Monday, August 31, 2009

Terranea Takes in Evacuees from California Wildfires

California wildfires are currently threatening 12,000 homes in the Los Angeles area, with State Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urging Californians to leave as ash sprinkled downtown Los Angeles. Mount Wilson, where an astronomy unit and communications center is located, was one vital point of concentration for firepeople battling the blaze yesterday. Fire Chief Mike Bryant spoke this weekend about the tragedy and about firepeople he lost on the job, saying "We ask for your understanding, for your patience as we move through this difficult time, and please, prayers for the families of our two brothers that we lost.” 71 square miles of national forest has been burned, and only 5% was contained this weekend, with near hazardous air quality situations, according to officials. The communications tower currently in danger will effect satellite and cable transmission should the flames reach and scorch it—or worse. While it's certainly not a good time to head to Los Angeles for a vacation, one of's partners, Terranea, was busy taking in evacuees as they were forced to leave their homes this weekend.

The premiere resort opened its doors to evacuees and their pets this weekend. "We made the decision as soon as we saw the situation on the news," said Terranea Resort spokeswoman Wendy Haase. While lending a helping hand in a time of true trouble, they also gave evacuees respite in one of the most stunning resort locations in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The luxury hotel opened its doors to individuals seeking help, and right after the announcement was made, six families arrived at the location at 12:30 a.m. with their pets. Bellboys were even offering snacks for digs as the families checked in for free, and it's been confirmed that more families checked in afterwards with their pets instead of going to Palos Verdes High School, which was also acting as a temporary shelter in the face of looming additional evacuations. "It's got to more comfortable than sleeping on a cot," Bernice Green said of the Terranea's offerings, after she arrived with her Labradoodle.

What's so special about Terranea? Not only are they doing something incredibly generous in a time of need, but their recently-opened location is pure luxury. In happier times, guests lounge to catch a view of the Pacific Ocean and wander around the immaculately-groomed grounds, with plenty of staff to cater to their every need. The classic resort location is dramatic, sweeping, and beautiful, with 102 acres graced with stunning 270-degree views of the blue ocean. With 400 guest rooms, they have space to accommodate the needs of conferences, plenty of families, and other large groups, in this case being the evacuees of surrounding Palos Verdes. Should anyone need a wind-down at the stunning resort, there's a sprawling studio and spa that totals 25,000 square feet, with an additional 5,000 square feet for the fitness center. Pure luxury at its finest, and with a heart!

Congratulations to the Terranea for acting as a model resort for the people of its community.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Naked Model Gets Arrested

Art for art's sake? Daring photographer Zach Hyman staged a naked model photoshoot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it ended up in the arrest of his model, Kathleen Neill. Nudity is illegal in New York, whether it's intended for art's sake or not, and the volunteer model (who posed for free) was pulled away from the scene. This isn't Zach Hyman's first time in the hot seat, either, since he also had naked models pose for shots in New York City's Times Square and Chinatown.Besides the fact that his models have to be volunteers, naked, and in New York City, the only other requirement is that they must have their photoshoot completed in 30 seconds. Is it art? Many think so, but some call it pornography. Others are simply curious about whether or not the art is purely promotional--we're thinking that this trick by Hyman probably is. While you probably won't catch his work in action, here are some artists that you will like checking out.

Cool New York Art Spots

If you've got little time to spend in New York or you have a pretty intense schedule planned to accommodate your entire family's requirements, how about you try NYC's Museum Mile? It's an easy way to hit up the city's best without zigzagging across town (and potentially getting lost on the subway!). Museum Mile is a mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue that begins at The Met, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and continues 22 blocks north to El Museo del Barrio, which includes nine museums. If you plan a trip for next summer, consider planning your trip around the Museum Mile Festival (second Tuesday of June), which allows free admission to these museums along the Mile.

Here's your list of places to go on Museum Mile!

82nd Street - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
83rd Street - Goethe/German Cultural Center
86th Street - Neue GGalerie
88th Street – Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
89th Street - National Academy of Design
91st Street - Smithsonian: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
92nd Street - The Jewish Museum
94th Street - International Center of Photography
103rd Street - Museum of the City of New York
104th Street - El Museo del Barrio

If you're feeling pretty excited about your trip to New York, all we have to say is-- that's the spirit! It's not easy dedicating your vacation to a single city, but even people who have lived there 30 years are still exploring and discovering it.

Places to Stay

The Waldorf Towers
This boutique hotel welcomes more than just New York families into its well-dressed lobbies: corporate travelers, royalty, and celebrities have all checked into this 42nd Street New York spot. 123 impressive suites are kitted out with gorgeous decorations and amenities, and there are plenty of standard rooms to stay in, too.

The London NYC
Located just one block from Fifth Avenue in New York City, one of the tallest hotels in the city has great views of Central Park and of the striking skyline. With 24 hour room service and a special London Bar to enjoy breakfast, you'll never need to step out to hunt down a restaurant if you want to.

Blakely New York
This Mid-Manhattan spot was recently renovated and reconfigured, which means that you can enjoy this boutique location in complete comfort. This prime location is great for tourists and is close to the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall, and Broadway. There's also plenty of fine dining right outside your hotel for the picking.

Four Seasons New York
Designed by I.M. Pei, this modernist tower is 52 stories high with marble floors and a backlit onyx ceiling. Recline in your stunning room with a view and enjoy the fantastic services—including a great spa with an array of special treatments.

In the mood for some art gazing?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beaches ; The Sexiest in the World

Looking for a sexy getaway? Look no further than the sandy shores of these faraway isles scattered all over the world, where the sand is white and the ocean is perfectly crystal blue. ruthlessly scoured list upon list of the very best places in the world to lounge, and we have to admit that we've arranged many a vacation to these recommended stops in different locations in the world. Have a peek at beaches in South Africa, South America, Europe, and the States, and pick the perfect one you've never experienced. Which one will it be? We predict you'll have some trouble deciding, but if worse comes to worse, you can always pick a location out of a hat and then book your luxury hotel from there!

Let's take a look at some of's top picks.

Muizenberg Beach (Cape Town), South Africa
This stretch of sand is located right outside of Cape Town, making it a great place to visit if you are going to be exploring South Africa's more populated regions. You'll find kite surfers and other sports-inclined individuals populating the shore, but that's not all-- rock climbers even scale the walls along the beach perimeter! Since there are plenty of people around who love healthy living, there's plenty of sexiness to go around. Models also frequent the beach for photoshoots.

Where to Stay?
Cape Grace
Cape Grace is located on a private quay, providing stunning views of the surrounding natural habitat of South African wildlife and a great ocean view. Pick a harbor-facing room or a mountain-facing one: you simply can;t go wrong with the impeccably-decorated rooms decked out in gorgeous furniture and plenty of detail. Check out the view as you try their extensive whiskey and wine cellar offerings.

Zuma Beach (Malibu), California
Zuma is a stunning local spot in Malibu, so much so that it's the original Baywatch spot when the red swimsuits made their way down the sand. There's tons of action to catch on this sand, with boisterous volleyball games competing for attention with rock climbers and body boarders. Where to look first? The annual Malibu Triathlon is also held in this location, so who knows? Maybe you'll see a bonafide celeb training while you're exploring.

Sofitel Los Angeles
Balance the soft waves with the bright lights of the city—Sofitel Los Angeles is the perfect pick for you. This Los Angeles location is close to major shopping destinations (perfect for picking out that swimsuit) and is favored by out-of-towners and celebs alike. A lesson in contrast.

Hawksnest Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands
This national park land is all about the wide-open spaces and private stretches of land. Try tandem biking or windsurfing after you meet some locals near North Shore's Hawksnest Bay. With plenty of honeymooners and health nuts about, you can't help but notice the sexy vibe of this location!

Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort
Caneel Bay offers another set of beautiful views for those willing to explore St. John thoroughly. Located within the Virgin Islands National park just like Hawksnest Bay, this escape helps the stress from back home melt away in short order. Three restaurants and plenty of available activities are available when you're not exploring the beaches.

So many choices, so little time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Suites ; The World's Most Expensive

Wealth Bulletin took a close look at some of the world's most expensive hotel suites, which included some of the renowned-to-be-luxe spots as well as a few newcomers. This year's winner was the Royal Penthouse Suite at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva, which hit the top of Luxist's list for a four-room suite. Taking up the entire top floor of the hotel, the suite costs a whopping $65,000 per night, and is favored by the diplomat crowd and those with plenty (and we do mean plenty) of cash. Amazingly, this particular luxury hotel suite is ahead of the pack by about $30,000, with the second-place suite hitting $35,000 a night in New York City at the Four Seasons. The Ty Warner Penthouse, interestingly, was also the winner of the expensive hotel suite list for 2008. How things change! If your jaw hasn't dropped enough quite yet, there's more. Try not to drool, because you can also get a piece of the pie!

Even though you can book your luxury hotel stay for a lot cheaper than you might expect, it's fun to dream about massively discounted suites while you're still in the vacation-planning mood. Luxist's list included:

No. 3: The Presidential Suite, Hotel Cala di Volpe (Sardinia) = $34,000/night
No. 4: Villa La Cupola Suite, Westin Excelsior (Rome) = $31,000/night
No. 5: The Presidential Suite, Ritz-Carlton (Tokyo) = $25,000/night

The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is one location that's advantageously located in the city's main entertainment district, and is stuffed full of eateries and shopping locations for any taste. Even if you can't book a suite stay, you can find a more affordable room in which to sleep from As a dramatic skyscraper bursting across the Tokyo skyline, the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo simply commands attention. Similarly, the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi is situated in the striking, modern glass tower of the prestigious Pacific Century Place, which is in the central business district. While you can easily attend to business matters during the day, the hotel features luxurious and contemporary furnishings and amenities for the discerning guest once the day is through.

No. 6: The Bridge Suite, The Atlantis (Bahamas) = $22,000/night
No. 7: The Imperial Suite, Park Hyatt Vendome (Paris) = $20,000/night

The Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome is located not far from the Louvre and the Opera Garnier, and it's also one of the highest-regarded hotel locations in the City of Light. This avant-garde, sanctuary-style hotel combines impressive French classicism with contemporary flair, making your stay in the hotel itself very worthwhile. Three treatment rooms, a gym, sauna, steam room, and two restaurants plus bar will keep you well occupied when you're not pounding the sidewalks snapping pics at the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees. Designed by famous architect Fred Tuttle, this is one stay that you need to write home about!

No. 8: Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab (Dubai) = $19,600/night
No. 9: Royal Armleder Suite, Le Richemond (Geneva) = $18,900/night
No. 10: The Ritz-Carlton Suite, The Ritz-Carlton (Moscow) = $16,500/night

Where will you be staying--or where do you dream of staying?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What To Do When Hurricanes Loom?

Hurricane Bill has made us all sit up a little bit straighter when it comes to the weather, and we're going to be checking this strong storm out until it blows through the Atlantic, hopefully away from land. Recent reports have shown Hurricane Bill, a Category 3 storm, will stay east of most of the U.S. East Coast. That being said, it's still important to watch storms—they can be unpredictable, and on vacation, that's the last thing you need. Especially with Hurricane Watches in effect, if you've never experienced being on an island or the coast with a storm looming, things can get nerve-wracking. While your travel agent should advise you about potential storm centers or the hurricane season, why not just look into a few tips to keep you safe, while also looking into a few vacation spots that won't cause you headache when it comes to planning.

What to Know About Hurricane Season When On Vacation
Keep in mind that even in locations with the most dangerous storms (or the most frequent dangerous weather), serious storms are few and far between. There are also periods during the hurricane season when it's less likely that you will be in danger, so take a look at these tips before you just settle for an off-season vacation at a deep discount, because of Hurricane concerns.

The official hurricane season began on May 15th and runs through November, and areas in its reach include the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. You don't need to stress about a hurricane messing up your Mexican Pacific or Caribbean vacation from December through May, and that's a great relief. However, did you know that Aruba has a history of very few hurricanes, even during the height of the season? Only six have passed within 62 miles of the islands since 1877, and even when storm conditions arise, the island hardly suffers the severe effects you may see elsewhere.

If you want to go on vacation during the hurricane season, and you're worried about a storm disturbing your holiday, you've got a couple of options. If you are staying in a resort, ask your agent what they plan to do in case of emergency, and look into potential compensation if you need to evacuate a resort. Lastly, you can even research travel insurance to protect your vacation investment. With the advice from your travel agent and your own personal research, you'll be well on your way to a luxurious vacation, no matter what time of the year it is.

Suggested Hotels for Your Summer Vacation
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino: Great amenities and a superb level of service makes this hotel experience a fun way. Hang out on tennis courts or get a massage at their amazing Stillwater Spa, and try out the casino if you are feeling daring.

Four Seasons Las Vegas: Looking for a way to enjoy the water without having to worry about hurricane season? There's always the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, which is in a perfect location to hop in some rooftop pools, drink fruity tropical drinks, and just chill for the duration of your stay.

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole: If all your friends are going to the islands, why not switch it up and go to the countryside? The Four Seasons Jackson Hole has the spirit of a mountain hideaway with the service and options of a luxury getaway. Hike, golf, and fish in natural wilderness.

Westin Aruba Resort: From sailing to deep sea fishing, the Westin Aruba Resort provides you with a slew of activities from which to choose. With a soft breeze and steel drum playing in the background, you'll feel like you are in paradise. The private balcony is an easy way to take it all in after a busy day on the golf course or exploring the ocean.

Anywhere look tempting to you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Staycations - Not Very Healthy !

In the economic downturn, you've probably heard recommendation after recommendation of a staycation, a creative new at-home family activity, or something similar. Sometimes, penny pinching means that you can't take the vacations you want to, but it shouldn't prevent you from taking some kind of trip away from town, says MSNBC. It's hard to unwind when you've still got most of the responsibilities staring you in the face (minus the job), and your health could even be at stake when you head back to the job without getting a proper wind-down session. If you have children, the situation could be even worse, because your kids won't have memories to share with their friends and classmates, and they won't get to experience another way of living, whether or not it's the West Coast, Europe, Disneyland, or a camping trip near the mountains. How about taking a look at what MSNBC suggests?

Karen Schaler is a journalist and a correspondent, and she talked to MSNBC about her experiences traveling. Her book, “Travel Therapy,” highlights how to use travel to heal a broken heart, solve stresses, and make one feel healthier. "Travel can empower people," she said. "I really believe you can change your attitude by changing your environment." When Schaler travels, she heads to Hawaii to do a little surfing with her mother, which is just the right prescription for her certain needs. You might need something different, but you don't need to be afraid of running out of traveling funds if you rely on special deals, a healthy web search, and the advice of your travel agent. Since many hotels and resorts have been offering “third night free” deals and certain percentages off, it's easy to craft your vacation to suit your budget, even when you're checking out luxury hotels. By adjusting the actual travel distance you need to go, you'll find that you can afford the very best, even if you're making a hop-skip to the next big city near you.

Patricia Gerbarg, M.D., says that “Vacations are important. People are constantly surrounded by demands, constantly adding stress, so our stress response is overactive." By changing our routines ever so slightly, we can allow our body to recharge its parasympathetic nervous system. Even a free bike rental in one of many U.S. cities can do the trick, so do the legwork and try to find something that suits your needs. Take a look at some of these amazing hotels sprinkled around the States as a jumping-off point!

*Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain: Sanctuary boasts 98 casitas with amazing panoramic views of the mountains and beyond—perfect for the traveler who's usually stuck in the office! This intimate retreat offers plenty of spa treatments and a great fitness center for classes and private workout sessions to get you back on track.

*Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans: This hotel is just a minute's walk to Bourbon Street and a 15-minute walk to Harrah's Casino and the Aquarium of the Americas. Guestrooms are laid out perfectly for relaxation, like full-length windows, high 10-foot windows, and amazing sheets for late-morning snoozing.

*Fairmont Copley Plaza: Since its gala opening in 1912, the Fairmont Copley Plaza is a well-known hotel landmark on the hospitality scene. After its special renovation on the 383 guestrooms and suits, the Fairmont is poised to receive guests more than it ever has been before. Fairmont Gold, a special hotel program with a high degree of service for discerning guests, is also offered.

*Four Seasons Atlanta: Elegant and gracious, you'll slip into the southern pace in no time when you're visiting Four Seasons Atlanta. Built in the '90s, this hotel was later acquired by the Four Seasons and given a $65 million renovation. Bring your pets under 15 pounds—they are welcome!

Isn't it time you headed out on a proper vacation?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Acqualina Raises the Bar on Luxury Stays

Luxury in Miami is known the world over, but this Mediterranean-inspired resort still managed to impress and influence the hotel world upon its opening in 2006. When you get a glimpse of the many amenities that the Acqualina has to offer, you'll have a taste of the grand plans for this stunning spot from its years of considerate construction in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. Think Renaissance décor and a great view of Miami's beautiful skyline, an oceanside location, and a cascading waterfall out front to lull you into a vacationer's paradise! Let's put it this way: even if you've never been to Miami, you won't miss this luxury resort on Collins Avenue, one of Miami's leading roads for beach access, entertainment, dining, and more.

Before you even get to Acqualina, you can get acquainted with some of the very best features straight away. There's 24-hour room service, a signature restaurant, and a beautiful spa complete with plenty of amazing treatments to help you get the sweat out, work out kinked muscles from a heavy exercising session, and purify that skin after sweating and sunning by the water's edge. Espa, as it's called, ranks right up there in Conde Nast's list of Top Spas in the Americas and Caribbean, winning a 2008 award as well as another from the Mobil Travel Guide. Choose between restorative treatments and meditative options, and rest assured that the spa is open until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, so you can squeeze in a visit even if you can't peel yourself from the pool during the day. Treatments include full-body botanical wraps, hot stone massages and treatment sessions, and special facials to beat the heat (and a sunburn or two).

When luxury hotel lovers have children, they may be presented with a unique challenge. How do you know if your uber-posh resort will welcome your entire family? Will you be the only ones with children there? You can end up with so many questions while you plan that trip for you and the kids, but if you'll be going to Acqualina, you can cast your worries aside. There's a special children's program at the resort that includes a marine-biology based fun camp complete with scavenger hunts and educational sessions, and both half-day and full-day passes are available to purchase for your particular needs. Other programs include dinner and a movie, a kid's night out, arts 'n' crafts specials, and holidays and special happenings for more unique fun. Your kids won't be alone, and they'll be having a ton of fun when you nip off for a little dinner and dancing.

With easy access to shopping spots like Bal Harbour and Aventura Mall, and lots of historical spots to explore, you've got Miami at your fingertips at Acqualina. The only question now is. . . where to start? You're going to have to figure that out on your own, but there's always a friendly travel agent to help you out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where Supermodels Go on Vacation?

Even though it's fun to explore the rustic side of things from time to time, it's also fun to live the luxe life. It seems like celebrities disappear off to private islands, but they also stay in luxury hotels like the rest of us! Sometimes they hang out on the beach, other times they pick the slopes, and you'll be surprised when you catch them in other places, too. MSNBC took a look at where some of the hottest celebs hang out on vacation, and you'll be pleased to know that we've got connections in some of these great locations dotted in both cold and warm spots around the globe. From St. Moritz to the French Riviera, you'll be enjoying your time like a celebrity soon enough!

Where to Go

Kate Moss is just one supermodel who has visited Spain—in fact, she spends time in Ibiza nearly every year! Sir Philip Green, known for being a billionaire as well as the boss and owner of Topshop, recently sent Kate Moss and her rock star boyfriend Jamie Hince to a special spot on Mallorca's northwest coast. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Michael Douglas all owns homes in Spain as well, and there are lots of amazing places hidden in the hills to check out as you drive on the tiny, winding roads.

Where Should You Stay?
Hotel Marques de Riscal: This new landmark hotel, located near Elciego, was designed by Frank O. Gehry, who worked on the Guggenheim Museum as well. 43 comfortable, modern suites are within the reach of the vineyard region, and when you come back from a leisurely day of wine tasting, you can check out the spa, which is the backbone of the hotel's leisure facilities. Any celeb would be pleased to experience the sights and tastes of this special spot.

Unsurprisingly, some of the Brazilian models who grace Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated head back to Brazil to enjoy their vacations. Gisele Bundchen, for example, spends time on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, and has been spotted enjoying the Copacabana Hotel and all it has to offer. Word has it that Gisele also likes to spend time in luxury hotels around Brazil with panoramic views of the city and water. Supermodel Naomi Campbell has also been seen in Brazil, where she doesn't just love luxury guest homes, but luxury boats as well.

Where Should You Stay?
Copacabana Palace Hotel: One of Gisele Bundchen's favorite hotels, the Copacabana Palace Hotel, has been recently refurbished and remains one of the primary landmarks on the beach. You can book special tours for jet skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating, but you can also stay in your centrally-located hotel for the excellent room service and perks! Celebs do love their room service. . .

Model Heidi Klum looks gorgeous on the runway, but now that she's pregnant, she's sneaking in more time to relax (finally). The wife of Seal and Project Runway host vacations often in Mexico, where she owns a villa with her husband, and they soak up the bohemian atmosphere and exotic architecture that dots the area near Puerta Vallarta and Manzanillo.

Where Should You Stay?
One&Only Palmilla: Not only will you be vacationing like a celebrity when you are at the One&Only, but you might just get to see some when you're staying here! One of the world's best resorts, this luxury getaway sits by the beautiful Sea of Cortez, where it has been holding court in Los Cabos since 1956. Its earliest guests included Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, and United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Go on, live it up like a supermodel!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Driving in the UK and Ireland

It might be common to travel Europe and the United Kingdom by train, but have you ever considered driving instead? Not only is it more convenient when traveling the countryside, but you're more likely to hop off the beaten path this way. Doesn't sound bad, does it? The only probable blip, as most of us know, is getting on the other side of the road, and liking it! Between that and roundabouts, many visitors feel intimidated into taking the train in the United Kingdom. Many areas in the States, for example, have added roundabouts in recent years, but it doesn't hurt to give this circular, yield-upon-entry a test or two in a less populated area before you get to the big ones! If you're nervous about the other cars on the road—and making a mistake or two—Rick Steves recommends dropping by a gas station or car store and getting a “P” sign: it stands for Probationary Driver, and will get you some much-needed slack as you're going from place to place.

Rick Steves' Top Tips on Driving in the United Kingdom
At least Rick Steves didn't tell us that driving in the United Kingdom was super easy--it just takes some practice. If you'll be in England, keep in mind that crowded cities may incur a congestion fee to drive through city centers, meaning that you'll have to pay around $13 to drive through London, for exampled. Since the buses and the tube are excellent means of transport, why not stick to the exploratory driving when you're out in the country, at least to kick things off? Rick Steves suggests renting a car in Bath, exploring the countryside, and then dropping off your rental in York to take the train to London. It's easy, it's simple, and it will get you where you need to go, while still giving you the opportunity for better picture snapping! Outside of cities, you'll also need to keep in mind that roads are smaller in general, meaning that you need to share the road with your fellow drivers. When you're on a rural country road, you'll need to pull over at more narrow spaces to allow the other person to pass.

Other Rick Steves Tips Include:

*Buy Google maps and rent or buy a GPS loaded with maps of the places you'll visit. Getting lost can increase the stress of driving on the other side of the road.
*Remember the rules of traffic as a pedestrian, and be sure to look the “right way” when preparing to cross.
*Keep in mind that traffic in roundabouts usually has the right of way, but entering cars usually yield.
*In some towns, you will need to cross the center line to get around parked cars on the shoulder. Do so carefully, and drive defensively for safety.

Hotels to Consider
Now that you're planning on going to Ireland, how about these hotels?

Four Seasons Hotel Dublin: Head to the Spa at Four Seasons when you're not checking out the Four Seasons' delectable dishes and fabulous amenities. Enjoy a central location near museums and great pubs.

The Westin Dublin: This hotel occupies a city block near Trinity College, and the original 19th-century banking hall seats over 200 people for special events. Take a walk to the business distinct or Grafton Street from your hotel as well.

Dromoland Castle: This fine castle hotel provides a unique Irish experience for visitors, with plenty of elegance and modern-day comforts. The castle is close to Shannon Airport and the cities of Limerick and Galway, so take your pick—and get driving!

Ashford Castle: Nestled on 350 acres of land, Ashford Castle kicked off its years as a hotel in 1939. If you're wowed by over 700 years of tradition, this is the stop for you. This castle hotel is also within driving distance of the Shannon Airport.

So, will you be hitting the roads in the United Kingdom, in between your luxury hotel stays?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mona Lisa Attacked

The Mona Lisa was briefly attacked this week when a disgruntled woman threw a teacup at the artwork's shield in the Louvre. The Russian woman, who is reported to have visited a psychiatric clinic after she attempted to damage the artwork, was called “clearly deranged” by officials. This attack has been added to the list of offenses staged against the painting, which included a 1956 dousing in acid and an attempted rock bashing after it was stolen in 1911 by an Italian nationalist (and returned in 1913). The Louvre is the biggest art museum in the world, and its star attraction is undoubtedly the Mona Lisa, now protected by bulletproof glass. Let's hope it stays this way, so many we'll be able to come see it for years to come!

The Louvre's not the only great place to go and check out top artwork collections: here are some amazing picks around the globe.

1. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco: The de Young is San Francisco's oldest art museum, known as the “City's Museum.” No only does this museum feature a great collection of American paintings and heirlooms, but it has plenty of educational arts programs for kids and their parents. Decorative arts and crafts round out their display.

Where to Stay
The Prescott Hotel: Located in a great downtown spot, this hotel is convenient for shopping destinations, and it has luxurious rooms and suites. Grab the Powell Street cable car, just one block away, to visit Fisherman's Wharf.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco: Wander to the Museum of Modern Art during your travels, because this hotel is located within walking distance! Floor-to-ceiling windows and luxe amenities make this a special stay.

2. J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles:
Schedule plenty of time to explore the impressive J. Paul Getty Center, which has free admission. Take the tram up the hill to the Getty Center and take in the bronze sculptures and Renaissance displays. The setting compliments the impressive displays perfectly: it looks out over the city in a park-like spot.

Where to Stay
Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills: European grace plus Californian cool is a great way to enjoy your visit to Los Angeles. With 99 suites and over 250 rooms, you'll be pleased to explore their high-quality restaurant options as well as your private, step-out balcony. Their luxurious, full-service spa is a genius place to unwind, but you'll find many luxe nooks and crannies in their sprawling location.

3. Uffizi Gallery, Florence:
This palace location is a stunning stop for any historically-minded tourist who doesn't mind a bit of luxury with their sightseeing, and who doesn't? The internal courtyard of this space is so long and narrow that historians have said that it's the first “regularized streetscape of Europe.” The collection is so big that some of the pieces held within have been transferred to other museums, and there are plans to expand the place so that more artwork currently in storage can be viewed.

Where to Stay
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze: 175 miles north of Rome, Florence is perfectly situated to spend a few days before jetting off to other points in Italy and beyond. You'll be able to visit key points in Florence incredibly easily from your Four Seasons spot, and you can also gaze out over red-tiled roofs and high, large domes that rise above the city. Stunning, convenient, and unforgettable!

Continentale: If you're an international traveler who has seen it all, this is the place to go. Guestrooms have leather seats, furniture and desks in stylized, comfortable setups, and you might need to tear yourself away from the incredible view--it's impressive even to the most jaded!

4. National Gallery of Art: This Washington D.C. museum has been branded “excellent” by many a visitor, and it has a particularly impressive collection of sculptures. The East Building (1978) was designed by I.M. Pei and is quite the sight, with geometrical additions and details that almost looks like fragmented prisms. An extensive painting collection is highlighted by modern and contemporary works in the East Building.

Where to Stay
Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C.: Georgetown's leafy parks are your view from Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C., which has 25 suites and plenty of luxury rooms. Fine dining is a snap at the Seasons Restaurant.

Will you be catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, or will it be something else during your next vacation?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Planning Your Perfect Trip

Are you the type who wonders how all your friends look relaxed even when they're battling one of the toughest vacations out there? Not at of us take the easy route, and it can be really challenging to figure out how to do it. Not anymore. It's estimated that about 90% of the time, these effortless travelers utilize a special itinerary planner to keep things under control. Websites and computer programs both have the capacity to allow for fine-gauge travel planning tuning, and you'll be able to plan your trip guidelines, as well as share travel plans with friends and family so they can follow along as you zip around the globe. Curious about some of the best ways to plan that trip? MSNBC explores.

Creating the Ideal Vacation Experience
Here are just some of the ways to make that vacation a little more seamless.

*Know Your Tools
NileGuide will help travelers create a customized travel itinerary from a pre-set grouping of special locations listed on the site. If you're traveling beyond the beaten path, you might not want to use this program, simply because it won't allow you to add destinations not in their system. You can select from a list of hotels, restaurants, and tourist hot spots to develop your special itinerary if your stops are accommodated, though.

Prime Hotels on the Map
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney: Views abound at this luxury hotel location, which overlooks the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After a recent renovation, this spot is even cozier and more comfortable than before, and you'll get twice-daily housekeeping, plenty of amenities, warm and fuzzy towels, and a privately stocked fridge.

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze: Located in tourist-friendly Florence, this location offers views of the famous city along with a prime location when it comes to tourism spots. From museum exploration to shopping at some of the world's best fashion destinations, tourists will leave here filled with knowledge (and with full-to-the-brim shopping bags).

Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg: This hotel dates back to 1824 and has provided a luxurious and hospitable environment for royalty and celebrities alike. The Grand Hotel Europe has 301 rooms and suites, and has received a Five Diamond Award of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

The Scotsman Hotel: Located on Edinburgh's historical North Bridge, this hotel is one of the most stylish in the city. 56 bedrooms and 12 suites add to the intimate environment of this top tourist sleep spot, and there are even points of Scottish heritage worked into the décor.

Create a more complex online itinerary and plan the perfect trip with TripIt, which you can also email to friends and family. While there are optional add-ons that you can use with your cell phone, the original program is pretty impressive, with maps, directions, and weather added to your plans.

*Know Your Connections
Using a travel agency is key when you're planning the flight connection part of your trip, so be smart about transferring baggage, potential delays, and even the world's worst airports. If you need to get some rest on the plane at night, this could be a serious issue, so talk to the person who's arranging your flight and luxury hotel.

*Be Flexible
Know that no matter what you do to plan your itinerary (and no matter what program you choose), there are things that can affect your plans, and when you experience them. Try scheduling a free day into the plan to allow for both schedule adjustments and last-minute changes.

How do you plan to organize your itinerary?

Monday, August 10, 2009


There's a new travel magazine in town, and if you're the type looking for new recommendations on places to go and things to do, you might want to have a look at Afar, which will be published 6 times a year. According to their release, they won't be highlighting luxury hotels and the usual touristic trips, but will instead be profiling interesting individuals in the countries in which they travel. Greg Sullivan, who will be launching the magazine, said that "When times are difficult people are looking for something different. Afar is different.” That sounds promising, doesn't it? Afar will contain plenty of stunning photos, “off the beaten path” stories and narratives, and local arts and foods mentions by insiders who managed to find out the secrets to local culture in a variety of locations around the globe, to fit diverse interests and requirements. "I think there will be a smaller magazine industry and I'm happy that we are going to be positioned to be part of that,” Sullivan told MSNBC. Other projects in the works include a website, with books, TV, and radio projects also planned.

We could all use a break after such a turbulent time—and yes, that means a vacation or two, please! Even after all the cutbacks and traveling challenges we've faced, 2008 saw a 2% growth in international travel to 920 million arrivals. 1.6 billion arrivals are expected by 2020, with the most popular regions expected to be Europe, East Asia, and the Pacific. Cultural tourism is expected to grow consistently, and that will be joined by interesting new adventure and eco-related trips increasing steadily as well.

Top Cultural Tourism Locations
Let's say that you're going to be getting in the ecological or cultural tourism groove on your next vacation or two, and you need some advice on places to go. Here are just a few recommended locations to visit.

Europe: Portugal
Portugal offers plenty for the inquisitive traveler, from holiday resort spots like Espinho to fishing towns like Povoa de Varzim. Go to Porto and then try multiple wines where Port wines are aged and blended, later catching a river cruise along the Douro. Renting a car will give you a chance to grab that camera and snap pictures of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and beautiful towns.

Featured Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon: From this hotel, you can see St. George's castle, parks, the Old Town, and the Tagus River. Spacious rooms and suites are in this centrally-located hotel.

The Pacific: Singapore
With English as one of the official languages in Singapore, it's easy to visit, shop, and explore without difficulties. Take advantage of their extensive public transportation system connecting major tourist stops, and be sure to check out the Orchard Road district, which is a multi-story shopping destination considered to be one of the major tourist attractions in Singapore. There's also the Singapore Zoo, which has an “open zoo” concept perfect for animal lovers, and Night Safari, which is a good place to explore animal habitats at night.

Featured Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore: This particular hotel happens to be located near the aforementioned Orchard Road, otherwise known as Singapore's Fifth Avenue, and is furnished with 1,500 special art pieces.

East Asia: Japan
Just a trip to Tokyo will keep you busy for ages. Tokyo has a population larger than the whole of Sweden, and there are several downtown spots to explore, including Shibuya and Shinjuku. Touristic highlights include Ueno, Yoyogi Park, and the Meji Shrine, but that's certainly not all. Don't forget to catch a panoramic glimpse of the city at least once.

Featured Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi: In a landmark glass tower, the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi is a contemporary, spacious spot that comes complete with a special spa experience (plus private treatment rooms) and a specially outfitted exercise room.

Will you be using Afar to guide your next trip?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Resort at Pelican Hill

The Resort at Pelican Hill, located near Newport Beach, California, tows the line between luxury resort and unspoiled paradise. With the ability to easily travel into town for five-star shopping, as well as the chance to explore some unspoiled land filled with tiny trails and beaches, tourists benefit from an excellent balance of nature and exciting attractions. Surfers have the chance to catch waves, wine buffs can sip near the boardwalk, and bird watchers have plenty of places to unpack their binoculars, guides, and zoom lenses for a bit of up-close nature. With the Resort at Pelican Hill providing great service and a stunning location nestled close to Newport Beach, how could anyone complain? Even the shopaholics have something to do.

The Perks of Pelican Hill
The Report at Pelican Hill, also located near Laguna Beach, will get you snapping pictures from the get-go with its classical Italian-inspired property, its outstanding open spaces, and its incredible views. If you've been to Californian resorts before and felt cramped or pent-in, this is certainly the spot for you: it is situated on 504 lush acres of land right along the Newport Coast. With the vast Pacific Ocean stretching out front of the resort, and those winding roads leading up to your hotel, you'll feel like a movie star, or a millionaire at least. Take your pick from 128 luxurious bungalows and 204 villas dotted along the luxury resort land, which happens to rub up against thousands of acres of protected coastal habitat, reserved for recreational use only—or protected as a stunning open space for the viewing. With impeccable service within your reach, you can lounge by the pool for the day, or even just order in room service after sleeping in and checking your email on blindingly fast Internet. After you tire yourself out exploring the Newport Coast, you can grab a treatment at the 22-room spa or visit a world-class restaurant to fill up on delicious meals.

What's There to Do in Newport Beach?
Instead of leaving you bound to the resort all day, the Resort at Pelican Hill is just a hop-skip away from cool tourist attractions and quiet nights out. Here's just a sampling of what you can do out in Newport Beach.

*Balboa Candy: Got a sweet tooth? Indulge at this premiere candy shop, which offers unusual treats alongside your standard favorite treats. Craving some salt-water taffy? This location also has some of the best in the world—as well as the largest selection.
*Newport Ecological Reserve: Upper Newport Bay is an important location to view birds and other wildlife attracted to the estuary during the winter months. Not only do people come here to peep at the animals, but others haul out their bikes, roller blades, kayaks, and bicycles to enjoy the local views. This coastal land is one of the finest bird-watching destinations in North America, with nearly 200 species of birds.
*Whale Watching: Don't just stick to the beach! Head out on the ocean to view whales and dolphins frolicking away. Summer and fall can attract some truly impressive pods of dolphins and large whales that love the warm water of the Newport area.
*Boat Shows: In April, Newport Beach hosts a great boat show, which includes international builders and new marine gear.
*Gondola Rides: Did you know that you can take gondola cruises in Newport? Head to Newport Beach and book a trip for two, which comes complete with romantic music playing in the background while you check out the sights from a new vantage point.
*Balboa Fun Zone: Balboa Fun Zone is one of the oldest coastal amusement areas and a great place to take the family. Get ready for old-fashioned fun!

Now it's time to get yourself to the Resort at Pelican Hill, and start exploring the surrounding Newport Beach area. It's an unforgettable experience, both inside the hotel and outside on the grounds. . . you'll see!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cash for Clunkers, Perks on a Booking

Economists agree that the Cash for Clunkers plan is likely going to lift the auto industry substantially, with Joseph Carson, chief economist at AllianceBernstein commenting that "It's having an intended, if not larger, impact than people expected." The Senate passed a $2 billion extension on the deal after the program ran through its $1 billion allowance in a week, and the Obama administration continues to support the Cash for Clunkers program as a viable and reliable option to get things up and running in Detroit. Car dealers across the States reported that the program has substantially improved traffic on their lots, and Obama said in a statement that “Businesses across the country – from small auto dealerships and suppliers to large auto manufacturers – are putting people back to work as a result of this program.”

If you've taken advantage of the Cash for Clunkers plan, you've got yourself a nice new car, and a lot of new-found freedom. Why not book a stay in a luxury hotel located a drive away, and get that car broken in on the highway? Turn on your GPS and head out to the hotel of your choice, because there's plenty to be done once you get there, but to take advantage of all the fun, you've got to get there promptly. What's a better compliment to your luxury vacation—marked as a special through WhataHotel!--than a brand-new car humming along the road? From the Four Seasons to the Fairmont, everything falls right into place—and you can book in a snap, too. If you access the specials page of, you'll see that you can scoop up a deal with one night free with a three-day booking, 30% off, and the Upgrade Plus! deal as well. All of these plans are exclusive to, too, so get shopping to save yourself some time.

Now that you've probably decided that you're going to drive to a hotel break somewhere nearby, we've got specific suggestion for your East- or West-Coast stay. You simply can't go wrong with the Four Seasons, for example, because you'll find them dotted across the States, the service is luxurious and consistent, and you'll never have to wonder about the room you're facing for the night after your drive: they are comfortable, well-furnished, equipped, and serviceable. Midwesterners will enjoy the Four Seasons St. Louis—located in the “hub of the Midwest”--but will still get the special perks like spa-time, sophisticated gaming, and exciting new dining experiences. The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach has racked up the recognition around the hotel world, and it has a great collection of art and artifacts around the lobby that will impress casual art collectors as well as those needing a little something to gaze at post-trip. There's a new 9,000 square foot spa for working out back kinks, and there's even a “Man Room” dedicated to guy's grooming. Three restaurants and a complimentary kids program round out the deal and make it extra tempting. Alternately, the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle gives you great views of Puget Sound and mountain peaks, and you're still close to destinations like the Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Hall, or Pike Place Market. Lastly, New Englanders and New Yorkers might want to aim for the Four Seasons Boston, with its classic yet contemporary design and its award-winning restaurant, Aujourd'Hui.

It's time to hit the road, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Road Trip Anyone ?

With gas prices substantially lower than they were last year at this time, you might consider an August/September road trip with the family to enjoy the countryside, stopping off at exciting cities and hitting luxury hotels in a comfortable radius! With a little planning, you can enjoy the thrill of the open road combined with the creature comforts of some of the best hotels in North America. From prairies to city blocks, snap pictures and explore all day—but be sure to find time to rest up at night, and even hit the spa from time to time to take advantage of all the perks offered by your hotel of choice. It's time like these when you should pore over a hotel specials list from WhataHotel! to see if you'll extend your trip when you reach the destination of choice—how about a “get one night free” deal? They're available all over North America!

Where Are Some Places to Stay?
Before you get that car packed up, have a peek at some of's top hotels around the country, which just scrapes the surface of all that there is to offer.

The Mansion on Peach Tree, Georgia: Plenty of gardens and a restaurant pavilion gives you your own little oasis right in Atlanta. Designed by Robert Stern, this important hotel soars 42 stories into the sky and features 127 luxury hotel rooms. Get ready for a nice change of view before you hit the road again!

Four Seasons Chicago: Nothing like a refined break after roughing it in the car for the day, even if you were having fun. With more than 100 stores below the 66-story building, you can pick up a lovely traveling outfit or a bag from Gucci or at Bloomingdale's before dining on American or French cuisine at the Four Seasons Chicago restaurant.

Hotel Ivy, Minneapolis: Stay in this exclusive hotel for a mini-break of Guthrie Theatre, Orchestra Hall, Nicollet Mall, and the Convention Center. Be sure to stop at Minneapolis's only luxury spa club, the Ivy Spa Club, and then go to Frye & Porter to chow down on some amazing food. You've got to keep your strength to keep on driving!

Four Seasons St. Louis: This Four Seasons destination is situated in a prime location for tourists looking to explore all that St. Louis has to offer—maybe in a flash. There's plenty of shopping in the area, and you can also swing by Lumiere Place for gaming and fun. The resort-style pool is an amazing place to relax when you're gearing up to go.

Four Seasons Philadelphia: If you've been traveling the countryside and you need a city break, this might be a smart stop for you. The Four Seasons Philadelphia boasts a prime location near shopping and sightseeing, and it can also serve as your "base" when you want to explore Longwood Gardens and Atlantic City.

What Should I Get for My Adventure?
Now that you know where you want to stay, here are some important things to pack. Use some of that money that you're saving on with lower gas prices, and get some travel gadgets!

GPS: The Garmin nuvi 500 was recommended, thanks to its quick-load maps numbering 500 (both street and topographic). If you'll be headed out on the water, you can also buy inland water maps from Garmin and ensure you don't get lost anywhere.

Survival Kits: Always be prepared! A 72 Emergency Survival Kit from 4 Survival to Go packs a punch with 2,400 calories of emergency food, 750 ml of drinkinItalicg water, a poncho, flashlight, first aid kit, a bivy sack, and even a deck of cards to pass the time before rescue.

Auto/Air Power Adapter: Innergie produces an mCube90 DC, which you can plug into your car's DC outlet and charge two devices, including most laptops, and it's hardly even bigger than a hotel bar of soap!

Broadband2GoModem: Buy this Virgin Mobile USA gadget to plug into your computer and get 3G wireless Internet access, with plans starting at $10. While it might not be useful while exploring the great and vast wilderness, it's good for city-to-city hops when you'll be in populated areas.

Rechargeable Blender: Olé! If margaritas sound like a good idea for you when you kick back in your hotel, it might be time to buy a Coleman Rechargeable Portable Blender, which is equipped with AC and DC chargers. You can go 20-30 pitchers' full before you need to charge up again.

Where will your great American tour take you?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Man Loses Winning Lottery Ticket

A 69-year-old Florida man has lost a scratch-off ticket that he had purchased at Gold Coast Liquors on Lake Worth Road, and it just might become part of the pile of unclaimed tickets that are investigated on case-by-case basis. Too upset to even discuss it with the press at length, Louis Tolentino said that he had received the confirmation receipt of the $500,000 winnings, but on the way home, he got lost. Stopping at a West Palm Beach gas station for directions, Tolentino said that someone had gotten a little too close for comfort behind him in line, and that when he got home, the ticket was missing from his back pocket. The one-time New York City cab driver said that he filed reports with the police and called the Florida Lottery.

$83 million of Florida lottery winnings were unclaimed from 2007 through 2008, so it sounds like Tolentino might become one of the unluckiest group of all: those who strike it rich and lose everything, barely even knowing it. Had he written his name and address on the back of the ticket after realizing it was a winner, things would probably be different, and would have facilitiated a ticket claim. For now, Tolentino must wait and pray for good fortune—and quite a few people are hoping that things turn out well for the retiree with a simultaneous lucky (and unlucky) streak.

For those who are already fortunate or are ready to emerge from this recession with some savings, luxury hotels will be waiting, because you don't have to be a lottery winner to take advantage of some of the very best hotels & resorts around the world. With Exclusive Complimentary Perks and special deals, you just might find yourself hobnobbing with the rich and famous sans lotto luck.

Looking for some location suggestions? Here are some North American spots you simply can't miss:

The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa
This resort is the only one with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, and it's been a destination and state landmark since 1929. With a gourmet restaurant, an 18-hole championship putting course, 8 swimming pools, and 7 tennis courts, it's easy to feel like a millionaire as you enjoy the interesting Arizona landscape and climate.

Taj Boston
Located between Arlington and Newbury, the Taj Boston is a must-visit spot in Massachusetts for anyone enamored with traditional-style hotels in prime locations. Despite being just 3 miles away from Logan Airport, the hotel overlooks the park and its charming swan boat rides that top the "to do" list for many Boston tourists. After a complete restoration in 2002, the Taj Boston is ready more than ever to receive special guests from around the world, and provide them with award-winning service.

Jumeirah Essex House
This was voted the Leading Hotel 2007 in North America by the World Travel Awards, and it's got a prime location along with a stunning interior and amenities. Located at Central Park South, this hotel is perfectly situated for those looking to explore much of New York on foot: it's close to Times Square, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Lincoln Center. Opened in 1931, the Jumeirah Essex House rises 44 floors into the sky.

The Arrabelle, Vail Square
The newly developed Vail Square was architecturally inspired by European city squares nestled near the Alps, and isn't that the perfect place to go when planning your wintertime ski holiday? This hotel has 36 guest rooms with an additional set of condo units that can accommodate larger parties with 2-5 bedrooms. At night, the specially-designed square simply glows against the backdrop of slopes and drifts, and if you forget for a minute, you're going to think you're in a luxury alpine resort right in the middle of Europe.

Four Seasons Washington, D.C.
This Four Seasons is an art-filled Washington, D.C. location with 26 suites amongst its 200-plus room offerings. Step through the glass-protected hallways that separates the east and west wings, zip in for a lavish dinner at the Seasons restaurant, and don't forget to squeeze in a workout before you tour the town.

If Louis Tolentino gets his trouble sorted out, we hope he'll be heading off to celebrate at a luxury hotel. Even if he doesn't get that $500K payout, he could still book one of the specials across WhataHotel !

Monday, August 3, 2009

Top Restaurant Cities

Are you looking for the perfect place to wine and dine? Here's a stellar list for those who want the best cuisine that America has to offer--and that's not all! MSNBC put together a comprehensive list of big and small cities around the States with something to offer, and it would be great to have a page through the full slideshow to see if you can't find something closer to home as well.

New York
New York is said to be the last city in the States where Americans still take lunch seriously: it can be a two-hour affair! The Four Seasons New York, which was opened in 1959, is actually where the term “power lunch” was first coined. With over 23,000 restaurants, New York attracts plenty of tourists looking to spend a lot on the privilege of enjoying steakhouses, little bistros, and more!

Hotels to Consider
Four Seasons New York: One of the city's tallest hotels (along with the Trump below), this I.M. Pei-designed hotel has the looks and the service to please international travelers with an eye for style (and sightseeing). There are hundreds of rooms available with a view.
Trump International: Rising up 52 floors above Central Park, this hotel is a grand stop for tourists and features gracious, spacious guest rooms, entertainment center, fully equipped kitchens, and plenty of marble for the full effect.

San Francisco
San Francisco is considered a “great foodie town,” and it offers a diverse variety of cuisine both inspired by Asian cuisine as well as the natural food movement. While you can find food from Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese transplants, you'll also be able to experiment with the Provencal-Mediterranean tastes.

Hotels to Consider
The Fairmont San Francisco: The Fairmont San Francisco is a testament to luxury, but it has all the modern amenities along with classic lines. Business travelers are welcome and will enjoy perks like a spacious work desk and multi-line phone.
Le Meridien San Francisco: This luxury hotel is located right in the center of the financial district, and it is connected by a landscaped pedestrian bridge to places for shopping, plus entertainment centers and main leisure attractions.

Chicago's not just a steak town: it holds the bragging rights as the primary city of “molecular cuisine” experimentation. There are plenty of innovation places to dine, offering a variety of sophisticated fare, but there are only three small restaurants testing the boundaries of gastronomic cookery: Alinea, Schwa, and Moto.

Hotels to Consider
Four Seasons Chicago: The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is a shopper's paradise and has more than 100 stores located close by--ripe for the picking! A full-service spa, Roman-columned pool, and cutting-edge fitness center awaits if you can bear to leave your gorgeous room.
Swissotel Chicago: The Swissotel Chicago offers world-class accommodations with precise Swiss service, good enough to make you swoon. Explore the Miracle Mile and get a rub-down at the spa to work out traveling kinks.

Las Vegas
10 years ago, foodies wouldn't have been able to imagine Las Vegas hitting the list of good places to get grub, but things have changed. With a number of casinos opening in the 1990s, restaurateurs were pulled in from the four corners, including Emeril, Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, and Guy Savoy, to open restaurants.

Hotels to Consider
Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas: Did you know that this Four Seasons hotel is the only AAA five-diamond property in Las Vegas? Guests have easy access to entertainment (and food!), but this non-gaming destination is a perfect place to kick back.
Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino: Located in the heart of Las Vegas, this new hip hotel offers plenty of shows and dining that you'd expect from a spot in Sin City. There's award-winning dining to be experienced, as well as spa relaxation.

Where's your next stop?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Four Seasons Tops Ritz Carlton

Did you know that the Ritz-Carlton has now fallen behind the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as the best hotel in the country in an annual poll? Michael Drago, director of global hospitality and travel practice at at J.D. Power and Associates in Westlake Village, the conductor of the 2009 North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, said that guests didn't even mind paying more for their stay, and that “The average spent per night on room rates and fees is more than 10% greater at the Four Seasons than at the Ritz, and yet the satisfaction [with costs] is dramatically higher.” In general, guests were happier with their hotel stays, and the experts are weighing in that part of the reason behind the ease might be the economy. We're happier with service and extra perks, and part of that might be because hotels are sweetening the deal to draw in new visitors and tourists. There are also fewer reservation mistakes, so you run a greater chance of enjoying your stay at your luxury hotel with nary a blip.

As for top Four Season hotels, you'll surely be happily Tweeting away when you visit. With such an impressive rate of customer satisfaction, you'll soon be letting everyone know how your stay is going. Whether you stick with the Four Seasons, extensively covered as a partner, or the Ritz-Carlton, also available at WhataHotel!, we know you'll enjoy your stay—the facts don't lie!

If you're stumped on a possible hotel to explore on your next vacation, here are just a few Four Seasons hotels we suggest:

*Four Seasons Hotel Firenze: Located in Tuscany, the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze situates you perfectly for exploring the countryside. Dating back to Roman times, Florence is a treasure trove of old buildings, artifacts, museums, and artistic relics for the viewing. The hotel claims that they are “close to everything that matters,” and it's true. Great for sightseers and history buffs!
*Four Seasons Dublin: The Four Seasons Hotel Dublin offers spacious quarters where you can explore the city and all it has to offer. They have a fantastic spa on-site for massage, masks, pedicures, and more.
*Four Seasons New York: This hotel classic soars in Manhattan as the highest hotel, and hundreds of rooms have a stunning view. Designed by I.M. Pei, this hotel is a truly amazing New York lodging option.
*Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.: Prepare yourself for excellence in an advantageous location: this Four Seasons spot is found near the National Museum of Anthropology, the Chapultepec Park, and lots of shopping and residential areas. Take it in and then retire to your oversized guest room overlooking a courtyard.
*Four Seasons Hotel London: Opening post-renovation in 2010, this hotel is located near the traditional Bond Street and Knightsbridge shopping spots. The Four Seasons Hotel London offers a restaurant overlooking a private garden for lunch and dinner as well as high-speed internet and large banquet rooms.

You can follow What a Hotel at @5StarHotels.