January 21st, 2021
Where to Go: March
With March comes a new season and many reasons to explore nearby.
Nothing signals spring in DC like the city’s famous cherry blossoms. The 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival will take place March 20-April 11 with an innovative format incorporating both virtual and personal experiences that adhere to city and CDC guidelines. Programming, which will be free and open to the public, will include locally-curated community experiences that focus on music, cuisine, and visual arts presentations. Of note are the 20 large, vibrant cherry blossom sculptures displayed in dozens of locations throughout the city. For more details, visit nationalcherryblossomfestival.org
The Dupont Circle Hotel reopened in October 2020 following a top-to-bottom renovation including a new bar and restaurant by Martin Brudnizki and a fresh penthouse suite and lobby by Clodagh. Located directly on Dupont Circle, it’s the perfect jumping off point for exploring the city. The property is offering guests who drive to DC an upgrade, $100 food and beverage credit, complimentary parking and a late check-out.
Costa Rica is of course full of natural wonders – and where better to spend World Wildlife Day (March 3)? Just below the Arenal Volcano in the tropical rainforest is Nayara Tented Camp, which opened in December 2019. The property has its own sloth sanctuary that is currently home to 18. Each guest gets their own private, sprawling luxury tent with a large deck and naturally-warm, mineral-spring-fed plunge pool with views of the volcano. A must-do is room service breakfast of local coffee (roasted on property), fresh fruit, and eggs with beans, plantains, and rice.
Costa Rica opened its borders to all U.S. citizens on November 1, 2020. Additional requirements include a negative Covid test result within 48 hours of travel to Costa Rica, medical insurance, and a health pass form – full requirements are listed on Visit Costa Rica’s website here. There are flights to San Jose and Liberia airports in Costa Rica from several US cities including New York, Fort Lauderdale/Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston.
Freshly designed spaces and new experiences with an emphasis on privacy are shaking up the scene in Napa Valley. Yountville’s Baldacci Family Vineyards will open a new hospitality center in March, featuring private tasting rooms, a wine bar, and an outdoor patio overlooking wine country. Napa Valley Distillery, the first distillery to open its doors in the city of Napa since prohibition, opened a new speakeasy tasting salon dubbed the ”Hollywood Room” with cocktails crafted from spirits made just a few feet away. The art deco-designed space is punctuated with tiki bar-like decor. Animal lovers will gravitate towards Oasis by Hoopes, where wines are accompanied by an animal sanctuary and regenerative farm. The outdoor space, which opened in October 2020, is dotted with airstreams, lounge areas made with recycled materials, a farm stand (with produce for purchase), as well as rescued chickens, pigs, and goats. Meanwhile, Faust’s new tasting room, housed in a Victorian home originally built in 1878, opened in September 2020 following a four-year renovation. Known for their Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from organically farmed estates, the new space still features the original cellar from pre-prohibition era. And for travelers prioritizing privacy, Charles Krug, the oldest wine estate in Napa, opened five new private WIFI-enabled outdoor tasting cabanas on the winery’s picnic grounds and Trefethen is now offering a nightly after-hours experience permitting only one booking per evening – meaning guests have the whole estate to themselves.
January 21st, 2021
How to Celebrate National Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month – a time to (extra) celebrate the accomplishments of the world’s leading ladies. (Though, let’s be honest, women are historic year-round.) From new tours to dedicated suites, here are inspiring destinations to visit that pay homage to female powerhouses, plus a shoutout to our favorite fearless females.
Nantucket’s Historic Heroines
Throughout the 1800s, Nantucket was home to more history-making women than anywhere else in the country. At the time, American women could not vote, own property or access higher education. Whaling, the island’s isolated location and Quakerism all played a role in championing women’s rights. As a nod to the island’s history-making females, each of the four new suites at the Jared Coffin House, a former whaling merchant’s home, is named after an influential woman from Nantucket. Anna Gardner was instrumental in calling an anti-slavery meeting in 1841 during which Frederick Douglass gave his first speech as an abolitionist speaker. Lucretia Coffin Mott participated in the country’s first meeting about women’s rights in 1848. Maria Mitchell is the first professional female astronomer who opened her own school in 1835 that was desegregated, a controversial move at the time. Mary Coffin Starbuck is recognized for bringing Quakerism to Nantucket in the early 1700s and she ran a trading post that served as the island’s commercial center. The Jared Coffin House will re-open for the season in April 2021. Rates start at $155 per night.
A Guide to Female-Owned Wineries in Napa Valley
Visit Napa Valley announces a new partnership with West Wine Tours to offer a “Women in Wine Country” tasting tour. The privately guided experience will bring groups of up to six guests through the vines of Napa Valley in an Instagram-worthy vintage Volkswagen bus. The journey will include three wineries with women winemakers at the helm. Stops include St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery by Elaine St. Clair, who is the only woman in the U.S. to hold the commercial title of both winemaker and brewer; and Fantesca Estate & Winery by Heidi Barrett, who is known as “The First Lady of Wine” and is behind California’s most notable cult wines, such as Screaming Eagle, which has a starting price of $700 a bottle. The final stop is Crocker & Starr, owned by founding winemaker, Pam Starr. With a career spanning four decades, she is celebrated for her Sauvignon Blanc and sustainable farming practices. Each stop will include a tasting experience and guests may even get a behind-the-scenes sneak peek with the winemakers themselves. Private transportation for up to six guests, including a driver and lunch costs $650 per bus. Tasting experiences are an additional $240 per person. For more information, visit: https://www.westwinetours.com/.
Who Tours the World? Girls!
Tessa Hempson… is the marine scientist and program manager behind andBeyond’s Ocean Without Borders project in East Africa. Tessa has spent her career exploring and studying oceans around the world, having worked as a helicopter underwater evacuation instructor for the Australian Defense Force; a conservation manager for the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST); and a researcher on the Aldabra Atoll World Heritage Site in the Seychelles. Guests of andBeyond’s three island lodges in Mozambique and Zanzibar can join Tessa in conservation experiences like fish tagging, measuring and monitoring reef systems in the Indian Ocean.
Florence Kuyper …is an expedition leader and naturalist guide on PONANT’s small ship voyages. A self-proclaimed “polar fanatic,” she spends much of the year in 24-hour daylight, splitting her time between navigating the icy waters in the Arctic and Antarctica. But she’s not averse to a bit of heat. She also once crossed the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, walking almost 800 miles alongside a camel caravan. In addition to leading almost 100 expeditions to the Poles, Kuyper also spent five months as a base leader in Port Lockroy, a British station on the Antarctic peninsula. Guests can join her on expeditions that explore Peter I Island - where fewer people have visited than the moon, and Charcot Island - located in the Bellingshausen Sea, which is covered in ice for most of the year making it difficult to reach and virtually unexplored.
January 21st, 2021
Latest & greatest from conservation-focused, experiential travel company andBeyond. The brand operates 29 lodges across Africa and South America and outfits custom itineraries across those continents and Asia.
To protect wildlife…
World Wildlife Day is on March 3, 2021. andBeyond’s core brand pillar ‘care of the wildlife’ supports and protects species in the reserves where it operates every single day. Some standout efforts include…
In collaboration with Africa Foundation, andBeyond offers a Conservation Lesson program for both children and adults living in communities close to wildlife areas. Through the initiative, over 1,600 students in East Africa were able to visit andBeyond’s properties, learning firsthand about the wildlife conservation that takes place so close to their home – partaking in game drives with rangers, swimming with dolphins and witnessing turtles hatch. For many, this is the first time in their life they have been exposed to fauna in a meaningful way, instilling the passion and knowledge of wildlife conservation and community development in them – often inspiring future careers.
Pangolins are native African anteaters that are covered in keratin scales, which are highly valuable to poachers making them the most trafficked mammal in the world. The species used to roam freely in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, but have been locally extinct for decades. Private groups at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these elusive creatures with andBeyond’s Pangolin Conservation Experience and assist in replacing tags and monitoring behavior.
To support the community…
World Water Day is on March 22, 2021. andBeyond has worked with its community partner Africa Foundation to lessen the burden of carrying water from boreholes by providing Hippo Water Rollers to the most vulnerable in the community near andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve without access to clean running water. Many women and children walk great distances every day to collect water; a task that is not only physically demanding but takes time away from attending school. With andBeyond’s initiative, over 1,200 Hippo Water Rollers have been distributed in the communities of Welverdiend and Thlabekisa. These rollers can carry up to 90 liters of water in a barrel that can be rolled on the ground, enabling people to bring more freshwater home each time and not have to carry a heavy load.
To inspire wanderlust…
andBeyond has launched an online Dream Board to encourage those with a case of wanderlust to start envisaging and planning their upcoming adventures. The Dream Board lives on andBeyond’s website and features a curated array of experiences, itineraries and accommodation from the three continents where the company operates, showcasing not only andBeyond’s own lodges and camps but the wide range of choice that its tour operating arm offers (from mobile camping on the plains of the Serengeti to the Snow Leopard Lodge tucked in the snowy peaks of the Himalayas).
To celebrate women…
Looking towards Women’s History Month in March 2021, here are some of the leading ladies behind the andBeyond brand.
Aziza Mbwana… was andBeyond’s first female guide in East Africa when she began in 2004, and was also the second female guide in Tanzania at the time.
Charli de Vos… is an Ecological Monitor at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve leading the new pangolin reintroduction project.
Tessa Hempson… is the marine scientist and program manager behind andBeyond’s Ocean Without Borders project in East Africa.
Charity Cheruiyot… was the first female safari ranger in Kenya’s Masai Mara.
Nicole Robinson… has been with andBeyond for 20 years and now runs the show as Chief Marketing Officer.
To stay warm this winter…
Gearing up for a long winter of outdoor dining? Those braving the cold for a bite to eat out of the house can learn a thing or two from a true cold weather expert. Surya Ramachandran is andBeyond’s Snow Leopard Journey guide in the Himalayas. Based in the icy cold Himalayan region of Ladakh, he spends his days embracing the elements on the search for snow leopard and other fauna. This area is high in the mountains and has extreme winters. Surya is well-versed in how to prepare for spending hours on end out in the wilderness in frigid temperatures. Some of his tips include…
- “When I’m at the Snow Leopard Lodge in Ladakh, where it gets mighty cold, I add a thicker full sleeve fleece or down jacket, but never anything too baggy. Overall, one can stay warm and still look sharp if she or he layers right. Never wear anything too loose, no matter how warm they make you feel!”
- “My standard drink is an Indian Jungle Toddy – consisting of rum, hot water, honey, ginger juice and a squeeze of lime – served in a beer mug. Nothing warms me up quite like this one. A warming cocktail needs to either be hot or spicy.”
andBeyond designs personalized high-end tours in 13 countries in Africa, five in Asia and four in South America, offering discerning travelers a rare and exclusive experience of the world as it should be. We own and operate 29 extraordinary lodges and camps in iconic safari, scenic and island destinations in Africa and South America. This enables us to positively impact more than nine million acres of wildlife land and over 1,200 miles of coastline. Established in 1991, andBeyond strives to leave our world a better place than we found it through our care of the land, wildlife and people, and the delivery of extraordinary guest experiences.
January 20th, 2021
A welcome respite from the winter weather, Mexico also offers an abundance of beaches, cultural offerings and culinary adventures. Whether for a weekend or an extended stay, we’ve rounded up three destinations for travelers looking for a private Mexico getaway.
For an outdoor adventure: Todos Santos
Pablo Carmona and Josh Kremer, Mexican entrepreneurs and financiers, are making their mark with Mexico’s first luxury soft adventure brand, Paradero Hotels, on February 1, 2021. One-hour away from San José del Cabo Airport, Paradero Todos Santos has a barefoot, bohemian vibe and is a haven for surfers and outdoor enthusiasts. Overseen by Mexico City-based POLEN, who was behind the landscape design of Google and Twitter offices in Mexico, Paradero Todos Santos is an 80 percent landscape, 20 percent construction project. 35 suites are situated within the Le Mesa farming community and an agricultural area comprising more than a dozen family-owned farms. Details with a sense of place include: on-site 100,000-sq.ft. botanical garden with 60 endemic species; artisan-made furniture from Mexico; suspended ‘star nets’ that offer high-altitude views of the surrounding farmlands, mountains and ocean; below-ground spa that is inspired by a secret watering hole in Todos Santos; and an open-fire kitchen with a traditional Oaxacan clay oven.
For a beach escape: Riviera Maya
With buildings handcrafted by Mayan masons, traditional Temazcal treatments on the menu, and one of the world’s longest barrier reefs just 10-minutes away, Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa is a true Mexican escape. Days are spent on white sand beaches while nights are best enjoyed over a private dinner in the observation tower. Highlights include the Kinan Spa which offers a variety of wellness programming pulling from its Mayan surroundings as well as honey-based spa treatments thanks to the on-site apiary, and the new ‘Noches de Cantina’ dining experience centered on the ritual of savoring tequila, inspired by Mexico City’s popularization of cantinas in the 1950s. With Belmond’s new ‘Exclusive Places’ offer, families and small groups can enjoy secluded accommodations among the 200 acres of lush jungle. Casa Leo and Casa Aries, each consisting of four suites, feature four plunge pools, private access to the beach and two private palapa spa areas for in-room treatments.
For a cultural celebration: San Miguel de Allende
2021 marks the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s autonomy from Spain with San Miguel de Allende the first town to receive independence. Housed across six historic casonas, or residences, Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada is a 37-room retreat in the heart of San Miguel de Allende. Each casona has been carefully restored with local, handcrafted items, ranging from the wooden headboards, exclusive artworks, or antique tapestries. The buildings include a former convent, a 17-century fort and the former residence of the Archbishop of San Miguel de Allende, connected by courtyards, cloisters and the city streets. Now, families and small groups can enjoy an entire 17th-century casona to themselves – complete with butler and dining service. Spend the day at the Sazón cooking school with private tours of local markets and mastering Mexican specialties including salmon crudo and. Celebrate the city’s rich artistic past at the Artist Corner perusing the mini-gallery or partaking in a workshop to craft your own masterpiece.
How to Get There: Land travel is not permitted through February 21, 2021, but air travel is open. Direct flights to Mexico City, Cabo and Cancun are available from major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Miami. Belmond has rolled out a selection of value-add offers for private jet travelers. They are collaborating with myriad companies and the list includes but is not limited to Jet Linx, Nicholas Air, Silver Air, TradeWind, Private Jet Service, FlyExclusive, and PRVT. Upon arrival, travelers will need to complete health declaration forms and undergo health screenings, including temperature checks.
January 18th, 2021
As the travel industry looks ahead, brands are preparing for how to promote a responsible recovery to Covid-19. Luxury travel advisor network Virtuoso, with over 20,000 advisors and 2,000 travel brands in more than 50 countries, is focusing on a ‘conscious comeback’ as hotels reopen in new and innovative ways. CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and six other global nonprofit organizations have banded together to form the Future of Tourism Coalition with the belief that travelers will demand a more sustainable tourism marketplace. As people look for ways to reduce their footprint, work more responsibly with travel companies, travel to more sustainable communities and better understand the communities they interact with, we have rounded up leading destinations who are laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future – and how travelers can get involved.
If you want to invest in local communities…
Napa Valley, CA
Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a nonprofit trade association leading the wine region since 1944, has partnered with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more, investing $1 million into the program. Each year over the next five years, NVV will invest $200,000 in scholarships and will encourage its members to bolster the scholarship program with donations to help even more students and to ensure the effort extends beyond five years.
UXUA recruits and trains locals with little to no prior experience in hospitality. Owner Wilbert Das has invested in providing language training and university tuition reimbursement as well as one-on-one mentorship for those who need help in certain subjects that might have prevented them from completing secondary education. Despite classes being one-hour bus ride each way, three staff members completed their degrees in 2019, with 10 currently enrolled. Under the name of U-2020 initiative, the goal is to have 20 staff (out of 85) to complete or enroll in a university program by end-of-year 2020. UXUA also offers life coaching, including financial planning. As a result, 35 employees have bought land in the past six years.
Belmond helped found the Q’omer Wasicha Project in 2015 to promote organic vegetable management and cultivation in local communities as well as fair trade practices. Several communities in the Cusco region are now trained in the production of vegetables and herbs; the sustainable greenhouses allow the harvest of organic crops that would not usually survive the high altitudes of the Andes, including tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
In collaboration with Africa Foundation, andBeyond offers a Conservation Lesson program for both children and adults living in communities close to wildlife areas. Through the initiative, over 1,600 students in East Africa were able to visit andBeyond’s properties, learning firsthand about the wildlife conservation that takes place so close to their home – partaking in game drives with rangers, swimming with dolphins and witnessing turtles hatch. For many, this is the first time in their life they have been exposed to fauna in a meaningful way. These conservation lessons and interactions with andBeyond guides have been a turning point in many participants’ lives; instilling the passion and knowledge of wildlife conservation and community development in them and playing a major part in influencing their careers.
Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has worked with the nearby community village of Xaxaba Island to ensure potable drinking water for the community. Previously unavailable, Belmond donated a Jojo water tank, a leading solution in South Africa to provide safe water, as well as a bowser water tank to ensure a clean water source. Water is then regularly transported from the lodge to the village. Belmond has also assisted with providing medical assistance to the community through mobile clinics. Guests also have the opportunity to visit the neighboring Nxhoga village to learn more about the Khotla from the elders, the meeting and administration system, the cultural relevance of basket weaving and the importance of the fishing industry, witnessing how fishing nets are made.
Dr Hla Tun has been the onboard doctor for Belmond Road to Mandalay, which has been traveling along the Ayeyarwady River since 2004. In addition to his service for guests, Dr. Tun disembarks the river cruise three days per week to lead Belmond’s free health clinic that launched in 2011 as a free service to locals as well as patients who travel for miles on foot to receive medical attention.
If combatting climate change is your passion…
Just 200 years after the first man stepped foot on Antarctica, PONANT is launching the first electric luxury polar ship in 2021. It will be able to cut through ice floe up to seven feet thick – meaning it can reach rarely visited places like Peter I Island, where fewer people have visited than have set foot on the moon. It will operate with a mix of liquified natural gas (the cleanest fuel on the market) and electric battery (zero emission and can operate for up to eight hours at a time). Le Commandant-Charcot will be fitted with the latest technology for minimizing environmental impact, as well as a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research. Under the supervision of naturalist guides and onboard scientists, guests will be able to participate in the research and experiments during sailings, including helping set up a research station on an ice floe; deploying an Argos transmitter, a satellite-based system which collects and shares environmental data; and taking water samples.
In the 1970s and 80s, Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America, but it has since reversed that trend and embraced reforestation. This was largely because of the government’s commitment to the cause, making it illegal in 1996 to chop down trees without approval from authorities. They also launched PES, a program that pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity, or capture carbon dioxide. This has positively impacted tourism. According to the tourism board, over 60% of visitors site nature as a reason for coming. The national parks and protected areas cover over a quarter of the country’s land. Nayara Resorts is committed to the cause. Their newest property, Nayara Tented Camp, sits on a hillside that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. Nayara hired a reforestation expert to rebuild the rainforest – which began with the planting of 40,000 indigenous trees.
Chris Blackwell’s Oracabessa Foundation is restoring the coral reef as a means to bring back marine life. In recent years, through the Foundation’s efforts, the Bay saw an increase of fish presence by 1,800 percent. Because of its success, the template is being replicated in other fish sanctuaries across Jamaica. New this year, Blackwell’s hotel GoldenEye in partnership with the Oracabessa Foundation opened a new dive shop that is open to locals as well as guests, offering coral planting opportunities, with profits going back into the foundation.
Coral bleaching from factors like climate change and El Niño has led to the death of 60-90% of the Maldivian reefs. As the only luxury property that is located both on the beach and on a coral reef, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers guests the chance to adopt a coral frame ($175 USD per frame) during their stay. The coral frames are built using broken coral fragments found on local reefs, which are then rehabilitated in the property’s coral nursery and left to grow and regain their health.
If you want to save endangered animals…
Iguassu Falls, Brazil
When Belmond took over the Hotel das Cataratas in 2007, it not only invested in the hotel itself, but in the surrounding Iguassu National Park. The company committed 4 million Brazilian Reals to help update the park’s electricity supply, redesign the old park entrance and build a bicycle path from the gate to the hotel. It also donated 1.4 million Brazilian Reals towards the Projeto Onças do Iguaçu (Jaguars of Iguassu Project) to help preserve the last of the area’s jaguars. Ten years ago the population of these big cats was in sharp decline. The Jaguars of Iguassu Project installed night vision cameras around the park and used tracking devices fitted onto captured and released animals to study their behaviors and devise programs to improve their survival and breeding rates. Since the Jaguars of Iguassu Project began the number of jaguars has increased from around 9 to at least 28 (census of 2019). After exploring the national park, guests can stop by the hotel’s boutique and purchase a stuffed jaguar where a portion of the proceeds continue to support the project.
Pangolins are mini (and adorable) dinosaur-like mammals. While not commonly known in the U.S., these native African anteaters are covered in keratin scales, which are highly valuable to poachers, making them the most trafficked mammal in the world. The species used to roam freely in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, but have been locally extinct for decades. Private groups at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these elusive creatures with andBeyond’s Pangolin Conservation Experience and assist in replacing tags and monitoring behavior.
If you want to lead by example…
Gregory Miller is a leader in responsible tourism, an expert in public-private partnerships and a trained environmental scientist who believes in working globally, acting locally, and protecting our precious natural and cultural resources. Greg joined CREST as Executive Director in 2019, bringing to the organization a global track record of high-impact results in sustainable travel and recreation, biodiversity conservation, and policy development. He is also a founder of the newly formed Future of Tourism Coalition, as well as the Outdoor Alliance, National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and Parks in Peril program.
Joss Kent joined andBeyond in January 2012 and brought with him a passion for working with local communities and preserving land and wildlife. He came to andBeyond after several years as CEO of Abercrombie & Kent. Starting his career as a game ranger, Joss has gone on to champion leading sustainability and community initiatives including Ocean Without Border and Rhinos Without Border and continuing a partnership with the Africa Foundation to work with local communities to fill their needs, from building schools to creating water filtration systems.
Cindy Pawlcyn is the chef behind Mustards Grill, a Napa Valley landmark for more than 30 years. She opened the restaurant when the region was still largely pasture, with few restaurants and even fewer chefs (none whom were women!). Then, at 28 years old, Pawlcyn was also among the first to plant an organic garden outside her restaurant. Today, Mustards is still a Napa favorite, and has served more than one million pork chops – her signature dish.
Charity Cheruiyot was the first female safari ranger in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Having grown up in a small village as a member of the Kalenjin tribe, Charity paved her own way to a future in the bush. She now is a favorite ranger among guests of andBeyond Bateleur Camp, teaching the brand’s values of care of the land, wildlife, and people.
Wilbert Das, the former creative director at Diesel, founded UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa in Trancoso, Brazil. Today, Wilbert’s life in Trancoso extends far beyond the (unmarked) entrance of UXUA. As the town’s “unofficial mayor,” he is steadfast in his support of the community and proves that eco-conscious efforts and a propensity for high design are not mutually exclusive.
January 14th, 2021
For summer of 2021 and beyond, travel is poised for a comeback and we foresee family vacations topping the list. Here are ideas to quench any family’s wanderlust, from avid astronomers to city slickers…
For the astronomer family
- Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico, is a prime spot for stargazing due to its minimal light pollution and dry clean air. Each of the rooftop suites at the new Paradero Todos Santos comes with its own telescope to take in the evening’s bounty of stars, galaxies and planets that sparkle across the desert sky.
- On the open-air observation deck at Nayara Alto Atacama, guests check out the most important constellations for the people of the Atacama: the Yacana Llama that runs along the Great River (Milky Way) and the Chacana Cross (Inca Cross) which points to the south. The Atacama Desert’s famously arid atmosphere makes it ideal for stargazing.
- andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia’s Namib Desert abuts a dark sky reserve and has an astronomer on staff to guide guests’ stargazing experiences. Plus, the above-bed sky lights are perfect for spotting shooting stars while drifting off to sleep.
For the birding family
- While most head to Jamaica for its white sandy beaches, birders should note it’s an avian playground with over 300 species. Specifically, the Blue Mountains, set 3,100 feet above sea level, are laced with a network of trails for birdwatching among the Jurassic Park-like landscape. Strawberry Hill’s onsite bird expert, Lyndalee Burks, arranges adventures with knowledgeable local guides – think sunrise and sunset treks to see the rare Crested Quail-Dove or Jamaican blackbird.
- With a plethora of birds to check off a list (over 500 species in the area), Nayara Tented Camp’s private naturalist guides can lead family’s on daily birding walks to spot toucans, red-lored parrots, green herons, and ruby throated hummingbirds. Tents can comfortably fit two adults and up to two children, plus there are adjoining tents for bigger groups and older kids.
- All guests at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve all receive a Star Birds guide to spot the over 400 bird species inhabiting Phinda’s diverse habitats, but passionate birders can book a Birding Safari. One of andBeyond’s guides leads guests on a special game drive to see Rudd’s Apalis, Neergard’s Sunbirds, and Narina Trogons. Phinda Homestead – a stand-alone lodge with four bedrooms – is the perfect private spot for a family.
For the beach bum family
- Families looking for some blue skies and warm sand can make Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla their home-away-from-home. For the utmost privacy, families can book a three-, four-, or five-bedroom private pool villa to experience optimal seclusion. Highlights include a full kitchen with a dining atrium for private meals, direct beach access, and a personal freshwater swimming pool. Those who just aren’t ready to leave can stay a month or longer and the property will cover weekly spa treatments, unlimited laundry, daily resort credit, and a dedicated host.
- Jamaica’s GoldenEye, once home to Ian Fleming and the site where he penned all 14 James Bond novels, offers a collection of stand-alone hut, cottage and villa accommodations. Kids can partake in coconut carving and nature walks led by Ramsey DaCosta, Fleming’s former gardener, while adults enjoy cocktails at Firefly, Noel Coward’s hilltop estate and rumored to have been Captain Morgan’s lookout. Mark the occasion by planting a tree on property with a donation to the hotel’s Oracabessa Foundation, which supports the community through a variety of health- and environmentally- focused initiatives.
- Off the coast of Zanzibar, andBeyond Mnemba Island is a private island paradise worthy of screen saver. Families can lounge on the beach in their private beach cabanas, go snorkeling or scuba diving with the local dolphins, take a sunset dhow sailboat ride, or take a day trip to Stone Town and learn about the spice trading history of Zanzibar. The thatched-roof bandas have no doors or windows, just woven shades, creating a true Robinson Crusoe feel.
- UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa sits on the grassy quadrado (town square) of Trancoso, Brazil. This small town has long attracted artisans and those in the know – Anderson Cooper has a house at UXUA and Solange Knowles honeymooned at the property. Their cool beach bar and quartz-lined pool are supreme lounge spots, and more active family members can try their hands at capoeira – the Brazilian martial art – or meet with Dr. Julian at the UXUA Vida Spa to learn about herbal remedies.
For the history buff family
- Dromoland Castle was built in the 16th century and has a rich history – from starting as the royal seat of the last kings of Ireland to a Temple of Mercury dedicated to a beloved racehorse who saved the family from financial ruin. Families can try the ancient sport of falconry, golf on the 18-hole golf course, try cocktail making or go foraging with a local guide.
- The magic of Greek mythology still envelopes the Cycladic isles. Mykonos was the home of Aeolus, keeper of the wind. Families can stay in one of the two villas at the soon-to-open Kalesma and catch the sunset over Delos, the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo.
- Washington, D.C. is awash with American history. The Dupont Circle hotel is surrounded by embassies (former gilded age mansions of the city’s elite) and a 20-minute stroll to the national mall and its monuments. The Penthouse Suite can be booked as a two bedroom and with its sprawling terrace, living room, and dining area it creates a luxurious home-away-from-home.
For outdoorsy families
- The Chatwal Lodge, scheduled to open on May 1, is nestled within a 30-acre environmentally protected land in the Catskill region. Guests will enjoy panoramic views of the 1,000-acre Toronto Reservoir Lake, ideal for year-round fly fishing; have access to hiking trails dotted with chestnut trees and water streams; and admire myriad native animals, such as white-tailed deer and nesting bald eagles. Adventurers at heart can opt for a treehouse, raised 25 feet above the ground, or a luxury glam tent.
- PONANT, the leader in expedition cruising, takes guests to remote destinations not accessible to larger ships thanks to its moderate size, design and advanced technology. Lead by naturalist guides and experts, expeditions can opt to take time to watch a caving glacier, make a detour to discover a southern white whale, or go ashore to admire a colony of penguins. New this year, PONANT will launch Le Commandant Charcot, a luxury hybrid polar exploration vessel, that will allow adventurous families to reach the true Geographic North Pole and parts of Antarctica that fewer people have stepped foot on the moon.
- With over 300 days of sunshine, Zermatt is definitely a pick for the outdoorsmen. While you can ski 365 days a year in the alpine town, there is plenty to do beyond hitting the slopes, including hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and fly fishing. The iconic Schweizerhof hotel is located on the main thoroughfare of Bahnhofstrasse at the base of the Matterhorn and recently underwent an extensive renovation.
- Believe it or not, California’s wine country is not just all about wine. Families looking for a breath of fresh air can head to Napa Valley and explore the 53,000 acres of preserved land laced with hiking and biking trails through the mountains. Kids can join parents to explore the di Rosa outdoor sculpture park, or visit with miniature horses – Whinnie the Pooh, Sweet Jane, and Molly – at Jamieson Ranch Vineyard while parents enjoy a vino tasting. Families can opt to stay at Calistoga Motor Lodge – a roadside 1940′s motel in its past life – which evokes a retro-camping feel with rooms designed to mimic a 1960s VW camper. As an ode to its roots, the property offers throwback in-room amenities such as Polaroid cameras and Etch-a-Sketches that kids will love.
For city slicker families
- Tokyo is the ultimate destination for city lovers – its towering skyline, famously busting crosswalks, jewel box bars, and mix of modern and ancient culture are hypnotic. Park Hyatt Tokyo sits above the city and offers families a haven above the metropolis, especially with older kids. The concierge can book restaurant reservation at in-the-know-only spots and recommend fun stops like Kawaii Monster Café with its rainbow confections, and the whole family can wind down at the hotel with the twice weekly goodnight sleep stretch.
- London has something for everyone in the family from shopping to museum hopping to tasting global cuisines. Centrally located in Mayfair, The Beaumont is the perfect home base to explore all the Big Smoke has to offer. A destination unto itself, the hotel is home to Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley’s inhabitable sculpture called ROOM. Families can even book the entire fifth floor for up to 10 people, with perks including a stocked pantry kitchen, large dining terrace and private elevator access.
- While Paris is known for romance, it’s surprisingly family-friendly, offering myriad parks and museums, not to mention the food – who doesn’t love croissants and baguettes? Overlooking the Trocadero and with unbeatable views of the Eiffel Tower are the 10 La Réserve Paris Apartments. The largest apartment can accommodate up to 10 people, but families could reserve multiple flats for larger groups. The neighborhood is also home to the Bois du Boulogne, the 2,000+ acre forest full of hiking trails and ponds, the Jardin d’Acclimation amusement park and the Fondation Louis Vuitton.