Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas 2006

Presents For Pampered People

Cirrus Access Flight Program

This is perfect for any aspiring pilot. Cirrus Design, manufacturer of the world's best-selling airplane, has made learning to fly all the more safe and affordable. With the Cirrus Access program you can give someone the gift of flight. For a one-year period, the recipient will benefit from an on-call pilot (Certified Flight Instructor) who can give all the instruction needed to earn a private pilot's license or simply fly to a business meeting or family weekend getaway. Learn more about the Cirrus SR22 and Cirrus Ownership Programs.

Spa Treats For Two Budgets


Want to send your sweetheart to the other side of the globe for the ultimate pampering session? "Dheva" is Sanskrit for "celestial being," and the majestic Dheva Spa at The Dhara Dhevi in Thailand will certainly treat guests like one. Directed by a highly experienced husband-and-wife team of doctors, the spa includes treatments such as the steam bath with Alaska mint, the Oriental Body Glow and personal Ayurvedic diagnostic sessions to determine which procedures each guest's body needs the most.

If your pockets aren't deep enough for a plane ticket, try a Bliss spa product. The holiday season is a killer for tootsies, and Bliss hopes to remedy the situation with their Mistle-Toes Pedicure Kit. This festive set inspired by their signature spa pedicure contains soothing treats for the feet and holly-berry red nail polish.

Travelpro Platinum 5 Expandable Rollaboard Suite

Well-suited for business or leisure travelers, this Platinum 5 rolling suitcase includes a combination lock, leather ID tag holder, hanging toiletry kit and a folding garment bag. For globetrotters who like to keep their belongings in sight, the suitcase features an extra-long handle plus a rotating lever which allows you to push the case instead of pulling it. Worried about fitting in holiday gifts? This line has a no-tip feature for heavy bags and an expandable main compartment for 30 percent more space.

The Marqués de Riscal

Looking for a unique gift? How about two nights at the "City of Wine?" Located in the heart of the Rioja wine region in Spain, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal is no ordinary overnight destination. The original Marqués de Riscal winery was transformed by architect Frank Gehry into the City of Wine after a $77-million, eight-year renovation project. In addition to the original winery, the 24-acre property includes the hotel, wine library, restaurant, banquet rooms, rooftop bar and lounge, a Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, and meeting and conference centers.

Stash Tea's Baleen Whale Yixing Teapot

Stash Tea's Yixing Teapot

This whimsical teapot draws upon China's ancient Yixing traditions to create a flavorful cup of tea. Made of porous clay, the pot absorbs the flavor and scent of your favorite fine blend. Each whale yields about two sizeable cups, or ten ounces. The teapot can also be purchased in the lizard or dragon design, each depicting a beautiful representation of Yixing artistry that is great for enjoyment and décor.


Whether the destination is a picnic lunch for two or a dinner party, this elegant tote will transport your favorite wine lover’s essentials in style. The one-bottle deluxe wine tote by OmniPresents Gifts includes two glasses, a corkscrew, napkins and a stopper. If you’re feeling ultra generous, complete the set with a special bottle of vino.

The Soul of a New Cuisine

Send a loved one on a trip to Africa—without them leaving their favorite chair. In his latest book, The Soul of a New Cuisine, chef Marcus Samuelsson of New York's famed Aquavit shares his very personal journey of rediscovering the land of his birth as well as understanding the complexities and traditions of African cooking. The tome contains more than 200 recipes from Morocco to South Africa. Perhaps this gift will result in a tasty "thank you" dessert.

James Bond DVD Sets

Now your favorite wannabe action star can spend a good part of 2007 studying the master of the craft: Bond, James Bond. Unforgettable settings, villains, girls, gadgets, cars, music and all those other intangibles are what make Bond a modern cultural icon. That's why the four Bond Ultimate Collection DVD sets are the perfect gift for any film fanatic or Bond buff. Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are currently available for purchase while Vol. 3 and Vol. 4 are available for preorder.

Live Lobsters


Who wouldn't want to repeat that great lobster scene in "Annie Hall?" Live lobsters make a great present for the person who’s tried every food gift from mail-ordered filet mignon to jelly of the month clubs. Although it’s not a gift that keeps on giving year-round, this 2.5- to 3-pound Jumbo Maine lobster will satisfy any hungry seafood-lover on your list. To best enjoy this gift, it’s suggested that you actually decide to be tough and cook it (instead of letting it run amok in your kitchen like Woody Allen).

Full Body Scans

It’s that time of year again where diets are dumped and health concerns are thrown to the icy wind in favor of cookies and filling holiday dinners. Give that 11-month-of-the-year health fanatic a gentle reminder with the gift of a full body scan. Full body scans are conducted at centers nationwide, can serve as an early detection tool for heart disease and certain cancers as well as other abnormalities. Just make sure you give this generous gift to someone who will interpret the motion as, “I care,” and not as, “You don't need that extra cookie."

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

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