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.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Where Will You Travel If You Win PowerBall?

The Powerball lottery has reached a record high of $1.4 billion, and tonight some lucky individual might win it all. Here are five jaw-dropping vacations (with eye-popping price tags) the new billionaire might want to consider as their first purchase.

1.   Private New Zealand Adventure - Kicking off with 35 days in New Zealand, this custom
itinerary includes white-water rafting down the Rangitaiki River; hiking tours through national parks; wine tastings at historic wineries in the South Island’s Cromwell region; helicopter flights to remote locations; fly-fishing at top-tier lodges; tours of the glowworm-lined Waitomo Caves; and sailing through the Bay of Islands. After a month+ in New Zealand, the remaining nine days are spent in Hawaii at Maui’s Montage Kapalua Bay and Honolulu’s renowned hotel Halekulani. The trip starts at $83,000 per couple. For more information, visit Frontiers International Travel at  or call 800-245-1950.

2.   Explore North Pole on Nuclear Icebreaker - Sail for the legendary North Pole on this
exciting 14-day Arctic voyage aboard the nuclear icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory. Explore the High Arctic from many angles: view the moving icebreaker from air on a helicopter ride, feel the thick pack ice under your boots while walking, and observe bears, birds, and walruses are you sail. The tour starts at $26,995 per person. For more info, visit Adventure Life at or call 800-344-6118.

3.   Tour The Silk Road by Private Train – Retracing one of the most important trading routes of
ancient civilization, this 22-day private train tour follows in the footsteps of such legendary figures as Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. For centuries, merchants and adventurers journeyed to and from China on ancient routes through some of the most testing landscapes in the world trading silk, spices and perfumes. These ‘highways’ – stretching some 4,000 miles collectively came to be called the ‘Silk Road’. The tour starts at $24,595 per person. For more info visit MIR Corporation, /or 800-424-7289.

4.   Russian Space Tour - On this electrifying exploration of the Russian Space Program guests
will tour Star City, Russia’s premier cosmonaut training facility, where they can participate in 
optional cosmonaut training (Zero-Gravity Flight or Space Walk Training) in the Orlan Space Suit Lab. At the remote Russian launch facility on the Kazakh steppe, rub shoulders with top international space officials, space veterans and family of the next space crew, and witness the heart-stirring launch of the Soyuz on its way to the International Space Station. The tour starts at $14,495 per person. For more info, visit MIR Corporation at or call 800-424-7289.

5.   Ultimate Africa Safari - Africa is the second largest of the Earth's seven continents, making
up about 22 percent of the world's total land area and complete with Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world; Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World; Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest unbroken volcanic caldera; Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world; and Cape Town, which has to be one of the globe's most beautiful cities with award-winning winelands a stone's throw away. This 29-day private tour explores the best Southern Africa has to offer and utilizes the most luxurious hotels and tent camps available. The tour starts at $27,175 per person.  For more info, visit Frontiers Elegant Journeys at or call 724-935-1577.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

New Years Eve Getaway Packages

Whether you’re looking to cozy up fireside and watch the snow fall or party all night to the sounds of some of this year’s hottest artists, here are a few unforgettable New Year’s Eve packages that are sure to have you ring in 2016 in style.

This year, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is offering some the most exciting New Year’s Eve celebrations
on the strip. On December 31st, the critically-acclaimed, Grammy-Award winning Bruno Mars will perform alongside his eight-piece band, The Hooligans, at The Cosmopolitan’s state-of-the-art concert venue The Chelsea. The hotel is offering a New Year’s Experience package that includes a two night’s stay, two tickets to see Bruno Mars live at The Chelsea, brunch for two and VIP check-in.  Additionally, guests can enjoy New Year’s Eve at The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan, a winter wonderland overlooking the heart of The Strip. The only outdoor Ice Rink in Las Vegas will feature snow showers every half hour between 6pm and 10pm Wednesday through Sunday during the holiday season. For a more romantic option, guests can head to The Chandelier Bar, a three story bar made of over two million crystals. The three-story bar offers a range of toasting options from sophisticated cocktail lounge to lively dance floor.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach will be ringing in 2016 with performances by two of this year’s hottest artists,
The Weeknd and KYGO. The festive nightlife experience will take place around the hotel's poolscape. Prices range from $275 for one general admission ticket up to $50,000 for a stage-side private space with room for up to 30 lucky guests. All packages include premium open bar from 9 p.m. until midnight.

Castle Hill Inn (Newport, Rhode Island)
An Effervescent New Year’s Eve (December 30 - January 2)
Champagne is synonymous with the celebration of New Year’s. This year at Castle Hill, we are fully embracing the fine art of “Bubbly”, starting with a bottle of Champagne in your room upon arrival. On the
afternoon of New Year’s Eve, Beverage Director Anthony Boi will host a premium Champagne tasting, followed by a screening of the 1954 film classic Sabrina. After an evening of dinner and dancing to ring in the new year, make your way to the dining room to enjoy our New Year’s Day Hangover Brunch, featuring an artisan Bloody Mary bar (not included in the cost of the package).  $720/night - $1,200night (based on double occupancy).   Nestled on a 40-acre peninsula in Newport, Rhode Island, overlooking Narragansett Bay, Castle Hill Inn exemplifies the warmth and quiet luxury of 19th century seacoast life.  Combining the elegance of a boutique hotel with the inviting comforts of a coastal inn, the Inn offers resplendent lodging options to suit the needs and preferences of all guests.  Accommodations include seven guest rooms and suites in the original 19th-century Agassiz Mansion, and 24 private, waterfront accommodations in the Harbor House, Chalet, Beach Houses and Beach Cottages. Within the mansion, indulgent meals are prepared by renowned Executive Chef, Karsten Hart, and the recently renovated Lawn at Castle Hill is the epitome of classic New England al fresco dining.  On property activities include stargazing, clambakes, bonfires, games on the lawn, kayaking, paddle boarding, yoga, surfing, sailing and much more. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sunshine State's Annual Winter Wonderland Getaway

As a native Floridian, it is not very often that I get to experience a white Christmas, but thanks to the
Gaylord Palms in Orlando, we get to drive about one hour to visit their annual winter wonderland known as ICE! And there is so much to see and do, that we always make it a two-night stay.

ICE! is a 9-degree, indoor holiday event.  It features a walkable attraction that with two million pounds of ice, four 2-story ice slides, six rooms depicting the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (this year’s theme), The Frostbite Factory with live carving zone, and a breath-taking Nativity scene carved from crystal clear ice.

Between my two brothers and I, we have six kids under the age of 7, and they all look forward to going to ICE! each year.  Our annual Gaylord Palms visit is highly anticipated not just because the kids love the ICE! experience, but they also love spending time together and ‘sleeping in a nice

Upon arrival, our first stop was breakfast with Mr. Claus at the Villa de Flora restaurant (voted Critic's Choice for Best Brunch by the Orlando Sentinel), which provides an incredible breakfast buffet, as well as visits from some of Santa’s top elves who visited our table.  We all ate until we could pop, and the kids all took turns on Mrs. Claus’ lap letting her know what they’d like for Christmas.

After we ate breakfast, we walked to the Convention side of the resort where most of the ICE!
festivities take place in the Alpine Village.  We had 11:00 AM reservations for the Gingerbread Decorating.  The kids (and adults) got into the holiday spirit decorating their gingerbread cookies, which then went straight into their bellies. We even enjoyed a visit from Gingy.

The Alpine Village also features an eight-lane tubing hill that’s fun for all ages and covered in REAL SNOW, visits and photos with Santa, hot chocolate and holiday shopping.  Other activities include the hotels Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt, which make strolling through the resort a ton of fun.

After cookie decorating, we made our way into ICE! with its various rooms filled with beautiful ice sculptures and several depicting scenes from the popular story ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The boys had a blast on the 2-story ice slides, and
we are always mesmerized by the talented ice carvers.  Next stop: hot chocolate and photos with Santa.

We ate an early dinner at the hotel’s revamped and renamed seafood restaurant, MOOR, which provides fresh seafood caught nearby for freshness and prepared just the way you like it.  The adults had a great meal, and the kids had fun eating dinner on the large ship placed inside the resort.

In the evening, we enjoyed Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Live Stage Show and the hotel’s amazing 54-foot Christmas tree with more than 2 million twinkle lights.  The 25-minute show features an array of seasonal characters brought to life in a dreamscape of imaginative costumes and creativity, while stunning feats of showmanship are unwrapped, performed on stage and in the air.

Many thanks to the Gaylord Palms Resort for their amazing hospitality and for providing a white
Christmas for those of us who call the Sunshine State home.  

We cannot wait to come back next year!

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