Travel & Leisure
Why world travelers are going cashless
What’s your dream vacation? Whether you live to travel or only manage to get away for a couple of long weekends every year, you probably have a bucket list of places to go and sites to see.Sometimes it feels like there might be too many options.
For some people, it’s adventure travel in Basque Country, exploring the caves of Urkiola, paddle boarding around the Urdaibai Estuary and indulging in world-renowned cuisine; for others, it’s a relaxing vacation in Thailand, including a meditation course, spa day and island hopping through the Phi Phi Islands. Either trip would rejuvenate travelers, yet they are quite different from one another. But no matter where you go in the world, there’s one thing that’s the same: People are going cash-free.
Going cash-free saves money
Part of traveling to a foreign country is exchanging money. With new coins and bills in your pocket, you can spend freely, buy souvenirs, meals, whatever you like.
Research shows that 87 percent of travelers have leftover cash after their trips, so most of us have experienced the mad dash to spend your foreign cash before you board your flight home.
But that doesn’t always happen.
Only 29 percent of travelers convert their foreign cash back to U.S. dollars. On average, this leaves $123 on the table.
That’s a costly souvenir.
Not to mention that getting foreign currency before your trip is just one more thing to do in the pre-planning process. And while 72 percent of respondents in the study said they get cash, many of them also admitted that, with the ease of traveling without cash, it was a waste of time. Skip the cash to save time and money by using your Visa credit card internationally. Plus, you can use your Visa card to pay in local currency, you are ensuring you get a competitive exchange rate and aren’t stuck with hidden currency conversion fees.
Peace of mind
Even if you’re diligent and always exchange your cash at the end of every trip, one of the biggest perks to traveling without cash is security.
Virtually every traveler worries about leaving their money in the hotel room or losing it in some way or another. There’s no easy way around it: Traveling with cash is stressful, and can impact an otherwise great trip.
Why go through the hassle? Accepted nearly everywhere in the world, travelers can use Visa to make purchases with confidence anytime, virtually anywhere in the world. Unlike cash, your Visa card can be replaced if lost or stolen to provide greater freedom for people to enjoy their travel experiences.
Explore the world differently
For travel enthusiasts looking to explore the world cash-free, The Visa Cashless Challenge: International Travel Edition Search will send one lucky winner on a cash-free adventure across the globe. Visa has partnered with Arden Cho (@arden_cho) and brothers Alex and Marko Ayling (@TheVagaBrothers) to create two unique trips that will show the winner what it’s like to travel the world cash free.
The winner of the challenge will choose between a relaxing trip to Thailand or an adventurous journey through Spain’s Basque Country. The winner will have the opportunity to decide between destinations, but once they do, will experience firsthand the ease of traveling cashless in the 21st century, and receive pro-tips on how best to document their journey along the way.
For more information visit: www.visa.com/cashlesstravel
Travel & Leisure
Italy – the Queen of Winter Tourism
A survey by SWG, commissioned by Confcommercio, highlights the great attractiveness of the country’s ski destinations, which are increasingly easy to reach, including by sustainable travel means such as train.
Italy is more than just sea, sun and culture: it’s also a popular destination for those who love the mountains.
This is confirmed by data from a survey commissioned by Confcommercio and conducted by SWG, which gives an overview of tourism trends in the first months of 2023: 12 million Italians chose the mountains for their winter vacations. Of these, more than 7.5 million travelled for a break lasting a week or less, and many chose “quick getaway” options.
These options were made all the more attractive by an efficient and extensive transportation network, which makes it possible to reach the most renowned resorts throughout the Alps.
For instance, the offer put forward by Trenitalia played a very important role: as part of the Winter Experience, the company put in place a series of initiatives to ensure transportation to the ski resorts on weekends: for example, it has increased FrecciaRossa journeys to Bardonecchia, and has activated a series of combined train + bus connections between 17 December 2022 and 26 March 2023 so travellers can reach their destination comfortably, even without a car.
Many Freccialink connections have been activated, including direct connections to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Madonna di Campiglio, Canazei and Courmayeur.
These are combinations that provide sustainable and quick access to the country’s most beautiful and renowned slopes. But not only slopes – because winter tourism in mountain resorts is no longer just for ski enthusiasts.
Tourists are increasingly seeking unique, tailor-made experiences capable of giving an outlet to their passions. This is an obvious need, which finds an answer in the True Italian Experience multimedia platform: a hub that aims to respond to the growing need of tourists, both Italian and foreign, for authentic and original experiences, and does so by offering activities, tours and experiences in line with the users’ interests.
As the SWG survey shows, these interests are growing increasingly diverse: one takeaway was that the top reasons that prompted tourists to choose mountain resorts as their destinations were, in order, excursions in nature, food and wine tasting, relaxation in wellness centres and shopping. Alpine skiing and other winter sports only came in fifth, perhaps with the steep prices of ski passes being a contributing factor. Many needs, many activities for tourism that is increasingly experiential.
Travel & Leisure
Build Your Stay Around These 7 Luxurious Destination Hotels
Whether you’re planning an extended vacation or a quick getaway, it’s essential to make the most out of your stay by choosing a great hotel in your dream location. Some hotels are destinations in themselves, becoming a place where travelers can enjoy a full vacation, without even leaving the property.
In fact, a recent Hilton survey found that 58% of respondents built their vacations around a specific hotel. When life is go, go, go and you are looking for a hotel that is your ultimate destination, it matters where you stay. As you plan for your next trip, here are seven dreamy hotels that will make your next getaway unforgettable, even if you never leave the hotel’s pool.
Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale, Curio Collection by Hilton
Few resorts in the world can match the extraordinary natural setting of this luxury desert hideaway nestled in the lush Sonoran Desert. Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale, Curio Collection by Hilton, provides a luxurious, peaceful getaway with activities that transcend traditional resort offerings. Challenge yourself and others on the sun-splashed terrain of the two world-class golf courses or play on the cushioned courts to learn tennis and pickleball from an on-site professional. Enjoy outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, guided desert hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding, nature and wildlife tours and stargazing with a professional astronomer. After a fun-filled day, unwind in one of four sparkling outdoor swimming pools or visit the legendary wellness spa to relax and recharge.
Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Escape to this island oasis filled with bright rooms and villas set within the lush gardens along the Wailea Beach shoreline of Maui. Set in a sophisticated destination, Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort will give you the chance to soak in tranquil sunsets from a private lanai, cool off in any of its five exhilarating pools, embrace long-lasting cultural experiences and sample traditional Hawaiian flavors at unparalleled indoor/outdoor restaurants and lounges. You can also indulge in a variety of experiences, such as paddling down the coast of Maui or unwinding with personalized treatments at the resort’s luxurious spa. Start your mornings with energizing yoga sessions on the top-rated Wailea beach or visit the state-of-the-art fitness center featuring Peloton bikes, Tonal and Technogym equipment, as well as daily fitness classes.
Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa
You and your family can have it all at Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive beachfront paradise spanning 400 tropical acres along the Caribbean coast. Spend breezy days at the water park with free private cabanas, three secluded whirlpools, live music, a kids’ zone and more; or grab a lounge chair and relax on the private white-sand beach to watch the waves and feel the warm breeze off the sea. Golfers will feel like champions on the 18-hole Cinnamon Hill course that offers smooth fairways, while others can engage in watersports and family-friendly activities such as treasure hunts, Kiddie Karaoke and boat rides. After a day of exploration at Montego Bay Marine Park or a day trip to Dunn’s River Falls, satisfy your food cravings at any of the 11 onsite dining areas, also included in your stay.
Hilton Los Cabos
An unforgettable stay awaits at Hilton Los Cabos with sun, sand and golf all merged into one. Take in breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez, the energy of the Enclave Beach Club, one of the sparkling infinity pools and the world-class cuisine and cocktail programming on property. Guests can cozy up in beachfront bungalows and relaxing poolside cabanas or take part in the hotel’s fun excursions, such as dolphin encounters, camel rides, scuba diving, whale watching, sea turtle spawning and more. If that’s not enough, you can also take the perfect selfie that’s Instagram-worthy under the landmark Arch rock formation for which Los Cabos is known.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
An island hideaway in the Maldives surrounded by white sands and crystal blue waters of the Indian Ocean awaits guests searching for the ultimate luxury getaway. At Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, you can enjoy 11 celebrated dining venues, a world-class lifestyle spa sanctuary, and distinctive activities every generation can enjoy while experiencing this tropical paradise. Whether you’re embarking on a thrilling adventure as you cruise on luxury yachts and soak up the sun from stunning sand backs or participating in intriguing and educational activities at Stars Club or Club Nova, there’s something for every member of the family. Guests can also give back to the community by adopting a coral frame from the coral conservation to help restore the beauty of the ocean and aid in its preservation.
DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Jumeirah Beach
Settled on a private stretch of the beach along Dubai’s waterfront promenade, The Walk, DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Jumeirah Beach is a destination getaway with beachfront vistas seen right from your guest room window. If you’re looking to completely unplug and relax, visit the Breakwater Wellness Center, which provides massages, facials and scrubs along with a fitness center, sauna, aroma steam room and Jacuzzi to help you de-stress to the max. Once you are fully reinvigorated, you can enjoy authentic cuisine at the Gastro Kitchen, then enjoy your favorite beverages at AERIA Beach Bar & Grill, overlooking the infinity pool and beach.
Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton
Known as the essence of the Mediterranean in Costa del Sol, Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton was designed for guests ages 16 and older. With an infinity pool seemingly spilling directly into the Mediterranean Sea, you can balance your day between relaxation at the Higueron Beach Club, rejuvenation at the Higueron Spa or energization at the Higueron Sports Club. The exclusive environment provides the perfect combination of outdoor facilities with tennis courts, basketball courts, and sand courts for beach volleyball and engaging personalized group activities such as Zumba, spinning or Pilates. After working up an appetite, you can enjoy an eclectic variety of onsite cuisines and bars, including meals from Michelin-starred chef Diego Gallegos in Sollo and a taste of Andalusia in Chupadeo.
Travel & Leisure
Break from the Crowds this Spring and Escape to these Family‑Friendly Destinations
Choosing a spring break locale that offers something for every member of the family is no easy feat. It’s tempting to join the flock heading to well-traveled locales, but this year, why not try something new?
Whether your family craves ocean waves or otherworldly adventure, these lesser-touted spring break destinations offer a stress-free getaway with plenty of crowd-pleasing activities.
Those seeking sun and sand this spring will naturally be drawn to Southern California’s legendary beaches. Sandwiched between the Santa Monica Mountains and the artsy enclave of Santa Barbara, Oxnard offers ample swimming and sunbathing, easy ferry access to kayaking and whale watching at Channel Islands National Park, and a legendary taco scene that’s sure to spice up your vacation.
Where to Stay:
The suite-only Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton offers an idyllic beachfront retreat for your family with a location that’s just steps from the sugary dunes for which the resort is named. Relax at the poolside cabanas or partake in a variety of outdoor sports ranging from tennis to rollerblading, surfing, yoga and beyond. You can find everything you need for a beach adventure at on-site Henry’s Gear Rental, including surfboards, paddleboards, yoga mats, GoPros and more. Two hours of gear rental are included with every stay.
While many head south for a getaway, the “Great White North” of Toronto (which should be sufficiently thawed come springtime) makes for a wonderful option for those seeking diverse options to suit a wide array of interests. Shop the food stalls at St. Lawrence Market, climb to the top of CN Tower, and explore a real-life castle at Casa Loma before embarking on a day trip to marvel at the wonders of nature at Niagara Falls to make the most of your visit to this Ontario gem.
Where to Stay:
The newly opened Canopy by Hilton Toronto Yorkville is located in one of Toronto’s hippest neighborhoods. The trendy décor of the hotel reflects the vibrant nature of the area, which is brimming with culture. Explore the area with complimentary Canopy Bikes during the day, and enjoy Roman-style pizzas and seasonal fare at on-site restaurant Día at night.
Carlsbad, New Mexico
For explorers looking to venture into the depths of the unknown, head underground into the limestone chambers at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. After venturing through the park’s 113 caves, set off on an above-ground exploration through the Chihuahuan Desert for a glimpse at prickly pears and agaves as you seek even more adventure in the Guadalupe Mountains that stretch into Texas. And if you’ve ever searched the sky and wondered if we’re alone, then make time for a detour to the nearby alien attractions in Roswell.
Where to Stay:
Enjoy a spacious room at Home2 Suites by Hilton Carlsbad, which serves as the ideal home base for exploring the caverns, as well as the wonders of Living Desert State Park and Lake Carlsbad Beach Park. Fuel up for your day of adventure with the hotel’s free hot breakfast, and relax after a day of exploring at the outdoor firepit and seating area.
Blast off for an out-of-this-world break in Huntsville. Home to the United States Space and Rocket Center, this northern Alabama city enables visitors to take part in their own hands-on space odyssey, including a look at the largest collection of rockets in the world. And when it comes time to pull your head out of the clouds, Huntsville has lots more to offer, such as a bounty of parks, artist studios, a botanical garden, and museums dedicated to everything from historic homes to art, military artifacts, and more.
Where to Stay:
Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville offers everything you need to fuel up for adventure, including suite accommodations, a luxurious spa and a saltwater pool. Be sure to check out the daily free made-to-order breakfast and evening reception.
Those looking to avoid congested hotspots without sacrificing the eclectic energy a city brings should opt for the unique and underrated vacation destination of Pittsburgh. Catch a hockey game, visit renowned museums, stroll lush gardens, and dine on local favorites such as perogies, paczkis, craft brews, and French fries piled high on everything from sandwiches to salads. Then, cap off your visit to “The Paris of Appalachia” with a ride on a 145-year-old incline car to take in epic views of the city and its three rivers.
Where to Stay:
Located in the heart of the city in the Pittsburgh Golden Triangle is Joinery Hotel Pittsburgh, Curio Collection by Hilton. Soak up skyline views from the hotel’s scenic roof terrace, easily explore nearby local attractions, and if you’re looking to bring your family pet along with you for the trip, the hotel also features pet-friendly rooms.
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