Cristiano Ronaldo Live From Madrid!

In the midst of Real Madrid fever, Nike is hosting a massive press event in Madrid to present their new products for the upcoming World Cup. The sport’s biggest star Cristiano Ronaldo, seen here making his grand entrance, stopped by the event, which was held in the grand Salon de Reinos.

He spoke about the new boot, Real Madrid’ss push for a league trophy, and of course the World Cup.

boot 2 boot1

On the new Mercurial Superfly boot:

“It was a feeling of surprise because in had never seen boots like that in that style. It’s beautiful. I’m looking forward to playing in them … I’m still not allowed to but I want to. What I wish is to play in them as soon as possible because I feel so go good wearing them. I hope it gives more speed for the World Cup.”

On captaining the Portuguese national team:

“I like big challenges. I like to live with this sort of pressure. When I don’t feel it I hang my boots on a nail and that will be it. So I like this moment in my career… being the captain of the team… when I go the national team I try to get the best out of myself and I feel very comfortable. I’m very proud of playing for my country.”

Travel Trends for 2012

As 2011 winds down, it’s time to look ahead to our travel planning for the next year. The travel experts at Cox & Kings have been planning luxury trips since 1758, when Richard Cox was appointed to the post of regimental agent during the British Raj. Responsible for outfitting and arranging all travel for the foot guards, he became known for his reliability and honesty, which formed the basis for his business serving most of the regiments in India. These are their picks for 2012 trends.

1. “Ends of the Earth” Journeys – Intrepid travelers are looking beyond the hotspots of the last few years, like Thailand and South Africa, to rarely visited European countries like Albania and Serbia, the Russian Far East, and Greenland. Central Asian spots such as Uzbekistan and offshore destinations like the Falkland Islands and Papua New Guinea are also great options for those seeking the new.

2. Mind, Body, & Soul Vacations – Travelers looking for a memorable experience are looking within, in the Himalayas for new meditation techniques and yoga poses; in Bali for proper nutrition and lifestyle balance; and in countries such as Laos and Myanmar to visit ancient Buddhist temples and the Mahagandayon Monastery, where over a thousand Buddhist monks live and study.

3. “Your Money Matters” Travel – In regards to the conservation of wildlife and preservation of historic sites around the world, travelers’ dollars go a long way. While travelers are often conscious of places they can’t or won’t travel because they don’t support the regime, they can also spend in support, on a trip that will instill a responsibility towards what they saw.

4. Ancestral Travel – Cox & Kings agrees with Kensington: American-born individuals traveling to countries such as Russia, the Baltics, China, and Japan are excited to explore their legacy. Other popular root-travel destinations include Lebanon and West Africa.

5. Second-Chance Cities – Business travelers may pass throw a destination dozens of times and never really have time to get to know the place. Hubs like Madrid, Stockholm, and more recent stops on the circuit like Johannesburg deserve a second look. 

6. Off-Season Travel – Some dream destinations become vastly more affordable with a turn of the calendar page. Think India in May; Botswana during the “Green Season” for its wonderful birding; Brazil and Turkey in October; Moscow during Christmastime; and China in April.

7. Supporting Evolving & Recovering Societies – Though there are questions about safety in countries that have recently experienced upheaval, think about the outpouring of support in New York City after 9/11: visiting countries that are recovering from a national trauma lends support. Places of note include Colombia, Egypt, Tunisia, Japan, Mozambique, Norway, Croatia and Rwanda.

8. The BRICS – An acronym for the emerging markets Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the BRICS are home to many great cities in their own right, and a deeper understanding of their characters can only help your investment portfolio.

9. Travel with an Expert – Some travelers may question the need for small group travel with an expert, but often it’s a way to gain access to great destinations and private experiences that will make a trip truly memorable.

10. Top Destination Picks for 2012 – Overall, according to the company’s experts, the next hot countries are Indonesia outside of Bali; Ghana; Malaysia; Nepal, Romania, Iceland, and Abu Dhabi. In terms of cities, head south to São Paulo, Brazil; Salta, Argentina; and Lima, Peru, as well as Beirut, Luang Prabang, Hyderabad, Stockholm, Tallinn and Mostar.

[Image via europhotos/Shutterstock]

Monday Wake-Up: Google Does Airfare, Drinking in Madrid

● Google’s move into the world of airfare search has many in the industry nervous — and as travelers are noticeably unhappy with their online booking options, the current market leaders have reason to worry. [Travel Weekly] ● Do you always remember to order your foreign currency well in advance to get the best rate? Yeah, us neither. So we love Travelex’s guide to where our poor beleaguered dollars will go farthest this winter. [Travel Daily News]

● Attention, leg-room seekers: Delta is planning to add premium economy seating to its entire fleet, as well as 250 regional jets, by summer 2012. [Business Travel News] ● Grace Duggan’s guide on where to drink outside in Madrid has us dreaming of catching a few warm Spanish nights before winter sets in. [NYT] ● Struggling American Airlines says that cutting costs and boosting revenues it its top priority — which doesn’t do much to counter the feeling that the company’s bankruptcy is imminent. [LAT]

Top of the World: The Highest Places to Get a Drink

Opened in March 2011, Ozone at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is 118 floors up, overlooking all of Victoria Harbor. They serve pan-Asian tapas and signature cocktails in an exciting, weirdly futuristic setting that takes up most of the floor.

Shanghai is home to two notably elevated hotel bars that compete on a nightly basis for the city’s elite. The Grand Hyatt’s Cloud 9 is on the 87th floor with a 360 degree view of the city; it’s a surprisingly intimate atmosphere for such a dramatic space. The Music Room on the Park Hyatt’s 92nd floor is more of a clublike atmosphere, with live music, DJs, and an extensive cocktail list.

Unsurprisingly, the highest bar in the world is in Dubai, where they do everything just a little bit bigger. At.mosphere is on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, where it’s a destination for visitors seeking an incredible view of the city, as well as locals hosting some very memorable business lunches or a drink in the upscale lounge.

It may not set any records, but The Penthouse at the top of the Hotel ME Madrid is one of the prettiest views of any city, anywhere. Created by Rande and Scott Gerber with their signature laid-back, high-end atmosphere, a private elevator brings you to an elegant rooftop, with plenty of beds for laying back and enjoying the view of the Plaza Santa Ana, as well as the crowd of beautiful people that populate the terrace.

The 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok Hotel is given over to two elegant, though slightly different, outdoor spaces: the Vertigo restaurant, specializing in seafood and steaks, and the aptly-named Moon Bar, a glittering open-air lounge with a panoramic view of the city.

The World’s 10 Swankest Airport Lounges

There are some airport lounges out there so welcoming, so comfortable, and so packed with amenities that you may need to enlist their excellent customer assistance in rebooking your flight for a longer stay. An excellent resource for choosing and reviewing a lounge is the wiki-style Culled from their pages, these 10 luxurious lounges will help you enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Emirates Lounge, Emirates Air, JFK, New York The Middle Eastern carrier’s secluded retreat is much lauded for a reason: Spacious leather chairs, Italian marble accents, and delicious food make their long-haul flights bearable, if not pleasurable. The business center and 42-inch plasma screen TVs keep you up to date to the last minute, and first- or business-class passengers will arrive in style, picked up in New York City by an Emirates car.

The Wing, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong – Cathay’s complex is the original luxury lounge, setting the modern standard since it opened in 1998. The Long Bar and the Noodle Bar will feed your body, while the Library and the Cabanas will soothe your soul. For first-class passengers, the Pier offers even more personal space, with spa-like granite shower suites and the private Daybreak Rooms, where waiter service and wake-up calls will allow you to nap, eat, work, and watch TV until it’s time for takeoff.

Upper Class Clubhouse, Virgin Atlantic, London Heathrow – Each one of Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouses is a little different, but the British carrier outdid themselves on their home turf, with a cocktail bar, several restaurant options, multiple lounge concepts (including “poolside,” with a running-water accent wall), and an office and library that perfectly replicate the benefits of a traditional English club with a modern edge.

BA Terraces Lounge, British Airways, Seattle – Exclusively for first-class passengers and frequent fliers, the Terraces Lounge provides a comprehensive experience, from drinks and snacks at the World Wine Bar to a complimentary massage at the Elemis spa to a freshly made cappuccino. The work and entertainment area is fully equipped, but we suggest evening flyers take advantage of the Club World Sleeper Service, where you’ll have your preflight supper in the lounge restaurant so you can sleep right away once you board.

Iberia VIP Rooms, Iberia Air, Madrid – Madrid’s airport is one of the fastest-growing for business travel, as it’s a convenient stopover for many connecting flights, so having a comfortable airport lounge is crucial. The Iberia VIP Rooms have stunning view of departing planes rising over the mountains — the perfect compliment to a glass of Rioja from the private wine bar.

SilverKris Lounge, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Changi – Singapore Airlines may have been getting a lot of press for their Airbus A380 suites, but it should come as no surprise that their lounge is similarly luxurious. Beautifully appointed in fine woods and marble, the recently renovated space offers business class passengers and above meeting rooms, spacious bathrooms, well-equipped business facilities, and a bar and restaurant.

CPH Apartment, Copenhagen – One of the pleasures of travel is enjoying a sense of place, and that’s what the CPH Apartment in Copenhagen is all about. Designed to feel like a luxury Copenhagen apartment, it’s a space design buffs will die over, with furniture including shelving from Muuto, dining tables from Hay, a Beck lounge table, the award-winning sofa In Duplo from Erik Jørgensen, and the well-known Wingchair designed by H. J. Wegner.

L’Espace Premiere Lounge, Air France, Charles de Gaulle, Paris – The red carpet in the lounge’s may simply be intended to echo the first-class cabin’s décor, but it’s an excellent metaphor for what’s inside. Check in privately in the lounge, sink into a roomy leather armchair, enjoy a massage, or of course, sample a wide selection of wines, champagnes, and French cuisine of which the airline is justifiably proud. The red carpet treatment continues at departure: an agent will escort you to your gate, and a Mercedes will take you across the tarmac to your plane.

British Airways Concorde Room, British Airways, Heathrow, London – The Concorde may be no more, but this lounge brings back the aura of jet-set glamour in a big way. The full-service restaurant, private cabana rooms with beds and en suite bathrooms, the Elemis travel spa, and the concierge desk may recall the luxury hotel you’re departing from more than the airport lounges you’re used to.

Qantas First Lounge, Qantas, Sydney – The ultra-contemporary design of this lounge by acclaimed Australian designer Marc Newson is a spacious 2,000 square meters, and includes design accents like a vertical garden with over 8,400 plants, leather furniture by Italy’s Poltrona Frau, and Tai Ping wool carpets from Hong Kong. Individual marble-lined shower suites; and state-of-the-art business facilities get you ready to work, while the Payot Paris day spa and restaurant by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry get you in the mood to play.

Valencia’s New High-Speed Train Good for Spain’s Sex Life

If you haven’t been to Valencia, you haven’t been to Spain. The sunny city introduced paella to the world, boasts sprawling hot beaches (with equally hot half-naked Spaniards), and gave birth to famous architect Santiago Calatrava. Cafes line cobblestone streets, centuries-old Gothic and Renaissance buildings command your attention, and the Holy Grail is said to reside here (you be the judge when you visit the Cathedral). Oh, and Valencia is also the city where I had my first threesome. Fond memories abound. I don’t expect such exciting experiences with every visit, but it’s easy being a tourist there in that ‘fresh meat’ kind of way, as the city doesn’t get as many foreign visitors as Madrid or Barcelona. So it’s with a mixture of eagerness and regret that this gem of a town will soon be connected to Spain’s capital via high-speed train.

A new line on Spain’s high-speed rail service, AVE, will debut December 19, cutting travel time by two and half hours. Instead of the usual whopping four-hour commute, you’ll be able to get to Valencia in 90 minutes. The train will run about 20 times a day at 200 miles per hour, so I imagine the service is expecting an eager amount of traffic, especially during the summer months, when the city is already packed with beach-seeking Madrileños. Could Valencia be the new Ibiza? Probably not, but the sex was good.