20Jun

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Vail

The Ritz Carlton Vail opened this past winter. It is a super-exclusive, members-only destination that features elegant Bavarian architecture and huge vacation condos within the amazing five star Ritz resort!

The Ritz Carlton Vail offers luxury vacation rentals in Vail, CO.

Ritz Carlton Vail

Design

Ski resort destinations are notorious for their outdated “Bavarian” style design – logs and plaid everywhere! Not at the Ritz Carlton Vail. It’s definitely alpine design, but done tastefully. They’ve used a neutral color palette, huge windows that let in lots of light, and rustic wood elements.

The Great Room lounge features huge bay windows and plush furniture that is perfect for relaxing. The Lobby Bar is ultra-cozy and dimly lit.

The Ritz Carlton Vail vacation condos offer spacious living rooms and dining rooms.

Ritz Carlton Vail Dining Room and Living Room

Members Only Vacation Condos

The Ritz Carlton Vail is a members-only destination comprised of Residence Club vacation condos. The Ritz Carlton Residence Club program is a fractional program, similar to a timeshare, but with deeded ownership in a specific unit. These condos are located within the resorts in addition to the hotel’s traditional accommodations of guest suites, and offer owners access to resort amenities. The Vail location, however, is Residence Club vacation condos only. That means you have to be part of the Club program, or rent from someone who is. There are plenty of vacation rental agencies who specialize in luxury vacation rentals to choose from.

Five Star Condos + Resort Amenities

For those of who who enjoy the extra space of vacation rentals (and TripAdvisor says that you do), the Ritz Carlton Vail is something to consider. These condos have spacious bedrooms (with walk-in closets!), fully equipped gourmet kitchens, elegant dining room, living room, washer/dryer, and powder room.

Guests also have the luxury of resort amenities, like a year-round heated pool, fitness center, spa, lounge, and on-site dining. Hotel services are also provided, including twice daily maid service, room service, 24 hour concierge, ski nanny, ski concierge, and Ritz Kids Program.

The Ritz Carlton Vail offers Club guests resort amenities, including a year-round heated pool.

Ritz Carlton Vail pool

Location, Location, Location!

Vail is one of North America’s premier ski destinations whose fame is only surpassed by Aspen. The Ritz Carlton Vail is right in the heart of this charming and luxurious town. There is fine dining, shopping, and nightlife just steps away!

17Jun

Top 10 Best Flea Markets in France

The Porte de Vanves flea market in Paris is one of the best flea markets in France.

Porte de Vanves flea market

France has amazing flea markets, filled with vintage and antique furniture, kitchenware, paintings, vintage clothing, books, and home decor. It’s the perfect opportunity to shop for travel souvenirs and unique items to decorate your home!

1. Port de Vanves in Paris

This is known as one of France’s best flea markets, appreciated for its size and variety of items. Every Saturday and Sunday, 300 vendors sell items from France and beyond until 1pm.

Finds: Paintings, ceramics, 60s/70s era items, vintage clothing

2. Cours Saleya in Nice

Every Monday from the morning through mid-afternoon in sunny Nice, 200 vendors congregate to sell high-end collectibles. Although most finds here are pricey, you can find bargains at the adjacent Pierre Gauthier market.

Finds: Silver, vintage clothing, ceramics from Monaco and Vallaris, rustic wood items, and jewelry

3. Braderie de Lille

This is the best flea market in Europe and is held once a year in September. Thousands of vendors gather from Saturday morning through midnight on Sunday. Millions of visitors come from all over to shop.

Finds: Everything!

4. Annecy in Vieux Quartier

This is the most picturesque flea market in France, although smaller. The items reflect the town’s position as the gateway to the Alps. It is held on the last Saturday of the month.

Finds: Paintings, wooden chests, armoires, milk jugs, ski equipment

5. Villeurbanne in Lyon

Every Sunday morning 400 vendors join to create one of the biggest flea markets in France.

Finds: Rustic collectibles, kitchenware, furniture, copperware

6. Allees Jules Guesde in Toulouse

This flea market is held on the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of each month. Toulouse is a great place to visit and enjoy the pink medieval buildings and theme park dedicated to space exploration.

Finds: Books, military memorabilia, African art, fine French porcelain

7. The Porte de Clingnancourt

This is a combination of 12 flea markets, held every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There are thousands of stalls that offer all kinds of collectibles.

Finds: Marche Vernaison on Rue des Rosiers offers kitchenware, books, and table lamps. Marche Daupin features market jewelry and ornate antique furniture.

8. Boulevard Beranger in Tours

This flea market is held once a month in the “Garden of France.” There are about 150 stalls. Once you’re done exploring the market, enjoy Tours, where you will find amazing architecture, vineyards, and botanical gardens.
Finds: Fine French porcelain, books, furniture.

9. Place Viarme in Narites

About 100 vendors set up shop along the Brittany cost. This picturesque location on the Atlantic coast is a great place to spend the day shopping for travel souvenirs.

Finds: Vintage nautical memorabilia

10. L’espace Mosson in Montpellier

Every Sunday in the far south of France. There are food stalls with delicious snacks of merguez and andouillette sausages.

Finds: Antique and vintage furniture, blue and white enamelware, paintings, and pottery.

15Jun

Luxury Travel in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are known for their unique wildlife.

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are known for their exotic wildlife. It’s a great place to take kids or go on a secluded romantic vacation.

Children love the animals found on the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Islands are great for kids

The Islands are an archipelago, a string of 6 islands formed by large volcanic domes fused together. It is one of the most volcanically active places on earth! Isabela is the largest island, but still only has 2000 inhabitants, most of which are fishermen.

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago.

The Galapagos Islands are a string of 6 islands, formed from volcanic domes.

The Islands were discovered accidentally by Spain when a ship went off course. It was thought to be worthless because of the rocky terrain, but has been used as a pirate hideout and food source. Whalers ate about 200,000 tortoises and wiped out an entire sub-species. Charles Darwin made the island famous when he discovered natural selection, and on the 100th anniversary of Origin of Species the Charles Darwin Research Station was created.

There are 15 sub-species of tortoise found on the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos Islands have a large tortoise population

The tortoises on the Galapagos Islands are large.

The tortoises are huge!!

Now the Galapagos Islands are a huge tourist attraction for wildlife enthusiasts. There are some truly unique variations of animals to be found here. The Galapagos penguins, red-billed tropical birds, waved albatross, blue footed boobies, Galapagos finches, giant tortoises, and fur sea lions are just a few!

The Galapagos Islands has lots of sea lions

Galapagos Islands sea lions

The Galapagos Islands are home to blue footed boobies.

Galapagos Islands Blue Footed Boobies

Where to stay: The Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge

This beautiful lodge is located just steps from the ocean on Santa Cruz, the most important of the inhabited Galapagos Islands. The town there, Puerto Ayora, is the largest town with 15000 residents. The lodge was designed to blend with the mangrove forest and seafront that surround it. It offers the best views of the bay and two seaside restaurants.

The Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge on the Galapagos Islands.

Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge, Galapagos Islands.

14Jun

Pros and Cons of All-Inclusive Resorts

All-inclusive resorts are popular accommodations.

“All-inclusive” sounds great, but is it actually all-inclusive? Chances are, probably not. And while there are some great things about all-inclusive resorts, there are some not-so-great things as well. Of course, they all vary and there are a few luxury resorts out there that do it right. Keep these pros and cons in mind when you’re trying to make your decision.

PROS

You don’t have to use your brain. Your stay will truly be stress-free. The resort has made all the decisions for you – meals and activities are predetermined. This can be especially beneficial for honeymooners who are burnt out from wedding madness.

Stay within budget. Paying upfront helps a lot of people avoid encountering a bigger bill than expected upon checkout.

It’s actually pretty cheap. Do the math – break down what you ate, accommodations and activities and you’ll find it’s actually a great deal.

No tipping allowed. Well, it’s allowed. And definitely appreciated… but you don’t have to and they can’t make you!

Everything is easily accessible. You don’t have to use your brain or your legs. You’ll find that mostly everything you need can be found in the resort.

Included activities. Most all-inclusives have tennis, snorkeling, private beaches and more that are included in the cost.

Amazing scenery. All-inclusive resorts are known for their picturesque locations. If you are meant to stay in the resort, it had better be beautiful!

CONS

The term “all-inclusive” is open to interpretation. Your stay will be all-inclusive… oh, except for spa treatments, salon services, and sometimes *gasp* alcohol!!

Bad food. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but many all-inclusive resorts pack their menu or buffet with starchy, filling, inexpensive foods. The restaurants may also have strict hours, making it difficult for you to eat late at night or between meals.

Cheap alcohol. If the alcohol is included, prepare yourself for some pretty mighty hangovers the next day.

Biased staff. The staff may only be recommending you an off-site tour operator, restaurant, or store because they receive a kickback. If their recommendations feel touristy and lack a certain mom-and-pop feel, this may be the case. Try to ask specifically for places the locals would go to get the real scoop.

I can’t get out! You might feel a little stuck within the resort. Maybe it’s because you paid for everything there and don’t want to go over budget with off-site activities, or maybe it’s because you’re in the middle of nowhere. Try to choose a resort that is close to an interesting town so you can venture off the resort and experience the local culture.

Lame entertainment. No casinos and a general lack of entertainment or just poorly done entertainment is a frequent complaint.

No shopping. How long can it take you to walk through the resort gift shop? Like five minutes. That’s not real shopping! Where are the local artisans? Where are the high end boutiques that sell things you love for less??!

I think while writing this I made my decision… how about you?

10Jun

Glamping

Glamour + Camping = Glamping!

I’m not a camping enthusiast by any means, but when I heard about glamping I discovered the only way I would ever entertain the idea. Glamping is the old fashioned, luxury version of camping with a modern twist. There is actual furniture and a focus on comfort. What we just recently learned about as glamping has actually been the cornerstone of the African safari circuit for ages.

You still have to do outdoor stuff like hiking, fishing, and kayaking, but you get to return to a designer tent with a real bed, rugs, and better protection from bugs and wild animals. Some glamping resorts have bathrooms in the tents, or separate bathroom facilities close by. These high-end campsites features teepees, yurts, or treehouses.

Glamping is a popular, luxury version of camping.

Glamping

Glamping is a more luxurious way to go camping.

Glamping

Some glamping resorts feature yurts instead of tents.

Glamping in a yurt

Categories: Leisure,Luxury Travel
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9Jun

Underground Supper Clubs

Underground supper clubs often have a theme, like A Razor, A Shiny Knife's "A Stark Meal."

Underground Supper Club by A Razor, A Shiny Knife

Underground supper clubs have been around for a few years, but have just recently become mainstream. They are typically started by foodies throwing dinner parties for their friends and evolving from there, or by chefs between restaurants who throw dinner events in warehouses or lofts. These events are an opportunity for foodies to share their cooking skills with friends, or for chefs to experiment with creative cuisine that they wouldn’t be able to serve in a restaurant. Since supper clubs are independent and have more freedom than restaurants, they are able to work with farmer’s markets and other local, sustainable food sources.

One of the most appealing things about a supper club is the mystery and adventure. Diners usually don’t know where the dinner will be held until a few days prior. There are passwords, secret websites, exclusive invitations and mailing lists that fuel the mystery. Unusual settings or themes add to the fun. RogueApron of Atlanta threw an Alice in Wonderland themed party in a beautiful garden setting, with a Mad Hatter host and house-made strawberry-celery hooch. ONCE of Boston threw a Viking party in the Somerville Armory, and A Razor, A Shiny Knife regularly throws glamorous events in unique places in big cities like NYC, Chicago, and LA. The most interesting installment I’ve seen by far has to be by A Razor, A Shiny Knife, who threw a 6-course lunch on the L Train in NYC.

Underground supper club A Razor, A Shiny Knife, held a 6-course Sunday lunch on the L train in NYC.

A Razor, A Shiny Knife 6-course L Train Sunday Lunch

The popular NYC supper club, A Razor, A Shiny Knife, hosted a surprise lunch on the L train.

A Razor, A Shiny Knife L Train Sunday Lunch

A Razor, A Shiny Knife threw a six course lunch on the L train in NYC.

A Razor, A Shiny Knife L Train Sunday Lunch

Supper clubs are a great way to socialize and meet people in your area. They can be small, from 6 people, to 70 or 80 people. It’s a lot like a formal dinner party at a friend’s house, and since you often have to know someone to get on the list, there’s a good chance of running into friends or acquaintances.

There is also an interactive aspect. You can see what’s being made by the chefs, and they may even let you prepare or plate a dish. Lots of these chefs also offer cooking classes, which might be separate from the dinner events. Check their websites to see the schedule.

The level of fanciness and professionalism does vary. Supper clubs have gotten more savvy, innovative and professional as of late. A Razor, A Shiny Knife utilizes molecular gastronomy techniques and cooks with liquid nitrogen and fancy machinery.  Others are in the style of a home cooked meal using ingredients from the Farmer’s Market and simple cooking techniques.

One thing people may find unsettling about a supper club is that you don’t know what will be on the menu, but I think that’s part of the fun. The “donation” seems to bother people as well – being asked to donate what you think the meal is worth at the end is a bit unsettling. Many clubs will just ask you to pay upfront when you purchase the tickets, which I think is the best way.

Supper clubs can be found in major cities, typically ones that are known for their cuisine. This list consists of the best supper clubs I’ve found online that I would love to visit! Going to a supper club is an awesome idea when you’re visiting a city as you can get a totally different, “underground” perspective.

NYC

- A Razor, A Shiny Knife
- Ted and Amy Supper Club
- New York Bite Club
- Apt4 Food & Wine
- City Grit
- The Sunday Night Dinner

Boston

- Wink Supper Club (there is no website…they are the most mysterious!)
- Chef Louie Night
- O.N.C.E. (One Night Culinary Events)
- Anemochory
- Washburn Underground Kitchen

Atlanta

- Staplehouse
- RogueApron
- For Food’s Sake
- Souper Jenny
- Curry Cravings

San Francisco

- Brassica Supper Club
- Du Jour Dining
- graffEats Guerilla Dining
- Lazy Bear
- Mission Gastropub (14 person beer dinner)
- The Phoenix Supper Club
- Radio Africa & Kitchen
- Stag Dining Group
- Sub Culture Dining
- Wild Kitchen

Chicago

- Clandestino
- Valerie Bolon’s Culinary Speakeasy
- One Sister Inc.
- Sunday Dinner
- Wandering Goat
- Bonsoirée
- X-Marx Chicago
- Hush

To view even more supper clubs throughout the country, click here.

3Jun

Anne Patrone’s Dream Destination

With us today is Anne Petrone of 500 Places With Kids. Stay tuned for her family-focused guidebook of 50 fabulous trips covering all of North America!

What is your dream destination, and who would you take with you?

 

The Greek Isles are a great place for a family vacation

Greek Isles

My “dream” destination is a sun-drenched cruise through the Greek Islands on a small yacht with my husband and two sons.  I can’t imagine a better family vacation that incorporates lots of sun, good food, and tons of history and culture.  I can just picture my family exploring the museums and archaeological ruins on Crete or Rhodes in the early morning, then heading off to their beaches to relax in the hot afternoon.  At night, we’d find some local taverna and make a meal out of mezes (light appetizers) before sailing away on a small ship to our next island.  Sounds like paradise . . .

 

Santorini is one of the most popular Greek Islands.

Santorini, Greece

Mykonos is one of the most popular Greek islands.

Mykonos, Greece

Crete is the largest Greek island.

Crete, Greece

The Greek Isles are a collection of over 6000 islands and islets, the largest of which is Crete. Visitors can go island hopping and experience the history, food, and beaches of several islands. Among the most popular are Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini. I love Mykonos especially, it has amazing beaches, nightlife, food and shopping!

1Jun

CanCan’s Dream Destination

We asked CanCan from Mom Most Traveled about her Dream Destination. CanCan is an educator and a mother of two, and her blog has great tips for mothers traveling with kids! Follow her on Twitter at @MomMostTraveled

Where is your dream destination and accommodations?

I would like to go to Kerala, India because of the beautiful landscape and delicious regional cuisine. If I had the chance to go, i would bring my two young sons! I saw a neat tree house hotel they would love to stay in with me!

The Vythiri Resort is a tree top resort in Kerala, India

Vythiri Resort

The Vythiri Resort has tree top cottages in India.

Vythiri Resort Tree Top Guest Cottage

The guest cottages at the Vythiri Resort feature private balconies.

Vythiri Resort Guest Cottage Porch View

Kerala is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and National Geographic named it one of the “Ten Paradises of the World,” and “50 Places of a Lifetime.” Kerala is known for its tropical greenery, beaches and Ayurvedic treatments. It is also home to some amazing tree top resorts, which are typically built between two trees 85 feet off the ground.