Monday, June 27, 2011

Have You Made Time for Europe?

With so much attention being paid to adventurous summer getaways and island resorts, it becomes fairly easy to forget a first love: in this case, Europe. Drenched in history, with convenient transportation and many luxury hotels, Europe provides what other destinations simply can't – a gorgeous experience with all the convenience you could need, plus the option of exploring the ancient and modern side of a single city. We recap some of our favorites here.

The Le Royal Monceau is one of the hottest places to stay in Paris after an incredible renovation took over the spot. Two years of renovation ended last fall, and the hotel opened its doors amongst much fanfare—with good reason. The complicated history of Le Royale Monceau only makes it more enjoyable to stay there – the hotel was even requisitioned during WWII – and the current interiors are sophisticated and opulent enough to give any other French hotel a run for its money.

Our Note? “The collection of hotel suites and private apartments is flanked by restaurants, bars, a kids room, a spa, and a 3D cinema, and the hotel is once again one of the best hotels in Paris.”

Speaking of Paris, it is considered one of the best places to shop in the world. The retail industry in Paris is a delicate combination of luxury shop and boutique stops, and coupled with a thriving cafe and bar culture, you could easily spend your days on the same few blocks, alternately browsing for gifts and grazing. Don't! There's much more in store for you in Paris, particularly in the way of museums.

Our Note? “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.”

If the city isn't your thing, then the English countryside is definitely what you need to get a jump-start on life in the slow lane. CNN's profiled the countryside in the past, citing its delicate balance of straw-thatched roofs and stunning luxury accommodations for every person's taste. Since England is a compact spot to explore, you don't even need to that far away from a major city.

Our Note? "While things have become more convenient and more accessible, the British countryside is still an oasis of calm. Maintaining the look of the past, English getaway destinations are more than simply manicured manor houses--they’re a balance of the past and present."

There is, of course, a runner-up for anyone who can't dedicate the time required to jet off to Europe. With tough schedules and a family to manage, a cross-continental flight could be out of the equation. While that might be the case, rest assured that you can also scoop up a European-style vacation right here at home. “America's Riviera” is located in Miami, and luxury hotels that line the beach are absolutely magnificent. When you stretch out on a chaise by a semi-private strip of sand, you'll be transported to a world of Riviera-like calm. Enjoy it.

Our Note? “Even if you live in Florida--or in Miami, for that matter--there are places to explore. Hop in a SoBe rickshaw, take an Art Deco tour, sit alongside Ocean Drive bathed in neon light... that’s just the start of the leisure options. America’s Riviera is one of the most inspiring destinations for boating and yacht enthusiasts, providing snaking canals and wide-open bay cruising for sailboats, yachts, dinghies, and even kayaks.”

This is, of course, only a bite of luxury options in Europe. Don't forget Eastern Europe, with its opulent squares and achingly-luxurious, centrally-located hotels, and then traverse back along the coast to take in rural southern Italy and Spain. Rediscovering Europe could be one of the best vacations you've had in years.

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