Ask T+L: Facebook Chat with Sarah Spagnolo
Q: What about Dubai? I’ve been to Al Manzil which was excellent. where else can I stay? Sarah Spagnolo: Well, I can’t stop thinking about the Burj Al Arab. It’s such a landmark in the UAE.
Q: I am going to agree with you! Thank You!
SS: We are also very excited about all the development happening now in Abu Dhabi. There are a handful of new hotels opening—a Park Hyatt, St. Regis, and property from Rocco Forte—and I’m sure many of them will land on the T+L 500 in the future. For more, check out this story, on 12 must-see destinations for 2012: travelandleisure.com/articles/hottest-travel-destinations-of-2012/6.
Q: My wife and I are planning a trip to Asia in October. What hotels would you suggest in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Bangkok?
SS: My favorite hotel in Asia is the Eugenia in Bangkok. It’s small and filled with antiques and there’s a charming pool in the backyard. You’ll have a great time! As for Hong Kong, a new addition to the T+L 500 is the Ritz-Carlton. It’s the world’s highest hotel, rising 118 floors above Kowloon.
Q: Any suggestions for Beijing?
SS: T+L readers gave the Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street the best score for interiors in China. Walls are decorated with works by famous local artists
Q: Thank you for your suggestions Sarah.
Q: Hi Sarah, I’m seriously considering traveling to Japan in May/June of this year. This will be a vacation; I’m currently serving, as a civilian, in Afghanistan. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and I’ve seen some very beautiful things that facinate me and makes me want to go even more. What can you say about Japan? I’m not a person who needs to live in the best hotels; you really aren’t in the room very much, so the things that interest me involves seeing in person.
SS: It sounds like you deserve a vacation! I’ve never traveled to Japan, but I’m absolutely intrigued by ryokans, Japan’s historic inns. Here are some recommendations: travelandleisure.com/articles/rethinking-the-ryokan. I’d also recommend reaching out to one of our T+L A-List agents. I’ve worked with Duff Trimble at Wabi-Sabi Japan and he’s very knowledgeable.
Q: Thank you Sarah...didn’t even think about the ryokans...a night or two stay has definitely made it on the list.
SS: Here’s the 2011 A-List: travelandleisure.com/articles/a-list-worlds-top-travel-agents.
Q: Hi Sarah, I want to take my kids (ages 4 and 6) on a spring break trip in the Caribbean (or direct flight from JFK) in March...but like a lot of couples my husband I want to stay at a luxury resort/hotel ...can you recommend some new and up and coming possibilities? Any new players in this category? In other words, a luxury resort that has kid-friendly areas and activities...
SS: The reopened Four Seasons Nevis is a great choice. Debra Messing told the magazine that it’s her top choice for a vacation with her kids. In fact, kids under 18 stay free.
Q: thank you!
SS: Turks & Caicos is also a great choice for families. Our readers love Beaches Turks and Caicos for its crafts center and DJ “academy.” Grace Bay has family villas as well as an adults-only wing.
Q: Hello Sarah, we’ve been to much of Western Europe and would like to explore other destinations in central Europe. What countries or cities would you recommend that are a bit off the beaten path?
Q: We’re excited about Montenegro because of the new Aman resort. Here’s more info: travelandleisure.com/articles/finding-paradise-in-montenegro.
SS: Also, have you considered the Baltics? They are less busy in shoulder season (May and early October), so now would be a great time to plan for an early summer trip.
Q: The Baltics sound perfect, thank you!
Q: What is the best time to visit Venice, Italy?
SS: Venice is great in the spring (late April to early June) and fall (September to October), though according to T+L writer Peter Weller, there’s no better time than Christmas: travelandleisure.com/articles/christmas-in-venice
Q: Thoughts on the best places for a honeymoon in late Sept/early Oct? Thanks!
SS: Honeymoon in the fall? What about Europe during shoulder season, when it’s cheaper and still warm. Hawaii is also a fun choice year-round. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is also a great choice. In fact, Mustique (part of the archipelago) was a runner-up honeymoon pick for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! It’s a little rainy in September in October, however. Head there in November for better weather.
Q: What’s the best place to stay in Santorini (cliffside resorts with view) and what’s the best place to stay in the Lake Como area for great views of the lake?
SS: T+L readers love Santorini! In fact, it was selected as the No. 1 island overall according to T+L readers in the World’s Best Awards survey. You won’t want to miss Katikies, which looks like it was sculpted into the cliffs. The views go on for miles.
Q: My wife and I are traveling to Paris for the first time (as adults) the 1st week of April this year. We’re blessed to be able spend our first few nights at the Park Hyatt in Paris. However after the Park Hyatt we have 5 more nights where we’ll need to bring back to something less expensive in the under $200 a night range. Any suggestions?
SS: We’re planning a feature on affordable Paris hotels for our April 2012 issue, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, the Hotel St-Jacques looks pretty great: hotel-saintjacques.com. Rates start around $175.
Q: I’m going to Amsterdam and Athens in May—what are some must-sees while there?
SS: Hi, Kaitlyn. Sounds like a great trip! In Athens, you won’t want to miss the New Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009: travelandleisure.com/activities/new-acropolis-museum. Amsterdam is an ideal city for the arts and for shopping. The Rijksmuseum is under construction until 2013, but the museum’s collection of paintings from by some of the masters, including Rembrandt and Vermeer, are on display in the Philips Wing. For even more on Amsterdam (including writer Simon Schama’s favorite shops and restaurants), check out our destination guide: travelandleisure.com/travel-guide/amsterdam.
Q: Hi Sarah, my husband and I are starting to plan our annual beach vacation for this Spring. Any suggestions for an over 18 resort that isn’t over the top expensive in the islands? Or Mexico?
SS: I love the One&Only Palmilla, in Los Cabos, Mexico. It’s not adults-only, but there is an adults-only pool. It’s intimate and very relaxing.
Q: Thanks Sarah, I’ll check it out? Also, in regards to great value in Mexico, the new Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort has rates that start at $219 a night.
Q: Hi Sarah, what small hotels do you recommend for Costa Rica?
SS: Costa Rica is such a fun destination. In fact, Andrew McCarthy just wrote a great feature story for our November issue: travelandleisure.com/articles/exploring-costa-ricas-osa-peninsula. T+L’s flash-sale site, Vacationist, also often offers great deals on hotels in Costa Rica.
Q: What is the best time to visit Brazil?
SS: Brazil has so much to offer, so it’s hard to give you just one time to go (though remember, our winter is the country’s summer). For inspiration, check out our Brazil destination guide: travelandleisure.com/travel-guide/brazil
Q: Hi Sarah, visiting Chicago in May...any suggestions in which area to stay?
SS: I love Chicago, and when I was there for the first week of May the tulips were blooming! The best hotel according to readers is the Peninsula, in the heart of the Magnificent Mile. You’ll have a great view of the flowers. Looking for a value-oriented option? Try the Conrad, where rates start at $205 a night.
Q: Thank you!! :)
Q: I have a question about hotel upgrades...for the past 2 yrs I have been bombarded with free stays in Vegas...I took up some of the deals last year and they were ok for the most part...my question is: is there a more efficient/better way to get upgrades if I don’t want to gamble anymore but would want to keep coming and enjoy the other amenities, like other hotels in different areas/states/countries who offer this based on stays alone?
SS: You should definitely look into loyalty programs, for example with Hilton and Starwood. Many hotel chains give priority to their loyalty program members based on how often they stay at their hotels. The Cosmopolitan is part of Marriott Rewards program, so members qualify for free nights and upgrades depending on how many points they earn. MGM’s MLife program lets you earn points from dining, entertainment, spa, and hotel stays, as well as from gambling. You can redeem points for upgrades.
Q: Thanks for all the suggestions, I am going to look into all of them! I have been to Vegas several times and didn’t know these things...I am excited!! Thanks again!
Q: Hello! Can you recommend a hotel & fun things to do in Jackson Hole? Or similar winter wonderland? Romantic getaway for anniversary!
SS: There are three Jackson Hole hotels on the T+L 500 this year: the Four Seasons, Snake River Lodge, and Teton Mountain Lodge. All of them are on the mountainside, which is great if you love to ski. But if you want to be closer to town and all the restaurants and shops, look at the Rusty Parrot Lodge, which is a small hotel just a few blocks from the main square.