A beautiful consequence of social distancing: Most of us are reconnecting with our families. Even though we canceled our original plans for spring break, we can still have a great time together. Our weeklong commitment to health, safety and relaxation, away from distance learning and working indoors, can be spent taking virtual vacations.
Cooking Classes from Florence, Italy
Just because the whole country is temporarily shut down doesn’t mean you can’t take one of the cooking classes that may have drawn you into the city this spring. Luxury hotel Il Salviatino’s executive chef Silvia Grossi is also stuck at home. She decided to make her time more joyous by leading cooking classes from her kitchen in Florence through the hotel’s Instagram. In keeping with the spirit of Italy’s version of #stayhome, #iorestoacasa (I stay at home), Grossi took a peek into her pantry and created easy recipes with ingredients most Italians are likely to already have in their cucinas. Grossi leads these virtual cooking lessons twice weekly in English for those who want the authentic taste of Italia while forced to stay away. Others started to follow her and recreate her dishes and share on their own channels.
See Iceland’s Northern Lights
Hotel Rangá, located in southern Iceland, is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. It’s situated in a secluded countryside. With the absence of artificial lights, the dark sky provides the perfect nocturnal canvas. The hotel features a live webcam perfect for those stuck at home over the last few weeks of the aurora borealis season.
What makes this luxury lodge even better, during normal times it’s home to an advanced observatory with a roll-off roof and two high-quality astronomical telescopes perfect for nights when the Northern Lights may not show themselves to the naked eye. It is the pet project of one of Iceland’s best-known astronomy experts, in attendance on clear nights to guide guests through a stellar star-gazing experience. Plus, when in season, the hotel offers northern lights wake-up calls.
Surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, the island of Hvar is an ideal European getaway, even if only from your living room via its livestream camera. Gaze upon sun-soaked beaches, imagining the time when you’ll be able to feel the warmth on your skin. Roll through lavender fields with your essential oil diffuser providing the sensory experience you’ll one day enjoy in person. Stroll through bold Mediterranean architecture, knowing someday your hands will touch their stone. Enjoy the island sunsets setting behind Hvar’s port with the Pakleni islands in the distance from the comfort of your couch.
It might be Thailand you’re craving to see — from the ancient wats of Bangkok to the night markets of Chiang Mai or the colorful islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, Thailand is a mix of modern cities living among ancient ruins, exotic cultures and delicious food. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is offering those craving a visit to Thailand a live stream view where virtual visitors can learn about a number of destinations and take in breathtaking views from the comfort of their home.
Yellowstone National Park
So your kids might not be into all that history and architecture stuff, but they’d love an adventure with Kasey Austin of Austin Adventures, named the world’s best family guide by Outside Magazine in 2014. She’s created an itinerary designed to engage your young traveler in an immersive experience from his favorite chair. Lessons run twice a week through the Zoom website and anyone can join.
Was it a visit to Japan that stirred your spirit? How about a drop into a limestone Makido Cave with an underground lake deep inside, outfitted with brightly colored LED lights to brighten your journey? As an official Natural Monument of Okayama Prefecture, Makido Cave comes alive as green, purple and pink lights swing across its jagged walls and vaulted ceilings during your virtual tour.
Visit a Luxurious Spa in Your Own Bathroom:
Most of what makes a spa indulgent and carefree are things you already have at home. With just a little prep, you can transform the space where your kids normally throw towels all over the floor into your personal retreat. “When you think about a spa, the most common elements are candlelight, soft music, plush robes and slippers, and aromatherapy,” said Christina Stephens, spa director, Wymara Resort & Villas, Turks & Caicos. “An easy and very effective way to promote relaxation is heated towels (or heated wet towels). When you apply a heated compress to the face, neck or body, it adds an extra level of relaxation, and it is so easy to do at home. You can also make a scrub with items you are likely to already have at home, such as sugar, coconut oil and olive oil, and if you have essential oils, you can add a few drops to add a nice, relaxing scent. I love using coffee grounds and olive oil, which is good for circulation, and can be applied in the shower. A warm bath with Epsom salt, essential oils and candles — and even an eye mask — can be very soothing. Or a foot soak with warm water, Epsom salt or even baking soda, can relax the feet and help remove calluses.”
Stephens also recommends incorporating a delicious hot tea or fruit water. “At our spa, we make a blend of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, but you can use any fresh fruit you have at home to be transported somewhere tropical.” Or it might be Champagne that sets the tone for your evening. Stephens also recommends putting a few drops of essential oils, such as eucalyptus, on a washcloth and using the steam in the shower to inhale and exhale deeply. “If you have a dry brush at home, you can use it to exfoliate before a shower. This is great for circulation and the lymph system as well.”
You can also create your own scrub from ingredients you have in your kitchen. Minerva Toledo, spa manager, Marriott Cancun Collection in Mexico, suggests combining olive oil with an essential oil of your preference, or you can use macerated coriander, basil or peppermint. Then, according to your skin type, use one of the following: brown sugar and oat for sensitive skin; brown sugar, oat and cornmeal for oily skin; or cornmeal and shredded coconut for normal skin. Mix until all ingredients are a soft cleansing paste and use as an exfoliating scrub in the shower.
Ultra Lux All-Round
Velas Resorts, known for exquisite culinary creations, gorgeous properties and personalized touches, wants to bring some pampering to you, right at home. Inside its digital magazine, you’ll find chefs waiting for you to share the contents of your kitchen so they can customize your perfect family meal. You’ll find instructions for crafts, like how to tie the knots that will make your own macrame. And you’ll even find wellness tips to help get you through your day in harmony.
While your body may be at home this spring break, your soul can soar with your family wherever you all choose.
With everything going on in the world, the fate of Halloween is still up in the air. Whether your town is canceling the holiday or coming up with alternatives, there is no reason your family should let Halloween slip away without doing something special.
Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains is the perfect place for autumnal fun, and at Camelback Resort, families can also enjoy some spooks this Halloween season with its Haunted Mountain Coaster and Lights Out Zip Line.
By Hainan Airlines
Driving into the quaint town of Luray, Virginia, was a much-needed reprieve from 4.5 hours spent driving mostly highways from New Jersey. My sister and I arrived in town around 4 p.m., found parking in the lot provided by Hotel Laurance, and happily jumped out to mask up, check-in and stretch our legs.