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Known for warm weather and beautiful beaches, Caribbean resorts aren’t usually thought of as true foodie destinations. Discerning travelers, however, are increasingly demanding good cuisine, and tropical resorts are happily answering their culinary prayers. From cooking classes to bespoke menus, these Caribbean hotels go beyond conch fritters and strawberry daiquiris, offering true tastes of their respective regions.
They say there’s no such thing as too much fun, but in Miami, we wonder sometimes… Sure, it’s an impressive place (that beach! those hotels!), but after a third or fourth (or sixteenth) visit, you might suddenly find yourself under-dressed, trolling Collins Avenue in hopes of finding somewhere to “relax” that won’t charge you $20 at the door. Good thing Miami’s friendly neighbor to the north offers an easy alternative to all the velvet ropes, Mercedez-Benz dealerships, and designer labels.
Fort Lauderdale, as accessible from all U.S. airports as Miami, is a laid-back, low-key, and – most important of all – cheaper way to do southern Florida. Here are just a few things we love about this beach-y, balmy paradise… Read more
Travelers across the US are starting to dust off their ski poles and practice their knee bends, as resorts in the northeast, midwest, southwest – anywhere, really, where there’s fresh powder to be had – prepare to open for the season. But for most of us, skiing is only half the fun. The rest of the trip (finding cozy lodges to sip hot chocolate, visiting local shops and galleries, or maybe even stopping in at a ‘cowboy bar’) should be every bit as memorable as the time you spend on the trails. Below, a few recommendations for towns that provide a quiet setting for your alpine getaway, and with lower prices to boot, could be a better deal than larger resorts in better-known areas.
Hanover, New Hampshire (above)
On your way to or from the Dartmouth Skiway, set aside some time to enjoy the cultural offerings of the college town of Hanover, 20 minutes to the south. Visit the Hood Museum contemporary art center where interning Dartmouth students help to curate the frequently changing exhibits – current exhibits feature Picasso and Fan Tchunpi. The Hanover Inn, which occupies a building dating from 1780 and overlooks Dartmouth Green, is connected to the Hood Museum via a passageway and is home to a farm-to-table restaurant named PINE, created by celebrity Boston chef, (and James Beard award winner) Michael Schlow.
Across the green, in the college’s Baker library, is the Epic of American Civilization, one Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco’s three grand frescoes in the United States (the others are in California and New York City.) Read more
Saratoga Springs is best-known for its thoroughbred horse racing track; the oldest in the country. But what if you find yourself in this small upstate New York City outside of racing season? Well, we think you’ll be in for a treat: the crowds will be gone, the prices will be lower, and all of Saratoga Springs’ lesser-known attractions will all still be available.
Before the thoroughbreds arrived in town, Saratoga Springs drew visitors who wanted to reap the benefits of the town’s naturally carbonated spring waters. “Taking the waters” is still believed to have a number of healing benefits: stress reduction and an increased red cell blood count, to name just two.
You can pick up a brochure that maps out each of the springs’ locations and healing properties from the Saratoga Springs Visitors Center (or print it out from here). Trent Millet, who calls himself the Saratoga Water Witch, offers independent tours of the eight springs located in the 2,300-acre Spa State Natural Park. The tour leaves from the Roosevelt Spa, a WPA-era bathhouse in the park, on Saturdays at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and on Sundays at 10 a.m, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The tour is donation based, meaning you give what you can. There’s usually a $6 vehicle entrance fee for the state park but, if you say you’re coming in to collect water, the fee is often waived.
Singapore may have a hard time competing with US cities like Chicago, Miami, Portland, and NYC when it comes to “up-and-coming hotel neighborhoods,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great new hotels to be found. This fall, a spate of new 4-star and upscale properties hits the market, marking the city’s astonishing growth and development over the past few months, and making it hard to walk a few blocks without running into some new property rising up out of the ground. The trick, of course, is finding a way to sift through all the new-ness until you end up with a bargain.
Luckily, that isn’t hard to do. Despite the fact that Singapore is home to a few of the world’s most lavish (and, by definition, priciest) hotels, the newer properties manage to strike a balance between high-design and affordability. Take the Amoy Hotel (pictured above), for example, which sits right around the corner from Raffles Place – one of the busiest stops on Singapore’s MRT subway line. The brand new, 37-room hotel combines a sleek, modern aesthetic with influences from the Chinatown neighborhood that surrounds it (the building was in fact a former “shop house”). Inside, guests can choose between a “cosy” single room (compact spaces with replica wooden ceiling beams, large vanity mirrors, and full minibar) or a “deluxe” double room (slightly larger spaces with French double doors). Scheduled to open at end of 2013. Read more
Palm Springs has long been on southern Californians’ radar as a quick, hassle-free getaway, with well-documented visits from Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Audrey Hepburn in the 50s and 60s lending the place a splashy, old Hollywood allure. Even now, its appeal remains intact, with a recent outcrop of new hotels catering to fun-loving crowds from LA, New York, and other party capitals.
What we most love about Palm Springs, however, isn’t its scenery or its cool-kid status, but the way it manages to appeal to such a wide range of travelers. Whether you’re showing up to play golf, go to a pool party, browse contemporary art, tour mid-century modernist houses, ride the aerial tram, or just sit by the pool and doze, Palm Springs is ready to receive you with open arms. Read more
It’s Vegas, baby. And if that calls to mind the flashing marquee signs, smoke-filled hotel lobbies, and sequin-clad showgirls so often portrayed in the movies, well… that’s about right. As recently as last week, the city announced a two-year residency by the pop princess herself, Britney Spears – yet another vice just waiting to tempt travelers into this unadulterated, high-spectacle city.
But for those needing a break from all the sin, there are options.
This month, MGM Grand, quadruples the number of its “Stay Well” rooms, essentially taking over the entire 14th floor of the main tower with a special tier of health-focused rooms. There are 17 amenities in total, including HEPA-standard air purification to remove allergens and toxins from the air; light therapy to help you fall asleep and wake up according to your body’s internal clock; vitamin C-infused shower water to give you healthier hair and skin; and even an educational welcome video from Deepak Chopra. The cost for all this wellness? A $30 per night upgrade on your basic rate.
We had to wonder, what are some other sin-free indulgences travelers can make during a stay in Las Vegas? Read more
It wasn’t long ago that the Arab Spring took hold of Tunisia. Now, the country is trying to put its unstable past behind it. With a 29 percent increase in visitors from the UK since 2012, Tunisia is looking forward the return of tourists to its beaches, classical ruins, and mosques. And while the country borders a region that’s still isn’t recommended for leisure travelers — it shares an eastern border with Libya and a western border with Algeria — Tunisia itself is safe for ambitious and seasoned travelers (more on that below).
Aside from the political state of its neighbors, there are lots reasons to make the journey to this part of North Africa: incredible white sand beaches along the Mediterranean, a rich Berber culture, and plenty of budget options. Now that the country is trying to lure visitors back to its hotels and resorts, here’s how to see the best of Tunisia… Read more
Time to warm up the brass bands, stretch your beer gut, and dust off your best lederhosen or dirndl, for it is time, once again for Oktoberfest. We could tell you about the beer, the chicken dance, the pork knuckles, and the oom-pah bands, but instead we’d like to focus on what to do in Munich after you’ve drunk yourself silly. Read more
As 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
Nine months out of the year, Caribbean islands are a postcard-ready panorama of blue skies, swaying palm trees, and cocktail-sipping, hammock-lounging bliss. But from September to November (as in, right now), they are associated with another thing: hurricanes. As we speak, reports are showing that the season’s first tropical storms are already forming.
But for those willing to roll the dice, hurricane season can also yield up some incredible bargains. Flights, cruises, and hotels often go for a fraction of their peak season rates, at a time when most travelers are too spooked by the thought of having their trip washed, blown, or flooded down the drain.
And if you’re worried about showing up to a ghost town, rest assured: of the 25 million tourists who visited the Caribbean in 2012, roughly a fifth of them were brave enough to travel between September and November, the peak of hurricane season.
To give you a head start, we logged onto Expedia and CheapCaribbean and chose some hotel-and-flight packages for a range of dates in late October and mid-November. All packages are priced per-person, based on double occupancy, with flights from Miami. Other departure cities are usually available for more.
Clearly, none of the following destinations can provide guarantees on anything weather-related (otherwise they wouldn’t be offering the deals in the first place!). But with prices this low, you can afford to have your trip cancelled and still have extra cash lying around to re-book the whole thing from scratch. Now, get out those bathing suits! Read more
After spending five days in Iceland, I can’t understand what took me so long to visit. The country is a mere five-hour flight from New York (like flying to California) but it’s a world away in terms of the scale of its nature adventures. Iceland is truly an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
Reykjavik is a small, charming city with one main street, a cute harbor, excellent restaurants, and a handful of city sights to explore, like the new opera house. But if you want to get the best of Iceland, the prime sightseeing is outside of town. I hadn’t planned any excursions in advance so I had to work fast and learn about what I needed to see.
I short-listed a few activities after asking fellow hotel guests what they recommended. Here’s what I did: Read more
What are you doing between now and December 19? If your answer is ‘nothing,’ you may want to consider a trip to the Caribbean; specifically, Anguilla, where the ultra-luxe Viceroy Anguilla recently unveiled a snazzy new package that offers partial reimbursement on the cost of your flight. Seriously. By booking five nights at a four- or five-bedroom villa, guests will be eligible to receive airfare compensation of up to $1,000 or $2,000, respectively. Read more
Don’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
Travelers in Eastern Europe have trodden the same paths through Prague, Krakow, and Budapest for years. But further east lies the majestic city of Bucharest, home to almost 2 million people, and the capital of dark, moody Romania. Recently, the country has begun capitalizing on its natural appeal to vampire fans. (Bram Stoker famously captured the rugged Transylvanian countryside in his 1942 classic, Dracula).
For those seeking something beyond blood-sucker folklore and empty castles, Romania is a super-cheap way to enjoy a slice of the Balkan cultural pie. And right in the heart of the country, its quintessentially European capital blends eclectic architecture; narrow, pub-lined alleys; and easy access to scenic rural destinations like Sibiu and Brasov.
1. Music-lovers will find plenty to do: frequent recitals are held at the Romanian Aethenaeum (pictured above), an awe-inspiring neoclassical concert hall that dates back to 1888. It functions as one of the main venues during the month-long George Enescu Classical Music Festival, held in September (the neighboring Royal Palace Concert Hall also hosts performances), drawing musicians and composers from all over Europe. Ticket prices range from $12 to $25 – a bargain, when you consider there will be performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and, of course, the home team – the Romanian National Radio Orchestra. Read more
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