Archive for August, 2012

Silk Roads, Wine, and a Black Sea Tour of Georgia (The Country, Fellas)

A view of Georgia

A view of Georgia

Apparently, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Georgia is little known as a tourist mecca, but that’s what makes it all the more unique. Known for it’s wine and lush clear mountains, she’s a country nestled between Russia and Turkey in the Caucasus. A rich blend of Eurasian architecture, beautiful Black Sea coast, and enticing wine regions, arguably the oldest in the world, this makes it an absolutely essential part of your next itinerary. And thanks to Silk Road Treasure Tours, travel specialists in destinations along the ancient Silk Routes, you can spend 8 days uncovering 8,000 years of wine-making traditions on its new “Wine and Black Sea Tour of Georgia.” We do love our wine…

A vineyard in Georgia awaits...

A vineyard in Georgia awaits…

Whether it’s the vintage wines of Georgia’s five renowned growing regions or the architectural marvels that strike your fancy, you’ll be able to visit the traditional wineries of farmers in Kakheti and Kartli (sounds like the characters from Game of Thrones) to learn about wine production, or eight thousand year old storage methods invoking hand-crafted “Qvevri” (clay jars), and taste various wines in the vineyards of an American artist (Pheasant’s Tears), the modern winery of a German industrialist (Shuchmann Wines) and the cool cellars of Georgia’s ancient Alaverdi monastery. If your fancy runs to ancient myth, you will fall in love with Kutasi, the town of the legendary Golden Fleece, and Adjara, a small town along the Black Sea that’s home to the Gonio fortress, also linked to the tale of Jason and the Argonauts. Or you can simply breathe in the beauty of the UNESCO-famed Jvari and Svetitskhoveli cathedrals and admire the multicolored balconies of Tbilisi, while wandering the narrow streets of Georgia’s capital, which will earn you ample relaxation time in the sulfur baths known to have made an unforgettable impression on the likes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Dumas.

Small group tours are offered with seven departure dates from August 18, 2012 to July 2013, starting at just $3,400 per person and we think that’s swell enough to swig.

Eco-Friendly Vacations in Upstate New York

The View from Saratoga Springs Farmstead B&B

The View from Saratoga Springs Farmstead B&B


I have family in upstate New York so when I came across some information about Saratoga, I wanted to spread the word. A great place to be green, the city has bike rentals like Blue Sky Bicycles and Elevate Cycles, as well as natural mineral springs to take a therapeutic dip at Saratoga Spa State Park, a 2,000 acre oasis. Accommodations include quaint B&B’s to well-known chains. We love the quaint B&B’s ourselves so take a look at the link below for some great suggestions and start planning your trip!

Eco-Friendly Vacations in Upstate New York

Full Moon Hikes, Red Rock Jeep Tours, Wine, and Qi Gong… Sign me up!

Mountains of Sedona

Mountains of Sedona

If you’re planning a girls’ getaway, think outside the box this time and head to the raw red rocks of Sedona, AZ for a truly unforgettable experience. The “Wild West” is no longer the perilous destination that tested the mettle of pioneer women.  No, sir. The sweet city of Sedona offers the best of food, wine, spa treatments, galleries, shops (zen crystals and palm readings, anyone?), outdoor adventures, all within one of the most beautiful and inspirational natural settings to “girls” of all ages. Whether it’s a Girlfriends’ Getaway, Mother-Daughter retreat, Female Family Reunion – Sedona is idyllic.
El Portal - Sedona Exterior

El Portal – Sedona Exterior

One fantastic home base for a girls’ getaway in Sedona is El Portal Sedona Hotel.  This 12 room luxury boutique hotel offers truly personalized concierge services for Sedona and area, spectacular gourmet breakfasts and spacious Sedona accommodations. Guests appreciate the attention to detail in the stunning turn of the century Southwestern design, as well as the fact suites feature all modern amenities. Each guest suite includes a private entrance, patio or balcony, fireplace, whirlpool bath, entertainment center with DVD player, free wireless and more. (It is a pet friendly Sedona hotel with never a fee for pets, and offers free pet sitting).
El Portal Lobby

El Portal Lobby

After settling in at El Portal, a quick trip into town will introduce girls to an array of shops and galleries, including Sedona Wineworks and The Art of Wine.  This wine shop and tasting room features Arizona wines and wine-inspired original artwork, and is open for tasting seven days a week.  After sampling some unique wines, head to Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village to browse in the shops and galleries, then relax over dinner at Rene’s or El Rincon, both just steps away from El Portal. After reconnecting over a great meal, make yourself at home back at El Portal with a glass of wine (and complimentary chocolate-chip cookies) around the campfire or on your a private patio or balcony. Taking a look back at women’s history in Arizona is a great way to celebrate the bonds of friendship while in Sedona. Through Labor Day, the Sedona Heritage Museum will be featuring the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail traveling exhibit, which is a celebration of women who have made significant contributions and left a lasting mark on Arizona.
El Portal Courtyard

El Portal Courtyard

Sun Country Adventures jeep tours of Sedona also allow girlfriends to connect with the rich landscape in a unique way, exploring seldom seen parts of the area on exhilarating jeep rides. Sun Country tour guides work with visitors to incorporate yoga or Qi Gong, meditation and ceremony if desired on customized hikes. Guests at El Portal Sedona Hotel can arrange full moon hikes, sunset hikes, hikes to high places, exhilarating and challenging hikes, as well as gentle hikes suitable for beginners. El Portal will even pack picnic lunches or arrange cowgirl cookouts.
Sun Country Adventures - Sedona Jeep Tour

Sun Country Adventures – Sedona Jeep Tour

One of the most popular hiking destinations in the area is Sedona’s majestic Red Rock State Park.  The park is a 286-acre preserve and environmental education center with breathtaking scenery of red rock and flowing water.  Unusual local rock formations such as Devil’s Bridge, which is considered the largest natural arch in the Sedona area, are great hiking destinations. Devil’s Bridge features dramatic views of the canyons, mountains and red rock cliffs from atop the cracked and fractured sandstone arch. The trail utilizes natural rocks as stairs to the top of the arch, making the trail suitable for hikers of most abilities and a great spot for memorable photos.
Of course, no girls’ trip is complete without spa treatments.  Guests of El Portal Sedona Hotel can walk over to Sedona Spa to indulge in everything from facials to massages and full-body treatments. These are just a few of the activities you can include in a unique and memorable girls’ getaway. Sedona offers biking, golf, musical performances, wine tours, hot air balloon rides and much more.  Contact El Portal Sedona for assistance in “rocking” the ideal girls’ trip.

About the Author: Wendy Rubicam is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Las Vegas, NV.  Wendy specializes in all things written for a wide variety of business clients, as well as freelance feature stories for magazines. Find out more about Wendy at

Eco-Tourism at Brazil’s Secretly Stunning Beaches

Brazil Best Beaches - Fernando-de-Noronha-Brazil-1

Brazil’s Secret Stunning Beach and Wildlife – Fernando de Noronha

Noronha, Brazil

We recently heard about this little piece of relatively unknown heaven by Adriana Schmidt Raub, an accomplished eco-tourism hospitality professional (and Sao Paolo native) who founded Your Way, an ecotourism agency, in 2001 for the independent foreign traveler interested in discovering this little secret island in the northeast of Brazil.

Why Noronha, you ask?

Filet of Dorado at Mergulahao, Noronha's #1 Restaurant TripAdvisor

Filet of Dorado at Mergulahao, Noronha’s #1 Restaurant TripAdvisor

“Well, I noticed that international travelers would come and leave the island without fully discovering what Noronha truly had to offer simply because of the language barrier!” she smiles. So, armed with a passion for her Brazilian beauty – and a Hospitality Degree from Cornell – she ambitiously decided to move there and be the bridge between independent foreign travelers and the local tourism community of Noronha.

Leao Beach

Leao Beach

Over the last 10 years, Your Way has become the essential link between foreign visitors to Fernando de Noronha and the island’s local community and are 100% unbiased as they’re not directly associated with any business in town. They periodically visit and pick what’s best within each traveler’s budget. Because of their good relationship with local suppliers, oftentimes, they’re also able to offer last-minute updated tips and even better rates than what’s available. To get there, you take a flight to Recife and then from there a short flight to Noronha which costs about $550 RT. Rooms can range from $70 on the lowest end (which is modest yet clean) to $500 on the highest end (so quite a range).

Budget Accomodations @ $75-$100/night

Budget Accomodations @ $75-$100/night

Noronha’s world-class SCUBA diving originally drew Adriana to its shores as a regular tourist, but by the end of each dive vacation, she found herself spending more and more time helping foreign visitors navigate Noronha’s distinctive environment than actually diving. “There were a few local companies working with regular packaged tours back then but I was never a fan of packages as I felt they would include unnecessary items just to make it seem like clients were getting a good deal. I always preferred to pick and chose according to my own preferences, like having my own menu of options and starting from there… After my visit, I decided to move to Noronha and properly assist future travelers with the planning process of their trips to this unique island,” Schmidt reveals.

When looking for hotels and such, I definitely was definitely hard pressed to find websites and contact info for quaint rentals or B&B’s and she really does know a range of properties that often don’t have websites and range from: Budget and moderate to higher end pension-type accommodations. If you’re looking for something distinctly Brazilian and a shockingly undiscovered piece of awesomeness, this sweet island is worth your Reais.

Adriana Schmidt - Founder of Your Way Brazil

Adriana Schmidt – Founder of Your Way Brazil

Adriana Schmidt
Cell  Sao Paulo (Adriana): 55-11-6357 6677
Cell Noronha: 55-81-9949 1087
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