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North America

North America

10 reasons to visit Toronto this Spring

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TorontoToronto is the perfect destination for urban adventurers this spring. Whether hiking through Toronto’s best scenic trails or lively shopping districts, this year-round city rings in the season with heart-warming festivals, captivating cultural events and fun attractions. Come and see for yourself why Toronto is a celebrated cultural and entertainment capital of Canada.

1. This year Toronto’s Canada Blooms (17th-21st March 2010) theme is “Passions” and honours the energy, innovation and passion for excellence of Canada’s landscape and floral industry. In 2010 visitors can explore over 20 new display gardens presented by premier landscape designers and architects as well as browse the new Garden Travel Section featuring countries that include Ireland, Spain, Czech Republic and many Caribbean Destinations.

2. Celebrate Victoria Day weekend (22nd-24th May 2010) at Ontario Place with its annual fireworks on the waterfront. The Festival of Fire is back with world-class fireworks choreographed to the world’s finest music over 3 nights on July 1, 3 and 10. Additional entertainment surrounds each day, with entertainers performing throughout the park leading up to the fireworks. The shows start at 10:30pm, each night. Dates are subject to change.

3. Located adjacent from The Fifth Social Club, Toronto’s most renowned nightclub Cabin 5 has become one of Toronto’s newest hot-spots with its instant success upon its launch in September 2009. With part Aspen chic and part settler’s cabin decor, Cabin 5 promotes a feeling of welcome and good times. Furnished with pine antiques, an old harvest wagon, Hudson Bay blankets and two fireplaces, the room offers a separate entrance, coat check, and washroom facilities. Cabin 5 has proven to be great for an evening out or to host a fun-filled party or event.

4. Located directly across the street from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, The Loose Moose Tap & Grill ® is one of Toronto’s most recognizable bars with a two decade-long legacy. Recently, the beloved restaurant has undergone significant changes in the kitchen, starting with a new chef, Cary Bynoe. Bynoe leads the culinary team at The Loose Moose and is responsible for an entirely new menu. With its close proximity to the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre, The Loose Moose is the ideal spot to enjoy a burger and a pint before or after the game or concert.

5. Look, Listen, Touch and Learn at Niagara Fall’s Bird Kingdom‘s newly expanded Reptile Encounter Zone. Marvel at the historic area photos from a by-gone era in the new “Niagara Room.” Check out the amazing birds, reptiles and more on opening day, 1st March 2010.

6. This spring, Harry Potter fans will have the chance to step inside the famous wizard’s magical world when Harry Potter: The Exhibition opens at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto on April 9, 2010, its first venue outside the United States. The 14,000 square-foot exhibition offers fans a firsthand view of authentic artefacts displayed in detailed settings inspired by the film sets, including the Great Hall, Hagrid’s hut, the Gryffindor™ common room, and more.

7. The award-winning Tundra Trek, an awesome Arctic experience, home to polar bears, Arctic wolves, Arctic foxes, snowy owls, reindeer and lesser snow geese, is now open at the Toronto Zoo. Special features are the spacious new polar bear exhibit; the Wolf Bridge; the Goose Camp, depicting the contributions of native Canadians; the new Caribou Restaurant; Plexiglas Arctic fox burrows that kids can clamber through; a whale skeleton; bush plane; and state-of-the-art audio components that deliver realistic animal sounds. Tundra Trek conveys the impact of climate change and global warming. Construction on this new exhibit, valued at $13.5 million, began in August of 2007 and completed in August 2009.

8. This spring the Martin Goodman Trail gets a breath of fresh air as the 56-kilometre-long waterfront recreation trail sees the addition of new wave decks. The Martin Goodman Trail traverses a multitude of environments, all highly developed. Its western end starts just west of the Humber River at the Palace Pier condominium complex. Undulating ribbons of wood designed to resemble the water’s own waves, these architectural wonders are worth the walk.

9. Intrepid Urban Adventures has arrived in Toronto! Tour Guys has partnered with Intrepid Travel to be the exclusive provider of their Toronto Urban Adventures – unique walking tours and city experiences that range in duration from 2 hours to a full day. Toronto is now part of a rapidly expanding global network of cities that offer Urban Adventures to travellers and locals who want to get off the beaten track. Check out popular tours such as “Beer Makes History Better” and “Multicultural Kensington Market & Chinatown”.

10. Toronto’s most unique and classic charter boat has had a face lift! The New Beginnings which has operated on Toronto’s waterfront for decades has undergone major restoration in 2009/10 to restore its shine, brilliance and comfort. This beautiful teak and mahogany power yacht is perfect for birthday parties, weddings, corporate events or simply a cold drink out on the water! The “New Bee” has Available for hourly or daily charter, May-October. See www.harbourtourstoronto.ca for further info.

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North America

Family fun with Barceló Hotels & Resorts

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Barceló for familiesLeading all-inclusive hotelier Barceló Hotels & Resorts has  debuted its first all-deluxe family rooms resort, Barceló Bavaro Family Deluxe in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Part of the four-in-one Barceló Bavaro Beach Resort complex, this truly family-friendly hotel offers 180 deluxe family rooms, all situated along the resort’s 2.5 miles of white sand and tranquil waters, which are protected by a coral reef and serve as a safe, natural swimming pool.

Each deluxe family room offers separate spaces for parents and kids, ensuring both privacy and security for families gathering together under one roof. And just steps outside the front door, families will find a wealth of all-included activities, such as tennis, kayaking, mini golf and swimming, plus an adult-supervised Barcy Kids’ Club and live nightly entertainment. Best of all, thirteen restaurants span the entire complex, each offering an exclusive menu just for kids.

Family suites are also available at the Barceló Maya Palace Deluxe in Riviera Maya, Mexico, as well as the all-new Barceló Los Cabos Palace Deluxe on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Each five-star property features the hotelier’s signature Barcy Kids Club, offering a variety of programming for kids ages 4 to 12, as well as a children-only water park, complete with pool animation, volleyball nets and water cannons. Babysitters are also available upon request.

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North America

Fitzpatrick Hotels Offer Package inspired by Irish History in NYC

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Fitzpatrick ManhattanThe Fitzpatrick Hotel Group – the first Irish-owned hotel company to operate in the US – has introduced the “Visit Ireland in New York” package, giving visitors the chance to experience the extraordinary personal service, warmth and hospitality of its two luxury hotels, the Fitzpatrick Manhattan and the Fitzpatrick Grand Central, while learning about the deep bonds between New York and Ireland. Along with two nights deluxe accommodations for two at either the Fitzpatrick Manhattan or the Fitzpatrick Grand Central, this package offers a glimpse of Irish immigrant life with tickets to the New York City Tenement Museum and a reminder of the lives lost during the Great Irish famine with a visit to the Irish Hunger Memorial. Guests can also enjoy a lunch or dinner from the “Irish Classics” menu at either The Wheeltapper at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central or The Fitz at the Fitzpatrick Manhattan. Plus, each morning visitors can start their day with Executive Chef James Donahue’s celebrated Irish breakfast. The Fitzpatrick Manhattan, located at 687 Lexington Avenue and offering 91 rooms and suites, blends intimacy and luxury with a refreshingly classic atmosphere in the heart of midtown. The Fitzpatrick Grand Central, located just 12 blocks away at 141 East 44th Street, with its 155 rooms and suites, provides an elegant atmosphere perfect for a business trip or a family vacation in New York City. The Visit Ireland in New York package is available from now until 4th September 2010.

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North America

Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

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AriaAria, the luxury hotel and casino in Las Vegas infuses guestroom corridors with natural light and provides each of the over 4,000 guest rooms – including the 568 suites, of course – with floor-to-ceiling windows offering stellar views of the local skyline or surrounding mountains. The most advanced guestroom technology allows you to personalize the lighting, temperature, and music to your taste. At the end of your evening, bedside technology will allow you to close the blinds, draw the drapes, dim the lights and power down your flat-screen television without having to leave the comfort of the luxurious custom bed linens.

Should you wish a bit of privacy, accommodation in one of the Aria Sky Suites includes a private alternative-fuel limousine from the airport to a private lobby for your check in and registration. After an arrival drink and hors d’oeuvres, take a private elevator to your one of a kind accommodation.

To beat the Las Vegas sun, umbrellas are set up throughout the pool deck for shade, but for the ultimate, request one of Aria’s lavish cabanas, complete with attentive service and exclusivity. Guests lounging poolside can opt for al fresco dining from the and Breeze Café and Pool Bar’s extensive and innovative menu.

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North America

Shark reported in New York Harbour

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The SharkA gleaming monster is cruising the waters of New York Harbour. Each day, the great white (and blue and green) Shark carries off hordes of giddy, screaming people, young and old. Lurking in plain sight, the Shark is capable of bringing grown men to tears – tears of laughter that is.

Step aboard the Shark Speedboat and take a tour with teeth! The 30-minute thrill ride speeds around the horn of southern Manhattan giving riders a rush of wind and splashing water.

Passengers breeze by The Statue of Liberty, stop for a photo opp and zip by again to catch once-in-a-lifetime views of famed landmarks including the historic Battery Park, the World Financial Center and Ellis Island, the gateway to America for millions of immigrants.

The splashy tour features music and fun for up to 135 passengers. Student and corporate groups welcome.

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North America

Open for Winter Games: The Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport

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Westin Wall CentreThe Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport, a sophisticated, new-build hotel in Richmond, B.C. is now open. Ideally situated less than 4 km from Vancouver International Airport, it is also within a five minute walk of the Yaohan Centre and a 20 minute Skytrain ride to downtown Vancouver. Minutes from downtown Richmond, the new hotel also offers easy access to the Aberdeen Centre, River Rock Casino and Royal Canadian College as well as the nearby Richmond Olympic Oval.

Its 176 guest rooms and eight unique suites all feature the iconic Westin Heavenly Bed and a 32 inch High Definition flatscreen TV. In addition, in-room, high-speed Internet access, dual line cordless telephones and an ergonomic work space offer business travellers convenience and productivity in an ultra-comfortable setting.

Additional amenities include an indoor heated pool, 24-hour business centre, a gym, valet parking and The Apron, offering guests contemporary Pacific Northwest cuisine in the dining room or intimate lounge.

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North America

Now open: Bar Boulud, London at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

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Bar BouludChef Daniel Boulud’s first UK restaurant,  Bar Boulud, London opened its doors last week at  Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This widely anticipated, French-inspired, bistro and wine bar is directly accessible from Knightsbridge and will follow the successful format of  Bar Boulud in New York which has achieved significant acclaim.

The  Adam D. Tihany designed interior seats 169 in two large connecting rooms, the first with an impressive zinc topped bar and the second with a sleek open kitchen. Classic materials such as wood, leather and cork add a contemporary touch and an aesthetic inspired by the craft of wine making, including walled wine stains from Chef Boulud’s favourite vintages and photography of various renowned Lyon bistros and brasseries. Guests can also watch the chefs at work at the charcuterie bar running along the edge of the open kitchen or dine in one of the two interconnecting private dining rooms, both seating 16 people each.

A full bistro menu is based on seasonal, rustic French cooking and includes signatures dishes such as Truffled White Sausage, Grilled Atlantic Sea Bass, Braised Rabbit Ragout and Coq au Vin as well as a selection of terrines and pâtés made on site under the direction of acclaimed charcutier Gilles Verot. With a focus on Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, an impressive selection of wines, by the glass and by the bottle, and occasionally from Magnums, Jeroboams and Rehoboams, feature old world wines as well as new world selections made in the Rhône or Burgundy spirit. A selection of beers is also available on draft from small, artisanal producers and continental microbreweries with specially designed glassware for tasting portions.

Trained in France by legendary chefs Roger Vergé, Georges Blanc and Michel Guérard, Boulud opened his first restaurant Daniel in New York in 1993, which last year received the prestigious Three Michelin Star status. Daniel was shortly followed by Café Boulud, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne and, most recently, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, on the Bowery. His culinary roots can be traced back to his family farm near Lyon, France where he developed a love of home cooking using fresh seasonal produce. Appointing Dean Yasharian from Bar Boulud in New York as Executive Chef and Stephen Macintosh from The Wolseley as General Manager, Bar Boulud, London is set to follow in the successful spirit of Boulud’s superb New York restaurants, becoming the latest jewel in London’s culinary crown.

Bar Boulud, London will open from 6.30am to 1am daily.

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North America

Historic resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia

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The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort has been a premier destination for travellers seeking luxury and relaxation for over 75 years. On the National Register of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America, this Georgia resort is steeped in history and southern charm. And, as one of the only oceanfront properties on St. Simons Island, one of Georgia’s fabled Golden Isles, the resort offers beautiful views and proximity to many island activities.

Visitors to the resort can relax by one of several pools overlooking the ocean, get a massage in the Royal Treatment Cottage, an intimate retreat just steps from the ocean, or play a round of golf on the Resort’s award-winning course. Enjoy all the adventures that St. Simons Island has to offer from fishing and kayaking around the island or a dolphin sightseeing tour.   On land, explore the island’s historic plantations, churches or lighthouse, or shop in one of the islands many boutiques.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, its rich southern heritage continues to draw guests wowed by the luxurious accommodations, beautiful vistas and gourmet dining.

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North America

Where to eat during the Canadian Grand Prix

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f1With the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal just around the corner (11th-13th June 2010), we thought we’d tip you off on some of the best places to eat whilst you’re there.  Just make sure you book well in advance!

Le Castillon

The terrace at Le Castillon restaurant delivers all the romance promised by its name. Located on the roof of the Bonaventure Hotel, it is surrounded by lush plants, flowers and majestic trees. It features a waterfall pouring into a pool stocked with several species of fish. The terrace is open to the public only in the morning and at noon.
Hilton Hotel Bonaventure

Le Pois Penche

In a decor that recalls Parisien brasseries of the 1940s, the terrace of Le Pois Penche opens onto De Maisonneuve Boulevard thanks to its central alley. The terrace is not covered and can seat up to 70. The same menu is served on the terrace as in the indoor dining room.
1230 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West

Club Chasse et Peche

The terrace at Club Chasse et Peche is located in the courtyard behind Chateau Ramezay. The terrace which has an awning opens onto a historic fruit and flower garden. Note that they are only open for lunch.
280 Notre Dame Street West

KOKO

In a modern contemporary decor, the terrace at Koko restaurant can seat up to 100 people or accommodate 350 standing. Comfortable sofa’s offer a relaxing place to enjoy drinks in the sunshine or in the shade of a partial cover. The terrace which is open both day and night is surrounded by walls that create a feeling of intimacy. In the evening the space is lit by lanterns.
10 Sherbrooke Street West

Jardin Nelson

The terrace of the Nelson garden is 85% covered and has 50 heaters, which means you can eat outdoors comfortably in any weather. Luxurious vegetation and a brick wall soften the decor as do many small lights that light up the terrace in the evening. Live jazz and pop bands provides entertainment every day. The restaurant only accepts reservations from groups of 20 or less.
407 Place Jacques Cartier

L’autre version

Located in an inner courtyard lined with brick walls, the terrace at L’autre version can hold up to 70 people. A lounge space furnished with sofas is available for cocktail service. Customers on the terrace are offered an exclusive tapas menu.
295 Saint Paul Street East

La Gargote

The terrace at La Gargote restaurant, located in Place D’Youville in the heart of old montreal , is surrounded by a lattice wall which creates an intimate feeling. Measuring 400 square feet, the space can accomodate 35 people. Parasols provide shade on hot days.
351 d’Youville Square

Bistro Vu

Bristo Vu , located in the Old Port of Montreal, has three levels of terrace with a retractable roof. The upper level terrace decorated in lounge style offers an unbeatable view of the fireworks competitions in the summer. This section of the restaurant can accomodate between 100 – 200 people and serves a tapas menu. Two lower terrace levels with a capacity of 100 , serve full menu mediterranean style cuisine.
550 de La Commune East

Verses Sky

Located on the rooftop of the Nelligan hotel, the Verses Sky terrace offers a great view of the St. Lawrence River and the historic buildings of Old Montreal. The treated wood flooring, the colourful plants and flower bouquets offer an undeniable cachet to the place. With the new addition of a retractable roof, the terrace can accommodate up to 80 people. A special menu designed especially for diners on the terrace is offered up until 22.00, although the bar serves drinks till midnight every night. Reservations are taken for groups of 10 or more.
100 Saint Paul Street West

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North America

Interview with Drew Patterson of Jetsetter

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Drew PattersonA true travel connoisseur, CEO and Founder Drew Patterson brings more than a decade of experience to Jetsetter, the private sales site that helps leisure travellers discover and purchase some of the world’s best vacations.

An industry pioneer, Patterson was part of the founding team at Kayak.com where, during his five-year tenure as Vice President of Marketing, he played an integral role in reshaping the online travel landscape by evolving the distribution model and initializing the concept of “search”.  Prior to that, Patterson cut his teeth as Director of Distribution and Revenue Management at Starwood Hotels, where he forged new distribution channels with online travel agents, including Expedia and Travelocity.

Patterson received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University before earning his Masters in Business from Columbia Business School.  He resides in New York City.

What is it that  you do exactly?

No two days are the same for me. I might start the day building partnerships with suppliers on the inventory side or marketing partners that might get Jetsetter in front of new customers on the audience side. Then, I might have a meeting with our engineering team to talk about new functionality or the marketing team to talk about new products. Jetsetter is growing fast, so I spend a lot of time these days reviewing resumes. In my downtime, I surf the web to see what competitors are doing, what the media is saying about the travel space, and what consumers are talking about in Twitter or Facebook. Finally, I pour over the numbers, making sure the business is on track to beat expectations and communicate progress to our investors.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I really love working with the team I’ve built here at Jetsetter. We have a really smart, experienced, hard working team. But, I also look for people with personality and we spend a lot of time laughing which is what makes me excited to go to work each day.

What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?

Casas Brancas, Búzios, Brazil: There is just something magical about Buzios which is a very relaxed and charming destination. Casas Brancas is more than just a beautiful boutique hotel. The people who run the hotel are incredibly warm and hospitable.

The Hotel Gritti Palace encompasses charm and history along the Grand Canal in Venice. I was traveling with a group of friends for art opening and the stars just aligned to create a memorable vacation: great friends, fantastic dinners, spectacular art, no crowds. Perfetto!

After several weeks traveling through India, The Westin Singapore was exactly what the doctor ordered. I can still remember how good it felt to take a hot shower; sleep in a big, comfy bed; and eat a Western-style breakfast.

What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?

My brother’s friend interned at Per Se, arguably the best restaurant in the US. As a thank you from the restaurant, he was invited to bring friends for a complimentary dinner. This was more than a dinner, it was a six-hour tour through the most amazing ingredients and flavors I’ve ever experienced or will ever experience. In addition to the usual tasting menu, the kitchen prepared about 18 other courses. Food was ethereal. Service unimaginable.

Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?

I am not the guy who notices celebrities. But, I was in LA and checked into celeb magnet Chateau Marmont alongside Jarvier Bardem (before he started dating Penelope Cruz unfortunately). We went to dinner at Nobu that night and were seated next to Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.

What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?

I would like to go to Alaska before it melts.

Thank you, Drew.  That’s been a great insight. And even if you read the most pessimistic reports, I think you’ll find you’ve still got ample time to ‘see Alaska before it melts’.  Afterall, it is home to more than half the world’s glaciers.

If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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