From champagne in the Granite State to specialized travel advice



Those pining for sunny days on the water can indulge in a little dreaming at the 2015 Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show, which runs Feb. 14-22 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. More than 800 boats will be on display, including luxury motor yachts, sport fishers, performance boats, personal watercraft, and dozens of sailboats and sailing yachts. In addition, more than 100 free educational seminars will be offered daily on all things boating, for novices and experts alike. Special guest “Captain Dave” Carraro of National Geographic’s TV show “Wicked Tuna” will be on hand to meet attendees at various times. $15.


Certainly, champagne and roses go hand-in-hand with romance, but on Feb. 12 a special four-course dinner with Cristal rosé champagne at PINE Restaurant in Hanover, N.H., takes it to another level. The farm-to-table restaurant, with chef Justin Dain (formerly of Meritage) at the helm, was created by renowned Boston chef-restaurateur Michael Schlow. Each month they hold a featured wine dinner for $85. Since PINE is located oh-so-conveniently in the historic Hanover Inn on the scenic Dartmouth College green, you might want to combine dinner with the hotel’s “Romance” overnight package, which includes a bottle of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries (available throughout the year). The Valentine’s Getaway Package, which runs Feb. 14-20, includes the same treats, plus a $100 credit at PINE. 603-646-8000,; Hanover Inn, 603-643-4300,




Premier River Cruises, a travel agency specializing in river cruises, has launched a novel new way to pay for your vacation: a layaway plan. Instead of coming up with one, usually large, lump sum, cruisers can book an “Easy Pay” plan and make interval payments, which you can customize as to timing and the amount (minimum is $250 per month) that suits your needs. The program kicks off with select sailings of Scenic River Cruises’ all-inclusive 10-night Black Sea Explorer cruise from Budapest to Bucharest, Romania, plus special perks if you book before Feb. 10. There’s no additional cost to use Easy Pay and any seven-day or longer cruise bought through Premier is eligible. 855-255-1200,


The somewhat goofily-named “Man Proof” package at the Jade Hotel in New York’s Greenwich Village may smack of the 1950s, but it does take the worry out of planning a special Valentine’s Day. Available only Feb. 13 or 14, the deal includes a night at the hotel, with its beautiful 1920s Parisian-inspired rooms (pictured), a bottle of Moet champagne and a dozen roses. For those wanting to start the evening with dinner, the hotel’s restaurant, Grape & Vine, is offering a lovingly themed prix fixe ($70) dinner with oysters, braised ossubuco, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Package rates start at $425. 212-375-1300,



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We customize practically everything in our lives, from cars to phones, but sometimes vacations are an all-or-nothing proposition. For those who want help planning a vacation, as well guidance at their destination, but are not into group tour experiences, Monograms might be the answer. A little hard to define, Monograms basically offers escorted tour perks for independent travelers, but the service is more than that of a travel agency. One example is its Local Host program, which offers travelers the services of a local, who is at your beck and call throughout your trip, from picking you up at the airport to helping you skip the lines at popular landmarks to dining advice (no tourist traps for you!). Monograms operates in 40 countries on five continents, with more than 100 vacation package choices, and dozens of extension options, so designing your perfect trip is a snap.


Travelers who worry about their carbon footprint can offset it a little bit while they enjoy comfortable accessories and clothes from Kaikuna Clothing, a California company that participates in 1% for the Planet (a global network of environmental nonprofits). Kaikuna creates its garments with local labor and also uses materials made locally and organically when it can. One item, the Hidden Joey Hoodie, a semi-fitted, hip-length jacket with thumb cuffs, front kangaroo pockets, and two hidden technology pockets, is great for trips. The right-hand pocket can hold your cellphone and keys, while the somewhat larger left-hand one is perfect for a passport or tablet. Two media ports allow you to keep your headphone cables inside your hoodie. Made from bamboo fleece or bamboo French terry. $99.


Kim Foley MacKinnon can be reached at
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