My Favourite Hotels Around the World

This Post Was Originally Published on the TuGo Travel Blog on November 25, 2019 by Mark Crone

The list of my favourite hotels around the world could go on and on—it’s almost unlimited. But I’ve put together a shortlist based on the hotel and the destination experience. There’s a mix of larger hotels and smaller properties. While it’s great to enjoy the hotel and its facilities, it’s also great to enjoy the area and destination. I’ve stayed at all 5 properties several times—they’re all comfortable and highly recommended. Here’s my shortlist of favourite hotels, in no particular order:

Flemings Mayfair, London

The Flemings Mayfair Hotel on Half Moon Street in London

In London, hotel choices are limitless and highly dependent on location. The Flemings is situated right in the heart of central London, in the prestigious Mayfair area. The first time I stayed there, I went for a walk through Green Park (down the street and minutes away) and literally came upon Buckingham Palace on the other side. The small hotel (129 rooms) is located on a quiet residential street which gives a homely feel to the hotel. Flemings Mayfair is an independent, family-owned property and the second oldest established hotel in London, dating back to 1731.
Room prices are available from £250 per night, which includes breakfast. It’s great value for central London and a well-equipped, recently renovated property!

Kristall Hotel, Austria

Winter view looking at the Hotel Kristall in Austria

The family-run Hotel Kristall in Perisau at Lake Achensee is a must-visit. In the winter, the area is a winter wonderland with skiing, skating, snowshoeing and more. In the summer you can go biking, hiking, golfing and trek mountains nearby. The small (50 room) hotel has a luxury feel and a comfortable ambience. There’s a renowned spa, gourmet dinners in the new vaulted cellar and weekly wine tastings in the wine repository. The hotel is a short walk from Lake Achensee, mountain attractions and nearby cable cars and mountain ranges. Staying at the Kristall is an escape holiday, where you simply lose track of days and time (the best kind of holidays)! The combination of the gorgeous landscape and the surrounding alpine world creates a lasting memory of Tyrol!
Suite prices start at 150 Euro per person with special inclusive packages available.

Royal York, Toronto

Inside a guest room at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada

The Fairmont Royal York, formerly and commonly known as the Royal York, is considered one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It’s a large historic luxury hotel located along Front Street West, directly across from Union Station in the southern end of the Financial District, in central Downtown Toronto.
The hotel opened in June 1929 and has 1,363 guest rooms and suites, including Signature or Luxury, along with eight types of suites. In addition to first-rate facilities, the Royal York is connected to the PATH system, a series of pedestrian tunnels that connect numerous buildings in Downtown Toronto. There’s also a tunnel directly connecting the hotel to Union Station and to Scotiabank Arena (home of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA Toronto Raptors and major concerts).
You can’t beat the Royal York’s location in Toronto. Room rates start at $195.

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Caesar Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Caesars Palace opened in 1966 and is one of Las Vegas’s largest and best-known landmarks. The hotel is located right on the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and The Mirage. Caesars is meant to give a Roman Empire feel with statues, columns and a 20-foot statue of Augustus Caesar near the entrance.
It’s a large deluxe resort property with 3,976 rooms and suites in six towers, a convention facility, a large range of restaurants and outdoor pools, among many other features. The hotel operates a large casino and “The Colosseum”, a venue for live music and sports entertainment, featuring major entertainers for one-night shows and residence stays. There’s also a sizable shopping mall attached to the resort called “The Forum Shops at Caesars”.
Despite its size, the hotel is very comfortable and has absolutely everything on site, making it a great choice for a Las Vegas stay. Rooms can be as low as $99 per night!

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Aerial view of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Dubai is one of the seven emirates forming the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a very unique destination . It’s one of the most sought-after destinations for travellers from around the world, with its endless choices for fine dining, shopping, and luxury accommodations. The 7-star Burj Al Arab is perhaps the top choice in Dubai (and possibly anywhere).
The Burj al Arab is the iconic “sail” hotel located directly on the Persian Gulf in Dubai. It features all-suite accommodation, which includes butler service and a private beach. You don’t need to leave the property (and might not want to with room rates). The Burj has 201 suites, 9 restaurants, 5 pools, a spa, fitness centre and much more. If you’d like to make a grand entrance, you can arrive by helicopter on their roof or by chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. It’s the lap of luxury and pure fantasy rolled into one: a once in a lifetime hotel experience.
It’s still one of my favourite hotels of all time! Rates start at $4,300 USD including breakfast for two.

These are my 5 favourite hotels, but my hotel list continues to grow! What’s your favourite?
Safe travels,
Mark

10 Late Season Skiing Destinations in Europe

Person skiing

European mountains give us the pleasure of a pretty long skiing season. Yet, true ski lovers still disagree – they always look for a place to extend it for a bit longer. The late-season in most European skiing locations lasts until late April. Therefore, if you didn’t have time to enjoy this fantastic sport yet this season – this is a perfect moment to start looking for the best spot. We present to you the guide to selecting the top 10 late-season skiing destinations in Europe – it’s time to take a look and pick a favorite for your next trip.

Why ski lovers enjoy the late season

Experienced skiers love practicing this sport all the time. However, some of them claim the late season is the best. The main reason is the arrival of spring, which means longer days and more sunshine. Clear skies and sun make the skiing experience even more enjoyable, ensuring you relish those fantastic landscapes. Furthermore, the late season is excellent for beginners, too. Warm temperatures make the snow softer and the whole experience a lot easier for first-time skiers. Finally, Europe skiing in the late season is like going on the beach in September – it can help you spend less money and still have all the fun.

Skier in a blue jacket and black pants

Where to go skiing in spring? Here are the top 10 late-season skiing destinations in Europe

Now let’s see what the best locations to hit the snow with the arrival of spring are.

1.      Ischgl, Austria

This small Austrian town has transformed from a remote border village to one of the top skiing resorts in the country. With the growth of tourism over the years, Ischgl has become more and more popular. Now, it’s one of the most popular locations in the Alps and undoubtedly one of the top late-season skiing destinations in Europe.

2.      Val Thorens, France

This is such a great place to go skiing in spring because it’s located at 2,300m with lifts over 3,000m. With the days being longer in spring, you can truly enjoy the slopes as much as you can during the day. Apart from all the skiing features, the place is also known for its entertainment aspect. There are parties and other events you can enjoy here and have an unforgettable experience even as the season is closing.

3.      Cervinia, Italy

Let’s pop in Italy for a moment and check out one of the best late skiing destinations in Europe. Even though Italy is known for wine-tasting in Florence, you can also have a memorable skiing experience here. Cervinia is located in Aosta Valley, and it is known for its high-altitude slopes that are suitable for skiers of all levels. Visitors can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in the town and soak up the sun until late in the evening, surrounded by glaciated mountains and beautiful views.

4.      Tignes and Val d’Isere, France

The Espace Killy region is known for these two fantastic skiing locations, and it’s named after a famous French skier. Snowy slopes connect these two skiing resorts and make it skiing heaven for skiers of intermediate and advanced levels. You can visit both places by hopping on a bus, exploring their distinct features.

5.      St. Anton, Austria

St. Anton belongs to this list as it is one of the largest ski resorts in the country, but it also guarantees a snowy season late in the spring. Its high altitudes ensure high lifts and low temperatures for longer, so you can be sure you’ll enjoy its 88 ski lifts even though spring has arrived. Even when not skiing, you can have fun, as St. Anton is great for families and friends.

6.      Verbier, Switzerland

This lovely place in Switzerland is known for its beautiful scenery and the fact that the height of 3,300m keeps the snow longer in spring. It’s open until mid-April and ensures the snow stays longer with the snowmaking technology. This is also a great location to visit other Vallees’ areas, so make sure to plan a more extended stay in Switzerland.

7. Saas-Fee, Switzerland

If you’re traveling with your family, choose Saas-Fee for your next skiing destination. Its slopes are great for beginners and intermediate skiers, but experienced skiers can also have fun on red slopes. This is a rather traditional place with unique Swiss architecture and only about 2000 residents. It also includes a leisure center where your family can have fun even when you’re not skiing.

8. Riksgransen, Sweden

Located in the country’s far northwest corner, Riksgranses has long been a popular skiing destination. The shiny mountains and sparkling snow will help you have an unforgettable skiing experience and enjoy the unique natural beauties of the area. In spring, days are longer, and you can be out from early in the morning until late in the evening when mountains are glowing with beautiful orange and yellow hues from the evening sun.

9. Narvik, Norway

This skiing location is open until the beginning of May, which is excellent for those who truly want to use the season until the very last moment. The resort is relatively small, but it has different ski slopes, and it’s suitable for skiers of different levels. Narvik is a great place to visit with a family, as it’s not too crowded.

10. Ruka, Finland

This lovely Finnish town is one of the top ski resorts in the country. It’s where many professional sports teams train, which tells more about its quality. There are many other things to do here apart from skiing. For instance, be sure to try out dog sledding, snowmobiling, or going to a party.

Person in blue coveralls snowboarding on snow

Late season skiing tips

After choosing your destination for some skiing in the late season, be sure to remember some of these tips for a smooth and safe winter experience:

  • Look for deals and discounts to save as late-season can mean lower accommodation and travel costs;
  • Improve your safety gear, as lower snow can mean more rocks and trees are sticking out
  • Check the weather and wear layered clothes, as spring skiing means different temperatures throughout the day;
  • Prepare your sports gear for the next year when you’re finished—though, knowing the best methods to put away your equipment in a storage unit and keep it safe after your trip is essential. This will ensure everything is in good condition for the next skiing season.

Final words

Our list of top late-season skiing destinations in Europe will quickly help you decide where to go and arrange a new skiing experience. But it will also make the bucket list longer for passionate skiers – are you one of them?

Guide to Great Etiquette on the Mountain

This Post Was Originally Published on the Liftopia Blog on March 14, 2019 by Mark Crone

If you are a skier or boarder, any day and every day on the hill is a good day. What’s not so fun is bad ski etiquette and forgetting the “golden rules” of skiing. It’s mostly common sense mixed with respect for others.

As a ski patroller, I see it all. Here’s a list of things not to do this ski season:

Forget Lift Etiquette

Cutting in line or holding up the queue because you want to avoid sharing a chair with someone will result in scornful looks or worse. Don’t stand on the skis and snowboards of others in the line. If there’s a wait for the quad chair, get in 4s. The line moves quicker, and you get up the lift quicker. If you’ve missed your friend, wait off to the side or at the top of the lift.

Wave Your Poles Around

Just don’t do it. Keep your poles to yourself on the slope and in the lift line. There’s nothing fun about getting whacked, poked or your equipment scratched by the end of a ski pole in the lift line.

Ski or Snowboard Drunk (or High)

Wait until après ski for the party favors. Skiing after drinking can be dangerous to you and the people around you. A serious mountain and steep runs require serious effort and should be a “high” all on its own.

Drop Stuff (Or Litter)

Some folks will eat energy bars, candy, or drink water on the chairlift ride. Put the wrapper in your pocket until you get to a trash can – and don’t drop your phone, gloves, poles, skis, and board when you are riding up the chair. Skiers under the chair will thank you. There are typically trash cans at the top of a lift or at the lift line.

Get Out of Control

Keep working on improving but do it gradually and within reason. Bunny slope to Black Diamond in one day is not realistic (or safe). Don’t go faster or steeper than you can handle. Travel at the speed you are comfortable with and where you can control your turns and make a quick stop if necessary.

Ski Past A Man/Woman Down

Every skier has a ‘yard sale’ at some point (a wipe out across the hill that leaves skis, poles, hats, goggles, and dentures scattered everywhere). If you come across a yard sale, or worse, stop and ask if the downed skier is ok and/or if they need help. You can help collect their belongings or call for the Ski Patrol if they are injured.

OK – back to the fun. It’s all about having a great day outdoors and enjoying yourself. Common sense and good manners go a long way on the slopes. Stay safe, respect others, and have a good time.