Favourite Destinations - A Ticket To Paradise

by Ilona Kauremszky
Special to Luxe magazine
Winter, 2007

Let’s face it. The holidays are over. A new year has started and now it’s time to plan for your dream vacation. Here’s a spotlight on dreamy vacations around the world.

Best Beaches

Pink Sands Beach
Harbour Island
Island Records founder Chris Blackwell loved the talcum pink sandy beach of this Bahamian outer island so much, he bought a hotel on the secluded strip and aptly calls it The Pink Sands. The soft pink silky carpet lines the entire eastern side of this Caribbean isle and has been used for Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoots as well as attracting the A-listers. Sir Mick Jagger we hear you’re coming.

Ka’anapali Beach Maui, Hawaii
In early times, the white pearl beach of Ka'anapali was a royal retreat for the rulers of Maui. These days this beachfront -- part of the Hawaiian Islands in Polynesia -- boasts the ultimate remote luxury. Sparkling blue waters shimmer around the 120 miles of coastline that blends the best of nature and sophistication. Famous Ka’anapali is ranked among the best beaches in the country. We think so too.

Playa Grande
Dominican Republic
The Caribbean country is transforming into an ultra-luxe paradise with luxury resorts overlooking the azure waters. This stretch of beach is fast becoming dubbed “The new gold coast” for its golden sand. Besides the sun and surf, the big beach is surrounded by a golf course that could challenge Pebble Beach. If you’re searching for an undiscovered jewel, snag some shade beneath one of the beach palms and slather on the SPF. A secluded strip, you could hang here for hours.

Best Old World Charm

Quebec City www.quebecregion.com
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only walled city in North America north of Mexico, continues to enchant and captivate the imagination of all who have had the good fortune to amble through these historic cobbled stone streets. A virtual step back in time, the famous backdrop of Chateau Frontenac really gives this capital city its crowning jewel.

Old Montreal is where the city’s hipsters congregate and movie stars slumber. Stone high-rise buildings, many of them former banks, have morphed into luxe boutique hotels and Phillipe Starck furnished restaurants. An evening caleche ride through this romantic setting is a must anytime of the year. Did we mention shopping, dining, gallery hopping, and strolling through streets like Prince Arthur? Once you complete this trip, you’ll know why this is the city of l’amour.

Colonial Williamsburg
British Colonial style rings loud and clear throughout North America’s oldest English settlement. Standard Oil tycoon and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller saved the day when he saved the historic city in 1926. Considered the world’ largest living museum, actors doubling as historic figures are common sightings here.

Best European Jewels
Florence, Italy
The birthplace of the Renaissance is one of our favourite dream places. Turn any street corner and you’ll be sure to stumble across a Michelangelo or a da Vinci in an open square. The marketplace is especially fun for local colour. Here stalls of pomodoro and fromaggio line beside shelves of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and truffles while the butcher animatedly displays his catch of rabbit and wild boar with floating hooks of trippe waiting for hungry customers.

Var Region, South of France
Choose a medieval village like Barjols for your launch pad and venture out to the environs for daytrips. Not-to-be-missed stops include Moustiers de Sainte Marie, the Gorges du Verdon, Aix-en-Provence and the Roman aquaduct, Pont du Gard. Pack a swimsuit for the legendary bridge. Swimmers lap beneath the sky-high arches as raptors soar in the sweet Provençale breezes.

Bonn, Germany
As the birthplace of the world’s most beloved composer, Ludwig van Beethoven, this historic city along the Rhine River also happens to be the gateway to the famous Romantic Rhine journey. Spend a few days touring the historic centre and visit the home of the famous virtuoso now a museum. Recognized as holding the largest Beethoven collection in the world, significant pieces include two locks of his hair, his last grand piano and a temporary exhibition showcasing a rare engraver’s copy of Missa solemnis believed to be the composer’s greatest work.

Best Über Chic Crash Pads

Coral Sands Hotel
Harbour Island, Bahamas
An island fixture since the sixties, this British Colonial style boutique hotel has recently undergone a facelift. The décor blends dark hardwood floors with oversized plush neutral sofas – the kind you can sink into for hours – and has vases of fresh cut lilies, orchids surrounded by tomes of art books. The suites blend casual elegance with white cotton linen, leather Stickley chairs and wood furniture pieces. Many balconied suites overlook the world famous Pink Sands Beach.

Punta Cana Resort & Club
Dominican Republic
Oscar de La Renta and Julio Iglesias are two of the owners of this paradise resort. Nestled on the white sandy beaches, the hacienda style suites are situated in stand-alone properties and the décor smacks Oscar-style wherever you look. A favourite getaway for the A-Listers like former president Bill Clinton and wife Hillary, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, the uber chic resort is just that. Plan on packing your Pucci and Prada here.

Beverly Hilton
Beverly Hills, California When it first opened in 1955, Conrad Hilton’s flagship and jewel property was the talk of Beverly Hills. Still a glitzy landmark, the luxury hotel recently underwent an update but has thankfully retained its signature charm. The walls are lined with portraits of Hollywood’s glitterati and its famous pool is where you wish to do your laps. Don’t be surprised if you spot a director or model while you’ve checked in here.

Best Wild Kingdom

Yellowstone Park
Where else can you see half of the planet's thermal features, the world’s tallest active geyser, hike along North America’s largest lake above 7000 feet, and roam the meadows of an active volcano as you critter watch for packs of wolves and herds of bison and elk? Try the world’s first national park. These natural world wonders make a great stomping ground for city dwellers. Guaranteed wildlife sightings anytime of the year.

St. Lawrence Estuary
Charlevoix, Quebec
This UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is a veritable stomping ground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. For a real cherry-on-the-top experience, zoom inside a zodiac for a thrilling ride down the coastal majesty of the St. Lawrence River. Once at a popular rest area, the action begins on cue. Be prepared for sightings of five species of whales, seals and the feisty bird “petit penguin.” Mother Nature is sure to be on your side for awesome views of humpback whales, minkes, belugas and comedic harp seals. It’s a real Kodak moment.

Sabi Sands Game Reserve
South Africa
In the wild kingdom of Kruger National Park sits the Sabi Sands private game reserve that beckons all to visit this slice of heaven on earth. Helmed by a guide whose a drop dead handsome Harrison Ford type, your open jeep blazes deep into bush country surrounded all the while by the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and African buffalos. Hyenas, hippos, and impalas will also grace you with their presence.

Best World Stage

Thaipusam Festival
February 1, 2007
Thousands gather at the sacred Batu Caves, home to the annual Hindu festival celebrating the birthday of Lord Murugan. The colourful festival attracts devotees and tourists alike for this not-to-be-missed spectacle.

79th Academy Awards Los Angeles, CA
February 25, 2007
Don’t let this closed event spoil a great party. You can still catch the action by visiting some of the favourite celebrity haunts in this City of Angels.

Beethovenfest Bonn
Bonn, Germany
August 24 to September 23, 2007
Beethoven’s city plays host to international musicians paying tribute to the great composer.

America’s 400th Anniversary
Jamestown, Virginia
May 2006-Fall 2007
This two year long party in Virginia’s Historic Triangle region pays homage to North America’s first permanent English settlement.

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