Friday, December 02, 2016
Friday, December 02, 2016
Monday morning, Lisa and I had the privilege of walking the Cliff Walk under sunny skies. Rhode Island’s most popular trail is perched on the rocky shores above the Atlantic, ocean on one side, the backyards of the massive Bellevue Avenue mansions on the other. In the summer months, this 3 ½-mile route is crowded with hundreds of folks yearning to see the sloping lawns and backside of those summer “cottages” the Vanderbilts, Whitneys, and Astors built at the turn of the century. This time of year, you’ll pass the occasional dog walker or jogger as you take in the expanse of the sea all by your lonesome. Park your car on Narragansett Avenue near the walk and proceed to the right. The sun was beating down on the clear and shimmering ocean waters. We soon spotted The Breakers, the Italian-style villa commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1895. Another highlight is the red and gold lacquered Chinese-style pagoda at the Marble House. We enjoyed learning about the history of each estate at sign posts scattered throughout the walk. Simply type the number into the website and you’ll get the scoop.
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Just returned from a rejuvenating 24 hours in Newport, one of my favorite stopovers in New England any time of year. Starting today, the historic seaport gets into the Holiday spirit with a month-long citywide celebration simply called Christmas in Newport. The long list of activities includes live music at The Breakers estate and lantern walks over the twisting cobblestone streets. Newport is also home to a slew of intriguing boutique shops, ideal for Holiday shopping. Not far from the mansions on Bellevue Avenue is the Alloy Gallery, owned by a Rhode Island School of Design-trained jewelry artist who displays contemporary wares created by her and her colleagues. Women’s blouses, dresses, and jackets can be found at Tyler Boe, at Bannister’s Wharf. Kids will like the quirky games, clothing, books, and other odd miscellaneous knickknacks found at Pleasant Surprise on Thames Street. Close by is the Newport Historical Society Gift Shop, selling sea soap, shells, gardening and history books on New England.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Luxury tour operator, Duvine Cycling + Adventure Co, just announced their 2017 line-up and it incudes their expansion of their popular Chefs on Wheels itineraries. Acclaimed New York chef and restaurateur, Seamus Mullen, will lead a trip to Sicily in late May, as well as a challenging weeklong ride through Tuscany from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean October 2017. Talented Boston chef, Jody Adams, will lead a more relaxed vacation to Spain’s Costa Brava in late June. DuVine is also offering trips to three new locales next year: a tantalizing Greek Island yacht and bike trip with stops in Rhodes and Kos, a loop around Corsica with layovers at Relais & Chateaux properties, and the rare chance to pedal through traditional Peruvian villages on the way to Machu Picchu. There’s also a women’s only trip to Sonoma in May with Skratch Labs resident chef Lentine Alexis. Bikers will be treated to delicious meals and experience some of Lentine’s favorite Sonoma spots along the way.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Luxury tour operator, Butterfield & Robinson, has just announced their new partnership with warm-weather fashion apparel designer Canada Goose. Called Canada Goose Adventure Trips, these small group adventures will head to Iceland and Newfoundland to snowmobile, hike on glaciers, snorkel between the continental shelf, and soak in the renowned Blue Lagoon, all while wearing the latest Canada Goose garb. The six-day Iceland adventure runs March 5-10 while the 4-day Newfoundland trip to Fogo Island runs June 8-10. Nine miles off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island is best known for its ultramodern, dramatically colored amorphous art studios that have garnered attention from numerous publications, including The New York Times.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
On the last day of our recent safari in Botswana and Zambia, we visited the community of Nakatindi, not far from where we stayed in Livingstone, Zambia. We would learn that the villagers here once had to walk through a national park to get their water from the Zambezi River and were frequently attacked by wildlife. Thankfully a water pump was donated to the community and people can now get fresh water piped to their village directly. This was the impetus behind this year’s charity donation.
If you purchase a membership to ActiveTravels, whether for yourself or someone else, we will donate half of the proceeds to Ryan’s Well Foundation. This charity brings clean water and supports sustainable water and sanitation projects to 16 countries around the globe. It was started by a first grader in 1997, named Ryan, who learned that people across the globe were getting sick or dying because they didn't have access to clean water. He and his parents decided to change that as best they could.
As an added gift to the buyer of the membership, we will be sending a children's book called The Water Princess written by Susan Verde and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Dedham’s own Peter Reynolds, that tells the real-life story of an African girl’s quest for clean drinking water.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and keep active!
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Splitting time between the BodyHoliday and Rendezvous resorts on the northern coast of St. Lucia, I wanted to show Lisa the rest of the island, most importantly those majestic twin peaks, the Pitons, that tower over the water near the town of Soufriere. We made the smart decision to go with Joy’s Tours for a six-hour boat tour along the western coast. They picked us up at Rendezvous and made the 10-minute drive to St. James’s Club where we started our cruise on a very fast Boston Whaler-like boat. Soon we were zipping past the cruise ships in port at Castries, the exquisite cove of Marigot Bay, and small seaside villages. We got our first glimpse of the Pitons just past the beach at Anse Chastanet, the classic resort where I stayed on my visit to St. Lucia last year. Just around the bend in Soufriere, we were led into mini-vans to head up the hills for our volcanic mud path and swim under a waterfall. The volcanic mud was gritty as we placed it all over our bodies. When we washed the dirt off in the warm waters, our skin was baby smooth. For lunch, we dined on native fare at Joy’s large home and toured the property to check out his guava, papaya, and banana trees. After lunch, we went back to the boats to snorkel at Sugar Beach resort, smack dab between the Pitons. We spotted a moray eel, numerous blue tangs, and my favorite, a large prehistoric looking sea cucumber. On the return trip, we drank homemade rum punch as we cruised back at high speed. When we told our guide, Johnny, we were staying at Rendezvous, they insisted on dropping us off at the beach directly in front of our cottage. A Class Act!
Monday, November 21, 2016
The first morning at BodyHoliday I woke up for a 7 am bike ride to Pigeon Island, the conical shaped chunk of land that juts out of the northwestern coast of St. Lucia. We biked along seaside villages and deserted beaches breathing in the humidity-thickened tropical air spiced with a heavy dose of salt. The next morning, I got out of bed early once again to hike up Mount Du Cap, climbing high above the resort for unparalleled vistas of the coastline and the island of Martinique in the distance. I had read about BodyHoliday’s long line-up of fitness classes—Spin, Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, AquaFit—but loved the fact that the resort takes full advantage of its locale to offer activities outside. On Saturday morning, British Olympic Silver Medalist Keri-anne Payne led swimmers on a mile race. On Sunday, you could participate in BodyHoliday’s version of a triathlon by biking to Pigeon Island, running to the fortress atop the island, rappelling down to the sea, and sea kayaking back to the property.
The best reward of all is the daily treatments included in the price. Walk up a short hill to a mega-sized spa where a talented local staff works on your body via massages, wraps, and facials. Restaurants serve fresh fish, grilled meats, all washed down with a good house shiraz. After dinner, with what little energy we had left, we danced to a live band. I’d happily return to this little patch of paradise any time.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
As soon as you touch down in Cape Town and peer up at Table Mountain, more than likely shrouded in clouds, you know you're in for a treat. But it wasn't until we spent our first full day in the city that I truly felt fortunate to be in this thriving cultural mecca at the southernmost point of the African continent. Lisa and I took the sage advice of one of our clients, a South African art collector, and hired Stephen Long as our guide for the day. Stephen is well known in the Cape Town arts community (and to the shaman of the Eastern Cape) as one of the most renowned bead dealers in the region. He took us on a tour to see some of his favorite artisans in the city.
To read more about our recent trip to Cape Town, hotels we pick for our clients in Martinique, a Quick Escape to Kennebunkport, Maine, a good deal with Austin Adventures, and a tip on what to do with your extra foreign currency, please check out the November issue of the ActiveTravels newsletter. As always, we’re here to offer expert advice for all travel plans.
We’re off to St. Lucia next week to check out two properties, BodyHoliday and Rendezvous, back November 21st. In the meantime, get outside and keep active!
Utah’s 14 ski resorts had a record-breaking ski season last winter, welcoming 4.5 million visitors. The big news this year is the opening of the ultra-sybaritic Stein Eriksen Residences at Deer Valley. The 39 condos and 15 houses will feature ski-in/ski-out access, panoramas of the mountains, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, restaurant and lounge area. An hour north of Salt Lake City, the new Whisper Ridge is billing itself as the largest backcountry ski resort in North America. It features Cat skiing and boarding at over 60,000 acres of private ski terrain. At night, you can crash in one of their ten comfy mountaintop yurts. Over at Snowbird, the newly refurbished Creekside Lodging will now be the home of all ski and snowboard lessons, eliminating the need for a shuttle back and forth to the slopes.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
The big news out of the Granite State is the opening of the first phase of the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain this past June. The $30 million project is located on the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River at the base of the South Peak of Loon Mountain. Phase One of the ski-in/ski-out resort is now open, featuring 79 1, 2, and 3-bedroom units, a full-service spa, fitness center, restaurant and lounge, game room, heated all-season pool, skating rink, and personal storage lockers. Loon is celebrating its 50th anniversary this winter with events planned throughout the season, including a special anniversary weekend January 28-29. Over at Bretton Woods, their new $110 ZIP & SKI package lets you hit the slopes then soar above them on the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour. Cross-country skiers who always wanted to learn how to skate now have that opportunity at the renowned Jackson X-C. Jackson offers a $65 package that includes an all-day trail pass, skate equipment rental, and a one-hour private lesson.