Vaccinated Americans can now go to Ireland!

July 22nd, 2021

As of this week (starting July 19), fully vaccinated U.S. travelers can travel to Ireland without quarantining for the first time in over 15 months. (Before this Americans could travel to Ireland but had to quarantine for 14 days.) Visitors will have to show proof of vaccination. If unvaccinated, tourists will need to show a negative Covid test and must self-quarantine before taking a second test. Unvaccinated children between 7 and 18 will have to show proof of a negative test before entering

Set on 450 acres, Dromoland Castle in County Clare is the most inviting spot to spend a summer or fall holiday. The Castle dates back to the 16th century and offers myriad activities for getting out into the Irish countryside. With the country reopening to Americans and Dromoland Castle offering its four-for-three stay offer, this is the best time to pop over to the Emerald Isle.

For the family:

What kids (of any age) wouldn’t want to explore a castle? Aside from the parapets and suits of armor and grand corridors, kids can go on pony and trap rides, race go karts, try archery and falconry, and play some tennis. Miniature robes and slippers, board games, and bubble bath supplies are perfect for the end of the day.

*Jumpstart the trip before going with a zoom call with resident genealogist Lorna Moloney where she shares her research into any Irish family histories.

For the history buff

Dating back to the 16th century, Dromoland Castle is rife with stories and historical intrigue. Castle historian Jane O’Brien draws on historical sources to reveal what life was like for those who once lived at the castle. She also shares interesting anecdotes, such as the Temple of Mercury on the castle grounds’ provenance (it is a shrine to a racehorse on which a previous owner of the Castle bet the entire castle – since the horse won and he got to keep his property, when the horse died, he built the extravagant shrine).

For the sportsman:

Activities abound on the grounds, enough to fill several days with all different pursuits, including…

  • Falconry – said to have been around for over 4,000 years, falconry remains an enduring popular activity at castles and country homes. Dromoland Castle’s falconry program takes guests out onto the beautiful castle grounds with falcons, hawks, and owls, giving them a chance to hold these birds of prey and experience their relationship with their falconers.
  • Golf – The castle is a great home base for getting out on the fairways at famous courses like Lahinch and Ballybunion, not to mention its own 18-hole parkland course. The driving range’s floodlights make it an excellent spot to fit in a little evening practice, ideally followed by a freshly poured Guinness at the golf club.
  • Fishing – the castle’s own lake is generously stocked with trout, perch, and other fish and guests can set off in a rowboat or cast from the shore. The kitchen is happy to cook up whatever is caught!
  • Clay shooting – this can be arranged for any skill level, from beginners to experts. Each session includes 30 clays and lasts between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the size of the group.
  • Archery – channel the past practicing archery on the grounds of the castle. Expert guides instruct guests how to hit their target.
  • Cycling – complimentary bikes are available to explore the myriad paths that criss cross the 450-acre estate.

For the foodie:

In addition to sipping craft cocktails, touring the wine cellar, sampling the tasting menu at the Earl of Thomond fine dining restaurant, nibbling scones and clotted cream at afternoon tea, or trying local dishes at Shannigan’s gastropub, there’s a new truly local offering: foraging. While foraging seems a relatively new trend, it has long been part of the fall tradition in County Clare. Oonagh O’Dwyer, leader Dromoland Castle’s foraging program, brings guests to forage things like sloes (used to make sloe gin), crab apples for jams and chutneys, blackberries for pies, jam, and syrup, Alexander seeds (that taste of black pepper), nettle seeds (a super food), hazelnuts, Carrageen seaweed (an anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial – often used as chest medicine in the winter), dandelion roots for coffee, and pignuts (which taste like walnuts).

For the gardener

André le Nôtre, known for designing the gardens a Versailles, also designed the gardens at Dromoland Castle. Head Gardener Dorothea Madden leads garden tours of the castle, and upon request, private gardens nearby. Reminiscent of The Secret Garden, the walled garden was at one point infested with briars. Dorothea led the charge in hand digging every inch of it and restoring it to its former glory, including planting the Castle’s very Dromoland Rose. This summer, the property is offering dining in the garden.

How to get there

There are direct flights to Dublin from several US cities including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. From Dublin, two-and-a-half-hour drive (or 50 minutes via a private helicopter transfer).

Current rules

Vaccinated visitors are allowed into the country without quarantining as of July 19. If visitors don’t have valid proof of vaccine, they will need to present evidence of a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to arrival into the country, self-quarantine until they get a negative post-arrival test – this will be provided through the HSE (Ireland’s Health Services). More information here.

Summer rates start at $717 per night.


About Dromoland Castle

Set on 450 acres of parkland with 97 rooms and suites, Dromoland Castle dates back to the 16th century when it was home of the O’Brien family, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, one of the last High Kings of Ireland. Converted to a hotel in the 1960s and fresh off a $20 million renovation and restoration, Dromoland Castle exhibits the best of its regal Irish heritage.

Destination Weddings from Nantucket to the Masai Mara

July 13th, 2021

Now that travel is gaining traction and so rescheduled weddings are popping on the calendar, we foresee a boom in destination nuptials. Here are our top picks from nearby (the Hamptons) to a bit of a hop (Ireland) to more exotic (the Masai Mara).

A Hop (close to home)

Shou Sugi Ban House, Hamptons, NY – for a Hamptons soirée

Shou Sugi Ban House, the wellness retreat and destination spa in the Hamptons hamlet of Water Mill can now accommodate a tent that can hold 120 seated or 150 standing guests. The Glass Pavilion, lined with sliding glass doors on either side, can fit 50 people seated or standing and offers seamless transition between interior and exterior. With its floor to ceiling windows, it is the perfect spot to take in the landscape architecture designed in collaboration with Studio Lily Kwong (The High Line). The cherry blossom trees are in full bloom come spring and the outdoor firepit offers a cozy ambiance during the winter months. The Hamptons vernacular-style Main Barn can accommodate 50 people standing and has an oversized projector for photo and video screening. The property is also available for buyouts and can now accommodate up to 52 guests. There is also an option to do a partial buyout of 13 guest studios accommodating up to 26 guests. The team works closely with groups to arrange experiences they are interested in, including wellness programming, spa treatments and meals designed by Chef Mads Refslund, co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen, who oversees the culinary program. The three house Teslas are even available for use. Onsite amenities include a private tennis court, a variety of pools, a thermal suite, a kitted-out fitness studio, and a rooftop deck. Shou Sugi Ban House is located next to the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. For larger weddings taking place at the museum, it is a great option for bridal party and wedding guest accommodations.

Images courtesy of Fredrika Stjarne for Shou Sugi Ban House:

Super Special: Newlyweds looking for a deep connection can participate in the Couple’s Shamanic Healing. The onsite Shaman will clear energy, bring in light, and cut any energetic cords causing stagnation and concretion.

White Elephant, Nantucket, MA – for a picture-perfect New England fête

Located a few steps from town, the White Elephant has been a favorite Nantucket retreat since the 1920s; the height of preppy New England elegance with grey shingles and white trim. This is the place where families visit for generations and brides dream of being married. From the elegant Ballroom to intimate spaces overlooking the harbor, White Elephant can accommodate parties from two to 300 guests – or throw a grand celebration by reserving the entire property. Begin with a ceremony on the Harborview Lawn, then wine, dine and dance under the stars on the Harborview Terrace. The wedding party can indulge in renewing treatments at White Elephant Spa by Darya, relax in cushy wicker lounges overlooking the water, cruise the harbor in a Hinckley Picnic boat or top off the celebration with a lavish brunch. A stone’s throw from the center of town, the property has accommodations including suites on the harbor, garden cottages and two in-town Lofts, Easy Street and the Loft at 32 Main and multi-bedroom Residences with kitchenettes. The White Elephant’s Brant Point Grill is a staple restaurant on island and known for their famed Sunday Brunch and Lobster Bloody Mary. The hotel also has a partnership with BMW so wedding guests can sign out cars to explore the island on their own.


Super Special: White Elephant Resorts offers the Hy-Line Ferry Package to wedding couples to assist with roundtrip transportation for their guests to and from the island. The package can be added to a Harborside Terrace wedding or a full buyout wedding weekend.

The Wauwinet, Nantucket, MA – for an elegant, beach-side wedding

Situated on the northeast end of Nantucket located between two private beaches, the 32-room Wauwinet is an adults-only escape with the ambiance of storybook romance. Smaller, more intimate parties can take place in one of TOPPER’S private dining rooms. TOPPER’S, a don’t-miss dining spot on island, where the seasonally inspired menu shines with local produce and seafood. A highlight of the menu is the Retsyo Oysters – sourced 300 yards from property. For larger weddings, the inn has a special option of reserving the entire hotel for the weekend. It offers the feeling a private luxury home. The entire wedding party can enjoy a rehearsal clambake on the beach, followed by a tented wedding ceremony and reception on the lawn as well as a goodbye brunch on the following day. During the spring and fall months, The Wauwinet offers complimentary activities, including boating, lobstering, cooking classes, and scenic drives of neighboring ‘Sconset in the hotel’s 1948 Woody. Guests also receive have access to a BMW SUV for use throughout the stay, available on a complimentary, first-come first-served basis. Buyouts start at $13,500 per night.


Super Special: For larger weddings, the inn has a special option of reserving the entire hotel for the weekend, welcoming up to 64 guests – offering the feeling a private beach home on island.

Dupont Circle Hotel, Washington, DC – for a city elopement

Right on Dupont Circle, the hotel is the perfect spot for an elopement. Its signature Terrace Suites give couples the chance for an al fresco ceremony looking over the rooftops of DC. Seeing an uptick in interest in intimate weddings, the property – which recently reopened after a top-to-bottom renovation with designs from Martin Brudnizki and Clodagh – launched a new elopement package which includes a two-night stay in a Signature Terrace Suite, florals, assistance in sourcing a photographer at a preferred rate, a champagne toast, a justice of the piece, and parking. Rates start at $6,000.

Images Courtesy of The Doyle Collection

Super Special: For a bigger group, one can book the Penthouse Suite with its sweeping views from the large terrace – perfect for a cocktail reception or intimate dinner party.

A Skip (a bit further away)

Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel, Anguilla – for the picture-perfect Caribbean escape

Located in the British West Indies on the serene shores of Anguilla, Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel is a sanctuary for total escapism with 108 guest rooms and suites, all with large private verandas or balconies overlooking the pristine white sandy shores of Maundays Bay. The property features four dining destinations, a show-stopping infinity-edge pool, an authentic Arawak Spa and a 1,800 square foot events pavilion overlooking the bay. Every detail is taken into account for the couple’s preferences with options to recite vows beside the water, indulge in an Anguillan barbeque on the beach, or throw an intimate reception in one of the private pool villas. An island retreat for the entire party, the resort also offers 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.


Super Special: Just a smooth 25-minute ride across the Caribbean Sea via a private boat transfer, newlyweds can continue the celebrations at sister property La Samanna on St. Martin. Travelers can seamlessly experience two Leeward Islands in one trip.

The Fife Arms, Scotland – for a dramatic, highland celebration

The Fife Arms is a former 19th century hunting lodge set within the striking Scottish Highlands. The property was purchased by the celebrated art world couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth (co-presidents of Hauser & Wirth) and opened in 2018. Interiors are a charming blend of old and new, deeply luxurious with surprising, eclectic touches and 16,000 works of art. Nearby castles and the Cairngorms National Park, the largest National Park in the UK, make it an especially enchanting setting for a wedding. The in-house team can create events that celebrate the best Scotland has to offer from whisky tastings, golf excursions and art tours to private chef lunches on a grouse moor, picnic teas in the forest and bespoke spa packages. They also work with local vendors including florists and photographers. The Fog House can seat up to 50 people. The room, with its large, wood-burning fireplace and impressive antler chandelier looks out onto the internal courtyard.

Images courtesy of The Fife Arms:

Super Special: With a collection of art done by the likes of Picasso, Man Ray and Queen Victoria, getting married here is like saying ‘I do’ in a world-class museum. Where else can you take your bridal portrait in front of a Gerhard Richter painting? Guests can even join a guided tour of the hotel’s collection.

Dromoland Castle, Ireland – for a fairytale wedding in a castle

Dating back to the 16th century, the grand Dromoland Castle sits on a 450-acre estate replete with an 18-hole golf course, spa, several restaurants, a walled garden designed by the same designer as the gardens at Versailles, and what castle would be complete without turrets and authentic suits of armor lining the expansive corridors? The castle can host anything from an elopement for two (with a ceremony on the Cliffs of Moher and an elaborate celebration dinner back at the castle) to a full buyout of its 97 rooms for up to 200 people. Ceremonies can take place in the walled garden or under a marquee tent with a castle backdrop or in any favorite spot on the grounds. From horse drawn carriage arrivals, champagne receptions on the lawn, dancing under the stars or in the Brian Boru Hall, night caps in the jewel box bar… the experts at Dromoland Castle will create the dreamiest castle celebration.

Images Courtesy of Dromoland Castle

Super Special: For a very authentic feel, Dromoland Castle can arrange traditional Irish dancers and musicians to add a fun and local feel to the celebration.

Nayara Tented Camp, Costa Rica – for a super-romantic, intimate I do

On a private deck surrounded by rainforest with the imposing Arenal Volcano in the background, couples can opt for an intimate wedding ceremony at their own luxury tent at Nayara Tented Camp. With a day leading up to the wedding of pampering in the spa, soaking in the hot springs under the rainforest canopy, private yoga and mediation sessions, and any wedding hairstyling, brides and grooms will begin their lives together in a complete state of zen. Celebrations post-ceremony can be a private dinner cantilevered over the canopy or a wine-paired feast taking over the balcony of Nostalgia Wine Bar. The honeymoon begins in the sprawling tent with its private plunge pool filled with naturally warm hot spring water, indoor and outdoor double showers, a complimentary mini bar, and beautiful four-poster king-sized bed. Couples can’t forget about the complimentary room service breakfast set up on the private deck.

Images Courtesy of Nayara Tented Camp:

Super Special: A sloth sanctuary envelopes the entire property, so there may be wedding photo opps with a sloth in the background.

Kalesma Mykonos – for the dreamiest, Grecian ceremony

Greece opened in May and has been welcoming tourists with open arms. Kalesma opened on May 20 and is the dreamiest spot for a destination wedding. Nuptials can take place outside of the on-site chapel – a classic Cycladic-style chapel with a domed roof. The celebration can continue around the aloni – an original threshing stone found on the property – and at restaurant Pere Ubu with sunset views over the water. With 25 suites and two villas (all with private full-size pools) it’s perfect for a buyout to host all the couples’ nearest and dearest. The concierge can arrange activities for the group such as beach picnics, sailboat cruises around the island, reservations at beach parties, and historical tours of nearby Delos island.

Images courtesy of Kalesma:

Super Special: With both sunset and sunrise views, there wedding photos will be dramatic and beautiful with the sea, the sky, and the white villas dotting the hillside.

Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino – for the chic sposa and sposo

Located down the hill from sister property Splendido, the 14-room Splendido Mare reopened on April 16, 2021 following a complete restoration led by Paris-based designers FESTEN Architecture. Inspired by its history in a fishing village – where there has not been a new house built since 1935 – Splendido Mare features antiques and locally sourced elements such as  terracotta tiles from Impruneta and marble from Carrara. For intimate celebrations, opt for the Ava Gardner spanning the top floor of the property, outfitted with subtle nods to the actress who stayed at the guest house while filming Barefoot Contessa. Make the 14-room retreat a private summer home with a full buyout, accommodating up to 32 guests. The 100-piece art collection sets the scene featuring specially commissioned items by Italian painter Gabriele Cappelli as well as cinematic photography and abstract pieces by local artists. The new restaurant, DaV Mare focuses on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, and signatures dishes includes a humble tomato pasta (paccheri alla vittorio). For dessert, do not miss the little gelateria in the heart of piazzetta. Buyouts start at $29,000 per night with a minimum two-night stay.


Super Special: For intimate celebrations, opt for the Ava Gardner Suite spanning the entire top floor of the property and outfitted with subtle nods to the actress who stayed at the guest house while filming Barefoot Contessa.

Royal Mansour Marrakech, Morocco

Owned by the King of Morocco and situated on nearly seven acres of gardens in the heart of Marrakech, couples will be hard-pressed to find a more majestic setting than Royal Mansour for their destination wedding. The property is composed of 53 three-story riads (private homes), lending itself nicely to either a full-property buyouts or an intimate elopement for two. Royal Mansour’s three-story, white latticework spa is a bridal dream come true, and available for hair/nail styling for the big day as well as pre-wedding treatments such as four-hand massage and traditional hammam. Centered around a hand-tiled fountain, the hotel’s open-air lobby is a favorite amongst couples as the location for their vows. Other options include The Grand Riad, a hotel-within-the-hotel with a glass-enclosed split-level terrace and private property entrance; or for a more intimate micro-wedding, the newly built The Nest, an open-air space elevated above the newly expanded gardens with views overlooking Marrakech, accommodates up to eight people.


Super Special: Book The Grand Riad for the ultimate private retreat. A veritable hotel-within-a-hotel, the 19,375-square-foot crown jewel of the property features a glass-enclosed split-level terrace, a hammam, cinema, two swimming pools and a private property entrance.

A Jump (a bit of a journey)

andBeyond Bateleur Camp, Kenya – for an unforgettable savannah ceremony

Wedding parties can take over one or both camps at Bateleur Camp on Kenya’s Masai Mara for a truly unforgettable safari wedding.  With twice-daily game drives, sundowners in a different picturesque spot each night, and culminating with a traditional Maasai ceremony, andBeyond can create the wedding of a lifetime.

Images Courtesy of andBeyond:

Super Special: The on-property gin bar has a selection of 16 different types of craft gin for tasting flights or specialty cocktails infused with fresh botanicals grown in the lodge’s organic vegetable garden.


July 12th, 2021

New Itineraries to Antarctica, Costa Rica and Panama, the Caribbean, and Japan will Feature Smithsonian-crafted Cultural Experiences Onboard and on Land

PONANT, a leader in small ship expeditions, announces new winter 2022 itineraries in collaboration with Smithsonian Journeys, the travel program of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. Drawing on Smithsonian’s resources dating back 175 years, the new sailings will feature notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife. PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys are rooted in common values – focusing on cultural immersion and discovery – with a goal of further inspiring guests to become global citizens through travel.

Departures exploring Antarctica, Costa Rica and Panama, the Caribbean, and Japan, will provide opportunities to engage with a variety of experts, ranging from geologists and scientists to astrophysicists and historians. The full list of sailings can be viewed here. Highlights include:

Antarctica: The White Continent, L’Austral

The 11-day itinerary will journey into the heart of the Antarctica peninsula. Travelers will begin by crossing the Drake Passage, considered a badge of honor during an Antarctic voyage, before disembarking on Zodiac outings to explore the icy continent. The journey will take guests up close to Gentoo and Adelie penguins and seals and will redirect or stop navigation in order to witness passing humpback whales. The cruise will be accompanied by PONANT’s team of naturalist guides and two Smithsonian Journeys Experts, astrophysicist Michelle Thaller, who serves as the assistant director for Science Communication at NASA’s Goddard Space Center, and geologist Wayne Ranney with over 40 years of experience leading trips to Earth’s most spectacular landscapes, who will join guests on excursions to research stations, volcanic beaches, and along icebergs and ice floe.

Departure on January 22, 2022 / 10 nights, 11 days

Starting from $9,830 per person

Panama and Costa Rica by Sea: The Natural Wonders of Central America, Le Champlain

Embark on an eight-day cruise from Colón, Panama to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica passing through the Panama Canal. Ports of call include the UNESCO World Heritage site Darién National Park for treks through the wilderness; an exclusive hosted visit to the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City; and Carara National Park, home to over 10,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds and 200 species of butterflies.  Guests will join engaging discussions onboard with two Smithsonian Journeys Experts, Matthew Larsen, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, centered around the importance of ecosystems and Ralph Nurnberger, historian and expert in international relations.

Departure on January 24, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days

Starting from $4,410 per person

Cruising the Caribbean’s Windward Islands, Le Dumont-d’Urville

Join Smithsonian Journeys Experts, Caribbean historian Franklin Knight and geophysicist Carola Stearns, with experience in climate geomorphology, while discovering the most enchanting islands of the Caribbean Sea. Departing from St. Lucia, home to The Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ship will travel to ports larger vessels are unable reach: Portsmouth, Dominica; Les Saintes, Guadeloupe; and scattered islands and uninhabited cays in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Along the way, there will be opportunities to snorkel and scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters to observe turtles, barracudas and parrotfish; birdwatch along nature trails; and spend days exploring private beaches.

Departure on February 13, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days

Starting from $3,900 per person

Treasures of Japan by Sea, Le Soléal

Sail from Kobe, one of the first Japanese ports to open to international trade in the 19th century, to Japan’s second-largest city of Osaka, where rich heritage blends with the country’s industrialization and modernization. The sailing will be accompanied by Smithsonian Journeys Experts, Jonathan Hall, Japanese film and literature expert with 20 years of experience as a Japanese-English translator, as well as Timon Screech, a specialist in the art and culture of early modern Japan. Highlights of the itinerary include an Udon-noodle master class at a Takamatsu cooking school; a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park; and a tour through Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens in Okayama.

Departure on April 15, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days

Starting from $6,500 per person



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.

For more information on PONANT’s worldwide itineraries to the Arctic and Antarctica, as well as in the Atlantic and North Europe, Asia, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Eastern Asia, Oceania, and Central and South America, visit, call 1-844-747-2873, or contact your travel advisor.

About the Smithsonian

Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. It is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 19 museums, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.  There were nearly 22 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2019. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million, of which nearly 146 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History.

About Smithsonian Journeys

Smithsonian Journeys is part of Smithsonian Enterprises, a division of the Smithsonian which oversees the institution’s commercial activities, including the Smithsonian Channel, which is available in over 55 million households globally; the retail operation, which includes 35 museum and airport stores, food concessions; an E-commerce business,, Smithsonian and Air & Space magazines, which reach more than 8 million monthly readers, consumer and education licensing, and books. Smithsonian Journeys is a global leader in cultural travel for diverse audiences, offering unique, expert-led trips on all seven continents. Smithsonian Journeys offers small-group land journeys, ocean cruises, river cruises, active journeys, cultural stays, private jet trips, tailor-made journeys for the independent traveler and student travel programs. For more information visit or call 1-855-330-1542.


Media Only:

Lauren Wintemberg, Alice Marshall Public Relations; 212-861-4031;

Angela Ferragamo, Smithsonian Journeys; 202-633-6028;