It’s pretty special to introduce today’s children to what western life in California was like in the 19th and 20th centuries; yet, it’s convenient for families staying at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort by Ayres, in Paso Robles, California. The Tuscan-style villa opened in late 2015, because owner Douglas Ayres fell in love with the area’s rolling hillsides and sprawling ranches and decided to build an antique- and art-filled hotel, there. The villa, with Mediterranean-style gardens and a vineyard, sits on 20 acres, near Route 101, just a few minutes from downtown Paso Robles. The Pioneer Museum, with its one-room school house, two cell jail and thousand-plus historical items, is less than two miles distant.
From the portico, there’s a soaring lobby with a seating area around the fireplace where kids can ogle at a huge glass chandelier that changes color and a slice of Sequoia Redwood, c. 214 B.C. The wide galley is lined with paintings by Russian Impressionists and landscapes by local artists, statuary and sculptures, antiques from India and family photographs. It leads to the central courtyard, with a fountain and a double staircase, an intrinsic part of the villa lifestyle. The gardens can be reached from the small, non-denominational, French-inspired chapel, through a Romeo and Juliet-style tunnel scaled to accommodate a horse and rider (or small carriage).
There are 171 accommodations in the mostly two-story structure; mine was an extra-large, ground-floor room with 14-foot ceilings. The entryway held an armoire closet (with safe) and a piece housing a fridge and Keurig coffee pot. Inside, the room featured a king-sized bed, a sitting area with a pull-out sofa (rooms with two queen beds are also available), a desk and French doors opening to a terrace abutting the courtyard.
Cello Ristorante & Bar, extends outside to an open-air, covered terrace and serves Mediterranean-inspired food by executive chef Justin Picard prepared from fresh ingredients sourced from local, Central Coast farmers, ranchers and fisher-folks. Local wines include a selection of Allegretto wines.
The resort offers complimentary activities families can enjoy together: a swimming pool, bocci ball, ping pong and tandem bikes among them. Adults appreciate the six treatment room spa with its wide corridors and high ceilings, its couple’s suite, lounge, sauna and outdoor terrace.
The concierge can arrange visits to wineries and fun options, including horseback riding and water slides and wave pools at the Ravine Water Park. Real beaches on the Pacific Ocean are just a 30-mile drive through the hillsides across Route 46, in Cambria.
While large areas of Colorado are experiencing exponential growth with far too many trees being clear-cut (it’s one of the fastest-growing states in the country), it’s still the home for great businesses striving to make the world a little greener. Those businesses include Sherpani, creators of women’s day bags, backpacks and travel bags, including a line of sophisticated, beautifully crafted items made from recycled plastic.
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
It’s been almost three years since Category 5 Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, wreaking havoc on the island and leaving most residents without electricity and clean water. Tourism, which accounts for 6.5 percent of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product, took a beating, with hotels closed for year-long repairs, airlines cutting service and cruise lines shifting itineraries to other Caribbean destinations. Timing for the hurricane couldn’t have been worse, coming on the heels of the government’s announcement in May 2017 that it was unable to pay more than $70 billion in public debt and thus forced to file for bankruptcy. Large protests and a change of government would follow. Then, in January 2020, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake rocked the south side of the island, forcing San Juan restaurants to close while power was restored. And as we write this story, coronavirus runs rampant across the globe with severe economic implications for all destinations, including Puerto Rico.
My youngest daughter and I arrived from Barcelona on the high-speed AVE train (in less than three hours) and entered Westin Palace Madrid in time for the Sunday Opera Brunch — which takes place under the stained-glass cupola of La Rotonda, where daily breakfast and cocktails are served. I’d heard about this event on several occasions when I toured the hotel in 2015, and when my granddaughter and I stayed there in 2017.