She's earned it
Mom worked hard to raise you right and help you achieve your dreams. This Mother's Day, why not return the love by sending Mom on a dream vacation of her own?
Those many years Mom spent clothing, feeding, and chauffeuring you to school and social activities formed the basis for everything you've accomplished since. Being Mom, she never asked for a word of thanks -- unless it was to remind you to always say "please" and "thank you" to others.
Now that you've grown into the person Mom always knew was in there somewhere, it's your opportunity to give just as selflessly by sending Mom somewhere she never had the time or means to visit; perhaps somewhere she always dreamed about but never expected to get the chance to actually experience.
Some of these destinations are timeless classics, others are adventures to share with family, and some are sheer indulgence for the right mom. But all six of these once-in-a-lifetime getaway ideas are guaranteed to delight the first lady in your life this Mother's Day.
Where: Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Ariz.
Cost: Starting at $1,080 for a two-night Spa Tranquility Package.
Why she'll love it: Three reasons: Oh! Oooo! Ahhhhh!
One masseuse with a scented candle and a Yanni CD does not a spa make. A proper destination spa should inspire awe, followed by ahhhh.
Just such a spa awaits Mom at Enchantment Resort, 90 minutes northwest of Phoenix in the red-rock canyons of Sedona, considered sacred by New Agers and Native American tribes alike. From its $25 million Mii Amo spa and expansive tennis facility (a remnant of its previous incarnation as a John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch) to its championship croquet and bocce courts, everything about Enchantment takes on a special glow from the natural beauty of Boynton Canyon.
"Some people would say it's spiritual, others would say it's energizing to be in the Native American presence with the sense of the energies and vortexes that attracts a lot of people to Sedona," says Julia Thorn, spokeswoman for Enchantment Group.
The two-night Spa Tranquility Package features lodging, two spa treatments per person and unlimited access to Mii Amo's indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, sauna, steam room and movement studio.
Good vibrations are included.
She'll always have Paris
Where: Hotel Daniel Paris.
Cost: 420 to 790 euros ($551 to $1,037 USD) per night.
Why she'll love it: Seriously?
American tour groups often miss what Hemingway termed the "movable feast" that is Paris due to their forced-march approach to the City of Light. Don't enlist Mom in all that; instead, treat her to the gracious Parisian lifestyle with a stay at the Hotel Daniel Paris.
Situated on the Right Bank, just steps from the Champs-Elysees, this upscale 26-room hidden gem combines the modern amenities of a private residence with the lush 18th-century decor that made Paris the envy of the world.
Hotel Daniel fits the Paris of her dreams: charming slanted atelier windows, romantic wallpaper, elegant draperies and those famous cinematic rooftop views, all within a 15-minute stroll to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Musee du Grand Palais. The Daniel restaurant and lounge serve all-day breakfast for late risers and afternoon tea with local pastries and French macaroons.
"There's a whole mystique about Paris," says Harriet Hart, travel counselor with AAA South in Fort Myers, Fla. "There are so many things to see and do in Paris. You could spend days in the Louvre alone."
Yoga, writing and rafting
What & where: Holiday River Expedition, San Juan River, Utah.
Cost: $965 for adults, $865 for youth, for a five-day excursion.
Why she'll love it: Girls together in no-man's land.
Every mom dreams of spending more quality time with the other busy women in her life. Holiday River Expeditions of Salt Lake City makes those dreams come true with its Women's Yoga & Writing rafting trip through the majestic sandstone canyons of Utah's San Juan River.
Available May and June, this all-inclusive, five-day river adventure combines restorative outdoor yoga and guided writing exercises with hiking, swimming and even playing in the mud in an awe-inspiring setting.
"There's no prior yoga experience necessary," says spokeswoman Karen Johnson. "It is basic yoga moves, and it is always optional. There is gentle white water but nothing too crazy; it's fun for swimming or an inflatable kayak. And it's all women. We have fabulous women guides."
Yoga instructor Jessica Frogley describes the experience this way: "One of the things I love about the San Juan is that the farther down river we travel, the further away from 'civilization' we go. It's just us, the river, each other, this wildness -- and all this beauty for miles."
Where: Le Petit Chateau Inn, Hyde Park, N.Y.
Cost: $430 for Culinary Getaway and suite.
Why she'll love it: Gourmet cooking classes in a cozy bed-and-breakfast.
Serve Mom a feast for the senses with a culinary dream getaway to this charming French-inspired countryside chateau in New York's Hudson Valley.
Le Petit Chateau Inn may indeed be petite -- just two rooms and two suites -- but its walking-distance proximity to the Culinary Institute of America makes it a heavyweight when it comes to culinary classes.
The inn offers private lunch and dinner sessions with Chef Marina Crispi, an Institute-trained Food Network alumna. The inn also coordinates with the Culinary Institute, which offers two- to five-day group Culinary Boot Camps in everything from French, Italian and Asian cuisine to comfort foods, baking, hors d'oeuvres and desserts.
Chateau owner Valerie Hail says many couples prefer the private classes, where they can choose the menu and work with the chef or sit back and enjoy a locally sourced gourmet meal at the private dining table overlooking the farm, as they choose.
"But you know what happens?" says Hail. "They always wind up asking the chef, 'How did you do that?' And off they go!"
Wine country indulgence
Where: The Carneros Inn, Napa Valley, Calif.
Cost: $1,237 for a two-night Celebrate Romance package.
Why she'll love it: Contemporary comforts in one of America's most romantic settings.
California's Napa Valley is downright magical, and nowhere is this more so than at The Carneros Inn, which has been named one of the world's top 25 romantic getaways by Travel & Leisure magazine.
Mom will fall in love with the 86 garden cottages, each with its own wood-burning fireplace, contemporary indoor and alfresco showers, and French doors that open onto a private garden and outdoor patio -- some with sweeping views of the Carneros countryside. Far from rustic, each cottage features an espresso machine, heated slate bathroom floors and a state-of-the-art entertainment system.
The two-night Celebrate Romance package includes a welcome bottle of bubbly, breakfast in bed for two, and dinner at one of the resort's farm-to-table restaurants or in a cottage. That said, the vineyard tours, cooking demonstrations and one of North America's leading spas are popular with families as well.
"Most women would enjoy a trip to wine country," says Hart of AAA South.
Sales and the city
Where: Shop Gotham shopping tours of New York City.
Cost: $64 per person for Garment District tour; $38 per person for Soho/Nolita tour.
Why she'll love it: "Sex and the City" meets "Project Runway."
Has Mom always dreamed of a total New York shopping splurge? Here's your opportunity to supersize that dream trip by taking her inside the private showrooms where she can acquire haute couture at wholesale prices.
Every Wednesday and Friday morning, Shop Gotham takes a group of 12 fashionistas on a three-hour walking tour of the Garment District and into six by-appointment-only designer showrooms where they can try on and purchase current-season fashions at ridiculous savings.
"We have a wonderful handbag showroom where a bag that sells for $300 at Bloomingdale's, Saks (or) Lord & Taylor is going to cost our guests $65," says Marla Hander, owner of Shop Gotham. "If you have two nickels to rub together, you're going to find something to buy."
While the Garment District tour features women's fashions exclusively, Shop Gotham's weekend tours of Soho and Nolita (for north of Little Italy) cater to boutiques for both sexes.
Private tours are available. Women's apparel may be limited above size 14.