$1 Billion Dollar Taj Mahal Replica Planned For Dubai

Dubai is already known as a hub for glamorous hotels and over-the-top architecture, and it’s not stopping now. With hopes to build the emirate’s reputation as a wedding destination, a replica of India‘s beloved Taj Mahal is now being built.

Called the “Taj Arabia,” the new property will feature a 300-room, five-star hotel, along with apartments, offices, shops and restaurants.

“The Taj is made as a monument of love and we hope to promote this in Dubai as a major wedding destination,” developer Arun Mehra told news.com.au.

Taj Arabia will be part of the massive Dubailand, which the city hopes will be the “world’s greatest theme park.” With the upcoming expansion, it will be double the size of all the Disneyland and Disney World resorts combined.

Developers are estimating the hotel project will cost $1 billion. Completion is estimated for 2014.

[Image via Shutterstock]

Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel Offers Free Fly-Fishing And Biking Now Through October 15

Colorado is a big state, and most of it remained unscathed during June’s wildfires. The Aspen region in particular is known for its knockout scenery, which includes the twin peaks of the Maroon Bells, wildflower-festooned meadows, shimmering aspen groves and crystalline rivers.

With fall foliage (if you’ve never witnessed the turning of aspens, it’s worth seeing) just around the corner, The Little Nell is offering complimentary fly-fishing or road/mountain biking, available exclusively for those who stay three nights or longer through October 15, 2012. Both activities are valued at $400.

Aspen’s beloved “Nell” is justifiably famous for its luxe standards and excellent food and wine, as well as its thoroughly unpretentious staff and atmosphere. You can even bring your furry friend on vacation with you (that means your dog, not your hirsute significant other)

The Fly-Fishing Package includes a three-hour guided trip, drinks and snacks from the Nell’s pastry chef, transportation to and from a custom-selected fishing destination, gear and gratuity. Custom add-ons include a streamside picnic lunch with wine, or (ahem) helicopter excursions to secluded fishing grounds. Guests are permitted to keep their catch, and have it prepared by the Nell’s chef.

The “Bike to Nirvana Package” includes two Orbea bike rentals (with Garmin GPS) for one day. Add-ons include guided tours, custom fitting, training and instruction from Aspen’s top athletes – featuring championship cyclist Scott Kasin – and custom lunches served off-road or trail.

Aspen doesn’t shut down in “shoulder season” like many Rocky Mountain resort towns, either. There’s AspenFILM and the farmers market, which runs through mid-October, and excellent dining (and imbibing) options abound. Bonus: Fall guests who stay at the Nell for two nights receive a third night free, based upon availability.

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport has daily non-stop flights from Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver and Chicago.

5 Hotels With Unique Sleep Programs

Any traveler will tell you that a good hotel bed is a key component of traveling. Hotels have recently gotten wise, hawking their beds, pillows and sheets on their websites as well as via new programs designed to help you sleep better – anything to save us from Ambien.

Swissotel Berlin – The Science of Sleep
Swissotel Berlin just announced a new sleep package developed by somnologist Dr. Michael Feld. They say you can achieve “bio-psycho-physiologic regeneration” through techniques like light therapy, power napping, mountain-air breathing, aromatherapy, special nutritional supplements and a sound pillow. On request, a polysomnography (detailed sleep analysis) can be booked in combination for 60 Euro per reservation. The package includes:

• wake-up and calm-down drink
• bright-light-lamp session or light-to-go headset in the morning
• aromatherapy in the morning and evening
• use of PowerNap Lounge
• use of mountain-air generator
• sound pillow at night

The Benjamin – Sleep Concierge
Midtown New York’s The Benjamin has the city’s only Sleep Concierge, an in-room sleep menu and a 12-choice pillow menu. Guests can enjoy:

· Complimentary consultation with the in-house Sleep Concierge, who can recommend the right pillow for guests’ sleep patterns or have a bedtime snack sent up

· The Benjamin’s hallmark 12-choice Pillow Menu (any combo of pillows delivered right to your room)
· Accommodations with everything needed to set the stage for a perfect night’s sleep: blackout drapes, double-paned soundproof windows and The Benjamin Bed, a Serta® mattress created exclusively for the hotel

The Setai Fifth Avenue – Spa treatments that promote sleep
The Setai Fifth Avenue’s “City That Sleeps” program plays off of New York’s famous nickname. The hotel’s Auriga spa offers a variety of treatments that are timed to the phases of the moon. Playing off that theme, the “City That Sleeps” program includes a nighttime in-room massage and turndown service with aromatherapy to aid in restful sleep. Guests also receive a calm-inducing elixir crafted from local ingredients.

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport – Quiet Zone floor
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Quiet Zone, 19 guestrooms on a soundproof floor, offers daytime respite from noise for jet-lagged travelers. During “Quiet Zone” hours, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., normal day-to-day hotel operations cease. Guests can snooze in complete silence without the disruption of housekeepers in adjacent rooms or bellmen carting luggage in the halls. Complimentary earplugs and eye masks are also provided. The “Quiet Zone” is available at special rates (for a minimum of four hours) until 8:00 p.m.

The Lorien Hotel and Spa – Dream Menu
In addition to a special pillow menu with options ranging from buckwheat to feather-free, this Alexandria, Virginia hotel offers an entire selection of “sweet dreams” products and services, ranging from things you can add to your room – humidifiers, fans, a hot water bottle or a bedtime story library – to concierge services and deliverables like an aromatherapy sleep kit from amenities designer Kerstin Florien, a teddy bear and homemade cookies with warm milk.

Expedia Releases 2012’s Best Reviewed Hotels List

This week, Expedia released their findings for their 2012 Insiders’ Select rankings, an annual list put out based on more than 500,000 customer hotel reviews. Only 650 of the 150,000 Expedia properties are designated as Insiders’ Select hotels. Likewise, selected hotels are the ones that consistently offer competitive pricing, immaculate amenities and distinguished customer service.

Of the hotels found across 74 countries, there are 28% in North America, 25% in Europe, 3% in South America, 19% in Asia and 25% elsewhere. Moreover, there is an array of star ratings and accommodation styles. For example, 35% are luxury, 17% are sustainable, 11 are ski-friendly, 87 are for families and 116 provide beach settings.

The top 10 properties chosen for this year’s list include:

1. Marrol’s Boutique Hotel (5 Stars, Bratislava, Slovakia)
2. Hotel Al Codega (4 Stars, Venice, Italy)
3. Hotel Royal Corin (4 Stars, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica)
4. Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen (4 Stars, Aberdeen, Scotland)
5. Four Seasons Miami (5 Stars, Miami, Florida)
6. Madison Hotel Hamburg (4.5 Stars, Hamburg/Hanover, Germany)
7. Element Omaha Midtown Crossing (3 Stars, Omaha, Nebraska)
8. Sonnenalp Resort Of Vail (4.5 Stars, Vail-Beaven Creek, Colorado)
9. Taj Lands’ End (5 Stars, Mumbai, India)
10. Mr. C Beverly Hills (5 Stars, Los Angeles, California)

Click here to see the full list.

Luxury Travel: Go ‘Glamping’ In NYC

Want to get your glamp on? We at Gadling have had our fair share of fun with the term “glamping” and its addition to the travel lexicon, although we’ll admit that our experience actually practicing the technique last summer was quite fun.

But now, travelers don’t have to head to Adirondaks or Montana to camp, luxe style. AKA New York is launching the second “season” of its “Sleep Under the Stars” experience, where travelers can “glamp” on the hotel’s rooftop between now and Labor Day.

Set on the 17th floor, the 1,000-square-foot wraparound terrace will be home to a plush queen-size bed set in front of a wood-burning fireplace, complete with:

  • Cocktails using A Vod, AKA’s signature vodka
  • Midnight snacks of gourmet Jacque Torres s’mores, cheese and crackers, strawberries and Champagne
  • High tech flashlight and camping lantern
  • Outdoor mood music and scented candles to enhance the “celestial ambiance”
  • State-of-the-art telescope for stargazing
  • Nook Simple Touch e-reader loaded with campfire stories
  • 42-inch plasma screen TV and DVD player with a selection of classic black and white movies
  • Breakfast with coffee or tea at a.cafe

We note it does not come with earplugs for the city noise below but, at $1,999 a night, we’re pretty sure you can request them.