Head west from the Cancun airport, away from the glass and glitz of Mexico's cheesy Caribbean resort capital, and colonial Mexico will hit you smack in the face. The less touristed towns of Merida and Campeche—with cobblestone streets lined by palms and colorful pastel facades and ornate wrought-iron lampposts—are just a few hours drive from the more crowded Disney-esque capital of booze, surf and sun. Here you can discover the exquisite culinary delights (tacos al pastor are my absolute fave), rich history and stunning and secluded Mayan ruins of the Estado de Campeche. The ruins at Palenque and the jungle-shrouded Calukmul are empty compared to Chichen-Itza and sea-facing Tulum. Where to stay? The Hacienda Uayamon is a gracious colonial masterpiece, its ten villas and two suites complete with terraces overlooking the lush jungle gardens, stone plunge pools and day-beds for dreamy afternoon siestas.
The Hacienda Uayamon, Official Site
The Hacienda Uayamon, Five Star Alliance
That's right, the travel industry has its own Internet domain name. How cool is that?! .travel was launched recently with 16,000 registered dot-travel sites. Often deemed the largest business in the world, the travel industry will probably all move over to dot-travel sites in the future. After all, the organization of dot-travel makes things a lot easier for consumers to find info and make bookings. Via TravelWeekly
The all-suite Conrad London, in a choice spot overlooking the Chelsea Harbour and River Thames, has the perfect solution to banish the winter blues. Give yourself the "Luxury Gift" package, which includes a night in a suite, a 3-course dinner with a glass of champagne, plus a full English breakfast for 2 people and a plush bathrobe for each guest to take away. Available until March 31, 2006; Prices are GBP270 for a city view suite and GBP300 for a marina view suite.
This article in the Sydney Morning Herald is a fantastic read, and includes top travel picks from Tony Wheeler, of Lonely Planet (who picks the Balkans as the European hotspot of the moment, and Mali in Africa), Hilary Doling of Luxury Travel Magazine (Laos is it for 2006), and other experts.
DailyCandy gives us the scoop on the latest stylish travel trend: Alex Grant laptop carriers. The essence of chic, while entirely functional at the same time. InStyle Magazine (October 2005) also went gaga over these bags. The totes and messenger bags each come with their own matching agb signature case-- padded to protect your laptop and sized to fit inside the larger bag. Talk about cool design.
You heard that right, folks. The lovely Fairmont is to be acquired by Kingdom Hotels and Colony Capital. The combo with Singapore-based Raffles creates a new luxury hotel brand with 120 hotels in 24 countries. The dry deets are spelled out in the press release:
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc. ("Fairmont" or the "Company") (TSX/NYSE: FHR) today announced that it has entered into an Acquisition Agreement whereby a Canadian company owned by Kingdom Hotels International ("Kingdom") and Colony Capital ("Colony") will acquire all of Fairmont's outstanding common shares at a price of US$45.00 per share in cash. The total value of this transaction, including debt and the combination with Raffles, is expected to be approximately US$5.5 billion (or US$3.9 billion, without giving effect to the Raffles combination).
Even the classy and elegant Hotel Meurice has stooped to a new, commercial low. Maybe it's still reeling from the fines imposed by the French government for price-fixing, searching for new ways to lure American pocketbooks. But I'm simply amazed by the latest promotion offered by the classic Parisian hotel. Yes, the Da Vinci Code is a fun read, and the movie (with an all-star cast) promises to be even better. But tours of the best museum in the world catering to the fictional thriller?! It seems akin to the Parisians welcoming McDo to a spot in the Tulieries. If I can't thwart your enthusiasm, here are the dreadful details:
The "Da Vinci Package" includes accommodations, American breakfast (of course), Private guided tour of the Louvre Museum and the St Sulpice Church, and a special Da Vinci commemorative gift. Starting at EUR 702 a night, for a minimum stay of two nights, valid until December 28th, 2006.
Hotel Meurice, Official Site
Hotel Meurice, Five Star Alliance
On the next 20 hour flight to Asia, how about learning a little Cantonese, Japanese or Korean? Singapore Airlines now provides passengers with the opportunity to learn 22 languages provided by Berlitz Word Traveler on the inflight entertainment system. Via IHT
The best part of winter (besides hitting the slopes or lounges in Aspen, Jackson Hole or Zermatt, of course) are the special offers wheeled and dealed by luxury hotels in order to fight the vacancies of their shoulder seasons. Nothing like a free night at one of the best hotels in Europe to entice a winter-weary traveler for a luxurious long weekend. At the Hotel Majestic, guests are pampered in a destination hotel that is smack in the middle of all that's cool in Barcelona: Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, Gaudi's strange and marvelous architecture. The rule may even apply to the most glorious and fashionable penthouse in the city, with its whopping 3,230 sq ft of space. From now until the end of February, take advantage of the 3x2 Offer, where guests are awarded with a free night after paying for two. And the weather map in the International Herald Tribune this morning seems to suggest that guests could even marvel at the panoramic city-view from the rooftop pool and solarium right about now (Spain is blessed with some remarkably mild winter temps.)
Hotel Majestic, Official Site
Hotel Majestic, Five Star Alliance
Get yourself to the metropolis of music for the 2006 gala for Wolfgang Amadeus' 250th birthday. In Salzburg, the composer's birthplace, the entire city has become a stage, with 55 first performances, 36 operas, 260 concerts, and exhibitions galore. Soak up that culture-- just revel in it!-- while spoiling yourself at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg, located in the heart of the city on the banks of the Salzach River. The preferred hotel of statesmen and royal families, the turn-of-the-century Grand Hotel has a long tradition of luxury and style, usually booked solid during the annual Salzburg Festival. Of course, it's the place to stay during Mozart's birthday extravaganza.
Hotel Sacher Salzburg, Official Site
Hotel Sacher Salzburg, Five Star Alliance