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Stoweflake celebrates the 27th annual hot-air balloon festival

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 30, 2013 07:56 AM

Stoweflake Balloonfest.HiResTopShot.jpg
If you're looking for something unique and entertaining for all ages, head toward Vermont for the 27th annual Stoweflake Hot-Air Balloon Festival.

Voted a Top Ten Event of Vermont, the Stoweflake hot-air balloon festival kicks off Friday, July 12, 2013 at 4 p.m. with festivities and a twilight balloon launch at 6:30 p.m. The event will continue with two additional launches on Sat., July 13th at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and a final launch on Sunday, July 14th at 6:30 a.m.

Watch as more than 25 decorative balloons take flight July 12-14, 2013. Tethered rides are available for $10 per person. Or, you can lift up with the other balloonists for a New England hot-air balloon ride for $275 per person, plus tax (advanced reservations are required for these rides).

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Are these the most patriotic cities in America?

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 28, 2013 09:52 AM

4774363879_ce704ffb02_z.jpgFlickr: Bexatious
With Fourth of July right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about where to go to show your independent spirit. It's hard to deny any American city the title of "most patriotic" but Foursquare rounded up some of the more popular ones, if you want to escape for the long weekend.

The social media check-in site looked at check-ins from last year to create the lists of Most Patriotic and Most Historical.

Methodology: Foursquare looked at cities that had the highest jump in check-ins at parks, firework and parades on July 4, 2012. Boston didn't make the list... I guess we have this year to make a better impression. Get our your phones and start checking-in, Boston! The Esplanade will be full of fabulous entertainment next week, so check-in and let us know where you are.

If you feel like traveling, Foursquare says these are the most patriotic cities:

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Four Seasons Boston to open pop-up shop

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 23, 2013 06:00 PM

icecream-pop.jpgJoining the trendy pop-up trend is the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, just in time for the summer rush.

The Five-Star luxury hotel on the Boston Common is prepping its lobby for summer crowds with a summer favorite: ice cream.

Starting July 3 and running through Sept. 8, the hotel will host an ice-cream pop-up shop featuring ice cream from Gifford's Local Ice Cream. You can grab your $6 scoop Wednesdays through Sundays from 1-4pm.

The pop-up will also offer various ice cream dishes, like the Romeo & Juliet (2 scoops of various flavors for $9), The Kitchen Sink (5 scoops of various flavors for $15) and extra scoops for $3. Each cone comes with a free topping.

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Unleash your inner starlet at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 20, 2013 09:19 AM

Four-Seasons-LA6_Cabana-Manicure-Pedicure_Copyright-Don-Riddle.jpgHollywood is nothing without its stars, so why should you be treated like anything less than A-class? On your next visit to Los Angeles, stop by the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and embrace your inner starlet with their new cabana packages, meant to indulge your every command (and provide a little pampering, too).

Now through September, the hotel is offering poolside cabana packages ranging in themes from power couples to cast party, offering everything from Tory Burch sandals to spa treatments. Here's the deal:

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Report: The cheapest and most expensive cities to visit

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 16, 2013 03:17 PM

boston-haymarket.jpegLooking to save a little on summer travel? Maybe you have a few extra dollars you're willing to spend? TripAdvisor recently released the results of their annual study that analyzes the costs of a night out and overnight stay (a four-star hotel, cocktails, a two-course dinner paired with a bottle of wine, and round-trip taxi ride) in cities around the globe, giving travelers some insight into cost-effective travel.

Boston ranked third on the list, following Honolulu and New York City.

TripAdvisor looked at prices from June 1 through August 31, and showed the biggest increases happening in Orlando, Denver, Honolulu, L.A. and Seattle. Honolulu was the most expensive U.S. city ($504.94), while Oslo brought in the highest numbers internationally ($581.08). If you're looking for a budget trip, a night out in Vegas will cost you $272.94 and Sofia, Bulgaria, is a bargain at $158.42.

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New hotel trends for summer travelers

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 13, 2013 04:56 PM

Centennial Ale2.jpgBeer brewing and beer tasting is a new trend in luxury hotels.
It's the little luxury items we look forward to: chocolates on our pillows, a complimentary glass of champagne upon arrival or fuzzy slippers at our beside for turndown service. But all that's about to change, according to one PR company.

Hawkins International PR, based out of New York City, recently revealed their list of the top luxury hotel trends for this summer, looking at what's in, what's out, and what's happening at luxury hotels around the world. Whether you're into food, cocktails or amenities, you might enjoy something different this summer. Take a look:

Top Hops

What's Out: Cooling down with a fruity cocktail
What's In: Cooling down with a beer

Forget fancy cocktails with sugary names and even sweeter taste. This summer, hotels are inviting guests to beat the heat with cold brews. The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC is serving up an exclusive Centennial Pale Ale to celebrate their 100th anniversary, while Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH teamed up with local New England brewery Peak Organic to create the resort's signature Organic Amber Ale.The new Hotel Vermont in Burlington has partnerships with multiple local breweries including Drop-In Brewery and Wolaver Brewery.

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Top summer honeymoon destinations

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 9, 2013 02:29 PM

Fuschia-Peonies-Bridal-Bouquet.jpgSummer is the most popular time to get married. With everything in bloom and the weather at its peak for the year, brides of all ages and incomes are rushing to alter in an effort to capture the best ambiance Boston has to give. There are endless summer wedding venues in Boston, and once the details have been decided upon and the contracts signed, the real question looms: where to go on the honeymoon?

If you're still up in the air with your honeymoon plans this summer, Brides magazines recently ranked the top honeymoon destinations around the world. Here are the top 12:

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Virgin Hotels announces US openings

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 7, 2013 07:56 AM

The much-anticipated Virgin Hotels is set to open in various cities starting next year, bringing a whole new level of hospitality to travelers.

Richard Branson's newest venture announced that it will open a New York City location on the northwest corner of 29th Street and Broadway in the NoMad neighborhood. The New York Virgin Hotel is slated to open in 2016 and feature 300 guestrooms, meeting spaces and restaurants and bars.

"We are delighted to enter the New York market and specifically to play a part in continuing the NoMad neighborhood's growth as a dynamic destination," Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal said in a release. "Virgin's 60 million global customers can't get enough of New York City, and we hope to welcome them all with our trademark style, humor, innovation, and friendly customer service."

In addition to New York City, Virgin Hotels is also developing properties in Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and London. Virgin is expected to announce plans to open a 200-room property in Dallas, according to local Dallas reports. The first hotel, slated for Chicago, is set to open in the second quarter of 2014.

As for Branson: "At long last, the city that never sleeps will get a beautiful and irresistible Virgin Hotel to play, eat, work, mingle, and yes, even to sleep."

Readers: What would you expect to see at Virgin Hotels?

The Bermuda resort "buy out" package

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 4, 2013 08:51 AM

bermuda-beach-2.jpgElbow Beach, Bermuda

If owning your own resort on an idyllic island has always been a dream of yours, one Bermudian resort is ready to make your dreams come true.

Elbow Beach in Bermuda is giving guests the option to buy out the 50-acre beachside resort - the whole resort - for you and 199 of your closest friends. The Resort, the new package offered by the property, comes with everything. Literally. Because it would be yours in its entirety.

If you're not convinced that you would be the most popular person among your friends and co-workers by taking advantage of this package, here's a few things to help convince you:

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The hotel moment that had me in tears, and allowed me to heal

Posted by Melanie Nayer June 3, 2013 07:50 AM

I'll admit I'm a bit jaded when it comes to hotels. Some would say I'm a "snob", others might call it a "nice life" to be able to stay in luxury hotels around the world. However you view it and whatever you call it, I'm the first one to admit I'm fortunate to have experienced a side of travel journalism that keeps me connected with hotels around the world. It didn't come without hard work, sleepless nights and a perpetual state of jet lag - even when I'm home in Boston - but that's for another time... today is about the moments that capture this journalist's heart, and remind her why she's in that perpetual state of jet lag to begin with.

I'm in Florida right now preparing for the EyeForTravel conference that's taking place this week in Miami. I'm speaking at the event, along with many others in the travel industry, about the state of the market and travel trends in online marketing. I'll be speaking on social media, and how businesses can and should use content as a way to communicate with guests and the media via social media networks (more on that later).

I checked into the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach before the conference, to see family and catch up on some beach time before three days inside conference rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, where the conference is taking place.

If you've stayed at any Ritz-Carlton before, you know it's the service that sets them apart from their competitors. And while it's no secret I've spent many years covering Ritz-Carlton news and events, and following the brand's efforts on social media and expansion in new markets, I'm still always looking for that extraordinary moment to write about. That simple gesture that turned a bad day into a good one for a guest, the late-night cup of tea that is delivered when you're just off a 2 am flight from China, or a quiet conversation with a staff member. Believe it or not, when you cover hotels as frequently as I do, the employees of these hotels become family - the people you look forward to seeing and catching up with when you return. Which is why what came next truly touched me.

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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