FOUR SEASONS / The West Cliff –COOL VIDEO

SPECTACULAR GOURMET FOOD IN CAPE TOWN

Take a look at these  photos from my client’s 12-course tasting menu at La Columbe outside of Cape Town.

WOW!

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FAB lodges to stay at in South Africa!

I had the pleasure of staying at Lion Sands / Narina Lodge and visiting their other lodges, Tinga Lodge, River Lodge and Ivory Lodge, and they are all gorgeous. Fab food and service, great game viewing and guides, comfy surroundings, what more can you ask for on safari?

EXCLUSIVE BOTSWANA SAFARI PICS!

TOP GOLF DESTINATIONS

Casa de Campo and Tortuga Bay

Your choice of two beautiful Dominican Republic resorts with amazing golf

ICELAND – An Adventure for You?

Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship ANTHEM of the SEAS

IMG_3531Megaships are usually not my own personal thing, but I wanted to check out  Anthem of the Seas, since  it is a brand new ship that is sailing out of Cape Liberty, NJ which means  NO FLYING for my East Coast clients!  That is a huge selling point in my book!

It’s a sister ship to the Quantum of the Seas, and it’s actually not as ginormous as I thought–guest capacity is 4,180 passengers, so it is not in the same class as the true mega ships like RCI’s Allure of the Seas (5,494 passengers!).

This looks to be a fun ship for all ages, but especially for families.  LOTS to do–The SeaPlex multistory sports complex is pretty impressive, with its changeable surface, so you can ride bumper cars one night, ice skate the next and maybe even roller derby. Or–just shoot hoops.

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The second story  SeaPlex has Xbox stations, foosball tables, air hockey, pool, ping pong and lots of other games set amidst comfy chair and couches.  And, there’s a DJ!

Outside, there’s the usual RCI Rock climbing wall (which seemed a little small for this size ship),  plus 4 outdoor pools, the FlowRider Surf Simulator and something new called RipChord by iFly, which is simulated sky diving.  And of course, the North Star, the capsule that can take 14 passengers up for a 360 view of the ship and sea.

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Here’s one of the pools:

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The main theater is running ‘We Will Rock You”, but there is also something called Music Hall that features live music, and also Two70, a multistory area that features comfy seating while watching Cirque Du Soleil-type aerial  shows (and an ice bar!), all complimentary.  Below is a not-very-good pic of Two70–

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Transformative Venues

There are over 20 restaurants, several are complimentary and the others are specialty that require an upcharge, like the Chef’s Table and Wonderland.  There is NO main dining room on this ship–Royal Caribbean has instead provided 4 smaller dining venues that have different themes to replace the one main dining room.  It’s nice to have additional choices that are still comp.  here are some dining room pics:

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And the Vintages Wine Bar:IMG_3474

Here is a  pic of Wonderland, a new specialty restaurant with an Alice in Wonderland theme:

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There is also the passenger favorite Bionic Bar, where you order on an iPad and two robots mix your drinks (but deliver in paper cups, bummer).IMG_3490IMG_3491

We toured several staterooms but very quickly, as paying passengers were actually embarking to go on a 10 day Caribbean cruise.  This ship has several Loft Suite categories, and they are stunning:

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A regular Veranda Stateroom looks like this:

And here is a peek at one of their interior staterooms with a “virtual” balcony (which is a live webcam shot  from outside the ship).  Nice techno innovation.  Really looks like a window!IMG_3413

There is a large spa onboard, fitness center, casino and some upscale shops including Coach and Tiffany.   And of course, there are plenty of kid clubs (organized by age) to keep your children busy, including a roomy Teen Club.

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The Anthem sails to Bermuda all summer long, and you can park your car right at the Cape Liberty terminal and get right onboard.   It’s a great option for multi-generational family trips  and people who like to have a lot of activity options.  You can do do as much–or as little–as you like.  No dounbt all those loyal RCI passengers will love this new baby!

 

Long Layover at Heathrow? Here’s an idea….

Africa2015 593Recently I had a 7 hour layover in Heathrow…..ugh…..what to do?   With the dollar still relatively weak against the pound, shopping for hours on end, even duty-free,  was out of the question.  So, I decided to get out of the airport and into the English countryside, for a visit to the town of Windsor and Windsor Castle.  Great move.

I enlisted the help of Luxury Vacations UK, a Virtuoso supplier, and I was met by my own car and driver at LHR and whisked away.  Windsor is a quaint little town about 25 minutes away from LHR that you can easily walk about, and Eton is also not that far away.  My Blue Badge guide John was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Windsor and of course Windsor Castle.  The Queen was actually in residence while I was there, and her car was parked under a car port, evidently near her personal apartments.  All info courtesy of Mr. John.

Windsor Castle is the official residence of The Queen of England, and the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world!  No, the Queen does not live in Buckingham Palace, that’s her workplace; it  is commonly referred to by the British royal family as “The Office”.  Windsor Castle is home.  It was built in the 11th century after the Norman Conquest and still looks rock solid.

The Castle is quite large and you need at least 2 hours to visit.  You can just walk the grounds, or also go inside and tour the State Apartments, which I did.  These are incredibly lavish and formal rooms that are still used for state functions and dinners.  For me, the most fascinating thing on view is Queen Mary’s dollhouse, built in the 1920’s.  It’s big, occupying half a room, and remarkable in its detail and finishing.  Everything in it is a copy of the real thing, and it has operating elevators and fully functional lighting and plumbing.  It took 1,500 craftsmen over 3 years to build.   Well-known writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote special miniature books that were specially bound for the dollhouse library, and famous painters painted miniatures for its walls.  There are even real gem replicas of the Crown Jewels in a strong room.

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The Castle is known for its collection of armor, and they have quite a collection of items such as various weapons and revolvers from the Battle of Waterloo.  They even have the bullet that killed Lord Nelson on display, as well as uniforms of Napoleon Bonaparte.

St. George’s Chapel is also on the premises, which is considered one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Great Britain.  At least 10 monarchs are buried there, including that lecher Henry VIII.

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And of course, there’s a super gift shop on premises as well.

My guide John and I took some time in the village of Windsor to have a cup of tea and some scones with clotted cream before we headed back to Heathrow and Terminal 5.

If visiting the castle isn’t your thing, I can also recommend a luxurious hotel and spa that is nearby, where you can have a nice lunch,  a massage or a lovely afternoon tea before heading  back to the airport.  Why waste all your time in the airport when you can get some fresh air, exercise and awesome sightseeing in between flights?

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NEW–CRYSTAL RIVER CRUISES!

The award-winning Crystal Cruise line is expanding into the hot river cruise market!

The Crystal Mozart, the first of 5 cutting-edge brand new builds, will debut in July 2016 with a 10 day itinerary on the Danube.  The other ships, all names after classical music composers, will arrive in 2017.

This can be a game changer for the river cruise industry.  Crystal knows how to do luxury, and they are already a very well-known entity.  I think they can really raise the bar in this market segment.

Their river cruise ships  will be all-inclusive and will  offer all-suite accommodations  with butler service for every category–a very nice touch.  They will also offer complimentary eBikes ashore, unique shore excursions and more overnights in port.

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Crystal River Cruises

  • Exceptionally designed all-suite butler-serviced river yachts accommodating either 84, 110 or 160 discerning guests, depending on ship and waterway selected, with some of the largest suites of any river vessels
  • Extraordinary personal attention and service with the highest staff-to-guest ratio in all of European river cruising
  • Crystal’s signature cuisine prepared by European sourced and trained chefs, served in multiple, open-seating venues
  • TechnoGym-equipped fitness centers, dedicated yoga areas and massage services
  • The most generous roster of all-inclusive amenities among all river cruise lines including:
    • Gratuities for all shipboard staff throughout the River Yachts
    • All meals included, featuring Crystal’s innovative and acclaimed six-star cuisine, highlighted by regional specialties
    • Unlimited bottled water and premium beverages including champagne, fine wine and spirits throughout the River Yachts
    • All soft drinks, beer and bottled water in-suite
    • 24-hour self-service pantry featuring specialty coffees, teas, wines and nonalcoholic beverages
    • 24-hour room service
    • 24-hour Wi-Fi access with complimentary Internet of 60 minutes per person, per day
    • State-of-the-art interactive TV system including in-suite movies on demand and extensive music library(via satellite)
    • Onboard entertainment and enrichment programs
    • Daily yoga and fitness classes
    • Daily choice of electronic international newspapers
    • Self-service guest laundry
    • Choice of complimentary curated Crystal Adventures® shore excursions in every port
    • Complimentary culinary experience at highly renowned local establishments
    • Complimentary airport transfers to/from river yacht to airport

Aboard the first river-yacht vessel, Crystal Mozart, your all-inclusive cruise-only fares begin at just $3,435 per person for a 10-day round-trip Vienna sailing.   CALL US IF INTERESTED!! Crystal_River_Cruises_Yacht_(ArtistConcept)