Great Girls Weekend Getaways

From city to sea, these escapes are perfect for an incredible getaway without the guys.
Whether you want to party it up, get adventurous with scuba diving or pamper yourselves at a deluxe spa, these fantastic destinations offer something for every member of your female posse. Go as far as London and Ireland, or stick closer to home while hitting the bars, relaxing poolside or sightseeing in a major metropolis. However you choose to spend your vacation, these weekend getaways are bound to help you and your best pals create lifelong memories. 

Girls getaway

Steal away to the land of all things equine in the rolling green hills of Lexington, where white fences surround picturesque horse farms. Check out the scenery and be sure to save time for a bourbon tasting at Woodford Reserve Distillery or Buffalo Trace Distillery. The Embassy Suites by Hilton Lexington Green offers a free cooked-to-order breakfast daily, plus easy access to all of the city’s can’t-miss shops, including the huge Joseph-Beth Booksellers and the upscale boutiques in the Fayette Mall and The Summit at Fritz Farm.

Girls getaway

A weekend vacation in the Caribbean could be just what you and your favorite gals need. Thanks to direct Southwest Airlines flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Grand Cayman is a convenient getaway option. The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, located right on the island’s Seven Mile Beach, boasts a beautiful setting that you can enjoy while snorkeling, participating in a beach yoga class, lounging by the large pool or unwinding with a massage in an outdoor cabana. Don’t miss the chance to boat with Red Sail Sports to Stingray City – where you can get up close and personal with stingrays in shallow waters – and make sure to savor top-notch cuisine at waterfront eateries like Macabuca and Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant.

Girls getaway

These 10 States Don’t Go on Vacation

Washington-based coalition Project Time Off reports the American workforce is under-vacationed, with more than half of U.S. workers leaving vacation time unused in 2017. Employees forfeited a combined total of 212 million days last year. What’s more, the group says those lost days amount to $62.2 billion in forfeited benefits across the workforce at roughly $561 lost per worker.

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Americans actually used nearly a half-day more of vacation than the previous year, but employees are also earning more time off from employers – contributing to the gap, according to the group’s The State of American Vacation 2018 study. The increase, however, brings the national average up to 17.2 vacation days taken per employee.

Unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy some $255 billion in 2017, and Americans using that vacation time could have generated 1.9 million jobs, the group said.

As of March 2018, approximately 94 percent of full-time workers had access to paid leave (with access to one or more of the following: personal leave, vacation days or holidays), according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number dropped to 52 percent of part-time workers.

Here are the 10 most under-vacationed states ranked by total unused vacation days from Project Time Off, and the number of civilians participating in the labor force per state as of October 2018.

New York340,908,1749,735,860
North Carolina919,063,9164,992,392

Additional state-related rankings can be found here.

New York City Proposal Would Guarantee Paid Vacation Time

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR Bill de Blasio announced legislation on Wednesday that will guarantee employees in the city two weeks of paid vacation, making Manhattan the first city to mandate personal time off.

In a press conference on Wednesday de Blasio said “New Yorkers need a break.”[ 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks about public housing during a press conference at City Hall.

“If you work hard and you don’t get a break, that’s not fair,” de Blasio said.

Currently, 500,000 people are working in the city who do not receive paid vacation or personal time, which de Blasio says hurts families and is detrimental to workers’ health. Under current city law, “an employer is not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid.”

“It’s 2019, it’s time to treat people decently. It’s time to value people,” the mayor said.

This is why, de Blasio said, New York City would be the first city to guarantee workers two weeks of paid vacation or personal time. The legislation, which has to be approved by the City Council, includes exemptions for companies with fewer than five employees. It will apply to all full-time and part-time workers and ensure that everyone has “the right to earn up to 10 personal days every year.”

“They should have that right,” de Blasio said. “Sometimes people just need a break.”

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The proposal comes a day after de Blasio announced a first-in-the-nation plan to guarantee every city resident comprehensive health care, regardless of immigration status or someone’s ability to pay.

To critics who say this new policy is “going too far” or “is too radical,” de Blasio listed other countries around the world that guarantee at least 10 paid personal days for employees. The list includes Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Greece, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Austria, France and the United Kingdom, among others.

“We’re the exception, and it’s a bad exception,” de Blasio said. “It’s time for us to change and that change begins here in New York City and it begins now.”

The mayor said he hopes the legislation can be voted on quickly, but that it is something that has to be phased in smartly to give businesses, especially small businesses, time to adjust.

“I know everyone will benefit in the long run. We’ve seen it with paid sick days, too,” de Blasio said. “When people are healthier, when people are happier, when morale is higher, when people can focus more at work because they’ve actually gotten that time to recharge, it’s better for everyone.”

Cheap Beach Vacations for Travelers on a Budget

Roughly half of the world’s best places to visit are beach destinations – and for good reason. Nearly twice as many people prefer relaxing vacations to active ones, according to travelers in 17 countries surveyed by GfK, a market research company. To help you find the beach vacation that best suits your needs, U.S. News selected 30 cost-effective locales around the world known for their gorgeous scenery, budget-friendly amenities and ample activities.

Cheap beach vacations

Voted America’s best beach by TripAdvisor reviewers, Clearwater Beach overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and Clearwater Bay from a barrier island located about 25 miles west of Tampa. Its variety of bayfront motels and luxury resorts helps make it cheaper to visit than top Florida destinations like Miami and Sanibel Island. Transportation on the Clearwater Jolley Trolley and the Clearwater Ferry double as sightseeing tours. Plus, families can check out Pier 60’s free nightly sunset parties after lounging on the beach’s quartz sand. To save some more coin, purchase a Tampa Bay CityPASS; it covers entry to attractions like the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where Winter the Dolphin .

Cheap beach vacations

Tel Aviv’s 16 beaches along Israel’s Mediterranean coast are easy to reach thanks to cheap flights from Europe. The environmentally friendly, Blue Flag-designated Metzitzim Beach beckons to surfers and kiteboarders in winter when daytime temperatures hover in the mid- to high 60s. Stop for a selfie with the playful statue of David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first prime minister) doing a headstand at Frishman Beach, or explore the area using the city’s shared bikes or scooters. Tal by the Beach offers stylish rooms, with rates that include daily breakfast and bike rentals starting at $175 per night

Cheap beach vacations

Vermont Is Paying People to Move There, and Some Residents Aren’t Happy

Vermont is offering people up to $10,000 to move there and work remotely, in an effort to diversify its aging population.

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The Green Mountain State, which passed legislation creating the Remote Worker Grant Programin July, hopes the initiative will recruit new residents to make communities more viable and share the tax burden, but has received mixed reactions from both its residents and people from out of state.

Under the Remote Worker Grant Program, Vermont will pay people $5,000 per year for up to two years — the second year’s payment, which is not guaranteed, depends on whether participants have additional relocation or work expenses and re-apply for the grant. The program has a $125,000 budget, and applicants will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, says Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development.

The money can’t be used for just anything; it has to be used for moving expenses, coworking memberships or other work-related items such as software.[ 

bOther states are testing out similar programs. Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced a program in November that will offer membership to a coworking space and three months of discounted rent on a furnished apartment to remote workers who relocate to the city. New Haven, Connecticut, is offering up to $80,000 in incentives for new homeowners who are moving from out of state.

Vermont’s program launched Jan. 1, but Goldstein says her office has already received 3,000 requests to be on a mailing list, and they have been fielding questions from callers ever since the legislation was passed.

“We’re very happy about the level of enthusiasm,” she says, adding that people have become more aware of opportunities in Vermont, and those who have been thinking of moving to the state now have an extra push.

Vermont’s population is the third oldest in the nation, with a median age of 43, which is five years older than the national average. An influx of young people could help diversify the state’s economy and keep its population from dwindling.

Goldstein recognizes, though, that many people have doubts about the program and its goals.

“A lot of people, they’re concerned or they’re not getting it. They’re like, ‘Why are you paying people from outside and you’re not paying Vermonters?'” she says. “But I think they understand that there is an issue about getting more people, and the more people that come to the state, the more we can share the tax burden.”

Still, some opponents argue that the state should focus on retaining young people who already live in the state and making the state more affordable for residents before spending money on recruiting new residents.

“We have a massive debt, so why are we giving away a whole bunch of money when there’s a lot of really hungry young people that are starving to get an education?” says Laura Tatro, 70, who has lived in Vermont for 25 years with her husband, Dennis.

Dennis Tatro adds that the state should work on adjusting its laws that deter businesses from moving there so that young people don’t feel like they have to move out of state in order to land a decent-paying job.

“That money would be much more wisely spent if (Vermont) relaxed some of these business laws and made the state much more enticing to move in,” he says.

Laura Tatro points out that the program does not offer grant recipients a reason to stay more than two years, and wonders whether $5,000 a year is enough to make up for the state’s high rent, taxes and electric bills. At 1.78 percent, Vermont had the eighth-highest effective property tax rate in the U.S. in 2016 (the most recent year for which this data is available).[ 

This isn’t the first time the state has taken a unique approach to attract out-of-staters. Vermont launched a Stay to Stay program in March 2018, where people can sign up for a trip that is marketed as a mix of a vacation and a way to decide if they want to move there.

Guests are greeted by local officials and enjoy a welcome reception when they arrive Friday night and then have the rest of the weekend to explore the state. Come Monday, they are invited to local businesses’ open houses and can even meet with realtors to find a potential new home. Four trips garnered a total of 140 participants, seven of whom have moved to the state, according to Goldstein.

Brandon Rapp, who lives in Pennsylvania, attended a Stay to Stay trip in Bennington last August. He says he learned about employment options in Vermont and got an idea of Bennington’s culture.

While he’s kept in touch with some of the other attendees and says he knows of at least two people who opted to move to Vermont after the trip, he and his wife are still on the fence about relocating. Still, “(the trip) was much, much better than anything I would have thought it would have been,” Rapp says. 

AAA Announces 2019 Diamond Award Winners

AAA’s Diamond Rating is one of the few hotel appraisal systems that rely on physical evaluations. (NIZUC Resort & Spa/Courtesy of AAA)

On Jan. 31, AAA announced its annual lists of Four and Five Diamond hotels. A total of 123 properties in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean were added to the prestigious lists this year.

[Read: Best Hotels in the USA.]

AAA’s Diamond Rating is one of the few hotel appraisal systems that rely on physical evaluations. The company’s team of inspectors assesses each of the more than 27,000 eligible properties based on comfort, cleanliness, security and available services and amenities. Each hotel is then awarded a Diamond Rating between one and five, with five being the best.

Of the more than 27,000 evaluated hotels, just 121 properties earned Five Diamond distinction for 2019. Ten of those properties are newcomers, including two hotels that are the first properties to receive the Five Diamond award in their areas. Those hotels are the Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas, and the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The remaining eight properties that earned Five Diamond distinctions for the first time this year are Baccarat Hotel New York, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Fairmont Pacific Rim, Montage Los Cabos, NIZUC Resort & Spa, The Dominick Hotel, The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston and The St. Regis Mexico City.

These new honorees join the ranks among plenty of prestigious hotels – but they have a ways to go before solidifying the long-standing success of the 15 properties that have earned Five Diamond status the past 25 or more years in a row. They range from smaller boutique hotels like The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, and The Inn at Little Washington in northern Virginia to larger resorts that are part of big-name luxury brands like the Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton. More impressive still is The Broadmoor’s reign: The Colorado Springs, Colorado, property has been a Five Diamond Award recipient for 43 consecutive years.

“The Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment that recognizes the upper echelon of hotels,” Michael Petrone, director of AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings, said in a news release. According to AAA, Five Diamond hotels must now offer connective technologies plus luxurious amenities and outstanding service to stand out from the competition. “These properties have extraordinary physical qualities, extensive amenities and impeccable standards of excellence in delivering a highly personalized experience,” Petrone said.

[Read: Best Hotels in Canada.]

While not as selective as the Five Diamond Award list, the Four Diamond list still features hotels that are considered top properties. In 2019, 113 new hotels found their way onto the Four Diamond list, including traveler favorites like the Omni Frisco Hotel in Frisco, California, The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee, the Royalton Negril in Negril, Jamaica, and the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in Sacramento, California. What’s more, a handful of hotels, such as the Fairmont Austin in Austin, Texas, and the Archer Hotel Napa in Napa, California, earned Four Diamond recognition in their first year of operation. A total of 1,722 properties earned Four Diamond distinction this year.

New York City once again boasts the highest number of Four and Five Diamond awards with 74 hotels earning accolades in 2019. Chicago has the next-highest count of total Diamond awards with 42 and Boston claims the third-highest tally with 29 total Diamond awards. State-wise, California is home to the most Four and Five Diamond awards: In total, 193 hotels received honors.

[Read: Best Hotels in Mexico.]

To learn more about the Diamond Ratings or to view all of the Four and Five Diamond award recipients, visit AAA’s website. For information on the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Hotels rankings, which use AAA Four and Five Diamond awards as part of the scoring formula, check back when the lists are released on Feb. 5.

Why You Should Take a Vacation in Retirement

Active and happy senior man living to the fullest, surfing on a surfboard during his summer vacation

Regular vacations help to keep retirement exciting.(GETTY IMAGES)

I REMEMBER, BACK WHEN I was working, I once took a stay-at-home vacation. I took off a whole week to clean out the basement, fix the window frames in the garage and catch up on some yard work. I ran lots of errands and found myself spending more time than I wanted to in the grocery store.

One evening my wife and I were scheduled to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. But she got a call from a friend, and I was falling behind on my garage project, so she ended up going with her friend while I dealt with spiderwebs and sawdust in the garage. By the end of the week I was exhausted and frustrated. And that was the last time I took a stay-at-home vacation. When you stay home, it’s not really a vacation at all, because life gets in the way.[ 

While many people imagine retirement as a permanent vacation, it isn’t. Retirement is more like a stay-at-home vacation. You’re not going to work, but you still have all your usual responsibilities, whether it’s taking care of the house and yard, doing your volunteer job or taking care of grandchildren. To really relax and take time off, you have to get away from home.

Here are five reasons to take a vacation in retirement.

A Vacation Improves Your Psychological Well-Being.

Taking time off from your normal responsibilities can help lower stress levels, especially if you spend that time with friends or loved ones. Also, when you do something adventurous or exciting – whether it’s skydiving, scuba diving or viewing the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall of China – your brain gives you a small blast of dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and personal satisfaction. In short, doing something special makes you feel good.

Vacations Make You Happier.

An adequate amount of free time, and having control over your time, is an important factor in determining how satisfied you are with your life overall. In addition, play has powerful benefits – for adults as well as children. Playing a sport or a game involves anticipation, competition, surprise and pleasure, and takes you away from your self-assessing and sometimes self-critical tendencies. No one worries about what’s going on at home when they’re horseback riding, waterskiing or playing a round of golf or bridge.[ 

Vacations Enrich Your Relationships.

Spending time together with your spouse deepens your marriage, and taking part in activities with friends cements the ties that bind you together. Traditions and rituals, such as getting together for holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, strengthens your relationships and gives meaning to your life. You talk with one another, take strength from the social and emotional support and make lifelong memories.

Travel Breaks Up Your Routine.

Even if you’re retired, you still have a routine. You get up in the morning, have breakfast, read the paper, go on social media, visit the gym or do your volunteer job, then eat dinner and go to bed at the same time every night. When you get away from home you break out of the familiar rhythm and attain some perspective on life. There is nothing that will make your problems seem small like watching the rolling waves at the ocean, and nothing that will give you more perspective on life than spending time with grandchildren you hardly ever see.[ 

Trips Help the Economy.

Traveling often involves nights spent at hotels, tours booked and cruises taken. Paying for those things helps to create jobs for someone else and stimulates the overall economy. So taking a vacation doesn’t just improve your own life – it helps other people as well.

Hot New Hotels to Check Out in 2019

With modern-day perks like private butlers and pick-your-own prices, these fabulous new hotels may be perfect for your next vacation.
Are you planning your 2019 travels but don’t know where to stay? Consider some new properties that boast luxurious and unusual amenities. From resorts set along the deep blue Caribbean Sea to trendy hubs in the hustle and bustle of London, these hot new additions are worth checking out this year.

New hotels

At this unusual Colorado Springs property, which opened in September 2018, the focus is on sustainable living, wellness and affordable rates. As such, guests set their own prices for accommodations upon checkout (with suggested rates in mind) based on the quality of their stay. Rooms at the pet-friendly SCP Hotel Colorado Springs feature keyless entry, handmade furniture by local carpenters, rock salt lamps and humidifiers with essential oils. When it’s time for a bite to eat, visitors can head to the on-site market for healthy, locally sourced options. Then, travelers can burn some calories at SCP Fit, the hotel’s fitness area. It offers yoga and spin classes, a rock climbing wall and indoor and outdoor pools

New hotels

Club Med will be opening a new resort on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic in December 2019. The brand’s first Exclusive Collection in the Americas, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is located about 60 miles northwest of Punta Cana and is enveloped by natural beaches. The area is also home to other outdoor attractions, including a bay for whale watching, a nature reserve with waterfalls and Montaña Redonda (Rounded Mountain), which offers panoramic views. Couples can find peace in the resort’s adults-only section, while younger travelers can enjoy the property’s children’s clubs

New hotels

Situated within the bustling shopping district of King Street by Marion Square, the original home of The Citadel, Hotel Bennett opened in January 2019. It houses 179 rooms and suites with upscale decor, local artwork and amenities, such as minibars and pedestal tubs with separate showers. Book a room with lounge access for views of King Street and free food and drinks throughout the day in a private area. Other noteworthy hotel features include a heated rooftop pool, a French patisserie and the two-story, Southern-style Gabrielle restaurant

New hotels

Inclusive Resorts in the USA

Though all-inclusive properties aren’t as common in the U.S. as they are in vacation hot spots like Mexico or the Caribbean, there are still plenty of luxurious American resorts perfect for guests on the hunt for a hassle-free vacation. These top properties include the cost of meals, drinks and activities in the room rate or offer all-inclusive package add-ons for travelers to choose from. From expansive ranches to wellness retreats removed from major cities to family getaways in some of America’s most popular destinations, these 10 all-inclusive resorts in the United States – many of which also appear on the U.S. News Best Hotels rankings – provide guests with unforgettable experiences.

All-inclusive resorts

Nestled in the foothills of western Massachusetts in a 19th-century mansion, this Berkshires resort is an ideal getaway destination for wellness-oriented travelers. Along with all meals and snacks, the all-inclusive rate at Canyon Ranch Lenox covers access to more than 35 daily activities, including yoga and arts classes. Recent lodgers loved how healthy and customizable their meals were (options range from lobster to tiramisu), and they appreciated the complimentary transfers to and from local airports. What’s more, guests have access to a $160 daily credit they can put toward premium activities of their choosing, such as massages, facials and one-on-one consultations with nutritionists.

All-inclusive resorts

Club Med Sandpiper Bay provides endless opportunities for family fun in the heart of South Florida. Located on the water about 47 miles north of West Palm Beach, this property boasts numerous activities and amenities – many of which are covered by your room rate. These include a flying trapeze school, sailing lessons and kayaking. Parents will love the two bars, the 18-hole golf course and the L’Occitane Spa, while youngsters can enjoy the kids club, the beach, the nightly entertainment and the oceanfront pool. At the end of the day, the whole family can reconvene for casual fare at Marketplace, the on-site restaurant covered by the all-inclusive package

All-inclusive resorts

The Caribbean Comeback: 12 New and Renovated Caribbean Hotels to Visit

Expect excellent amenities, beautiful beachfront locations and upgraded accommodations at these resorts.

New and renovated Caribbean hotels

The 2017 hurricane season took a major toll on the Caribbean islands, causing widespread destruction and hardship for the region. And while some hotels are still recovering from the damage, the Caribbean is on the mend. Today, many traveler-approved hotels and all-inclusive resorts have reopened, and several new properties have debuted to the public. Read on to see what updated features visitors can enjoy at renovated hotels and what the newest properties have to offer.

Serafina Beach Hotel was the first hotel to open in Puerto Rico in 2018, six months after Hurricane Maria barreled across the island. The beachfront property is located in the Condado neighborhood less than 3 miles east of Old San Juan. The hotel draws its decor inspiration from its surroundings, touting a “beach-chic” vibe with accommodations outfitted in tones of turquoise, sea foam green, white and gray. Travelers say the modern decor and atmosphere is particularly conducive to adults and couples – the hotel offers “Serafina Happenings” on the weekends, with DJs and happy hours. Guests also have access to an infinity-edge pool, beach lounge chairs, a seafood restaurant, a lobby bar, a coffee shop and a pool bar. 

New and renovated Caribbean hotels