The UK’s Outdoor Scene – A Guide To Safety And Self Protection

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are geographically distinct countries, each with its own variations in climate, terrain, natural water features and topographical peculiarities.

As such, this makes the UK the ideal place for the pursuit of outdoor activities, giving those with a love of energetic and adrenalin-charged activity every opportunity to indulge their passions. Likewise, those with a desire to try something new or dip their feet in so to speak can try their hand at a new sport.

Water, land and air-based activities are all available in the UK, with certain areas offering better conditions than others for the pursuit of specialised sports. Wales and Northern Ireland, for example, have coastal regions more suited to the pursuit of sea sports. England’s Lake District is well suited to water sports such as sailing and windsurfing while areas of the Scottish highlands present good conditions for skiing in winter.

Many outdoor enthusiasts pursue their favourite activities independently, making use of their own skills and equipment, while those who are novices can take advantage of a large number of companies who offer adventure trips and holidays.

A single day of activity can be arranged or an entire vacation including a different activity each day; both are popular choices. Adventure companies provide all the equipment and know-how necessary for their customers, along with highly experienced staff trained to offer assistance at all levels.

A typical adventure holiday offers participants the chance to pursue outdoor sports such as abseiling, mountain biking, rock climbing and mountaineering as well as water sports such as canoeing and kayaking. Some of these activities can also be easily pursued alone without significant expense or the need for extensive technical knowledge, and indeed many UK residents follow them keenly as hobbies in their spare time.

Over the last few decades, amid the traditional outdoor activity scene, a selection of contemporary and trendy pursuits has become popular in the UK. The likes of bungee jumping, paint-balling, go-karting and ATV riding have gained considerable popularity and have become regular leisure time pursuits for some and one-off social events for others. Insurance for outdoors enthusiasts [http://www.travel-insurance-discounts.com/adventure_travel_insurance.htm] The specific equipment and knowledge required for these activities generally precludes them from being pursued independently.

An element of danger is inherent in the majority of outdoor sports and activities, and this is actually part of the appeal for many who pursue them. Others accept the level of danger but expect the company they use to minimise their exposure to risk and take necessary steps to protect them. If engaging in independent activity, it is up to the individual to seek appropriate cover.

Stringent health and safety regulations in the UK mean that companies take the highest precautions to ensure that no ill befalls their customers. Accidents however are an inevitability of the outdoor scene and have the propensity to not only ruin your day or entire holiday, but also to leave you out of pocket.

Pursuing an outdoor sport either independently or with a certified company is best done with the safety net of a comprehensive travel insurance policy. The right cover will ensure that you are reimbursed for any private medical expenses and for the loss or damage of valuable equipment.

While insurance used to be a costly affair, especially policies that covered dangerous activities, things have changed considerably. Travel insurance cheap packages Now cover for anything from a day to a year is possible at prices that won’t break the bank. To get an idea of how much a policy to suit your needs might cost, pay a visit to travel-insurance-discounts where you’ll find a range of general travel insurance policies. Alternatively, check out vayago where things are geared specifically to adventure holidaymakers.

Adventure Travel In Australia

Adventure travel developed as a segment of the tourism market during the latter half of the 20th century out of the more general traditional notion of outdoor recreation. Adventure travel differs from from earlier forms of outdoor recreation, however, in that it offers travelers greater opportunities to experience specific physical activities (eg. rock climbing, diving, snow-boarding, kayaking, abseiling) that involve greater levels of skill and, within acceptable limits, risk. With traditional outdoor recreation, the primary attraction is the specific setting: with adventure travel, however, travelers are attracted primarily by the activities offered. Adventure travel is therefore primarily associated with travel products where the primary purpose is to engage in activity and participatory experience rather than the more passive sightseeing associated with traditional outdoor tourism.

The travel industry has evolved considerably since the 1970s. Changes include sociodemographic shifts which have seen a growth both the disposable income and available leisure time of many travelers. Travelers generally have become more discerning, have more travel experience, and have come to enjoy the benefits of cheaper, more convenient transport and other technological advances. As a result, substantial changes occurred in the demand for international travel products. The 1990s saw rapid growth in the evolution of specific segments of the tourism market including ecotourism, nature tourism and other special interest tourism which catered for the new breed of sophisticated traveler with both the means and the will to travel.

While travel costs will always remain a significant factor in decision-making for most travelers, the notion of tourist satisfaction is today of increasing importance. Increasingly, travel products must provide something other than simple value for money to attract tourists pursuing deeper, more satisfying purposes. In short, new patterns in travel choices have emerged to accommodate a much greater spectrum of travel interests, activities and experiences. Adventure travel today is increasingly the travel mode of choice for sophisticated travellers seeking to experience a holiday rather than simply sit in a tour bus passively sightseeing.

The increasing interest of many travellers in actively experiencing their holiday has also been matched with a rapid expansion in the range and quality of travel-related equipment available, extending the capability of tour operators to deliver more diversified adventure travel products. Australia has been at the forefront of these developments, and adventure travel is now one of the fastest-growing travel market segments in that country. Continuing to grow in their scope and appeal, it appears today that the variety and availability of adventure travel products for a broad spectrum of abilities and interests and abilities is almost limitless.

In Australia, the notion of adventure in travel is inextricably linked to that of the Outback. This means that true adventure travel is more likely to be found away from the comfortable, urban east coast, and in particular away from the area located south of the Brisbane-Adelaide line where over 80% of Australians live in urban and suburban settings oblivious to the geographic, climatic and cultural realities of the majority of the Australian continent. High on the list of authentic Australian outback adventure travel destinations therefore are Central Australia and the Northern Territory, far north and western Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. The island of Tasmania also provides many exciting opportunities for adventure travel in unique wilderness areas.

Quality outback adventure tours in Australia are characterized by many factors, including the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles rather than buses, access to spectacular remote sites, provision of challenging adventure activities, and active hands-on participation in daily routines. The use of 4×4 vehicles typically allows tour operators to access more remote, difficult and spectacular country. By encouraging active participation in daily routines such as cooking, cleaning, setting camp and packing up, adventure tours engage travelers in the complete outdoor adventure experience rather than simply waiting on passive participants hand and foot.

But the real adventure element provided by the best quality tours takes the form of specific adventure activities ranging from bushwalking, rock climbing, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, through to more extreme activities such as diving, canoing, abseiling, jet-skiing, quad riding, white water rafting and hot air ballooning.

Traveling With Your Pet

You’ve decided to take your pet along on vacation. It will be more fun, and you won’t have to worry about leaving a member of your family behind in an unfamiliar kennel. With some extra planning and forethought, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip with your pet.

Taking a Road Trip

If you’re driving with your pet, you’ll need to find a comfortable and safe way for your pet to travel. You can place your pet in a carrier and secure it in the car. Alternatively, you can purchase a seatbelt-like harness for your pet that will allow him to be out of the carrier but still safely restrained. It isn’t safe to allow your pet to roam freely in the car. He can be seriously hurt in the event of even a minor accident, and he is much more likely to escape and become lost when you make stops.

Don’t leave your pet alone in the car, especially in hot weather. The heat can quickly become life-threatening. If your pet becomes carsick easily, you may want to ask your veterinarian for motion-sickness medicine before the trip.

Carry some of your pet’s food along with you, and feed your pet only small amounts of food at a time. If your trip is short, you may want to have your pet wait and eat when you arrive to avoid carsickness. You should also carry some of your pet’s water along, or purchase bottled water. Local tap water may contain different minerals or sulphur, which might upset your pet’s stomach.

Flying with your pet

Many pet owners do not like to fly with their pets because it can be traumatic for them, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Unless your pet is very small, he will fly as cargo and not in the cabin with you. Check with your airline to determine what type of carrier is acceptable and what rules apply to flying with a pet. Also ask what safety precautions are in place, what conditions the pet will fly in, etc. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is well enough to fly or if there are any special precautions you should take.

International Travel

Taking your pet out of the country requires careful planning. Check the regulations for the country you are traveling to and verify that your pet has the required vaccinations. In some cases, you’ll need to have the vaccines administred weeks before your departure date.

Most countries will require a Rabies Vaccination Certificate and a Health Certificate. Your veterinarian can help you obtain both of these. The country you are traveling to may require that you complete paperwork gaining permission to bring your pet into the country. Also, some countries have quarantine regulations that may require your pet to remain in a kennel for up to several months.

Pet Friendly Hotels

A quick search on the Internet can help you find hotels that are receptive to pets. Many travel sites also allow you to specify only pet-frienly accommodations. Check with the hotel to find their specific rules regarding staying with a pet.

If your pet requires walks, ask for a room that opens on the outside. This will be more convenient for those late night trips outdoors.

Many alternative lodging sites, such as resorts, cabins and bed and breakfasts are also open to receiving pets. Check ahead of time for availability where you’re traveling. Since many of these vacation spots offer outdoor activities, they can be great options for pet owners.

What Will your Pet do All day?

You know how you’ll travel, and you’ve found a hotel that will welcome your pet, so now what? What will your pet do all day when you’re out having fun?

An outdoor vacation is an ideal choice if you’re traveling with pets. Consider renting an RV and taking a camping vacation. Many RV rental agencies allow pets with an extra deposit. A trip to the beach is another good choice for pet owners. However, keep in mind that sand can be irritating to some pets, especially dogs with deep skin folds. Some animals are bothered by long sun exposure as well.

If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors, keep plenty of cold water on hand and watch your pet for signs of heat exhaustion.

Some restaurants now provide outdoor seating that is also pet friendly. Check ahead of time if any are available near where you are staying. If you’d like to spend mealtime with your pet and no pet-friendly restaurants are close by, you might consider takeout or even picnicing outdoors.

What if you’re taking a more traditional vacation? Many tourist attractions will not welcome your pet, and it isn’t a good idea to leave your pet alone in a strange hotel room all day. You may be able to place your pet in his carrier for shorter excursions, but for all day trips, consider researching pet daycare centers or kennels available in the area. You can leave your pet for a few hours in a safe environment but still enjoy his company on your trip.

What to Take Along

Bring your pet’s food along or plan to buy it as needed. This is not a good time to change your pet’s diet, and you should certainly avoid giving your pet any table scraps. Traveling can be stressful regardless of how careful you are, and you don’t need the added complication of stomach upset for your pet.

Don’t give your dog the local water, especially if you’re traveling internationally. It’s safer to give your pet only bottled water to avoid possible stomach upset.

Bring along any medicines your pet takes, including vitamins, flea medicines, heart worm prescriptions, etc. You should also bring some basic first-aid supplies in case of injury. Ask your veterinarian what should be included in your pet’s first aid kit. These might include medicines for stomach upset and a mild tranquilizer in case your pet becomes extremely agitated. You can purchase pre-stocked pet first aid kits at many pet supply stores.

To make your pet more comfortable, bring along a few items from home. Bring some of your pet’s bedding and a few of his favorite toys. Bring only treats your pet has eaten in the past with no stomach upset. Again, this isn’t the time to try any new foods. The carrier you bring should be large enough for your pet to remain comfortably inside for a few hours. He should be able to stand, lie down and turn around easily within it. Also, be sure your pet has fresh water available within the carrier.

A Pre-Trip Checklist

Make an appointment with your veterinarian. Have your pet examined and any vaccinations done that are needed. Ask if your pet is healthy enough to travel, and ask for advice concerning any of your pet’s health conditions. Remember that if you are traveling outside the country, you may need to plan weeks in advance.

Make sure your pet has current identification attached to his collar, and that it fits well and isn’t likely to slip off. You might want to consider having an identification chip implanted before your trip, but you’ll need to discuss with your veterinarian how soon your pet can travel after the procedure.

Gather phone numbers for veterinarians, pet emergency care facilities, kennels, etc. before you leave for each place where you’ll be staying. If an accident or illness does occur, you’ll be grateful that you don’t have to take the time to find someone to care for your pet.

Make a packing list for your pet based on his needs and what your veterinarian recommends. Double-check it as you pack his things. Take your veterinarian’s phone number along with you in case you need to call and ask a last minute question or have your pet’s records sent to another clinic.

Take time to get your pet used to his carrier, especially if it’s new. If you’re driving, take your pet in the car for practice trips before the big day so it won’t be so traumatic. Another benefit to this approach is that you’ll learn if your pet become motion sick easily.

If you’re traveling with your cat, bring a litterbox and litter along with you. It’s easier to purchase cheap plastic litterboxes and throw them away rather than try to clean and transport them. If traveling with a dog, be sure to bring baggies to clean up after your pet’s walks.

Embarrassing and Alarming Moments

Pets get stressed when traveling, so accidents can and will happen. Bring some disposable wipes and plastic baggies to clean up after your pet. Another good idea is bringing a small bottle of enzyme based cleaner. If your pet selects the hotel carpet as the perfect spot for his accident, this can remove the odor and stain before it has a change to set.

Never open your pet’s carrier unless you’re in an enclosed room. Pets can move much more quickly than you can, and nothing will ruin your vacation faster than losing your traveling companion.

Traveling with your pet can be challenging, but with some planning ahead, it can also be a fun and rewarding experience. Trying a short weekend trip before a longer vacation can also help your pet acclimate to travel, and you will learn how well your pet travels.

What Families Should Know About Traveling?

Embarking on a holiday trip, out of town, and country tour is one of the most awaiting experiences a family longs for. But before deciding to go on board, there are lots of things you should consider first in preparing for the said moment.

You might not want to encounter unpleasant moments during your outdoors stay especially that this family bond might happen rarely.

Pre-travel Planning

The very first thing you should consider when going out for a trip is to pack things thoroughly. Packing is more than just your body lotions and clothes. There are more important matters to consider.

Have your fully charged mobile phone and charger listed along with other things you will bring. This will enable you to contact friends and relatives during your travel.

Before you leave, make sure that your relatives, neighbors, and friends know where you are and where you will be going. Give them some lists of your contact numbers wherever you are staying.

Let them know that you will make a call in case you have reached your destination. Always keep them in touch with you.

Bring along with you some important contact numbers that you might think can help you in assistance during your outdoor travel. They include hospital, transportation services and legal firm hotlines that you can find in telephone directory book. Better list them in a tickler note.

You should also make sure that you have packed some important documents needed in your outdoor trip. If your destination would be out of the country, then packed in a separate carrier your visa, passport and other overseas-related documents.

When it comes to money, you do not need to bring lots of cash with you. You can use one to two credit cards in your tour. This will eliminate cumbersome wallet when you need to access payments.

Better list along with your contact tickler the telephone numbers of your credit card issuers for some purposes. However, there are some circumstances in which you make use of cash instead of credit cards. For this reason, you can bring some cash in your handy bag.

Have yourself checked-up. If you have underlying condition or under medication, be sure to let your doctor know that you will be out for a tour. He will give you some medical instructions during your outdoor stay. If you are continuously taking medicines, place them in a separate compartment that can be easily accessed. It is also much better to bring extra medicines along with you.

Traveling is one means of family ties. It is much alluring to have a safe and sound outdoor tour with your family. To have an enjoyable moment together with your family, better plan your outdoor tour ahead considering the traveling tips above.

Bringing the Proper OutdoorBringing the Proper Outdoor Outfit For Adventure Trips Outfit For Adventure Trips

According to outdoor adventure experts, one of the quickest ways of ruining what could be the perfect outdoor adventure, is to bring outdoor clothing items that don’t fit you, or perform poorly. Adventure clothing experts note that the type of clothing you bring should first be comfortable and effectively protect you from the elements such as snow, wind, rain and others.

Looking good while on an outdoor adventure escapade should not be simply decided on style. Since you’re going out on a different type of trip, the outdoor clothing that you need to have should be functional, comfortable and durable. Bringing the appropriate type of adventure clothing apparel will do a lot in improving your level of safety and comfort. Outdoor adventure veterans say that it would be good to dress in long sleeved shirts and long pants. This helps because exposed skin may be prone to sunburn, scratches, bug bites, scrapes and abrasions. Long sleeved shirts also protect you from coming into contact with allergy-causing bushes or plants, or some infectious and poisonous foliage. Some light cuts or injuries may lead to more serious infections. However, dressing up in short clothing when you’re in the water for a swim or when at the beach would be just fine. This also would be applicable when you’re simply lounging around the campsite or resting at some designated way station. Just ensure that you don’t get bitten by bugs or other insects, and stay in the shade during hot days to avoid sunburn.

Choosing the appropriate outdoor clothing fabric is also vital. Fabrics such as cotton allow for extra comfort during hot and damp weather, but this won’t be the case whenever you’re in an outdoor adventure excursion. Cotton may be soft and comfortable, however in an outdoor adventure setting. This fabric will absorb so much moisture that it holds against the skin. Clothing experts say that wool or synthetic blends would be more appropriate clothing materials when in the outdoors. Most well-known outdoor adventure equipment manufacturers develop good-quality and durable outdoor clothing products, which are generally less-absorbent and quickly remove the dampness away from your skin. Good-quality outdoor clothing usually does well in keeping you dry, as well as retaining your proper body temperature

It also helps to wear durable, superior-quality hiking boots or shoes or boots. Wearing cheap but poor-quality hiking boots will only increase the risks of getting sores and blisters on your feet. Most well-known outdoor equipment brands are known for making shoes that provide ample protection against twisted ankles, blisters and sores, stone bruises, twisted ankles, and other foot injuries. In buying the appropriate outdoor footwear, it helps to choose those that fit well on your feet, and dry quickly when exposed to water or wet conditions. Sandals are considered good for beach or camp wear, but never for sweating it out on the rough and bumpy trail.

When thinking of which outdoor clothing to bring, consider clothing which serves as a system that will protect your body from the elements, and not simply as items that will make you look good or feel comfy. It helps to dress in layers when going on an outdoor adventure excursion. Outdoor travel experts say the ideal clothes you bring should be equipped with a layered undergarment that wipes or eases moisture away quickly and enables you to remain dry and comfortable for longer periods. However, the weather will determine how you dress up, so you surely won’t need to dress up like an Eskimo during dry and hot conditions. It helps to be prepared with the appropriate layers of clothing when weather conditions suddenly change. Bring clothes that are comfortable, good looking and durable, and made of light-weight materials. In particular, clothes that help reduces sweat quickly as well as keep insects and other irritants at bay.

Travel Pillow Options for Air, Rail and Vehicle Travel

With many airlines charging customers extra fees for in-flight amenities such as pillows and blankets, many travelers are becoming creative with their comfort. In addition to the extra fees, some travelers are also shying away from in-flight pillows for reasons of hygienic. If one is provided at no additional charge, one of the easiest ways to ensure hygiene is met is to purchase disposable covers. While these are usually intended for hotel travelers, as the covers are sold in standard sizes, airline travelers can use the standard-sized cover and wrap it around the travel pillow twice or improvise with a large zipper-type plastic bag.

If you prefer to purchase your own travel pillow and space is a concern, there are many inflatable ones that can be deflated to fit in your carry-on bag and then inflated when ready to use. Some travelers prefer to not have their heads come into contact with the airplane or train’s seat and will choose to utilize the pillow immediately upon boarding. Other travelers prefer to keep theirs permanently in a carry-on in case they are catching an early morning or red-eye flight.

People traveling in a vehicle generally have more space than air or rail travelers, however a full-sized pillow is not always a feasible option. Instead of having to blow-up an inflatable travel pillow, travelers can purchase ready-made travel pillows. These look like miniature versions of standard-sized ones, cut in half. Different from traditional bed pillows, travel models will usually have a zippered, removable cover that can be washed. Able to be brought into hotel rooms and used as a regular bed pillow, compact travel pillows are great for people who prefer not to sleep on hotel pillows or for those who like having extra ones.

Outdoor travelers will appreciate the versatility of travel pillows. Tent campers and pop-up camper owners are always searching for ways to save space. A combination of inflatable and ready-made pillows allows for comfort traveling to the destination as well as additional pillow comfort once the camping gear has been erected. Outdoorsmen who enjoy primitive camping will appreciate the space-saving benefits a travel pillow bring when packing their rucksacks.

When finished using pillows, they can be cleaned by laundering (fabric pillows) or by wiping down with an anti-bacterial wipe (inflatable pillows). After being allowed to thoroughly dry, they can be packaged and stored until their next use. With proper care, travel pillows can last longer than bed ones, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended care guidelines and clean pillows after each use.

Adventure Travel: It’s Not Just For The Young

It used to be true that a vacation meant getting away from one’s day-to-day surroundings for the promise of leisure and relaxation. While that’s still true, today’s travelers expect more from the promise.

For previous generations, leisure and relaxation often meant being idle. When the World War II generation wanted to get away, some could afford to be pampered, but most did not do much more than eat, drink, and be merry. It was a generation that was content to spend a weekend camping at a local lake, gamble in Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe, or take a cruise in the Caribbean. Leisure activity was to them, essentially, an unheard-of oxymoron.

Not so anymore. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), baby boomers have, in recent years, embraced greater willingness to travel, and have the resources to do it. But while that much is true, adventure has become a big part of their travel plans.

A recent AARP survey of 1,594 respondents ages 41 to 59 shows that about 55% of boomers consider themselves adventurous, and a whopping 77% feel they are more adventurous than their parents. The survey suggests that huge numbers of seniors are traveling, and that they want to participate in healthy activities when traveling. The baby boomer generation, unlike their parents, is not content to lie around on the beach or get their only exercise playing one-armed bandits.

You can bet that the travel industry is capitalizing on this trend. In fact, a recent relationship between AARP and Travelocity has resulted in Passport, a travel service site aimed at the baby boomer market. There are over 81 million people in the United States 50 or older, which equates to roughly 28% of the U.S. population. It’s a segment that controls 67% of the nation’s wealth, has more than 750 million dollars in discretionary income, and owns more than 28 trillion dollars in assets. Baby boomers also want to spend that hard-earned money wisely, knowing that self-gratification means eating well, drinking moderately, getting in a good hike or a few good ski runs, and earning a good night’s sleep while away from home.

Boomers know how to use the Internet, too, with nearly 40% of them booking their travel on the worldwide web. And, like much of the younger generation, they are looking for ways to streamline their lives, favoring e-commerce sites that allow them to quickly and easily pay for their vacations instantly via credit card, without writing checks or hassling with follow-up phone calls to book tours.

While good diet and exercise is uppermost in the travel plans of baby boomers, they also want intellectual or cultural stimulation, many having identified community heritage, artisan crafts, local theatre, naturalist-led hikes, and wine education as motivations for booking vacations in a given region.

Today’s mature travelers, then, are not content to while away their leisure hours idly. They want to learn, feel, see, and do. And they have the desire, tools, and discretionary income to do it.

Spend Your Holidays Outdoors For More Fun

If you’re planning your next holiday then you may be considering a number of aspects. It is likely that you are thinking carefully about potential destinations, resorts and accommodation options. Have you considered the type of holiday that is likely to prove most popular with family members?

There has undoubtedly been an increase in the number of people looking to take more active holidays. Such trips often involve spending more time outdoors, enjoying a variety of pursuits and activities. You may not have thought about having a holiday of this type.

Maybe you don’t think it sounds relaxing enough, or possibly you’re simply worried about what it may entail. Fortunately, such a holiday is not particularly difficult to organise and can result in a lot more fun than traditional alternatives. Why should this be the case? One reason is that outdoor holidays are often somewhat more basic. This may not sound like a good thing, but it often has really positive side effects. You will tend to find that you spend a lot more time with family members.

This is particularly the case if you opt for a camping trip. By necessity, your accommodation is likely to provide less space, meaning that the whole family will be closer together. In essence, such holidays are at their best when you enjoy the company of those who are joining you.

What if you think that such a trip will be much too basic for your requirements? There are steps you can take to add some extra creature comforts to your holiday experience. Many people, for instance, worry about the bathroom facilities at UK campsites. This is certainly a legitimate concern.

As a result, many opt to buy a good quality portable toilet. This can ensure that they are able to avoid alternative facilities and that they will always have a hygienic option available to them. Outdoor holidays allow you to have a far greater sense of adventure. You can shape your trip to meet your needs and to take into account the activities that your family really enjoy. That’s why such holidays are often considerably more fun.

Where to Stay When Traveling to the Gold Coast

Savvy world travelers know that the Gold Coast, the Queensland coastal city located between Brisbane and New South Wales, is one of the best tourist spots in Australia. Every year, visitors numbering in the hundreds of thousands flock to the Gold Coast, which is also Australia’s sixth largest city.

If you are ever in the Gold Coast, the following are absolutely the very best places to stay in the area. Don’t fail to check them out.

1. Palazzo Versace

This is the palace that Versace built and the influence of the world-renowned Versace signature label is evident everywhere around the hotel, which is situated at Sea World Drive along Main Beach. The hotel is distinctly Versace – elegant, luxurious and extraordinary. The rooms are stylishly furnished to allow you to luxuriate right in the lap of luxury. You can see the Versace touch in the walls and furnishings, the elegantly designed rooms and even in the bathrooms which are stocked with a host of Versace products. Even the crystal goblets and plates have the Versace emblem on them.

The Superior room is top of the line in terms of upscale accommodations, oozing classic elegance through the lush fabrics and timber tones. The beds are unmistakably Versace, both king size and double beds. The Superior rooms come in two-bedroom and three-bedroom condominium suites and also have their own private balcony and well-stocked kitchen filled with all the modern appliances.

2. Ruffles Lodge

The luxury five-star Ruffles Lodge is nestled at the scenic Gold Coast Hinterland between the mountains and the coast. It is a personal favorite of golfers who visit the Gold Coast especially since there are as many as 16 gold courses just 30 minutes away or less. The lodge itself has its own golf practice area.

For nature lovers, the Lamington national park and the Binna Burra and O’Reillys rain forests are just a stone’s throw away. There are also several beaches and shopping centers located just 25 minutes away.

3. Esconder Mountain Lodge

For couples searching for the ideal hideaway, the Esconder Mountain Lodge provides everything they could want. It is private, romantic and only has three luxurious guest suites located high in the hinterlands. The view of the nearby Tamborine mountain is spectacular, plus it is close enough to the Surfers Paradise should you need to get back to civilization.

Experiencing the Outdoors in Ventura County

The cities of Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura in Ventura County, California are a throwback to the California of old-with uncrowded beaches, nearly perfect year-round weather, quaint main streets, an old-fashioned pier, two harbors and, just offshore, whale watching and the Channel Islands National Park.

Ventura Bike Trail

Ventura is filled with bike paths. Bike rentals are available on Main Street at Ventura Bike Depot and close to area beach hotels at Wheel Fun Rentals. Start a relaxing bicycle adventure at the mouth of the Ventura River (there is free parking on Main St.) and head south.

You’ll pass the Ventura County Fair Grounds, a bird sanctuary and then find yourself with magnificent ocean views. Choose to stop at the 1,700 foot Ventura Pier to eat lunch at Eric Ericsson’s or Beach House Tacos or travel a little farther and picnic at a peaceful, grass-covered picnic area at San Buenaventura State Beach. Never crowded, the beach offers two miles of blissful bicycling.

McGrath State Beach

Enjoy a four-mile hike from McGrath Beach to McGrath Lake and try to spot some of the more than 245 bird species that make the park one of the best bird-watching areas in California. The trail takes you along the beach to enjoy the sun and surf and then you’ll wind along the lush riverbanks of the Santa Clara Estuary Natural Preserve. To make a day of it, start from the McGrath Beach trailhead and go all the way to Channel Islands Harbor–12 miles round trip.

Channel Islands National Park

Just 11 miles offshore, yet worlds apart, the Channel Islands National Park is an all-natural playground for those who love to hike, camp, snorkel, kayak, nature walk or just breathe in the fresh ocean air. For first timers, take an excursion to one or all five of the islands through Island Packers out of either its Ventura Harbor or Channel Islands Harbor (Oxnard) locations, or depending on the season, plan a whale watching trip (gray whales in winter, blue whales and humpbacks in summer) or deep sea fishing adventure.

Antiquing on Main Street

For a different kind of shopping experience, stop in at one of the dozens of antique shops in and around Main Street in Ventura. You’ll find great one-of-a-kind treasures and items from years past–all without paying high prices. B On Main, Parts Unknown and Blue Moon are all fun shops.

Commemorative Air Force Museum

Located in a hangar at the Camarillo Airport, Commemorative Air Force Museum features vintage aircraft and an extensive collection of World War II memorabilia–from guns and amo to military uniforms. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions and conduct private tours. The museum even offers flights in its vintage aircraft.

Ventura Harbor Village and Channel Islands Harbor

Ventura Harbor features harbor-side dining, a comedy club, a fresh seafood market, kayaking and peddle boat rentals and the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center. A few miles south is Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor, a working harbor where you can see fishing boats bringing in their fresh catches each day. It is also home to the Channel Islands Maritime Museum with sailing ship and whaling exhibits.