Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria offers a taste of how life used to be. This charming and intimate town offers the perfect location for a romantic getaway. Its strong British influence is all things romantic with its gardens, afternoon tea and antique shops. Victoria also offers golf for those in search of the greens, award winning restaurants and art galleries galore. Surprisingly, its nightlife is alive all year round.

    Tea at the Gardens Many visitors know of The Fairmont Empress Hotel and its Tea Lobby. This is a well-known attraction, but since I didn’t actually experience either this particular property or their tea, I can’t give you any advice. I did however, enjoy the art, shopping, gardens and other romantic places that are available in this entertaining and well kept city. The Fairmont is gorgeous and definitely a place I’d like to check out if I get a chance to return.

    Lodging – The Magnolia Hotel and Spa is centrally located within walking distance to many attractions in the area. It offers an onsite Aveda Concept Salon and is within walking distance to many shops. This lodging offers amenities that other hotels should take note of. The rooms are English décor with nightly turndown service and the best bathroom amenities I have ever encountered. It was a relaxing retreat after my journey and helped to calm the mind in a delicate, yet sensuous way. The baths offer separate tub and shower combos, complete with Aveda bath products, bath tablets to soften the skin, and many other personal items. It was a pleasure to enjoy such lodgings. Don’t tell, but I snuck by the maid cart and swiped a few extra bath tablets!
    http://magnoliahotel.com

    Spa – The onsite spa is where I experienced a delightful and most relaxing facial. The atmosphere of the spa was quiet and calming with a sense of peace. I received not only care for my face, but also an arm and leg massage. The Spa Magnolia is a restful and peaceful setting in which guests are pampered and catered to and every detail matters.

    Flowers –  For those romantics wishing to go out into the world of Victoria, The Butchart Gardens offer packages where couples fly into the property on a float plane to enjoy the magical gardens and afternoon tea or a romantic dinner. A limousine can be arranged to return the lovers to the Magnolia Hotel. I took a stroll through the gardens and gasped when I walked near the edge of one certain area and ended up exploring a place that made me think I was in Rivendale.
    http://butchartgardens.com

    Butchart Gardens flickr image by **mary**

    Wine – Another spot for romantics is Marley Farms which now offers picnics in its vineyards for those wishing to sample a bottle of its wonderful fruit wines. Couples can also venture into Oak Bay for antiquing and art galleries while enjoying a meal at the Penning Farthing Pub.
    http://marleyfarm.ca

    Victoria, BC is a must-see destination for romantics of all levels. For more information, visit http://tourismvictoria.com.

    Couple Travel Tips on raveable

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  • Are you thinking of getting married or renewing your vows and want something exotic? Are you looking for a romantic getaway that caters to various lifestyles? What if you don’t have a passport? The Florida Keys is a destination for every type of traveler. I’ve been there with a kid, and without. I even spent a week there, just checking out hotels and resorts to see if they are places I would recommend to TravelingMamas.com readers.

    Here are some of my top romantic resorts in the Florida Keys (or Conch Republic, as it is called).

    Beach at Little Palm Island by Shannon Hurst Lane1. Little Palm Island Resort and Spa – This one has to be at the top of the list. It’s a private island tucked away off the shore of Little Torch Key and crushed gravel pathways lead you to your secluded bungalow. There are beaches, piers, hidden hammocks, and no stress. Cell phones are not permitted and the only television is in one of the common areas. The onsite SpaTerre is a tree house of relaxation and Zen. I enjoyed exploring this luxurious island retreat, listening to the waves lap the shore. It is quite possibly one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited. Children under the age of 16 are not permitted on the island. It isn’t easy on the pocketbook, but if you can save up, you won’t be disappointed. For those that can’t afford an overnight stay on Little Palm Island, you can still enjoy a fantastic waterside meal.

    Table for Two at CasaMorada by Shannon Hurst Lane2. Casa Morada – My favorite moment at this Islamorada property was sipping Champagne on the Sea view Terrace with Lauren Abrams and the other ladies of Casa Morada. It is a 16 suite property with hidden areas for couples to soak in the atmosphere of this bay-side resort. The décor is contemporary Caribbean and I must say that I felt like I was at an exclusive club and I was the most important person there. That’s how Casa Morada makes every guest feel. Pets are welcome too.

    3. Cheeca Lodge – I’ve been to this property twice. Once was for a work breakfast, but that visit was enough to entice me for a second visit with my daughter. It is a family friendly resort, but whether a couple brings the kids or leaves them at home, romance can still be found. The beach is true Keys style, with a bit of rockiness. Couples have their own part of the property, but those with children should take advantage of Camp Cheeca. My daughter checked it out for one day and then begged to go back the second day. Couples can take this private time and enjoy a couple’s massage or just lay out at the adult-only pool. Currently this property is closed for renovations after a New Years Eve fire, but should be opening back up soon. Update: Cheeca Lodge has reopened!

    The Moorings Village Beach by Shannon Hurst Lane4.The Moorings Village Resort and Spa – Ever wanted to be a Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated swimsuit model? Well, this is where many of the photo shoots take place. It’s a photographer and movie director’s dream. This property is actually situated right next door to Cheeca Lodge but offers the white sand beach people look for. The cottages are laid out around the property and there is an onsite spa. Scenes from many movies have been filmed here, including “I Love You Philip Morris” starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.

    5. Reach Resort – This Waldorf-Astoria property was my first introduction to the Keys. It has one of the best beaches in Key West and is perfect for enjoying a cigar and glass of wine. I didn’t see any kiddos at this place and the only noise came from me and my traveling partners. There is a restaurant onsite, The Strip House, which is definitely adult only. There are silhouettes of strippers all over, even on the wallpaper. It was a fun setting and the food was delicious too. The rooms here are condo style with balconies. Great place near the action of Duvall Street.

    Watching the sun set at Tranquility Bay by Shannon Hurst Lane6. Tranquility Bay – This property is like a little neighborhood of beach houses that all have an ocean view. I enjoyed watching the sun set with sand between my toes and an ice cold drink in my left hand. Great for families. Great for couples. Great for a group of friends seeking a place to relax and chill but still have the comforts of home (like a kitchen and laundry appliances in your unit). The beach bar makes killer drinks and serves munchies. An adult pool is available for those that want to stay far away from the little ones.

    Stuffed French Toast at Sunset Key Island by Shannon Hurst Lane7. Sunset Key Island – Cottages in varying sizes are dotted around this private island that is part of the Westin chain. I ate THE BEST stuffed French toast for breakfast there. It is family friendly, but the property is large enough that couples can find some quiet areas. There are special packages, even a Girlfriend Getaway package where a drag queen will come in and do makeovers and then take the group out on the town in Key West.

    8. Dove Creek Lodge – This property does not have a beach, but it is definitely the place to stay if you like fishing. The property has an atmosphere of a luxurious fishing camp with all the amenities. They had me at “hello” when I was handed a CD to enjoy in condo and what was on it? The love of my life, Kenny Chesney. Got to give kudos to a place when they know good music.

    9. The Southernmost House – One word: Haunting. This place isn’t just the southernmost place to stay in the US, but it is also rumored to be haunted. Funky décor and ocean view pool. More of a bed & breakfast/inn style than a hotel. Super cool.

    10. Key West Marriott Beachside – I didn’t stay overnight here, just took a look-see to tell you about it. If I had to get a room here, it would be the ones in the main building with the balconies. The beach here is amazing and I even had a bit of time to hang out in a nearby hammock. That’s what you’re supposed to do in The Keys, right?

    If you want to tour all of The Keys, I suggest flying into Key West Airport and renting a car. Visit all of The Keys by starting with a few days in Key West, and then meander your way north towards Miami so that you can get a feel for each Key. They are all different and have their own personalities. Key West is the busiest of all, with Duvall Street being like a beach version of the French Quarter at night. There is so much to do in Key West. The rest of your drive will bring you to the relaxation you may need before dropping the rental car off in Miami and flying home. Be careful though. Many people have visited The Keys and failed to catch the flight back home. For more information, visit The Florida Keys Official Tourism Site.

    Here’s a taste of Sam Brown’s visit to The Keys, which aired on The Travel Channel.

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  • I had the pleasure of experiencing a night at Auberge Ripplecove Inn and Spa located on Lake Massawippi after a day of shopping in Quebec’s Eastern Township Region. It is set on 12 private acres on a small peninsula. I was visiting as part of a girlfriend getaway group. When we arrived yesterday evening, I fell in love with the charm of the building. It looked so welcoming and inviting with the snow all around and the light from inside beckoning those of us out side.

    I was shown to my room, Number 7, so that I could have a few minutes to change before dinner. Seven is one of my favorite numbers, and that alone excited me, but when the door opened and I stepped inside my home for the night, I gasped. The room was awesome and it made me feel like a rock star queen or a famous novelist who stopped by for a visit. The room’s theme is called City Chic and man, was it chic!

    It was dark so I couldn’t see much outside of my window, but for the snow surrounding the Inn, so I changed into something a little dressier for dinner, because the atmosphere of the Ripplecove is that of comfortable elegance. I took a tour around the Inn, as there was still a bit of time before dinner began.

    The Ripplecove Inn offers 35 different rooms, each with its own personality. There is even a secluded cabin and a larger house that has bigger suites. Many of the rooms were masculine and some were feminine in décor, but all were gorgeous. No matter which room guests choose (yes, guests pick their rooms during the reservation process), they won’t be disappointed. There is a cozy bar near the dining room, an onsite spa that is right out of the pages of a romance novel, and various other rooms for meetings, small receptions, or just to sit in front of a fireplace reading a book. My stay is during winter, but the Inn was originally built as an upscale fishing lodge that is quite frankly something out of a fairytale.

    Dinner was an event that I will always remember. It was just us gals, so we all ended up eating in the kitchen at the Chef’s Table. We participated in the production (but not the cooking) each of us taking turns with the Innkeeper, Michel, and the Sommelier, Patrick, in serving the various courses. We even took a few moments between courses to raid the wine cellar.

    Here is the menu of our dinner:

    Amuse-Bouche Ripplecove, Atlantic Smoked Salmon enjoyed with Kir Royale au Cassis, North Hatley, Quebec.

    Rabbit (Stanstead Farm) Cappollini Onions, Port Wine served with Chardonnay-Seyval, Les Pervenches, Farnham, Quebec 2007

    Beef Tenderloin (Ferme Eumatimi) Like a Wellington, Celeriac Puree, Wild Huckleberry served with Cabernet Seyvernyi, Domaine Carone, Lanoraie, Quebec 2008

    Everything is Maple served with a Homemade Faiselle Cheese paired with Porto Tawny, 10 years Otima, Warres’s

    But the night didn’t end there. A few of us visited the Inn’s hot tub outside in the snow. We giggled and chatted and shared stories of motherhood and womanhood until we could hardly keep our eyes open. I returned to my room to enjoy a hot shower and promptly fell into bed. I woke up this morning with this gorgeous view to look at as I pack my bags for my return back to the US and the real world. From Quebec City’s Winter Carnival to Spa Eastman to this marvelous inn, it was a magical journey throughout Quebec and I can’t wait to share the rest of my adventure of this girlfriend getaway.

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  • What is a romantic getaway and how can I surprise my partner with a trip for Valentine’s Day, our anniversary, a second honeymoon, or just because?

    Romantic spot on Little Palm Island
    Romantic spot on Little Palm Island

    A romantic getaway is different for each person and each couple. Some couples prefer outdoor adventures, while others enjoy a luxurious retreat. Choosing where to go is the first step in the planning process. It might be a honeymoon. It might be an anniversary. You may not even be married, but are looking for some special time alone. Whatever the reason for your romantic getaway, you can’t go wrong by devoting time to your relationship.

    Romantic dining at Houmas House Plantation copyright Houmas House
    Romantic dining at Houmas House Plantation copyright Houmas House

    Think about the activities your partner enjoys. There is a destination to suit any interest. There are mountain resorts for land lovers and beach resorts for tickling your toes in the sand. Some destinations are packed with activities, while other getaways are set in seclusion. The type of destination really depends on the traveler and the budget. And yes, there are getaways for all budgets, even those with no budget.

    When planning a romantic getaway, you’ll want everything to be as perfect as humanly possible. Advanced planning can help your romantic getaway fall into place and be a trip to remember for a lifetime. Here are some tips for that special trip:

    * Get a manicure and pedicure to feel sexy before you leave. Men need manicures, too!

    * Pack items such as massage oils, a scented candle, and a favorite CD. This will help you set the mood of your resort room.

    * Hire a chauffeured ride to the airport to help the trip start out right.

    * Inquire during your planning phase about vow renewals. Some countries and islands require a certain length’s stay before a ceremony. Ask an on-site wedding coordinator to help with the details. If planning vow renewals, some places require the original marriage certificate.

    * Ask the chef to re-create your wedding dinner or your first date meal. This can be set in a secluded area of the restaurant or even private dining in your room.

    * Buy a card in the airport gift shop on the way home to thank your partner for a wonderful, romantic getaway.

    Romantic spot in Saint-Tropez
    Romantic spot in Saint-Tropez

    What if you need a few ideas on where to go for that romantic escape? Never fear, The Traveling Mamas are here! We have an entire category dedicated to romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, or just because. Searching for a romantic package in Denver? Need some romance in San Diego? We’ve got you covered. Snuggle up for a little romance and renew those relationships this year.

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  • El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa, nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Taos, NM, is an environmentally friendly spiritual experience that nurtures the soul. The atmosphere of this resort provides the perfect setting for couples to renew their relationships and grow closer together. It is a place for a spiritual retreat.

    View of Taos Mountain at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort
    View of Taos Mountain at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort

    El Monte Sagrado was developed around a Native American sacred site, The Sacred Circle. A few years ago, my good friend told me about her amazing visit at El Monte and how it will always stay in her heart. I became intrigued and began to plan my own visit, to see if it would suit for a romantic getaway. The resort is hidden from the bustle of Taos, but close enough to visit the shops on foot. There were 32 rooms during my friend’s visit, but they now have 48 new guest rooms and a spa expansion.

    I wrote this a while back, when I visited to help my soul recover from a major surgery. I really enjoyed relaxing in one of the new rooms, which all have a large soaking tub, perfect for couples, an oversized shower, and luxurious bed. The fireplace provides a romantic ambiance and the view from my balcony is phenomenal. The room is decorated with suede, river rocks, and turquoise accents. The room is just made for snuggling. I did take a peep into the casitas and suites, each decorated in their own worldly theme. Some of them have their own private courtyard and hot tub.

    Mountain View Room at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort
    Mountain View Room at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort

    I decided to take a walk around the property before I had a spa treatment. The original rooms are hidden in alcoves built around the Sacred Circle. I felt a pull and stepped over a grassy knoll to sit on a rock near the circle. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, smelling a slight scent of wood burning on the breeze. The golden Aspen leaves fell gently all around me, like a light rain and the trickling of the water was a concerto for my ears. The wind caressed my neck and a deep calm came over me. I can see why many couples choose to bless their vows at this particular spot and why my friend insisted I visit this place.

    Pool at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort
    Pool at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort

    On my walk to the The Living Spa, I stepped into the enclosed pool area, which was similar to a grotto. Guests can swim year ‘round, so if you should plan a visit, be sure to pack a swimsuit. I had previously looked through the spa menu, which offers intriguing and unique specialties. Their special offerings include such treatments as Spiritual Cleansing with Grandmother Jean, The Soul’s Blueprint with Julie Kelly, Egyptian Anointing with Maria Mikhailas, and Trauma Recovery with Terri Picard. These treatments need to be booked in advanced, so keep that in mind. I opted for the Signature High Desert Body Treatment.

    My therapist, Jack, really made me feel comfortable and relaxed for my treatment. I was led to one of the new treatment rooms, a round, Native American style room with a skylight in the wooden ceiling. It reminded me of the kivas of the pueblos. The treatment began with a Zuni salt exfoliation that included a special oil blend of indigenous plants and flowers. The next step was a wrap of volcanic ash mask that draws out the toxins in the body. It was completed by a gentle massage that left me renewed in spirit and mind. I don’t write this lightly, but this was truly the best spa treatment I have ever experienced.

    Pork Loin Entree at El Monte Sagrado in Taos
    Pork Loin Entree at El Monte Sagrado in Taos

    Couples also look for fine dining during their romantic getaways, and El Monte Sagrado covers the cuisine aspect, as well as the spiritual well-being. Chef Ruben Tanuz prepares a menu full of fresh, organic dishes that delight all the senses. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all offer surprises for the visiting couples. The onsite Anaconda Bar is also a favorite with visitors and locals alike. The bar’s mixologist, Jesse, is talented with his libations. Be sure to try Jesse’s Ginger Zen or the signature Kessler Kiss.

    This resort offers so much, that I hardly left the property. Fortunately, local artist Stephen Long offers customized guided tours through the property’s gift shop. He can take couples to Taos Pueblo, escort them around the art galleries, or even bring them to the nearby hot springs hidden in the mountains. Stephen took me to a few notable historic sites, but I was anxious to get back to El Monte and relax on the grounds. I took a quiet walk and noticed a couple sitting at the Sacred Circle, holding hands. Another couple was sitting on their verandah sipping champagne. Even a famous celebrity couple (who shall remain nameless) spent a weekend here and enjoyed a couple’s massage.

    El Monte Sagrado is not inexpensive, but well worth the visit. I would encourage couples looking for that special romantic getaway for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or anytime for that matter, to make plans to experience a personal couples retreat in the arms of this beautiful and intimate resort

    To learn more about El Monte Sagrado, visit http://elmontesagrado.com. This property is part of the Kessler Collection and The Leading Small Hotels of the World, as well as being a AAA Four Diamond Resort.

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