Friday, December 31, 2010

Zagat's Top-Ranked Hotel Restaurants

Have you ever stayed in a hotel that you thought you loved... until you decided to dine in the hotel restaurant, that is? Zagat went to work on a list of restaurants that won't yield the same results—these have expanded menus, specialty offerings, and a list of accolades that set them apart. Just because you are staying in a fine luxury hotel doesn't mean that you're guaranteed the same class of meal, Zagat points out, but they've done the legwork in order for you to avoid the less-than-amazing experiences.

Hotel Restaurant Suggestion #1:
MGM Grand's L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

The MGM Grand's Las Vegas location puts you in the heart of the action, with easy access to nightlife, gambling, spectacular city sights, and entertainment that only Las Vegas can provide. As the MGM Grand puts it, they deliver “Maximum energy. Maximum indulgence. Maximum escape,” and that indulgence can be found on L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon's menu, too. Zagat called the New French cuisine at the MGM Grand hotel restaurant “stunning,” adding that the small-plate dinners are best enjoyed when eaten at a U-shaped bar, where you can see the action in the open kitchen, too.

Hotel Restaurant Suggestion #2:
Four Seasons Hotel Houston's Quattro

It's not just the food at Quattro that made the Four Seasons Hotel Houston's restaurant arrive on Zagat's list, but the price. Quattro is considered the most affordable hotel restaurant on their list, at around $46 per person for dinner. Quattro's dining concept involves a “small plates” meal experience that changes weekly, and one can go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or for their antipasto feast. If you have a taste for Italian favorites, then you might want to indulge in tiger shrimp, expertly-finished risotto, calamari, or the lamb tenderloin.

Hotel Restaurant Suggestion #3:
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills' The Bazaar

Zagat chose The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills for its internationally-known chef working magic in the kitchen: SAAM at the Bazaar by José Andrés is an exciting fixture, but you'll need to be prepared with a slightly higher budget than for Houston's Quattro restaurant. The modern meals at SLS' SAAM employ modern techniques, improving upon traditional-style tastes. As the website describes, “Pristine but not pretentious service guides guests through a memorable evening of innovative fare. Set in an elegant, hidden dining room designed by Philippe Starck, SAAM offers a quiet retreat from the bustle of the Bazaar, where the chef's creations and world-class wines take center stage.” Is your mouth watering yet?

Zagat's other hotel restaurant favorites include T. Cook's, at the Royal Palms Resort and Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona; The Lobby at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills, California; and the Addison at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego. Zagat's full list of luxury hotel restaurants is here, so you can easily locate the restaurant to dine at—and a hotel room to book—when you are planning business travel.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Business Hotels Announced for 2010

Business hotels can satisfy or disappoint, depending on what you get, when you get it, and when you need it. A property in the downtown business / financial district of a city is great, but the best hotels combine thier location with the most sought after amenities to earn high rankings for the top business class hotels.

When comparing the Travel + Leisure lists of 2009 and 2010, one major point of interest does arise: 19 out of the top 29 luxury business hotels that placed in 2010 were not on the list in 2009. The highest concentration of business hotels was in Asia, as opposed to the United States, and this could, reporters conclude, be connected to the shift in recent years as the U.S. struggled with economic changes. That said, while the U.S. had a reduced number of cities topping the list when compared to Asia, there was double the number of hotels on the list from 2009 (5) to 2010 (10).

Beijing has two hotels listed for 2010, which includes the St. Regis Beijing, moving from 15th place in 2009 to an astounding 6th place. Meanwhile, Four Seasons Shanghai put the city of Shanghai on the map after Shanghai didn't even place in the top 25 last year. The Peninsula Hong Kong placed at number 2 on the list, with experts citing service and hi-tech equipped rooms as two reasons why executives regularly return to this luxury business hotel.

In South America, Buenos Aires grabbed three spots on the list, including the Hilton Buenos Aires, which tied for number 15, the Alvear Palace Hotel (no. 22), and the Palacio Duhau. Interestingly, the Hilton Buenos Aires also placed as one of the few hotels providing great value, with rates starting at $250 or less.

And the number 1 hotel? The Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta was ranked the number-one hotel for business travelers, with an overall score of 98.1. The hotel is located with close proximity to business, shopping, and leisure hubs in the city, and its fine positioning surely helped it place on the top business hotel list.

The premier location also happens to have excellent views—just a feature that makes your experience more enjoyable—and also has a house car service that takes guests anywhere within a six-mile radius, free of charge. Besides internet access in the business center, a fitness center, and a daily newspaper, this hotel has a salt-water lap pool, steam rooms, and saunas, plus poolside amenities. And that's not all, if you book it today and complete your stay before 2011 begins, you can get the 3rd Night FREE and experience the hotel in a non-business state-of-mind while ringing in the New Year right there!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hot Holiday Spots for 2011

Travel is picking up! Like anything that involves seasonal activities or deals, there are trends when it comes to travel, and a few places are leading the way for travelers worldwide. Curious about what’s particularly hot for 2011? If you head where tourism is heating up, you can find quality packages, pepped-up service, and nice new activities and monuments, all perfect for families and single travelers alike.

Top Spots for Traveling
New York is one of the most popular spots for traveling in 2011, but the reason for it is somber: next year will be the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The September 11th memorial, with reflecting pools set near the World Trade Center site, is due to be open by the anniversary. Lonely Planet named New York the “number-one city” for Best in Travel 2011, with the publisher’s Robert Reid writing "For all of New York, 11 September 2011 will be a defining moment.”

We can’t forget about London. Always a wonderful spot to visit, it will be more crowded than ever come April 29th. Kate Middleton and Prince William will be getting married on that date--and even are rumored to be inviting some of regular folk to attend--and it’s expected that the nuptials will result in a tourism boom.

"If Charles and Diana got 600,000 people who came into London for that wedding, I could see a million for this one," Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer Guides, said.

And there’s more, too! Alaska is expecting crowds in 2011, because of the success of Sarah Palin’s TLC series Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Australia invited Oprah Winfrey and her most loyal fans to the country, spending $4 million, but they expect to reap the rewards in upcoming seasons. Meanwhile, back in the States, Washington D.C. expects a large gathering when the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is erected at the National Mall. The 28-foot-tall statue will be erected on August 28th, close to where his “I have a dream” speech was given 48 years prior.

There are quite a few options for you for 2011, and now it's a question of trimming down your list--always the hardest part!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Claus Makes a Change to Visit Resorts

Santa Claus might have enjoyed revving up his sleigh and prepping his reindeer to take to the sky, but a modern-day Santa has a lot more options. This year, Santa at the Four Seasons Mauritius gets to make a mega-entrance by sky diving, and last year, he arrived by pirate ship. While Santa definitely makes a lot of visits to luxury spots worldwide in December, it sounds like he never tires of giving travelers a holiday thrill.

There are some variables when it comes to Santa’s visit, though: he doesn’t always know when he’ll arrive, and it varies from year to year. Sometimes, he starts making his first rounds as early as November, and in Brazil and in Scandinavia, he’s likely to arrive on Christmas Eve to do his thing. Other resorts get a visit on Christmas Day itself--perhaps Santa’s second-shift trip?

There are two special appearances by Santa Claus that get rave reviews, year after year. The first is at the Oberoi, on the Red Sea, where Santa skips the reindeer and instead takes his journey by camel. After his caravan arrives at the hotel, Santa starts up a Christmas party in which children and adults alike get into the spirit of the holiday. Oh, and we can’t forget about the stockings filled with holiday cookies!

For those who seek a traditional Christmas with dramatic flair, the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia delivers. With a gentle dusting of snow on the ground, a classic horse-drawn sleigh is brought right up to the door of the hotel. After visitors snap pictures of the fantastic sleigh, they can attend the Gingerbread Ball, a holiday bash, and then check out the life-size sculpture of Santa and his reindeer.

It’s worth traveling to a resort just to see Santa hard at work. Resort and vacation Santas are well-known for their exceptional cheer, and a trip to a hot location come Christmas always needs a few holiday extras to make the holidays feel just as jovial. These Santa Claus luxury hotel drop-ins should do the trick!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shopaholics' Favorite Spots

Do you have a shopaholic in your life? Whether it's you or a "friend" planning a shopping-based vacation, some places are just better for buying. When your pockets are stuffed with gift cards, and you have a vacation coming up to plan, it might be worth checking out some of the best places to shop in the world. Don't set yourself up for disappointment when it comes to international shopping!

Buenos Aires
If you have a thing for leather, then come to Buenos Aires. The Argentinian capital features options galore when it comes to leather goods, like handbags, jackets, shoes, and wallets, and after you pick up something for yourself in the leather market, you can head to designer shops downtown, as well as on Calle Florida and Calle LaValley.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Buenos Aires' Best Hotels include Four Seasons and Caesar Park.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong is far more than an electronics mecca, as evidenced by the Chinese nation's love of labels. The Jade Market located in Yau Ma Tai features 400 stalls stuffed with the good-luck stone, and from there, it's worth visiting the historic Stanley Market for porcelain and silk. And next year? Book a trip to Hong Kong right before Christmas, when you can catch the WinterFest, a duty-free shopping blowout that's warm up your credit cards and leave you with plenty to gift when you return Stateside.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Luxury Hong Kong Hotels vary from the towering to the austere.

Los Angeles
Here's your chance to shop like a celebrity! Go to Rodeo Drive, where every celebrity knows they can get snapped by the paparazzi, and then stop by one of L.A.'s famed outdoor shopping centers. The Grove sells lots of little goodies, while Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade has a funkier atmosphere.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Stay in a hotel fit for a celebrity by choosing one of Los Angeles' top-ranked locations.

The bazaars and souks, the shoes and shawls... Marrakech is a mind-blowing experience for any shopper, even the seasoned type. You'll experience a drastic change of environment, with winding paths and willy-nilly stalls, and then you'll have to dicker for the piece you've got in your sights. Can you handle the bargaining? If that's not to your taste, you can always enlist the most daring of your friends to negotiate your deals.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Marrakech's Best Hotels combine traditional cultural flair with modern convenience.

It's not just the Parisian atmosphere that's romantic, but the deals! Okay, that's debatable, but there's some retail magic in most Parisian shops, from the chocolatier to the boutiques. Set yourself up at a cafe to plot your retail attack, and then visit the shopping spot near Place des Vogses, which is home to shops and galleries. The “can't miss” place in Paris is certainly the 8th arrondissement, with haute couture and fashion houses lining the streets.

Your Luxury Lodgings Pairing: Stay in a Parisian palace from this collection of Luxury Hotels.

Take your pick: which shopping destination would you put first on your list?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Real Secret Santa

There's something to be said for Christmas cheer, even in the time of non-denominational parties and generic greetings of "Happy Holidays"! Secret Santa II hit the streets of Kansas City to start the celebrations early, handing out payments in $100 bills this week. People were simply stopped in the street and asked to tell their story, and then given a present of $100 or more.

Why “Secret Santa II”? Well, this Santa is a second-generation surprise-giver following in the footsteps of Larry Stewart, who died in 2007 at the age of 58. Stewart would give out $1 million in crisp bills every December to absolute strangers, getting replies that varied from gratitude to shock to disbelief.

Secret Santa II gave out an incredible $10,000 in one day this week, and he wasn't answering questions about his finances, like where he gets the bills or whether it was harder to create a nice Christmas bag of money for his surprised recipients in this economy.

This kind soul giving out cash might not be handing out as much at the original Secret Santa--$40,000 is what he has in his coffer for 2010—but the amount he's delivering is making a difference. According to watchers, the replacement Secret Santa gave money to a homeless man headed down the street with a shopping cart, a woman with 27 grandchildren, a police officer with terminal cancer, and an unemployed mom--and that's just a sample of recipients!

"He walked up to Peggy Potter, 59, of Kansas City, Kan., who was looking at some framed prints at a thrift store. He made some small talk, put his arm around her and within minutes she was crying. Her son died about a year and a half ago. Her husband died in July and her daughter died soon after that,” MSNBC describes. Secret Santa II gave her $200 after listening to her story.

"I'm just ... today's been a rough day for me, just thinking about my loved ones," she said. "I've been having a hard time paying for all the funerals."

If your heart is warmed by Santa's selfless giving, don't forget that you can give back at any time of the year. Even if you're staying in a luxury hotel at a special resort, you can sign up for volunteer opportunities in a nearby community. If you're not the handy type but you do want to make a difference, you can “adopt” a child in the country of your choice through a children's charity, or only stick to buying souvenirs from locals in town. Anything you can think of that makes someone's life just a little better is encouraged.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunsets Worth Traveling For

Some people are “sunset people” and others are “sunrise people.” If you happen to be part of the former group, then you can prepare yourself for a list to end all lists: sunsets worth traveling for, all over the world. While it's calming to see a burst of color over an open field outside of your hometown, there are sunsets to see over the ocean, peeking from behind European villages, and melting into the mountains. decided to take on the task of determining some of the world's best, with the help of celebrities and travel experts.

The beach is one of the first places a perfect sunset can be located. The reflection on the water, the movement of the waves, and the often tropical trees framing orange sky is a combination that will stick in the memory. The Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmerman said that some of his favorite sunsets in the world have been near the ocean, saying “Top sunsets on my list would have to include the beach in Seminyak, Bali, and sitting in sand on the Mahoe Bay on Virgin Gorda in the BVI, sharing the event with my wife and son--and not a person in sight."

The best sunset Zimmerman ever caught was in Sicily, Italy. "Ten kilometers from the hotel, the entire countryside is dominated by waving fields of wheat [with] ancient palazzo and villas and the ocean ringing the horizon,” Zimmerman described. “The view and the sunset were so dramatic we stopped the car and walked to a hilltop to watch it. The setting sun that night cast the most beautiful light I have ever seen in my life. Nothing has ever matched it."

If you are looking for somewhere else, runners-up include Canada, Scotland, and Africa for Zimmerman, but another travel expert's preferred sunset-spotting location was in the southern hemisphere, in Chile's Valley of the Moon. Julia Dimon described the sight of the winter sun setting, explaining that the desert washes over in tones of red, purple, and orange.

“A warm hue illuminates million-year-old mountain ranges,” she explained. “They jet out from sand dunes like the spine of some prehistoric reptile. Millennia of desert winds have sculpted stones and sand formations and the colors dance in the early evening light. Jupiter beams brightly in the sky, as a patchwork of celestial stars start to sparkle."

If you're going to be snapping pictures of sunsets-that-stun, however, try focusing on something closer to you. By keeping your camera trained on a gorgeous tree, a rock formation, or a picturesque villa, you'll reduce the chance of sunspots. After you capture the view, kick back on your luxury hotel's balcony and commit the rest to memory.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advice from the World's Most Traveled Man

The world's most well-traveled man has some advice for you, and you'd best take it. After traveling to an astonishing 823 of the world's 872 countries, Charles Velay has almost seen it all. He's been stranded in Antarctica with scant supplies (and prayed to survive the stay); he's spent time in caves, on islands, and in untouched locales. The married father of three booked the bulk of his travel between 2000 and 2008, but he still manages to fly 200,000 miles a year.

With that much travel under his belt, super traveler Velay has plenty of advice for those of us who prefer to bed down in a luxury hotel for at least one night. We might not be roughing it in Antarctica, but many of us have the same passion for mysterious destinations scattered across the globe, like Marrakech, Cairo, Jakarta, and Istanbul.

Go everywhere twice.
“Every airport looks less threatening the second time you see it,” Velaytold MSNBC, encouraging travelers to swing by their destinations two times in a lifetime. Luxury hotels are available for discounted rates during specific periods of the year, so by traveling out of season, you can easily book an additional stay in a place you felt you didn't get enough of the first time.

Be friendly.
A smile is international, and even if you don't know a word of the local language, it can ease your transition from the hotel to the trail.

Shrink your belongings.
Your luggage might not be able to get smaller, but your things inside can take up less room if you select the right packing materials. One traveler interviewed recommended compression sacs to reduce the volume of must-haves, and these bags work for anything as long as it's not leather. Have a voluminous gown that you're going to wear at the Hotel de Crillon? Use suction to compress tulle and frothy layers, and you will have more room for accessories.

Turn off your mind.
Velay knows how travelers frequently need to kill time between transfers, pick-ups, and shuttle rides, and there's no need to get sulky when something goes wrong. “To deal with routine travel today, all the hours of waiting, all the delays, the best advice is to just turn your mind off,” Velay told MSNBC. “The great thing is to have an iPhone or a Blackberry that lets you plow through your to-do list.”

Don't panic if you don't have the “right” supplies.
Velay reminds travelers that any “forgot it!” disasters are opportunities to spend time interacting with locals and pick up a possible souvenir.

Pack light.
With per-bag fees and lost baggage, you can easily spoil your travel experience with a luggage problem. Packing light will ensure that you keep your belongings close, and that you can maneuver more easily in your vacation destination. Struggling with overstuffed luggage can be a thing of the past, particularly if you consider how many microfiber, waterproof, and “smart” bags are available to the modern traveler.

Traveling can be tough these days, with near-bursting airports and the threat of cancellation, so it will be to your advantage to prepare bookings in locations that offer you the best package. With luxury hotel deals the world over, you can rough it when you want, and then find the right place to settle down for a well deserved respite from it all. Consider a spa treatment to give you the power to keep on touring that vacation spot the next day. Just don't forget Velay's advice!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Surprising Cultural Practices: Business Travel Edition

One of the best things about traveling is seeing and experiencing things you’d never witness in your hometown, from an unusual greeting to a strange dish of local treats. Of course, there’s a fine line between cultural curiosity and cultural ignorance. This rings especially true for women combining business and pleasure in one trip, since they’ll need to switch from tourist mode to business mode in a flash. To make the most of your business meetings--which will make time off so much sweeter--why not get your fill of surprising cultural practices from around the world?

Dress: What’s Acceptable?
It’s easy enough to pack a suitcase full of work-appropriate clothes for a trip to New York or San Francisco, but what about a stay in Japan and the Middle East? A smart pantsuit with a sharply-tailored blazer and a simple blouse might scream “take me seriously!” in the United States, but in countries like China, Russia, and India, women business travelers need to take things one step further. Cover the elbows and knees when meeting for business, and button that blouse all the way up to your neck. Save your brightly-colored separates for another day, too, because neutrals are expected on businesswomen--as are skirts instead of pants. You’ll need to pack accordingly to command respect, unless you like whirlwind shopping trips when you land.

Luxury Lodging List: Businesspeople should review the best hotels in Tokyo.

Networks: How to Make Them advises women travelers to prepare a network to ensure that business meetings go smoothly. When planning a business meeting in countries like China, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia, it’s recommended that you bring along an intermediary to bridge the gap between you and your hosts. In the Islamic Middle East, experts recommend that your host be male. If you know the right people in your field, you’ll have an easier time closing deals (and getting back to the fun of seeing the sights!).

Luxury Lodging List: If you're traveling to China, then luxury hotel recommendations for Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai will guide you to the best exclusive complimentary perks available.

Respecting Your Hosts: The Nitty-Gritty
Of course, there are also the finer points to cross-cultural business meetings. Even if you’re traveling mostly for pleasure and just have a single meeting scheduled, there are a few tips that can help you ace your meeting. For example, when you’re offered beverages or snacks from your host, it’s imperative that you accept something. If you don’t and you are in Asia or the Middle East, you’ll be guilty of disrespecting your new business contacts.

It doesn’t hurt to bring gifts to a business meeting, although it’s recommended that you exchange presents at the end of your meeting instead of at the beginning. “Made in America” presents like books and art are smart things to bring, and if you have something scheduled in China or Japan, know that American whiskey is very much appreciated.

Luxury Lodging List: For those traveling to the Middle East, you might be interested in luxury hotel suggestions specific to Doha, Dubai, Amman, Jeddah, and Riyadh.

Combining a sightseeing trip with business meetings is typical these days, but it can be tricky if you’re going somewhere brand-new. Armed with this knowledge about faux pas, dress, and gifting, you can sign your contract and still have time for a leisurely meal in your far-off destination.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Perfect Gift: A Flight and a Luxury Hotel Stay

American Airlines recently released their holiday shopping suggestions, which are all about giving the gift of flight in a variety of fashions. While vouchers are the most well-known of holiday flight gifts, airlines are making it clear that these aren't the only way to spread cheer.

Besides the simple ways to give flights to loved ones, there are also innovative options for the regular traveler. For example, American Airlines offers Lounge One-Day Passes to the Admirals Club, which are priced at $50. This pass can be used in any of the airline's lounges, and it gives your traveler in mind a great way to relax while prior to departure instead of sitting or standing at the boarding gate.

Did you know that airlines also issue gift cards or gift certificates for presents? Research the average cost of the flight or talk to a travel agent, and then you can purchase a card in any denomination up to $1500 from American Airlines, for example. What's even better is that American is giving back $5 from every $50 travel purchase to Susan Komen for the Cure, so your buy will also be helping a worthy cause at an important time of year. If the denominations on the gift cards aren't to your liking, perhaps a gift certificate would suit you, since AAVacations has them available without set denominations.

Still looking? You can also buy or share miles with someone during the holidays, perhaps with a plan to have them come visit a city nearby. You can encourage your friend or family member to travel in style, luxuriate in a beautiful hotel, and then come visit you, too! If you share American Airlines miles before December 31st, for example, they will award you with 25% bonus miles.

If you really want to go over the top this December, why not ehance your gift of flight with a reservation for luxury accommodations by selecting one of the many viewing the hotel specials available.

The luxury hotel pick and manner of presenting your gift is up to you, but no matter how you do it, you know that the person who receives a flight and hotel stay will be overjoyed. Browsing now will ensure a great holiday present and some of the best travel deals you'll find, so why not start looking today? Chirstmas is right around the corner.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holidays at Disney World

Have you ever considered going to Walt Disney World for Christmas? It's common to wonder whether or not the crowds will be overwhelming or if this will be a perfect time to take in the sites--we've got your Q&A right here!

Will it be crowded?
Walt Disney World is a favorite family destination, but WDW doesn't keep filling the park all day. Get there early and get in, as the park could be closed to visitors who arrive later in the day when maximum capacity is reached. With a plan in hand, you should have no problem enjoying Walt Disney World during the holidays.

What should I do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Many guests who stay at Walt Disney World suggest the Epcot Center and the Candlelight Processional on Christmas Eve. When you're spending the holidays at Disney, you should book extra-special events to add to the Christmas cheer. Guests truly enjoy this break from day-to-day routine, and for children, it's a fantastic holiday thrill.

Why do people go to the Magic Kingdom at Christmastime?
Walt Disney takes the Magic Kingdom and turns it all around on Christmas, and you will see evidence of this as soon as you enter the Kingdom: there's a massive Christmas tree in Town Square and a lot of decorations strewn around Main Street. Top attractions include enchanted storytelling and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade.

Where can I stay?
Many guests going to Walt Disney World are overwhelmed when trying to select accommodations. Our favorite pick? The Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which is a gem of a location that also provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of Walt Disney World at Christmastime BUT still close enough to provide complimentary shuttles throughout the day & evening to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Oh, and one more thing: don't forget to write Santa and tell him where you'll be this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold brings out ski buffs

With dropping temperatures around the globe, even weather forecasters in Miami are warning listeners about frosty conditions, windchill, and frostbite. It's not a time to be frolicking outdoors. . . or so they say!

If you live somewhere like Miami, the “cold” temperatures are actually a nice break from the norm. The air gets clear and crisp, the sun seems brighter, and one can finally bring out the winter fashions for a night out on the town.

There's also the ski vacations when it gets colder. If you're a ski buff this is now prime time for all the resorts that have been on your list. Some of our top locations for ski resorts follow!

Colorado: Hotel Jerome, Aspen
Aspen is one of the quintessential skiing stops for snow bunnies, and what's great about bringing your skis or snowboard out here is that the accommodations are spectacular. With Exclusive Complimentary Perks and a bevy of outdoor activities to enjoy, you'll get your fill of winter fun. Thanks to the drop in temperature, your mountain of choice will be powderiffic, too!

Vermont: Stowe Mountain Lodge
This century-old ski lodge isn't a log cabin in the woods by any means: it's an impressive resort built in the “Alpine style,” with 139 rooms and six stories. Vermont's ski industry dates back to the early '30s, when Vermont CCC director Montpelier’s Perry Merrill cut the first ski trails on Mount Mansfield. If you're from the east coast, this ski town is easily accessible.

Wyoming: Four Seasons Resort at Jackson Hole
Isn't it welcoming that in lower-than-low temperatures, this luxury hotel offers you warm cider upon check-in? Wyoming's stunning natural beauty isn't just to be enjoyed in the summer, especially since the Four Seasons has everything ready to fight cold weather and keep you skiing all day: heated ski boot storage, private ski lockers, s'more snacks for apres-ski, and ski-in, ski-out concierge. Take some pictures of the Teton Range, which encircles the resort, before you leave.

Utah: St. Regis Deer Crest Resort
There's something about being by a crackling fire when the winds blow that thrills those of us who grew up in slightly warmer climes. By booking a luxury stay at the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort, you get to do just that and gaze at the nearby Wasatch Mountains. There's ski-in, ski-out access at this resort, plus a private “ski beach” and hot tubs. 67 luxe suites are waiting for your winter vacation.

Some people might dread colder weather, but to others, it just means more fun! With snow piling high on the mountains and the hotels stocking up on holiday cheer, it's a perfect time to look into a wintertime escape.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unique, Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips

Have you made your bucket list of to-die-for-vacations? If you haven't given any thought to the places you need to see in your lifetime, then now's the time to start. If you wait until the last minute before you start planning your trip each year, then you can't hammer down the fine points of such a vacation. Nobody wants that, so it's time to surf a website with the finest hotels & resorts on the planet for vacation specials on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

African Safaris
If you decide to take your African vacation to the max, you can head into the misty mountains and see gorillas (the silver-backed kind!) in their natural habitat. While you have to be able to hike up and down in thin oxygen and on a winding path, when you see peaceful gorillas munching on tiny berries, you'll capture the photo of a lifetime.

Your Lodging: In the case of a gorilla trek, your lodging will depend on which type of gorilla you are tracking. We recommend staying in a luxury lodge before you head out on your trip into the bush, where you're likely to camp the next day.

Fossil-Hunting in Kenya
Head to Kenya and learn about travelers like the Leakeys, who studied the roots of civilization. Find out about research areas that feature amazing 3.5-million-year-old fossils only recently discovered. You'll also get a chance to explore the earth on your own, and who knows what you could find?

Your Lodging: The The Mount Kenya Safari Club has 100 acres of land and a stunning resort hotel, and on your free time, be sure to indulge in pastimes like the bowling green and croquet.

Loire Valley Cycling Tours
If you're the face-paced type, then a cycling tour is what you need. Take to the roads in the land of the Tour de France and discover the Loire Valley. Tourists can stay in stunning estates with rich historys after spending the day zipping by sunflower fields and rolling green scenery. At night, of course, one can take advantage of legendary French wine and fine, healthy meals.

Your Lodging: To balance out your trip to the Loire Valley, visit Reims and stay in the the Chateau les Crayeres. A 20-room inn offers 400 champagnes to try, which will help you relax after rattling your bones on the roads.

Take a Camel Caravan Across the Desert
If you want to see older-than-old relics from civilizations past, then you certainly need to head to the Middle East. After seeing incredible spots like Petra in Jordan, one can head across the magnificent sand dunes on a camel, complete with a local guide who can wrangle it if need be. Don't forget to dress in light, cool layers!

Your Lodging: When staying in Jordan, book a night at Evason Ma'In Hot Springs & Six Senses Spa, which features hot springs, waterfalls, spa services, and Exclusive Complimentary Perks.

Even if you have your bucket list, it can't be set in stone. Why not add a once-in-a-lifetime trip to it right now?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warm and Luxurious Places to Go This Winter

It's cold outside, snowing in some places one might be tuning in from, and that means shoveling yourself out of the driveway or at least contending with the icy blasts that come from a big northeastern gale. Instead of fighting the cold without respite, you can always plan a break from the white stuff with a trip a little closer to the equator.

On to the suggestions...

The Caribbean: Crystal-blue waters are something you need to see at least once in your life, and going to the Caribbean is a good way to check that off your bucket list. Forget the local lake—now probably frozen over or at least totally freezing cold—and swim with dolphins, snorkel, and lounge. When you're not taking in the supremely amazing weather in the Caribbean, you should be taking advantage of amazing deals .

Central America: If you're not a resort-lounger and you prefer a touch of adventure, you should really consider heading to Central America for the exploration of a lifetime. Ruins of lost civilizations can easily be arranged through your high-quality, totally luxurious hotel, which means that you can suit up, head out in the jungle with a guide, and then relax with an in-room massage after. It's a nice change of pace from ice-skating across the parking lot and crashing on the couch at night!

Africa: Africa's another unusual, but exciting, stop for travelers. This country is an absolute wonder to navigate, explore, and film, and there are multiple luxury lodges perched right on the edge of nature preserves and some of Africa's finest natural wonders. If Africa has always interested you, but you feel intimidated, then you should try booking through a travel agency like ours, which will help you arrange your visas and get everything ready in short order.

The Maldives: If you're a beach bum, then the Maldives are a good place to visit. They are quiet and tranquil, and best of all, you can stay in one of those luxury huts that so many people love! Lounge in the sand and soak up the rays, and you should be able to last the rest of the winter back home.

South America: South America is a lot of things, and boring isn't one of them. Stay in a hotel in Peru and enjoy luxurious, traditional South American cuisine, and then trek to Machu Piccu for the trip of a lifetime. If you want to try another trip, go to Brazil and take advantage of the high-end shipping in the city of Sao Paulo, or the fantastic local fares in Northern Brazil, where it's closer to the equator and plenty warm.

Like we told you in a previous post, the sales going on right now are perfect for people to get deals, especially on higher-end hotels in diverse locations. If you want warm weather, there are specials waiting, and it's probably already tempting you. Have a look and see what suits your winter craving—international locations abound at