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The New York City Wine & Food Festival is drawing to a close, but there’s still time left to bid on the charity auction benefiting Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength, an organization that battles childhood hunger. Though items on the auction block range from high end sunglasses to restaurant gift certificates, we’re most excited about the travel packages and hotel stays. Not only are there a spectacular range of destinations from Long Island to Bali, as of this posting all of the current bids are well below the actual value of the prize. Fancy a Cancun family vacation for four at less than one third the cost? How about a Miami golf getaway at 50 percent off? What could be better than a cut-rate luxury vacation where all the proceeds go to a good cause! Just be sure to hurry to get those bids in – the auction ends Friday, October 14 at 5pm EDT.
Here’s a simple way to avoid those pesky airline baggage fees: Don’t pack clothes. Travel to clothing-optional destinations and events is on the rise, as more hotels, resorts, and even cruises are catering to guests who want to strip down. But the trend goes beyond aging hippies lounging around ’70s-style campsites or risqué resorts in the Caribbean: Nudist vacations are increasingly popular among all types of travelers, in some of the most unexpected places. Reasons for the uptick, according to the American Association of Nude Recreation: Nude vacationing is more relaxing, relieves stress, and offers travelers a welcome respite from the (fully-clothed) crowds.
Check out our new Top 10 Nude Vacations, (un)covering hotspots from Vegas to the Blue Lagoon, along with some bare facts about clothing-optional travel. You can also take a (safe-for-work) peek at the destinations with our Top 10 Nude Vacations slideshow. So grab a towel and get ready to let it all hang out – just make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, cruises, vacation packages, and other travel deals.
File this one under the “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” category. Executive International runs two “Crack of Noon” tours for travelers who want the perks of an organized bus trip (low-stress, knowledgeable guides, little planning) without the breakneck pace and pre-dawn wake-up calls of traditional coach packages. Last fall’s inaugural visit to Italy (with stops in Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Bologna, Modena, and Venice) was so popular that the California-based company launched a “Crack of Noon France” option that will tour Paris, Provence, Aix-en-Provence, and the French Riviera this fall. The 12 and 11-night trips, respectively, cap out at 24 people and focus on mixing up scheduled tourist activities with local eats, delicious drinks, and, of course, a solid night’s rest (the earliest wake-up call for either tour is 8:45 a.m.). The best promise of all: You’ll never hear the phrase “Bags out by 6 a.m.” again. Hurry, though. Booking ends June 30, and only two trips are scheduled this fall (France, Sept. 22 – Oct. 3, and Italy, Oct. 6 – 18).
Dreaming of a Mediterranean getaway? Luxury tour operators Abercrombie & Kent recently added seven villas on the Greek isle of Mykonos to their collection of lavish European rentals. These spacious, white-washed homes-away-from-home range from three to five bedrooms, and all offer stunning views of the turquoise Aegean Sea. With private pools, outdoor barbecues, and modern conveniences like Wi-Fi there may be no need to leave your new abode, but the island’s sandy beaches and picturesque towns are never too far away. As with any A&K rental, guests can opt for just the villa or go for the full package, which includes an introductory tour of the neighborhood, arrival dinner, daily maid service, and an A&K representative on-call for the duration of their stay. The villas go for $9,000 to $32,000 per week. To book, visit akvillas.com.
For more trip-planning information, see our Mykonos Travel Guide.
With its famously mesmerizing scenery and historic roots, it’s no wonder Tuscany figures prominently in The Twilight Saga: New Moon – the hit movie based on Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling vampire love story. Now, both have come to life (afterlife?) in a four day Twilight Tour from Select Italy that uncovers the enigmatic Tuscan settings of the book and film. Starting at $953 per person, the trip includes multiple walking tours that take traveling Twihards to all of New Moon’s most recognizable Italian sites. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll wander the onscreen backdrops of Volterra and Montepulciano and as well as locales frequented by actors Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and the other members of the New Moon cast in “real life.” Read more
No visit to Chicago is complete without sampling a thick, buttery slice of deep-dish pizza, slathered with chunks of rich tomato sauce and layers upon layers of melted mozzarella cheese. The city is famous for its signature pizza style (invented in 1943 by Pizzeria Uno) – and has since spawned some of the best pizzerias in the world. In the past, travelers looking to savor the city’s best in just a few short days were left to their own devices (and guidebooks) to pick which pie to try. Now, foodies and pizza freaks alike can taste all of the best in a single day on Chicago’s first official pizza tours. Read more
Just a week after Mother Nature unleashed a whopping 8.8-magnitude tremor onto south-central Chile (one of the largest ever recorded), leaving nearly 800 dead, thousands more homeless, and entire cities in the Maule region, like Concepcion, without electricity or running water, the country is functioning and open to tourists. Despite continuing aftershocks, Turismo Chile announced that most of the country’s major tourist attractions – Patagonia, the Atacama Desert, Easter Island – remain accessible, having escaped with little or no damage, and many hotels, even in affected areas like Santiago, continue to operate with only minor interruptions. Read more
One can imagine that Mexico City bid farewell to 2009 with considerable relief. The bad economy coupled with spurts of regional violence kept visitors away early on, and in April, when the city became ground zero of the H1N1 pandemic, tourism fell off a cliff.
Fast-forward to the new year. In December, Mexico City became the first city in Latin America to legalize gay marriage and same-sex couple adoption. Also, it’s among seven cities worldwide selected by FIFA to broadcast all the 2010 World Cup games live on giant, public screens. Add to that the city’s humming design scene, its affordability, and legions of innovative restaurants, and the only question left is where to bed down.
After a few delays, Las Alcobas opened January 18 in the city’s affluent Polanco district. Designed by Yabu Pushelberg, whose clients include Four Seasons and St. Regis, the hotel is both modern and homey. Its 35 rooms are softened with hand-knotted rugs and contemporary Mexican art. At the top end are three penthouse suites with wraparound terraces. A small spa grants relief from the urban bustle. Near the hotel, guests can shop Avenida Presidente Masaryk, visit the modern art museum, and dine at the city’s top tables, all without hailing a cab (the traffic has yet to improve). From $415/night; lasalcobas.com
Find more exciting hotels in our Mexico City Travel Guide.
From the February/March 2010 issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine.
Theater buffs and foodies alike better hightail-it to New York City this month to take advantage of deep discounts on some of the Big Apple’s best shows and restaurants. Now through February 7 as part of the city’s bi-annual Restaurant Week fete, 260 of the fanciest eats in town are hocking three-course prixe-fixe menus starting at just $24.07 (for lunch) and $35.00 (for dinner). The roster of drool-worthy participants includes Gramercy’s Craftbar, Fig & Olive in the fashionable Meatpacking District, and Smith & Wollensky – Midtown’s prime steakhouse. After indulging your taste buds without breaking the bank, take your leftover cash to the theater. NYC & Co., the city’s marketing and tourism organization, is hocking two-for-one tickets to over 20 different Off-Broadway shows running from February 8-28. Read more
The Luxury Italy’s volcanic Aeolian Islands boast stupendous scenery, an unmistakably Mediterranean energy and a colorful history steeped in ancient mythology (Aeolus, god of the wind, was the mythical king of the archipelago, which Odysseus himself is rumored to have roamed). Set a like a strand of sensual pearls between Sicily and the Italian mainland, these seven islands are Mediterranean beauty at its most sublime – but unlike other Italian isles (ahem, Capri), the quiet Aeolians are just far enough off the radar (about a 45-minute flight from Rome) to remain pristine and typically un-crowded, making them popular among vacationing Italians. But this “off-the-beaten-path” status means the logistics of travel between the islands can be tricky. Tour operator Select Italy has set out to connect the dots with style and ease for independent travelers wanting to explore all the islands have to offer. Read more
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