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Travel Gallery - Winter 2015/2016
(2015 - Winter Issue)

Writer: Cynthia David

Opulent is the word for The Reverie Saigon, seven years in the making, located in the 39-storey Times Square tower in Ho Chi Minh City’s centre. Leading Italian designers collaborated on the 286 spacious rooms and suites featuring floor-to-ceiling windows. Marvel at the seventh-floor lobby and the winding gold-leaf-encased marble staircase of the Reverie Lounge while taking afternoon tea. From the finest Cantonese fare to local Vietnamese street food, its restaurants celebrate the cuisines of France, China, Italy and East Asia. A plush spa features a pool and the city’s most advanced 24-hour fitness centre, while chandeliers of Swarovski crystals sparkle from ceilings seven metres high in the La Scala Ballroom. thereveriesaigon.com

Shaw Festival’s 2016 playbill marks the festival’s 55th season in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the end of artistic director Jackie Maxwell’s tenure. The lineup includes 10 diverse productions including contemporary pieces by Shaw and the world premiere of two commissioned works. Peter Hinton’s new version of Alice in Wonderland promises to be a theatrical treat for audiences of all ages. Joining Alice on the Festival Theatre stage will be Oscar Wilde’s classic, A Woman of No Importance, and the musical, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In a new twist on another classic, playwright Lisa Codrington tackles Bernard Shaw’s fable, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, which was considered blasphemous when it was published in 1932. shawfest.com

Show your Canadian passport and take advantage of big savings in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, from January 1 to April 30, 2016. The popular beach and golf destination is celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Canadian American Days Festival March 12–20, and plans special activities during March Break to showcase its southern hospitality. To get you there in style, Porter Airlines is set to resume non-stop seasonal service between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Myrtle Beach on February 11, with up to five weekly flights until May 23. visitmyrtlebeach.com/things-to-do/events/can-am-days 

Trade a snowy backyard for a white-sand beach with a holiday stay at two of Florida’s premier resorts. Starting at US$199/night until January 2, 2016, the Home Away from Home for the Holidays package at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort includes accommodation (minimum two-night stay), buffet breakfast, a half-day of Kids’ Club access, DIY gingerbread house and discounts at SiSpa and local shops. For US$359/night until December 26, enjoy a Holiday Retreat at the Four-Diamond all-suite Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island resort on the Gold Coast. The package includes a US$50 spa certificate, Kids’ Club access and two beach chairs and umbrella for a day. pompanomarriott.com; palmbeachmarriottresort.com

Cruise down the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest on board the repositioned American Pride. The 150-passenger paddlewheeler begins seven- and 10-day cruises on April 2, 2016. The ship is already known for its outstanding service, mahogany-clad lounges, perks such as the complimentary cocktail hour, and world-class chefs who use local ingredients. Spacious guest rooms offer views of the Columbia River Gorge, Mount St. Helens volcano and Multnomah Falls. Along the way, experts in history, nature and culture share their knowledge and passion for the region. americancruiselines.com

Mingle with great chefs and enjoy fabulous food and wine at the eighth annual Cayman Cookout hosted by New York City star Eric Ripert in the beautiful Cayman Islands. This year’s lineup features first-timer chefs Tom Colicchio, Dean Fearing, Cindy Hutson, Hubert Keller and more. The four-day event includes wine tastings, mixology classes, a paella demonstration by José Andrés, a sampling and discussion of local flavours with Anthony Bourdain, and, back by popular demand, a barefoot BBQ on the beach featuring certified Angus beef. caymancookout.com; caymanislands.ky

After being closed for the summer of 2015, Harbour Town Golf Links at the Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has reopened with a new look, new greens and a new clubhouse. The resurfaced greens will be faster and firmer, experts say, while the new clubhouse features wraparound terraces with covered porches, an American grill with sweeping golf course views, a state-of-the-art locker room and an elegant banquet room. Accommodation choices include villas, rental homes and a 60-room boutique hotel. seapinesgolf.com

Registration is now open for the 45th anniversary of Canada’s most scenic race, the BMO Vancouver Marathon, which takes place May 1, 2016. The event began in 1972 with a handful of runners making five loops of Stanley Park. Today, almost 4,000 volunteers will welcome runners from more than 50 countries. Events include a full and half-marathon, a relay, an eight-kilometre run, kids’ run and a new 2.5-kilometre walk. Participants raise money for more than 40 charities. BMOVanMarathon.ca

From an important new art exhibit to a glittering opera and Lady Gaga’s shoes, Israel offers a wealth of culture. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Israel Museum is hosting Twilight over Berlin until March 26, 2016, an exhibit of 20th-century German expressionists including Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. In fall 2016, the open-air Opera at Masada Festival returns September 15 to 17 with two performances of a larger-than-life production of Samson and Delilah plus Verdi’s beloved Un Ballo in Maschera. For wearable art, visit Kobi Levi’s studio in Tel Aviv. Known for his offbeat shoes, from sharks to coffee cups, the famed designer’s clients include Lady Gaga. Prices range from US$800 to $3,000 a pair. goisrael.com

Mont-Tremblant, Québec, has Ski & Stay offers all season long, with free lodging for kids 17 and under. This popular village in the Laurentian mountains offers 268 hectares of skiing across four mountain faces, 96 trails and three terrain parks. Air pipes are now open on Versant Soleil with 14 lifts to take slide sport fans to their personal peak. The European-style village is an easy walk from hotels and restaurants boasting local and global specialties from poutine and foie gras to pad Thai and Swiss fondue. tremblant.ca

Big Sky Resort in Montana has created two new fun and winding intermediate runs, White Magic and Short Stack, along with more glading projects and more free stuff for kids. A new family-friendly kids’ adventure area, Lost Frontier, has banked turns and rollers, perfect for learning and exploring, plus interactive surprises for more adventurous youngsters. Kids 10 and younger staying with their family at Big Sky-managed properties can ski and enjoy the Kids’ Club for free. Children five and under always ski for free. bigskyresort.com

Ready for some serious retail therapy? Check out the Viceroy Miami’s Shop & Stay package, priced from US$339/night for a minimum three-night stay. Enjoy deluxe accommodation in downtown Miami, a US$50 Visa gift card, 20 per cent off spa services and more. Or book a Tropical Escape from US$216 per room, a 20-per-cent saving on the hotel’s best available rate. With its Kelly Wearstler-designed interiors, Philippe Starck-designed spa, a rooftop lounge 50 storeys high and a chance to sip a fresh rum-infused coconut at Florida’s longest pool, this hotel is a little bit of heaven. viceroymiami.com; promo code FALLFLASH

Refresh and rejuvenate this holiday season with the new Essential Plus Retreat at Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah. Enjoy comfortable temperatures, crisp air and stunning views of southwestern Utah’s red bluffs. The Retreat, starting at US$290/person/night, includes a choice of deluxe room or villa, healthy meals, hiking, unlimited fitness classes and a daily spa treatment or personal training session. Red Mountain is located 30 minutes from St. George Municipal Airport and two hours from Las Vegas airport. redmountainresort.com

Starwood’s modern, tech-savvy Aloft Hotel brand is on the move, with eight additional hotels set to open by the end of 2015. Alofts opened recently in Manhattan; Santa Clara, California; Stuttgart and Munich, Germany; and College Station, Texas. Innovations include the new Emoji room service menu in Manhattan, which allows guests to text their requests to the front desk, and the industry’s first Smart Check-In system, using a guest’s smart phone as a key. alofthotels.com/experience

Tickets go on sale in early April 2016 for next summer’s 27th annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver. Audience favourite Romeo and Juliet opens the festival on June 3 on the BMO Mainstage. It alternates with an award-winning and “re-imagined” production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in 1968 Windsor, Ontario. On the Howard Family Stage, veteran Bard actor Bob Frazer will direct a provocative new Othello, its action unfolding during the American Civil War. The festival runs until September 24, and celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. bardonthebeach.org

Magical hikes and exceptional guided walking tours await visitors along California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route along the Central Coast. Each town’s website on the route—midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco—offers maps detailing local points of interest. Click on the map and a special page pops up, perfect for printing or sending to your mobile device. You can also join the locals in more than 70 “feel-good” Stewardship Traveler activities, perhaps planting native seedlings, cleaning up a beach or helping out at a historic lighthouse. highway1discoveryroute.com 

The Canadian government has lifted its travel advisory for Nepal, including the Everest and Annapurna regions affected by last spring’s earthquake. The move is good news for trekkers and for Nepal’s economy, which depends on tourism. World Expeditions is inviting trekkers to join its Rebuild Treks and take part in community-building projects, which are being funded through voluntary donations from participants and from the company’s own foundation. World Expeditions has operated treks in Nepal for 40 years and offers more than 80 itineraries for all levels, ranging from introductory to challenging. worldexpeditions.com

Lufthansa has introduced a Premium Economy class on its daily flights to Frankfurt from Vancouver and Toronto, and from Montréal to Munich, with plans to roll out the service on all flights to and from Canada this winter. The new class, between Business and Economy, offers comfortable new seats, up to 50 per cent more personal space, upgraded meals served on porcelain and double the free baggage allowance. Screens for the in-flight entertainment system are larger than economy. For an extra 25 euros, passengers can access Lufthansa’s business lounge before takeoff. lufthansa.com

A new ultra high-end residential development is about to rise in Fort Lauderdale. The Auberge Beach Residences & Spa Fort Lauderdale will be built right on the sand, and construction of the first tower is slated to break ground in the next few months. Units with oversized terraces will be spacious enough to accommodate extended families. Public spaces include an indoor-outdoor lounge and restaurant, wine cellar, spa cabanas, swimming pools and gardens. The property will be managed by luxury hotel operator Auberge Resorts Collection. aubergebeach.com

If you’ve dreamed of seeing Iceland’s spectacular glaciers, lava formations, geysers, fjords and its world-famous Blue Lagoon, now’s your chance. Trafalgar’s new Ultimate Iceland offers an insider’s tour of this friendly, quirky country. Visit the museum dedicated to Thorbergur Thordarson as a local describes how the Icelandic author’s formative years were shaped by the area’s rich storytelling heritage. Take part in local culture at a Be My Guest lunch on a farm in the narrow passages of the Skagafjordur area dedicated to the Icelander horse. Book and pay in full by January 14, 2016, and save up to 10 per cent per couple on Trafalgar’s 2016 Europe & Britain program. trafalgar.com/can/tours/ultimate-iceland/summer

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