Hong Kong Will Ring In The New Year In Style

Hong Kong welcomes the New Year with fireworksWith the New Year nearly upon us, I’m sure many of you have already made plans for how you will be celebrating its arrival. But visitors to Hong Kong are in for a particular treat this year, as the city welcomes 2013 with an impressive display of fireworks that will also mark the culmination of its annual WinterFest celebration.

Hong Kong’s New Years Eve celebration has become legendary for its festive atmosphere that rivals any other on the planet. Hundreds of thousands of people will line the beautiful and iconic Victoria Harbor in anticipation of the start of another year and to witness an amazing pyrotechnic display that is timed to begin just as the clock strikes midnight. This year, the eight-minute fireworks display will be launched from both land and sea for the first time, giving visitors an experience like none other. That display will be synchronized with a sweeping musical accompaniment that has been written specifically for the celebration.

Obviously if you’re not already in Hong Kong, it will be difficult to join in on the festivities there, but it is not too early to start planning a visit for next year. The city’s New Year’s Eve bash is one of the best in the world and is well worth planning a trip around. I recommend arriving plenty early in order to enjoy WinterFest as well, as that annual event is a fantastic way to enjoy the holiday season. The festival is a mix of world-class shopping and culinary delights that is sure to please.

[Photo Credit: Kroot via WikiMedia]


Hangover Cures: A Global Primer

elephantNew Year’s Eve is fast approaching, so what better time to provide a list of hangover cures from around the world? Our friends at Alice Marshall Public Relations in New York asked some of their clients about local versions of hair-of-the-dog. Unsurprisingly, the preferred remedies all have a distinctly regional flavor. Here’s to a headache-and-nausea-free January 1!

St. Barts
On this notorious party island, the secret is to stay awake. Pull an all-nighter, and when “the bakery” in St. Jean opens, score a croissant straight out of the oven. Devour it, cross the street and jump into the ocean.

Thailand
Although I’ve found coconut water to be the best hangover helper in existence, Thailand has a more original cure. According to the Anantara Golden Triangle resort, Black Ivory Coffee (aka elephant dung coffee, which I believe puts kopi luwak to shame) is what does the trick. Elephants feed on coffee beans, which then ferment in their gastrointestinal tract.

The beans are then plucked out by the mahouts (elephant keepers) and their wives, roasted, and sold for approximately $1,100 per kilogram. But wait, there’s more! Eight percent of all sales are donated to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. No reason is given for why this cure supposedly helps, but I’m thinking this folklore is full of … you know.
coconut waterMaldives
As if being in the glorious Maldives weren’t cure enough, Naladhu luxury resort has my kind of cure in mind (that’s me, right, killing a hangover in Mexico). They provide queasy guests with fresh coconut water from their own groves. All those electrolytes along with potassium stop hangovers in their tracks.

Cape Town
According to chef Reuben Riffel of One&Only Cape Town, a swank urban resort, you need to drink yourself better. His solution is an alcohol-free tonic consisting of one cup of chilled Rooibos tea (an indigenous plant), a half-cup ginger ale, and 1 ounce of lemongrass simple syrup. Top with soda water, and a dash of Angostura bitters.

Santa Fe
After many visits to Santa Fe, I’ll swear by the local’s cure for a long night. A green chile cheeseburger is the prescription, although I’d add that a bowl of great posole, green chile, or a breakfast burrito also work wonders.

Nantucket
Nantucket Island Resorts recommends a brisk swim in Nantucket Sound, followed by a visit to Brant Point Grill for a Lobster Bloody Mary and lobster kabobs. Now we’re talking.

Have a safe, happy, hangover-free New Year’s!

[Photo credits: elephant, Flickr user rubund; coconut, Laurel Miller]

Intrigued by Black Ivory Coffee? Watch this video!


Top Holiday Travel Destinations: Where To Go And Where To Avoid (If You Can)

orlando mapWe all know that holiday travel can be a nightmare, with everyone and their mother flying home for the holidays. This holiday season will be particularly difficult, with both Christmas and New Year’s falling just after a weekend, meaning that many travelers will opt to maximize holiday vacation with multiple trips.

But where are most people headed? It seems like warm weather is a major draw. Orlando beat out New York and Chicago for the most searched holiday destination, according to KAYAK, and Florida is the number-one trending destination overall.

Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando flight searches increased between 14% – 26% from last year. Unfortunately for those heading to the Sunshine State, data also shows the average airfare to Orlando this holiday season jumped just over 13% from last year. Phoenix is also showing a fairly large rise in airfare, 10.3% on average higher than it was at this time last year.

What about New Year’s Eve? It looks like the Times Square crowd wins, with New York capturing the top slot, with Las Vegas a close second and Orlando a third-place winner. But if you’re looking to fly, avoid Orlando, which, along with Seattle has a 9% YOY increase in price. Other destinations to pass on? Honolulu (16% gain) and Cancun (10% gain).

Will you be traveling to any of these places? Did you get a good deal?

[Image credit: chadmiller]

Luxury Travel: Your $100,000 a night New Years Eve package at Gansevoort Turks & Caicos

gansevoort turks and caicosWant to really live it up to ring in 2012? Consider Gansevoort Turks & Caicos’ “Fully Loaded” New Year’s Eve Package for the oh-so-affordable rate of $100,000 per couple per night. For this sum, you’ll enjoy:

  • Luxury accommodations in the Oceanfront Penthouse Suite
  • Private Gansevoort jet service to and from Providenciales with private luxury transfers
  • Complimentary Bloody Mary “conchtails” upon arrival
  • Gourmet bar & kitchen pre-stocked with requested favorites
  • Exhale Spa therapist and instructor on-call for daily class/treatment (massage, yoga, core fusion, etc)
  • VIP pool and beach service and seating
  • Luxury Catamaran Excursion with Seaplane drop off on secluded cove including:
  • Personal chef to prepare private dinner on island
  • Personal conch diving instructor to escort you on your conch adventure
  • Personal underwater videographer to capture and prepare home videos upon departure
  • Unlimited use of water toys (jet skis, water skiing, etc)
  • Overnight “glamping” in luxury tent complete with high thread count sheets, cashmere blankets and a real bed!

We’re pretty sure this sounds awesome, although if you excluded the private jet service, $100,000 a night sounds like a rather steep price. What do you think – would you ever book this lavish package?

Video of the day: a goaty guide to pronouncing foreign cheeses

The holidays are Cheese Season. At no other time of the year are cheese and specialty food shops as thronged by dairy-seeking customers. They’re hungry for a fix or searching for a gift, recipe ingredient, or the makings of a cheese plate. Cheese is love, and one of the easiest, most elegant ways to kick off a cocktail party or conclude (or make) a memorable meal.

With that in mind, the folks at Culture: the word on cheese magazine (full disclosure: I’m a contributing editor) have produced this clever (and utterly adorable) video to aid you in pronouncing some of those delectable but tricky foreign cheeses from France, Spain, and Switzerland. Happy Hoch Ybrig, everyone!