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Admittedly, Amsterdam isn’t top of mind when one thinks of cities ideal for a romantic getaway. And yes, parts of the city are more appropriate for yet another sequel to The Hangover than they are for a sentimental sojourn for two. Yet on a recent visit in April, my third overall, I discovered that the key to finding romance in this small city crisscrossed by canals and bridges, filled with museums, and overrun by bicyclists is to avoid wandering into the Red Light District and to stay in a fabulous hotel (with an equally fabulous restaurant). Here are four luxury properties you should definitely consider – all very different in style and ambience, but perfect for a journey à deux:
Realistically, Earth Day can be celebrated any day when dining out. It’s easy to find eco-friendly eateries around the country that serve sustainable food and embrace environmental business practices – online directories like the Green Restaurant Association (www.dinegreen.com) even provide state-by-state listings.
But many of these restaurants and cafés step it up a notch on Earth Day itself by offering special menu items and discounts, and producing special events and entertainment. On April 22, dine out and do good at these eight locations nationwide.
Red Stag Supper Club: Start the day with breakfast at Minneapolis’ Red Stag Supperclub (www.redstagsupperclub.com), where all money raised from 8am to 12pm benefits the Land Stewardship Project (www.landstewardshipproject.org). Minnesota’s first LEED-certified restaurant will serve up locally-produced and organic ingredients, while the LSP will give brief presentations.
Eco-Cafe: Write your pledge to go green on the chalkboard in front of New Orleans’ Eco-Café (www.ecocafeno.com) and you’ll get a free cup of organic coffee. That Friday, featured menu items – like the soup and salad combo – will be made exclusively with ingredients from Holly Grove Farm, just three miles away.
Our group decided to alternate with either a special place for lunch or for dinner on a given day (but not both in one day).
For places to eat on the mountain, you must go to Findlerhof (pictured above, www.findlerhof.ch) by Heidi and Franz for lunch. It’s very, very hard to find! But go. The food is outstanding. Try the local steak tartare and fish soup.
Also for lunch, go to Zum See (www.zumsee.ch). This old wooden house is marked on the map but, like Findlerhof, it’s easy to miss. The food is incredible. I tried rosti – a local fried potato specialty – with smoked salmon. And be sure to try Swiss wine – the reds are smooth and light. Leave room for an apple strudel.
Like the lottery jackpot winner who suddenly finds himself thrust into the media spotlight, Rhinebeck, NY, a sleepy hamlet on the Hudson River (shown at right; courtesy of Duchess County Tourism) 100 miles north of New York City, has spent the past week-and-a-half as a Google News staple. Is there anyone in America who doesn’t know why? Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton married her long-time beau Marc Mezvinsky on July 31, amid much pomp and secrecy. And now that the secret is out about Rhinebeck’s charms, I thought couples looking for a romantic weekend getaway spot might want to know about its best inns, eateries and attractions. Luckily, I got the “local’s scoop” from some friends who live there. Read more
It was only a few years ago that our our noses turned up (and stomachs too) at the thought of dining in a hotel restaurant. Lucky for all, the tables have turned as empty seats are now filled with guests who flock to make hotel dining reservations and to experience the celebrity chefs and talent. With hotel chefs ranking high among the best amenties, which stays (you may ask) also come with great dining? We’ve found a few to whet your appetite:
In the two years that Chef Jennifer Carroll, chef du cuisine for the 10 Arts Bistro and Lounge by Eric Ripert, was brought to the The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, she has already attracted a solid fanbase. A Philadelphia native, Chef Jennifer’s claim to fame may be as a Top Chef fiinalist last season, but now she’s known and celebrated at 10 Arts Bistro for her 5-course dinner menu and wine pairing. Dish highlights, which always feature seasonal and organic ingredients, include braised pork belly with melon and herb salad; coriander-encrusted Hiramasa with grilled ramps and lime oil; and spring vegetables in dill sauce—which will leave you scraping your plate for more. Guests looking for an other-worldly and gastronomical experience will do well to book the Dine and Unwind package. Promising something of a triple-threat: fabulous city sights, an exquisite hotel stay, and a memorable dining experience the package includes a 5-course dinner for two at 10 Arts and a continental breakfast led by Chef Jennifer. Prices start at $369 per night, exclusive of tax and hotel fee. Rate is based on double occupancy. Reservations are based upon availability and must be made in advance. For more information and to reserve this package, please call (215) 523-8000 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/Philadelphia.
The Kimpton hotel group – with 50 outposts in cities across the country from the new Eventi and Ink48 hotels in New York City to trendy Hotel Monaco in Seattle and Hotel Palomar in Dallas – is offering an array of awesome free perks in honor of summer, from upgrades to tasty treats.
These Summer Playground amenities last through September 10, so there’s plenty of time to take advantage…
Checking into Chicago? How about a gangsta-style stay that pays tribute to Al Capone, America’s most notorious mob boss? Some 63 years after his life of crime, there are hotels, tours—even theater productions that offer an inside glimpse into Capone’s life. With a crime circuit that stretched across Chicago’s North and South sides, Capone carried out his business dealings in some of the city’s top rate hotels.
He first set up shop at the Metropole Hotel before moving his headquarters to the Lexington Hotel’s fifth floor suite (the notorious planning site of the Saint Valentines Day Massacre); survived a lunch of machine gun fire at the Hawthorne Hotel; and was often seen in the barbershop at The Blackstone Hotel (also the site of the first “crime convention” in 1931 overseen by Charles “Lucky” Luciano.) So whether you’re looking for classy Chicago digs or some insight into the man himself—here’s your chance to do both.
Wining and dining through Napa Valley is a classic getaway but this time it’s girls-only. Through July 31, Napa River Inn invites you and your three BFFs to stay two nights at the historic hotel fronting the Napa River, and they will take you around for a day of vineyard tours and tastings, including a picnic lunch, so that your clique can just sit back and relax. Staying in the heart of the city of Napa, you’ll experience the up-and-coming city with its hip Oxbow Market and newly restored Napa River Walk. The cozy inn has a jazz spot that you will have VIP access to, and its two restaurants offer top-rated Napa dining.
THE VALUE: The “Girls Gone Wine” package starts at $199 per person and includes these perks:
Ever since the iPad’s launch, assorted hotels have been rolling out the gadget as an amenity in different forms. At these forward-looking spots, guests are reading the morning paper, previewing rooms before checking in, and booking massages, expeditions, and restaurants using the new gadget.
And now the iPad (and its ilk) have recently popped up at sea. Read more
Instead of another round of blackjack or poker, why not try your hand at cooking up a gourmet meal? Sure you may be losing money at the tables, but you’ll be saving some cash by cooking at your suite‘s fancy kitchen. The latest amenity from The Signature at MGM Grand entices guests to put down the cards and pick up a spatula with 30-minute TV videos called “Signature Dish” —right in the comforts of their suites and finally utilizing those top-of-the-line kitchens—which include Bosch appliances and subzero refridgerators. With step-by-step demonstrations, guests can whip up creations like scallop risotto, baked ziti, and tandoori chicken curry using recipes created by Uday Huja, The Signature’s executive chef. Instead of running out to the grocery store (are there such places in Vegas?!) guests can dial the In-Suite Dining line to purchase a culinary basket that comes preassembled with all the required ingredients (most meals feed a party of four). You’ll feel lucky in no time–especially since the suites come with dishwashers.
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