Author: Lillian Africano

The Boulders: Laid Back Luxury in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun

Luxury at The Boulders is offered in a calming, relaxing atmosphere that is very different from the formality often found at multi-starred urban properties – and that is why it is one of my favorite places. A writers conference provided the perfect reason  to travel to Carefree (how appropriate this name is for a place that entices you to leave cares behind!), about 25 miles north of Scottsdale. Named for the 12-million-year-old granite boulders that dominate the landscape, the Boulders sprawls along 1,300 acres of Sonoran desert, its 160 casitas, 55 villas and six haciendas, all at one with...

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Sree Sreenivasan: America’s Tech Guru

When Sree Sreenivasan (@sree) was appointed Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013, that was the latest step in what he calls “a three-decade, one-way love affair with one of the world’s great museums.” Since his appointment, a lot has happened at the Met, reflecting Sree’s expertise in all things digital, especially social media. In April 2014, the Met’s Instagram account was selected as the Webby Award Winner in the Social Arts & Culture category in the 18th annual awards program. (The Webby, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, is the...

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Debbie Stone Travel Writer and Columnist

This month we are featuring Debbie Stone, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications, ranging from newspapers and magazines to travel-related websites. Additionally, she has served as a travel specialist for the NPR-affiliated, talk radio show, “2 Boomer Babes,” as well as for local T.V. stations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also writes a monthly travel column for Luxe Beat Magazine called Put a Pin in it! Debbie came to travel writing after working in a number of different careers: as a play and dance therapist, an ESL teacher (both in the U.S. and abroad), an airline sales and...

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Fall Spa Week: Buy a Luxurious Spa Getaway for $50

During Fall Spa Week — October 12-18 — hundreds of spas nationwide will offer $50 treatments valued between $100 and $500. Visit the website, and after you give your state or a zip code, you’ll see a list of participating spas and the treatments offered. Most of the participants will be day spas. But why settle for a bargain facial or massage when could get much more? Look for a a resort or hotel spa, for these are likely to have full-service spas. If you find one within easy reach, you can have a real getaway with a steam...

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A Cruise Vacation can be a Healthy Vacation

Yes, that’s right: A cruise vacation can be a healthy vacation. Sure, a generation or so ago, a cruise vacation was often an excuse to drink too much and overeat, not only during breakfast, lunch and dinner — but also at the legendary midnight buffets. Today’s health-conscious traveler will find it easy to eat well (and deliciously) on a cruise and drink fine wines, without overindulging. Exercise options onboard can be fun and there is enough to do so there is little risk of eating out of boredom. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) recently listed the following 12 reasons why taking...

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CityPASS: Luxury Two Ways

Everyone loves a bargain. CityPASS is a genuine bargain, a book of admission tickets to major tourist attractions with savings of up to 50% compared to the combined regular box office prices. But even better: CityPASS ticket holders have the luxury of saving time and the convenience by  skipping ticket lines (no matter how long they are) and heading straight for the entrance of whatever attraction they’re visiting. Some years ago, I became a hero to my family when we used my New York CityPASS booklets to visit the American Museum of Natural history during a school holiday period....

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EUROPA 2: Luxury My Way

While there is no shortage of luxurious ships sailing the oceans of the world, they are not all the same. What they may have in common are spacious and comfortable staterooms with verandas or balconies and full bathrooms; high-end amenities; excellent food; fine spas and fitness centers and exceptional service. Where they differ? Personality. And that can be the difference that elevates luxury to its highest level. Many passengers love the luxury ships that have a very formal personality, reflected by Captain’s receptions, fixed meal times and assigned tables, formal cocktail parties and similar events. My wish list doesn’t...

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The American Queen: Ruling America’s Rivers

Riverboats have been part of American history since the 19th century, when they carried both cargo and passengers along the country’s great rivers: the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Columbia and Sacramento. As depicted in the 1951 movie Showboat, they even brought entertainment and gambling to towns along the Mississippi. As with every “Golden Age”, that of the riverboats came to an end, thanks to competition from the railroads, commercial barges, the rise of the automobile – and finally, WWI and the Great Depression. Reviving that great tradition: The American Queen. She was born in 1995, the biggest river steamboat...

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Gone with the Wind: Happy 75th Anniversary

Seventy-five years ago, over a million people traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, in anticipation of the gala premiere (on December 15, 1939) of Gone with the Wind. Three days of celebration included a costume ball, receptions, a parade of limousines carrying stars from the film – and thousands of confederate flags. Gone with the Wind went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters of all times. While some movies have casual fans who watch a film once, then move on to the next new thing, GWTW still has legions of fans who are loyal for a lifetime and are...

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The Rocky Mountaineer: A Train to the Sublime

Sometimes a train trip is more than transportation from Point A to Point B. My journey from Banff to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer’s westbound route was be a sublime 594-mile traverse – all in daylight – across Canada’s majestic Rocky Mountains. Prior to the train adventure, I stayed, as many passengers do, at the baronial Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, known as “The Castle in the Rockies.” The hotel was built in a spectacular Rocky Mountain setting between the spring of 1887 and the spring of 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Over the years, it has been expanded,...

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The Glory That is Greece: From Athens to Mykonos to Santorini

I actually won something wonderful! While years’ of contests and drawings had previously yielded only junky little things, this time the prize was something that was high on my bucket list! A trip for two to Athens and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. The package, provided by Trafalgar Tours, was called the Greek Island Hopper and included several days in Athens, three days in Mykonos and three days in Santorini. Perfect. Best of all it included transfers, baggage handling and all the annoying details that detract from the pleasures of travel. After the usual red-eye flights, my daughter...

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New Zealand: Wellington and Beyond

  While I can’t prove this statistically, I’ve read that a trip to New Zealand is high on many bucket lists. And so it should be. First you have its capital city, Wellington, which Lonely Planet called the coolest little capital in the world. And so it is. Located on the southernmost part of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington is a cultural hub with impressive museums, a lively music scene and, according to some estimates, more cafes and bars and restaurants per capita than New York City, the place where I lived most of my adult life. Yet during...

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