Ponta dos Ganchos (www.pontadosganchos.com), on the southern coast of Brazil, has 20 bungalows on its own peninsula. Newly named to Relais & Châteaux, this hidden enclave caters only to those age 18 and up and provides 73 staff members for a maximum of 40 guests.
The optimal choice here is the Villa Special Bungalow for its 180-degree views of the ocean (start making plans to watch the sunset from your private veranda and plunge pool). The villa also has its own wine cellar, an oceanview sauna and a 34-inch television. For those seeking more space: Bungalow Super Luxo Double accommodations are larger than those dubbed Bungalow Super Luxo; they also offer Jacuzzis on their private wooden verandas. While all bungalows have ocean views, request number 14; it’s more secluded and faces a small village with tiny fishing boats and a beautiful green mountain.
Notify Nicolas Peluffo ([email protected]), the resort’s general director, with VIP concerns; he reports that he is always available for travel advisor inquiries. Peluffo also serves as the director of the spa, which currently consists of three tents set up by the ocean in which massages are provided. A larger facility opens during the resort’s next summer season; be sure to book ahead now for any treatments, which use Dior products.
Guests only dine at the resort’s restaurant, whose chefs gladly cook up special dishes on request. Luxury travel advisors take note: The most important tip to booking this resort is to reserve “Dinner on the Island” for your client ahead of time. Only one couple per night can dine on the tiny island, so competition for the reservation is fierce. Keep it in mind for those planning marriage proposals or celebrating their honeymoon or a special birthday. (Management will do weddings on request but the client must buy out the entire property.) The resort also has a visiting chefs program; participants make sure to come out from the kitchen and speak to each and every guest about their dining experience.
Other dining options outside of the resort are Bistrô Zeca D’Acampora (55 48 32351073), Bistrô Um Lugar (55 48 32322451) and Alameda Casa Rosa (55 48 32380931).
The resort overall is in a somewhat remote area (the nearest town is 40 kilometers away); private jets land at Florianópolis’ Hercílio Luz International Airport (FLN); helicopter service can also be arranged. Concierge Teresa Silva ([email protected]
ganchos.com.br) can arrange exclusive tours of a private winery two hours away from the resort, or full-day trips to Rio de Janeiro or Florianópolis, São Paulo.
Be sure to book three to four months ahead for the resort’s high season, which falls between December and March; for New Year’s book eight months out.
The Princess of Morocco has stayed at the secluded Taj Exotica Resort & Spa (www.taj
hotels.com) and likely opted for the two-bedroom Rehendhi Presidential Suite; with his-and-her bathrooms, this stand-alone fortress is suspended over the water with infinite views of the ocean. Smaller two-bedroom Villa Suites are beachfront and have fabulous views of the sunset. This resort, set on Emboodhu Finolhu Island in Maldives, is designed for romantic getaways with a series of villas and suites, 90 percent of which are suspended over the water. All bathrooms at the resort have double sinks; however, Jacuzzis are not available in the villas.
Davina Bansoropun ([email protected]), the guest relations supervisor, can arrange activities that allow visitors to explore this exotic region, such as a private sea-plane photo flight, a submarine trip, a fishing expedition or a sunset cruise.
Spa Manager Gwen Wynne ([email protected]) oversees the 8,000-square-foot Jiva Spa, which has seven treatment rooms overlooking the water; be sure to pre-book appointments, especially for the popular Mandara Massage. A unique spa experience includes a visit to the Alepa Royal Bath Pavilion, where one can partake in “the Act of Anointing the Body,” a practice that is said to connect one with the elements, one’s inner self and one’s loved ones.
Because the resort is set on a private island, non-guests do not have access to its restaurants, however we recommend booking tables ahead for the period from Christmas through New Year’s (in fact, it’s recommended that accommodations be reserved nine months out for that time frame).
Shoppers can take Taj’s speed boat to Male, the capital city of Maldives, to purchase local souvenirs; speed boats are also the means of transportation to and from the airport, which is 15 minutes away.
Director of Sales Chelan Goonetilleke ([email protected]) is the liaison for luxury travel advisors; General Manager Peter Wynne ([email protected]; 960 6642211) should also be alerted when a VIP is en route.
The Hotel del Coronado (www.hoteldel.com) in San Diego is adding luxury cottages on the beach later this year; in the meantime, book your most discerning clients in a Junior Suite or higher. The most spacious quarters are found in the one-bedroom Signature Suites in the more historic Victorian Building; they have separate living and bedroom areas, plus balconies with oceanfront views. Resort Suites in the Towers Building also have separate living areas (be sure to request an ocean view). Travel advisors may contact Director of Travel Industry Sales Christina Deroche (619-522-8220), or FIT Sales Coordinator Jill Salgado ([email protected]; 619-522-8228) to get the inside scoop on when the resort is tough to book (there are many conferences held year-round) or to enquire about hosting a wedding at the property.
Concierge Eddie Rose ([email protected] or [email protected]; 619-522-8196) deftly books boat and helicopter tours, wine-tasting expeditions, limo city tours and transportation from San Diego International Airport, nine miles away.
Note: The Del gets a new spa with 22 treatment rooms at the end of the year; presently, book the existing six-treatment-room facility (with two outdoor cabanas) via Spa Director Tammy Fraley ([email protected]; 619-522-8824), who reports that the Balance Package (which includes a body scrub, a massage and either an eye-zone or peppermint foot treatment) is the most popular to book. Babor and Epicuren are the products of choice at the spa, which prefers to employ therapists who have more than 1,000 hours of training.
For dining, we suggest Sunday Brunch at The Del’s historic Crown Room (book ahead, it’s popular with locals) or Victorian Tea, which is offered on Sundays year-round and daily during December. This month, the resort opens a new restaurant, 1500 Ocean, serving “coastal cuisine” and wine from California vineyards.
Dining outside The Del? Try Peohe’s (1201 First Street, 619-437-4474 ), Chez Loma French Bistro (1132 Loma Ave.; 619-435-0661; www.chezloma.com) or Primavera Ristorante (932 Orange Avenue; 619-435-0454).
Acqualina, A Rosewood Resort (www.rosewoodhotels.com) opens this month in Sunny Isles, FL. Best to book will be the 2,035-square-foot Two-bedroom Oceanfront Suites, with king-size beds in both the master and second bedrooms, separate living rooms, private terraces, gourmet kitchens, a breakfast room and two full bathrooms with double sinks and a Jacuzzi. One-bedroom Suites are also available, but honeymooners should opt for the 1,010-square-foot oceanfront Rosewood Suites, with king beds, separate living rooms, private dining terraces and a 185-square-foot bathroom that includes a couples’ shower. Note: While all guest rooms at Acqualina have water views; Intracoastal-view rooms, at 740 square feet, are larger than the 690 square-foot Oceanfront rooms and offer unbeatable sunset views from a private terrace.
It’s difficult not to get a room with a Jacuzzi at Acqualina; of the 97 rooms and suites, 77 have one. If you snag one, be sure to request the services of a bath butler (there’s even a Kid’s bath program that includes a serving of warm chocolate chip cookies).
Note: The resort is designed for both couples and families (it offers AcquaMarine Kid’s Program, which has an educational slant) and also welcomes small dogs and cats who can enjoy the services of professional walkers and groomers with advance notice. Pets also receive their own dining menu and amenities upon arrival.
The 20,000-square-foot oceanfront ESPA will be big news for the area; it opens this fall. Here, clients will be able to request ESPA Time, in which they book a minimum of two hours, then consult with the therapist on which treatments to receive. Vivianne Garcia-Tunon ([email protected]; 305-918-8000) is the director of the spa, which will offer ESPA products.
Sam Garcia ([email protected] 305-918-8000), the resort’s chef concierge, can advise on luxury transportation from either Fort Lauderdale or Miami International airports. He can also arrange a reservation for the resort’s Il Mulino New York, which promises to be popular with visitors from the northeast.
Managing Director David Kurland ([email protected]) enjoys receiving contact from travel advisors who are sending VIPs. Note: The resort has plans to become a great venue for nuptials. Anna Schmigel (305-918-8000) is the on-site wedding coordinator who can find the ideal spot on the beach or near the tranquility pool (or even indoors) for the best place to say “I do.” (Nice touch: The resort allows only one wedding on property at a time, so there’s no chance of brides bumping into each other in the lobby, always an awkward moment).
Another newcomer, The Somerset on Grace Bay (www.thesomerset.com) opens in May in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos as a “residence resort,” with units for sale but fully available for booking by travel advisors.
Estate Houses are expected to be the most popular accommodations; they have four suites per building and one suite per floor (penthouses have two floors and offer an ample 5,000 square feet of living space). The Dundee and Carlysle Estate House units have the best oceanfront vistas and the best views of the sunset. Butler service can be arranged on request (insiders say it’s best to make this request in advance). Because suites have full working kitchens, private chefs may also be requested (Hint: Guests may opt to request a local, or Belonger, chef to create island conch delicacies or simply to prepare en-suite meals tailored to each guest’s individual tastes).
Personal assistants can arrange activities including island excursions, as well as babysitting services. They can even stock suites with guests’ favorite groceries prior to arrival. Bathrooms at the resort have double sinks and Jacuzzis. Note: Spa treatments are performed in the property’s suites; contact concierge Sharlene Missick (649-946-5900) to set up an appointment, or to arrange a visit to the spa at The Palms, which is just next door.
Resort Manager Karen Whitt ([email protected] or [email protected]; 649-946-5900) is also a good person to know if you’re contemplating arranging a wedding at the resort.
Note: Provo Air Center One InterIsland Plaza (649-946-4999) is designated for private planes. Those arriving via Providenciales Airport will be met by the Somerset Jitney, which serves up cold drinks and chilled, lemon-infused towels during the 15-minute drive to the resort.