Monthly Archives: June 2017

New York’s Best Kept Secrets

New York, New York, it’s a heck of a town… We asked our personal travel managers to share some of their best-kept secrets hidden within this incredible city. Here are seven to keep you busy during your next visit.

  • Hidden Subway Station at City Hall

New York’s first ever subway station, City Hall, is buried underneath the city’s oldest government building and has been inactive since 1945 due to infrastructural shortfalls for transporting passengers. It’s well worth venturing down to the station’s platform to admire its elegant and breathtaking design. Where: City Hall Park, Civic Center Area of Lower Manhattan, NY 10007

  • Secret gardens of Rockefeller Center

Most locals and tourists have stopped by Rockefeller Center to gaze over the city, shop, dine, and ice-skate during winter. However few have journeyed up to its rooftop gardens. Majestic in their unexpected tranquillity, the secret gardens are the perfect place to take a time out from the buzzing streets below and breathe in a fresh, new perspective. Where: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, NY 10111

  • Hidden Waterfall at Greenacre Park

This pocket park in Midtown East has leafy corners, fragrant flowers and an enchanting, tumbling 25-foot-high waterfall. The appeal of this park is its incongruity, wedged between looming buildings. The park was created by the Greenacre Foundation to provide New Yorkers with “some moments of serenity in this busy world”, and “Project for Public Spaces” lists it as one of the best parks in the world. Where: 217 E 51st St, NY 10022

  • Miniature Fairy Doors

If you stop and look down while waiting to cross the street you may notice tiny fairy doors alongside the bases of lampposts, signs, window ledges and brick walls. These quaint little creations are crowd sourced art installations designed by fans of the renowned performance artist, Cynthia von Buhler. Most contain a tiny QR code located in the peephole, which when scanned lead you to Buhler’s Speakeasy Dollhouse project. Where: scattered throughout the New York City

  • Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal

A little known feature hidden within the Grand Central Terminal is the Whispering Gallery. The unusual design of the walls allows sound to travel across the domed ceiling, so that two people standing at diagonal arches can hear each other’s whispers. Where: 89 E 42nd St, NY 10017

  • Remnants of the Berlin Wall

Subtly installed alongside a courtyard in Midtown East, lies a piece of the Berlin Wall. This 12-foot high, 20-foot long historic remnant has been transformed into a work of art by German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny. It includes five original concrete slabs of the wall that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Where: Parley Park, 3 E 53rd Street, NY 10022

  • Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island

Resting on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island located in the middle of the East River lays remnants of a Gothic Revival structure, the Smallpox Hospital. Originally constructed for the treatment of smallpox, this architectural gem was eventually abandoned in the 1950s. It is now a picturesque ruin where visitors can take a step back in time and witness the beautiful edifice in its naturally aged state. Where: Southern tip of Roosevelt Island, east of Manhattan Island, NY

Tips to Camping in Style

In recent years glamping, short for ‘glamorous camping’, has skyrocketed in popularity. This trend has been driven by an increasing desire for travellers to seek natural and unique experiences without sacrificing comfort. A wealth of boutique glamping spots have sprung up across Australia in recent years, making for a great stop on a self-drive holiday. You can even ‘DIY glamp’ provided you know the tricks of the trade. To satisfy a yearning for both the great outdoors and the finer things in life, we’ve compiled tips from our network of personal travel managers to help you to glamp in style.

  • Embrace the notion of a campervan

A king bed, fully operational kitchen and a hot shower at the end of the day can make a world of difference to your camping trip. Not just for retirees or backpackers, campervans can be tailored to suit your individual needs, with luxury and budget options available.

  • Comfort is key

The quintessential symbol of relaxation is the humble hammock. Consider bringing along a basic hammock, which can easily be strung up between two trees providing hours of tranquility and ambience for your campsite. Other easy-to-pack luxuries include an outdoor area rug, full sized pillows and a blow-up mattress.

  • Wine and dine your way to glamping heaven

Baked beans and trail mix don’t have to be staples on your glamping diet. With a little preparation, fresh bread, cool drinks, crisp potatoes and even lasagna can be at your fingertips if you pack a two burner camping stove and 12V car fridge. Remember to pack your favourite bottle wine and some glasses, and you’ll be saying ‘cheers’ to the outdoors in no time.

  • Lighting

Sometimes the moonlight just doesn’t cut it. A spotlight is the practical option to keep you from walking into every object in your campsite at night, but why not try fairy lights instead? They look beautiful under the night sky and if you’re travelling with kids they’ll love them too. Just make sure you choose a campsite that has power outlets.

  • Plan your entertainment

You can only sing Kumbaya so many times around the campfire. Don’t forget your iPod and some portable speakers for some decent tunes. It’s also wise to pack some classic entertainment like cards, board games and that novel you’ve been trying to finish.

  • A good night’s sleep

The holy grail of camping is a good night’s sleep. If you’re not opting for a campervan, start with the basics such as a plush inflatable mattress and weather appropriate sleeping bag. Take your snoozing to the next level by packing your favourite sheets, blankets and pillows to make sleep time that little more pleasant.

Unique Hotels Around the World

It’s easy to get fixed upon the usual considerations when booking accommodation; affordability, comfort and location are all important factors. However, sometimes it’s worth branching out a little and investing in a hotel which offers something outside the square. From unusual to eye-popping, here is our roundup of five of the most unique hotels around the world.

  • IceHotel, Sweden

Sweden’s IceHotel, nestled in the small village of Jukkasjarvi, is made of natural ice and snow from one of Europe’s last wild rivers, the Torne River, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. Each winter, its hallways are lined with ice art, flittering chandeliers drip with icicles and an atmospheric ice bar is frozen at a constant -5°C. You can also ‘sleep on the ice’, tucked up within plenty of warm bedding. Beyond the hotel, chase the Northern Lights, and try husky-sledding and snowmobiling. Naturally, the hotel melts and returns to Mother Nature in spring, but it will pop up again the following winter.

  • The Manta Resort, Zanzibar

If you enjoy five-star luxury, tropical islands and close encounters with nature, then The Manta Resort on Pemba Island in Zanzibar is an ideal destination for you. Sleep surrounded by tropical fish four meters below the surface on a private floating multi-deck island; sunbathe and stargaze on the top deck; or pack your snorkel gear and a picnic for a half day boat excursion down to the picturesque islands of Njao or Fundo.

  • Äscher Cliff Hotel, Switzerland

Hidden in the far reaches of the Swiss Alps, this 170-year-old hotel is built into the side of a cliff-face, and can only be accessed by a combination of cable car and hiking. Meaning Mountain-Guesthouse, the Swiss call this hilly escape ‘Berggasthaus’. While the facilities of the hotel are humble, the view is unmatched and well worth the hike, with unfettered vistas of the Appenzell hill-landscape, Sankt Gall, Thurgau and Lake Constance. Ascher Hotel is open from 1st May until 1st November each year.

  • Montana Magica Lodge, Chile

Deep within the southern Andes is an exotic volcano-like structure, embellished with moss and vines. This is Chile’s Montana Magica Lodge, and it comes with its own lava-like waterfall which ‘erupts’ each day. Sitting within 300,000 acres of private nature reserve, the intimate 13-room hotel is only accessible by foot and guests must first bridge a gap via a swinging rope to enter. While you’re there, fly through the Patagonian rainforest via the longest zip line in South America and relax in hot tubs carved from tree trunks.

  • Hotel Whitepod, Switzerland

Hotel Whitepod offers the best of eco-tourism and luxury travel. Perched more than 1,700km above sea level in the Swiss Alps, Whitepod hosts 30 guests in high-tech tents (or pods), separated by wooden platforms. The environmental footprint of this snowy accommodation may be low, but the opportunity for indulgence is high, with luxury furnishings, wood-burning stoves, private ski runs, forest walking tracks, sundecks and a sauna at hand. The hotel is open year-round, so you can be flexible when timing your visit.

Tips For Travelling With Teenagers

As your kids leave their tweens and enter their teens, travelling together may require a different approach in order for the entire family to stay sane while travelling. Our personal travel managers have put together a list of helpful tips to ensure your teenagers are as excited about your next holiday as you are.

  1. Involve them in the planning process

Although some teenagers may respond with the iconic “whatever”, it’s important to give them the reins in some way. Discuss the destination with them or have them choose the activities for a day. This not only teaches teenagers about compromise, but also the more involved they are, the more enthusiastic and engaged they’ll be.

  1. Choose accommodation wisely

If your budget allows, try to give your teenager some privacy when holidaying together. This may mean more than one tent, or separate hotel rooms.

  1. Let them pack their own bags

Giving your teenager the opportunity to pack his or her own bags is a great way to teach accountability and help them feel more independent. So long as the weight restriction isn’t exceeded, understanding how to pack efficiently, and carrying around what you’ve packed, is a great learning experience.

  1. Fuel their adrenalin

When planning your holiday, aim to include some activities that will release some of their energy and fuel their adrenaline. Depending on their age, jet boating, scuba diving or zip lining are all great ways for the whole family to experience something new, while involving the teens in something they can brag about to their friends.

  1. Accept the smart phone, but take action to avoid ‘roaming’ fees

It can be frustrating always seeing your teenager looking down at a screen, particularly when there’s something more exciting going on in real life. However, if asking them to leave their electronics at home doesn’t work, you can compromise on periods of time when screen time is acceptable. For gamers, work with them to come up with times like these that suit everyone. As well as this, be sure to turn off all roaming and international services, only connect to trusted hotel Wi-Fi networks or even purchase a local SIM card. After all, they’ll never ditch the digital world entirely.

  1. Take time to relax

Sleeping in seems to be a prerequisite of becoming a teenager. If possible, avoid activities really early in the morning, and let them have a little sleep in every now and then. Depending on their age and where you’re visiting, letting your teen stay back in the hotel while you explore lets them (and you) have a bit ‘me time’.