Connect with us

Travel & Leisure

7 Spring Break Destinations That Aren’t the Beach

MD Staff

Published

on

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.

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, UT

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.

DoubleTree by Hilton Santa Fe

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.

Asheville, NC

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.

Hilton Garden Inn Asheville Downtown

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.

Montréal, Canada

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.

London, UK

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, Japan

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.

Conrad Osaka

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.

Continue Reading
Comments

Travel & Leisure

Shivya Nath: A bold solo traveler who is breaking gender stereotypes

Published

on

Image source: the-shooting-star.com

In a majorly patriarchal Indian society, Shivya Nath found it in her to be a bold solo traveller. She leads a nomadic lifestyle, travelling across the world with her backpack. Shivya is the author of a best selling book, “The shooting star”, in which she highlights more about her life and experiences travelling. The book is an inspiration to women who are staying at home, craving a free lifestyle, and want to travel the world solo.

In this interview with Modern Diplomacy, Shivya tells us more about her life experiences journeying the world. She tells us what it takes to travel the world as a solo woman and narrates her experiences both bitter and sweet.

You have travelled so much and seen the world so intricately that you might as well be a nomad. The most obvious question – what convinced you to travel the world?

I grew up in a protective Indian family in Dehradun, a valley at the base of the Himalayas, and spent my childhood wondering what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my rooftop. Upon finishing high school, I went to Singapore to study, with big dreams and a big student loan. As luck would have it, I graduated in the middle of the financial recession of 2009, when most companies I wanted to work with had ceased hiring. I landed a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, where my experiments with social media began, and I first began following the journey of travel writers / bloggers around the world. It was impossible to tame my restless cubicle-bound soul, so in 2011, I took a 2 month unpaid sabbatical from work. I went flash-packing across Western Europe with a friend, and volunteer-travelled by myself in the high Himalayas of India. In those two months, I saw, experienced and lived more than I ever had before. Within a week of my return to work, I decided to quit my first and only corporate job with a dream of travelling the world on my own terms.

Your new project, Voices of Rural India is picking up steam and picking accolades for telling the most unlikeliest of stories. How do you envision it forward?

Voices of Rural India is an effort to turn this unprecedented pandemic into an opportunity to create alternate livelihoods by upgrading digital skills in rural India, while also preserving grassroots knowledge that is slowly disappearing. Voices of Rural India is a not-for-profit digital initiative that hopes to revolutionize storytelling, by hosting curated stories by rural storytellers – in written, photo or video format. Unlike most existing online platforms, the stories of rural India are told directly by local storytellers. In the short-term, Voices of Rural India is creating a revenue stream for affected communities through digital journalism. In the long run, it aims to develop digital storytelling skills at the grassroots level, along with becoming a repository of local culture and knowledge, documented in local voices. We are currently working with rural communities in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat, through on-ground community-based tourism organisations like Global Himalayan Expedition, Himalayan Ecotourism, Himalayan Ark, Spiti Ecosphere and Grassroutes Journeys. The initiative is supported by the Digital Empowerment Foundation. We’re eagerly looking forward to a post-Covid world, where we can physically travel to visit the communities we’re virtually working with, conduct digital storytelling workshops, identify local talent and hopefully bridge some of the gaping urban-rural digital divide.

Your favourite place so far? You can give multiple answers of course.

There’s so much to love about so many places! I love my home country India, because despite its challenges, nowhere comes close to the diversity of natural beauty, food and culture it offers. It’s perhaps one of the few places in the world where strangers are the quickest to become friends. Other than that, I feel a deep connection to Guatemala, Bhutan, Georgia and Iran.

Your passion for environmental protection and climate change issues is also noteworthy. What do you think should be the biggest change that can make mankind save itself?

Unlearning.

The more I slow travel around the world, the more I unlearn conventional ways of doing things. And that’s exactly what we need on a massive scale – politically, economically and individually.

We need to unlearn our reliance on fossil fuels, the issues based on which we elect our leaders, the way we treat some animals as friends and others as food (speciesism), the way we measure development and so on.

A deep unlearning will (hopefully) allow us to re-establish a world driven by mindfulness and compassion, rather than money.

Your book ‘A Shooting Star’ is a bestseller. Along with the travelogue, it is also about a spiritual journey one undertakes. Do you thus agree with the phrase that humans can better understand oneself and another with more communication and a better experience of diversity?

The Shooting Star charts my battles and adventures from the cubicle to the road, and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. I write candidly about my struggles of transitioning from an average Indian girl to a free soul, who wanted to live on her own terms, explore the world meaningfully and smash stereotypes along the way. I write about my relationships, battles, triumphs and life-changing encounters, and how I tried to conquer my deepest fears.

There’s no doubt that travelling is as much an inner journey as a physical one.

Tell us about a time when you were travelling alone and felt challenged?

After traveling safely and adventurously through some of Central America’s more notorious countries (like Honduras, labelled ‘the most violent place on earth’),  I had pretty much let my guard down in Costa Rica. On a hurriedly hailed cab ride to the airport to impulsively catch a flight to the Pacific Coast, the cabbie and I chatted like long lost friends. Closer to the airport, he told me we’d get stuck in traffic so it’s better to drop off a street before and walk; I agreed without thinking twice. When we arrived, I paid him and got off the cab, only to see him grabbing my small bag – the one with my passport, laptop and everything precious – asking for more money or he’d take off with it. I had the equivalent of 50$ in my pocket and gave it to him, shivering at the idea of being left alone without my valuables. In retrospect, there were a lot of hints I didn’t catch; he asked me if I had family in the country, or if I had a local SIM card – pointed questions that should have made me wary. I felt shaken up for days, refused to trust anyone else I met along the way, and found solace in places crowded with other tourists, much unlike my usual travel style. It really wasn’t about the money I lost, but the trust I lost, and it took me months to rebuild it.

What has been your biggest achievement till date? The most satisfying moment in your career?

There have been many satisfying moments on this journey: Publishing my first book and seeing it become a national bestseller in just over a month of release; recognition, awards and international features for my work to promote responsible, immersive travel; launching a clothing collection inspired by The Shooting Star that raises funds to grow forests in my home state Uttarakhand; and most recently, co-founding Voices of Rural India to challenge the way digital storytelling is typically done in India. But I think I feel the deepest satisfaction when a reader reaches out to me to share how my work has played a role in inspiring them to make different life or travel choices.

Travelling, that too alone is still considered a taboo for women in large parts of India. What do you think will change that?

As more of us choose to travel solo and share our stories online or offline, change is bound to happen. While female solo travellers are still considered an anomaly in some parts of India and the world, there’s a lot more chatter, acceptance and encouragement online now.

Continue Reading

Travel & Leisure

Turkish sojourns

Ankit Malhotra

Published

on

Neatly tucked away on the sparkling Turkish Riviera, the utterly luxurious Dalyan Resort is a dreamy coastal cocoon that one never wishes to leave. Once a sleepy fishing village, the seaside town of Dalyanon Turkey’s glittering coastline has, in recent years, become something of a playground for the jet-setters seeking respite from city life and her pernicious tendencies. The unique medley of beautiful red bricked cottages and ancient ruins run into an alluring elegance.

With its status as a burgeoning tourist hotspot there has been a slew of luxury hotels and resorts, all jostling for the patronage of beautifully bronzed, well-heeled holidaymakers. Establishing itself as one of the area’s most comforting boltholes, Dalyan Hotels run by the utterly charming, Yucel Okutur and his wife, Fulia. The seaside property promises a blend of style, serenity and comfort. Oh and how well it delivers. The magnificence is made clear from the very second one steps into the resort’s cosy lobby. A sweeping look from the sleek marble-panelled arrival deck across the sea and towards the property’s pristine private deck begs no question as to why this corner of the world is a secret so well kept. One cannot help but saunter around corners past slivers of glittering sea interspersed with bursts of pink oleander. A private sun-drenched armchair from which can embrace the nature enjoy the nourishment whilst flipping through the fables of Marco Polo, an apt companion an inspiration for and of travels.

The clever integration of spaces indoor and outdoor extends throughout the property inspiring a sense of oneness with nature. The classic yet contemporary interiors are best illustrated in the spa. Gazing at the marbled paintings, one reminds one of the four seasons, much like Vivaldi. The use of light, domes, marble tiling, high ceilings and open plan spaces generates a refreshing airiness and palatial spaciousness- a very special Turkish delight. Locally crafted fabrics, furniture and art are tastefully displayed alongside modern décor. No stuffiness or over-the-top excessiveness provides a veritable feeling of ease and comfort abounds, giving the sense that these are spaces designed to be lived in and moved through.

Moreover, travel brings out the best in men like myself who get dressed every evening feeling a bit like Napoleon: ready to conquer the world. There is a spring in our step and a smile on our faces. When we reach to our pre-booked table near the Riviera, we tend to soak in the ambience. There is a romance to every evening. We tend to find ourselves in the laps of fine company and an eclectic state of mind. Just like most things, travel for men like myself is not a liberator, rather, is the elixir of our being. After feasting well into the night with Kebabs and what not, one may feel inclined to forgo breakfast, but the extensive buffet is too enticing to refuse. One sets up for the day with freshly-baked bread and Turkish pastries, organic juices, a huge array of cooked dishes and plenty of fresh fruits and cereals. There is an overwhelming sense of calm in the entire hotel, which is more like home. Unbridled bliss is the name of the game it becomes impossible not to leave feeling utterly rejuvenated. The bespoke service of its staff, who are friendly and attentive without being bother some.I am inclined to believe, this’ true luxury.

Continue Reading

Travel & Leisure

Gift Giving Traditions Around the World

Newsroom

Published

on

Giving gifts is a tradition as old as mankind itself. It has always been a part of our society. When you give a gift to someone, it tells them that they are special in some way to you. We give and receive gifts for many occasions, like birthdays, mothers days, Christmases, on our anniversary, etc. In fact, gift-giving is so integral to our world that many nations developed interesting traditions around it. Here are some of the most interesting ones.

Japan

When giving a gift in Japan you should be very careful. The Japanese people attach great importance to gifts and consider them something that is mandatory, not just a kind gesture. It is not desirable to surprise them, as they will be embarrassed if they cannot immediately return something to the gift giver. Therefore, it is a good idea to discreetly advise them that you will give them a small memento of your meeting. The gift is given exclusively in private, and it is not common to open it immediately.

South Korea

In Korea, it is extremely rude to give or receive a gift using only one hand, especially if it is the left hand. You must always use both hands at once if doing so. Korean New Years greeting cards or gifts are never with a predominantly red color, as it is used for announcing funerals. Also, avoid gifts that come in sets of four as they symbolize death in Korea.

India

When giving a gift in India, you should always use your right hand. Using the left hand can cause offense as that hand is considered unclean. If giving money in India, try to give a sum that ends with 1. Odd numbers are considered very lucky in India. The number 1 is especially lucky as it signifies a new beginning. Because of this, giving a sum that ends with 1 is believed to grant prosperity to the gift recipient.

Arabs

Gifts are not as important to the Arabs as to other people. They represent something that “gives hospitality a wider dimension”. When someone comes to dinner, small gifts such as flowers and candy are common, and as a sign of special affection, silver, crystals, porcelain, and famous brand items are very appreciated. Handkerchiefs of any kind associate them with parting and tears and should be avoided.

Europe

As far as Europeans are concerned, every nation is a story for itself. The French are quite reserved with gift-giving, the Germans are especially rigid and formal, and the Dutch are a little bit more relaxed. For Italians or Spaniards, the exchange of appropriate gifts is quite acceptable. Russians and people from Eastern European countries appreciate something from your own culture, for example, a CD with your national music or some other kind of token from your country.  Also, in Russia, you should never give someone yellow tulips as they are the symbol of ending a relationship or betrayal.

Ireland

Don’t be surprised if your gift is refused a couple of times in Ireland. This tradition comes from a time when they had the potato famine, and because of this, the recipients are making sure that you can really part from the item that you are offering. It will also show great humility if you refuse the gift they are offering you a couple of times. The standard reply in Ireland when someone receives a gift is “you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble.”

Kenya

In Kenya, the Maasai people spit on a gift before giving it to someone. This is considered a sign of blessing and with this, they wish the recipient great fortune. Spiting is a very important tradition in Kenya. It is customary to spit on the head of a newborn child and on a hand before shaking it with someone.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Europe1 hour ago

Economic situation is EU citizens’ top concern in light of the coronavirus pandemic

In a troubled period marked by the coronavirus pandemic, trust in the EU remains stable and Europeans trust the EU...

Eastern Europe3 hours ago

Ceasefire Violated, Civilians of Ganja, Azerbaijan Hit –Again

Authors: Julia Jakus and Anar Imanzade Intensifying rocket and artillery fire exchanges between Armenia and Azerbaijan have driven military overtures...

Africa5 hours ago

It is time to end the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA), African Leaders signalled to the West that it is high time to end the...

Reports7 hours ago

MSMEs Key to Southeast Asia’s Post-COVID-19 Recovery

Strengthening the dynamics of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with innovation and internationalization will be key to revitalizing Southeast...

Development9 hours ago

Global collaboration is key to recovery and achieving the SDGs

The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled the advancement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It is creating many challenges, yet also...

Science & Technology11 hours ago

Antivirals, Spaceflights, EdTech, and Hyperloops: 20 Markets That Will Transform Economies

As the world grapples with the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increasing demand to shape a new...

Finance14 hours ago

Make the Reskilling Revolution a Priority in the Recovery

“There has been a lot of talk during the last few years, but very, very limited action” on education, reskilling...

Trending