V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer

Mother's Day travel idea

Published online at msn.ca's Travel section, May, 2010.

She is the woman who picked you up when you fell and scraped your knee on your first bike ride. She’s the one who wiped away your tears when your first love dumped you for the bustier, 13-year-old hussy down the street, or for the prematurely moustached boy in the next grade. She bore you three beautiful children, enduring pain the likes of which you, if you’re a man, will never know. This Mother’s Day, send the woman in your life on a vacation that shows her how much you appreciate her, “I told you so’s” and all.


GLAMPING
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, B.C.

Your mom, or wife, loves the outdoors but is a city girl at heart. She appreciates Mother Nature’s creatures, big and small, but she also appreciates hot running water and her hairdryer. Consider taking her on a glamping trip, a camping experience under a canopy of stars and deluxe, white tents where you sleep in soft, plush, Adirondack-style beds, with the creature comforts of a modern toilet and even wireless Internet. It’s Swiss Family Robinson meets Holt Renfrew. The eco-safari site of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort — which made it into Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold List 2010 showcasing the best hotels in the world — is a  30-minute boat ride from Tofino, and is set at the mouth of the Bedwell River. Guests can choose activities that range from massage and treatment tents, horseback riding, kayaking, whale watching and hiking against a backdrop of dense, untamed wilderness. For more info, visit www.wildretreat.com.


GOLFING RETREATS
Pine Needles, North Carolina

You’re both on par when it comes to your mutual love of golf. For the putting woman, consider a different kind of tee time with a golfing trip. According to Golf Digest Women, the top ranking, U.S. course for women can be found at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in North Carolina, which offers a ladies’ only Golfari training school in February and May that can help her game — if there’s room for improvement that is. And boys, don’t think that a female-friendly course means it will be a cinch. You’ll be putting on a championship course that has hosted three U.S. Women’s Open Championships. Second on the list is The Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., which also boasts a 33,000-square-foot, world-renowned Golden Door Spa resort to soothe tired feet and tight shoulders after a round of 18 holes.
For more info, visit www.pineneedles-midpines.com or www.theboulders.com.


SHOPPING
Paris, France

There is, perhaps, nothing that can bring a mother and daughter closer together than a mutual love of shopping, and a pair of cute bejeweled ballet flats — unless that is, you also share the same shoe size and there’s only one pair left. Then, we say it’s every woman for herself.
For those women who consider shopping an Olympic sport, why not go the distance, splurge and book a trip to the mecca of retail bliss in Paris? We admit, this trip would be for the big girls, those with both the funds and the moxie to “chaaarge it” and stare down beautiful but hostile French sales women who sink zey ah ze best dressers in ze vorld. While the boulevard Champs-Elysées is often cited as the place one “strolls” with a tiny dog, luxury bag and big floppy hat  à la Audrey Hepburn, the locals know to avoid what’s become a tourist trap of fast food chains and airline offices in favour of Le Forum Des Halles, a subterranean shopping centre with 180 stores. And of course, we would be remiss not to mention Galeries Lafayette, which offers a theatrical shopping experience among exquisite balconies and a soaring, dramatic glass dome.


PLAYING HOUSE
American Girl

Moms, here’s your chance to relive your girlhood under the guise of treating your daughter to a pink and frilly, childhood fantasy. American Girl has become an institution in the U.S. among little women. Not only can girls choose her new BFF from a range of looks — the Just Like You line offers dolls with different hair and eye colour, skin tone — but the Manhattan location also offers dining experiences like afternoon tea, a photo studio and doll hair salon. The New York location also hosts an annual Memories With Mom package where mothers and their daughters can lunch like ladies, and take home a commemorative photo and keepsake of their special day together. Tickets are $54 US and the event is for girls ages 6 and up. Call 1-877-247-5223 for more info, or visit www.americangirl.com for their other seven locations across the U.S. Did we also mention that the American Girl store just happens to be on Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan? We at msn.ca absolve ourselves of any responsibility should  this toy story turn into a delirious, frenzied, adult women-only shopping extravaganza.


HIKING
Inca Trail Machu Picchu

For the woman with an appetite for adrenaline and an adventurous streak, consider taking her on a hiking trip that pushes your limits and makes you lean on each other — literally and figuratively — for support. Consider the famous Inca Trail, also known as the royal route, that leads to the gates of Peru’s fabled lost city, Machu Picchu. Age is not a factor but participants should have a reasonable level of fitness. The most popular trek in South America, the Inca Trail or Camino del Inca, takes you through the exotic, lush vegetation of the Andes, ancient ruins and cloud forests set against a sweeping mountain backdrop. For those moms who are physically fit and able, take the classic, four-day trek which gives you more time to explore the ancient ruins. There’s also a two-day trek that’s known as “Camino Lite” and you can also use the services of porters who will carry your backpack for you. Keep in mind that you can’t trek the Inca Trail independently and must book with an official tour agency. Not only is this a great mother, daughter trip idea, it’s an adventure you can strike off your Bucket List.


WINERY TOUR
Niagara or Okanagan Valley

Ok, so your relationship with your mother has been fraught with a few bumps along the way and has been anything but smooth. You need an activity that will take the edge off, perhaps ease the tension? How about taking her on a winery tour and using the elegant backdrop of vineyards and sophisticated wine tastings as a pretext to get a good and buzzed together — with a designated ride home of course. If you’re not normally affectionate with your mom, there’s nothing like a few glasses of liquid courage to help you get over her overbearing ways and constant clucking, to tell the woman that you love her, craziness and all. In Canada, we’re lucky to boast world-renowned wine producing regions at both ends of the country. Visit a winery in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia if you’re out west or the Niagara region if you live in eastern Canada. And remember, the aim of this trip is to make nice. Don’t drink and whine.


SPA TREATMENTS
Canyon Ranch, Arizona, Massachusetts or Florida

She’s overworked and stressed, in desperate need of being whisked away to a happier, gentler place, far from the demands of work and the tedium of home, where her needs will be met first.
Canyon Ranch is an 11-time winner of the Condé Nast Traveller’s Best Destination Spa Award, and a premiere place to pamper mom’s calloused hands and sore feet. For the men out there, shake off any reservations and take advantage of their men’s treatments, no one will bat an eye. Services include everything from physician supervised health and healing, nutrition, facial treatments and, our favourite, massage and body work. Canyon Ranch has three properties to choose from: Tucson, Ariz. offers the sweeping Sonoran Desert, Lenox, Mass. is set against the charming Berkshires, and Miami Beach gives you ocean views. Both Tucson and Lenox properties also offer special mother/daughter deals. For more info, visit www.canyonranch.com, or call 1-800-742-9000 and mention “Mother and daughter.”

PUT ON YOUR POKER FACE
Las Vegas

Who said Las Vegas was only for raging bachelors and shotgun weddings? Take your mom to Sin City and let her loose from the monotony of domesticity in a place where what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. This destination is great for energetic mother, daughter duos who thrive on taking risks and taking a gamble. Once you’ve exhausted all the slots and poker tables, there’s a myriad of activities to keep you gals occupied: See a live show; tuck into a fine dining meal at a celebrity chef-owned restaurant; or go on a serious shopping expedition inside the self-contained hotel resort casinos. And then, when you need to escape the surreal, blinking lights of an artificial city built in the desert, take her out to the Grand Canyon — a view that no amount of money can buy.


COOKING SCHOOL
Tuscany, Italy

She’s the type of woman who shows her love through her Sunday roast dinners and homemade birthday cakes. Your favourite childhood moments include memories of your mother banging pots and pans in a hot kitchen, a passion you’ve also inherited. Your favourite memories as a husband are her romantic, sumptuous candle-lit dinners. Indulge her love of food at a culinary school in the rolling, stunning hillsides of Tuscany, cooking authentic, Italian fare alongside honest to goodness Italian “nonnas” or grandmas. Tuscan Women Cook, for instance, offers a cooking school in the medieval, hilltop village of Montefollonico, where you’ll be taught how to make gnocchi and tagliatelli, by talents ranging from a Michelin-star chef, to more modest but dazzling local home cooks. The culinary school has been featured on The Food Network, and the Fine Living channel, and is also recommended by Travel + Leisure magazine. We also couldn’t help but notice another rather good looking dish on their website that comes in the form of a dark-haired Italian vintner in the itinerary, Mama mia...


SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
Savannah, Georgia

Welcome to the land of soul foods like southern fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits and sweet potato pie. It’s the same state that brought you the classic chick flicks Gone with the Wind, Fried Green Tomatoes, and perhaps TV’s strongest, warmest, if sometimes annoying matriarch and cooking host Paula Deen. Moms go by the more endearing and infantile name “mama” and everyone — young and old, male, female, short and stout — are addressed by pet names that intone anything sweet or cuddly like sugar or baby, and multiple derivatives of the word honey (honey bear, honey pie). If this place doesn’t scream maternal, I don’t know what does. For those of you who share your mother’s love of all things country, floral, prim and quaint, consider a trip down south where you can tour beautiful, historic stately manors, go antiquing and relish being girly women together.

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