Archive for category For the Family

Chicago architecture, nautical style

Chicago’s iconic skyline is counted among one of the world’s most recognizable. High-rise buildings have been defined (and redefined) in Chicago―it really is the birthplace of the skyscraper. The Chicago River, snaking through the heart of the city, is the perfect place to experience architecture in a truly special fashion.

Take in some of the world’s most striking skyscrapers while learning about the evolution of Chicago’s architectural styles and the famous turn-of-the-century Chicago School. Throughout the years, most of the world’s most prominent building designers have worked in Chicago―it’s the most important city in North America when it comes to built landscapes and architecture.

Dozens of Chicago’s most notable buildings are nestled along the banks of the Chicago River, which weaves through downtown from Lake Michigan. This makes a boat tour of the city’s architecture an ideal way to learn the stories of the city. Float under moveable bridges along the river as you crane your neck and look skyward. Get up close to jaw-dropping buildings like the John Hancock Center, the AON Center, the Trump Tower and the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the United States. Seeing truly is believing.
Our Hotel Experts recommend:

Public Chicago, The Peninsula Chicago, and The Park Hyatt Chicago.

See all of our Chicago Luxury Hotels.


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Spring may be the loveliest time to visit New York City, with flowers in full bloom, events in abundance, and the weather warm but not insufferable as it can be in summer. And while Spring in The City That Never Sleeps draws its share of fever-struck romantics, hipsters and the swanky elite, more than ever it’s become an ideal destination for families looking for a decidedly Manhattan change of pace. New York offers a cornucopia of cultural, entertainment and dining choices for everyone. Make this Spring memorable with an action-packed, heart-pumping New York family stay.

If a red double-decker tour bus draws embarrassed glares, and the Empire State Building provokes a pitchy chorus of “been there done that,” stop the rolling eyes and whining with a memory-making helicopter ride over New York City. With an impeccable safety record and rave reviews, Liberty Helicopter Tours boasts the highest view of New York City, bar none. Downtown Manhattan Heliport, 12th Avenue at West 30th Street, 212-967-6464.

And it would be something like sin not to tour Central Park in the spring, on foot, on a bicycle, or riding horse and carriage. Remember that May is bike month in New York City and there are lots of rides, events and even riding classes planned for kids and adults. A bicycle cruise through Central Park for views of Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, and the Shakespearean Garden is worth the $35 fee. Includes bike rental, helmet and tour guide. 2 Columbus Circle, 58th Street and Broadway, 212-541-8759.

All that walking and riding will surely stimulate the family appetite. No excuse for stomach pangs in New York City with the Enthusiastic Gourmet offering eating tours of Chinatown, Little Italy and the Lower East Side. Learn a little New York neighborhood history while sampling food from a variety of restaurants, bakeries and food stores. Dim sum, linguini with clams, or bagel and lox, no culinary whim will go unsatisfied. For meeting points and schedule information call 646-409-4724.

After glutting, a nap at the hotel might be the ticket. Maybe Mom can slip out for some shopping. That’s right. And how deny her this, in New York City, the shopper’s mecca? Mom may or may not know that there’s more to shopping in Manhattan than deluxe boutiques and glitzy department stores. For a walk on the bargain side she might want to take the Elegant Tightwad Tour. This excursion hits classy but non-bankrupting shopping destinations. 800-808-4614.

Later, take in a Broadway show, or make some starlit family memories with the Harbor Lights Cruise on the deck of the relaxing Circle Line. See the world’s most famous skyline at night, and a close-up and shadowy view of the Statue of Liberty (who never sleeps, you know). Manhattan. Pier 83, West 42nd St. at 12th Avenue, 212-563-3200.

The Best Family-Friendly NYC Hotels

The Loews Regency New York enjoys a loyal following that has become increasingly rare in modern times. The Regency NY can credit both its stately, contemporary style and its excellent staff for this devotion. Take advantage of their Loews Loves Kids program which features special gift bags, children’s menus, availability for cribs and rollaway beds, and mini-bars stocked with child-friendly snacks, plus favorites from Dylan’s Candy Store. The program even has something for tweens and teens, including two music download cards, and a lending library of DVD players, board games and more.

To experience the exciting, fast-paced, sensory symphony that is Manhattan, few places are better than Times Square. To experience that same electric atmosphere, but with a quiet place to retire at the end of the day, few hotels are better than the 4 star Crowne Plaza New York. The hotel itself is modern in design, with each room offering awe-inspiring views and a quiet respite at day’s end. The hotel has an indoor pool, a rarity in NYC, and we are offering fantastic rates for the season.

From its dazzling lobby replete with enormous chandeliers to its grand staircase and soaring 55-storey tower, The New York Palace is the epitome of Manhattan opulence. The historic Villard Mansion houses the public spaces of the hotel, while the modern glass tower behind it contains the more contemporary guestrooms. Family trips usually involve the daunting task of finding two connecting rooms, but this hotel offers many double bedded room types, and breath-taking views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

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Boston: Les Misérables

March 13 – April 1, 2012

Composer Claude-Michel Schönberg’s passionate musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables returns to the stage for two weeks at the Boston Opera House. One of the longest running shows in Broadway history, Tony and Olivier Award winning, this poignant tale of French convict Jean Valjean remains a crowd favorite with multi-generational appeal. This is the 25th anniversary revival of the Boublil and Schönberg masterpiece, re-orchestrated and brought back onstage by acclaimed producer Cameron Mackintosh.

Les Misérables is a larger-than-life epic that recounts the tribulations and triumphs of Jean Valjean. After doing 19 years of hard time for stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean leaves the chain-gang only to find that freedom is equally brutal and remorseless. Shown unexpected kindness by a bishop, he builds a new life and false identity under the scrutiny of the villainous policeman Javert, one of the more compelling stage antagonists of recent years.


This anniversary production has been retooled: story sharpened, music tweaked, staging reconsidered. A new set design inspired by Victor Hugo’s artworks projects a bruised colour-palette bleeding into shadow, evoking a grim industrial slum. Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyricist Herbert Kretzmer are masters at building soaring ensemble numbers, as the inspired finale of Act I, ‘One Day More,’ attests.

Relive the show tune standards that made Les Misérables famous, such as ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, ‘On My Own,’, ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’, ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ and of course ‘One Day More’.  The New York Times calls it an “unquestionably spectacular production from start to finish.”

Catch ‘Les Mis’ this spring at the Boston Opera House, March 13 to April 1, 2012. 539 Washington Street  Boston, MA 02111, (617) 259-3400

WHERE TO STAY: The Taj Boston Hotel boasts one of the most scenic addresses in Boston’s Back Bay. Bordered on one side by the Public Garden and on the other side by fashionable Newbury Street, and only a short walk away from the Opera House, the 4 star Taj Boston promises to create a luxury hotel experience like no other.

Awarded with the coveted Green Seal Silver Certification, the luxury Nine Zero Hotel has met a rigorous set of environmental standards including recycling, energy and water conservation and much more. Situated in the heart of downtown Boston, Nine Zero Boston, a Kimpton Hotel is a stunning 4 star boutique property and the ideal getaway for any traveler whether visiting for business or leisure.

The Fairmont Copley Plaza, also close to The Opera House, boasts 21-foot high gilded coffered ceilings and beautifully ornate detailing.  This 4.5 star landmark has been the recipient of the coveted AAA Four Diamond Award every year since 1997, a true testament to the hotel’s refined elegance and gracious service. Stay with us for fantastic rates.

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The mention of Santa Monica conjures images of languid movie stars, oceanfront estates, kitschy theme parks, and freakish natural beauty. Santa Monica Beach, a silky stretch of white sand just off the bluff of Ocean Boulevard, beckons surfers and sun-worshippers. Miles of soft sand and mild waves soothe the hectic mind. But Santa Monica isn’t just a Lotus Land of sun and sand peppered with tanned celebrities. People aren’t just lying around like lizards on the beach (though many are). Make no mistake: this is, despite the apparent languor, a body-conscious, body-friendly zone, a place of muscular activity, where physical exertion, fitness, and beauty form its core principles.

Which is to say, not everyone tools around Santa Monica in Kodachrome Ferraris. Many locals and visitors alike rollerblade, wind-skate, jog, walk, and bike everywhere, for pleasure or lifestyle choice. Miles of bike paths circle and crisscross the city. Palisades Park, a 25-acre sprawl of palm trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is a Mecca for bikers, hikers, walkers, yogis and voyeurs taking in the Muscle Beach exhibition.

Behind Ocean Boulevard, parallel to the beach, lies the pedestrian-friendly Third Street Promenade, a two mile jaunt of shops and eateries where vehicles are prohibited and the exercise will justify a seaside feast. At the end of historic Route 66 looms the Santa Monica Pier and its Ferris wheel, roller coaster and merry-go-round. Acrobats and circus clowns will keep you on your toes, and live evening music will drive you to dance. All of this taking place some 30 feet above the lapping blue of the Pacific.

Just a short bike ride or power-walk south down the bike path brings you to mythical Muscle Beach, the Medina of the body beautiful, where young Arnold Schwarzenegger used to strut his rhomboids before branching off into other forms of posing, and Venice Boardwalk, that catwalk of beach culture, kitsch, trinkets, tasty grub and breezy bars.

WHERE TO STAY: The Hotel Oceana sits right on Ocean Avenue in a presitgious residential area, just steps from Santa Monica Beach, Palisades Park and Third Street Promenade. Stay with us for a complimentary upgrade and waived service feeds which includes use of pool, fitness center, beach cruiser bicycles, WiFi, newspaper and local calls.

Shutters on the Beach is one of only two hotels right on the sandy shores of Santa Monica. Enjoy a full gamut of amenities from an intimate outdoor pool deck with a heated pool, whirlpool spa, poolside cabanas, chaise lounges, offers the ideal place to lay back and relax while listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves lapping up on the shore.

The Hotel Casa Del Mar is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the Pacific, a cozy retreat on a chilly evening, your first stop and your last.  This 5 star boutique luxury hotel offers the ambience of a modern California beach club while paying homage to the original grandeur and Renaissance aesthetic that has made it a favorite for both Santa Monica elites and discerning travelers alike.

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March 17th, 2012

Boston St. Patrick's Day

Besides Dublin itself, you couldn’t pick a better city than Boston to observe St. Patrick’s Day. With its deep Irish roots and resonant Irish mythos, Boston remains one of the top destinations around the world for St. Patrick’s Day. From the South Boston parade to pub crawls, Irish music, the Irish Heritage Trail, no Celtic stone is left unturned in Beantown’s full-blooded St. Paddy’s Day celebrations.

Get into the mood with The Chieftains on Wednesday, Mar 14 8:00 p.m. at Boston Symphony Hall. The six-time Grammy winners have garnered world fame playing traditional Irish music. Paddy Moloney and band return for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day bash and a prelude to the Guinness tsunami.

Speaking of which, this year the World’s Largest Pub Crawls hopes to make history yet again in Boston. Up to the challenge? Join the Luck of the Irish St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl, enlisting some of Boston’s best bars, and offering great drink specials. With its surfeit of pubs, cocktail lounges, and hotels, Boston’s bar scene is considered one of the liveliest in the U.S. and exploring it on your own is an option. Compact, walkable, culturally rich, metropolitan Boston offers an A-Z of quality drinking establishments.

Start with ALIBI, a smooth lounge bar housed in the stylish Liberty Hotel (215 Charles Street). The hotel was once the Charles Street Jail, and Alibi retains remnants of its earlier incarnation with prison bars and floor outlines of old cells. And, as the name suggests, DRINK (348 Congress Street) is a bar that celebrates the wet stuff in all its variations, and tops the list for creative cocktails in Boston. Want to dress up? Try the elegant Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons (200 Boylston Street), or the low-lit Vox Populi (755 Boylston), appointed with with inviting banquettes. Later, walk on the wild side to The Franklin Café (278 Shawmut Avenue), a cultish late-night neighbourhood café bar where local chefs and waiters wind down—so it has quality grub too.

And what would St. Patrick’s Day be without a parade? The City of Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place on Sunday March 18 1:00 p.m. at Broadway MBTA Station. Bring your shamrocks and shillelaghs. And if you’re in town for the week don’t miss the 13th Annual Irish Film Festival, taking place March 22 – March 25, 2012 at the Somerville Theater, Somerville and the Brattle Theater, Cambridge.

WHERE TO STAY: The Back Bay Hotel is a historical landmark in the city of Boston. Once a former Police Station, the Back Bay Hotel is a one-of-a-kind 4 star boutique property in Back Bay, one of the most sought after locations in all of Boston with nearby attractions including Newbury Street, Boston Common and the Public Gardens.

The Onyx Hotel offers contemporary style, complimentary wine receptions every evening and is a pet-friendly hotel. Only minutes from Faneuil Hall and the North Station, the luxury Onyx Hotel Downtown Boston has been awarded with the coveted Green Seal Silver Certification. Book with us for incredible rates during the month of March.

Enjoy a 5 star stay at the Boston Harbor Hotel. An architectural masterpiece, The Boston Harbor Hotel is conveniently located on the historic Rowes Wharf, one of the most scenic locations in the city. Inspiration from its surroundings and of the area’s colonial past, filters seamlessly in to the hotel and is visible in both the public spaces and spacious guestrooms.

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Lake Michigan will be Green on March 17th!

Sláinte! No city in the world does St. Patrick’s Day quite like Chicago. With its green river, green beer, and week long schedule of festivities, you won’t find a richer, greener celebration of St. Patrick’s Day this side of Ireland. Chicago’s St. Paddy’s Week kicks off Sunday, March 11th, 7:00 p.m. at the Chicago Irish American Heritage Center with Irish Dance Chicago. Over 150 local step dancers will hoof it Riverdance-style. Or check out Gaelic Storm Friday & Saturday, March 11th & 13th at the House of Blues. Made famous as the Celtic party band in the film Titanic, Gaelic Storm returns to Chicago with their lively medley of Irish drinking songs.

In a singular tradition, the Chicago River will be dyed Kelly Green on Saturday March 17, starting at 10:00 A.M. The best place to view this year will be between Columbus and Wabash. The Parade begins at noon on Saturday, March 17th. Head to the Buckingham Fountain Viewing Stand to see floats, bands, bagpipers, dancers and this year’s Irish Queen and her court. Post-parade, the Irish American Heritage Center puts on a family-oriented festival featuring Irish dance, music and food, as well as children’s activities. This year’s lineup includes Ireland’s Tim O’Shea & Patrick Buckley. And later that day don’t miss the St. Patrick’s Day Fireworks,a 10-minute pyrotechnic show on theChicagolakefront, synchronized to traditional Celtic tunes and modern Irish music.

On Wednesday, March 16th, 7:30 p.m. Chicago’s Symphony Center hosts “Make Them Hear You,” Celtic entertainment with a narration by actor, Martin Sheen, and stirring performances by Metropolis Symphony Orchestra, Old St. Patrick’s Concert Choir and Trinity Irish Dancers & Vocalists.

Of course, when St. Patrick’s Day finally arrives you’ll want to check out Chicago’s brilliant pubs. You’re likely to find a legit Irish pub on just about any corner. But for the best in corned beef, cabbage and beer, try one of these:

Avondale: Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant, 3471 N. Elston.

Beverly: Keegan’s Pub, 10618 S. Western.

Gold Coast: Butch McGuires Tavern, 20 W. Division.

Lincoln Park: Halsted Harp, 2138 N. Halsted.

River North: Celtic Crossings, 751 N. Clark.

River North: Fado Irish Pub,100 W. Grand.

Streeterville: Lizzie McNeill’s 400 N. McClurg.

And to nurse your hangover next morning, Chicago has a superabundance of superb breakfast and brunch joints, coffee shops and quiet, dimly lit cafés. So let ‘er rip.

WHERE TO STAY: Towering above the Chicago skyline lies the Trump International Chicago Hotel. As North America’s 2nd tallest building, the 5 star hotel will make you feel luxurious during any stay. With floor to ceiling windows, many of which face Michigan River, it is the only hotel with unprecendented views of the St. Patrick’s Day river event! Book with us now for complimentary upgrades.

The Hotel Palomar, a Kimpton Hotel is only a few blocks from the River event and is a favorite among our clients. Enjoy creative cocktails on-site at Sable Bar and Restaurant, made famous by their in-house mixologists. This 4.5 star hotel includes a heated indoor pool and sundeck and fitness center, and is eco and pet-friendly.

Hotel Sax Chicago is a 4 star hotel is located on State Street and the Chicago River, one block from the Chicago Loop and next to the world-famous House of Blues. Visit their Crimson Lounge for enchanting nightlife offering bottle service, DJ-driven music beats, and a diverse cocktail menu.

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March 17th, 2012

Kids at New York City St. Patrick's Day

On St. Patrick’s Day the streets of Manhattan fill up with green-clad revelers from near and far. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and a visit to the nearest Irish pub works for most traditionalists. Others know that St. Patrick’s Day in New York means more than parades and green beer. But first, the parade. This yearly tradition of bagpipes, clan tartans and green hats began on the streets of Manhattan in 1762 and has not relented since. The 2012 parade kicks off at 11 a.m. at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue.

After the parade, stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a traditional mass, or scope out the architecture before hitting one of New York’s fine pubs. For an old-school experience, start with McSorley’s (15 E 7th Street), New York’s longest running saloon. Take in the history, the sawdust-covered floors, and the ghosts of Prohibition. Choose from two kinds of beer—McSorley’s Light or McSorley’s Dark—and belly up. There are no stools.

For a cozier experience, try Molly’s Pub & Restaurant (287 3rd Avenue), a traditional Irish pub with plush chairs and a log-burning fireplace, famous for its Shepherd’s Pie and well-foamed pints of Guinness. The Swift Bar (34 East 4th Street) offers one of the city’s finest draft selections. Named after Irish author Jonathan Swift, the pub has church-pew booths and a mural that pays homage to its namesake. Paddy Maguire’s Ale House (237 3rd Avenue) boasts the largest pint of Guinness below 20th Street. Original doors from Ireland authenticate the experience.

More serious imbibers might enjoy Saint Paddy’s Pub Crawl Saturday, March 17, when thousands of sudsers hit more than 100 pubs across five miles in three days. Tickets: $15 per day of crawling. For a brief reprieve from drinking, an evening with The Pogues, that most Irish of groups, is the ticket. The Pogues return to New York for an all-ages show that will include drunken sing-a-longs and non-traditional Irish dancing. Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street. 7 p.m.

If you’re seeking a more refined St. Patrick’s Day celebration visit the Irish Arts Center on Sunday March 18 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. for a free, family-friendly afternoon of authentic Irish music, dance, song, language and crafts. Join the workshops or take in the performances and activities. Reserve through

And if you want to forgo the green beer and Celtic arts for good Irish cooking, Gourmet St. Patrick’s Day at 9 (800 9th Avenue) features reinterpreted Irish classics like corned beef & potato ravioli with corned beef consommé, and green potato risotto with asparagus.

WHERE TO STAY: The 4 star Waldorf-Astoria hotel is near the parade route, and is known as one of the quintessential New York hotels. World-renowned for over a century, Waldorf Astoria’s grace and elegance is enhanced by its deep-rooted history. From Waldorf Salad to countless depictions in film, engulf yourself in Old World New York atmosphere. Book with us for a complimentary upgrade before March 31st, 2012.

For a more luxurious experience, located on the top floors of Waldorf Astoria, Waldorf Towers are the crème de la crème of the Waldorf experience. This 4.5 star hotel within a hotel offers guests unsurpassed service, dedicated staff, and a truly gracious New York experience. Enjoy an upgrade on us during select dates this spring.

The 4.5 star Loews Regency Hotel is located on the cusp of both Midtown East and the Upper East Side, guests have access to two of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods. Both new and returning guests feel that they are coming home to Park Avenue and appreciate the consistency they experience at this 4.5 star Upper East Side/Midtown East hotel.

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