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Travel Tips Around The World

Jun 30 2015

Inspiring Dining Experiences in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Category: Destinations | Dining | GeneralChristine Norris @ 05:10

Zanzibar, Tanzania, an island off the east coast of Africa, has a wealth of dining experiences worthy of a city with so much history and beauty, not to mention its infamous wealth of spices. Wandering the winding streets of Stone Town, you can easily find cafes and restaurants, and any hotel restaurant is certainly a safe bet, but here are a few stand-out eats that we think you should try when in Zanzibar.

The Rock Restaurant is more a dream than a dining experience. Located on a coral island just off the coast, it serves a variety of cocktails and a menu of mainly seafood and house-made pasta. It's pricey for African cuisine, and the food can be hit-or-miss, but the open-air balcony supplies surreal, gorgeous views. Go to The Rock for the experience and the good wine list, and try to catch the sunset. There are only twelve tables, so reservations are a must.

            

      The Rock Restaurant, situated on a tiny coral island in the Indian Ocean. Photo courtesy of Travelettes.

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Jun 22 2015

What to expect flying SAA business class

Category: Destinations | On The SceneMegan Leader @ 11:15

I recently returned from a trip to Durban, South Africa, for the INDABA pan-African trade show. It was a whirlwind—I spent three days in Durban, preceded and followed by two full days of travel on each end of the trip. While four days of airports and airplane seats can seem daunting, I have to tell you that those long spans of travel time were an absolute pleasure. I was fortunate to fly business class on South African Airways to and from Durban, and on my trip I got to experience two different routes, two different planes and three SAA airport lounges. Throughout those long days of travel, SAA was incredibly accommodating and hospitable, with high standards that definitely make an upgrade worth the expense.

Flying SAA from Dulles to Johannesburg. My international flight to South Africa departed from Washington, D.C., and the journey was about 16 hours in length. On this route, we flew in a newer-model plane with massage seats that reclined completely flat (making it easy to combat jet lag ahead of time by getting a great night's sleep in-flight). Entertainment options were wonderful: We had access to a huge variety of new-release movies as well as older classics and international films on personal monitors. Business-class flyers also receive dopp kits with eye masks, earplugs, and lotion and lip balm, which are so welcomed when the air gets dry during the long flight.

The in-flight menus for dinner and breakfast are More...

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Jun 16 2015

10 tips for families visiting Disney

Category: Megan Leader @ 10:41

We all love an authentic travel experience that immerses us in another culture, but sometimes you just need to put on mouse ears and watch fireworks over Cinderella's Castle while enjoying a Dole Whip. During spring break my senior year of college, instead of jetting off to the beaches of Mexico or the cobblestone streets of Europe, I visited one of my best pals who was working as a cast member at Walt Disney World in Florida. Even at 22, I was completely captivated by the magic and lightheartedness of a Disney theme park.

If Disney magic is your (spinning) cup of tea, here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your experience in Disney's theme parks or on a Disney cruise:

1. This is our top tip for every traveler, so it almost goes without saying, but we're going to say it anyway: More...

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Jun 11 2015

5 alternative destinations in Florida

Category: Destinations | ListsKaren @ 05:30

The state of Florida is a vacationer's paradise. I'd be willing to bet there isn't a square inch of undiscovered land – especially beach – anywhere in the state. Yet, it's still possible to find areas that aren't quite so besieged by tourists as the theme parks and big cities. If you want to take advantage of the Sunshine State's, well, sunshine, but would just as soon skip the madding crowds, consider booking some time in one of these places instead.

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Jun 9 2015

Asheville, NC: Seeing the City the Way Locals Do

Asheville, NC has long been associated with tourism: the area that was once chock full of sanitariums for the recovery of the rich and famous (like Zelda Fitzgerald) is now the playground of well-to-do New Yorkers and Californians searching out an artistic, bohemian vibe in a small mountain city. Exploring downtown Asheville is a must, and it's great fun to have a drink at the Grove Park Inn and take in the spectacular view from the terrace, but we suggest stepping outside of the mainstays of touristdom and see the city a little more like a local. There's great beer, food, music and nature to be found in Asheville: here are our top picks.

              

 The building that houses The Wedge is right across the street from the French Broad River. Photo courtesy of AshevilleNow.com.

The Wedge Brewing Company. The Wedge is a cultural institution of Asheville in more ways than one: It is on its own a fantastic brewery, well worth the trip considering its brews can be found nowhere else; it serves as the anchor for the building it occupies, which is filled with artists' studios and sits right on the French Broad River; and, it almost always has some delicious food trucks out front and in summer it shows movies outside. Maybe the best part of the location? Right across the street is an access point for the French Broad, which is a great place for tubing. We recommend hopping in the river there (there are several tube rental spots nearby, or you can bring your own) and floating down for a mile or two until you reach an exit point at the Bywater, an outdoor bar with local beers on tap and plenty of grills open to the public (bring your own food, and feel free to bring the kids—the bar sits on a whole acre of land).

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Jun 9 2015

travel42 Best Of: Top 10 lodges for nature-lovers

Category: Best Of | HotelsMegan Leader @ 10:00

There's something about summer that draws us to connect with nature. We think some of the best summer vacations allow travelers to connect with their surroundings while still enjoying a little bit of luxury (or in some cases, a lot of luxury).

That's why we've compiled a list of our top 10 lodges for nature-lovers. From elephant sightings in South Africa to overnighting in the treetops of the Amazon and exploring the vast plains of Patagonia, these unique hotels give visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience while immersing them in the local landscape. We've given you a snapshot of our hotel reviews for each one, but be sure to click through for more information on each of these exquisite properties.

1. Longitude 131, Ayers Rock, Northern Territory, Australia. If you want to experience the Australian Outback More...

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Jun 1 2015

Six new hotels in Israel

Category: Destinations | HotelsKaren @ 03:59

At any given time, travel42 has dozens of professional writers hard at work all over the world. One of those rockstars just got back from Israel, and she added a dozen new hotel reviews to our database, ranging from historic renovations to boutique-hotels to sleek, modern high-rises. Here are some of our favorites.

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May 29 2015

Blackadore Caye, Belize: Restorative on Two Fronts?

Category: Anna Goodman @ 08:28

No man is an island, but a rich man can buy one, and not necessarily to isolate himself. He might do it, as the poem says, because he is involved in mankind. Leonardo DiCaprio says the intent of his offshore acquisition is "to do something that will change the world…that is groundbreaking in the environmental movement." In 2018 his island will open as Blackadore Caye, A Restorative Island. While it's clearly riding the surging wave of ecotourism, it also aims to make a splash in the booming wellness tourism industry, which reached a staggering $494 billion in 2013.

The Gatsby star purchased 104 acres of unpopulated land off the coast of Belize in partnership with the owner of Cayo Espanto, another private island resort, where nightly rates start around US$1,500. Claiming to be the world's first truly restorative island development, Blackadore Caye seeks not only to preserve the natural environment, but also to help it heal from centuries of overfishing, deforestation and erosion. Completely powered by renewable energy and designed to increase the health of the species on the island and the waters around it, the development will replant native flora and renew wildlife habitats under the guidance of a crack team of scientists, landscape architects and engineers.

This bold, creative effort is consistent with DiCaprio's real-life role as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Speaking in 2014 at the UN Conference on Climate Change, where many noticed for the first time that his look is going completely Orson Welles, DiCaprio told world leaders, "The good news is that renewable energy is not only achievable but good economic policy." And such sustainable practices can also be good business in the tourism industry – as long as the luxury-eco trend holds. And that's where it gets interesting.

While "restorative island" refers to regenerating the natural environment, the name also suggests that the island will restore health to guests who vacation there. To bear that out, wellness guru Deepak Chopra is on board to program a full slate of services and amenities that focus on health and anti-aging. The connection is simple: If science and smart design can help this little island withstand the perils of climate change, certainly it can help guests' bodies fight the ravages of time.

There will be 68 guest villas built atop an artificial reef that will stretch out in an arc over the water, providing shelter for fish and coral and easy conversation with the pilot for anyone flying over in a small plane. Green points are earned by the fact that the platform will harness the breeze in such a way that it keeps the villas cool, rendering conventional air-conditioning unnecessary. You might think that the natural breeze through an open window in a house built on the water would be cooling enough. If so, you'll have to let go of that assumption and trust the idea that smart design can somehow improve on even the most straightforward processes. It becomes necessary in buildings that are anything but simple.

The developer of the project, Paul Scialla, is a former Goldman Sachs partner who founded Delos, the New York-based company that coined (and trademarked) the term Wellness Real Estate. Delos also devised its own LEED-like certification, the WELL Building Standard. Chopra and DiCaprio both sit on the board of Delos and own condos in its first WELL-certified residential building, which also happens to be on an island—Manhattan, at 66 East 11th Street. The 140 acres of Blackadore Caye were purchased for $1.75 million, which is roughly the market value of an Escalade-sized parking spot under that building.

While the WELL standard is designed to work harmoniously with the LEED Green Building Rating System, and Delos encourages WELL projects to also address environmental sustainability, it places human health and wellness squarely at the center of design, construction, technology and programming decisions. (Assuming the business model is sound, "human" here would mean not just any humans, but paying customers). Delos says that its residences introduce over 75 wellness amenities and innovations and address 23 health pathways to improve the quality of air, water, light, nutrition and sleep. The most notable result so far has been $15 million lofts, which provide vitamin C-infused showers, posture-supportive flooring, and air far cleaner than any you'd breathe at an Alpine chalet. In other words, the most meticulously controlled living environment money can buy.

When the built environment is geared entirely toward the needs of the few individuals inside the building, one has to ask about its impact on people, resources and the environment outside the building. Can any development honestly be all about the planet when the amenities it offers are "all about me"?

It remains to be seen how these apparently contradictory priorities will cohabitate on a windswept island. How closely do you think the developer will be able to approach the environmentally exacting standards set by its residences in Manhattan? Please let us know your thoughts.

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May 29 2015

The perks of a long-weekend staycation

Category: General | On The SceneMegan Leader @ 07:59

Generally I don't use trendy mashup words like "staycation," but for this delightful concept, I'll make an exception.

Staycations are the best, and they're the perfect answer to all the reasons why you can't pick up and take a trip to Europe right now: Money, time and logistics are minimal concerns. Although North Carolina is no Tuscany, there are still plenty of ways to have a great time and get away from your daily routine, which is what vacation is all about. 

The N.C. State Farmers Market in Raleigh, NC

Here's why you should consider a staycation this weekend (or any weekend): More...

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May 26 2015

Don't "Beijing to Xi'an" without Pingyao!

Category: Destinationstravel42 editorial team @ 05:59

This guest post comes from Tom Cintorino, Northstar Travel Media's Executive Vice President, Digital Media, and Managing Director, China and Southeast Asia. Tom has spent more than a year living in China and managing the relaunch of Northstar's Travel Weekly China and Travel Weekly Asia brands. For more about Tom and his work with Northstar, see his bio on Northstar's Leadership page

Like a cultural buffet, foreign tourists packaged to China are too often fed their experience from a cookie-cutter menu.

From Bejing's Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and Summer Palace, tourists are airlifted or shot on a bullet train to Xi'an, where they see the Terracotta Warriors and perhaps a made-for-tourists stage show about the Song dynastic period. But there is so much—perhaps the heartiest helping—in the in-between cities in China. The culturally important venues left for the domestic tourist give us both a glimpse back in time and an experience in the present.

Pingyao is one of these cities. It's a domestic traveler's weekend getaway that made its mark in history by having the very first bank in China. It is a small, well-preserved, walled city with shops and eateries threaded between ticket-required access to the courthouse, Confucius temple, and of course, the first bank.

The streets of Pingyao, China, at night

 

I don't recall where I first heard about Pingyao, and it didn't matter. One impulsive blue-sky Friday afternoon, I booked a hotel, packed my bag, and took off for Beijing's South Station. More...

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