Archive for July, 2011

Rainforest Adventures

Costa Rica Zip Lining

I was made for the jungle and the jungle, baby, the jungle… she was made for me. Her symphonic sounds, her riotous curves, her mountainous valleys. Plus, I’m about the only person I know who actually likes it when it’s hot and humid. My skin is clearer, my hair is bouncier, and my body begins to blossom like the frisky little bud that it is.

So, any chance I can get to frolic in the jungle (or the sea near the rain forest), you can pretty much count me in… which is why I like Rain Forest Adventures, a collection of five eco-adventure parks located in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Dominica and St. Lucia. So why not discover the persona of each park?

Costa Rica Atlantic is a misty jungle nucleus with rugged trails for an off-the-map adventure. Costa Rica Pacific sits on a sunny mountain with views of the Pacific Ocean from the Aerial Tram. Dominica, located on the Nature Island, features a daunting suspension bridge over the 300-foor drop Breakfast River Gorge.

Jamaica found inspiration from the original Jamaican Bobsled team and features a Rainforest Bobsled ride. St. Lucia is the ultimate family escape and thrills with the Adrenaline zip line course. All work well with my philosophy, my physique (and my pelo). Each destination combines adventure with enlightenment, simultaneously showcasing and protecting the rainforest and its precious eco-system. Experience the rainforest canopy from a bird’s eye view on the parks’ signature Aerial Tram (which are handicap accessible). Gondolas ride high into the jungle, led by a naturalist guide who illustrates flora, fauna and bird life. Zip line courses are thrilling for the adventure set (like moi). Hiking trails and bird watching, butterfly, frog and snake gardens… all available for that curious jungle seeker in you. The parks were built on a principle of sustainability, integrated into every aspect from construction, including daily water recycling so we give them a big thumb’s up and a little shake of our tail.  Price point for Aerial Tram: $46-$64 Adult ($27.50 – $64)

www.rainforest-adventures.com


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Nally & Millie Forever

NALLY & MILLIE

We love NALLY & MILLIE! We’ll be honest, when we were  first sent their linesheets we couldn’t get a handle on the quality of their line. Sometimes, it’s just too hard to tell how an article of clothing is made from looking at linesheets.

Then, when we were sent their goods… Mama Mia… soft as butter, so well made, and excellent fit. Want to know why?

Made in the USA, baby!

Knits for just about any occasion – think cozy-at-home, office, plane ride, or a night out (yes, they’re that versatile),  the all-new Fall 2011 collection delivers deep colors and prints for a season dominated by its knits and easy-to-wear fits-everyone manteaux. These pieces make a great start off point to your look and offer a wide variety of ways to go from casual to chic with a bit of accessorizing. The excellent draping creates a relaxed yet fashionable effect with the flexibility to remain loose or be cinched with a wide belt. That’s what I love most, particularly when this Eco-Adventurer is flying around Europe or Asia and needs to get fancy in a jiffy. Plus, they have looks for every age demo. I prefer the neutral colors or the bold single colors, but they also have more flashy prints for those who still want a little Miami or Boca in their diet. Showcasing sweater and layered pieces, burnouts, lace, jacquards and novelty fabrics for slimming tops, tunics, cardigans, dresses and skirts, the cross-over contemporary brand provides flattering options in deep shades of heather grey, biscotti, French roast, redwood, corn flower, primrose and basil.  Original hand rendered and digital prints focus on bold graphics as well as animal patterns for versatile day-to-evening styles that work well with denim and leggings or dressier jackets and heels.

Perfect for the Plane Ride or Another Office to Evening Look

Conceived by award-winning designer Nally Park and James Park, NALLY & MILLIE is manufactured entirely in the United States using the softest natural fabrics and most technically advanced synthetics and blends for consistent quality, durability, memory and a flawlessly supple hand.  So, although not every piece is organic, they are sustainable when it comes to keeping jobs in the USA and they make a very strong effort to source responsibly. For over a decade, the brand has been delivering high quality pieces with accessible price points at retail from $44.00 to $96.00 for tops and skirts, from $96.00 to $129.00 for dresses in over a thousand specialty boutiques and department stores nationwide including Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Von Maur.

www.nallyandmillie.com

Top Pick for Natural Skincare: Jason’s C-Effects Super C Toner

Jason's C-Effects Super C Toner

I live in New York City and, as much as I love the place, it’s not always the best for my skin. Either too hot or too cold, let’s just say… you have to take extra care of your skin (and your mind) in these elements. The daily sun and environmental exposure is, in one word, tough. Even a few minutes in the sun or pollution can lead to free radical damage, or oxidation of the skin.  Day after day, your skin faces a free radical attack that damages the skin’s DNA structure and accelerates the aging process, resulting in unwanted fine lines, wrinkles and an uneven skin tone.

No, thank you.

Well, since we also love to take a natural approach to aging, we’ve always liked JASON products and this line right here is one of the best on the market. Plus, it smells delicious and feels like a refreshing mist of spring – like a mandarin orange freshly squeezed right on that pretty little mug of yours. The newly renovated JĀSÖN™ C-Effects™ line delivers an arsenal of formulas to fight free radical attack with its exclusive Multi-Antioxidant Complex, powered by Ester-C®, the most stable, naturally derived and deeply penetrating form of natural Vitamin C.

The complex also features a well-rounded, potent blend of free radical-fighting ingredients, including Vitamin E to naturally moisturize, naturally derived Green Tea to shield skin from environmental stressors and Thioctic Acid, an essential nutrient that helps to create a healthy, even skin tone.  I’ve been using the C-Effects skin toner and combo moisturizer/sunscreen and loving them both. With continued use, the C-Effects Crème is also clinically tested to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and improve skin clarity in 4 weeks for more radiant and younger-looking skin.

We’ve been using this line for about 4 weeks and can certainly concur.  Jason’s C-Effects™ line is a must.

$9.95

http://www.jason-naturals.com 

A New York Treat for Families

New York City Rugrats Riding the Streets of the City

On July 1st, The Plaza invited you to connect with your inner child. That’s right, get back to the days when lemonade sales were you’re biggest worry. Get this: the landmark hotel just re-launched a 1956 original – the Tricycle Garage! City dwellers and hotel guests will be able to rent Radio Flyer tricycles, bicycles and scooters to celebrate summer in Central Park and explore some of the city’s most popular sights. How cute (and eco-friendly) is that?

Following the success of Kay Thompson’s book and the upsurge of Eloise fans everywhere, the Tricycle Garage was originally instated in May 1956 and housed children’s’ bicycles and tricycles in a whimsical, candy-store inspired setting. Bike racks and numbered license plates were available for a nominal fee of $.15 a day (that’s $3/month!) and Plaza guests were allowed to use the garage gratis. Today, The Plaza Boutique’s Tricycle Garage will offer kids of all ages and families the same exciting New York City experience.  Rental fees will range from $20/hour to $40/day (2011 NYC city prices, of course), but it will promise to be that bicycle in the city experience you and your little ones will never forget.

The Plaza Hotel's Eloise Suite (compliments of Betsey Johnson)

Want to go even further with the whimsical theme? Me too. The Plaza, along with Betsey Johnson, also happened to team up to design an Eloise suite! J’adore.

In addition to all that, with Central Park Conservancy’s premier historian and photographer, Sara Cedar Miller, the adults can have their own enlightening experience. They’re offering exclusive, private tours of Central Park as a part of a new summer package.  Tours can be customized to the guests’ interests and passions, making this New York city deal ideal for families, couples and girlfriend getaways.  Package details are as follows, but contact the hotel for more info (because if this doesn’t tickle your fancy, The Plaza will certainly have something that might):

  • Luxurious overnight accommodations in a Suite
  • A private, customized tour through one of New York’s most fabled attractions
  • A signed copy of Central Park, An American Masterpiece; Seeing Central Park, The Official Guide to the World’s Greatest Urban Park; or Strawberry Fields: Central Park’s Memorial to John Lennon by Sara Cedar Miller
  • Champagne toast for two in the Champagne Bar at The Plaza

Learn to Raft from a Québécois

Rafting Quebec!

We recently had lunch at the Harvard Club with Destination Quebec and we have one thing to say: Incredible. Since most of our readers hail from the US, Europe, Australia, and Asia, we tend to forget (sorry, Canadians) about… Canada. And, might we acknowledge now… bad idea. Canada – particularly the Quebec region – is some of the most stunning landscape in the world with some of the most incredible ecotourism offerings.

Talk about a hidden gem. With villages all along the coast of Québec that only speak French, to a multi-faceted geography and diverse landscapes, vegetation and climate, four very distinct seasons put their stamp on this vast territory. Quebec is also Canada’s largest province. After 12,000 years of Native American habitation, Jacques Cartier took possession of this land on behalf of the King of France, beginning an era of colonization that would endure until the advent of the industrial age and the challenges of the modern world. Three times the size of France, 40 times the size of Switzerland and 50 times the size of Belgium, its territory extends nearly 2,000 km (1,242 mi.) from the U.S. border to the Arctic Ocean. So, we say… check this stunning terrain out or you’ll really be missing out.

From dog sledding and ice fishing to white water rafting, adventure courses abound and you won’t regret it. 

Bruno Vanasse - Found of ABV Kayak

Start here, in Grenville Sur La Rouge outside of Montreal: ABV KAYAK is a white water kayaking schoolkayak rental center, and an rafting adventure expedition outfitter providing high quality instruction for beginner, intermediate and advanced kayakers using certified instructors at affordable prices.  Maintaining a low instructor to student ratio to ensure each student receives the amount of personal attention they need to improve their skills, they’ve grown into the premiere white water kayaking school in Quebec accredited by the Fédération québécoise de Canoé-Kayak d’eau vive and affiliated with the Société de Sauvetage.

Why we like ’em?

They specialize in white water rafting expeditions for adventure travelers (duh). Plus, with over 40 years combined experience their expedition leaders will take you on some of the most scenic and virtually untouched rivers in Quebec including the Magpie river – rated 6th best in the world by iExplore.com – The Broadback river, and the Moisie. There aren’t a ton of hotels in the area, but you can find a few quaint places to stay, like Hotel Lac Carling, or follow this link and rent a little Scandinavian style cottage!

To learn more, visit ABV Kayak’s Rafting Expeditions page and tell them Eco-Adventurer.com sent you (just try not to make us jealous when you send us all your adventurous vacations pics).

Adventure Courses – Quebec 

Taiwan: A Below-the-Radar Retreat

Talk about Taiwan!

Where’s the perfect spot to “hang loose” with an iced-cold coconut boba drink during the hot summer months? The cool breezy island of Taiwan, no doubt. This “formosa island” has maintained its natural appeal since passing Portuguese sailors first discovered it in the 16th century. The island, located in the center of bustling Asia, has kept much of its serene beauty throughout the decades without being overshadowed by modernity. And even though the tropical island is small compared to its neighbors, most don’t realize that Taiwan offers remarkable stretches of remote, pristine white and golden sand beaches, as well as sparkling coral reefs for travelers of all ages to indulge in pure summer fun.

According to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the best time to enjoy the beautiful island is from summer through early fall because the hot, humid subtropical climate provides mild cool breezes throughout the island supplying the locals with plenty of natural air-con as soon as they hit the beaches.

Taiwan's Shek Memorial

For first-time visitors, Taiwan Tourism Bureau recommends these three must-see sites: Baishawan Beach, Fulong Beach and Kenting Beach. 

Baishawan Beach is located on the northern coast of Taiwan. The beautiful white sand beach is famous for its crisp-clean blue water, adventurous hiking trails, and unique volcanic rock formations. Another northern coast attraction is Fulong Beach because the location is perfect for windsurfing and canoeing. And the most popular beach destination to visit is Kenting Beach located in the southern coast of Taiwan. Locals flock to this beach because it includes an amazing 18,000-hectare national park with activities for the entire family, including swimming, diving, surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, jet-skiing, boating, and hiking.

For travelers interested in discovering the beauty of Taiwan from a complete 360˚ ocean view, cruise traveling has emerged into a popular alternative transportation with locals and international travelers. Based on Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the two popular harbors in Taiwan for cruise ships to sail through are Keelung and Kaoshiung.

The port of Keelung located north of the island is the most popular entry point in Taiwan. Favorite tourist sites include the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Long Shan Temple, Confucian Temple, Taipei City Gate, and the world-famous National Palace Museum. The museum houses historical art collections dating back 3,000 years.

Taiwan's Dream Mall

The second popular port is in Kaoshiung located south of the island. Tourists can visit the famous Fo-Kwang Shan Temple, Ai River and Dream Mall, the largest shopping center in Taiwan.

The Chijin district in Old Kaoshiung is Taiwan’s most famous seafood market center that sells daily, fresh-caught seafood to restaurants and visitors. Yummers. Definitely the island for all ages to relax and escape to for their summer vacations, we’re giving Taiwan a high five for being a great below-the-radar escape.

www.go2taiwan.net

Exotic Asian Escapes

Pink Beach - Indonesia

Recently, Asia Transpacific Journeys sent me some information about their new custom journeys and small group trips to the Asia/Pacific region so I had to share the details; primarily because I’ve never seen such interesting itineraries to places like Komodo Island or Myanmar before. Founded in 1987, they claim that no other company offers such expertise in the region and I’m of the mind to believe them. With long-standing connections in Asia, outstanding personalized service, and deeply insightful cultural interpretations, this has made them the travel company of choice for organizations such as the American Museum of Natural History, the World Wildlife Fund, and Ivy League alumni associations so see below for some trips that are sure to tickle your fancy.

Indonesia: Pink Beach in the Komodo Archipelago

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are home to stunning beaches, none more famous than Pink Sand Beach in the Komodo Archipelago. Komodo Island is also home to incredible wildlife such as the Komodo dragon, and offers unsurpassed snorkeling. Travelers can stay on a wonderful private yacht (hello, Captain!) or opt for gorgeous island resorts.

Best time to travel in Indonesia: Now through October.

Vietnam in Style: Six Senses Con Dao

Vietnam: Con Dao Archipelago

White-powder sand rings the 16 pristine islands that comprise the stunning Con Dao Archipelago, where impressive rock formations jut from crystal-clear Windex-blue waters. Deserted, perfect beaches, a ring of colorful coral reefs and a towering mountain backdrop make this magnificent national park Vietnam’s top insider tip and one of Asia Transpacific Journeys’ favorite seaside destinations.

Best time to travel Vietnam: November to April, so travelers should start planning their winter getaway now.

Now is a great time to plan a trip to Myanmar (Burma) with the best season to visit coming this fall.

Myanmar: Ngapali Beach

The country is up-and-coming and offers plenty of hidden treasures, including the snow-white sands of Ngapali, the second largest beach inSoutheast Asia and a great place for strolls along the vast, sandy beach. Stunning Ngapali Beach is as unspoiled as it gets and makes a great place to relax and enjoy the views, and engage in other activities such as swimming, snorkeling and fishing.

Best time to visit Myanmar: November to March.

Cambodia's Swanky Digs: Song Saa Island Resort

Cambodia: Koh Rong Archipelago

Cambodia’s islands, situated in the sapphire waters of the Gulf of Thailand, are a true treasure trove for those travelers looking for a quiet and tropical escape to get away from the crowds. Most of the islands in the Koh Rong Archipelago remain remote oases of virgin rainforests, tropical reefs and glistening white beaches, and opportunities for offshore adventures and water activities are plentiful.

Best time to travel to Cambodia: October through April.

www.asiatranspacific.com

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