By Maxine Albert
‘Swept away by the God of the Winds into the
Aeolian Islands’ – I mused on the ferry as I felt the cool sea breeze and warm glow of the Sicilian sun. I was bound for the Aeolian archipelago, off the coast of northern Sicily. Legend has it that they were named after Aeolus, lord of the winds, who had his kingdom there. Actively volcanic, jutting out of the Tyrrhenian Sea – these pearls of the Mediterranean are a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Have a tough time keeping your little ones entertained on vacation? Head to the Grand Canyon, where the exquisite landscape and high-adrenaline activities leave no shortage of things to do.
Planning a getaway?
Take a peek at the hottest spots on our radar
By Rachel Bowie
As the relaxed hours of summer become a distant memory, our minds can’t help but wander to thoughts of that fall or winter getaway. With so many destinations to choose from, and so few days to take off, we looked around the world to find some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts to escape to. So silence your BlackBerry, buy a new pair of shades and start pricing out airfare — it’s time to plan a little post-summer R&R.
It’s midnight in Rome; the cacophony of the day has subsided into faint shouts and hollers echoing through the back alleys of one of the world’s most ancient cities. As I amble down a wavy street in Italy’s metropolis, the glow from the shadowy and hollow Coliseum gleams over the city’s worn architecture. Younger types spill out of 24-hour cafés, sipping cocktails and wine, while thumping music pumps out the doors of raucous bars nearby. The distinct sound of high heels clacking in unison rings out as a group of women decorated in fancy threads strut past me, assuredly on their way for a night on the town. Outside a gelato bar, a swath of designer outfits and Prada shoes adorn twenty-somethings while they stand in the foreground of the imposing, white-stoned Piazza Venezia, which unofficially marks the center of Rome. That’s the majesty of the Eternal City, on one block you may wisp by a throng of chic, designer boutiques and then turn the corner and be confronted with a cluster of dilapidated ruins. It’s truly striking.
Anyone who’s been to Rome can attest to the fact that the drivers are ridiculous at best and borderline psychotic at worst — on the roads, it’s no holds barred. So you can imagine my angst as I popped on a Vespa and set out to solve Rome’s maze (maze may be too soft a description of Rome, it’s more a labyrinth). I finally navigated my way to Vatican City, after three near-death experiences, to scope St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Standing among the magnificence in St. Peter’s, I felt shrunken and humbled. Basking in the presence of such dazzling architecture and art made me feel insignificant among such a regal display; what have I accomplished? I found the Sistine Chapel even more riveting. After a 45-minute trek through the Vatican Museum — it feels like it never ends — I finally reached the signature attraction. Wow! Michelangelo’s Last Judgment is the star of the breathtaking room. With Christ dominating the center of the scene, angels and demons battle over damned souls, angels trying to rip the damned from the devils’ grasps and bring them to salvation. It’s a surreal experience after years of learning about the famed chapel through lectures and textbooks.
By Nathan Storey
About a decade ago some said Wildwood, New Jersey, had seen its best days. Judging by the new boutiques and restaurants, fresh amusement rides and hoards of visitors flocking to the beaches annually, they were painfully mistaken. The Wildwoods' facelift has managed to strike that perfect balance between tradition and modern, retaining the carnival mystique so popular in the past while retrofitting and expanding its attractions to match desired family entertainment. “The Wildwoods has transcended to a place that will appeal to the most discerning indivduals,” said Jack Morey, executive vice president of Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks.
People will travel to the ends of the Earth to find the perfect beach, one where they can de-stress and get excited about life at the same time. But did you know that there were beaches like that just around the corner? Forget rising gas prices, you can get to these beaches without even having to fill up once. —Andrew Kaufman
By Keith Kennedy
With springtime in full swing and summer just around the corner, it’s the time of the year when weekend getaways become a necessity for Gothamites. Reasons vary from the need to shake off the winter doldrums to making an escape from the street-clogging, Euro-tourist throngs lured by the cheap dollar. For couples, a weekend getaway might be just the thing to show your significant other how much you really care.
British Columbia’s capital, Vancouver, (or Vancity as locals fondly refer to it as) has all the accoutrements of a world-class city – fine dining, grade A shopping and chic hotels – but with an effortless cool that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.— Alysha Brown
At the opposite end of the Miami Beach island from South Beach, the brand new Regent Bal Harbour has been welcoming guests for the last few weeks. The first new luxury hotel property to open in nearly half a century in Bal Harbour — a small, village just north of the Miami Beach city line — the Regent Bal Harbour “promises total immersion in the inviting culture of Bal Harbour, unrivaled luxury for all the senses and attention to every detail, including highly personalized service delivered with genuine kindness and warmth,” according to Guenter Richter, the new hotel’s general manager. “The result will be the authentic experience of hospitality at the highest levels, which is what Regent is all about,” said Richter whose previous experience includes The St. Regis and The Waldorf Astoria here in New York City.
By Alia Akkam
When we pulled up to the imposing mansion, I gave the cab driver a more lavish tip than usual. Since he was dropping me off at the Wentworth Mansion, one of Charleston’s most luxurious properties, I felt a little guilty that he had to get back to work while I was in for a generous amount of pampering. The first thing I noticed upon climbing the steps and opening the heavy door to the mansion were the beautiful stained glass windows, glinting in even the partial sun. I planned to gather my light bags and head up to my room myself, but as one employee told me with a stunned look upon her face, “This is the Wentworth. No one schleps here.”