Summer camp and family vacations can be amazing adventures — if you plan outside the box. Where to begin? How about the coolest family Japan trip ever . . . or for the kids, some over-the-top summer camps that your kids will thank you for and provide lasting memories.
Family Tour — in Japan!
Imagine the response when you say, "Hey kids; we’re going to Japan." Here’s what’s in store: trendy teen shopping in Tokyo, (clothes, manga and gadget shops) dining at a restaurant popular with sumo wrestlers, and theme parks galore. A visit to the Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island to see the monkeys, and an enormous red Shinto shrine gate that rises from the sea. A tour of the amazing medieval castle, Himeji-jo, and a tour of an enormous bamboo forest.
Don't miss the theme park where samurai films are made.
The top-tier inns and hotels and amazing Japanese food go without saying. 10 days: $12,065 per person for a family of four. Check the itinerary at www.artisansofleisure.com/tour/Japan_tours_luxury_travel_5Family.php.
American Idol Camp
Attention all future contestants for "American Idol," ages 10-15: Start planning now for your intensive two-week 2009 American Idol performing arts summer camp.
Tucked away on a private campus in California’s San Bernardino Mountains, this is the place to hone your audition and performance techniques. Singers and dancers, as well as aspiring songwriters, video producers and set designers will join master classes featuring guest artists such as favorite former American Idol contestants, recording artists and other top industry professionals.
Applicants are selected for the camp based on their passion and desire for personal growth. The grand finale is, of course, a full-scale final performance. Early applications for 2009 will be accepted through January 15, and the deadline for regular applications is in mid March. 2008 Tuition was $2995. Send for 2009 application at www.idolcamp.com.
Rock Stars and Secret Agents Train Here
While you’re waiting to become an idol, sign up for Rock Star Camp, where you’ll write, record, and produce your own song, perform it before the entire camp and take home a DVD of the concert.
If your career plans run more to spies and top-secret missions, check out Secret Agent Camp, where you will scale walls, defy gravity, launch stinkbombs, learn martial arts and fire upon suspects, suspicious characters, and counselors. Actually, it’s all about paintball, paintball, and more paintball. No camp in the universe has more paintball packed into 14 exciting days. But wait, there’s more.
Extreme Action Adventure Camp is a dirt-filled, adrenaline-pumped, action-packed camp that even moms approve. Besides paintball, the X-games include bungee trampolines, extreme ATV racing, wall scaling, ropes courses, go karting, parasailing and mini-bike racing. No letter home will begin with, "I’m bored." Girly girls, check out the Spa Princess camp. Two weeks: $2,995; four weeks: $5,750. See all these and more at www.paliadventures.com.
The Other Italy
Forget trendy Tuscany — savvy travelers to Italy are seeking out the luxe hideaways away from the summer crowds. One of those secret places is Rosa Alpina Hotel and Spa, 5,080 feet in the clouds in the small Northern Italian alpine village of San Cassiano in the Dolomites.
Three generations of the Pizzinini family have hosted guests to their warmly sophisticated hotel, with its lush green lawns, peaceful Daniela Steiner spa, world-class dining (including the Michelin two-star St. Hubertis) and sumptuously appointed rooms with fine art and creamy linens, with columns, warm woods and marble. Daniela Steiner, wife of the owner, provides spa services for some of Europe’s finest spas, including the Ritz in Paris.
Besides the electrifying views of the Alps, there is summer hiking, horseback riding, helicopter tours, and golf. In winter, of course, skiing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides. Best suites in the house: La Tor and Sonnwend, $895 (summer)-$1,126 (winter). Luxe photos and more at www.rosaalpina.it.
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