. Among these three artists – Inoue Manji, Imaizumi Imaemon, and Sakaida Kakiemon – two hold the title of the special ‘National Living Treasure’ certification. Their work represents the best in the craft through their willingness to mix time-tested porcelain techniques with a contemporary sense of innovation.

At the same time, 10 of the restaurants at the hotel will be offering a selection of special menus served in Arita/Imari porcelain. From there they’ll be able to see how the beautifully arranged food plays off the designs on the porcelain. The menus range from a Japanese lunch set (priced at 4,200 yen) to a full Tempura course (priced at 18,000 yen).

If you’re interested in finding out more about the traditions of Arita/Imari porcelain, you can check out the full scope of events over at the Keio Plaza Hotel website.

Unique Suites at Hotel Pitrizza, Sardinia

Overlooking the crystal-clear azure waters of Sardinia, Hotel Pitrizza (a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel) sits in its own cozy corner of Costa Smeralda in a setting of untouched natural splendor. The hotel isn’t new and our focus here is on something called the Unique Suites, which were recently completed. These suites are so-named because no two are identical of course.

 

The suites are designed to blend harmoniously into the surroundings. Keeping the traditional Sardinian style in mind, Hotel Pitrizza used local materials such as wood and granite for a rustic charm. Inside, each suite features a stunning bedroom, with a spacious bathroom, living room, dining area and terrace, all boasting breath-taking views of clear skies, white sandy beaches and aquamarine waters.

 

Hotel Pitrizza also romances with its uncompromising 5-star services. Amenities such as your own private solarium and seawater pool, and 24-hour butler service make the posh seafront hotel your refuge away from home. Starwood Preferred Guests should take note that their privileges definitely come into play here.

 

While you’re there, check out the vibrant Costa Smeralda Season, which kicks off in May with the Porto Cervo Wine & Wine Festival. The extravaganza, which runs through to the end of September, focuses on the best Italian wine and food, with traditional gala dinners and glamorous concerts at the Cala di Volpe attracting international music stars the likes of Elton John and Robbie Williams.

Waldorf Astoria New York Turns Condo in 3 Years

Known worldwide even to those who have never set foot in New York City, the Waldorf Astoria New York is a properly legendary hotel. It introduced the now-common door-to-door room service, invented the Waldorf salad and eggs benedict, and was officially crowned as a New York City landmark in 1993 (a long-overdue honor in our opinion). In 2017, the iconic building will close its doors for an extensive refit so that it can add luxury condominium to its resume by 2020, according to the AFP. Honestly, we are not sure what to think about this news.

Acquired by Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese insurance company, for a grand $1.95 billion (making it the most expensive hotel sale in the world), the current hotel will undergo three years of renovation and reopen as a residential property. Envisioned to take up a full city block in Manhattan, just as the current building does, the majority of its 1,413 rooms will see themselves transformed into residential property, while a select 300 to 500 rooms will remain as hotel accommodations. This is a heritage building, being an official New York city landmark, so we are not sure how this renovation will actually be accomplished.

 

In its 123 years of operation, the Waldorf Astoria New York has seen some of the most illustrious people pass through its doors – Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and US President Dwight Eisenhower are just a few of its esteemed guests. President Herbert Hoover made it his residence for 30 years after his retirement. The building has also played starring roles in Hollywood, including Godfather III and The Royal Tenenbaums. While the closure of the hotel marks a remarkable end of a chapter, another one is in the process of writing itself in the history books.

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report and a Wall Street Journal story.

Most Beautiful Island in the World Revealed

Not all islands are created equal, it seems. This year, Maui edges out thousands of the planet’s other islands to claim top spot on TripAdvisor’s annual list. An island in the mid-Pacific and part of the Hawaiian island chain, Maui is beyond paradise with its stunning azure waters and stretches of powder-white sand.

TripAdvisor determines its award winners based on an algorithm that takes into account the traffic and quality of reviews and ratings for the attractions, restaurants and hotels there throughout the year. This year’s award winners are largely contenders in Europe, the Caribbean and Asia.

This year, Santorini clinches top spot for most beautiful island in Europe while Jamaica and Bali top the category in the Caribbean and Asia respectively. Here, we bring you the rest that made the list, with some accommodation ideas that will have you booking that long-awaited holiday, pronto.

Warning: these images will give you serious vacation envy.

 

TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Islands:

1) Maui, Hawaii

2) Santorini, Greece

3) Jamaica

4) Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

5) Bali, Indonesia

6) Majorca, Spain

7) Mauritius

8) Phuket, Thailand

9) Bora Bora, French Polynesia

10) Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

 

Montage Kapalua Bay, Maui

 

This sprawling 24-acre beach-front hotel is set atop the picturesque Kapalua Bay, with sweeping views of Maui’s northwest coast and neighboring islands. The resort’s many activities range from spectacular helicopter tours of the island to lounging by the Kapalua Beach so there’s something for everyone. Each of the subdued residential-style accommodations feature contemporary island-inspired décor, complete with private lanais so you can experience the spirit of aloha in true luxury.

 

Andronis Luxury Suites, Santorini, Greece

 

Nestled within the jigsaw of houses in Oia, Andronis Luxury Suites boasts an unrivalled view of the Aegean Sea and volcanic islets of Santorini. Inside, the Cycladic-style villa promises unrivalled luxury, with amenities ranging from private waterfalls to a heated infinity pool with incredible views of the Caldera.

Uma by COMO, Ubud, Bali

 

Surrounded by Tjampuhan Valley’s lush greenery, Uma by COMO exudes the charm of a traditional Indonesian village despite its contemporary interior and modern conveniences. The 46-room estate sees narrow paths defined by tall planted walls, private tropical gardens and plenty of light-filled spaces for an authentic Balinese escapade. With holistic, Asian-inspired treatments at the COMO Shambhala Retreat and nutritionally rich menus at Uma Cucina, this resort is a dream for the health-conscious jetsetter.