Island Hopping 3 Ways X Thailand

A diversity of dreamy experiences exists within the hundreds of islands scattered along Thailand’s Southern coast – how do you choose just one adventure to embark on? You don’t. With a convenient and rather inexpensive ferry system, today’s traveller can easily check multiple island extravaganzas off the bucket list.

Known as the “land of a thousand smiles”, there is no doubt Thailand boasts some truly extraordinary experiences – both on luxurious and cultural levels – that can quite literally be consumed using all five senses. Crystal-clear blue seas and white sand shores are inevitable in Mother Nature’s artistry along every shore, and dedicated foodies will have no problem finding truly hands-on culinary experiences that extend beyond the classic Pad Thai or Green Curry.

The Thai word, “Koh” directly translates to “Island”, and precedes the name of each of our recommended Thai hotspots: Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui. Take a look at our suggestions below – this island trio is sure to satisfy all of your Thai travel aspirations, regardless of your budget!

Beautiful beach of Koh Tao, Thailand

DIVE IN: Koh Tao

Koh Tao is an ideal first stop of the three islands in Thailand, especially if you intend on obtaining your PADI open water diving license. It is one of the world’s more affordable places to receive this internationally recognized certification, which will undoubtedly come in handy throughout your upcoming island explorations. Expect to come across multiple world-class dive sites as the islands are known to have a wide variety of marine wildlife: from manta rays to whale sharks, to vibrantly colourful fish and coral reefs.

If you don’t have the time to commit to a full scuba diving certification, there is no shortage of prime snorkelling spots around the island that can be experienced either through an organized group tour or on your own. Koh Tao’s Shark Bay is accessible from the beach shore and offers clear, shallow waters for the chance to explore a variety sea life and coral formations – if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a Blacktip Reef shark or Green sea turtle!

Sleep: With warm and friendly hospitality, panoramic breakfast buffet views and the island’s most Instagram-worthy infinity pool, you can’t go wrong booking a suite at the Aminjirah Koh Tao.

Devour: Sink into massive beanbags and catch happy hour cocktails at Fizz Beachlounge for an unforgettable sunset experience.

Experience: With the island’s natural vibe of pure zen relaxation, yoga retreats such as those offered by Shambhala Yoga Centre can provide you with the ultimate detox to strengthen your body and mind.

Aerail Koh Mae view, Koh Phangan, Thailand

BREAK FREE: Ko Pha Ngan

If you can recall anything about this lively island, it’s likely that Ko Pha Ngan is best known for its famous Full Moon Parties. Once every lunar month on Haad Rin’s crescent-shaped strip of shoreline, a low-key beach by day transitions into a once in a lifetime party that lasts until sunup. In high tourism season, the beach populates with crowds of up to 30,000 neon face-painted backpackers, enjoying mixed drinks in sand buckets and choreographed fire performances.

Accommodations run anywhere from $5/night backpacker party hostels to luxury resorts on the pricier end. You’ll quickly discover this island has an abundance of first-class offerings –Ko Pha Ngan is not necessarily all about a constant buzz of music and expensive beach clubs. The further north, the more remote and quiet the beaches are. Here, you can escape to some of the country’s most luxurious resorts while still having access to Full Moon Party celebrations. 

Rest: Experience utmost bliss with your loved one at Santhiya Ko Pha Ngan Resort & Spa. A true gem to the island, the resort offers a variety of stunning private villas engulfed in lavish greenery and cascading pools – the ultimate paradise utopia in Thailand.

Devour: Known for its service excellence and cultural ambiance, The Bistro at The Beach is considered to be the premier Ko Pha Ngan restaurant. Don’t miss the signature Gai Pad Med Ma Muang – a delectable stir-fried chicken dish topped with roasted cashews, chili jam and Phangan fresh pineapple.

Experience: Learn how to cook like a culinary pro while crafting the perfect Thai plate – whether it be Tom Yum soup, Penang Curry, or Papaya Salad. For the ultimate foodie experience, find a class that includes a tour of the famous Thong Sala food night market.

Tropical beach and coconut palms in Koh Samui, Thailand, Asia

WIND DOWN: Ko Samui

The next piece of paradise in Thailand, Ko Samui is the largest island of the three and is well-known to be suitable for all types of travellers. While it is certainly a bustling tourist hub full of stimulating experiences, Samui still offers the freedom and relaxation for those looking to do their own happy wandering. Whether you’d prefer to explore the land by foot or navigate the twisting highland roads by motorbike, expect no disappointments in this island’s magical scenery.

Samui has several waterfalls, although the two Na Muang Waterfalls are the most picturesque. Tree roots form a natural staircase that lead to the base of the falls where massive purple rocks sit. Other must-see landmarks include the 12-metre tall Big Buddha Temple, locally known as Wat Phra Yai, as well as Lamai Beach, a laid-back community that sits south of Chaweng district.

Sleep: If you don’t mind blowing your Baht, Ko Samui is known to have some truly luxurious accommodation retreats. Ease off in one of Code Ko Samui’s chic penthouse suites to enjoy striking views of the area’s turquoise sea.

Devour: Indulge in fine Thai and European dishes at Second Nature, where East cuisine meets West. Whether you’re looking for special occasion dining or a more casual, bar lounge environment, this Lamai Beach restaurant will suit your fancy.

Experience: If you’re working with a smaller budget, you’ll have no problem finding traditional Thai massage salons every few steps amongst the town with prices as little as 200฿ – or about CAD$7.50 – for a FULL body aromatherapy or reflexology foot massage!

Picture this: All of the culture, cuisine and warm hospitality found in Thailand’s major mainland cities, but accompanied by endless sun-lounging, towering ocean-side cliffs and palm tree-coated shorelines.

If Thailand has been forever on your to-do list, what are you waiting for? With the country’s various offerings, this island-hopping itinerary can be customized to hit all of your ultimate holiday goals. Between Koh Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui, the Gulf of Thailand has everything your dream vacation desires, regardless of your travelling taste.

72 Hours In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, commonly seen as one of the most culturally significant cities in Thailand is a sure fit for those who love a laid-back city adventure. She sings the songs of her traditional ways, with street vendors, trolley wagons, and a sea of markets, yet keeps you on your toes with a lively night scene.

Here are some MUST DO’s for a quick in and out of Chiang Mai:

STAY: GOOD MORNING CHIANG MAI,

The name pretty much says it all. Centrally located in Old Town, Good Morning Chiang Mai offers eclectic boutique charm for exceptional value. With only 24 rooms, you are welcomed like family. Rooms are extremely spacious and updated with warm presence of Thailand charm. The boutique is set on a lush ground of greenery with a beautiful salt-water pool to relax in after those big city ventures. A quaint bar and daily massage studio is also conveniently available on site. Included in your stay you will also receive a made to order breakfast complete with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee in their beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant.

EAT: With the abundance of vendors, markets, and restaurants, eating in Chiang Mai is something that you do often, with ease and in total food bliss.

TOP CONTENDERS

A Taste From Heaven: Large menu with all vegetarian/vegan choices. You would seriously never know this place is meatless.
TRY: Spring rolls, green curry in a coconut, pineapple boat rice, vegan brownie

The Hideout: Full bodied fresh coffee, healthy sandwiches and lunch menu made with all local fresh ingredients.
TRY: Jaws sandwich and a latte

The Coffee Bull: Be sure to take your shoes off at the door for this charming Thai cafe. Perfect for people watching, this little coffee stop is bursting with rustic Thai charm.
TRY: Drip coffee and hot cocoa.

 

DO:

The Night Bazaar: Test your haggling skills at the night Bazaar located just outside of Old Town. This market runs every day from 6pm-11pm. Night Bazaar is THE place to buy your souvenirs, as you will find most items much cheaper than the day markets.

Tip: can’t figure out how much to barter? Go for the average of 30% less than the asking price and walk away if you need to. You can usually find repeat products a few stalls down.

 

Thai cooking class: Can’t cook? No problem! Chiang Mai offers several full and half day cooking classes that include everything from exploring the produce markets to crushing Thai chili peppers. Whether you are a praised chef or eager beginner, you will learn a thing or two about Thai culture, vegetation, and the skills to impress your friends back home.

TRY: Zabb E LEE Thai cooking school.

Tuk Tuk Ride:

An experience in itself! What is commonly used for taxi’s can turn into a fun way to see the city in a jiff. Don’t feel like taking a day tour on a bus to see the city? Ask a Tuk Tuk driver to chauffeur you around to all the hot spots and you will be sure to see Chiang Mai the way the locals do.

TIP: Always negotiate price with the Tuk Tuk drivers. It’s expected!

SEE: Chiang Mai Wat

You will find several Wat’s (temples) all over Chiang Mai. Beautiful to look at, and immensely peaceful, you will immediately feel at rest in these aging architectural wonders.

VISIT: Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara. Walk around this beautiful Wat and learn about the everyday lives of monks.

Park City: An Aprés Ski Guide

From the moment I touched down in Salt Lake City, Utah, and looked through the small, oval window of my plane seat, it only took seconds to realize this place was magical.

Surrounded by looming, snow-covered peaks, the 40-minute drive to my final destination of Park City was a journey through wonderland – a curving landscape straight out of a Lawren Harris painting. Best of all, elevated 7,000 feet in the Utah mountains, waiting just for me was a historic city with much more to offer than just winter sports.

While Park City is celebrated for its extensive ski, snowboard and winter activity offerings, there is plenty to do for those more suited to the “aprés-ski” lifestyle. With its Main Street full of quaint shops, buzzing restaurants and intimate art galleries, I set out to discover exactly what to do in Park City sans the ski gear.

Relax:

Stay in your chalet and take some time to wind down from the hustle and bustle of your regular schedule. I spent some much-needed quality time with myself in my plaid pyjamas reading a good book from cover to cover. The hills around the chalet were blanketed in snow and the fireplace was roaring, creating the perfect atmosphere to snuggle up with a captivating story.

If you don’t have room in your suitcase amidst the bulky knit sweaters and leg warmers to pack a novel, stop into Dolly’s Bookstore located on Main Street, a tiny Victorian-style home complete with a resident cat. It’s also attached to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, perfectly convenient to pick up a sweet treat to snack on while you get lost in the pages of your new book.

Shop:

Park City’s historic Main Street is a hive of activity. There are blocks filled with unique shops to pop your head into and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces to take home. There are jewellery stores, clothing retailers, art and photography galleries to spend your day getting lost in.

Animal lovers – stop into the Manglesen Images of Nature Gallery to find breathtaking photographs of natural landscapes, polar bear and grizzly bear cubs, bison and more.

Dine:

There are plenty of places to eat in Park City and you’re guaranteed to find whatever you’re in the mood for. For a true family-style dining experience, Main Street Pizza & Noodle serves up some delicious Italian fare. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere and extensive menu offerings are sure to satisfy the whole family! Cheese lovers, order the 10″ personal cheese pizza, you will not be disappointed.

For a fine dining experience and traditional French dishes, Bistro 412 is the place to go. Baked brie, steak frites and French onion soup are just a few of the mouthwatering options on the menu. Sommeliers will also appreciate the impressive wine list that the restaurant offers.

Discover:

Park City has a rich mining history, making many a millionaire in the early 1900’s through the excavation and production of silver ore found deep beneath the mountains. In the 1960’s, as the demand for mining decreased, a change in industry was required, bringing forward one of the best ski resorts in the United States.

To learn about Park City’s fascinating past, from its mining roots to the “Great Fire” that burned down half the town, to how skiing became the bread and butter of the city, stop into Park City Museum located on Main Street. Visiting this museum and purchasing tickets to tour the building is highly recommended. You can take your time exploring the historic building, but beware when entering the basement which used to be the county jail.

Splurge:

Park City annually plays host to the infamous Sundance film festival in late January. Celebrities flock to the ski-town to take part in the festival and enjoy the city’s many offerings. Live like a film star with Exclusive Resorts and stay in one of 15 luxurious properties at Ironwood in Deer Valley. Less than four miles away from Park City’s Main Street, the four bedroom, four and a half bathroom chalets are the perfect accommodation for those looking for the ultimate in aprés ski comfort. 

For those of us who lack the ski bunny gene, not to worry. This ski-centric town proved to be the perfect getaway in the mountains for this gal! Until next time, Park City.

24 Hours In Havana, Cuba

Havana is a magical city that never fails to inspire a hopeful wanderlust in all of us.

Between the cobblestone streets, colourful facades and intricate architecture, this Cuban gem proves to be spectacular both day and night. We were fortunate enough to spend some time wandering the city streets with Nexus Tours. This wonderful add-on was a day trip during our stay with Memories Varadero Beach Resort.

Once the bus unloaded and we started to get our bearings, the clock struck nightfall and to our surprise live music, laughter and lights flooded the proverbial city walls. We were treated to amazing sounds, sights and smells of local cuisine and culture. Roadside churros were a must, as was dancing and singing with the vibrant and kind locals.

There’s something so touching about spending time in a city that has captured the imagination of so many. It came as no surprise that Havana conquered the heart of literary great, Ernest Hemmingway. An infectious inspiration can be found in everything you see and do in that city, and it certainly occupied my heart in a more profound way than expected.

If Havana is on your radar (which is should be), check out a few of our top city picks.

Eat: Habana 61
61 Habana, La Habana 10100, Cuba
Voted number one on Trip Advisor, this tourist and local hot spot is packed with outstanding culture and cuisine. We were told to make reservations in advance of visiting the city, as this quaint restaurant tends to fill up fast. If you’re looking for the best meal for your money, the lobster with garlic is otherworldly.

Sip: Café Fortuna Joe
Calle A, La Habana, Cuba
This quaint bar and eatery presents a proud display of vintage typewriters and toilets as decor, as well as sofa seating underneath the stairs. The tables are made from old cars and the ambience will make you feel as though you’re spending time in a traditional Cuban home. Additionally, the expansive menu boasts the most reasonable pricing for everything from small plates to sips. Be sure to taste the El Padrino cocktail, a white rum wonder.

Sleep: Memories Miramar Havana
5 Avenue Between 72 and 76, Miramar, Havana 11400, Cuba
You can experience the heart of Havana in this perfectly situated hotel. This lovely spot is tucked away in a residential neighbourhood and has everything from a pool, to restaurants and even two bars that can whip up the best mojito you’ve ever had. If you’re looking for easy access and a feeling of being part of the local culture, look no further than this hot spot.

Do: Tropicana
72 A, La Habana, Cuba
We were treated to a 2-hour show of stunning costumes, a spectacular set and amazing choreography at the one and only Tropicana. Set in a tropical oasis, the live music and dancing started as soon as the Cuban rum started flowing. Our eyes were sincerely glued to the stage, as every act was better than the last. While a live show might not be for everyone, this is certainly one thing you definitely need to cross off your bucket list.

Why We Love Beautiful Budapest, Hungary

Are you Hungary (pun completely intended) for an immersive cultural experience? Look no further than breathtaking Budapest.

Siren Traveller is pointing you straight into a hotbed of exquisite art, culinary masterpieces and musical exploration.  Hungary’s historic capital city is probably already on your radar and we only want to further solidify your travel plans. With direct air available from Toronto starting in the spring, it has never been easier to get to this bucket list destination.

This summer will prove to be all about Budapest, and we’re here to guide your stay.

Eat: Great Market Hall
Enjoy a meal in the impressive Great Market Hall. People have flocked to the market since 1897 to experience an authentic taste of Budapest. From its countless stalls of artisan meats and cheeses, baked goods, truffles and wine, travellers can spend hours getting lost in this foodie paradise. For a favourite local lunching experience, head upstairs to dine on traditional, rustic Hungarian fare at Fakanal.

Sleep:  Aria Hotel Budapest

Lay your head to rest in the number one hotel in the world as voted by millions of travellers on TripAdvisor for their Travelers’ Choice Awards 2017. This musically-themed hotel treats all guests like VIPs, offering a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning, and wine and cheese come afternoon. The rooms are dedicated to the genres of classical, opera, contemporary and jazz music and the legends who make their sweet sounds. Between the hotel’s central location, unbeatable service and dedication to making guests feel right at home, there is no question as to why Aria Hotel Budapest was voted number one in the world.

Play: Ruin Bars
Your night out in Pest begins at the Ruin Bars. Hit the hottest spots in the city in one locale. Party-goers, start your night at Instant – newly renovated with over 25 themed rooms, seven bars, two gardens and seven stages, patrons will not be disappointed when visiting this Ruin Bar venue.

See: High Note SkyBar
Located at the Aria Hotel Budapest, this rooftop venue has it all. The High Note SkyBar is the definition of #views. If lounging in chic furniture surrounded by a lush garden in the sky wasn’t lavish enough, visitors must merely look up to take in the breathtaking architecture of St. Stephen’s Basilica and the sun setting behind it. Sip on a delicious cocktail, indulge win gourmet meals and end every night on a High Note at Aria Hotel Budapest.

Do: Thermal Baths
Dip your toe into an ancient Budapest tradition: Turkish baths. An array of thermal baths located around the city cater to the needs of all visitors. These indoor heated venues range from Art Nouveau to chic and modern and offer the ultimate in indulgent experience. After walking the historic city, unwind in one of the many baths around the city or spend the week trying a bunch!

Why We’re In Love With Lisbon, Portugal

Situated off the Western coast of Spain and engulfed in culture, cuisine and art, Portugal is fast becoming the hottest spot to visit in Europe.

There’s no question as to why either. Think of yourself being surrounded by the most genuine people, all the while remaining inspired by a beautiful country. Check out my top picks for the top eat, sleeps and views in Lisbon, Portugal.

Lisbon: 

A colourful city surrounded by narrow cobblestone sidewalks, err, streets rather, the classic yellow cable cars and of course, tuk-tuks honking about. This is a city like no other.

Stay:

Corinthia Hotels Lisbon
Av. Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro 105, Portugal

A friendly, welcoming hotel with a chic interior and the best breakfast buffet you could ask for – order the customized omelettes and espresso. Decked out in shiny floors, marble tables and cream-coloured chairs in the lobby, this hotel puts your worries at ease for travelling to a new place with their helpful staff at reception and eager to please concierge.  Take a dip in their indoor pool outfitted in the typical Portuguese tiles amid the stunning blue hue and once you’re cooled off, get some R&R on their patio outside overlooking the busy city.

Savour:

5 Oceans Lisboa
Doca Alcântara, 1350 Lisboa, Portugal

If you’re a fan of a restaurant overlooking a bridge (much like the golden gate bridge in San Francisco) amid a beautiful viewpoint of the marina at the Alcantara docks than this should be your go-to spot. Not only does it offer sweeping views of boats and yachts, but it serves some of the best seafood around. Opt for the grilled sea bass, it’s to die for – just watch out for the bones. For desert, let the glasses of Portugal’s famous port flow alongside platters of pastries.

Do:

Start at the Port of Lisbon for a day of adventures and walk through the colourful streets and alleys. Grab a bite to eat at the oldest restaurant in Lisbon, Café Restaurante Martinho Da Arcada for a real cultural taste of the city.

Take the metro to Belem and visit the Torre de Uclem, a fortified tower that is a symbol of Lisbon and a UNESCO world monument. Dip a toe into the cultural commercial square (read: Praca do Comercio) and visit the Jeronimos Monastery and the Maritime Museum for a good dose of history.

Next, catch a tuk-tuk back and towards the Alfama Portas do Sol, which is the oldest Moorish district in Lisbon. Stop at a charming shop called Ai Maria for a shot of Ginja, a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries in a chocolate cup.  Tour around the Alfama district for a wide breadth of culture amid the narrow, old cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses surrounding. Afterwards, hop back on the tuk-tuk where your friendly tour guide will take you to the best lookout point in the city at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia monument. Snap a selfie while you’re at it.

You can’t visit Lisbon without checking out Sintra and its multitude of beautiful, breathtaking palaces and castles. If you’re in shape and wanting to get a workout, hike up to the Pena Palace in Lisbon, or for those wanting to save their calves, catch a bus to the top. This hike is not for the faint of heart though, but the ascent is worth it for the tour at the top. The Pena Palace is engulfed in bright oranges, yellows and blue tiles, one of the prettiest palaces you could ever lay your eyes on. While in Sintra, visit the Quinta de Regaleira castle, which, while it isn’t decorated in bright colours like Pena, it makes up for in intricate gothic renaissance styles.

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, so there is great shopping around; it’s a mixture between the designer retailer stores and local Portuguese shops too. I even picked up my Dior sunglasses at the Dior store in town.

Algarve:

Drive to Carvoeiro, in the Algarve region. This region is the utmost southern part of the country’s coastline. The Algarve should definitely be on your list as it has much to offer, think the famous orange cliffs, caves, lagoons and the bluest water there is. There is much to explore while you’re here and it’s a great place to get some well deserved R&R.

Stay:

Tivoli Hotels Carvoeiro
Vale do Covo, Praia do Carvoeiro, 8401-911 Carvoeiro, Lagoa, Portugal

This hotel has the best view money can buy, with a pool situated right in front of the ocean and the stunning rugged caves. Spend a day by the water and walk down to the village for dinner.

Savour:

Restaurante Villa Medici
Estr. do Farol 90, 8400-505 Carvoeiro, Portugal

Just a few minutes away from the hotel, take a trek down to the village and go for the best Italian in Portugal at Villa Medici. For appetizers, opt for the garlic pizza, yes it’s a thing and it’s fabulous.

Do: Drive up to Cape St. Vincent, next to the Sagres Point, in Algarve, southern Portugal where you will find a handful of surfers descending the steps of the cliffs to the water. This place isn’t a huge tourist trap, and should definitely be on your list. The Romans liked it too as they used to think of it as the “End of the World’ because they considered it a magical place where the sunset was much larger than anywhere else, and because it’s the south-western most part of Portugal closest to Africa. The view is as far as the eye can see, with rocky cliffs just below you and the bright turquoise blue ocean, there is really no place like it.

Leave early and drive to Evora, one of the hottest cities in Europe, get some culture in and visit the Igreja de São Francisco, one of the most prominent Gothic monuments in Portugal. This cathedral is gilded in gold, and intricate woodwork, covering almost the entire church; it’s considered one of the most outstanding of Portugal. Next, walk over to the Chapel of Bones, where yes, you guessed it, the interior walls are covered with human skulls and bones. There is a message waiting for you upon arrival (“We bones that here are, for yours await”). Pretty crazy, cool too.

After a long day out exploring, drive to Cascais, Europe’s version of the Hampton’s. What was once a sleepy fishing village, Cascais is now a bustling beach town.

Stay: Fortaleza de Guincho

Change things up and stay at a fort, well, in my opinion, what was really a castle. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing spot right on the beach with the sounds of crashing waves, or a quiet place to get some work done, this is the place to stay. Boasting views of the waves crashing on the shore, and the rugged rocks below, Fortaleza de Guincho presents a true European experience. With suites outfitted in gilded wooden décor, round rustic doors, and sprawling bedrooms with embroidered drapes there is not much else you need. The bathrooms are even enriched in the original Portuguese blue tile, complete with Hermès products, proving this is the place to be when you’re in need of a beach oasis.

Savour: Fortaleza de Guincho Restaurant

Stay in the hotel for dinner and eat at the world-renowned restaurant where you will find the best fish and seafood from the Portuguese coast as well as the highest quality of service, with a Michelin 1*. This isn’t a fast dining restaurant, this is all about the experience, with a philosophy based and inspired by the Atlantic, you get the true feel for the Portuguese cuisine. Opt for the Sea Bream, a delectable white fish served with fennel and barley, and try the Memories of my Childhood for dessert, served with plums, chocolate, and edible flowers.

See you next time, Portugal!

Why We’re Mad For Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

The island of Maui, Hawaii is a tropical paradise with a population of almost 150,000. It’s Hawaii’s second largest island and plays host to hundreds of thousands of tourists each month. Known for its cultural luaus and gorgeous beaches such as Makena Beach and Napili Bay, along with excursions like The Road to Hana, it’s a must-visit for anyone with a case of wanderlust. The high season is in the wintertime when most other places are freezing cold, and the low season falls in both spring and autumn. Having visited during both peak and slow season, the latter is the way to go.

Photo: www.grandwailea.com

Photo: www.grandwailea.com

SLEEP:

On The Cheap: While vacationing to Maui doesn’t come cheap, if you’re up for staying in a hostel, Lahaina’s Last Resort was clean and friendly. Situated just steps away from the town of Lahaina and “Baby Beach” its location won me over. I would definitely recommend it if you’re travelLing solo or with friends, rather than for a romantic getaway.

Solid Mid-Range: Ka’anapli Beach Club is surrounded by luscious gardens and beautiful ocean views. Located a short drive away from snorkeling paradise, Napili Bay, and the charming town of Lahaina, it’s a lovely resort in a key location.

Tropical Luxury: If luxury is what you crave, the Grand Wailea Resort sits minutes away from Wailea beach. The upscale hotel features everything from a gorgeous 50,000 square-foot spa with 40 treatment rooms, to a thatch-roof restaurant floating atop a lagoon, to morning beach yoga.

EAT & DRINK:

Best Bites:

Photo: http://mauitime.com/

Photo: http://mauitime.com/

 

Mama’s Fish House in Paia is a must-visit for anyone who loves seafood. Featuring fresh Hawaiian fish brought in daily, it’s a family-owned bodega located right on Maui’s North Shore. I still dream about the ahi, ono and a’u ku, a dish sautéed in Panang curry and coconut milk, with their speciality mango chutney. And the strawberry guava fizz was a fresh and intoxicating mix of strawberry guava, lemonade and a dose of vodka.

If you find yourself in the mood for a mid-day snack, Café Café in Lahaina has a lot to offer. The smoothie bowls were second to none, with options ranging from an acai banana bowl (highly recommended), papaya bowl, granola bowl and more. They also serve eggs, bagels, sweet treats and smoothies.

For the best morning pick-me-up, grab a coffee or iced coffee at Bad Ass Coffee Co.

Make sure to make a stop at Cheeseburger in Paradise, a tiki-inspired spot with the best burgers on the island. Their Baja burger, topped with avocado, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, salsa and more, is completely mouth-watering.

Maui, Hawaii

WANDER:

Best View: With so many breathtaking beaches, it’s hard to choose just one, but Makena Beach, also known as “Big Beach”, has to take the top spot. The turquoise waters are crystal clear, with a golden sand beach that stretches 2/3 of a mile long and 100 yards wide.

SEE & DO:

Take a day trip on the Road to Hana, a gorgeous excursion along a curvy coastal road with views of beaches, waterfalls, cliffs and rainforests. Stop off at different spots along the way such as Waikani Falls and the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park.

If you’re an adventure-seeker, watch the sunrise at the top of Mount Haleakala and spend the day biking down the mountain. Beautiful views included.

NOT TO BE MISSED:

The surf town of Paia boasts charming boutiques, cafés, and ice cream shops, and gives you a taste of Hawaii’s rare, small town culture.

MAUI, Hawaii

CULTURE:

If you want to be immersed in Hawaiian culture, grab a ticket to a luau. With a classic Hawaiian buffet, hula lessons, a fire show and more, it will be one of your favourite Maui experiences.

How To Conquer Cannes Like A Celebrity

We may not be walking red carpets like a few of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters, but we can definitely conquer Cannes like one.

This French Riviera locale is always swarming with the world’s elite. All year-round, vacation dwellers swarm the idyllic city for some of the best in culinary, culture and of course the Cannes Film Festival.

When it comes to navigating these pristine waters and truly serene coastlines, it’s best to do as the French do. If you’re looking for a star sighting, or you’re hoping to vacation like Leonardo DiCaprio, make sure to check out a few of these A-list approved spots.

Cannes

Eat: La Colombe d’Or, La Colombe d’Or, 06570 Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

This historic hotel and restaurant has been dishing out some of the best cuisines in Cannes since the 1920’s. With an extensive art collection and a garden terrace that begs for coffee sessions come sunrise, this bohemian eatery is all that and then some.

While you’re almost guaranteed to spot a celebrity at this Provençal cookery, make sure to take in the sights and sounds that surround the property. Maintained by the Roux family, this pristine location will warm your heart and your stomach.Cannes

Sleep: Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Boulevard JF Kennedy, 06600 Antibes, France

This luxurious celebrity-filled hotel is the epicentre of all things Cannes. Stars such as Scarlett Johansson and Madonna have rested their heads here. Most recently, Vanity Fair teamed up with Chopard Jewels to host a dazzling event with Hollywood’s most well-heeled.

Make sure to take advantage of their Sisley Spa that boasts some of the best wellness treatments found in Southern France.

Cannes

Play: Palais Club, La Rotonde de Lernis, Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes, France  

It wouldn’t be the South of France without some of the most lavish parties around. And while many of the noteworthy events are usually invite-only, there are a few places to check out while you’re in Cannes.

One of the more popular spots is the Palais Club, a famed DJ and dance haven that celebrates the best in Euro music. Make sure to explore the expansive property, including their rooftop lounge that overlooks the Mediterranean.

Cannes Spend: Marché des Allées de la Liberté

While the rich and famous might spend their cash at the Rue d’Antibes, the Rodeo Drive of Southern France, we much prefer their open air markets. Between their flea to flower markets, there’s no shortage of treasured gems and blooms to be found on a warm sunny morning in Cannes.

One of the more popular floral stands, Marché des Allées de la Liberté, is open on Saturday and boasts an antique market from 8AM to 6PM.Cannes

Paresseux: 

Make the most of your Mediterranean vacation by sunbathing under the warm southern skies. And while Cannes is home to a few private beaches, walk the public coastline for glimpses of the Riviera lifestyle.

Since 7.5KM of Cannes is actual beach, you will have no problem finding somewhere sandy to rest your head for the afternoon.

Our Favourite Road Trips From Toronto

Nothing says summer in the city quite like packing a small bag, jumping in the car and heading somewhere close by.

While we love spending time in Toronto when the sun starts to shine (hello patio season), we can’t help but want to book long weekend excursions with a few of our nearest and dearest.

If you’re anything like us, you already have a good idea of where you’ll be headed. Although, just in case you’ve made your list but forgot to check it twice, we certainly have you covered.

Check out our top road trips to take from Toronto.

Toronto

Who: The Wino
What: The Drake Devonshire Inn, 24 Wharf St, Wellington
Where: Prince Edward County
When: Prince Edward County is beautiful no matter the season, but our favourite time to spend a few cozy nights is in the summer. Just as the flowers start to bloom, and the grape vines start to grow, so too does our appetite for travel. If you’ve been there, done that, with Niagra-on-the -Lake, spend some quality time in Prince Edward County. Just plan ahead and book a few wine tours before you drive up.
Why: The drive from Toronto without traffic is just under three hours, making this the perfect long weekend getaway.

Profile Image Credit: http://www.joelloblaw.com/2015/02/02/the-drake-devonshire/

Toronto

Who: The Outdoorsman
What: The Lodge at Glendorn, 1000 Glendorn Drive
Where: Bradford, Pennsylvania
When: The Lodge at Glendorn is grand any time of the year. Between their winter activities and surreal conditions in the summer, it’s hard to choose a favourite. Although, since we’re in full swing and seriously in the thick of it, we’re currently crushing on this rustic lodge for the sunny season. Book a luxurious cabin for a weekend and indulge in Relais Chateaux meals prepared by their award-winning team led by Executive Chef Joe Schafer. Be sure to try fly fishing, or skeet shooting and tell them Aller sent you.
Why: The drive is both scenic and short, as this American destination is a short four hours away.

Toronto

 

Who: The Luxe Canadiana
What: Ritz-Carlton Montréal, 1228 Sherbrooke St. West
Where: Montréal, Québec
When: Of course Montréal is spectacular when there is snow on the ground, but we absolutely love this vibrant city in the summer. So if you’re looking for a five-star getaway complete with a stunning suite, gourmet food and culture all around, look no further. And if you want to be treated like royalty (everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Winston Churchill had been hosted here), this hotel will be the perfect fit. Be sure to reserve a seat at Maison Boulud for Chef Daniel Boulud’s finest, savour some champagne at their Dom Pérignon Bar and take a dip in their indoor saltwater pool.
Why: There is always something happening in Montréal, so make the trip worthwhile. Osheaga Festival will be held on July 29 – 31, so grab your tickets and get yourself down there. Without traffic, the trip should take you about six hours, so bring a friend and enjoy the open road.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

We’ve hand-picked the very best boutique and luxury hotels in Morocco to bring you our collection of stylish romantic retreats.

Find your perfect hotel and get the low-down on holidays in Morocco – just choose your destination from the list below.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Dar Ahlam: Ouarzazate, Morocco

Kasbah with added wow

Dramatically set between the Atlas Mountains and Morocco’s stretch of the Sahara desert, the Dar Ahlam hotel is a renovated 19th-century Kasbah whose name means ‘House of Dreams.’ Re-imagined in high style by a fête aficionado from Paris, this luxurious escape will lure you into its lair with a sleek outdoor pool, oversized bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and soothing sand-coloured suites.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Palais Namaskar: Marrakech, Morocco

Five-star, French, feng shui

On the edge of up-market Palmeraie, just outside the bustle of Marrakech, the opulent Palais Namaskar hotel takes cues from the Chinese doctrine of feng shui in the design details of its spacious suites and palaces. This sprawling, Oetker-managed boutique resort pulls out all the stops, from a seriously luxurious spa to flawless, anything-you-wish service. The sprawling grounds have numerous nooks for privacy while the glamorous restaurant and bar play host to a stylish, see-and-be-seen crowd.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Kasbah du Toubkal: Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Berber castle retreat

Just 40 miles from Marrakech in the Atlas Mountains, the hotel Kasbah du Toubkal feels much further from civilization than that, perched as it is near the foot of North Africa’s tallest peak. Views from this clifftop castle’s candlelit, pillow-strewn rooms and ideally situated terraces overlook three valleys carved from the surrounding dramatic mountains that soar to over 4,000 metres. Settle in with a pot of Moroccan mint tea and lose yourself in the magical setting.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Dar Maya: Essaouira, Morocco

Pale and interesting

Your luxury riad home-from-home awaits by the beach in Essaouira: Dar Maya was created by a runaway Englishman who became enamoured of coastal Morcco while on vacation… once you’ve taken a dip in the rooftop pool and been given a thorough rubdown in the traditional hammam, you won’t want to go home, either.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Selman: Marrakech, Morocco

Terracotta pleasure palace

The burnished Berber-style interiors of luxury hotel Selman, Marrakech – given an art nouveau twist by designer Jacques Garcia – provide a chic contrast to the surrounding desert terrain. Cavernous rooms eschew full-on casbah style for subtle hints of colour, Zellige tiles and Mousharabi panels. Spoil yourself in the Henri Chenot spa, dip into the 80sq m swimming pool and enjoy fine Mediterranean fare in one of the hotel’s three restaurants, while watching the hotel’s 16 Arabian horses perform. 

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Palais Amani: Fez, Morocco

Historic hammam hideaway

Palatial traditional riad on the outside, colourfully contemporary urban chic on the inside, the hotel Palais Amani captures the many facets of the ancient city of Fez. Here, the air is perfumed with citrus, the rooftop terrace has dramatic views and the hammam offers peaceful seclusion from the pace of the medina.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Kasbah Tamadot: Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Sir Richard’s splendid retreat

The enchanting Kasbah Tamadot hotel – located in the High Atlas Mountains near Asni – is maze of serene courtyards, secret staircases and pristine gardens encased by an ancient wall. Mountain views are especially marvellous from the master suite, a scaled-down copy of the Kasbah itself. 

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Riad Farnatchi: Marrakech, Morocco

Refined comfort

Hidden behind an unmarked wood door in Marrakech, Riad Farnatchi hotel is a carved, inlaid, art-decorated take on a traditional Moroccan home designed by Jonathan Wix entirely for his guests’ comfort. Ring the almost-invisible bell and step through the ornate door into a world accessed only by those in the know. The riad is one of the city’s most refined options, complete with a marble hammam, heated swimming pool and market-fresh cuisine.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

Heure Bleue: Essaouira, Morocco

Ocean-liner elegance

Post-colonial elegance reigns at Heure Bleue, a hotel built into oceanfront Essaouira’s medina walls. In Marrakech’s alternative, seaside sibling where the likes of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix once relaxed, this luxurious hideaway offers peaceful rooms with traditional carvings, fabrics and lamps in a lavishly low-key atmosphere.

Sleep Here: 10 Moroccan Treasures

El Fenn: Marrakech, Morocco

Traditional riad with an artist’s touch

A 22-room labyrinth with three sheltered courtyards, El Fenn hotel is a serene, shady enclosure that offers an art-gallery-worthy respite from the outside world of bustling Marrakech. Lanterns light a sultry courtyard with a marble fountain in this colourful, avante-garde hideaway, complete with a screening room, carved antique wood doors and a well-stocked library.