NEWS from Scotland: Stories and Offers from the Fife Arms

April 29th, 2021

We are very excited to now be working with The Fife Arms. There are many stories to tell about this former hunting lodge in Braemar, Scotland. Here are a few ideas as we continue to peel back the layers of the onion.

Purity, innocence and power are at the core of Scotland, and these very words also decode the Celtic meaning behind the unicorn being the national animal. It is one of the most progressive nations in the world: Europe’s first modern literate society; the first country to include LGBT issues in school curricula; the national team of the first black footballer 140 years ago. We also owe a big thank you to Scottish innovators for the telephone, television, raincoat, anesthesia, and pedal bicycle. And the nearly $2 trillion global retail market would be at a loss if it was not for tartan, with a colorful history dating back to third century AD.

The Fife Arms is much more than the hardware; it is an all-encompassing experience that seeps through each thoughtfully-curated detail indoors: Sustainable house tartan designed by Scottish designer Araminta Campbell; “Sharp the Dog” room dedicated to Queen Victoria’s beloved pet; The Flying Stag public pub with a James Prosek-created flying stag; an original Picasso reigning over the drawing room; Glencraft mattresses fit for the royal family.

This Spring, the hotel will lift the veil on a new bar, Bertie’s, inspired by Queen Victoria’s extravagant and hedonistic heir. The bar will offer 365 whiskies from Scotland and around the world and will launch two of its own exclusive whiskies this summer. On-the-ground experiences will include flights, tastings, and tours of local distilleries and there will also be virtual tastings for fans from far away.

Until we can travel to Scotland, we can bring a piece of the destination home. Thanks to the Fife Arms’ online shop, guests and fans can find a custom tartan or tweed design gift box, afternoon tea set, and the Fife Arms coffee table book from Phaidon. The latest addition is perhaps the most exciting. The new collection for dogs includes a coat, bone, collar and leash, all made with the hotel’s house tweed. What better gift for dog lovers or man’s best friend?!

2021 is the year for investing in physical and mental wellness, and the great outdoors are just what travelers want – and need. The Cairngorms National Park, named one of the top 20 places to visit in the world by National Geographic Traveller, and the diversity of nearby options make the Fife Arms the perfect recipe: Fly fishing on The Dee River; touring the historic house that Robert Louis Stevenson occupied while writing Treasure Island; Ghillie-guided hill walking to one of 40 Munros accessible from Braemar; to name a few.

Art is not just a part of the Fife Arms; it is the heart. The reputation of Hauser & Wirth takes the “art hotel” concept to another level. Not only are there 16,000 pieces from around the world, different centuries and genres on display qualify the property as an exhibition in itself. Where else can you see a Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture in the same space as a watercolor by Queen Victoria and a chandelier made from stainless steel utensils?!

The property also upholds the values that its parent company, Artfarm, espouses. Staying at the Fife Arms means being in the company of like-minded, curious and talented individuals. Located in the heart of the village, guests are part of the community. There is a mutual regard for the preservation of Scottish heritage, craft and design. All of these principles are demonstrated through ownership’s collaboration with historians, artists and locals who make up the Ghillie team.

There is a lot more to share and additional news in the pipeline. The property is looking to reopen in May (and we will need to stay nimble, of course) but we will continue to tell the many wonderful stories of this gem of a property.

Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino Opens May 1, 2021

April 29th, 2021

Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino Opens May 1, 2021

Marking a new era of timeless glamour on the Italian Riviera

April 29, 2021 – Set against the cinematic backdrop of the Italian Riviera, the 14-room Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, reopens on May 1, 2021 following a complete renovation overseen by Festen Architecture. Embraced within a charming guesthouse in the heart of the harbor, the opening of ‘The Mare’ will revive the timeless allure of Portofino with a refreshed design, a new restaurant and curated experiences. Every detail has been carefully crafted to reflect the heritage of the fishing village, the natural beauty of the Ligurian Coast and the glamour of La Dolce Vitae. Rooms start at $665 plus taxes per night.

While marking a new era for Splendido Mare, references to the harbor’s nautical history can be found throughout with mid-century modern furnishings, celebrating the iconic 1950s era that defined Portofino’s glamorous past. With all materials locally sourced and handcrafted, each of the 14 rooms are individually designed with colors inspired by traditional Ligurian buildings – a palette of amber, terracotta and sea green – and furnishings are layered with soft Italian fabrics by Loro Piana and Rubelli. The art collection features 100 pieces curated by art consultancy ARTIQ, including specially commissioned items by Italian painter Gabriele Cappelli as well as cinematic photography and abstract pieces by local artists. Passionate about crafting timeless pieces that pay homage to the destination, emerging fashion designer Arthur Arbesser was also tapped to design the uniforms, featuring nautical detailing and botanical references from the Portofino National Park.

Combining Belmond’s hospitality excellence with the Cerea family’s culinary expertise, the new restaurant, DaV Mare, brings a new level of gastronomic excellence to the Ligurian coast, focused on seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. Signature items from Da Vittorio’s restaurants, including the Paccheri alla Vittorio, a classic pasta dish with a tomato sauce that was created by founder Vittorio Cerea, will be available alongside new recipes such as a Risotto with Pesto and Santa Margherita Ligure shrimps. DaV Mare is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as 24-hour room service. Aperitivos are also available to enjoy on the open-air terrace as the sun goes down over the Portofino harbor, and make sure to stop by for a scoop at the property’s gelateria.

One of the new experiences is a trip along the Italian Riviera aboard a gozzo, a traditional Ligurian fishing boat, sailing along the coastline up to San Fruttuoso Bay. Stop for a swim to view the submerged bronze statue of Christ the Abyss, or dive into the crystal-clear waters of Punta Chiappa, a remote promontory that inspired Lord Byron’s poetry in the early 1800s. Guests can opt for a picnic lunch prepared by DaV Mare or to stop for fresh seafood caught by local fishermen. The season will also kick off with the Regate di Primavera – Splendido Mare Cup May 6-9. Returning to Portofino for the first time in 29 years, a fleet of 60-foot racing yachts will compete for the title.

Guests can also set off on foot along the 7.5-mile ‘Path of the Kiss’ that stretches from San Rocco, passes through Camogli and out to San Fruttuoso. Featuring steep paths with uninterrupted views over the region, it is named after a fabled Italian romance where two young lovers who were separated by their families took their last embrace. Half-day excursions to the countless hiking trails of Monte di Portofino are also available, led by a botanist guide who can share insider tips on the mountain’s flora and fauna.

“Our teams have been working tirelessly to create a new standard in Italian relaxed sophistication – and now, the true Belmond magic begins. Together with our guests, we can look ahead to the return of La Dolce Vita by the sea with friends and family enjoying days out on the water, slow afternoons on the beach and joyful evenings on the terrace at the new restaurant, DaV Mare,” comments Roeland Vos, CEO & President, Belmond.

In addition to Splendido Mare, Belmond’s entire Italian collection will reopen for the season throughout May.

  • Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino: May 1
  • Splendido, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino: May 1
  • Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice:  May 13
  • Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Sicily: May 13
  • Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel, Florence: May 13
  • Castello di Casole, A Belmond Hotel, Tuscany: May 27
  • Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Sicily: May 27
  • Caruso, A Belmond Hotel, Ravello: May 27

To book or for more information, visit



Belmond has been a pioneer of luxury travel for over 45 years, building a passion for authentic escapes into a portfolio of one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the world’s most inspiring destinations.

Since the acquisition of the iconic Hotel Cipriani in Venice in 1976, Belmond has continued to perpetuate the legendary art of travel, taking discerning global travellers on breathtaking journeys. Its portfolio extends across 24 countries with 46 remarkable properties that include the illustrious Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train, remote beach retreats like Cap Juluca in Anguilla, Italian hideaways such as Splendido in Portofino, or unrivalled gateways to world natural wonders such as Hotel das Cataratas inside Brazil’s Iguazu National Park. From trains to river barges, safari lodges to hotels, each unique property offers an incomparable experience with its own story to tell. The essence of the Belmond brand is built upon its heritage, craftsmanship and genuine, authentic service. Belmond sees its role as custodians of timeless heritage, dedicated to preserving its assets through sensitive ongoing restoration plans. Belmond is part of the world’s leading luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

PONANT Expands Health Protocol with Vaccination Requirement

April 28th, 2021

PONANT Announces Updated Health Protocol

Vaccinations will be required for all passengers and crew

April 28, 2021 – PONANT, the leader in luxury small ship expeditions, announces a vaccination requirement for all guests and crew members. The new policy will complement its already comprehensive hygiene and sanitary measures in place as PONANT prepares for the resumption of sailing. PONANT’s latest protocol will require all passengers and crew members over 16 years old to be vaccinated before the cruise. Guests and crew will also need to show proof of a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of boarding the ship.

PONANT’s newest measures will expand on the company’s double protection principle onboard all ships. This includes screening and decontamination measures when boarding, ensuring those who board do not carry the virus, followed by on-board sanitary protocols throughout the cruise. PONANT has combined small-capacity ships, eco-design, health protocols and partnerships with local organizations, ensuring the company is well-equipped to roll out protocols quickly and efficiently. The company has also invested in state-of-the-art medical facilities on board each of its ships, including ultrasound and radiography equipment, onsite testing, and more. A medical team comprising at least one doctor and nurse are also available 24/7. The company’s complete ‘PONANT Health Protocol’ can be found here.

PONANT has also revised its booking policy to allow for greater flexibility and assurance. New bookings made before June 30, 2021 for a cruise scheduled before March 31, 2023 will only require a deposit of 25 percent. The remaining balance is due 30 days before departure, and passengers can cancel the trip up until 30 days before with the full amount being credited toward another reservation within two years of the initial departure date. In the event of a positive COVID test within 30 days of the sailing, passengers will receive a full refund at the time of cancellation. For more information, please find PONANT’s Ultra Serenity booking policy linked here.


Created in 1988, by officers of the French Merchant Navy, PONANT has created a new style of cruising, under the French flag, through a unique conception of sea travel and a commitment to promoting sustainable and responsible tourism. Accessing exceptional territories aboard yachts featuring refined design, on which the art of living and excellent cuisine takes pride of place: such is the promise of a unique and authentic PONANT voyage.

In collaboration with the IHU (Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire) Méditerranée Infection of Marseilles, one of the world’s leading centres in the field of infectious diseases, PONANT has developed a comprehensive protocol based on health standards that exceed international regulations.

For more information, visit

Europe Reopening

April 27th, 2021

Over the weekend, the president of the European Commission announced that fully vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to the 27 EU member states this summer, spurring excitement among U.S. travelers eager to visit the Continent. This enthusiasm comes as no surprise as the following countries are among the top 10 places luxury travel agency network Virtuoso is seeing summer hotel bookings: Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Ireland. While a timeline isn’t yet clear, travelers can continue to dream and even begin to plan. Here are even more reasons to visit your favorite European destinations.


The small, crescent-shaped town of Portofino stretches along San Fruttuoso Bay, offering picture-perfect Instagram shots with brightly colored houses dotting the shoreline of the clear blue waters. Belmond will unveil the 14-room Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino on May 1 following a major restoration led by Paris-based designers FESTEN Architecture. Located down the hill from the iconic Hotel Splendido, the renovation of Splendido Mare will reinvigorate this hot spot on the Italian Riviera. Inspired by its history in a fishing village, the design will reflect the cultivated casual atmosphere with natural woods, ropes and brass accents along with traditional Ligurian colors of sea green, terracotta and amber. The hotel will also debut a new dining destination, DaV Mare, in collaboration with the famed Cerea family’s Da Vittorio Group (known for their three Michelin-starred Da Vittorio restaurant in Bergamo). Explore the Italian Riviera by sea on a traditional Lingurian boat or spend the afternoon under the sun with complimentary, reserved sunbeds at Bagni Fiore in Paraggi, largely considered the most exclusive beach in northern Italy. Make sure to stop by for a scoop at the gelateria and indulge in a tailored tasting session. Rates starting at $670 plus taxes per night.

Ideally situated on Guidecca Island, the iconic Hotel Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice is a private hideaway with exclusive before- and after-hours access to favorite sites and private excursions to under-the-radar towns. A welcome respite, arrive via the hotel’s private dock before weaving through the property’s gardens and stepping onto the floating terrace at Cip’s Club – a favorite among guests and locals alike for an apertivo and traditional Venetian fare. Make sure to have a Bellini (or two), Venice’s signature cocktail comprised of peach juice and prosecco, that was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Belmond Hotel Cipriani, in 1948. For a fine-dining affair, the canal-side Michelin-starred Oro Restaurant offers just 41 seats serving an inventive Italian cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients from the hotel’s own farm and nearby islands. Relax by the nearly Olympic-sized swimming pool – the only one of its size in Venice. Build out a fulsome itinerary with private experiences including exploring the lagoon aboard Belmond’s Edipo Re, a meticulously restored, 16-meter vintage 1960s sailboat, or breakfast in the tower of Palazzo Contarini de Bovolo as the sun rises over the city. Hotel Cipriani will re-open for the season on May 13. Rates starting at $820 plus taxes per night.

In addition to Portofino and Venice, Belmond has train and hotel options across the EU: in Sicily, Florence, and Tuscany, Italy; Mallorca, Spain; Madeira, Portugal; and the legendary Art Deco sleeper train, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

While we are still waiting on specific Covid-19 entry requirements for Italy, American Airlines and Delta are currently offering quarantine-free flights into Rome and Milan. Nonstop flights into Venice and Milan are available from major U.S. cities, while layovers are also available in France (with a new route to Catania launching in July), Amsterdam, and Zurich.


Rosé, sunshine and joie de vivre. What’s not to love? One thing is for sure – the South of France knows how to do summer right. Just 15 minutes outside St. Tropez, La Réserve Ramatuelle will emerge from a renovation on May 12 helmed by interior design maestro Jacques Garcia. Garcia is overseeing the refresh of the lobby, patio bar and two Michelin-starred La Voile restaurant, taking inspiration from the 1950s and 1960s when Cocteau, Picasso and Picault brought their creativity to the French Riviera. A special touch are the sculpted lights designed by Julien Capron, grandson of the famous Vallauris ceramic artist Roger Capron. Julien also designed the handmade jars and artwork in the library comprised of blue and green ceramic tiles. Originally designed by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose other projects include Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art, the 28-room/14-villa property is a study in relaxed, coastal design. Think interiors that seamlessly blend with the outdoors thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that open to expansive gardens with majestic views over the Côte d’Azur. Guests shouldn’t miss La Réserve à la Plage, the hotel’s beach club which opened in 2019 on the famous Pampelonne Beach. Designed by Philippe Starck, the open-air setting and wood and rattan décor create a bohemian atmosphere that perfectly fits the coastal Mediterranean locale. Guests of La Réserve Ramatuelle have the advantage of a complimentary shuttle from the resort to the beach (a less than 10 minute ride) and have priority when booking the restaurant and beach chairs. Rates starting at $1,090 per night.

Clearly Bogey didn’t foresee what was to come when he said, “We’ll always have Paris.” Those missing the City of Light can stop over for a stay at La Réserve Paris, the Haussmann-style mansion in the city’s 8th arrondissement. Views from the 40 rooms (26 of which are suites) include the sites that never get old, including the Eiffel Tower, spires of Notre Dame and the neighboring Grand Palais. Rates starting at $1,330 per night.

All-business-class boutique airline La Compagnie offers direct flights from Newark to Nice, a one-and-a-half-hour drive to the property. Delta and Air France fly to Nice via Paris from major U.S. cities including New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and LA. Travelers can also take the TGV high speed train from Paris to Les Arcs Draguignan train station, less than one hour from the property.


No wait required! Greece is now welcoming international tourists. Perfect timing for booking a stay at the new Kalesma Mykonos, opening May 20. Kalesma brought together two Greek designers to create its authentically Cycladic look with a sleek, modern take: Studio Bonarchi and K-Studio (known for the new Mykonos airport and Scorpios Beach Club). Design details include Rick Owens furniture in the lobby, custom artwork in the 25 indoor/outdoor suites and two villas featuring pieces by Serbian artist Aleksander Vac and horsehair sconces, a nod to the mythical history of the area (Apollo was said to keep his horses here). The land has been in the owners’ family for over a century and the hotel will offer genuine insider knowledge of off-the-beaten-path sites while introducing a luxury experience that balances fun and privacy. Suite rates starting at $1,450 and villas at $4,230 per night.

There are flights to Athens from several U.S. cities including New York, Chicago, D.C., and Philadelphia and from Canada there are direct flights from both Montreal and Toronto. From Athens you can take a quick 40-minute flight to Mykonos or hop on a 2.5-hour high speed ferry. Travelers will need to show either proof of vaccine, proof of having antibodies or a negative PCR test.


Dromoland Castle’s sprawling 450-acres in County Clare will certainly beckon American tourists. The newest offering – in addition to the popular mainstays like falconry, golf, and horseback riding – is foraging with local expert Oonagh O’Dwyer. Oonagh will take guests down forgotten country lanes and get their hands dirty learning about edible types of roots, herbs, flowers, fruits, and nuts (such as St. John’s Wort, Elderflower and pig nuts) followed by a feast of a wild food picnic in a wildflower meadow. Next is a trip to the beach for a seaweed walk and a hands-on lesson in harvesting seaweed in the traditional way along with rock samphire and pepper dulse (called the truffle of the sea), among a backdrop of seals and sea birds. Back at the Castle, Oonagh leads a cooking class showing how to prepare and preserve wild food and seaweed (along with tips on how to identify and use wild food at home and recipes to bring back). Rates starting at $725 per night.

There are direct flights seasonally to Shannon from New York and Boston (a 10-minute drive from the hotel) and direct flights to Dublin (a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the hotel) year-round from several U.S. cities including New York, D.C., Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Where to Go: May

April 8th, 2021

May’s longer days and creeping sunshine signal the unofficial start to summer. And with the Memorial Day holiday, travelers are eager to pack their bags. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next trip.

Nantucket, MA

Just 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Nantucket is an idyllic island escape with miles of sandy beaches, centuries-old mansions, quaint shops and a classic small-town charm. With more than 50 percent of Nantucket under permanent conservation, much of the protected land is available for exploration. The island comes alive in spring, awash with color as more than three million daffodils bloom. Endless outdoor activities are on offer: biking, sailing, surfcasting, golfing and strolls to nearby lighthouses. Reunite with loved ones in a destination where families have vacationed for decades. Multi-generational families can opt for the one-, two- and three-bedroom residences or in-town lofts at White Elephant, conveniently located just steps from town with access to one of the only pools in town. The Woof Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin also welcome four-legged family members, complete with a welcome basket of treats and a personalized pet tag. Local insider and pet concierge Bailey, the resident Black Lab/Brittany Spaniel mix, is available via email to share the best pet-friendly activities on island. For an intimate escape, The Wauwinet is an adults-only retreat situated between two private beaches, offering the feel of a private home and ambiance of storybook romance. Rates start at $175 per night at the Woof Cottages, $205 at The Wauwinet, and $715 for the White Elephant Residences.

JetBlue, United and American Airlines are launching direct service to the island beginning in May from east coast cities including Boston, New York, Newark, Washington D.C. and Charlotte. Travelers must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form and share proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Hamptons, NY

Memorial Day weekend signals the unofficial start of the Hamptons season. Visitors shouldn’t miss the latest exhibition at the Herzog and de Meruon-designed Parrish Art Museum. Affinities for Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950-2020, will premiere on May 2 (through July 25) and is a freewheeling look at the work of 45 female artists who have called the Hamptons home, including Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, and Lee Krasner. Across the street from the museum is the Hamptons’ first destination spa and wellness retreat, Shou Sugi Ban House. Embracing the wabi-sabi philosophy in both ethos and design, the property’s signature programing ranges from meditation to reiki to hikes on the beach. The just-launched Digital Detox is intended to redirect attention away from devices and back to the present moment, which is perhaps more necessary than ever. A Digital Detox Resource Guide will be on-hand to help guests tune into the innate wisdom of the mind, body and spirit. Oh and did we mention the plant-rich, hyper-seasonal meals are created by Noma co-founder Mads Refslund?

Water Mill is just 90 miles from NYC and can be accessed via car, Long Island Railroad, or the Hampton Jitney bus. Those flying into JFK, LaGuardia, or Islip/MacArthur Airports can take the Hampton Jitney to Southampton. New York just did away with its mandatory quarantine for out-of-state travelers.


Anguilla in May might be one of the island’s best-kept secrets. The weather is idyllic with low humidity and high temperatures. Having reopened to visitors in November, the island has been an appealing option for U.S. travelers with its very low Covid-19 cases (the island is currently CDC Level One). While guests must remain within their certified ‘vacation bubble’ for up to 14 days of their stay, the experience still checks all the boxes for a much-needed island escape. The vacation bubble concept includes a list of certified restaurants, activities and excursions that guests can experience outside of their pre-approved accommodations, like a round of golf, a glass-bottom boat ride or an offshore trip to the tiny island of Prickly Pear. And the best home base on the island is Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel, Anguilla. Set on Maundays Bay, the property lends itself to physical distancing, with standalone villas dotted along the pristine stretch of beach. Every room is beachfront, giving guests their very own slice of Caribbean Sea. The resort has launched a roster of daily programming, all available for private reservations, including wine classes, sunset sails, rum tastings, early-morning bird-watching, salt-scrub-making classes and more.

Visitors who require a negative Covid-19 test before returning home can do so with ease; Cap Juluca coordinates onsite testing to be administered in the comfort of guests’ own room. There are flights from the U.S. into Anguilla with connection through San Juan. Travelers can also fly into St. Martin and take a 25-minute boat ride to Anguilla. Those arriving via private jet can fly directly into Anguilla’s Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (AXA).

Blue Mountains, Jamaica

The island’s beaches are just half the story. Meet Jamaica’s Blue Mountains – a range of steep peaks with tangled jungles and tropical rainforest shrouded perpetually by mist. On a clear day, from the 7,400-foot summit, one of the Caribbean’s highest vantage points, hikers can spot Cuba off to the north. The Blue Mountains were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015 due to its diverse flora and fauna, much of it endemic to Jamaica. Today, the mountains are as far as you can get from the hubbub of touristy beaches. There’s 200,000 acres to explore – including trails past coffee estates dating back to the 1700s and following in the footsteps of 18th-centrury British Sailors on their way from Kingston Harbor. There are roots in music too. Book a stay at Chris Blackwell’s Strawberry Hill, where the 12 cottages cling tightly to the mountainside and appear to be floating in the clouds. Blackwell founded Island Records in the 1960s, a label that went on to sign U2, The Cranberries and Cat Stevens. But in Jamaica, the music mogul is most famous for discovering Bob Marley and introducing reggae to the mainstream. It is well-known that Marley recuperated at Strawberry Hill following his 1976 assassination attempt in Kingston. Strawberry Hill can arrange full- and half-day guided hiking experiences with nightly rates starting at $280.

Direct service to Kingston airport is offered on American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit and Air Canada from major cities including: Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, New York, Toronto. All international travelers must have a ‘travel authorization’ obtained before departure. Upon arrival into Jamaica, those 12 years of age and over are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of entry.


Greece recently announced international tourists will be welcome beginning May 14. Perfect timing for booking a stay at the new Kalesma Mykonos, opening May 20. Kalesma brought together two Greek designers to create its authentically Cycladic look with a sleek, modern take: Studio Bonarchi and K-Studio (known for the new Mykonos airport and Scorpios Beach Club). Design details include Rick Owens furniture in the lobby, custom artwork in the 25 indoor/outdoor suites and two villas featuring pieces by Serbian artist Aleksander Vac and horsehair sconces, a nod to the mythical history of the area (Apollo was said to keep his horses here). The land has been in the owners’ family for over a century and the hotel will offer genuine insider knowledge of off-the-beaten-path sites while introducing a luxury experience that balances fun and privacy.

There are flights to Athens from several U.S. cities including New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia and AirTransat recently announced summer routes between Athens and both Montreal and Toronto. From Athens you can take a quick 40-minute flight to Mykonos or hop on a 2.5-hour high speed ferry. Travelers will need to show either proof of vaccine, proof of having antibodies or a negative PCR test.

A Sustainable Return to Travel: Earth Month

April 1st, 2021

As celebration of Earth Day today, we must also reflect on the past year. We saw a shift from over-tourism to under-tourism and new research began on how this period of stillness might have affected climate change – if at all. As the industry continues to rebound from the pandemic, travel brands are preparing for how to promote a responsible recovery. The following hotels, tourism boards and expedition lines are leading by example. From ensuring clean drinking water for local communities to combatting climate change through reforestation to repopulating endangered species, we’ve rounded up the latest on the brands who are getting it right.

Hotels Designed with Sustainability in Mind

Paradero Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico: Pablo Carmona and Josh Kremer, Mexican entrepreneurs and financiers, are conscious-minded seekers of adventure travel in unspoiled destinations. They have created Mexico’s first luxury soft adventure brand, Paradero Hotels, with the first property in Todos Santos that launched on February 1, 2021. The fundamental brand value is that extraordinary outdoor experiences go hand-in-hand with sustainability, community development, and conservation. Overseen by Mexico City-based POLEN, who was behind the landscape design of the Google and Twitter offices in Mexico, Paradero Todos Santos is an 80 percent landscape, 20 percent construction project that blends indoor and outdoor living. The all-suite property is nestled within an unspoiled farming community and agricultural area comprising more than a dozen family-owned farms. Pablo and Josh deliberately chose a plot of land that was previously farmed, but had not been cultivated for many years. For the on-site 100,000-square-foot botanical garden, the team harvested more than 60 endemic species (from red sand verbena and Mojave yucca to Shaw’s agave) and planted only what the hotel’s plot could naturally support (orienting each tree, flower, and bush in a way that promotes maximum growth and vitality).

andBeyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia: During a 10-month rebuild in 2019, South African-based Fox Browne Creative, a long-time design partner of andBeyond, redesigned the lodge to maximize views of both landscape and skyscape through floor-to-ceiling glass walls and above-bed retractable skylights while embracing andBeyond’s core ethos of sustainability with as light a footprint as possible. Each self-sustaining suite acts as its own solar power plant, producing enough energy to power electricity, air conditioning, and water treatment and recycling systems. The interior’s chic, desert-inspired minimalism uses local minerals such as semi-precious agate and quartz, and quirky accents harken back to the reserve’s past as a working farm. Fox Browne worked with local Namibian artisans to create custom basket-ware, wool wall hangings and rugs by Karukulia weavers (a local textile company using Namibia wool), and ostrich leather products. The lodge’s water system recycles more than 26,417 gallons of grey water a month. Approximately $600,000 has been invested in state-of-the-art sustainability initiatives, including the addition of a water bottling plant. By bottling water on-site and using recycled glass bottles, the lodge saves a significant amount of CO² per month, absorbing the carbon footprint of the delivery truck used to bring in bottled water.

Nayara Tented Camp, Costa Rica: Following one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America, Costa Rica 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. Costa Rica also launched PES, a program that pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity, or capture carbon dioxide, which has positively impacted tourism. According to the tourism board, over 60% of visitors cite nature as a reason for coming. The national parks and protected areas now cover over a quarter of the country’s land. Nayara Resorts is committed to the cause and hired a reforestation expert to rebuild the rainforest – which began with the planting of 40,000 indigenous trees. Their newest property, Nayara Tented Camp, which opened in December 2019, sits on a hillside that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. The company also expanded the property’s sloth sanctuary to over 1,000 Cecropia trees (the sloth’s main food source) to serve as a home to more than 15 sloths. Upon arrival, every group is introduced to their dedicated naturalist, who accompanies them on experiences throughout their stay (à la safari rangers in the African bush). These expert nature guides (Juan Pablo is a fan favorite) bring guests on sloth sanctuary tours, early morning bird-watching walks, and nighttime frog spotting tours on property.

Repopulating Endangered Animals from Brazil to South Africa

The loss of species has a domino effect on the entire ecosystem. In addition to protecting the land on which they live and survive, both andBeyond and Belmond are taking active roles in repopulating endangered animals. When Belmond took over Hotel das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls in 2007, it not only invested in the hotel itself, but in the surrounding Iguassu National Park. The company donated 1.4 million Brazilian Reals (approximately $250,000) 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 over 300% from around 9 to at least 28 (census of 2019).

Indigenous to South Africa, 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.

Three Education Initiatives in Local Communities

Sustainable travel not only involves reducing carbon footprint or regenerating local biodiversity but also actively contributing to the local communities who live there. 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.

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.

In 2019, PONANT created the PONANT Foundation to encourage the development of innovative solutions to better understand and protect the oceans and the polar regions and to promote mutually beneficial interactions between travelers and local communities. When crafting a new itinerary, PONANT is the only cruise company to undertake environmental and social impact studies on the new destination so as to better understand and preserve the natural settings and the indigenous populations. By entering into dialogue with local communities, PONANT ensures that its activity takes into account the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the zones visited and limits the impact. Located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the African nation of Guinea-Bissau, the Bijagós Archipelago is one of the most preserved and protected archipelagos on the planet. With a population of less than 30,000, it is made up of 88 islands and islets, only 23 of which are inhabited, at the mouth of the Rio Geba. As part of its outreach to the local communities in October 2019 in preparation of a new cruise to the region, PONANT joined forces with the local ESCama Foundation to rebuild a community school on Caravela Island. Construction began in March 2021 to build a new school that will have a kindergarten, four levels of primary school, literacy classes for adults, a community garden, a sustainable advocacy program for recycling as well as housing for the teachers.