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Enjoying the Gilded Age in Newport, RI

Vanderbilt Grace Facade

If you’d like to see what the Gilded Age looks like in today’s world, book a room at the Vanderbilt Grace in Newport, Rhode Island. One of the city’s many historic mansion treasures, it was built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1909 and is now a boutique property with 33 rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, restaurant and a rooftop bar with killer views of Newport Harbor. The hubby and I got married just a few blocks away at another hotel five years ago, and although we made a blood pact to come back to Newport every year to celebrate, mother nature got in the way and two babies later, this was our first weekend without our kids! Luckily, I couldn’t have picked a more romantic spot for our five-year wedding anniversary.

Christy Room_Vanderbilt

Upon Arrival
There’s snobby, stuffy luxury, and there’s warm, inviting hotels staffed with kind, knowledgeable locals. To our delight, the Vanderbilt Grace turned out to be the latter. Upon arrival, we handed our keys to the valet. A nice touch was that we were immediately offered champagne that we sipped while we met with the concierge who helped plan our weekend. Prior to our arrival we had been emailed a questionnaire asking for our choice of room scent (I picked eucalyptus!) pillow texture (soft, down) and included options for families such as having diapers and wipes waiting in the room, monogrammed robes and even meals and treat menus for pooches!

Junior Suite_Vanderbilt


Deluxe Comfort, Superb Styling
Our room was a Junior Suite and offered a kitchenette, minibar, coffee machine, king-sized bed and custom-made bookcase separating the sitting area from the bedroom. These rooms can be interconnected with other suites which works well for families or groups. Travelers looking for more of a view can opt to stay in a corner suite with dual views of the historic Trinity Church and the harbor. Because I spend most of my days in spit-up covered clothes, I immediately changed into one of the two lush robes and drew a bath in the soaking tub. You can rent movies free at the front desk, and I picked The Great Gatsby. It was fun to think the Vanderbilt was standing proud during the time period of the film!

Incredible Activities
The Vanderbilt has a ton of fun activities for singles, couples or the whole family. Be sure to call ahead as some are in-season only. Visitors can choose from weekend tea ($18pp, 2-4pm), Cooking classes ($95pp), yoga on the roof every Saturday in summer ($15 pp, 9:30-10:30am) and cigar night every Tuesday in summer (6-8pm). Wednesday night is movie night (8:30pm) and Thursdays have wine and cheese tastings! Children are always 50% off.

Walkable Ideas
I got a lot of my activity ideas from Discover Newport. I’ve stayed in Newport many times but never this close to the water. It was great to walk to town in less than five minutes. We often popped back to the Vanderbilt to change clothing or drop off a shopping bag. On Friday, we continued the early 1900’s vibe and took a harbor cruise on the 49-seat Rum Runner 2—a classic motor yacht built for two New Jersey mobsters during Prohibition. The tour guide gives a speaking history behind both the mansions along the waterfront, and surprisingly, several America’s Cup-winning sailboats anchored in the harbor. On Saturday, we walked the entire town, from the famous Cliffwalk to the Tennis Hall of Fame, to the cute, boutique shops on Thames Street. I scored a $40, 1939 poster of Chevrolet cars for my son’s room in the Newport Armory, an 1894 building open Mon - Fri, 6am - 4:30pm; Sat, 7am – noon.

Conservatory_Vanderbilt

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Breakfast is served daily from 7:30 to 11:00am in the Conservatory, a pretty, glassed-in room just off the lobby with both a buffet (included with room) or separate menu. You can look out on the gardens and outdoor pool and read a choice of several national newspapers. I had the scrambled eggs from a local farm and had a hard time when I returned home buying store-bought eggs again—they were that tasty! For dinner, my hands-down favorite place to eat in Newport is The Black Pearl where we went Saturday night. “When I retire, I just want to be a barnacle on a barstool at the Black Pearl,” my husband told me. The outside bar sits directly on the water and the more formal dining room inside opens at 6pm. Go early and grab a table near a window and order either the scallops with lobster in puff pastry or the twin New England lobster tails and award-winning clam chowder. If you don’t feel like venturing out for dinner, there’s the Hotel Vanderbilt’s own Muse by Jonathan Cartwright open daily 6-9:30pm. Dress is tasteful (no sneakers or sports clothing) and it’s run by chef Jonathan Cartwright who is also the executive chef at sister hotel The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine.

Castle Hill Inn_Vanderbilt

During our boat cruise on the Rumrunner 2, we passed the Castle Hill Inn and decided we, too, wanted to sit in bright white Adirondack chairs on the mansion’s sprawling lawn and be served wine while looking out at the Atlantic. While we caught the beginning of the hot pink, tangerine and mauve sunset here, we followed its downward journey by hopping back in the car, driving to the Vanderbilt and having more wine on the rooftop bar. Be sure to ask for a blanket, as the breeze off the water can be chilly.

If I ever find myself with another bun in the oven, I am totally coming back to try the mummy-to-be special package:

- Two-nights deluxe accommodation
- Daily breakfast for two and herbal teas, fresh fruit, etc…
- Samples of APIVITA natural beauty products
- Pre-natal yoga in the morning
- Mommy-to-Be massage
- Butler draw bath per request
- Soft white blanket and a plush toy for baby

The starting price for the two-night package at low season is $800, mid-season is $950, high season is $1150 and peak season is $1290. The Vanderbilt Grace was totally worth it, and we had a great time!

Thanks to guest poster Kate Rockland, cool Connecticut mom of two sons and a cat, for this post! Kate is a former preschool teacher and editor for Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine and Us Weekly. You can find out more about Kate at her website: www.katerockland.com

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/17 at 01:58 PM
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Where’s Tommy? Exploring Washington DC!

Get ready for one of the most adventurous self-guided tours yet! Named a “Best Hotel in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler, The Jefferson DC hotel in Washington DC is offering an adventurous activity to get visitors out on a wholesome, happy, instructional history tour of the nation’s capitol.

Make sure to energize with a good breakfast before attending a short lesson on the city’s past with The Jefferson’s in-house, on-staff Washington historian. Afterwards, grab the kids and head out by foot or roll out on one of the bright red Capital Bike Share rentals and in the company of a Thomas Jefferson cut-out figure! You’ll be well on your way with a map full of destinations having a strong Jefferson connection. When you arrive at each location, document your presence by taking a picture of Tommy with your smart phone, and upload to Instagram with the handle @TheJeffersonDC and hashtag #WheresTommyDC. The fun lasts all day so the hotel will even pack up a Jefferson Mobile Meal to go with a Chef’s Choice Sandwich and all the tasty snacks you will need to keep your legs trekking across the city.

Those who complete all destinations and return to The Jefferson are rewarded with a seasonal treat and a Thomas Jefferson bobble-head commemorating their tour. And those who want to extend the adventure are now able to participate in the hotel’s new “Where’s Tommy on Vacation?” contest for a chance to win an overnight stay at The Jefferson, Sunday Supper for two in Quill or Brunch for two in Greenhouse! To view contest details, visit www.wherestommyonvacation.com.

The Where’s Tommy? Summer Package at The Jefferson, DC runs from June 1 – September 7, 2014 and, in addition to the fun tour gives 20% off their best available rate with the option of “Kids Rate” at 50% off second room (applicable for guests 12-18 years old).

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/13 at 08:30 AM
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Real-Life Disney Vacation Homes Your Kids Will Never Want to Leave!

The kids love the Disney movies, but what if you’re just over the hustle and bustle of visiting the parks? How about some real world movie sets come to life? Below we have five vacation spots that feel just like you’re stepping into your family’s favorite movie. Anyone can visit Disneyland, but not everyone can vacation at the real-life inspirations!

Frozen

First up—it has to be Frozen!
You’re probably over the soundtrack (or maybe not!) but, either way, you’ll be delighted to visit Ft. Lauderdale (just in case the cold does bother you) and stay in Elsa and Anna’s castle. With eight bedrooms and 10 baths, you can invite the entire extended family to stay. Hang out inside this gated, tropically-landscaped private estate and pretend it’s an eternal winter or go outside to the eight-person hot tub and pool to find out what happens to frozen things in summer!

Aurora

Don’t touch that spindle!
How about a visit to Aurora’s castle in Sleeping Beauty? This castle in Dollarberg, Scotland is a picture perfect fit. With only two bedrooms, the castle is a bit smaller than Anna and Elsa’s place, but the beautifully landscaped grounds and country setting will charm you for sure. The location is also convenient for the non-Disney history buff to visit Braveheart country (Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument & Bannockburn) and other historic sites.

Mulan

Girl power is strong here
This serene and peaceful getaway bears a striking resemblance to Fa Mulan’s home in Mulan. Possibly more appropriate for a romantic getaway without the kids this 1800sqft traditionally carved wood structure contains a luxurious master bedroom, master bath with indoor and outdoor showers, full gourmet kitchen, living and dining room areas, wrap around covered terraces, a large stone pool side terrace and its own infinity edged pool. You’ll find all the relaxation and peace you’ve been craving in this beautiful getaway!

Ariel

Prince Eric’s Castle
Who didn’t wish for a mermaid tail and a chance with Ariel’s Prince Eric? You still might not get that chance, but now you can at least stay in his home in Kalkan, Turkey. Another chance to invite the extended family, this tranquil location boasts five bedrooms and baths and sleeps 10 comfortably. With a private drive, secluded gardens and a huge pool, you’ll never want to leave!

Frog

The Princess and the Frog
Fancy a visit to New Orleans for those leisurely warm summer nights on the Bayou? Why not stay at the mansion of Tiana’s childhood friend, Charlotte, in the heart of the Garden District (the terrifying American Horror Story is also shot here)! The 20,000sqft residence has six bedrooms and 6.5 baths along with 48 monumental Ionic and Corinthian fluted cypress columns and a seemingly endless number of verandas, ornate cast-iron and floor to ceiling windows. The house is one of the finest examples of Southern ante-bellum architecture.

Didn’t see your favorite movie listed? There are actually even more Disney-inspired vacation spots from E! Travel and HomeAway!

photo credits: Walt Disney Studios, Homeaway.com, E!Online

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/10 at 03:17 PM
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Luxurious Cotswold Haunts – Dining in Style

Cotswolds

Fancy taking your own whistle-stop tour of the Cotswolds? Kids love to try new places and foods? This dashing destination is home to a number of excellent boutique hotels, elegant shopping destinations (like the spa town of Cheltenham) and excellent eateries. Here’s a look at local favorite luxury dining venues.

Slaughter Inn Cotswolds

The Slaughters Country Inn, Lower Slaughter
The Upper and Lower Slaughter villages are the epitome of Cotswold beauty, so a stop at the Slaughters Country Inn is bound to appeal to those who want to settle in the most picturesque country setting. This classy venue combines old and new in a mix of traditional and contemporary stylish features and elegant yet unstuffy setting. It’s luxury pub dining at its best! Their menu goes with the season so expect fresh salads on the Inn’s terrace come summer or a hearty pie and mash come autumn-winter.

Buckland Manor Cotswolds

Buckland Manor, Near Broadway
Connoisseur of food and wine? Then make sure you head to Buckland Manor, a Cotswold highlight for those interested in award-winning cuisine! This venue has quite the reputation for its seasonal ingredients, local produce and delicious dishes served up by head chef Will Gutherie. Located in an ideal setting, the manor has its own herb garden for the freshest fragrances and a brilliant wine cellar for the finest selection of vino.

The Feathers Cotswolds

The Feathers, Woodstock
Based near the gates of Blenheim Palace, the Feathers is a hotel and restaurant in Woodstock. A truly chic venue for a sophisticated evening meal where classic English dishes are on the menu. The restaurant here is casual yet upmarket, but you’re also welcome to dine in the more laidback setting of the bar or the delightful courtyard garden. And, if you fancy a drink after the kids go to bed, their Courtyard Gin Bar holds the Guinness World Record (TM) for serving the greatest number of gin varieties—181 and counting!

The Village Pub, Barnsley
The simple name of this fashionable take on a traditional pub may suggest it’s lacking in superfluity, yet the list of frequent celebrity diners would suggest otherwise. This Cotswold gem is known to be a favorite of Kate Moss, Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant to name a few. Enjoy the elegant surroundings as you dine on fine country fare with a distinctively high-end twist. Here, you’re likely to snack on quail eggs or feast on local venison.

Made by Bob Cotswolds

Made by Bob, Cirencester
For a touch of the refined at lunchtime, visit the bustling and sophisticated café ‘Made by Bob’ based in the center of Cirencester town. This busy deli and café within Corn Hall is run by food hero Bob Parkison (ex-head chef of Bibendum.) Expect modern cuisine that mixes British and European flavors with quality produce and faultless presentation—a refreshing stop for an exceptional light bite.

The Daffodil Cotswolds

The Daffodil, Cheltenham
If you’re staying in the Cotswold ‘capital’ of Cheltenham, a regency spa town with a flourishing cultural reputation, a stop at The Daffodil will not disappoint. This unique restaurant is located in the town’s first picture palace built in 1922. Alongside the beautiful art deco setting, you can expect rich and dramatic dishes, an excellent wine menu and, on some evenings, the addition of live jazz.
 
If you’re interested in visiting any or all of these venues during your stay in the Cotswolds, we suggest using a travel planning tool like Amadeus.net to organize your vacation and share with friends. If you’ve visited any of these places already, let us know in the comments below! If you haven’t yet, which will you try?

photo credit: W. Lloyd MacKenzie via Flickr

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/06 at 01:37 PM
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Beyond the Pubs and Resorts: Benidorm Luxury

Skyline Benidorm

When you think of Benidorm, chances are you think of all-inclusive accommodation, English pub grub and karaoke, but there’s a whole other side to this Costa Brava destination that’s all about luxury and style! This week we’re featuring just a few of the ways you can tap into this popular Spanish destination’s finer charms while you’re on your holidays to Benidorm:

Costa Brava Spain

Charter a Yacht
The Costa Brava is renowned for its coastline and beaches with mountains, secluded bays and crystal clear waters. To experience it in style, charter a yacht or private boat and head out into the Mediterranean. A number of companies in Benidorm offer this type of trip complete with an experienced skipper. This gives you and the family the opportunity to sunbathe, dine and enjoy the views as you sail around the coast.

Enjoy Top-Notch Cuisine
Benidorm might be best known for its “best of British” cuisine, but head away from the English pubs, and you’ll find a range of local and luxury offerings that are a treat for the taste buds. For starters, there’s loads of fresh fish! Lobster, clams, monkfish and squid are all local specialties with fresh catch dominating the menus in many of the town’s best restaurants. Head to the Playa de Poniente district for stylish, upmarket eateries and indulge in some of Alicante’s classic dishes. We recommend the top-notch offerings at Ulia and Barranco Playa! For lunch and snacks, head to the authentic eateries along Tapas Alley and enjoy the seasonal local flavors.

Santa Barbara Castle Spain

Book a Private Tour
There’s plenty to see in the region around Benidorm, so enjoy the highlights on a private guided tour to hilltop villages like Guadalest. Benidorm is only a forty-minute drive from Alicante through some amazing mountain scenery, and when you arrive a stylish seaport with charming attractions will be waiting to welcome you. Don’t forget to visit Alicante’s sixteenth-century castle and collection of fine museums!

With fine dining and private tours to help you enjoy the very best of Spanish luxury and style, Benidorm certainly has more to it than meets the eye!

photo credit: Alemanito via Wikimedia Commons
photo credit: Gabriele Delhey via Wikimedia Commons
photo credit: Gabirulo via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/03 at 09:10 AM
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Tokyo Brings the Culture and Fun to Vacation Time!

Jessican Alba and Family at Tokyo Disneyland

Looking for an opportunity to visit another country this summer? There are lots of celebrities visiting Tokyo, from Jessica Alba to Justin Bieber, and we hear it’s the place to be! Between the top-notch service, the superb shopping opportunities and the incredible culture, you won’t be disappointed!

Tokyo Hyatt

Where to Stay
We love the Park Hyatt Tokyo! Featured in the movie Lost in Translation, the hotel offers nothing less than 5-star services and amenities including plasma televisions and spectacular views of Tokyo. In addition to featuring a variety of dining options—including the New York Grill and New York Bar—Park Hyatt Tokyo offers wonderful spa treatments at its Club On The Park spa. The on-call concierge team will set up activities in Tokyo for you and the family. Kids will love going to a local Kabuki theater and attending a Sumo Tournament!

Tokyo DisneySea

What to Do
You definitely don’t want to miss out on the amazing cultural experience of Japan, but it’s also a lot of fun to visit Tokyo Disneyland!  Tokyo Disneyland features many of the same rides as other Disney Resorts (including FastPass!), but also great Japanese-only touches like Cinderella’s Castle and DisneySea.

Himeji Castle

To truly get out and experience the Japanese culture, it’s easy to leave Tokyo using their amazing public transportation system. For example, Himeji Castle (pictured above) is a Japanese castle from the feudal period and is the best surviving example of this type of architecture.

Of course, shopping is a main attraction in Tokyo. There are several high-end shopping districts, for fashion, technology and dining. When visiting Tokyo, you and the kids will definitely never run out of things to do!

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/30 at 11:51 AM
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Kids Love Fiji!

Serenity Pool in Fiji

If you’ve been looking for the pinnacle of kid-friendly summer vacations, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji is it. This all-inclusive family-friendly property boasts innovative and exciting kids activities, in addition to luxury accommodations.

Kids Doing Marine Biology in Fiji

Something New To Do Every Day!
The award-winning Bula Club features a daily program of children’s resort activities that are fun, educational and cultural. Bula Club offers two levels of activities to meet the differing needs and competencies of toddlers, children and adolescents. The Lei Lei Bula Club Program is for children 0 to 5 years old. Each child is designated a nanny (at a ratio of 1:1) for the duration of their stay—at no extra charge! The Marau Bula Club Program, for kids ages 6 to 12, gives young guests the opportunity to enjoy rock pool exploration, hiking, glass-bottom boat excursions, swimming and more. The resort’s dedicated marine biologist, Johnny Singh, guides Bula Club exploratory outings providing a delightful educational experience. The special club dining area offers a fresh, healthy, tasty children’s menu prepared on-site to order. Parents are welcome and encouraged to participate, too!

The Next Junior Master Chef
For children whose curiosities lean more towards the kitchen than the sandbox, the resort offers a “Chef’s Junior Assistant” experience. Kids aged 6 to 12 have the opportunity to help create a meal from start to finish. They sign up for the program ahead of time and get to suggest a meal that could end up on that day’s menu. The Junior Assistants—equipped with a chef’s jacket and hat—receive a kitchen briefing on safety and hygiene, take a tour of the organic garden with the Chef to hand-pick herbs and garnishes and assist the Chef with final preparations, plating and serving of the meal to the Bula Club. The program is offered every day to one or two kids per meal period, typically for lunch.

Kids Jumping off Pier in Fiji

Cultural Activities for Teens
The resort also has a Teens Program that is less structured than the Bula Club program. The Teens Program allows for greater flexibility for them to participate in the daily schedule of activities with the adults, as well as having a series of activities specifically tailored to their age group. Activities include:
• Scuba diving orientation in the Serenity pool;
• A snorkeling trip to dive site called “Shark Alley;”
• Coral planting with Johnny;
• Volleyball lessons;
• Fijian language lessons;
• A walk to the local village where they can try spearfishing, farming and spend some time interacting with the teens in the village;
• A trip to the mangroves for mangrove planting;
• A bonfire on the beach with guitar playing and singing;
• A medicine walk to learn about the Fijian’s medicinal uses of plants around the resort;
• A rainforest hike to a waterfall and rubber tube down the river;
• Land Crab trap making and catching of land crabs;
• Bamboo raft making and sailing; and
• Hand line fishing.

In addition to these unique amenities, the resort has just built a beautiful new treehouse for the enjoyment of its young guests.

Romantic Dinner Fiji

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort offers an exquisite and safe retreat for families traveling to Fiji—an unforgettable experience derived from the natural beauty of the island and the warmth of the staff.

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/27 at 11:30 AM
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Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa

Sanctuary Camelback

This winter sucked. Like for real. And even though spring has sprung, it’s still pretty cold in a lot of places around the nation. Lately, my thoughts have been turning back to our incredible three night stay at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The resort is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Camelback Mountains—red and rugged. Totally what you think of when you think of the southwest. With 105 casitas and six private estate homes on the property, it’s huge, so expect to be whisked away by golf cart to your room and around the resort.

Sanctuary Camelback Casita

Each casita (Spanish for cool little bungalow) is situated amongst lush landscaping. Bay windows (that actually open and let in the sweet smell of blooming cactus flowers) show off the view of Paradise Valley and let in a natural light that almost makes you think you’re in the comfort of your own home. You actually feel one with nature, while not having to be exposed to the elements.

Sanctuary Camelback View

There’s plenty to do onsite—spa treatments, meditations, Pilates and yoga classes, tasting menu dinners and more. But their concierge can point you in the way of other activities special suited for families like renting bikes and heading out on the local trail, taking a nature hike or even shopping in downtown Scottsdale. And if you’re in need of a date night, they can help you track down local sitters in a pinch.

Make a mental note for next year if you have baseball-loving family members because spring training happens within the city. If you stay at this resort, you’ve got a great home base where you can be pampered in between games.

The restaurant serves up five-star quality grub from Food Network star Beau MacMillan. If you want to order something off menu for the kids, feel free. These guys go above and beyond to make your stay comfortable.

Sunday Brunch is a must, and if you start on the early side, you’ll be able to enjoy the calm before the storm. We chowed down on Old Bay poached shrimp, smoked salmon and ranchero burritos. The kids loved the chocolate chip pumpkin pancakes, because who wouldn’t?

Sanctuary Camelback Poolside

Totally suggest snagging a private cabana poolside (did I mention it’s an infinity pool) and having someone bring the food and drinks to you. After all, that’s what vacations are for.

If you want to add to your relaxation, you can take a walk down to the hotel’s spa for any number of treatments. You can even book a private aqua therapy session. Totally awesome for people who have sore backs from picking up little kids All.Day.Long. Parents, who’s with me? Combine that with an ultra-pampering manipedi, and you’ve got pure bliss.

Overall, this place rocks as a quick and easy family getaway with a scenic backdrop that is to die for.

Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based parenting and travel writer. Follow her @cmf2009.

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/23 at 07:30 AM
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Destination: Family Escape

We’ve got the solution to finding a place to escape with the fam! As part of Destination Hotels & Resorts’ mission to create authentic experiences that are indigenous to each property’s location, they’ve launched Destination Family Escapes, a series of family-friendly curated itineraries. Destination Hotels & Resorts guests can supplement their mountain retreats, beach getaways and urban escapes with active journeys designed to educate and inspire. As the largest collection of independent hotels and resorts in the country, Destination Family Escapes’ all-encompassing experiences provide unforgettable vacations suitable for every family. Here are a few adventures you’ll be sure to love!

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Lansdowne Resort
Treat your family to a Northern Virginia adventure at Lansdowne Resort with the Land & Space Family Escape Package. Explore 500 acres and search for trinkets in a fun geocaching treasure hunt! Then prepare the blast off to the nearby Air & Space Museum to see some of the greatest flying machines of all time—including the amazing Space Shuttle Discovery.

photo_gallery_photo_gallery_img_4294_edited_1

Stowe Mountain Lodge
This four-season resort boasts the tranquility of New England and enviable access to Stowe Mountain Resort ski area, as well as the charming village of Stowe. Get Out and Go offers families two-night accommodations, a rustic furniture-making class, a guided family hike or snowshoe adventure, dinner at the sophisticated-yet-laid-back Hourglass Lounge and a classic welcome of milk and cookies.

Always Find Yourself Needing More Hotel Time?
This resort group offers an additional perk called Destination Delivers—a unique loyalty club catering to Destination Hotels & Resorts guests’ individual lifestyles featuring exclusive members-only offers, discounted rates and VIP treatment collection-wide. Perks include 10% off the best available rate, complimentary room upgrade or late check-out VIP status. And every family knows how valuable late check-out can be!

Want to see the other Destination Family Escapes or to view packages from other distinctive hotels and resorts? Visit their website to learn more.

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/20 at 07:00 AM
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Saying Hello!

We know our Posh Blog readers want to get the most out of their travels and experience the place they are visiting to the fullest extent. A good place to start is by saying hello in the native language! With that in mind, we found this great infographic showing 21 Ways to Say Hello to help you on your way. From France to China to Brazil—and even Croatia—you’ll be able to take the first step to getting to know your hosts!

21 Ways to Say Hello

Courtesy LivingLanguage.com

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/16 at 10:52 AM
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Pinterest Place Boards: A New Way to Pin Down a Great Family Vacation

Need some travel inspiration for the upcoming summer family trip?

Put aside the dog-eared travel guides, and check out Pinterest! It’s not just for collecting ideas for weddings and dinner parties anymore. They’ve recently unveiled Place Pins—a valuable tool for planning posh summer vacations—or any sort of luxury getaway.

Click a Place Pin and up comes additional details, including location and contact information, to go along with the sort of photos that will have you itching to book that perfect trip or rent that vacation dream house.

Since November 2013, Pinterest users have created more than three million Place Boards making it a cinch to find tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels, and we’ve collected some of the highlights for you! To access the board, just click the pin below! Users crafting some great luxury travel plans have shared their:

Summer vacation ideas:

Lake House on Pinterest

Ideas for doing Europe in style:

House in France from Pinterest

or simply collected pins of their top hotels for families:

Slide in Maui from Pinterest

Travelers have always tapped like-minded others for ideas. Now, Pinterest has given us a visually fun, easy way that beats collecting a bunch of URLs or jotting down a list of destinations and vacation ideas. Give it a try! Make some of your own Place Boards to reference and share and post below so we can all see!

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/13 at 12:11 PM
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Three Luxury Mediterranean Resort Gems for the Family

Fancy yourself a spot of Mediterranean sunshine? With hundreds of glorious luxury hotels and villas to choose from across the Med, you might be overwhelmed when looking for a vacation spot. Today we’re featuring three locations that have been highly rated for their family-friendly design and exceptional high-class facilities—an ideal combination for a posh family break!

Porto Elounda

Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort, Crete

Don’t let the adult-friendly name fool you, Porto Elounda has much to offer in addition to the exceptional golf and spa facilities. This seaside haven ensures families feel extremely welcome with interconnecting rooms a-plenty indoors and waterslides outside. The hotel has a Kid’s Ark club and crèche facility with both indoor and outdoor play areas and two fully-supervised shallow paddling pools. The club has an animal-theme and typical activities to keep the little ones entertained including baking, treasure hunts, circus acts, mask making and mini Olympic games. There are evening events for children scheduled twice weekly.

If picturesque relaxation is what you’re after, you’re heading to the right place. There’s a pool nearby the beach, and the sheltered bay is great for children to paddle. There are several dining options on location, from Greek to Italian to French, and weekly theme nights with music and dancers. You can even have a private dining experience in your room!

Anassa Spa

Anassa, Cyprus

When you want a luxurious holiday break with the family, you don’t need to sacrifice photogenic landscapes and sophisticated style in favor of brilliant childcare facilities—at Anassa, they have it all. The hotel is stunning, with whitewashed villa rooms, elegant swimming pools and striking waterfalls, but the children’s club is equally engaging. It features different clubs for different ages, including the Escape Club for teens and the Baby Go Lightly crèche. The hotel can provide everything you need for keeping youngsters occupied yourself, with books, crayons, games and puzzles for purchase. Strollers and other baby essentials are available to borrow.

For the adults, the Anassa in Cyprus has everything you’d expect from a luxury resort! Their Thalassa Spa is the height of relaxation, and their other facilities include squash and tennis courts, gym and four exceptional restaurants with international and local dishes on the menu, four bars and a lounge with wood burning fires.

Resort Spa Le Dune Restaurant

Resort & Spa Le Dune, Sardinia

Another superbly equipped resort for families is the Resort & Spa Le Dune on the magnificent Italian island of Sardinia. Le Dune is made up for five hotels in all—giving you plenty of facilities and options. There are extensive grounds overlooking the Badesi Marina coast, framed by sandy dunes and beaches that stretch around 8km to Isola Rossa.

Children will enjoy two dedicated kid’s swimming pools, a huge children’s playground and the Duneland Castle. The play center has a film screening area, a restaurant, workshop areas, play space and even a nursery area for toddlers and baby to nap or have their bottles. For children that enjoy the great outdoors, they can tend to veg in the organic garden or collect eggs from the resort’s hens.

The resort has 10 restaurants in all, including the children’s ‘Peter Pan’ eatery and two others particularly recommended for families: Le Palme and I Ginepri. At Dune Point, you’ll find other activities for all the family from shops and an amusement arcade to the dive centre! There’s plenty to do.

These are definitely resorts you’ll want to check out as possible holiday destinations, so why not add them to a travel planner like Amadeus.net, and ask your parenting friends which resort they’d like most?

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/09 at 01:22 PM
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Keeping Up with the Holidays (While You’re on Holiday)

Person sitting on beach

A nice, long holiday can make it easy to get so wrapped up in the moment that you…well…forget about the holidays!

There was so much planning going into your vacation, and you’ve booked the time solid with fun and adventure, but back home things are still going at normal speed. Even when you’re out and about there are certain holidays you wouldn’t want to miss (Mother’s Day, anyone?).

This article is a little unconventional when it comes to travel tips, but I think these are worth noting. Here are some ways you can “keep up” with the holidays…even when you’re on a holiday.

Keeping Up Calendar

Always Set those Reminders
You could be an absolute genius when it comes to making your travel plans but a complete ditz when you need to schedule out the little things. I blame it on the fact that we have Facebook letting us know when holidays are coming about—which lets us forget about them until the last moment.

Instead, get proactive with the scheduling:

- Use Google Calendar to keep track of your travel time and if a holiday falls on one of the dates that you’ll be away.
- Send predated emails to be delivered on specific days to work as reminders.
- Get a trustworthy friend to send you a text reminder in the even you haven’t got back to them about plans and the big events.

There are lots of tools for handling reminders.

Keeping Up Flowers

Do the Gift Thing, Online
Giving a gift to someone, in person, is the best since it’s more personal, but when you’re out and about there’s not much you can do if someone is far off in another land. Thank goodness for online shopping, am I right?

For example—this Mother’s Day you can show your appreciation by sending off a bouquet of flowers. When you could order online, the shop handles the arrangements, and you don’t have to feel sorry that you left mum without a gift on her special holiday.

Some services will even send you reminders should you be the type of person who forgets important dates. Set them up to remind you when to order gifts and to whom. This will get rid of the stress of keeping up with the holidays—especially the gift giving kind.

Keeping Up Carnaval

Out with the Old; In with the New
Whisking off to an exotic location isn’t just about the beauty and the food. Don’t forget there is a lot of culture to be found in the world, and this goes doubly true for the holidays the locals celebrate. Next time you’re on vacation, consider skipping over the one you’d do back home in place of one that’s going on in your area. Take a look at what holidays happen around the world. You could even cater your vacation around them (Carnival in Brazil, anyone?).

Attend an Event, Virtually
Can’t be there physically? There are lots of great tools for doing online video like Skype or FaceTime (on iOS devices). If you know someone that has a tablet you could ask them to set up one of these services, put it on the table, and let you “attend” the celebration—even when you’re way off in another country. Just make sure you have a good internet connection for your devices otherwise the video will be choppy, but even then…it’s better than not being there at all!

Keeping Up Plane

Surprise ‘Em by Bringin’ ‘Em Out
This isn’t for those on budget travel, but since we are on a site about posh lifestyle I might as well add the suggestion of bringing people to you for the holiday. Wouldn’t it be an awesome surprise if you flew a friend out for your birthday (or theirs)? What if you brought the whole family out with one big surprise announcement? Vacations are nice, but they’re even better when they’re around the loved ones.

Your turn. How do you keep up with the holidays when you’re off in exotic locations trying to get away from everyday life?

Thanks to guest blogger Sara Stringer for this travel tips post!

photo credit: Jjarivera via Wikimedia Commons cc
photo credit: Andreanna Moya Photography via Flickr cc
photo credit: Lisa Brewster via Flickr cc
photo credit: jikatu via Flickr cc
photo credit: Kitty Terwolbeck via Flickr cc

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/06 at 01:14 PM
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Vacationing at the Spooky Stanley Hotel

Spooky Stanley Hotel

There are many hotels across the globe, each with its own charm, but one of the most noteworthy is in Estes Park, Colorado. Made popular for inspiring Stephen King to write “The Shining,” The Stanley Hotel is an entertaining experience for adults and kids alike. What makes this historical landmark such an attraction for kids?

Ghost Hunts and Tours
The Stanley Hotel is well known for its alleged paranormal activity, so, of course, there are special packages available to help your kids search the hotel for evidence of spirits. With the Ghost Adventure package, not only are you guaranteed a room on the spooky fourth floor, but each reservation receives an EMF meter to hunt ghosts! Kids love the idea of “ghost hunting” with these “proper tools,” and it’s fun whether you believe in the phenomenon or not. Each guest also receives a glow-in-the-dark foam ghost and a REDRUM coffee mug. Other fun extras can be found in the gift shop!

Spooky Stanley Butterflies

The Butterfly Encounter
In spring and summer, volunteers from Estes Park High School devote their time to caring for a large number of Monarch and Painted Lady butterflies. The butterflies are released weekly into the wild to help repopulate the dwindling Monarch Butterfly population. It can be an awe-inspiring sight to see hundreds of butterflies take flight as each explores its own existence. Visitors are right in the middle of the action, and kids love it!

Kid-Friendly Environment
Although the sheer elegance of the hotel will make most parents cringe when their kids run up and down the hallways, the Stanley welcomes all visitors regardless of age. In fact, it’s not just kids wandering around, because the hotel’s paranormal reputation tempts everyone to explore. No matter when you look, you’ll find guests searching for evidence of the supernatural!

Tours
There are several tours leaving from the Stanley exploring historic Estes Park and the surrounding Rocky Mountains. For one fun adventure, kids dress up in pint-sized fire gear and ride around in a restored old-time fire engine. They’ll be having so much fun experiencing the beauty of Estes Park and the gorgeous mountainous terrain, they won’t even realize they’re learning!

Fun City!
You can’t miss going to a place called Fun City! Luckily, The Stanley Hotel is just a short drive away from the Estes Park Fun City. Whether your kids love playing miniature golf, driving go-karts or enjoying paddling boats around, there is family entertainment for everyone at this local establishment!

Spooky Stanley Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is only a short distance from The Stanley Hotel. Regular guided tours showcase Colorado’s natural beauty, or you can strap on a backpack and explore the mountains as a family. Educational adventure tours are popular for kids who enjoy learning about life in the mountains.

Aside from fascinating history and deep beauty of the Estes Park area, the ambiance of the hotel will make you feel like you stepped into a completely different era where you can truly experience a luxurious vacation. You’ll enjoy fine dining at the three restaurants on location. The Cascades Restaurant is a wonderful steakhouse featuring fresh and innovative dishes with a local flair and focus on sustainable ingredients whereas the The Whiskey Bar offers an historic cocktail menu and Colorado’s largest selection of whiskeys and single-malt scotches. Steamer’s Cafe serves lovely fresh pastries, gelato and sandwiches. No matter what you’re craving, you’ll find it here!

Spooky Stanley Lodge Suite

Both condos and rooms in the lodge (where dogs are welcome!) are available. All accomodations feature comfortable furnishings and inviting seating areas, 42” flat screen televisions, complimentary wireless internet and pillow-top mattresses.

Ken Myers is a father, husband and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience building a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

Rocky Mountains photo credit: jbkalla via photopin cc

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/02 at 12:00 PM
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Magna Carta: Downton Abbey Classic Cruise

downton-abbey1

Do you find yourself watching the hit PBS drama Downton Abbey and dreaming of walking the halls of the iconic Grantham manor? Think you could never see the inside of the castle outside of television? The European charter vessel company Magna Carta offers travelers the opportunity to do just that with a tour of Highclere Castle, the show’s real-life filming location, as well as a peek into some of England’s most historic landmarks during a luxurious seven-day cruise. Beginning with English Cream Tea at the legendary Stafford Hotel in London, the tour includes stops at Windsor Castle, Christ Church in Oxford and, of course, “Downton Abbey.”

Highclere Castle

Julian Fellowes, creator and executive producer of the television show Downton Abbey, drew his inspiration from Highclere Castle and the Carnarvon family who has lived there for centuries. Set on 1,000 acres of sprawling parkland, the classic Victorian castle is the main filming location for the show. Guests receive a tour of the castle and learn firsthand about its vibrant role in English history. For instance, the castle was in fact converted into a hospital during World War I as depicted during the series!

Magna Carta Cabin

While traveling with the Magna Carta crew, service onboard your floating, luxury hotel will be second to none. Each cruise is limited to eight guests in order to provide the maximum in terms of service and space. The end results are cabins averaging 200 sqft with king-sized beds and extra spacious en-suite facilities. The saloon and sun decks are much larger than expected and give guests the space to really relax and unwind. In addition to the captain, the staff consists of a master chef, a hostess and a deck hand. The cuisine and service are quite simply exquisite!

Saloon image March 2014 reduced

The all-inclusive, weeklong cruise is priced at $5,180 per person and is available for select departures on Sundays in May and August. Advance reservations are suggested for spa treatments. For booking inquiries, contact Dominic Read at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 011 44 7836 551912.

Posted by Elizabeth on 04/28 at 11:27 PM
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