Thursday, October 18, 2007

Five-star Travel: Desert Resorts

It's too cold to stay in New York but if Aruba and St. Barts are too clich├ęd you can find a new hot spot in the desert.

In the Sahara Desert in Morocco, just outside the ancient city of Marrakech, lies Amanjena (, where guests can relax in the two-story Al-Hamra Maison with two bedrooms, private gardens and swimming pool and butler service for $3,000 a night. The resort tries to live up to its translation meaning “peaceful paradise" with an extensive spa menu and library and tennis courts that ensure guests are never bored.

At the Hotel de Lariche in San Pedro, Chile (, tourists can explore the secrets of the Atacama Desert via a personal guided tour and at the end of the trek, settle into their suite's Jacuzzi or comfortable sitting area.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pool Party

Visitors to the Switzer Cove home of Ron Lorenz and Dianne Wilson in Ocean Springs will never wonder whether their hosts like the water.

Often the party place for the whole neighborhood, the house's open design helps guests feel both comfortable and festive at their own pace and has a swimming pool that acts like a people magnet.

There's also a hot tub, a sauna, a large aquarium and, in the master bedroom that adjoins the pool room, a free-standing Jacuzzi. The house is 5,500 square feet and has four bathrooms and four bedrooms, one used as an exercise room.

Three years ago Lorenz transformed his traditional L-shaped ranch-style house built in 1972 into a fantasy water world where all halls flow toward a 2,200-square-foot pool house. The area enjoys indoor comforts while basking under 180-degree, horizon to horizon murals of outdoor beaches, boating and sea life.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hot Tubs Hurt Fertility, Study Says

Exposure to hot baths or hot tubs can lead to male infertility, according to a new study at the University of California, San Francisco.

But the effects can sometimes be reversible, a news release said.

"We now have actual evidence to show patients that these recreational activities are a real risk factor for male infertility," said Dr. Paul J. Turek, a urologist who led the study.

"These activities can be comfortably added to that list of lifestyle recommendations and 'things to avoid' as men attempt to conceive," he said.

Turek said this is the first published study to show that total body exposure to wet heat can impair both sperm production and motility. Previous work showed that dry heat -- such as from a fever -- has the same effect.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hammons to build luxury hotel, exhibition center at Lake of the Ozarks

John Q. Hammons today said he plans to build a luxury property, including a hotel, spa and exhibition center, near the Grand Glaize Bridge at the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Mo.

In a news release this morning, the Springfield hotel developer said the Chateau on the Lake of the Ozarks will be built on a 30-acre waterfront location. The 15-story hotel will include 320-rooms and suites, a spa and more than 100,000 gross square feet of meeting space. Hammons will own the property and his John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts will manage the facility.

No financial terms were disclosed.

Of the 184 hotels Hammons has developed, the Chateau will be his 14th property in Missouri. Construction is expected to start in spring 2008 with an opening planned for spring 2010.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Home show takes indoors outside

Wendy David remembers the days when people threw a few hamburgers on their grills, a few chairs on their decks and a few flowers in their backyards and considered that outdoor living.

No more.

"Life has changed a lot since then," David said yesterday at the 33rd Pennsylvania Home Show in the state Farm Show Complex. "Now people want outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, pools, ponds and landscaping. People are spending more time at home and want a place to really relax."

As snow and freezing rain coated midstate roads, a summerlike atmosphere dominated the outdoor-living displays of the Home Show, which runs through Sunday. Exhibitors showed visitors how to turn backyards into casual but beautiful attractions and transform decks into entertainment areas that rival resorts.