Spa stays provide healthy options for multigenerational bonding, parent-child getaways or the chance to catch up with adult siblings in a relaxing environment.

Here are five destinations to consider: 

Miraval Resort & Spa. Tucson, AZ.

Gather the clan for a multigenerational spa-centered trip to this desert oasis where yoga and meditation classes are paired with inspiring life balance lectures. Embark on early morning guided hikes into the desert, learn life lessons during an equine immersion and cast off your fears during the Desert Tightrope session. Relax by the pool or in the hot tub before and after spa treatments that might include hot river stones or ginger lime salt scrubs.

For those interested in a glimpse of the future, sessions with psychic Maggie Garbarini are offered monthly.  Healthy, locally sourced meals and a juice bar provide sustenance for your endeavors.

Contact: 800-232-3969; Miraval Life in Balance

Guerlain spa New York Waldorf

Guerlain Spa. Waldorf Astoria. New York.

Retreat from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple into the historic House of Guerlain.  Founded in 1828, Guerlain, a Parisian doctor and chemist, was the first to create scientifically based skincare. Today you can spend a day relishing in personalized services or pop in after a round of sight seeing and before the theatre for one of several treatments designed for busy travelers. A 30 minute rejuvenating Moroccan Oil head massage or body polish is sure to please. (The Waldorf is currently closed for a major renovation) Contact: 212-872-7200; www.waldorfnewyork.com.

Auriga Spa, Capella Pedrigal Resort. Cabo San Lucas, MX.

Check into one of 96 rooms or suites on 24 sundrenched acres. Then tune in to the rhythm of nature with a new series of spa offerings at this stunning 10,000 square foot spa overlooking the sea.  Signature treatments and other spa amenities, including welcome drinks and foot baths, are aligned with the lunar cycle. For example, during the Full Moon, treatments are designed to assist guests in rising to their full potential.

Josephina, a local healer, uses traditional herbs and rituals to maximize the healthy energy within the spa.  Further connect while relaxing at one of several pools, strolling on the beach, participating in cooking classes and dining on fresh seafood at the Cliffside El Farrallon, as waves crash upon the rocks below.

Contact: 877-247- 6688;   http://capellahotels.com   

Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

Check in with a loved one and then check out the innovative treatments and programs ranging from Aerial Hammock Yoga to Grotto waterfall hydrotherapy. With a focus on whole health transformation, nutrition and indigenous ingredients, you can get scrubbed, wrapped, rubbed, purified and acupunctured while learning new tips and strategies for healthier and more energetic living. Later, enjoy dive in movies or fish in one of three onsite lagoons.

Contact: (480) 585-4848; ScottsdalePrincess.com.  

Chaa Creek Spa Family Travel

The Lodge and Spa at Chaa Creek.  San Ignacio, Belize.

Tucked within a 365-acre private rainforest paradise in the picturesque foothills of the Maya Mountains, Chaa Creek and its hilltop spa provide a natural setting to explore indigenous relaxation and healing rituals.  As tropical birds serenade nearby, settle in for mineral rich mud treatments or locally sourced herbal wraps. Don’t miss the onsite Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the medicine trail where you’ll learn more about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies. 

Contact: (877) 709-8708; www.ChaaCreek.com.

Published in Wellness + Spa

 ft chaa creek butterfly

Family-friendly lodges provide an activity-rich haven for the adventuresome clan.

Here are five places you’ll want to visit time and again:

The Lodge at Chaa Creek. Near San Ignacio, Belize. Prince Harry chose this remarkable, riverside eco-lodge as headquarters during his recent visit to the jungles of this Central American country. Tucked within a 365-acre private rainforest paradise in the picturesque foothills of the Maya Mountains, Chaa Creek provides the ideal home base for your family’s exploration of the Cayo District, a region where cave tubing, archeological sites, horseback riding and zip lining will lure you from the comfort of your palm-thatched cottage or tree-top suite. While at the Lodge, don’t miss early morning bird watching tours, the hill-top spa, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the medicine trail where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies. Contact: (877) 709-8708; www.ChaaCreek.com.  

Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA. A top spot for family reunions, this Poconos Mountain resort has been welcoming guests to their 5,500 acre playground since the 1920s. In addition to golf, canoeing, kayaking, biking, naturalist led hikes, rafting and paintball, families can explore the newly opened Tree Top Adventure course. Expect high-energy fun that includes zip lines, suspended bridges, nets, swings and an aerial surf board. Ask about the Camp in the Clouds for kids. Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com

The Lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, CO. No need to leave Fido behind when you travel to this Rocky Mountain getaway 65 miles from Denver. Here, the lodge folks encourage kids to use their “outside voices” because that’s where they will want to spend their time. Whether the junior set is exploring on foot, horseback or mountain bike, there is plenty of country to cover on this 5,000 acre ranch where rustic charm meets luxurious comfort. Grown ups may opt for spa or fly rod time while kids get to know other youngsters in the Cowpoke Camp. The junior set will be engaged with active games, mountaineering and orienteering as well as learning about Native American culture. Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com 

The Whiteface Lodge.  Lake Placid, NY. Relax in luxury amidst the Adirondack wilderness. Here, the Lodge concierge can help you and your clan mix hiking, fly fishing, canoeing, and rock climbing into your family holiday. Splash in the pools, bowl, play platform tennis or enjoy the spa. During the summer months, kids ages three to 14 can tap into a full range of activities provided by the complimentary KAMP KANU. After sunset, a fine dining experience awaits the parents while the youth crew enjoys a pizza dinner as well as themed activities that range from Pirates at Play to Space Night. End the evening roasting marshmallows with your family around the campfire. Contact: (518) 523-0500; www.thewhitefacelodge.com/

The Lodge at Tiburon. Tiburon, CA. Visit this quaint Northern California sailing town for a taste of seaside history. Enjoy magnificent waterfront shopping, galleries, dining and bike paths where your family can cycle in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. A perfect jumping off place for side trips to San Francisco, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Sausalito, and Napa Valley, the California Craftsman-style Lodge offers 103-rooms, complimentary wi-fi, DVD rentals, and fitness center. Bike rentals are also free and your pets are welcome. Contact: 800-762-7770www.lodgeattiburon.com.

Published in Lodges & Inns

Gather your family to wish upon a star.

Here are five extraordinary places to view the night sky:

African Skies.

Check into Little Kulala, a desert eco-retreat within southern Africa’s Kulala Wilderness Reserve. Hop aboard a Land Rover to scope out springbok, ostrich and oryx or float above the dramatic landscape in a hot air balloon.   Visit the world's tallest dunes amid Namibia’s famed “sand sea”. Then fall asleep on your rooftop Sky Bed and enjoy a late night show where shooting stars and the Milky Way serve as headliners. Contact: www.wilderness-safaris.com/safaris/index.jsp; www.TravelBeyond.com.

Winter Star Party. West Summerland Key, FL.  

Every February, during the new moon week, amateur astronomers gather in the Florida Keys for six days to learn from guest speakers, observe an unobstructed clear night sky and share information with other star enthusiasts. Hosted by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS), Inc., the Stellar Star Party also includes a Kids Kamp.  Contact: 1-800-FLA-KEYS; www.fla-keys.com ;www.scas.org.

Arizona Nights.

In 2001, the City of Flagstaff, in Northern Arizona, was designated the world's first "International Dark-Sky City" by the International Dark-Sky Association. Expect stellar stargazing as well as the chance to tour the Lowell Observatory. You’ll see the telescope where planet Pluto was discovered in the 1930's and look through the century-old Clark telescope. Further south, check into the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale where you’ll find high powered telescopes in your room and constellation charts on your pillow at turndown. Opt in for complimentary Friday evening stargazing with a local astronomer or a Celestial Picnic accompanied by a pro.

Contact: www.lowell.edu; www.FlagstaffArizona.com; www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale/

Red Rock Country.

By night, the dark skies of Utah provide ample opportunity for magnificent stargazing. Join astronomer Alex Ludwig atop a mesa to learn about star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. He will explain how Native Americans teach their children about the constellations, lancing the quiet night with stories that will entrance young and old. By day, a slew of parks, canyons and rivers provide outdoor adventure opportunities.

Contact: 435-210-0066; www.moab-astronomy.com; www.discovermoab.com/

Northern Lights From Norway.

Because of an increase in solar flares, NASA is predicting Northern Lights activity will be stronger this winter than any time in the last 50 years. Therefore cruising Norway’s coast high above the Arctic Circle could provide family travelers with the opportunity to experience the aurora borealis in a rare and extraordinary way. In addition to visiting ports that provide a glimpse into winter life in Norway, passengers will also be privy to lectures regarding the Northern lights as well as local culture and history.

Contact: www.VisitNorway.com; www.hurtigruten.com.

Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes - Little Kulala, Namibia 

Published in Explore

 Hotels and resorts are wooing the next generation of spa goers with signature treatments and soothing beauty sessions.

Check out these places where spending time at the spa is a family affair:   

1.Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. Kauai, Hawaii.

Explore the island of Kauai’s famous coastline. Then retreat to the Anara Spa for a family-friendly pampering session amidst lush tropical surroundings. Teens will tune in for pineapple-coconut mani/pedis, plus eye-brow shaping, makeup lessons and a facial, especially designed for their unique skin care needs. Kids of all ages can opt for temporary Polynesian tattoos, Hawaiian princess hair styling (think gorgeous flowers in their hair), flower polishes and island hair braiding. Adults may choose from the spa’s comprehensive menu or create their own sampler package. Choose two or more treatments and save with the Pampered in Paradise package.

Contact: 808-240-6440; www.anaraspa.com

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2. Great Wolf Lodge. Grapevine, TX.

Splash the day away in the resort’s 80,000 square foot water park. Later, youngsters from four to 12 can primp for dinner in the Scooops Kid Spa. They’ll climb aboard the super-sized, banana split pedicure throne for foot massage and the chance to transform their toes with ice-cream-inspired colors. They can also opt for sherbet scrubs and flavored fizz soaks followed by an edible ice cream treat at Bear Paw Sweets & Eats. Birthday party packages are popular.

Contact: 800-693-9653; www.greatwolf.com/grapevine/amenities/scooops.


3. Four Seasons Resort Whistler. Whistler, BC.

Among the first to offer kid-focused spa treatments, this picturesque mountain resort continues to tempt the next generation of spa goers with tasty and sweet smelling options. Dip into hot fudge sundae or strawberry flavored treatments. Junior scrubs and rubs also include Lavender Lullaby Mini Bath Ice Cream, Strawberry Kiwi Shower Sherbet, and Vanilla Purity Body Icing in tandem with an Ice Cream Sandwich Pumice Stone. Ask for treatments using the ME! Bath line of bath and body products forspa time preservative-free and PETA certified ingredients.

Contact: 604-935-3400; www.fourseasons.com/whistler/spa/ 

4. Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, Orlando.

This grand resort, adjacent to Walt Disney World, includes Bonnet Creek's Blue Harmony Spa, offering treatments for junior travelers as well as mom and dad. Designed for teens, the Clear and Pure Facial includes tips from skilled aestheticians on how to create effective home care routines that will enable healthy skin. Teens can tap in to the relaxation provided by the Sapphire Shine Mani/Pedi which includes a scented hand or foot massage, trim, cuticle and buff followed by polish and nail art. Guests six and older will like Fancy Fingers, which includes a scented hand soak and a nail polish.

Contact: 877-999-3223; www.wyndhamgrandorlando.com

5. Hotel 1000. Seattle, WA. The Spaahh , tucked within this Northwestern luxury hotel, is offers Pink Glamour Pedicures, designed for mom and her young daughter or special friend. The grown-up service includes pink Champagne and strawberries. Junior companions can enjoy a specially designed Spaahh Signature “mocktail” with strawberries. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. Also available: the Chocolate Pedicure, during which young spa enthusiasts sample a chocolate treat ( brownies or ice cream ) while enjoying a bubbling chocolate foot scrub and pedicure.

Contact: 877-315-1088; www.hotel1000seattle.com/index.php

Published in Wellness + Spa

Port Aransas, Texas Offers a Reasonably-Priced Beach Vacation during These Economic Times

 


Many families in Texas (and beyond) enjoy vacationing in Port Aransas, as the island on the southeast part of the state offers a truly economical trip for families of any size.

Historically, Port Aransas (referred to as “Port A” by Texans) has been one of the state’s top beach destinations. Not as far south as South Padre, Port Aransas is approximately 4 hours from Austin/ Central Texas so the distance is drive-able for most (which is appealing for many families). The island offers quite a few options for family accommodations. An ideal location to park your family for a visit is at Port Royal, situated out of town on Highway 361.

port royal

Located on the more secluded beach, the walk from condo to beach spot is a quick jaunt over the boardwalk (close enough for a quick bathroom trip while on the beach). Another option I highly recommend is Beachgate, which is located on the busy public access beach. Beachgate III, the most recently-renovated building on property, is the best bet. You have several options, depending on the size you need. You can reserve just one condo, which is 2 bedroom/2 bath, and can sleep up to 8 people (2 king beds, 2 futons and an air mattress). Also, you can reserve two condos on the same floor, which are adjoining, and you have 4 bedrooms/4 baths. This option is ideal for multiple families traveling together or a family reunion. There are 4 floors in Beachgate III (2 condos per floor).

You’ll find a lot of benefits to both locations for a family vacation. You can drive up, park your car, and not get back in until it’s time to leave (a huge plus for us families with young kids!). Both condo properties have fully stocked kitchens and plenty of space to entertain, including spacious dining areas and living rooms. I recommend bringing all your food and drinks and feeding your family in your condo. That way, you have plenty of food, snacks and drinks to take down to the beach with you, as well.


If you’re at Port Royal, it will be a 20-minute roundtrip to the grocery store in Port Aransas. When your troops get tired of the beach, you also have the option of swimming in the two Beachgate pools, which are great for young kids because they are fairly small and shallow. There are also hot tubs next to each pool. My kids enjoyed hanging out on the beach all day and finishing up the evening in the pool. At Port Royal, you’ll find this a perfect spot for off-season, also. We visited in February and, although we could not enjoy the beautiful palm-tree lined pool, we could certainly enjoy the three hot tubs alongside the pool area. Each one is large enough for a family to enjoy.

port royal

Highlights of Port Royal:

1. Quiet section of the beach and very peaceful during off-season.

2. Beautiful pool area with slides, hot tubs and poolside dining (in the summer). 3. Spacious and modern condo unit that could easily sleep a family of six. 4. DSL plug-in Internet access.

Highlights of Beachgate:

1. Easy access to the beach (no boardwalk or dangerous streets to cross with kids)

2. Large renovated condos with full kitchen, dining area, living area and 2 bedrooms with king bed in each. Each bedroom and living room has a flat-screen cable TV. 3. The property offers an array of different sizes and styles of accommodations, from large condos to small suites. 4. For those of us that work while on vacation, there’s high-speed wireless Internet in each condo.

A few important points to consider:

 1. At Port Royal, each condo is individually owned. Therefore, you can’t be sure what type of unit you will end up with unless you’ve been there before and can request a certain unit. Some will be more modern and comfortable than others, depending on the furniture, furnishings and kitchen. They have 1, 2 & 3-bedroom condos.

2. If you like a busy beach, you’ll prefer Beachgate. If you like a more peaceful location on the beach, you’ll prefer Port Royal, which is at marker #68.

3. The exterior is less appealing than the interior at both (I’d always rather have a nicer interior than exterior, if I had to choose). But the condo we were given at Port Royal was beautiful and modern. Beachgate III is nicely renovated.

 4. Don’t forget plenty of sunscreen, buckets and shovels for the beach. You’d rather not have to purchase these items onsite.

My top two suggestions on your family vacation to Port Aransas are: Fins Grill & Icehouse is a relaxed restaurant if you enjoy eating right on the water. The grill has laid-back options such as appetizers, seafood and burgers. You can ask for a table outside that puts you right on the back patio, overlooking the bay. From here, you can watch the boats come and go out of the marina.

During your stay, make sure and rent a golf cart dune buggy from Coastal Ed’s in town. Coastal Ed is a great guy and very helpful. Your kids will love riding the dune buggy on the beach and around town. Coastal Ed’s has open-air carts (versus others that will be more closed) and is gas-powered vs. battery-powered.

You’ll have a great day cruising the beach in your bright yellow ride!

Port Royal Ocean Resort

6317 State Hwy. 361,

Port Aransas, TX 78373

 800-242-1034

www.port-royal.com

Beachgate CondoSuites & Resort

2000 On the Beach Dr., Port Aransas, TX 78373

361-749-5900

www.beachgate.com

Fins Grill & Icehouse

420 W. Cotter, Port Aransas, TX

361-749-8646

www.finsgrillandicehouse.com

Coastal Ed’s Coastal Cruisers & More

513 N. Alister St.,

Port Aransas, TX 78373 361-749-7001

www.PortAGolfCar.com

Marika Flatt has been a freelance travel writer since 2002, writing for publications such as GoodHousekeeping.com, Austin Lifestyle magazine, Austin Woman magazine, ChickVacations.com and Plate & Vine. She lives with her husband and 3 children (who love to travel) in Austin, Texas.

Published in Destinations