Monday, February 21, 2011

New Cruise Ships For You to Try

The new, 2,500-passenger Disney Dream has gotten the most attention recently since it is one of the newest ships out there. From everything I have heard, the atmosphere and amenities on this new ship are truly different. Forty percent larger than the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, the Dream features a combination waterslide and rollercoaster called “The Aquaduck", several live shows, and a neat trick: inside cabins have an “outside” view via cameras shooting the outside deck.
Another new cruise ship on the scene is Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The gigantic, 5,400-passenger ship has a lot of fun offerings for adults and kids alike, including an adults-only solarium, nightclubs and casinos. For kids, Allure has an Adventure Ocean Theater and Science Lab, several teen areas, and a nursery for babies. And the ship’s two-story Loft Suites are equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows and upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, according to All Things Cruise.
Next time, we will talk about some of the other exciting ships coming out this year. What is your favorite ship to sail on?
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Orlando's Best of the Best

Cafe Tu Tu Tango
While I have already reviewed Orlando’s favorite sushi spots and top new restaurants, today we are talking about the best restaurants of their type. For example, the best German food – from personal experience – can be found at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café in downtown Sanford. In addition to the yummy spaetzle and cheesy potato pancakes, the authentic German beer hall will leave you make you feel giddy. Polka bands lead guests in cheers such as “Ziggy Zaggy, oy, oy, oy” and pass around the beer boot. Meanwhile, the best tapas eateries are Mi Tomatina Paella Bar in Winter Park (see January 11 post) and Cafe Tu Tu Tango on International Drive in Orlando. Locals and tourists love the food at Tu Tu Tango - and the ability to watch artists paint.

My other favorites - as recommended by friends and family - are: 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park for best barbecue and Lac Viet Bistro on Colonial Drive for best Vietnamese. Also, a friend recommended Thai House of Orlando – also on Colonial – for the tastiest Thai dishes in town. Where are your favorite places to eat in the city?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dripping in Chocolate

February is National Chocolate Month – the best kind of celebration! Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, based in San Francisco, is allowing its guests to celebrate chocolate all month long with complimentary chocolate-themed events. Participating Kimpton restaurants will feature at least two chocolate-loving desserts on their menu throughout February. And on February 17, Kimpton will celebrate “Chocolate Lover’s Day” in its hotel living rooms, by offering complimentary chocolate desserts, tastings, hor d-oeuvres, and Kimpton’s “ultimate” hot or chilled chocolate drinks. The boutique hotel chain is also providing some unique chocolate recipes at
Celebrating chocolate makes sense to me. It contains components that raise the serotonin levels in the brain, thereby making us happier…and more in the mood. In addition, dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavinoids, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How to Get Engaged on Valentine's Day

Woodlands Inn
It is the most romantic time of the year – and the time that many couples get engaged . As such, why not get some help with the proposal from your favorite hotel? Most hotel staff members are happy to help plan engagements, but Woodlands Inn, a resort in Charleston, S.C., is going above and beyond with engagement assistance. It recently started a “Betrothal Butler” service, which is complimentary to guests of the hotel and is provided year-round. The Betrothal Butler offers advice on special delivery of the ring and creative dinner menu choices, and takes photos of the romantic moment.

Another unique hotel package for February is Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel and Spa’s “Star-Crossed Lover’s Package” with features overnight accommodations, a beach blanket under the stars with dessert for two along with a bottle of champagne and a sky map for star-gazing, and take-home tarot cards. Rates for the package start at USD 399 per night.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Where to Stay and Eat in San Francisco

Everyone stuck in their homes during some of the worst blizzard conditions in history this week are dreaming about that warm and tropical vacation that they are ready to take now. Fortunately, there are plenty of beautiful locales – tropical and otherwise - to visit in the U.S.
Westin St. Francis
Heavy snowfalls this year have produced wonderful skiing conditions in Colorado and other states. For example, Breckenridge, CO, recently received two feet of snow in 24 hours. Just check the flights going in and out of Breckenridge because of flight problems at other U.S. airports.
One of my favorite cities to visit in the world is San Francisco. Yes, it is cool this time of year, but it is not be the deafening cold, snow and ice of many other states. My favorite place to stay in the city is the Westin St. Francis Union Square. I love the luxury of the guest rooms, but the view of the park below is also amazing. The best about this hotel is its close proximity to the upscale Nob Hill area of San Francisco. When you visit the city, do not miss this neighborhood, which features a multitude of European-style cafes. A few to try are: Le Colonial, Gallery Café, and Nob Hill Café.
We will have more soon on a very tropical locale in the U.S. – Hawaii!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Miss. Gulf Coast's Best Seafood Restaurants

Vrazels Fine Food
Let’s start out the great month of February by discussing some of the best food in the U.S. It can be found at fine dining restaurants and shacks scattered throughout the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Traditional southern and Cajun cuisine is alive and well here, and the fresh seafood is astounding: you can buy raw or Cajun-boiled shrimp and crawfish right at the dock.
I also recommend that you try the food at these wonderful restaurants: Catfish Charlie’s in Gulfport, which has the best fried catfish and country-fried dills; Vrazels in Gulfport, a fine dining and seafood eatery that re-built after Hurricane Katrina; Mary Mahoney’s Old French House in Biloxi, a 48-year-old institution that features Gourmet Seafood Gumbo, fried soft shell crabs, and stuffed flounder; and White Cap Seafood Restaurant, on the water in Gulfport, which serves soft shell crab sandwiches, a variety of po’ boys, fried oysters, and Gulf shrimp.
Mary Mahoney's
Kudos to these restaurants for supporting the Gulf fishing industry during and after the BP oil spill. Also, while you are visiting the Gulf Coast – enjoying the food, beaches, and fishing – do not forget about the entertainment. Biloxi is home to major casinos such as The Beau Rivage, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. The casinos draw top acts including David Copperfield, Liza Minnelli, and Tony Bennett.