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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Kimpton Opens First International Hotel on Grand Cayman

Lovers of the Kimpton Hotels brand will want to know that they opened their first international property on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach this week. Called the Seafire Resort, it’s the first new hotel to make its debut on Grand Cayman in more than a decade. The 266-room resort is home to an 8,500 square-foot spa, oceanfront bungalows, mega-sized pool, and the restaurant, Avecita, which is already starting to garner attention on an island known for its dining. Expect tapas-style small plates with local fish and vegetables, flavored on a wood grill. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/06/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 21, 2016

A Great Stay at BodyHoliday

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. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Cliff House on the Maine Coast Enters Its Golden Age

I spent the weekend on the Maine coast researching a story for Yankee Magazine on the latest inns and hotels to make their debuts in New England. Our last stop was the Cliff House, a 5-minute drive from Perkins Cove and the Marginal Way in Ogunquit. First opened in 1872, the property is not exactly new, but you would have a hard time recognizing this upscale property now that Destination Hotels has poured millions of dollars into a complete makeover. The resort now takes full advantage of its stunning setting atop a precipitous cliff that drops straight down into the Atlantic. The vista from our room’s balcony was sheer ocean water and the granite-strewn coastline. Walk into the 2-story lobby where floor to ceiling windows offer the same exquisite view and have dinner at Tiller, only to peer down at the pounding surf lit up at night. Phase one of the rebuild is now complete, featuring 132 rooms with a nautical theme (portholes on each door), a new indoor lap pool, spa, and a second casual restaurant, Nubb’s Lobster Shack, all opened in this past month. Construction continues atop the bluff to add an additional 100 rooms by next summer. In the meantime, come spend a night and have dinner at the Cliff House, only 90 minutes up the road from Boston, and you’ll understand why I’m so thrilled that Maine has another world-class resort. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/01/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Abercrombie and Kent Week—Dining and Lodging at Our Four Sanctuary Retreats

We stayed at 4 different lodges in Botswana and Zambia, all with a distinct feel of their own and all perfectly situated in a pristine chunk of wilderness. Service was impeccable at all the lodges. Servers would greet you by your first name when presenting a rolled-up cool wash-cloth scented with mint, lemongrass, or lavender after each game drive. Dining went way beyond expectations, with fresh fruit in the morning followed by eggs and omelets anyway you like and thick lean bacon. All washed down with strong French-press coffee. Entrees at night included the local game, kudu, beef, fish, chicken, and good vegetarian choices like a tasty wild mushroom lasagna. Dinners were always served with a selection of quality South African wines. 

I did a walk-through of each our accommodations on video, so please press the links below to get a more intimate portrait. Our first lodge, Stanley’s felt remote, lost in the Okavango Delta. We passed one other vehicle in two days and that was from Sanctuary’s sister property, Baines. I loved dining under the stars and then sitting around the campfire afterwards. The recently remodeled Chief’s Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve deserves all the accolades it’s receiving, like a recent mention in London’s Sunday Times calling it the “the most luxurious safari camp in Africa." Rooms are spacious and ultra-sybaritic, with plunge pools, outdoor showers, and a huge deck to watch the baboons and elephants at the nearby watering hole. The contemporary art in the main lodge was stylish, not garish, and the masseuse, Tumi, won rave reviews from our crew. Chobe Chilwero overlooks the Chobe River and Namibia on the opposite shores. We savored the moment when we returned from a majestic cruise on the river to find a luxurious bubble bath waiting for us. Sussi and Chuma felt entirely authentic, especially after having lunch at the over-the-top Colonial outpost, the Victorian Fall Hotel. Built on an elevated walkway, all rooms overlook Zambia’s Zambezi River. One memory I won’t soon forget is downing a strong vodka tonic, thanks to my favorite bartender, Vincent, on the deck overlooking the river at sunset. A campfire was roaring, the reddish-pink sun was reflecting off the waters, and hippos were grunting in the background. This is the image I want to hold onto as long as possible, at least until I return to the continent. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/21/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Fun Day at the West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana

French Lick, Indiana, might be best known as the boyhood home of basketball hall-of-famer Larry Bird. Pete Dye also helped to put the town on the map by designing a world-class golf course at French Lick Resort. But by far the most remarkable part of the area is the massive six-story domed atrium found at the West Baden Springs Hotel. We spent a night at the hotel last week before dropping our daughter off at Indiana University.  Dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when the historic mineral springs-based resort opened in 1902, the 200-foot-long atrium is a joy to view now that the current owner has poured in more than $500 million in renovations. Book a room with a balcony overlooking the atrium, like we did, and you’ll spend a good amount of time staring up in awe at the grand dome. Then walk the gardens, where deer can be found nibbling at the bushes around limestone buildings that once housed the therapeutic spring water. That evening, we took a short train ride over to neighboring French Lick Resort and grabbed birthday dinner at the wonderful 1875: The Steakhouse. Many of the travelers we met at the resort were from nearby Louisville, only a 75-minute drive from French Lick. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/24/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Andaz Scottsdale to Debut in September

If Arizona is on your radar this coming year, consider the new Andaz Scottsdale, set to open on September 12th. Located two miles north of downtown Scottsdale at the base of Camelback Mountain, the resort will feature 201 bungalow-style guestrooms and suites, a 12,000-square-foot spa, a large pool and sundeck, and regionally infused dining. Andaz, the lifestyle brand of Hyatt, is known for their innovative architecture and design that tends to integrate a lot of local flavor. The Scottsdale property draws inspiration from mid-century desert art and architecture. This will be the chain’s 13th hotel worldwide, including two perennial client favorites, the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica and the Andaz Napa

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/26/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Lodging and Food Picks in Quebec

Last week was such a whirlwind of exhilarating adventure in the Saguenay and Charlevoix regions of Quebec that I didn’t have a chance to discuss my favorite stops for lodging and food. After a busy day of stand-up-paddleboarding on Lac-Saint-Jean and whitewater rafting down the Métabetchouan River, it was a treat to spend the night at Auberge Presbytere Mont Lac-Vert in Hébertville. Not only is Danielle a gracious owner, but a fabulous chef. Her salmon, smoked at her house, followed by freshly caught John Dory fish was easily the best meal of the trip. Especially sitting on the patio with a crisp breeze, next to a big moose head hanging on the wall. Just as homey is Motel l'Islet set on a spit of land surrounded by water on Isle-aux-Coudres. The writing came easily that morning, sitting at picnic table at sunrise and presented with a large latte, thanks to the owner, a professional jazz musician. I’d happily return with Lisa next time to see one of their Sunday night concerts in summer. Le Germain is my go-to boutique hotel brand in Canada, having stayed at the wonderful Le Germain Hotel Toronto Maple Leaf Square and Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix. Hotel Le Germain Quebec is another highly recommended gem, perfectly situated in old town near many of the best restaurants in town, like the Italian restaurant, Matto, and the inspired Quebecois fare found at Legende. This was my 4th trip to the province of Quebec in the past 8 years and I’ll know I’ll be back again soon. The mix of adventure, stunning scenery, French food and hospitality is too hard to pass up. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/25/16 at 05:30 AM
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Four Seasons Makes Its Debut at Oahu’s Ko Olina Resort

Two summers ago, I had the pleasure of staying at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort with the family on Oahu’s blossoming leeward coast. Part of the umbrella Ko Olina Resort (which also includes Disney’s Aulani and Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club), this is the quiet side of the island. We snorkeled with wild dolphins straight from the Ko Olina marina, saw the ring of Saturn one night stargazing through a powerful telescope, listened to live Hawaiian ukulele music on the beach, and dined at some of the finest restaurants on the island including Roy Yamaguchi and Peter Merriman’s Ko Olina outposts. After a yearlong, $500 million renovation, the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort has now transformed into the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. The Four Seasons had a lot to work with including spacious rooms with oversized balconies that offer expansive views of the ocean at night. We left the screen door open to hear the waves rolling ashore. The beachfront locale is also home to a stingray pool and a separate building that houses a large spa and tennis courts. I’m excited to see what the Four Seasons has done with the property. 

While we’re on the subject of the Four Seasons, the company just announced that they would take over management of the Viceroy Anguilla, a perennial client favorite. When it reopens in October, the property will be called the Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Anguilla. It will be the second Four Seasons Resort in the Caribbean, along with Four Seasons Resort Nevis

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/14/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, July 08, 2016

A Wonderful Week at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall

To celebrate our daughter’s graduation from high school in June, we spent a week at an all-inclusive property in Jamaica. We chose the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, an adults-only property only a 20-minute drive from the international airport in Montego Bay. I’ve written extensively about the all-inclusive experience in the Caribbean and Mexico, having stayed at over 30 properties, but this is easily one of the finest. Rooms were spacious, with sunken tub, a fridge stocked with Red Stripe, and a large balcony where you could watch the magical sunset each evening over the expanse of beach and ocean. Connected to two other Iberostar resorts, the beach was long enough to stroll. Granted, we were there in the off-season, but there were more than enough chaise lounge chairs on the beach, with or without umbrellas. The ocean water was heavenly, just the right temperature, which was probably the reason we all got too much sun. All the restaurants surpassed my expectations, serving freshly caught red snapper, shrimp, and copious amounts of jerk chicken. Drinks were plentiful and there was waiter service on the beach, a nice plus (try the Jamaican Smile). We loved the entertainment crew, especially Hashtag and Renee, who were always there with a game to play or story to tell about Jamaica. But most of all I relaxed, reading two books on the beach. What a treat! 

I plan on relaxing with my extended family (18 in all) at the Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George the next 4 days. I’ll be back on July 13th. In the meantime, keep active.  

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/08/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cape Cod’s Ocean Edge Resort Teams Up With Orvis

Driving along Route 6A in Brewster, it’s hard to miss Boston banker Samuel Nickerson’s century-old mansion. Today, it’s the centerpiece of the sprawling Ocean Edge Resort. Add six pools, the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus redesigned golf course, nine tennis courts, and bike paths that connect easily to the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, and you understand why Ocean Edge has been a perennial family favorite on the Cape for decades. We love the property because it’s always trying to enhance the experience, not just relying on its lengthy history. Last summer, Ocean Edge introduced a chance to go oystering on the bayside beach with a local oyster farmer. After learning about his line of work, you head back to the outdoor deck overlooking the expanse of water to sample those oysters, washed down with a pale ale brewed for the resort called Bayzo Brew. This summer, Ocean Edge has teamed up with the well-known fly-fishing outfitter and retailer Orvis to offer fishing lessons on one of its ponds. Also opening on July 4th will be a new beach bar. If you haven’t been to Ocean Edge in a while, it might be time for a return visit. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/26/16 at 06:00 AM
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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. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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