Hilltop above Carmel Valley, California
Wine Country Srping: Hwy 121, Sonoma County
Big rains this spring have greened the entire state of California, from north to south. What’s not green is white: the Sierra remain buried under the deepest snowpack in 20 years. In a few weeks, once rainy season ends, everywhere but the mountains will turn gold—the color of lion’s fur, the dusty brown of tourist season. Now is the time for a road trip. As a professional travel correspondent, I always schedule California research trips for spring. Here’s why. Continue reading →
Dubai is home to some of the world’s most instantly recognizable hotels, but does the service measure up to the facilities? Some come close, but none I found merits the rarefied ranking of a real five-star. And that includes the iconic sail-shaped Burj al-Arab—which I prefer to call the Bourgeois à l’Arabe.
What distinguishes five-star from four-star service? The primary difference lies in the anticipation of a guest’s needs. A good hotel provides what you want before you know you want it. An example: You’re at a city hotel in, say, London, and step outside just as it begins to rain. Before you have to ask, the doorman offers an umbrella. Sure, any good four-star stocks umbrellas, but only the five-star will thrust one into your hand at the exact moment you need it, without your having to request it. Herein lies the problem. Continue reading →