Check out this exceptional article in The Trib. The European travel guru highlights major changes and trends he's noticed in updating the new "Europe Through the Back Door" and other guidebooks. Planning a trip to Versailles? It's undergoing major renovations from 2006-2010. (Who knew? Rick Steves is the man.) Dreaming Dalmatia?
A new expressway and a sleek new "tilting train" with banked tracks connect Zagreb to Split in six hours or less, and budget flights remain a viable option. A speedy new catamaran also now connects Split to the popular Croatian island Koreula four mornings each week.And the biggest news for 2006: Germany's hosting the June World Cup Soccer Tournament. (Get cracking on reserving your hotel rooms!)
February 2, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
From Rob Wilder, CEO, Proximo Restaurants Our friend Rob Wilder (the Food & Wine Editor of The Informed Traveler Newsletter) recently traveled to Madrid and on his 9 hour flight back, sent us "The Scoop" about his travels. Read about Rob's Experiences in Madrid Proximo Restaurants, Official Site
Check out the miraculous "Snow Show"-- at least in the NYT feature today. A team of artists and architects suffered frost-bitten fingers and sub-zero temps to construct a series of exhibitions out of snow in the village where most of the Alpine Olympic events will be held. The six projects were created by the artist Daniel Buren and the architect Patrick Bouchain; Carsten Höller with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien; Yoko Ono and Arata Isozaki; Paola Pivi and the firm Cliostraat; Jaume Plensa and Norman Foster; and Kiki Smith and Lebbeus Woods. Budgeted at $1.33 million, the works are grandiose and fantastic.
January 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
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.
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
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
This year, Valentine's specials abound, but this is one of my favorites, found where else… but in the most romantic setting of them all, the City of Light. The very popular Pavillon de la Reine—located in the Marais district in the heart of Paris-- has created a special package this year that would make even a few days trip across the Pond worthwhile. Small and charming, yet offering all the luxurious amenities of a grand hotel, the Pavillon is like an elegant and warm Parisian home. The Valentine's special is a steal at EUR 385 per night in a Junior Suite (compared to the usual EUR 685), and EUR 495 per night in a Suite (how's that for savings from the usual EUR 775?) Includes accommodations, a bottle of Champagne Rosé, Fine Chocolates and Roses, a Continental or Buffet breakfast, and a surprise gift from Tiffany and Co. for your special Valentine. Offer valid from Feb 9th to February 20th, based upon availability.
Pavillon de la Reine, Official Site
Pavillon de la Reine, Five Star Alliance
Informed by a well-traveled reader, I couldn't keep the secret. For your next perfect business meeting or conference in Europe, look no farther than the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao. Chic, cosmopolitan and itself a figurehead of design, Silken's first five star hotel sits opposite the Museum Guggenheim, incorporating the architecture of its breathtaking neighbor. World-famous designer Javier Mariscal has mastered the design concept, the interior space paying homage to 20th century design with emblematic furniture. The atrium is pretty cool too: a Mariscal sculpture, the Fossil Cypress, stands tall and actually reaches the skylight. The bar is properly swank, 135 guestrooms have gorgeous views of the Guggenheim, and all meeting rooms incorporate the finest in technology (interactive television and audio equipment, wifi and all that jazz.)
January 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
How's this for Valentine's magic. Roundtrip airfare to London, three nights in one of Red Carnations unique and wonderfully-located London hotels, welcome drinks and full breakfast each day, all for $620 per person. Added bonus is early check-in and late check-out. My choice? The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, overlooking Kensington Palace, with its intimate boutique environment and superlative service. Can't escape for Valentine's? Breathe easy because this deal is available through the end of March.
The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, Official Site
The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, Five Star Alliance