Ask T+L: Staying in Castles, Stability in Greece, and Handicapped Travel
Q: We’re going to Europe and want to stay in a castle. Any thoughts? —Gary Yeldezian, via e-mail
Spain’s Basque region is dotted with great paradores, including Hotel El Emperador (34/94-364-5500; paradores-spain.com; doubles from $316 a night), built by King Sancho el Fuerte along the Cantabrian Sea. If you prefer to be lords of your own manse, the Landmark Trust maintains affordable options (such as the circa 1250 Castle Keep East, in Devon, England, and Cawood Castle, in North Yorkshire—Queen Margaret once stayed there). Abercrombie & Kent Villas (44-12/4254-7902; akvillas.com) has a new turreted addition to its stable: Scotland’s centuries-old Aldourie Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. —T+L News Director Luke Barr
Q: My husband and I will be visiting the Côte d’Azur’s Musée Matisse. Where else in the region can we see great art? —Whitney Ruttner, Sherrard, Ill.
A: In Antibes, the Musée Picasso (Château Grimaldi; 33-4/92-90-54-26) holds more than 120 of the artist’s works in a 14th-century château; in Biot, a sculpture garden by Henri Fish decks the Musée National Fernand Léger (Chemin du Val de Pome; 33-4/92-91-50-30). Musée Renoir (Chemin des Collettes; 33-4/93-20-61-07), in Cagnes-sur-Mer, houses Renoir masterpieces and his personal effects. Outside the village of St.-Paul, the Fondation Maeght (623 Chemin des Gardettes; 33-4/93-32-81-63) has rotating exhibitions by Modernist luminaries; nearby, lunch alongside Miró paintings at La Colombe d’Or (1 Place du General de Gaulle; 33-4/93-32-80-02; lunch for two $165). And in Menton, don’t miss Jean Cocteau’s 1957 frescoes in Salles des Mariages (Place Ardoïno; 33-4/92-10-50-00).
Q: Is this a good time to book travel to Greece? —Virginia Llewellyn, Scottsdale, Ariz.
A: With Greece’s 2010 troubles clearly in the rearview, opportunities abound: room rates have dropped 10 percent since this time last year, and the government is luring vacationers by slashing hotel taxes in half. A favorite: Peloponnese’s Kinsterna Hotel & Spa (30-273/206-6300; kinsternahotel.gr; doubles from $353), a Byzantine-era mansion by the Aegean with a cistern-fed pool. The nation also recently changed its cabotage law, so non-European ships can dock in its ports—making cruising more accessible than ever. On Yachts of Seabourn’s new Greek Isles and Turkish Delights tour (seven-day cruise from $2,999 per person), you’ll attend olive oil and ouzo tastings in the island town of Mytilini. Opa!
Q: My husband is confined to a wheelchair most of the time. What are your suggestions for longer trips? —Jan Florez, Nogales, Ariz.
A: Consider utilizing an agent who knows the ins and outs of handicapped travel. T+L A-List super-agent Mary Ann Ramsey recently arranged a wheelchair-bound client’s dream trip to Venice, complete with a vaporetto ride. Tim Holtz of Flying Wheels Travel (612/381-1622; flyingwheelstravel.com) books trips to cities that have recently hosted the Olympic Games (and thereby, Paralympics), since their facilities are often handicap-friendly. London hosts the 64th Paralympics in 2012, and properties like the May Fair (44-20/7629-7777; themayfairhotel.co.uk; doubles from $621) have geared up with 18 rooms designed specifically for disabled guests, with amenities everyone can enjoy—Vi-Spring mattresses and bathrooms lined in Sicilian marble.