travel world SEPTEMBER 2013
I N T E R N AT I O N A L M A G A Z I N E
the Luxury of Experience
Unexpected Luxury in South India
Relaxing in Kerala’s Warm Embrace
EXCEPTIONAL B&BS IN FRANCE: Fine Country Living
MUSTANG MONUMENT: A Western Safari
Luxe Cave Grand Canyon Caverns and Inn
Florida’s Historic Gasparilla Inn
The Land of Plenty Secrets
SERVING SOJOURNERS IN SWITZERLAND The Magazine Written by North American Travel Journalists Association Members
travel world SEPTEMBER 2013
F E A T U R E S
I N T E R N AT I O N A L M AG A Z I N E
Luxury of Experience
7 RELAXING IN KERALA’S
WARM EMBRACE STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY BY BENNETT W. ROOT, JR.
34 Mustang Monument:
A Western Safari
STORY BY ANN TERRY HILL PHOTOGRAPHY BY KRISTI JOHNSON
16 Exceptional B&Bs in France: Fine Country Living BY GARY LEE KRAUT
42 SERVING SOJOURNERS
STORY BY PETER I. ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY BY PETER & HEDY ROSE
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Tropical Bliss: Unexpeced Luxury in South India STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY BY STACEY WITTIG
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Florida’s Historic Gasparilla Inn
STORY BY DALE DUNLOP
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Relaxing in Kerala’s Warm Embrace
Another Face of Exotic, Exciting
Revealing • Rejuvenating • Rewarding Text and Photography by Bennett Root
e have always found traveling in India revealing, rejuvenating and rewarding. This trip, we added “relaxing.” In a vast country offering a tantalizing luxury of experience, we decided to visit south western India, a world away from the monuments of the Golden Triangle, the spirituality of the Ganges plain or the stark beauty of the Himalaya range. More tropical, with an abundance of sunshine warming its fields and estuaries, the rhythm of life here allowed us to slow down, be present in the moment and enjoy the delights of wide beaches, “backwater” canals and historic hill stations.
erala (emphasis on the first syllable) is a relatively narrow strip of land stretching south of Goa towards the Indian Ocean on the western side of the Indian peninsula. It is bathed by the Arabian Sea and well-watered by a network of canals fed by a plethora of rivers flowing from the country’s mountainous backbone, the Western Ghats. Barely north of the equator, its days are warm and its nights are sumptuous. Lifestyle is tropical and the pace is serene. Not really reflective of our prior trips to India, this southern state indeed seemed to have been kissed by God, offering a naturally relaxed but exciting experience of a rich culture with welcoming people living thousands of years of tradition.
erala’s geography created a land watered by over forty rivers and crisscrossed by connecting canals and estuaries which, combined, provided the main arteries of transportation for thousands of years. Before the time of Christ, spices grown in the high mountain air of the Western Ghats came to port on the backs of elephants and in the holds of riverboats. Rice grown in Kerala’s fields both fed boatmen’s families and itself came to market on rice boats of distinctive local design. Today, spices and rice remain important segments of the Keralan economy, but delivery systems have changed, putting elephants out of work and leaving boatmen to reinvent their livelihood. But the rivers and canals remain, and life on these backwaters has evolved to add a tourist component to daily life in the form of rice boats converted to houseboats for those seeking a laidback trip through Kerala’s waterways. We signed on for this experience, and were glad we did so.
ften houseboat cruises begin in Alleppey. For many, the experience is a day trip around Vembanadu Lake. However, we wanted to overnight to drink in the full experience of the backwaters, including an evening away and a sunrise that would give us an authentic experience of Kerala. We had our travel planner select a boat and captain that could take us to the small canals along which Kerala’s farmers and their families live and work. Our boat would accommodate eight, perfect for our party of three couples and our guide. When we arrived at the embarkation point, we found our houseboat ready—a fully provisioned galley and neatly made up bedrooms perfectly tucked inside the fully re-appointed frame of an historic riverboat. While we sipped a glass of white wine, the crew whisked our luggage and gear aboard, and we were off
hat we noticed immediately, and it couldn’t have been more welcome, was the quiet. There is a magical, intimate ambiance on a small boat slowly slipping through tropical lowlands, and we all felt a deep relaxation in our bones and in our souls. We found the promise of a few days in Kerala fulfilled in the warming sun and cooling breezes, as we rocked ever so gently through the blue-green water.
t dawn, in a mist on the backwaters, there is a very spiritual quality to the morning. All around us were fishermen, manning a fleet of canoes, harvesting mollusks from the shallow waters of the lake we were crossing. A rake, a net full of mud and shellfish barely bigger than your thumb and a blend of remarkable balance and effort, would yield a boat bottom full of treasure. As we slid silently toward our noon destination, the harvest process was repeated time and time again. Our captain knew some of the men, and a couple of times we stopped briefly to say hello and watch the day’s work begin. Smiles and gently warm words were the order of the morning, reinforcing the spirituality of the experience. Time and place hardly mattered in this meditative moment. Indeed, Kerala’s backwaters provide a powerful lesson in the language of quiet and the serenity of simple living.
o photographer willingly misses the dawn’s early light, and so I quietly dressed in the dark, grabbed my tripod and wide angle rig, joined the captain and another shooter for a short walk around a point where we had docked for the night, fully expecting an exuberant sunrise over east facing rice paddies. Not to be—not this morning. Instead, we found ourselves enveloped in a low lying, soft mist that muted the sunrise, but gave an ethereal, otherworldly look to the waterway and the mollusk fishermen out raking in their catches. Disappointed by a lost sunrise, but enchanted by the magical feel of early morning on the backwaters, we returned to our houseboat and cast off for a morning’s cruise to the “heritage” hotel that would become our forward base of operations.
n hour or so from Alleppey—time hardly mattered—we hugged the south shore, fifty meters from the berm that separated the waterway from apparently endless rice paddies. Rice that feeds the nation is planted and harvested twice a year here, and the fields were already spring green. Occasionally, small homes punctuated the view, canoe in front, bicycle leaning against a porch or palm tree. We had a late lunch, fresh fish, of course, local vegetables and curried rice, and sunk into the couches under the boat’s front canopy, or lounged on the deck. Our pace and pulse slowed, our breathing deepened. Locals threw nets into the waters from canoes. Birds circled overhead or screeched from palms on either side. A mother walked two kids in school uniforms and daypacks along the pathway on our left. Bucolic, indeed. And restorative at a primal level.
ometime later, the captain eased us to a stop and we transferred to two small canoes. From the main waterway, we headed into a smallish canal—perhaps 15 feet wide—a local “road” in this complex of canals and estuaries. Surprisingly, life was not so languid or quiet here. Houses lined both sides of the canal, each with steps to the water and the ubiquitous canoe. Clothes and dishes were washed. Kids swam or bathed. Animals and birds chattered. People stopped conversations to smile and wave. Canoes poled by (on our left, the reverse of passing on roads!). Realistically, we were only a short distance from the high rise hotels of Kerala’s beaches, but in our beings, we were in the heart of Kerala, feeling the warmth of the land and the people, soaking up a luxurious experience that would make this trip stand out from so many others in its simplicity and essential authenticity.
ack on the main waterway, light faded, a deep orange sun pasted in a darkening sky, descending over a fringe of silhouetted palm trees. We chatted, enjoyed a cold beer and shared experiences from the day as the crew set the table for dinner. Unlike some other cuisines in India, the Keralan palette includes both fish and meat, as well as a range of vegetable casseroles, many heated with cardamom, turmeric and curry or sweetened with vanilla beans, cinnamon or coconut. In a ridiculously small galley (I hesitate to say kitchen) tacked on the rear of our houseboat, the chef managed to turn out a range of dinner choices that would have kept a discriminating and demanding foodie engaged and enchanted. I am not such a foodie, and in fact struggle a bit with very heavily spiced or exotic foods, so I was pleased to find all the needs on my food pyramid satisfied with flavors and textures that happily complemented our day. And then there was dessert, tea, a firm bed and very sound sleep.
The Coconut Lagoon
warm welcome from our magnanimous host greeted us as we docked in Kumarakam at the Coconut Lagoon hotel, one of India’s four dozen or so “Heritage Hotels” designated by the Ministry of Tourism. As you might expect in a country with a patrimony which includes the British Raj, a property doesn’t just become a “heritage” hotel. There are rules—pages and pages of guidelines. True to our experience, this “heritage” hotel met the guideline requirements: “The facade, architectural features and general construction should have the distinctive qualities and ambience in keeping with the traditional way of life of the area. The architecture of the property … should not normally be interfered with. Any extension, improvement, renovation, change in the existing structures should be in keeping with the traditional architectural styles and constructional techniques harmonising (sic) the new with the old.” (from Ministry of Tourism Heritage Hotel Guidelines)
uch a property beautifully fit our desired Kerala discovery program and complemented our backwater tour. At the Coconut Lagoon, buildings were relocated from local sources and skillfully reconstructed to reflect current tastes of discriminating travelers. Hotel processes were well harmonized with sound ecological principles and there was a sustaining symbiosis with the adjacent village which provided food stuffs, local arts and crafts and of course, workers for the hotel. Each of these features on this “heritage” property contributed to our very satisfying sampling of Keralan life.
fter lunch, we took a small boat around the hotel’s butterfly garden and bird sanctuary to the village adjacent to the hotel. It was plain enough to see how agriculture and local crafts central to village life integrated with the hotels “heritage” features. With smiles, broken English, hand gestures and some help from our guide, we were able to gain perspective, such as understanding how elementally important the coconut was, beyond the obvious uses of the meat and milk, to this village and to Kerala generally.
era, from which the name Kerala derives, actually means “coconut” in Mayalayum, the local language. Husks or “hair” from the coconut’s shell, was pulled off and “spun” into strong strands of string by a young village mother skillfully rubbing her palms together. Strands could then be woven together to create “coconut cables” with a multitude of uses. Add a little automation, and this traditional process became an efficient and sustaining home industry. Similarly, at a home a short walk from that where ropes were made, leaves in coconut fronds were dexterously interwoven (and ends bound off) to provide mats, fences, wind breaks and roofs. The lady making these mats spoke only Mayalayum, but her young daughter (11 years old), when she overcame her shyness, spoke English easily and surprisingly well. Literacy in Kerala is the highest in all of India at over 93%, making travel here relatively easy. And the girl was possessed of a smile to die for, which, with her language skills and study, spoke well for the future of India, Kerala and this little girl.
here was another discovery awaiting us about Kerala’s coconuts: sap from the coconut tree itself could be tapped, harvested and fermented into a light alcoholic beverage called kallu or generically, palm wine. Kallu is roughly analogous to a Beaujolais nouveau in the sense it is to be consumed when made, except kallu is harvested daily, year round in this tropical climate. And consumed daily. To demonstrate the local technique, the village “toddy tapper” was kind enough to climb a convenient coconut tree and provide us a small libation, while preparing us for the dinner and dance still to come. Pleasant to the taste when consumed promptly, and, we were told, very effective too, this coconut byproduct is regulated (and taxed) by the government.
ater that evening, we enjoyed another local art formâ€”mohiniyattam, a sixteenth century Keralan classical dance. Traditionally, the dance is performed by a woman dancing solo, telling the story, for example, of Lord Vishnu, disguised as an enchantress (mohini) whose sensual movement (aattam) lures the demons away from the nectar of immortality. This evening, there were two dancers who performed various stories to the spare accompaniment of a drum and finger cymbals. I am not sure about how the demons were affected, but each dancer definitely captivated the audience with their sumptuous costume, elegantly sculpted movements and refined gestures.
Mohiniyattam (The Dance) 13
easured in statute miles, Kerala is half a world away from our home. In its traditions and daily rituals, it is farther than that. But when given an opportunity to experience not only the natural warmth of this tropical paradise, but the warmth of its people—uncommon in our thirty years of traveling—we found ourselves very close to and in touch with the Kerala experience. The beauty and quiet simplicity of life on the backwaters, the earthiness of village life, the spirituality of a fabled dance, the aromas and tastes of spices and herbs beyond our common palette, the color and visual arrangement of elements of everyday routine, though each a world apart, seemed easily accessible, deeply enjoyable, and wonderfully real.
If You Go . . . Travel Like a Maharaja!
Travel in India generally and in Kerala is neither difficult nor dangerous, but it can be inefficient and frustrating. We finessed this challenge by engaging a professional travel planner that provided both local accessibility for us and on-the-ground resources at the destination. Matching our travel objectives with local short cuts, comfortable trains, and guides that were both knowledgeable and helpful made our trip memorable for what we did, not what was done to us. For India, and for Kerala especially, we recommend using The Travel Planners (www.ttpkerala.com, 877-930-2701). In thirty years of globetrotting, we’ve traveled like royalty and schlepped like peons. We like the former much better—it’s good to be the king.
The Travel Planners maximized the value of our time and our trip. We felt we were traveling like a Maharaja. 14
E xceptional B & Bs
Fine Country Living 17
Off the Beaten Track ... By Gary Lee Kraut
Think of luxury accommodations in France and visions of palatial hotels with liveried doormen, plush lounges, single-malt bars, Michelin-starred restaurants, and discreet concierges come to mind. But another kind of luxury exists, one that beckons travelers off the main roads and into a parallel universe of fine country living: luxury B & Bs, les chambres d’hôtes de luxe. From historic chateaux, to rural hideaways, to vineyard-side manors, the best B&Bs provide enchanting accommodations in remarkable settings and terrific insights through their owners— your hosts—into the culture, history and cuisine of the regions you’re visiting. Excellent B&Bs can be found throughout France at a price range of about $125 to $350 per night for two people, and breakfast is always included in the price. On certain evenings, some chambres d’hôtes also offer a table d’hôtes or guest table where those spending the night can enjoy a home-cooked, sometimes gastronomic, and typically locally sourced meal, often at a reasonable price considering the quality of the fare, including wine. When a table d’hôtes is available, travelers are well-advised to take advantage of the opportunity at least once during their stay. B&Bs are defined in France as properties having one to five paid guest rooms (typically with private bathrooms) to accommodate no more than 15 people. Some establishments may have family rooms or large suites that can accommodate three or four guests.
City and Town B & Bs Fine B&Bs can be found in cities as well, though I tend to avoid them because I feel like an intruder sneaking into someone’s home when I return from a late night out. In smaller towns though, I’m happy to take advantage of an occasional chat with a helpful owner (and more likely to come home early). Local tourist boards maintain online lists of such accommodations, along with hotel information. For example, in the center of the town of Blois, whose castle is the key to understanding the royal architecture of the Loire Valley, I’ve received a warm welcome from Bernard Thomas and a sizable contemporary room at La Maison de Thomas, whose breakfast room doubles in the evening as a wine bar that served as my key to understanding wines in this part of the valley.
ienvenue au Château is a non-profit association of 142 private owners of chateaux, manor houses and historic homes who provide accommodations for paying guests and who comply with the association’s charter of quality. The member properties are largely located in the western half of France, with a dense cluster in the castle-rich Valley of the Kings, the Loire Valley. Chateau B&Bs aren’t to be confused with chateau-hotels offering the latest amenities and round-the-clock room service. Instead, what makes these special is the history of the property, the period furnishings in some of the guest bedrooms, and the quality of the welcome.
Bienvenue au Château
Géraud and Stéphanie de Laffon’s Chateau de Gizeux, 14 miles north of the Loire River in the central part of the valley, is an excellent example. Like many of the Bienvenue au Chateau properties, Gizeux has been in the same family for generations, so your hosts themselves are a part of the history of the home. Through direct descendants, Géraud’s family has owned Gizeux since 1786, while portions of the chateau date back hundreds of years further. Its American connection is far more recent. Last year, the French Heritage society, an American non-profit donor organization that helps fund the restoration of French heritage sites both public and private, announced that it would contribute $30,000 to the restoration of one of centerpiece rooms of Gizeux, its late 17th-century Gallery of Chateaux, which guests are invited to visit. Photo by Marie Gabrielle de Saint Venant
Gîtes de France G
France’s Widest B & B Network
îtes de France is a network of 6,600 voluntary B&B owner members classified as one to five épis (ears of wheat) according to defined standards. In the upper end, there are plenty of chateaux and manor B&Bs in this network along with handsomely converted farmhouses and other homes of character. A countryside B&B sporting four or five épis would be considered luxurious.
extensive knowledge of the organic and biodynamic wines and vineyards produced in the region.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to exclude three épis from that list because there’s more to fine country living than ears. There’s also the mouth in the case of B&Bs where your host is also a great cook. Such is the case at Pascale and Olivier Schvirtz’s three-ear, four-guestroom + one-yurt B&B La Pinsonnière, 12 miles south of Saumur in the Loire Valley. Schvirtz operates the wine-happy restaurant La Robe et Le Palais in Paris, so in addition to a warm welcome and comfortable lodging at La Pinsonnière, he will, on weekends and during summer and school vacations, bring the best of the region to the guest table for a delicious meal. Visitors can also benefit from Schvirtz’s
Murray’s chateau—part 15th century, part 18th century, all brought together in 1860s version of Extreme Makeover: Chateau Edition—is located in the former province of Le Perche, now known for its rural chic, its charming villages, its forest walks, its craftsmen, and its Percheron draft horses. Looking beyond the immediate area, Blavou is equidistant between the D-Day Beaches of the Normandy and the chateaux of the Loire Valley, each about two hours away, with the Cathedral of Chartres a bit closer. Therefore, travelers who prefer daytripping to changing lodgings from region to region can explore each of those three diverse areas before returning home to relax at your host’s guest table and living room.
The more notable B&Bs, such as those described here, are accustomed to foreign visitors, so there’s rarely a language problem for English-speaking travelers. For extra reassurance, there are also plenty of English B&B owners in France. Nigel Murray, your host at the Chateau de Blavou on the southern edge of Normandy, is one of them.
English spoken here!
B & Bs in Wine Country Wine regions are particularly ripe territory for B&Bs. In the heart of Burgundy, for example, just a few miles from Beaune and some of the region’s prestigious wine villages (Pommard, Mersault, etc), Christian and Laetitia Remoissenet have transformed a medieval farmhouse into a B&B of contemporary luxury (including a small heated pool) called La Ferme de Marjolet. One place to look for other top B&Bs in wine country is through the website Clévacances.com. Clévacances is a label for B&Bs as well as holiday home rentals with an official imprimatur given to properties by each department (comparable to an American country), with from one to five keys, like stars for hotels. Though Clévacances listings include far more than wine country B&Bs, that’s where I first came across Catherine Gastaldi’s elegant and sunny La Bastide de Brurangère, a five-key property, located in the Vaucluse area of Provence. There are vineyards as well as numerous challenging biking routes in that area. On recent explorations in Provence, I visited Château de Gigognan, a chateau not in the aristocratic sense but in the wine sense. Located between Orange and Avignon in the Chateauneuf-du-Paper winegrowing area, this is a worthwhile halt for those interested in biking along this portion of the Rhone Valley. While the owners, Anne and Jacques Callet, aren’t always present, you can enjoy the wines they produce here .
If you go: GITES DE FRANCE: http://en.gites-de-france.com/ BIENVENUE AU CHATEAU: http://www.bienvenueauchateau.com/en CLÉVACANCES: http://www.clevacances.com/EN/chambres-hotes.html
LA MAISON DE THOMAS Guillaume Thomas (and his father Bernard) 12 rue Beauvoir 41000 Blois Tel. +33 (0)2 54 46 12 10 http://www.lamaisondethomas.fr/ 4 bedrooms. €90-100 ($119-132) for two. No guest table because plenty of restaurant choices nearby.
B & Bs of Character ... and of Characters I find B&Bs especially attractive when I want to explore areas that seem to be in the middle of nowhere—because with some guidance from my host I soon discover that nowhere is actually somewhere. Not only have I found homes of great character in such areas but also owners who are themselves wonderful characters. So it is with Fred Pollini (della Libera) who heartily welcomes guests well off the beaten track at his exceptional B&B La Fontaine de Grégoire in Saint-Urcize. Saint-Urcize is a village on the Plateau d’Aubrac, a cattle-strewn zone overlapping three regions in the center of France. Pollini has magnificently restored an old manor built by a notary in 1788, creating a home of rustic luxury with five large guest bedrooms, a breakfast room with a great fireplace, and a vast attic billiard room/lounge–the perfect gathering spot after a day of fly-fishing in the nearby Bès River. (Pollini is known in international fly-fishing circles as the man to see when you want to cast for trout in these parts). There’s no guest’s table at this B&B, because just around the corner Pollini’s wife Isabelle operates the saloon-like restaurant and bar (and no-star hotel) Chez Remise. Chez Remise has been in Isabelle’s family for five generations, though Pollini’s mark is clearly on the walls: they’re decorated with fly-fishing paraphernalia. It’s a curious place indeed— which is exactly what a traveler wants when well off the beaten track.
CHATEAU DE GIZEUX Géraud and Stéphanie de Laffon 37340 Gizeux +33-(0)2-4796-4518 http://www.chambres-hotes-chateau.com/ index.php?lg=en 5 bedrooms, €130-180 ($172-$238). Two of the rooms can service as family rooms for a couple with 2 children, 240-260€ ($317-$343). Guest table possible. LA PINSONNIÈRE Olivier and Pascale Schvirtz rue des Clos 49260 Sanzier Vaudelnay (a village near Puy Notre Dame) Tel. +33-(0)2-31-59-12-95 or +33-(0)6-61-70-63-42. http://www.la-pinsonniere.fr 4 rooms and 1 yurt, €66-82 ($87-108). Guest table weekends, summer and school vacations.
CHATEAU DE BLAVOU Nigel Murray 61400 Saint Denis sur Huisne Tel. +33 (02) 33 25 68 90 http://www.chateaudeblavou.com/ 5 bedrooms, €160-185 ($211-244). Guest table possible. LA FERME DE MARJOLET Christian and Laetitia Remoissenet 21190 Monthelie (Burgundy) Tel.: +33 (0)3 80 20 00 16 www.lafermedemarjolet.com/en/ 3 large suites, €120-190 ($158-251). Guest table on Tuesday and Friday evenings. Cooking classes possible. La Bastide de Brurangère Catherine Gastaldi 137, chemin des Rols 84380 Mazan + 33 (0) 6 75 24 59 29 http://labastidedebrurangere.com/EN/ 3 suites, €260-390 ($343-515).
CHÂTEAU DE GIGOGNAN Jacque and Anne Callet 1180 chemin du Castillon 84700 Sorgues (within the wine appellation Chateauneuf-du-Pape) http://www.chateau-gigognan.fr T. +33 (0)4 90 39 57 46 5 bedooms. €180-210 ($238-277). LA FONTAINE DE GRÉGOIRE Fred Pollini (della Libera) Le Bourg, 15100 Saint Urcize Tel. +33 (0)4 71 23 20 02 http://www.aubrac-chezremise.com/ 5 bedrooms, 160€ ($211). Open Feb. 1 to Oct. 31. No guest table because Fred’s wife Isabelle operates the restaurant Chez Remise around the corner.
Note: The prices indicated are high-season 2013 prices (and are approximated in $US at a rate of €1=$1.32). See the B&B’s website for photos of and specific pricing for individual rooms. Prices include breakfast. Suites and family rooms are also often available. Guest table may require reservations, especially for the evening of your arrival. Inquire about specific guest table dates for the period or your visit.
opened my eyes and it was black. And quiet. Everywhere. Open or closed, my eyes saw nothing in the vast ebony. Instinctively, I looked up for stars. Not even a glimmer or pinprick of twinkle.
Then I felt the smooth sheets, heard my husband breathe, and remembered where I was. I reached to an end table and switched the light on. A huge dome of limestone rock arched 70 feet above us. We were in a cathedral of rock, the largest “room” of the largest dry cavern in the United States. We had taken an elevator down 22 floors to this exclusive, oneof-a-kind suite, part of a connecting series of natural caves called the Grand Canyon Caverns--all ours for the night. It’s claim to fame is the “largest, oldest, deepest, darkest, quietest motel room in the world” and brags about the cleanest air that “traveled through 65 miles of purifying limestone crevices from the Grand Canyon.” I padded over to the bathroom and shower area, past the large flat-screen TV, comfy couches, library, and dining area. An empty
champagne bottle and cake plates reminded me of the unique room service we enjoyed earlier (and that Nadine was still standing by at the top of the elevator shaft, in case we wanted her to bring us food or bring us out). For most places, the top luxuries are in the penthouses. Here, however, they are literally at rock bottom, although the luxury price tag for the unique experience is $700 for a couple, plus $100 for each additional person. The platformed guest quarters comfortably sleep six and are flanked by the tour’s daytime walking trails. Our palatial-sized digs were the upscale addition to the more traditional Grand Canyon Caverns Motel, a nostalgic throwback to the days of booming Route 66 traffic located between Seligman and Peach Springs, Arizona. The caves began as a tourist curiosity in 1927, after Walter Peck found them on his way to a poker game. Initial visitors paid 25 cents to be lowered down on a rope with a kerosene lantern in what guides now call the “dope-on-a-rope” days. When ladders were built, the price doubled. Today, for $15, visitors take the elevator
down and walk through “The Chapel of the Ages,” the Mystery Room and the Crystal Room, while enjoying a guide’s narrative, replete with ghost stories, romance and mystery. Geologic features include stalactites, stalagmites, cave snow, flowstones, grape clusters (aka popcorn), one of the world’s largest groups of selenite crystals, and even the rarer winter crystal. The three-quarter-mile tour includes a mummified bobcat from the 1850s and a bouquet from a 1977 wedding in the cave-both well-preserved by the dryness of the caves. Tons of preserved rations are also on display, left over from the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, when President Kennedy turned part of the caverns into a fallout shelter. The last tour ends at 4 p.m., when the caverns become the sole domain of those who booked the Suite, whether for birthdays, weddings, reunions or just “I slept here” stories. I sat in one of the big chairs and enjoyed looking through the library and scrapbooks, with comments from previous guests. The vintage pile of National Geographic issues triggered memories. Previously, in wetter
Story by Lisa TE Sonne Photos by Dan Davis caves far from here, I had a wild pig run over my head, a shark attack me, and tarantulas hang over my face, which was partially covered by a special mask to protect me from poisonous gases.
I was actually staring at a replica of a fourtoed ground sloth that died in the cave at least 11,000 years ago. Hours before our tour guide had introduced us to the unlucky visitor— “Gertie,” the sloth.
I didn’t sleep in those caves.
Relieved that we were already on familiar terms, we bid goodnight to Gertie and headed back to bed, happy to be cave man and woman in such a unique, sumptuous setting.
In contrast, this cavern system is one of only three percent of the caverns in the world that is dry. It claims no life forms (no spiders, no mice, no bed bugs or dust mites) except us visitors. My dear life-form spouse stirred. We agreed to turn off the suite’s lights, take our flashlights, and explore. We trod carefully on uneven cement paths to enjoy the caves’ beauty all to ourselves. Occasionally, we would turn off the flashlights for the novelty of true darkness. We weren’t expecting ghosts, but walking around one bend, I moved my light up to look for some of the delicate cave formations and gasped loudly.A 15-foot furry animal loomed upright above me, like some menacing polar bear on steroids. For a second, I forgot where we were in time and space.
If You Go:
Grand Canyon Caverns and Inn http://www.gccaverns.com/ rooms-packages/the-grand-canyoncaverns-cavern-motel-room/ 928-422-3223
Lisa TE Sonne Award- winning NATJA travel writer, Lisa TE Sonne, has traveled all seven continents with her cameras and loves exploring oceans and space, too. A founding maven of www. LuxuryTravelMavens.com, her beats include experiential luxury travel that explores
Source of two photos and general caverns information: email@example.com Shelly Mussell Manager Grand Canyon Caverns 928-422-4565 928-422-4470 (fax)
nature and culture, adventure and learning, “sustainable” and superlative.
elatively undiscovered by North American travelers, Kerala in South India is a tropical destination for European travelers in the know. Recently, Travel+Leisure magazine lifted the veil by naming Kerala “One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century.”
“India is on the hit list in the UK right now,” explains Kay Paton from Portsmouth, England. We sit together during a martial arts exhibition in the tropical wonderland of Thekkady. Thekkady is better known for the Periyar Tiger Reserve that I plan to visit tomorrow, but tonight, buff young men reenacting fire-blazing, sword-wielding combat moves wow us. Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest fighting practices in the world, was performed for maharaja royalty and even today the rousing recital is fit for kings.
Performed in a shallow pit, the acrobatic strikes, fighting kicks and flying jumps amaze us. Lights are dim but we are so close to the action that we can almost reach out to capture the sparks that fly from heavy swords arcing high through the air and crashing down against each other. The kerosene torches and circles of flames create an otherworldly atmosphere that fuels the adrenaline-rich experience. “This is a very vegetarian society so I feel comfortable here,” whispers the Brit, who confesses that her vegetarian taste was harder to satisfy in places like Spain. “India is an English-speaking country and they serve coffee and tea,” she adds. At this point in the combat display, I wonder how she can calmly discuss her own comfort level and beverage preferences while I’m trying to grasp how these fierce warriors could possibly have been defeated by her countrymen, superior firepower notwithstanding . . . India was under British rule until 1947.
Unexpected Luxury in South India By Stacey Wittig
“Part of Kerala’s allure is the wellness experience:”
As an unabashed carnivore, I find the Indian menu quite satisfying as well. Kerala is relatively close to the ocean, so fresh fish and scampi are on upscale menus. Exquisite chicken and lamb biryanis are also served by polite, professional wait staff. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are essential elements for culinary experts who often incorporate Ayurvedic healing principles into their gastronomic delights. Traditional Kerala fare includes coconut (from the tree of life, so called because of the many ways the people of Kerala use the coconut palm tree), cashews, locally-grown rice, lady fingers and exotic vegetables, which are delicately seasoned with the cardamom and pepper that brought traders to this mountainous area thousands of years ago. Kerala’s tropical forests produce more than 900 spices, herbs and medicinal plants used in recipes and age-old, natural therapies. Part of Kerala’s allure is the wellness experience: Kerala is home of Ayurveda--Sanskrit for “life-knowledge—a healing tradition dating back to the early Common Era. Many of the five-star lodges in Kerala offer the specialized treatments and guests come from all over the world to linger in their healing balm for an hour or for weeks at a time. Some resorts have doctors who practice Ayurveda as a scientific discipline and meet with guests to prescribe customized therapies, including yoga and meditation. Earlier this week, I enjoyed my own luxury wellness experience. “I am a typical American who has to go, go, go,” I admitted to the doctor during my consultation at Poorvar Ayurvedic Centre at Poorvar Island Resort. Already my second day in India, the rhythm of my fast-paced life hadn’t yet slowed to the Keralan beat. Even though I knew better, my preoccupation with time management was on cruise control. I found myself wanting to speed up everyone around me instead of allowing the local pace to slow me down. I tried vainly to fight my mania and settle into the tropical tempo. The doctor prescribed specific oils, herbs and spices to provide balance and calming. After the consultation, I was shown to the pagoda-like treatment area designed specifically for Kerala Ayurveda. The thick, wooden door to my chamber opened to a long tiled path, which followed a still, rectangular lily pond. Beyond the pond was a grassy area open to the sky. As I entered the private place of earth, air and water, I felt stress begin to slip from my shoulders. I hung my cotton robe next to the open air shower. Because there was no wall on the far end of the sanctuary, bird song and the sound of breezes in the coconut palms filled the space.
After saying a silent prayer, my masseuse poured what seemed like gallons of thick, warm oil over my head and stroked the herb-infused balm from my scalp to my toes, as I lay on an ancient, wooden table that caught the oil in special troughs. The temperate breeze from the open roof helped dissolve my lingering jet lag and the culture shock of coming from wintery climes. Now, a week later, the healing power of the Keralan holiday is firmly settled into my bones. It’s not just Ayurveda and the healthful foods, but my spacious accommodations create relaxation as well. Near Munnar, in tea plantation country, Spice Tree Resort is perched in the serene green hills. The large windows in my room offer breathtaking outdoor views of the historic Bison Valley. Luxurious linens, teak wood plank floors, extravagant fabric coverings and a stone bath with a rain shower lend to the feeling of finery. I’m so relaxed that I barely muster the energy to make the trek to watch the sunset, but I promised the resort’s outdoor activities guide that I would meet him at the trailhead, so I go. “We’ll trek across the hillside to the ancient archaeological ruins,” Vivien Sebastian explains. We hike to large granite outcroppings--natural plazas-- surrounded by megalithic dolmen chambers built before the time of Christ. “This is where we do yoga demonstrations,” Vivien shares, standing in the center of the plaza as the orange-hued sun sets behind him. It’s a surreal experience: I am the only guest on this trek, the others choosing to relax at the pristine pool or in the Bliss Mountain Spa. In the Bison Valley below, is an ancient trail used by spice traders. The cardamom and pepper they brought from these hills around Munnar were shipped to Rome from Keralan port cities on the Arabian Sea.
“Munnar was the vacation spot for Pi’s family in the movie, Life of Pi, right?” I ask. I’ve decide that Munnar has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Green tea trees are picked so frequently that the color they display is the bright spring green of new leaf buds. Vast acres of rolling hills of this leafy green are crowned by the purple basalt summits of the Western Ghats. Azure skies above and blue lakes in the valleys below balance the picturesque landscape. Granite and basalt boulders are scattered throughout the green hills, making the entire valley look like a lovely Asian garden. Just such a natural boulder was part of my bedroom suite at Mayapott luxury retreat last night. My room at the hideaway was built around gigantic boulders embedded into the surrounding rainforest. The shower opened to the sky and I felt as if I were inside mother earth herself. The intimate, boutique hotel felt more like a luxurious castle with its hand-hewn stone bridges and moats. The high point of rocks called “Mystic Point” or Mayapott is said to have been a place where villagers could retreat from wild elephants that lived in the surrounding forest. Today the sanctuary offers a four-room villa suite, two bedroom suites, spa and dining room to haried travelers weary of fighting their own wild elephants. The luxurious escape is just one more reason to plan a retreat to the tropical bliss of Kerala, India.
If You Go: Kerala Travel Planners www.ttpkerala.com Periyar Tiger Reserve http://www.periyartigerreserve.org/ Spice Tree Resort http://spicetreemunnar.com/ Mayapott Bungalow http://www.mayapott.com/
Photo by Kristi Johnson
Looking for a Luxury Western Safari
Story by Ann Terry Hill
Experience without leaving the states???
Take a close look at Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort & Preserve, a wild mustang reserve and eco-resort located about 40 miles out of Elko, Nevada, which opened to the public in June of this year.
The resort spans 900 square miles of wilderness
stretched out below the majestic Spruce Mountains.
Madeleine Pickens, former wife of T. Boone Pickens and widow of Allen Paulson, co owner of the famed thoroughbred racehorse Cigar, has endangered mustangs in her sights. Her 600,000 acres of bunch grass, sage brush, water and freedom are her gift to the wild symbols of the American West: she will pasture them and allow them live out their days in peace. In order to fund Mustang Monument, she has developed a luxury eco resort unlike any other. One both unique and symbolic of the Wild West.
An overnight will give you an experience youâ€™ll never forget.
Mustang Monument features more than 50 luxury tipis and tents spread out over the land. These specialized tipis are custom designed and furnished for the resort, with deluxe beds topped with 1600-thread-count linens. Adjoining bathroom tipis feature specialized bathtubs and a rain shower built into the ceiling. Upscale travelers will feel right at home with Internet Access, a mini-bar, safe capabilities and coffee/tea maker, as well as 24-hour “room” service and a butler. A centralized tipi bar provides a welcome spot to kick back and relax, and the western style saddles-cum-bar stools will be a boon to those who don’t want to dismount. An overnight stay includes three gourmet meals a day, and custom-designed activities to fit your specific needs and desires. Children under 12 are not allowed, due to the fragile nature of the environment, unless special arrangements are made prior to arrival. In-room spa and beauty treatments are available with two days prior notice. A luxury tipi comes with a luxury price: $1200 per night, though prices include all food and amenities.
Photo by Michael Partenio
If youâ€™re looking for an escape from the bustle of city living as well as an exclusive education on the ways of wild mustangs and rural living, Mustang Monument wonâ€™t disappoint!
If you go:
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Serving Sojourners In
Switzerland Story by Peter I. Rose
Photography by Peter and Hedy Rose
laces may attract but I am convinced that people make the attractions memorable. To be sure, magnificent scenery in majestic mountains, fabulous bays, powdery beaches, meandering rivers, high seas and intriguing venues are necessary to draw travelers, but these alone are not sufficient. Except for the most intrepid of sojourners, go-betweens are the ones who make it all possible. I am referring to a wide array of personnel, including travel agents and outfitters, tour bureau representatives, hoteliers, restaurateurs, chefs and stewards, shopkeepers, sea captains, mountain guides, museum directors, and others who work behind the scenes in the hospitality industry. For world travelers as well as first time tourists, one of the best places to experience the benefits of their industry is Switzerland, a little country where a primary livelihood is tourism. While not alone in this, in many ways the Swiss set the standard of professionalism and service for the rest of the world and have since early in the 19th century when travel for pleasure began to be recognized as a gold mine for entrepreneurial locals. It started quite modestly when British climbers began scaling the peaks of the Alps, starting with the Jungfrau in the Bernese Oberland in 1811. Soon the word spread and many others from England sought recreation in the Swiss Alps, establishing clubs and excursions. The emergence of alpine skiing as a prime winter sport just before World War II and its widespread appeal since the middle of the 20th century contributed even more to the appeal of Switzerland. Throughout the Swiss Alps local officials and their constituents rose to the challenge and hundreds of areas were groomed for skiing. New lifts were erected across the landscape, and thousands upon thousands of farmers and small landholders found new careers working in the travel industry, sometimes for outside investors, often for themselves. Hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, sporting good stores and souvenir shops sprang up. Tiny hamlets, like Saas-Fee in the Valais region and Klosters in the canton of GraubĂœnden, soon became known throughout Europe and then throughout the world as ski towns. This occurred despite the fact that they were also havens for walkers and trekkers who came to enjoy the alpine ambiance and amenities such as always being able to find a quiet inn, mountain hut, or sun-drenched restaurant far from the trail head. Having been in the country on numerous occasions, sometimes for meetings, sometimes to lecture, but mainly to hike or ski or to write about specific destinations, we went back to Switzerland with the expressed purpose of getting behind the scenes in the travel business itself. It proved to be everything we had hoped for and more. We were especially impressed with the willingness of almost everyone, with whom we sought interviews, to agree to meet with us and then candidly answer our questions, providing us with insights into their work. We arrived in Zurich September 17 and the next day headed off to the Loetschental, a beautiful, hidden valley. We spent several days there, hiking at the end of the valley, going out from our mountain hotel in a place called Fafleralp interviewing locals, including Heinrich Lehner, a mask maker in Blatten, and Lukas Kalbermatten, a hotelier in the same town, who is also the regional historian and guide. The valley itself is fascinating to visit at any time of year. This time we were there at the end of the summer season. In another month, snow would close the end of the road that had only been constructed 50 years ago. (Prior to that all movement of goods and people was by donkey.) The hotel would close, too. Unlike many areas in Switzerland, where winter is the principal season for tourists, the upper Loetschental is a summer paradise. Farther down the valley, in the village of Wiler, there is a large ski center, an attraction for visitors and source of revenue for much of the area. The next day we took a bus, a train, and another bus to the mountain town of Saas-Fee, surrounded by some 20 mountains over 4000 meters in height.
hile there we did some hiking, went high into the mountain via a series of lifts, spoke to the folks at the Tour Bureau and met an incredible Dutch ski instructor and artist, Marjolein Bos, whose double life intrigued us. Her studio is smack-dab on the side of a mountain. Later we interviewed Peter Novotny, one of the 12 principal mountain guides (who was called away mid-meeting to rush to the heliport for a rescue of two Czech climbers). Perhaps most interesting of all was Maggi Voide, owner and operator of the small hotel and restaurant, La Gorge, where we were staying. We spoke to her for quite a while about her experience growing up in Saas Fee, where her father ran a small restaurant and her uncle was the leading Bergfuehrer. We then learned that, like the skiing-artist Marjolein Bos, she too leads a double life. Presumably having inherited her knowledge of service from her father and a passion for mountaineering from her uncle, the small, rather unassuming woman owns the title of the first woman to ever climb all 82 peaks in Europe that are over 4000 meters! One valley over the high mountains from Saas-Fee is Zermatt, our next stop. Having visited before, we spent the first day there in this, the most visited destination town in Switzerland. One of the most interesting venues is the new historical museum, built underground on the site of the old casino. There we listened as Peter Graf, a docent, told us about its construction and led us through its rooms. The most fascinating were those that retold the story of the first disastrous attempts to climb the Matterhorn and remnants of the gear used by those early English mountaineers and displays recounting their excursions. (The feat of conquering the Matterhorn, which was celebrated in its day as was the conquest of Everest a century later, is almost routine these days with thousands reaching its peak every year.) The next day, accompanied by a young representative of the Zermatt Tour Bureau, Sven Hauser, a recent graduate of the International School of Tourism Management, we took the cog railway to the top of the Gornergrat. Unlike most, save for those who might stay in the century-old Kulmhotel Gornergrat, we were privileged to spend a morning with Fernando Clemenz. Fernando had been responsible for renovating one of highest hotels in Europe and is in charge of all restaurants owned by the Burgergemeinde of Zermatt. (His wife, Fabienne, is the manager of the hotel.) While over 100 years old, it was recently renovated in a most attractive, modern style. We reveled in the beauty of another place we had visited several times before but can never stop loving. While the Matterhorn looms large it is hardly the only peak. In fact, one can see 29 peaks over 4000 meters just from the area near the hotel, many from inside through its windows. This includes the highest mountain completely inside Switzerland, the 4634 meter high Dufourspitze, a part of the Monte Rosa massif, which Fernando had recently climbed. (Each of the refurbished rooms in the hotel has a stylized topographical outline of one of the highest peaks on the wall; each is adorned with a rock from its summit, including one Fernando brought back for the room called Dufourspitze.) Although our time was limited, led by Sven Hauser, we hiked down from Riffelberg to Riffelalp along the â€œMark Twain Weg,â€? named for the true Guru of Gallivanting. It was, for us, a brief sentimental reminder of our previous excursions in the area. The next day we took the train down, down, down to the Rhone Valley, to Brig and then, by train and bus, up into a much more isolated area on the north side of Rhone to the valley known as Goms. Later in that same day we would go on to spend three days in the even more remote Binntal (Binn Valley). Moving on by post bus, we traveled to Binn, driving through a recently completed tunnel that, we were told, saved hours from what was long and arduous journey. We finally reached a very remote little hamlet, almost at the end of a valley, now famous for its unique minerals, especially crystals left in the rocks millions of years ago. Despite the ease of access, the town remains a pristine reminder of an earlier era, not least the late 19th century when tourists started to go beyond the more famous venues.
et, the village is quite modern in other ways, not least in the attitudes of the local people, including the man responsible for renovating the Ofenhorn, president of the committee for tourism for Binn and its surroundings, Odilo Zumthurm. Interviews with Odilo were augmented by discussion with his friend, Karl Maenz. Odilo and Karl accompanied us to the Lengenbach Quarry where we met two specialists, Ralph Cannon, the keeper of the quarry, and Philippe Roth, a seismologist who leads a research team studying the rock of pyrite, dolomite. They told us that their prime objective is scientific discovery and the evaluation of the geology of the area. They want others to share in this and often invited young people to come there with their picks and hammers to dig and discover gems for themselves. After leaving the mine, we were taken to the Regionalmuseum Binn, its upper floors a trove of archaeological artifacts, its basement filled with hundreds of handsomely displayed specimens of crystalline gems and fools gold taken from the Lengenbach Quarry. On the last day in the area, Karl Maenz took us to meet Markus Tenisch, a master craftsman and instrument maker noted for his Hackbrett, a dulcimer-like stringed instrument that is said to have originated in Arabia and is now known only in the South Tyrol of Austria, in the canton Appenzell, and in the Valais of Switzerland. Markus is a third generation craftsman who, with his brother, carried on a family tradition, now run by a fourth generation. To get from Binn to St. Moritz, we took a post bus to Fiesch, a mountain train down to Brig and then boarded the luxurious Glacier Express. But soon we were in another magnificent area, riding the famed Glacier Express from the junction town of Brig, way down in the Rhone Valley, back up to the ridges that make it such a scenic journey to St. Moritz in the Canton of GraubĂœnden. Unfortunately, during the first part of the journey the cloud level was quite low and it was impossible to see the high peaks as we crossed the highest points. But it did begin to clear as we left the junction station of Chur and headed for St. Moritz, climbing, climbing, climbing to the high plateau known as the Engadin where St. Moritz is the most famous settlement. The area is named for the Inn River that originates in the mountains high above the village of Maloja at the extreme western end of the valley and goes eastward through it, then across all of Austria, and into the Danube, which flows to the Black Sea. Like Zermatt, St. Moritz is the name of a place known the world over. The former is known mainly for its proximity to the Matterhorn. St. Moritz is better known for its Monaco-like atmosphere, but that is only the half of it. To be sure, there was a time when it was said that people went to St. Moritz as much to be seen as to see. It started as a playground for the rich and famous and, in many ways remains so. But as we remembered and then rediscovered, there is much more to this place than that. In fact, in addition to its fancy shops and fabulous five star hotels, which are open for the winter and summer seasons but close at other times, there are many two, three and four star hotels and fine restaurants that offer great amenities, good service, and (by Swiss standards) at quite reasonable prices. A special innovation to entice people to come in the summer is the provision of free passes for all modes of transportation, including the several cable cars that lift hikers and others to the high peaks. The first person we got to know on this visit to the Engadin was the professional guide, Christine Salis, the wife of the leading person in security and avalanche control in the area. Christine shuttled us under her wing and drove us up and down the Valley, then to lunch at a simple outdoor/indoor eatery run by a local cheese maker. Afterwards we drove up to and over the Bernina Pass, then visited the village of Pontresina where Christine lives (and where I used to cross country ski) and took the funicular to the top of the Muottas Muragl. With clearing weather we were able to see all the lakes in the Engadin Valley and all the places weâ€™d just been. Continuing on our too-hurried excursion, we took the train from St. Moritz to Davos Platz, then a bus to Davos Dorf, where we stayed at the Turmhotel Victoria, managed by an interesting couple, Ralph and Judith Pfiffner, originally from nearby Klosters, both trained in a four-year university course in hotel management in Chur, and about to celebrate 10 years at the Victoria. Their four star hotel, with accommodations for 150 guests, several restaurants, conference rooms, tasteful art and sculpture, is a tribute to the aesthetic sensibilities and business acumen of the seemingly tireless Pfiffners and the owner who seemed to have given the young couple free rein.
ur last night in Davos was spent at the three-star Hotel Zum Altern Roessli. While far more modest than the Victoria, it was most adequate (and half the price). The Roessli team was different from most others having spent time abroad and returning to Switzerland after pursuing other careers. They spoke graphically about their on-the-job training. While in Davos we visited the Swiss Avalanche Research Center, where we talked to young scientists working on various projects related to snow and ice in the mountains. We learned much we never knew about the causes of snow slides and the various measures that have been developed to avoid disasters and improve rescue techniques for those who become trapped in an avalanche. We also had a scheduled meeting with Annemarie Meyer, the marketing manager for Destinations Davos/Klosters, who spoke about the history of the town and whose reputation rests on three somewhat unrelated factors: she reminded us that it was Davos that was the home of many famous TB sanitariums and the setting of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, based on his wife’s convalescence in a Kur house there; how it became an important center of winter sports, first skiing, then ice hockey (with a world famous local team) and, more recently, snowboarding; and, for the past 40 years, a leading conference center, the home of the annual Davos World Economic Summit, numerous medical congresses and all sorts of meetings. Interestingly, although a truly international destination because of its conferences, those who come to ski and hike are mostly from nearby Germany. This is doubtlessly bolstered by special marketing there and in other nearby European countries by the tour bureau of Davos/Klosters. Both Davos and Klosters are in deep valleys (Davos is 300 meters higher in elevation), surrounded by the same handsome, imposing mountains, many of which are readily accessible by a variety of lifts such as funiculars, gondolas, and chairlifts, which take skiers and, in what is known as the summer season, hikers and mountain bikers to considerable heights. These fabulous visits are characterized by well-marked trails which, like those in other areas, are clearly designated for walkers, wanderers (trekkers), and mountaineers. On this trip we stayed on the trails for walkers, including the impressive Hohe Promenade, enjoying the Swiss convenience of riding up to the shoulder or sometimes near to the peak of a mountain, then walking further up or down, or simply savoring the delights of one of those mountain side bistros that seem to abound everywhere. Our favorites were the short ride from the main street of Davos to the old clinic at Schatzalp, and a walk to see the famed collection of local wildflowers and those from many other locales, all at the same elevation, from all around the world. The funicular that rises to the Weissfluh on the massif is known as Parsenn, and is also accessible by the Gostschna cable car that goes from the train station at Klosters. Others operating in the summer season are lifts going from Davos up to Jakobshorn and another from Klosters Dorf to Madrisa. In addition to these, in winter season there are many chair and T-bar lifts in full operation for skiers and boarders to access the incredible array of pistes. Finally, it was time to leave the mountains and our new friends, go down to Davos Dorf to take the train to Zurich for the flight back to the United States. We carried with us notebooks full of information about what we had learned about the travel industry from only a few of the thousands of people we might have interviewed, but with a sense that we had more than scratched the surface. Now we are eager to return to learn more about those who support and serve sojourners in SwitzerPeter and Hedy Rose, both retired professors, are travel journalists and photographers. Peter’s latest books on travel are: Guest Appearances and Other Travels in Time and Space (2003) With Few Reservations (2010) Levellers Press will soon publish his latest, Postmonitions of a Peripatetic Professor (2013)
See “Autumn in the Alps” and “Italian Culture in a Swiss Canton,” both appear in Peter I. Rose, “With Few Reservations: Travels at Home and Abroad” (2010). See “The Guru of Gallivanting,” in Rose, op. cit.
to the new D Las Vegas. Long on fun, short on ordinary.
Downtown ntown at the east end of Fremont Street Experience.
tUIF%DPN tUUIF%DPN Must be 21 years of age or older. Management reserves all rights. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-522-4700. ÂŠ2012 the D Las Vegas.
Photo by Nova Scotia Tourism
Nova Scotia The Land of Plenty Secrets By Elizabeth Willoughby
Lunenburg Wait for it – that first clear night sky after Labor Day. “Clear moon, frost soon,” as they say. The days, still warm, are getting shorter and the nights crisper, but autumn’s color bonanza really kicks in after a cold snap sends shock waves through forests, sparking a surge of brilliant color splashing across the canopy. Oaks turn red, poplars golden and maples scarlet, orange and flaming yellow. Breathe in, breathe deep – it’s not only for your eyes, and there’s no better way to experience glorious autumn at its best than through immersion.
Canada’s eastern provinces provide ample opportunity for awesome “color drives”, but southwestern Nova Scotia, standing as a gateway to the Atlantic with the Bay of Fundy’s dramatic tides jutting in behind, has a few secrets. Haute cuisine, award-winning wines and luxury auberges are flourishing across this spit of land. If you have some days saved up, this route is designed for all the senses in the lead up to Canadian Thanksgiving, before everything packs up by mid-October for the season of hibernation.
It is 70 miles (a 1.5-hour drive) from Halifax Stanfield International Airport (with the car rental at YHZ). Take the leisurely drive along Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Stop at the unexceptional Peggy’s Cove lighthouse if you must, at Ivan Fraser’s homestead museum if you dare, and at Mahone Bay for a glimpse of creativity and humor where scenes using stuffed celebrities and nursery rhyme characters are displayed on autumn lawns and rooftops. Nearby is Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Town settled by Germans that the British recruited in 1750. Its history is preserved in architecture and industry, including fishing and shipbuilding. It’s a port of call to tall ships and home to Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II, re-launched in 2012.
At sunset, take Shelah Allen’s lantern tour. The backyard of her entire life, Shelah tells juicy stories of historical tenants and buildings, has keys to the doors, and ends with a shocking tidbit that warms the soul. The Mariner King Historic Inn comprises three colorful homes in the center of Lunenburg. Choose between well-appointed rooms in the Victorian-style house or the maritime-themed adjacent buildings. Fleur de Sel Chef Martin’s seasonal gourmet dishes use fresh seafood from down the street, vegetables from nearby farms and cocktails fuelled by the town’s blacksmith shop turned artisanal distillery.
Photo by Elizabeth Willoughby
Photo by Elizabeth Willoughby
Photo by Nova Scotia Tourism
Photo by Nova Scotia Tourism
Photo by Elizabeth Willoughby
Photo by Ocean Explorers
Kemptville It’s 117 miles (a 2½-hour drive) from Lunenburg. Comfortably rooted on the Tusket and Napier Rivers at the edge of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, 386 square miles of protected lands, this is an ideal location for hiking in crisp air, pristine forest highlighted by changing leaves, and canoeing the lively waters running through it.
Trout Point Lodge It’s going to the cottage, but the “cottage” is a luxury eco resort that sits beside a gurgling river, wooden boardwalks, and towering pine, spruce and birch trees. Crackling fireplaces in the common room set the ambiance before descending to the dining room for a gourmet dinner and the realization that there are other guests. The chef-owners create multi-course meals based on their garden’s production and available local produce.
Annapolis Royal Book tomorrow’s whale watching cruise, then head northwest to Annapolis Royal, one of the smallest towns in Canada with one of its earliest histories, and spend the afternoon exploring period buildings, museums, street plaques and historic sites. This is where Europeans encountered the Mi’kmaq who would control the fur trade between them and the northern tribes. Later, the town became a French administrative and military center called Port Royal. Once it was captured by the British and renamed after Queen Anne, it became the capital of Nova Scotia until Halifax was founded in 1749. Next morning, time your hour’s color drive down the Digby Neck peninsula to catch the 11:30 ferry over to Long Island. Ocean Explorations is just ahead on the left. Marine biologist and owner Tom Goodwin says his 2½3-hour Zodiac whale watching cruises virtually always have sightings because he goes out further and stays out longer. Now that your feet are wet, drive 25 minutes up the road to see the “balancing rock.” Follow the boardwalk and gushy pathway through bog and wetlands, black spruce, larch and balsam fir, skunk cabbage, bunchberry and carnivorous sundew. A stairway at the end descends the cliffs to view the 20-foot basalt column. Part of its base sits on a stone pedestal while the rest hovers over St Marys Bay defying gravity.
Photo by Queen Anne Inn
Queen Anne Inn The Queen Anne Inn is an elegant Victorian mansion with all the pomp but not the pageantry. The owners retain the era of period buildings and furnishings in a relaxed, homey atmosphere. The dining room is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday evenings. Popular for its creative cuisine, inn guests also need to reserve a table.
Photo by Elizabeth Willoughby
Photo by Victoria’s Historic Inn Photo by Elizabeth Willoughby
Photo by Prince George Hotel’s online photo gallery
It’s 70 miles (a 1¼-hour drive) from Annapolis Royal. Plan to arrive in this university town on a Friday so you can take the weekend winery bus tour. The English double-decker runs a fixed route stopping at participating wineries throughout Annapolis Valley. Guests choose when to hop off for tastings, tours and presentations timed to end as the bus comes around again. Victoria’s Historic Inn, a refined Victorian mansion, was built by an apple baron in the late 1800s. Period furnishings and original details are complimented with modern amenities, and gas fireplaces ensure that spacious rooms stay cozy. AT Le Caveau at Domaine de Grand Pré, Cordon Bleu trained Jason Lynch will proudly pair his dishes with local wines if you let him. Request the chef ’s tasting menu when making your reservation.
Halifax It’s 56 miles (a 1-hour drive) from Wolfville, 21 miles (30-minute drive) to YHZ. Visit the Maritime Museum, see if your ancestor was a war bride who arrived at Pier 21 after WWII, and explore the Citadel that defended Halifax until 1871. The Prince George Hotel is the place to stay downtown. Choose a room facing the harbor to view ship traffic or the Citadel for quiet nights. Take the indoor walkway to the waterfront in windy weather. Dine at the Bicycle Thief, whose motto “North American food – Italian soul” is right on the mark. Fine dishes are augmented by the waterfront setting and friendly staff who know the menu, the wine list and how to pair them.
Florida’s Historic Gasparilla Inn
We were warming up on the chipping green at the Pete Dye course at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Florida. The only other person on the green was an odd-looking man in a straw hat who seemed to have a contingent of onlookers. As he finished up, and one of the onlookers took his clubs, it dawned on me that these were Secret Service agents and that the chipper was George W. Bush. For more than a century, DuPonts, Vanderbilts and other notables have been quietly making the Gasparilla Inn a hideaway for the rich and famous. Offering a combination of Old Florida charm and hospitality with every modern amenity the Gasparilla should be on any discerning traveler’s radar screen as one of the state’s few remaining grand resort hotels. October will mark the centennial of this landmark: it is a member of the Historic Hotels of America (HHA) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP).The Gasparilla Inn and Club is located on tiny Gasparilla Island, a seven-mile barrier island that spans the mouth of Charlotte Harbor on Florida’s gulf coast. Finding the hotel is easier said than done; there are no road signs or bill-
Story and photography Dale Dunlop boards advertising its existence. In fact, you won’t even see a sign for Boca Grande until you are within a few hundred yards of the turn-off. It is clear that the residents of Gasparilla Island are quite happy to keep their quiet and laid-back existence discreet. After paying the $6 causeway toll, it’s a straight shot into Boca Grande, a funky little place with an end-of-the-road feel. A statue of a tarpon at the village’s main corner pays homage to the fish that still brings lures from around the world. There were still no signs for the inn, but the large yellow wooden structure with gleaming white columns was impossible to miss. We were greeted by the concierge and were immediately struck by the grandeur and scale of the interior. It really is “ Old Florida” --from the gleaming cedar floors of the expansive veranda to the walls festooned with huge avian and botanical prints and paintings, chintz-upholstered furniture, and, fireplaces and tables adorned with delicate shell art. We arrived early, and at the desk clerk’s suggestion, strolled over to the Beach House for the buffet. Choices included tasty
Once back in the historic village of Boca Grande, we spent the rest of the afternoon touring the sites and shops. As we passed the Inn’s croquet field a competition was underway; the players, engrossed in their pursuit, painted a tableau of a bygone age in their crisp whites (there are dress code requirements—pack accordingly). Returning the cart just before sundown, with glasses of wine in hand we watched the sun sink gloriously into the Gulf from the comfort of deck chairs at the edge of the beach. Soon it was time for dinner at the Inn’s principal restaurant which is simply called The Main Dining Room. It was a memorable experience, for both the quality of the offerings and the wonderful ambiance of the place. The dining room is spacious and airy, but plentiful greenery, comfortable seating, soft lights and music lend an intimate feel to the otherwise formal setting. The service is old-world formal, and it was a treat having our food presented by a small army bearing silver domed platters. We felt appropriately pampered as we feasted on the culinary delights worthy of the pomp and ceremony. seafood, salads and fresh shrimp. The dining area was decorated in soft pinks and gold, no doubt chosen to echo the colors of the sun setting into the Gulf, as seen just beyond the floor-to-ceiling glass wall. Once we checked in, we were led up the grand staircase and down a long wide hall to our room which overlooked the golf course. We didn’t remain long, as the inn-proper warranted exploring, with many differently themed common areas and fine art. And the island itself beckoned. The best way to tour the island is via a paved pathway overlying an old rail bed that runs the entire length of Gasparilla Island. Golf carts and bikes are available for rent from the inn’s activity center. We opted for a golf cart and headed out to the Boca Grande Lighthouse, passing the elegant if somewhat rusty Rear Range lighthouse on the way. The Boca Grande Lighthouse resides in a state park at the very southern tip of the island. The interior features a museum that documents the history of the island, from its geological formation, through its period as a major shipping port for phosphates (hence the railway), up to its current status as a year-round tourist haven.
Following coffee and croissants the next morning, we headed to the golf course where we had our unexpected meeting with “W.” Most Pete Dye courses instill trepidation in the average golfer, but not this one. It was one of the most pleasant golf experiences we have enjoyed in many years of Florida golf. The ocean is not just in view, but also in play on many holes. I counted more than 20 species of birds, but few other golfers. Afterward we enjoyed a final meal at the Pink Elephant, the Inn’s dining casual choice, where we feasted on fish tacos. Soon enough it was time to take our leave from this idyllic place in time. And while you may not meet a President at the Gasparilla Inn, you’ll most assuredly will be treated like one.
IF YOU GO:
The Gasparilla Inn & Club www.the-gasparilla-inn.com 877-403-0599 or 941-964-4500 Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce www.bocagrandechamber.com/ 941-964-0568
Literally Speaking... Atlantis, Reno’s Newest Resort.
» Voted “Reno’s Best” our newly designed rooms feature multimedia launch pads to connect your laptop to 42” HD flat screen TV’s, coffee makers, in-room safes, high-speed Internet access and much more » All-New Spa, voted “Reno’s Best” featuring: - Indoor & Outdoor Pools, Aqua Lounge, - Laconium Relaxation Lounge, Brine Inhalation- Light Therapy Lounge and Cardio & Fitness Center - One of only 8 resorts in the world offering Pantai Luar® - Spa is not an indulgence. Spa is a way of life.
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3800 S. Virginia St. | Reno NV 89502
For reservations please call
The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down
The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem
With Few Reservations Travels at Home and Abroad
Peter I. Rose
Unable to commit to his fiancée of nearly four years—and with no clear understanding of what’s holding him back— McCarthy finds himself at a crossroads, plagued by doubts that have clung to him for a lifetime. Though he ventures from the treacherous slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro to an Amazonian riverboat and the dense Costa Rican rain forests, McCarthy’s real journey is one of the spirit.
A remarkable memoir about losing your father, accepting your fate, and finding your destiny by volunteering around the world for numerous worthy causes: Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans, helping special needs children in China, studying climate change in Ecuador, lending a hand—and a heart—at a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East, to name but a few.
“With Few Reservations, Travels at Home and Abroad” is a collection of forty-eight engaging commentaries written by the sociologist, photographer and prize-winning travel journalist Peter Rose. It offers intriguing portraits of places and people from Cape Cod to Cape Horn.
Available at amazon.com
Available at amazon.com
Available at amazon.com
Paris Revisited: The Guide for the Return Traveler
Gary Lee Kraut
The Best Stories, Facts, and Trivia from the Dugout to the Outfield
“Paris Revisited: The Guide for the Return Traveler” is a true insider’s guide intended for those who enjoy fine informative travel writing, whether returning to Paris, looking to get it right the first time, or savoring Francophile fantasies from home.
Available at amazon.com
“Baseball Bits, The Best Stories, Facts, and Trivia for the Dugout to the Outfield” gives facts, stories, and anecdotes about legendary players and managers, teams and games to remember, and everything from spring training to winter dealing. Casual fans and hardcore baseball buffs will enjoy.
Available at baseballbits.com
“Waltzing Australia” is the award-winning travel narrative which recounts th Cynthia Clampitt’s six-month, 20,000-mile journey around and across the land Down Under, offers a vivid portrayal of Australia, its history and legends, its wonders, its people, and its enduring beauty.
Available at amazon.com
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DESTINATION INFORMATION SHREVEPORT - BOSSIER
THE NEW ORLEANS HOTEL COLLECTION
It’s that unique combination of two great American heritages that set Shreveport-Bossier apart. It’s a little Texas, a little cajun. You’ll find the combination reflected in our mouth-watering dining, where flavorful Texas steak may be combined with spicy crawfish. Or you might find it in our music, with nightclubs and concerts for jazz, country, bluegrass, folk, zydeco, and everything in between. There’s no place like it in America, a world of color and sound, taste and entertainment, elegant Southern charm and a relaxed attitude that suggests you kick off your boots and stay awhile.
Alyeska Resort is Alaska’s premier year-round destination featuring the 304-room Hotel Alyeska. Located just 40 miles from Anchorage and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Alyeska Resort is the perfect base camp for visitors whether they are seeking powder-filled slopes or a mountain retreat between stops at national parks and sports-fishing lodges. The resort is within close proximity of three national parks and the Kenai Peninsula, and is home to the northernmost coastal temperate rainforest, part of the Chugach Mountain Range.
Discover an exceptional collection of upscale hotels, restaurants, bars and lounges that capture the essence of New Orleans charm and hospitality. The New Orleans Hotel Collection is set apart by its distinctive style, personalized service and superb location ideal for meetings and weddings large or small as well as business and leisure travelers alike.
UNITED STATES ALABAMA
Palm Springs 760-778-8415 www.VisitPalmSprings.com
Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau 205-458-8000 www.BirminghamAL.org Huntsville / Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau 256-551-2235 www.Huntsville.org
Alyeska Resort 907-754-2592 www.AlyeskaResort.com
Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau 479-783-8888 www.FortSmith.org
Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 562-495-8345 www.VisitLongBeach.com Monterey 831-657-6415 www.SeeMonterey.com Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau 805-385-7545 www.VisitOxnard.com
Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau 626-395-0211 www.VisitPasadena.com San Diego Zoo 619-685-3291 www.SanDiegoZoo.org Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau 925-846-8910 www.TriValleyCVB.com West Hollywood 310-289-2525 www.VisitWestHollywood.com
Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce 970-945-5002 www.GlenwoodChamber.com
Franklin County Tourist Development Council 850-653-8678 www.SaltyFlorida.com
Alexandria / Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 318-442-9546 www.TheHeartOfLouisiana.com Baton Rouge 225-382-3578 www.VisitBatonRouge.com New Orleans Hotel Collection 504-527-0407 www.NewOrleansHotelCollection.com Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau 888-45-VISIT www.Shreveport-Bossier.org
Greater Lansing Michigan Convention & Visitors Bureau 517-377-1423 www.Lansing.org
Meet Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau 612-767-8038 www.Minneapolis.org
Explore Branson 417-243-2137 www.ExploreBranson.com Maryland Heights Convention & Visitors Bureau 314-548-6051 www.More2Do.org
VISIT WEST HOLLYWOOD
PINEHURST, SOUTHERN PINES, ABERDEEN
West Hollywood is set in the heart of Los Angeles. It’s where rock & roll meets fashion, art merges with lifestyle and everyone is free to to be different. Today, West Hollywood is a top travel destination among the entertainment industry, the jet set and LGBT community. The scene is densely packed into 1.9 miles of walkability including: a vast culinary landscape, The Sunset Strip’s notorious lifestyle, designer flagships lining The Avenues district, celebrity hot spots, global annual events, premier spas and fitness, entertainment and much more. West Hollywood is a place that’s proud to stand out. It’s time - come experience why West Hollywood is the city that’s truly LIVING FORWARD.
From Donald Ross’ creation of Pinehurst No. 2 to Payne Stewart’s legendary putt to win the 1999 US Open Championship, the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area has a storied legacy of golf unlike any other place in the country. Here, you’ll find North Carolina’s best golf courses, incredible outdoor adventures, world-class dining and shopping, beautiful equestrian facilities, and more. But it’s not just the perfect family vacation destination. With a variety of hotels, resort-style accommodations and meeting spaces, it’s also an ideal location for corporate events and group golf outings. Great rates and vacation packages are just a click away. So start planning your trip to the Home of American Golf today.
Monterey offers iconic California experiences. Experience the top road trip in the United States as you wind along the breathtaking Big Sur coastline on Highway One. Book a Monterey hotel on the beach, then explore the shops and attractions of iconic Cannery Row. Sip handcrafted wines at tucked-away tasting rooms where the winemaker might just be the person pouring. Take a surfing lesson and catch a glimpse of a barefoot beach wedding as you ride your board to shore. Play 18 holes at legendary golf courses, or just hang out at the 19th hole and watch the pros practice. Monterey County has something special for everyone.
Dutchess County Tourism 845-463-5446 www.DutchessTourism.com
Missy Farren & Associates Marketing & Public Relations 212-528-1691 www.MFALTD.com Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation 716-282-8992 www.Niagara-USA.com
RHODE ISLAND Go Newport 401-845-9117 www.GoNewport.com
South County Rhode Island Tourism Council 401-489-4422 www.SouthCountyRI.com
Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway 423-442-9147 www.MonroeCounty.com
San Juan Islands Washington Visitors Bureau 360-378-6822 www.VisitSanJuans.com Travel Tacoma 253-284-3265 www.TravelTacoma.com
Development Counsellors International 212-725-0707 www.DC-Intl.com
Pinehurst Southern Pines Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 910-692-3330 www.HomeOfGolf.com
City of Henderson The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce 702-267-2171 www.CityofHenderson.com 830-608-2803 www.NBCham.org Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau 435-586-5127 www.ScenicSouthernUtah.com
Pocahontas County Convention & Visitors Bureau 304-799-4636 www.PocahontasCountyWV.com Québec City Tourism 418-641-6654 www.QuebecRegion.com
The Travel Planners 905-230-2701 www.TTPKerala.com
Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau 757-664-6620 OHIO www.VisitNorfolkToday.com MEXICO Tuscarawas County Convention & Visitors Bureau Virginia Beach Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board 212-633-2047 330-602-2420 757-385-6645 www.VisitPuertoVallarta.com www.TravelTUSC.com www.VisitVirginiaBeach.com
ALL OF THE APPEAL. NONE OF THE DISTRACTIONS. JUST MINUTES FROM THE GLITTER OF THE LAS VEGAS STRIP, HENDERSON, NEVADA OFFERS THE ULTIMATE IN RESORT DESTINATIONS WITH 4,000 HOTEL ROOMS AND OVER 275,000 SQ. FEET OF MEETING SPACE. NESTLED AMONG THREE OF THE MOST RENOWNED MAN-MADE ATTRACTIONS IN THE WORLD, HENDERSON IS IDEALLY SITUATED AMID THE GLAMOROUS LAS VEGAS STRIP, THE ENGINEERING MARVEL OF THE HOOVER DAM, AND THE TRANQUIL BEAUTY OF LAKE MEAD.
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