Archive for September, 2011

LEGOLAND, Florida: Family Sweepstakes!

Parents and kiddies! Check this contest out. You’ll probably have decent odds too as I’m not sure how widely reported it is. Atlantic® brand luggage, part of the Travelpro® family of brands and a market leader in affordable, lightweight family luggage since 1919, is having a sweepstakes to “Win a Vacation to the Grand Opening of LEGOLAND Florida”. The sweeps begins September 19 and ends October 31st so you have just the right amount of time to win. Another great treat? LEGOLAND Florida is a state-of-the-art 150-acre family theme park that opens on October 15th so you’ll get there right when it’s brand spankin new.  Located in Winter Haven, Florida, the new theme park offers more than 50 rides, shows and attractions geared for families with children ages 2-12. Here’s what you get:

A 4-Day LEGOLAND Florida Vacation including:

•       (4) Four, 2-Day Admissions to LEGOLAND Florida

•       (4) Four days and (3) Three nights at a LEGOLAND Florida Bed and Brick property

•       (4) Four day rental car

•       Exclusive behind the scenes tour with a LEGO Master Builder

•       (4) Four admissions to the Fantasy of Flight Biplane

•       (4) Four admissions to the Bok Tower Gardens

•       (4) Air Boat admissions

•       (1)LEGOLAND Florida gift bag

•       A 2-piece set of Atlantic Luggage

Enter here to enter and good luck!

http://atlanticluggage.com/legoland/?utm_source=blogs&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=legoland

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Responsible Tourism, Media, and… Humanitarian Aid

We just love a symbiotic relationship. PB & J, BLT’s, Mac ‘n Cheese. Things that go well together just make life so much better, don’t you think? To that end, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel publisher, today announced the launch of a partnership that will provide vital information to responders in humanitarian emergencies. A bit about the OCHA: The OCHA mobilizes and coordinates emergency humanitarian efforts around the globe, deploying the first international responders on the ground so staff from a variety of UN agencies and government and non-governmental organizations can provide humanitarian aid.

Usually deploying within 24 hours of a disaster, now they will be able to readily use Lonely Planet’s up-to-the-minute information to better help them familiarize themselves with the country’s geography and infrastructure, learn more about the country’s history and cultural background, and get essential basic information they should know before traveling.

“Lonely Planet’s expert content makes it easier for humanitarian workers to hit the ground running in unfamiliar environments,” said Gwi-Yeop Son, Director of Corporate Programmes at OCHA. “We value Lonely Planet’s commitment to provide accurate and up-to-the-minute information for our teams on the ground.”

The partnership has also started in time to coincide with the celebration of the UN’s World Tourism Day on September 27th, 2011. World Tourism Day, for those not aware, intends to foster awareness of the role of tourism within the international community and demonstrates how responsible tourism positively affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. Right up our alley. For more information about the UNOCHA or Lonely Planet, see below:

www.unocha.org

www.lonelyplanet.com

Que Rica… Colombia!

El Penol Lake near Medellin - Colombia

Colombia is a destination ready for discovery. From its beautiful landscapes, rich heritage, cosmopolitan cities, and mouthwatering cuisine, Colombia is rumored to be THE next hot destination in Latin America. Listed below are the top reasons to fall in love with the passion of Colombia, and a million reasons for wanting to stay. So what inspires you?

  • Coasts: As a destination where the sand is caressed by two oceans, Colombia’s privileged location allows its visitors to enjoy over 2,900 km of coasts on two oceans and the Caribbean Sea. Talk about the ultimate beach vacation! Long, tranquil beaches between jungles and the sea line most of the Pacific coast, while the Caribbean coast contains wide beach beaches, large resort complexes, and various shops and restaurants. Make sure to experience the country’s diving adventures. Go to the depth of Colombia’s colorful seas. Bordered by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there is a world that is designed for the delight of divers under the sea. The famous Seaflower Biopsphere Reserve around the Island of Providencia contains the world’s third largest reef park, and is a global haven for spotting the sea’s shiny starfish, crabs, angelfish, corals, sponges and various other species in strange shapes and vibrant colors.

Colombia Coffee Farmer (c) Neil Palmer - CIAT

  • Coffee: Recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2011, Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is known for producing the world’s best coffee. Let the aroma and the taste of coffee surround you, while getting to know the beauty of the key regions. Keeping in tradition with its diverse culture and landscapes, Colombia pays tributes to its roots by containing food that is a mixture of Indian, Spanish, African and Arabic cuisines. Every region is has its own gastronomy, related to its natural resources. Delight in the ocean’s bountiful harvest in the Caribbean region; Savor the meats, potatoes, beans and corn in the Andean region; Enjoy the Pacific Coast’s abundance of rice, lentils, and rice; and appreciate the veal, manioc and various fishes in the Orinoco River region.

Colombia's Amazon (c) Jill Robinson

  • Nature: In a land where the earth breathes, The Amazon is the traditional destination of scientist and scholars who want to learn to talk with nature. Containing the world’s second longest river the largest tropical jungle on the planet, Colombia’s shares the Amazon Rainforest with Brazil and Peru. Enjoy the fauna and flora of the jungle by zipping between trees, or hiking along the forest various jungle paths. 90 percent of Colombia is Nature, while 10 percent of Colombia’s territory is protected by nature reserves– including 37 national parks, 12 fauna and flora sanctuaries, two natural reserves, and one parkway—11,000,000 hectares that encompass beautiful scenery, a variety of climate and soils, floras and fauna, and 230 civil society natural reserves. Talk about Biodiversity! Colombia contains the world’s largest collection of amphibians, butterflies and flowers. It also holds the title of containing the world’s second highest number of bird species (containing 1,865 bird species). From June to November the country turns into the homes of hundreds of bird, whale, and marine turtle species that visit the Colombian Pacific coast to mate, feed, and take rest on their migratory journey.

Cartagena

  • Vibrant Cities: Colombians are festive by nature, and always seek opportunities to celebrate their cultural heritage. From the colorful Barranquilla Carnival every February and Medellin Flower Fair every August, to the much acclaimed Cali Fair, there is always a reason to celebrate. Colombians take pride in the rich cultural life contained within their cities walls. From cosmopolitan Cartagena, modern Bogota, passionate Cali and progressive Medellin, each one of  Colombia’s cities offers its guests something different and unique. Known for their warm and friendly spirit, the people of Colombia are ready to open their arms to the whole world. Seeking to show the world its true face, Colombia’s passion for developing its global status in the world is the ultimate driving force for their authentic energy and dynamic spirit.

There’s even more to be discovered in person. With a booming tourism sector, Colombia is ready for you.

www.colombia.travel

Baja, Mexico: A Vacation Retreat With Adventure

Rancho Pescadero

As a part of our work with the Mexico Tourism Board, we recently had the opportunity to visit La Paz, Mexico and we didn’t want to leave. The cleanliness of the area, the beauty of the people, the brilliant water, the food (Buffalo BBQ in La Paz), the ice cream, the colorful fish, snorkeling in Mexico with sea lions… we could go on and on we loved La Paz, Mexico so much. In fact, we’re already playing with the idea of a retirement home in Baja. Therefore, in addition to all the other great locations and openings around the world that we like to inform our readers about, we wanted to share some Baja, Mexico news.

A contact of ours recently informed us of this sweet resort: Rancho Pescadero, a stellar destination for total relaxation which adventurous pursuits in a laid back luxury resort environment just an hour north of Cabo. From surfing one of the top local breaks to hiking the Sierra Laguna Mountains, Rancho Pescadero gives guests the perfect place to enjoy all that Baja has to offer, by arranging day trips to the Sea of Cortez for a chance to snorkel, book surfing lessons, or plan a fishing trip with a local panguero.

The Beach in front of Rancho Pescadero

With access to two miles of secluded white-sand beach and two swimming pools, the property’s “best gym is the outdoors”. Guests have free use of an ample supply of surfboards, boogie boards, fishing equipment and bicycles. In addition to beach walks, ocean swims and surfing workouts, guests can also enjoy daily complimentary yoga classes.

Rancho Pescadero's Sexy Pool

One of the most popular activities is whale shark watching at Espirtu Santo Island (this is where we snorkeled and it’s one of the most amazing snorkeling sights we’ve ever laid eyes on). Guests can explore the amazing Marine National Park while interacting with whale sharks and swimming with sea lions in the lagoons of the Magdalena Bay. Other activities include scenic waterfall walks, ATV tours and the once-in-a-lifetime experience for thrill seekers to explore wide open Baja by going open road racing.

Rancho Pescadero Room

After an activity-filled day, Rancho Pescadero then provides all of the ingredients needed to relax and rejuvenate: a treatment at The Tres Hermanas Spa, creative Mexican cuisine, or simply lounging poolside with a hand crafted cocktail. You really can’t go wrong, it’s so right.

Rates range from $185-425/night

www.ranchopescadero.com

Rancho Pescadero is also on Facebook


			

The New Shore Hotel Santa Monica

Shore Hotel - Santa Monica

A day doesn’t go by when we don’t miss the sunny days we spent in Cali. So, always on the hunt for new hotels and openings in the beloved stomping grounds of our 20s, we tracked down this sweet opening. This October in Santa Monica, just steps from the Santa Monica Pier, 3rd Street Promenade, and the city’s popular beaches and shopping, Shore Hotel is the newest addition to the coastline. It’s also, incidentally, a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) registered property that offers eco-friendly accommodations with stunning views of the Pacific.  The open-air, U-shaped design of the main hotel building has a stainless steel-clad trellis over the street-side of the courtyard, which unifies the two wings of the main building creating an outdoor “living room,” with an outdoor pool, a water feature, and patio dining at Blue Plate Taco. In addition to rooms with crisp turquoise and vibrant orange accents, the hotel also has a unique public-use space that blurs the line between the sidewalk and hotel entrance and includes park benches for pedestrians looking to chillax.

Upon completion of construction, if awarded LEED Gold Certification, Shore Hotel will be the only property in the city of Santa Monica with this elite status.  In June, the Shore Hotel was recognized at the 41st annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards, recognizing the project teams responsible for the City’s very best architecture. So, check it out next month, and let us know what you think!

www.shorehotel.com

www.facebook.com/ShoreHotel

Vermont’s Best Hiking

New Life Hiking Spa

A hiking spa? Who’s ever heard of such a thing? Well, we have and we thought it sounded pretty damn cool. Located in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont, since 1978, New Life Hiking Spa is known for its exhilarating hiking program. A world renowned weight loss retreat located in Killington, New Life also offers delicious healthy meals in a comfortable atmosphere where you can experience the peace of the outdoors in a down-to-earth, country inn environment.

Re-opening after Hurricane Irene, New Life Hiking Spa (which was forced to close for two weeks due to the aftermath) has also decided to extend their season until October 16th!

A bit about the joint: In January of 2010 & 2011, New Life Hiking Spa was selected as one of the top 10 fitness vacations in the world by MSNBC. It was also selected by Shape Magazine as “one of the eight best weight loss spas” and by Health Magazine as “one of four great weight loss spas.” And, for four years in a row (2006-2010), New Life has won Best for Weight Loss, Best for Hiking and Best for Affordability by SpaFinder Readers’ Choice Awards.

Pretty impressive.

“The saying goes, ‘After a hurricane comes a rainbow and in this case, it’s a rainbow of fall colors in Vermont”, said Kathleen LeSage who owns New Life with her husband, Jimmy. Mrs. LeSage has been doing some research about fall foliage and found a great article on “What factor affects the intensity of fall colors”. It states, “Mild, sunny days combined with cold but not freezing nights will produce brilliant colors, as will adequate rainfall in autumn”. Vermont has definitely had the adequate rainfall, but luckily with little wind, so leaves were not lost in the storm. “It seems like it is really the perfect conditions for a brilliant foliage season!”

The weather is gorgeous and the trees are starting to change, so why don’t you kick start your own life and opt for change too?

www.newlifehikingspa.com

Kenya: Hanging with the Maasai Mara

Extraordinary Journeys Africa

This week, one of my friends posted that she was headed to Kenya for some photography work.  In addition to her being an all around creative badass, she’s probably been to Kenya more times than I can count, but each time she mentions Africa, I start to daydream about the dusty roads, colorful smells, and vibrant energy of Nairobi. So, of course, I felt compelled to find some cool, feel good trips to this glorious nation just for you. To that end, I came across Extraordinary Journeys Africa, specialists in bespoke customized safaris to Africa, who are offering a unique six night trip to Kenya for the last minute travel junkies (October 10th-16th, 2011). Now, since I’m a fly-by-my-seat kinda gal, that’s *just enough* time for me to find someone to water my plants so I can jet off to Kenya.  Why is this trip so cool? you ask.

Well, it’s a community exchange program with a remote Masai Mara community followed by a luxury safari adventure, that’s why.  For a special rate of $6,000 per person (normally $7,200), it’s being done in partnership with the Founder and Project Director of Under the Acacia organization and the first two days will be spent in the remote area of Loita hills where travelers will be introduced to an impoverished community that in just two years has been equipped with schools, sanitation, running water and a thriving community. Travelers will experience exclusive interactions with community members and learn ways in which they can make a difference. The next four nights of the trip will be spent in the beautiful Masai Mara exploring the amazing wildlife and experiencing thrilling safari adventures of a lifetime.

Community Project: $500 will be donated on behalf of each participant to help build a new classroom at Esoit Academy in Kenya. This project is spearheaded by Under the Acacia, a not-for-profit that works in tandem with remote communities in Kenya to generate sustainable initiatives and community development.

Masai Mara Reserve

Itinerary:

October 10-11 Loita/Olarro

Participants fly to Siana Springs where their driver/guide warmly welcomes them and takes them on a game drive en route to the luxury Olarro Camp, nestled along the Loita Hills. In partnership with Under the Acacia, guests will  meet with the chiefs, elders, and students of this special community of Maasai. The next day, they participate in the school opening and a very lively dedication ceremony at the new Esoit Academy.

October 12,13,14,15: Maasai Mara/Olanana

On day three, a beautiful three-hour drive takes guests to Olonana Camp where they can experience daily game drives to see the great migration of the wildebeest or track the Big Five; take advantage of the spa facilities by trying traditional African remedies; or relax in the library on their private terrace overlooking the river filled with hippos below. Guests will also be able to arrange for hot air balloon rides, bush dinners or visiting another Under the Acacia school project (a 1.5-hour drive away). After lunch on the last day, visitors fly to Wilson Airport and transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for their flights home.

About EJ Africa
Run by an extraordinary mother-daughter team, EJ Africa organizes customized trips for honeymooners, families and individual travelers to Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Mixing and matching safaris, camps, lodges, and villas, with travel by private planes, 4x4s, hot air balloons, elephant, camel and even horse, EJ Africa has planned over 500 trips to Africa and not one has been the same.

www.ejafrica.com

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