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 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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For those seeking a truly decadent escape, the Caribbean is certainly not short on options. The islands boast everything from intimate boutiques in hidden, tranquil locales to expansive resorts that wow not only in breadth, but style. These super-luxe properties cater to celebrities and socialites — and you can enjoy them too (for a price, of course — or at least just in pictures). Spoil yourself with these 13 uber-fancy spots!
One of the most prestigious hotels in St. Barts, this exclusive 15-villa resort sits amid 28 lush acres of natural hills and beachfront. The private villas are spacious and airy, and each boasts its own infinity-edge pool. Plus, the views here are jaw-dropping. The French restaurant is one of the island’s most renowned, and you can often spot a celebrity dining during high season. Rates are nothing to sneeze at, but you’ll definitely receive all-star treatment. Read More »
Spring break is right around the corner and, those on a budget shouldn’t rule out a trip to the sun-soaked beaches of the Caribbean. Budget-friendly all-inclusives dot the shores of some of our favorite destinations, including the Dominican Republic, Cancun, and Jamaica, among others. It’s time to pack your bags and hitch a flight to warmer weather.
With competitive pricing, lovely rooms, and great on-site amenities, this 70-room boutique hotel will attract people who never thought they’d choose an all-inclusive package. With three restaurants and cabanas on the terrace, Waves has a contemporary appeal especially for couples. The quiet beach along Prospect Bay feels private, and the calm waves are perfect for swimming and kayaking. A spa and adults-only pool, located across the street, are extra perks.
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Fun, sun, and…scuba? For many, a trip to the beach just isn’t complete without the possibility of a deep sea dive. Whether you want to explore ship wrecks, meet creatures of the deep, or wonder at gorgeous coral formations, scuba diving can be a fun and athletic opportunity while you’re on vacation. Getting certified is crucial before attempting a dive, and if you choose to give it a go, we’ve compiled some of the best dive sites in North America for you to visit. Some may not realize just how many dive sites await in our own backyard!
1. Dive: Half Moon Caye, Belize
Half Moon Caye in Belize offers divers the chance to go on a wall dive–a dive in which the vertical facades of the earth’s landmasses are explored. The depths at Half Moon Caye (and really at any wall dive) are tremendous, giving you the very correct feeling that you are staring into an abyss. The waters at Half Moon Caye are particularly clear, despite the depth, so you will be able to see all manner of wildlife, including loggerhead turtles, rays, barracuda, and eels.
Stay: Portofino Beach Resort
The professional dive shop on-site at the romantic and secluded Portofino Beach Resort is a major draw for adventure seekers. Read More »
A nice beach can make a vacation, and there really doesn’t have to be much more to it than soft sand, clean water, and plenty of space to spread a towel. But a truly special beach is harder to come by; it has to have that little something extra that makes it — and your vacation — one-of-a-kind. Here are seven beaches around the world that wowed us.
Bioluminescent Bay; Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico
A national natural landmark, Bioluminescent Bay (also know, much less prettily, as Mosquito Bay) glows a breathtaking neon blue. A tiny micro-organism that sparkles when disturbed gives the bay its beautiful luminescence, and many tours take kayakers and divers out at night to watch the waters glow.
Where to Stay: W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island
This hotel has the modern, funky feel of the W brand with a tropical twist — it’s right on it’s own private beach, the lobby and rooms feature bright colors and concrete floors, and the infinity pool overlooking the ocean has a pool bar serving up poolside drinks and meals.
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If you love lazing away the day in the hotel pool, you can’t do much better than staying in a swim-up suite, where it’s possible to dip into the water right from your back door. The swim-up suite combines the ease of access of a private pool with the features and size of a public one. And there’s something pretty cool about being able to swim home to your room. Who wants to walk when you’re on vacation in a tropical paradise?
The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos (part of the Hyatt’s new all-inclusive brand) is a great family-friendly option in Los Cabos, with a kids’ water park, kiddy pool, and kids club. The Premium Ocean View Swim-Up Junior suite has quality lounge chairs set right in the water. Read More »
If you and your honey have VIP taste when you travel, you’ll be in good company at these romantic resorts. All of them have made headlines for hosting celebrity couples, from Brad and Angie at Caneel Bay Resort in the U.S Virgin Islands to, most recently, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his girlfriend at Half Moon in Jamaica (where he either did or did not suck her toes in a hot tub, depending on whether you believe the New York Post). So what makes these resorts special enough for the likes of Hollywood royalty (and in some cases, royalty royalty)? We’ll give you the inside scoop.
When Eliot Spitzer and girlfriend Lis Smith vacationed together at Half Moon, Jamaica in early January, they made headlines for some racy hot tub behavior (specifically, Spitzer was reported to have sucked on Smith’s toes). The report turned out to be unreliable, but we imagine the pair had a lovely time at Half Moon even without the toe-sucking. The 400-acre resort has two miles of pristine beach, a dolphin lagoon, horse stables, and a spectacular spa; it’s fit not only for American political royalty (JFK and Jackie stayed here long before Spitzer) but actual royalty (Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and The Prince of Wales have also visited). Read More »
Let’s face it: winters are tough. When it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. and there are sheets of freezing rain outside, it’s hard not to fantasize about getting out of dodge. But choosing where to escape to can be overwhelming; with so many options, where does one begin? Luckily for you, planning vacations is one of our favorite things. We’ve selected some of our favorite winter getaway destinations and shared what we love about them — as well as a top hotel pick for each.
Why We Love Kauai: Kauai is less developed than its more popular neighbors, Oahu and Maui — and arguably more beautiful. Its lush terrain, placid beaches, and dramatic cliffs provide the backdrop for numerous Hollywood visions of untamed, other-worldly paradises. Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Jurassic Park films, and the 2005 version of King Kong were all filmed here. The 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon, the lava-rock seawater pool at Queen’s Bath, and the remote, towering cliffs of the Na Pali Coast are among the world’s most beautiful natural attractions.
Where to Stay: St. Regis Princeville
The 251-room St. Regis Princeville is considered by many to be the premier luxury option in Hawaii, and given the stunning setting overlooking Hanalei Bay, it’s hard to disagree. Guests can expect warm, sophisticated decor, suites with personal butler service, world-class golf, and a memorable breakfast buffet on a terrace with gorgeous ocean views. Read More »
If an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink beach getaway with your honey sounds like your idea of a vacation, then we’ve got some great resort picks for you. These all-inclusive resorts are not only among the best in the Caribbean and Mexico, they’re also adults-only — so you can enjoy some R&R without getting interrupted by squealing tots. (And families, not to fear — we’ve got recommendations for you, too!)
Arguably Jamaica’s most romantic escape (for adults only), the Caves’ 12 unique, private cottages and suites are tucked along lush garden paths and dramatic seaside cliffs (there’s no beach). High-quality, locally focused cuisine, a top-shelf bar, and intimate, incredibly attentive service make it Jamaica’s best all-inclusive. Read More »
Traveling with the kids is hardly a picnic, and all too often parents don’t get to do a lot of vacationing on their vacations. If you’re hoping to tantrum-proof your family beach getaway this winter, we have some solutions for you: resorts so ridiculously awesome for kids that your little imps will likely be too busy (and too delighted) to cause you grief. No boredom, no tears — just lots and lots of good family fun.
Brimming with activities for kids and teens, Atlantis is a veritable Caribbean Disneyland. In addition to all the basics (babysitting, cribs, rollaway beds, kids club) the resort has 11 spectacular pools (including several kids’ pools), a 141-acre water park, a speedway for racing remote control cars, and a marine habitat with sharks, stingrays, and dolphins to swim alongside — and that’s just a sample of the attractions. In addition, for teens, Atlantis has an elaborate shopping center, a rock-climbing wall, a movie theater, and, on occasion, a pop-star concert (think Taylor Swift, Katy Perry). Read More »