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Vienna's New Rooftop Bars
Austria’s capital city is famous as a cradle of classical music and high culture, for its skyline shaped by Hapsburg palaces, the Opera House and city symbol Giant Ferris Wheel, for tastes and experiences like chocolate/apricot Sacher Torte and coffee house culture, and even the renowned, high-performing and high-stepping, gleaming white Lipizzaner horses.
 
You may have been to Vienna before, but no matter how many times you’ve been to a city, seeing it from above gives you a whole new perspective.
 
That’s why the string of new rooftop bars in the city on the Danube river – with stunning design and inspiring food and beverage experiences - is so exciting for those of us planning Danube river cruises or guided trips to Central Europe soon.
 
Plan for daytime snacks or late-day drinks in at least one of these ‘elevated’ bars with a view!

mariatrink: Laid-back music
 
This is the most musical of Vienna’s new rooftop bars. Jaz in the City Vienna, located in the city’s sixth district of Mariahilf, is the third hotel in the German hotel chain’s portfolio. The view, if not the music, will make your heart skip a beat.
 
(Photo credit: Jaz in the City Vienna)

Contemporary design is the backdrop to an immersive music theme. The lobby recreates a record shop vibe, and the rooftop, mariatrink bar has the feel of a luxuriant jazz club, with velvet seating, innovative cocktails and regional dishes. But few jazz clubs can boast mariatrink’s real claim to fame: the panoramic views of Vienna.

 
Kindred Spirits Rooftop Bar: Drinks with Views of the Prater
 
Playtime at Vienna’s beloved Prater park… followed by smart drinks at the rooftop bar overlooking it. The boutique Hotel Zoku Vienna opened in June 2021, and its amusement-park-adjacent location is symbolic of its focus: providing a venue for work-life balance. Its special home-office hybrid solution appeals to working road warriors.

(Photo credit: Ewout Huibers Photography & Concrete)

At the top of the building, the Living Kitchen Rooftop Restaurant and Kindred Spirits Rooftop Bar are ideal for a laid-back lunch or after-work drink with a focus on Austrian wine, spirits, and culinary artisans, while soaking in the 360-degree views of Vienna. After dusk, the attractions at the Prater amusement park below twinkle like a sea of colored lights, illuminating the entire atmosphere.

 
 
MQ Libelle: Viennese Modernism and Rooftop Views
 
It only opened mid-pandemic during the summer of 2020, but it’s already the most popular rooftop bar in Vienna. MQ Libelle (libelle means dragonfly) is perched on top of the roof of the Leopold Museum, home to Vienna’s leading museum of Viennese Modernism (pictured, top). The museum has the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection.
 
And architecturally speaking the MQ Libelle is a work of art itself. Two of Austria’s most prominent artists were responsible for designing the main elements of the terrace, glass wall, and iconic lighting elements. The drinks and epicurean hotspot is also a new space for art and cultural projects in its own right.

 
 
360° Ocean Sky: a Zoo With a View
 
Everything about this rooftop bar has a fascinating story. The 360° Ocean Sky is a spectacular rooftop bar and all-day and –evening modern restaurant with pride of place on top of the House of Sea. Whisked to the rooftop in a panoramic elevator, guests enjoy eye-catching drinks overhead, while brightly colored exotic fish shimmer in the waters of the aquarium below.
 
The building itself is located in a WW2 flak tower that – by its very nature soars above the surrounding buildings, providing fantastic views in every direction.


IKEA at Westbahnhof Station
 
Your Saturday morning runs to IKEA at home may be more utilitarian, maybe with some Swedish meatballs as a treat.
 
But in Vienna, right next to the Westbahnhof railway station, IKEA has opened a ‘hus’ social hub complete with green façade and a rooftop terrace that’s open to the public with no obligation to buy a Billy Bookcase or even one of the items on the vegetarian menu.

 (Photo credit: Ikea)

Seventy fully-grown trees in giant planters punctuate the space that has a fantastic view over Vienna.

 

Coming Soon:

 
Chez Bernard Restaurant et Bar: Sustainable and Stunning
 
The Hotel Motto is scheduled to open in Fall 2021, with a combination of 1920’s Parisian charm, contemporary Viennese lifestyle and Scandi-chic design.
 
Its rooftop Chez Bernard Restaurant et Bar is flooded with natural light that supports the lush greenery spread across two floors under a striking glass dome. Organic French and North-African cuisine, locally-roasted coffee beans and signature beer brewed from leftover bread from the in-house bakery – along with the views – make this a one-of-a-kind experience.

 
Parliamentary Proceedings with a Twist
 
The late-19th-century Austrian Parliament, one of the most important buildings on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, will unveil a modern rooftop restaurant of its own in 2022.

(Credit: Parlamentsdirektion / András Pálffy, Ortfried Friedreich und Christian Jabornegg)

It’s part of a huge refurbishment project at the Parliament. Once complete, visitors will be able to enjoy previously unseen views over Vienna’s historic city center from four outdoor terraces. An area with table service, a self-service section and a bistro are all planned. The menu will include a mix of traditional Viennese cuisine and international dishes.

Start Your Trip!


Images Courtesy of the rightsholders as noted and the Vienna Tourist Board

Top image: MQ Libelle: WienTourismus/David Payr / MQ Libelle


5 Top Places to Nama-'Stay' During National Yoga Month
For many of us, September feels more like the ‘New Year’ than when the calendar says it’s January. Time to exhale, regroup, and reset yourself on a fulfilling course for the future, one that includes meeting life and wellness goals.
Maybe that’s why September is National Yoga Month.

The ideal time to practice – or at least plan for - two intersecting life goals: more yoga and more travel.

Here are 5 inspired places to practice yoga on an enriching journey. 
 

Flamingo Yoga at Baha Mar, The Bahamas

Located on the pristine white sands of Cable Beach in Nassau, Baha Mar is a tropical island dreamscape, no matter which of its three beachfront resorts best suits your luxury travel style. Whether you choose to stay in the richly refined Rosewood, the playfully hip SLS, or the stylish and modern Grand Hyatt, stunning views and an epic selection of pools and resort experiences awaits.
 
Flamingo Cay is a unique habitat within Baha Mar, designed to shelter these iconic and vivid tropical waterbirds, to educate guests about flamingos and preserve their population in The Bahamas for future generations. 
 

For guests who practice yoga, there’s also an exceptional experience - Flamingo Yoga (pictured above and top) - where guests can practice their flamingo poses, breathing techniques, and mindfulness with the ultimate yoga experts – the Baha Mar Ambassador Flamingos.

The Yoga Instructor is dedicated to working with the flamingos and is on hand to educate guests and look after the birds. The classes are small and intimate, once-weekly sessions that will embed themselves in your memory as a treasured wellness and travel experience.

 

‘Flo-Yo’ in a ‘Spa Without Walls’, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii



The Fairmont Orchid is uniquely Hawaiian: 32 oceanfront acres with a white sand beach on the black-lava Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island. When you’re not snorkeling with sea turtles in the resort’s private lagoon, napping in a hammock, immersing yourself in Hawaiian cultural activities like storytelling, hula and ukulele, watching the sun rise from a traditional outrigger canoe on the bay… you can rediscover your inner, primal human, surrounded by rushing waterfalls, and greenery, orchids and palms in the resort’s ‘Spa Without Walls.’


Where the indoors is outdoors in paradise, it seems easier to realign mind and body balance immersed in Nature.
 
The resort offers complimentary seaside and sunset yoga, and ‘flo-yo’ or floating yoga on stand-up paddleboards in the quiet waters of the resort’s quiet, private lagoon – a beautiful way to start the day – and a complete core workout where warm ocean breezes and lapping waves set the pace and soothe the spirits.


SUP Yoga at the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver

It may be the essential Vancouver wellness experience. Where stand up paddleboard meets downward dog – in a South Beach-style pool overlooking Vancouver's seawall and mountains.

On a fair summer day in Vancouver, British Columbia, the locals joke it's like 'British California'. And it seems that somehow, every resident and visitor in town is outdoors or on the water.
 
The Liquid Yoga program offered by Just Add Water Yoga at the Westin Bayshore gives hotel guests – and the general public – a unique way to be part of Vancouver’s famed local wellness and open air culture - in the security of a pool as an aquatic yoga studio, rather than the open sea like other SUP yoga.

Photo: BestTrip.TV
Didn't bring workout wear? We love that guests can take advantage of the Run Westin's gear lending program.
 
Liquid Yoga is a terrific way to enjoy the Westin Bayshore's gorgeous, circular pool, and its views of Vancouver's harbor, seawall and mountains.
 

Sun-Rise Yoga at Sea in the Caribbean on Virgin Voyages

Imagine yoga on the deck of a sailing ship at dawn, with the sun peeking over the horizon, the sounds and the sights of the sea all around, and the shifting of the ship in the waves adding just a touch of challenge to your core in holding those poses, greeting the new day filling your lungs with fresh sea air.… take it from me: this is living.


One of the most unique places to do yoga overlooking the infinite sea is Virgin Voyages.

Richard Branson’s cheeky new, ‘breaking-the-mould-of-cruising’ cruise line taps into the celebrity billionaire’s history as a music industry entrepreneur. The newly-launched Virgin Voyages feels a lot like a hip, tropical club at sea, with Branson himself telling me that the tables in suites were designed to be danced on!

The line takes a ‘detox, retox’ approach to the cruise lifestyle, so in addition to a nightclub atmosphere, champagne on demand anywhere on the ship, and the first tattoo parlor at sea, guests on the line’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady will also find their daytime downtime wellness options robust.


It starts with the ‘Aquatic Club’ outdoor pool deck, and continues with such wildly different wellness options as outdoor boxing, to meditation and yes, sun-rise yoga.
 

Yoga On the Top Deck of a European River Cruise on U By Uniworld

Before Virgin Voyages launched a new way of cruising, U By Uniworld reimagined river cruising for ‘Active Travelers’, with distinctive, modern black-hulled river ships and a whole new approach to experiencing the shore and the ship. It’s more of a hipster river cruise, with mixology (bar chefs), overnights in key European cities for clubbing, dance parties on board in a private ship version of a club, top deck ‘camping’, a modern approach to cuisine – and yes, yoga!

After an exciting night, guests are welcome to greet the day with complimentary, morning top-deck yoga sessions, led by the ship’s wellness coach.


Why do yoga on a European river cruise? The views are sure to help with the meditation.

Some of the very best views of favorite European cities are from the rivers that run through them. Without the congestion of other buildings around, you can absorb the breathtaking historic beauty of cities that were built on rivers when they - not roads – were the highways of Europe.

Early morning, top-deck yoga in European cities gives you a unique, over-the-rail perspective on some of the most inspiring cityscapes on the continent, and a way to absorb some of the city’s energy before an active day of exploring walking, hiking, cycling or kayaking through town.  
 

#StartYourTrip


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip TV

Images courtesy of their respective hotels/ cruise lines except where otherwise stated.










Miami Heats Up This Summer with Three Hotel Openings
Miami has always been one of the hottest destinations on the continent, with art, design and architecture creds, a blistering beach/ party scene, vibrant cultural scene that reflects the city’s status as a Latin American hub, and a celebrity/ jet set appeal that never seems to die down.
 
This summer, the city’s getting even hotter, with three hotel openings set to hit the reset button on restarting travel to Miami. They’re must-stay, must-taste experiences that tap into the essence of Miami’s iconic South Beach.
 

The Goodtime Hotel

 
With a name like that – and star power like Pharrell Williams’ of the song ‘Happy’ fame – behind it, this hotel (pictured, top) promises escapist, playful atmosphere – and it delivers.

With 100,000 square feet of curated public space and only 266 guest rooms with an Art Deco aesthetic that reimagines the style of the district it lives in, a 30,000 square foot pool deck dotted with cabanas, lush greenery, carpet woven with mock wet footprints and Insta-worthy touches like pink land line phones, the award-winning music celebrity and his partners say The Goodtime Hotel (pictured top) is a place for “hedonistic revelry and laidback R&R.”
 
'We want The Goodtime Hotel to impart a feeling of both revitalization and that rare, exciting thrill that takes over when you discover something special,' says Pharrell Williams. 'It's that adrenaline-fueled sensation of entering a whole new setting and a whole new mindset. This place will provide a natural good time, for all who come through.'
 
Between drinks at ‘Strawberry Moon’, cozying up with an old-time book at the library, or recording music at the on-site studio, guests will feel transported into a fantasy, urban beach resort world that is just so Miami.
 

Moxy Miami South Beach

Colorful murals, floor-to-ceiling windows, blurred transitions between indoors and outdoors, a rooftop pool with panoramic views, a dedicated beach club, and six dining and sipping venues, including a rooftop resto, capture the essence of the district’s Art Deco heritage.
 
Moxy Miami South Beach’s designers say its vibe blends the glamour of midcentury Havana, the artistry of contemporary Mexico City, and a tropical vibrancy that's unmistakably Miami, all located steps from the sand.
 
Inspired in part by an overnight ferry that ran between Miami and Havana in the 1940s and '50s, the rooms resemble ocean liner staterooms dressed in vivid Miami hues and bathed in sunlight thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms on higher floors offer unobstructed vistas of the Atlantic, while other rooms feature expansive views of South Beach's pastel-hued architecture. Bedrooms feature custom art by Miami artist Aquarela Sabol depicting iconic artists — Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí — visiting South Beach.

 
New dining and drinking venues include Como Como, a marisquería and raw bar; Mezcalista, a sexy mezcal lounge; Serena, an open-air rooftop restaurant and bar; Los Buenos, a taco stand/bodega in the lobby, complemented by Bar Moxy, which does double duty as a social hub and check-in area; and The Upside, a rooftop bar on the eighth floor exclusively for hotel guests and private events.
 
Multiple indoor-outdoor spaces include a ground floor courtyard; a 72-foot, cabana-lined pool; an indoor-outdoor fitness center; an outdoor movie screening room on the rooftop; and an exclusive beach club on Miami's famous South Beach give the young and stylish at heart a natural home in Miami.
 
 

The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach


This hotel isn’t exactly new. In fact, it’s one of the breathtakingly original Miami-Modern hotels along the beach, that gave the city its world-famous signature Deco style.
 
What’s new is its re-opening after a $90-million renovation.
 
As a landmark Ritz-Carlton hotel, this 376-guestroom beach resort delivers urban beach resort luxury with an unmatched glamour and sophistication. It almost looks like a luxe, modern interpretation of a mid-century movie set, except that it’s real and full of life and current style. You can almost imagine the Rat Pack ambling in from the pool, towels over their arms, drinks and cigarettes carelessly in hand and lazy smiles on their faces as they head up to their rooms to get ready to entertain hotel guests that night at the club.

 
The hotel’s stunning new lobby is a celebration of the original design, enhanced by elegant touches that transition the property into a modern era. Steps away, the all-new Lapidus Bar is a classic cocktail lounge honoring that bygone era of Miami with live music, vintage cocktails, and a design that invites visitors to settle in and absorb their magnificent surroundings.
 
The vibrant flavors of Latin America take the lead at Fuego y Mar, the hotel’s new restaurant, where guests also find a tech lounge, where they work in a sophisticated, convivial setting while ordering coffee and cocktails. DiLido Beach Club and its oceanfront location promise an intimate dining enclave with plush seating and views out across the turquoise water, and a new, elevated swimming pool overlooks the ocean.
 
When was the last time you indulged in Miami’s high style, culture, and beach lifestyle?
 

#StartYourTrip!

 
Images courtesy of their respective hotel companies.







Two New Luxury Brands for the Secluded Turks & Caicos Islands
They are among the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. The forty islands and cays that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are favored by travelers in the know for their pristine waters, picture-perfect white sand beaches and conch and lobster fisheries that make local dining such a joy.

TCI’s archipelago is strung out along the sea at the tail-end of The Bahamas and before you get to the Dominican Republic.

Bookended by two popular and busy beach destinations, this British Overseas Territory stands out for its quiet seclusion. Only about 30,000 people live on TCI - mainly on Providenciales in the Caicos islands. In fact, fewer than a dozen of the islands are inhabited at all. But possibly because of its primary business as an international banking center, TCI has great air service from Miami, New York, Toronto and London.

So anyone looking for an idyllic island escape can add TCI to their list. Even more now, since two luxury hospitality brands have arrived on the archipelago, boosting its credentials as a luxe beach destination away from the bustle of its bigger neighbors.

Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos

This iconic luxury company has opened its first resort on TCI on renowned Grace Bay in Providenciales. Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos joins a small family of Ritz-Carlton ultra-luxury resorts in the Islands, one that includes Aruba, St. Thomas USVI, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.


The latest Ritz-Carlton resort’s design was inspired by the natural wonders of the Turks & Caicos, incorporating the heritage of its earliest Lucayan inhabitants in the use of rich wood, calming ocean themes as well as desert magic, incorporating local cactus and sponges into the property, including the native turk-head cactus that thrives in TCI’s dry climate and gave the islands its name.

Guests are welcomed to nearly 150 ocean view rooms including 23 suites, or a number of three-story penthouse suites with private, rooftop plunge pools and endless views.

The resort is designed for private and romantic or fun family vacations; the company’s ‘Ritz Kids’ program offers programs for children to explore the island and learn about marine life through arts and crafts.

For grown-ups, there’s an adults-only pool with private cabanas, a private catamaran for marine exploration, a casino; a seaside spa and yoga on the beach; and multiple dining venues that offer both local and global flavors.

Celebrating the island’s natural abundance of conch, the resort marks the end of every day with the sound of this iconic shell and offers guests the chance to sample conch ceviche and other island delicacies.
 
A Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge offers an exclusive sanctuary that offers private check-in, a dedicated Club Concierge, and multiple culinary presentations throughout the day, in addition to dedicated service at the beach.
 
Indoor and outdoor venues are also designed for meeting and events including a 5000 square-foot ballroom and an ‘event lawn and grand promenade’ with the white sands and sparkling waters of Grace Bay in the background that will fulfil any bride’s dreams.
 

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay

The Meridian Club (pictured top) has occupied a spectacular private, 800 acre island off of Providenciales since the 1970’s, when the exclusive, intimate beachside property became the first tourist development in TCI.

What’s new is its recent adoption into the fold of Relais & Chateaux, the elite collection of boutique hotels, resorts, villas and restaurants all committed to the highest standards of hospitality and gourmet cuisine. That designation just formalizes the recognition of The Meridian Club at Pine Cay as one of the region’s leading private island resorts.

Pine Cay is less than a mile wide and only two miles long. Despite its small size, the island has over 9 miles of trails and a breathtaking 2-mile stretch of white sand beach. The ideal place for beach walking, the island is connected to its neighbors, Water Cay and Little Water Cay – you can even walk the beach for 5 miles to the end of Little Water Cay.

Just 13 rooms host 26 guests with nearly the entire 800 acres of island nature and beauty to explore.


Guests choose between private cottages or spacious beachfront rooms – all inclusive of the fine dining that helped secure its inclusion into the collection of Relais & Chateaux properties world wide. Every room opens directly onto the 2-mile beach.

You can imagine why people with milestones to celebrate often book out the island for their party – it may be the private island party of your dreams!

In addition to miles of arid island hiking, guest while away their days swimming in crystal clear waters, joining daily snorkeling trips, kayaking, paddleboarding, days at the spa, yoga classes, boating on a charter or on complimentary Hobie Cat boats, fishing, or just relaxing seaside.
 
It’s the beach getaway you’ve always really wanted.
 

#StartYourTrip


Images courtesy of their respective resorts. Top image: two of the cottages at the Meridian Club



 New, Luxury Water Park Makes a ‘Splash’ in the Bahamas
If you’ve never put the words ‘luxury’ and ‘water park’ together in a sentence before - let alone a vacation - now’s your chance.

Baha Mar is a thousand acres of Bahamian paradise on world-famous Cable Beach near Nassau. The exquisite white sands are home to not one, but three luxury beach resorts: Rosewood, SLS and Grand Hyatt.

Now, in addition to over three dozen restaurants and lounges, convention center, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Royal Blue Golf Course, the Caribbean's first and only flagship ESPA spa, more than 30 luxury boutiques and the largest casino in the Caribbean, Baha Mar has debuted another way for visitors to play.

Baha Bay is a $200 million, 15-acre beachfront water park, exclusively available for guests at Baha Mar. It’s just as luxurious as the rest of the resort complex – with aquatic experiences for the young – and the young at heart.

Imagine the days of water-based active fun on Baha Bay’s 24 water slides, a tropical action river, group raft rides, the first ProSlide Dueling Water Coaster and FlyingSAUCER 45 in the Caribbean, what’s being called the “most spectacular wave pool” in the islands, and splash zones “for kids of all ages.”

For some visitors, the ultimate thrills will come trying your luck at the world’s only outdoor casino inside a waterpark.

Then for a change of pace, the Baha Bay Beach Club offers privacy, beachside entertaining, and chilling out. Infinity pools overlook the endless turquoise sea, and full-service private cabanas, daybeds, and poolside lounge areas make an ideal day on the beach also the most relaxing.
 
Baha Bay Beach Club also has a restaurant serving coastal California-inspired bites and drinks. That’s just one of Baha Bay’s breezy, beachside dining experiences. The al fresco Market includes Cleo Grill, Sam's Crispy Chicken, Plant Nation and Chill, the famed Sugar Factory, Umami Burger, and Barracuda food trucks.
 
All that, wrapped up in the warmth of the Bahamian sunshine and hospitality.
 
Now that travel’s reopening, if you’re among the many people planning to ‘splash out’ a bit on your next holiday, Baha Mar and its new aquatic attraction Baha Bay might just go to the top of your ‘beach vacation’ list.  

#StartYourTrip





First, Fully Digital Hotel to Open in Northern Europe
It’s in the heart of one of the most historic neighborhoods in London. But this hotel has become a symbol of the future of travel.

ibis Styles London Gloucester Road is in Kensington, within easy strolling distance of some of the English capital’s favorite landmarks, like the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, shopping at Harrod’s and of course, its highest-profile residence, Kensington Palace, where Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge and their three children live, alongside other members of the Royal Family.

Surrounded by British tradition, it’s making history of its own as the first, fully digital hotel in Northern Europe.
A suite of digital technologies has reinvented making guests feel welcome, by connecting them to actual, human members of the hotel’s teams, and fulfilling their needs during their stay, from arrival, to getting into and out of and using your room, to food and beverage service, payment and departure.

The pandemic has re-shaped our expectations of cleanliness and sanitization and physical distancing. The digital hotel elevates your ability to maintain those health requirements.

But digital systems at hotels aren’t new. Some contactless features began before the pandemic, and will be appreciated by guests long after.

The digital eco-system at this hotel includes features such as online and mobile check in, in hotel payment, the ‘Accor Key’ –a digital key solution, digital F&B services and guest relations via Whatsapp throughout your stay.

It’s all about choice. Do you want to speak directly with reception? Or would you prefer to go straight to your room?
When you are short of time, a digital solution can save you precious minutes. Other times, when you want that ‘face to face’, personal touch, it’s available too.

(Above Image via Accor, top image via Accor video)

“This is not about robots or faceless technology, this is about the smart integration of innovative, customer-facing technology at pace and at scale. Technology is part of our daily lives and is now fully part of our hotel experience–and with this important step, we give our guests the opportunity to adapt their hotel stay according to their preferences,” hotel management says.

It’s all run through your smartphone. ibis Styles London Gloucester Road now has digital keys where guests can open your room door with just a wave of your smartphone. Each guest will have an ‘Accor Key’ that will allow room access, entry to meeting rooms for business or event guests, and floor access from elevators. No more scrambling to find where you put your room key! We bet your smartphone never leaves your hand even – especially? – when you are traveling.

Through the user-friendly Accor Key, you’ll also be able to order a meal remotely from your room, and since it’s fully integrated with your hotel account, you can pay up front to your method of payment or charge your dining to your room and pay on checkout.

You can also chat to your desired member of the hotel team through the common messaging app WhatsApp to make any special requests before and during your stay, making pre-arrival requests and helping to facilitate your needs and queries during your stay.

Accor has also extended its existing Fast Check-Out (FCO) functionality to all guests, allowing you to check-out via the smartphone app. And expenses can be managed too: a PDF invoice will be sent to your email.

This hotel in London may be the first, fully digital hotel in Northern Europe – but it won’t be the last.

Accor has announced the global roll-out of “Accor Key” and an objective to equip 20,000 hotel doors in 2021 and all new hotel openings beginning this summer. The complete digital hotel experience in the British capital is the first step to similar implementation over the next five years in at least half of Accor’s North and Central American hotels, which include economical brands like ibis, through Novotel and Mercure, to Pullman and Swisshotel, through to luxury brands like Fairmont, Sofitel, and Raffles.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon





International Dark Sky Week, held during the week of the new moon each April, calls for people worldwide to turn out their lights and take in the beauty of the night sky without light pollution dimming its brilliance. 

It’s also an annual reminder that some of the very best travel experiences aren’t under the bright lights of a city. Some of the most awe-inspiring and life-changing travel moments involve absorbing Mother Nature’s greatest spectacles above us.

Astrotourism is a growing trend that helps travelers capture more of those transformational moments in the darkness.
Astro travel lets us tap into primal parts of ourselves, like our earliest ancestors who created myths and learned wisdom from celestial phenomena. And it reminds us how humans - like all creatures and the Earth itself – respond to the rhythms of movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

North Star and Big Dipper over Grosvenor Arch, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah, by Royce Bair, courtesy International Dark Sky Association

It celebrates the wonder in us all when we gaze at the mysteries of the stars in the night skies, or the Northern Lights. Or when we join others to take part in an astronomy event like a solar eclipse, meteor shower or passing comet and feel tiny in our universe and in awe of the infinite darkness that surrounds us.

Savvy astro-travelers have been planning for a while to be in Antarctica for December, 2021’s solar eclipse. If that’s a bit remote for you, wait around for the ‘Great North American Solar Eclipse’ on April 8, 2024: a dramatic astronomy event across the whole continent, that, at its max, will allow observers to see the Moon totally – totally! – blocking the Sun for over 4 minutes!  

Here are some ways you can become part of the dark sky and astrotourism trend, both on land, and at sea.

LAND


Dark Sky Parks
From New Zealand to New Mexico, there’s a growing list of over a hundred Dark Sky parks and reserves around the world. They preserve and protect the ability to see the heavens in their clearest forms as our human ancestors did, and the darkness the planet’s wildlife still relies on today.


New Zealand’s Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie Region (above), at 4300 square km, is the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world, and home to the darkest skies in the world. Much of New Zealand has no light pollution and is home to some of the most accessible observatories on planet Earth. The sheer brightness of the stars, contrasted by the ring of mountains surrounding the Mackenzie Basin, is utterly breath-taking.
 
In North America, Dark Sky parks and preserves are most often found under the vast – and remote- Western Skies, in National Parks where preserving the night skies aligns with the protection of the landscape and wildlife.

Dark Sky Festival in Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
 
Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s mountain parks, famous for magnificent glaciers, lakes and mountains. Jasper has also been designated as a Dark Sky Preserve for its special commitment to protect and preserve the night sky and to reduce or eliminate light pollution in all its forms.

(Jasper National Park/ Jasper Tourism)
 
It’s one of 17 designated Dark Sky Preserves in Canada, the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, and the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve - meaning there’s a town within the limits of the preserve.

As daylight hours begin to shrink, the month of October is the perfect time for Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival. Dozens of events including dark sky photography workshops, interactive experiences at Jasper’s Planetarium, black hole sculptures, and ‘Animals of the Night’ hikes, indoor and outdoor events, speakers and hands-on celestial activities celebrate the night skies that cradle the earth.

Room With a View – of the Stars
A number of resorts near and far help their guests feel closer to the night skies.

At remote Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point, Utah, there’s an in-house astronomer providing complimentary stargazing sessions to guests, an ‘astrophotography’ machine that wirelessly connects users to download astropics to their devices, even a ‘sky terrace’ suite where you can fall asleep under the stars.
 
The Hyatt Regency in Maui, Hawaii has a resident director of astronomy and a Tour of The Stars program that allows guests, just a smidge north of the equator, to see almost all of the 88 constellations.
 
Nearby, The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s stargazing program highlights celestial navigation and the story of Polynesian overseas migration to the Hawaiian islands, and provides guests telescopes to check out the starry skies on their own, too.
 
Farther afield, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo offers a ‘Taste the Stars’ program. (Watch a video of the program, top.)

It includes a 7-course tasting menu developed by the resort's chefs in collaboration with Costa Rican-born astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz. A secret ingredient is South American wine aged in a 4.5 billion year old meteorite! Plus a guided stargazing session using a powerful GPS-guided telescope and a take-home sourvenir of the moon shot through the telescope while you’re there. Costa Rica is one of the few places above the Equator where Magellanic Clouds, two galaxies first identified by explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the 1520s, are visible.
 

SEA

It makes sense that some of the darkest skies in the world are found offshore. Way offshore, at sea. Which makes ships some of the best places for celestial experiences - and cruise lines are getting onboard.

2021’s Antarctic Solar Eclipse luckily takes place during the southern hemisphere’s summer, so it’s drawing a host of the world’s expedition cruise ships with guests on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise of the Antarctic – with a solar eclipse completely un-muted by light pollution from land.
 
Silversea has three of its ultra-luxury polar expedition ships sailing in Antarctic waters for the Solar Eclipse. Be on deck with fewer than 250 guests as the brilliance of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and gaze amazed as the changing light and sharpening shadows highlight Antarctica’s beauty.

(Courtesy Silversea)

Atlas Ocean Voyages is a new luxury, small ship expedition cruise line that will amazingly include Antarctic’s Solar Eclipse in its inaugural season! On the day of the eclipse, you’ll be sailing through icy waters, and be able to see the total solar eclipse against a backdrop of mammoth icebergs.

Ponant is a French luxury, small-ship expedition cruise line. Its newest ship is also the first, luxury hybrid electric polar-class vessel. Just over 250 guests will make the ‘badge of honor’ sailing through the Drake Passage on the day of the eclipse. You’ll be able to disembark the ship onto the ice pack where, according to Ponant, “the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies”, a rare privilege enhanced by naturalist guides and on-board scientists.

Imagine seeing an eclipse from the Scenic Eclipse! Two former NASA scientists and a world-renowned astrologer will be joining the Scenic Eclipse’s 200 guests when the luxury expedition yacht – that comes complete with two touring helicopters and a six-person submarine, the first permitted to operate in these waters - is strategically positioned for an optimal view at Antarctica’s South Sandwich Island archipelago on the day of the eclipse.

You don’t need a special celestial event for this next Astro tourism cruise!

(Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Flora is the cruise line’s first purpose-built small ship, just for Galapagos expeditions. The legendary islands far off the coast of Ecuador are well known for their unique wildlife, but guests also have the benefit of a brilliant night sky and countless stars above.

Celebrity has crafted a whole new Galapagos cruising experience available on all its Galapagos sailings: 'Glamping' (glamorous camping) Under the Stars that you'll never forget. Four guests each night will be able to sleep on the ship’s top deck in a specially designed cabana. You’ll also enjoy dining alfresco with curated cocktails, wines, even campfire favorites like s'mores under the stars. A naturalist is available to point out stars and constellations as seen only from this part of the world. The magical overnight experience concludes with sunrise and a full bed-side breakfast. 
Remote lands and seas are on many travelers’ bucket-lists – and adding the natural wonders of the skies to your adventure of a lifetime makes it just that much more unforgettable. 
 

#DreamNowStarGazeSoon


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

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'Pandemic Pivots' in Travel We Hope Will Stick Around Forever

Necessity is the mother of Invention, they say, and the pandemic, while it has shut down travel, has also inspired some innovations we love – and are hoping will stay with us long after travel is back to full swing.

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, producer/host of Best Trip TV
 

The Cabins at Mountain Village 

The Town of Mountain Village in southwestern Colorado, is just outside the legendary ski resort of Telluride.

So what better ‘pandemic pivot’ to allow visitors to safely enjoy the town’s restaurants – and reinforce the feeling of being on an alpine vacation - than a collection of gondolas retired from a ski lift and up-converted into private dining cars?

(Photo by Ryan Bonneau provided by Town of Mountain Village)

At the beginning of the ski season, the town ordered 20 re-purposed cars and set them up in clusters in plazas around town in the vicinity of over a dozen restaurants. Each gondola accommodates a bubbled group of 4-6 people in ski gear comfortably, 8 in a cozier squeeze.

The Cabins aren’t tied to any individual restaurant. Gondolas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The town has QR codes to its ‘Dine Outside’ web page inside each car, so diners can settle themselves at their private table, then access neighboring restaurants’ take-out menus to order their meal.

One town official told me both visitors and residents love The Cabins. “They are very popular, it’s difficult to find an open cabin during prime dining hours. Several friends of mine with children have reported their kids are the biggest fans of The Cabins and they have to coax them out when it’s time to go home.”

(Photo courtesy of Town of Mountain Village)
 
So popular are the private dining gondolas, the town has installed 5 more. And while the original intent was to provide a creative solution to allow local restaurants to serve diners during the pandemic winter, The Cabins have become such a signature of the town’s alpine lifestyle, they’re set to become a year-round feature of a visit to the Town of Mountain Village.
 

360° Dome Dining in Banff

There’s a new concept in private dining in the Canadian Rockies, too.

For over 130 years, the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs hotel has been the legendary landmark of the historic, alpine resort town of Banff, Alberta in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage site Banff National Park.


Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies” now has a new, outdoor, private dining venue. The 360° Dome evokes iconic imagery of Canadian winters and shelters up to six guests from the elements as they enjoy panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies and the ‘Castle’ from its terrace.

Inside, the 360° Dome is designed for two to six bubbled guests with rustic luxe elements of winter chic for a couple to indulge in a romantic, gourmet dinner, a group of friends visiting over wine and charcuterie in the afternoon, or a family enjoying an extravagant brunch.
(Two above photos courtesy of Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel)

The hotel teased the fine dining menus designed by the Fairmont Banff Springs’ Executive Chef. Family-style brunch includes make-your-own mimosas, eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes, wine and charcuterie platters feature housemade preserves and cured meats paired with locally-sourced cheese and Canadian wine, and the indulgent five-course dinner features locally-inspired flavours and ingredients, including the Brant Lake Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and the Long Bone Bison Short Rib.

The 360° Dome at Canada’s ‘Castle in the Rockies’ may be a fixture of the winter season, with open outdoor dining taking over when spring weather permits. But its warmth and character in the winter months transform the necessity of bubble dining into a story full of charm.

Clockwork At Home

Another Fairmont Hotel, the Royal York in Toronto, has debuted ‘Clockwork at Home’. 

If the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is Canada’s ‘Castle in the Rockies’, its big city counterpart is a castle in the heart of the country’s biggest metropolis. The epic hotel shares the French chateau design characteristic of the Fairmont hotels across Canada that were born as a chain of luxury rail hotels. Opposite Toronto’s Union Station, the Royal York was once the tallest building in the British Empire, and remains the elegant grand dame of hospitality in the region.


A spectacular re-imagining for its 90th anniversary just before the pandemic introduced a glamorously updated lobby bar. Clockwork is centered around a new statement timepiece, replacing the spiral staircase clock in the lobby that has been a recognized meeting place in the city for years. 

Inspired by its legacy as a railway hotel, the Royal York’s Clockwork marries modern elegance with vintage luxury train carriage style, right down to Pullman car style banquettes. Clockwork is a swanky and stylish bar for champagne and oysters, or a perfectly crafted cocktail over sparkling conversation.

(Above three photos courtesy Fairmont Royal York)

With the hotel closed, Clockwork’s mixologist has bottled up his creative juices into craft cocktails Torontonians can order online, pick up in the afternoon, and recreate the swanky atmosphere of the Royal York during a stylish evening at home. 
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon




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Snuggle Up In the World's Largest Log Cabin
It’s made of an astonishing 10,000 western red cedar logs, and ‘logs in’ at a whopping 4-million cubic feet of volume.
Fairmont Le Château Montebello lays claim to being the biggest log building on the planet. A massive lobby and rotunda anchor four wings extending out in a star formation that’s painted dramatic black on the outside, but retains its natural warm shade on the inside.


Phenomenal, 70-foot log rafters support the atrium lobby, with a central, three-story stone fireplace, a mezzanine overlooking the stunning space, and a 3rd-floor balcony with a perspective over the wonders of its pristine, old-growth forest surroundings.

This incredible building is topped by half a million hand-made cedar shakes, and boasts over a hundred miles of carved wooden mouldings.


The best part? It’s not the private, waterfront retreat of a reclusive billionaire. As one of Canada’s iconic, former railway, ‘castle’ hotels, any visitor to the Montebello region of Quebec near the Canadian capital of Ottawa, can experience this riverfront resort in the midst of a 300-acre forest reserve.

Unlike many of its sister historic Fairmont hotels which evoke French chateaux in Canada’s great urban and wilderness destinations, Château Montebello stands alone as a breathtaking example of contrasting castle grandeur in rustic style.

The resort is an incredible architectural and construction feat, and an astounding vision of hospitality, with a rich history.
 

Historic Pedigree

 
The property dates back to the 1600’s, part of the original land grants from the French King to settle ‘New France’.
 
In the late 1920’s, its new owner envisioned an exclusive, private wilderness retreat for the country’s political elite from nearby Ottawa and business leaders from Montreal only a bit farther away. Original club directors included the Premier of Quebec and a host of nation builders: the presidents of the National Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Canadian Pacific Railway. 
 
Which may be why, despite the onset of the global economic crash in 1929, the project went ahead. A special spur of the CPR rail line was built to bring deliver the massive logs to the site, and 3500 workers and artisans worked 7 days a week, around the clock using unprecedented electric lighting at night to complete this visionary ‘log cabin’ in a mind-boggling 4 months.  
 
On Canada Day, July 1st, 1930, the private members’ club opened, with a grand masked ball as its spectacular launch on the world’s social scene. 
 
For the next 40 years, the who’s who of the Canadian elite played, networked, dined and celebrated family milestones at the club and its waterfront, wooded 300 acres. Non-Canadian club members included European royalty like the Netherland’s Queen Juliana and Princess Grace of Monaco, and a glitterati of guests included international and Hollywood royalty, even US President Harry Truman who expressed a desire to fish his ‘first Canadian trout’ on his visit to Ottawa in 1947.
 

From Private Club to Luxury Resort

 
In 1970, the club re-opened as a resort and bucket list destination for any discerning traveler. Now, Fairmont Le Château Montebello is known world-wide for its one-of-a-kind setting as well as rustic-chic flair, warm French-Canadian hospitality and cuisine.
 
Other buildings have been added to the resort, including a separate log cabin, accessible by underground tunnel, with a 75-foot indoor pool – the largest in Canada – at the foot of totem poles that support the roof.
 
Vast spa, sauna, and fitness facilities enhance the 40+ on-resort activities surrounding Chateau Montebello. Swim and sunbathe next to the pool or river. Boat in to the marina. Play 18 holes of golf, a match of tennis, or try your hand at iconic Canadian winter activities like dog sledding, curling, ice-skating or cross-country skiing. In the warm spring and summer months, or during vivid autumn colors, you can hike and cycle tranquil woods and paths.

 
The resort brings holiday celebrations to life, too. Imagine a traditional Canadian Christmas within the vast log walls and beams, and the tastes and sights of a Quebecois maple sugar shack experience in early spring.
 

90th Anniversary


Fairmont Le Château Montebello celebrated 90 years as a one-of-a-kind landmark of architecture and hospitality on July 1st, 2020. The pandemic has postponed, but not canceled, celebrations, which have been rescheduled to Canada Day, July 1st, 2021.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Fairmont Le Château Montebello

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3 New, Impossibly Picturesque Boutique Hotels That Make it Easy to Dream About Your Next Trip to Europe

France. Italy. Spain. If you’re imagining traveling again to Europe, you’ll have no problem picturing yourself in any of three independent boutique hotels that have just opened in spectacular historic properties.

All three belong to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group of over 500 independent and unique hotels in 90 countries. They all have special character and offer themes that are even more relevant in the new world of travel: small size, privacy, and locations that allow guests to get away from crowds of tourists. 


Milan, Italy

Galleria Vik Milano is part hotel, part post-modern art gallery, immersing guests in Milan’s rich artistic heritage. With bold murals, striking sculptures and a colourful palette, this 88-room hotel is a canvas for Milan’s creative side.


The hotel is located inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and is circled by Milan’s best-loved shops, landmarks, restaurants and galleries. Get your culinary, cultural or couture fix – it’s all literally on your hotel doorstep – then easily escape into your lifestyle hotel.


Both guest rooms and public areas are exhibition spaces with each bearing the hallmark of a renowned artist. Two restaurants, one with dawn-to-dusk food and drinks, the other dedicated to wood-fired pizza, complete your escape from the busy urban surroundings. Fully committed to the marriage of art and life, the hotel has no TV’s or screens. 

Don’t-miss feature: The Adriano Pompa Gallery Suite offers a mezzanine-level bed beneath a Renaissance-esque mural.


Loire Valley, France

If you’ve ever imagined living like the nobility of old France in their chateaux in the Loire Valley, that dream can become a reality in this 49-room hotel. While Les Sources de Cheverny (pictured, top) evokes historic times, guests enjoy modern comforts of luxury French country life.


Everything from the local produce served in the restaurant, the artisanal wooden WaterRower fitness machines, the solid oak jacuzzi and thermal pool, to the antioxidant and anti-aging grape seed extracts of Caudalie’s signature treatments in the Spa des Sources complements the surrounding farms, vineyards and the estate’s 45 hectares of woodland.
 
Here guests can rejuvenate in the spa, inspire energy with a forest-based yoga session, bathe in nature and feed their minds.

Don’t-miss feature: Discover the region on the Loire à Velo cycle route with the hotel’s complimentary bikes. Meander through more than 900km of cycle paths through Loire vineyards, along the banks of the river and past the region’s glorious Renaissance chateaux.


Matarraña, Spain

Torre del Marques is a 15th-century farmhouse that has been brought back to life for the 21st-century and beyond. The intimate, 18-room hotel is in 150 hectares of forest, farmland and vineyards in Aragon, a region of Spain. While it’s easily accessible from Barcelona, many tourists have yet to discover the area sometimes referred to as the ‘Spanish Tuscany’.


Guests of the hotel can enjoy the bounties of the region, including local delicacies surrounded by the gardens and groves that provide them - olives, almonds, honey and black truffles are showcased on the menu alongside local wines like Tempranillo and grape must Mistella.


The hotel has undergone a bio-sustainable makeover with families and small groups in mind. The Suite Room spaciously accommodates four people with two connecting rooms and an outdoor terrace.
 Don’t-miss feature: the organic, ‘zero-kilometre’ restaurant.
 

We can picture a dream escape in luxury to one of Europe’s most beloved destinations in any of these three new boutique hotels.

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
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These 'Hotels' are Full of 'Guests' Throughout Pandemic - Part of Fairmont's 'Bee Sustainable' Program
The global pandemic closed the doors of nearly every hotel in the world. But thousands of very special ‘guests’ at some Fairmont hotels stayed.
Some have even been ‘residents’ for years.

'HOME SWEET HIVE'

In 2008, the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto and Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver installed honey beehives. These two urban hotels may not seem likely places for apiaries. But the thriving hives made headlines, raising awareness of the importance of bees to our world, as well as producing honey for (human) guests, and highlighting local products and food.
Fast forward over ten years, and other Fairmont properties have joined the ‘Bee Sustainable’ initiative, from the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle and Fairmont San Francisco, to Fairmont Yangcheng Lake in China and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Africa. Onsite local honey produced replaces purchased honey in the hotels’ bars and restaurants. Six rooftop honey beehives at the Royal York alone – home to 350,000 bees - are producing 450 pounds of honey every year.
Every hotel’s honey is one-of-a-kind, tasting of the nectars of dozens of indigenous flowers from humble dandelions to cherry blossoms. And the bees do double duty, foraging up to 12 square miles, pollinating area gardens and parks as they visit over 1 million flowers for every pound of honey they produce. 

WILD BEE 'HOTELS'

Not all bees produce honey. But all bees are essential pollinators.
So Fairmont broadened its groundbreaking Bee Sustainable program in 2014, building and installing wild bee ‘hotels’. These wooden structures feature sticks drilled with holes to attract wild bees in the area in need of a safe haven.
Now, millions of bees call Fairmont hotels ‘home’. Nearly two dozen honey bee hives, and a similar number of wild pollinator bee hotels grace the grounds and rooftops and terraces of Fairmont hotels around the world:

CANADA

  • Fairmont Royal York - Toronto
  • Fairmont Waterfront -Vancouver
  • Fairmont Chateau Whistler
  • Fairmont Empress - Victoria
  • Fairmont Vancouver Airport
  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac - Québec City
  • Fairmont Palliser - Calgary
  • Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth - Montréal
 

USA

  • Fairmont San Francisco - San Francisco
  • Fairmont Washington D.C.
  • Fairmont Copley Plaza- Boston
  • Fairmont San Jose
  • Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa - Sonoma, USA
  • Fairmont Dallas
  • Fairmont Olympic Hotel – Seattle
  • Fairmont Orchid - Hawaii
 

INTERNATIONAL

  • Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda
  • Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club - Mount Kenya, Kenya
  • Fairmont Mayakoba - Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
  • Fairmont Le Montreux Palace - Montreux, Switzerland
  • Fairmont Yangcheng - LakeSuzhou, China
  • Fairmont Beijing - China
 
Bees have also become part of their hotels’ guest experiences over the years, from culinary and cocktail menu items, beekeeper courses and packages, garden and bee tours, honey tastings, and special gift items.

BEE SUSTAINABLE

Fairmont has even opened a bee hotel at parent company Accor’s global HQ in Paris. The Bee Sustainable program is a cornerstone of the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism.
The program works with the Pollinator Partnership, an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting pollinators and their ecosystems – not just bees, but also the birds, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other creatures whose pollination efforts produce one out of every three bites of food we eat.
In that way, Bee Sustainable isn’t just about sustainable tourism and supporting local foods in Fairmont hotels. The company says supporting bee habitats is part of its commitment to hotel communities, food production and the economy, noting that bees pollinate 1,000 of the 1,200 crop varieties that provide 80% of human food worldwide and contribute billions of dollars to the US economy alone.
That’s the big picture, and Fairmont is also encouraging everyone to support bees in your own backyard just as Fairmont hotels support bees on their properties. Families and nature lovers will It sells mini bee hotels at fairmontstore.com – a perfect way for nature lovers to get involved, and for families to learn more about bees at home.
 
You can also learn more about the Fairmont Bee Sustainable program and the importance of honeybees and wild bees at fairmontbeesustainable.com.
 

#DREAMNOWTRAVELSOON


Images courtesy Fairmont

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This Company is Sending a Local Hero - and their Nominating Travel Advisor - On a Life-Changing Trip to Africa
Until June 30th, travel advisors can nominate a person from their community they feel deserves recognition.

Courtesy of African Travel Inc., a sister travel company to luxury Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Red Carnation Hotels among other outstanding travel providers, the chosen hero and their guest will receive the ultimate 8-night escape to South Africa and Botswana, experiencing Red Carnation’s Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa and the new Xigera Safari Lodge as well as the Chobe Game Lodge.
 
The advisor who nominates the winning hero will receive their own complimentary spot on an African Travel educational journey to South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania.

For over 40 years, African Travel has created luxury, handcrafted safaris ensuring immersive and authentic cultural encounters across the continent with exceptional service by local experts every step of the way.

(Chobe Game Lodge is an elegant, five-star, fully Ecotourism-certified safari lodge and the only property located inside the world-renowned Chobe National Park)

From now until June 30th, 2020, travel advisors can nominate a person who they feel deserves recognition for going above and beyond in their community. African Travel wants advisors to share their stories, whether it’s about an essential worker on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic or a co-worker helping their community heal.
 
Advisors nominate local heroes by briefly explaining how their hero has positively impacted the people, planet and wildlife in their local community, which reflects African Travel’s philosophy to TreadRight.
 
The TreadRight Foundation was established by The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, that includes African Travel, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Trafalgar Tours, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, among others. The foundation sets the standard on sustainability for those travel companies, and executes its mission to #MakeTravelMatter.
 
TreadRight supports community-based projects worldwide that safeguard the planet, people and wildlife. To date, the foundation has supported 55+ sustainable tourism projects in 280+ communities worldwide, that have included WWF, Conservation International, WildAid and The National Trust in the UK, while current initiatives include WE.org, Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School, Wilderness Foundation Africa and Wildlife SOS. 
 
This contest is in gratitude for people’s efforts to make their communities better places, a theme especially powerful during COVID, which has reinforced how ‘we are all in this together as a travel family’.
 
Advisors can nominate a hero by completing the online form here.
 
African Travel will shortlist the top 10 heroes and host a poll July 13-23rd, 2020 for the travel community to choose the deserving hero.
 

Nominations close June 30th.


Don’t miss this opportunity to reward a deserving local hero!

 
 
 
 
 





Canada's Iconic 'Castle and Cabin' Western Mountain Hotels Re-Open
June 1st was the 132nd birthday of the iconic Banff Springs Hotel, and this year, the date marked another milestone: the re-opening of the four Fairmont Hotels in Canada’s Western Mountain region following a nearly two-month pandemic shutdown.
Fairmont Banff Springs is joined by its sister hotels in Canada’s western mountains Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Fairmount Jasper Park Lodge, which are also re-opening with new measures for guest and staff protection including physical distancing, new cleaning and disinfecting protocols, 48-hour periods between guests in rooms, and temporary changes to amenities like restaurants and spas.


Historic and Legendary

Canada’s ‘Castle Hotels’ are part of a string of luxury properties in epic wilderness and central downtown locations across the country. Today they are part of the Fairmont family of world wide landmark hotels. But they were originally built as railway hotels at the most scenic, or most important urban locations along Canada’s cross-country railroad. Styled with a vision of French chateaux in many cases, today’s Fairmont hotels in Canada are legendary.
Four hotels in Canada’s spectacular Western mountain resort regions are the first Fairmont hotels to re-open in Canada.
The setting for adventures in the wilderness, celebrations, milestones, romance, and many more unforgettable memories, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler are spectacular mountain playgrounds.

Magic Every Season 

At any time of the year, experience breathtaking moments in the mountains, in some cases, in the heart of some of Canada’s oldest National Parks, amidst glacier-fed spas, panoramic vantage points, and charming mountain towns. Discover breathtaking views of vast mountain ranges on a gondola ride. Get a glimpse of the bears, elk, deer or bighorn sheep that may live nearby.
Collectively, Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise and Whistler are renowned for being among the world’s best alpine ski destinations, where endless winter activity extends beyond your usual experiences on the slopes: the exhilaration of heli-skiing and dog sledding, the pristine backcountry scenery of cross-country skiing, and the romance of horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice-skating.
Summers at these mountain resorts celebrate the joys of alpine hiking and ziplining, fishing and canoeing, retracing the steps of early adventurers up tall peaks and through deep canyons, not to mention championship golf on a lush mountainside.
 

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Canada’s original ‘Castle in the Rockies’, located in the heart of Banff National Park only 90 minutes from Calgary, Alberta, the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel reflects the majesty and grandeur of its magnificent surroundings and features:
 
·     Nearly 800 guest rooms from cozy rooms tucked away in quiet corners of the castle to spacious suites with sweeping Rocky Mountain views
·     A dozen restaurants and lounges, including a 24-hour deli offering seasonal fare
·     Direct access via ski shuttle to three world-class ski areas: Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Area
·     Championship golf at Stanley Thompson–designed 18-hole and Tunnel 9-hole golf courses
·     Willow Stream Spa
·     Shops and boutiques
·     Indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub and children’s wading pool
 

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

One of the most iconic images of Canada is the castle form of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise against the breathtaking backdrop of turquoise waters and mountain peaks of its namesake lake in Banff National Park. For over a century, the Chateau has been a symbol of elegance in the wilderness 2 hours from Calgary, and today features:
 
·     Progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism in its natural setting
·     Guided Mountain Heritage programs
·     Hiking, canoeing, horseback riding and rafting in the summer, or
·     Downhill and cross-country skiing, heli-skiing and ice-skating in the winter
·     Nearly 600 alpine accented guest rooms and suites
·     8 restaurants and lounges, including 24-hour deli
·     Health club, indoor pool and hot tub; salon with spa treatments
 

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Deep within the Canadian Rockies, in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Fairmont
Jasper Park Lodge is one of the last authentic Western Canadian lodges in a charming village of cedar chalets and heritage log cabins lakeside with views of majestic mountain glaciers and features:
 
·     Some of the best alpine skiing in the world 20 minutes away at Marmot Basin
·     #1 Golf Resort in Canada just outside your cabin door in the mountains
·     Abundance of wildlife experiences, icefield hiking, ice skating on the lake, canoeing or kayaking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing,
·     Rejuvenation at the luxurious Fairmont Spa
·     Year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub
·     Local cuisine in 7 unique restaurants and dining rooms and unique outdoor settings
·     Kids’ Club and Children’s Activity Centre
·     446 guest rooms, suites and Signature Cabins
 
 

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler

At the base of British Columbia’s famous Blackcomb Mountain and only 90 minutes from Vancouver, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is one of North America’s top mountain playgrounds and features:
 
·     Spectacular mountain or village views from each of 550 elegant guest rooms and suites
·     True ski-in/ski-out convenience
·     Championship golf at Canada’s only David Leadbetter Golf Academy
·     Year round alpine activities including mountain hiking and charming sleigh rides
·     Full-service spa, health club, including whirlpools, indoor/outdoor pools, sauna and steam rooms
·     5 unique restaurants and lounges, including famous après-ski and happy-hour gatherings
 
Whatever season you choose to visit any one of these magical mountain hotels, the sheer beauty of the landscape and the epic hotels nestled in the mountains will captivate you.
 

Start Your Trip!


Images courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
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Travel Companies Offering Free Vacations to Frontline Workers - and How You Can Get Involved
We’ve already reported some of the hotels and hotel chains offering complimentary hotel stays to essential workers in their own towns. The hospitality of these hotels gives frontline workers a comfortable place to stay between gruelling shifts, while keeping their families safely isolated at home during the COVID pandemic.
Now some travel companies have taken generosity and recognition a step further.
In gratitude, and awareness of the toll that work on the frontlines of the fight against the global pandemic is taking on these devoted professionals, hotel, resort, river cruise and airlines have begun offering essential workers free or discounted vacations once conditions permit travel again.
Here are some of our favorite travel companies enabling frontline workers to take holidays to recharge and reconnect with loved ones.
If you’re reading this, you likely believe in the power of travel, too, and these initiatives include ways for you to help frontline workers in your community benefit from a vacation when we are able to travel again.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts

Nominate a frontline worker for a free, all-inclusive beach getaway

Karisma Hotels & Resorts is running a ‘Holidays for Your Heroes’ initiative, providing 150 luxury, all-inclusive resort stays for essential workers and their families.
The recipients of the 150 vacations will be selected from nominations. Anyone can nominate an essential worker with a simple explanation of what makes them so deserving. Workers can also nominate themselves.
Nominations are accepted at www.karismahotels.com/holidays-for-your-heroes#nominate until June 30, 2020.
The lucky 150 nominees will be chosen in July, and will receive a complimentary 5-day stay for up to 5 family members (2 adults and 3 children).
Once travel restrictions are lifted, the recipients will receive a stay at one of Karisma’s beach properties from across its portfolio of brands for either a romantic stay or a family getaway. Options include El Dorado Royale, A Spa Resort by Karisma; Azul Beach Resort Negril, by Karisma in Jamaica; the family-friendly Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; and the newly opened Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun.

(Karisma's El Dorado Maroma, Riviera Maya, Mexico)
Stays include gourmet food and beverages, 24-hour room service and a full-service concierge in addition to a wide variety of watersports, live entertainment, spas, fitness centers, yoga, dance, cooking and mixology classes, language lessons, and supervised programs for kids and teens.
You can do more than nominate a deserving essential worker. If you’re feeling generous and want to participate more, the program also allows anyone to sponsor a vacation for a frontline worker. Karisma will allocate 100% of donated funds to providing a gift of a vacation - at cost - to a frontline worker and family.

AmaWaterways

Frontline workers sail free on a river cruise

The river cruise line has unveiled its program supporting medical, first responder and essential workers who are eligible to register for a complimentary Future Cruise Certificate. 
Once river cruise travel resumes, the certificate can be used with one paying guest in the same stateroom for any of the line’s Europe or Asia sailings through the end of 2021, for reservations made within 90 days of the sailing date.

 
In tandem with the complimentary cruise-only offer, AmaWaterways is also extending a book now option to those eager to reconnect with family and friends and reserve their 2021 journey to any AmaWaterways destination: sailing Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhône, Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro Rivers, Southeast Asia’s Mekong, Africa’s Chobe River and Egypt’s Nile River (beginning in 2021, pictured). The book now option offers hundreds of dollars in savings plus complimentary pre-paid tips.
AmaWaterways also acknowledges the role travel agents play in their communities, and recognizes that they will know personally friends, family and clients who are frontline workers. It allows travel agents to apply for Future Cruise Certificates on behalf of frontline worker clients by visiting AmaWaterways.com/Hero.
 

Hyatt Hotels and American Airlines

Friends & Family Rates and free vacations for healthcare workers

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has teamed up with American Airlines to show their appreciation for the work of thousands of healthcare professionals in the heart of the pandemic storm. Together, they’re providing all 4000 staff members of one of the hardest-hit hospitals in New York City with roundtrip American Airlines flights to Hyatt hotels for 3-night, complimentary vacations in the US and Caribbean. 
It marks the largest total flights ever provided to an organization by American Airlines, and the two companies hope to be able to extend the program further.
In addition, in response to messages from loyalty club members interested in helping, Hyatt is permitting you to donate your points to support the initiative, saying, “Your World of Hyatt points contribution will help support our commitment of providing complimentary vacations for select healthcare workers and a guest—giving them something to look forward to.”

(Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Bahamas, above and top)
And it’s welcoming healthcare workers around the world into the Hyatt family by extending the hotels’ Friends & Family rate to them through June 30, 2021. Qualified healthcare workers can access the special rate using the Special Offer Code THANKYOU and validating their professional status.

#DreamNowTravelLater

 
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Revealed for the 1st Time: This Hotel’s Famous Cookie Recipe

Challenging times call for fresh-baked cookies. For your COVID-19 #StaySafeStayHome pleasure, a cookie recipe for all the home baking and snacking we hear everyone is enjoying during lock down.

Not just any cookie recipe. These are cookies of legend.

They are the welcoming treat so many guests of DoubleTree by Hilton look forward to when they check in. Receiving a paper sleeve of straight-from-the-oven warm sweet treats makes a hotel stay at one of the company’s nearly 600 hotels in almost 50 countries feel a lot like coming home.
DoubleTree cookies have a long history and - no surprise - an avid fan following. More than 30 million cookies are eaten every year, and copycat recipes have been circulating on the internet.
They are also the first cookies baked in space! The hotel chain partnered provided the recipe for its world-renowned cookies to test cooking equipment for space on the International Space Station.
Travel on earth may be grounded. But now, DoubleTree by Hilton’s beloved cookies can continue to put smiles on faces. For the first time, they’re sharing the official bake-at-home recipe for the chocolate chip cookie so at-home bakers can create the warm and comforting treat in our own kitchens. 
“We know this is an anxious time for everyone,” said a spokesperson for DoubleTree by Hilton. “A warm chocolate chip cookie can’t solve everything, but it can bring a moment of comfort and happiness.”
 

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

Makes 26 cookies

½ pound / 225 grams butter, softened (2 sticks)
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon / 165 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup packed / 150 grams light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ teaspoons / 6.25 mL vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon / 1.25 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ¼ cups / 280 grams flour
1/2 cup / 45 grams rolled oats
1 teaspoon / 6 grams baking soda
1 teaspoon / 6 grams salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 2/3 cups / 465 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups / 220 grams chopped walnuts 
 
  • Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. 
  • Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl. 
  • With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix. 
  • Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  • Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. 
  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 
  • Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.
 
On the off-chance you haven’t just eaten all the dough or baked and enjoyed the full recipe of cookies all at once, they’ve even provided a tip so you can enjoy fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies for days.
 
You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.
 
The Doubletree spokesperson says, “We hope families enjoy the fun of baking together during their time at home, and we look forward to welcoming all our guests with a warm DoubleTree cookie when travel resumes.”


#DreamNowTravelLater


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When a destination’s nickname is ‘The Rock’, you don’t expect a warm and cozy place. Newfoundland is the eastern most point in North America, the vanguard of the continent where it faces into the North Atlantic waters and winds that once brought Vikings and still bring icebergs to its shores.  
In this dramatic setting and tough climate, only the strong survive. Newfoundlanders are tough survivors, but the opposite to their stark environment with famously welcoming, colorful, charming, musical and comedic culture.
The ponies that Newfoundlanders brought over from Northern Europe developed the same characteristics over 400 years, until they became their own breed of tough, sweet, sure-footed and gentle ponies.
Nearly extinct only couple of decades ago, Newfoundland Ponies are now, along with Newfoundland dogs, the animal symbol of the province, and a special treat to meet ‘in person’.
BestTrip TV met these Newfoundland Ponies at The Doctor's House Inn & Spa, an hour away from the province’s capital of St. John’s. The graceful Tudor-style mansion occupies 100 acres of oceanfront Newfoundland terrain with breathtaking views of Trinity Bay. 
Converted into an inn with charming rooms, acclaimed fine dining, one of the most beautiful private gardens on the island, walking trails, luxury spa and an event venue in the restored barn, it’s become not only a country retreat and hub for visitors to explore the region, it’s also become a world famous wedding destination.
Warm Newfoundland hospitality at The Doctor’s House Inn & Spa includes the welcome of sheep, goats, chickens, ducks… and a small herd of now-rare Newfoundland Ponies. They add a ‘Newfoundland theme’ to weddings, drawing the bridal couple in carts.
Not only picture perfect, but irresistible, too. 
 

#DreamNowTravelLater




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And Now For Some Good News In Travel We hope you are well and keeping yourself, your family and your community safe by staying at home. Now, more than ever, we all really need some good news. read more
The Hotel with the Best Views of Buenos Aires
They call Buenos Aires the ‘Paris of South America’. Historic neighborhoods of elegant, whitewashed buildings with ornate wrought iron trim, its reputation as the global capital of theater with 280 theaters, more than any other city in the world, and the world’s biggest boulevard, lined, like the grand boulevards of France’s capital, with monumental buildings… all add up to a distinctly European feel in Argentina’s capital city. 

The hotel with the very best view of Buenos Aires has to be the Hotel Panamericano Buenos Aires, with its prime location on July 9 Avenue. Called the world’s biggest boulevard, July 9 Avenue commemorates the country’s independence day and stretches 3 km long, and a whopping 18 lanes across!

The Panamericano hotel’s twin towers are in postmodern architecture, but the hotel still manages to evoke the classic French style of this neighborhood of Buenos Aires, with black and white marble floors, wrought-iron railings and details like a grand, brass-trimmed entrance onto the breathtaking July 9 Avenue. 



(Paris meets South America: black and white and wrought iron railings; driftwood horses reminding guests of Argentina’s rich, ‘gaucho’ equestrian rancher lifestyle and lore).

At the same time, the Panamericano is true to its Argentine homeland, including one of BA’s most renowned restaurants serving wine and locally ranched beef, lamb from Patagonia and other uniquely Argentine flavors.



The Panamericano’s 23rd floor has two attractions: Nivel 23 Club and Spa, with its glass-encased rooftop swimming pool, and an open-air terrace overlooking July 9 Avenue – arguably the best view in BA of the city’s signature boulevard and the other emblems of the Argentine capital along it.

Rising out of Republic Square in median of the boulevard right outside the Panamericano, the dramatic, 67 meter (220 foot) Obelisk marks the spot where the Argentine flag was flown for the first time in the capital. (And it also feels like a South American version of Paris’ Place de la Concorde, with its own obelisk).

Also in full view of the Panamericano is Teatro Colon, ranked one of the top three opera houses in the world, and seating more music lovers than London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Acoustically magnificent, this Historic National Monument is also visually glorious in ornate, late 19th century style, with red and gold décor and a famous chandelier.
 
The Panamericano couldn’t be in a better location. It’s in the heart of Buenos Aires’ most noteworthy architecture, domes, century-old buildings, modern skyscrapers. It overlooks BA’s landmark obelisk, Colon Theater, the Palace of Justice from its privileged position on the July 9 Avenue. 


And the hotel is also only a 10-minute walk from the fashionable neighborhood of Recoleta. That neighborhood’s grand cemetery is a fascinating attraction with its decorative, historic crypts. There’s a constant stream of visitors past one in particular: the final resting place of Buenos Aires’ most internationally famous citizen, Eva Peron, immortalized in Evita!, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about the life of Argentina’s former first lady.

In addition to sightseeing, the Panamericano is the perfect base to take advantage of Buenos Aires’ theatre scene, immerse yourself in the tango music and dance, indulge in Argentina’s world-famous wines and beef from its ranches.

Start your Trip!

 
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It’s a US territory with sun-kissed Caribbean charms. Where lush jungles, land and marine parks and world-class beaches meet Old World cobblestone architecture, New World comforts, and signature Latin hospitality, culture and sultry vibe.  

Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan is a major cruise port and destination in the eastern Caribbean. Thousands of cruise passengers embark and disembark every year. But don’t miss the opportunity to extend your cruise – or visit the island just to explore the island’s urban lifestyle and beach resorts in San Juan, as well as the attractions outside the capital.

Following Cuba’s revolution in the 50’s, Puerto Rico became the heart of island Latin style for America’s jet set, and many of the island’s most memorable urban beach hotel-resorts in date from that sexy, Rat Pack era. Newer boutique hotels have added more ways to stay and play in Puerto Rico’s capital.


Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s producer, host and cruise expert, picks three of her favorite San Juan hotels from her latest cruise trips to Puerto Rico.

Fairmont El San Juan Hotel


Whether you love Old Havana and colonial style, rhythms and cocktails, Mid-Century modern Rat Pack vibes, or contemporary luxury urban resort lifestyle on one of the world's top tropical beaches... the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel fits the bill.
 
This sprawling hotel on San Juan’s 2-mile-long Isla Verde beach – one that’s been voted ‘Best Urban Beach’, is a recent addition to the prestigious, luxury Fairmont portfolio.
 
But this urban hotel has a pedigree. Considered by many the ‘grande dame’ hotel of Puerto Rico society, the El San Juan underwent a $65-million post-hurricane reno and upgrade that restored the best of its colonial architecture, Rat Pack era cool, and added modern, urban resort touches with the Latin flavour of its surroundings.
 
Watch the video above to see this captivating time capsule beach hotel that’s also one of the best places in Puerto Rico for a pre or post-cruise stay, family vacation, wedding or vow renewal.
 
Better yet, book a vacation to experience Fairmont El San Juan’s beach lifestyle, sexy, interconnected pools, breezy outdoor teak spaces, one of the largest chandeliers in the world above one of the most famous bars in the Caribbean, even the hotel’s famous, 200-year-old banyan tree.  
 
 

La Concha

Where the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel melds Old Havana, mid-century, and contemporary design hotel, La Concha is all mid-century beach chic re-imagined for the 21st century.

Right on Ashford Avenue in the heart of San Juan’s ‘it’ Condado neighborhood with expansive beach front, La Concha is one of the island’s iconic hotels, dating back to the heyday of Puerto Rico as a ‘jet set’ destination.

Its namesake is its standout feature: a gigantic, seashell-shaped ‘floating restaurant’ at the edge of the sea. Not only a marvel of engineering and design, being inside the ‘shell’ space makes any meal memorable and a special event like a wedding, absolutely epic.

The curves of the giant shell feature are unmistakably from the mid-century school of modernism. The architects continued tropical modernist features throughout the property, in the form of curves and breezeways, an open lobby and seamless transitions between indoors and outdoors, even a concrete façade that filters sunlight to create patterns mirrored indoors.


Also benefitting from a recent renovation, La Concha has kept its mid-century bones and added ocean-inspired hues and beach-inspired textures, lounges and patios kept throbbing with electronic dance music by local DJ’s, resulting in a completely modern urban beach resort, nightlife destination, and ‘Latino Chic’ lifestyle in a stylish setting few modern hotel builds can match.

O:LV Fifty Five

Around the corner in San Juan’s chic Condado neighborhood from La Concha, O:LV Fifty Five is a jewel of a boutique hotel where Old Hollywood glamour meets modern design hotel.  


Since it’s recent opening, it has made the lists proclaiming “Top Places to Travel”, “Best New Hotels”, and “Finest Hotels” among others.

This adults-only, 26-suite hideaway on a quiet side street overlooks Condado Lagoon from what must be one of, if not the best rooftop destination in San Juan. A cooling green wall and fountains form the backdrop to the infinity pool with a view on the city.


The lobby feels like the living room of an uber-sophisticated socialite, with plush textures, mood lighting and eclectic touches like a table-top metallic cheetah statue and oversized, black and white photography portraits. 


Restaurants at the ground and rooftop levels repeat the concept in their own palettes, with head-turning features like the vintage Rolls Royce – converted into a DJ booth! -  parked among tables of diners and guests heading out to the roof top terrace (pictured above).

All 3 hotels are located between Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, and the San Juan Cruise Port, just outside historic Old San Juan. Whether you’re flying in or cruising out, these three very different urban hotel experiences are unmistakable expressions of San Juan’s one-of-a-kind hospitality and travel experience.
 

Start your Trip!

 
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It was a week at the end of May 1969 that became an iconic, unforgettable moment of 60's counter-culture and protests against the Vietnam War.
 
2019 marks the anniversary of the legendary time when music uber-star and peace activist John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono booked themselves into Montreal's Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, and held their 'Bed-in for Peace'. 

The event resonated around the world, drawing global media who broadcast images of the couple in their pajamas in bed and their messages of peace. While in bed, they composed and recorded the anthem 'Give Peace a Chance' that resonates even today. It was Lennon's first solo single and marked the beginning of the end of the Beatles as well as marking the history of the peace movement. Music history and activist history made on the grand stage of a bed in a suite in the hotel.

The suite in the hotel has been a beacon, drawing pilgrims and fans to take photos in front of the room's door. And now, as part of a $100 million-plus renovation of Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, the four rooms Lennon originally booked have been joined together in a single suite, renamed in honor of the couple and designed with all the comforts of a modern luxury hotel, but also in homage to the 60's era, the Bed-in for Peace, and the urgent, memorable song 'Give Peace a Chance' with interactive, multi-media immersions that bring to life the media frenzy and impact of this once-in-a-generation event.

The John Lennon and Yoko Ono suite at Montreal's Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth is not normally open to the public, but BestTrip got access to experience the suite today, re-live that week in 1969 and its message of 'Peace and Love', and share it with you.
 

Start your Trip!


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See the World's Tallest Indoor Waterfall at this New Airport

It's one of the world's top ten busiest airports, with a flight every 80 seconds. A hundred airlines transport over 60 million passengers yearly to and from Singapore's Changi airport. So millions of travelers are already familiar with the breathtaking Nature features in the airport that's the gateway to Asia's 'City in a Garden'. 


But 2019's new Jewel Changi Airport brings the natural world into an airport environment in a whole new, spectacular way that makes Singapore's airport a destination itself.

The Rain Vortex was inspired by Singapore's tropical rains. It's a 7-story feat of design and engineering that astounds you the moment you walk in the door. At over 130 feet high, it's the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, cascading dramatically through an oculus in the glass and steel dome.


The experience of the Rain Vortex changes depending what time of day you are at Jewel Changi Airport. Every evening, the flowing water, along with mist and music, becomes the centerpiece of an hourly, magical Light & Sound show designed by the same company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and hundreds of other water, fire, light, fog and music installations around the world.

Jewel's indoor waterfall is surrounded by 5 acres of lush gardens and greenery – 2000 trees and 100,000 shrubs from 120 species in different 'parks' that make Jewel Changi Airport a lifestyle destination for visitors and locals too.

Areas like Forest Valley and Canopy Park are shopping and dining neighborhoods in a whimsical green wonderland, with cobblestone walking trails, indoor clouds, play attractions like Sky Nets, Hedge Maze, Mirror Maze and Discovery Slides that flow through themed gardens - all in climate-controlled comfort. In a man-made environment, you can enjoy tropical gardens without tropical weather!
 
With all the world-class shopping, dining and entertainment, Jewel is still a functioning airport that anticipates travelers' needs and offers conveniences that are a breath of relief, even for travelers with only a brief stopover in Singapore. 
 
Thoughtful airport facilities that have been added in Jewel include early check-in counters and kiosks, a baggage storage service and the Changi Lounge, a 150-seat lounge with shower facilities, offering seamless transfers for passengers connecting to and from cruise and ferry services
 
Jewel also has the first YOTELAIR in Asia. The tech-savvy, smart-design, space-efficient cabin hotel concept has 130 cabin-units in Jewel in three categories. The Premium, Accessible and Family cabins can be booked for as little as four hours. They are a game changer for travelers with short daytime layovers, a very early arrival in Singapore, even an extra half day to spend time exploring all that the airport has to offer before you fly out of Singapore - even overnight stays. Hotel check-in / check-out is seamless, with time-saving, airline-style self-check-in kiosks.
 
Jewel also adds capacity to accommodate increasing numbers of travelers at Changi Airport. Another 3 million passengers will now be able to be accommodated annually, bringing the airport's total capacity to 85 million. And it's going to be needed with an airport that's enough reason alone to visit Singapore.
 
The multi-faceted innovation at Jewel gives local residents a new destination where lush Nature meets Singapore's urban energy. And it gives a renewed sense of novelty and wonder at the experience of air transportation to everyone traveling to or from Singapore. 
 

Start your Trip!


Photos: Jewel Changi Airport Devt.

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Whether you love Old Havana colonial style, rhythms and cocktails, Mid-Century modern tropical, Rat Pack vibes, or contemporary luxury urban resort on a world's top beach... Puerto Rico's El San Juan Hotel fits the bill.


Following a post-hurricane, $65-million reno, this grande dame of Puerto Rico society and must-visit destination for visitors to Puerto Rico's capital is back - in spectacular style combining all three eras and captivating your travel imagination.

The El San Juan Hotel alone is worth the trip to this US island territory! 

It's ideal as a destination tropical resort for your whole vacation or destination wedding/ vow renewal / business event, or as an extension before or after your Caribbean cruise embarking or disembarking from Puerto Rico; the El San Juan Hotel is 5 minutes from the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, 10 minutes from San Juan Cruise Port… and 15 minutes from historic Old San Juan, on 2 miles of Isla Verde Beach that's been voted the Best Urban Beach.

Start your Trip!


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Think Overwater Villas are the Height of Exotic Luxury Travel? Try This UNDERwater Villa
It puts new meaning into being immersed in the local natural beauty. The pristine waters of the Maldives are epic, surrounding one of the world's most romantic, remote and legendary tropical eco paradise destinations. 

Now you can sleep alongside your sweetheart or family as well as the rich marine life that animates the waters of these tiny islands in the Indian Ocean. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a pioneering resort: the first international hotel in the Maldives, the first underwater restaurant, and now, the first undersea residence.


It's called the Muraka, or 'coral' in the local Maldivian language, and it is an extraordinary way for up to 9 guests to experience of one of the world's most breathtaking marine environments. Specialized aquarium technology was used to create the 2-story villa, consisting of above-sea-level space, and a spiral staircase to an underwater suite more than 16 feet below sea level with a king size bedroom, living room, and bathing area under a dome with 180-degree views of the ocean.

Sleeping in an undersea dome is an almost surreal vacation, but the overwater part of the villa above is unforgettable, too. More bedrooms, one with an ocean-facing bathtub, more bathrooms, gym, space for a butler and private security, living room, kitchen, bar and dining area with a deck facing the sunset, and another deck with an infinity pool facing sunrise. 

The Muraka butlers are dedicated 24-7 to hyper-personalized service. They are also ambassadors of the Maldivian island experience for undersea villa guests, sharing their passion for culture, the environment and adventure throughout your custom-crafted stay at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.


The resort is located in the Maldives' best diving and snorkeling locations. It melds harmoniously with the environment, flowing from island, over the ocean, to the overwater/undersea residence.


You can double down on the undersea experience at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island at its trailblazing underwater restaurant. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is also a world's first, where the fusion local and Western lunch and dinner menus, fine wine pairings, and mid-morning cocktails are accompanied by a panoramic view of coral gardens 16 feet below the surface of the ocean.

 
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is one of dozen resort restaurants and bars that regularly make 'best of…' lists. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island also features an overwater spa and a Spa Retreat, and experiences inspired by the local environment and culture round out the ultimate island escape. Sunrise and sunset yoga practice. A meditation pavilion. A 5-hour journey to inner tranquility via a unique Zen revelation. A Spa Retreat with over a dozen water villas, its own restaurant, and a selection of therapies including a signature treatment inspired by the beauty practices of Maldivian women, including a heated coconut stick massage and organic, pineapple and papaya body scrub.


Consciously-designed villas and suites, from ultra-private beach villas nestled amongst the rich tropical landscape with direct beach access, to overwater villas ranging from private and romantic, to expansive for an extended group of family or friends, complete with sundecks, hot tubs steps into the sea, spa treatment rooms and more, provide the iconic Maldives vacation.
 
Start your Trip!
 
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7 Castles in Ireland Where You Can Stay
St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle. Dramatic coastline. Historic towns and cobblestone streets. Pubs and parties. Folklore and green pastures… and castles.
 
Hundreds of castles and manor houses dot the Irish countryside. They not only evoke Ireland's storied past. Many allow you to live out your inner fantasy world of warrior kings and legendary princesses during overnight stays.
 
Look for a tour of Ireland that allows you to lay your head at some of these stately homes:

Ashford Castle, County Mayo

 
You'll be joining the illustrious ranks of not only early Irish nobility when you stay at Ashford Castle. British royalty, American presidents and sports and entertainment superstars have all stayed at 800-year-old Ashford Castle. It's a 5-star resort lifestyle in a magnificent French chateau style building on a 26,000 acre estate – complete with is own school of falconry, horseback riding, fishing, archery and clay shooting, as well as more modern pass times like a spa, golf, kayaking, tennis, tree climbing and zip lining.

 
Ashford Castle has been voted the best resort in Ireland and one of the top three in Europe.
 

Bantry House, County Cork

 
Since the 1700's Earls of Bantry have occupied Bantry House overlooking Bantry Bay on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way on the southern coast. You can stay in one of the finest historic manor houses in the country in luxurious bed and breakfast or self-catering style.  

 
As well as the Wild Atlantic Way, you'll want to explore Bantry House's elegant gardens especially when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom. The design is dramatic with seven terraces – the house is on the third terrace - 100 steps, and a fountain.
 

Drumoland Castle, County Clare

 
 Another magnet for global political figures and celebrities, 5-star Dromoland Castle is the ancestral home of the O'Brien family that traces its roots 1000 years back to the famous High King of Ireland Brian Boru. 

 
400 acres of Irish heaven include a top-rated golf course, walking and cycling trails, tennis, hiking, horse riding and pony carriage rides, traditional archery, falconry, fishing and clay shooting. Deluxe décor and luxury living include a spa, afternoon tea, casual and fine dining that once earned a Michelin star.
 

Ballyfin Demesne, County Laois

 
Your travel imagination may picture your castles with gothic towers, but don't miss Ireland's most celebrated Regency / Georgian mansion. With only 20 guest rooms, you'll feel like you're lord of the manor at this 5-star Georgian country house nestled on 600 acres at the foot of the scenic Slieve Bloom Mountains.

 
It's the ultimate mix of old world charm and modern home and hotel comforts – and perfect to take over for a special, destination family or even business event.
 

Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway

 
Voted #1 Irish luxury castle hotel, Ballynahinch is an elegant 17th century castle with magnificent views over 700 acres of woodland and rivers. Relax indoors by one of six open log fires or dine in elegance at one of Irelands' best restaurants. 

 
Take long walks or cycling tours with backdrops against the 12 Bens Mountain range along the Wild Atlantic Way. Or climb onto a boat for a guided trip of its famous salmon and lobster fishery.
 

Crom Castle, County Fermanagh

 
Lord and Lady Erne still dwell at the historic seat of the Earls of Erne, magnificent Crom Castle in Irelands' beautiful Fermanagh Lakelands (pictured top). But the castle's West Wing can be yours, it's available year round for up to 12, with even a cook provided if you wish. 
 
Nearly 2000 acres at Crom are a unique nature reserve with one of the largest semi-natural woodland remaining in Ireland, the largest surviving area of oak woodland in the country, and one of the largest freshwater habitats in the British Isles. You can see two rare butterflies and pine-marten, the largest heronry in Ireland, wild geese and deer.
 

Lismore Castle, County Waterford

 
Some of the most notable names of Europe and the Americas over the last few centuries have visited and stayed at this 12th century castle of the Dukes of Devonshire. Fewer than 30 guests at a time enjoy truly regal hospitality, with use of the castle and estate facilities, and even the Duke's personal butler and staff. The Castle kitchens create formal, informal, indoor and outdoor meals from local and on-site ingredients.

 
Live like the Irish nobility with salmon fishing, golf, horse riding and racing, kayaking and boat trips, even kite surfing, scuba and hot air balloon rides.
 
Make sure your next vacation to Ireland includes a stay fit for a king on one of the Emerald Isle's historic castles.  

(Images courtesy ireland.com)
 

Start your Trip!

 
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Discover Tropical Romance in 3 Overwater Bungalow Resorts on the Caribbean Sea
(Re)kindle the romance close to home – without long flights to the South Pacific or the Maldives!

Overwater villas are the next best thing to a private tropical island of your own – a luxury, bungalow suspended right over top of jewel-toned seas with the rustic-chic experience of living indoors and outdoors. It doesn't need to be Valentine's Day or your honeymoon for you and your sweetheart to deserve an overwater dream holiday.

Here are 3 resorts on the Caribbean Sea - in Jamaica, Mexico, and Panama, where you can live the dream.


Where: Sandals Royal Caribbean, Montego Bay, Jamaica


The Overwater Bungalows and Resort Highlights:

Couples-only Sandals built the Caribbean's first all-inclusive overwater bungalows, inspired by more distant cousins in Tahiti. These secluded villas are just off the resort's private island with private water taxi service. Picture glass floors, butler service, private infinity pools and outdoor soaking tub for two or hammocks over the water where you can dangle your toes and absorb the sun, extended outdoor decks and outdoor showers that blur the line between indoor and outdoor luxury living.


  • All-inclusive, unlimited fine dining at 8 restaurants and unlimited wine and spirits at 5 bars, including swim-up, and stocked bars in every room
  • Free wifi, tips, taxes and gratuities
  • Roundtrip airport transfers and BMW private airport transfers for all Butler and Club Sandals guests
  • Professional water sport instruction and all equipment; PADI-Certified SCUBA diving, snorkeling 
  • Hobie Cats, paddle boards, kayaks, beach volleyball, bocce ball, pool tables, day and night tennis, unlimited land sports and state-of-the-art fitness centers
  • Day and night entertainment including live shows
  • PLUS exchange privileges and all amenities and inclusions with 2 nearby Sandals – it's like having 3 resorts in one!

 

Where: Karisma's El Dorado Maroma, Riviera Maya, Mexico

 
The Overwater Bungalows and Other Resort Highlights:

The adults-only resort's 'Palafitos' (pictured top) are not only the first overwater bungalows in Mexico, but are also on Maroma Beach, one of the world's top-rated beaches. Glass-bottom floors give you a view of the sea from the moment you wake up and your feet touch the floor; in the evenings, you'll have an unobstructed view of the setting sun from your own infinity pool on your private deck. And outdoor shower and private butler top off your indulgent beach escape.

 
  • Easily-reached via non-stop flights to Cancun
  • 8 diverse resort restaurants available in the 'Gourmet inclusive' all-inclusive program and 24-hour room service
  • 2 lounges and 3 swim up bars
  • Non-motorized watersports
  • Spanish lessons, yoga, aqua aerobics, latin dance lessons, cooking classes,  beach volleyball, mescal tasting, free wifi and more
  • Daily entertainment and  nightly entertainment including karaoke, live music, circus show and more
  • Shopping tours to Playa del Carmen
  • Fitness center, sauna and steam baths at the spa, aqua fit

 

Where: Viceroy, Bocas del Toro, Panama – opening slated for 2021

 
Overwater Bungalows and Other Resort Highlights:

  • 42 overwater bungalows the first in Central America
  • Accessible via a short flight from Panama City, boat, seaplane or helicopter
  • 457 acres of Caribbean coastline in a famous eco-destination, next to jungle and San San Pond Sak wetlands, a habitat for birds and wildlife exploration via eco-tours and hiking
  • Sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, biking, walks and lounging on the lengthy beach
  • 42 overwater bungalows and 150 more guestrooms and residences
  • 8 onsite restaurants plus lounges,
  • Multiple pools, spa, fitness center, meditation rooms

 
Tip: If your travel heart is set on the romance of an overwater villa, book well advance as these evocative, one-of-a-kind accommodations are always among the first to fully book especially in high season December – March.

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