Archive for January, 2010

Botanical Flower Painting Classes

For all of you established and aspiring artistes… this just in!

Orient-Express Hotels has announced two new 2010 programs for its popular Botanical and Flower Painting Classes at Reid’s Palace, on the island of Madeira, Portugal, and The Inn at Perry Cabin on Maryland’s eastern shore, both well-known for their lush gardens and beautiful surrounding scenery.

The Botanical and Flower Painting Class at Reid’s Palace (April 27 – May 1, 2010), will be taught by Siriol Sherlock, who has mastered the skill of watercolor to perfection, creating superb plant portraits that are both fluid and accurate.

Reid’s Palace has also launched a Designing with Plants Master Class (April 21-24, 2010) where guests can learn how to create imaginative garden borders by combining plants for structure, form and color.  The aim of the four-day master class is to help participants create and draw an individual planting plan with memorable, lasting groupings suited to personal preferences and location.

Epitomizing the spirit of travel, from the heyday of luxury, style and adventure, Reid’s Palace first opened in 1891 by William and Alfred Reid to accommodate passengers of the great ocean liners. Now, it stands for contemporary luxury and elegance perched on a cliff-top amid 10 acres of semi-tropical gardens on the exotic, temperate island of Madeira.

The price is €560 (approx. USD$843.00*) per person (excluding accommodations), and includes painting classes for five days, airport transfers, breakfast and lunch daily, a farewell dinner, a visit to the Arcos St. Jorge Rose Garden, a levada walk and a morning tour to Monte Gardens with cable car ride.

Accommodations start from €240 (approx. USD$361.00*)/per room per night.

The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Maryland, will also be hosting a Botanical & Flower Painting Class (May 9-15, 2010), which will be led by Carol Woodin, one of the most renowned botanical artists working in the United States. Carol specializes in painting orchids and has won major awards both in the U.S. and the UK.

The Inn at Perry Cabin is an elegant circa 1816 waterfront property located on 25 acres overlooking the Miles River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.  The hotel is a short stroll from the history-steeped town of St. Michaels, Maryland and an easy one hour drive from either Baltimore or Washington, DC.  It has 80 guest rooms, each individually decorated in either a traditional style indicative of the historic section of the Inn, or in a style that evokes the contemporary Maryland seaside with a mixture of modern and period furniture and a palate of taupes, soft blues and ivories.

The price of the Inn’s Botanical & Flower Painting Class starts from USD$3,622.00, which includes six night’s accommodation, painting classes, a welcome cocktail and dinner with Carol Woodin, breakfast and lunch daily, one Botanical Complex Facial in the Linden Spa, afternoon tea, a ticket to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, an evening sunset cruise and a farewell dinner.

Recycled Jeans?!

While perusing the ‘treats from the suites’ during the Golden Globes Gift Lounges, LA-based Eco-Adventurer Contributor, Candace Poole, came across a brand of jeans that made our eyes light up. We seem to be denim obsessed these days…

Reuse Jeans are not only beautiful, but they’re made from 80% recycled denim!

The point is they’re well made and we think necessary in these days of conscious consumption.  They are sustainable and attainable, leaving a smaller carbon footprint on their way to our closets, and not nearly as expensive as they look. Young, hip Hollywood is behind this product and, we must admit, so are we.

With the increasing pressure for goods at cheapest prices possible, this company has given deep thought as to what it means to consider the planet.  On every level REUSE JEANS cares about a complete cycle of the process and is committed to bringing us a most excellent CLEAN JEAN.  So we say… travel well, be smart and belong to the ever increasing demand for thoughtful manufacturing processes for the sake of Mother Earth.

Retails @ $95/each

Maui, Hawaii: SwellGirls Surf & Yoga Camp

Who isn’t looking for a Swell Experience? A surf and yoga camp in Maui with on location concierge happy to help you find the activities that suit you… what’s not to love? If all you want to do is lounge around on beautiful beaches, then they’ll point you to Hawaii’s best beaches. If you want to fill your time on the island with unique Hawaiian activities like hula dancing or lei making, then they’ll make sure you find the right activities to suit your needs.

This one-of-a-kind women’s surf camp and yoga wellness retreat in Maui, Hawaii is, as they say, “Designed for women who seek the thrill of adventure, the reward of accomplishment, and the fellowship and encouragement of new friends.” Surf packages are for women of all ages and surfing abilities who are seeking to learn, discover new adventures and have fun. Established in 2003, SwellWomen creates memorable surf vacations for women from all over the world with every detail taken care of.

Accommodations are set amidst 27 tropical acres along a secluded half-mile stretch of the famous Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui. You will be treated to luxurious guestrooms and five-star service thats celebrate the artistry, environment and culture of Hawaii.

The Surf Experience
Surf instruction occurs both in the water and on the land. You will gain confidence in learning how to surf, understand and practice surf etiquette and see how surfing is a metaphor for achieving your personal goals. Surf instructors come from the most popular surf school on Maui, Maui Surfer Girls, among the best in the nation and have current American Red Cross First-Aid and CPR training. Each instructor has at least eight years of surfing background and a minimum of five years of surf instruction expertise. You will be provided with a variety of surfboards including soft tops and custom-shaped performance surfboards to enjoy on Maui’s gentle waves.

With many surf breaks to choose from on Maui’s west side, both never-ever surfers and intermediate surfers are sure to enjoy their morning and late afternoon surf adventures. Expect rolling waves to greet you each morning and glassy waves to end a perfect day.

The Wellness Experience
The Yoga and Wellness Experience is an important part of your SwellWomen surf vacation. What better place to tune into your well-being and experience positive benefits than on the magical island of Maui. Guests leave our surf and wellness retreats not only feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired. It begins with rolling out your yoga mat and experiencing the 6,000 year old practice of yoga. Next, get ready to be pampered by one of our licensed massage therapist with options for additional spa services throughout the week. The wellness portion of your Hawaii retreat doesn’t stop at yoga and massages it extends into nourishment for the body. Guests are also provided delicious and healthy food prepared by a qualified professional chef who cooks with love offering a menu that is an eclectic selection of the freshest seafood, meats and mostly organic vegetables. Three meals a day including dessert, island fresh fruit smoothie and fresh daily appetizers will not only satisfy your palate, but will provide nourishment in the most blissful way imaginable. Special diet needs? No problem.

A Typical Swell Day
6:15am Beach Walk (Early risers love this optional activity)
7:00am Breakfast
8:00am Surf Lessons
11:00am Yoga
12:30pm Lunch
1:30-4:30pm Activities (Excursion/Massage/Wellness or Educational Workshop/ Shopping/Stand-Up Paddle Board/Lounging by the pool or beach
4:30pm Sunset Surf Sessions
7:00pm Dinner and Dessert

The schedules may change according to surf conditions, guest speakers and surprise events that are planned during your women’s surf and wellness package. They best part? You can opt to relax by the pool the entire day or choose to participate in only one activity per day. No pressure here, they’ll support you in that decision.

7-10 Days including food, lessons, and board from $2,895-$3,495

Let the bliss begin.

Ecuador’s Eco-Lodge in the Clouds

Built in the Ecuadorian cloud forest outside of Quito around previously existing trees, the Mindo Eco-Lodge is about as authentic as you can get, allowing guests to rest in open-air areas, protected from the rain by an arcade running all around.

On the roof, you’ll find a terrace with a panoramic view of la selva (the jungle, baby!), while an onsite restaurant serves up local and Italian, dedicated to residents so it’s never going to be very crowded or noisy.

But the best part about the location is the bird watching along the trails of their Reserve.  With the assistance of a local guide specialized in bird watching in the Cloud Forest of Mindo, he will follow you along the trails showing the main characteristics of the Cloud forest so you can leave knowing all about the Velvet-Purple Coronet, the Antthrush, the Long-wattled Umbrella bird, and a bit more about the jungle than when you came.

Wherever possible, they use local services and encourage guests to buy local products as well. Providing employment of local population and guides, they’re respect the typical regional architectural style and thus, they’ve reflected it in their building; natural woods, thatch, and the occasional vibrant fabric reminiscent of the local tribes. Though we wouldn’t say this is ‘roughing it’, it certainly isn’t your five star marble experience, but that’s why we like it.

In terms of green techniques, energy and water efficient methods are place, along with waste prevention. “We garden with traditional and native species to maintain the local environment and also offer guiding services with attention to sustainability and offer information on sustainability in promotion material,” their manager explains.

To that end, they have environmental, nature, and local cultural education activities for visitors and environmental seminars for Ecuadorian schools.

How to get there, you ask?

By bus: Take a bus from the Terminal Terrestre bus station in Quito, any bus bound for Pacto, Puerto Quito, San Miguel de los Bancos or Mindo is ok. When the bus reaches Nanegalito tell the driver that you want to stop at Km72 (Primero de Mayo).

They will be waiting for you there. Of course, you’ll have to call before leaving Quito.

By car: Leave Quito on the new highway to Esmeraldas via Calacali. Travel to km 72. At Km72 turn right and follow the road for 3 km and You’ll reach the sign of the entrance of the Reserve.

Transfer service: This might be the easiest way for weary gringos. You can book their Transfer Service and they’ll come pick you up in Quito wherever you prefer.

Tours in the Cloudforest of Mindo, from US $200 – US $500 (3-6 days)

Guided tours to the beauty and mystery of the Cloudforest of Mindo. Depending on length of trip, we have a day dedicated to birdwatching, a day to visit the Ceremonial Site of Tulipe (los Yumbos) and the Garden of Butterflies in Mindo.

Birdwatching in the valley of Mindo, Ecuador, from US $550 – US $850 (6 days)

We’ll walk the Reserve trails and walk along the Mindo River, a great place to birdwatch. Species include Velvet-Purple Coronet, Giant Antpitta, Rufous-breasted Antthrush and Long-wattled Umbrellabird, amoungst others. We visit the Ecoroute El Paseo del Quinde, the Cloudforest of Reserva Ecologica Pachijal, the Lek of the Cock-of-the-Rock and bird sanctuaries in Milpe and Rio Silanche.

Birdwatching in the Cloudforest of Mindo, from US $125 – US $300 (2-4 days)

Birding packages accompanied by a local guide and a specialised, licensed guide for those who want to come to Mindo to watch birds, as main activity, due to the fact that Mindo is one of the best known places all over the world for birdwatching. Depending on tour length, take excursions to the lek of the Cock-of-the-rock, the Ecoroute Paseo del Quinde and the Birds Sanctuary of Milpe.

A Collage of Andean and Tropical Ecuador, from $1600 (12 days)

Why not try our Adventure & Community tourism package, combining the diversity of nature and scenery exploring the trails of the Cloud forest with the culture of the Ceremonial Site of Tulipe and traditional shops selling handicrafts in Las Tola. Bird watch in Mindo and relax on the beach at the Ocean of Rio Verde. Regenerate in the falls at Playa de Oro, dance to marimba music and sail the Santiago river. Finish off the tour at Otavalo’s market, the largest indigenous market in South America.

From US $50 – US $100 per person per night.

Prices depend on number of people in the group and there are discounts for children.

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