Shermanstravel Blog

Romance

Utah Mighty FiveEver heard of the “Mighty 5?” You will this year, if Utah’s tourism office has anything to say about it. This quintet of famous national parks – Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyon Lands, and Arches – is the focus of a massive new ad campaign run by the state. Whether you’re newly convinced to head to the rugged West, or you’ve had Utah on your travel bucket list for years, here’s our guide to help you choose where to go first…

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Mexico Verana HotelHuge, high-rise hotels have their benefits, but sometimes you just want an escape from the crowds, and a more intimate experience. Mexico’s Pacific Coast has a number of small, secluded boutique resorts where you can limit your exposure to others without limiting your choices of things to do. For your next trip, here are a few places to check out:

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i-stockThere are many reasons to visit Cartagena, Colombia’s Caribbean gem, from its stunning old town, to its proximity to tropical islands and white-sand beaches, to its incredible Creole cuisine. For lovers of stylish boutique hotels, this fairy-tale city impresses with a wealth of affordable options, all of which offer great style (from traditional to quirky), impeccable service, and great rates.

Here are our three favorite Cartagena boutique hotels that won’t break the bank:

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AbruzzoDriving through endless sweeping hills in Italy, there’s nothing for miles, except for the occasional religious relic on the side of the road.  It was hard to believe that we’d just come from bustling Rome, which is about 120 miles away.

The region of Abruzzo, the least populated of Italy’s 20 regions, is also its greenest, with one third of its territory preserved in national parks. It’s also one of the few areas in the world where you can ski in the mountains in the morning and surf (on the Adriatic Sea) in the afternoon. Read more

JamaicaJewelJamaican charm hits you the minute you land in Montego Bay and, if you’re staying at the oceanfront Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort on the island’s North Coast, the all-inclusive ambiance kicks in, too, the minute you arrive following a 45-minute ride from the airport. The best part? This 4-star resort is offering some solid deals that will let you visit for less this year.

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If you’ve ever dreamed of splashing around with dolphins, Flipper-style, singing with crabs like a certain redheaded mermaid, or simply like the sound of “sleeping with the fishes,” then here are eight epic hotels that bring you as close to the deep blue as you’ll ever get.

Pemba Island, Zanzibar

the manta resort 1

What if you could book your own, private island? Well… you can, kinda. Essentially a three-story, private, floating island in the midst of the Zanzibar archipelago, The Manta Resort (from $900 per night) features everything from a perfect sunbathing deck, open-ocean swimming, and a bedroom submerged 13 feet below the ocean.

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South AfricaIn recent seasons, ABC’s long-running series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have quietly turned their attention from catfights, crying, and ill-fated proposals to routinely showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Of course, there’s still over-the-top drama, but more and more, it’s set against a backdrop of bucket-list adventures in far-flung locales. So far this season, Juan Pablo and company have bungee-jumped off a bridge in Los Angeles and eaten insects at a food cart in Seoul, South Korea.

But you don’t have to have a harem of romantic hopefuls in tow – or ABC’s travel budget, for that matter – to enjoy some of these experiences. Here are a few ways travelers can enjoy some of the show’s around-the-world adventures. Who knows? It just might be your Most. Dramatic. Trip. Ever.

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St. Regis Hotels and ResortsCold weather getting you down? Head over to our slideshow of Beautiful South Pacific Resorts and transport yourself to a Polynesian paradise. Featured resorts include the luxury St. Regis Bora Bora, where overwater villas feature private terraces and gazebos.

If taking a romantic getaway was your 2014 resolution, then you have lots to look forward to next month. Hotels far and wide are putting together some nifty Valentine’s Day packages to help lovebirds get the most out of the holiday. From free spa treatments, to add-ons like champagne and rose petals, there’s a trip here to suit every taste, and save you some money.

For laid-back lovers…

CuracaoIn Curaçao, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is making itself extra-accessible to lovers on a budget with their “Love In the Caribbean” package, which is available even after Valentine’s Day. Starting at $379 per night with a 3-night minimum, this deal packs in a couple’s massage, daily breakfast for two, a complimentary dinner at Shore, welcome cocktails, and (why not?) a two-day car rental. Valid for stays through the end of 2014.

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Fado Lisbon

We know what you’re thinking: “Fado” is a chain of Irish pubs in cities all across America.

Well, yeah… we’re not really sure what’s up with that, because Fado is also a traditional style of urban Portuguese folk music that typically features two or three guitarists and a male or female singer. The lyrics reflect themes of longing and nostalgia, about the sea or the life of the poor. The Portuguese describe it with the word saudade, which has no direct translation into English but describes a deep melancholic longing for something or someone that is now absent.

Sounds like a bit of a downer, right? But the mood inside a fado bar is far from sad. And we guess that’s the one good thing about not speaking Portuguese as a tourist – you won’t know what they’re talking about anyway. But you will appreciate it in very much the same way as people appreciate Opera music: the beautiful, booming voices to go along with the soft, picking guitar. Except you don’t have to wear a tux to a fado show, and you can see a show while bellied up at a bar. Read more

Hot Springs Destinations Around the USAs the weather cools down in much of North America, a soothing soak in the hot springs is the perfect thing to usher in the new season. The U.S. offers a number of hot spring experiences, from hiking out to a secluded, forested spot, to booking a room at a high-end resort. Hot springs are often touted for their healing properties, attracting those seeking stress relief, healthier skin, and immune system stimulation – just in case you needed an excuse. Here are four of our favorite hot spring experiences in the U.S.

Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

At Riverbend Hot Spring in the city of Truth or Consequences guests are housed in private, fully renovated mobile homes. The resort is also known for their attentive staff, who will hand-deliver morning coffee to the hot springs as you watch the sun rise over the Turtleback Mountains and the Rio Grande. Unlimited access to public springs are available for all overnight guests, and walk-in guest-passes are also available and include access to the pool area, deck, patio, and sauna. Rooms cost between $70–$150 per night and a guest pass is $10. Read more

Amazing Canadian Train RoutesCanada features more than 3.8 million square miles of diverse landscapes ranging from rolling prairies to pristine glacial lakes. One of the best ways to explore the country is by train. Hop on board one of these lines for the rail adventure of a lifetime.

Rocky Mountain Routes: The Canadian Rocky Mountains serve as the backdrops for several incredible railway trips, including the incredibly popular Vancouver-to-Banff route offered by Rocky Mountaineer. Passengers travel by day, spend the night at a hotel in Kamloops and continue the two-day journey the next morning. Opt for the GoldLeaf package, which entitles you to watch the scenery from the glass-domed upper level and dine in an exclusive dining room in the lower level. Rates for the Vancouver-to-Banff experience begin at $935.

VIA Rail also provides service from Edmonton to Jasper. The scenery can be a little ho-hum as you head south, but once you hit the Rocky Mountains, you’ll “ooh and aah” the rest of the way. One-way travel on VIA from Edmonton to Jasper begins at $110. Read more

Amazing New Train RoutesAs convenient as airlines can be, the act of flying often sucks the joy out of getting there, wherever ‘there’ might be. After enduring the endless security lines, the tedious boarding process, and the subpar airplane food, we arrive at our destination cranky, tired, and often a little disoriented. Not so with train travel. Assuming you have the luxury of time, trains can be one of the most enjoyable ways to explore a new country, with their slower pace and more civilized atmosphere.

More and more travelers are now rediscovering the magic of trains, and luckily, supply is meeting demand. Countries are investing in their rail networks as a viable source of tourism revenue, and promoting off-the-beaten-path destinations as stop-offs along the way. Want to wander through Vienna en route to Stockholm? Or spend two weeks visiting natural wonders in western USA? These new train routes could be worth looking into.

Since 1911, intrepid passengers have cruised inland along the Noyo River aboard the California Western Railroad, a 40-mile route between Fort Bragg, CA and Willits, CA. The rail service was originally created to ferry timber to and from the Pacific Coast, and indeed the route itself winds through stunning redwood forests in the Noyo River Canyon. These days, the ‘Skunk Train,’ as it’s commonly known (thanks to a pungent odor emitted by the old trains’ exhaust gases), is one of the state’s most popular train routes, despite its brevity. A tunnel collapse earlier this year forced a temporary closure, but as of this month, the one-of-a-kind historic rail service is open to passengers once more. Choose from a Saturday evening “Sunset BBQ Excursion,” ($70) which involves a stop-off in Northspur Station, or a simple 4-hour trek between Fort Bragg and Willits ($49). Read more

Brazilian CourtDon’t let the nearing end-of-summer get you down. Head to the 4.5-star Brazilian Court Hotel in upscale Palm Beach and unwind as you take advantage of the Indulge the Senses package for $374 per person. We love this offer, which saves you more than $100 per person on booking the components separately. Here’s what you’ll get: Read more

Castles You Can Sleep InUnlike the baby Prince George of Cambridge, most of us are not born into royalty. That’s not to say we can’t fake it, though. With many former European royal residences being turned into hotels, we can at least sleep like a future king.

Here are just a few you can choose from. Read more

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