Thursday, July 30, 2009

Must Eats

CNN features a weekly collection of snaps through iReport, a user-submitted collection of the week's best foods from around the globe. From the creamy to the sweet to the salty to the tempting, you'll be able to access an interesting group of amateur snaps that will make you want to go on vacation as soon as next week. What's stopping you from booking a trip filled with culinary exploration?

If you're a foodie into generous portions, Spain's the place to be. At many a restaurant and bar, you'll find that you get served plenty to go around (and to be paired with beer or wine). Seafood is a fantastic choice and the base of many a Spanish meal, so look for specialties like cod pil-pil, shellfish, casseroles, bream and squid, baby eels, bean soup, and paella, of course! Try tapas, munch on bread with tomato and oil additions, and sausage cooked up with beans. Sample as much wine as you care to, because variety is king in Spain, and you can experiment with sparkling wines, table wines, Burgundy-type wines, unbottled house wine, and sherry, as well as interesting sweet brandies and great mineral water.

Where to Stay: The Sofitel Madrid Plaza de Espana is an elegant stop to enjoy Spanish cuisine without tossing and turning at night afterwards. With a French air accompanied by Spanish fundamentals, this location provides comfortable and luxurious rooms kitted out with cutting-edge technology. If you're looking to experiment with Spanish food on a business trip, this is an ideal location, but don't rule this place out if you're seeking a leisurely stay in Madrid. The location is utterly convenient, with spots like the Royal Palace and the Golden Art Triangle close by, and—of course—the service is impeccable. If Barcelona is more your thing (or another stop on your Spain tour), the Hotel Arts Barcelona is located right on the beach. Foodies will relish the wine cellar, which offers 400 wines and a skilled sommelier to help you pair your choice with the delicious Mediterranean cuisine. If you'd like to head to a more informal spot, there's a bar and restaurant called Arola, which features cuisine styling of Chef Sergi Arola. When you need to take a break from snacking, the Six Senses Spa awaits for your massage and mask.

If you go to France and don't indulge, you are missing out. Not only do the French gather around the table for hours enjoying quality food, but they provide it paired with wonderful wine. The French eat more cheese than any other country in the world, totaling about 45 lbs. per person. With a soft Camembert and a fantastic red, you could pass the time quite comfortably, but you certainly don't have to. Much like in Spain, the traditional foods of France can vary quite a lot between regions, from Confit de Canard to Cotriade, a fish stew from Brittany. French salads are made with the freshest of ingredients, and are extremely tempting on their own, but you'll have to leave some room for the nut tart and other pastries that can grace the table post-dinner.

Where to Stay: When you've got so much to do and so little time to see it all, you need to stay somewhere with an advantageous location. Restaurants need to be tried, cafes need to be sat in, and wineries must be explored: don't let your hotel drag you down! The Four Seasons Hotel George V has a royal-studded past and opened in 1928 in honor of George V of England, the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth. After a two-year renovation following its acquisition by Saudi Prince Al Waleed, the hotel was opened as a Four Seasons location, providing guests with an incomparable level of service. Relax in your room while digesting your tasty meal, and take in all the well-upholstered comfort: it's amazing. In Nice, the Hotel La Perouse is a fine choice, with breathtaking views of the Baie des Anges and a welcoming ambiance. With a provincial décor and comfortable furnishings, you'll find that your travel-weary self just melts away.

Make that list of must-eats and get ready to travel!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Dose of Bali Does Wonders

Are you the type who comes back from vacation feeling more tired than when you left? It may be time to employ a few techniques for a more restful sleep. Sometimes, hotel beds can get you tossing and turning (especially if you don't spring for a luxury hotel), and trying to pack in as many activities as possible can drag you down. If you don't have time to sit around by the pool to recharge, there are other ways to relieve the pressure of back-to-back tourism sessions, a mountain of pamphlets, and trying new and exotic cuisines.

Things to Avoid On and Off Vacation

*Avoid the 10 o'clock news. Watching too much TV before you go to bed can really affect your rest. Watching television on money matters and disturbing events can keep you tossing and turning, and experts have recommended that we watch sitcoms to help lower our blood pressure and respiratory rate instead.

*Planning the to-do list. This can definitely apply to both vacation and day-to-day routines. Experts say that it's important to do a “data dump” post-dinner so that you won't have any trouble getting to sleep. While many of us only have time to ourselves as we fall asleep, it's best not to spend too much time thinking about what you're going to do the next day.

*Drinking too much wine to unwind. Wine can calm you down temporarily, but it will later act as a stimulant as it is broken down by the body. Instead, imagine yourself relaxing on a warm beach for the next day on your Bali vacation, or remember your last vacation to a tropical location.

Bali's been called the “Morning of the World,” the “Island of the Gods,” and the “Last Paradise on Earth.” Not only can you catch their amazing festivals and naturally beautiful ocean shores, but you can explore the vast differences between South Bali, Mount Agung, West Bali, and Central Bali. While many tourists head straight for the beach areas of Sanur, Nusa Dua, and Kuta, there's plenty more to explore than you could ever imagine. You can catch amazing sunsets while you surf, but the night doesn't stop there if you are up for Bali exploration. Sightseers can visit shops, restaurants, and pubs open late, while real night lovers can check out Kuta's growing meetings of the younger night-loving set. Moving onwards to Central Bali, you'll be able to purchase handicrafts like woodcarvings and relief artwork, especially in Ubud, which also houses three major museums. Antiquities are easily found in Pejeng, as well as special art pieces and temples along the way like Goa Gaja and Pura Agung Batan Bingin. For an exploration into the quieter side of Bali, drive through Tabanan Regency in the west, where you won't see anything but paddy fields.

Wondering where to stay in Bali, especially if you're planning on exploring all that Bali has to offer? The farther the location is from home, and how different the culture is, you might like to have some creature comforts from home. The Four Seasons Hotel at Sayan overlooks the Ayung River and one of Bali's most sacred valleys, but it features impressive suites, one- and two-bedroom villas and the special Sayan Villa, a three bedroom villa. The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay has a total of 147 villas, each one over 2,100 square feet. You can soak in a private plunge pool at your villa and wander about through the separate areas for resting, dining, and socializing. If you're going to travel around Bali on an extended vacation, you can alternate a stay at the Four Seasons with a time at COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri, which is an alternative health retreat based at a location where the spring water is considered sacred.

With all of these Bali attractions to explore, you'll probably sleep heavily at night, anyway-- but if you don't, you'll have these tips to fall back on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Your Flights Now--Or Drive!

Did you know that the airline industry is continuing to evolve, especially now that they are facing their slow season? Earning reports for April through June this week showed airlines are doing their best to raise revenues, which means that there will be fewer nonstop flights and less convenient travel options coming up soon. In fact, MSNBC hinted that there could be higher ticket prices and fees, while capacity gets reduced all around. This a perfect excuse to use a travel agency—they'll find the best deals for you, and fast! If you can't book in advance and take hold of fleeting deals, you'll definitely need to enlist professional assistance to help you get a good deal, and on more than one vacation. Even if you don't fly, you can get a deal on a rental car, a hotel booking, and on all different types of complimentary perks available through partnerships and deals.

Cutbacks for Business Travelers
Are you the type of traveler who needs to arrive somewhere at a certain time? You'll be hit the hardest with new trip rerouting, layovers, and limited service, so you'll need to plan in advance to arrive at your destination with ease. The following cutbacks will be in effect this fall:

Southwest: Southwest will be eliminating service as of November 1st from Columbus, Ohio, to Philadelphia, and from Oakland, California, to Nashville, Tennessee.

Delta: Delta Air Lines will be suspending service from Atlanta to Shanghai and Seoul, and from Cincinnati, Ohio to London (Gatwick) and Frankfurt.

American Airlines: Affiliate American Eagle will be ending nonstop service in St. Louis to Charlotte, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Cedar Rapids, and Springfield-Branson, Missouri. On November 19th, non-stop service will also stop running from St. Louis to Las Vegas and San Diego.

US Airways Group: US Airways will be eliminating service between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Services from Philly to Milan, Brussels, Belgium, and Zurich will be suspended until March 2010.

Despite the negative-sounding news, US Airways chief Doug Parker made things sound slightly upbeat in a recent address. Sales on fares might continue into fall, and Parker admitted that leisure travel bookings have increased along with business traveler bookings in some areas. If all this sounds confusing to you, perhaps takign a drive to a nearby luxury hotel is more your style—and there are plenty of deals to be had at! If you click on What a Hotel!'s Specials page, you'll find nights completely free with a certain number of nights booked, including places like the Four Seasons Resort Aviara (third night free), and the Four Seasons New York (third night free). The St. Regis Hotel New York even has a deal right now where you can book a second night at the hotel for only $4 when you book a suite at the regular for the first night. There are additional deals available in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Washington, New Mexico, and Texas, for example, so it's definitely worth checking out.

Are you going to be saving up for a fall trip? Will you go the road route, or book your flight now to save?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bangkok Luxury Hotels

Earlier this year, Kurt Wachtveitl, the General Manager at Bangkok's famed Oriental hotel for over forty years, announced his retirement. Since Thailand is such a life-changing experience for many a tourist, it's common for people to come home with plenty of tales. But have you ever wondered about hotel staff, and how many stories they have of the daring, the interesting, and the just plain strange? After over four decades of work transforming the riverside hotel into one of the best in Bangkok—he still hasn't had enough of the excitement! Even though Wachtveitl said he was planning on traveling in South America, he hasn't written off going back to the industry after he's finished his extended vacation. With people like this working in the hospitality industry, you can be sure that your stay in Bangkok--and many other locations all over the world--will be unforgettable.

The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is a breathtaking location for tourists looking for a restful, modern spot, and its legendary reputation and location are virtually unparalleled—except by the Four Seasons Bangkok and Peninsula Bangkok, that is. Combining traditional Thai architecture with wonderfully advanced tech additions and amenities, you won't miss home for a second at the Four Seasons Bangkok. Enjoy gracious hospitality and beautiful indoor furnishings that will make you want to stay in your hotel (if there wasn't so much to do outside, that is). With seven different places to enjoy international cuisine, it's impossible that you'll feel unfulfilled when you stay at this Four Seasons location, especially because it offers Exclusive Complimentary Perks through Don't forget to make a stop at the fitness center and check out the lotus ponds and waterfall.

The Peninsula Bangkok has a reputation as one of Bangkok's best hotels, and it has scooped up awards from the best of the best in the travel world, including Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast. Located near plenty of tourist attractions, as well as the business area of Bangkok, it's a good place to grab a panoramic view while being close to transportation hubs. Take your pick, but no matter what you select, you simply can't be disappointed.

While the hotels might be out-of-this-world, Thailand is a great place to examine for cultural attractions, colorful sights, and fun shopping excursions. Wondering where you should go when you are in Thailand? Here are some of the top spots.

Phra Nakorn
Brave the crowds to visit one of the most popular spots in Bangkok. This old city, located on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River, houses historical architecture like the Golden Mount and Wat Pho, as well as specialty spots like the Museum of the Department of Forensic Medicine, right across the river. Sanam Luang is a great green spot in the city for a lush break, and one of the only in this area.

Banglampoo and Thewet
Pick up affordable trinkets near Khao San Road and find plenty of restaurants serving up what can only be considered hot 'n' cheap food. Of course, if you'll be around at night, this spot delivers hot nightspots and bars for the night owls among us.

Many of the functional canals in Bangkok are located in this area, which is found west of the Chao Praya River. You can easily book a tour to explore these "klongs," or canals, and the tours usually swing by museums and other sites.

With so much to do in Thailand, drawing people from everywhere, you might just need to make more than one trip to Bangkok--and beyond!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Four Seasons Punta Mita

Plenty a celebrity has come to Four Seasons Punta Mita to hang out, soak up some sun, and give their Spanish a whirl. If you'd like to enjoy the high life like Jennifer Aniston does when she goes to Four Seasons Punta Mita, you might want to take a look at current deals running right now.

While you can vacation like a star, you won't have to pay like one-- the Four Seasons Punta Mita has a couple of amazing deals for guests booking through

You can get either get a Third Night Free OR if you decide to stay for four nights instead, you'll receive a resort credit for $1234 (which will be deducted at check-out)! You can even apply this credit to you rroom rate. And in either case you get the Exclusive Complimentary Perks, combined! This is because Lorraine Travel (which owns WhataHotel!) is a Four Seasons preferred partner - one of only about 50 in the world!

If you like what you hear, keep reading: The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is located in a great western coastal location, meaning that it's warm and relaxed year-round. Located less than an hour from Puerto Vallarta, the resort attracts a variety of interesting local animals and birds as part of a nature reserve stretching for acres upon acres. Snorkeling is one of the most popular things to do at this stunning resort location, but you can easily go for a game of golf, a fascinating nature walk, or just some sightseeing with a camera. Besides the magnificence of Punta Mita's resort location, there's plenty to do near this Mexican spot. The area is well-known not only for its beaches, but its rich Mexican culture and its incredible wooded regions. If you spend enough time around this area, you just may meet up with a surfer who moved to the area in the 1960s, when Punta Mita was discovered as a prime surf spot.

Since Punta Mita's reserve area is owned in entirety by Four Seasons, you'll feel rested, happy, and safe as you enjoy Mexico—and pampered, of course. This unique oceanside location is just the tip of the iceberg, because the rooms and grounds are carefully planned for ultimate comfort. You'll find plenty of high-tech additions in your hotel room (which can be either a suite, a private residence, or a traditional guest room), and personal comfort touches include famous Four Seasons comfortable beds, in-room safes, and big closets, plus a deep bathtub and a glass-enclosed shower.

Saving quite a bit on a four-day stay will make every amenity at the Four Seasons Punta Mita twice as luxurious. What's stopping you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Montreal Offers European Flair

If you're looking for a piece of European charm closer to home, you might want to try Montreal, Canada your next time around, which has plenty of culinary delights as well as a thriving cafe culture—but without those Euros to trip you up. Actually an island on the St. Lawrence River, the Canadian city has held on rather fiercely to both a way of life and a language since 1642, which is when the first French settlers arrived in the area to explore the new terrain while trapping furs. Your first stop in this old city? Old Montreal is a good bet, because it provides plenty of diversion with Montreal's special happy tour, called “cinq a sept,” while delivering that essential Old World vibe in spades.

How to Get Around
Montreal does have a metro, so it's easy to get around if you happen to be traveling there in the wintertime. For people visiting from southern States or from a warmer country altogether, the winter can be surprising, so bundle up if that trip comes next season. Since plenty of lines are also connected to Montreal's underground shopping city, it's easy to disappear beneath snow, sleet, and rain for an entire day if you wish.

Old Montreal is best traveled by foot, and with a camera at that. Pick up a walking map and get exploring every nook and cranny, or you can easily prepare in advance by visiting the city's website for an easy guide map for a walking tour.

Where to Stay
The Loews Hotel Vogue is a great place for gastronomists and the food curious alike to revel in some hearty Montreal fare. Located in the “Paris of Canada,” this hotel has a hip vibe and a close proximity to bars, brasseries, outdoor eating areas, and places with fine dining experiences that will please people from anywhere in the world. After a night out wining and dining, it won't take much cajoling to sink down into soft sheets and waltz into a oversized bathroom for a hot soak to take off the chill (or cut down on the heat, depending on the time of the year).

If you are seeking the uber-traditional, there's always the Hotel Le St. James, which offers true European grandeur and rooms kitted out with plenty of modern technology. With a distinctive décor and a wonderful ambiance, this is another smart choice to enjoy a little European flair right in nearby Canada.

Seasonal Festivities
Should you be planning your vacation in advance, there's always early summer parties to make Montreal stand out from the crowd. Not only do they host a special fireworks festival complete with musical accompaniment, but the Montreal International Jazz Festival has a free concert complete with notable artists and acts, and free outdoor shows. The Just for Laughs festival is usually scheduled at the end of July, and it runs through July 26th.

Now will you choose winter or summer for your Montreal getaway?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wonder the World

In 2007, the New Seven Wonders of the World were named after an extensive voting process, after about 100 million votes were cast. It's now time for the New 7 Wonders of Nature voting to get underway, but don't get too excited: the decision won't be made until 2011! There's already a Facebook page with 77,000+ fans, a Twitter account (2,130 followers), and nearly 300 YouTube videos dedicated to an assortment of natural sites around the world—prior to the 28 semifinalists being named for the voting to begin.

Campaigning continues at a frenetic pace, and we're all curious why some natural wonders like Victoria Falls and the Serengeti seemed missing from the list. Maybe it will make sense when the winners come to surface in 2011, but until then, we're planning on visiting the New Wonders named in '07 to kick things off.

Great Wall of China
The Great Wall is a tourist attraction for many a vacationer in China. First built in 7th century B.C. and extending for 4,000 miles westward, the Great Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited by countless numbers of tourists every year. The Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski is often described as an architectural museum, but even if it weren't, you'd definitely stay here anyway: the location is perfect. You get to stay in the Chinese countryside, but in supreme comfort—you can examine the rolling land outside your room through floor-to-season windows.

Petra is considered Jordan's most valuable treasure, and the rose-red world wonder must be seen to be believed. The city is massive, dusty-pink, and dwarfing, and you can easily visit it on a day trip from a comfortable stay in a hotel like the Four Seasons Amman, which is furnished in comfortable European décor and familiar amenities to any tourist. Loll in the king-sized bed and toss about the king-sized pillows for a luxury experience before your hike—and then don't forget your hat on the hike.

Christ the Redeemer
Ahhh... Rio. Not only can you hike up the trail to this gigantic statue looking out over Rio de Janeiro, but you can hire a helicopter and guide to take you up and around the stunning site for around $300 an hour (not bad if you're splitting the price). When in Rio, stay at one of the best luxury hotels in Rio.

Curious about other new wonders? The list included:
  • Machu Picchu
  • Chichen Itza
  • Roman Colosseum
  • Taj Mahal
  • Great Pyramid (Honorary Candidate)
Where will you be going?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Forget the “Staycation”

Have you been reading for the second season now about why a staycation might be the ticket for summer travel? If you're looking for a real rest, one that will leave you feeling energetic and ready to tackle work, you probably know that spending time at home away from the boss is less than effective. Since there are so many great deals running for the rest of 2009, this is a smart time to book a short vacation and save. Forget the staycation and go for a “real” vacation--one that counts.

Stick Closer to Home, Not at Home
Staying nearby is a genius idea when it comes to saving money for vacations, but you don't need to stay in town. There are so many local drives for tourists to take to nearby spots (remember our Six-Figure Towns?), so you won't need to splash out on airfare if you don't want to do so. If you have a slightly larger budget, you've got to ask about last-minute airfare deals, because you might just be surprised. Nothing beats the feeling of having saved bundles on a vacation!

Canada and the Caribbean are both smart places to vacation if you need to take a short break. Montreal lends the magic and elegance of Europe to an area of closer proximity to the States, and you can find lots of old glamour hotels with beautiful rooms and great amenities for every guest. With sand and surf in the Caribbean, and the Bahamas being located extremely close to Florida, you have a chance to soak up the sun somewhere exotic—and still save money! Two great resorts on Paradise Island in Nassau include The Cove Atlantis, and One&Only Ocean Club.

Don't Forget to Look Up
When we think about saving money on vacations, we might picture budget hotels or staying at home. Did you know that luxury properties are currently slashing prices on rooms or offering added value.'s features some of the best hotels & resorts on the planet, most of which offer guests who book across the site Exclusive Complimentary Perks. You certainly can't find that on any of the popular search sites.

Some of WhataHotel!'s best deals running right now can be accessed on their “Specials” page, which highlights all of their limited-time deals. You can get a third night free, for example, at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, or you can claim a $1234 credit if you choose to stay at Four Seasons, Punta Mita, at which the Exclusive Complimentary Perks can be combined by booking across For all the specials that beat out a staycation, just check out the luxury hotel Specials .

Forget that staycation, and go somewhere you'll never forget—for less!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Six Figure Towns

The “six-figure” towns that draw a wealthy crowd aren't at all what we might imagine! From Connecticut to Illinois, they are hardly the big, sleek towns you picture, instead being mostly the type of sleepy spots you'd find dotted around America (with a few more Old and New Money types around, of course). If you're looking for a town that's perfect for sightseeing, why not visit towns with plenty of character and things to do? You'll be able to wander around for a day, pick up a souvenir or two, and take plenty of pictures of idyllic farms and fields, manicured homes and yards, and even a winding stone wall if your stop is in New England. Certainly those U.S. towns with the highest density of rich professionals can't be bad, and it's up to you to see a part of America that many other tourists miss!

Western Springs, Illinois
Western Springs is a wealthy suburb of Chicago, formed by Quaker settlements that turned a community into a special village now favored by doctors, engineers, and lawyers. While the streets were once filled with old-fashioned Victorian homes, they are now partly replaced with new luxury homes. This well-known Illinois suburb boasts several parks, country clubs, and a theatre school, and is know as a “playground of the rich.”

If you're planning on stopping by this town, try staying in Chicago and making your trip to Western Springs a special outing. The Four Seasons Chicago is located in a 66-story building on Michigan Avene, and it happens to feature plenty of shopping spots downstairs like Bloomingdale's and Gucci. With quiet, neutral interiors and comforting amenities, you might not want to leave your room, but if you do, there's an indoor pool and full-service spa waiting for you--as well as Western Springs, of course.

Redding, Connecticut
Mark Twain reportedly commented on the beauty of Redding, Connecticut, and he's just one of many notable individuals to have made a home there. Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame as well as director Barry Levinson are also area celebrities of note. Because Redding is closely connected to Manhattan, Stamford, and Westchester Country, many people who have commuting necessities can make this green and gorgeous place a home (or second home).

If you plan to drive out to Redding one day while staying in Manhattan, why not plan a special city getaway to contrast with your vacationing in the countryside? The Mark New York will open this month, in July '09, and occupies a special Art Deco building on a leafy New York City street. The Four Seasons New York is yet another fabulous option, with hundreds of rooms with a special view of the city. They don't just have a fantastic spa, but they also provide amazing service for every tourist.

Which rich towns will you be headed to?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Security Hits a High in Indonesia

President Arroyo of the Philippines has urged country officials to increase security measures following bombings on Friday in Indonesia. After the Ritz Carlton Jakarta and Marriott Hotel were targeted in a bombing thought to be orchestrated by terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, governments worldwide have begun to ask the hotel industry to increase security measures and prevent occurrences like this in other countries. In addition, Deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo commented that the public could lend a hand to intensify security measures, especially if members of the public alert authorities to potential terrorist activity. “It is also good warning to the private [sector] to be prepared on their own in terms of security,” added Fajardo, saying that the private sector and the government need to cooperate. With these added security measures in countries we enjoy visiting, we'll soon be traveling with more confidence.

Taking an Island Vacation: Maldives
If you'd like to take a vacation somewhere gorgeous, with crystal-blue waters and sandy soil all around, you might like to go to the Maldives. With tourist huts standing up right in the water and excellent service at all your chosen locations, you can't go wrong. Better yet, many of the hotel spots have a special deal with WhataHotel!, so you can save on your bookings. One of the top tourist spots in the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, which is located on the exotic and dreamy Emboodhu Finolhu Island, located in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives. Once known as “Three Coconut Island,” the area is positively stuffed with lush flora and is found just 8 kilometers from Male International Airport, about 15 minutes by speedboat. And we bet you thought it was tucked off in a hard-to-reach corner! Another similar option is the Conrad Maldives Rangali, which is set on two private islands near both reef and white sand. Doesn't it sound delicious? You can take your pick of special accommodations (they have 8 categories of villas) and visit one of the 21 luxurious spa water villas for a break. With the Exclusive Complimentary Perks in place and your arrival by seaplane, you'll be feeling ultra-glam and relaxed in no time.

Your Getaway into Nearby Paradise: Dominican Republic
If you need somewhere closer, the Dominican Republic is a smart choice. Casa de Campo is located on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, and it even has the top-ranked golf course in the Caribbean located close by. The hotel has 300 spacious rooms and suites, as well as 150 villa homes, and it is decorated in a modern, yet elegant, Caribbean style to suit every tourist who passes through. Enjoy the amenities as well as your terrace overlooking the gardens! For a full oceanside spa-style experience, the Sivory Punta Cana is for you. It offers an exclusive number of suites, being the only member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is sure to please. Browse their extensive wine list, and make an appointment in their exclusive spa, while taking in their timeless, stylish decorations from Europe and Indonesia. You'll surely dine well here, with three popular restaurants found right there on the property.

With improved security measures worldwide, and plenty of places to visit, you'll be headed off to your own luxury vacation in no time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Best Hotel Pools

Those of us who regularly stay at luxury hotels are accustomed to seeing pools of the caliber we recently uncovered in an article of the "Most Amazing Hotel Pools". In fact, some of the pools mentioned in the article are at properties one will find in our collection at

But for those who haven't stayed at their fair share of luxury hotels & resorts we'll cite a couple where one can get to-die-for scenery, roving poolside waiters, and that infinity pool scenario. So here we go—it's time for a dip, some sunning, some playing, and some rejuvenating! Isn't it about time?

Park Hyatt Tokyo
If you like star style, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is for you. Bill Murray took a swim in this pool in “Lost in Translation,” but that's not all that draws the tourists for more than one swim during their stay. The swimming pool in this quality hotel is located on the 47th floor and affords some of the most beautiful poolside views in the world. Not only will you see the glittering buildings of Tokyo, but you will also see far-off Mount Fuji looking over the city. Steel and glass pyramids add plenty of natural light to the already stunning space, and just when you think they can't surprise you more, you can go to the pool at night and see one of the most beautiful views of city skyscrapers in the world. What about the hotel itself? The ultra-modern location is located in West Shinjuku on the 39th to 52nd floors of Kenzo Tange's Shinjuku Park Tower, and its granite and glass gorgeousness is a nod to Japanese modernity and innovation. All of the spacious rooms have original artwork and amazing views, and you can always take a soak in their deep tub after your pool touring. If you think the view is amazing from the pool, then your room's view will also rate right up there.

InterContinental Hong Kong
The pools on the third floor of the InterContinental Hong Kong are gorgeous, but that's not what makes them special! When you take a dip or lazy soak in the hot or cold pools, you'll quickly realize that the hotel makes the experience extra-special with underwater tunes piped into the hotel. Due to the layout and positioning of the hotel, you'll almost feel as though you're floating away in Victoria Harbour. Poolside cabanas complete the fun hotel atmosphere and let you spend time looking at the Hong Kong skyline. Since the hotel's multi-million dollar refurbishment, this hotel is routinely on the “best-dressed” list in the city, with feng shui inspiration and popular artist design collaborations and concepts. If views are your thing, you might want to book one of their 92 harborview suites, with flatscreen TVs, internet access, and iPod docks. Throw a 24-hour concierge service into the mix, and who could complain?

Who's up for a dip?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recession is Easing, Get Out There !

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that aggressive efforts were currently being made to safeguard U.S. dollar investments around the world, first discussing the topic in Saudi Arabia, and afterwards in Paris. "Given the dollar's role in the international financial system and the significant impact of the U.S. economy on global economic conditions, we fully recognize that the United States has a special responsibility to play," he said in a delivery to the Jiddah Chamber of Commerce. "The force of the global recession is receding," he continued. He said that the $787 billion U.S. economic stimulus program will boost demand over a two-year period and make a great impact in spending over the next six months. Doesn't this sound like the hopeful news we need to start planning another vacation? We think so!

When you still need to watch your spending carefully, vacationing in Central America might be the ticket. The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica is located at the tip of Peninsula Papagayo, very close to the Liberian international airport, and is also close (40 minutes) to San Jose. Sparkling water and stunning views are priceless, but we know for a fact you won't be spending away when you come to Costa Rica—it's easy to save at a resort that offers Exclusive Complimentary Perks through The low-rise buildings don't interfere with the area's natural beauty and interesting sandy sunning spot below, and there are public areas interspersed with the expected natural scenery of gardens, open areas, and walkways. Guanacaste, Costa Rica is also home to the Hotel Punta Islita, which is an upscale resort environment set along natural coastline. If you'd like a place near natural Costa Rica flora and fauna, and you love eco-adventures with a touch of thrill, this could be the place for you. Families are welcome at this location, right along with honeymooners and wedding parties.

If you have a chance to book a Costa Rica vacation, you should definitely look into going on a guided Land Cruiser through the underbrush, and you can even drive one yourself if you are familiar with operating a manual car! If you're feeling the adventure vibe after you zip through the forest, book a catamaran trip or a sailing on one of the beautiful blue bays of Costa Rica. There are so many different tour operators from which to choose, so be sure to cruise through the recommended offerings to find one that suits you and your family. Surfing classes are a great option for even the most board shy, because these classes are geared to those of us with few, if any, surfing skills. If you're going to head out on a longer vacation in Costa Rica, you might like to check out one of the Spanish schools in the Guancaste province, so that you can quickly pick up the lingo of the area. Other activities include snorkeling, pottery classes, local crafts shopping, surf shop browsing as well.

Have fun in Costa Rica-- your budget will go far.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

El Conquistador

Puerto Rico might be close to the States, but it will surprise you when you visit. The beaches in Puerto Rico range from the quiet and secluded seaside spots to the popular type of seaside resort filled with tourists from all over the world. If you're planning on a vacation around the island, visit San Juan, which is a perfect place to people-watch and play around with the kids on a family-friendly beach. For surfers and other adventure types, you might want to go to the western area of Puerto Rico, which offers a great opportunity to take a class or two with a local and learn about a common Puerto Rican pastime (while picking up a skill). For those who aren't interested in the adventurous side of things, there's always shopping local crafts at multiple marketplaces, visiting historical buildings and sites, and enjoying the best hotel for the money.

When you start checking out the possibilities for Puerto Rico attractions, you'll be impressed—and you might not even be able to fit everything on your list. The Toro Negro State Forest and Lookout Tower is a great natural forest with cool panoramic views, small creeks, a fresh water lake, and plenty of bird watching in the area. You can hike the trails and then grab a snack at one of the local spots, and if you're up to it, you can even head up the two tallest peaks in Puerto Rico (Cerro Punta and Cerro La Rosa). Just a 15-minute drive from San Juan, the Bacardi Run Distillery treats visitors to a “Cathedral of Rum,” which allows you to check out the Bacardi Family Museum as well as the amazing pavilion for views of San Juan Bay. There are arts and crafts sold on-site as well, so you can go double-duty and pick up presents for everyone back home. The Camuy River State Park has got to top that sites list as well, because it features both sinkholes and caves to explore, as well as a cafeteria, gift shop, and other tourist-friendly additions.

Excited about the possibilities, and looking for somewhere to stay in Puerto Rico? Located 31 miles from San Juan International Airport, The El Conquistador Resort is a stunning location for vacationers. After a lengthy and thorough renovation, it is currently one of the largest and most lavish resorts in the Caribbean. With 750 guest rooms, you can experience a stay in a room high above the striking cliffs, or perched near the marina down below instead. Hi-tech touches include iPod docks for you to enjoy something from home as you check out your flat screen TV and cruise on the super-fast Internet. While there isn't a beach on the property, you can take a dip in any one of the eight pools they have on-site or the Coqui Water Park, which has three slides to deliver you to various pools on the property. Wheee! Sound delicious? There's even more: the hotel has a private island with a ferry service that will take guests straight over for a true treat. Dine at Cafe Bella Vista for an enjoyable dining experience.

Are you ready for a luxury vacation in Puerto Rico?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Have Kids, Will Travel

The most recent Lonely Planet guide, “Traveling with Children,” got a major overhaul with new kid-friendly destinations and activities, as well as ways for parents to stay sane. Brigette Barta, coordinating author, confirmed that parents can find a way to balance their needs with their kids' requirements for fun and play when on vacation. She said that “There's no doubt that traveling with kids is very different from traveling without them. It's a lot more tiring and demanding, and holidays can be harder work than staying at home. But the benefits of family travel are enormous."

Some of the recommended places by Barta were to be expected, but others really surprised. Here are some of the most interesting options she described.

United States
Well, it's not the most exotic of places to go, but in this economic climate, it's a reasonable one. If you're from the east coast, head west, and if you are going for the luxurious “camping style” experience, you might want to check out Winvian, located in Morris, Connecticut. Nestled in the quiet, but upscale area of the Litchfield Hills (where many a celebrity has spent the weekend), the Winvian has fifteen independent, cozy cottages in varied decors—and the location welcomes families with open arms.

Teens will love visiting Australia, which lets the outdoorsy types explore the outback, while beach lovers will adore soaking up the rays on Bondi and beyond. The Hayman is offering a special through, which gives bookers the 5th night free in this hotel located between the northeastern coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. Your teens can take their pick between boating, fishing, snorkeling, and volleyball, and you'll be saving some funds while you're at it with this special deal.

One of the more unusual selections on Barta's list, Syria is known to be an interesting place for children and adults alike. By visiting the rich culture of the city of Damascus, children will pack in plenty of knowledge and see a greatly different lifestyle, halfway across the globe. The Four Seasons Damascus is safe and centrally located, often chosen as the number one hotel to visit in Damascus. This elegant hotel is great for older or quieter children who want to explore Syria and have all the amenities from back home. No homesick children here!

Where will you take your kids on vacation? Will you be hopping on a bus, or taking a flight on a family getaway?

Gadgets Kids Love on the Road

Heading out on a road trip is the perfect way to save money traveling, and it also allows you to spend more quality time with your child when you hit the highway. While it can be fun to try out old-fashioned roadside games and riddles, all of us need a break (and the quiet of the road) from time to time. recently listed a comprehensive collection of gadgets that are easy to find, cool to use, and an excellent way to keeps kids quiet as they travel. Don't wait for that luxury hotel to provide what your kids need, but get everything in motion while you are still on the road!

*Magic Markers: Don't be afraid if the upholstery looks like it could be endangered. There are special packs (Crayola Stow 'n' Gos) that help kids draw only on the notebook pages (the ink doesn't show up anywhere else), and they've been tested to prove it! Have your older children save up the energy before they start hiking at the San Ysidro Ranch, which features 17 miles of hiking trails and a heated swimming pool in Santa Barbara, California, when they use Stow 'n' Gos.

*Friendly Skies: Spinning block toys are great for kids on the go. While some kids have difficulty keeping blocks in place, you can read through these books with an auto-narration that helps you check out each version out loud.

*Road Games: Look for something in English and Spanish to teach your kid new words and provide a little educational fun while you're zooming along to your luxury hotel of choice. Riddle games are a great way to keep your kid active when you're feeling run-down and can't muster up winning or witty to say.

*Magnetic Mazes: Magnetic, colorful mazes help you keep things clean in the car—no loose pieces! Your child can use a magnetized wand to move tiny magnetic balls through a “track.”

*Texturized Toys: Wrapped bundles and bunches are amazing for the enthusiastic backseat player. A bundle of intertwined tabs and shapes will make your kid very happy, and this item is easily to tote along with the family when you're piling into the car for a vacation like one at the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont, which offers plenty of diversion for the active child and Exclusive Complimentary Perks from

*Tag, You're It: Books with interactive features are great for those taking a road trip to the luxury hotel of their choice. The Tag Junior Book Pal has written words, sound effects, and songs—you can even get it to record and “say” your kid's name.

Don't forget that these games won't just work for the car—once you've bought them and tested out, bring them on the ferry and planes as well. The Fairmont Southhampton, for example, has a cool fab family deal with Exclusive Complimentary Perks through running until August 20th, and you get 50% off your second room and more! It's a smart time to book a hotel stay like this one, packing a few treats in your bag along the way. Considering that this hotel offers balconies or terraces for all rooms and plenty of delicious culinary treats, you'll be pleased at what it offers adults, too. The Canyon Ranch, Tucson also offers an airfare credit, so it might be easier to fly with the kids than you thought.

Have you picked up any other tips and tricks on the road when you are going to your luxury hotel?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Even Cheaper Airfares Coming to the US ?

Clark Howard took an airplane from Ryan Air and paid a no-frills ticket for not $100 or even $50, but $1.70 from Ireland to England in the United Kingdom. Sound crazy? It's not: Clark Howard reported that Ryan Air isn't the only airline that is slashing prices, and that an American jet company will be starting a company up called Jet America, which will have 9 seats on each plane for $9. The most expensive seats will sell for $199, which isn't close to Ryan Air prices as we would like. Better book early! While Clark Howard says that it's a great idea, he also commented that “It's not the idea, but who operates it.”

If you're going to be traveling closer to home to scrimp on airline fees, you've still got choices for exotic and exciting getaways in domestic locations. One excellent place to visit is Miami, which is full of exotic beachside hotels, private beaches, star getaways, and plenty of establishments for fine dining. The Four Seasons Hotel Miami is located in Miami's business hub, Brickell, which gives you easy access to Miami Beach as well as other tourist destinations around the city. While you stay in the 221-room hotel, opened in 2003, be sure to wander through the 2-acre Bahia Terrace, which features three swimming pools and lush landscaping to surround it. Overlooking the Bahia Terrace is a tasty Italian restaurant with a fine wine list, so your refuge from the sun won't be boring or tedious in the least. The Sports Club is located within the building if you want to burn some calories later on, and it spreads out over 44,000 square feet. Is Miami Beach more your thing? Try the Canyon Ranch, Miami Beach, which has amazing ocean views and a gorgeous hotel lobby. With plenty of wellness, fitness, and spa opportunities in this stunning location, you'll have trouble getting out to visit Miami Beach at first. Book a guest suite if you are in the mood for real pampering, because the Canyon Ranch, Miami Beach has secret Exclusive Complimentary Perks for booking through

Perhaps you're on the West Coast and looking to go somewhere slightly more unusual, but with exotic options. How about Texas, which has plenty of spacious resorts located in or near major cities like Dallas and Austin? The Barton Creek Resort and Spa is located just a quarter-mile from Barton Creek in Austin, Texas, and provides an 11,000 square foot fitness center with cardio and weights setups, as well as optional yoga classes if you are in the mood to get stretching. Golf enthusiasts will love the 10-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio, and fans of the southwest will love the subtle hotel décor. Another perfect place for the luxury-minded golf aficionado is the Four Seasons at Dallas Las Colinas, which even has many of its rooms overlook the golf course. While it's more of a “corporate-friendly” hotel than some, it also includes all amenities for children that you might expect, so take a peek if you need to bring your family on a business jaunt in Texas. The Hotel Icon, located in Houston, is situated right next to the arts district and is a personal luxury hotel made to provide easy access to entertainment and cultural points of interest in Houston, while also offering their own unique restaurant the Whiskey Lobby Loft, and a great fitness facility.

With all of these options, you won't feel like you were scrimping a bit on airfare—these vacations are a total luxury!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Montage Laguna Beach

Are you looking for a special deal somewhere in the States? It feels like wherever we look, we find sneaky “deals” that aren't really as we might have thought. This definitely isn't the case with Montage Laguna Beach, which offers more than Exclusive Complimentary Perks through Your Insider Access at the time of booking allows you a special upgrade, which means you pay for a lower category of hotel room than what you actually receive. Combine this with the sweeping vistas of Laguna Beach and tons of special activities to do for tourists 'round town, and Montage Laguna Beach is looking like the perfect place to spend a few nights at.

What makes Montage Laguna Beach so special? Sitting on 30 acres of lush, landscaped property, this resort features outstanding views of the Pacific Ocean and amazing craftsman-style architecture. While it feels out of the way, it happens to be directly in the heart of the Laguna Beach community, situated between San Diego and Los Angeles. Take your pick between three different accommodation types to suit your budget and your needs, such as guestrooms, luxurious bungalows, or comfortable, large suites. Take a look around your classic surroundings with just a hint of rustic detailing, such as the Early California artwork and dark wood furnishings. When you're not out enjoying the weather (and the view), why not soak in the deep bathtub, take a tropical rain shower in the marble bathroom, and then enjoy a movie on your room's flat screen TV? When night falls in your suite or bungalow, sink down into goose down pillows and 400-thread count bed linens, and take a look at the elegant turn-of-the-century décor before falling firmly to sleep.

After you've finally looked around your resort and taken all the pictures you want (probably a lot!), it's time to explore Laguna Beach and see what it's all about. Laguna Beach's Crystal Cove Beach has 3.5 miles of beach and 2,000 acres of undeveloped woodlands, which is great for horseback riders and hikers alike. Even though you're relatively close to Los Angeles, you'll feel like you are far away from civilization when you explore this quiet cove. Take a look at tide pools, have a dip in the ocean, and consider doing something even more daring like skin diving or surfing. The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is another amazing place to explore if you can tear yourself away from the Montage Laguna Beach, with the only natural lakes in Orange County, and some of the last remaining coastal canyons in the region. If you're less the exercise type and more the foodie type, you can take a trip to one of Laguna Beach's breweries like the Ocean Avenue Restaurant and Brewery, which has a brewpub vibe with more eclectic Italian and Mediterranean selections. If you are in Laguna Beach for a special reason, you can also reserve the restaurant for events and parties to suit your requirements. Be sure to try a microbrew! After a delicious meal, why not finish up the night with a trip to the Laguna Playhouse, which features community shows that have received critical acclaim for their excellence?

Where will you be going when you stay at Montage Laguna Beach?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sparks Still Fly in Recession

Colorado Springs, Lowell, and Reno might have canceled their fireworks shows over the weekend due to financial issues, but Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks lit up over the Hudson River this year in a dazzling display of lights and booms. Prior to the patriotic show, fireworks executives reported that business is healthy, hardly showing any of the effects of the recession as expected. Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, a heavy hitter in the business, said that they added new shows to their roster in 2009 and also will produce 1500 shows throughout this year. While growth has all but stalled this year, the lack of significant cutbacks has been quite a welcome surprise.

Do you love fireworks displays? Some of us adore watching bright lights burst over rivers and fields, and sometimes once or twice a year just isn't enough. One of the best fireworks shows comes at New Year in Sydney, Australia, where you can watch a stunning display over the harbour with an international crowd. If you like traveling during the first of the year and want to catch some bright lights, Sydney won't disappoint. Book a stay in the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, which is situated on Sydney Harbor, and take advantage of the close proximity to shopping and business destinations nearby for the work-related traveler and the sightseer, too. Lounge in a thick terry bathrobe and douse yourself in complimentary toiletries before you head out to catch one of the best fireworks displays in the world—which you can also see right from your hotel! Another interesting location to check out is The Observatory Hotel in Sydney, which is considered the 4th Best Business Hotel in the World and was also voted the Leading Hotel Asia Pacific for two consecutive years. Located in the same historic district as the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, this five-star hotel offers great views and a limousine service to the business district if you need it. It's another gorgeous location in Sydney to enjoy before you go see stunning fireworks displays at Sydney Harbour, which will get your camera out and snapping ASAP!

Did you know that Montreal has an International Fireworks event that allows you to catch some of the best shows in Canada during the summer? You can watch them for free at the Old Port, or view them from any vantage point in the city of Montreal. If you'd like, you can watch the fireworks synchronized to music in front of the Lac des Dauphins, or buy tickets that let you take advantage of a bunch of amusement rides before the show. The fireworks display begins at 10 p.m. and is one of the most popular touristic events that occur in Montreal all year. If you're going to try this event next year, how about a hotel in one of the most talked-about locations in Montreal? The Loews Hotel Vogue is one of the best places to stay in all of Old Montreal (the “Paris of Canada”), providing sleek furnishings and amenities for hotel guests. Be sure to go out and find somewhere tasty to eat while you are there, because Montreal boasts both bistros and buffets for every budget. For a more traditional guest experience, try the Hotel Le St James, which is found in the center of Old Montreal and features European design and comfort with a luxurious appearance, plus amenities. The hotel is well-preserved and gorgeous, and there's plenty of cutting-edge technology, too, so don't get nervous when you see plush antiquities in its interior!

There's nothing like a fireworks show to lighten the mood, and who wouldn't want to see a show per season? If the recession isn't affecting our dear bright lights, we might as well watch a show or two.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bee Gees' Tune Saves Man's Life

Debra Bader took a walk with her husband in the woods one day when he collapsed. As she dialed 911 to get help as her husband lay unconscious, she remembered a PSA that had informed listeners that they could perform chest compressions to the tune of the Bee Gees' "Stayin Alive." Ms Bader ended up pumping her husband's chest for 15 minutes until the ambulance arrived and saved her husband. She said that she was surprised you can save someone from cardiac arrest without performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and many people believe that they have to take formal training in CPR training to save someone. That's not true, and every bit of education you can get can save someone's life.

If nightlife saves your life (not literally, though), one of the best places to go in the world is New York City. Mari Vanna is a new NYC spot with selected private openings kicking off this July, and it serves up a homey Russian dish in Gramercy. Not only is it filled with interesting Russian antiques, but it is reportedly generous on the servings of Kiev and stroganoff. If you need a hearty meal before heading off into the night, then this could be it. Ward III (Tribeca) recently opened in New York and offers high-end mixology from masters, even keeping regulars' preferred mixes on file to keep them from having to endure mix-ups when they go. It also offers food along with your drinks of choice, so if you're short on time and want to hit the town, this would be it. 205 near Stanton Street is a guest-list only affair that's for the artistic types, with rumors that it's a Warhol-esque club. It's an industrial-type warehouse club that's both fun and fascinating, so you might want to hunt down friends in the city if you want to head on out to this notable location. 49 Grove in the West Village is the all-out type of club, with velvet banquettes and super-expensive cocktails. If you want to party like someone who lives the high life, this is the place for you! But what about where you're going to stay when you come home late at night after wining, dining, and dancing? The Four Seasons New York is a great choice, with a great location and a soaring building size of 52 floors (designed by famed architect I.M. Pei). Not only is it kitted out in marble and onyx, with a stunning lobby entrance, but it has a luxurious spa for the basking and beautifying.

What else? London's right across the pond, and a perfect place for nightlife lovers. It combines cool club atmospheres of the rich and famous (where you might just see a royal) with high-quality eateries serving tasty fare. You'll never get to visit every place you want to go, but you can try! Ginglik is located in Sheperd's Bush and offers a variety of slightly weird-and-wacky nighttime distractions, such as dance nights, film, and comedy—it's a grab bag. The Osteria Basilico is a great London hangout for the pre-movie set, offering traditional Italian food in a reservation-must location with bustling crowds. For a modern stay in London, try the Four Seasons Canary Wharf, which offers a great riverfront setting in London's new financial center. The docklands area of London is full of highrise buildings and lots of quays, so you can watch the sun set over sparkling waters. For a more traditional London experience, you can plan for a 2010 vacation in the renovated Four Seasons Hotel London, which is in an excellent spot for shopping and dining.

Where will you go to dance to a disco tune?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Athlete's Who Earn the Most

It might feel like, in this economy, the entertainers and the athletes are immune from the negative impact. With the super stars still closing deals and getting endorsements by the fistful, our cash flow problems can feel pretty puny. A recent article in Sports Illustrated actually showed that the earnings of the Top 50 American Athletes fell by $1.5 million per athlete to $23.6 million. Tiger Woods pulled in $99,737,626, which a marked loss in earnings due to his recovery time after his knee surgery, while Phil Mickelson, another pro golfer, has lucrative deals with Rolex, Callaway, Barclay's, and Exxon and made $52,950,356. However, the international list grew to a high of $29.5 million, boosted by soccer and Formula 1 earnings. If you are looking to watch a few car races and perhaps a few major gold tournaments, let's see where you can go on your next vacation.

Monaco is an amazing European destination for luxury lovers, ocean gazers, and sports lovers alike, and it is one of the best choices for high-quality vacations. No matter what's on your itinerary in the beginning, you've got to swing by the Casino of Monte Carlo, which is opulently designed and still pretty casual in terms of dress code (the best of both worlds?). You can park for free when you swing by the casino, and then you can spend a day at Larvotto Beach for a charming beach stay in the warm sun. Now it's time for the sports! The Formula 1 Grand Prix zips through the streets of Monaco in May, so you can buy tickets to be a part of the action, while the Hercules International Athletic Meeting occurs in August and draws quite a varied crowd. The International Swimming Meeting also occurs in the summer, gifting one talented athlete with 60,000 Euros at its conclusion. Golfers might be interested in the International Open Tennis Championship in April, which offers final round tickets at the Monte Carlo country club for $125. Wondering where to stay? We recommend the Hotel Hermitage, which has an Exclusive Complementary Perks deal through It overlooks the harbour for an outstanding view and is just steps from Monte Carlo's famed casino, along with plenty of shopping spots. If you need a break from all the touristing, staying in the Hotel Hermitage means that you will have direct access to the Thermes Marins de Monte Carlo, one of the most beautiful spas in Europe.

If outdoor sports are more your style, Switzerland is a smart place to stay. You might even learn about a whole new sport when you go to Switzerland, because they have a sport called schwingen, which involves a sort of wrestling in an arena covered with sawdust. "Hornussen" is another unusual sport in which a player knocks a “nut” into the air with a flexible stick in Switzerland. Catch some pictures if you can! Besides the unusual stuff, you can go ice skating in most cities and towns in Switzerland from December to March, and nearly every local can downhill or cross-country skis--and spends a holiday in Switzerland doing it, too. The Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues is located in the heart of Geneva, and is a great place to kick off your vacation. It was actually the city's first hotel (it was opened in 1834) and still offers great service along with all the creature comforts of the 21st century. When you're staying at the Hotel Four Seasons des Bergues, you should visit Lake Geneva and the Musee Ariana, where you can take a break before hitting the tourist track.

You might not be getting paid millions for your athleticism, but you can feel like a million after checking out these locations!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Life's Good

Think the world is a cold, hard place? Sometimes just reading the news (and then vacationing somewhere really friendly) will solve your problems. In Baker City, Oregon, a man named Bill Fulton got his wallet back after it fell behind the bleachers in the Baker Middle School Gym—in 1946! His social security card and bike license were sitting in the pockets where they belonged, and the outside of the brown leather wallet still bore a clear cowboy design across the front. Fulton, 78, said that the wallet must have fallen out of his trousers while cheering on a basketball team on the pine bleachers, which had remained in the same place since the building opened in 1936. Nathan Osborne, a school worker, recovered the wallet from the gym and passed it on to the middle school's secretary, who hand-delivered it the next day. "It's hard to believe that the times have gone so fast,” Fulton said.

This sounds like quite the heartwarming story, especially for the cynics amongst us, doesn't it? It's sometimes hard to believe that the world is still a friendly place, but at least there are a few places to vacation with a remarkably hospitable vibe—and that aren't totally remote, either! The Bahamas is well-known for its supreme hospitality, thriving tourist industry, and its number of cool resorts on white sand beaches. If you want to see some wide smiles and happy local faces, head to the Bahamas for an uplifting visit. Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Harbor is a great getaway spot for the work-weary, but it also happens to have amazing service and lots of resort activities from which to choose. Go boating, snorkeling, or fishing, or grab a few hours alone for spa treatments to beautify before you bask on the beach. The Old Bahama Bay Resort is located just 56 miles from the coast of Florida, so many travelers can experience a different culture not too far away from home. The Cove Atlantis is another smart choice, sitting atop two beautiful beaches and in close proximity to AQUAVENTURE, a 63-acre “water experience” that's situated next door to a dolphin interaction habitat called Dolphin Cay. Go ahead and indulge! It's expected of you in the Bahamas, and the stage is set for ocean gazing, leisurely strolling, and sightseeing as you see fit.

There are plenty of places in the States that promise good times with friendly people—and in a relaxed atmosphere. While you might meet up with great friends in New York City, it's hard to unwind when there's so many things to see and do. Get yourself to the lush islands of Hawaii, however, and you'll be singing a different tune. The Four Seasons at Manele Bay in Lanai City, Hawaii has a 7,000 square-foot ballroom, an impressive extended bar, and a comfortable low rise layout built right into the low bluff near a rocky shoreline. It's a more unusual location than the traditional plantation-style hotels, and you'll discover that that's not the only thing that stands out about the hotel. You get amazing panoramic views from many a hotel vantage point, and the recent $50-million upgrade means that the level of service you experience (and your surroundings) will seem utterly unreal. As soon as you step off the airplane and get draped in leis, you'll feel the warmth of Hawaiian culture. Visit the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center on the island to check out more information about the heritage of the island natives, including traditions and historical highlights. After the visit, be sure to check out Shipwreck Beach, where you just might find a treasure to complete your journey.

If you don't want time to disappear like it did for Bill Fulton, you should start vacationing in some low-key spots this year. Things will slow down when you're enjoying your oceanside drink in the shade.