Posts tagged with "visit"

Condé Nast Traveler – 2021 Gold List

Condé Nast Traveler today announced its 2021 Gold List. The annual list, curated by Traveler editors in New York and London, is the ultimate collection of our favorite hotels and cruise lines across the globe—those that exemplify the gold standard of service and hospitality, a designation that is even more meaningful after a year of interrupted travel.

For the first time in its history, this year’s Gold List went beyond places to stay, expanding to include a range of experiences—flights, restaurants, bars, and destinations—our editors consider truly exceptional. These are the places we daydreamed about in lockdown, and a few we were actually able to visit—all that sustained us in a year of curtailed travel.

“We wanted to take a more holistic and personal approach to what we define as Gold, just as we’re doing with travel across the board,” said Jesse Ashlock, U.S. Editor at Condé Nast Traveler. “These are the properties, destinations, and experiences we kept thinking about in a year when travel was so constrained. In some cases they represent the travel that was possible to us. We hope they inspire readers to plan their next adventures as the world opens up again.”

While the expected threshold of excellence continues with this year’s Gold List, the 2021 winners more broadly reflect how and why we travel. Highlights include grand dame hotels like the stately Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Hong Kong’s near-perfect Peninsula, but also the tiny five-room SingleThread in Sonoma, California, where a pilgrimage-worthy 11 course dinner is the real draw. We spotlight destinations that we can’t wait to revisit, bustling cities like Rome and restorative places like the Peruvian Andes. And we include the restaurants and bars that should be on every traveler’s map–legends like Keens Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan and under-the-radar standouts like South Africa’s Wolfgat. We rhapsodize about the lie-flat seats on Cathay Pacific and Delta’s always stellar customer service, and how we can’t stop thinking about the Thomas Keller-created menus on Seabourn and the excursion we took to a Sicilian winery while sailing with Oceania.

All winners of the 2021 Gold List are prominently featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s website and celebrated in the January/February issue on newsstands nationwide Dec. 22.

Travel with Virgin Limited in 2020

2020 has undoubtedly been a year like no other and sadly for many of us travel plans were squashed and much of the travel industry was put on hold. Through the global grounding of so many travelers we saw new trends emerge and as we start to look ahead to 2021, Virgin Limited Edition, the luxury collection of properties owned by Sir Richard Branson, has rounded up the trends it has spotted from around the collection. With new vaccines around the corner, we can only remain optimistic that 2021 will bring back some normality and we can finally make up for those lost holidays, making next year one to remember.

NEW OPENINGS:

Necker Island – After more than two years of construction, following the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, Necker Island is now fully restored to its former glory and looking more beautiful than ever. With the BVI borders re-opening on 1 December, Necker is ready to welcome back guests. Those visiting in 2020 and 2021 will be amongst the first to experience the island following its incredible restoration that has included a brand new Bali Hi complex, two additional guest rooms and the installation of three giant new wind turbines, furthering the island’s commitment towards sustainability and renewable energy.

Moskito Island – Early 2021 will see the much-anticipated launch of Moskito Island in the BVI’s, situated just two miles from sister island, Necker. Home to the Branson Estate which is newly available for rental, next year will see the full launch of Moskito Island in what has already been described as “the most exclusive homeowners association in the world”. As the island sets to launch with brand new uber luxury private Estates for rental, it is most certainly one to watch for 2021….

Trend – As well as commercial travel, both Necker Island and Moskito Island are accessible by private jet, a form of travel that saw a 27% increase in bookings in 2020 following the pandemic outbreak and is likely to continue in 2021 as passengers opt to travel exclusively within their bubble.

STAY FOR LONGER AND WORK REMOTELY:

Son Bunyola – Another trend that has emerged from the pandemic is guests looking to stay away for longer and take advantage of a work life balance with new surroundings as their remote office location. In light of this the much-loved Son Bunyola estate, located in the beautiful UNESCO world heritage site of the Tramuntana mountains in Mallorca with its three individual secluded villas set across a stunning 700-acre private estate, has created a long stay offer for guests looking to stay longer.

Offer – Guests booking a stay of four weeks or more, will receive two free nights each week; a total of eight free nights.

This offer is valid on new bookings for arrivals from 10th April – 11th June and 11th September – 31st October 2021 in Sa Punta de S’Aguila, Sa Terra Rotja and Son Balagueret. Rates are from EUR 7,500 for a stay in Son Balagueret on a self-catering basis. Rates are priced per week and are calculated based on receiving two free nights, per week. A minimum stay of four weeks is applicable.

SAFARI AND CONSERVATION:

Safari is always one for the bucket list and Virgin Limited Edition offers two world-class game reserves offering some of the most spectacular game viewing there is; Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, located in the Western sector of South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Mahali Mzuri, situated in the exclusive Olare Motorogi Conservancy of the famous Maasai Mara.

Today though safari isn’t just about the thrill of a game drive, it is very much about education and long-term conservation and nothing is more important to the Rangers and Guides at both Ulusaba and Mahali Mzuri. Guests on safari can expect to learn in abundance about endangered species and help in the work being done to protect them for our future generation. They will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture, visit the local communities that both  game reserves support and witness some of the hugely important work both camps are doing to educate, develop and protect the livelihoods of those communities.

Offer – Ulusaba Private Game Reserve – Guests booking a stay of four nights or more will receive the final night for free.

Valid for new bookings for arrivals from 2nd January – 30th June and 1st September – 21st December 2021. Stays at Safari and Rock Lodge start from ZAR 12,000 and Cliff Lodge from ZAR 22,200. Rates are quoted per person, per night, based on double occupancy and all rates include accommodation, all meals and drink (including a top quality wine list and champagne), twice daily game drives.

Offer – Mahali Mzuri – All new bookings of three nights or more will be treated to the final night for free.

Valid for arrivals from: 1st August – 21st December 2020 and 2nd January – 15th June 2021, 1st November – 21st December 2021. Rates from US$ 945 per person, per night based on double occupancy and all rates include accommodation, daily game drives and game drives at night in 13,500 hectares, all meals and drinks (including alcoholic beverages), conservancy fees and unlimited access to the exclusive Olare Motorogi Conservancy, visits to the local markets, transfers from the Olare Orok airstrip and all taxes and local levies.

A TASTE OF LOCAL CULTURE:

Kasbah Tamadot – Situated in the spectacular High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, this award-winning Kasbah has gained a reputation for the incredible work it does to support the local villages that surround it. With 99% of staff locals of the surrounding villages, the hotel is renowned for combining luxury whilst immersing its guests in community culture. For a true cultural immersion, guests are invited to join the Authentically Berber Experience. This includes a 2/3 hour walking trek in the Atlas Mountains, tea in a local Berber house, one hour Berber cooking lesson, Berber bread baking and a visit to the Eve Branson Foundation set up by the hotel and Eve herself in 2005.

Offer – Guests booking a stay of four nights or more will receive the final night for free. Those looking to stay a little longer, will be offered two nights free when booking seven nights or more.

This offer is valid for arrivals from 15th October – 21st December 2020 & 1st May – 30th September 2021, subject to availability. Rates are from MAD 6,000 per room, per night based on double occupancy and include accommodation in one of the luxurious bedrooms, suites or Berber Tents, a daily breakfast of hot and cold dishes and all taxes.

PRIVATE RESIDENCES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY:

Mont Rochelle – 2020 saw an increase in demand for villa and private residence rentals, something that is expected to continue into 2021 as families look for privacy and seclusion away from the crowds. The stunning private Manor House at Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard, set in the beautiful vineyards of Franschhoek, offers the perfect oasis. Made up of four deluxe suites, and a luxurious bunk room for children, as well as two private swimming pools, it offers all the creature comforts of a home while allowing guests to indulge in all the luxuries of a hotel stay. Groups of up to eight people are welcomed to kick back and relax while a dedicated team of staff take care of the rest; from arranging private dining and spa treatments to horse-back riding and wine tasting, no detail is overlooked.

Offer – Groups of up to eight adults and six children will be welcomed to make the Manor House their own for long stays of one month or more.

Rates start from 35,000 Rand per night based on a Bed and Breakfast basis. Rates are inclusive of accommodation and access to all the luxury facilities at Mont Rochelle including the spa and two restaurants Miko & Country Kitchen, a dedicated villa manager, daily breakfast and daily housekeeping. There is also the option for guests to have their own chef or stay on a half board basis. Terms and conditions apply.

The Lodge – Perched high in the Swiss Alps of Verbier, The Lodge will be re-opening this December as Switzerland relaxes its quarantine conditions across most countries.  Groups looking to make the most of the winter season can do so in complete privacy from their own stunning luxury alpine lodge.

Offer – Guests can book the nine impressive bedrooms and suites exclusively from CHF 150,000 for a seven night stay and for the first time The Lodge is also introducing new rates for smaller groups whereby guests can book up to six rooms from only CHF 110,000, or, up to four rooms at CHF 90,000 for a seven night stay. Stays of less than 7 nights are also welcomed in selected weeks of the season, as another first for The Lodge in 2021.

Rates are inclusive of luxury accommodation, all meals including a light lunch for those guests not eating on the mountain, all drinks including a top-quality wine list and house champagne, a dedicated team, inclusive of a 24-hour driver service within Verbier, plus all local taxes. Not to mention full use of the indoor pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs and a friendly team of experienced staff including Michelin-star trained chefs.

INTIMATE WEDDINGS:

Restrictions around the world saw wedding plans change drastically in 2020. Larger weddings were reduced to much smaller numbers, a change that has been embraced by many as they adapt their plans and look for a more intimate celebration. The Virgin Limited Edition collection of retreats lend themselves to privacy and seclusion; the ideal combination for couples celebrating their honeymoon or those looking for an intimate setting to say, ‘I Do’. From elopements and small ceremonies, to a private ceremony in the African bush, intimate nuptials in amongst the vines, or even a romantic soiree on a secluded beach of a private island, couples are sure to have a wedding that dreams are made of.

Jon Brown, Managing Director of Virgin Limited Edition, commented: “We are delighted to have been able to re-open so many of our properties this year and begin to welcome back our much-missed guests. As we look ahead, we are very excited to be re-opening Necker Island and The Lodge as well as launching Moskito Island. While travel has been limited for so many of us in 2020, it is fantastic to see so many new trends and travel habits emerging. We hope that 2021 will see us welcoming the world back to our properties and our local communities; offering the opportunity to reconnect, celebrate milestones that have passed or simply just to get away from it all in a place that feels a million miles away from reality.”

No one wants to think that travel may not be an option next year, but if that is the case Virgin Limited Edition is offering guests the opportunity to postpone bookings for no fee, and refundable deposits so they can keep on planning and dreaming of their next escape with confidence.

Cityscape illustration by Mina Tocalini

Visit Chicago this Holiday Season

The holidays are looking a bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate! From virtual cooking classes and over-the-top pop-up bars to outdoor mini holiday markets and special holiday coffee blends for sale, dance classes and more, we’ve rounded up some of the best happenings and offers for the holiday season this year. Whether Chicagoans are planning to safely visit with close family and friends in-person or virtually, these fun activities, offers and gifts are sure to bring festive cheer to all!

Replay Lincoln Park

This winter season, Chicagoans are invited to share in the spirit of the holidays at Chicago’s biggest and most festive movie experiences: Miracle on West Madison (645 W. Madison St.) and Holly Jolly Drive-In (2833 N. Sheffield Ave.) with Replay Lincoln Park, Chicago’s favorite arcade bar known for its over-the-top pop-ups, beginning Friday, November 27. In an effort to create magical memories for family and friends during a non-traditional holiday season, guests will experience a holiday-style movie experience, enhanced with twinkling decor and appearances by The Grinch, Santa, Mrs. Claus, reindeer and many other favorite characters. The 1.5-hour, family-friendly Miracle on West Madison experience takes place in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and is available for booking Thursday – Sunday between 5 – 10 p.m. The Holly Jolly Drive-In experience is located in Lincoln Park near Replay Lincoln Park and is 1.5 hours in length and open to guests of all ages, with slots available Thursday and Friday between 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday between 4:30 – 10:30 p.m. Both experiences will run through Christmas Day with more tickets becoming available in the coming weeks. Reservations are required and tickets may be purchased online for $75 per car. Tickets for Miracle on West Madison are available here and for Holly Jolly Drive-In here.

Get in the Kitchen!

Chicago’s party school offering cooking classes and more, Get in the Kitchen! is hosting several holiday events for those who love to cook, mix cocktails and bake, including a Black Friday “Bagel Making Class” in the morning and “Cocktails & Comedy Show” in the evening on Friday, November 27. Get in the Kitchen! also offers culinary and happy hour gifts and gadgets in their retail store and is available for private events including socially distanced holiday shopping mixology parties, private cooking parties, virtual cooking parties and more. Looking for a special deal Whenever it snows, until New Year’s Eve, customers get 15% off their purchases in the store. For more information, visit here.

Santa Baby Bar and Rudolph’s Christmas Bar
For those who enjoy immersive and over-the-top holiday experiences, Santa Baby (3505 N. Clark St.) and Rudolph’s Christmas Bar (3660 N. Clark St.) are returning to Lakeview East this winter! With all of the Christmas spirits you already know and love, both destinations will feature all-new interactive social experiences and wall-to-wall décor. Santa Baby will open on Wednesday, November 20, and Rudolph’s will open on Friday, November 22. Both pop-ups will feature Christmas spirits; multiple bars and experiences, including the Grinch’s Piano Bar, Frosty’s North Pole Rooftop, A Christmas Story Lounge, and more; and appearances from Rudolph, the Grinch and, of course, Santa Claus himself. Guests may purchase tickets and make reservations to the pop-ups online. For more information, visit here and here.

Stretch Bar & Grill
Get in the holiday spirit with Stretch Bar & Grill’s Elf’d Up pop-up, a high-energy holiday pop-up bar perfect for patrons who have an affinity for elf culture. Inspired by the light-hearted Christmas comedy, Elf’d Up will be decorated from floor to ceiling with over 1,000 elves of all shapes and sizes, a 10-foot Christmas tree, an upside-down Christmas tree, wreath chandeliers, strands of festive colored lights, specific tributes to the movie like figurines, wall quotes, snowflakes, Schylling Jester Jack in the Boxes, cut outs of Buddy the Elf and Miles Finch and more. For more information, visit here.

Dance On Broadway
Located in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood at 3126 N. Broadway St., Dance On Broadway is a brand new, state-of-the-art dance training studio offering classes for children and adults in Ballet & Pointe, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Modern, Tap, Latin and more. From Monday, December 21 through Wednesday, December 23 between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. for children ages 3-8 and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. for children age 9+, Dance On Broadway’s Winter Dance Camps include two dance lessons in different genres, an art project and a snack break each day. At the end of the camp, Dance On Broadway will host a performance following COVID-19 protocol that will be sent digitally to the caretakers of the participating children to enjoy. For more information, dance enthusiasts may visit here.

One of a Kind Holiday Show

One of Chicago’s most highly-anticipated annual holiday experiences, the One of a Kind Holiday Show, is going virtual this season presenting more than 300 artists, artisans, and makers from across North America and beyond, from November 12 – December 6 online. For over three weeks, shoppers will have the opportunity to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19, discover new work, experience studio tours and demonstrations, shop for unique and thoughtful holiday gifts, and more through here and @ooakchicago on Instagram and Facebook.

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical, a critical and commercial success in its 2019 Chicago World Premiere run, will be available for streaming this holiday season! Based on the heartfelt book of the same name by Chicagoan Denise McGowan Tracy, the family-friendly production is recommended for all ages and will be available to stream November 27 – December 27, 2020 directly into homes through InPlayer for $25 per household. Adding to the fun is the availability of two immersive Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Party in a Box options, ranging in price from $45 – $60 plus shipping and handling fees. The 2020 virtual production will feature additional holiday music, and the recorded opening night performance from the successful 2019 World Premiere. Tickets and party boxes can be purchased here.

Hershey Felder’s TCHAIKOVSKY – Live From Florence

Based on the original OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY, and featuring an extended focus on The Nutcracker Ballet, as well as Tchaikovsky’s life in Florence, Italy, TCHAIKOVSKY – Live from Florence will stream on Sunday, December 20 at 7 p.m. CST. The performance will be filmed live on location where Tchaikovsky actually lived and worked in Florence as an interesting, surprising and engaging holiday treat. Tickets are $55 and are available for purchase online, with proceeds benefitting theatres across the world impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Purchase includes the live stream and a full week of on demand access through December 27.

Houndstooth Saloon

Houndstooth Saloon, 3369 N. Clark St., is hosting its Houndstooth Holiday Market on the saloon patio for holiday enthusiasts to enjoy snacks and shop handmade holiday ornaments. Houndstooth Saloon is offering candied nuts, hot pretzels, hot cider and Griswolds’ themed food specials. For more information, visit here.

Dark Matter Coffee

Coffee lovers, rejoice! Chicago’s Dark Matter Coffee, 1117 W. Belmont St., is offering special holiday coffee releases of Old Dank Nic and Chronikkah, as well as holiday gift boxes and themed merchandise for the caffeine fiend in your life! Gift boxes options include four bags of Dark Matter Coffee’s Single Origin Guatemala or El Salvador blends, four bags of Dark Matter’s Barrel Aged coffees and a Portfolio Box Set, which includes bags of A Love Supreme, Unicorn Blood, Starry Eyes and Old Dank Nic. For more information, visit here.

Johnson’s Real Ice Cream
Just in time for Black Friday, Johnson’s Real Ice Cream, 2951 N. Broadway St., is offering free shipping of its delicious ice cream anywhere in the continental U.S. between November 27 and November 29. For year round ice cream lovers, Johnson’s Real Ice Cream is also offering a Black Friday gift card sale, which includes $10 in bonus coupons for every $30 gift card purchase. For more information, visit here.

Fred’s Wrigleyville Garage
For Chicagoans with cars who are looking to travel for the holidays, Fred’s Wrigleyville Garage, 3848 N. Clark St. is offering a winter car inspection special, including a battery check, anti-freeze levels, tire pressure, brake inspection, proper oil levels, windshield wiper condition and windshield washer fill for just $25. For more information, visit here.

Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace
For those looking for safe, affordable accommodations to visit their loved ones in the city this holiday season, Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace, 3434 N. Broadway St., is offering their “Stay Close for the Holiday” special for 20% off the available room rates. For more information or to book your stay, visit here.

theWit Hotel
theWit Hotel, 
located in the Chicago Loop at 201 N. State Street, has officially reopened its doors back to the public for those looking to have a relaxing staycation this upcoming holiday season. theWit Hotel is ensuring the safety of all guests and staff alike with sanitation standards in place to make everyone feel comfortable. The Hilton Property has implemented a Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection program, which was developed in consultation with global and local public health authorities, with key features including: guestroom door seals to indicate a patron’s room has not been accessed since it was cleaned; extra disinfection on high touch areas; removal of excess in-room amenities; guest-accessible hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes throughout the hotel; along with contactless check-in/check-out and more. Please visit here to book your upcoming stay or gift a staycation to a loved on this season.

Geja’s Café
Give the gift of fine dining this holiday season. Geja’s Café, Chicago’s iconic fondue and couple’s landmark located at 340 W Armitage Avenue, is offering fondue fanatics a special Holiday Gift Card Promotion that is running now through December 31, 2020. With every purchase of gift cards that equate to $100 will receive a free $30 bonus gift card. For more information or to purchase a gift card, please visit here.

EZ Breathe
Give the gift of good health this year. Since COVID-19, households around the country have been spending more than 90% of their time indoors. Homes have become workplaces, classrooms, restaurants, gyms, and everything in between. With the rise of time spent indoors, the rise of harmful pollutants and germs in the air have also skyrocketed and have been recirculating throughout houses. The E·Z Breathe Ventilation System is a necessity now more than ever to transform homes into a healthy living environment and keep families safe by preventing the spread of harmful airborne particles. Families have the ability to gift one to their loved ones and purchase one for themselves, with self-installations now available to keep everyone’s health at the utmost importance.

Q Clothier
With the holidays just around the corner, it means it’s time to refresh your wardrobe with the latest styles of winter for you and your loved ones. Q Clothier and Rye 51, the side-by-side luxury men’s custom clothier brands provide top quality, hand-crafted attire tailored perfectly for individuals of every lifestyle. A new addition to the Gold Coast neighborhood, patrons have the ability to shop with seasoned experts as you browse the latest and trendiest garments. Bath in luxury as you sip on some whiskey while shopping warmly and safely this season. Visit here for more details.

A Weekend in West Touraine

With some of the most iconic appellations in the Loire Valley, West Touraine is home to a wide variety of wineries, foodie destinations and historical sites. Would-be travelers can scout out their next trips to the region for now and read up on the area’s diverse offerings.

Bourgueil

Within picturesque green hillsides, vineyards and houses built with tuffeau stones, the Bourgueil Vineyard is situated on the bed of the Loire River and has been producing wine for over 1,000 years. The vineyard itself spans 3,460 acres and visitors can Segway their way around the vineyards to witness the beautiful countryside and taste different wines at Château de Minière. La Cave de la Dive Bouteille gives visitors the chance to experience and learn about the region’s extensive thousand-year wine history. Guests can marvel at the galleries and old wine presses used centuries ago. For an even more in-depth look at wine in Bourgueil, Âme Wine, a Loire Valley Ambassador, can give private tours of the vineyards and wine caves while tasting local specialties.

A visit to the historic Château de Langeais is also recommended, as the castle was built at a unique junction between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Along with a rich program of events, including guided tours and medieval fashion shows, the château’s collection of medieval furniture and rich tapestries is also available for viewing in the castle’s many galleries.

Local country chef Vincent has a small restaurant located in the heart of the vineyards, with dishes incorporating freshly grown fruits and vegetables and a variety of poultry and meats raised by Vincent himself. Vincent’s son also helps him can some of the fresh produce and offers them to guests in the summertime with a gourmet picnic to go.

Chinon

The largest red wine appellation in the Loire Valley, Chinon has earned a reputation as one of the best places in France to enjoy red wine, but the region’s white and rosés, as well as its local artisanal foods, are growing in popularity as well. There are a variety of ways to experience Chinon wine, such as a visit to Domaine de Noiré. Guests can meet experienced winemakers and go on a variety of excursions, including a riverboat ride on the Loire River and a gastronomic excursion with Le Chapeau Rouge, whose inventive take on local, seasonal cuisine is a must-try for any foodie. The Cave de la Sybille offers a unique wine experience, as the author behind The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel, François Rebelais, was born in the region. Sculptures and projections bring François’s iconic pentalogy of novels to life in this wine cellar. For a different way to experience Chinon wine, the winery of Domain PB Couly offers an escape room where players are locked in Bertrand Couly’s wine cellar and have to find out the secrets behind his great wine through riddles, codes and puzzles.

For foodies who love truffles, Baron de la Truffein Ligré near Chinon is a truffle farm that operates on nearly 150 acres of land, using only organic farming practices. Production usually runs from mid-November to the end of February. The farm offers several types of experiences, such as a truffle and wine tasting and a foraging excursion.

Chinon also has an impressive history, as evident in the many notable people who have visited the Royal Fortress of Chinon, which includes Joan of Arc, King Charles VII of France, Richard the Lionheart and many more. Along with touring the surrounding grounds and the three châteaux that comprise the fortress, a variety of activities are available, including an escape room, wine tastings on Thursdays and the property’s HistoPad that allows guests to see exactly how the fortress used to be in the 12th, 14th and 15th centuries. For a chance to stay at these exquisite French castles, Château du Rivau welcomes guests both in the castle and in the former royal stables. A majestic medieval castle – where Joan of Arc fetched horses during the Hundred Years’ War – today welcomes visitors to its beautiful garden, complete with over 450 varieties of roses, resident peacocks, contemporary fairytale-inspired art sculptures and a new restaurant serving local specialties and produce right from the garden.

Azay-le-Rideau

Because of the region’s unique placement at the confluence of the Indre and Loire Rivers, wine has been produced in Azay-le-Rideau since ancient times with several cellars and vineyardproducing dry and semi-dry wines. Château de l’Aulée is also note-worthy for wine lovers. The estate’s cellars were built in 1856 by the Cordier family, a wine merchant family from Bordeaux. Champagne Deutz bought the domain in 1973, restored the property and soil, and replanted Chenin grapes on 91 acres. The grapes are used to make a variety of sparkling wines available for guests to try while taking a tour of the property. Other wineries to visit include Domaine Nicholas Paget, which is family-owned and has been producing wines over five generations, and le Sot de l’Ange, which is known for its artisanal organic wines.

Another local specialty of the region is poires tapées, a special method of preserving pears by drying them. Peasants learned this method after the Crusades; after Eleanor of Aquitaine ordered plum trees from Damascus to be planted in the Loire Valley, the confection became a staple of the region. Maison Hérin is known as one of the best local producers of poires tapées, which also offers visitors the opportunity to see how the delicacy is made. Maison Hérin also sells a wide variety of pear-related goodies including different types of confits, terrines, jams and more.

No visit to this appellation would be complete, however, without a visit to Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. Built on an island in the Indre River, this castle was ordered by King Francis I during the 16th century. The castle has been the site of a massive restoration project in the last century to ensure that the castle is structurally sound while keeping its iconic medieval architecture intact.

A Taste of South Africa

Short on vacation time but still have the tendency to get out and explore before the summer ends? Look no more!

Discover how a trip to sundrenched South Africa can be an exciting and fun-filled getaway over just a long weekend.

With an unparalleled combination of nature, culture AND an exciting adventure, South African Tourism highlights how you can explore the destination in just 72 hours. That’s right.

With direct flights from major cities in the US, a favorable exchange rate and affordable packages it’s never been easier to explore the beauty that South Africa has to offer you.

Here are just some of the most to-do attractions for any visitor planning a quick getaway to this captivating yet marvelous country:

  • Bunny Chow & Beaches. Durban and KwaZulu-Natal. Visitors looking to experience the natural beauty South Africa has to offer should head on over to the KwaZulu-Natal region. It has a wealth of scenic and cultural attractions, stunning hot beaches, and also offers a unique blend of African-Indian influences.
  • Durban. A coastal city with a laid-back lifestyle and a favorite amongst you sun-lovers, It has the most beautiful sandy beaches along The Golden Mile. Serving as a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
  • The Drakensberg region in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. A World Heritage Site that is only a two-hour drive from Durban, visitors will find a lush green countryside brimming with charming historic towns. Guests can catch a glimpse of The Big Five at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Reserve, which is one of the best places in the country to see the endangered rhinos along with other members of The Big Five.

History and Wine adventures:

  • Cape Town. Known as the Mother City, it is renowned for its scenic beauty, bustling downtown, and old charm makes it a favorite destination for international travelers. Table Mountain and Robben Island are two of the most famous landmarks and are important stops for any first timers.
  • Constantia Valley. Nestled beneath the Table Mountain National Park, this stunning region is home to eight award-winning wine estates and miles of lushes vineyards. The most perfect place to indulge in some of the country’s best wines.

Culture and Nature adventures:

  • Johannesburg. Known as South Africa’s booming urban playground, packed with cultural sites, shops, and boutiques, it is a trendy culinary scene and contains vibrant art galleries.
  • The Mandela House. Located in the township of Soweto, it can’t be missed. A guided tour of the home of the iconic former President Nelson Mandela and his family, it provides guests with an insight into his life during the apartheid era. The house continues to stand as an unwavering symbol for the right for human rights.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your suitcase and get packing!

 

 

South African Air-Inclusive Special Offer Package

ENJOY THE HIGHLIGHTS OF NAMIBIA WITH SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS VACATIONS® “NAMIBIA DISCOVERY SELF-DRIVE SPECIAL OFFER” PACKAGE

Air-Inclusive 12-Night Package Starting at $2,999* for Travel August 11 – December 09, 2018

Fort Lauderdale, FL (June 19, 2018) – From adrenaline-fueled activities, to eating German Bratwurst, to climbing majestic sand dunes at sunrise, Namibia is one country that should be on everyone’s must-see Africa bucket list. Enjoy the natural highlights of Namibia at your own pace with South African Airways Vacations® (SAA Vacations®), the leisure division of South African Airways.

SAA Vacations® has introduced “Namibia Discovery Self Drive Special Offer” vacation package for $2,999.00*perperson. Thispackageincludesround-tripairtransportationfromNewYork-JFKAirportonSouth African Airways, Africa’s most awarded airline, 12-night accommodations, an Avis car rental, and meet & greet services by SAA Vacations® representatives.

This package offers travelers the ability to enjoy Namibia, the land of endless horizons, on a leisurely schedule. Highlights include viewing the spectacular wildlife sanctuary that lives within Etosha National Park, rock climbing in the archaeological landscape of Spitzkoppe, experiencing the old world charm of Swakopmund and the opportunity to explore the towering mountains of sand in the world’s oldest desert, the Namib Desert.

“Namibia is a spectacular destination which offers exciting opportunities for the entire family. The Namibia Discovery package features some of the highlights of this incredible destination. From the Namib Desert to the world famous Etosha National Park and so much more, all for an incredibly affordable price,” said Terry von Guilleaume, president of South African Airways Vacations®.

Namibia Discovery – Self Drive Special Offer – $2,999*

• Round-trip Economy Class air transportation from New York-JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa and internal flights to /from Windhoek, Namibia on South African Airways

• 1-night accommodation at the Peermont Mondior Hotel at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg

• 2-nights’ accommodation at Vondelhof Guest House or similar

• 1-night accommodation at Okonjima Plans Camp or similar

• 3-nights’ accommodation at Etosha Okaukuejo Rest Camp or similar

• 1-night accommodation at Omaruru Guesthouse or similar

• 2-nights’ accommodation at The Stiltz Hotel or similar

• 2-nights’ accommodation at Sossus Dune Lodge or similar

• Meet and greet by South African Airways Vacations ® representative upon arrival in South Africa

• Daily breakfast

• Avis car rental with GPS included

This special package is available for new reservations, for travel between August 11 and December 09,

2018. To take advantage of the “Namibia Discovery Self Drive Special Offer” package, travelers should contact

South African Airways Vacations® by calling 1-855-359-7228 or their professional travel consultant.

South African Airways Vacations® offers vacation options for all budgets, with African Specialists on hand to ensure clients experience the vacation of their dreams. For a complete overview of air-inclusive vacation packages to Africa, visit their website here.

6 Facts about Haji Ali Dargah You Didn’t Know

Haji Ali Dargah covers about 500 yards of the Arabian Sea. Mumbai city is well versed with this place and the royal structure holds immense importance in the lives of each individual. If you belong to a city of temples like Mangalore, you’d surely want to visit this famous dargah in Mumbai.

Here are some interesting facts and the history surrounding this admirable place.

  • It is named after the wealthy saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, the greatest Muslim Saint. To make a pilgrimage to Mecca, he gave all of his fortune and possessions for noble deeds. During his journey to Mecca, he died, and the body in the coffin came back floating to Mumbai. The shrine was built at the same spot. In the year 1431, the mosque was built in his loving memory. The Dargah is about than 587 years old. Due to the impact of visitors and the saline winds, the structure is constantly eroding. Renovations were carried out in the years 1960 and 1964. After which, the upgrade was again started in the year 2008.
  • The tomb is based on the Indo Islamic architecture. It is situated 5oo metres from the coast and is built on a tiny islet. It is located in the vicinity of Worli, at the centre of the Worli Bay.
  • Almost 8000 visitors come to pay respects every day, and the most interesting fact is that not everyone who comes here is a Muslim. The causeway to the Dargah is not bound by any kind of railings. So the access to the spot majorly depends on the tides. During high tides, the causeway gets completely submerged in water making it inaccessible from the city.
  • On 26th July 1949, a storm hit the Mumbai city causing a great amount of destruction, but Haji Ali Dargah stood unharmed. Every building of the city suffered harm and loads of damage. Waves kept crashing the shore, and the people inside the dargah were scared that they would drown. But with the blessings of the saint, the waves bowed the walls without harming a single person in the dargah, and people returned back to their homes without any damage.
  • There is a story called the Pothole Story, which revolves around a miracle which happens every year. During the monsoon time, the city is all covered with potholes and rough roads. But the path of the mosque has never seen any damage for people to reach and pay tribute.
  • A feminist movement called ‘Haji Ali for all’ was launched by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and Bhumata Brigade. The movement aimed to secure equal rights to pray. With the persistent efforts of the people, Supreme Court on 26th August ruled that women could enter the sanctum sanctorum.
  • There is lesser known tale surrounding the almighty’s dargah. Once the saint saw a poor woman holding a vessel and crying. She was crying because she had accidentally spilt the oil and was scared that the husband would beat her. To this, Haji Ali asked her to take him to that spot where she had spilt the oil. Upon reaching there, the oil came oozing out from the soil as soon as he jabbed a finger into the soil. The woman was overjoyed and filled her vessel. Later, Haji Ali Shah had a disturbing dream that he injured the Mother Earth. Soon after this, he got ill and asked his followers to put the coffin into the Arabian Sea. Miraculously, his casket just got stuck offshore of Worli where the Dargah was constructed. Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most visited mosques in Mumbai, and the history attached to the place is significant. So it’s your chance to see for real the purity of the place.

Transport Yourself To Another Time

Take a Walk Through the Past

One of the things Americans love most about visiting Europe is the feeling of being transported back in time as they explore seemingly ancient architecture and history. It was just that sentiment that captured program leader David Sheppe’s heart back in the 1980s when he was an American living in Paris, and now he is rallying others who love history, art and culture to save Paris’ oldest church.

Walking through Saint Germain des Prés is like taking a journey to the past. Visitors witness centuries-old art depicting historical and religious figures, intricately decorated capitals portraying aspects of the Old and New Testaments, plants and animals and even monastic life.

Without the help of those with a heart for our shared human history, though, this incredible testament to art and culture will fall apart. That’s why the American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés have started the Adopt a Saint Germain Star™ campaign.

Adopt a Saint Germain Star™

This effort garners funding for a multi-year, multi-tranche restoration of the church’s art, windows, stonework and structural integrity.

• Donors may go online today and adopt one or more of the hundreds of stars in the church’s ancient, vaulted ceiling.

• The Adopt a Saint Germain Star™ campaign mirrors a similar, highly successful campaign already underway in France.

• The entire Monk’s Choir was recently and magnificently completed, due in large part to the generosity of private donors in France and the United States, and two Adopt a Star campaigns.

• There are more than 800 stars currently available; donations will directly impact the preservation of this historic structure and its beautiful celestial ceiling.

• The long-term need is to fund the restoration of the Transept (2017) and the Nave (2018), including their ceilings, which show a total of 3,000 additional stars.

For more information, visit the online press kit at www.PreserveSaintGermain.OnlinePressKit247.com and public site www.PreserveSaintGermain.org.

“Hub of the Plains” × TX

Lubbock, “Hub of the Plains” & Leader of the Mains.

By Ana de Cozar × Vaughn Lowery



Located in Northwest Texas, Lubbock earned the name “Hub of the Plains” in 1909. It’s appellation was followed by Lubbock County’s expansive business markets, which resulted in its numerous appearances in national survey rankings. Among them, we find Lubbock as the 24th Best City for Small Business in the U.S. in 2017 by ValuePenguin, No.7 on Forbes’ List of 19 Opportunity Cities in 2014, the 15th Best City to Start a Business in 2016 according to WalletHub and the 6th Best City for 20-Somethings in the U.S. in 2016 by Move.org.

But as we say in the title, not everything is about business in Lubbock. 360 Magazine had the pleasure to visit the Texan city of opportunities, and had a taste of its terrific culinary range.

Our team stayed in the West Texas’s only AAA Four-Diamond hotel, the Overton Hotel & Conference Center. The Overton is located in the heart of the “Hub City”— just steps from Texas Tech University. As Lubbock’s largest hotel conference center, The Overton Hotel & Conference Center is the ideal destination for corporate business events, weddings, Texas Tech visitors and visitors to Lubbock, Texas. At the Overton, we had a reception of grilled veggie display for those green lovers and a fiddlehead fern. But we can highlight their dessert selection, the strawberry cheesecake mousse shooters combined with a bavarian cream with fruit truffle mousse shooters is all you need to satisfy your sweet palate.

Another delicious option for a lunch in Lubbock was Evie Mae’s Pit BBQ. Quickly becoming a local favorite, Evie Mae’s was recently featured on the cover of Texas Monthly as one of the Top 25 New and Improved BBQ Joints in Texas. Here, you’ll discover melt-in-your-mouth brisket, green chile sausage, homemade sides and an assortment of gluten-free desserts. Arnis Robbins nicely greeted us while we tasted the brisket and an outstanding gluten free cornbread with sausage. For dessert, we had ice cream on a gluten free brownies.

Another option is the La Diosa CellarsHidden in the heart of downtown Lubbock, La Diosa Cellars offers an exceptional wine menu along with Spanish-inspired tapas and live music. In this Lubbock must-see you can try an escargot accompained by 3 different hummus: pesto/basil, cranberry/beets and garlic lemon.

Moving up to dining our first selection is the West Table Kitchen and Bar. This upscale restaurant and full bar offers a unique style of food and beverage to its patrons. Be sure to check out their website for their seasonally evolving menu. Here, 360 Magazine met Cameron West, who provided us with an amazing Caesar salad with anchovies, short ribs and bread pudding. Cagle Steaks, a pure Texan family-owned steakhouse serves specialty steaks, barbecue, smoked salmon, grilled chicken, fajitas and more in a Southwestern, casual atmosphere.

On the other hand The Crafthouse Gastropub is the dining restaurant you can’t miss. Be sure to try the Texas Burger, named in Texas Monthly’s 2016 list of the Top 50 Burgers in Texas. You’ll also find a wide variety of dishes and a Sunday brunch menu that’s both sweet and savory. We tried lamb chili and baked cheddar with swiss, roasted red peppers, green onion and mayo, and also steak frites.

After a big meal, 360 Magazine picked up the best dessert options at Lubbock. If you ever dreamed about building your own dessert, Pie Bar Drop is your perfect hot spot. We created an Oreo pie filled with crushed vanilla wafer with pecan, a pineapple coconut filled with crushed graham cracker, caramel drizzle and coconut savings on top. Yes, unreal but glorious for your palate. Yet we had our dessert, a good shot for those instagram bloggers while enjoying a coffee would be The Coffee Shop with its friendly decoration.

Keeping up with Lubbock’s succulent food array, we discovered marvelous breakfast selections at Arbor Hotel & Conference Center. A locally owned and operated hotel, is a true jewel to West Texas. The new hotel features a year-round outdoor hot tub, conversational fire pits, hotel bar and much more. The hotel offers 3,000 square feet of meeting space as well as a pre-function space. We enjoyed a Chuck Wagon Breakfast with National Cowboy Symposium, true made in Texas!

The advance of agriculture in Lubbock made it the marketing center that it is now, and in that process wine making had an important role. We selected our top winery, and it is clearly not an easy selection in this Texan county. Here there is a list of our top wine stations:

  • At the Funky Door Bistro & Wine Room  you can “wine and dine” like nowhere else. Known for its fondue and wine bar, this fine-dining restaurant showcases some of the most unique varietals of wines and pairings of food. We tried their salmon and sashimi ahi tuna.
  • The Wine Nest is your place if you love music. Three vineyards, one family-owned winery and multiple award-winning wines, all located just on the outskirts of Lubbock. From aromatic Malbec to sweet Gewürztraminer, wine lovers with any palate will enjoy the selection we tasted at Trilogy Cellars. The Wine Nest is a premier boutique wine and gift store, perfect for shopping, sipping a glass of wine and listening to live music.
  • Find award winning wines at Pheasant Ridge Winery. It proudly boasts the oldest vines in Texas. The bold flavor and character of their wines reflect the Cox family’s mastery of wine production. Pheasant Ridge received the first gold medal ever awarded to a Texas red wine for their Cabernet Sauvignon in the San Francisco Wine Competition in 1986.
  • Tour and tasting at the Llano Estacado Winery. The simple mission of Llano Estacado, from its beginning in 1976, has been to embody the potential of Texas wine. Today, Llano Estacado is the largest, bestselling Premium Winery in Texas, producing wines of World Class Quality, and has been an ongoing pioneer in introducing not just Texans, but also the entire world to the great wines made in the Lone Star State.
  • Tour and tasting at McPherson Cellars. Our new friends The McPherson family has been a part of Texas winemaking for over 40 years. Owner and Winemaker Kim McPherson greeted us and showed how he has beautifully restored the historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, located in Lubbock’s Depot Entertainment District, into a world-class winery. We tasted their Texas wines that have won over 600 medals in state, national, and international wine competitions. They also sell cute wine merchandising, such as the famous T-Shirts with messages like “My doctor says I need glasses” or “This wine is making me awesome”.

360 crew surely adores food and wine, but Lubbock had much more to offer. During our visit to the northwest city of Texas, we discovered enough from our country at the following attractions:

  • National Ranching Heritage Center-Dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of ranching, it is a museum with seven exhibit galleries and a 19-acre historical park. Authentic, restored ranching structures dating from 1780 to 1950, tell the story of how early ranchers and their families adapted to a harsh environment. Annual events include Candlelight at the Ranch, an event hosted in December to recreate a frontier Christmas, and Ranch Day, an April event designed to make history come alive with cowboys, chuck wagons and horses. We were surprised by some goodies like the Smith and Wesson model revolver or the Native American real Comanche Feather Headdress.
  • Lubbock Lake Landmark– Smithsonian Magazine named Lubbock Lake Landmark one of the top five destinations to see evidence of first Americans. In fact, signs of human life from 12,000 years ago have been uncovered at the Lubbock Lake Landmark, the oldest continuously inhabited site in the country. This internationally recognized archaeological and national history preserve provides a perfect family outing and regularly hosts Night Hikes on a 3-mile scenic trail through the Yellow House Canyon.

Texas stands for its art in many aspects. They are well known for its modern art and the beautiful Marfa is an exceptional demonstration. Lubbock possesses art exhibitions as well;

  • You can experience an interactive art space like no other at Lubbock’s Tornado Gallery.  Tour the gallery that showcases Tony Greer’s Plasma sculptures featuring Xenon tube pieces and other neon objects. Learn more about the process of creating these masterpieces and the art of glassblowing. We loved those @unityinglass pieces.
  • Roberto Bruno was the best architecture artist in Lubbock and his house remains as a must-see. He moved to Lubbock in 1971 to teach art at Texas Tech University’s school of architecture. He started working on The Steel House in 1973, two years after sculpting a similar piece of art, which inspired him to build something bigger to live in. This three story, 2,200-square-foot house overlooks Ransom Canyon, and remained uncompleted before his death in 2008. The city also counts with several murals and a photographer alley, where the creativity spreads around the streets.

A city is not a city without its nightlife. 360 Magazine especially enjoyed performances of Charlie’s Tout and Jaime Wyatt at The Bluelight Live. Other music selection we had was at Lubbock Moonlight Musicals. It inspires audiences throughout the summer with fun and exciting musicals at their outdoor amphitheater located in Mackenzie Park. Making use of local talent, as well as bringing in various Broadway professionals, Lubbock Moonlight Musicals is able to produce shows that thrill all audiences, from sophisticated theatergoers to first-timers. We saw a fascinating performance of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

With a flourishing restaurant and bar scene, not to mention the unprecedented rise of craft beer and creative cocktails as of late, there’s truly something for everyone in America’s finest city. You’ll also find championship golf courses, museums, and some other awesome restaurants as the Chimy’s , Giorgio’s Pizza and Torchy’s tacos within city limits.

Other honorable attractions include:

Bars:

http://www.charleyb.net/

http://www.facebook.com/flipstavernlubbock/

http://www.clubluxor.com/

http://chimys.com/

Coffee Shops:

http://www.goldstripecoffee.com/

http://www.sugarbrowns.com/

http://yellowhousecoffee.com/

http://www.jandbcoffeeco.com/

Attractions:

American Wind Power Center

Bayer Museum of Agriculture

Buddy Holly Center

Charles Adams Studio Art Project

Museum of Texas Tech

National Cowboy Symposium

Silent Wings Museum

Southwest Collection

Vietnam Center and Archive