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Dancing With Wolves

By Linda Tancs

Feared, loved and hated, the wolf is an apex predator with pride of place in stories, fables and myths. In fact, wolves figure prominently in the mythology of nearly every Native American tribe. You might naturally want to shy away from an encounter with an animal as powerful as this, but that’s far from the case at Norway’s Polar Park. The world’s northernmost animal park, the arctic wildlife centre offers visitors a close encounter with its wolves in an enclosure called WolfVisit. Those meeting basic requirements for entry will have the opportunity to interact with a group of domesticated wolves under the direction of an animal keeper. And in the middle of one of the larger enclosures is a luxury hotel experience called WolfLodge, where oversized windows give you and your furry friends ample opportunity to size each other up. The ambience is particularly spectacular in the winter because the wolves are most active now due to mating season from February to April.

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Lava and Lights

By Linda Tancs

Where everything meets nothing. That’s the way ION Luxury Adventure Hotel pitches its peaceful respite less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavík. The “everything” is the luxury experience that awaits you at this eco-conscious hotel sporting prefab panelized construction that melds with a backdrop of lava fields. Enjoy the pampering, which includes options like a relaxation massage with Icelandic herbs, a warm soak in the sauna and the tranquility of a silent relaxation room. The “nothing” may be a bit of a misnomer, considering the property’s location at the footsteps of the UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, site of a dramatic landscape formed as a result of its locale along the border between the North American and European tectonic plates. That’s part of where the “adventure” in “adventure hotel” comes in. Or you can just relax at the hotel bar, where floor-to-ceiling glass windows will give you spectacular views of the Northern Lights on clear nights.

Ireland’s First School of Falconry

By Linda Tancs

At Ireland’s Ashford Castle in County Mayo you’ll delight in an embarrassment of riches. Dating back to 1228, the glorious castle on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib set amidst 350 acres of ancient woods was once home to the Guinness family and later found fame as the respite of choice for actors in the classic film “The Quiet Man.” Now part of the Red Carnation hotel chain, the five-star property offers luxurious trappings fit for royalty (a common guest), like unique works of art, carefully sourced antique furniture, custom designed carpets and beds and exquisite towels and linens. No wonder, then, that it’s been voted one of the best hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure. Of all the estate’s activities, one of the most exciting is its falconry school. The oldest established school in the country, instruction in this ancient sport requires no previous training. Just the thing when the usual pursuits of golf, tennis, kayaking, boat cruising, horse riding, tennis or fishing just won’t do.

Portobello Gins Up Interest in Hotel

By Linda Tancs

What could be better than ginning up interest in—gin! The opening of a new gin distillery in London, England, might not garner that much interest but for the fact that you can eat, drink and sleep in it! That’s the idea behind a new hotel from the folks at Portobello Road Gin. Opening in November, the new venue (at Portobello Road, where else) will include not only a boutique hotel but also a gin museum, blending rooms, a Spanish style “Gintonic” bar and restaurant, an actual distillery and the “Ginstitute,” a mixologist’s delight. Better book early for this spirited respite.

A Treat in Newark

By Linda Tancs

The Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, New Jersey, is named for Captain Robert Treat, a colonial leader who was the governor of Connecticut and also is known as the founder of Newark. The first hotel in the city listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, it was completed in 1916 and now celebrates 100 years. It’s also the first luxury hotel in Newark, no doubt the draw for the likes of four U.S. presidents, Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein. Thanks to premier area attractions like the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Newark Museum (the state’s largest museum) and the Prudential Center arena, the Park Place jewel is poised to remain a stalwart in the city’s ongoing development and revitalization.

Sicily’s White Elephant

By Linda Tancs

The Grande Hotel San Calogero in Sicily has been waiting for guests for over 60 years. Dubbed the ghost hotel, it stands vacant for decades now thanks to governmental gaffes and design flaws. The 300-bed, five-story hotel was intended to showcase southern Sicily’s Sciacca, a pretty seaside town built on rocky heights that overlook the Mediterranean. Sicily’s white elephant stands atop a rocky outcrop on Monte Kronio, within walking distance of the thermal springs and basilica.

The Height of Luxury in London

By Linda Tancs

You could say that guests of the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard in London enjoy a heady experience.  It is, after all, the tallest hotel in Western Europe–the first of its kind in a London skyscraper, occupying floors 34 to 52 of the glamorous Shard.  The first luxury hotel south of the Thames, the GŎNG bar at its apex will no doubt leave you agog over cityscape views for up to 40 miles.  Add to that a spacious room with floor to ceiling windows and a marble bath for a welcome respite.  Does it live up to its name?  Hardly remote, but idyllic nonetheless.

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