Travel and Adventure Show 2015

Wednesday February 11, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

Now in its fifth year, the Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show attracts people from around the greater San Francisco Bay Area. This was my first time attending the two-day show. With over 500 exhibitors, the Santa Clara Convention Center was buzzing with travel enthusiasts learning the latest travel trends and destinations and shopping for travel apparel. Here are five things that I learned at the Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show.


Winery San Francisco, wine, travel & adventure show

My custom blend from Winery San Francisco. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


I. Wine tasting on San Francisco’s Treasure Island
Did you know that you can go wine tasting on Treasure Island? The Winery San Francisco offers California wines paired with some of the Bay Area’s best water views. I had the pleasure of creating my own custom wine blend using three varietal wines (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) on tap at the travel show. Guests 21 and older were offered a special wine pairing and tasting session (for an additional fee.)

bay area travel show

Bay Area Travel Show. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


2. Travel experts share their secrets
Travel experts such as Samantha Brown, Rick Steves and Peter Greenberg share how travel has changed, smart European travel tips and what the airlines don’t want you to know. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for snapping the ultimate travel selfie at the show without setting foot at the airport.
3. Travel apparel
If you travel as often as I do, you become an expert at how to pack light. With 18 tech-ready pockets, I’m a fan of the Scottevest for my equestrian travel. A new find for me this year was Clothing Arts and their Pick Pocket Proof Pants. Founded by Adam Rapp, the clothing company offers more items for men than women, but he’s working on introducing clothing beyond the women’s travel pants. Stay tuned.

"Safari Endeavour" Alaska

Safari Endeavour for the noncruiser. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


4. Crusing
Alaska cruises are still on the hot list for 2015, but have you considered a cruise in Costa Rica, Panama or the Galapagos? Closer to home, UnCruise Adventures offers “edutainment” cruises with crew dressed in period costume on the Columbia and Snake River.
5. Exploring California
Living in California, we don’t have to travel far to experience something new. This year I look forward to exploring Amador, Calaveras and El Dorado counties, in addition to a stay at The Heritage House in Mendocino county. Where will your travels take you?

Korea tourism, travel & adventure show

Meeting new friends from Korea.


Insider Tip:

travel channel, San Francisco travel showTravel & Adventure Show app
The Travel & Adventure Show offers a free downloadable app. TAS Trip Finder features a schedule of events, floor plan, exhibitor list, social news and all the information a person needs to keep organized during the show.

If You Go:
Travel & Adventure Show
Santa Clara Convention Center
5001 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, California 95054

Napa Valley Boutique Hotel

Friday February 6, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

A Napa Valley retreat for the senses, Senza ignites your sight, smell, touch and taste experiences. Situated in the heart of Northern California wine country, between downtown Napa and Yountville, this boutique hotel is a retreat for the mind, body and soul.

Senza, hotel, Napa, California

Entrance to Senza. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Owner Ann Hall’s sense of whimsy comes forth with Monarch butterflies suspended in the air, moved by soft Napa Valley breezes. Icelandic statues stand guard in the front of the luxury Senza hotel, welcoming guests to step inside the modern 41 room compound, while an installation of tiny blue butterflies swarm like bees to a hive up the staircase in Senza hotel.

Parker Mansion, Senza, Napa, California

Parker Mansion photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The hotel grounds are divided into five separate buildings; the Parker Mansion dating back to 1870 houses eight rooms, the Senza House includes 12 rooms, in addition to the dining room, reception and lobby, the Hall Building is home to 10 rooms, the Walt Building holds eight rooms and the Cellar House features three rooms. There is also a heated swimming pool with cabanas, separate hot tub, conference room, fitness center (open 24/7) and spa facilities.
pool, Senza hotel, Napa, California

Relax in the pool and hot tub. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

After I dropped my bag in the Cellar House king room, I stepped outside on the communal deck to take in the vineyard view and water tower. The two acre property includes pine and redwood trees, in addition to vineyards. No surprise there, as the Hall family is a well-known player when it comes to Napa Valley wines. Tastings may be arranged by appointment only at the exclusive Hall-Rutherford Vineyard, while tasting is open daily at the Hall-St. Helena Winery. Hat tip to the family for offering a nightly wine and cheese tasting hour at Senza that includes a nice selection of neighboring vintners. During my mid-week visit, St. Supery was pouring their 2012 Napa Valley Estate Élu, a Bordeaux blend retailing for $75. that Robert Parker rated very highly – if points are how you select your wines. Personally, I chose my wines like my hotel beds, if it makes me feel good, I like it.
Senza hotel, Napa, California

Vineyard views from the deck. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

wine & cheese tasting, Senza, Napa, California

Nightly wine & cheese tasting. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

On that note, my Cellar king room #16 was very spacious and light-filled with a kitchenette, fridge & microwave oven. All hotel rooms come with a gas fireplace and generous sized walk-in shower. If you prefer a wood burning fireplace, you’ll want to stay in the Parker Mansion. Rooms come with robes, slippers to take home, free wifi, two bottles of water and a small bottle of Senza lavender mist to spray on your pillow for guaranteed sweet dreams.
Senza, hotel room, Napa, California

Cellar House king room. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Continental breakfast served from 7:30-10 a.m. includes fresh juice, coffee, tea or espresso, yogurt, fruit, cheeses and pastries from nearby Bouchon Bakery in Yountville – yum! Whether you’re headed downtown to do Napa like a local, or looking for things to see and do in Calistoga – up valley, be sure to take time to stop and smell the roses. Afterall, Senza is all about creating an experience that stirs your passions while blending big city sophistication with wine country charm.
Senza dining room, Napa, California

Breakfast is served. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip
Ask about the California resident rate during the off season. Shhh! It’s like the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger, only better. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and @SenzaHotelNapa.

Monarch butterfly, Senza, Napa, California

Monarch butterfly photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Check-In Time: 3:00pm

Check-Out Time: 11:00am

If You Go:
Senza (707) 253-0337
4066 Howard Lane
Napa, California 94558

Hotel review, video and photos courtesy of Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Senza while researching an article for another publication.

Lonely Planet Debuts New Kids Book Series

Wednesday February 4, 2015 at 9:09 PM | 0 Comments

Parker discovering Martian volcanoes.

Parker discovering Martian volcanoes.

Lonely Planet is renowned for their travel guides, cool website, and mobile apps, but did you know that they now offer a series of children’s books?

LP approached us here at What a Trip and offered to send us a couple of books from their new series, Lonely Planet Kids to review. There are five titles in the series—Amazing World Atlas, How to be a Space Explorer, Adventures in Busy Places, Adventures in Cold Places and Adventures in Wild Places. We chose The Amazing World Atlas and How to Be a Space Explorer by Mark Brake.

I was immediately taken by the look and quality of the books. Both are beautifully-designed hardcovers with thick glossy pages, packed with illustrations, infographics, photos, facts, and local lore.

Parker, my ten-year-old daughter curled up with How to Be a Space Explorer and told me it was “super interesting” and she liked the fact that “facts were weaved into a story.” Among the tidbits she learned was that there are two types of fuel in rockets—solid and liquid—and many different types of robots that have gone to the moon and Mars.

My son Roman is seven and we read through The Amazing World Atlas over several bedtime sessions. He especially liked the little sidebars throughout—faves included an illustrated comparison between the biggest dinosaur ever known to exist that was discovered in Patagonia and a Boeing 737. The were roughly the same size in case you wondered. We also had fun with the quizzes sprinkled throughout.

I must say I learned lots too—random odd facts like the Danes eat more than 100 million hot dogs per year and that the Aral Sea, the fourth-biggest lake in the world vanished and is now a polluted desert.

Both books have a jaunty, approachable writing style with humor and engaging information. But I found the Atlas to be confusing, even with an intro that purports to explain how to use the book. I also disagreed with some of the choices for Top 10s and famous folks from different countries. I mean Americans Neil Armstrong, Sitting Bull and Mark Twain, yes. But Avril Lavigne and Jennifer Lawrence, not so much.

Roman learning about archipelagos in Southeast Asia.

Roman learning about archipelagos in Southeast Asia.

Insider Tip

With the Amazing World Atlas app kids can interact with maps, discover fun facts and test their geography knowledge. It is available in the App Store or on Google Play for $2.99 for ages 9 to 11.

Now that’s a good use for the iPad.

This post was contributed by Lisa Dion. I received complementary books from Lonely Planet for review.