Rest Easy

Author: , April 14th, 2014

We all know those iconic Vermont images like covered bridges, maple syrup and world-class skiing, but what about sophisticated resorts for primping, pampering and eating your way to complete relaxation? I bet that isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, is it? You’ll be happy to know that you can find just what you’re looking for at the fantastic Essex Resort and Spa.

Photo courtesy of Essex Resort and Spa

Snuggled between the Green Mountains and stunning Lake Champlain is Vermont’s only AAA 4 Diamond Culinary Resort. The 18-acre campus has everything you need to unwind, relax, enjoy nature and indulge in delectable cuisine, no matter what time of the year.

My partner and I decided to take a little stay-cation to the Resort – a get away in the middle of February to warm up our Winter-weary bones—saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and massage tables—it sounded glorious. With the winter we had in the Northeast, we felt we deserved it!

The Essex Resort is as progressive as the State it resides in. At the main entrance, we were showered with welcome greetings in many different languages. We couldn’t help but notice the rainbow flag and Human Rights Campaign logo proudly displayed, as well. The staff was just as welcoming.

Like many gay and lesbian couples, our dog is like a child to us. Whenever possible, we try to bring him along on trips. With a little extra charge, the Essex Resort had no problem with our canine companion. They even supplied a little welcome gift for him with a travel bowl, a rope toy Frisbee, and house-made dog treats. That was only the tip of the iceberg of the level of service you can expect at the Resort.

Our room was large, with huge windows overlooking a tree that had been wrapped in white lights, bringing a soft glow to our room in the evening. The bed was just right – soft but not too soft – with more pillows than we knew what to do with. Truth be told, it made thoughts of anything but long, luxurious naps difficult… We rallied, though, because there was no way we were going to miss out on everything the resort had to offer.

There is so much to do at the Essex Resort that with our two-day stay we felt we had to concentrate on one aspect of the services offered. While there are cooking classes that sounded fantastic–they offered a Paella class during our stay – we decided that on this particular trip we would concentrate on the indulgence of the incredible in-house spa.

There are tons of choices for treatments at the spa. Just by staying at the resort you have access to the 25-yard indoor pool (with an additional outdoor pool for the warmer months), an oversized outdoor hot tub, sauna, steam room and fitness center. The first night that we got there, we decided to take a swim in the pool. Though it was bone chilling outside, we braved the cold to sample the outdoor hot tub. We lounged comfortably, not even realizing our wet hair was freezing up! Once we were ready to go back inside our warmed bodies couldn’t even feel the frosty air against them.

The Essex Resort has two onsite restaurants. We chose to eat at the Tavern (a traditional pub-style restaurant with a vibrant bar scene), rather than the more sophisticated dining experience of Amuse. Both restaurants are part of the Vermont Fresh Network, so you can expect amazing locally sourced meals. The Tavern was so delicious that we went back for breakfast the next morning. It was just what we needed: low key, great food and wonderful service.

The next morning, before breakfast, we got up early to walk our dog and enjoy the crystal blue skies and white landscape that makes February so special. We couldn’t wait for 10:30am to arrive, so we could begin our spa treatments. I chose an 80-minute massage that began with a steam, a sauna, and a shower (with a rain shower head – my new obsession, by the way). An indulgence, indeed… but austerity has never been my cup of tea… Comfortable with a copy of US Magazine and a cozy terry cloth robe, I had a short wait in front of a roaring fire before my massage therapist brought me upstairs for the treatment. It was a delightful experience; we chatted just enough, she used just the right amount of pressure, and the requisite world music was sufficient to wash away my cares.

My partner, coming off of months of his busy work season, decided to really splurge with a package deal. His choice was the two-hour Pure Relaxation: a 30-minute deep soak; a 30-minute muscle melt, consisting of a warm body wrap to relieve sore, tired muscles and joints with a healing blend of herbs, mints, and grains mixed with aloe vera and a stimulating application of Sport Massage Cream. It was finished off with a 60-minute aromatherapy massage.

As I was finishing my massage and being escorted to the lounge, my massage therapist pointed out the aroma in the hallway: “Can you smell that?” she said. It was an invigorating perfume of eucalyptus and other products. “That’s your partner’s muscle melt.” If I hadn’t been completely relaxed from my wonderful massage, I probably would have felt some envy. As it was, I was too blissed out to be anything but happy that he was getting his much needed pampering.

I relaxed in the lounge for a few minutes until he was done with his spa treatments. Then, we were served a delicious, light lunch, which we’d ordered earlier. It was the perfect ending to our spa day.

After a lazy stroll with the dog on the bike path across from the resort, we decided that we need a little retail therapy. Not even a half-mile down the road from the resort is the Essex Outlets. While it may not have the largest assortment of stores, it has some great ones like Polo Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, and Orvis. We spent our hard-earned money in a few stores and thought about a movie at the adjacent Essex Cinemas, with stadium seating and the largest screen in Vermont. Instead, we decided to go back to our room for that much needed afternoon nap… in our king sized, insanely pillowed bed. Pure heaven.

By the time we were ready to check out, all three of us were perfectly relaxed, thoroughly warmed and comfortably satiated. The Essex Resort provided a charming experience. While far from inexpensive, it was certainly worth it. Vermont truly offers so much more than what you may imagine.

Blossoms in the Hood River Valley, Oregon

Author: , April 6th, 2014

09may23-2-300x225We get this question a lot in the spring.  Because who wouldn’t want to celebrate spring in one of the largest fruit growing regions in our Nation?  Over 15,000 acres of fruit trees, that’s over 2 million trees, putting on a show over a three or four week span with Mt Hood dressed in its spring best as a backdrop.

You see, the Hood River Valley is about 20 miles long, spanning from majestic Mt Hood and the Upper Hood River Valley where Parkdale and the Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast is located, north to the town of Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge. The three tiered Hood River Valley rises from 90 feet above sea level in Hood River to over 2500′ in the Upper Hood River valley, so we can have upwards of a three, sometimes 4 week span of bloom, Hood River Blooming first and those in the Upper Valley later.

So to answer your question:  When planning your spring visit to the Old Parkdale Inn I advise our guests to visit around the first of May when the Inn, which sits at an elevation of 1750′, is surrounded by acres and acres of awesomeness.   You’ll find answers to your questions on our AskOPI FAQ page on Facebook.

Our Sensual Spring Mid Week Special runs through May and we still have rooms available for Blossom Fest, a three week celebration in the Hood River Valley.  Family fruit stands reopen.  Wineries feature new wines.  First annual Hard Pressed Cider Fest and of course the main event: Blossoms

Purple Roofs Guest Blogger:  Mary Pellegrini, owner/innkeeper at the Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Upper Hood River Valley, Oregon.  We are about an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon, a scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley to our B&B at the base of Oregon’s tallest mountain, majestic Mt Hood.

A BFB, that’s what we are! That’s Bike Friendly Business

Author: , March 15th, 2014

Oregon is becoming a top destination for cyclists, both off road and road biking, touring or simply day trippers.

Travel Oregon, the states leader in tourism, had created a program, Bike Friendly Business, to go along with the State’s Ride Oregon campaign.  When cycling through and around Oregon Bike Friendly Businesses are committed to welcoming cyclists, offer amenities riders may need and have officially been recognized by the state.

Travel-Oregon-Bike-Friendly-graphic-no-iconsBike the Columbia River Gorge, the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, the Willamette Valley and have a comfy bed and and hearty breakfast at an bed and breakfast along the way.  A Bed and Breakfast offers so much more than a hotel.  Oregon innkeepers know the best back roads, the best places to eat, the scenic attractions you won’t want to miss.  You determine how far you want to go in one day.  The whole adventure is about 200 miles and you’ll discover why those arriving in Oregon on the Oregon Trail called this place “paradise” and our inn the Old Parkdale Inn would be the halfway point for this tour.  Don’t necessarily want to tour?  No problem.  We invite you to explore the many backroads of the Hood River Valley.

As a participating business we need to adhere to program requirements and recommendations.
~ as a lodging partner we must provide a secure area to store bikes
~ serve up a hearty hi-carb breakfast with larger than life servings of fruits and vegetables
~ be able to share local knowledge about where visitors can find bike shops, bike maps, good places to ride, and where to pick up a bike rental
~ our guest rooms have oulets and power strips to plug in and re-charge phone and laptops safely and we have free WiFi connection in the house and out in the garden ~ provide laundry service ~ assist in shipping home any treasures you might find while touring the Hood River Valley on the Fruit Loop

Purple Roofs Guest Blogger:  Mary Pellegrini, owner/innkeeper at the Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Upper Hood River Valley, Oregon.  We are about an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon, a scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley to our B&B at the base of Oregon’s tallest mountain, majestic Mt Hood.

A World of Gay Travel Options for the Spring and Summer

Author: , March 15th, 2014

BeachIn 1983, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) began with just a handful of LGBT travel agents and hotel owners. Their goal then was to provide community members with information about friendly and affirming travel destinations and options. A testament to their work is the dramatic increase they’ve seen in LGBT-friendly travel across the globe. Today, they have partners and connections in more than 75 countries.

“The growth has really been tremendous,” says LoAnn Halden, IGLTA’s media relations director. “Certainly, there’s been more focus on LGBT travel in the last 10 years and in the last five years it has increased dramatically. We are finding many more LGBT-friendly destinations. We’ve been having conversations with more than 100 tourism boards, either at the country level or city level.”

Concerns about safe and friendly travel are particularly important for LGBT people. And, that’s as much true for international travel as it is domestically. “For LGBT travelers, the most important thing is you want to be traveling in a way that makes you feel safe and welcome, whether choice of travel that might be,” says Halden.

Authored By Matt Comer – See the Full Story at QNotes

Click here for gay travel resources.

Five Things to Do This Spring in San Francisco

Author: , March 12th, 2014

Coit Tower, San FranciscoSpring is just around the corner in San Francisco, so break out your muscle shirts, short shorts and shades–because this fair city boasts sunnier, warmer weather than most of the east coast with less humidity–the perfect climate for gallivanting outdoors.

So whether you’re looking for a dizzying, aromatic spread of rainbow-colored blooms, a festoon of floral prints for your wardrobe, or simply want to show off those new short shorts at an open-air street fair, we’ve got you covered with our top 5 to-dos for March:

1. Sniff It: (The flowers, we mean.) We promised flowers–and you got ’em. Check out these flower-themed celebrations, exhibits and events happening across the city: An annual favorite in San Francisco, Macy’s Flower Show (Macy’s Union Square – Sunday, Mar. 23 – Sunday, Apr. 6) showcases “the rejuvenating power of the season,” featuring special events, music, cooking and more. Check out their website for a full list of events.

Authored By Gabe Cooper – See the Full Story at Gay Cities

Click here for gay travel resources in San Francisco.

Where to Spend Your Gay Spring Break

Author: , March 6th, 2014

BeachBoys, babes, sun, surf and drinks that come by the foot. Spring Break recaptures all the passion of our ancestors’ vernal rites, but with a whole lot more skin. In the past, gays and lesbians had trouble finding their place in the sun, and as fun as it is seeing if the old joke about the difference between a straight boy and a gay boy being about six beers is actually true, Spring Break’s finally gone homo in a big way.

Here are the top five spots we wish we had on our calendars every week this month…

Key West

The Scene: The biggest national gay Spring Break destination, Key West offers all the booze, boys and morning-after hangovers of regular Spring Break, but with a far greater hook-up potential.

Authored By Gabe Cooper – See the Full Story at Queerty

Click here for gay travel resources.

Five Warm Weather Getaways for April

Author: , March 1st, 2014

Hawaii BeachWe’ve got something to lift your spirits today: As we move into spring break season, resorts throughout the Caribbean and eastern Mexico are likely to be either booked solid, or selling at a premium. Come April and early May, however, we’ll start to see those prices go down. For an early spring getaway, plan on kicking back on a remote island in South Carolina, St. Croix, or enjoying a stay at one of New Orleans’ most historic hotels.

Edisto Island, SC

With round-trip flights to Charleston at a seasonal low of $315 (from NYC and Chicago) in mid-April, this sunny southern port town is perfect for a visit right now. Located an hour west of the city is peaceful Edisto Island, characterized by wild marshes, pristine beaches, and, the 4000-acre Botany Bay Plantation, a favorite among nature lovers.

April and especially May are the perfect months to get a feel for this unspoiled coastal town, which has a series of local events taking place, ranging from the Lowcoutry Classic High School Golf Tournament (April 4-6), an Arts and Crafts Show (April 19), and, later on in May, the Edisto Day Bazzar (May 3).

Authored By Alex Schechter – See the Full Story at Sherman’s Travel

Click here for gay travel resources.