Sunriver: All Season Resort in Central Oregon

Friday August 22, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 3 Comments

For those of you old enough to remember the 1978 movie Same Time, Next Year starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, you’ll recall that the romantic comedy is about two lovers – married to others – who meet each year at a charming bed and breakfast located on the Northern California coast.  My husband and I share the same story in a different state – sort of. Both of us fell in love with Sunriver Resort and central Oregon in our youth. We fell in love with each other in Sunriver during our college days. Over time, we got married, had kids and eventually became empty nesters – one thing remained the same – our Sunriver vacation – same time, next year.
 

"Sunriver Marina" canoes

Float Deschutes River from Sunriver Marina


Sunriver all season resort

We have traveled to Sunriver, Oregon in winter, spring, summer and fall. However, our annual family vacation always returns us to central Oregon in late summer. This is the best time to experience high desert living, in my opinion. While Sunriver and nearby Mt. Bachelor offer plenty of winter activities, my skiing days are over due to my hip replacement.

I love Sunriver for summer sports like horseback riding, golf, biking, tennis and floating the Deschutes River in a kayak or canoe. After a full day of outdoor activities I can often be found in Sage Springs Spa. – we’re on vacation, afterall! The official name of the facility is actually Sage Springs Club Spa because there is a full fitness center above the spa, as well as an indoor pool.
 

"Sage Springs Spa"

Relax at Sage Springs Spa


 
Lodge Village rooms & suites
We’ve slept in places all around Sunriver – from private homes in Caldera Springs to lodge suites and rustic cluster cabins. Our most recent trip found us at the pet-friendly Lodge Village suites. Our two adult children stayed with the dog in the two-story suite while we enjoyed a romantic king room next door. We liked this travel arrangement because the rooms opened directly to a grassy lawn area from the wood deck. Families with young children might opt for these accommodations with two beds upstairs and a queen sleeper sofa downstairs. The kids liked that they could eat breakfast in the room as it offered a kitchen with fridge, microwave and dishwasher – wifi, too!

Sunriver Resort is a four diamond AAA award winner, carries the Green Key Eco-rating and is a member of Destination Hotels & Resorts. Our village suite rented for $316 and $221 for the king guestroom. Check the website for lodging specials and package deals.
 

"Sunriver Resort"

Pet-friendly & family-friendly lodging


 
"Sunriver Resort" room

Recently remodeled king room


 
"Sunriver Lodge" suite

Two-story suite from above


 
Insider Tip
Opened in 2012, Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center (SHARC) offers 22 acres of indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, a lazy river, hot tubs, picnic and tot areas, in addition to a tubing hill. The center has a daily fee, but guests of the Lodge Village have complimentary access to the nearby outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs.
 
"Sunriver Lodge Village" pool

Lodge Village outdoor pool


 
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @SunriverResort on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 11:00am

If You Go:

Sunriver Resort (800) 801-8765
17600 Center Drive
Sunriver, OR 97707

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Sunriver Resort. All opinions are my own.

Palazzo del Governatore, Bracciano, Italy

Wednesday August 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM | 0 Comments

The Palazzo del Governatore B&B, Bracciono, Italy

The Palazzo del Governatore B&B, Bracciano, Italy

My friend Milos invited me to visit the magical little town in Italy where he grew up. He promised to introduce me to the locals, show me around, and help me find places to stay while I produced a travel website about the area. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Everything Milos told me about Lake Bracciano, Italy, was completely true. If you’re looking for authentic Italia, the Lake Bracciano area is the place. I barely heard English or any other language beside Italian spoken during the 10 days I was there. The people are warm, the food outstanding, and the beauty staggering.

Thirty miles north of Rome, (an easy train ride from the Eternal City), lies the gorgeous, clear, azure Lake Bracciano, surrounded by three small cities—Bracciano, Anguillara, and Trevignano each 11 miles apart around the lake. The area is surrounded by “slow food” farms, vineyards, and family artisans. I was fortunate to meet some of these fine folks including Giancarlo Gentili, a pecorino cheesemaker and the winemaker from the beautiful Tenuta Tre Cancelli vineyard.

The city of Bracciano is built around the majestic 15th century Orsini-Odescalchi castle, an amazing and formidable presence and one of the most well preserved feudal castles in Europe. It’s open for public tours and I highly recommend wandering through this architectural masterpiece with a storied history. The ghost of Isabella de Medici who disposed her “low-born” lovers via a trap door in her bedroom is said to haunt the halls draped in white veils. It’s also the location of the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes wedding.

Again fortune smiled on us and we were invited to stay right beyond the castle wall at the Palazzo del Governatore B&B. The location could not be better. Our suite looked across at the castle garden and the medieval cobblestone streets. Church bells around the corner chimed the hours. It was a fairytale. Our hosts Vittoria and Ennio were incredibly gracious (Ennio even took my suitcase up the hill with him on his motorbike) and we were served breakfast in the great room with prints of ancient Roman maps and early Papal contest documents on the walls. It was like  something out of a dream.

This post was contributed by Lisa Dion of FriscoMama.com. I was a guest of the Palazzo del Governatore.

 

Houseboating Shasta Lake, CA: What to Expect

Friday August 15, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 2 Comments

A three hour drive from the San Francisco bay area to Lake Shasta, we arrived at our destination, Shasta Marina Resort, in the early afternoon. The summer sun was already beating down on us; we were happy to be greeted at Shasta Marina with misters spraying fine curtains of water overhead. Our hosts and owners of Shasta Marina Resort, Anna & John Harkrader, had fled the bay area in 1999, after successful careers and raising a family, to begin a new life on Lake Shasta. Today, their job was to teach a family of two baby boomers with two young adults, along with a yellow Labrador retriever, how to survive and thrive houseboating on Shasta Lake for three days and three nights.

"Shasta Lake" sunset

Shasta Lake Sunset

Our floating paradise

As this was our first attempt houseboating Shasta Lake, we decided on the luxurious 16 Sleeper Thoroughbred houseboat – our motto for this family vacation ‘go big or go home’. Additionally, Shasta Marina Resort offers the 16 or 14 Sleeper Mirage. Manufactured in Kentucky, the Thoroughbred is a 15 x 56 foot, full-wide cabin houseboat with a hull design, offering state rooms below deck. Two private sleeping areas with 2 queen beds, a mirror and sink, are below deck. On the main deck there were 3 state rooms, two with double beds and one with bunk beds. Naturally, “the kids” claimed the double bed rooms and we bunked in the queen stateroom below. The dining table and sofa both convert to double beds if you need the extra space.

The kitchen came equipped with stainless steel appliances, including a 28 cubic foot refrigerator with freezer and ice maker, as well as a kitchen island with bar stools, dishwasher and trash compactor. Our kitchen was stocked with Pottery Barn dishes, silverware, pots, pans, utensils and the ever important coffee maker and wine opener. The dinner plates were huge – large enough to serve Big Foot.

Failed houseboat mooring attempt

After motoring down the Sacramento River arm, we had a failed mooring attempt between Slaughterhouse Island and Thunderbolt Island on day one. “Don’t you remember the fellow saying to ‘stay away from the red clay?’” our 18-year-old questioned the patriarch and newbie houseboater who had selected what looked to be a prime spot surrounded by ankle sucking, muddy, red clay soils. The two men sunk 3 foot, wrought iron stakes into the ground, along with rope attached, to moor our houseboat for the night, only to watch them slide down the hillside like a slow moving lava flow. Sweating and cursing, my husband admitted defeat and we abandoned ship in search of solid ground.

"Shasta Marina Resort" houseboat

Our houseboat from Shasta Marina Resort

Houseboat home in Dolly Cove

With our ski boat bobbing merrily behind us like a baby duckling following mama, we found success at Dolly Cove. After high fives all around, we celebrated our mooring victory with a round of wake boarding with Shasta Dam looming in the distance. Shasta Lake was as smooth as glass that evening and offered a gorgeous mountain sunset as we grilled fresh wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon and munched on Brentwood, California sugar sweet corn on the cob, followed by a relaxing soak in the rooftop hot tub. Eureka, we had discovered California gold on Lake Shasta!

wake boarding "Shasta Lake"

Wake boarding on Shasta Lake

Lake Shasta electronic free zone

The kids liked the large flat screen tv, but quickly learned that this trip would be an electronic free zone. As we left Shasta Marina behind us, we cut loose our ties to our smartphones and television, instead turning to books, card games and remembering how to kick back and go with the flow of the lake. The entertainment center offered DVD and stereo with iPod hookup, enabling us to blast tunes while we splashed into the lake via the water slide on the top deck. Thankfully, music could be piped directly into each deck, so both the baby boomers and young adults could enjoy their own music selections.

"Shasta Lake" vacation

Shasta Lake vacation

Shasta Lake recreation

I quickly learned the boating concept of Shasta Lake. Whoever has the most water toys wins! We had our bases covered at Shasta Marina Resort as we rented a ski boat loaded with water skis, wake board and tube for towing behind the boat, in addition to our Thoroughbred houseboat. Our kids loved wake boarding and water skiing, followed with a soak in the hot tub – good for restoring tired muscles. Everyone loved splashing into Lake Shasta from the upper deck slide! Shasta Marina Resort also rents jet skis – customers must rent accompanying ski boats or jet skis for the same amount of time as the houseboat rental.

Rates vary depending on off season, mid season and high season – check the website for current pricing. High season pricing for 3 nights on the 16 Sleeper Thoroughbred was $4,620, 3 night ski boat rental was $900 for a V6 19 foot boat.

"Shasta Marina Resort" houseboat

Shasta Lake Houseboat Vacation

Houseboating insider tips

Don’t forget your sunscreen! The houseboat roofs are mostly covered, but floating in the 80+ degree lake water was how we spent much of our time.

Plan on packing all necessary food. There is a large cooler on the deck of the houseboat. The marina store sells items such as ice and basic foods, but not produce.

Bring your own bedding & towels – bed sets are available for an additional fee. Check the Shasta Marina Resort website for a complete houseboat inventory list.

Make time for star-gazing – Lake Shasta by moon light will not disappoint!

Pets are allowed for an additional fee.

Expect to pay about $400-$500 to gas the houseboat and $100-$200 for the ski boat gas; depending on usage – ours was a three day trip.

Bring several good books and plenty of bottled water. While the houseboat has clearly marked spigots – lake water and drinking water – I prefer byob (bring your own beverages.)

Keep all windows and hatch to upper deck closed when running air conditioning. In our experience, the air conditioner couldn’t keep up with the demands when cruising the lake. We found it best to moor the houseboat and explore Lake Shasta by ski boat for better fuel economy and maintaining the air conditioning inside the houseboat.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @ShastaMR on Twitter.

"Shasta Marina Resort"Check-In Time: 3:00pm

Check-Out Time: 9:00am

If You Go:

Shasta Marina Resort – Shasta Lake Houseboat Rentals
(530) 238-2284 or (800) 959-3359
18390 O’Brien Inlet Rd.

Lakehead, California 96051

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Shasta Marina Resort. All opinions are my own.