Fave Five Travel Excursions of 2012, Part IV

Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Shapiro shares his top trips of the last year By: Kenneth Shapiro
Editor-in-Chief Ken Shapiro takes his kids on their first visit to New York City // (c) 2012 Kenneth Shapiro
Editor-in-Chief Ken Shapiro takes his kids on their first visit to New York City // (c) 2012 Kenneth Shapiro

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Punta Mita, Mexico
One of the things I love about Mexico is that, just when I think I know the destination, I discover something that surprises me. That was the case in March when I had the chance to visit the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort for the first time. Not only did I fall in love with the rugged beauty of the destination of Punta Mita (located along the coast north of Puerto Vallarta), but the guest experience at the St. Regis is equal to, or better than, anything else one can find in the country. The resort features beautifully decorated suites, many with outdoor showers, as well as butler service. There is great dining on-site and a world-class golf course as well. The location is ideal for long walks on the beach and finding a spot in the sun to curl up with a good book. I definitely hope to visit again soon.

New York City
Some trips are exciting because you get to share a great passion with someone you love. That was how I felt about my family vacation to New York City last summer. My wife and I lived in New York for more than a decade and our son was born there, but this was the first time we got to go back with both our kids and share one of our favorite cities with them. There is nothing like seeing the look on your child’s face when they see Times Square for the first time, or while they chase each other through Central Park. On this trip we were lucky enough to sample a few excellent hotels that served as our home base. The Grand Hyatt New York and the Hyatt 48 Lex, while different, both provided comfortable escapes from the chaos of Midtown Manhattan, while the historic grandeur of the Loews Regency New York (currently undergoing an exciting renovation) made us feel like privileged Upper Eastsiders. Our kids are still talking about this great vacation. 

Berkshire County, Massachusetts
From New York, a three-hour drive took us to another home away from home, Berkshire County, Mass. “The Berkshires,” as they are called, are in the extreme western part of Massachusetts. It is an area made up of rolling hills, bucolic farmland and small-town scenes straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting (who, in fact, was a resident of the Berkshires). While rustic, the county is known as a great destination for arts-minded travelers. It is the home to numerous arts attractions including Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston symphony; MASS MoCA; and The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate, among others. Beyond the arts, however, the quiet countryside and dirt roads of the Berkshires lend themselves to great cycling, hiking, fishing and more. The best lodging options in the Berkshires are small B&Bs and historic inns. Two of my favorites are The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield. 

Hawaii
Last year, I was fortunate to have spent more time in the islands of Hawaii than any other destination. I was on four different islands overall, and each one offered a unique experience. It would be impossible for me to pick my favorite moment in Hawaii last year, but I will say that I really enjoyed visiting Lanai for the first time. To me, Lanai was a great combination of the friendliness of the Hawaiian people and the island’s own small-town charm. If you have clients that truly believe Hawaii has become too modern and built up, I suggest you send them to Lanai — where everyone waves as they pass each other on the road and the shop clerk may just lend a visitor her car for an afternoon (a scene I witnessed). It was great to get yet another reminder of what makes Hawaii so special. 

Los Cabos, Mexico
Another great find in Mexico this year was my first visit to Las Ventanas al Paraiso, in Los Cabos. Of course, I have been to Cabo many times, but staying at Las Ventanas was a treat I won’t soon forget. In particular, it was great to see the way the resort staff went out of their way to customize the experiences of their guests. Whether you want to sleep under the stars or snuggle up on a bed to watch a video right on the beach, anything and everything is possible at this five-star resort.

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