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Showing posts from September, 2018

Unique islands around the world

Unique islands around the world By Damien Martin
      Not every island is a sand-and-sun beach destination where you go to crack open a good book, sip a tropical drink and forget about the worries of home for a few days. Some are full of wildlife and culture and things you can’t find anywhere else. Maybe they’re a little bit out there. Maybe they’re cold or the beaches aren’t anything to write home about. But they’re worth exploring. This week, we visit a few of them.

     The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar lies east of Mozambique and is home to 5 percent of the world’s wildlife and vegetation. While the beaches are great, there is a diversity of terrain from rain forest to desert, and much of the flora and fauna are unique to the island. Of the more than 200 bird species, about half are found only on Madagascar, which has almost 20,000 plant species, including seven types of baobab tree. Lemurs leap from tree to tree, while chameleons cling to the branches, makin…

Top fall foliage trips in the U.S.

Top fall foliage trips in the U.S. By Damien Martin
     It’s been in the air -- and in your Facebook timeline with all the posts about pumpkin spice -- for weeks. But with the equinox coming Saturday, it will be official: It’s autumn. Soon, fall foliage will abound. Here are some of the best places in the country to go leafing.
New England & Canada
     This is a classic, from Maine’s Acadia National Park to the Green Mountains of Vermont. Instead of sharing the highways with the thousands of others who had the same idea, consider a fall foliage cruise. You’ll visit ports such as Bar Harbor, Halifax and Quebec City without having to fight traffic every step of the way and repacking every day, all the while being delivered into the heart of colorful, charming, picture-perfect towns.

The Ozarks
      The colors come in toward the end of September and beginning of October, starting with blackgum and sweetgum trees, casting reds, yellows, purples and oranges. The peak of the season occ…

Destination spotlight: Seattle

Destination spotlight: Seattle By Damien Martin
     Yes, there are days when it rains and rains and makes you think it will never stop raining. But there are also days when the sun shines over the skyline and the sound and the wooded islands in the distance and it makes Seattle look like heaven on earth. On those days, you understand why the locals put up with all those drab winter days when the clouds threaten to suffocate every happy thought.

     Stroll up to Kerry Park in Upper Queen Anne, just a sliver of green in the Emerald City, and take in the panorama as bustling downtown gives way to Puget Sound and ancient forests. Watch as ferries take passengers to idyllic islands within clear view but a world away from the urban core. Make a picnic out of the many culinary treasures you'll find in Pike Place Market and soak it all in. You'll understand why it's one of America's fastest growing metropolises, why people brave those rainy months with coffee and flannel, bidi…

Labor Day salute to unique concierges

Labor Day salute to unique concierges By Damien Martin
      This week we celebrate Labor Day, a reprieve from the daily grind a recognition of how hard we work day-in and day-out. In the hospitality industry, there are a lot of people working nights and weekends to serve us travelers while we enjoy a break. They take care of the little touches so we don’t have to worry about a thing. This week, we look at some of the unique services provided by the hotel staffs across the Virtuoso network.

Soap concierge, Viceroy Riviera Maya
     While the resort has a signature coco copal scent, the soap concierge greets guests upon arrival with a sampling of artisanal soaps and helps them select a signature scent of their own. The soaps are handmade locally and showcase the area’s natural aromas. Scents rotate seasonally, which helps guests connect with their surroundings in a specific place and time.

Gaucho concierge, The Vines Resort & Spa
      Wine is a huge attraction at this resort in Argen…