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Lodging

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Virgin Gorda’s Little Dix Bay to Reopen March 2020

When we last stepped foot on Virgin Gorda February 2018, the island was devastated in the wake of Hurricane Irma. We were sailing the BVIs and the locals were overjoyed to have any travelers to this region. But it was hard not to be saddened by the overwhelming state of destruction. Upon arrival in Tortola, boats were capsized in the harbor, roofs were ripped off houses, and locals were driving cars with broken windows. Classic resorts like Bitter End and Peter Island were in tatters, large tankers beached, homes destroyed wherever you looked. Thus the reason why we’re overjoyed to find out today that the Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda is now accepting reservations for March 2020 and beyond. Laurence Rockefeller found this wilderness outpost so appealing that he built Little Dix on a deserted beach. The allure comes from the almost primitive feel of this 10-mile long island. There is little shopping, few restaurants outside of the hotels, and the only major site is a snorkeling spot called The Baths, where rock grottos on the shoreline form natural pools. With few distractions, this is the place to book a room for a week, relax on the beach, and read a good thick Russian novel like Anna Karenina that you’ve always wanted to read and never found the time. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/14/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Beat the Heat at New Castle’s Wentworth by the Sea

To celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, 15 members of the Leavitt family headed to the outskirts of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and spent this past weekend at the historic Wentworth by the Sea. Considering it hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit both days in Boston, it was a good time to be on the Atlantic coast. First opened in 1874, Wentworth by the Sea is now operated by Marriott and all rooms have recently been renovated. Built as a summer resort popular with East Coast socialites, wealthy patrons, and former presidents, the hotel retains its grand feel. Our room had a scenic view overlooking a snaking river and marsh, where we were treated to a magnificent sunset on Friday night, the sky streaking orange, red, and pink. 
 
After a buffet breakfast on Saturday at the hotel, we spent most of the day in or by the resort’s pool, taking full advantage of the waiter service. But no need to dine solely at the hotel. Both New Castle and nearby Portsmouth (10-minute drive) are known for their top-notch dining. Within a 2-minute drive of the property are the Ice House and BG’s Boathouse, both known for their excellent lobster-in-the-rough options, like lobster rolls, steamed or fried clams, and scallops. On Friday night, we dined at the American tapas restaurant, Moxy, nominated year after year by the James Beard Awards for New England’s best restaurant. The small plate options included cod, fried clams, roasted beets, and a table favorite, chicken meatballs. On Saturday, we took a 1-hour harbor boat ride before beers at Row 34 (one of the best beer lists in town) and more lobster on an outside deck at Old Ferry Landing. Yes, we saved just enough room for the heavenly black raspberry ice cream down the block at Annabelle’s. Kudos to Lisa for planning a wonderful weekend getaway! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/23/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, July 19, 2019

Heading Back to My Roots at Syracuse’s Hotel Skyler

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 
 
Last week, I was driving with my husband Josh from Toronto to Garrison, New York for the wedding of our niece, Sarah. Hesitant to drive all day on Friday and head right into wedding festivities Friday evening, we left Toronto on Thursday night bound for Syracuse, where my family has roots. Syracuse often pops up on college tour itineraries in Upstate New York. Within an hour of Syracuse lie not only Syracuse University but also Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, several SUNY Colleges, Colgate University, Hamilton College, Ithaca College, and many more. When I passed through on college visits in 2015, the place we stayed overnight was nondescript. 
 
However, this visit was different: Josh and I rested our weary heads in a hotel that used to be the orthodox synagogue of my great grandparents, Max and Eva Bragman, Congregation Adath Yeshurun, now the Hotel Skyler!
 
A steady arrival of Jewish immigrants arrived in Syracuse in the early 19th century and the earliest temple was founded in 1839. In 1870, young men who had immigrated from Poland began to worship together, and this transitioned into “Congregation Adas (later Adath) Yeshurun.”  The Congregation met in a South Crouse Avenue synagogue from 1921 until 1971, when a larger and more modern space for the growing community was deemed necessary. This South Crouse Avenue synagogue is now the Hotel Skyler.  The historic edifice of the original Temple is intact. In 2011, the hotel became the third in the United States and the first in Syracuse to be certified LEED Platinum. Hotel Skyler joined the Tapestry Collection by Hilton in 2017. 
 
After a good night’s sleep, we had excellent coffee and breakfast sandwiches at the Heritage Cafe, then we visited many other local sites steeped in family history for me. I’d recommend the Hotel Skyler if you pass through Syracuse. Contact ActiveTravels for more information, and we’d be glad to help. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/19/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Rejuvenating Stay at Bar Harbor’s Saltair Inn

One look at that long lawn that slopes down to the sea at the Saltair Inn and I knew we made a wise choice. It only got better when we realized that the location of the inn was located on the quiet side of West Street, within easy walking distance of the restaurants and shops of Bar Harbor, but far away from the crowds. Owners Matt and Kristi are the perfect team. Kristi serves up yummy breakfasts each morning like blueberry pancakes and stuffed french toast, while Matt divulges the insider information on Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park that only a local would know. He designed a great bike loop around the Carriage Path Trails which I described in yesterday’s blog, told us about a small trail near the restrooms at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse that led down the freshly cut stairs to a bed of rocks, where we not only had great views of the lighthouse, but spotted dolphins and seals in the sea. Matt also made my friend, Tim, very happy by sending us over to McKay’s Public House for a cask ale pour of Maine brewed Sebago ale. Tell the bartender, Chris, I said hello. He might be our captain when we sail the Grenadines and St. Vincent next February. It's hard to top a sailor who can make a mean drink. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/17/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When in Bern, You’d Be Wise to Stay at the Bellevue Palace

One of our favorite summer family trips was to Switzerland two summers ago. Before starting our weeklong multi-sport trip with Backroads, we spent three wonderful days in Bern. We went behind the scenes to see how the circa-1530 Clock Tower works, spent a day on an electronic bike in neighboring Emmental Valley (where we tried our first fondue), visited the apartment Albert Einstein lived when proving his Theory of Relativity, and seeing the sinuous building Renzo Piano built to house the work of local talent Paul Klee. Best of all was swimming in the Aare River. Every afternoon, we would walk down the hillside from our grand hotel, the Bellevue Palace, to a green park where hundreds of people lined the river catching rays. Then we would stroll on a paved path upriver with a long line of folks who dragged their tubes, rafts, and dry bags. Pick a spot to jump in the cool water and off you go with the strong current. The hard part was finding a place on the shores that you could stop and pull yourself out. Then we would head back to the Bellevue Palace and have cocktails on the deck. 

 
The 5-star property is now offering a 3 for 2 Summer Special, where you stay 3 nights and pay for 2. It’s the ideal amount of time to be in Bern. Even better, spend 10 days to 2 weeks in Switzerland and ActiveTravels will be happy to design the itinerary. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/26/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Encore Boston Harbor Makes an Impressive Debut

I’m not a fan of casinos and especially Steve Wynn, so I begrudgingly went to the press preview in Everett on Friday, expecting the property to be a Vegas-sized behemoth plopped down on the industrial shores of the Mystic River. And yes, from the exterior, the Encore Boston Harbor hotel looks like it belongs on the Vegas strip. Then you enter this $2.6 billion resort and you’re immediately transported to Monte Carlo and a world of opulence. The design is over-the-top and I loved it, from the red Murano glass used to create their signature chandeliers to the white marble in the 671 rooms and suites, to Jeff Koons’ stainless steel sculpture, Popeye (which Wynn paid the handsome figure of $28 million at Sotheby’s to purchase in 2014), to a carousel of horses and unicorns created from 83,000 flowers. The rooms and suites are incredibly spacious, and all offer fantastic vistas of the Zakim Bridge and Boston skyline. You can also reach the resort via their snazzy 35 passenger customized boats designed by Boston BoatWorks, from either the Seaport or Long Wharf, much better than dealing with car traffic. 

But the reason I really love the resort is the restaurant and bar scene. They wisely used local talent, like Ed Kane, owner of the Big Night Entertainment Group (Tosca, Empire) to create the gorgeously designed Asian-fusion restaurant, Mystique; North End restauranteurs Frank DePasquale (Bricco) and Nick Varano (Strega) to open the Italian restaurant, Fratelli; and Neptune Oyster chef John Ross to run the Oyster Bar, where they’ll serve Duxbury’s own Island Creek Oysters. The neighboring Waterfront Bar serves Mass microbrews like Nightshift, Lord Hobo, and Down the Road. But here’s what I like the most about this resort. It’s employing over 5,000 local workers and the state will be getting 25% of the revenue from the casinos. That’s something I happily support! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/24/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Samoset Unveils New Renovated Rooms and Suites

The crown jewel of Maine’s mid-coast, the 230-acre Samoset Resort in Rockland, has undergone extensive room renovations this winter. All 178 rooms and suites now have a contemporary coastal flair, thanks to the blue and white palette that livens up the décor. Samoset will also debut six new “Family Suites” this month. Each Family Suite will feature a kid’s bunkbed room, separate from the main bedroom, ideally suited for families with tweens and teens. The bunk room features amenities like board and video games and fun, educational books about Maine. The resort also features an 18-hole golf course, outdoor and indoor heated pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, health club, spa, basketball courts, and fire pits. Also nearby is my favorite breakwater to walk in the state and the James Beard-award winning restaurant, Primo

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/19/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Arenal’s Nayara Tented Camp to Debut in December

If you have plans to visit Costa Rica this winter and want a luxurious retreat, consider staying in the Arenal region at the new Nayara Tented Camp. Sister property to the Nayara Hotel and Nayara Springs (16 private villas), Nayara Tented Camp is the brainchild of owner Leo Ghitis who was inspired by the luxury canvas lodges of Africa and Asia. The 29 air-conditioned accommodations, each spacious at 1,496 square feet, have been built at a higher altitude on the hillside to provide unobstructed views of the Arenal volcano. The property is surrounded by creeks and natural hot springs, approximately a 2 ½-hour drive from San Jose Int’l Airport. Transfers are available for an additional cost. Or contact ActiveTravels and we’ll put together a package with another region on the beach, like Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula, or Guanacaste. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/18/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Stay in a Treehouse in Ohio’s Amish Country

Drive about 90 minutes northeast of Columbus or 90 minutes southwest of Cleveland and you’ll reach Glenmont, Ohio, the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country. This is where you’ll find The Mohicans, best known as the country’s largest treehouse village. They offer 6 treehouses, 2 of which were designed by Pete Nelson, the star of the Discovery Channel’s series, “Treehouse Masters.” Moonlit Treasure looks the best to me, but all are impressive. Nestled in the woods, this is a place to relax, walk the paths, and then dine on tasty farm-to-table cuisine. It’s perfect for families looking at colleges in Ohio. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/10/19 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 06, 2019

New in the Adirondacks

If you’re headed to the Adirondacks, my old boyhood stomping grounds, to hike the 46 High Peaks, paddle one of the large lakes, rambling rivers or countless ponds, or to visit the fantastic Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, you’ll want to know about the latest lodgings to make their debut in this 6 million acre playground. The Woods Inn in Inlet, on the shores of Fourth Lake, unveils the new Carriage House this summer.  The lodging includes a wellness center and lounge, a ground-floor handicapped-accessible suite and 4 two-story, two-bedroom townhouse rental units, perfect for families. Chalet Whiteface is a newly opened 11-bedroom boutique lodge and restaurant in Wilmington, home of Whiteface Mountain, High Falls Gorge, Santa’s Workshop and miles and miles of hiking and biking trails. The Hotel Saranac, a downtown landmark since 1927, reopened in 2017 after undergoing a $35 million refurbishment that brought out its Jazz Age roots. Lastly, Trail Break at Schroon Lake opens in June with remodeled rooms and an attached restaurant. Get out there and hit the trails! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/06/19 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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