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Published: 2014-05-05T11:17:38-05:00

 



New Hampshire Commission Runs Campaigns for Veterans

2014-05-05T11:17:38-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent If you find yourself up in the Granite State anytime soon and want to help our veterans, consider this: The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is partnering with Fabrizia Spirits and Southern Wine & Spirits of New Hampshire to raise money for Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit that builds adaptive homes for vets with life-altering injuries. It’s also sponsoring a partnership between Beam and Southern Wine & Spirits to spur donations for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that provides emergency, financial, moral and other support to troops and their families. For every 750ml bottle of Fabrizia Limoncello or Fabrizia Blood Orange sold in May at any New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet, the Salem-based company will donate $5 to Homes for Our Troops, which since 2004 has worked to build adaptive homes for more than 1,700 veterans, each averaging about $430,000 in cost, at no charge to the vets. Fabrizia is also kicking in $2.50 for every 375ml bottle sold. For information on Homes for Our Troops, visit www.hfotusa.org Operation Homefront benefits from another offer, which allows state residents 21 and older to make a $5 donation to the agency by texting DUTY to 27722, with Beam matching all donations through June 30, up to a total of $10,000. Beam is also creating Jim Beam bourbon bottles with limited-edition Operation Homefront labels during the campaign. Since 2008, Beam has helped raise about $1 million in cash and in-kind donations for Operation Homefront. For info on that nonprofit, visit www.operationhomefront.net [...]



Moon Dance Cliffs in Jamaica Lives Up to “Hidden-Gem” Status

2014-04-29T12:09:48-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent The term “hidden gem” may be overused, but when you stumble across one, it seems acceptable to use. We visited one recently, Moon Dance Cliffs in Negril, Jamaica, a relatively new resort built in 2008. It’s small, with 35 rooms, mostly in the property’s arching hotel building and others scattered in villas on either side, but seemed big when we were there. We were two of only a handful of guests and pretty much had the place to ourselves.   There was good reason: They do tons of weddings and were between events, said Hassan, the affable barkeep who tended to our needs at the swim-up watering hole in the resort pool.   “Next week,” he said, creating a rum drink specialty, “This place will be hoppin’, mon, we got anudder weddin’ comin’ in.”   There’s a lot to like at Moon Dance. The rooms are spacious, decently appointed and the deluxe rooms come with balcony Jacuzzis, a huge plus and great place to relax after relaxing all day -- easing into hot, bubbling water to watch fabled Negril sunsets. There is no beach, owing to the location on corral cliffs, but the sprawling pool suffices for cooling off. And in the middle of all that coral in front of the hotel is a paved patio section, a pretty cool spot to take lunch, or if you’re adventurous, leap off said cliffs to bob in the ocean. There is a small ladder for easy return to land, but it’s an adventure best reserved for the at least marginally physically fit since the ocean churns up pretty good on the rocky coast.   The place is fairly luxurious and well appointed, and very affordable. Off-season room rates start at $125 a night. For another $125, you can upgrade to all inclusive.   The pool is more than adequate, but if it’s sand you desire, cab over to nearby Seven Mile Beach. Moon Dance has a villa property there, now closed and up for sale, but maintains a private section of beach - which does not mean you won’t be accosted by Jamaica’s aggressive beach vendors, selling just about everything. Be firm with your “no thanks,”and they’ll hustle away seeking an easier mark.   Annie’s is the main restaurant at Moon Dance Cliffs, an open-air eatery by the sea wall where a giant almond tree twinkles at night with white lights, and you can get genuine Jamaican food, like salt fish and ackee for breakfast, and goat stew for dinner.   A word to the caffeine addicted: Island time rules here, meaning if you want early-morning coffee forget it, you won’t find any until at least 7 when Annie’s opens (there aren’t in-room coffee machines, but soon will be, I was told). Alas, it’s worth the wait: They use Jamaica’s own Blue Mountain Coffee, arguably one of the world’s tastiest.   It’s always good to get out and about on vacation, and one worthy spot to visit is the Negril Craft Market, a ramshackle place of tin-roofed shops jammed with colorful Jamaican things, from masks to jewelry to clothing, marijuana pipes, art and more. The shop keepers are relentless and pushy, which turns many Americans off, but seemed charming and harmless to me. I negotiated prices on a cool Rasta infant hat for $12 and a bathing suit for $18. Did I get taken? Maybe, but the bartering experience was worth it. Another interesting spot that we passed but did not visit: The Scrub a’ Dub, a car wash by day, strip club by night. You have to admire that sort of commercial adaptability.   One key to Moon Dance Cliffs’ success: The staff. I’ve been to many Caribbean resorts, but never have I seen a staff so friendly and helpful, from the front desk to the landscapers. Our favorites were Hassan and Trevor, the latter dubbed Johnny Walker, both young men with electric, contagious energy, style and personality, both with young children of whom they are immensely proud, and quite happy to show pictures of. They told us about their family history, their lives, opening up a personal portal between us that made us feel connected with workers&n[...]



Crawfish Festival Kicks Off Crustacean Season

2014-04-28T13:22:09-05:00

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Louisiana crawfish might be tiny compared to Maine lobster, but they can taste as sweet. The small town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana (near Lafayette) is celebrating its signature crustaceans this weekend, May 2-4, with one of the biggest and best food parties I've ever had the pleasure to attend: the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. In addition to steaming pots of boiled crawfish and rich bowls of crawfish etoufee, the fairgrounds have three stages of non-stop Cajun, Zydeco, R&B and Swamp Pop bands playing from morning until late at night. The Cajun Heritage tent runs dance lessons, cooking lessons, and even a session on making a traditional Cajun accordion. Admission is $5 on Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $5 on Sunday. For more information, see www.bbcrawfest.com.

Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe




Santa Fe Offering Tasty and Cultural Options for Tourists

2014-04-28T01:06:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a place of remarkable cultural and culinary diversity. For those who like to walk and eat, a few pedestrian tours are recommended. The Santa Fe Chocolate Trail features four chocolate shops on a tour through the heart of the historic city, with stops for dark chocolate truffles, fudge, Mayan chocolate elixirs and more. There’s the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail for the carnivore walker, in a state that is known as the green chile capital of the world, with a burger that is a staple on many menus.  There’s a coffee-lover’s tour for the caffeine seeker, and a New Mexico Food Tour, with demonstrations, samples and stories. Advanced purchase of the food tour is required, visit www.santafeschoolofcooking.com On the cultural end, consider the New Deal Art Legacy Tour, which through art looks at the aftermath of the New Deal’s effect on New Mexico, and Santa Fe in particular. The Literary Landmarks Tour honors the city’s reputation as a literary colony in the early 20th century, allowing visitors to check out the homes of notable writers. The Outside Bike & Brew Festival is a new event, running May 15-18, with craft beer fest, bike expo, music, food trucks, live-art demonstrations, a bike beauty pageant and more, including the 29th annual Santa Fe Century, a 100-mile ride. Other upcoming events include new exhibits at the New Mexico Museum of Art; the Santa Fe Art Trifecta July 10-13; Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography at the New Mexico History Museum; Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; the new Sculpt Santa Fe event June 27-29; and Origami in the Garden through Oct. 25.  For information on all of it, including lodging, packages and discounts, visit www.santafe.org [...]



Boston Ranks Fifth on Clean Air List

2014-04-24T10:13:24-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent Breathe easier, Boston: The city came in fifth on the list of American cities with the cleanest air, in the 2nd Annual AirGenius Awards, sponsored by Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner. The results, evaluated by scientists at the global consulting firm Environmental Health & Engineering, looked at city air quality criteria and ranked Boston as number five on a list of 10, with San Francisco in first, Denver at the bottom. Filling in the rest from second place down are Cape Coral and Palm Bay, in Florida, Austin, Texas, Tucson, San Jose and Florida’s Lakeland and Sarasota. See the complete list of 100. Spoiler alert: Other New England spots making the cut were Springfield, Worcester and Providence in 35th-37th, Portland, Maine in 57th, and New Haven in 69th.(Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff) [...]



Cruising continues as popular travel option

2014-04-23T07:35:22-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent As the warm weather rolls around, so are the ways people look to travel this summer, including by water. A survey of 250 American Express Travel Counselors showed that 32 percent of customers will seek out a cruise this season, and while many will opt for huge ships and premium cruise lines, about 36 percent of their customers are seeking river cruises. Value remains a key factor, the survey revealed, with 43 percent of the counselors saying discounts are most effective in getting their clients to book a cruise, with 25 percent preferring on board credits. Other results: 43 percent of customers want on board credits when cruising, while 20 percent prefer a stateroom upgrade. The counselors also said they’ve noticed a cruise booking increase this year, and are seeing the average cruise length span seven nights. For information on American Express’s travel component, visit www.amextravel.com [...]



New Hampshire opening new 'Zip Tour,' extreme weather museum

2014-04-22T10:01:18-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent If you think nothing’s new in the Granite State, think again. As the snow mercifully melts, New Hampshire is unveiling a bunch of new stuff this season, from the longest zip line in the continental U.S. to a revamped and pumped-up extreme weather museum atop Mount Washington. Attitash Mountain Resort is set to open a new “Zip Tour” this summer that will include two parallel cable spans from the summit of Bear Peak to the mountain base, with heights of up to 40 feet. The longer of the two, which total just under 5,000 feet in length, will be the longest, single-span zip line in the continental United States, Attitash officials said. Check it out at www.attitash.com The peak of Mount Washington, exposed and raw at the confluence of major wind and weather, will re-open its celebrated summit museum in June as “Extreme Mount Washington.” The museum, the state’s most-visited museum with a quarter-million visitors per season, will feature all new hands-on, high-tech exhibits, which is said to deliver the brutal wonder of a winter on the mountain, the northeast’s highest peak. For info, visit www.extreme.mountwashington.org Down at sea level, “Finding Home: Stories from a Neighborhood of Newcomer” is a new exhibit at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, open from May 1-Oct. 31. It showcases families from Canada, France, Ukraine, Italy, Greece and England who were among the first to arrive in the area during the first settlement wave in 1623, through archaeological artifacts and personal accounts, that help characterize life on “Puddle Dock.” Check it out at www.strawberybanke.org There are two new coyote and wood-energy exhibits this year at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness, the first featuring a live male coyote and various interpretations and information, and the second an exhibit that is a model of sustainability that saves energy and money. Visit www.nhnature.org for information. For new lodging, there is The Hotel Portsmouth, located in the former Sise Inn, a renovated hotel of 32 guestrooms, a Victorian parlor, library and lounge, in Haymarket Square. Check it out at www.thehotelportsmouth.com The Inn at East Hill Farm now offers customized working-farm stays for groups, where guests can milk cows, collect eggs or help with many farm chores. For information visit www.east-hill-farm.com The SALT Kitchen + Bar at Wentworth By the Sea Hotel & Spa in Newcastle is the newest addition at the renovated hotel, with chef’s bar, smaller dining enclaves and a terrific lounge that was opened up by tearing down a wall. For fun, private dining, try to book the wine room, a glassed-in space with long table and wall full of wine. Visit www.wentworth.com for detailsFor all-things New Hampshire, go to www.visitnh.gov [...]



A real taste of Palm Springs

2014-04-21T14:32:49-05:00

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When we wrote about Palm Springs in the Globe Travel section on April 12, we didn't have enough space to linger on this terrific desert community — or to mention the culinary walking tours of downtown. They're offered by Desert Tasty Tours from October through May, and include a running commentary on the resort town's history and culture as well as the chance to sample some of its local flavors. The tour makes six stops to try dishes that range from a shrimp taco to a date milkshake to pizzas named for celebrities' favorite topping combinations. For details see the company's website and click on the “Palm Canyon” tab.

Photo of the Village Pub's shrimp taco by David Lyon for the Boston Globe.




Providence Preservation Society Hosting Festival of Historic Homes

2014-04-21T06:10:55-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent The Providence Preservation Society hosts the 35th annual Festival of Historic Houses June 13-15, highlighting some of the city’s most interesting homes, gardens and converted mill spaces. Society officials said Providence is one of the few mid-sized American cities with much of its historical character intact, with its post-industrial heritage represented by traditional grand houses of captains of industry and the adaptive reuse of industrial buildings and sites into homes. Brent Runyon, the society’s executive director, said they’ve expanded the tour to two days; there is a fund-raising cocktail reception on the first day in a private historic home. The festival starts on Saturday in historic College Hill between Brown University and Fox Point, where the oldest homes include Federal-style homes of a merchant, seaman and captain. Approximately 10 houses will be open for touring in the area of Cooke, Manning and Hope streets. The next day, it continues across town to the south side at the Pearl Street lofts, an old mill complex converted to living, work and retail spaces. The cocktail party will be held at the Joseph Cooke House on Hope Street, a fundraiser for the society, and on Sunday KITE Architects in the Pearl Street lofts, hosts a special reception from 3-6 p.m. to extend the festival tour. Advance tickets are $35 per day for society members and $40 for non-members; day-of tickets are $45, and the cocktail party is $125. For tickets, call Angela Kondon at the Providence Preservation Society, 401-831-7740, or email akondon@ppsri.org For information, visit www.ppsri.org And not to leave out the state next door, Massachusetts has a myriad of house tours this year, check them out at www.centersandsquares.com/house-tours-in-massachusetts  Photo of Pearl Street loft courtesy of Armory Properties     [...]



For Broadway fans, a chance to score a free trip

2014-04-18T12:20:38-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent NewYork.com, a resource for travel, entertainment and many things Big Apple, has launched its “Ultimate Broadway Fan Contest,” which will award a passionate fan of the Great White Way a weekend getaway and VIP perks. The winner gets round-trip air to the city, a chauffeur and two nights at the Crowne Plaza Times Square, dinner at NYY Steak and an invitation to the Tony Awards rehearsal. Here’s how to enter. Post a photo on Instagram or Twitter that proves you’re the ultimate Broadway fan, which could be posing with a collection of Playbills or a shot with your favorite Broadway actor, or even dressing up like that actor or posing with a mock-up poster. Let your theatrical imagination wander. You also have to complete the sentence: “I’m Broadway’s biggest fan because…” and include the hashtag #bringmetobroadway. Submit all of that by April 30 at 5 p.m. to  www.newyork.com/ultimatefancontest. Participants must be 18 or older and live in the continental United States. The editors of NewYork.com will narrow the list to 30 and from May 5-16, will ask the site’s audience to vote a winner, which will be announced May 19. Check out www.newyork.com/contest-rules for all information. [...]



Nantucket resorts cutting summer deals

2014-04-17T11:22:19-05:00

Nantucket is a pretty pricey place, especially so in the peak summer months. But three properties there, White Elephant Village, The Wauwinet, and Jared Coffin House, are offering a break when you book five consecutive nights from July 6-24, with 30-percent savings. Rates start at $2,500 for five nights at White Elephant and The Wauwinet, and $1,180 at Jared Coffin.

White Elephant Village is three blocks from town and comprises a new inn and one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences. Guests booking the latter units can also use their own BMW X5 sport-activity vehicle to get about the island. The Wauwinet, the island’s only Relais & Chateaux property, is located between Nantucket Bay and the ocean, home to Topper’s restaurant, recently voted the state’s top-rated eatery in the 2014 Zagat survey. Jared Coffin is the former home of one of New England’s most successful whaling ship owners and is located in the heart of downtown.

To book, visit www.nantucketislandresorts.com and use code SFL




Bermuda offering summer deals

2014-04-16T12:52:17-05:00

Bermuda, always a big draw for Boston-area travelers, is offering a “So Much More Summer” deal. Book by May 15 for travel between May 1 and Sept. 1, and get a $200 resort credit for stays of three or more nights at participating hotels. They include Cambridge Beaches, Elbow Beach, The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Rosewood Tucker’s Point and others. For all info and booking, visit www.gotobermuda.com




Connecting The Windy City and The Big Easy by train

2014-04-16T12:43:16-05:00

If you’re a fan of rail travel, check this out. Pullman Rail Journeys is connecting Chicago and New Orleans with a “Train Therapy” deal on select departures. Current discounted rates start at $120 per person, available May 15, June 12 and 26. For booking and info, visit www.travelpullman.com/traintherapy.(image)

Chicago-based Pullman Rail Journeys is an independently owned operator of first-class passenger service on both the Amtrak scheduled network and private train and charter service, featuring restored vintage rail cars. Parent company Iowa Pacific Holdings is the owner of the largest number of original Pullmans in the world, with about 70 cars in various stages of restoration and service.




Miracle Strip opening again

2014-04-16T12:32:36-05:00

Maybe the third time’s the charm: The Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City Beach, Fla., is opening up again, the third time the long-time regional favorite has come to life. The original was founded in 1964 and shut down in the early 2000s when the land was sold as part of a real estate deal. In 2010, Teddy and Jenny Meeks bought its vintage carousel ride and brought it to Pier Park in Panama City Beach, the second incarnation of at least some part of the original, to which they soon added other rides, including a 1974 Big Eli Ferris Wheel. But the area was too small, so the Meeks got a bigger plot of land nearby to move to in early 2013.(image)

Now at the new site, there are 10 new rides, for a total of 20, a water playground, RipTide roller coaster, teacup ride and more. The new Miracle Strip Amusement Park is holding its grand re-opening April 18, at 284 Powell Adams Road, at Pier Park. No admission fee is charged, and rides are $4 each or $28 for the day. Check it all out at www.ms-pp.com




Charleston pumping up golf packages

2014-04-16T10:03:47-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent Charleston, South Carolina, is a pretty popular destination for golfers, and the city is offering several stay-and-play packages for duffers this summer. One is “Brew & Birdies,” available through Sept. 11, which includes three nights at the Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview Hotel, three rounds of golf at a choice of eight courses and a three-and-a-half hour tour of local craft breweries. The package starts at $149 a night. The “Historic District & Resort Sampler,” available through Aug. 31, includes four nights at the Holiday Inn Charleston Historic Downtown and four rounds of golf at a choice of six courses, with rates from $229. The “Lowcountry Links Layouts” deal, good through Aug. 31 and starting at $170 a night, gets you three nights at the Courtyard by Marriot Charleston Waterfront and three rounds of golf at Patriots Point Links, the Links at Stono Ferry and Wild Dunes Links Course. Stretch out the season and you’ll get the “Golf & Haunted Jail Tour,” good through Nov. 27, with three nights at the King Charles Inn, three rounds of golf, and a walking tour of Charleston’s haunted Old City Jail. Rates kick in at $176. Even deeper into the year is the Wild Dunes Resort deal through Dec. 31, which gets two nights at the resort and a round of golf at both the Harbor Course and Links Course. The package starts at $175. For all info and booking, visit www.charlestongolfguide.com or call 800-774-4444. [...]



Easter deals, near and far

2014-04-15T14:44:58-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent If you're still figuring out what to do on or around Easter, here are a few possibilities. The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I., the only hotel on the fabled walkway by the sea, is offering an Easter Sunday brunch for $75 per person, with food from state native and Executive Chef Thomas Duffy that includes a pancake duet, oyster and corn chowder, yogurt-marinated lamb kabob, and lemon panna cotta. Check it out at www.thechanler.com The Charles Hotel in Cambridge has an Easter brunch ($65 adults, $25 kids) at its Rialto restaurant, where James Beard award-winning Executive Chef Jody Adams is whipping up things like breakfast antipasti, roasted leg of lamb, and rhubarb frangipane tart. Make a weekend of it with rates starting at $259 a night. Visit www.charleshotel.com for information. Down the Cape, the Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club in Brewster is running a family getaway deal for Easter and spring break that runs through April 27. Activities include fitness classes and wine tastings for grown-ups and s'mores on the beach, pool games and biking for everyone. Rates start at $155 a night for regular rooms and $215 for rooms in the resort’s mansion. For info, visit www.oceanedge.com Farther away, and where it's pretty reasonable to assume it will be warmer than here, the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean has its annual Festival Del Mar culinary fete on Easter weekend, a celebration of all-things sea, hosted in a fishing village on the island's eastern tip. Events include swimming and crab races and a culinary competition. The festival features more than 30 local vendors, each showcasing classic island fare such as lobster, crayfish, shark and salt fish. Debuting this year is lionfish, an invasive species that local restaurants have added to menus. Visit www.ivisitanguilla.com/festival-del-mar for information.   [...]



James Beard Foundation honors Olneyville

2014-04-12T12:04:12-05:00

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Olneyville New York System has always been one of our favorites among Rhode Island's system weiner restaurants, and we're glad to see that the James Beard Foundation agrees. We wrote about the place last May in a “Fork in the Road” column. This spring the James Beard Foundation picked Olneyville as one of only four newly enshrined “America's Classics,” noting that Greg and Stephanie Stevens are the fourth generation of owners at this joint known for weiners slathered with mustard, covered in meat sauce and chopped onions, sprinkled with celery salt, and served on a steamed bun. Believe it or not, the celery salt makes a difference

Photo of two wieners and a coffee milk by David Lyon for the Boston Globe




Providence's East Side among top 10 'stylish' neighborhoods in U.S.

2014-04-10T09:29:52-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent To anyone familiar with the place, this is a no-brainer: Providence's East Side, an eclectic mix of residential, retail and rich history, was listed among the top 10 "stylish" neighborhoods in the U.S. at Paste Magazine's website. We're not sure how they decided who made the cut or if the ranking is by favorite, but there was the East Side at number one, on a list that included 'hoods in California, Washington (DC and the state), Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas.    The blurb lauds the area’s academic style, a place where free-wheeling RISD students mix with professors from Ivy League Brown University, and adds that no other city boasts such a wide and fashionable variety of cold weather gear during the school year, mentioning stores New and Vintage Apparel on Thayer Street and Marc Allen Fine Clothiers on South Main.   And stay tuned for nature’s fashion: Soon will be the best time to stroll the East Side’s Benefit Street and check out the spring bloom of stately trees lining the historic street.    Check out the story at www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2014/04/10-undercover-stylish-neighborhoods.html [...]



Providence offering 'Do-Over Day' April 12

2014-04-09T12:02:18-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentIt was a rough winter, as we know all too well, forcing cancellation of events and plans. The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau is hosting its first “Do-Over Day” April 12 to give folks a chance to do what winter stopped them from doing. The event encourages people to support local restaurants, shops and other businesses impacted by the dreary winter that’s hopefully now long gone.The bureau has created a “Do-Over Day” page at its website that has special dining, shopping and attraction offers tied to the program. Participants include the Providence Performing Arts Center’s 25-percent discount offer for the “We Will Rock You” show; a gondola ride special package from La Gondola; and discounts at restaurants such as 2 Pauls City Grille, Blaze East Side, Wayland Square Restaurant, the Chow Fun Food Group restaurants, and the local Ruth Chris Steak House and Capital Grille chains.“Many people had plans ruined because of the winter weather,” said bureau president and CEO Martha Sheridan. “By simply doing over activities that were cancelled, we can all contribute to our local economy and support businesses in our community.” For all info, visit www.goprovidence.com/things-to-do/do-over-day/ [...]



Spring deals in Boston and beyond mark new season

2014-04-09T10:43:19-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentSpring has been a long time coming. And even though we’re squarely into April, there’s no guarantee winter won’t sneak in a snowy reminder that it still lurks. However, we remain optimistic by bringing you, in the spirit of spring, several places near and far offering seasonal deals.“Follow Me to Fenway” is a package offered by XV Beacon in Boston, with rates from $595. It includes a night’s stay in the hotel’s Beacon Hill studio, hot pretzels and local beer as arrival amenities, a tour of Fenway Park, and transfers to and from Fenway in a Lexus courtesy car. And no, tickets to the game are not included. Those will run you from $200-$450 extra. Check it out at www.xvbeacon.com/packagesThe Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City has its “Get Cyc’d for Spring,” with a new line of designer bikes and a spinning-centric package. Rates are from $399 a night, and get you one night, a spin class at Cyc, a new indoor cycling studio at Astor Place, and fresh-pressed juice via in-room dining after your ride. Check it out at www.gramercyparkhotel.comOut west, a “Birds & Bees” package is running at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, with rates starting at $225 a night for a two-night stay, gourmet picnic lunch for two to take on a hike, and $100 spa credit.  For info, visit www.loewshotels.com/en/Ventana-Canyon-ResortAlso out west, Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., is running a “Drive, Dine and Dream” deal through April 30, which gets you 30 percent off the Four Diamond Award resort’s best available room rate (rates run from $168-$196 a night).  Visit www.lakearrowheadresort.com for info. In Sedona, Ariz., the Enchantment Resort, through May 10, has its spring carnival, with events like a spring bake-off and “shaving cream whiffle ball.”  Room rates here kick in at $300 a night. The Tides Inn in Irvington, Va., runs its family vacation package starting at $379 a night for two adults and two children, with activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing, hanging out at the fire pit, taking a ride on bikes the resort provides for guests, Frisbee golf and more. The package also includes a one-hour water cruise and tickets to the Steamboat Museum. For more, visit www.tidesinn.com Though snow is never an issue in the Caymans, the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa has a spring deal offering six nights for the price of four (a 33-percent savings), and $20 off per person for a choice of stingray sandbar/Rum Point excursions or at the Kittiwake/Reef Sail. The resort just underwent a renovation, including opening a signature restaurant, Beach House. The deal is good through Dec. 19, and rates start at $439 a night. Visit www.westingrandcaymancom for details and use code LAPKG1 if booking. The Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel is hosting its 2nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt. From April 14-25, guests can take part in a contest to find 89 hidden decorative Easter eggs -- marking the hotel’s 89th anniversary --  in randomly selected guest rooms (up to nine eggs a day). They can be redeemed for adult- or kid-friendly gifts, which include Marriott Reward Points, a free drink at Edgar Bar & Kitchen, milk and cookies turndown amenity, candy, and chocolates. One hidden golden egg gets the finder a free two-night weekend stay on future visit. Rates at the hotel start at $229 for the special. For information, visit www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/w[...]



Forty is the magic number at Bolongo Bay

2014-04-08T10:15:45-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent They’ve given away more than 40,000 bottles of rum, hosted 2,200 weddings, and held more than 2,000 manager cocktail parties over the past 40 years. And now, to mark that anniversary, the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas, a second-generation business run by the Doumeng family since 1974, is offering a few 40-something specials.   A tradition at Bolongo Bay is its weekly snorkel booze hunts, where they plunk small bottles of rum in the bay for guests to find and keep. This year, the resort is giving away 40 free nights (and the rum, of course) to the guests who find the bottles with a message in it, earning one of 20, two-night stays through 2014.   Guests marking their own 40th birthday or anniversary get a gift on the night of their occasion, paying $40 for a room in the room-only plan or getting $40 off the all-inclusive rate. In addition, guests booking a five-night stay between now and Dec. 22 get 15-percent off room-only rates, plus $40 food and beverage credit per person to use at the onsite restaurants and bars, a $40 Heavenly Days credit per person for a sailing trip and a $40 credit for the boutique. Five-night packages start at $1,527, including taxes, for two in an ocean-view room. The resort, begun by Long Island watch salesman Dick Doumeng and his wife, Joyce, in 1974, is said to be one of firsts, including hiding bottles of local Cruzan rum for guests to find since the resort’s inception; bringing all-inclusive packages to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1988; offering live entertainment seven nights a week at Iggies Beach Bar since 1989; and providing free non-motorized sports gear.   I stayed at Bolongo Bay a couple years ago and found it to be one of the coolest small all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, not high-end but comfortable and friendly, a place where you can’t turn a corner without running into a Doumeng family member, including Mike Doumeng, grandson of the founders, who started Give Tanks, a group that raises money through branded gear to help schools in Nicaragua. Check that out at www.give-tanks.comFor info on the resort's deals, visit www.bolongobay.com/40th-anniversary and use promo code 40th.  (Photos by Paul E. Kandarian, top photo Bolongo Bay beach, bottom photo a guest on Heavenly Days boat splashes into the sea) [...]



Rum lovers unite: Festival returns to Miami

2014-04-08T07:12:56-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentI’m no rum expert by anything resembling a long shot, but I know what I like. And three years ago, I liked going to the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. A lot. With hundreds of great rums from around the world, what’s not to like?The 2014 version runs this year from April 25-27, at the Doubletree Hotel Miami Airport Convention Center, expanding from previous versions to feature more than 50,000-square-feet of exhibits and more than 80 rum producers showcasing hundreds of award-winning and notable rum brands.“We’re expanding the size and scope of the festival again this year,” said Robin Burr, show manager, quite the rum expert, and author of Rob’s Rum Guide, which pretty much contains everything you need to know about the historic spirit. “Rum producers from many more countries will participate. There is no better way to discover all the amazing rums the world has to offer.”Events include rum seminars, with proceeds benefiting The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans, and some are “The Wonderful World of Tiki Cocktails,” by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell; “Cocktails in Literature,” by Phil Greene of the aforementioned museum; and “Lost Spirits Navy Style,” by master distiller and blender Bryan Davis.There will also be a world tiki cocktail champion named, sponsored by Bacardi and featuring mixologists from America and the United Kingdom; an island lifestyle showcase; and the “Rum XP Tasting Competition,” which brings leading rum experts from around the world to judge winning rums.Tickets are $50 per day for general admission ($75 for VIP) and $150 for a three-day VIP pass, which when you think about it, isn’t a bad price to pay for tasting a considerable amount of rum. Burr said Miami is the number one rum market in the world, and among all the festivals the city hosts, his was judged number one by the Miami New Times.  The event literally offers rums from A to Z, from Abuelo 12 to Zafra 21.It is the largest rum festival in the world, Burr said, adding that the world is taking notice, saying “We’re seeing a great increase in travelers attending from all the islands of the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as Europe and Asia.”For all information, check out www.miamirumfest.com. It’ll make you thirsty.(Photo by Tatu Kaarlas courtesy of Miami Rum Renaissance Festival)    [...]



Montserrat unveils master plan for growth

2014-04-04T08:00:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentWant to buy a Caribbean island? Well, at least buy into one? Here’s your chance. Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory, has launched its master plan for growth, a privately funded development on the island’s northwest side. Officials call it an “aggressive layout of post-volcanic” development which will include a centrepiece hotel, marine village and service center, a port for ferries, small- to mid-size cruise ships and private yachts, and a variety of incentive-driven commercial and residential investment possibilities.You may recall that the southern part of the island was devastated by the eruption of a long-dormant volcano starting in 1995, which buried the capital city of Plymouth in volcanic mud, and crippling the island economy. The volcano continues to vent gas, and that section of the island has been deemed off limits.But the rest of the island is in good shape, and the Montserrat Development Corporation, an autonomous agency established by the island government, is in charge of leading the island renaissance.“As we look to investors and developers around the globe who share our vision for growth consistent with Montserrat’s natural beauty, charm and warmth,” said Ivan Browne, chief executive of the MDC, in a press release, “we recognize the importance of this economic and tourist revitalization for the people of Montserrat, local residents and business interests, and future visitors.”Regarding the volcanic activities, Browne said, “Soufriere volcano is the most studied volcano in the world, with a permanent observatory and team of world-renowned volcanologists and seismologists who are continuously monitoring and have assured us that the combination of island topography with its major hills and bluffs, and location of our master-plan development on the northwest side of the island, provide a naturally safe, protected and ideal focal point for the Caribbean’s newest capital city.”That new city, as yet to be named, will be developed on a 225-acre site known as Little Bay and Carr’s Bay. It will host an affordable luxury hotel, adjacent hillside private villas, residences and condos, and a mix of leisure and civic facilities. For investment information, visit www.investmontserrat.com For tourism info, visit www.visitmontserrat.com  [...]



New Haven spring means restaurant week time

2014-04-03T02:03:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent A sure sign of spring is restaurants gearing up for a new season. They’re doing just that in New Haven with the 12th installment of the popular bi-annual New Haven Restaurant Week April 6-11, with almost 30 of the city’s restaurants participating. They will offer three-course prix fix menus for lunch ($18) and dinner ($32). Prices don’t include beverage, tax or tip. As in prior events, the special menus are in addition to each restaurant’s regular fare. Diners downtown also get $5 parking from 4 p.m. to midnight throughout the week, at the Crown Street and Temple Street garages. Participating restaurants include 116 Crown, Barcelona Restaurant & Wine Bar, Heirloom, L’Orcio and Zinc. For a complete list of restaurants and more information, visit www.infonewhaven.com/restaurantweek, and follow it at Twitter with hashtag #NHRW14. [...]



Costa Rican Vacations offering getaway price reduction

2014-04-01T11:50:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentCosta Rican Vacations offering getaway price reductionCosta Rican Vacations is offering a seven-night getaway for the price of five nights, chopping approximately $780 off the package. The package includes all local airport and ground transfers, three nights in the boutique hotel of Arenal Kioro (with views of the Arenal volcano), that has its own tropical gardens and hot springs, and which includes buffet breakfast, and shuttle service to the Titoku Hot Springs, and four nights at the Villa Buena Onda in Playas del Coco, which includes all meals. Rates start at $2,700 per couple, and is available April 1 to June 30 (excluding Easter week). For information and booking, visit www.vacationscostarica.com or call 800-606-1860. [...]



CheapAir.com releases voice-activated search app

2014-04-01T11:45:26-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentAs if searching for flights on a cell phone isn’t pretty easy already, CheapAir.com has launched a new mobile app featuring voice-activated search, available for iPhone and iPad. When users search for flights, they can just say something like “Chicago to New York May 5th to the 10th,” or “LA to Las Vegas tomorrow, coming back Sunday,” and the app finds results from hundreds of airlines. The app uses semantic language technology first developed by CheapAir for Easy Search, a free-form search at its website. The app results show the same detail as on the website, including amenity info like which flights have WiFi, personal video monitors or live TV.According to a company press release, the app comes at a time when use of mobile phones for travel information is growing. It cites a Digital Consumer report by Tealeaf that says 15 percent of consumers already use the mobile web for travel services and 13 percent are using mobile travel apps downloaded from one of the top app stores.To download the app, visit www.apple.com/itunes/ For CheapAir info, visit www.cheapair.com    [...]



Escape to Arizona for a little heat and relaxation

2014-04-01T04:45:00-05:00

(image) If winter’s unrelenting grip has you dreaming of an escape to a warmer climate, check out the Truly Boulders Package at The Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria resort, in Carefree, Ariz.

The Truly Boulders Package, available beginning May 26, includes accommodations in a private casita, a $25 food and beverage credit, free valet or self parking, a 20-percent discount off spa services as well as unlimited to access to the facility and fitness classes, and complimentary golf clubs, golf shoes, and tennis racket rental. Rates begin at $159 per night, including resort fee and based on double occupancy. Summer green fees at the two Jay Morrish-designed golf courses are $65 Sunday-Thursday, before 9 a.m., and $55 after 9 a.m. In winter, those same green fees are $225. And if you’re worried about the heat, Carefree’s higher location in the desert north of Phoenix is usually about 10 degrees cooler than in the valley below.




Stress be gone: Bermuda holding first yoga festival

2014-03-31T12:28:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentThis is another named month we’d not heard about: April is National Stress Awareness Month and Bermuda is honoring it with the inaugural Bermuda Yoga Festival, with packages promoting health, emotional well-being and, of course, relaxing. The festival takes place April 3-6 on the grounds of Fairmont Southampton, offering 42 master classes and workshops and the chance to take part in wisdom talks, under-the-stars kirtan, meditations, quigong and ecstatic dance led by 11 teachers and international presenters. Travelers can buy an all-access pass to the festival for $505 and daily, as well as half-day passes. For a full list, visit www.bermudayogafestival.comThe Fairmont Southampton also has a “Pamper in Paradise Spa Package,” starting at $495 for a three-night minimum stay, which includes daily breakfast, dinner for two at the Waterlot Inn Restaurant, unlimited access to Willow Stream, the spa at the resort, and any 60-minute body treatment per stay. For information, visit www.fairmont.com/southampton-bermudaRosewood Tucker’s Point has a romance package, available April 15-Dec. 31, with three-night minimum stay, starting at $525 a night which includes daily breakfast and a 60-minute couples’ massage. Check it out at www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/tuckers-point-bermuda.Other island offerings include an ultimate spa package at Newstead Belmont Hills Resort, starting at $543.52 a night (including taxes), good for April 16-Oct. 31 and including a 30-minute back or shoulder massage, daily breakfast for two, manicure and pedicure, signature facial, free airport transfers and WiFi. Visit www.newsteadbelmonthills.com for info.The Reefs has a romance package, a five-night package starting at $3,525, available only for April, which gets you a 60-minute massage for two, daily breakfast, afternoon tea and gourmet dinner, and airport transfers. Visit www.thereefs.com for more info. For the underwater crowd, Pompano Beach Club is running a scuba package from April 1-May 17, with rates from $1,589 per person for five nights. Besides the room, the deal gets you three, two-tank dives with Blue Water Divers and free shuttle, free use of weight belts, tanks and weights during dives, and full American breakfast and five-course dinner daily. Check it out at www.pompanobeachclub.comFor all Bermuda info, visit www.gotobermuda.com   [...]



Eat Drink RI showcases Little Rhody food scene

2014-03-31T12:25:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentEat Drink RI Festival, a showcase of Rhode Island’s culinary scene, runs April 24-27, throughout downtown Providence. The event, now in its third year, features a line-up of more than 80 chefs, farmers, bartenders and food producers, including Benjamin Sukle of birch and Champe Speidel of Persimmon, both James Beard Foundation Best Chef northeast semifinalists; eight top culinary instructors from Johnson & Wales University; Gold Medal Cheese award-winning Narragansett Creamery; and others.The events, priced from $65 to $250, include a Rhode Island Chefs’ Feast at Gracie’s, a tasting of food truck fare from 16 of the state’s best, a grand tasting and a grand brunch. Part of the proceeds will benefit the AIDS Project Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s music education programs. For all information, visit www.eatdrinkri.com/festival [...]



Fiji's Laucala Island to offer submersible experience

2014-03-30T15:31:00-05:00

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe CorrespondentLaucala Island, a private island in Fiji, will be the world's first resort to offer a DeepFlight Super Falcon submersible experience starting July 1. It’s a fun and expensive add-on activity, costing $2,000 an hour to rent. The craft, made by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, will allow guests a close-up view of the South Pacific, including the Great White Wall, about 40 minutes from the resort, a vertical wall of soft white coral. Once owned by the Forbes family as a private escape, Laucala was bought in 2002 by Dietrich Mateschitz, CEO of Red Bull, and launched in 2011 as a private resort. The 3,200-acre island is located in the Fijian Pacific archipelago. For more information visit www.laucala.com [...]