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Bangkok Grand Palaces & Wat Phra Kaeo

Grand Palace Bangkok

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo was built by King Rama I, the first monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, as the royal compound in 1782, when Bangkok was founded. The 60 acre area surrounded by 1,900 meters (2,110 yards) white walls, consists of more than 100 uniquely beautiful buildings and throne halls with highly decorated architectural details

The Grand Palace was the King’s official residence in 1782 to 1946, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was the last monarch to live here. Today, the royal family (King Rama IX) resides at Chitlada Palace. 

Also located in the grounds of the Grand Palace is the Royal Thai Decorations and coins Pavillion displaying examples of Thai currency through the ages and collections of commemorative coins.

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Bangkok Phra Sumen Fort

Located on the corner where Phra Athit Road and Phra Sumeru Road meet, This Fortress was constructed in the reign of King Rama I in 1783 along with 14 other fortresses and battlements surrounding the capital. Vientiane people were recruited to build this fortress. Its shape is octagonal one with three levels. Inside the walls, there are steps leading up to the fortress. Altogether, there are 38 rooms for ammunition and weapon storage.

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Bangkok Vimanmek Mansion & Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall

Vimanmek Mansion Museum

Vimanmek Mansion, a three-storey world’s largest golden teak building with 81 rooms, originally built in 1868 as a summer house on the Si Chang Island, it was moved to Dusit Hall in 1901 and, quite understandably, soon become King Rama V’s favorite place. The celebration for the completion of Vimanmek Mansion was held on March 27,1901. King Rama V then moved his residence from the Grand Palace to stay permanently at Vimanmek Mansion for five years, until the completion of Amporn Satarn Residence where he lived until his death in 1910. Vimanmek Mansion was closed down in 1935 and remained in this state until Queen Sirikit reopened in 1982 as a museum to mark Bangkok’s bicentennial celebration. 

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West Coast – Fall Destinations

Indian summer is here; the tail end of summer that often brings the most heat and beauty just before fall.  For some places such as the eastern seaboard of the United States it may be getting cold and wet.  Although the Pacific Northwest rains most of the year it will be dry and hot during the end of September.  This small window with the additions of the California coastline provides numerous end of summer destinations to visit before autumn closes in.  Here are our top ten west coast destinations for the end of summer.

Top Ten West Coast Fall Destinations:

La Jolla:  La Jolla is located in an upscale corner of San Diego, includes high-end shops, sandstone formations and famous coves, known as the children’s pool but also popular with seals.  The town is also home of the University of California at San Diego and giant sea cliffs are very popular among photographers and hikers.

Hotel Del Coronado:  The red-roofed Hotel del Coronado, which dates to the 19th century, stands a few miles from downtown San Diego.  Since it was first built more than 120 years ago, the Hotel del Coronado has been a beacon of grandeur and refinement among vacation destinations in Southern California and the world. With its iconic red-shingled roof adding a dash of majestic color to the dazzling azure Pacific coastline, The Del stands as the definitive example of what a luxury resort should be.

Ragged Point:  Ragged Point, in Monterey County about 15 miles north of Hearst Castle, is a southern neighbor of Big Sur, and home to the food, lodgings, great flower-framed views and often-expensive gas at the Ragged Point Inn.  Ragged point is the halfway point in between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Nestled within the Los Padres National Forest, it is a secluded gem in the heart of the California coastline.

El Capitan State Beach: El Capitan State Beach, north of Santa Barbara, features about 140 campsites and a three-mile hiking or biking trail to Refugio State Beach to the north.  You don’t have to camp if you prefer to book a hotel Santa Barbara just a few miles down the Pacific Coast Highway.  The beach is beautiful, quiet and close to the famous wine country and small beach towns of the Central California coast.

Monterey:  Monterey was once capital of California, but lately it gets more attention for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which opened in 1984 and displays about 550 species of marine plants and animals, including this shark.  Monterey has great Italian food, great scenery, wildlife, and can provide endless sightseeing that everyone in the family will enjoy.

Cavallo Point:  Sometimes the simplest things are the most sublime. At a new national park lodge called Cavallo Point, a porch, a rocking chair and a view combine to become profoundly inspiring. This vast, peaceful spot near Sausalito was once Ft. Baker, a military post built in the early 1900s to protect San Francisco Bay.

Gold Beach: The roadside scenery in Gold Beach, Ore., includes the cool mural work on Tsunami Willie’s.  Gold Beach is an Oregon coast town near the California border.  It is famous for its seafood as the yearly Dungeness crab harvest brings many tourists to check out the catch.  The ocean is beautiful and not too cold as the town is laced with a number of bridges.

Portland:  Portland, Oregon is the most progressive city on the west coast.  With its green attitude, free Wi-Fi and city of bridges, many have picked up and moved across the country to settle down in this brewpub haven.  During the summer Portland is warm and is a great place to fish, bike ride and have some good food.

Ilwaco: Ilwaco sits near the south end of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, and the China Beach Retreat sits at water’s edge with a view of Cape Disappointment.  A great place to take a dog, go fishing, boating, camping, and just a couple hours from Portland or Seattle.

Deception Pass State Park:  A soaring bridge, a state park and deep green water make Deception Pass, between Whidbey and Anacortes islands, Wash., a popular stop for drivers and kayakers alike.  The pass is the narrow in which water comes into Puget Sound.  This beautiful strait usually is covered in fog, with beautiful hiking trails that look down on downtown Seattle.

New York Nightlife: The Art of Drinking

New York City may be known for the extravagant club scene with such mecca party spots like Bungalow 8 and the Marquee. But if you don’t have the bank roll or the celebrity hook-up then here’s a solid list of some of the best nightlife scenes NYC has to offer.

The 40/40 Club Named after one of baseball’s most prestigious achievements (hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases), this $4 million two-story sports lounge owned by Jay-Z brings sophistication and style to the traditional Sports bar experience. With two VIP rooms, a cigar room, marble floors and a solid collection of flat screens for your viewing pleasure the 40/40 brings class to the sports aficionado. The Roof Garden Cafe Located on the open air 5th floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art this little known slice of prestige offers a sculpture laden terrace where visitors can relax and soak up some culture while gazing out over the unsurpassed view of Central Park. With a simple sandwich menu; the full bar serves a collection of drinks including; Daiquiris, Margaritas, Pina Coladas, Mixed Drinks, Wine and Beer. Also if you’re looking to mingle with fellow tourists you wont find a better spot. Bowery Ballroom Lookin’ to rock out? Well look no further my friends. The Bowery Ballroom rages as one of the best venues New York has to offer. Darkly swank this well known hot spot boast solid line-ups and seperate lounge where you can escape from the headbanging and crowd surfing. With a fully stocked bar the Bowery Ballroom gives even the novice concert goer all the bang for their buck. Bar Masa

In the mood for some Sushi and Sake? Then be sure to check out Bar Masa. Next door to the main restaurant Bar Masa provides a more econmical approach to good Sushi and upscale dining. Serving several dishes from the main eatery the bar gives you a few more options that wont lighten your pockets too much. Marquee

If you’re in the know and have the hookup then this trendy celebrity magnet is a can’t miss. Sophistication and luxe decor define this quintisential ultra lounge and was propped by the New York Post saying ‘Unless the Spirit rover’s Mars turns up some real surprises, we’re ready to declare Marquee the hottest club in the Universe.’ Hi Fi

With a two for one Happy Hour from 4pm to 8pm daily, Hi Fi is a great place to get your drink on early. Powered by the masterful ‘El DJ Jukebox’, this music centric hangout boasts over 3,000 albums covering five decades of rock and rock associated music. Enthusiast from around the world come to marvel at the master playlist to end all playlist’s. Corner Bistro

One of the last Bohemian Bars located in Greenwich Village the Corner Bistro serves up $2 mugs and 8oz’s of nothing short of Hamburger magnificence. A down to earth atmosphere with an other-worldly burger make this the perfect spot to start off the evening with a meal and a few beers.

Most Affordable French Ski Resorts

As the new ski season beckons, it’s time to air out your woolly hats, blow the dust off your skis and grab a great deal to the slopes. In the chilly economic climate, the French Alps are still your best bet both for quality resorts and accessibility.

Just a couple of hours’ flight away from the UK, the French Alps offer a vast choice of resorts catering for absolute beginners, intermediates and pros.

Here’s our guide to the top ten most affordable ski resorts in France…

1. Les Corbier
Best for: Families
Located in the Les Sybelles region of France, the resort of Les Corbier is purpose-built, compact and traffic-free. Designed in the 1960s by architect Le Corbusier, the resort has become the fourth largest ski resort in France. Nearly all of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out apartments and with two supermarkets in resort, self-catering ski holidays are a breeze. There are several bars and restaurants.

Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances Residence Maeva Les Pistes is located 500 m from the slopes, the ski lifts and shops and offers fully-equipped apartments with mountain-view balconies. A week in a one-bedroom apartment for up to four people, costs from just 199 Euros.

2. Chamonix
Best for: experienced skiers
Chamonix is a much-loved ski resort due to the variety of outdoor activities you can participate in here. The summit of Mont Blanc is the third most visited natural site in the world and the mountains hosts activities such as ice climbing, alpine mountaineering and extreme skiing. There are all sorts of terrain, but this is the perfect destination for the expert winter sports enthusiast and the adventurous. Chamonix is famous for its cable car up to Aiguille du Midi as well as the panoramic restaurant at the top station of the Brevent cable car, which boasts impressive views of the Mont Blanc Massif.

Hot deal: The Residence Maeva La Riviera is located in the district of Chamonix Sud, 300 m from the Aiguille du Midi cable car and five minutes from the resort centre. Studio apartments for up to four cost from just 244 Euros for seven nights.

3. Valloire
Best for: Intermediates
Valloire offers the combination of an old mountain village mixed with modern architecture. Valloire is the best known of the Maurienne valley resorts and its narrow streets, bustling shops and various restaurants makes it a charming location for your winter holiday. The slopes spread widely across three sunny sectors and are particularly good for intermediates. 70% of the Valloire/Valmeinier ski area is above 2000m and it offers 150 km of slopes.

Hot deal: The Pierre & Vacances Chalets Valoria at Valloire is located on the heights, overlooking the valley and the resort. A high standard residence built in a style typical of the region; these spacious apartments are located 300m away from the ski lifts. Studios for up to four cost from only 279 Euros per week.

4. La Clusaz
Best for: intermediates
The French ski resort of La Clusaz is one of its kind as it is still, essentially, a genuine mountain ski village. This ski resort exudes rustic charm and an infectious Gallic atmosphere. La Clusaz offers 200km of largely intermediate slopes, above and below the treeline, and makes a fantastic base for an enjoyable, relaxed week.

Hot deal: Residence Maeva La Perriere overlooks the resort on the southern slope and is available at 320 Euros per week for a 4 person studio apartment.

5. Serre Chevalier
Best for: Snowboarders
Serre Chevalier is one of the major ski resorts in France. Located in the Haute-Alpes region, Serre Chevalier is a large valley between the Lautaret and Briancon passes. Its 13 villages and hamlets, which blend tradition and modernity, are scattered across the valley with its large skiing areas covering 250km. The resort also offers a wide range of activities for the whole family, and with its large natural terrain is also considered one of the best snowboarding destinations in France. Serre Chevalier lies at the foot of the most beautiful peaks of the Ecrins National Park and boasts approximately 300 days of sunshine a year.

Hot deal: Residence Pierre & Vacances L’Alpaga, situated in the mountain village of Villeneuve, has comfortable, spacious apartments close to the shops and ski lifts. Studio apartments for up to four people costs from 378 Euros for a week’s ski holiday.

6. Isola 2000
Best for: Skiers of all abilities
The little known Isola 2000 is a ski resort in the southern region of the French Alps that offers great skiing for all levels. This modern resort’s altitude is at 2000 meters and pisted runs reach the height of 2610 meters on the summit of Sistron where, on a clear day, it is possible to see the Mediterranean Sea.

Isola 2000 has an excellent snow record too. Snowboarding is popular in Isola and there are plenty of ‘board-friendly’ lifts and a dedicated snowboard park. There are lots of shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and supermarkets adjacent to the slopes and there are numerous cafes and restaurants should you wish to take a break and bask in the Mediterranean sun.

Hot deal: The Pierre & Vacances Les Terrasses d’Azur residence in Isola 200 is in perfect keeping with the resort’s natural environment of pines and larches. It overlooks the resort and is close to the ski runs and shops. The apartments are very comfortable and have a panoramic view over the skiing area and the Chastillon valley. Studio apartments that sleep up to four people cost from just 441 Euros per week.

7. Les Carroz d’Araches
Best for: Families
Les Carroz d’Araches is an expansive, sunny and traditional resort with plenty of terrain to suit everyone. It has the lived-in feel of a real French village and its array of pavement cafes and restaurants around the main square offers a homely and lively atmosphere.

The resort caters particularly well for families, offering excellent facilities for children so is perfect for a family ski holiday. There are good woodland runs immediately above the village for bad-weather days, with a scenic setting to enjoy when the sun shines.

Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances Residences MGM Les Fermes du Soleil is a luxury 4-star residence, just a stone’s throw from the centre. Each apartment is designed to offer you maximum comfort with large bay windows giving exceptional views over the village, the valley or the skating rink. The closest ski lifts, 800m from the residence, are accessible via a free shuttle bus. One-bedroom apartments for 3-4 people cost from 630 Euros per week.

8. Flaine
Best for: Intermediates and families
Flaine is a high-altitude resort sharing a big, broad area of varied slopes with more rustic alternatives. Flaine is a resort proud of its Modernist and artistic design, which is a dramatic contrast to the natural landscape of the French Alps. As well as the architecture, several large public art works adorn the base of the resort, including a Picasso.

Loved by many, due to the extent of its ski area and range of runs, this is a resort ideal for intermediate skiers as well as being one of the most family-orientated ski resorts in Europe.

Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances Terrasses d’Eos residence is a brand new addition to our ski residences for the 2009/10 ski season. Built in 2008 by Intrawest, this top-of-range residence is located in a new, entirely car-free hamlet of Flaine Montsoleil and features 145 comfortable apartments.

The two buildings that make up the residence have direct access to the pistes and chairlifts, providing you with a direct link to the Flaine and Grand Massif ski areas.
One-bedroom apartments cost from just 572 Euros for seven nights and sleep up to four people.

9. Valmorel
Best for: First timers and families
A great choice for first-timers and families, Valmorel is a purpose-built French ski resort comprising several small satellite villages in the Grande Domaine. Valmorel and St Francois Longchamps together offer 165km of marked pistes.

Valmorel’s resort centre is car-free and it also scores top marks for families as most of its pistes cater for beginners and intermediates, and there are plenty of designated practice areas. The ski area is on your doorstep which means you can literally ski to your door – another big plus if you’re skiing with kids. While it is great for families, those who also want lively apres-ski should go elsewhere as there are only a handful of restaurants and bars.

Hot deal: P&V is offering seven nights in a studio apartment at Residence Maeva Planchamp et Mottet in Valmorel from just 405 Euro.

10. Alpe-d’Huez
Best for: thrill seekers and skiers of all levels.
Home to La Sarenne, which at 16km is Europe’s longest ski run, Alpe d’Huez is often thought to be the sole preserve of ski pros and adrenalin junkies. While the infamous ‘Tunnel’ run remains a must do ride for experienced skiers, the resort also has a good choice of gentler runs for beginners. The best of the less challenging slopes are found on the outskirts of the resort and there are plenty of blues and reds for intermediates.

Situated in a large sunny bowl, Alpe d’Huez is known as the ‘l’Isle au Soleil’ (‘The Sunny Island’) thanks to its high levels of sunshine throughout the year.

This resort is a great choice if you’re travelling in a group which has mixed abilities – leave the pros to La Sarenne while the novices play it safe.

Hot deal: Situated in Les Bergers district of Alpe d’Huez, the Pierre & Vacances Bergers residence has comfortable apartments and a heated outdoor swimming pool. Seven nights in a studio that sleep 3-4 costs just 405 Euros.

All P&V residences featured are ski in/ ski out and are self-catering apartments with fully equipped kitchens and cooking facilities.

Pierre & Vacances have also just launched a euro-busting offer which means customers can save up to 35 percent off all ski resorts throughout the winter season. This means, if you book fast enough you could be saving a third and spend just 55% for a weeks accommodation! And it gets better…this major ski discount can be used on all dates throughout the winter ski season including the school holidays, Christmas and New Year.

The Eurobuster deal can also be combined with any other P&V deal currently on offer, including the 20% early booking discount, leading to savings of up to 35% on your winter ski holiday.

Best Hotel Pools

Trivago, the hotel price comparison site has produced a list of the top ten hotel pools in the world.  Each of these pools has something amazing to offer – from an infinity edge pool overlooking the Hong Kong Harbor, to a secluded resort pool nestled between the Arizona Boynton Canyon Mountains – these are truly the most extraordinary hotel pools in the world.

Unlike the huge resort pools of Las Vegas, these pools are not teaming with hoards of swimmers.  This list of destinations includes secluded locations for not only your hotel stay, but your vacation.  Such examples of this are the Spanish Islands off the west coast of Africa. (Rio Calma Hotel on Fuerteventura)  Below is a list of the top ten extraordinary hotels.  For a slideshow of these pools check out Gadling.com

Intercontinental, Hong Kong
Adler Dolomiti Spa and Resort, St. Ulrich
Ubud Hanging Gardens, Ubud
Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona
Cavo Tagoo, Mykanos
Rogner Bad Blumau, Steiermark
Rio Calma, Fuerteventura
Golden Nugget, Las Vegas
Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa, Sedona
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

The Fairmont Orchid: Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii

Location:

The Fairmont Orchid In Kamuela, Hawaii, Is Poised On 32 Tropical Acres Within Hawaii’s Big Island. Adjacent To The Francis H. I’i Brown Golf Course, This Oceanfront Property Is One-half Mile From The Puako Petroglyph Archeological Preserve. Complimentary Shuttle Service Within The Resort Is Available Upon Request.

Hotel Features:

Nightly Hula Shows And Hawaiian Music Accompany The Hawaiian Cuisine Served At Brown’s Beach House, Where Menu Items Include Linguine With Kauai Shrimp And Kiawe-grilled Seafood. The Orchid Court Provides Al Fresco, Buffet-style Breakfasts And A La Carte Selections, While Norio’s Sushi Bar + Restaurant Boasts A Menu Featuring Tempura, Fresh Sushi And Teriyaki. Oceanfront Massage Cabanas And Waterfall Massage Houses Are Hosted At Spa Without Walls, Where Pampering Services Include The Big Island Coffee + Vanilla Exfoliation Treatment And The Lomilomi Massage. A 36-Hole Championship Golf Course Is Featured At The Francis H. I’i Brown Golf Course, While 10 Tennis Courts Reside At The Property’s K-swiss Resort Academy. A Fitness Center Contains Free Weights And Cardiovascular Equipment. Kayaking, Surfing And Snorkeling Are Available On Site, With Additional Amenities Including Two Lava-rock Spa Tubs, A Sand-bottomed Children’s Pool And A 10,000-Foot Oceanfront Pool. Children’s Activities Include The Keiki Aloha Program, Offering Nature Walks, Snorkeling And Arts And Crafts Activities For A Fee.

Guestrooms:
The 540 Guestrooms Feature Crown Molding, Teak-wood Furnishings, Upholstered Armchairs And Decor In Tones Of Khaki, Saffron Yellow And Pale Jade. Sliding-glass Doors Open To Private Furnished Lanais With Ocean Or Garden Views. Bathrooms Feature Dual Marble Vanities, Complimentary Toiletries, Bathrobes, Phones And Separate Showers And Bathtubs.

Expert Tip:
Every Afternoon At The Property, Green Sea Turtles Emerge From The Waters And Onto The Shoreline To Bask In The Tropical Sun. Guests May Encounter The Turtles While Snorkeling Offshore.

Kids Eat Free:
Book A Stay In Any Room Category And Meals For Children Under Five Are Complimentary And Meals For Children, Five To 12, Receive A 50-Percent Discount When Accompanied With A Paying Adult. This Offer Is Valid On All Room Categories.

Property Amenities

Business Center
Dry Cleaning Service
Children Stay Free – 17 Years and Under
Fitness Equipment
Restaurant(s)
Conference Room(s)
Bar/Lounge
Spa tub
Elevator/lift
Concierge desk
Gift shop or newsstand
Swimming pool – outdoor
Billiards
Internet public area – wireless – Fees Apply
Sauna
Wedding services
Currency exchange
ATM/banking
Computer rental
Supervised child care/activities
Rollaway bed – Fees May Apply
Technology helpdesk
Picnic area
Self parking
Full-service health spa
Ballroom(s)
Hair salon
Arcade/game room
Swimming pool – children’s
Coffee in lobby
Shopping on site
Coffee shop or cafe
Event catering
Cribs – Fees May Apply
Internet public area – high-speed – Fees Apply
Room service (limited hours)
Security guard
Barbecue grill(s)
Safe-deposit box – At Front Desk
Clubhouse
Cell phone/mobile rental
Steam room
Breakfast services – Fees Apply
Comp newspapers in lobby
Patio
Private beach
Poolside bar
Tennis court
Parking (valet) – $15 Daily
Parking (surcharge) – $9 Daily
Area Attractions

Pauoa Bay: Adjacent
Francis H. I’i Brown Golf Course: Adjacent
Puako Petroglyph Archeological Preserve: 0.5 mile
Eva Parker Woods Cottage: 1.0 mile
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site: 6.0 miles
Kawaihae: 6.0 miles