5 high end restaurants you need to visit on your next trip to Miami


Between the beautiful beaches, subtropical weather, bright sunny days, thriving nightlife, and well-known Cuban food, it’s hard to pass up any opportunity to visit the wonderful city of Miami. Miami has been described as the “Capital of Latin America” and if you have ever been, you can see why. Miami has a heavy Cuban and Latin population and is dominated by South American cuisine. The city is divided into five sections, with South Beach or SoBe, being #1 with tourists because of the world class hotels, and restaurants, spectacular beach, and excellent nightlife. The other four sections include: Coral Cables to the West, Coconut Grove to the South, North Miami Beach to the North and Downtown Miami, which is the region’s central business district. The following five restaurants are located in downtown Miami,  also known as the Financial District (a twenty-minute drive from Ocean Drive in South Beach). The area is very upscale, and filled with gorgeous high-rise residential buildings and high-end hotels, lots of fine dining options, and a funky art district, also known as Wynwood. It is a 20-25 minute drive from Miami International Airport and a 45 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale airport.

Bazaar Mar 

The James Beard award winning restauranteur, author, chef and now humanitarian, José Andrés, opened his second location in Miami in 2016, and it is truly spectacular. Bazaar Mar is located inside the luxurious SLS Brickell, and focuses on upscale sustainably sourced seafood. Each dish is designed so meticulously, beautifully, and creatively, you will find yourself wanting to upload every plate on Instagram almost immediately. The interior of the restaurant is designed to make you feel like you’re in an ocean themed fairytale, with images depicting the adventures of the Roman god Neptune drawn in navy blue on white tiled walls. Along the walls are giant sculptures of fish heads with horns that seem to gaze at you while you are dining in the main room. It is definitely a one of a kind experience!

Dishes are presented in a manner that evoke the sea and are created in such a way that you make your jaw drop. A few ‘must have’ dishes include, the California ‘funnel cake’, which is Andrés take on a California roll. The ‘cake’ sits on a white sheet of paper on top of an upside-down octopus. Ingredients include, crispy seafood, chopped cucumber, Maryland blue crab, spicy mayo and flying fish roe. Another best seller of the restaurant is Neptune’s Pillow, which is comprised of air bread stuffed with spicy tuna and topped with tuna sashimi that’s dressed with a dash of soy, lemon zest and wasabi. As a side dish, the Japanese peaches are unique and highly recommended. The dish comes with small peaches, burrata, hazelnut praline, croutons, and nuts. One spoonful of the sweet, salty, creamy flavor combination and you’re completely swept off your feet. If dessert tickles you fancy, be sure to check out the key lime pie. It’s a key lime ‘mousse’ with graham cracker on top that’s shaped like a sandcastle, with a dash of foam on the side. In addition to the imaginative and uniquely crafted dishes, the restaurant attracts beautiful, classy, well dressed patrons, as well as gorgeous staff members. It’s certainly an experience you will not forget.

Zuma

Zuma, one of two Miami restaurants at the Kimpton Epic Hotel (and already a staple in the London restaurant scene), was founded by chef Rainer Becker, who was inspired by informal Izakaya-style Japanese dining. In that style of dining, dishes are brought to the table steadily and continuously throughout the meal. The restaurant, which is already renowned in cities around the world, has been a staple in the Miami food scene for eight years. The restaurant has an upscale, classy, and sexy vibe to it, and the clientele is as sexy and beautiful as the modern setting. Inside the restaurant is a lavish bar and small lounge area surrounded by wall to ceiling rows upon rows of high end wine. The bar area opens to a cozy, contemporary dining room with ornate windows on one side of the restaurant showcasing and gorgeous views of the Miami river. An open kitchen is found on the other side of the restaurant. If you have the opportunity to sit outside, you’ll find yourself right next to one of the 80” yachts parked outside. If arriving in true fashion is your style, yacht docking is available, and Zuma is one of the only restaurants in Miami with boat accessibility.

In addition to the beautiful ambiance, the food is fantastic, the sushi is high quality, and the cocktails are superb. Zuma does a fantastic business lunch, as well as a lavish tasting menu, and an extravagant brunch with unlimited champagne, a robata counter and sushi bar. Signature Zuma dishes include Spicy Beef Tenderloin (with sesame, red chili and sweet soy); Yellowtail Sashimi (with Yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe); Kurobuta Pork Belly Skewers (with Yuzu mustard miso); Black Cod (marinated in saikyo miso homemade hajikame); King Crab (with Ponzu lime butter) and Arjun Negi Toro Roll (with otoro and finely diced scallion), to name a few. Although the prices are on the higher end, it’s worth the splurge!

Area 31

Area 31, by Executive Chef, Wolfgang Birk, is also located in the luxurious and swanky, Kimpton Epic Hotel in downtown Miami. While Zuma is located on the ground floor, Area 31 is located on the 16th floor and has spectacular panoramic views of the Biscayne Bay and Miami River. There are also views of the upscale residential buildings across the river. While the panoramic views offer quite the wow factor, it’s the food that makes this space memorable. The chef prides himself on sourcing ingredients from local vendors to create fresh and innovative plates. Some favorite dishes include: the tuna poke tacos, the Faroe Island Salmon, the swordfish, and the crispy pork belly.

The restaurant is perfect for multiple occasions, from date night to happy hour with coworkers. It offers an upscale indoor bar and restaurant, as well as a rooftop bar area with two pools, A top-notch craft cocktail bar complete with bar and couch seating is replete with a live DJ on weekends, and outdoor dining for the restaurant. While the outside bar area often attracts an upscale, fun loving crowd, the inside area has a nice, modern, romantic vibe.

La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental

La Mar by celebrity chef Gastón Acurio, features exceptional Peruvian, gastronomic dishes: ranging from upscale novo-Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion and traditional seafood ceviche. The space is contemporary, and trendy, while also being luxurious and upscale. Everything about this restaurant is incredible. Starting with the ambiance, which includes both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Biscayne Bay, to the professional, attentive, and knowledgeable staff. The menu is creatively designed, with dishes ranging from fresh ceviches, to articuchos (traditional Peruvian dishes prepared on the anticucho grill) to unique Asian-Peruvian fusion specialty dishes. The desserts, such as la piña, el coco y el manjar (coconut ice cream with pineapple chips, foam, and ginger jelly) are true gastronomic wonders, that incorporate flavors which are sweet, sour, and creamy. In addition to the gastronomic cuisine, La Mar offers a variety of amazing cocktails. These include the infamous Pisco Sours, which come in a variety of flavors, each one better than the last.

La Mar offers an express lunch for $25 deal, as well as a Chef’s Collection for dinner for $75 which includes an appetizer, entrée, and desert, and a $85 all you can eat and drink Sunday brunch buffet from 12pm to 3:30pm, in addition to a la carte options for lunch and dinner. There’s a reason Acurio continues to gain culinary acclaim with his unique restaurants that rank best in the world, whether you come for brunch, lunch or dinner, you won’t be disappointed.

Quinto La Huella

Quinto La Huella is the urban reinvention of Parador La Huella, in Uruguay, which currently holds the number 22 position on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015, sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. The restaurant, located as Brickell City Center’s upscale East Hotel on the fifth floor, offers a menu centered around their charcoal-grilled and wood-fired meat options, as well as a sushi counter. If you are lucky enough to have visited Uruguay before, you will know that its citizen grill masters who are very proud of their meat, and Quinto holds true to Uruguay’s culinary pursuit for hospitality, attention to detail, wonderful customer service and excellent cuisine.

The space itself is beautiful. Once the elevators open on the fifth floor, you enter a swanky room filled with rustic wooden furnishings, quirky artwork, and copper accents on the inside. In addition to the indoor seating, the restaurant also offers a cozy outdoor ‘garden like’ patio with sweeping views of the Miami skyline, as well as three bars and a lounge area. They offer a buffet or a la carte options for lunch and dinner. Favorite dishes here include grilled octopus, skirt steak, rib eye, and buttery nigiri. The welcome bread basket alone is delicious enough to write about. In addition to lunch and breakfast, La Quinto La Huella also offers a delicious Sunday brunch from 12pm to 4:30pm for $55 per person and unlimited Rose for $25. Since the restaurant is connected to the hotel, it’s worth taking a walk out to the pool area after your meal. There are hammocks outside, an outdoor bar, and lounge chairs surrounding a gorgeous outdoor pool.



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10 of the most exciting new luxury hotel openings of 2018


The luxury travel industry is booming, with surveys suggesting that travellers are keen to explore more and willing to pay a little extra when indulging on their travel experiences. This growing demand is reflected by a number of exciting new luxury hotel openings across the globe. Here are just 10 of the many to look out for.

January to March

Hotel X, Toronto, Canada

One of the most anticipated openings in Toronto for 2018 is Hotel X Toronto (by Library Hotel Collection), bringing a cutting edge mix of luxury, hospitality, sports and entertainment to downtown Toronto in March of 2018 – what will be one of North America’s largest urban resorts. Located just a stone’s throw away from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and very close to the amphitheater, the property will be the only hotel on the historic grounds of Exhibition Place, overlooking the Lake Ontario waterfront. With three towers, the hotel will have 404 rooms including 39 suites and 2 penthouses with amazing lake views. Guests can take advantage of all-day dining restaurant and 24-hour room service.

The new Hotel X Toronto is more than just a hotel. The resort will have innovative offerings encompassing entertainment, athletics and dining. For the culinary minded, guests can check out the high-end dining concept Petros 82, a two level Mediterranean restaurant with seasonal patio, a=t three story SkyBar and Lounge, and a beer garden. If you’d like to break a sweat, find yourself in the spinning studio, one of the rooftop pools, golf simulator or on the squash and tennis courts. Vsitors will also find stadium style movie theaters, and elegant ballrooms and event spaces for sophisticated celebrations of all kinds. For the families who travel together, the property also features a 3,000 square foot Play Centre for children with trained babysitters for kids of all ages.The property is surrounded by Stanley Square with lush gardens and fountains to walk through or catch live outdoor events. Just down the road is the brand new outdoor community project, The Bentway, filled with amazing markets, chidlren’s programing and beautiful art projects as well as featuring an ice skating trail in the winter and an amphitheater to be completed this spring.

Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, USA

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians broke ground on the tribe’s $300 million expansion in December 2015. The slightly longer than two-year project will be completed in March 2018, when the Pechanga tribe, elected officials, dignitaries, celebrities, and Pechanga Resort & Casino team members will celebrate the grand opening of this major milestone. The newly expanded property will make Pechanga the largest resort/casino property on the West Coast. It is comparable to Las Vegas’ style and experience, minus the hustle, bustle and crowds and expensive resort fees of the Strip. Pechanga Resort & Casino’s expansion includes a new, AAA Four Diamond, 568-room and suite hotel wing; a stand-alone luxury two-story spa and salon with 17 treatment rooms, a fitness center and hydrotherapy pool terrace; a 4.5-acre resort-style pool complex; two new restaurants; and an additional 67,000 square feet of event space. Economists from Beacon Economics estimate Pechanga’s expansion created a more than $550 million economic benefit to the region. The respected economics firm said the area’s local economy has benefited from the creation of an additional 560 jobs per year as a result of the Temecula resort/casino’s expanded operations. Perhaps one of the most exciting new luxury amenities is the 25,000-square foot day spa, which is the largest in the Temecula Valley. At two stories, Spa Pechanga features two hydrotherapy pools, 17 treatment rooms, a full-service nail, hair and makeup salon, a full suite of barbering services, a menu serving fresh herbal teas and juices, a fitness center with group or private fitness/wellness classes and its very own yoga instructor/wellness coach.

Another new luxury amenity is the high-end retail shops. Pechanga now offers three retail shops and one Swarovski boutique. Two of the retail spaces are high-end women’s boutiques featuring name-brand apparel, handbags, fine jewelry, home décor, watches, and much more from such brands as Versace, Frank Lyman, Burberry, Prada, Michael Kors, Dooney & Bourke, Gucci, and Waterford Crystal. The 4.5-acre pool complex, named “The Cove,” is nearly the size of four football fields and will open to guests on March 5 during the official Grand Opening. The pool area consists of five pools and four whirlpool spas, one with a natural rock waterfall feature. The center pool encompasses 7,600 square feet and features a swim-up bar with underwater seating and a Baja ledge for chaises and daybeds that skim the water. Another large pool at 2,400 square feet features a family friendly setting with two twisty waterslides that splash guests into a beach-entry pool. Next to the pool, kids can run through sprinkling water at the splash pad. A third pool is a 1,200-square foot VIP pool. Two smaller pools (520 and 650 square feet) offer more spots for guests to soak. Thirty-two comfortable cabanas will be available through the entire pool and spa complex. Encompassed within The Cove is a large grassy field available as an outdoor concert venue, a beautiful space for outdoor parties, and more. Within the new pool lagoon area, Pechanga also will open an indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar serving a variety of appetizers, salads and choice sandwiches and burgers either in the restaurant or poolside. This will be Pechanga’s 13th property restaurant and its 20th restaurant or bar venue. After a trip to the spa, some boutique shopping and an afternoon at the pool with signature The Cove drinks featuring fresh fruit and locally grown ingredients, relax in one of Pechanga’s 1,090 rooms and suites. The expansion added an entirely new hotel wing, which doubled the size of the resort. While those rooms are brand new, the existing hotel wing has undergone an extensive renovation to its suites. Rooms are designed to be plush, contemporary, warm, and inviting. Along with those rooms and suites, Pechanga features luxurious spa suites and two palatial executive suites resembling Las Vegas’ presidential suites.

Sheldon Chalet, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA

The Sheldon Chalet is a true five star Alaskan wilderness experience. The longtime dream of Don and Roberta Sheldon, homesteaders who claimed the land in the mid-50s, this five bedroom property is nestled on five private acres within Denali National Park. Perfect for experiencing the northern lights, heli-skiing, snowshoeing and hosting feasts of the finest Alaskan seafood, this property is designed for ultimate seclusion. Perched 6,000 feet above the wilderness and overlooking some of the most dramatic vistas in the Alaska Range, it is only accessible by air from Anchorage or Talkeetna and is the only private land in the national park. JG Black Book will work with the property to increase travelers’ aspirations to explore the destination and ultimately raise the profile for the resort.

Located on five private acres, the Sheldon Chalet sleeps up to ten guests in five bedrooms featuring unique panoramas of the Alaska Range from every angle. The vision of Alaskan pioneers, Don and Roberta Sheldon, the Sheldon Chalet is a platform for the adventure of a lifetime and offers guests guides, gear, a chef and a concierge to experience this exclusive destination on the flanks of North America’s highest mountain. Robert Sheldon, his wife Marne and sister Kate have made the Sheldon family dream become a reality. Serving delicious Alaskan fare, Sheldon Chalet provides a crown-jewel Alaskan experience with activities including heli-picnics, guided glacier trekking, heli-skiing and aurora borealis viewing.

Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, Pacific City, Oregon, USA

After two decades of planning and more than a year of construction, Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City, Oregon, opened its doors to guests in January 2018. The lodge celebrates hospitality, Oregon-style, offering visitors luxury amenities against the backdrop of Oregon’s beautiful North Coast. It’s the first property of its kind to open on the Oregon Coast in over a decade. The main lodge comprises of 33 king and two-queen rooms, and there are 18 adjacent cottages. The guestrooms are oceanfront, and have views of the Pacific Ocean and iconic Haystack Rock, with private balconies to get even closer to the sand, surf and fresh ocean air. All rooms have pillow-top mattresses and include an HD flat-screen TV, mini fridge, Bonavita brewing system with freshly-ground coffee, Smith tea and kettle, Bluetooth lantern speaker, in-room safe, in-room iPad, gas fireplace and custom bike and surfboard racks. Select rooms have cast-iron soaking tubs. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily is Headlands’ restaurant and bar, Meridian. Customers can savor their food in the stylish oceanview dining room surrounded by exposed beams, Oregon hardwoods and sky-high windows. Meridian’s menu focuses on Northwest coastal cuisine, with ingredients sourced from the ocean, local purveyors and Headlands’ own Mary’s Herb Garden. A full vegan and vegetarian menu is also offered. An extensive wine list focuses on Oregon wines with featured selects from Washington and beyond. On tap are beers from Pelican Brewing Company, located just down the beach.

At Tidepools guests will find a full menu of spa treatments and an innovative indoor and outdoor wellness program. In the serene setting, guests can enjoy their treatments, steam room and an outdoor hot tub with ocean view and fireplace. The Tidepools wellness offerings include an airy fitness studio with free weights, treadmill, elliptical, Peloton bikes and Precor equipment. Complimentary exercise classes range from beach yoga to meditation to Pilates. Additionally, guests at Headlands can pursue unique outdoor adventures, organized through the Adventure Coach program. The on-staff Adventure Coaches are experts in everything North Coast. They are available to plan a personalized itinerary for any experience, from food, beer and wine to biking, hiking and crabbing, or any mix of activities a visitor could desire. At Headlands, visitors are invited to “Stay In” and immerse themselves in all the lodge has to offer, and “Head Out” to explore the rugged, breathtaking beauty of the Oregon Coast.

April to June

The Source Hotel, Denver, Colorado, USA

Anticipation is building for The Source Hotel, Denver. In January, The New York Times’ Elaine Glusac named the forthcoming 100-room property as one of the new hotels to check out in 2018. Opening in May, The Source Hotel, Denver takes the luxury boutique hotel experience to the next level. A key ingredient is location. You’ll find The Source Hotel in what is perhaps The Mile High City’s most exciting neighborhood – the River North Art District (RiNo, for short). This formerly industrial part of Denver is just moments from downtown, and in recent years has seen an explosion of activity, including art studios, restaurants, creative businesses and craft beverage makers. The hotel’s sister property, The Source opened in 2013 and quickly became a must-visit RiNo destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a carefully curated collection of artisans and retailers. The Source Hotel will complement the adjacent market hall, showcasing independent local vendors and artisans, who will give guests a taste of Denver’s vibrant creative community. The lobby check in experience will be home to craft beer pioneer New Belgium Brewing Co.’s first Denver small-batch brewery, which will feature a 10-barrel system that produces a constantly rotating tap list (with an emphasis on sour, wild and experimental beers) for the Woods bar and restaurant. As if that’s not enough for beer lovers, the local favorite Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is right next-door at The Source, and the beloved Great Divide Brewing Co. is across the street. Woods is located on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, upon which guests will enjoy spectacular city and mountain views (stretching from 14,000-foot Pikes Peak to the south to Long’s Peak to the north), as well as a cantilevered pool and hot tub. The hotel is the RiNo neighborhood’s only high-rise structure – so its rooftop offers a whole new perspective on the Denver skyline and the Front Range panorama.

The Source Hotel, Denver’s look – the work of Stephen Dynia of Dynia Architects – is a powerful blend of historic and forward-thinking design, paying tribute to RiNo’s rich past. Dynia’s design complements the existing Source’s galvanized metal and brick with concrete and light birch, offset by touches of the brand’s signature – vivid blue represented in the neon market hall sign, custom wallpaper, and subtle details that reveal themselves as guests become immersed in the property. The hotel’s industrial sensibility is offset by warmth, with added touches of wood and other natural elements. The Source Hotel, Denver and The Source are not simply adjacent – an oasis-like courtyard, with a bridge that takes guests seamlessly from the hotel to the marketplace, links them. Overlooking the courtyard is another restaurant option at The Source Hotel, Denver: Smök, the brick and mortar opening of cult favorite BBQ concept helmed by acclaimed chef Bill Espiricueta. Hailing from The Source’s celebrated Acorn Restaurant and a protégé of Executive Chef Steve Redzikowski (the only James Beard-nominated chef from Colorado in 2017). In its guestrooms, The Source Hotel, Denver brings the outdoors in. Floor-to-ceiling windows deliver copious natural light and rooms feature raise-able garage doors so guests can enjoy Denver’s fresh mountain air and private views of the hopping RiNo scene. Further solidifying the hotel’s essential connection to its thriving neighborhood, the city of Denver has invested more than $29 million in the installation of new bike lanes, native landscaping, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure on Brighton Boulevard, ensuring that eco-friendly human-powered transport in the area will flourish.

Monkey Island, Bray-on-Thames, Berkshire, UK

In May 2018, YTL Hotels’ newest UK property, Monkey Island Estate, will open in the historic village of Bray-on-Thames, Berkshire. The island has an intriguing history that dates back 800 years, and has been frequented by monarchs, aristocrats and artists, along with writers, famous performers and Berkshire locals. The restored Monkey Island Estate is set across seven acres and will consist of 27 bedrooms and three deluxe suites, all designed by the award-winning New York-based Champalimaud Design, who additionally worked on interior design projects for YTL Hotels’ first British property, The Gainsborough Bath Spa. The white bricked Pavilion and Temple buildings make up the main areas of the hotel, surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens and beautiful views of the River Thames.

Monkey Island has a unique history, with early 18th century fishing retreats built by the Duke of Marlborough and famous monkey artworks, and also having been immortalized through a great work of early 20th century literature. Monkey Island has provided British hospitality for the last 180 years. Monkey Island will be the perfect countryside retreat for visitors from London and all around the world, for weekend trips, weddings, romantic escapes and more. The hotel is ideal for those wanting to take a foodie pilgrimage to Bray, a destination for culinary-enthusiasts that is the only village in the world that lays claim to two three Michelin-starred restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and The Waterside Inn by Alain Roux.

Vista Palazzo Lago di Como, Italy

Family-owned Italian hotel brand Lario Hotels is readying their latest project in the center of Lake Como, Italy. Vista Palazzo Lago di Como, set to open this coming June 2018, will be the fourth luxury property for the group in and around the lakeside celebrity hotspot and the only five-star to be open all year round. The new project, born our of a restored centuries’ old Palazzo, will boast 18 individually designed luxury suites, including a unique 60+ sq m Corner Suite complete with a private Turkish bath. As the name implies, Vista will offer guests unparalleled views of the lake, especially from the rooftop restaurant, bar and lounge. Guests don’t just have to admire the view from a distance. The hotel offers guests transport to Bellaggio by either seaplane or by Riva speedboat.

For the unique design, Lario Hotels has called upon Italian designer Maurizio Maggi who places special attention on celebrating Italian excellence in design and decor. As such, Maggi has chosen to incorporate Dedar fabrics, prized marble and woods, and insists on only Italian craftsmanship throughout Situated in the heart of “downtown” Como, Vista is just a stone’s throw from the lakefront and Como’s top attractions.

July to September

Lanai Tower, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Marco Island, Florida, USA

The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, a luxurious Florida resort located along the sparkling Gulf of Mexico on three miles of private, pristine white sand beach, underwent a three-phase, $320 million renovation project to enhance and refine every aspect of the property. The first and second phases are complete and the third phase is poised to be completed when the Balinese-inspired resort opens the doors of its lavish 94-room adult-exclusive Lanai Tower. Designed by a Florida-based design and architecture firm, Edge of Architecture, Inc., the new Lanai Tower is the pinnacle of luxury on Marco Island, boasting gorgeous and unparalleled views of the Gulf of Mexico and establishing a harmonious relationship between the building and its tropical environment – an experiential symbiosis of interior and exterior spaces. The tower features an exclusive rooftop pool, a deluxe gourmet rooftop restaurant, and a 12,000 square foot indoor entertainment center. With the addition of this upscale Lanai Tower, the JW Marriott Marco Island resort now offers its guests 100,000 square feet of innovative and flexible event space – fully equipped with cutting edge technology – and 810 magnificently appointed rooms and suites.

Beyond the new adult-exclusive Lanai Tower, the property boasts a range of signature culinary offerings as well as one of only three SPA by JW concept spas in the United States. Located on the northern end of the resort, SPA by JW gives guests a relaxing and personal spa experience with a range of renewing, calming, invigorating and indulgent treatments designed by world-renowned experts. The Balinese-style spa, with its elegant yet laid back setting, features a mineral tub overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, salon services and a Spa Shop. The resort also provides premium outdoor activities, including a guided Wave Runner Tour through the Ten Thousand Islands, a Sailing and Shelling Tour to uninhabited islands, world-class golf at the Rookery and Hammock Bay championship courses, and more. After partaking of exciting outdoor activities and sumptuous spa treatments, resort guests are invited to lounge on the sand in a private chickee hut or unwind in one of the secluded poolside cabanas. In the evenings, enjoy stunning views of Floridian sunsets during the nightly fire-dancer sunset celebrations at Quinn’s on the Beach before strolling over to the trendy Kane Tiki Bar & Grill for a cocktail — Kane has one of Marco Island’s most extensive collections of rums. Those seeking an elegant dining experience should reserve a table at ARIO, the property’s signature restaurant, and try the in-house dry aged steaks and chops or the exquisite local seafood – all beautifully prepared by Gerald Sombright, Chef de Cuisine and Season 14 Top Chef contestant. ARIO even boasts its very own dry-aging room and invites guests to the back of the house for viewings, giving them the opportunity to learn about the dry-aging process and make their dining experience both delectable and immersive.

Vista Collina Resort, Napa, California, USA

Vista Collina Resort is nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Napa Valley and will usher in a new way to discover California’s most celebrated Wine Country. With the resort’s thoughtful, Tuscan-style décor, tasting Village, artisanal market, and a spacious community lawn for picnicking and private concerts, Vista Collina isn’t simply a resort in Napa. It is Napa at its finest. The 145 guestrooms and suites offer a tranquil escape with Frette linens and robes, natural stone bathrooms, Fresh bath amenities and easy connectivity to WiFi and streaming services. 39 one-bedroom suites provide an even more luxurious experience with spacious living rooms, full kitchens equipped with the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System, and dining areas. A separate king-bedded guestroom includes a private bathroom with deep soaking tub. The in-suite culinary experience in partnership with Hestan Cue allows guests to select the seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients they’d like, have it delivered to their door, then inside their suite, the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System will help to bring their ingredients—and Napa Valley experience—to life in a delicious meal. All guestrooms and suites feature beautiful views of vineyard lined hillsides, making memorable moments from sunrise to sunset. Additional guest amenities include a sparkling new pool with full bar service, both fitness and movement studios, 24-hour in-room dining and a welcome bottle of wine for every guestroom. The resort is located in the shadow of Napa’s Grape Crusher Statue and just one hour from San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento. Its convenient location provides easy access to explore both Sonoma and the Napa Valley.

Located onsite, The Village at Vista Collina Resort curates the best of Napa into a unique Wine Country experience. The centerpiece of the Village will be its nine tasting rooms featuring boutique wineries from the Napa Valley, creating a convenient way to taste wines without getting in their car between tastings. Beyond the tasting rooms, The Village includes Fivetown Grocery, a market with farm-fresh, seasonal and local items for guests to enjoy with their favorite wines, while picnicking or in the comfort of their suite. Fivetown Grocery features a variety of fresh-made pastries, gourmet coffees, sandwiches with preservative-free meat smoked onsite, artisanal breads, and packaged pastas and sauces, all made from scratch in small batches by acclaimed chef, Vincent Lesage. The Food & Wine Center is a professional cooking school offering cooking classes for up to 20 or baking and wine tasting classes for up to 40, all led by a member of the resort’s executive culinary team. Outside, the 16,000 square foot Village Lawn is the perfect location for an afternoon picnic, wines by the bottle, concerts and other local events. The Village is a destination all its own. And with a robust, curated calendar that’s always changing, you’ll want to visit often to experience all the Napa Valley has to offer, all in one place.

October to December

Limelight Hotel, Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA

Scheduled to open in November 2018, the Limelight Hotel Snowmass is located in the heart of Snowmass Village and at the bottom of Snowmass Ski Area — the resort’s epicenter. The front door is just steps away from two lifts that serve the mountain, the Elk Camp Gondola and the Village Express Chairlift, ensuring year round access to skiing and snowboarding, on-mountain dining, an alpine coaster that shushes you down through the woods, and a host of summer activities in The Lost Forest located at the top of the gondola. The hotel features a five-story climbing wall in the lobby and an ice skating rink and summer events lawn just outside — all of which is open to the public. Many longtime community members and visitors envision the ice rink/events lawn will become the town square for Snowmass Village. The lobby is designed to be a community living room, with food and beverage service and live music that is open guests and residents alike. The hotel will have 99 rooms and 11 luxury two- and three-bedroom condominiums, ranging in size from 1,367 square feet to 2,627 square feet. The condominiums have lofty, open floor plans with large windows that highlight the most impressive design detail of all — views of the peaks of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. The condominiums are also designed so that bedrooms can be locked off, allowing owners to participate — if they choose — in the hotel’s rental management program. Condominium owners will have privileges at the exclusive Snowmass Mountain Club, which will also be located in the Limelight Hotel Snowmass. Club members will have access to parking, a lounge, lockers and member services at the base of the ski area. The Limelight Hotel Snowmass is the third Limelight Hotel, with the other two located in Aspen and Sun Valley, Idaho.

Limelight Hotel Snowmass is part of the Snowmass Base Village project, a $600 million, 10-building development that is currently being constructed by Vail-based East West Partners in partnership with the Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners. The development includes residential, commercial, hospitality and public amenities that will be built over the next 10 years. Three buildings, including the Limelight Hotel Snowmass, are currently under construction and two more are slated to begin construction in early 2018. Snowmass Base Village and the Limelight Hotel Snowmass are located in Snowmass Village, Colo., a 50-year-old community that opened for business in 1967, the same year that the ski lifts went into operation at Snowmass Ski Area. Snowmass Village is a tranquil community located just seven miles from Aspen, Colo., surrounded by some of the most beautiful peaks in the central Rocky Mountains. In the summer it is a destination for hikers, mountain bikers, fly fishers, kayakers and rafters, horseback riders, hot air balloon aficionados and music lovers who can attend free weekly concerts on the hill and the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival which draws some of the biggest acts in the country. In the winter, Snowmass Village is the base of Snowmass Ski Area, one of the largest and most family-friendly resorts in North America. With skiing and snowboarding on one of the largest and most highly regarded mountains in North America, it includes expert runs, long blue groomers and multiple beginner areas, boasting vast terrain for every ability, an abundance of deep snow and one of the longest vertical descents (1,343m or 4,406 ft.) of any ski resort in North America.



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Top 7 Winter sun destinations for 2018


Swap the cold, wintry nights for sun-kissed coves and a spot of sightseeing in the sunshine with these seven Winter sun destinations. Explore the underwater worlds below in the Maldives, capture breathtaking viewpoints in Southeast Asia and discover a rich cultural heritage in Malta.

The Maldives

Picture a coastal paradise of turquoise water and deserted pristine beaches against a tropical backdrop and you have the Maldives. November through February is the ideal time to visit with sunshine in abundance and a temperature to match, creating a blissful beachfront retreat.

Luxury Maldives resort

If you can peel your eyes away from the stunning beauty of these islands, dive into the depths below and sneak a peak at the the colourful marine life. Explore the capital city of Male, an incredible sight to behold in its own right, as it rises from the sea below. Or simply swing lazily in your hammock as the sun caresses your face and the waves lap gently at the shore.

Thailand (south islands)

Spend some time Island hopping with ease around Thailand’s south islands during November to March. Begin your discovery in Phuket where the beauty of Karon beach is mixed in with the raucous nightlife of Patong. Hop over to Koh Phi Phi to experience a real life film set, where “The Beach”, starring Leonardo di Caprio was filmed back in 1999 and has since drawn up to 1,000 visitors per day to this small island. Catch the ferry over to Koh Lanta for a more relaxed atmosphere and explore the emerald cave aboard one of the numerous boat trips available. For those with time on their hands, head up to Krabi and kick back on the gorgeous Railay beach.

Gran Canaria

A short flight from Europe brings you to the “Continent in Miniature”, Gran Canaria, aptly named for its rich mix of coastline, towering mountains and abundance of flora and fauna. The best time to visit is really, all year! The island benefits from a springlike annual climate, with daily temperatures averaging around 20 degrees Celsius.

Catch a camel ride around the Maspalomas sand dunes, explore the capital city Las Palmas in the north and relax upon the stunning beaches of the south coast, including Amadores and Anfi del Mar.

Florida

The Sunshine State of Florida boats a warm annual climate, enjoying around 230 days of sunshine each year. For the best chance of sunny, clear skies visit during November to February for temperatures in the high teens to low 20s (degrees Celsius).

Famed for its theme parks and attractions, Florida also benefits from stunning stretches of coastline and the Everglades National Park. Scream through the air aboard an exhilarating roller coaster, meet your favourite heroes in the world famous parks before sampling cuisine from around the globe at the countless restaurants.

Antigua

Time to kick back and relax, Caribbean style, with a trip to the beautiful island of Antigua. Set against a backdrop of colourful coral reefs, this island plays host to simply breathtaking secluded bays and beaches. The tropical climate of Antigua means warm sunshine shimmers over the island throughout the European winter, with December notably enjoying temperatures averaging 25 degrees C.

Sea viewpoint Antigua

Explore this beautiful island from the abundance of fruit growing in the farmland groves to the lush rainforests that inhabit the interior. Step back in time with a stroll around English Harbour, stopping by the Fort Berkeley dating back to the 18th century and Nelson’s Dockyard.

Goa

Goa in the West of India is lapped by the Arabian Sea and is lined by some simply breathtaking coastlines. Blending Indian and Portuguese cultures has created a wonderful location to escape the cold, wintry nights of Europe with temperatures rarely dropping below 20 degrees Celsius.

While away the days upon the Benaulim Beach as the coconut trees sway lazily in the breeze before wandering the lively town of Baga with its energetic nightlife and markets to match. For a spot of culture head to Old Goa to admire the centuries old architecture and religious monuments.

Malta

Occupying an envious location in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is perfectly positioned for a short winter break from Northern Europe. Temperatures settle around the low teens (degrees C) which is perfect for exploring the fascinating sights that Malta has to offer.

Night sky luxury yachts

Kick start your discovery in Valletta, breathing in the culture of this UNESCO World Hertiage City dating back to the 16th Century or head further back in time at the Hagar Qim temple, thought to have been created in 3,600 B.C. If you prefer a more relaxed break then sample some of Malta’s fine beaches, notably in the north at Mellieha Bay or on the neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino.

Callum Davies is Marketing Manager at eXpectations Holidays. eXpectations Holidays is a Private Members Club specifically designed for families and couples who like to take one or more quality holidays each year.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Luxury vacation rentals turn Disney World into a celebrity hangout


Disney World has always had global appeal, the much-loved cartoon characters brought to oversized life are popular with children and adults alike. There is probably not a parent on the planet that hasn’t had the heartstrings tugged by a kid that just wants to see Mickey, Pluto and friends.  To be fair, it is a magical place, so we do understand the appeal, after all, who doesn’t want to be a princess or visit Peter Pan? But recently Disney has seen a surge of other well-known faces, and we don’t mean the cartoon kind. Disney World is now the place to spot many famous faces, so what has changed?

Staying in luxury

As much as we hate to admit it, most celebs are not going to be rooming next door to Mr. and Mrs. Smith from England in one of the impressive Disney hotels.  To be fair we cannot blame them, but until recently their alternative accommodation choices were somewhat limited.  Enter the rise of the luxury vacation rental and suddenly you have a game changer that brings a wealth of film, television and music stars flocking to Disney knowing that they can stay in genuinely magnificent opulence.  With a private mansion themed to impressed the preschoolers, wow the teenagers and leave the adults thrilled to be able to holiday in comfort so close to the magical park resort.

Jaw-dropping magic

Themed vacation villas, insightfully sculpted with class and jaw-dropping features certainly rival the magic of Disney!  With up to 12 bedrooms available in these majestic mansions it is no wonder the A-listers are queuing to get through the doors.  Whether you are a fan of Batman or a lover of Star Wars, a luxury-themed ‘vaycay’ villa is just a stone’s throw away from piffling pirates and Harley Quinn.  Whether you love the cartoon elements or prefer the markers styling of the casino or multiplex cinema, it is easy to see why these holiday homes are attracting the rich and famous in droves.  Each villa that pops up is tastefully designed and still offers the full degree of privacy one would expect from the luxury holiday market.  With plenty of space for the limo and room for the staff to stay too, the list of spotted famous faces just keeps on growing.

On point for 2018

There is little doubt that a built-in games room and an outdoor heated pool add to the appeal.  The luxury vacation rental market has found a new and popular niche, and the best bit is you do not have to be rich and famous to have your Disney World holiday from such an excellent, mind blowing base!

Rub shoulders with celebrities

While these rentals are proving a massive hit with some of the most significant Hollywood names, they are open to all.  Who knows you could end up having a BBQ with Jay z and Beyonce or sipping cocktails on the veranda with Ryan Reynolds.  One thing is for sure, if you are heading to Disney World this year, remember the camera – not just for the memories but for the famous faces that will be sharing your adventure with you.

Kerrie Potts is CEO at Exclusive Private Villas Limited. Exclusive Private Villas offers exquisite, handpicked luxury villas around the world.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 top tips to get the most out of your trip to Disney World


For many people, Disney is a once in a lifetime type of vacation.  No matter what your age, there really is something for everyone, but your time is limited so how can you be sure you get to see and do the most important experiences. Having spent almost every year for the last year going to Disney World, Florida at least once a year, we have put together five of our top tips to get the most out of your trip to Disney World to get you started.

1. Sort your tickets

The most significant tip we can offer anyone new to Disney World is to get your tickets booked in advance (these days it’s all about magic bands).  Queues are the most prominent scourge of a visit, and it can be hard to entertain young children while standing for hours in line to get to an experience or ride.  VIP passes are available and are well worth the extra dollars.  There is fast track passes that mean you will not have to wait in line and you can upgrade to VIP experiences for most things, giving you behind the scenes tours and bonuses you won’t see with standard tickets.

2. Dine with your favourite characters

One of the most popular experiences is the chance to have high tea or breakfast with much loved Disney characters. Again it is highly recommended that this is one of the things you get booked in before you even head to the airport.  It is popular, so being able to pick your date and time in advance can make all the difference between excited children that are happy and fun to be with, or overtired monsters that really needed some sleep.

3. Make plans for delays

So, we know that Disney World is enormous and a popular destination for parents and children from all over the globe.  Beat the adult headaches by planning and preparation.  Have you got a stroller for smaller children that might get tired of walking for example? We would also suggest going back a step with older kids and investing in a stroller board that attaches to your pushchair so even the bigger children can take a break from walking.  Snacks are expensive so have a good supply with you – plenty of water is a must, and you can ask for complimentary ice water at any restaurant which you can use to refill your own bottles.

4. There is an app for that

The “MyDisneyExperience” and “DisneyWorldLines” are just two examples of the helpful Disney World apps available.  If you are not going VIP with all experiences, this useful app can help you see wait times and show times.  You could monitor the popularity of a ride over the first couple of days so that you know roughly the best time to head over on the third day – another parenting win.

5. Accept it

You will never do everything unless you are there for a few weeks or even months!  The best plan of attack is to accept this fact and spend time before you arrive deciding what the must-see attractions are for each member of the family. List them in order of must do preferences and work your way through – also trying to take advantage of locations as you do not want to be dashing from one end of the park to the other every day.  Did we mention you need a degree in tactical planning when coming to Disney World!

Kerrie Potts is CEO at Exclusive Private Villas Limited.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Top 10 luxury things to do on your Orlando trip


A holiday to Orlando is high on many people’s bucket list. With such famous sites as Disney World and SeaWorld, it is easy to see why. This is prime luxury holiday territory, so it is little wonder the desire to go to town is high for many travelers. There are so many fabulous things to do; you do not want to miss anything, so we have put together a list of ten luxury, self-indulgent things you just have to find time to do whist visiting Orlando.

1. Become a Disney VIP

Going to Disney is pretty much a given, but for many people, it is tinged with a slight feeling of dread. Queues and people everywhere can really take the edge off what should be a magical experience, so why not choose luxury. By opting for a private VIP tour, you skip the crowds and are chauffeured around the park in your own car, and have queue jumping rights to all rides.

2. Go up, up and away…

…in a beautiful balloon! Take to the skies in a beautiful hot air balloon and bag a birds-eye view of the sites while sipping on a glass of champagne. Choose to watch the sunrise or indeed the sunset, seeing Orlando from this unique perspective is a fantastic luxury experience you do not want to miss.

3. Head for the green

If you happen to be a golf fan, then you have hit the jackpot. Orlando boasts some world-famous courses that were designed by golfing legends and offer the best in-game experience. Whether you chose to tee off at the Grande Lakes or the Four Seasons, you will never forget this amazing experience.

4. Set sail on a cruise

The Boathouse is a great way to spend a relaxing evening. Their Italian Water Taxi cruises are a spectacular way to see the local scenery. You can eat at their Disney Springs view waterside restaurant and taste some of the best wines from the most excellent vineyard regions of the world.

5. Shop until you drop

As you might expect Orlando also plays home to some of the best luxury boutiques and designer outlets. At Millenia Mall you will find over 150 shops for you to indulge your shopping whims and the famous Park Avenue oozes exclusivity for those seeking something truly unique.

6. Soak in culture

At the Morse Museum of America Art. There are some stunning works on show including those by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who boasts an equally famous father who founded the world-renowned jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. There is, of course, an shop on site if you are in the market for some bling.

7. Relax at a spa

With all that action you certainly deserve a well-earned spa day, and Orlando has some fantastic day spas where indulgence is waiting. Woodhouse Spa and Waldorf Astoria are just two such wonders or if you want to up the ante a little, head to the Ritz Carlton Spa to total indulgence.

8. Visit the ballet

Be sure to book this in advance as performances are limited, but the Orlando Ballet Company are well worth seeing. What you will see changes regularly but you are guaranteed an enjoyable evening of class and stunning dance.

9. Hear the Orchestra

While we are soaking in culture why not also find time to see the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Over 100 musicians are waiting to entertain you with a varied schedule. For pure luxury be sure to book seats in the Conductor’s Circle.

10. Stay in a luxury villa rental

Of course for a perfect stay where the luxury never ends, you can also book your holiday accommodation to be that little bit more luxurious. Orlando has a wealth of luxury and themed vacation rental properties that have been designed to offer you a first class experience. With onsite concierges available you will want for nothing.

Kerrie Potts is CEO at Exclusive Private Villas Limited.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Miami on deck: cruising Florida’s sophisticated city



 



Take it all in from the water – the exciting, metropolitan cities of Miami and Miami Beach offer infinite possibilities for enjoyment during a private yacht cruise. Complete a thorough tour all in one day, or choose multiple destinations for lingering over a few days. Ready? Let’s cruise!

Enter Miami’s Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean through Government Cut, and slow down to appreciate the massive shipping activity at Port of Miami. You’ll pass by Fisher Island known for its high real estate values and luxury estates. (Was that a celebrity you spotted?) Cruise north under the MacArthur Causeway and watch for more of the rich and famous. The stunning waterfront mansions on Palm Island, Star Island, and Hibiscus Island are home for stars including Shaquile O’Neal, Gloria Estefan, Will Smith, Madonna, P. Diddy and Sylvester Stallone. Next, cruise around the Venetian Islands, a group of six exclusive islands connected to Miami by the Venetian Causeway.

Ready for a picnic? Monument Island is close by. Anchor out a bit or pull up to it with a kayak or tender. This small tropical oasis has a strip of beach for hanging out and a striking obelisk built to memorialize Henry Flagler.

Of course no cruise of Miami Beach is complete without stopping at its ultra-trendy, non-stop party that is South Beach! People-watching is entertainment in itself, but don’t miss the beach, exclusive boutiques, restaurants from chic to casual, and night clubs that keep you dancing until morning. The Art Deco District’s historic architecture makes South Beach an irresistible blend of old and new.

The 5.5-mile Miami River is another cruising option right through the city. Take a front seat view of shipping and maritime businesses, historic neighborhoods, restaurants and parks. The river originates at Brickell Key – a triangular private island filled with impressive upscale condominiums and hotels.

Just before the Rickenbacker Causeway heading south, lying on the ocean side is the 82-acre Virginia Key. There is plenty to do and see including the island’s natural beach, Virginia Key Park and Miami Seaquarium, home to one of the world’s largest collections of marine life. Next as you cruise under the causeway, put Key Biscayne in your sights and enjoy Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Pull up to the Crandon Park sandbar where you’re sure to meet other boaters who congregate to enjoy the water, sand and sun.

On the mainland across from northern Key Biscayne, catch your breath at the sight of beautiful Vizcaya, the 1916 national historic landmark retreat of James Deering. Now near the end of your Miami cruise, explore renowned Coconut Grove with its funky mixture of art festivals, boutiques, and diverse music.

Finally, look back and take in the spectacular Miami skyline as the sun sets on your memorable Miami yachting cruise.

Kate Kalamaga is Owner of Tropicalboat Charters, Inc..

If you would like to be a guest blogger on?A Luxury Travel Blog?in order to raise your profile, please?contact us.



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The world’s most expensive macaron, along with your own private butler



 



Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t it? St. Regis Hotels are especially talented at creating quirky, luxurious temptations. In Istanbul, St. Regis has a special Champagne Sabering Ceremony one evening each week, that kicks off with the manager opening Champagne with a saber. It’s flamboyant, fun and of course a top of the range Champagne is always tempting!

St. Regis Bal Harbour presidential suite terrace

The world’s most expensive macaroon at the St. Regis Bal Harbour

But at the St. Regis in Bal Harbour, Florida, you can now eat the world’s most expensive macaron. For a dash under a price-tag of $10,000, the Crystal Macaron should really be savoured! At a cost of $9,703, the Crystal Macaron’s ingredients include white tea and edible gold leaf.

macaroon-display

These delectable delicacies are offered in a range of tempting flavours which include strawberry, chocolate, orange blossom, pistachio, vanilla, key lime, mojito and raspberry. The Crystal Macaron is served in a keepsake crystal box, resting delicately on a cushion of sugar crystals.

Indulgent, authentic and elegant

While I’m in no doubt that these Crystal Macarons are indulgent, authentic and elegant, I do wonder about that price tag! These Crystal Macarons are created at La Gourmandise under the artistic, sophisticated culinary direction of Executive Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour. If you decide to have some during your Afternoon Tea, there are more than 30 different tea blends that you can choose from, some of which are unique blends for the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

St. Regis Bal Harbour Presidential-Suite-Living-Room

But is it really worth $9,703?

Would you pay $9,703 for some Crystal Macarons? Trust me, the setting is spectacular, but even so! St. Regis have cleverly packaged their delicious Crystal Macarons not only in a keepsake crystal box, but also accompanied by ……an overnight stay at their Sky Palace Suites.

Sky-Lounge-Living-Room

These four-bedroom suites can accommodate up to eight guests, and feature superb 210-square foot balconies, which afford wonderful views over the Atlantic Ocean. Of course you will also have your own private butler, which is a trademark of the St. Regis brand. Now perhaps you may fancy the world’s most expensive macaroon along with your own private butler, do you?



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Cruise the mighty North American rivers



 



The rivers of North America have long been transport routes.  They helped the early travellers explore the continent.  Today they are a marvellous way to slowly explore the countryside. Is it the Mississippi in the south or the St. Lawrence in the north that pulls at your heart strings?  let us look at the options.

Mississippi River

The St. Lawrence River sweeps in from the Atlantic into Canada and is navigable all the way to the Great Lakes.  The replica Heritage Style Steamboat, the Canadian Empress is the only cruise ship dedicated to the St. Lawrence. She plies her way between Kingston, Ontario and Quebec City stopping off  in Montreal, the 1000 Islands and Ottawa along the way and is a true “river cruise”.   Full of character, she offers three to seven night voyages which can easily be combined with city breaks in Montreal, Quebec or even Toronto.  Most of the major cruise lines offer voyages from the Eastern seaboard ports such as Portland, Maine up the river some as far as Toronto, but most to Montreal.

Canadian Empress

The Mississippi

Two cruise companies compete on Ol’ Man River, both using modern and comfortable paddlewheelers:  The American Queen and American Cruise Lines.  They broadly have the same itineraries, cruising the Lower Mississippi during spring and autumn and retreating to the Upper Mississippi during the hot summer months.   American Queen are launching the American Duchess on August 13, 2017, a luxury vessel which will complement their already very comfortable American Queen.  Soak up the sounds of New Orleans Jazz, the food and the scenery on an unforgettable holiday tracing the lines of Civil War, old plantations and the laid-back lifestyle

American River cruise vessel on the Mississippi

The Hudson River

The Hudson is best enjoyed during the colourful autumn months and cleverly this is when the American Cruise Lines’ Independence sails from New York up to the Catskill Mountains.  Marvel at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, take a tour around West Point and Sleepy Hollow where you can visit the home of Washington Irving but the star of the show will be the amazing colour of the Upper New York State maples and birch trees.

Hudson River Cruise

The Florida Rivers

American Cruise Lines (America’s largest cruise company) also have a lovely itinerary exploring the rivers of Florida. First explored by river back in the 19th century, adventurers were searching for a tropical paradise. Easier for us as you board the American Star in Jacksonville to cruise the St John’s River, a designated American Heritage River, unusual in that it flows north rather than south.  You will visit Palatka full of restored plantation homes and on to Lake George and the heart of the Ocala National Forest where, with a bit of luck, you will see alligators, manatees and bald eagles. Explore the narrow streets of St. Augustine with its 19th century Victorian houses and beautiful cathedral.

Alligator St Johns River Lake Monroe Deltona Gators

The Columbia & Snake Rivers

Finally across to the West Coast and to perhaps the most spectacular of all the river cruises as you sail through the Columbia Gorge surrounded by soaring cliffs, waterfalls and vineyards.  Like all the rivers, the Columbia was vital to the Lewis and Clark Expedition and you will learn much of their exploits on your voyage.   Several ships make the round trip voyage from Portland; my favourite is the SS legacy belonging to Un-cruise, small ship specialists. I love their itineraries especially as they extend into the vineyards of the Willamette Valley and the fact that the Legacy only holds 88 guests makes for much better viewing and all excursions, including a thrilling ride down Hell’s Canyon, are included.

Columbia River Gorge

I hope you have enjoyed reading this.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Sandra Potter is Founder of Frontier Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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The 4 most spectacular Hard Rock Cafe locations in the USA



 



Hard Rock owns countless hotels, casinos and cafes which are sprinkled through 74 countries. 174 cafes have popped up in major cities all over the world. While they serve your typical American fare, like cheeseburgers, ribs and steak, Hard Rock Caf is perhaps more famous for its massive rock memorabilia display. In fact, they boast the largest collection in the world, with handwritten notes, original lyrics, iconic outfits and famous instruments, all from the music worlds most notable stars likeDavid Bowie,John Lennon, Elvis and The Beatles. Four particular locations in the US are, above all, the most mesmerizing.

Orlando

Florida is home to the largest caf structure; itsits along the City Walk, right outside Universal Studios. The largest display of Hard Rock’smusic culture collectibles can be found here. Every inch of the walls are coated with autographed pictures and elaborate costumes, including along the wooden staircase that leads to private dining rooms on the upper level. Elvis suit from Viva Las Vegas and Buddy Hollys signature, black-rimmed glasses also grace the walls. A full size vintage car replica sets on a pedestalin the bar’s centerand is an eye-catching centerpiece to the multi-level attraction.

Orlando Bar

Hollywood

Simply residing in Hollywood, California gives this Hard Rock Caf tourist allure. Its perfectly situated right off the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the Hollywood and Highlander Center. An 18 foot wide, digital interactive screen takes center stage, allowing guests to see memorabilia photos and information up close. Smaller screens are situated in booths, whereother Hard Rock locations can be virtually explored. A pair of brown, leather pants worn by Jim Morrison, for nearly two years, would have to be one of the most notable items hanging around the joint.

Hollywood

New York

In 2005, Times Squares Paramount Theater was converted into a Hard Rock Caf. In 1926, the historical building was a movie house, which later hosted live music shows and flashy movie premiers. Elvis very first movie, Love Me Tender, premiered here in 1956. The Beatles trademark collarless suits glimmer in a display case. Times Square, also known as the Crossroads of the World, features many other attractions like Madame Tussauds wax museum and Ripleys Believe it or Not!

New York

Las Vegas

Hard Rock Caf fits seamlessly into the glittery backdrop of the Las Vegas Strip. Constructed with plenty of large windows, guests can clearly see the electric city while they dine. Conveniently situated beside MGM Grand and the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, the neon lit hotspot is agreat place to enjoy Sin City without getting into too much trouble.On the third floor is aconcert style venue, complete with a built in stage, killer lights and sound, as well as audiovisual effects for a modern experience. A sleek lounge and patio dining area are also available at Las Vegas enormous, contemporary caf.

Las Vegas



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