Savannah

Happy National S’mores Day! Yes, today is National S’mores Day and it’s one summer holiday we think everyone should celebrate! The first official s’mores recipe was published by the campfire-savvy Girl Scout Handbook in 1927, and it has remained a sweet favorite thanks to its chocolatey deliciousness that gets people asking for “some more.” Needing only three simple ingredients – graham crackers, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate bars – s’mores are the go-to dessert for fireside dwellers, both young and old. We found 12 hotels that love these sweet concoctions as much as we do and are great spots for roasting marshmallows over a fire pit. Grab your family, friends and neighbors and get cooking!

Carmel Valley Ranch, Monterey County

Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre property offering modern luxury in a rustic, bucolic setting, with tall oak trees, organic gardens, and rolling vineyards. The ranch’s many features include two outdoor pools — the River Ranch Pool, featuring a splash zone for kids, and the Lodge Pool — as well as an 18-hole golf course designed by Pete Dye. Rooms have small private decks and travertine fireplaces, but we recommend heading out to one of the seven fire pits. Every night a (free) s’mores bar is set out at the Lodge Restaurant for guests to enjoy. That’s an amenity we wish every hotel had.

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Who doesn’t love a girls’ trip? A fun getaway with a group of your girlfriends is the perfect way to get together and reconnect, whether you all live in cities across the country or in the same neighborhood. Hey, even guys love a girls’ trip! For those who are left at home, it means more time in control of the remote; for those in the visited destinations, it simply means more odds of meeting someone special (at least temporarily so). After visiting countless hotels and resorts all over the world, we’ve seen quite a few that are suited for that precious — and always entertaining — time spent with girlfriends. No matter if your gang likes to shop till you drop or roast marshmallows while camping, we’ve rounded up nine hotels that will suit your style.

For Relaxing at the Spa: Travaasa Austin

Spa Austin

Travaasa Austin is set on its own nature preserve on a hilltop amid forested canyons, 20 miles west of downtown Austin. Its 72 rooms are housed in seven buildings built on three different levels, with correspondingly different views from their balconies. Hiking trails, an infinity-edge pool enclosed by a wooden deck, a luxurious spa, and a restaurant with panoramic views are just some of the amenities providing inspiration and relaxation for visitors. The tranquil spa has a sauna and hot tub and uses only organic, bioenergetic products for personal treatments. The farm-to-face pumpkin facial and lavender vanilla hand treatment are just a few unique options they offer. You and your girlfriends will easily relax and decompress in this setting — and if you’re combining a little relaxation with a bachelorette party, Austin has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the U.S. for pre-nuptial soirees.

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Resorts and mega-hotels certainly have their perks, but few stays can feel as personal or as cozy as one at a quaint bed-and-breakfast. While the level of luxury and service can vary greatly from one B&B to another (some claim the status simply by offering free bagels each morning), we’ve had the good fortune of holing up in some particularly charming bed-and-breakfasts across the states. From romantic rooms that maintain the property’s historic flair to absolutely glorious breakfast buffet spreads, these twelve bed-and-breakfasts offer the very best in the U.S.

1. Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn

Savannah Inn

The 15-room Savannah Bed and Breakfast Inn was built in 1853 in the southern end of the historical quarter of Savannah and is listed in the local register of Historic Inns. Each room has individual character, but all are decorated in a formal, traditional style with four-poster beds, oriental carpets, and shelves stocked with books. The inn is renovated and bathrooms are modern, but certain period features, like steep, narrow staircases, remain. Breakfast included in the daily rate is excellent and southern-inflected; afternoon tea and evening cookies are also served. Rooms are available in four carriage houses and assorted nearby cottages.

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Okay, as hotel experts we love traveling; we really, really love it. But even for us, saying goodbye to our side of the bed, our cups in the kitchen, our own personal brand of snack food stashed in the fridge, and all those other things that make our abode “homey” can be bittersweet. Thankfully, many hotels are stepping up their game when it comes to providing guests with their creature comforts of choice. From in-room kitchens to roaring fireplaces, these hotels come equipped with tons of great amenities to make you feel like you never walked out your front door — and with these amenities come all the fun perks inherent of a vacation. So fear not the unknown, these homey hotels are awaiting your stay with open arms and familiar treats.

1. Villa D’ Citta, Chicago 

villa d citta

The six-room Villa D’ Citta is a cozy, romantic bed-and-breakfast located in the residential neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Its homey features are all charming: an outdoor whirlpool and sun deck, a brick courtyard with a barbecue, and a large communal kitchen. The bright, luxurious rooms have big flat-screen TVs and hardwood floors, and some come complete with fireplaces.

Homiest Feature: The communal kitchen comes fully stocked with all of the snacks you can imagine, and the outdoor patio features a barbecue grill perfect for warm summer nights.  Read More »

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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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Forget the haunted house. Those looking for a ghostly encounter this Halloween can get up close and personal with departed spirits in the luxury of a hotel room. Because who says you shouldn’t have room service while you’re feeling spooked? These hotels across the country allegedly have some very active poltergeist activity – so prepare for some chills and thrills on your next overnight stay.

The Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Originally opened as a playground for the rich in 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables is not only luxurious and elegant, but is also believed to be quite haunted. The (unlucky) 13th floor served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when the hotel saw its first premature death: Gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed at a crowded party. Years later, the U.S. government bought the hotel and converted it into a hospital for World War II soldiers, where it saw countless more untimely passings. After being abandoned for several decades, the Biltmore re-opened in the 1980′s as a hotel, and ever since then guests have experienced unexplained noises and visions. The most chilling reports, however, come from those who get dropped off by the elevator on the 13th floor, even when that button is never pushed. Read More »

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A waterfront vacation doesn’t have to mean a trip to the beach. River locales, such as charming San Antonio or rugged Snoqualmie, offer plenty of the same draws as oceans and lakes. Flowing past some of America’s best cities, around mountain ranges, and through desserts, these rivers are the optimal alternative vacation spots for boating, fishing, hiking, and more while on vacation. So get ready to dive into our favorite river destinations.

1. May River in Bluffton, South Carolina 

The May River is just one corner of gorgeous Carolina Lowcountry.

Carolina Lowcountry is a truly other-worldly corner of the United States. Here, salty marshes and mossy forests are connected by scenic waterways. The May, Cooper, and New Rivers wind through the region’s haunting landscapes, providing visitors with unique ways to soak in the beauty of the region. Boating and kayaking are popular, especially since bottlenose dolphins are common in this area. You can also go fishing, crabbing, or shrimping.

STAY:  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate, offering a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming; plus, the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. Read More »

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Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

If there’s one word that can describe the ethereal beauty and warm ambiance of the South, it’s charming. And what better way to celebrate this corner of the United States than by reveling in a little bit of history during your visit? These mansions — most of them dating back to the 1800s — represent the epitome of Southern charm. So pack your bags and head for the Mason-Dixon Line: It’s time for some proper front porch sittin’.

 

 

 

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King Room at the Mansion on Forsyth Park; Savannah, GA

King Room at the Mansion on Forsyth Park; Savannah, GA

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Autograph Collection, which owns hotels such as the beautiful Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah, has a Facebook tool that analyzes your handwriting and recommends a holiday experience based on the findings.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A woman was arrested for spending the night on a couch in the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel‘s lobby.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Sharon Osbourne was caught vacationing at the Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas with a man that was not her husband.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? DoubleTree Hotels, a Hilton Hotels brand, has designed a clear vinyl hotel room complete with a bed, a bedside table, and a dresser. The company plans to open several pop-up, see-through hotels in New York, Sydney and London in 2013.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The FBI raided the Helly Nahmad Gallery at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York last week as part of an investigation into unlawful gambling.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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When you go on vacation, you’re trying to escape the everyday chores of home — and that includes cooking. But cooking can actually be fun, especially if you have a master chef offering instructions. Plus, the best part of going to a cooking class? You don’t have to do the cleanup! Check out awesome hotels across the States (and one in Berlin because, well, why not?!) that offer on-site cooking lessons.

Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah

700 Kitchen Cooking School at the Mansion on Forsyth Park

Savannah, where chefs such as Paula Deen got their starts, is arguably the food capital of the South. One of the city’s top luxury hotels, the Mansion on Forsyth also boasts one of the city’s top attractions: It’s on-site cooking classes at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School. In classes of no more than fifteen students, the hotel’s culinary director, Chef Darin Sehnert, teaches everyone from novices to (at least self-proclaimed) experts. Though different classes focus on a variety of cuisines, such as Italian and Caribbean, the most popular are the Low Country cuisine classes, where menus include delectable delights such as Low Country crab stew, angel biscuits, and green tomato cobbler. Classes are available for lunch and dinner; most last three hours and cost $100/person.

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