Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pickles and Chocolate Pay The Rent

The latest craze for saving money in our whacko economy? Swap chocolate and other gourmet foods for services. That's my kinda new economy! Maybe I should offer a Red Hot Rate Special accepting my fave fair trade, dark chocolate as legal tender for the Florida vacation rental.

In case you missed the article in today's NY Times about this Brooklyn bartering, check it out here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Budget Travel: Renting self-catering, vacation rentals

Pssst. I've got a secret. Did you know you can stay in some the world's most beautiful and unique accommodations, located in the best neighborhoods and do it all for rock-bottom prices? Follow this link to read more

Friday, February 20, 2009

Vacation Rental Rate Specials

Red Hot Rate Specials Sedona. One month $900 Studio. March only.

Delray Beach, $799 March 7-14, 1/1 with pool.

Follow this link to email me for details.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dana's Five For February

1. Act Like A Local. Most libraries will let you check out DVDs, books and CDs even if you don't live in the town you're visiting. It may require a deposit, which is refundable at the end of your stay. Sedona Library requires a $50 deposit. If you pay property taxes on a timeshare, you can get a library card for free if you take your bill to library along with photo ID.

2. Read Share. If you read paperbacks or lots of books when you vacation, share them by leaving them at the vacation rental. Or list them on and leave them in cool places for other people to find. Book Crossing lets you track your book as it goes from reader to reader. I left a book in Times Square that is now in Russia, six readers later.

3. Check out the New Kindle.
It's pricey, but if you have to read multiple newspapers and magazines for work or if you're like me and want to take several books on your trip, the Kindle cuts down on luggage weight (it weighs only ##) and paper. You may be able to make up the cost by what you save on books. Most are only $9 to download.

4. Block out sound noise pollution from planes and traffic witha noise track from ITunes. An 80 minute download is only $10--cheaper than noise-canceling headphones or a sound machine and no extra equipment.

5. If you travel more than once a month, you may want to consider keeping two sets of toiletries. I leave my hanging toiletry bag packed and ready to go. No scrambling for small containers at the last minute or searching for a favorite lip balm. And if any of it gets lost or delayed when traveling, I have a backup at home.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Bugs

Happy Valentines Day!
Photos by Fran Palmeri at comcast dot net.

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Five Tips for Nurturing Trips

Travel practices tested enough to hold up to a deep greenie’s scrutiny and nurturing enough to hold up to a comfort-seeker’s good taste need to go beyond superficial suggestions. For me, they better keep green on the planet and in my wallet.

Travel represents one of the biggest ticket items in your annual spending and also offers the opportunity protect the planet and your loved ones. You vote with your dollars every day—supporting businesses that share your values—and you can do the same on vacation. More than ever before, it is possible to take a green vacation without compromising your lifestyle or your values.

If the idea of green travel gives you greenfatigue, take a vacation that supports your health and the health of the planet without all the guilt and marketing hype. The world of green travel is no longer limited to “eco” safaris, camping, and yurts. There’s an array of options from eco-cheap to deluxe, combining modern amenities and principles for social responsibility. World-class standards now come without the loss of local character and care. And here's how to spot them:

1. Avoid the Bird's Eye View. Take Staycations
2. Look for Truth in Travel
3. Small is the New Big
4. Expect a Sense of Place
5. Get Breathing Room

1. Avoid the Bird’s-Eye View.
On a staycation you can drive, take a bus or rail - not fly. One flight can produce as much carbon as an entire year of driving a Toyota Camry. This is one reason many travelers choose to vacation close to home, as opposed to jetting off to exotic destinations.

If you're driving from California, Utah, and Arizona--the Candlewood Bed and Breakfast Retreat in Clarkdale, AZ offers an ideal staycation with it's sweeping views of the Black Mountains and services to pamper--including massage and the opportunity to see, first-hand how going green does not have to compromise your lifestyle. Owners Rennie and Andrea went further than a light green amenities—they show true eco consciousness by protecting the natural landscape with permaculture and operating their meeting and guest rooms completely off the grid. Twenty years of walking their talk in the healing arts and architecture makes them the ideal hosts for a family eco holiday.

Stoneman Lake Lodge in Flagstaff is also completely off the grid and nestled away in a wilderness setting next to the national forest with a lake that draws wildlife for miles. With giant decks and spacious rooms, the lodge offers plenty of privacy. You may feel you have the run of the place yourself. Make sure to ask if the lake has water, some seasons in the desert it can dry up.

One has to look no further than the directory of Small Luxury Hotels or Andrew Harper’s Top Hideaways to find nurturing accommodations going green within driving distance of many major cities. Dr. Michael G. Matthews recently visited Paws Up, a ranch resort in Montana–posh enough to make both SLH and Harper’s lists and concerned about protecting the local economy and environment. “Kyle and I are cowboy types who do rugged, outdoor things but at the same time we're also all about luxury and being spoiled too. Paws Up offered the best of both worlds."

2. Truth in Travel. “Eco” destinations often do more harm to the local economy and environment than the good they do educating us about nature. And many hotels have jumped on the green bandwagon simply by posting signs for guest towel and water use programs. While compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can cut energy use, they alone do not a green lodging make. Plus the bulbs contain mercury, more of which we don’t need leaching out of landfills into the water supply.

The practices of many companies fall short of the images and claims and ultimately, are more about greenwashing than they are about responsibility. Truth seekers may need to look a little deeper to see what shade of green the travel vendor wears--the almighty dollar or true responsibility.

Ask what makes the lodging green. Responsible accommodations can usually demonstrate five or more ways that they reuse and recycle waste and reduce energy use and consumption. This is often called the “three Rs,” Reuse, Recycle, Reduce. An establishment that is serious about health and responsibility will have written policies, see a good example on my website or use the checklist from the National Geographic Society Office of Sustainable Tourism to pick out what’s important to you.

3. Small Is The New Big. Smaller footprints mean bigger savings, sometimes for you and definitely for Mother Earth. Think boutique hotel instead of a chain. Think vacation home instead of resort. Using the Internet to find an eco-friendly vacation rental turns up private home owners and vacation rental sites, including VRBO and Vacation Rentals 411. HomeAway offers guarantees for the properties listed—protecting renters from disreputable home owners, allowing you to go green with peace of mind.

4. Sense of Place. Deluxe can be predictably cookie-cutter, could-be-anywhere, with corporate furnishings and marble bathrooms. Look for lodging that offers genuine atmosphere without losing its connection to the environment and community— in the post-modern world, luxury goes local.

Los Poblanos Inn, in Albuquerque, New Mexico with its 25 acres of lavender and organic vegetable gardens, ponds, stone walkways, and flawless comforts is just one of many travel companies revising the standards of excellence upwards by including responsible practices.

The policy at Poblanos lists 12 practices demonstrating their commitment to “ecological consciousness,” including hosting a CSA (community supported agriculture). No surprise this destination tops many lists for the best B&B in Albuquerque and took Sunset Magazine’s Best of the West award and is one of my top five places to sleep, other than my own bed.

5. Breathing Room. Go green by staying in healthy homes and hotels that use green cleaning practices, provide RO (reverse osmosis) filtered water, and are designed with natural finishes and furnishings. One of the hottest amenities in hotels is “pure” rooms that are hypoallergenic. But you don’t have to have allergies to benefit. Indoor air is two times more polluted than outdoor air. It lurks in flame retardants in mattresses, upholstery, and electronics, and in carcinogenic and respiratory irritating VOCs (volatile organic compounds). It oozes formaldehyde out of drywall, plywood, and carpeting, and emits phthalates from products including shower curtains. These pollutants can cause nausea and dizziness or harm the liver and kidneys.

Even if you don’t have allergies, avoiding this stuff can only be a good idea. You can sleep soundly knowing the air and bedding is pure at places committed to health environments like Joie de Vivre hotels in California and EcoLuxury Lodging in Florida. Or check listings on the website Smoke Free Hotels.

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Eco Living In Idaho: Red Hot Real Estate

This piece of heaven is for sale. Listing price $1,250,000 USD for 2.01 acres including a 1 acre pond and canal.

Willowwood is a small green, two acre estate in Hailey—the gateway to Idaho wilderness areas with jagged mountain ranges, large pristine mountain lakes, rivers and creeks. National Geographic named Hailey one of the most desirable places for nature lovers and sportsmen to live in the US. The small town ambiance, proximity to the world famous ski and summer resort--Sun Valley, and walkability of the town helped it achieve the prestigious rating.

Willows line two streams that flow through the property and join in a pond at Willowwood. Lavender, Russian sage and daylilies line the approach to the house which was designed by Living Architecture, a local top Green Architectural firm.

Built in 2006 this home of exceptional quality is small and intelligent. The walls are twelve inches thick, plaster covered and painted with casein paint. The house radiates warmth from the large Rumford fireplace to the heated tile floors. Rooms have windows on most sides for natural light and air circulation.

Flower beds full of tumbling climbing vines and hummingbirds bloom all summer. A bridge goes over the pond, making it an ideal place to birdwatch for cranes fishing among the lilypads. Aqueduct water rights provide irrigation for the fields of wildflowers and a vegetable garden. A true sanctuary for nature lovers, this home is also close to excitement with art, theatre, sporting facilities and restaurants nearby.

For more photographs and details, email MARICICH at mindspring dot com.

Let's Get The U.S. Back To Work

If you haven't felt the effects of the 3.5 million jobs lost in this recession you've probably comforted someone who has. Just one million of those jobs were lost in the last two months. While it may not havethe perfect answers, is a means of taking immediate action to address the hemmoraging and the website will show us how the money is being used. If you haven't learned about the plan, please check it out at this link.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Vacation Rental Travel Deals

1/1 Beach front, Delray Beach, FL $799 March 14-21. Email us for details.

Vacation Home Owners: Want to see your rate specials here? We post deals on healthy vacation homes for FREE. Email us the details and we'll include them in the monthly postings OR just add your discount as a comment. Subject to approval, of course. This is a free service we offer our guests and healthy travel fans.

Casita Colibri Special Spring Spa Promo--Free Yoga and Pool, July - Sept 2009. Book by Feb 28 and get two passes to Los Abrigados Spa and Gym. Located on the banks of the OAk Creek, the resort offers daily yoga, pilates, and aerobics classes and has a state-of-the-art weight/workout gym, heated pool and jacuzzi, steamroom, sauna. Spa treatments additional. May not be used in combination with other promotional offers. Use code FEBSPA when making your reservation.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mainstream Green

The words luxury and green are "used so often no one knows what they mean," according to a yesterday's NY Post. The article offers ideas for teaching your kids responsibility without boring them to tears and seems to use similar content to our Easygoing Green policy. (Is that flattery?)

Unless you haven’t turned on an iPod, computer, TV, or radio in the past year, you’ve seen enough green terminology—“natural, fuel efficient, organic, conservation, human rights, sustainable, fairly traded, socially responsible”—to toss a Prius-sized salad. And who wouldn’t want to be green when that simply means breathing clean air, eating healthy food and sleeping in a toxin free environment? Certainly one only has to spend a few hours outdoors breathing the polluted air in Phoenix, LA, or Beijing to see why it matters.

Yet less than four percent of Americans know that coal fired power plants cause even more air pollution than automobiles. A 2008 EcoPulse survey found fully half the respondents couldn’t name one feature of a green home. While 83 percent of US consumers worry about climate change, 26 percent could not name one company that makes a green product. Most people from the Northern Hemisphere know Boston is famous for its clam chowder and Irish stew can be ordered in any good Irish pub around the world, but only one in 40 know the most common soup in the Pacific is plastic soup. Floating in the North Pacific is a sea of plastic soup almost one and a half times the size of the continental US. Often called the Pacific Garbage Patch, this five million square mile area is a graveyard for marine life.

What sources or criteria do you use to cut through the buzzwords like luxury or green?

This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.
Photo by Richard Burk

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Red Hot Rate Lovers: February Vacation Rental Deals

SEDONA Studio for $250 a week in March! Special, in -own location. No pets, no smoking. Rare opportunity. Email Dana for details.

Win a Free Weekend in Sunny Florida if you quit smoking. Be our guest on the waterfront in St. Augustine, FL just minutes from the beaches and historic district. Win a three day stay if you quit smoking in 2009. Don't smoke? Tell a friend who does and get them to take you on the vacation to celebrate their new health.To enter, just write to Dana about two things: 1. What you plan to do to replace the cigarettes and 2. Why you want to quit. Taxes and cleaning not included, based on availability.
Photo by Fran Palmeri

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

U.S Eco Travel

When people think of traveling in the United States, images of the Vegas strip, Hollywood glitz, and castles of Disneyland, and NY City come to mind. But there is more to offer than Rodeo Drive and Mickey Mouse and even more ways to save money and the planet while you see authentic America.

Florida – Forget Walt Disney World and all its gaudy glitz and glamour and check out Mother Nature. Florida is rich with crystal-clear springs for swimming and paddling, parks for bird watching, and sub-tropical wilderness to discover on the hiking trails. The “Real Florida” offers charming history in the “Oldest City,” St. Augustine—the oldest European settlement in the US. Forget the fake animals and check out the pink spoonbills, manatees and playful dolphins. Stay in a healthy vacation home like “The Riverview,” centrally located just minutes from all the sites, including parks and the beaches. The owners have a passion for art, community and the environment, a trio of passions that reveal themselves over and over again in this treehouse like two bedroom home set in a nature preserve on the Matanzas River.

Then head south to Palm Beach County where you can skip the bling and enjoy the real Florida at Peanut Island Park in the Lake Worth Lagoon of West Palm Beach. This site covers 86 acres and is accessible only by boat. You can snorkel safely in the lagoon which is teeming with colorful fish. Then pitch a tent on the beach in one of the designated camping spots or stay in an authentic Seminole Indian-style chickee huts.

In the south part of the county, check out the Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton which has a spring break camp for kids. The Nature Center is worth a visit anytime to see the rescued marine life, including endangered sea turtles.

Gamble with Vegas or head for Amazing Arizona. Stoneman Lake Eco Lodge, Arizona is set in five acres of pine woodland next to Stoneman Lake in the Coconino National Forest. The main room of the Lodge, The Great Hall is homey with comfy sofas and an old stone fireplace. The deck outside is the perfect setting for meals looking out over the lake. The lodge uses only solar and wind power for energy and was built using natural materials. Located near Flagstaff and Sedona, it makes an excellent retreat within driving distance of other sites.

Or have a spiritual awakening in the heart of the red rocks at Casita Colibri, Sedona, Arizona where you can walk to trails, vortexes and yoga studios. This healthy home is fragrance and smoke-free and greenovated with no VOC finishes and materials. The interior reflects the owners’ trio of passions for art, the environment and culture with many touches including sun-drenched colors and handmade furnishings.

Grand Canyon by Rail – Tour the southern rim of one of the Seven Wonders of the World by coach. Formed over millions of years by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon’s beauty and grandeur is impossible to explain so you need to go see it for yourself. The best time for viewing is at dawn or dusk when the hues of the red earth are at their best.

WildSpring Guest Habitat, Oregon – Set in a pristine forest beneath 100ft trees, this small eco-friendly luxurious resort overlooks the southern Oregon coast where you’ll be able to view Californian grey whales from the decking. Enjoy a dip in the open-air spa after a walk through the National Wildlife Federation certified habitat which is packed with historical sites and hiking trails.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Colorado saved 5,000 acres from high-density development. 16 cabins with heating and cooling developing only 1 percent of the land leaving the rest wild. 1-800-933-4339.

Discover the Sights by Rail - USA by Rail is a dedicated website for rail travel through the states. It’s a cheap and easy way to travel where you want to go and is kind to the environment too.