watch the (tennis) ball drop in abu dhabi this new year’s

December 16th, 2011

This holiday season, watch a different kind of ball drop at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, taking place in Abu Dhabi December 29-31. Six of the world’s top ten players will compete for the title in Abu Dhabi. The all-star line-up includes world number 1 Novak Djokovic, world number 2 and 10-time Grand-Slam Champion Rafa Nadal, world number 3 and 16-time Grand-Slam champion Roger Federer, world number 5 David Ferrer, world number 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and world number 16 Gael Monfils.

(Photo Courtesy of

happy birthday to you

December 15th, 2011

Red Fort Delhi

Red Fort in New Delhi (

Happy, Happy birthday to the city of New Delhi today! The foundation of the city was laid on December 15, 1911 by King George V and Queen Mary. Since that date, it has become one of the fastest growing cities in the world with a population of 19 million!

Stop by to give your best wishes and see how well it’s aged with Banyan Tours & Travels. The bespoke tour company can arrange an itinerary to see the city’s sights and many cultural offerings! Here’s to another prosperous 100!

crystal serenity rescues capsized rowers!

December 14th, 2011

Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity rescued two rowers this morning while en route to St. Maarten from the Canary Islands.  The rowers’ small boat capsized 480 miles west of the Canary Islands after a large wave sunk their boat. Twenty-three-year-old Tom Fancett from the U.K. and Tom Sauer from the Netherlands, competitors in the 2011 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge Race to row across the Atlantic, were huddled on a tiny life raft for 10 hours before being picked up by Crystal Serenity at 6:00 a.m. local time. The ship was 120 nautical miles north of the rowers when it received the rescue assist call from the Falmouth (U.K.) Coast Guard.

Sailing at full speed to the boaters, Captain Økland maneuvered Serenity through the remaining Atlantic Challenge racers and worsening weather. With lookouts posted throughout the night, Crystal Serenity located the boaters’ flare five hours later, hoisting them directly onto the ship.  After a checkup in the ship’s medical center, the survivors appear to be healthy.  Crystal Serenity expects to arrive on schedule in St. Maarten on Sunday.

“Both individuals are in good spirits and, of course, very happy to be alive,” says Crystal’s President Gregg Michel.  “We are so proud of the quick reaction and skilled seamanship of our crew that enabled them to save these brave men.  While these young men hoped to cross the Atlantic in a most basic fashion, they are certainly experiencing the crossing in the most luxurious environment – an ironic, and heartwarming, turn of events.”

for all your nantucket wedding needs…

December 14th, 2011

Nantucket Island Resorts has launched a brand new weddings website (!

Featuring The Wauwinet and the White Elephant, the new site includes tips from on-property and local area wedding planners, a list of preferred vendors, suggested activities for weddings guests, catering options, bridal package details, and more. The fully updated site is the perfect resource for any bride planning a wedding on Nantucket.

It’s true. Most people think of Nantucket as a summer destination, but the spring and fall seasons – or “secret seasons” as we like to say – are an amazing time of year to visit, and ideal for weddings. The weather is fine, the stores and restaurants are all open, and there is nary a crowd in sight. Not to mention, prices are low and the hotels aren’t completely sold out!

Here are just a couple of island-chic wedding ideas to whet your appetite:

For windswept romance…
With the magnificent view of the bay and Nantucket’s coastline as a backdrop, a Wauwinet wedding is an intimate and elegant affair. Say ‘I do’ on the private beach or on the raised Zen deck and enjoy Butter Poached Lobster and Parmesan Crusted Atlantic Halibut from TOPPER’S post-ceremony.

For preppy elegance…
The White Elephant offers equally stunning views of Nantucket Harbor. Opt for a ceremony on the lawn or get married downtown in one of the island’s quaint historic churches. Stroll along the cobblestone streets back to the hotel for a reception catered by Brant Point Grill and dance into the night with the glimmering lights of the harbor in the background.


now in season: nantucket bay scallops!

December 13th, 2011

All scallops are not created equal, and Nantucket bay scallops’ sweet flavor and velvety texture has made these island natives a favorite among gourmands. Nantucket scallop season kicked off last month and is in full swing through the end of March. There has never been a better time to feast on the tiny delicacies as the icy waters of Nantucket Bay make them plumper and juicier.

Head to Nantucket this winter to taste the native seafood straight from the source.  When you aren’t getting your scallop fix, cozy up at the historic Jared Coffin House, warm up with a beer at Cisco Brewery, and browse the quaint shops on Main Street.

Can’t make it to the island? Baked, sautéed, or seared, there are so many delicious ways to prepare scallops at home. Try this tasty recipe from Chef Fred Bisaillon of the White Elephant’s Brant Point Grill.

Scallop and Ham, with Crisp Parma and Arugula (Serves 4 people)


1 lb. Nantucket bay scallops
¼ tsp. kosher Salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black Pepper
4 oz. Parma ham cut into 2” squares
1 lemon cut into 4 wedges
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
½ lb. baby arugula


  1. Season scallops with salt and pepper
  2. Heat pan on med/high heat, add olive oil, then place scallops in the pan
  3. Let scallops cook (without moving them) for 30-45 seconds
  4. Add butter to pan, and turn off heat.
  5. Move the scallops around the pan for another 15-20 seconds. They should be golden brown on one side, and butter should be brown but not burned.
  6. Spoon scallops and warmed oil/butter over the Arugula, and place Parma ham in the same pan for 20-30 seconds until warm, then place on top of scallops.
  7. Squeeze lemon wedges over the scallops


wonderful, wonderful copenhagen

December 12th, 2011

Image courtesy of

Mark Bittman knows food, and he’s picked Copenhagen as the newest breakout culinary city. Serious foodies will be already be familiar with Noma, the two Michelin star restaurant run by chef Rene Redzepi (and Restaurant Magazine’s Best Restaurant in the World the last two years running), but Bittman’s recommendations don’t stop there: there’s also Relae (run by Noma alumni), Geist, Paustian, Schonnemann, and Kodbyens Fiskebar. From the Robuchon-style mashed potatoes with pickled brown crab at Geist, to the herring smorrebrod sandwiches at Schonnemann, each restaurant serves up traditional Danish fare with a modern twist.

It’s not only the restaurants in Copenhagen that are cool—the city is also home to its very own Ice Bar, where everything from the walls and furnishings to the cocktail glasses the vodka libations are served in are made from ice specially imported from the Tome River in Jukkasjarvi, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. The bar’s kept at a crisp 23 degrees Fahrenheit—so bundle up!

If your appetite’s been whet for the latest in creative Nordic cuisine, Crystal Symphony will be making six calls to Copenhagen in 2012, including three overnights, giving you plenty of time to sample the best the city has to offer. Book Now All-Inclusive fares start at just $5,890/person, double occupancy, through December 31. And for an even greater in-depth tour of Scandinavian gastronomy, Crystal’s Wine & Food Festival-themed August 14 sailing from Stockholm to London will feature two renowned Nordic chefs on board.

oh, sunny santa fe would be nice

December 8th, 2011

There’s a reason Angel and Collins from our favorite musical, Rent, wanted to leave New York to open a restaurant in Santa Fe. The City Different was recently voted one of the Top Ten US Food Destinations by TripAdvisor!  Now you can learn to cook like a Santa Fean chef at the charming Inn on the Alameda, recently named one of Condé Nast’s Top 200 Hotels, with the Taste the City Different Package. Led by a chef from the Santa Fe Cooking School, guests will take an afternoon tour of the city with four stops at unique dining destinations, where they can taste the menus, meet the chefs and owners, and learn about the eclectic mix of old and new that defines the region’s distinctive cuisine. The package also includes a cooking class, where guests will learn how to throw some southwestern flair into their kitchens at home.

January to April, 2012 dates are:

January – 1/19-21

February – 2/2-4; 2/9-11; 2/16-18; and 2/23-25

March – 3/1-3; 3/8-10; 3/15-17; 3/22-25; and 3/29-31

April – 4/5-7; 4/12-14; 4/19-21; and 4/26-28

So jump on the bandwagon, and find out for yourself why everyone is talking about Santa Fe!

To see if your favorite U.S. hotel made the list, click here!

no need to dream by the fire, these holiday packages will have you walking in a winter wonderland

December 1st, 2011

La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa, Geneva, Switzerland

Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa is offering guests the perfect holiday getaway. Complete with a private ice-rink and traditional Christmas Market-style winter chalets, La Réserve Genève will be transformed into a true Winter Wonderland starting December 13.

Set within La Réserve Genève’s large onsite gardens, the Winter Wonderland will offer spectacular views of Lake Geneva. La Réserve guests can book a private skating lesson or glide solo across the ice before enjoying the festive winter chalets. Despite the chill in the air, a chic waitstaff will be serving festive treats such as crêpes, waffles, oysters, mulled wine, Sancerre, Champagne, and caviar.

A two-night weekend stay at La Réserve Genève starts from $1,076 (based on two sharing a double room) and includes full use of all hotel facilities including the spa, fitness center, swimming pool, indoor tennis courts, and the Winter Wonderland.  To book: / +41 22 959 59 59.

La Réserve’s Winter Wonderland is open to hotel guests only from December 13, 2011, to February 26, 2012.

Eden au Lac, Zurich, Switzerland

While the singing Christmas tree at Werdemühleplatz and the hot spiced wine at Europe’s biggest indoor Christmas market may keep Zurich merrymakers grounded, the most festive spot in town is perched high above the city streets! Eden au Lac’s Top of Eden terrace is celebrating the holidays in high style with private fondue tastings and a rooftop Christmas market.

Nothing beats fondue – except for fondue with a view! Choose from truffle or classic flavored fondue paired with mulled wine while enjoying amazing views of Lake Zurich.  Stay warm with gingerbread, hot chestnuts, and cozy blankets. The festively decorated terrace can now be exclusively reserved for a private fondue tasting for two for just 310 CHF (approximately $337).

Skip the crowded stores and take shopping to the next level at Zurich’s smallest Christmas market located on Top of Eden! From November 27-December 23, guests can shop the city’s best kept secret while snacking on Wienerli sausages, roast chestnuts, and Christmas biscuits for 49 CHF (approximately $53).

Pavillon de la Reine and Le Pavillon des Lettres, Paris, France

Paris at Christmas time is magical, with vin chaud and gingerbread sold in the Tuileries, twinkling lights adorning the Champs-Elysées, and charming holiday markets such as the historic Marché de Noël. The impossibly chic Pavillon de la Reine and new literary-themed sister hotel Le Pavillon des Lettres are the ideal places to ring in the Yuletide with luxurious accommodations and special seasonal treats.

Guests of both hotels who book the “Parisian Christmas” package for the festive season will have the option to explore Paris’ grand boulevards by night on an enchanting chauffeur-driven journey past department stores awash with lights and elaborate window decorations, by the lavishly decorated tree on Notre Dame Cathedral’s main plaza, and down the majestic Champs-Elysées lined with light-drenched trees stretching all the way from Place de l’Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.

For many Parisian Christmas guests, the holiday season would be incomplete without a generous helping of delightful bites, who may opt to visit one of the most beautiful chocolateries in Paris instead, where they will learn about the fascinating history of chocolate-making and sample their decadent creations.

The “Parisian Christmas” package includes accommodations for two in a Deluxe Room at Pavillon de la Reine or Le Pavillon des Lettres and either a chauffeured evening tour through Paris or a visit to local chocolatier.

Package rates at Pavillon de la Reine and Le Pavillon des Lettres start at €450 and €350, per night respectively. Two night minimum stay is required. Package is valid for travel December 11 through December 27. To book: Tel : 33 (0) 1 40 29 19 19 or or Tel : 33 (0) 1 40 24 26 26