There are those in a family that like their vacations relaxing. A mojito on a white-sand beach, the dull thud of cyan waves gently unfolding on the shore. There are also those that like to see the Earth rushing at them, as they plunge out of a plane, parachute on their back or careen at 50 mph from tree to tree, off 100-foot platforms. We found options to make everyone happy.
Skateboarding exploded onto the pop scene in the 1960s/70s in California. Back then, you had to be fearless to do it. Kids trespassed into people’s backyards and skated empty pools. When they missed a landing, they fell on unforgiving concrete, crushing bones and bruising skin. Today, those skateboarding pioneers, like Tony Hawk, promote safer alternatives to the reckless style of those rebel days by helping to build community skateparks and promoting extreme skateparks, like Camp Woodward, where kids and adults can engage in adrenaline-pumping sports with a cushioned landing into foam pits and trampolines. Woodward partnered with the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico, to offer guests the option to lounge listlessly by an ocean spanning a spectrum of emerald to topaz watercolors or to challenge themselves on a BMX bike or snowboard inside its Woodward facility. Visitors who’ve always harbored secret ambitions of competing as an American Ninja Warrior could also try the Wrecktangle. Jump from wall to wall, dodge swinging obstacles while walking on a thin rail, climb a rope net — you can do it! And while you’re doing it, your other family members are doing yoga and getting pampered in the spa. Others are having guitars or turntables delivered to their room to rock out with one of Hard Rock’s signature music programs, Sound of Your Stay.
Let’s face it, even though our healthy diet (and some say survival) depends on an abundant population of bees, most people are not going to get cozy with them. Many look like they’re trying out a funky new dance routine with the frantic flapping of their limbs and quick dashes, if they happen to encounter one. But Westin’s Executive Chef Joel Delmond is a beekeeper who uses honey produced by the worker bees living in a secluded corner of the Rancho Mirage resort to infuse his culinary creations, like beer and the honey/white chocolate/macadamia nut cookies the hotel provides as an amenity to guests. Guests can also book a tour to put on a protective outfit that looks like a spacesuit to get up close and personal with the bees and watch them do their thing in their on-site apiary. If that sounds too crazy, you can also relax in one of the three resort pools or swing at balls on one of the two championship golf courses.
If you’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins but were uncomfortable at the thought of doing it while they lived in captivity, Delfin Amazon Cruises will satisfy both your longing for wildlife interaction and your humanitarian heart. All excursions on this river cruise are included in the fare. These include a night safari, where you can explore the nocturnal version of the jungle in the dark, canopy walks over trees with a naturalist guide and swimming with pink dolphins. The bright pink dolphins, exclusive to the Amazon Basin, are friendly and love interacting with humans. Though you might not get a kiss from them, they will probably let you pet them and snap a quick photo to wow your Instagram friends. Afterwards, you can relax in your luxurious cabin aboard one of the Delfin ships, all include wall-to-ceiling windows and others offer balconies and private whirlpools.
Lake vacations can be the tranquil alternative to bustling beaches but the Shore Lodge ramps up that reality! Aside from the typical lakeside activities, like stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, guests of this Idaho resort can rent a boat, be dropped off by some boulders and climb various-sized cliffs, yelling “Jeronimooooooo!” as they hurl themselves into the water. Laughter and cheering is the bonus. If you’d rather stay grounded, the resort is situated at the edge of the largest, protected wilderness area in the United States with many hot springs to explore.
If you want to ride a water buffalo, you can go to Thailand to do it! Seldom do travelers get to visit a place and have the chance to see what it’s like to live like one of the locals. A private residence in Udon Thani gives your entire family that opportunity in a luxury setting. You can help plant rice, go on a field mouse hunt, get a Thai massage, learn how to drive a tuk tuk and, yes, ride a water buffalo. The only differences from living like a typical Thai citizen is you’ll have all your meals prepared, maid service and babysitting upon request.
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.
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.
While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.
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.