Archive for the ‘yoga retreats’ Category

Best Destinations for Ecotourism

Montserrat Volcano

Montserrat Volcano

Ecotourism is no longer trend that started in the 90’s to describe responsible travel to largely untouched areas. Now, it has largely realized its aim by creating an industry of conservation that offers clear benefits to the local community.  Recently, it’s become even more popular as traveler demand has driven a desire for destinations that are eco-friendly and modeled after sustainable practices. Plus, there’s nature and for those who can afford it, they want to escape. These destinations also often offer a bit more in terms of cultural activities and a means to learn more about the soul enriching ways of a local community.

With this in mind, we’re featuring three destinations that inspire: Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica –  with unspoiled beaches, uninhabited areas, and archeological sites that can only be accessed by hiking, biking or kayaking.

Lime Tree Cottage 1

Lime Tree Cottage – Montserrat

MONTSERRAT

With its mountainous terrain, hiking the trails on Montserrat is the best way to see the untouched areas of the island. Additionally, diving excursions allow visitors the unique opportunity to see beautiful volcanic rock formations and vibrant marine life that now thrives after the 1995 eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano.

Montserrat’s villas offer prime accommodations for couples, families, friends and even colleagues who long for an affordable upmarket Caribbean getaway with all the amenities of home. The secluded destination provide visitors with the ideal opportunity to experience a traditional Caribbean vacation in tranquil surroundings and away from large chain resorts, crowded beaches and traffic-jammed streets.

Most of the villas offer airport and ferry transfers, car rentals, stocked kitchens, housekeepers, baby-sitting services, cooks, and  villa-specific organized activities during your stay.

http://www.visitmontserrat.com/villas/

Rates start @USD $1,000/per week

From mid-April through mid-November for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa with a housekeeper, swimming pool, wet bar, wireless internet, washer and dryer. These villas are perfect for visitors looking to immerse in Montserrat’s volcano-viewing experience (considered a modern-day Pompeii), rich Irish heritage, bird-watching, hiking trails, aquatic adventures and more.

Argyle Waterfall_Main Ridge Rainforest

Argyle Waterfall – Trinidad & Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Unlike its Caribbean counterparts, Trinidad & Tobago’s biodiversity is most similar to that of Venezuela. The best way to see its local flora and fauna is by hiking through its many trails, especially the Northern Mountain Range of Trinidad that was once attached to South America and the Main Ridge Rainforest in Tobago, the oldest protected reserve in the western hemisphere. The underwater scenery in Tobago is just as spectacular as it boasts more than 300 different species of coral, especially the largest brain coral in the world.

brain coral - credit Oswin Browne.jpg

Brain Coral (c) Oswin Browne

Acajou Hotel, Trinidad

This small, eco-friendly, family run hotel is situated in a little fishing village called Grande Riviere located on the beautiful and dramatic northern Coast of Trinidad. Flanked by the wide expanse of vegetation on the steep hills of the Northern range, Acajou (the French for ‘tropical wood’) offers travelers the opportunity to be one with nature, view it’s beauty in its simple majesty, rest to the soothing rhythms of the ocean, meditate on its treasures or simply have a unique candlelight dinner. The hotel is built as a group of traditional cottages nestled between the beach, a crystal clear river and mountains covered by lush rainforest. Influenced by Indonesian, Polynesian and Japanese architecture, the cabins are made of local and imported woods, including bamboo and are designed to create a feeling of complete privacy.

www.acajoutrinidad.com or call 868.670.3771

Asa Wright Nature Center Lodge, Trinidad

The original estate house of the former coffee-cocoa-citrus plantation has been beautifully remodeled over the years as a comfortable headquarters where guests gather to watch the incredible bird-life from the fabled verandah. Your observation time there is punctuated by a high tea in the afternoon and ends with a traditional complimentary rum punch cocktail as the sun sets over the Arima Valley. This main house and its several cottages nestled nearby in the lush flower-filled grounds are your home for one of the world’s best birding adventures. Not your classic Caribbean resort, the Centre’s “swimming pool” is a natural grotto on a free-running rain forest stream where guests can relax and escape from the tropical heat. All of the cottages feature rooms with private verandahs and guests can also retreat to their private oasis to observe the brilliantly colored birds found on the Centre grounds.

www.asawright.org

Cuffie River Nature Retreat and Ecolodge, Tobago

Located on the island of Tobago, this small yet intimate lodge is equipped with ten rooms, two of which are executive suites. Each has been tastefully furnished with private balcony. The design of the building has been carefully chosen to facilitate natural lights and air currents. Low wattage bulbs and solar lighting are also used throughout the grounds.  Conservation of water is of great importance given that the property uses rain and spring fed systems and successful practices have included short flushing toilets, rationalized washing and towel changes only when indicated by guests. To further maintain its natural ambiance smooth faced clay blocks and tile are used while furniture and other fixtures are all made from locally manufactured products. The lodge is situated on the edge of Tobago’s forest-the oldest in the western hemisphere. It is surrounded by bamboo groves, fresh water springs, exotic flowers and wildlife.

www.cuffieriver.com or call 868.660.0505

Footprints Eco Resort and Spa, Tobago

This 62-acre property is a designated nature preserve with hiking and bird watching trails galore. With the use of materials such as teak, wallaba slabs, and native recycled hardwood the resort has maximized the consumption of local, yet natural building materials. All rooms are equipped with solar water heaters, gas stoves and photovoltaic lighting. The hotel grows fresh organic herbs and vegetables throughout the property and prepares breads, ice creams, cakes, sauces, and even condiments, fresh daily. Surrounded by the virtually untouched Culloden Reef that begins a few feet from the shoreline of the property and is available for guests to snorkel and scuba dive, the resort offers the comfort of a modern hotel in a purely natural setting.

http://footprintsecoresort.com 

Footprints also makes properties as environmentally sensitive, and in connection with our environment, as possible by:

• Using traditional architecture, and reclaimed, recycled and local materials to a maximum

• Waste management  for grey water, runoff water, sewerage waste, and solid waste

• Fresh water conservation measures including sea water pools

• Kitchen waste and yard waste composting to reduce solid waste and provide organic fertilizer for gardens

• In-house organic garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, chicken, and honey for restaurant use to reduce food miles

• Bird and butterfly gardens with local wildflowers, fruit, food, and forest trees to attract wildlife and support the recovery of beneficial insects, such as butterflies and honeybees

• Support for local fishermen and farmers by showcasing local ingredients and traditional cuisine.

As they say, “Food shares the story of our culture through a medium that everyone can enjoy.”

Kariwak Holistic Haven Hotel, Tobago

A holistic haven and hotel, Kariwak Village has carved a distinctive niche with its award winning 2 acre garden bursting with tropical shrubs, foliage and flowering trees filled with bird song, dominated by the thatched roof ajoupa and its teak floor … the venue for Tai Chi, yoga, gentle stretching exercises, Buddhist meditation sessions and similar holistic activities. The Kariwak kitchen is supplied with abundant fresh herbs from the garden, those same herbs are lovingly transformed into delicious Caribbean meals which are served with a friendly smile in the open air restaurant.

www.kariwak.com or call 868.639.8442

Diving in Costa Rica

Diving in Costa Rica

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s ecotourism is one that enthusiasts cannot miss, featuring lush forests, thriving ecosystems and breathtaking waterfalls only accessible by foot. Just like Montserrat, Costa Rica has underwater volcanic rock formations which are home to various species of fish, rays, turtles and white-tip reef sharks alongside vibrant coral reefs.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of Costa Rica’s tourism industry. For that reason, the Costa Rica Tourism Board introduced the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program in 1997. This program differentiates businesses of the tourism sector based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, social and economic resource management. Visitors who choose to visit CST designated tourism companies such as hotels, tour operators and car rental companies support businesses that take proactive measures to avoid the negative impacts on the environment, culture and society. There are currently 346 hotel, tour operators, car rental agencies and theme parks certified under the program here, so check it out!

http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/sostenibilidad.asp?tab=0

Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa: Lose Weight and Get Healthy with the Best

Delicious healthy cuisine

Delicious healthy cuisine

We’re always keen to find out the best local and global retreats for health and wellness. So, one of the big names who doesn’t get enough attention these days is the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, a 650-acre private wellness spa and weight loss health program located in Miami, Fla., complete with exceptional fitness trainers, award-winning chefs, nutritionists and renowned spa treatments. The center boosts tons of experts from health to nutrition and fitness to spa and wellness. People from all over the world travel to Pritikin to get their health back on track and get their bodies back in shape oasis near the warm beaches of South Florida. Spacious suites, gourmet meals, access to six board-certified physicians, a fully equipped gym with class offerings, healthy living education — you get it all. Pritikin is your escape to a better, healthier you. Especially when your goal is to overcome struggles with weight loss, diabetes, heart disease and more. With tailored programs to match your health needs, Pritikin makes it easy for you to choose a plan that fits your goals, while learning how to sustain weight loss and lifestyle changes.

Standard Double Accommodations

Standard Double Accommodations

With more than 35 years of experience as a premier health and wellness resort, Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa has become the longest-running and most successful program preventing and reversing health problems. Programs range from an all-inclusive one- or two-week program to specialty programs like:

  • Pritikin ICR: Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab
  • Weekend Health Retreats
  • Healthy Cooking 101
  • Diabetes Retreat
  • Women’s Health
  • Family Health Camp
  • Back to U – Pritikin University
  • Culinary University and more

A weeklong all-inclusive retreat with three meals a day, classes, and consultation is approximately $4,200/week.

www.pritikin.com

COMO’s Latest in the Maldives: Maalifushi by COMO

maldives overwater bungalow

COMO Maalifushi Overwater Bungalow 

Now this is how to vacation in style. From one of our favorite hospitality groups, COMO Hotels and Resorts, has just introduced Maalifushi by COMO, a new property in the glorious Maldives. On the main resort island, tropical vegetation featuring exotic birds provides lush “curtains” for private rooms, suites, and villas, as well as Maalifushi’s ‘Madi’ restaurant, ‘Thila’ pool bar and lounge. Overwater accommodations, including a number of luxury suites and villas with private pools, as well as ‘Tai’ restaurant, can be found on the west of the island, all offering uninterrupted views across the ocean.  

Interiors throughout the resort are by Japanese designer Koichiro Ikebuchi; they bear the hallmarks of COMO’s signature, pared-back style, with locally sourced materials, natural light, and open vistas taking center stage. Officially open June 2014, the 20-acre secluded retreat and private island is the company’s second resort in the Maldives, and its first in the untouched Thaa atoll. Its sister property, Cocoa Island by COMO, located further north in the South Malé atoll, opened in 2002.

maldives como

Koichiro Ikebuchi’s locally sourced, natural style

The 66-room property’s overwater bungaloos are a shoe in for couples, while their garden accommodations are ideal for families with small children. The island’s white sand and bright turquoise lagoons are surrounded by a string of uninhabited islands, including another small piece of land belonging to the resort that can be booked for castaway picnics and romantic private dinners. I mean…M? Can life be this good? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. 

Rates begin at $650 per night for a Garden Room

DIVING

Underwater, the Thaa atoll is a range of untouched corals, attracting a host of colorful reef fish and sea creatures. The area offers opportunities to spot Hammerhead and Whale Sharks, a rare treat for dive enthusiasts.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Three expansive, two-bedroom overwater COMO Villas
  • ‘Madi’ restaurant featuring all-day international, Maldivian, and healthful COMO Shambhala Cuisine
  • COMO Shambhala Retreat spa with gym, eight overwater treatment rooms, and yoga pavilion
  • On-island Dive Center and guided diving excursions led by a Marine Biologist and certified PADI instructors
  • Activities and excursions including dolphin cruises, fishing, snorkeling, and sailing

GETTING THERE

Maalifushi by COMO can be reached by a 50-minute seaplane ride from the Maldives’s main airport at Malé.

www.comohotels.com/maalifushi

In Need of a Zen Retreat? Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the Oldest Zen Monastery in the US, is Your Spot

A Yurt on the Tassajara Grounds

A Yurt on the Tassajara Grounds (c) David Silva

We have a thing for yurts. And, when you take a yurt and throw in some yoga, tasty vegetarian cuisine, and coursework with spiritual leaders helping you on the pathway to mindful living, what’s not to dig? To that end, every year, most people don’t know that the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center opens its doors to the general public for an annual guest season from May 1 – September 14, 2014. Zen and meditation seekers, yoga lovers, artisan foodies, and everyday people looking to unplug and rejuvenate are invited to experience a truly serene environment at Tassajara, the most remote and oldest Zen monastery in the United States, located 25 miles southeast of Big Sur, CA.
The Stone Room

The Stone Room (c) Ben Guevara

For the 2014 guest season, the Tassajara Program Schedule 2014 will offer up retreats in six specialty areas, all led by some of today’s leading teachers: Body and Mind, Mindful Living, Creative Expression, Engaging Earth, Spiritual Practice, and Zen Study & Practice.
Fine vegetarian cuisine

Fine vegetarian cuisine (c) Margo Moritz

This includes sessions/retreats that focus on all or some of the following: yoga, healing, culinary arts, and reawakening your wellspring of creative action by letting gifted artists help you become more open, confident, daring through words, movement, sounds, images, or the surprisingly powerful traditional ink brush.
Calligraphy (c) Mitsue Nagase

Calligraphy  retreat (c) Mitsue Nagase

Standout retreat leaders for the 2014 guest season include Zoketsu Norman Fischer (Poet, Author, Zen Buddhist Priest), Jane Hirshfield (Internationally Renowned Poet), Dale Kent (Author, Tassajara: Dinner and Desserts), Andrew Mellen (Author, More Love, Less Stuff), Marc Lesser (Google Meditation Workshops, CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute), Sessei Meg Levie (Google Meditation Workshops, Zen Buddhist Priest and Life Coach), Janet Stone (Celebrity Vinyasa Yoga Instructor), Donald Moyer (Founding Director, The Yoga Room, Berkeley, CA), and many others.
So go zen, mini-gurus.
 
Weekend rates for shared dorms start at $121 and private cabins and yurts from $267.

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