On August 24, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Villas of Grand Cypress is located on 1,500 acres in Orlando. It’s just a few minutes away from Walt Disney World, but its tucked-away location makes it seem sealed off from the crowds that descend on the hectic amusement park. A sizeable chunk of the property is reserved for 45 holes of golf, all designed by Jack Nicklaus, and each guest room is within easy walking distance of the fairway. Turning onto the cypress-lined driveway, you can’t help but feel like you are checking in to a Mediterranean-style golf resort — a feeling that’s reinforced once you see the stucco buildings.
Head to Villas of Grand Cypress for both recreation and relaxation. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend spending some time on the golf course and then treating yourself to a thick ribeye or Key West yellowtail snapper at NINE18, the resort’s dinner-only restaurant.
On July 22, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Sleepy Anguilla is not much of a shopping destination—your best bet for finding a worthwhile souvenir to bring home is at one of the art galleries or local artists’ shops. From wood and coral carvings to beautiful paintings, you’ll find something to remember your trip to Anguilla. With the arrival of luxury resorts to the island, though, you may find some treasures by browsing your hotel’s boutique. At Viceroy Anguilla, the onsite boutique includes everything from stylish beachwear to objets d’art found at the resort, which was designed by interior designer Kelly Wearstler. If art isn’t for you, seashells always make a great memento. And what better way to collect seashells than on some of the most gorgeous beaches in the Caribbean.
On July 22, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Getting to Anguilla can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time visiting the area. As the island is rather small — only 35 square miles — you won’t see any 747s landing here, or really anything much bigger than a prop plane. In fact, there are no direct flights from the U.S.—chances are, unless you are coming from a neighboring island, you’ll have to unload your luggage from that jet and hop into a puddle jumper.
One of the easiest ways to get to Anguilla is by flying into St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport (on the Dutch side of the island) and boarding the ferry at Marigot Bay (on the French side of the island). You’ll arrive at Blowing Point on Anguilla 45 minutes later. The ferry is small — carrying about 20 passengers — but offers refreshments and costs just $15 each way, plus a $5 departure tax.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Monte Carlo is a 30-minute drive from both Nice and Italy, and you will taste how the city is influenced by both French and Italian cuisine. But great food experiences in Monte Carlo are defined not so much by any specific regional foods, but from the settings in which meals take place. From star-studded eateries to restaurants serving up some regional fare, there are plenty of great food experiences to be had. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks of the five best Monte Carlo food experiences:
1. An elegant dining room. Since the rich and famous often flock to Monte Carlo, the city is filled with elegant dining rooms where you can rub elbows with A-listers. Our favorite is Le Louis XV — a Monte-Carlo must. Come here for the traditional cuisine, and stay for the luxurious ambience.
2. A sidewalk cafe. There are few better ways to soak in the French Riviera than by watching the day pass by from a sidewalk café. Try Café de Paris, where you can grab a seat on the terrace and savor the seasonal and classic French dishes. Though most tourists know about this hotspot, it’s still a must-do in Monte Carlo. You can eat here day or night — Café de Paris is open until 2 a.m.
3. Dining along the yachts. Monte Carlo is almost always lined with yachts, and we love taking in the glamour while we dine. Stars ‘N’ Bars is a great place to do this. The sports bar — done with an international twist, of course — serves up dishes like sushi and burgers. It’s a legendary bar on the waterfront at Port Hercule, where you can watch mega yachts pull into the harbor from the Star Deck.
4. Visit a celebrity chef restaurant. Both Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse have restaurants in Monte Carlo. Visit Le Grill, one of Alain Ducasse’s outposts, in the summer when the roof slides back and the irresistible Mediterranean sun shines down on the dining room. You’ll enjoy Mediterranean-style gourmet cuisine with a view that will make your jaw drop.
5. Relaxed dining by the race tracks. Every visitor should spend an afternoon at La Rascasse to get a taste of Monte Carlo. Sitting on the famous bend on the Monaco Grand Prix course, it’s a great place to go for an afternoon bite.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:If you’re looking for glamorous nightlife, Monte Carlo is the place for you. After all, it’s where the rich and famous go to play. With parties running until the wee hours of the morning, be ready for all-night partying on the VIP level.
Of course, you can spend your night at the world-famous Casino de Monte-Carlo, where you’ll be gambling next to high rollers from around the world. With everything from roulette and slots to blackjack and craps, this beautiful casino has a game for everyone.
Legendary Monte Carlo hotspot Jimmy’z is the place to be on the French Riviera. It doesn’t open until 11:30 p.m., and the serious partiers don’t show up until well after 2 a.m. Located at Le Sporting Monte-Carlo, Jimmy’z flaunts a dance floor with music from DJs spinning all night long. It’s a well-known place for the celebrity set.
The Monte Carlo outpost of Buddha Bar is just as exhilarating as its counterparts. Set within an early-20th-century concert hall, Buddha Bar Monte Carlo is exotic and intriguing. The first thing you’ll see is a giant Buddha statue; and when the music gets pumping, so does the rest of the bar. The East-meets-West style is trendy and exclusive.
Perhaps surprisingly, Monte Carlo is a great spot for live music. Venues like Moods and Black Legend attract bands from all over the world. While the crowd is a bit older at these spots, the young flock to the venues around 3 a.m.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Considering that Monte Carlo is just 30 minutes from both Nice and Italy, it makes for an easy day trip.
Begin your day with a visit to the State Apartments at the Prince’s Palace, which is built on the site of a fortress that dates back to the 13th century. Though the palace is the private residence of Prince Albert II, the State Apartments are open to the public and worth a visit. Like many palaces, this one reads like a museum — with gorgeous art adorning the already grand rooms. You’ll see a big piece of Monaco’s history.
After strolling through the State Apartments, head to a café for lunch. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest making your way down to the yacht-filled harbor and grabbing a seat at one of the many terraces and settling in for some Monegasque specialties. And if you’re visiting during the summer, make a trip to Larvotto Beach, which is Monaco’s only public beach.
With a full stomach, make your way up to the Oceanographic Museum, where you’ll find an aquarium as well as artifacts from Prince Albert I’s numerous expeditions. Whether you’ve brought the kids with you or not, this is a great spot to get out of the sun (Monaco averages 300 days of sun per year) and explore another side of the principality’s history.
If you plan to stay for dinner, make a reservation at Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse. Recently celebrating its 25th anniversary, this world-famous restaurant is located inside the even more famous Hôtel de Paris.
Following your gastronomic experience at dinner, head to the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo. Gambler or not, a trip to this casino is a must when visiting Monte Carlo. The glamorous casino is always full of celebrities and royalty.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Monte Carlo is a playground for the rich and famous, but the luxe destination on the French Riviera has something for kids, too. From exploring the renowned Oceanographic Museum to checking out Prince Rainier III’s vintage car collection, your kids will have plenty to explore. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks of the five best things to do with kids in Monte Carlo:
1. The Oceanographic Museum. The 1901 building that houses the Oceanographic Museum in nearby Monaco-Ville towers cliffside above the Mediterranean Sea. Your kids will love exploring the 90 pools of rare Mediterranean and tropical species and visiting the Shark Lagoon — it has bright, colorful fish on one side of a coral reef and predators on the other.
2. The beach. Larvotto Beach, Monaco’s only public beach, is a great place to take the little ones. Set in front of Avenue Princess Grace, the popular beach features a playground and calm waters for swimming or snorkeling. A lifeguard is on duty in July and August to ensure a safe beach day.
3. Classic cars. Prince Rainier III’s classic car collection will impress both you and your kids. Located in the Fontvieille district, the Monaco Top Cars Collection is home to all sorts of beauties — everything from sports cars to horse-drawn carriages. Around 100 vehicles are on display from names like Ford, Maserati and Rolls Royce.
4. Exotic Gardens. Your children may not be budding botanists, but the Exotic Gardens are interesting for just about everyone. It’s a lovely display of stalactites and cacti in a glorious setting overlooking the French Riviera. Your kids might think looking at a bunch of plants is a snooze but there’s cave at the bottom that you can tour that they’ll find cool. Be sure to also visit the Anthropology Museum within the gardens to learn a little more about the archeological side of things.
5. Zoological Gardens. Though not one of the larger zoos we’ve seen, these gardens are a fun activity for kids. Founded in 1954 by Prince Rainier III, the zoo is home to approximately 50 different species like exotic birds, primates, hippopotamus and black panthers.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:One of the best day trips from the island of Venice involves exploring other islands in the Venetian lagoon. We especially love the colorful fisherman's island of Burano, where the buildings are painted in bright colors, making it a delight for the eyes and a haven for photographers and artists. Burano is also where you can buy handmade lace and taste excellent seafood. Torcello, where Venice actually got its start, has a fascinating 7th-century cathedral with gorgeous 11th- and 12th-century mosaics; and Murano is great for seeing glassmakers handcraft exquisite chandeliers, sculptures and jewelry.
Further afield, the city of Padua is well worth a stop for its gorgeous Scrovegni Chapel, home to stunning frescoes done by Renaissance master Giotto in the early 14th century. It's just a half an hour on the train from Venice. Verona, located an hour from Venice, is known around the world as being the setting for William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. However, there's much more to the city than its literary history, including beautiful palaces, medieval churches, ancient ruins, a castle and one of the most breathtaking cityscapes in all of Italy.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:The best thing to bring home from Venice is a handcrafted good. Most Murano glass sold on the island of Venice isn't actually handmade or from Murano, so make sure that what you buy is the real deal by looking for the "Vetro Murano Artistico" trademark decal that authentic sellers put in their shop windows. You can also buy handmade lace goods — everything from baby booties and table linens. The best place to buy them is on the island of Burano, which is known for its lace-making. A handcrafted Venetian mask is also a gorgeous gift. If you liked the mosaics at St. Mark's Basilica, you might want to take home one of your own. The store Mosaico!, in Santa Croce, sells handcrafts and shimmering mosaics in every style. Finally, even though you can't take home a full-sized gondola from Venice, you can buy a miniature model of a gondola (or of another boat) from Gilberto Penzo, a model boat maker in San Polo.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Venice is known for its food, so you’ll have no problem finding delicious cuisine. Here, according to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, are the five best food experiences in Venice:
1. Cicchetti. Kind of like tapas, cicchetti (pronounced "chee-KEHT-eeh") are small plates of food, eaten alongside a glass of wine. Usually consumed at lunchtime or in the evening (before 9 p.m.), they're either a delicious pre-dinner aperitivo or a stand-in for dinner itself, depending on how many nibbles you order. Cicchetti can be anything from fish to meat, mini-sandwiches to fried offerings. The tradition of indulging in them — preferably at a local wine bar — is as Venetian as you can get.
2. Sardee in saor. In Venetian dialect, this means "sour sardines." If that sounds strange, so does the recipe: sweet and sour sardines are combined with pickled onions, pine nuts and raisins. But the plate is delicious and thoroughly Venetian.
3. Risi e bisi. This dish used to be offered to the Doge family on St. Mark's Feast Day. Today, you can get it at almost any restaurant in Venice. A soupy dish of rice and peas, it's stick-to-your-ribs delicious.
4. Vermicelli al nero di sepia. Cuttlefish ink is used a lot in Venetian cuisine. Sometimes it's served with risotto, sometimes with the fish itself…and sometimes on vermicelli, which are long, thin noodles.
5. Carpaccio. Invented here in Venice by Harry's Bar, carpaccio is raw, thinly sliced meat served with a sauce of mustard, cream, tomato and mayonnaise. If you're looking for some meat after consuming all the yummy seafood, there isn't a better dish than this one.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:The best nightlife in Venice is in Dorsoduro, the quarter in the southwest corner of the island. Local university students flock here, especially to Campo Santa Margherita, a lovely piazza that starts to bustle with fun-seekers as the sun sets. Nightspots range from hip wine bars to dive bars, and some have live music. Other good spots for nightlife that Forbes Travel Guide's editors' love include bars in the neighborhoods of Cannaregio and Castello. Meanwhile, Venice's most touristy quarters, Santa Croce and San Marco, are mostly dead by midnight. In general on the island, it can be hard to find places that have much of a crowd or are even open late at night. For example, the local wine bars that serve drinks and snacks usually close at 9 p.m. And many other nightspots have to close by midnight, due to the island's noise ordinances.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:It's impossible to see everything Venice has to offer in one day, but since the island's small, you can pack a lot in. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest starting with Venice's two most famous (and crowded) sights: Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica (you can book reservations in advance at both sights). From there, walk to Rialto to see the world-famous Rialto Bridge and the nearby market, then continue north into the quarter of Cannaregio to get a glimpse of one of Venice's more authentic neighborhoods. Don't miss the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli — it’s one of the loveliest churches in Venice. Have lunch in the area and explore the neighborhood's artisanal shops, and then take a ferry across the Grand Canal to get a feel for life as a Venetian. Visit the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari before continuing down to the Gallerie dell'Accademia; or, if modern art is more your style, head to the nearby Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Have a drink on Campo Santa Margherita — which gets lively as night sets in — before grabbing a water taxi for one last spin around the whole island.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:To find the best places to eat in Venice, you often have to get a little off the beaten path. Here are Forbes Travel Guide's editors' picks for the five best places to eat in Venice, Italy.
1. Anice Stellato. Safely removed from the tourist-heavy areas, Anice Stellato is a local favorite on the north side of the city. Expect simple and elegant Italian dishes like pasta with prawns and zucchini.
2. Al Ponte del Megio. This fish restaurant has one of the best locations in Venice: right on the canal in Santa Croce. When it's warm out, you can sit outside and watch the gondolas go by.
3. Da Fiore. Thanks to the 2003 Da Fiore Cookbook, this restaurant is a hotspot with a reputation for being one of Venice’s best. The always-delicious dishes from chef Mara Martin are new spins on Venetian classics, such as whole wheat pasta with sardines and caramelized onions as well as eel with celery and blueberries.
4. Locanda Cipriani. On the island of Torcello, this elegant restaurant is run by the Cipriani family, who founded hotspots Harry's Bar and the Hotel Cipriani. The restaurant has gorgeous views of Torcello's churches, and its food, which includes fish and pasta, is top-notch.
5. Corte Sconta. Popular with both tourists and local foodies, this vine-covered spot serves house-made pasta dishes like gnocchi with shrimp. Come in the warm-weather months when you can dine in its idyllic courtyard surrounded by trees.
On July 9, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:Venice has hundreds of hotels, B&Bs, and apartment rentals, and finding the best places to stay can feel overwhelming. To help you out, Forbes Travel Guide editors have sifted out the top five places to stay in Venice.
1. Hotel Danieli. One of the most famous hotels in Venice, Hotel Danieli is located in a 14th-century palazzo right in the heart of Venice. And it's simply luxurious. Expect opulent suites, a rooftop restaurant and romantic views of the lagoon.
2. Hotel Gritti Palace. You can't get much more decadent than staying in the former residence of a Venetian Doge. The Hotel Gritti is in a 16th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal. Its 91 rooms are styled luxuriously, with Murano glass fixtures and antique furnishings. We suggest asking for one with a view of the canal.
3. Hotel Cipriani. Located on the island of Giudecca, just across the lagoon from Venice, this is one of Venice's finest luxury hotels. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, it boasts three bars, three restaurants and a pool, along with 79 sumptuous rooms. Plus, the service is impeccable.
4. Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo. The location of this small boutique hotel couldn't be more ideal — it's on the Grand Canal, just a 15-minute walk from St. Mark's Square, in the lovely neighborhood of Santa Croce. On top of the excellent location, the hotel's 10 rooms are decorated in an elegant 18th-century style and the staff is friendly and helpful.
5. Palazzina Grassi Hotel & Residence. Located right on the Grand Canal, this hotel inside a 15th-century palazzo features guest rooms with white-leather furniture, contemporary accessories and flat-screen TVs. It’s also tucked away and discreet — there’s no sign, so be sure to have the address on hand when you first arrive.
On July 8, 2012Hayley Bosch answered the question:To find the best shopping in Venice, get off the beaten path and head away from Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, which abound with chain stores and souvenir shops. Instead, seek out Venice's artisans, who sell everything from handmade Venetian masks to glass baubles. At mask shops like Ca' Macana in Dorsoduro or Benor Maschere Venezia in Santa Croce, you can actually watch the masks being made.
But two of the best Venetian souvenirs are found on other islands in the Venetian lagoon. Burano is famous for its exquisite handmade lace, while the island of Murano is famed for its glass-making (and you can actually watch the glassblowers at work at many of the factories). If you don't have the time for a trip to Murano, know that some stores on the island of Venice sell Murano glass…but many more claim to sell Murano glass. How do you know for sure if it's authentic (and not cheap, imported glass)? Look for the little "Vetro Murano Artistico" trademark decal that authentic Murano glass shops put in their windows.