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Why world travelers are going cashless

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What’s your dream vacation? Whether you live to travel or only manage to get away for a couple of long weekends every year, you probably have a bucket list of places to go and sites to see.

Sometimes it feels like there might be too many options.

For some people, it’s adventure travel in Basque Country, exploring the caves of Urkiola, paddle boarding around the Urdaibai Estuary and indulging in world-renowned cuisine; for others, it’s a relaxing vacation in Thailand, including a meditation course, spa day and island hopping through the Phi Phi Islands. Either trip would rejuvenate travelers, yet they are quite different from one another. But no matter where you go in the world, there’s one thing that’s the same: People are going cash-free.

Going cash-free saves money

Part of traveling to a foreign country is exchanging money. With new coins and bills in your pocket, you can spend freely, buy souvenirs, meals, whatever you like.

Research shows that 87 percent of travelers have leftover cash after their trips, so most of us have experienced the mad dash to spend your foreign cash before you board your flight home.

But that doesn’t always happen.

Only 29 percent of travelers convert their foreign cash back to U.S. dollars. On average, this leaves $123 on the table.

That’s a costly souvenir.

Not to mention that getting foreign currency before your trip is just one more thing to do in the pre-planning process. And while 72 percent of respondents in the study said they get cash, many of them also admitted that, with the ease of traveling without cash, it was a waste of time. Skip the cash to save time and money by using your Visa credit card internationally. Plus, you can use your Visa card to pay in local currency, you are ensuring you get a competitive exchange rate and aren’t stuck with hidden currency conversion fees.

Peace of mind

Even if you’re diligent and always exchange your cash at the end of every trip, one of the biggest perks to traveling without cash is security.

Virtually every traveler worries about leaving their money in the hotel room or losing it in some way or another. There’s no easy way around it: Traveling with cash is stressful, and can impact an otherwise great trip.

Why go through the hassle? Accepted nearly everywhere in the world, travelers can use Visa to make purchases with confidence anytime, virtually anywhere in the world. Unlike cash, your Visa card can be replaced if lost or stolen to provide greater freedom for people to enjoy their travel experiences.

Explore the world differently

For travel enthusiasts looking to explore the world cash-free, The Visa Cashless Challenge: International Travel Edition Search will send one lucky winner on a cash-free adventure across the globe. Visa has partnered with Arden Cho (@arden_cho) and brothers Alex and Marko Ayling (@TheVagaBrothers) to create two unique trips that will show the winner what it’s like to travel the world cash free.

The winner of the challenge will choose between a relaxing trip to Thailand or an adventurous journey through Spain’s Basque Country. The winner will have the opportunity to decide between destinations, but once they do, will experience firsthand the ease of traveling cashless in the 21st century, and receive pro-tips on how best to document their journey along the way.

Villas

‘Get Carried Away’ With Luxurious Villa Stays and Complimentary Private Jet Flights

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Mandarin Oriental, Canouan guests travel in style with complimentary private jet flights and accommodations in one of the resort’s new, stylishly spacious Italian-design Patio Villas when booking the Get Carried Away offer.

With a stay of seven nights or more, Get Carried Away includes accommodations in a two or three-bedroom Patio Villa with two complimentary seats on round-trip flights on the resort’s private jet between Canouan Island and Barbados. Also included is VIP airport concierge service in Barbados, a villa butler, private chef services, complimentary WiFi, Pirate Kids’ Club access, watersports, fitness activities and daily honour bar.

Just completed this year, Mandarin Oriental, Canouan’s seven sophisticated, contemporary-style Patio Villas sit on the hillside overlooking Godahl Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Designed by Italian architects from Milan, these luxury residences are made from natural stone, wood and glass and gracefully meld with the surrounding tropical landscape. Each villa features dramatic high ceilings, captivating sea views and a private, ocean-facing outdoor patio with an infinity pool and Jacuzzi. Perfect for families and friends, all Patio Villas have fully-equipped kitchens and come with up to two golf carts.

The Get Carried Away offer is valid from 19 December 2018 through 19 December 2019 with rates starting at USD4,500 plus tax, service charges and Climate Resiliency Levy. This offer is subject to availability and cannot be combined with other offers. Guests are encouraged to confirm the resort’s private jet availability before booking flights between Barbados and their home airport. This is a culmulative offer so guests who book a Patio Villa for 14 nights will receive four round-trip seats on the resort’s private jet.

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Hotels

Westin Hotels & Resorts to Debut in Maldives

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Westin Hotels & Resorts today announced the anticipated opening of the brand’s first hotel in the Republic of Maldives with the opening of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort. Developed by Belluna Co. Ltd, Japan and Asia Capital PLC, Sri Lanka, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort heralds the Westin brand’s wellness positioning in the Maldivian oasis.

“We are thrilled to introduce the Westin brand to the Maldives, strengthening our presence in Asia Pacific,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand and Marketing, Marriott International Asia Pacific. “The opening of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is a significant addition to our portfolio underscoring a transformative and meaningful wellness proposition for travelers, who are increasingly prioritizing well-being even while on the road.”

Stunning Location
Nestled on a beautiful coral island in the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site, guests of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will experience a tranquil escape with uninterrupted ocean and pristine turquoise lagoon views. From the atoll’s most desirable locale, guests are in close proximity to landmarks such as the Hanifaru Bay, which is known for the largest gathering of manta rays globally.

“We look forward to welcoming our guests to discover the charm of the Maldives while at the same time enjoy the unparalleled level of service,” said Brendan Corcoran, General Manager at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort. “Along with the Westin brand’s focus on wellness, we trust that every guest will feel exceptionally relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated during and after their stays.”

Marine Inspired Décor and Modern Appointed Villas
Led by award-winning Milan-based architects PEIA Associati, the resort’s design takes inspiration from the ocean with a visionary approach towards environmental sustainability. All elements of the resort’s design take inspiration from the environment from the use of natural materials, such as unique shells to the movement and flow of marine life including sea turtles and whale sharks, providing guests with a link to the region’s exceptional enchantment. An aerial view of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort reveals an outline in the shape of a fish, a distinctive reflection of the beauty of surrounding marine life; while the arrival jetty is structured to resemble clamshells and the oceans’ waves.

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort features 70 villas and suites, 41 on island and 29 overwater. Each villa is shaped with an eco-friendly double roofing to create the perfect natural ventilation. Outdoor rainforest showers are a distinctive feature. Poised over the sea on stilts and with an area of almost 200 square meters each, the overwater suites are among the largest a resort has to offer in the Baa Atoll region.

Refined Venues, Elevated Experiences
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort presents three unique dining experiences. The Pearl is the resort’s specialty restaurant and is ideal for indulging in exquisite Japanese cuisine with exceptional ocean views The restaurant offers a refined Japanese menu with a focus on seafood and fresh local ingredients. The all-day dining experience at Island Kitchen stays true to the Westin brand’s Eat Well brand pillar through a balanced menu combining Chinese, Indian and Maldivian fare. At Hawker, guests can sample authentic Asian street food with a live kitchen in a casual bustling atmosphere. Adjacent to the Library and overlooking the azure blue Indian Ocean, Sunset Bar is a relaxed lounge serving tapas and imaginative cocktails.

More Ways to Recharge
The idyllic resort also features Westin’s signature branded spa concept, the Heavenly Spa by Westin™ with the latest in beauty treatments. The design of the Spa area exudes an intimate and serene ambience that allows guests to reflect on their destination, including a spacious treatment suite for two with a Jacuzzi and panoramic ocean views. Guests can stay active with the 24-hour WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio sprawled across two levels that features weight machines, free weights, and cardio equipment that faces personal flat-screen televisions; and outdoor pool and recreation ground with tennis, volleyball, basketball options.

Designed to cater to the way modern families travel, the Westin Family Kids Club® offers reimagined family experiences that are tied back to the brand’s wellness positioning for young guests between the ages of 4 – 12 years. Some of the activities includes nature walks, family-style runs and water activities. The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is also well-equipped to play host to distinguished ceremonies or vows renewal with its multifunctional event spaces.

Directly from the beach, guests can explore the house reef with colorful corals and be surrounded by thousands of tropical fish. Miriandhoo is a Turtle sanctuary, and guests can easily and often see turtles nesting along the white beaches. Reef sharks, lionfish, manta rays and often whale sharks all reside in the Baa Atoll. The stunning experience of the underwater world can be explored while snorkeling, diving, fishing and parasailing.

Additional on-site facilities of the resort include a PADI dive centre and a boutique store.

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Destinations

Rediscover Istanbul: Last Step in Europe, First Step in Asia

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Housed in a century-old neoclassical Turkish prison, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet offers a genuine Istanbul experience just a few steps from city’s important landmarks in Sultanahmet with the Suite Authentic luxury accommodation package. One can escape to Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet to indulge in a memorable Istanbul experience in fall enjoying city’s mild climate, historical attractions surrounding the Hotel, cultural events and festivals, last but not least various shopping alternatives including designer labels and traditional souvenirs. Set in the historical peninsula, the Hotel is neighbour to the city’s most significant souks such as Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Although Istanbul has become a year-round destination, fall is a perfect season to enjoy city’s magnificent vistas, traditional shopping stops and designer shops. It is also an ideal time to discover the art scene in the city, such as Contemporary Istanbul, Akbank Jazz Festival or Istanbul Design Biennale. Designed to offer multiple delights to visitors of Istanbul, the Suite Authentic accommodation package includes daily American breakfast in Seasons Restaurant or through In-Room Dining for two and offers 30 percent off the room rate.

The Hotel’s beautifully designed suites relate directly to the rich history and layers of Istanbul, offering a strong sense of place with their breathtaking views of the manicured courtyard as well as St. Sophia and Blue Mosque. With one of the most authentic and one-of-a-kind suite collections in Istanbul, guests can choose from an impressive Executive Suite to two Presidential Suites, St. Sophia and Marmara, each containing a living room with fireplace, dining area for 6-8 guests and three private terraces offering exceptional city views. In their intimate residential setting, guests can truly make themselves at home – whether they wish to lounge around in the living area or enjoy a magnificent Old Town silhouette from their balcony.

Inspired from Istanbul’s heritage, the interior design in suites reflects the footsteps of past empires. Understated Four Seasons elegance and the mysticism of Old Town show itself in the tiny details of each suite. This indigenous indulgence is now offered to ensure a luxury accommodation at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. the Suite Authentic accommodation package is valid for three-night minimum stays until March 31, 2019.

Not-to-Miss Attractions in Old Town

Visit Spice Bazaar and Covered Bazaar: Home to the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world, Istanbul boasts a vibrant and unforgettable shopping scene. More than 4,000 shops on 58 streets feature goods and fine crafts from all over Turkey and beyond, and the Grand Bazaar is one big Aladdin’s cave.

Go underground at the Basilica Cistern: The Basilica Cistern is the largest of the ancient underground water cisterns found across Istanbul.

Visit Hagia Sophia: One of the most visited museums and most prominent monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture, Hagia Sophia should be at the top of a to-see list for Istanbul. Do not miss the upstairs gallery to catch the best views and to glimpse the surviving mosaics, in particular the golden mosaic of the Virgin and Child in the apse.

Visit the Blue Mosque: Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque’s two most striking features are its six minarets and blue domed exterior.

Get a taste of royal life at Topkapi Palace: Topkapi Palace is the largest royal residence in Istanbul and it served as the main residence to the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

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