Arrival and Day 1 at Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is a sleepy little town about a two hour drive south of the Albuquerque airport. Formerly known as Hot Springs, New Mexico, the town is famous for the odorless geothermal waters which flow below the ground.

It was after lunch on Memorial Day and the holiday weekend rush had finished by the time Myra, the manager, checked us into our room. The staff was extremely friendly.

The Sierra Grande Lodge was built back in the 1920s and has seventeen rooms that are simple and charming, and one two bedroom stand-alone casita. All have free Wi-Fi.

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The main attraction in T&C, Myra explained, is the natural geothermal hot springs that run below the town and hit the earth’s surface at temperatures up to 107 degrees. The hotel’s spa has several private pools in their spa area and each guest of the hotel receives one 30- minute soaking bath per day. Some guests feel they get their fill within 15-20 minutes, while others use the full 30.

Unlike the natural hot springs I have visited in Iceland and Palm Springs, the water in Truth or Consequences is odorless and lacks the telltale sulfur scent.

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Blair Wyman, who works as the House Manager at Ladder Ranch (another Ted Turner Expeditions property nearby) took us on a tour of the spa and explained that the healing waters in Truth or Consequences have long been a draw for tourists to Truth or Consequences, which was known as Hot Springs, New Mexico until 1950 when the town voted to change its name in a promotion started by Radio host Ralph Edwards and his “Truth or Consequences” radio show. The name stuck.

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For a small hotel, the spa at Sierra Grande Lodge has a rather extensive spa menu which includes several kinds of massage, body scrubs, wraps and facials as well as aromatherapy treatments. There are several private pools to soak in the hot springs, which vary in size. The smallest can handle a single person or couple, while largest can accommodate up to eight people for a group soak.

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The Sierra Grande Lodge also has a restaurant, which is currently in the process of getting it’s liquor license. Blair told us where we could purchase liquor at a grocery store in town and gave us the name of a bar in nearby Elephant Butte, where we could get a margarita.

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We drove five miles away to check out the Elephant Butte State Park recreation area and the Elephant Butte Reservoir and Dam, which turns 100 this year. It was a nice spot to take in the sunset. Rain clouds moved in and we drove back to Truth or Consequences and got dinner in town at the Los Arcos Steakhouse, which has been a favorite of tourists passing through the area since 1970.

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We headed back to the lodge to get a good night’s sleep before exploring the Ladder Ranch with Ted Turner Expeditions in the morning.

The Nature Resort: A glamping weekend in Austria

After a 30 minute bus ride from Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol I arrived at Austria’s first and only glamping resort. The peaceful resort is located in midst stunning scenery of snow-capped mountains, lush green trees and a small lake that gives the resort its name: the Natterer See (Lake Natters). The site consists of a camping ground that accommodates campervans and tents, as well as mobile homes and of course the Nature Resort. I received a warm welcome from the ladies at the reception, making me feel comfortable straight away. They checked me in and handed me the keys to my home for the next 48 hours, which I could not wait to see.

Sleeping Barrels
The Ferienparadies Natterer See offers three exciting glamping options: the sleeping barrel, the wood lodge and the safari tent. The barrels accommodate one to two people and while they do not contain a rest room or kitchen, their charming interior is everything you need for a cosy stay in the Austrian countryside.

Safari Tent Patio
Safari Tents
The safari tents are the biggest and most luxurious accommodation of the Nature Resort. Each lodge tent is named after a different animal that you would typically see on safari in Africa and the name is very much the theme for the interior design. The lodge tents can accommodate between five and eight people and are ideal for groups and families.

Wood Lodge Inside
View from the Wood Lodge
I stayed at one of the smaller panorama wood lodges, which are completely sustainable. The whole interior was designed with attention to detail and nature in mind. My favourite feature was without a doubt the stunning panorama glass front that presents a spectacular view of the landscape. The smallest wood lodge sleeps two people and has not only got a kitchenette with a hob and fridge, but a small bathroom with a toilet and shower to keep you from having to venture outside to get ready in the mornings.

Ferienparadies Natterer See Campsite
The weather upon my arrival was gorgeous and sunny, perfect to relax and enjoy a BBQ. Each of the wood lodges and safari tents has their own outdoor lounge space with a BBQ grill. A little convenience store at the reception offers everything you need to get it going. I spent the evening on the panorama terrace sampling local sausages and watching the sun set over the majestic mountains of Tyrol.

During the summer the site offers a variety of different activities such as guided nature walks, water sport and an aqua park at the lake, as well as a variety of on-site entertainment. The activities vary depending on whether you are visiting during the winter or summer season.

Lake Natters in the rain
Hiking View Meadow
Unfortunately I woke up the next morning to a rhythmic sound and as soon as I opened the curtains, a view out of the window confirmed my dreaded suspicion: it was raining. I was set on exploring some of the nearby hiking routes and decided not to let the rain cancel my plans. The receptionist recommended a 4km route through the woods that would be at least partly protected from the rain. The starting point for the hike was just outside the campsite and the route took me through fairy-tale like forests and meadows. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking, even in the rain. After an hour I arrived at a cosy Austrian restaurant which due to the great menu, outdoor space and petting zoo is a popular destination for a day trip for tourists and locals alike. The menu featured a variety of local and national delicacies, including my favourite dish from Tyrol: spinach and parmesan dumplings.

If you don’t fancy walking back the same route, there is the option of hiking back via the small village Natters, which is only 2.5km from the campsite.

Sightseeing in Innsbruck
The surrounding area has plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to choose from to plan your day trip. One that I definitely did not want to miss is a day of exploring Innsbruck. If you are a guest at the Nature Resort you have the opportunity to use the local bus service to Innsbruck for free, which was an added bonus as I did not have access to a vehicle during my stay. The bus takes you right into the centre of town from which you can set off for a fun day of sightseeing. I started my day with a visit to the Hofgarten, which is a protected park with lots of green areas to relax. The park has a beautiful music pavilion, a small duck pond and an adventure playground for kids. The old town of Innsbruck is only a short walk from the Hofgarten and features the “Goldenes Dacherl”, the city’s most famous landmark. This part of town was my favourite. I could have spent hours walking the historic alleyways. If you are getting hungry from all that sightseeing, make sure to try some apple strudel, a popular Austrian pastry.

The Nature Resort at Lake Natters has brought glamping to Austria and with a combination of mountains views, outdoor activities and luxurious accommodation that is embedded in nature, it is here to stay!

Maria Berz

A 26-year-old travel addict with an appetite for life, passion for international music and love for global cuisine. She has just relocated to her home country Germany, after spending six years in the beautiful North of England. Maria is the founder of Global Brunch, a freelance digital expert, writer, hobby photographer and radio host.

Challenge Yourself: Himalayas Yoga Trek

Across religions, nationalities, ages and interests, the Himalayan Mountains are holy. To those who live amongst them, the mountains are sacred places to be treated with the utmost veneration. Certain mountains are even worshiped as no less than gods on earth. To outsiders, the mountains are a different sort of god, and climbers travel from all corners of the globe to try their skill at earth’s highest peaks. For all, these mountains connect with the core of our humanity to command a reverence. And when gazing up, we’re all stirred and challenged to reach higher, to be better.

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In a place so drenched in spirituality, to trek without respecting that would be like walking the whole way with your eyes on your own feet. There must be a reason multiple religions find connection to their different gods through these peaks, while the secular stand in awe and the most cynical mind is silenced. If meditation had a Mecca, here it is. So when we found a trek that added yoga as well as meditation, it seemed perfect. If this meditation thing ended up being a sham, at least our bodies would get more flexible.

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We signed up with the recommended Purna Yoga for an 11-day trek up to Annapurna Base Camp. Over the course of each day, our guide, Chandra, led us in a variety of meditations, breathing exercises, and yoga practices as we hiked higher towards ABC. While we made our way through the gorgeous terrain, the stretches were easier for both our bodies and our minds.

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There are countless resources on meditation and mindfulness, even for us western skeptics (we recommend 10% Happier by Dan Harris). Our experience and the evidence slowly worked on our doubt. What started as crunchy hippy talk began making more and more sense. The miracle can only be laid at the base of the great peaks. We can say, with the many who climbed before us, that these mountains changed us. Now, in addition to our feeling a reverence and awe towards the Himalayas, we’re grateful.

Blakely Downs

Blakely left her job as an advertising producer in New York to turn professional traveler with her husband. As they explore, learn, give, and get lost, thrilled, and changed through distant lands, she recounts it all on her travel blog and enables couch travelers everywhere. She now contributes to Glamping.com as a guest writer.