Roses, chocolates and heart-filled greeting cards can only mean one thing: it’s Valentine’s Day again. But while all those things are sweet, what’s more romantic than a spontaneous getaway to a faraway place with your love?
If you’re searching for some Valentine’s Day inspiration, look no further than Hilton, which has lined up a wide variety of romantic experiences and getaways.
How about a zodiac-themed dinner with 12 dishes on a 34th-floor rooftop in Thailand, a stunning sunset hike among Arizona’s scenic Red Rocks, a royal-like Cadbury House Valentine’s Day ball in the U.K. or a spin in an Italian sports car on a rooftop track that was featured in “The Italian Job” and overlooks the Alps?
No need to pinch yourself – these are all options at hotels around the globe where you can indulge, relax and explore. But those who can’t quite manage to dash away can still draw inspiration to think outside the box right where they are, or even start planning to up their game for Valentine’s Day 2020 or other special occasions before it.
Below are some options and inspiration for every kind of lover this year:
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock (Sedona, Arizona): Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, which is located along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, is offering several ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day with romantic partners or friends, including the Love on the Rocks package. The two-day retreat starts with a bottle of sparkling wine, followed by a luxurious spa treatment with an included $150 eforea Spa credit. Make the trip extra romantic with a complimentary bouquet of fresh flowers and a pre-stay call with the concierge to assist with personal requests. For outdoor lovers, hikers and sunset chasers, Hilton Sedona will be offering a romantic grab-and-go picnic basket for two filled with French baguettes, gourmet meats and cheeses, assorted truffles and more for a picnic feast on the Red Rocks.
Hilton Pattaya (Pattaya Chonburi, Thailand): At Hilton Pattaya, the multi-award winning Horizon Rooftop Bar and Restaurant offers a zodiac-themed four-course set dinner with twelve special shared dishes representing each zodiac sign. This includes ‘Pure and Pristine’ inspired by Virgo – Fine de Claire oysters with two styles of topping including tuna tartar and spicy gazpacho salsa; ‘Exploration of Crab’ inspired by Cancer – king crab and soft shell crab tempura salad with spicy Sriracha sauce and mayonnaise sauce; ‘Traditional with a Twist’ inspired by Taurus – a combination of Tournedos Rossini or French steak dish topped with seared foie gras and truffle with Asian taste of oyster sauce, and ‘A Wise Choice’ dessert dish inspired by Capricorn – buckwheat blini with frozen goat cheese mousse, lemon crème and boysenberry jam. Priced at THB 5,950 ($188 USD) per couple and available only on Feb. 14, 2019 from 6pm – 11pm.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol South – Cadbury House (Bristol, United Kingdom): Doting couples looking for somewhere to enjoy a romantic meal together this Valentine’s Day are invited to celebrate their love at the Cadbury House Valentine’s Ball. Spend the holiday like the royals within the stunning, castle-like setting of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol South – Cadbury House, and enjoy sparkling wine and canapes on arrival followed by a three-course dinner specially designed to help make hearts flutter. Entertainment at the ball includes the singing duo Double Impact, who will get pulses racing with a set of crooner classics.
DoubleTree by Hilton Turin Lingotto (Turin, Italy): This Valentine’s Day, treat your loved one to a once-in- a-lifetime experience with the Red Passion Valentine’s Special. Begin your romantic getaway with a bottle of champagne upon arrival and then head up to your Presidential Suite to admire the magnificent view overlooking the Alps while enjoying the scent of 100 red roses, a gift from our hotel staff. Then, make your way up to the former FIAT rooftop test track, featured in the movie “The Italian Job.” Here you will have the unique opportunity to drive a luxurious Ferrari Portofino until sunset – a car enthusiast’s dream. The next day, wake up to an intimate breakfast in bed followed by a relaxing couple’s massage by Dolomitic Water, the award-winning cosmetic line.
Conrad Dublin (Dublin, Ireland): For this year’s Valentine celebrations, Conrad Dublin is offering an Over-the-Top Valentine’s Package guaranteed to impress loved-ones. Activities include a private helicopter ride around the city on a day of their choice, a luxury picnic in the Iveagh Gardens, and a meet-and-greet with the hotel’s resident poet who will create a bespoke poem inspired by them. On an evening of their choice, lovebirds will enjoy pre-dinner drinks with a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon served in exquisite Waterford Champagne flutes they can keep as a memento, followed by a romantic in-suite dinner.
Conrad London St. James (London, U.K.): Conrad London St. James is offering couples an extravagant horse-drawn carriage ride around the city as part of their ‘Ultimate Valentine’s Experience’. Guests will embark on a romantic tour through some of London’s finest attractions, including Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Victoria Embankment, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. A delicious Valentine’s Afternoon Tea will await them upon their return to the hotel, featuring a collection of teas selected by tea experts around the world and accompanied by a glass of Rose Champagne. The following morning, the happy couple will enjoy a luxurious breakfast for two in the privacy of their Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite.
Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort (Rome, Italy): Rome Cavalieri, one of Waldorf Astoria’s 30 properties worldwide, is offering a romantic drive in a vintage FIAT 1100 around the city’s iconic landmarks, discovering stunning piazzas, monuments and ancient ruins. The drive ends with a visit to a local chocolate atelier where guests will have the opportunity to create their very own chocolates to take home.
Top 10 Reasons to Come Back to Tokyo
Rediscover Japan’s captivating capital with these top 10 experiences, curated by the Concierge team at Four Seasons.
1. Stay at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi. Experience next-generation luxury at Four Seasons, soaring high above the financial heart of Tokyo. With its breathitaking array of views, inventive gastronomy and carefully-crafted aesthetic, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi takes guests on a sensory journey of discovery. Take in 360-degree panoramas of the Imperial Palace and its lush gardens, cityscapes punctuated by the Tokyo Skytree, and even Mount Fuji on clear days. Sky-high rooftop terraces offer the best seats in town to sublime seasonal landscapes, elevated by personalised service and a bevy of drinking and dining experiences. Tokyo’s modern energy and honoured traditions come together seamlessly at this highly-anticipated urban retreat.
2. Celebrate an iconic matsuri (festival). Join the festivities of Kanda Matsuri, a kaleidoscopic parade of floats, mini-shrines, dancers, musicians and priests on horseback. Held over a weekend in mid-May, the vibrant procession begins at Kanda-jinja Shrine located near Four Seasons, then winds its way to Otemachi – all the while accompanied by resounding chants to the beat of taiko drums. Dating back to 1600, Kanda Matsuri has its origins in Tokugawa Ieyasu’s victory in the Battle of Sekigahara, which cleared his path to the shogunate.
3. Watch a wondrous firework display. Marvel at a dramatic dance of light, colour and music at the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, a signature summer event in Tokyo. Join local residents for the revelry, many of whom come with loved ones to enjoy the “flowers in the sky.” Observed by nearly one million people gathered along the riverside, in boats and on rooftops, the spectacular display lights up the night sky for over an hour and a half. Tokyo’s pyrotechnic craftsmen are constantly experimenting with new shapes and colours – meaning you get to witness some truly creative fireworks.
4. Savour a starred epicurean adventure. Home to an astounding 226 Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo holds the title of Michelin capital of the world. Compared with its counterparts such as Paris and London, the city offers the chance to enjoy multiple award-winning meals without breaking the bank. Choose from an intriguing variety of venues and cuisines as you wine and dine your way across this foodies’ paradise, from intimate tucked-away gems to dining establishments that love being in the spotlight. Get in touch with the Concierge at Four Seasons to tailor the perfect gastronomic itinerary.
5. Drink coffee like it’s the 1920s. Long before Starbucks, Tokyoites got their caffeine fix at kissaten (old-school coffee shops). Born at a time when Japan was modernising, these social hubs welcomed everyone from salarymen to university students. Step into a world seeped with nostalgia at one of the many kissaten that still dot the city, from moody jazz cafés to literary establishments lined with books. At Café de l’Ambre in Ginza, you can sample single origin varieties aged for 10-20 years and brewed with a cloth filter, while Koffee Mameya in Omotesando stocks beans from great roasters around the world.
6. Soak in the spirit of Omotenashi. A quintessentially Japanese notion, Omotenashi refers to authentic local hospitality that anticipates the needs of others and values attention to detail. Notice the touches of Omotenashi sprinkled into everyday life in Tokyo – from the way staff bow their heads and greet you warmly when you enter a store, to how the taxi door opens automatically without you having to reach for it.
7. Zip through Japan in plush comfort. A ride on the Shinkansen bullet train is an adventure in itself. Famed for their smoothness and punctuality, these sleek marvels of Japanese engineering clock speeds of up to 200 miles (325 kilometres) per hour. Experience train travel like never before in the Gran Class, an exclusive car with ultra-spacious seating, gourmet meals and a dedicated host. Other luxury trains offer the feeling of a boutique hotel on wheels. Take in the majestic beauty of northern Japan from aboard the Royal Express by Tokyu Dentetsu, featuring observation decks, wood-panelled interiors and menus by a Michelin-starred chef.
8. Explore oh-so-Japanese stationery. For stationery connoisseurs, Tokyo is a land of endless delights. With every changing season, Japanese stationery companies release new line-ups of products – from sophisticated gadgets and writing instruments, to themed letter sets and journals. Stock up on your favourites at Maruzen Marunouchi bookstore, LoFT in Ginza or Shibuya, and Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku. A must-visit for artists, Pigment Tokyo in Shinagawa stocks an incredible range of art supplies, including pigments in 4,500 hues, 200 kinds of Sumi ink sticks, and 50 types of isinglass.
9. Immerse in inventive digital art. Discover a mind-bending world of artwork without borders, a museum without a map. Spread across 10,000 square feet (930 square metres), the teamLab Borderless Museum houses exhibits that transition through different spaces, intermingle with each other, and are influenced by the audience. Created by a group of ultra-technologists, these immersive pieces of art and music unlock new ways for the self to interact with the world. You are encouraged to participate through touch and movement, and create a new reality with others – no two visits are exactly the same.
10. Take a storied architectural journey. Experience Tokyo’s fascinating evolution through its iconic buildings. Travel back to 1931 at KITTE, occupying the former premises of the Central Post Office – an early 1900s structure that was set to be replaced with a skyscraper until the then-communications minister stepped in to preserve its historic façade. Fast-forward to Japan’s Metabolism movement at Yoyogi National Gymnasium, built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and featuring a swooping roof that recalls both a shrine and an upturned boat. Return to the present with a tour of buildings designed by Kengo Kuma, one of today’s most influential Japanese architects, known for a fluid aesthetic that blends in with the surrounding environment.
7 Expert Tips for Wish List Travel without Breaking the Bank
Although most travelers were grounded since March 2020, their wanderlust continued to thrive. And now, as restrictions loosen in many areas, they are ready to embark on their dream excursions.
Three in four Americans plan to venture off to wish list locations on their next trip, according to a recent Hilton survey. Among their most desired destinations: the lush Hawaiian capital of Honolulu, the bright lights of Las Vegas and the bustling streets of New York City.
After a year of staying put, travelers are ready to splurge. Over half of the survey respondents (55%) said they plan to spend, on average, $2,100 more on their dream trip than they would have prior to the pandemic.
While the willingness is there, there is no need to break the bank. With a little budgeting and creativity, an affordable dream vacation is within reach. To help travelers plan the perfect trip for their wallet, Hilton has partnered with Patrice Washington, financial expert and author of “Redefine Wealth for Yourself.” Here are her top tips:
Set a Budget: A wish list trip shouldn’t send you into debt. Research costs associated with your dream vacation ahead of time — activities, meals, airfare, lodging and more — and from there, set and stick to a budget. Tracking your monthly expenses is a great way to determine where to cut back and how much money to set aside.
Join A Loyalty Program:
Tapping into a rewards program can also make travel more value-driven. Members of Hilton’s guest loyalty program, Hilton Honors, have access to instant benefits and rewards, as well as hundreds of ways to earn and redeem Points, like special global promotions and free nights. With the Points Explorer tool, members can explore wish list destinations to see where their Points can take them, and they can also choose from nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay. Additionally, elite members have the option to select a complimentary dining benefit during hotel stays at several Hilton brands, a Daily Food & Beverage Credit in the U.S. and Continental Breakfast elsewhere, allowing them to save — even if for one meal a day — on dining while traveling. Members can also take advantage of partnerships, including car rentals and ridesharing with Lyft to earn or redeem Hilton Honors Points.
Apply for a Travel Credit Card:
As travel rebounds, now is a great time to apply for a travel credit card to start earning on your trip expenses and everyday purchases. New card member incentives and offers for existing card members can earn you Hilton Honors Bonus Points on purchases that can help reach those dream destinations even faster.
For a limited time, eligible new Hilton Honors American Express Card Members who apply and are approved by August 25, 2021 can take advantage of two special offers. With the Hilton Honors American Express Card, new members can earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, plus up to $100 statement credits on purchases at Hilton in the first 12 months. With the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, new members can earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, plus $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (thereafter the annual fee is $95). Plus, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card offers Gold status with Hilton Honors, Free Night Certificates when you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year, and valuable Points on everyday purchases that you can put toward your wish list vacation. Terms apply.
Be Flexible with Travel Dates:
Making your vacation more affordable doesn’t mean losing sight of your wish list destination. Being flexible with timing and open to off-peak seasons could inject added value into your trip. For the 20% of Americans who have Miami atop their wish lists, staying at Hilton Garden Inn Miami South Beach or nearby at Tru by Hilton Fort Lauderdale Downtown during the off-season still lets you enjoy the best of what South Florida has to offer without the crowds.
Think Beyond Resorts:
Accommodations are one of the biggest expenses on any vacation, but the money you save on lodging can be used toward memorable tours and excursions. With more than 2,200 hotels around the U.S., you’re never more than 30 minutes away from a Hampton, and with the dual-brand Hampton by Hilton Las Vegas Convention Center and Home2 Suites by Hilton Las Vegas Convention Center, you don’t have to look far to find the value-added amenities and hospitality Hilton is known for at a cost-conscious price point.
Go Big at Lunch:
Seeking out local cuisine is a great way to experience the flavor of a wish list destination. Prices at restaurants during the afternoon tend to be cheaper than dinner — and eating a substantial mid-day meal could fuel you up for an afternoon and evening of adventure.
Book a Room with a Kitchen:
Keeping it simple for a few meals is an easy way to cut back on spending. The spacious suites with fully-equipped kitchens at Homewood Suites by Hilton New Orleans French Quarter and kitchenettes at Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown give you the freedom to plan out and prepare meals or tropical cocktails in your room after a day of adventure.
At the end of the day, wish list travel is all about making unforgettable memories. As life begins to return to normal, following these budget-savvy tips will help prepare you for the trip you’ve always imagined. What are you waiting for? Start planning today!
Iran’s memories in Afghanistan: two sisters apart
For years, many people including Iranians, have dreamed of visiting Afghanistan and viewing its colorful sights, a beautiful country that has been unrested for many years and engulfed in a war that is getting fiercer every day.
With roots dating back thousands of years and many similarities in dialects and history, Iran and Afghanistan share strong cultural ties.
Even though these two countries are separate now, they used to be one united empire once, which means that a lot of historical places and monuments have been left in Afghanistan belonging to ancient Iran.
There is hope among Iranians that walk under the blue sky of Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, and Balkh with their neighbors one day.
In the absence of a possibility of visiting these places and attractions, we can explore a list of Persian historical monuments and sites preserved in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s third-largest city, Herat, situated just 80 miles from the Iranian border, was the capital of the Persian Empire.
Dating back to ancient times, the city was known as Haraiva during the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550-330 BC).
Herat became a provincial capital during the Safavid era (1501-1736). The Persian king Abbas was born in Herat, and in Safavid texts, Herat is known as a’zam-i bilad-i Iran, meaning “the greatest of Iranian cities”. In the 16th century, a number of future Safavid rulers, from Tahmasp to Abbas I, served as governors of Herat in their youth.
Bamyan was one of the main states of Iran during the Achaemenid period and was considered one of the important centers of Buddhism during the Kushan Empire.
It was a place where East met West, and its archeology contains influences from Greek, Turkic, Persian, Chinese and Indian cultures. The region is one of Afghanistan’s most touristic places.
Along with the Buddhas of Bamiyan, two 6th-century monumental statues of Gautama Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, which was destroyed by the Taliban, a number of Persian temples dating back to the Sassanid era (224-651 CE) were also among the attractions of Bamyan.
Aq Koprok Archaeological Sites
Aq Koprok is a collection of four archaeological sites in Afghanistan dating back to the prehistoric period, which spans from Paleolithic time to the Sassanid period.
Located in southeastern Afghanistan, Ghazni, historically known as Ghaznin or Ghazna, was conquered by the Achaemenid king Cyrus II and incorporated into the Persian Empire in the 6th century BC.
The city was the capital of Ghaznavids, a Persian Muslim dynasty from 977 to 1163. In the first decades of the 11th century, Ghazni was the most important center of Persian literature.
For centuries, travelers and archeologists have been drawn to beautiful places like the Ghazni Citadel, the Ghazni Minarets, and the Palace of Sultan Masoud III, all built during the time of Iranian rulers.
The structure is a large brick arch that is cut with bricks on both sides and is about 25 meters. The monument was built during Ghaznavid-era and was restored over time.
The arch was the entrance gate to the historic city of Bost or Lashkar Gah, which was the winter capital at the time.
Near the city of Lashkargah, there are the remains of some places known as Lashkari Bazaar or Al-Asqar, meaning the area of the troops.
Located on the banks of the Helmand River, one of the palaces known as Southern Castle has remained a little intact.
Based on both textual sources and finds made during excavations at the site, scholars attribute the palace to Ghaznavid king Mahmud I and date it to the early years of his reign (r. 998-1030).
The palace is situated at a point on the Helmand approximately eight kilometers north of the Citadel of Bust where the riverbank forms a natural corner so that two facades of the palace afford riverfront views.
The plan is roughly rectangular and is aligned nearly perfectly with the cardinal directions. Its main axis runs from south to north. It was constructed largely of mud-brick, with baked brick used for the most monumental and important components.
Even though the palace has been destroyed, looted, rebuilt, and restored a few times, there are still murals and paintings inside that attract visitors.
Persian elite’ mausoleums and tombs
Afghanistan is the final resting place of many Iranian poets, scientists, artists, and kings.
The mausoleum of Mahmud of Ghazni, who was the first independent ruler of Ghaznavids (999-1030) is six kilometers from the city of Ghazni.
Hakim Abul-Majd Sanai Ghaznavi, more commonly known as Sanai, was a Persian poet from Ghazni who lived his life in the Ghaznavid Empire at the time of its golden age, in medieval Khorasan, which is now located in Afghanistan. He was buried in Ghazni.
Iranian poet and theologian Naser Khosrow Qubadiani (1004-c.1072/77), who is known for Safar-nameh (“Book of Travel”), a diary describing his seven-year journey is buried on a hill in Badakhshan.
The tomb of Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006–1088), a devout Sufi, known as “The Pious One” during his lifetime, is in Herat.
The mausoleum of the Persian scholar, polymath, and historian, Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, who became the most original polymath the Islamic world had ever known, is located in the city of Ghazni.
From our partner Tehran Times
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