October 31, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Nothing whets our appetite for travel more than the annual destination lists by top travel guides. Frommer's recently released their "Top Destinations for 2012" after its editors, authors, and experts spent "months bickering" among themselves. They also reached out to readers to find out their travel plans for the coming year, with Turkey the clear winner at 51% of the vote (Paris, Italy, and Hawaii also got high marks). The USA Today has summarized the list, including explanations about each destination from Frommers.com editorial director David Lytle.
Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, "as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives."
Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it's a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.
Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you've done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.
Beirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. "It's an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation," Lytle says.
Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it's also on the heritage trail for African Americans.
London's Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it's bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party's over.
Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It's also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It's a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.
Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it's central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.
Yucatan Peninsula – There's more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it's been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico's western reaches.
The first Ritz-Carlton in Saudi Arabia officially opened its doors in Riyadh this week. Situated in the Diplomatic Quarter next to the King Abdul Aziz Convention Centre, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is positively palatial in size with 493 guest rooms-- including a whopping 49 two-bedroom Royal Suites and 50 one-bedroom Executive Suites. Looks like they're expecting some high-rollers! The opulent hotel has already become a destination for weddings, even hosting a few before the official opening date, and-- with some 5,800 square meters of conference space-- it's expecting some of the city's largest international summits and gala events. Dotted with fountains, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with native palms and 600-year old olive trees imported from Lebanon. That's not all; the hotel also has an indoor bowling alley and a cigar lounge with one of the largest selections of Cubans in the Kingdom.
There's so much fun and excitement happening the hospitality world these days (beer-themed spa treatments? Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh?) that you can't possibly be expected to keep up with it all. So we're helping out with a wrap-up of some of our favorite tidbits (and gossip) this week. First up: Rumor has it that Buckingham Palace might open as a hotel for tourists when when Prince Charles moves his home to Windsor Castle upon taking the throne. If this does indeed come to pass, expect to pay a "princely sum" to sleep there, says The Boston Globe's Melanie Nayer. Another fun news item: Sir Richard Branson has signed the first deal for his highly anticipated Virgin Hotels brand... in Chicago. The 27-storey Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash-- just a block off Michigan Avenue and the river-- will get a makeover and open as a hotel in fall 2013.
Pictured: Another newsworthy item, the lebua New Delhi, opening in December.
September 28, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.
Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.
September 26, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
Qatar Airways hosted a media reception at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. With the opportunity to attend the event, I thought you, our luxurious travelers might like an inside look into this luxury hotel in the sky!
Qatar Airways has earned the reputation of offering a luxurious experience the moment you set foot on the plane, but for us, the special treatment began the moment we arrived. Our evening started with champagne and hors d’oeuvres being served at Qatar Airway’s downtown office. Afterwards, we proceeded to Dulles Airport, aboard a Reston’s Limo Bus, giving everyone on board a flashback to senior prom. Upon arrival, we were taken on a tour of the airport and got a quick rundown of how the control tower manages incoming and outgoing flights.
We then proceeded to the best part of the evening, an on-the-ground tour of a Boeing 777. The sheer size of the plane was breathtaking, and it made you wonder for a second how a machine of that magnitude can fly. Our tour continued onto the aircraft, which had two business classes, accommodating 42 seats total. The plush, crimson chairs recline fully, and the pristine flight attendants pride themselves on providing five-star service. Qatar Airways prides itself on delivering individual service and catering to every passenger on board. There is no designated meal time; at any point during your flight you can enjoy anything off the unlimited menu that offers indulgences such as zucchini soup, salmon, and even ice cream. And by unlimited, they really mean unlimited. If you want eight servings of ice cream, you are more than welcome to it.
Our evening ended with an incredible dinner, and at that point it was quite clear why Skytrax voted Quatar Airways Airline of the Year in 2011. Qatar Airways flies to over 100 destinations, and since it is at the forefront of the luxury travel industry, it’s bound to meet and exceed your expectations.
(Photo via Qatar Airways)
By: Oksana Balytsky