Where to Enjoy National Rum Day in South Florida

In preparation for celebrating National Rum Day on August 16, we’re thrilled to share with you a few places to enjoy tropical rum cocktails across south Florida.

5 O'Clock Somewhere

5 O’Clock Somewhere

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami / Miami, FL

Sonesta Coconut Grove’s widely recognized restaurant, Panorama Restaurant & Sky Lounge, provides for the ultimate spot with spectacular views to celebrate National Rum Day. For one day only, guests and locals can order the Spiced Blood Orange cocktail for $6 off the happy hour menu. Perfect for after a long day in Miami, guests can relax and unwind with the refreshing light rum cocktail, while indulging in a selection of light bites ranging from sweet chili glazed wings to roasted garlic hummus and pita chips, while overlooking breathtaking views of beautiful Biscayne Bay.

JWB Prime Steak and Seafood / Hollywood, FL

Located inside the lobby of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood will offer a complimentary rum tasting for both locals and resort guests with Zacapa Rums from 6 to 8 pm. Crafted with fresh crushed sugarcane in Guatemala, Zacapa Rums are filled with complex flavors from being aged to perfection in the highlands 8,000 feet above sea level. Attendees can also enjoy food specials and live music from Thais & Flavio, a Bossa Nova duo that blends pop and jazz music.

The resort will also offer all of its signature Boat Drinks for a discounted price of $9 at Margaritaville Restaurant, 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, Lone Palm Beach Bar and LandShark Bar & Grill. Sample boat drinks include the “5 o’Clock Somewhere” made with Margaritaville Silver Rum, Paradise Passion Fruit Tequila, BACARDI® 151° Rum, orange and pineapple juices, sweet & sour and a splash of grenadine, as well as the “Tranquil Waters” made with Cruzan® Mango Rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and mango.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach / Fort Lauderdale, FL

Celebrate National Rum Day at the laid-back, sophisticated Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, where travelers and locals alike seeking a tropical rum cocktail in the heart of Floridian paradise can look no farther. While there, guests can take advantage of the hotel’s handcrafted cocktail of the month, The Hurricane. Providing spectacular views throughout the property, guests can choose to enjoy their passionfruit, lemon and rum cocktail at the pool, lobby bar or with innovative cuisine ranging from lamb rack to yellowtail snapper at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Bistro.

A Few Favorite Recipes

August The Hurricane

August The Hurricane

The Hurricane / Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach
2 oz dark rum
1 oz passion fruit syrup
1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Spiced Blood Orange

Spiced Blood Orange

Spiced Blood Orange / Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami
1.5 oz. Light Rum
2.5 oz. Blood Orange Puree
Smoked Paprika
Slice Orange for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

Remember to enjoy your alcoholic beverages responsibly.

Travel Tips to Keep Bed Bugs at Bay

Planning an upcoming trip – maybe a long weekend getaway, or a family vacation before the kids head back to school, or perhaps you’re a road warrior who travels frequently for work? No matter what type of trip you have planned, you’ve probably already put together a packing list of what to take along.

But here’s a question: Is there anything on your list you could use if you were to come into contact with bed bugs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – insects of any kind are the last thing on most people’s minds when planning for paradise. Nevertheless, if you’re not careful, bed bugs could become a most unwelcome part of your travel plans.

Bed bug 101

Research from Ortho shows that 50 percent of Americans know someone who has had bed bugs. However, if you’ve never encountered these pests before, your first question is, naturally, what are they?

Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies.

Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies.

A bed bug is a non-flying insect that feeds on the blood of mammals, like human beings. Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies. Their flat shape is what allows them to hide in small spaces.

How to spot a bed bug infestation

It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at a 2-star or 5-star hotel, bed bugs do not discriminate and infestations can happen anywhere. If your hotel room has a bed bug infestation, the first thing you may notice is an odor. Many people say it smells sweet like almonds or musty.

When first arriving at your room, place your luggage in the bathtub where bed bugs cannot reach. Then, physically look for bed bugs, checking the seams and folds of your mattress and behind the bed frame and headboard. Remember, bed bugs are very small, so they can easily hide in nooks and crevices. As you check these places, look for shed bed bug skin or black dots (fecal spots) as evidence of their presence.

The Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap is a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. 

The Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap is a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour.

To determine whether the place you’re staying has bed bugs, you can use a product like Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. To use, place the trap in key areas where bed bugs may hide, such as under the bed’s headboard. Then, release the attractant to lure bed bugs out of hiding. In about an hour, check the trap to determine whether you have an issue.

Carry these affordable traps with you whenever you travel and you can go to bed each night assured you’re not sharing your room with bed bugs. If your trap shows your room has bed bugs, immediately contact hotel management to understand your lodging alternatives.

Enjoy your home alone

Remember, even the briefest stay in an infested room could be enough for some of these insects to hitch a ride home with you. Because bed bugs love dark places, the folds of your luggage make for a welcoming environment. Pack a travel-sized aerosol spray on trips, such as Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer, and treat your suitcase before returning home.

When you return home, inspect the seams of your luggage for visible bed bugs. Finally, confirm you didn’t bring any home by placing a trap near your bed or sleeping area. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and the right tools, protecting yourself and your family is easy.

For more information about the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, and other products to treat bed bugs, visit Ortho.com/BedBugs. (BPT)

Vallarta’s ‘Casa Dos Cisnes’ Luxury Private Villa Elevates Industry Standards

Secluded five-star Mexican villa offers an ultimate luxury accommodations experience trumping top resorts; boasts its own gourmet private chef, service staff, elite accommodations up to 10 adults and premier on-site amenities—all amid unrivaled ocean views

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

Amid the explosion of “the sharing economy,” the private villa accommodations sector has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, today’s breed of private villa rentals have become the ultimate in luxury travel lodging for vacationers and business travelers, alike. No surprise, given the vast array of benefits and creature comforts that private villas proffer for couples, families and small groups.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

While maximized privacy, uber-personalized service and heightened cultural immersion serve as key drivers in this market niche, the benefits of renting a private villa residence extend far beyond. Indeed, an elite few offer accommodations and amenities as standard that rival high-end resorts, such as custom-prepared meals from a resident private chef, 24/7 butler service, private infinity-edge ocean overlook pool, security and more. And then there’s Puerto Vallarta’s one-of-a-kind Casa Dos Cisnes.

Having myself vacationed at this five-bedroom colonial style beachfront home, I reveled in the fact that this prolific property extends all of these features and more to ensure each guest’s needs, desires, hopes and expectations for an extraordinary private villa vacation are fulfilled. In doing so, this remarkable retreat is single-handedly setting a new, and decidedly elevated, standard for luxe travel.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photographyer courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photographyer courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Located in Mexico’s fifth largest city in Jalisco, one of the region’s safest states, Casa Dos Cisnes Puerto Vallarta is an exceptional option for a first-class romantic getaway; girl’s weekend; guy’s golfing, fishing or other adventure trip; bachelor/bachelorette parties; family vacations; wellness and beauty excursions; and corporate or other group travel for up to 12 guests (10 adults or 8 adults and 4 small children). With complete privacy and security in the most exclusive area in Puerto Vallarta, including its own 2-car garage, guests commandeer this entire 10,000 square foot, stylishly-appointed authentic Mexican villa home with all of the relaxation, solitude and discretion that affords.

The result is a one-of-a-kind holiday providing an unparalleled culinary and luxury living experience. This includes exclusive use of Casa Dos Cisnes’s phenomenal facilities an array of exceptional 5-star amenities, with many entirely unique and exclusive to this property.  For inquiring detail-driven minds and perennial vacation planners, a list of copious features and benefits this property provides is listed down below.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

My own visit to Casa Dos Cisnes was an enchanted escape with my family. With the ability to stock the kitchen with groceries of our own choosing and the option to specify meal and menu preferences with the resident private chef the day prior—or even the same day—the flexibility and responsiveness was extremely advantageous…especially on those days where the itinerary was uncertain. Only the first night’s meal and first day’s breakfast (if either are desired) need to be specified prior to arrival. From there, just tell the chef what meals you would like each day and he’ll shop the market for the fresh provisions and will expertly prepare the meals at the times you specify.

And, Casa Dos Cisnes boasts no ordinary chef. Among the villa’s most impressive offerings is the inimitable gourmet cuisine proffered by this consummate culinary professional. Upon request, multiple times per day he’ll custom-craft sumptuous gourmet meals and snacks that rival any of the fine dining options in all of Jalisco, which can be paired with fine wines and premium spirits complementing the dishes that he’s happy to recommend, if needed.  Dine in the elegant dining room that seats up to 12, or indulge in an intimate dinner on one of the villa’s many terraces.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

My family’sown menu choices included authentic chicken fajitas and quesadillas (truly the best I have ever had), beef empanadas, filet mignon, broiled lobster tail, mixed seafood ceviche, fresh salmon filet and so much more—not to mention incredible fresh-made guacamole, pico de gallo and tortilla chips, of course. Our breakfast fare centered around Machaca and cheddar omelets and eggs benedict with fresh mango and kiwi. But, alas, choose whatever you and yours want for breakfast, lunch and dinner seatings as well as for midday snacks and happy hour and the chef is happy to oblige.

During the day my family lounged poolside while soaking in the panoramic vistas of the Banderas Bay, played numerous board and card games the villa provides, sipped cocktails and coffee by the various fireplaces, and watched Netflix movies with surround sound in multiple areas of the home—including an entertainment center—where you can lounge on cushioned couches. Throughout, the staff of three was incredibly attentive, always ensuring we were content and well provisioned no matter what activity we were engaged in.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

As with any luxury resort property, rates for Casa Dos Cisnes vary by date and season. Current per night rates on the low-season end start around $1,000 U.S. and higher-end holiday rates push $2,000 U.S., with some mid-season rates in between. There is also a four night minimum stay required; seven night minimum week of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Bookings can be conveniently arranged online at www.PuertoVallartaLuxuryVilla.com, where property photos and information is abundant.

With scores of honors and accolades as a leading travel destination to its credit, Puerto Vallarta

is a notoriously safe locale on Mexico’s pristine Pacific Coast, making it an extremely popular target among tourists. In fact, according to Agustín Álvarez Valdivia, Director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, 2017 is shaping up to be another record year for Puerto Vallarta. Casa Dos Cisnes’s private entryway and top-notch monitored security further guarantees guest safety and peace-of-mind.

For fun-lovers, foodies, shopaholics and adventurers seeking to enjoy time around town, there is an incredible assortment of nearby activities and attractions as listed on Puerto Vallarta’s official Web’s site “To Do” page that may be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2kQzlHO.

Given the astonishing hoard of highlights found at Casa Dos Cisnes that can only be realized in its exclusive private villa setting, it’s rapidly becoming Puerto Vallarta’s foremost premier private villa vacation experience. Understandable given the price point for this righteous retreat rivals—and often betters—that of a luxury resort, making it a “no brainer” for those seeking to get the most bang for their budget—and more out of their precious time allocated for pleasure travel. Beyond the economics of group accommodations making the “per suite” rate decidedly attractive, the personalized professional chef-driven meal service for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and happy hour cocktails all served amid impeccable ocean views, which is integrated into the rate, furthers the fiscal and other copious advantages.

Casa Dos Cisnes Features and Benefits At-A-Glance:

  • Private villa property
  • 10,000 square feet
  • 2-car garage
  • Complete privacy and security in the most exclusive area in Puerto Vallarta
  • Monitored security system
  • Beautiful traditional colonial-style Mexican furnishings, design and artwork with the comfort of modern amenities and technology
  • Spacious, multiple living areas, rooms and terraces, allowing large groups to comfortably enjoy their own space
  • Stunning ocean view on all floors (4 of the 5 bedrooms and all 4 ensuite bathroom showers/bath have views; 5th bedroom has private courtyard)
  • Sleeps 10 adults or 8 adults and 4 small children
  • 2 working gas fired fireplaces in living room and master terrace
  • 5 bedrooms (including Master room) with air-conditioning, overhead fans, plush king-size beds with feather toppers and premium Egyptian cotton sheets and plush robes
  • Massive master suite: bedroom with private retreat room with big screen TV and Bose system, as well as large private terrace with gas fireplace
  • 4 ensuite bathrooms; 5th bathroom with shower off pool terrace
  • Walk in closet areas with individual safes
  • 2 half bathrooms
  • Brick domes in master bedroom, master corridor, dining and living rooms and spiral staircase
  • Large, spiral staircase to all levels
  • Interior courtyard
  • Multiple terraces on each level of house
  • Infinity pool with incomparable view of ocean
  • 3 full-time, full-service bi-lingual staff working 7 days a week,
  • Gourmet cuisine prepared by dedicated 5-star chef (specializing in Mexican-contemporary cuisine) who can prepare three full meals a day plus snack and happy hour service (*meal preparation is included but not cost of food/beverages, which is charged at actual cost without mark-up)
  • Magical Mexican Fiesta: a lively evening of regional food, cocktails and Mexican musicians entertaining at the villa (additional fee applies)
  • Large separate dining room seating up to 12
  • Separate dining terraces at main and pool levels
  • Full pool bar and grill with large-screen TV
  • Fully equipped state-of-the-art gym
  • US Satellite TV throughout the house
  • Large media-entertainment room (games for family/children)
  • Intimate “away” room off of living room for private conversations or meetings
  • 2 Bose Lifestyle systems with Bose sound system throughout the villa
  • Wi-fi throughout the house; Vonage® phone for free calls to the U.S. and Canada
  • Laundry service
  • Concierge service: staff will help plan and customize activities around Puerto Vallarta including golf, tennis, snorkeling, boating and more
  • Spa services: get pampered by professionals who come to the villa for massages and beauty treatments
  • Recommendations, reservations and VIP treatment at Puerto Vallarta’s most prestigious restaurants
  • Access to new beach club, less than 10 minutes
  • Access to small, secluded beach with tide pools less than 5 minutes
  • Spacious layout and services can easily accommodate weddings, reunions & events
  • 5 minutes from the Romantic Zone (La Zona Romántica) in Old Town Puerto Vallarta

~~~ 

Merilee Kern

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority—a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Source: http://www.travelweekly.com/Strategic-Content/Sharing-Economy

Enchantment Abounds at Puerto Vallarta’s ‘Rhythms of the Night’ Dinner Show

Written and Contributed By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

Rhythms of the Night is an immersive dinner show experience like none other, transforming your night into an enchanted evening on a mystical land. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise across the Banderas Bay where complimentary snacks and cocktails are served. As the sun sets across the sky, you will be rewarded with a stunning light display along the coastline, as the sun sets and the moon starts to rise. This picture-perfect setting is a primer for the experience ahead. As your cruise ship ports at the secluded Las Caletas cove, you will be greeted with a beautiful starry night, a torch–lit pathway, and mysterious islanders coaxing you to your initial destination.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

As if the nautical journey to this tranquil cove was not enough, your evening will only get exponentially better. The fire-lit path will guide you to an exceptionally romantic outdoor dining area right along the coast. Nature provides the perfect setting for this outdoor dining experience, as a light wind from the Pacific Ocean blows in the air and through the decorative palm trees. Light from the torches and litany of candles scattered about flickers on the water. The sounds of nature are intertwined with table-side serenades from talented musicians wandering through the dining area. The atmosphere alone transforms dinner into a mesmerizing experience.

Guests are then treated to a full-service buffet that includes thoughtfully prepared food selections to accommodate any dietary preference. The buffet includes grilled chicken, fish and steak, along with a delicious display of vegetables, salads, and, of course, tortillas that are hand-made exhibition style. The dessert buffet is equally tantalizing, with cakes, pies, flan and brownies among the many offerings.

After dinner, you will be beckoned to the outdoor amphitheater where talented local artists will perform a spectacular theatrical performance amid the backdrop of a pyramid adorned with candlelight. Through fire, acrobatics, dance, song, music, comedy and magnificent costuming, the performance proudly reenacts some of the ancient customs that highlights the rich history of this region.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

At the conclusion of this perfect enchanted evening, you will receive a final toast as you dance the night away as the cruise ship transports you back to the port with music bumping and cocktails flowing. As with the ride to the cove, the return trip also provides scenic views unique to this part of the world.

Overall, this enthralling evening offers the opportunity to have a relaxing, peaceful and exciting night filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes you will not soon forget. Whether you are looking for the quintessential romantic dinner experience, a fun-filled family adventure, or are planning a group event, an evening with Rhythms of the Night is a magical journey sure to impress. This mesmerizing experience will captivate your heart and leave you spellbound.

~~~

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority–a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She identifies and reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at
www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Featuring Katy Johnson: Actress, Model, Show Host, and World Traveler

Photography courtesy of Eduardo Cellabos.

We’re thrilled to feature Katy Johnson as one of our esteemed contributing writers for our May / June 2017 Issue of InFluential Magazine.  She contributed the intriguing article titled A Southeast Asia Experience to Remember which we invite you to read.  Trust us, after you do, you’ll be anxious to book your trip to Southeast Asia!

Who is Katy Johnson?

As an actress, Katy has worked on a number of film and TV series.  She starred in the South African unscripted drama series, “Clifton Shores,” as well as having appeared in USA Network’s “Monk,” and ABC’s “Greek.”  As model, she has been featured in a variety of national magazines and has modeled for clothing and swimwear brands.

Inspired by her own personal struggles with body image and the demands for ‘ideal perfection’ in the entertainment industry, she is beginning work on her documentary “One Model Mission,” in which she intends to visit 196 countries and document 196 definitions of beauty as defined by each culture.

Her passion for animal rights is why Katy is a member of PETA and the National Humane Society.

You can follow Katy on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  For the latest on Katy’s documentary, you can follow her Facebook page One Model Mission.

ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants Breaks Ground on Second Location in Austin

83-room boutique hotel expected to debut in East Austin early 2019

ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants is expanding with the boutique hotel brand’s second location in Austin, Texas. Construction recently began on the 83-room property at the corner of East 6th and Chicon streets, located in the emerging East Austin community. The hotel is expected to welcome its first guests early spring 2019.

“East Austin’s energy is magnetic. It is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the country and one we are proud to join and to celebrate. And we look forward to embracing and supporting the local community of East Austin,” said Ezra Callahan, co-founder of ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants.

Each ARRIVE hotel is built for its neighborhood, serving as a crossroads for locals and travelers that celebrates the surrounding style and culture. Embracing the creative spirit of Austin, ARRIVE has assembled a talented team of local designers and developers to partner on the project, including co-developers Alexa Management, project consultants Burton Baldridge Architects, Big Red Dog engineering, dwg. landscape architects and EyeLikeDesign creative design. ARRIVE is also proud to be among the first to build under the Worker’s Defense Project’s Better Builder Program, which ensures that construction staff are paid a living wage and are protected by stringent health and safety guidelines.

The 58,600-square-foot space will integrate a 100-year-old warehouse on the site, utilizing an adaptive approach with traditional industrial materials in its modern design. Consistent with ARRIVE’s standards, all 83 rooms and suites will emphasize comfort and functionality as part of their clean, modern design, with a singular focus on the hotel’s role as a temporary home for its guests.

Immersing guests in local design and tastes, ARRIVE will serve as a lively social hub featuring two neighborhood restaurants and bars, retail and a coffee shop. The hotel’s interiors by Chris Pardo Design will celebrate East Austin’s community of craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs, while the restaurants will complement the neighborhood’s emergence as home to some of the city’s most loved dining destinations.

In addition to dining and retail, the hotel will feature 3,500 sq. ft. of event and meeting space, including an outdoor courtyard. With a flexible, connected layout, the space can accommodate intimate business meetings and a range of special events or private parties. The hotel is also conveniently located less than 2 miles away from the Austin Convention Center.

ARRIVE East Austin will deliver the streamlined and straightforward service the brand has come to be known for, replacing traditional hotel formalities to appeal to social, savvy visitors seeking a comfortable escape from everyday life. Like other ARRIVE hotels, there will be no front desk, and guests will check in and access all hotel and concierge services and amenities via text message or at the bar. Room rates are expected to start at $199 nightly.

In 2016, the ARRIVE brand launched the first property to much fanfare in the Uptown Design District of Palm Springs. In addition to the forthcoming Austin location, the brand has plans for continued expansion in the coming years.

For more information about ARRIVE, visits arrivehotels.com.

The New Urban Destination That has the Web Buzzing

There was a time when cities like Paris, Berlin, New York or Tokyo were at the top of many travelers’ lists. The glamour, the glitz and the history of these cities lured many, but times have changed and more people are eager to discover some of the lesser known gems. Cities that, though smaller and less renowned, are just as stunning and full of surprises.

One of these treasures is Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Also known as Mill City, the Mini-Apple, or the City of Lakes, Minneapolis is home to a vibrant music scene, miles of bike trails, a community of creative entrepreneurs and an energy that you just can’t find anywhere else. It’s true that a lot of people shy away from the winters, which can be fierce, but those who go during the summer usually leave with plans to return. Here are five reasons why.

  1. The amazing music scene. With large venues such as Target Field and the U.S. Bank Stadium, big-name superstars regularly visit the city. But locals will tell you it’s the numerous smaller venues that make a night out in Minneapolis such an unforgettable experience. From the legendary First Avenue, where Prince began his career, to smaller settings like the Fine Line Music Café or Dakota Jazz Club, there’s live music for everyone.
  2. A new sports stadium. When the U.S. Bank Stadium opened last year, Minneapolis had a new home for the Minnesota Vikings and could brag about having one of the most state-of-the-art football stadiums in the country. But football is only part of the story. In this sports-crazed town you’re only ever a few miles away from world-class hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse.
  3. An innovative culture. With dozens of theater companies, art museums, galleries and creative agencies, Minneapolis has earned a reputation as a city oozing with creative energy. And it happens on all levels. Take the new Radisson Red Minneapolis. Located right in the heart of downtown, Radisson Red was designed to revolutionize the travel experience and enhances the stay experience through art, music and fashion. In addition to the stunning mural in the lobby by local artist Adam Turman, the re-energized rooms feature inspired designs. If guests get hungry, the OUIBar + KTCHN features freshly prepared local fare and an expert staff that can tell you all you need to know about the city.
  4. Food and brews. An epicenter of dining, Minneapolis has kept pace with the coastal dining scene and in many respects, has outpaced other cities due to the availability of local food from the surrounding area. And if you’re a beer lover, be sure to block off an afternoon or three to tour the many nationally recognized tap houses in town, including the funky Dangerous Man Brewing Co. and Young Joni, where the head chef Ann Kim was recently honored by the James Beard Foundation.
  5. A city that caters to the outdoor adventurer. Visitors are usually surprised by how many people they see biking around Minneapolis, and can enjoy the hundreds of miles of bike lanes and trails by renting a bike from one of the many kiosks around the city. If you want to mix things up a bit, numerous outfitters offer kayak tours of the Mississippi, or you can rent a stand-up paddle board at one of the many city lakes.

We could go on, but it might be more fun to make your own list of favorites by visiting Minneapolis yourself. Summer is here, so book a room at the new Radisson Red Minneapolis, stay in the heart of downtown, and discover one of America’s great cities. (BPT)

Where to Celebrate National Wine Day on May 25

Need ideas on where, around the globe, to celebrate National Wine Day on May 25? We have a few thrilling ideas!

Ama Vida Alfresco Dining

Ama Vida Alfresco Dining

AmaWaterways

In celebration of National Wine Day on May 25, AmaWaterways is inviting travelers to toast to the holiday with a special offer available on its wine-themed cruises – showcasing the acclaimed wine regions along Europe’s Danube, Douro, Mosel, Rhine, Rhone and Seine Rivers. Travelers who book an AmaWaterways wine-themed sailing can now save up to $1,500 per stateroom, with dates available throughout 2017, and will have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the world’s most famed wine regions. AmaWaterways’ wine cruises are hosted by top wine experts and feature complimentary lectures, wine tastings, exquisite cuisine with paired wines and exclusive shore excursions to historic vineyards and wineries, as well as private wine cellar tours. In addition, AmaWaterways’ co-owners – Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst – collaborated with winemaker, Jim Clendenen, to make AmaWaterways’ very-own Concerto Wine. The partnership has resulted in a red Pinot with flavor notes of dark red fruit, wild strawberries, earth, spice and cocoa.

Lodge Seating Area

Lodge Seating Area

Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa / Young Harris, GA

Situated amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains and just two hours outside of Atlanta, Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa is the perfect destination to celebrate National Wine Day.  With North Georgia’s wineries continuing to earn praise from critics and wine-lovers alike, the resort offers ease of access to the regions most acclaimed vineyards and tasting rooms.  Guests may book a stay at this luxurious resort to experience this new wine destination and tantilize their taste buds, while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami / Miami, FL

Recently unveiling its new happy hour menu, Sonesta Coconut Grove’s widely recognized restaurant, Panorama Restaurant & Sky Lounge, provides for the ultimate spot with great deals to celebrate National Wine Day. Guests can relax and unwind with an appealing range of wine options by the glass for $5, as well as light bites ranging from sweet chili glazed wings to roasted garlic hummus and pita chips, while overlooking breathtaking views of beautiful Biscayne Bay.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach / Fort Lauderdale, FL

Celebrate National Wine Day at the laid-back, sophisticated Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, where wine enthusiasts seeking great wine, cuisine and unobstructed views can look no farther. Providing spectacular views and innovative cuisine at the hotel, Bistro Restaurant, is offering half price wine bottles with the purchase of any entrée during National Wine Day only. While there, guests can overlook the sugar-sand beach and taste dishes and appetizers ranging from lamb rack short rib ravioli while sipping on a favorite choice of wine.

How to Find a Hotel That can Cater to Your Technology Demands

8 questions that ensure technology needs are met while at a hotel

You arrive at your hotel and pull out your smartphone. After an incredibly long sign-in process, you connect to the Internet. It works fine in the hallway but not in your room, so you go to the business center to check email and print tickets to tonight’s show. The center is packed, so you head back to your room to wait. Meanwhile, your kids are trying to stream a movie and the Internet connection is slow.

Both business and leisure travelers rely on technology to stay connected and streamline to-do’s. However, poor Wi-Fi and minimal tech-focused amenities leave many travelers disappointed. That’s why before booking a hotel, you should always ask questions to ensure you get as much out of your technology while travelling as you do while at home.

Ask these eight questions to make sure your technology needs are met while staying at any hotel, no matter how many devices you plan to use.

Is the room suited for technology?

Whether new or remodeled, modern hotels should feature room designs that support technology. For example, ask about easy access to outlets and charging stations while you’re in the room to ensure you can plug in your phone, charge your tablet and use your computer all at the same time.

How reliable is the Internet?

Fast, reliable Internet is critical for anyone traveling for business or pleasure. When you stay at IHG hotels, you can feel confident you get superior Internet service. IHG Connect provides advanced Wi-Fi technology with increased bandwidth to meet the demand and volume needs of guests.

What is the login process?

Lengthy login processes are a hassle, especially if you’re connecting multiple devices. Some hotels offer streamlined methods which is a big time-saver. Want to log in just once? IHG Rewards Club members log in and then they’ll be recognized and automatically connected at every IHG Connect-enabled hotel.

How secure is the Wi-Fi network?

Most hotels today offer Wi-Fi to guests, but it might not be a secure network. To ensure private information stays private, only stay at hotels with a private and secure Internet connection for guests.

Is there an extra cost for Wi-Fi?

Some hotels charge extra for fast Internet access. Ask about costs and look into membership perks that wave these fees. For example, IHG Rewards Club members receive free Wi-Fi at all IHG properties.

What is available at the business center?

A good hotel will have a business center available to all guests. Inquire as to what is included at the center to ensure your needs are met. Printers, fax machines, computers and a variety of outlets should be available.

What are the hours of the business center?

Ask about the hours of the business center so you know you’re covered, whether you need to book a last-minute reservation to the city’s hottest attraction or print out that big report for tomorrow’s presentation.

Are meeting spaces available?

For business travelers, impromptu meeting spaces are great for quick meetups or when you want to get out of your room for a change of scenery. For more formal gatherings, ask the hotel about the availability of meeting planners who can assist in organizing the technology needs of large groups of people and corporate events.

Keep your technology moving as fast as you do by asking these questions now. That way your hotel stay will be that much more enjoyable, comfortable and productive. (BPT)

5 Amazing West Mexico Vacation Destinations

Dinner theater al fresco, adrenaline-pumping activities and luxe accommodations to-die-for

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

Photography courtesy Hotel Coral and Marina.

Photography courtesy Hotel Coral and Marina.

For the throngs of people pondering where to go on vacation this year, Mexico may be a strong contender in your cache of options. If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to the U.S. National Travel & Tourism Office, in 2016 approximately 30 million U.S. citizens chose Mexico as their travel destination. And understandably so, given there are innumerable reasons to vacation in the region. The weather is warm, people are friendly, the culture is rich, the immersive culinary scene is phenomenal, the beaches are beautiful, and dreamy destinations abound. In fact, below are five of my tried-and-true personal favorite places and activities on the west side.

Ensenada’s Hotel Coral & Marina an All-Encompassing Escape
A mere 80 miles from San Diego lies the port city of Ensenada, a charming Mexican enclave that runs along 700 miles of Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortéz coastline. The city, which is Mexico’s largest municipality in the area, offers endless possibilities for vacationers. The region is replete with culture, adventure, inspired cuisine, fine wine and gracious hospitality that’s all tempered with a relaxed beach and marine mindset. This certainly holds true for the Hotel Coral & Marina—a luxury Mexican resort that truly has it all for families, couples, groups or any well-heeled traveler seeking an easily accessible, all-encompassing escape south of the border.

A glistening getaway on the shores of Todos Santos Bay, Hotel Coral & Marina boasts the area’s only world-class marina with 353 slips that offer shared access to the property’s impressive array of amenities. But, for those seeking accommodations on land, the property offers a comprehensive set of conveniences and creature comforts that start with the 147 rooms and suites with each featuring flat-screen TVs, high-speed Wi-Fi and a coffee maker. Upgrade to a specialty suite for an added refrigerator, dining area, double bathtub, Jacuzzi, wine cooler or fully equipped kitchen. While standard rooms start at 635 square feet, the luxury suites start at 721 square feet (the “Deluxe” suite in which I stayed at 1,022 square feet) and top out at over three times that with the Presidential Triple Suite, which provides a whopping 2,034 square feet of vacation space. In speaking with Lizette Sanchez, Director of Public Relations at Hotel Coral & Marina, she cited many elevated amenities available with the opulent top-tier suites, such as a wraparound ocean-view balcony, chic bar, modern living area, Jacuzzi, hydro-massage shower, dining table and wine fridge.

However fabulous your room may be, don’t stay in it too long as there’s so much more to do and see at Hotel Coral & Marina. Whether your idea of a good time includes indulging in “Baja-Med” style cuisine at the on-site Bistro & Cava indoor/outdoor restaurant or more casual fare at the Marina Grill indoor/outdoor restaurant; cocktailing at the patio bar; taking a dip in the indoor or outdoor pool or in the large outdoor Jacuzzi; pampering with a service at the fully-equipped “C Spa”; sweating out the stress in the state-of-the-art fitness center; or playing an exhilarating game of tennis, the property offers all of this and more to keep you and your companions duly engaged and entertained. Guests can also enjoy various water activities like water bikes, paddle boarding and kayaking all throughout the marina.  With these enjoyable exploits as well as an on-site playground and professionally staffed Kid’s Club, the Hotel Coral & Marina is decidedly family friendly.

There are also on-site eateries. Bistro & Cava is the hotel’s award-winning signature gourmet restaurant featuring a blend of traditional Mexican entrees and locally-sourced Mediterranean cuisine.  But the food isn’t the only notable aspect of the bistro, as it also happens to house the largest local wine cellar in Baja California. From this locale, patrons can enjoy more than 150 labels. Those seeking a more casual atmosphere will enjoy eating at the waterfront Marina Grill restaurant or at the Pool Bar, where I highly recommend ordering the ceviche and a margarita. If this doesn’t put you in a vacation state-of-mind, probably nothing will. The Arrecife Lobby Bar is another communal space offering sports on the flat-screen and a two-for-one drink Happy Hour.

Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a romantic respite or a group getaway, Ensenada’s Hotel Coral & Marina enchants as a one-stop oasis where leisure, recreation and gastronomic pursuits await.

Beyond All-Inclusive Innovation Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort & Spa
The newest property in Grand Velas Resorts’ esteemed portfolio is Grand Velas Los Cabos—an all-inclusive spa resort with stunning ocean views and a wide variety of amenities and activities for guests of all ages. No ordinary destination, Grand Velas Los Cabos has pulled out all the stops in its readily apparent quest to provide an unrivaled luxury vacation experience for guests at every touch point.

Having stayed on-site to see for myself what all of the buzz was about, I can convey with full conviction that this resort proffers what would surely be one of the most impressive and memorable retreats of your life. Not only elevating industry standards for any luxe locale, Grand Velas Los Cabos has certainly raised the bar within the all-inclusive category world-wide. Its level of haute hospitality and impeccable service standards go well above making each guest feel pampered—but also genuinely cared for. Then, of course, the overarching offerings—the grounds, the accommodations, the amenities and more—are each standouts unto themselves.

As with all Grand Velas Resort properties, guests here enjoy spacious and sumptuously-appointed accommodations, numerous gourmet fine dining experiences, 24-hour in-suite service, substantial spa facilitates, fully-equipped and staffed fitness centers, pool decks to-die-for, noteworthy family programs, personal concierge service and much more. The resort features 304 suites, each over 1,180 square feet and every single one with private terraces with cushioned lounge seating and breathtaking ocean views. Some of the suites also have personal plunge pools on the terrace as well. The stylish suites at Grand Velas Los Cabos range in size from 1,180 to a whopping 3,412 square feet. Every one of them features wide open ocean views and a fully furnished private terrace.

The variety of gourmet dining options at Grand Velas Los Cabos is impressive, giving guests the opportunity to delight in dishes from around of the world without ever having to leave the resort. Ever. Choose from several fine-dining restaurants with both indoor and open air seating. This includes Cocina de Autor, the resort’s premier signature restaurant, which shines above all as there’s a two star Michelin chef at the helm. Clearly this resort is making its mark on the gastro-travel front, but its spectacular SE Spa is giving the food and beverage program here a run for its money. The two-level, 35,000-square-foot facility with a multisensory pool “water journey” is a not-to-be-missed experience.

Foodie-Forward Private Villa ‘Victual Vacations’ at Puerto Vallarta’s Casa Dos Cisnes
Whether for adventure travel or more relaxing vacations, travelers are increasingly seeking regionally-authentic itineraries that offer an intimate view of local life. The trend of being “connoisseurs of local culture” so to speak is booming. So indigenous tourism and cultural immersion experiences—especially those with culinary components—are extremely popular right now—and that demand is only growing. Various hospitality sectors have been the beneficiary of the foodie-driven travel movement, and even helping drive it to a certain extent. One of which is the private villa vacation category, specifically. Today’s breed of luxury private villa rentals are becoming an ultimate gourmet indulgence for leisure and business travelers, alike.

One private villa rental exemplifying this experience is named Casa Dos Cisnes, which is a premierprivate oceanfront villa in Puerto Vallarta. This 10,000 square foot, five-bedroom colonial style home has breathtaking views of the Pacific, and really goes over-and-above to ensure each guest’s needs, desires and expectations for an extraordinary, foodie-forward private villa vacation are fulfilled.  This includes custom gourmet meals prepared on-site by a dedicated 5-star private chef specializing in Mexican-contemporary cuisine, served in an elegant separate dining room that seats up to 12. You can either specify what dishes you would like the chef to prepare, or you can give “free reign” and allow the chef to conceive a fully authentic Mexican menu on your behalf. Your choice if you want to go full classic/indigenous or with a more contemporary fare. Here, guests have full culinary control. The ingredients (meat, produce, spices, starches) are usually entirely locavore, meaning very locally sourced, and the recipes, preparation, presentation and such are authentic to the region and culture—all allowing visitors to experience what it’s like to “eat like a local.” You tell the chef what you want to eat that day or you can plan in advance and, either way, the chef shops at the local markets the day of and prepares the meals on-site, which are served in the privacy of your own dining space, either indoors or out. It gives a whole new meaning to a home-cooked meal, for sure.

For some enhanced group or family fun, this private gourmet chef also prepares what this villa calls a “Magical Mexican Fiesta”, which is a lively evening of regional food, cocktails and Mexican musicians entertaining at the property. And all of this is available to guests in addition to three full meals a day plus snack and happy hour service, which can be served in the dining room or the separate dining terraces at both the main and pool levels.

Enchanting Evenings Al Fresco at Puerto Vallarta’s Rhythms of the Night Dinner Show
Rhythms of the Night is an immersive dinner show experience like none other in Puerto Vallarta, transforming your night into an enchanted evening on a mystical land. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise across the Banderas Bay where complimentary snacks and cocktails are served. As the sun sets and dusk sets in as the moon begins to rise, you will be rewarded with a stunning light display along the coastline. This picture-perfect setting is a primer for the experience ahead. As your cruise ship ports at the secluded Las Caletas cove, you will be greeted by a beautiful starry night, a torch–lit pathway, and mysterious islanders coaxing you to your initial destination. As if the journey to this tranquil cove was not enough, your evening will only get exponentially better. The fire-lit path will guide you to an exceptionally romantic outdoor dining area right along the coast. Nature provides the perfect setting for this outdoor dining experience, as a light wind from the Pacific Ocean blows through the decorative palm trees. Light from the torches and a litany of candles scattered about flickers on the water. The sounds of nature are intertwined with table-side serenades from talented musicians wandering through the dining area. The atmosphere alone transforms dinner into a mesmerizing experience.

Guests are then treated to a full-service buffet that includes thoughtfully prepared food selections to accommodate any dietary preference. The buffet includes grilled chicken, fish and steak, along with a delicious display of vegetables, salads, and, of course, tortillas that are hand-made exhibition style. The dessert buffet is equally tantalizing, with pies, rice pudding and brownies among the many offerings. After dinner, you will be beckoned to the outdoor amphitheater where talented local artists perform a spectacular theatrical performance amid the backdrop of a pyramid adorned with candlelight.

Through fire, acrobatics, dance, song, music, comedy and magnificent costuming, the performance proudly reenacts some of the ancient customs that highlights the rich history of this region.  At the conclusion of this perfect enchanted evening, you will receive a final toast as you dance the night away as the cruise ship transports you back to the port with music bumping and cocktails flowing. As with the ride to the cove, the return trip also provides scenic views unique to this part of the world.

Overall, this enthralling evening offers the opportunity to have a relaxing, peaceful and exciting night filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes you will not soon forget. Whether you are looking for the quintessential romantic dinner experience, a fun-filled family adventure, or are planning a group event, an evening with Rhythms of the Night is a magical journey sure to impress.

Adrenaline-Laced Activities at Canopy River Puerto Vallarta
Relative to activities, Puerto Vallarta certainly has all of its bases covered—in large part thanks to Canopy River adventure tours, which is perfect for pure adrenaline experiences by day. Indeed, if you are an action seeker looking for excitement and a way to see the beauty of Puerto Vallarta up close and personal, Canopy River tours are for you. This company offers everything from a fast-paced zip line boasting no less than 12 heart-pounding sections, to thrilling ATV tours, which include diving and dipping at a gorgeous hidden river and waterfall basin, to exciting expeditions through the rainforest. You can complement any of these adventures by dining at the breathtaking on-site Los Coapinoles Restaurant where guests can also participate in one of the greatest tequila tastings in the area.

Your zip line adventure begins with a brief safety training provided by experienced, talented and affable zip line professionals. You will then be safely hooked up to a full-body harness and provided with a security helmet, as you and your tour guides head off for the experience of a lifetime. You will zip through 12 different lines that fly directly above the amazing rainforest located in the Sierra Madre Mountains to heights as high as 709 feet. Each zip line ends on a large platform that gives you the opportunity to stop for a moment, enjoy the surroundings and take memorable photos. Adding to the adventure, at the end of the line, you will travel by mule back up the mountain to the point of origination.

The river expedition is definitely designed for both nature lovers and adrenaline seekers. These expeditions start on the coastline of Rio Cuale and take a six-hour journey through the remarkable rainforest of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Among other notables, you will travel across two bridges that reach heights of up to 88 feet. This journey is only meant for true thrill seekers looking for unforgettable adventure. If you want a fun experience, but may not have the daredevil aptitude for zip lining or a full-blown expedition, an ATV tour can provide an amazing experience. These tours are crafted for those with even little or no ATV experience, so even if you have never ridden an ATV before, this tour is for you. This 60-minute thrill ride will take you on a journey through the Sierra Madre Mountains. You will be given the opportunity to stop at several prime locations to view the ample beauty this area has to offer, from stunning flora to incredible wildlife to mountainous vistas beyond. As mentioned, halfway through the trip, the experienced tour guide will take you to one of the most beautiful hidden treasures in the mountains: Piletas. This location will reward you with the opportunity to see a breathtaking waterfall and even take a swim in the pristine waters beneath the falls before hopping back on your ATV and heading back.

With weather to-die-for, gorgeous waters, robust customs and traditions and diverse terrains, it is no wonder that west Mexico attracts huge tourism dollars. Travelers flock to the area year after year to enjoy the amazing and unique dishes that are specific to the region, tour historical sites, experience thrilling adventure and entertainment, and just spend some time relaxing and taking it all in. And, if you have a penchant for luxury accommodations, fine dining and spa treatments, opportunity is plentiful. As you plan your getaways up ahead this year and beyond, a visit to one or all five of these venues should be at the top of your list. Rest assured the time spent would be vacation experience not soon forgotten.

Merilee Kern

Merilee Kern

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer trends expert, travel industry voice of authority and TV personality who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. She scours the marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Source:  http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2016-O-001/index.html.