After winter, spring break is the welcome start of warmer weather, longer days and sun worshippers flocking to popular beaches. But the rush of tourists to beach towns can mean crowds on the sand and at other attractions, and higher demand for hotel rooms.
This year, why not consider skipping the beach (and the hassle) altogether to explore what else the spring season has to offer? From experiencing beautiful cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. and Japan to hiking at one of America’s most iconic national parks in Utah, there are countless non-beach destinations and experiences worthy of a spring getaway. And with hotels all over the world and in prime locations, Hilton has a front row seat to all the various ways spring blossoms. No, you won’t be at the beach, but you can use the list below to help you shore up an alternate plan.
Washington, D.C. owns the springtime with its famous National Cherry Blossom Festival, but the city also offers much more during that time. With hot new restaurants and shopping in areas like Georgetown and The Wharf, plus free museums and premiere entertainment at venues like The Kennedy Center and The Anthem concert hall, travelers won’t miss the beach when exploring this lively, vibrant city. Washington also boasts 18 Michelin-starred restaurants and a host of interesting, new and longstanding options for food-focused travelers. Try Pineapple and Pearls on Capitol Hill for a gourmet tasting menu that earned two Michelin stars. Or head to D.C. newcomer Estuary, which is led by Top Chef alumni Bryan and Michael Voltaggio in the recently opened Conrad Washington DC. Visitors and locals celebrate the arrival of spring in Washington with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which happens March 20 through April 12. The three-week celebration includes a variety of events and activities, including a parade, boat tours, bike rides, photo safaris, art exhibits, cherry blossom-themed restaurant specials and more. Plus, The New York Times recently named Washington the No. 1 destination of 2020, making now a better time than ever to add it to your must-visit list.
Hilton Washington DC National Mall is a great home base for a spring break trip to the nation’s capital. The hotel is conveniently located next to the new International Spy Museum and within walking distance of the National Mall and the District Wharf, a waterfront stretch of restaurants, bars, shopping and live music venues on the Potomac. The hotel is also located above L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station, making it an easy ride to the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.
Springdale in the springtime offers mild temps that are ideal for adventure seekers looking to explore the great outdoors. The small town is at the entrance of Zion National Park, which includes 229 square miles of stunning red rock formations, slot canyons, lakes and sandstone cliffs. Springdale gives visitors easy access to endless activities both in and around the park. Try an ATV tour through Zion’s backcountry where you’ll see beautiful mountain vistas and get to play in red sand dunes. Explore the park’s slot canyons on a thrilling canyoneering tour where you’ll hike, climb and rappel through Utah’s slot canyons. Or, hike the park’s extensive trail system, which offers stunning views and varying degrees of difficulty. Outside of the park, visitors can explore the charming town’s local boutiques, art galleries, farmer’s markets and restaurants. Start the day at one of the many coffee shops and then unwind by sampling local, craft microbrews at a riverside brewery like Zion Brewery.
When visitors are ready to settle in from a day of adventure, they can relax amid lush desert foliage and stunning canyon views at the historical Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton. The hotel is nestled along the Virgin River and is just a short, scenic walk to Zion National Park.
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe may have a small-town feel, but this trendy city is a melting pot of art, cuisine and culture. And with spring flowers starting to bloom, it’s a picturesque destination for a spring break getaway. Beyond the city’s historic sites and exciting museums, such as the centuries-old adobe San Miguel Chapel and the interactive art experience at Meow Wolf, Santa Fe also offers some of the best examples of New Mexican cuisine in the area. Those looking to indulge in the city’s culinary traditions can dine at Paloma Restaurant for tacos with house-made tortillas, then finish off with dessert a few blocks away at Kakawa Chocolate House to sample authentic chocolate drinking elixirs and more modern treats like truffles, caramels and even chocolate-dipped chiles sold to go. For spring breakers who aren’t quite ready for winter to end, Santa Fe also offers exceptional skiing and snowboarding. Just 16 miles outside the city center, visitors can hit the slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains through April.
The thoughtfully designed DoubleTree by Hilton Santa Fe reflects the spirit and culture of the southwest, with adobe-style architecture and decor. Guests can take in the beautiful New Mexico sunset from their room’s private balcony or relax in the outdoor hot tub. The hotel is conveniently located less than 6 miles from downtown Santa Fe and the historic Santa Fe Plaza, with shopping, restaurants and museums all within a short drive.
With the days getting longer and the temperatures becoming milder, a spring break escape to Asheville, North Carolina, is the perfect destination to revive after months of winter hibernation. With award-winning restaurants, trendy coffee shops, hiking and the second-most breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., Asheville is one of coolest small towns in the country. To taste some of the city’s favorite local beer, visit the Highland Brewing Company, which was the first legal brewery to open in Asheville since prohibition. Asheville’s music scene is also top notch – Rolling Stone recently called it the “new must-visit music city” – with dozens of live music venues all over town. Try The Orange Peel, an iconic concert venue that draws crowds for both indie artists and big name performers. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the variety of all-level hiking trails in and around Asheville. Try Wildcat Rock Trail, which features a 1000-foot waterfall, or Lookout Trail, which offers impressive views of the Black Mountains.
Asheville’s bustling downtown area is just a short walk or free shuttle ride away from the Hilton Garden Inn Asheville Downtown. Guests can enjoy more than 100 restaurants, cafes and bars, entertainment venues and locally owned boutiques. The hotel is also a short drive from Asheville’s eclectic breweries, the historic Biltmore Estate and The North Carolina Arboretum.
Winters in Montréal can be blistering cold, making the milder temperatures in spring especially appealing. There are also fewer visitors during the shoulder season. Still, travelers looking to catch a last-minute run down the slopes can take a quick trip to Mont-Saint-Bruno National Park, located about 9 miles outside of Montréal. If the weather is warm enough, pack a picnic and head to Mount Royal Park, an “urban mountain” that offers a scenic escape from the city. After a day of exploring, the city’s phenomenal culinary scene awaits. Sometimes called the “Paris of North America,” Montréal proves spring breakers don’t have to travel to Europe to find exceptional and authentic French cuisine. Try L’Express for a traditional bistro experience, or head to Restaurant Bonaparte for a classic French meal in a historical building in Old Montréal.
Located in the Ville-Marie neighborhood, Embassy Suites by Hilton Montréal is within walking distance of some of Montréal’s most famed attractions. Guests can start their day with a free made-to-order breakfast at the hotel before heading out to explore Old Montréal and wander the city’s historical cobblestone streets. Spring breakers can walk to the soaring Notre-Dame Basilica, several museums and art galleries, shopping on Sainte-Catherine Street and a plethora of charming cafes and restaurants.
Between the months of March and May, the temperatures in London are mild, the city isn’t overly crowded and the parks are green and blooming, making it an ideal time to visit. Explore London’s historical monuments and world-class museums and art galleries, such as the Palace of Westminster, the National Gallery and Tate Modern. Take a tour through the heart of London on a Thames river cruise, where riders can spot landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and the Tower Bridge. Start the day with a classic full English breakfast at one of London’s most well-known breakfast spots, The Regency Cafe, then enjoy a leisurely lunch or relaxed dinner at any of London’s outdoor eating places like Dalloway Terrace and River Café.
Located in London’s prestigious Grosvenor Square, The Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts is a sophisticated and alluring hotel surrounded by gardens and greenery that puts guests in an ideal location to explore. Hyde Park is just a short walk from the hotel, as are the high-end shops of Oxford and Regent streets. Iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey are within 2 miles of the hotel. In addition to several on-site restaurants and lounges led by Michelin-starred Chef and Restauranteur Jason Atherton, The Biltmore Mayfair offers an indulgently British afternoon tea in The Tea Lounge that is complete with savories, scones and sweet delicacies made with artisanal and heritage produce sourced from across the UK.
Osaka, the third-largest city in Japan, is a vibrant destination filled with unique culinary, cultural and eye-opening experiences. It’s no question that spring is one of the best seasons to visit Japan, especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. See thousands of colorful blossoms around Osaka Castle Park and tour the 16th-century Osaka Castle, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Spend a day at Universal Studios Japan® riding roller coasters, watching street shows and enjoying the magic of movies. Or, visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest aquariums in the world. Don’t miss the Dotonbori neighborhood and see why Osaka is known as “Japan’s kitchen.” Set in the Namba district along the Dotonbori canal, the neighborhood has countless restaurants and cafes with traditional and modern Japanese cuisine. Don’t leave without trying the famous local delicacy, the Okonomiyaki pancake, available at hot spots throughout Dontonbori.
The sleek Conrad Osaka is perfectly situated for exploring the city’s rich history, cuisine and cutting-edge entertainment, while also offering incredible views of the water and city from all guest rooms. The hotel is a short distance from some of Osaka’s most popular neighborhoods for shopping, entertainment and dining, including Umeda, Namba and Dotonbori, and it’s just an hour away from Kyoto.
Best Restaurants and Bars of Downtown Calgary
Located on the prairies, Calgary receives the most sunlight of all of Canada’s major cities. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are generally mild especially in contrast to the rest of Canada. The city receives so much sunshine throughout the year, even during the winter months, that living there is a desirable option for many looking to relocate.
Although this expanding metropolis is wealthy, living expenditures in Calgary are lower than in its coastal neighbor Vancouver. Calgary Homes for Sale are selling at an all-time high, with individuals migrating from townhouses and condominiums to single-family homes, and those who already own a home are choosing to upgrade.
Calgary has achieved significant progress in the culinary business during the last decade. The city is presently thriving with a rich restaurant culture that rivals that of any other big metropolis. Below are some of the best restaurants and bars of downtown Calgary.
Healthy eaters typically develop a big craving for Ten Foot Henry. They provide a fresh veggie menu and family-style eating, and they’re open until 11 p.m. every day to accommodate those who might have a late-night yearning for really tasty (and healthy) cuisine. Also, if you’re in a hurry, you can stop by the Little Henry café for a quick bite.
Holy Grill is a must-visit if you’re in the downtown area and searching for a decent lunch spot. They understand that your lunch break is limited with work or personal obligations, but that you don’t want to trade outstanding taste for convenience. Customers can order hot meals from the grill, which are cooked using fresh ingredients. Meals are carefully prepared and the service is generally quick so you can return to work or get back to touring Calgary’s streets as soon as possible.
Betty Lou’s Library is considered Calgary’s best kept local secret because discovering the library’s entrance is half the pleasure. You’ll need to remember the password given to you while making a reservation to get through the concealed doorway. Once inside, you’ll be transported to the Prohibition Era of the 1920s, where you’ll be able to relax on classic furniture while sipping cocktails named after notable 20s-era icons such as Zelda Fitzgerald. When you’re here, you can snack on little dishes of wonderful cuisine while reading The Great Gatsby, or enjoy stimulating conversation with members of your party.
Taste Restaurant serves tapas and specialty cocktails in a trendy and modern setting. The cozy and low-lit atmosphere is ideal for a date night. Visitors have the opportunity to observe their cuisine being prepared in the open kitchen. The tiny plates of food are designed to be shared and are brought to the table on a regular basis throughout the night. Taste’s menu changes seasonally to reflect the availability of local and seasonal products, ensuring that you always receive something new every time you visit.
The Lake House is a beautiful restaurant perched above Lake Bonavista with large glass windows lining the building’s façade, providing panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscape. The menu features distinct rocky mountain cuisine, reflecting Western Canada’s regional tastes that are so flavorful that you’ll certainly return for seconds.
The future of travel – an all-hands-on-deck effort
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly shaken up the world, with travel and tourism, a major global growth driver accounting for 10 per cent of the world’s economy, one of the hardest-hit industries. The outbreak has in its wake created severe domino effects in the ecosystem; not only the major airlines or chain hotels affected, but also the 80% of the tourism sector made up of smaller accommodation providers plus the peripheral services associated with tourism, including food and beverage, cleaning service providers, local tour guides and transportation. With World Travel and Tourism Council’s latest forecast that up to 75 million jobs will be at risk, it begets the question: Is the industry going to recover?
The answer is yes, but it will take all hands on deck, and a strong collaboration among all parties.
Government support is crucial
The travel industry supports one in 10 jobs within the global workforce in Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe, and rising to 13.3% of total employment in Southeast Asia. Governments can and are playing a critical role in supporting the industry to protect individuals’ livelihoods and in turn lead to economic recovery. Several governments have already announced stimulus packages to cushion the impact of the outbreak. This funding is proving crucial for the travel industry to maintain business continuity in the short term, but further to that, collaboration and cooperation with key industry players is important to help drive sustainable recovery within this sector. And the industry has not waited for smoke to clear to commence such conversations. For example, governments have already started working with key players and SMEs to develop and promote new, transparent safety and hygiene standards across tourism-related businesses, which will be crucial in driving traveler confidence again. Tourism ministries and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can partner with online travel agents (OTAs) to inspire desire to travel and attract travelers to destinations right across their markets in a sustainable way, which supports communities outside of key tourist destinations that were also impacted by COVID-19. These digital travel platforms, with their expansive reach and marketing tools, act as a bridge to help DMOs reach domestic and international travel audiences, while DMOs can encourage future travel planning by funding traveler incentives, while properties offer flexible cancellations.
Role of industry players
Agile travel players can take the opportunity to improve their offering and build new capabilities, preparing for when travel picks up again. In fact, the recent guidelines from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to help the global tourism sector re-open smoothly and safely, emphasised the importance of innovation and technology in building the industry’s resilience. Accommodation providers, airlines and tour operators need to be attuned to changing travelers’ expectations, which may look quite different post-pandemic. Innovation to anticipate these evolving needs is essential and identifying solutions that prioritize safety and flexibility now during travel downtime, will go a long way to rebuilding confidence.
Research from Agoda.com shows that travelers expect more from their travel experience in the 2020s with advances in technology improving the efficiency and ease of booking and traveling. In fact, aside from improving payment options and booking processes, one in two South East Asians anticipate that mobile app check-in will become the norm at hotels or holiday accommodation this decade. This desire may be even more prevalent for travel post-COVID, as people may demand contactless processes as far as possible.
In addition, hoteliers and airlines for example, are reviewing and updating their cancellation policies and procedures to align with travelers’ new expectations. These updates will likely to include more flexible booking options, making use of data analytics to better review occupancy levels and pricing strategies according to demand, as well as working with different distribution channels to reach travelers with their accommodation offers or flight deals. Other players, such as credit card networks and banks, have a role to play as well and can support by promoting safe travel campaigns.
Most importantly, across the travel ecosystem, all parties should work in tandem to not only align the conditions for such new policies and strategies, but also coordinate on campaign themes and periods, making it easier and more attractive for travelers to plan and book their travel. OTAs are well positioned and equipped to connect these players, from DMOs, hotels, airlines, activity providers, and other supporting partners, to a wider consumer audience.
Travelers also have a part to play
Last but not least, travelers fuel the sector. People will want to travel again, to explore the beauty of the world on their doorstep and further afield, though we expect the pace of travel industry recovery will differ across the world. However, without the collective understanding for responsible travel once governments begin to lift travel restrictions, the recovery process will be a slow and arduous one.
Agoda’s Next Decade Survey found that more than 25% of people want to make more eco-friendly travel choices in the next decade. The pandemic may make us reflect even more on sustainable travel; travelers may become more aware of the impact of their decisions and habits, which may lead to seeking out more environmentally friendly hotels, or picking destinations in less visited secondary cities to help spread tourism dollars and rebuild local communities.
Travel was one of the fastest-growing industries and over the years we have seen that the industry is resilient in bouncing back from crises. People’s desire to travel will not be quelled. However, bringing back tourists and re-building confidence in travel is going to take new approaches and collaboration. Like the story of the bundle of sticks, where a single stick can be easily broken but not when held in a bundle, it will take a collaborative effort from all players to pull through this together and reinvigorate the travel sector in a safe and sustainable manner.
Sea Adventures: Athens Riviera
Athens may be known for its archaeological attractions, but it’s also one of few European capitals blessed with a swimmable coastline of EU-designated Blue Flag beaches and idyllic coves.
For those yearning for adventures on the water, you’ll feel spoiled for choice. Greece is home to some of the world’s most desirable sailing grounds, so there’s plenty of boating fun to be had, starting with the Athens Riviera. And there’s no better jump-off point than Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens, which sits at the edge of a secluded peninsula that juts out into the Saronic Gulf.
Choose between the slow and steady rhythm of a sailing yacht and the adrenaline rush of slicing through the water in a high-powered RIB. Whatever it is that floats your boat, a private yachting trip is the best way to reach the nearby islands of the Saronic.
Greece’s culture and way of life is inextricably tied to the sea, therefore, adventures on the water are a signature resort experience. Here, water therapy comes in all sorts of forms, from scuba diving and kayaking to open water swimming and beyond. Consult our concierge, who can tailor the experience to your specific interests.
Sail Your Way to Serenity
Few moments in life invoke a sense of freedom and serenity like casting along the water in a sailboat, the wind rushing through your hair. There’s something about being on the water and relying on the wind to chart your course that allows you to rediscover your spontaneous side. You’ll set off from Astir Marina for a half-day skippered sunset catamaran cruise around the islets of Hydrousa and Fleves, whose crystalline waters are ideal for swimming. Raise a toast to the generosity of Mother Nature with a glass of prosecco along with finger food, traditional Greek delicacies and fresh fruit. Make the experience even more memorable with a candlelit dinner at anchor in a sheltered bay.
Reach Remote Coves in a RIB Boat
Not only are RIB boats the fastest mode of marine transport, they also allow you to reach the most remote coves located along the Riviera and off the Saronic islands, many of which are inaccessible by land. Hop aboard and, in no time, your skipper will have you flying across the water, jetting between secret bays and inlets. You’ll be surprised to find aquamarine waters reminiscent of the Aegean, in locations such as tiny, pine-dotted Agistri island, situated a relatively brief boat ride away from the resort. All you need do is drop anchor and take a soul-reviving dip. As late afternoon rolls around, dock outside casual seaside taverna Apónēssos at the southwest tip of Agistri and sample grilled sardines and tuna carpaccio, the house specialty.
Take to the Sea on a Traditional Caique
One of the most unique ways to sail the Saronic is aboard a traditional Greek caique, or trehandiri, with a captain who knows these waters like the back of their hand. Powered by motor and, in some cases, sails, these boats are renowned for wide wooden hulls that are specifically designed for navigating Greece’s waters in safety and comfort. Guests can choose between lovingly-refitted wooden motor sailing boats such as the 48 foot (15 metre) Faneromeni, which was built from pine on the Sporades island of Skiathos in 1945. Like most of these hardy vessels, there’s a story behind each one: Faneromeni originally transported food and other goods to the islands. Today, many caiques feature cabins, dining facilities, deck lounges and water toys such as SUPs and snorkelling gear. Ask our concierge about packing a Four Seasons picnic basket filled with culinary delights. You may prefer one of our chefs to join you on the trip to prepare a delectable menu on board.
Scuba Diving for Everyone
Newbie scuba divers often find it hard to paint a picture of what it is like to see the underwater world for the first time. Below the sea surface, the world falls beautifully silent. Looking at the delicate marine ecosystem up close, one feels a deep sense of peace, wonder and delight. For those wanting to try scuba diving during their stay in Athens, the calm, protected waters of the Saronic make for ideal conditions. Our expert team can provide a one-hour taster lesson in the basics of diving close to shore, whereas private dive sessions further out at sea can be arranged for the more advanced.
Kayak to Cape Sounion
Test your form and explore the spectacular coastline around Cape Sounion, at the southeastern tip of greater Athens, on a guided sea kayak tour. Our kayak experts will show you rugged cliffs, take you to hidden caves and introduce you to Archi islet and the sand dunes of wild Legrena beach. You’ll have the opportunity to swim in refreshingly cool seas and fuel up with a snack before you continue to Cape Sounion. There, you’ll park your kayak on the shore and take a wander around the painstakingly-preserved fifth-century BC Temple of Poseidon, dedicated to the Olympian god of the sea. British poet and philhellene Lord Byron was so impressed that he carved his name on the white marble structure when he visited in the 19th century.
Swim Freely in the Open Sea
Recruit our professional swim coach, who is also a trained lifeguard, for an open water swimming session in the exceedingly safe, shallow Blue Flag waters of Vouliagmeni Bay. Treat it as a training session as part of your regular program or make it a leisurely swim in the sunshine, taking in sweeping views of the verdant peninsula. Your coach will wear a floatable safety device for the duration of your swim to ensure added peace of mind.
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