Nicaragua is still a diamond in the rough. It offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife — but it’s a much poorer country and it shows. However, the handful of luxury resorts in Nicaragua are proof that the upscale travel market here is emerging, and Mukul, the super-exclusive property that opened in February 2013, is helping to bring the country into the international spotlight.
Mukul is more than just a luxury resort; it is one of the most exclusive hideaways not only in Nicaragua, but Central America. The name, Mukul, is Mayan for “secret,” and guests are assured of a high level of privacy: The resort, part of a sprawling, 1670-acre beach community, has only 37 luxurious Bohios and Villas, and the grounds are not open to the public. The existence of the resort is hardly a secret, however, as this $40 million project helmed by Don Carlos Pellas, a Nicaraguan business magnate, is helping to change the face of the country’s tourism industry. The guests who can afford Nicaragua’s most expensive hotel rates will be rewarded with a gorgeous white-sand beach, one of the most beautiful spas in the world, an 18-hole golf course, gourmet cuisine, and pampering service — though they should note that construction on the property’s hillside real estate is still underway.
Spa at the Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa
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Yamm restaurant shows off the hotel's futuristic design style.
Edward Snowden — the former CIA employee who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance methods last week — has reportedly been hiding out at The Mira Hong Kong since his whistle-blowing shocked people across the globe — but no longer. The Daily Telegraph has reported that a man who called himself Edward Snowden checked out of the The Mira today. Many have their doubts about whether or not this is the Edward Snowden: After all, the 29-year-old has been very secretive since the big reveal, even admitting to feeling extremely fearful of being spied on. In fact, reports claim that Snowden left his hotel in Hong Kong just three times during his stay — despite being in the city for three weeks — for fear of being located by the NSA.
There are certainly worse places to lay low: The Mira is one of Hong Kong’s most luxurious, high-design properties. The hotel boasts a central location in Tsim Sha Tsui, futuristic design touches, seven outstanding restaurants and bars, and an excellent fitness center. If Snowden was hiding out at the chic hotel, we can only assume he is sad to leave it now. Whether he will stay in Asia or seek asylum elsewhere – many speculate he may travel to Iceland for that reason — saying goodbye to The Mira could not have been easy. See more photos of The Mira after the jump »
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Step right into The Jade Hotel.
Opened just a few months ago, The Jade Hotel is already a hot spot in New York City, thanks to its trendy Greenwich Village location and even trendier clientele (Cameron Diaz reportedly spent the night flirting with a bartender at the hotel). From the curated library to the retro rotary phones in every room, no detail has been left out at this sexy boutique. Its 113 stylish rooms have tasteful decor inspired by the Paris of the 1920s, and feature top-notch amenities, including high-definition TVs, Tivoli radios with iPod hookups, and free Wi-Fi. Grape & Vine, a bar and restaurant reminiscent of the old New York speakeasies, attracts a varied clientele with its intimate yet casual vibe and French-inspired menu. The Jade is a great pick for couples and business travelers, but those with kids in tow might find some rooms to be too small and the walls too thin. Check out more photos after the jump, or skip to the full review here.
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We had a hard time saying "goodbye" to this view!
Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature. The 16-bungalow lodge sits amid 1,000 acres of rainforest filled with wildlife, but it’s far from a no-frills jungle camp. There are many comforts here, including a pool overlooking the ocean, a splendid restaurant serving sumptuous cuisine, and rustic-luxe rooms with private decks. This is a place to get in touch with nature without roughing it. So as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve.
Lobby at the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC
Gansevoort Meatpacking opened in 2004, so it may be hard to believe that it’s still selling out rooms and people continue to line up at the door to be a part of the hotel’s nightlife most weekends. And yet it’s true, especially thanks to a huge 2012 renovation that has helped the hotel stay on the cutting edge with a fresh makeover (good-bye passé neon, hello sophistication). Sure, the hotel is most popular with the party set, so it may not be best for those who want a low-key, quiet getaway. But amazing rooftop views, an outdoor heated pool, an Exhale Spa offering tons of fitness classes, and delicious sushi at Toy restaurant all help solidify Gansevoort Meatpacking as one of downtown New York’s most luxurious, energetic, and vibrant hotel options. Read more about this hip spot — and see more fab photos — after the jump.
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Lobby at the Altis Hotel -- Lisbon
The Altis Hotel, with 300 rooms, is the largest property in the Altis chain and is certainly one of the brand’s most luxurious hotels. Elegant rooms are a decent size with plush bedding, marble bathrooms, and TVs embedded in the mirrors. A major renovation was completed in 2011, and rooms feel fresh and contemporary. The hotel’s long list of amenities includes a restaurant on the 12th floor with great city views, a cozy lobby bar, and a coffee shop. The Altis also has a health club with an indoor pool, fitness center, and several treatment rooms. While this property has a reputation as a business hotel, it also attracts tourists with its convenient location near numerous attractions. A spacious marble lobby features large art installations and plenty of space to sit. Check out more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»
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The Outdoor Pool at the East Hampton Art House Bed & Breakfast
This elegant B&B in East Hampton, New York is exactly what its name suggests: a house full of art. Designed and decorated by the owners, Michael and Rosalind, who combine mutual talents in art and hospitality, the Art House features just four rooms with attractive touches such as hardwood floors, marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and massive flat-screen TVs. But despite its small size, the hotel boasts all the amenities of a larger property – endless communal spaces, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center, just to name a few. With attentive and friendly owners, who serve up delicious breakfasts of waffles, omelets, and fruit, the Art House has the feel of a private Hamptons home while including all of the luxuries of staying at a high-end inn. With these luxuries, of course, comes pricey rates. And now that spring has sprung, it’s time to start making your summer plans — the Art House books up fast. If the summer rates are outside of your budget, the inn remains open year-round, and with cozy features such as gas fireplaces and a waterfall whirlpool, this B&B is a great escape no matter the time of year. Wanna know more? Check out more photos of the hotel after the jump or read our review now>>
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Beach at Sandy Lane; Barbados
Decked out in its signature pink, the 112-room Sandy Lane is arguably the best resort in Barbados, known for its unparalleled service and distinct touches. Guest amenities run rampant; perhaps the most noteworthy is access to the super-exclusive Green Monkey golf course (so that’s probably why Tiger Woods got married here). Upon arrival, the road winds through beautiful grounds and mahogany trees toward the impressive entrance and marble lobby. Once there, the staff will whisk your luggage away to your room, marked with luxe touches including Italian marble floors, plantation-style designer furniture, and state-of-the-art bathrooms. The top-notch spa, outstanding restaurants, and celebrity sightings are mere cherries on top. Check out more amazing photos of the hotel after the jump or read the full review here >>
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Bedroom at The One by the Five
One by the Five gets its name because it is literally one guestroom. Clearly designed to set a romantic mood for guests, the room offers scent choices, a “love elixir” cocktail that can be made in the suite’s kitchenette, a rose petal-covered levitating bed (it’s attached to the wall but not the floor), and a common area dubbed “the dance floor,” with all-red decor and crushed velvet curtains. And though some find it cheesy, the suite still has an upscale vibe, particularly in the mod bedroom where the lighting can be dimmed down so that the ceiling glows with a twinkling starlight effect. A flat-screen TV, iPod dock, and free Wi-Fi are also on offer. There are literally no features at this one-room property, but room service is available, there are several restaurants within walking distance, and guests have a one-of-a-kind hotel experience. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»
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Lobby at Esperanza Resort
This beautiful, luxurious 57-room resort is one of the nicest in Los Cabos, and offers more of a home-y vibe than other high-end properties in the area. Handsome, tastefully rooms start at 925 square feet, and are decorated in traditional Baja style, with authentic artwork and wood detailing. They come with high-end electronics and decadent bathrooms (some with Jacuzzi tubs), but the private terraces are arguably the highlight; all have at least partial ocean views (many have jaw-dropping ocean views), and some have Jacuzzis. The beach is secluded and gorgeous, but the large waves and rough reefs make it unfit for swimming. The resort’s pools are top-notch, though, and pool staff offers free treats (like ice pops and fresh fruit) every hour. Since it’s a smaller resort, guests get a decent amount of individual attention. Although not much is within walking distance, the resort provides plenty for guests to do on-site, including several dining/drinking options and an art gallery. Read More »