Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween from Damariscotta, Maine

Last week, I decided to take a day off and drive to Damariscotta to have lunch with my dear friend, Jane.  It should have only been an hour's drive from my home to Damariscotta, but it is also peak foliage season here in midcoast Maine.  It was a perfect, crisp autumn day and a gorgeous drive through Camden, Rockport and Thomaston.  I remembered that just the prior weekend was the famous Damariscotta Pumpkin Regatta and had watched clips from it on the local news.  Until I made my way down the main street of town that day, I frankly had no idea how very celebrated pumpkins really are in Damariscotta!!  I quickly realized that I was seeing these massive hand-painted gourds at every street corner I passed.  Armed with my camera, as I am on most days, I started to photograph each pumpkin I encountered.

"Ladybug"



"Hot Lips"

Trick or Treat
Jane and I soon became obsessed with walking all over town to photograph every pumpkin we saw.  It took a while before I started wondering exactly how the pumpkins reached their current resting places.  That is a challenge, I am sure.  These are not just ordinary pumpkins.  They weigh hundreds of pounds.  It seems that every corner we turned, there was another "work of art".
"The Coach"
I truly believe the best time of year to explore the coast of Maine is during the month of October for many reasons.  October is a time when most of the beloved tourists have returned to their respective hometowns and children are back in school.  Most important, the weather is still beautiful and the trees are turning color and displaying spectacular reds, oranges and yellows.  The "leaf peepers" are out in full force.  Roaming around Damariscotta on this particular day gave me the opportunity to truly "feel" the personality of the town that I had previously visited so many times before when it was swollen with summertime activities and people.  I began to appreciate the incredible character of a community that could celebrate the almighty pumpkin is so many unique ways and decorate its town with such whimsy.
"Medusa"
Sailing the Deep Blue Sea
Keeping Watch
I am sure we may have missed a few pumpkins that were tucked away in secret places, but now that I have experienced the display firsthand, I will be sure to return next year to enjoy the festivities to the fullest!  We definitely worked up an appetite and then headed to King Eider's Pub for lunch.  You will not find a better crab cake anywhere.  http://www.kingeiderspub.com/
Pumpkin Posies
Upon returning home, I was curious as to the exact date of the Pumpkinfest and Regatta which I regretfully had missed.  I should have realized that this precious little Maine town with such great spirit had long ago created its own website for this very special week of festivities.   http://www.damariscottapumpkinfest.com/  Here you will find absolutely every possible detail regarding this magical week-long event with videos of the pumpkin carving and painting, pumpkin chunking and the big pumpkin drop.  Most important of all, the site gives an exhaustive calendar of events beginning with what is called the "weigh-off" and includes days of pumpkin boat building, a pumpkin dessert contest, a pumpkin parade culminating in the famous Pumpkin Boat Regatta.  If you find yourself in midcoast Maine next October, this is most definitely a town and a celebration not to be missed.

"Mermaid"




Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exploring the Grand Canyon & Southern Utah National Parks in Style

One of my all-time favorite family trips with my kids was visiting the Grand Canyon and the southern Utah National Parks.  Naturally, if you are traveling with young children, or even teenagers, you probably will stay in hotels similar to the ones we stayed in.  However, last week I had the privilege of booking two of my favorite retired clients whom experienced this part of the world in true style.
Grand Canyon from Yavapai Observation Station
Planning a trip to visit the Grand Canyon for the first time can be daunting.  Please allow me to take some of the mystery out of it for you and give you some very basic tips to make it easier to plan.  Basically, there are three main areas of the Grand Canyon to visit:  The South Rim (most popular), the North Rim and the West Rim.  The Canyon's website is very helpful and full of important information differentiating the areas.
http://www.grandcanyon.com/

THE SOUTH RIM:

Highway 64, also known as Desert View Drive, follows along the Canyon rim for 26 miles spanning from Grand Canyon Village to Desert View which is the east entrance to the Park.  One very important point to make here is that the Desert View Drive is open throughout the year, unlike other roads within the park.  If you would like to follow the South Rim to the west to Hermits Rest, then you will probably have to use one of the Park's free shuttles since Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles most of the year.
Lookout Studio on the Edge of the Canyon at the South Rim
If you are an avid hiker, then you may want to hike the Rim Trail.  This trail will lead you from the Pipe Creek Vista to  Hermits Rest.  There are many unpaved sections of the trail that are narrow and close to the edge.  Bicycles are not allowed on the Rim Trail.  A real highlight is visiting the Yavapai Observation Station at Yavapai Point.  Here you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of the Canyon, the Colorado River as well as the famous Phantom Ranch.
Yavapai Observation Station at the South Rim
THE NORTH RIM:

There are three major areas of the North Rim, however, all are not open and accessible year round.  It is imperative that you check road conditions and check for road closures before planning a visit to the North Rim.  "Point Imperial" is the highest point on the North Rim being at 8,803 feet above sea level.  "Cape Royal" offers views to the east and west and is most well-known for its breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.  The third viewpoint is called "Point Sublime" and is the western-most point of the North Rim.  Beware, a four-wheel drive vehicle is required to reach "Point Sublime".
View of the Canyon from Pima Point on the West Rim Drive
THE WEST RIM:

This area, 4,000 feet above sea level, is open year round and is a Native American Tribal Park which is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Nation.  In 2007, the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk was opened here.  The most popular time to visit is in early spring and late fall.  There is no lodging offered at the West Rim.
View up the Colorado River from Toroweap Overlook
Since my family and I only visited the South Rim and my clients just returned from there, I am focused on that area.  In my opinion, the best place to stay at the South Rim is at the El Tovar Hotel.  It is a registered National Historic Landmark that was built in 1905.  I cannot stress strongly enough that you MUST book this hotel way in advance.  El Tovar is literally steps from the edge of the South Rim and offers 66 rooms and 12 suites.  Internet access is not available here.
El Tovar Hotel Entrance at the South Rim
All Photos of Grand Canyon Courtesy of National Park Service
After spending a couple nights at the El Tovar on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I then booked my clients for their next two nights at the Red Mountain Resort & Spa in St. George, Utah.
Entrance to the Red Mountain Spa
http://www.redmountainspa.com/
At this unique property, you may choose from one of their many types of guest rooms including a Deluxe King, Deluxe Double Queen, Mountain View King or a Mountain View Double Queen.  Another option is to book one of their "villas" which offer both one- and two-bedroom suites accommodating anywhere from one to six guests.  The Red Mountain Spa is aptly named since it is surrounded by the indescribable beauty of red rocks.  This resort offers 82 rooms and 24 villa suites.
Deluxe Double Queen Room at Red Mountain Spa


Overview Red Mountain Spa
Photos Courtesy of Red Mountain Spa
 "Sagestone" is the Resort's spa and salon and has been rated one of the top spas in the country by "Spa Finder Magazine".  In this area, you can also enjoy mountain biking, hiking or golfing while staying at the Red Mountain Spa.  One of my most memorable times in this area is when we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.  Bryce Canyon National Park, in particular, offers some of the most interesting and beautiful rock formations I have ever seen!!!!  Don't forget your camera.  This is a real treat that you will never forget.

Bryce Canyon National Park
http://www.nps.gov/brca

The Temples & Towers of the Virgin, Zion National Park
http://www.nps.gov/zion
As well as dining at the resort, my clients made a point of telling me about a "wonderful" restaurant they discovered in St. George called "The Painted Pony".  http://painted-pony.com/  Following their two-night stay in St. George, my clients then headed to the desert to spend a couple nights at Amangiri. 

Amangiri is only the second Aman resort to open in the U.S.  (See previous blog entry on Amangani)
http://amanresorts.com/amangiri

Outdoor Pool at Amangiri
Set in the desert of Utah, Amangiri opened in October of 2009 and is situated on 600 acres in Canyon Point in Southern Utah.  It is very close to the Arizona border and is only a 15-minute drive to Lake Powell with the closest town being Page, Arizona.  My family and I have driven all over this area and it is a real treat to drive through Monument Valley.  The sandstone rock formations are quite unique and this area is also home to the Navajo Tribal Nation. http://www.utah.com/monumentvalley

Amangiri Pool at Dusk
As is the case with Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Amangiri was designed to "blend" into the landscape.  The hotel was designed with a central pavilion with two "wings" containing 16 suites in the Desert Wing and 18 more suites in the Mesa Wing.  The Mesa Wing is also home to the Aman Spa.  The central pavilion contains the Gallery, the Library, the Living Room, the Dining Room as well as the Private Dining Room and Cellar.  Wireless internet is available in each suite and in all public areas.

Amangiri Desert View Suite
From my standpoint, following is the type of feedback that makes my job worth it.  Directly quoting my clients, "Amangiri was fabulous.  They have done a wonderful job of creating a "one of a kind" experience.  The architecture and setting are uniquely stunning.  Our room was beautiful.  We especially loved an outstanding horseback ride in the desert.  The Spa was great.  We felt that our treatment throughout was very special."

Amangiri Desert View Suite Lounge
All Amangiri Photos Courtesy of Amanresorts International
The third and final property my clients booked was the Sorrel River Ranch in Moab, Utah.  Having spent much time myself in Moab, I can attest to the natural beauty of this area as well.  I vividly remember taking a scenic drive which led us down a winding road along the Colorado River.  As we rounded one of the many curves, there in front of us was the Sorrel River Ranch.  http://sorrelriver.com/ 

Aerial View of Moab, Utah
The setting is stunning being situated on the Colorado River with red rocks shooting high into the sky.  Sorrel River Ranch is comprised of a main lodge which contains a gourmet restaurant, more casual dining in their riverside patio and a full-service health spa.  They also offer tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool riverside as well as an equestrian center and fitness center.

Sorrel River Ranch offers many different room types and suites ranging in size from 400 to 1,000 square feet.  Their suites offer hydrotherapy bathtubs with river and mountain views.  All of their rooms have private decks, microwave and refrigerator, coffee maker, air conditioning and heating, hair dryers, bathrobes and wireless internet.  A few of their suites offer fireplaces and oversized glass showers with a balcony overlooking the Colorado River.  I am happy to tell you that Sorrel River Ranch is now dog friendly, but there is limited availability of rooms that allow dogs, so they recommend that you call ahead to check on that.

Sorrel River Ranch is Dog Friendly!!!  WOOF!!!
The River View Deluxe Suites have a private deck which overlooks the River along with a spacious living area, oversized glass shower and a claw-foot hydrotherapy bathtub.  These suites are available with either one king or two queen beds.  The River View Spa Suites offer both river and mountain views and are located on the second floor with a large balcony overlooking the river as well.  Additionally, Sorrel River Ranch offers what are called River View Family Suites.  These are two-story suites with a separate sleeping area upstairs with two queen beds.  There is a king bed downstairs along with a dining area and sitting area.  This Suite has a private deck with river views.

River View Suite at Sorrel River Ranch
While staying at Sorrel River Ranch, you may choose to simply relax and enjoy the solitude of your surroundings or take advantage of their Spa.  They offer quite a wide range of spa treatments and services.  They highly recommend booking treatments at least two to three weeks in advance.  If you would like to be more active, they can certainly arrange any activity you desire from river rafting, mountain biking or horseback rides to Hummer tours.

Fisher Towers and the Mighty Colorado River
All Sorrel River Photos Courtesy of Sorrel River Ranch
An added bonus at the Sorrel River Ranch is their restaurant, the River Grill.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Please note that the restaurant is closed for lunch during the winter season, however, they will gladly make a "to go" lunch for you year round.  They offer a diverse menu which includes fresh seafood, pasta and wild game along with various vegetarian dishes.  My clients told me they dined in the River Grill both nights and thought the food was very good!

Another personal recommendation I would make while staying in this area is to visit Arches National Park.  http://www.nps.gov/arch

Arches National Park

The Famous "Delicate Arch"
Arches Photos Courtesy of National Park Service
The town of Moab is very sweet and has many little quaint shops and galleries to visit not to mention eateries of all kinds.  It is probably a 20-25 minute drive from Sorrel River Ranch into the town of Moab and is definitely worth a visit.  http://www.moab.net/

Sunset over Moab
 


Friday, October 15, 2010

The Woodstock Inn & Resort, One of Vermont's Finest


 For those of you whom have never visited this picture-perfect New England town, this is a treat for you!!  Welcome to Woodstock, Vermont.  I will never forget the very first time I was introduced to Woodstock.  I was in college and my boyfriend and I were simply driving through New Hampshire and Vermont on a spontaneous camping trip.  I vividly remember driving through this precious town in awe of their pristine village with meticulously maintained period homes.  I had never before seen such a "perfect" town.  One end of the main street is bracketed by the Village Green and St. James Episcopal Church.  There is no way on that particular day in 1975 that I could have known that my future husband, son and I (then pregnant with our daughter) would one day buy a house there and have our daughter baptized at St. James more than 15 years later!  http://www.woodstock.com/


George Perkins Marsh
 
 Woodstock, among other things, was the birthplace of noted environmentalist, George Perkins Marsh.  http://www.clarku.edu/departments/marsh/about  This lovely Vermont town was also home to Frederick Billings whose granddaughter, Mary French, would one day marry Laurance S. Rockefeller.  Rockefeller's contributions to historic preservation and conservation are epic.  In 1968, Laurance and Mary Rockefeller created The Woodstock Foundation.  Educational programs were established as well as museum exhibits at the Billings Farm in Woodstock which was converted in 1983 for public use.  http://www.billingsfarm.org/  Later in 1992, the Rockefellers donated the adjoining 555 acres and their private home to the National Park Service.

Billings Farm & Museum

In 1969, Mr. Rockefeller rebuilt and reopened the Woodstock Inn only to be enlarged in 1983.  He later bequeathed the famous Inn to The Woodstock Foundation to ensure that it will remain the important structure and focal point of the community while providing an exceptional haven for visitors to Woodstock.  The Woodstock Inn & Resort, http://www.woodstockinn.com/  offers 142 newly renovated rooms and suites.  Several room types are available depending on your needs.  Every room is equipped with complimentary high speed internet service, flat panel televisions, Ipod docking stations, pillow-top mattresses, down comforters and 600 thread count cotton sheets.  The most luxurious rooms are situated in the Tavern Wing, many of which feature wood-burning fireplaces.  You may also choose to book what is known as a "Porch Room" in the Tavern Wing which offers a private enclosed porch overlooking a courtyard.  Additionally, the Resort offers 4 types of suites:  Mini Suite, Main Inn Suite, Tavern Suite and Executive Suite.

The Woodstock Inn & Resort

As with many luxury hotels, the Woodstock Inn also offers many services to make your stay as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.  They provide complimentary access to their Racquet and Fitness Center, valet parking as well as complimentary on-site parking, in-room massage by appointment and babysitting services by appointment.  Guests have several dining options.  Richardson's Tavern offers a more casual atmosphere for a lighter meal or you may dine more formally in the Main Dining Room.  An outdoor luncheon can be enjoyed at the Fairway Grille at the golf course.  The Inn's newest restaurant is The Red Rooster in which lunch and dinner are both served.  Here you can select from an elegant menu including a Smoked Salmon sandwich to Oysters Rockefeller for dinner. 

Woodstock Inn & Resort Main Wing Guestroom

One of the most exciting developments at the Woodstock Inn is the very recently-opened (last month) Spa.  A range of treatments is offered for guests which include various types of massage, facials and manicures and pedicures all incorporating organic products.  The Spa menu is offered to accommodate men, women and teens.  Make up and hair services are also offered.

Entrance to the Woodstock Inn & Resort Spa

Woodstock Inn & Resort Spa Great Room

As mentioned in a previous post, (See Twin Farms in Barnard, Vermont) there are many, many local and area attractions to keep you engaged which will give you a true flavor and feel for this quintessential New England region.  If it is physical exercise you seek, be assured this is the area for you.  Biking is very popular and is promoted by scenic bike paths that take you through the neighboring villages.  Horseback riding is huge in this area.  Kedron Valley Stables offers trail riding tours and they also have an indoor arena.  Call 800-225-6301 for more information.  With the Connecticut River nearby as well as Silver Lake State Park in Barnard, Vermont, you can also kayak or canoe for the day.  For you fly fishermen, you can purchase your fishing license at Gillingham's Store in the center of Woodstock.

F. H. Gillingham & Sons

If you would like to be a little less physical and more cerebral, then you may want to visit Billings Farm & Museum mentioned earlier to see how a real working dairy farm operates.  Admission to the Farm is complimentary for guests staying at the Woodstock Inn & Resort.   If you would like to learn more about the history of Woodstock, visiting the Woodstock Historical Society is a must.   A must for most kids as well as adults is a visit to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Center, commonly known as VINS.  http://www.vinsweb.org/  If shopping and antiquing is your thing, you will be in heaven.  Woodstock is home to one of the most authentic general stores I have ever visited-F. H. Gillingham & Sons right in the center of town.  Definitely worth a visit.  http://www.gillinghams.com/  The village of Woodstock has many very interesting boutiques, not to mention their fabulous antiques shops.  A real treat is to drive to the neighboring town called Quechee and visit the Simon Pearce Glass Blowing studio.  Plan to stay for lunch as well.  This is a treat you will never forget.  http://www.simonpearce.com/

Having lived in this area for a decade, I would strongly encourage you to visit either in the summer, fall or winter months.  March and April are commonly known as "Mud Season" in Vermont.  You can draw your own conclusions.  Whenever you visit, you are sure to be as enamoured as I was the first time I experienced this magical place. 


All photos of the Woodstock Inn & Resort are courtesy of the Woodstock Inn & Resort.  All other photos are courtesy of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend Getaway to San Juan

Ritz-Carlton San Juan Pool
You will often hear me say how very blessed I am with very loyal clients, some of which have been doing business with me since the beginning of my career.  I truly believe what keeps me doing this kind of work day after day is the incredible relationships I have built with some of them over the years.  I have celebrated births, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and personal triumphs with many of them.  Sadly, I have also mourned with them in death, divorce and tragedy.  For whatever reason(s), a number of my clients are senior citizens whom have had the good fortune to live long and lucrative lives and now choose to enjoy their prosperity.  As a result, they have the time and inclination to plan trips all over the world which makes my job even more enjoyable!!

Last week, two such clients contacted me to plan a Columbus Day Weekend trip.  They wanted a "simple" one-flight-only getaway out of New York for three days.  Easy.  Destination-San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Resort-the Ritz-Carlton San Juan.  This would entail direct non-stop flights from Newark to San Juan with a five-minute taxi ride from the San Juan Airport to the Ritz-Carlton.  They had actually made this trip before a few years ago and remembered how hassle-free it was and decided to do it again.  I even requested the very same Corner Balcony Oceanfront Room for them that they had the last time they stayed there, Room 854.  They called me this afternoon to let me know what a lovely weekend they had and stressed again what a very nice property the Ritz-Carlton San Juan is.  They are particularly discerning travelers and always give me constructive criticism when necessary.  This time, they were so happy that they are now thinking about bringing their children and grandchildren there.  Let me introduce you to the Ritz-Carlton San Juan.  http://www.ritzcarlton.com/sanjuan

Lobby Lounge Ritz-Carlton San Juan
As you know, San Juan is Puerto Rico's capital and largest city.  This time of year, the temperature is comfortably in the 80's.  This Ritz-Carlton is a beachfront property situated on eight acres in Isla Verde.  The Hotel offers 416 guestrooms which include the Club Level, one Ritz-Carlton Suite, five one bedroom Executive Suites and four Garden Suites.  They have no shortage of restaurants in which to dine since there are five on the property.  An added bonus is their 12,000 square foot Spa that has 11 treatment rooms.  Guests may also enjoy a 24-hour casino.  All guestrooms have flat-panel LCD televisions, 400 thread count Frette linens, goose down and non-allergenic foam pillows, fully stocked mini bar and high speed wireless internet access.  As with most Ritz-Carlton properties, guests can enjoy 24-hour room service, concierge services and 24-hour valet parking.

Club Level Lounge Ritz-Carlton San Juan
The majority of rooms at this hotel are 400 square feet ranging from a Club Room to a Balcony Oceanfront Room.  I strongly recommend the Balcony Oceanfront Room which is what my clients have booked now twice.  They specifically requested a corner room which provides more windows and they faced the Atlantic Ocean.  Should you need more room, the Club Executive Suite and Executive Suites are 900 square feet and the Garden Suites are 1200 square feet.  The Garden Suites are located on the first floor and are situated either on the garden side or the pool side.

Balcony Ocean View Room

Suite Living Room
As I mentioned, this hotel houses five restaurants for you to choose from.  The "BLT Steak" is fashioned after the classic American steakhouse and offers fresh seafood as well as delicious meat dishes.  "Il Mulino New York" is another of their restaurants offering Italian cuisine from Italy's Abruzzi region.  "Mares" offers a more casual atmosphere with an outdoor terrace overlooking the gardens.  Should you simply want a salad or a sandwich for lunch, then the "Ocean Bar & Grill" would be perfect.  This is casual and beachfront with direct access to the ocean and the pool.  Lastly, the "Lobby Lounge" allows you to order lighter foods and cocktails and offers live entertainment Thursday through Sunday.


The Ocean Bar & Grill
All Photos Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Hotels
 The Ritz-Carlton San Juan is definitely a family-oriented resort.   They have an established children's program called the "Ritz Kids" program for children ages 5 through 12.  It offers supervised physical activities as well as creative activities.  You can opt to have your child participate in a full or a half day program.

In theory, you frankly would never have to leave the property with so many options for activities at your fingertips.  You can spend the day on the beach, play tennis on one of their courts, laze around the pool or partake in one of their daily fitness classes in yoga, pilates or water aerobics.  Perhaps you would like to spend some time in the casino at one of more than 380 slot machines or try your hand at Blackjack, Roulette or Poker.  The casino is open 24 hours a day.  I can tell you that I would be spending my time in their Spa enjoying one of their steam rooms or sauna.  Whatever your reason for travel, business or pleasure, this property is easily accessible, offers fabulous dining options, many ways to relax and unwind and a very short ride from the airport.  I strongly recommend it.
 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New TSA Requirements for Air Travel

Although this post will not contain any of my usual "eye candy", this is something that all of you should be aware of.  From now on, when purchasing an airline ticket, whether it be for domestic or international travel, you are required to provide your full name as it appears on your government-issued ID as well as your date of birth and gender.  These requirements fall under the Transportation Security Administration's new program called "Secure Flight Program".  This Program is designed to enhance the security of commercial air travel.  Each airline will collect this information and compare it to their already-established "watch list", thus preventing those people on a "No Fly List" from boarding any aircraft.  The Secure Flight Program was created by the Department of Homeland Security as a direct result of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  http://www.tsa.gov/

IF you are one of those unfortunate people whom has been misidentified in the past and has ended up on a watch list, no doubt, you have been issued what is called a "redress number" by the Department of Homeland Security.  That number must also be provided when making any airline reservations.  Naturally, there may be small differences between the passenger's ID and the boarding pass generated as a result of the reservation initially made, i.e. middle initial versus full middle name or hyphens used in a sir name.  DO NOT PANIC......this should not cause a problem.  However, speaking entirely from my direct experience, please do us all a favor and provide your proper full name when initially making your flight reservation.  Gone are the days of "Muffy" making her reservations as "Muffy" versus using her real proper first name of "Margaret". 

Believe me, if you think it is a drag providing this detailed information properly the first time, you are going to think it is a bigger drag being denied boarding of the aircraft.  For all of you out there whom are not already clients of ours, your travel agent should have collected this pertinent information long ago and added it to your profile so that you do not have to provide it every time you book travel in the future.  If that has not been done, you need to find a new travel agent.

Oh, and one more little piece of advice.............if you are one of those people whom has been fortunate enough to travel under one name, let's say "John P. Doe" and your frequent flier registration is actually "J. Poindexter Doe", you might want to think about contacting the appropriate airline and changing your registration so that your airline frequent flier program actually matches your proper name.  Just a friendly suggestion and one I have made to several clients since they realized that they were not getting credit for air mileage flown due to a discrepancy in name information. 

Lastly, do not panic if your airline has not asked you for your Secure Flight Passenger Data.  Each airline is integrating and incorporating this program individually as their systems allow.  If you do, in fact, enjoy the services of a travel agent, the sooner you provide all of this information, the better.  You should only have to provide it once.  I feel a future post coming on to point out the obvious and not-so-obvious benefit of using a travel agent, a good one.  Safe travels.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Auberge Saint-Antoine in the Old Port of Quebec City


Auberge Saint-Antoine at Night
As promised in a previous post, I would like to highlight this very special  hotel in Quebec City-Auberge Saint-Antoine.  I started booking this property in the late nineties and am still booking it today.  The hotel is located in the Old Port facing the St. Lawrence River.  http://www.saint-antoine.com/

Auberge Saint-Antoine Lobby
 Auberge Saint-Antoine offers 95 rooms and suites.  Their Classic Room, of which they have twelve, offers either two double beds or one queen bed.  The next level up is a Comfort Room offering either a queen or king bed.  If you would like a room with an inner courtyard view, then you would enjoy one of their Luxe Rooms.  The property also offers a number of suites, some of which offer terraces with views of the city.  The most luxurious of their suites is a one-bedroom suite with a separate living room which offers not only a terrace but also a fireplace.  All rooms have goose down duvets and pillows.  Each guest can enjoy free high-speed internet access, a minibar, safety boxes and a Bose sound system.

Thematic Suite at Auberge Saint-Antoine
  This very unique property was originally a maritime warehouse dating back to 1830.  It now enjoys membership in the Relais & Chateaux hotel group.  One special feature offered by Auberge Saint-Antoine is a private screening room in which you can view any movie from their selection.  It is necessary to check availability for the room first of course.
Screening Room at Auberge Saint-Antoine
Should you need a massage, sauna or even a session of yoga, all are offered in LeGym which is open around the clock seven days a week.  You also have the option to schedule a work out with a personal trainer.

In July of 2004, the hotel opened their exceptional restaurant, Panache.  It is located in the historic maritime warehouse which was painstakingly restored and displays its stone walls and original wood beams.  The diverse menu offers traditional French Canadian cuisine under Executive Chef, Francois Blais.

Panache Restaurant at Auberge Saint-Antoine
Auberge Saint-Antoine has a second restaurant called Cafe Artefact.  This Cafe is more casual and offers light meals and snacks from 11am to 11pm daily.
Cafe Artefact at Auberge Saint-Antoine
As with any Relais & Chateaux property, the service is impeccable and they will strive to meet your every need.  Their Concierge is a member of Les Clefs d'Or and can make any possible arrangements you may desire.  When my clients recently stayed there, the Concierge arranged a private driver to escort them all over Quebec City and the surrounding area.  The hotel also offers indoor valet parking and room service is offered from 6:30am to 11pm daily should you want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner in the privacy of your own room. 

IF you find yourself in Quebec City, I strongly urge you to stay at Auberge Saint-Antoine.  Over the past dozen years, their level of service and commitment to excellence has been consistent.  You will not be disappointed.
All Photos Courtesy of Auberge Saint-Antoine