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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Haute Couture Hotels in Europe

Boutique hotels have always incorporated an element of fashion. But noted European designers have been taking the concept to another level, patterning hotels with distinct touches of their luxury brands. Check out and into these couture lodgings:

Palazzo Versace: Australia
Widely considered the world’s first truly fashion-branded hotel, the 200 light-filled bedrooms and suites at the Palazzo are appointed with bespoke Versace Home furnishings and private Juliet balconies—very Italian indeed. The Versace Oz opened in 2000 and the brand has since expanded to Dubai.


Hotel du Petit Moulin: Paris
Christian Lacroix is the genius behind the flashy interiors of Hotel du Petit Moulin. The French designer created bespoke furniture, fabrics and bath products for the Marais residence located in a former 17th-century bakery.



Armani Hotel: Milan
The timeless elegance of the Armani brand is brought to bear in this Milano hotel (there’s also a property in Dubai). Coincidentally, both Armani hotels are in buildings shaped like a giant letter A.



Bulgari Hotel: London
The Bulgari Hotel London is a tribute to the brand’s silversmithing origins. Aside from the sleek silver architecture and the use of silver-patterned fabrics, there’s also a silver screen in the form of an intimate on-site cinema. Bulgari also has properties in Dubai and Bali.


Hotel Metropole: Monte Carlo
Karl Lagerfeld recently announced he’ll be starting his own hotel brand, with the first opening in Macau. The move follows on the footsteps of the Lagerfeld-designed outdoor swimming pool and restaurant area at the Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo.

Gallery Hotel Art, Florence, Italy
Lungarno Collection: Florence and Rome
The Lungarno Collection, owned by descendants of Salvatore Ferragamo, is a group of chic properties located in Florence and Rome. The hotels each have their own distinct styles, yet traces of the well-heeled Ferragamo fashion heritage are always on display.



This article originally appeared on Orbitz Blog. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Where Women Rule in Washington, DC

Celebrating National Women's Day in Washington, DC? Take some time to visit sites dedicated to powerful women.
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While the proverbial White House glass ceiling is still intact (sigh), there are a few places around the nation’s capital where women rule the roost. Sadly, those places are not in the halls of power, still dominated by a (white) male majority. But if you want to focus on the history and accomplishments of women, Washington DC does offer several museums celebrating the fairer sex.

www.nps.org
It’s likely politic to start a tour of dynamic dames at the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument. The National Park Service added the Capitol Hill museum site to its roster in 2016. The historic building was once home to the National Woman’s Party (NWP), which led early movements for equality and the right of females to vote. When the party purchased the house in 1929, it evolved into a center for feminist education and social change.



Today, the museum honors the Suffrage Movement (it’s named for two early suffragettes--Alice Paul and Alva Belmont), along with the continuing fight for equal rights. Memorabilia includes Susan B. Anthony’s desk, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s chair, a fine arts collection depicting famous women in American history and the wood blocks used to print suffragist literature. There is also a textile collection of banners, capes and costumes used by the NWP while picketing the White House or marching in parades and equality demonstrations between 1913 and 1970.
NMWA/Thomas H. Feld
Next, head to downtown DC to recognize creative women of another character. The National Museum of Women in the Arts calls itself the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to examining the work of a broad array of female artists. The institution has a permanent collection of 4,500 pieces, some of which date back to the 16th century. More than 1,000 artists working in a variety of mediums are represented, including Mary Cassatt, √Člisabeth Louise Vig√©e-Lebrun and Joana Vasconcelos. The museum regularly presents rotating special exhibitions featuring innovative female artists from around the world. The role of the female artist is also explored through film, cultural conversations and artist talks.  

NMWA/Dakota Fine

Statuesque Women

There are statues of Jefferson, Lincoln, Lafayette, Einstein and dozens of other statues around DC dedicated to dudes. Women are not as well-represented (imagine that), but there are some sculpted homages to the country’s fiercest females.

Eleanor Roosevelt statue
Eleanor Roosevelt statue |Flickr CC: Sean Hayford Oleary



Eleanor Roosevelt was likely the first First Lady to take the reins of power and run with them. Among other accomplishments, she was part of the first American delegation to the United Nations and chaired its first Commission on Human Rights. That’s why the life-size bronze of Eleanor stands in front of a UN logo at the sprawling FDR Memorial.
Photo courtesy of washington.org

Roosevelt was a big supporter of Mary McLeod Bethune, one of the country’s early civil rights activists. Bethune devoted her career to improving the lives of African Americans through education and political and economic empowerment. She founded a private school for African-American children, headed up the National Council of Negro Women, and was a special assistant to the secretary of war during World War II. Her memorial in Lincoln Park features the elderly Mrs. Bethune with two young children. Bethune is also celebrated at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.



Vietnam Womens Memoria-washington dc
Vietnam Women’s Memorial | Flickr CC: Jeff Kubina

One of the most touching sculptures on the National Mall may also be among the most overlooked. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is located in a grove of trees near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The 2,000-pound bronze statue by female sculptor Glenna Goodacre depicts three servicewomen, one of whom is tending to the needs of a wounded soldier.

More ideas, including monuments and statues dedicated to strong women, can be found here.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Natural Spa Treatments With Good Vibrations

Here’s the rub: In these days of digital overload and high-tech impedimenta, spas are going back to nature in order to stand out from the crowd. Water, wood, sound waves, sand and even fish eggs and poultry are being incorporated into spa treatments around the globe. Here are a half-dozen spa treatments that provide a natural high:

Fowl Play in Santa Fe


A Silkie Chicken at Sunrise Springs Resort
Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: To soothe a soul at Sunrise Springs Resort in New Mexico. The Santa Fe facility has two dozen purring Silkie chickens. Hold one and feel the sound vibrations throughout its body and yours. Aside from the good vibrations, hanging with the birds also allows opportunity to slow down and reflect upon the human pecking order and other eternal chicken and egg questions.

Mr. Sandman Hits the Big Apple  



How about a massage in the sand? A bit messy, right? Not at Spa Nalai at the Park Hyatt New York. Here, the “sand” is actually pebbles of quartz, placed on a special table, covered with sheets and heated from below. Once one hops on said table, the masseuse gently pelts the subject with heated poultices filled with warm quartz sand. It’s all designed to alleviate aches and pains and release muscular tension. The Spa at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida offers a similar treatment. 

Something's Fishy in Rome

What’s more natural than being schmeared with caviar? Okay, maybe not so natural (unless you are Vladimir Putin or an incarnation of a Russian czarina). Still, even members of the proletariat (if they can afford it) can enjoy the Caviar Body Treatment at the Spa at the Rome CavalieriWaldorf Astoria in the Eternal City. This nourishing and energizing total body massage is said to firm skin and leave clients “shimmering with renewed vitality, improved elasticity and an overall sense of well-being.” High “marx”, indeed.

Bamboo Botox North of the Border



Everything’s shipshape at Bota Bota Spa-Sur-L’Eau, a floating spa located in Montreal’s Old Port. Although listed as a facial, Bota Bota’s Kobido treatment is more of a massage for the face, as it dispenses with lotions and potions and focuses on the rub. The key to the treatment is the use of bamboo sticks to pinch and roll the skin, pushing out stress and rolling out wrinkles. It’s kind of like Botox without the needles.

Texas Tapping 


Take a beating at the Spa at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas. For a unique way to relax and invigorate the body, Manaka Tapping is an ancient Japanese treatment that has therapists rapping acupressure points with a wooden hammer and peg. If this sounds too painful, try a cuplift. Cupping is a time-honored Asian tradition (and more recently, a ritual embraced by one Michael Phelps) where heated vessels with mild suction are applied to the skin to stimulate circulation. Warning: post-treatment, it may look like a horse has been giving you hickeys.



Good Vibrations in Stowe, Vermont

The hills are alive with the sound of tuning forks in Stowe, Vermont,  best known as the American home of the Von Trapps.  The Spa at Stoweflake Mountain Resort uses sound therapy in several of its treatments. For a full body tune-up, the utensil of choice is a tuning fork. Tapping a tuning fork is said to alter the body’s biochemistry, bringing everything into harmonic balance. Warning: Do not try this at home with a kitchen fork.

The original version of this story appears here.https://www.orbitz.com/blog/2016/08/6-spa-treatments-that-offer-good-vibrations-and-natural-highs/