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(2016 - Fall/Winter Issue)


When it comes to shopping for bargains, Florida is hard to beat. A landmark in the city of Sunrise and convenient to anyone staying in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, the Simon-operated Sawgrass Mills is known as the “largest outlet and value shopping destination in the United States.” Among the resident 350 indoor and outdoor retailers are wholesale outlets for Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, the Gap and more, as well as ongoing bargains on high fashion, electronics, jewellery, sporting equipment, beauty products and home furnishings. And the sales tax is only 6 per cent. simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

From trekking in lush mountains to scuba diving in turquoise waters, the Dominican Republic is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. The island is also famous for fresh seafood. The calm waters of the southwest are home to mackerel, mahi mahi and snapper, and don’t miss succulent local crab, shrimp served in rich coconut sauce, fried fish with fried green plantains and steaming hot boiled lobster, available all around the island. GoDominicanRepublic.com

The ancient seaport of Akko, located on Israel’s northern Mediterranean shore, has been restored as a place of beauty, history and culture. For centuries, the walled city was the main port between Europe and the Holy Land. Below the city stands the Crusader Fortress, now the site of concerts, theatrical performances and the new Knight’s Experience featuring a jousting tournament, feast and show. Stay in a 1785 Khan, once an inn for caravans that’s now a hotel. Walk along streets filled with shops and restaurants and explore the Old City, where Jews, Arabs, Muslims and Christians live and work together. akko.org.il/en/

Ottawa’s lively ByWard Market area is home to a brand new Andaz Hotel, owned by Hyatt. The modern hotel features bright, spacious rooms that overlook the market, the Parliament Buildings and the Gatineau Hills. Special touches include local artwork on the walls, complimentary Wi-Fi and a minibar with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, luxurious bed linens and unlimited local calls. Art museums, the Parliament Buildings, boutiques and restaurants are all within easy walking distance. The hotel itself boasts a farm-to-table restaurant and a rooftop bar and lounge with an outdoor terrace. ottawa.andaz.hyatt.com

New Orleans is set to host the 66th NBA All-Star game on Sunday, February 19, during Mardi Gras celebrations, at the Smoothie King Center, home of the New Orleans Pelicans. In addition to the game, the Center will host the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on February 17 and the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night February 18. The NBA All-Star Practice, NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and NBA Development League All-Star Game will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This marks the third time the Crescent City has been the site of the league’s annual mid-season celebration. allstarweekendneworleans2017.com

Canada’s favourite green thumb, Frank Ferragine, has partnered with Insight Vacations on a new 11-day tour in May 2017 with fellow Canadians to some of his favourite European cities and gardens. Stops include the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in Amsterdam (where Ferragine once bid for flowers), the gardens of Versailles, Monet’s garden in Giverny, a canal cruise in Bruges and a full day at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. insightvacations.com

Beginning November 21, Celestyal Cruises, based in Greece, will sail year-round in Cuba. Over the next year, the Celestyal Crystal will sail seven-night all-inclusive cruises that include two days in Havana and a call at Punta Frances, a lush inlet on the secluded Isle of Youth, which is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling. Passengers will also visit historic Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. The cruise will embark every Monday from Havana, and every Friday from Montego Bay, Jamaica. celestyalcruises.com

Scheduled to open in November 2016 and just 35 minutes from Los Cabos International Airport, the US$150-million Grand Velas Los Cabos luxury resort on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula goes beyond all-inclusive with five gourmet specialty restaurants, 306 oversized designer suites with private terraces and personal plunge pools, dramatic ocean views and a Leading Spa of the World with a staff ratio of 3 to 1. Located between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, Grand Velas also features a Life Fitness Center with personal trainers, exercise programs, yoga, Pilates and meditation, plus separate programs for kids and teens. grandvelas.com

Canadians heading to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, can take advantage of special savings on multi-day tickets and upgrades to Park Hopper, Water Park fun and more. Save 25 per cent on four-day or longer tickets and enjoy all four Disney theme parks. A four-day adult base ticket, regularly US$325 (plus tax), is now US$244. This offer is good until February 28, 2017, on tickets purchased in advance. To redeem, guests must present a valid Canadian passport or proof of Canadian residency. These discounted tickets won’t expire and can be used any time. Disneyworld.ca/Tickets

Hainan Airlines now offers non-stop service three times a week from Calgary to Beijing, the first direct air connection between Alberta and China. To inaugurate the route, the airline donated $37,500 to the Fort McMurray Canadian Red Cross Relief Fund. The new route is expected to benefit the Alberta economy through increased tourism. Hainan has been flying from Toronto to Beijing since 2010. hainanairlines.com

Mangos Jamaica, Jamaica’s newest boutique beach resort, offers an adults-only, all-inclusive retreat for couples looking for an authentic taste of Jamaica or a great escape for friends. The 96-room resort, located 30 minutes from Montego Bay, features spacious guest rooms arranged in low-rise wooden buildings with either a pool, beach or lush tropical garden view. Four bars serve premium brand drinks, and four restaurants offer casual or more formal dining options. After dinner, sample local rums and enjoy entertainment at the Handbags and Gladrags Piano Bar. Spa services are also available at an additional charge. mangosjamaica.com

Since the tragedy of 9/11, Lower Manhattan has been transformed into an exciting new destination. New hotels include The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, and the luxurious Four Seasons New York Downtown, featuring CUT by star chef Wolfgang Puck. The Westfield World Trade Center shopping complex has also just opened, with more stores expected by year’s end. The exciting and delicious Eataly NYC Downtown Italian marketplace is now open at 4 World Trade Center. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, housed under the Oculus by Santiago Calatrava, connects visitors seamlessly to 11 subway lines. Towering above the area is the 541-metre One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the western hemisphere and home to One World Observatory. nycgo.com

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