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Move Over Summer: Winter Getaways to Help You Chill

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Summer seems to get all the vacation glory, but nothing helps beat the winter blues like booking a getaway to chill out — especially to a new location.

The long winter season, which stretches from December 21st to March 19th, is a great time to cozy up by a fire in a snowy city or escape the cold in a sun-drenched destination. And travelers are catching on to the appeal. According to WalletHub’s 2019 Travel Survey, two out of three Americans plan to travel this upcoming winter, up 4% from last year.

The uptick makes sense. Winter offers a multitude of things travelers can’t do other times of the year, like ice-skating in Montreal, glimpsing the northern lights in Iceland or taking a sunny snowy stroll along the cliffs of Newport, Rhode Island. And those looking to escape the cold can take advantage of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, where sun-soaked beaches in Cartagena or breathtaking sunsets in Rio de Janeiro will make them (temporarily) forget about home.

With hotels (and guests) across both hemispheres, Hilton has compiled a list of cold- and warm-weather getaways and accommodations for those upcoming long winter months. Included are both well-known and unexpected cities with a mix of appeal for a range of travelers — whether they’re looking to escape the crowds, embrace nature or improve a golf game.

Cold-Weather Getaways

Newport, Rhode Island: Embrace the cold in Newport, Rhode Island, a city known for Gilded Age mansions lining Bellevue Avenue and sweeping ocean views. On a sunny winter day, visitors can take a snowy stroll along the famous Atlantic Ocean Cliff Walk or explore Brick Market Place, which is home to 25 unique shops that sell fine jewelry, exotic meats and local handicrafts. Visitors looking to stay indoors can take a guided tour of The Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Italian Renaissance-inspired summer home. Those looking to explore some local culture can plan a visit in February to check out the Newport Winter Festival, which has live music, a chili cook-off and ice-sculpting demonstrations. The Homewood Suites by Hilton Newport Middletown, RI provides the perfect shelter from the cold Rhode Island days and is located just 15 minutes by car from The Breakers and near all that Newport has to offer.

Montreal Canada: Montreal shines during the cooler months when the city transforms into a magical winter wonderland. Visitors can enjoy everything winter brings to the city – from icy landscapes and winter sports to warm comfort food. Travelers looking for an interesting way to see the city can join or create their own food tour. Try a taste of wood-fired bagels at Fairmount Bagel Bakery, comforting poutine at Poutineville and an orange julep (to wash it all down) from retro spot Gibeau Orange Julep. Those looking for more adventure can climb Mount Royal to find cross-country skiing in January and February and ice skating on frozen Beaver Lake from December to March. After a long day discovering in the cold, explorers can head back to Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal for a complimentary evening reception. The hotel is just steps from several of the city’s best art galleries, museums and nightlife and a 12-minute walk from The Old Port.

Reykjavik, Iceland: Reykjavik gives travelers the opportunity to visit the northernmost capital city in the world and a playground full of winter fun. Visitors can climb to the top of the world-renowned Hallgrímskirkja Church for 360-degree views of the entire city to get their bearings before exploring Reykjavik. Once they’re back on the ground, they can explore by foot, or bicycle, to enjoy Laugavegur, one of Reykjavik’s oldest shopping streets. Travelers can also take advantage of the longer winter days at the Winter Lights Festival in early February, where they can access museums and thermal pools for free. Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre is in the heart of the city center and provides an optimal base for exploring Reykjavik’s attractions. Guests can take a quick stroll to the Old Reykjavik Harbour and see the Sun Voyager sculpture, a modern take on a Viking ship. They can return to the hotel for a culinary journey at Gott, where famous chefs Sigurdur Gislason and Berglind Sigmundsdottir sit at the helm.

Munich, Germany: Once the Oktoberfest crowds have dissipated, travelers will find a quieter, colder Munich covered in snow. They can escape the cold at the Munich Residenz, which was once home to the royal family of Bavaria, or embrace the cold by exploring snow-covered grounds at the Nymphenburg Palace (or Schloss Nymphenburg), a baroque-style palace where they can spot swans in the snow. Fairy tale enthusiasts can take an easy two-hour day trip from city center to tour Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World. Hilton Garden Inn Munich City West is centrally located, making it easy to explore Munich in the winter. Guests can go anywhere using the Donnersbergerbrücke S-Bahn station and Trappentreustraße tram stop, both just a short walk from the hotel. After a day in the snow, guests can grab a drink in the hotel restaurant or order room service and relax in their guest room.

Tokyo, Japan: As temperatures drop, the vibrant city of Tokyo shines. Winter brings less rain to Japan, which makes it easier to see the incredible views across the city and surrounding countryside. Travelers looking to escape the cold can slip into a Japanese onsen, — geothermal hot springs scattered throughout the city — to destress and beat the winter blues. Those looking for adventure can travel one hour outside of the city to ski Japan’s world-renowned slopes. Conrad Tokyo provides a city retreat after a day spent exploring. Guests can choose among the four restaurants on property, which include Japanese cuisine at Kazahana, gourmet Cantonese cuisine at China Blue, modern French fare at Collage and casual eats at Cerise. They can end the night at the TwentyEight, the hotel’s skyscraper bar, to enjoy live music and refreshing cocktails.

Warm-Weather Getaways

Key West, Florida: Escape the chill with a trip to Key West, Florida, where snowbirds can find a year-round tropical paradise with no passport required. After relaxing in a hammock under swaying palms, visitors can venture back in time and visit the Key West Lighthouse Museum, which opened in 1848, before wandering across the street to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum that houses 40-plus cats. As the sun sets, visitors can trek to Mallory Square to enjoy local entertainment and crafts while watching a stunning sunset. Travelers can dance the night away on Duval Street and enjoy a drink from popular destination Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which opened in 1933, enjoy local “pinks” (shrimp) and sample some world-renowned key lime pie. Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort offers guests access to Key West’s largest private beach and a quick bicycle journey to the fun on Duval Street. Guests also have access to sister property The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton located just steps away. Guests can rent a Jet Ski and cruise down the shoreline or get a massage in a private beachfront tent.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio offers a rich cultural experience that includes great food, music, history and art, along with relaxation. Its location south of the equator means the seasons swap and winter turns to summer. Hot and sunny days are perfect for exploring the city’s outdoor activities, such as enjoying the world-renowned Copacabana and Ipanema beaches or hiking the Pedra do Telegrafo to capture a panoramic photo of the beaches below. Visitors can taste the local flavors by sipping on caipirinhas, Brazil’s national cocktail, or biting into a steak cooked churrasco-style at a local churrascaria. View the hand-painted tiles of the famous Selaron Steps (or Escadaria Selarón), or wind through the streets of downtown Rio filled with cafes and museums. Located on Copacabana Beach, the Hilton Rio De Janeiro Copacabana is a great launch point to explore Rio’s beaches and city center. Guests can enjoy panoramic sea views while sampling traditional feijoada — a Brazilian black bean stew — at a weekend brunch at the hotel’s restaurant, The View, served on Saturdays. For chilling out, the rooftop pool and brand-new rooftop bar, Isabel Lounge, are the perfect spots.

Cartagena, Colombia: Escape the winter blues and welcome balmy breezes from the Caribbean Sea in Cartagena, Colombia. Beachgoers of all types will find something that matches their vacation preference, from family-friendly beaches at Castillogrande and watersports in El Laguito to the beach clubs of Manzanillo del Mar. After brushing off the sand, visitors can walk the walled city of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, shop the bustling food stalls of the Mercado Bazurto or party on a chiva, a colorful party bus with local liquor and dancing. Conrad Cartagena offers a beachside retreat from the hustle and bustle of Cartagena. Guests can get exclusive beach access at the Karibana Beach Club, unwind at the Conrad Spa, hit a few holes at a TPC Nicklaus Design golf course or dine at one of the seven on-property restaurants.

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Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces Norwegian Viva

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Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the innovator in global cruise travel, today unveiled Norwegian Viva, the next ship in its brand-new Prima Class.

Providing guests with elevated experiences including more wide-open spaces, thoughtful and stunning design and exceptional service, Norwegian Viva will begin sailing remarkable Mediterranean itineraries in June 2023, homeporting in key Southern European port cities including Lisbon, Portugal; Venice (Trieste) and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Athens (Piraeus), Greece. She will then sail the Southern Caribbean for her 2023-2024 Winter Season offering warm-weather getaways from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mirroring the upscale design and structure of her record-breaking sister ship Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Viva, also built by renowned Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy, will debut at 965 feet long, 142,500 gross tons and accommodate 3,219 guests at double occupancy. Travelers will live up every second of their journey in the most spacious accommodations including the brand’s largest inside, ocean view and balcony category staterooms.

The world-class vessel will not only offer the highest staffing levels and space ratio of any new cruise ship in the contemporary and premium cruise categories and largest variety of suite categories available at sea, but will also boast a redefined The Haven by Norwegian, NCL’s ultra-premium keycard only access ship-within-a-ship concept. The Haven’s public areas and 107 suites designed by Piero Lissoni, one of Italy’s most renowned designers, will feature an expansive sundeck, a stunning infinity pool overlooking the ship’s wake and an outdoor spa with a glass-walled sauna and cold room.

The Prima Class’ variety of recreational activities also make their elevated comeback on Norwegian Viva with only-available-on-Prima-Class experiences including the fastest freefall drop dry slides at sea with The Rush and The Drop and the largest three-level racetrack at sea with the Viva Speedway.

Norwegian Viva will feature Ocean Boulevard, the 44,000 square foot outdoor walk way which wraps around the entire ship;  Indulge Food Hall featuring 11 varieties of eateries; The Concourse boasting an outdoor sculpture garden; expansive pool decks and infinity style pools at Infinity Beach and Oceanwalk, showcasing glass bridges above water.

Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, said: “Norwegian Viva sets the standard in the premium segment, illustrating our commitment to pushing boundaries in four main areas: wide open space, service that puts guests first, thoughtful design and experiences beyond expectation. We have taken everything our guests love to the next level with this brand-new class of ships designed with them in mind.”

Norwegian Viva will boast eye-catching hull art designed by Italian graffiti and sculpture artist Manuel Di Rita, commonly known as “Peeta,” who also illustrated the exceptional hull design on Norwegian Prima. World-class architects who helped design Norwegian Prima including Rockwell Group, SMC Design and Miami-based Studio Dado, also have returned to influence the aesthetic of various restaurants, staterooms and public areas.

“Norwegian Viva, the second of six Prima Class vessels being built with us, reinforces the great collaboration between Norwegian Cruise Line and Fincantieri,” said Luigi Matarazzo, General Manager Merchant Ships Division at Fincantieri. “We were extremely satisfied that Norwegian Prima, the first of the new class, earned record-breaking bookings and we are excited to see how Norwegian Viva will live up to her sister ship. As we proved our resilience during these challenging times, this announcement represents another testament to Fincantieri´s global leadership role in the cruise sector.”

The first two Prima Class vessels, Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva, will feature cutting-edge alternative technologies, such as a NOx reduction system (SCR), that reduce the ship’s overall environmental impact.  SCR catalysts filter out sulfur oxides up to 98% and nitrogen oxides up to 90%, ensuring the vessels meet Tier III NOx compliance. Further, they will be equipped with an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS), an Advanced Wastewater Treatment System to treat and clean all wastewater to meet stringent international standards and Cold Ironing functionality to connect to onshore power grids to further reduce emissions while in port.

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Surprise Your Family with These 3 Memorable Gifts

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Finding the perfect gift for your family can be a challenge, especially when you’re not quite sure where to start. And since chances are everyone in your family has different tastes, you might be wondering which types of gifts will appease everyone. Fortunately, there’s a long list of gifts that will cover all of your family’s bases. 

Narrowing down your list will ensure you’ve given plenty of thought to each idea, ideally ending up with your family being beyond thrilled with what you’ve chosen. Here are three memorable gifts to consider giving your family. 

1. An Unforgettable Travel Experience 

Traveling with your family is one of the best ways to spend quality time together away from it all. It’s a way to explore, experience new things and make plenty of memories. Surprising your family with the trip of a lifetime would be a wonderful gift for everyone, so why not add one to your list this year? 

One of the best parts about traveling as a family is that there are so many options for where to go and what to do. And when your goal is to give the perfect gift, choosing a trip that will go down in the books as one of the best family memories ever is a good place to start. 

Let a Europe cruise immerse your family in gorgeous scenery, amazing food and rich history. A ski trip would be a fun way for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors together. Imagine your whole family enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of a tropical island, maybe snorkeling or even giving parasailing a try. 

2. Family Heirloom Pieces 

One of the nicest gifts you can give anyone is something that comes from the heart. Investing in a personalized, one-of-a-kind piece for your family will add a wonderful touch to your home for years to come. What’s great about this is that there are so many directions you can take it.  

Depending on your home decor style, you may find that some types of art are better suited than others. Getting creative and making a thoughtful decision will ensure you choose the best piece for your family.

A wrought iron or hand-carved wooden namesake sign could grace your front entrance for years, bringing a sense of home each time you pass it by. A family constellation print would not only be beautiful to look at, but a fun activity to do together time after time (try pairing it with a telescope!). There are so many other options for other personalized items, including DIY projects as well. 

3. A Home Improvement Project

Is there something in your home that everyone can agree needs updating? Is there something you’ve always wanted to add to your home but haven’t gotten around to doing? Now’s the perfect time to take action. What better way than to make it a surprise for the rest of your family?

It could be that your kitchen is outdated and cramped, but it’s also the place where your family spends the most time. While a full kitchen renovation is certainly an investment, it’s also something that will pay you back in no time. Or maybe your family has always dreamed of a backyard pool, so you decide to make that a reality. It could also be something like finishing off an area of the basement and creating a game room.

Since home is where your family spends the most time, it only makes sense to do all you can to make it the best possible space for everyone. Presenting it as a gift will make whatever you do that much more special and heartfelt. 

Surprising your family with a gift can be approached in so many different ways. Remember that a gift can be anything — an experience, a material item, or a project of some sort. Spend time thinking about what would best benefit your family and bring the most joy and get ready to give the best gift ever.

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Pakistan – A Wonderful Destination For Adventurous Sports

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Pakistan is famous for its exciting cities, historical sites, hospitality, great cuisines across the world. However, most of the international states are not aware of the fact that it is an excellent destination to enjoy adventurous sports as well as cultural festivities. The variety of adventure sports in Pakistan is enormous. There are a number of adventurous destinations for extracurricular activities in Pakistan, which anybody can travel to. From fishing to river rafting, skiing to camping and jeep safari to mountaineering, Pakistan is gifted with such vibrant geographical landscapes that makes it outstanding tourist destination.

The northern areas of Pakistan are known as hub of Adventure sports and open to tourists and sportsman’s wonderful opportunities. Its rivers falling down from the snowcapped mountains and glaciers are great for water sports like river rafting, canoeing, sailing and kayaking. Horse and Camel safaris are other two exciting activities to enjoy. There are various destinations in northern Pakistan that provide wonderful opportunities for jeep safaris. Some of the destinations that can be visited for jeep safari include Gilgit, Hunza, Shandur, Sust and Skardu. Rivers Chitral, Indus, Gilgit, Swat, Hunza, Kunar and the Neelum offer exciting opportunities for water sports. There are mountains that offer wonderful trekking trails that lead to some beautiful spots.

Likewise, Swat is being called as Switzerland of Pakistan. Pakistan also offers beautiful spots for skiing. Swat’s Malam Jabba is one of the best skiing resorts. If Jeep Safari is what gives one thrill, perhaps there is hardly any destination as exciting as the Northern Areas: hence one should come here without any fear and must enjoy the adventure.  

Mountaineers from all over the world continue to test their minds and bodies by ascending some of toughest terrains in the world. Mountaineering is a highly specialized sport, especially on the 8,000-meter high mountain peaks, five of which are located in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region of Pakistan. These include K-2, Nangaparbat, G-I & II and Broad peak. Besides, 70% of mountain peaks above 7,000 meters are also located in Pakistan. An elite group of mountaineers, some of the best in the world, challenge the limits of what is thought to be humanly possible by attempting every winter to climb these summits.

Pakistan has produced wonderful legends in the field of mountaineering like Nazir Sabir, the first Pakistani to summit Mount Everest; Muhammad Ali Sadpara, the first Pakistani to summit Nanga Parbat in winter; and his son Hasan Sadpara. Muhammad Ali Sadpara has put Pakistan’s mountaineering in limelight at the cost of his own life.

Pakistan also has a lot of scope in the field of rock climbing. Unlike mountaineering, rock climbing is not an exciting sport in popular perception. Rock climbing is probably one of the toughest and most dangerous forms of extreme sports.

The season, which attracts mountain climbers from all parts of the world, creates a hoard of opportunities for mountaineering-related businesses in the country and helps Pakistan generate millions in lieu of taxes and fees every year. The life of common people is very tough in Northern areas of Pakistan due to extreme weather conditions specially winter. Pakistan govt has built various lodges along the whole routes, and has offered more services, this step has enticed more people to come. Visa process for foreigners to get tourist visas for Pakistan has been made very easy.

There are few suggestions which can help in bringing more charm in these games. International federations must contribute funds which assist in making the life of public better in the northern areas of Pakistan. The doors of President and PM houses should be opened for national and international mountaineers who summit main peaks and those success stories should be highlighted on international media as well. This adventure sport should be made top priority by government. There is a need to establish an international level professional mountaineering school and a trained rescue team of experts.

The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) should be given more strength. The ACP needs thorough professionals on board to make it more vibrant organization to promote and mainstream mountaineering in Pakistan and attract foreign mountaineers and trekkers. Government and state departments should make more focus to check the bottlenecks and facilitate the trekking expeditions. It is suggested that Mountaineers and High Altitude Porters (HAPs) have no insurance schemes, proper training and sponsorships, they should be facilitated at all levels.  

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