Last-Minute Travel and Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Last-Minute Travel and Gift Ideas for the Holidays
from Around the World

It’s not too late to celebrate the holiday season in another time-zone or find a clever travel-related gift idea for friends. Your readers will thank you for these one-of-a-kind gift guides, packages and experiences this holiday season.

Algodon Wine Estates for Barrels of Joy… Located in San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina, Algodon Wine Estates offers personalized wine barrels that can be custom-designed and come with the owner’s private wine label. A choice of French or American oak barrels and of grape varieties such as Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bonarda and Chardonnay make this an inventive indulgence. Each barrel provides approximately 300 bottles of wine and can be filled up to three times. The bonus: The program includes a two-night stay at the boutique winery. For more information, visit

The Merrion in Dublin for an Irish House Party… The Merrion, a collection of four Georgian townhouses, invites guests to a Post-Christmas Racing Break that includes tickets to the Leopardstown Race Festival, a cherished Dublin tradition. Rates start at €160 (approximately $240) per person per night in double accommodations from December 26 to 29, 2008. A New Year’s Eve Getaway Celebration continues the festivities with a two-night stay, a bottle of champagne, a New Year’s Eve Jazz Dinner for two and full Irish breakfast each morning. Rates start at €447.50 (approximately $672) per person. For more information, please visit

Orient-Express Trains and Cruises for a signature gift friends and family will always remember… Especially fun for train aficionados, the Orient-Express Signature Boutique offers crystal items, desk accessories, leather goods, silver jewelry, ladies accessories, gentleman’s fashion and mementos tied to the trains and Afloat in France barges, including the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and presented both in a handy gift guide and on-line. For more information, visit

Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland for Pirouettes and Pastry Making … A special package showcasing the world-famous, Lausanne-based Béjart Ballet, one of the area’s most celebrated attractions, includes tickets to the ballet, a special Béjart Ballet gift, complimentary access to the Beau-Rivage Palace’s Cinq Mondes Spa and fitness room and a buffet breakfast. Valid dates are December 20 and 21, 2008, and from December 26 to December 30, 2008. Prices start at 485 CHF (approximately $425) per person. Throughout the holiday season, children have fun with pastry making, floral arranging as well as the Beau-Rivage Palace’s children’s holiday theme of Bori (the Little Fox) and a visit by Santa Claus on Christmas Day. For more information, please visit

Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a Grand Teton Ski Experience … Perched on the Gros Ventre Butte just outside of the town of Jackson Hole, the Amangani resort offers sweeping views of Grand Teton National Park, a private ski lounge at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the ultimate package for a favorite ski enthusiast. The Amangani Ski Experience includes double accommodations for five nights, airport transfers, daily Continental breakfast, four-day ski passes for two and a 60-minute massage per person for $4,200 (plus tax and service) from January 4 through April 5, 2009 (not available President’s Weekend, February 12 to 15, 2009). For more information, visit

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul for a Turkish Delight … The Ciragan Palace in the heart of Istanbul offers a New Year’s Eve experience from December 29, 2008 through January 3, 2009 featuring four nights in a Superior Bosphorus View Room, breakfast each morning, High Tea at the Gazebo for two, a New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner at Laledan Restaurant followed by fireworks and dancing and a New Year’s Day brunch for two. Rates start at €2,000 (approximately $2,505) plus 8% VAT. For more information, visit

Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo, Ireland for a Real-life Holiday Fairytale … Christmas in a castle turns from fantasy to reality at Ashford Castle in glorious western Ireland where a holiday package covers room, daily breakfast, dinner in the George V dining room each night, afternoon tea, a cocktail reception, activities on the estate grounds, an annual treasure hunt and dancing after dinner on two evenings. Rates start at approximately $2,233 per person for all three nights, December 24 through December 27, 2008. For more information, please visit

Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière, Paris, France for Une Bonne Année in the City of Lights…
New Year’s Eve is magnifique at Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière where a special New Year’s Eve menu in the restaurant Le Diane can be the last hurrah of 2008. Selections such as the deep-water sea scallops with licorice and cauliflower mousse will be paired with Dom Perignon 2000 — a gastronomic delight! For more information, visit

Jerusalem for Fun-Filled Long Weekends in December… Tourists and visitors to Jerusalem this December can once again enjoy Hamshushalayim, the cultural city-wide event taking place during the first three weekends in December. Hamshush is Hebrew slang for the long Israeli weekend of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Visitors and locals can enjoy free or reduced-cost entry to several tourist and cultural attractions, including museums, live performances, a giant culinary festival and other special activities unique to the Hamshushalayim event. Participating Jerusalem hotels will also offer special rates over the three weekends. Tourists can receive detailed information on the Hamshushalayim 2008 program by contacting the Tourism Ministry’s Tourist Information Office inside the Jaffa gate (tel: 02 6280403; 02 6271422; 02 6276429) or at

The Ultimate Gift for the Luxury Traveler… This holiday season, Andrew Harper, whose Hideaway Report newsletter has been the bible of sophisticated travelers for more than a quarter century, is offering the ultimate luxury gift for the seasoned-vacationer with its 2008 Luxury Traveler Gift Packages. Buyers can choose from three Holiday Gift Packages at a special discounted price, which include several elements such as print editions of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, a personalized Andrew Harper Collection binder and a handsome leather-bound USB key. Buyers will receive these must-have gifts in addition to an Andrew Harper full membership kit, and the month’s Hideaway Report. For more information, visit