Make It Your Own: How Reward Programs Help Tailor Your Next Dream Vacation
Travel What a hotel rewards program can do to personalize your stay and upgrade your experience.
Swap Spring Showers For Sand And Sea Salt In Bermuda
Don’t let the swashbuckler’s tales about the Bermuda Triangle steal away your attention; this island paradise is a perfect blend of British colonial and the “three S” lifestyle — that’s sea, sand and sun. If you’ve never been, take advantage of the smaller spring crowds and off-peak deals. Start the day gallivanting with a trip to one of the island’s spread of golf courses — Bermuda is home to the highest concentration of courses per square mile in the world with seven colonizing the island’s 21-square miles. Insider info: the Mid Ocean Club and Port Royal are crowd pleasers. Next, explore the winding, cobbled streets and sleepy colonial architecture of St. George’s Parish, the oldest, continually inhabited British settlement in the new world and a scenic UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the noon sky hangs overhead, bask in the sunshine like the early colonists would by sipping tea and feasting on baked scones at The Afternoon Tea. If civility sounds boring, forego the tea and instead sample the island’s long history of rum at The Swizzle Inn on Bailey’s Bay in Hamilton or go for an early dinner at the 350-year-old Southampton mainstay the Waterlot Inn. For those whose “rest and relaxation” translates into “retail therapy”, peruse the block of shops on Front Street in Hamilton. Be sure to visit the historic A.S. Coopers — first established in 1897. And if you’re lucky enough to be on the island for Good Friday, be sure to watch the locals in Southampton Parish fly their beautiful handmade kites at Horseshoe Bay, part of an Easter tradition.
Watch Spring Blossom In D.C.
If you’ve never caved to the allure of a springtime promenade along the National Mall — between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol — now’s the perfect time. March 20th marked the beginning of a three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival where more than 3,000 of the flowers bloom, spilling out from the very pores of the city. The blossoms act as a backdrop to the Washington Monument where nearby Sylvan Theatre features free entertainment from a revolving cast of both domestic and international stage shows and martial arts performances. Follow it up by renting a paddleboat and taking an afternoon glide along the Tidal Basin. Even if you miss the cherry blossom festival, a trip to the apex of American influence isn’t complete without exploring the White House, the string of memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and the Vietnam and Korean Wars, as well as the National Gallery of Art, National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Holocaust Museum. All are within walking distance and can be explored over a few days if you find a spot to stay in the heart of the American dream. If crowds aren’t your style — more than 700,000 visit each year to admire the Japanese flowers — visit one of the trendier neighbourhoods like Dupont Circle, home to a spread of high-end restaurants where you can live like a local and brush shoulders with senators and suits alike. If you’re looking for a little more cultural diversity, visit Little Ethiopia in the Shaw neighbourhood for some offbeat shopping and uniquely delicious eats.
Experience European-style Luxury In Quebec
Tucked at the foot of the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, Mont Tremblant is an impossibly idyllic taste of the European Alps in Canada. Sure they might not tower quite like the Alps, but you’d be remiss to tell the difference in culture as you traipse amongst the Quebecois village’s pastel-swatched abodes and buildings. Stay in the heart and you’ll never need a car to get around the pedestrian-friendly streets. If you’re a skier and visit while the hills are still dusted with powder, Mont Tremblant has some of the best runs in Canada but there’s also nothing quite like staring down the Laurentians from the seat of a gondola or rosy-cheeked rides on the back of dogsleds. Après-ski is when Mont Tremblant really starts to tremble, with sore-calved skiers and locals alike convening at one of the many restaurants in the village like Le Shack or Le Petit Caribou. But the resort isn’t just for those willing to bomb down hills with planks attached to their feet, Mont Tremblant’s green begins to peek through in the spring, turning into a playground for the outdoorsy-types with hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Visiting in the late spring is a perfect time for golfers to test their mettle at Le Diable, a 7,056-yard, 18-hole course. There’s also nearby Le Géant. And when you’re ready to soak those achy muscles, be sure to visit one of the many Scandinavian spas littered throughout the village.
For those craving something a little more exotic, why not take a springtime sojourn overseas? In Shanghai, the lines blur between the old worlds and new, creating a spectacular clash of 21st century living with Mainland China traditions. To put yourself at the epicentre, stay near The Bund — Shanghai’s colonial riverside lined with historic buildings along the Huangpu River. Nearby Nanjing Road offers one kilometre of pedestrianized boulevard with world-class shops huddled together. For a more traditional shopping experience visit the Yuyuan Bazaar. For a taste of the lux life, no place in the world exemplifies extravagance quite like Dubai. The independent city-state is the most modern and progressive of the United Arab Emirates. From the air, the manmade Palm Jumeirah island juts out into the Persian Gulf and is favoured by European tourists for its easy beach access. You could easily spend a week divided between exploring the mansions dotting the islands palm leaves, bathing in the gulf and hopping from restaurant to the shops concentrated at the centre. Be sure to steal a peek of the nearby Jumeirah Mosque. And then there’s always Barcelona, the cradle of Spain’s Catalan culture. With its endless beaches and surreal Gaudi architecture, Barcelona is one of the best places in Europe to lose sleep. Explore the city’s winding, cobblestoned streets of Ciutat Vella (“Old City”), stroll along the pedestrianized Las Ramblas for shopping and grab a bite from La Boqueria market. Visit Gaudi’s Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia and you’ll never want to leave.
Be A Part Of The Club
Travelling can be disorienting. You’re surrounded by strangers in new places with cultural nuances you’ve yet to discover. Becoming a member of a hotel loyalty program can give you the feeling of home. Imagine that, a hotel knowing you, personalizing your experience and helping you get the most out of your stay. Although the hospitality industry has built itself around making you feel special, hotel loyalty programs have upped their game as of late. Much like frequent-flier programs, signing up is often free and lets you build status when you stay. Translation: show your loyalty and you’re all the more likely to get free perks like upgraded rooms and flexible check-in and check-out times. In recent years, hotel loyalty programs have started expanding beyond the realm of in-hotel experiences like member spa discounts and free shoe shines to allowing members to trade in points for gift certificates, events, and sometimes even airline tickets. They can also open you up to new experiences, tell you stories of exotic locations and insider information to help you stay on budget. And the best part is — you don’t have to be a road warrior to get the best returns on your loyalty card, you just need to be a part of the club.