2006 marks another big birthday; this time on our side of the big pond. January 17, 2006 is the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin—the first founding father to reach this milestone. In honor of this extraordinary man (what career and hobby didn't he pursue?), Philadelphia is hosting year-long celebrations. The most noteworthy is the major international traveling exhibition: Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, which opens in Philly on December 15, and then travels around to four other museums nationwide, before its final showing in Paris in 2008.
Hotel Place d'Armes has recently added 39 new rooms and 48 suites, as well as a chic spa with four treatment rooms. Housed in an historic building, the boutique hotel sits in the heart of Old Montreal. The 83 rooms and 42 suites are the essence of elegance, some with jetted baths, fireplaces, home theater systems, original brick walls and city views. The new full-service Rain Spa—with private atrium and Vichy shower room—boasts Montreal's first hammam. Additionally, the hotel just opened the bar Suite 701, the newest destination for the city's trendsetters.
Hotel Place d'Armes, Official Site
Hotel Place d'Armes, Five Star Alliance
Indulge in another hedonistic eating spree at San Francisco's world-renowned farmer's market. Forget the fruit-shopping, this is a tourist attraction in its own right. Sitting at the foot of Market Street, the views of the downtown cityscape and surrounding Bay are stupendous. Make the rounds sampling succulent fruits with exotic names: pluots, persimmons, pomelos, and also the more traditional strawberries, peaches, and apples. Extraordinary artisans have also set up shop here: Cowgirl Creamery presents delicious aged cheese, like Mt Tam and Red Hawk; Blue Bottle Coffee Co. specializes in organically-grown beans that they roast themselves in six-pound batches; Primavera offers piping hot gourmet Mexican platters. Inside the Ferry Building, more artisans are housed with permanent retail spaces. Thick Greek yogurt, specialty breads, fancy cupcakes; this is heaven on earth.
The best way to see the city's unique and colorful hoods? Why, eat your way around town! Close to the country's most prized and productive farm land, the organic-minded San Francisco is brimming with tasty delights. A mecca for restaurateurs who know their quality cuisine, the city is jam-packed with gems in every distinctive neighborhood.
Rise and shine, with a California sky that blue, it's impossible to sleep the day away.
For the perfect morning coffee, head to Noe Valley's Martha and Bros., a local Latina-owned cooperative that boasts daily delicious roasts. With its boutiques and neighborhood charm, Noe Valley is picture-perfect-cute. Stroll past Noe's colorful Victorians (and charge up the city’s famous inclines) for the next stop in the Mission. Got to feed that growling stomach! Not far from the sloping green of Dolores Park, with the famous mission glowing white in the California sun, Tartine beckons with its exquisite crossaints (oozing chocolate) and beautiful pastries. The line curling out the door and around the block advertise that this is absolutely the best bakery in the city. While in line-- as the aroma of hot bread wafts out of the kitchen-- try not to eat your arm off waiting for the shortbread, bread pudding or Mexican wedding cookies.
Stuffed with bread, head out the door to enjoy a Mission morning. Walk by walls covered in brilliant murals, or artistic graffiti, storefronts plastered with political profanity. And there's people-watching aplenty: from hipsters, to funkified artists, to dog-walkers, to Mexican futbolistas, and beautiful couples from the vibrant gay community of the neighboring Castro. Tired already? Nothing like a quick pick-me-up in the Lower Haight to lure you on. rnm is a paradox of sorts: outrageously hip, yet mellow and laid-back, like its Lower Haight environs. Like most major metropolises, San Francisco succumbed to the "little plates" invasion a few years ago, and rnm has perfected the trend, with plates-to-share like truffle oil pizza. Just to die for. They're not open this early? Knock, knock. I bet you can get take-out. Beg, plead. These guys are cool—after all, this is the Lower Haight. If you can't score some wanna-be tapas, head to Thep Phenom, the best Thai restaurant in town, just two blocks away, for a small bowl of pad thai.
Continue your hike to Hayes Valley, the recently revamped stretch of blocks that all the mags are talking about these days. The tiny little neighborhood somehow emblematic of a "San Francisco renaissance." As if San Fran has ever been uncool? Though right now, Hayes is the height of hip. Boutiques are full of fashion: from shoes to vintage French posters. Your lunch destination? Absinthe, of course, on the corner of Hayes and Gough. In addition to gourmet burgers with Niman Ranch ground beef, gorgonzola, sauteed mushrooms and onions, the weekend brunch is one of the best in the city. Another option is the glass-walled lunch-destination of Zuni Cafe, for its famous raw bar. Enjoy the signature roast chicken for two (spilling delicious stuffing) and buzzing atmosphere, at this prime spot overlooking Market Street.
Full? Too bad. There's too much good stuff in this town! Afternoon delights await! Continue your walking tour to the top of Fillmore and Broadway in Pacific Heights, for a breathtaking view of the bay, golden gate, and small white-houses of the Marina. The land and seascape are almost Mediterranean. Get your caffeine fix at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and then stroll through one of the city's finest shopping streets.
Continue down the hill to Union Street, for more great shopping amongst the yuppies of Cow Hollow. A fabulous walk commences at Fillmore, continues on Union Street over Russian Hill, then down into the land of Italian bistros and cozy cafes in North Beach. Gawk at another vista point, atop Telegraph Hill with the flock of wild parrots which has made the Coit Tower environs its home. Another afternoon coffee break awaits at the famous Caffe Trieste, where the Beat Generation used to wax poetical. Rest your weary feet and daydream about your dinner options: the exquisite Gary Danko, or long-time city favorite, Boulevard, located on the waterfront in the historic Audiffred Building. Ahhhh, San Francisco treats.
The Pan Pacific Vancouver recently opened a new Galley Level, part of an $8 million expansion that increased the hotel's event space to 42,000 square feet and 20 rooms. With a harborfront location that can't be beat, the Pan Pacific sits atop the Canada Place Complex, home of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center. From Oceanview Suites with dramatic views, to the luxurious space of the Crystal Pavilion (capacity of 700), the Pan Pacific's got you covered. For post-meeting decompression, the AAA Five Diamond hotel boasts a heated outdoor pool with Jacuzzi and sun deck, 100 feet above the harbor, along with the brand new Fitness Club.
Pan Pacific Vancouver, Official Site
Pan Pacific Vancouver, Five Star Alliance
December 5, 2005
By: Guest Writer
Text and photo by Alex Rose
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is Auberge's newest addition to their family of luxury resorts. It fits in quite nicely with the Southern charm and hospitality of the people and the region. It's located on 20,000 acres of Carolina Lowcountry in Bluffton, South Carolina. The residence cottages come with a beautiful view of the May River and its dolphins. There's a wide variety of activities including an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and the Spa, known for its Relaxing Bath and the Pumpkin Peach Body Peel packages.
The tradition of Auberge cuisine excellence continues with the River House Restaurant; the stand-out menu includes She-Crab Bisque, the Butter Poached Lobster, and the Crème Brulee Trinity (with chocolate-Grand Marnier) for dessert. Be sure to get a golf cart and take in the resort's marsh and wetland area, which includes alligators and abundant wildlife.
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Official Site
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Five Star Alliance
By: Guest Writer
Effective January 2006, all 77 Westin hotels in the U.S. and Canada are instituting a new brand-wide smoke-free policy. Following LA and NY restaurants, where smokers are banished to the cold and dreary sidewalks, huddled together in their vice, Westin will begin ostracizing smokers to "designated outdoor areas."
Vagablond reports today that N'awlins has begun offering the first free wireless internet network owned and operated by a major city. Let's hope the trend catches on! In related news, Gadling's got a great piece about free wifi in the nation's airports. (MSN's top five include Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Jose, Miami, and- um- the hopping metropolis of Albuquerque.)
New screening procedures are going into effect on December 22 in the nation's airports, and even little scissors pass the test! So my tweezers won't be thrown out again by some overly-competent airport screener?! Could it be? I was told recently that a sea-shell was a hazardous and dangerous weapon that could not possibly be carried on the plane. Let's hope the rules of old do not linger residually... Via CNN
In July, the National Zoo welcomed a male panda cub-- Tai Shan. The little guy has been hanging safe with mom in a den for the first few months, before making his debut for visitors on December 8th! In collaboration with the Zoo-- in celebration of these cool creatures-- the Fairmont has put together a Panda Package. Come check out these endangered animals at the National Zoo, get pampered at the Fairmont, and feel good knowing that the hotel makes a donation to FONZ's Giant Panda Conservation Fund each time the package is booked. What's included? Overnight accommodations for two adults and two kids in a luxurious guestroom. A Zoo Welcome Kit with discount coupons, a stuffed Panda, zoo map, Giant Panda fact sheet, Kids' Giant Panda activity booklet, Panda postcard, Giant Panda video album CD, disposable FujiFilm camera, ticket for six people to the FujiFilm Giant Panda Habitat during your stay, copy of ZooGoer mag, and area dining guide.
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Official Site
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Five Star Alliance