You know when a volcano goes off somewhere in the world my first instinct is always to pack. I love the spectacular show of flame and fireworks put on by mother nature. I know it’s dangerous, but there’s a secret vulcanologist inside me just dying for a front row seat. When I read that Tungurahua, the most active strato volcano in Ecuador is active again I thought, “Time to head for Banos.” It is a small spa town that lies at the foot of the volcano. Go rapelling, take a jungle tour, you can even bungee jump here. It’s an adrenaline junkies paradise. And the volcanic spa at Luna Runtun (right) is as stunning as the the volcanic eruptions.
If you’re in the U.S. like I am you’ve spent the past week obsessing about food, preparing food and eating food. More than you’d ever imagined. So how to follow that up? Well a nap is a great suggestion, but I thought why not take a farm vacation and find out how your food really lives. Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont is just $98 a night. You can kick back and relax, indulge in hearty homecooked meals or wander out to the barn and learn how to milk a cow. This is a working dairy farm. If you’ve ever been curious about your food or wanted to teach the kids something new, this is a great opportunity to learn.
We’re approaching that most magical time of the year, the travel lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Flights are less full, TSA lines are shorter, and hotels are offering specials to lure you away from your home fires. It’s the perfect time of year to plan a ski vacation. The snow is crisp and new and the apres ski at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is some of the best you’ll find. Think you recognize it? I’m not surprised, The Stanley was featured in The Shining. It is an old world, historical hotel that will take you back to a bygone era. Enjoy the view through floor to ceiling arched windows, relax and read in your stylish room or indulge yourself in their elegant spa. Their mid-week bed and breakfast package starts at just $189 per night.
The Ventana Inn & Spa has been on my splurge list for many years. It is the jewel of Big Sur, famed for it’s stunning views, celebrity guests, luxurious spa and tranquil natural setting. Ventana is Spanish for window so both the rooms and the restaurant have decks overlooking the Pacific and windows with panoramic views.
Rates normally start at $500 per night, which is a bit rich for my blood. However, for a short time they are running a promotion. Stay between 11/10 and 12/25/2010 and you can score a room for $300 a night. That’s $200 off! If you’re looking for a way to treat yourself this holiday season, a trip to the Central Coast just can’t be beat.
I found a package for you this week that will not only make you feel good, it will also allow you to do good. The Four Seasons Austin on beautiful Lady Bird lake is offering a Pay it Forward package. For just $225 a night you’ll get a city view room. That’s normally a $440 a night proposition. You earn your discount by giving back. What that means is 3 hours volunteering at either the Austin Food Bank or Keep Austin Beautiful. Knowing what great people and community exist in Austin, I think this is a first class choice for a voluntourism vacation.
Exotic isn’ t it? Would you believe that this stunning palace is actually a tasting room and visitor’s center? It’s true. I was stunned to learn that Darioush (above), is located on the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley. It is home to some of the most over the top tasting experiences to be had in the Valley. Try the Fine Wines and Artisan Cheeses tasting which features the work of Cowgirl Creamery, the Portfolio Tasting or if you really want to indulge choose the Quintessential Experience described by the winery as:
Crafted for a connoisseur by a connoisseur, and is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore and indulge in the world’s most celebrated wines.
Just be sure you leave time after your tour to walk the grounds. The architecture looks amazing.
Well if you’re in a spooky Halloween mood, and are a fan of Edvard Munch then D.C. is the perfect destination for you this week. The National Gallery of Art is host to an exhibit entitled “Edvard Munch: Master Prints“. It’s a study of how he worked and re-worked certain themes in his art over the course of a lifetime. No passes are required, so you can just stop in and see the Scream and many other masterworks as well.
Craving a cosmpolitan weekend away from yard work, homework and just plain old work? Well New York is calling and they have a new hot spot. The rooftop bar at the luxe James Hotel (left) is staying open this Fall. No turning of leaves and dropping of temperatures will stop the good times here. They’ve glassed in part of their rooftop and libations are flowing. It’s a gorgeous building and their aesthetic suits me to a T. Join Perks by James before your stay and you’ll have free wi-fi too!
October is all about food. Here in the U.S. we have festivals celebrating everything from apples to pumpkins. In Europe, however, it’s truffle hunting season. There’s no more lovely place to forage for fungi than the Istrian region of Croatia. Home to the sought after white truffle, it also boasts an extensive wine industry, olive oil producers and savory local cuisine. It’s a gourmand’s dream. Stay at the charming, old world Hotel Kastel (above). They offer incredibly indulgent 3 and 4 day truffle packages.
There’s something about Fall that always has me longing to be on a fine Country estate. Powerscourt in County Wicklow is a gem in the Ritz Carlton hotels crown. Located just outside of Dublin this estate will remind you of Versailles with it’s rolling green lawns, beautiful sculpture and flowering hedges. They have 200 rooms, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, and a stunning ESPA spa with 20 treatment rooms. It’s the ultimate in relaxation. Not for you? If you’re more active ask for the bike concierge and check out a couple of complimentary bikes to explore grounds.