Ahh, can you hear the bubbling fountains? Can you smell the sweet jasmine? More »
Well folks, that’s a wrap. As we bring our first photo contest to a close, we’re overwhelmed with the amazing travel photos you’ve shared with us (all 5,582 of them) — so thank you!
Our final grand prize winner goes to “Sun Catcher” by Heather Buttelmann. Congrats on winning a $500 Choice Hotels voucher to use at any location!
Heather says, “My daughter was trying to net fish in a tide pool. She lost her balance on the slippery surface and Voila! I got the shot!”
See the other finalists from this week below, and remember, even though the contest is now closed you can still check out all of the impressive 2013 Photo Contest submissions.
Mexico boasts much more than sandy beaches and ocean views.
See how some of the Travel Channel editors spent their summer vacations. Then, show us how you spent yours! Our 2013 Summer Photo Contest ends today. Upload your best vacation photos now for your last chance to win a $500 Choice Hotels voucher to use at any location.
“There’s no better way to celebrate summer than going out into nature, exploring a new climbing destination, Coll’s Cove, in southwest Pennsylvania and meeting new friends that gave us a tour of the boulders. – Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager
Top Row, Left to Right:
“This was the view from our boat every morning in Greece — I just wish it lasted longer than a week!”– Sara Gilliam, Interactive Producer
“Mud, barbed wire, trenches, mud and more mud — all this may not exactly sound like a good summer vacation, but when I joined thousands of hardcore fitness lovers with a clear eye for fashion (yep, everything from Harry Potter capes to bath robes!) and headed to a wide-open field near Pittsburgh, my summer fun really began. Thanks to 10 to 12 miles of obstacle courses (and good friends, old and new, to help me over walls), this summer experience left me on a very big high that could rival any vacation — the 10,000 volts of electricity certainly helped, too!” — Lisa Singh, Interactive Producer
“I stumbled upon my first ghost crab in the Outer Banks. Nothing says summer like beaches and crabs!” — Kathleen Calaro, Ad Sales Coordinator
Bottom Row, Left to Right:
“On a recent getaway to Charleston, I escaped the city limits in search of the 400-year-old oak tree Angel Oak on Johns Island, just outside the city. I had heard this oak tree was shocking in size, but seeing it up close took my breath away — it towers over 66 feet high with a wide-spreading canopy 28 feet all around. After days of sightseeing on historic cobblestone streets, seeing this natural wonder was the perfect way to end to my trip.” — Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer
“After driving down the mountain through a torrential downpour, we were treated to a huge rainbow stretching over Denver.” — Josh Levin, Online Production Manager
“This summer, I had my first foray into pet travel. A LOT of toys and treats, one tiny puppy, an airline-approved carrier, and we were off! The ultimate lifesaver? A puppy-sized dose of Benadryl. Don’t judge, it was my vet’s suggestion. It was all worth it when we arrived on the island of Nantucket, 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts – I think it’s safe to say that Pearl the frenchie loved the strolls through town and expansive, unspoiled beaches as much as I did.” — Allee Sangiolo, Interactive Producer
Wanderlusters seeking paradise will be plenty pleased by this luxury resort in the Maldives. More »
First Lady and style icon Jacqueline Kennedy found refuge horseback riding in Middleburg, VA, 50 years ago, and in the very place where she once rode, a stylish new retreat has arisen. This weekend, Salamander Resort & Spa opened its doors as the only new luxury destination and spa to open in the US in 2013.
Just an hour from the White House, beyond Beltway gridlock, and where northern Virginia’s Route 50 undulates past old Civil War markers and new wineries, Salamander Resort aims to make its mark as an escape for politics-weary Washingtonians and a destination for discerning luxury travelers.
Salamander is well on its way, with a bucolic location at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, grand country estate design, top-notch gastronomy and state-of-the art spa facilities. The 168-room resort is all the brainchild of Washington-area entrepreneur, Sheila C. Johnson, who co-founded Black Entertainment Television and executive produced the movie The Butler.
As it turns out, it’s nice to be inside Sheila Johnson’s brain, which appears to be filled with pastoral greens, creams and pale blues as displayed in the “Living Room,” an airy, elegant lounge space overlooking a 100,000-square-foot lush, sloping lawn. Johnson’s personal style and even her personal items have made it into every aspect of the resort, from bronze statues of a proud equestrian and her own children in the Living Room, which happens to be modeled after her own living room to her nature photography lining seasonally-themed hallways and guestroom walls. Nearly 20 percent of the art throughout the resort is from her personal collection, including a 14-foot tapestry once owned by Napoleon.
Her passion for horses and equine pursuits are equally apparent at Salamander with a full-service equestrian center and horse trails, suites named for her daughter’s favorite horses, right down to stirrup-embroidered bed linens. These little details are almost as striking as the property itself.
Here are a few other things that struck this traveler during Salamander’s opening weekend:
It sounds cliché but this really is the perfect place to curl up with a good book, and there are plenty for you to borrow — from aspirational biographies to gripping mysteries. The dark, supple leather chairs feel like a warm hug. I almost wished for cold weather to see this room with its fireplace blazing. There are also dark library-appropriate games like chess and backgammon.
Harriman’s Virginia Piedmont Grill
When I ordered the BBQ’d Shrimp and Grits for brunch, the waiter smiled and said “good choice.” I always pay attention to server comments and selections, so I got my taste buds ready. They weren’t disappointed when the savory and mildly sweet shrimp, atop a creamy bed of grits, reached my mouth. Johnson has gotten Todd Gray, one of the best chefs in the DC area to lead the culinary charge at Salamander, and I’d say that was a good choice. The 3-course brunch with all-you-can-drink bacon-decorated Bloody Mary’s and mimosas with fresh-squeezed orange juice is a palate pleaser.
If there is a crown jewel at the Salamander Resort & Spa, it is the spa, which turns out to be Johnson’s favorite space at the resort, according to the its director of public relations, Matt Owen. A world-class destination spa has been at the center of Johnson’s vision for Salamander since 2002 and she delivered, with just one feature, actually 2: the heated stone Tepidarium chairs that cradle and deliver warmth along every inch of the spine. My sister and I made a circuit between the chairs, the gurgling vitality pool and an aromatic steam room with a eucalyptus steam that won’t quit. We ended with a citrus drench wrap made from honey, orange juice and Shea butter, feeling completely rejuvenated.
The Salamander Resort & Spa joins Johnson’s other highly-rated luxury properties, Innisbrook, Reunion and Hammock Beach resorts in Florida, and aims for the same 5-star ratings. But even with all the high-end pampering and luxe appointments, Salamander feels surprisingly homey and inclusive. It’s kid-friendly, with a collection of books and DVDs for kids in the library, and pet-friendly with water bowls strategically placed around the property for the traveling pooch.
The fall may bring even more amenities, like ziplines and a tree-top canopy tour of the 200 wooded acres on the property, along with what I’d come back for: treetop spa treatment rooms.
Every year, for 4 days in June, country music fans take over the Tuttle Creek Lake State Park in Manhattan, KS, for the Country Stampede music festival. In fact, it’s one of the largest parties in the Midwest with over 175,000 attendees eating good food, enjoying strong drinks and tailgating in the campgrounds with fellow country lovers — and a few of the performers themselves.
Tonight at 9|8c, Adam joins in the fun on an all-new episode of Fandemonium. In fact, when he comes across a country musician, he even writes a country song of his own … about Brooklyn.
Do you love country music? It’s not too early to start planning your own trip to Manhattan, KS, to join in the stampede. Let our travel guide help you get there!