Posts filed under ‘Destinations’

Eco Tourism

3209857028_bfd4808319Photo of St. Paul Subterranean River, Palawan Philippines by Storm Crypt

What is Eco Tourism and how does it different from regular travel?

Obviously the “eco” part of the phrase gives you a clue that the trip will be focused on traveling to places that allow you to enjoy the planet.  But it is much more than that.

According to the definition and principles of ecotourism established by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, ecotourism is “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990).

This means traveling with the least possible environmental impact, and visiting places where you can enjoy yourself in an ethical, sustainable way. Believe it or not, there are a lot of amazing options for eco-tourists which do not include living in a tent and going without a shower for two weeks.

Every continent has options for individuals looking to explore without leaving a huge footprint.  The focus on eco-tourism is often as much about experiencing local culture as it is getting a spa treatment.

Ecotourism is growing more rapidly than any other aspect of the tourism industry with an annual growth rate of 5%.  Those who love to explore the planet are absolutely thrilled at the prospect of being able to do so without destroying it at the same time.  Here are some excellent resources for learning more about eco-tourism:

The International Ecotourism Society

The Nature Conservancy’s Eco Tourism Page

The Ecotourism Portal

Institute of Eco Tourism

March 30, 2009 at 3:15 am Leave a comment



Photo Credit:  Pete the Painter

March 26, 2009 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

Kashmir, Pakistan


Photo credit:  Julie Star

March 19, 2009 at 1:36 am Leave a comment

Eco-Tourism in Madagascar

March 15, 2009 at 1:50 am Leave a comment

Eze, France


Photo Credit:  **Mary**

March 13, 2009 at 1:31 am Leave a comment

Blue Palace Resort and Spa Video Tour

March 10, 2009 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Top Five Spas on Earth!

Everyone is under a lot of stress these days.  Sometimes we get so wound up that a weekend trip to the seaside isn’t going to cut it.  We need serious therapy that can only be offered by a professional spa.  Most of us have had the chance to getaway for a day to the spa for some pampering, but if you’re considering some major rejuvination, here is a list of the top ten spas around the world.  You’re guaranteed to come back from these locations with a whole new outlook on life:

1.  Chiva-Som, Hua Hin, Thailand 









Chiva Som is a luxury spa with a strong emphasis on health and wellness.  Their philosophy include holistic medicine and healing, as well as traditional pampering spa treatments.  Set on a glorious Thai beach, there are full accommodations in this self-containsd paradise.

2.  Maroma Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico









Considered one of the most romantic spas in the world, the Maroma sits in a jungle preserve in the heart of the Mexican caribbean, twenty miles south of Cancun.  You can stay isolated or if you start to get bored with all the pampering, head into the city to enjoy the nightlife.

3.  The Dolder Grand Resort, Zurich, Switzerland









Originally designed as a health spa in the 1800’s, The Dolder underwent a transformation as a world-class resort, but still has 43,000 square feet of spa area.  Nestled in the mountains in Switzerland, the views are breathtaking.

4.  Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat and Spa, Queensland, Australia












This eco-friendly spa in the heart of Australia’s gold coast emphasizes health with natural therapies, gourmet organic foods, soul-nuruting treatments and exercise.

5.  The Blue Palace Resort and Spa, Crete








Enjoy comforting Mediterranean inspired therapies heavily influenced by seaside living.  This pristine and soothing environment will put you at ease with its ocean views and simple interiors.





March 10, 2009 at 5:23 pm 1 comment

Speaking of Japanese Culture…

February 25, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Japanese Etiquette



Photo Credit:  Oyvid Solstad

American travelers are sometimes at a loss when they visit other cultures.  Our informal society means that it is not easy to offend people you don’t know; but in other parts of the world, there is protocol for almost every activity.  Failure to comport yourself in the right manner can show disrespect–something you want to avoid regardless of whether you are traveling for business or pleasure.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan,  there are many customs you  will want to observe in order to show appreciation and respect for Japanese hospitality:

1.  Great attention is paid to shoes and keeping floors clean.  When entering a Japanese house, your shoes are removed outside and a pair of indoor slippers are used.  Once inside the house, if you are going to step on a Tatami mat, you must also remove the slippers.  Also, if you use the restroom, there are another pair of slippers you must change into before you enter.  You should never step on both the bathroom floor and the rest of the house with the same slippers.

2.  When eating a meal, it is customary to say “itadakimasu” at the beginning, and “gochisosama” when the meal is completed.

3.  If eating a meal with shared dishes, use the opposite end of your chopsticks than the ones you feed yourself with to scoop a small amount of the food onto your own plate.  Hold your rice bowl with one hand and use the chopsticks to move rice in to your mouth.  Eat every bit of food you have taken, down to the last grain of rice.  

4.  Belching, toilet humor, blowing your nose, or talking obnoxiously loud during a meal is absolutely unacceptable.

5.  Whether at a meal or a business meeting, seating is arranged in a strict heirarchal manner.  Do not pick your own seat, but wait until the host has showed you where you should be seated.

6.  Gifts are highly appreciated in Japanese culture.  Any small token given to a business partner or host shows a great deal of thoughtfulness.

7.  The Japanese are superstitious about the number “four” since it is pronounced the same way as the word “death” in that language.  Avoid the number four whenever possible, including giving gifts that come in four pieces.

These are just a few of the things your want to consider when visiting this amazing country.  For more information on Japanese cultural etiquette, visit:

Customs and Etiquette of Japan – Wikipedia

New to Japan – Japan Zone

Japan Reference – JREF

Japanese Etiquette – Asia Rooms

February 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm 2 comments

Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Toronto


Photo credit:  Christopher Chan

1.  CN Tower

This structure defines the Toronto skyline.  At 1,815 feet, it is the second tallest free standing structure in the world only surpassed by the Burj Dubai.  Visitors can travel to the top for sightseeing and photography, or to dine in the 360 restaurant, a revolving fine dining experience that slowly turns allowing for a complete 360 view of Toronto.

2.  Black Creek Pioneer Village

The Black Creek Pioneer Village is a collection of authentically restored structures from the 19th century used to recreate a Victorian-era community complete with workers, craftsmen and other village inhabitants wearing period costumes and performing tasks like blacksmithing, printing, and bread-making as it was done in the 1860’s.

3.  Art Gallery of Ontario

One of the largest art museums in North America, the AGO is approximately half a million square feet with more than 68,000 pieces in the collection ranging in age from 100 AD to 2009 AD.

4.  Casa Loma

A European style castle built in 1913 by Sir Henry Pellatt, it has 98 rooms, 2 towers, secret panels, and other cool features like a giant pipe organ, a 60-foot-high ceiling in its Great Hall, and 5-acres of estate gardens.

5.  Fort York

This historic location is the site where the British founded Toronto in the year 1793 and is the location of the famous Battle of York during the War of 1812.  It has original 19th century structures, exhibits, and seasonal historical reenactments.

6.  Kensington Market

A European-style market featuring unique shopping in outdoor stalls, vintage shops, and wares from around the world.  It is alive with color, aroma, music and life–a wonderful place to take photos!

7.  Toronto Zoo

One of North America’s finest zoos, the Toronto Zoo boasts 5000 animals and over six miles of walking trails.  Well over a million visitors enjoy the zoo each year.

8.  St. James Cathedral

Angelican church  has the tallest steeple in Canada, it has beautiful architecture and a rich history.

9.  Textile Museum of Canada

With more than 12,000 objects from 200 countries, the Textile Museum of Canada is a stunning collection of fabrics, garments, carpets, and other textile-related artifacts.

10.  Hockey Hall of Fame

Even non-hockey fans will get into the spirit when they pay a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  There are fun, interactive exhibits as well as authentic memorabilia to help get you up to speed on Canada’s favorite sport.

February 15, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

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