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Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites

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  • October 31, 2017
Travel Review Dunes Manor
The prize for spectacular views goes to The Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites, Ocean City, MD.  All rooms offer a beachfront balcony, a vibrant sunrise, and a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. All photos by Joan Matsui Travel Writer and Photographer


A Perfect Balance

Fun and Sun


You’ll find your idea of fun at Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites, Ocean City, MD. Building on a dream vacation is exactly what the management at the Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites has done since April Fool’s Day, 1987.

Milton and Thelma Conner dreamt of owning a full-service hotel on an inherited vacant oceanfront block of land. Tenacity is what kept Mrs. Conner from selling the Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites after her husband’s death.

To carry on the tradition, the Dunes Manor creates year-round opportunities for guests to interact and mingle or find plenty of activities both on-site and in and around Ocean City.

The Dunes Manor is a landmark property along that popular stretch of Maryland beach. Before I give you a rundown of the new fall activities in the works, you should understand you won’t EVER be bored during your visit. In fact, the variety of weekly activities for guests of all ages is what has kept couples and families coming back year after year. There’s so much to see and do from the moment you arrive. The mood is family-oriented but there were also couples traveling alone and in small groups. I refer to those as a “mini-reunion” and the Dunes is an ideal location to meet and spend time with friends.

Wave Goodbye to Boredom


What’s Happening at Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites?

Guests who want to integrate fitness, frolic and fantasy into a beach getaway can participate in these fall activities free of charge. Schedules vary from season-to-season but organized events and classes are planned if you want to join the fun.

  • Monday Night Football – featuring door prizes, football bingo, big screen viewing of the games, and food/drink specials.  (Mondays, beginning at 8 p.m.)
  • Girls Night Out – featuring rotating activities through the month that will be led by local artisans, including paint n’ sip, makeovers/stylings, cupcake decorating, jewelry making, and crafting.  (Thursdays, 6 – 8 p.m.)
  • Mind & Body Class – featuring weekly rotating themes of Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, barre workouts, and Bootcamp workouts.  (Saturdays, 8  – 9 a.m.)
  • The Craft Cafe – featuring locally inspired crafts (pumpkin stenciling, chalkboard painting, embroidery), freshly baked desserts, and coffee/tea.  (Saturdays, 1 – 3 p.m.)
  • Swim-In Movie Night – featuring screenings of popular movies at the hotel’s indoor pool, complimentary candy and popcorn, and food/drink specials.  (Fridays, 7 – 9 p.m.)
  • Beach Treasure & Scavenger Hunt – featuring puzzles, trivia, and searches for trinkets at local arcades and retailers.  All participants will receive souvenirs and hotel swag.  The grand prize winner will receive a free hotel stay.  (Sundays, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
  • Beach Photo Op – featuring free 5” x 7” or telescope photos taken on the beach.  (Sundays, 4 – 5 p.m.)

Whether you prefer to spend your day sprawled on a beach blanket or you’re an itinerant explorer yearning to visit each and every attraction, it’s time to book your fall ocean getaway or plan your 2018 summer family vacation.

A Lasting Impression


If you envision crowded Ocean City beaches where you’re elbow-to-elbow with fellow beach-goers, you should know the boardwalk’s shops, arcades and amusement areas absorb a significant amount of traffic. We visited during one of the busiest times of the year and found the crowd evenly dispersed along the three-mile boardwalk. My kids had ample space to create sandcastles and forts in the sand.

Keep in mind we arrived in Ocean City during a tropical storm warning. Driving rain, powerful wind gusts that were strong enough to knock me off my feet and some rather extreme waves greeted us. As with any vacation, travelers should keep in mind inclement weather is always a possibility and have a “Plan B” set in case sun-bathing and riding the waves are not options.

Stormy skies upon our arrival in Ocean City

Fortunately, the weather continued to improve and the next morning we awakened to a clearing sky and partial sunshine.

As a tropical storm moved away from Ocean City, MD and the sky continued to clear, Kento Matsui watched passers-by arrive at the beach.

I enjoyed my time at the hotel very much. It was wonderful to be able to see the beach from my room and wake up to the smell of sea air. I left the door open at night to let the air in. The beds were very comfortable and I slept well that night. We had our own kitchen where we were able to cook or we were near the boardwalk restaurants if we didn’t want to. We were also oceanfront, so I could walk out onto the beach whenever I wanted. ~ Kento Matsui

As I prepared breakfast in our newly-renovated one-bedroom suite, we planned our day to include a few hours on the beach followed by activities the hotel offers.

There’s no need to toss left-over meals in the trash. Reheat or prepare a quick meal in your guest room.

Don’t forget to take time to relax


Any time is “naptime,” whether you’ve been immersed in activities all day or you need a quick recharge. The decor is soothing and relaxed, even for a teenager with boundless energy. 

Newly-decorated rooms are dressed in colors and patterns that are best described as inviting and calming. The pink headboards in our suite remind me of pinkish sand and seashells you’ll find on the Ocean City, MD beaches.

Signature Afternoon Tea, a Photo Op (on the beach), Morning Yoga, and the much celebrated “Pirate” Scavenger Hunt are four of the most popular planned activities at Dunes Manor.

A Tradition of Afternoon Tea


Afternoon Tea Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites
Mrs. Conner’s welcomed guests each afternoon for tea. The tradition continues decades later. The staff keeps the tea and silver cookie trays well-stocked. 

One of Mrs. Conner’s signature events that have endured for years is Afternoon Signature Tea. Her goal was to mingle with and also encourage interaction among her guests. Wherever you roam during your stay, be sure to set your alarm for 3 p.m. and make your way back to Dunes Manor for tea time.

Afternoon Tea at Dunes Manor
Even after the crowd has thinned, the staff at Dunes Manor keep the tea and coffee piping hot as they diligently restock the silver trays with chewy, delicious cookies.

Afternoon Photo Op?


Family Photo Op Dunes Manor
Preserve family memories in a photo you’ll cherish forever.

Chances are you are the photographer in charge of capturing your family vacations. Is someone in your family left out of a prized vacation photo? What if you could preserve those precious memories with the entire family present? Dunes Manor has a professional photographer available for a family photo or couples’ photo op. Inquire about the date and time when you book your stay at the hotel.

Dunes Manor Summer Photo Op
A professional photographer is at your disposal during the summer afternoon photo op.

The hotel offers a one-hour window for families to meet on the beach and the most current package includes a free 5″ x 7″ or telescope photos with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop.

Imagine years from now when you find this photo.

“Be” a MORNING person at the beach


Sunrise Ocean City beache
Why waste a glorious morning? Set your alarm so you’ll awaken before the sun begins to rise. Roll out of bed and come to the beach for a morning walk and experience why a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean is a spectacular event. 

Good Morning, Beach


Dunes Manor Review Joan Matsui
Shown after sunrise, Yoshi Matsui was ready for a walk on the beach. He discovered his “peace and quiet” before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.

Dunes Manor was exciting. When I was there (in August), I wanted to go to the beach every day. The waves were big, (because of a tropical storm) so it was fun to mess around in the water. I also liked the boardwalk because of the varieties of shops and restaurants. The room was fantastic and we had a great view (of the ocean) from our balcony. I also enjoyed the Saltwater Taffy. ~ Yoshihiko Matsui

Usher in your day with “Morning Yoga”



Morning Yoga Dunes Manor
Do you find yoga invigorating AND relaxing? Dunes Manor offers an opportunity for guests to wake up their senses with free “Morning Yoga.”

Make Yoga a part of your day. Even if you’re not a yogi, a gentle morning stretch can work wonders for a variety of health ailments and prepare you for a day that might include walking along the boardwalk, shopping, or visiting one of the local attractions. Inquire about the yoga and fitness schedule at the registration desk when you check in.

beach yoga
I didn’t need any coaxing to join the morning Yoga class. My gaze was fixed on the waves as I moved through a gentle morning Vinyasa routine.

PIRATE Scavenger Hunt

You never know where you’ll meet a “PIRATE”


Quick! Take cover when you meet a Pirate face-to-face in a Dunes Manor corridor.


Pirate Scavenger Hunt Dunes Manor
Both young and older scoundrels comb the halls in search of much-coveted treasures.   

The Pirate Scavenger Hunt gets underway in the foyer of the lobby at Dunes Manor. After a quick introduction, kids embark on a mission to uncover treasure hidden throughout the hotel. Parents tag along for support so it’s a safe, fun-filled event. The aim is to meet the pirate character at the last stop of the hunt and collect prizes.

Dunes Manor Travel Information
This young forager selects his prize from a treasure box. 
The “pirate” awaits the children at the last stop of the scavenger hunt. I didn’t participate in the hunt, but I had a chance to watch the children race to the finish line and redeem a prize. And of course, I couldn’t pass on a photo op with the pirate. 

Accolades and Information


Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites is rated by TripAdvisor as #6 out of 104 hotels in Ocean City, MD.

Activities are free for hotel guests and local residents are also invited to participate for a nominal fee. No registration or RSVP is required. For more information, contact Tracy Rice (, 410.289.1100).

Explore Ocean City


My assignment at Dunes Manor Hotel & Suites was comped but my opinions are my own.

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Celebrate National Public Lands Day

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  • September 27, 2017
National Public Lands Day
National Public Lands Day 2016 volunteers show their support by helping park rangers maintain precious land along the Delaware River. Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

Celebrate the Public Lands You Love


One of the best ways to show your appreciation for the rivers and trails you enjoy year-round is to join more than 200,000 volunteers around the country on Sat., Sept. 30, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., as they celebrate National Public Lands Day.  

What is National Public Lands Day?


National Public Lands Day is an event organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation to promote enjoyment and volunteer conservation of public lands in the United States. The signature event is held on a Saturday in late September.

2016 National Public Lands Day volunteers lend a hand.

How can you help?

You can get involved and pitch in locally in Northeastern Pennsylvania at the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Volunteers are needed to help park rangers with three projects.

  1. Clean up trash from the river while paddling from Narrowsburg, NY to the Ten Mile River Access, NY.
  2. Maintain the Tusten Mountain Trail near the Ten Mile River Access by helping to widen the trail and vista, install trail markers, and remove hazards from the hiking path.
  3. Clear mile-a-minute and other invasive plant species from around the Zane Grey Museum and Lackawaxen Access.


National Public Lands Day by Joan Mead-Matsui
Be one of the 200,000 volunteers who pitch in to help maintain U.S. national parks.

National Public Lands Day will kick off at 9 a.m. at the Ten Mile River Access located on Crawford Road, Narrowsburg, NY. Following the kick-off reception, volunteers will be assigned to groups and move to their designated location to begin the projects.

The maintenance sessions will wrap up on a rolling basis as projects conclude.

To register, call 570-729-7134 ext. 220 or email Additional information can be also be found online at




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Venture to the “Land of the Long White Cloud”

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  • September 4, 2017

Top 5 Places in New Zealand

The Land of the Long White Cloud


by Sahiba Sadana


Non-copyrighted Image Source

No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’ll come across various pubs with excellent beer, fine wine and wonderful food with pleasant service and a charm that’s all their own. All one needs is to make a stopover, soak up the ambiance and have a great time. Those not from the native country can always look up locations online and find the perfect, most suitable place to stay and enjoy the culture. One can compare the costs, desirability, ratings, and locations of various places and choose the most suitable option to gain maximum utility out of one’s visit. Some of my all-time favorite themed pubs include the following:

1) The Green Dragon


The Green Dragon is a pub that takes its inspiration from the beloved “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” series. It offers followers a “True Hobbit Experience.” Art director and venture manager, Brian Massey headed the construction of the Green Dragon Pub, with a team of 80 laborers in adding the themed attraction to the beautiful Hobbiton. The Green Dragon is decorated with precise details to recreates the look and feel of the same drinking establishment as in The Lord of the Rings films.

Hobbit village, located near Matamata, was built in 1998 as a set of the films; by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema. WingNut Films art director and Green Dragon project manager Brian Massey supervised the construction and meticulous decoration.

300,000 people have visited Hobbiton over the past decade, and the number has increased drastically after the release of “Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey.” The pub was opened to the public in late November 2012 after New Zealand Prime Minister John Key conducted the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Hobbiton Board director and New Zealand Tourism Supervisor George Hickton have stated that the establishment may be converted to allow for overnight stays to attract more tourists and provide them with convenience to enjoy the Hobbit lifestyle.

2) Leamington Tavern (Five Stags)


Leamington Tavern was established in 2012. It offers TAB dining, SKY TV, outdoor areas and a lovely open fire. It is rightly nicknamed the ‘FIVE STAGS’ as it features five impressive stag heads on the wall right above the bar that steadily view the scene below. The Leamington tavern has a hunting lodge theme that makes one want to sit by the fire and relish a hearty meal. It offers a broad range of menu items from wild boar to venison burgers and a separate children’s menu. Distinctive features of the new concept pub include columns which are exposed and integrated into life-like trees, a detached hunter’s cabin and full-sized duck shooter’s Mai Mai.

3) The Patriot


The Patriot is located in the heart of the village and is the only British-themed pub in Devonport. It is situated in the historic building of the Bank of New Zealand with its original safe vault still in place. One can soak up the ambiance while sipping a pint or drinking a fine glass of wine. The Patriot also provides a wide variety of beers, spirits, wines and soft drinks which one can be enjoyed by the warm fire during winters or in the expansive beer garden or covered verandas in the summer; guaranteeing a memorable experience all year round. It plays Live Music on Thursdays and Saturdays, has a Pub Quiz on Tuesdays and displays all big sporting events Live on their big screens for visitors to enjoy their time at the Patriot.

4) Four Kings


Four Kings are Wellington’s biggest sports pub, with 32 LCD projection screens and three enclosed booths. Four Kings is a multi-level casual eatery as well as a brew house situated in the heart of Wellington’s CBD. With over 70 plasma and LCD projection screens, Four Kings specializes in providing an excellent standard to deliver the experience, high quality, and services. The Four Kings is everybody’s dream sports pub with state-of-the-art TAB and gaming facilities which complement the particular 32 projection screens. The bar is built for comfort and ease with 15 Lazy-boy recliners that one can settle back in and check out a match or race. There usually are three surrounded booths (each consists of its LCD screen) that one can tuck oneself away along with some friends and enjoy. There are lots of different TV sets and ‘Sound Zones’ so you can choose what you want to watch. The 4 Kings Lounge could be the ultimate sports bar for sports fans. Four Kings is also a major sponsor of the “Wellington Century City Saints” basketball team, and throughout the season one can run into players when they dine in at Four Kings after home games.

5) The Riverhead


The Riverhead, 153 years of age, can be considered as New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern in addition to having New Zealand’s second oldest liquor license. The Riverhead has been home to refreshments and conviviality. Having been recently renovated, the focus has been shed upon providing the local community a meeting place and welcoming the tourists and local families to dwell in the fresh New Zealand food with a knack, local wines, great beer, and coffee. It can be seen as a venue for a distinct and attractive destination for different interest groups. The vast lawn under a historic oak tree overlooks a creek and has been a desired place for weddings and gatherings for over a century. The Riverhead along with its history and traditions has been restored recently by owners Paula and Stephen who have reinstated this iconic establishment with a remarkable fashion. The pubs mentioned above are not just merely pubs, they are a unique experience that one must NOT miss out on while they visit New Zealand.

Author Bio – Sahiba Sadana is a content writer, well-versed in SEO writing. Her works have appeared on Business Town, The Business Woman Media and other leading dailies. The English post graduate is a Sherlock Holmes fangirl. You can read a recent article by her on drones at The Absolute Reviews.


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Food on Foot: Travel Book Review

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  • June 21, 2017

Travel Book Review



A History of Eating on TRAILS and in the Wild

by Demet Guzey

Freelance food and wine writer and Author Demet Güzey, Ph.D., has climbed some rather high mountains in her lifetime.

“Food on Foot” is a captivating look at famous expeditions and unknown explorers who have demonstrated their ability or lack thereof to carry or forage food.

Guzey is a consummate hiker and food enthusiast with many published articles to her credit and Food on Foot (April 8, 2017; ISBN: 978-1-4422-5506-7) is the next installment in the “Food on the Go” series.

History on the Go


She introduces readers to the history of the human expedition, from the Incan pilgrimages at Machu Picchu to what we’ve come to know today as street vendors and food trucks. She guides her readers through the Arctic, across barren deserts, and over mountains to give firsthand accounts through “the lens of food.” In addition to her thought-provoking writing, you’ll also find photographs, expert opinions, and recipes.

Humanity is limited by the food we can find along the way and her book is dedicated to examining the ways we have approached the problem. Her book is also an invaluable educational guide with an extensive bibliography that can be used for follow-up learning. Pages and pages of sources illustrate Guzey’s thirst for knowledge and her commitment to providing accurate and compelling information.

Follow this link to learn more about Guzey.


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