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Beirut: Summer’s Top 10 Picks

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Four Seasons Hotel Beirut Chef Concierge Roxane Fersane shares this season’s top ten picks and other suggestions for shopping, dining, activities and more, to make your stay in Beirut this summer a memorable one.

1. Hike and Swim in Jannet Chouwen Valley and River

Hike a swim in the splendid wild nature of Jannet Chouwen valley and river, located 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Beirut. Jannet Chouwen is one of the most picturesque places in Jbeil Caza. Experience the pleasure of hiking in majestic nature, mixed forests with oak, pine and many other plant species, until you reach the lake. There you can relax under the shade of the trees or swim in the clean transparent water.

2. Explore the Lebanese Coast by Boat

Get out of the comfortable confines of your room at Four Seasons Hotel Beirut and into the sunshine and sea breeze of the Mediterranean Sea. A boat trip along the Lebanese coast is the ultimate backdrop to your vacation and a great way to experience some of the best attraction spots in Lebanon such as the Pigeon Rocks, Jounieh Bay and Byblos, while allowing the country’s breathtaking scenery to unfold before your eyes.

3. Visit the Baatara Gorge Waterfall

The Baatara gorge sinkhole is a waterfall in Tannourine near Balaa and a popular destination for nature lovers as well as outdoor enthusiasts. The waterfall drops 255 metres (835 feet) into the Baatara Pothole, a cave of Jurassic limestone located on the Lebanon Mountain Trail. Make sure to visit during the warm season while the bridges are in full bloom.

4. Discover Al Shouf Cedar Reserve

With an area of 550 square kilometres (210 square miles), Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is the largest nature reserve in the Middle East and is an important bird and eco-tourism area. It hosts 32 species of wild mammals, 200 species of birds and 500 species of plants. Hike in the forest and admire its beautiful species or rent a bicycle from the Shouf Biosphere Reserve and cycle along the trail.

5. Take a Day Trip to Zahlé

Zahlé is the capital of the Bekaa Governorate. This city is famous for its pleasant climate, numerous riverside restaurants and quality arak. The main attractions of Zahlé and surroundings are the numerous wineries and vineyards, most of which offer free tours and wine tasting. Don’t miss having lunch at Tawlet Ammiq, an eco-friendly restaurant that celebrates food and traditions by supporting small-scale farmers and producers.

6. Shop for Souvenirs at Orient 499

An enchanting boutique in Clemenceau, Orient 499 showcases the finest of local and regional handicraft with a modernised twist. When visiting Orient 499 you feel like travelling the region – there are goods from Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, select fabrics and objects from India, linen from Belgium and Italy, glassware from Turkey and Sarafand in South Lebanon. Transcending time, Orient 499 is your go-to address for some Oriental souvenirs.

7. Escape Beirut’s Heat at Le Montagnou

The summer season in Beirut always promises to be quite sizzling. For those of you who prefer to head to the mountains to beat the excessive Beirut heat, Le Montagnou offers a cool mountain refuge with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Spend the day relaxing by the infinity pool surrounded by spectacular landscape, and watch the sun set while sipping on your favorite drink. Your day could not end any better.

8. Have a Tasty Lebanese Meal by the Sea at Jammal

A wonderful fish restaurant right on the sea in north Lebanon, with a beautiful setting in a tiny bay. Jammal serves high-class fresh seafood, including exquisite cold and hot mezze and salads. Their outdoor terrace almost touches the sea and there is a little spot for sun tanning and swimming.

9. Visit Tahet El Rih – The Little Greece Of Lebanon

A simplified replica of Greek islands with white and turquoise wooden cabins and chalets overlooking the Mediterranean, Tahet El Rih public beach, located in Anfeh, a little over an hour from Beirut, offers crystal-clear waters – ideal for swimming, snorkeling and deep-sea diving – and an array of delicious little cafés, with Lebanese mezze, sea views and beach access, perfect for a chilled day under the sun.

10. Experience Summer Music Festivals

With summer being the busiest season of the year, Lebanon hosts several large festivals headlining big name acts, including Lebanese and international performers. Extending over several weeks, these internationally renowned events are held at major historical sites, including Baalbek and Beiteddine, providing a spectacular backdrop for performers and unforgettable moments for you.

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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Destinations

Shop like a local in Guadalajara

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As one of Mexico’s top artisanal hubs, Guadalajara offers the best in culture, cuisine and shopping. Travelers can find everything from expertly crafted pottery to luxe leather goods in unique markets throughout the city. For those who travel the world in search of the best locally-produced, stylish souvenirs, Guadalajara provides the ultimate in retail therapy in a vibrant, festive atmosphere — after all, this is the birthplace of mariachi, tequila, and charrería, the Mexican rodeo!

Follow these tips for shopping, eating, and playing like a local in Guadalajara, and you are sure to leave with as many memories as one-of-a-kind purchases.

Largest indoor market in Latin America

Visitors to the historic center of Guadalajara will enjoy sightseeing with a backdrop of the beautiful architecture of the double-spired Guadalajara Cathedral. This area is home to Mercado Libertad, the largest indoor market in Latin America with three floors and nearly 3,000 stands featuring everything from apparel and handbags to fresh produce and local delicacies. Stop for a meal or browse endless options. Mexican cowboys, known locally as charros, frequent leather vendors in search of saddles, boots, and belts. Across the street in the jewelry market, gold and silver pieces will add just the right Mexican accent to your wardrobe.

The perfect pair

Fashionistas rejoice. Whether it is pumps or loafers, sandals or sneakers you seek, Guadalajara is the place to find the perfect pair of shoes. Make a beeline to Galería del Calzado, a shopping center focused exclusively on your feet. Choose from 64 stores offering everything from jaw-dropping high fashion designs to the hottest streetwear trends.

Galleries galore

In the colonial town of Tlaquepaque, local arts and crafts fill market showrooms and upscale stores where you will find carved wooden furniture, colorful blown glass ceramics and hand-stitched clothing. The downtown area retains the traditional structure of a small Mexican community with a parish street, central market, main square, and many pedestrian-only streets, making this a good place to take a stroll. Catch the daily mariachi performances at the local restaurants and cantinas, some with outdoor seating perfect for people watching.

Bargain hunting

Some of the best bargains can be found among Tonalá’s narrow streets, where most of Guadalajara’s local goods can be purchased. In this neighborhood, you can find some of the best crafts in the country. This includes wide-mouth clay bowls designed to serve a cazuela cocktail, Guadalajara’s signature citrus punch. The area is particularly known for silver and gold crafts, hand-painted pottery, paper-mâché, and clay figurines. On Thursdays and Sundays, bargain-priced merchandise is sold at a vast street market where wholesalers arrive from all over the country to buy in bulk.

Lap of luxury

In the district of Zapopan, the Andares Mall offers shoppers top-of-the-line luxury brands. After a day of shopping, join the locals as they enjoy a pedestrian corridor filled with high-end restaurants and bars near the basilica.

Nature’s products

Just outside of Guadalajara are sprawling agave fields, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the world’s tequila is produced. Drive past fields of the blue agave plant that stretch out over the rugged, hilly terrain, en route to the town of Tequila. After visiting the distilleries and purchasing bottles to serve back home, peruse smaller shops and stalls for necklaces and earrings crafted using blue agave leaves, agave syrup, and figurines made from the obsidian of the nearby volcano.

For more information on Guadalajara, visit www.visitguadalajara.com.

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Destinations

Why Myrtle Beach is the perfect fall vacation for families

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When it comes to vacation planning, millennial families with young children have the edge over school-aged families — no strict school schedules to obey!

Take advantage of this flexibility while you can, and plan your escape to Myrtle Beach. This oceanside city along the beautiful South Carolina coastline features just about everything families with young children are looking for: family fun, engaging and interactive attractions, delicious food and relaxing places to chill out. Bonus: Now that school is in session, you’ll escape the summer crowds.

To help you plan, here are some of the things that await in Myrtle Beach.

Budget-friendly fun: As promised in the name, Myrtle Beach is the place to make oceanside memories: building sand castles, hunting for seashells and delighting in their giggles as the waves lap their little toes. As it turns out, fall is one of the best times of year to have that beach vacation without breaking the bank. Look for deep discounts and special lodging packages at hotels and resorts. While you search for fun things to do, be on the lookout for exclusive fall promotions. For example, Visit Myrtle Beach is offering a complimentary children’s beach photo session, which will create the perfect keepsake for your getaway.

Beautiful “summer” weather: Even if you feel a nip in the air in your region, the fall weather in South Carolina is still ideal for exploring wide open spaces and enjoying outdoor activities. Brookgreen Gardens features the Lowcountry Zoo, which houses animals in spaces as close to their natural habitat as possible. You’ll definitely want to get way up high and see the beaches and water stretch off into forever from atop the SkyWheel, a 200-foot Ferris wheel that’s right on the beach.

Enriching fun: Myrtle Beach has plenty of kid-friendly places to interact and build new connections to this wide, wonderful world. Kids can get an up-close look at the colorful fish and other sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium. After hearing stories about farm life in their favorite picture books, they can see the real thing at the L.W. Paul Living History Farm. Finally, WonderWorks Science Center has more than 100 hands-on exhibits that are designed to both thrill and teach children a thing or two about science.

Peaceful pursuits: While you’re enjoying all this family time (and seeing the smiles on those little faces), be sure to make time for the grownups to enjoy themselves, too, with solo outings at some point in the trip. All around Myrtle Beach you’ll find lots of options to chill and recharge, whether it’s a well-deserved spa treatment or discovering your new favorite wine at a tasting. We’ll lose the thought with this vision of heaven: You and your family relaxing along the seashore seashore. No one’s cranky, no one’s hungry, just … aaaaaaah!

For more ideas and inspiration to plan your fall family vacation to Myrtle Beach, visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.

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