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Rio De Janeiro
As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?
Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.
By Reggie Nadelson for Yahoo! Travel
The secret’s out: many of us break the rules on our vacations — and we have a lot of fun doing it.
OK, fess up. I know you’ve been a dedicated traveler. Determined, you have moved from country to country, seeing the best there is: the baroque beauties of Munich, China’s stone warriors, the Alhambra of Granada. You have tasted fried flies in Southeast Asia and fallen asleep from too much of that heavy borscht in Russia. You’ve scrupulously followed the advice of all the travel guides; you’ve done all the “must do’s,” seen all the “must sees,” and eaten all the “must eats.” As far as traveling goes, you’ve followed all the rules.
But what about [whisper] … the time you ate the cheeseburger in Copenhagen instead of sampling the latest gourmet capital’s broiled bees, or essence of oak, whatever that is? Or when you spent a weekend in Paris not examining Notre Dame’s stained glass but on the back of that handsome young Parisian’s motorbike? Or take my pal, who went to Rio with a girlfriend. Instead of seeing the sights, they spent a week holed up in a great hotel ordering caipirinhas, the fabulous Brazilian cocktails, from room service and listening to bossa nova and … well, I’ll have to draw the curtain here. But they are married now and he makes a fabulous caipirinha.
Blame it on Rio or Blame it on the Alcohol — one couple decided they’d rather look at caipirinhas than Rio’s attractions (Photo: adrivdm/Flickr)
Dangerous. Corrupt. Overrun by drug lords. Who, in their right mind, would travel to one of these places?
The below five cities are unfairly recognized as some of the worst places in the world. Some suffer from decades-old reputations as murder capitals or corrupt drug states — perceptions that aren’t necessarily true anymore. Others have gotten bad press that, again, doesn’t necessarily reflect the situation on the ground for travelers. So while many Americans still fear and avoid them, we think they’re beautiful travel destinations.
And if you’re headed to any of these destinations soon, our advice is simple (and the same that we would give for any trip): Do your homework and stick to well-trafficked areas.
There’s no way around the fact that Brazil’s major cities are going to be crowded in the next few weeks. And we’re not talking about morning traffic crowded — we mean 4 million extra bodies in a country that has a population of 200 million to begin with. Beyond the fact that hotel rooms are starting at $700 per night, you can also expect long lines, expensive meals, and a lot of inebriation in all the World Cup host cities.
Just thinking about it is making us tired, which is why we’re pointing you to other parts of the region, beyond Brazil’s major hubs. Once you’ve paid for your expensive visa, get out of town and enjoy:
Ever wanted to see all – and we do mean all – of South America’s coastline? Holland America’s newest Grand Voyage for 2015 will let you do just that. The 68-day journey will make a complete loop around the continent from Fort Lauderdale, with a few additional ports of call in the Caribbean, Central America, and, weather permitting, Antarctica.
In cities around the world, Carnival revelers party from mid-February through Ash Wednesday. As this year’s festivities wind down, here are ten excellent Carnival parties you can live through vicariously – or plan a trip for next year. Read more
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is still a year away, but when it comes to booking travel plans for Brazil, it’s never too early to start planning. Today, millions of soccer fans all over the world tuned in as FIFA made it official announcement about ticket prices (the projected on-sale date is still August 20). If you’re considering whether or not to attend the festivities next June, here are a few important questions you should be asking: Read more
3, 2, 1 . . . Happy New Year! Whether counting down to 2013 at tried-and-true celebrations like New York’s annual Times Square extravaganza, or by eating a grape for every stroke of midnight in Barcelona, your adrenaline is sure to be racing as 2012 winds down at our favorite locales for New Year celebrations. We love the ultimate party city, Vegas, for its most over-the-top show of the year; partying heartily in Berlin’s massive open-air fiesta; schussing the slopes of the majestic Rockies; and even standing under the breathtaking fireworks cascade over Sydney’s harbor. Should you agree that one day of feting simply won’t suffice, experience the celebration Scot-style, with merrymaking in Edinburgh that lasts four long days, or head to bustling Hong Kong to experience what’s billed as the world’s largest Chinese New Year celebration, spanning more than three weeks of festivities. Beach-lovers can also experience sandy revelry with a twist on December 31 in Rio or Miami.
It’s simple supply and demand. You don’t need to be an economist to understand that concept. And when it comes to hotel rooms in Brazil, tourists may soon find themselves on the right side of the equation. With the country playing host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup (that’s soccer, folks) and Rio de Janeiro welcoming the Parade of Nations in 2016 for the Summer Olympics, 259 new hotels and 43,827 rooms will be available to visitors in the next two years. While occupancy rates will be high during the two major, international events on the horizon, that’s a lot of rooms to fill after the crowds have left (and before they arrive, for that matter). That glut of accommodations stands to create fare sales that surely will benefit those looking to visit South America in the coming years. Read more
In life, being in the right place at the right time is often due to serendipity, but in travel, it almost always results from good planning. To avoid crowds and inflated prices, venture out between high and low seasons when the weather is fine, destinations are still welcoming travelers, and you can explore a locale at your own pace. We call this magical intersection of time and space the Sweet Spot and make it a point to round up the best of them for you each season. We’ve covered the 20 best places to travel for value this summer and grouped them by region – follow the links to the right to discover this season’s Sweet Spots.
Set out on one of our 10 favorite beach trips and encounter the perfect spots to warm up. The beaches come in all colors – white, pink, gold, and black – and are either beloved for their superb natural setting, smashing eye candy, or unbeatable beachside activities. This winter, pick between beach trips to powdery Caribbean shores, heavenly Hawaiian islands, cosmopolitan Australia, spectacular Brazil, or undeveloped Mexico. And, when you’re ready to plan your beach trip for summer, we’ve got you covered there too, with glamorous Mediterranean swaths in Greece and the South of France, and even a remote archipelago off the coast of Africa.
When it comes to navigating big foreign cities, it’s sometimes best to leave the what, where, and when to the pros. And if you are planning a romantic visit to South America – say, several nights in either Rio de Janeiro (shown at left, courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels) or Buenos Aires, paired with a beach escape or an Amazon/Iguassu Falls adventure – and you have a splurge-worthy budget, then consider putting your enjoyment in the hands of Blue Parallel (www.blueparallel.com). Plus, summer is about to bloom in the southern hemisphere, so the timing is ideal.
Founded in 2002 by Emmanuel Burgio, this award-winning bespoke travel company is based in the U.S. with an operations center in Buenos Aires. Burgio and his team craft custom itineraries featuring South America’s most luxurious accommodations and must-see sights – some of them, such as a private concert by a group of musicians from Buenos Aires’ famous Teatro Colon or a candlelit visit to the magnificent Compañía de Jesús church in Quito, Ecuador, not widely accessible to the general public. Add knowledgeable local guides, who are there when you want them (helping you circumvent traffic jams or expedite lines) and not there when you don’t (when dining à deux) and the effect is a seamless voyage, tailor-made to your needs and budget. Although with rates starting at $1,000 per person per day (all-inclusive, with the exception of international airfare and certain meals), nothing about the Blue Parallel experience is budget.
Rio de Janeiro is one of those iconic spots (shown at right; courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels) most couples dream of seeing one day – and if that day involves a romantic celebration, this city with not one but two famous beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema, delivers a dose of bossa-nova–infused amor. Each beach has a five-star hotel that’s ideal for a sexy splurge: Copacabana Palace and Hotel Fasano. And yet they couldn’t be more different. So, during a recent visit, I did a comparison.
Copacabana Palace A legend since 1923, this 243-room hotel, known affectionately as The Copa, has long reigned as the social epicenter of Copacabana Beach. Its iconic white façade (shown at left; courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels) and historic interior hark back to an era of elegance and have welcomed some of the past century’s top A-listers, from Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana to Will Smith and Gisele Bundchen (signed photographs of dozens of celebrities line the reception halls on the mezzanine level). With its high ceilings and distinctive murals, it’s a must for connoisseurs of grand old hotels, from $435/night.
Letting loose and getting a little wild on vacation is a given in our book. An exotic locale, sexy strangers, zero obligations. Let’s face it – sometimes it’s just more fun to party out of town. Anything goes in the world’s top party cities (we’re talking Vegas, Rio, London) and, these days, the coolest carousing goes down at the hottest hotel in town. Bump-and-grind mega clubs, the ever-popular rooftop bar, sexy pool lounges, trendy restaurants, and venues for concerts, movie-screenings, and even sports events – our top 10 party hotels have all the necessities for an all-night rager or two. Best of all, checking into one of these hotel hot spots means you’re guaranteed VIP access to the city’s most coveted nighttime hangouts (a few on our list also have venues reserved for hotel guests only). Plus, no taxis or town cars are necessary; your room is just an elevator ride up (or down, in some cases). So pack your dancing shoes, some aspirin (for some not-so-happening mornings), and get ready to get your groove on at these top party hotels across the globe.
Despite economic woes, the global budget airline boom remains a hallmark of the new millennium, bringing the jet-set lifestyle to the money-mindful masses like never before. With today’s exciting crop of chic low-cost carriers, passengers can pay peanuts for their fares, but look forward to much more than peanuts onboard. The 10 budget airlines in our international roundup all boast efficient aircraft, sleek interior design, attractive routes, innovative onboard services, comfortable seating, and a stylish, friendly staff – features that have long since slipped through the cracks of many of the struggling mainstream carriers.
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