Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrate Victory Day in Malta: Travel Blog plus 2 more

Celebrate Victory Day in Malta: Travel Blog plus 2 more

Link to Travel Blog

Celebrate Victory Day in Malta

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 08:34 PM PST

Racing, Regattas and Religious Events

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, just south of Italy, Malta attracts crowds of tourists every year looking to indulge in the island's idyllic weather, crystal clear waters, vibrant nightlife and dining. While an abundance of Mediterranean restaurants and Malta bars guarantees a relaxing retreat, many travellers are now searching for something more, craving novel experiences and exciting events. Victoria Day, known locally as Il Vitorja, is the perfect antidote to these travelling woes. Transforming the Maltese islands into a thriving hub of historical celebrations, religious events and a competitive regatta, a trip to Malta during Victory Day will offer a travelling experience like no other.

Held annually on the 8th of September, Victory day stands as one of the most important national holidays in Malta. With its dedication to the feast of the Virgin Mary, the Great Siege of Malta (1565) and the Italian navy's surrender of Malta (1943), there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! In small towns and villages such as Senglea, Naxxar, Mellieha, Xaghra and Gozo, church services, speeches and military bands are all dedicated to the festival, extolling a sense of pride around the Maltese islands.

In jubilant celebration, Malta hosts a series of exciting cultural events which travellers can participate in to embrace the local history of the island. In the morning, wreaths are laid upon the Fort of St Angelos in Bigu. Lying at the heart of the Maltese people, this Roman fortification played a central role in Malta's victory during the Great Seige. However, the most prominent event undoubtedly takes place in the afternoon – the enthralling regatta race. Commencing at around 2pm, this colourful boating event draws crowds of buzzing spectators to the Grand Harbour each year. Dating back to 1642, this event oversees six neighbouring towns compete in a mile long race from Marsa to Valetta, Malta's capital city.

At night, the Valetta waterfront transforms into a lively centre of activity. Victory Day revellers can enjoy an extensive program of music, theatre and the arts, breathing new life into Valetta's Manoel Theatre and St James Cavalier art centre.

With this plethora of cultural events spreading across the Maltese islands, finding accommodation here won’t be a problem. Situated in the Xaghra village, abundant with Victory Day festivities, are Abraham's farmhouses boasting a dazzling array of their own amenities. However, those looking for Malta accommodation with a more lavish feel may prefer the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz. Situated in Gozo, the Kempinski Hotel boasts its own seclusion whilst remaining suitably close to the core of the Victory Day action.

With racing, a regatta, historical and religious events, what more could you need for a truly unique and unforgettable travel experience than Malta?

The Leading Hotels of the World

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 07:39 PM PST

The Leading Hotels of the

The Leading Hotels of the World is the prestigious luxury hospitality organisation representing over 430 of the world’s finest hotels, resorts and spas.
The Leading Hotels of the World

Travel Directory: The Leading Hotels of the World

Luxury Holiday in Barbados

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 01:44 AM PST

The opportunity to spend a luxury holiday in Barbados may not be on the list of possibilities for every vacation that you plan, but it should definitely be a contender. Who can resist 70 miles of pure azure wet terrain in the form of 60 beaches on display in perfect subtropical weather? Barbados is located in the western area of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is east of the Caribbean Sea. Once regarded as territory owned by the Portuguese, then English, and finally British, Barbados became an independent nation in 1966. It is now one of the Caribbean’s leading tourist destinations with a population of around 250,000.

What attracts us to a location such as Barbados? Besides the obvious, it is rich in culture and heritage. Some of the historical sites that may draw your attention are the Barbados Museum, Blackman’s Gully and the Arlington House. The Arlington House is a three story interactive museum that resides in a renovated 18th century building. The Barbados Museum is enclosed in a former British Military prison and has been since 1930. It exhibits rare historical maps, artifacts, 18th century plantation furniture, the coral structure of Barbados and a Children's Gallery. Blackman’s Gully, located on the east coast, is the home of the famed Blackman's Bridge. It is a part of a series of gullies that are essential to the ecosystem.

Once you’ve exhausted yourselves sightseeing and participating in sunken ship expeditions, snorkeling, diving, music festivals, and other arts and entertainment, you can always find rest and relaxation in the luxurious hotels that Barbados has to offer. Sandy Lane Barbados has a vast array of accommodations for the most discerning guest. Villas, penthouses, and suites offer beautifully designed interiors. These include bedrooms, foyers, living rooms, bathrooms and outside spaces such as terraces, balconies, patio dining and exquisite gardens. Dedicated and well trained staff are also available.

Golf aficionados and beginners have three courses to choose from. Other guests may choose to make use of the luxurious spa with a beautiful marble reception area, treatment suites, water therapies, fitness facilities and highly trained therapists. If you’re feeling a little hungry or a lot, there are four restaurants with cuisine from around the world to experience. Let’s not forget the younger generation. Sandy Lane also has the Treehouse Club for your kid’s creativity and pleasure.

The Coral Reef Club Barbados is also a spectacular specimen of Barbadian hospitality. Surrounded by 12 acres of luscious manicured gardens and boasting 88 rooms and suites, it is definitely a hotel to consider. Accommodations include spacious interiors, Egyptian cotton linens and feather beds. In larger suites such as the Luxury Plantation Suite, four poster or canopied beds are available, as well as living rooms, dressing areas, covered terraces, open sundecks, pools, complimentary starter bars and much, much more. Don’t forget as you take your body and mind to the next level of extreme rejuvenation to try the very popular rum punch. After all, rum was born and bred in Barbados.



Rustic Modern Retreats: 12 Earthy Hotels, Homes & Barns

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 10:00 AM PST

[ By Steph in Art & Design, Geography & Travel, Home & Garden. ]

Modern design needn’t be relegated to urban areas, and likewise, rustic touches can bring the charm of nature into the most metropolitan of city penthouses. But when the two styles meet, it’s like design alchemy: all of the various elements fuse into a cohesive whole that is warm, contemporary, grounded in nature and steeped with a sense of history.

Vorstadt 14 Hotel, Switzerland

(images via: remodelista)

Contrasting shades of wood against bare concrete and white walls give the top-floor suite – one of just three in the whole hotel – a warm and rustic feel at Vorstadt 14, contained within a 15th-century building in Zug, Switzerland. The bottom two suites, called FACE and BRAIN, are minimalist while this penthouse – SOUL – has a decidedly natural feel. Thick, hefty, weathered wooden beams support the ceiling above a stack of old books and a midcentury modern sofa stands out against a wall of stacked firewood. Lots of daylight makes the suite feel bright and fresh.

Forested Home in Rural Utah

(images via: bcj architects)

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects bring modern design deep into woods and mountains for everything from tiny cabins to large luxurious getaways, including the Farrar Residence in Park City, Utah. Two rectangular wings intersect at a living room with stunning views of the alpine landscape, one wing containing a beautiful indoor pool that terminates in a glass wall and cantilevers over a natural creek.

Connecticut Rustic Modern Cabin on Stilts

(images via: bcj)

Made as a forest retreat for architect Peter Bohlin’s parents, this small summer home in shades of green is camouflaged within the evergreen forest that surrounds it. The home was placed on stilts to accommodate the boulders upon which it is sited. "There is great pleasure in modest means: the shimmering green tapestry of the forest seen through red industrial glazing; the poignancy of an operating sash with its subtle gray insect screen floating in the window wall; the rippling profile of an aluminum corrugated roof," say the architects.

Tilty Hill Barn, Essex, UK

(images via: remodelista)

Once an 18th-century Dutch barn, this incredible modern home conversion still has all the rustic charm of its Essex farmland location but with all the clean, bright airiness of 21st century design. The original wooden beams provide an irresistible focal point in the wide open interior space, which is largely walled with glass so that occupants can look out the horses in the courtyard.

V-Houses, Mexico

(images via: archdaily)

The eco-friendly platform suites at the Verana Hotel near the fishing village of Yelapa, Mexico rise above the canopy of the surrounding jungle on metal poles extending from tiny concrete platforms. Connected by a wooden walkway and open to the breeze, these 3 steel and plywood V-Houses have a far more modern aesthetic than most jungle digs but maintain a strong connection to their natural surroundings.

Modular Underground Forest Home

(images via: dornob)

An attempt to disturb the ecosystem of the site as little as possible led to an astonishingly creative rural home that is partially underground, seeming to emerge from an adjacent hill. Architects FGMF created a structural grid, filling in some areas for interior spaces and leaving others either completely open or simple platforms for open-air lounging. This grid-based design will make it easy to add on additional rooms or structures in the future.

Harrison Architects Garage

(images via: remodelista)

A green roof, lots of translucent panels and a swinging alternative to a garage door make this workspace in Washington State stand out. Where most garages are purely utilitarian – and often either extremely rustic or industrial in looks – this one by Seattle-based Harrison Architects is almost pretty enough to be a residence. The clear panels let in lots of daylight, recycled newspaper insulation regulates the indoor temperature and the green roof keeps it cool. Inside, a workbench was made from wood reclaimed from an old bowling alley.

Barn-Like Vacation Home, Amagansett, New York

(images via: remodelista)

Salvaged timber infuses a wide-open New York vacation home with a sense of history, giving it a barn-like feel that is nevertheless elegant and modern. Clean, simple lines complement the rawness of the wood and playful contemporary touches like the hanging bed and glass bubble chandelier add interest.

Chicken Point Cabin, Northern Idaho

(images via:

"The idea for the cabin is that of a lakeside shelter in the woods―a little box with a big window that opens to the surrounding landscape," says architecture firm Olson Kundig Architects of Chicken Point Cabin in Northern Idaho. The cabin has a massive wall of windows measuring 30 by 20 feet that opens like a garage door, exposing the living space to the wilderness. The chosen materials, including plywood, concrete and steel, were left unfinished to age naturally "and acquire a patina that fits in with the natural setting."

Minimalist Mountain Home by Studio Granda

(images via: studiogranda)

With an aged and rustic look but a clearly modern design, this home by Studio Granda keeps up with the times while still blending in well with its beautiful natural surroundings. The staggered height of the buildings mimics the undulating hills, while the green roof ties into the lush grass. The interior continues the rustic modern theme with silvery cedar and heavy wood beams contrasted against bare concrete and matte steel.

Dramatic Hilltop House by OSKA

(images via: oska)

Designing a home in an unspoiled setting, architecture firm OSKA wanted an end result that was pleasing to the eye, functional and reflective of the coastal hills in which it is located. Using concrete and steel that will take on a weathered patina over time, OSKA incorporated sweeping angles into this dramatic home that not only make the home more visually engaging, but help keep the house cool in a hot climate.

Lake House by Hutchinson & Maul

(images via: contemporist)

With a shape reminiscent of a beached boat house on stilts, this guest house and retreat on a lake in Washington State had to complement the main house located up the hill, but retain an identity of its own. The unusual shape provides a large deck, a sunny lounging room, a cool shady space and a covered alcove that leads to a changing room. The metal cladding on the exterior was allowed to rust, giving it an earthy feel.

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