A recent survey by the Families and Work Institute found that more than 30 percent of Americans don't use their allotted vacation time, and a second study by the same group found that one-third of us feel overworked.
Hmm. Think there's a connection here? We did. So we did something about it. We got out of town.
When planning this issue, several factors were considered when choosing vacation destinations. First, we spoke with area travel agents to find out what spots Memphians wanted to know about. Thanks to Memphis in May, not to mention some spectacular scenery, Costa Rica was number one on the list. Next, we outlined vacation itineraries for various interests. What city is an undiscovered dining destination? Vancouver fit the bill. Where should one head when seeking solace in a spa? Add Santa Fe to the lineup. And finally, how about a city steeped in history, art, and architecture? Newport was a perfect fit. Four distinct destinations, four writers, and one month to make it happen.
Suffice it to say that this was an over-whelming staff favorite in the "research" department. (Selfless, aren't we?)
My "research" invloved traveling alone to Tamarindo, Costa Rica, a prospect I found thrilling. Until I got there. During my first few hours in this tropical paradise, I began to realize just how alone I really was. Since I visited during the rainy season (or the "green" season, as the Costa Rican tourism board has renamed it), visitors to area hotels were pretty scarce. I was in one of the most beautiful places I'd ever been, and there was no one to share it with. Suddenly, the adventurous lone-traveler concept lost its shine.
Thankfully, I met four wonderful people at my little bed-and-breakfast later that day, and for the remainder of my visit, we did everything together, from surfing lessons to toasting one another on the beach at sunset to dinners in town. It was perfect. I can't imagine what my trip would have been like without them, but I'm sure it would have been a very different experience indeed.
On my last morning there, I was telling one of the innkeepers how everything had worked out so perfectly, and she smiled and nodded knowingly, as though my story was one she'd heard over and over. "We call that 'the hotel working itself.' It happens all the time here," she explained. "I don't really know why or how it works, but it does."
If that's the case, guests there are indeed lucky. I know I was. A sincere thank you to Kris, Tui, and Ashton at the Sueño del Mar, and to my newest friends Brian, Ali, Leigh Ann, and Robin. I hope we meet again someday.