Portugal in the off-season
Summer may be Portugal’s peak tourist season, but more travelers from the United States are heading there now. “The fall and winter are an excellent time to explore Portugal because temperatures are mild, and there’s fantastic value to be found on airfare, hotels and tours,” said Tom Stein, vice president of American Express Travel. For families, the seven-night Winter Offer at Martinhal Sagres, a resort on the Algarve Coast that offers activities for adults and children, may be appealing. Included are accommodations in a villa, breakfast and the choice of either lunch or dinner daily. Prices start at $290 a night. The offer is valid through March (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, the high-end Six Senses Douro Valley is offering a Winter Escape deal: Through March 22, guests who stay at least two nights receive accommodations, breakfast, a spa treatment, a wine tasting and a space-available room upgrade. Prices start at about $324 for two people per night (e-mail email@example.com).
New York Times
Fly to sunny countries
Award-winning Sun Country Airlines (see above) has announced a new batch of winter getaway sales. Round-trip flights to various destinations in Mexico (Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Mazatlan, Los Cabos, etc.), the Caribbean (San Juan, Jamaica and more) and Costa Rica start at $414. Vacation packages (including airfare and four nights hotel) start at $735. Book at suncountry.com by Nov. 18 for travel through April 30. Other airlines may offer competitive fares.
Simon Peter Groebner
Charleston culinary tribute
Middleton Place at Middleton Plantation (middletonplace.org/restaurant.html; 1-843-266-7477) is 15 miles from downtown Charleston, S.C., but it’s worth the drive for three reasons: The plantation, a 65-acre National Historic Landmark, offers unflinching exhibits of Charleston’s history with slavery. It also has the country’s oldest landscaped gardens (1741), with a dizzying array of flora, including willows, azaleas, camellias and magnolias. And there’s the restaurant: A former guesthouse modeled on the old Middleton mill, it features a cozy, cypress-paneled bar area that leads to the main glass-paneled dining room, with generous views of the moss-draped trees and gardens. Start with a bowl of she-crab soup and a tomato-and-cucumber salad, then flip a three-sided coin over the blackened Carolina catfish, Southern fried chicken or shrimp and grits — all part of a culinary tribute to Edna Lewis, the famed Southern chef.
They love Minnesota
It’s November, so travelers of a sort are poring over listings in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. Super Bowl ticket holders will be happy to know that Minneapolis made the list of top 15 large U.S. cities. In the ranking of favorite Midwest hotels, no place comes close to the Twin Cities’ showing, with seven hotels in the top 25. The new JW Marriott and Radisson Blu hotels at Mall of America both made the list, at Nos. 2 and 7 respectively. The Saint Paul Hotel came in at No. 22. Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minn., came in at No. 2 among the 10 top Midwest resorts, behind the American Club in Kohler, Wis. Madden’s on Gull Lake, in Brainerd, Minn., wasn’t far behind, at No. 4. Among domestic airlines, Minnesota-based Sun Country placed fifth. JetBlue ranks second; it will begin service between MSP and Boston in May. Delta was nowhere to be seen.