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Luxury and History: Two Historic Seaside Hotels

Oceanfront hotels are a dime a dozen along the East Coast seaboard, but it’s a real treat to find two that have survived decades and still exist as stunning destinations. Their unique stories are woven into a tapestry of Southern charm and hospitality. I recently had the opportunity to visit the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort located on St. Simons Island, GA, and The Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville, FL. Both have fascinating histories and offer unique oceanfront experiences. The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort This legendary hotel, a member of the National Register of Historic Places and a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America, is located on one of the barrier islands that make up Georgia’s coast. It first opened in 1935 as a seaside dance club. Six years later, the main hotel building opened to the public as the King and Prince Hotel. During World War II, the hotel served as a naval coast-watching and training facility. The center of radar operations was housed at the King and Prince, which also provided officers’ quarters and classrooms. The bar at the hotel was an after-hours gathering spot for soldiers, their wives and members of the local Civil Air Patrol. The hotel’s current restaurant “Echo” pays tribute to the hotel’s crucial part in the island’s naval history. As radar sent its electromagnetic waves...

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Spectacular San Diego Spas

The Ocean Crest Spa in Carlsbad Driving up to the coastal inspired three-story Cape Rey Carlsbad, you can see the 215-room hotel is directly across the street from the legendary Ponto surf break and Pacific Ocean. This elegant property attracts families, girls getaways, weddings and surfers. The Ocean Crest Spa offers 5,700 sq. ft of serene spa experiences, including a spacious couples suite with a tub and private outdoor relaxation area. There are separate men’s and women’s locker rooms. Across from the spa is a 24-hour fitness center with views of the pool and ocean. The spa decor features...

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Royal Blues Hotel: An Elegant Oceanside Enclave

Just south of Palm Beach, along Florida’s eastern coast, lies scenic Deerfield Beach, a city well known for its pristine and clean coastline and the recreational water activities delighting both residents and tourists.  Here, world-class boating, fishing, diving, boarding and more are all within close range. Other nearby attractions include golf courses, polo clubs and the famous Quiet Waters Park—the 430-acre R&R zone that’s home to many campgrounds, skate parks, the “Splash Adventure” attraction and the longest cable ski course in the nation. Even as it continues to grow in popularity, Deerfield Beach is a small community, one that...

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Anatomy of a Grand Weekend Getaway at Boulders Resort and Spa Arizona

Amid my hectic work schedule and family life where there’s nary a moment to spare, let alone full weeks (or more) to take extended trips, I’ve become a master of the “micro-vacations”—those long weekend getaways that strike just the right balance of relaxation, adventure and indulgence to satisfy my wanderlust. A recent micro-jaunt took me to Phoenix, Arizona, America’s sixth-largest city, where cowboys continue to roam and the red rock-laden topography is peppered with the kind of cactus some only see in cartoons. The city’s enduring Southwestern backdrop is not only a draw for me, but also for 16...

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The Ambrose Hotel Santa Monica Mastering Boutique Hospitality

There’s just something about a boutique hotel. Maybe it’s the quaint locales or the stylish upscale accommodations. Perhaps it’s the extraordinarily personalized level of service or the charming and unexpected touches that make it abundantly clear you’re not at a cookie-cutter chain operation.  It’s these things and more that draw me to boutique properties time and time again, especially when I’m in a baroque beach town like Santa Monica—Los Angeles’ beachfront haven of fun and fabulosity. Well known for serving as the backdrop for hundreds of movies and a hub for all sorts of creative media companies that are...

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Redesign of London’s Athenaeum Hotel Unveiled

London has no shortage of luxury hotels, but when a classic five-star property, and one of my favorites in the city, gets ready to unveil a whole new look, it’s big news. The Athenaeum, perfectly located on Piccadilly across from Green Park in Mayfair, debuts its redesign in late June. The new look is evident in all of the public spaces of the hotel. The hotel’s ground floor, façade and entrances are being transformed with large, double-height floor-to-ceiling windows that will fully take advantage of the hotel’s enviable and pretty location. Kinnersley Kent Design, one of Britain’s most prestigious...

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The Bangala, Chettinad: Heritage Haven in Historic Tamil Nadu!

Featured several times in the New York Times, the hotel occupying a house that turns 100 this year has redefined ABC. In Chettinad “A” stands for Achchi or the grand-dame Mrs. Meenakshi Meiyappan who owns The Bangala, which “B” designates, whilst “C” can only signify the celebrated Chettinadu cuisine The Bangala upholds with unmitigated zeal. Achchi (meaning grandma) which Mrs. Meiyappan is unexceptionally called, runs the hotel as an extension of her home, which means you sometimes concede the professionalism of a hotel to the charming idiosyncrasies of local staff (who seem to have been around as long as...

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Perfection at the Adler Thermae Resort

There’s a famous quote that says, “Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.” I tend to agree. I found it hard to resist the emotional pull of the wondrous Duomo in Florence, Rome’s ancient Coliseum or the colorful row of houses on the tiny island of Burano. Italy’s towering mountains, sunny landscapes and rustic charms accompanied by fabulous food and wine and Italian hospitality make it one of the finest travel destinations anywhere. The abundance of Renaissance art alone made my head spin. I found myself mesmerized by my surroundings,...

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Hamanasi is Belize’s Luxury Eco-Friendly Resort

Charles Darwin described Belize in his 1842 book,  Coral Reefs of the World, as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies.” Belize borders Guatemala, Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. When two American divers and nature enthusiasts traveled to Belize in 2000, they fell in love with the beauty of the beach town, Hopkins. They enjoyed meeting the people in this English-speaking nation. Belize is a melting pot of Creoles, Mayas, Mestizos, East Indians, Chinese, Mennonites, North Americans, Europeans and Central Americans. With over 1,000 different live species, there are 500 types of fish and 100 different varieties of coral....

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Discovering Nevis, Loving The Four Seasons Resort–and Finding Alexander Hamilton

The flight from New York was long but the arrival at the St. Kitts airport was painless. No crowds, no fuss. As soon as I disembarked from the plane, I was transferred to the luxurious and private YU lounge, where I received a cold drink from an open bar and a warm welcome. I sank into a comfy couch while I awaited my luggage and while immigration and all the arrival protocols could be done. (The cost for this experience is $300 round-trip.) My bags were carried to a waiting ferry, where I was again treated to cold drinks...

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Casa Velas: A Boutique Treasure in Puerto Vallarta

When a friend and I were invited to experience Casa Velas, we were expecting just another nice Puerto Vallarta hotel. We had both visited the area numerous times, but were unfamiliar with this 80-suite boutique hotel. Upon our arrival we were escorted to comfortable sofas and offered a refreshing glass of a cold herbal tea and fruit mixture and shoulder massage to relax us after our flight. Attractive woven bracelets were placed on our wrists, so hotel staff would know we were guests. After we enjoyed our warm welcome, we were escorted to our lovely suites, each of which...

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Luxury Gets Au Naturel in Mexico at Hidden Beach Resort

Looking to take a walk on the wild side? If you are looking for something risque and adventurous mixed with ocean side luxury, look no further than the Mexican Riviera at Hidden Beach Resort. Located just one hour from Cancun is the secret, tucked-away oasis of Hidden Beach Resort. At the private gated entryway, two stone frog statues greet you as a fitting symbol of cleansing, renewal and transformation. Continue through the massive solid wood doors and on the other side is a real-life, modern-day Garden of Eden. The reception area looks like that of any other upscale resort hotel. The...

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