Everlane's Best Handbag for Travel Was Just Restocked in Five Gorgeous Colors

Travel and Leisure - 4 hours 17 min ago
<p>Everlane is known for creating everyday pieces (at accessible price points) that deliver on both form and function. Think: stylish <a href="" target="_blank">dresses in wrinkle-resistant fabrics</a> and sleek <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">heels that are made to be worn all day</a> without wrecking your feet. And lately, the brand has especially been hitting it out of the park with its leather goods.</p><p>The recently launched Italian-leather Day Glove flat (<a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $115) is a top-seller with <em>Travel + Leisure</em> readers. And Meghan Markle is a fan of the brand’s Day Market Tote (<a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $175) — the one she famously wore on her <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">first official outing with Prince Harry</a>.</p><p>Earlier this year, Everlane debuted a new silhouette: the Form Bag (<a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $235), which promptly sold out. Until now, that is: the Italian-made bag is back, and it now comes in black, (Duchess-approved) cognac, hunter green, burgundy, and navy.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">16 Cute and Roomy Tote Bags No One Will Know You Got on Amazon</a></p><p>The Form bag has a surprisingly spacious central compartment for how slim the design looks — you’ll be able to fit a 13-inch laptop horizontally. There’s a slip pocket inside for easy access to your phone or other oft-grabbed essentials. And the coolest part: it's got a magnetic top closure, so there are no zippers or flaps to fumble with when one hand is occupied by a phone call, coffee, umbrella, et al.</p><p>It's also a generally comfortable bag to carry. The strap is wide and made of a soft, seatbelt-like material, so it doesn’t dig into your shoulder when you’ve got it packed to the brim (hi, <a href="" target="_blank">airplane snacks</a>). It’s adjustable, too, allowing you to wear the bag as a hip-height cross-body or to shorten it into a shoulder bag.</p><p>If you’ve got your eye on a Form Bag, we recommend moving quickly. Everlane’s restocks don’t tend to stay in stock for long, especially one this good.</p><h2>The Form Bag</h2><img alt="everlane form bag "src=""><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $235</p>
Categories: Travel

Namibia Has the Most Spectacular Desert Landscapes in the World — Now It Has Luxury Lodges to Match

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 12/17/2018 - 14:00
<p>I assumed there would be silence in the desert; I was wrong. I thought that little of interest could survive in such a hostile place, but I was wrong again. Although I was born and raised in Africa, Namibia has changed the way I see the continent, and how I connect with it. It has rekindled the awe for Africa in me.</p><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Namib is the oldest desert</a> in the world, an almighty sea of sand running for almost a thousand miles along Namibia’s Atlantic coastline. With few roads running to it or through it, the desert is largely inaccessible, and almost entirely uninhabited by humans. Yet somehow life thrives there — in astonishing shapes and forms.</p><p>In the Namib I was serenaded by duetting bokmakierie birds and entertained by prancing ostriches in black tutus. There were wild melons growing in the sand, some tiny enough to furnish a dollhouse, some as big as beach balls. I learned to recognize the shepherd’s tree, which gives off a smell like a sewer but can sustain everything from insects to human beings with its roots, berries, leaves, and bark. I watched Hartmann’s mountain zebras strut and snort on vast, open plains, and I tracked desert-adapted elephants across dry riverbeds.</p><p>My adventure began — as virtually all safaris in Namibia do — in the capital, Windhoek. There I was joined by James Kydd, one of Africa’s <a href="" target="_blank">finest private safari guides</a> and a man with a profound love for wild, open spaces. Together, Kydd and I flew to Sossusvlei, a part of the Namib famous for its immense red sand dunes — some of the tallest in the world. As we flew over them, the supremely well-traveled Kydd told me Namibia is one of his all-time favorite places. Looking out of the aircraft window, it was obvious why.</p><img alt="Dunes in Namibia "src=""><p>We began by flying high above the pleats and folds of the Khomas Hochland mountains, before leveling out over a highland plateau punctuated with thorn trees, isolated settlements, and rocky inselbergs. Next, we swooped south over the great escarpment that separates the highlands from the desert — the magnificent, flat-topped Gamsberg Mountain to the east, the spectacular gorges and ravines of the Naukluft mountain range to the west. Then we crossed the low gravel plains of the Namib Desert and, finally, the colossal sand pyramids of Sossusvlei.</p><p>We were booked into the newest camp in the region, <a href="" target="_blank">Sossus Under Canvas</a>, which stands on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy — a private wildlife sanctuary carved from 60,000 acres of former farmland. The majority owner, a Namibian property developer named Swen Bachran, bought the land eight years ago and has worked hard to improve roads, take down fences, and install water holes for the animals he has reintroduced, which include zebras, cheetahs, and giraffes. Since Bachran established the park, leopards and hyenas have returned to the area, and herds of antelope — Namibia’s iconic oryx and ubiquitous springbok among them — have begun proliferating.</p><p>In addition to being a keen conservationist, Bachran has a strong eye for property. The conservancy is a wonderfully handsome tract of land with both immense plains and a high plateau, from which there are breathtaking views of Sossusvlei. Rain had come to the area a couple of months before we arrived, ending a five-year drought. As a result, the lowlands were coated in feathery grass that shimmered in the cool east wind, as iridescent as the flicker on a silver screen.</p><p>The camp itself sits easy in the landscape, tucked into a natural amphitheater at the bottom of a cliff with the prairie stretching out before it. Its eight guest tents have floors and furniture built with reclaimed wood and roofs tiled with panels made from recycled oil drums. The effect is surprising, elemental, and beautiful. As the only camp on the reserve, Sossus feels completely private and imparts an extraordinary sense of exclusivity and freedom to its guests.</p><p>Franco Morao, a young Namibian with a keen mind and a gentle manner, was our host and local guide. Accompanied by Morao and Kydd, I spent my days exploring the reserve on foot, meeting the cast of astonishing characters that thrives in this arid environment. First up was the quiver tree, the grande dame of the Namib Desert. A succulent with a crown of bulbous branches covered in a thick white powder, this species grows on even the most unforgiving rocky ridges of the escarpment. The nomadic San people used to hollow out branches to use as containers for their arrows — hence the name. In times of drought, the trees are known to self-amputate, sacrificing a branch for the survival of the whole. In the evenings at Sossus, as color drained from the China-blue skies, the quiver trees stood out like luminous sentinels around the desert prairies, guardians of all they surveyed.</p><p>The Namib Desert is also home to some of the biggest bird’s nests in the world, which are built by colonies of sociable weaverbirds in the style of thatched apartment buildings. Cool during the day and warm at night, they provide year-round dwellings for up to 500 birds at a time, and the excited chatter of these weaverbird colonies returning after a day out hunting created a cheerful soundtrack for our evenings at the lodge.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">6 Gorgeous Desert Destinations for Soaking Up the Sun This Winter</a></p><p>Morao showed me how to set fire to a bushman’s candle, an inconsequential shrub that, when ignited, crackles into flames to emit a pure, white light. That night, Kydd put a black husk he’d found while walking in a jar of water; by morning it was fat and green, a miracle expressed by its colloquial name: the resurrection plant.</p><p>Within a day, I could make out the unmistakable tap of a tok-tokkie beetle as it serenaded a potential mate. Tok-tokkies have adapted to the desert by becoming earthbound, their wings fused into a hard shell with ridges that have evolved to collect moisture from fog drifting in from the ocean. By raising their long back legs and performing a headstand on the sand, they let the accumulated droplets run down their shells and trickle into their mouths. Once seen, never forgotten.</p><p>Such interesting new friends — and potential foes such as scorpions and snakes, a particular interest of Kydd’s — were introduced to me daily, and in their presence I have never felt so ordinary or domesticated. A tiny indentation in the sand revealed itself to be an insect trap dug by an ant lion larva, a creature just a fraction of an inch long but with formidable pincers that eventually metamorphoses into an ethereal flying insect, seen mainly at night. As a child growing up in Zimbabwe, I would torment ant lion larvae, jabbing at them with grass until their pincers gripped; out in the Namib Desert I finally learned about their worth in the world.</p><p>On my penultimate day at the lodge, we set off to visit Sossusvlei. <em>Vlei</em> is Afrikaans for “salt pan,” while <em>sossus</em> translates from the Namib language as “dead end.” The name refers both to a part of Namib-Naukluft Park and to a specific dry claypan within it — formed when the Tsauchab river became blocked by sand, coming to a halt before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.</p><p>There is only one road to Sossusvlei in the park. It runs for about 40 miles along the dry floodplain of the Tsauchab, soaring red sand dunes rising on either side like the parting of the Red Sea. In the early morning, the road was swathed in a gauze of fog coming in from the Atlantic. As the first rays of sunlight hit the tops of the symmetrical dunes with astonishing precision, their ridges were lit up like a row of smoke signals.</p><p>Sossusvlei is the biggest of four claypans in the area, and the only one ever to flood. The most striking, however, is undoubtedly Deadvlei. In this parched, arid place stand the skeletons of camel thorn trees, dead since the 11th century. In their branches, flocks of Cape crows stand watch, just as they have for hundreds of years.</p><p><img src="" /></p><p>Möwe Bay Stands on the edge of one of southern Africa’s last great wildernesses: the Namib Desert’s Skeleton Coast National Park and, beyond it, the remote region of Kaokoland. The desolate town was named after the German cruiser <i>Moewe, </i>which put a landing party ashore in 1884 with instructions from their leader, Otto von Bismarck, to seize the coastline, beginning a German occupation that lasted until the end of World War I. A succession of expeditions followed, each intent on uncovering the secret wealth of minerals and diamonds thought to be hidden in this forbidding landscape, but most of it came to nothing.</p><p>Fittingly for an entry point to such a stark, empty place, there is little more to this outpost than a solitary national park office and a dusty, single-room museum stuffed with skulls and rusty relics of the sea. But for anyone intrigued by the strange and the beautiful, Möwe Bay is a study in mournful longing, imparting as it does a sense of having reached the very edge of the known world.</p><p>The air here is heavy with the smell of the Cape seals that have colonized the rocky seafront. As the morning mist rolled in, Kydd and I stood and watched as the seals happily honked and flapped and slithered in and out of the churning sea. A pair of black-backed jackals skulked behind them, circling for vulnerable pups as their mothers basked, oblivious to any danger, heads tilted toward the warming sun.</p><p>After an hour or so in Möwe Bay, it was time to head up the Skeleton Coast: an unbroken stretch of deserted shoreline pounded by the Atlantic and littered with the shattered remains of ships and whales, for which the region is named.</p><img alt="Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia "src=""><p><a href="" target="_blank">Shipwreck Lodge</a>, the only camp in Skeleton Coast National Park, lies 28 miles up the coast from Möwe Bay, at the mouth of the Hoarusib River. There are no roads; access to the property is via four-wheel-drive, along limitless shingle beaches and over a formidable roller coaster of sand dunes. The logistics of building a camp somewhere this remote are mind-boggling; erecting one on shifting sand makes things more challenging still. Shipwreck Lodge is no ordinary camp, either: a jaunty row of wooden cabins, seemingly marooned in undulating waves of white sand like upended shipwrecks, each as wistfully romantic as a child’s doodle.</p><p>The next morning, Kydd and I climbed the highest dune we could find to watch the sun rise over the whirls of apricot-colored sand below. Later, we were joined by a local guide, Niclas Rungondo, for a drive up to the lip of a dune. We paused at the top before coasting down the other side; as we did so, the dune emitted a loud groan, as if voicing its discomfort. I was told the sound occurs when sand moves down crescent-shaped dunes in very precise conditions — though what these are, nobody can quite agree. Many years ago, Marco Polo wrote of the “singing dunes” of the Gobi Desert in northern China, which produce an otherworldly sound he had no hesitation in attributing to desert spirits. For one brief moment, as that eerie sound echoed out over the Namib Desert, I was moved to agree with him.</p><p>When rain does come to this desert, the Hoarusib River floods and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. But even in times of drought, residual moisture in the ground sustains a surprising amount of greenery. The next morning we drove slowly along the Hoarusib’s wide floodplains, which were surrounded by steep canyons of black and red volcanic rock topped with tall Makalani palms. Desert-adapted elephants are known to follow dry riverbeds, digging wells from which to drink, but we could find no trace of any. Instead, we followed the tracks of a brown hyena and stopped to examine the slithery indentations a blind golden mole had left as it burrowed along in the sand.</p><p>As the sun reached its zenith, we stopped at one of the “clay castles” that line the river valley — fantastical formations created by centuries of erosion. We explored their echoing, khaki canyons, where the bleached bones of antelope lay scattered. Kydd found a bat, stunned by heat exhaustion, lying at the entrance to a cave. He slowly dripped water into its mouth. Revived, it flew off, circling above us in a triumphant salute.</p><p>On our way back to camp, we joined little wagtails and sleek Egyptian geese at a miniature oasis, an apparition of glittering water and bright green reeds. I realized the day had passed without our encountering another person or hearing another human sound. For 10 precious hours we’d had the ancient Hoarusib River valley completely to ourselves, a rare and exquisite privilege.</p><p><img src="" /></p><p>Inland from the Skeleton Coast lies Kaokoland, another of Namibia’s remote wildernesses, which is inhabited only by a smattering of indigenous Herero and Himba communities. Our base in this far-flung corner of the Namib Desert was <a href="" target="_blank">Hoanib Valley Camp</a>, managed by Natural Selection — the same safari company behind Shipwreck Lodge. The two camps are linked by a full day’s drive, with Möwe Bay as a staging post in between. The long journey turned out to be an unforgettable safari through the changing northern Namib Desert landscapes, from the high, windswept dunes of the coast to low floodplains and then the wide expanse of the Hoanib River valley, shaded with tall ana trees.</p><p>The camp itself is sheltered beneath an imposing granite outcropping that overlooks the river valley. With only six tents set on raised wooden platforms, it is an intimate and wonderfully peaceful retreat, staffed with the kindest people. Our guide, Frank Ndataiziro Kasoana, spent his childhood herding goats and cattle in a village not far away, so he knew the land and how to read it better than anyone.</p><img alt="Scenics from Namibia "src=""><p>The valley is famous for its <a href="" target="_blank">wildlife</a>, and we encountered a herd of elephants before even reaching camp. Led by a wise-looking matriarch, the family group appeared from behind a thick grove of thorn trees to amble along the sandy valley floor, a near-silent caravan of swaying trunks and fly-swatting tails. Continuing on our way, we came across a herd of handsome oryx, then a pair of graceful giraffes grazing in a shady glade.</p><p>Kydd had heard there were lions in the area, and it didn’t take long before we spotted fresh tracks in the milk-chocolate mud of the riverbed, heading upstream toward the nearest village. Not long ago, a group of five lions, a band of brothers known as the Five Musketeers, had begun killing cattle in the villages. Despite being collared and monitored by Philip Stander, a respected lion expert and conservationist, all five were eventually shot or poisoned by frustrated herdsmen. With fewer than 150 lions left in the Namib Desert, human-wildlife conflict is a big issue, and a difficult one to manage. “It is a very old, frustrating problem,” said Kasoana, who, as a former cattle herder, knows both sides of the argument only too well.</p><p>Hoanib Valley Camp was built in partnership with local communities like Kasoana’s and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which often conducts research in the area. After dinner one night, the foundation’s codirector, Stephanie Fennessy, shocked me with the fact there are fewer than 100,000 giraffes left in the wild today, with numbers down 40 percent over the past three decades. Her husband, Julian Fennessy, is codirector of the foundation, and earned his Ph.D. studying the desert-adapted giraffe in the Hoanib River valley. Fennessy can read the patterns on the coats of the giraffes like fingerprints. He told me that he fears a “silent extinction” of the elegant creatures is under way — something he is fighting to reverse, in part by raising awareness of their plight. Certainly the opportunity to get to know these rare creatures as individuals is unique to Hoanib Valley Camp, where they luxuriate in near-celebrity status and happily oblige their fans with frequent sightings.</p><p>Before we left the Namib Desert, Kasoana took us to see the Herero village where he grew up, a huddle of tin-roofed shacks where the women wear cheerful cotton headdresses and long dresses which, remarkably, are still modeled on those worn by their colonial mistresses. Along the way, we stopped at a nearby settlement of seminomadic Himba people and were shown around their cattle and goat pens. We also saw the immaculate interiors of their domed huts made from mud and cow dung.</p><p>So far the Himba have managed to resist change and are determined to preserve their traditional way of life. The women were naked except for animal skins and layer upon layer of jangling jewelry. They color their skin red by mixing butter with ocher pigment, and daub their braided hair with more thick ocher. Kasoana explained that the government has introduced mobile schools in an attempt to corral the Himba into the education system, but herding goats and cattle still takes precedence and is taught from an early age.</p><p>I had been anxious about visiting the Herero and Himba villages, concerned that the experience might feel inauthentic or uncomfortable. I needn’t have worried. Seldom have I met a more beautiful, proud, or courteous group of people. I felt welcomed and left enlightened, relieved to know that beyond the reach of most people’s ideas of civilization, there remain communities that seem so at one with the world as they know it.</p><h2>An Unforgettable Adventure in Namibia</h2><p>Give yourself plenty of time to explore this country, as the distances are vast. Visiting the Namib Desert is all about taking in the epic landscapes and unique flora and fauna. For more traditional wildlife viewing, consider a stop at Etosha National Park, with its famous salt pans, or the Okavango Delta in neighboring Botswana.</p><h2>Getting There and Around</h2><p>The easiest flight connections to Windhoek, the capital, are through Frankfurt or Johannesburg. Upscale lodgings are typically accessed via light aircraft transfers, which are efficiently operated and offer fantastic views.</p><p><strong>Windhoek</strong></p><p>Most visitors spend a night in Windhoek before or after a safari, and the new lodge <a href="" target="_blank">Omaanda</a> <em>(doubles and savannah excursion from $900, all-inclusive)</em><i>, </i>just outside of town, is the place to stay. Its French owner, Arnaud Zannier, was introduced to Namibia by Angelina Jolie, whose friends, Marlice and Rudie van Vuuren, own the wildlife sanctuary <a href="" target="_blank">Na’ankusê</a> outside Windhoek. A little later, Zannier bought 22,000 acres adjacent to the van Vuurens’ land. His new 10-bedroom lodge there is an upscale take on traditional dwellings with conical thatched roofs. The interior design is impeccable, the breakfast is the best in town, the swimming pool is heated, and there is a small spa.</p><p><strong>Sossusvlei</strong></p><p>The Namib Desert is protected by a number of national parks. The area generally referred to as <a href="" target="_blank">Sossusvlei</a> is in the Namib-Naukluft Park, in the west of the country. With only one lodge and a basic campsite in the park itself, a number of private reserves have opened on its border, including the well-established <a href="" target="_blank">NamibRand Nature Reserve</a> and the relatively new Namib Tsaris Conservancy, where I stayed at <a href="http://ultimate​" target="_blank">Sossus Under Canvas</a> <em>(doubles from $800, all-inclusive)</em>. Also on the property is <a href="" target="_blank">Nest at Sossus</a> <em>(from $1,300 per person, all-inclusive)</em>, a remarkable private house conceived by South African artist Porky Hefer. The park entrance to Sossusvlei is about a 40-minute drive from the conservancy. Most visitors arrive to take photographs of the dunes and the claypans at dawn. Quieter excursions include exploring the open plains and the Tsaris Mountains.</p><img alt="Seals on Namibia's Skeleton Coast "src=""><p><strong>Skeleton Coast</strong></p><p>This stretch of coast north of Swakopmund, named after the shipwrecks and whale carcasses strewn along its shores, is about as wild and remote as it gets. Just inland, the Kaokoland region is similarly untouched and underpopulated. I stayed at two new camps in the area managed by Natural Selection, a collective run by some of the best-known names in southern Africa’s safari industry. <a href="" target="_blank">Shipwreck Lodge</a> <em>(doubles from $1,379, all-inclusive)</em> is the only camp in Skeleton Coast National Park. It’s a great base for climbing dunes and exploring the Hoarusib River valley. The six-tent <a href="" target="_blank">Hoanib Valley Camp</a> <em>(doubles from $1,216, all-inclusive)</em> is built on community-owned land just outside the park, where you’ll likely spot desert-adapted elephants and giraffes.</p><h2>Tour Operator</h2><p>My trip was organized by <a href="" target="_blank">Michael Lorentz</a> (; 27-21-447-0053), a member of the <a href="" target="_blank">A-List, <em>Travel + Leisure</em>’s collection of the world’s top travel advisors</a>. I was accompanied by James Kydd, a private guide who proved invaluable both for his knowledge and for his companionship. A similar 10-day itinerary with Lorentz’s company, <a href="http://passage​" target="_blank">Passage to Africa</a>, including a private guide and all internal flights and transfers, starts at $46,240 for two people. </p>
Categories: Travel

An Insider's Guide to Celebrating the Holidays at Universal

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 12/16/2018 - 11:01
<p>Don’t just take a theme park vacation before the year’s end — cheers to Christmas and join a yuletide gathering at Universal's theme parks in California and Florida.</p><p>Literal holiday magic happens at <a href="" target="_blank">The Wizarding World of Harry Potter</a>, with immersive live performances, themed food, and exciting entertainment, while Sponge Bob Square Pants toasts to the season, Minions soar overhead, and <a href="" target="_blank">The Grinch comes alive</a> to (attempt to) destroy your celebrations.</p><p>Here’s all the celebratory glory you’ll find through Jan. 6 at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort.</p><h2>A Celebration Fit for Gryffindors</h2><p>At the mystical Hogsmeade Village — located at both Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood — mythical shops are decorated, magic abounds, and the singing Frog Choir brings cheer (and harmonic croaking) to the snow-capped town.</p><p>There’s sadly no Grand Feast — budding students should <a href="" target="_blank">travel to London for that</a> — but plenty of seasonal delights are on offer on both coasts, including a family-sized “holiday feast” of turkey, parsnips, and sage stuffing along with delicious hot butterbeer. Each night at sundown, Hogwarts Castle is bathed in lights, music, and projections displaying beloved moments from the series. The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts culminates in snowfall and festive revelry multiple times each evening in both California and Florida.</p><h2>Diagon Alley Gets in on the Festivities</h2><p>The wintertime fun continues at Universal Studios Florida, where guests can take the Hogwarts Express through Kings Cross Station — as buskers perform holiday tunes live — to reach Diagon Alley teeming with tinsel, handcrafted wreaths, and inventive decor. Don’t miss Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees providing wizard-friendly holiday cheer with original songs, and special Christmas ornaments and Hogwarts-themed tree toppers for sale.</p><img alt="Diagon Alley Harry Potter Christmas "src=""><h2>World-renowned Parades Excite</h2><p>Universal Studios Florida is also home to a larger-than-life celebration that brings the magic of New York City to the Orlando theme park. With <a href="" target="_blank">Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s</a>, colorful floats featuring characters from <em>Madagascar, Despicable Me </em>and <em>Sponge Bob Square Pants</em> travel through the theme park as eye-poppingly large balloons shaped like Minions and <i>Shrek</i>’s Donkey float overhead nightly. Between live entertainment, dancers, and can’t-miss sights, the parade goes beyond a regular character interaction to bring a seasonal flair to familiar animated faces.</p><img alt="Universal Orlando Resort Holiday Parade "src=""><h2>Cinematic Decor Pushes the Boundaries</h2><p>Universal theme parks have fully decked the halls, adding delightful decor to many areas of the park, including Hollywood’s <em>Despicable Me</em> land — complete with holiday Minions — and throughout Universal Studios Florida. Trees outside the parks stun as well, with one in Hollywood’s Universal CityWalk boasting 200,000 LED icicles synced to holiday music. There’s even dancing water fountains paired with red and green lights and corresponding tunes, adding extra charm to visits throughout winter.</p><img alt="Minion during the holiday parade at Universal Orlando Resort "src=""><h2>And a Beloved Holiday Grump</h2><p>Universal theme parks on both coasts offer opportunities to come face-to-face with Dr. Seuss’ unlikely Christmas hero, bringing the magic of the new<em> Grinch</em> film to life. Revelers at Universal Studios Hollywood can take photos with The Grinch and his dog Max, bask in the glow of an enticingly unusual 65-foot-tall Christmas tree, and take in live entertainment from Whoville residents on select dates throughout December. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, visitors can enjoy a live show, meet-and-greets, and even a character breakfast.</p>
Categories: Travel

Holly Monahan's 14-day Itinerary Around Thailand and Cambodia

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 12/16/2018 - 08:00
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Holly Monahan</a> is a member of <a href="" target="_blank">Travel + Leisure’s A-List</a>, a collection of the top travel advisors in the world, and can help plan your perfect getaway. Below is an example of the type of itineraries she creates. To work with Holly, you can contact her directly at </p><h2>Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok</h2><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>137 Pillars Suites Bangkok</p><h2>Days 2-3: Bangkok</h2><p>On your first full day in the city, take a private tour — traveling by foot, boat, three-wheeled <em>tuk-tuk</em>, and Sky Train. Depart early for the Marble Temple, where you will observe monks practicing their morning chants. Walk up the Golden Mount at Wat Saket, then board a tuk-tuk to the Grand Palace for a visit of the grounds and a stop at Wat Phra Kaew to see the Emerald Buddha. Afterwards, you will continue to Wat Pho to see the Reclining Buddha. Then, take a private longtail boat ride in the canals of Bangkok Noi to see a quieter side of this bustling city. That evening, take a nighttime tour exploring secret nooks and crannies, night markets, the “Little Lebanon” district, and live jazz.</p><p>The next day, take a tour of the cutting edge of Bangkok's art scene. Start at Chatuchack Market, one of Asia’s largest outdoor bazaars, then continue to a tour with a specialist guide at MOCA, Bangkok’s Museum of Contemporary Art, showcasing the best modern Thai artists. Head back to the city center to see the exhibits at BACC (Bangkok Art and Culture Center). </p><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>137 Pillars Suites Bangkok</p><h2>Days 4-6: Phuket</h2><p>Fly from Bangkok to Phuket and check in to your hotel before heading to the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.</p><p>The next day, spend the morning at leisure before a private excursion in Phang Nga Bay with the John Gray Sea Canoe company. Explore island caves by kayak with a private guide — dinner will be served on board the larger boat as the sun sets. </p><p>Spend the second full day in Phuket at your leisure.</p><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>Rosewood Phuket</p><h2>Days 7-9: Chiang Mai</h2><p>Fly from Phuket to Chiang Mai. That afternoon, accompany your guide on a tour of the Sankampang district of Chiang Mai and the MAIIAM Museum of Contemporary Art. </p><p>The next day, tour Chiang Mai, a city with an entirely different feel than bustling Bangkok. We suggest exploring the city's numerous temples; visit Wat Chedi Luang, the original home of the Emerald Buddha, and stroll some of the charming streets of the Old City. Then, discover the city’s vibrant art scene on the stylish Nimmanhemin Road. Later in the afternoon, visit the mountain temple of Doi Suthep. From the base of the temple, there are 300 steps up an intricately-carved staircase — the longest in Thailand — to the temple gate.</p><p>On your last day in town, depart with your guide for Elephant Nature Park, about 40 miles away. The park is the proud home to elephants of all ages. You will hear the personal stories of rescued and orphaned elephants, and see how they became free from abuse for the first time in their lives. You can help feed these magnificent creatures before enjoying your own vegetarian buffet meal. After lunch, visit "Cat Kingdom," where dozens of stray cats and kittens are cared for — then head back to the park to help staff bathe the elephants in the river. Your visit helps support the program’s regional projects and offers an invaluable opportunity to help elephant conservation.</p><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>Villa Mahabhirom</p><h2>Days 10-11: Siem Reap</h2><p>Fly from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap, in Cambodia. That afternoon, take a private cooking class where you will learn to make fresh, healthy vegetarian food — Khmer-style. Pick fresh organic herbs from the on-site garden and prepare fresh spring rolls, papaya salad, and the local specialty, <em>amok</em>. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for dinner.</p><p>The next day, take a Temples of the Forest tour by bicycle. Begin early at the ancient baths of Srah Srang, and then move on Ta Prohm and the lesser-visited temple of Ta Nei. There is a reasonable chance of having this beautiful Angkor temple to yourself to explore. End the morning at Ta Keo temple, known as the “mountain with bronze peaks,” and admire its five-tiered pyramid structure. Return to Siem Reap for lunch. In the afternoon, head to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, where you can cycle along the 8-meter-high laterite city wall. End at Bayon, King Jayavarman VII's state temple at the center of the city, where your guide will take you through the detailed bas reliefs illustrating everyday life in the Angkorian era. In the evening, enjoy an hour-long performance by Phare, The Cambodian Circus.</p><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>Jaya House River Park</p><h2>Day 12: Lake Tonle Sap and Beng Mealea</h2><p>Set out this morning with your guide and driver for a boat tour of Lake Tonle Sap, which is dotted with dozens of floating villages. Explore the town of Kompong Khleang, and take the opportunity to meet and interact with local fishing families. After exploring life on the water, enjoy a picnic lunch on board and continue to the mysterious jungle-clad Beng Mealea, often described as the blueprint for Angkor Wat. Built under the control of Suryavarman II, this temple is overgrown with roots and vines, retaining a very atmospheric feel.</p><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>Villa Mahabhirom</p><h2>Day 13: Angkor Wat</h2><p>Take an early morning tour for breathtaking views of Angkor Wat temple at sunrise, the best time for photography. Explore the central complex and bas-reliefs of the 12th century temple. Following lunch, see the work carried out by the local animal organization Siem Reap Pagoda Cats. For over four years, founder Josette has been caring for stray cats in Siem Reap, providing much needed veterinary care and finding adoptive homes.</p><p><strong>Stay</strong></p><p>Villa Mahabhirom</p><h2>Day 14: Depart from Siem Reap</h2><p>Continue on to your next destination.</p>
Categories: Travel

Harry and Meghan's Christmas Card Is Adorable — but You Need to See Will and Kate's Kids (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 12/15/2018 - 16:39
<p>The world has received its first 2018 Christmas gift in the form of the <a href="" target="_blank">royal family Christmas</a> cards.</p><p>On Friday morning, Prince William and Kate Middleton, along with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, shared their Christmas card photos with the world. Though the couples are sending out separate cards to their friends, family, and well-wishers, they are both equally adorable and come with some seriously sweet touches.</p><p>First, let’s break down Harry and Meghan’s epic card.</p><img alt=" Duke and Duchess of Sussex at their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House "src=""><p>According to Kensington Palace, the photo was taken during the couple’s wedding reception at Frogmore House in May. The photo, which was snapped by photographer Chris Allerton, also gives fans their best glimpse yet at Meghan’s second wedding dress designed by Stella McCartney. Both Harry and Meghan look incredibly relaxed — and in love — as fireworks light up the sky above.</p><p>Next, let’s take a peek at William and Kate’s.</p><img alt="Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their three children, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George "src=""><p>Within hours of posting the photo, William and Kate’s family photo received more than one million likes. Though the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look smashing in it, we have to believe all those likes came because of their three adorable children.</p><p>In the photo, social media users got a rare look at the couple’s youngest child, Prince Louis, who looked like the most adorable bundle of baby joy with his cherub-like cheeks on full display. In between the couple is Princess Charlotte, who gave the ultimate devious middle-child smile, while her elder brother Prince George jumped around his father. The photo, Kensington Palace noted, was taken by Matt Porteous.</p><p>And, not to be outdone by his children, Prince Charles and Camilla released their own holiday card. However, their card was not shared on Instagram by the official royal account. Instead, people caught a glimpse of it on Twitter, where Clarence House tweeted it.</p><img alt="Prince Charles and Camilla "src=""><p>Their photo was taken by Hugo Burnand in the garden of Clarence House this summer during Charles’ 70th birthday celebrations.</p><p>Now, if only we could get on their Christmas card mailing list...</p>
Categories: Travel

Save 34% off Stays at a Hip New Hotel in Portland's Chinatown

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 12/15/2018 - 15:53
<p><em>T+L launched Operation Vacation to inspire workers to use their days off and get away, offering exclusive travel discounts as incentive. For the latest deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, and trip packages, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p><p>Portland: 34 percent off <a href="" target="_blank">The Hoxton, Portland</a>, a hip sleep set inside a historic building in the city’s<a href="" target="_blank"> Old Town Chinatown</a>. The property boasts fashionable interiors straight out of your ‘Design Inspo’ Pinterest board: blush-colored ottomans, leafy plants, edgy artwork, and threadbare carpets.</p><p>The deal includes:</p>Two nights in a Cozy Room An in-room breakfast bagA $50 food and beverage credit A selection of local goodies<p>Original price: From $390 (or $195 per night)</p><p><strong>T+L Price</strong>: From $300 (or $150 per night); valid for travel from December 23, 2018 - March 26, 2019.</p><p>Booking details: use the code “TLDEAL” on the <a href="" target="_blank">website</a> to unlock the T+L exclusive. Prepaid non-refundable, $25 dollar change fee applies as long as the date is within the travel date window. Must be booked three days prior to arrival.</p><p> </p>
Categories: Travel

The Best-selling Travel Wallet on Everyone's Amazon Wish List

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 12/15/2018 - 10:30
<p>There's a high chance we just found the perfect travel wallet to accompany you on your next trip. That’s no exaggeration; we really do mean perfect. In addition to its minimalist design, myriad of card slots, and many other essential features, this <a href=";tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B0179BOLWU&amp;linkId=f9f770f7e944697c433807a518a882a1" target="_blank">Zoppen travel passport wallet</a> has over 1,800 five-star reviews on Amazon. Plus, it’s found its way onto <a href=";pg=1&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=f40daf82aa43b4f2551cef937f365fad&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">Amazon’s Most Wished For list</a>.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The Most Wished-for Travel Bags on Amazon</a></p><p>If you’re unfamiliar with <a href=";pg=1&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=f40daf82aa43b4f2551cef937f365fad&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">Amazon’s Most Wished For page</a>, it’s an ever-changing list of items that have been most added to Amazon users’ wish lists. It’s also a gold mine for <a href="" target="_blank">great gift ideas</a> and a fun place to see what people are dying to get their hands on.</p><img alt="Best Travel Passport Wallet "src=""><p>Currently, the <a href=";tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B0179BOLWU&amp;linkId=f9f770f7e944697c433807a518a882a1" target="_blank">Zoppen travel wallet</a> is one of the <a href=";pg=1&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=f40daf82aa43b4f2551cef937f365fad&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">most wished-for items in the travel category</a>, and we can certainly see why. Not only can it fit dollar bills and credit cards, this multi-purpose wallet can also hold a passport, airline tickets, and other important travel essentials (there’s even a sim card pouch). What's more: this wallet features RFID-blocking technology that’ll shield important information, such as credit card numbers, from electronic scanners and protect you from identity theft. Oh, and the sleek and chic design and 33 color options certainly add brownie points.</p><img alt="Best Travel Passport Wallet "src=""><p>To buy: <a href=";tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B0179BOLWU&amp;linkId=f9f770f7e944697c433807a518a882a1" target="_blank"></a>, from $14</p><p>Head to <a href=";tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B0179BOLWU&amp;linkId=f9f770f7e944697c433807a518a882a1" target="_blank"></a> to shop the <a href=";tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B0179BOLWU&amp;linkId=f9f770f7e944697c433807a518a882a1" target="_blank">Zoppen travel passport wallet</a> for $14 and see what other items made the <a href=";pg=1&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;tag=tlmostwishedfortravelwallet-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;linkId=f40daf82aa43b4f2551cef937f365fad&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325" target="_blank">Most Wished For list</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

LVMH to Buy Belmond, Making Some of the World's Most Luxurious Hotels Even More Glamorous

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 12/15/2018 - 06:43
<p>French luxury brand <a href="" target="_blank">LVMH</a>, whose portfolio includes brands ranging from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Fendi to Hennessy and Dom Pérignon, will soon have a range of new luxury hotels, cruises, and train excursions under its belt.</p><p>The luxury brand is acquiring Belmond, which is noted for its portfolio of 46 luxury hotels, train and cruise itineraries across 24 countries for a deal valued at $3.2 billion with an equity value of $2.6 billion. </p><p>The new acquisition will bring Belmond's famed hotels, such as the <a href="" target="_blank">Copacabana Palace</a> in Rio de Janeiro and the <a href="" target="_blank">Hotel Cipriani</a> in Venice, under LVMH’s portfolio. Belmond is noted for properties located in mesmerizing locations, like the <a href="" target="_blank">Hotel das Cataratas</a> in the Iguazú National Park and the <a href="" target="_blank">Belmond Eagle Island Lodge</a>, on a private island in the heart of the Okavango Delta.</p><p>The new deal will also bring Belmond's luxury trains, which include renowned selections like the <a href="" target="_blank">Venice Simplon-Orient Express</a>, the <a href="" target="_blank">Belmond Royal Scotsman</a>, and the <a href="" target="_blank">Belmond Andean Explorer</a> (South America’s first luxury sleeper train), to LVMH. </p><p>“Belmond delivers unique experiences to discerning travelers and owns a number of exceptional assets in the most desirable destinations; its heritage, its innovative services, its excellence in execution and its entrepreneurship resonates well with the values of the group and is complimentary to our own Cheval Blanc maisons and the Bvlgari hotels activities,” LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement.</a></p><p>LVMH's luxury properties include its <a href="" target="_blank">Cheval Blanc</a> collection, which offers stays at one-of-a-kind maisons with personalized service and amenities like in-room saunas. Belmond's additions will bring a slew of new memorable experiences for travelers to enjoy. </p><p> The deal is set to close in the first half of 2019, pending approval from Belmond’s shareholders.</p>
Categories: Travel

Richard Branson Says He Will Take His First Flight to Space Within the Next 6 Months

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 12/15/2018 - 06:28
<p>After Virgin Galactic’s successful space test flight, company founder Richard Branson is looking forward to the future — and it may come sooner than you think.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">CBS News</a>, Branson estimated that he will be able to take his first space flight “within the next six months” after his company, Virgin Galactic, completed a test flight to the edge of space on Thursday.</p><p>The rocket plane, SpaceShipTwo, was planned to reach an altitude of 50 miles, but exceeded its goal by reaching an altitude of 51.4 miles during the test flight, according to CBS. While this measurement for the edge of space is <a href="" target="_blank">still up for debate</a>, many authorities are considering it to be the actual distance to the line between space and the Earth’s atmosphere.</p><p>“Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space,” Branson said in a statement. After some more test flights, the company plans to move from the Mojave Desert to another site in New Mexico, where Branson expects to take his first flight.</p><p>“I'm itching to go,” Branson told CBS. After Branson takes flight, the company will start sending up astronauts.</p><p>The SpaceShipTwo will eventually be meant for commercial flights to space. The ship can accommodate up to six passengers plus two pilots, according to CBS. Of course, at first, tickets for these flights are currently valued at $250,000 a piece, <a href=";utm_term=.7412999d0800" target="_blank"><em>The Washington Post</em> reported</a>.</p><p>So what about those of us who can’t exactly afford a six-figure ticket? Branson is optimistic about this as well.</p><p>“It's very similar to the 1920s with commercial flights across the Atlantic. It cost a very similar price to what we're spending today to put people into space. But over the years, the price of crossing the Atlantic came down and down and down, and if we can get enough spaceships built and flying, I'm really hopeful that a lot of people watching your program one day will be able to go to space,” Branson told CBS.</p><p>The company is mainly focused on safety as well as eventually making flights affordable in the future.</p><p>So, who knows, someday space flights may be a new vacation idea for all of us.</p>
Categories: Travel

A Passenger Tried to Smuggle 70 Live Finches in Hair Rollers at JFK — and It's Not the First Time

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 17:54
<p>Dozens of tiny songbirds have been flocking to the U.S., but not in the way you think.</p><p>At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents stopped a man traveling from Georgetown, Guyana and conducted a search of his luggage, <a href="" target="_blank">ABC News reported</a>.</p><p>What they found was a bit unexpected. Inside the man’s black duffle bag were 70 live finches delicately placed inside hair rollers.</p><img alt="Finches found by CBP at JFK Airport "src=""><p>The passenger was subsequently arrested for attempting to smuggle the birds. The birds themselves were taken to the United States Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services, under quarantine, according to ABC News.</p><p>“CBP Agriculture Specialists are the first line of defense to prevent the introduction of animal diseases that have the potential to cause significant damage to the nation's agricultural economy," Troy Miller, director of field operations, New York Field Office, told ABC News.</p><p>Birds flown into the U.S. may be carriers of several diseases that can threaten agriculture in the U.S., including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (also known as Avian Flu or Bird Flu).</p><p>But according to <em><a href="" target="_blank">The New York Times</a></em>, this isn’t the first incident of finches being smuggled into the country using some unorthodox packing methods. In addition to hair rollers, cardboard toilet paper rolls are also used to transport the birds. Customs officials have said that about 200 of the tiny birds have been intercepted coming from South America, namely Guyana, according to <em>The New York Times</em>.</p><img alt="Finches found by CBP at JFK Airport "src=""><p>What possessed these smugglers to bring in so many birds? Singing contests.</p><p><em>The New York Times</em> reported that the birds are entered into “underground singing contests,” in which gamblers place bets on the most musical bird. Finches are particularly popular due to the amount of chirps they make per minute.</p><p>A sought-out male finch with a history of wins could sell for up to $10,000 said one investigation, aptly nicknamed “Operation G-Bird,” conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, <em>The New York Times</em> reported.</p><img alt="Finches found by CBP at JFK Airport "src=""><p>“The most common animal we see trying to be smuggled through the passenger environment are these birds, the finches,” said Anthony Bucci, a spokesman for United States Customs and Border Protection to <em>The New York Times</em>. “It goes in cycles, like everything else. It’s not an everyday occurrence or an every month occurrence, but it does happen,” Bucci added.</p><p>Usually, the smugglers are sent back to Guyana, but some are still admitted to the U.S. and fined. Apparently, bird smuggling can be a big business.</p>
Categories: Travel

What It's Like to Stay at the Most Exclusive Inn and Club in Florida

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 17:15
<p>December 20 is the opening night of the social season at the <a href="" target="_blank">Gasparilla Inn &amp; Club</a> <em>(doubles from $275)</em>. In the days leading up to it there’s a sense of anticipation in the air, as Mercedes station wagons and Range Rovers pull around the circular driveway to unload garment bags and golf clubs, and the hotel comes to life with families — grandparents, the kids, and grandkids in tow. Many of the entourages have had this evening on their calendars every year for the past 10, 20, 30 years.</p><p>The big night unfolds like so: men in Brooks Brothers clothes and women in Gretchen Scott (glass of champagne in one hand, the collar of a navy-blazered child in the other) stroll through the butter-yellow halls to the dining room, where big round tables of eight and 10 are set with white linens and emerald-green goblets. Parents leap from tables as they rediscover one another — “Hey, buddy!” — and children recognize the friends they dug sandcastles with a year earlier. The delicious local grouper everybody has been looking forward to is still on the menu, though this year it sits on a fashionable bed of kale and quinoa.</p><p>The season is off and running. The next morning it continues over a big breakfast (creamed chipped beef, anyone?) and a round of golf on the Pete Dye course. Then it’s off to the Beach Club for a salad followed by an hour staring at the Gulf from a chaise lounge, drink in hand, before it’s time to dress for dinner. Well, maybe one quick game of Ping-Pong.</p><p>And the next day it begins all over again.</p><p>There are so many <a href="" target="_blank">Floridas</a> I have lost count. But the scene at the Gasparilla Inn &amp; Club was a new one to me — quite unlike the setting of the Breakers resort, the center of the Palm Beach social set, and at least several million light-years from the Faena Hotel in <a href="" target="_blank">Miami Beach</a>, with its art and fashion crowd. “The Inn,” as it is called by regulars, is a grand, columned wooden manor house in the Old Florida style, built in 1913 on Boca Grande, a narrow island 53 miles south of Sarasota. There are some romantic old houses and two blocks of mostly mom-and-pop shops on Boca Grande, population 1,230, where the citizens, hair always in place and linen shirts never wrinkled — glide around on golf carts.</p><img alt="Scenes from Gasparilla Inn, in Florida "src=""><p>The Inn is very much the center of this cozy world, and for most of its history, a newcomer could book a room only with a personal reference from a regular guest. Fifteen years ago, however, the doors were thrown open to the public. (Phone bookings are still preferred.) Today, vacancies are rare — don’t plan on coming here for Thanksgiving next year.</p><p>It’s impressive, since hotels like this face the delicate task of staying fresh while appearing not to change. The Gasparilla is among the last of the classic country club resorts, along with the Greenbrier, in West Virginia, and the Cloister and Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia, where good manners are everything. The cocky squillionaire who relies on “Do you know who I am?” to get his way will have a rough time of it here. The guests, who share an enthusiasm for pink, come largely from the Midwest and the more Cheeverish suburbs of the Northeast. One of the interior decorators, Mimi McMakin, a Palm Beach native, calls it “the place for well-heeled bare feet.”</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">The Top 10 Resort Hotels in Florida (Outside of Miami Beach)</a></p><p>Old Florida style means a lobby that feels like a living room, with old-school Lawson sofas alongside Bar Harbor wicker, and sprinkler pipes wrapped with raffia. The 164 rooms, suites, and two-bedroom cottages are a beachier version of everybody’s houses back in Winnetka and Darien, with white-painted furniture, cheerful colors, and tiled rather than marble bathrooms. You’ll find shells everywhere: on the lamps, the candlesticks, the cocktail tables. Throw in a stuffed tarpon and a tole pineapple lamp, and there you have it — a look you think you’ve seen before, but authentically done here, and pretty magical.</p><img alt="Terrace and Interior at the Gasparilla Inn, in Florida "src=""><p>The Old Florida atmosphere is especially thick in the restaurant, with its slowly rotating ceiling fans, starched white linens, and silver-domed butter servers; in BZ’s, a clubby bar paneled with pecky cypress; and in the Pelican Club Room, the rare, masculine corner of this hotel, where for a moment every man can feel he played lacrosse at Dartmouth. Wherever you go you will find good old-fashioned obsequious hotel service. No waiter here ever begins a meal by asking, “So, how are we doing tonight?”</p><p>It’s all insistently civilized. Here are some of the more astonishing things I experienced during my three days: No loud voices, beyond the occasional hearty country club laugh. Every 10-year-old knows to shake your hand firmly upon meeting you. Not once did I see someone texting while walking, or children with phones at a meal — they talked to their parents. And all of this happens without formal rules beyond a rudimentary dress code. You just wouldn’t dare.</p><p>Perhaps the biggest unwritten rule of all is discretion, and the sense of insiderness it lends the hotel. The pro shop sells baseball caps with the Gasparilla Inn’s pirate logo, but not its name. If you take one home and wear it in the right zip code, you can count on strangers pulling you aside and saying, “Don’t you just love that place? We’ve been going for years.” Look them in the eye and say, “Oh, we just love it.” It will never occur to them that you’ve only been once.</p>
Categories: Travel

Alaska Airlines Will Let You Board Early If You Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 16:52
<p>You can wear your ugly Christmas sweater with pride this year. Especially if you’re flying on <a href="" target="_blank">Alaska Airlines</a>.</p><p>National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day (one of the more fun invented holidays) is Dec. 21, and Alaska is celebrating once again by offering a perk to customers flying in them.</p><p>If you happen to be flying on any Alaska Airlines flight on the third Friday in December, remember to wear your ugly holiday sweater and the airline will offer you early boarding. Assuming everyone else on your flight doesn't have the same idea, you can avoid some of the frustration of boarding and get your carry-on in the overhead compartment.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>The airline is also playing holiday music during boarding and offering a free selection of holiday movies to get passengers in a festive mood all month long.</p><p>"This time of year, we consider ourselves the 'merrier carrier,' so we love going above and beyond to help our guests embrace the fun, festive side of flying during the holidays," Natalie Bowman, managing director of marketing and advertising at Alaska Airlines, said in a statement.</p><p>The airline is (of course) encouraging passengers to take photos and share them on social media with the hashtags <a href="" target="_blank">#UglySweaterDay and #iFlyAlaska</a>. If you need a sweater, Amazon has <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";field-keywords=ugly+sweater" target="_blank">some horrifically ugly options</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Perfumer Jo Malone Shares Her Family-friendly Venice Itinerary — and Her Best Tips for Finding Cheap Eats

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 13:00
<h2>A Room with a View</h2><p>My husband, Gary, and I have been to <a href="" target="_blank">Venice</a> many times and have stayed in properties all over the city, from cheap B&amp;Bs to high-end properties like <a href="" target="_blank">Belmond Hotel Cipriani</a> <em>(doubles from $786)</em>. This time around, I’m tempted to spend a few days at <a href="" target="_blank">Hotel Danieli</a> <em>(doubles from $503)</em>, which is steeped in old-world elegance and makes you feel like you’re in an Agatha Christie novel. The rooms have these stunning balconies that overlook the lagoon.</p><img alt="Hotel Danieli in Venice "src=""><h2>Study Abroad</h2><p>One of my new goals in life is to take four educational vacations a year. As a fragrance maker, I like adventures that activate my senses and spark my creativity. But the trip to Venice is actually my teenage son’s idea. He loves art and wants to explore museums like the <a href="" target="_blank">Peggy Guggenheim Collection</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">Doge’s Palace</a>.</p><h2>Through the Looking Glass</h2><p>I’m fascinated by other people and what they put in bottles, whether it’s perfume, olive oil, or wine. That’s why our holiday will include not one, but two glass-centered side adventures. First, we’ll drive to Bibano, a small village an hour north of Venice, to visit the <a href="" target="_blank">Bottega Spa</a> winery and learn how they make their world-famous Prosecco. Our second excursion will be to the island of Murano, where we’ll watch the glassblowers and dine at the hole-in-the-wall trattorias.</p><img alt="Scenes from Venice, Italy "src=""><h2>Local Flavor</h2><p>I’m not interested in checking out the newest restaurants. I like to find out <a href="" target="_blank">where the Venetians eat and drink</a>. One of my best tips for dining out in Venice is to order an aperitivo at the bar rather than at a table. It’ll be a third of the price. That said, I’m definitely splurging on a meal at Belmond Hotel Cipriani’s <a href="" target="_blank">Giudecca 10</a> <em>(entrées $32–$44)</em>. They have the best pizzas and Bellinis.</p><p><em>Inspired by Malone’s travels to Italy and Portugal, <a href="" target="_blank">Jo by Jo Loves</a> ($105) combines citrusy notes of grapefruit and bitter orange.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

You Can Trade Your Hilton Loyalty Points for Tickets to the GRAMMYs

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 11:01
<p>Your hotel loyalty points can get you much, much more than a free night every once in a while. Like, perhaps, a night with Steven Tyler watching the GRAMMYs together.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Hilton Honors</a> is auctioning away a few fantastic experiences around the 61st annual GRAMMYs, including opportunities to hang with famous musicians, access into official after-parties or the chance to watch the awards show live from at the Staples Center.</p><p>It’s necessary to place your bid for the more exclusive packages, but others are a guarantee. For 300,000 points, you can nab <a href=";pgmode1=$pgmode1&amp;pgcust1=spotlight-grammys&amp;pgmode3=livebid&amp;" target="_blank">two tickets to MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute Concert</a> honoring Dolly Parton (and it includes dinner). The <a href=";pgmode1=$pgmode1&amp;pgcust1=spotlight-grammys&amp;pgmode3=livebid&amp;" target="_blank">VIP GRAMMY Experience</a> is available for 450,000 points. It includes not only tickets to the show but tickets to the official pre-show brunch and after party. Plus, you get a deluxe room at the Beverly Hilton for your time in L.A.</p><p>If you’re feeling lucky, you can place a bid on a few more exclusive experiences. Steven Tyler is hosting a viewing party to raise money for <a href="" target="_blank">Youth Villages</a>, a nonprofit that supports survivors of abuse. If you win, you and a guest will get to walk the red carpet at the viewing party gala and then watch Steven Tyler and others perform. (An elaborate dinner is included, too.) <a href=";pageName=spotlight&amp;pgcust1=spotlight-grammys" target="_blank">Another deluxe opportunity</a> up for grabs includes tickets to the Dolly Parton MusiCares event, pre-GRAMMY brunch, after-party and the awards show itself.</p><p>The GRAMMYs award show will take place on Sunday, Feb. 10, so mark your calendar and start counting your points.</p>
Categories: Travel

Where to Find the World’s Best Hot Chocolate

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:45
<p>Crisp air, falling snow, and cozy sweaters are all winter staples. But what’s winter without a mug of comforting hot chocolate? The powdered, <em>just add water</em> kind is fine for those times you’re surrounded by friends and family in the comfort of your home. But every now and then you have to splurge on an <a href="" target="_blank">upgraded</a> cup made with fresh and decedent homemade chocolate.</p><p>From New England to New Mexico and France to Colombia, we’ve searched far and wide to find the best hot chocolates around the world to make <a href="" target="_blank">your colder months</a> a little more delicious.</p><img alt="Best Hot Chocolate - Old Chocolate House, Belgium "src=""><h2>The Old Chocolate House: Bruges, Belgium</h2><p>A family-run business, <a href="" target="_blank">The Old Chocolate House</a> boasts an extensive range of chocolates and hot chocolates, and a tea room for enjoying other sweets and their famous waffles. Hot chocolate varieties come in milk, dark, white, and single-origin selections. Try their forbidden hot chocolates, made with spirits like Grand Marnier, rum, amaretto, and Bailey’s. Don’t forget to top your hot chocolate with to-die-for garnishes like a marshmallow, Rice Krispies treats, whipped cream, or gingerbread crunch.</p><h2>Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail: Vail, Colorado</h2><p>Known as “Haute Chocolate,” this mug of decadent, creamy hot chocolate is made with <a href="" target="_blank">Valrhona chocolate</a> and steamed milk, and arrives in a traditional French hot chocolate pot at <a href="" target="_blank">one of Vail’s best hotels</a>. After it’s churned tableside, the hot chocolate is poured into a mug topped with a dark chocolate lattice and a homemade marshmallow nestled inside. As the hot chocolate is poured, the chocolate lattice melts into the cup and the marshmallow makes the already dreamy drink a creamy masterpiece.</p><h2>Angelina: Paris, France</h2><p>Founded in 1903, <a href="" target="_blank">Angelina</a> has been an icon in Paris for over a century and a high-society establishment known for its sophistication and elegance. Their famous African hot chocolate comes from a secret recipe made of African cocoa from Niger, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, specially created for Angelina. The combination of these chocolates from different countries gives the hot chocolate a thick, rich taste, and the fresh whipped cream served with it lends for a luscious experience.</p><h2>Caffé Rivoire: Florence, Italy</h2><p>A legend in Florence, <a href="" target="_blank">Caffé Rivoire</a> began in 1872 when Enrico Rivoire, chocolatier of the Savoy royal family, opened up shop. Try their hot chocolate <em>denso</em>, an Italian version of hot chocolate almost as rich as chocolate pudding, topped with homemade whipped cream.</p><img alt="Best Hot Chocolate - Mindy's HotChocolate Chicago "src=""><h2>Mindy’s Hot Chocolate: Chicago, Illinois</h2><p>James Beard Award-winning chef Mindy Segal <a href="" target="_blank">opened her eatery</a> in 2005 after working in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, and fans rave about her hot chocolate served with a chunky house-made marshmallow. Varieties include the “Chocolate Mint” with fresh mint, French white chocolate, French milk chocolate, Belgian white chocolate, and “The Boozy,” where a shot of cognac, brandy, whiskey, or rum is added to your choice of hot chocolate.</p><h2>City Bakery: New York City, New York</h2><p>What started as a small operation on a side street in Union Square in 1990 has turned into <a href="" target="_blank">a hot chocolate empire</a>. Owner Maury Rubin has used the same hot chocolate recipe from the start to create a deep, dark hot chocolate perfect for a chilly NYC day. Order the original version for a rich treat and don’t forget to add a homemade marshmallow cube.</p><h2>Chocolate Mayordomo: Oaxaca, Mexico<b> </b></h2><p>This family-run business has been creating hot chocolate and chocolate products since 1956. <a href="" target="_blank">Mayordomo</a> uses natural ingredients like cocoa, cinnamon, almonds, and sugar to create a rich hot chocolate unique to Oaxaca. There are numerous branches of Chocolate Mayordomo in Oaxaca, where guests can see how the company processes its chocolate.</p><h2>E. Wedel Hot Chocolate: Poland</h2><p>As the oldest Polish brand of chocolate, dating back to 1851, <a href="" target="_blank">E. Wedel</a> has created a refined brand of drinking chocolates served in “Chocolate lounges” across Poland. Their hot chocolates come in selections like bitter, slightly bitter, milk, double milk, white, and more. You can also get your hot chocolate with flavors like “raspberries in wine,” and “caramel with sea salt.”</p><img alt="Best Hot Chocolate - Kakawa Chocolate House, Santa Fe "src=""><h2>Kakawa Chocolate House: Santa Fe, New Mexico</h2><p>Founded in 2005, <a href="" target="_blank">Kakawa</a> — an Olmec word meaning chocolate or cacao — specializes in drinking chocolate elixirs based on recipes recreated from historical sources. These hot chocolates range from pre-Colombian to colonial American to contemporary creations, and are served in small hand-painted mugs from Oaxaca, Mexico. Try the Chili Elixir, made with spicy chilies, or the Jefferson Elixir, inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s own recipe.</p><h2>L.A. Burdick: New England</h2><p>Established in New York City in 1987, <a href="" target="_blank">L.A. Burdick Chocolate</a> now has multiple locations across New England, producing some of the best chocolates and hot chocolates in the world. L.A. Burdick cafes sell dark, milk, and white hot chocolates, as well as single-source varieties from places like Ecuador, Madagascar, Bolivia, and Peru.</p><h2>La Puerta Falsa: Bogota, Colombia</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">In Bogota</a>, head to <a href="" target="_blank">La Puerta Falsa</a> to experience <em>chocolate completo</em>—hot chocolate served with a small piece of cheese and buttered bread. Don’t be afraid, the sweet hot chocolate combined with salty bread and cheese will leave you never wanting to go back to traditional hot chocolate. Drop small pieces of the cheese into the hot chocolate and let it melt, then use the bread for dipping. No need to thank us.</p><h2>Café Schober: Zurich, Switzerland</h2><p>The secret to <a href="" target="_blank">this Old Town Zurich café’s</a> rich, creamy hot chocolate? Melting chocolate into whole milk for an impossibly decadent winter treat. Order yours with a dollop of fresh cream whipped into peaks resembling the surrounding alpines, or add in a shot of espresso for an afternoon pick-me-up.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Top-rated Travel Pillow Is 30% Off Right Now — Shop Before It Sells Out

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:19
<p>Get your credit cards ready, because <a href=";linkCode=ll2&amp;tag=tlamazonprimebcozzypillow-20&amp;linkId=acde036739f92c97f770bccadf7f5a97" target="_blank">Amazon</a> just launched a lightning deal for their top-rated travel pillow as part of their 12 Days of Deals promotion — and we’re almost certain it’ll sell out.</p><p>With over 3,200 rave reviews and a certified “Amazon’s Choice” banner that dubs it a travel accessory must-have by the online retail giant itself, <a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlamazonprimebcozzypillow-20&amp;linkId=28789cbfd725a4eb5d0b100194c4ff0f" target="_blank">the Bcozzy Chin Supporting Travel Pillow</a> should be added to all <a href=";ref_=nav_logo_prime_join&amp;linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlamazonprimebcozzypillow-20&amp;linkId=374c0df648b466fe92c136527018cb77" target="_blank">Amazon Prime members</a>’ carts — especially at 30% off.</p><p> </p><p>The Bcozzy pillow goes a step further than regular neck pillows. Just wrap it around your neck, rest your chin on the cushy pillow, and get ready for zero head bobbing as you fall asleep.</p><p>But if you want one of these top-rated, chin-supporting travel pillows for $20 (originally $30), then you’ll have to act fast. As one of Amazon’s Lightning Deals, this sale ends around 1:30 p.m. EST — that is, unless it sells out before the timer ends.</p><img alt="BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow "src=""><p>To buy: <a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlamazonprimebcozzypillow-20&amp;linkId=28789cbfd725a4eb5d0b100194c4ff0f" target="_blank"></a>, $20 (originally $30)</p>
Categories: Travel

This Gorgeous Island Inhabited by 5 Species of Penguins Is for Sale — and You Name the Price

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 09:35
<p>You might want to pack your bags, because we just found your new dream home.</p><p>And the best part is that it’s a whole island... inhabited by <a href="" target="_blank">penguins</a>. According to the <a href="" target="_blank">BBC</a>, Pebble Island, located in the <a href="" target="_blank">Falkland Islands</a>, is officially going up for sale now that the current owners want to move on.</p><p>The 20-mile-long and 4-mile-wide island is currently owned by Sam Harris, great-great grandson of the original buyer, John Markham Dean, who bought the island back in 1869 for only £400 (about $505 USD).</p><p>In addition to five different species of penguins, the island is also home to sea lions, 42 species of birds, 6,000 sheep, and 125 cattle, according to the BBC. The variety of wildlife aside, the island is made up of mountains, lakes, a pebble beach, a few lodges built for tourists, and a former army base. The island has been named an International Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), the BBC reported.</p><p>“It was a difficult decision, but it comes down to the fact that my mum and dad aren't in a position to continue managing it. It's going to be difficult to say goodbye to it,” Harris told the BBC.</p><p>At the moment, Harris is not sure what price he will accept for the island, but he wishes for it to go to someone interested in farming. According to Harris, the island has lots of tourism potential and can manufacture tons of wool that can be sold in the U.K., but that also comes with the responsibility of taking care of the land and the animals who inhabit it.</p><p>“We went to an estate agency to get it valued, but they couldn't value it because we've owned it for so long. There are no recent values on it they can go on. So we're open to offers,” Harris told the BBC.</p><p>We’re guessing they want to sell it for more than $500. According to a <a href="" target="_blank">CPI inflation calculator</a>, the original $505 Dean paid for the island would be the equivalent of $9,358.76 USD today. So, hopefully they get more than that at least.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Actor Is Suing American Airlines After His Finger Got Stuck in an Armrest

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 08:44
<p>Here’s your casual reminder to watch your fingers when you’re flying.</p><p>Actor Stephen Keys, known for his roles in "Soul Plane<i>," </i><em>Big Time Rush</em> and "Fifty Pills" is currently suing <a href="" target="_blank">American Airlines</a> and SkyWest over an injured pinky finger, according to <em><a href="" target="_blank">USA Today</a></em>.</p><p>According to Key’s lawsuit, he injured his pinky finger after attempting to raise an armrest to reach his seatbelt on a flight back in September. His finger was stuck in the armrest for almost an hour, according to <a href="" target="_blank">Fox News</a>.</p><p>“The spring mechanism embedded inside of this hole in the armrest applied intense pressure to plaintiff's finger, immediately inflicting injury, swelling and pain,” it says in the suit.</p><p>His suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Dec. 5, claims that Keys suffered subsequent “severe emotional distress and weeks of pain,” <a href="" target="_blank">NBC Los Angeles reported</a>. Keys says he is unable to drive his car or even play with his children due to the pain of his injury.</p><p>In addition to the pain and anxiety of having his finger caught, Keys also claims he was humiliated when other passengers became aware of his predicament, causing a “spectacle.” Flight attendants and firefighters attempted to help Keys to no avail. An airline mechanic was able to free Keys by disassembling the arm rest, according to <a href="" target="_blank">NBC San Diego</a>.</p><p>“By the end of it all, he remained entrapped in this nightmarish condition,” it says in the suit.</p><p>“The comfort and safety of our passengers is our first priority. We worked with our partner American to reach out to Mr. Keys regarding his bruised finger and look forward to swiftly resolving this matter. Due to the ongoing litigation, we cannot comment further,” said SkyWest in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a>.</p><p>At the moment, it is unclear what amount of compensation for damages Keys is asking for in the suit.</p>
Categories: Travel

Air France Hires First Female CEO of a Major Airline

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 08:31
<p>Air France’s new CEO not only has an impressive resume, she’s also great at breaking glass ceilings.</p><p>The European airline’s board of directors named their new CEO on Wednesday after a slew of resignations and employee strikes, and their decision marks a huge historical moment. Anne Rigail, the incoming CEO, is actually the first woman to <a href="" target="_blank">lead a major airline</a>, <em><a href=";utm_term=.15b3a8cc55b4" target="_blank">The Washington Post</a> </em>reported.</p><p>Rigail, who was previously the company’s executive vice president, customer division, will officially start her term as CEO on Monday, Dec. 17. Benjamin Smith, acting CEO of Air France, personally recommended her for the job, saying <a href="" target="_blank">in a statement</a>: “Anne is a strong professional in the airline industry. Throughout her career, she has always paid particular attention to employees while implementing the many projects and transformations she has led, and placed the customer at the heart of everything she does.” </p><p>While budget carrier EasyJet was run by CEO Carolyn McCall for seven years and regional airline Air Wisconsin is led by CEO Christine Dreister, no major U.S. carrier has put a woman in its top spot. JetBlue does have a female president and COO (Joanna Geraghty), the second highest position at the company, <em>The Washington Post </em>pointed out. </p><p>The airline industry has not been an easy place to climb the company ladder for women in particular. According to the <a href="" target="_blank">International Air Transport Association</a>, only 3 percent of airline CEOs worldwide were women, compared to 12 percent of women CEOs in other industries. Truly, there is still a long way to go to achieve equality across the board, but Rigail’s new position is a step in the right direction.</p><p>The former AirFrance CEO, Jean-Marc Janaillac, stepped down from his position in May after numerous strikes that cost the company millions of dollars. Soon after Rigail takes her new position, employees will see a 4-percent pay increase that was <a href="" target="_blank">agreed upon in October</a>.</p><p>However, Rigail will still face pay negotiations with cabin crew and pilots, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bloomberg</em> reported</a>.</p><p>“I would like to thank Benjamin Smith for the outstanding work he has accomplished during his time as acting CEO Air France...our airline has rapidly taken decisive steps, renewing constructive social dialogue, and proposing a new executive governance structure...I wish Anne every success in her new position, for the benefit of both Air France and the Air France-KLM Group. I am very pleased that she has accepted this very exciting new challenge,” Anne-Marie Couderc, chairwoman of the Air France-KLM Board of Directors, said in a company statement.</p>
Categories: Travel

Carnival’s Newest Ship Will Have the First Roller Coaster at Sea

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 08:07
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Carnival Cruise Line</a> is known for being the most extra fleet in the sea, but its latest announcement may take the cake.</p><p>Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president, shared with <a href=""><em>USA Today</em><i>,</i></a> that the company will soon add the 5,200-passenger ship known as Carnival Mardi Gras to its fleet. It will be the first in a series of new vessels set to arrive by 2020. On board, passengers will be able to experience a number of exciting things, including the first roller coaster ever on a cruise ship.</p><p>"It will be a thrill ride," Duffy said, noting she rode the prototype of the attraction, which was assembled by its manufacturer, Munich-based Maurer Rides, herself. "We think it's a really cool innovation for Mardi Gras, which will have a lot of new guest features and experiences that we have not done before."</p><p>The coaster will go by the name BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster. It will consist of an 800-foot-long track and come with enough twists, turns and drops to satisfy all theme park lovers. At its top speeds, it will reach almost 40 miles per hour. Best of all, as an all-electric roller coasters it will be eco-friendly.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">These Hotels With Roller Coasters and Water Slides Are Like Sleeping at a Theme Park</a><br /><br />At its highest point, the coaster will hit 187 feet above sea level. This is a gift to the passengers, as Duffy noted, "We wanted to be able to give guests (the chance to have) that visual from the top of the ship."</p><p>"People always want more, whether it is (for their) vacations or anything else," Duffy added. "They're looking for something new, different and exciting." </p><p>Of course, the coaster won’t be the only reason to ride this ship. As <em>USA Today</em> noted, the vessel will be the sixth <a href="" target="_blank">largest ship in the world</a> at the time it debuts and by far the biggest in Carnival’s fleet. Stay tuned for <a href="" target="_blank">more information and surprises from the ship</a> to come.</p>
Categories: Travel