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R BlockLovely Bones

Maybe you’ve come to Miami to rest and relax in the sun. Or perhaps you fancy the vibrant nightlife. No matter your business, it’s important to note—especially for you restless souls who grow tired of sunbathing—that a fishing mecca lies only a few miles south in the Florida Keys. Read more »

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R BlockRooms With a View

Hotels built around their natural environment are nothing new. The Explora Hotel Salto Chico in Patagonia is situated on the banks of a waterfall in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The Tsala Treetop Lodge in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, allows guests to live out their childhood fantasy of sleeping in a tree house—albeit a luxurious one. And in the United States, you have the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, built on the craggy cliffs of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Read more »

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R BlockPrim(land) and Proper

Start the morning off with 18 holes of PGA quality, Scottish-links style driving and putting action on the #1 public golf course in Virginia. Next, grab a quick lunch and a cold pint at the 19th Pub before your afternoon ATV tour starts at 2 p.m. After a bumpy ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains, your body will most likely need a break, so settle back in at your luxurious mountain suite for an afternoon siesta. Read more »

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R BlockA Timeless Playground

When you think of the most luxurious, nature-based way to relax after a long day of sightseeing, do you wonder what could top a massage enjoyed in the cool of a desert evening? Now, picture yourself taking this getaway with the kids, and the entire family finding unique and spirited ways to bond as a unit

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R BlockKing of Trains

James Bond had it shaken – not stirred – on it, Wilhelmina Murray owes her immortal soul to it, and Mr. Rachett got whacked in it. It’s the Orient Express, synonymous with romance and exoticism (and intrigue and mystery) and the unsung hero of “From Russia with Love,”Dracula,” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” And yes, it still runs. Read more »

 

The pod people are coming. And they have their own hotels.

 

When he first introduced the property in the cutthroat hotel-scape of New York five years ago, Richard Born of BD Hotels went against convention — hard. While other debuting spaces one-upped each other with ever more rarified levels of luxury and exclusivity, the Pod 51, at 230 East 51 Street in Manhattan’s Midtown East section, shot for the modest-of-means hipster crowd. The rooms were small. The showers were communal. The starting price was $119 a night.

 

The success was immediate.

 

And, riding the wave of that success, this month witnesses the Pod becoming a chain. Using Pod power to reincarnate the old Allerton House at 145 East 39 Street as the new Pod 39, says Born: “This is a rare instance where a hotel genre has developed organically. When we opened the first Pod, we found it attracted a very particular kind of person: Individuals who thrive on travel and are looking for a hotel that enhances their exploration of a place. For them, the communal experience in the hotel’s public space is vital, being plugged-in is essential, and terrific style at an affordable price is expected.”

 

Translated, Pod people reveled themselves to be all about form and function, but frills? Not so much. And at either property, stepping into your room, whether it be the Single Pod, Double Pod, Queen Pod, Bunk Pod — it’s just what you think it is — or one of the Odd Pods (a townhouse studio-type space or a room with two double beds, depending on which hotel), is to step into an environment as efficient as your college dorm room but without the cut-rate color scheme and unflattering fluorescent lighting.

 

To some, to have the moniker “pod” brings to mind those vaguely unsettling honeycomb hotels in Japan, but with the Pod 39, Born and his team created an environment as welcoming as it is efficient. Of the 366 rooms, there are 57 singles, 83 bunks, 88 doubles, 137 queen-sized, and one double bunk, and the starting price remains a ridiculously-cheap-for-New-York $119 a night. Into each room designer Vanessa Guildford integrated bedside media hubs with a full range of ports allowing guests to connect to the room, view personal photos, videos and entertainment on wall-mounted flat-screen TVs. WiFi is free. But while the tech is 2012, the design, like that of the Pod 51, is decidedly a pared-down mid-century mod: the light fixtures are a classic design from Leucos, the calendar wall clocks are inspired by the concourse displays and next train indicators. (Unlike its predecessor, and in a possible relief to the modest among us, the Pod 39 features private bathrooms in every room.)

 

Pod 39 Hotel NYC

 

While Pod 39 stays close the DNA of Pod 51, the 17-floor Allerton House, built in 1918 and whose brochure described it as having “quiet, refined, club-like homes that provided socially respectable, economical housing for hard-working, refined, ambitious young men and women,” provided Born with more funky finishes than those at the original space. The vast ground-floor lobby is reconfigured to create distinct public spaces while promoting a natural flow from one to another. After passing through a vibrant red-tiled vestibule, guests enter a high space with a “window box” reception desk, a coffee bar, and a Pod-particular feature: A “screening wall” where guest photos and videos are projected around the clock. The original Gentlemen’s Sitting Room upholds its illustrious heritage by remaining proudly all-purpose: Part restaurant-lounge, part library, part workspace and part communal center of the Pod 39 social experience as a whole. The terra cotta floors and enormous east fireplace remain intact; the ceiling soars.

 

The rooftop setting is styled into the ultimate under-the-stars shmoozing zone. In keeping with the building’s ornate Romanesque architecture, the two-story “cloister” is framed with brick arches and terra cotta columns. New York icons rise in in every direction: East to the river, south to the lower-Manhattan skyline, southwest to the nearby Empire State building, and north to the even closer Chrysler building.

 

“The Pod is like no other hotel brand I know,” says Born. “From the moment we opened five years ago, we attracted a self-selecting community of individuals who really relish travel and the social experience around it. We have always looked to them to determine how to evolve. With Pod 39, we’re building upon all of that knowledge. It’s been an exciting process because it feels like we’re capturing the essence of travel, which is discovery.”

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R BlockRocky Mountain Resort Towns

Typically viewed as a nuisance in the city, alpine villages view snow as the gift of all gifts from mother nature. For the big mountain resorts in the Colorado Rockies, significant snow storms represent cash falling from the skies.  If you count yourself among those wanting to hit the slopes and carve a few black diamonds before the warm weather arrives, there is no better time for a weekend getaway. Read more »

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R BlockThe Road to Middle Earth

In 2012, director Peter Jackson returned to Middle Earth for a new trilogy based on the works of beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien. An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in The Hobbit series, received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, with many quibbling over Jackson’s decision to release the film in a controversial high frame rate format. Nevertheless, it helped spark a renewed interest in the real-life locations used in the film. Read more »

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R BlockGreen Luxury Hotels

This year’s GreenLux Awards gave the chic Crosby Street Hotel the distinction of Greenest Luxury Hotel. The Gold LEED-certified hotel features 86 rooms and numerous common spaces, all in the heart of Soho. What makes the Crosby Street Hotel so remarkable is that its architects were able to ingeniously outfit it with sustainable features while working within the unique context of its distinctive Soho location. Read more »

 

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. At Mandarin Oriental, New York, they don’t need a second chance.

 

When the elevator opens onto the 35th floor lobby, you will genuinely feel as though your head is in the clouds. There may be no better view of the legendary Manhattan skyline anywhere in New York. With floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s the perfect showcase for views of all the skyscrapers, plus Central Park and the Hudson River.

 

If you can manage to tear yourself from the view, be sure and take a look up to the ceiling in the lobby, which should be on the list of amazing attractions: a massive, spectacular chandelier made from Waterford Crystal.

 

Situated in the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle, which interestingly enough is the point where all distances to and from Manhattan are measured, Mandarin Oriental, New York is literally at the center of it all. The modern Asian-influenced décor resonates throughout the hotel, and the impeccable service never disappoints.

 

Once you’re done giving your eyes a workout it will be time for the rest of your body, so explore the state-of-the art workout facility and 75-foot lap pool, then rejuvenate and feel as if you are floating in midair at the bi-level spa, featuring a VIP Spa Suite for two, a Thai-yoga room, and holistic treatments with the freshest ingredients.

 

While New York is a Mecca of fine cuisine, you won’t be but an elevator ride away from the outstanding Asiate, offering contemporary, Asian-influenced gourmet cuisine. Then, walk off your dinner with a stop in Central Park, a green oasis located directly across the street, or take an easy stroll to Broadway and catch a show.

 

Whether you are an out-of-town guest or just seeking a spectacular getaway in your own backyard, with a combination of award-winning service, decadent luxury and the ideal city location in the world’s most exciting city, Mandarin Oriental, New York is an absolute must.

 

Are your nature-loving and resort-coveting sides constantly at war when it’s time to book a vacation? Why compromise when you could stay at a tropical wellness resort where guests are offered the opportunity to literally live amongst the trees? The shimmering sands and lush rainforest of Nicaragua beckon; unforgettable adventure and deep, soulful relaxation awaits.

 

 

Allow us to introduce you to Aqua Wellness Resort, a Central American paradise situated around the shallow waters of Redondo Bay, within the secluded forests of the Pacific Lowlands. This site knows exactly how to make the best of one’s location: Rather than disturb the gorgeous environment which it calls home, Aqua has incorporated the grand greenery into a marvelous selling point that’s as eco-friendly as it is appealing to harried vacationers. The resort offers its guests the chance to stay in tree top villas, peaceful abodes built elevated off the ground so as to minimize overall impact. Lean against the wraparound railing and feel the ocean breeze waft over you, take a rejuvenating dip into your own plunge pool or simply drift to sleep amidst the sounds of your seaside setting. You’ll awake to a complete immerson into nature: The sightings of native sea turtles crawling the beaches, butterflies fluttering in the air, monkeys swinging to and fro in the trees and even a sloth hanging off looming branches could be in store. Don’t be surprised if you discover vegetation and wildlife that you’ve never been in such up close and personal contact with. 

 

Foodies will be wowed by Bromelia Restaurant, the on-site eatery featuring seasonal, local cuisine sourced from farmers and fisherman of the area. If fresh fish; juicy, sumptuous fruit and warm, doughy baked bread is your idea of the perfect balanced meal, you’ll be sure to feast at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Post-meal you can grab a cocktail from the beach bar and let the cool water caress your toes as you bask in the sun.

 

 

Feeling in need of a detox? Aqua’s spa offers everything from nutritional consultations, to private yoga lessons, to sunset meditation classes. Sometimes we need a bit more than healthy eating and exercise to feel our best, though, so the resort offers a therapeutic menu full of blissful pampering. Shelf all that stress from home and indulge in a variety of massages, body and facial treatments, or one of three 90-minute wellness packages.

 

 

 

Once you’re feeling truly refreshed, get out in the sunlight and get moving again. Kayaks, surf boards, paddle boards, fishing equipment and snorkeling gear are all available for rental, as are lessons in each respective activity. We suggest you pick out one day of your trip for these water sports and save the rest of your adventure days for trips to various nearby sites. You can hike to the top of a volcano, tour an organic coffee plantation, explore colonial Granada and even zipline the canopy of San Juan Del Sur. Our personal favorite packages are the Ometepe Organic Farm Tour ($189 per person for two guests) and the Masaya Volcano Night Tour ($135 per person for two guests). On the first, you’ll tour two farms which are using integrative permaculture techniques to harvest their land (perfect for you locavore movement lovers), spending the day learning the ins and outs of their processes. On the latter, you’ll depart in the afternoon and spend your evening trekking through the lava stream caves of an active masaya volcano.

 

If you really fall in love with this serene site, Aqua offers a number of volunteer positions in helping further sustainable development in Nicaragua. If you’d be interested in documenting, cataloguing, photographing and studying various aspects of life (human, animal and plant) on the island, there are several month to year-long opportunities that would allow your path to wellness to continue.