Austin-Lehman Adventures Founders Outline Top Inn Favorites Included in 2009 All-Inclusive Itineraries

When you’re on a panel of experts, what kind of advice do you give? Dan Austin and Paul Lehman, founding partners of Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA) that specializes in immersive, active travel experiences, enjoy positions on the Forbes Traveler 400 Experts Panel.  As travel authorities, they recently outlined the top 10 favorite inns ALA will utilize on its 2009 all-inclusive itineraries.

“Narrowing the field to 10 really challenged us,” says Lehman. “But it was a good exercise because it was strongly influenced by guest feedback so it gave us an insight into what folks look for when it comes to choosing an active travel vacation.”

As longtime travel veterans and founding partners of ALA, Austin & Lehman have served on the Forbes Traveler Panel of Experts Since 2006.  They just completed their nominations for the Forbes Traveler 400 Luxury Hotel List, due out Oct 1.

Lehman notes that while ALA seeks the best accommodations in each of its destinations spanning Alaska to South Africa, in ALA terms “best” doesn’t necessarily mean the most exclusive, the biggest or most expensive.

“We look instead for intimate, locally run inns, lodges, B&Bs and resorts whose unique charm and history give our guests a true feel for the region. Each of our properties offers surprising luxury with an absence of pretension. From claw-foot tubs to wood-fired saunas and overstuffed pillows, we’ll indulge you in all the comforts and then some,” notes Lehman.

Austin & Lehman’s 2009 Top 10 Accommodations Picks:

  1. Fox Island, Kenai, Alaska: Guests boat-in to log-hewn cabins sited in rocky cove on a private three-square-mile island. ALA’s Alaska: Best of the Greatland
  2. Burrowing Owl, Okanagan Wine Region, BC: Dramatic views of mountains and vineyards from the balcony of a charming 10-room guesthouse. ALA’s Okanagan Valley: Canada’s Wine Country
  3. Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Year-round luxury resort on a wildlife sanctuary enjoys Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List designation. ALA’s Grand Teton: Valley Floors to Jagged Peaks
  4. Hotel San Juan de Dios, Chiapas, Mexico: Gardens and private gardens, antiques and chimneys grace guest accommodations of this one-time hacienda in the historic region of San Cristobal de las Casas. ALA’s Mexico Chiapas: Rainforest to Ruins. 
  5. Hotel Monasterio, Cusco, Peru: This one-time16th century monastery is built on the foundations of an Incan palace. Today its oxygen-enriched rooms are part of a five-star hotel at 11,024 feet.  ALA’s Peru: Land of the Inca.
  6. Grootbos Garden Lodge, Gansbaai, South Africa: A lush canopy embraces private balconies and suites in the Grootbos Nature Reserve, home to 650 indigenous plants and conserving 1700 hectares of fybos, the Cape’s unique vegetation. ALA’s South Africa Safari & Multisport Adventure
  7. Ant’s Nest, Limpopo Province, South Africa: Guests experience classic Africa at this original veranda-laced homestead furnished with local fabrics, timber and stone and offering a swimming pool in manicured gardens. ALA’s South Africa Family Adventure Safari
  8. Mountain Home Lodge, Leavenworth, WA: A 12-room lodge with cabins offers over-the-top cuisine in a 20-acre meadow overlooking the Washington Cascades. ALA’s Washington Cascades’ Best of the Northwest Adventure.
  9. Chico Hot Springs, Pray, Montana: Rustic cum chic, mineral hot spring pools, spa services and gourmet dining are part of the experience at this National Register of Historic Places inn. ALA’s Montana: Canyons, Calderas, & Cowboys.
  10. Arenas Del Mar, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: Beach and rainforest combine near the Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific. Dining features fresh and local. Guests enjoy over-the-top personalized service. ALA’s Costa Rica Coastlines to Cloud Forests Family Adventure

ALA manages all of the arrangements in its selected destinations. Small groups are held at 12 guests. Rates include first-class accommodations, most meals, expert guides, entry fees, multisport activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, horseback riding and more, ground transportation and luggage service. Not included is round trip air to the host city.

To get a copy of the 2008/2009 catalog as well as information on ALA’s 40 unique luxury, multisport, adult and family active adventure travel itineraries please call toll-free 1.800.575.1540, or e-mail To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto

Source: Widness & Wiggins
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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".