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(2016 - Winter Issue)


Heading to Hawaii or Florida? You might want to know four Aqua-Aston Hospitality properties earned the esteemed MLT Vacations 2015 Quality Assurance Award in recognition of their commitment to outstanding customer service. Overlooking Diamond Head or the Pacific on Oahu, the rooms at Aston Waikiki Sunset offer a relaxed island lifestyle. On Maui, the Aston Kaanapali Shores offers convenient condominium living, complimentary scuba lessons, an activities desk and a kids’ program. On Kauai, the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort features four swimming pools and a lava-tube waterslide. And in Florida, the Tuscana Resort Orlando by Aston puts you in close proximity to Orlando’s most popular attractions. aqua-aston.com

The year-old Enchanté Boutique Hotel, Silicon Valley’s first small independent luxury hotel, has received TripAdvisor’s highest rating. The 19-room French château-style inn is located near Palo Alto’s tech companies, wineries, tourist attractions and music venues. The decor blends contemporary French with vintage artwork and antiques, and the hotel is the first to offer Naturepedic-certified organic mattresses. Priced from US$325 per night, Enchanté welcomes dogs and even sells locally crafted pet products and services. enchantehotel.com

Unwind for the holidays on Florida’s relaxing Emerald Coast, the strip of land stretching 160 kilometres along the Gulf of Mexico. The 2016 holiday season kicks off December 11 with the annual Lighted Boat Parade through Destin’s historic harbour. Some lights are choreographed to music, while others have famous passengers like Santa or the Grinch. During the day, take in more festivities or stroll along the sugar-white sand beaches of Destin and Okaloosa Island beside emerald waters. Destin’s Gulf-to-table program ensures the seafood you’re eating was swimming that morning. Using the Fish Trax QR code, customers can even find out when their fish was caught and who caught it. EmeraldCoasting.com

Surrounded by gardens and located near the sanctuary of Atotonilco outside Mexico’s bustling San Miguel de Allende sits Casa de Aves, a mansion turned boutique hotel. Featuring 10 suites, eight private villas and a world-class restaurant all nestled on terraces on the shores of a swan lake, the family-owned hotel is a rustic oasis. Each suite is equipped with Internet access, common rooms with sky views, club-style bathrooms and private showers. The hotel also happens to be for sale, listed for a cool US$6 million. nourmand.com

The Kinzua Skywalk in northwestern Pennsylvania offers breathtaking views of the Kinzua Gorge from the six massive steel towers that remain after a 2003 tornado. The new Visitor’s Centre details the history of the railroad bridge, once the highest and longest in the world, along with exhibits and information on the surrounding area. Open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk, the state park also features hiking and biking trails and picnic facilities and admission is free. Local accommodation choices range from quaint B&Bs to deluxe resorts. visitanf.com

All-inclusive resort Memories Caribe on Cayo Coco, Cuba, is now an adults-only property for guests 16 and over. Set on a spectacular beach in the Jardines del Rey area, this resort has added new amenities such as a beachfront lounge for sunset cocktails, Bali beds for relaxing afternoons, a revised entertainment schedule, exclusive Diamond Club areas, plus upgrades for honeymoon or anniversary celebrations. For an additional charge, visit La Casa del Vino for tapas-style bites and premium wines in an elegant setting. vacations.aircanada.com; memoriesresorts.com/en.aspx

Seabrook Island is a private island community near Charleston, South Carolina, offering miles of beaches, championship golf courses overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, great restaurants, equestrian and tennis centres and a fitness/aquatics complex, all set within nine lush square kilometres. For accommodation, choose from rental and vacation properties including the Ocean, Golf, Tennis and Scenic Area villas. Interested in purchasing a home for year-round or occasional use? Check out the many residential homes, villas and home sites available. discoverseabrook.com

While Ocean Club Resort’s Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, is known as the No. 1 Beach in the Caribbean, TripAdvisor recently voted it No.1 Beach in the world. Now through December, resort guests receive 20 per cent off rates while taking advantage of amenities such as full kitchens, kids’ programs, spa, water sports and golf. oceanclubresorts.com

The new 38-storey Ritz-Carlton Residences in Waikiki Beach, with its three-storey wall depicting Hawaii’s kapa bark cloth design, offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Residences feature premium appliances, while amenities include an eighth-floor infinity pool with private cabanas and a premier fitness centre designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. Food offerings range from BLT Market, with its locally sourced ingredients, to Sushi Sho from Japan. And check out Hawaii’s first Dean & DeLuca. RitzCarlton.com/Waikiki

The Duffins Creek Trail Rehabilitation Project is one step closer to completion thanks in part to an $85,000 donation from HSBC Bank Canada. Located in the Greenwood Conservation Lands, Duffins Creek is the final major section needed to connect the Trans Canada Trail between Kingston, Ontario, and Toronto’s Harbourfront. The project includes planting trees and increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. Duffins Creek is part of a project to build the world’s longest recreational trail coast to coast by Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. tctrail.ca

Grand Canyon Helicopters has launched new tours of the famous Hoover Dam. From the company’s new heliport next to the Hoover Dam Lodge Hotel and Casino, guests can now fly even closer to the dam, with its breathtaking views of Lake Mead and the rugged, volcanic terrain of Black Canyon. Flights are available from 9 a.m. until sunset. Book a tour the same day at the Hoover Dam heliport or online. papillon.com/dam

Nikon Canada’s new KeyMission action cameras offer a hands-free way to document your adventures through high-quality video that puts the viewer in the middle of the action. The rugged KeyMission 360 is the first Nikon capable of full 360° video in 4K UHD, letting you relive your travels as you remember them. Also new is the Nikon KeyMission 170, an adventure-ready camera capable of amazing stills and 4K UHD video from a wide-angle point of view. Nikon’s KeyMission 80, meanwhile, is compact and light enough to capture the spontaneous moments of everyday life. All use Nikon SnapBridge to transfer videos to your smartphone or tablet in real time. Nikon.ca

Vancouver’s 28th Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, running from June 1 to September 23, 2017, promises high-spirited comedies, provocative dramas and a limited-run B.C. play. Much Ado About Nothing, set in 1959 Italy, is the first of four Shakespeare plays, alternating with The Winter’s Tale. On the Howard Family stage, award-winning Canadian actor Nigel Shawn Williams directs The Merchant of Venice, set in contemporary Italy. It alternates with a new production of romantic comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Rounding out the schedule is Shylock, which imagines a modern-day actor playing Shylock as he wrestles with issues of censorship and political correctness. Season packs are now on sale and single tickets go on sale in April.  bardonthebeach.org

New skiers and snowboarders are getting extra attention this year at Whistler Blackcomb, with more than $2.4 million allocated for upgrading facilities. Improvements include terrain grading, two new covered carpet lifts, 32 new low-energy snow guns at the Olympic Zone on Whistler and another 13 at the Magic Chair learning area on Blackcomb. For a Big Picture look at the future of winter sports in the wake of climate change, watch the four-part documentary at whistlerblackcomb.com.

The American Writers Museum, dedicated to American writers past and present, is set to open next March on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue. It’s the first museum of its kind in the U.S., and will explore the influence of diverse writers, from Mark Twain to Dr. Seuss, on the nation’s history, identity, culture and daily lives. AWM’s themed galleries, high-tech interactive exhibits, educational programs, and special events will change often to surprise and engage visitors of all ages. It’s expected to draw up to 120,000 visitors annually. americanwritersmuseum.org

In 1967, nearly 100,000 young people converged on San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood for the “Summer That Changed Everything.” Music, fashion, art and new ideas flourished. To mark the 50th anniversary of this momentous time, San Francisco is planning a year-long celebration. Exhibitions include Fashion in Flight at San Francisco airport and Summer of Love exhibits at the de Young Museum, City Hall and the California Historical Society. June brings the Summer of Love concert and the 40th annual Haight-Ashbury street festival. Check out Sunday Streets events plus themed walking tours, apps and hop on, hop off tours. summeroflove2017.com

Playtime isn’t just for kids! Groups and individuals of all ages and backgrounds can interact, reminisce and explore at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, home of the world’s largest toy, doll and game collection. Exclusive tours take guests behind the scenes in the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden, while groups can test their skills in the massive World Video Game Hall of Fame on rare four-player PAC-MAN and two-player Tetris. The new Toy Halls of Fame exhibit explores America’s favourite toys. You’ll also find the first handmade Monopoly set, Thomas Edison’s talking doll, the first LEGO sets and Barbie No. 1. museumofplay.org

The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake is excited about its 2017 season, the company’s 56th. The 11-play lineup includes two of Bernard Shaw’s most admired works, including Saint Joan; An Octoroon, an edgy new American comedy set on a slave-owner’s plantation; two Canadian political pieces; the North American premiere of a gothic-cum-feminist horror story; a musical comedy about the English upper classes; and four more plays that continue the festival’s mission to provoke social exploration. shawfest.com

Hong Kong’s newly renovated and award-winning Cosmopolitan Hotel is changing its name to the Dorsett Wanchai and offering a 3 Wishes Package, whereby guests pick three complimentary offers from a host of services to receive a unique and individualized experience while staying at the hotel. The list includes access to the airport lounge, a free dim sum meal at Tim Ho Wan Michelin-starred restaurant, a room upgrade, free arrival transfer and a complimentary Ocean Park ticket when you buy one ticket. cosmopolitanhotel.com.hk

South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, makes its debut in May 2017. The luxury train will travel along one of the highest rail routes on Earth, traversing the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa. Cabins come in suite/double, twin and bunk configurations, each with ensuite and shower. Two elegant dining cars serve fresh and seasonal dishes using local ingredients, while an observation car offers an open deck with spectacular views. Sip Pisco sours in the lounge car while listening to music from a baby grand piano. Nightly rates start from US$462 per person, including meals, open bar and some excursions. belmond.com

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