avoid stress and prepare for ‘surprise’ hotel fees

July 30th, 2012

The end of your vacation should leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to take on the world.  Don’t let checking out the hotel on your way home negate all of that hard-earned relaxation, especially when you find those pesky “surprise fees” on your bill! We’ve put together a list of the top “surprise fees” to prepare you for your next vacation and help you to avoid checkout woes. Here are our top fees to look out for:

– Some hotels charge an extra fee for the use of a minifridge, even if you’re using it to store your own food. An alternative:  Make your own mini-fridge by stocking up on ice from your floor’s ice machine and keep your items in this makeshift cooler!

– When staying in a big city or remote resort location, parking is a common issue.  However, some hotels use a mandatory valet service.  Your car may be more secure in the hotel’s garage; but if you don’t want to pay – look for independent lots in the area.

– It is uncommon today for a hotel not to have wifi.  But some will charge you for access to log into their wifi connections.  Our advice? It’s vacation! Maybe you can leave your laptop off and use the lobby computers for any emergencies.

Want learn about more hotel fees that may be added to your bill?  Click here to read what SmarterTravel.com’s Caroline Morse has discovered!


discover the quiet beauty and urban sophistication of canada from the teak decks of crystal symphony this fall

July 26th, 2012

From the idyllic archipelagos along the St. Lawrence River to the grandeur of the Basilica Notre Dame de Montreal and the unspoiled beauty of the Magdalen Islands, experience the fall foliage, natural wonder, and cosmopolitan elegance of Canada aboard Crystal Symphony’s “Treasures of Canada” sailing. This seven-day, round-trip Montreal cruise, departing on September 30, 2012, is a brand new itinerary for the award-winning cruise line and has three maiden calls, including one in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, North America’s last vestige of the French Republic and Al Capone’s “home-away-from-home” during the island’s golden era of Prohibition profiteering. Other ports-of-call include Sept-Îles*, Magdalen Islands*, and Quebec City, Canada. With Crystal Symphony fresh from a $15 million “Extreme Makeover,” sailing aboard the très chic ship is more luxurious than ever.

Book by August 31, 2012 for all-inclusive rates as low as $3,055 per person (not including port, security, and handling charges). This cruise-only fare includes all beverages including fine wines, champagne, premium spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages; gratuities for all room categories, dining, and bar staff; specialty on board dining, including Prego and Silk Road and The Sushi Bar by Nobu Matsuhisa; 24-hour room service; fitness and enrichment workshop classes, and much more. For additional information, please visit www.crystalcruises.com.

*Denotes maiden call for Crystal Cruises

eye makeup remover, sans greasy lids

July 24th, 2012

Grimy, greasy, sensitive – these are some of the most chronic complaints from women who often feel like their eyes had an oil bath after removing their makeup.  This should be a process that leaves a feeling of clean and nourished skin.  The new ESPA Bio-Active Eye Cleanser flawlessly removes makeup without the slick feeling.  It also conditions, hydrates, and protects delicate lids and lashes leaving eyes feeling clean (not greasy!) and fresh!

Bio-Active Eye Cleanser is great for all skin types.  It conditions without drying or irritation.  As with all ESPA products, Bio-Active Eye Cleanser is 99% natural. The nurturing cleanser uses Hyaluronic Acid, known for its anti-ageing and moisturizing benefits, to plump the skin and reduce fine lines while soothing and calming. The result? Beautifully cleansed and cared for eyes and lashes.

Why is this better than traditional eye makeup remover?

  • Gently yet thoroughly removes eye makeup
  • Conditions lashes
  • Leaves lids feeling clean and hydrated (not slick or slimy)
  • Suitable for sensitive skin around the eyes and contact lens wearers
  • Free from synthetic fragrance
  • More than 99% natural with no silicone

Key Ingredients:

  • Hyaluronic Acid – Contains anti-aging and superior moisturising properties
  • Coconut Oil derivative – Aids removal of eye makeup for a non-greasy feel
  • Naturally derived Propanediol – Conditions skin and eyelashes
  • Moringa Oleifera Extract – Helps protect against pollutants
  • Lipopeptide – Helps calm and soothe skin to prevent sensitivity
  • Malachite Extract – Anti-oxidant properties to help protect the skin

Price: 3.38 oz bottle   $40

Available at us.espaonline.com


smooth beats at sumfest 2012

July 23rd, 2012

Everyone’s abuzz about last week’s Sumfest, Jamaica’s number one music festival whose lineup of star reggae artists has earned it the lofty title of “Greatest Reggae Show on Earth.” The weeklong event, whose musical talent included big names like John Holt, Shabba Ranks, Trey Songz, and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, takes place every July in Montego Bay.

Thursday was “Dancehall Night,” an opening concert that got everyone jumping with hot, new Jamaican talent like Popcaan, Tommy Lee, and Kiprich. Reggae legend Shabba Ranks gave a moving performance the following night, her first concert in Jamaica in over a decade. Joining the cadre of cool were old-school pros like John Holt, Leroy Sibbles, Yellowman, and U Roy, who commemorated Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence with smooth island beats that made concert-goers never want to leave.

Sound like a good time? We envision the ultimate Jamaica vacation in the making… Next year, the event will take place July 14-21. Book a stay at The Caves, an Island Outpost property located near the westernmost point of Jamaica whose ten acres of lush scenery boast thirteen cliff-side accommodations with panoramic views of cobalt ocean. Featuring an open-air Aveda Concept Spa and a rum and cigar bar set in a grotto, The Caves is ready to turn Sumfest into the perfect summer break. Mark your calendars!

nisantasi shopping district: the best of the best

July 20th, 2012

Left photo courtesy of Visit2Instanbul.com

Shortly after Istanbul’s historic Nisantasi neighborhood was settled by palace staff and members of royalty from the Topkapi Palace, the area began to thrive.  With its immaculate reputation favored by the upper echelons of Turkey, Nisantasi has continued living up to its legacy and is still one of the most glamorous and preferred neighborhoods in Istanbul.

From luxurious boutiques to internationally acclaimed fashion designers such as Prada, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and more, Nisantasi is Istanbul’s trendiest shopping district.  Out of the four main avenues in the district, New York Times writer Kavitha Rao shares some of the most popular shops in the area, many of which are popular among top fashion icons such as supermodel Gisele Bündchen and actress Meg Ryan.

After a long – but so worth it – day of shopping in one of the most famous areas in the world, give your feet a break and head to Park Hyatt Istanbul, conveniently located in the heart of Nisantasi.  Better than a home away from home, Park Hyatt Istanbul provides all the relaxation activities one expects from a Park Hyatt, including an outdoor pool, luxurious spa, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.  After some down time, indulge in some cocktails, tapas, and outstanding meals at Park Hyatt’s restaurant, lounge, terrace, and wine bar.

keith richards at home at parrot cay

July 20th, 2012

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is a rock n’ roll legend but we bet you didn’t know he’s also a loving father, adoring grrandfather, and a legendary dominoes champion. Vogue’s recent feature on Richards and his family’s vacations to their retreat at Parrot Cay describes the relaxed island lifestyle that keeps them coming back.


la réserve ramatuelle joins the elite ranks of france’s palace hotels with prestigious new rating

July 20th, 2012

La Réserve Ramatuelle has officially been named a palace hotel. Only 11 other hotels of the 188 five-star hotels in France have earned the prestigious title since it was created in 2010. Appointed by the French Government, according to specific criteria, palace hotels are considered the best of the best, adhering to the highest standards in quality of service, accommodations, and care for guests.

Nestled on a hillside just outside St. Tropez, La Réserve Ramatuelle is composed of nine rooms and 19 suites designed by internationally renowned architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, and 12 villas designed by interior architect Rémi Tessier. The property features strong lines and a minimalist design, creating a modern yet natural environment, with the ocean-facing side of the building made mostly of glass.

An integral part of the guest experience, the spa focuses on anti-aging without the use of invasive procedures. Individual treatments from La Mer, as well as the hotel’s signature line, are available. The spa’s signature offering is an all-encompassing six-day program that offers a bespoke plan to promote anti-aging and wellness.  After a consultation with onsite experts, guests are prescribed a combination of up to four spa treatments each day, an exercise regime, custom meal plans, and stress-reducing practices. Spanning more than 10,000 square feet, the spa features an indoor pool with a jet lane, an outdoor pool and pool house, a steam bath, and a fitness center with Technogym equipment and a Kinesis Wall. Outdoor physical activities include walking, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking.

The property joins 11 other hotels on the list. These include:

  • Four Seasons Hotel Goerge V, Paris
  • Le Bristol, Paris
  • Le Meurice, Paris
  • Le Plaza Athénèe, Paris
  • Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, Paris
  • Le Byblos, St. Tropez
  • Le Chateau de la Messardière, St. Tropez
  • Les Airelles, Courchevel
  • Le Chevel Blanc, Courchevel
  • Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz
  • Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, St. Jean Cap-Ferrat



6, Cours de Rive . 1204 Genève . Suisse

DIRECT T+ 41 22 317 16 16  . P +41 79 909 95 08  . F+  41 22 317 97 13




expert how-to: avoid sun damage and still get tan

July 19th, 2012

Yes, everyone looks better with a golden glow. The drawback is that spending hours in the sun takes a toll on skin. We asked Guinot’s Director of Education and keeper of myriad beauty secrets, Elizabeth Murchison, for her tips on how to protect your skin (and still look fabulous!).

What does sun exposure do to your skin?

Sun exposure causes pigmentation and uneven skin, ages the skin, and could cause serious problems such as skin cancer.

What’s the best way to fight sun damage? (Okay, this was an easy one!)

The best ways to fight sun damage is to apply an SPF of 15, 20, or 30 approximately 20 minutes before leaving your home (the actives need time to settle in the skin). If you are planning on being out for a day at the beach, running errands, or taking a fun walk in the neighborhood, you should apply your SPF every two hours as sun protection has minimized.

What is the best way to look tan without damaging your skin? (more…)

guinot’s new secret weapon for late nights

July 18th, 2012

Over time, the effects of ageing, stress, poor diet, smoking, and lack of sleep all become visible on the face, causing the skin to lose its vitality and radiance and reveal signs of fatigue. In just three minutes, Guinot’s newest product, Masque Dynamisant, will combat this problem by not only renewing the skin’s natural radiance, but also revitalizing, moisturizing, and illuminating the skin for a burst of energy for the face.

  • The combination of mint and eucalyptus essential oils refreshes the skin to restore radiance and vitality.
  • AHA Complex eliminates dead skin cells and brings forth new cells to illuminate the skin.
  • Dynalift, or Sorghum extract, forms a film which coats and visibly lifts the skin’s surface.
  • Lift Firming Complex combats skin laxity, creating an instant and intense firming effect.
  • All the while skin is moisturized with Guinot’s Hydrocyte Complex, the biological moisture source that actively hydrates cells at each level of the skin, leaving faces feeling supple and refreshed.

Perfect for a quick fix after a late night, give the skin’s complexion a boost of radiance and return to work looking and feeling refreshed. The Masque Dynamisant is also paraben-free and has not been tested on animals.


Apply on the face morning and/or evening, taking care to avoid the eye contour. Leave on for at least three minutes, but no longer than 10 minutes.

Masque Dynamisant comes in a 1.6oz tube and is priced at $39. Guinot products are carried in over 1,000 spas and salons within the US.  To locate a spa, visit www.GuinotUSA.com.

from relaxation to adventure: stand up paddle boarding has it all

July 16th, 2012

A couple goes stand up paddle boarding at Island Outpost’s GoldenEye in Jamacia

A new surfing trend is sweeping the beaches, allowing novice and experienced surfers alike the chance to experience their very own surfing safari.  Made popular by Laird Hamilton (big time surfer Bill Hamilton’s son), stand up paddle boarding is versatile and easy to learn, unlike surfing.

Stand up paddle boarding, also called SUP, can be as difficult or easy as you want.  To start off, it is best go in calm waters and prepare for a relaxing day cruising around the ocean, lake, or river.  Stand up paddle boarding has an effect that makes you feel as if you’re walking on water.  More experienced “SUP”-ers can go out in the tide to have more of a thrill ride!

Some SUP-ing is best with a little motivation, like when Wall Street Journal Columnist, Charles Bethea took his first SUP adventure.  He kept his eyes on the prize:  an ice-cold rum drink overlooking the ocean.  Bethea went out with his instructor off the coast of Anguilla to cross the water and over to an island where his drink was ordered and waiting for him.  He completed his journey and ended back on the beach gloating, almost soberly. Read more about his experience here.

Do you want to have your own SUP adventure? GoldenEye Resort in Jamaica offers personal SUP lessons around some of the most breath-taking sites.  Wata Sport Beach is available for anyone to learn and perfect their favorite water sports.  If you need some personal motivation like Bethea did, make your reservation at the Bizot Bar, paddle up, and enjoy!