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We recently checked out Alto de Chavon, the 16th Century *replica* Tuscan village on the high cliffs above the Chavon river in the beautiful South East coast of the Dominican Republic. Alto de Chavon is flush with everything from wonderful shops, 5 star restaurants, cafes, a beautiful amphiteater and views that you will never get tired of. This village is tucked away in the area known as Casa de Campo - a private "neighborhood" of about 200 b-e-a-utiful homes, condos, and villas with polo fields, golf courses, horse pastures, and water features sprinkled throughout. It is so choice that the cell/satellite antennas in the community are made too look like trees.
All visitors have to pay an entrance fee to enter Casa de Campo, but we know how to get in for free. Tweet this post by clicking here (or below) and we'll let you in on our secret.
(All photos were taken with our iPhone on a breezy afternoon last week.)
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Dominican Republic, February 2013
By Travel + Leisure Staff Appeared as "25 Secret Island Escapes" in T+L Magazine
Hollywood scouts were on to something when they skipped over Mykonos and chose a secret island in Greece as the location for Mamma Mia. The movie was a $600-million hit, in part because it fueled peoples’ fantasies of escaping to a secluded island (and yes, those catchy ABBA tunes didn’t hurt). Surprisingly, that picture-perfect movie location, Skopelos, has stayed under the radar. When you hop off the ferry, you’ll be wowed by the view of the shimmering Aegean Sea, the island’s tile-roofed tavernas, and a decided lack of travelers.
There are still gems like Skopelos hidden all around the globe, if you know where to look. T+L editors have done the hunting for you to uncover secret islands where you can truly unwind, from the rugged Chilean spot that inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe to a tiny island in the Caribbean that was virtually deserted for decades until a luxe resort opened in 2010.
Similar high-end resorts have been popping up across Southeast Asia, where many islands are vying to be the next Phuket. So those looking to get far off the grid head to Con Dao, an archipelago 110 miles off Vietnam’s southeastern coast. Sheer granite cliffs border deserted beaches and crystal-blue water, and a private guide can lead you by motorbike to remote spots like the spectacular Dam Tre Bay lagoon.
Diving enthusiasts should opt instead for the secret island of Mabul, off the northeastern coast of Malaysia, where the marine life is on a par with the Galapagos. Even better, the native sea moths, bobtail squids, and elusive paintpot cuttlefish are some of the only inhabitants.
Travelers looking to commune with nature can also find solitude on Nicaragua’s acre-wide Jicaro Island on freshwater Lake Nicaragua. The nine casitas at Jicaro Island Ecolodge were built from storm-felled trees, and all the food is locally sourced; you can sip a passion-fruit-banana cocktail as you sit by the infinity pool.
Prefer something closer to home? On Washington’s Lummi Island, a nine-square-mile oasis on Puget Sound, you can sample the region’s bounty (net-caught salmon, spot prawns) while watching orcas ply the waters.
Whatever your daydream, you’ll find a destination to match by checking out our slideshow of secret islands around the world.
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(Photo by BURNBLUE)
We all feel it - the busy and fast pace of summer is finally calming down with fall on the horizon. The water skis and wake boards are getting hung up. The summer party blitz of weddings and graduations are slowing down. Coronas and Landsharks are taking up less real estate at the grocers. And the lackadaisical feeling that accompanies crisp afternoons of college football is spreading faster than a cold in a kindergarten class. But who says that the celebrations need to stop completely? ...I guess no one says that. Soooo, why not grab a handful of your close friends who you actually enjoy spending quality time with and throw a fall celebration. What makes the perfect fall party? Here are a few suggestions to get those Autumn vibes flowin':
- Pumpkin carving - try turning this into some type of contest even. (click here for some cool patterns)
- Seasonal biers and ales - so many options. (click here for a list of the "Top 10 Fall Beers")
- Hot Cider (hard and/or non-alcoholic)
- Bonefire with s'mores
- Toasted Pumpkin seeds - use the ones from the pumpkins you carved. (recipe here)
- Chili or soup "pot-luck" - get creative, but keep it simple...i.e. don't kill yourself making this, let the guests help or bring their own.
- ANOTHER GREAT IDEA - Have all guests bring toys around $10 worth of kids toys to put together and wrap gift boxes for less fortunate kids around the holiday time. Operation Christmas Child is a great venue to do this with, but I am sure ther are some other charities as well that are just as good.
Below is the invite email I used...feel free to copy & paste to save yourself the trouble of word-smithing your own.
Righteous Broheims and Muchachas,
We have decided on a firm tentative Saturday, [INSERT DATE] for the first annual Autumn Festivus. Activities include (but are not limited to):
- Pumpkin Carving - BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin)
- Chili - we will be making some, and feel free to bring a crock of your own for some variety
- Seasonal biers and ales
- Hot cider - both "hard" and non-alcoholic; we will experiment with different ones
- Bonfire and s'mores to wrap up the evening (or just get it started, depending on your disposition)
- Great fellowship with friends - old and new.
Feel free to contribute in any of the above areas in whichever ways your heart desires (food, drink, balloon animals, carving tools, etc). Bringing a date is not necessary, however one will not be provided for you if you chose not to bring one. You may also invite friends - no nerds though. We are thinking of kicking off around 5:30pm-ish at my house...feel free to forward.
As always - flannel is not only welcome, it is encouraged.
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