Like getting deals on travel to great destinations?
Go to the Society of American Travel Writers annual auction, take a look and bid on your favorites. It's open to the public and great bargains can be be found.
A few samples:
A 1-week Italian language and cooking school in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, with accommodations for one, value $1,200; current bid $150.
|Fairmont Monte Carlo|
Closer to home, a 3-night getaway for up to 4 in a one-bedroom unit at the Ft. Lauderdale Windjammer Resort and Beach Club in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Value $600, current bid $75.
Bidding ends at 1 a.m. Monday, Nov. 21.
Give it a try at www.satw.org
Click on 2011 SATW Auction Live.
Chesapeake Bay Western Shore
For a relaxing, kicked-back holiday, try the lesser known WESTERN shore of Chesapeake Bay. I was recently up there to look around and to meet with representatives of other areas in the Mid-Atlantic states and found it a comforting combination of New England and the South.
The architecture is a blend of New England clapboard and peaked roofs with southern colonial. Trees, mainly deciduous hardwoods, give it a northern feel while water-oriented resorts provide the southern.
The slow cooking, locally sourced, environmentally friendly and sustainable food movements are well entrenched. Oyster farming is bringing back that delicacy but crab is still king, especially the Maryland crab cake. The best I had were at the Rod 'N' Reel in Chesapeake Beach, www. chesapeakebeachresortspa.com/rodnreel, and the Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill, www.ruddyduckbrewery.com, in Solomons, MD.
In Leonardtown, MD. where I met the oyster farmer, I also met Chef Loic Jaffres, a classically trained French chef whose Cafe des Artistes restaurant, www.cafedesartistes.ws, serves up classic country French cuisine. Not far away in Prince Frederick, you'll find Charleen Obal, a low country-born kitchen wizard, whipping up roux in her Saphron Restaurant, www.saphronrestaurant.com.
Small towns with interesting histories abound, often separated by rolling hills, farms and wide-shouldered lanes to accommodate the horse and buggies of the 300 Amish and 300 Mennonite families who live and farm in the area.
One of my favorite spots is Historic St. Mary's City, a Williamsburg-like living museum of 17th century life that commemorates the fourth permanent English settlement in the New World and Maryland's first capital, www.stmaryscity.org. Sotterley Plantation, www.sotterley.org, is another historic gem worth visiting.
B and Bs are a nice alternative, but the Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa, www.cbrspa.com, is a great headquarters for the family with good food, comfortable rooms, activities from the town water park to fishing right out the front door and a most unique chandelier.
The whole area is a bedroom community for Baltimore and Washington, DC which means when walking the sidewalks and stairs of our nation's capital has worn you out, take refuge on the western shore for a few days.
Maryland provides super free guides to this area including Southern Maryland Trails, www.somdtrails.com, and So Maryland, So Good Farm Guide, www.somarylandsogood.com.
Deals and Steals
Anniversary special now through Dec. 23: Orlando's Rosen Inns - AAA Three Diamond Hotels: Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Rosen Inn (closest to Universal .
$39.99 a night when booked by Oct. 31. Add a full American breakfast for 2 adults for $10 plus tax a night.
To book: Go to www.roseninns.com/anniversary or call 866-337-6733.
Let them do the cooking for Thanksgiving
Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, Young Harris, GA - www.brasstownvalley.com or 800-201-3205.
Residence Inn Amelia Island, FL - Book by Nov. 1 and receive a $25 dining credit at local restaurants. Gobble early - arrive Wednesday night and enjoy a complimentary evening holiday feast including beer and wine, a $50 value. Stick around and go shopping on Black Friday in your P.J.s. Book at www.residenceinnameliaisland.com or 866-245-6099.