Recommend December 2011 - (Page 18)

FRANCE always in style ITALY 15th annual W carla hunt FOR AWARDS PIECES rca Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in Europe 15th annual winner a case of ongoing “amore” rca Best Selling Destination winner rca World travelers have always had a love affair with France, and Americans—from Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to Audrey Hepburn and Julia Child—are no exception. And when romance calls us to France—as it so often does to the country-winning Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Award for Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in Europe for the 12th year—the top spot in which to parlez-moi d’amour is Paris. “France has welcomed lovers for centuries,” says New York-based Marion Fourestier, communications director USA for Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, “and the romantic set seems totally focused on Paris, at least as a first stop, and often the only stop. We love being a top pick for honeymooners, who have the most special time of their lives and then often become repeat travelers for the rest of their lives.” And Paris doesn’t disappoint. Romantics continue to enjoy the iconic pleasures of this city, strolling hand-in-hand on the Champs-Elysees and climbing the steps of Montmartre, picnicking in the Luxembourg Gardens, seeing Paris by night atop the Eiffel Tower or aboard a bateaumouche on the Seine. Actually, the must-do list for today’s romantic souls has gotten much longer, including serious wine-bar touring, shopping for worldly goods at Fauchon or for homegrown fashions in the Marais quarter, zipping from monument to monument on three-speed velos (bikes—some 20,000 of them available at some 1,000 self-service docking stations). Eco-conscious romantics enjoy exploring not only Paris’ legendary green spaces (now gone organic)—from the formal Jardin des Tuileries to a walk on the wild side in the Bois de Boulogne, a great daytime place for strolling, biking, boating—but also joining Parisian ecolos (ecology boosters) at bio-marches (organic markets), eco-cafes and green wine shops now open citywide. In Paris, agents will find no shortage of enchanting accommodations, be it in a modern luxury hotel or an Old World charmer adorned with antiques and a four-poster bed. Hotel romance packages usually include champagne breakfast in bed, matching bathrobes, complimentary bouquets of flowers, petit fours, and a couple’s spa treatment. For clients who dream of honeymooning in Paris as a-once-in-a-lifetime luxury splurge, you can offer the option of one of the capital’s five newly anointed “Palace” hotels, a new classification creating a rank exceeding the pinnacle of luxury. The designated palaces are Hotel Le Bristol Paris, Hotel Le Meurice, Hotel Plaza Athenee, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome and the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris. Certainly, France’s historic and modern, romantic and sexy capital got a big, beautiful boost from the award-winning film, “Midnight in Paris.” “It will be hard to measure, but I have a feeling that Woody Allen’s gorgeously filmed ‘Midnight in Paris,’ a sweet and zany valentine to the French capital, is certain to spur even more romanceseeking travelers to say mais oui to the City of Light,” says Fourestier. l 15th annual readers’ choice awards winner I FOR AWARDS PIECES in Europe carla hunt “We love being a top pick for honeymooners, who have the most special time of their lives and then often become repeat travelers for the rest of their lives.” Marion Fourestier, Communications Director, USA, Atout France contact information Atout France: 18 december 2011 Italy, a land that continues to inspire writers, artists and casual visitors alike, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Travelers dream of visiting the monuments of ancient Rome, navigating the canals of Venice, savoring the arts of Florence, browsing and buying in the fashionable boutiques of Milan, wining in Chianti and dining in Bologna. They savor the vitality of Naples, the idyllic enchantment of Lago Maggiore, and the cliff-side trails of Cinque Terre. They love the lifestyle of la dolce vita and the Italians who inhabit it. In the same way that Italy is a top pick for all kinds of travelers, for the seventh year in a row, Italy tops the list of Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the Best Selling Destination in Europe. No one is more appreciative of the “annual” recognition than Riccardo Strano, director of the Italian Government Tourist Board, and quite content to find that, “Even with the downward American economy, we are pleased to find that American travelers have not given up on Italy.” He points out that, quite rightly, many visitors are containing their expenses by choosing two- and three-star hotels, B&Bs and city apartment rentals. At the same time, repeat travelers nowadays head not just for major cities but for smaller towns and villages, not necessarily for cost savings, but for more of a mix-with-the-Italians experience. And, of course, visitors with unlimited budgets go where they want, nowadays to Costa Esmeralda and Portofino, and to get away from it all, to secluded outposts in the Aeolian Islands. Strano expects that well-priced packages for first-time visitors, who traditionally start in Rome and add Florence and Venice, will continue to be attractive to U.S. travelers in the coming year. And he confirms that Italy will continue to develop and promote many ways to discover Italy, focusing on expanding horizons for repeat travelers, who make up 40 pecent of the American visitor market. readers’ choice awards winner rca 15th annual continued on page 20

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend December 2011

Sabre Travel Network
Rail Europe & Hertz Rental Car
Southwest Airlines & Delta Air Lines
France & Italy
Riviera Maya
Costa Rica
Aruba Certified Expert Specialist Program
Saint Lucia
South Africa
Abercrombie & Kent
Goway Travel
Travel Impressions
Avanti Destinations
GOGO Worldwide Vacations
Apple Vacations
Marriott International
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
Sandals & Beaches Resorts
Best Western International
Cruising to the Top

Recommend December 2011