Positive Energy

By Marlene Ridgway

In just two years, the first fully carbon-neutral and emission-free resort, Six Senses Svart will welcome guests to stay and explore, all while combating the pollution that the travel industry typically generates.

The 94-room resort will offer adventure and conscientious travelers an incredible way to experience and preserve the unique environment of the Svartisen glacier in Norway. The revolutionized resort plans to take sustainability and energy efficiency to a new level by not only eliminating negative impacts on the surrounding environment from start to finish, but also generating its own energy through solar panels and geothermal wells.

Guests will get an immersive experience where they can enjoy the surrounding landscape guilt-free. “Six Senses Svart aims to become a prototype for the future of sustainable hospitality,” says Jeff Smith, vice president of sustainability for Six Senses.

The eye-catching, ring-shaped resort will combine a futuristic design and technological innovation with earthy, organic materials that use the least embedded energy. The circular green form is tactile, creating a feeling of openness and perpetual consciousness of nature as it gives the building a transparent appearance. The happy side effect is its ability to collect energy from the roof and offer panoramic views and privacy with the expanded distance between rooms.

Svartisen glacier

Preserving and Generating Energy

The resort will be poised above the water and landscape to minimize the impact on the environment, a notion that has influenced every decision about the project along the way. Six Senses Svart aims to demonstrate that carbon neutrality can be not only feasible in a sophisticated development at an eco-sensitive site, but can also be profitable.

The resort will also funnel solar energy back into the running of the hotel, boat shuttle, and energy needed for building, making it possible for the resort to function entirely off the power grid. Such energy-positive buildings could deliver 89 percent of the 45 percent decrease in emissions required to reach the scenario where global warming is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

To create a self-sustaining travel destination, the resort will employ its own waste and water management, recycling, and renewable infrastructure. The team will work with existing sustainable fishing and farming operations and engage like-minded local suppliers for the restaurants and bars. All of this will make the zero waste dining venue possible where everything from food storage, prep, and dining will be a proactive, sustainable decision. For example, “whatever isn’t eaten fresh from the farm may get pickled or utilized in some other way,” according to Smith.

Kayaking at Six Senses Svart

Health and Wellness

The resort will not simply have a positive impact on the area, but will also prove restorative for guests looking for an authentic and unplugged experience. Outdoor adventures, such as biking, hiking, and horseback riding will entertain guests while the spa and fitness center will encourage even more rest and rejuvenation.

Six Senses Svart will cover the full gambit of integrated wellness, with state-of-the-art equipment and wearable technology assimilation, integrating a specially developed Svart Touch concept that will further elevate the brand’s pioneering wellness approach.

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5 Unique Dining Experiences to Try in Las Vegas This Year

By Greg Clemens

Among all the U.S.’s most celebrated and famous large cities, it’s hard to find one that has a more spectacular reputation than Las Vegas. More and more people are traveling and moving to Las Vegas every year, and the number of outstanding dining experiences continues to grow in kind. Whether you’re looking for a romantic night out on the town, a once-in-a-lifetime upscale dinner with friends and family, or something in between, Las Vegas has you covered.
But it can be difficult to find the right restaurant, bar, or diner to match your tastes if you’re looking for a special time here. Check out the following guide to the best restaurants in Las Vegas that offer a spectacular experience.


Top of the World

200 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89104


If you’re looking for a special night out in Las Vegas, the Top of the World restaurant is the first place to visit. Located nearly 900 feet above the bright lights of the Vegas strip, this spectacular dining spot is one of the most exclusive places to claim a seat at dinner. Make sure to call before you visit because the list of reservations can extend quite far into the future.

The cuisine at Top of the World is a pleasing mixture of many American menu items, with a special emphasis on familiar favorites like steak and seafood. Their kitchen stocks the freshest meats, vegetables, and fruits available in Las Vegas, so you’re sure to taste the best of the best here. Be sure to bring your camera with you when you come, because this restaurant’s views of the strip are only matched by the upscale decor and massive windows that make Top of the World a sight to behold.



3215 South Rancho Dr., Las Vegas, NV


This specifically Las Vegas-style entertainment and dining center shows off a little of everything thanks to its unique mixture of venues and restaurants. Planning a night at Area15 means you’ll have hours upon hours to tour the on-site distillery, Lost Spirits, as well as the one-of-a-kind themed restaurant 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

You’ll enter the complex and visit the distillery first, where you can enjoy the live music and take a tour of this historic Las Vegas landmark while sipping on top-notch brews. Then, head over to the uber-exclusive 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which features a memorable 16-course menu that you can share with up to 12 guests in a unique undersea capsule dining room.
Head Chef Taylor Persh has a taste for flare and spectacle, as you’ll experience first-hand all the musical accompaniments and drama that comes along with their presentation. You’re sure to have a night to remember here.



3325 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109


Celebrity chef Wakuda has been a renowned world chef for years, and Las Vegas locals welcomed him to Vegas in 2021 with rousing applause. Located in the Venetian casino and hotel, Wakuda Japanese Restaurant is now among the top-ranked celebrity restaurants in the city, and it regularly hosts some of Las Vegas’s most prominent visitors.

Wakuda is open to an exclusive crowd for dinner until 10 pm each night, with lounge hours extending till midnight. The cuisine is top-flight Japanese fare, and it features some of the best sushi and sashimi dishes the world over. When you step in the doors at Wakuda, you won’t want to leave, thanks to its extravagant Asian decorations and oversized sculptures that help make this spot one of the most unique in Las Vegas dining.


Carson Kitchen

124 S. 6th Street, Suite 100, Las Vegas, NV 89101


Chic Fremont Street is the backdrop for many of Las Vegas’s most exciting new restaurants and entertainment venues, but the best night you can have here might just be Carson Kitchen. Come here to enjoy a comfortable yet high-end dinner with friends and family on their famous outdoor rooftop seating patio and fire pit.

The menu is centered on classic American fare like pork meatloaf and the popular hot duck sandwich that’s hard to find anywhere else in town. Reservations are in high demand, so be sure to contact the restaurant in advance. You won’t regret your time at Carson Kitchen, as evidenced by the fact that the owners have recently expanded to build locations in Atlanta and Salt Lake City. The views from the Carson Kitchen roof are one of the most photographed in the city.


The Fireside Lounge at the Peppermill Restaurant

2985 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109


Las Vegas is eclectic if it’s anything, and there’s no better place to experience the blending of cultures and art styles in town than at the Peppermill Restaurant. The 80s stylized decor has defined the Peppermill for years, and it’s made this legendary dining spot a landmark in the city. In fact, it’s been the site for dozens of Hollywood blockbusters.

Retro decor and neon panels aren’t all that’s on view at the Peppermill. Head over to the Fireside Lounge to relax in style with friends and enjoy a full bar in the light of a huge outdoor fire pit. You can expect high-end bar food and a modest dining menu with top-of-the-line ingredients and a choice of dishes that rotates regularly.


Reach out to a local real estate agent today!


With that, we’ve come to the end of our roundup of the most extraordinary dining experiences to discover in Las Vegas. If you’re looking for a few other options, be sure to check out some of these choices:

  • Restaurant Guy Savoy, with LV’s most deluxe French-inspired menu
  • Delilah, a quickly rising Vegas hotspot with award-winning British fare
  • EDO, where Spanish tapas small dish plates achieve perfection
  • The Golden Steer Steakhouse, since 1958 a must-visit and infamous local gem
If you have any questions or comments to share about Las Vegas dining or real estate in the area, feel free to get in touch today! Contact Greg Clemens and the Greg Clemens Team for more information. They’re happy to help you with your real estate venture and any questions you might have.
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Storied Historic Homes

By Brigitte Sinoradzki

UniqueHomes.com hosts a plethora of grand homes for sale. Ranging from modern and geometric structures to homes on the historic register, there is something for everyone. In this blog, we take a step back in time, highlighting three of the most historically significant – and beautiful – homes that are for sale right now. 

1. The Llangollen Estate – Upperville, VA

Visited by George Washington himself, if the walls had ears, this home would have endless stories to tell. Now a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, The main home sits on over 1000 acres. The prelude to Gettysburg was fought nearby. The Marquis de Lafayette visited here during his grand tour of the United States. Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this home is an absolute treasure. 

Visit the full listing here. 

2. Seaview Terrace – Newport, RI

On nearly 8 acres of seaside property, this stately home overlooks Newport’s famed Cliff Walk. This home was originally built in Washington, DC, and relocated to Newport in 1923. Seaview Terrace features rooms that had been imported intact from France, and it is the largest privately owned estate in Newport that remains privately owned. Seaview boasts many incredible details including “The Flagellation” (circa 1547), an early-Renaissance stained-glass window designed for Milan Cathedral. This estate is an opportunity to preserve a magical piece of history

View the full listing here.

3. A Gilded Age Townhome – New York, NY

This stunning 5th avenue townhome is a property for the ages. In New York City, buying a house located directly on Fifth Avenue is like acquiring the Holy Grail because such a limited number remains. This particular home was built during the gilded age and is an extraordinary descendent of that period. Remarkably, most of the original structure  remains intact today. The Real Estate Record and Guide of December 22, 1900 – 120 years ago – describes in full detail the construction of this townhome. Previous residents include Mrs. Mary Augustus King, David Crawford Clark, and William Ellis Corey.

View the full listing here. 

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Featured Property: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

The expansive nine-acre estate includes four homes and boasts a total of 18 bedrooms, 14 baths, two infinity pools and 25,490 square feet of luxury and privacy across 11 parcels.  Tropical walkways bursting with royal palms and native plants connect all four homes. The real treasure among these are the two waterfront villas, both with direct water access.  Stone staircases, as well as two trams with intermediate stops, allow you to descend all the way to the turquoise ocean below.

As you enter the main villa, the tasteful and elegant furnishings will usher you to another era.  Magnificent architecture, enchanting stonework, unique hardwoods, and a prized collection of antiques evokes feelings of nostalgia, grandeur, and adventure.  Each room has a distinct persona and story of its own, from the 800 square foot great hall to the wine grotto, all brought together by the old-world charm of a Caribbean estate aesthetic. The fun truly begins as you step outside and explore the many terraces and verandas overlooking Charlotte Amalie harbor.

Try your hand at shooting one of the two working water cannons straight into the Caribbean Sea.  Relax on the lounge deck or soak in the infinity pool.  Take a stroll along the gorgeous 50-foot white sand beach.  Watch the sunset over Hassel Island on your own private 80-foot dock.  Enjoy the Caribbean’s most spectacular music and light show courtesy of the estate’s terraced waterfall, which features 10 jumping jets, eight fire braziers, 17 falls, a fog machine, more than 100 LED lights and a holographic water screen. 

Whether you’re interested in an exceptional island getaway or the ultimate place to entertain, this captivating property will exceed your expectations. 

Property Details:

 Main Villa –

  • 5 Bedrooms
  • 5 Full Baths / 2 Powder Rooms
  • 6,500 Total Square Feet
  • Infinity Pool (1,630 Cubic Feet)

Guest House Cottage –

  • 4 Bedrooms
  • 2 Full Baths / 1 Powder Room
  • 2,400 Total Square Feet

Second Villa –

  • 6 Bedrooms
  • 5 Full Baths / 1 Powder Room
  • 4,400 Total Square Feet
  • Infinity Pool (2,750 Cubic Feet)
  • Two Car Garage

Third Home –

  • 3 Bedrooms
  • 2 Full Baths

Visit the full listing here

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Traveling by Design

By Roger Grody

In a world filled with compelling architecture, there is little reason to stay in a nondescript glass-and-stucco hotel replicated in cities around the world without regard to local culture or sensibilities. For travelers seeking enrichment from their destinations, the first priority is booking a room at an architecturally distinctive hotel, one with historic significance or contemporary aesthetics imagined by a world-class architect.

Emphasizing the diversity of hotel design, Shelley Hornstein, senior scholar and professor emerita of architectural history and visual culture at Toronto’s York University, notes, “Architecturally important properties aren’t necessarily luxury properties.” She reports that architectural tourism has become extremely influential in the hospitality industry, based on the draw of UNESCO World Heritage sites alone, and that social media fuels the trend. “Instagram, for example, is one principal ‘venue’ that has taken site awareness to meteoric levels!” says Hornstein, whose most recent book is Architectural Tourism: Sight-Seeing, Itineraries and Cultural Heritage.

Regarding hotel aesthetics, Hornstein suggests, “For those who can afford it, design tops all. We see this from hotel industry advertising, and the latest and greatest are always sought after.” Explaining that hotel architecture is demographically driven, Hornstein notes that comfort and convenience are frequently sacrificed for trendy design. “Function was always trumped, it seemed, by what sold well in a picture,” observes the professor.

The UniqHotels website is one source of the kind of images Hornstein contends are so powerful for hospitality consumers. It is valued by travelers looking for memorable accommodations, from treehouses to ice hotels, Hong Kong skyscrapers to Moroccan desert camps. Recounting the genesis of his venture, founder Daniel Hoffmann reveals, “My travels to over 70 countries made me realize the finite chances of staying in genuinely unique accommodations in our lifetime.” He began building a database that ultimately evolved into the UniqHotels platform, now boasting approximately 1,500 listings.

Fogo Island Summer

Hoffmann describes UniqHotel’s readers as travelers and adventure-seekers searching for inspirational accommodations, but they are not necessarily architecture buffs. “Due to the heavy focus on visual presentations, UniqHotels can be a source of entertainment for anyone, even if a visitor is not specifically interested in architecture,” says the European-based travel advisor.

One UniqHotels listing is Fogo Island Inn, perched on a windswept cliff along the coast of Newfoundland. Despite its incorporation of elements from traditional local architecture, one would hardly expect to find this modern minimalist hotel in such a remote location.

Designed by architect Todd Saunders (based in Norway but a native Newfoundlander), the property’s 29 one-of a-kind rooms or suites feature wood-stove fireplaces and commanding views of the rugged North Atlantic coastline through floor-to-ceiling windows. Representing the ultimate Fogo Island accommodations is the Inn’s 1,100-square-foot Flat Earth Suite, showcasing panoramic views in three directions.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada

“Fogo Island Inn is deeply tied to Fogo Island and the architectural traditions of outport Newfoundland in the way it meets with the natural landscape,” reports Amanda Decker-Penton, director of the Inn. “Fogo Island Inn’s contemporary design is the perfect marriage of old and new, and speaks to both our past and our present —and, of course, our future,” she adds. An initiative of Shorefast, a nonprofit founded by eighth-generation Fogo Islanders, the hotel is exceptionally eco-friendly, and everything from building materials to the seafood served in the dining room are sustainable. “From its inception, Fogo Island Inn has adopted a responsible approach to design in order to uphold a high-fidelity relationship with the natural world,” explains Decker-Penton. The project and its impact on the community were captured in the award-winning 2015 documentary film Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island.

Rioja is Spain’s most legendary winegrowing region, where grapes have been cultivated since the Phoenicians occupied the Iberian Peninsula. Rioja has a traditional, old-school reputation, but the Hotel Marqués de Riscal challenges that image. The dazzling hotel, connected to a venerable winery of the same name, is instantly recognizable as a Frank Gehry original, as its wavy metallic skin is reminiscent of the architect’s iconic Disney Concert Hall in L.A. or Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. What gives this structure new dimension is an injection of wine country color into its ribbons of titanium, a delightful contrast to the vineyards surrounding it.

The terms of Gehry’s engagement for the design were reportedly agreed to over a bottle of Marqués de Riscal 1929 (the architect’s personal vintage). The winery subsequently named a new wine, the Frank Gehry Selection, after the architect, and the hotel’s Gehry Suite offers spectacular views of vineyards and the medieval village of Elciego. The renowned architect said of this project, “I wanted to design something exciting and festive, because wine is pleasure,” and playfully characterized his effort as “a marvelous creature, with its hair flying in all directions, launching itself over the vineyards.”

So many great architects have left their imprint on Chicago’s skyline that the Windy City is essentially an ever evolving museum of architectural history. Among its collection of distinctive hotels is The Langham Chicago, a luxury property occupying 13 floors of a high-rise designed by groundbreaking modernist Mies van der Rohe.

First impressions are important when traveling, and the hotel lobby — what guests experience upon walking through the door — can become a meaningful memory even before receiving their room key. Floating above The Langham Chicago’s main lobby, a sleekly furnished mid-century-inspired space, is a striking 60-foot installation of handblown glass, designed by Jana Růžičková and Tomáš Hovorka of Lasvit, a renowned Czech glassworks firm. “Chicago architect of record Goettsch Partners and London-based interior designer Richmond International created a space that marries the traditional aesthetics of The Langham brand within a Mies van der Rohe- designed building,” explains Langham Chicago managing director Edward Shapard. “The marriage between fine art, architecture and interiors is prevalent throughout the hotel,” he adds. Prior to the pandemic, and planned to
resume, are hotel art tours that connect guests with the building’s architectural heritage.

Located in China’s picturesque Zhejiang province, close to Shanghai, is the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, a 27-story horseshoe-shaped structure, equal parts sculpture and hotel. Evocative of a ring, the moon or a traditional Chinese bridge, the structure is dramatically reflected on the surface of Lake Tai, especially when illuminated at night. The hotel was designed by MAD Architects — the global firm is known for its playful, audacious approach to design — and its signature tower rises 400 feet above the water.

According to Judy Shen, deputy general manager of Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, guests are captivated by the design, and tourists share photos of it on social media. “Even if they’re not guests, young visitors still like to pay a visit and mark the unique experience with a photo,” says Shen, comparing the property to iconic hotels like Burj Al Arab in Dubai. “The architectural design of the hotel plays a very important role in helping consumers make a decision,” adds the manager. “Hotels with special architectural features represent an important collection within Marriott International’s overall portfolio, and significantly affect guests’ expectations of their experience,” Shen states.

Like its sister city of Las Vegas, the gambling capital of Macau features an eclectic array of architectural styles, but the late Zaha Hadid wanted to create something unique to this former Portuguese colony off the coast of China. Her futuristic design for the 40-story Morpheus hotel is wrapped in a free-flowing lattice inspired by Chinese jade carving traditions. Project director Viviana Muscettola explains, “Macau’s buildings previously referenced architectural styles from around the world, but Morpheus has evolved from its unique environment and site conditions as a new architecture expressly for this city.”

Among the diverse properties listed on UniqHotels are the Taj Lake Palace on an island in India’s Lake Pichola, Budapest’s Four Seasons Gresham Palace whose Art Nouveau lobby is stunning and Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel, which oozes Hollywood heritage.

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A Summer Weekend to Remember

By Brigitte Sinoradzki

The beginning of summer is around the corner. Time to start planning a weekend getaway to one of these classic and iconic destinations!

Breakers Hotel

The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach Island

The Breakers, grand in scale and appearance, is the ultimate luxury Palm Beach resort. They have something for everyone: from a family trip spent at their luxurious pool and gorgeous beach, to a girl’s weekend filled with fine dining and top of the line spa treatments, or a guy’s golfing get together. There is plenty to do in and around the hotel. If fitness is your thing, you can take a run on the beach, visit the gym at the Breakers, or take a barre or private pilates class with world-renowned instructors down the street at Labarre.

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego

The legendary Coronado Hotel sits on one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego, on the exclusive Coronado Island, with views so expansive you can actually see all the way to Mexico. Enjoy sunsets at their patio bar, beach bonfires in the cool SoCal breeze, or learn to surf in nearby La Jolla. Walking through the grounds at Coronado is an experience within itself, with plenty of fine dining options and high end boutiques. And, if you are into the more spooky side of things, this hotel is consistently ranked as one of the most haunted spots in Southern California.

Central Park

The Mark, NYC

There is no shortage of luxurious hotels in NYC. The Mark hotel stands out as being a favorite of the fashion elite for the Met Gala, as well as John F. Kennedy Jr.’s getaway spot when he needed time to himself. Located on the upper east side, The Mark overlooks Central Park, where you can swing by the Loeb BoatHouse for some food, drinks, and views. Fine dining and shopping is just steps away on Manhattan’s infamous Madison Avenue. A quick stroll will take you to The Metropolitan Museum. Avoid the crowds of time square at this quietly set, extravagant hotel.

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Florence | Italy

Overlooking picturesque Tuscan landscapes, the historic medieval Torre Del Castellano is recognized as a classic example of authentic Tuscan architecture as well as one of the most outstanding and well-known castles in the region.

Torre Del Castellano

Presenting a unique potential for transformation to an opulent estate, upscale boutique hotel or exclusive business enterprise, it features 23 rooms, 9 bedrooms and 7 baths, a separate chapel, viewing tower, enclosed courtyard for entertaining and events, and an expansive olive oil cellar on approximately 22 acres, just 15 miles from Florence.

See more: www.torredelcastellano.com

Torre Del Castellano

9 bedrooms, 7 baths | E10,000,000
Jean Mastagni | DRE #00479256
T. 415.310.7386 | jeanlmastagni@gmail.com
www.jeanmastagni.com | Coldwell Banker Realty

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Prague – A Journey To the Past

By Brigitte Sinoradzki

On every person’s bucket list should be a visit to Prague. Located in the heart of Europe, the capital of the Czech Republic produces architectural awe to all visitors. With functioning structures dating back centuries, a stroll through Prague will make you feel like you fell back to a time where knights on horseback tore through the winding streets.

visiting prague

A Walk Fit for a King

One of the most classic things to do when you visit Prague is to take a stroll from Old Town Square, across the majestic Charles Bridge, and up to the Prague Castle. Taking in the views as you go, A must-see is the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square. The clock is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world, having been erected in 1410. It is also the oldest known clock still in operation today. Studying the details on the clock is fascinating for old and young alike.

Prague Astronomical Clock

Walking along through the el-fresco dining lined streets, you’ll find your way to the Vltava River, which flows through the center of Prague, neatly dividing it into East and West. The Charles Bridge is the main bridge that connects the two sides, although there are many others — though less ornate and with less historical significance. Construction on this bridge started in 1357 and it was completed in the 15th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is decorated by 30 baroque-style statues of various saints, seemingly keeping an eye on the people crossing over the bridge. 

Charles bridge Prague

On the west side of the bridge, you’ll find many magical and historical stops on the walk to the Prague Castle. As you climb higher up the hill, you’ll find more and more panoramic views of Prague’s ancient skyline. Photo opportunities abound! 

The gothic structure that is the Prague Castle sits intimidatingly on the highest point overlooking the rest of Prague. With steep arches and gargoyles keeping watch, the structure is mesmerizing both inside and out. Inside the castle, you will find beautiful stained glass windows, statues, and a ceiling so high it’s impossible to fathom how it was built in 870 without the use of modern construction techniques. 

Prague Castle

Drinking and Dining for Everyone

The Czech Republic gives Ireland a run for its money when it comes to beer drinking. It is actually the number one beer drinking country per capita. Known for deliciously crafted beer, you’ll find a brewery on nearly every street you turn on. A beer enthusiasts dream come true, Prague is known for its delicious pilsners. 

Insider tip: “Pivo” is how you say beer in Czech, and Staropramen is one of the best local brews. 

After all that walking and, perhaps, beer, it’s important to take note of the food in Prague. The Czech Republic is infamous for heavy stews like goulash and a dish offered in nearly every restaurant, “svickova”, which is delectable cuts of meat served with dumplings and gravy. Smoked meats of every type are abundant, and you’ll be able to find the butcher by simply following your nose. 

Prague outdoor dining

On the lighter side, there are so many different types of cuisines offered in Prague. In the warmer months, the streets are lined with outdoor dining. Another tip is to seek out Italian restaurants. Most of these restaurants are opened by Italians who have moved to Prague, and the food is fresh, authentic, and fit for even the most particular palate. From salads to thin-crust pizza and pasta dishes, you can’t go wrong.

The capital city of the Czech Republic truly has something for everyone. It is a lively city — you’ll find as much to do at 3am as you will at noon. Not to be missed, make sure that Prague makes it onto your list of places to visit. 

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Aquatic Accomodations

There is no greater magnet for the hospitality industry than the sea, with towering hotels crowding the world’s finest stretches of beach, from the Côte d’Azur to Waikiki. For most travelers, a view of the ocean is the ultimate amenity, but luxury hotels that float or are submerged beneath the surface of the sea provide otherworldly experiences.

Floating is a term of art. There are some hotels that literally float, like The FloatHouse River Kwai in Thailand or the Off Paris Seine that is moored on the banks of the City of Light’s signature river. Others merely provide the illusion of floating, such as tropical overwater bungalows — these are quintessential French Polynesian accommodations but are found in the Maldives, Seychelles and Caribbean as well — where the design is fully integrated with the sea. Yet another category are hotels whose rooms or restaurants are submerged in the sea, providing guests with the underwater experience of coexisting with tropical fish amidst a coral reef.

The clubby Off floats on the Seine between the Right and Left Banks of Paris, not far from Gare d’Austerlitz in the up-and-coming 13th arrondissement. While the neighborhood is buzzing with fashionable bistros and nightspots, the barge-like Off provides an onboard restaurant and bar, even a lap pool. Those who splurge can choose between two fashionable suites whose décor was authored by designers Maurizio Galante and Tal Lancman.

Exotic species viewed from an elaborate underwater suite at Atlantis, The Palm. Above image and featured image:  © ATLANTIS, THE PALM; photos by Victor Romero

An underwater guestroom at The Manta Resort off the coast of Tanzania. Photo courtesy of the Manta Resort.

With its recent grand opening, Resorts World’s glitzy new $4.3 billion property is the latest hot spot on the Las Vegas Strip, but the company’s resort on Sentosa Island, Singapore is even more elaborate. It encompasses multiple hotels — among them the elite Crockfords Tower, the postmodern Hotel Michael and Hard Rock — along with several theme parks, a convention center and casino. The property’s Beach Villas hotel offers 11 two-story Ocean Suites that immerse their guests into an exotic ocean habitat. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide an undersea view of more than 70 species of marine animals amidst luxury accommodations enhanced by personalized butler service.

Offering the best of both worlds is The Manta Resort in Tanzania — it is located on Pemba Island amidst some stunning turquoise-hued waters — and its three-level floating suite is anchored to the ocean floor off the coast of Africa. Above water, guests enjoy a gentle rafting effect and panoramic views, but in the bedroom below they are treated to the eyepopping aquatic habitat of this corner of the Indian Ocean. Pemba Island is one of the world’s premier diving areas, but guests at The Manta’s underwater room can experience the same thrills without ever putting on a wetsuit. 

The Manta Resort’s own Kwanini Foundation is actively involved in protecting the rich marine habitat of Pemba Island, whose reefs are among the most diverse in East Africa. Rapidly increasing population is creating an unsustainable demand for fish, and the foundation is fighting to eliminate destructive practices like dynamite fishing near vulnerable reefs, as well as educating people on climate change and plastic pollution. These conservation efforts not only preserve the natural beauty of Pemba Island, but ensure the magic of The Manta Resort’s underwater accommodations as well.

Perhaps the most audacious example of a hotel with an underwater feature is the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland in China. Constructed at an artificial lake created at an abandoned quarry, most of the sleek, curvaceous structure is technically below grade, with 16 stories built into a subterranean cliff. All of the 336 rooms benefit from spectacular views of the lake and the property’s dramatically illuminated waterfalls and fountains.

One spectacular two-level suite at Shanghai Wonderland features an enclosed living room with outdoor terrace hovering just above the water, while its bedrooms are submerged beneath the lake’s surface, encased in a giant underwater aquarium. Lin Wang, chief marketing officer for IHG, Greater China, commented: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Shimao Group [developer] again to open InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland — an architectural masterpiece that’s a wonder and beauty in the global hospitality industry.”

When it comes to underwater hotel restaurants, New Zealand civil engineer Mike Murphy is a pioneering force responsible for some of the most dramatic designs. His first underwater restaurant project, Ithaa, opened in 2005 and remains a stunning dining space in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. A decade later, Murphy completed the design for his largest underwater dining venue, named 5.8 Undersea Restaurant — it sits 5.8 meters beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean — at the Hurawalhi Island Resort in the Maldives. “Many projects must be canceled, as the sites aren’t suitable or the client desires a room size that’s unrealistically large,” explains Murphy of his niche specialty. 

Despite his disciplined training as an engineer, Murphy appreciates the visceral reaction people experience in these underwater spaces. “Their mouths open in awe, they almost gasp in wonder at the beautiful underwater scene in front of them,” he says, and adds, “I, too, always get this feeling when I go down into these undersea rooms.”

The Hurawalhi project benefitted from advancements in fabrication, transportation and the availability of larger crane ships, reports Murphy, who notes these ventures work best in locations protected from severe waves or storm surges, generally inside a coral reef or protected harbor. “The design of the acrylic windows and arches is very important,” says the engineer, who explains, “The deeper you go in the water, the greater the pressure, and hence the thicker you must make the windows … and the more expensive it gets.” 

Murphy designed the largest underwater project to date, a villa at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island called The Muraka, a spectacular suite whose room rate begins at $9,999 per night. “Driven by our inspiration to deliver innovative and transformative experiences to our global travelers, the world’s first undersea residence encourages guests to explore the Maldives from an entirely new perspective below the surface of the sea,” said Ahmed Saleem of the Crown Company, which collaborated with the engineer on the
$15 million project. Murphy, who retired a few years ago at age 70, continues to receive proposals for projects and is hoping his design for the world’s first revolving underwater restaurant will be realized.  

Above, the view from an Ocean Suite at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore. Photo courtesy of RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA SINGAPORE.

At far left, an underwater suite at the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland. 

Above, the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, constructed at an abandoned quarry. Photos courtesy of InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland.

The FloatHouse River Kwai is a bona fide floating resort in Thailand, a country where floating homes and markets are not particularly unusual. The hotel’s string of thatched roof villas is essentially a lengthy pontoon boat parked along the river made famous by the novel and Oscar-winning movie Bridge on the River Kwai. Each villa provides nearly 1,000 square feet of comfort appointed with teak furniture and features a private terrace with a swing from which to lazily watch the slowly passing riverboats.

The luxurious Taj Lake Palace hotel is not technically floating on India’s Lake Pichola, but most certainly appears to be. The artificial lake, which was created in the 14th century, has several islands, and the white marble-clad structure — it was originally a summer palace for the ruling dynasty of Mewar — was constructed on one of them in 1746. The palace was designed in a manner that makes it look like an ornate floating raft, and while the illusion is convincing, nobody gets seasick. The hotel oozes elegance and romance, and the most extravagant suites, with hand-painted ceilings, crystal chandeliers and panoramic water views, are indeed palatial.

In a city that specializes in over-the-top experiences, Dubai’s 1,500-room Atlantis, The Palm offers a 1,775-square-foot underwater suite with floor-to-ceiling windows for viewing the resort’s signature aquarium, stocked with 65,000 marine animals. A guest lying on the bed or relaxing in the marble bath will be mesmerized by sharks, stingrays and vibrantly hued tropical fish sailing past. A private elevator ascends to the suite’s intimate lounge, offering surface views of a lagoon, and guests’ needs are attended to by a dedicated butler.

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Oh! Canada

Featured image: ©istockphoto.com / benedek

Canada, a land of beautiful scenery and congenial spirit, balances energetic city life with a calmer, relaxed lifestyle by the water. And if you ask Billie Pat Dall, sales representative at Bernice Whelan Realty Inc., about the real estate market, she’ll tell you that the area in which she sells (the Lake Simcoe and Barrie area of Ontario) is attractive for buyers who are looking for more space.

Only an hour north of Toronto, Barrie offers luxury homes at more affordable prices than in the city, ranging from $2 million to $20 million. Homes are complete with gourmet kitchens, main floor principal suites, home theaters, wine cellars, sports courts, and pools. Residents who live on the water enjoy charming boat houses with guest suites and tranquil water views.

According to Dall, Barrie is also an ideal area to raise a family, as residents have a wide array of outdoor activities at their fingertips.

“It is a place where kids can ride their bikes down to the beach and then over to one of the many tennis courts or to play basketball, and then back home to swim in their backyard pool. All of this is at your doorstep when you live in this region. There is also the added bonus of only being a one-hour drive away from Toronto, so parents can commute if they work in Toronto and visit for a Jays baseball game, theater or concert,” she explains.

Besides athletic endeavors, the Lake Simcoe region also hosts Canada’s largest camping and country music festival, The Hearts and Boots Festival, and Ontario’s biggest waterfront festival, Kempenfest.

Oakville, located just 45 minutes south of Toronto, boasts a thriving market as well, being one of the most densely populated regions in Canada. Lesley Cumming, sales representative at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, describes Oakville and Burlington as the “home to hikers, bikers, economic trail glazers, casual boaters, and local vendor enthusiasts.”

In Oakville and Burlington, you can find condos situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and 50-plus-acre properties with rolling hills, bank barns, horse stalls, ponds, and paddocks. Locals can head over to lakes, beaches, marinas, and conservation trails to absorb the stunning landscape.

Cumming notes that most new buyers in this region were previously urban dwellers from the Greater Toronto Area, in search of a smaller community with more property space. With varied landscape, cuisine, and population, Oakville and Burlington find a way to keep residents and visitors entertained while also cultivating an at-home feel.

“There is so much that is attractive about our region from the diverse cuisine, our local specialty shops, to our beautiful landscape. We have something for everyone,” Cumming says.

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