November 28th, 2013
The Orlando airport is one of the busiest in the world and guess what: Not everyone is heading to the theme parks. So what unique experiences are in-the-know travelers going for? Here’s the inside scoop.
the culture lover
As home to Rollins, one of the United States’ top regional colleges, Orlando’s upscale Winter Park district offers plenty of culture. The hands down must-see is the Morse Museum, home to the most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world.
the food fanatic
To please a refined palate, a reservation at Luma, in Winter Park (pictured), won’t disappoint: A menu featuring locally sourced ingredients that changes daily guarantees an inspired, memorable meal. Street food lovers will be well served at Hawker’s, a bustling spot in downtown Orlando that specializes in Asian fare. (We’re still dreaming about the curry sauce served with the Malaysian flatbreads). And the buzz-iest opening on the Orlando foodie scene is East End Market, which has brought the area’s top artisan food producers and farmers under one roof.
the thrill seeker
For an adrenaline rush, look beyond the obvious roller coasters: Think space shuttle liftoff simulation at the Kennedy Space Center, where you can also get up-close-and-personal with Space Shuttle Atlantis, or a few exhilarating laps on a race track with the Richard Petty Driving Experience. And for the ultimate hair-raising Florida experience? Boggy Creek’s hour-long airboat ride… at night. If hundreds of gator eyes peering at you doesn’t get your heart racing, we don’t know what will.
all of the above
Tick everything off your wish list in one fabulous hotel stay – yes, really! The newly opened Alfond Inn (from $169) is decorated with modern art supplied by students and alumni of Rollins College, is home to Hamilton’s Kitchen (acclaimed chef Christopher Windus is at the helm) and is a stone’s throw from Winter Park’s historic channels – perfect for paddleboard exploration with Paddleboard Orlando. The cherry on top? The Alfond Inn is owned by Rollins and profits go directly to funding scholarships for top students.
Who needs theme parks, anyway? —Christine Laroche
November 28th, 2013
The birthplace of Canada’s national park system is the place for a luxury winter getaway with world-renowned skiing, grand hotels, award-winning spas and decadent cuisine.
This one’s easy. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the place to stay when you stop into town —just ask past royalty and celebrity guests (including Marilyn Monroe!). The hotel is stunning, with an abundance of dining options, an award-winning spa, indoor/outdoor pools and a bowling alley (a hidden gem). From $340/night, www.fairmont.com/banff-springs
Find your way to the town’s ski hills including Sunshine Village, with the areas longest ski season and Canada’s highest altitude, family-friendly Mount Norquay and the Canadian Rockies’ largest hill, the Lake Louise Ski Area just 40 minutes down the road. Also on offer: tubing, snowshoeing and, our favourite part, the best après’ around. www.skibanff.com
There's lots of European-inspired cuisine in Banff but our favourite is Swiss-Italian style, Ticino Restaurant. A local favourite for almost 40 years and the fondue is hard to beat. We go all out with the Swiss cheese fondue ($36/for two), followed by the Fonduta Mar-E-Mont with Alberta beef and shrimp ($28.50 per person) and finish the feast with the traditional Swiss chocolate fondue ($9.50 per person). www.ticinorestaurant.com
The Red Earth Spa in Banff Caribou Lodge provides a huge variety of healing treatments. We like the organic body treatments that soothes our whole body and face with a scrub, wrap, massage and mini-facial, all while under a Vichy Hydrotherapy Shower (from $149). www.bestofbanff.com/redearthspa
November 21st, 2013
When rest, relaxation and renewal is in order, there's no better place than Arizona.
Listing the amenities of The Phoenician would take a long time (we would start with its nine swimming pools, three golf courses, and amazing spa) so trust us when we say it is a great place to stay. At the foot of Camelback mountain, this resort boasts an abundance of great dining, spacious rooms or suites, and stunning desert views. Try a morning hike (see below) or a yoga walk of the property, with breaks for downward dogs. And if you aren't into golf, tennis, hiking, or spa-ing, then their top notch poolside service will ensure you are cocktail-hydrated and comfortable in the shade, or sun, all day. The Phoenician, 6000 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona, 480-941-8200, www.thephoenician.com
Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden has one of the largest collections of desert plants, featuring over 50,000 species. The options are endless in this beautiful space: enjoy a tour of the gardens, book a healthy cooking class (we loved ours with Rachel Albert, see more below), learn some gardening tips from an expert, visit the butterfly pavilion, watch a concert, practice sundown yoga in the wildflower atrium, or attend one of their luminaries events, where you can stroll around the candlelight gardens with a drink. From November 10 to May 18, there is a Chihuly exhibition, where you’ll be able to check out his spectacular glass sculptures amongst ancient cacti. These gardens are a must-see while in Arizona. Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, Arizona, 480-941-1225, www.dbg.org
The Gladly is a new restaurant that specializes in a mix of comfort food, southern favourites and modern cuisine. We loved the grilled Brussels sprouts served over corn grits, and their coffee charred short ribs come highly recommended. They also boast a fantastic cocktail list featuring new takes on the classics, and an enormous whiskey menu that you can drink served over a purified ice ball that they will prepare for you at the table. Mains start at $20. The Gladly, 2201 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona, 602-759-8132, www.thegladly.com
The perfect early morning or evening workout, Camelback mountain features a 1.5 mile hike up the side of the mountain. Access the Cholla trail via Cholla lane and pack lots of water. Don’t try this midday, the heat is unbearable. The locals call this a difficult hike, but if you're a grouse grinder, you’ll breeze through in 70 minutes return. www.phoenix.gov
Head out towards Mesa and Gilbert are suburbs of Phoenix is located a 20 drive from Phoenix. Try a paddle board lesson with No Snow Stand Up Paddle at Saguaro Lake (yes, there are lakes in Arizona), have lunch at the trendy Joyride Taco, buy some chocolate flavoured olive oil or handmade, natural beauty products from the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and finish with an award-winning cupcake at The Coffee Shop at Agritopia (pictured), an urban farm oasis where people live in beautiful homes between vegetable fields, orchards, and a 24 hour honour-system farmers market (sigh).
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
November 14th, 2013
No, it's not always sunny in Philadelphia – but you'll have so much fun, it'll seem like it was. Here are some top picks from our latest sojourn.
We adored our visit to the swanky Rittenhouse Hotel, whose doormen and bellhops are as friendly and helpful as they come. Be sure to make time for a drink in the cozy, hidden-away Library Bar, or afternoon tea – complete with tiny sandwiches, scones and clotted cream – in the back courtyard. Rooms from $390/night, www.rittenhousehotel.com
Talula's Garden is a feast for the senses even before you get to the food and drink. If it's warm enough, request a seat on the gorgeous side patio and bask in the glow of thousands of fairy lights as you feast on the fresh, plant-centric cuisine. Save room for a cheese plate and perhaps a butterscotch pudding, served with English toffee on the side. 201 W. Washington Sq., Philadelphia, http://talulasgarden.com
Brand-new a.bar is attached to the luxury AKA residences (they don't like to call it a hotel) and serves up wines and cocktails to match the sexiness of the decor. Grab a seat at the bar to keep an eye on the fun, friendly bartenders as they go about their work.135 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, www.stayaka.com
Philly has more public art than any other city in the country, lending itself to plenty of options for art tours as well as DIY explorations to see what you can find. Mosaic and mural lovers will want to head to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens to view the works of famed mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, which are also distributed around the city; other crowd-pleasers include Rodin's The Thinker at the Rodin Museum and the statue of Rocky in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Our favourite random discovery was Jim Sanborn's Ars Medendi, which cast the words of some of history's most famous medical researchers – Pavlov and Galen among them – across the surrounding ground and buildings.
November 14th, 2013
No kids, no TVs, no phones.
If this sounds like your idea of heaven, it's paradise found at Sparrows Hotel, a former motor court that had fallen into desuetude and has just been brought back to life by an enterprising couple, she a former Calvin Klein model (that's her Brigitte Bardot likeness you see mounted in the bar) and he a rakish entrepreneur who built the outdoor furniture and did the stone work by hand.
This being their second hotel project in Palm Springs (they were drawn back to the desert from their horse ranch in Portugal), the pair have created a unique, and rough-hewn boutique hotel in the early modernist style — think Georgia O'Keeffe and Frank Lloyd Wright, not Mad Men. With olive trees, citrus, a vegetable garden and a horse shoe pitch, there's a communal feeling to the property. Rooms have private courtyards inside, but the benches around the property and in the central barn beckon for book reading and making new friends. And if that new friend happens to be Cameron Diaz, so much the better. —Sarah Bancroft
From $175 per night, Sparrows Hotel, 1330 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, 760-327-2300, www.sparrowshotel.com
October 24th, 2013
Business travel has its challenges: red eyes, missed connections, pretzel dinners—and that’s before we even get to the airport.
Since we know Donald Trump is all business (and in anticipation of the 2016 opening of Vancouver’s Trump Tower) we spent a few nights at Toronto’s Trump International Hotel and Tower. Here are 5 things that made our stay:
1. Flying in late on a Sunday night, our presentations for Monday’s meetings were printed (free of charge) and waiting in an envelope upon check in.
2. Our suite was so comfortable and large at 750 square feet, we hosted drinks in the plush grey-and-cream seating area (pictured), complete with European wet bar and Nespresso. In the fanciest suites (we hear) the furnishings come from Fendi.
3. Travelling with workout gear takes up precious space, but the gym arranges for sweats and shoes in your size and loans them free of charge. The infinity saltwater lap pool is highly recommended to wake you up for the day.
4. Lunch at Stock on the 31st floor was one of the most memorable we have had in Toronto’s business district in some time – very fish-forward, with excellent vegetable preparations (but also the classics like steak-frites or prawn caesar for business travel purists). Newly appointed: an in-house Master Sommelier.
5. With a 6 a.m. departure, what a relief to find a clean and warm town car at the ready (discretely arranged by the hotel after learning of my early check out).
We’ll be back!—Sarah Bancroft
Rooms from $595. Trump International Hotel and Tower, 325 Bay St., Toronto, 416-306-5800, www.trumptoronto.com
October 17th, 2013
Sexy accents and sandy beaches? We must be in Sydney, Australia.
The Sydney Opera House is the city’s most iconic building. In 2013, ballet, orchestra and opera highlights will include Puccini’s La bohème, Don Quixote, La Sylphide and Carmina Burana. After taking in a show, go downstairs to Opera Bar for champagne, oysters and views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is the place to see and be seen, and you might even rub elbows with the performers. www.sydneyoperahouse.com
Surfing on Bondi is quintessential Sydney, dude. Novice surfers can take group or private lessons from Let’s Go Surfing. It also doesn’t hurt that on weekends the beach is packed with PYTs and hard bodies. Top off your fun in the sun with a drink at any one of the charming bars lining the beach. If you’re looking for more peace and quiet, head to beautiful, family-friendly Manly beach instead. http://letsgosurfing.com.au
Billy Kwong is an intimate, jewel box restaurant on trendy Crown Street. Its take on contemporary Chinese was inspired by the idea of re-creating a traditional eating house. Sustainability, ethical eating and community are at the core of the philosophy. If this petite boîte is too busy, there are plenty of other options on restaurant row. www.kyliekwong.org
Australian skin care line Aesop is loved by international “It Girls” like Margherita Missoni, who relies on the brand for her beauty regime. Stop by the Paddington location on Oxford Street to stock up on cult favourites like the Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque. www.aesop.com
October 10th, 2013
With the lovely Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood as our base, we explored all this super hip city has to offer.
Down the street from the apartment is a friendly and affordable pizzeria, La Focacceria (Fehrbelliner Straße 23). Ask for pies to take away and sit in the Volkspark am Weinbergsweg Park just across the road.
Treat yourself to breakfast, lunch or dinner at the lovely Caffe Anna Blume (pictured). Its corner location is tops for people watching over delicious (and homemade) tarts and cakes. www.cafe-anna-blume.de
You can only visit the former Stasi Prison - the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial - by taking a guided tour, some of which are offered by former inmates (5 Euros). It’s a bit off the beaten track but well worth the effort for an eye-opening glimpse into history. http://en.stiftung-hsh.de/
Book a free tour of the Reichstag Dome (pictured) a few days in advance (remember to bring your passport) for a fantastic juxtaposition of Berlin old and new. Enjoy coffee and cake in the upstairs café or make a reservation for lunch if you have time. www.bundestag.de
In Mitte, Neue Schönhauser Straße, is a bit of a hub for high street shops, including Vitamin Daily favourite COS (pictured). From there you’re also just a stone’s throw from a covetable APC boutique at Mulackstraße 35.
Back on the main drag, The Galeries Lafayette is worth a browse, including the died-and-gone-to-heaven food hall (Friedrichstraße 76-78).
We may have blown through our savings in Berlin, but we’ll be back! —Julie Whelan
October 3rd, 2013
Few places hold the energy and magic of the Cycladic Islands. For majestic sunsets, breathtaking beaches and a whitewashed chora perched high above the Aegean, Serifos is one island not to be missed.
For simple, clean rooms steps from the beach, budget friendly Maistrali is a great option (from €45 a night). For a few extra euros, The Rizes (from €90, pictured) is popular among the jet set with its gorgeous views and minimally appointed rooms. www.hotelmaistrali.com and www.hotelrizes.gr
Along the port, you'll find plenty of tavernas serving traditional Greek food from Moussaka to Gemista to Yiouvesti. Ask about the fresh fish and don't miss out on local favourites like fennel pancakes, chickpea soup and fava bean puree. Another option is the beautiful Aloni, up in the hills, with panoramic views and made-from-scratch quintessentially Greek fare.
Rent a bike (or car) and explore the island's glorious beaches. Koutalas, Agios Sostis and Vagia are among our favourites. Some have a taverna or bar, but in most cases, you are on your own when it comes to finding shade, snacks and water. Come prepared.
Watch the sunset with an Ouzo in hand from picturesque Chora. It's a fairly steep walk up, but it's truly the most beautiful village in the Cyclades. Bring a camera for extraordinary photo moments from the monastery at the very top of the mountain.
Serifos is a 2 hour high-speed ferry ride from Piraeus.
September 26th, 2013
Does a fear of chain restaurants with cartoon mascots and screeching tour busses keep you anchored at home? Travelling with kids need not be as cheesy as a croque monsieur.
With tonnes of tips (from food to fashion) for the discerning traveller, newly launched site, Kodomo (child in Japanese) will help you plan and book a sojourn with little ones that's as stylish as you are. So whether the kids are your own, beloved nieces/nephews or younger siblings from your dad's third marriage, there is hope for enlightened family travel.
City guides include London, Rio, New York and Morocco with plenty more to come. Look out for Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto, all written by Vitamin Daily girls.
No fanny pack, no problem. —Athena Tsavliris and Maria Talalrico