The hills of Fiesole, Italy are about to be filled with the sounds of toddlers. The Villa San Michele—one of my absolute favorite hotels in the world—is launching a new kids program.
If you've ever been to the property, you wouldn't necessarily describe it as "child friendly." The 15th-Century hilltop Renaissance building was in part designed by Michelangelo and has the most breathtaking views of Florence. And while my 3-year-olds could care less about all that, now there's a reason to take them. Starting this May, the hotel is launching the "Smile Club" boutique, a complimentary program for kids ages 4-12 housed in a chapel on the property. There's jewelery- and craft-making, cookie baking, Italian lessons, treasure hunts, hikes, and even a dedicated kids concierge to direct you to the best kid-friendly spots in the city. Botticelli for you. Pizza for them. Need I say more?
Clara Sedlak is a mom of two and a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photos courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. | Genivs Loci
Is there anything better than spending $500 dollars a day to be clocked in the face by a miniature ski boot? Ah, yes, I'm talking about the joys of a family ski trip. (My back is still killing me from last month's adventure with my sons.) But truth be told, the physical suffering is well worth the ear-to-ear grins. What really gets me is how much I have to shell out for the pleasure. So last weekend, I decided to do some digging for deals. I'm not talking about the "Ski 7 days and get a free hot chocolate" variety. I was in search of some real money savers—and I found them. My three favorites, below:
• It turns out that if you stay at one of Keystone Colorado's mountain resorts, your kid can ski/board for free for the entire season, with no blackout dates. There's no fine print here. Trust me. I triple checked. Even better, you don't have to stay in some hole-in-the-wall condo 20 miles from the slopes. The accommodations are pretty luxe.
The symptoms were reaching dangerous levels. After being cooped up with our twin three-year-old boys in a 900-square-foot NYC apartment in the dead of winter, my husband and I had a serious case of co-op-cabin fever. The cure: Get out of dodge—and burn off some energy—as quickly as possible. My only prerequisite: BRING A FULLY CHARGED iPAD WITH US IN CASE OF A MELTDOWN.
As a native Floridian who spent half her childhood at Walt Disney World, I reacted to the recent announcement of MyMagic+, an RFID-enabled system that lets visitors interact with (and pay for) nearly anything in the Disney village, with a sense of cautious excitement—thrilled by all the possibilities this offers travelers, though wary of the privacy concerns that come with it.
Am I the only one who hears Donovan and remembers that scene in Goodfellas everytime I see Atlantis mentioned?
Okay, ridiculous confession aside, there’s good news for families looking for getaway ideas. (And really good news: this one doesn't involve Joe Pesci.) JetBlue is briefly offering a big deal: book at minimum 3-night vacation to Atlantis in the Bahamas, and your kids fly free, stay free, and eat free. Book before midnight Sunday (January 20) for travel before March 7.
There are some restrictions, natch: one kid per paying adult; blackout dates from February 13-26; maximum 2 adults and 2 kids per room; etc. But you KNOW how much it costs to fly the whole family anywhere—the airfare alone represents a big savings.
During a one-hour T+L Twitter chat sponsored by the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, T+L editors asked expert locals and Charleston insiders for their favorite places. We took some of the highlights and turned them into this mini-guide.
Farmer’s Market in Marion Square: Check out this 200-year-old fair for local produce and stone-ground grits. Firefly Distillery: This distillery is both a tea plantation and liquor manufacturer. Tour the 11-acre facility, then order a Sweet Tea Vodka martini. fireflyvodka.com Ghost Tour: Book a 90-minute haunted graveyard carriage ride with Bulldog Tours. bulldogtours.com; tours from $18 King Street: Charleston’s three-mile shopping promenade is lined with independent boutiques, including the well-known Heirloom Books. heirloombookcompany.com Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge: This single cable-stayed bridge opened in 2005; head across for views of the Cooper River. Sullivan’s Island: At the entrance to Charleston Harbor, Sullivan’s Island is home to sea turtles and tidal creeks, and it’s all just a 15-minute drive from King Street.
To learn more about Twitter Chats hosted by T+L editors, email “yes” to TLSocial@aexp.com.
EX-PATS, the Reserve Channel’s new YouTube series, showcases people who've abandoned the home front to pursue their passions in a more exotic culture.
In this next episode of EX-PATS, host Savannah Jane Buffet takes a trip to Placencia, Belize to visit Pam and John Solomon. After living the fast life in New York City, the couple decided to resign to paradise, packing their love for food and drink, and opening RumFish y Vino restaurant in this Belizean fishing village.
Now parents, Pam and John are thrilled to be raising their daughter, Libby, in a country where farm- or sea-to-table is the only way to eat. Press play to catch the island breeze.
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Yesterday, Disney announced Limited Time Magic—a year’s worth of weeklong celebrations for visitors to its Disney World and Disneyland resorts in 2013.
The announcement was made at a press event laden with the happy Disney touches (a barbershop quartet cheerily singing boy-band hits, a Mickey appearance, and a castle carved from 45,000 pounds of ice) but also a dark taste of the queen’s poisoned apple—a panel of marketing experts and psychologists placed surprisingly grim emphasis on the fleeting nature of childhood and the parents’ limited and precious time with their kids.
The 52 weeklong celebrations will feature limited-time elements—themed souvenirs that won’t be offered again, entertainment that will be performed only that week, special menu.
Spirit Airlines announced last week that beginning November 6, passengers arriving at their departure gate with a carry-on bag would be charged $100. If the passenger paid for the carry-on when they booked the ticket, the fee would drop to a who-could-possibly-object $30. For a carry-on bag!
New fees like these continue to be tacked on to airfares—and not just by cut-rate airlines like Spirit—plus travelers who actually pay for and check suitcases have to suffer through the vile rugby scrum at the baggage carousel. Options, like the ScotteVest, the jacket that conceals a Radio-Shack’s worth of gadgets, exist, but, um, our international editor Mark Orwoll looks better in it than I would.
LuggageForward.com, a baggage expeditor that uses UPS, FedEx, and DHL, offers prices that are (still) attractively competitive. Pay them $99 to pick up a 50-lb. suitcase a few days before your flight and it’ll be waiting at your domestic destination when you arrive. If Luggage Forward doesn’t get it there on time, they pay you up to $200.00 per day per item, up to $500. (The company also serves international destinations. And can transport awkward items like skis, bikes, surfboards, and golf bags.)