It's official. The Da Vinci Code fever has swept across the Atlantic, infecting citizens on both sides of the pond. Translations, with that distinctive paperback cover, peek from purses and under raincoat-covered arms, in the French capital. And the commercialism has inevitably followed (not at all isolated to American borders); even French coffee bags are stamped with promotional contests with free tix to the May 19 movie opening. Day-um. I've written before about the Da Vinci Code Package at the Hotel Meurice, and now--with the official countdown begun before Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou sweep the silver screen--Da Vinci Code tours are taking off. Now's your chance to become a maniacal sleuth on your summer holiday in France, exploring the churches, Parisian sidewalks, and chateaus so scintillatingly depicted in Dan Brown's mammoth bestseller. Forget the Mona Lisa; the new Da Vinci Code themed tours at the Louvre will have you experiencing the world's richest cultural heritage in a whole new way. Below-- some travel planning resources:
Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Scenes of the Crime"
Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Facts Behind the Fiction"
By Alex Rose
The old-fashioned apothecary claims, "If you can't get it anywhere else, try C.O. Bigelow." How true. Shoppers boast: "This is the coolest drugstore on the planet-- a retro little shop in NYC's West Village, where Mark Twain once filled his prescriptions!" Again, how true. This local landmark has more than the usual fare you'll find on the shelf at the local chain drug store. It has an unparalleled selection of hard-to-find cosmetics and homeopathic remedies for everyone. The best thing about these items though is that they are hand-picked and road-tested by the store's owner, Ian Ginsberg. He travels the world over in search of unique products that really work for his customers. For example, specialty items include: a cinnamon-peppermint concentrated mouthwash from the London pharmacy D.R. Harris, Crystal Eye Gel with a witch hazel potion known to improve tired-looking eyes in ten minutes, a Proraso menthol shaving cream from Florence, Italy, a Propoline First-Aid Balsam from Apitiva, Greece (which contains calendula and aloe known to heal minor sunburns as well as blisters on feet), almost the entire line of Acqua di Parma products from Italy, and London's George F. Trumper brand of personal care products for gentlemen. And Bigelow's long list of distinguished names that have popped in to shop since its founding in 1838 include the Roosevelts and John Belushi as well as current celebrities. Next time you're in NYC, make time to visit this gem.
By: Guest Writer
Of Islands Magazine recent picks of the Best Snorkeling Spots Worldwide, Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia shines as an unspoiled natural paradise with awesome snorkeling right out the front door. Overshadowed by the landmark green peaks--the Gros and Petit Pitons--that provide the lush and dramatic backdrop for this island nation, the resort sits on 600 acres of rolling hills and tropical gardens overlooking the soft sparkling sand of the Caribbean's best beaches. The resort's rooms are each individualized: white-washed cottages with wrap-around-balconies, deluxe suites with enormous interiors and walls opening to extraordinary vistas, other rooms boasting verandahs framed by flowering blossoms, while the premium suites offer sublime showers-with-a-view. Besides the snorkeling on the pristine coral reef just offshore, the resort offers a world-renowned, first class SSI Platinum Pro/PADI dive facility. And after a day on the water (or playing tennis or mountain biking), the therapeutic delights of the Kai Belte Spa await.
Anse Chastanet, Official Site
Anse Chastanet, Five Star Alliance
By Courtney W. May
When I first saw the Flexjet advertisement with Lance Armstrong, I was mostly confused because I had no idea what a Bombardier was or what fractional jet ownership would be. (I was also confused because I thought the images of Lance didn't do him justice-- see right-- and wasn't sure what advertiser would want to do such a thing.)
I did a little bit of research to figure out what Fractional Ownership was and why someone would want to do it. I got most of my information from the F.A.Q. section on the Flexjet website. So is Fractional Jet Ownership like a timeshare? Yes, although a little different since you get access and availability 24 hours a day, every day. And yes, your pet is welcome to travel with you as a member of your family: "A pet safety belt will be provided for pets weighing over 25 pounds. Pets smaller than 25 pounds may ride in a pet carrier or on your lap."
The part I really wanted to know about was price (not that I could afford it). For Flexjet, there are 4 variables as well as financing options which I won't get into here but you can find on the F.A.Q page I mentioned. And of course they aren't going to tell you outright what it's going to cost you-- they want you to contact their 'experienced sales team.' So instead I found an example within a press release from 2004:
"'Jet Rich Quick' The monthly payment ranges from approximately $4,600 for a 1/16th share of a Learjet 45 over a four-year term, to $12,000 for a 1/16th share of a Challenger 604 over a two-year term."
So is it worth it? I'm not sure, but I would be willing to try a couple complimentary flights to find out...
By: Guest Writer
April 1, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
from Courtney W. May and The Sutton Place Hotel, Vancouver
Extended Stay America is not luxury. Your not going to find it at Candelwoods Suites either. And, from experience, I know that those short-term 'Corporate' apartment and condo rentals are way overpriced. Never again will I pay for a 'luxury business apartment' where I have to supply the toilet paper and the carpets are orange. Now I just have to find a reason to go to Vancouver for an extended period of time on the company dime to stay at my new favorite option. Wikipedia suggests that if I want to do business in Vancouver, I should try forest products, mining, and import/export. No thanks.
Why La Grande Residence is so great for extended stays:
It's luxury. I'm not kidding - it is 18 stories of fully furnished apartments designed by the people at Sutton Place Vancouver for the discerning traveler. There are 164 terraced residences - 18 small 550 sq. ft one-bedrooms, 116 large 700 sq. ft. one-bedrooms, and 30 800 sq. ft. two-bedrooms. Residences include kitchen facilities, valet parking for that rental car, concierge, business center, and laundry and room service. And instead of those orange carpets, you get traditional European furniture, balcony patio furniture, sun drapes in the living room and black-out drapes in the bedroom. Unlike a corporate apartment or condo (or my house), La Grande Residences offers twice weekly full maid service, daily towel service, grocery shopping service, and all of the connecting Sutton Place Hotel services. Convenient? They are located in the heart of Vancouver's business, theatre and arts districts - within walking distance of almost everything.
Anyone out there willing to fund a trip for me to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 so I can stay at the La Grande Residences?
The Sutton Place Hotel, Vancouver
The Sutton Place Hotel, Five Star Alliance
After a GBP 20 million renovation, Brown's Hotel re-opened in December as one of London's most stylish boutique hotels. (Baroness Thatcher, accompanied by Sir Rocco Forte, did the honors at the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony.) The charming historic hotel is composed of 11 Georgian town houses, its 117 bedrooms individually designed with style and sophistication. Located in the heart of Mayfair just a few minutes from Bond Street shopping, Brown's has long boasted a reputation of exclusivity and elegant refinement. The notable features of the renovation include three spa treatment rooms, a fully-equipped gym, and six private meeting rooms. And of course The Grill serves up some pretty tasty cuisine, and the English Tea Room is considered a London institution.
As if you needed (yet) another reason to fly the best transatlantic luxury airline in business (besides complimentary car service from London Stansted, the rad frequent flyer program, boutique catering on a 48-seat aircraft designed to transport 5x that number of passengers....) The folks at Eos are so convinced that you'll agree, they're now offering a money-back guarantee for business class flyers of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Get a load of this:
Maybe you think you're flying the best business class to London. But we're willing to bet you're wrong. Our all-premium class airline is designed to be better. And if after flying with us you disagree, we will give you your money back.
Book by April 12, and as a first-timer, you'll also get a special reduced fare: $3,500 or GBP 2,000. Did I mention that this fare includes free car service and a "refresher room" for London arrivals? And if it doesn't add up, rest easy: you'll get a full refund.
So close to Puerto Vallarta (42 kilometers), and yet so isolated in a pristine, tropical paradise. Surrounded by long stretches of white-sand beaches and the turquoise Pacific, Four Seasons Punta Mita offers an unrivaled vacation destination, with luxurious spa and Jack Nicklaus golf. But perhaps the coolest thing about the Punta Mita is the new five-bedroom beachfront Arena Suite, a breathtaking beachfront villa perfect for a family reunion or gathering of friends. The $2.8 million retreat is 13,000 sq feet, with complete privacy, butler service, and magnificent sunset views and whale-watching from a hacienda patio. Amenities include flat screen televisions, high speed internet access, and full marble bathrooms each with a deep soaking tub, separate glass-enclosed shower, and double vanity. Reservations for this suite also includes a daily poolside cabana in the new, adult-oriented Tamai pool complex, complete with 42" plasma tv, DVD, iPod, Bose Wave sound and wifi.
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Official Site
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Five Star Alliance
The moment we've all been waiting for. The glorious Sunny Isles beach resort we've been raving about for months, is officially accepting ressies for April 28th arrivals. The setting couldn't be more perfect: 400 feet of gorgeous Florida coastline halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. This luxurious haven features 97 suites, all with private terraces, the Il Mulino New York restaurant, the first ESPA Spa in the US, three swimming pools and the marine biology inspired AcquaMarine children's program. We've been excitedly anticipating this one for months. Enjoy.
Acqualina, Official Site
Acqualina, Five Star Alliance
So you missed your chance to get tickets to this year's matches in Germany, not to mention the impossible task of booking a hotel room in any of the hosting cities. But you-- a diehard and devoted football fan-- are not about to miss the games on telly. Enter Banyan Tree, with their creative packages designed for fans who want to watch the games in peace (tranquil surroundings with nary a beer-guzzling heckler in sight!) and their partners/spouses who may have escaped infection with that football fevered frenzy. For a limited period from June 1 to July 31, Banyan Tree is offering exclusive World Cup 2006 Escape packages at its resorts worldwide. All packages are inclusive of daily bountiful breakfasts and a surprise gift from Banyan Tree Gallery.
At Banyan Tree Bangkok, the World Cup 2006 Escape package rates begin from US$270 per night for a Deluxe View Suite (minimum two-night stay). The package includes a Banyan Tree Spa Back Reviver session per person as well as a Shopping Companion Service for hunting out the city's treasures.
At Banyan Tree Bintan, package rates start at US$465 in the Valley Villa (minimum two nights stay). All guests taking this package will receive a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, as well as a welcome drink and fruit platter on arrival.
At Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru, guests can enjoy the World Cup Escape Package with rates starting from US$680 per night for an Oceanview Villa. This package includes daily breakfast and dinner, a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, and an unforgettable private sunset sail on a catamaran, complete with a guide.
At Banyan Tree Phuket, the package is priced from US$495 per night in a Deluxe Villa, with a minimum stay of three nights; includes a body massage per person, an intimate High Tea session for two, and cooking lessons with lunch for two.
Lastly, at Banyan Tree Seychelles, the World Cup Escape package rates start from EUR 855 per night (four night minimum), including a Renewal or Rejuvenation Spa session for two, as well as a one-day tour of Mahe with a beach picnic lunch included.