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
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.
New Haven hosts its 11th installment of its popular bi-annual restaurant week Nov. 3-18, with 30 of the city's eateries taking part by offering three-course prix fixe meals for lunch and dinner, the former costing $18, the latter $32, not including tax, tip or beverages. All the restaurants are also offering their regular menu items, and urge that reservations be made due to the popularity of the program.
Participating restaurants include 116 Crown, Basta Trattoria, Caseus, Heirloom, Ibiza, John Davenport’s, Oaxaca Kitchen, Thali, and Zinc. For a full listing, check out www.infonewhaven.com/restaurantweek, and follow on Twitter with hashtag #NHRW13
The Wild Rover Pub in Manchester, N.H., said to be that city's original Irish pub, has a new menu and general manager. Tom Puskarich, a 20-year veteran of the trade, and most recently the chef/owner of Z Food & Drink in the city, has updated the pub's menu and expanded the bourbon, whiskey and beer offerings. The new menu and hours is the first phase of an overall redo of the space. The chef has added things like Asian nachos, macadamia-nut chicken fries and gouda-stuffed tater tots, while adhering to the Irish flavor of the pub with chicken and sausage pot pie with Irish black pudding.
The pub was voted "Best Irish Pub in New England" in 2010 by a New England Cable News viewers' poll and one of New England's "10 Best Irish Pubs" by the Boston Globe and boston.com in 2009. Check it out at www.wildroverpub.com
If you've never had johnny cakes, you don't know what you're missing. The little crispy treats are made with stone-ground corn meal, boiling water (sometimes milk), a little bit of sugar and salt, and then poured onto a hot griddle for frying. Plop some butter atop, slather it with real maple syrup and you're good to go.
They hail the johnny cake (derived from "journey cake" in colonial times, when they were made and packed for long trips) at the annual Johnny Cake Festival Oct. 19 and 20, which also celebrates fall, down at Kenyon's Grist Mill in the Usquepaugh village of South Kingstown, R.I. Admission is $3 per person, children under five free, and you can get free samples of said johnny cakes (Kenyon's is an ancient mill that still grinds its own meal), sweets, craft beer, wine and more. There will be more than 125 participants at this year's festival, including farmers, artisans and restaurateurs, along with live music and animals, historians and demonstraters of old-world skills. The event benefits the Jonnycake Center, R.I. Breast Cancer Coalition and more than 20 other nonprofits.
Visit www.johnnycakefestival.com for information. And bring your appetite, johnny cakes are addictive.
Ever wanted to swim with the manatees? You have a chance to with two winter packages at the Plantation on Crystal River in Florida, said to be the only place in North America where you can legally swim and interact with the sea cows in the wild. The breed found at Crystal River is the West Indian manatee.
at $224 for two people, the one-night swim package includes a room,
manatee snorkeling tour for two, equipment included, breakfast for
two and a welcome bag with plush manatee toy, manatee facts and
interaction guidelines. The tour is guided, and leaves from the
The resort also offers a swim-and-dive package starting at $448 for two people, which gives the manatee package, a second night's lodging, and a guided tour for two on Rainbow River. Manatee tours are offered year-round at the resort, but in winter, guests are far more likely to see them. During prime manatee-viewing season, usually Oct. 1-March 31, guests can see and interact with up to 350 of the gently lumbering beasts as they play, eat and socialize with each other.
For information, visit www.plantationoncrystalriver.com or call 800-632-6262.
Online visitors to Discover Newport can now access the newly installed Book Direct Search Engine, through a partnership between the agency and JackRabbit Systems Inc. The search engine allows visitors to compare local rates and availability and select lodging throughout Newport and Bristol counties. According to the latest American Hotel & Lodging/Smith Travel Research Study, about 81 percent of all hotel rooms are booked through direct channels, said Kathryn Farrington, vice president of marketing at Discover Newport.
"It allows travelers to our website, mobile site and Facebook page to book directly with no additional fees or commissions, bypassing online booking fees,” she said. “It's particularly beneficial to our smaller properties as it provides a free reservation engine without having to work with a third party."
Lodging partners can also access real time analytics and detailed data reports, she said. It also allows users to use loyalty points and membership discounts based on the direct reservation and relationship with the lodgings, she said. Check out www.DiscoverNewport.org for more information.
The Marti Istanbul Hotel is offering a special “culture package” to celebrate the 13th Istanbul Biennial, which runs through Oct. 20, and fills five venues in the city's downtown, bringing together 88 artists from around the world. The package, which starts at approximately $350 a night, includes the stay, buffet breakfast, half-day sight-seeing tour of Istanbul's old city or a museum pass valid for 72 hours, reflexology massage at SpaSoul, and a box of Turkish treats from the hotel's Gourmet Stop store.
The five-star hotel opened earlier this year in the cultural and commercial heart of the city, with interiors designed by Turkish designer, Zeynep Fadillioglu, and Turkish art. For information, visit www.martiistanbulhotel.com
Wild game is the focus of a Thanksgiving dinner at Water Street, the signature restaurant at Harbor View Hotel on Martha's Vineyard this year. Created by Executive Chef Nathan Gould, the buffet, prices at $59 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under, includes local meats (venison and boar, for example, and of course, turkey), artisan breads and cheeses, salads, soups, seafood and seasonal desserts. The buffet runs from 11:30 a.m. To 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28. For information and to check out the menu, visit www.harbor-view.com
To celebrate the end of a $180-million renovation and removal of construction scaffolding on the building's Manhattan facade, the Sheraton New York Times Square is offering guests an unusual perk in October and November. Guests whose homes, or themselves, have recently had renovations get a $50 per stay “Makeover Celebration Credit.” Overnight guests must present a valid receipt at check-in showing at least $150 in home renovation projects or personal cosmetic procedures to get the credit.
The credit is valid once per trip, on two-night stays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October and November. Home improvements and makeover procedures must have occurred within six months of check-in date and cosmetic work must have been in-office medical procedures, hotel officials said. You just book directly at www.sheratonnewyork.com, where more details can also be found, or by calling the hotel at 212-581-1000.
The government may be shut down, but New England foliage is still wide open for business. We were surprised to see how much color was spreading across the Berkshire Hills in mid-September. And on a research trip up the coast yesterday, we were treated to a show in southern Maine along the Maine turnpike, as the photo above shows. To keep track of how the foliage is spreading in the Pine Tree state, visit the Maine's Official Fall Foliage website.
The Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, N.Y., is holding its annual “Gastro Getaway Weekend” Nov. 7-10, in conjunction with Lexus. The weekend highlights the combined talents of Executive Chef Nathan Rich of the lodge, and Executive Chef James Hackney of Wequasset Resort & Golf Club on Cape Cod. There will also be eight Lexus vehicles on property, and three will be available to guests to test drive during their stay. The weekend also features products of Miner Vineyards and Taittinger Champagne House.
During the weekend, guests can participate in various culinary and spirits-oriented events, including wine and champagne tastings, culinary demos and pairings, cocktail muddling and mixing classes, one-on-ones with chefs, a brewery tour, craft beer tastings and more. The weekend will also showcase local talent and Olympic-themed activities, including curling.
The lodge is also offering an extra night free when booking three nights for the weekend. Rates start at $799 a night, and include all “Gastro Weekend” events and activities.
For info and booking, visit www.lakeplacidlodge.com
Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah, recently recognized as a top pet-friendly hotel for outdoor enthusiasts by USA Today, is offering guests who travel with pets 10-percent off when booking a stay by Sept. 30, good for travel through Dec. 31. Also, a portion of the guest pet fee goes to INKAS|Ivins No Kill Animal Supporters to help support its shelter. Guests can also lend a hand at the shelter by participating in the resort's “Pound Puppy Hike,” a free activitiy for guests, which encourages guests to share their exploration, with their pets, of Southern Utah. Guests can also be assigned a puppy or dog for a 1.5-mile hike at the base of Red Mountain.
The resort has special rooms for guests with pets, as well as a 55-acre scenic backyard and nearby Snow Canyon State Parks for pets to romp in. The resort also offers organic pet treats, and food and water dishes. When booking, use the code PETSROCK. For information, visit www.redmountainresort.com/offers
Listening to music through earphones while running isn't unusual. Having a live band play that music for you while you run might be. But that's the set up for the 3rd annual Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon on Sept. 29, which features live, local bands each mile of the 13.1-mile journey through city streets and neighborhoods.
Running start at the State House, and the course winds through historic Benefit Street and past the Roger Williams National Memorial as well as three of the city's universities. It also goes for several miles along the Seekonk River waterfront and India Point Park, before winding back to the finish. As runners cross the line, they can hang out and relax with the band, Atlas Genius, at a post-race concert.
New this year is the “Mini Marathon,” a timed, three-mile intro to distance running. The weekend kicks off Sept. 28 with a free health and fitness expo at the Rhode Island Convention Center. For all information and to register, visit www.runrocknroll.com/providence
The new itinerary “provides a multitude of ideas on how to enjoy a day outdoors” in the area, said Pam Sullivan, marketing coordinatorfor New Hampshire Grand, the official visitor info source for northern New Hampshire. Check it all out at www.nhgrand.com
Calabash Cove Resort & Spa on the West Indies island of St. Lucia is offering off-season deals that tie into new United Airlines non-stop flights to the island from Newark and New York, which start in July. For dates booked through Dec. 20, the resort offers reduced seasonal rates starting at $405 a night, depending on rooms and meal plan selected. If you book five or more nights in a sunset ocean-view junior suite by June 14, for travel through Dec. 20, you get an extra 10 percent off rates and a $200 resort credit.
For information visit www.CalabashCove.com The new St. Lucia flights have connections from a variety of New England locations, including Boston, Burlington, Vt,, Portland, Maine, Providence, Windsor Locks, Conn., and Manchester, N.H.
Got $40,000 to spend on a drink? We didn’t think so. But for $18, you can sip something much cheaper but with the same theme.It’s all part of the White Barn Inn’s 40th anniversary weekend May 31-June 2, when the luxury Kennebunkport, Maine is holding events such as a nine-course dinner, wine from 1973 and charity auction. Part of it is a $40,000 ruby cocktail that indeed comes with a four-carat ruby, which is the 40th-anniversary gemstone. The one in the drink is a lasting keepsake for those ordering, and the drink is available through the end of the year. If you don’t want to spend that much, the inn offers a Ruby Rose martini for $18, Hangar One vodka, St. Germain Elderflower, fresh grapefruit juice, pomegranate and a spoonful of rosewater. The menu for the nine-course dinner will be created by Chef Jonathan Cartwright, and costs $400 per person, served on June 1, with the dishes taking diners back 40 years to mark the occasion, Cartwright said. With dinner, guests will drink a 1973 D’Oliveiras Verdelho wine. And during the dinner, there will be an auction of a bottle of 1973 Hanzell Vineyards pinot noir, with proceeds going to “Share Our Strength,” which fights childhood hunger. The bottle is valued at approximately $200. There will also be a special VIP cocktail reception May 31, and on June 1 at 11 a.m., a historic tour of Kennebunk with food and drink along the way. Through the end of June, the inn offers room specials and a $40 spa service. For information, visit www.whitebarninn.com
Newport is known for old stuff, such as the oldest continuing tavern, lending library, synagogue and Fourth of July celebration. But each year, more new comes to Newport, and this year is no exception.
The Doris Duke Monument Foundation between Thames Street and Trinity Church unveils a $3.5 million revitalization of Queen Anne Square, designed by Maya Lin. Entitled “The Meeting Room,” the installation includes three shallow foundations to illustrate the history of the property and provide community gathering spots. The project will bring more green space, seating, trees and lighting to Queen Anne Square. It is intended to honor the memory of Doris Duke, who championed Newport’s historic preservation. Check it out at www.ddmf.org
The old, elegant mansion of Newport have added thing, including the Elms with a new audio tour which includes new information about recent restoration projects in the house and servant life. In addition, Mandarin translations of the audio tours at The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House and Rosecliff will be added as Chinese-speaking visitors are the fastest growing segment of foreign visitors to the mansions. The 2013 costume exhibition at Rosecliff features 20th century highlights from the Newport Preservation Society's collection, and highlights designer pieces by Chanel, Givenchy and Halston. The exhibition runs through November 22. Visit www.newportmansions.org for information
For the adventurous, there is a new Fort Adams zip line, where you can strap in and dive off walls of the fort, North America’s largest coastal fortress, on the 430-foot-long zip line. You start at 50 feet up, sail over the fort’s complex and land on the ground. You can go solo or with a friend on a tandem zip line. Visit www.fortadams.org for info.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame exhibit, “Tennis and Hollywood,” showcases the popularity of the sport of tennis with Hollywood’s elite. A social sport that initially catered to an upscale crowd, tennis became a natural pastime for many big screen stars in the early 1900s. Legends including Alice Marble and Frank Parker were known to share their expertise by giving lessons to stars including Dinah Shore, Charlton Heston, Dustin Hoffman, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. The exhibit will be displayed for one year.
Also, the hall will host the first and only viewing of “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, which proved to be an event that created heightened awareness for gender equality, in honor of its 40th anniversary. King will be present at the special screening on July 14 to introduce the broadcast footage and then discuss her memories of key moments in the match, what the match meant to her personally, and reflect on its lasting impact. Check both hall events out at www.tennisfame.com
The International Yacht Restoration School and Museum of Yachting 2013 exhibition features a diverse collection of Newport yachting and coastal scenes including artwork in various mediums from the 19th century to today. Exhibition opens June 1. Check out www.iyrs.edu for information.
The Newport Dinner Train introduces The Ice Cream Train, a family-friendly experience aboard Rhode Island’s only moving ice cream parlor. During this scenic ride, families get entertainment aboard air-conditioned rail cars as the they travel along the coast while having soft-serve ice cream or sundaes. The train departs Thursdays through Saturdays from the Newport Train Depot, 19 America's Cup Avenue. For information, visit www.newportdinnertrain.com/docs/schedule.htm
Samuel Whitehorne House, a museum of 18th- and early 19th-century Newport and Rhode Island furniture, will feature a new exhibit this year of high chests including one on loan from the Ott family of Providence. For information, visit www.newportrestoration.org/visit/whitehorne
The inaugural Newport Sharkfest Swim will take place Sept. 28 along the waterfront beginning at the harbormaster’s dock at Perotti Park, proceeding past anchored sailboats on the right side of the swimming channel, and continuing for a total 1500 meters to finish on the beach at King Park. This event is for experienced open-water swimmers only. For info, visit www.sharkfestswim.com
As to new lodging, check out the Crow’s Nest Newport, with new lodging at Seamen’s Church Institute, a non-profit with a mission to service those connected to the sea, in its National Register historic building. The space is remodeled and includes 10 guest rooms in the heart of the waterfront. For information, visit www.crowsnestnewport.com
There’s also a new transportation option this year as the Block Island Ferry introduces seasonal high-speed ferry service from Newport to Block Island starting the end of June. Travel time between the two ports will take about one hour on a hi-speed aluminum catamaran ferry, to run several times a day. Visit www.blockislandferry.com for information.
For information on all Newport offerings, visit www.discovernewport.org
Blount Small Ship Adventures, based in Warren, R.I., is offering $1,000 savings per couple on sailings of its “Islands of New England” trips this summer, including three new enrichment cruises focusing on arts and crafts adventures, food and wine discoveries, and Native America history. The six-night cruises on the Grand Caribe hits six ports including the Massachusetts islands of Cuttyhunk and Nantucket, and Block Island in Rhode Island. The sailing also features onboard entertainers, a lobster bake, three meals a day (with beer and wine at lunch and dinner) and snacks around the clock. Unlike many cruise operations, here you can bring your own bottles, and they’ll provide mixers and cocktail setup.
The Grande Caribe, which has 48cabins and a capacity of 88 passengers, was built by Blount Boats in Warren in 1997 and renovated in 2009 with new furnishings, décor, cabins and dining rooms. With discount applied, rates start at $1,599 per person, based on double occupancy, and doesn’t include a port charge of $185 per person. Booking must be made by May 31.
For info, visit www.blountsmallshipadventures.com/ine.
A couple of years ago we wrote about a National Park Service walking tour of Woodstock, Vermont during the Civil War period. It was researched and developed by historian and author Howard Coffin, who was born in Woodstock and scoured the historic records to piece together what life was like on the home front during those tumultuous years. The tour will be offered again this summer; see www.nps.gov/mabi for details.
Six of Coffin's ancestors served in the Vermont regiments and his fascination with the Civil War knows no bounds. He has just published a new book, Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today's Vermont (Countryman Press, $35), that sheds the same light on the entire state. Based on six years of research and numerous miles of driving through the Green Mountain State, Coffin identifies more than 2,500 extant sites that were affected by the Civil War and organizes them by county.
“Vermont's Civil War sites are everywhere, on back roads, at the ends of roads, by busy downtowns, at crossroads, in store blocks, on islands, in remote woods, in fields, in churches and cemeteries, and on college campuses and school grounds,” Coffin writes. And he fully expects readers to seek them out. “Take with you an 'Official Vermont Road Map,'” he advises, “one of the best maps in all 50 states. And it's free.”
Readers of our In Transit column in the Globe Travel section know that we're partial to the Downeaster train. Now Amtrak would like to win over the skeptical. For National Train Day on May 11, Amtrak is celebrating at the Brunswick, Maine, station from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with train tours and cafe samples during the 1-4 p.m. time slot. They also promise activities for kids, educational exhibits, and ticket giveaways.
Even better, for three weekends in a row, Amtrak is offering $5 tickets on the northern half of the Downeaster line. They're good from Haverhill to Brunswick, Maine (or points in between) on May 4-5 and May 11-12, and between Exeter, N.H. and Brunswick, Maine April 27-28. That's definitely something to toot about.