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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Woodstock Inn & Resort Debuts the Red Barns at the Kelly Way Gardens

When we caught up with Woodstock Inn General Manager, Gary Thulander, over dinner last month at the property, he was very excited about the opening this spring of the Red Barns, renovated rustic barns down the road from the property that will showcase the wealth of produce already growing at the surrounding Kelly Way Gardens. Certified organic by the Vermont Organic Farmers Association, the gardens boast more than 200 varieties of produce including 55 varieties of tomatoes, 75 berries and orchard plantings, 50 herbs and edible flowers, a mushroom glen, annual and perennial flowers, honey, and hops. Taking advantage of this bountiful harvest, the Red Barns will combine rustic charm with a state-of-the-art cooking and dining facility to offer the Red Barn Dinner Series this summer. Join Gardener Benjamin Pauly and Executive Chef Rhys Lewis on Sundays in July and August for an evening of dining that features the local artistry of Vermont's cheesemakers, farmers, beekeepers, and dairymen while celebrating the abundant produce of the Kelly Way Gardens. Dinners will start at 5 pm and cost $55 per person. Reservations are a must. You can also enjoy tea in the gardens, Tuesdays in July, August, and September, free to inn guests, or a sensory stroll through the gardens on Thursdays. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/11/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Westport Rivers Vineyard Announces Their Sunset Music Series

An hour south of Boston, you reach the southern shores of Massachusetts and the seaside town of Westport. It's one of my favorite places to bike, where the farmland meets the Atlantic Ocean. It's also home to Horseneck Beach and the popular restaurant, Back Eddy, where we held the closing night party for the film my brother, Jim and I wrote, Passionada. Another highlight is Westport Rivers Vineyards, rated one of the best wines in New England. On Friday nights in summer, bring your blanket, chairs, and bug spray and listen to live music from 6 to 8 pm at their Sunset Music Series. Enjoy dining from the Rhode Rage food truck and Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms while sipping one of Westport's award-winning sparkling wines. Local craft brews are also served. It's a great way to end your day at the beach, but make sure to reserve tickets in advance. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/10/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, April 09, 2018

New in Nova Scotia

As the birds start to chirp outside my bedroom window and the crocuses and hyacinths are popping up in my front yard, my mind instinctively thinks of summer and heading north along the coast. Anyone who's checked out this blog over the past 9 years knows that I adore Nova Scotia, having visited the Canadian province practically every summer or fall. It's not the just the moose I see every time I hike the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton, the exceptional golfing at Cabot Cliffs, the wonderful wineries in Annapolis Valley, and the chance to go clamming or lobster fishing, only to return to the shores for a gluttonous seafood feast. Driving along the coastline on the Cabot Trail or the outskirts of Lunenburg, the scenery is majestic. 
 
Yet, if you need more topical reasons to head to Nova Scotia, there are several new excursions. Pleasant Paddling in Blue Rocks will take one lucky couple on a guided kayaking trip to a seal colony and hidden inlets, perfect for biking and a picnic lunch. Only to be followed by an overnight private island stay in a hand-crafted yurt with a clear skylight ceiling for star-gazing. The excursion also includes a locally-sourced dinner of mussels and charcuterie, and breakfast.  Price is $899 CAD per couple and is available to book on June 25, July 16, August 27 and September 17. In Grand Pré, Tangled Garden will be offering a Gourmet Garden Party food tour on July 11, August 15, September 5, and September 19. The journey starts with a glass of sparkling Nova Scotia wine, followed by exploration of the gardens. Pop-up tastings are tucked away in hidden nooks, featuring fresh seafood, pairings of herbs and local delicacies, rum and more. A picnic lunch is served at the top of garden, accompanied by local musicians. Price is $195 CAD per person or $360 CAD per couple.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/09/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 06, 2018

The Linehouse is the Latest Addition to Stowe Mountain Lodge

Travel writers adore properties like Stowe Mountain Lodge, the wonderful upscale resort at the base of Stowe Mountain. I started writing about this hotel in 2006, two years before it even opened. There was such a buzz that even then you knew it was going to be the best ski-in/ski-out resort in the northeast. It seems like every year since its opening in 2008, I've been back to report on some update as Stowe Mountain Lodge continues to expand, be it a new spa, theater, or indoor climbing wall. This week, I was back in town to pen a story on the exceptional craft brew and cocktail scene in Stowe. On Monday, I had the good fortune to meet master mixologist Dan Hatheway, who tends bar at the Linehouse, an invitation-only speakeasy found just outside the premises (sorry, I've been sworn to secrecy to not tell the exact whereabouts). Inside the cozy space of stained Vermont maple wood and lined pickle jars, we sat at the bar as Dan placed retro glassware (from Vermont estate sales) in front of us. Soon he was breaking out an eyedropper to place the bitters atop my rum-saturated Smugglers Barrel and firing up the rye in a devilishly good concoction of bourbon and blended scotch he coined the Kashki. The presentation of all his drinks were drop dead gorgeous, especially the drink he made, Lisa, the aptly named Fancy Lady. Needless to say, if you get an invite to the Linehouse, run, don't walk. 

 
Photo by Lisa Leavitt 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/06/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 30, 2018

Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy Opens Maternity Ward in Zambia

On our last day of our trip to Botswana and Zambia with Abercrombie & Kent in September 2016, we visited the community of Nakatindi, not far from where we stayed at Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma in Livingstone. When the government promised this village a medical clinic, fresh water, and a primary school and never came through on that promise, A&K's philanthropy arm came to the forefront. They built a clinic that serves 10,000 people annually. They were also instrumental in educating the community about Malaria and AIDS, the two killers that have left many children in this village as orphans. When the villagers had to walk through a national park to get their water from the Zambezi River, they were frequently attacked by wildlife. So A&K created a water pump to get fresh water piped to their village directly. They also opened a bike shop, shipped old bicycles directly from America to Zambia and Botswana, trained locals to become bike mechanics, and then bought those refurbished bikes back. They are now used by schoolchildren who need to bike 7 kilometers each day to get to school and by farmers who need to get their goods to market. 

 
New this week is the debut of a maternity ward, thanks to the generosity of A&K's guests and travel advisors. More than 400 local villagers as well as the Mayor of Livingstone, Eugene Mapuwo, attended the celebration. The festivities included opening a 40-foot shipping container filled with health care supplies and equipment valued at more than $400,000 that was donated by Project C.U.R.E, the world's largest supplier of donated medical supplies. The maternity ward includes specialized rooms for delivery, prenatal and postnatal care, ultrasounds, as well as private space for overnight staff and an office. Zambia's Ministry of Health will staff and operate the facility. 
 
Zambia is a world away from the destination we're visiting next, Stowe, Vermont, with our son, Jake, who's on college break. I'll be back next Thursday. Happy Easter and Happy Passover! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/30/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Introducing Abercrombie & Kent Destination Management

Just the name, Abercrombie & Kent, evokes images of a mysterious Africa, a hidden continent where one goes searching deep into the bush to find gorillas and lions, only to be pampered at night in the most luxurious tents you've ever seen. Having been with A&K on two trips, Kenya and Botswana, I can easily say that the experience exceeds all expectations, creating some of the highlights of my travel career. That's the reason we at ActiveTravels have no qualms about booking clients with A&K around the globe, including cruises to Antarctica and visiting majestic Machu Picchu. A&K now has 52 offices in 26 countries and can offer the traveler far more than what you might find on their website. For travel advisors, they offer the largest network of luxury destination management companies (DMCs). Translation: we can go to A&K for custom-made trips around the globe, whether it's a family headed to Rwanda to see the gorillas or 4 couples who want to dine their away around Japan. And you don't have to mortgage the house to pay for these trips. Unlike some of their guided safaris, which can higher priced, they can work with moderate budgets. That's why we rely on A&K more and more as our business grows. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/29/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Expert Led Tours to Vietnam with Trails of Indochina

If you're headed to Thailand, Bali, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or Myanmar with ActiveTravels, chances are you'll be traveling with Trails of Indochina, our preferred supplier in Southeast Asia. Depending on your interests, be it adventure, culture, history, or food, they always seem to design an authentic itinerary with passionate guides. In 2018, they're introducing Expert Led Tours to Vietnam with either a renowned artist, photographer, or Vietnam Vet. These are group tours around the country scheduled to depart on specific dates. Exploring Vietnam's Arts and Handicrafts will be led by artist Sandrine Llouquet from October 15-22. Highlights include lacquer painting demonstration at Hanoi Fine Art University, a Feng Shui lesson at the Temple of Princess An Thuong, and a private Vietnamese art history lecture at Salon Saigon. Insight to a Veteran's Vietnam Experience will take place September 24 to October 5, led by Chuck Searcy, a US Army veteran and current International Advisor to Project RENEW. You'll explore the sites of the 1968 Tet Offensive throughout Hue and visit the site of the former Demilitarized Zone that separated the north and south. Discovering Vietnam Through the Lens will be held September 3-13 under the helm of photographer Etienne Bossot. You'll participate in workshops at each destination while capturing the bustle of Bac Ha market in Sapa and the exquisite natural beauty of Vietnam. If interested in any of these trips, please let ActiveTravels know. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/28/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Vetted House Rentals with Villas of Distinction

With the popularity of Airbnb and VRBO, more and more clients are requesting apartment and house rentals with us. For apartments in residential neighborhoods of European and American cities, we enjoy working with OneFineStay. Someone meets our clients at the residence the first day, goes over the apartment, and then gives them a concierge list of restaurants, shops, and sights to see in the neighborhood. For house rentals, especially on the beaches of the Caribbean isles of the Turks & Caicos and St. Barts, it's hard to top the Villas of Distinction. Each house is personally visited and inspected before being added to the list. It also helps to know the Director of Sales, who ActiveTravels will often call to ensure that the one particular property we like for our clients is indeed fantastic. Try getting the personal lowdown with VRBO. Not happening. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/27/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Cruising Tahiti and French Polynesia with Paul Gauguin Cruises

French Polynesia will always hold a special place in my heart. It was here and other South Pacific locales like Fiji and the Cook Islands that I received my start in travel writing, penning stories for Rodale's Scuba Diving and resort reviews for Bride's Magazine. In 1994, Lisa and I went on a freighter cruise to the Marquesas Islands that still to this day is one of the highlights of my career in travel. But you don't have to deliver food to the locals to savor French Polynesia. Go in style aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin, a luxury cruise ship that has been plying these waters for 20 years. The Gauguin is currently offering 50% off standard cruise fares, including airfare from Los Angeles. It's only a 7-hour flight from LA to Tahiti, a mere two hours past Hawaii. Then you arrive in dreamy French Polynesia, where the emerald green mountains rise from the aquamarine waters. I've been all over Hawaii and the South Pacific and these are my favorite islands in the world, half of them deserted motus, specks of land surrounded by pristine white sand that are ideal for snorkeling and then walking the lonesome beach. Summer is the ideal time to visit French Polynesia, without the threat of cyclone. So if you're considering a river cruise in Europe this year, maybe you want to head to the South Pacific instead. For the same price, you can follow in Paul Gauguin's footsteps. Let ActiveTravels know and we'll check pricing and availability. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/26/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 23, 2018

The March 2018 ActiveTravels Newsletter is Now Available

Twice a year, Lisa and I go to big Virtuoso travel agent events to learn about the latest developments in the hotel, adventure, and cruise world. We just returned from an intensive 4-day conference in New Jersey where we met over 100 suppliers in the business, jumping from desk to desk every 15 minutes to hear what's new and exciting in the travel world. To hear the 6 trips that got us truly excited, please check out our latest newsletter. I'll also introduce readers to two other suppliers next week, so stay tuned. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/23/18 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.

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