Credits: Alila Jabal Akhdar

In a digitized world, more global travelers want to take a break from technology while enjoying close contact with nature. Few activities guarantee Zen moments like hiking; fortunately, there’s an ever-growing variety of inviting destinations where expert-led hikes are among the most popular activities.

Better yet, an assortment of upscale resorts and tour providers are offering opportunities to hike in style, with gourmet treats, relaxing spa services, and comfy accommodations taking the sting out of a lung-busting, yet rewarding, hike.

When you’re looking to commune with nature, yet don’t want to sacrifice any conveniences, seek out these opportunities to enjoy some of the best hikes in the world.


Considered a hiker’s paradise, the Adirondacks cover more than six million acres and have 2,000-plus miles of marked hiking trails, making this America’s largest trail system. Whiteface Lodge, an all-suite luxury resort tucked into the woodlands above Lake Placid, evokes the Gilded Age style of the Adirondacks’ historic Great Camps. The property, which features striking design elements of stone and timber, provides easy access to signature hiking destinations, such as the High Falls Gorge and Whiteface Landing. Families are well-served, thanks to complimentary resort amenities such as a 56-seat movie theater, a game room with a two-lane bowling alley, a fishing pond, and a kids camp.

Mohonk Mountain House, a historic resort in the famed Hudson Valley (some 90 miles north of New York City), is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019, making it one of the oldest family-run hotels in the U.S. Situated in the center of the Shawangunk Mountains, the property sits next to the glacier-formed Lake Mohonk, providing guests of all ages with ample opportunities to engage with nature. Options range from a relaxing mindfulness hike, to an intense survivalist hike during which participants learn valuable tools and techniques, to a “foods of the forest” hike that teaches guests how to sustain themselves with nature’s bounty.


Health-minded Caribbean travelers flock to BodyHoliday, an all-inclusive wellness resort that offers a pair of exhilarating hiking experiences as part of its luxury services. The Mount Gimie hike encompasses a 3,117-foot climb to the summit of the tallest mountain in the West Indies, with breathtaking views of lush tropical rainforests. Those looking for a less-demanding experience opt for the En Baus Saut hike, in which guests venture into the interior of the island and through the Edmund Rainforest, where they hike into a waterfall to enjoy a refreshing swim.


Japan’s first glamping retreat, Hoshinoya Fuji, offers individual cabins carved into the mountainside, with ample opportunities to detach from the modern world, as epitomized by its “digital detox” program. When not spending time on the Cloud Terrace—a series of connected platforms positioned along the red-pine slope that extends from the cabins—guests can enjoy mountain-trekking tours in which expert guides lead the way towards panoramic views of imposing Mount Fuji and scenic Lake Kawaguchi.

The Alila Experience’s Cave Adventure Via Ferrata in Oman is for the adventurous Credits: Alila Jabal Akhdar

The Alila Experience’s Cave Adventure Via Ferrata in Oman is for the adventurous
Credits: Alila Jabal Akhdar


Adventure travelers and nature lovers looking to visit Oman in style flock to Alila Jabal Akhdar, a luxury resort nestled 6,000 feet above sea level in the Al Hajar mountains. Guests are encouraged to explore nearby hiking trails, which extend past farmlands filled with walnut trees and pomegranate bushes. Thrill seekers opt for challenging via ferrata treks that lead to jaw-dropping scenery, such as Al Khutaymi, the site of a hidden village within a cave.


For such a densely populated country, India offers a surprising number of world-class hiking destinations, perhaps none more notable than the Himalayan city of Shimla. Well-heeled travelers gravitate to Wildflower Hall, an Oberoi Resort, the stately former residence of a British lord, where guests lose themselves in nature via guided walks through the surrounding landscaped hill slopes.

Nearby, The Oberoi Cecil presents guided nature walks in the village of Annadale. After descending through rhododendron and cedar forests, hikers pause for a relaxing picnic lunch beside a bubbling stream.

Exodus Travels takes travelers to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas Credits: Exodus Travels

Exodus Travels takes travelers to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas
Credits: Exodus Travels


Spread across more than 4,000 acres in Tecate, Rancho La Puerta—one of Mexico’s most acclaimed wellness resorts—offers hiking-focused activities for all fitness levels, and employs a concierge with whom guests can take hiking lessons. In addition to challenging hikes, serious trail runners and marathoners can take to the foothills of Mount Kuchumaa to train across numerous trails at different altitudes.


Located in Park City, the Montage Deer Valley resort presents a variety of easily accessible hikes. And visitors looking to take their brushes with nature to another level can opt for a Montage Expedition. These intimate, personalized adventures see resort guests take a private plane to Yellowstone or Canyonlands National Park, where expert tour guides lead hikes past myriad highlights.

Nature lovers flock to the city of St. George for the outdoors-focused Red Mountain Resort. Positioned in the heart of southwestern Utah’s Red Rock Country, the resort sits in close proximity to neighboring Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It offers a range of customizable hiking experiences, as well as spa treatments and wellness workshops designed to help recovery after a long day on the trails.

Hiking through Uganda with Intrepid Travel Credits: Damien Raggatt - Intrepid Group

Hiking through Uganda with Intrepid Travel
Credits: Damien Raggatt – Intrepid Group


Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the adults-only Ventana Big Sur resort sits on 160 acres of rolling meadows and towering redwoods along California’s scenic Central Coast. Guests revel in daily guided walks, plus dedicated adventure hikes and Big Sur excursions.

Devotees of The Ranch Malibu—one of America’s most lauded and influential wellness retreats—swear by its daily regimen that pairs nutrition-focused, plant-based meals with rigorous fitness classes and guided mountain hikes. The knowledgeable staff and revitalizing atmosphere attract visitors from around the world, and for those who have already had the signature Malibu experience, The Ranch offers similar retreats in the Dolomites of Northern Italy, where guests hike along alpine trails with professional guides.


Accessible only by boat, seaplane, or helicopter, the Sonora Resort attracts nature lovers to its home in B.C.’s Discovery Islands. Guests hike alongside the property’s ecological guide and pass through old-growth cedars—some more than 800 years old—while learning about ancient remedies and local history. Once back at the resort, vacationers keep an eye out for orcas, dolphins, sea lions, and more.

Adrenaline junkies looking to take their hikes to another level are attracted to the famous granite spires of the Bugaboos, found in the Purcell Mountains of southeastern B.C. CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures delivers hikers by helicopter; for takeoffs and landings, participants huddle as a group and hold on tight, due to hurricane-force winds created by the rotor. Hardcore types tackle the Skyladder Via Ferrata, a half-day vertical journey up Mount Trundle (no climbing experience necessary), while others can simply admire shale ridges and alpine meadows.


Tierra Hotels—a trio of boutique, all-inclusive lodges, each inspired by nature—provides guided hiking excursions through some of Chile’s most scenic locales. Located on the edge of the famed Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia offers guided hikes both inside and outside the park. From its base in the northern Atacama desert, Tierra Atacama lets guests hike through the striking Valle de la Luna. Situated off the coast of northern Patagonia, Tierra Chiloe—the newest of the three—delivers a quiet environment for peaceful hikes, not to mention penguin and dolphin spotting.


Wilderness Scotland and its sister company, Wilderness Ireland, offer guided walking trips with highlights such as Scotland’s North Highlands Coast, West Highlands Way, and Speyside Way, and Ireland’s Dingle Way and the mountains of Connemara and Mayo. Participants choose between hill walks, coastal walks, and valley hikes, and a grading system ensures the right difficulty level. Wilderness Scotland also offers self-guided walks in which guests go at their own pace with the freedom to explore along the way, while being assisted via baggage transfers and 24-hour support.

A Wilderness Scotland tour through beautiful scenery and ruins on the North Highlands Coast Credits: Wilderness Scotland-Rupert Shanks

A Wilderness Scotland tour through beautiful scenery and ruins on the North Highlands Coast
Credits: Wilderness Scotland-Rupert Shanks

Homes & Land of the Adirondacks

Select Sotheby’s International Realty is excited to announce that one of our unique and distinctive properties in the Adirondacks has been featured on the cover of Homes & Land of the Adirondacks. This private mountain, represented by Associate Real Estate Broker Keir Weimer, boasts 180 acres of prime land with stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains. Sitting 2300 feet above sea level, this mountaintop setting is an architect’s dream with endless possibilities. The land also includes 1000 feet of waterfront on 5th Lake, which provides access to all lakes on the Fulton Chain of Lakes through the channel.

To learn more about the property or to schedule a showing, please visithttp://privateadkmountain.uniquenyhomes.com

To view the issue of Homes & Land, please visit http://www.homesandland.com/FlipBook.cfm?MagId=2271&Volume=08&Issue=01#1


New owners plan McGregor Links as year-round destination

The new owners of McGregor Links Country Club are bringing in a brewing company, installing an indoor golf simulator and renovating some of the golf course to turn the Wilton, New York country club into a year-round destination.

“We’re really pushing for the year-round. We’re really pushing to bring the country club back to families,” said Blake Crocitto, one of the new owners.

Crocitto and his business partner, William Ahl, owner of Ontario Scrap Metal in Albany, will bring in Druthers Brewing Company to run the restaurant, with cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing as recreation options.

Druthers Brewing Company, a craft brewery and restaurant based in Saratoga, will move into McGregors by April. The brewery, which is also expanding into a new Albany location, will use the space as test-kitchen to develop new beers and to brew small batches for club members. Crocitto and Ahl will add air conditioning and heating to the restaurant and expand the bar area.

McGregor will remain a semi-private club. The restaurant will be open year-round to the public.

McGregor Links is the fifth most difficult golf course in the Albany area, according to the Albany Business Review‘s Book of Lists. The country club features an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool and clubhouse.

The club has more than 440 members. Crocitto believes he can add about 100 members over the course of 2015.

“It’s a lofty goal,” he said. “We think we can get here, even possibly by the end of this season.”

Part of the draw, he said, will be an indoor golf simulator that will bring in members during the winter months to work on their game or test new equipment. The simulator will be installed in late 2015, he said.

Members can expect to see course improvements during the summer, Crocitto said. Those improvements will including patching up the fairways and greens and removing some trees for more sunlight.

“It’s really an exciting time for McGregors,” he said. “My business partner and I feel this is the best course in the area when it comes to layout, so we won’t do too much to the layout. We’ll just make it better.”

New York voters approve casino gambling expansion

As many as seven new casinos, complete with roulette and craps tables, could be built in New York state.

NY voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday to expand casino gambling in the state, according to a report by The New York Times. An unofficial tally showed that about 57 percent of voters approved the measure.

The first four casinos will be constructed in upstate NY – in the Capital Region near Albany, in the Catskills and along the Southern Tier, a region that runs along the Pennsylvania border.

Here’s The Times report:

Earlier this year, the president and majority owner of Saratoga Casino and Raceway talkedabout the impact that the casino expansion could have on his business.

Out with the inns: Adirondack destinations slowly vanishing

Before there were automobiles, before there was air conditioning, there were the Adirondacks and its all-inclusive inns.

Dinner, tennis and lakefront views were some of the amenities the inns offered guests who retreated from the sweltering cities during the summer months in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

While several traditional inns and resorts hold on to a piece of American history, others are being sold to developers poised with a wrecking ball to level the large buildings, subdivide the land and build private vacation homes to bring in the big bucks.

“Everyone will eventually — I’m sure — suffer the same fate (as Holl’s Inn in Inlet) because it’s just not economically feasible to try and eke out a living running a hotel … “ said Greg Timm, co-owner of Timm Associates Realty in Old Forge. “There’s more value in the land subdivided into parcels than there ever would be in trying to resurrect a hotel. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life.”

At least 18 inns in the Old-Forge-Eagle Bay-Inlet area have closed over the years, and while some see the trend as impending for all of the quintessential Adirondack inns, others believe there’s room in vacationers’ habits for them to be maintained.

Steven Engelhart, executive director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, said some of those still operating include Covewood Lodge and The Waldheim on Big Moose Lake, and Hemlock Hill on Lake Clear.

“It’s disappointing to hear when a big sort of historic inn like the Holl’s Inn in Inlet is going to be demolished and no longer function as an inn,” Englehart said. “That seems like a fad passing and kind of the end of an era.

“On the other hand, there are lots of examples throughout the Adirondacks of similar kinds of establishments that continue to thrive and do well.”

In contrast, Timm — who was Realtor for Holl’s Inn, a lakefront property nestled in a cove off Fourth Lake — sold the property to Pittsburgh, Pa., residents Charles and Hillary Porter. It eventually will be torn down.

He said two cottages on the premises will be restored.

Calls to Hillary Porter were not returned.

“They are not going to operate it as an inn,” Timm said. “It was in extreme disrepair.”

Fading history


A demolished portion of Holl’s Inn could be seen during a recent visit to Fourth Lake. Signs dotted the property — from the driveway to the lake shore — warning off trespassers. Many of the windows on the faded green building were boarded up, while others allowed a glimpse into the inn’s history with sights of mattresses and lamps — artifacts of an inn that once provided the American Plan to its guests.

Once upon a time, an inn providing the American Plan was the way to vacation in the Adirondacks. The plan provided lodging, meals and activities at one price.

Prices ranged from $10 to $21 per week per person in 1890 (that would be about $250 to $520 in 2012).

“They would spend a month or an entire summer on the resort,” said Jerry Pepper, director of the Adirondack Museum library. “They were trying to escape the cities.”

With large trunks in tow, Pepper said families would take trains from cities such as New York and Boston, as well areas such as Utica, to the Adirondacks, and from the station take buses or steamboats to their specific resort.

After the automobile was widely introduced in the 1920s and ’30s, he said interest in all-inclusive resorts began to decline.

And once air conditioning was commonplace in big city businesses, Pepper said shutting down for the summer became obsolete.

“More and more of the Adirondack tourism you see centered in places like Old Forge, Lake George or Lake Placid, where there are chain hotels and chain restaurants,” Pepper said. “People are seeing the Adirondacks through the windshield of a car.”

Restoring history


Despite many inns around them closing, Joedda McClain and Jay Latterman have put time, money and effort into preserving The Woods Inn in Inlet.

The inn was abandoned for 28 years. There were offers to purchase and demolish the building in later years, but Latterman said the owner was looking for someone to restore the inn, restaurant and tavern.

“It was in horrific shape. We did a complete restoration,” McClain said of the more than $1 million project. “We really wanted to get the building back up and running.”

From sinking balconies to a lack of insulation and adequate bathrooms, contractor McClain and electrician Latterman dove into the project.

They knew what they were getting into, McClain said, and now after 11 years the inn is for sale and hopefully will go to someone who will appreciate the history within.

At one time, Latterman said the inn operated with the traditional American Plan and featured tennis courts, a dance hall — where traveling bands performed — and an ice cream parlor, the latter two operating in the unused barn-like structure on the premises.

“There’s still a lot of people who appreciate the historically accurate place,” she said. “It’s a totally different experience than staying in a big box inn, or general vacation spot.”

And it was that experience that attracted Sondra Gawlikowski.

The Philadelphia woman was at the inn setting up for her Sept. 7 wedding, and said the lakefront business always was her family’s vacation spot.

“It’s a nostalgic thing. My fiancé — Andrew Zabroske — and I got engaged up here,” she said. “We wouldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.”

Nancy Martin Pratt, co-owner of The Waldheim on Big Moose Lake, said she’s the third generation of her family to manage the business, which still operates on the American Plan — featuring three meals a day, lodging, maid service and a camp picnic mid-week.

They also have a “fire boy” who comes to each cottage and lights a fire in the fireplace each morning, Pratt said.

“We’re kind of at the end of the road, so it’s kind of a destination spot,” she said. “We’ve watched other businesses come and go, and I don’t know, it’s a miracle, I guess.”

Pratt said her family — the Martins — have owned the establishment, which features 17 cottages, since 1904 and have maintained a loyal customer base.

Plus, her family’s dedication also keeps The Waldheim in business.

“I think they come to value what we stand for, which is family,” Pratt said. “Our family, but also the connection with other families who have come for years.”

There is a lot of family tradition with inns still in operation, Engelhart said, which is a key distinction between them and the “homogenized” places you can stay, no matter where you are in the country.

“People are seeking out places that are distinct, that are different, that are intimate, that are unusual,” he said. “I think that’s part of what the appeal of these places is. Hopefully (they) only continue to be more sought out.”

Home sales improve in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties

Warren and Washington counties posted double-digit increases in home sales in 2012, reflecting what industry experts are calling a strong recovery in home prices and the number of sales.

Growing consumer confidence, general improvement of the economy and pent-up buyer demand are three factors industry experts see as contributing to the rebound from a lackluster 2011.

“Interest rates are historically low, and people are feeling better about the economy, too,” said Jim Ader, CEO of the Greater Capital Region Association of Realtors. “For so many years, there wasn’t a day that went by where we didn’t hear about how bad the economy was.”

Increases were reported statewide and in Saratoga County from the previous year in the number of home sales, although both of those were slightly more modest gains than in Warren and Washington counties.

“Looking at the year-end numbers we can confidently call the housing market in full recovery mode,” said Duncan MacKenzie, CEO of the New York State Association of Realtors. “The 2012 market featured four consecutive quarters of sales growth and inventory moved continually closer to a balanced market.”

Locally, increased confidence among home buyers and sellers is evident. Buyers are generally feeling better about their economic standing; while with value returning to the housing market, sellers are more confident about selling their homes for what they’re worth, said Tom VanAernem of VanAernem Realty.

VanAernem is president of the Warren County Board of Realtors.

Home prices have been reduced in past years in Warren and Washington counties, which could account for the spike in sales in the two counties in 2012, VanAernem said.

“A lot of houses have been reduced in price,” he said. “You get a lot of value for your buck around here.”

VanAernem Realty saw a steady increase in phone calls in 2012, and sales stayed strong through December, he said.

In early 2012, when real estate agents and industry experts looked back at 2011, the feedback was less positive. In 2011, home sales had dropped statewide and in Washington and Saratoga counties, while home sales in Warren County had increased by 6 percent from the previous year.

Washington County saw the largest increase in home sales in 2012, with a 17 percent rise, but Warren County wasn’t far behind with a 14 percent increase. Both counties reported year-over-year increases in December home sales, according to the statistics released recently by the New York State Association of Realtors.

Saratoga County home sales increased by 3 percent in 2012, while home sales statewide increased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Activity in the Capital Region housing market increased in 2012, and median and average home sale prices rose, marking a return to a market more balanced between buyers and sellers.

The median home sale price in the state was $215,000 in 2012, a 1.2 percent increase in value from the previous year.

Activity in the region stayed strong in January, Ader said.

“We do expect 2013 to be a good year — we’re optimistic,” he said.

To view the original article, click here

Buy Land or Buy Sea

To know the MacKenzie-Childs name is to recognize, with a nod and a wink, the visionaries who launched a playful take on home furnishings decades ago – with a fresh line of ceramics and furniture that rescued dull decorating palettes everywhere.

But the inside story is the way the couple transformed their own surroundings, making them as vibrant and whimsical as the art they still create every day, from the crisp and colorful clothes they wear to the plump footstools in their living room.

Come, view the masters at home…Click here to visit the article and continue reading

Albany-area housing slump “slowly coming to an end,” Realtors say

Home sales in the Albany, New York, region continued to improve in July, a trend that the area’s largest Realtors group said shows “the housing slump is slowly coming to an end.”

Closed sales of new and existing single-family homes increased 4 percent in July compared to a year ago, and sales are up 12 percent for the first seven months of the year compared to the same period in 2011, according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.

A total of 716 homes sold in July, based on the preliminary report. There were 4,338 sales year-to-date.

The figures are typically revised upward as some agents report their sales after the monthly report is compiled.

The median sale price in July increased 4 percent, to $200,000, and the average price increased 3 percent, to $230,278.

The median is the point at which half the sales were more and half were less. It is considered a better gauge of the overall market than the average.

The report is based on sales through the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service. The CRMLS spans 11 counties, but most sales are in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties.

Another positive sign: pending sales in July increased 13 percent. Pending sales measures the number of contracts signed, rather than the number of closed sales. Since it typically takes about two months for a contract to proceed to a closing, it looks as if the rebound will continue.

“It appears safe to say that increased sales are now a trend,” GCAR Chief Executive OfficerJames Ader said, “a trend we expect to continue through year end.”

Increased demand, a smaller inventory of homes for sale, historically low mortgage interest rates and improved consumer confidence are factors driving the improvement in the local real estate market.

Even with the turnaround, the market is still considerably softer than during the boom years of the mid-2000s. In 2007, for instance, there were 5,549 homes sold during the first seven months of the year, or 28 percent more than this year.

Unlike other areas of the country where prices dropped by double digits during the recession, Albany-area home values did not suffer as much. The median price year-to-date in 2007 was $191,900, compared to $189,900 today.

Here are the results in July for the four largest counties:

• Albany: pending sales up 23 percent; closed sales up 7 percent; average price up 1 percent to $247,805; median price up 5 percent to $219,900

• Rensselaer: pending sales up 18 percent; closed sales down 1 percent; average price down 7 percent to $182,547; median price down 8 percent to $166,000

Saratoga: pending sales up 2 percent; closed sales up 4 percent; average price up 2 percent to $287,266; median price up 5 percent to $265,000

Schenectady: pending sales up 2 percent; closed sales up 6 percent; average price up 12 percent to $202,539; median price up 3 percent to $179,000

Written by : Michael Demasi – The Business Review

Click here to view the original article :http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2012/08/22/albany-area-housing-slump-slowly.html?ana=e_du_pub&s=article_du&ed=2012-08-22&page=all

NY bred horses top the auction results

This August, the horse sales at the Fasig Tipton pavilion produced excellent results for NY bred horse stables.  The Business review recently reported the this year was a record sale year since the worst of the recession.  The increase in exposure from Video lottery terminals at various race tracks around the state has had a positive impact in the thoroughbred industry as projected.  Perhaps these improved market conditions are a sign that investors will become enthusiastic about NY equine facilities again as well.  The pace of sales for NY horse farms has been slow over the past couple of years, but this sign may be the start of a turn


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State to Buy 69,000 Acres in Adirondacks

New York State is acquiring the biggest chunk of land in the Adirondacks in more than a century.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Sunday the acquisition of 69,000 acres that he said would preserve a significant portion of the upper Hudson River watershed.

Mr. Cuomo said the $49.8 million purchase would bolster state tourism, with new destinations for those who love water sports, hiking, hunting and snowmobiling. He said it would be the first time the land had been open for public use in 150 years.

The land is being sold to the state over a five-year period by the Nature Conservancy, which bought a 161,000-acre timberland property in 2007, managing much of it with the intent to protect the land.