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If you don’t know what Bulgaria, London, Milwaukee, Montana, and New Zealand have in common, it’s my pleasure to remind you that they’re all places some of my well-traveled colleagues identified as worthy family vacation destinations for 2012.
Given that a new year is upon us and my friends are still well traveled, I called on them again to identify destinations that family travelers might want to add to their short lists in 2013.
Kangaroo Island: Yes, Things Are Hopping There
If Hobbit tourism catches on the way John E. DiScala (aka the very frequent flier better known as Johnny Jet) predicted last year, the New Zealand town of Matamata will still be a destination to watch for 2013. If Tolkien travel is not your family’s thing, but you’re still intrigued by the Southern Hemisphere, DiScala has another nomination for you: Kangaroo Island. “It’s in south Australia, just a 15 minute flight from Adelaide,” he points out, “and it’s known as Australia’s ‘zoo without fences.’” As you might expect, you’ll get an eyeful of kangaroos and wallabies there, as well as koalas, seals, and the whimsical-looking echidnas (spiny anteaters). DiScala also says the island’s Southern Ocean Lodge is one of the world’s best places to stay.
Perhaps the best news is that Kangaroo Island is not yet on the radar of U.S. family travelers. “I was there in October, so no U.S. families were traveling,” DiScala says, “but they will be there, as it’s just now getting known. It’s the new Tasmania.” Read more
Unwind in secluded Turks and Caicos at an all-suites, beachfront complex. Stay five nights at the Ocean Club Resort on the gorgeous island of Providenciales – including weekends – and receive the fifth night free. This means you’ll effectively pay $167 per night and save 30% on comparable hotels in the area.
Located on award-winning Grace Bay Beach, the Ocean Club Resort offers individually furnished suites with private balconies and kitchens or kitchenettes. Stretch out on a hammock along the beach or take a dip in the turquoise water, learning why Grace Bay is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Ocean Club also features two swimming pools, tennis courts, a fitness center, a water sports center, and two on-site restaurants. For those who came to work on their swing, the Provo Golf and Country Club is just across the road.
Forget ashram-style deprivation: Nirvana and high thread counts go hand in hand at these well-appointed retreats that welcome the bendy yogi and the curious novice alike. Flowing classes, indulgent spa therapies, and dazzling surroundings? Just say om.
LESS THAN $1,500
A mountainside hideaway enables guests to explore Costa Rica as well as the inner self.
RETREAT In airy pavilions at Pura Vida Retreat and Spa overlooking the capital San José, instructors teach a variety of yoga styles, from slower, less flowing Iyengar to the more dynamic vinyasa and power flow varieties.
RELAX Guests with sore muscles can find relief at the spa, where therapists offer treatments such as Cloud Forest Magic, a holistic, deep-tissue massage that incorporates aromatherapy and a detoxifying steam for the body.
The Luxury Situated on a private island in Turks and Caicos, a 35-minute boat ride from Provo, Parrot Cay is a favorite retreat for the rich and fabulous (odds are good you’ll encounter Keith Richards during your stay). The resort’s 71 rooms and villas sport four-poster beds, private sundecks, and free Wi-Fi. Take advantage of superlative spa services, free yoga and Pilates classes, and beachside water sports (like kayaking and windsurfing). If you’re planning a family vacation, note that kids eat free all summer.
The Value Through October 31, Parrot Cay is offering a “stay 4, pay 3” deal that brings starting rates down to $337.50/night. Even better, spend 7 nights at the resort and you’ll only pay for 5 – meaning rates start at just $321/night.
The Catch There are a limited number of rooms in the lowest price category.
The Details 877-754-0726; www.parrotcay.como.bz
For general trip-planning information, see our Turks and Caicos Travel Guide.
The Luxury Set on 12 acres along the sandy shores of Provo in Turks and Caicos, Grace Bay Club features all-suite, ocean-view accommodations. The Hotel is exclusive to those aged 12 and up while the Villas and the homes on the Estate welcome families, but all rooms boast terraces, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. On property, dine at three restaurants and three bars; indulge at the Anani Spa, which utilizes Elemis products in treatments; take a dip in one of three pools; or hit the waves for snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking.
The Value Through December 16, Grace Bay offers our readers a third night free – with rates starting at $380/night with the discount – plus a $50 resort credit. Book by December 13.
The Catch Blackout dates include November 23-26.
The Details 800-946-5757; www.gracebayclub.com (use code SMARTLUX)
The Setai Spa, South Beach, Florida
There are heaps of beautiful spas in Miami, but I like how close this one is to the beach and the Love Potion No. 9 kind of theme: Couple’s Love Ceremony includes a 60-minute Couple’s Ancient Balinese Massage followed by a Love Bath – a soak in a Love Potion-filled tub with rose petals. Champagne and canapes included. $500 per couple. Photo above courtesy The Setai. www.setai.com/thespa
Now that the Oscar nominees have been announced, where are you planning on watching the Academy Awards on February 27? If you’re traveling during the event, we’ve got you covered. Larger than your flat-screen TV, and more intimate than a movie theater, these hotels are the places to view the red carpet parade and watch your favorite actors up-close and in vivid color.
Hotel deLuxe, Portland, OR
The Hotel deLuxe in downtown Portland, Oregon, is having an Academy Award Tweet-Up (Follow @hotel_deluxe for updates) starting at 3:30pm (PST) in their 1,240-square-foot screening room. Visitors take part in a contest to guess the winners and whoever gets the most correct wins a free night in a suite like the Marlene Dietrich room, with its eight-foot circular bed. Free popcorn and treats will be served and the first 40 guests get a drink on the house. Want to make a night of it even if you don’t win? Rooms go for $99 that day, a 10 percent discount.
When Amanyara opened in Turks and Caicos in 2006, its goal was to be different from everywhere else. Amanresorts’ first – and only – Caribbean property foreswore Providenciale’s 12-mile-long Grace Bay Beach, and built instead on 99 acres off Northwest Point, alongside an 18,000-acre nature preserve and comparatively modest half-mile beach. On the one hand, this spared its guests the Grace Bay commotion (think: a nearly endless coastline flanked by a nearly endless string of luxury resorts). On the other, this left Amanyara’s guests just a five-minute boat ride from Northwest Point Marine National Park, one of the best places to scuba dive in the entire 40-island archipelago, where getting stuck inside a spiral of 60 horse-eye jacks along the 7,000-foot-deep coral wall while Caribbean reef sharks fin past is fairly typical. Guests at other hotels can expect an hour-long ride each way to those same dive sites.
East Coast vacationers will enjoy a few more options for Caribbean jet-setting this February, when both JetBlue and Continental launch new routes to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos (one of our Top 10 Beach Trips) – just in time for a much-needed, mid-winter vitamin D fix.
Budget darling JetBlue (the first low-cost carrier to head to the islands) kicks off flights to its 17th Caribbean destination from Boston’s Logan airport and New York’s JFK airport President’s Day weekend; Bostonians can escape to Turks and Caicos via weekly winter routes (November through April), and New Yorkers will see daily, year-round flights to Providenciales.
Starting February 18, Continental will fly from New York’s Newark airport to Providenciales once on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays; by March, flights will head south daily.
For general trip-planning information, see our Turks and Caicos Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, airfare, packages, and more travel deals.
WEEKLONG YOGA RETREAT
ELENA BROWER AT PARROT CAY, TURKS & CAICOS
OCTOBER 24-30, 2010
Elena Brower (pictured above; photo courtesy of Art of Attention) is one of New York City’s most popular yoga teachers – less for her celebrity clientele (although she teaches Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts) and more for how she uses the practice of anusara (heart-opening) yoga as method for greater self-awareness and healing. Expect five hours of yoga daily (three in the morning and two in the afternoon) punctuated by meals with healthy Como Shambhala cuisine (some of the best spa cuisine I’ve tasted) and time at the excellent Balinese-inspired spa. The small class size means guests will get direct interaction and feedback with Brower. Classes are held in a beautiful glass-walled pavilion.
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