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The Ritz-Carlton Cancun: Spring Break Grows Up

For many, Cancun is as synonymous with the inebriated high jinks of college-age “spring break” crowds as Las Vegas, Miami, and South Padre Island. Last week, though, I spent an intoxicating four days sprawling and swooning in the Cancun sun–and I was pleasantly surprised by its mature, relaxed atmosphere.

True, late May/early June isn’t Cancun’s biggest tourist season. Also, I had the pleasure of staying at the luxuriant Ritz-Carlton, which, as the world’s only AAA Triple Five Diamond oceanfront resort, is hardly a hotspot for underage pranksters. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel that this rich, dynamic destination has in many ways outgrown its wild reputation.

From Golden State to Rainbow State? Gay Marriage in California

Last Thursday, May 15, a jolt of the non-earthquake variety struck California. In a four-to-three decision, the state Supreme Court struck down its ban on same-sex marriage, essentially upholding San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s controversial decision to allow gay marriages in February 2004.

A second jolt came this Tuesday, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a longtime opponent of gay marriage, remarked, “I hope that California’s economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married.” Arnold is completely behind the decision.

Stargazing in Paradise: The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i

You may not be aware of this, but it snows regularly on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Yes, you read that right–at a staggering 13,790 feet, the dormant volcano Mauna Kea (“White Mountain” in the native Hawaiian tongue) dons a sparkling cap of snow in wintertime. (Its counterpart, Mauna Loa, does the same, although snow on the latter is less visible due to its more rounded peak.) Because of Mauna Kea’s unique assets, native Hawaiians have long considered it a sacred site.

Incidentally, the summit of Mauna Kea is also an ideal place for stargazing, given its height and remoteness from major cities. Hence, it now houses several of the world’s leading astronomical observatories. Native Hawaiian groups are displeased with these developments, protesting that the developments defile the sacredness of the site.

Photo courtesy of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i.

Viva the New Las Vegas: Luxury Abounds at The Palazzo

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and I’m sure that’s true in more ways than I’d ever dare to imagine. But with the Strip’s increasingly luxurious resort hotels, intoxicating nightlife, and fanfare-worthy entertainment, Las Vegas is becoming the vacation destination that you can’t help but tell everyone about. Why have the time of your life in one of the most daydreamed-about places on earth, and not boast about it to your buddies?

Case in point: Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of staying at The Palazzo, a brand-new, all-suite resort hotel and casino nestled between The Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas. Now, I’m not the most ardent Vegas vacationer out there–I generally just tag along for the odd bridal shower or birthday. But I soaked up every second of this trip, and left yearning to return as soon as possible.

Cell Phones Take to the Skies

Cell phones on an airplane? Yep–it’s true. Well, almost. This Monday, in one of the biggest in-flight revolutions since the addition of Wi-Fi Internet service, the European Union approved a plan that would permit passengers to make and receive calls while in E.U. airspace. That’s right–you could conceivably update your buddies, confirm your hotel reservation, and let your Nana know you’re safe and sound–all while cruising at 10,000 feet or higher over any of the E.U.’s 27 countries. Pretty slick, right?

Not so fast. Though it sounds tantalizing, the approved plan brings up some tricky new issues. For example, how much would you pay for these calls? Would different providers tack on different fees? What if you have an American provider? And, perhaps most importantly, would you feel comfortable listening to your neighbors’s one-sided conversations for a good portion of your flight?

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member rokiss.ch.