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Spas, Dude Ranches, Grand Hotels - Favorite Travel Gift Ideas for Mothers Day

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Choosing a Mother's Day present isn't difficult when you realize that what mothers want most is to be together - those moments of sharing experiences, building the bonds of family (that should never be taken for granted), of accumulating stories and lifelong memories are transcendent gifts. And the best of these are in the broad category of travel - because travel takes you out of the day-to-day, senses are heightened, and attention s focused on one another. Travel is one of the best ways to forge bonds of family and friendship, while also engaging in some activity or indulging some interest. Just being away from the everyday, out of a comfort zone of the familiar, is revitalizing and rejuvenating.

Mother/Daughter Spa Getaway

Canyon Ranch is in a class by itself when it comes to spa destination resorts, and the newest one, Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach is more of a hybrid between a resort and a spa than the other Canyon Ranch destinations in Tucson, Arizona and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It's less intense, more carefree, but has every manner of wellness and fitness and spa service you could imagine, as well as diagnostics and treatments. Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach, 6801 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Fla. 33141, 800-742-9000, 305-514-7000, canyonranch.com/miamibeach.

For pure indulgence, you cannot beat Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, on Palm Beach Island, Florida. Eau Spa is equal parts sublime pampering, tranquil rejuvenation and devilish indulgence, a dazzling retreat in a distinctive setting. here you feel enveloped in a calming wonderland. (Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, 100 South Ocean Boulevard , Manalapan, FL 33462, 800-EAU-0170, 561-533-6000, www.eaupalmbeach.com).

The Spa at Norwich, Connecticut, is a historic hotel that has become a premier spa destination. The Spa at Norwich offers an enchanting setting: a Georgian Colonial manor set amid a landscape of manicured lawns, perennial gardens, and spring-fed ponds. Other differentiators that complete the getaway are the chance to visit the Francis Griswold Museum, which was the home of the Lyme Art Colony (www.flogris.org) which is utterly fascinating, Mystic Connecticut's Seaport and the Aquarium, and nearby Foxwood's Casino (Norwich, Ct, 800-ASK 4 SPA, www.thespaatnorwichinn.com)

For more spa vacation and day spa ideas, go to SpaFinder where you can find and book at some 20,000 locations, which also offers gift cards (spafinder.com)

Grand, Historic Hotels

In a similar vein, think about a glamorous, historic grand hotel/resort - which also tend to have world-class spas, but also superb facilities and programs that the whole family will enjoy, and typically are set in stunning surroundings.

Take it from me, Mom will appreciate the elegant, luxurious setting.

Among my favorites: Mohonk Mountain House, in the Catskills - so much do to - a lake ringed by dramatic cliffs, where you can canoe or kayak; you can hike up its trails, do a scramble up the rocky face; enjoy stunning Victorian Gardens and grounds and of course, revel in one of the most distinctive and stunning historic hotels anywhere.

Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Resort in the Berkshires of Massachusetts is another with stunning facilities and also a countryside that has inspired writers (Herman Melville) and artists and musicians.

The Sagamore on Lake George, New York, sends you back to the Gilded Age.

Also, the Woodstock Inn in the quintessentially New England village of Woodstock, Vermont, is another grand, historic hotel with luxurious facilities including spa and golf course.

And if you want to combine a grand, historic resort with a delightful theme park, visit the Hotel Hershey, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

For more, visit Historic Hotels of America, historichotels.org, 800-678-8946.

Cruising, the Ultimate All-Inclusive

More and more cruise ships are "home porting" - meaning they are positioned to be within driving distance of most people's homes - making it extremely convenient to cruise without the time and expense of taking a plane someplace. Here in New York, we can take the Long Island Railroad to get on Norwegian Breakaway and sail to Bermuda, or drive to Bayonne NJ for Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, for its five-night sailing to Bermuda - just the right length of time for a getaway. Both lines sail from New York year-round.

Bermuda happens to be one of my favorite island destinations for cruising - the cruise offers you a delightful day and a half at sea (departing New York harbor is spectacular), when the ship is really a combination floating resort and floating theme park, then three days in Bermuda so you have time to really explore and enjoy one of the prettiest, most delightful island nations anywhere, then another day sailing back.

Dude Ranch - an All-Inclusive with a Twist

Dude ranches are like summer camp for the entire family - with fun activities, horseback riding - everybody gets to be a kid. They tend to be laid back, "authentic" in their own way, and bring out a perpetual smile.

The Catskills still harbor several dude ranches, and among the best is the Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort. this is a family-run resort that is all about family fun, year-round (we were there for a delightful Christmas holiday).

At their heart, though, dude ranches are an all-inclusive resort holiday - all meals, activities, entertainment and in many cases even wine and cocktails are included.

One of our favorite Catskills dude ranches is the Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort which is appealing for families regardless of how old the kids are.

Pinegrove is offering a Mother's Day Weekend special where Mom stays free (for a two-night stay this is a $318 value).

Located in Kerhonkson, New York, Pinegrove is a 600-acre ranch resort, large enough so there is plenty of room to roam, yet small enough for you to enjoy true down home western hospitality. It offers 126 comfortable guest rooms, each with a private bath,. Every day and every night is filled with indoor and outdoor family activities. There is tremendous value here - they even offer laser tag, and of course, horseback riding. The resort provides three full meals a day, including special kids’ menus, an all-day snack bar, cocktail parties and nightly entertainment that might be a comedian one night, a magician another, and karaoke another. (30 Cherrytown Road Kerhonkson, NY 12446, 845-626-7345, 800-346-4626, pinegroveranch.com).

Hike the Hudson River School Art Trail

Mothers typically have a variety of interests - being outdoors, enjoying art. Have a mother-daughter (or son or family) hike along the same trails that so inspired the Hudson River School artists like Frederic Edwin Church (whose home, Olana, is a work of art in itself), and Thomas Cole (whose home and studio you can visit).

The area offers the perfect melding of nature and culture (so much to do from kayaking to ziplining to golf). Get maps, directions and photographs of all the sites on the Hudson River School Art Trail at www.hudsonriverschool.org. There is a map showing the overall trail sites, as well as directions to each individual site on www.hudsonriverschool.org/trails. Learn more about Catskills packages and events at www.GreatNorthernCatskills.com.

The Hudson River region offers so many charming inns, bed-and-breakfasts and hotels. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Thompson House, a classic traditional inn/resort that dates back to 1880, in Windham. (The Thompson House, 19 Route 296 Windham NY 12496, 518-734-4510, thethompsonhouse@gmail.com, 518-734-4510, www.thompsonhouse.com).

Broadway Fantasy Camp

You've heard of Baseball Fantasy Camp? Well, for the Mom who dreams of singing, dancing, or acting in a Broadway style production, or is an avid theater-lover with two-left feet, Broadway Fantasy Camp™ is just the ticket.

Broadway Fantasy Camp is geared to adults of all ages and levels of experience. No matter which session you choose, you’ll be immersed in the world of performing and creating live theatre, working closely with theatre pros - veteran stage directors, choreographers, and musical directors - who guide you through the process.

You rehearse in the same studios that Broadway shows and National Touring Companies rehearse in. You’ll meet Tony® Award winning performers, and hear their stories. You’ll meet directors, choreographers, writers, composers, lyricists, producers, musical directors, orchestrators, dance arrangers of some of Broadway’s biggest hits.

The environment is safe and nurturing. Our counselors value working with enthusiastic theatre-lovers, no matter what individual skills you have. Singing will be with the Musical Director, and our Choreographer will instruct you in a dance combination that will be fun and easy for everyone to enjoy – even if you think you have two left feet!

Sessions range from one day long to the five-day, "Star in a Broadway Musical Revue," where you play a featured role in a musical revue of classic Broadway songs. Experience what really happens in the theater, from auditions to rehearsals right up to opening night and the cast party at Sardi’s. (Broadway Fantasy Camp, 300 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019, joinus@broadwayfancamp.com, 212-713-0366, www.broadwayfancamp.com.)

A Style-Cation

This Mother’s Day, treat mom to a Style-cation” at Belmond Charleston Place - a makeover -that is sure to leave her feeling chic and refreshed.

Belmond Charleston Place “Style-cation” package includes the services of a professional hairstylist and fashion consultant who will help mom re-discover her style mojo. Whether she wants to refine her look, or take it to a new, edgy place, these professionals will make it happen.

Available through December 31, 2014, this luxury hotel package focused on style starts at $1220 for two people and provides a facial at The Spa at Charleston Place; haircut and style at Article 5 Salon; one-on-one fashion consultation and $100 gift certificate at Hampden Clothing; and two-night accommodation.

Consistently ranked among the best hotels in the world by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines, Belmond Charleston Place evokes the feeling of a grand, 17th century residence, from its lush personal suites to the Italian marble lobby with its signature Georgian Open Arm staircase and 12-foot crystal chandelier.

Enjoy the hotel’s full service European-style spa and horizon-edge swimming pool with retractable glass roof. The hotel is centrally located, surrounded by Charleston's historic homes and buildings, and within strolling distance of the city’s delightful shops, galleries and restaurants.

Belmond, owned and operated by Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., a global collection of hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations.

To book the style-cation, call 888-635-2350 or visit charlestonplace.com/stylecation and use promo code “style”.

Karen Rubin, National Eclectic Travel Examiner

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