Hotels, Resorts, and Spas: The Bucket List

Destination: pampered. Choosing a historic hotel, an expansive resort, or the sensory experience of a spa tells yourself that you deserve beautiful surroundings and top-notch service. Go for it!

The vast basin that is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Soaking in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Steam swirls into fog in this otherworldly basin of chalky blue and black as I attempt to slowly lower myself into the water. It has not been a good week for me. My knee went out a few days before boarding a plane to Iceland, and I've been hobbling Read More

View from Finch Bay Hotel, Galápagos Islands (©photocoen)

Sharing Breakfast with Darwin’s Finches on the Galápagos Islands

I was the only guest left in the dining room. Two Darwin's finches hopped on a chair before zeroing in on a bowl with freshly cut papaya, watermelon and pineapple on the breakfast buffet. When Natalia, one of the cooks, spotted the birds, she Read More

Daytime Christmas scenery at the Opryland (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Spending Christmas at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee

Streams of lights fall like incandescent snowflakes, characters of children’s books and cartoons hang from small-scale hot-air balloons and parachutes. Only Santa can bring more excitement at the Opryland Hotel! You might not deck your halls Read More

Horseback riding at Hacienda Zuleta (©photocoen)

Horseback Riding to Ancient Pyramids at Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador

"If you turn around you will see the entire row of pyramids," Alice said. I pulled lightly on the reins and Esthela immediately reacted, at which I quietly breathed a sigh of relief because truth be said, I was not so sure that she would listen to Read More

Booted Racket Tail Hummingbird (©photocoen)

Watching Hummingbirds at the Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador

Purple-Crowned Fairies, Green-Crowned Wood Nymphs and Violet-Tailed Sylphs were fluttering all around me. Had I just landed in an elf forest? It most certainly felt like it. Surrounded by a towering wilderness of forested mountains with grey clouds Read More

Blue Mountain coffee in bloom.

Getting High in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains

Folks are friendly in the mountains of Jamaica, but in an unpracticed way. They will tell you how to behave and it’s always best to listen for your own sake: They’re almost always right. Then they’ll tell you a funny story. Definitely listen to Read More

Players and caddies ride on a golf cart at Nirwana Bali (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Teeing-off over Rice Paddies at Nirwana Golf Club in Bali, Indonesia

She briefly scouts the fairway and points to my ball, in a narrow ditch along a rice paddy. All eyes are on me as I give it my best shot. When a splash of mud squirts in all directions including mine, I am miffed. Yet, my caddy smiles and my Read More

Photo by Tim Rock/Kosrae Nautilus Resort. Diver inspects one of the many coral heads at Hiroshi Point. Kosrae, Micronesia.

Diving Kosrae, A Hidden Treasure

Okay, you won’t be able to do this in many other places, if any: From arrival of your jet in Kosrae, Micronesia, to scuba dive site: 30 minutes. Customs took 20 seconds and a guy from Kosrae Village Ecolodge (KVR) was waiting for me. We grabbed Read More

The rugged black-sand beach of Rosalie Bay

Tuning into Dominica at Rosalie Bay Eco-Resort

I ended up with a riverside suite at Rosalie Bay boutique eco-resort, rather than a room oceanside. I was immediately glad it worked out that way. The view and chortling of the rocky Rosalie River was soothing and oh-so apropos for the mountainous Read More

Atlantis view from Royal Tower

Indulging Watery Fantasies at Atlantis in the Bahamas

My taxi driver dropped me at the wrong spot, so I ended up tugging my luggage through a mammoth casino with all the blinking glitz of Vegas. Massive sea-suggestive Dale Chihuly glass sculptures and the ka-ching of slots greeted my arrival, then a Read More

Abaco Beach Resort

Being a Kid Bahamian-Style at Abaco Beach Resort

After a crafts session on the beach, the kids headed for the docks to go fishing. It may sound like an ordinary kids program on an ordinary day at a sunny beach resort, but what makes the difference at Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour in the Read More

A Crowd Gathering on the River

On the River at Finca Tatin in Guatemala

We’d left Guatemala City some eight hours prior on a “first class” bus, which entails the extra feature of receiving a bottle of water midway through the ride and action movies dubbed in Spanish. It had been a long trip, with a late taxi, a missed Read More

The lush and elegant back courtyard at Graycliff Hotel.

Experiencing Nassau’s Finest at Graycliff Bahamas

It felt like a sigh of relief: an escape from the theme park hoopla of Atlantis resort and the shopping/boozing throngs just down the hill in downtown Nassau. Graycliff: Its very name strikes respect and appreciation among those who know it. Begun Read More

Yogis Often Host Retreats at the Lodge

Feeling Antigua, Guatemala’s Local Vibe in the Earth Lodge of Aldea El Hato

I first visited Earth Lodge, located in the town of Aldea El hato near Antigua, Guatemala, when the “lodge” itself was a dining room smaller than the one in my childhood home and a fairly dank “movie room” about the size of a walk-in closet. The Read More

Sacred Hawaian wall at Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, Maui

Finding Your Inner Artist at Ritz Carlton’s Annual Arts Festival in Kapalua, Maui

First, there is the chanting, accompanied by shouts and drumming and the sharp slap of a walking staff against the floor. Then a procession of native Hawaiians, dressed in traditional clothing and garlanded with leis of greenery, enters the marble Read More

DUBAI_0705a

Living Large at the Burj al Arab in Dubai

"Ah, not the elevator," my friend said in the lobby of Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel. "We will ride the submarine to the restaurant." And indeed, we did. After entering a small capsule with bucket seats and fastening our seat belts, lights flickered, Read More