- Africa + Middle East,
- Martha's Vineyard,
- North America,
- United Arab Emirates,
- United States
Burj Al Arab, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: 971 4301 7777
The 202 all-duplex-suite Burj Al Arab is, at 1,053 feet, the second tallest building in the world to be used exclusively as a hotel. Low-key it is not, with Rolls-Royce pickups at the airport, a rooftop helipad, and an entrance that denies mere plebeians the right to gawk (a barrier ensures only guests and those with restaurant reservations get onto the man-made island on which it's located). The interiors are brightly colored and Midas-touched, while the service is slick and discreet, thanks to battalions of 24-hour personal butlers and in-room check-ins. Each suite has private dining facilities and 42-inch plasma-screen TVs, while the Club suites have their own snooker rooms. The decor is pretty garish, with lots of gold leaf and mirrors over the beds, but the views either out to sea or back toward the coast are breathtaking. Additional facilities are as luxurious as you'd expect: They include the Assawan Spa & Health Club, a secluded infinity pool, and six restaurants, among them the Al Muntaha, 656 feet above sea level on the 27th floor, which serves Mediterranean cuisine, and Al Mahara, the flagship seafood restaurant on the ground floor. But all this glitz comes at a price: Deluxe suites (the most basic) start at around $2,000. If you're determined to get that unique Burj experience, shop around off-season, as it's highly likely you'll find a cheaper rate.
Harbor View Hotel, Massachusetts
Edgartown, Massachusetts 02539
Tel: 800 225 6005 (toll-free), Tel: 508 627 7000, Fax: 508 627 8417
In May 2008, a stem-to-stern renovation of this gray-shingled Victorian was completed under the watchful eye of owner Alan Worden (a former investment banker who once sailed from Nantucket to New Zealand with just one other crew member). Originally opened on the Edgartown Harbor in 1891, this grand New-Englandstyle resort is the town's oldest andwith 141 rooms spread among two main buildings and several cottageslargest hotel. Linda Woodrum, of HGTV's Dream Homes, redecorated the cottage suites, and while they feel plucked out of a Pottery Barn catalog, they have the best of everything: kitchenettes, walk-in closets, flat-screen TVs, fireplaces, private gardens, and outdoor showers. Ask for suite 24 in the cottages for its relative seclusion, ocean view, and brand-new, high-end appointments; or for any of the more traditionally decorated, ocean-facing rooms in the main house (some of which have private balconies). Avoid the motel-like Governor Mayhew building by the pool. The restaurant, Water Street, turns out sophisticated New Englandstyle dishes, and the comfortable bar, Henry's, serves an all-day menu of crowd-pleasers, such as lobster rolls and chocolate-chip cookies. Befitting the hotel's maritime feel, a 31-foot center console boat ferries guests to private beaches (although there is a small sand beach and heated pool on site), and the young-adult learn-to-sail program will keep the kids occupied while you watch from the wraparound porch as yachts drift by. The town is a five-minute scenic walk awayfar enough to keep the hotel's vibe relaxed. Guests also get advance tee times at the nearby par-72 Farm Neck Golf Club, and a spa and health club are planned.
Note: The Harbor View has announced plans to sell off up to half of its units as condos (priced from $526,000 to $1.3 million). The rest will remain available to guests.
Open mid-May through late October.
See + Do
Beaches on Martha's Vineyard
The Vineyard has 14 public beaches as well as six residents-only beaches that are off-limits to outsiders (unless your hotel provides guest passes or you're renting and can provide a copy of the lease). Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark is one of the most beautiful (it's also clothing-optional) and fair game for guests of the Inn at Blueberry Hill. Lambert's Cove Beach in West Tisbury has the finest sand and is also resident-only, though guests of Lambert's Cove Inn can go there. For big waves, try the Atlantic-facing Katama Beach, also known as South Beach, just outside Edgartown: It's open to everybody, although there's a strong undertow that makes it dangerous for kids. A public beach with gentler waves is Joseph Sylvia State Beach, the narrow two-mile stretch between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The small Menemsha Public Beach, beside Menemsha Harbor, also has gentler waters, and is conveniently close to great take-out seafood from Larsen's Fish Market (Dutcher Dock; 508-645-2680) and The Bite (29 Basin Rd.; 508-645-239; thebitemenemsha.com). Two of the prettiest Vineyard beaches are well off the beaten path: Aquinnah Public Beach, also known as Moshup Beach, is located under the dramatic Aquinnah cliffs (it's a ten-minute walk down Moshup Trail from the parking lot); East Beach, in the secluded Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, requires taking the ferry from Edgartown to Chappaquiddick and paying a fee to the Trustees of Reservations (unless you're a member). There's also a freshwater beach on Long Cove Pond in the Long Point Wildlife Refuge.