Travel Smarts

TRAVEL SMARTS

July 17, 2005

Vera Wang's Hawaii

Waikiki resort opens designer suite -- at $4,000 a night

Many brides dream of slipping into a Vera Wang gown on their wedding day. Now, they can spend a Hawaiian honeymoon in her hotel suite.

The Halekulani resort in Waikiki has formally opened the posh Vera Wang Suite, the first fashion designer-branded suite in Hawaii.

Sleeping in Wang-designed splendor isn't cheap. The 2,135-square-foot, one-bedroom suite costs $4,000 a night -- one of the priciest hotel rooms in Hawaii.

Wang is among a growing number of big-name designers to enter the hotel industry. Giorgio Armani is teaming up with a Dubai-based company to launch a collection of luxury hotels around the world. Spanish clothing chain Camper has a hotel in Barcelona. Bulgari has a hotel in Milan and plans to open another next year in Bali. The Versace name is on an Australian hotel, and the Ferragamo designers own hotels in Italy.

Wang has a personal connection to Hawaii -- she was engaged here. "It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, a dream filled with romance and natural beauty," she said. "I feel that Hawaii represents everything that is romantic and sensual."

The second-floor oceanfront suite offers sweeping views of Diamond Head, an extinct volcano that is Hawaii's most famous landmark. Guests can hear the sound of rolling waves outside.

One of the highlights is the 642-foot lanai, a Hawaiian-style veranda, which overlooks palm trees and Waikiki Beach and is larger than many apartments in Honolulu.

All meals are served with Vera Wang china, crystal and flatware, and the menu includes some of Wang's favorite comfort foods. The decorative pillows use fabric from Wang's apparel. The DVD collection is composed of her favorite films, including The King and I, When Harry Met Sally and Lost in Translation.

Among the complimentary services and goods included in the price are a bottle of champagne, a 24-hour butler, limousine transportation to and from the airport and a full bar.

Celebrities and a few other wealthy guests have already stayed in the suite, which opened unofficially in February.

For more information: 800-367-2343; www.halekulani.com.

NOW PETS CAN ENJOY LAP OF LUXURY ON VACATION

As George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm in 1945: "Some animals are more equal than others." And though the book was an attack on Stalinism, one wonders what Orwell would say about capitalism's latest achievement: a luxury hotel package for well-heeled pets. While Fido stays home in a leaky doghouse, Fifi gets a blow-dry.

Several major chains have developed luxury pet packages that go beyond pet-friendly.

For example, Kimpton hotels (www.kimptonhotels.com) offers luxury pet amenities at its properties in 11 North American cities, including everything from a how-to book on pet massage at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago to monogrammed coats for dogs at the Hotel Monaco in Seattle.

Although it does not offer packages, W Hotels (www.star woodhotels.com / whotels) provide amenities and a room-service menu for pets as part of a "Pets Are Welcome" (PAW) program, including psychic readings and doggy birthday cakes.

The Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., provides everything in-house under its "Pampered Pup" packages. In addition to serving gourmet dinners like filet mignon stew, the hotel had its team of massage therapists certified in animal massage. Pets at the hotel's spa can also get shampoos and pedicures alongside their owners.

But what if you don't have a pet? The Red Lion Inn, www.redlioninn.com, in Stockbridge, Mass., can provide one to warm those lonely nights. The inn offers guests the company of Wilbur the cat (as available) with a guesthouse suite.

Tourist submarine diving again

The 48-passenger Atlantis XI submarine has resumed its daily schedule of undersea voyages off the coast of Grand Cayman. The attraction, operated by Atlantis Adventures, was suspended when Hurricane Ivan struck the island last September. Passengers on the 90-minute excursion view marine life through oversize portholes at depths of up to 100 feet.

Information: 866-546-7820; www.atlantisadventures.com.

New Monaco hotel features spa, casino

The Societe des Bains de Mer is scheduled to open its fifth hotel in Monaco, the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort, on Oct. 1. The 334-room hotel will feature a spa, casino and 10 acres of gardens.

For more information, call 800-595-0898 or visit www.montecarloresort.com.

-- From wire reports

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