Harbor View Hotel on Martha’s Vineyard, an official hotel sponsor of the 14th annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival that runs March 13-16, is offering filmgoers two all-access packages. Throughout the festival, guests can go to screenings of more than 20 films, post-screening talks, live music, food and children’s activities, at a starting rate of $439 for the Festival Pass package. Starting at $639, The Couch VIP Pass package provides preferred seating on a couch in each theater. Both packages include a two-night stay, including taxes and guaranteed access to all films.
Films include “Fading Gigolo,” with Sofia Vergara, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone and John Turturro; “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory,” a documentary showing the positive effect of music on Alzheimer’s patients; and “Shored Up,” which focuses on issues surrounding East Coast communities dealing with coastal erosion and rising sea levels. For package info and reservations, visit www.harbor-view.com or call 800-225-6005, and for info on the festival, visit www.tmvff.org
If you find yourself in Maine through March 10 and get hungry, consider the sixth annual Maine Restaurant Week, with more than 100 restaurants offering pre-fixe menus at set prices, $25, $35, $45, and $55. To find the complete list and breakdown, visit www.mainerestaurantweek.com, or check out a free mobile app for iPhone users, the MRW App.
"No artificial ingredients" gives way to essential in Costa Rica. The Costa Rica Tourism Board officially unveiled the country’s new brand, “essential Costa Rica,” at the New York Times Travel Show recently, replacing the ingredients tag. It is one the board hopes will not just shine the tourism light on the Central American country, but used as a tool to attract international investors and boost foreign trade.
“The brand is an opportunity for us to present a comprehensive look at our evolving nation and share attributes that visitors may find surprising,” said Costa Rica Tourism Board General Manager, Juan Carlos Borbón.
The launch was five years in the making, undergoing four phases of research and development which included analyzing the travel market and Costa Rica’s place in it, and using focus groups to determine the favored brand. The initiative, which cost $650,000, was led by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, the country’s ministry of foreign trade and the Foreign Trade Promoter, Borbon said, with the brand and logo done by Future Brand.
If you’re an Olympics fan, you may have seen it. It was first introduced during commercials during the 2014 games in Sochi, and will appear on labels and tags of all tourism-related marketing materials as well as many of Costa Rica’s top imports
For information on the country, go to www.visitcostarica.com
FlightCar, said to be the world’s first peer-to-peer car-sharing company to run at airports, launched a new business-traveler service, which began in Boston Feb. 4. The new option gives business travelers who typically expense their parking to pay $15 a day for airport parking, while earning up to 50 cents per mile when their car is rented. Company officials said this builds on the success of offering travelers a free airport parking option near Logan International and in San Francisco and Los Angeles that pays 20 cents a mile.
“While many of our car-sharing customers love the option of free airport parking, we’ve had a lot of requests from members who are business travelers for an additional option to get cheap parking rates yet a higher mileage reimbursement,” said Rujul Zaparde, FlightCar CEO and founder. “We’re answering the demand and giving frequent business travelers who treat their parking as a business expense an opportunity to turn their unused vehicle parked at the airport into a personal revenue generator.”
FlightCar introduced its car-sharing service a year ago and now has more than 13,000 members, nearly half of which have parked at lots in the three cities it services. FlightCar also offers free GPS, car seats and liability insurance up to $1 million. The service drops off and picks up car sharers and renters free of charge at terminals. Free parking and a car wash are offered even when a car sharer’s vehicle isn’t rented. Officials said with users averaging around 60 miles a day, the business traveler service can make frequent travelers who use it about $120 a week.
For full info, visit www.flightcar.com
It’s never too soon to start thinking about golf, particularly this time of year. Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort in Jamaica and Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma, Bahamas, have a deal going for groups of golfers. Both offer a 12th room free (four-night minimum booking in second room category or higher), with Sandals Grande Riviera, the newest resort in Ocho Rios, mandating travel dates from Sept. 1-Dec. 14, this year and 2015 and 2016, and Sandals Emerald Bay dates of September to February for the same years. Check it out at www.sandals.com/golf
In Boulder, St. Julien Hotel & Spa, a Four-Diamond AAA and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort, book between now and May 4 for a weekend package (starting at $539) and get the room; two 50-minute classic massages at the spa; a bottle of wine on arrival; and $40 credit for dining at Jill’s Restaurant or room service. For information, visit www.stjulien.com
Marriott Caribbean & Latin American Resorts, a collection of 11 top luxury resorts in the tropics, is offering 30-percent off its leisure rates for travel from April 1-July 31. Reservations must be made by Feb. 28 using the promo code, 5CL. Participating hotels include the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino and Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort. For a full listing and info, visit www.paradisebymarriott.com/goodbye-winter-hello-savings
This is the 70th anniversary year of the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings in France, arguably the most famous military invasion in recorded history and the turning point in World War II. CroisiEurope is marking the occasion with a day-long optional excursion on its most popular river cruises to Normandy. The excursions, which start at $130 per person as an add-on to the cruise itinerary, visits the French beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, where the assault landed.
They can be booked for select April to October cruises which include the Paris to the Norman Coast five-day cruise, starting at $910 per person; the eight-day Seine Valley and Normandy Beaches cruise, starting at $1,645 per person; the seven-day Seine Valley and Winding River cruise, starting at $1,410 per person; the Winding Seine Valley seven-day cruise, starting at $1,410 per person; and the six-day ports of call in the Seine Valley cruise, starting at $1,144 per person.
The Normandy excursions start at Pont du Hoc where American troops ascended cliffs to destroy Nazi machine-gun outposts to clear the way for the rest of the invasion. From there, the tour travels to Omaha beach, a pivotal location for the invasion where guests will also visit the American cemetery that overlooks the beach from the cliffs of Colleville sur Mer.
Guest will also explore the landing jetties of Arromanches and Mulberry harbor where the British landed more than 2.5-million men and four tons of supplies. From here, guests can watch “The Price of Liberty,” a first-hand account of the war on France’s only 360-degree screen. The tour concludes with visits to Honfleur via Gold Beach and Juno Beach in Gray-sur-Mer, Courseuelles-sur-Mer and Sword Beach in Ouistreham Lion-sur Mer.
For full information, visit www.croisieuroperivercruises.com.
Eden Rock-St. Barths in the Caribbean, a luxury hotel, has partnered with French label Each x Other to offer guests a unisex collection in a pop-up shop called “Art Meets Fashion” through April. Each x Other invites poets, filmmakers, and artists from around the world to design pieces inspired by their work, among them London-based Robert Montgomery and Canadian Blair Chivers, part of the group show, “Art and Text” at the Eden Rock Gallery. Other artists include Thomas Lelu, Daniele Innamorato, Naco, Alessandra D’Urso and Yi Zhou. Pieces are priced from 119 Euros. Check it out at www.each-other.com/art-meets-fashion, and the hotel at www.edenrockhotel.com
Granted, the average temperature for Bermuda this time of year is in the 60s. But with the annoying recurring polar vortex that has plunged us into deep freezes, that’s still appealing. The island is offering a “Pink Sale” promotion with a 50-percent discount on room rates which must be booked by Feb. 3 for travel between then and April 30. Participating hotels include Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, Elbow Beach Bermuda, Fairmont Southampton, Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort & Spa, Rosewood Tuckers Point, Rosedon Hotel Bermuda and The Royal Palms.
For information and booking, visit www.gotobermuda.com
For a hotel just six years old, the Grand Del Mar in San Diego is doing pretty well. It was recently voted the number-one hotel in the U.S. and top luxury hotel in the country, and the number-11 luxury hotel worldwide by readers of TripAdvisor. It was also ranked 14th worldwide, based on more than 700,000 hotels around the globe evaluated in the website’s annual Travelers’ Choice awards. In addition, the Grand Del Mar for the third straight year netted three Five-Star awards in Forbes Travel Guide, for lodging, spa and Addison, its signature restaurant. William Bradley, Addison’s executive chef, also won the second annual Culinary Masters Competition by Robb Report.
The hotel has packages available, including its current winter-rate offering starting at $345 a night. For info, visit www.thegranddelmar.com
In Bermuda, February is the island’s annual “Love Month,” which includes a couples’ golf tournament at Port Royal Golf Course (duos get a 50-percent discount on greens fees); a “Champagne and Strawberries Afternoon Affair” at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art; a “Love Train City Tour;” a “Lover’s Matinees” at Specialty Cinema; a love cruise around Hamilton Harbor; and a “Love Tales Walking Tour” in St. George. Check it all out www.gotobermuda.com
Rosewood Tucker’s Point is running an engagement celebration package that includes an 80-minute couple’s massage; daily breakfast on your balcony; and a private dinner customized by Chef Guido. The package, which offers much more, starts at $3,395 the first night, and $295 a night thereafter. Check it out at www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/tuckers-point-bermuda
More warm-weather offerings include Kamalame Cay in the Bahamas, with its “Lover’s Island Rendezvous,” at 20-percent off, which includes three-, four-, or five-night stay, free bubbly and chocolates, an afternoon on a small, private island, couples’ massage and private beach dinner. Three-night packages start at $2,669. Deal runs Feb. 1-28. Visit www.kamalame.com for details.
Also in the Bahamas, Deep Water Cay has an escape package starting at $5,308 for three nights that includes a stay in a one-bedroom cottage, private beach picnic for two and beachside cooking classes. Visit www.deepwatercay.com for details.
In the British Virgin Islands, you’ll find the “Sweet Surf” and “Sweet Sail” packages available from Jan. 31 through March 3. The surf package, which starts at $2,775 per couple, includes a trip to remote Josiah’s Bay for a private two-hour surf lesson. The sailing deal, starting at $3,425 per couple, includes a romantic, five-hour private boat charter on the Caribbean. Both packages include three-nights lodging in a one-bedroom, ocean-view suite; three-course dinner at Caravela at the resort; a 60-minute couples massage at Ixora Spa with 30-minute peppermint mocha or dark chocolate and coconut scrub; champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries on arrival; and breakfast for two each morning of chocolate pastries, hot items and beverages. Also included are unlimited use of sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, Wi-Fi, resort ferry and free airport transfers. Check it out at www.scrubisland.com
Bristol House Bed & Breakfast in Bristol, R.I., has a "Romance for Two" package which runs through February and offers two-nights lodging, daily breakfast, two one-hour massages, $50 dining certificate, flowers and chocolate. Rates start at $558. For info, visit www.bristolhousebnb.com
At Rhode Island's southern end, Ocean House in Watch Hill has its “Romance by the Sea” package, that includes a two-night stay in a deluxe room, welcome bottle of champagne, breakfast for two on Saturday, brunch on Sunday. Rates start at $745 per couple, and for info, visit www.oceanhouseri.com
Up in Kennebunkport, Maine, three hotels offer deals dubbed “Five Shades of Red,” where in addition to a two-night stay, you get a lazy man’s lobster dinner for two at One Dock, bottle of red wine and chocolate-covered strawberries, red velvet whoopee pie and red rose turndown and continental breakfast. Hotels are The Kennebunkport Inn, Grand Hotel and Boathouse Waterfront Hotel. Rates start at $339, $412 and $425, respectively. Package is good through March 31.
At Harbor View Hotel on Martha's Vineyard, they have a Valentine's Day prix fixe dinner deal for $48 per couple, which gets you things like sous-vide local lobster, pork tenderloin, chocolate macaroons and truffles. If you stay, rooms start at $179 a night, which includes dinner. Check it out at www.harbor-view.com.
Far away deals include one at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, with a “Celebration Retreat” valid for all nights from Jan. 20-Feb. 16 and after that, just on Friday through Sunday nights until the end of the year. Rates start at $651, and include in-room breakfast, welcome bottle of champagne and chocolates, restaurant and spa credits and more. For all details visit www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong Paris is arguably the world’s romantic city and two hotels have deals for lovers. At Le Bristol Paris, where rates start at $1,200, you get one night, a welcome bottle of bubbly, chocolates and a special surprise, continental breakfast and a cocktail for two in Le Bar du Bristol. A “Romance in Paris” spa package is also offered, starting at $1,064 for two, which includes treatments, treats from the pastry chef, champagne and scented limited-edition Diptyque candle to take home. For all info, visit www.lebristolparis.com At the Mandarin Oriental, the “Love in Paris” package available for February includes a seasonal “Exotic Passion” cocktail, dinner, spa treatments and more. Rates are from $1,681, and for information visit www.mandarinoriental.com/paris
The Palais Namaskar in Marrakech, between the Atlas Mountains and Djebilet hills, has a romantic package available year round, that includes two-nights lodging; round-trip airport transfers; romantic in-room amenities; sliced fruits with cream; and a romantic bath with flower petals and candles. It also gets you breakfast in bed, a “Sunrise Retreat” with five hours in a VIP cabin with private hamman and two Namaskar Signature massages; and a “One Thousand and One Nights” dinner in the gardens or private terrace. Packages start at $1,344. For info, visit www.palaisnamaskar.com
Wine lovers may consider the Sonoma Coast Villa in Spa in California, with fully inclusive rates starting at $1,150 for the nights of Feb. 14 and 15, that gets you a room with fireplace, roses and chocolate truffles, private three-course dinner and one couples’ massage. Check it out at www.scvilla.com
If you seek more heart-pumping adventure of the adventurous sort, consider the Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, where you can get a three-hour Morgan Creek paddle package and get two nights lodging and a three-hour kayaking journey with rates from $219 a night, or the “It Takes Two: Heart-Pumping & Pamper Package,” which gets two nights, massage and pedicure for two and a choice of a full-body conditioning workout or Vinyasa Yoga session. Rates for that start at $339. Visit www.wilddunes.com for info.
Gamble on love and money with “Lights, Limos and Love” at Harrah’s Resort in AtlanticCity, with the package running through Feb. 16 starting at $899 a night, which includes a $100 dining credit and limo ride to a personal light show and bottle of Etoile Rose Brut Champagne. Check it out at www.harrahsresort.com
It's the Granite State, not the Grape State, but New Hampshire, from Jan. 27-Feb. 2, the 9th Annual New Hampshire Wine Week gets underway, sponsored by the state's liquor commission, with intimate wine dinners, exclusive panel discussions and tastings, and the largest wine even in northern New England, dubbed the “Winter Wine Spectacular.” The N.H. Liquor Commission created wine week in 2005 after two years of the “Spectacular,” the largest wine event north of Boston. The event gives customers the chance to sample some of the 7,000 wines available at the state's 77 liquor and wine outlets, and meet with nationally and internationally acclaimed winemakers at dozens of events throughout the state.
“With more than $272 million in wine sales last fiscal year, which marks a 7.3-percent increase from the last year, New Hampshire is a significant player in the wine world,” said Joseph W. Mollica, commission chairman, in a press release. “The wine world has taken notice: New Hampshire is wine country.”
The week's events include celebrity bottle signings at select outlet locations, celebrity wine dinners and three signature events. It ends with the 11th Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular at the Radisson Hotel Manchester Jan. 30, with nearly 1,800 wines, food, silent auction and raffle, and raises money for Easter Seals New Hampshire. Tickets for the grand tasting are $65 each, and tickets for access to that and Bellman's Cellar Select are $125.
For a full list of participants and more information, visit www.nhwineweek.com
Moon Dance Cliffs Hotel & Spa, a seaside resort on the cliffs of Negril on Jamaica’s western coast, is running a spring special from March 1-31, with weekday rates starting at $160 a night. The boutique hotel is a relatively new addition to the popular coast of the island, finished in 2008 with private villas, pool, spa, two restaurants, three bars and tropical gardens. It was named one of 2013’s Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the Caribbean at TripAdvisor. For info, visit www.moondanceresorts.com/cliffs.
Fans of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, take note of a sweepstakes run by InterContinental Alliance Resorts, with The Venetian Las Vegas and The Palazzo Las Vegas. The country starts are headlining their”Soul2Soul” concert series at The Venetian through April, and a sweepstakes will net the winner two tickets to their concert, plus a meet and greet with the stars, two nights in an upgraded suite at The Venetian, $800 toward airfare, and a $200 credit for dinner at the hotel. For information and to enter, visit http://ihg.promo.eprize.com/concert/
In the dead of winter, take small comfort in knowing that two of New England's capital cities, Boston and Providence, have made the “Coziest Cities List,” sponsored by the new line of Honeywell Infrared Heaters, with Boston topping the list and Providence coming in at number eight. The awards were evaluated by scientists at the environmental consulting firm of Needham-based Environmental Health & Engineering, and determined based on criteria used to judge overall comfort, ambiance and accessibility.
"Defining coziness is a relatively abstract task, but we were up for the challenge,” said Dr. Ted Myatt of the consulting company in a press release released Jan. 6. “We synthesized a variety of city data across major metropolitan areas in the United States to calculate an overall coziness score.”
Myatt said they looked at criteria ranging from fireplace and portable heater usage, access to parks and overall walkability to restaurants and coffee shops per capita, stressful lifestyle scores and historical ambiance.
Coming in second was San Francisco, followed by Santa Fe, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Baltimore, Providence, New Orleans and Savannah, Georgia.
The 15th edition of Montreal En Lumiere (Montreal High Lights) runs Feb. 20-March 2, which showcases the city and visiting chefs from San Francisco who are attending to run a series of culinary collaborations, including Michael Tusk (Executive chef/owner of Quince and Cotogna restaurants) and David Barzelay of Lazy Bear. San Fran chefs will create multi-course meals throughout the festival with Montreal counterpart chefs Daniel Boulud, Riccardo Bertolino, Anthony Joyce and Sylvain Levaillant.
There are several lodging packages available which come with one or two-nights’ lodging, admission to various events, gift bags and other offerings, including the “Experience Montreal En Lumiere,” starting at $169; the “Haiti 3D” package starting at $368; “Presenting: Quebec Chefs and Cheeses,” starting at $204; and “Hats Off to Haiti Convivial Meal,” starting at $159.
The festival also has music, performing arts, and free outdoor family activities. For all information and links for lodging and ticket options, visit www.montrealenlumiere.com or call 855-864-3737.
There's nothing wrong with hanging around a great Caribbean resort like Harbour Village Beach Club in Bonaire. The food is terrific, the sunsets stunning, the beach a long, puffy sliver of silky white, hammocks slung lazily between palm trees, and enough diving and snorkeling and kayaking to keep you busy throughout.
But getting off property is a must, and Bonaire has ample places to check out. Take a drive over to Lac Bay on the southeast coast, the windsurfing capital of the island, and check out the aptly named Bonaire Windsurf Place, where local legend Elvis Martinus has been teaching the sport to island youth for decades. Martinus, all-Antillean champion and Olympic representative for the sport, is so well known in windsurfing circles he’s featured in an award-winning documentary, "Children of the Wind." And he's an immensely easy person to chat up if you run into him there, always eager to talk about the sport he’s done so much to promote.
Lac Bay, one of the clearest bodies of water I've ever seen, is a broad and shallow place of steady trade winds and a beautiful place to watch colorful windsurfers jet across the surface. Next to it is Beach Hut Bonaire, which had been a small snack and fast-food outlet until 2008 when it was replaced by a sprawling, boat-shaped bar, open sided and facing the bay, where you get things like the half-pound Beach Burger and local goat cheese salad. Stick around at night for the music and dancing in the sand.
In the north central part of the island is a very pleasant little village, Rincon, the island's oldest. Pick up a walking-tour booklet and meander about, seeing things like Cinelandia Theatre, long closed but with plans afoot to make it the Bonaire Heritage Center; a house built of "blokkies," one of the few on the island built of these gray blocks; and the Oficina di Number, a betting office.
Satisfy your hunger at Rose Inn, a local favorite in Rincon, open aired and shaded by intertwined brambles over rickety tables where you can drink Polar beer from Venezuela and slurp some iguana soup, a thick creation with bony pieces of lizard, some with skin attached, and if you're lucky, a leathery iguana egg or two. The goat stew is divine, too, abundant chunks of meat with veggies, plantains, corn meal and beans. It's got a kick all its own, but add some table-top hot sauce if you want to ramp up the heat.
For a truly unique taste, walk over to Cadushy Distillery, run by Eric and Jolande Gietman, Eric a big, blue-eyed Dutchman who happily boasts he runs the biggest distillery on the island – and the only one, which by default, makes it the biggest.
Check out the cactus liqueur, easy enough to find the main ingredient for considering cactus is to Bonaire what pine trees are to Maine. They hand peel them, and dry the flesh in hot car windshields, Gietman said. He also makes sorghum alcohol so strong you can't drink it but can run a car on it. I wasn't sure if he was kidding or not.
They don't export, so buy some to take home, good "suitcase liquor," as he called it. Also taste the cactus vodka, which he said is the only one in the world, the Rom Rincon, a rum spiced with yerba, and Captain Don's Whiskey, spiced with aged Cuba tobacco leaves, named after a local diving legend.Rincon is, Gietman said, "the Bonaire of 30 years ago," a collection of pastel buildings, a few businesses, dogs ambling on never-busy streets, children playing freely on them, and old timers drinking beer and laughing on brightly painted patios.
If you dive, Bonaire is the place in general, and Harbour Village in particular. It is home to the Great Adventures Water Shop in an area long designated as a top dive destination, with 86 well-defined dive sites and more than 30 years of environmental protection laws that make Bonaire a place with the most-preserved marine life in the world.(For information on Bonaire, visit www.tourismbonaire.com. For information and reservations at Harbour Village, visit www.harbourvillage.com)
Executive chefs Nathan Gould from Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, and Daniel Kenney from Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth, don?t just share their culinary experience with paying customers. Both returned recently from a trip to the Philippines, not just culling talent for their hotels back home, but also helping out victims of Typhoon Haiyan that slammed the islands in November and killed more than 6,000.
The Philippines has a long tradition of providing top-notch culinary students with a chance of working in the United States, the chefs said, and while there they led culinary demonstrations, educational discussions and got to known hundreds of students who study at culinary and hotel-management universities there. In the process, they said, they came full circle, reuniting with former apprentices of both their hotels, and witnessing their success back home. New recruits from the Philippines will arrive on the Cape and Martha's Vineyard this spring.
As importantly, they said, both visited an orphanage that is home to children victimized by the typhoon, where they donated diapers, formula and food, and ate with the children as well, both calling it the highlight of their trip.
If you want to check out some of Gould's creations, the Harbor View Hotel is hosting a New Year's Eve party, with music by the Sultans of Swing and the Mike Benjamin Band, along with a midnight champagne toast on the hotel's wraparound porch, with fireworks set to explode over Edgartown Harbor. Tickets for the event are $95, and guests must be 21 and older, and semi-formal attire is required (a similar party at Sea Crest is sold out, according to that hotel's website). Harbor View is also offering an overnight package, with rates from $349, that includes the stay and two tickets to the party and if you get carried away, late checkout at 2 p.m. the next day. For information, visit www.harbor-view.com
Fairmont Battery Wharf on Boston’s waterfront celebrates its fifth anniversary with a package that includes an overnight stay and $55 food and beverage or spa credit. The package’s starting rate is $255, available through March 31. Guests can upgrade to a suite for per-night rates from $355 for a one-bedroom suite or from $555 for a harbor suite. Winter attractions at the hotel include toasting s’mores or having a drink at the fire pits outside, afternoon tea, live entertainment and treatments at its Exhale Spa. For information, visit www.fairmont.com/battery-wharf-boston
If you find yourself in Bangkok over New Year's (and really, it's a much warmer choice than icy Boston), the Tower Club at Lebua, one of the city's most luxurious hotels, is offering specialty menus at its restaurants, Mezzaluna, Sirocco, Breeze and Distil, all high up in the skyscraper hotel and carrying pretty sky-high prices.
Available for one night only, the menu features things like Japanese Kyushu beef, Petrossian Imperial caviar, red king crab from the Okhotsk Sea and New Caledonia Pacific Ocean blue shrimp. The experience starts with free champagne at Flute Bar on the 64th floor, with spectacular views of the Chao Phraya River and city skyline. Prices are $980 per person at Mezzaluna, $903 at Breeze, $829 at Sirocco and $678 at Distil
It's great to get far away in the middle of winter, but sometimes sticking close to home has its benefits, chief among them saving money. The Inn on Scituate Harbor, for example, is running a mid-winter deal from January through March, offering a rate of $99 per night for stays Sunday through Thursday. A great place to stay warm there is by the fire in The Dogwatch, the inn's bar where they have regular live music, trivia contests, psychic readings and all manner of other diversionary activities to take your mind off the cold outside. Or you can brave it and walk around the harbor, one of the prettiest on Boston's South Shore - then come back for a warm drink. Check it out at www.innatscituate.com
Uncommon Journeys, a provider of unique North American rail and cruise travel, has teamed up with American Cruise Lines' Queen of the Mississippi to create the 2014 Riverboat and Train schedule, a series of three riverboat-and-train itineraries showcasing the first paddlewheel riverboat built for overnight travel in a decade. The packages include food and entertainment while aboard the riverboat Queen of the Mississippi.
The “American Legends” tour is an 11-day trip in July, with fares starting at $4,795 per person, that includes train travel to Chicago from any midwestern city, stays in Chicago and St. Louis and sightseeing trips, and a seven-night cruise from St. Louis to St. Paul aboard the Queen of the Mississippi, with stops in Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.
The “Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains” runs in September, a 13-day trip starting at $4,895 per person that features train travel from any city in the United States to Atlanta, stays and sightseeing in Atlanta, North Carolina and Tennessee, and a seven-night voyage on the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi rivers on the riverboat, with stops in Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, before finishing up in Memphis. At the end of September into early October, the “Fall Colors on the Mississippi runs, from $4,895 per person, with free train travel from any eastern or midwestern city to Chicago and two-nights stay in that city, train travel from Chicago to St. Louis and seven nights on the Mississippi aboard the riverboat, stopping in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Each package includes a professional tour manager to handle details, from hotel reservations to sightseeing. For complete information, visit www.uncommonjourneys.com, or call 800-323-5893
Strapping on a jetpack to hover above the water doesn't sound like usually family vacation stuff. But they got that going on and a bunch more at Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with its new “Family Island Adventure” package, aimed at entertaining the whole clan.
The resort's adventure center staff recommends and books family oriented activities, including the island's first water-propelled jetpack experience, where guests get suspended in air 10 feet above water, giving them the experience of defying gravity. Water sports include stand-up paddle boarding lessons for the whole family; swimming with turtles at Buck Island; and taking a night kayaking tour in clear-bottom kayaks ringed with LED lights. And new for this season is night paddle boarding, with special boards lit from beneath.
There's also a shark encounter at Coral World Marine Park, where guests get up close and personal without cages or barriers. And if the kids just want to hang in the water, the resort has four pools, including a new splash pool for younger ones, and there's always the beach.
The package starts at $224 per night, per room, and includes a $200 activity credit at the adventure center. For information, and booking, visit www.frenchmansreefmarriott.com, or call 800-228-9290, and use promotion code ZJL. You've got plenty of time to decided: The package is good through Aug. 31, 2014.