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NEED TRAVEL IDEAS

Activities & Interests

Past travel articles organized by activity and interest.

review

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A welcome facelift in the land of plastic surgery

In Los Angeles, there's a lot of chatter about who's real and who's not, what's ''legit'' and what's a fad. The Moment, a new boutique hotel situated on the famous Sunset Strip, is the real deal: the staff are knowledgeable and funny, the rooms funky and chic without being pretentious, and the vibe - to use a terribly played-out L.A. term - is way cool.

Location: Los Angeles;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Postale (7twenty7.com/apps/postale) is an iOS app that combines the fun of sending old-school postcards with the modern-day convenience of social media. Best of all, you can use your own just-shot vacation snaps to create your card. The whole process takes mere minutes: Choose a layout and background, add photo, title and message, then finish it off with an artsy postmark. When you're happy with the finished product, send it straight from the app using e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. A unique stamp is automatically added that shows from where and when your card was transmitted. It's a personal way of updating family and friends on your how your holiday is going.

Subject: review; software; technology; travel

Saturday, April 12, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

HotelsWeLove.com is geared to travellers who want guidance in a slick and succinct package. Designed by ex-Lonely Planet staffers Rachael Antony and Laurence Billiet, the website looks like a glossy magazine and covers 11 cities. Trip tips are categorized under Think (books, art and movies you should look at before arriving), Play (what to see in the city) and Sleep (accommodation choices). Insider hotel reviews include frank comments on what should be improved. For example, at Shoreditch House in London the reviewer writes, ''I wasn't a great fan of the overly warm and OTT welcome (including hugs, or was it an arm squeeze?).'' However, if you're looking for Trip Advisor-style recommendations and reviews, or any practical advice, such as advice about currency and voltage guidelines, look elsewhere.

Subject: review; travel; websites

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Marcel Wanders fairy tale for Hong Kong

This boutique hotel collaboration between rock star designer Marcel Wanders and property design company Yoo (whose founder is none other than Philippe Starck) is the darling of the moment for design aficionados. The 36-floor, 91-room hotel in the up-and-coming Wan Chai district of Hong Kong fills a niche in a destination long on stately escapes, such as The Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental, but short on hip hideaways. From the first-floor lounge to the penthouse, every element of this visual cross between Magical Mystery Tour and Through the Looking Glass has been carefully thought out. A moody house-music track plays in the lobby and bar accompanied by a ubiquitous subtle violet scent created just for the hotel. The staff's Grace Choi-designed day-and-night outfits seem a backdrop for a contemporary and experimental piece de theatre.

Location: Hong Kong;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

Sleek and chic, Briggs and Riley's new Torq hardside cases catch your eye on the luggage carousel. The respected New York travel-gear company even offers a lifetime guarantee for these hardside cases, and will replace or repair bags free - even when it's the airline's fault.

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A hotel to enjoy the Dallas arts scene - inside and out

The the neo-gothic Joule is a twin-towered luxury boutique-hotel that's undergone a $78-million (U.S.) reno developed by local oil billionaire and film producer Tim Headington (Argo, Hugo, The Tourist). The hotel has double-barelled ambitions: becoming a main attraction for visitors and to reflect the city's widening arts scene. Apart from its own art collection, which includes Andy Warhol's set of screen prints Electric Chairs and restored local tile mosaics, it follows a literary trend among hotels by offering a bookstore with Teutonically cool art books from Taschen.

Location: Dallas; Texas;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A story behind every stay: Three new Manhattan hotels steeped in history

If Jack Kerouac, Maggie Smith, Julie Andrews, John Barrymore and Lenny Bruce once slept here, it's good enough for me.The Marlton hotel was built in 1900, and later became a cheap sleep for the Beat Generation and its central Manhattan location, and affordability meant it attracted the creative class for decades. In 1987, the building turned into a dorm for the nearby New School, until hotelier Sean MacPherson, he of hip haunts such as the Jane and the Bowery, purchased the historic property in 2012.

Location: New York City;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A story behind every stay: Three new Manhattan hotels steeped in history

The corner of New York's 57th Street and 6th Avenue had seen better days. The Buckingham Hotel, as most short-term Manhattan accommodations do, once played host to many early-20th century luminaries, including Georgia O'Keeffe and pianist and Poland's first prime minister, Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Having faded in glamour of late, the property was bought and reopened as the Quin in late 2013. It would be easy to consider its address the most important asset, but the range of amenities and services make it hard to leave the hotel despite the environs.

Location: New York City;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A story behind every stay: Three new Manhattan hotels steeped in history

''Does anyone still wear a hat?'' Elaine Stritch first posed the question in 1970 in Stephen Sondheim's Company - and the short answer is: no. The upside to the decline in women's headwear, however, is that a former millinery factory just a few blocks away from where Stritch sang The Ladies Who Lunch has been recently transformed into one of New York's hottest new boutique hotels: Refinery Hotel.

Location: New York City;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Get your suitcase in order with the help of Travel List, an iOS app (travellistapp.com) that takes the guesswork out of packing. Start by setting up a series of lists based on the type of holiday you're taking (beach, safari, city weekend, family holiday, and so on) and populate them from the preset menus. Within minutes, I scroll through categories that include personal care, clothing, gadgets and documents, and pick must-have items from GPS and mosquito repellent to bikinis, belts and baby sunscreen. Specify quantities of each item and tick them off once they're packed. While there are other packing-list apps out there, this one has a simple layout, is easy to navigate and it allows users to copy pre-existing lists, so you don't have to start from scratch every time.

Subject: review; technology; travel; websites

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Equestrian luxe deep in the heart of Virginia horse country

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits the elegant Salamander Resort and Spa. Opened last summer, the five-star resort covers 138 hectares deep in the heart of Virginia's horse country, making this equestrian-themed hotel a must-stay for guests who love to ride or love to hang out with the monied horsey set.

Location: Middleburg; Virginia;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 22, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Find a stylish, kid-friendly home-away-from-home on Kid and Coe (kidandcoe.com) a website that has hundreds of family residences for rent in cities such as Copenhagen, San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong. New York-based founder and mother-of-two Zoie Kingsbery Coe has designed the site with practicality in mind. Property listings include essential details about amenities and location, as well as finer details - a flat in Barcelona, for instance, has a single bedroom that's ''lovely for a little girl, with a pink fleece rug and dolls house.'' Once you've booked, you'll get a tailor-made travel plan that includes property guidelines, suggestions of things to do and see and an online destination guidebook that was compiled with the help of local parents.

Subject: children; review; travel; websites

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ian Schrager delivers another 'it' hotel

The paparazzi camped out front of the hotel are completely unfazed by my comings and goings. They're more enthusiastic about London TV host Nick Grimshaw, model Daisy Lowe and boy band heartthrob Harry Styles who are all here to celebrate the birthday of current ''it'' girl, Alexa Chung. The doormen who keep the photographers at bay take it all in stride, and even the crowds in the lobby at the Edition, London are nonplussed by yet another celebrity making the scene. If there's such a thing as an ''it'' hotel, this collaboration between celebrity hotelier Ian Schrager and the Marriott group is it. The lobby is heaving, the restaurant nearly impossible to get into at peak hours, and the wood-lined rooms as cool and seductive as a Bond vixen.

Location: Great Britain; London;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

Baggage fees are such a handy excuse for not exercising on the road. By the time you cram all the true necessities into a carry-on bag, those awkward, bulky running shoes just won't fit. Oh well. I'm not paying $25 just to hit the hotel gym once or twice.

Subject: accessories; review; shoes; travel

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stretching out in Switzerland

The first word that comes to mind when wandering around the Chedi Andermatt is spacious: spacious rooms and bathrooms, spacious hallways, a spacious restaurant with spacious kitchens. All that room can be disorienting, but mostly it feels cozy since the modern-Swiss decor is paired with Asian flair and plenty of soothing colours and wood accents - not to mention a fireplace in every room.

Location: Andermatt; Switzerland;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let yourself be seduced by the view

It's been almost a decade since Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit famously described his city as ''poor, but sexy.'' In recent years, however, as the economy has boomed, the first part of that equation has been altered by an influx of wealth, leading to grumbling about gentrification from artsy types. No doubt, the gorgeous new, five-star Waldolf Astoria hotel in the posh Charlottenburg neighbourhood is a sign of richer times for the German capital - but does it make the city sexier?

Location: Berlin; Germany;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

The challenge: A sales rep for Lole, the Montreal-based activewear shop, brags that she never checks a bag - even on week-long trips - when she's using Lole's Nina duffel and Lily tote. I'm doubtful. The duffel is only 45 centimetres long and 35 cm high, and how would any eagle-eyed flight attendant buy the 33-cm-by-40-cm tote bag as a purse? So I try it on a five-day ski getaway (shorter than a week, but winter holidays require bulkier clothing, so I consider it equal).

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Capture and share your stay at Sydney's Instagram hotel

If you want a peek at the 1888 Hotel, look up Instagram (#1888hotel). As the world's first ''Instagram hotel,'' it might have started a trend, as other hotels take its lead. Guests can take selfies in the lobby, and see them instantly appear on screens near the reception desk. The best Instagram shots win a free night in the hotel.

Location: Australia; Sydney;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, February 22, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Make the most of a long weekend in Manhattan with Trekkel.com, a website that uses your likes and dislikes to tailor itinerary recommendations. More than half a dozen cities including Boston, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Victoria are covered. Rate what you value most in a trip on a scale of 0 to 5 (categories include great food and drink, cultural delights, iconic landmarks and family adventures) and in seconds, you'll get a list of what to see and do complete with photos and maps. Some suggestions are mainstream, but there are also offbeat picks, such as the Cage, a basketball court in Manhattan's Meatpacking District that's a hotspot for locals. It's worthwhile to register (free) so you can build, save and share itineraries with friends.

Subject: review; technology; travel; trekkel.com; websites

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Victoria's elegant escape for the business set

The most glamorous way to swoop into Victoria, barring a gigantic yacht teeming with manservants, is by floatplane. In half an hour a Harbour Air seaplane takes you from downtown Vancouver to Victoria's Inner Harbour, just blocks away from the Magnolia Hotel and Spa. On request, hotel staff can meet you and pull your bag up the mild slope. The Magnolia is tucked into Courtney Street, close to the grand, neo-Georgian Union Club of B.C. (est. 1879) and the Chateau-style Fairmont Empress (est. 1908). In other words, this is a historic neighbourhood, and although the Magnolia is only 15 years old, its recently refurbished style is elegant faux heritage rather than trendy.

Location: British Columbia; Victoria;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, February 15, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Stay At Hand (stayathand.com) is a free iPhone app that tailors hotel searches to its users' preferences. Plus, you can search multiple destinations at the same time. If you're destined for Phoenix, San Francisco and Austin, and need pet-friendly, four-star hotels that offer free Internet, valet parking and close proximity to a golf course and an outlet mall, simply select these preferences from the easy-to-navigate screens. The best function, however, is that the app keeps working even if you're not actively using it. Simply select the offline option, save your customized search details, and ask for a notification when all the criteria is reached.

Subject: review; software; technology; travel

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

When you're allergic to down, trying to find a truly warm ski jacket that you can pack into a suitcase is a challenge. Layering is one way to avoid breaking out in hives, but there's only so much room in carry-on luggage. And who wants to look like the Michelin Man on the slopes? Not I. That's why two sleek jackets from MEC, the Bricole shell and the Uplink mid-layer, caught my attention.

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A resort with sex appeal - and peekaboo showers

Viceroy Riviera Maya will come, at first, as a shock to the system. It took my bemused husband to explain that the rose-coloured thingys strewn on our king-sized duvet were, in fact, petals (as opposed to decorative sewing). But this was just a warm-up.

Location: Mexico; Quintana Roo;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, February 8, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Jetpac City Guides (jetpac.com) analyzes details of more than 100 million Instagram images to point travellers to the world's hippest hangouts, happiest places and best views. The free iPhone app makes recommendations by ranking publicly shared digital photos by such details as the amount of blue sky, the number of smiles, evidence of coffee cups or wine glasses, and so on, to come up with Top 10 lists. The results are hit and miss. If you're heading to Paris, and want to know where the city's best museums are, you'll be offered the usual (Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musee d'Orsay). Searching for the happiest places, however, leads to a list of nightclubs, restaurants, bars and an office tower. Stay away from gimmicky recommendations and instead look for coffee shops, dog-friendly places and where parents go with kids.

Subject: review; software; technology; travel

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Where to ski like a local in B.C.

British Columbia is blessed with such an abundance of snowy terrain, visitors might never ski all of it. But don't let that stop you from trying. These five lesser-known resorts offer some of the country's best skiing with smaller crowds and more locals.

Location: British Columbia;

Subject: resorts; review; skiing; tourism; travel

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vacation near the glow of an active volcano

In 1846, the first visitors to Volcano House bedded down in a one-room grass hut to be as close as possible to Kilauea, an active volcano on Hawaii Island (or the Big Island). Larger and more comfortable versions of the hotel followed, but when the latest closed in 2010, locals feared the inn that hosted such notable guests as Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson might be lost to history. Three-and-a-half years and $7-million (U.S.) in renovations later , the hotel is again welcoming visitors for a front-row seat on the volcanic action.

Location: Hawaii;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, February 1, 2014

WORLD WIDE TECH

Having trouble retracing the steps of your recent Roman holiday? Rove (roveapp.com) is a free iPhone app that uses GPS data to track all the places you've been. It works in the background to create a travel log of sights, restaurants, hotels and shops that you've visited. The part calendar/part map layout is easy to read and tracks whether you got somewhere on foot, bike, bus or taxi. You can tailor things further by adding notes. I tried it out on a weekend where I crossed town to do errands, met friends for lunch, and went to see an exhibit at an art gallery. There were minor inaccuracies in the data, but it's easy to edit as you go.

Subject: review; software; travel; wireless technology

Saturday, February 1, 2014

In Maui, Hawaiian hip that's fit for the Hollywood A-list

If Hawaii makes you think of luaus, pupu platters and tiki drinks, it's time for a revisit. There's a Hawaiian cultural renaissance under way, and the Andaz Maui is at the forefront of a hip contemporary vision of Hawaii - with no kitsch.

Location: Maui;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

When you only fly with carry-on luggage you've got to be choosy about what goes in it. That's where the Secret Sweater comes in: It's a shrug, it's a hidden layer of warmth, it's a silky soft garmet that'll slip into the smallest corner of your suitcase.

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A great example of how to treat the road-weary woman

People who travel for work are often the envy of those who are chained to their cubicles. This is foolish. Yes, corporate jet-setting carries an element of glamour - but it is more likely to be chock full of mediocre room service and dreary isolation. A lesson in how to make things better for road warriors - those of the female persuasion especially - is found at the recently renovated Loews Hotel Vogue Montreal. Make no mistake: It is also makes for a lovely vacation. But it seems to have business travel down pat. For starters, the WiFi is free throughout the hotel. Hallelujah.

Location: Montreal;

Subject: business travel; hotels; review; tourism

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Step into 1920s New York at this art-deco escape in Greenwich Village

The Jade offers a different feel than the big brand hotels usually found in New York's busy Midtown. Turn onto the quiet tree-lined, 13th Street in Greenwich Village, and you'll feel like you've taken a step back in time once you reach this art-deco inspired boutique hotel.

Location: New York City;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Brooklyn's hottest hangout

It's a noisy 30-minute train ride from Lower Manhattan to reach Wythe Hotel in the funky neighbourhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but we didn't regret the commute once the sun started to set. Our room looked toward Manhattan, and through floor-to-ceiling windows we gazed in awe at the evening sky ablaze in pink and purple hues with the Freedom Tower, Rockefeller Center and other familiar landmarks visible in the distance. Visitors don't just come here for the sunsets, though.

Location: Brooklyn; New York;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

'Nothing is complicated on this island'

Dreamers wistful for the first Gilded Age and curious about the current one can plunk down some considerable loot and book into the resplendently restored Fisher Island Club Hotel (once a Vanderbilt vacation home) located on a private island just minutes from Miami Beach.

Location: Florida; Miami;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ski up to the bar at the Alps' new hot spot

There are small villages in the Swiss alps that are quiet, unassuming witnesses to the grandeur that surrounds them, where the few hundred inhabitants are as likely to ski to work as they are to swoosh down a piste. And perhaps Verbier was once one of them. But with the world's first W ski resort's opening in December, the town is most certainly one no longer. This is an international hot spot, up there with its Teutonic neighbours Gstaad, Zermatt, Andermatt and Davos. If you like that kind of thing, as I do, it may be time to go.

Location: Switzerland; Verbier;

Subject: hotels; review; skiing; tourism; travel

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Coco Chanel's refashioned escape

It was at the Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel, on the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland, that Coco Chanel used to settle in for months at a time, so smitten was she with the view of Evian-les-Bains, France, across the water. So it's perhaps no surprise that another icon of design is now rethinking vast swaths of this Swiss national historic landmark. Following a years-long renovation of its public spaces, last month the 152-year-old hotel unveiled two floors of rooms and suites - another two follow next spring - reimagined by Pierre Yves Rochon, whose earlier remakes include London's Savoy, Paris's George V and the 16th-century palazzo that's now the Four Seasons Florence.

Location: Lausanne; Switzerland;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

Can a good camera make you a great photographer? Likely not. But if you're decent, surely kicking it up a notch can't hurt. I manage well with my point-and-shoot, so I was curious to try Canon's EOS Rebel SL1, a beginner DLSR (or digital single-lens reflex camera). I'm no expert - but I figured that's exactly what made me the perfect guinea pig.

Subject: cameras; review; travel

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Parisian hideaway fit for a future king

In French, Prince de Galles refers to Britain's Prince of Wales. That, in light of the recent addition to the Royal Family, makes the reopening of this 84-year-old hotel particularly apt. The hotel sits immediately beside the Four Seasons Hotel George V. But if the Prince de Galles might have once appeared to exist in the George V's shadow, this is no longer the case. Post-makeover, the hotel commands a lustre all its own. As part of Starwood's Luxury Collection, it is a gem within a city of precious jewel properties.

Location: Paris;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

I've got a love/hate relationship with travel pillows. They're essential on long-haul trips if I want to sleep without drooling all over myself. And yet they're so unwieldy and ugly, I resent having to pack one. Cabeau's Evolution Pillow, however, changed my inflight life.

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Luxury and silence await at this remote island escape

Cruising the hundreds of emerald islands and islets in the Gulf of Chiriqui, off the Pacific coast of Panama, is like tapping into virtually unchartered territory. Panama is fast becoming one of the truly hot travel destinations in Central America, and because tourism is still in its infancy, opportunities to escape into untouched wilds abound. A good place to start your adventure is the newly built Resort At Isla Palenque, a luxury eco hideaway perched on the rocky outpost of a tropical 162-hectare island in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Here you'll find lush jungle, picture-postcard beaches and endless flora and fauna.

Location: Gulf of Chiriqui; Panama;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Divide and conquer your toiletries

The Flip-top Toiletry Case by Lug, a Canadian company, promises to help keep your cosmetics and other must-haves in order when you're on the road, and do it stylishly.

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A pot of tea, a book and vistas aplenty

Victoria, it's said, is more English than the English, which we all know isn't true, but when crossing the tweed curtain into the tony seaside enclave of Oak Bay, you get the point.

Location: British Columbia; Victoria;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Saturday, December 28, 2013

It takes all kinds to travel this world

The Leaving on a High Note Award... goes to the female passenger on an American Airlines service from Los Angeles to New York who insisted on warbling Whitney Houston songs at the top of her lungs. Fellow passengers were left fondly recalling those flights where babies scream their heads off while the plane was diverted to Kansas City to deal with what authorities later called a ''very unruly passenger.'' Restrained and cuffed by an onboard air marshal, the karaoke queen was escorted through the airport by two grim-faced officers - whilst belting out her hackle-raising rendition of I Will Always Love You.

Subject: news reviews; tourism; travel

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The airport terminal as art

In the Great Hall of LAX's new Tom Bradley International Terminal, time dances - literally - on a giant clocktower.Every hour on the hour, the Time Tower, a four-sided, 22-metre screen plays Dance Time, a Busby Berkeley-esque dance number in which the legs of smiling showgirls create a fleshy kaleidoscope inside the clock's whirring gears. It's a startling visual interpretation of a travel truth: Our heightened awareness of being on a schedule - of minutes ticking by, carefully monitored and measured - co-opts our perception of time itself.

Location: Los Angeles;

Subject: air travel; airports; hospitality industry; review

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's like sleeping in a decor mag

Within an hour of arriving at Dorset Square, one of the short-stay properties managed by London-based onefinestay, I unpack, down a cup of tea, consult a neighbourhood restaurant guide and get trapped in the building's tiny elevator.

Location: Great Britain; London;

Subject: accommodation; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

Most people do not need an underwater camera. But it is sure nice to be able to snap pics of fish while you are snorkelling and pics of friends horsing around in the waves. In the past, most folks were stuck buying those disposable numbers, which always yielded disappointing shots (that you actually had to pay to develop and see). So what of the new digital generation? The 16-megapixel Nikon Coolpix AW110 is waterproof up to 18 metres, shockproof up to two metres and features built-in WiFi connectivity. Definitely a step up.

Subject: accessories; cameras; review; travel

Saturday, December 14, 2013

After the quake newfound luxury

Haiti is perhaps the one part of the Caribbean Canadians do not think of as a travel spot, but that could change: one hotel at a time. The first is the year-old Royal Oasis. It's part of the Occidental chain, and the first luxury hotel to open in Haiti since well before the earthquake.

Location: Haiti;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

Have you ever been packing for a trip and thought to yourself, ''Gee, I wish I could just roll up all my stuff into a tube and sling it over my shoulder.'' No? Me neither. But Australians Jeremy Grey and Jon Gourlay, ''frustrated with the lack of products available for transporting business wear,'' came up with the Wingman bag, which allows travellers to do just that.

Subject: accessories; review; travel

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chicago's modernist five-star gem

Mashups are fraught with risk. You can certainly integrate Chinese dishes into a Japanese menu, but media giants AOL and Time-Warner? Not so much. So imagine the $280-million bet London's venerable (somewhat stodgy) Langham brand placed on a modernist gem of a building in the heart of downtown Chicago. Would this property - which already has four North American branches, including the Eaton Chelsea in Toronto - be able to go head-to-head with the Windy City's five other world-class hotels?

Location: Chicago;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

GEAR / GLOBE TESTED

Entrusting one's precious smartphone to a waterproof case is a terrifying leap of faith. (I bought one for a trip to Grenada a couple of years ago but chickened out at the last second.) But that beach trip/canoe ride/what have you is supposed to be spent relaxing - not fretting about spray getting on your screen. The E-Case eSeries 8 aims to alleviate your fears, keeping some iPhones and BlackBerrys safe and usable even when submersed in up to one metre of water.

Subject: accessories; cellular telephones; review; travel

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A butler that will do absolutely anything? Yes, please

The British are experts at creating a dramatic setting, even when that place is the headquarters for an insurance company built in 1914, which explains the original imposing belle epoque architecture, magnificent grand staircase, rare green Swedish marble and the intimate courtyard entrance way. Insurance is all about stability, wealth and confidence, after all. Add an investment of about $140-million, and you're stepping into a forgotten time of grandeur and elegance. Jeeves, my Glenmorangie, please.

Location: Great Britain; London;

Subject: hotels; review; tourism; travel

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