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Summer Travel Planner

Apr 14, 2014 08:36AM ● By Anonymous
April 2014

Escape the ordinary with one of these exotic locales

When it comes to summer travel, endless destination possibilities abound. But this time, instead of hitting up your go-to Texas beach or hitting the road for the Colorado mountains like you’ve done every year, why not go somewhere new? Mix it up a little. Maybe even splurge a little. Isn’t that what summers are for? This month, we’re spotlighting three exciting vacation hotspots that offer a total departure from the norm. So buckle up, and enjoy the ride. 

Miami  

It might not seem like an exotic environment, but this popular Florida metropolis is absolutely worth checking out if you’ve not yet been. White sand beaches, crystal-clear blue water and exceptional hotel amenities will instantly make you forget your troubles and transport you to a Zen-like state of mind only summer vacation can incite. From the Everglades Alligator Farm (housing 2,000 of the reptiles) to the Shops at Sunset Place (an outdoor piazza complete with restaurants, bars and upscale shopping), Miami has something for everyone. For a family-friendly outing, we recommend Crandon Park Beach. Located on Key Biscayne, the beach includes a family amusement center, cabana rentals and places to play beach volleyball, grill and picnic. The Crandon Park Nature Center houses exotic plants, rare fish and wildlife and even offers educational naturalist tours. From sand dunes to sea grass beds, the lush landscape of the beach and park will elicit hours of fun in the sun.

Miami is known for its luxurious, first-class hotels, many of which dot the beaches where, let’s face it, you’ll probably want to spend most of your time. Spanning 22 oceanfront acres, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel offers more than 1,500 rooms and suites, a 40,000-square-foot spa, pools with private cabanas and 11 nightclubs and restaurants. After an expansive renovation in 2008, the hotel now combines the original vision of architect Morris Lapidus with glamorous, updated luxury. For an equally ritzy experience perfect for the entire family, the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove offers a boutique hotel experience nestled in a neighborhood known for good shopping, dining and sailing. With architectural elements including Venetian stucco columns and a grand fireplace, this retreat is the perfect place for you to rest your feet after a day exploring all that Miami has to offer. RitzCarlton.com, Fontainebleau.com, MiamiAndBeaches.com 

Brazil

Site of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the country of Brazil will be awash in activity this summer in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and many other cities. If you happen to be heading here this June to watch your favorite footballers battle it out for the title of world cup winner, then we’ve got the scoop on where to stay and what to do. The Grand Hyatt in Sao Paulo is the premier hotel for travelers, offering more than 450 luxury suites, a full-service spa and indoor pool. Minutes from the hotel is the Daslu upscale shopping boutique, which carries high-end designer labels, as well as the Ibirapuera Park, comprising four lakes, a plant nursery, Japanese pavilion and more that kids will love to explore. While in Sao Paulo, be sure to pay a visit to the Morumbi Stadium, one of the largest soccer stadiums in the country.

A trip to Rio de Janeiro wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Corcovado Mountain, which stands at more than 2,300 feet and is known for its 100-foot-tall statue of Jesus. Located in Tijuca Forest National Park, the mountain offers a phenomenal view from the top, and visitors can take the electrically powered trains up every hour. For a true traveler’s experience, book a room at the Leblon, a hostel located just 15 minutes from the beach and the lake at the foot of Corcovado. Its spacious rooms, contemporary décor and natural color scheme will make you never want to leave this tranquil hideaway. SaoPaulo.Grand.Hyatt.com, FIFA.com, LeblonSpot.com

Cape Town, South Africa

Easily accessible via plane (fly to Johannesburg directly from Atlanta on Delta Airlines), Cape Town is one of this year’s premier travel destinations. Why? This vibrant city has been designated the World Design Capital for 2014, an honor bestowed upon a thriving town that recognizes the value of design thinking and is dedicated to using design as a tool for social, cultural and economic development. To commemorate the honor, Cape Town is backing tons of projects that celebrate different elements of design, including photography, fashion, interior decoration, paintings and drawings. For example, Accidental Art comprises several site-specific, public art interventions at prominent Cape Town locations that offer selected local artists the chance to display their works on a larger scale.

During your visit to Cape Town, check in to one of the city’s premier resorts, like the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa. Located minutes from the heart of the city of Cape Town, this luxury boutique hotel is also nestled amongst the trails of Table Mountain National Park, site of Cape Point, a scenic nature reserve full of wild flora and fauna. Hotel rooms are equal parts luxury and practicality, featuring elegant décor and sweeping views of the nearby mountain ranges. The hotel prides itself on providing exceptional service for mom, dad and children alike and is ready to inform you on all of Cape Town’s attractions, like the Two Oceans Aquarium, MTN Science Centre and Butterfly World.

One site that you cannot miss when you visit Cape Town during its reign as the world design capital is its City Hall. Built in 1905 in Italian Renaissance style, the building features colorful mosaic floors, a marble staircase, stained glass and a half-size replica of London’s Big Ben. WDCCapetown2014.com, 12ApostlesHotel.com, Capetown.Travel