News & Views of the Week

 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL OF THE FATHER'S THAT WILL SEE OUR DEALS AND STEALS PRESENTATION.

We hope that those ties don't make a come back right?  And we hope that you will all see our Father's in a special light today and always.

Mom's and Dad's are a special team in all of our lives and while we do take pause and give Mom her day in May we also give Dad his day in June.

Do something special for the Dad in your life if at all possible.   

Now let's move on to the Deals and Steals that a lot of you look forward to.

 

Deals and Steals

 

Our email listing various travel deals both for land and cruise vacations.

This week we feature touring around Scandinavia, the land of Europe's midnight sun.  
 

European North: Scandinavian Dreams

 
Christmas Markets

Starting At: $ 6345.00

Europe at Christmas transforms into a happy hive of activity as markets spring to life in every town and market square. From charming villages to great cultural centers, you can look forward to the hum and buzz of Christmas, as treats and toys, charms and trinkets of every description come out in a joyful display. This is a tradition that has changed very little across the centuries. In many places, the delicacies and decorations still take a very traditional form, and you&...
 
Iceland - Glaciers, Volcanoes, Mountains and Fjords

Starting At: $ 6800.00

 
 
6 Day Northern Lights Discovery

Starting At: $ 4524.00

Witness the magical Northern Lights, one of nature's most stirring natural phenomena, from one of the best vantage points. Explore the northern city of Akureyri, quirky Reykjavík, the Golden Circle, and more.
 
7 Day Ice Hotel Winter Adventure in Lapland

Starting At: $ 3794.00

Discover pristine wilderness in Sweden's Lapland, some 200km north of the Arctic circle as you stay in the whimsical Ice Hotel. Constructed and sculpted in Ice, this property is truly a unique setting for a winter wonderland escape!
 
8 Day Norway Discovery

Starting At: $ 4192.00

Let the storybook beauty of the Bergen Railway flood your senses as Norway's famous high-altitude train glides past pristine river valleys, across towering ancient bridges and climbs steeply into pristine snow-capped mountains. 
 
Reykjavik Lights Hotel Vacation Package

Starting At: $ 435.00

Hotel Transfers
3-Night Accommodations
 
12 Day Fjords and Capitals of Scandinavia

Starting At: $ 7164.00

A Scandinavian sojourn, exploring the impressive capitals and fjords of Finland, Stockholm, Norway and Copenhagen.
 
Highlights of Iceland

Starting At: $ 11040.00

Explore the pastures of Akureyri to learn about local history and culture at a farm and artists? workshops, followed by a herring boat adventure along the scenic North Atlantic coastline. Travel the volcanic terrain of the south shore, through small villages and fertile farmland surrounded by ice-capped volcanoes. View spectacular waterfalls and walk the ice field of the Sólheimajökull Glacier. Tour the thermal wonderland of the Golden Circle route by 4X4 beside hot springs, waterfalls, and s...
 
Iceland Across the Wilderness

Starting At: $ 4675.00

 
 
Ultimate Iceland Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 5886.25

Roam through desolate landscapes and extraordinary natural wonders following in the footsteps of mighty Viking explorers. Iceland is a wonderland of fjords and waterfalls, geysers and glaciers. Explore the quirky capital, Reykjavik, cross the largest mass of lava to have ever flowed on the face of the earth and bathe in the healing waters of the geothermal Blue Lagoon. Last Minute Deal: Must book by 2018-06-16
 
Northern Highlights & The Arctic Circle

Starting At: $ 2819.00

16 Days, featuring: Lillehammer-oslo
 
Best of Norway NEW Best of Norway NEW

Starting At: $ 3250.00

Tales of Vikings and trolls await on this epic journey through Norway's ethereal natural splendour. Encounter the 'King' and 'Queen' of the Fjords, Olympic triumphs and the trading heritage of the Hanseatics as you answer the call of Norway's untamed wilderness and embrace Scandinavian sophistication
 
Best Of Norway

Starting At: $ 2209.00

7 Days, featuring: Flåm-myrdal-voss-hardangerfjord
 
Cossack Explorer Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 2395.00

The landmarks of Northern Europe are on display as you weave through Scandinavia, Belarus and Poland with a visit to Russia's imperial capitals of St. Petersburg and Moscow along the way.
 
Grand Scandinavia (Summer 2018)

Starting At: $ 6175.00

Sail the Baltic Sea, crossing rolling tundra and glassy fjords in your search for the midnight sun, all the while enjoying the local culture, history and striking scenery.
 
Norwegian Coastal Voyage & Scandinavian Capitals
 
Starting At: $ 6099.00

See the best of Scandinavia, a land of spectacular fjords, waterfalls, mountains and glaciers. Explore Stockholm's deep history your way with a choice of a guided city tour or a walking tour of Old Town (Gamla Stan), a maze of charming streets lined with colorful townhouses. Spend time in Denmark, "Scandinavia's greatest little kingdom." See why Copenhagen is Northern Europe's coziest capital. Norway is indeed one of the most beautiful places on earth, and home to many natural wonders, stunni...
 
The Northern Trek
 
Starting At: $ 2935.00

With 26-days up your sleeve, this is more than just a holiday. Roam the romantic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Bulgaria, learn the art of a beer stein in Germany, & visit the iconic Prater fun park in Vienna. These 19 countries woven between Athens & London will leave you utterly love drunk.
 
7 Day Bergen, Oslo & The Fabulous Fjords

Starting At: $ 8750.00

As your small safari-like vehicle creeps ever so gently over the frozen plains of Briksdal Glacier, Norway's fabled blue ice is suddenly revealed to you in an explosion of brilliant color that appears illuminated from within.
 
Highlights of Scandinavia Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 2120.00

The land of the Vikings, deep fjords and the Northern Lights - Norway, Denmark and Sweden - are explored on this fascinating journey of discovery. Visit Copenhagen's Nyhaven, drive around the Hardangerfjord and spend the night on the shores of Lake Vänern.
 
Scandinavia: Stockholm, Copenhagen & Oslo

Starting At: $ 9295.00

Journey across Scandinavia, experiencing three lively capital cities, tasting Norwegian dishes during a cooking class in Oslo, touring Sweden's oldest town and learning secrets of the Vikings and their mighty longships.

 
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Explore Central North Island New Zealand

Discover the enticing combination of unusual and captivating landscapes and experiences on a road trip that combines three iconic touring routes, the Thermal Explorer, the Pacific Coast Highway and the Volcanic Loop.

So what will you see? There are Hobbits, underground rivers, volcanoes, lakes, wineries, beaches and Maori culture. Sample the world’s best seafood and award-winning wines. Enjoy a diverse and unique heritage and discover an abundance of buildings from another era, ancient Maori pa sites, countless historical delights and the living heritage of the stories and faces of the local people.

The Thermal Explorer runs from Hawke’s Bay through the center of the North Island from Auckland through Hamilton Waikato to Rotoura, Taupo and Ruapehu. Experience an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos in Waitomo, go fishing on Lake Taupo, experience Rail-Carting or kayaking outside of Ruapehu, treat yourself to wine tasting in and around Hawke’s Bay or immerse yourself in Maori culture in Rotorua.

The Pacific Coast Highway traverses the east coast of the North Island spanning from Napier to the Coromandel, offering rolling surf beaches, beautiful harbors and white sand beaches. Sample freshly caught seafood paired with locally grown wine and marvel at the talents of the local artists along the highway.

The Volcanic Loop is an exciting ‘add on’ to the Thermal Explorer Highway that travels south through Lake Taupo and Turangi then around to Ruapehu, passing the three mountains of the dual world heritage Tongariro National Park. Experience some of New Zealand’s best mountain biking, alpine trekking and excellent skiing.

Loop the three highways together, or just select one, for an unforgettable New Zealand journey as you truly explore the diverse regions of the North Island.

Thermal Highway Snapshot

Enjoy a scenic road trip along the Thermal Explorer Highway and experience nature’s awesome earth forces, dramatic scenery entwined with culture and unique adventures

• Six days Group C Car Rental including GPS
• One night Hamilton, Novotel Hamilton Tainui
• Two nights Rotorua, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside
• One night Taupo, Millennium Hotel & Resort Taupo Manuels
• Two nights Hawke's Bay, Scenic Hotel Te Pania

7 Days, 6 Nights starting at 
$899* per person

Rounded Rectangle: Learn More

Central North Island Loop

Experience rugged coastlines, beautiful bays, endless beaches, vineyards, boiling mud and geysers and Maori culture on this 9-night journey through New Zealand’s Central North Island.

• Private Auckland Airport to Hotel Sedan Transfer
• One night Skycity Hotel Auckland
• Auckland City Revealed Tour
• Nine Days Group D Car Hire including GPS
• One night Coromandel, Grand Mercure Puka Park including breakfast
• One night Tauranga, Trinity Wharf Tauranga
• One night Whakatane, White Island Rendezvous
• White Island Tour including a packed lunch
• One night Gisborne, Portside Hotel
• One night Napier, Scenic Hotel Napier
• Two-hour Art Deco Guided Walk
• Admission to Orakei Koroka
• One night Taupo, Millennium Hotel & Resort Taupo Manuels
• Lake Taupo Scenic Cruise
• Two nights Rotorua, Regent of Rotorua
• Te Puia Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience
• Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

10 Days, 9 Nights starting at 
$1,799* per person

Rounded Rectangle: Learn More

The Unexpected Coast

Discover a part of New Zealand where each turn in the highway offers unexpected views of rugged landscapes, stunning beaches and a hard-kept Maori presence.

• Private Arrival Transfer, Auckland Airport to Hotel
• One night Auckland, Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland Britomart
• 8-days Group C Car Hire including GPS
• Two nights Waihi Beach Lodge including trail bike hire, gourmet breakfast daily, bottled water and maps
• Return rail tickets Waihi to Waikino
• Two nights White Island Rendezvous
• White Island Tour
• Glowworm Kayak Tour, Tauranga
• Two nights Gisborne, Portside Hotel
• Gisborne and Tairawhiti Coast and Culture
• Two nights Napier, Scenic Hotel Te Pania
• Private Guided Tour, Ahuriri Heritage Walk, Napier
• On yer Bike Winery self-guided tour

10 Days, 9 Nights starting at
$1,839* per person

Rounded Rectangle: Learn More

The Central Highlights

Hidden amongst the rolling hills and fertile farmland of the North Island are some must-see destinations and a myriad of adventures.

• Private Auckland Airport to Hotel Sedan Transfer
• One night Auckland, Grand Mercure Auckland
• Half Day Auckland Highlights Afternoon Luxury Tour
• Seven Days Group C Car Hire including GPS
• Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
• Two nights Hamilton, Distinction Hamilton Hotel
• Waitomo & Ruakuri Cave
• Two nights Tongariro, Tongariro Suites @ The Rocks including Continental Breakfast
• 5 Tunnel Tour By RailCairt
• Sunset Guided Walk, Tongariro
• Two nights Taupo, Millennium Hotel & Resort Taupo Manuels
• Taupo Classic Combo
• One night Rotorua, Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua
• Te Ra and Te Po, Rotorua

9 Days, 8 Nights starting at
$2,149* per person

Rounded Rectangle: Learn More

Best of Ecuador & the Galapagos

Indigenous culture with European influences and a paradise for nature lovers, Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands welcome you at every turn. Ecuador’s vibrant culture is as distinctive as the hand woven tapestries of its local artisans. Venture on to the Galapagos Islands and see some of the world’s most unusual species. 

 

Galapagos Island Hopping

6 Days from $2,789

Guaranteed Departures

Santa Cruz Island - Floreana Island - 
Isabela Island

GALAPAGOS ISLAND HOPPING

Delve into the enchanted Galapagos Islands and the exotic animal species endemic to the Archipelago

 

Highlights of Ecuador

10 Days from $1,969

Guaranteed Departures

Quito - Otavalo - Papallacta - Cotopaxi - Riobamba - Cuenca - Guayaquil

Highlights of Ecuador

Discover amazing sights with expert guides in Ecuador’s cities of Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train of Wonders

Train of Wonders

5 Days from $1,650

Tuesday Departures

Quito - Riobamba - Bucay - Guayaquil

 

Peru, Ecuador & the Galapagos

Peru, Ecuador & the Galapagos

12 Days from $3,894

Guaranteed Departures

Lima - Cusco - Quito - Magdalena

 

Cruising the Galapagos Islands - Galapagos Legend

Cruising the Galapagos Islands - Galapagos Legend

3, 4 or 7 night cruise
from $1,662

Departures on Monday & Thursday

Galapagos Islands

 

 

 

 

HERO Viking Cruises

 

Spring is the ideal time for your clients to take in the beauty of the Wachau Valley on our 8-day Danube Waltz. They can witness daily life in Göttweig Abbey on an exclusive visit, savor Austro-Hungarian cuisine in Vienna and Budapest, explore lesser-known Central European cities like Bratislava, and more. This itinerary reveals the highlights of Passau, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.

THUMBNAIL Choice Offer

THUMBNAIL image

Danube Waltz

8 Days | Passau to Budapest

 

MAR-DEC 2019 Departures
From $1,999 per person,
plus Air from 
$499*
Ask for Offer EBD

 

Your clients will discover the celebrated landscapes, cities and towns in five of Europe’s most enchanting countries: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.


BUTTON View Itinerary

THUMBNAIL image

 
 
 

 

Rhine Getaway

8 Days | Amsterdam to Basel

 

SEPT-OCT 2018 Departures
From $2,499 per person,
plus 
FREE Air*
Ask for Offer SLS18

 

This spectacular cruise highlights the legendary Rhine. In Germany, your clients will sail past castles commanding the riverbanks, visit the beautiful sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle and see well-preserved Marksburg Castle.

 

BUTTON View Itinerary
 

 

THUMBNAIL image

South America & Cape Horn

19 Days | Buenos Aires to Santiago

 

JAN 25, 2019 Departure
From $7,999 per person,
plus Air for 
$999*
Ask for Offer WC6

 

Your clients will cruise around the horn from Buenos Aires to Santiago, exploring charming frontier cities and witnessing the Chilean fjords. Includes overnights in the Falklands and Santiago.


BUTTON View Itinerary

THUMBNAIL image

From Miami to South America

23 Days | Miami to Buenos Aires

 

JAN 3, 2019 Departure
From $5,999 per person,
plus Air for 
$999*
Ask for Offer WC6

 

This itinerary highlights Old World legacies from sun-kissed islands to Argentina’s lively capital and experience vibrant cultures. Includes overnight stays in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.


BUTTON View Itinerary


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GOGO Vacations


FEATURED VACATIONS

Velas Vallarta Vacation Package

Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Riviera Maya Vacation Package


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Amtrak Vacations®

 

 

 

GRAND TETONS AND YELLOWSTONE RAIL JOURNEY

 

GRAND TETONS AND YELLOWSTONE RAIL JOURNEY

7 Days From $1639 – Call to book early and save!

 

Together, these two national parks—just 31 miles apart—feature some of America’s most spectacular scenery. Have clients discover the best of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in one rail journey without feeling like you’re rushing from one scenic view to the next.

 

 

NIAGARA FALLS ULTIMATE GETAWAY

 

NIAGARA FALLS ULTIMATE GETAWAY

4 Days From $279 – Call to save $50 per couple!

 

More than 30 million people visit Niagara Falls each year! It’s one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. This Ultimate Getaway includes an exciting cruise up to the falls, incredible 360-degree views from the Skylon Tower Observation Deck, and so much more!

 

 

 

 

 

NEW ENGLAND FALL FOLIAGE

 

NEW ENGLAND FALL FOLIAGE

6 Days From $1099 – Call to book early and save!

 

There are few sights as beautiful as the changing leaves found in Boston and Portland, Maine. Have your clients travel with us to revel in the vibrantly colorful landscapes of New England—both on and off the train. Start planning a leaf-peeping train trip today.

And continuing the idea of Canada/New England the ;cruise lines have these offerings right now.  The colors are not to be believed and many of us live in areas that don't have seasonal changes to the max so taking a Canada/New England cruise might be just what you are looking for.  Remember you only pack and unpack once for your cruise saving time and effort all along the way.

 

Having trouble viewing the graphics? Go here.

 

 

SELECT 2018 CANADA/NEW ENGLAND CRUISES

 

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 1111.00
+ 198.11 taxes/fees
Ship: Anthem of the Seas

There's only one word that can possibly sum up the second ship in our Quantum class, Anthem of the SeasSM: WOW! Newly designed staterooms, game-changing technology, groundbreaking venues and the best dining ever are just the start of what you'll find onboard. By taking a quantum leap forward with the second ship in our Quantum class, we're holding ourselves up to the promise of building ships that take you to new heights.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 861.50
+ 164.66 taxes/fees
Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Meet the aptly-named Adventure of the Seas®, a ship packed with all the action of our signature innovations-and plenty of time for relaxation, fine dining, and beautiful ocean views. Climb a rock wall that overlooks the sea, or challenge yourself on the basketball court, ice-skating rink or mini-golf course. Achieve perfect zen, poolside or at the relaxing VitalitySM Spa. Liven up your nights on the Royal Promenade, with parades, dancing, and duty-free shopping deals.

 

7-Day Canada & New England Discovery


Starting At: $ 899.00
+ 215.00 taxes/fees
Ship: ms Rotterdam

ms Rotterdam ensures you the ultimate onboard experience with her graceful combination of classic cruise ship features and state-of-the-art amenities. Guests aboard Rotterdam enjoy a spectacular multi-million dollar art and antique collection, wide teak decks, elegant dining rooms and spacious staterooms - many with private verandahs.

 

7-Day Canada & New England Discovery


Starting At: $ 919.00
+ 230.00 taxes/fees
Ship: ms Veendam

Grandly proportioned and recently enhanced, ms Veendam offers an onboard experience defined by spacious comfort and the latest amenities. Guests aboard Veendam enjoy a multi- million dollar art and antique collection, wide teak decks, elegant dining rooms and spacious staterooms - many with private verandahs.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 641.00
+ 167.62 taxes/fees
Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Meet the aptly-named Adventure of the Seas®, a ship packed with all the action of our signature innovations-and plenty of time for relaxation, fine dining, and beautiful ocean views. Climb a rock wall that overlooks the sea, or challenge yourself on the basketball court, ice-skating rink or mini-golf course. Achieve perfect zen, poolside or at the relaxing VitalitySM Spa. Liven up your nights on the Royal Promenade, with parades, dancing, and duty-free shopping deals.

 

7-Day Canada & New England Discovery


Starting At: $ 1249.00
+ 230.00 taxes/fees
Ship: ms Rotterdam

ms Rotterdam ensures you the ultimate onboard experience with her graceful combination of classic cruise ship features and state-of-the-art amenities. Guests aboard Rotterdam enjoy a spectacular multi-million dollar art and antique collection, wide teak decks, elegant dining rooms and spacious staterooms - many with private verandahs.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 911.50
+ 201.48 taxes/fees
Ship: Anthem of the Seas

There's only one word that can possibly sum up the second ship in our Quantum class, Anthem of the SeasSM: WOW! Newly designed staterooms, game-changing technology, groundbreaking venues and the best dining ever are just the start of what you'll find onboard. By taking a quantum leap forward with the second ship in our Quantum class, we're holding ourselves up to the promise of building ships that take you to new heights.

 

Fall Foliage Northbound Cruise


Starting At: $ 711.00
+ 189.41 taxes/fees
Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Meet the aptly-named Adventure of the Seas®, a ship packed with all the action of our signature innovations-and plenty of time for relaxation, fine dining, and beautiful ocean views. Climb a rock wall that overlooks the sea, or challenge yourself on the basketball court, ice-skating rink or mini-golf course. Achieve perfect zen, poolside or at the relaxing VitalitySM Spa. Liven up your nights on the Royal Promenade, with parades, dancing, and duty-free shopping deals.

 

11-Day Canada & New England from New York


Starting At: $ 849.00
+ 285.59 taxes/fees
Ship: Norwegian Gem

Take in the beauty of coastal New England and Canada in September on this 11-day cruise from New York. Tour famous Gilded Age mansions in Newport, such as Vanderbilt's opulent Marble House, or take a walk on the scenic rocky shoreline. When in Bar Harbor, Maine, explore nature's splendors at Acadia National Park, followed by a traditional downeast lobster bake.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 999.00
+ 270.13 taxes/fees
Ship: Celebrity Summit

The Celebrity Summit reached the peak of modern luxury with a grand makeover in March 2016. Our first Rooftop Terrace provides a chic new way to experience the great outdoors with creative cocktails, favorite snacks, and movies alfresco. Craving Italian? Tuscan Grille serves up fresh pasta and succulent dry-aged steaks. Enjoy an unordinary dinner at the innovative Qsine®, then top off the night with a chilled Peartini at the ice-topped Martini Bar.

 

10-Day Colors Of Canada & New England


Starting At: $ 1529.00
+ 280.00 taxes/fees
Ship: ms Zuiderdam

Guests aboard Zuiderdam, the first in our Vista-class series, enjoy a spectacular art and antique collection, wide teak decks, elegant dining rooms and spacious staterooms-many with verandahs. At the heart of Zuiderdam, suspended in a three-story atrium, is a Waterford Crystal Seahorse. Other notable pieces include a painting of Queen Beatrix by pop culture artist and icon, Andy Warhol, medallions by Frank Lloyd Wright, and a massive floral painting by Charles Ben.

 

Fall Foliage Southbound Cruise


Starting At: $ 741.50
+ 272.22 taxes/fees
Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Meet the aptly-named Adventure of the Seas®, a ship packed with all the action of our signature innovations-and plenty of time for relaxation, fine dining, and beautiful ocean views. Climb a rock wall that overlooks the sea, or challenge yourself on the basketball court, ice-skating rink or mini-golf course. Achieve perfect zen, poolside or at the relaxing VitalitySM Spa. Liven up your nights on the Royal Promenade, with parades, dancing, and duty-free shopping deals.

 

9-Day Canada & New England from Quebec


Starting At: $ 699.00
+ 236.12 taxes/fees
Ship: Norwegian Gem

Take an autumn cruise to remember down the eastern coast of Canada and New England. Amble the cobblestone streets of Quebec City's Old Town, stopping to tour the magnificent Château Frontenac dominating the skyline. Trace the birth of Canada where it happened on the waterfront of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, plus view the original manuscript of Anne of Green Gables, set in the region.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 887.00
+ 201.48 taxes/fees
Ship: Anthem of the Seas

There's only one word that can possibly sum up the second ship in our Quantum class, Anthem of the SeasSM: WOW! Newly designed staterooms, game-changing technology, groundbreaking venues and the best dining ever are just the start of what you'll find onboard. By taking a quantum leap forward with the second ship in our Quantum class, we're holding ourselves up to the promise of building ships that take you to new heights.

 

7-Day Canada & New England from Quebec (Variation)


Starting At: $ 649.00
+ 201.72 taxes/fees
Ship: Norwegian Dawn

Explore the wonders - and colors - of Canada and New England in the fall. Amble the cobblestone streets of Quebec City's Old Town, stopping to tour the magnificent Château Frontenac dominating the skyline. In Halifax, be sure to see Peggy's Cove, which boasts one of the most popular lighthouses in Atlantic Canada. Spend some time strolling the village with its galleries and souvenir shops.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 1399.00
+ 263.85 taxes/fees
Ship: Celebrity Summit

The Celebrity Summit reached the peak of modern luxury with a grand makeover in March 2016. Our first Rooftop Terrace provides a chic new way to experience the great outdoors with creative cocktails, favorite snacks, and movies alfresco. Craving Italian? Tuscan Grille serves up fresh pasta and succulent dry-aged steaks. Enjoy an unordinary dinner at the innovative Qsine®, then top off the night with a chilled Peartini at the ice-topped Martini Bar.

 

10-Day Colors Of Canada & New England


Starting At: $ 1609.00
+ 244.00 taxes/fees
Ship: ms Zuiderdam

Guests aboard Zuiderdam, the first in our Vista-class series, enjoy a spectacular art and antique collection, wide teak decks, elegant dining rooms and spacious staterooms-many with verandahs. At the heart of Zuiderdam, suspended in a three-story atrium, is a Waterford Crystal Seahorse. Other notable pieces include a painting of Queen Beatrix by pop culture artist and icon, Andy Warhol, medallions by Frank Lloyd Wright, and a massive floral painting by Charles Ben.

 

Classic Canada & New England


Starting At: $ 1999.00
+ 235.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Royal Princess

Christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on June 13, 2013, Royal Princess is dazzling its guests with exciting new features. Called one of the "Most Popular Ships at Sea" by Cruise Critic, she's already won five prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Awards in the Large Ship, Atrium, Spa, Pool and Mobile App Design categories. And her innovative SeaWalk® is being hailed as one of the "Top Gee-Whiz Features at Sea" by USA Today!

 

9 Night Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 821.50
+ 187.44 taxes/fees
Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Sail on the now even grander Grandeur of the Seas®! The newly revitalized ship sails from Baltimore with itineraries in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Canada and New England. Experience all new day-to-night innovations designed to WOW. Relax in new and remodeled staterooms. Watch family-friendly movies on the 220-square foot poolside outdoor screen.

 

10-Day Canada & New England from New York


Starting At: $ 799.00
+ 240.45 taxes/fees
Ship: Norwegian Gem

This sparkling cruise ship is the perfect choice for year-round cruises from New York. Sail to the Bahamas & Florida, the Caribbean, or up the coast of Canada & New England. Tons of dining choices and Freestyle Cruising, Norwegian Gem has it all. Chill out by the pool, get lucky in the casino, unwind at the spa, and make the kids happy with WiiT games and lots more. Accommodations range from the luxurious multi-room or romantic suites to spacious and affordable staterooms.

 

Fall Foliage Northbound Cruise


Starting At: $ 711.00
+ 189.41 taxes/fees
Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Meet the aptly-named Adventure of the Seas®, a ship packed with all the action of our signature innovations-and plenty of time for relaxation, fine dining, and beautiful ocean views. Climb a rock wall that overlooks the sea, or challenge yourself on the basketball court, ice-skating rink or mini-golf course. Achieve perfect zen, poolside or at the relaxing VitalitySM Spa. Liven up your nights on the Royal Promenade, with parades, dancing, and duty-free shopping deals.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 893.00
+ 201.48 taxes/fees
Ship: Anthem of the Seas

There's only one word that can possibly sum up the second ship in our Quantum class, Anthem of the SeasSM: WOW! Newly designed staterooms, game-changing technology, groundbreaking venues and the best dining ever are just the start of what you'll find onboard. By taking a quantum leap forward with the second ship in our Quantum class, we're holding ourselves up to the promise of building ships that take you to new heights.

 

Classic Canada & New England


Starting At: $ 2119.00
+ 245.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Royal Princess

Christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on June 13, 2013, Royal Princess is dazzling its guests with exciting new features. Called one of the "Most Popular Ships at Sea" by Cruise Critic, she's already won five prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Awards in the Large Ship, Atrium, Spa, Pool and Mobile App Design categories. And her innovative SeaWalk® is being hailed as one of the "Top Gee-Whiz Features at Sea" by USA Today!

 

Canada & New England


Starting At: $ 1269.00
+ 195.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Regal Princess 

The new Regal Princess, sister ship to Royal Princess, is a spectacular example of the next generation of innovative Princess ships.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 1299.00
+ 258.15 taxes/fees
Ship: Celebrity Summit

The Celebrity Summit reached the peak of modern luxury with a grand makeover in March 2016. Our first Rooftop Terrace provides a chic new way to experience the great outdoors with creative cocktails, favorite snacks, and movies alfresco. Craving Italian? Tuscan Grille serves up fresh pasta and succulent dry-aged steaks. Enjoy an unordinary dinner at the innovative Qsine®, then top off the night with a chilled Peartini at the ice-topped Martini Bar.

 

12-Day Canada & New England from Quebec


Starting At: $ 579.00
+ 259.52 taxes/fees
Ship: Norwegian Gem

Behold Mother Nature's autumn splendors as you make your way from Canada to New England. Amble the cobblestone streets of Quebec City's Old Town, stopping to tour the magnificent Château Frontenac dominating the skyline. See how many whales you can spot off the coast of Saguenay. Trace the birth of Canada where it happened on the waterfront of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, plus view the original manuscript of Anne of Green Gables, set in the region.

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 891.50
+ 187.44 taxes/fees
Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Sail on the now even grander Grandeur of the Seas®! The newly revitalized ship sails from Baltimore with itineraries in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Canada and New England. Experience all new day-to-night innovations designed to WOW. Relax in new and remodeled staterooms. Watch family-friendly movies on the 220-square foot poolside outdoor screen.

 

Classic Canada & New England


Starting At: $ 1799.00
+ 215.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Royal Princess

Christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on June 13, 2013, Royal Princess is dazzling its guests with exciting new features. Called one of the "Most Popular Ships at Sea" by Cruise Critic, she's already won five prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Awards in the Large Ship, Atrium, Spa, Pool and Mobile App Design categories. And her innovative SeaWalk® is being hailed as one of the "Top Gee-Whiz Features at Sea" by USA Today!

 

Canada & New England Cruise


Starting At: $ 829.00
+ 201.48 taxes/fees
Ship: Anthem of the Seas

There's only one word that can possibly sum up the second ship in our Quantum class, Anthem of the SeasSM: WOW! Newly designed staterooms, game-changing technology, groundbreaking venues and the best dining ever are just the start of what you'll find onboard. By taking a quantum leap forward with the second ship in our Quantum class, we're holding ourselves up to the promise of building ships that take you to new heights.

 

Lastly we do have NEWS AND VIEWS for this week.  Of course we would not forget it.  

The Venetian & Palazzo Las Vegas Debut New Culinary Experiences

by Newsdesk | 

Jun 8, 2018 1:33pm

Venetian Las Vegas Exterior

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The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas have announced new experiences for guests to enjoy this summer, including new healthy treats from CR CREĀT, the debut of Rosina’s newest Old Fashioned secret menu, and the addition of all new bar carts and cocktails at The Palazzo’s Aquatic Club.

Pool Season at The Aquatic Club: The Palazzo’s pool experience is back with new touches and luxury amenities, available exclusively for guests of The Venetian and The Palazzo. This day-club offers a vintageAperol Cart that delivers fresh Aperol Spritzes and new cocktails like Froséthe Imperial Blue and Aquatic Whip. Guests can also enjoy The Aquatic Club’s retro atmosphere with its personalized murals in each cabana inspired by minimalist art from the 1940s and ‘50s.

CR CREĀT Opens: CR CREĀT by Canyon Ranch, located in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Palazzo, is a new casual culinary concept for guests on the go looking for healthy eating options. Guests can try one of the latest healthy food trends - mushroom coffee. The specialty drink is made by adding a powdered blend of 11 different “superfood” mushrooms to coffee (or any hot drink), and is supposed to provide an energy boost, as well as benefits for brain health, the immune system, and the liver. Mushroom Coffee is available on the CR CREĀT menu at the resort along with a number of other healthy offerings.

An Old Fashioned at Rosina: Rosina is unveiling a brand new secret Old Fashioned menu. Offerings include the classic preparation of the Old Fashioned and a handful of modern and classic interpretations of drinks like the Kentucky River (Bourbon, crème de cacao, peach bitters and lemon twist) and the American Trilogy (Rye whiskey, bonded apple brandy, brown sugar cube and orange bitters).

For more information, visit www.venetian.com and www.palazzo.com.

 

 

Wynn Las Vegas Adds More Exclusive Retailers to Wynn Plaza

by Newsdesk | 

Jun 13, 2018 11:07am

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Wynn Las Vegas has announced an update to the collection of luxury, contemporary and lifestyle brands joining Wynn Plaza, the resort's new 70,000-square-foot retail destination located directly on Las Vegas Boulevard that will include a number of fashion, dining and lifestyle outlets. Wynn Plaza is scheduled to open in October 2018.

Brands that can only be found in Las Vegas at Wynn Plaza include Cipriani, Urth Caffé, SoulCycle, Céline, Balmain, Loewe, James Perse, Cotton Citizen, Marie France Van Damme and Vitra Eyewear, with more to be announced in the coming months. Additional boutiques include Stella McCartney, Kiton, Omega, RIMOWA, Breitling and Le Labo.

This new group of retailers joins the recently opened boutiques of Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent and the only permanent Louis Vuitton Men's store in the country. Wynn Plaza will complement the existing luxury retail collection currently at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore which includes Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hermes, Cartier, Givenchy, Prada, Rolex, Loro Piana, Moncler, Brunello Cucinelli, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Watches of Switzerland and more.

Wynn and Encore Las Vegas include two luxury hotel towers with a total of 4,750 hotel rooms, suites and villas, approximately 192,000 square feet of casino space, 21 dining experiences with signature chefs and 11 bars, two spas, approximately 110,000 square feet of retail space as well as three nightclubs, a beach club and recreation and leisure facilities. In addition to the Wynn Plaza, the resort has two luxury retail outlets, the Wynn Esplanade and the Encore Esplanade.

For more information, visit www.wynnlasvegas.com.

 

 

Rome: Summer and Beyond in the Eternal City

by Sharri Whiting De Masi | 

Jun 13, 2018 9:47am

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Let’s begin with the classics, in this 2,771st year since Rome was founded. The largest exhibition of Canalettoworks ever held in Italy opened in April and will continue until August 19, 2018, at the Museo di Roma at Palazzo Braschi. This is a must-see for art lovers. The exhibit commemorates 250 years since the death of Canaletto (1697-1768), the Venetian painter who brought landscape painting to the highest level.

Even more classically Roman are the outdoor summer performances at the Baths of Caracalla. Under the stars, umbrella pines silhouetted in the shadows, and a glowing stage set amid the ancient ruins: it doesn’t get more Roman than that. The season runs from June 13 to August 6, 2018. Highlights include a new production of the opera, “La Traviata,” along with the world premiere of a new adaptation of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet.” For those who prefer a more private experience, the boutique hotel Pepoli 9 offers two suites that overlook the Baths.

The Vatican Museums are now free on the last Sunday of every month between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., with closing at 4 p.m. (Sunday is normally a closing day for the Vatican Museums.) Tickets cannot be reserved, but must be picked up on the day of the visit at the museum ticket office. The museum is closed if a holiday falls on a Sunday, such as Easter, as well as on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), Christmas and December 26. Expect crowds during peak seasons.

On the digital side, history is brought to life with outdoor spectacles at the Forum of Caesar and Forum of Augustus nightly now through November 11. The Italians are especially good at presentations that employ music, light projections and historic commentary to portray life in ancient Rome. Using the ancient ruins as the focus, the shows use technology to reconstruct the forum as it was in the time of the Caesars. In addition, visitors to the Baths of Caracalla may see the ancient complex re-created using 3D technology and virtual reality. The virtual reality tour at the Baths will be available until December 31, 2019.

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On the accommodations front, the venerable Hassler Roma, which stands at the top of the Spanish Steps, celebrates 125 years as a Grand Dame hostelry in 2018. After a three-week closure in January, Hassler Roma unveiled its updated Presidential Suite San Pietro, along with renovations to its other suites (which now total 21), guestrooms and public spaces. Clients seeking something new can opt for two boutique hotels, Margutta 19 (a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World) and Hotel Vilòn, which opened in late 2017 and early 2018, respectively, in the historic city center. The two-year-old Fendi Private Suites hotel has been refreshed, while downstairs in the Fendi flagship store the new design season is under way, tempting guests to pay a visit. Just last fall, Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel unveiled the newly renovated Nijinsky Suite. Perched on the top floor and encompassing 1,850 square feet, this suite affords views of the Eternal City and Villa Borghese gardens from its furnished terrace.

Italian hair stylists are known for their way of taking the most mundane hairdo and making it sophisticated and au courant. Jill Cento’s tiny Elements Salon off the elegant Via Giulia gives an Italian experience in English, the best of both worlds. Vatami, a boutique hairstylist, on Viale Aventino, uses organic products to revitalize a weary traveler’s locks. Let it be also said that the Roman water, coming from deep underground, makes for lush, full hair.

Rome means shopping, as well as sightseeing. A favorite among locals (especially top models and fashionistas) is Le Velvet di Eva Camilli on Via del Governo Vecchio. It sells handmade, elegantly crafted earrings, necklaces and clutches, the ultimate souvenirs for a trip to Rome. For your male clients, there is Wools Boutique Uomo, also on Via del Governo Vecchio, where men’s high-end brands and a selection of hand-made seven-fold ties are available. Roi du Lac, a home decor and ready-to-wear showroom in Piazza de’Massimi is enticing on so many levels, including color, design and selection.

The Eternal City is known for having fine restaurants within hotels — well-known chefs partner with hotels to deal with the exorbitant cost of real estate. With locations around the world, the gourmet Japanese restaurant Zuma has a great location on the top floor of the Palazzo Fendi. The lunch specials are varied and affordable and the rooftop bar is attractive. Le Colbert, upstairs at Academie de France Villa Medici, offers snacks and meals with a view across the historic city. (There is no elevator and no cloakroom, so don’t take heavy bags). Retrobottega is intimate, somewhat self-service and open all day. It doesn’t take reservations, but the food is fresh and interesting.

Party animals should take note of a new police rule in Rome. Popular areas of nightlife are now under permanent anti-alcohol and anti-glass prohibitions. From 11 p.m. on, it is illegal to consume alcohol or other drinks from glass containers on the streets, and after 2 a.m. these may no longer be served. Offenders in these zones may be removed from the area for a certain length of time.

Day Trips From Rome

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For repeat visitors, in particular, suggest day trips outside of Rome. The Castelli Romani area southeast of the city is known for its white wines and charming ambiance. (Rome is the only European capital located in a Premier Grand Cru wine area). Consisting of several hill towns, the Castelli includes Frascati, where Romans go for cool weather and refreshment in the summer. Tivoli is another favorite spot, though in summer it’s best to go early. The two primary attractions in Tivoli are the Villa d’Este, with its sumptuous gardens; and the expansive park and ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. The Ristorante Sibilla overlooks the town from a terrace studded with ancient Roman columns. Ostia Antica is another daytrip destination from Rome, where the city’s original harbor is now a restored outdoor museum. Nearby, in the coastal town of Fiumicino, are dozens of restaurants offering freshly caught seafood specialities. All of these places can be reached by public transportation.

A little further south is Sabaudia, where Romans escape the city heat to hit the beaches. Built on reclaimed marshland, Sabaudia is near the site of where Ulysses met Circe on the beach below Monte Circeo. The boutique hotel San Francesco edges a lake where rowing races and sailing are popular. The hotel also has its own Mediterranean beach reserved for guests. Up on the mountain, the charming little town of San Felice Circeo is full of boutiques and cobbled streets.

Rumored for years as the site of a future Rome airport, the town of Viterbo is a quick train trip north from the city. The layers of history in Viterbo range from the Etruscans to the seat of the popes. In addition, there are ancient thermal baths to enjoy. An itinerary focused on the history of Etruscans could begin with the Villa Giulia, the important Etruscan museum in Rome, and continue in the towns and necropoli in Viterbo and surroundings. Netflix subscribers familiar with the British-Italian television series “Medici: Masters of Florence” may note that it was filmed in part in the medieval section of Viterbo, which stood in for 15th-century Rome.

Spa resorts and hotels, such as the Terme dei Papi and Terme Salus, are built around the natural hot springs in the Viterbo area. Visitors can dip into pools of varying temperatures, as well as indulge in full spa treatments.

After a few days spent sightseeing among the crowds in Rome, these side trips can add a relaxing and engaging element to a city-based itinerary.

 

 

Six Reasons to Visit Versailles Besides the Chateau

by Richard Nahem | 

Jun 13, 2018 10:34am

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When one says the word Versailles, the immediate thought is of the opulent royal Palace of Versailles, the most famous chateau in France. The former palace of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and also of Louis XIV and Louis XV, Versailles is a tourist magnet, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Most come for the day to experience the splendor of the palace and the vast formal gardens and then leave, but little do they know is that the town of Versailles is a destination itself with so many options, they could easily spend an extra day or two. Here are six reasons why to extend your stay in Versailles.

Food Markets

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Photo by MellyB/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The second largest food market in France, Marche Notre Dame will dazzle even the most jaded foodies. Louis XXIII built the sprawling historical showplace in the early 1600s and today it’s a cornucopia of the best foods France and Europe has to offer. Four symmetrical buildings comprise the indoor market, with vendors such as butchers, fishmongers and prepared food sellers. Outside, it’s an incredible potpourri of stalls boasting seasonal fruits and vegetables, local wines, foie gras and patés, Middle Eastern delicacies, pastries, organic eggs, French cheeses and spices. There are also a number of takeout food stands with food made on the spot including crepes, sandwiches, sausages, paella and burgers. If the market gets your tastes buds going, there are many ethnic restaurants along side the market to enjoy lunch or dinner at.

Market Schedule

Outdoors: Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Indoors: Tuesday – Saturday from 7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

A lovely flower and plant market lines the Avenue de Saint Cloud with blooms of the season on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

Museums

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Given the historical significance of Versailles, museums are a natural fit.

The Gallery of Coaches across the street from the palace in the former royal stables, displays a collection of regal antique coaches. The collection is composed of grand ceremonial Berlin Coaches for special occasions including the marriage of Napoléon I, the baptism of the Duke of Bordeaux, the coronation of Charles X and the funeral of Louis XVIII. The decadent and highly ornamental vehicles were made by hand using the best sculptors, embroiderers, cabinetmakers, and metal workers of the time.

The Gallery of Coaches

1 Avenue Rockefeller, 78000

A former private mansion built in 1751 under the reign of Louis XV, has been refurbished and is now the Lambinet Museum. The first owner was businessman Joseph Porchon and in the early 1900s the property was transferred to the Lambinet family, who bequeathed it to the city in 1932. Among the 35 rooms, several still retain the original décor and furniture. There’s an extensive collection of artifacts from the French Revolutionplus objets and decorative items such as china, clocks, paintings, and miniatures.  A fine arts department of the museum rotates a collection of 16th to 20th century paintings and sculptures.

Lambinet Museum

54, rue du Boulevard de la Reine, 78000

Restaurants

For a compact city, Versailles has an unusually high volume of restaurants, bistros, and cafes, which range from Michelin-star restaurants to creperies to food trucks.

Le Table du 11, a one-Michelin-star restaurant, is discreetly tucked away in a courtyard, just minutes from the palace. Chef Jean-Baptiste Lavergne-Morazzani invigorates the palate with his artfully presented modern French cooking with inventive dishes such as asparagus with coffee and curry and crab with red lentils and sesame. The dinner menu features a five or seven course tasting menu. Chef Gabriel Gras helms the kitchen at Le Bistrot du 11, the casual, offshoot bistro of Le Table du 11. It offers a reasonably priced three-course lunch for €36.

In the same courtyard as Le Table du 11, the sweetest café and tea salon, Salon du Cour, serves home baked desserts and a light food menu.

A bistrot, an art studio giving painting and drawing lessons, art gallery, and retail home shop are all under one roof at the delightful Esprit d’ Atelier. We enjoyed a quick lunch of spinach and feta quiche, finishing with a delish rhubarb and apple crumble and after perused the gallery and home boutique.

Le Table du 11

La Cour des senteurs, 8 Rue de la Chancellerie, 78000

Le Bistrot du 11

10 rue de Satory, 78000

Salon du Cour

La Cour des senteurs, 8 Rue de la Chancellerie, 78000

Tel. +33 (0)9 83 76 14 14

Esprit d’Atelier

9 rue de la Paroisse, 78000

Entertainment and Music

Did you know that Versailles has a private opera house? King Louis XV commissioned the construction of his own opera house in 1768 by his architect in residence Ange Jacques Gabriel and it was inaugurated in 1770 for the marriage of the Dauphin (soon to be King Louis XVI) and his bride the Archduchess Marie Antoinette. The majestic, small gem of only 702 seats was recently renovated and now open for public performances.

Max Ohayon, the director of development of events and spectacles at Versailles, says there’s a terrific program this summer. He highly recommends attending the list of events below:

·         A new production of Lully’s Phaeton on May 30th (June 1 – 3). This is the baroque music event of the season. Note: The Lully opera hasn’t been performed in France for 25 years.

·         Days of Louis XIV (July 8 and 9) is a unique occasion that follows Louis XIV during his musical day in the most beautiful sites of Versailles, including the Royal Opera and the Royal Chapel, the Hercules Salon, the Hall of Mirrors, small apartments and gardens.

·         A new spectacle about Marie Antoinette is ti ve performed in the gardens of the Orangerie. It’s an open-air show of sound, lights, and fireworks and is fun for the entire family.

·         A divine Masked Ball with the best DJs and dancers of Paris, where you must dress in Baroque clothing and wear a mask, is also sure to be a hit.

See here for full program and schedule of events at Versailles.

Shopping

Chic clothing and home boutiques are plentiful in Versailles with major French brands and individual boutiques lining the streets close to the Rive Droite train station.

Atelier Saveurs, is a trendy, upscale tableware and gourmet boutique featuring mostly French products including olive oils, chocolate, liqueurs, jellies and jams, local made soap, cosmetic and skin care products and a unique flavored jasmine scented macaron, exclusively created for the boutique.

Across the way is Inedite, a very special boutique featuring a line of products using Toile de Jouy prints put on tote bags, lampshades, pillowcases, slippers, teacups and clothing.

Atelier Saveurs & Inedite

8 Rue de la Chancellerie, 78000

Both open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday

Hotels

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Plunking your head down on a comfortable pillow is a must after a fun filled day in Versailles.

A lovely retreat close to the palace, The Trianon Palace Versailles, is a four-star Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It features luxurious rooms and suites, beautifully manicured gardens, two Gordon Ramsay restaurants, Guerlainspa and heated indoor swimming pool.

Just a few minutes ride from Versailles, Les Etangs de Corot is a romantic hideaway inspired by painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. Forty-three rooms are individually designed with a special suite decorated by the fashion house Paul and JoeLe Corot is a formal one-star Michelin restaurant, with Remi Chambard as the presiding chef. A Caudalie spa offers exclusive treatments such as a Crushed Cabernet Scrub, a Honey and Wine Wrap, and a Winemaker Massage.

Trianon Palace Versailles

1 Boulevard de la Reine, 78000

Les Etangs de Corot

55 rue de Versailles, 92410

Ville-d’Avray, France Versailles is a 35-minute train rides from Paris, by commuter train RER C or by SNCF train from Montparnasse or Saint Lazare stations and by car, it’s approximately 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

 

 

Searching for the Soul of Florence – the Travel Secrets of a Local

by Sarah Marshall | 

Jun 11, 2018 3:56pm

 

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by Sarah Marshall, The Telegraph, June 11, 2018

Exploding in shades of magenta, mauve and violet, unfurling iris blooms dance on the breezy slopes of Viale dei Colli, one of the few green areas in this stone-built Tuscan city. Each spring, locals meander along stone paths shaded by olive trees, admiring entrants to the Concorso Internazionale dell’Iris, a competition celebrating the city’s emblematic giaggiolo flower.

“This is one of my favourite places,” enthuses author Kamin Mohammadi. “It’s only open for two weeks of the year and I always worry I’ll miss it.” An Iranian exile who worked in London as a magazine journalist, Kamin moved to Florence 10 years ago on a whim. Her recently published memoir, Bella Figura, details an ensuing love affair with the city. She paints a romantic picture of lively conversation, serendipitous encounters and simple, home-cooked food so delightful that it feeds the soul. 

For beyond the fancy façades and posturing of this proud city is another Florence, whispering from the shadows of quiet courtyards, rather than shouting from the top of medieval towers. For such a compact city, she’s surprisingly hard to find. But Kamin will be my guide.

As we climb higher to the 1,000-year-old church of San Miniato, we are greeted with a heavenly view of Tuscany’s museum-piece capital. A battalion of cyprus trees on the left bank of the Arno gives way to a crush of grand palazzos, marble bell towers and terracotta rooftops across the water. Brunelleschi’s burnt-orange cathedral dome dominates the skyline, dwarfing even Monte Morello and the shimmery peaks of the Apennines. Named after the city’s patron saint, San Miniato is a finely dressed Romanesque basilica illuminated by glinting Byzantine mosaics and the soft melody of monks chanting vespers. It’s a beautiful, calming place.

Away from the frenetic commercial centre, this side of the river is where Florence exhales a sigh of relief. Crowning the left bank, San Miniato was a comforting compass point for Kamin when she moved here, guiding her home to San Niccolo, a neighbourhood of artists and artisans at the bottom of the hill.

When we enter through the stone archway of an ancient city gate, I’m overpowered by the smell of jasmine trailing from the terraces of smart trattorias and trendy aperitivo bars. “All this is new,” explains Kamin with mild lament. The old-fashioned plumber’s workshop, butcher and grocer she fondly describes in her book have since disappeared, but a spirit of innovation lives on. In an open studio, Tommaso Brogini studies a canvas, adding brush strokes to one of his latest works. “For a while, he would only paint Michelangelo’s David,” whispers Kamin. Further up the road, cogs whirr and bells chime from a gothic cave where goldsmith and sculptor Alessandro Dari channels his imagination into jewels and metals. His family has supplied Florentine nobility and the church with pieces since 1630, and today his eclectic influences range from Luca della Robbia’s glazed pottery to steampunk Victoriana.

Unlike his neighbours, street artist Clet Abraham borrows nothing from the past – although the city’s street furniture did provide his first canvas, Kamin points out. Using stickers, the Frenchman subverts traffic signs, transforming a Turn Left arrow into an electric guitar and using a No Through Road as a crucifix. His studio sells the designs on T-shirts and notebooks. Although they are fiercely modern, I can’t help thinking these three artists are tapping into a legacy shaped by Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci more than six centuries ago.

According to Florentine historians, the Renaissance started here in 1401, when Lorenzo Ghiberti wowed judges with his three-dimensional biblical scenes, winning a competition to design the bronze baptistry doors. Thanks partly to the patronage of the Medici and wealthy guilds, the city was fertile ground for artists whose works are on display in the Uffizi, Italy’s most popular art museum, on the busy right bank. 

It wasn’t only freedom and tolerance that gave Renaissance Florence its creative buzz; it was the abundance of inspiring subjects, too. Sitting in front of a window framing a Tuscan landscape, Filippo Lippi’s Madonnawears a distinctly elegant blue velvet Florentine cloak, while the flowing blonde locks of Botticelli’s Venusbelong to Simonetta Vespucci, a local noblewoman who died tragically young, her beauty forever frozen in time. Similarly striking women waft through the city’s cobbled streets today, wearing floaty Cavalli dresses, huge shades and a swish of lip gloss. When she arrived, Kamin was mesmerised by these characters who paraded straight into the pages of her book. “Her gait, her composure, the very tilt of her head is an ode to grace and self-possession that makes her beautiful, whatever her actual features reveal,” she writes.

It’s an attitude embodied by the Continentale, a chic hotel inspired by Italy’s Fifties cinematic sirens, where I hope to soak up some of that elegantly feminine vibe. From my bedroom window overlooking the Ponte Vecchio’s jewellery shops, I’m in the thick of the action: Vespa horns blast impatiently, haughty signoras click their kitten heels on cobbles and Cimbali coffee machines purr in that irresistibly Italian way.

Florence has a long relationship with the world of fashion, and vestiges of its once-powerful guilds can be found all over the city – from the coats of arms stamped above doorways to street names reflecting trades – although only a few traditional artisans remain in operation.

By special appointment you can visit the Antico Setificio Fiorentino on Via Lorenzo Bartolini, where master weavers still use wooden looms to create silks for the Kremlin and Claridge’s. Enraptured by the luminosity of their colours, Kamin insists this is one of the few places where “you can touch the Renaissance”.

Or there’s the Scuola del Cuoio, a small leather workshop hidden at the back of Basilica di Santa Croce, yards away from the tombs of GalileoMachiavelli, Michelangelo and Rossini. Since the 13th century, tanned hides have been shipped along the river to this piazza, and after the Second World War, Franciscan monks decided to open part of their church as a leather school for orphans. Inside, a sweet scent coils through vaulted corridors, where craftsmen cut bags and belts beneath religious frescoes.

Florence’s finest achievements, however, are found at the dinner table. Heading north to Sant’Ambrogio, we reach Caffè Cibrèo, a wood-panelled bistro that was Kamin’s second home for a decade. “I always come straight here when I get off the plane,” she enthuses, as we settle in at a table decorated with chrysanthemums. Delivering antipasti of liver pâté and tzatziki-style yogurt flavoured with lemon and turmeric, waiting staff stop to chat, and passing friends shout “Bella!” when they recognise Kamin. “This is what I love about Florence – you bump into people and things happen,” she exclaims, pouring olive oil with the same veneration as a priest for holy water. 

In 1979, celebrity chef Fabio Picchi opened Cibrèo opposite, and now owns three restaurants, a fast-food ravioli bar, a Tuscan-Asian noodle counter and a mobile lampredotto (tripe) trailer in this neighbourhood. Nearby, members’ club and theatre Teatro del Sale is also part of the empire; for an annual €7 (£6) fee anyone can sink into its beaten leather armchairs and get a taste of Florence’s performing arts scene. Fabio, his silky white locks and angel-winged moustache reminiscent of comic book character Asterix, has a habit of wandering over to tables and chastising people for their ill-considered menu choices. “He once refused to serve me a cappuccino and cake at midday,” Kamin laughs. “We had such an argument, but he claims he did it out of love.”

After lunch, we stroll through the back streets, admiring details often lost in the crowds: Buchette del Vino, small hatches in the wall where empty wine glasses could be refilled; ornate tabernacles, religious shrines on street corners; and sgraffito, decorations scratched through the stucco façades of buildings. Unexpectedly, it begins to rain, big heavy drops splashing on the pavement. “Petrichor,” says Kamin, inhaling the air. “That’s a word I discovered here; the smell of summer rain hitting warm dust.”

So what of her book’s title, Bella Figura, a term used by artists to explain good form, and ingrained in Italian women as a way of making a good impression? “I have my own interpretation,” grins Kamin, sweeping back her crop of Gina Lollobrigida curls. “It’s about seeing the beauty in everything.”

And in that sense of enduring pride lies Florence, in all her past and present glory.

 

 

Stats: Orlando, London Top Fourth of July Destinations

by Newsdesk | 

Jun 13, 2018 1:19pm

American flags with Fourth of July fireworks overhead

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CheapOair, a flight-focused hybrid travel agency, announced its top 10 domestic and international destinations for 2018's Fourth of July holiday. According to CheapOair, the Fourth of July is dominated by domestic travel. Of the top 25 most booked cities over the holiday week, 19 are within the United States. Additionally, some of the most popular destinations also host some of the nation's biggest Fourth of July celebrations.

CheapOair's Top 10 U.S. Domestic Destinations for Fourth of July 2018 (listed with its average roundtrip airfare):

·         Orlando, Florida – $327

·         Los Angeles, California – $352

·         Las Vegas, Nevada – $316

·         Seattle, Washington – $441

·         Denver, Colorado – $338

·         Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – $323

·         San Francisco, California – $427

·         Boston, Massachusetts – $394

·         Dallas, Texas – $303

·         Miami, Florida – $331

Orlando tops this year's list of most-booked destinations followed by Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The data also revealed that Dallas is the most affordable of the top ten with an average roundtrip price of $303.

For those who are opting to spend the week outside the U.S., London is the most-booked international destination for the first week of July, followed by Paris and Mexico City. International prices are spiking as the demand for summer holidays increases.

CheapOair's Top 10 International Destinations for Fourth of July 2018 (listed with its average roundtrip airfare):

·         London, England – $1,136

·         Paris, France – $950

·         Mexico City, Mexico – $420

·         Cancun, Mexico – $516

·         Guadalajara, Mexico – $428

·         Rome, Italy – $1,602

·         Madrid, Spain – $1,109

·         Lisbon, Portugal – $1,120

·         Barcelona, Spain – $1,204

·         Bangkok, Thailand – $1,245

"As we move into the peak travel season, travelers should expect to see prices at the highest levels so far this year," said Sam S. Jain, Founder and CEO at CheapOair. "Internationally, prices to Bangkok, Barcelona, and London are up between 35-42 percent while prices to Rome are up over 57 percent since the Memorial Daybooking period in March and April. For domestic travel, prices to San Francisco, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and Seattle are all up over 17 percent since the Memorial Day booking period."

By monitoring travel trends, CheapOair's mission is to educate and aid consumers and travel professionals in both planning their travel accommodations and staying current on the most popular destinations. CheapOair's portfolio of products includes rate and schedule information from 450 global airlines.

For more information, visit www.cheapoair.com.

 

 

Why a Caribbean Cruise Will Have Your Taste Buds Dancing

by John Wilmott | 

Jun 12, 2018 4:05pm

Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas

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by John Wilmott, The Telegraph, June 12, 2018

The cuisine of the Caribbean can be as mouthwatering as its beach scenes. In the West Indies, chargrilled fish and meat, rice ’n’ peas and plump ripe fruits are staples, while in Mexico and Cuba it is fiery salsa that dominates many dishes. If lunch is not included on your day out, look out for rotis – flatbreads filled with curried chicken, vegetables or even goat – along with conch fritters and cutters (flying fish sandwiches). Callaloo is a healthy stew made from local crops okra and dasheen.

There are also some unexpected treats for those who seek them out. Island eateries range from simple beach bars to super-smart restaurants and prices vary just as widely.

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Don’t forget the liquid that flows through the region – rum. The classic rum punch is available everywhere.

Cruise lines often offer gastro-themed shore excursions but also try independent tour operators for extra variety.

Here are six food and drink ideas – and how you might try them on a Caribbean cruise.

Spices

Best islands: GrenadaDominicaSt Lucia

All sorts of exotic natural food flavourings thrive in the Caribbean’s fertile, shower-washed soils. Take a tour of the market in St George’s in the ‘Spice Island’ of Grenada to find pimento, cinnamon, vanilla and cloves, or visit the nutmeg plantation at Gouyave. In Dominica, spend a few hours with a local family to learn how spices are used in rustic cookery, then dine on the results. Castries market in St Lucia is heavily scented with spices – you can combine a visit here with a cooking workshop.

Cruise lines: Seabourn Cruise LinePrincess CruisesRegent Seven Seas CruisesP&O Cruises

Independently: Shop then flop – Grenada’s second spice market is close to wonderful Grand Anse beach, three miles from the port.

Fruit

Best islands: Jamaica, CozumelSt Kitts

Apples and oranges? Not in the Caribbean – think guavas, passion fruits and coconuts, bursting with flavour. In St Kitts, you can pick your own produce in the grounds of an eco-farm, then use them in dishes in the kitchen. A chef will take you to the market in Cozumel, Mexico, to find the likes of chayote squash and dragon fruit before giving a cooking class. In Jamaica, sample fruits such as ackee and mango and other local dishes at a reggae-enlivened beach cookout.

Cruise lines: Viking CruisesMSC CruisesNCLSilversea

Independently: Stalls laden with tropical fruits are sprinkled around St Kitts’ port of Basseterre (walking distance).

Jerk

Best islands: Jamaica, Barbados, St Kitts

Jerk – a blend of hot pepper, allspice, ginger and local twists – is the authentic taste of the Caribbean. It is most usually applied to barbecued chicken or pork, but sometimes fish. Let a Jamaican guide introduce you to roadside food stands where the aroma of grilling meat (including goat) will alert your taste buds. Wash down your jerk specialities with rum punch after an introductory island tour of Barbados. Attend a traditional West Indian cookery demonstration at St Kitts’ historic Fairview Great House.

Cruise lines: Crystal CruisesSaga CruisesMarella CruisesDisney Cruise LineRoyal Caribbean International

Independently: No-frills eateries in all the key Jamaican port towns serve up crispy jerk treats with Red Stripebeer.

Seafood

Best islands: Barbados, AntiguaSt Martin

Lobster, lambie (conch meat), marlin, mahi-mahi, red snapper – Caribbean waters are rich in fish and shellfish. You could meet a cricket legend for a chat in an Antigua rum shack before enjoying a lobster lunch. Sample fishcakes with plantain chips at a lunch at the 300-year-old Sunbury Plantation House in Barbados. Munch on French, Dutch and Creole delicacies on a tour of five different restaurants on the “foodie” isle of St Martin – maybe mahi-mahi in coconut sauce will be on the menu.

Cruise lines: Cunard, P&O Cruises, WindstarCosta CruisesHolland America Line

Independently: Take a taxi or bus to Oistins on Barbados’ south coast where the shacks serve fried fish with okra and hot sauce.

Chocolate

Best islands: Dominica, St Kitts, Cozumel

Forget Belgium or Switzerland – go where the cocoa beans are actually grown. Visit Dominica’s oldest estate to witness the picking and processing of the pods and then make your own confectionary in various flavours. Find out about the Aztec and Mayan origins of chocolate in Cozumel before being taught how to turn beans into sweets at a hands-on workshop. Sample red and green chocs then take home your own organic creations after a masterclass at St Kitts’ chocolate boutique.

Cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Silversea, Carnival Cruise Line, NCL

Independently: There are several chocolate shops/workshops in downtown Cozumel – take your ship’s shuttle bus.

Rum

Best islands: Antigua, Puerto Rico, Cuba

Many Caribbean destinations have been producing their own rum since the plantation days and it still oils the wheels of island societies. Provide your feedback on three rums after learning their history at the famed Backyard Bar in Antigua. Investigate Cuba’s cocktail culture with local bartenders in Havana and make your own minty mojito. Attend a mixology seminar at the ‘Cathedral of Rum’ where Bacardi is distilled in Puerto Rico. Prefer tequila? Head for Cozumel, where Jose Cuervo tastings are offered.

Cruise lines: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Holland America Line, Viking Cruises

Independently: On many Caribbean islands, the clapboard rum shop is the equivalent of the local pub – you won’t need to go far to find one.

 Next week our newsletter returns and we just might have a special announcement about a group cruise we will be doing along with perhaps another announcement of an outdoor festival we also might do.  We are waiting on answers on both so stand by OK?

Again HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all our Father's out there and as always remain vigilant, and be safe, stay safe and travel safe.

 

Cheers for a very nice and comofrtable Oakley today.

 

Bill and Fred