To Book or Not to Book Shore Excursions

       The Savvyseafarer’s Pros and Cons of Shore Excursions

         (Please checkout www.savvyseafarer.wordpress.com)          

Seeing the world by cruise ships is the most seamless way to go. You can visit dozens of different islands or cities without the hassle of repacking and boarding countless airplanes. And to make it more convenient (and add to corporate profits) cruise line offered a variety of organized shore excursions for an additional fee.  

     But to book a shore excursion or head off on your own, that is the question. The answer banks on our budget, inclinations and tolerance for potentially long lines, crowded busses and sometimes excruciatingly long shopping stops.  

Port tours vary in price depending on cruise line and can run you anywhere from $50 and up a person for a simple snorkel or walking excursion to well over $100 each for such higher-priced options as golf, helicopter rides, seaplane rides and visits to ancient ruins. Some lines even offer overnight excursions to city hotel or private limousine tours that can run $400 a person and up.      

       

The bottom line is shore excursions are worth it if you want to venture to attractions located far from the pier, have easy access to historic monuments, forts, castles and learn more about an area.  However if all you want to do is walk around a city or town, shop or go to a beach it could be much cheaper and less time consuming to get a map and go it on your own. For instance: In most Caribbean ports shops and even some attractions are a stone’s throw from the ship, but good beaches are a cab ride away. (Although it still might be less expensive to hail a taxi to the beach than participate in tour).  In St. Barths, one of the best beaches, Shell Beach, is just a stroll from the pier and the island is pretty maneuverable on foot.

In big cities it makes better sense to pop for a tour. It is also wiser to take a shore excursion in any Third World country or foreign port where language and customs present a barrier.  For example in Brunei you would definitely want to take the guided tour to sites such as the biggest mosque in Asia– Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. You’d probably never find it on your own or much less pronounce the name correctly. And without guidance may not be aware that local custom mandates covering your body from head toe in long pants, long skirt, and long sleeves.  More than one cruise passenger has appeared scantily clad at the mosque steps. Fortunately the locals are used to this and have robes available to drape over visitors). 

Of course whether on your own or in an organized group you should dress properly where touring.

Locals operate most port tours and cruise lines are pretty much at their mercy. This can be a good thing or a bad in the case of a recent visit to Costa Rica. We were booked on a rain forest trek. Our giddy young female tour operators kept warning us that since it was late in the morning we may not spot any denizens in the area. “We don’t why they send you so late,” they moaned, “the animals are only around in the early morning.” Well one reason it was late was the ship doesn’t arrive any earlier. Which the cruise line should have thought about before adding this tour to the program. Well not only didn’t we see any creatures of the woods, we pretty much didn’t see anything but millions of ants. A spectacle that seemed to fascinate our guide who made us stop for a seeming eternity to watch them cross our path. Needless to say there were many complaints. Not the least of which was about the non-stop blabbing of our guidettes. Which may have been a good thing had it been interesting. It wasn’t.

Shore excursion comfort factors vary from ship to ship. Princess Cruises’ New Waves snorkel and scuba trips can’t be beat. Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Seabourn and Radisson Seven Seas also run a tight ship with handpicked tours that usually run smoothly. 

Alas too many tours translate into lengthy bus rides, and too much time in souvenir shops. Following a long, hot, but worthwhile tour of the Acropolis outside of Athens, passengers who thought they were being driven directly back to their ship were squirreled into a tacky little shop belonging to the tour guide’s brother-in-law. 

The best way to decide on a shore excursion is by reading the brochure thoroughly. Keep a look out for red flags such as:  “once there you will have two hours to swim, snorkel, beach comb or just relax.”  Now while that doesn’t sound so bad, we’re talking a 6-hour tour that includes two hours on a catamaran.  And while champagne and drinks may be proffered (usually bad bubbly besides) do you really want to spend four hours on a boat after being on a ship! Maybe you do.  But think about it. The length of the tour is always noted in the brochure deduct time spent getting there to time available once at your destination to decide if this is a good thing or not. For some reason unknown to this seafarer, shore excursions have gotten longer. On a recent cruise it was difficult to find any less than 5 hours long.  A couple of hours in a cat or sailboat may not to be tough duty; the same amount of time in a bus may not be that pleasant.

Shore excursion managers  are eager to please , answer  questions and of course book business.  So  be sure to discuss the excursion in detail  before you plunk down your dough. Some tours involve strenuous treks in hot, humid climes. Cruise lines are quick o point this out to avoid liability or problems. Be sure to pick tours that you can handle physically.

One final caveat:  the bigger the  ship, the faster shore excursions sell out, so if you still want to take an organized tour, don’t delay, book it soon after you embark or on line if the cruise line permits.

It’s also a good idea to get your hands on a few good guidebooks to learn about  the ports of calls  you’ll be visiting or surf the web.

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More Sizzling Summer Specials in the Southland

Sizzling Summer Specials at THE GRAND DEL MAR 

If you live in the Southland, hop in your car or take the Amtrak Surliner and head over to The Grand Del Mar  for some fun in the sun. The Mediterranean-inspired resort offers attractive, high style accommodation,  a Tom Fazio-designed golf course,  proximity to San Diego family attractions, hiking/walking trails, biking, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and surfing.

The hotel features fine dining at   Addison, a grand Spa  and to enjoy it all, appealing packages such as:

 The Grand Golf Getaway– unlimited golf (with cart) for two players at The Grand Golf Club from arrival until departure the following day, one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $670 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 The Grand Spa- with its emphasis on renewal and rebirth, offering comprehensive programs and á la carte services. Includes one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, $350 spa credit for use toward services or products at The Spa, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $695 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 Grand Bed & Breakfast– one night’s room accommodations and overnight valet parking, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $395 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 Family Fun– create family-time and fond memories, this package features one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, complimentary Children’s Menu dining for up to two children ages 8 and under at Amaya or Poolside; and one four-hour program for up to two children (ages 4 to 12) at The Explorer’s Club. Additionally, one connecting guestroom is available at 50-percent off the Family Fun package rate. Rates start at $465 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities). Please contact reservations at 1-888-314-2030 to add a connecting room to your reservation.

 The Grand Life– I love the name of this packaged, designed for those who simply want to relax and enjoy a leisurely stay. Includes accommodations for a minimum of three nights; $100.00 resort credit for use in The Spa, The Grand Golf Club, at any of the six dining venues or resort shops, and overnight valet parking. Rates start at $999 for three nights (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

Call: 1-888-314-2030 or book online at www.TheGrandDelMar.com.

 

Los Peñasquitos Canyon and the Pacific Coast Invite Active Participation

 

Nearby to The Grand Del Mar, guests may select from:

 

Canyon to Waterfall Hike. Discover prehistoric pasts, an abundance of flora, wildlife communities, flowing creeks and waterfalls, and scenic vistas along this guided four-mile hike.

 

Adventures on Wheels. Cycling and mountain biking provide fast-paced outdoor adventures – participants can bike the scenic paved trails located conveniently next to the resort, or enjoy the more than 37 miles of mountain biking trails located in the adjacent Los Peñasquitos Canyon.

 

Horseback Riding – The Adobe Experience. Explore Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve’s scenic terrain and unique landmarks, including a restored Adobe Ranch House originally built in the early 1800s, on a guided 2.5-hour horseback adventure.

 

The Grand Beach Service. The resort’s complimentary beach service offers an easy way to soak up the San Diego sun, and includes roundtrip transportation to/from Del Mar’s 15th Street Beach; set-up of beach chairs and umbrellas; beach towels and bottled waters.

 

Cave Kayaking. Guided kayaking tours of the La Jolla Sea Caves and the fascinating marine paradise of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve.

 

Kayak and Snorkel La Jolla. Kayaking and snorkeling adventures allow guests to get up close and personal with the gentle leopard sharks, Garibaldi and other local fish.

 

Surf’s Up! Surfers of all aptitudes can head to the beach for private surf lessons with locally acclaimed Surf Diva. Adult, kids, family and group lessons are all available; surfboard and wet suit rentals included.

 

Mesa to Sea Hike. A guided two-hour hike from the famous cliff top groves of Torrey Pines State Reserve to the pristine beach below.

 

Cliffside Walk. Participants enjoy a two-hour guided coastal hike along La Jolla’s historic Cliffside Trail and learn about sea life, nesting birds, Native American lore and beach culture.

 

For more information or to register for hikes and other activities, please call the resort’s concierge at 858-314-1988.

 

Onsite Activities Abound

 

At The Grand Del Mar, there are tons of active enticements on the property. Two pro-style tennis courts beckon tennis buffs, while the resort’s four heated pools – with underwater speakers and a friendly outdoor pool bar – provide a relaxing retreat for the aquatically inclined. The resort’s spectacular 18-hole course offers championship caliber golf, while the 21,000-square-foot spa features an array of treatments, as well as an expansive fitness facility and movement studio. Here, guests can choose from an array of classes, such as Yoga, Pilates, Spin or Total Body Workout. Others may opt for tennis clinics, golf lessons or a quick fitness walk around the resort’s beautiful grounds.

 About The Grand Del Mar

Situated amid a private preserve in Coastal North San Diego County, The Grand Del Mar opened its doors in October 2007 and features: 249 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites; San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course; two outdoor tennis courts; a 21,000-square-foot Renaissance-inspired spa; four swimming pools; regional dining, including Addison, the award-winning restaurant; an enclave of residential Villas; and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space. www.TheGrandDelMar.com.

Evolution of a Travel Diva

Thank you for following the Travel Diva. If you’re wondering where I got the “Diva” here goes: during my now decades long career as a travel writer I developed a severe penchant for luxury. I was fortunate to bed down in presidential suites, penthouse suites on ships, super upscale resorts,and private villas. I learned to fly First Class, did the Concorde and even experienced a Lear Jet or two. I really, really liked this way of travel. So I eschewed coach, economy and budget to specialize in the world of the rich and famous.
I have trotted around the globe and covered spots such as French Polynesia, the Caribbean, Bahamas, Europe, Asia and the US by air, land and sea. Everyone also asks for the Diva’s favorite spots. Here they are:
French Polynesia (Bora Bora), Hawaii (Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai), St. Barths (French West Indies), French Riviera, Italy (Italian Riviera, Portofino, Florence, Venice (sooooo romantic), Milan, Rome), Spain (Madrid, Barcelona).

Alas even though the economy nose dived, I still opt for the best, or at least as good or a lot better than I have at home. So now I simply travel less without giving up comfort.
The Diva’s motto: Go First Class or not a all

The Diva Loves LA

I Love LA

Which is why I write and update ACCESS Los Angeles (Harper Collins Publishers) — the 13th edition is in bookstores and available online at sites like www.amazon.com.  It pretty much guides you through the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area from downtown (and yes there really a thriving area in that part of the city now) through mid-town, Beverly Hills, WLA, and down to Orange County and across the sea to Catalina Island.  So order a copy now. In the meantime my friends at the Los Angeles Visitor’s Bureau put together

The  “Top 100 Vacation Deals.” for summer available through August 31, 2009.  For a complete listing of hotel offers, visit www.discoverLosAngeles.com/vacationdeals.  This is the Bureau’s recommendations:

            Stay in the middle of the action and save up to 40 percent with a Hollywood Getaway at Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel or Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa.  Choose from online exclusive getaway packages including two nights of accommodations, a seven-day unlimited ticket to enjoy all the new entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood, complimentary breakfast for two, complimentary parking and roundtrip transportation between your hotel and Universal Studios Hollywood.

            Wind down with a midweek or weekend stay at a choice of 16 Westside hotels.  Escape to The Sofitel Los Angeles, where visitors who book a guestroom by July 5, 2009 get their fourth night free, in addition to a picnic basket.  If performing arts or a studio tour is on your travel itinerary, visit Inter Continental Los Angeles Century City, where guests who stay a minimum of two nights receive breakfast for two, complimentary parking and a tour of Sony Studios or two tickets to Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Rates start at $269.  In Beverly Hills, The Residence Inn treats travelers to an American Express gift card valued at $50, complimentary AMC movie tickets for two, free WiFi and complimentary breakfast for two starting at $229.  At the Holiday Inn Century City, travelers who book two nights obtain the third night free.

For the ultimate ocean-side retreat, take advantage of beachside getaways at Hotel Casa Del Mar with rates starting at $395 per night based on space availability, Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa highlighting two Swedish massages with guestroom rates starting at $459 based on space availability, or Shutters On the Beach which offers a $50 hotel credit and guestroom rates starting at $525 per night based on space availability.

            Discover culture in the heart of downtown Los Angeles with Millennium Biltmore Hotel’s “I Love (Downtown LA)! Package for two which highlights a one night stay priced from $179 per night based on space availability, breakfast and tickets to the Museum of Contemporary Art, tickets to the Grammy Museum and vouchers to visit the ESPN Zone.  Other attractive downtown hotel deals include Wilshire Grand Los Angeles’ “Beat the Heat,” whereby the guestroom rate is based on the high temperature of the day of your stay with a $20 room upgrade and 20 percent off hotel dining.  At the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & 

Suites, guests relax in a deluxe guestroom, savor a three-course pre-fixe dinner for two at LA Prime Restaurant and obtain complimentary overnight parking.

In addition to these exclusive packages, travelers can obtain up to 50 percent off on LA’s top cultural, dining, entertainment and other top attractions.

            Head to Hollywood for a night at the theatre with 35%-50% off theatre tickets to Dirty Dancing at the Pantages Theater, Hollywood. While in the area, enjoy $5 off regular Adult/Child admission to Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood Wax Museum, or treat yourself to a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée when dining at the renowned Geisha House on Hollywood Boulevard.

While in downtown, embark on a larger-than-life feature film adventure with $2 off Adult admission and $1 off Children’s admission to an IMAX movie at the California Science Center IMAX Theater, or enjoy $3 off admission to the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. Stop for lunch at Zucca Ristorante, an upscale Italian establishment, currently offering a $19 lunch special and $5 parking for guests of the restaurant.

Chill out on the Westside with a complimentary appetizer while dining at Crustacean, one of Beverly Hill’s finest eateries, or experience 2-for-1 general admission to the Skirball Cultural Center.

Soak in the sun at the city’s top seaside eateries with offers including 15% off the total bill at I Cugini’s in Santa Monica, or a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée at Geoffrey’s Malibu. Take in the sites and sounds of the Santa Monica Pier boardwalk with 15% off an unlimited-ride wristband at the popular weekend beachside destination, Pacific Park. 

The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit business association whose primary mission is to market and promote Los Angeles as the premier site for leisure travel, meetings and conventions. Though not part of city Government, LA INC. is recognized as the city’s official tourism marketing organization.  For more information about “Los Angeles Top 100 Vacation Deals,” visit the official visitors information website of Los Angeles at www.discoverLosAngeles.com

Sizzling Summer Specials in Palm Springs

One of my favorite Palm Springs haunts just became more affordable with these sizzling summer specials:

   For starters:  Riviera Family Package

Comes with welcome gift, choice of passes for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or Knott’s Soak City  and:

  • Pizza and a Movie (Large Pizza, Soft Drinks, In-Room Movie of Choice)
  • Daily Breakfast
  • Children 12 and under eat free all summer long
  • Complimentary Upgrade

 Rates start at $189 per night, plus tax and gratuities, call: 866-588-8311. Valid now through September 30, 2009. Offer is based on availability and number of family members included in the reservation. “Pizza and a Movie” refers to one large pizza and one 2-litre bottle of soft drink. Package includes one (1) On-Demand movie of choice valued at $14.99.

 Living Desert Package

 

Includes a visit to The Living Desert a 1,200-acre zoo, endangered species conservation center, natural history museum, nature preserve, botanical garden and wilderness park all rolled into one. It’s an amazing place to come face-to-face with mountain lions, wolves, javelinas, bobcats, golden eagles, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, leopards, big horn sheep all living in a natural setting nestled at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

 And Daily Breakfast (children 12 and under eat free all summer long), complimentary upgrade.

Rates start at $135 per night, plus tax and gratuities.

Betty & Veronica Palm Springs Package  this fun getaway inc;ludes: 

Overnight Suite Accommodations

  • “Martini Dinner” for Two at Circa 59
  • Daily Breakfast
  • Passes for Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • Copy of Betty & Veronica Comic Book

 Rates start at $229 per night, plus tax and gratuities.  

In addition to these three special summer packages, Riviera Resort & Spa and the Palm Springs locale have so much to offer vacationers this summer. At the resort, children 12 and under eat free when ordering off the children’s menus; SpaTerre welcomes all to enjoy its treatments; family-rated movies are shown poolside with complimentary floating devices and treats; Wii, Xbox and lawn games are offered as well as free-play on tennis and basketball courts; and Riviera is pet-friendly to boot. Also, off-property attractions are diverse and vacation-friendly: Living Desert Zoo, Knott’s Soak City; Aerial Tramway, Palm Springs Desert Museum along with many boutiques, dining venues, art galleries and outdoor activities.

 About Riviera Resort & Spa

Following an extensive $70 million modernization, Riviera Resort & Spa – a legendary 24-acre property that was once a playground for the likes of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Elvis Presley – reopened to the public in October 2008. The restored resort, originally 475 rooms, now features 406 masterfully-revamped guest rooms and luxury suites – outfitted with handsome retro furnishings; chic marble bathrooms; flat-screen plasma TVs; wireless Internet access and private patios or balconies – set amidst lushly-landscaped gardens with intimate courtyards. Other resort highlights include:  SpaTerre, an 11,000-square-foot retreat with cross-cultural and global treatments; and an array of inventive food and beverage offerings, including the signature Circa 59; the outdoor Bikini Bar adjacent to a spectacular pool; the swank Starlite Lounge; and sidebar, offering tantalizing cocktails in an atmosphere of sleek sophistication.

           I love the ambiance, friendly staff and the fabulous spa, fitness center and pool at this resort. And the food is terrific, too.

Riviera Resort & Spa,  1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr. in Palm Springs,  www.psriviera.com;  760.327.8311.

 

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The Diva’s No Brainer Guide to Flying First Class

The Diva’s No Brainer Guide to Flying First Class

 Or Flying Coach is for dummies….

For this Diva, flying First Class—or at least Business—is the only way to go especially on flights lasting 5 hours or more. I stop at nothing to get that upgrade, using miles, paying for upgrades, smiling, crying, stomping my feet and most of the time it works. I hate coach.

 

Why? Let me count the ways.

First of all checking in.  Most carriers allocate special check in not only inside the terminal but outside where you can be dropped off and go right in. Once in it’s usually a breeze going through the first class check in line. After which you are often escorted to a faster, dedicated first class security line. Then you get to board before coach passengers and can settle into your cushy seat, often with a beverage while you await take-off.

And speaking of seats, depending on the flight designation: i.e.: Premium Class, Deluxe First, or simply First, seats can recline anywhere from 60 degrees to flat. 

 

When flying solo on Delta I often go online to check out the aircraft because certain ones have one seat in the middle which means you are all by yourself for peace and quiet. I like to take domestic flights that are heading abroad because the airline usually uses planes that have more luxurious first class sections. This means better seating arrangements, food and more premium wines (I enjoy the grape when I fly).

 American, which I also fly often, has seats that go way back to almost bed configuration on domestic flights, usually those flights that are heading for Europe.

 

Disembarking is also more pleasant when you’re a First Class pax. You get off the plane before everybody and your luggage usually arrives first, but not always.

 

Refunds or itinerary changes are also easier when you purchase or use miles for an upgrade. Most carriers allow no fee changes or at least give you back the value of the fare.  You also get to check at least one bag free of charge (two if in First).

 

Of course there are times First Class fails. One such instance was a recent flight on USAir to Philadelphia. It was a morning trip and I ordered an omelet. When the flight attendant brought me my tray it had cereal and fruit. “I didn’t order this,” I explained. To wit she nastily replied, “We had to serve our “premium passengers” first, and you don’t have enough miles so you get second choice.” Obviously this did not go over well with me having forfeited 30,000 miles for my upgrade. I had a similar incident on the same carrier  only this time it was for a fully fare First Class ticket and man was this Diva ticked off. So much so I wrote to the airline and they sent me a First Class upgrade certificate on any flight. Still left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.

 

There have been a few instances when due to mechanical problems I have had to land in a airport that wasn’t my destination and overnight.  In those cases, when I had a First Class ticket I was always put up in a hotel and given food vouchers. Some coach passengers weren’t as fortunate.  A few times when this happened on American the company actually refunded me miles for the inconvenience.

 

But most of the time you are treated better in the front of the plane.  Hawaiian Airlines, which has a fine reputation of Aloha-like service throughout its Ocean-crossing flights, goes out of its way to please First Class passengers. I have flown them many times and was never let down. The food is created by top Island chefs and almost always excellent for airline food. They pour decent wines and are very generous and attentive. The seats recline comfortably.

 

First Class is a non brainer when flying to Europe, Asia or the South Pacific. It’s just too many hours to be cramped in coach.  I love the International carriers that provide night clothes and beds covered in down comforters.

 

I’m flying Virgin American for the first time soon and have booked their Main Cabin Select (Business Class in most airline jargon), I’ll let you know how it goes. I joined the airline’s Elevate frequent flyer club and can upgrade the day of departure to First Class for $150 if seats are available, I’m going to try it.

The Golden Door Offers Super Summer Specials

goldendoorsCall me the Spa Queen, fitness diva or pampered princess but I love spa breaks especially the week-long kind offered at the salubrious, luxurious, ultra-serene Golden Door in Escondido, California where I’ve been recharging my batteries  on yearly treks for over 20 years.  The Japanese-influenced, transcendental sanctuary set in a valley framed by gorgeous mountains is simply the best of its kind barring none.
And that’s the truth, why else would the rich, famous, beautiful faces flock there –many to get in shape and look their best for their movie roles or  awards ceremonies.

It’s always fun to run into a celeb and I have from Sally Struthers and Joyce DeWitt to Pat Kennnedy and beyond. Whether a luminary or ordinary (but rich enough to afford $8,000 a week), the 40 female guests who frequent most of the Door most weeks of the year save for a few men’s weeks, bond during the 7-day retreat. Unfortunately the ties usually melt shortly after.

I went there Easter Sunday for a glorious week of atonement (no alcohol, healthy food, lots of activities that egins with earling morning mountain hikes followed by a full menu of exercise classes, personal training, gym, swimming, volleyball, pilates, and  Yoga with lots of  personal pampering in-between like massages, facials, foot and hand treatments, body scrubs, herbal wraps, hair care, makeup, steams, saunas and more for one albeit stiff weekly price–worth every gold coin.door

Anyhow the Door just announced super summer specials you can’t afford to miss. Check it out:

 
2009 Summer Weeks – $7,495 with Special Programs and Guest Presenters 

SPIRITED WALKER® with Carolyn Scott Kortge June 14 – 21. A simple walk around the block can turn into a journey of discovery.

EXPRESSIVE ARTS WEEK with Judith Greer Essex June 21 – June 28. Art-making puts life’s issues in perspective so you can experience life’s joy.

WATER WEEKS July 19 – 26 and August 30 – September 6. Bring out your “inner mermaid” while strengthening and toning.

INNER DOOR WEEK with Annharriet Buck July 26 – August 2. Draw on supportive group energy to achieve life-altering insights.

LABYRINTH WEEK with Dr. Lauren Artress August 2 – 9 (Special Rate: $6,000) (Bring A Friend does not apply) The labyrinth has been celebrated through the centuries for its power to quiet and focus the mind.

Hot, hot,  hot . . . Cooking Week with Chef Dean Rucker!!
GOLDEN DOOR COOKS AT HOME with Executive Chef Dean Rucker August 9 – 16. Become a Golden Door At-Home Cook. We’ve built an entire week around your training!

EAT WELL. MOVE DAILY. BE HEALTHY with Drs. Wendy and Jason Bazilian August 23 – 30. Science, culture and philosophy of eastern and western medicine and nutrition blend to help you improve your health.

THE “FITPACK” AND ”YOU” BOOK WORKOUTS with Joel Harper September 13 – 20. Work out with the celebrity fitness trainer and creator of the famous “FitPak” and New York Times best-selling “YOU” books workouts. $7,750

AND–Bring A Friend. Share a week with a friend or family member and you both receive an additional $500 discount. Friend’s name must be referenced at time of booking.
More Cool Specials. 
3-or 4-Day stay. (Bring A Friend does not apply)

3-Day Spa Interlude August 16 – 19 $3,625
4-Day Spa Interlude August 19 – 23 $4,725
Fall Special  October 11 – 18  $6,000 (Bring A Friend does not apply)
Thanksgiving Week  November 22 – 29 $7,495
Holiday Special   December 6 – 13 $6,000 (Bring A Friend does not apply)
New Year’s Week  December 27, 2009 – January 2, 2010  $7,495

All Other Weeks In 2009 available at the 2007 rate of $7,750

Factoids:   The Golden Door is located just outside of San Diego near Escondio about a 2 to 3 hour from LA where I live, but I don’t drive, I take Amtrak  from Union Station and relax in a cushy Business Class seat  where I read or view the awesome coastline as we chug along.  A driver from the Door picks me up at the Oceanside Station, which is only 20-minutes from the resort.

Check it out www.goldendoor.com.

  • A peaceful, remote sanctuary, discreetly tucked away on 377 acres of rolling terrain, five miles north of Escondido, California
  • World-class spa facilities, including nine treatment rooms, an herbal wrap area, hydrotherapy tub, sauna, steam room, and hot tub
  • Asian-inspired architecture and philosophy, inspired by the ancient Japanese Honjin inns, famed for their gracious welcome and guest care
  • 40 spacious and comfortable guest rooms, each with private patios and uniquely restful amenities that foster serenity
  • Meticulously landscaped grounds, complete with traditional Japanese gardens, koi ponds, and a million-dollar antique collection
  • Premier fitness facilities, including 3 poolside aerobic gyms, a hilltop gym for private fitness sessions, a new 4000 square foot Fitness Pavilion housing a 2000 square foot equipment gym, spinning gym, and additional aerobic gym; two swimming pools and a Kiatsu water therapy pool; tennis courts; and solarium
  • 20 miles of switchback hiking trails, winding through avocado groves and ponds, suitable for all levels of expertise