Seasonal Travel

As the song goes, “I love Paris in the springtime.” Of course, Fitzgerald goes on to claim that she loves Paris in every season, and the romantic City of Light is certainly lovely all year long. But it can be argued that the French capital never shines quite so brightly as it does in the spring. When the city is in full bloom, its iconic cafes, parks, and bustling avenues come to life after a winter indoors. To be fair, living “la vie en rose” comes with a steep price tag at this time of year. but for a once in a lifetime getaway, you can’t miss this iconic springtime experience. We’ve collected some of our favorite things to do in Paris in the spring, and have added some brand new hotels to the site that are perfect for your seasonal stay.

1. Explore a city in bloom. 

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Springtime is synonymous with blossoming flowers, and there are few cities that capture such vibrancy of color as Paris does after months of cold, grey winter days. The city’s famed gardens — Tuileries and Luxembourg being among the most popular — burst to life with daffodils, lavender, and paulownia plants and trees. The gorgeous colors and delicious fragrances are entrancing, and they make for gorgeous photos ops.

Stay: Hotel de l’Abbaye Saint-Germain 

A cozy and luxurious oasis in the center of the Saint Germain quarter — and just a short walk from the Luxembourg Gardens — this boutique hotel is praised for its stylish decor and tranquil garden where guests can enjoy breakfast.

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“America the Beautiful” was originally a poem written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired to pen the historic words after taking a memorable — and clearly, scenic — cross-country train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. In the late 1800s, such a trip might have been grueling, but it was nonetheless considered exotic — whereas nowadays, it sometimes seems travelers aren’t impressed unless they’re crossing vast oceans and getting multiple stamps on their passports. But America is still the fair beauty of Bates’s poem, and tons of gorgeous sites and settings can be found right in our backyards. Even better, local travel is often relatively cheap and easy: There’s no currency exchange, language barrier, or passport required, and even if you do fly, flights are certainly less expensive than those to far-flung international locales. Here are six amazing sites in the U.S. that you’ve got to see. (And don’t worry. If you really must cross an ocean to feel like you’re on vacation, we have some U.S. destinations where that is a necessity as well).

Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

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If you’ve ever questioned whether the U.S. could be exotic, the Bioluminscent Bay in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo will have you properly convinced. Just a short drive from Old San Juan, this famed “Bio Bay” puts on nature’s most magnificent light show: At night, when the bay is inky black beneath the light of the moon, microscopic plankton glow turquoise as you paddle or swim through the water.

Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is just about as close as you can get to the Bio Bay. Even better, this luxe resort offers some of the Caribbean’s most epic views.

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Sin City sets the standard for raucous debauchery twelve months a year. But once spring hits, Vegas’s scene gets even hotter with sizzling poolside parties. Some of our favorite “waterfront” hotspots are opening this coming weekend with over-the-top parties, and others have been in full swing for months now. So if you’re ready to dive into booze-fueled and bikini-studded daytime fiestas — or are at least curious enough to dip a toe — here are the seven hottest Las Vegas pool parties happening every weekend for the rest of the spring and summer. (And no, it is not a coincidence that we picked seven sinful spots).

Opening Soon:

TAO Beach at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

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This Saturday, the Venetian’s TAO Beach Club reopens with a wild pool party hosted by Jason Derulo. The singer will perform multiple hits at the pool’s modified space, which features a larger stage and more spots for being able to get a good view of the performance. DJ Eric D-Lux will also help keep the beats pumpin’. Entry is $30/person (although, typical for Vegas, women get a $10 discount) but those who really want to live it up can rent one of the pool’s luxe cabanas, which comes complete with massive TVs with DVD libraries, minibars, and butler service that includes personal body misters, sunglass cleaners, and food and drink service.

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Easter is only 11 days away, and while we look forward to beautiful services, parades of hats, and (hopefully) sunny weather, what we really crave is the requisite button-busting Easter brunch. Whether you’ve given up sweets, savory delicacies, and lavish meals out for Lent or not, a delicious Easter brunch is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday. New York City is home to some of the most lavish hotels in the world, which are in turn home to some of tastiest restaurants in the world, which — in turn — host some of the most extravagant Easter brunch buffets, menus, and spreads in the world. Sounds like a win, win, win to us! So without further adieu, here are the five best restaurants for Easter brunch in New York City, all of which are conveniently located in Manhattan’s top luxury hotels.

Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien 

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Norma’s is one of the most popular — and decadent — brunch spots in the city, and it will be no different (in the best way possible) for Easter. Located in Le Parker Meridien just a few blocks south of Central Park, Norma’s is conveniently within walking distance of the Easter parade, which meanders up Fifth Avenue, so diners can fill up on Chocolate Decadence French Toast, Norma’s Eggs Benedict (which substitutes fluffy pancakes for English muffins), Foie Gras Brioche French Toast, or — for the truly extravagant — the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata, which — costing a whopping $1,000 — comes topped with ten ounces of caviar. “Frugal” diners can opt for just one ounce of caviar for a mere $100.

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Easter is fast-approaching, and leading up to the springtime holiday is Holy Week, which, in Roman Catholic tradition, is the last week of Lent, taking place right before Easter (which falls on Sunday, April 20th this year). Parades, processions, traditional celebrations, lively festivities, marching bands, festive foods: These are the sights, sounds, and flavors of Holy Week around the globe, and for travelers who sample a country’s culture as much as its fine cuisine and beautiful scenery, visiting a celebratory country during Holy Week is the holy grail — no pun intended — of cultural travel. Here are our six top picks for the most festive spots in the world to visit during Holy Week.

Guatemala

La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

Guatemala is one of the world’s most renowned destinations for celebrating Holy Week, thanks to the nation’s vibrant and ornate religious festivities. To kick off the week, Guatemalans decorate their streets and homes with palm fronds on Palm Sunday, and the celebration continues through Good Friday. In Antigua, residents scatter the country’s famed alfombras – dyed sand and sawdust, with pine needles, flowers and plants — on the cobblestone streets to create spectacularly colored “carpets” that lead the way for religious processions.

Where to Stay: Just 30 minutes from colonial Antigua, La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences gets you close to the Holy Week action but not too close: visit during the day and escape at night to avoid the pulsating — and often overwhelming — crowds.

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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.

Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve

Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature.

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Once we got that hint of sunny weather earlier this week, it became official: we’ve got the beach bug. Nothing ushers in warmer temperatures (at least in our minds) like frolicking in the sand, and a trip to the shore can be the perfect way to get the family together. We’ve told you about the best beaches for diving, surfing, and even going topless, so this time around we’re giving you the low-down on the best beaches for families; if you have babies in tow or water-winged toddlers, these seven U.S. beaches are our top picks for a family-friendly visit.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

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An upscale seaside sanctuary, La Jolla attracts families with its pristine downtown area, quiet neighborhoods, and stunning natural surroundings. While the town boasts plenty of surfer-friendly beaches, La Jolla Cove is ideal for tourists traveling with little ones; this small cove of clear water is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, and swimmers and divers have free range (surfing is not allowed). Lifeguards patrol the calm surf year-round, and the beach boasts clean public restrooms and showers, as well as designated picnic spots.

Where to Stay: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

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March is the unofficial month of spring break, which — at least to hundreds of thousands of college students across the nation — means it’s a 30-day stretch of time dedicated to partying, preferably in exotic locales around the world. We’ve already given you the inside scoop on where to spend an awesome alternative spring break, but if you’re looking to get the classic (read: raucous) spring break fix, here are the top ten spring break destinations for partying.

Where to go: Cancun

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Cancun — with its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters – is one of the world’s top beach destinations, and it also one of the most-visited spring break destinations on the planet. The Hotel Zone is where to go if you’re looking for all the college spring break staples; dozens of megaresorts line miles and miles of postcard-perfect beaches where guests lounge in the sun margarita in hand. Hotels here cater to spring breakers, hard partiers, young couples and rowdy groups with night-long parties, loud entertainment, cheap booze and all-inclusive plans.

Where to stay: Hotel Riu Cancun

In the heart of the Hotel Zone, Hotel Riu Cancun sits on a sprawling piece of beachfront that’s close to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops. The all-inclusive 569-room resort offers three swimming pools, a buffet-style restaurant, as well as three themed restaurants, and a range of on-site activities that includes nightly live shows, tennis, windsurfing, and a nightclub. Rooms are a bit outdated, but most consider it a small tradeoff for the affordable prices.

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Hawaii attracts about seven million visitors annually and it’s no wonder; with a beautiful natural landscape, rich culture, and vast range of activities, it is one of the most diverse destinations in the U.S.  No two islands of the six-island chain are the same, and even different areas and coasts of a single island can vary drastically. This can make it difficult to choose an island for your vacation, but it also means that all kinds of travelers can find what they’re looking for — and fortunately, travel among the islands is relatively easy and stress-free. So whether you plan on island-hopping throughout your trip, or prefer to pick one island that’s best suited to your needs, our handy island guide will make planning your Hawaiian getaway a breeze.

If you want…

A little bit of everything: The Big Island big island

It makes sense that the largest island (larger, in fact, than all the other islands combined) would be the most diverse, and those who seek a well-rounded experience will love the Big Island. Between fiery volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, white-sand, black-sand, and even green-sand beaches, blossoming meadows and snow-capped mountains, the options are seemingly endless. Visitors can sunbathe and snorkel by day and stargaze from frigid mountaintops by night.

This clean, affordable condo property in Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast offers an uncommon level of privacy: It’s located inside a gated community and surrounded by a golf course. Ranch-inspired buildings house multi-room units, complete with full kitchens and washer/dryers, and property features include an attractive (if small) infinity pool and an open-air fitness room.

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If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.

Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8

Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.

Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel

A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to  drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.

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