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TRAVEL GALLERY - WINTER 2014/2015
 
(2014 - Winter Issue)

Writer: CYNTHIA DAVID



The brand new SLS Las Vegas resort and casino is bringing a lot of excitement to the north end of the famous strip. After a US$415-million renovation of the legendary Sahara Hotel, SLS Las Vegas features more than 1,600 elegant rooms in three towers and a 5,574-square-metre casino floor featuring nearly 800 slot machines. Choose from an array of stylish restaurants, from José Andrés’ Bazaar Meat for carnivores to Mediterranean dishes, burgers, Neapolitan pizza, breakfast hotspot The Griddle Café and Japanese noodles. The resort’s spectacular nightlife includes a 1,858-square-metre mega club featuring a rooftop pool and emerging DJ talent. slsvegas.com

Charlevoix, one of Québec’s most beautiful regions, is getting a $300-million lift from a group of investors led by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Daniel Gauthier. Along with Hotel La Ferme and a tourist train that operates along the St. Lawrence River between Québec City and La Malbaie, Groupe Le Massif is planning an all-season village at the foot of Le Massif mountain by 2020. The development, close to Baie-Saint-Paul and less than an hour from Québec City, includes more than 100 condos plus restaurants, art galleries and trails along a pedestrian corridor, with shuttle service to La Ferme and local villages. lemassif.com

Alcatraz, the notorious prison turned national park in San Francisco Bay, is about to become famous for another reason. World-renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has created a special exhibition inside the prison called @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, on view until April 26, 2015. Ai’s sculpture, sound and mixed-media works will occupy four locations in the former prison, three of them usually off limits to the public. The exhibition is included in regular Alcatraz ticket prices. Special guided tours are offered Thursday through Monday nights. Purchase tickets up to three months in advance. alcatrazcruises.com

Combine the thrill of powerchuting—ensconced in a two-passenger motorized cart suspended below a 12-metre parachute—and an evening picnic under the stars at Arizona’s Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Receive a DVD of the experience after the 30-minute flight. The Celestial Picnic is presented in a deluxe basket with all the traditional accoutrements, including a blanket and constellation chart to view the stars. Or book a private stargazing session by Richard Allen, who uses his high-powered telescope to uncover the mysteries of the night sky. Add a “Chute for the Stars” experience to any package at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale. Rates begin at US$329 per person. fourseasons.com/scottsdale

The restored Monastère des Augustines in the heart of Québec City will open its doors to the public in summer 2015 as a cultural and wellness centre. Book one of 65 comfortable rooms in this former cloister and sign up for a variety of holistic services including massage and meditation. Stay for a healthy lunch or dinner in the refectory, visit the museum and attend lectures and concerts. Ten heritage rooms dating back to 1695 are also available for rental. monastere.ca

From now through March 15, 2015, Canadians planning a visit to Discovery Cove in Orlando can swim with dolphins, snorkel with gentle rays and tropical fish, hand-feed exotic birds and encounter playful otters and curious marmosets at a special rate of US$219 plus tax. These Day Resort Packages are also available without the dolphin swim experience for US$149 plus tax, or for an additional US$49, add a SeaVenture experience. Everything from meals to snacks and snorkels to sunscreen is included and all packages feature unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 14 consecutive days surrounding the reservation date. A US$25 upgrade provides access to Busch Gardens Tampa as well. SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens have also posted a “select your day, select your savings” ticket offer online with savings of up to US$40. In this case, tickets must be purchased by December 19 and used within one year of purchase. DiscoveryCove.com/Canada; SeaWorld.ca; BuschGardensTampa.com

Famous Rocky Mountain National Park in Northern Colorado is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a year of outdoor adventures. Festivities include free talks, walks and evening programs with a ranger, as well as climbing, hiking and snowshoeing excursions to 100 of the 125 named peaks in the park. In the spring, join wildflower hikes led by native plant masters, and visit the Climb On! exhibit at the Estes Park Museum celebrating the park’s spectacular rock climbing. nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/events.htm

Cycling in the majestic Blue Mountains, floating down the Martha Brae River on bamboo rafts and swimming with dolphins are just three of the top 10 bucket-list highlights presented by the Jamaica Tourist Board. Stay at GoldenEye Resort, where 007 creator Ian Fleming found inspiration; swim at night in the Luminous Lagoon off Falmouth; and visit the home of legendary reggae star Bob Marley. More adventurous travellers can explore the Windsor Caves or dive to the submerged city of Port Royal. For food and drink, follow the self-guided Jerk Trail and visit Appleton Estate to sample rum blended by the industry’s first female Master Blender. visitjamaica.com

Vietnam’s first all-inclusive cruise in beautiful Nha Trang Bay is fit for an emperor. Day and dinner cruises on a luxurious 32-passenger Emperor Cruises junk will launch in February 2015, followed by overnight cruises in June. Dotted with traditional fishing villages and luxury hotels, the coastal city of Nha Trang is a popular tourist destination known for its deep blue waters and endless white sand. Passengers can watch wildlife, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak and more. emperorcruises.com

After a two-year, US$12.6-million renovation, the White House Visitor Centre has reopened on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Visitors can explore the President’s home through an interactive touchscreen tour that shows the White House as a home, office, stage, museum and park. More than 90 artifacts, many on public display for the first time, offer a glimpse into life and work inside the Executive Mansion, while a 14-minute film features interviews with members of first families over the years. There’s also a new retail store. Admission is free. nps.gov/whho

The body of St. Francis Xavier, a Roman Catholic missionary who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Asia, lies in a silver casket in the Church of Bom Jesus Basilica in Goa, India. Every 10 years, an exposition of the sacred relics of St. Francis Xavier is held in his honour. This year’s event marks the 17th public Exposition of the Sacred Relics of the Saint, which continues until January 4, 2015. Throughout the event, masses will be held in various Indian and foreign languages and a number of activities are scheduled to make your pilgrimage of faith in Goa more enriching. sfxexposition2014.com

From priceless works of arts to literary masterpieces, some of the world’s most amazing collections are found in Philadelphia. Whether you’re interested in fine art, curious about cars or want to know more about mummies, you’ll find it here. For instance, inside the sprawling Philadelphia Museum of Art, visitors can ogle art by such classic masters as Marcel Duchamp and Constantine Brancusi. View a fleet of more than 60 high-performance vehicles amassed by classic car enthusiast Dr. Frederick A. Simeone and on display at the impressive Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum. The 15-ton, granite Sphinx of Ramses II is but one of more than one million objects found in the Penn Museum. philamuseum.org; simeonemuseum.org; penn.museum; visitphilly.com

The Hotel Price Index recently ranked Tokyo No. 20 among “the 50 Most Popular Cities for Canadians” in its January–June 2014 report. The successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games and its status as a technology hub and as a gourmet haven have contributed to Japan’s increasing popularity and helped the country jump six spots in ranking. In fact, the trend continued in August with a 24.3 per cent increase in Canadian visitors over August 2013. And starting May 1, 2015, Canadians will have easy access to another one of Japan’s amazing cities. That’s when Air Canada will introduce non-stop service five times a week until October 24 between Vancouver and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, featuring Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with economy and premium cabins. ilovejapan.ca

Universal Orlando Resort announced the return of the resort’s popular 3rd Day Free Offer for U.S. and Canadian residents, which means your third day is free with the purchase of a two-day park ticket. In addition to three days’ access to Universal Orlando’s two theme parks—Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure and all the new experiences each has in store—you’ll also have access to live entertainment at Universal CityWalk. Or you can upgrade by purchasing a combo ticket to experience either Wet n’ Wild or the Blue Man Group show. This offer is valid for purchase through June 7, 2015. Tickets are valid for 14 days from the first day of use and must be used in full by June 20. Blackout dates apply from December 26, 2014 to January 3, 2015. Visitors can also enjoy a special vacation package by adding a three-night stay at selected hotels and resorts, which includes early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. universalorlando.com

Trafalgar has launched its much-anticipated 2015 Europe and Britain program, which includes 117 itineraries with 14 new trips and offers 10 trip styles covering 44 European countries. One new trip style is the Hidden Journeys collection, which takes smaller groups of up to 26 guests to less-visited regions in France or Italy. Another new addition is a 14-day trip to Spain, France and Italy. Solo guests will appreciate a decreased single supplement ranging from 50 to 100 per cent on multiple departure dates for 12 holidays (including all trips to Egypt) in 2015. There’s also an Early Payment Discount with savings of up to $1,726 per couple for those who book and pay in full before January 15, 2015. trafalgar.com

Visitors toWhistler, B.C., will enjoy a more comfortable and efficient ride up the mountain this winter in a “walk-in” eight-passenger gondola cabin. In response to customer feedback on its high-speed quad chair, Blackcomb has widened parts of the trail, which leads from the Glacier Creek Lodge area to the base of the Crystal Ridge Express. Newly adopted Terrain-Based Learning promises to get skiers and snowboarders on the slopes more quickly, and the new Garbo’s Grill offers customized burgers at the base of Whistler Mountain. whistler.com

 
 
 
 
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