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Category: Travel

Intercontinental Amstel Amsterdam Fit for Royalty

by Janice Nieder I recently received a stellar invite to join a small group on the  christening river cruise of the Avalon Expression. We’d begin in Frankfurt and end in Amsterdam and jackpot, I could bring along a plus one. I immediately thought of my BFF, Joan, a single working mother, who, although she had purchased a passport about 10 years ago,  never had the chance to use it.  I decided her  pristine passport also needed christening. A quick phone call later and the plan was set. After the cruise we would stay at the Intercontinental Amstel Amsterdam Hotel ...

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Avalon Gets My Vote for Queen of the River Cruise

Just between us I feel it’s only fair to let you know that when I first received my invitation to join a group of journalists for the christening of the Avalon Expression I was a little hesitant, since I’ve never been a big fan of ocean cruises…actually, it’s fair to say I pretty much detest everything about them.  But since every trade magazine I’ve read lately has been about the explosive growth in the river-cruise market I decided to take one for the team and give it a try.  Fast forward to one week after my return and I...

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Saint-Tropez’s Fairytale Castle: Chateau de la Messardiere

Saint-Tropez, or “St. Trop” as it is often called by those who frequent southern France’s playground, started off quite humbly as a port city and fishing village. By the early part of the last century, Bohemian artists from Paris made it their summer playground and soon jet setters from around the world flocked to this Mediterranean gem. Made famous by Brigitte Bardot, Saint-Tropez has become the ultimate summer playground. One of the best places to call home while visiting the charming town on the French Riviera is Château de la Messardière. Perched on a hillside overlooking not only the...

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The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa—A Historical Icon Flourishing with Time

by Norman Hill This venerable gem of Arizona hotel establishments is getting stronger than ever. As a child growing up in the Chicago area, I studied two hotels that possessed quite a mystical, ultra luxurious quality, even though it would be years before I visited them: The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island in upper Michigan and the Arizona (Wrigley’s) Biltmore in Phoenix. The Biltmore was built in the late 1920s, starting from the insight of two visionaries, Charles and Warren McArthur. They saw that Arizona, the last state to join the Union, was ready to transform itself from a Wild...

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Move Over Boys, There’s a New Kid on the Block: The Oberoi, Dubai

The newest Oberoi, Dubai With approximately 600 hotels vying for your attention in Dubai, just about the last thing they need is a new hotel…unless, of course, it belongs to The Oberoi Group, synonymous with the finest level of contemporary luxury and service. Oberoi’s first property in the UAE, The Oberoi Dubai, which opened last month, is all about height, light and space. The 252 spacious rooms and suites boast floor-to-ceiling windows, with spectacular views of the city skyline. Just part of the Presidential Suite Timber floors, rich fabrics, hand-tufted rugs and specially commissioned artwork further accentuate the elegance...

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Cruising with French Master Chef Hervé Laurent on Seabourn

by Chef Hervé Laurent In the past, I’ve been privileged to be the celebrity chef on different cruise lines. When Seabourn invited me to cruise with them as Guest Celebrity Chef to Venice and the Adriatic Sea, I was delighted. Seabourn is owned by Carnival, the largest cruise line company in the world, yet is able to keep its own identity and market. It is a small ship, a “luxury yacht,” with a maximum of 200 guests. This results is better service and finer food. My culinary event included a cooking demonstration with degustation, wine and cheese tasting and, most...

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Raffles: Where Extraordinary Luxury Is Expected

by Maralyn D. Hill Raffles in Singapore had been on my dream list for years, based on movies and books. On my first visit to Singapore in 1989, my hopes were dashed, as it was closed for renovations. But all was forgiven when I returned in 2001  to enjoy its classic charm, attention to detail, wonderful history and naturally, a Singapore Sling. During our initial Singapore visit, not at Raffles, my husband and I spoke with the grandson of the bartender who allegedly invented the classic Singapore Sling. He proudly made our drinks (they were good) and later we...

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Stylish Stay in Exciting Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh could be the sister wife of my hometown, San Francisco. It’s compact, imminently walkable, vertically challenged (like Rome and S.F., Edinburgh is built on seven hills) and packed with tourist attractions, ergo packed with tourists.  It is neatly divided into two camps. Old Town is all about historic sights, lively pubs, tourist shops, atmospheric spires, gargoyles, and medieval cobbled streets crisscrossed with hidden wynds and closes (little alleys that offer marvelous secret walks).  New Town, considered a masterpiece of city planning, which retains much of its original Georgian period architecture, is lined with fabulous shops, eateries and communal...

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Wondrous Walking Tour of England’s Lake District

Grasmere, Coniston, Windermere…if they were three high school girls running for prettiest prom queen, it would be tough call as to who would win. And these were just a few of the many idyllic Lake District villages we visited. William Wordsworth portrays his beloved homeland as: “Majesty, and beauty and repose, A blended holiness of earth and sky.” Letting some of my new walking buds join me;-) The problem with this area is that it’s all so breathtakingly gorgeous, so undeniably natural, so unique with its constantly changing terrain, that you really need to spend at least a week...

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The Bell Tolls For Thee

by Graeme Kemlo Between 3 am and 4 am at dozens of temples across South Korea, weary Westerners rise to greet the pre-dawn at the tolling of the Beomjong (temple bell). They have chosen the ultimate cultural immersion on offer to foreign visitors, to live the life of a Korean Buddhist monk for a day, or two, or more.  Proving that luxury is really a state of mind, worldly possessions are put to one side, along with all cares. More than 1.9 million people, 1.35 million of them foreigners, have completed a Templestay program over the past decade, arriving...

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