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New York Hilton

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MGM Grand

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San Antonio Zoo

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Accommodations • Attractions • Events • Destinations

A Texas Treasure

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Summer Edition - 2014

Rio San Antonio Cruises - San Antonio, Texas


Sight See San Antonio!! Free map “I was here for a convention so didn’t have much time but the City Sightseeing Double Decker Tour was a fantastic way to see it all in an hour - just do it!”

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FREE DOWNTOWN MAP!

One Hour Tour, With Commentary, No Booking Needed Just Hop On !!!

PAY ON BOARD!

210 224 8687 ● Air Conditioned Buses

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San Antonio San Antonio Tours All Day, Every Day S LONDON ST YLE DOUBLE DEC K ER

Every 15 Minutes!

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Stops Including Famous Haunted Menger Hotel Alamo Plaza La Villita

8 English Commentary

HemisFair Park

Guiness World Record Museum Ripley´s Haunted Adventure

Tel: 210 224 8687 (TOUR)

Please note City authorities do not allow us to mark

our bus stops but we do stop as advertised!

Example Popular Bus Stops:

Alamo Plaza Menger Hotel at 9.30am, 9.45, 10.00, 10.15, 10.30, 10.45, 11.00, 11.15, 11.30, 11.45, 12.00, 12.15pm, 12.30, 12.45, 1.00, 1.15, 1.30, 1.45, 2.00, 2.15, 2.30, 2.45, 3.00, 3.15, 3.30, 3.45, 4.00, 4.15, 4.30, 4.45, 5.00, 5.15, 5.30.

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El Mercado Farmer’s Market 10.00am, 10.15, 10.30, 10.45, 11.00, 11.15, 11.30, 11.45, 12.00, 12.15pm, 12.30, 12.45 1.00, 1.15, 1.30, 1.45, 2.00, 2.15, 2.30, 2.45, 3.00,3.15, 3.30, 3.45, 4.00, 4.15, 4.30, 4.45, 5.00.

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HemisFair Park 10.15am, 10.30, 10.45, 11.00, 11.15, 11.30, 11.45, 12.00, 12.15pm, 12.30, 12.45, 1.00, 1.15, 1.30, 1.45, 2.00, 2.15, 2.30, 2.45, 3.00, 3.15, 3.30, 3.45, 4.00, 4.15, 4.30, 4.45, 5.00, 5.15.

Tour takes approx. 45-50 minutes if you stay on board.

Market Square - El Mercado San Fernando Cathedral

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Across From The Alamo

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River Walk

Antonio

S LONDON ST YLE DOUBLE DEC K ER

Timetable

The Alamo

5,

San Antonio

NOTE - Timetable subject to construction delays and route changes.

King William Historic District

210 224 8687 ● Air Conditioned Buses FUN BUS

If you don’t go, you’ll never know!

PAY ON BOARD !

2 AS SEEN ON TV

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Table of Contents

42

LIttle Travel Bloggers Taken in Mexico

San Antonio Zoo 8

Phoenician Resort - Scottsdale, AZ

30

Natural Bridge Caverns 10

MGM Grand- Las Vegas

32

Denton, Texas 12

New York Hilton 34

Lone Star Court 14

Conrad Hong Kong 36

Aldaco’s Restaurant

16

Sirtaj Beverly Hills 37

Fun in Port Arthur, Texas

18

Las Vegas Photo Expose

Mansion at Judges Hill - Austin, TX

22

Experiences 40

Destinations 27

Shipwreck Island 41

Marriott Kauai Lagoon 28

Christa’s Corner

Sea Pines Resort, NC

38

42

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About the Cover:

The world-famous San Antonio Riverwalk wouldn’t be the same without taking a tour via Rio San Antonio Cruises. (Photo: Edward R. Leos) www.thehotelguide.com

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...beautiful ...magical ...memorable www.riosanantonio.com

Ride the Rio

River Taxi • Private Charters • Special Events

Connect. Share.Engage

(210) 244-5700 (800) 417-4139

@riosanantonio

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The Publisher

A Word From

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ravel is the ultimate memorymaker. In the latest edition of The Hotel Guide you can get whisked away from the famed San Antonio Riverwalk all the way to Hong Kong and back. Your journey is what you make of it and our magazine aims to help you escape. Texas boasts the 100 year anniversay of the San Antonio Zoo along with incredible equine beauty in Denton. Still want something fun to do in the Lone Star State? Head on over to Port Arthur and partake in a myriad of incredible adventures. As you discover new places, how about the MGM Grand’s new “Stay Well” suites? Perfect for that health and wellness-conscious traveler. The New York Hilton is showcasing it’s broad shoulders as the largest property in the Big Apple. Want more? Visit the Sirtaj Beverly Hills where you are minutes from the epicenter of opulence or venture to the Conrad Hong Kong. Both properties boast an impeccable array of amenities and are memory-making stays in and of itself. Ever wondered what it’s like being the child of a travel blogger? Check out Christa’s Column as she sits down with three pint-size travelers who revel in what makes our business so much fun. For great story ideas or to be a part of our “Experiences” section, send me a personal e-mail by clicking here. Looking for great hotel deals? Remember that you can book all of your travel from our website or by simply clicking here. Happy Travels!

www.thehotelguide.com

Edward R. Leos Publisher

Jennifer Leos

Associate Publisher

Christa Thompson

Senior Travel Writer

Katherine Belarmino Nicole Connolly Michael Wright Travel Writers

Daniel Leos Illustrator

Deanna Barrett Carla Ferrer Little Fairytale Traveler Margo Gonzalez Huckabay Chriselda Pacheco Nan Palmero Contributors

Contact Information:

The Hotel Guide P.O. Box 592418 San Antonio, TX 78259

Toll-free

(877) HTL-GDE1 phone (210) 857-2003 info@thehotelguide.com www.thehotelguide.com

Special Thanks to:

• Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority • Denver Convention & Visitor’s Bureau • Texas Department of Tourism • Texas Department of Transportation • Texas Hotel and Lodging Association • Texas Travel Industry Association • Las Vegas CVB • Austin CVB • Tyler CVB •GalvestonCVB • Houston CVB • Corpus Christi CVB • New Braunfels CVB • El Paso CVB • Lubbock CVB • Granbury CVB • San Antonio CVB

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San Antonio Zoo

Celebrating 100 Years In 1914, Woodrow Wilson was the president of the United States, popular music was ragtime, jazz, and the blues, and we drove around in a “Tin Lizzie,” a Ford Model T touring car. 1914 was an exciting year in many regards, but it would come to be a monumental year for the San Antonio Zoo.  That year, Colonel George W. Brackenridge deeded a scenic plot of land to the City of San Antonio for the public viewing of elk, buffalo, deer, several monkeys, two lions, and four bears.  Thanks to the visionaries of that era, that small plot of land has grown to 56 acres and is home to over 9,000 animals of 750 species.  They did well to preserve all that nature and the good will of Colonel Brackenridge had to offer.   100 YEARS OF TRANSFORMATION The San Antonio Zoo has experienced many exciting groundbreaking opportunities in its’ first 100 years.  Just after the San Antonio Zoological Society was formed in 1928, the introduction of revolutionary cageless exhibits and rare animals quickly transformed the San Antonio Zoo into one of the leading zoos in the nation; a position it proudly maintains to this day.   The zoo is a place where families come to relax and enjoy themselves, where memories are made, and where imaginations run wild. Where else can you see the world’s largest reptiles, hear the haunting calls of gibbons swinging high in the sky, watch an okapi pluck leaves with its foot-long tongue, or meet a hippo face to face?  OVER A HALF A CENTURY From its work with whooping cranes that began in the 1950s, to a partnership with Texas Parks & Wildlife

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in supporting the endangered Attwater’s prairie chicken in the 1990s, the zoo has an established history of Texas conservation. Overall, the zoo participates in over 230 endangered species programs and plays a major role in breeding endangered animals worldwide. GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS  Today, new exhibits are just as groundbreaking as those unveiled in the 1920s. Consider the underwater viewing and immersive experience of Africa Live! Phase I, the lush vegetation and sky-high aviary of Africa Live! Phase II, or the spacious and natural habitat of Gibbon Forest. This year the Zoo launches Zootennial Plaza, which includes a one-of-akind, 50-foot carousel that displays meticulously handpainted animal figurines, such as a whooping crane, horned lizard, and even a Texas Jackelope.  The plaza also boasts a beautiful, state-of-the-art restaurant, complete with an Executive Chef, a first for the San Antonio Zoo, and an elegant VIP room. WILD SINCE 1914  One hundred years later and looking into the future, the San Antonio Zoo provides the highest standard of care for its animal and plant collection, a diverse educational and high quality recreational experience, and all the resources at its disposal for conservation of the Earth’s flora and fauna. For more information, visit the San Antonio Zoo online at

www.sazoo.org

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Natural Bridge Caverns

pick Texas’ Largest Underground Adventure s

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fascinating trip awaits guests of NATURAL BRIDGE CAVERNS, the largest show cave in Texas. What makes the Discovery Tour so awe-inspiring? The caverns, located in the Texas Hill Country and minutes from San Antonio, contain cave formations that are centuries in the making and still growing today. In March of 1960, four college students from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio obtained permission to explore the area. Lured by an amazing 60-foot limestone bridge and a large sinkhole, the explorers made numerous attempts to find the large underground passages they theorized were there. On their fourth expedition, Orion Knox Jr. felt a cool draft from a rubble-filled crawlway. Such air currents often indicate the presence of additional rooms or passages. Upon clearing this 60foot crawlway, the explorers made their way through two miles of vast cavern passage before returning to the surface to tell the landowners of their amazing discovery. The discoverers knew immediately what an astonishing find they had made and the land owners decided to develop the first ½ mile, the most spectacular part of the caverns, for the enjoyment of guests from around the world. Natural Bridge Caverns’ Discovery Tour was developed with two main goals in mind: preservation of the cavern system and comfort of its guests. The result is one of the world’s premier show caverns. The Discovery was opened to the public on July 3, 1964 and dedicated by Texas Governor John B. Connelly as a “Jewel in the crown of Texas’ attractions.” Natural Bridge Caverns has also been designated a State Historical Site and a Registered National Natural Landmark.

Guided Tours Your guided tour, which takes approximately 75 minutes, will take you through vast underground rooms. Discover Sherwood Forest, the Castle of the White Giants and the Hall of the Mountain King, a room the size of a football field. Amazing delicate crystalline formations and gigantic stone monuments fill these beautiful underground chambers. Since Natural Bridge Caverns opened to the public, hundreds of thousands of guests from all over the world have enjoyed the Discovery Tour. You are invited to see this spectacular natural wonder, too. For more information, visit Natural Bridge Caverns online at www.naturalbridgecaverns.com.

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Denton, Texas

McCutcheons Crown Horse Country

he day is blue sky and sun, early morning temps typical of Texas July. The north edge of Denton recedes in the rearview mirror and the road ahead dips and curves into rolling green terrain, lush after recent rains. Carefully painted wood, pipe and wire fences hem in wide pastureland on the left, the right, and beyond view far ahead. Ranchstyle houses dot hilltops clustered by even larger barns and multiple outbuildings. Horses graze and frolic completing the peaceful scene that is Denton County’s largest agricultural industry. Horse Country Denton city is just minutes out of sight, and we are in the heart of the North Texas Horse Country, home to more than 350 horse farms and 25,000 horses. Every equine breed and discipline is represented among these ranches making this the most diverse equine concentration in the world. A couple of miles across the Trinity River’s Elm Fork and Greenbelt Park, spreads Green Valley Ranch, a leading ranch in the discipline and breeding of equine reining horses. Just past its entrance, a country lane meanders north through smattering remnants of tiny Green Valley, population around 50 in its peak at the turn of the 20th century. Another green McCutcheon AquaTredexpanse stretches some 200 acres behind a gate announcing Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses. This is our destination today. A paved drive leads past a modest home to a large barn fronting a mammoth covered arena. Our small entourage enters the tall doorway and steps into a lofty breezeway. Stalls line both sides, great doors open at either end. Smells of leather, hay and horseflesh mingle on the cool, fresh air. A horse nearby neighs and several nuzzles poke out of stalls to scope out the new arrivals. Award-Winning The ranch headquarters is a mini museum showcasing scores of trophies, photographs, ribbons, and saddles, all telling the story of the famous McCutcheons and their globally renown reining empire. Tom McCutcheon was born into the performing horse business, his father and brothers trainers, as well. He was a member of the

2003 USA Reining Team, winner of the Team Gold Medal at the World Equestrian Games in Spain that year. He took the Individual Gold Medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky where he was also on the gold medal winning Team USA. He will represent Team USA again this September in the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. Tom’s wife Mandy is a champion in her own right, inducted into the National Reining Horses Association Hall of Fame in 2011. She is the only woman and only non-professional reining athlete in the sport’s history to make the World Equestrian Reining team and surpass $2 million in earnings. Hard at Work Headquarters’ back wall is solid glass overlooking the arena where trainers are busy working out several steeds. One has her horse drilling tight circles. Around the arena’s edge, another is cantering, picking up speed before dashing into center ring in the famous crouched, sliding stop for which the sport is most known. Yet another is cooling down his mount to prevent sore muscles after a workout. Besides training and breeding, the McCutcheon Ranch is a premier Equine Rehabilitation Center and Spa. The ranch’s head therapist holds a woven lead for a honey-maned horse working out in the aquatred. Warm water up to his shoulders, his body moves methodically, his gait without stress on the underwater treadmill. Another therapist monitors the 35-degree saltwater bath for a huge black stallion soaking his joints, only his head visible above the bath’s walls. Back in the stalls, Gunners Special Nite shows his unique white face and translucent blues eyes. Tom’s mount in the 2010 gold medal win, this stud’s seed is most coveted among the five stallions standing now at McCutcheon’s, every purchaser hoping another whitefaced, blue-eyed foal will result. Hundreds of visitors to the North Texas Horse Country enjoy scenes like this on tours every year. It is one of our most important and impressive attractions. Behind every gate is something different from the farm across the fence. It is extraordinary and true to our brand: Denton. Original. Independent. www.DiscoverDenton.com.

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Lone Star Court

Austin’s Authentic Americana

new upscale, retro-inspired, motor court concept is coming to Austin courtesy of the Valencia Group. Nostalgia will meet modern at the Lone Star Court, with an aesthetic that’s authentically Austin and Texas Hill Country from the art in the rooms to the unique outdoor environment. According to Doyle Graham, Jr., President and CEO of the Valencia Group, “This is the most exciting new concept in the hotel industry. Lone Star Court will be a 21st century re-interpretation of the nostalgic motor court. At the same time, it will capture the essence of Austin and the Texas Hill Country; it will be one of a kind and totally unique to Texas’ capital city.” True Texas Lone Star Court will have 123 retro-inspired guest rooms with high-tech amenities. True to Austin, Lone Star Court will feature live music by an outdoor fire pit, a dipping pool reminiscent of Hill Country swimming holes, and an onsite food trailer court. Lone Star Court will draw business as well as leisure travelers to its unique “ranch-tech” property, and the restaurant and bar will be a destination for Austinites as well as visitors. A Place to Meet The property will have approximately 2,000 square feet of interior meeting space, an outdoor covered pavilion of 1,600 square feet, and an adjacent open air lawn that adds 1,800 square feet to the total available meeting space. The Valencia Group Lone Star Court is a new concept created by Valencia Group, a Houston-based company known for its luxury independent Hotel Valencias in San Antonio and San

Jose, the Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE in Houston and recently Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Why the Vintage Concept? During the early days of auto tourism beginning in the mid 1940s, roadside campsites led entrepreneurs to create quaint, cabin-like places for travelers to stay. Simple cottage camps began to evolve into more sophisticated full-service motor courts, and the number of motels in America tripled to more than 60,000 by the 1960s. The new, more modern motor courts along great American highways featured “air cooled by refrigeration,” television, coin-operated radios, tiled bathrooms, easy chairs, and Serta Perfect Sleepers. After decades of booming business, mom-and-pop motels began to disappear in 1956 with the Federal-Aid Highway Act that funded construction of the interstate highway system. With little means to move their facilities or re-route traffic, these gems of the road gave way to corporate chains staking their claims along the new highways. Lone Star Court will take visitors back to the heyday of the roadside motor court experience, where guests can discover an era of authentic Americana along with modern amenities and the excitement of Austin. More Information To find out more about Lone Star Court, visit them online at www.lonestarcourt.com.

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Aldaco’s Stone Oak

pick Award-Winning Food and More ’s

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margaritas lunch & dinner

an Antonio has long been known for incredible Mexican food and for the past 20 years, Aldaco’s has kept up the tradition. Founded by it’s namesake, Blanca Aldaco, the restaurant has won many awards for their food, delectable desserts, tasty margaritas and unforgettable ambiance. After launching the original Aldaco’s near Sunset Station and subsequently moving into the facility adjacent to the Alamodome, the restaurant has earned local, regional and national acclaim. Appetizers with a Flare If you are looking for little bit everything then you must try “La Botana” which comes with two quesadillas al carbòn, three flautas, four fried cream jalapeños, four bean & cheese nachos,guacamole and sour cream. As you gear up for dinner, the choices range from incredi-

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ble enchiladas to steaks to freshly-prepared seafood. Try the incomparable, Chile Relleno or their scrumptious Fish Tacos. Aldaco’s also offers a Gluten-Free and Celiac menu for their guests. Delectable Desserts Your dining experience isn’t complete without a serving of Blanca’s famous Original Pastel Tres Leches dessert. It is sinfully delicious and melts in your mouth. Another “dessert” that Aldaco’s is known for are their award-winning margaritas. You have to try the infamous Avacado Margarita or the Margarita Pour Off winner. Either way, if you love these tasty treats, Aldaco’s has the answer. Groups The restaurant also has a private dining room that holds up to 100 guests for those intimate gatherings. For more info, visit www.aldacos-stoneoak.com.

patio dining

Free shuttle after 5 pm 100 Hoefgen @ Sunset Station San Antonio, TX 78205 www.aldacos.net 210.222.0561 A San Antonio Tradition for 20 Years.

20079 Stone Oak Parkway San Antonio, Texas 78258 (210) 494-0561 www.aldacos-stoneoak.com Delicious Food• Open Daily for Lunch & Dinner • Award-Winning Drinks • Delectable Desserts 16

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Port Arthur, Texas Texas Hospitality Meets Cajun Charm

oaring bridges spanning scenic waterways lead to outdoor adventure filled with birding, fishing and wildlife. Port Arthur unites land and sea in Southeast Texas, where our motto is “laissez les bons temps rouler.” That translates to “let the good times roll,” and it’s our attitude for welcoming tourists to the shores of Lake Sabine. Tons of Water Nearby Port Arthur offers wetlands and Gulf beaches, salt and fresh water fishing and a comfortable year-round climate that is perfect to enjoy Sea Rim State Park, a completely natural beach. Experience our strong Cajun and other cultural influences through cuisine and music. Lots to Do... Catch the excitement at the Zachary Breaux Jazz Festival and the Buu Mon Lotus and Bamboo Festival. Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Jurassic to Joplin experience includes a replica of Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche and tributes to The Big Bopper, Jimmy Johnson, Robert Rauschenberg. Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and Queen of Peace Shrine & Gardens highlight our faith trail. Local Attractions: Museum of the Gulf Coast -Janis Joplin, Jimmy Johnson and The Big Bopper are in music and sports hall of fame here. Visit a replica of Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche, the largest indoor mural of the southwest, the original Sabine Lighthouse lens, a Robert Rauschenberg art gallery, regional history and glass and shell collection are highlights. Visit themuseumofthegulfcoast.com Pompeiian Villa - Barbed-wire King Isaac Ellwood built this pink stucco mansion in 1900. The grandiose home is a replica of a Pompeiian home of 79 A.D. with a three-sided courtyard and antiques. Hundreds of Santa

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figures adorn the mansion at Christmas.Nature Abounds Port Arthur offers wetlands and Gulf beaches, salt and fresh water fishing and a comfortable year-round climate that is perfect to enjoy Sea Rim State Park, a completely natural beach. Visit Sea Rim State Park’s West Dune Boardwalk or Gambusia Nature Trail. Sail or fish on Sabine Lake. Bird Sabine Woods, The Mcfaddin National Wildlife Refuge, and the nearby TexasPoint National Wildlife Refuge. We’re a nature lover’s paradise! Larry’s French Market and Cajun Restaurant Legendary throughout Southeast Texas for its Cajun and Creole dishes, Larry’s French Market and Cajun Restaurant is the place to come hungry and ready for zesty taste sensation. Try house specialties such a spicy crawfish etouffee, chicken and sausage gumbo, boiled seafood, boudain or fried offerings such as alligator or frog leg. The dance floor comes alive with sounds of swamp pop, Cajun and zydeco music Thursday through Saturday. Visit larrysfrenchmarket.com The area’s distinctive Cajun flavor, both musical and culinary, is on full display at Larry’s French Market and Cajun Restaurant. The feel good rhythms of live zydeco music and a large dance floor will prove irresistible to most. Larry’s draws a wide range of patrons and offers a glimpse of authentic Cajun culture, from its delectable food to its joyous, life-affirming music. Get moving to live music on the dance floor and get your mouth set for gumbo, boudain and crawfish. Visit larrysfrenchmarket. com continued on page 20

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TEXAS Our Lady of Guadalupe Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Shrine which reflects the Hispanic Culture of the region. An inspiring 17-foottall bronze statue rests atop stones brought from Mount Tepeyac in Mexico City, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego. Other Area Attractions: Shangri La Botanical Gardens is a world-class outdoor showplace that connects nature lovers with birds, bayous, herbs and butterflies. Visit Shangri La and rekindle your sense of wonder. Explore the welcome center museum, 252 acres of botanical gardens, Gift Shop & Café. Visit shangrilagardens.com Gator Country Beloved and feared, alligators are Texas’ most fascinating native creatures. GC is home to about 200 gators, including Big Al, the largest gator in captivity at 13ft long and topping 1,000 lbs. Hold a baby gator at this wildlife adventure park that is also home to crocodiles, turtles and snakes. Visit gatorrescue.com

The Spindletop Gusher spurred the largest oil boom in the USA. Visit the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum and relive the past in the reconstructed boomtown complete with oil derricks, shops, businesses and a replica gusher that blows water hundreds of feet into the air. Visit spindltop.org Swamp Tours Cruise the Blue Elbow Swamp in 22-passenger airboats. Day and night tours available. Great group discounts. Visit airboatridesinc.com Port Arthur Hotels The city has a myriad of hotels to choose from, including The Holiday Inn Park Central, The Holiday Inn Express, The Hampton Inn and Suites, La Quinta Inn and Suites, Best Inn and Suites and Comfort Inn and Suites.As well, the Jack Brooks Regional Airport is serviced by American Airlines via American Eagle. Alligator Wedding Shh.. Save the Date! Surprise your group with Port Arthur, Texas’ Alligator Wedding Ceremony and Cajun Dining Experience at Beau Reve (Beautiful Dream) fine dining restaurant More Info? For more information on Port Arthur, visit www. VisitPortArthurTx.com or e-mail Callie Summerlin, Director of Sales at 409-985-7822, Callie@poartharthurtexas. com

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of

20 Fa Ac m re ily s fu n!

On the Sand, In the Waves, In the Sun

Only 3 Minutes North of Downtown San Antonio on IH-35

(210) 227-1100 www.splashtownsa.com www.thehotelguide.com

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Mansion at Judge’s Hill

Elegance in the Texas Capital history as storied as the city T ait dwells in.

he Mansion at Judges’ Hill has

Originally built in 1900, the Mansion was a wedding gift to Goodall & Ella Wooten by Thomas Dudley Wooten, one of the founders of the University of Texas. The two both had a passion for life and they used the Mansion as a fountain of new ideas. In fact, in 1929, they hired Neiman Marcus at a cost of $10,000 (today’s estimate of $1 million) to re-decorate the home. Since its inception, this grand venue has combined the elegance of its historical roots with the vibrancy of its future. “Fluffy. Not Stuffy.” At the Mansion, you are whisked away to a timeless era with the hint of today. Each room in this fabulous boutique hotel is different, uniquely-appointed with an inviting appeal. All the rooms have a personality all their own. Even the bathrooms have texture and color to give it more style and panache. Amenities in these incredible accommodations include: 310 thread count Egyptian cotton linens, hypo-allergenic down and duvets and pillows, complimentary L’Occitane and Gilchrist & Soames custom bath products, private stocked honor bar, complimentary wireless & high-speed internet access, cable television and dvd players. Additionally, there is twice daily housekeeping services. Food for Thought. The Mansion has its own dining room that boasts a five-star chef and an impeccable array of delicacies. Here you will find an exquisite blend of International Modern and Classic Cuisines. The food is always fresh and the plates are designed to allow you to experience many tastes all in one meal.

The 1900 Lounge is open everyday from 4 pm - 11 pm and features stunning carved wood accents, intimate tables, vivid draperies and the attentive and friendly atmosphere the Mansion has come to be known for. Here you can enjoy a delicious martini, tempting frozen margarita or a glass of wine from our selections. Special Events and More. The Mansion offers groups the perfect backdrop for their events. Regardless of the formality, tastes or budget, they can weave a tapestry of simple elegance into any function. Whether it’s a business meeting, wedding reception, or conference, they can create the right atmosphere for you and your guests. The venue can accommodate up to 250 people. Contact Us For more information on this world-class, boutique hotel, visit them online at www.judgeshill.com or call (512) 495-1800.

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5 Hotels within 50 Miles

WE’VE GOT HOUSTON, KEMAH AND GALVESTON ISLAND, TX COVERED!

713.228.1520 innattheballpark.com

281.334.9880 kemahboardwalkinn.com

409.744.1500 sanluisresort.com

409.744.5000 galvestonhilton.com

409.740.5300 holidayinnresorts.com/ galveston-bch

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THE WOW FACTOR

HAS A NEW ADDRESS. Dynamic. Innovative. Impressive. Everything you want your meeting or event to be is found in one place. The Hurst Conference Center is minutes away from everything DFW has to offer. Restaurants, shops, sporting events, attractions, airports and more. Our state-of-the-art facility has over 50,000 square feet of flexible event space, with seating for up to 900 in the Grand Ballroom and 300 in Meeting Rooms. Full audio-visual presentation equipment and production is available in-house, plus wi-fi is readily accessible throughout the building. Everything you need to make a lasting impression is right here in our amenity-rich facility. Find out how the Hurst Conference Center is central to your success by contacting our sales team today.

(817) 581-0044 / info@hurstcc.com / www.hurstcc.com

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Be a part of the Texas Travel Industry Association. Join today. www.ttia.org 26

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destinations

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HI

Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons

Hawaiian Paradise

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auai is known as The Garden Island and is full of outdoor fun for active travelers. Visitors to Kauai can spend their days hiking the Na Pali Coast, snorkeling in Kauai’s warm ocean waters, kayaking the Wailua River, frolicking in the Secret Falls, or exploring sea caves. After a full day of outdoor activities, nothing is better than returning to a spacious suite where you can clean up, relax, and enjoy the sea breeze and ocean views. Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons Kalanipu’u is one of Marriott Vacation Club’s premiere timeshare properties. But you don’t have to be a timeshare owner to stay at this luxury property which hugs the coast along Kalapaki Beach. The Lagoons’ villas not being used by timeshare owners are available to all travelers to The Garden Island. Guests of Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons will enjoy luxurious villas with ocean views, lush garden grounds, access to a highly rated golf course, and more. Luxury Villas Guests can choose from luxury two or three bedroom villas built to Ritz Carlton specifications. Some are labeled oceanfront and others as island view. However, all 75 villas have ocean views. Island view villas just have more island between them and the ocean. Villas are spacious with a living room with pull-out sofa bed, a full kitchen, and dining room. Each bedroom has its own bathroom and the master suite has a walk-in closet and its bathroom has a tub, separate shower, and two sinks. The kitchen comes complete with refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, cookware, dishware, utensils, and any small appliance one could possibly need. Each villa also has its own laundry room. Upper floor villas have large balconies while ground-level villas have large patios. To reach these balconies and patios villas have wall length glass doors that accordion open to completely expose the suite to the outdoors.

Garden Property The Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons property is a lush green garden filled with plumeria, hibiscus, and other tropical flowers. Walking through these gardens guests will find a dual-level outdoor pool with a water slide that’s fun for the kids. There are also grills guests can use for barbeques and outdoor fire pits to sit around at night with a glass of wine in hand. Guests can also reach the beach from the property using one of the beach access trails. Kauai Lagoons Golf Club The Marriott Vacation Club manages the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club located on the property and green fees are reduced for guests. The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and has Hawaii’s longest continuous stretch of ocean holes. The Kauai Lagoon’s most picturesque hole is a green peninsula jutting out into the ocean on a bed of black lava rock. The course has undergone some recent renovations and improvements under the guidance of Jack Nicklaus. It is one of the best golf courses in Hawaii. Neighboring Kauai Marriott Resort The Marriott Kauai Lagoons and the Kauai Marriot Resort share the same property, separated by the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club. Marriott Kauai Lagoons guests have access to the Kauai Marriott Resort’s amenities except for the pool and beach lounges. There are a number of restaurants and bars at the Kauai Marriott Resort, and Lagoons guests can either take advantage of the free valet or use the hotels’ courtesy shuttle to travel between the two resorts. If you’re looking for spacious and luxurious accommodations in Kauai with the comforts of home, look no further than Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons. Written By: Katherine Belarmino www.katherinebelarmino.com

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Hilton Head Island

Sea Pines Resort

orty years ago, Hilton Head Island was a lightly populated barrier island accessible only by boat or ferry. Enter visionary real estate developer Charles Fraser who founded The Sea Pines Resort, fast forward to 2014, and now more than two million visitors flock to Hilton Head each year. As the first Eco-planned destination in the U. S., the focused attention given to the environment has proudly become the blueprint for other beach developments across the country. Southern Charm Steeped in gracious Southern charm and surrounded by mesmerizing seascapes along the Calibogue Sound, the resort’s best-in-class collection of accommodations, golf courses and amenities, makes Sea Pines one of the most soughtafter leisure destinations in America. With luxuries befitting the finest hotels, The Inn at Harbour Town offers first-class accommodations within the resort. This Forbes Four Star, AAA Four Diamond newly renovated 60-room boutique hotel provides an intimate atmosphere overlooking the legendary Harbour Town Golf Links. Private Villas As a delightful alternative, Sea Pines is home to 300 private villas and 100 vacation homes that make up the resort’s extensive accommodations. Ideal for families and those who prefer a thoroughly independent experience, the rentals allow guests to customize their visit to personal taste. One of the true crown jewels of American golf, The Sea Pines Resort is home to renowned Harbour Town Golf Links (home of the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage) designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, Heron Point by Pete Dye, and the Ocean Course. Harbor Town itself, with tranquil vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, is the activity hub for the entire property. With tony yachts glittering in the marina,

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prime seafood restaurants, and of course the iconic red and white lighthouse standing tall in the not-so distance – Harbour Town is easily one of the most recognizable harbors in the world. Tons of Amenities Sea Pines features an array of additional world-class amenities. The Racquet Club boasts 23 clay courts and is ranked as one of the best in the U.S. Five miles of sweeping Atlantic beaches offer everything from seakayaking to fishing to strolling hand-in-hand as the day winds down. The delightful 605-acre Forest Reserve is ideal for horseback riding, biking or wandering the many trails full of wildflowers, wetlands and more than 130 species of birds. After enthralling generations of guests and travelers for decades, the 5,000 acre plantation has recently embarked on a renaissance of sorts investing more than $60 million in renovations. A new Beach Club, Harbour Town Golf Links Clubhouse, Plantation Golf Club and renovated Inn at Harbour Town are among the resort-wide upgrades. Vacation Package The Sea Pines Resort is offering its “Escape Vacation Package” for unforgettable weeklong stays this summer through Sept. 5. Weekly rates start at $1,015 for a one-bedroom villa. The offer is packed with added value, including up to 15% off a weekly home or villa rental, $100 resort credit, free golf for children 12 and younger on the Ocean Course, complimentary 1 1/2-hour dolphin excursion cruise for children 12 and younger, one complimentary family portrait session on the beach by the certified professionals at Memory Lane Portraits and one Eco-Adventure or activity for two people at the resort or Coastal Discovery Museum at Historic Honey Horn. For more information: www.seapines.com. 29


AZ s

sher’

li Pub

pick

Luxury in Scottsdale

The Phoenician Resort

ince it first opened its doors in 1988, The Phoenician has set the standard for luxury and service in the Sonoran Desert. The AAA Five Diamond resort is a visual masterpiece, spanning 250 acres of lush gardens and dramatic desert terrain against the spectacular backdrop of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona. Tons to Offer Everyone But what truly sets The Phoenician apart is the remarkable diversity guests will find here, allowing them to create the travel experience of their dreams. Accommodations range from luxurious guestrooms to residential-style casitas. Dining can be a casually elegant affair, as found at the Italian-inspired Il Terrazzo; as informal as a refreshing salad enjoyed poolside; or as memorable as a romantic feast just for two under the stars. The world-class recreational offerings of The Phoenician’s golf, tennis and spa facilities are balanced by the more unconventional pleasures of touring the resort’s fascinating Cactus Garden or exclusive $25 million art collection; or feeding Koi at Necklace Lake Lagoon. Spacious, Elegant Accommodations The Phoenician offers guests a choice of 643 spacious accommodations from guestrooms and luxury suites to casitas with private entrances. In the main resort building, there are 450 beautifully decorated guest rooms, plus 12 luxury suites and two expansive, 3,000 square-foot presidential suites. The intimate Canyon Suites, nestled against Camelback Mountain, is a boutique resort within the resort offering guests enhanced signature services, such as a personal wake-up call served with a choice of freshbrewed tea or coffee in a sterling silver set, a seasonal amenity presented by Executive Chef Paul Carter and a Canyon Ambassador to take care of the guest’s every desire. The Canyon Suites features 20 guestrooms, 38 luxury suites and two presidential suites, as well as its own secluded “edgeless” pool and cabanas. A short stroll from the main building adjacent to the Necklace Lake Lagoon, the casitas include an additional 119 guestrooms and suites offering doorstep parking and private entrances. Award-Winning Dining The Phoenician offers seemingly endless dining options that are as diverse as they are inspired. Among the nine restaurants is Il Terrazzo, featuring authentic American-Italian cuisine; and J&G Steakhouse, showcasing a bill of fare created by world-renowned Chef

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Jean-Georges Vongerichten. For a more casual experience, the charming Café and Ice Cream Parlor serves tempting treats and light meals in a family friendly atmosphere; and the Oasis and Canyon Grills present a variety of poolside favorites; while a complete lineup of signature burgers, appetizers and desserts await at the Relish Burger Bistro. For a more traditional experience, relax to the rich temptations of Afternoon Tea in the Lobby Tea Court. Another popular gathering spot, the Thirsty Camel Lounge, serves luxury spirits, light fare and rare cigars with live piano or saxophone adding to the ambience. And for private dining, The Praying Monk offers an intimate, Renaissance-inspired setting for small parties. World-Class Leisure Pastimes At The Phoenician, world-class recreational options abound. The golf club offers 27 holes of championship play on three, nine-hole par 70 combinations designed by Homer Flint and Ted Robinson, Sr., while the 11-court Tennis Garden is the only resort facility in the Southwest to offer four playing surfaces. Guests in search of enlightenment can indulge in an array of pampering and rejuvenating spa treatments at the 22,000 square-foot Centre for Well-Being, or learn about the resort’s many treasures – both natural and cultural – with guided and self-guided tours of the two-acre Cactus Garden and The Phoenician’s $25 million art collection. More info? Visit them online at www.thephoenician.com.

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AZ

Capture the moment, as well as the imagination. With elegant accommodations, award-winning cuisine, a stunning golf course and a lavish spa, The Phoenician is where your highest expectations are met and always celebrated in style.

LIFE IS A COLLECTION OF EXPERIENCES LET US BE YOUR GUIDE thephoenician.com/offers 800 888 8234

RELISH BURGER BISTRO

IL TERRAZZO J&G STEAKHOUSE

THE CENTRE FOR WELL-BEING

Š2014 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Luxury Collection and its logo are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.

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31


Vegas

Stay Well Experience

MGM Grand

n response to guest demand for healthy travel options, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and Delos®, the pioneer of Wellness Real Estate™, recently completed an expansion of the Stay Well® room collection and introduced the new Stay Well Lounge, providing Stay Well guests a sanctuary for private registration and relaxation as well as an elevated level of service throughout their stay. Stay Well Collection Encompassing the hotel’s entire 14th floor, the Stay Well collection now includes 171 rooms and suites, including a breathtaking Skyline Marquee Suite. These unique accommodations include over 20 evidence-based health and wellness features which allow guests to maintain their healthy lifestyle practices while on the road, whether for business or leisure. “We introduced Delos’ Stay Well concept in response to guest feedback as well as current trends we were seeing in healthy travel,” said Scott Sibella, president and COO of MGM Grand. “We knew the product would be a welcomed addition in this market, and are thrilled at how quickly word has spread about how you can have the Vegas experience without giving up your commitment to healthy living.” With its serene private registration area, the

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new Stay Well Lounge serves as the starting point for a Stay Well experience. The room, equipped with an air purifier, dawn simulator alarm clock and aromatherapy, allows guests to begin their wellness journey the moment they check in. An iPad kiosk within the lounge features the new Stay Well mobile app designed to assist guests with a variety of wellness recommendations including how to reduce the effects of jetlag throughout their Vegas getaway. Delos Founder Paul Scialla said, “Las Vegas and MGM Grand have been a great market for introducing Delos’ wellness technologies

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through our Stay Well product. The expansion of the wellness experience beyond the hotel room through our new Stay Well mobile app and lounge check-in is a direct result of the strong appetite for a healthier, wellness-oriented travel experience.” With its serene private registration area, the new Stay Well Lounge serves as the starting point for a Stay Well

experience. The room, equipped with an air purifier, dawn simulator alarm clock and aromatherapy, allows guests to begin their wellness journey the moment they check in. An iPad kiosk within the lounge features the new Stay Well mobile app designed to assist guests with a variety of wellness recommendations including how to reduce the effects of jetlag throughout their Vegas getaway. The in-room Stay Well experience features: Stay Well Vitamin C Infused Shower: shower water infused with Vitamin C which neutralizes chlorine to promote healthy hair and skin Stay Well Air Purifier: the most advanced HEPA-standard air purification system reduces allergens, toxins and pathogens, creating better air quality and breathing Water Purification System: reduces disinfectant byproducts, chlorine, pesticides and some pharmaceutical and personal care products for www.thehotelguide.com

Vegas the cleanest, most purified in-room water Warm White Room Lighting: improves the body’s internal clock by assisting in the regulation of melatonin production and sleep/wake cycles Energizing Light Therapy: exposes guests to short periods of blue-shaded lighting to increase energy and reverse the effects of jetlag Stay Well Dawn Simulator: awakens the body gradually Circadian Dimmable Bedside Lighting: natural, warm-glow LED bedside lighting that can be customized to enhance sleep Nightlighting: LED lamps illuminate pathways at night without disturbing melatonin levels Black-Out Shades: supports the room’s jet lag recovery features by fully eliminating outdoor lighting sources to improve sleep quality and duration Healthy Mattress: an all-natural mattress made without harmful VOCs, toxic chemicals and offgases, which provides posture support and comfort layers to diminish pressure points, reducing tossing and turning Cedar Baseboards: natural properties keep enclosed spaces fresh and dry Aromatherapy Diffuser: optional aroma infusion for Stay Well guests EMF Shielding: protects Stay Well guests from electrical equipment that emanates sleepdisruptive Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) WELL Shield™: a photo catalytic coating applied to high-touch areas throughout the room and bathroom to break down bacteria, virus and VOCs on bacteria-susceptible surfaces Healthy In-Room Menu: offers a variety of healthy choices, most of which include natural organic ingredients rich in Omega 3 – all available 24 hours a day Mini-Bar Amenities: includes yogurt-covered raisins, raw almonds and coconut water, among other healthy items Cleveland Clinic Exclusive Access: wellness software includes stress management, sleep and nutrition programs, as well as access to healthy food/drink options developed by the Cleveland Clinic, which guests can use for up to 60 days after their stay Stay Well rooms and suites at MGM Grand are available for an upgrade of approximately $30 per night above prevailing rates and can be reserved at mgmgrand.com. 33


NY

Big Apple’s Largest Hotel

New York Hilton

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he 1,985-room New York Hilton Midtown, New York City’s largest hotel, announced today the completion of its executive level room refurbishment incorporating 187 guest rooms and 41 suites on floors 39-44 which constitutes the first phase of a complete guest room renovation program planned for the next few years. New Room Designs “The new room design features an inviting, sleek and contemporary design that will provide our guests with a tranquil oasis in the heart of the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan,” said Mark Lauer, general manager, New York Hilton Midtown. “The unique relaxed approach to the design will provide our guests with a superior room product complete with innovative flourishes including custom dimmable lighting, oversized televisions, multiple power point options, relaxing lounge opportunities and abundant workspaces. We are looking forward to completing subsequent phases of the overall room renovation over the next few years.” Beautiful Interiors Dallas based interior design firm Looney & Associates developed a distinctive design featuring a sophisticated color palette of soothing blues and greys, creating a welcoming and calming space. Warm neutral accents are introduced throughout the room, such as oil rubbed bronze and natural oak wood to provide depth and richness to this calming color palette. These subtle colors and streamlined design transform the window into the room’s artwork by focusing all attention on the views out to Manhattan. A velvet signature lounge chair paired with refined wool drapery adds a touch of luxury to the guest room design while dimmable lamps designed to resemble

glowing orbs produce abundant light and allow guests to control their own ambiance. An oversized, modern clock activates the desk wall and acts as an integral kinetic piece of artwork that keeps movement along with the electric city below. Thoughtfully simple details create a functional and intuitive room. A cantilevered work surface with maximum floor space and smart placement of power, both at the desk and bedside, allows for effortless guest access. The 55” flat screen TV offers an upgraded media experience and flexible power pucks create mobile electrical outlets throughout the room allowing guests to make the space their own. The simple bathroom design offers guests a clean and crisp grooming environment. The large illuminated mirror visually enlarges and brightens the room. The light and airy vanity style becomes the focal point of this room while still maintaining its incredible functionality. Built in shelving and stone ledges provide guests with ample counter surface for their own toiletries. The corridors have also been fully renovated utilizing

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the same soothing color palette of the guestrooms and orb-inspired white and bronze tear-drop wall sconce fixtures. “Our goal with this project was to appeal to the international traveler by developing a European design sensibility of sophisticated comfort,” said Jim Looney, president, Looney & Associates. “The final product was achieved through the day-to-day partnership with the Hilton Design team in a collaborative design process.” Other capital improvements to the hotel that were recently completed include: • The implementation of a new cabling infrastructure which supports the WiFi network. Fiber cabling was installed to every floor enabling guests with faster Internet connections. Over 1,200 Wireless Access Points (WAPs) were installed to provide coverage in all guest rooms which supports 802.11 standards. This means that users will have faster connection rates to the hotel’s wireless network, excellent signal strength for all types of devices from smart phones to laptops. • The recent renovation of all lobby level areas including a striking new reception area, a luxurious Executive Lounge, improved lighting design, and the installation of new stone flooring throughout the lobby level. • The opening of the first Herb N’ Kitchen, a new dining concept that infuses fresh, local gourmet food into an upscale restaurant and convenient culinary market with healthy fare options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Locals and travelers can choose restaurant dining at their leisure, meals packaged to take away or in-room delivery for hotel guests. Additional planned capital improvements include: • A renovation of the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, the city’s largest hotel ballroom featuring over 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting and its Foyer and Promenade scheduled to be completed by end of third quarter 2014. Walls will feature softened hues of grays, www.thehotelguide.com

NY blues and creams and carpeting will draw upon an abstract art concept of a more traditional sunburst pattern, giving a nod to the host of modern art venues surrounding the hotel. A modern, interlocking crystal ring fixture will serve as the main chandelier that will bring a more contemporary, sculptural element to the ceiling to complement and update the space. • A refurbishment of the 12,716 sq. ft. Sutton Hall and Nassau ballroom complex is also planned for completion by the end of third quarter 2014. The renovation is inspired by the dynamic midtown location of the hotel where the property serves as a crossroads for many events and meetings for hugely diverse groups. Drawing from the lights and action of the city, the carpet design is an artistic abstraction of movement. The lighting is meant to complement the linear quality of the carpet design through the use of straight, crisply crafted crystals that will be constructed in both circles and squares and hang elegantly, floating above the circulation spaces. • The guest room refurbishment project will continue for the next few years until the entire guest room inventory is completed by 2016. The first phase of the new multi-million dollar room refurbishment comes on the heels of the hotel’s 50th anniversary which was held last June. Additionally, in 2013, the hotel officially changed its name to New York Hilton Midtown from Hilton New York which focuses on and celebrates the iconic sites and attractions that midtown has to offer including Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Central Park, Carnegie Hall, Fifth Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to name just a few. Popular Property New York Hilton Midtown is popular with savvy, sophisticated international and domestic travelers. The hotel, which is a short walk from Times Square, Broadway theaters and the renowned Fifth Avenue shopping district, can accommodate large conferences and conventions, smaller meetings and elegant banquets. For more information and details, visit the hotel’s website at www.hiltonnewyorkhotel.com. 35


Hong Kong

Elegance and Luxury

Conrad Hong Kong

By: Nicole Connolly, www.suitcasestories.com

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ormerly a British colony, Hong Kong is now under the jurisdiction of China. Although the island-based city is well known for its busy ports and financial enterprises, there are many sites of historical and cultural significance to be found here. Visitors coming to Hong Kong are advised to make their journey between October and December when the weather is at its best. Anyone who ventures into this bustling town will no doubt be looking for a safe and comfortable place to spend the night. The Conrad Hotel provides this and so much more. Although this luxurious hotel is popular with business travelers, both families and couples are also made to feel very welcome here. The Suite Life... Suites at the Conrad Hotel are incredibly spacious and spotlessly clean. They are equipped with comfortable beds, fluffy pillows, and darkening shades in order to facilitate a pleasant night’s sleep. The sizeable bathrooms found at this location come complete with an excellent array of luxury toiletry products. Fruit baskets, chocolates, and bottled water may also be provided for guests. Naturally, the turndown service includes the famous Conrad teddy bears for hotel patrons to add to their collections or give to the young children in their families. Should they be available, the rooms that provide views of both the harbor and the mountains are highly recommended. The question of which vista is better seems to be largely a matter of personal preference, so visitors should feel free to choose accordingly. All rooms offer amazing views of this fabulous city. The hotel staff rapidly attend to customer needs and requests. Although the entire staff are polite and more than willing to help, the concierge service goes above and beyond the call of duty in arranging activities for hotel guests.They are on call at all hours in order to more fully meet customer needs. Lounging Around 36

The Conrad Hotel’s executive lounge area provides both refreshments and a scenic view. Cocktails and delicious canapés are served twice a day for all executive-level guests. If you prefer your cocktails poolside, this option is also available. There is also a gym, sauna, and a spa at this location. The spa offers wonderful treatments such as massages, facials, and body packages. The therapists have healing hands. Food and more The breakfast buffet provided by the hotel is exceptional, and there are a number of onsite restaurants to choose from for other meals. Both the onsite Pacific Bar and Brasserie on the 8th floor are very good. The Golden Leaf has some of the best Chinese cuisine in the city. Meanwhile, those in search of something a little more Mediterranean should head to Nicholini’s for their delicious Italian cuisine, or perhaps head to the Garden Café for their Asian-style dishes. Rounding out the Conrad Hotel’s culinary offerings is the Lobby Lounge, which has live entertainment on a regular basis and tasty buffet-style dishes. It’s quite popular among visitors. Of course, room service is yet another option and great for those who prefer a night in. Location is Everything The Conrad Hotel is found in the Central District of Hong Kong. In fact, the MTR Admiralty Station is located at the base of the hotel as is a lovely shopping center with a great many top-end retailers and a cinema complex. The neighborhood also contains a grocery store. Those that have business with the British Consulate will be pleased to learn that it is within walking distance. The train that goes up the neighboring mountain peak is located directly across the park from the hotel. Conrad Hong Kong offers excellent service, stunning views, luxury rooms and delicious cuisine, all in the heart of Hong Kong Island.

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A Welcome Oasis

Sirtaj Beverly Hills By: Nicole Connolly, www.suitcasestories.com

t is no surprise that many American celebrities choose to make their homes in Beverly Hills. The California city maintains an average annual temperature of 75 degrees with blue skies that go on forever. The lavish lifestyles of Beverly Hill’s wealthy inhabitants support a variety of highend retailers and fine restaurants, which luxury travelers can likewise enjoy. One can shop until they drop on the famous Rodeo Drive and maybe even spot a celebrity or two.  However, the city of Beverly Hills can get quite busy with locals and tourists alike, so finding a nice, quiet place to end your day can be harder than it seems.  Perfect Location Sirtaj Hotel is the perfect place to rest after a long day of shopping, sightseeing and celebrity spotting. This boutique property contains 32 rooms and is decorated in a lovely contemporary style. Despite being located directly in the center of town, the Sirtaj Hotel provides a relaxing and noise-free experience. Comfortable beds and soft linens help facilitate a pleasant rest. Rooms at this hotel are impeccably clean and include large bathrooms with luxury toiletries. Lavazza coffee machines are provided in each of the suites, and complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. Guests staying at this location can choose from the traditional king, luxury king, double queen,or traditional queen size rooms. Personal Service Though it is located in an upscale area, this establishment focuses heavily on personal service rather than elitism. The staff are both accommodating and very friendly. Guests are acknowledged and greeted with a smile whenever they walk into the Sirtaj Hotel. After being checked in, those staying here are customarily presented with a refreshing fruit drink. The wonderful service and superior attention to detail provided by the

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staff is noted in many reviews from previous guests. Both concierge and valet services are available around the. Personal shoppers, stylists, and trainers can be provided upon request as well. Whatever a guest could need, the staff are there to provide. Dining and More... The hotel offers an alfresco restaurant called p.s. beverly hills. An Americanstyle breakfast is available between 7:30 and 11 a.m. on a daily basis, though authentic Indianstyle cuisine is the focus at both lunch and dinner. Breakfast choices include Nutella pancakes, French toast, and a more traditional-style Sirtaj Breakfast, but those are only a few of the menu offerings.  The meals are very well priced. At lunch, the selection revolves around salads and Indian-style wraps. Several of the supper offerings are combined with either basmati rice to form “bowls” or with rice, beans, and salads to form “platters.” At supper, the chicken tikki masala and the shrimp curry are both recommended entrees. The fluffy cheese naan side item is especially good. Lamb dishes at this eatery, such as the lamb chops and the lamb kabob, are also delicious. An excellent selection of beer, wine, and cocktails are available. For those that prefer their own company, room service is another option. The Golden Triangle This hotel can be found in the heart of Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle on a quiet, tree-lined street. It is approximately a 5-minute walk from the famous Rodeo Drive shopping district. There is a park located right across the street from the Sirtaj Hotel, and a Whole Foods grocery can be found in the neighborhood. The welcoming staff at Sirtaj Hotel will make sure your visit to the property, and to Beverly Hills, is a vacation to remember. 37


Las Vegas

Las Vegas Sin City Never 38 www.thehotelguide.com


Las Vegas

Looked Better

Photos by: Martha Istueta www.marthaistuetaphotography.com www.thehotelguide.com

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Experiences

experiences

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Shipwreck Island

Experiences

A Sliver of History off Florida’s Gulf Coast By: Christa Thompson, www.thefairytaletraveler.com

’ve got sun, sand, and a margarita in hand.” Florida’s coastal culture is one that people flock to from all parts of the world to enjoy. There’s something incredibly addictive about the laid back beach lifestyle that makes Florida a home away from home for so many. We affectionately call them “Snowbirds”, our neighbors from the north. This year as we approach our snowbird season, I’d like to share one of Florida’s hidden gems. A place most locals only know of, a place so beautiful, so quiet, you’ll think you’re on a shipwrecked island. I’m talking about Egmont Key State Park, one of Florida’s best kept secrets. Hiding in the metaphoric shadows of the popular St. Pete Beach destination along Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast is Egmont Key State Park. An island off the St. Petersburg coast, accessible only by boat or ferry. This protected wildlife refuge and historic site is home to unspoiled-pristine coastline, mangroves, hummingbirds, gopher tortoises, sea birds and a range of coastal marine life. It is also home to an active lighthouse dating back to 1858, and the historic Fort Dade, built in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. It was active until 1923. The island also served as a camp for captured Seminole Indians during the Third Seminole Indian War, until it was occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. It was my birthday, and having been a resident of Florida for 17 years, I was having trouble finding something new to explore. I knew three things, I wanted to be near the water, I wanted to get some sun, and I wanted to go somewhere I had never been. Oh make it four, I really wanted a margarita. Egmont Key I was admiring the panoramic view of the barrier islands as we made our way over the scenic Sunshine Skyway Bridge that connects Bradenton to St. Petersburg. I had set out with my son and fiance to accomplish my birthday mission, then it hit me. Egmont Key! I had always wanted to go there but never had a boat, and I knew you could only get there by boat or ferry. That’s when my genius fiance thought about renting one, and that’s exactly what we did. We made our way to Tierra Verde Boat Rentals and before I knew it I was hopping onto a 19’ sundeck with my morning coffee in hand, ready for a brand new adventure. We saw dolphins dancing in the waves and crabs floating in the current, the sun was shining, and with the wind in my hair, this was proving to be the best birthday ever. There’s something invigorating and fresh about the morning glow

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of the gulf waters. Nothing compares to it. Gorgeous Sight After a half hour we began our approach to Egmont Key State Park. I could see the light making its rounds from the historic lighthouse. The water was aqua-blue and crystalline. I could see the stingrays swimming in the shallow water beneath the boat. We anchored down and hopped out, my son with his snorkel and mask in tow. No one was there as far as we could see. We arrived just early enough to beat the ferry. It was like being on a deserted island that was ours for the taking. Adventures Galore Upon our arrival the first thing I saw was what appeared to be an old dock in ruins. The waves splashed up against the remnants creating an interesting contrast of old with the beauty of the sea. We made our way off the shore and followed a few trails into the woods where we befriended a hungry gopher tortoise. My son made him a generous pile of leaves and we watched him eat. It was a thrill to see my little boy so wide-eyed and excited with the wildlife. After having a look at the lighthouse, we doubled back through the trails and to the ocean where we walked along the shore turning seashells and sand dollars. Just as we were making our way around an overgrown mangrove, I saw another large ruin in the water. I’m still not entirely sure what it was, but it looked like something from the old military fort. Just above it on the hill was the historic fort of 1898. There was absolutely nothing in our surroundings that disclosed the actual year that we were in. We were so far removed from anything modern, It was like walking back into time. Explorations and more We spent the morning going in and out of the jail cells, up and down the fort and trotting through trails in the sea oats. My son tailed me with his trusted snorkel as we walked along the water back to our vessel. We were leaving just as the first ferry arrived, in my mind, just in time. Heading back to the marina we took a tour along the canals of multi-million dollar homes and yachts. The Tierra Verde area showcases stunning waterfront property, many of which are homes to our snowbirds. Birthday Celebrations We returned the boat just in time for lunch and made our way over to Billy’s Stonecrab Seafood & Steaks for an amazing lunch and you guessed it, margaritas. It was the perfect ending to a perfect birthday of sun, sand and margarita in hand. Make that two margaritas.

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Experiences

Christa’s Corner

Travel Blogger Kids on Traveling

The Good, The Bad and the Best Tips eing a travel blogger / travel writer is not always the easiest on the kids. Often I find that my son can’t relate to others in his class about his adventures, because most people don’t travel the way we do or nearly as much. So, the Little and I got to talking about making some friends around the world he could relate to, and he went global. This is our interview of three of his new friends from around the world on their favorite places, why they love traveling, and the ups and downs of the family business.

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Lars

What’s the coolest thing you done while traveling? Jossilyn - When I went to Mexico and I met this Spanish girl, and I played with her the whole day, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. What’s the worst part about having a travel blogger mom? Jossilyn - That my mom is always on calls and she can’t always get to me. The Little - What do you want to say to children that might be nervous about traveling?

Meet Lars, the oldest of 2 in the travel blogging family Wagoners Abroad. He’s 12 years old and loves to travel.

Jossilyn - Sometimes things are scary but after you do it they are really, really fun.

Noah

The Little - What would you tell kids that are traveling a lot? Lars - Embrace the culture, try to learn new things while you are there because when you leave, you may not be able to go again. Eat the food and try new things. You learn a lot of different things about food, other clothes and culture. The Little - What’s the best part about being in a travel blogging family? Lars - You get to keep track and you can see all of your travel stuff on the blog. you get to meet families and make new friends. When you’re older you’ll have a bunch of friends and you’ll be able to see it all on the blog.

Jossilyn Meet Jossalyn, the charming 7 year old daughter of Sarah Fazendin of A Week at the Beach. 42 www.thehotelguide.com

Meet Noah - Noah is the lovely 7 year old son of Nichola West, writer of the Globalmouse. The Little - What is your favorite thing about traveling? Noah - You get to explore and go on adventures. The Little - What do you like to bring on the plane? Noah - Paper to draw, lollies because they help my ears. The Little - What’s your favorite place you’ve been to? Noah - I’ve got two, Belgium and Finland because I like tasting chocolates and they have big husky dogs. It’s really cold on the sleigh ride with the dogs.

By: Christa Thompson, www.thefairytaletraveler.com


an adventure travel blog

Searching the world for legend, myth and lore

www.thefairytaletraveler.com www.thehotelguide.com

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Hotel Guide Summer 2014  

Latest edition from The Hotel Guide. Great destinations, hotels, resorts, attractions and more. Plan your next trip with us. www.thehotelgui...

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