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Hot Hotel Picks

November 12, 2007 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent

If you haven’t checked out what’s going on at Club Med Yucatan in Cancun, get on a plane to see for yourself. The resort has truly gone upscale and it should make you think all over again about how you are selling this brand. The step up in service is a fabulous complement to the fact that the property--which has been open for 30 years, since before Cancun became the tremendous resort offering that it is--is set on one of the best pieces of land in the area. In fact, after restorations to repair damage by Hurricane Wilma, the beach is far bigger than it ever was. We recently viewed the property’s Jade Suites, which overlook a private, tranquil rocky beach area. Room decor is charming: It looks authentically Mexican while being funky at the same time. A series of hip lounges, all of which open up to the ocean, play host to rotating disco parties that take place throughout the week. That’s ideal for those who like to revel into the evening; if you prefer a calmer respite, there’s always a quiet spot to go to. Yes, this is great for adults, but don’t forget that Club Med serves up one of the best kids’ programs in the industry. An entire section of the resort has been set aside for them, and that includes the signature trapeze experience. The tiniest of tykes, meanwhile, also have their own programs that free up Mom and Dad for a day at the beach.

I’ve just returned from the Resort at Singer Island in Palm Beach, a newly built property in Starwood’s Luxury Collection. I stayed in room 613, a two-bedroom, partial-oceanview suite with a full kitchen and living room. Each bedroom has its own bathroom; the master bath has a huge tub while the second bath has a step-in shower with a pull-down seat, which will serve elderly travelers well. Clients flying in from a colder climate who want to get into the Palm Beach mode right away should head downstairs to the seating area outside Solu, the resort’s signature restaurant, which is gaining huge popularity among locals. I think it’s because Chef Carlos Jorge, who trained under Daniel Boulud, ensures that every item on his menu is the real deal. For example, his Cubana sandwich was the best I’ve had in all of my travels, and that includes Miami Beach. Also great was the Caesar salad, with its perfect dressing and crispy lettuce. Suggest clients try both of these items while they’re sitting outside Solu, watching the waves crash onto the beach below.

Earlier this year, I checked out the $40 million renovation at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, whose focus was on adding 55 more Club Level rooms, 15 Executive Suites and four Presidential Suites. Of the four, the top pick is The Ritz-Carlton Suite, which measures more than 1,850 square feet. Even better, its top-floor location means it presents sweeping “down-island” views to Jost Van Dyke, St. John and Tortola and an ocean view over Great Bay. The suite also has a dining area for eight, plus a kitchen and a pantry. I loved the exclusive fitness room and access to connecting rooms that can turn this into a three-bedroom suite. The highlight of my trip actually occurred off property on the resort’s 53-food catamaran, The Lady Lynsey. Our charter sailing took us to St. John, where we docked at hidden beaches and swam in the turquoise waters. Now that’s living. I had visited this resort about eight years ago; on this return, I found it much more exciting and vibrant. That’s due in large part, I believe, to the arrival of General Manager Marc Langevin.

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