by Jimmy Im
It’s not all about tacos and margaritas anymore.
Last week in Cancun, spring-break revelers flooded the bars and clubs for a Mexican-style St. Patrick’s Day, while Jersey Shore‘s Snooki and JWoww filmed scenes for a new show at Beach Palace Resort. But while nightlife remains an iconic fixture of the destination, Cancun has been luring a new type of traveler: foodies. From March 15 to 18, hundreds of visitors participated in the inauguration of the region’s first food and wine festival, a boon for Cancun’s growing culinary scene.
The Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival proved that Mexican gastronomy is no joke — in fact, traditional Mexican cuisine has been named to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list — as almost 30 world-renowned chefs from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the US brought their culinary flair to the region to celebrate the local cuisine and introduce their own techniques to an emerging culinary destination.
Headlining the event was Ferran Adria from the highly touted elBulli restaurant, universally known as the world’s best restaurant for several years. (It closed in 2009.) While the festival honored Ferran at a gala reception and dinner, more than 30 culinary events were also open to the public.
by Troy Petenbrink
Philadelphia has long been known as the City of Brotherly Love, but if the city’s tourism officials have their way, it may start being known as the City of Art. A new $2 million, 2-year marketing campaign was launched this month to try to position Philadelphia among the world’s great art destinations.
So can Philly hold its own against the likes of Berlin, Florence and New York City? Travel Channel takes a fun look at the numbers to help you decide:
1805: The year that the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts was founded, making it the first art school in the United States. Philadelphia is actually home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of art schools, many of which operate galleries and hold annual art shows. This might be your chance to discover the next Picasso.
3,000-plus: The number of murals produced by the Philadelphia Murals Arts Programs over the past 25 years. Originally begun as an anti-graffiti effort, this public arts program not only produces beautiful and moving murals across the city, it helps thousands of Philadelphia’s at-risk children, youth and adults find their artistic voice. In addition to the murals, Philadelphia boasts more outdoor sculptures than any other city in the country. And the best thing — all this public art is free to visit.
Aspiring travelers flocked to the Convention Center in Washington, DC, for the Travel & Adventure Show this weekend, and today is the last day to catch Travel Channel host Sam Brown chat about her travel mishaps. Former Taste of America host, Mark DeCarlo, will be signing his new book, “A Fork on the Road,” and hosting an Interactive Cooking Class on the Culinary Stage.
The annual event has dozens of booths to inspire travelers to visit specific destinations and to tap into their sense of adventure by offering people with an opportunity to experience diving in a Scuba Dive Pool, experience the rock climbing wall, strap up for a zip-lining adventure and feel the motors revving with a NASCAR video game. A few tour companies are on hand to help you plan your wildlife safari, whitewater rafting trip and more.
And there’s not a shortage of destinations to plan your next fun-filled getaway. The Show has reps from popular destinations, both near and far, including Fiji, Maryland, Tibet, Spain, US Virgin Islands, Australia, Orlando, Belize, South Africa, Hawaii, West Virginia, Singapore, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
So plan your next water park trip now, and don’t miss the last day of the Travel & Adventure Show in DC or check it out in a city near you.
by Jimmy Im
Sure, it’s not uncommon for a Caribbean island resort to make groundbreaking announcements about its property. But in Turks and Caicos, it’s incidentally quite rare. Just consider the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales: A handful of fine resorts perched along its sandy 12-mile stretch of beach known as Grace Bay seldom blare any headline-making news. Perhaps it’s because they’ve already exceeded expectations with their high volume of return visitors. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?
Maybe not …
These days, one Turks and Caicos island resort is bucking the no-announcements trend.
Recently, Regent Palms decided it was time to give their much-loved resort a facelift to further enhance its guests’ resort experience. Repeat and new visitors will not only find touch-ups in guestrooms, and a major revamp in the spa, but soon enough a brand-new oceanfront restaurant-bar, and more.
This past weekend, Regent Palms celebrated its new look with a private event in its revamped 25,000-square-foot spa. Both ex-pat locals and visitors alike sampled the new spa menu concept (East-meets-West philosophy: Caribbean influences merge with Asian foundations — fitting given the Regent brand is based out of Taiwan). The new spa will now be a “destination spa,” one of the first in Turks and Caicos, where guests don’t ever have to leave the spa to enjoy additional perks … like food. The spa now serves healthy lunch menu items by Michelin-rated chef Eric Vernice.
by Jimmy Im
It’s not all about free meals and a salsa class anymore.
All-inclusive hotels and resorts are hot right now. In fact, they’re so popular, Starwood opened its first all-inclusive resort, Westin Playa Conchal in Costa Rica last May and, more recently, Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort in Panama in October. According to Trip Barrett, Vice President, Brand Management Latin America: “The opening of the 2 Starwood all-inclusive properties was in large part a response to demand for more vacation packages from our customers.”
All-inclusive resorts are generally booked for their tremendous savings and hassle-free vacations. But with the recession and various sites offering deep-discount deals on hotels with value-added packages, travelers want their money’s worth — and, well, they’re getting it.
This Saturday, Palace Resorts in Cancun is offering guests free tickets to see Enrique Iglesias, who’s actually performing on their property (blame it on the success of Palace Resorts’ first in-house concert last year with Shakira). Guests have priority to see Enrique live; discounted tickets are offered for all guests but those staying 7 nights receive complimentary passes (average ticket costs $300). Similarly, Grand Oasis Resort, another all-inclusive property in Cancun, is having a Dance U Festival. From Feb. 28 to March 31, the hotel has been bringing together a series of acts and parties from famous artists in electronic music, hip hop and dance, with a lineup that includes Kelly Rowland (March 23) and Pitbull (March 30). This is inclusive for all guests no matter how many nights they stay.
Other great all-inclusive perks that are even better than “premium liquor?”
Looking for a travel app after you purchase that new iPad? We’ve got something that might strike your fancy. Travel Channel launched the all-new Layover app so you can travel like Anthony Bourdain, the host of No Reservations and The Layover. Tony Bourdain has more than 10 years of travel experience; so, he’s the travel authority on traveling abroad and at home.
The new app –currently for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch– provides you with Tony’s favorite places to stay, eat and drink in 10 major cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Rome, LA, NYC and Montreal. Explore each destination using Anthony Bourdain’s travel tips and picks for must-see sights and must-do activities. It’s all provided on this brand-new app. But wait, there’s more! You have to see a cool video of the app in action –after the jump.
New York City is home to some of the top hotels in the world. Travel Channel may need to add The OUT NYC to that list soon. The city’s first gay boutique hotel is open for business. It’s located in Hell’s Kitchen, on West 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue. The OUT was planned and built with the gay consumer in mind, including the hotel’s design, living spaces, music and rooms where closets are replaced with shelves.
The rooms –rates start around $200– include wireless, high-speed Internet, flat screen TVs, MP3 docking stations and mini-bars. If you’re looking for a cheaper rate, the hotel has 8 hostel-style rooms that sleep 4 for $99 per person. These rooms have 4 full-sized beds, personal TVs, a bathroom and privacy curtains.
Looking for places in the hotel to relax and unwind? Spend some time in one of the hotel’s three courtyards; workout in the gym; or dance ‘til you sweat in the XL Nightclub, a 14,000-square-foot gay dance club. A new full-service restaurant, Kitchin, is set to open in May. And fear not, the hotel isn’t just for gay patrons, hotel owners say the 105-room resort is straight-friendly.
Communities are cleaning up today, after a string of tornadoes ripped through the Midwest and South on Wednesday. The stormy weather claimed 13 lives, and more twisters may be on the way.
According to the Washington Post, meteorologists warned that another line of storms set to strike the same path and potentially grow stronger than Wednesday’s system. Authorities at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK, said that about 10 percent of tornadoes strike between midnight and 6 a.m., a time when storms are harder to spot, and it’s harder to get the word out.
In case you didn’t know, more than 1,000 tornadoes, many of them with little or no advance warning, touch down in the United States every year. So we have few travel tips to help you stay safe when twisters strike while you’re traveling. Take a look at our travel safety tips for how you can recognize the danger signs of a tornado; how and where to take shelter; and the importance of owning an emergency weather radio.
More Weather-Related Content:
Flash Flood Safety: 5 Must-Ask Questions
Tips for Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness
Weather and Flight Apps
Prepare for Flight Problems
by Troy Petenbrink
In the beginning, New Mexico didn’t get much respect; early opponents of statehood said New Mexico’s cultural diversity and rural territory were actually liabilities. Today, those same reasons are what make America’s 47th state worth visiting.
This year, New Mexico celebrates its 100th year of statehood, making it the perfect time to discover (or rediscover) the state’s rich past and promising future. Here are 6 ideas to make a New Mexico trip memorable:
6) Explore History From the Pueblos to the Atomic Age
History lovers can explore the 2,000-year-old Acoma Pueblo atop a towering sandstone mesa; its responsible for the state’s nickname, “Sky City.” The 19 pueblos across New Mexico allow visitors to learn more about its native people.
Fast-forward to the 1940s: New Mexico’s vital role in ending World War II can be explored at Los Alamos, one of the primary locations for the Manhattan Project and home to the Bradbury Science Museum, which documents the history of the famed nuclear weapons project. Also tour Trinity Site, the location of the first atomic bomb explosion (it’s open for public visits twice a year); and The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, located outside of Albuquerque, NM.
5) Stroll a Mile-Long Stretch of Galleries
Art and culture encompass nearly every aspect of New Mexico. There’s Native American pottery and jewelry made throughout the pueblos; Santa Fe’s mile-long stretch of galleries on Canyon Road; and the many museums in Taos, NM.
You can also learn about one of New Mexico’s most famous artists, Georgia O’Keeffe. Walk among the inspiring majestic landscapes that surround her two homes — Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu– where she lived until 1984. View the largest single repository of her work at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the 19th Smithsonian museum, is set to open in Washington, DC, in 2015. At Wednesday’s ground-breaking ceremony on the National Mall, President Obama said the museum will rose on ground where “lives were once traded, where hundreds of thousands once marched for jobs and for freedom. It was here that the pillars of democracy were built often by black hands.”
The museum, a 7-level structure with much of its exhibit space below ground, will sit between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History. According to the new museum’s director, Lonnie Bunch, it will be the new home for more than 30,000 artifacts, including Harriet Tubman’s shawl, a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car and Emmett Till’s casket, as well as galleries devoted to military, sports and entertainment history.