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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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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disney Opens First Resort in Hawaii

While we’re on the subject of theme parks, Disney just opened their first resort not affiliated with a theme park. Called Aulani, the resort is located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and features Mickey, Goofy, and all your other favorite Disney characters hanging out next to the large water park. My friend and fellow travel writer, Lissa Poirot, has been blogging about the experience of staying at the Aulani all week from Oahu. Check it out at FamilyVacationCritic.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/29/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book a Room at the Three Mountain Inn

In 2004, I wrote a cover story for the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine called, “So You Want to Own a B&B.” During my research, I met a great couple, Jennifer and Ed Dorta-Duque, who were taking a course on the ups and downs of running an inn. At the time, they had quit their jobs as software developers in Baltimore and had been searching for an inn for over 1 ½ years, looking at more than 50 properties in Annapolis, Pennsylvania, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and New York’s Finger Lakes region. Finally, they came upon the Three Mountain Inn in Jamaica, Vermont, and made the purchase. One visit to Jamaica, a quiet hamlet on the backside of Stratton Mountain, and you understand why. It’s close to the Grafton Cheese Company and the West River Trail in Jamaica State Park, which I included last year in a story on ten favorite foliage walks in New England for The Boston Globe.

In the seven years, they’ve run the inn, Jennifer and Ed earned accolades for their hospitality and food in such publications as Travel & Leisure and the London Telegraph. Then they got slammed by Hurricane Irene and their inn transformed into the Emergency Operation Center, the Firehouse, and shelter for displaced victims. The Route 30 bridge north of town is out and will most likely be out for the rest of the year. However, they’ve already created a bypass around the collapsed bridge, and, as of this week, the Three Mountain Inn is open for business. If you’re searching for a fall foliage retreat, this is one place that’s worthy of your support!

I’m off to the Atlantic Maritimes in eastern Canada the next week to fish for salmon on the Miramichi in New Brunswick, go oystering on Prince Edwards Island’s Malpeque Bay, tidal bore rafting in Nova Scotia, and sea kayaking off the coast of Newfoundland. I’ll be back September 28th. In the meantime, keep active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/20/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, September 09, 2011

Ten Best Mountain Resorts

I love heading to the hills in September, with the last surge of summer warmth before the maples transform into their annual fall foliage light show. Next week, I’m going to delve into my top fall foliage adventures across North America. Before I do that, I want to direct you to a round-up of ten of my favorite mountain resorts I wrote recently for Spend a weekend or a week at any of these classic retreats and you’ll have the perfect blend of outdoor adventure and comfort. Heck, I might head to the hills this weekend to climb Mount Monadnock if this rain ever subsides. Hope you’re doing something exciting too!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/09/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Still a Classic Retreat in the Canadian Rockies

Staying at the classic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge was like being placed in an advertisement for Canada. The rustic log cabins, adorned with the latest comforts and technology including an indoor kit to make s’mores in the fireplace, overlooked Lake Beauvert and the jagged snowtopped ridge of Mount Edith Covell, which reflected off the clear as gin water. For the two days that we spent here, all of our adventures took place on the grounds. My wife and daughter went horseback riding while Jake and I mountain biked through a forest of lodgepole pines, white spruce, trembling aspens, and Douglas firs, spotting osprey atop their sprawling nest, the lone loon gliding over a pristine lake, and more than our fair share of elk. We walked around the shoreline, staring in awe at the towering peaks, before paddling on the chilled water. Having had our full of adventure after a week of rock climbing, rafting, hiking, biking, canoeing, and horseback riding, we spent the last day simply lounging in the heated pool. A perfect way to end our week of active travels in the Canadian Rockies.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/19/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bike Manhattan and Stay at The Jane

One of my favorite outings last spring was a ride around the perimeter of Manhattan with my 14-year old son and close friends. There’s no better way to see the city than to slow down and bike along the Hudson, East, and Harlem Rivers under historic bridges with the Statue of Liberty peering down at you in the distance. Most of the island is now lined with bike trails, far away from the honking of taxis. One of the best sections of the ride is amidst Hudson River Park, heading south to Battery Park. Across the street from Hudson River Park in the far West Village is The Jane, an affordable hotel where rooms start at a low $99 a night. This spring, the hotel will offer complimentary bikes to guests, so you can cruise Manhattan on two wheels. Or simply take a stroll on the nearby High Line, once an elevated railway, now a walking corridor nestled with trees and gardens that stands 30-feet above street level. Grab a sandwich at Chelsea Market and you have the perfect picnic spot for lunch.

I'm off to Miami to bike Shark Valley, sea kayak at Oleta River State Park, and sail a Hobie Cat in Biscayne Bay. I'll be back on Wednesday, May 4th. In the meantime, keep active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/27/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where to Stay in New England

If you’re planning to spend a weekend in New England this summer or fall, check out the New England Inns and Resorts Association (NEIRA) website. The group is comprised of 250 inns and hotels in the region. They recently came out with a bucket list, where the price of a room includes a nearby activity. For example at Inn by the Sea, one of my favorite hotels in Maine, you can haul in lobster with a working Maine fisherman and dine on your catch that evening. Another favorite, Liberty Hill Farm, in bucolic Rochester, Vermont, will let you milk the cows, stack the hay and ride a tractor like a real farmer. Rabbit Hill Inn is offering zipline tours, White Mountain Hotel features rock climbing with the International Mountain Climbing School, and Glynn House Inn is giving you the chance to go hot air ballooning in the morning, complete with champagne. That’s the only way to fly.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/14/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, April 01, 2011

Gamirasu Cave Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey

    “Urgup?  You stop in Urgup?” I asked the bus driver slowly in English as I pointed to our ticket.
    “Yes, Urgup.  Coming.  Coming,” the man replied as he continued driving like a maniac. Something was seriously wrong. We had passed Goreme about an hour ago and, according to my trusty guidebook, Goreme is only five miles from Urgup in the heart of Turkey’s intriguing Cappadocia region. 
    “Urgup, we’re going to Urgup!” my wife repeated loudly, approaching the point of hysteria. The driver nodded in agreement and grinned.
    We eventually arrived in Urgup seven hours later, in the middle of the night. A pack of wild dogs howled as they followed us to our inn. There was nothing wrong with my guidebook. In a rush, the driver had sped past Urgup to the next city. He didn’t speak our language, we didn’t speak his. Insanely frustrated, we arrived at the bus station, only to learn that the bus back to Urgup didn’t leave for another five hours.
    When we awoke the following morning in our Urgup hotel room, the strange scenery surrounding us seemed more bizarre than the previous evening’s events. We were inside a 1,000-year-old Byzantine monastic retreat carved out of a cave, now an 18-room hotel called Gamirasu. When Mount Erciyes poured lava over this region thousands of years ago, the volcanic ash formed a surreal, lunar-like landscape consisting of cone-shaped monoliths and layers of soft volcanic rock called “tufa.” Early Christians found the pervious terrain ideal for escaping persecution by Romans and Arabs. When wet, the tufa could be easily carved like soap to make caves out of the pinnacles as well as underground cities descending hundreds of feet below the surface.
    The first Christians came to the valleys of Cappadocia in the 4th century, led by St. Basil. They formed communities within the caves building living areas, bakeries, and workshops. The people of Cappadocia continue to live in these caves. The rooms are cooled by volcanic rock, which helps protect the 8th-century frescoes seen on the hotel walls.

I'm off to New York on Monday, back on April 11th. Have a great week!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/01/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hotel Explora, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile is a twisted mass of monoliths and hoodoos that rise sharply from the dry Patagonian steppe, a stunning glacial landscape where guanacos (orange and white-colored members of the llama family), rheas (ostriches), and flamingos congregate near watering holes. This is where Town & Country Magazine sent me to check out the luxurious, yet intimate Hotel Explora. Its superior location is apparent upon entering the lobby. The resort has vistas of the park’s most dramatic formation, The Horns, a block of sweeping granite that pierces the clouds.  Almost all of the hotel’s thirty rooms, even the whirlpool-adorned bathrooms, afford the same mind-blowing view.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/31/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast, Yachats, Oregon

If you’ve managed to book one of the six rooms at the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast in Yachats, Oregon, you’re in for a visual and culinary treat. Just south of Cape Perpetua, where the 900-foot- high cliffs overlook the Pacific, this is arguably the most stunning locale on the entire Oregon coast. You’ll spend the night in a former assistant lightkeeper’s quarters, set on a grassy patch below the Heceta Head Lighthouse, a tall white edifice that stands atop a small spit of land. Below, breakers explode against the burgundy red cliffs that hem in a narrow beach filled with driftwood.  In the darkness, grab a flashlight from the inn and hike up to the lighthouse to watch it flash beacon after beacon across the rugged shoreline and then out to sea. Come morning, dine on a seven-course breakfast with the other guests. Afterwards, a stretch on the wraparound verandah is in order, where you might spot crab boats coming into the harbor from their night catch.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/30/11 at 01:00 PM
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about us
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. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association