In this issue: Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, London, Mumbai, and a cruise ship to the Arctic
Ireland Gets Ritzy
The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, County Wicklow
. The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, in Ireland's County Wicklow, is the luxury chain's first foray in Ireland and the only Gordon Ramsay restaurant in the Emerald Isle. The seven-story hotel is built in neoclassical Palladian style and is nestled among the grounds of the 1,000-acre Powerscourt House and Gardens. The 200 Georgian-inspired guest rooms, with tasteful stripes and high ceilings, are a whopping 700 square-feet on average and are stocked with Bulgari bath products and have separate sitting areas. If you need more space, the Presidential Suite is 2,500 square-feet and comes with its own plunge pool and terrace. Pro: the black marble swimming pool is lit by Swarovski crystals; an on-site Irish pub. Con: Dublin is 30 minutes away. Powerscourt Estate Enniskerry, South of Dublin, Ireland. 01/274-8888 (ph.). 01/274-999 (fax). http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Powerscourt/. 200 rooms. In-room: DVD, broadband, Wi-Fi, safe. In-hotel: 3 restaurants, room service, two bars, spa, gym, pool, Wi-Fi, laundry, concierge. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at €445.
In San Francisco, Munch on Mexican
This lively Mexican eatery, which draws a mixed crowd of couples, business people, and thirtysomethings, offers an appetizing menu of authentic-meets-modern Mexico City-style cuisine. The trio of ceviches and crudos, crispy carnitas
(shreds of pork) with handmade tortillas, and a whole-roasted black bass cooked to juicy perfection, are just some of the standout dishes. Start your night at the front bar, which caters to tequila aficionados, before making your way to the chic contemporary dining room featuring a 14-seat communal table. A taqueria to-go menu selling tacos, burritos, and quesadillas attracts a lunch crowd; night-owls will appreciate the late-night hours. 139 Steuart St., SoMa. 415/808-1048. AE, D, MC, V. Median entrée price: $22.
Mumbai's Japanese Hot Spot
Wasabi by Morimoto.
The brainchild of celebrity chef Morimoto, this premier Japanese restaurant is a mainstay destination for Mumbai's deep-pocketed, glamorous set, who come for the fresh sashimi and Kumamoto oysters flown in regularly from Japan. Vegetarians appreciate the separate grill at the teppanyaki counter as well as the extensive vegetarian options, which include the spicy avocado roll with red-chili mayonnaise. The bustling space provides stunning views of the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India. Despite its comparatively high prices, this restaurant is definitely worth the trip. The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai. 22/6665-3202 (ph.). AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: 1,400 rupees (approximately $36 USD).
Fort Lauderdale's Oceanfront Resort
St. Regis Resort.
Once you've been pampered by the attentive staff at the St. Regis Resort, you'll wonder how you've stayed anywhere else that doesn't have 24-hour butler service. This luxurious oceanfront property, with its lobby awash in sumptuous iridescent mother of pearl and creamy leather, attracts a stylish crowd. The best seat in the house is located on the massive pool deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean -- from there, a private walkway leads directly to the beach. Guest rooms vary, with options including an ocean view or ocean front. Pros: an in-house Bentley provides local transportation; state-of-the-art gym. Cons: fee for use of business center; pricey on-site restaurants. North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. 954/465-2300 (ph). 954/465-2340 (fax). http://www.StRegis.com/FortLauderdale. 166 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 3 restaurants, room service, 2 bars, pool, gym, spa, children's programs, laundry service, concierge, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, airport shuttle (fee), parking (fee), some pets allowed (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $589.
Legendary London Hotel Gets Upgrade
Hidden away on a cobblestone-courtyard just behind posh St. James Street, London's legendary Duke's Hotel has undergone a 2007 top-to-toe renovation. Now a part of CambellGray Hotels, the reliable group that operates the stylish One Aldwych nearby, Duke's continues to service a diverse, discreet clientele in an atmosphere now more classic than stuffy. The design mixes antique furnishings with modern touches like plasma TVs, new fabrics and contemporary artwork. The Dining Room at Duke's has also been re-launched, as has the iconic lobby bar, which still draws a crowd for the famous martinis that inspired James Bond author Ian Fleming -- served so potent there's a strict two-per person limit. Pros: a quiet, intimate spot in central London; some rooms have views of Green Park; impeccable, award-winning service; Old World charm; updated rooms and menu; iconic martinis. Cons: small bar can get crowded at night; older building and facilities (pull-gate elevators, etc.); a fee for Internet and Wi-Fi. 35 St. James's Pl., St. James's. 20/7491-4840 (ph.). 20/7493-1264 (fax). www.dukeshotel.com. 90 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD (some), VCR (some), Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at £295.
Cruise the Arctic, Greenland in Style
The newest ship in the Hurtigruten fleet, specifically designed for arctic exploration, brings Scandinavian flair to its Antarctic and Greenland cruises. On board, the airy scenic lounge is the perfect place to relax, and the small gym and sauna offer other diversions. Unless you pay the hefty premium for a cushy minisuite or suite, you'll stay in a spartan but comfortable cabin with a flat-screen TV, bath with shower, and twin beds with down comforters that are just big enough for two. Dinner is served in a single seating, and the food is decent, especially if you have a taste for reindeer steak. Pros: naturalist on board; new ship; airfare included in cruise rates. Cons: no children's programs; pricey alcoholic beverages; small cabins. 800/323-7436. www.hurtigruten.us. 136 cabins, 7 decks. In cabin: Refrigerators (some). On ship: 1 dining room, cafe, gym, hot tub, sauna, bars, library, public Internet, Wi-Fi. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Cruise starts at: $6,899 per person for 12 nights (Antarctica); $6,199 per person for 7 nights (Greenland).
Contributors: Marcia Gagliardi, Hyon Jung Lee, Sandra Ramani, Douglas Stallings, Christina Valhouli, Shivani Vora