Monday, November 23, 2015

Hot Cyber Monday Getaway Deals

Cyber Monday is almost here and that means great deals on travel.  With the cold weather moving in, now is a great time to heat things up with a great deal on a warm-weather getaway.  Here are a few suggested deals:

Deal: Up to 50 percent off rates for travel December 1, 2015 through June 9, 2016 at any of the brands eight oceanfront, all-inclusive properties located throughout Mexico and Jamaica.

When: Travelers must book online Monday, November 30, 2015.
Relevant Details: Must book a stay of three (3) nights or more. Offer applies to new bookings only, and cannot be combined with any other existing offer. 
Deal:  Save up to 25% Off Best Available rates, Advance Purchase. Marriott Rewards Members receive
30% off Best Available rates, Advance Purchase.
When: Travelers must book online November 27th- November 30th, 2015.
Relevant Details: Valid 7 Days a Week; based on availability.

Deal: 55 percent off rates (starting at $99) for travel November 27, 2015 through September 1, 2016 at Grand Bahama Island’s four-star property.  
When: Travelers must book online November 27-December 4, 2015.  
Relevant Details: Must book a stay of three (3) nights or more. Offer applies to new bookings only, and
cannot be combined with any other existing offer. As an added incentive for budget-conscious families, children 12 and under eat and stay for free

Monday, November 16, 2015

Five Winter Trips for the Non-Skier

Not everyone is a snow skier, especially us Florida folks.  So here are some suggestions for winter trips that do not involve snow skiing.  

Patagonia Fly-Fishing
Travel with Frontiers International this winter to the new Limay River Lodge, the first and only fly fishing
lodge on the famed Middle Limay River in Patagonia’s Neuquén Province. Targeting river rainbows, browns and fall migratory brown trout, the Limay meshes big water drift fishing with ample walk and wade opportunities. Limay River Lodge has the unique distinction of being the only destination fishing lodge on the banks of this tail water with exclusive put in access and 10 breathtaking beats. The season is mid-November – mid-May. Prices start at $850 per day.
China Ice Festival
After exploring The Great Wall or Hong Kong or Beijing on an Adventure Life tour in China this winter, 
add a few extra days to experience the Harbin Ice Festival. Explore this winter wonderland and see the impressive ice sculptures and lit buildings that this city creates for what is now the largest snow and ice festival in the world. $1,105 based on two people traveling together.

Antarctic Cruise
Antarctica travel reveals the dramatic extremes of a frozen continent. Antarctica holds the title of coldest,
driest, windiest, and highest elevation on earth. A number of ships ply the Antarctic waters, from Russian icebreakers to luxury expedition ships with strengthened hulls. Depending on your trip-length, spend time visiting the Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands and the mountainous South Georgia. Antarctica cruises offer zodiac excursions for up-close encounters with wildlife and the blue icebergs that float quietly in the surrounding waters. Small ship cruises operate December through March. Rates begin at $5,995 per person, depending on the specific ship, cabin class and itinerary.

Arizona Cycling
As the days get shorter and colder, and workouts turn to the ‘dread-mill’ and trainer; reverse your usual
winter fitness losses by joining The Cycling House for a cycling and triathlon camp. For 2016 winter training, The Cycling House is offering 18 weeks of camps in Tucson, Ariz. and Solvang, Calif. The first camp is the week of December 8, 2015 and the last camp begins April 4, 2016. Within those weeks are several specialty camps, too, including beginner triathlon, long-distance triathlon, mountain biking, and women-only. Camps are 6 days/5 nights with 45 – 80 miles of guided riding per day, chef-prepared meals, opportunities to run and swim, and plenty of time to relax and recover. Prices start at $1,895.

Siberian Escapade
The thought of Siberia tends to conjure images of punishment, exile, and vast expanses of nothingness – a
place of no return. But, in fact, Siberia is a wild and wooded country of inconceivable beauty. MIR Corporation’s 8-day “Siberian Winter Escapade” tour is perfect for the adventurous traveler who’s seen it all. On UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, race teams of sled dogs, ice-fish and sweep across the lake by hovercraft.  In Ust-Ordynski, discover one of Siberia's Buddhist monasteries. Participate in a sunrise shaman ceremony at Olkhon Island's best-known spot, Shaman Rock. Feb 20-27, 2016, from $3,995.

Photo credits: Adventure Life,  Frontiers Travel, MIR Corp., The Cycling House.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Family Getaway to Naples - This Is 40

To celebrate my 40th, I decided it was time for a Family Getaway.  For a few logistical reasons, we all agreed to meet in Naples, FL for the weekend to spend a few days enjoying everyone’s company and welcoming the inevitable….my birthday.

I remembered a great little boutique hotel on Naples’ Fifth Avenue South that I never got the chance
to visit during my crazy travel days, but I had always wanted to.  The Inn on Fifth offers a prime location nestled on both side of Fifth Avenue South with the actual Inn (119 guest rooms) on one side and the Club Level (32 luxury suites) across the street on the other side.

Since we all wanted to be together, we booked on the Inn side; however, upon arrival we got upgraded to the Club Level side and we were ecstatic.  Guests in this intimate enclave also enjoy a range of pampering services and exclusivity including a private rooftop sundeck and whirlpool spa, daily deluxe Continental breakfast, afternoon snacks and evening cocktails with appetizers; complimentary transportation to and from the Naples Airport and around downtown in a Cadillac Escalade SUV.
Our first night was just my parents, husband and I and (after drinks on the rooftop sun deck), we wondered across the street (back to the Inn) for dinner at acclaimed Avenue 5.  The $3 million restaurant opens its doors onto prestigious 5th Avenue South and offers vintage glam ambiance. Guests experience the extravagant island bar, an incredible wine list featuring 400 varieties, two private dining areas and sweeping views of the Fifth Avenue streetscape.

On Saturday, we woke up and ate breakfast at the Club Level.  Then we did a little shopping (well, enough to work up an appetite) in the boutiques around our hotel and
then walked about 10 minutes to Tin City to the annual Stonecrab Festival.  This event is a weekend of food and fun starring of course, the stone crab, as well as a chance to explore the beautiful Naples waterfront with activities on land and by water in and around Bayfront, Port of Naples Marina, Tin City and Naples Transportation and Tours General Store/Heritage Museum.

We ate lunch (Stone Crabs, obviously) at the very busy Pinchers in Tin City.  It had a good atmosphere for watching the boats go by, and the service was great.  The beers and stone crabs claws went down way too easy, so the walk back to the hotel seemed longer than it was to get there.  Once we returned to the hotel, I found my room decorated with over the hill caution tape courtesy of Merideth Wohl.  That’s what younger sister in laws are for!! J  We were joined by the rest of our group and took the party to the pool. 

Lined with towering palms and colorful flowers, the beautifully landscaped 3,600-square foot pool deck is dotted with chaise lounges and umbrellas.  The setting was enhanced by the refreshing beverages and casual fare from Avenue5 that was delivered straight to us poolside.  We got to visit with everyone and enjoy some rest and relaxation away from our hectic lives.

After a few hours poolside, it was time to get ready for dinner at Truluck’s.  Specializing in succulent
steaks and the freshest seafood, the signature dish at Truluck’sSeafood Steak and Crabhouse is fresh Florida stone crab.  As we arrived, I realized that the Decoration Bandit had struck again.  This time Merideth made sure our table was decorated and I had a bag full of “old lady” supplies ready for my (now 40) every need. From hair rollers to adult diapers, she made sure my new decade started off well prepared.   We enjoyed amazing meals, great wine and fine drinks all conveniently just steps away from our hotel.  This was very convenient for my mom who had to be escorted home early due to being ‘over-served.’   After dessert, we concluded the evening with more social time in the Club Level common area.

We all woke up hungry and the fabulous concierge at the hotel recommended breakfast at The Café, which specializes in homemade, high-quality breakfast, lunch and baked goods. The menu combines the best of the European and American cooking and baking traditions. With roots in the relaxed Scandinavian lifestyle and influenced by the European café life, this is a place where everybody can enjoy really good food in an inviting and friendly atmosphere featuring an excellent patio area for outdoor seating and interior seating with large window areas towards the street.

Many thanks to the Inn on Fifth for a fabulous weekend.  Do not hesitate to call them to plan your next special vacation.  It was a getaway with some of my favorite people (I only say ‘some’ since our kids were not there). I welcomed 40 with the people who have made me the person I am today and who have loved me during my ups and down.  Thank you all for your wisdom, support and love.  I cannot thank you all enough.