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Friday, February 17, 2017

Be Active This Presidents’ Day Weekend

Looking out my 3rd-floor office window, it’s a winter wonderland from another fresh coating of snow, the 4th snowfall in the past two weeks. We haven’t seen this much snow in two years. So take advantage of this latest deluge to get outdoors and invigorated this weekend. Mass Audubon is hosting numerous events across the state this weekend and next week for February school vacation, including guided snowshoe treks at Broadmoor, Pleasant Valley, North Hill Marsh, and Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuaries. Ski New Hampshire is reporting 2 to 4 feet of snow across ski areas this past week. Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine are experiencing record February snowfall, over 5 feet since the beginning of the month. Trapp Family Lodge, the premier cross-county skiing (and now craft beer drinking) venue in Stowe is offering a 20% off sale through today. Liftopia is offering discounts across the country this week, including 25% off lift tickets at Stowe and 25% off a 2-day ticket at Snowbird in Utah. So get out there and start making snow angels. 

I’ll be back next week with my favorite family adventures over February break. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/17/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Unsung Mexican Beach Destinations, Sedona, and Lisbon Hotels in ActiveTravels Feb 2017 Newsletter

We just booked a cruise for a couple headed to Antarctica in January of 2018. That comes on the heels of a safari booking for Botswana in September 2018. You might think that these folks are crazy to book so far in advance. In fact, they’re smart since they want to knock off destinations on their wish list and know that there’s only a limited supply of cruises headed to Antarctica, a small number of safari lodges in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. There’s been such a surge of traffic to well-known destinations of late that Barcelona and Rome are both considering limits this year to the amount of people entering the city each day. And I can’t tell you how many people we could not help last summer when they came calling to find lodging in Iceland at the last minute. The country was essentially sold out. Give us enough advance notice and we can make your dreams a reality, with far better flights and lodging options. 

Having missed connections in Miami, Heathrow, LAX and a slew of other cities, I’m always excited to see new direct flights like the Emirates flight from Newark to Athens that started this month. Delta is now flying direct from Boston to Montego Bay starting on February 25th. Direct flights have opened both coasts of Mexico to a number of new beachfront locales. That’s our main feature in the February newsletter. We also pick our favorite hotels in another popular locale, Lisbon, take a quick escape to Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, and describe how Flightfox can work magic with your airline miles. Have a look! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/10/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Finland Celebrates 100 Years of Independence in 2017

After 700 years of Swedish rule, the area known as Finland served as a battlefield for Russian-Swedish conflicts until it fell into Russian hands in 1809. As an autonomous grand duchy of the Russian Empire, it was allowed to develop politically, eventually leading to independence during the turmoil surrounding the Russian Revolution in 1917. To celebrate its centennial, Finland kicked off a year of festivities this past week with fireworks over Helsinki. Throughout 2017 there will be hundreds of events in this Nordic nation of 5.5 million, from dance parties to joint performances by the Sibelius Academy and Juilliard, to activities linked to Finland’s renowned sauna tradition. The government has earmarked 19 million euros for the celebrations, including the debut of a new national park, the nation’s 40th, highlighting the Finns’ love of nature. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/19/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, January 09, 2017

Our Picks for The Top Hotel Openings, Events, and Cruises in 2017

The January newsletter of ActiveTravels is always a fun issue to research, scouring the top travel trade and consumer publications for the most exciting news on resort openings and events. We go through at least 20 different publications and more than 1,000 press releases to find our Top 10 New Hotel Picks, 2017 Happenings Not to Miss, and What’s New in Cruising. We hope you enjoy our selections as much as we do. 

We’re off to Arizona today for a much-needed vacation with our son, Jake, back on January 18th. Wishing You a Happy, Healthy, and Active 2017.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/09/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 23, 2016

Sailing Vacations, Luxury South Africa, and Wellness Retreats in Our December Newsletter

To all our loyal members, we drink a toast to you this New Year! What a privilege to be trusted and allowed into your lives to help make memories for you and your loved ones. We do not take this lightly and we are so very thankful that you have signed up as ActiveTravels members. This month we are so excited as our valued clients travel to all these diverse locales: South Africa, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, Italy, Florida, California, Switzerland, Belize and France. More clients' travels for the coming year include Cuba, Iceland, Tanzania, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Spain and much, much more. Our December newsletter awaits. We are reporting this month about the beauty and ease of sailing vacations, locales to witness the Northern Lights (2017 is reportedly the best year in a decade), the Royal Portfolio's exclusive South African circuit, and where to go if you need to recharge your body and mind during the coming year. 

Lisa and I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year! See you in 2017! 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/23/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Give the Gift of Travel This Holiday Season and We’ll Donate to Ryan’s Well Foundation

On the last day of our recent safari in Botswana and Zambia, we visited the community of Nakatindi, not far from where we stayed in Livingstone, Zambia. We would learn that the villagers here once had to walk through a national park to get their water from the Zambezi River and were frequently attacked by wildlife. Thankfully a water pump was donated to the community and people can now get fresh water piped to their village directly. This was the impetus behind this year’s charity donation. 
 
If you purchase a membership to ActiveTravels, whether for yourself or someone else, we will donate half of the proceeds to Ryan’s Well Foundation. This charity brings clean water and supports sustainable water and sanitation projects to 16 countries around the globe. It was started by a first grader in 1997, named Ryan, who learned that people across the globe were getting sick or dying because they didn't have access to clean water. He and his parents decided to change that as best they could.
 
As an added gift to the buyer of the membership, we will be sending a children's book called The Water Princess written by Susan Verde and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Dedham’s own Peter Reynolds, that tells the real-life story of an African girl’s quest for clean drinking water.
 
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/23/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cape Town, Hotels in Martinique, and The White Barn Inn in Our November Newsletter

As soon as you touch down in Cape Town and peer up at Table Mountain, more than likely shrouded in clouds, you know you're in for a treat. But it wasn't until we spent our first full day in the city that I truly felt fortunate to be in this thriving cultural mecca at the southernmost point of the African continent. Lisa and I took the sage advice of one of our clients, a South African art collector, and hired Stephen Long as our guide for the day. Stephen is well known in the Cape Town arts community (and to the shaman of the Eastern Cape) as one of the most renowned bead dealers in the region. He took us on a tour to see some of his favorite artisans in the city.

 
To read more about our recent trip to Cape Town, hotels we pick for our clients in Martinique, a Quick Escape to Kennebunkport, Maine, a good deal with Austin Adventures, and a tip on what to do with your extra foreign currency, please check out the November issue of the ActiveTravels newsletter. As always, we’re here to offer expert advice for all travel plans
 
We’re off to St. Lucia next week to check out two properties, BodyHoliday and Rendezvous, back November 21st. In the meantime, get outside and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/10/16 at 05:30 PM
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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Montreal Celebrates 375th Anniversary With 175 Events in 2017

Canada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Confederation in 2017 so I’m sure to post many more blogs on the yearlong festivities. First up is Montreal, which is also celebrating its 375th anniversary next year. To commemorate the occasion, they are hosting over 175 events, including a nightly multi-media show set on the St. Lawrence this summer. If it’s anything like the multi-media event I witnessed in Quebec City to celebrate their 400th birthday, it will be one of the best events you’ll see in 2017. Other highlights include the mesmerizing “Walk of the Giants” from France’s Royal de Luxe street theater company, the premiere of a new opera based on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and an exhibition at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art inspired by the songwriting of Leonard Cohen. If you need a place to hang your hat, consider Hotel William Gray, a new luxury hotel that opened in July overlooking the Place Jacques-Cartier. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/03/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, October 28, 2016

Botswana, Villas in Europe, and Family Trips to New York in October ActiveTravels Newsletter

There was a moment on our second day of safari in Botswana where our guide, Kebby, spotted a leopard. We drove up to a leafless tree where this exquisite animal was perched on a branch, looking intently at the impalas nibbling on grass in the distance. We all grabbed our cameras and binoculars to take in the spectacular sight. After 15 minutes, I was ready to move on, but our guide stayed put. Giraffes passed by, an elephant came close to the land cruiser, startled to find us there, and the leopard moved to another branch. At last, the leopard jumped off the tree and sauntered away in the tall grass.

 
We must have looked at him for at least an hour, a ridiculous amount of time for some one as impatient as me, always thinking of my next activity, deadline, or goal to achieve. But to truly be in the present, clearing your mind of all extraneous thought and worries and simply stare at a leopard, that is really a moment to savor. In fact, it's the essence of authentic travel. A chance to share a precious moment with loved ones far away from the seemingly endless responsibilities of modern-day lives. Afterwards, I thanked Kebby for staying with the leopard. He noted that it's often the time he’ll see a kill, when he stays with one predator like a leopard or lion for a long period of time.
 
Take time to pause in your travels this upcoming year, whether it's over a glass of wine at a vineyard, at the beach with a good thick book, in front of a wonderful work of art, or staring at a leopard in the bush. Be sure to build downtime into your itinerary and not just check off sight after sight. Travel is not a contest but necessary time to nurture an often weary body and soul. The vast wilderness of Botswana's Okavango Delta, our main feature in this month’s ActiveTravels newsletter, is the perfect place to replenish the well. We also discuss some alternatives to hotels in US and European cities as well as the Caribbean; an outfitter who specializes in grandparent's trips to New York; a Quick Escape to the home of Halloween, Salem; and a reminder to always check in before your next flight.
 
Enjoy reading and, as always, happy travels!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/28/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ActiveTravels Featured in Sunday’s Boston Globe

Sunday was already a celebratory day for my family as we gathered in New York for our niece, Sarah Schechter’s first art opening. The exhibition is on view at the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn, 136 Milton Street, through December. So if you’re in New York, please have a look at these skillfully rendered, vibrant and often whimsical sketches and paintings from her life. Adding to the excitement on Sunday was a Boston Globe story about the rise of the travel agent that included quotes from Lisa and me. We were interviewed for the story several months ago, before our trip to southern Africa, and forgot about it until seeing it on Sunday. It was a nice surprise. Paired with the wonderful story from Moira McCarthy on ActiveTravels in the Boston Herald earlier this summer, we feel incredibly fortunate to be recognized. It only helps to legitimize the company when people search for a travel agent in that great big space called Google. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/25/16 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.

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