By Judy Newell
New Hotel Opening in San Miguel
This January, a luxury five-suite inn called Hotel Amparo will open, created by the owners of Hibiscus Linens, Taylor Goodall and Mariana Barran de Goodall. The hotel was designed to be a residential-style getaway, yet is tucked away in the heart of the city near the central square of El Jardín.
The building dates back over three centuries and was, at one time, the mayor’s private residence. The colorful décor highlights the colonial-era elements of the edifice while incorporating a mix of mid-century furnishings. Guests can expect custom-made bedding, towels, and linens from Hibiscus Linens.
The hotel will feature a high-end coffee bar and a rooftop wine bar with an emphasis on natural wines. Rates will start at US$325 per night including accommodation, breakfast, happy hour, and an evening dessert hour.
Why Visit Panama in 2019
2019 could mark Panama’s grandest fiesta yet. Panama City—the oldest continuously occupied European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas—is turning 500.
Ancient walls, glassy skyscrapers, and a mix of African, native Panamanian, and Spanish cultures have all played a part in forming the “Miami of Central America.” Lately, however, Panama has become more focused on preserving its treasures.
Head to the historic quarter of Casco Viejo, and you’ll find innovative restaurants built inside restored colonial buildings. Meanwhile, on remote islands where hiking trails are peppered with Pre-Columbian-era pottery and protected wildlife, new eco-resorts are finally putting Panama on the map for sustainable tourism.
Learn the greeting “que sopa” (local slang for “what’s up?”), and you’ll have no problem making friends. Most visitors will want to check the big one off their list: the Panama Canal, a maritime trading conduit that was controlled by the US for over a century before being turned over to Panama in 1999.
Over the past 20 years, Panama has come into its own more than ever before. Cultural progress is most visible in Casco Viejo, the city’s old town, which has transformed into a stylish hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage Site rolled into one.
Carnival Reverses Decision to Charge for Room Service
Carnival Cruise Line has canceled plans to begin charging for individual room service items ordered before 10 pm, a plan that many Carnival cruisers criticized. The change was meant to reduce food waste and lower staffing needs, Carnival said on its Facebook page. On December 31, Carnival announced the reversal of the impending policy change, which was scheduled to go into effect in mid-January.
Currently, Holland America, Disney Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises are the only mainstream cruise lines offering free room service. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian used to offer free room service, but both cruise lines now charge US$7.95 per order, with the exception of Continental breakfasts.
Where is the longest stairway in the world?
With 11,674 steps, the stairway that follows alongside the Niesen mountain railway is officially the longest stairway in the world. Once a year, the stairway is open to those who wish to participate in the Niesen Race. It’s only a two-mile race, but it takes participants on a wild 5,575-foot upward climb. It takes even the fastest participants over an hour to complete. The rest of the year, those looking to reach the top of the mountain can take the Niesen railway, which is a short 30-minute ride to the summit of Mount Niesen. Once at the top, visitors are rewarded with stunning views of Lake Thun and the Simmen Valley, Switzerland.
Words of the Wise and Well-traveled
“Travel is the only context in which some people ever look around. If we spent half the energy looking at our own neighborhoods, we’d probably learn twice as much.” —Lucy Lippard
Deal of the Week
The Finest Wines of Northern Italy
Embark on a wine, food, and spa tour experience unlike any other! This exclusive tour has carefully chosen the most fabulous accommodations, wineries, and spas to create the ultimate wine adventure.
Luxury accommodations, including four days at Relais San Maurizio Resort and Spa
Tastings and tours in seven distinctive wine regions of Northern Italy
Unique cooking classes, demonstrations, and market and factory tours
World-class spas and natural thermal hot springs
Guided city tours of Verona and Bologna
Fully escorted by winemakers Al and Susan Fulchino of Fulchino Vineyards
Hombre Farm: Taste the world’s best parmigiano reggiano at the charming Hombre Farm, where cows are treated with the utmost respect! Surprisingly, the farm also houses a priceless collection of motorcars. Your wine adventure also includes a visit to a balsamic vinegar farm and a cooking class featuring the freshest ingredients from a local market. It’s a culinary adventure unlike any other!
Marchesi Alfieri: Experience the historic winery of Marchesi Alfieri, located inside a castle that dates back to the Middle Ages. This is just one of the many renowned and remarkable wineries you will visit, and you will have time to meet the winemakers and spend one-on-one time with them learning about their vineyards.
Relais San Maurizio: Have you ever wondered where Beyonce and Jay-Z stay when they are in Italy? They choose Relais San Maurizio, just one of the fabulous luxury resorts and spas included on this tour. Of course, Beyonce likes her privacy and rents out the entire property when she needs to get away.
Palazzo di Varignana: Relax and rejuvenate at the prestigious and elegant Palazzo di Varignana, an eighteenth-century villa restored to its original splendor. Enjoy a dip in one of the resort’s six swimming pools as you gaze at the magnificent Italian countryside. Or you may want to rest and unwind in the Finnish sauna or Turkish bath. Let the world around you fade away and experience total relaxation.
Tour limited to 15 guests | 4995 per person.
Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She designs custom journeys that are tailored to your interests, abilities and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email email@example.com. Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, Car. a Dolores Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website perfectjourneys.net
Sources: Forbes, Vogue, Cruise Critic, Italy Vacations