The Pound Drops to a Record Low Against the Dollar

September 26th, 2022

…and other reasons to book a trip to the UK right now

 

This morning every news outlet was splashing out the fact that the Great British Pound is at a record low against the US Dollar. Not long ago, the pound was generally hovering around two USD, but today it $1.07 USD to GBP. Even though the UK is always popular (consistently in the top 10 of popular destinations for luxury travelers, as tracked by Virtuoso, the leading global network specializing in luxury and experiential travel), here are some suggestions of where and why to head across the pond!

 

LONDON

London is so lovely in the fall, and without Thanksgiving, their holiday décor and celebration tends to start a bit earlier.

 

Frieze

Frieze London is October 12-16 and will bring together over 280 galleries from 42 countries, with specially curated sections celebrating the city’s creative spirit. The Frieze at The Bloomsbury package includes accommodation for 2 people, full English breakfast for two, and two tickets to FRIEZE London.

 

City & Country with Belmond

Experience both the bustle of London and the serenity of Oxfordshire, starting with two nights at The Cadogan, a stylish retreat in the heart of Chelsea. The hotel has a rich history and is perfectly positioned for some luxury shopping, visiting museums and nights at the theatre. Then journey to Oxfordshire in style and experience the rural beauty of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a honey-hued manor nestled in lush gardens (and home to Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin-starred restaurant).

o   Guests at The Cadogan also have exclusive access to Gladwell & Patterson, a family-run art gallery in stylish Knightsbridge. Full of fine oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures by leading artists, it’s an oasis of calm and culture dating back to 1752 (and was frequently visited by Vincent Van Gogh).

 

Stay in a sculpture

The Beaumont’s ROOM is both a sculpture by artist Antony Gormley and a bookable suite. The bedroom occupies the interior of a giant, semi-abstract sculpture that dominates the entrance of the hotel. The mysterious, cave-like space encourages guests to withdraw for a meditative pause and good night’s sleep.

o   With the Stay and Dine offer, guests can book an overnight stay at The Beaumont and treat themselves to a Colony Grill Room lunch or dinner for two from £865 (Per room, per night, including Full English Breakfast, three-course lunch or dinner in The Colony and taxes – this rate is for a regular room, not the ROOM sculpture).

 

Around the World in 80 Days

The Kensington hotel just introduced a the ‘80 Days Around The World’ Afternoon Tea experience, the first in a series of adventurous seasonal teas at the hotel, drawing inspiration from the worldly travels of Phileas Fogg – the protagonist in Jules Verne’s 1872 novel “Around the World in Eighty Days.” This new tea celebrates his journey through a menu of savory amuse-bouche, sandwiches, desserts and scones. Available from September 26 (and with gluten-free and vegan options) the first leg of the journey will whisk guests to cities across Europe and into the Middle East. The menu starts in London, represented by a classic beef pie with a puff pastry top, travels onward to mainland Europe with a Parmesan Gougere filled with tomato cream, then onto Ta’ameya (falafel) with tahini oil – a Cairo streetfood classic. Traditional sandwiches follow, with a menu comprising London’s much-loved lemon and chive cream cheese with smoked salmon, Parisian mustard mayo with ham and pickled gherkin, Italian sundried tomatoes with green pesto and mozzarella and Egyptian cumin houmous with caramelised onions sandwiches. Fresh fruit, plain scones served with seasonal homemade jams, and clotted cream will also be on offer. Continuing to take guests on a journey across the globe, highlight desserts include Banoffee Pie, French Opera Mont Blanc, Italian Tiramisu and Egyptian Raspberry, Rose and Pistachio Twirl dessert.

 

 

SCOTLAND

The Fife Arms in Braemar, 15-minute drive from Balmoral Castle, is excited to announce the inaugural Braemar Literary Festival (October 7-9) that will bring together locals, hotel guests and literary lovers alike. The festival is being held in collaboration with The Royal Reading Room. Inspired by the reading list of Her Majesty The Queen Consort, the digital hub launched in 2021 to connect communities around the world to celebrate all forms of literature. Braemar Literary Festival is co-curated by actor and broadcaster Genevieve Gaunt, who has penned book reviews for The Spectator, the oldest surviving weekly magazine in the world. Additional supporters of the event include the British food writer and critic Tom Parker Bowles, St. Margaret’s performance, arts and heritage venue in Braemar, and local cultural partners. The two-day event will explore the creative use of words and text in their broadest sense, celebrating the works of bestselling authors alongside visual artists, spoken word performers, singer-songwriters, scriptwriters, critics and publishers alike, reflecting the many ways in which the ’literary’ creatively enhances our lives. Highlights from the weekend will include: a three-course dinner by Michelin-starred Angela Hartnett who was awarded an OBE (most excellent order of the British empire) for her services to hospitality and to the NHS (National Health Service) during the pandemic; as well as intimate conversations with Dave Broom, a Scottish whiskey expert and writer; Vicki Perrin, director of the Royal Reading Room; Dr. Frank Tallis, a writer and clinical psychologist; and Sam Leith, literary director of The Spectator.

EYOS Partners With Ocean Conservation Exploration and Education Foundation (OCEEF)

September 22nd, 2022

September 22, 2022 – Two of the world’s leaders in ocean exploration have joined forces to push the boundaries of underwater conservation and research and embark on critical citizen science missions to the farthest reaches of the planet. EYOS, the authority in private superyacht expeditions, has partnered with Ocean Conservation Exploration and Education Foundation (OCEEF), a 501(c)(3) organization to educate the world about the ocean through immersive, data-collecting missions aboard OCEEF’s five-star research yacht, RV Odyssey. The advanced vessel will circumnavigate the world with missions in Antarctica, the Chagos Archipelago, the Galapagos and other remote destinations, where they will explore aquatic ecosystems teeming with biodiversity alongside top scientists, explorers, students, and educators.

Committed to field research and scientific inquiry, EYOS and OCEEF share a mission to leverage exploration as a way of driving greater awareness about the Earth’s oceans. EYOS Founding Partner Rob McCallum says, “Working with OCEEF in this way is a natural complement to EYOS’ last few years leading and managing the Five Deeps and Ring of Fire expeditions that dove the Challenger Deep and previously unseen deepsea environments. Odyssey represents the new frontier of expedition travel, mixing cutting edge science, with adventure travel and expedition cruising. The opportunity and potential for further discovery with this vessel’s program is immense, and it will be tremendously exciting for all those fortunate enough to be onboard.”

EYOS founders Rob McCallum & Tim Soper have been at the forefront of deep ocean exploration and combining science with private travel for decades, and the company holds several world records and has been instrumental in numerous scientific discoveries. On the exclusive missions aboard the RV Odyssey, EYOS will provide logistical support and expedition leadership, empowering guests to fully take part in this most innovative opportunity in superyacht travel.

Alex Moukas, Founder of OCEEF, adds, “We are very excited to be partnering with EYOS in such a meaningful way. OCEEF’s goal is to provide world-class scientists free access to the vessel and help them design impactful missions. EYOS can help match the scientists and locations with Ocean and Expedition enthusiasts that make these incredible missions possible. We are looking forward to continuing to bring passionate citizen scientists unmatched experiences on and below the world’s oceans.”

RV Odyssey (formerly the MV Alucia) is also a pioneer in underwater exploration in its own right. She launched the French submersible Nautile on the first dives on the Titanic in 1987; participated in the successful search for the black box of Air France flight 447; supported the first filming of the giant squid in the wild with former owner OceanX; and hosted David Attenborough among other luminaries in science and conservation. EYOS founders McCallum and Soper were instrumental in her design and build during the vessel’s four-year conversion from RV Nadir to MV Alucia. McCallum says, “When her conversion was complete in 2011, she was the world’s first hybrid ship outfitted with multiple submersibles, hangared helicopters, world class SCUBA facilities, ocean mapping, and multiple science laboratories. She was one of the most capable expedition yachts afloat– and her current mission with OCEEF is exactly what we had in mind for her all those years ago.” Today, she can accommodate a helicopter, and is equipped with two Triton submersibles, one of which can dive to a depth of 7,500 feet.

Through cutting-edge technology like gamified ocean-learning experiences, OCEEF’s RV Odyssey will engage with millions of children and young adults as it circumnavigates the globe. Empowering the next generation of ocean explorers and conservationists, students will join scientists in an immersive undersea experience as they discover new species, learn the importance of ocean conservation, and share their findings in real time with participants around the world.

Over the next year, the RV Odyssey will embark on a series of first-of-its-kind missions, offering an exclusive 360-degree adventure that will help drive education and a better understanding of our oceans.  These immersive adventures include studying mesophotic coral reef ecosystems in the Chagos Archipelago, seeking the killer whales that attack great white sharks off the coast of Cape Town, documenting hydrothermal vents on Antarctica’s Deception Island, participating in threatened species recovery studies in the Galapagos, and journeying around the Mediterranean—from Sardinia and Sicily to Crete and Santorini—and discover ancient Roman and Greek triremes (triple-decker warships).

OCEEF invites travelers to support its missions in Antarctica this winter season by traveling aboard RV Odyssey for the most exclusive experience possible – a firsthand look at the very research participants are helping support. With a tax-deductible donation of $150,000, donors and their friends or family members can be invited onboard the RV Odyssey and join the crew of scientists, expedition leaders, and students to experience life onboard.

As RV Odyssey is classified as a research vessel, in cooperation with researchers on-board and local communities, OCEEF is able to get Special Research Permits and conduct operations in unique locations that are typically closed to all other visitors.

100% of the proceeds go to supporting the research and educational mission of OCEEF– whether searching for the Colossal Squid in the deepest parts of the Antarctic or analyzing hydrothermal vents on Antarctica’s most active volcano. In addition, OCEEF supports ongoing scientific studies and scholarships for local communities and students – ensuring a long-lasting impact on the future of ocean conservation.

For more information on OCEEF or to make a donation, please visit https://www.oceef.org/.

About EYOS

Founded in 2008, EYOS is the world leader in private superyacht expeditions charters. Specializing in bespoke itineraries that take travelers to the most remote and culturally rich parts of the world, EYOS operates across all seven continents. They hold several world records and world ‘firsts,’ such as the furthest south that any vessel has ever reached in history, and the first commercial expedition to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. In 2019, EYOS pioneered the first ever “single cabin” departures allowing travelers to book individual cabins on a superyacht. All journeys are guided by a team of experts with decades of experience.

About Ocean Conservation Exploration and Education Foundation (OCEEF)

OCEEF aim to help shape a world where people appreciate the importance of the Ocean and take action to protect it and ensure its sustainability. The Foundation is taking one of the most capable Oceanographic vessels around the world to educate the world about the Ocean and help develop practical ways to save it by educating a new generation of ocean stewards. OCEEF leverages technology to change hearts, transform minds, and advance awareness about ocean conservation and research.

 

Unique Perks of the Suite Life – From Private Speed Boats to Unlimited Champagne

August 19th, 2022

Extra-Special Suites

Many travelers, especially those traveling with their families or for business, opt to splurge on a suite for extra room to spread out. But added space isn’t the only reason to upgrade your digs. In some cases, reserving a suite unlocks special perks like private guides, access to your own speedboat, free-flowing champagne, and VIP dining experiences—not to mention bragging rights. From a designer suite on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to the world’s largest overwater villa, here are 5 suites worth the expense.

andBeyond Phinda Mountain lodge Family Suite

Designed to provide the right balance of privacy and together-time, the Family Suite at andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge is cleverly laid out to help you make the most of your group safari getaway. A central living room connects the two wings of the suite, each of which have bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms and outdoor showers, and interleading children’s rooms. A private veranda off the shared lounge offers panoramic views of the surrounding bush (keep your eyes peeled for the Big Five) and connects directly to the lodge pool.  But that’s not all — book the Family Suite and you’ll get your own dedicated private guide and vehicle for exploring the lodge’s 70,560 acres of protected wildlife land, where wildlife like cheetah, black rhino, and nyala roam.

Images Courtesy of andBeyond: https://we.tl/t-cBqthjvYwU

The Marylebone

Get the royal treatment in London by booking the lavish Marylebone Suite. Offering 860 square feet of living space, it’s like owning your own stylish pied-a-terre in the heart of the city, steps from Hyde Park and Manchester Square. The best place to take in the views is the suite’s Scandi-style terrace, complete with a retractable roof and blinds, plush sofas, a fireplace and TV. Or relax inside, where a Julian Chichester dining table, a marble bathroom and whirlpool bath, freshly cut flowers, and complimentary selection of alcoholic and soft drinks will make you feel right at home. Other perks of booking the chic suite include VIP airport pick-up (London City & Heathrow only, one way), in-suite check-in, and access to a dedicated guest liaison who can hook you up with dinner reservations, in-room meals, or anything else you should need.

Images Courtesy of The Doyle Collection: https://we.tl/t-TjR2QQfRr0

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train

In June 2023, eight new suites will be unveiled aboard the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train. Two original 1920s and 30s carriages, accommodating just four suites on each car, will be carefully restored, their design inspired by pastoral European landscapes and featuring plush fabrics and furnishings from renowned brands and makers like Majorelle, Dufrene, Leleu, Rousseau, and Lalique.  The La Forêt Suites will evoke Germany’s Black Forest, while the La Campagne Suites will be adorned with rich velvet greens and intricate flower marquetry in homage to Northern Italy’s rolling pastures and vineyards. Les Montagnes Suites will mirror the mountainous peaks of Austria’s Arblerg massig, and Les Lacs Suites will reflect the serene beauty of the likes of Lake Zug in Switzerland and Lake Como in Italy. The suites are portals to the golden day of train travel, with luxuries like private marble ensuite bathrooms and lounging areas that transform into either double or twin beds by night. Additional amenities might include personal 24-hour cabin stewards, complimentary kimonos and slippers, and free-flowing champagne. Cheers!

Images Courtesy of Belmond: https://we.tl/t-XGDz3pabSI

Gili Private Reserve

A Robinson Crusoe fantasy come to life, the Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi is the world’s largest overwater villa, stretching across the Indian Ocean in multi-level tiers. Guests spend their days lounging by the infinity-edge pool and in the overwater catamaran nets; working out in the air-conditioned gym; pampering themselves with treatments at the private couples’ spa (complete with a steam room and indoor/outdoor treatment rooms); and sliding down the top-deck waterslide into turquoise waters. Running late on dinner reservations? Luckily guests of Gili Private Reserve have access to their own speed boat, which they can use to travel around the resort or farther afield. By night, enjoy movie screenings at the private cinema, and retire in the guestrooms (of which there are two en suite master bedrooms and a guest suite), which have doors that open to the breathtaking scenery. Other perks of the Private Reserve include a fully equipped kitchen and the option to curate your own wine selection from the 400-label cellar.

Images Courtesy of Gili Lankanfushi: https://we.tl/t-yvZQxT8FTJ

Master Casita at Paradero Todos Santos

Guests of Paradero’s indulgent Master Casita can do as much (or as little) as they want, enjoying access to all the resort’s immersive experience from energizing morning yoga, and taco tours, to farming tutorials, cliffside champagne tastings, and sunset walks. No matter what activities they partake in, guests will come back to the ultimate hideaway in Todos Santos: spread over three floors and designed to feel like a luxurious home away from home, the Master Casita comes with a kitchenette, a spacious dining room, and a plunge pool and suspended “star net” with 360-degree views of the mountains, the Las Palmas Beach, and the La Mesa farming fields. Like all of Paradero’s suites, the Master Casita embraces triangular geometries—a sacred symbol of the Mayan culture–to promote a sense of balance and wellbeing.

Images Courtesy of Paradero Todos Santos: https://we.tl/t-8k9RYFxaLW

 

New Ponant and Smithsonian Journeys Expedition From Indonesia to Australia, Timed to Solar Eclipse April 9-24, 2023

August 16th, 2022

PONANT is collaborating with Smithsonian Journeys on a series of co-branded sailings for 2023. Each of the 21 itineraries will be led by two Smithsonian Journey Experts—whether an art historian, a solar astrophysicist, or an international relations expert—whose expertise and knowledge will shed new light on a destination and deepen travelers’ immersion in place.

Among the new sailings is a 16-day sailing to eastern Indonesia, East Timor, and the Kimberley region of Australia, timed to the total eclipse of the sun that will take place on April 20, 2023—one of only five total solar eclipses remaining worldwide this decade. Smithsonian Journey Experts, Associate Director of Science at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Alex Young and Australian-American historian Craig Benjamin, will guide guests’ viewing of this spectacular three-plus hour cosmic event and other trip programming. Rates start at $20,480 per person.

Setting sail from Bali, the trip begins with two days of swimming, snorkeling, and sightings of mythical Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park, followed by two days discovering the cultural and natural wonders of East Timor—from soaking up the Portuguese heritage and arts and crafts scene of the capital, Dili, to discovering the small villages that line the east coast of Baucau. A highlight is exploring the Coral Triangle and its abundant coral reefs.

After crossing the Timor Sea, guests will arrive in Wyndham, the northernmost township of Western Australia and the gateway to the Kimberley region. Often referred to as the “Antarctica of the tropics,” the Kimberley is a vast, remote region larger than 75 percent of the world’s countries, with rushing waterfalls, white sandy beaches, dense mangrove forests, rugged sandstone gorges, and the largest population of migrating humpback whales on the planet. Your first three days will include Zodiac tours of King George River (including the 260-foot-high King George Twin Falls) and viewings of aboriginal Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock art of Swift Bay. Other options include cruising the Ord River, flying over the Bungle Bungle mountains, and exploring the El Questro outback station, one of the world’s last remaining frontiers.

From there, Le Lapérouse will sail back into the Timor Sea to stage herself in an advantageous position for viewing the solar eclipse, which will take place from late morning to early afternoon on April 20, with an approximate period of totality of just over one minute.

Following the spectacular cosmic event, the journey continues with three more days in the Kimberley region, beginning with the landscapes of Collier Bay, where tidal ranges exceeding 45 feet have created dramatic landscapes and natural phenomena, like the Montgomery Reef, the world’s largest in-shore reef system. At the southern end of the Bay is the world’s only “Horizontal Falls,” described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the greatest wonders of the natural world,” where tidal movements create a waterfall effect between narrow gorges. On the second-to-last day, you’ll head to the Lacepede Islands, a rich breeding habitat for Green Turtles, Brown Boobies, Lesser Frigatebirds, and other species. Guided zodiac tours will offer close-up views of the wildlife and the four sand islands.  The trip concludes in Broome, on the far north coast of Western Australia.

About PONANT

PONANT’s “Explore to Inspire” mission is centered around exploration to better understand, learn, share and protect. For more than 30 years, PONANT has been committed to more responsible tourism and voyages of exploration which have meaning. The French-flagged fleet comprises 13 small capacity ships equipped with state of the art environmentally friendly equipment. With PONANT, exploration is refined, authentic and a source of inspiration. The company explores the Arctic and the Antarctic as well as in the Atlantic and North Europe, Mediterranean, Middle East, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Asia, Oceania and South Pacific, the Caribbean, North, Central and South America. For more information, visit  https://us.ponant.com or 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 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries.  Two of the 21 museums – the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum – are in the early planning stages. 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. www.smithsonian.org

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, Smithsonianstore.com, and Smithsonian magazine, which reaches 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. In addition to ocean cruises with PONANT, Smithsonian Journeys offers small-group land journeys, river cruises, active journeys, cultural stays, private jet trips, tailor-made journeys for the independent traveler, and student travel programs. For more information visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org or call 1-855-330-1542.

 

New 2023 PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys Expedition in Panama and Costa Rica

August 9th, 2022

NEW PONANT AND SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS EXPEDITION IN PANAMA AND COSTA RICA, FEBRUARY 11-FEBRUARY 18, 2023

 

PONANT is collaborating with Smithsonian Journeys on a series of co-branded sailings for 2023. Each of the 21 itineraries will be led by two Smithsonian Journey Experts—whether an art historian, a solar astrophysicist, or an international relations expert—whose expertise and knowledge will shed new light on a destination and deepen travelers’ immersion in place.

 

Among the new sailings is an eight-day cruise aboard Le Bellot to Panama and Costa Rica. The immersive journey will combine a crossing of the Panama Canal, snorkeling and swimming on the beautiful Holandes Cayes, excursions in the Darién and Manuel Antonio National Parks, and encounters with local Indigenous communities—plus a specially arranged visit to the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), an open-air museum dedicated to tropical science and conservation. Back on the ship, expect inspiring talks and informative events led by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts, including climate leader Steve Paton, who has spent his career monitoring the climate and oceans of the tropics.

 

After setting off from Colón, Panama’s colorful port city, Le Bellot will journey to the San Blas archipelago, made up of more than 300 islands and home to approximately 40,000 members of the Kuna community, one of the most powerful Indigenous groups in the Western Hemisphere. From there, you’ll cross the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, the world’s most important waterway, before exploring the capital’s atmospheric Old Quarter, the Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo, and the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). There, staff will share the latest research related to marine science and guests will observe rare species up close.

 

Next, you’ll sail to the Darién National Park, set in the wildest and most remote part of Panama. The UNESCO World Heritage site is a natural playground of sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, and tropical forests, as well as the home of the Emberá Amerindian community. Guests will visit their tropical village, admiring beautiful local crafts and enjoying traditional songs and dances.

 

The last stretch of the trip takes place in Costa Rica, starting in the spectacular Manuel Antonio National Park, a tropical reserve known for its variety of wildlife like sloths, howler monkeys, and toucans. Then Le Bellot will make her way to Puerto Caldera, the point of disembarkation, a gateway to the magnificent Arenal Volcano.

 

Rates start at $6,030 per person.

 

ABOUT PONANT

PONANT’s “Explore to Inspire” mission is centered around exploration to better understand, learn, share and protect. For more than 30 years, PONANT has been committed to more responsible tourism and voyages of exploration which have meaning. The French-flagged fleet comprises 13 small capacity ships equipped with state of the art environmentally friendly equipment. With PONANT, exploration is refined, authentic and a source of inspiration. The company sails to the Arctic and the Antarctic as well as in the Atlantic and North Europe, Mediterranean, Middle East, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Asia, Oceania and South Pacific, the Caribbean, North, Central and South America. For more information, visit  https://us.ponant.com or 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 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries.  Two of the 21 museums – the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum – are in the early planning stages. 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. www.smithsonian.org

 

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, Smithsonianstore.com, and Smithsonian magazine, which reaches 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. In addition to ocean cruises with PONANT, Smithsonian Journeys offers small-group land journeys, river cruises, active journeys, cultural stays, private jet trips, tailor-made journeys for the independent traveler, and student travel programs. For more information visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org or call 1-855-330-1542.

 

5 Favorite Indulgent Accommodations Around the Globe

August 2nd, 2022

A room with a view is always nice. But the world’s most indulgent accommodations go beyond sweeping vistas to offer sumptuous interiors, next-level service, and a dash of the unexpected—from a romantic open-air treehouse in Kruger National Park to a butler-serviced private riad in Marrakech complete with lavish rooftop terrace and home cinema. Take a peek inside:

Grand Riad at Royal Mansour

A four-bedroom oasis spread across three floors, this “medina within a medina” offers palatial-style design, private butler service, and a terracotta roof terrace inlaid with mosaics and offering sweeping views of the Atlas Mountain. Interiors are a vision of stucco lace, heavy drapery, Murano chandeliers, and a riotous mix of colorful wallpaper and precious stones. The ground floor opens onto a private garden with a retractable roof, while a cast iron elevator whisks you to the floors above, where each of the bedrooms has dressing rooms and private bathrooms. Other spaces include a dining room with billiards, a library for artful lounging, a neoclassical-style dining room, and the roof terrace with a plunge pool, Bedouin tent, and hammam.

Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi

A Robinson Crusoe fantasy come to life, the Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi is the world’s largest overwater villa, stretching across the Indian Ocean in multi-level tiers. Guests spend their days lounging by the infinity-edge pool and in the overwater catamaran nets; working out in the air-conditioned gym; pampering themselves with treatments at the private couples’ spa (complete with a steam room and indoor/outdoor treatment rooms); and sliding down the top-deck waterslide into turquoise waters. By night, enjoy movie screenings at the private cinema, and retire in the guestrooms (of which there are two en suite master bedrooms and a guest suite), which have doors that open to the breathtaking scenery. Other perks of the Private Reserve include a fully-equipped kitchen and the option to curate your own wine selection from the 400-label cellar.

Ian Fleming Villa at GoldenEye

Situated within the GoldenEye resort, this villa is tucked away in a private garden, where it’s hidden by tall trees and tropical foliage. It’s here that acclaimed British novelist Ian Fleming wrote all 14 James Bond books, inspired by the lush scenery and the three-bedroom villa he designed to his own specifications. A dedicated butler is on hand to make your every wish a reality, while a chef can whip up Jamaican specialties and martinis (shaken, never stirred) to be enjoyed in outdoor settings like a sunken garden or on the private beach, where there’s a grill built into the side of a rocky cliff. Each of the villa’s three bedrooms has its own tropical garden area with a clawfoot tub and a garden shower, setting the scene for relaxation en plein air. There are also two private stand-alone one-bedroom cottages on site for larger groups or families.

Producer Suite at The Chatwal New York

Guests of the Producer Suite will feel they’ve traveled back in time to New York’s heyday. Designed by French architect Thierry Despont, the expansive suite harks back to the city’s Art Deco past with its bold colors, geometric shapes, and a spiral staircase that spans two floors, leading to a panoramic roof terrace with views spanning over west 44th street and Manhattan’s skyline. Stretch out on a lounger enjoying the vistas of the city’s most iconic landmarks, and order room service for the ultimate New York power lunch. Butler services ensures you won’t have to lift a finger.

andBeyond Ngala Treehouse

It’s impossible not to feel a sense of child-like wonder as you sleep under the stars at the Ngala Treehouse, surrounded by the wilds of Kruger National Park. The four-floor treehouse offers the ultimate thrill—of being one with nature—while drifting off to the sights and sounds of the forest, far from the distraction of civilization. Enjoy sundowner drinks and a starlit dinner picnic on the upper deck, then retire to the elevated sleep-out platform for sleeping outdoors under a retractable screen (there’s also a covered and weatherproof space should you want to move indoors). And just because you’re off the grid doesn’t mean you have to go without the conveniences of a hot shower or a flushing toilet. Talk about the best of both worlds!

 

Where to Learn About Sustainability While Traveling – Our Top 9 Picks

July 27th, 2022

There’s infinite wisdom to be gained from the world of travel. One area where travel can be particularly impactful is sustainability. By integrating travelers into communities, instilling a deep reverence toward natural landscapes, and opening minds through fun, educational programming, travel has the capacity to effect lasting change long after a trip has ended. Here are nine hotels, tour operators, and destinations that are combining impact and inspiration in game-changing ways.

 

andBeyond

When it comes to conservation tourism, andBeyond is in a league of its own. Since its founding in 1991, the brand has secured some of the tourism industry’s conservation firsts: the reintroduction of cheetah to andBeyond Phinda, the groundbreaking translocation of 19 guar at India’s Bandhavgarh National Park, and the Rhinos Without Borders initiative that saw the relocation of 100+ rhinos from the highest poaching zones in South Africa. By staying at andBeyond’s 33 lodges and camps and opting for its tailor made tours and small group journeys, travelers are not only supporting these crucial initiatives across three continents, but also making history. Participate in the pioneering Pangolin conservation experience in a region where the species has been locally extinct for decades. Listen to legendary conservation leaders like Les Carlisle tell you about his decades of experience rewilding destinations around the world. Inspire a younger generation of conservationists by enrolling young visitors in the WILDchild Eco-Guide Challenge, which might include learning bushman skills like catch-and-release fishing, animal tracking, and identifying species of plants and animals.

 

Le Commandant Charcot

PONANT’s latest addition to its fleet is the world’s first luxury hybrid electric polar exploration ship that’s powered by electric battery and liquified natural gas, a non-toxic source that has the best safety records of all fuel types. With eight departures for the summer 2022 and 2023 Arctic season, Le Commandant Charcot offers guests the chance to venture to the farthest reaches of the globe, where they can participate in citizen science experiments, learn about the conservation initiatives, and tour remote landscapes with a team of naturalist-guides. For example, on a 16-day itinerary to the Geographic North Pole, the most northern point of the Earth’s axis of rotation, one activity is setting up a research station on an ice floe and deploying an Argos transmitter (a satellite-based system that collects and disseminates environmental data). Meanwhile, in Antarctica, on the 30-day journey Unexplored Antarctica Between Two Continents—an all-new and unrivaled half-circumnavigation between the far south of the American continent to New Zealand—guests will deepen their knowledge of the world’s most remote locales through expert-led lectures and excursions guided by naturalists, like observing isolated colonies of emperor penguins on coastal areas along the Bellingshausen Sea. When in battery mode, Le Commandant Charcot can sail for up to eight hours at a time without producing any emissions and with very low noise levels, so as to not disrupt aquatic life.

 

Paradero

Hands-on sustainable farming tutorials. Cooking classes with ingredients grown in the garden. A hike through the UNESCO-protected biosphere reserves along the Baja California Peninsula. At Paradero Todos Santos, an 80 percent landscape project and hospitality concept developed by Mexican entrepreneurs Pablo Carmona and Josh Kremer, education has never been so fun—or scenic. The property is spread across five acres in the unspoiled La Mesa farming community, an agricultural area comprising 160 acres of family-owned farms, and located at the doorstop of five distinct ecosystems, including the Sierra de La Laguna Mountain range, and a 200-year-old cordon cacti forest. Every activity at Paradero is designed to immerse guests in these spectacular landscapes and promote a deeper, more authentic connection to the land and the local community. Ultimately, these skills will generate greater self-awareness—encouraging guests to embody the values of Paradero long after a trip has ended.

 

Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town

Situated at the base of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain and spread across nine acres of lush gardens, Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel offers the rare experience of being amid nature in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. The reverence toward the natural world is reflected in the property’s range of unique activities and experiences, like the Fynbos Sunset Walk, a hike that begins just steps from the hotel and winds through one of the most biologically diverse regions on earth with over 9,000 plant species, nearly 70 percent are native to the Western Cape. Belmond guests also enjoy private access to shark scientist Justin Blake for a private ocean boating and snorkeling expedition to explore the underwater world that surrounds Cape Town’s coast.  During the half-day excursion, swim through the Cape kelp forests, recently listed as a new Seven Wonder of the World, and the octopus gardens of Oscar-award winning documentary “My Octopus Teacher,” offering to gain a greater understanding of the importance of sharks in maintaining the delicately balanced marine ecosystems. Back on boat, dine on a sustainable seafood-inspired picnic created by Mount Nelson’s Chef Rudi Liebenberg, featuring delicacies sourced from ABALOBI, a South African-based social enterprise supporting small-scale fishing communities globally.

 

UXUA Casa Hotel

Built by local artisans over a two-year period using traditional building methods and reclaimed materials (nothing is sourced beyond a five-mile radius of Trancoso), UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa is literally built on a sustainable foundation. The property’s influence goes beyond the hotel’s walls, though. At VIDA Lab, the on-site nutritional laboratory and medical kitchen, medical director Dr. Jullian Hamamoto transforms local plants and botanicals—from the on-site garden, the nearby Itaporoca beach, and the 50-acre UXUA ROÇA farm—into healing elixirs and beautifying therapies. Guests can go foraging with Dr. Jullian to learn about the significance of these ingredients, many of which are sacred to Brazil’s Indigeous Pataxó people. At the on-site atelier, guests can interact with local craftspeople and give input into products they’d like made, like kaftans and kimonos made by local weavers. Another notable activity is a capoeira lesson by a professor at the local Capoeira Sul Da Bahia school, which is dedicated to the preservation and study of the centuries-old martial art. One hundred percent of the proceeds for each lesson is donated to the school, and guests can also join in public class sessions with local youth.

 

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is at the forefront of sustainability in wine—the region is home to 40 percent of all certified sustainable wineries in California. Established in 1976, the Land Trust of Napa County protects more than 55,000 acres, roughly 10 percent of Napa County, ensuring the preservation of the land. No other wine region in the world has something like it. Local vintners work with more than 20 industry and environmental stakeholder groups to promote responsible business development and environmental stewardship.  What this means for visitors? Plenty of wide-open vistas and sustainably made wine, for one. There’s also an extensive range of activities that promote deeper engagement with Napa’s landscapes. The Napa Valley Bike Trail, for example, is a walking/cycling trail system that will connect the entire region, offering 47 continuous miles of level, paved, dog-friendly trail. Another way to see the sights: motoring around the region with Green Dream Tours, a carbon-neutral business that whisks visitors to sustainable wineries in the region, like Starmont Wines in St. Helena, where they’ll learn about their sustainable processes and techniques.

 

Nayara Resorts

The five properties that make up Naya Resorts’ portfolio are each located in a spectacular corner of Latin American—from the green valley in the Atacama Desert; Easter Island, one of the most remote places on earth; and the three Costa Rican properties, which are spread over a mountainside facing the majestic Arenal Volcano. With these sublime natural locations comes ample opportunity to learn about these precious ecosystems and the wildlife therein. In Costa Rica, for example, where Nayara planted over 1,000 Cecropia trees—the sloth’s made food source—guests can visit the sloth sanctuary to watch and learn about these creatures and various conservation efforts. While in Atacama, guests can discover the Salar of Atacama with a naturalist guide, navigating its rock formations and watching flamingos fly across the open sky.

 

Gili Lankanfushi

​​Located in the Maldives’ North Malé Atoll, one of the world’s most spectacular and fragile natural environments, Gili Lankanfushi takes great strides to protect its rich marine diversity and safeguard its surroundings for generations to come. Later this year, the resort will unveil a new Marine Biology Center, with a cutting-edge research space and the expansion of the coral nursery. The resort’s primary marine research facility, the lab is where guests can learn from Gili’s team of marine biologists, participating in coral reef cleaning and collecting vital information that benefits organizations like the Marina Research Center. Guests can even help rehabilitate damaged coral by nursing coral on ropes (lines) and transplanting them onto degraded reef areas—an initiative that Gili launched way before it was popular in the Maldives.

 

La Samanna, A Belmond Hotel, St. Martin

While a beach vacation conjures up visions of sunbathing on velvety shores, guests of La Samanna, A Belmond Hotel can combine seaside bliss and sustainable education. The Escape to Tintamarre experience entails a boat ride to the uninhabited Tintamarre island, in the Saint Martin Nature Reserve, home to rare hawksbill turtles and stingrays. A local marine conservationist will educate guests about the rich marine fauna and local sustainability efforts. Or visitors can venture up the St. Martin’s tallest peaks with a local nature guide, pausing to soak up sweeping island views and admire colorful plants and animals.

 

 

Will Travel for Swimming Pools? Our Top 8 Picks:

July 27th, 2022

Nothing signals ‘vacation mode’ quite like lounging by a pool, listening to the sounds of trickling water as you take in the surrounding scenery. It doesn’t matter if you’re swimming laps on the 47th floor of a Tokyo skyscraper or taking in coastal views from an infinity pool on the Amalfi Coast—there’s something about being near water that immediately energizes the body and soothes the spirit. Here are 8 pools that make the biggest splash.

 

Park Hyatt Tokyo

The ultimate antidote to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s streets? A refreshing dip in the pool of Park Hyatt Tokyo. With skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows, the pool gives the impression of swimming high above the Japanese capital, with 47th-floor views of the skyline and the snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance.  Stretch out on a lounger around the 65-foot pool and order a drink and light bites. It’s worth hanging around until nighttime, admiring the lights of the city while soaking in the warm waters.

 

Nayara Tented Camp

At Costa Rica’s Nayara Tented Camp, guests have their pick of seven pools, all fed by hot springs and looking out to lush jungle scenery and the majestic Arenal Volcano. Each pool ranges in temperature, allowing guests to cool down on hotter days and warm up when the sun goes down. Thirsty? Ask the bartender to hand whip up a Guaro Sour or an iced Costa Rican coffee.

Don’t miss a nighttime swim, with twinkling stars overhead and the nocturnal sounds of the rainforest filling the warm air.

 

UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa

Not all pools are created equal. Take the pool at UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa in Trancoso, Brazil. Lined with 45,000 green aventurine quartz crystals—a native Bahian stone that’s said to have healing qualities— the shimmering pool resembles a natural lagoon that’s shaded by lush greenery and fragrant flowers. Add to the pool’s therapeutic effects by supplementing your swim with a Bahian hot stone massage at the spa.

 

Le Commandant Charcot

The world’s first luxury icebreaker ship is designed to travel through the globe’s iciest, most remote locations like the Antarctic Polar Circle. But don’t be fooled by its ruggedness—the ship has no shortage of luxe amenities, like a heated indoor swimming pool with a large glass roof and a sunroom looking out to the frozen scenery. Extra-intrepid guests can venture outdoors to the heated Blue Lagoon swimming pool, which wraps around the stern of the ship. The waters are heated from 80 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit using recycled energy from the ship. Snag a spot around the giant outdoor fire pit (as a plus, the armchairs are also heated) and order a selection of sweet and savory bites from 11 AM – 6 PM.

Caruso, A Belmond Hotel, Ravello

Italy’s Amalfi Coast is spoiled for breathtaking scenery, but there’s no perch more picturesque than the heated infinity pool at Caruso, A Belmond Hotel. Seemingly suspended between the sea and the sky, the pool is situated at the hotel’s highest point, an astonishing 1,000 feet above sea level. Swim up to the pool’s edge and take in panoramic views of steep cliffs that plunge into the Tyrrhenian Sea. After toweling off, ask the pool concierge to bring you a Kindle with a selection of reading material, or an iPod pre-loaded with the guest’s choice of music.

 

Palacio Nazarenas, A Belmond Hotel, Cusco

As a former Incan temple turned conquistador’s mansion, Palacio Nazarenas, A Belmond Hotel, is one of Cusco’s most singular stays. It’s also home to the city’s first and only outdoor heated pool, located beyond Inca walls in a cloistered terrace. Swim laps while marveling at the building’s Spanish colonial architecture, then order a Pisco Sour from the poolside Senzo Bar. Don’t miss salsa lessons on the pool deck on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings and live electronic Andean music on Friday night.

 

Indian Springs Calistoga, Napa Valley

Did you know California’s premier wine country is home to one of the Golden State’s largest natural hot springs? At Calistoga’s Indian Springs, travelers come from far and wide to soak in warm waters that have provided therapeutic relief for thousands of years. Napa’s original inhabitants, the members of the Wappo tribe, built sweat lodges over the area’s bubbling thermal geysers; in the 1860s, notable Californian Sam Brannan created the original spa, volcanic mud baths, and water plunge (now an Olympic-sized mineral pool heated to 92-102 degrees Fahrenheit). After your swim, explore the 17 acres of hills and ponds, lined with olive and pool trees and rose and lavender bushes.

 

La Reserve Paris

A Parisian sojourn isn’t always conducive to wellness (croissants, anyone?). But at La Réserve Paris, guests can easily keep up with their wellness routines at the oasis-like spa, complete with a 16-meter indoor pool, a hammam, a fitness area, and three treatment rooms for facials and body treatments. Open 24/7 for hotel guests, it is easy to squeeze in a couple laps at the pool before carrying on your day. The pool area can also be bought out for the ultimate in privacy and relaxation.

 

Ponant Unveils Le Ponant Following Complete Refit

July 25th, 2022

The reimagined three-masted sailing yacht will debut in August 2022

In August 2022, PONANT will debut the iconic three-masted sailing yacht Le Ponant following a complete refit by Jean-Philippe Nuel Studio. The 88-meter sailing yacht will relaunch in the Mediterranean with 10 departures and three new itineraries, followed by winter 2022-23 in the Seychelles and summer 2023 in western Australia’s Kimberley region.

With just 16 staterooms and suites accommodating a maximum of 32 guests, Le Ponant offers a 1:1 staff-to-guest ratio—making guests feel like they’re aboard a private yacht. Cabins are spread over three decks, each with large windows overlooking the sea, while the muted color palette lends an air of understated elegance.

An ode to art of slow travel, relax on the sun lounge looking up to the billowing white sails, order a drink from the outdoor bar, and enjoy organic dishes at the gastronomic dining destination Le Diamant. The wellness space offers Biologique Recherche treatments, and daily yoga sessions are held on the deck. With glass-bottomed kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, diving and snorkeling equipment, and a saltwater pool, there’s no shortage of activities.

Outfitted with the latest environmental innovations including a SCR filter system that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 90%, Le Ponantrepresents PONANT’s enduring commitment toward responsible tourism. Other sustainability-centered initiatives include non-motorized water-based activities, individual and small-group disembarkations only, an emphasis on local, organic products, and periods of sailing using just wind power.

The intimate-size vessel offers access to less-traveled sites and new ports of calls. Each journey is an immersion into the destination to learn about the local culture as well as connect with the vibrant flora and fauna in the Mediterranean, the Seychelles, and Australia’s Kimberley region throughout 2022 and 2023.

Summer 2022 in the Mediterranean

The first voyage will depart on August 14 with a seven-night itinerary along Croatia’s coastline, from Dubrovnik through the Bay of Kotor, then to the Adriatic islands of Mljet, Korčula, Vis, Hvar, Brač, Šipan, and Lopud. Activities include wine tasting, traditional sword dance performances, visits with local artists, diving excursions to World War II shipwrecks, and a tour of the oldest fishing port in the Adriatic. Prices start at $10,890 per person.

In August, Le Ponant will depart on a seven-day island-hopping journey around Greece. Beginning in Dubrovnik, the yacht will set sail toward the Ionian and Aegean Seas, stopping in the islands of Paxos, which is only available to smaller ships; Kefalonia, characterized by limestone cliffs and white sandy beaches; the fortified peninsula of Monemvasia, in the southeastern Peloponnese; and Kythnos, one of the region’s lesser-known islands with over 100 beaches. Prices start at $9,980 per person.

In September, Le Ponant will circle around Greece’s Cycladic islands on an eight-day itinerary beginning and ending in Athens. PONANT guests will enjoy unique access to exclusive ports of call on Tinos, Polyaigos, Folegandros, Monemvasia, Kythnos, and Spetses, due to the intimate size of Le Ponant. Prices start at $13,110 per person.

Please find all Summer 2022 departures linked here.

Winter 2022-23 in the Seychelles

New for this year is “The Seychelles Under the Trade Winds” itinerary, with 11 departures on Le Ponant during the 2022-2023 season. Sailing roundtrip from Mahé, the nine-night itinerary explores a new island each day, including two new ports of call for PONANT—the African Banks north of the Amirante Islands and Thérèse Island, both of which are uninhabited and will be available to PONANT guests for the day. An on-board expedition leader, a trio of naturalist guides, and a free dive instructor will be on hand to lead excursions and shine light on the spectacular flora and fauna of the Seychelles. Activities include scuba diving, free diving initiation, sunrise and sunset yoga, meditation, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and outings in glass-bottomed kayaks. Rates start from $10,890 per person.

Please find all Winter 2022-23 departures linked here.

Summer 2023 in Australia

In summer 2023, Le Ponant will set sail for Australia’s northwest with 26 departures to Kimberley’s coast, which is often referred to as the “Antarctica of the tropics.” The Kimberley is a vast, remote region with rushing waterfalls, white sandy beaches, dense mangrove forests, rugged sandstone gorges, and the largest population of migrating humpback whales on the planet. State-of-the-art Zodiac boats will enable guests to reach hard-to-access points, while an exclusive partnership with the prestigious Paspaley Group will offer private scenic flights onboard one of the brand’s vintage Grumman Mallard flying boats to whisk guests to or from their embarkation or disembarkation point. Guests can opt to explore the Northern or Southern Kimberley Coast, with rates starting at $12,930 per person.

Please find all Summer 2023 departures linked here.

ABOUT PONANT

PONANT’s “Explore to Inspire” mission is centered around exploration to better understand, learn, share and protect. For more than 30 years, PONANT has been committed to more responsible tourism and voyages of exploration which have meaning. The French-flagged fleet comprises 13 small capacity ships equipped with state of the art environmentally friendly equipment. With PONANT, exploration is refined, authentic and a source of inspiration. The company explores the Arctic and the Antarctic as well as in the Atlantic and North Europe, Mediterranean, Middle East, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Asia, Oceania and South Pacific, the Caribbean, North, Central and South America. For more information, visit  https://us.ponant.com or call 1-844-747-2873 or contact your travel advisor.

Renderings of Le Ponant linked here.

 

News from the Vines: Winter 2020

November 30th, 2020

What’s Happening in Napa Valley


While it’s no secret that Napa Valley has faced some challenges this year, the region is open to visitors and the spirit is stronger than ever. The Glass Fire that broke out in September is now 100 percent contained and most of Napa County’s 45,000 acres of vine were not impacted. For those wondering how to help, the best way to support the community and its members is to visit. And the timing couldn’t be better. As harvest closes out this month, travelers will be welcomed with the start of Cabernet Season – the best time to visit for those in the know. From November through April, summer heat is replaced with perfectly mild temperatures – think warm days, cool nights, and blue skies. The pace slows down and foliage is at eye level as the vines become dormant along Silverado Trail. (Leaf peeping is not just on the east coast!) Brilliant yellow wild mustard flowers are scattered through the vineyards and along country lanes. During this time of year, visitors can more easily nab reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants. Greater access to wineries is another bonus with more opportunities to meet winemakers and receive impromptu glimpses behind the scenes.

What’s New in Wine (and Spirit) Tastings
These tastings are shaking up the scene in Napa Valley, with freshly designed spaces and new experiences with an emphasis on privacy. 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. 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. Space to watch: Yountville’s Baldacci Family Vineyards will open a new hospitality center in March 2021, featuring new private tasting rooms, a wine bar, and an outdoor patio overlooking wine country vistas.

Neighborhoods to Watch
Calistoga
Calistoga, the northern most town in Napa Valley – famed as a wine-meets-spa destination thanks to its geothermal waters – is in the limelight thanks to a crop of new hotels and multi-million-dollar resort renovations. Four Seasons Resort & Residences will open this winter with 85-rooms and an on-site vineyard and tasting room – a rarity in Napa Valley.  As a nod to Calistoga’s wellness roots, the property will offer an eight-room spa with steam pods in which hammocks will be suspended above geo-thermal pools for guests to absorb the heated vapor.  Coming soon, Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, originally built in 1952, will unveil a large-scale renovation. Considered one of the first resorts in Calistoga and known for its mud bath treatments, the property’s new look will include a Southwestern-inspired restaurant, House of Better. This December, Solage, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, will unveil a $30 million-dollar renovation overseen by architect Howard Backen – considered the creator of “Napa Valley Style” – and Los Angeles-based interior design agency Studio Collective. In addition to 11 new accommodations, Solbar - their signature restaurant – will double the size of the patio for outdoor dining and the new PicoBar, with light bites and cocktails, will sit next to an enlarged pool deck with contemporary loungers and cabanas.

Downtown Napa
Spanning three buzzy blocks in the heart of Downtown Napa, First Street Napa is an ever-growing hub for shopping, dining, and tasting. Known for its locally owned boutiques and independent restaurants and wineries, the district has recently welcomed a surge of new shops like C’est La Paire for chic boots and handbags; The Bennington Napa Valley for vintage finds; and Copperfield’s Books, a mainstay store returning to First Street. The first standalone tasting room dedicated solely to luxury California brandies, California Brandy House, will open on First Street on November 6, 2020 for outdoor tastings. The new concept will debut with two leading brandy portfolios, Germain-Robin and Argonaut. Visitors will be guided through tasting flights, including single-barrel samples that are only available at the tasting space. For those looking for something on the fizzier side, the first and only dedicated Champagne & sparkling wine lounge in Napa Valley, Be Bubbly, has just opened its doors. Over in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market (a 40,000-square-foot marketplace with an expansive outdoor deck along the Napa River), Bar Lucia opened this summer from owner behind Kara’s Cupcakes. Highlights of the bar include rosé and sparkling wines paired with seasonal bites. Founder Kara Haspel Lind named the bar after her great grandmother and her daughter, honoring the traditions passed down through five generations of women in her family. For those visitors who are overwhelmed with options across the region, a brand-new Napa Valley Welcome Center will open on November 12 as a resource for itinerary-planning. New technology will provide visitors insider tips in a no-touch manner, and a 16-foot video wall will offer a taste of Napa Valley travel inspiration to pedestrians along First Street through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Looking Ahead to 2021
Black History Month – February 2021
In honor of Black History Month in February, travelers to Napa Valley can explore the roots of BIPOC pioneers in the winemaking business and support local initiatives throughout the region. Leaders in the industry include Brown Estate Vineyards, which was the first Black-owned estate winery in Napa and is now best known as one of Napa Valley’s most well-regarded zinfandel producers. Neighboring Okapi Wines is a micro-boutique winery that produces just a few barrels of wine each year. Founder Dan Johnson limits its production to 300 cases per year to maintain sustainable farming practices. Carneros Resort and Spa is offering a Diversity in Wine Flight featuring four wines by vintners and winemakers of color. The tasting flight is available at two of their onsite restaurants with 10% of proceeds being donated to UNCF. To support diversity in the wine industry, Napa Valley Vintners, a nonprofit association representing more than 500 wineries in the region, has partnered with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects including grape growing and winemaking, with $1 million already invested into the program.

Women Winemakers are changing the way we drink wine (and beer!)
The month of March is all about celebrating women with International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. As one of the top viticultural regions, Napa Valley is known for its sprawling vineyards, historic wineries and towns that dot the countryside. It is also home to many women who have made names for themselves throughout the area. To name a few, Elaine St. Clair is the only woman in the U.S. to hold the commercial title of both winemaker and brewer. Kathryn Walt Hall is the force behind HALL Wines and WALT Wines in St. Helena and has been in the Napa wine industry for almost five decades, having also worked as an attorney, community activist, and as the United States Ambassador to Austria. During her 40-year tenure in Napa Valley winemaking, Heidi Barrett, who known as “The First Lady of Wine” is behind California’s most notable cult wines, including Screaming Eagle, which has a starting price of $700 a bottle. Today she’s co-founder of her own label, Barrett & Barrett, where she continues to produce some of the top Cabernet Sauvignons.

 

 

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