Brooklyn Boutiques

For visitors to New York, it’s always been basically unheard of to stay anywhere but Manhattan. And if you did want to come up with an alternative home base, it would have been hard to do, considering how few hotels there were in any other borough. Continue reading

5 Fall Festivals, Coast to Coast

The kids are back in school, the days are growing noticeably shorter and a certain crispness has invaded the air. Hang on a second while we check the calendar. Yes, autumn is right around the corner. And with the changing of the seasons comes a slew of festivals up and down the East and West Coast—and in between. Continue reading

The Road Not Taken

An Interview With Matthew Robertson, Founder, Momentum Adventure

Matthew Robertson is founder of Momentum Adventure, a high end, boutique company specializing in luxury adventure travel. He usually is on the road not taken, or rarely taken by others. Continue reading

The Virginia: Boutique Luxury On The Jersey Shore

Plush furniture, fine linens and access to not only beautiful beaches but some of the best farm-to-table cuisine on the East Coast. If this isn’t the Jersey Shore you’re acquainted with, then perhaps you’ve watched a bit too much television. When summer’s warmest weather arrives there is no better time to plan a weekend jaunt out of the sweltering city, and no better small resort to rest your head than The Virginia Hotel. Continue reading

Business or Pleasure in Charleston

Travel has never been more a part of our lives than it is today. And business travel is no exception. Even in the age of WebEx, Bluetooth and iPhones—which connect us to our clients and coworkers 24/7—the business world still has a hankering for travel.

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The Beekman Hotel

An architectural gem hailed for its iconic nine-story atrium and pyramidal skylight, The Beekman unites some of the world’s greatest talent, including the sophisticated design of Martin Brudnizki and the culinary cachet of restaurateur and chef Tom Colicchio. Continue reading

Where to Stay, Play and Eat Gourmet in Bermuda

Stay:

Rosewood Bermuda in St. George’s on the north end of the island is steeped in history. Formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point (the adjacent Tucker’s Point Golf Club has been around since 1932) when Rosewood Resorts took over the management of the 88-room Tucker’s Point in 2011 the new resort sits atop one of the highest hills on the northeastern end of Bermuda, next to Castle Harbour and with ocean views from almost every room and window.

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Rather than opt for a minimal contemporary look, Tucker’s Point remains true to its location with rooms decorated in a Georgian colonial look, complete with canopy beds, wainscoting and freestanding tubs. The resort has an impressive four pools (considering its relatively small size), including a 25-meter lap pool and another reserved for adults. Not so much a complaint as a caveat: while the resort has an enviably large beach (unlike many Bermuda properties), it’s a five-minute shuttle ride away. On April 1, Rosewood Bermuda reopened after a four-month, $25 million makeover. Formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point, the reimagined resort welcomes guests with an elegant lobby anchored by a new bar and lounge, plus an atrium courtyard. The 92 rooms and suites are now residential-style retreats that reflect the island’s English colonial heritage. Dining-wise, the resort’s signature restaurant reopens as the Island Brasserie; A refreshed Beach Club features a restaurant inspired by the island’s fish markets (plus an updated bar and new luxury cabanas). Wellness junkies will appreciate a modernized Sense, a Rosewood Spa.

 

If some laps in the pool or splashing in the surf don’t constitute sufficient exercise, guests at the resort also have access to the Tucker’s Point Club. This 18-hole course was originally laid out in 1932 and then redesigned in 2002 by Roger Rulewich, former chief designer for Robert Trent Jones.  Greens fees start at $205 through mid-September and $225 after. What’s more, guests of Tucker’s Point also receive playing privileges at the renowned Mid Ocean Club, which consistently ranks among the world’s top 100 courses. Originally designed in 1921 by Charles Blair Macdonald, the historic course was enhanced in 1953 by architect Robert Trent Jones

 

The Reefs, a villa only resort in Southampton is also a great stay if you can afford it. The beloved fixture on Bermuda’s South Shore since 1947—and which Conde Nast rated #1 in the region (including Bermuda, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos) not long ago—is family-owned and operated by the Dodwell family, native Bermudians whose passion for island living and gracious hospitality has delighted generations of loyal guests. Nestled in a pink sand cove surrounded by Bermuda’s wind-swept limestone cliffs, The Reefs echoes the island’s enduring elegance, blending it effortlessly with a youthful, make-our-own-rules spirit that charms friends old and new.

 

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A less expensive alternative to Tucker’s Point and The Reefs, The Fairmont Southampton, right down the street from The Reefs is a great deal with a great location. If you can get by the size and color—affectionately known as the “pink elephant” due to it’s size (400 rooms) and light pink facade—the Southampton has a ton to offer at a very reasonable rate. Fairmont’s Private Beach Club is situated on one of Bermuda’s finest beaches, a secluded private cove with Bermuda’s signature pink sand.  The cove is somewhat protected from rough water due to a large rock just a short swim out (you can walk to it during low tide). It also happens to be an easy and convenient location to put on your snorkel and mask and see some of Bermuda’s beautiful fish. If you want a larger beach, the world-famous Horseshoe Bay Beach, a curved stretch of pink sand that connects to other South Shore Beaches, is just steps away. The Southampton also has two pools including a kid’s pool with a slide.

 

Of course, the most talked about resort right now in Bermuda right now is the newly built (2017) The Loren at Pink Beach. The first hotel built on Bermuda in a decade, The Loren has raised the bar among the island’s resorts with posh yet minimalist rooms and suites which bring a new level of elegance and style to the destination. This seaside resort embraces the clean and modern aesthetic of an urban boutique hotel resulting in a set of sophisticated retreats with endless ocean views.

 

 

Play:

Wide shot from back of new Tee on 16th hole of Port Royal Golfcourse

 

If you’re not staying at Tucker’s Point (and you’re not a member or don’t know one) then Mid Ocean is not an option. But many will argue that the prestigious Port Royal Golf Course is just as good—and easily as beautiful. Originally designed by famed course architect Robert Trent Jones in 1970, the Port Royal Golf Course of Southampton Parish underwent a $14.5 million refurb back in 2009. It now features resewn fairways and tee boxes, a new irrigation system and a grandiose clubhouse.  Although the course has incredible ocean views, at 6,842 yards, it is also Bermuda’s longest and perhaps most challenging course so beginners beware. (Non-members can book a tee time at Port Royal Golf Course up to seven days in advance. The course is public and open to all players daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.). But be prepared to pay hefty greens fees and book well in advance.

 

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For a less highfalutin activity, and one that is completely free, the beaches in Bermuda are a top-of-the-list activity. Whether your beach time is of the more active nature (walks, swimming, frisbee) or the less active (sunbathing) there is no place on Bermuda more pristine to waste the day away than Horseshoe Bay Beach. Always ranked among the top beaches in the world, it is easily on par with the best stretches of sand in the Bahamas and Caribbean.  

 

Eat

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To say Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelson’s namesake restaurant Marcus’ in the Hamilton Princess Hotel is breathtaking would be an understatement. Arrayed with modern art from the hotel’s owners, including original pieces by Andy Warhol, Liu Ye and Nelson Mandela amongst others, the space is visually striking, The signature restaurant occupies the former Gazebo Room, once a grand ballroom, offering a central bar and views of the ocean. An open kitchen creates a show all in its own, with chefs creating Samuelsson’s specialty including Jerk Pork Belly, and tantalizing Fried Chicken & Waffles. Additional dishes pay tribute to Bermudian culture, such as Grilled Bermuda Onion and Fish Chowder Bites among others. The restaurant features a full beverage menu with signature and classic cocktails, a well-rounded selection of wine and beer, and a new spin on a local favorite, ginger beer-based Darker and Stormier.

 

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The only true beach bar and bistro on the island, Mickey’s Beach Bistro—or just “Mickey’s”—on Elbow Beach is loved by locals and visitors alike. Sip an island cocktail prepared by Bermuda’s best bartenders while listening to the waves break and gazing at the wide open Atlantic. Their eclectic menu and versatile wine list rounds out a great overall experience—a must stop while on the Island.

 

For cheaper eats, head to Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy (in Hamilton and in St. George’s) for what many—including Marcus Samuelson himself—believe to be the best fish sandwich on the island. The traditional Bermudian fish sandwich — deep-fried and served on raisin bread with lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and perhaps a touch of hot sauce and some sauteed onions — is one of the best fish sandwich anywhere.

 

Drink

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Bermuda is a unique island in that it has many of the characteristics of the tropical islands in the Bahamas and Caribbean but it is undoubtedly subtropical—it is on approximately the same latitude as the Carolinas. So while the peak season in August and September may feel balmy and lend itself to island (rum) drinks, much of the year is more temperate. This, combined with the fact that Bermuda is a British territory, steeped in British culture and cuisine, results in food and drink options that are just as much pub fair-oriented as they are beach bar.

 

A less formal option than Mickey’s, Sea Breeze, also located at Elbow Beach Resort and positioned just above the famous stretch of sand, is an open-air terrace, with stunning, panoramic views of Elbow Beach’s pink sand and the wide open, blue atlantic waters. It’s a wonderful spot in which to enjoy cocktails from the bar, an aperitif before dinner or drinks under the stars.

 

Over in the more bustling Hamilton Parish lies The Swizzle Inn, a landmark known as Bermuda’s oldest pub and favored by both locals and visitors. It also happens to be the birthplace of Bermuda’s original Rum Swizzle, the deliciously potent national drink made with Goslings Black Seal Rum, Barbados Rum, Triple Sec, pineapple juice, orange juice, Bermuda Falernum, and Angostura Bitters.

 

For more British style pub fair, head to the The Frog and Onion Pub which calls an old barrel making building home and is also attached to the Dockyard Brewing Company. This authentic British-style pub was created in 1992 by a Frenchman (Frog) and Bermudian (Onion), hence the name. The historic Cooperage, completed in 1853, was converted to five storehouses in the 1940s. With the pub serving great comfort food, it pairs perfectly with an ale from Dockyard Brewing Co., Bermuda’s only microbrewery. Featuring 5 different types of beers and ales, it is a favourite destination of locals and tourists alike who wish to sample artisanal beverages of exceptional quality.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Hotels in Chicago

It’s easy to indulge your love of exquisite accommodations in the Windy City. Celebrating arts, dining, shopping, entertainment and sports, Chicago is a diverse luxury destination that presents unlimited adventures. The Gold Coast. The Art Institute. Alinea. Michigan Avenue. Soldier Field. Continue reading

Napa Nuances

I love Napa Valley in the off-season, when the hills, a parched straw color for much of the year, are lush green from the fall and winter rains and cooler temperatures. And that is exactly how I found it on my most recent trip, with picturesque green hills rising above the grapeless, valley-floor vineyards. Continue reading

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando (With Kids)

Planning a trip to Universal Orlando and not sure which hotel to stay at? Looking for and deciding on a hotel can be a tough decision.

 

There are so many variables to be considered, especially in relation to visiting a theme park, and you don’t want to leave a vacation feeling like you wish you had done your research better and stayed somewhere else. We recently stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Orlando, which was fabulous. I would recommend it to anyone considering planning a trip to Universal Orlando.

 

WHY WE CHOSE THE HARD ROCK?

We chose the Hard Rock because it’s an on-site hotel and the closest of the hotels to the Universal parks. We had grandparents with us and figured this would be the best option. But of course I loved the location just as much for us as I did for them. So, for starters, this was a big selling point for my family. Each morning we would walk out of the hotel and hop on a path that took us through bamboo trees and up to the entrance. It’s no more than a 10 minute walk and a calm, nice way of entering – no parking lot madness!

 

There is also a complimentary water taxi, which in theory is a great idea, but in reality (at least in our experience), usually includes a wait for the next taxi. Every time we went it was a 10/15 minute wait. But if you don’t mind that, then go for it – it did look fun if we were willing to wait.

 

 

In my Guide to Planning a Trip to Universal Studios, I discuss why I think it’s best to stay at an on-site hotel, due to their many benefits. There are 5 main on-site hotels in Universal in three different categories -Premier, Preferred, and Prime Value (the Hard Rock is Premier) – and the benefits they all have in common are: they all offer Early Park Admission, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, before the parks open to the public (this is very key! The Harry Potter lines are no joke!); they are all within walking distance to the parks (though some much closer than others hint hint!); they all offer Complimentary Transportation to the parks and CityWalk, should you need it; and they all offer Room Key resort-wide charging privileges (no credit card necessary).

 

KEY BENEFITS OF STAYING AT THE HARD ROCK

The Hard Rock, being a Premier hotel, has some additional key benefits: the most important one being, it gives you a free Universal Express Unlimited Ride pass so you can skip the regular lines. A serious bonus! This is huge, and the most key benefit of them all, and what sets it apart from most other hotels. These days lines at Universal and Disney are so out of control that your experience is truly compromised. Who wants to wait in line for 1-2 hours for 1 ride? You can spend half the day waiting in line for just a couple of the really popular rides. It’s not worth it in my opinion. So I loved that this pass came with staying at the Hard Rock.

The other perk the hotel offers is priority seating at select restaurants throughout the resort, including CityWalk. Some of these restaurants happen to be some of the most popular, like Antojitos, a delicious Mexican restaurant with killer guacamole. Having the ability to sit down with not much wait is a great perk – especially with a margarita after a long day on your feet all day!

 

THE POOL AT THE HARD ROCK – ROCKS!

 

What was it about the Hard Rock specifically that we liked so much? Well, apart from it being the closet hotel to the parks, we loved the pool. The pool ROCKS. It’s big and fabulous (12,000 square feet) with a sand beach and surrounded by lush green vegetation, and most noticeably it has an underwater sound system. The music never stops! My kids loved this feature. Their favorite part, though, was the awesome water slide. They went down it for hours (as if the theme park wasn’t enough). I couldn’t write this review without mentioning how phenomenal the life guards were. They were ON it. At one point there was an incident in the pool and before I knew it the life guard was in the pool at the rescue. They were very present and vigilant which made it all the more relaxing.

 

Other features of the pool include a kids play section, water fountains and two hot tubs, one which is kid-friendly, and one for adults only. And of course it goes without saying the Hard Rock pool has a bar with chair and bench service. There was nothing we needed more after an exhausting day than a beer poolside while the kids were entertained by the slide and underground music. I really loved the pool at the Hard Rock – it was so relaxing to come back to and felt like a little slice of the Caribbean.

 

ADDITIONAL PERKS TO NOTE

If you want to take it to the next step and really get a break there is Camp Lil’ Rock, a kids activity center for ages 4 -14. We never used this, as it was a short stay, but good to know it’s there with late night hours for those wanting to go out for dinner sans kids. Note they do require advanced reservations. There are movies by the pool, character meals and more – you can read more about the kids’ activities here.

As for food and drink, there are a few different dining and bar options including The Palm steakhouse as well as the Velvet Bar, among others, if you don’t feel like leaving the premise. We ate at a restaurant called the Kitchen a couple of times and it was good. Not amazing but fine enough. CityWalk is nearby so there are plenty of options for eating out, and we never felt stressed by “what are we going to do for dinner?. That’s another great thing about the location of the Hard Rock – CityWalk and restaurants are just a stone’s throw away.

 

THE ROOMS AT THE HARD ROCK – ROCK!

 

Last but not least – how were the rooms? Loved them! Modern and hip, with plush, comfortable beds, we slept like babies. Our room was medium size, not huge but not tiny either. It was quiet and cozy and exactly what we wanted to come home to after a busy day out. The rest of the hotel is very nice and spacious, with fun rock memorabilia all over the place. And contrary to what I had imagined leading up to our stay – it wasn’t noisy or chaotic!

 

All in all, The Hard Rock met all expectations and we were completely satisfied with our stay. It’s a very nice hotel with helpful staff, convenient, relaxing and fun. All four of us loved it.

 

This article originally appeared on fifi + hop. Republished by permission.

A Virgin Launch

Sir Richard Branson has never been on a cruise, but he is about to disrupt the cruise industry with the launch of Virgin Voyages. Officially open for business today, the Scarlet Lady is open for bookings for her inaugural season with voyages departing from April 1 through October 25, 2020. Continue reading

house of parliament

10 Free Things To Do In London With Your Family

London is one of the greatest cities in the world and such a wonderful place to visit as a family. But like any city, London can be very expensive so when we visit we’re always on the look out for great things to do that don’t cost us anything.

The good news is that there are loads of fantastic free things for families to do in the city. Some of London’s greatest museums are free and have a range of superb activities for children, there are wonderful parks and so many of London’s most iconic sights like the Changing of the Guard and the Ceremony of the Keys won’t cost you anything to watch. Here are our ten favourites:

 

Discover more by walking around

 

What do you picture when you think about London? Most people’s lists of must-see sights include places like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. London is a fantastic city to walk around and you can see all these iconic sights by doing just that. From Trafalgar Square you can walk down the Mall and up to the gates of Buckingham Palace. A pleasant stroll through St James’s Park takes you almost to Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Further to the south east, the South Bank of the River Thames is another great place for a walk. Here you can see Shakespeare’s Globe and pick up something to eat from one of the fantastic stalls at Borough Market. Then walk past HMS Belfast and make your way over Tower Bridge and up to the Tower of London.

 

Watch the Changing of the Guard

 

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Most people talk about the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace but we prefer the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guards Parade.  It’s much less crowded and there are no railings so you can see much more clearly. What’s more, it’s the Household Cavalry so the soldiers are on horseback with swords drawn and plumed helmets on their head.

The ceremony takes place every day at 11am (10am on Sundays). Click here for more information about Changing the Guard ceremonies.

 

Visit the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum

 

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© Natural History Museum

 

The Dinosaur Gallery is rightly one of the biggest draws of the Natural History Museum but there is so much more for children to see and do here whether they’re into dinosaurs and furry frogs or cursed amethysts and duck-billed platypuses.

You can feel the earth move in the Earthquake Machine, play detective games around the museum and visit the growing fox cubs in the Wildlife Garden. The hands-on Science Centre is a great place for children to examine specimens from the natural world for themselves, using microscopes and other scientific tools.

 

Have a picnic in a park

 

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When we’re in the centre of London we often have a picnic in St. James’s Park where we can feed the ducks and watch the pelicans being fed. But if you want to make more of an outing of it, head for Kensington Gardens where there are some great picnic spots, the Peter Pan statue and the wonderful Diana Memorial Playground with its huge wooden pirate ship, giant sandpit and teepees. There’s even a tree house encampment with walkways, ladders and slides. For added fun, cross over the road into nearby Hyde Park for a splash around in the Diana Memorial Fountain.

 

Do an activity trail in the British Museum

 

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My kids love going to the British Museum. The mummies in the Ancient Egypt section are a particular favourite. There’s so much to explore whether you’re into the Aztecs and the Incas, the Vikings or Ancient Greece. It’s best to pick just one area to visit each time you go or it’s too much to take in.

On our last trip we went round the Roman Britain rooms with an activity backpack filled with artefacts, dressing up clothes and things to do. It made our visit even more enjoyable than usual. You can pick up backpacks, art materials and activity worksheets for specific areas from the Families Desk. Children can also take part in object handling sessions, digital and film-making workshops.

 

Follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter

 

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Even Muggles can now visit Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station where Harry Potter boarded the train to Hogwarts. You can queue up to have your photo taken under the sign, complete with trolley, scarf and wand. There’s no charge for taking your own photos. Platforms 4 and 5 at the station were used for filming and the neo gothic exterior of nearby St Pancras International was used in the films to stand in for King’s Cross.

Now head down to Leadenhall Market, a covered market in the City used as Diagon Alley in the film of the Philosopher’s Stone. The blue door of the optician’s in Bull’s Head Passage was used as the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron.

 

Do a workshop at the National Gallery

 

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© The National Gallery

The National Gallery is a great place to visit with children but did you know that they run free art workshops over the school holidays? The workshops are led by artists and inspired by paintings in the gallery. We’ve made flowers and drawn portraits but the workshop my two most enjoyed was making a sound picture with musical instruments of Paolo Uccello’s The Battle of San Romano, a 15th-century painting of knights on white chargers. All the children sat in front of the painting making the noises of horses’ hooves clopping, swords clashing and drums beating. Utterly brilliant!

The workshops are aimed at 5 to 11 year olds and take place on Sundays at 11am and 2pm and over the holidays. Children under 5 can do the Magic Carpet Storytelling on Sunday mornings.

 

Watch the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London

 

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© Historic Royal Palaces

The traditional locking up of the Tower of London has taken place every night for over 700 years. At 9.52pm exactly, the Chief Yeoman Warder comes out carrying a candle lantern in one hand and the Queen’s keys in the other. He walks to Traitor’s Gate to meet the Foot Guards and the ceremony takes place.

Forty to 50 visitors are admitted into the Tower to watch it every day from 9.30pm. This can get booked up months in advance so be sure to book well before your visit. Book online here.

 

Dress up as an astronaut at the Science Museum

 

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© Science Museum, London

There is so much for children to do at the Science Museum from morphing your face to see what it will look like when you’re older to investigating climate change and dressing up as a WWII fighter pilot. This is also the place to come if you want to see the Apollo 10 command module and Stephenson’s Rocket.

The interactive areas for young children are fantastic, from the Pattern Pod, a multi-sensory area for 5 to 8 year olds to the interactive Garden Gallery for pre-schoolers. There are also drop in experiments for all ages throughout the day at the Science Stations.

 

Watch the street entertainers in Covent Garden

 

You can see some of London’s best street performers every single day of the week on the famous piazza at Covent Garden. It’s so much fun joining the crowds to watch acrobats, mime artists, clowns and opera singers. Covent Garden is a wonderful place for wandering around the numerous shops, restaurants and market stalls – there’s a craft market six days a week and an antique market on Mondays.

 

This article originally appeared on fifi + hop (via Suitcases and Sandals). Republished by permission.

Rocky 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. Continue reading

3 Hip Hotels in Palm Springs

Whether you’re headed to a festival or simply craving the warm desert comforts of Palm Springs, consider these 3 spots

Thanks to new hotels, restaurants and festivals, Palm Springs is experiencing a cyclical renaissances of sorts. Similar to swings in the stock market, Palm Springs has a way of falling out of grace for years at a time only to roar back into vogue.

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Fall Into Barcelona

Autumn can be a tricky season in Barcelona. The phrase “the rains in Spain fall gently on the plain” isn’t a misnomer and sometimes “gently” is a vast understatement. The weather tends to fluctuate between heavy rains and periods of sun that make Barcelona glow like a mythical lost city of gold. Usually by September, thunderstorms begin to drift in off the Mediterranean Sea, pounding the pavement along La Rambla.

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Healthy Travel Means Business

In today’s high tech world—where even email threads seem archaic in comparison to a Google hangout—the continued merits of business travel are up for debate. Ask the salespeople and the dealmakers, and they’ll laugh in the face of the modern digital landscape. In their world, nothing beats an in-person meeting when a deal is on the line and you’re looking to close. But does that triumph outweigh the mental and physical strain of balancing on-the-go with on-the-job? Continue reading