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A Golfer’s Paradise: Vacationing on Amelia Island

Written on June 3, 2014 at 11:24 am , by

Written by Nichole D’Auria, art director

Nothing gives me greater hope than stepping onto a golf course and driving a ball 200 yards off the tee. Could this be the year I actually break 100? After suffering through what seemed to be the coldest winter on record, I was beginning to think I would never have the opportunity. Then, as luck would have it, the universe intervened and I was invited to spend three magnificent, sun-filled days at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort on the north coast of Florida.

From the moment I walked through the expansive lobby doors and past the two infinity pools, my eyes were set on the sand…the sand trap, that is. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A golf course on the beach? Was this heaven? After I made my way to my oceanfront room (all accommodations provide a view of the Atlantic), I knew I was in for a treat.

If you like adventure like I do, the Omni has a number of excellent options. With more than 1,350 acres, three world-class championship golf courses (which are so good that the Golf Channel’s popular Big Break reality TV series is filmed there), and an impressive tennis facility, guests can enjoy a wide variety of leisure activities, including kayaking, paddle boarding, horseback riding, sailing and swimming. I should know—I tried almost all of them. The resort also offers seven miles of oak-lined canopy trails to tempt joggers, hikers and cyclists alike. I tackled the trails on a Segway, which was both fun and hilarious.

I left Amelia Island happy, relaxed and reenergized, but wishing I could stay longer. There was still another golf game to play, a kayak to paddle, a restaurant to sample. I vowed to go back. Honestly, how many vacation spots can motivate and inspire you to look better, feel better and be better, all while enveloping you in a spa-like atmosphere? And hey, I still need another day—or three or four—on the golf course to finally break 100!

More from FITNESS: 

 Florida’s Best Kept Secret: Port Saint Joe

Panama: Where You Can Play Hard, Day and Night

The Fit Girl’s Guide to Exploring Aruba

Florida’s Best Kept Secret: Port Saint Joe

Written on May 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm , by

Written by Karina Dearwood, associate photo editor 

Out on the Florida Panhandle, about an hour east of Panama City, lies Port Saint Joe. The quaint Gulf County beach town offers a boatload of fun all in one spot—perfect for a fit gal! Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to visit the hidden gem for a few days and naturally fell in love with the laid-back vibe, active lifestyle and finger-licking good food. Here’s why you should add Port Saint Joe to your “To Travel” list:

To start, Gulf County has the charm and flair of the south—in the best possible way. The food is fantastic (po’ boys, hush puppies, sweet tea, the works!) and the people are beyond friendly (Now I forget this, being a New Yorker and all, but people outside of the concrete jungle actually wave and say hello to strangers). The fact that residents are also deeply rooted to the area, whether they are recent transplants or have been fishing there for generations, makes you feel all the more welcome.

To kick off my trip, I headed out on a pontoon boat through Saint Joseph’s Bay, up to the Intercoastal, where my fellow travelers and I learned about how the area is the world’s foremost supplier of Tupelo honey. We got a tour of a Donnie’s Bees, a small honey producing facility—did you know that even in this day and age, honey can only be cultivated by humans and not machines? Crazy! Donnie put us to work feeding the honeycomb through the machine, but we were rewarded with our own jar. I’ve been swirling mine into my tea ever since!

We then hopped back on our boat for an excursion through the Dead Lakes, which were formed years ago when sandbars blocked the Chipola River. A resulting flood killed thousands of trees, leaving eerie-looking stumps popping out across the lake. Add some fog to that scene because of some rainy weather? A perfect, tranquil spot. We had a fantastic guide, Matt Godwin from Off the Map Expeditions, who navigated the strangely beautiful maze with ease. 

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Telluride, Colorado: The Vacation Spot Perfect for Snow Bunnies

Written on March 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm , by

I felt like I was home the second I touched down in Colorado’s tiny Montrose Airport two weeks ago. The sun tickled my pasty skin as I  bounded off of my puddle jumper plane with a list of to-dos a mile long—pee, claim baggage, find my shuttle, etc.—yet all of those thoughts and former stresses seemed to disappear in thin air (literally, hello altitude) when I laid eyes on the snowcapped mountain skyline. Holy snowplow. I could get used to this.

As a self-proclaimed “summer girl” who finds winter’s only redeeming quality to be powder-packed slopes, it has been a dream of mine for far too long to experience trails (both “groomies” and glades) out West. So when I was invited on a trip to Telluride, I felt like a kid in Toys-R-Us the week before Christmas—wide-eyed, jaw ajar the entire five days I spent gallivanting about. But is the skiing really that much better than the Northeast? Like, worth the extra travel and lugging of clunky equipment? Abso-freaking-lutely. The conditions rocked the socks off my go-to stomping grounds (while lacking that bone-gnawing bitter cold us Northerners are all accustomed to), and the town itself had the local charm a city dweller craves…without sacrificing cell service. From backcountry hikes and wildlife tours to snowmobiling and gaga-worthy dining views, the destination is a fit gal’s heaven. And the food? I can’t even begin to explain the flavor explosion my taste buds experienced. It had the high-end Manhattan quality, touting a local farm-to-table flair. Insert your choice of an expletive adjective to describe the melt-in-your mouth pork belly.

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Have You Joined #GetFitParty? You Could Win a Trip to Aruba!

Written on January 20, 2014 at 9:51 am , by

In the beginning of 2014, there are a lot of hopes and dreams. Not only about goals you want to accomplish (and will!), but about trips you want to take, places you’re eager to explore and adventures you’re excited to experience. If you’ve joined the #GetFitParty, you’re already well on your way to crushing those goals (one reader has already dropped 5 pounds!). If you haven’t joined, well, what are you waiting for?! Between the four-week workout plan that sheds unnecessary pounds off your figure, the “I refuse to starve or eat tasteless food” meals that energize your bod, and the digital support that’s waiting for you around every social media corner (with weekly prizes happening on Insta), there’s no reason to miss the fun. But if that’s still not enough, we have one more thing to entice you.

A four-night getaway – on us! – to Aruba, where you’ll stay at the swanky Hotel RIU Palace Aruba. Guys, I’ve seen this place up close and personal, and I can tell you one thing: it’s gorgeous. But that’s not all, of course. The winner of this trip gets to bring a date, and both of you will head off on a snorkel-and-sail excursion (I saw ship wrecks on mine!) and be treated to a blissful spa massage. Because every fit girl deserves a little down time to unwind and boost muscle recovery. And if that’s not enough for your adventurous selves, there’s plenty more to do – you can see our top recommendations here, but I love the idea of taking a jeep ride through the rugged Arikok National Park, swimming in Conchi, the Natural Pool or kayaking in the crystal-clear ocean waters.

After all that, we know you’re ready to get in on the action. So sign up for the Better Body plan here, which enters you to win this fabulous trip (or you could score a StairMaster!). And don’t forget to follow – and use – the #getfitparty hashtag online to keep you motivated on the journey of your “fit in ’14″ goals.

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Panama: Where You Can Play Hard, Day and Night

Written on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 am , by

 

That’s me ziplining in the Anton Valley!

Written by Kathy Green, managing editor

It’s January and most of the U.S. is in a deep freeze.  What better time to plan a trip to somewhere warm!  How about Panama?  I was there recently as a guest of the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  The temperature was perfect (it’s always around 80 degrees) and their eco-tourism is growing.  There are lots of daily flights, which makes it an easy, sunny destination for a break from the cold.

Before this trip, my only association with Panama was the canal, but I discovered there is a lot to do there. My travel buddies and I drove for about 2 hours outside of Panama City to the Anton Valley—a rich rainforest that is a volcano crater.  We hiked into this beautiful park and then zip-lined over a tremendous waterfall called Charro el Macho.  I had never tried ziplining before, and soaring through the lush canopy was truly a special experience.

After ziplining, it unfortunately started to pour, but that didn’t stop us from ATVing around the hillsides of the valley.  Even in the rain, we had a great time.

We also discovered the Soberania National Park, just 20 minutes outside of Panama City. A rainforest this rich with wildlife so close to civilization is a true find.  When we entered the park, the guide told us we’d possibly see monkeys, kinkajous and an abundance of birds and plant-life. Soberania delivered on beauty and rainforest magic­­­­—just as we started off on our three-hour hike, we found a sloth high up in a tree relaxing in the sun.

My friend Jennifer and I ATVing in the rain!

An added perk from Soberania? Driving right by the Panama Canal to get there and back from Panama City.  So even though we didn’t have time to take a tour, we did stop and take pictures of ships going through the locks.

So if you like to party as much as you like to hike, the perfect place to stay in Panama City is the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  It’s located right near the harbor and attached to a large shopping mall filled with stores such as Diesel and Nike (shopping and partying—what’s not to like?!). I stayed in a beautiful suite with a great view of the skyline and ships lined up to go through the canal. With no time for a pedicure before leaving New York City, hitting up the spa (at a reasonable price) was the perfect prep for the Hard Rock night scene.

The hotel is full of incredible rock n’ roll memorabilia and it has the greatest room service offer—you can get a Fender electric guitar or personal DJ box delivered so you can be a rock legend in your very own room. It is a party-hardy place with great restaurants (we ate in two of them–Soy and Tauro and the food was first-rate), bars (the roof bar has awesome views of the city) and a happening club called BLING—THE place to be seen in Panama City (Justin Bieber was hanging out there a couple of nights with his entourage). The DJ was exceptional, and my friends and I had a blast dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Calorie burning, right?

BLING, the trendiest club in Panama City

 

But if hiking isn’t your thing, and you’re not quite into the party scene, there are plenty of other things to satisfy your thirst for adventure in Panama. Try a visit to the Old City, bike along the Amador causeway or go to one of the great beaches on either the Caribbean or Pacific coasts.  Plus one essential perk: a Panama vacation can be reasonably priced. And we know that’s the real reason to start booking your next vacation.

Photos courtesy of Jim Raycroft

Fit Links: 14 Frozen Desserts and a Speedy Summer Vacation Workout

Written on June 21, 2013 at 11:29 am , by

Don’t melt in the heat! (Photo by Claire Benoist)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

 

Fun, Fit, Fab: A Miami Getaway

Written on August 3, 2012 at 10:14 am , by

At Turnberry much of the cuisine is prepared with seasonally fresh ingredients from the hotel chef’s garden.

Written by Nichole D’Auria, Art Director

It wasn’t more than a week after I began craving a spa getaway that I was invited to spend five indulgent days at two of Miami’s best resorts. My itinerary, courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitor Bureau, included golf and tennis lessons, rock climbing, paddle boarding, a DJ dance class, breakfast with a nutritionist, a massage and shopping. And spa treatments, of course. What more could I ask for?

My journey began at the Turnberry Isle resort in Aventura, just north of Miami. Renowned for its world-class championship golf courses, which are good enough for Michael Jordan (yes, I actually spotted him there!), and tennis facilities, this luxe hotel boasts a three-story spa and fitness center. While you’re there, treat yourself to a magical reflexology foot massage. Request Pilar, who has over 15 years experience with the hotel. Believe me, after hours of pavement pounding (did I mention that South Florida’s leading shopping destination—Aventura Mall—with more than 300 stores is conveniently located across the street?), your feet will thank you.

Be sure to also sign up for the golf and tennis lessons. The ones I took were among the best I ever had, and I’ve taken a lot of golf lessons. Thanks to my instructor Gary Knapp, I’ve already knocked a few strokes off my game! Read more

Fashion Diaries: A Mexican Adventure

Written on December 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm , by

Hola from Playa del Carmen! I’m blogging straight to you from the gorgeous and brand new (like no one has slept in the sheets yet, new) all-inclusive resort, Paradisus Playa del Carmen, for the next few days! Crazy, I know. I’m pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to experience all that this resort has to offer and I am so excited to be here on behalf of FITNESS Magazine!

I arrived yesterday afternoon to a glass of champagne (hard at work, or hardly working? I’ll let you decide) and a lovely staff. Shortly after, I ate a fabulous lunch by one of the resorts many pools and then got to experience a tequila tasting with a few other editors who are on this amazing adventure with me. I learned so much about one of my favorite liquors, and here is a little secret tip for you…you can actually sip on tequila! Most of us are used to the quick shot, lime and salt tradition, but if you sip your tequila, like you would a scotch or brandy, you will be less likely to drink multiple glasses (or in some cases shots), therefore saving yourself some calories. See, I’m working here!

The rest of the afternoon was spent touring the massive resort, which is actually split into two separate sides: a family side and an adults only side. There are tons of pools, lots of restaurants, an amazing gym (which offers yoga, spinning, Pilates and basic aerobics!), a gorgeous spa, and so much more. You could spend hours walking around this place—which we did. Can someone say unexpected workout?! I love my job!

I’ll be back with more on Monday, including details about the spa. I’ll be getting a much needed deep tissue massage! Can’t wait!

 

Fit Links: Electronics Overload and Meatless Meals

Written on June 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm , by

Photo by Peter Tak

The scale: Love it or hate it? (Photo by Peter Tak)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Now tell us: Would you be willing to shell out a few extra dollars for a more nutritious restaurant meal?

Aloha Hawaii: My Must-Have Packing Picks!

Written on June 9, 2011 at 11:34 am , by

One of the places I'll be, the Grand Hyatt in Kauai—absolute paradise! (Photo courtesy of Grand Hyatt)

I’m off to a very beachy, sporty and sure-to-be fabulous Hawaii vacation on Friday! It’s also my long-awaited honeymoon (we got married in February!)—so I’m counting down the minutes until we’re in paradise. I’ll surely miss my SoulCycle classes, hot yoga sessions and runs, but I’ll definitely be getting my burn on even while I’m away! Our agenda includes learning how to surf, going for hikes, cliff jumping, ziplining through the forest (I’ll need lots of upper body strength for that!) and running on the gorgeous beaches of Kauai and Maui.

Like all vacations, packing the right stuff is crucial—especially with weight limits and extra fees for luggage.You really have to think about what you’re putting into those bags! Here’s my packing list that will guarantee that I’m well suited for any occasion:

So cute! (Photo courtesy of O'Neill)

O’Neill Superkini

When I’m learning how to surf at the Ty Gurney Surf School in Oahu, I’ll need the right bikini that will stay in place when I get hit by waves. O’Neill has introduced their newest style, which offers twice as much stay-put protection as the standard bikini. When I first tried on this suit, it felt and looked the same as any of my other bathing suits, except the interior fabric is extra soft and made with a material called Nanofront (which will stick to me when it gets wet). I’m psyched to wear it when I try to ride those waves!

The Ty Gurney Surf School specializes in individualized lessons catered to your surfing needs, and they’ll have their work cut out for them with me! I’m scared, frightened and totally nervous to try this sport. Surfing is one of those bucket list dreams for me, something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve put it off because I’m pretty scared of big waves and the possibility of playing with sharks. Yes, I love scuba diving and have enjoyed this many times so I don’t know where my fear of surfing comes from. But I’m ready to tackle this challenge and cross it off of my list! When you’re in Hawaii, I thinksurfing is something you have to try. And since pro Ty Gurney himself will be teaching me how to do it, I’m feeling more confident about this. He’s been surfing as long as he could read and even won a major championship on Hawaii’s North Shore when he was seven! I’d say I’ll be in good hands. (Check back in a few weeks for an update on how I did!)

For more luggage musts, Read more