Posts Tagged ‘ecotours’

Honduras: An Eco-Resort’s Latest Organic Offering

The Lodge at Pico Bonito’s New Organic Spa and More…

Honduras Eco Hotel

Dinner at The Lodge at Pico Bonito (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

We’re back from the holidays and we’re already ready to plan our next vacation. You too? If getting back to the grind is inspiring daydreams of ditching it all for a trip away from it all, we have a great suggestion for you…

The majestic jungles of Honduras!

Because really… there’s nothing like being in the middle of the glorious jungle filled with over 40 different types of tropical butterflies, toucans, motmots, and miles of private trails through canyons, waterfalls, and swimming holes. If that’s not reason enough, how about a mystical Temazcal (Mayan sauna) in the center of the jungle to get your trip – and your soul – steered in the right direction?

The Pool at Pico Bonito

The Pool at Pico Bonito (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Temazcal, which comes from the Nahuatl Word temacalli, means ‘house of heat.’ Originating in the pre-Hispanic indigenous culture in Mesoamerica, legend has it that the dome shape of the steam house represents Mother Earth’s womb, and those taking part in a Temazcal are said to experience a rebirth.

Honduras’ top eco-resort, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, is inviting travelers to abandon the stresses of home, ignite a new outlook on life, and increase circulation of the senses with their new organic spa offerings and we think it sounds like an excellent idea. It’s also been named one of the top 50 eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler.

Honduras Eco Resort Lodge Pico Bonito

The Lodge at Pico Bonita’s Standard Room in the Center of the Jungle

The new outdoor spa, set to debut on January 15th, will have three circular cabins on stilts to maintain balance and harmony with the natural energies of the environment (one cabin for individual massage, one cabin for couples massage, one cabin with a Vichy shower, one Temazcal, and a nearby plunge pool).

Here some just a few deliciously organic spa offerings:

Revitalizing Cotinga, in the Temazcal, begins with an aromatic steam therapy to oxygenate the pores of your skin. The treatment continues in their Vichy shower with a pineapple exfoliation and a therapeutic anti-inflammatory chamomile mud wrap. (Note: Temazcal rituals need two people per session so bring along your partner for a truly liberating couples experience)

Aromatherapy, or Essential Oil therapy, is also on offer. Taking a holistic approach of using extracts from plants to balance, harmonize and improve the mind, body and soul by using essential oils such as spruce, rosewood spruce, rosewood, frankincense, and blue tansy. Detox relaxes muscles, improves circulation and relieves joint pain by using essential oils such basil, grapefruit, cypress, marjoram, mint, and lavender to drain and remove toxins.

Organic spa treatment

Organic Ingredients Good Enough to Eat!

Organic Fruit Facials incorporate seasonal fruits like cucumber, melon, banana, lychee, papaya, pineapple and passion fruit, along with cacao and honey, to refreshen your face. The best part? Their 50-minute facial only costs US $45. For those feeling even more romantic, there’s the Romantic Rio Coloradito Treatment, a lavender-fused massage to delete back and neck tensions from all those days sitting at the computer. It’s followed with a warm foot purification scrub (using honey and flowers for her and herbs for him) while sipping on a delicious tea from local fruits and aphrodisiac spices.

Honduran Rafting Excursion!

Honduran Rafting Excursion! (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

The eco-lodge is worth the escape alone. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World™, its five-star amenities are set on the edge of Honduras’ second largest National Park, ten miles from La Ceiba. There’s a trio of four-story observation decks overlooking the jungle canopy and adventures like white water rafting and jungle safaris through protected mangroves make it an unforgettable experience. Plus, with only 22 private cabins, it’s the perfect place to escape city life, in eco-chic style. 


Sustainable Cruising in the Galapagos

Sustainable Cruising on the Galapagos

Sustainable Cruising on MV Origin 

Sustainable cruising. It’s something we like to promote because, in addition to trains, it’s a great way to make the journey the destination. Plus, who doesn’t want to see big turtles in style? To that end, Ecoventura, a leader in sustainable cruising through the Galapagos Islands, has just announced inaugural departures for its newest premium class vessel, MV Origin, whose maiden voyage departs from San Cristobal Island on January 17, 2016. 
The newest and only vessel of its kind, MV Origin is positioned to redefine the cruising experience by combining modern sophistication with environmental responsibility, alternating between seven-night A & B itineraries to reduce the impact of visits to the islands’ most popular sites.  On January 17, MV Origin will join Ecoventura’s existing fleet on the B itinerary through the northwestern route. Its maiden voyage on the A itinerary departs on January 24, taking guests around the southern central route through the islands. Both itineraries include daily, personalized excursions with optional snorkel and kayak tours led by two onboard, certified naturalists.
A snapshot of the islands

A snapshot of the islands

The 20-passenger mega-yacht (we must admit, we love anything that marries sustainability… with mega-yachtdom) will feature 10 deluxe staterooms distributed throughout one deck, and a variety of onboard amenities designed especially for the discerning traveler. These will include locally inspired gourmet cuisine, and recreational equipment such as a Jacuzzi and fitness center. MV Origin will also feature expansive indoor and outdoor social and observation areas allowing for easy comfortable viewing of the islands’ unique scenery and topography.  
Rates for 2016 start at $6,500 per person, but are all inclusive. Based on double occupancy, that means all meals and snacks, Captain’s welcome and farewell cocktail, all alcoholic beverages, guided shore excursions, snorkel equipment and sea kayaks, as well as transfers in the islands between the airport and dock.

We think that sounds pretty pretty (Dar)winning to us!

Iceland’s Bill Chill Adventure

Iceland's Miraculous Northern Lights

Iceland’s Miraculous Northern Lights

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times before, but we are just a little bit obsessed with Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights.

So, when we heard that Dr. Sarah Aciego, the glaciochemist (yes, glaciochemist!) who pioneered isotope dating of ice cores at the University of Michigan and co-founder of Big Chill Adventures, was unveiling the company’s inaugural “Diamond Circle Tour” tour of Iceland, we had to let our readers know. Northern Lights sightings; exploring lava tubes, volcanic pillars, black sand dunes, stone forests, turf farmhouses, geothermal fields and active volcanoes; and stories of trolls and elves all highlight this unique Iceland adventure.
“High magnetic activity, long nights, and clear skies provide the highest chance of Northern Lights sightings all year long,” said Aciego. “The remnants of past volcanic eruptions provide caves and unique geologic formations, while the heat of the active volcanic fields combined with the meltwater from the glaciers create geothermal phenomenon unrivaled throughout the world.”

Day 1, September 21
Tour the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field and Fljótstunga Farm. Explore the largest lava tube cave in Iceland, Viðgelmir. Meet some Icelandic Horses, take the Lava Circle Walk and possibly see some migrating whooper swans.

Day 2, September 22
Spend the morning visiting trolls — first a drive to 3,300 foot tall Tröllakirkja “Church of the Trolls” and then onto the largest saltwater lagoon in Iceland where guests will investigate black sand dunes.

Day 3, September 23
Travel to Glaumbær Farm to tour traditional turf farmhouses built in 900 A.D. Dine in Akureyri, the largest “city” in northern Iceland, before traveling to the Goðafoss waterfall.

Day 4, September 24
Tour the geologically diverse and spectacular Northeast of Iceland. Continue on to Vesturdalur walking trails and the strange basalt rock formations of Hljóðaklettar, which means “echoing rocks”.

Day 5, September 25
Explore the geothermal field of Hverir, with steaming vents, hissing chimneys and bubbling hot pots of mud. Trek around Lake Myvátn toward the Sigurgeir Bird Museum. Climb Vindbelgjarfjall with spectacular views of the lake from the top.

Day 6, September 26
Visit the “Black Castles” of Dimmuborgir, a huge 2,300 year-old field of twisted volcanic pillars, tunnels and arches made of coagulated rock. Drive to Akureyri, with time to enjoy some lunch before departing for Reykjavik.

The 6-day/7-night tour departs September 20, 2015 and starts at $3,850 per person.

For more information on this Iceland holiday or other tours to Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian Rockies:

Is Biking The New Running?


The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand

We’re starting to really see a trend – a demand for vacations that feature a bicycling component and while May is National Bike Month, we’re seeing trips for cycling enthusiasts pop up from Nantucket to New Zealand.  Adventure travelers are now seeking an endurance challenge that long-distance cycling provides; it’s no longer just about a quick-fix adrenaline rush.  Others enjoy biking as a way to stay fit on a vacation while exploring the destination. (Is it perhaps the death of the hotel fitness center?) By riding through a locale, travelers have the opportunity to meet new people, feel the fresh air, see the scenery, and venture off the beaten path.

Be it a Bhutan trek or a brewery tour, itineraries exist to suit all interests.

Here are some to inspire you!

1)      Cycle from Mountains to Monasteries

To fully engage with the Kingdom of Bhutan, its people, culture, and landscapes, there are few better ways than by bike.  One can bike the 350 miles between COMO’s two Bhutan properties, Uma Punakha and Uma Paro.  Highlights include the first designated mountain biking trail in Bhutan, a descent from the highest road pass in the country, a roundtrip ride in the magical Phobjikha valley, and cultural rides in the Paro, Punakha, and Haa Valleys.

Bike & Brew in Nantucket

Bike & Brew in Nantucket

2)      Bike and Brew on Nantucket

For bikers and beer enthusiasts, The White Elephant Village and The Wauwinet offer a “Bike and Brew” package for two that includes a two-night stay in a one bedroom residence overlooking the stunning Nantucket Bay, bike rental, tour of the local Cisco brewery, and a picnic to go.

3)      Heli-Bike in New Zealand 

Bikers at the Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown, New Zealand, can ride on the same trails as the world’s top mountain bikers by heli-biking.  Guests are flown to the mountains above Queenstown and are given the freedom to ride down at their own pace.

4)      6,000 Acres of Bike Trails on The Farm

While Queenstown caters to the thrill-seeking crowd, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in the Hawke’s Bay of New Zealand offers three diverse trails across 6,000 acres of sheep farm, coastline, wetland, and wineries.

5)      Mountain Bike Treasure Hunt

Explore The New Forest, the original hunting ground of William the Conqueror, by taking part in a treasure hunt.  Chewton Glen in Hampshire, England, offers themed treasure hunts for teams of up to eight people, all armed with mission packs containing clues, photo challenges, digital cameras, and maps.  Treasure hunt themes include “The Olympic Challenge” and “The Italian Job.”

6)      Aquabiking: St. Barth’s Answer to Spinning

Sibarth, the trend-setting villa rental company on St. Barth, is now leading the latest fitness trend, aquabiking.  The underwater fitness equipment tones muscles with minimal joint strain.  Instructor Jean Marc Outil leads in-villa and pool sessions that involve a series of cycling rhythms set to his specially selected tunes.


Sibarth’s Aquabiking

7)      Bike Valet in Napa

Napa Valley visitors can experience miles of vineyards from the seat of a bike rather than through the window of a car.  Many Napa Valley hotels such as Solage CalistogaBardessonoAuberge du Soleil, and Villagio Inn offer complimentary bicycle rentals to guests, and some area resorts, restaurants, and other venues offer a bicycle valet service so that biking does not hinder the ability to shop along the way.  Many tour operators offer organized packages and guided bicycle excursions that include pick-up and delivery of wine purchases.

8)      Biking Adventure by Day, Casinos and Musical Performances by Night

Crystal Cruises offers offshore biking excursions, available for different age groups and skill levels, that feature historical monuments and famous restaurants.  New for 2013 is the “Montenegro Bicycle Discovery.”  Guests on this trek ride through olive groves with backdrop views of the Adriatic Sea and the bays of Herceg Novi and Tivat.  Along the way, bikers enjoy lunch at a restaurant with local specialties and panoramic bay views.

Bike Paris? Oui.

Bike Paris? Oui.

9)      Bike like a Local in Paris

Pavillon des Lettres and Pavillon de la Reine make it easy for guests to take advantage of the many bike routes throughout Paris with their complimentary bike service.  Parisians have long been infatuated with biking.  It has grown even more popular since the city implemented its bike-sharing service that provides 20,000 bikes and 1,800 stands that are available twenty-four hours a day.  Join the groups of fashionable Parisian cyclists on a ride along the Seine or through the Marais.

10)   Biking Globe Trekkers Choose Park Hyatt

Spin the globe and land at one of the 31 Park Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide.  The Park Hyatt Bicycle Valet Program invites guests to uncover the city’s best sites with the use of a bicycle and the following amenities, a lock, helmet, lights, pump, kickstand, bottled water, and biking maps.  From Beaver Creek to Sydney, bikers can explore their natural surroundings and find a shady spot to enjoy a gourmet picnic basket provided by Park Hyatt.

Fun Fact: According to a study in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal, just FIVE minutes of exercise in a green space can improve mood and self-esteem.

Eco-Costa Rica: The Sanctuary at Two Rivers

Morning Yoga at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers

Morning Yoga at The Sanctuary at Two River

Sanctuary at Two Rivers is calling you…. OMmmmm. In addition to spending our youth in the jungles and rivers of Costa Rica, a friend of ours recently moved to that glorious land and it brought to mind all of the amazing natural health & wellness retreats currently available.  There’s little better than a yoga retreat and eco-vacation located on a private luxury-modern eco-estate hidden in the wildness of Costa Rica. Imagine journeying with a group or friend to 40 pure and luxurious acres of breathtaking jungle, contemplative gardens, and invigorating water preserved for each person to commune with nature, practice yoga, meditate, and find balance.

Did you picture yourself there?

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary


This tropical paradise hosts private retreats or family gatherings of up to 14 people and incorporates a true eco-conscious lifestyle that includes 100% off-the-grid living; modern tree-house accommodations; a contemplative Yoga Center; organic gourmet vegetarian cuisine; pure drinking water (right from the source); no urban or suburban noise pollution; a infusion of yoga, meditation, wellness & spiritual healing; adventurous nature-based and local community excursions; and is located only 1,000 yards from the Pacific Ocean.

Did we mention the delicious organic fare?

Did we mention the delicious organic fare?

Price ranges are $1400-$1800 depending on hi or low season and whether it is an in-house retreat or a teacher bringing students.

So get your Pura Vida Om on.

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

The Best Luxe Eco-Trip for Families: The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi

Now THAT's a view. A Luxury Beach Villa at The Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

Ever since Clark Griswold packed his wife and kids into a ramshackle station wagon, family trips have conjured images of National Lampoon’s Vacation: restless kids and frustrated parents cooped up in a confined space. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, families live like Malaysian royalty in luxury Beach Villas, complete with a private garden and plunge pool, and just steps from the white sand beaches of the Andaman Sea. And though there’s plenty of time for R ‘n R, this isn’t your typical “fly and flop” destination.

The Reflection Pool - in case you and your honey feel like stretching out the family kinks while your kids are playing at The Kids for All Seasons Club

And just in case you want to discover more about each other, you can also explore a series of adrenaline-fueled eco-activities on land and sea. Take your little monkeys on the Mangrove & Monkey Safari, where you’ll go deep into the Kilim Karst UNESCO Geopark and get up close and personal with eagles, monkeys, bats and even otters. Or, cast sail for the Secrets of the Sea tour, which takes you to the folklore-rich Cave of Legends and then on a swim under secluded waterfalls.

Langkawi Falls

The activity doesn’t stop back “home” at your 2,369-square-foot Villa, either — it’s equipped with toys, board games, a PS3 console and even sandcastle-making kits. Of course, The Kids For All Seasons club is ready to keep the kids busy while mom and dad nap on the outdoor daybed, with kite-making, yoga and nature excursions.

“Sign us up!” you say?

Here’s a link to booking your Family Beach Villa at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi where you can turn “Are we there yet?” into “I don’t wanna leave yet!”

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