Like most women, sometimes I run hot and sometimes cold. Likewise, so run my travels…sometimes hot…sometimes cold. And, like a woman, both are equally exciting. Although I won't let you in on my personal mood swings, I will share my travel moods with you. I love both the warmth of the fire and the chill of the ice.
Along California's Big Sur coast, where mountains plunge dramatically into the Pacific, I discovered one of the most dramatic meetings of land and sea in the world. VENTANA INN & SPA in a relatively undeveloped and pristine area is situated on 243 acres of meadows and gently sloping wooded hillsides 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean on the Big Sur coast. Secluded Ventana provides a peaceful and soothing atmosphere enhanced by its proximity to the area's natural wonders, and lots of comforting fireplaces.
VENTANA INN-BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA
GROVE PARK INN, an Asheville, North Carolina resort tucked in the breathtaking landscape between the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountain range, is a return to the elegance of a bygone era. It is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, The Inn has preserved the integrity and charm of its turn-of-the-century atmosphere. The Great Hall, with its rustic stone walls, weathered slate floors, wooden columns, and copper lighting fixtures, is a warm and cozy haven in spite of its humongous size. Following cocktails on the Sunset Terrace, I lingered in a rocking chair in front of one of the room's massive 14-foot fireplaces. The inscription over the fireplace expressed my feelings precisely: "Take from this hearth its warmth…From this room its charm…From this Inn its amity…Return them not, but return." I will return.
GROVE PARK INN, ASHEVILLE, N. CAROLINA
THE RITZ-CARLTON LAGUNA NIGUEL is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Perched atop a 150-foot bluff with panoramic white-water views of the Pacific Ocean and two-miles of sandy beach, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is consistently ranked among the finest resorts in the world. 180bl? is an oceanfront dining lounge featuring panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the blue skies across the horizon. Perched 150-feet above Salt Creek Beach, 180bl? is the perfect Southern California experience to enjoy refreshing hand-crafted beverages, small plates from Raya…the hotel's awe-inspiring restaurant with ocean views…and a little slice of heaven on earth! Fire pits will take away any chill that might be in the air.
RITZ CARLTON-LAGUNA NIGUEL, CALIFORNIA
Jasper, in the Canadian Province of Alberta, is a picturesque town, nestled within Jasper National Park, one of the largest wilderness areas in North America. THE FAIRMONT JASPER PARK LODGE, a true "Grand Canadian Lodge Experience" built on 903 acres of pristine forest in Jasper National Park, is a village of cozy cedar chalets and heritage log cabins situated along the emerald shores of Lac (Lake) Beauvert. The Lodge,also locally known as "JPL", is an Alpine village comprised of rooms, suites, cabins, and chalets, all connected by picturesque paths. The rooms are decorated in casually elegant styles and the main lodge, with its blazing fireplace, stained-glass lamps, and wood furniture has a distinct Frank Lloyd Wright flavor.
JASPER PARK LODGE
The hottest bars in the world are also the coolest. My favorite trek to the Artic was on a sweltering summer day in Scandinavia. No matter the season, you can have a very shivery delivery in one of several Icebars in the US and around the world. Before chilling out in my ICEBAR, I donned a bright blue cape trimmed in snowy white faux fur and a pair of mittens. After being garbed for my Arctic adventure, I was escorted into an air lock and the door closed behind me. Then, voila, the door into the Icebar opened. Lo and behold, there it was. An entire room crafted of ice from the Torne River in Swedish Lapland. The walls, the bar, the tables, the booths, and hundreds of glasses were all sculpted from clear, pure, Arctic river water. If you opt for an icebreaker with names like "Jack Frost", "Snowflake", or "Avalanche", you will get that icy mouthful of magic served in a glass made of pure ice. Not only did I 'clink and drink one down', but I clinked and drank one down very, very quickly. One does not last too long in a bar made of ice. (The temperature was 23-degrees Fahrenheit.) So, within thirty minutes, I was out of there. If you ever get to a city with an Icebar, (as ABC News put it when reporting on the Icebar in midtown New York) "…go inside and party your ice off".
AUTHOR AND HUSBAND DRINK FROM ICE GLASSES IN ICEBAR
The MENDENHALL GLACIER about 12 miles from Juneau, Alaska is the original drive-up-to glacier and probably the most famous in the world. This great river of ice, stretching about 13.6 miles long, spills over onto the floor of the Mendenhall Valley. The Mendenhall Glacier is not just a gigantic piece of ice. It is a constantly moving, dynamic force that has carved the landscape around it. This magnificent river of ice moves every day, carving and changing the geography along its path. The glacier has retreated over 2.5 miles since the year 1500 and it is believed that it will continue to retreat in the foreseeable future.
MENDENHALL GLACIER IN JUNEAU, ALASKA
The spectacular Icefields Parkway that links Jasper and Lake Louise is often called the most scenic highway in the world. This 143-mile parkway got its name from the numerous glaciers that flank its western side. The Columbia Icefield, one of the largest accumulations of snow and ice south of the Arctic Circle, is a gigantic ice mass that feeds eight glaciers. It covers an area five times bigger than Manhattan. The water that melts from these glaciers then flows into rivers and streams that ultimately feed the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. ATHABASCA GLACIER, the most accessible of the glaciers that descend from the Columbia Icefield, was reached by boarding a six-wheel drive Snocoach that took us to the middle of the glacier. Descending from the Snocoach, we walked on water, 1000-feet deep, but frozen solid. Dwarfed by the massive glacier, and chilled by a wind that whipped across the ice, we stood in awe of the seemingly endless river of ice that surrounded us. Within the Icefield Interpretive Centre, located down the road from the glacier, a mini-museum explained the history and geology of glaciers.
ATHABASCA GLACIER ON CANADA'S ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
A chartered catamaran (the complimentary shore excursion on a Silversea cruise) sailed us from Paso Quesahuen, Chile to one of the most breathtaking sites in South America. This magical outing to the LAGUNA SAN RAFAEL GLACIER was a kaleidoscope of the stunning artistry of Mother Nature. This awesome wall of ice was a brilliant spectacle played out in hues of blue and white. The thundering chunks of ice that calved into the lake might well have been crystal sculptures by Lalique, or a pate de verregem executed by Daum Crystal. Magnifico!
LAGUNA SAN RAPHAEL GLACIER
ANTARCTICA is the greatest show on ice. I came, I thawed, I conquered! I came to Antarctica after flying some 30 round-trip hours and cruising some 3000 nautical miles. I traveled below the Equator and beneath the Tropic of Capricorn, sailing the dreaded Drake Passage and crossing the Antarctic Convergence (at approximately 60 degrees south latitude). I came to the bottom of the world. I came to Antarctica, the most hostile continent on earth. I thawed in Antarctica! Leaving the blustery one-digit temperatures of a wintery Northern Hemisphere, I was warmed by the thirty-degree austral summer temperatures of the Southern Hemisphere's continent of ice. I conquered fear in Antarctica! For decades, the world's seventh continent (the only one I had never visited) had been my destination of dreams. And being there was truly a dream come true. This barren, white continent, that thrills the imagination and overwhelms the senses, is a continent of superlatives. While it is the most forbidding, most inaccessible land on earth, it is also the most majestic and most pristine. This harshest, most inhospitable land is also the coldest, the windiest, the highest and the driest. Yet, this unknown southern land, that contains 90% of the world's fresh water and approximately 95% of the world's glacial ice, is the most eerily beautiful continent on earth. In short, Antarctica is the greatest show on ice. If Frank Sinatra were there with us, he'd be obliged to re-title his fifties hit to "I Only Have Ice For You."
PARADISE BAY, ANTARCTICA
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant with the Travel Authority in Mariemont, Ohio