Tags: Zeppelin | N

Luxe Travel: Zeppelin Flights, 12th Century Tuscan Castle, Mystical Retreat in Costa Rica

Thursday, 28 Aug 2008 03:30 PM

By Karen T. Bartlett

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  • Charter a Zeppelin Flight Over Germany

  • Feast in a 12th Century Tuscan Castello

  • Argentina’s Romantic Wine Lodge

  • Aphrodisiac Tasting in Barbados

  • Take a Mystical Sojourn in Costa Rica


    Zeppelin Flights

    Imagine gliding in an airship 1,000 feet over some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. Perfect silence, and perfect visibility, because it only flies in perfect weather. Just you and 11 fellow passengers (none under 2 years old to mar the silence) in a first-class lounge setting.

    Want to impress your friends with breathtaking vacation photos? The Zeppelin has a special window built just for unobstructed aerial photography.

    The airship, by Germany-based Zeppelin N, flies at about 40 miles per hour. It’s already popular for tours over Germany and Japan, and has industrial flights in southern Africa. This month, the company got FAA approval to begin U.S. Zeppelin tours.

    The best tour glide is the two-hour Rhine Falls Schaffhausen (Germany) flight, with bird's-eye views of castle ruins, the spectacular falls, Lake Constance, medieval towns, an open-air museum of re-constructed Stone Age and Bronze Age dwellings, and the flower island of Mainau.

    A single ticket is about $1,100. Or, you and 11 of your closest friends can charter your own all-day ultimate zeppelin experience, champagne and lunch included, for about $5,500. Fly over to www.zeppelin-nt.de.

    Tuscan Extravagance

    Engage all your senses with the 7Cs, a decadent 3-night weekend Oct. 16-19 at the sumptuous Castello del Nero Hotel and Spa in the heart of Tuscany. The Castello is authentic, dating back to the 12th century, restored to movie-set perfection. The seven Cs, of course, are Champagne, Caviar, Chianti, Cheese, Cognac, Cigars, and Chocolate.

    Actually, a good part of the alphabet is included in your weekend: “G” is for posh Gala; “P” for spa pampering; “H” for a helicopter tour; “E” is for elbow-rubbing with famous food and wine personalities and “S” for your choice of super-car (Bugatti, Maserati, Lamborghini et al.) during the weekend.

    The exclusive October weekend was designed by Italy’s Finest, a unique, insider’s tour packager that combines super-luxe accommodations with decadent food and wine. There’s usually a world-class celebrity involved, as well as personal use of a fast sports car.

    7C’s is the last of their six extremely exclusive packaged trips for 2008. No published price yet because they’re still negotiating intensely for your caviar. You also can custom-design your own beyond-sensational Italian experience on their Wish List page at www.italysfinest.com.

    Romantic Wine Lodge in Argentina

    Mendoza, just west of Buenos Aires, is the center of Argentina’s wine country, with more than 900 vineyards. The one you will want to sleep in, and never, ever leave, is the Cavas Wine Lodge, a Relais & Châteaux retreat in a 35-acre vineyard at the foot of the snow-capped Andes Mountains.

    Not stuffy but extravagantly chic, the interiors are infused with natural light playing on creamy adobe walls and bright textiles. The architecture is pure romance, with grand-scale arches and stunning use of stonework on the floors, hearths, and baths.

    The price of all this romance? About $1,500 a night gets you a luxurious corner room, including tax, with private pool, outdoor shower, and terrace with fireplace. It also includes the 2 ½ hour signature wine therapy spa treatment for the two of you.

    Your wine therapy experience includes a crushed grape seed scrub, a bubbling red wine soak, a wine-yeast body wrap, and a grape seed oil massage.

    If you can tear your eyes away from the stunning peaks of the Andes, you’ll find the Mendoza area rich with artists’ ateliers and scores of picturesque vineyards, most gloriously enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle or on horseback. The Web site alone is intoxicating: www.cavaswinelodge.com.

    Aphrodisiac Tasting in Barbados

    Oct. 3-11 is a delicious time to be on the Caribbean isle of Barbados.

    That’s the date for Taste of Barbados, when world-class Bajan and international chefs will be cooking up events like “Best Big Bajan BBQ,” “Sunset High Tea Party,” “18th Century Feast,” and “Just Desserts” at hotels and sites throughout the island.

    Ticket prices for the events announced to-date range from $50-$200. Lovers won’t want to miss the $100-a-ticket Aphrodisiac Tasting. No details published yet, except the tantalizing rule that guests must be over 18.

    Barbados is worth the visit without the pastries and aphrodisiacs. Besides sugary beaches, there are the sugar cane plantations and the coconut groves, and of course polo, an upper crust tradition since the 1880s.

    The place to stay is the drenched-in-elegance Coral Reef Club, a family-owned 12-acre estate on Barbados' calm west coast. The West Indian-style fretwork, balustrades, plantation shutters, wrought iron, and manicured gardens are yummy enough to eat, and the service is divine.

    Feeling privileged? You’ll want the Luxury Plantation Suite, with its sea views, covered terrace, open sundeck, and private pool, not to mention the four-poster canopied feather bead with Egyptian cotton linens and fresh flowers. The cost of $1,400 a night includes accommodation, complimentary “starter bar,” breakfasts, and dinners for two.

    Whet your appetite at www.coralreefbarbados.com.

    Mystical Sojourn Retreat in Costa Rica

    Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, at the base of Costa Rica’s fiery Arenal volcano, went posh last year with a massive renovation. Its spa was proclaimed one of the world's best by Travel & Leisure, and Luxury Spa Finder anointed it the “favorite spa in Central America.”

    And now it’s gone mystical, in its natural rainforest setting with hot spring lagoons, thermal pools, and waterfalls. Mark October 19-23 on your calendar for a spirituality-based wellness program.

    Acclaimed spiritual yoga instructor MeShall of Mystical Sojourn Retreats (who also is a wellness consultant for the Ritz-Carlton) will lead you to mindfulness and serenity with Temazcal rituals in traditional Mexican sweat lodges. They're the only ones in the world, they say, which are embedded in the empowering energy of an active volcano.

    MeShall, along with Tabacón resident Shaman-Master Tonatiuh, will guide you through chakra-opening rituals, guided meditations, the Five Tibetan Rites and Angel Yoga, and help you connect with the presence of angels.

    Meanwhile, the resort’s luxurious pampering services will help you unwind, unblock and elevate the senses.

    No, you won’t be sleeping on lava rocks. The five-star Tabacón resort is everything you’d expect from a member of Leading Hotels of the World. Your four-night mystical experience, which includes all meals, is $1,500.

    To combine romance with rejuvenation anytime, book the Honeymoon Suite (about $500 depending on dates). Meditate on the magic at www.tabacon.com.

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