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Lodging

Friday, August 17, 2012

Costa Rica Highlights, Ending Each Trip at Finca Rosa Blanca

On my last two trips to Costa Rica, I wisely spent the final night at Finca Rosa Blanca. High above the urban buzz of San Jose, Costa Rica, yet only a 25-minute drive from the international airport, Finca Rosa Blanca is a tranquil retreat nestled in the countryside of Heredia. Watch the colorful turquoise-browed motmots play in the centuries-old fig trees as you sip the inn’s organic-grown coffee. Then talk to the owners about everything they do to make the place sustainable. They are one of the few properties to receive five stars, the highest ranking from the country’s green tourism commission, and are asked to train other innkeepers on their environmentally-friendly practices. Local artisans, including painters, cast iron welders, and a local senior citizen center provide the artwork in the suites. The vegetables found in the restaurant’s innovative fare are grown organically in a greenhouse. Large solar panels create the heat in the pool and, instead of chlorine, they use an ionized system that keeps the water clean and clear. The inn also uses some of their profits to help fund the local high school. I love the mix of art, tasty food, and lush environs. It’s the perfect place to spend your final day in the country. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/17/12 at 12:00 PM
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Costa Rica Highlights, The Exquisite Arenas del Mar

I’m just back from over two weeks in Costa Rica with the family. Even though the summer is the wet season in Costa Rica, the weather was perfect, usually raining at night to enhance our sleep. And the country is incredibly lush this time of year. This week, I want to discuss the highlights of the trip so you can put it on your checklist when planning your own jaunt.

 
First up is a property just outside the rainforest of Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas del Mar. Built into the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, five minutes from the entrance to the national park, this boutique resort has everything you dream about in a Costa Rica vacation. It’s where the verdant foliage of the rainforest meets the beach. The spacious suites, all with balconies overlooking the expanse of ocean, are socked into the forest. So you wake up looking at white-faced monkeys and those slow-moving sloths climbing the vines and trees. Golf carts drive you up the hillside to have breakfast of fresh papaya, mango, and pineapple, with baked goods, high overlooking the neighboring islands. Then the carts bring you back to your rooms, where you can walk down to the private beach or swim in the pool. With so much rain, the high tides were incredibly dramatic when we were there. The pounding surf slammed against the rocky outcroppings, with foam spewing into the air. Add guided hikes into Manuel Antonio with the hotel's knowledgeable naturalist, Ercel, and nearby ziplining in the mountainside with the professional staff at MidWorld and you understand why this was my family’s favorite of six stops on the trip. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/13/12 at 12:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Debut of the Nantucket Hotel

If you’re fortunate to have spent a night or two at the Winnetu Resort on Martha’s Vineyard, you quickly realize that owners Mark and Gwenn Snider have a passion for entertaining, especially the little ones. The parents of three go overboard to keep kids happy, whether it’s a drive aboard a 1947 fire truck Mark found on EBay or free lemonade and fresh baked cookies every afternoon at 3 pm. Expect the same genuine welcome at their new property, the Nantucket Hotel on the neighboring island of Nantucket. One of the last grand dames still standing on the island, the Nantucket (previously the Point Breeze) was built in 1894 in a sprawling neo-classical style. Smack dab in the heart of Nantucket town, the resort will undergo a major refurbishment, retaining the classic façade while vastly improving the interior, making its debut on June 29, 2012 with 60 guest rooms and suites. 

 
With a high-speed ferry that connects Martha’s Vineyard with Nantucket in a little over an hour, the Sniders have the unique opportunity to offer their guests the first ever two-island resort package. Spend the first part of your vacation at the ultra-sybaritic Winnetu, waking up to morning yoga on the resplendent front lawn, walking to that long stretch of fine white sand at South Beach, swimming in the pool, playing tennis on one of the many courts, and savoring an authentic New England clambake. Then simply shuttle over to The Nantucket to stroll on the cobblestone streets, under gas lamps and gaze at more than 800 buildings that were built before the Civil War. The historic setting is so remarkably preserved that you’ll feel like young Herman Melville himself, doing research on the book that made him famous, “Moby Dick.” 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/12 at 12:00 PM
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Thursday, April 05, 2012

New Pod Hotel to Open in Manhattan in June

I just got word that a second pod hotel, The Pod 39 Hotel, will be opening in the Murray Hill section of the city in June. The 367-room hotel will be located in a 17-story building at 145 East 39th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues. I stayed in the first Pod Hotel on East 51st Street after it opened and, while I thought the space was adequate even at a meager 60 to 120 feet, I was woken up in the middle of the night by all the people coming and going to the shared bathroom. Pod 39 will remedy that problem by having private bathrooms in all guestrooms. The $119 starting rate will also offer guests access to the rooftop lounge and use of the mounted iPads in the lobby. A projection wall of guest photography will also be showcased in the lobby. Rooms feature a bed, flat-screen television, desk, drawers, and bathroom, and very little space for anything else. But c’mon, we’re talking Manhattan. How much time do you really want to spend in your room besides sleeping? For single travelers and couples, it’s a great deal. The owners also have plans to expand to Boston, Chicago, Philly and DC. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/05/12 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Revel Set to Open Memorial Day Weekend in Atlantic City

While resort development has certainly slowed due to the global recession, with many projects shelved these past two years, 2012 proves to be a banner year for the unveiling of new properties. Billion-dollar mega-resorts, ultra-chic honeymoon hotspots, and boutique hotels in downtown centers will all open their doors to the public this year. In some instances cost has not been spared. Take, for example, the $2.4 billion Revel, set to open on 1,000 feet of Atlantic City boardwalk on May 25th after 4 years of construction. Built to delight all Boardwalk Empire fans and folks who like their casinos to display Vegas-style flair, Revel will occupy more than enough space to entertain guests for a weekend of gaming. The 47-story tower will house 12 restaurants, 6 pools, a 5800-seat theater, close to four dozen retail stores and one massive casino. The roster of celebrity chefs include Iron Chef winners Jose Garces and Marc Forgione. 

 
I’m off to Atlantic City today to speak at the New Jersey state tourism conference. I’ll be back on Monday. In the meantime enjoy the weekend, and to all my University of Michigan brethren glued to the NCAA basketball tournament, Go Blue! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/14/12 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Fairmont Copley Plaza Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Boston’s Fenway Park is not the only local landmark celebrating its centennial in 2012. Fairmont Copley Plaza plans to celebrate its 100th birthday this year with several exciting offers. For any couple that spent their honeymoon at the Copley Plaza, they will offer you the chance to return to the hotel for those exact rates. For example, if you had your honeymoon at the Copley Plaza in 1947, you paid $7 a night. That’s exactly what you’ll pay for a return stay. Don’t expect the rooms to be the same. The hotel is on the verge of completing a $20 million refurbishment that has updated all guest rooms and suites and added a new rooftop health club. The property is also offering a “Celebration of A Century” package which includes a night at the hotel, a private tour, and a historical booklet. Prices for the package start at $100 per person. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/27/12 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fitness Rooms Available at the TRYP New York City Hotel

Ever get up at the crack of dawn and head to the hotel gym, only to find out that the two elliptical machines are already taken at 6:30 am? That really pisses me off. Which is why I was delighted to hear about the Fitness Rooms being offered at the new TRYP Hotel, set to open on February 1st, near Herald Square. Choose between an elliptical machine, stationary bike, or treadmill and it will be waiting for you in your room. The hotel is on 35th between 8th and 9th Avenues, near Penn Station and a 7-block walk to Times Square. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/24/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mashpi Lodge to Debut in Andean Rainforest in April 2012

Looking to combine that trip to the Galapagos with an immersion into the Ecuadorean rainforest? A 2 ½-hour drive northwest of Quito will bring you to the slopes of the Andes and a new upscale green resort called Mashpi Lodge, ready to be unveiled in April. Smack dab in the middle of the 3,000-acre Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, you’ll leave each morning to go on guided hikes to secret waterfalls through a rainforest overflowing with ferns, bromeliads, and hundreds of orchids. A mind-boggling 500 species of birds inhabit the forest, including hummingbirds and those multi-hued toucans. Also expect to see monkeys, the pig-like peccaries, even pumas, especially aboard their aerial tram that glides above the rainfortest canopy. Back at the lodge, you can refresh yourself in a Jacuzzi or opt for a massage. Many of the herbs found in the meals are indigenous to the local rainforest. The lodge is owned by South American travel company, Metropolitan Touring, who also just opened a 31-bedroom boutique hotel, Casa Gangotena, in a restored mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco in Quito. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/19/12 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, December 05, 2011

Marriott Plans to Open New Hotel in Haiti

Good news out of Haiti last week when Marriott Hotels announced that they will build a new 173-room in Port-au-Prince, set to open 2014. The news was revealed by former President Bill Clinton, whose Clinton Foundation worked diligently to make this happen. The move will not only add a supposed 175 jobs, but could help to bolster a travel trade that has vanished as a result of oppressive regimes and the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Haiti shares the same island with the Dominican Republic, which certainly has its own share of poverty, but has seen incredible growth in the travel trade these past two decades, especially with the emergence of Punta Cana. Let’s hope Haiti can find its own Punta Cana in the upcoming years, one that world travelers would be happy to support.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/05/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, November 04, 2011

Marrakech is the Hot Destination in 2012

Folks always ask me what’s the hot destination out there, Steve. To which I always answer, wherever the sun’s shining. Lately, however, I’ve been receiving a slew of information about all the new upscale properties opening in Marrakech. If that’s your gauge for what’s hot, then Marrakech might be the place for you next spring. This past June, the Four Seasons opened within easy walking distance of the Medina and across the street from the Menara Gardens. This month, the Taj Palace Marrakech will open, with 161 rooms offering panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains and the palm gardens of Marrakech’s Palmeraie district. Opening early in 2012, Assoufid is an all suite property with pools and a golf course, located 15 minutes outside the city. While the rest of North Africa is in a state of political unrest, Morocco seems to be moving along just swell.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/04/11 at 01:00 PM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
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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