abc-news

Despite Terror Attacks, John Kerry Would Vacation in Europe but Choose Where He Went

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry1 suggested today that Americans should not hesitate to visit Europe, speaking from Brussels in the wake of this week’s deadly terror attacks, but that he would be discerning in where he went.

He would “absolutely” vacation in Europe and “without doubt,” Americans should feel comfortable visiting European countries, Kerry said in an interview with ABC News. Yet he cautioned that he would “choose where I go.”

Kerry made a stop in Brussels today to visit with Belgian officials and U.S.

diplomats after Tuesday’s suicide bombings that left at least 31 people dead and at least 300 injured.

The State Department2 Tuesday issued an official travel alert for Europe, urging Americans to “exercise vigilance” when visiting the region.

“We’re not saying don’t travel at all,” Kerry said, “We’re just making an alert so people can make a determination about where they might go and how they might travel. But to not do so in the wake of what has been happening, knowing what we know, would also be irresponsible.”

Kerry also expressed some frustration that Europe needs to do better at sharing terror-related intelligence. “I do know that, as a whole, Europe needs to move information more effectively,” Kerry said. “This is a challenge. It was a huge challenge for us in the aftermath of 9/11.” Kerry said the Europeans need to push for reform on early passenger identification for airline flights.

Kerry also spoke to ABC News about the U.S. victims of this attack, saying there will be an American death toll. Until today, the State Department has said it was not aware of Americans who had been killed — only acknowledging some are missing.

“I can just confirm that a couple Americans have died in this event,” Kerry said. “We’re going through the sad process of family notification at this point in time.”

Kerry did not identify the victims.

References

  1. ^ John Kerry (abcnews.go.com)
  2. ^ State Department (abcnews.go.com)

5 Warm Spring Break Destinations Not on the Sand

If your weekend was anything like ours, you’re tired of being cooped up watching Netflix1 and throwing salt on your walkway. But even though a balmy beach locale may sound like exactly what you need to fight the winter blues, not all warm spring breaks must be spent on the sand. Whether you re looking for a romantic getaway with your significant other, or trying to get the kids out of the house, we ve found some sunny spots away from the usual island retreat.

Here are five not-to-miss destinations that, you guessed it, are not on the beach, but still radiate warmth and that much-needed Vitamin D.

Georgia s oldest city is a must-see for history lovers — especially those who are keen to the paranormal. Known for its haunted streets, gorgeous houses, and regal architecture, Savannah2 is a laid-back Southern city draped in weeping willows and Spanish moss. If you stay in the historic district, the city s eclectic restaurants, galleries, and shops are all within walking distance, including Lafayette Square, which commemorates the city s founder. It s easy to navigate, the residents are friendly, and the city has an ever-expanding culture, including the must-see Savannah Center for Fine Art. And get this: there s a beach not too far from central Savannah, but you ll find water activity within walking distance of downtown. There are constant riverboat and dolphin3 tours down the Savannah River, as well as guided kayaking and paddle boarding.

Where to Stay: Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District4

The Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District exceeds expectations for a value hotel and offers more Southern charm and historic character than most Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express properties. The hotel is located within walking distance to some of the most popular cafes and shops in the historic district. Crowning the seven-story brick building, the rooftop pool deck has panoramic views of the Savannah River and Hutchinson Island. A cozy, fireside bar near the lobby is a gathering place for both locals and hotel guests.

This majestic, desert town sits in the heart of Arizona, less than an hour south of Flagstaff5. Sedona6 is truly an outdoorsy wonderland, with towering geological landscapes and picturesque clear blue skies.

There s a heightened amount of open-air activity to feel that heat again, from hiking, biking, and famous Jeep tours, to hot air balloon rides in the surrounding Red Rock State Park and the 16-mile gorge at Oak Creek Canyon. For the kids (and the kid inside you), there s Slide Rock State Park — a natural waterslide made from Oak Creek s slippery bed — that s just a short 20-minute drive north. Not to mention there are daily round trips to the nearby Grand Canyon7. Plus, the area is rich in Southwestern culture, food, and art, with more than 40 galleries lining the small town s streets.

Where to Stay: Orchards Inn of Sedona8

There are plenty of upscale hotels in Sedona9, but the Orchards Inn surpasses many of them because of its amazing views of red rock and Oak Creek Canyon. The hotel combines a central uptown location — full of shops and sightseeing options — with a slightly less-than-uptown price. It’s a good hotel for larger groups desiring adjoining rooms (these are available but limited), or travelers wanting to take in the scenery from private balconies. The views from the hotel’s hillside setting are excellent, and the property is tucked far enough from the road to avoid overwhelming tourist crowds and noise.

You ll have plenty of warmth to soak in (thanks to consistent above-70s temperatures) as you march down the French Quarter10 — the city s most vibrant and historical neighborhood, packed with jazz, culture, black magic, and, of course, can t-miss food and drink. The cobblestone streets are stacked with bars of every kind — including the city s own and oldest invention, the Sazerac cognac cocktail – and traditional New Orleans11 cuisine like gumbo and jambalaya. You ll never run out of tunes: the streets are lined with some of the world s best musicians (playing for tips and beer) or, if there s a celebration, you can watch an infamous Second Line parade behind a brass band.

Here, there s always a party, like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the end of April. While this drinking destination may stop you from bringing the kids, it s a top spot for a romantic escape or reunion with old pals.

Where to Stay: The Saint Hotel, Autograph Collection12

The Saint is a sleek hotel located on the border of the French Quarter and the Central Business District. Its 166 stylish rooms have attractive blue-and-white decor and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs, minibars, iPod docks13, and free Wi-Fi. There are great nightlife options on-site: a rooftop bar — offering expansive city views — and the sexy Burgundy Bar14 with live music. But foodies might want to explore the myriad dining options outside the hotel instead of eating at Tempt15.

This Southern city feels more like a small town in another land, and is fitting for a sauntering-throughout-the-cobblestone-streets sort of getaway. With a subtle nearby ocean breeze, Charleston16 rings in that old-world romance feeling. This walkable city is home to elegant mansions, grandiose churches, old plantations, and blossoming gardens. There are plenty of walking and horse-drawn carriage tours to take you on a slow-paced journey so you can fully soak in the immensely historical city — including Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. If you’re bringing the kids, there’s a 250-pound sea turtle at the South Carolina Aquarium and a pirate exhibit at the brand-new Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.

For dining, Charleston specializes in New Southern cuisine and there s never a shortage of drinks.

Where to Stay: Francis Marion Hotel17

Still considered one of Charleston’s grand dames, the historic Francis Marion Hotel has lost some of its luster — the decor is a bit dated, the bathrooms18 are small, and the restaurant19 is only so-so. The hotel’s location in historic downtown remains the highlight, and rooms20 come with comfortable beds, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs21.

Laid back, youthful, and friendly, Austin22 is the new city that never sleeps. Considered the live music capital of the world, there are more than 250 music venues — and diverse street musicians — so it’s the spot to stop if you re looking for a musical getaway for you or the family. And the restaurant scene is just as big; world-renowned chefs have settled in this central Texan city to concoct an eclectic variety from Tex-Mex specialties at the more than 200 restaurants, or gourmet doughnuts from the numerous food trucks paving the streets. In this normally 70-degree walkable city, there s plenty of outdoor activity to stay warm. Rent bicycles along the 10-mile Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail for skyline views, or canoe and kayak on the many nearby lakes.

Where to Stay: Lakeway Resort and Spa23

The 175-room Lakeway Resort and Spa sits on a high bluff overlooking Lake Travis in Austin. With three pools, a swim-up bar, a spa, kid-friendly activities, and nearby golf and water sports, the Lakeway can be a nice getaway with lots to do. Plus, the hotel is only a half-hour drive from the more urban area of Austin. The facilities are not luxury-grade — the furniture and decor in the common areas look a bit worn — but the rooms are newer and upscale, and the views are breathtaking.

The Lakeway also costs about half as much as the similarly-rated Travaasa Austin, which is 25 minutes away.

References

  1. ^ Netflix (abcnews.go.com)
  2. ^ Savannah (www.oyster.com)
  3. ^ dolphin (abcnews.go.com)
  4. ^ Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District (www.oyster.com)
  5. ^ Flagstaff (www.oyster.com)
  6. ^ Sedona (www.oyster.com)
  7. ^ Grand Canyon (www.oyster.com)
  8. ^ Orchards Inn of Sedona (www.oyster.com)
  9. ^ hotels in Sedona (www.oyster.com)
  10. ^ French Quarter (www.oyster.com)
  11. ^ New Orleans (www.oyster.com)
  12. ^ The Saint Hotel, Autograph Collection (www.oyster.com)
  13. ^ iPod docks (www.oyster.com)
  14. ^ Burgundy Bar (www.oyster.com)
  15. ^ Tempt (www.oyster.com)
  16. ^ Charleston (www.oyster.com)
  17. ^ Francis Marion Hotel (www.oyster.com)
  18. ^ bathrooms (www.oyster.com)
  19. ^ restaurant (www.oyster.com)
  20. ^ rooms (www.oyster.com)
  21. ^ TVs (www.oyster.com)
  22. ^ Austin (www.oyster.com)
  23. ^ Lakeway Resort and Spa (www.oyster.com)

2015 Luxury Holiday Gift Guide Includes Once-in-a-Lifetime Gifts

You don’t have to spend any money to show someone you’re thinking about them during the holidays. But if you have cash to spare, here are some ways to get rid of it quickly and with a lot of flair.

Here are some luxurious gifts for everyone on the top one percent of your list:

1. Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences

PHOTO:Alice Waters poses outside the front entrance to Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif, June 20, 2013.

Gifts that come in a box can be so “last year.” Exclusive experiences can be some of the best gifts for the “person who has everything.” Through San Francisco-based company IfOnly1, you can purchase a rare experiences or keepsakes, each benefiting a charity or cause.

Pay $5,000 a person to be a “Chef for a Day” during an apprenticeship under chef Alice Waters at her legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. Then, enjoy dinner for two at the restaurant. That experience benefits The Edible Schoolyard Project.

Previous experiences include meeting soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo2 and attending a practice in Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, with “category one” seating to a match, the proceeds of which benefit the Forever Dream Foundation. The minimum bid for that was $20,000.

2. No Holds Barred Gifts for Kids

Luxury and eco-friendly children’s clothing and furniture maker Oeuf sells an assortment of 100 percent Baby Alpaca products like these $130 cauliflower and broccoli pillows.

Want to teach your kids at an early age a positive association with vegetables? Eco-friendly children’s furniture and clothing maker Oeuf sells a variety of 100 percent baby alpaca products, including a $130 cauliflower pillow. Or, if cauliflower’s not your taste, there’s a $130 broccoli pillow or $100 eggplant pillow. The baby alpaca wool knit products are made in Bolivia3 to workers who receive a living wage4, Oeuf says.

Brooklyn-based Oeuf sells high-end designer cribs made in Latvia5, like its $970 “classic crib” that can be converted into a toddler bed with a $260 toddler bed conversion kit. Or, there’s the sturdy $1,100 “Fawn 2-in-1”6 system, which is a smartly-designed bassinet on wheels that can be converted into a crib, then eventually into a toddler bed with a $176 conversion kit.

3.

Fashion Lovers

Iris Apfel for Bajalia Trunk of Accessories

For $80,000, only five people can own a trunk full of “vintage finds and accessories handcrafted by women” and inspired by fashion icon Iris Apfel’s personal collection. With the purchase, get lunch and a styling session with her. As part of Neiman Marcus7‘ Christmas Book Fantasy Gifts, the department store will donate $5,000 to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation.

4. For the Musician at Heart

Texas Guitar Trio Gift

Neiman Marcus’ Fantasy Gifts also include a “Texas Guitar Trio Gift,” priced at $30,000 each. There are 10 guitars of each edition available. You’ll get two tickets to the U.S. concert of your choice featuring the musician who produced your guitar. The “Steve Miller/John Bolin” guitar is made of “high gloss black nitrocellulose lacquer.” The Lyle Lovett8/Bill Collings guitar has a fingerboard that includes an inlaid silver wire “Lyle Lovett” signature. Last, the Billy Gibbons guitar was designed by ZZ Top9 legend Billy Gibbons and has a golden lacquer finish “in a classic auto paint shade.” When you buy the Billy Gibbons or Lyle Lovett guitars, they’ll present the guitar to you backstage at their concert.

With the sale of each Texas Guitar, Neiman Marcus will donate $5,000 to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation.

5.

Someone With Major Wanderlust

Dream Trip to India

Buy a “Dream Trip to India10” for $400,000, for which Neiman Marcus will donate $15,000 to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation.

“For 12 days, you and a guest will travel in private planes and vintage cars to the finest hotels, restaurants, and experiences (guided historic tours, private cricket lessons, a dance lesson on a private Bollywood movie set),” the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book description states. “From legendary Delhi and the Taj Mahal, to artistic Jaipur, romantic Udaipur, and finally Mumbai, you’ll explore this fascinating country in luxurious style.”

In Mumbai, the trip includes a three-night stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel in a Grand Luxury Suite, a Bollywood movie experience including private dance lessons, costumes, hair and makeup and “a private dinner with a Bollywood star.”

References

  1. ^ IfOnly (www.ifonly.com)
  2. ^ Cristiano Ronaldo (abcnews.go.com)
  3. ^ Bolivia (abcnews.go.com)
  4. ^ living wage (abcnews.go.com)
  5. ^ Latvia (abcnews.go.com)
  6. ^ “Fawn 2-in-1” (www.oeufnyc.com)
  7. ^ Neiman Marcus (abcnews.go.com)
  8. ^ Lyle Lovett (abcnews.go.com)
  9. ^ ZZ Top (abcnews.go.com)
  10. ^ India (abcnews.go.com)