Category Archives: Lodging

Smokey the Bear and Tibetan Monks? I Must be in Boulder (Utah)…

UTAH: Boulder fence and shadow

Boulder, Utah will never be confused with the bigger Boulder (that would be the more substantial map dot in Colorado), but we found it to be a charming stop on our journey through southern Utah. Renegade cows, a Russian waitress, Tibetan Monks and Smokey the Bear all combined to make it a memorable over-night stay.

UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; Before the Hail
We arrived late in the afternoon, damp and mud-splattered (courtesy of Bryce Canyon National Park), with a strong desire for room service.

UTAH: Boulder Mountain Lodge; Anasazi

Our room at the Boulder Mountain Lodge was spacious with views of meadows and mountains and included a coffee table book that dissed “Smokey The Bear” in strong conservationist language.

This was actually a hilarious bonus for my group who had been terrorized by Smokey’s gargantuan remote-Smokey the Bear vs forest conservationvoiced presence at our Ohio State Fair in their younger years. Personal greetings from an over-sized and overly-friendly bear statue didn’t generate the warm “save the forest” feelings the Park Service was probably striving for. Which made the Smokey The Bear bashing book great environmental bed-time reading…

Our initial exploration took us to the fenced pasture across the road, alongside the breezy flowers of a vast meadow and on to a charming enclosure that concealed a 12-foot hot tub and patio. We gratefully soaked our feet after rinsing them in the adjacent shower and laughed over our afternoon’s adventure at Bryce Canyon. When we quieted down, the whole world was perfectly still. The pond just beyond the decorative iron fence hosted a bird sanctuary brushed by dozens of butterflies. And further out, mountains emerged from the rolling meadows.

As we crossed the drive to a restaurant, the Tibetan Monks were a bit of surprise. The purple-robed gentlemen arrived in minivans with minimal luggage and enormous smiles. The Drepung Loseling Monks were featured on the Hollywood soundtrack of “Seven Years in Tibet.” It seemed unusual to bump into them in southern Utah, but it turns out, Boulder, Utah is a yearly trek for them.

UTAH: Boulder; sunflower

We ordered surprisingly good carry-out from the Burr Trail Grill and chatted with another “Hannah” while we waited on our order. Home for the summer from school in California, she told us a little about growing up in an area canyon where they had to create escape routes with cut trees whenever heavy rains washed out the roads -and wear safety harnesses for the crawl above floodwaters to safety!

We savored our quiet evening. Hannah and I planned to run in the morning, and then we’d hike Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante National Memorial.

Well, we got half of it right…

From September 2008.

Escalante Hotel Review

Next: The Cows…

More on Utah…


Hummingbirds Choose the Marriott Bayview

Hummingbird and flower

Marriott Bayview

The Marriott Bayview in Newport Beach holds all the expected perks and comforts of this hotel brand enhanced by a front row seat to Nature.

Situated on the edge of the Upper Newport Bay Reserve and Ecological Preserve, it offers the traveler easy access to miles of recreational trails. Its on-site hummingbirdfitness center is small but adequate, containing weight and cardio machines as well as free weights. A nicely sized outdoor pool stretches from the upper patio to beneath a shaded overhang. The lower garden area features cushioned Adirondack chairs (perfect for morning coffee), a gazebo and a rock waterfall that attracts large numbers of hummingbirds. An attentive staff facilitated our smooth and enjoyable three night stay. I’m not a fan of hotel parking fees; the additional $18 per day charge was my only significant negative.


Breakfast at the Marriott Bayview is a treat, due mainly to the smiling Javier. Javier cooks from the heart, and the savory results are splendid.


His custom omelets are jammed with flavor, and in my case, jalapenos. He disarmingly insisted on presenting his creations tableside and surprised me one morning with an additional handcrafted pancake. It was one of those flourishing touches that makes the Marriott Bayview a pleasant stay in the Newport Beach area.

Newport Beach Hotel Review

View Upper Newport Bay Preserve and Ecological Reserve in a larger map


Maybe… Mexico? (The Royal Playa Del Carmen)

Pelicanos at Royal P del C

Several Mexican resorts are offering a “flu-free guarantee” in hopes of stemming national tourism losses that could total 4 billion in 2009.  Travel to more than twenty resorts booked by June 30  for this calendar year is eligible for the offer of three free vacations should a traveler become ill with a verified case of swine flu.


The Royal Playa Del Carmen is among the properties offering this incentive to hesitant vacationers with additional deep discounts and promotions listed on the resort website.  Having recently enjoyed the endless amenities of this luxury resort last December, I can attest to the excellent values of the current vacation offers -regardless of the money back (in the form of future travel) guarantee.

roomviewThe Royal’s palatial suites, most of which are ocean-view or oceanfront, include enormous in-room jacuzzis and terraces overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  Rose petals, artistic towel “swans” and daily aroma therapy embellished our already delightful room, but the prize was most definitely the view of ever-blue water framed by rippling sheers.


All-inclusive resorts are the norm in Mexico’s resort areas; the quality of included fare can range from mediocre on up to exceptional.  We found the extensive beverage and restaurant service at the Royal Playa Del Carmen to be consistently very good to excellent.  We especially enjoyed our breezy lunches at Pelicanos on the beach and the fusian fare at Asianos.  The fresh fruit, Mexican cuisine and outstanding made-to-order omelets at Spice gave it our top vote for breakfast.  A well-equipped spa/fitness facility, watersports and a long beach -perfect for running and walking- made keeping up our exercise routines easy, and Playa Del Carmen was but a wander away -roughly a one block walk from the resort property.


A billowing breeze, crescent of shoreline and clear blue sea are the only true essentials for a perfect beach day.  Add in a few unexpected delights such as frozen sugared grapes proffered on a passing tray and canopied beach beds -and one begins to understand the quiet joys of an adults-only resort.

Note the inviting plank swings dangling in front of a beach side bar and know that the child lives on in many of these adults…

More on Playa Del Carmen

More on MEXICO


Page 1 of 212
View Heather Dugan's profile on LinkedIn Subscribe to me on YouTube
Follow Me on Pinterest