A surprisingly delicious dinner at L’Albergo della Regina Isabella in Ischia

By Elena del Valle, photos by Gary Cox


Lacco Ameno in Ischia

This spring while we visited Ischia, an island off the west coast of Italy in the Tyrrhenian Sea we stayed at L’Albergo della Regina Isabella hotel. Our last night on the island we had an unexpected and delicious gourmet dinner at the hotel. Although Ristorante Indaco, the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, was closed for renovations we were able to sample an Indaco Tasting Menu in the hotel’s main restaurant. Chef Pasquale Padamaro, a native of Ischia, and his staff prepared an exceptional meal which we enjoyed along with a splendid night view of the Lacco Ameno town and nearby coast.

Bread and Antipasto

Handmade breadsticks and appetizers

To start there was a welcome bite of Piadina con prosciutto crudo San Daniele; also cheese, breadsticks with sesame and bread, Ricotta di bufala e acciughe di cetara, Grissini al sesamo, and Streghe. Octopus and fish tartar: Polpo alla piastra e fagioli; Antipasto tartar di palamito al basilico e cipollina le uova e il fegato alla genovese, colatura di insalata di pomodori piccatilli were next. For first courses we had: pasta with shrimp and basil sauce (a favorite), Linguine di giacomo santoleri al farro e orzo con pesto di basilico e scampi; and tiny raviolis, Cappeletti di mantecato di pezzogna con patate e provola.

Shrimp and monkfish

Monkfish with shrimp

The second course was a monkfish with perfectly cooked shrimp, Medaglione di pescatrice agli aromi e lardo di colonnata con passata di rucola e senape e gamberoni appena scottati. Pre-dessert was Centrifugato di avvogato e jogurt magro with chocolate followed by a strawberry medley dessert of strawberry cone, strawberry ice cream, and baignet of wild strawberries, Il Viaggio del pasticcere. A tray of bite sized baked sweets accompanied our hot beverages at the end of the meal.

Chef and Waiters

Our server, the chef and the maître d’hôtel

Carmine, our server, spoke English and translated the menu each time a course arrived. The pretty dinnerware that varied with each course, artistic presentation of the food including tiny flowers on the plates and an island wine to match the meal, Pigna Nera Tommasone 2006 (although it was too stout for the delicate flavors of our dinner it would have been a worthy accompaniment to a bold winter menu) rounded out the experience. The next time we visit Ischia we look forward to another dinner at the newly renovated Indaco restaurant. Click here to read about our stay at L’Albergo della Regina Isabella.

TIES seeks to recognize best practices of sustainable tourism

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) launched the annual Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Awards to recognize individuals and organizations who demonstrate leadership in innovative actions that promote sustainable tourism and bring tangible benefits to communities and conservation. The Award winners, one individual and one organization, will be honored for their best practices and innovative actions, based on one example of an innovative project, product, or program developed in the previous year that supports the goal of uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel.

Award applicants need not be members of TIES. Submissions will be judged by the organization’s Advisory Board based on one example of an innovative project, product, or program developed in the previous year that advocates for uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel.

Applications must be submitted online by August 2, 2010. Finalists will be announced by August 6, 2010. The top ten finalists’ submissions (five individuals and five organizations) will be posted on Your Travel Choice Blog from August 6, 2010 to August 20, 2010. Project stakeholders, supporters and TIES members will be encouraged to comment on finalist submissions. The advisory board will take testimonial comments in making the final selections August 25th, 2010.

The winning two finalists will be honored at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2010 (ESTC 2010), receive one free registration to ESTC 2011 and be recognized through TIES website, ESTC website and e-newsletters. More information on TIES Innovation Awards and nomination instructions are available at: www.ecotourism.org/innovation-awards.

Intimate luxury hotel redefined medieval romance of Bruges for me

Article and photos by Josette King

The Grote Markt is a favorite gathering spot with tourists

Bruges is unique; a city where time stood still at the height of its grandeur, half a millennium ago. Today, with most of its medieval architecture intact and its 430 hectare (1.6 square mile) historic center, it is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities; one that draws an estimated two million visitors a year, many of whom come for the day. European high-speed trains have put Bruges within an easy three-hours’ reach of Paris, Amsterdam, London, and the western part of Germany, allowing sightseers a quick look on their way from one capital city to the next.

These daytime tourists tend to congregate around the Grote Markt (Market Square), the grandest square and commercial heart of medieval Bruges since the thirteenth century, dominated by its 272 foot (83 meter) belfry, and the Burg (Town Square) that was, and remains, its administrative core. The cobbled streets surrounding the two squares are conveniently lined with shops brimming with the chocolate and lace for which the city is famous, ensuring that visitors do not have to stray far afield to make the most of their excursion.

Gothic mansions in the morning sun

A medieval home mirrored in an ancient canal

The Beguinage is a serene retreat at the edge of the city

But a few minutes’ walk away in any direction, the true romance of Bruges unfolds. It becomes an uncrowded, magical medieval place where time references fade away. That is the Bruges which has drawn me back several times over the decades, to leisurely wander in a world unchanged for centuries. Regal swans glide by canal-side homes and humpbacked stone bridges lead into mazes of narrow streets opening onto squares bordered by stately Gothic mansions, or culs-de-sac surrounded with whitewashed almshouses. There are always surprises, previously overlooked gems to be discovered.

The Romantik Pand Hotel was a welcoming haven of luxury

The library at the Romantik Pand Hotel

My suite overlooked the medieval skyline

On my recent visit one such jewel was the Romantik Pand Hotel, an early eighteenth century carriage house on a tiny tree-shaded square in the heart of the historic center. Owned and managed by the Vanhaecke family, the property had been lovingly transformed into a luxury boutique hotel. Personally decorated by Mrs. Chris Vanhaeke, an enthusiastic antiques collector, with superb pieces from her collection, it had the authentic feel of a gracious home from a bygone era (with the welcome addition of a whirlpool bath and WiFi Internet access in my suite).

The pleasure of my visit was further enhanced by the genuinely thoughtful hospitality of the management and staff, and the sense that no detail had been overlooked to ensure that I would feel truly at home during my visit with them. In fact, as I look back on my stay at the Romantik Pand Hotel, I suspect it may have altered the way I will think of future visits to Bruges. From now on, it will probably start with a yearning to return to the Pand, with the added bonus that it sits in the heart of one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Click here to read more about my visit to Bruges and my stay at the Romantik Pand Hotel.

Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) 2010

Information provided by our Event Partner

Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) 2010
September 8-10, 2010
Portland, Oregon (USA)

The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) 2010 (www.ecotourismconference.org) (September 8-10, 2010) will bring together 500+ business leaders, travel and tourism professionals and community stakeholders from around the world, providing THE meeting place to share the latest trends in sustainable tourism, practical ideas and solutions to the sustainability challenges facing the tourism industry.

Hosted in Portland, Oregon, a leading U.S. city that has been consistently rated “the most sustainable city” in the country, the ESTC 2010 will feature dynamic panel discussions and field sessions, public forums and social functions that offer eye-opening insights into the latest on sustainable business strategies and unparalleled networking and knowledge-sharing experiences. The ESTC is organized by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), with the support of conference sponsors and partners.

TIES welcomes Simon & Baker Tourism Review as a Media & Communications Partner for the ESTC 2010, and is pleased to extend a special partner discount (10% off regular registration rates) to all SBTR subscribers. To take advantage of this discount, please use this code ESTC10SBTR when registering for the conference (www.ecotourismconference.org/register).

A visit to Saint Lucia

Photos by Gary Cox

The Pitons in Saint Lucia

The distinctive Saint Lucia Pitons

Mention of any Caribbean island conjures images of white sand beaches, luxurious hideaways, tropical drinks, and exotic meals. One of the islands many landlubbers dream about is Saint Lucia which one of our teams visited earlier this year on a mission to discover the former British colony’s charms. Located in the eastern Caribbean between Martinique, a French island, and Saint Vincent, part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia is recognized often thanks to two distinctive hills called Pitons. It is also known for its active volcano, lush mountainous landscape and more recently for its vibrant tourism development. Read about their experience in Saint Lucia at The Jalousie Plantation and the Cotton Bay Club, the two hotels they stayed in while on the island.

Cotton Bay Village Villa 45 Living Room

The living room in Villa 45 at Cotton Bay Village

The Jalousie Plantation

The Jalousie Plantation beach and pool areas

Hummingbird in Saint Lucia

A beautiful hummingbird visiting the flowers in Saint Lucia