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Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Relaxing Stop in the Berkshires at the Red Lion Inn

After dropping our son off at Cornell last week, we stopped in the Berkshires to dine with good friends and spend a night at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. I haven’t stayed at this classic retreat in over a decade and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. As soon as we dropped off our bags off in our spacious room in one of the houses on the lot next to the main inn, we went to straight to the pool and hot tub for a plunge. We then washed up just in time to join the sommelier on the Red Lion’s signature wraparound porch for a tasting of roses and white zinfandels. The next morning Lisa woke up early to use the fitness center, located in the O’Brien House, before a typical August in New England breakfast of wild blueberry pancakes and Mass maple syrup in the main dining room. Happy we made the stop instead of rushing home. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/31/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor Expands

Yes, the chance to kiss a giraffe as he sticks his head through the window of the estate should not be overlooked. Take it from someone who has done this personally, a giraffe’s tongue is almost as long as his neck. No, the reason we like to book Giraffe Manor in Nairobi for our clients before or after a safari is its great location in the city, close to Karen Blixen’s former home and near the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Unfortunately, the 10-room boutique property is often sold out. Thankfully, they just added two superior double rooms. Called Edd and Selma, they’re named after two of the Manor’s beloved giraffes. Go have a look and a lick! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/11/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, July 06, 2017

AMC’s New Medawisla Lodge and Cabins Open This Week

If you’re yearning for a genuine wilderness experience in the northeast, one where you can breathe in the pine-scented air and stare in awe at a moose while throwing out your fly for brookies and landlocked salmon, then it’s hard to top the locale of the Medawisla Lodge. Located on the shores of Second Roach Pond in Maine’s legendary 100-Mile Wilderness Region, Medawisla has been attracting outdoor lovers to this pristine spot since 1953. But never has it looked so good. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) just reopened Medawisla Lodge and Cabins following a multi-year, multi-million dollar construction project. Medawisla offers a range of overnight options, including deluxe cabins with private bath, traditional cabins with shared bath, and bunkhouses. Dinner, breakfast, and trail lunches are included in most cabin rates, and linens and hot showers are available. The site features a waterfront pavilion, a new central lodge with water views, and nine new private cabins in waterfront and hilltop locations. Cabins feature Maine-made woodstoves, screened porches, and gas lamps. Meals are served in the central lodge. You’ll need your energy to paddle Second Roach Pond, hike and mountain bike on the trails as you peer up at mighty Mount Katahdin, and simply take time to savor the serenity.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/06/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 16, 2017

One Visit to the Wilburton Inn and You’ll Be Back

My family loves to tease me about the many ways I describe Vermont’s rural beauty in my stories. Phrases such as “so darn fertile you want to plunge your hands into the soil like Johnny Appleseed,” “green as billiard felt,” “a bucolic slice of pie,” and “like a Currier and Ives painting” have all made it into print. That’s in addition to the slew of adjectives that best sum up the rolling mix of farmland found in this state—sylvan, verdant, pastoral, and fecund come to mind. But as I gaze out the window from my room at the Wilburton Inn, I wanted to add that being nestled in this countryside was like being wrapped in a cozy blanket of serenity. 

Much has been written about the unparalleled hospitality of the Levis family (and all of it is true), including a recent front page story in the travel section of the Boston Globe. It was 30 years ago this summer when Dr. Albert Levis brought his wife, Georgette, to dinner at this circa-1902 estate adjacent to Hildene, the former home of Robert Todd Lincoln on the outskirts of Manchester, Vermont. The good doctor, a psychologist with an expertise in the history of human conflict, convinced his wife, a Wasserstein and the inspiration behind the Madeline Kahn character, Gorgeous Teitelbaum, in sister Wendy’s play, “The Sisters Rosensweig,” to purchase the inn. They would raise their four children in this sublime setting and all four still play a significant role in running the inn. 
I wish the sisters Wasserstein were still with us today because the Levis family deserves their own quintessentially Vermont tale. The loving dad, who as a young boy in Greece watched his family ripped apart by the Holocaust, only to devote his life to studying conflict and adversity in all relationships and discussing the steps needed for resolution in his many published writings. His wife, who I unfortunately never had the chance to meet, but obviously a buoyant personality if Madeline Kahn is playing her on Broadway. And the immensely talented children, all entrepreneurs that could only emerge from a childhood in Vermont. Melissa, a children’s songwriter with an infectious personality, ready to break out her guitar at any moment for a sing-along. Her sister, Tajlei, a playwright who helps run the 25-room Wilburton estate in addition to the handful of homes they own in the area, ideally suited for multi-generation getaways. Young brother Max, a Harvard-educated psychologist who will continue to advance his father’s research. And older brother, Oliver, who runs a breadmaking company, Earth Sky Time Farm, in the actual house the family grew up in.  
To celebrate their 30th anniversary this summer, the Levis are offering a midweek Farm-to-Table Package. Every Wednesday, you’re invited to Oliver’s homestead for a dinner party, replete with organic food picked fresh from the fields, live music, dancing and dining al fresco. Thursday morning, enjoy a tour of their farm, fields, greenhouses and bakery. You’ll also be introduced to artisans and farmers at the Manchester Farmers Market. Better yet, come celebrate Dr. Albert Levis’ 80th birthday July 12-14, when they’ll be a musical tribute to this wonderful man including Greek dancing. Just go and spend some time with the Levis. You’ll be treated like their extended family, the reason why folks return year after year. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/16/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gurney’s Newport Already Starting to Shine

I escaped the heatwave of Boston on Sunday by heading down to Newport for the night and getting an early look at the renovations going on at the new Gurney’s Newport. The acclaimed Montauk hotelier purchased this former Hyatt property on Goat Island over the winter and has already begun to make much needed changes to the tired resort. Some rooms have already been renovated and a new three-tiered outdoor deck is under construction. Once finished it will offer that same glorious vista of the Newport harbor and Pell Bridge that you can get now see by grabbing a drink at the al fresco Pineapple Club or finding a seat around the outdoor pool (which has great waiter service). Nearby, two goats can be found in their pen, their version of the Marble House, a salute to the Gatsbyesque era of the town. 

The highlight, however, was dining at Gurney’s new restaurant, Scarpetta. With expansive windows over the water, you want to arrive before the sun sets. All pastas are homemade include a lobster tagliatelle with a slightly tangy and spicy sauce so sublime I could have licked the plate. Thankfully, there was warm focaccia to clean the dish. You could cut my son’s sirloin with a butter knife it was so tender, as was the sablefish my wife enjoyed. Scarpetta is a great addition to the Newport dining scene. So good, I’d happily stroll over to Goat Island, whether I’m staying at Gurney’s or not.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

An Ideal Maine Island Getaway, the Inn at Diamond Cove

When the owners of the Portland Harbor Hotel decided to create a new property from the former barracks of circa-1896 Fort McKinley, I was intrigued enough to include it in a round-up for Yankee Magazine on the latest New England resorts to debut. Unfortunately, the Inn at Diamond Cove was already closed for the season when I wrote the article. I finally paid a visit to the property over the weekend and came away impressed. As soon as you board the Casco Bay Ferry in Portland and start cruising to the islands, the stress of the mainland is washed away by the salty sea breeze. Thirty minutes later, you arrive at Great Diamond Island and are whisked away to the hotel past a vast village green that was once the military parade. 
We dropped off our bags in the spacious room and began to explore the island. Children were biking and skateboarding on the paved trails to an indoor basketball court, bowling alley, tennis courts, and outdoor pool. We strolled through the forest to find an exquisite beach where sea glass and its soft edges could be spotted all over the sand. A lone kayaker and whole parade route of ducks, some who looked like they were just hatched, drifted by as we skipped rocks. This is just one of the five beaches on island available to hotel guests. We also wandered past blooming lilacs and sweet honeysuckle lining the summer estates to see Sunset Point on the western shores of the island. When we returned back to the hotel, we dined on tasty blackened bluefish paired with lobster hash. 
With full kitchens in each room, families could easily spend a week in summer here. Portland Paddle leads guided sea kayaking and SUP jaunts, a tennis pro is on staff for round robin tournaments, and a yoga instructor teaches both outdoors and indoors. This is the perfect place to unwind and relax far from the crowds. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/14/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Explora Opens Their First Resort in Peru

On the rugged mountain slopes northwest of Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a beautiful stretch of small villages and ancient ruins spread across a broad plain. The Incas built several of the empire’s greatest estates, temples, and royal palaces between Cusco and Machu Picchu, positioned like great bookends at the south and north ends of the valley. Along with Cusco and Machu Picchu, the Valle Sagrado is one of the highlights of Peru and is really beginning to take off as a destination on its own, rather than just an add-on to Cusco or Machu Picchu. Now it’s home to the latest Explora hotel. I know this resort brand well, having stayed at the first Explora hotel in Torres del Paine, Chile, on assignment for Town & Country magazine. I remember staring out my bathroom window onto the majestic “Horns,” twisted rock formations that rise dramatically from the Patagonian steppe. Daily outdoor excursions are included in the price of a room, so you always have a guide by your side. It’s a worthy addition to the Peruvian landscape, on par with the luxury Inkaterra properties


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/28/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Save 20% at the New LIFE Hotel in New York’s NoMad Neighborhood

Opening its doors on April 10th, the LIFE Hotel is located in the historic building that once housed LIFE Magazine. If you like boutique hotels with great design, lots of amenities, a restaurant, and basement speakeasy serving classic cocktails, this is the place for you. Rates start at $249 if you book by April 25th. The circa-1893 hotel will echo the place where renowned writers and artists worked, lived, and played. When the new owners were researching the building, they discovered that the upper floors served as apartments for the celebrated writers and artists of the time. During prohibition, the building even housed a secret bar in the basement. All of these areas are being revitalized with plans to bring back the spirit of the 1920s with modern amenities and comfort.

The hotel offers 98 rooms and will place an emphasis on great service and affordability. Guestrooms will feature oversized beds, large flat screen TVs, vintage desks and contemplative poetry inscribed throughout. Pets are welcome. If interested, please contact ActiveTravels and we're happy to book the hotel and give you our NYC travel tips.
Guest Post by Lisa Leavitt 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/14/17 at 05:59 AM
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Havana, Soon to Be a Five-Star Destination

If you’re dreaming of visiting old Havana before its transformation back to the lavish Havana of Hemingway’s day, then you better act quickly. I just received word last week that the ultra-sybaritic hotelier, Kempinski, will soon open an opulent 246-room hotel within the historic Manzana de Gómez building in the heart of Old Havana. Set to open the latter part of 2017, Gran Hotel Mazana Kempinski La Habana will be Cuba’s first modern luxury five-star hotel. Expect a rooftop terrace and swimming pool, spa managed by Resense, three restaurants, and, of course, a cigar lounge. This could be the first of many renowned hotel companies making the jump into the Cuban market. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Best New Hotels in New England

In the latest round of lodgings to open in New England, history plays an integral role. Boutique hotels have been created out of the former barracks of a 19th-century fort, a venerable captain’s estate, and within the confines of a Federal-style home dating from 1776. The Lark Hotel collection continues to expand in the region, adding inns on Plum Island and Newport. Add a large influx of cash to rehab a resort atop a cliff in Maine into a world-class property and you have our latest list of intriguing places to stay, all making their debut in the past year or two. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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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

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