Tag Archives: destinations

The most Beautiful Small towns in France

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The most Beautiful Small towns in France

Paris, the city the world is in love with! A beauty indeed, but there is plenty more to see in France than just the capital. From wine country to the Alps, there are thousands of beautiful villages and small towns in the country, and each region has its own special qualities. Travelling around some of the small towns in France means travel between hilltops, rocky coastal towns and breathtaking scenery while enjoying the local lifestyles of the people.

Among the thousands, here is a short list of small French towns with such beauty, they can rival any major city in the world:

Annecy

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Sometimes called “the Venice of Savoie,” this lakeside Alpine town is treasured for its sloping hillsides and the small canals that wander their way through the streets.

Pourquerolles

Fort Sainte AgatheÎle de Porquerolles is a Côte d’Azur gem which is an island paradise that’s also a small town. The best thing about this place is that after all these years, the car-free island is still a blissful, peaceful paradise!

Bayeux

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Tapestry is the highlight for most tourists to the town. Bayeux has an appeal of a mix of the classic (the Norman-Gothic Bayeux Cathedral dominates the skyline) and the more contemporary (a somber, minimalist World War II cemetery).

Eguisheim

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Eguisheim is very unique with its concentric layout of streets unlike other towns and villages in France. It is a magnet for tourism because of its flower-filled villages and colorful houses, which give it a fairy tale ambiance. One of my favorites on this list!

Dinan

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The prettiest town in Brittany! Set on a hilltop, this medieval town oversees the river of Rance. Dinan is surrounded with long ramparts or walls, Tudor type houses, port, cobbled streets, art galleries, and shops.

Perouges

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Perouges is a medieval walled town in the northeast of Lyon. The town is so romantic, homey and old-fashioned that it is often used in many films.

Lourmarin

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Lourmarin is poetry in motion. It has numerous cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and ivy-covered streets full of a lavender scent which will give you an exquisite taste of its locality.

Chamonix

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Although Chamonix’s proximity to Mont Blanc has made it a legendary skiing and climbing center. The town, with panoramic mountain views and rows of slant-roofed buildings, is lovely all year round.

Ars-en-Ré

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A charming town of bicycles! With its white-washed houses and traditional green shutters, hollyhocks, salt pans, and relaxing but sleepy beach town vibe, it is a pleasure to explore this tiny seaside village.

Eze

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For a more subdued Riviera experience, bypass Nice and Cannes for Eze, whose rocky hillside location 1,400 feet above the sea makes for stunning views of the Mediterranean.

Etretat

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Etretat is best known for its three natural arches and pointed needle. It attracts tourists and even celebrities because of its peaceful scenery.

And last, but definitely not least:

Colmar

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Picturesque Colmar has a section also known as “Little Venice,” thanks to the small canals that cut elegant lines past candy-colored houses. And locals aren’t the only ones inspired by Colmar’s beauty: some people believe the town was the model for Belle’s village in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!

~Karen Bahri

 

 

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18 of the World’s Strangest town names

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18 of the World’s Strangest town names

Whenever I travel to England, my flight typically goes over Ireland (I’m the type to always have the map on to see where I am traveling over) and I always notice this one town name that makes me laugh – Kilkenny, Ireland. LOL! What a name! I recently met someone from Ireland and asked him if he’s ever been to Kilkenny. He told me it’s actually a very beautiful place! I couldn’t agree more.

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Here is a list of more odd city/town names around the world:

1. Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll and Butte, Scotland

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2. Moron, Mongolia

Fine. it’s actually “Mörön”

3. Silly, Belgium

The name of this town derives from its stream called the Sille (French) or Zulle (Dutch) and has no relation to the English world (But tell that to an American!)

4. Hot Coffee, Mississippi

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5. Egg, Austria

6. Eek, Alaska

7. Gogogogo, Madagascar

8. Disappointment Islands, French Polynesia

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Sparsely populated group of coral islands which are arid, and not especially conductive to human habitation.

9. Drama, Greece

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Dramatically stunning!

10. Monster, Netherlands

11. Christmas Pie, Surrey, England

12. Come By Chance, Canada

13. Chicken, Alaska

Chicken, Alaska is a community founded on gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska.

14. Gofuku, Japan

15. Crapstone, UK

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16. China, Japan

Not to be confused with China, China 😛

17. Butthole Road, Doncaster, England

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Do you know anyone from there?!

and finally…

18. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales

Yes. A small village in Wales calls itself by a name with more letters than residents…

 

~Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

Sultan Cave Suites – Cappadocia, Turkey

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Sultan Cave Suites – Cappadocia, Turkey

Set on a hill with breathtaking views, experience Cappadocia cave living in modern-day luxury!

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Terraced above the village of Goreme, this exotic hotel offers the modern traveler a unique cave hotel experience. Relax & enjoy breathtaking views from the many stone terraces. The most picturesque experience is taken place in the early morning at sunrise, where one can bask at the sight of hot air balloons adoring the sky! You may also enjoy the panoramic view overlooking the village and surrounding valleys, mountains and the Erciyes volcano in the background. Heavenly!

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Aside from the view, the hotel itself is a visual delight with each room, corner and terrace charmingly decorated with simple artifacts showing the unique history of the area.  Built over the ancient cave dwellings used for centuries by locals, all the original cave walls have been preserved and integrated harmoniously into the room designs.

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In addition to preserving local architecture, Mehmet Dasdeler (of Sultan Cave Suites) opened the Cappadocia Cultural Center in the hotel. The three gallery rooms showcase antiques from across the ages. The Cultural Center also supports local and international artists by offering classical concerts, local traditional music concerts and art exhibits by local and international artists.

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I highly recommend staying here if you are looking for a non-traditional, adventurous accommodation!

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Location: 50180 Göreme Belediyesi/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

-Karen Bahri

BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

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BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA BY ANANTARA

An island paradise of natural exclusivity

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Welcome to Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara – an paradise sanctuary which respects local culture by offering an alcohol-free environment with world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence.

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Twenty minutes from the heart of Qatar’s vibrant capital, a luxury catamaran ferry crosses crystal clear water to reach a breathtaking island that feels a world away, while a private helicopter pad offers an exclusive arrival with a bird’s eye coastal view. Now, you are in paradise!

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The elegant 5-star accommodation is decorated with Arabic design and features a view of the Arabian Sea.  There are 141 rooms, suites, pool villas and over water villas setting the mood for romance and unforgettable holidays. One can take a dip into the private 800 meter beach or the 100 meter long lagoon pool. There’s even a surf pool! There are actually quite a wide range of water sports to enjoy. Leisure and entertainment also spoil you for choice, from bowling, golf and beach games by day, to VIP cinema at night.

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A golf course and a tennis court are available near the property. To keep the younger guests entertained, Cool Mint Children’s Club and Peppermint Teens’ Club have a wide range of toys and interactive games. The resort also boasts 9 dining options including a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves delectable fresh seafood and meat dishes in a trattoria setting. Al Nahham serves aromatic Arabic-Mediterranean cuisine with panoramic view over Doha skyline! Exotic mocktails and shisha are served by the pool bar.

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Each day at Anantara comes with an invitation to do it all or absolutely nothing at all. If you opt for the latter, experience how health and beauty go hand in hand with expert care, from delightful journeys in over water spa suites to holistic lifestyle programs at the dedicated wellness centre.

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This property is one of the top-rated locations in Doha! Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area. With world class facilities and limitless activities providing relaxation and adventure, wellness and pure indulgence, at the Banana Island resort one can escape into true Arabian luxury!

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~Karen Bahri 

 

 

 

Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Italy’s most Underrated destinations

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Ahhh Italy!!! Italy is such an amazing and beautiful country where there are sooo many famous cities/towns you have to check out. It’s like you have to take a couple months off so you can see everything! All the major cities – Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, oh my god!! Italy just doesn’t stop!!

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I’m about to make your Italian itinerary a bit more complicated (insert evil smile emoji) Forget the major cities…okay maybe not, but try for a moment. Wouldn’t it be nice to explore REAL Italy?! Outside the major tourist destinations? Wouldn’t it be cool to get lost and see what Italy is REALLY like? Of course it would!! Just brush up on some Italiano and follow my list of destinations in Italy that are a little less “well known” but you get away from the crowds and actually see Italy for what it REALLY is!

MODENA

The ancient town of Modena boasts to have the best restaurant in ALL OF EUROPE (Osteria Francescana) as well as it is the hub of Italian auto making.

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RAVELLO

Amalfi Coast – be damned! The cliffside town of Ravello also offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea!

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SIRACUSA

Settlements in this Sicilian archeological wonderland date back as far as 734 BC! Siracusa was once the largest city in the ancient world! It is best known for its Ancient Greek ruins as well as amazing food.

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PARMA

Home of …you guessed it! Parmesan Cheese! Parma is a foodie’s paradise as it is the first Italian city to win the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy award! It is also home of one of the oldest universities in the world – Parma University.

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MATERA

This ancient city is carved into a canyon believe it or not! It is one of the oldest still-inhabited places on earth and extremely exotic to visit!

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TRIESTE

Visiting Trieste is like pretending like you are actually in Slovenia, but actually you are not! This place is filled with Viennese coffee houses and Slavic restaurants. Uncommon for Italy, Trieste is kind of a melting pot of Italian, Latin, German, Jewish and Slavic people.

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So now which one or ones of these places do you think you want to include on your bucket list next time you are in Italy?? Let me know! 🙂

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Mood Brightening Travel Photographs!

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25 Mood Brightening Travel Photographs!

The slug of the daily grind can get you down sometimes. Whenever I am feeling down, in a bad mood, stressed or over-worked I look at pretty travel photography and my mood instantaneously lifts! Such is the personality of a travel enthusiast!  Here’s a collection of beautiful travel photos from around the world that I find mood-lifting and inspiring! It was hard to limit myself from posting 63,861,894 photos from 726,487,619 places, so lucky are these babies who made the cut! You may or may not notice a few of these I wrote about in previous blogs; but they are just too breathtaking not to mention! Hope this brightens your day!

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Kinsale, Ireland

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Venice, Italy

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Gold Coast, Australia

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Pamukkale, Turkey

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Swiss Alpes

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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Cyprus

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Iceland

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Bangkok, Thailand

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Cartagena, Colombia

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Freudenberg, Germany

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Chefchaouen, Morocco

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Neemrana Fort-Palace – Rajasthan, India

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Tahiti

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Maldives

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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Keukenhof Park – Lisse, Holland

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Dubai Miracle Garden

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Santorini, Greece

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Mont-Saint-Michel – Normandy, France

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Waikiki, Hawai’i

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Ashikaga Flower Park – Ashikaga, Japan

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Desert Camping – Wadi Rum, Jordan

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Purple Garden – Kyoto, Japan

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The Swallow’s Nest Castle – Gaspra, Ukraine

-Karen Bahri

The Absolute BEST New Resort in the Maldives!!!

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The Absolute BEST New Resort in the Maldives!!!

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If you know ANYTHING about me, you know the Maldives is on my top 3 (I say 3 but really 2 hah!) destinations on my list in the world!!! There are a few places I will always jump back to in conversation as my dream destination..and well, now we have another reason to go….

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A new 5-star, exclusive luxury resort has opened up this past November by the Soneva team called Soneva Jani.

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This is the third property by them that has pioneered around-the-clock butler service, a strong environmental code and a determination to disconnect from the noisy outside world (guests are asked to remove their shoes on arrival, which are then slipped into a linen bag until their departure; how relaxingly fancy!).

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The island lagoon of Soneva Jani will comprise of 57 villas – 24 water villas and 23 beach villas. All the villas will enjoy all the amenities of the resort, and each would get their own personal butler, as the same in all Soneva Properties, called Mr./Mrs. Friday.

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Each Water Villa will feature an amazing water slide and private pool, large lounge areas with open views on the blue, ample wooden decks, kids’ sleeping area, a living area with sunken seats, top floor with seating and a dining area as well as several other amazing living spaces.

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Among these, what you are not going to get enough of is the waterslide!!!!! YES, you can SLIDE your way to the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean!!!!! As if a private pool isn’t enough!

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The amenities for the beach villas are more or less the same, and all guests can enjoy the resort’s exclusive amenities.

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Soneva Jani Resort has a cinema, Cinema Paradiso, which is the first overwater silent cinema in the Maldives!

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Guests are provided with Bluetooth headphones, leaving the surrounding nesting wildlife at peace. The resort also includes the first ever over-water observatory, a beach restaurant, a spa, and a water and sports center.

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Inspired by a word that means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani encompasses a collection of Water Villas and Island Sanctuaries set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters, fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed in lush tropical greenery. The highlight of the islands that the resort is surrounded by 5.6 kilometers of private lagoon! An awe-inspiring azure spectacle that inspires a sense of calm.

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The resort can be reached by a scenic 40 minute seaplane flight direct from Male International Airport.

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Already making headlines in the hospitality industry, it’s not surprising if Soneva Jani will make it as one of the must-visit luxury resorts in the world!

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-Karen Bahri

 

Meliá Hotels International New Openings for 2017

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Meliá Hotels  International New Openings for 2017

So remember I just told you I stayed at the INNSIDE hotel during my Christmas staycation? Well I was asked to write a piece about the chains new 2017 openings and they have some really nice properties opening up around the world this year!! I really love this hotel chain and I definitely want to check out their global resorts when I travel abroad. I wrote up a piece after doing my research and had to show my colorful Kaleidoscopers, so please take a look! I do hope you all enjoy and hopefully will be able to share some info on a great fairly new hotel chain for you to also explore!

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Meliá Hotels International, S.A. (formerly Sol Meliá) is a Spanish hotel chain which was founded by Gabriel Escarrer Juliá in 1956 in Palma de Mallorca. The company is one of Spain’s largest domestic operators of holiday resorts and the 17th biggest hotel chain worldwide. Currently the hotel chain operates 374 hotels in 40 countries on 4 continents under the brands Meliá, Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, Paradisus, Innside by Meliá, TRYP by Wyndham, Sol Hotels and Club Meliá.

During a recent staycation, I personally had the pleasure of staying at the Innside Hotel Nomad, which is the brand’s first U.S. hotel. This newly built property is in close proximity to some of the city’s most sought after areas.

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The ambiance is posh and modern. The rooms are clean and bright plus they offer free WiFi and a free minibar in every room with sodas, juices and water. The hotel also offers a business center, fitness center, concierge and 24 hour room service to complete the experience. I have to take a moment to talk about the amazing view I had of the Empire State Building.

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My experience was amazing and this hotel chain is definitely one I will stay at while traveling in the future! With that in mind, 2017 should prove to be another vigorous year of expansion for Meliá, touting a pipeline of 18 scheduled openings, including Meliá’s first sustainable hotel, Meliá Serengeti Lodge.

I’m excited to provide for you this list of what this amazing chain plans to open globally in the year 2017. Take a look:

AMERICAS

Paradisus Los Cabos, Mexico (early 2017)

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Meliá Cabo Real will be converted into Paradisus Los Cabos in a renovation that will convert and upgrade the existing property. Paradisus Los Cabos will be set on 14.5 acres surrounded by a private golf course. It will also be a quick 25 minutes from San Jose del Cabo International Airport. The resort, the ninth in Paradisus by Meliá’s portfolio, will have 350 rooms and suites.

 

Meliá Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (Spring 2017)

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This will be Meliá’s fourth hotel in Colombia. The Meliá Cartagena de Indias is an adults only resort and will have 154 rooms and suites and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

 

ASIA

Meliá Shanghai Hongqiao, China (early 2017)

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Meliá Shanghai Hongqiao will be part of an urban complex that will feature a wide range of commercial and entertainment facilities, dining outlets, green areas and high end residential villas. The 190 room hotel will be situated in Hongqiao, an area expected to become the new center of west Shanghai and a business hub for the Yangze River Delta region. The hotel will also be near the world’s largest exhibition complex, the National Convention.

 

MIDDLE EAST

INNSIDE Doha, Qatar (middle of 2017)

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INNSIDE Doha will be next to the new Qatar National Museum, new Doha Metro station as well as  government and commercial offices, with views of the West Bay skyline and within easy access to Doha’s Hamad international Airport. The hotel will have 192 rooms. Doha is a city that is slowly but surely going to surpass Dubai within the next 10 years, so it’s definitely a city to look out for.

 

INDIAN OCEAN

Gran Meliá Huravee, Maldives (end of 2017)

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Gran Meliá Huravee will be located on the island of Kalhudiyafushi, 40 minutes from Male International Airport. The hotel, still under heavy construction, will have 95 private villas and 100 rooms, three restaurants, a bar and café, spa facilities, sports center and several shops.

 

AFRICA

Meliá Serengeti Lodge, Tanzania (middle of 2017)

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Meliá Serengeti Lodge will be Meliá’s first sustainable hotel. It will be located on the natural terraces on the southern slopes of Nyamuma, with breathtaking views overlooking the Mbalageti river. The hotel will be situated in the Serengeti National Park and have 50 rooms, communal lounge areas and restaurants with views of the stunning infinity pool and Serengeti National Park. This resort will make you feel like you are in paradise!!

 

EUROPE

EUROPE INNSIDE Glasgow & Birmingham, United Kingdom (end of 2017)

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INNSIDE Glasgow will be located in the old British Telecom headquarters. The building will be converted into a hotel with 175 rooms, restaurant and bar, meeting rooms, wellness center and car park. The hotel will be situated on Argyle Street, near Central Station.

INNSIDE Birmingham will have 180 rooms and will occupy the first 25 floors of the Regal Tower, located in the City Centre next to Brindley Place. Both hotels will join the INNSIDE Manchester which was the first in the UK.

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Meliá Hotels International is personally one of my favorite hotel chains and I am very excited about the new developments for 2017 and beyond! It’s a young and vibrant chain with a glamourous ambiance and extremely hospitable staff. I highly recommend considering the chain for your next vacation.

-Karen Bahri