Vacation Fitness in Paradise: Experience The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali

Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Welcome to “The Island of Gods” in the magnificent Republic of Indonesia for an immersive vacation to focus on deeper spiritual awareness and living in the presence of Mother Nature’s serenity. Located between Lombak and Java, Bali is a majestic land consisting of volcanic mountains, mesmerizing topography, stunning flora and heartwarming people. The tropical climate — commingled with deep ravines, hillside rice fields, enchanting waterfalls and delectable Balinese fare — has created an indelible imprint that will remain with me indefinitely.

The lifelong dream of visiting Bali was shared by my wife Misa so we decided to manifest our intentions and make reality come true. Deciding on accommodations, whether it’s a resort, condo or villa, is always pivotal. Since Misa is a Platinum member with SPG we zeroed in on The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali which is conveniently located 10 kilometers from the Ngurah Rai International Airport (resembles an ancient temple) and close to the capital city of Denpasar, the main gateway to the island. The luxuriant 5-star family resort is nestled on white sandy beaches with beautiful vistas of the Indian Ocean. The Westin was perfect for enhancing our constellation of wedding commemorations. [Read more…]

Couples in Cabo: Experience The Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Pristine beaches, immaculate summer sunshine, luxurious resort accommodations and carefree schedules to enjoy “freedom of expressions” are what we all desire during hard-earned workweeks. So take my lead and connect with couples that enjoy similar passions on the road and head to the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula for relaxation, exploration, mesmerizing ambiance and energizing entertainment. What are you contemplating? The capes patiently await your arrival. [Read more…]

2017 Mazda CX-9: Freedom of Expression

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Summers are special for the Rawlins Family as we use this celestial time to explore newfangled destinations, rekindle favorite pastimes and venture to various health, food and fitness festivals focused on developmental skills. It’s that innate energy of June, July and August that keep us on the go like nomads always looking for the next adventure. Well, this past week led the crew to the Windy City of Chicago for a week-long Nike Sports Camp to help elevate my youngest daughter’s ball handling techniques. Thanks to Mazda I was able to escort us around the region in style utilizing the family-friendly 2017 CX-9 Grand Touring AWD. [Read more…]

Third Annual Nomadic Journey: Mountain Biking Cambodia’s Ancient Temples of Angkor

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Greetings from Cambodia for Fit Fathers’ third annual nomadic expedition, a rediscovery of life, newfangled cultures, freedom from attachment and enlightenment. I’ve been traveling for over 20 years now but just recently began traversing the globe to indigenous countries on solo missions. From Phuket to Nepal, the appeal of simple life, thankfulness, ancient spices and herbs and nurturing foods entices my pallet. So I continue digging deeper for truth, perspective and the freedom of life while doing so on a mountain bikes utilizing the best local tour guides in the field. Welcome to my world.

After a 25-hour commute starting on United Airlines from Washington Dulles to San Francisco to Korea and then on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia I landed rather restless. As usual it was confounding circumstances at the airport when I arrived at 11:30 pm so I feverishly picked out my $9 Tuk Tuk driver and headed to the Grand Boutique II in Phnom Penh for two nights. The streets from the airport into town were pretty dusty and awaiting trash truck pickups. The open ride let me get a feel for the city before the next day’s explorations. Food cart vendors were open for business and those that weren’t were preparing for the next day’s busy day. Keep in mind mopeds and Tuk Tuks rule this town like most cities in Southeast Asia. The 3-star, boutique hotel was a small, quaint spot situated in the middle of the hustle off of 5th street. For about $50 a night it surprisingly included complimentary breakfast (exotic fruit platter, fresh mango juice and vegetable stir fry rice), free WiFi and instantaneous customer service. Mental note, trust is an important trait for travelers and jetsetters so your senses must be keen and instincts impeccable to avoid ominous scenarios. You will never see me rocking headphones to drown out the environment while I’m away.

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I popped up bright and early and went for a run to view the bustle of Cambodia’s busy capital streets. By far, running and biking are the most strategic ways to enjoy new lands while simultaneously energizing the body. With 90-degree weather the entire 10-day stay I promised myself to spend the journey outdoors soaking up Vitamin D. First up was a trot to the National Museum which is actually a temple rich with Cambodian history and relics. Later that night I caught a traditional and magical dance performance put on by the Cambodian Living Arts which was the highlight of my day. The revelry is fixated on love, food and peace. For example, in flourishing countries the masses are devoted to earning their next million, obtaining elaborate jewelry, luxury cars, fancy shoes, expensive purses and the grandest houses, while the poor Cambodian farmers dance fervently in solidarity — Beh Krawine Dance — to bless their crops and well-being. It’s the unpretentious things in life that generate happiness.

Next up was a short flight on Bayon Airlines to Siem Reap for day 1 of mountain biking (MTBing) while visiting the ancient temples of Angkor. After extensive research I selected Cambodia Cycling as my tour guides of choice. The 3-day ride totaled about $600 and included 3-star accommodation, an experienced cycling guide, your bike (Trek or Giant) full board meals (breakfasts, lunch and dinner), boat trip on Tonlé Sap Lake to see the floating fishing village, a support van and a 3-day Angkor pass. In fact, Dara, Son and Greg ascertained that every need imaginable was handled under their care including the litany of vegan grub in the area which I have a penchant for. Directly from the airport we hit the ground pedaling to the temples. Combining the love for cycling with nomadic travel is the best and most modest act a spiritual outlier can ask for.

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The route took us to Prasat Kravan Temple, the Buddhist Temple Banteay Kdei (meaning a citadel of chambers) and the infamous Ta Prohm Temple which is adorned by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers. It was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII who is discernibly looked upon by historians as the most formidable Khmer monarch. Keep in mind roughly 80% of all Cambodians are Buddhists. We also admired the Bayon Temple and the temple complex of the breathtaking Angkor Wat. On the gentle ride back to the Angkor Boutique Villa I felt like a kite dancing in a hurricane, flowing freely with thoughts as pervasive as the Andaman Sea. For dinner Son reserved a table at Chamkar Vegetarian Restaurant where the open atmosphere was meditative since I was seated next to the garden. Trees grow inside the eco-friendly eatery and bamboo dividers can be rolled up or down depending on the weather. Chamkar serves fine and genuine foods using fresh, local veggies and as organic as possible. Yes, the meals were light, refreshing and pleasing.

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Each day we road out from my art deco suite to a uniquely, mystic pocket of the country ripe with fascination. For the next 48 hours in Siem Reap I embraced adoration of living in the countryside to explore the simple life and the floating village where the locals (mostly Vietnamese fishers) dwell and work. In the country a little girl eats her rice in what seems to be a private abode behind a bush while roosters scream in excitement and rustic bike shops tend to the villagers number one mean of transportation. Both the Cambodians and I were equally curious with each other. Humbled is an understatement, especially since the people here survive off the crops they grow. After MTBing I went back to the hotel to relax, find more veggie grub and attend another dance and arts show later that night. Certainly I will return again to this part of the world, possibly Vietnam.

The nomadic escape on two wheels was another unforgettable experience that I will cherish dearly. No man or woman should ever fear the unknown. Self-discovery is a powerful awareness tool.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones: Noise Cancellation Optimized

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

You could say I live in the friendly skies since hitting the 2-million mile mark on United Airlines at the ripe old age of 42. On average I commute through the air 200,000 base miles annually which sends me anywhere from Cambodia to San Diego. Of course globetrotters pack and bring along their true essentials during each journey like clockworks. My formula includes a Macbook Air so I can continue writing, a bag of trail mix, organic green tea, a few educational books and now a pair of laudable QuietComfort 35 (QC35) noise-cancelling, over-the-ear headphones. Trust me, you will be at peace (in style) mile high with a set of Bose’s latest sound innovation. [Read more…]

Couples in Costa Rica: Pura Vida at The Westin Golf Resort & Spa Playa Conchal

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Experienced by Kimatni and Misa Rawlins

It’s always a perfect occasion to visit Costa Rica. After our first stay five years ago my wife Misa and I knew it was only a matter of time before we returned to the majestic lands of Central America. With so many work obligations and parenting responsibilities to tend to back home in Silver Spring, MD, it is a refreshing delight escaping without our children. This year for our anniversary we chose the Guanacaste region and invited friends who share similar passions in life such as traversing the world. [Read more…]

Welcome to Aruba: A Fit Fathers Active Getaway

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Private weekends or time alone with your wife, girlfriend or significant other is a requirement for a happy and successful relationship. Just as the kids deserve a Fit Father’s attention, so does the woman in your life. For this reason my wife Misa and I hit the road at least once a quarter, sometimes as local as Miami or as far away as Phuket or Tokyo. This is in addition to our quarterly family excursions with the kids. This go-around we chose the small Caribbean Dutch Island resting 15 miles off the Northern shoreline of Venezuela.

Aruba is unique, captivating and very touristy. Strong, customary trade winds, white, sandy beaches and Spanish, Dutch, English and Papiamento lingo commingle with 82-degree breezy weather, kind-hearted inhabitants and the southwesterly bending leaning fofoti trees. Keep in mind rainy days are rare on the 19.6-mile long and 6-mile wide dry island.

To get there we flew into Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) on a 4-hour direct United Airlines flight from Newark, NJ. A car rental was a must so we could explore every nook and cranny the region had to offer including Arikok National Park which encompasses 18% of the island, the California Lighthouse named after a shipwrecked vessel coming from Liverpool, the Capital City of Oranjestad and of course as many vegan or vegetarian friendly restaurants as possible. The Lighthouse sits atop the Northern most part of the island and is the perfect locale for lunch or dinner at the well-known Faro Blanco Restaurant. With spectacular sunset views, the Italian and Aruban infused eatery serves a medley of salads, soups, risottos and pastas and hosts a daily happy hour from 5 pm to 7 pm and daily live music between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.

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I didn’t view Aruba as an enchanting retreat or meditational destination as I do Negril, Belize or Costa Rica so it wasn’t treated like one. For that reason an entertaining beach experience can be had from the Renaissance Ocean Suites in Oranjestad where the action takes place. For example, the Renaissance Marketplace consists of a mix of hip cafes such as Sidebar Bistro, live music and a movie theater for those who become restless quickly. A main stage stayed busy with various musical acts each evening of our visit. Guests can enjoy the private beach at Renaissance Island to relax and feed the Flamingos, visit the Okeanos Spa for the Sea of Tranquility or Chocolate Embrace treatment, play volleyball or tennis, strength train at the fascinating gym, hit the running trail, kayak, sail, scuba dive, snorkel or watch a wedding on the beach as day turns to night. As well, the Patamingo Kids Club is at your disposal if you do decide to bring the young ones.

The Fit Fathers mantras is simple, “vacations are to relax the mind, not the body.” So the first morning we chose to run free for 4 miles through the hustle and bustle of downtown along a path that leads to the airport. Furthermore, each ¼-mile we knocked out 25 push ups and 25 dips for a total of 400. Yes, it felt amazing as usual. Swiftly afterwards we were able to reward ourselves with a big fat vegan grub and poolside sunbathing. I enjoy cycling equally and stopped in Tri-Bike for $25 a day loaners (24 hours that is). They have swimming, biking and running gear in addition to Trek mountain bike rentals. However my timing was off for the Duo ExTreme Mountain Bike Challenge at Rancho Notorious with 60km, 40km and sprint distance races.

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Searching for health conscious foods is always a key adventure for our excursions. The Happy Cow app typically points us to the top and most popular veggie based eateries within range. One that I can’t forget is the authentic Indonesian vegan meal at Indo in the Palm Beach area. We had potato rotis, spirited veggie rice dishes and an assortment of spicy noodles. The small joint is popular to locals and focuses strictly on the culinary experience. No need to worry about Karaoke ruining your meal.

If you want to explore a bit more try an ATV Tour, the UTV Beach and Cave Adventure or a Jeep Safari outing to traverse over the wild beauty of Aruba’s outback and rugged coastline to witness either the Natural Bridge, the Natural Pool, the Andicuri Trail, Alto Vista Chapel, Gold Mill Ruins, Cero Crystal or the Caves just to name a few. Conversely, riches can be made or lost at a multitude of Casinos where high-end shopping such as Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Cartier or Bvlgari patiently await your earnings. I’m not a gambler whatsoever so this theme never entered my consciousness.

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For the last supper we were looking for a blend of health conscious culinary experiences alongside fine dining and found the precise place. Just two years old, the luxuriant Elements Restaurant is nestled within the Bucuti & Tara resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach. A viscous Broccoli & Carrot Soup along with a refreshing Caesar Salad with avocados tickled our pallets. For entrees, Misa ordered the Quinoa Pineapple dish consisting of quinoa sautéed with a medley of vegetables creatively stuffed in the shell of a whole pineapple, and then flamed in front of us with Caribbean rum. I went with the Wheat Spaghetti featuring squash pasta, tomatillos, leeks and Quorn which was enhanced with garlic, Dijon mustard and Riesling wine. There was nothing more enchanting during our Aruban vacation than natural and organic dining by the sea.

Visit www.Aruba.com to start planning your romantic and active itinerary to show your lady just how special she is. It’s a Fit Fathers requisite!

 

United Airlines Makes Significant New Investment in In-flight Food and Beverage Service

Strawberry+FieldsSaladToday United Airlines unveiled new, improved lunch, dinner and beverage choices for domestic first-class customers, offering travelers chef-inspired meals and premium beverages that elevate their in-flight experience.

Among the changes are new, premium salads beginning this month for customers flying United First and United Business within North America; new, premium sandwiches and wraps, beginning Sept. 1 for United First and United Business customers within North America. Addition of Prosecco sparkling wine in premium cabins beginning this fall; introduction of premium-cabin meals to flights of shorter duration beginning in 2015; and fresh meal options for premium-cabin customers on United Express flights, beginning in 2015. [Read more…]

United Airlines Goes Gluten-Free

Tomato+basil+gluten-free+soupUnited Airlines is elevating the inflight dining experience with the addition of new menu items, including gluten-free options for premium-cabin and United Economy customers.

On March 1, the company will switch from regular to gluten-free salad dressing on its premium-cabin menu on flights departing the United States to points throughout North and Central America – routes that already have flights offering gluten-free soup. With the new salad dressing, premium-cabin customers may enjoy a complete gluten-free meal on flights where both soup and salad are served.

This summer, United will add gluten-free options for premium-cabin customers on long-haul international flights departing the United States, including salad dressing for all premium-cabin customers and soup in United Global First. [Read more…]

Satellite Wi-Fi Service comes to United Aircraft

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We’ve introduced onboard satellite-based Wi-Fi internet connectivity to our international wide-body aircraft, which makes us the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while traveling on long-haul overseas routes. We are equipping our Boeing 747-400 aircraft that serve trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology, offering our customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). For our domestic routes, we’ve begun to outfit our Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft with Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi.

[Read more…]