Retro revival: Glamour destinations back in fashion

Once upon a time air travel was luxurious. Staff were highly trained, impeccably dressed and offered flawless customer service. Food was delicious, often bordering on the gourmet. There was a certain cache to being part of the “jet set” — after all, air travel was the realm of the well-to-do.

While flights are more affordable today, we can’t help but feel a little nostalgic — especially when movies and TV remind us of “the good ol’ days” of air travel. The latest romantic look at the past hit the airwaves this season: Pan Am, a drama about the lives of Pan American World Airways pilots and stewardesses set in the early 1960s.

While air travel has changed since the hey day of Pan Am, the destinations arguably made popular by the airline are still going strong. Inspired by the show, Expedia UK created its list of “retro revival” hot spots that are still getting our attention.

Here are five places to recapture some retro glamour.

Rio de Janeiro

Even a mere mention of the city’s name is enough to conjure up images of sunny beaches and samba music — all presided over by the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain. And, of course, there’s the lavish and often raucous celebration that is Carnival. Once the capital city of Brazil and home of the Portuguese royal family, the city boasts 500 years of intriguing history and European influences.

Rio may be pricy, but there’s more to this city than its party atmosphere. Its sunny beaches — like the famed Copacabana — offer a respite for winter-weary North Americans seeking a tropical escape. Tour the forest of Tijuca National Park, or enjoy a more cultivated paradise at the Botanical Gardens. The city’s famous statue isn’t the only place to get a great view — take a tram ride of the Lapa Arches or hop a cable car up to the “Sugar Loaf”. 

Don’t expect the city to disappear from the spotlight any time soon. In fact all eyes will be on Rio in coming years as it hosts World Youth Day in 2013, followed by the 2014 FIFA World Cup and then the 2016 Olympic Games.

For more information, visit the Rio Convention and Visitors Bureau website and

Monte Carlo

Las Vegas may be America’s “Sin City”, but Monte Carlo with its legendary casino has been a hotspot for high rollers for generations. Tourism is big business in Monaco thanks to its mild climate and prime location on the French Riviera. The country is no stranger to Hollywood-style glamour, and not just because actress Grace Kelly wed its Prince Rainier III. Monte Carlo has been featured in films from the 1930s flick of the same name to Hitchcock and James Bond.

Not surprisingly, the Casino de Monte-Carlo is the centre piece of this resort area, and the Beaux Arts style structure houses more than games. It’s also home to the ballet and L’Opéra de Monte-Carlo at the Salle Garnier — a scaled down version of the Paris Opera House designed by the same architect, Charles Garnier. Nearby, grand accommodations like the Hôtel de Paris are ready to cater to your needs — for a price, of course. Even the least expensive rooms range 345 to 680 EUR depending on the season, and the luxury suites can top 10,000 EUR.

Surrounded on all sides by France and just a stone’s throw from Italy, the tiny country of Monaco has a lot to offer, including a tour of the Prince’s Palace. For more information, see


Has there ever been a time the famed City of Lights wasn’t considered glamorous? Despite the high prices and tourist crowds, Paris still tops many travellers’ must-see lists. Today, more than 83 million passengers fly through the city’s airports, according to the Paris Tourism Bureau. It would be easy to spend a big travel budget on upscale accommodations alone.

The grand cathedrals and the Eiffel Tower are synonymous with the city, and there seems to be a museum for everything, from art to opera and chocolate to perfume. Never mind the fashion and sophistication of the city itself, even cuisine in Paris is chic. Who can resist classic activities like splurging at the ChampsÉlysées, dining on a gourmet meal or sipping coffee on the patio of a small café?

It’s easy to fill your days with museums and monuments, but the city’s magic continues well into the late hours. In addition to the performing arts, clubs and cabarets have always been a part of the city’s night life.

For more information, visit


True, we don’t need a TV show to make Rome even more popular. The Eternal City has been immortalized in literature and in film like the classic Hepburn romance, Roman Holiday. The birthplace of a ancient empire and one of the seats of the Renaissance, the city is a living museum shaped by millennia of wealthy patrons. Famous sites like the Piazza Navona, the Colosseum and the Pantheon need no introduction to travel buffs.

And while Vatican City is a separate entity, it’s a crucial part of any visit to Rome. In addition to being the holy site for followers of the Roman Catholic faith, the historic wealth of the church is reflected in the art and architecture of the building itself — Michelangelo’s famous frescos in the Sistine Chapel aren’t the only famous works to adorn it’s walls.

Just as “Rome wasn’t build in a day”, you can’t see it all in a day either — find a good guide book and choose your itinerary carefully.

For more information, visit and


Okay, this one wasn’t on Expedia’s list, but no list of long-standing glamourous destinations would be complete without a nod to the home of movie magic. (After all, nothing says glamour like Hollywood celebrity.)  The sprawling mansions, designer duds and “peel me a grape” luxury of the United States’ version of royalty draws travellers looking to share a little of that star power.

Admittedly, a photo of the iconic Hollywood sign is a must, but other top spots include Grauman’s Chinese Theatre — where you can see the hands and feet of stars forever immortalized in the sidewalk — and the Kodak Theatre, where stars receive their accolades. Many companies offer tours to see celebrity homes, and you can go behind the scenes with a tour of Universal Studios.

Hollywood and Los Angeles are also great cities to do some people watching — and even spot a celebrity or two.

For more ideas, see our previous article, A day in Hollywood.

While it may be tempting to long for the “good ol’ days” of air travel, it’s important to remember that flights are more affordable now than fifty years ago (despite our grumbling about rising fees). That means glam destinations like these are open to people with more modest budgets, not just those with big bank accounts or expense accounts.

As for the original Pan Am? It went out of business in 1991, but the destinations it travelled to are still going strong.

Source: PR Newswire

Photo: Monaco. © Aleksandar Vrzalski

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