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Asia-MalaysiaThe buzzing Asian city and Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is fueled by the country’s diverse multi-ethnic groups that include a majority of Muslim-Malays, Chinese and Indians. Nicknamed KL for short, in Kuala Lumpur there are a few “must sees” that include not only indoor activities, but also taking in a bit of nature and discovering some of the best food in
the world.

According to the folks at the Texas-based tour operating company, Ker & Downey, a first stop in Kuala Lumpur is a ride to the top of the Petronas Towers. The towers are one of Southeast Asia’s most famous iconic landmarks and the tallest twin buildings in the world, rising 88 stories. Visits can be made to the observation deck or from its double decker Skybridge linking the towers, and where you can get great views of both.

If you have the time, check out the Petrosains Science Discovery Center where there are rides, exhibits and even a 3D mini-theatre.

Published in May - June

Asia-indiaThe call is punctual but surprising - monkeys pounding on the window. Not the traditional wake-up call. That comes later.

So begins my Sri Lankan odyssey. I am surprised that this island country south of India -- slightly larger than West Virginia - is home to eight World Heritage Sites, Buddhist holy sites, safaris, a very unique festival, Ceylon tea and hordes of elephants. Nor am I prepared for the heat, humidity, heart-stopping traffic and the cacophony of
beeping horns.

 

Published in May - June

Africa-MoroccoThe time is 5 a.m. The city of Marrakech, Morocco is breathlessly quiet. Suddenly, chanting begins to resound from a nearby mosque. Within moments it is followed by a chorus of guttural voices, emanating from over 100 minarets. Asleep on a rooftop terrace I am jarred awake by the thunderous Call to Prayer. This is my Moroccan alarm clock.

My family and I are spending several days exploring the markets of Marrakech. From our rooftop terrace we have a sprawling view of the city. The markets form a web of convoluted streets; alleyways thatched in bamboo and hopelessly tangled. From the central plaza, the streets radiate outward in a labyrinth capable of making anyone feel directionally challenged. In the distance loom the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.

Departing from our rooftop we gravitate towards the plaza. By the time the sun had ascended, monkey-handlers and snake charmers are already welcoming the day. However, the cobras do not appear too charmed, their mouths sewn shut to prevent them from spitting venom. The skirl of shrill pipes is enough to make the most tolerant people insane. I pity the snakes that are subjected to it.

Published in May - June

Africa-Kenya
Kenya

Along Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline the temperatures are warm and humid, a sharp contrast to the cooler temperatures you’ll find in its bustling capital city of Nairobi. But it’s this coastline that plays host to a number of destinations not often associated with your typical trip to Kenya (if there is such a thing as a typical trip!)

A surprising escape to the island of Lamu will win bragging rights for your clients among their friends who mainly visit Kenya for Safari. Lamu is easily reachable from the country’s main airports of Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi. All flights land on Manda Island, just across the channel from Lamu.

Published in May - June

Africa-Israel

Blending the hip and the historic, Israel constantly reinvents itself. In Jerusalem, new luxury hotels-including the country’s first Waldorf Astoria-are joining family-friendly attractions like The First Station, a stylish restaurant-and-entertainment complex in a restored Ottoman-era rail station. Along the coast, in and around high-energy Tel Aviv, discover another vintage train station, with hip restaurants and shops, plus the new Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, and trendy boutique hotels nestled in the White City’s 1930s Bauhaus buildings and ancient stone manors.

Published in March - April

Africa-Chinzombo Zambia
Southern Africa is home to some of the best safaris, natural wonders and luxury lodges anywhere on the African continent. Here we break down Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, all easily accessible from Johannesburg, and should be on your radar as an alternative for an African holiday. Last year, the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization general assembly was co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe in their resort towns of Livingstone and Victoria Falls, the first time Southern Africa has hosted the UNWTO, solidifying their dedication to tourism.

Published in March - April

Asia-ChinaSome of the most memorable experiences I have had in China involved food and drink. In X’ian I was wowed by the variety of dumplings at De Fa Chang Restaurant (www.dfc.com.cn). We sampled about 25 different kinds of dumplings (there are over 100 to choose from) in a variety of shapes - think avian species; fillings - potato, chicken, walnut; dough flavors - pumpkin, spinach, chocolate; and cooking methods - steamed, pan-fried, baked. What a treat after visiting the tourist sites! In Beijing I fondly remember our over-the-top royal banquet meal with Chinese American friends, who had relatives in the city. And, I’ll never forget those “finishing tea notes” of Great Leap Brewery’s (www.greatleapbrew ing.com) Yunnan Amber beer - infused for five days in Yunnan’s Dianhong black tea, which I drank in the congenial lobby bar at Beijing’s Orchid Hotel (www.theorchidbeijing.com).

Published in March - April

Asia-australia
The islands of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, stretch approximately 1,200 miles off the northeastern coast of Australia in the state of Queensland.

There are accommodations galore here, from family-friendly to private and posh. A trip to these islands will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime excursion to a tropical getaway unlike any other. And, while it may be mind-boggling trying to sift through all various islands and deciding which would be the best for your client, don’t despair. We’ve broken it down for you here with a sampling of some of the best options out there.

Published in March - April

Caribbean-GrenadaIt has been 33 years since Sandals Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart converted a failing hotel near Montego Bay Airport into the very first Sandals all-inclusive resort. Since that time, Butch has been raising the bar for Caribbean hotels with each new property he has opened, and the recently opened Sandals LaSource in Grenada is his crowning achievement so far. Never mind that he was able to work flawlessly with government officials to negotiate a favorable environment to renovate and expand this resort, nor the fact that the work was completed in an astounding 10-month period. And while you can’t ignore the fact that Grenada’s leading hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkins of Spice Island Resort was the biggest island advocate, what is truly amazing is the resort itself. Sandals has been raising the bar with each of their new resorts, yet it is hard to imagine what could possibly be done in future resorts to improve upon this one.

Published in March - April

Caribbean-CHTAOrganized by Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014 was a resounding success at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The largest marketing event in the region attracted 1,246 delegates including buyers from twenty countries, tour operators, wholesalers, hoteliers, airline representatives and government officials. “We were especially pleased with the high level of optimism and enthusiasm this year,” said Richard Doumeng, president of CHTA. “This is a clear indication that interest is definitely increasing in the region.”

Honored as Hotelier of the Year, George Markantonis, managing director at Atlantis Paradise Island, was recognized for his commitment to staff training and implementation of sound environmental practices. The 34th recipient of the prestigious award, the industry veteran is also responsible for the One & Only Palmilla in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and the One & Only Ocean Club in The Bahamas. For more information please visit www.caribbeanhotelassociation.com

Published in March - April
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