Archive for June, 2012

Group Fund Anything: Crowdtilt

Planning a group trip can be a stressful task, especially if you’re the one collecting the money for travel and accommodations, trust us. We recently coordinated a trip to St. Barths for July and it felt like a full time job.

Well, that’s where Crowdtilt.com comes in.  A new ‘groupfunding’ website, it allows groups of people (friends, co-workers, family, neighbors) to easily pool money online, with no one’s credit card being charged until the trip has tilted or reached its tilting limit.  Once a campaign has raised the money, all the funds will be sent via direct deposit or check, eliminating the problem of waiting on people to pay the organizer. Crowdtilt can help fund bus trips, hotel rooms, group flights, a car service, concert tickets and other events/activities at your destination.

We think it’s brill.

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The Eco-Awesome Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery

Pomar Junction

Pomar Junction

All aboard the green train…
Check this piece of eco-fun out! We heard about Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery back in April when they hosted the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival. This beautiful eco-friendly vineyard is in the heart of California’s Central Coast Wine Country with a history that harkens back to Templeton at the turn of the century, when the El Pomar District was known for almond and fruit orchards, along with a few wine grapes.
The View of the Vineyards

The View of the Vineyards

The story goes something like this. With coastal railway lines the eventually built the town, the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Templeton. It was here that Marsha Merrill’s grandfather, George Grigg, was a longtime Southern Pacific Engineer. To honor their heritage, the Merrills, have relocated a boxcar and cupola Caboose adjacent to the tasting room. History meets sustainability with their added commitment to the earth. The history of the winery is tightly intertwined with that of the Central Coast Vineyard Team (CCVT), of which Owner Dana Merrill is a charter member. Their mission? To identify and promote the most environmentally safe, viticulturally and economically sustainable farming methods, while maintaining or improving quality and flavor of wine grapes. We adore.
How beautiful is this place??

How beautiful is this place??

Pomar Junction is also one of the first vineyards to be SIP-certified (Sustainability In Practice), a program whose standards include: habitat conservation, energy efficiency, pest management, water conservation, economic stability, and social responsibility. What’s more, Dana Merrill was critical to the development of the SIP Certification standards, which looks at the farm in its entirety: the worker, soil fertility, cover crops, wildlife, native plants, irrigation, and more. All of this comes to life during Pomar Junction’s agricultural wine tours (where you can even live up some fun on a tractor-pulled gondola ride throughout the vineyard, hosted by Dana Merrill himself). With picturesque vistas of sustainably-farmed vines as far as the eye can see, an olive grove and ancient oak trees over an large central lawn, and sustainably-produced wine…can you really ask for more?
Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery
Tasting Room Open Daily 11:00-5:00PM
5036 S. El Pomar Road
Templeton, CA 93465

Compostable Toothbrushes

Did you know that every year in the United States some 450 million plastic toothbrushes make their way to landfills nationally? Pretty rank, if you ask us. So, World Centric has unveiled a line of compostable toothbrushes that are made from a plant based resin called Ingeo and are designed to fully compost within 3 to 6 six months when sent to a commercial composting facility. Cool, no? World Centric will even provide a prepaid envelope that customers can use return the toothbrush and case. World Centric will then send the returned product to a composting facility for biodegradation.

Retails for $4.55 and are available at natural grocery stores, some Whole Foods stores nationwide and online at:

www.worldcentric.org

Toxin-Free Shampoo and Conditioner: Sebamed

 

Most of us don’t think twice when we shampoo and shower our bodies in an attempt to get clean. In fact, we’re not even aware that the majority of the time we’re actually bathing in toxic chemicals. Check this list out and you’ll see just how many toxic chemicals you’re putting onto your precious body: List of Toxic Chemicals Found in Beauty Products.

So, in an effort to stay pure when we travel, we like to find botanically-based products. One such product, Sebamed, gently washed our hair and scalp with a mild formula that helps preserve the scalp’s natural oils, cutting down the irritation that can come from the use of soap-based shampoos.  Maintaining a 5.5 pH, Sebamed Everyday Shampoo treats normal, sensitive and problematic scalp conditions. Formulated with a new generation surfactant blend to protect the hair and scalp from dryness, the shampoo’s moisture retaining properties penetrate the structure of the hair shaft, adding volume and shine.

Let’s face it, a healthy scalp helps promote healthier looking hair. Sebamed Repair Conditioner combines science and nature to help feel soft and smooth. Active plant extracts penetrate the hair shaft restoring its structure and elasticity, while natural moisturizers and silk protein boost volume and shine.  Additionally, the pH value of 5.5 in all Sebamed hair care products helps to provide protection against dehydration and frizz. Critical for my curly mop.

Suitable for all hair types, Sebamed Everyday Shampoo and Sebamed Hair Repair Conditioner are 100 percent soap and paraben-free, and biodegradable.

Sebamed® Everyday Shampoo – 6.8 oz. SRP – $12.99

Sebamed® Repair Conditioner – 6.8 oz. SRP – $12.99

Available at Costco, CVS and online at Drugstore.com and www.sebamedusa.com

A Wine Cave, Spa Grotto, and Star Anise Kobe Beef? Welcome to The Meritage in Napa

The Meritage Hotel and Spa

The Meritage Resort and Spa

Ah… The Meritage Resort and Spa. For those looking to Escape to Napa, this is one we’re keen to check out. An idyllic Napa Valley hotel and resort, it’s set against rolling hills with its own private vineyards (’cause, oftentimes, when we slurp wine, we like to do it from the confines of our own exclusive vineyard). A destination unto itself with Tuscan inspired rooms and luxury suites, we’re also keen on it’s seasonal farm-to-table cuisine in their Siena restaurant and wine tasting in the Estate Cave featuring Trinitas Cellars. Siena’s Napa Terroir-influenced menu sources the best local, seasonal meats, fish and produce designed by an award-winning executive chef to compliment area wines. Entrees also start at a reasonable $12. From appetizers to savory desserts Siena has something for every palate, but some of favorite entrees include Seared Sea Bass with Sautéed Rock Shrimp; and Cinnamon and Star Anise Scented Kobe Beef Short Ribs.

The Meritage's underground wine cellar

The Meritage’s underground wine cellar

If that’s not slurpalicious enough, you can regain a healthful balance with curative treatments at Spa Terra – a lavish underground spa with steam grottos, soaking pools, treatment alcoves and tranquil walls of water. How cool is that? Spa Terra’s signature 100-minute package? Solo Vino, an exfoliating grape seed scrub, followed by an invigorating jet shower rinse and a decadent body wrap with wine cave mud. A 50-minute Terra Massage ends this Napa favorite! Massages and treatments start at $65. Then, you can unwind at Crush Ultra Lounge, which offers six swanky bowling lanes, a pool table, fireplace and more. The resort also claims the most comprehensive event and meeting space in wine country – for those looking for the most romantic Napa wedding in town or an ideal corporate retreat.

This has to be one of the coolest spas we've seen!

This has to be one of the coolest spas we’ve seen!

Looks like I’ll either have to convince my honey to take me on a romantic wine country trip or convince my company that Napa is the perfect place for a little corporate bonding. Over wine or in a grotto, of course.

Rates from around $260/night

www.themeritageresort.com 

Hot Air Ballooning in Britain

Hot Air Ballooning - United Kingdom

Hot Air Ballooning – United Kingdom

With all the Jubilee talk, we wanted to tell our readers about this sweet summer steal. The Montague on the Gardens Hotel is at the heart of all the London action this summer, and this beautiful Georgian townhouse hotel is offering an array of options for those who want to avail themselves of something very special – the delightful Best of British packages. Situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, one of the most beautiful areas of central London, The Montague on the Gardens is an elegant, long-established Georgian townhouse hotel overlooking a secluded private garden square. The 100 luxurious rooms and suites, including one two-bedroom apartment, are elegantly understated, furnished with fabrics capturing the timeless elegance of Bloomsbury and its literary heritage.

Montague on the Gardens Entrance

Montague on the Gardens Entrance

This four-star hotel is also within strolling distance of the West End and The British Museum, and a mere five minutes from the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras. Guests find themselves just minutes from London’s Financial District, Covent Garden, shopping on Oxford and Bond Streets, the West End theatres and Russell and Bloomsbury Squares. If your idea of a great vacation includes an unforgettable hot air balloon flight over the verdant British Countryside, then the Best of British Maiden Voyage package is the one for you.

Available through September 7, 2012, this package puts the ’Great’ into Britain. Guests at The Montague will spend two nights in the Guv’nors’ Suite, enjoy a full English breakfast, Afternoon Tea, a Fortnum & Mason hamper, pink champagne and strawberries, and two tickets to the British Museum, which is just a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Love the rooms at the Montague!

Love the rooms at the Montague!

  • The Best Of British Maiden Voyage package Includes:
  • Two nights’ accommodations in the splendid Guv’nor’s Suite
  • Full English breakfast daily
  • Best of British Afternoon Tea on the day of your choice
  • Transfer from any London train station or airport in our Range Rover
  • Fortnum & Masons hamper including Fortnum’s Ceylon and Assam loose leaf teas, Golden Crunch Biscuits, Dundee Cake, silver tea strainer and a copy of Tea at Fortnum & Mason
  • Bottle of Joseph Perrier Pink Champagne & strawberries in your room on arrival
  • Two tickets to the British Museum for the current exhibition of your choice
  • Virgin Hot Air Balloon Flight including a post-flight glass of Champagne

 

Best of British Maiden Voyage is priced from $1,418/per night, inclusive of all amenities listed based on two adults sharing the Guv’nor’s Suite for a minimum of two nights. Bookings require a minimum of seven days in advance of stay or cancellation. There will be a $650 non-refundable deposit required upon booking. Transfer to hot air balloon site is not included and can be added at an additional cost of $400. Due to popular demand, guests are encouraged to book in advance.

www.montaguehotel.com

Go Galapagos: It’s Survival of the Fittest

The Ecoventura!

The Ecoventura!

Looking for something cool to do this summer? How about survival of the fittest, baby?! In a voyage benefiting the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), a non-profit dedicated to ‘transforming the way the world travels,’ an 8-day, 7-night trip to the Galapagos will launch from August 5 – 12, 2012. What better way to explore the islands where Darwin first imagined his “Tree of Life” than with Darwin expert William Durham, Ph.D., CREST’s Co-Director and Bing Professor in Human Biology in the Department of Anthropology at none other than Stanford University.

Winner of the MacArthur “Genius” award for his contributions to the theory of human evolution (because evolution is so sexy), Bill is also the author of a 2012 chapter, “What Darwin Found Convincing in Galapagos” in a just-released symposium volume from the Darwin Station in Galapagos, and a 2008 chapter “Fishing for Solutions: Ecotourism and Conservation in Galapagos National Park.” He has led 27, yes, 27 voyages to the Galapagos, including one that recreated the “Voyage of the Beagle” in celebration of Darwin’s bicentennial. Nerd alert, I love it!

Bill Durham, Galapagos Tour Leader

Bill Durham, Galapagos Tour Leader

The itinerary for the Galapagos 2012 Charter Club Expedition has been jointly organized by CREST and, for those who like to swank it like me, the award winning eco-yacht operator, Ecoventura, to provide the most exciting Galapagos experience possible. Eco Yacht?!

Here is the itinerary* at a glance: 

Sunday:            Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL (airport)

                           La Galapaguera Cerro Colorado, SAN CRISTOBAL

Monday:          Prince Philip’s Steps (SN,PS,KY), GENOVESA (Tower)

                           Darwin Bay (SN, PR, KY), GENOVESA (Tower)

Tuesday:          Bachas Beach or Mosquera (SN)

                           North Seymour (SN, PR)

Wednesday:    Punta Espinosa (SN), FERNANDIA

                            Elizabeth Bay or Punta Moreno (PR, KY) ISABELA

Thursday:        Urbina Bay, ISABELA (SN, PR)

                            Tagus Cove, ISABELA (SN, PR, KY)

Friday:              Puerto Egas, SANTIAGO (SN)

                           Rabida Island (SN, PR, KY)

Saturday:         Darwin Station of Highlands of SANTA CRUZ

                           Santa Fe Island (SN, PR, KY)

Sunday:            Interpretation Center, SAN CRISTOBAL (airport)

*The order of visits may vary slightly depending on the yacht assigned.

SN= snorkel, KY= kayak, PR= panga (dingy) ride (passengers must often choose just one activity per site or as time permits).

Prices @$4,765 and includes all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, house wine and local beer with dinner, purified water and accommodations; in-country flights and transfers; a Captain’s welcome and farewell cocktail; guide services; shore excursions; use of wet suits, snorkeling equipment and sea kayaks; lectures and other scheduled activities.

For more details and the complete itinerary information,  click here or contact:

Catherine Ardagh

202-247-9203 ext 414

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