White and light coloured buildings with terracotta-coloured roofs fill a coastal town. A cathedral towers amongst the buildings and a large boat is at sail in the bay. It is a nearly cloudless day with lots of light reflecting off the trees and the buildings.

Discover Portugal’s nine charming islands of the Azores

Part of Portugal, but roughly 1,400 kilometres west from the capital city of Lisbon, the Azores are one of two archipelagos (the other is Madeira) that are composed of nine volcanic islands, strewn throughout the North Atlantic Ocean. Flores and Corvo can be found in the west; Graciosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial are located in the centre; and Sao Miguel and Santa Maria lie to the east.

Unlike mainland Portugal, the Azores are characterized by a cooler climate, where in the summer months, the average high is 24 degrees. But those slightly milder temperatures, combined with limitless dramatic landscapes, breathtaking beaches, and delicious dishes to explore, make the Azores one of the best parts of Portugal to visit year round.

Getting there

SATA Azores Airlines connects Canadians to the natural beauty of the Portuguese island of São Miguel with five-times weekly non-stop service from Toronto to Ponta Delgada. Ponta Delgada, on Sao Miguel Island, is the capital and biggest island in the Azores archipelago.

The summer schedule includes twice weekly service from Toronto to Teceira Island. Azores Airlines is the only carrier that will connect Montreal to Terceira with once-weekly non-stop service from June 15 to Sept 14, 2022. Terceira, located in the central group of the archipelago, is home to the Azores’ oldest city, Angra do Heroismo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s steeped in history.

Connections across North America are available with codeshare partner WestJet Airlines and interline partner Porter Airlines.  Convenient connections are available to other Azorean islands, Madeira and mainland Europe; Lisbon, Porto, Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Barcelona, and Cape Verde. Those travelling between North America and Europe can book a stopover in the Azores for up to seven days at no additional charge. The stopover can be booked on the island of São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands, or Terceira. 

For the most current information on restrictions and mandatory procedures for entry into the autonomous region of the Azores visit https://www.azoresairlines.pt/en/mandatory-procedures-for-entry-to-destinations

 

Down the Danube with Avalon Waterways

“From Vienna to Budapest, a river cruise showcases off-the-beaten path things to experience.”

There’s a fire in the kitchen! Sparks are flying after chef Karl Wrenkh pours a small vial of vodka into a simmering pan of oyster mushroom stroganoff and quickly takes a lighter to it — causing the liquid substance to instantly burst into metre-high flames.

But unlike some failed dinners that accidently transform meals into a charred crisp, his concoction is all about deliberately sealing some extra flavour into a mouthwatering recipe. 

From the newly-remodelled cooking studio of Wrenkh Vienna Culinary School, the budding entrepreneur explained how he and his brother Leo followed in their parents’ footsteps to bring local, fresh and healthy cuisine to life in a destination that’s universally renowned for being the home of the Wiener schnitzel. It’s a rather interesting story too, considering the family isn’t vegetarian but rather, stems from a long history of butchering. 

“Nobody in the family ever was [vegetarian] — we’re actually a family of butchers. We still feel there’s a lack of really good, quality vegetarian food in Austria. It’s great fun cooking vegetarian stuff because we can still always be creative with the recipes,” he said. “My parents were among the first vegetarian chefs in Austria in the 1990s, but then they divorced and we didn’t exist for a couple of years… then my brother and I opened up here in ’09. It’s 80% vegetarian with meat and fish [on the menu] — we say we cook what we hunt and fish.” 

Today, the restaurant has not only become a trendy spot for lunch and dinner, but a cooking hub for visitors and locals alike to learn how to make mainly vegetarian meals with a twist during daily culinary workshops. The Wrenkh brothers, who have their own cookbooks, are also co-creators of Avalon Fresh, river cruise line Avalon Waterways’ selection of healthy and vegetarian menu offerings onboard.

“We had a need to elevate our vegetarian cuisine; we didn’t want to serve pasta every day,” noted Pam Hoffee, the president of Avalon Waterways, who was also on location for the cooking demonstration. “Originally, it was about vegetarian cuisine but then we saw a trend towards healthy eating as well. It’s helped us elevate that and it’s been evolving over time.”

The suite life 

Recently christened by 15-time Emmy Award-winning host, executive producer and anchor Meredith Vieira, Avalon View is the newest ship to join Avalon’s fleet. The 166-passenger ship is mostly made up of 200 sq. ft. Panorama Suites with floor-to-ceiling 11-feet wide windows that slide wide open. There are also two large 300 sq. ft. Royal Suites, complete with two sinks and a powder room for guests for those seeking even more space.

Travellers looking to experience the ship firsthand can take part in a variety of Danube-based itineraries offered this year, including a special Gone Girl! departure on Sept. 15 with author Gillian Flynn.

After transforming the ship from Lot #02338024 to Avalon View, Vieira, well known for her time on television as the host of The View and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, admitted to having a slight fear of water before agreeing to take on duties as godmother. 

“It’s so warm and inviting. I love the size of the ship. You feel like you’re part of a family,” she said, reflecting on her time on the ship. “There’s an intimacy to it that’s really lovely. I really feel like I’m immersed in the culture around me because of the fact that we’re constantly stopping and you have the opportunity to do so many different things in port. The food on this ship is really good and the wine is unbelievable. I would definitely do it again. I could see myself doing it alone, it’s definitely a great experience as a family or friends. You can make it whatever you want.”

Highlights along the route

Unlike ocean cruises where guests often wake up somewhere new every morning, the river cruise journey takes place during the day so that all those onboard can soak up the scenery as the ship moves past historic castles, stunning landscapes and picturesque buildings like Dürnstein’s blue Abbey. Another must on a river cruise down the Danube is an evening illumination cruise past landmarks in Budapest like the The Hungarian Parliament Building and Castle Hill. 

While in port, a variety of daily tours ranging from active hiking or biking outings to classic city explorations are offered to give visitors the chance to have a deeper connection and understanding of the destination. These options allow travellers to customize their river cruise journey from start-to-finish based on personal interests. In Bratislava, for example, a classic option would be a city tour with a stop to enjoy Slovakian liquor tasting at the St. Nicolaus Distillery. Meanwhile an active option would be hiking through the forest and vineyards of Raca, followed by a wine tasting. There is really no wrong choice and it can be tough to narrow down which tour to choose. The convenient thing about being docked in the heart of the city is that it’s also easy to get on and off to explore. There’s ample free time built into each itinerary so that those who are torn between two daily excursions will be able to cross off some of those sights on their own.




A hip hotel with a vegan vibe just opened in Istanbul

The Stay Boulevard Nisantasi, Istanbul’s hottest new hotel for 2022, is now open for bookings in the heart of the city’s refined fashion and cultural district.

The beautifully designed 82-room property is housed in an elegant building in the heart of Nisantasi and joins the established collection of luxurious and culturally connected properties.

the new hotel meets The Stay Hotels’ standards of excellence for sustainability, as part of Turkey’s first carbon-neutral independent hotel group. Recently awarded carbon-neutral status by the internationally recognised sustainability specialist Bureau Veritas, the brand plans to be zero waste by the end of 2022. The new hotel has vegan leather headboards graced with European Down and Feather Association-certified pillows, recycled room key cards and menus brimming with local producing including vegan and vegetarian dishes accompanied by Turkish wines.

A hip hideaway

In keeping with the rest of the collection, The Stay Boulevard Nisantasi will offer guests a unique blend of heritage, arts, culture, and stellar design. Acclaimed Turkish architect Mahmut Anlar has created a hip hideaway with rooms and suites guests will struggle to leave, from view-giving terraces to walk-in closets, grand marble bathrooms and kitchenettes. Many of them connect for extended stays or large family groups – and for all-out indulgence, The Stay Boulevard Suite includes a terrace just made for sipping sundowners as the sun sinks down over Istanbul.

After a day among the historical sights, buzzy bazaars and contemporary museums, guests will love retreating to the spa and wellness floor opening in the autumn for a dip in the indoor pool, a Pilates session or an authentic Turkish hammam. If the gym is their thing, guests can work out in the sleek fitness suite or book a personal trainer. Wellness experiences including indulgent couples’ massages in a dedicated treatment room will relax and renew our guests ready for their next adventure in Istanbul. Plants and foliage will be in abundance to add to the relaxing feel, including a zen garden within our hotel fed by a customized drip irrigation system.

Eat and drink

For now, the ground-floor Saint Pâtissier patisserie will offer guests French fancies, freshly baked bread, and Turkish treats. From the autumn, foodies will flock to the entertaining Italian rooftop restaurant, Marcello E Matteo, to dine on the signature focaccia di recco al formaggio or sip well-crafted cocktails as the chefs break into an operetta. Proud to promote local and international artists, The Stay Hotels will reveal a curated art collection hung in rooms and public spaces, including an AI video-mapping installation by the world-renowned duo OUCHHH. The icing on the cake for lovers of culture, will be a bookshop while fresh flowers will be on sale at Misk flower shop.

Fashion forward

The Nisantasi location puts designer boutiques from Louis Vuitton to Chanel, and Hermes, as well as local designers such as Begum Khan, within easy reach, as well as the neighborhood’s cosmopolitan cafe, restaurant, and gallery scene. True to The Stay Hotels’ sustainability pledge, they recently launched an eco-friendly fashion label, The Stay Line, which guests can buy at the hotel’s dedicated retail space, the Stay Line Corner. In addition, staff will wear uniforms designed by Turkish designer Begüm Yunusoğlu, who also has her own haute couture collection.

The Stay Boulevard Nisantasi is the group’s fourth Istanbul property. It sits alongside The Stay Nisantasi, which is also set in the heart of the Fashion Quarter, The Stay Bosphorus, a revamped 19th-century waterside mansion, and Bebek Hotel by The Stay Collection, a glamorous and storied hotel by the Bosphorus. The collection also includes The Stay Warehouse, a cool former industrial space close to the coast in Alacati.

Scotland is getting ready to host the world’s oldest golf tournament

In a few weeks, St Andrews hosts the 150th Open, the oldest golf tournament in the world and part of an unprecedented run of major golf events in Scotland this summer.

No other venue has hosted more Opens than the Old Course and Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are just some of the famous faces that have crossed the Swilcan Bridge on the way to clinching the Claret Jug in front of the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse, landmarks as iconic to golf fans as the players themselves.

Golf is one of Scotland’s major selling points to tens of millions of golfers around the globe. Written records of golf being played in Scotland date back to the Middle Ages and the country has some of the oldest golf courses in the world.

Scotland hosted the first Open Championship in 1860 at Prestwick and has hosted around two-thirds of the 149 Opens since, providing half of the current Open venues in operation. The Open returns to Scotland for the first time since 2018 and it’s always an extra special occasion when it is hosted where the game began.

A couple crossing the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course, St Andrews, Fife.

A record-breaking 290,000 people will spectate over the course of the Open week, millions more will watch the coverage and follow the action on television and online giving St Andrews, Fife and Scotland unprecedented exposure. Visit Scotland invests more than £3 million annually to support golf events and to market Scotland globally as the Home of Golf. Colleagues are using the 150th Open and the major golf events this summer as opportunities to promote Scotland as a destination with key publications representing North America and Europe exploring what our regions have to offer. 

The Genesis Scottish Open takes its revered slot in the week prior to The Open – a date secured by VisitScotland and The Scottish Government as part of a new long-term commitment to the event. The event is co-sanctioned for the first time by the DP World Tour and PGA Tour of America, guaranteeing the field is among the strongest ever – to date 7 of the Top 10 male players in the world will tee it up at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.

Following The Open, legends of the men’s game will tee it up at Gleneagles for the first time, as the King’s Course hosts the fifth Major Championship on the Champions Tour schedule, as The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex returns to Scotland for the first time since 2018.

Scotland continues to lead the way in its investment into women’s golf events, supporting the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire in late July while the AIG Women’s Open will break new ground, hosted at Muirfield in August, East Lothian for the first time.

More than 100,000 spectators are expected to attend the events in addition to The Open, with each event having its own unique message and positioning. These golf tournaments provide the perfect stage to showcase Scotland’s first-class golf regions and courses to the world as well as the wider scenery, attractions and our warm welcome.

Golf brings hundreds of thousands of visitors every year from all over the UK and Ireland, USA, Germany and Scandinavia to test themselves at some of these iconic venues they have seen as spectators and on TV. 

Overall, it is estimated that golf tourism is worth £286m to Scotland annually, supporting around 4,400 jobs. As well as the tourism boost, the health and well-being aspect of golf was brought into sharp focus during the pandemic as one of the first activities to reopen after lockdown providing exercise and social interaction. Visit Scotland’s insights indicate that visitors are now prioritizing those pursuits that boost mental and physical health.

To find out more about making the most of visiting Scotland for golf events this summer go to www.visitscotland.com/see-do/active/golf/tournaments/the-open/.

The rooftop terrace at Hotel Bayerischer Hof is decorated with several sets of warm furnishings and lots greenery in stone planters. The Frauenkirche and Olympiaturm are visible in the skyline in the background.

This luxury hotel offers views of Munich’s old town from a private rooftop suite

When it comes to the best city views, it doesn’t get much better than overlooking the iconic Frauenkirche — the landmark two towered church in Munich’s old town — while sipping on cocktails from the rooftop Blue Spa terrace at Hotel Bayerischer Hof while the sun sets. 

That is unless you can soak up these views from the private penthouse suite of the historic hotel originally conceived by King Ludwig I, complete with a private fireplace, jacuzzi and a 124.5 sq m roof terrace.

“Our Penthouse Garden Suite, 350 sq m, was designed by Axel Vervoordt and meets the most exclusive living standards,” says Vanessa Longhitano, PR & Guest Relations Manager. “The suite can be combined with the entire seventh floor of the South and North Wings to the Penthouse Garden Ensemble, giving you an exceptional 575 sq m. The Panorama Floor, with its spectacular view over the city’s rooftops, will give you a beautiful, private retreat. Our luxury penthouse is a symbol of elegant interplay between luxury, modernity and peace.”

In total there are 337 unique rooms to choose from, including 28 deluxe rooms and 74 suites, one of which is a six-bedroom suite. There are also speciality rooms like romantic spaces designed by Laura Ashley with floral patterns and warm colours, as well as colonial rooms, which are designed to bring a touch of Africa to Munich.

“One of the many things that set the hotel apart is its location and grand appearance,” she says. “The Hotel Bayerischer Hof is located in the old town district of Munich. As soon as you walk through our door, you will sense the hotel’s history and experience the cordial welcome we extend to our guests. We have a long tradition of hospitality — the hotel has been owned and run by the Volkhardt family since 1897.”

Hotel Bayerischer Hof, which is a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Legend Collection, is a short walk to Munich’s top sights like Marienplatz, the old town square that dates back to the 12th century. This is where visitors flock to the New City Hall (Rathaus) to take in the daily Glockenspiel at 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and at 5 p.m.

Although the property first opened in 1841 (and was rebuilt after it was completely destroyed during World War II), it has constantly evolved since fourth generation owner Innegrit Volkhardt took charge in 1992. A major expansion was completed in 2018, debuting the present-day South and North wings. 

“A total of 29 new rooms were created, which are divided into 23 Deluxe double rooms, five deluxe Junior suites and the Penthouse Garden Suite,” explains Longhitano. “A new eighth floor has been added, which is entirely taken over by the Penthouse Garden Suite… The rooms exude an incredible sense of tranquillity and comfort, and invite guests to stay longer. The design in the rooms partially includes the philosophical beliefs of Wabi (Japanese aesthetic concept) — beauty is found in imperfection and authenticity as well as the notion of ‘Artempo − where time becomes art’ and natural materials which are rich in spirit.”

Where to wine and dine: With five restaurants and six bars to choose from, you don’t have to venture far for a great meal. Notable options include Atelier, which has received many accolades including a two Michelin star rating, and Garden, awarded with 15 Gault Millau points, six pans in Gusto and three chef’s hats in the Grand Guide. For a taste of regional delights, Palais Keller offers a great tapas spread with six or eight appetizer options like mini schnitzel and Obatzda, a Bavarian cheese delicacy. Chef Tobias Heinze uses regional products from the surrounding area for his modern Bavarian specialties. For a night cap, head to Falk’s Bar, located in the famous hall of mirrors dating back to 1839, the only room at the hotel to survive the Second World War unscathed. Rounding out the experience is a lavish breakfast spread with made-to -order items as well as stations with eggs, salmon, fresh bread, fruit, spreads, cheese and more.

Relax and unwind: If you’re looking for a bit of pampering, the 1,300-square-meter rooftop Blue Spa features a pool, saunas, steam bath and a fitness studio, with panoramic views over Munich.




Feel like royalty on this luxury barge that offers private tours down the River Thames

European Waterways’ Magna Carta hotel barge, which cruises Britain’s River Thames, takes guests on daily, sometimes private tours to some of the opulent royal residences that feature prominently in the UK’s celebration of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

Along the way, they cruise in utmost comfort, dine on gastronomic meals prepared by their personal chef, drink the finest regional wines, and enjoy views of castles, lavish estates, and the rural beauty of the English countryside that are fit for dignitaries.

With cabins on the Magna Carta quickly selling out for the 2022 season, travellers can still book 2023 and beyond at current prices, which start at $5,190 per person, based on double occupancy. Whole-boat charters start at $38,200 and allow guests to indulge in interests such as antiquing, golf and tennis, as well as family activities.

Magna Carta’s interior.

Palaces and Castles

Among the numerous excursions on Magna Carta’s itinerary is a private tour of Hampton Court Palace. Guests visit some of Henry VIII’s apartments and the Palace’s haunted gallery, where rumor has it that his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, ran screaming to confront Henry VIII when she found that he had discovered her affair. Guests will visit the original Tudor kitchens, which are complete with a hearth that is still used to demonstrate how meat was cooked on a spit. They will also tour the wood-beamed Great Hall that dates to the sixteenth century, as well as the elegant, manicured grounds of the East-facing Privy Garden.

 Magna Carta guests can also enjoy a cruise to Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite residence. Built by William the Conqueror more than 900 years ago, it is the largest castle in the world that is still inhabited today.  Guests will be treated to a “Behind the Scenes” tour of the College of St. George and visit St. Georges Chapel, where the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was held. They will also enjoy breathtaking views of the 2.5 mile Long Walk which leads to the Castle. 

Windsor Castle

Depending on the itinerary, Magna Carta can also provide guests with a private tour of Dorney Court. This Tudor manor house has been owned by the Palmer family for more than 450 years. It has served as a filming location for well-known titles like “Poirot” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.”
 
The Magna Carta’s classic cruise includes an excursion to Cliveden Estate, which once belonged to George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and a favorite of Charles II’s court. Cliveden was later also home to the American Astor family, during which it became a destination for high society, entertaining Prime Ministers like David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.
 
“An all-inclusive European Waterways hotel barge cruise is the perfect way to celebrate your own jubilee or any other special occasion – or just to spend a week of pampering, gentle touring, and relaxation,” said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways.  “Regardless of the cruise region you chose, you will always get the royal treatment!”
 

This could be the year where tourism to the UK makes a total comeback

In 2022, the British Tourist Authority’s chair Judith Macgregor says the organization is anticipating over half of 2019’s arrival figures when the destination saw 40 million visitors.

“We reckon 21 million visits this year would be good but we’re always open for going above that,” Macgregor told Offshore during a one-on-one virtual interview at ExploreGB. “Our goal is [to increase] tourism as quickly as possible, particularly from faithful markets and markets like Canada, which were growing very well prior to COVID. We had a 30% increase in our tourists from Canada prior to COVID-19.”

Now that the UK has removed all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions — including testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated — executives are optimistic that inbound figures will continue to ramp up. In fact, results from VisitBritain’s latest wave of travel sentiment research shows the strongest desire for people to travel internationally since the survey launched in 2020.

“83% of respondents say they would take an international leisure trip in the next 12 months,” says Richard Nicholls, Head of Research and Forecasting for VisitBritain.

With only 42% of respondents already booked or decided on where to go, Nicholls says the destination also has a huge opportunity to go after its marketshare for more bookings.

Flight bookings have recovered to the highest point in almost two years — they’re now up to 30% below normal levels so that’s just the inbound flights overseas into the UK,” he adds. “We’ve regained most of the ground that we lost since COVID began.”

While there was a little blip in flight bookings after the start of the Ukraine invasion, the latest data showcases that has levelled out again too.

“North America is a region where we’ve seen some really strong bookings,” Nicholls says. “We’ve been thinking for a long time that this may be a market to lead the recovery. We’re optimistic about a strong recovery from the North American market.”

Prior to the pandemic, 875,000 Canadians visited the destination with a record spend of £730 million pounds.

“We’re encouraged by what have been good and increasingly good forward booking tallies,” says Macgregor. “The best statistics we’ve had so far have just been in the last couple of weeks. That is showing a very strong and healthy resurgence of people wishing to travel now.”

But while 2022 is shaping up to be significantly better than 2021, Nicholls points out that full recovery in terms of arrivals and visitor spend isn’t expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

“The travel industry is incredibly important to Great Britain,” adds Gavin Landry, Director of the Americas for VisitBritain. “Tourism and the visitor economy drives the prosperity of Great Britain. In 2019 it represented over 10% of GDP and supported around 3.1 million jobs.”

Sailing away with Holland America Line

As a company that’s been around for going on 150 years, Holland America Line is no stranger to adapting.

The premium cruise line started out as a shipping and passenger line, slowly gaining a reputation for safely bringing emigrants from Europe to North America. Nearly one million people made the journey to new beginnings and adventures on a Holland America ship — including Albert Einstein, Olympic boxing champion Bep van Klaveren, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest Hemingway and Roald Dahl — to name but a few.

During the First World War, several ships were called upon to carry and transport soldiers. In the Second World War,, ships like Nieuw Amsterdam were even converted into troopships, eventually resuming regular operations after being refitted back to passenger ships post war.

At the height of the prohibition, the company offered what could be dubbed the original booze cruises — taking passengers into international waters from New York City to serve alcohol. Now doesn’t that sound like a party?

Facing other challenges like stiff competition and the takeoff of trans-Atlantic air travel, HAL charted a course for new destinations in the Caribbean and Alaska, transitioning to a primary focus on cruise holidays.

And while the pandemic dealt another blow, the cruise line forged ahead to make sure the return to the waters would be strong by enhancing its content and putting in place new programming to mark its 75th year of operations in Alaska.

“The pandemic has been hard, but as I stand here today, I’m flooded with hope and filled with confidence that our best days are still ahead,” Michelle Sutter, vice president of North America sales, said kicking off a session during the Attitude of Gratitude trade appreciation cruise held on the Rotterdam from March 10 to 13.

The new Pinnacle-class ship is the seventh to hold the Rotterdam name, including the company’s first ship, the original Rotterdam. Although the flagship has come a long way since those original cross Atlantic sailings with offerings like the Music Walk, featuring nightly entertainment ranging from B.B. King’s Blues Club to the Rolling Stone Rock Room, where a live band plays classic rock and roll hits, and a culinary scene with high-end options like Tamarind and Rudi’s Sel de Mer to quick bites like gourmet hotdogs and burgers, elements of the past are still evident throughout.

“Our first ship was Rotterdam. The company was headquartered in Rotterdam — it’s actually a hotel now,” explained Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “There’s always been a Rotterdam as part of the fleet. The history of the company is very important to us — it’s acknowledging our roots, where we’re coming from and where we started.”

The evolution of HAL plays out during an evening staged presentation called Origin Story on Rotterdam and look no further than the cocktail menu at Half Moon Bar for a drink called the Three Mile Run, in honour of the prohibition days.

And for those truly wanting to get back to HAL’s origins, Rotterdam will be replicating the first crossing from Holland to New York on a special itinerary set for Oct. 2, 2022. Although unlike the original crossing 150 years ago, there are added ports of call on the docket like Copenhagen and Paris.

“We’re adding a few other ports because just a straight-shot Rotterdam to New York wouldn’t be that interesting — but in October, this ship will go from the Netherlands to New York, we stop in Paris along the way, which is nice. That voyage in particular will have a lot of our history and some of the memorabilia,” said Antorcha. “It’s pretty cool when you’ve been operating 150 years and started around bringing emigrants and doing it in a way that was safe. It was safe passage, it was quality, but it was focused on emigration.”

And stay tuned for 2023, as the company marks a milestone 150 years of operations since officially being founded on April 18, 1873. More details about highlights and the celebrations that are in store will be released closer to the anniversary date.

“The not so obvious advantage for booking a cruise right now, at least in the short term, is service,” he said. “The ships are staffed up and the service is excellent. Compare it to other options today where costs may be high with service gaps due to staff shortages and supply chain issues. This was not a issue on board which was a delight to experience.”

As for the Rotterdam, Pearlman said the flow of the ship made sense and it was apparent that “HAL is just as delighted to be back to cruising.”

“The Pinnacle class ships are great,” he said. “Small enough not to feel crowded but big enough for lots of extra space and energy. I think there something for everyone but I would say it’s geared more towards adults — of any age — with an affinity for music and food.”

Beckett Locke's bright and airy bar features white-marble counters, wooden accents, and greenery.

Trendy new aparthotel opens in one of Dublin’s hottest up-and-coming neighbourhoods

Lifestyle aparthotel brand Locke has  announced the official launch of Beckett Locke in the centre of Dublin’s thriving Docklands area. 

The opening will mark Locke’s third location outside of the UK, which also includes the recently opened Zanzibar Locke by Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge, and Schwan Locke in Munich.

Tucked behind the 3Arena, the 241-studio aparthotel will become a new hub for culture and entertainment in the city. Set around a naturally lit atrium, Beckett Locke features a neighbourhood co-working space, artisan coffee shop, restaurant and intimate cocktail bar in addition to meeting and event space for up to 100 people. Beckett Locke’s beautifully designed apartments (which range from 23sqm to 53sqm) each feature fully-fitted kitchens, living and dining space – making them suitable for short, medium, and long stays.

Stephen McCall, CEO of Locke’s parent company edyn said, “We are thrilled to open Beckett Locke, our second home in Dublin and the third international property in the Locke family. The Locke experience ranges from cultural programming to creative partnerships and our ambition is to establish Beckett Locke as a creative hub for guests and locals alike.”

Designed by the London studio of globally renowned design firm AvroKO in collaboration with local firm C+W O’Brien Architects, the interiors of Beckett Locke take their cue from Dublin’s maritime history and the Docklands’ deep industrial heritage.

The layout of the social spaces are inspired by a traditional Docklands market hall – comprising a co-working area, meeting rooms, cocktail bar, coffee shop and restaurant, all set around a central glass atrium. The assimilation of local narratives flows into the apartments, which feature black steel, exposed concrete and rust-coloured soft furnishings, which evoke the intrepid colourways and history of the Docklands. Unique to Beckett Locke, each studio apartment has been designed in-house by edyn Development Studio.

Beckett Locke also houses three new food and drink concepts by Alan Clancy’s native restaurant group, NolaClan (House Dublin, 9 Below and Xico). ‘North 7th Coffee’ will fuel the co-working space from the early morning throughout the day, serving artisan coffee, delicate pastries, and hearty sandwiches. Meanwhile, ‘The Belis’ restaurant will offer a contemporary Irish take on classic dishes using freshly sourced ingredients. Nestled in a decadent theatre-like setting, complete with rich red velvets and draped chain canopy, ‘Sam’s Corner’ will shake up handcrafted cocktails inspired by Beckett Locke’s namesake, playwright Samuel Beckett. 

Beckett Locke will also host an evolving cultural activation programme where locals and guests can participate talks, events and workshops hosted by local businesses and creatives. This will be complemented by an evolving cultural activation series, which will invite local creatives, brands, and businesses to host talks, workshops and events.

Locke’s hybrid ‘home-meets-hotel’ concept has proven popular among guests seeking flexible accommodation for a night, to a month or longer. Each apartment provides the space and comfort of home – including fully fitted kitchens, adaptable living areas where guests can dine or work, and ample storage – with industry-leading design and guest experience. This is combined with the social attributes of a lifestyle hotel, including buzzy co-working spaces, original food and drink concepts and a team of local house hosts. 

The opening of Beckett Locke follows the successful launch of the 160-apartment Zanzibar Locke, which opened by Ha’penny Bridge in the centre of Dublin in June this year.

Room rates at Beckett Locke start from €110 per night. Discounted rates are also available for mid- to long-stay guests.

A popular luxury hotel brand is making its debut in Madrid this spring

Thompson Hotels, a luxury brand known for combining curated design and culinary sophistication with the right amount of edge, is all set to welcome its first property in Spain.

Slated to open in mid-2022, the Thompson Madrid is a 175-room luxury lifestyle hotel that will mark a significant milestone for Hyatt as the brand celebrates its thoughtful growth in Europe with its debut in Spain.   

With fashion, art and entertainment at the heart of the Thompson Hotels experience, the brand attracts tastemakers from international guests to emerging creatives in the neighborhood. At Thompson Madrid, guests will experience elements of Madrid’s culture through the hotel’s striking design and spaces that have been inspired by the soul of the city and its architecture.

Thomson Madrid guest rooms feature warm white walls and rich wooden accents.

A vibrant mix of global sophistication and cultural know-how, the prime location will embody the Thompson Hotels brand’s promise to provide a dynamic home-base for culture savvy guests to connect with each other and what inspires them. Perfect for both business and leisure guests, Thompson Madrid will be located in the center of the new Golden Mile of Madrid, and steps away from the most visited icons of the city, Puerta del Sol and the eclectic Gran Vía street.  

Thompson Madrid lounge space is a large, open-concept space with columns, islands, plants and other furnishings dividing the room into separate spaces full of meeting tables and lounge seating.

The hotel’s 175 guestrooms, including 23 exceptional suites, have been carefully designed and decorated to make guests to discover a new sense of modern luxury. The guestrooms will feature balconies and terraces with city views and fashion forward art and style. Thompson Madrid will offer a truly unique stay with the additional offer of a two-story penthouse with panoramic views.

Thompson Madrid guest rooms have been carefully designed and decorated to make guests to discover a new sense of modern luxury. Guest rooms feature rich wooden accents and furniture, as well as blown glass light fixtures.

Thompson Madrid will be a social anchor of the neighbourhood boasting three food and beverage outlets housed on various floors, including the signature rooftop terrace with a bar and restaurant, as well a speak-easy style venue. The culinary offerings will be managed by the renowned Grupo La Ancha, with a strong presence in Spain since the early 20th century and creator of beloved dining concepts such as Fismuler in Madrid. The rooftop will offer stunning views overlooking Madrid and will include an urban oasis, with a state of the art outdoor pool, a hilltop residential style bar, and a destination day club. Additional amenities will include uniquely designed event spaces, as well as an open-air courtyard and a fitness centre.