All About the Romance

Valentine’s Day in Paris. The iconic city of love. *Cue the swoon.*

Okay, so it might be cliché for lovers to spend time in Paris. But folks, it’s cliché for a reason. This elegant and fabulous city is the ideal place to rendezvous with your partner.

However, instead of giving you the same old activities – the love lock bridge or  kissing on the Eiffel Tower  – I’ve done my best to wrangle up some unique and romantic ideas for you to surprise your significant other.

The “I Love You” Wall

Everyone knows about the love lock bridge. But what about the “I Love You” wall? This romantic wall is found in the middle of the Abbesses Garden in Montmartre. The wall has an area of 40 square meters and is covered with thousands of different ways to say “I Love You” in over 300 languages. If you are found speechless in your lover’s presence, the wall will lend you a few tips of what to say. The wall was created by two artists, Frederic Baron and Claire Kito, to honour love and eternal adoration. Frederic Baron collected all the phrases by knocking on the doors of the embassies and asking for their unique expressions of love. So lock hands instead of padlocks, and take a stroll past this charming wall.

Photo Credit: ConstatineD@Flickr.

Photo Credit: ConstatineD@Flickr.

A Night Out to a Blues Club

Photo Credit: evoo73@Flickr.

Photo Credit: evoo73@Flickr.

Blues and jazz music is full of soul with its soothing saxophone, harmonica and heart-felt lyrics. Its mood is contagious. You’ll find yourself sweetly seduced by the end of the evening at Le Caveau des Oubliettes, the oldest jazz club in Paris. There’s a bar in the upstairs of the club, but the place that you’ll want to be is in the 12th century underground wine cellar where the music is performed. The perfect space to get cosy and relax with a glass of wine.

Take a Row Near the Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is a bustling tourist destination, but you may find the grand canal next to the palace less crowded. Why not enjoy your time together on the water and rent a small row boat built for two for a romantic float down the river? Then you could gaze longingly into one another’s eyes without interruption, admire the palace from a new vantage point and say hello to all the ducks.

Photo Credit: jasonb42882@Flickr.

Photo Credit: jasonb42882@Flickr.

Prepare a Picnic in Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Pack a blanket, some pastries and a bottle of wine, and make your way to Parc des Buttes Chaumont – the fifth largest park in Paris and arguably the most gorgeous. Once there. you and your partner can marvel at the Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature version of the famous ancient Roman Temple of Vesta. Then make sure to venture through the rest of the Parisian park to enjoy the green landscape with cliffs, grottos and waterfalls. The views are breath-taking and off the beaten tourist path, so there will most likely be privacy for a head-spinning kiss with your love.

Photo Credit: Lombana@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Lombana@Wikipedia.

Get Lost in the Winding Street of Paris

Photo Credit: Panoramas@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Panoramas@Flickr.

Rent a bicycle with your special someone and just wander the winding, unexplored streets of Paris to find those hidden gems that you’ll cherish forever – an aromatic bakery, a quirky boutique or a quaint book shop. Stroll through gardens and courtyards. Sit on a secluded bench and simply spend time together people watching, chatting or showing a little affection. The French won’t even bat an eyelash; after all, it is the city of love. In the end, just enjoy the moment with your love because that is all that matters.

To ensure that you take advantage of each hour during your romantic Valentine’s Day in Paris, you’ll want to find a place to spend the night or even an entire weekend. Loving Apartments offers over 300 apartments throughout the city, giving you and your significant other a place to relax after a lovely day that you’ll be sure to cherish for years to come.

>Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

Europe’s Best Film Festivals

Film festivals have become all the rage across the globe to celebrate the art of cinema and the talents of those working within that field. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of film festivals hosted across the European continent featuring independent films, students films, LGBT films, fantasy and horror films, documentaries and any other sort of genre that you can imagine. Loving Apartments wants to narrow down the search for you and present some of the top European film festivals that take place in major cities we offer accommodation so you’ll have convenient lodging as you enjoy the festival.

London

Photo Credit: spiritquest@Flickr.

Photo Credit: spiritquest@Flickr.

The BFI Film Festival, also referred to as the London Film Festival, is the largest public film festival in both London and the United Kingdom under the supervision of the British Film Institute. The festival originally began in 1953 with the intention of making the festival accessible to the general public, screening films that people would not normally have the opportunity to see in the United Kingdom; it has been living up to that goal ever since and continues to grow each year. While still being a festival geared towards the public, it has also started to be attended by film professionals and movie stars from across the globe. So if you plan on attending the festival, be sure to bring your camera to snap a photo of your favourite movie star. Today’s festival screens around 250 films over 12 days, mostly taking place in cinemas in Leicester Square and South Bank. The festival is opened and closed with galas with premières, workshops, short films and Q&A’s in between. The BFI Festival will take place in mid-October. Official dates have not yet been announced for 2015.

Sitges

Photo Credit: Baggio@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Baggio@Wikipedia.

The Sitges‘ annual film festival, officially referred to as the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, is the most recognized fantasy film festival in the world. The week dedicated to fantasy and horror films began in 1968 and was the first one of its type, starting an international trend. Thousands of people come together to celebrate the imagination, art and technological advances that fantasy and horror film genre makes with each year. Popular film stars such as Quentin Tarantino, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Paul Verhoeven and many, many more have graced the red carpets of the festival. The 2015 Sitges’ Film Festival will be hosted from 3 October to 12 October , and accommodation is usually booked up months in advance so be sure to book your accommodation with us early to ensure your spot.

Berlin

Berlin has a long-standing reputation of being a cultural hub attracting artist and admirers with its diversity cultural scene. Berlin has proved to be one an influential city in the film industry with the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, each February. The 2015 festival will be held from 5 February to 15 February. The festival usually sells around 300,000 tickets sold with 20,000 professional visitor from 124 countries. Films of any genre, length and format are welcomed and will certainly find an award category to compete in. Not only does the festival feature all new films, but they also screen restorations of old classics as well. So if your feeling nostalgic, you are in luck. The Berlinale in a source of both entertainment and inspiration for the film industry with panel discussions, film programmes, workshops and joint projects. It has become a great collaboration between film professionals, actors, actresses and fans.

Photo Credit: bigamex@Flickr.

Photo Credit: bigamex@Flickr.

Paris

Photo Credit: SparkABC@Flickr.

Photo Credit: SparkABC@Flickr.

In case you are more interested in non-fiction films and documentaries, the International Documentary Film Festival in Paris is the place for you. This Parisian film festival, also called Cinéma du Réel, has been screening ethnographic and sociological films since 1979 at the Centre Pompidou. Each year this film festival increases awareness and creates on open dialogue concerning human rights, political issues and current events. Cinéma du Réel spends ten days broadening horizons and educating while still entertaining with over 200 films from 32 countries, which can be a difficult feat. The film festival is operated on a smaller scale than most in Europe, but it has just as much influence on the film industry and perhaps even more influence on the daily lives of the public. The next festival will be hosted from March 19 to March 29 in 2015.

>Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

A Villa Holiday

Sure, you could always take the usual holiday where you go to the city or even just decide to stay home. You could tell your friends and colleagues about your predictable plans and watch their eyes glaze over as they nod in disinterest. These plans aren’t anything new. They’ve been done over and over again.

Or you could avoid all the dullness and just plan an out-of-the-ordinary holiday right from the start? Loving Apartments‘ suggestion for you – a villa holiday.

We’ve got loads of villas to offer you. We actually offer around 35 villas in Provence, 30 villas in Tuscany and 5 villas in Côte d’Azur. All of these locations allow you to enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside, and some of villas are even located near cities – so you can have the best of both worlds. Another huge advantage of taking a holiday in a villa is the space that you are afforded. You can take your entire family and more with you. Take your friends or your extended family.

I’ve chosen some of my favourite villas from Loving Apartments’ portfolio to feature. Take a look and just image the holiday that is waiting for you there.

Provence

Mas le Cailletier:

This five bedroom villa is located within 50 hectares of land. The home is surrounded by orchards, creating a wonderful landscape to admire. Not only does the villa hold the appeal of the beautiful surrounding countryside, but the villa is also outside of a larger resort so it includes access to a garden and a children’s playground. Guests also have a private access to the lawn, swimming pool, pool house and table tennis. The villa itself offers air conditioning, wifi, a TV and a DVD player. It can sleep up to 9 people, so start thinking of your invite list. Here are some photos to get a peek into the countryside haven:

Mas le Cailletier I                 Mas le Cailletier II

Mas le Cailletier III                 Mas le Cailletier IV

Col de l’Ange:

Col de l’Ange is a charming, 3 bedroom villa located in Draguignan, Provence. The villa includes a large lawn with flowers, trees and a private swimming pool. It’s only a short drive away from the beach and also several lakes. Not to mention the villa also has a high definition flat screen TV, wifi, air conditioning, a dishwasher and all the other necessary kitchen appliances. It also has a terrace with a BBQ, mosquito net and a beautiful view of the French countryside. It has everything you need for a memorable summer holiday with your friends and family.

Col de l'Ange I               Col de l'Ange II

Col de l'Ange III              Col de l'Ange IV

Tuscany

Villa ll Salicone

This bright and spacious villa in the Italian counrtyside sleeps up to 16 people. That’s a number of guests that you probably won’t be able to accommodate in your home, just another good reason to stay in a villa for your summer holiday. The villa is located near an observation tower of the Montalbano Hills where you are rewarded with a exquisite view of the countryside, olive groves, vineyards and the stronghold tower of Serravalle. The accommodation also includes a swimming pool, a private garden, wifi and room cleaning weekly. For added convenience and interest, it is also situated near a pretty Tuscan town.

Salicone I                 Salicone II

Salicone III                 Salicone IV

 La Veduta

This charming villa is a slice of heaven. Its home is on an organic farm that produces wine and oil. La Veduta is situated upon a hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves with a view of Siena. You can’t get more Tuscan than that. It will be a haven of peace and quiet. If you desire, the owner can arrange tennis matches, tasting tours of local produce, cooking courses or wine  tasting. The villa has 8 bedrooms that can sleep up to 16 people – plenty of room for all your guests. The accommodation also includes a large swimming pool and a 12-person jacuzzi with exquisite views of the Siena hills. You’ll never want to leave.

Veduta I              Veduta II

Veduta III              Veduta IV

Côte d’Azur

 Terrasse Croix Gardes

This modern french villa, located near Cannes, includes a swimming pool, private garden and BBQ. It’s also conveniently located only 2.5 km from the beach for a sunny afternoon with your family or friends. The villa also comes with air conditioning, wifi, TV, DVD player, a terrace and a balcony – all the ingredients for a relaxing summer holiday. Terrasse Croiz Gardes can sleep up to 8 people in 4 bedrooms, and it has 3 bathrooms. It’s the perfect size for a family.

Villa              Villa II

Villa III            Villa IV

 

Soakin’ Up Sicily

Sicily has so much to explore – from Greek temples to seaside havens. If you’re planning to visit, you’ll want to set aside plenty of time to take in all glorious sites and Sicilian culture. Loving Apartments has just recently added Sicilian accommodation to our portfolio, so we wanted to take the time to show you just a few of many highlights.

Agrigento

Sights

Valle dei Templi

Valle dei Templi (Valley of Temples) is an archaeological site, one of Italy’s national monuments and a UNESCO Heritage Site. The site is composed of seven ancient temples to Juno, Concordia, Heracles, Olympian Zeus, Castor and Pollux, Vulcan and Asclepius. This valley is considered one of the greatest examples of Greater Greece architecture and art.

Photo Credit: Jos Dielis

Photo Credit: Jos Dielis@Flickr.

Scala dei Turchi

Photo Credit: Lahiri Cappello@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Lahiri Cappello@Flickr.

Scala deit Turchi (Stair of Turks) is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte near Porto Empedocle in southern Sicily, and it is a UNESCO Heritage Site too. The cliff is well-known because of its unique white colour. The beaches of Scala dei Turchi has some of the best beaches in Sicily. Luckily, they are usually not crowded.

Food

Kalòs

This classic Sicilian restaurant allows you to watch the sunset as you dine on the balcony. The restaurant is known for preparing local and fresh food. Their home-made pasta has a good reputation, particularly their spaghetti all’agrigentina. That dish goes especially well with their spada gratinata – baked fish covered in bread crumbs. Then round your meal off perfectly with white wine and an almond semifreddo.

Address:

Salita Filino, 1
92100 Agrigento

Leon d’Oro

Leon d’Oro is claimed to be one of the local’s favourite restaurants known for their fish and fowl. The plate that you’ll want to try is the baccalà – salted cod with potatoes – and the calamari su agrumi – cuttlefish served with fruits. The restaurant also has an excellent wine selection.

Address:

Viale Emporium, 102
92100 San Leone Agrigento

Accommodation Top-Pick

Albert 3-Bedroom House:

Agrigento I       Agrigento III

Cefalú

Sights

La Rocca

La Rocca of Cefalú is a massive crag with an altitude of 270 metres. The rock is famous for its Greek mythological history with the legend of the shepherd Daphnis who was blinded by the goddess Hera. He was then tranformed by the god Hermes into a huge crag. If you brave a climb up La Rocca, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the coastline, the remains of the Cefalú castle and the ruins of the Temple Diana.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

The Cathedral

Photo Credit: Dzhingarova@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Dzhingarova@Flickr.

The Cathedral of Cefalú is one of Sicily’s major Norman monuments that was built in 1131. The cathedral exemplifies Norman architecture and also serves as an ode to Arab, Byzantine, Latin and Nordic art as well. The most striking features of the Cathedral are its two majestic towers, its large portico and its intricate mosaic designs. Definitely worth a stop to admire the unique architecture and beauty.

Food

Ti Vitti

Ti Vitti, managed by the talented chef Vincenzo Collaro, only prepares its dishes with the freshest of ingredients from local sources, including local treats like basilisco mushrooms from the Monte Madonie. If you decide to dine at Ti Vitti, consider ordering the delicious pasta, fresh-from-the-market fish dishes or the much-recommended cannoli.

Address:

Via Umberto I, 34
90015 Cefalù

Ostaria del Duomo

This is the perfect restaurant to visit if you want to soak up the Cefalú sights because the eatery gives you full-on views of La Rocca and the Cathedral. As you enjoy the views, try out the house speciality of carpaccio de pesce – raw, thinly sliced fish – with your wine of choice from an extensive selection.

Address:

Via Seminario 5
90015 Cefalù PA

Accommodation Top-Pick

Patio 2-Bedroom Apartment:

Cefalu II       Cefalu I

Palermo

Sights

Palermo’s Markets

The winding medieval streets of Palermo are full of stands and shops offering fresh produce and artisan crafts -a plethora of fresh vegetables, fruit and speciality breads and cheese. If you’re lucky, you might even receive some free tastings. The main street markets are Vucciria, Ballarò, il Capo and Borgo Vecchio.

Photo Credit: zak mc@Flickr.

Photo Credit: zak mc@Flickr.

Teatro Massimo

The Teatro Massimo, a neoclassical opera house, is an iconic landmark of Palermo. You can either admire it’s lovely architecture and decor, attend a performance or make time for both. Fun fact: the closing scene of The Godfather: Part III was filmed here. Guided 25-minute tours are offered in English, Spanish, French and Italian daily – except on Monday.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Food

Trattoria Ai Cascinari

This restaurant is particularly known for its quaint ambiance and its friendly service. You’ll find the place packed with locals with the wait staff constantly serving dishes of scrumptious antipasta and main dishes. Make sure to save room for the restaurant’s homemade ice cream and exquisite desserts.

Address:

Via D’Ossuna, 43
90138 Palermo

Ferro di Cavallo

Ferro di Cavallo is one of the most affordable places to dine in Sicily with nothing on the menu that costs more than €7. Tables line the side walks, colored walls and art brighten up the eatery and the menu is full of classic, Sicilian dishes.

Address:

Via Venezia, 20
90133 Palermo

Accommodation Top-Pick

Giardino delle Palme Apartment:

Palermo I        Palermo II

Siracusa

Sights

The Archaeological Site

Photo Credit: HBarrison@Flickr.

Photo Credit: HBarrison@Flickr.

The archaeological site is home to a vast amount of well-preserved Greek and Roman ruins. The main attraction at the park that you won’t want to miss is the Greek theatre that dates back at least until the 5th Century BC. The theatre is still used during the annual Greek Theatre Festival from the middle of May to the end of June. Other things to see while at the site are the old stone quarries, the Roman ampitheatre and the archaeological museum.

Fontana Aretusa

This ancient spring still bubbles forth fresh water as it did during during ancients eras as the city’s main water supply. According to legend, the goddess Artemis transformed her beautiful handmaiden Aretusa into the spring to protect her from the unwelcome attention of the river god Alpheus. The fountain has now become a lovely place to spend a summer evening.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

 Food

Le Vin De L’Assasin Bistrot

Le Vin De L’Assasin Bistrot has earned a reputation of being a stylish and refreshing restaurant by adding a French twist to traditional Sicilian dishes. The most sought after dishes at this restaurant are the tuna steak with hazelnuts and honey, quiche lorraine, croque-monsieur and Breton oysters. You must save room for dessert after your main dish so that you can savour their home-made, creamy and chocolatey desserts. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekends.

Address:

Via Roma, 15
96100 Siracus

Don Camillo

Don Camillo is elegant with an impressive kitchen, excellent service and sophisticated décor. The most recommended dishes at the restaurant are the ‘black’ king prawns in a thick almond cream soup, the tagliata di pesce spada – grilled and sliced swordfish in a tomato sauce – or the red snapper with fig and lemon. Top off your meal with blood-orange ice cream.

Address:

Via della Maestranza, 96
96100 Siracusa

Accommodation Top-Pick

La Rosa Apartment:

Syracuse I      Syracuse II

Loving Apartments’ Luxury Collection

Loving Apartments knows how to do luxury – rooftop terraces, grand views, stylish furniture, spas and sophistication. Because when you’re on holiday, you deserve the best.

Many of our incredible locations have stunning luxury collections ranging from chic modernity to classically posh.  I could keep telling you how remarkable these apartments are . . . or I could just show you. The photos speak for themselves.

Paris

Georges I        Georges IV

Geroges V        Georges II

The Georges V luxury apartment in Paris is fit for royalty with its crystal chandeliers, French Savonnerie carpets, antique furniture and white marble fireplace.

 

Loft I       Loft II

Loft III       Loft IV

The Montorgueil Luxe Loft is spacious, light and sleek. Even though the Parisian loft is modern, it has a fascinating history as a renovated printing housed used by the Resistance for printing publications in the 1870’s.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam I       Amsterdam II

 Amsterdam III    Amsterdam IV

The Leidseplein Royal Penthouse is urban chic with high gabled ceilings with exposed beams, parquet floors and elegant decor. The luxurious accommodation also includes a deck jacuzzi with a remarkable view of the Leidseplein.

London

 London I

 London II   London IV

This attractive apartment gives a marvellous view of the London skyline and the iconic Tower Bridge. You won’t be able to top the accommodation’s central city location.

Zermatt

Zermatt I    Zermatt II

Zermatt III   Zermat V

This trendy apartment is open and luminous, providing you a breathtaking view of the landscape. The high ceilings, mod furnishings and glass walls are the very definition of luxury.

 

Zermatt II     Zermatt III

Zermatt I

This spectacular chalet is all about leisure and relaxation with its sauna and cosy corners to enjoy the striking Swiss back drop.

Barcelona

Barcelona I     Barcelona II

Barcelona III     Barcelona IV

This classically luxurious apartment has ornate trimmings, elegant draperies and handsome wood floors. Complete opulence and Barcelona at its finest.

Discovering Valais

Valais lies in the South-west of Switzerland, stretching 150 km along the Rhone Valley between the Rhone Glacier and Lake Geneva. Valais has an impressive range of landscapes. Within just a few kilometres, some of the highest peaks of the Alps are bumping elbows with almost subtropical areas where almonds and pomegranates are found.

The Rhone Valley dominates the region, but the main skiing resorts and other small villages are in side valleys to the north and south. Some of these resorts include Zermatt, Verbier, Crans-Montana, Saas-Fee and Nendaz. Loving Apartments offers accommodation at each, giving their guests convenience and comfort after a day of winter sports and activities.

Zermatt

Zermatt Final Photo

Zermatt is the most glamorous ski resort you’ll find in the Swiss Alps. The village lies at the foot of the majestic Matterhorn and offers a glorious view of the surrounding peaks. Nestled in a deep valley near the Italian border, Zermatt has become a cosy destination with its romantic cobbled streets, horse-drawn sleighs and quiet corners. You won’t be bothered by the hustle and bustle of traffic because combustion engine transport is not allowed in order to prevent pollution. The atmosphere is instantly welcoming with the fresh Alpine air, one-of-a-kind shops, quality restaurants and traditional chalets. The area’s beauty is simply unsurpassed.

Zermatt Blog Photo

Zermatt is the heart of Swiss winter sports with the highest mountains in Europe. The three main ski areas – the Sunnegga, the Gornergrat and the Klein Matterhorn – soar to altitudes over 3,100 metres with fabulous snow conditions and long runs. The longest, and most recommended, run is from the Klein Matterhorn to Zermatt. The trail covers 13 km of varied terrain. On the way down, skiers will be awed by the white glacial world with sweeping views of Switzerland, Italy and even distant France. These three areas offer skiers of all levels over 250 kilometers of trails. That is a lot of ground to cover, so it’s a good thing that Zermatt has the longest winter ski season in the Alps from late November to the start of May. If slope skiing doesn’t take your interest as much as cross country skiing, there are also cross country skiing routes with the Täsch and Randa trails.

And this is only skiing. We haven’t even begun to scrape the surface of all the other winter sports opportunities.

Photo Credit: dsearls@Flickr.

Photo Credit: dsearls@Flickr.

Snowboarders can find good terrain and a half pipe near Riffelberg and a snowboarding park on the Klein Matterhorn. Winter hiking, snowshoeing and sledding trails are scattered throughout the Zermatt region, and you’ll find hockey, skating and curling in the village.

But Zermatt is more than just winter sports. During the summer season, almost every sport imaginable is offered from mountain biking, to hiking, to golf and tennis.

Since Zermatt is car-free, the most sensible way to travel there is by train. The trip is beautiful because it takes you through the deepest cleft in Switzerland with the highest mountains on either side of you.

Here is some additional information about Zermatt to help in your holiday planning.

Featured Accommodation in Zermatt

Heinz Julen Penthouse Chalet:

This light and chic apartment has 4 bedrooms, sleeping up to 8 people. It has stylish furnishings, a terrace, sauna and gorgeous views of the Swiss landscape.

Zermatt I      Zermatt II

Zermatt III      Zermatt IV

Verbier

Verbier Final Photo

Verbier is the main ski resort in the four valleys – Switzerland’s largest ski area. It is reputed as being Europe’s premiere off-piste resort with ranging slopes for all skill levels. The resort is popular with weekenders from London and Geneva, giving it a buzzing energy and exciting atmosphere. The village is full of ski and fashion shops, award-winning restaurants and lively bars and nightclubs. The mix of breathtaking scenery, sporting terrain, and nightlife attracts youthful and athletic visitors from all over the world.

Verbie Blog Photo

Now let’s get down to business. Skiing. Verbier is one of the largest lift-linked ski regions in Switzerland with 412 km of well-maintained pistes – 39% for beginners, 44% for intermediates and 17% for advanced skiers. The entire lift system links the resorts of Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Bruson, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon. If your looking for a thrill off the beaten skiing path, try the daunting vertical drop of 2,000 metres of off-piste skiing from Mont Glacier.

The off-piste opportunities and competitions like the Verbier Ride and O’Neill Xtreme set the skiing standard high, so Verbier attracts top skiers and boarders from all over the world. Don’t let that phase you though. Verbier is suited for all sorts of skiers. Take a look at Verbier’s official website to read additional information on the skiing region.

Featured Accommodation in Verbier

La Toura Apartment:

This 3 bedroom apartment sleeps up to 6 people and has a balcony that gives guests an incredible view of the mountains and valley.

Verbier I      Verbier II

Crans-Montana

Crans-Montana Final Photo

Crans-Montana is composed of two neighbouring resorts situated on a sun-drenched plateau above the Rhone Valley at 1,500 metres altitude. The twin towns have much to offer visitors all year round. They have a remarkable view of all the mountain peaks from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc. Crans-Montana offers some of the most extensive Alpine shopping around and is also home to a renowned culture and congress centre. The towns have  been a popular venue for sporting events, especially because of their reputation as a golfing Mecca. The resort also gives visitors the chance to enjoy nature with five swimming lakes and footpaths through the mountain forests. There is literally something for all tastes.

Crans-Montana Blog Photo

Crans-Montana offers skiing at 1,500 metres on the resort’s altitude level and then skiing at 3,000 metres off Plaine-Morte Glacier.  There are 140 km of marked pistes: 17 blue, 20 red and 4 black. The valley descent down the Piste National is particularly popular as the longest run in the region, and advanced skiers can take to the chairlift to La Toule to find a challenge. Crans-Montana is known for having broad carving pistes which means that skiers and snowboarders can use them safely side-by-side. You can enjoy night skiing on some of the pistes, and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can organize a torch-lit descent.

In winter, all the golf courses are transformed into havens for cross country skiers and hikers. Mountain bikers will also find a place for themselves with 117 km of marked pistes, two downhill runs and the Kona Bikepark.

If you decide to plan a holiday to Crans-Montana, this additional link may come in handy.

Featured Accommodation in Crans-Montana

Tsaumiau Apartment:

This 6 room accommodation can sleep up to 10 people, so it’s a great location to bring a group of friends for a winter holiday.

Crans-Montana I       Crans-Montana II

Saas-Fee

Saas-Fee Final Photo

Until the 14th century, Saas was the only community in the Saas Valley. However since then, Saas has grown and transformed into four different villages. One of them became Saas-Fee –  “The Pearl of the Alps.” The village is situated on a plateau above the other three communities – Saas-Grund, Saas Almagell and Saas Balen. Saas-Fee has been declared a “miniature Zermatt” and is a charming Alpine village with its streets lined with chalets. Similar to other mountain villages, it is car free, so you can figure on a peaceful community for your winter holiday. Not to mention, Saas-Fee is encompassed by 13 mountain peaks, so you’ll constantly be surrounded by the dazzling Alpine scenery.

Saas-Fee Blog Photo

Saas-Fee offers several lofty pistes. Some reaching up to 3,600 metres, so you can also be certain of snow. Slopes are also serviced by 95 snow cannons to ensure that you have plenty of the white fluff to make a successful descent. The resort provides 150 km of slopes for skiers of all levels and 4 different snow parks. Getting around the slopes in Saas-Fee is convenient with 22 railways leading to the pistes, including the Metro Alpine that takes people to the world’s highest revolving restaurant.

Saas Fee is also known for favouring winter hikers. The area has 20 km of trails for winter hiking in order for adventurers to admire the beautiful landscape. There are also various toboggan runs in the valley as another alternative to skiing. The longest run is 11 km from Kreuzboden to Saas-Grund and has become a favorite run of the locals.

Take a look at this link for some more information about Saas-Fee.

Featured Accommodation in Saas-Fee

Allegra:

This apartment is modern, chic, and the perfect place to relax after a day out on the slopes.

Allegra I      Allegra II

Allegra III      Allegra IV

Nendaz

Nendaz Final Photo

Nendaz is located on a mountainside overlooking the Rhone Valley. The village originally started as a farming community, but over time it transformed into a winter holiday destination and ski resort area. However, that farming tradition is still evident in remaining cow sheds, barns, grain stores, fruit orchards and the annual alphorn festival. Nendaz is known as being an affordable and family-friendly ski resort. The village is fairly large and is full of chalets and apartments, shops and a variety of bars and restaurants.

Photo Credit: vasile23@Flickr.

Photo Credit: vasile23@Flickr.

Nendaz is situated in the four valleys ski region in Switzerland – along with Verbier, Veysonnaz, La Tsoumaz and Thyon. However, Nendaz is the best for children and beginners with their exceptional nursery slopes and the wide blues on Tracouet. Intermediate skiers will be thrilled with good carving runs from the top of the Alpage, and expert skiers can try their luck on off-pistes routes that the four valleys is known for. There are also back country skiing options that advanced skiers can try, starting with Siviez-Chassoure route and building up to the Tortin Wall, which has been listed as one of the “scariest ski runs in the world.”

Boards may not appreciate the gradient-lacking tracks from one valley to the next, but they will be sure to love the two snowparks that Nendaz offers. There is the Nendaz Snowpark for beginners, and the Burton Progression Park which is geared more towards advanced boarders. Visitors to Nendaz can find alternative winter activities on 12 km of cross-country ski trails, 100 km of winter hiking trails and 40 km of snowshoe routes.

If you would like to plan a holiday in Nendaz, here is some additional information to help.

Featured Accommodation in Nendaz

Les Roches Apartment:

This beautiful and luxurious apartment sleeps up to eight people in 4 bedrooms. The accommodation also includes a sauna, hot tub, children’s play equipment, and a storage room for ski equipment.

Les Roches I      Les Roches II

Les Roches III      Les Roches IV

In case you would like to plan your winter holiday for somewhere else, check out the other regions in Switzerland that Loving Apartments offers accommodation:

Alpes Vaudoises                                                       Bernese Mittelland

Central Switzerland                                                Eastern Switzerland

Freiburg                                                                        Jura

Lake Geneva                                                               Lake Zurich

Mittelbunden                                                             Surselva

Ticino                                                                              Bernese Oberland

Skiing in Bernese Oberland

Bernese Oberland – one of the most beautiful mountain regions in Switzerland – is located in the southern end of the Bern canton in central Switzerland. Bernese Oberland has become a desirable destination with its endless winter sports options and stunning scenery – emerald green lakes, snow-capped mountains and picturesque villages. Loving Apartments now offers accommodation throughout the entire region, and they are worth taking a peek at. However, we’ve chosen to spotlight a few popular areas in order to give you some top tips about skiing in Bernese Oberland.

Grindelwald

Grindelwald Final Photo

Grindelwald gives off an air of Alpine charm that is one-of-a-kind with the north faces of Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau as a dazzling backdrop. However, the true gem of Grindelwald is the Aletsch Glacier, the biggest glacier of the Alps and the source of the River Rhone. Travellers can catch a train into the heart of Eiger that eventually emerges at 3,545 metres on the edge of the glacier. Striking views across the peaks of the Bernese Oberland and north over the Swiss plains into Germany await anyone who makes the journey.

The skiing in Grindelwald is best for intermediate skiers with 131 km of slopes. There is also 50 km of slopes for beginners and 32 km for advanced skiers. The area has become popular with families, which is partly due to its reputed skiing school with English speaking instructors. Another unique feature of Grindelwald is that it uses a cog railway and gondola (Europe’s longest) to get around the slopes.

As if the skiing and the view from the glacier  aren’t enough reasons to visit, the village of Grindelwald  itself is picture perfect.

JBKalender98Dez

Grindelwald is easily accessed by express trains from Interlaken, by car on Swiss’ national highways to Spiez and then via Interlaken to Grindelwald, or by air from international airports in Zürich, Geneva and Basel or from the regional airport at Berne. Direct train connections are available from Zürich or Geneva airports.

If you would like to learn more information about the Grindelwald in order to plan your trip, try taking a look here.

Featured Accommodation in Grindelwald

Chalet Rotstöcki Apartment:

A new and luxurious chalet that can sleep up to 6 people in 3 bedrooms. The apartment also includes the use of 24 hour reception, a sauna and a storage room for skis.

Grindelwald I      Grindelwald II

Grindelwald III      Grindelwald IV

Gstaad

Gstaad Final Photo II

Gstaad is one of the largest and most diverse winter sports areas with the only glacier ski region in Bernese Oberland and 220 kilometres of runs between 1,000 and 3,000 metres above sea level. It usually has good conditions for winter activities from the end of October to the start of May. Gstaad is favourable to beginning skiers with over half of the slopes rated as a blue difficulty level. There is also one permanent ski-cross run on the Rinderberg in Zweisimmen that includes wild waves, bowls, steeply banked curves and jumps – perfect for any adrenaline junkies out there.

The chalet village of Gstaad has a traffic free centre, creating a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere. It is home to one of Switzerland’s most popular shopping streets with a good mix of restaurants, shops and bars. Throughout the decades, Gstaad has become a destination for the rich and famous like the Kennedy’s, Princess Grace, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor  who were all attracted to Gstaad for its idyllic scenery and its luxury chalets.

Photo Credit: Nouhailler@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Nouhailler@Flickr.

Gstaad can be accessed by rail or car from the Berne region, Central Switzerland, the Valais region and the Lausanne region. Direct connections by rail or taxi are also offered from airports in Zürich, Geneva, Bern, and Saanen.

If you’re interested, here is more information on the Gstaad region.

Featured Accommodation in Gstaad

Angers Apartment:

This apartment sleeps up to 8 people, so it is a perfect place to bring friends and family. The accommodation includes a whirlpool, a fireplace and table tennis.

Gstaad I      Gstaad II

Interlaken

Interlaken Final Photo

Interlaken is considered to be a gateway to the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, making it an important hub of Switzerland for centuries. Famous historical figures like the author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and composer Felix Mendelssohn travelled through these mountains. The region is obviously renowned for its mountain landscape, but it’s also famed for its gorgeous lakeside scenery between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

Interlaken offers pistes above 8,000 ft, and the altitude usually allows skiers and boarders the opportunity to enjoy their sport all year round. There are slopes for all levels of skiers, so this is a good region to bring a group of friends. Interlaken also provides one of the most sophisticated and extensive lift systems in Europe with access to Grindelwald, Mürren and Wengen.

Interlaken Blog Photo

There are direct trains to and from Interlaken from all major Swiss cities and well-maintained highway and autobahn routes that give easy access by car. If you are travelling by air, the airports in Berne, Basel, Zürich and Geneva provide trains and taxis to Interlaken.

Additional information about Interlaken may prove helpful in planning your holiday.

Featured Accommodation in Interlaken

Residenz Savoy Apartment: 

This light and airy apartment has a stunning panoramic view of the mountains, countryside and resort.

Interlaken I      Interlaken II

Wengen

Wengen Final Photo

Wengen is situated on a wind-protected terrace at the base of Jungfrau. The village is full of charming timber homes and chalets, creating a perfect Alpine atmosphere. Like other Swiss villages, it is traffic free, which helps to further the peaceful ambiance even more.

Wengen Blog Photo

Wengen is a skiing paradise for beginners and intermediates. For the beginners, there are nursery slopes in Wengen and a blue piste with a ‘slow speed zone’ at nearby Oberjoch. Intermediates will be satisfied on the Kleine Scheidegg mountain with runs ranging from relaxing to challenging. There aren’t too many options for advanced skiers. However, Wengen does boast one dramatic downhill course – the Lauberhorn with 2,472 metres of altitude – that would be perfect for experts.

This region is a bit more sedate than the others because it can only be accessed by train from the Lauterbrunnen station, which is short 15 minute journey. Lauterbrunnen is easily accessed by car and rail with trains running from airports in Berne, Basel, Zürich and Geneva.

Check out this link for further information about the Wengen region.

Featured Accommodation in Wengen

Am Lehn D Apartment:

This modern and spacious apartment has 3 bedrooms, stylish furnishings and a beautiful view of the mountains from the balcony. The accommodation also includes a storage room for winter sports equipment and a fireplace.

Wengen I      Wengen II

Wengen III      Wengen IV

In case the Bernese Oberland region didn’t spark an interest, take a gander at the other places in Switzerland that Loving Apartments offers accommodation:

Alpes Vaudoises                                                       Bernese Mittelland

Central Switzerland                                                Eastern Switzerland

Freiburg                                                                        Jura

Lake Geneva                                                               Lake Zurich

Mittelbunden                                                             Surselva

Ticino                                                                             Valais

Tyrol: A New Winter Holiday

Loving Apartments is now pleased to offer over 350 apartments in Tyrol, Austria, providing many locations to take a winter and skiing holiday. It makes no difference whether you are a seasoned slope skier conquering the steepest of runs, a cross country skier or just a beginner. Tyrol has around 3,000 km of skiable terrain – the stuff of winter sports enthusiast’s dreams.

Tyrol is divided up into many different skiing regions. Here are some of the most popular regions in which Loving Apartments offers accommodation.

Innsbruck – Olympia SkiWorld

Innsbruck with Olympia SkiWorld gives access to nine ski areas including Glungezer, Stubai, Schlick, Kühtai, Axamer Lizum, Oberperfuss – Ranger Köpfl, Muttereralm, Patscherkofel and Nordkette. This ski area is one of the liveliest in Tyrol offering great ski runs, areas for cross-country skiing, snowboarding at 6 different snowparks, snow-shoeing and tobogganing. Innsbruck also has a fascinating cultural history as well with being a three-time host for the winter Olympics. The city centre of Innsbruck is only a 20 minute journey from 200-metre peaks. How’s that for the best of both worlds? Shuttle buses run from the Innsbruck city centre to each of the nine ski areas.

Alpbachtal and Wildschönau

The skiing areas of Alpbachtal and Wildschönau are the up-and-coming ski regions of Tyrol, Austria. In the winter of 2012/2013, these two ski areas were combined with a new ski lift that runs from Inneralpbach up to Schatzberg Mountain. The decision to combine the two was popular and has been labelled as “Rising Star of the season 2012/2013″  and “Best combination of skiing areas 2013″ by the ADAC ski guide. It has become one of the largest skiing areas of Tyrol and caters to advanced skiiers with the Wiedersbergerhorn  and beginner skiiers with Schatzberg. There are also three snow parks in the area – the Snowboard Family Park Schatzberg , Race’n’Boarder Arena on the Tennladenhang and Snowpark Alpbachtal. If you are looking to spice up your skiing, this ski area is particularly known for its night skiing.

Paznaun – Ischgl

The Paznaun – Ischgl is home to over 300 km of slopes and 43 cablecars. Many of those runs are found in the Paznauntal Valley and the Silvretta Arena. Snowboarders will also be pleased with the “Kalle” fun park that has the Big Air Bag which is a giant air cushion to break people’s jump (or maybe even fall). This ski area is also home to the longest, natural toboggan run in Tyrol, making it a very family-friendly destination. The Sunny Mountain Adventure Park is another family paradise. You’ll have no problems meeting everyone’s desires with the variety of activities in the Paznaun – Ischgl area.

Elfer Lifte Neustift – Stubaital

The Elfer Lifte Neustift – Stubaital may be one of the smaller ski areas of Tyrol, but it packs a lot in. This area is good for beginning and improving winter athletes because of its moderate dimensions. If you are interested in tobogganing, there is the toboggan run, Elfer Neustift Dorf, which is 6.4 km and Pinnistal run which is 8 km long. The area has shuttle bus services and a handy lift access to all the slopes, the toboggan runs and the indoor pool Neustift. This is the perfect region of Tyrol if you are looking for a more relaxed winter holiday.

Christlum – Achensee

The Christlum – Achensee ski area is perhaps one of the most magical and picturesque ski regions of Tyrol because of Lake Achensee. The area has slopes for all skill levels, but it is especially known for its cross-country skiing. However, its real gem is all of its lake activities. You can skate, snowshoe or hike trails along the lake, soaking up for the winter wonderland. You can also bet on some good toboggan runs for the kids. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, try your hand at winterkiting or winter paragliding on the lake.

Seefeld

Seefeld is more of an urban area between the Wetterstein and Karwendel mountain ranges. Having snow for your winter holiday is rarely a concern in this area because once the first snow falls it usually persists until Spring. The area has great slopes including night time skiing at Leutasch-Kreithlift and Seefeld-Rosshütte. If you’re a bit tired of skiing, you have the option of curling, snow-shoeing or sledding. You can even visit the recently opened restaurant, Seelos Stüberl, which has received raving reviews, or you can grab a drink at Murmelebau, a bar which opened in the winter of 2013/2014. You’ll have no difficulty staying entertained.

I hope this list will help to get the gears in your head turning. However, this list just skimmed the surface. Loving Apartments offers accommodation in Austria at each of these listed locations, so be sure to give each of them a look.

Telfs                                                      Fendels                                             Axams

Bad Häring                                          Hall in Tirol                                     Brixen im Thale

Ellmau                                                  Feichten im Kaunertal                    Imst

Hopfgarten im Brixental                    Igls                                                   Kirchberg in Tirol

Kitzbühel                                             Hochfilzen                                          Itter

Kössen                                                  Langkampfen                                  Mieming

Nassereith                                           Nauders                                            Nesselwängle

Scheffau am Wilden Kaiser             Schmirn                                            Reutte

Schwaz                                                 Ried im Oberinntal                          Söll

Sankt Johann in Tirol                       Schwoich                                          Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis

Telfs                                                        Trins                                                  Tulfes

Waidring im PillerseeTal                 Walchsee                                           Wattens

Westendorf                                          Wipptal                                             Zugspitzarena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

,

 

 

Verbier Festival: Mountains & Music

Verbier, the vibrant Swiss village, hosts an annual music festival. Verbier Festival is the brain child of Martin T. Son Engstroem. Engstroem began the festival in 1994 with help of Avi Shoshani. Their goal was to create a summer festival in the heart of the Swiss Alps with an intimate atmosphere. Along with its own academy and resident orchestra, the Festival’s reputation has grown over the years because of its high profile musicians and world-class conductors. During the three-week festival, Verbier is transformed into a “who’s who” of the world’s greatest musicians.

The festival lasts a total of 17 days and is showcased at 7 venues every July. The greatest names of classical music gather during two weeks in the Swiss Alps for an exceptional concert series featuring choirs, orchestras and recitals. All of its 40,000 spectators enjoy a unique musical experience. The combination of mountains and music creates a magical atmosphere in the beautiful summer.

The festival has affiliate programs such as the Verbier Festival Discover, which is a program of lectures for adults and educational and creative activities for children. Fest’Off, a second affiliate program, offers free concerts and shows every day at various sites. Another spin off of the festival is the Verbier Festival Amateur Chamber Music Week which offers non-professional musicians the opportunity to practice under the guidance of established artists and then perform their music in public.

Loving Apartments offers a number of ski chalets during the Verbier Festivals, so plan a trip to explore the slopes and hear amazing musicians.

This year, Verbier Festival will be held from Friday 17 July to Sunday 2 August 2015. (Tentative)

Contact Information:

Telephone: +41 (0) 848 771 882

ticketing[at]verbierfestival.com

Case Postale

CH-1936 Verbier

>Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

High Rolling: Popular Theme Parks in Europe

There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush from a roller coaster. Thrill seekers from all over the globe are always on the lookout for the next bigger and faster roller coaster. To satisfy all adrenaline junkies, we’ve compiled a list of some of Europe’s most famous theme parks full of sensational rides.

Fortunately, these theme parks are located in or near cities that Loving Apartments offers accommodation, so check out our apartments to relax in after your fun-filled day at the theme park.

1. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is perhaps the most popular theme park in Europe with millions of visitors each year. This theme park is perfect for the entire family from your little ones to your teenagers. The magic of Disneyland Paris is spread between two parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. The two parks have everything from your adrenaline pumping rides like Space Mountain and the Rock ‘n Roll Roller Coaster, to magical characters, to sensational live performances. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars and shops filled with Disney souvenirs. Don’t forget about the daily parade in which you’ll see all your favourite Disney faces.

Photo Credit: CetusCetus@Flickr.

Photo Credit: CetusCetus@Flickr.

2. Port Aventura

Photo Credit: Anton Perez@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Anton Perez@Flickr.

Port Aventura, located near Barcelona, is the most visited theme park in Spain. The park creates six different worlds for their visitors to explore – Mediterrania, Polynesia, China, Mexico, Far West and Sesamo Aventura. In each world, you’ll experience diverse cultures, fantastic shows, music, dancing, delicious food and of course, exciting rides. Some of the most noteworthy rides in Port Aventura include the Dragon Khan a high-speed roller coaster, Stampida a wooden coaster, Hurakan Condor the highest drop in Europe and the Shambhala the tallest roller coaster in Europe. These record breaking rides are absolutely electrifying.

3. Thorpe Park

Located outside of London, Thorpe Park is especially appealing to young adults and teenagers with their countless roller coasters and thrill rides such as Colossus, Detonator, Slammer and the Vortex. However, it also offers plenty of family friendly rides to for their younger visitors. Some of these rides include Logger’s Leap the UK’s tallest flumed ride, Rumba Rapids, Quantum a magic carpet ride and many others. In case you have some in your party that aren’t interested in rides, there are plenty of arcade games, shops and restaurants to stay busy.

Photo Credit: havenholidays@Flickr.

Photo Credit: havenholidays@Flickr.

4. Parque Warner

Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson@Flickr.

Parque Warner, just 25 km southeast of Madrid, brings the glamour of Hollywood to Spain. The film themed park sponsored by Time Warner gives visitors a peek behind the special effects in films and performs live shows after some of your favourite Warner Bros films like Batman and Scooby-Doo. You’ll get plenty of action through their popular roller coasters like Superman: The Attraction of Steel, the Road Runner Coaster and Stunt Fall. Young children and adults can see beloved cartoon characters such as Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Tweety.

5. Efteling

Efetling is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and is located about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam. It also is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Opened in 1952, the park has grown from a playground and a Fairy Tale Forest to a massive fairy tale themed adventure park. All of its attractions are based upon the legends, fables, folklore and fairy tales that we hear as children, but adults will enjoy the park just as much as the children. You’ll find roller coasters, water rides and shows featuring Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Tom Thumb and Rapunzel. In Efteling, you’ll feel as though you just jumped into the pages of your most cherished bed-time tales.

Photo Credit: bertknot@Flickr.

Photo Credit: bertknot@Flickr.

> Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.