Archive for June, 2010

Fall Foliage: North America’s Best B&B’s

Cool, crisp, clean air brings out the leaf peeper in all of us, so it’s never too soon to pull out a foliage map and ponder where you want to be when the leaves start to turn. Of course, catching the prime peaks and intensity of colors depends on what part of the country you are in, temperature, precipitation, wind, and leaf genetics.

Across North America there are hundreds of inns and B&Bs located near forests, national parks, and vineyards that present thousands of leaf-seekers and eco-adventurer’s with myriad choices for getaways come fall. Explore a regional wine trail, get up in the colorful canopies with the birds via a zip-line adventure, or take an extreme off-road truck ride up a wild mountain. Here are some top suggestions ranging from tame to extreme culled from around North America.

To enjoy fall foliage at its peak, Mary White, founder of, a leading online B&B directory listing hundreds of getaway specials, says, “The character of foliage season is unique to each region; Texas has its golden forests of ‘Lost Maples,’ Arkansas has dogwoods that turn brilliant ruby red. Put your finger anywhere on a map, and there’s good chance spectacular foliage and a welcoming bed and breakfast hosted by innkeepers who know the best routes and secret spots for superb leaf-peeping awaits you.”

She suggests:

  • Check the National Forest Service Foliage Alerts to view maps and foliage reports.
  • Book your B&B early: fall foliage is prime time for visitors so it’s wise to pick your destination and lock in your lodging. Look for deals and better availability if you can getaway mid-week.

Here are some bed and breakfast offerings to elevate foliage viewing to new heights:

Extreme Peeping – Who said leaf peeping has to be tame? It doesn’t have to be during your stay at the lovely Rabbit Hill Inn, inLower Waterford , Vermont . Nestled in the Northeast Kingdom , famous for outdoor sports and covered bridges, the inn offers concierge services for a full range of activities including guided treks, hot air balloon rides, glider rides, golf, and tennis and even finding your way out of a corn maze. The off-road, action-packed Truck Safari up the wild trails of Barron Mountain delivers lion-hearted passengers to a breathtaking vantage point where Franconia Notch, awash in jewel-toned foliage glory, will leave thrill-seeking leaf peepers breathless. Romantic guest rooms with fireplace and whirlpool and candlelit country breakfasts are included, and two Mud Puddle cocktails at the local pub. For extreme thrill seekers zip-lines are also available.

Crush on You Foliage season in Napa , California coincides with grape crushing so visitors can enjoy the bonus of wine tasting and other grape-centric events hosted by local wine producers during this colorful time of year. The historic Beazley House offers a Wine Train package that capitalizes on the beauty of the region in foliage season and the gourmet cuisine and wines for which Napa is so famous. Passengers are treated to first-class service as they sup and sip on board this luxuriously-appointed train as it wends through the countryside and vineyards. The grape vines turn shades of brilliant gold, red, and mahogany in September and October, and the views are breathtaking. Request the Wine Train package when reserving one of the elegant guest rooms with private bath and garden views, and prepare yourself to be further enchanted by the delicious breakfast served each morning.

Jewel of the Ozarks – Eureka Springs is a vibrant Victorian village snuggled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains . With its pristine air, abundance of fall festivals, and many chef-owned eateries, this hamlet is a lovely place while you enjoy the scarlet dogwoods and golden maples. The Inn at Rose Hall is a magnificent recreation of an 1880’s Victorian manse with its period antiques, stained glass windows, and exquisite gardens. Fall gourmet breakfasts reap the bounties of harvest including such delights as pumpkin waffles with orange sauce, and chocolate zucchini bread.

Isle of Color – The spectacle of turning leaves against the backdrop of the deep blue sea, rolling farm land, and towering forests make Canadian Prince Edward Island a unique destination for leaf peepers. The Elmwood Heritage Inn, in Charlottetown , welcomes guests on foliage patrol from mid-September until late October. Century-old majestic elms with gold-crested boughs lining the hidden driveway greet you upon arrival. Cycling, golfing, walking on quiet beaches or taking scenic drives are some ways to enjoy the magnificent vistas. Or, take in the panorama of fall from the golf course, or during a bike ride around what is commonly called, this “gentle island.”

The Gold Standard – The Berkshires rank tops in fall foliage aficionado circles, and the Inn at Green River, in Hillsdale , New York , is the perfect spot for viewing foliage and partaking in the many cultural and gastronomic offerings that make this region so popular. The Inn ‘s1830 Federal-style farmhouse boasts seven romantic guest rooms with fireplaces, and ancient sugar maples and beautiful gardens adorn the grounds. Leaf peepers can begin the day with a leisurely walk down a quiet dirt road known to the locals as “the Dug way,” then progress to a hike at Batfish Falls in Taconic State Park , the Appalachian Trail , orBartholomew’s Cobble. Your innkeepers know the way, and can also direct you to Monument Mountain or Mt. Greylock , or even point you toward more adventurous pursuits such as viewing foliage from a bird’s eye perspective on the zip-line at the new aerial adventure park nearby.

Check out: for all of nature’s great hidden gems.

Garden Gourmet in Malay

The Four Seasons Langkawi Malaysia Bar

This fancy joint has one of the most stunning bar settings around, don’t you think?

If that’s not sexy enough, it’s also bursting with garden goodness.

When we heard about the Four Seasons Malaysia’s Garden Gourmet organic dinner (under the stars in the lush setting of their own organic garden), we thought… the islands, luxe greenery, exotic deliciousness? Count us in!

Apparently, you can relish the “freshly picked harvest from nature’s bounty of fruit, herbs and vegetables as you savour the aromatic tastes of spicy galangal and lemongrass soup paired with ocean-fresh catch from the Andaman Sea.” To me, that sounds a like a vacation from packaged sandwiches and Tesco or Baja Fresh, no?

Featuring a menu of locally and organically grown seasonal produce in creative blends, the Gourmet Garden 4-course dinner offers, quite possibly, one of the freshest dining experiences; expertly and artfully prepared by their Executive Chef Billy Akunna.  You’ll stroll the grounds with the chef to discover how to nurture your own healthy and sustainable garden as you hand-pick fresh ingredients for your dinner before coming together at the intimate Green Chef’s table by the garden’s edge. And the rooms… well, they look like this:

The Four Seasons Langkawi Malaysia Room

To us, organic produce-inspired meals fresh from the garden sounded like a more unique, delectable (and meaningful) way to connect to the natural environment in… a five-star outdoor dining room embraced by lush tropical gardens? That doesn’t hurt either.

Did we mention you’re also… in Malaysia? Now that’s pretty off-the-beaten path when it comes to Asia, no?

At approximately (deep breath) $584.58/night, we’re not going to tell you it’s a steal. We will, however, tell you… the memory just might be worth it.

Spain’s BioHotel

Costa Brava, Spain: The View from Venus Albir Eco-Aparthotel

We know… some people are really tired of all the ‘Green’ talk, but we must admit… it’s only just begun. True innovation is springing up around the world with the Austrian BioHotels, the group behind the first bio hotel recognised by The European Community in Spain!

Venus Albir, the first bio aparthotel on the Costa Blanca, is something of a tourist complex with geo/bio construction in mind, including, building with local and natural materials such as cork insulation, thermal clay blocks, ecological paints, wooden furniture, marble, cotton sheets and latex mattresses. Solar panels are used to heat the water, rainwater collectors water the plants, and an onsite the organic restaurant round out the Green love.

From €47 and €80 for a double room, with special prices for families, you can’t go wrong.

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