Posh Caribbean spots for couples
All suites at St. Lucia's luxury adults only Jade Mountain have views of the island's famous pitons. JADE MOUNTAIN PHOTO
Q: Are there any posh spots in the Caribbean with cool views that are good for couples? We want to avoid those budget family all inclusives.
-- R. Stephens, Toronto
A: The Caribbean is full of posh spots. Here are three suggestions:
* Imagine a paradise island with perfect sunsets, cool tropical breezes, white powder beaches and the bluest water your eyes have ever seen. That is what you'll find at Cap Juluca in Anguilla. Jetsetters from around the world are attracted to the enclave for its breathtakingly beautiful beach and rooms with a view.
The private pool villa suites -- brilliant white villas surrounded by lush foliage -- are the ultimate glam retreat. There's even a villa manager to meet your every whim.
* In Antigua, Hermitage Bay is nirvana on earth. Nestled in a quiet cove surrounded by jungle on the island's west coast, there is nothing typical about this small all-inclusive luxury hotel. The decor is uber stylish -- mocha-coloured hardwood floors, dreamy white linens and the piece de resistance: A secluded plunge pool surrounded by lounge chairs with fluffy white cushions. The hillside cottage suites No. 37 to No. 39 boast the ultimate views.
* On St. Lucia, Jade Mountain might look familiar. This chic place has been featured on TV's The Bachelor. The 25-room boutique property is an adults-only all-inclusive, which has secluded suites accessible via a suspended sky bridge. Butlers there are called "Major Domo" and the suites are referred to as "sanctuaries." There's Moon, Sun, and the ever popular two Galaxy sanctuaries. All the suites have an unbroken views of St. Lucia's famous Gros and Petit Pitons.
Air Canada Vacations has packages for these luxe Caribbean properties, any of which make for fabulous fashionable couple getaways. For bookings, see your travel agent.
Q: Can you suggest some attractions in Madison County, N. Y? Our tastes lean to trying local beers and visiting historic sites.
-- N. Gillette, Scarborough
A: Located in the heart of the state, this county is big on history.
Jim Walter, who heads up Madison County Tourism, describes his home county as the "epicentre" of the Underground Railroad.
"In Peterboro alone, we have the National Abolition Hall of Fame Museum and the Gerrit Smith National Historic Landmark."
Smith was one of the most powerful abolitionists of the day, and both landmarks are part of the Heritage NY Statewide Underground Railroad Trail.For about 50 years during the 19th century some of the most famous figures in the United States got off the train in Canastota and made the 90-minute trip by coach, carriage or sleigh into the hills of Madison County to Peterboro.
"Frederick Douglass (an escaped slave and abolitionist leader) did it frequently. Many prominent African Americans (came). Numerous fiery abolitionists (came). They came to see Gerrit Smith, to stay in his mansion, to enlist his support, and to draw up plans," retired county judge Hugh C. Humphreys said of the site's significance.
As you drive around the bucolic county, you may also notice -- and smell -- the hops farms sprouting up along the back roads.
"Madison County used to be the supplier of hops for America," Walter said. But the local industry withered, first with prohibition and later the trend to mass beer production.
Now there's a micro-brewery revival. Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse is one example. Empire has a restaurant but also supplies beer to local businesses. (The website lists locations.)
In addition, several area hops farms are open for tours, including Climbing Bines Hop Farm in Penn Yan (on Route 14 between Geneva and Watkins Glen on the west side of Seneca Lake, see climbingbineshopfarm.com for schedules). For general travel information on Madison County, visit madisontourism.com.