Girls Getaways to Italy’s Amalfi Coast!

Positano

Girls Getaways… get on it!

ItalyVacations.com has just created a dream trip for single ladies looking for an exclusive week long “Girls Getaway” combining great food, wine and scenery with lots of free time to shop, dine and explore two beautiful locations in Italy, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast.

The journey will commence with a three night stay at one of the oldest hotels in Italy, NH Porta Rossa, a four-star hotel located in the historical center of Florence. The first full day will be spent visiting three characteristic villages of the Cinque Terre, a unique area suspended on steep cliffs overlooking the sea and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next day guests will embark on a full day tour of Chianti, an area known to have one of the best wines in the world and indulge in a fabulous wine tasting at a local farmhouse, followed by a traditional Tuscan lunch.

NH Porta Rossa

En route to Sorrento, guests will visit the city center of Naples to taste the original Pizza Margherita and enjoy a short stop in the picturesque town of Positano. In the evening, guests will arrive at Grand Hotel La Favorita, a four-star hotel situated on the corner of Sorrento’ s most famous alley ways where guests will embrace spectacular views of the gulf of Naples and the grand volcano Vesuvius. The next two days, guests can look forward to sublime shopping opportunities on full day excursions to the island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast. The last night in Sorrento guests will learn how to prepare a typical Italian Mediterranean dinner from a great local chef at Esperidi.

The view from Sorrento's Grand Hotel La Favorita

This hosted trip is $3,499 per person, double and is scheduled to depart the U.S. on Thursday, April 19, 2012 and return on Friday, April 27, 2012. The prices include all costs aside from gratuity for the guides: Round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) to Florence – return from Naples to New York on group flights; fuel surcharges and air taxes; arrival and departure airport transfers; three nights in a four-star hotel in Florence; four nights in a four-star hotel in Sorrento; seven breakfasts; first class train tickets from Florence to Naples; pizza lunch in Naples; cooking class with dinner in Sorrento; full day visit of Cinque Terre; full day visit of Chianti and vineyards; one day visit of the Amalfi Coast cities, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello; visit to Capri, with jetfoil to/from Sorrento; all hotel VAT taxes.

And let me just say… I did a very similar girls getaway to Italy when I was in my 20s and it was as amazing as I thought it would be!

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Tel Aviv: The Sunny Gay Friendly Haven of Israel

Max Kelerstein - Social Media Expert & Travel Aficianado

This week, Max Kelerstein, Social Media Expert, Chilango (Native of Mexico City), and Travel Aficionado living in NYC, brings our readers the gay friendly side of Israel. Kelerstein currently works for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide within their 360 Digital Influence group and you can follow him @TheMaxK.

When you think of Israel, you may not think of Tel Aviv as the gay friendly capital of the Middle East, but it certainly has developed itself as the most tolerant city in the region.  Quickly becoming much more popular, especially now that tourist destinations are realizing the spending power that the gay demographic represents. With a staggering spending power of $743 billion in 2010, according to Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts, destinations are finding that catering to the gay traveler can also be very profitable.

I recently traveled with my family to Tel Aviv, Israel this past September. Although we weren’t there to partake in the gay travel scene, I ventured out to see what gay-related things there were to do in the city. Normally I do this for every new place I go, simply in the off chance that I want to go to a venue where I can meet people I can relate to, and to get a sense of how gay-friendly the area is in case I want to go with my partner. To my surprise, Tel Aviv is a booming gay-friendly destination.

Safety First! (Note: Protection in their shorts) (c) http://www.serguapos.com

With a simple Google search, I was able to find one of the best gay destination sites I’ve ever encountered. Gay Tel Aviv Guide promotes GLBT tourism to the city and does a fantastic, even fabulous, job at it. It lets you know what things are happening in each calendar day, what kind of people go to each place, it even goes as far as to let you know what each bar and restaurant is good for, if it has specials, and which hours are the best. If I had any questions about where to go, this site had all the answers. Another convenient website is, Guide Gay Tel Aviv (www.serguapos.com).

Shpagat - Tel Aviv

Did I mention they even have a map of the gay spots in the city? I was able to find the nearest spots to where I was staying. All in all, this website showed me how great and easy it is for a tourist destination, like Tel Aviv, to attract and convince gay travelers that they should visit. One thing is for sure, Tel Aviv has jumped to the top of my list for when I want to vacation with my partner. Now if only other destinations can take Gay Tel Aviv Guide as an example, it will surely boost their favorability with gay travelers.

Travel Lotion… in a Stick!

 

Coconut Mango - Skin Stick

Whether on a plane, a train, car, or just at home, we found a moisturizer that’s good enough to eat with 99% natural Skin Sticks. So here’s the story: Heather Swanepoel, founder and chief formulator at Rinse, dreamed up the perfectly portable lotion stick straight from her own fiascos.

From lotion bottles exploding in her purse to TSA nightmares, Heather knew there had to be an easier way to stay moisturized on-the-go. With lip balms being so common and handy, she wondered why a regular lotion hadn’t made its debut in the format?

Soon, the Skin Stick recipe was perfected and ready to wow. Cocoa and Shea butters paired with soothing scents and oils, create a rich yet non-greasy lotion that is great for cuticles, knuckles, elbows, and anywhere else. It’s even helped with some user’s eczema and psoriasis spots as well. Each batch is handmade from premium ingredients and are gluten free.

With birthdays always on the horizon, and the holidays rapidly approaching, Skin Sticks and Pucker Sticks are a great stocking stuffer. Choose from fun scents like Ginger Lemongrass and Coconut Mango, or go with something more decadent like Chocolate, Almond and Honey, or Fresh Fig. For gift recipients with special lifestyles, Rinse also has a whole line of Vegan Friendly products they can feel good about using. Rinse Bath & Body Company all began in 2002 when Heather Swanepoel, a national account manager for Supercross, (yes that’s Supercross….meaning nothing but dirt bikes and man-made race tracks!), needed a more creative outlet. A simple class in soap making soon turned into an obsession that had friends and family members requesting her special concoctions. In 2003 the company was launched and now operates out of Monroe, Georgia with the help of other stay-at-home moms. Rinse Bath & Body products can be found in salons, spas, and boutiques nationwide, and at the International Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot.

Babymoons: Travel Tips for Expecting Parents

Here's to your babymoon!

Dear Expecting Parents: Before you dive into the world of dirty diapers and sleepless nights, take advantage of your current freedom and go on a babymoon! This pre-baby vacation helps you connect as a couple while relaxing and rejuvenating before the stress of parenthood hits. If you’re planning on having more than one child, make sure you take an extra long babymoon, since you may not have the luxury of traveling sans children for many more years. Consider the following tips to ensure comfort, value and fun as you plan this important getaway.
1. Travel During Your Second Trimester
This is the most comfortable part of your pregnancy. Hopefully morning sickness has passed and your growing belly isn’t making you feel like you’re coming apart at the seams. Keep in mind, however, that some cruise lines won’t sell tickets to women who are pregnant beyond 24 weeks, so check out this comprehensive list of cruise line policies before booking.
2. Visit Child-unfriendly Locations
Find a location you won’t visit when children are part of your family. For example, a Disney Cruise is easy to do with little ones, but a spa and shopping mall is next to impossible with a toddler. A two-hour flight is relatively easy with children, but a flight to Hawaii or overseas will bring parents to their breaking point.
3. Eat Together
Plan plenty of quiet meals with your partner and cherish those uninterrupted adult conversations. It gets significantly harder to have a relaxing meal when a toddler is throwing food and screaming at the dinner table.
4. Visit a Spa
During your second trimester, you can again indulge in a relaxing massage and planning this during the beginning of your babymoon will help set the tone for the rest of your trip. Pedicures are also great, since it will soon be increasingly difficult for you to reach your toes.
5. Use Gift Cards
Save on your babymoon costs and buy gift cards at a discounted rate for your airfare, hotel stay, dining, car rental and spa treatments. Sites like GiftCardGranny.com have hundreds of travel-related discount gift cards for purchase, from airlines to bed and breakfast websites. Remember to buy your gift cards a couple weeks in advance to account for order processing and mailing time.
6. Be Adult-only Active
Participate in adult-only activities, such as going to a movie, dancing the night away, visiting museums, catching a theater show, going to a sporting event, or eating in a nice restaurant. Basically, think of everything you would not do with a squirmy toddler in tow, then plan on doing those things. Read “8 Best Babymoon Trips” from Parents Magazine for destination ideas.
7. HAVE FUN!
Delight in being adults; you have plenty of years ahead to enjoy being a kid with your kid. Take advantage of this time to do grown-up activities.

Parent and Partner Expert, Maisie Knowles

Author Maisie Knowles is a working mother of two with three-year’s experience writing on parenting and partner issues: maisie@kinoliinc.com

Jamaica’s Strawberry Hill Hotel Re-Opens

Strawberry Hill Cottage - Jamaica

Right now, we’re sitting on a beach in Turks & Caicos, but since we’re in the process of compiling information on this fine island gem, we thought we’d inform our readers about another one – especially given the fact that we keep meeting so many lovely Jamaicans here in Turks. So, when we were just told that, located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous coffee-producing mountain ranges, Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, Strawberry Hill Hotel & Spa has re-opened this month following an extensive refurbishment of the property, we were all over it.

Listed in the New York Times #1 bestselling book, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, Strawberry Hill is 3100 feet above sea level and features one of the most awe-inspiring views of the Blue Mountains in one direction, as well as the city of Kingston in the other. On a clear day, one can see up to 40 miles from the property’s infinity-edge pool, and at night the city far below becomes a twinkling mirror of the night sky. The property features original antique furnishings, fully-restored, including romantic canopied four-poster beds, solid mahogany desks, and ornate hand-carved fretwork. Brand new soft-finishes round out the update with exquisite, hand-dyed linens by Royal Hut.

Strawberry Hill's Infinity Pool

The spa, a focal point of the high-up hideaway, specializes in stress-relief, body and soul rejuvenation, and wellness activities.  So, whether it’s a nature-curious guest wishing to explore, or one looking to get the blood pumping with an outdoor workout, Strawberry Hill’s verdant surroundings provide the ideal playground for both. On offer are hiking trails of varying intensity, grounds that are considered the most exotic tropical gardens on the island that include an organic coffee farm, and the opportunity to see most of Jamaica’s 26 beautiful endemic species of birds.

The exciting new menu at Strawberry Hill’s restaurant also feature a fresh take on classic Jamaican culinary favorites, highlighting the influence of the island’s multi-ethnic heritage of East Indian, Spanish, British, African, Chinese, and Lebanese settlers who have called Jamaica home since the 15th century. The organic fruits, vegetables, meats, and poultry used in Strawberry Hill’s kitchens are sourced from the property’s own gardens and Chris Blackwell’s personal farm, Pantrepant. Chefs now also serve up delicious local dishes prepared with traditional pimento-infused techniques, using the new stone grill on the property’s main lawn. Channeling the hotel’s rich music history, acclaimed DJ and Quango label founder, Bruno Guez, produced all new musical playlists for the public spaces that perfectly match the vibe of this cool high-altitude escape. iPods with pre-loaded Bruno Guez playlists are available for guests during their stay. We especially like that part.

Nightly rates from $235/night. From now until December 15, guests who book three nights will receive a complimentary de-stress spa treatment per person. Valid for travel completed before December 19, 2011.

www.islandoutpost.com/strawberry_hill or call 1.800.Outpost.

Thanksgiving Treats: Cape Cod, Mass

Classic Cape Cod - Seacrest's Red Restaurant

Red’s. It’s said to become a new institution. So, they’re inviting Jaunt Magazine guests a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving Day New England style at the new restaurant and lounge at Sea Crest Beach Hotel on Buzzard’s Bay. Drawing from New England’s rich sea fare and traditional American cuisine, Executive Chef Daniel Kenney’s prix-fixed menu (priced at $36 for adults and $14 for children 12 and under), conjures satisfying flavors of past Thanksgiving repasts.

Sea Scallops

Red’s Thanksgiving Day Menu includes a warm mug of Mulled Apple Cider (yummers), Warm Cape Cranberry Walnut Bread and Crusty Artisanal Rolls with Maple Butter for starters. The first course includes Sugar Pumpkin Bisque with Local Goat Cheese and Pumpkin Seeds, followed by Autumn Greens tossed with Dry Cape Cranberries, Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette, Roasted Parsnips, Spiced Walnuts and Narragansett Feta. For the main course, there’s Cider Glazed Whole Roasted Turkey with Cornbread Dressing, Creamy Maine Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Cape Cranberry Sauce, Giblet Gravy and Harvest Vegetables; Cedar Plank East Coast Salmon with Butternut Squash, Harvest Vegetables and Apple Butter; or Maple Glazed Country Ham, Golden Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Eastham Turnips and Pearl Onions.

What? You want more? Dessert choices include Macintosh Apple Crisp, with Organic Oats, and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or Pumpkin Bread and Butter Pudding with Caramel Ice Cream and Pumpkin Tuile.

Hungry yet?

Set on a private beach in Cape Cod’s legendary North Falmouth (the Cape, baby!), and surrounded by old-fashioned New England cottages along Buzzards Bay, Sea Crest Beach Hotel has emerged from a $15 million dollar renovation as the quintessential beach hotel.

Sea Crest Hotel

With 263 guest rooms and suites, some with fireplaces and private balconies, for those looking for Cape Cod hotels ideal for families or couples who seek a beachfront setting to create timeless memories or those  drawn by the romance of the Cape, meeting/wedding planners seeking expansive space combined with superb dining and warm, personalized service, this just might be your place.

http://www.seacrestbeachhotel.com

The Majesty of Provence

Lin Urman, Jaunt Magazine Contributor

Lin Urman, Culinary Blogger for On the Table, a popular foodie blog in Tel Aviv, and Saloona, a  blogger network for women and lifestyle, travels to Provence to show our readers all that’s unique about the lifestyle and food of Southern France.

I never planned to join my boyfriend in Provence during his last week of a professional chef training course. He was working as a well-regarded chef at one of Tel Aviv’s finest restaurant and wine bars, Yo’ezer, when he decided to take a course in Provence. I had just come back from a 6 month stint in India and was about to plan a trip to The Big Apple. I had already tasted the French lifestyle during my visit to Paris last year so visiting France again seemed entirely indulgent, but life can be surprising during the autumn season.

Somehow, as a result of a last minute decision, I found myself at the airport while my boyfriend easily arranged everything we needed.

He rented a car from Europcar with a very attractive deal (1750 kilometers for 5 days) and a nice double room in the 2 star property Hotel Del’ Amphitheatre which was more like 4 stars, and located in one of the greatest, central passageways of the old city or Arles. Alas, I landed in Marseille and we had the most incredible 5 days in autumnal Provence.

Arles Amphitheatre

Arles is a quaint 3,000 year old town in Provence with a historic Roman amphitheatre in the old part of the city. It’s highlights also include a spectacular Sunday market in the centre of the modern part, plenty of tiny streets with interesting shops and restaurants, and totally unexpected siesta hours. There is no rush in the air, but a beautifully warm sunset atmosphere with strong winds. An everyday “must”.  The first day we just hung around discovering the city (with 20 oysters in the bag), until the hunger guided us to Cilantro, a 1 star Michelin restaurant located in the old city.

Gazpacho at Cilantro

From the outside, it looked like a regular neighborhood passage, nothing special about it. From the inside, the restaurant’s interior was designed in a clean, chic style with plenty of light and sleek metal accents. The moment the food started to arrive to our table, I realized that Michelin stars have nothing to do with the tires, toilet, or the map on the table. The young, fresh staff of Cilantro (no one was too suited or tied) served us 5 dishes for 99 Euros which included shrimp and avocado cream with gazpacho, soft filet on top of purple potato cream, cream of artichoke, foie gras, and delectable dessert.

Thanks to the 1750 kilometers deal on the car, the next morning we began to discover the Provence area by visiting the small town of Les Boux, located 30 minutes driving from Arles.

Fine Fare at La Cabro D'or in Le Boux, France

In Les Boux, there are two incredible “must see” places; one is the old château atop the hill from which you can see amazing view. The second, and the most interesting for foodies like us, is the 5 star hotel of Provence, La Cabro D’or.

The hotel is located down a winding road and in its spectacular garden there is 1 Michelin star restaurant by the same name which serves lunch for the reasonable price of 50 Euros. We tasted great food and local wine, took some pictures with swans in the “lake” in the center of the garden, and went back to the road to reach Avignon.

Avignon, France

Avignon is a beautiful modern city with a huge citadel and spectacularly green park on the top of the hill where we were happy to land on the grass for our private siesta among fiddling ducks, residents of the centrally located fountain.

When evening came, we were back in Arles where we discovered a nice neighborhood tapas bar called Bodeguita where we had a light dinner of 5 small tapas plates and glasses of strong sangria.

The next morning, we decided to discover the beautiful and rich Saint Tropez, which we discovered was such a rich city that no matter how happy and successful you feel, it will make you still feel you are not happy or successful anymore!

Without any maps, we found the incredibly beautiful and sunny port for yachts and the old promenade, tiny streets, and very expensive shops. We grabbed an ice cream, hung around and went back to our modest self catered dinner in the room of the hotel in Arles, which was made up from selection of well known French baguette, sausages, fromages and tomatoes (yellow and purple).

The Market of Arles

When we awoke up, we caught the most famous market of the boulevard De La Croix Rousse in the capital city of French gourmet cuisine, Lyon. If Lyon is the gourmet spot, De La Croix Rousse is the most famous spot for it and, for that reason, it’s also a very easy to find without a map because huge signs guide you on how to get there from every point of the city.

Because we were as usually late – and because of the French like a good siesta – we missed the market, but on the top of the hill (where the market is supposed to be) we found amazing delicacies shops; one for sea products, one for sausages, and one for pastries. So, we did a little shopping tour and arranged a tasty break on a tiny piece of Provence grass along one of the highways on our way back to Arles.

It was a perfectly warm, tasty, and spontaneous visit which didn’t break our wallets and the taste of which I still have in my mouth. That’s how it goes when it’s a perfect match between Bon Voyage & Bon Appetite!