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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
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
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.
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