Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Escape to the Atlanta area countryside or surf in an airport

The Barn at Serenbe.

Wander into Serenbe in the Chattahoochee Hills (Chatt Hills to locals) south of Atlanta, stop for a sweet or snack at the Blue Eyed Daisy and you may think you’ve stumbled into a Brigadoon of sorts.

The only thing friendlier than the respect for the environment are the residents, all of whom seem to know one another. Strike up a conversation or kick around a soccer ball with the kids out back and you’ll want to join them.

Fortunately, you can. Unlike Brigadoon, Serenbe isn’t going anywhere. The Inn at Serenbe has become a favorite destination for corporate retreats, singles or families getting away from the city.

It’s all the vision of Marie and Steve Nygren who believe if you want to change the world, start in your own backyard. Theirs is acre upon acre of rolling, wooded countryside.

Speaking of acres, the 25-acre organic farm provides produce for the three restaurants - The Farmhouse, The Hil (Warning: Chef Hilary White's french fries are addictive) and Blue-Eyed Daisy - as well as residents and visitors at Saturday morning farmers' markets.

The Serenbe Playhouse is currently presenting productions of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Oklahoma!”. I can personally vouch for the latter. Word is out about this quality show in a unique outdoor setting so make reservations early (it's scheduled to run Thurs-Sun. through mid-August).

Beyond the environs of Serenbe are charming country roads and local places to eat that will take you back to another era. Explore and enjoy.

Surfing at Munich Airport.
 Surf to baggage claim?
Just when you thought you’d seen everything at airports, Munich, Germany’s is back with Surfing (!) today through August 24. August 9-10 you can catch the European Wave Riding championship. Assuming your flight is on time – or not, I guess.

If you already know how to surf, it’s free to try the waves  but advance registration is required, http://www.munich-airport.de/surfandstyle.

Glamp at Yellowstone.
Not too late for luxury camping
There’s still time to book a luxury camping trip in Yellowstone National Park this summer. Far and Away Adventures offers two-night camping trips in Yellowstone Lake’s back country with guides to do the setup of carpeted tents, air mattresses on raised platforms and handle the upscale food prep and service, not to mention show you parts of the park few get to experience.

For reservations, call 1-800-232-8588 or go to http://www.faraway.com/reservations/

Raft West Virginia's New River Gorge.
Labor Day splash
 What: Raft 2-for-1 Special. Reserve an all-day Upper or Lower New River rafting trip at $139 and get a second trip free. Rather stay longer? There are special packages available for that, too.

Where: Adventures on the Gorge Resort, near Fayettville, West Virginia.

When: Labor Day, 2014.

Small print: Does not include taxes, fees or gratuities.

Pick your favorite part of North Carolina ans find a special package.
Mountains, shore or in between
North Carolina is offering special packages for visitors to almost every part of the state. To see what appeals most to you, go to http://www.visitnc.com

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chikungunya is not an exotic dish

The latest scare to alarm travelers is Chikungunya, an untreatable mosquito borne virus that results in a dengue fever-type illness.  and in some cases, death.

It has spread throughout the Caribbean and is threatening th e livelihood of the world's most tourist-dependent area.

Originally discovered in Tanzania in the 1950s, in December 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported local transmission of chikungunya on the French side of Saint Martin. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people. This is the first time that local transmission of chikungunya has been reported in the Americas.

It has affected more than 4,600 people in a little over six months, according to a reports from the Pan American Health Organization.

What is it?
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

There is no cure for the disease. Though it’s not fatal, it causes fever, pain, fatigue and can lead to chronic joint pain. 

The mosquito that carries chikungunya virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.

Where is it?

Africa, Asia, islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific and n ow the Caribbean.  As of June 17, 2014, the following Caribbean countries have reported cases of chikungunya:
British Virgin Islands
Dominican Republic
French Guiana
Puerto Rico
Saint Barthelemy
Saint Kitts
Saint Lucia
Saint Martin (French)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sint Maarten (Dutch)
Turks and Caicos Islands
US Virgin Islands name.

What should I do?
Don't cancel your travel plans; chikungunya is in the U. S. too.

Do avoid mosquito bites which means traveling with and using mosquito repellents.

Which ones?
Consumer Reports recommends starting with plant-based repellents such as Repel Lemon Eucalyptus or Natrapel. If you use deet, which can cause serious reactions, stay with products using lower concentrations, never more than 30 percent deet. Better to apply and reapply a 15 percent deet product.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Atlantic City to Unaccompanied (?) Tours On the Radio

On the boardwalk at Atlantic City, NJ. Photo © Judy Wells.
Casinos, urban renovation, steel piers, diving horses and salt water taffy, yes, but an island? Never thought of Atlantic City that way.

Urban renovation has a long way to go, casinos are, well, casinos, the steel pier is concrete, there are no more diving horses, but the ocean and salt water taffy are very much there.

Ducktown for Italian food. Photo © by Judy Wells.


Ducktown and the back or bayside are where the natives gathers. Southern Italian food rules Ducktown - Angelo's Fairmount Tavern, Formica Bros. Bakery and Angeloni's II - are particularly popular. Best northern Italian meal? Definitely the elegant Capriccio's in Resorts overlooking the ocean.

For breakfast head to Gilchrist's at Gardner Bay where blueberry pancakes melt in your mouth, the service is fast and friendly and the marina view from the 34th floor is hard to beat.

It's high season at the moment so don't expect any deals. After Labor Day when schools are back in session but the weather is still good, keep an eye out for specials.

Spa or Spaaah?

View-tific Lap pool room at Immersion at Borgata's. Photo © by Judy Wells. set up for a special event.
Spa prices are pretty much the same so you might as well go for the best. My vote goes to the sophisticated Immersion Spa at Borgata Water Club, a world away from beachfront casinos, and the efficient Spa at nearby Golden Nugget.

Not Your Mother's Tours

Forget the "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium" image of packaged tours. Travelers' expectations have changed and so has the tour industry.

Take Collette Tours, which many may remember from their come with us to Italy commercials. In 2014 they are paying homage to Elvis  - Jan. 8, 2015 will have been his 80th birthday - with an eight-day, three-city - New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville - tour of Southern American music hubs. More far-reaching, a 15-day tour of South Africa's floral wonders.

New in 22015 are four- to six-night city tours which include morning activities such as guided orientation tours, local hosting and some meals but leave afternoons and evenings free for your own independent explorations. Initial packages will be for Florence, Rome, Venice, New Orleans, San Francisco, Paris, Dublin, London, Barcelona, Madrid, French Riviera, Beijing, New York and San Antonio.

Prices go from $999, land only, for Beijing to $1,749 for Paris and New York and $1,899 for Barcelona.

Another company, Lynott Tours, offers escorted, self-drive, car and driver and city packages with day tour options.

Confederate Re-Enactments

Two unique events during the Civil War - the Union Army's arrest and deportation of Roswell, GA's female mill workers and the Confederate capture of the Shriver House, now a heritage museum, and the battle's gruesome aftermath - will be reenacted during July.


What: Confederate sharpshooters take over a strategic house and how 2,400 residents coped with 7,000 dead men, 5,000 dead horses and 21,000 seriously injured soldiers.
When: 5-9 p.m., July 5, 2014.
Where: Shriver House Museum, 309 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, PA.
 717-337-2800,  www.shriverhouse.org.


What: In July 1864, The Union Army arrest 400 mill workers for treason and send them north via train to prison camps. Includes encampment by Federal troops on the front lawn of Barrington Hall, demonstrations of 1860s formal dancing, Civil War Era music, 1860s style (wet plate) photographers – weather permitting and a sutler (1860s merchant who followed the troops).
When: 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m., July 12 & 13, 2014.
Where: Town Square, Roswell, GA.
 770-640-3855; www.visitroswellga.com

Frugal Furnishings

Go to the source for good deals.
What:  Furniture Festival and Clearance Sale features meet-ups with artisans and craftsmen plus markdowns of up to 60-70 percent on name furniture brands at North Carolina's famed furniture mart.
When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. July 25and 26, 1-6 p.m. July 27.
Where: 2220 US Highway 70 SE; Hickory, NC.
800-462-MART; www.hickoryfurniture.com


Rail to Italy's Highlights

Shop on Amalfi Coast. Photo© by Judy Wells.
What: Mid-week 14-day highlights of Italy package - two nights in Venice, four nights in Florence, three nights in Salerno and four nights in Rome - via high-speed train (second class seating) with air conditioning, reclining seats, catering, free Wi-Fi and live TV.Includes cooking class, tours of
Cinque Terre, Sienna and San Gimignano, ticket for 48-hour hop-on, hop-off bus in Rome plus transfer to airport.
When: Daily departures now until Oct. 31, 2014.
How much: Starts at$2,665 in three-star hotels, $2,925 in four-star, land only.
Fine Print: Per person, double occupancy, does not include air fare or city tax  (must be paid daily in euros to hotel.
Tour Crafters, 800-482-5995; www.tourcrafters.com ("Special Offers" "Deal of the Week").

Monday, May 12, 2014

Relive "Born Free," Royal Redo on St. Simons Island, The Big 5-0 and more radio goodies

George Adamson and friend.

Elsa's Legacy

What: Born Free Safari in Kenya celebrating 30th anniversary of the book and film Born Free with its star, Virginia McKenna.

When: October 22-31, 2014.

Where: Elsa's Kopje, where the lioness was reintroduced to the wild; bush breakfast by Elsa's grave in Meru National Park where her genetic offspring roam. Joy Adamson's Camp, where Penny, the leopard, was reintroduced to the wild in the Samburu region.
Tortillis Camp, the luxury lodge locale of Born Free Foundation projects within the Amboseli plains; known for its elephants and expert Cynthia Moss' research center.

Cost: $6,3345 per person (based on double occupancy) includes accommodation at the three camps, all internal flights, conservation and park fees, game drives, bush walks, meals and sundowners, membership in Flying Doctors Society, laundry and airstrip transfers. International flights separate.

Contact: www.chelipeacock.com, info@chelipeacock.co.ke.

Pool areas, King and Prince.

New Look for King and Prince Beach Resort

"No indoor pool, new restaurant, totally renovated lobby" pretty much sums up the winning new look for this popular historic resort.

Lobby, King and Prince.

Join the wildlife at King and Prince Golf Club.
Golf? By the way, greens fees at the golf club on the island's north end are $115, but resort guests play for $79 (lower with specials). Take a virtual flyover tour of the beautiful course at http://www.kingandprince.com/golf-flyover-tour.aspx.

Tip: Pro shop stocks the best selection of women's golf gear and apparel I've ever seen at a club, including golf sandals so good looking you can wear them out to dinner!

Win a Golden Isles Getaway

What: 4-night stay in a boutique cottage for four guests, $250 toward food and drinks at top restaurants, 12 passes to top attractions.

How: Be at least 21 years old and enter at http://www.goldenisles.com/contests?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GOLD-1610+Contest+Focused+Email&utm_content=GOLD-1610+Contest+Focused+Email+CID_bb6a02f5db082a029dc50c135cb55aa4&utm_source=Email%20Marketing&utm_term=Enter%20Now.

Hi-Ho, Rockin' New Ride at Disney

We fell in love with Walt Disney's version of the seven dwarfs now try their ride. The new Seven Dwarfs' Mine Train has its grand opening May 28 in New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.

We have it on good authority that it is a winner, more enjoyable than gut-wrenching.

Mission 50

What: Mission Inn Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary of continuous family ownership by honoring 50 couples with free vow renewals.  

When: November 23, 2014.

Where: La Fontana Courtyard, Mission Inn Resort, Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.

Cost: Selected couples receive free vow renewal with champagne toast, rose petal drop and Sunday Brunch at La Hacienda at $31.99 per person.

Apply: www.missioninnresort.com/gvrc

Hot Luxury Deals at Boulders Resort

What: Discounted rates for rooms (as low as $99 a night), golf, spa, shopping at posh resort with couples, golfers' and family packages.

Where: The Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona.

When: May 26 to September, 2014.

·        Nightly accommodations in a private Casita
·        A daily $15 per adult breakfast credit
·        Parking – Complimentary valet or self-parking
·        20% off spa services at the Waldorf Astoria Spa and unlimited access to the facility and fitness classes
·        Complimentary golf club rentals/shoes
·        Complimentary tennis racket rental
Package starts at $159/night based upon double occupancy.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ride 'em experiences

Ever think about riding, roping, herding and scuffing your boots at a dude or guest ranch? How about solving a murder, yoga, fishing, painting, gourmet dining? You can in Colorado. Here's a list of what and where.

Art/Painting Workshop Weeks:  Art & Color Clinic week at Colorado Trails Ranch Sept 14th-21st. An adult-only week, guests will learn everything from drawing to painting from an exceptionally talented artist. Creative juices flow at 4UR Ranch during Quiller Watercolor Workshop May 31 - June 6, Sept 21- 27.

Women’s Yoga Weeks: Yoga & Horseback Retreat at the Home Ranch features an all-inclusive, luxurious week of health, wellness and relaxation centered on horseback riding, horsemanship instruction, gentle yoga, healthy gourmet dining, massage, and deep relaxation.

Murder Mystery Weekends: Sundance Trail Ranch.

Fishing Groups: North Fork Ranch specializes in corporate and family group fly fishing experiences.

Fall Culinary Retreats/Weekends: Five-course dinners, wine-tastings, and the opportunity to participate in hands-on cooking demonstrations with an extraordinary "farm-to-table" culinary team.

Horsemanship Weeks: Learn or improve their riding skills and understanding the horse psyche.

Cattle Drives: Be real cowboys and help move cattle from their winter range on the ranch to greener pastures in the mountains.

Other specialty or themed weeks: Rodeo Weeks, Weanling Weeks, Adult and Couples Weeks, Girl’s Western Week Hideout, Fall Colors Weeks, Cowgirl Camps, Jubilee Days Weeks, Cheyenne Frontier Days Weeks.

For details: Go to Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association (CDGRA), 27 certified ranches located throughout the mountains and mesas of Colorado, www.coloradoranch.com.