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The Oberoi Amarvilas • Agra, India

Experience the love…

The Oberoi Amarvilas • Agra, India - Grounds

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To gaze at the white dome surrounded by minarets, esplanades and garden walks. To wait for the moonrise to cast its silver glow, a site said to be one of the world’s most sublime travel experiences. To meditate on the great love story of Shah Jahan, who was so grief-stricken by the death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, that he spent the next 17 years building her mausoleum and monument.

All this is possible from the lush terraces and incredible vistas from The Oberoi Amarvilas, situated just 600 meters from one of the world’s most thrilling destinations and architectural masterpieces, the Taj Mahal.

Everything at the Oberoi Amarvilas is designed to show off the magnificent views, whether from a terrace, a bedroom picture window or even from one of the luxe soaking tubs. The Mughal architectural theme is explored intelligently, with all surfaces reflecting the rich color and patterning of this 15th-century flowering of Muslim culture.

The Oberoi Amarvilas • Agra, India

Esphahan, a regal restaurant in contrasting patterns of sandstone and marble, features authentic Indian cuisine accompanied by live musicians playing the classics of Indian music. The resort’s Bellevue specializes in Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. The magnificent views are also available at the lobby bar and tea room.

The 105 guest rooms at Amarvilas are a study in serenity. The Moorish theme is continued here in a more muted manner and every luxe amenity is available from Internet access to deliciously decadent marble baths with a separate shower enclosure.

About half the rooms in the “Premier” class have private open-air terraces. Deluxe suites have living rooms with butler’s pantry and bathrooms overlooking the Taj Mahal.

All guests receive complimentary two-way transfers from the airport or railway station. All rooms have a 24-hour Butler Service. The Spa at the Oberoi Amarvilas is fit for a king with treatment taking place with a view to the Taj Mahal. The personalized treatments might include holistic Ayurveda treatments, ancient Thai techniques and western methods as well. There is also a steam room and sauna, state-of-the-art gym and a “Yoga menu” designed by the resident Yoga specialist.

Rounding out the extensive facilities is a colonnaded swimming pool set in an Arabian Nights terraced garden.

The Oberoi Amarvilas • Agra, India

The Oberoi Amarvilas
Location: Taj East Gate Road – Agra, India 28 200; a complimentary transfer to and from the airport is included for all guests.

Luxury style: Although not a ‘couples’ resort at all, there is no finer spot for a romantic exotic honeymoon than the Oberoi Amarvilas. The resort is also perfect for those seeking a contemplative, rather than activity-laden, respite from modern life. The main activity is the exploration of the Taj Mahal. But since the Taj Mahal has recently been voted one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, anyone wanting to experience this world treasure could do no better than the Oberoi Amarvilas.

What we’ve heard: Service is astonishing and management goes to great length to ensure guest satisfaction. Also, kudos are often spoken for the Indian cuisine at the

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Hospes Hotel Lancaster • Paris, France

An exquisite Parisian hideaway

Hospes Hotel Lancaster - Room

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This 1889 mansion, secluded on a quaint side street off the Champs-Elysees, became a hotel in the 1930’s under the careful tutelage of Emile Wolf, hotelier and bon vivant. This stylish small hotel, with a charming hidden garden in its courtyard, soon became a favorite of celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward and Grace Kelly. They found elegance and impeccable service within a very private setting, qualities maintained till today.

Hospes Hotel Lancaster

The 60 rooms (which includes 11 suites) are range in size from intimate or very spacious, but all feature a very French touch to the decor with rare antique furniture, paintings and rich textures and opulent fabrics. All rooms are very 21-st century with multiple phones, DVD, cable/satellite, internet access through free wifi and voice mail. The bath is another font of luxury with marble and rare wood fittings and bathroom fixtures with a retro feel. The towels, bathrobes and slippers are all custom-designed for the Lancaster, as are the bath amenities.

The suites could allow the traveler to imageine their own salon in Paris. Each one is unique, but all feature antiques, comfortable fauteuils and pleasing sophisticated color palettes. In particular, the Suite Emile Wolf (after the hotel’s founder) comes with an immense living room, a grand piano, armchairs and large sofa.

At La Table du Lancaster, master chef Michel Troisgros has created a menu which emphasizes fresh intense flavors. The atmosphere is understated, intimate and congenial.

lancaster-garden1.jpg

Hospes Hotel Lancaster
Location: 7 rue de Berri, Paris, France 75008; 40 minutes from airport

Luxury style: An intimate space that is perfect for a romantic weekend. Also ideal for the urbanite who prefers their city excitement cushioned by a layer of tranquility.

What we’ve heard: Live out all your diva dreams by staying in the Marlene Dietrich suite, decorated in her favorite shade of lilac.

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Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza • Cairo, Egypt

Four Seasons excellence in the land of the pharaohs

View of the Nile

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The icon of modernity in Cairo is the 30-story sleek and luxurious Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza. The 367 rooms and 77 suites of this elegant tower, located in Garden City, Cairo’s financial section, speaks of Cairo’s position in the international world of finance and business. The excellence of the Four Seasons brand is evident everywhere here from the architectural flower arrangements to the $10 million art collection.

The Nile Plaza is a whole development that includes private residences and upscale shopping as well as the Four Seasons. Positioned at the Nile’s widest point, guest rooms look out toward the Citadel, a historic landmark, or the ever-changing panorama of the Nile. Cairo, the vibrant cultural and commercial heart of the Middle East has been a crossroad for travel and trade since ancient times.

Four Seasons Nile Plaza - Pool

The guest rooms are of the familiar formula typical of the Four Seasons recipe for relaxation–cool oases of crisp modernity, with opulent textures and sophisticated color schemes. But most of all the guest room is designed for comfort of the highest order, with triple-glazed windows for quiet amidst vibrant, but noisy city sounds, carefully considered work areas and the latest in communication and entertainment technologies. The marble bath will be appreciated for the deep soaking tub and separate shower.

There is a beautiful rooftop pool as well as comprehensive spa and fitness facilities. The spa, which is the largest facility of its type in Cairo, offers a whole program of wellness, beauty treatments and massage. There is also an indoor pool adjacent to the spa.

The hotel is well-served by a whole menu of restaurants, which serve sophisticated Cairenes as well as business travelers and upscale tourists, include Zitouni, which server Lebanese food; Spice, a Chinese menu; Aqua for seafood and Steaks which has a devoted following.

Four Seasons Nile Palace

Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza
Location: 1089 Corniche el Nil, Garden City, Egypt; 45 minutes from the airport.

Luxury style: A prime meeting spot for international executives and businessmen to whom five-star comfort is a commodity that they are unwilling to do without. Also, the acolytes of the Four Seasons fan club will find their devotion satisfied here. The Four Seasons can also be counted on as a gracious candidate for special events and corporate socializing.

What we’ve heard: There are many things in life that are uncertain, but staying at a Four Seasons is not one of them. Worldwide, the standards of luxury and service can be counted on as sure as the sun rises in the east. The Four Seasons Cairo is no exception. In the chaotic and vibrant mix of this vast metropolis, the hotel is a island of calm, comfort and pleasure.

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