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Lifestyle

After a record cold winter, bundling up with blankets and woolen socks, spring finally awaits. This is also the perfect time for a weekend getaway. But why go to the same places over and over? There are plenty of other exotic and exciting places to go.

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ida.hakansdotter View Comments
Lifestyle

Are you booking your flight around the world?  Do you have money to burn but having problems coming up with a theme?  There are plenty of “been there, done that” ideas you can probably come up with like food tours, viewing historical landmarks, backpacking etc. But if you have the cash to spend, why not coordinate your trip based on the indigenous and local wildlife? 

You can open your mind to the wonders of nature and possibly even get a great story out of it. Here is a great way to turn the entire world into your personal Zoo.

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emerse View Comments
Travel

Georgia is the world’s most expensive place to hire a car, according to a new study.

Car rentals in Ireland were the cheapest of the 131 different locations surveyed by price comparison website Travelsupermarket.com, followed by Spain, Portugal and Malta, while 11 of the 20 most expensive destinations to hire a car were in Africa. The prices were based on a week’s hire of a vehicle, using the same pick-up and drop-off points.

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Lana Galea View Comments
Lifestyle

You may have been to Disneyland, but these theme parks are in a whole different league. Forget classic bouncy castles or bumper car rides. These playgrounds may not be for everyone, but they are continually flooded with people who come for the exciting, the cute, the weird, the scary or the outright crazy experiences on offer.
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emerse View Comments
Lifestyle

Lets face it – we don’t all have the same tastes. And when it comes to expensive things, we can become even pickier about the brands, the activities and the destinations we care about and get behind.

Even a beach getaway can become a big point of debate, and while all the top beaches in the world may exude an incredible amount of natural beauty, we know that perfection is only truly achieved when the destination can provide the qualities that speak to you, not just your credit card.  So here’s some beach destinations to add to your menu based on various ingredients.

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emerse View Comments
Travel

A man has just embarked on a unique journey: travelling around the world without any luggage or bags of any kind.

Rolf Potts decided to put the concept of “travelling light” to the test by seeing how far he can go with only the items in his pockets.

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Lana Galea View Comments
Entertainment

Looking for a luxurious skiing weekend? The Travel Channel travelled to the resort of LAAX in Switzerland and stumbled upon a true winter wonderland…

The resort consists of three villages; Flims, Laax, and Falera. Flims and Laax were two of the first ski destinations in the world to embrace snowboarding, as well as the freestyle skiing movement for which Laax in particular has become well known. Recently, the village has acquired the trendy rocksresort, and what with the continued popularity of the luxurious Waldhaus Flims resort in Flims, LAAX seems set to become a household name with the top-end of the ski market.

Intermediate skiers are also in for an undiscovered treat. The adjoining villages of Flims and Laax are in the Graubunden region of Switzerland, one of the largest linked ski areas in the country, with over 220 km of piste. Flims is more low key, great for families, whilst Laax is more trendy, appealing to snowboarders and those seeking chic accommodation, such as the luxurious rocksresort. Its grey sugar cube-like buildings are as far removed from a typical Swiss ski chalet as you can get. The design of the apartments is contemporary and minimalist, but boast all the latest fixtures and fittings, and all apartments feature large panoramic windows with views of the surrounding mountains.

Rocksresort also has the added bonus of a “ski in, ski out” location; the ski lift is yards away from your front door and all the restaurants, shops and the piazza are buzzing with life. If you’re looking to stay somewhere a little bit alternative, then you’ll love uber cool rocksresort. If on the other hand you want old world glamour, history and tradition then The Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort and Spa in Flims fits the bill. Built in 1877, this impressive hotel is a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World and therefore has everything you’d expect. It was also voted best hotel in Switzerland in 2004 by the prestigious Gault Milau guide. It is a great base for couples and families and there’s a fabulous spa area, great for non-skiers. That’s not to say you won’t appreciate all the treatments and bubble beds, massage jets and neck cascades after a hard day on the slopes. The indoor pool is surrounded by glass, allowing you to enjoy the scenery whilst you swim. And when it comes to dining, the hotel has six restaurants ranging from the gourmet La Cena to the rustic new Tschaler restaurant. Accommodation is all very well but let’s not forget what you’re really here for; the skiing. So here’s some ski facts; the altitude of the ski area runs from 1100 to 3018 metres, the highest point being the top of The Vorab Glacier, the area’s only glacier but it does mean skiing is available year round. Seventy percent of the runs are located between 2,000 and 3,000 metres above sea level, making LAAX one of the more reliable resorts for snow. The season can usually run from as early as mid-November through to mid-April.

There’s a modern, fast and efficient lift system including Switzerland’s first six-person heated chair lift, which opened in 2006 on the Scansinas to Mutta Rodunda route. With 28 lift systems in total providing the capacity to transport more than 40,000 passengers an hour, queues are minimal, and there are lots of long, cruisey blue runs perfect for intermediate skiers but not quite so challenging for advanced skiers. One of the big pluses however is the easy 90 minute transfer from Zurich airport, which makes for a convenient weekend break and advanced skiers could cover most runs in this time without getting bored. Most of the terrain is above the tree line but for beginners there is a particularly pretty long green run to the village of Falera amongst the trees. In 2007 an additional new valley run down to Flims opened, making four pistes in total. Also in 2007 the snow cannon system was expanded offering guaranteed snow on all valley runs, and a light system was installed on the piste between Curnius and Laax Murschetg, making night-time skiing possible.

In 2008, Snow Wonderland, three special ski villages near the base stations of Flims, Laax and Falera opened, where children aged three years and older learn how to ski in a playful environment. This year LAAX received the family welcome award from the Swiss Tourist Board in recognition for its work as a family-friendly destination. LAAX is however best known as a snowboard hot spot with Europe’s largest half pipe. For serious snow boarders (and party goers) the time to be in LAAX is for the Burton European Open which celebrated its 10th anniversary in January of this year. Another event to look out for is The BRITS 2010 taking place March 21-28, 2010, one of Europe’s ultimate and longest established winter festivals with live bands, acoustic sets, home run style antics and world class riding. 

There are also 17 mountain side restaurants in the LAAX resort, serving everything from traditional Swiss cuisine to fine dining. 

Forget Chamonix and Verbier; this year stylish snow-seekers should head to LAAX instead for the latest in snow holiday heaven.

alex View Comments
Entertainment

Situated just east of the Caribbean Sea, Barbados is a coral island boasting some of the most breathtaking stretches of white sand beaches imaginable. But there’s more to this Caribbean gem than sun and sea.

Away from the luxury resorts and sunworshippers is where you’ll find what makes the island really special. Central Barbados has a rolling terrain of limestone hills and amid this lush scenery you can find some fascinating remnants of the island’s colonial past.

Barbados’ wild Atlantic-battered east coast is a hot spot for surfers, and the island is perfect for those looking for action, with activities such as wind-surfing, hiking, diving and more available to enjoy. Barbados is a great package of sun, sea, nature and adventure, and despite its popularity, you’ll have no trouble making it your own. Away from the glitz, it’s still a place to enjoy island rhythms, vibes and world-famous rums.

Half a million people can’t be wrong. That’s the number of visitors who flock to Barbados annually, and after a visit, it doesn’t take long to see why they come by the planeload: Barbados’ turquoise waters, white sand, stunning scenery and warm climate is the stuff dreams are made of.

QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Bridgetown
  • Population: 282,000
  • Area: 432 square kilometres
  • Official language: English
  • Currency: Barbados dollar
  • Climate: Tropical
alex View Comments
Entertainment

The European winter is looming once again… but you don’t have to resign yourself to dark grey days spent watching the rain pounding on your window.

On the contrary, winter provides the perfect opportunity to experience a different kind of ‘great outdoors’, especially with a trip to one of the top European ski spots, as voted by Forbes. So stop wishing for the rainclouds to disappear, and start planning a trip to one of Europe’s top winter wonderlands!

10. St Christoph, Austria

St Christoph, Austria
St Christoph, Austria

The Ablerg region - which includes St Christoph Lech, Stuben and Zurs - iswhere the sport of skiing was born. This is where ski pioneer Hannes Schneider perfected the Arlberg Method of skiing in the 1930s and later brought it to America, teaching legions of North American ski instructors. And the Arlberg region offers miles of interconnected trails, as well as a shuttle bus system that’s welcome at the day’s end after an adventure-packed day of skiing.

9. Lech, Austria

Lech, Austria
Lech, Austria

St Christoph’s neighbour, Lech, is an exclusive Alpine haunt of the quietly rich and famous. Fur coats are worn with pride and it’s the rare repeat guest who doesn’t own a pair of Strolz ski boots, which are handmade in the village. Lech and its neighbouring resort of Zurs are about privilege, excluding other skiers when 14,000 tickets have been sold, meaning the vast amount of terrain on offer can feel like a series of private slopes, even in high season.

8. Kitzbuhel, Austria

Kitzbuhel, Austria
Kitzbuhel, Austria

 Among ski racing fans, the medieval walled town of Kitzbuhel is famed as the home of the classic Hahnenkamm Downhill course, on which the World Cup Men’s Downhill is held each January. The town’s winding streets are lined with hotels, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and are especially enchanting at night. A good word of advice to visitors is to hire a guide for a classic Austrian ski safari that starts in Pengelstein and leads to the Jochberg/Pass Thurn area.

7. Megeve, France

Megeve, France
Megeve, France

Parisians are well-known for flocking to boutiques, jazz bars and restaurants… but they also flock to the slopes of Megeve, about an hour from Geneva in the French Haute Savoie. In fact, while the area has good intermediate skiing, the sport often takes a backseat to promenading, dining and cavorting until the early hours of the morning.

6. Courchevel, France

Courchevel, France
Courchevel, France

From a sporting perspective, Courchevel is one of the greatest ski resorts in the world. Courchevel is part of Trois Vallees, the largest ski area in the world, with 373 miles (600 kilometres) of marked pistes and 184 lifts. Make a beeline for Courchevel 1850, the village that’s the focal point for all the best skiing, shopping and nightlife…  a popular haunt for Parisians, but with enough Russian visitors to earn it the title Moscow on the Snow.

5. Meribel, France

Meribel, France
Meribel, France

The Meribel valley is the middle area of the three valleys that make up the massive Trois Vallees ski area. The area’s fast lifts and impeccable grooming meanyou can put a lot of miles on your skis every day. In fact, the piste choices are overwhelming. Meribel was founded by a Scot, Colonel Peter Lindsay, after World War II and modeled on Austrian ski villages. It’s particularly favoured by the Brits, who go there for the terrific lift system, excellent grooming and Anglo-flavoured French culture.

4. Cortina, Italy

Cortina, Italy
Cortina, Italy

With its cobbled streets and backdrop of the jagged Dolomites, Cortina is Italy’s answer to Aspen and StMoritz. In Cortina, no one skis before 11am, lunch is lengthy, and everyone takes part in the evening passeggiata(walk) along Corso Italia with fur-clad Romans, Bolognese and Milanese. Then it’s off for an aperitif at Enoteca and dinner at the Michelin-starred Tivoli, followed by a trip to a disco. That said, Cortina’s slopes are challenging enough, though they require a shuttle bus ride to link them. The best skiing is at Sella Ronda, a series of interconnected mountains that can be skied in one long day.

3. Klosters, Switzerland

Klosters, Switzerland
Klosters, Switzerland

Klosters is still known as the preferred resort of the British Royal Family, but it offers a quiet kind of chic. The skiing, which includes neighboring Davos, can be both scenic and challenging. And the run to the village of Kublis, which good intermediates can accomplish, is more than seven miles (11 kilometres) long.

2. St Moritz, Switzerland

St Moritz, Switzerland
St Moritz, Switzerland

Winter sports were essentially invented in St Moritz by the British in 1865, and St Moritz is still the quintessential Alpine resort. What other resort can boast winter polo in a surrounding of glacial peaks? The 218 miles (351 kilometres) of slopes are an intermediate’s paradise.

1. Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, Switzerland

The car-free village of Zermatt, dominated by the towering presence of the Matterhorn – one of the highest peaks in the Alps, is the definition of the Alps for many. The atmospheric narrow streets, charming shops, bars and pensions share space with ancient wooden mazot huts. And the skiing in Zermatt too is simply glorious. Zermatt has access to the highest lift-served terrain in Europe, at 12,533 feet (3,820 metres) at the top of the Klein Matterhorn glacier. The three main ski areas are interconnected, with bountiful terrain for all abilities. And skiing over to the neighbouring Italian resort of Cervinia for lunch is a long-time tradition. 

alex View Comments