Monday, May 15, 2017

Hygge Getaway Trips

America’s recent discovery of hygge, the Danes’ secret to happiness, that took the west by storm this winter, is almost enough to make one regret the advent of warmer weather. Almost. Because as it turns out, long cold nights don’t have a monopoly on the desire to create cozy moments. Some of its trappings may change as the temperatures climb – think evening wine under the stars vs. morning coffee by candlelight – but hygge is a concept without seasons. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for a hygge-filled summer vacation:

·      Hygge in the desert. Twelve newly renovated Spa Suites bring hygge to the desert at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. A large sectional invites cozy gatherings of friends or family by the glass rock fireplace in the living area, with a fully stocked wet bar just steps away. Once guests are gone, canopied patio daybeds tempt for an al fresco nap alone or snuggled up with a loved one. And the hygge piece de resistance: a deep outdoor tub with privacy screen for a candlelit bath under the stars. Visit or call 855-245-2051.

·        Spa hygge with friends. A fire pit in the Sanctuary (relaxation area) makes a natural gathering place for hygge with friends during a spa day at Pebble Beach Resorts on California’s Monterey Peninsula. Guests can curl up with a blanket in a lounge chair and enjoy tea and fresh fruit as a group, then pair off with a bestie for their turn in the Flotation Wrap Suite. There, two floating beds tempt spa-goers to drift off during their choice of three 45-minute flotation wrap treatments: the Swiss Crème, Cloud Nineteen & Espresso Limón Slimming Wrap. Flotation wraps are $170/one, $260/two. The Spa at Pebble Beach is one of only 56 spas in the world to receive the 2017 Forbes Five-Star rating. Book a spa treatment at 866-993-6947.

·        Hygge with an ocean breeze. At night, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa’s palm-fringed patio is lit by tiki torches – the perfect setting for an evening by the firepit sharing a bottle of wine with close friends and family. Adding to the hygge feel are the soothing water sounds from the patio’s mosaic-tiled fountain and the ever-present ocean breeze. Make reservations online or call 561-340-1700.

·        Hygge on the sand. Few things are more romantic than a private oceanfront dinner for two under the stars, complete with Champagne toast and a bottle of wine. What transforms it into hygge? Serving it on the beach itself, so the couple can slip off their shoes and feel the sand between their toes. The Date Night by the Sea package at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa (Pompano Beach, Fla.) doesn’t end there. Couples also can keep it cozy with daily continental breakfast in bed, served in their ocean view room or suite. The package starts at $449 per night based on a two-night minimum. Book online or call 855-954-4683.

·        Hygge in a dream home. It may be true that there’s no place like home, but sometimes it’s nice to relax in someone else’s home – particularly if that home is a Basque-inspired, stone-clad  four-bedroom Colorado estate tucked into the woods on a remote Telluride hillside. Villa Mendia is just one of an exceptional portfolio offered by InvitedHome, a leader in the red-hot luxury vacation home rental market. What makes it hygge? A jetted soaking tub, coal-fired sauna and outdoor hot tub. A media room with a comfy, oversized couch for movie night. An expansive, old-world kitchen with all the latest cooking toys and a wood-burning oven for open-fire s’mores. An eight-burner gas grill for a barbecue on the spacious patio. In other words, a perfect mix of settings for private moments and communal fun. Visit or call 866-600-8075.

·        Hygge in the High Peaks. The Forbes Four Star all-suite Whiteface Lodge, tucked away in the High Peaks of Lake Placid, New York, raises the hygge bar with two Adirondack-style lakeside lean-tos, comfortably furnished and available to guests for cigars and cognac by a firepit under the starry night sky. Furnishings throughout the resort are handcrafted from hand-milled timber and each suite has its own cast-iron fireplace. As if that weren’t hygge enough, there are warm cookies at turndown and nightly s’mores. For reservations, visit or call 888-582-0505.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mother's Getaway to a California B&B

For Mother’s Day, pamper mom with a getaway to a California bed and breakfast inn or boutique hotel.  Several members of the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI) are offering specials and packages just for Mother’s Day.  Gift certificates are also available and can be used at any one of more than 200 CABBI-member inns in California.  For details, visit

Spoil mom with a Mother’s Day Weekend package at the Hotel Marisol Coronado.  The package includes a two-night stay in a suite or king room, a bouquet of roses in the room upon arrival, a bottle of wine of her choice and a private, in-room massage.  The suite package is $799 plus tax; the king package is $649 plus tax.  The specials are only valid for the nights of May 12 and 13, 2017.  The package cannot be combined with any other discounts or specials.  The massage is available for Friday evening or anytime on Saturday, but must be scheduled at least two days in advance. To reserve, call 619-365-4677.

Treat mom to a hands-on sourdough bread baking class and a stay at Lavender Inn in Ojai on Mother’s Day.  Led by Eva
Hoffman, the class will provide an introduction to sourdough starters and demonstrate how to create a well-structured loaf with beautiful crust and crumb. Participants will go home with a picture-perfect, scored, fresh-from-the-oven loaf of sourdough bread, plus the sourdough starter.  The class will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 14, and is $75 per person.  Participants who stay at the inn the night of the class will receive 10% off their room.  For more information about the class and to reserve, call 805-645-6635.

Whisk mom away to Catalina Island with a decadent package from the Aurora Hotel.  The Happy Mom’s Day package includes a two-night stay at the hotel, a welcome bottle of wine, lunch and a day of indulgence at the Island Spa Catalina, round-trip boat transportation and taxi transfers to and from the hotel.  Package rates start at $716 for midweek stays in a standard room.  Upgrades and weekend stays may be available for an additional charge.  The special is valid through the month of May 2017.  To reserve, call 310-510-0454.

Nestled in the Sierra Foothills, enjoy two nights in the tiny, bucolic village of Volcano (population 103) with the Volcano Union Pub + Inn’s Love Your Mom Package.  The package includes a two-night stay at the inn, mimosas delivered the room each morning, locally-made sweets, and a gift card to the Amador Flower Farm (a $25 value).  Nightly snacks and a homemade breakfast each morning are also included.  Package rates start at $230 midweek for a queen room and $260 midweek for a king suite. Local taxes and fees are not included.  The special is valid through July 2017.  To make a reservation, call 209-296-7711.

Moms who love gardening will delight in the “Dig It” package from Rest, a Boutique Hotel in the Sierra Foothills. The package includes a welcome gardeners’ gift, a gift card to Amador Flower Farm (a $45 value) and discounts at local gardening shops in Amador County.  The package is $55 and can be added to a stay in any room.  Room rates start at $150.  The special is valid through July 2017.  To book the package, call 209-245-6315. 

Catalina Island Inn offers two packages to celebrate mom.  The Spring Fling includes a one-night, midweek stay at the inn 
and starts at $137.50 per person (based on double occupancy) in a basic queen, non-view room.  The package is valid Sunday-Thursday only through May 30, 2017.  The Plan to Take Mom Away package is available for two weekends in May (May 12-14 and May 19-21. 2017) and includes a two-night stay in a basic queen, non-view room.  The package starts at $323.18 per person (based on double occupancy).  Both packages include roundtrip transportation for two on the Catalina Express and taxi transfers to and from the hotel. Room upgrades are available for additional fees. Packages are subject to availability, non-refundable and must be booked three days in advance.  Call 310-510-1623 to reserve.

For more information about Mother’s Day deals and other specials at California bed and breakfast inns, visit

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tax Return Getaways

WHEW!  Hopefully everyone got their taxes paid last week and are anxiously awaiting their tax
return check.  The average American's tax refund is approximately $3,120. While some may suggest paying off debt or saving it for a rainy day, we say there's no better use for a payout than a vacation! Below are some great trips to spend your rebate on—and don't worry, with prices starting at $1,499, you might have some money left over.

1.     Explore Thailand: Discover Bangkok, including the Grand Palace and floating markets. Experience Chiang Mai and northern Thai culture, connect with elephants, and spend time on the beaches of Phuket for some relaxation time at the end of the trip. This 10-day tour is a fantastic introduction to natural and cultural wonders of the country. Prices with Adventure Life start at $1,525.

2.     Experience Louisiana’s Cajun Country: Take Cajun cooking lessons with a private chef, bust a move at a local zydeco dancehall, explore the Whitney Plantation (America’s first slavery museum), kayak Bayou Teche, tour the Tabasco factory, visit a legendary zydeco music studio, tour an organic pecan farm, partake in a private seafood boil with chef, and sample an array of Louisiana cocktails and cuisine. Prices with Gondwana EcoTours start at $1,499.

3.     “Glamp” at a Luxury Ranch: Hike, ride horses, fly fish, and play cowboy at the 25,000-acre
Red Reflet Ranch in Wyoming. The ranch is both working ranch and luxury resort.  Gourmet dining offers ingredients from the ranch’s butcher shop, organic greenhouse and gardens.  From cattle drives to branding, the true western lifestyle thrives at Red Reflet Ranch. Prices start at $1,813.

4.     Ride a Train from Moscow to Mongolia: If you feel like splurging, take Trans-Siberian trains over a dramatic and variegated route that offers limitless opportunities to meet the diverse local people – Mongol, Buryat and Russian. Experience the rolling green hills and nomadic traditions of Mongolia, Siberia’s UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal and endless taiga forest on your way to the booming capital, Moscow. Prices with MIR Corporation start at $7,695.

5.     Cycle the Mediterranean: Join a cycling tour at the crossroads of the Mediterranean:
Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. Split into three week-long stages, the “3 Islands Tour” is a journey through the history, food, architecture and traditions of these Mediterranean jewels. Prices with Ride & Seek start at $3,345.

6.     Go Fishing in Alaska: Unalakleet River Lodge comprises all the warmth and charm of a true Alaskan lodge. Located 140 air miles south of Nome on Norton Sound, the main lodge was built from hand-hewn logs on a hill overlooking the Unalakleet River. It offers very
productive fishing for salmon, dollies, char, and grayling. Prices with Frontiers International Travel start at $5,300.