Travel News

In our original post, we brought you from Nantucket to Kauai and everywhere in between, offering perfectly captured glimpses of our country’s most beautiful vistas. But we’d be biased if we only shared our stunning photos of the United States. So we packed our bags and headed to Europe in search of its best vantage points. Here are 13 of our favorites…

Fretheim Hotel, Norway

Norway

For travelers interested in exploring Norway’s natural wonders, there’s no better starting point than the Fretheim Hotel. Located in Flam, a popular departure point for fjord cruises, the Fretheim offers some pretty breathtaking views of its own. With its floor to ceiling windows, the Fretheim’s popular restaurant has an unobstructed view of the beautiful valley and nearby harbor.

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Free breakfast and yoga classes are some nice perks, but when we’re on vacation and feeling creative (or the weather’s not ideal for sight-seeing), taking a hotel’s art class is a fun way to spend the day. A good handful of hotels we’ve visited offer free or inexpensive classes for their guests –some as part of a children’s club and others geared toward adults. Because who said arts and crafts was just for kids? And one surefire way to adult-ify a painting event (and to make for some interesting “abstract” creations) is to add booze! The classes we’ve taken range from watercolor painting and sand art to decorating picture frames with sea shells and mosaic tiles. So if you’ve tired yourself of the beach, pool or surrounding tourist locales, these hotels can keep you occupied with an art-filled experience. Plus, you’ll have a handmade souvenir to take home!

Jake’s, Jamaica

Jake's

With just 30 hippy-chic cottages in secluded Treasure Beach, Jake’s is a member of Bespoke Hotels, a trendy, luxury hotel group. Guests come to unplug — there’s no phone, Internet, or TV in the cottages. The black-sand beaches aren’t Jamaica’s most impressive, but the Driftwood Spa, yoga classes, and excellent food make this a particular favorite. In addition to the cooking classes and beach activities, guests of all ages can utilize their artsy side. For the littlest ones, there’s an Octopus Garden mosaic-tile workshop geared towards kids ages two and up for $60. There’s also a mosaic-tile class for adults and older kids where all materials are provided to create uniquely tiled mirrors, trays, or picture frames. The Sea Shell Garden poolside workshop lets kids choose between a birdhouse, trinket box, and other structures that they can decorate with an assortment of beads, shells, and other natural materials. Led by artists-in-residence, watercolor painting classes, available for both group or private sessions, guarantee that you can leave Jake’s with more than just a tan.

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1. FACT or FAKEOUT? Hotel restaurants continue to be hot! The Michelin Guide 2015 was released earlier this week, and The Nomad Hotel‘s namesake restaurant was once again awarded a star, as was The Breslin at the Ace Hotel NY, just one block away.

2. FACT or FAKEOUT? Post-hurricane, the Cabo airport is slated to reopen on October 9, along with hotels such as the Esperanza Resort and Dreams Los Cabos.

3. FACT or FAKEOUT? Now that negotiations between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and hotelier Andres Balazs (who owns iconic properties such as Chateau Marmont and The Standard High Line) have fallen through, there are no plans to turn the TWA Flight Center at JFK into a hotel.

4. FACT or FAKEOUT? The Intercontinental The Barclay New York, a luxury property that has hosted the likes of Hemingway, has closed for an 18-month, $175 million renovation.

5. FACT or FAKEOUT? Based on users’ check-ins, Facebook has determined that the most popular honeymoon destinations are Hawaii, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Mexico, Las Vegas, and the Dominican Republic.

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napa lead image-001It’s been over two months since the 6.o earthquake that rocked Napa Valley caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. With the help of federal aid, various fundraisers, and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, the popular California destination is nearly back to business as usual, just in time for the harvest season. Almost all wineries are fully operational once again, and hotels that had to temporarily close — such as Andaz Napa and the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel — have since reopened. The Westin Verasa, which sustained significant damage — mostly due to burst pipes and leaks — has also reopened, but at a much smaller capacity. All facilities — such as the pool and restaurants — are available to guests, but only about 60 of the total 180 rooms are available for occupancy. Therefore, the hotel is taking no new reservations for October and November, and the staff is happy to assist guests with current reservations for those months to reschedule or book at another Westin property. We will continue to keep you updated on its progress!

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For those looking to ditch the typical 300-square-foot hotel room in favor of a more spacious pad, you are in luck. These days, more and more hotels are catering to the ever-growing crowd that seeks a home-away-from-home vibe by offering guests super-sized suites with tricked-out amenities. Whether its granite kitchen countertops, extra wiggle room, stunning views, added bathrooms, or a bevy of French doors — these hotels all give that spacious apartment vibe any claustrophobic would approve of. And to be clear, these feel less like our tiny studio apartments in NYC and more like the sprawling penthouse pads we can only dream about. So dream on >>

Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, Greater Palm Springs

Aqua Soleil

The larger rooms at Aqua Soleil look straight out of a Pottery Barn or West Elm catalogue. Each suite comes with a king bed, kitchenette, and large balcony with a view of the San Jacinto Mountains, as well as two flat-screen TVs with DVD players and a nice bathroom with a walk-in shower. (Some rooms even have their own personal pool!) This mid-range, 95-room hotel has limited curb appeal, but once on the property’s grounds, guests will find it is attractively landscaped and includes desert flora, a pool and spa filled with mineral water, and seating areas gathered around fire pits.

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Don’t get us wrong, we love a good mega-resort just as much as the next person. But sometimes the large crowds, all-you-can-eat buffets, and 24-hour casinos make for an overwhelming stay. When we seek quieter, more intimate getaways, we head to these cottages, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts for some R&R.

Hidden Pond, Maine

Hidden Pond

If you’ve ever dreamt of living in the wilderness, but cringe at the bare bones nature of Thoreau’s stay in Walden, then consider Hidden Pond; it’s got all the seclusion and beauty you crave, with the upscale amenities you can’t live without. Spread over 60 acres in Kennebunkport, the individually decorated bungalows and cottages are cozy, with bright pops of color and some cabin-esque touches (think Ralph Lauren meets woods). The tree house-like spa is a nice perk, as is the organic vegetable farm, and the outdoor bar and restaurant with awesome seating around a fire pit.

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Owning and operating a hotel is a full-time job, and many of those who devote their lives to the hospitality industry specialize in all things hotel — and that’s it. But there are some unlikely faces in the exclusive “hotel owners of the world” club (hey, it probably exists) that got their starts in other industries; in fact, most of them have their hands in many pots and own their hotels while simultaneously acting, directing, cooking, designing, singing, running a country….you name it! So here we bring you nine surprising hotel owners, from chefs to sultans.

The Greenwich Hotel, owned by Robert De Niro

Greenwich Hotel

The Greenwich Hotel is the hub of Robert De Niro’s personal TriBeCa monopoly: he’s co-owner of the hotel, and also owns its direct neighbors, Locanda Verde restaurant and the Tribeca Film Center. Other owners include developers Ira Druker and Richard Born, of the Mercer and Bowery hotels — both of which are celebrity magnets. The Greenwich also attracts its fair share of stars with its gorgeous, homey rooms and sexy underground spa.

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A crackling fireplace, hot apple cider, vibrant leaves…these are just a few of the (amazing) things we associate with fall. And taking a cue from the dropping temperatures, at this time of year, hotels begin to entice travelers not with their refreshing pools or sandy beaches, but with cozy autumn amenities. From bed-and-breakfasts perfect for prime foliage viewing to city hotels that successfully capture a country vibe with fun activities like pumpkin carving contests, these seven picks are sure to make the transition from summer to fall a pleasant one. Just save some pumpkin pie for us!

In-Room Fireplaces: Fifteen Beacon, Boston

Fifteen Beacon

A 63-room upscale hotel with exquisite service and sleek decor in residential Beacon Hill, Fifteen Beacon (or XV Beacon) offers a luxury boutique experience. The building, constructed in 1903, blends historic New England elegance with modern, minimalist design and high-tech amenities. Expert concierges, free chauffeur service in a Lexus, and a location at the top of Boston Common make this hotel a great fit for discerning business or leisure travelers. Rooms are spacious, with stylishly masculine decor, and our favorite feature for fall are the working gas fireplaces. There are switches conveniently by the bed to turn on both the fireplace and stereo, so you can stay cuddled under the covers.

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palm springsEven though we’ve been trying to embrace all things fall, we still can’t help but feel like summer came and went too quickly this year. And while fireplaces and fall reading and apple picking are all nice, we’d still love some time defined by warm weather, sandy shoes, and suntan lotion – especially as the temperatures start to drop, and drop, and drop some more. So we’ve come up with an Endless Summer Series to satisfy our sand-and-sun dreamin’. It’s a simple idea based on the fact that no matter what month it is, it’s summer somewhere. And since it doesn’t get much hotter than the desert, we figured that was a pretty good place to start sizzling. No need to throw in the (beach) towel on your warm weather wanderlust!

Click through the jump to get all the scoop on Palm Springs in September…and where to stay for every budget >>

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Today is the first official day of fall, and while saying goodbye to the summertime is no easy feat…well, we don’t really have a choice. But to be honest, we’re looking forward to the days of football and beer, leaves crunching under our boots, and crackling fireplaces. And nowhere in the country does the fall season better than New England. So whether you’re planning a getaway to Massachusetts or Rhode Island, Vermont or New Hampshire, or Connecticut or Maine, we have a fun fall activity to get you in the seasonal spirit!

Go: Pumpkin Picking in Vermont

VT pumpkin picking

New England is replete with pumpkin-picking patches and Vermont has some of the best. While Stowe is often associated with winter skiing, it’s also prime for fall picking. With tons of open space and rolling hills, it is home to numerous farms where visitors can pick apples, pumpkins, and other produce.

Stay: Stowe Mountain Lodge

Stowe Mountain Lodge is one of the top luxury properties in Vermont, and offers rustic elegance throughout — from the impressive lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows to the bright, contemporary rooms. This property has a lot in the way of amenities, particularly for the area: an inviting spa, big outdoor pool with mountain views, acclaimed restaurant, state-of-the-art fitness center, 18-hole golf course, and great children’s program. 

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