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100 things to do before you die: luxury hotels

Thursday, August 24, 2006

43. Palazzo Versace, Surfers Paradise
Five minutes from the bustle of Surfers Paradise and a stone's throw from the trendy Main Beach, the Palazzo Versace, on the northern end of the Gold Coast, is Australia's first six-star hotel. It has touches throughout chosen by Donatella Versace. This surprisingly low-key resort is a happy marriage between Gold Coast glitz and the House of Versace's over-the-top opulence. Most of the furnishings in the hotel are available for purchase.

If you want a taste of Palazzo without the price tag, enjoy a cup of tea or cocktail in the public lobby café and bar. A lovely place to play 'spot the fashionista'!

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44. Empire Hotel, Brunei
Located on the South China Sea, the Empire Hotel and Country Club is a white marble feast for the eyes. It's no huge surprise that the home to the richest man in the world is home to a hotel fit for a king. Costing over a billion dollars to construct, no expenses were spared. When guests aren't relaxing in the most luxurious suites imaginable, they can tee off on the championship golf course or do laps in any of the eight pools.

Gold is everywhere, even laced through the carpet, dotted on furniture and splashed on the ceilings of rooms that hover around the $26,000 mark. If you should tire of the nonstop spread of wealth, the rainforests of Borneo are only a hop, skip and royal jump away.

45. The Plaza, New York City
This grand New York City fixture has entertained a who's who of society and celebrity since it opened its doors. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton have checked in, the Beatles entranced the public and Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford had fans weeping in the aisles during their famous final scene in The Way We Were, shot outside the hotel. It was also featured in Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee.

The Plaza overlooks Central Park, along the legendary 5th Avenue. It closed for huge renovations in 2005 and will reappear in its glorious splendour in 2007 with a mix of apartments and hotel accommodation.

46. Palace of the Lost City, South Africa
Legend has it that the Palace of the Lost City is a replica of the royal residence of an ancient civilization destroyed in an earthquake. The mind-boggling resort, considered one of the world's best, is set in the mammoth Sun City grounds. The Palace of the Lost City features 338 rooms, all with their own loungerooms and butler stations. The centrepiece of the complex is the palace itself, which features hand-painted ceilings — a tribute to the exotic animals and unique surrounds of South Africa. The resort backs onto the Pilanesberg, South Africa's third largest game park.

Outside the Palace of the Lost City is a jungle of swimming pools, gardens, waterfalls and entertainment areas. The centrepiece of the hotel is its golf course where you can tee off over crocodiles.

47. Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Its signature architecture, against the piercing blue sea of the Arabian Gulf, makes the Burj Al Arab one of the most recognisable hotels ever built. The all-suite property is wired for everything from opening the curtains to flipping on the plasma television. Everything turns on and off with the press of a button. Bathtime at the Burj is taken very seriously, with a menu of music and oils on hand. Bedtime gets as much attention, with over a dozen types of pillow to choose from.

Transport by helicopter or Rolls Royce is on standby and private reception areas on every floor are available for discreet check-in. If you require anything, butlers are on hand 24 hours.

48. Grand Wailea, Hawaii
Hawaii, particularly Maui, is a paradise for honeymooners. The Grand Wailea has an on-site seaside chapel for a more formal union, but barefoot on the beach ceremonies can be arranged.

Families are also catered for with pools, sporting activities and easy access to the island's beaches and tourist sites. For ultra pampering, the hotel has a fantastic spa offering locally-inspired treatments such as seashell massages, volcanic ash facials and pohaku (hot lava stone) body treatments.

For further information:

43. Palazzo Versace
Toll Free 1800 098 000 (within Australia)
Phone: (07) 5509 8000
Fax: (07) 5509 8888

44. Empire Hotel, Brunei
Phone: 0011 673 241 8888
Fax: 0011 673 241 8999

45. The Plaza, New York City
Phone: 0011 1 212 759 3000

46. Sun City, South Africa
The Palace of the Lost City
Phone: 0011 2714 557 1000

47. Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Phone: 0011 971 4 3017777
Fax: 0011 971 4 3017000

48. Grand Wailea, Hawaii
Phone: 0011 1808 875 1234
Fax: 0011 1 808-879 4077

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