Tucson

It happens every year — suddenly it’s May and you have no idea what to do for Mother’s Day. Again. Brunch is handy and easy, and you know she will appreciate you spending some time with her. But how about you surprise her with something different this year? Whether she’s outdoorsy, artsy or just downright stressed out, we’ve got you covered. Check out our top picks for Mother’s Day and make her feel special! You’re welcome in advance.

If Mom is outdoorsy…

PLAN: Play a round of golf (and let her win)
STAY:
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Sonoma County

Sonoma Golf Club at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa; Sonoma County, CA

Fore! Tiger's got nothing on mom this Sunday.

Housed in a Spanish mission-style building, the upscale Fairmont Sonoma is perfect for some pampering and golf days. It boasts an 18-hole championship golf course, a top-notch spa complete with its own thermal mineral spring, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Round up the day with the free daily wine tastings, and then head to one of the hotel’s homey rooms for some rest.

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Lobby at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, Singapore

Lobby at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, Singapore

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT?  Back in 1942, soldiers who took part in the Japanese occupation of Singapore found guests at the Raffles Hotel Singapore dancing one final waltz before the property was seized.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas both feature a technology that allows guests to order drinks from the slot machines

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A hotel in Finland is seeking professional sleepers to test the sleep quality of their newly renovated rooms.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? New York’s Yotel just launched a zip line that takes guests straight to Times Square from the hotel’s rooftop. The service is included in the nightly rate.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Upscale organic supermarket Whole Foods just announced the purchase of Canyon Ranch in Tucson. The hotel will be the first Whole Foods Hotel, and will have a focus on health, weight loss and cholesterol reduction.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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The Ocean Crystal Wedding Chapel at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort

When it comes to destination weddings, the options can seem endless (and exhausting). Couples can choose to wed beachside or poolside, in the woods or atop a mountain. But sometimes sticking to tradition can be just the ticket, even if you are in an exotic locale. That’s why many hotels around the globe offers gorgeous chapels for nuptials. We picked some of our favorites for saying “I do,” so get the wedding marches ready: It’s time to walk down the aisles of our favorite hotel chapels.

 

 

 

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We met the guys of Delta Spirit at Austin City Limits just a few weeks ago and were instantly hooked on the band’s modern take on rock music. Currently on tour (catch them in San Diego tonight), the band spends plenty of time on the road and share our love — and extensive knowledge of — travel. So we caught up with the group’s lead singer, Matt Vasquez, for a little Q&A to get his take on what makes (and breaks) a vacation. Check it out after the jump!

The band is on tour through January 2013.

The band is on tour through January 2013.

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Oyster Decodes Hotel Points Programs is a new series where we break down hotel rewards programs and give you the inside scoop on how they can save you money.
 
Hotel point programs are not always easy to decipher, and sometimes even we (travel experts, after all) feel we need a guide to understand how they work. But it’s worth the effort it takes to decode: All are free to join, and more often than not, end up saving travelers a significant amount of cash. This week, we’re biting the bullet and starting with cracking the Marriott rewards program, which is one of the most difficult to navigate as guests can redeem their points at over 3,600 locations worldwide across 12 distinctive brands.
 
Marriott properties are divided into eight categories — depending on the hotel brand, location and type — and five tiers.  Members can earn up to 10 points for every dollar spent at Marriott hotels, as well as at Marriott’s partner airlines and rental car companies, which include Hertz, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic. They can then redeem the points earned on hotels, airlines and other services. While advantages of joining the program are numerous, the system is not always straightforward, so we’ve selected some of our favorite hotels in each category and tier where, for a certain number of points (starting at 70,000), you can enjoy a one night stay in a standard room. Start redeeming those points!

Tier 5: 70,000 points

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong - Hong Kong, China

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

Only a few hotels in Hong Kong deliver the Ritz-Carlton’s level of luxury. Large rooms feature decadent touches, such as plush beds with 400- to 600-thread count linens, iPods and iPod docks, Nespresso coffeemakers, and high-end toiletries. The hotel is set on floors 102 to 118 of Hong Kong’s tallest building, and while acrophobes may not appreciate being this far from the ground, the height does make for breathtaking views — that is, when the sky is clear. Highlights include a stylish indoor pool, sleek gym, and top-notch spa. The Ritz-Carlton is connected to a great shopping mall and corporate offices, and also offers easy access to the airport train and the MTR. However, its location in an up-and-coming business area west of Tsim Sha Tsui is a bit out of the way for leisure travelers.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Nicknamed Valley of the Sun, Phoenix is known for its sub-tropical desert climate, where temperatures can skyrocket beyond 100° Fahrenheit in the summer. With a host of museums and galleries, top-notch Tex-Mex cuisine, and cactus-dotted landscape, Arizona’s state capital is one of the most unique metropolises in the country. But the city’s 4.2 million residents need to venture out every once in a while and take advantage of myriad vacations spots within (somewhat-reasonable) driving distance. So pack your bags, crank the A.C., and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Phoenix to Sedona, AZ

  • Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 117 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You need a spiritual re-awakening.
Sedona

The iconic red rock formations of Sedona are surrounded by natural energy forces known as vortexes.

Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa

The Rouge Hotel offers visitors a world-class stay in an incredible setting.

Bell Rock Inn

The Bell Rock offers a family-friendly atmosphere for those with kids in tow.

With its iconic Red Rock landscape and spiritually-charged environment, Sedona is an other-worldly paradise for earthbound explorers. The city is practically ensconced by endless hiking trails, and has four vortexes — natural energy fields said to possess mystical powers. But Sedona is also a blossoming cultural center, filled with eclectic local galleries, Native American craft shops, and indie boutiques. For a truly indulgent experience, check out the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. The property boasts incredible vistas of the Rocks from the fire pit on the observation deck, as well as from the private, in-room balconies. But the hotel’s real draw is the lavish spa, with treatments inspired by the vortexes and daily outdoor yoga classes. For a no-frills yet family-friendly stay, the Bell Rock Inn is a great budget option that still has the scenery and amenities necessary for a proper Sedona stay. The inn has two heated pools, a BBQ and picnic area, and an outdoor playground for kids, all with the same magnificent views of the rocks.

  • Top Driving Tip: Jerome, a 30-mile detour on the trip to Sedona, is about 45 miles outside of your final destination. Past the Old West ruins, this legendary ghost town is actually home to a thriving winery owned and operated by the frontman for the heavy metal band Tool.

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View from the Westward Look Resort -- Tucson

View from the Westward Look Resort -- Tucson

The Westward Look is Tucson’s oldest resort and one of its most popular. Occupying 80 acres in the desert foothills of north Tucson, the resort features stunning panoramas of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The grounds include a hummingbird and butterfly garden, nature path, and a meditation labyrinth, but perhaps most popular are the resort’s three pools, which use saline water instead of chlorine. The horseback rides, hiking trails, eight tennis courts, and basketball and volleyball courts are also big draws, with the one thing missing here being a golf course. A focus on nature is apparent, from the native plants that are incorporated into treatments at the Sonoran Spa to the chef’s garden that provides fresh ingredients for the resort’s GOLD restaurant. Couples and families will love this peaceful oasis, where they can relax in the large rooms, bask in the sun, and explore the surrounding area. Check out more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

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