Kids (and those possessing a sweet tooth) might be disappointed when they arrive at the Chocolate Hills and discover they are not literally so. For everyone else, though, these curious conical mounds in the middle of the Philippine island of Bohol are bound to delight.
Imagine being on a white sand beach on a tropical island and then heading inland through green jungle. The way is mostly flat and lush. And then, suddenly, you see a large earthen mound 30 meters (100 feet) high covered in grass but otherwise devoid of foliage. You wonder why anyone would bother building such an enormous, symmetrical mound of dirt and then overlay it with astroturf.
It’s like living a scene out of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator:
You start out you-know-not-how-deep underground and climb into a small room that’s glass on three sides. Then you accelerate up at high speed — three meters per second, to be exact. For what feels like a long time there’s no natural light, only the hue from fluorescent bulbs illuminating the solid rock zooming past outside the elevator. Until, suddenly — WOW! The outside world opens up and the impossibly steep and tree-studded sandstone peaks of the Wulingyuan UNESCO World Heritage area come into view.
That’s what it’s like to ride the Elevator of One Hundred Dragons — also known as the Bailong Elevator — located inside the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan, China.
Whitepod is an eco-resort in the truest sense of the term
Visit the site of the Whitepod ski resort in the Swiss Alps between April and November and what you’ll see of it is . . . nothing.
You’ll see no roads. No electrical wires. No place to stay. Just a 19th century farmhouse. And a pristine alpine meadow that’s begging for some von Trapp kids to twirl around in Sound Of Music style. And an amazing view. The vista of the snow peaks from this virtually untouched place 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above the oceans is among the grandest in Europe. “Untouched” being the key word.
There are few regions of the world with as many scenically located hotels as you’ll find on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. On that stretch of Mediterranean shoreline from Sorrento to Salerno, dozens of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and inns peer down on sparkling seas, grand gardens, charming churches and other sights that tempt travel writers adopt to alliteration and make other visitors simply exclaim WOW.
On the Amalfi Coast — the whole of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site — selecting the hotel with the best room views is thus a daunting task. Forced to settle on one for this post, we’ll choose the Hotel Caruso Belvedere.
When Spot Cool Stuff travels we love staying in a room with a view. In Montreal, there’s no better hotel room view than that offered from the upper rooms at the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain.
Spanning to a height of 139 meters (454 feet), the Marriott Chateau Champlain is the tallest hotel in the city (and its 9th tallest building of any sort). The vista from those lofty heights is framed by the hotel’s most distinctive feature: the half-moon windows.
From inside the rooms, the view through those windows looks like this:
The whole point of going on vacation to Niagara Falls is to take in the view. So, when spending the night at Niagara Falls, the smart traveler wants a hotel with a view of, well, Niagara Falls. And no hotel has a better view from their rooms than does the Marriott Gateway on the Falls . . . except perhaps the awkwardly-named Marriott Niagara Falls Hotel Fallsview & Spa. But we’ll get to that at the moment.
Spot Cool Stuff loves a good safari lodge, one that’s inviting and is in tune with its natural surroundings. Somehow candlelit dinners are more romantic when they are on a wood deck overlooking a river with crocodiles and hippos. Cold drinks taste better when drunk while gazing out at lions and giraffes in the heat of the day. Beds are more comfortable when they double as a refuge in the middle of an animal-filled wilderness.
Spot Cool Stuff also loves South Africa, a wondrous country that has more diversity of culture and landscape than most people imagine.
So it was an easy decision to write up two posts that combine our twin passions for South Africa and safari lodges.
In this, the first of our two-part series, we check out seven luxurious safari lodges. If you’re looking for a resort to celebrate a special occasion (or if you have access to an expense account) consider a stay at one of these WOW-inducing digs that combine luxury with some of the best game viewing in Africa. In our next South Africa post we’ll focus on our favorite budget safari lodges. To stay updated on that (and all the other travel goings at Spot Cool Stuff), follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook or subscribe to our RSS feed and get our travel posts delivered to you directly.
And with that, here’s to luxury in the middle of South African wilderness:
Like so many others, Spot Cool Stuff first traveled to London as college students. That was more than two decades ago and we still remember falling in love with the British capital for its salty residents, gritty streets and low-rise charm. Back then, we never could we have imagined London as the home of The Shard.
Yet, there it is. At 306 meters (1,004 ft) tall, the gleaming glass and steel skyscraper is the tallest building in the European Union. On a sunny day, The Shard literally casts a shadow on the London Bridge.
The building has been open for a few months now. But only recently has the public been able to eat at one of The Shard’s three main restaurants: Hutong, The Oblix and Aqua Shard. Each restaurant requires taking a non-stop lift to The Shard’s 32 floor. Each restaurant charges sky-high prices though, happily, each also offers views to match.