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Travel Tips Around The World

Feb 27 2017

Escaping the all-inclusive: Delicious dining elsewhere in Punta Cana

If you get tired of the all-inclusive menu at your resort while in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, there are plenty of options to shake things up, from traditional Dominican fare to stunning restaurants right on the beach; these are a few if our favorites.

                              Image result for jellyfish punta cana

                                       Jellyfish's deck faces the ocean; photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Sitting right on the edge of the waves of Bavaro Beach, Jellyfish serves exquisite, freshly caught seafood. It's truly an experience just for the views, and the food matches in excellence. For a perfectly charming lunch or dinner spot outside of the resort complex, this place can't be beat.

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Feb 17 2017

Stunning natural sights on Hawaii's Big Island

Hawaii Island, the biggest island in the Hawaiian chain, is home to some of its most stunning scenery. Much less populated than Oahu, the Big Island has gorgeously preserved nature and a strong agricultural economy. Take a tour of a coffee plantation and enjoy relaxation in the resort areas of the island, but be sure not to miss these incredible natural sights.

       punaluu

                                         A green turtles basks on Punalu'u Beach; photo via Aloha Valley.

Punalu'u Beach is a beautiful black-sand beach, the color coming from the fact that the sand is made up of very finely ground lava rocks—lava flowed into the ocean and exploded upon contact with the cooling water. The beach is a regular nesting and sun-bathing area for green and hawksbill turtles, and sightings are nearly guaranteed year-round. In addition to being a lovely spot, the beach is fully outfitted for swimming—though the water can be cold—with lifeguards on duty. For a day at the beach that's a little something different, make the trek to the south side of the island to Punalu'u.

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Feb 15 2017

Getting around London—hassle-free

Category: DestinationsChristine Norris @ 08:56

travel42 contributor Peter Lynch offers his practical advice on navigating the city of London, England:

                 

                                              Traffic on Whitehall Street; photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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Dec 16 2016

Dining in Lima, Peru: Ceviche and pisco sours abound

The city of Lima, Peru, is a bustling metropolis and one of the jewels of South America, so it's no surprise that its dining scene is exciting and inventive, with plenty of traditional options alongside fusion and international fare. It's easy to find chain restaurants and plenty of establishments offering everything from French and Italian to Asian and American, but we think you should take the time to sample some of the staples of Peruvian cuisine, especially ceviche and pisco sours. These are some of our favorite food experiences in the Peruvian capital.

                 

                                  The ceviche sampler at La Mar; photo courtesy of Florian Kretschmann.

La Mar is basically synoymous with ceviche in Lima. This buzzing spot is always packed, and does not take reservations—it's best to go at off hours, and be prepared for a wait regardless of the time. It's worth it, though, for the world-renowned ceviche creations that the kitchen doles out. You can't go wrong with any of the ceviches on offer, and the rest of the menu is made up of incredibly fresh seafood. There's really not a bad item on the menu, and the drinks are good too. Truly a must-visit restaurant in Lima.

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Dec 2 2016

A week aboard the Oceania Riviera

Category: Cruisestravel42 @ 06:41

travel42 contributor Ramsey Qubein shares his experience of the week he recently spent aboard the amenity-rich Oceania Riviera. More...

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Nov 30 2016

Top 5 Hikes in Phoenix, AZ

Category: Best Of | Destinations | Recreationtravel42 @ 11:33

Phoenix is one of the very best cities in the country for hiking with tons of trails that are easily accessible from the metropolitan area. Grab your hiking shoes, friends, lots of water, and head out on one of these awesome hikes.

1. Camelback Mountain

Whether you've only visited Phoenix or you're a long-time local, you must've seen Camelback Mountain - it's pretty hard to miss. It's a challenging hike that will get your heart pumping for sure, but the views from the top are more than worth it.

Photo Credit: Dru Bloomfield

2. Tom’s Thumb

Tom’s Thumb is a super fun, popular hike in the Scottsdale McDowell Mountain Sonoran Preserve. The infamous “thumb” can be seen from most places in the valley – a white burst of rock jutting skyward out of the desert ridgeline.

Photo Credit: Al Hikes AZ

3. Pinnacle Peak

This serene slice of Sonoran Desert is home to a wide range of wildlife including bobcats, Gila monsters, desert tortoises, antelope ground squirrels, cactus wrens, and rattlesnakes.

Photo Credit: Pinnacle Peak Locals

4. Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak, formerly known as Squaw Peak and conveniently located in the heart of the Phoenix metropolitan area, is a relatively short hike that yields impressive views of the city and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. Piestewa Peak is a popular spot for locals who do not want to drive or hike for hours to fit in a good workout, so be prepared to encounter some crowds if you visit on a weekend.

Photo Credit:Eric Vondy

5. Hike Siphon Draw to Flatiron Summit

Whether you turn around at the rock basin, make it to the Flatiron Summit, or venture all the way to the top of Superstition Peak, you will not be disappointed by the ever changing rock formations, beautiful views, and rigorous workout!

Photo Credit:David Porter

Looking for other great adventures in Phoenix?  Check out our recently updated destination guide here

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Nov 14 2016

Malta's Mesmerizing Temples and Beaches

The nation of Malta is actually made up of several islands, and their history stretches far back to pre-Roman times—there are temples there that date from 3600 BC. The island of Gozo is home to some of the country's most exciting sights, from temples to the infamous Blue Grotto, along with some fantastic beaches. The Maltese coast can be quite rocky, but there are a few sandy stunners to be found on the biggest island, also called Malta.

                                   Mellieha Bay on the island of Malta. Photo via Destinations Point.

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Nov 9 2016

"Hospitality Couture" At The New Watergate Hotel

Category: Hotelslrodini @ 02:34

A few of Bryant's fanciful designs

A few of Bryant's fanciful designs


High fashion is itself a lucrative business, and, for a long time, couture houses sought their share of the tourism dollar by setting up boutiques in luxury hotels. But hotel guests aren't the only people the fashion houses have been outfitting; recently, top designers have focused their attention on hospitality stafffrom Narcisco Rodriguez, who designed the uniforms at the Park Hyatt in NYC, to the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, whose staff sport ties emblazoned with Donatella's lion motifs and other Versace logos. Even celebrity designer Victoria Beckham has gotten into the game, designing staff apparel for the Fashion Hotel on Isla Moda (which is owned by her friend, Karl Lagerfeld).

Actually, some hotel employees might now be more glamorously dressed than their guests!

Take the new Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC, which underwent a $200 million renovation and reopened in June of 2016. Interior designers spared no expense highlighting the best aspects of the 1960s Mod era into its 336 guestrooms and suites.

That aesthetic translated into staff uniforms, as well.

Janie Bryant, the costumer behind TV’s Mad Men, was asked to create a line of retro-inspired hotel fashions. She envisioned thoughtfully designed pieces for restaurant staff, concierges, bellmen, valets, and reception attendants which provide a visual counterpoint to the hotel's lush interiors. (Plus, they can withstand some elbow grease.) These pieces do wonders at breathing new life into the venerable property and instilling a sense of refined whimsy.

After all, The Watergate Hotel is synonymous with Washington's biggest power players, so it's only fitting that its employees look their best! 

Bryant's collection features a palette of camel, black, white and grey, with splashes of lipstick red. Front desk attendants are outfitted in A-line shaped dresses in the Watergate's signature check pattern, set with a puff sleeve and slight mandarin collar (pictured above). This look immediately sets the tone that hotel guests have arrived at a place that's out of the ordinary.

For more otherworldly delights, The Next Whisky Bar, located around the corner from the reception areajust follow the golden-tinged trail of house-made whiskey bottlesfeatures a set of cocktail-shaking bartenders arrayed in four-button, windowpane-patterned suits (pictured in the image at top, second from the left).

Valets will surely be the talk of the Beltway sporting black topcoats, pants with gold camel piping and—even—stylish Hamburg hats! What taxi wouldn't stop at such a regal sight (pictured left)?   

Each uniform boasts outstanding craftsmanship, with details such as silver buttons made from the Watergate logo, and are stitched in durable fabrics which allow employees the freedom to do their work without worrying about pulling fabric or getting dirty.

Fans of these fashion plates can carry the looks with them—literally. Each design is emblazoned on a complimentary Watergate Hotel Umbrella that can be used during a guest stay or can be brought home as a keepsake for $35.

We think the day of Haute Couture fashion shows devoted exclusively to hotel uniforms is coming soon. (And just imagine how outrageous the designs would be!) But until then, at least we can visit hotels like The Watergate and see a virtual catwalk of beautiful design in front of our eyes.

 

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Nov 3 2016

Skiing in Marrakech

When people think of Marrakech, Morocco, the image conjured up usually involves sun, sand and heat—but just 45 miles from Marrakech is Oukaimeden, a ski resort that boasts Africa's highest slopes. It seems like an anomaly, but truly, there's some pretty fine skiing in Morocco. The slopes usually open in December and stay open until about April, but January and February are the best months to go.

                                                 The slopes at Oukaimeden; photo via Good Health blog.

There are only five runs, so even for the biggest ski enthusiast, Oukaimeden works best as a day trip from Marrakech, or potentially as an overnight stay. A guide is advised, since the slopes aren't well marked, and the snow won't be as well pressed and smooth as you're used to. Though a bit bumpy, the slopes are fun, and exciting simply for the fact that you might wake up in the heat of a riad and end your day covered in powder high on a snowy hill. Experienced skiiers will do best there, since the slopes can be a bit difficult.

Lifts and equipment rentals are very affordable, but remember, this is Morocco, so don't expect the sophistication of your favorite Colorado resort. Still, Oukaimeden makes for an interesting day trip from Marrakech. For something totally different from the bustling souks and winding streets of Marrakech, try a day of skiing! The village at Oukaimeden is small but charming, with enough restaurants, shops and accommodations to make a visit easy and attractive.

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Nov 2 2016

Marrakech: Best town for a warm bath

Category: Anna Goodman @ 07:53

"There must be quite a few things that a warm bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them," wrote Sylvia Plath. Clearly this optimism didn't pull her through in the end, which came for her in a snowbound London flat where all the pipes had frozen. But when she was carefree and single, she had been entertaining thoughts of teaching in Morocco when she got the fateful news that she'd won a Fulbright to Cambridge. From there things just got frostier. If only she'd gone to Marrakech and experienced a true hammam, things might have turned out differently.

Hammam simply means Turkish bath. While Morocco was never part of the Ottoman Empire, it shares the Turkish tradition of a public bath in nearly every town. This means that your choices can fall anywhere on the spectrum from no-frills, bring-your-own soap neighborhood bathhouses to resort-style spas with services so predictably posh you'll need to check your Facebook posts to remember what country you're in. 

Four-handed massage, rose petal rituals, couples cabins and privacy, privacy, privacy. If luxurious isolation with nice smells is your bag, check the websites of hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental. Most upscale properties offer spa services with hammam packaging. If you're looking for something more memorable, however, ask your cab driver where he goes to unwind.

Public hammans are always single-sex, either by having completely separate facilities or designating days of the week for men or women. You should take your own soap, shampoo and towel. Additionally, most people take a little plastic bowl, so they can pour water over themselves, and a glove for scrubbing, called a kiis. These supplies are often for sale or rent at the hammam. It's good to have a swimsuit with you; women might want to have a bikini and use just the bottom. If going bare, it's good form to have your towel around your waist as you pass from one area to the other. Take your cues from those around you and don't reveal more than the locals do. Nobody will be offended if you err on the side of modesty.

If you'd like to take a step up from the complete self-serve scenario, Marrakech offers a selection of free-standing spas that offer massage and other treatments in the spirit of the hammam tradition. They will have a selection of shared single-sex facillities. 

The usual drill is to enter the warm room first for an initial rinse and to get accustomed to the environment. Then you enter the hot room, where you work up a good sweat. Then return to the warm room to wash more deeply and get scrubbed down by a friend or the attendant. In public hammams, don't be alarmed if a stranger offers to give you a scrub. They're only looking for somebody scrub their back in return. Accept or decline according to your own comfort level, but if you accept don't neglect to return the favor. The last step in the series is the cold room, where there is usually a communal shower. There you can linger on a bench while you prepare to face the world again with renewed vigor.

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