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Yoga and Wellness Retreats

   

 

Yes, these retreats really are called Yoga for Bad People

Yes, these retreats really are called Yoga for Bad People

Yoga for Bad People

Praia Do Rosa, Brazil; March 9-16 and 16-23, 2015

This company with the fun name has a unique mission: to lead weeklong wellness retreats around the world that encourage quiet time — and infuse them with physical activity and nightlife. The programs include vinyasa-style classes set to music that ranges from Outkast to Zeppelin, daily meditations, and other activities depending on the location. In Mexico, the retreat is at Playa Loma Bonita Villas where activities include surfing, horseback riding, stand up paddle boarding and nightlife. The Brazil retreats are held at Pousada Casa Do Ceo, where you can also take a samba lesson, hang-glide or go horseback riding. Rates, which include accommodations and all meals in Mexico and most meals in Brazil, start at $1,700 for shared accommodations.

 

Yoga on the deck at Anamaya

Yoga on the deck at Anamaya

Anamaya Resort Yoga & Adventure Retreats

Montezuma, Costa Rica; Ongoing

Taking a deep breath during yoga is more relaxing and healing when you can enjoy the ocean views and warm sea breezes from one of two yoga shalas at Anamaya Resort. You’ll feel even more cleansed as you indulge in gourmet organic food in a toxin-free environment in this remote rainforest setting. When you’re not in the downward dog or warrior pose, wander over to the three-tiered waterfall with natural pools to swim and dive, have a treatment at the spa, take a healthy cooking class, go horseback riding or journey to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches at Montezuma and Santa Teresa. Rates start at $795 for a week in shared accommodations.

 

 

Yoga at the Westin Verasa Napa

Yoga at the Westin Verasa Napa

The Westin Verasa Napa Girls Getaway Weekend

Napa, California; March 5-8, 2014

Wine has long been touted for its health benefits, including helping the heart. So a weekend devoted to wine, women and wellness seems like a natural fit — and what better place to host this perfect girlfriends’ getaway than Napa Valley? The weekend starts off in grand style with a four-course dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant La Toque, with wine pairings featuring wines produced by female winemakers. Get a jump on the day Friday morning, March 6, with a walk or run around downtown Napa with the Westin Verasa Napa’s running concierge or take a yoga class. Later in the day enjoy wine tasting and an evening wine tasting reception. Check out a makeup demo presented by 29 Cosmetics, attend a cleansing workshop, or just enjoy the heated saltwater pool. Room rates start at $159; activities start at $5.

A version of this article appears in the Holiday issue of Travelgirl magazine

2 Florida Favs: Sandpearl and Longboat Key

   
A night view of the pool at Sandpearl Resort. Guests often linger around a firepit on the beach where they can enjoy making S'mores.

A night view of the pool at Sandpearl Resort. Guests often linger around a fire pit on the beach where they can enjoy making S’mores.

Sandpearl Resort is a four-diamond luxury resort in Clearwater Beach with gorgeous wide beaches, a lovely spa and a warm welcome accompanied by a glass of Champagne at check-in.

Guests can enjoy lounging in Adirondack chairs and making S’mores over the fire pit.

Close by is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where we met Winter, whose story inspired the Dolphin Tale movies.

We explored the town of Clearwater on two wheels when we set off on the 7.5-mile Segway Adventure along the boardwalk, over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway.

The relaxation room at the  spa at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, where I enjoyed an excellent massage.

The relaxation room at the spa at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, where I enjoyed an excellent massage.

I hadn’t picked up a tennis racquet since the 20th century, but the pros at The Resort at Longboat Key Club near Sarasota, Florida had me back in the swing of things in no time. Healthy travel is a particular focus at this four-diamond resort, which offers wellness packages that include a nutritional consultation, health-focused meals, spa treatments, and classes outdoors and in the newly renovated Mind & Motion Studio.

Guests can also enjoy exercising while playing any of the 45 holes of championship golf, strolling along the beach, or exploring the many shops and restaurants of charming nearby St. Armands Circle in Sarasota.

Invite Us to the Instagram Party!

   

We’re the kind of people who show up pretty much on time for a party. And even though my husband often says, “Let’s stay just a little while,” we are usually making one last toast with the host and among the last to leave.

When it comes to new social media, however, I’m generally a little late. I kinda kept waiting for this “Twitter” thing to disappear so I wouldn’t have to add yet another method of writing to my increasing portfolio. But I finally caved in, took two young women in my husband’s office to lunch and asked for a tutorial over chicken curry sandwiches.

Travelgirl in new to Instagram. Please follow us!

Travelgirl is new to Instagram. Please follow us!

That’s been a few years now and I love sharing my life and travel trips in less than 140 characters, and am thrilled when I’m retweeted and followed. A major coup was when Taye Diggs followed me. But then I read that he follows close to 50,000 people so I’m not so special after all.

But the comedian Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) did retweet me once and I forever count that as a coup.

Now, it’s time to Instagram. Yes, I know I’m late but I hope I can still join the fun. I’ve been on it a while but not really active. I’ve been the one standing in the corner picking all the cashews out of the nut bowl, while everyone else has been connecting, sharing, filtering, cropping, commenting and having all the fun.

I just started officially handling all the social media for Travelgirl magazine too, and we didn’t even have an Instagram account. We do now but we need more followers.

So I’m asking to jump into the party. Follow us and we’ll follow you back, and let the fun begin!

Instagram @JanSchroder

Twitter @GirlontheGoJan

Instagram and Twitter @Travelgirlmag

Next up? Pinterest, of course! www.pinterest.com/travelgirlmag

 

 

On Top of the World in Montana

   
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My beloved cabin at the Ranch at Rock Creek. My front yard was the bubbling creek while deer roamed through the backyard.

I felt fairly pleased with my success. I had stripped on my pole, and then spent some time nymphing in my rather unusual outfit. Hey, it’s not what you’re thinking — I was standing in the cool, rushing waters of Rock Creek near Philipsburg, Montana, being instructed in my first-ever fly-fishing class. And my outfit? I was rubbered up in waders to keep me warm and dry. Maybe not my best look, but it worked well enough for me to cast my nymphs (wet flies) and catch two cutthroat trout, which I giggled over like a girl and promptly released.

The interior of my cabin, which had a full-size bathroom and a wood-burning stove to keep my warm during the chilly October nights.

The interior of my cabin, which had a full-size bathroom and a wood-burning stove to keep me warm during the chilly October nights.

It was my first time in Montana, and while I didn’t catch the fishing bug, I did fall in love with the all-inclusive Ranch at Rock Creek in Southwestern Montana, the only five-star ranch in the world. The realization of a dream for Jim Manley, the owner who lives in Connecticut and perused more than 500 ranches before purchasing the property in 2007, the ranch is set at the base of the John Long Mountains on 6,600 acres bordering the Deer Lodge National Forest. Read the full post »

Most Affordable Destinations for 2015

   

And the winner is — Dallas!  Priceline released its list of the 15 most affordable cities today, based on the average daily room rate, and this Texas city came in number one with an average daily room rate (ADR) of $86.31. My hometown continues to make the list, with an average daily room rate for Atlanta of $96.99.

Rounding out the list are:

2. Salt Lake City —  $86.31

3. Orlando, FL — $89.57

4. Charlotte, NC — $92.37

5. Phoenix, AZ  — $93.44

6. Tampa, FL —  $94.03

7. Las Vegas, NV — $96.27

8. Atlanta, GA — $96.99

9. Louisville, KY — $101.69

10.  San Antonio, TX — $102.69

11. Houston, TX — $103.72

12. Orange County, CA — $106.69

13. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN — $107.91

14. Denver, CO — $109.20

15. Portland, OR —  $109.30

 

Holiday Spirits

   

UnknownProving once again that alcohol can really be fun and flavorful comes this product from LIQS. This line of premium  cocktail shots are all made with all-natural flavors and come in four flavors:

 

• Tequila Cinnamon Orange

• Vodka Cucumber Lime

• Vodka Kamikaze

• Vodka Lychee Grapefruit

Buy a bundle of four three packs in a gift box for $35.96, perfect for gift giving. Oh, and Santa? You can add them to my list.

 

Cyber Monday Deals

   
The Westin Playa Bonita Panama is just one of the many properties offering great deals on Cyber Monday. Get a room here at 75% off, starting at just $55 a night.

The Westin Playa Bonita Panama is just one of the many properties offering great deals on Cyber Monday. Get a room here at 75% off, starting at just $55 a night.

Forget about returning to work after the holiday — it’s Cyber Monday and time to shop for travel.

Here are just a few sites where you can find deals. Also, be sure and check with your favorite destinations to see if they have any special offers today.

• Save up to 75% on deals in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico/Latin America and Europe; www.cybertraveldeals.com

New York Palace, The “50% off at 50th and Madison” package at The New York Palace offers 50% off Towers Corner Suites, the 1200-square-foot suites located in the property’s hotel-within-a-hotel for travel from January 1 to March 31. http://bit.ly/1rglT9n

Seaside Amelia Inn, Save up to 40% off. www.seasideameliainn.com

Onboard.com, Save on cruises on several lines, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Cunard, Carnival and Holland America; promo.onboard.com/black-friday

•  Biras Creek Resort on the British Virgin Islands,  is offering a special Cyber Monday discount valid for travel in Dec. 2014 and Jan. 2015 excluding Dec. 23rd to Jan. 3rd. Book 5 nights in a Garden Suite and receive your 6th and 7th nights, plus meals free. Book   between Dec. 1st and Dec. 5th.  www.biras.com

•  CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa in Mexico:  stay April 15 through June 30, 2015 for $70/night – a 50% savings with 3-night minimum. www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pvrmx-casamagna-marriott-puerto-vallarta-resort-and-spa/

Sandos Hotels & Resorts, discounts of up to 47% off Sandos Hotels in Mexico. Valid for travel from January 4th until April 11th 2015; www.sandos.com

Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts, minimum of 10% off daily room rates for properties including Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island, The Westin St. John Resort and St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico for stays until February 1, 2015 at hotels and April 15, 2015 at resorts.

If you miss Cyber Monday, here’s a deal for Wednesday:

• Save 50% off stays at Howard Johnson with its Orange Wednesday promotion; www.hojo.com/orangewednesday

 

Get Toasty Toes!

   

The rest of me may be shivering as winter arrives but my feet will remain so warm with these Heat Holders, thermal socks touted to keep your feet seven times warmer than cotton socks.

Something about the way they are knit with thermal pile makes these socks hold the warm air closer to your skin. Previously only available in the UK, we now can buy them stateside in a variety of colors and styles for men, women and children. Prices start at $16. www.heatholders.com

Life in the Banff Lane

   

Where I am from, we do not walk on water, so driving on it is a foreign concept, as we did at the Columbia Icefield. The guide did not have to remind me to stay within the confines of the cones.

I once watched footage of scuba divers who finned their way a mile into an underwater cave through some openings so narrow they had to take off their tanks to squeeze through them. I about hyperventilated myself right off my family room couch.

I am no adrenaline junkie. Avoiding road-ragers on the highways in Atlanta, trying to outbid opponents on eBay auctions and meeting multiple deadlines every week provide all the heartbeat-raising excitement I need.

So you won’t find me hanging by my fingernails from a cliff in Yosemite. But when I venture to a new destination, I seek the opportunity to test the confines of my comfort zone, which fall somewhere between that of wing suited free fallers and comedian Larry David, who declares his is a ½” wide.

A view of the trail ahead of me while riding Little Boy. To the left is a steep drop-off down to Lake Louise, just one of the amazing views during our four-hour ride.

During a trip to Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada in late summer, those opportunities came from riding in a monster truck on an icefield, getting too-close-for-comfort to a grizzly bear, blowing in the wind in a helicopter over towering cliffs and conquering a childhood fear.

One of the most foreign adventures for me was the Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience. Ice in my native South is generally in the form of cubes, tossed in frosty glasses of achingly sweet iced tea, carefully spooned into a cocktail, or shoveled into large coolers of beer or freshly caught shrimp from warm coastal waters. As for walking on it – I’m from the Bible Belt, where only Jesus does that.

Taking a break during our hike around Moraine Lake, prior to the grizzly bear sighting. The water really is that beautiful shade of deep turquoise.

Taking a break during our hike around Moraine Lake, prior to the grizzly bear sighting. The water really is that beautiful shade of deep turquoise.

We arrived on the Icefield and the guide let us out, free to roam as we wished within the confines of the orange cones, plastic neon-colored manifestations of our collective comfort zone where we were safe from falling into the crevasses that form as the ice shifts.

I took a deep breath of the frigid air, admiring the beauty of the vast expanse of ice surrounded by partially snow-capped peaks, confident I could now get through an entire episode of “Ice Road Truckers” without a panic attack. I marveled that there was enough ice within sight to fill the drinks at tailgate parties for the SEC and ACC football conferences for decades.

My next opportunity to go beyond my comfort zone came during a hike from Moraine Lake up to Eiffel Lake in Banff National Park when another group of hikers warned us that a grizzly bear had been sighted on the path just ahead of us. Our guide, Joel, felt fairly confident it was the friendly-to-people Bear #72, but as one member of our group helpfully pointed out, “Yeah, but sometimes people’s own dogs turn on them and eat their faces off.”

While there was a part of me that longed for that envy-inspiring selfie with a grizzly, I wasn’t too upset that Joel decided we should turn around and leave Bear #72 alone. Or to chew the faces off of other hikers. The limits of my comfort zone ended several feet from the reach of her giant paws.

Back-seat view from our helicopter ride with Kefield Helicopter tours.

Back-seat view from our helicopter ride with Kefield Helicopter tours.

My next animal encounter was with a domesticated species. I’ve always been a little scared of horses and the last time I’d been on one I was wearing stirrup pants, Farrah Fawcett waved hair and humming “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”

Expecting a few words of encouragement, or at least some instruction, I told our guide, Kevin, that I hadn’t ridden a horse since the 1980s. He grinned at me beneath the brim of his cowboy hat. “Horses hadn’t changed,” he said briskly.

Left to my own devices, I thought back on any riding lessons I could derive from episodes of “Bonanza.” But I got distracted thinking how suspicious it was that all three of Ben Cartwright’s wives had died and there wasn’t a woman within miles of the Ponderosa.

But my horse, Little Boy, knew what to do. Our small group set out slowly, walking single file through the wooded, sloped and rocky terrain, and I settled more comfortably in the saddle with each sure step he took between large rocks, up and down steep inclines. I realized although I was outside my comfort zone, he was firmly within the confines of his.

After our four-hour ride through the towering pines down to the banks of the impossibly turquoise-colored Lake Louise, I dismounted and congratulated myself that while I’ll never be hanging a pair of chaps in my closet, I had overcome a childhood fear.

After a windy ride up there, our helicopter landed on the side of a cliff.

After a windy ride up there, our helicopter landed on the side of a cliff.

It was Mother Nature that tossed me out of my comfort zone during our helicopter ride with Icefield Heli Tours. We were delayed due to high winds that had the windsock on the airfield at a constantly erect position. When we finally took off, the strong winds blew us about and I felt like a bee being swatted by an extremely pissed-off bear. I considered my fellow passengers and wondered if we crashed into the forest not to be found for months, which one of us would be eaten first.

Fortunately, we soon landed in a small grassy flat area at the top of a peak and joined the others in our group. They had arrived before us in separate copters and were huddled against the chilly winds just a few feet from the cliff’s edge.

A toast to Life in the Banff Lane

A toast to Life in the Banff Lane

I went to the edge of that cliff and peering below, marveled at free fallers whose idea of fun was to don a funny-looking suit and throw themselves off a cliff, fearlessly defying the forces of gravity. For me, just standing a pebble’s toss from the cliff’s edge to have my photo taken was thrill enough. I cherish that photo, with a view of the jagged mountain peaks and the clear blue lake far below, and gave it this caption:  “The View From Outside My Comfort Zone.”

This article appears in the Fall issue of Travelgirl magazine

Stand Tall in UpCouture

   
These T-shirts from UpCouture encourage good posture. You won't need reminding to sit or stand up straight.

These T-shirts from UpCouture encourage good posture. You won’t need reminding to sit or stand up straight.

I call it the T-shirt that does what my mother never could – make me stand up straight. We all know we shouldn’t slouch — we need to hold our shoulders back and sit up tall, right? Well, now there’s a clothing line designed to make sure you do just that.

UpCouture has a line of T-shirts for men and women that have hidden bands that actually hold your shoulders back and encourages that excellent posture we should all have.

Made in France of organic cotton, the Up T-shirt is really comfortable, and yes, did make me sit and stand up straight. The shirts come in a variety of styles and colors. Prices run from $145 to $170.