Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Take a Mancation

Have you heard of the travel show from Evan Mann and Gareth Reynolds called Mancations? These trips are described as visiting “places where guys go to get away from it all and get back to their primal roots,” and you know that these opportunities are bound to be testosterone-filled, thrilling, and memory-making (but stripped bare of the boring stuff.) The truth is, the number of mancations appears to be going up each year, with a 5% rise between 2011 and 2010. These vacations are fun, but they have a twist, Mancation creator Reynolds explained.

“When guys have fun together, it can be a different kind of fun,” Reynolds said. “A lot of women understand that.”

“I think the other option is to just sneak out of the house,” his Mancation co-worker (and former college buddy) added.

Mancation-Friendly Places to Go
You're ready to try that mancation, but where in the world can you go with a buddy? Check this list to whet your appetite.

The desert in general just lends itself to the mighty mancation. You can rock climb, hike, sleep out under the stars, and explore amazing stretches of open land with cowboy aspirations...and then head back to cushy suites for a quality night's rest.

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
A big desk, an ergonomic chair, and a huge bed give you ample space to conduct business this year at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. After taking an adventurous trip to the mountains, you can head to Bill's Grill for a burger and then enjoy the Flying V Bar and Grill at night.

So much has been said about going to Vegas with the boys that it seems redundant to even mention. To refresh your memory, there's the Strip, the outlying diversion, drives to Los Angeles...the list goes on. Might as well stay somewhere good to balance all that debauchery!

Caesars Palace
Mancations don't have to be all about roughing it. Enjoy luxurious settings in Caesars Palace when you're not cooking up misadventures in the City of Sin. Dine well and sleep even better in a luxury hotel fit for a king. Exclusive Complimentary Perks via your WhataHotel.com booking seal the deal.

New York
Partying, fine dining, and kicking back at a game could all be on the agenda for an urban mancation.

The Alex Hotel
Just like your mancation, this hotel is considered cutting-edge: in fact, it's been called a "new generation" of lodging in the city. The Alex Hotel is located in Midtown, which gives you excellent command over the city, from jaunts downtown to trips to Brooklyn. It also happens to look really, really good both inside and out.

There's something about Texas in general that's very manly: the proximity to the border, the ranching world, the ten-gallon hats, the tiny roadhouses. You could easy cook up a guys'-only vacation in a few minutes if you chose a Texas trip.

Hyatt Regency Country Resort and Spa
Want to top off a mancation with a few rounds of golf? Do it the luxurious way at the Hyatt Regency Country Resort and Spa. This resort allows for the perfect round of 27 holes of golf to be played, topped off with a manly sports massage in the award-winning Windflower Spa.

New Orleans
Is New Orleans a classic man's vacation destination? Well, it certainly is during Mardi Gras, and all other times of the year have a cool, manly vibe that can't be ignored. Relax, have a drink in a dive bar, and get your kicks at a voodoo shop.

The Roosevelt New Orleans
Located just one block from the French Quarter, the Roosevelt New Orleans has some fancy digs for for the enthusiastic New Orleans visitor. In-room amenities include 24-hour dining and a heated outdoor pool and hot tub. Old World charm is very much welcome here, but it won't get in the way of what you have planned for the guys.

Mancations abound in the U.S., but you can also find them abroad. From Amsterdam to Prague, you shouldn't have a problem when it comes to finding thrilling places to visit with college friends and old buddies.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hush-Hush Hideaways

Are you a celebrity getaway buff, or simply someone curious about the secrets of the stars? “Hush-hush” hideaways for celebrities are hidden away and definitely retain their mystery, even if they're on the biggest island in the Caribbean. With luxury in mind, you're already one step closer to enjoying a vacation fit for a film star.

It's not just about location and service, but about discretion. The team at MSNBC.com notes that “sealed lips” are a top reason for a celebrity to select their hotel:

“Whether they’re heading off on a honeymoon in the Maldives or a romantic Mexican beach weekend with someone who may or may not be their spouse, stars are choosing hotels that offer more than just impeccable service, palatial suites, and sunset views. They want discreet check-ins, private entries, empty beaches — and sealed lips.”

You might be spending time with family instead getting wrapped up in that Tinsel Town tawdry stuff, but experiencing an uninterrupted period of absolute luxury will do anyone good, from age 8 to 80. Hidden-away spots that celebrities favor follow!

It's hard to count the number of celebrities who frequent Mexico—there are so many of them. Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba, Britney Spears, and Courteney Cox make up a quick-and-dirty list of a few celebrities who have been spotted sunning themselves on the shores. With so many luxury options, all-inclusive deals, and discreet staff, you can relax on a private patio, gaze at crystal green water, and forget that the world exists.

Las Ventanas al Paraiso
This Ty Warner property is one of the most highly-acclaimed resorts in the world, with incredible luxury simply oozing from every corner. Expansive and richly-appointed, the Las Ventanas is a top pick amongst stars, thanks to their amazing service.

“Some of our guests register under an assumed name. They don’t want to be identified,” says Mark Kerwin, director of sales and marketing at Las Ventanas. “Guests bring their own romantic ideas, but sometimes they need a little help (in making sparks fly). The Romance Director meets these needs.”

Las Ventanas features amazing views, fun Mexican-Mediterranean décor, and a top spa. If you decide to book your stay here, then you might end up bumping into a celebrity as you enjoy the perks they offer through WhataHotel.com.

Aman Resorts
Aman Resorts keeps everything even more hush-hush than Las Ventanas. We heard that their chain helped to organize Katy Perry's wedding to Russell Brand, but they never confirmed it to the press. If they had done that, they would have gotten a stunning number of bookings, but they always keep a-listers' affairs private.

“While Aman Resorts won’t confirm or deny that staff at Aman-i-Khás, a luxury safari camp in Rajasthan, India, organized pop star Katy Perry and actor-comedian Russell Brand’s exotic, over-the-top wedding last fall, it did drop a few hints about special moments other unnamed guests have enjoyed — a private 'Maharaja-style' dinner by the lake,” MSNBC's sources point out.

If Aman sounds like it's in the perfect corner of the world for you, then you definitely need to try booking a stay in one of the Aman Resorts. Even though the chain sounds like all destinations are far-off spots, you can actually find some closer to home than expected, like in Wyoming, Utah, and the Turks & Caicos islands.

Being catered to like a celebrity isn't an everyday thing for we non-movie stars, but a top hotel is one of the best ways to evoke that sense of ultra-luxury. The best service, the most beautiful accommodations, and the most varied amenities await for you at these hush-hush hotels.

Mini-Moon Trend Still Hot

A lot of couples are choosing a mini-moon destination as their choice of break post-wedding, and their selection is a popular one after the hustle and bustle of planning nuptials. Even if you have a limited budget, you should ask yourself what you prefer—a few days out out-and-out luxury in a stunning location, or a week of mediocre digs? I know what I'd pick...

Shermans Travel cited the mini-moon trend as a sign that couples who are usually “too busy” to vacation are still managing to sneak away. 30% of just-married couples plan to go away for a few days in the next 12 months, citing work and family as two reasons that they couldn't plan a traditional one-week honeymoon break. Thankfully, there are many hotels catering to shorter breaks and weekend stays, and they still deliver the romance you desire and deserve.

“The survey confirmed that most newlyweds will take a several day mini-moon rather than not taking a honeymoon at all,” said one expert interviewed by the press, Martin Slagter.

Curious about top destinations for luxury mini-moons? These hotels and resorts have a dedication to quality service, while providing high-class accommodations for the romantic traveler.

Destination 1: Hawaii
You can still stay in the states and vacation like stars, and what's better is that you won't spend too much time in a plane. Hawaii is a lush, green paradise, and the hotels there provide unparalleled service to visitors.

Pink-hued and pretty, the Royal Hawaiian rises above the greenery in all its Art Deco-toned splendor. A setting for international royalty and honeymooners alike, the Royal Hawaiian features private lanais, great views, and indigenous accents amongst the décor choices.

This rambling lodge is spread out on Lanai'i for an experience that's been compared to a stay at a country manor. Tranquil and flanked by great golf courses, the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele provides amazing adventures by the sand and sea.

Destination 2: Belize
Swimming and snorkeling are some of the top things to do when you're on a special outing in Belize, particularly if you're on your honeymoon. One of best parts about an underwater honeymoon excursion is that you can take a waterproof camera to snap pictures of each other underwater.

Victoria House's forty-two accommodations provide a very intimate setting for honeymooners, complete with ambiance and friendly staff, too. Private villas should be your lodging of choice if you're aiming for total privacy, but the expansive suites are also incredible.

Ka'ana Boutique Resort
This resort takes local art and furnishings and frames them in an ultra-luxe surrounding. Private islands are there to be explored for diving, fishing, and beach lounging, and Ka'ana still protects the local culture with development and growth opportunities.

Destination 3: U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands is a popular destination for honeymoons, thanks to its close proximity to the States, its great shopping options, its wonderful beaches, and all those high-end, luxury resorts tucked away on their own private expanse of sand.

Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort
Caneel Bay, a Rosewood Resort, is the type of restful spot appreciated in bucketfuls by outdoorsy couples in love. Seven beaches border 170 acres where Caneel is positioned amongst tropical forest. Some of the most popular choices for honeymooners when on their mini-moon are sunset cruises, couples massages, and hiking tours.

The Westin St. John Resort
The Westin St. John is located on 47 acres on Great Cruz Bay, where the average daily temperature hits 85 degrees. With such balmy temperatures, you have no excuse not to explore the gorgeous surrounding bay. The Westin also specializes in honeymoon packages for travelers.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and Belize are just the start of your honeymoon options, with additional lists including fantastic spots near you like Eden Roc Hotel, Mexico, Jamaica Inn, and the Bahamas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Top Places to Stay and Eat in Paris

It never hurts to get an expert's opinion, particularly when that expert knows his or her way around your new vacation spot. If you have your eye on a few luxury destinations, then you should try to pair your selections with a list of top hotels to book, according to Sherman Travel. In fact, the Sherman Travel advice mentioned comes from Jim Sherman himself--it doesn't get more real than that!

The first thing to do when booking any venerable city hotel in Paris is to double-check that your booked room has been renovated. Many luxury hotels have undergone stunning transformations in the lobby area and restaurants, but there's also the chance that sections of the hotel haven't yet been retouched. By confirming your room's renovation state, you guarantee your money's worth.

“Be sure, however, to ask for a recently renovated room; these larger hotels are always updating,” Sherman writes, confirming that while luxury hotel rooms in Paris are generally great, what's even better is having a room that's got the latest state-of-the-art details.

For hot, worth-the-money hotels in Paris, Sherman recommends the following properties:

Le Meurice
Can you believe this stunning hotel property has been entrancing visitors since 1835? With a rich historical background and brand-new appointments by Philip Starck, Le Meurice strives to captivate. 160 guest rooms and suites in the hotel provide Louis XVI style with the modern expectations of any luxury hotel accommodations.

Hotel de Crillon
This former private residence is currently getting spruced up for your visit in October 2011. With splendid, sumptuous décor and a celebrated history amongst Parisian hoteliers, the Hotel de Crillon is perfectly situated on the Place de la Concorde. If interested in Paris sightseeing and activities like the Louvre and the opera, there's no better place to stay than the Hotel de Crillon.

Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris
146 comfortable guest rooms and 45 suites provide your stunning Parisian holiday home base. The Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris features windows that open right onto the avenue Montaigne, Cour Jardin, Montmartre, or even a kitty-corner view of the Eiffel Tower. A unique team of 500 employees serve your every whim via concierge and fine dining service.

One of Sherman's top picks is the Pavillon de la Reine, which he calls “Parisian luxury while saving quite a bit of money.” The Pavillon is indeed a quality luxury hotel, complete with perks from WhataHotel.com, but it also suits those not planning on staying in their hotel room much because of its affordability. To balance hotel costs with how long you'll actually be in your hotel room, try a luxe destination like the Pavillon de la Reine. Tucked behind greenery and in a flowering courtyard, the Pavillon is the ideal place to relax while on vacation.

If you have stayed in Paris before, where was your home-away-from-home?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Enjoying Luxury Vacations with Kids

Traveling with children certainly wasn't always synonymous with luxury vacationing, but now there are more resorts, more city hotels, and more getaways perfectly suited to your luxe hotel dreams. If you want to travel in style, then you should invest in child-friendly stays that provide the right mix of family entertainment and dining, plus a getaway for grownups at the spa, gym, or pool. Forget the rules of “no kids” luxury travel and use these tips to plan a vacation for the whole family.

Conde Nast Can't Stop Raving
Conde Nast can't stop raving about the Chatham Bars Inn, a hotel that's great for kids and that provides more than its fair share of diversion. The historical Cape Cod inn has been restored beautifully and offers fireside massage treatments as well as those in their quality spa for tired parents. Conde Nast raves:

"As elegant as this historic oceanfront inn is, it still has every feature to keep children busy for a week: a supervised kids' club (that even has educational field trips), a gated (read: parent-friendly) area with both a huge pool and a kiddie pool, a daily lineup of children's outdoor games, an enormous sports field, a boccie court, a human-size chess board, a barrier-reef island full of playful seals (and a boat to take you there), and a historic trolley car to drive you into the charming town of Chatham—all included in the rate."

In addition to booking a guest room directly in the large hotel's main building, guests can reserve an individual cottage on the hotel grounds that affords even more privacy and convenience. True to its New England seaside roots, the Chatham Bars Inn even offers cottages along the private beach. Ocean, property, and golf course views are available for those interested—and you'll soon be peering out your bay window in total rapture.

Four Seasons Resorts the World Over
Four Seasons hotels are well-known for their kid-friendliness, and the amount of convenience you get to enjoy during your trip makes a stay in one completely worth the investment. Easy enough to locate at many major tourist destinations, Four Seasons resorts are the favored pick of in-the-know parents.

"The children's programs are included in the rate and thus can save you several hundred dollars a day. Got toddlers? Cribs, strollers, and playpens are free, as are meals for kids under five. Got teenagers? Some properties have a dedicated teen center; the one in Bora Bora has a whole island for teens."

Some popular Four Seasons locations:

Getting a villa to call your home-away-from-home can reduce much of the vacationing stress you normally experience when traveling with children. With another atmosphere and more space, a villa allows kids to have the run of their surroundings, comfortably, while still give parents space to breathe. Reports Perrin:

“Opt for a villa with staff who can serve as your entrée into the community: Our friendly staff in Jamaica took us to their local school and church and gave us a cultural experience of the country that we could not possibly have gotten otherwise. In Italy, our cook introduced my sons to the children in the village.”

One great luxury villa option is the Westin Kan'anapali Ocean Resort, which offers comfortable villas plus all the business and pleasure amenities you expect at a luxury location. Hawaiian cultural activities, video and board games, and outdoor gas grills are all at the ready for you to make memories.

From villas to resorts, luxury vacationing just got easier with the kids in tow. It's hard for some parents to imagine truly relaxing on a trip with the entire family, but when you choose wisely, you simply can't go wrong.

Hotel Hot List Spans the Globe

When it comes to researching hotels and finding the top spots for vacationing, Conde Nast has competitors beat. They search the globe for the best finds, racking up serious flyer miles as they explore 43 countries. While Conde Nast promotes the top luxury destinations around the globe at varying price points, they point out that “the hotels share a common standard in their artful blend of high style and a strong sense of place.” Let's have a look, shall we?

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

Want to step back in time? The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is part of the stunning development by the ruling Canal family in the seventeenth century—in fact, they built nearly the entirety of San Miguel's historic district. The top pick at this special hotel is the Tower Suite, which features a giant private terrace overlooking the city and gardens. The hotel is just two blocks from El Centro and allows you to spend minimal time traveling to the sights, and more time exploring them.

“The 13-acre property, enviably sited in the centro, is without peer in a town that has its share of swank hotels. Within view of the iconic pink spires of the main church, it has 67 rooms laid out like a classic Mexican hacienda."

Four Seasons Resort Vail

This hotel evokes thoughts of the grand alpine hotels so well-known in classic films and luxury magazines of yore, and what's even better is that the whole family can enjoy this experience. Spa therapies, a dip in the pool, and mountain exploring make up just a fraction of the activities you can enjoy while at Four Seasons Resort Vail. The kids are more than welcome!

"All 121 rooms and 24 suites are spacious—the smallest are just under 600 square feet—and the decor is aptly Western, with limestone gas fireplaces, leather club chairs, and hickory and leather headboards on the coma-inducing beds."

The Ranch at Rock Creek

This ranch is a 6,000-acre wonder in Montana, one that captivates wannabe cowboys while striking awe in city folk and country travelers alike. With a great Western décor that smacks of earlier days with settlers, cowboys, and American Indians, the Ranch at Rock Creek really brings roughin' it and luxury living quite close. You won't find a TV in your hotel room, and most rooms don't have bathtubs, but you will find an unexpected depth of enjoyable activities at the ranch. A simple 25-accommodation setup affords you more privacy—even more if you select the Trapper canvas cabin, set apart from the rest of the lodge.

“And the Ranch at Rock Creek does, thanks largely to its relaxed yet professional staff, who aim to please and hit the mark every time.”

Le Royal Monceau

Conde Nast and Paris go together like cheese and crackers, and they choose some particularly wonderful properties in the city as top choices. Refurbished, perfectly situated, and stunning, the 149-room and suite layout at the Royal Monceau is one of the best accommodations available in Europe. Look for rooms with little extras, like the duplex suites and rooms that feature the elusive “garden view.”

"Residents seeking a sophisticated luxury spa experience will find the new Spa at Royal Monceau an ideal sanctuary in which to indulge in the joy of living well. With a beautifully redesigned indoor swimming pool and a new fitness centre with top of the range equipment, the Spa promises to be a haven of wellness and bliss."

Shangri-La Hotel Paris

It seems repetitive to call such a high-quality hotel like the Shangri-La a “paradise,” but that's exactly what it is. Shang Palace, a Cantonese restaurant, is due to open in the hotel in July 2011, complete with a full team of chefs from China. The compact hotel rooms are beautifully furnished and appointed with tasteful touches.

“Originally built as the residence of Roland Bonaparte (a grand-nephew), its public rooms retain regal grandeur—sky-high ceilings, ormolu and wedding cake moldings—that define Paris's 'palace' hotels.”

From mega-opulent to quaint and cozy, Conde Nast has a great deal of recommendations for you. Caution, though: once you start exploring, you'll be planning extended vacations all over Europe and North America—and that's just a start.

Hotels with Gorgeous Views

Pretty views in top hotels are the pinnacle of luxury. No matter how nice your hotel is, if you get a room that faces another building or a busy street, you won't claim the soothing effects that you'd otherwise experience in a quality hotel. Room service is so much better when you're sitting on a balcony, watching the sunset; exercising in the fitness studio is more enjoyable when you can see the ocean. These listed hotels have been ranked according to their excellent views, and they should skip to the top of your visiting list.

Post Ranch Inn
The Post Ranch Inn is perched on beautiful cliffs. Instead of ocean views and beachside resorts, the Post Ranch Inn offers a different kind of getaway. A rustic elegance is found in each of the luxury rooms, and the serene setting is perfect for getting back to nature, recharging, or honeymooning. Driving to Monterrey or Carmel from the inn is an easy trip and could be a great day-out excursion... and there are views along the way.

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch is certainly for the health-conscious, but why lock yourself up in a boring health spa when you can work out with views of the ocean, then heading down onto the sand to watch the sun come up? The Canyon Ranch Miami Beach location operates on a more relaxed principle than other health-conscious Canyon Ranch locations (Tucson and Lenox, Massachusetts).

Jumeirah Essex House
75 years of luxury at the Essex House is only part of its special appeal. This hotel has been refurbished on a $90 million budget and stands as one of the 1930s Art Deco masterpieces of its time. And the views? Well, we can't forget about those. The Jumeirah Essex House towers over Central Park South and is a reminder of different days. All guest rooms and suites have been renovated back to those '20s and '30s glory days of luxe hotels... a true New York experience awaits.

Copacabana Palace Hotel
If you want to, you can swim in the Copoacabana Palace Hotel's swimming pool while watching sunbathers on the beach. This Rio de Janeiro hotel is an institution for travelers in Brazil and has famously been the home-away-from-luxury-home of stars like Madonna and Robert Pattinson. Try the Tower Wing Building if you are interested in a city view, or the main building for the most steeped-in-tradition, oceanfront experience.

Four Seasons Hong Kong
The Four Seasons Hong Kong provides a wealth of amenities and beautifully appointed rooms, but that's not all it offers. The Four Seasons Hong Kong is located on the Victoria Harbour for a perfect view, and the Vitality Lounge at the spa is a must-visit.

Hotel Caruso
This hotel has been dubbed "nearer to the sky than sea," thanks to its perfect positioning on the Amalfi Coast. Open for the summer season and an absolute treat to experience, the Hotel Caruso is a jewel on the Mediterranean coast. One must-try is soaking in the infinity pool, which is flanked by medieval ruins and the super-blue ocean.

Out of all the hotels listed here, do you have a must-visit on your list?

Checking Out Asia's Coolest Cities

Asia's coolest cities can be found scattered across South Korea, China, and Japan, and it's an experience of a lifetime to find what each country's hidden gems are all about. Mixing up luxe-minded travel with off-the-expected-path exploration provides a fulfilling vacation experience for any adventurous traveler.

Sagada, Philippines
Sagada is famous for its abundance of natural beauty, and if you want to experience what it's best known for, you should definitely stick to an out-of-town experience. The center of the city isn't known for its gorgeous layout, but the outskirts are a bonanza of caves, gardens, and rolling hills. Tourists now range from backpackers to luxe seekers like yourself.

Things to Do
*Watch the golden sunset of Sagada.
*Visit Echo Valley, which reverberates like you wouldn't believe. Try the tunnels via the underground river, which lead back to town.
*Pick up Sagada oranges to test their juicy sweetness--they come highly recommended by visitors.

Places to Stay in the Philippines
The Peninsula Manila: Located in the heart of Manila, the Peninsula Manila provides an exquisite lodging opportunity for business and pleasure travelers alike.

Kagoshima, Japan
The highlight of Kagoshima is the volcano towering over water and land. Peaceful looking, and yet a constant reminder of the power the earth hides beneath its crust, it's actually accessible by ferry. Mountains and gardens provide an opportunity to explore hidden-away spots in one of Japan's smaller cities.

Things to Do
*Take a ferry to the smoking volcano.
*Head to the mountains, located 6 miles from the city.
*Visit the Kagoshima Zoo.

Places to Stay in Japan
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo: Plenty of amenities and a contemporary setting make the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo a great choice for the traveler in Japan.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo: Situated in the lively district of Roppongi, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo is considered one of the very best hotels in the city. Modern decor and fantastic gastronomic reviews make the Grand Hyatt Tokyo a marvelous city to explore.

Mandarin Hotel Oriental Tokyo: If you have a flair for the dramatic, then the Mandarin Hotel Oriental Tokyo is the luxury lodging to book. The lobby alone is breathtaking, surrounded by glass and voted the best in the world by first-class travelers.

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel: This is the tallest landmark in Shibuya, with a clean approach to modern banquet halls and accommodations for business travelers.

Daegu, Korea
This South Korea city is a special destination for a select group of travelers. It's tiny, but that's part of the appeal. There aren't just interesting things to do during the day, but there are cool spots for nightlife as well. A small place can certainly pack a punch if you go to the right spot...

“With the Geumho River and Sincheon Stream running through the city, Daegu is a basin surrounded by mountains.”

Things to Do
*Eat a large Korean-style barbecue meal.
*Try Norebang, which is similar to Japanese karaoke.
*Head to the Daegu Tower for one of the best view of the city.

Places to Stay in Korea
Grand Hyatt Seoul: Think that the South Korean capital city is crowded? You'll enjoy the break from the bustle at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, which is located right on Mount Namsan on a stunning 18 acres of land.

Chengdu China
Chengdu has captivated more than its fair share of tourists, thanks to its positioning as the gateway to panda breeding centers. A city that's perfect for foodies, Chegdu isn't only a good place to eat and drink, but an excellent place to center oneself before exploring the rest of China--a "breather city," if you will.

Things to Do
*Visit the Research Base of Giant Panda breeding.
*Stroll down Jinli, a pedestrian street, to take in the sites.
*Take the kids to Happy Valley, an amusement and theme park.

Places to Stay in China
Grand Hyatt Shanghai: Floor-to-ceiling windows allow you one of the most breathtaking views of the skyline you ever thought possible. Art Deco decor appeals to the luxury lover in everyone.

Four Seasons Hotel Macao: Five swimming pools and a private spa suite should take your mind off things at the Four Seasons Hotel Macao.

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou: This chic and contemporary hotel combines ancient tradition, a lakeside village appearance, and the ultimate luxury additions for a true guest experience.

Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: 56 floors high, the Island Shangri-La feature 34 stunning suites and 531 guest rooms.

Of all the places to travel, Asia is still one of the most mysterious destinations. It's a challenge to get to some of the smaller towns in China, Japan, and Korea, but the feeling of discovering a little-known source of tranquility and mystery is one of the things luxe-minded travelers crave.

Stay Hip & Remain Fit in the (305) !

There are so many opportunities for the average traveler to experience Miami and still stay fit. Filled with luxury hotels and resorts, Miami is the perfect place to get your workouts done--enjoyably. These are some of the top ways to avoid blowing your fitness routine when you’re staying in another city.

Canyon Ranch
Did you know that Canyon Ranch offers free fitness classes to those who stay in the hotel? Unlimited classes ensure that the "sweat it out" experience you crave is the "sweat it out" experience you get when it comes to classes at Canyon Ranch. To give you an idea of possible options you have at the hotel, on a typical Wednesday, you can browse classes like rock wall climbing, yoga, and kickboxing, plus fusion courses and a morning beach walk. 59 classes on a run-of-the-mill weekday isn’t bad, and you can choose to relax or push as hard as you can in classes for varying levels of experience.

A feature about Canyon Ranch describes what makes it different from its cousins in Massachusetts and Arizona. The Miami Beach hotel serves alcohol--a first for Canyon Ranch--and tweaked its offerings to be a little more open and, well, suited to the Miami lifestyle. Shermans Travel explains:

“At the Miami property, the company took a more freewheeling approach: Although fitness is included, spa treatments and meals are all à la carte. The resort even serves alcohol, a first for Canyon Ranch. What it didn’t change was the staff’s scope of knowledge. Not only do the fitness instructors know their stuff, but waiters can rattle off every ingredient in your lunch entrée without batting an eye.”

This means, if you’re the healthy type who wants to feel like you’re still on vacation, it’s worth trying Canyon Ranch. While the spa treatments cost you extra, there are interesting--and free!--Aquavana Thermal Suites, which offer hydrotherapy treatments including a cooling mist treatment and a special foot spa.

Beach Walks
Want a relaxing stroll along the beach, preferably close to your hotel? There’s a great city boardwalk from 21st to 46th Street in Miami Beach, and there are a lot of hotels in the area from which to choose. Luxury hotels are the true hotel experience in the South Florida, and you can exercise in top studios while you're there. Spinning, running, and rowing, all with a view of the river or the bay? Sign us up!

Miami Hotels with Great Gyms and a Great View
Foutainbleau Resort, Miami Beach: The Fountainbleau was given an incredible $1 billion renovation, making it one of the most luxurious on Miami Beach. With 22 oceanfront acres, we think you'll be able to find somewhere to do yoga as the sun rises outside, afterwards returning to your impeccably-turned-out room.

Gansevoort South Beach Hotel: The gym at the Gansevoort is 45,000 square feet and includes a luxurious spa, so you'll have to spend at least one day experiencing its amazing offerings. Be careful, though--you won't want to leave.

Mandarin Oriental, Miami: One of the most beautiful spas in the world calls Mandarin Oriental, in South Beach, home. Six VIP suites have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Biscayne Bay, and original treatments are plentiful in the 15,000-square-foot location.

The Raleigh: Are you a beach lover? The Raleigh is right on Collins Avenue and the beach, with a beautiful atmosphere both indoors and out. Unlike some city hotels, this one doesn't leave you feeling like you're in a bubble, albeit a luxurious one--head outside for a swim at your leisure.

Working out in Miami will feel effortless with these perks. You’ll get to swim in the ocean, rest on the beach, rollerblade on the boardwalk, and experiment with some of Miami’s healthiest cuisine. When healthy living feels this good, anyone can do it. Why not let your luxury hotel stay mark the start of a new lifestyle?

Spending the Night in Unusual Places

You might have ended up spending the night in an unusual location while on vacation in the past. Maybe it was because of a connecting flight mix-up, perhaps you were backpacking. You'll probably never forget that hotel, hostel, or campsite experience, and there's no reason why you shouldn't have a memorable--and unusual--overnight stay again. This time, why not plan the “surprises” ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty?

Windmills in Greece
Care to catch a view of the setting sun over the ocean, feel the salt spray on your face, and sip a local wine--all in your own windmill? This lodging option is perfect when you're jetting between one luxury hotel and another, and you need a night in the countryside to unwind.

Experts Say: “This converted mill has two bedrooms. They are sparsely but tastefully decorated and furnished in typically Greek style: white-washed walls, wooden floors and furniture and blue shutters.”

Additional Lodging in Greece

The Ice Hotel, Sweden and Utter Inn, Sweden
Will it be ice or an open lake that you pick for your novelty night stay in Sweden? If you’re a ski-lover and the outdoorsy type, then the Ice Hotel is the perfect pick. If fishing and camping appeal to you more, then you should try staying on the floating Utter Inn. Either way, you mustn’t forget your camera: these are some of the most picturesque hotels in all of Scandinavia.

Experts Say About the Ice Hotel: “Thermal long johns are recommended for a stay at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi where winter temperatures never rise above freezing -- and can drop to minus 35C.”

Experts Say About the Utter Inn: “Created by a Swedish artist, the Utter Inn floats on Lake Malaren, an hour west of Stockholm and looks like a small shed perched atop a diving platform.”

Additional Lodging in Sweden
Radisson BLU Strand Hotel

Das Park Hotel, Austria
Here’s an idea: you wanted to stay in the best of the best in Austria, but you wanted to stay longer than your budget allowed. Why not break up a stay in two different luxe hotels by staying along the River Danube in... wait for it... a repurposed sewer pipe?! You can pay as little or as much as you want.

Experts Say: “The drainpipes are two meters in diameter and two and a half meters long, with a porthole to look out of, a front door to close and a cozy nest to snuggle into, which includes a low-slung futon, bedside lamp, woolly blanket and light sleeping bag.”

Additional Lodging in Austria

The Old Church of Urquhart, Scotland
Scotland is a top choice for castle enthusiasts, but for many of us, going up towers and buying souvenirs isn’t enough. Staying at the Old Church is like staying in a castle’s abbey, and you won’t be chilly, even in winter--there are wood-burning stoves to stoke and stay toasty.

Experts Say: “The Old Church of Urquhart-by-Elgin stands in splendid rural isolation, surrounded by fields, not far from the Moray Firth. Constructed in what was called the Perpendicular style (its tower is 21 meters tall), it is set in 8,000 square meters of beautiful grounds.”

Additional Lodging in Scotland

Hotel Monasterio, Peru
Peru is a prime destination in South America, considering how far back some of their ruins date. In addition, their top hotels combine history with a great list of celebrity clientele, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jane Fonda at the Hotel Monasterio, described below.

Experts Say: “In most hotels, adequate oxygen is taken for granted. Not here at the luxurious Hotel Monasterio, a converted 16th-century monastery in Cusco. As the hotel stands at 3,000 meters above sea level, 50 of the bedrooms are enriched with oxygen, which is gently pumped through filters to help guests avoid altitude sickness.”

Additional Lodging in Peru

Bedouin Camp, Jordan
Not satisfied with the ancientness of castles and monasteries? Get down to basics and vacation with a Bedouin camp experience. You’ll be sleeping in a goatskin tent, just like those who travel the sands, and you need to spend at least a few minutes exploring the cool night air, the sands, and the dark sky come night.

Experts Say:“Sit round a camp fire while a hookah pipe slowly perfumes the air as tribesmen entertain guests with live music, stories and strong Arabic coffee.”

Additional Lodging in Jordan
Evason Ma’In Hot Springs and Six Senses Spa

If you have an urge to explore your destinations of choice in a whole new way, then you should try spending the night in a creative setting just for a night or two. While staying in a luxury hotel can be thrilling on its own, mixing things up with a novelty night or two makes some seriously special memories.