Archive for January, 2012

In the mood for the exotic? Welcome to Zanzibar, baby.

Zanzibar's Northeast Shore - Essque Zalu

We could wax poetic about a few photos we saw of Zanzibar, but hey… sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words, no?

Infinity Pool? Check. Africa? Check.

http://www.jetsetter.com/sale/essquezaluzanzibar/essquezaluzanzibar

 

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A Luxury Escape to Cambodia with a Great Cause Too

Hotel de la Paix - Cambodia's Gem

With over a hundred stunning rooms (and suites) and its award-winning spa, this top five-star luxury Cambodia hotel, Hôtel de la Paix Siem Reap may cater to the discerning traveler seeking style and relaxation, but there’s more than meets the eye to this best of the best Siem Reap hotel. With a stunning fusion of Ancient Khmer design and a hint of art deco, the hotel has become one of the most stylish hotels in Siem Reap.

A Room at Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap

The onsite restaurant, Meric, recently named by The Miele Guide as one of Asia’s top restaurants, offers world class dining and the stylish artistic lounge showcasing exhibitions of emerging artists. Within walking distance of the shops and restaurants in Siem Reap – and close to the ancient temples of Angkor (Siem Reap’s most popular tourist destination and a UNESCO world heritage site) – Hotel de la Paix also has something else to bring the oh so chic traveler closer to the people of Cambodia – and, really, closer to themselves.

Green Gecko's Cambodian Attendees

Encouraging responsible tourism, they’re helping guests gain a true understanding of Cambodia. Over the years, Siem Reap’s Green Gecko Project (greengeckoproject.org) has done an outstanding job at sheltering and educating over 70 former street kids. As a homage to the people of Cambodia, and the children that bring life and humility to the land, Hôtel de la Paix Siem Reap, one of the Green Gecko Project’s sponsors, kicked off the New Year by hosting a special presentation by the Green Gecko kids on New Year’s Eve: an exhibition of the ancient Khmer martial art of Labokator at the hotel’s Arts Lounge with the hotel’s spectacular ice display to welcome 2012. 

The Hotel de la Paix's Deco Lobby (with white feather Christmas Tree)

As the hotel’s ongoing commitment in respecting the past and embracing the future, this special arrangement allowed guests to learn more about Labokator.  Once used on the battlefield by the Khmer kings and warriors centuries ago, carvings can still be seen on some of the temples in Angkor Wat. The best part? The Green Gecko kids were thrilled to have been part of this celebration, to bring the ancient tradition into the new year and promote their proud culture to visitors around the world. If you want to check out the festivities, there’s also a special video clip here:
Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap
Rooms around $199/night
PS. While you’re in Cambodia and lapping up the luxury of Hotel de la Paix and the history of Angkor Wat, pay a visit and some funds to my friend, the amazing Scott Neeson, who left a lucrative Hollywood job to found Cambodian Children’s Fund. For six years, Cambodian Children’s Fund has provided life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children from some of Cambodia’s most destitute communities. In the beginning, they cared for the health and well-being of 45 youngsters. Today, we care for more than 700 children, and have extended their services to provide for their families and communities in crisis.

Starwood’s Excellent & Eco-Friendly Element Hotels

Element Hotel's Lexington Studio Suite

Our friend recently stayed at one of Starwood’s Element Hotels in New York City (soon to open its 10th hotel in Miami), and I was impressed by both the eco-friendly touches, as well as the comfort and convenience (she had a stovetop and fridge in the room so she could cook and save some money while working in the big apple). With the average room rate starting at  just $125.00 per night, affordability is also a priority. Here are several unique design amenities keeping Element ahead of the curve:

·         Use of recycled tires for flooring and art mountings – an eco-friendly choice that is invisible to guests

·         Bathrooms that feel spa-inspired yet feature a low-flow oversized rain shower showerhead, as well as amenity dispensers to cut down on plastic bottle waste.  Dual-flush toilets also reduce water consumption.

·         Soy-based fabrics throughout that are soft and comfortable

·         Fully equipped kitchens with energy-efficient appliances

·         Environmentally friendly “Do Not Disturb” door magnets

Element Hotels is also the only major hotel brand to mandate that all properties pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for high-performance buildings.

5 Websites for Travel Gear

Flight 001

Did you know that nearly one-third of Americans anticipate spending more on travel in 2012, with almost half intending to spend the same amount as they did in 2011? That’s right, and consumers continue to master the web for making travel plans as annual online travel bookings are expected to increase from $102 billion to $143 billion over the next five years.

But once the flight is booked and the hotel room reserved, what online resources are available to help those people get ready to get away? Here are five websites for stocking up on travel gear for your 2012 vacation:

1.       Flight 001 puts the fun in function! You’ll be the envy of your fellow travelers with unique travel products from across the globe, including retro luggage tags and passport holders, whimsical eye masks, and laundry bags with something to say.

2.       Carrying on? Not a problem with the TSA-friendly beauty and personal products available at 3floz.com. With products in 34 different categories, ranging from moisturizer to hair care, they have you covered!

3.       Travel with peace of mind, knowing you’ll be clean and comfortable snuggled up to your travel blanket and disposable pillowcase from PB Travel. With product lines including PB Cashmere, PB Baby, Eco Friendly and Germ Freak, PB Travel specializes in personal belongings (PB) that are cool, fun and colorful.

4.       No more trekking to the store to purchase last-minute travel essentials. Online shopping program ShopRunner allows you to purchase all the sunscreen, beach towels, flip flops and blow up rafts you might need, along with books and movies, snacks, and a new digital camera – and have them delivered straight to your door, with unlimited free, two-day shipping and no minimum order size.

5.       For everything else, there’s Magellan’s, a one-stop-shop for unique and useful travel products, from luggage and packing aids to adaptors and convertors.

Happy travelin’!

Prepare for a Breathtaking Australian Solar Eclipse

Breathtaking Australian Solar Eclipse

Sometimes it happens that the perfect opportunity for a relaxing vacation coincides with a natural phenomenon to create an absolutely unforgettable trip. That will be the case for those fortunate enough to make it to Australia in November of 2012 for a viewing of a total solar eclipse. These marvels of nature occur once for a few minutes every couple of years and those who have seen them agree they are incredible.

Right now Eclipse Tours is offering a twelve, ten, and eight-day tour that will take travelers all over the continent and will culminate with an early morning trip on November 13 to see the total solar eclipse from the Northeastern beach, which is an absolutely gorgeous site to view the phenomenon.

Cairns Reef – Australia’s Northeastern Coast

While you’re in Australia, you should spend some time with the spectacular wildlife. The arid desert landscape of most of the country has forced much of the wildlife into close quarters, making it ideal for travelers who can’t spend more than a few days in the country. Of course, there are the iconic kangaroos which can be found on the country’s coat of arms and all over the outback. Koalas are also native to the country and, if you decide to embark on the Eclipse Tour, you’re almost guaranteed to see these furry creatures.  Koalas densely populate the coastal regions of the country and provide beach-goers with a lot of entertainment.  Just keep in mind: if you venture into Tasmania or Western Australia, don’t expect to see any of these little guys.

A wee little koala and her mama

71% of the freshwater marine life in Australia is endemic to the country. This means that if you get a chance to explore Lake Awoonga, Blue Lake or one of the country’s other freshwater lakes, you should take that chance. The Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, South Australia is a large monomictic lake located in an extinct volcanic maar associated with the Mount Gambier maar complex. Here, you’ll also be provided with rare opportunities to see species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Mount Gambier Blue Lake

Mount Gambier Blue Lake

Finally, you should spend some time on your trip soaking up the local flavor and communing with the people who know the country best. The tour ends in Sydney and that city’s Pyrmont Fish Market is a great place to get fresh sea food and chat with the locals to enrich your experience and enhance your knowledge.

Sydney Fish Market

So check it out: the Total Solar Eclipse Tour being offered by Eclipse Tours is a great way to create an unforgettable vacation that mixes the perfect amount of relaxation and interaction with nature.

Logan is a guest writer on the subject of travel, hiking and how to get a great deal on a jet charter when he’s not writing for the Blog Content Guild.

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