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Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Stocking Stuffer No. 1, Don Papa Rum

Already a phenomenon in Paris, Don Papa Rum has just arrived in New York and Boston. I went to a rum tasting last week at Shojo in Boston’s Chinatown and was even more enamored with this rum than the last time I tried it in France. The 10-year-old bottle has hints of vanilla which stems not only from the sweeter Noble Cane found in the Philippines, but the result of aging in former bourbon and American oak casks. As the story goes, founder Stephen Carroll was sailing around the volcanic island of Negros, when he learned about the centuries-old Noble Cane and the reason they coined the island Sugarlandia. He went on land and discovered the remains of a small rum distillery. Carroll bought it out and started creating his own “black gold” molasses. In less than a decade, he’s created quite a buzz in the liquor world. Grab your bottle of 7 and 10-year rum at Vinodivino in Boston and Needham, Charles Street Liquor in Boston, Gordon Liquor in Waltham, among many other Boston area liquor stores, and you’ll soon believe the hype. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/20/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Ski Red, British Columbia

Due to its remote locale and the fact that the Whistler overshadows all the other exceptional mountains in BC, you might not have heard of Red. But take my word for it, you will. In 2013, they added a chairlift up Grey Mountain, adding 22 new runs and a whopping 1,000 acres of skiing, placing Red at pretty much the same scale as Breckenridge and Jackson Hole. A year later they added cat skiing off Mount Kirkup. But size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to skiing this beaut. Close to 7,000 feet high and rarely another skier in view, you’re certain you were planted on Red by helicopter. You can ski the entire mountain, front and back, with exceptional intermediate and advanced terrain off the Motherlode Chair. Red’s claim to fame, however, is all the backcountry trails that weave through the trees on neighboring Mount Roberts. And those 360-degree views from the top. Sweet! Ski Red just once and you’ll understand why it’s worth flying to Spokane and driving 2 1/2 hours north to Rossland. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/17/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ski Snowbasin

Many of our clients who like to ski Park City and Deer Valley have been adding on days to check out Alta and Snowbird. You should also add Snowbasin and nearby Powder Mountain to that list. Only 30 minutes from Salt Lake City on the outskirts of Ogden, Snowbasin is one of the oldest ski resorts in America, first opened in 1939. But what gets skiers all dreamy eyed is the 3,000-foot vertical and 3,000 skiable acres, more than enough terrain to challenge you during a day or two. If you stay in Ogden, 17 miles away, a free shuttle will pick you up for the ski area. Want more? Powder Mountain has a whopping 7,000 acres of terrain and is still mostly skied by locals and ski writers in the know. They offer a chance to ride up on a snow-cat before skiing down and glorious backcountry runs in Powder Country. So just don’t think of Alta and Snowbird the next time you want to escape Park City. Give Snowbasin and Powder a try. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/16/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ski Quebec on a Budget

If you’re looking for a Northeastern ski area with a dose of affordable French flavor, then a visit to Quebec’s Eastern Townships is in order. With a lift ticket at Stowe reaching $99 this winter, you can head another hour north and be skiing at half the price. This is especially true with the current rate of exchange at US$1 to CAN$1.27. On the shores of Lake Memphremagog, Owl’s Head offers the best of Vermont skiing, but at Quebec’s prices. For a measly US$78, you get one night lodging, supper, breakfast, and a lift ticket! And this being Quebec, that breakfast will include freshly baked croissants, patisserie, and café au lait. 

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ski Stowe

Thanks to Vail Resorts $41 million acquisition of Stowe, their first ski area in the East, New England skiers now have a good reason to purchase their Epic Pass. For $899 a person, ski as much as you want this season at Stowe, Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Perisher (2018 access) and Arapahoe Basin. Also included is access to 30 European resorts across Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. There are no restricted dates but you do have to purchase the Epic Pass by Sunday, November 19th. Compare that to the current lift ticket price for an adult at Stowe, $99. That can add up quickly. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/14/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 13, 2017

Ski Jay Peak, Vermont

It was unusually cold in Boston this weekend, which is good for many of the ski areas in New England that are now open. First on my wish list this season is Jay Peak. Over the past 8 years, the northern Vermont ski resort opened the 176-room Hotel Jay, the largest indoor waterpark in Vermont, an indoor skating rink for ice skating and hockey games, the Stateside Hotel and base lodge with restaurants and locker rooms, a rental center, 84 new mountain cottages, and a complete redo of the resort’s entrance. Most of the funds used to revamp the resort were collected through an elaborate EB-5 program, where international investors were offered green cards if they invested $500,000. Then in April 2016, a federal lawsuit accused the owners of misusing $200 million raised through the EB-5 program in a Ponzi-like scheme for other projects and their own personal use. Many folks in the ski world thought Jay Peak would shut down once the owners were arrested, but Jay was placed in federal receivership and all employees were told to stay on. They even continued with their construction plans and opened a new theater this summer. What we have now is a world-class ski resort that receives more annual snowfall than any other area in New England, often in excess of 400 inches. I’m ready for a return trip, having last visited when they opened their indoor water park in 2012

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/13/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Day in the Life: Kosrae, Micronesia

Guest Post and Photos by Claudia Danford 

Welcome to Kosrae, a small island in Micronesia where I’ve wisely decided to spend part of my gap year between high school and university. It was my cousin who initially came to Micronesia ten years ago for WorldTeach. In 2014, he founded the Green Banana Paper Company, an eco-factory making wallets from the fibers of banana tree trunks that would otherwise rot. Matt now has 25 employees and is one of the largest private employers on the island. While Kosrae itself is not a big travel destination, certainly not compared to the other islands in the Pacific region, I hope to give you a taste of “island life” through this blog post. 

I grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts, far from the ocean and jungle. Now I’m smack dab in the middle of the Pacific with 6,600 people and a bunch of tropical fruit. I am outside the realm of any past experiences. My days consist of surfing, scuba diving, consuming lots of coconuts and bananas (many varieties of bananas!), learning to speak Kosraean, and hiking in the jungle to waterfalls. Living in this land of piercing sun and luscious green, soaking up local culture, working in the eco-commerce world at Green Banana Paper, and writing for its website have been wonderful learning experiences. 

Kosrae is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, comprised of Kosrae, Yap, Pohnpei, and Chuuk. The USA gives FSM money for education and government, and, in return, America gets land, air bases, and water for military use. Big ships deliver goods every few weeks, and there are four flights a week: two towards Hawaii and two towards Guam.

Most mornings, I amble out of bed to the colorful, expansive Pacific Ocean and let the waves and sun awaken me. I have also loved scuba diving since being introduced to it here. On one of my first boat rides to a scuba diving site, dolphins swam in front of the boat for a while, just another friendly reminder of all of the beautiful and vibrant life that surrounds this little gem of an island. I later went diving in Lelu Harbor to find two shipwrecks. Apparently there are four ships and two or three planes from World War II in the Harbor. The visibility was very poor because the bottom is murky, but swimming around was wild and somewhat eerie. Above the water are the beautiful lush green mountains and picturesque views, but underneath the remnants of war. Quite a contrast. 

One Saturday afternoon, I was reading in my hammock, hung between coconut trees at the beach, when I noticed a little girl of around 5 years old curiously looking at me. She giggled and came closer, and started drawing in the sand. We ended up playing together for a while, drawing in the sand and swinging in the hammock. She fanned through the book I was reading, looking at the pages and excitedly pointing out pictures. She also climbed a little ways up a coconut tree and jumped into my arms, then ran back to the base of the tree to climb again, and again, and again. She constantly chatted in Kosraean and I only understood a small fraction of what she said. I am now very motivated to improving my skills with the local language. We mostly laughed together; I used Kosraean when I could.

All in all, I encourage you to consider being “active travelers” and explore the Western Pacific and the greater Pacific region if you have the chance. Kosrae is known as the Island of the Sleeping Lady because its collection of mountain peaks resembles a sleeping lady. The beauty of this region is breathtaking, and embracing the island culture is fulfilling my goal of experiencing a vastly different way of life.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/10/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 09, 2017

On the Road to Djibouti

This is the time of year when everyone in the travel publishing world comes out with their top choices for travel in 2018. I usually like the Lonely Planet country picks the best. This year, they’ve included Chile, Portugal, New Zealand, and South Africa, all increasingly popular destinations for our clientele right now. I also like the republic of Georgia, which I blogged about earlier this year, and Mauritius, which seems to be the first choice for relaxation after safari in East or South Africa. Lonely Planet always throws in something way off the radar and 2018 is no exception with their choice of Djibouti. Really? If this destination excites you, stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog when guest writer Claudia Danford describes her trip to the Micronesian island of Kosrae. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/09/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Austin Adventures Joins Forces with Life Is Good

Next week, we’ll be heading to an event in Boston to announce the launch of the new Austin Adventures partnership with Life Is Good. “Life is Good Vacations will allow us to combine our love and respect for the outdoors with Life is Good’s mission to approach each day with positivity. We will work together to design multi-sport itineraries, with activities including hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding and mountain top yoga, infused with expressions of gratitude and optimism,” says Austin Adventures founder, Dan Austin. I’ve traveled twice with Austin Adventures, on a family multisport to the Canadian Rockies and with Dan Austin and his daughter, Kasey, on a relatively new outing to the Broadmoor Wilderness Camps on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. Both trips were memorable. So much, in fact, that we have no qualms about placing our ActiveTravels members on any of their itineraries. They always come back with glowing reviews from their experience. But I’m excited to hear about this new venture. In 2018, Austin plans to offer six family and adult Life Is Good Vacations in Montana, Utah, the Canadian Rockies and Costa Rica. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Allegiant and Frontier Airlines Start Flying From Providence

Providence’s T.F. Green Airport is quickly becoming a hub for low-cost carriers. On the heels of Norwegian Air’s new routes this past summer from Providence direct to Dublin, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cork and Shannon, both Allegiant and Frontier Airlines announced that they are starting new routes from T. F. Green this autumn. Allegiant is flying direct to Punta Gorda in southwest Florida (a 35-minute drive north of Fort Myers for you Red Sox spring training fans), St. Petersburg, and Cincinnati. Colorado ski lovers will want to know that Frontier now flies direct to Denver as well as Orlando. So the next time you think of booking a flight out of Boston’s Logan Airport, be sure to add Providence’s T.F. Green (PVD) to the mix. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/07/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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