Gran Hotel Son Net on 17th Century Majorcan Estate, Opens First Luxury Tree House

Gran Hotl Son Net, on a 17th century estate, was first opened as one of Majorca’s top luxury rural hotels in 1998. In the last three years the hotel has focused on reviving the estate from planting vines, to replanting olive trees and introducing livestock. The hotel’s new tree house is a first for Majorca’s luxury rural hotels and is designed around an existing ancient tree on the Son Net Estate in the front of the hotel’s main façade. Further information and reservations:

The Son Net Tree House offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a unique “bird’s eye view” of the Serra de Tramuntana Mountains and the views across the village of Puigpunyent and countryside below and is available for private functions and meals for up to 8 people and cocktails for up to 10 people.

A selection of menus have been specifically created for the Tree House from a four course breakfast at 100€ per person to include a selection of cold and hot dishes to a three course lunch with complementary wine selection from 155€ per person to high tea from 75€. For dinner, the Tree House offers the ultimate romantic setting with candles around the terrace and views of the sunset over the Serra de Tramuntana Mountains. Guests can choose from a 4 or 7 course tasting menu which starts at 150€ per person including complementary wines.

The Tree House also makes the ideal inspirational venue for a small meetings from 90€ per person for half day rental (09.00 – 14.00). Other options include private wine tastings with the hotel’s own sommelier to explain the different wines and the history of wine growing on Majorca, from 45€ pp to include a selection of local wines. In addition, cigar tasting, pre dinner cocktails and after dinner drinks can also be arranged for groups of 4 -10 people. The hotel even available for children’s parties during the day.

Gran Hotel Son Net is located on top of a hill overlooking the traditional village of Puigpunyent with spectacular views across the countryside. It makes a great base to enjoy the best of rural Majorca and yet it is only 20 minutes drive from Palma’s city centre. The estate is divided up into one main building and various out buildings and comprises 31 bedrooms with 7 suites and 24 double rooms and features include a traditional interior courtyard, reception area, the Oleum Restaurant featuring the estate’s original olive oil press, wine cellar, conference rooms, gym, bar, beauty salon, various halls, private chapel, outdoor restaurant, landscaped gardens, a spectacular 30 metres swimming pool surrounded by private cabanas plus two additional swimming pools and jacuzzis. In 2013 the hotel was awarded Most Excellent Hotel in Europe & The Mediterranean Region by Condé Nast Johansens.

Gran Hotel Son Net, C/ Castillo de Sonnet s/n, Puigpunyent 07194 Spain, Tel: +34 971 147 00, E-Mail: [email protected] , Web:


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The Wayfarers Walking Vacations Introduces New Destinations for Spring 2015

The Wayfarers Walking Vacations has released its Spring 2015 brochure, offering a sneak-preview of the full range of early season hiking tours across the globe.
The Wayfarers Walking Vacations has released its Spring 2015 brochure, offering a sneak-preview of the full range of early season hiking tours across the globe.

The Wayfarers Walking Vacations has released its Spring 2015 brochure, offering a sneak-preview of the full range of early season hiking tours across the globe.

Three brand new Walks are included in the online brochure, which is aimed at giving guests the chance to reserve places on favorite trips and get a taste of the 2015 Walk Schedule.

The new Walks are in UK’s Northumbria, the Puglia region of Italy and in Tuscany, ‘A Pilgrim’s Journey’ traces the ancient Via Francigena.

Other fully all-inclusive Walks, escorted by The Wayfarers’ renowned Walk Leaders and Managers, range from Argentinian Patagonia to New Zealand, USA, the British Isles and across Europe.

Michael West, who founded The Wayfarers more than 30 years ago, said that the Spring Preview had been prompted by clients who wanted to be able to book their spring season Walks earlier.

“‘We know that this is the time of year that people are already thinking about their spring vacations. So in advance of our full brochure we want to let everyone get a taste of the wonderful Walks we are offering from February next year and allow people to book early and ensure their places on our very popular early season trips.

“The variety of the Walks we are offering in truly marvelous locations really does provide something for everyone, and at all Walk levels. Our new Walks in the UK and Italy are sure-fire winners and of course all our favorites, including our back-to-back Walks in Europe are there too.”

The Wayfarers 2015 Spring Brochure is available online at

The Wayfarers, 174   Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, 800-249-4620, 401-849-5087, [email protected].

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New York State Partners with ResponsibleTravel on Sustainable Travel Online Guide, Itineraries

You can find out about bicycling along the Erie Canal tow paths at an online New York State Responsible Travel Guide which also offers itineraries © 2014 Karen Rubin/
You can find out about bicycling along the Erie Canal tow paths at an online New York State Responsible Travel Guide which also offers itineraries © 2014 Karen Rubin/

Have you ever thought to explore New York State’s Amish culture, or bike along the hundreds-of-miles long Erie Canal towpath? Eco-oriented travelers can discover such lesser known and authentic aspects of New York State at an extensive online guide to sustainable travel, along with bookable itineraries, at

The initiative, in conjunction with, makes New York one of the only U.S. destinations to promote sustainable tourism on such a large scale.

The Responsible Travel Guide to New York State provides an overview of the culture, history and ecology of each of New York’s regions as well as practical information on public transportation, eco-friendly activities and accommodations. An easy-to-navigate format invites eco-oriented travelers to discover many lesser known and authentic aspects of New York State. Equally valuable as a planning tool, the guide links to other useful sites as well as a tour section that is constantly growing with a multitude of click-to-book New York itineraries.

The New York State guide and itineraries were produced in partnership with United-Kingdom-based, a leading international travel organization and pioneer in sustainable and responsible tourism.

A separate section of the tour operator’s website features a growing catalog of easy-to-book eco-tourism activities in every region of the state.

The partnership and program reflect Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to increasing tourism throughout New York, conserving the state’s unrivaled natural wonders and supporting local communities.

“This initiative will continue to New York State’s history of pioneering environmentally responsible tourism,” Governor Cuomo said. “From our millions of acres of protected wilderness where New Yorkers can hike or kayak, to our vast network of parklands, New York is truly unmatched when it comes to opportunities for sustainable tourism. On top of all that, these assets support eco-friendly jobs and growth in local communities, and ultimately reinforce the value of preservation.”

Justin Francis, co-founder of, said, “We are delighted to be working with New York State to find and celebrate the best examples of responsible tourism. I was staggered by the diversity of experiences we found within the state, and by the contribution these make to conservation and communities. I think our clients will be too. We are thrilled that New York State has decided to turn perhaps the most powerful tourism branding in the world, I Love NY, green to help us launch this guide.”

The guide has been penned by Catherine Mack, an ecotourism expert and writer who has contributed to several ecotourism guidebooks as well as responsible-travel oriented articles for the National Geographic Traveller UK, The Irish Times, and other publications.

New York’s strong commitment to conservation dates back more than a century to the ratification of the “Forever Wild” amendment to the State Constitution in 1894. The amendment mandates that state-owned and acquired forest preserve lands be “forever kept as wild forest lands.” New York’s Adirondack Park, the nation’s largest park outside of Alaska, is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined and is just one of the state’s many natural treasures. The original two preserves – the Catskill and Adirondack parks – have since expanded to more than 175 New York State Parks with activities such as fishing, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, cultural presentations and historic re-enactments.

For more New York State travel ideas, visit

See also:

Journey by boat and bike along the Erie Canal: Macedon-Fairport-Pittsford and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat, bike: Exploring canaltowns from Pittsford to Albion and slideshow

Erie Canal journey: Albion-Medina bikeride is most scenic, illuminating and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat and bike: Palmyra, ‘Queen of Canal Towns’ and slideshow

A gal getaway hiking New York’s Hudson River School Art Trail and slideshow

Getaway on the Hudson River School Art Trail: Thomas Cole National Historic Site and slideshow

Getaway on The Hudson River School Art Trail: Frederick Edwin Church’s Olana and slideshow

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Rivers of Recovery Helps Combat Veterans Overcome Scars of War With Fly-Fishing

Vietnam veteran Leon hooks into a big one on one of Rivers of Recovery's fly-fishing programs.
Vietnam veteran Leon hooks into a big one on one of Rivers of Recovery’s fly-fishing programs.

Fly-fishing can be medicinal. It is one of the outdoor recreational therapy strategies that Rivers of Recovery (, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, uses to help combat veterans who have been physically affected, or are suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post traumatic shock disorder (PTSD). The organization’s program fosters confidence-building through outdoor activities and talk therapy in a relaxed, supportive environment.

In July, MPulse Maintenance Software (, a division of SpecTech, Inc., helped sponsor two fly-fishing trips for combat-wounded veterans on Oregon’s majestic McKenzie River.

The company donated 5% of its May 2013 sales revenues to help sponsor two, two-day trips of six veterans each, and the overall operations of Rivers of Recovery. While it started out as a simple fundraising effort for a good cause, MPulse employees soon became invested in the Rivers of Recovery mission. Jason Johnson, MPulse’s vice president of sales and marketing, began advocating for a fly fishing trip on Oregon’s scenic McKenzie River near the MPulse headquarters — the first time the Rivers of Recovery organization has held trips there.

Johnson reached out to Chris Daughters — owner of Caddis Fly (, a Eugene, Ore., fly fishing shop — to organize the trips. Johnson and Daughters worked closely with Amy Simon, executive director of Rivers of Recovery, to ensure the trips followed the therapeutic guidelines set forth by Rivers of Recovery. Each group of six veterans received two back-to-back days of guided fly fishing, which took place July 21-22 and July 24-25, 2014. The river guides were provided by Daughters, who also arranged lodging for the group in his cabin at Loloma Lodge in Blue River, Ore.

The experience was extremely powerful for both the organizers and the participants. “Fly fishing is more than a hobby. It’s Zen meditation — the flowing water, fresh air, sunshine. It’s therapy,” explains Johnson, who is a U.S. Army veteran and fly fisherman himself. “It was truly humbling to join this group of selfless men and women for two beautiful days on the river, and to see the impact the experience had on each of them. The change that happens over two days is miraculous.”

Eugene area veterans Troy Givens, Michael Oreskovic, and Jacob Courtright volunteered as camp hosts for the trips, organizing the food, social activities, and transportation. All three are former participants in Rivers of Recovery trips, and they were well versed in the process and the therapeutic benefits of the program.

“Soldiers come back with scars that aren’t always visible,” said Oreskovic, a U.S. Army veteran. “Rivers of Recovery gives vets a chance to work through difficult experiences and find their sense of purpose and self-confidence again. It made a difference in my recovery, and I wanted to pay it forward with other veterans.”

The veterans weren’t the only ones who came back from the river with a different perspective. Coordinating and participating in the Rivers of Recovery trips also left the organizers galvanized by the experience. “We were inspired by the changes these trips made in the lives of these deserving vets,” Johnson said. “It was great to see firsthand what giving back means. At MPulse we believe in actively supporting the communities where we do business and helping those in need. Our senior leaders are active in Rotary International and our employees receive paid time off for community service, which they use to support numerous worthy organizations. It’s part of who we are.”

Rivers of Recovery was founded in 2008 by Dan T. Cook as a means to help combat veterans overcome the invisible scars of war. In six years, Rivers of Recovery has hosted hundreds of veterans through our unique rehabilitation program. As an industry leader in veterans rehabilitation, Rivers of Recovery utilizes a medically designed curriculum coupled with outdoor recreational activities to treat combat veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), minor Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), stress, anxiety, and depression.

Each Rivers of Recovery trip hosts six to ten combat veterans on a science-based, experiential rehabilitation program that focuses on confidence-building, outdoor activities, talk therapy in a relaxed, positive environment and proven techniques on the self-management of symptoms, stressors and responses. Through fly fishing, instruction increases self-confidence, skill-improvement builds empowerment, and achievement facilitates enthusiasm and resiliency.

For more information, visit

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Learn to Cook Indonesian Style at Four Seasons Bali’s Newly Opened Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy

Four Seasons Bali is the only resort on the island to feature its own stand-alone cooking school.
Four Seasons Bali is the only resort on the island to feature its own stand-alone cooking school.

Delicious local food is one of Bali’s most famous attractions and now visitors can take home the authentic flavors of Indonesian cuisine, thanks to a new Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy which has opened at the Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay.

“Four Seasons is the only resort on the island to feature its own stand-alone cooking school. We wanted to go beyond offering casual lessons in the kitchen to providing a full professional-quality training facility. Our classes are designed for novice and experienced cooks alike – creating a focused learning environment for a maximum of 10 students per session,” says Michael Branham, General Manager.

“Food is a great way to create a deep personal connection and also enhance people’s cultural appreciation of Bali and Indonesia. Many of the recipes are based on old family traditions. Now our guests can take these recipes home and share these authentic dishes with their own family and friends.”

Set in its own building, the Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy features a charming stone-paved courtyard and herb garden at its entrance. Enormous glass doors lead into the air-conditioned kitchen, equipped with gleaming state-of-the-art appliances and a large, kidney-shaped, black granite preparation unit with induction hot plates. Students can sample their creations at the communal dining table or outdoors in the shaded courtyard. All graduates receive an official certificate of achievement, as well as copies of the recipes in a beautiful hand-drawn booklet.

The Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy provides a hands-on opportunity to learn about the secret techniques and distinctive ingredients of Indonesian cuisine. Recipes are sourced from the resort’s team of Four Seasons chefs who come from various regions across Indonesia, including Bali, Sulawesi and Sumatra. All classes are taught in English only.

Classes are led by Chef Anak Agung Kristya Yudha, a Balinese native who has been preparing delicious meals for Four Seasons guests for more than 20 years. Caring and passionate with a charming sense of humor, Kristya enjoys engaging with students and sharing his knowledge of Indonesian cuisine and culture.

In each half-day session, students learn to prepare a full five-course meal according to traditional menus representing Bali, Java, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi and Sumatra. Highlight dishes include: “Sate rembiga” (traditional beef satay skewer with spicy sauce) from the Nusa Tenggara region; “Bebek betutu”(roasted duck with wrapped in banana leaf) from Bali; and a dessert of “Es doger” (young coconut, tapioca pearls and cassava with sweet milk) from Java.

As part of the day, students can visit the Jimbaran Fish Market – about 10 minutes from Four Seasons – to see how locals shop for the freshest seafood. Students can also pick indigenous ingredients from the academy’s herb and spice garden that grows Thai lemon basil, tamarind, pandan leaf, ginger and garlic.

Taking a class at the Cooking Academy is ideal as an interactive family activity. Once a week, the school offers a kids’ pastry class, focusing on Indonesian desserts.

After an optional market tour at 8 a.m., students gather in the kitchen at 9:30 a.m. to create an authentic Indonesian meal. There are six regional menus (including two different Bali menus), rotating on a daily basis, seven days per week. Special pricing is available when booking multiple sessions, starting at IDR 900,000++ per class. Classes are open to a maximum of 10 participants. Non-resort guests are welcome to attend with advance reservation.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay sits along Bali’s southern coast in 35 acres of oceanfront gardens. Accommodations include 147 villas and nine grand-scale residence villas that can accommodate up to 10 in palatial 11,000 – 24,000-square-foot spaces with 24-hour butler service. Memorable dining options include four restaurants and lounges featuring Indonesian, Thai and global cuisine, in-villa and in-residence dining and specialty meals accompanied by traditional Balinese dance. Cooking classes offer novice to expert instruction in Balinese, Indonesian and Asian dishes as well as the culinary secrets of pastry. The oceanfront Spa features an array of treatments that demonstrate the curative powers of water, including Balinese ayurvedic wellness and healing rituals, along with massages and yoga sessions offered in thatched open-air oceanside gazebos.

For more details on schedules and booking at the Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy, phone (62 361) 701010, or email [email protected],

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Dvorak Expeditions Hosts Bluegrass Music-and-Rafting Fundraiser for NWF on Utah’s Green River

Bill Dvorak's rafting expedition on Utah's Green River will have an unusual twist, with live bluegrass music performed by The Hayward Strangers.
Bill Dvorak’s rafting expedition on Utah’s Green River will have an unusual twist, with live bluegrass music performed by The Hayward Strangers.

Banjo music strumming down Utah’s wild and scenic Green River will be a distinctive feature on Bill Dvorak’s rafting expedition this September, with live bluegrass music performed by The Hayward Strangers. The trip is also a fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation.

A fifth generation cousin of the famous composer, Anton Dvorak, Bill Dvorak has been running rivers commercially longer than anyone else in Colorado (he owns the first rafting outfitter license issued by the state of Colorado).  With a personal penchant for bluegrass music and an acoustically outstanding natural setting to perform in, the 2014 ‘Green River Roustabout’ was born.

“The Hayward Strangers will blend with the sweet chorus of birds, rippling sounds of the river and the drum roll of the rapids,” Dvorak muses. “Guests will join one of Colorado’s hottest bluegrass bands on a six day journey as they perform daily concerts under natural canyon walls and amphitheaters and along broad sandy beaches.”

Dvorak has also planned for ample leisure time allowing down moments to just soak up the sun, read, float along the river and listen to some impromptu jam sessions. In addition to rafting and music, there are side excursions to ancient Fremont Indian ruins, petroglyphs, and wildlife viewing. “You can play with stand-up paddle boards, inflatable kayaks, have a Bocce ball tournament, swim, fish, and wear out your camera battery taking spectacular photos!”

The trip is scheduled Sept. 13-18, 2014 and departs from Grand Junction, CO or Green River, UT.  The adult rate is $1,498 per person (for youth under 12 $1,350) plus additional shuttle flight to the put-in ($190 per person), taxes and government fees. Trip cost will include all meals, rafting and safety equipment, professional guides and staff.

This concert journey is also a fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Dvorak and The Hayward Strangers are donating 15 percent of the fee to the national conservation nonprofit for its work in protecting and preserving wildlife habitat.

“The idea for the bluegrass journey first emerged following a conversation I had with Phil Hanceford (mandolin player) at a NWF conservation event,” explains Dvorak. “One year later, six members of the band agreed to sign on and the first such music adventure of its kind is happening.”

The Hayward Strangers are Keenan Copple (banjo, resonator guitar), T.J. Brown (guitar & harmonica), Phil Hanceford (mandolin), Josh Hicks (drums), John Murret (guitar), and Scott Powers on bass. They are a creative, rowdy group of folks with roots from North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Maryland, and Montana who play high energy acoustic Americana.
The Hayward Strangers are Keenan Copple (banjo, resonator guitar), T.J. Brown (guitar & harmonica), Phil Hanceford (mandolin), Josh Hicks (drums), John Murret (guitar), and Scott Powers on bass. They are a creative, rowdy group of folks with roots from North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Maryland, and Montana who play high energy acoustic Americana.

Each night guests and performers will mingle over campfire conversation, laughter and singing enjoying a variety of guide/chef-prepared dinners such as blackened salmon, charbroiled steaks, organic salads, garden vegetables and Dutch oven desserts such as Black Forest cake and strawberry shortcake, accompanied by hors d’oeuvres and vintage wines.  Special diets and allergies can be accommodated).

Bill and Jaci Dvorak have been operating Dvorak Raft, Kayak and Fishing Expeditions since 1979. As one of the early pioneers of white water river rafting in the Rocky Mountains, the Dvoraks own the first outfitter license issued by the state of Colorado. Their river trips, white water skills camp and swift water training programs are world renowned and have been featured in National Geographic, the Chicago Tribune and seen on ESPN and various television specials. Bill Dvorak recently received the conservation award from American Rivers as the “River Champion of the West”.

To book a space, call US/Canada Toll Free: 1-800-824-3795 or visit

For information, contact Dvorak Expeditions, Phone: 719 539.6851 or 800 824.3795. Email:  [email protected],


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Adventure Vietnam Introduces New Voluntourism Program

Adventure Vietnam ( invites travelers to join its new Volunteerism program named “Exploring Vietnam’s Charm – Bringing Smiles and Happiness to Disadvantaged People.”

Recognizing that it is difficult for volunteers to devote several weeks to work on a community projects, but would dearly love to give a little something to Vietnam, Adventure Vietnam has designed an eight day/seven night itinerary that enables travelers to spend a couple of days volunteering as well as time to explore.

“We work with a number of orphanages/disabled children centers across Hanoi, and you will be placed in one of them depending on need and availability. The children who live at the orphanages/disabled children centers are both male and female and are aged between 1 and 18 years, with the older children attending school during the day. We also work with a shelter specifically for boys as well. Some of the children living at the orphanages have special needs and you will also be volunteering with these children too. The centers that we work with can vary in size from 20 to 250 children, so be prepared for a busy schedule!” said Xuan Truong who became head of the new department in June.

Adventure Vietnam is also looking for people who would serve as a group leader and independently promote and sell the program as a representative of their country of residence. Group leaders would receive a net rate. (Contact Xuan Truong at [email protected].)

Adventure Vietnam has more than 10 years of experience in voluntourism projects for communities in Vietnam.

Adventure Vietnam, 5 Nguyen Truong To Street, Ba Dinh Dist, Hanoi, Vietnam, Phone: +84.4.3927 4120  Fax: +84.4.39 27 41 18, Mail: [email protected],

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Climate Ride Multi-Day Bike Trips Raise Money, Awareness, Advocacy for Sustainability

 On Climate Ride NYC-DC, riders will have a chance to meet with Congress. "Participants say this is one of the most powerful parts of the Climate Ride experience - pedaling your bike right to the US Capitol to advocate for change." © 2014 Karen Rubin/

On Climate Ride NYC-DC, riders will have a chance to meet with Congress. “Participants say this is one of the most powerful parts of the Climate Ride experience – pedaling your bike right to the US Capitol to advocate for change.” © 2014 Karen Rubin/

Biking is a great way to travel with minimal impact on climate. Now, an organization called Climate Ride, is arranging multi-day biking trips that raise money and awareness to support sustainability, active transportation, and environmental causes.

Climate Ride produces charitable multi-day rides, hikes and a DIY program:  Climate Ride NYC-DC, Climate Ride California, Climate Ride Midwest, Climate Hike and Independent Challenges.

Proceeds from the events benefit a collection of environmental and active transportation non-profits. Participants can choose to direct grants to the non-profit of their choice. (Learn more about beneficiaries and read common questions asked by participants in the FAQ.)

Here are some of the cyling trips still to come this year:

Climate Ride NYC-DC: (Sept. 20 – 24, 2014)

The ride begins in the heart of New York City to the tip of Manhattan where a ferry that will carry us off the island and across New York Harbor to New Jersey.  From there we travel along country roads passing through Princeton, near valley Forge, into Pennsylvania Amish Country, crossing the Susquehanna River into Maryland Horse Country. After a day of pedaling past farms and silos, we reach Maryland horse country. On the fifth day, riders cycle past the iconic Washington Monument to arrive at the U.S. Capitol. A highlight of the ride is that Climate Ride arranges appointments for every rider to personally meet with her/his Congressional representative. It makes a big impression to pedal 300 miles to meet your Member of Congress.

Climate Ride Midwest: (Sept. 6 – 9, 2014)

The Midwest ride spans three states and connects two vibrant cities, while exploring some of the best biking in the country. From the trip start in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we ride past historic lighthouses, blueberry farms, and quaint artist villages. We’ll also visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore before pedaling on paved rail-trails to a bicycle path on Lake Michigan that affords stunning views of Chicago’s dramatic skyline. The last 6-mile stretch leads up to Grant Park – know as “Chicago’s Front Yard” – for the ride finale.

Climate Hike: (Aug. 24-28, 2014)

On Climate Hike Glacier National Park, spend five days hiking the iconic trails on the ‘Crown of the Continent’. Witness majestic 500-year old cedar forests under threat of wildfires and glaciers in fast retreat. Over five days of hiking, participants build up stamina for an epic 15-mile journey across the park — traversing aretes and high alpine mountain passes. Professional Glacier Guides each day teach about Glacier’s unique ecosystem, so participants can bring this knowledge home to their communities.

Climate Ride California Wine Country, which took place in May, is likely to be repeated next year. The California Wine Country ride begins in San Francisco where we ride across the scenic Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. From there we travel through quaint Marin cities and the bucolic Nicasio Valley before turning East toward Petaluma. Riders pedal north from here through pastures and rolling hills into Sonoma County for a picnic lunch right on the Russian River near Healdsburg. Continuing on, the scenic Alexander Valley wine growing region awaits before pedaling up the final hill to the top of the famed Napa Valley, considered some of the best cycling in the US. The final day is an exciting ride across California’s Central Valley, with a stop into bike-friendly Davis and the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, to the Golden State’s Capitol in Sacramento.

The Speaker Series

The Expert Speaker Series: Each evening of the rides, expert speakers educate and inspire participants about sustainability, climate, the green economy, and active transportation. “Our participants and the communities we pass through learn that our government, businesses, and each individual American will benefit from a cleaner, healthier planet. This is a unique event — a fundraiser and green conference on wheels.” Learn more about our speakers here.

Advocacy Meetings with Congressmembers

On Climate Ride NYC-DC, riders will have a chance to meet with Congress. The Climate Ride staff schedules hundreds of appointments for riders to meet in person with their senators and representatives when they arrive by bike in Washington DC at the end of Climate Ride NYC-DC.

“Climate Ride is a non-partisan organization and we do not endorse any particular candidates, politicians, or legislation. We’re helping to create a grassroots force of ‘people-powered’ advocates. Participants say this is one of the most powerful parts of the Climate Ride experience – pedaling your bike right to the US Capitol to advocate for change.”

Independent Challenges:

Can’t make it to Climate Ride this year? Have an idea for a great event that you want to create yourself? Or are you already participating in an event that you want to connect to a cause? Climate Ride has created an Independent Challenge program as a way to raise money and awareness of your favorite Climate Ride beneficiaries, no matter what the event. Events might include rides, swims, runs, hikes, weddings, birthdays, memorials, dinner parties.

Climate Ride was created by Geraldine Carter and Caeli Quinn in 2008. A year later Blake Holiday joined as Ride Director. Together, they have a combined experience of more than 25 years of professional, high-end bike trip leading and development. Their expertise ranges from custom trips in far-flung locales to large-scale charitable events. The three have put together a volunteer staff of professional trip leaders and guides.

“We engage in the Climate Ride events to support a collection of beneficiary organizations that are working to engage citizens in the possibility of a green economy, educate the public about the interconnected web of environmental issues related to the climate crisis, mobilize government and businesses to enact sound energy policies that promote renewables, and raise the profile of green transportation. Your fundraising helps these beneficiaries continue to provide the critical services and education needed to address sustainability and active transportation issues.  Right now, your fundraising and your effort to raise awareness are more critical than ever.

“We can create communities with cleaner air, where we ride bikes, drive efficient cars and live and work in energy-saving, healthy buildings. If you demand it, our legislators and business community will promote clean energy and smarter transportation systems. By joining the Climate Ride events, you can take a step in this direction.

“So ditch your car and join us for a few days of human powered activity—all for a good cause!”



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Ecotourism Company, Tropic, Explores Chocolate with New Program Giving Entree into Pacari

Tropic, an award-winning ecotourism company specializing in Quito, Ecuador, has a new program, “May We Introduce You” featuring visits to artisanal workshops in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The program, which is launching toward the end of 2014, features a 90-minute tasting tour at the new showroom of Ecuador’s award-winning indigenous chocolate company, Pacari, that made a clean sweep of the dark chocolate field in a 2013 international competition in London.

Pacari is the first single-origin, 100 percent organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador. (The word Pacari means “nature” in Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andean region.)  The new tasting room scheduled to open at the end of the year is in Quito’s trendy, bohemian La Floresta neighborhood, home to top restaurants and boutique hotels.

A journey by story and video takes guests through the history of Ecuadorian cacao, followed by a tasting of the award-winning Pacari chocolate. The presentation also focuses on the agricultural side of chocolate cultivation and production and the communities that work with Pacari to bring the product to market.

The tastings will reveal the ingredients and secrets of 10 varieties of Pacari chocolates (four single origin chocolate bars, one special-edition chocolate bar and five dark chocolate bars). The complete tour with tastings is expected to be approximately 90 minutes.  Each guest on this tour receives a complimentary gift box of chocolate. The tour cost per person is $107 for groups of 2 to 4 (Current Special: $54 per person through September 2014). See:

When his schedule permits, Santiago Peralta, founder of Pacari, will lead the tours. He was recognized as the outstanding Chocolate Maker of 2013 by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association at the organization’s winter event in San Francisco.  With his wife, Carla Barboto, he has revolutionized the chocolate industry in both Ecuador and Latin America by creating a transparent model of tree-to-bar manufacturing based on innovation, ecological and social responsibility, and direct trade with certified organic farms throughout the country.

Pacari was also the main winner of the 2013 prestigious International Chocolate Awards World Final in London, winning six gold medals and a silver in the important category of Unflavored Dark Bars. The World Final took place within the framework of the Salon du Chocolat of London and Pacari bars competed against the 200 winning bars of three national rounds and two larger semi-final contests (European and Americas) that had taken place in the United States, England, Italy, Canada, and Israel during 2013.

Obsessed with purity of flavor, Peralta spends much of his time in the field sourcing cacaos from genetically diverse old farms that capture the full range of flavor and aroma of the best cacao regions of Ecuador, the largest producer of cacao in the world. Paying higher prices for quality-certified organic cacao, Peralta and his company benefit more than 3,000 farming families.

In addition to fighting to position their brand and chocolate on the international market, entrepreneurs Peralta and Barboto are promoting locally the benefits of cacao and chocolate.

On small farms, the cacao trees have been growing and intermingling for hundreds of years. The cross pollination of cacao which occurs in natural settings greatly reduces the possibility of a plague destroying the trees in Ecuador. Much like seed banks that exist for other crops, supporting family farms in Ecuador ensures that there is genetic material that can be used in the event that a disease does affect cacao in other countries.

In spring 2014 Tropic’s “May We Introduce You” campaign began guiding guests to La Mundial, a luxury custom boot company which now offers a factory tour in Quito. Please see This full day tour which also includes a tour of Quito’s Colonial Center and Middle of the World Monument with lunch runs $151 per person.

Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability in three distinct areas:

For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: +593-02-2234-594 / 202. 657.5072 (US) / 593. 2. 222. 5907 (EC) / US Toll-free: 1.888.207.8615 / Website:


© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia Eco-Experience Explores Southeast Asia’s First UNESCO Geopark

One of the creatures that might be encountered on the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia's new family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia's first UNESCO Geopark
One of the creatures that might be encountered on the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia’s new family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark

The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia now offers a family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark.

Guest take a private boat from the Resort’s Serai beach and in just a few minutes are sailing past a maze of 550-million-year-old limestone cliffs, craggy rock formations and tangled mangroves.

The eco-adventure is led by one of the resort’s three resident naturalists through one of the world’s most accessible mangrove forests. The trip affords up-close encounters with majestic eagles and kites, mischievous macaques, fish that walk (mudskippers), colorful tree-climbing crabs, shy otters, elegant monitor lizards, coiled snakes and hundreds of sleeping bats. With the entire experience conducted from the comfort and safety of the Resort’s boat, this family-friendly safari offers an experience only pure nature can offer complete with Four Seasons-style commentary and refreshments.

With little intrepid solo explorers in mind, an hour-long kids-only Mangroves & Monkeys Safari has also been designed. Aboard a floating classroom, adventurers aged 4 – 12 (young-at-heart parents welcome too!) join the resort naturalists for an educational eco-experience to discover the magical mangrove world and watch the antics of hundreds of mischievous macaque monkeys.

The Resort also offers a Rainforest Immersion, a three-hour excursion to the uninhabited islet of Pulau Langgun, where the pristine rainforest encircles a karst lake. Here guests can ascend on foot through the vibrant rainforest, enveloped by thousands of plants and animals, before trekking downhill to the hidden sanctuary of Tasik Langgun – a freshwater lake in the middle of the jungle. To end this extraordinary experience, the return cruise takes in the intriguing Gua Cerita (Cave of Legends) – mythical home of a giant phoenix, a captive princess and a deadly giantess.

Back at the resort, the newly launched Geopark Discovery Centre serves as an educational tool for guests and the local community to learn about the Geopark’s key attributes, from the most complete Paleozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia to labyrinthine mangroves, lush rainforests and unique animal and bird residents. Through a series of exhibition boards, interactive presentations and display cases, the resort’s naturalists guide guests through Langkawi’s natural environment. The Centre also inspires deeper exploration of local wonders, from the resort’s impressive rock-climbing outcrop to the animal-filled mangroves of the Kilim Karst Geoforest, as well as towering sea stacks and ancient salt-water lakes, linked to the sea by cave tunnels.


Four Seasons Resort Langkawi is a luxury Malaysian retreat in the Langkawi UNESCO Geopark, offering 90 pavilions and villas in tropical beachfront gardens, a family pool with private coves, plus a 55-m adult quiet pool, an expansive range of natural and outdoor pursuits and an immersive Geo Spa that draws on Langkawi’s natural healing energies. Dining options include three waterfront restaurants and the atmospheric Rhu Bar.

For reservations, contact Four Seasons Resort Langkawi at tel: (60) 4 950 8888 or email: [email protected] or visit


© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit,, and Blogging at Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at

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