The Indonesian island of Bali is steeped in history and ritual. Every day, the Balinese leave canang sari (or offerings of flowers, money and food) at temples, on shrines or even outside their own homes in the hopes that good fortune will smile upon their families. Despite the bombings last year in Kuta and Kimbaran, Bali is not a paradise lost. Its gorgeous climate, pristine beaches and rich volcanic soil create a blissful destination where orchids are fragrant and the fruits are sweet and plentiful. And because tourism plays such a big part in its economy, many businesses have slashed their prices to lure Westerners. Many high-end wood carving shops and jewelry boutiques will offer discounts without haggling for a deal.


SINGAPORE — As an international port of call, Singapore is the embarking point for many top-end cruise lines, such as the Regent Seven Seas voyage through Australasia. And savvy travelers looking to overcome jet lag before boarding their cruise ships are starting their trips off in Singapore, where they can get their bearings and enjoy a few days basking in a shopper’s paradise. Fashionistas in the know will tell you that Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive has nothing on Singapore’s tony Orchard Road. A shopping mecca sprinkled with designer boutiques like Prada, Gucci and Versace, Orchard Road is the place to browse, whether you’re hunting for that perfect couture gown or something au courant to wear to one of the city’s oh-so trendy restaurants.

Shopping in Melbourne

Kylie Minogue has a home in Melbourne’s trendy South Yarra. So do a slew of other Australian celebrities. It’s not difficult to see why. The streets are lined with unique and immaculate homes. But while trendy and upscale, South Yarra is anything but snobby. Full of charming cafes and funky shops selling cutting edge fashion, South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets.

New Zealand lodges

When people hear the word “lodge” they tend to think of something rustic. Nowhere is the fallacy of this assumption more wonderfully apparent than in stunning New Zealand, where a slew of lodges, numbering in the hundreds, are rapidly gaining in popularity. These lodges, which promote themselves with themes (nature, fishing, wine and more) in an effort to lure visitors from afar, are as sumptuous as they are varied.


It was in Melbourne’s chic South Yarra district that the standard was set. Hungry and suffering from extreme jet lag, my photographer and I also were cranky because a local had guided us to a “fabulous breakfast place” that wasn’t open yet. After walking back toward the chic, boutique Lyall Hotel where we were staying, we settled on Cafe Darling – a small, neighborhood eatery. I ordered a focaccia veggie sandwich with a piquant salsa dressing. He opted for a softly poached egg, which was served with thick slices of ham and tomato on a chunk of toasted French bread.

Caribbean Destinations

“Celebrities migrate toward the Caribbean because it’s one of the few places they can go where they’re left alone,” says Keija Minor, editor in chief of Travel Savvy magazine. “It’s the perfect place for them to get some relaxation, quiet time and seclusion.” What’s not to love? The fruit and fish are always fresh, and the weather usually cooperates. Besides the laid-back tranquility of the islands, celebs also enjoy a bit of welcome anonymity from fans and paparazzi when they’re tucked away in their own pockets of paradise.


Scotland has become almost a caricature of itself in the American media with comics imitating Sean Connery’s brogue and Mike Myers “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!” skits on “Saturday Night Live.” Often viewed as less cosmopolitan than England but not pastoral enough to be as pretty as Switzerland, Scotland actually is all that and more. With some fabulous gourmet restaurants, the gorgeous countryside and some of the most amazing castles and ruins — all within a few hours drive — Scotland is a wonderful destination for travelers who want it all without having to learn another language.

French Lick

Sports fans know of French Lick as the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird. But during a period that lasted from the late 1800s to the 1950s, the small Midwestern city was as famous for its swanky visitors as its natural spring water. Pluto Water, as it was dubbed, wasn’t like the mineral water we’re accustomed to today. The sulfur-rich drink was more of a diuretic than a refreshing thirst quencher. Hence, its slogan: “When nature won’t, Pluto will.” Guests were encouraged to carry canes during their morning walks. When nature called — and apparently it called quite often after a glassful of Pluto Water — it was considered the polite thing to place your cane on the outhouse door to indicate it was occupied. It was rude in those days to knock on a bathroom door.

Orkney Islands

Refer to any of the 19,000 inhabitants of the Orkney Islands as a Scot, and he or she will politely inform you they are not Scots. They’re Orcadians. They may live just a few miles north of mainland Scotland, but these island dwellers are an entity unto themselves. Yes, they eat haggis and talk with accents as thick as the blood used in black pudding. But unlike residents of cosmopolitan Edinburgh and nouveau-chic Glasgow, Orcadians don’t revel in trendy nightlife or upscale boutiques catering to the rich and bored.


Bonaire is gorgeous, tranquil and about as close to paradise as most of us will ever get. It’s the anti-Cancun. Whereas the Mexican city is full of rambunctious college kids on spring break, Bonaire is less crowded and, well, less American. And let’s face it — when you’re vacationing in another country, foreign is a good thing. Granted, Bonaire is the least well-known of the ABC islands –Aruba and Curacao make up the remainder of the alphabet triangle — but it’s a diver’s paradise and a vacationer’s dream.

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