Suddenly the heat is on to come up with some ideas for that last-minute dash somewhere special to cool off, chill-out and just kick back before saying farewell to the long hot summer. The wandermelon staff has rounded up several favorites we think will leave fond and fabulous memories long after the tan has faded.
Go Deep In Maui
There is no place to cool off like Hawaii, and for those fortunate enough to find themselves in Maui this Labor Day, we suggest you make tracks to the Four Seasons Resort Wailea to experience the newly opened Serenity Pool. But first, calling this a “pool” is akin to calling Haleakala a “hill.” Management here decided years ago to create a 21-and over, adults-only oasis free of Marco Polo players, but heavy on amenities like poolside facials and massages, signature cocktails, gourmet cuisine, in-pool bubble loungers and Jacuzzis, and a wandermelon favorite–an underwater music system. The big kahunas here, however, are the six 160-square foot luxury cabanas featuring flat screen HDTVs with wireless headsets, Wifi, ceiling fans, mini-refrigerators stocked with Evian and fresh fruit, a laptop compatible safe, and other perks. Costing $9 million to build and covering over four thousand square feet, the Serenity Pool is the third saltwater pool on the property. None, however, can really compete with the Serenity Pool. With its isolated perch on a rise just steps from Wailea Beach, it offers possibly the best extra of all: unobstructed sunset vistas of the West Maui Mountains and the island of Lanai.
Get Festive in Santa Fe
Santa Fe’s appeal is timeless, especially this Labor Day, with America’s oldest capital city celebrating its 400th Anniversary over the weekend. Stay in the heart of the action at the historic Eldorado Hotel and Spa, featuring a sublime rooftop pool and hot tub for soaks under the stars. In between the free cooking demonstrations, dance performances and other activities that are part of the celebration, try to fit in a pampering spa treatment at the hotel’s Native American-influenced spa. Menu choices include delicious signature body treatments like an aloe, cucumber and yogurt wrap; a chili and honey rub; blue corn and Anasazi bean cleanse; or their chocolate mole mud wrap. Dine at the renowned Old House restaurant on property for fresh farm-to-table global cuisine jazzed up with the flavors of the Southwest and carefully prepared with French elan. For even more festivities, check out the Santa Fe Fiesta Labor Day Arts & Crafts festival, an incredible gathering of artists and treasures, set in Santa Fe Plaza downtown. Book two nights and get a third free at the adobe-style hotel whose rooms start at $199 over Labor Day. For reservations and information call 800-955-4455 and mention PROSTA for a “Super Saver” third free night.
Harvest Time in Napa
The end of summer doesn’t have to give you the blues, especially if you visit Napa, where the onset of autumn is all about whites and reds, as in crisp whites and big red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, which are being harvested now. Get your Napa on at Ladera Vineyards, an historic gem located high above the valley floor on Howell Mountain. Whether you’re weekending in Wine Country or day-tripping from the Bay Area, we recommend Ladera Vineyards for their excellent estate-grown wines as well as their several varietals of tours. The “Twilight Tour” is an inspired opportunity to experience one of Napa’s rare “ghost” wineries at night (a “ghost” winery isn’t haunted, necessarily. It’s a term used to describe legacy wineries dating from Napa’s early winemaking days of the late 19th and early 20th centuries). Guests have the chance to sample Ladera’s 2008 Sauvignon Blanc before exploring the 120-year-old winery and wine caves with their own lantern before arriving at the moonlit vineyards where Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon samplings await. If you want to play winemaker-for-a-day, check out the “Share the Crush” tours. This includes an insider’s tour of the winery, handpicking fruit in the vineyards, sorting, and tasting tank samples of Ladera’s signature wines at various levels of fermentation. It all finishes with a gourmet picnic enjoying Ladera’s top wines in their expansive gardens. The winery’s regular tours and tastings are yet another option: Tour & Tasting–$25; Tasting only–$15. Tour details: Twilight Ghost Tours–$50/person; Share The Crush Tours–start at $1,200 for groups of 4-6 people. All tours and tastings are by appointment only, winery is closed Sundays. Information: call 707-965-2445 or visit www.laderavineyards.com/tour.php
Move to the Music in Aspen
Although Aspen may best known for its snow capped mountains, summertime attracts savvy travelers seeking culture and adventure during the last days of summer. One of the biggest draws over the Labor Day holiday weekend is the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival held every summer in Snowmass Town Park. Soak in the spectacular beauty of the sun-filled Rocky Mountains while jamming to big-name bands like the Black Eyed Peas, Elvis Costello, and the Allman Brothers Band. The Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival runs Friday through Sunday, Sept. 4-6, in Snowmass Village. Tickets cost $54 for Friday and $74 for Saturday – Sunday and are available at the Belly Up box office, at jazzaspen.com, or by calling 866-527-8499. Condos are still available here or book a stay at the chic Little Nell in Aspen where rates start at $530.
Goofy & Gators in Central Florida
Families wanting to cap the summer with a memorable trip to the Magic Kingdom should head to Orlando. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, a mega hotel, sits between Epcot and the Disney theme parks—a giant playground in itself. Five pools grace the property—think grottos with waterfalls, waterslides, hot tubs, lap pools, gushing fountains—a veritable water park with DJ’s spinning in the tropical setting. A white sand beach calls for sandcastles and the new Mandarin Spa beckons mom and dad for some sybaritic quiet time. After navigating the theme parks or hitting your threshold for mini golf, a nature fix might be in order, so head to Kissimmee (an easy 35 minutes) for an airboat thrill ride through the everglades on a US Coast Guard-approved rig that holds 17 passengers. Glide upwards of 45 miles per hour through the wetlands, water channels, and swamps in search of gators, giant wading birds and turtles. Super adventurous types should opt for the night trip to watch the alligators stalk their prey. Book a trip with Boogy Creek Airboat Rides at Southpark. Adults are $24.95 and kids $18.95. The Swan and Dolphin Hotel has a sweet Labor Day special─$99 in ’09; 50 percent off typical rates. They require a three-night stay and charge an additional $10 nightly resort fee. This special runs from September 1-9th. Book here or call 888-828-8850.
More Family Fun in Virginia
For a family vacation filled with myriad activities, book a stay at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. This 496-room luxury hotel sprawls on 15,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains and offers unrivaled views of Virginia’s breathtaking countryside.The Jefferson pools at this historical resort are legendary–Thomas Jefferson and James Madison soaked in the hot springs’ mineral waters. Dining options range from gourmet to casual and the spa features a variety of rejuvenating treatments. Book the Homestead Unlimited Activity package for a play-filled stay. For only $275 per room, guests receive unlimited on-site activities, including top-ranked golf, canoeing, hiking, fly fishing, horseback riding paintball, carriage rides, and even skeet shooting. For more information, call 866-354-4653.
Back to the Farm in the Smoky Mountains
At Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, guests can enjoy living on the land in the lap of luxury surrounded by sylvan countryside, artisanal chefs, gardeners, bakers, cheese makers, forgers, butchers, jam ladies, chocolatiers, sommeliers and Southern hospitality at its best. It’s an ideal place to relax and enjoy the last of the summer wine before heading back to work. Here guests, including children, can enjoy miles of shaded biking and horse trails, a refreshing dip in the pool, or the relaxing comfort of a rocker on the veranda as the fireflies come out to play in the twilight. For sporty types, there is every kind of activity imaginable: fly fishing, sporting clays, mountain biking, camping, hiking, canoeing, hot air ballooning, motorcycling on a Harley Davidson, white water rafting, rock climbing and rappelling, tennis, golf, bird-watching, stargazing, as well as a full spa with yoga and massage. Currently, Blackberry Farm is offering guests the chance to Stay Friday and Saturday, get Thursday or Sunday night free. Valid for stays through December 22 (bookings must be made by September 30); 3-night minimum stay. There are also “Spur of the Moment” rates available if you contact the hotel directly: 800-648-2348. (As a wandermelon/Mr & Mrs Smith member, you can get a private picnic lunch for two either beside the creek or in a pavilion where the Harvest Festival hosts their annual open-air lunches.)
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