For the first time in modern history, the below-ground tunnels of Rome's Colosseum, where the gladiators tied up their sandals and prayed to their gods before entering the arena, have been opened to the public. The hallways and holding areas, and even the workings of the wooden elevator platforms that would hoist the wild animals, slaves, soldiers, and prisoners up to the floor of the arena for mortal combat, are on view following a $700,000 restoration.
Also restored and reopened for the first time since the 1970s is the third tier of the Colosseum from which Rome’s middle class watched the monumental pageants and battles. The Guardian reports, “This level boasts heart-stopping views of Rome, from Palatine Hill to the distant Vittorio Emanuele monument. And, at about 115ft in the air, you're still more than 70ft below where the highest seats would have been.”
The guided tours, open to 25 visitors at a time, must be booked in advance. Call Pierreci, the cooperative that handles ticket sales and tours at the Colosseum, at +39 06 3996 7700, to book the €20 tickets.
Ann Shields in an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of the Rome Cavalieri Hilton's Gladiator Training Program, which has nothing to do with the Colosseum tour but was too good not to use.
This week’s sales surely run the gamut. In Costa Rica, spa-goers unwind in private Jacuzzis high in a cloud forest; in California, lucky travelers will settle into a beachfront getaway just south of L.A.. Prefer to bring the family? Try a villa rental in Riviera Nayarit or a snow lodge in Colorado, or leave the relatives behind in favor of secluded Maradiva, on the west coast of Mauritius. To access these experiences, you know the drill: Sign up to be a Vacationist member, and start packing now.
El Silencio Lodge & Spa – up to 43% off
Bajos del Toro (Alajuela), Costa Rica
Costa Rica has long been known as an eco-travel destination, but El Silencio—a serene retreat on 500 acres opened in 2008 by the owners of the nearby Hotel Punta Islita—presents an unusual level of luxury for the green-oriented adventurer… (5 days)
L'Auberge Del Mar - up to 35% off
Del Mar, California
The sunny seaside town of Del Mar, between L.A. and San Diego, offers an increasingly hard-to-find slice of old-school SoCal relaxation. Clark Gable and Lucille Ball both stayed at this classic 120-room property… (6 days)
Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.
Images top to bottom: courtesy of El Silencio; courtesy of L'Auberge del Mar; courtesy of Trappers Cabin.
There are two electronic devices that I never leave home without: my cell phone and my iPod. I hate being without either; worse than that, I hate when one dies on me when I forget to charge it. So I was pretty excited when I got the chance to try out mophie’s juice pack air, a new add-on device for my iPod Touch that claimed it would just about double the battery life.
I’m not normally one for protective cases—whether it’s my phone, iPod, or other gadget—because they can detract from the device's style. But I actually like the mophie case. It kind of makes me feel like I’m using some sort of Super iPod. (In reality, it doesn’t actually add that much bulk/weight to the device. And if it gave me a few extra days’ worth of juice, it’d be completely worth it for me.)
Eighteen passengers on a Vietnam Airline flight from Hanoi to Paris were injured this morning when their plane encountered severe air turbulence, according to Agence France-Presse. The plane later landed safely at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and none of the injuries were thought to be serious.
But here's the interesting part: according to the story, these passengers—excuse me while I crank up the old caps lock and put the italics in gear—WEREN'T WEARING SEAT BELTS.
A bullet train capable of traveling 200 mph arrived from Germany today in London's St. Pancras Station, heralding a broad expansion of high-speed Continental rail service from the British capital. It also marks the first challenge to Eurostar's virtual monopoly on passenger service through the Channel Tunnel. If all goes according to plan, starting in 2013 passengers will be able to travel by rail from London to Frankfurt, without changing trains, in only five hours.
My foodie friends used to be horrified by my penchant for street snacks. For years it created a significant rift between us. While they spent their weekends at farmers’ markets, taking knife-skills classes at the Culinary Institute, and trying to snag a table at Wylie Dufresne’s latest chic eatery, I was scarfing down empanadas at random Brooklyn intersections and scouring parking lots for new taco trucks.
This past Saturday, we finally broke bread at the same metaphorical dining table. The source of our new common ground? A one-day street-food extravaganza hosted by New York magazine’s food blog, Grub Street.
Whether you're looking to skip town this winter or just skip some holiday stress, this month's Contest Watch has you covered.
Teva, "Teva House 2011 Fiji Giveaway," Enter Now - January 15
If you need something to look forward to, how about a 10-day trip to Fiji from April 1-11, 2011? Enter at tevahouse.com and you could win a $14,000 trip for two to Fiji, complete with round-trip airfare, seven-day Tui Tai expedition cruise, river tour, and Teva sandals (lest you step on a sea urchin while exploring). The winner will be contacted January 30 when the winter blues are at their worst.
Looking for a fall nature adventure that lands somewhere between "glamping" and actual camping? Look no further than Douthat State Park. Nestled in the Allegheny mountains of central Virginia, a four-and-a-half hour drive from Washington, DC, the 4,490-acre pet-friendly park offers charming cabins and plentiful hikes for the beginner leaf-peeper.
I cannot stress the "beginner" part enough. When we went last weekend, our party consisted of four couples, each lodging in a cabin outfitted with a full kitchen, working fireplaces, central heat and a/c, and clean simple bathrooms (with phenomenal hot water and pressure). The majority of our pre-hike-planning included a map-scan for the dirtiest sounding trail (our choice, Blue Suck Falls) and a very detailed après-walk drinking plan.
Must-pack necessities for the weekend: boardgames, whiskey, family dog, s'mores ingredients, food for the grill, hiking shoes (maybe).
Cabins range from $75 to $102 per night during this fall season, and include parking and park fees. Our cheapest cabin (#6) featured a queen bed and small communal space, while the more palatial options (#9 and #11) have capacious living rooms to enjoy the hearth. Larger groups should consider renting one of the property's three lodges (where, unfortunately, dogs are not allowed).
Charlotte Savino is Travel + Leisure's Listings Editor.
Photo courtesy of the author.
Travel + Leisure wants to know how you travel now—what your style and preferences are on the road. Take our multiple-choice quiz (after the break) and drop us a note in the comment section with your answers (only one per question, please).
What better place than Las Vegas—home to some of the world’s best hotels, restaurants, and nightlife—to host Food & Wine's inaugural All-Star Weekend? Hosted by Food & Wine’s Gail Simmons and a slew of celebrity chefs, including alumni from Bravo’s Top Chef, this weekend of epicurean delights will take place from November 5-7 at some of Vegas’s finest luxury resorts, including the Bellagio, ARIA, and Vdara Hotel & Spa at the new CityCenter.
All-Star Weekend Highlights:
Just in time to ruin your day comes a report that airlines stand to earn $22.6 billion in surcharges in 2011. That's up from $10 billion just two years ago.
The prediction comes from Ideaworks, an airline consultancy, and Amadeus, a tech firm that processes travel transactions. Both companies have a vested interest in airlines making more money through surcharges, so let's hope they're just being optimistic. (Or, I guess, pessimistic, depending on your point of view.)
By most accounts, the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 were a success. Held every four years, the Olympics-style event brings together 71 nations, most of whom are members of the Commonwealth (née the British Commonwealth). This year, India had the honor of hosting in Delhi. And the Games were indeed a success. That is, now that they're finished -- and no one died. The leadup was nothing short of disaster.
Despite the best efforts of Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and other celebrity chefs enlisted by airlines to jazz up their menus, a new study suggests that in-flight meals will forever be bland. It's not the preparation, it's our perception. As reported by the BBC, a study in the journal Food Quality and Preference shows that background noise can adversely affect both the flavor and texture of food.
Before you accuse the Food Quality and Preference editors of publishing frivolous, sensationalistic research, consider their other reports: "Consistent flavor naming predicts recognition memory in children and young adults"; "Impact of proprioception and tactile sensations in the mouth on the perceived thickness of semi-solid foods"; "Conditioning unfamiliar and familiar flavours to specific positive emotions."
These people are serious about flavor.
Are you an Amalfi veteran? Or will Vacationist take you to Italy's picturesque coast for the first time? Either way, don't miss this week's irresistible discount at the Furore Inn (shown above). Looking for something even more secluded? Vacationist has great deals on an exclusive villa in Puerto Vallarta, spectacular sunsets on the west coast of Mauritius, and a luxury hideaway on Hawaii's Kohala Coast. All are available for up to 37% off -- only from Vacationist.
Still not a Vacationist member? Click here for access to these and other great deals.
Furore Inn Resort – up to 37% off
This tranquil property is actually a collection of terraces, flowering gardens, and pools clinging to cliffs 600 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea. The 22-room boutique hotel is classically Italian, from the upholstered headboards and glazed Vietri tile floors to the waistcoated servers in the formal restaurant. (6 days)
When you check into a hotel, you naturally want a clean room. But if you want a science-fiction-scary clean room, look to Hyatt. The hotel chain recently introduced its Respire rooms, which are sterilized, sanitized, antisepticized, and deodorized to the extreme. They're so clean you're unlikely to find so much as dust mite feces under the decorative pillow shams.
"We basically kill all living organisms in the room," said Brian Brault, chief executive officer of Pure Solutions, the company behind the purified rooms. Presumably he was referring to mold, fungi, bacteria, and viruses -- not hotel guests.
Despite a movie adaptation that met with less-than-rave reviews, the Eat, Pray, Love juggernaut continues to inspire a wide variety of licensed (and unlicensed) products. On one home shopping network alone, you can order EPL-branded perfumes, hand creams, pillows, tote bags, clothing, teas—and much, much more. Not since The Da Vinci Code has such a poorly written book created such a thriving cottage industry.
If New Yorkers seem a little grumpier—particularly during the weekday rush hour—there’s a good reason. Yet again, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is putting the financial burden of their poor business decisions on the common folk: by upping subway and bus fares yet again. (Rates were also hiked in March 2008 and June 2009.)
In two days, cartographers will need to update their maps of the Caribbean. On Sunday, October 10 (that is, 10/10/10), the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved. Curaçao and St. Maarten will become autonomous countries (still under the Dutch crown), while Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire will be rezoned as Dutch principalities. It’s an exciting time to visit Curaçao, a tiny island that—though popular with well-behaved travelers from Europe and South America—is under the radar of most Americans.
When I left my native California for New York, people would say (and still do), "You were probably a tanned surfer dude hanging out in hot tubs in Malibu and meditating on hilltops when you weren't partying with rock stars on the Sunset Strip." Which in my case happens to be true. But I still need to remind my East Coast friends that not everyone in the Golden State is like me.
Now, however, I don't have to do any more explaining. A new advertising campaign from the state's tourism department, launching nationwide on Monday, dispels the myths of living in California. Sort of.
London's iconic Savoy Hotel greets its first guests this Sunday following a nearly three-year renovation. The $350 million top-to-bottom restoration took months longer than originally planned, but that's what happens when you stage what the hotel calls "the most ambitious restoration in British history." And from the pictures I've seen, it looks like it was worth the wait.
You, dear T+L readers, can’t seem to get enough of California, Italy, and Costa Rica, which is why this week’s Vacationist deals are sure to impress. Relax amid palm trees mere minutes from San Diego; venture to a Roman-style palazzo on the Italian island of Ischia; or swim in an infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya—all for up to 60% off. Plus, we’re throwing in deals at Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve in South Africa, in case you’re looking for something more exotic. Still not a Vacationist member? Click here for access to these and other great deals.
Paradise Point Resort & Spa – up to 37% off
San Diego, California
Fresh off an $8 million renovation, Paradise Point offers travelers a getaway on a private 44-acre island (shown above)—though it's conveniently only minutes from downtown San Diego and is adjacent to SeaWorld. (4 days)
As New Yorkers will modestly admit, the city is home to more great restaurants than anywhere else in the country, and quite possibly the world. Got a problem with that? Yeah. I didn’t think so.
I admit it: though I put my laptop away for the bulk of my travel excursions, I have a hard time unplugging from the world for too long. While I'm fine using the trackpad on my MacBook—on the road and at home—plenty of people prefer using a mouse. Enter Microsoft's Special Edition Susan G. Komen for the Cure Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000.
While there are plenty of worthy travel-friendly mouses out there, this one stands out for a number of reasons:
Visitors to the Palace of Versailles, the former residence of Louis XIV, expect to see the world's most lavishly decorated home. So staging an exhibition of contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s bright and kitschy sculptures in the Sun King’s royal apartments makes sense, oui?
No, not so much.
Ever stayed at an airport hotel? I have. Talk about bleak. Think Lubyanka prison without the charm. Vending machines instead of restaurants. Guest rooms with all the warmth of a doctor's office. But Hilton Hotels & Resorts thinks it's time to change all that, to give airport hotel guests the comforts they would expect in a full-service property. Here's how:
JetBlue is at it again with another flash sale -- this time, aimed at spur-of-the-moment travelers. For today only, the airline is offering flights starting at just $29 each way. Here are just a few of the great bargains they're offering:
Boston > NYC: $29
Los Angeles > Boston: $119
Richmond, VA > Orlando: $49
NYC > San Juan, PR: $109
Buffalo > Ft. Myers, FL: $89
Chicago > NYC: $79
NYC > Houston: $114
Las Vegas > Boston: $139
There are plenty more, so take a look at the official JetBlue Pop-Up Deal sale page. Special fares are available for flights booked for travel between October 12, 2010 and December 15, 2010 (with blackout days from November 23 through November 30). To take advantage of these prices you must book today by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of JetBlue Airways.
Boy, I thought renting a car in Atlanta was expensive when I paid more than $80 a day for a Ford Claustrophobe. But Atlanta, Georgia, has nothing on Tblisi, Georgia, where a weeklong rental will run you upwards of $1,000 per week. That is highway robbery, literally.
A new survey from travelsupermarket.com ranks the 20 most expensive countries for car rentals, as well as the 20 cheapest. Once you read the results, you'll realize there's more to fear in Africa than rowdy hippos: African nations make up half of the most-expensive list. Ireland came in with the cheapest weekly rates, followed by Spain, Portugal, and Malta. The United States was in the cheaper half of the car-hire spectrum (but not quite in the top 20) with an average weekly rate of $195.80—based on rentals from airports in Los Angeles and Orlando.
Here, then, are the results:
If you could pack for a vacation without using a suitcase—and thus avoid a $50 roundtrip airline surcharge—wouldn't you want to know about it? Of course you would. So why is Delta's inflight magazine, Delta Sky, refusing to accept this ad from SeV/ScotteVest?
Forget the “IT” bag. The new black is clothing that stands the test of time. And what's more indestructible than clothing made by a military uniform company? The Italian family USAI has made uniforms for the armed forces for more than 40 years; now they're bringing their top-notch workmanship and sartorial tradition to civilians in Italy and America. This wool jacket has a timeless appeal and exposed seaming that will please urban soldiers and travel warriors alike.
At $960, it is a bit pricey—but be assured it will be with you for years of
traveling the globe. Available at Julianne in Port Washington, New York
(516-883-0678, no website) or via USAI's website.
Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure's Fashion Director.
Photo by John Lawton.
The world's largest indoor theme park is coming to a sheikdom near you—well, as long as you live near Abu Dhabi, that is. That's where Ferrari World opens on October 27. The world's first Ferrari theme park (what, you thought there already was one?!) has shops, restaurants, and 20 rides celebrating various aspect of the Ferrari brand. No, these are not kiddie rides.
Here are the ones you'll want to hit first—or avoid, depending on your point of view: