If you’re anything like me, and every other New Yorker I know, the thought of spending most summer weekends in the city is nothing short of anxiety provoking. With excessive heat literally oozing from every building in existence and no way to hit the beach without the hideous traffic or too-uncomfortable-for-words subway ride in beach gear, staying organized and well-informed about any potential vacations can feel like a full time job.
Luckily for you, the sun’s permanent presence these days has heightened my vacation wishes and led to this elongated round-up of the summer’s best travel plans. For some, a getaway might simply mean a hotel in a different neighborhood than yours. Others may fantasize about another USA locale or a beautiful Caribbean beach. And the real big dreamers (with big paychecks) think Europe. Well, there is something for everyone this summer so let’s start with the east coast and work our way towards your Italian ambitions.
Nashville is the perfect in-country getaway! Walk the same halls where Elvis recorded, visit the Grand Ole Opry where Cash sang, or have a beer and a burger at the famous honky tonks. Plus, the city’s versatility makes it an obvious choice for any last minute trip; you can go for two days or two weeks, and there are different attractions suitable for a girls’ weekend, guys’ getaway or a family vacation.
It’s pretty hard to choose my favorite part about Nashville, and with the All Access Pass, you won’t have to make that tryingly difficult choice either. For $50, you can choose 4 must-see attractions from a long list of activities. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and grab a back stage tour at the Grand Ole Opry. Or, travel off the beaten path and sip wine at the beautiful Belle Mead Plantation and soak in the southern-ness with a Redneck Comedy Tour. Visit http://www.visitmusiccity.com/tripplanning/vacationpackages to combine this All Access Pass with a hotel, or find another vacation package to suit your Deep South desires.
St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida
The 35-mile stretch of beach between St. Pete and Clearwater has broken Guinness World Records for consecutive days of sun and was recently noticed by tripadvisor.com as home to four of the best beaches in the US. And despite this natural draw for visitors, they only seem to be heightening their desirability with the “100 Days of Summer” campaign.
They’ve not only provided a day-by-day calendar with events like hang gliding, sky surfing, and a series of concerts by famed musicians Billy Idol, Martina McBride and Carly Rae Jepsen (to name a few), but they are also offering resort and hotel deals averaging 23 percent less than their peak March rates. Just a 30 minute drive from Tampa International Airport and home to the highly distinguished Dali Museum, this neighborhood as been beloved by families, friends and honeymooners alike as a prime vacation spot.
The amazing deals being offered include romantic bed and breakfasts with champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries, hotels with unlimited water sports, complimentary nights at resorts and even an “MLB Pitcher’s Package.” To find out what exactly a pitcher’s package includes and to view a full list of their many lodging deals, visit http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/deals.
“Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take you to Bermuda, Bahama…” Ok, I don’t actually personally want to take you, but put that song on, whip yourself up a daiquiri and get ready for these amazing Caribbean vacation deals!
Just like the song, let’s start with Aruba. The Hyatt Regency Aruba is celebrating their location outside the hurricane belt as hurricane season sets in with a variety of special deals, starting with rates as low as $350. Plus, guests booking their vacation this summer get the fifth night free! Families who need two rooms need not fret either, as the Hyatt’s special package also gives 50% off an additional room for children 18 years old or under.
Even better than the low rates is what you get to do once you’re there! Enjoy the resort’s multi-level pool complex with its’ three-story waterslide, water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling, or the on-site casino. Mexicado, Aruba’s first authentic Mexican restaurant just opened on-site and the recently revealed 5,200 square-foot ZoiA Spa features indoor and outdoor luxurious spa treatments. And of course, every vacation requires a swim-up bar. Or they should. The Hyatt Regency doesn’t disappoint with its recently renovated Balashi Bar, located in the complex’s three-story pool.
You’ve heard of restaurant week–the best of all weeks, in my own personal opinion. But now there seems to be competition with the First Annual Hotel Week Caribe. The same people who brought you January’s Hotel Week NYC are now presenting 40% off lodging deals in Puerto Rico from August 1- 31, 2013. The rates will be based on a tier system, with prices of $100, $150, $200, or $250. See full rates and contact details below:
|HOTEL||LOCATION||RATE*||PHONE NUMBER/ WEB SITE/HOW TO BOOK|
|Condado Palm Inn & Suites||San Juan, PR||$100||787-721-9500, mention “Hotel Week” for special rate|
|Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde||San Juan, PR||$150||www.marriott.com/sjuiv, use promo code “FLP” for special rate or call 1-800-791-2553|
|Doubletree San Juan||San Juan, PR||$150||Use booking code “PK9” online at https://secure.hilton.com/en/dt/res/choose_dates.jhtml?spec_plan_desc=Hotel%20Week%20Caribe&spec_plan=LDTPK9&hotel=SJUDTDT|
|CopamarinaBeach Resort & Spa||Guanica, PR||$150||1-800-468-4553, mention “Hotel Week” for special rate|
|La Concha, A Renaissance Resort||San Juan, PR||$200||www.laconcharesort.com/puerto-rico-vacation-deals-en.html or call 1-888-236-2427 and ask for special rate|
|El Convento||Old San Juan, PR||$250||787-723-9020, mention “Hotel Week” for special rate|
“Better Tomorrows” Escapes: Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Bahamas and St. John
If you’re looking for alternative Caribbean locales, or the specific hotels above aren’t your brand of sunscreen, have no fear because there are vacation deals to spare. In celebration of June being National Outdoors Month, the Starwood Caribbean Hotels and Resorts are offering 40% off every other night you stay at one of their participating hotels. Plus, nightly rates are as low as $157. Here is a list of participating hotels and their individuals perks:
- Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino
- Located in the heart of San Juan, step from the antique cobblestone streets
- Keep your heart rate pumping with San Juan’s “Rent the Bicycle” and travel the city’s historic streets via one of the many bike tours, with stops along the city’s iconic Spanish forts and Atlantic coast
- Book nightly rates starting at $157 through www.sheratonpuertoricohotelcasino.com, or by calling 1-800-325-3535 and mentioning the promotion code “ZB4” Additional details can also be found at facebook.com/Sheraton.Puerto.Rico.Convention.District or @SheratonPR
- Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino
- Located on Cable Beach in the Bahamas
- Their complimentary water sports include kayaking, windsurfing , and water biking
- Guests can live on the wild side with the property’s “Shark Dive Adventure”- professional shark caretakers bring guests on two separate underwater dives and teach the divers how to feed and swim with wild sharks
- Slightly less heart-racing, but still exciting adventures are offered through the hotel’s “Dolphin Encounters”
- This Better Tomorrows offer starts as low as $179 per night and also includes the 40% off for additional nights special through August 15, 2013
- Book this deal online atwww.sheratonnassau.com, or by calling 1-888-627-7812 and mentioning the promotion code “ZB4.” Additional details can also be found at www.facebook.com/SheratonNassau or on Twitter @SheratonNassau
- W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island
- The hotel caters to adventure-seekers, offering guests every island adventure, from snorkeling and kayaks to bicycles and diving tours
- Book this “Better Tomorrows” package and receive 40% off an additional night for every night booked at a regular rate
- Rates start as low as $329 a night through August, 2013
- Book at www.wvieques.com, or call 1-787-741-4100 and mention the promotion code “ZB4.” Additional information can be found atfacebook.com/WVieques or on Twitter @W_Vieques
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto
- Located at the foot of El Yunque National Rainforest, the property is a nature-filled complex with hiking trails and nature walks offered daily
- Bike and kayak rentals are complimentary and can be used to see the entire reserve
- An on-property golf course and vast tennis facilities offer plenty of options for the athletic travelers
- The hotel’s “Suite Luxury” package starts at rates of $730 per night and guest will also receive 40% off their second night
- Book online at atwww.stregisbahiabeach.com, or by calling 1-787-809-8000 and mentioning the promotion code “ZB4.” Additional information can be found at facebook.com/stregisbahiabeach or @StRegisBB
- The Westin St. John Resort & Villas
- Located on 47 tropical acres of the U.S. Virgin Islands, directly on the Great Cruz Bay
- All non-motorized sports are complimentary for guests and the on-bay location is perfect for boating excursion, snorkeling, diving, sailing, windsurfing, parasailing, and fishing
- Their “Spring into Giving Back” program offers complimentary transfers to the Virgin Islands Nation Park, a forest that comprises 2/3 of the island. Guests can choose to volunteer at the park for half a day and receive a $100 resort credit in return for the philanthropy
- Guests booking the “Better Tomorrows” package will receive 40% an additional night for every night booked at a regular rate and nightly rates start at $309
- Book at www.westinresortstjohn.com, or by calling 1-340-693-8000 and mention the promotion code “ZB4.” Additional details can also be found at facebook.com/WestinStJohn
- The Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba
- Located on Palm Beach, this resort offers countless summertime fun including deep sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling
- Three-mile Complimentary bike tours are offered to all guests and held every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 – 10am
- The Westin Resort & Casino boasts an 8,600 sq. ft. free-form swimming pool and offers nighttime fun for the whole family, with events like “Movie Nights by the Pool” or Stargazing
- Guests booking the “Better Tomorrows” package will receive 40% off an additional night for every night booked at a regular rate and rates start as low as $199 nightly through December 20th, 2013
- Book online at www.westinaruba.com, or by calling 1-877-782-0149 and mentioning the promotion code “ZB4.” Additional details can also be found at facebook.com/WestinAruba or on Twitter @WestinAruba
St. Petersburg, Russia
Take a serious step into luxury with Rocco Forte’s Hotel Astoria brand new 35,000 square feet Czar Suite. With views over looking the breathtaking St. Isaac’s Square and just steps from so many iconic St. Petersburg attractions, the Czar Suite is a once in a lifetime experience. Its remodeling, in celebration of the hotel’s 100th birthday, has combined the ancient history of the city with the edginess of its people. With antique decorative pieces dating back to President Putin’s Konstantinovsky Palace in 1912 to dramatic black and white opera prints displayed throughout the room, this 6th floor suite also includes:
- Lounge overlooking St. Isaac’s Square
- Library stocked with over 300 Russian classics
- Fully-equipped kitchen and bar area and a dining room seating up to 16 guests that can also be converted into a board room
- Gym with dedicated treatment area
- Bedroom with dedicated dressing area and double walk-in wardrobe
- Marble bathroom with double shower and flat screen TV
- Interconnecting sliding doors
Needless to say, the Hotel Astoria can feel more like a lush home than a temporary hotel room. Plus, their 50 newly renovated junior suites guarantee you’ll find something to fit your taste. Let’s not forget about their highly refurbished restaurant and bar, whose food is overseen by celebrated chef Aram Mnatsakanov and plush décor is ridden with photographs of 60s and 70s-era musicians. So it’s really not a question of whether you should go or not, but rather a decision of if you want to leave the hotel at all once you get there.
Who doesn’t dream of fresh mozzarella, sailing the Mediterranean, designer clothing and lush hotels? I’m sure there are people who don’t, but certainly no one I want to know, because these images are the very pieces of my travel yearnings. And for those of you with equally high standards, Italy is offering insanely unique opportunities to fulfill these exact vacation fantasies with an unmatchable amount of flair.
Pair that fresh mozz with pheasant or boar caught by you on a hunting excursion at Ville Le Rose. The fresh game is then prepared by a renowned chef at the 15-century villa, where dinner is followed by a private tour around the property’s winery. Book your catch-and-it-eat it getaway at http://www.lungarnocollection.com/en/the-collection/florence/villa-le-rose/.
Or, hunt for truffles at Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia. Follow the hotel experts and their sidekick truffle-hunting dogs to uncover the culinary treasure, and enjoy a four-course lunch comprised of those very same self-caught delicacies. Missing out on anything with truffles is pure travesty, so make sure you get yours right from the source at http://www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com/EN/hotel-milan
Tuscany’s new Swan 90 Solleone sailing yacht carries you and three friends through the Mediterranean with a fresh feast made of local seafood and wine. The waters await at http://www.lungarnocollection.com/en/the-collection/tuscany/swan-sailing-yacht/the-world-of-nautors-swan/swan-90-s-solleone-mediterranean.html.
Or visit http://www.cwadventure.com/ to travel the country’s back roads and antique streets with a self-guided cycling adventure.
It is often said that fashion is art and if anything proves that true, it’s the Ferragamo Creations. Visit http://www.lungarnocollection.com/suites-collection/ferragamos-creations.html to see how you can relish in the collection’s beauty and bring home some of the iconic items for yourself.
Hotel Principe Di Savoia is a fashionistas heaven, with private tours and luncheon at Versace, Valentino and Gucci. See the fantastic fashion details at http://www.hotelprincipedisavoia.com/EN/hotel-milan.
Hotel Punta Tragara is the last cliff-side villa in Capri and provides guests with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. If that alone doesn’t convince you to book your trip, this 1920s villa has hosted Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower. Let’s be honest, if it’s good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for you. Follow in the steps of these classy men at http://www.hoteltragara.com/en/
If you’re more tough-guy than classy man, visit one of the largest gladiator arenas while staying at Hotel Palazzo Manfredi. The hotel is located on the same ruins that held the ancient games and visitors can still see the original gladiator barracks on-site. Discover the Russell Crowe within you at http://www.palazzomanfredi.com/en/.
The best part of Europe (after the food, of course) is its history. Indulge in Naple’s historic side with a night or two at its’ 9th Century Hotel Caesar Augustus, which also conveniently offers panoramic views of the Bay of Naples. It’s regal design and luxurious updates will make any visitor feel like a member of royalty. Put your tiara on and book a trip at http://www.caesar-augustus.com/.
Now that we’ve got you covered this summer the only question is, which vacation will you choose?