The Trips You Need to Take This Summer
The endless wait for summer is almost at an end – so it’s time to start planning that getaway. Whether it’s a quick jaunt close to home or an elaborate escape further afield, here are five destinations sure to please.
Baseball, Brazilian Food, and the Rebirth of a Monument in St. Louis
It doesn’t get better than summer in the Gateway City, according to Alper Oztok, the General Manager at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. “The weather is beautiful, especially in May and June,” he says. “It’s the perfect time to go to outdoor concerts or sporting events.”
One of the Hotel’s greatest assets is its location, within easy reach of the season’s doings. It’s about a mile from Busch Stadium, home field of baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals and a tour stop for such boldface names as Ed Sheeran and Kenny Chesney.
But the star of the show is the famous Gateway Arch. The tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere reopened last July after a USD 380 million restoration project that extended to the riverfront green space. Book a room with a wall of windows overlooking the 630-foot-high (190-metre) icon, and take a tram ride to the top. Or do as Oztok does and put on your running shoes. “A beautiful way to start your day,” he says, “is by running or biking along the path that goes by the Arch.”
With a spot of sightseeing done, retire to the Hotel’s lauded new Cinder House restaurant. Start at the open-air rooftop bar – so close to the Arch you feel you could touch it – and then make a move to the glassy eighth-floor dining room. In a kitchen anchored by a wood-burning hearth, Chef Gerard Craft – the first St. Louis chef to win the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest – showcases the grilling traditions of Brazil and Argentina alongside reimagined South American staples like prawns a la plancha and feijoada, a stew of black beans and braised beef. Craft credits his beloved childhood nanny, Dia, with instilling in him a love of Brazilian food, and as an adult he worked alongside her to hone his recipes and methods.
Local ensemble Acoustik Element provides a soundtrack of live Latin music on the rooftop every Wednesday and Thursday from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. And on weekend mornings, wake up early for sunrise yoga high above the city streets.
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Drink in the Mediterranean in Athens
While no visit to one of the world’s oldest cities is complete without eyeing its storied dry-land sites, you’d be remiss in visiting Athens without taking time to bask in its seaside splendour.
Standing on the lush Athens Riviera, the newly opened Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens encompasses 30 hectares (75 acres) of a pine-wreathed peninsula on the Saronic Gulf, just 30 minutes from Athens’ historic core. This stretch of Athenian coastline is marked by serene coves and beaches, and the Hotel claims three pristine stretches of sand connected by a 300-metre (1,000-foot) boardwalk.
Thermal Vouliagmeni Lake, which hovers between 22 and 29 degrees C (71 to 84 F) year-round, is just a five-minute drive away. “It’s an exceptional sight,” says Concierge Maria Genidounia. “You can swim with small fish or enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature.”
For an aquatic experience that goes deeper, book a full- or half-day island voyage on a vessel from the Hotel’s handsome fleet of powerboats.
“A day cruise to the islands is a must,” Genidounia says. “The nearest island, Aegina, is only 20 minutes away by boat.” Picturesque isles like Paros, Kea and Hydra lie farther afield, and swim stops in the glittery Myrtoan Sea are encouraged.
Round out the experience with a feast sourced from the sea. In the waterfront enclave of Glyfada, across Vouliagmeni Bay from the Hotel, Sardelaki is a traditional seaside taverna serving Grecian standbys like mussels saganaki, grilled sardines and marinated anchovies in a laid-back, family-friendly setting. For a more debonair atmosphere, opt for nearby Feedel Asador, Genidounia’s pick for modern Greek cuisine.
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A Culture-Filled Trip to Seoul
South Korea claimed the spotlight last February, but summer is one of the best times to visit – especially the capital city. “Seoul is full of life and excitement with local performances and cultural events. Prepare to be surrounded by so much beauty and entertainment,” says Elly Kim, a Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. “It will make you fall in love with the city.
One of Kim’s top picks is “the country’s premier light show extravaganza” at Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain, a 20-minute display that takes place along the Han River both day and night. “It’s an aesthetic feast for the eyes,” she says. Kim also recommends heading to Hongdae, near Hongik University. It has a youthful college-town vibe, with cafés, galleries, boutiques, art markets and restaurants. “It’s a fascinating place to walk around, especially during the summer, when there are a lot of street performances and busking,” she says.
And from now through October, you can visit the Bamdokkaebi Market, which Kim says is one of the trendiest in town and popular among Seoulites. “The night market is always full of surprises,” she says. Head to one of its six locations to sample both local and international street food and dishes from food trucks, shop for handmade crafts, and watch various performances.
Finally, for a VIP experience worth seeking out any time of year, the Hotel can arrange a private visit to the exclusive Korea Furniture Museum, which is only open for special reservations. “Guests are invited to spend time in this unique space, designed to give you a sense of how Koreans lived in the Kingdom of Joseon, which lasted from 1392 to 1910,” Kim says.
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Play Outside in Montreal
“Montreal is a park city,” says Lara Grafin, Assistant Chief Concierge of the new Four Seasons Hotel Montreal. “In every district you have a park.”
From June through September, these public spaces transform into viridescent outdoor living rooms, infusing the city with an energy that’s almost tactile. The myriad events unfolding throughout summer add to the vivacity.
“We have all these great festivals that we’re known for,” Grafin says. “The Canadian F1 Grand Prix; Les Francofolies, the French Music Festival; the International Jazz Festival, the largest in the world – just to name a few. There’s always something happening over the summer.”
One of the best-loved events, though, doesn’t tout high-profile sponsors or performers. “Every Sunday, beneath the George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Mount Royal Park, we have the Tam-Tams,” Grafin says. “It’s an informal gathering of people playing drums that starts in the late morning and doesn’t stop until late evening. You can watch, dance or join in.”
Another top spot to soak up the sun is Le Village au Pied-du-Courant, along the St. Lawrence River: “You have an amazing view of the Jacques Cartier Bridge. There are activities, concerts, food trucks, a beer garden and a sandy beach. It’s very relaxed – a great place to go with kids, and a great place to watch the fireworks. Every Wednesday and Saturday night in July we have L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, an international fireworks competition.”
One of Grafin’s favourite summer itineraries is a ride along the Lachine Canal Bike Path on a bicycle rented in Old Montreal: “Stop at Atwater Market, a local food hall, and continue on to St-Ambroise Microbrewery, where you’ll find lots of locals enjoying the terrace on the river.”
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Learn to Tango in Buenos Aires
First things first: The North American summer is winter in Argentina capital. But though visitors to the capital can’t expect the warmest of days, temperatures are relatively mild – highs around 17 degrees C(low 60s F), with nights dipping to about 9 C (upper 40s F. If you can, plan your trip in August, springtime in Argentina, when the annual Tango Festival and World Cup takes place. As Maria Jose Iturralde, Chief Concierge of Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, puts it, “From August 8 to 21, you will breathe tango in every corner of our magical city, listening to the emblematic voice of the singer Carlos Gardel while watching dancers from all around the world.”
The event includes performances, classes and the championship competition, and there are plenty of local milongas where you can dance the night away. Iturralde’s favourite is Maldita Milonga, in the San Telmo neighbourhood. “You can enjoy the live orchestra El Afronte and see the musicians,” she says – including a row of people playing the bandoneon, an instrument in the same family as the accordion. “The most amazing thing to see is how tango is alive today.”
The Hotel can arrange bespoke tango experiences for you with a private teacher, who can also take you to popular dance spots around town. “You’ll leave our city dancing like a local until dawn!” Iturralde says.