Tag Archives: vacation

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Christmas/Hanukkah staycation at the Innside Hotel!

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Christmas/Hanukkah staycation at the Innside Hotel!

As 2016 comes to an end, I can safely conclude this has been the worst year of my life. I was telling a friend the other day after much thought, I don’t believe that just because a new year is approaching doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be a new start or a better year. Its not like things are going to magically glow like Disneyland 😐. I live in a world of reality and I just don’t think so.

Anyways, because certain travel plans backfired followed by new travel plans that backfired (my medium friend told me it’s due to the mercury retrogade. Google it.) I created MY OWN PLANS. Because I obviously cannot depend on anyone besides myself, I decided to book a staycation!

Since I’m the most indecisive human being on the face of the earth, this took me about 3 days of researching a hotel 😂😂…I finally made the plunge and booked The Innside hotel. I’m definitely glad I made this decision! The Innside hotel is a part of the Melia hotels & resorts . If you have been to Miami Beach, I’m sure you have seen a hotel called “ME”, which I learned is apart of this hotel family.

Meliá Hotels International was founded in 1956 in Palma de Malorca, Spain. That being said, there are a lot of Spanish guests at this resort! Holaaa! 😉 It is one of the largest hotel companies in the world and the largest in Spain in both resorts and city hotels! The company currently operates more than 370 hotels in 43 countries and 4 continents under its brands! So lets get straight into my weekend and my overall thoughts of this hotel!

Located on the border of Chelsea & Flatiron, which happen to be my favorite neighborhoods, the building is big & beautiful! They play nice jazz music as you enter and they have outdoor seating for their restaurant in the front. It’s got a see-through cover for these cold months. Upon entry you walk into this glamorous space with perfect lighting! Looking straight you’ll find some couches, to the right you have the bar/lounge area and to the left is reception. Front desk is very friendly and total New Yorkers, so that’s good for tourists! 😂 Check in was easy so lets move on to the next topic: THE ROOM.

Initially I called them and they gave me a free upgrade to a King room with a view! I verified that, and just because life in the past month has been everything bad…and worse…I just figured something had screwed up..so naturally I had my game face on 👺! But all was well, ain’t nobody screw up my king room with view upgrade, gurrrl! So up to the 15th floor I went! The hallway was SO CLASSY!! Full length mirrors next to every door!! What a girl needs!! The walls were a clean black so it was a nice contrast! I opened up my door to find a very open, modern, bright, clean, amazing room!!! Bathroom right next to the front door, huge room with flatscreen TV, minibar, wine bottle opener, espresso machine…..And…….a…… VIEWTODIEFOR!!! I had the BEST view of the Empire State Building!!! I was soo happy! Three days of indecisiveness turned out to be a great decision!

I think the only 1st world problems I complained about in my head was half the TV stations didn’t work and the room was pretty cold. I even had the maintenence guy come look at the thermostat but nothing. Oh well! Next time I’ll bring my portable heater!

That evening I ended up making plans and we started off at the hotel lobby bar and had a great convo with our bartender! Very friendly, cool staff! The hotel also has a gym and meeting rooms. Would have been nice if it had a pool or spa but hey, we can’t have it all! 🤔😄

All in all, it was very peaceful, I took nice videos, snapchat filtered way too much & a small amount of pics, it was relaxing and it was nice being IN the city. Even though I’m a ten minute train ride away, it still makes a big difference! So I totally suck! I took numerous videos & snapchatted nonstop, but not as many pictures, except for my view! So the website is below, containing photos. I am adding in the few pics I did take and will try to screenshot from my videos. Those will be blurry just FYI lol. I’ll try to upload videos but they take forever and seem to always crash :/ But check the pictures out on the website! The hotel looks exactly the same! Happy New Years to all! And may you travel tons and your travel plans not get screwed up in 2017!

https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/united-states/new-york/innside-new-york-nomad/index.html
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My perfect view! Blue & White for Hanukkah and Red & Green for Christmas! #blessed
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Caribbean Cool

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Caribbean Cool

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Its that time of year again kids. This Sunday is daylight savings. Time to lock up the flip-flops, shorts & tank tops and set the clocks back. Or forward? Whatever it is, its going to be dark all day long!!!!!!

What do I do to keep the blues away, you say??? What else!!! Hop on my favorite website ( CheapCaribbean.com ) and dream of the tropics. I usually wait until it’s that point in February to book something, the sun, sand & sea is more appreciative when its arctic in New York, and if you know or don’t know, the past two winters were a cruel reality.

A friend reminded me last weekend that a two years ago around this time we were heading out to Jamaica Jamaica!! I think we just got overly excited and booked it early as opposed to our usual February getaway. Jamaica to many is the definition of Caribbean. The mother island. I love the culture, I LOVE the music, I love the people, and omg the accent 😉 Every other island is kinda a blur and I probably will plan a cruise to island hop them in order to figure them out, but Jamaica is Jamaica – I know what it has to offer and it’s such an amazing place!

One thing I found out about in Jamaica was that in America all the deals and stuff are all about Montego Bay (MoBay) or Ocho Rios. We ended up in MoBay but next time I will know to stay in Negril, where the Seven Mile beach lays!!! The seven mile beach is exactly what one pictures when you think of Jamaica. CLEAR, clean water, white sand beaches, BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! We also went to Rick’s Café where people cliff dive and we saw the most amazing sunset I have ever seen in my life!!! The sun in general in Jamaica was something else! Even in MoBay. Its amazing!!

Mobay

Mobay

MoBay

MoBay

MoBay

MoBay

What's going on...? - MoBay

What’s going on…? – MoBay

MoBay

MoBay

!!!!! in MoBay

!!!!! in MoBay

crystal clear water on the Seven Mile beach - Negril

crystal clear water on the Seven Mile beach – Negril

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Sting Rays pon di Seven Mile beach

Sting Rays pon di Seven Mile beach

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seven mile beach, Negril

Cliff divers!

Cliff divers!

Sooo breathtaking!!!

Sooo breathtaking!!!

sunset on the seven mile beach - Negril

sunset on the seven mile beach – Negril

Negril Sunset

Negril Sunset

I would one day love to check out Trinidad as well, because they have such an interesting, fun and amazing culture as well! I think its cool how its got a huge Indian population there. The culture soo original as it mixes Indian culture with Afro/Caribbean. It’s like they’ve got the best of both worlds. In college and a little post graduation I promoted West Indian parties and learned so much about the variety of music from the Caribbean. Aside from reggae, dancehall and soca, there is Indian inspired music called Chutney which is really interesting (and funny lol) It’s like the tune of Bollywood famous songs but they change the lyrics (in English or whatever its called. Trini English) and sometimes they speak Hindi but change the pronunciation. Its fun to listen to! A lot of the songs are just crazyyy. One of my Trini friends introduced me to this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGMpr-quR7Q

This friend also told me about Trini puppets and how that’s a thing. Its popular television according to my Trini friend. The puppet that I believe is the most famous (or maybe the only one lol) is Leroy and Paster Stewart. They are the main characters to Trinidad’s most beloved Muppet/Puppet. These puppets are definitely for mature audience ONLY LOL. BTW if you are from Trinidad and I am giving any misinformation feel free to correct me lol. I am going off word from friends, so I may be misquoting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUb38sxcxPY

Pastor Stewart

I feel like this blog is just getting weird now by the way LOL. I should probably watch those two youtube links more carefully than I am before posting but again, WE ARE A MATURE AUDIENCE!!! 😉 Trust me I won’t go into what I don’t know about Rastafarianism!!!

In conclusion, if you are starting to feel the winter blues, my advice would be to look up youtube videos on the Caribbean, surf the website I linked above (Cheap Caribbean dot com) and throw on some dancehall and you may just ended up bookin a jameeyakan baykeeyashan of your life, ya mon!!!

Educate

Educate