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Four Spas We Can’t Wait to Visit!

The holiday season is almost here, making this the perfect time for a quick spa getaway! It’s time to recharge, rejuvenate and prepare for the non-stop events and get-togethers you’re looking forward to in the next few months. So just in time, we’re featuring four of the most relaxing spas in the country where you can restore both body and mind!

Spa Ojai
Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is surrounded by the inspiring Topa Topa Mountains of Southern California. The spa offers a full range of massages, facials and body treatment in its gorgeous 31,000 sq.ft. facility. But where Spa Ojai really shines is their Mind & Body Classes that include guided meditation, several different types of yoga, cardio and the study of Chi Kung to open the energetic pathways of the body with east to follow movement. The spa even offers Full Moon Yoga—specially designed for the upcoming Harvest Moon. Other Spiritual Journey offerings include appointments with a spiritual counselor, spiritual-intuitive or an energy reader for either you or your pet.

Spa at L’Auberge

Spa at L’Auberge
The Spa at L’Auberge in Sedona is known for its highly personalized approach to delivering luxurious and harmonious services. Named one of the top Hotel Spas in the US by Condé Nast, facials are fully customized to meet the needs of your skin. Private yoga and meditation sessions are also tailored to what you need and feel. Choose one of the many types of massages—and then choose your location: at the spa, in your room or creekside where you can integrate the soothing sounds of Oak Creek into your experience.

Spa at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

The Spa at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
The Sanctuary near Charleston, South Carolina specializes in Sodashi Luxury Facials—Sanskrit for wholeness, radiance and purity. All facials are personalized to your particular needs and include the Sodashi Facial Massage Ritual and Eye Treatment. After your facial, don’t miss the Body Rescues and Fusions! These Body Rescue treatments designed to rescue and restore your skin to firm, hydrate or smooth while the Body Fusions are a multi-sensory experience combining skin treatments and massage.

Spa at Mohonk Mountain House

Spa at Mohonk Mountain House
Are you looking to increase your mindfulness and capacity for meditation? Then the Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in Hudson Valley, New York is the place for you! They offer meditation classes both in groups and private and wellness programs for de-stressing and bringing you into balance with you. Their Mindfulness at Mohonk program has something for everyone. And you can take advantage of their Mindfulness Minute even without checking in! Phone (845) 256-2701 to participate in a new simple meditation each day.

photo credit: Dennis Wong via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: L’Auberge de Sedona
photo credit: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
photo credit: Mohonk Mountain House

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/21 at 09:00 AM
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Family Adventure Travel Made Easy in Peru!

Belmond Peru

Discovery and adventure should have no age boundaries–and with this in mind, Belmond has launched a series of activities for its younger guests at all five of their hotels in Peru. A magical introduction into a beguiling country of towering mountains, ancient civilizations and rich wildlife, activities are designed for children aged between five and 12 years, and are available at each of Belmond’s hotels in Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu. With picnics serving traditional Peruvian treats, cooking classes, art lessons, special afternoon tea and treasure hunts, each experience draws on Peruvian culture for inspiration. As the first luxury travel company to enter Peru over 15 years ago, Belmond can offer families traveling with little ones a seamless journey.

Belmond Peru

Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado, Sacred Valley
Set on the banks of the rushing Urubamba River, Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado is built in natural materials to resemble an authentic Andean village. Ideal for families with a sense of adventure the hotel can arrange a whole host of activities from horse riding, rafting and biking to cookery lessons, and market tours. The hotel’s solar heated swimming pool is ideal for a refreshing dip after a day of activity and children will delight in helping to give Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado’s baby alpacas their morning and afternoon feeds.

During their stay, budding artists can showcase their creative flair in a painting lesson on the hotels grounds using the nearby Urubamba River and surrounding mountains for inspiration. Their work of art will be created using natural paints made in the nearby town of Ollantayambo and the hotels family mascot, a lamb named Sonqo Q’oñi (meaning “warm” in Quechua), may even pose for a portrait or two.

Belmond Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco
Set in a tranquil plaza behind Cusco’s main square, Belmond Palacio Nazarenas is a former palace and convent offering just 55 suites each with its own personal butler. Original Inca stones and traditional elements, such as the ancient fountain at the heart of the hotel, combine with modern comforts including Cusco’s first outdoor heated swimming pool and oxygenated rooms to create one of the city’s most sought after hotels.

There are tons of activities for kids here! The hotel’s family mascot is ‘Miski,’ a friendly serpent whose name means “sweet” in the local Quechua language. Serpents had great significance to the Incas as they represented infinity and their symbols can still be seen in the hotel walls today. Children can relax in special mini bathrobes and slippers and on their first turndown they will receive a Miski toy with details of his history and significance to the hotel.

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas is offering children the chance to indulge in their own special afternoon tea. Children will be picked up from their suite by their personal butler and taken to the hotel’s secret herb garden where they will choose from a wide selection of plants including ‘muña’ mint and lemon balm to create their own herb infused tea. A table will be laid out especially and to accompany their tailored tea they will dine on favorites such as honey and marmalade sandwiches (in a nod to Peru’s most famous wellington boot clad bear) and cupcakes, combined with homemade breads and jams created using locally source golden berries and elderberries.

Belmond Peru

Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cusco
Situated close to Cusco’s lively central square Belmond Hotel Monasterio combines centuries-old charm with luxury hotel service. A former monastery and national monument dating from 1592, young imaginations can run wild in the hotel’s cloistered courtyard. For larger families the hotel features interconnecting deluxe rooms and many are oxygenated to combat the signs of altitude.

Children can join a cooking class with one of the hotels chefs. Lasting for one hour and taking place in the hotel’s Tupay restaurant, children will be taught how to make Peruvian sweets such as cookies made with quinoa flour, one of the main ingredients used by the Incas.

Belmond Peru

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel located adjacent to the awe-inspiring Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. It offers its guests exceptionally easy access from early morning to late afternoon, when the citadel is at its quietest.

The hotel’s beautiful gardens, overlooking the Andes are the ideal location for a treasure hunt. Young explorers will be set the challenge to find Tito, the hotel’s family mascot which is an ‘Andean cock-of-the-rock’, the national bird of Peru and a bird Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is dedicated to protecting. The treasure hunt is in the form of the puzzle with children given the challenge to collect all six pieces. Each piece found will give the clue to finding the next. The final puzzle picture is a completed treasure map leading to Tito.

Belmond Peru

Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel, Lima
Renowned for its beautiful location beside the Pacific Ocean, the newly refurbished Belmond Miraflores Park takes guests straight to the heart of all that’s best about capital city Lima. Glamorous children can relax with a dip in the rooftop swimming pool with mom and dad or visit the city’s two excellent zoos to meet Peru’s spectacled bear, inspiration for the lovable Paddington Bear, before stopping for alfajor cookies in one of the cafés scattered throughout the Miraflores district.

Children are invited on a special picnic set in the verdant Domodosola Park in front of Belmond Miraflores Park. After dining on delicious Peruvian treats such as alfajores cookies and purple corn pudding, children can enjoy activities including Frisbee and kite flying.

The family experiences are available for children aged five to 12 years of age and need to be booked prior to departure by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/17 at 11:29 AM
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Cruising to Sweden!

Stockholm

Who’s ready for a cruise? Believe it or not, Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is an ideal place for cruising and has tons of vacation adventures for the family. Cruises from UK ports dock at Stockholm’s centrally located inner-city harbors and well-situated for sightseeing and experiencing the cultural highlights of Stockholm. Shops, cafés and restaurants are never far away, and the two passenger terminals provide for passengers’ every need.

Stockholm

And there’s plenty for the kids to do! Beaches are always a favorite, and the sandy strips at Långholmsbadet and Smedsuddsbadet offer safe bathing and activities against a scenic backdrop of trees. For a little bit of history, you can explore Sweden’s equivalent of the British Houses of Parliament, the Riksdag, where you can book in advance for an hour-long tour. Or climb aboard for a history lesson on the 380-year-old warship Vasa which sunk in 1628—just twenty minutes into its first voyage!

Stockholm

Take in some more pomp with the daily Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace. Ceremonies vary according to the time of year, but can include the courtyards, Army Museum, Cavalry Barracks or the public square of Mynttorget in Gamla Stan and are either mounted or on foot with a military band. Plus, while you’re in this area, you can get to know medieval Stockholm. Winding streets, old churches and little squares have grown and spread since the first settlement of 1252 or earlier and now fit right in with today’s taverns, waffle shops and tour groups.

Stockholm

Some of Stockholm’s islands are linked by bridges allowing visitors easy access to locations such as Djurgården, the former royal game park. Stroll through the parkland and forest, picnic among its green spaces and woodland and then wander along its shoreline. Visiting the museums here makes for a pleasant afternoon on colder days! Catch a ferry from the Blasieholmen peninsular for a closer look at the archipelago, cruising from the thickly wooded inner areas to the more central parts with their stark flat rocks.

Stockholm

Children and parents alike will fall for the charms of Junibacken, an indoor mini-theme park dedicated to author Astrid Lingren’s creation, Pippi Longstocking. Ride a magical train across a miniature landscape of fairytale dwellings or dress up the little ones as Pippi and slide down the roof of her house. Older children and adults will be attracted to Sweden’s thriving music scene where rock, pop, folk, jazz, salsa and nightclubs continue the legacy of Sweden’s most loved musical export, Abba.

Stockholm

Browse the shops and street markets of this land of innovative design and then move on to the fashionable contemporary art galleries of SoFo. Finish by getting beyond the traditional smörgåsbord to sample this country’s finest food, perhaps on a floating bar to help you to regain your sea legs!

photo credit: edward stojakovic via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Bengt Nyman via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Guillaume Speurt via Flickrcc by-sa 2.0
photo credit: Carles Tomás Martí via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Junibacken
photo credit: Kevin Krejci via Flickr cc by 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/14 at 08:30 AM
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Four Fantastic (Unusual!) Places You Should Visit!

Do you stick with the same old tired vacation spots every year? Do you and the fam ever wish you could get out there and truly experience some of the most amazing sites in world? If that sounds like you, check out these four spectacular destinations that are not to be missed!

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Water, water everywhere…and waterfalls as well! Iguazu Falls in Brazil hosts 275 of them, the largest series of natural waterfalls anywhere on planet earth. This includes The Devil’s Throat, a 300-foot high wonder that creates a plume of mist visible from miles away. There are viewing platforms and tours for families, as well as a helicopter ride for the more adventurous at heart! And don’t miss the Bird Park where you can see more than 160 species of birds and reptiles in their natural habitat!

Troll’s Tongue

Trolltunga, Norway
Feel like a hike through coastal fjordland to see breathtaking views and ancient rock formations? Just a short drive from the major city of Bergen, the Trolltunga, or Troll’s Tongue, is an enormous rock formation that juts out over the coast at about 2,300 feet above sea level. This one may be a little tough for the kids, but from a scenic vantage point at the site you can see for miles, and the photo opportunities (though not for the faint of heart) are spectacular!

Canals of Venice

The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
The Grand Canal, snaking its way through the center Venice, is lined with more than 170 buildings, most dating from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Make no mistake about it, the canal was built to be a lavish spectacle, an opportunity for noble Venetians to show off their wealth and the pride citizens had for their city. Because most of the buildings were built right up against the water, with no pavement for foot traffic, the canal’s spectacle is really best experienced by a simple gondola called a traghetto.

Easter Island

Easter Island, Chile
The opportunity to visit Easter Island in Chile is not to be missed! The site itself is a World Heritage Site and is part of Rapa Nui National Park. You may have seen photos of the Moai statues, but experiencing them in real life is a different story. Tourism is the main industry on the island, so there are plenty of tours, hotels and guesthouses, although respecting the fragile environment of the island is important. Many visit during the annual Tapati Festival in February. There are daily flights to and from the island, although it takes about three days to explore fully. The Moai statues of Easter Island are a sight to behold, and their somber, implacable motionless serves as a testament to those who built them.

Have you been to any of these amazing spots? Share in the comments below!


photo credit: SF Brit via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Thomas Frost Jensen via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Trish Hartmann via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Mary Madigan via Flickr cc by 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/10 at 11:30 AM
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The Ultimate First Class Experience…and Beyond!

If you’ve ever flown coach with the whole family, you know that these days it’s more of an endurance test than anything else. Before your next flight, you might want to take the leap to First Class or above! Many airlines are getting back to that old school luxury we hear about from when commercial flying first took off, and this week we’re taking a look at four of the very best. You may not be flying where they go, but if you are, take advantage of these indulgent experiences.

First Class Flights

Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Suite takes the style, sophistication and atmosphere Virgin is known for and amps it up a notch, offering a luxurious mood-lighting drenched experience for passengers. The unique engineering of the seats was four years in development and includes a bed, reclining seat and aisle access for each seat. There’s also a full-featured 12.1 inch touchscreen entertainment center in each seat and you can connect your phone, USB stick or tablet if you want to use your own device. Need a minute away from the kids? Pop into the futuristic onboard bar available only to the Upper Class. Take a closer look using the Planeview feature!

First Class Flights

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is for those who need the first-class experience without resorting to a private jet. Their new Residence Class offers a three-room cabin featuring separate living room, bedroom and ensuite shower. A Poltrona Frau upholstered 82-inch long double bed with custom-made mattress, bedside unit and wardrobe grace the bedroom while the living room’s 32-inch LCD TV and Panasonic eX3 entertainment system will take your mind off the long flight. And, of course, The Residence is fully Wi-Fi enabled. Add to that a personal butler, concierge and gourmet chef, and you’ve got a high-end hotel experience at 30,000 feet.

First Class Flights

Emirates Airline First Class Private Suites offers a sliding door for privacy, a personal mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting and its own vanity table, mirror and wardrobe. Each suite features a fully-flat sleeper bed that is surprisingly spacious and comfortable. On-demand fine dining service is served on Royal Doulton bone china with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery accompanied by the finest wines. Large bathrooms and spa showers ensure that your flight will be a refreshing experience. And for the kids, with everything from dedicated children’s channels and brightly colored headsets to complimentary birthday cakes, the Young Flyers club will keep them busy!

First Class Flights

With Singapore Airline’s Suites Class your experience begins with luxury treatment at the airline’s Private Room airport lounge, a significant step above the First Class lounge. Once in the air, you’ll enjoy a spacious suite with attentive staff who will cater to your every whim. Each cabin features sliding doors, window blinds and a standalone bed with fine linen and plush and full-sized pillows. For entertainment, the state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system, KrisWorld, provides an exhaustive range of entertainment options, including audio and video-on-demand. And with their Book the Cook service, you can pre-order and have a gourmet main course specially prepared for you.

So next time you fly, upgrade from first class to fabulous class and make your flying time part of vacation time!

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/07 at 12:14 PM
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An Italian Villa? Yes, Please!

Deciding where to go for a family vacation can be challenging! Castiglion del Bocso has something to cater to every family member’s interests. The property is a centuries-old estate deep in the Val d’Orcia, comprised of a castle, a church and a small town in the heart of the countryside.

Its newest villa, Villa Oddi, is one of the estate’s largest boasting 4,800 square-feet and abundant amenities. All six bedrooms include en suite bathrooms, the large living room has a fireplace, and the kitchen comes stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables and other great food. The villa also has a dining area, TV room with conference facilities, LCD flatscreen TVs throughout the villa, a PlayStation 4, Apple TV and home automation, laundry room, terrace and outdoor seating area, pool house, private tennis court and heated infinity pool.

The estate has something for everyone to enjoy, whether it’s touring the vineyards and tasting wine, going to the spa, learning to cook traditional Tuscan meals, playing golf on Italy’s only privately-owned golf course or choosing from among several outdoor activities including hiking, boot camp, bocce, or truffle hunting, just to name a few! A private, in-villa chef is available for your family event.

For kids, the CdB Kids Club is a wonderful space with daily creative activities including cooking courses, sports and activities led by highly qualified staff. Private babysitting services are available.

Each evening, the estate’s main restaurant serves the perfect blend of Tuscan and Italian cuisine characterized by classic local flavors accompanied by Castiglion del Bosco wines and renowned regional and international labels.

With something for everyone, your family will want to come back year after year!

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/03 at 08:10 AM
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5 Unique and Glamorous Hotel Rooms

Sometimes the best part of vacation is the room! Having an amazing place to relax, unwind and get away from it all can make or break a trip. The rooms we’re featuring this week will amaze, delight and challenge you with their unique style and luxurious living spaces!

unique glamorous hotel room

Little Palm Island Resort and Spa’s Island Escape Suite, Florida Keys
The Little Palm Island Resort is located on its own private island on the Florida Keys, and is only reachable by boat. The Escape Suite is 550 square feet of island luxury, and boasts a private deck with amazing ocean view, separated living room, indoor Jacuzzi tub and a king-sized canopy bed with butterfly netting. Be sure to keep an eye out for the indigenous key deer that roam wild on the island!

unique glamorous hotel room

Airstream Campground, Lakedale Resort, San Juan Islands
Looking for a truly retro feel for your next visit to the Pacific Northwest? Look no further than the vintage Airstream Trailer accommodations at Lakedale Resort in the San Juan Islands, Washington. Go glamping the classic way! Each trailer features a double bed, bathroom with shower and kitchenette. Complimentary breakfast of pancakes, fresh fruit and hot drinks starts your day in this gorgeous lakeside resort where the whole family can commune with nature without getting too far from civilization.

unique glamorous hotel room

Junior Suite at Hotel Silken Puerta America, Madrid
Moving from retro to ultra-modern, the Hotel Silken Puerta in Madrid, Spain features 12 floors designed by 12 different designers. Décor ranges from futuristic to minimalist to sleek. Definitely not for those who fear the funky, this hotel also features levitating beds, free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool, a hip on-site restaurant and a top floor bar with an incredible view.

unique glamorous hotel room

Adventure Yurt at El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara
An “adventure yurt” might not sound like the most exciting place to spend a vacation, but trust us these are amazing! The Adventure Yurt is a “unique, free-standing accommodation with a round wooden platform, canvas walls with indoor lattice and a raised rooftop that includes a domed skylight.” A family of four can easily fit and electricity and bath accommodations just a few steps away. Add to that a private picnic table and fire pit in the middle of the beautiful surroundings of the California Coast, and this yurt living sounds pretty great!

unique glamorous hotel room

Sol 2 at Playa Escondida, Riviera Nayarit
Sol 2 at Playa Escondida is a sun-soaked private jungle beach resort and spa. It might not be popular with the kids, but the idea at Sol 2 is to get away from it all. Rooms have no TVs, and cell phone use is restricted to only a few areas. Sol 2 is gorgeously tropical, with wood and stone construction and luxurious private beach sand terrace. Here you can escape the ordinary and truly find yourself relaxing in an atmosphere that’s as close to paradise as it’s possible to get.

So for your next vacation, try one of these interesting and unique destinations! You’ll enjoy a vacation that’s miles beyond your usual experience.

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/30 at 11:01 AM
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Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego: Relaxation in an Urban Paradise

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

The “ultimate urban resort vacation” awaits you and your family when you stay at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego! This high-rise spa and resort, located on the Marina’s waterfront, is one of the premiere hotels in San Diego, combining the convenience of downtown access with the comfort of a luxury hotel. All rooms have partial water and cityscape views—you can even see the ocean from some!

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

Need to Relax?
Settle in and enjoy some of the family activities available right at the hotel! Roast marshmallows at the fire pits on the 4th floor pool deck, sweat it out at the sports courts featuring basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball, tennis and horseshoes or take in a poolside movie. On weekends feel free to sleep in ‘cause you can get breakfast all day at Sally’s Weekend Brunch!

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

Need some kid-free time to work? Camp Hyatt has you covered! When it’s time for the ultimate relaxation experience, stop by the Marilyn Monroe Spa and Salon where you can have a full body massage that refreshes and relaxes, a facial using only the highest quality natural ingredients, a mani-pedi or hair styling and rejuvenation treatments that transform your skin.

Balboa Park

See the Sites
When you’re ready, head out to the incredible sites San Diego offers visitors! For shopping, dining and entertainment, you can practically step out the front door and find Seaport Village, with amazing seafood restaurants, more than 50 shops and magical, musical performances performed throughout the village. For the kids (or the kid at heart) you can go for the brass ring on the nostalgic village carousel. Balboa Park features 1,200 acres of fun, including 15 museums, serene gardens and a four-acre marvelously detailed miniature railroad! And don’t forget the world-famous San Diego Zoo!

Gaslamp Quarter

Make sure you stop by the Gaslamp Quarter, 16 ½ city blocks of historic downtown where the adults can enjoy the nightlife. There’s so much to do in San Diego, and such an amazing place to stay in the Manchester Grand Hyatt, you may never want to leave!

photo credit: Amy Schmittauer
photo credit: Oleg Shpyrko via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Pat Loika via Flickr cc by 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/25 at 11:14 PM
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Adventure Time: Snow Leopards & Safari

Nomadic Expeditions

Are you the adventurous type? This week we’re featuring two incredible trip experiences that focus on endangered wildlife, conservation and learning about international cultures.

Encountering Snow Leopards with Nomadic Expeditions
Nomadic Expeditions’ The Quest for the Snow Leopard is a 16-day small group adventure scheduled for November 13-28, 2014. It’s the first in a series that will take place annually—although if you can’t make the dates, it’s possible to book this trip on a private/custom basis! Designed in conjunction with the field biologists from the World Wildlife Fund, the trip is a conservation project aimed at preserving the longevity of snow leopards. The fascinating itinerary is based in a highly remote region of the Altai mountain range of Mongolia.

Nomadic Expeditions

A truly unique and active adventure, this expedition focuses on the elusive Himalayan cat and its habitat. Although not appropriate for children, it is tailored for those who thrive on exploratory journeys in challenging conditions that are well off the beaten path. If this sounds like you, you’ll set out from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In Ulaanbaatar, you’ll visit the Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia, and the Natural History Museum to gain understanding of the Mongolian culture, wildlife and heritage that will be encountered throughout the trip. On day two, you’ll be swept off via small plane to Hovd in Western Mongolia to begin your one-of-a-kind expedition to spot the snow leopard in and around Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain, Ustyn Am Valley and Omno Uliastai Valley. Nights are spent in traditional ger dwellings with Mongolian nomads as host families. Each day offers two to six hours of hiking through snow leopard habitats including mountains, valleys and past scenic lakes, accompanied by WWF local biologists who share their knowledge of the animals and other wildlife that live there. At the end of the trip, you’ll stop through Khar-Us Lake and Dorgon Steppe to see the saiga antelope, the second largest lake in the country and home to the rare Dalmatian Pelican. You’ll also enjoy local folk singers, who join the group from nearby Chandmana village, the home of hoomii throat singing.

Big Five Tours Nairobi

Exploring Kenya and Cats and Big Five Tours & Expeditions
If you’re looking for a more luxury family-oriented experience, you can explore the African bush on a quest for mammoth elephants, roaming lions and herds of buffalo with the Kenya: Kids, Cats & A Tree House adventure from Big Five Tours & Expeditions. This 11-day Precious Journey excursion takes you through Kenya’s Nairobi National Park where you’ll encounter elephants in the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and come into close contact with lions, rhinos, giraffes and zebras.

Big Five Tours Nairobi

Another highlight of the itinerary includes a special excursion in Maasai Mara, where you’re invited to climb into “The Nest”—a treehouse sitting atop a Warburgia tree that has been outfitted with infrared technology. There you’ll be able to keep a look out for wildlife at night! Active families are invited to walk through the savannah with a local Maasai guide interacting with his culture and family. You’ll also get the chance to walk with wild elephants in the Ithumba Camp in Chyulu Hills.

Does getting up and close and personal with some amazing wildlife sound like the trip for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/23 at 08:30 AM
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It’s Time for Selfie-Less Travel!

Bruvion Selfie-Less Travel

Tired of missing great moments in your vacation because you’re distracted by posting to social media? Well, problem solved! Los Angeles-based Bruvion Travel is now providing “Selfie-less Travel.” A new service allowing travelers to spend more time enjoying their vacation and less time worrying about capturing the perfect moments!

Bruvion Selfie-Less Travel

How does it work? Good question! With Selfie-less Travel, taking advantage of this perk means you get access to your very own Social Media Travel Assistant who will handle your social media grunt work. From making sure photos are flattering to highlighting the best aspects of one’s travels, you won’t have to lift a finger!

Bruvion Selfie-Less Travel

24/7 Social Media Travel Assistant
This full-service package offers around the clock access to your very own social media travel assistant. Designed to keep you engaged in every aspect of your vacation from the first class champagne toast to iconic landmark photos, the 24/7 Assistant will focus on capturing and documenting every aspect of your vacation, editing photos and sharing those memories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not just a social media expert, all 24/7 Assistants are well-versed in both photography and photo editing. This means they make sure you look your absolute best in every post! These assistants are even available for multi-leg trips.

Bruvion Selfie-Less Travel

Local Social Media Guru Guide
If you’re looking to capture select highlights of your vacation, Bruvion offers a Local Social Media Guru. Based in the destination where you’re going, this vetted local Guru will spend the day capturing and sharing memories. Not only will they follow you around throughout the day papparazzi-style, they’ll ensure you’re hitting the right spots at the right times.

Are you in need of a social media assistant when you travel? Will you be taking advantage of this new service? Let us know in the comments below!

photo credit: Susanne Nilsson via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0
photo credit: David Blackwell. via Flickr cc by-nd 2.0
photo credit: Bruvion Travel

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/19 at 08:30 AM
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Going on Vacation? Try a Vacation Home!

Inspirato Signature Residence - Cayman

When it comes to family vacations, home really is where the heart is! According to new research released by luxury destination club Inspirato with American Express, families are among the heaviest users of vacation home rentals this year, representing 56 percent of all vacation home rental lodgers. Families are also more likely to value the benefits of vacation homes than other overall travelers.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Inspirato among over 2,000 adults in June, also provided insight into which benefits unique to vacation homes are most valued by traveling families.

Inspirato Signature Services - Vail

According to the survey, 93 percent of all those traveling with families cited “having privacy” as important or very important. Next on the list was “having space to spread out” with 83 percent of families citing it as important or very important. The third most important benefit was the “ability to stay with children and/or family and/or friends under one roof,” with 82 percent citing it as important or very important.

Several other benefits largely unique to vacation home rentals were all also cited as being important or very important to more than half of traveling families, including providing guests a more authentic destination experience, having common areas to accommodate groups of people and having a private kitchen to prepare meals.

Inspirato Signature Service - Costa Rica

No matter what type of vacation experience you’re looking for, Inspirato Signature Residences provides the perfect setting for enjoying life’s best moments! Ranging from elegant homes in Grand Cayman, to stylish four-bedroom residences overlooking the mountain in Vail, to cliffside villas with private infinity pools in Costa Rica, each combines the space and comfort of a private vacation home with the five-star service of a luxury resort. Unlike typical online vacation rental agents that broker third-party homes, Inspirato fully manages and controls each Signature Residence and invests an average of $50,000 in furnishings, fine bed and bath linens and other upgrades so each home is the pinnacle of luxury.

Of course, you need to be an Inspirato with American Express Member in order to access the Signature Residences, but with the perks like your own Personal Vacation Advisor and Destination Concierge, how can you say no?

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/16 at 11:24 AM
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5 Best Resorts for Luxury Family Vacations

5 Best Resorts for Luxury Family Vacations

Summer’s over, the kids are back in school, and it’s time to start planning for a restful vacation to recover from that stress! This week we’ve done a little research and put together a list of five of the most luxurious, most fun and most relaxing resorts in the country. But, don’t worry, all our suggestions are family-friendly and kid-approved!

Dunton Hot Springs

Gorgeous Ghost Town
For a little rustic goodness—while still preserving the luxury—try Dunton Hot Springs in Dolores, Colorado. Forbes even included it in the 10 Coolest All-Inclusive Vacations list—and for good reason! A refurbished genuine ghost town located high in the San Juan Mountains in the Colorado Rockies, the authentic log cabins and cottages are hand built (sometimes by miners themselves!) while the interiors have all the perks you could want for a luxury vacation. Just like the old mining town that was here before, there is a saloon, dance hall, bath house, open air chapel and lush waterfall for you to enjoy. A highlight at Dunton Hot Springs is the natural hot springs where you can soak in the bicarbonate water. It helps to improve circulation and promotes healthy skin! Other activities include nature hikes, heli-skiing, fly fishing, yoga and guided horseback rides. Want to see a little more? Check out their streaming live feed!

Disney Safari Kingdom

Giraffe’s for Breakfast
Wake up, brush your teeth, open up the resort room curtains and there’s a giraffe! The Kissimmee Florida Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the only upscale family-friendly lodging experiences where you get to actually stay where the animals live. The resort is designed in the traditional horseshoe-curved design of the traditional African kraal, so there are spectacular views of four lush savannas where more than 200 animals and birds live. The Wildlife Field Guide helps you identify each species, and the resort’s Animal Specialists teach you about African animals and ecosystems. And for even more fun, wake up early and go on the Sunrise Safari!

Big Cedar Lodge

Ozark Beauty
Big Cedar Lodge is an 800 acre preserve just ten miles south of Branson, Missouri on Table Rock Lake that is tucked away into the wooded hillsides of the Ozark Mountains. You’ll stay in a gorgeous log cabin with a jetted-tubs, vaulted ceiling, wood burning fireplace and full kitchen. Want to throw a BBQ? You can—on your private deck with a gas grill. Part of the Backyard Baskets service, they’ll deliver your choice of steak, chicken, prime rib, burgers or hotdogs, along with sides and dessert. There is so much to do at Big Cedar Lodge, everyone in the family will be happy! Hiking, kayak trips, campfire horse-drawn wagon tours and golfing will fill your entire stay. And don’t forget the beautiful spa when it’s time to relax!

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

Natural Landscape Focused on Preservation
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina is number four on our list of best resorts. The Inn allows for a visit to a comforting way of life with southern accents and Spanish moss covering oak trees; it’s a place where time slows down and luxury takes over. Accommodations are spread across the property that borders 20,000 acres of coast marshes. Cottages feature 1,140 sq.ft. of luxurious indoor/outdoor space and a well-appointed interior with pine floors, vaulted ceilings and a private screened in porch. The Inn offers many kids activities including the PB Explorers Club, the Teen Adventure Island and, to give you a little alone time, the Evening Island Kids Adventure with campfire stories, fishing, shrimping, crabbing and delicious fireside snacks!

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa

Restoration and Rejuvenation
Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Ojai, California is a popular luxury destination for spa and golf getaways dating to the 1920’s. The resort’s exquisite décor blends luxury and comfort in a modern Spanish Colonial style, and many feature fireplaces, private balconies or patios overlooking the golf course and surrounding mountains. Recreation at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is intended for the body, mind and soul. Fitness classes, apothecary, s’mores roasting and Camp Oak, Kids Camp are just the beginning. Other on-site activities include safari scavenger hunts, color splash sidewalk art projects, and everyone’s favorite: dive-in movies! There’s even an exclusive adults-only Herb Garden Pool! No matter what your soul needs, you’ll find it at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.

Which resort is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! But whichever you choose for your vacation, relaxation and fun will be the theme!

Nathanael Madden is an entrepreneur who has traveled to 21 countries and most of the states. He has friends in 112 countries, and helps run http://www.arcadiacoves.com resort.

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/12 at 01:11 PM
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Boudin Bakery: A San Francisco Tradition

Boudin Bakery

Looking for a fun adventure in San Francisco? The city’s iconic establishment, Boudin at the Wharf, is located in the heart of San Francisco’s renowned waterfront. Born in the Gold Rush, Boudin is the oldest continuously operating business in San Francisco and is world-famous for The Original San Francisco Sourdough Bread™, baked from the same “mother dough,” or sourdough starter, since 1849. Because each loaf is made from a portion of the original sourdough starter, Boudin Sourdough is one of a kind. With its delicious tangy flavor, golden crunchy crust and soft chewy center––along with its famous aroma––it has been described as “a sensory experience in a simple loaf of bread.” Boudin at the Wharf is Boudin’s flagship bakery and home to Bistro Boudin, Boudin Museum & Bakery Tour, a demonstration bakery, and Bakers Hall Marketplace. Boudin at the Wharf is the quintessential San Francisco landmark that entertains bread lovers (and isn’t that everyone?) of all ages!

Boudin Restaurant

Bistro Boudin
Bistro Boudin is a full-service restaurant located on the second floor of Boudin at the Wharf. It is known affectionately by locals as “the restaurant upstairs,” and savvy San Franciscan’s often climb the staircase for a slice of authenticity along the Wharf. Bistro Boudin’s Executive Chef is Misael Reyes, who built his career with Francis Ford Coppola at his restaurant, Rubicon. Misael is originally from El Salvador and brings a Central American flair to all of his creations at Bistro Boudin. Reyes just added a number of new dishes to the menu including a variety of ceviches and Leg of Muscovy Duck Confit. Bistro Boudin only serves seafood recommended by the expert Seafood Watch list, so guests can be confident that all the seafood they enjoy at Bistro Boudin has been designated as “Best Choices” or “Good Alternatives,” by the scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Bistro Boudin’s Executive Sous Chef, Keith Luke, is a big supporter of the farm-to-table philosophy and helps Chef Reyes identify the best sources for ingredients in Northern California.

Boudin Bakery Museum

The Museum
Tucked next to a spectacular gallery overlooking Boudin Bakery and San Francisco Bay, the Museum at Boudin at the Wharf offers a fascinating exploration of the intertwined histories of Boudin Bakery and San Francisco. Isidore Boudin founded Boudin Bakery in 1849 and through the decades, Boudin has shared both hardship and glory with the city, from the 1906 earthquake to the waterfront’s recent renaissance. This landmark museum is super fun for the kids if parents need a midday break or a great place to enjoy a cocktail before dinner at Bistro Boudin!

Boudin Bakers Hall

Bakers’ Hall
Bakers’ Hall market is stocked with an array of picnic supplies as well as an assortment of specialty food items from Northern California producers, including artisanal olive oil, handcrafted cheese, gourmet chocolates and, of course, Boudin’s signature San Francisco Sourdough French Bread. An easy to use guide to the best picnic spots in the city helps guests find just the right place to enjoy their delicious picnic repasts.

Boudin Bakery Treats

Boudin Bakery
Both locals and visitors love to watch the Boudin bakers carefully mix, form and bake The Original San Francisco Sourdough Bread™. Enhancing that cherished tradition, a clever sound system makes it possible for guests to speak with the bakers as the bakers are working. Kids love it—and the cute animals and shapes the bakers create!

photo credits: boudin.com
photo credit: Christian Bradford via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/09 at 08:30 AM
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Visit Santa’s Home in Lapland!

Lapland Snow

Travel is about experiencing new things, stepping out of the ordinary and living, for a little while, a life that’s completely different from your everyday. And while a lot of times a vacation means beaches and ocean and palm trees swaying in a gentle tropical breeze, it can also mean soaring pinnacles of ice, exotic food and locales, cozy winter nights and beautiful summer days. With this in mind, why not consider Lapland as the next adventurous getaway for your family?


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You may be wondering where exactly Lapland is located. Both Sweden and Finland have provinces called Lapland known as Swedish Lapland and Finnish Lapland. Lapland by itself in English, is used to refer to the area inhabited by the indigenous Sami people.

Northern Lights

Finnish Lapland is located far north of Europe, above the arctic circle, around the same latitude as northern Alaska. Because of this, there are some amazing things to experience like skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling and the Northern Lights. Best of all, Lapland is home for a very famous resident—Santa Claus!

Santa's Lapland

Although it’s not quite Christmas yet, if you want to see Santa where he lives, start making plans now for the place you’re visiting! Santa’s Lapland is a wonderful little village in Saariselkä where both kids and adults will be delighted by a 3- or 4-day snow adventure culminating in the magical experience of a private meeting with Santa Claus in his hidden cabin. Wondering what Santa does in the off-season? Find out here!

Summer in Lapland

But it’s not all snow and ice: Lapland is known as one of the “Lands of the Midnight Sun” because during the summer months, the position of the region with respect to the sun means that there is sunlight for almost 70 straight days. Visitors during this time will experience a completely different place, surrounded by beautiful, lush forests and wildlife (including reindeer and moose) all just a brisk hike through unspoiled wilderness.

Cloudberry Festival

During the summer from late July to early August locals seek out and harvest the indigenous cloudberry. These golden berries have been enjoyed since the 1700s, and have a subtle, sweet, unique flavor reminiscent of the place you’re visiting. The berries are made into jams, served alongside native “squeaky” cheese and used to make a very aromatic cloudberry liquor. There is even a Cloudberry festival!

Would you be willing to brave the Artic for a visit to Santa? Or would you rather visit when the sun is up all day and cloudberries are blooming?

photo credit: Heather Sunderland via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Chris via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Santa’s Lapland
photo credit: Heather Sunderland via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Per Arne Slotte via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/05 at 11:15 AM
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Abercrombie & Kent Introduces Seven New Dedicated Family Journeys

Abercrombie & Kent Connections Family Journey

Two years ago luxury travel experts Abercrombie & Kent launched Connections, an inspired approach to group travel designed to provide an intimate, first-hand perspective on the world’s most intriguing places. By artfully combining the same local expertise and insider access that they are known for, with 4-star-plus hotels specially chosen for their location, character and value, A&K has developed some new journeys specifically for families!

Connecting Families Around the World
Each Connections Family Journey was designed by A&K’s resident experts to satisfy adventurers of all ages, with engaging local guides, fun and enriching activities and child-friendly hotels. The departure dates coincide with when the kids have off school, and each journey offers a $400 per-child discount!

You can choose from any of these journeys: Amsterdam, Paris and London to South Africa, Peru, Australia and New Zealand, Spain, Italy or Russia. Here a few of the highlights of these amazing travel opportunities:

Abercrombie & Kent Connections Family Journey

Italy: A Family Journey
Discover Italy by enjoying kid-friendly activities for all ages and going beneath the surface of Italy’s best-known sites and cities. Learn the secrets of pizza making in Rome. Paint your own Venetian Carnival mask. Savor lunch with a family who produces celebrated balsamic vinegar. Visit the picturesque towns of Cinque Terre.

Abercrombie & Kent Connections Family Journey

Spain: A Family Journey
Explore sunny Spain from seaside Barcelona to heartland Madrid while participating in kid-friendly experiences designed to inspire! Ride in a horse-drawn carriage to an authentic flamenco show. Take a dramatic cable car ride in Gibraltar and see the Barbary apes. Visit a traditional Andalusian ranch to witness a display of horsemanship. Sample traditional tapas around Seville. Join a local chef to learn classic Spanish dishes. Take part in a scavenger hunt in a museum.

Abercrombie & Kent Family Connections Family Journey

South Africa: A Family Safari
Together, experience the treasures of South Africa—its historic cities, breathtaking scenery and vibrant culture. Embark on twice-daily game viewing activities in Ngala Game Reserve that borders Kruger National Park. Take the cable car to Table Mountain. Meet Boulders’ famous African penguin colony. Connect with local children when you visit the rural community of Welverdiend. Visit an Endangered Species Center where cheetahs, wild dogs and other animals are rehabilitated. Take a walking tour of Victoria Falls.

Discover a world of inspiring travel made possible only with Connections by Abercrombie & Kent. For more information, call 800-554-7094 to speak with an A&K Travel Consultant, go to http://www.ak-connections.com or contact your travel professional to learn more.

Posted by Elizabeth on 09/02 at 11:41 AM
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