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Travel with Terri
Traveling and Sleeping: Where to Stay Around the World
By Terri Marshall
As you might imagine, a good portion of my year is spent traveling to domestic and international destinations. With all the sights on my must see list, I don’t have a lot of time for sleeping. But when I do sleep, the accommodations assume a role in my adventures. Some are luxurious, some cozy and some non-descript. Others are an adventure – like the cabin in the Jaguar Preserve deep in the jungle of Belize where I fought off insects, lay awake listening to the roar of unidentifiable creatures and where I had an unfortunate encounter with a compost toilet.
While the Jaguar Preserve was definitely memorable, I’m fairly certain most of you would not venture down that road. So here’s a round-up of some of my favorite accommodations from 2014 that you might enjoy.
Gecko Bungalow, Ladyville, Belize
Last Spring I embarked on a two week road trip to get to know the heart and soul of Belize with my friend, Vanessa. Gecko Bungalow proprietor, Michelle Lyons, met us at the airport with frozen libations making us instantly feel at home. Scott and Michelle Lyons moved to Belize from Idaho. They turned a former storage building into an adorable two bedroom bungalow with a Gecko theme because – well, Geckos live in Belize and you might as well embrace them. The fun colorful décor was delightful as were our hosts. Scott and Michelle love showing their guests around the area or giving “insider” tips for exploring like a local. Michelle even took us to a crocodile sanctuary where we fed chickens to the reptiles. www.geckobungalow.com
Pooks Hill Lodge, Cayo District, Belize
Deep in the Belizean rainforest shaded by ancient towering hardwoods and surrounded by a wealth of birds and wildlife, Pooks Hill Lodge is the perfect home base for exploring the Cayo District. Built in commune with its natural surroundings, this beautiful eco-lodge has comfortable, air-conditioned adobe cabanas. Sumptuous meals prepared by talented local chefs are served family style in the main lodge. The Bar at Pook’s Hill offers Belikin Beer (brewed in Belize), Stout, an assortment of wines and local and imported spirits. We helped ourselves to drinks using the bar’s honor system to keep track…a clipboard. After almost two weeks of road-tripping through Belize that included a myriad of insect bites, near misses with sheep and assorted other mishaps – including the aforementioned Jaguar Preserve – this place was a very welcome sight. www.pookshilllodge.com
Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City, Utah
In July I spent a week traveling by convertible through Utah’s National Parks with my BFF, Nancy. Our days were filled with dusty drives through stunning landscapes and hikes into canyons in the scorching midday temperatures. At night we looked for roadside motels with hot tubs to soak our weary hiking muscles. All were practical and basic so you can imagine our delight when we checked into our final accommodations – the five-star Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
The elegant 24 story white stone building stands in the shadow of the surrounding mountain ranges. Italian marble punctuated by gold leaf accents and crystal chandeliers fill the lobby and guest rooms. The hotel surrounds an inner courtyard with impeccably manicured gardens. The full service spa, indoor and outdoor pools and a hot tub far more elegant than those of our roadside motor lodges added to our luxurious road trip finale.
If you visit, don’t miss JouJou. This fantastic boutique features handcrafted toys for toddlers through teens. There are classic games and books, experimental play centers and vintage-inspired candies. JouJou is guaranteed to lure in kids from 1 to 99 and beyond. www.grandamerica.com
The Inn at Westwynd Farm, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
Tucked away on a lovely 32 acre equestrian farm just minutes from Hershey attractions, The Inn at Westwynd Farm offers a luxurious escape. Accented by beautiful antiques, the rooms are inviting and romantic. My boyfriend accompanied me on this trip so we kicked the romance up a notch with a cozy fireplace and in-room Jacuzzi. In the morning – after a delicious gourmet breakfast – we visited the barn to meet the furry residents. There were goats, alpacas, dogs and a friendly barn cat on hand. I made friends with a horse named Sassy. www.westwyndfarminn.com
Barnwell Inn, Cooperstown, New York
As home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown is the very definition of Americana. It is also a charming village filled with culture beyond baseball. I visited in autumn when the leaves were dressed in brilliant shades of red, gold and orange and the crowds from baseball season were gone. My hosts were as charming as the village itself. Southern born Mark and Tara Barnwell moved to Cooperstown and transformed a lovely Victorian home into a charming bed and breakfast. The Barnwell Inn is perfectly situated in a residential neighborhood within easy walking distance of the village center.
At the Barnwell Inn breakfast is an event you don’t want to miss. Mark’s culinary delights provide a delicious start to the day. Don’t skip the breakfasts desserts…fruit cobblers, bread puddings and more. Mark served a southern favorite while I was there – slow cooked grits. I was raised on grits and Mark’s were the best I’ve ever tasted. That’s high praise from a Southern girl. www.barnwellinn.com
Hotel Maya, Long Beach, California
Sometimes a hotel completely surprises me. The Hotel Maya is such a place. This stunning waterfront property located across the harbor from Downtown Long Beach feels more like an exotic Caribbean resort than an urban hotel. There are beachside bars, fire pits, a hookah lounge and a pool filled with floating chaises. All of this with views of the city skyline and the historic Queen Mary.
The hotel is filled with an authentic collection of artifacts and artwork blending the styles of California and Latin America. The lobby has a working dumbwaiter that delivers drinks from an upstairs bar. Long Beach prides itself on being a “beach with benefits” and one of those benefits is the Hotel Maya. www.hotelmayalongbeach.com
Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans
Historic, haunted Hotel Monteleone located on Royal Street is the perfect spot for French Quarter explorations. Just a block off the ever rowdy Bourbon Street, Hotel Monteleone offers an escape when you’re partying is done. Oh but don’t stop the party until you take a spin or three at the hotel’s Carousel Bar. The only revolving bar in New Orleans, the Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge was installed in 1949. The 25 seat circular bar rotates at a rate of one revolution every 15 minutes. Legend has it the original bar stools had no backs. The ladies would sit on the bar stools while gentlemen took their seats at the surrounding tables to ogle the ladies perched on the backless bar stools as they rotated on the carousel. As my lovely tour guide, Mary, so eloquently stated, “It was a Lazy Susan of sex.” www.hotelmonteleone.com
Westcord Hotel Delft, The Netherlands
When a hotel is located across the parking lot from the world’s IKEAConceptCenter it is not surprising to find a touch of IKEA style incorporated into the décor. But at Hotel Delft, it’s more than a touch. The entire interior of the hotel is designed by the furniture giant. The hotel lobby is a super-sized IKEA showroom filled with bright colors and funky light fixtures. The rooms are equally bright with perhaps the best use of space I’ve ever encountered in a hotel – hooks and storage everywhere. It was like sleeping in an IKEA bedroom display. This utterly cool hotel doesn’t quite match the cobblestone streets and romantic canals of the historic city center of Delft but that is part of its charm. And if you’re craving those IKEA Swedish meatballs, they’re just a parking lot away. www.westcordhotels.com/sea/Hotel-Delft
De L’Europe, Amsterdam
The moment I entered my room at Amsterdam’s landmark Hotel De L’Europe, I knew I was in trouble. I had a full itinerary waiting for me and all I wanted to do was stay…forever. The room was decorated in soothing shades of blue, a terrace overlooked the canals of Amsterdam, and a floor to ceiling marble bathroom with a claw foot tub beckoned. I was overwhelmed with the urge to sit down at the desk in the perfect little nook overlooking the city and start writing all those articles I needed to finish. But alas, I had to explore Amsterdam’s beer and dining scene. Yes, I do suffer.
De L’Europe is an iconic five star luxury property in the heart of the city. On site award winning Freddy’s Bar is frequently named as Amsterdam’s best hotel bar and was my final stop on my beer exploration quest, or so I thought. I returned to my room to find soft cozy slippers by my bed and a bucket of Heineken on ice. Now that’s turndown service. http://www.leurope.nl
Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor, Maryland
Recently the boyfriend and I needed a weekend away. We drove from New York to the NationalHarbor in Maryland for a couple of nights at the Gaylord National Resort. We checked in on Saturday and didn’t leave the property until Monday except to take a quick spin on the towering Capital Wheel – a 180-foot observation Ferris wheel on the Potomac River.
We didn’t need to leave, the resort had everything. We spent the afternoon at the spa, checked out the Fountain Shows in the 19-story atrium where water leaped 60 feet into the air, worked out at the comprehensive fitness center and took a dip in the Junior-Olympic-size pool.
The Old Hickory Steakhouse – one of three full-service restaurants on property – provided exceptional culinary options including an unforgettable cheese sampling guided by the Maitre d’Fromage. Sometimes the hotel is the destination. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasgn-gaylord-national-resort-and-convention-center/
Wherever your travels take you in 2015, I wish you sweet dreams. Happy New Year!
Terri is a New York City based writer who is happiest when she’s globetrotting. She is the Special Projects Editor for TravelSquire.com, the National Chocolate Examiner, the Globetrotting Grandmom for TravelingMom.com and a contributor to several other publications. Tough life, right? You can find more of Terri’s work along with tales of her adventures on the NYC subway on her website: www.trippingwithterri.com Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TrippingwithTerri and on Twitter @terrimarshall60
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