Winter only just arrived and already, people are talking about how they can’t wait to escape sub-zero temperatures and paralyzing blizzards.
Allow us to provide you with this eye candy which we hope warms your soul and motivates you to plan your next trip… to Bali!
Today we’re featuring the St. Regis Bali for its luxurious elegance, beachfront location, and first class service. We can’t forget to mention that there’s a two-story wine cellar and a resort sommelier! So, don’t forget to make reservations at Kayuputi, a fusion restaurant featuring flavors from around the world with delectable vegetarian options.
The Strand Villa is a one bedroom suite decorated Balinese style with splashes of color, high ceilings, wood floors, and comfortable lounge furniture complete with throw pillows.
The suite comes complete with a private garden — perfect for reading or honeymoon R&R — as well as direct beach access.
Relax by your own private pool or enjoy a romantic dinner in the Bale Bengong, an Indonesian style gazebo and table.
Are you ready to escape to Bali?
The Queen Mary has been a legend since her maiden voyage in 1936, providing guests with luxury accommodations while keeping up with modern times.
She has played a pivotal role in not only the tourism industry, but in world history.
Taller than both the Washington Monument and Eiffel Tower, the Queen Mary has transported the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as well as Sir Winston Churchill during World War II.
Its First-Class Dining Room, at the time, was the largest public room ever built aboard a ship and the state-of-the-art swimming pool could be filled in 25 minutes.
In other words, the Queen Mary was the epitome of luxury back in the day. Fortunately, nothing has changed.
Now owned by the City of Long Beach, the ship is permanently docked along the waterfront and has continued to be a first-class tourist attraction, hosting visitors from around the world.
Whether you’re a native Southern Californian or only have a few days in the Los Angeles area, the Queen Mary is definitely worth a visit whether overnight, for dinner, cocktails, or a spooky ghost tour.
People have died on the Queen Mary after all… [cue scary ghost music]
Hotel guests experience Queen Mary staterooms in their original splendor with original woodwork and floor plans. However, modern amenities such as remodeled bathrooms and flat screen TVs meet today’s demanding standards.
Choose a deluxe stateroom or live in a suite once reserved for royalty or VIPs. Either way, you’re literally living history when you stay aboard the Queen Mary.
Check the rates for your Los Angeles stay, because you might just find a better deal here than on land!
Dining aboard the ship, I would imagine, isn’t any different than back in the day. The menu is top notch and the waiters treat you like a First- Class passenger.
Sir Winston’s Restaurant offers both a decadent menu as well as nice views in an intimate setting. Just be sure to ask for the best view when you make your reservations!
The soon-to-be remodeled Chelsea Restaurant, on the other hand, offers a slightly more informal setting and will be famous for their seafood chowder soon enough. Mark my words!
If you’re short on time or only want a quick drink, the Art Deco Observation Bar is a great alternative and a Southern California landmark, not to be missed.
I’d ask the bartender for a house suggestion and let him make you the perfect cocktail to accompany with the breathtaking views and a (hopefully) gorgeous sunset.
The Queen Mary offers tours for those who either wish for a sneak peak or want to know more in-depth about the ship’s history.
Those who love a good ghost story mixed with Disney-like special effects will love the Ghosts & Legends Tour. Your guide walks you through the history of the ship before leading you through the dark, damp lower reaches of the ship… to scare you to death!
Other tours include the World War II Tour (The Queen Mary played a very important role during this time), Twilight Historical Tour, Dining with the Spirits, or a Self Guided Audio Tour.
Various types of events are hosted on the QM throughout the year, so be sure to keep checking the events calendar. Their first-ever Dinner with the Winemakers featured food and wine from South Africa and a lucky person walked away with roundtrip plane tickets to South Africa!
This 4th of July, the ship is celebrating ‘BBQ, Brews and Reds, White & Blue.’ An all-day rocking good time including a live DJ, bands, and delicious food (Note: Champagne Sunday Brunch!) hopefully won’t sink this ship!
We picked up some swag on the recent Queen Mary Media Fam Tour and we’d like to give it to you! We have a QM mug and a few other small goodies, so here’s how to win:
- Post your favorite water picture on Facebook at Facebook.com/TravelPlusWine
- Retweet this article
Double your chances by doing both! Winner must have a United States mailing address and will be drawn at random on Thursday, June 10, 2010. Good luck!
UPDATE: The contest has been extended through the weekend. Winners will be chosen Monday, June 14, 2010. Contest closes at 9pm PST.
Staying in shape while traveling is a challenge for both business and pleasure trips.
You’re out of a normal routine, jet lag is killer, or perhaps you’re not staying in an area conducive to outdoor fitness. Whatever the reason, it’s way too easy to say no to exercise while traveling and it’s unfortunately too easy to say yes to those extra calories!
Here are a few ideas to help you stay fit and healthy while traveling:
1. Pack Resistance Bands. They don’t take up too much room and a lot of times, if you’ve gone to the trouble of carrying them all the way there, you’ll have to use them! Resistance Bands can be used from the comfort of even the smallest hotel rooms. Well, almost!
2. Inquire within the hotel. Big name hotels are helping people like us stay fit while traveling. Download a Sheraton Travel Training Program, order in-room exercise kits at the Omni, or hop on a treadmill in the hotel fitness center at a place like the Marriott. Sometimes hotels will even have special deals with nearby gyms, so check at the concierge desk for details.
3. Connect with locals who love what you love. Groups like GoTribal have branches all over the United States for women who love triathlons. Before you travel, check with the branch leader to see if they have anything going on while you’re in town. In addition to a great workout, you’ll meet some phenomenal folks who just might become great friends or, at the very least, give you an awesome must-see list while you’re in town! Who knows, maybe you’ll see them at the next big competition!
4. Use MapMyRun. Not sure where to run? All you have to do is type in the city name and several running maps will pop up along with the mileage and description.
5. Pack an exercise DVD. Chances are, you’re bringing your laptop or iPad along anyway, so you might as well throw in a DVD. Exercise videos like Pompilates help keep you toned and firm in only 15 minutes. We all have a few minutes, right?
We want to know: How do you stay in shape when you travel? Do you workout when on the road?
(photo via SheKnows)
The Hotel: Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa
The Location: When we’re visiting wine country, we want to stay somewhere boasting location, location, location.
Located in close proximity to downtown Napa (by car) and a skip away from Highway 29, the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa is nestled at the southern end of the valley. Hwy 29, by the way, is main road running through Napa Valley wine country.
A trip to the wineries is quick and easy; simply hop on the highway and drive north. Within minutes, you’ll be awe-struck as you drive past never-ending vineyards, many of which you’ll recognize (Robert Mondavi or St. Supéry, anyone?)!
We found the Napa Marriott Hotel to be a great place to unwind after an arduous day tasting so many wonderful wines.
California casual and very laid-back means there was nothing pretentious or snobby about the hotel.
It was each to his/her own as couples and families alike quietly relaxed beneath the shady porches as they dissected their day.
Some even connected with other guests to pass along handy Napa wine tasting tips.
There’s a $7 million renovation happening as the Napa Marriott brings their 247 rooms up-to-date.
We stayed in the renovated part of the hotel which was elegantly modern and very comfortable.
Our spacious junior suite was a fabulous break from the real world… as if just being in Napa wasn’t already enough.
The suite is comprised of a bathroom (with 2 doors), bedroom, living room area, and a wet bar/kitchenette that has a fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, and sink.
Let’s not forget to mention ample storage space with two large closets… I like to think of it somewhere to store all that wine so it doesn’t sit in your car!
Typical of Marriott hotels, our King-sized cloud in the sky (the bed) gave me the best nights of sleep I had in weeks. The mattress was cushy and the bedding out-of-this-world.
I’ve never been inclined to actually buy what they sell in those hotel catalogs, but I’m seriously contemplating the down comforter and duvet.
Each morning I’d step into the hotel slippers, wrap myself in the plush bathrobe, brew a cup of coffee, and read the paper on the couch before making my way to the Concierge Lounge for breakfast.
Oh, the life!
If you really want to know… The bathroom was big (sorry, no Jacuzzi tub to brag about) and the Bath & Body products smelled divine.
If you need to dry your hair, you won’t find one of those sorry-excuse-for-a-hair-dryer things permanently mounted next to the sink. Instead, check in the closet and you’ll find a real hairdryer with real power and a retractable cord (oh so up-to-date!) hanging in its own black bag. This may not sound like a big deal, but if you have a lot of hair, it’ll make you a happy camper when time is precious in the morning.
Concierge Lounge: If you can upgrade to get Concierge Lounge access, it’ll be well worth the money by breakfast! Not only is the lounge a great place to relax, they also serve:
- Continental breakfast- Eggs, oatmeal, delicious fruit, and fresh squeezed orange juice are a few of the highlights.
- Wine and appetizers- If you don’t get enough wine visiting the vineyards, they serve wines (from Beaulieu Vineyards when we visited) along with cheeses and a different featured dish each night (one night it was pasta with a chicken marinara sauce).
- Dessert- Stop by before you go to bed for some sweets (chocolate cake both nights during our stay), fresh strawberries, popcorn, or pretzels.
- Always available- Bottled water, sodas, Starbucks coffee, and Tazo tea.
There’s also a pool area, fitness center, and the world-class Spa at Napa Valley Marriott. Check out our video for more…
This article complements our post Top 10 Things To Do in Florence, Italy.
Here are five simple, yet helpful tips to help you better enjoy your time in Florence.
Currency Exchange – How to get a better deal?
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy Euros for your trip.
Monitor the prices in advance and always check and compare currency exchange rates from different sources so you can get a better deal.
The newspaper, your local bank, and online sites are great sources to keep an eye on currency rates.
Once in Florence, there are several places to exchange money, but be forewarned they are incredibly expensive and charge outrageous commissions. My suggestion: avoid them completely, especially the airport and the exchange booths around the historic area.
If you must buy Euros while in Florence, you will get the most reasonable rates at local banks.
Watch SeeTen in your hotel or apartment
SeeTen is a great 24-hour TV channel in both English & Italian that features excellent travel advice focused on Florence and the beautiful Tuscan surroundings.
This fun, dynamic channel teaches you a lot about Florence’s history, arts, and culture.
Star reporter Chiara Valentini will give you the latest information on museum exhibits, itineraries, and other fun activities to do around Florence.
Shopping: What to buy?
Since Florence is such an artistic city, buy art. There are many art galleries that offer beautiful sculptures and paintings. Some of the popular styles are Italian Renaissance and Tuscan landscapes.
Florence is also known for its top quality leather goods.
The open markets are very popular and you can find all types of leather products such as bags, shoes, belts, purses, boots, and jackets.
Don’t be afraid of bargaining, it is expected. But bring cash since most open markets don’t accept credit cards.
There are also small boutique shops and brand-name stores for those looking to dress la Moda Italiana.
Where to stay?
There are many options in Florence and knowing where to stay might just depend on how long you are planning to be there.
If you are visiting Florence for one or two days, book a hotel.
However, if you are visiting for a week or more, I strongly suggest renting an apartment.
Renting an apartment might save you money since you can buy groceries and cook at home instead of dining out all the time. Most apartments are fully furnished with everything you need in the kitchen.
A Great Restaurant – il Porcospino
If you are celebrating a special occasion, I recommend dining at Trattoria & Wine Bar il Porcospino, located in the historic center and specializing in Tuscan cuisine.
They also have a very good selection of the best Tuscan wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, and Nobile di Montepulciano… but their vino della casa (house wine) is very good and reasonably priced.
If you have been to Florence and have more tips, please comment here. Or if you have any questions regarding your trip, please let us know. We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can. Buon Viaggio!