There are plenty of words we hear and read that trigger this idea of preservation: going green, eco-friendly, sustainable, recyclable and the list goes on and on. What does it all mean anyway? To be eco-friendly literally means being friendly to the environment, or non-harmful. Some of the ways hotels can be eco-friendly are to practice the conservation of resources like water and energy, practice green living through things like planting herb gardens and composting, and using building materials that are responsibly curated or even recycled and created from something else.
I’m highlighting some fabulous eco-friendly, sustainable hotels and resorts in the US and Canada that are making an impact and helping preserve their beautiful surrounds and beyond. The best part about these hotels is that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and luxury for the sake of the planet; you get both wrapped up in one beautiful green package.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana
Nestled in a valley and in the shadows of a majestic Montana mountain lies The Ranch at Rock Creek. This five-star guest ranch provides the perfect blend of adventure, Wild West adventure, luxury and relaxation. Have you ever wanted to learn how to rope a steer or gallop on horseback through the fields in the shadow of a mountain? Then the Ranch at Rock Creek should be your next destination.
Throughout the day there are staff-led activities for guests to appreciate and learn about the natural surroundings through nature walks, fly fishing experiences, hiking, and even yoga classes in nature. This is the perfect spot for families and groups with varying interests because the Ranch has a little bit of everything.
Heathman Hotel, Portland, Oregon Featured in Conde Nast Traveller 2019 Reader’s Choice Award, The Heathman Hotel is one of Portland’s iconic landmark buildings. They took a stunning building from 1927 and renovated it into a one-of-a-kind hotel. It was a beautiful way to restore and reuse something that was once overlooked and forgotten and turn it into a gem.
Located in downtown Portland, you’ll be across the street from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, within walking distance to the Portland Art Museum and South Park Blocks which hosts the Portland Farmer's Market, and the Willamette River Waterfront. This is the perfect getaway for those looking for an urban oasis, especially if you’re interested in art, culture, and lots of great bars and restaurants in walking distance, including Heathman's own Headwaters fine dining restaurant.
Sonora Resort, British Columbia The Sonora Resort is a luxury wilderness and eco-friendly hotel that is surrounded by the natural beauty of British Columbia. This is unparalleled beauty at its finest. If you want luxury and accessibility to nature, this is it. The resort offers a wide variety of experiences, activities and amenities from spa treatments, canoeing trips, hiking, yoga classes, salmon fishing and even grizzly bear tours.
The resort itself is only accessible by helicopter, seaplane or water taxi, starting off your vacation in quite a memorable way. Whether you go by sky or sea, you’ll see some incredible views you would otherwise not be able to witness in your journey. The resort is truly remote but you’ll never feel like you’ve given up the luxuries you enjoy while on this nature holiday.
Calistoga Ranch, Napa, California Calistoga Ranch is a private canyon retreat that offers complete renewal in nature. Everything is sustained right in the area from fresh garden produce to honey harvested on property. Your accommodation is also sustainable, created from green alternatives for building material, but also hidden perfectly among the groves and trees providing shelter and peace.
The resort, located in Napa, also has a plethora of culinary delights with an exquisite team of chefs creating locally sourced, organic, fresh meals for you every day. You’ll be able to enjoy the meals in rustic elegance alongside an open fireplace and an indoor-outdoor concept living space that unified nature and living in one.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, Utah Styled after a Norwegian-style ski chalet, this outstanding ski-in, ski-out lodge is a perfect spot to land to breathe in the fresh mountain air. Located in Park City, Utah winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding and other family activities. In the summer, enjoy hiking, biking, and rafting. The resort offers a free shuttle to town, or hop on a bike and go. Also popular at the Stein Eriksen is their award-winning spa and sustainable luxury restaurants. Once you check-in, you might never want to leave.
Whether you’re going for a romantic getaway, girls' or guys’ weekend, multi-generational trip or even a business retreat, one of these eco-friendly hotels will be sure to fit your needs. Do one of these seem just right for you? Let me know!
Because of our affiliations with Select Hotels & Resorts, when you book with Vacations Inspired, you will receive exclusive VIP amenties and upgrades that may include, but not limited to, room upgrade, food & beverage credit, early check-in/late checkout, spa treatment credits and other special experiences.
While these hotels and resorts may currently be closed because of Covid-19, we can still dream. #dreamnowtravellater There will be many things that we’ll get back to in our lives and the ability to move around freely and begin traveling again is certainly one of them. When the time is right, reach out for your free travel consultation.
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Tulip fields forever. Well, that might not be exactly how that song goes, but for about two months every year, you can see tulip fields forever across the US and around the world. With their stylish shapes and resplendent flowers in a rainbow of colors, they are a welcome sight for our eyes and soul. Enjoy the drama of the fields along with festival events in the US and beyond.
1. Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
Every March and April, about 30 miles south of Portland, Oregon, The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, stages their rainbow of color, with the height of the season usually around mid-April, depending on the weather. The tulip fields are the main attraction, but visitors can also enjoy plenty of photo opportunities with Mt. Hood in the background, kid’s activities, hot air balloon rides, Wooden Shoe Vineyards wine tasting, a fun run and an Oregon favorite, Red Barn Hemp products.
2. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Held in the Skagit Valley about one hour north of Seattle, Washington, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a countywide Spring celebration of the tulip bloom. The tulip fields, events and activities are scattered throughout the Skagit Valley. In addition to the tulip fields, visitors can enjoy the Anacortes Quilt Walk and Art in the Schoolhouse where paintings, photography, rustic garden art and more are offered for sale. For a more active experience, visitors can also choose to experience the festival sites on a self-guided bike tour.
3. Tulip Time
Tulip Time, the Holland, Michigan festival is regularly listed on the ‘Top 20 events in the world’ by the International Festival and Events Association. This 8-day festival which generally is held the first week of May, provides tulip displays and entertainment with a Dutch flair for all ages including: concerts, food carts, parades, Klompen Dance (clog folk dancing), Town Crier Competition, Art & Craft Fair, Trolley Tours, and activities for kids. You might think about combining a trip to Holland with a trip to Mackinac Island and the area’s lighthouses - which is on my bucket list and a topic for another day.
4. Canadian Tulip Festival
This festival held in Ottawa, Canada in May has its roots in international friendship between the Netherlands and Canada during WWII. In addition to the more than 300,000 tulips in Commissioner's Park in downtown Ottawa, more tulips abound in the Garden Promenade self-guided or escorted tour of Ottawa's many public gardens. This year they also celebrate (virtually) with a formal event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and the end of the WWII.
The world’s most famous tulip garden features over 7 million tulip bulbs and 800 varieties planted on 80 acres! Now that’s a lot of tulips! This picturesque park is located just 16 miles from Amsterdam. Besides the acres of flowers, visitors can enjoy spectacular flower shows, unique art and other tulip themed attractions for all ages. Combine your trip to Amsterdam and Keukenhof with a Tulip Time river cruise on the scenic Netherland waterways, beginning in Amsterdam and stopping at the historic cities of Rotterdam and Arnhem and the World Heritage windmill site of Kinderdijk. And to find out which river cruise line is right for you, just reach out to me. I can help with that.
While the tulip festivals listed are closed for this year because of COVID-19, most of these are offering virtual events through their facebook, instagram pages and youtube. There will be many things that we’ll get back to in our lives and the ability to move around freely and begin traveling again is certainly one of them. When the time is right, reach out for your free travel consultation.
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We’re one month into the New Year and have you had your first trip of the year yet?
I went for the long weekend to Washington, D.C. with my middle daughter to meet my new grandnephew. So cute! Our son came over from NYC. And while we were there we took in some sights. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I would like DC in January. But as it turns out, I really liked it.
To give you a small taste of what you can experience in DC, here's our itinerary.
Day 1 - Fly PDX – DCA Reagan National airport
Day 2 - We took our time getting up and out in the am. (remember there’s a baby in the house and we’re on West Coast time.) We went to the Smithsonian Information center, aka, The Castle. It is where you find out all about the other Smithsonian’s and where you can read and see displays of the history of the Smithsonian Institute and how it started. A good choice for a first stop.
We walked across the Mall to the National Museum of American History. Some might think this is a war museum. But it’s actually a history museum of American culture and life. The Star-Spangled Banner on display here is that flag that flew over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. We also saw Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, first lady gowns and White House china. And… the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. “Holy history, Batman!”
Lastly, we walked over to the National Archives to see the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It was pretty awesome to be able to see these founding documents and read the stories surrounding them. I have it on my calendar to read the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July.
Day 3 - Saturday. Today we woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground. But the life of a tourist continues on and we hopped on the train into town. The Library of Congress was first on our list. What a beautiful building where every little statue and decoration has a meaning and a purpose! We took a guided tour which are offered for free throughout the day.
(Tip: take a tour!)
The building was finished in 1897/98 and came in $200,000 under budget which the contractor returned to the United States Government! When do you ever see something like that happening today?!
Walking past the Capital Building and the Supreme Court building, we couldn’t help but be awestruck by their size. And another thing.. no crowds.. because Saturday....snow...January.. and a federal holiday weekend. (#travelintheoffseason)
Did you know that there are Van Gogh’s, Monet’s and Renoir’s and Picasso’s at the National Gallery of Art? So, we headed there to take a look around.
One last stop this Saturday. By now the snow had melted and it was raining! Really raining. My umbrella flipped inside out! Should we take a taxi? No, we're from Oregon, we'll just walk. So, 4 blocks in the rain we walked to the National Portrait Gallery. In the 20th Century American Gallery we saw the much talked about portrait of Michelle Obama. And marveled at the work of Robert McCurdy’s lifelike painting of author and Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison. Also, on display here are portraits of all of the Presidents of the United States. We liked walking around the room, looking at the portraits, reading their stories and pondering the story behind the portrait.
Day 4 – We’re pretty much museum’d out by now. But there’s still a few more things to see. We went in the morning to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture which just opened in 2016. Normally you get your tickets for this in advance (https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes). Or on the morning you want to enter, you can get on the internet at 6:30 am to snag an available timed entry ticket. One more option to enter on day of is to come at 1:00 and see what the availability is. Veterans, active duty personnel and first responders may enter the museum during any open hours as long as there is capacity and may bring one guest with them for their visit. That’s how we got in as our hosts are members of the military. Even though it was a Sunday morning in the middle of January, it was still crowded. This was the most crowded of all of the museums that we went to.
In this museum, you can learn about the over 400-year "uneven" journey of the African-American from slave trading in the 1600’s to 21st century life.
There is A LOT to see and read here. There are 4 floors. You could easily take one day just exploring each floor. But most visitors probably spend 3 or 4 hours here. And that’s what we did. In this museum on the top floor in the kind of foyer or entry like area, there was a display of African-American preachers. One section highlighted Rev. Howard Thurman who wrote “Jesus and the Disinherited”, which was a founding text for the civil rights movement. It’s on my list to read this year. Ask me about it!
We stepped out into the cold January afternoon, (think east winds here in Portland), and walked to a few monuments before heading back to our host home in Alexandria for a dinner of homemade pasta, a few games of Sleeping Queens, and baby snuggles.
Day 5 - A day of relaxing with family, and more baby snuggles, before our non-stop flight home.
I know most people will spend more than a long weekend in Washington, DC. Most of my clients spend 5 - 7 days. I hope this gives you a taste of what awaits you!
Tips: We actually ended up keeping our schedule pretty much on Pacific time which worked out great for us. (Sometimes when we’ve gone the other way to Hawaii, we’ve kept our schedule on Pacific time as much as possible, too.) Restaurants: There aren't many restaurants in the museum section of town. In the summer season, there are food carts available. But in the off season, either pack a lunch or head to the museum cafes. But check the hours. We just missed closing time at one.
I like being a curious traveler. Do you? If you enjoyed this blog, let me know. And please share it with a friend you think will also enjoy it! If you have any questions about a Washington, DC trip for you or a group, reach out for a free consultation.
Consider a trip to the land of the midnight sun, NORWAY.
How about hoping a plane to Norway? Well, it's not exactly a hop. You'll probably have a stopover or two getting there. Norway has definitely been on 'the list' of places to visit these last few years. People talk about it's incredible scenery and the beautiful fjords, viking museums and the Northern Lights. You can go in winter for the Northern Lights and in the summer if you want to stay up all night! Tromsø is considered to be one of the best places in Norway to see the northern lights. Tromsø is about 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle.
Another way to see Norway is on a Hurtigruten cruise. As a world leader in expedition travel for more than 125 years, Hurtigruten is an expert in navigating Norway's majestic fjords. I must say in travel, we usually don't hear about special offers before they happen, but this year Hurtigruten is having a Black Friday sale of up to 50% off on selected sailings with booking dates of November 27 – December 4, 2019. All expeditions are subject to availability at the time of booking. Other restrictions may apply. Watch this short video and enjoy a peek at the Hurtigruten way of travel.
If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend you think will also enjoy it! If this video intrigues you, and you want to find out more, contact me!
Hello and welcome to the to the ‘Vacations Inspired – From a Traveler’s Perspective’ series. I’m sharing with you what I hope to be the first of many stories of my client’s travels. Another way for you to hear what my client’s say and to be inspired for your future travels.
Neil and Mary have traveled over the years to many of the places you and I dream about going to. This next adventure kept coming on and off their list. How it came to be was that a friend invited them (#traveltip - invite a friend) to come along with them, and the Galapagos Islands was back on. So, they emailed me to book their cruise. And as long as they were going that far, and knowing that Mary wasn’t too fond of flying, I suggested they just continue on down to Machu Picchu while they were half way there.
Mary has been a bird-watcher for over 10 years, so the Galapagos held some allure for them. Between the two of them, they are always on the look out with their binoculars and camera for another “life bird”. A "life bird" is a bird species that a birder has identified and seen in the wild for the very first time in his or her life. Some birders have a specific list, like a bucket list, or it can be any bird that a birder sees for the first time.
Machu Picchu was in the back of their mind because one of their daughters had gone there a few years before and highly recommended it. So off they went.
They sailed the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic & Lindblad Expeditions. Neil says, “If you want to go beyond your normal vacation, do more than return to the same destination or resort or escape from that typical cruise, tackle an expedition to the Galápagos Islands with an extension to Machu Picchu. The expedition provided opportunities to see wildlife up close from a kayak, paddleboard, zodiac, glass-bottom boat or while snorkeling, or simply walking on the beaches or on trails gazing at the Galápagos giant tortoises up-close.”
Expedition cruises have a team of experts on-board perfectly fit for the curious traveler; expert naturalists in all fields, even certified photo-instructor naturalists.
Memories - Galapagos
“Seeing the endemic wildlife of the Galápagos islands including the Galápagos giant Tortoise, Waved albatross, Frigate birds, Darwin’s finches and Marine iguanas and in addition, colorful footed birds as the Red-footed booby and the Blue-footed booby and also the only penguin to live north of the equator is a once in a lifetime treat. Never once did our ship dock at a pier as our standard mode of transportation on and off the islands was a rubber boat called a Zodiac. Whether going a shore was a dry landing or a wet landing the Zodiac was carefully guided by a skilled driver.”
And onto Peru
When Neil and Mary finished their Galapagos cruise, they boarded a plane from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima and then to Cusco, Peru where they were met by a private guide for their trip to their hotel in the Sacred Valley, which included sight-seeing along the way. After a day of relaxing at their hotel and adjusting to the altitude, the next morning their private guide picked them up bright and early for their trip to Machu Picchu by car, train, bus & hiking.
“The tour of Machu Picchu was fantastic. Flying into Peru to tour Machu Picchu finds you in Cuzco and above 11,000 feet. Cuzco was very colorful with Andean women in traditional clothing and llamas seen on the street. Don’t miss the marketplace with everything from souvenirs to food can be found there.”
How many life birds did you see?
“In Galapagos, 22 plus the great blue heron was a different subspecies, and a flamingo in its natural environment, not in the zoo, so that would technically bring the total to 24. Plus, on the rest of the trip (in Peru), I saw 8 more life birds. So, all together, I saw 32 life birds. Wow! I hadn’t counted them all up before.”
Thoughts on Using a Travel Advisor?
“Day tours, private transfers, hotel arrangements by Julie took the worry and trouble out of seeing the beautiful landscape, local people and finding the train and then the bus to see the ancient buildings of Machu Picchu.”
With a camera full (over 2,000 photos) of memories, Neil and Mary were ready to be home with time to rest for whatever travels come next. And I’m happy to help them with their travel planning. Do either of these two trips sound like just what you're looking for?
If you’re interested in a trip to the Galapagos, Machu Picchu or any other amazing place on this beautiful planet, please reach out to me. It’s my pleasure to help Vacations Inspired travelers experience authentic journeys where relationships deepen and cherished memories begin.
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