There are no words to fully describe the beauty and magic of the Takefue Ryokan. It is by far the most amazing place we have slept. It is located up an isolated mountain, in Kyushu, just outside the amazing town of Kurokawa Onsen, deep in a bamboo forest.
The hospitality is beyond anything expected – even in Japan. A member of the staff is allocated as your sole contact throughout your stay. They gently guide you, from choosing a yukata and coat, to designing and scheduling menus, to assisting your reservation of baths. Without out going into overt detail; it is beyond anything we’ve experienced -anywhere in the world. The combination of service and planning creates the feeling that you are the only guest at the hotel.
Each room has a private onsen (hot spring bath). There are several other larger baths that one can reserve. Each of the magnificent shared baths have a changing room complete with hot and cold drinks (including sake and beer) as well as an oven with warm towels. As one wanders the grounds, keep an eye out for random snacks, free of charge, placed throughout the hotel paths: sodas, water, tea, even freezer with the most delicious ice-cream pops !
When it is time to eat, be prepared for a most exquisite and elaborate meals. The cuisine is similar to other ryokan; with a large breakfast and a lovely Kaiseki dinner included. Here it is the overall quality in preparation, presentation and flavour.
We have 3 small pieces of advice for booking:
1. Try to stay at least 2 nights – with the check in/out times, there is really not enough time to really feel the entirety of Takefue Ryokan otherwise.
2. Have Takefue be your last Onsen stay while in Kyushu.
3. If you are in Japan and traveling – GO to Kyushu – it is pure Japan!
A successful blend between hippy, eco-chic, and family friendly, Ahau Tulum is a comfortable hotel with the friendliest staff. Nothing is a problem here, the atmosphere is is like you have always been a part of the family.
The beach day beds are comfortable and spaced well apart. Simple, ample food and tasty juices are on call from the open air restaurant. For the area, Ahau’s menu has a good range between comfort and healthy food, and is moderately priced. Above the restaurant there is a large mezzanine, bathed in beautiful filtered natural light, where the yoga classes are held.
The Hotel’s lobby, next to the restaurant is a social hub in Tulum, a mix of residents, expats, guests from other hotels – all charging their mobile devices, surfing the web and picking up conversation.
They also offer – and I took – kite surfing classes. Difficult, but rewarding! Mauricio is a great teacher and a real good guy.
We won’t delve into their penitent for towel sculpture – just enjoy!
Hacienda Venecia is a full operational coffee farm in the picturesque Zona Cafetera in Colombia; Not far from Manizales, a 6 hour drive from Medellin.
While exploring this lush area, the Hacienda Venencia is a good place to stop and even spend the night, as the Hacienda offers two lodging options. A beautiful hundred year old hacienda house, surrounded by gorgeous gardens, with a pool and free roaming turkeys! As well as a newer house transformed into a hostel, with a shared kitchen, both shared and private bathrooms as well as a camping area with beautiful view over the coffee plantations.
We did not stay the night, but the other tourists we met briefly seemed very happy. A few were part of a state-wide bird watching tour.
The Zona Cafetera in Colombia has the ideal altitude (3600 to 6000 feet) to grow the highly valued arabica strain. At the hacienda, we took a day long coffee class, that starts with a walk through the plantations, viewing the different states of the grains. Then you are guided through the entire process of fermenting, drying etc. And the end of the afternoon, we gathered in the Hostel house to compare the smells of the different coffee grains to a standardized library of aromas; all the while drinking a lot of coffee !!
Funny enough, we found that many of the brands we knew from around the world sourced their beans direct from the Hacienda Valencia !! There are many different farms to visit in this rolling green paradise; pick one and go !
some of the brands Hacienda Venecia sells beans to