Vik Retreats 30% Off Special

Vik Retreats are an exceptional collection of private South American resorts designed for travelers seeking a unique and unrivaled getaway.

Casa Mar, Casa Ebano & Casa Raices side viewTucked away in the serene, bohemian-chic fishing village of José Ignacio, Uruguay, the stylish retreats offer the perfect vantage point to take in the sweeping views of the Uruguayan countryside and a sunset that is said to be the best in the world. Often described as where St. Tropez meets Marlborough Country, José Ignacio and Vik Retreats offer couples an unmatched honeymoon destination marked by breathtaking scenery and inherent romance.

Book Estancia Vik, Playa Vik, or Bahia Vik by June 30th and receive 30% off. 

-Valid for stays at Estancia Vik November 1 – December 20, 2014 & January 15 – April 30, 2015.

-Valid for stays at Playa Vik November 1 – December 20, 2014.

-Valid for stays at Bahia Vik November 1 – December 20, 2014.


+598 (94)60 5212


No cancellations, non refundable. Bookings shall be paid in full before June 30, 2014.  Subject to availability, for individual bookings only. Not available Feb 14-18, 2015 and March 29-April 5, 2015


Estancia with Riders

Turkey’s Turquoise Coast: Exploring Ancient Shores aboard a Gulet with Sea Song

A gulet cruise along the coast of Turkey may be the easy answer to a bucket list vacation in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. This traditional boutique sailing vessel comes decked with crew, luxury rooms, sophisticated menus and plenty to do onboard and off – and you don’t have to be Jackie O to afford it.

GuletSea Song, a known expert in custom land and sea tours to Turkey, has the way to go should snorkeling in private coves be the fantasy and following the winds to ancient sites be the wish.

Aboard a Sea Song gulet, the ultimate experience of this ancient land is created one cloudless day at a time, one secret cove at a time, one unexpected adventure at a time and one yacht-board feast at a time. Travelers sail under the stars, alone with history and possibly a few favorite friends while the crossroads of civilization pass before them.

378504_248311051893931_1264715375_nJust like private yachts, Turkish gulets at Sea Song come in a variety of sizes: they may have two to three masts, three to six cabins, 72 to 124 feet of length and three to eight crew members. The Turkish vessels are locally built using rare woods and age-old crafting skills from this ancient seafaring land. But the interiors have caught up with 21st century design principles for a mélange of sleek finishes, clean lines and clever use of space. It’s a fully inclusive experience, whether going for three days or three weeks, and whether it is a family or couple or party of 12.

Tripping around the 7relaxationareasturquoise coast of Turkey aboard a Turkish gulet with Sea Song feels much like a foundation for a fiction novel – romance, history and all the plot twists. Guests spend their days bronzing on opium beds cooled by sea winds on the open deck. They stop in ravishingly scenic spots to dip and snorkel amid sunken ruins or explore ancient caves marked by intricate facades carved into the sandstone cliffs above the sea. Outcroppings that tumble into the water are not slides of rocks but ruins of places that might have been visited by Homer or Alexander or great armies of the east. And aboard a gulet that traverses narrow inlets and sails up to the shore, guests can steep themselves in the history of place and make stories of their own.

Each vessel offers guests a host of water sports options including water skis, ringo tubes, canoes, windsurfers, snorkeling gear and fishing equipment. Nothing about the voyage is left for guessing.6alfrescodining

Active days of discovery are complemented by romantic nights of stargazing on deck, dining on meals of Mediterranean magic, and toasting with fine spirits from local ouzo to French Champagne.

Aboard a gulet on a vacation arranged by Sea Song, guests are treated to whatever privileges a Sea Song journey can provide: these include private dinners in such living museums as Ephesus, Topkapi Palace or even in a mansion on the Greek island of Symi. As a known expert in land and sea travel through Turkey, Sea Song has helped arrange rare walks through antiquity with noted archaeologists and travels through the past with celebrated historians. The travel company is often the one that is called when journalists or authors require special assistance in their research. For Turkey-bound vacationers, these inside relationships mean rare access 4kingcabinand experiences, and customized requests fulfilled.

Sample Seven-Night Sailing aboard a Sea Song Gulet

While a gulet vacation in Turkey is available by the day with per diem rates, a sample seven-night voyage might be the following:

Embark in Bodrum and cruise from Bodrum Harbor to a nearby bay for swimming and snorkeling.

Day 2: Cruise southwest across the mouth of the Gokova Gulf to the ancient 7th century BC city of Knidos, at the parting of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Lunch and swim and continue to Palumut Bay for the evening, a place known for its almond and thyme-scented honey.8exploringfromgulet

Day 3: Cruise to Datca Harbor for a short drive through the countryside and visit to Kocaev Mansion (a Relais & Chateaux property). The Cave Cellar there offers tastes of fine Turkish wines. Overnight in Datca Harbor or cruise to a nearby peaceful bay.

Day 4: Cruise to the Greek Island of Symi, part of the Dodecanese Islands. The Neo-classical town of Ghialos offers a maze of streets to explore with charming restaurants and local tavernas. Guests can visit a monastery and ancient wine press and overnight in the harbor there.

Day 5: Cruise to Bozukkale and Serce Bays for swimming and lunch. Find beautiful clear waters for snorkeling. Six shipwr12bikingexcursionsecks have been located in these waters dating back more than a thousand years. The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology is worth the visit.

Day 6: 
 Cruise to Ekincik Bay for an optional excursion in ancient Lycia:

  • Mountain biking in the beautiful countryside
  • Explore local villages and Dalyan town
  • Board a riverboat and visit the environmentally protected Dalyan Delta wetlands
  • Ride an open-topped jeep for a tour of the countryside
  • Take a tea break on Olumez Mountain for great views
  • See the Lycian tombs that were carved into the cliff-sides centuries ago.
  • Visit the ruins of Caunos
  • Stop at Turtle Beach for swimming
  • Overnight near to Ekincik Bay in Disibilmez Cove

Day 7: Cruise to the Gulf of Fethiye. Pass Tersane Island to see the remains of abandoned stone houses, some of which are partly submerged. Arrive at Gocek and spend some time exploring the village. Consider having dinner there or head back to the gulet for an onboard feast before disembarking from the gulet on Day 8.

02If a Sea Song journey of Turkey aboard a gulet sounds like the perfect trip or an exciting component of larger plans, these are the questions that, once answered, will ensure it is, indeed, the perfect trip.

  1. How many cabins will be needed?
  2. Should they be double or twin bed arrangements?
  3. What are the dates? May and October = low season; June and September = mid season; July and August = high season
  4. Budget?
  5. Types of vacation mates:  Family, friends, couples?
  6. Is there a desire by the sailing party to visit some of the Greek Islands?
  7. Are there any specific special interests?
  8. What would be the best meal plan:  Full Board or Half Board?


Once questions are answered and concepts clarified, Sea Song will suggest itineraries, experiences, and types of gulets to consider. From there, it is a voyage into antiquity in which old stories come to life and new stories emerge.



Sea Song

Headquarters: Istanbul, Turkey
(90 212) 292 85 55


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Pinterest.


Fabulous Food + Wine + Golf Weekends in New Zealand

The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers & Matakauri Lodge Host Winter Event Series April – October 2014

As the weather gets cooler, the fun heats up at New Zealand’s top luxury lodges. Six fabulous food, wine and golf events offer great value plus plenty of memorable experiences and the chance to meet and learn from some of Australia and New Zealand’s top chefs, personalities and winemakers.

The series kicks off with celebrity chef Pete Evans at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, April 18-20. This award-winning TV star (My Kitchen Rules) and author promises a wonderful Easter weekend around a theme of living life well! With his blue eyes, tan and slim physique, Pete is a great ambassador for healthy living, and he swears that looking great and feeling good does not mean sacrificing flavour and fun. Some of the weekend highlights for guests staying two nights are a morning cooking demonstration with Pete and a Saturday night dinner with dishes from his new book, “Pete Evans Healthy Everyday”, matched to wines from Hawke’s Bay’s Clearview Estate. Winemaker Tim Turvey will co-host the Saturday dinner and match his Clearview Estate wines to each dish.

Cape KidnappersIn May the focus is on golf as The Ladies Golf Classic weekend takes place May 9-11 at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs. This ideal “girls golf getaway” will be hosted by Australian TV personality and golf fanatic Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who promises a fun and “friendly competitive” golf event over three fun-filled days. Aside from great golf on the acclaimed Kauri Cliffs course, there’s time for spa, plus there’s a fabulous Saturday night dinner prepared by Kauri Cliffs Group Executive Chef Dale Gartland where Kerri-Anne will entertain with a few tales from her years interviewing some of the world’s most interesting people. It’s Mother’s Day Weekend – and this would have to be a golfing mother’s dream!

KauriCliffs (3)In June the events shift to the South Island, where Matakauri Lodge plays host to The Champagne Dinner on Saturday June 14 with champagnes provided by Moet & Chandon. Billed as “A Celebration of Good Times” and hosted by the charismatic David Warring from Moet & Chandon, the 5-course dinner prepared by Matakauri Lodge chef Jonathan Rogers will be matched to some sublime current and past champagne vintages including the Moet Grand Vintage 1996. When it comes to style and indulgence, Matakauri Lodge and Moet & Chandon are a fool-proof pairing!

Miz131214_1143July’s big event will feature New Zealand Chef and TV-star Michael Van de Elzen at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, July 18-20. Michael’s hit TV series The Foodtruck cemented his reputation as one of the country’s best-loved celebrity chefs. His menu at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers will be pure gourmet, as he indulges his passion for New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay and its seasonal flavours and wonderful produce. Dinner will be matched to wines from Hawke’s Bay favourite, Te Mata Estate Winery, and Nicholas Buck will tell guests about his family’s esteemed wines. For guests staying two nights, an “up close and personal” cooking demo by Michael will add to the festivities.

Working-sheep-farm Gastronomic heaven surely awaits at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers on September 12-14, when Chef Peter Gilmore from Quay Restaurant, Sydney and winemaker Blair Walter from Felton Road team up for a weekend of food and wine in Hawke’s Bay. A regular on the fabled S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Peter describes his cuisine as “inspired by nature”, and his 5-course menu for the Saturday night dinner is sure to wow guests, especially when thoughtfully matched to Felton Road wines. Guests staying on the Friday night will be treated to a cooking demo by Peter Gilmore on Saturday morning, AND a “mini-masterclass” with Blair Walter tasting six vintages of Felton Road’s sought after Block 3 wines.

capekidnappersThe finale in the Series is the annual Couples Golf Weekend at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers on October 24-26, and for food, wine, and golf, it doesn’t get much better than this! Open to just 26 couples, this friendly, competition over two days and 36 holes of golf is always a fabulous weekend! And one of New Zealand’s most popular and handsome chefs, Josh Emett, will not only play in the tournament but he’ll cook the ultimate finale dinner on Saturday night 25 October as a fitting finale for a truly fun weekend.

The Tariff for all Event Series Food + Wine Weekends for the Saturday night is NZ$800.00 per person +15% GST* per night based on double or twin occupancy. Tariff includes accommodation in a suite with pre-dinner drinks and canapes and the special chef dinner with matched wines, full breakfast, complimentary mini-bar (excludes liquor and wine), and use of all lodge facilities including one 50-minute massage per person during the stay or unlimited green fees*. Additional nights on either side of the Event Series Saturday nights are NZ$600.00 per person per night + 15% GST and include pre-dinner drinks, dinner, and breakfast. Additional nights special rate does not include wine with dinner or spa/golf and the exclusive additional night rate is only available to those participating in the special event.


Waiaua-and-CavallisTariff for both Event Series Golf Weekends for the Friday and Saturday nights is NZ$800.00 per person + 15% GST per night based on double or twin occupancy. A two night minimum stay applies to both tournaments to include tournament entry. Tariff includes accommodation in a suite with pre-dinner drinks and canapes and dinner, full breakfast, complimentary mini-bar (excludes liquor and wine) and use of all lodge facilities including unlimited green fees. Wine with dinner is not included in the tariff. Additional nights on either side of the Friday & Saturday night stay are NZ$600.00 per person per night + 15% GST and include pre-dinner drinks, dinner, and breakfast. Additional nights special rate does not include wine with dinner or spa/golf and the exclusive additional rate is only available to those participating in the special event.

*Golf is only included at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers


For reservations at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs contact ph: +64 9 407 0010 or email

For reservations at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers contact ph: +61 6 875 1900 or email

For reservations at Matakauri Lodge ph: +64 3 441 1008 or email


Fogo Island Inn: Modern Castle on the Cliff of the Earth

If the world were, indeed, flat, travel to Fogo Island off the coast of Newfoundland might be considered an encounter with the cliff. At the edge of this endpoint would be the Fogo Island Inn whose perch on a rock over the roiling North Atlantic would present a perspective like none other.

FogoIsland_Architecture_5087_Photo_Alex_FradkinAnd though the earth is actually round, the view from the Fogo Island Inn is nonetheless as riveting. Whales swim; icebergs from Greenland grace the horizon. Inside the inn all is blonde woods and white boundaries, stark sunlit spaces with intentional interruptions here and there from stunning local works of art.

1779892_10153900911150088_997632815_nTravel to Fogo Island is worth the distance. It was a fishing village over the past two to three centuries but now those saltbox fisherman huts dotting the windswept landscapes are restaurants, galleries and craft workers’ homes where you can drop in and talk about life on the island and even learn a new traditional skill.

_GRE8751But most people travel to Fogo Island to experience the Fogo Island Inn where life seems to stand still between sun rises and settings, where art and local culture collide, where luxury marks its pleasures and sustainability reigns. As Fogo Island builds its reputation as an international artists’ haven (four architecturally acclaimed artist studios built by Canadian — and Norwegian — designer Todd Saunders serve as a magnet for the island’s creative culture), Fogo Island Inn gives added fuel to this movement with a progressive minimalist design, rooms decorated and furnished by local artists and artisans, and a dedicated gallery for curated shows of internationally acclaimed artists.

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland Architect: Todd SaundersThe inn’s 29 thought-intensive suites all have ocean views, all of them spectacular, such as Suite 29 with two banks of floor to ceiling windows that allow in views of the dawn and the dusk. Most of them have wood-burning stoves for an added dose of warmth. Find handmade furnishings, feather quilts and high thread count Frettes under those covers. Spacious whitewashed bathrooms sport heated floors and some bathtubs can be found at the window bank for some divine soaking over the sea.

Room 22Then there is the aromatic Finnish sauna to warm up any chilly afternoon. Fogo Island Inn is as much about cocooning inside an aesthetically magnificent shelter as it is about immersing in a remote island culture that is as rugged and deep as the waters that surround it.

1888628_10153900912035088_1358261504_nThose immersions take place within and without. For instance, dining presents locally sourced fruits of the sea and land mixed into age-old local recipes that bend to chic new urban sensibilities. Chef Murray McDonald, formerly of the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, is a Newfoundland local who gives the cuisine at the Fogo Island Inn some new twists with casual appeal. For instance, cod, an island staple, finds its way into a variety of dishes as do fungi, berries, crab, even moose. The founder of Fogo Island Inn, Zita Cobb, who left the lucrative tech industry to come home to Fogo Island and build this iconic lodge, likes to talk about the island’s “seven seasons,” often reflected in the changing of the menus.

1655964_10153900911195088_118729722_nAnd there is cooking that is found in local island kitchens and often shared with guests of the Fogo Island Inn. As guests enjoy tours of the area offered by local residents, not infrequently those tours happen to drop in on other locals busy with canning or cooking and glad to share their secrets with wayfarers.

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland Architect: Todd SaundersNaturally, guests want to get out and explore the island, which usually includes talks about its history as a fishing village that made a living on cod and now showcases how that landscape has come to accommodate art and craftsmanship. People build their own boats here, grow and forage much of their own food, and love their artworks, which reflect the dramatic landscape of the island. To capture this concept, Saunders built four art studios in spectacular spots along the island’s edges. All are self-sustaining and serve to amplify the beauty and inspire not only the international artists invited to take residency but also the community of like minds that have come to live on Fogo Island.

1966684_10153900911115088_619641450_nActivities include hiking, walking with the inn’s Newfoundland dogs, chef culinary classes, classes in arts and souvenir creations by artists, watching wildlife, winter sports, bicycling, berry picking, swimming, fishing, watching the stars and gazing at the northern lights.

Fogo Island is a place where time slows down and nature takes over. The island has its rhythms and guests are given a chance to get in tune. While the world may not drop away completely, the ends of the earth – or at least the outer reaches of North America – flex their reasons for being.


Getting to Fogo Island:

Flights can arrive in St. John’s International Airport in Newfoundland (YYT) or at Gander International Airport (YQX), where they pick up a charter flight to the island, usually via Evas Air (Fogo Island Inn can arrange). Or visitors can take one of the government-run ferries to the island on a 45-minute trip that also carries cars. Transfers from Gander Airport can easily be arranged.

Seasons on Fogo Island run from freezing with epic gales, to sweet and mild. Average temperatures in July, for instance, run 52 to 69 degrees F.

Room rates start at $875 per couple per night. Rates come with options for full board for an added fee.



Fogo Island Inn

210 Main Road Joe Batt’s Arm
NL A0G 2X0 Canada
(709) 658-3444
(855) 268-9277


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Pinterest.

John Rios of Century Travel on WildChina

John Rios is an International Consultant with Century Travel,  A Virtuoso Agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. The below is his account of his recent trip with destination Specialist, WildChina.


My Journey with WildChina

I arrived in Beijing on March 1.  The Wild China guide was waiting for me outside the baggage area and promptly escorted me to my hotel.  The Opposite House is a very trendy, stylish hotel located on the second ring among all the Embassies and well-known designer shops.  The Opposite House is connected to a great shopping center with unique stores and fashionable restaurants.  The rooms are spacious, the walls covered with a nice yellow wood making the room warm, with elegant, but simple, decorations.  The furniture is made of a shiny honey-colored wood complementing the room.  The bed was quite comfortable. The bathrooms are great – covered in wood floor to ceiling with a massive square wooden bathtub.  I visited the other rooms during the inspections and the decoration was similar.  Their main suite has a big terrace, for private parties, with a great view.  The guide in Beijing that Wild China provided was excellent with superb knowledge of the city and its history, which we all know could be overwhelming.


From Beijing, I flew the 2-hour flight to Xian, and was glad to leave behind the byzantine chaos of Beijing. I stayed at the Shangri-La, again another great property and the only one I would recommend to clients.   The hotel rooms are refined with a great carpet to walk on, and elegant décor, the staff very attentive and expedient room service.  Wild China has special access for the clients at the Terracotta Warriors site, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  I was able to the lower viewing area; typically only open to China’s officials and premiers.


From Xian, I went to Huangshan to see the Yellow Mountains. Huangshan is by far one of the most beautiful places I have visited.   There are no words to describe the mountains and the very ancient villages spread out around the valleys with stone houses and cobblestone lanes. If any of you ever have the chance to visit China or go back to China, please go to see this place. Wild China arranged my accommodations in a hotel located in one of these old villages, the Pig’s Heaven Inn, an old house from the 1300’s.  The rooms are simple but very comfortable with great mattresses.  The bathroom is modern with windows facing different viewing points (mine faced the vegetable garden).  The hotel used to be the house of rich merchants, and the new owners that I meet converted it in a hotel with 10 unique rooms.   The food was excellent and the staff very attentive.


At the top of the Yellow Mountains there is a fabulous hotel call Xi Hai.  I did an inspection and I can tell you it is very nice, the rooms are beautiful looking at the mountains, lots of beautiful polish marble, and a great mix of Chinese modern and old art.  Good restaurants and awesome service. The Yellow Mountains are another UNESCO world heritage site and great destination for photographers and serious hikers and casual amblers. Wild China offers a 13-day program for this region alone.  Tours include visits to historic villages like Hongcun, which I visited.  This is where they filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
We drove 3 hours to Hangzhou.  The drive was not as tiring as I thought, perhaps because the beautiful scenery of rice fields and towering mountains side by side. Hangzhou is another beautiful city along the West lake, very green and the lake is very beautiful. There is a Four Seasons and a Mandarin Oriental in front of the lake.
From there I took  the bullet train to  Shanghai ,  the first class cabin are very  spacious  and comfortable  seats it takes  only  45 minutes to reach Shanghai from Hangzhou. At the train station, Wild China guide was waiting for me.


The Peninsula in Shanghai at the Bund  is just too good to be true.  Extremely beautiful with a great location and the service is the fastest I have experienced in any hotel.  Later I found out that they assign three members of their staff to each room having more than 600 employees.  Clients get free international calls and free fax. Rooms are wonderful (love their modern approach) and the large windows to observe the futuristic landscape of Shanghai and the river.

560559697_bivmi-MFlorence Ma, the director of Wild China in Shanghai, was the guide; she is a Shanghai native so she knows the city well.  She took me to see very interesting places and told me great facts of the city’s history. The Shanghai museum is a must-see for clients, and the Tao Bao City Gift market has the best knocks offs.


From Shanghai, I went to Guilin.  From the hotel to PVG airport, I took the Maglev bullet train.  The train goes 350 Km per hour around  217.00  miles and took  seven minutes to reach the airport, which is great because the traffic in Shanghai can be chaotic; my luggage was  giving to the driver, so I just took my carry one with me and he met me at  the airport with the rest of the luggage.


In Guilin, I stayed at another Shangri-La for the first night, spending the two other nights at the Yangshuo Resort; a four-star hotel with spacious rooms and private balconies by the river with views of the gorgeous mountains.  Wild China arranged for me a great hiking trip and cooking classes while I stayed in these areas.


From Guilin, I flew back to Shanghai and stayed at the new Four Seasons in Pudong with 147 rooms and all above floor 34, with a great view of the city.  I met the general manager, and told him I was originally from Colombia and he said I must meet the Executive Chef who was also from Colombia.  He had just arrived   from Paris after working for 5 years as the Executive Chef at the George V.  He prepared wonderful meal that I never will forget.  The Four Seasons, contrary to what people think, is well located although it is not at the Bund; it has a very quick access to it, about 10 minutes by car. It is great for business people because of its location in the business district.


While in Shanghai, I also visited the Waldorf Astoria (also in the Bund) with a great history.  Rooms are pompous and ornate with English furniture and decoration and massive chandeliers.  Both The Peninsula and The Waldorf offer a great afternoon tea with all the English tradition.

 Waldorf Astoria Club (Heritage Building) facade

Wild China is definitely the company to use for clients when requesting China.  They created a unique way to see China offering high-end, stress-free and responsible travel especially in their remote destinations.

Their guides were so knowledgeable of the history of each region, very attentive and made sure I was comfortable and well taken care of.  Their choices of restaurants were great, especially the ones in Shanghai and Beijing. Overall, China has a lot to offer and we should be able to plan a great trip for our clients.  I can say, with certainty, that Wild China will make it memorable as they did for me.   If anyone would like to know more  about my trip please  be free to contact me.


John Rios


International Consultant

Century Travel A Virtuoso Agency

Atlanta GA 30305

Direct line: 404-324-4024

KAA News Roundup

Many pieces of great news this month from Fogo Island Inn, the newest addition to our portfolio. Outside Magazine named them the “Best New Hotel” in their 2014 Travel Awards. Forbes shared in the praise with their article entitled, “Why A Tiny Canadian Island Should Be Your Next Vacation Destination.“  A luxury travel review by the Telegraph can be found here.  And another shining review from En Route magazine here. The Inn was also awarded the distinction of being named to Travel + Leisure’s It List of the best new hotels for 2014. The food at Fogo Island Inn is a marvel, read more about Chef Murray McDonald here.

The hidden gems of Jose Ignacio, Uruguay include Estancia Vik and Playa Vik.  Departures Magazine discovered the family of retreats new restaurant, La Susana on a recent visit.  Read their review here.

From the New York Times, “Six Trends in Cruising” features North Star Cruises and their Papua New Guinea itineraries.

WildChina is an off the beaten path modern tour company in China, and they were recognized by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies for 2014 in their list.

In USA Today, Musha Cay was named #1 in their article, “10 Best Caribbean Resorts for the 1%.” Heard about Kauri Cliffs golf course?  Experience a tour from Golf Getaway TV featuring here.

Nicaragua is emerging as prime tourist destination according to the Los Angeles Times, where it writes in a recent article, “The Central American country may be the next Costa Rica.” And Nicargaura’s newest luxury resort, Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, was recently featured in Forbes, “A New World Of Luxury In Nicaragua.” The golf course is another treasure to be discovered.  Read this review in The Georgetowner on David McLay Kidd’s course at Mukul entitled, “Wandergolf: Golfing in the Jungles if Nicaragua”.

Next door neighbor Costa Rica celebrates a new luxury product of it’s own, the 8-bedroom Villa Manzu. From Forbes, “A Sublime New Retreat In Costa Rica: Villa Manzu.” Another review form Forbes on Hacienda de San Antonio, “The Most Stylish — And Substantive — Hideaway In Mexico.” Read article here.

Up to Texas, where the 9-room hideaway, The Inn at Dos Brisas, was big in the press this month.  From USA Today, “Nature’s the star at these rustic weekend getaways.”  From Four Magazine, “Top four farm-to-table restaurants”  and from Forbes, an insight into the miracles that escape from the kitchen, “Meet A Five-Star Houston Kitchen’s Secret Weapon.”

For wellness, a great review from a man’s point of view on Rancho La Puerta from Up Magazine here. And SpaFinder’s Readers’ Choice Awards gave the top spot for fitness retreats to Rancho La Puerta.

SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain was featured on Queen of Retreats here, “A foodie wellness experience at SHA in Spain.”  SHA Wellness was also featured in Spa Spotlight on Real Style, “Top Detox Retreats.

The Siam in Bangkok scores the The Best Urban Retreat in the coveted Vanity Fair “The Best List” in the March Travel edition. Insider Guide: Best of Shanghai from CNN Travel recommends The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund.


David Copperfield’s Island of Mysterious Delights: Musha Cay

If anyone can make the world and all its worries disappear it’s David Copperfield. The celebrated illusionist who has managed such feats as the vanishing of the Statue of Liberty and easily makes distances disappear can certainly make the modern world go away. But it takes more than a wave of the hand. It takes a trip to Musha Cay, David Copperfield’s private island resort in the Bahamas.

I34CNGE_kPP2GW91KfZbfxXSSKVpCHdBwH50z0gAdd0Find Musha Cay on a 700-acre isle in the Exuma chain of the Bahamas some 85 miles southeast of Nassau. A simple 15-minute chartered flight magically transports guests to a five-villa hideaway where anything is possible.

pier-house-bedImagination is what David Copperfield has aplenty and he puts his talent into creating a private island hideaway that does not overwhelm with special effects, but offers just enough effect to ensure the Copperfield signature is not missed. That means a full array of theatrical experiences and adventures should guests get the urge to be entertained. Or a full island of quiet and privacy should the opposite be true.

beachhouse-bathThat is because you don’t just “escape to Musha Cay.” You elope to it, with up to 23 of your favorite people for days full of amazing fun, relaxation and bonding. CEOs have high-level meetings here. And some CEOs — one Google co-founder named Sergey Brin in particular — even marry here.

KrqeYbqCfKgIFKohvZ43xWiQAqZc1VA7qEMJVhfpTqIMusha Cay makes sure the “private” in private island is maintained by taking only private parties up to 24 people. The island is theirs and theirs alone, save the 30+ members of a doting staff, for a four-night minimum (at an all-inclusive rate starting at $39,000 per night). The guests stay in accommodations that are as comfortable as they are stunning, saturated in Indo-Balinese décor and ranging from the 10,000-square-foot manor house on the hill to secluded, private villas all with their own private beach. Copperfield is an avid traveler and handpicked many of the interesting pieces and design elements throughout the property.

highview-living-medWhether the guests are children or adult children, Musha Cay provides a number of adventures that are executed with all the “wow” that one would expect from one of the greatest magicians and performers of our time. These include the Musha Olympic Games that make major competitive moments out of swimming events, egg tossing, sack-hopping and water-balloon throwing; There’s the M.U.S.H.A. Force (Musha United Secret Hero Alliance), a musically-themed laser-tag competition; guests can travel to other islands (there are 11 other private islands, all named for the adventure and mystery they offer, in Copperfield’s chain); and Thunderball Grotto (an hour-long boat trip away) brings guests to settings from the classic Bond film.  A nearby beach becomes Dave’s Drive-in for the night  to screen guest’s favorite flicks and interactions with Musha’s Aldabra tortoises, peacocks, toucans and parrots can easily be arranged.


A signature outing is a journey to Musha’s own  3-mile sandbar, a crescent shaped white-sand marvel that magically unveils itself with the tides. This tiny paradise becomes the venue for an unforgettable lunch or sunset cocktails, or the perfect place to tie the knot as a few A-list celebrities have.


And if it’s fireworks the guests want, the wish is the command as a dazzling display (not included with the nightly tariff) ignites in celebration over the water.

fireworks (3)Naturally, water sports come with the territory. The island harbors jet skis, a banana boat, paddle surfers, a Hobie Cat, kayaks, some Boston Whalers, a Jet Boat, a Nautilus Rib Catamaran and more are ready to take guests on snorkel and diving jaunts and private coves amid the other islands. Dining is what one would expect from a private island experience. There is always an element of fresh catch from the sea on tap but the chef takes the specific desires and appetites of the guests and turns those wants into magical meals.

dock-dinnerThere is no program here, no dos and don’ts, no curtain calls. Stays can be as scheduled and planned, or free-floating as guests desire.  And for those who have imagination — and enough friends to share it with — a stay at Mush Cay can be transformative, indeed.


Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay in Exumas, Bahamas
(1-208) 309 1106

Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates
– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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Best of Beach and Bon Vivant in Uruguay: Vik Retreats

Two retreats put the panache in beach stays on the Southern Atlantic sands of Uruguay, and both reflect the tastes and surroundings preferred by travelers looking for the novel and unexpected in their wanderings. They will find it all in the charming José Ignacio at Estancia Vik and Playa Vik.

EstanciaVik-0343The two exclusive resorts are only five miles away from each other but each offers strikingly different experiences in very refined spaces.

Start with Estancia Vik, the resort overlookins green hillocks and windswept pastures with only 12 guest suites and a sense of life once lived far from the cities by gauchos. Wide verandahs with views to the horizon complement the commodious rooms and suites. And each guest space could be considered its own creation.

The Wine CellarEstancia Vik, as does its owners, celebrates life lived well amid sophisticated and artful surroundings, masterful gastronomy, rare wines and stunning landscapes. It’s the kind of place you would have a late dinner with friends and linger long over the perfect wines and inspired settings with heady conversations. Estancia operates more like a home than a hotel, should that home belong to some very discerning wealthy friends.

Estancia with RidersThe Viks believe hotels were made for art and at these properties art, creative spirit and the life aesthetic are celebrated in ways few properties can muster. The Viks, who divide time between homes in Connecticut and New York City, as well as Monaco and Montevideo, are avid art collectors and their visions come alive at both Estancia Vik and Playa Vik.

ENTRANCE TO LIVING ROOMEstancia delivers a rustic appeal as a Spanish Colonial design surrounded by some 4,000 acres of working ranch land about a mile from the beach. But inside the hotel, the focus is on art and their very bold collections. The wall pieces and sculptures then play into the food focus, where curated wine collections and exquisite regional culinary take over. The moment might be toasted with caipiroskas — tangy cocktails of lime and Christiania vodka. Each suite is either 600 or 900 square feet and is its own entity, its own design as each was decorated through a different well-known Uruguayan artist.

MUSSO SUITE Angle 2Days can be as active or as quiet as desired. Guests can hike the property, play polo, ride horseback, try kiteboarding, surf, relax at the beach or visit Vik retreats’ sister property, Playa Vik that is located right on the shores of Mansa Beach. Each hotel’s guests have service privileges at both places.

Playa-Vik-176Playa Vik is its own masterpiece in Uruguay’s dynamic art world. The property is the design vision of Carlos Ott, a Uruguayan architect who created the Paris’s Opera de la Bastille. There are six “casas” here that are literally two and three-bedroom homes, and a total of 19 suites overlooking what has been tabbed “Calm” Beach.

Playa Vik 391Of course, art is the theme at Playa Vik and it weaves from room to room. Find the collections of the Vik family as well as works by famed Uruguayan artists: James Turrell, Zaha Hadid, Martín Verges Rilla, Anselm Kiefer and Pablo Atchugarry, among them. All elements have an aura of intention behind them, a story to be told that will deepen the guest’s experience. A central sculpture space is at the core of this retreat, a famed work in its own right in what has been described as an “inverted trapezoid shape with gently curving sides, clad in titanium with a sliding wall of glass 55 feet wide that glows softly in the sun.”

PlayaVik-C-0838The property’s 75-foot-long cantilevered swimming pool is not without its homage to aesthetic vision. It drops without lines into the ocean’s horizon and, made of black granite, is dotted with fiber optic lights that mirror the southern night sky.

PlayaVik-C-0005There are art-filled libraries, spas, decorative wine cellars, and elegant event spaces to be found at both retreats. And both locations are within easy reach of chic San Jose Ignacio, a posh, fast-growing jet-set magnet that crowds the coastline with nightclubs, bistros, boutiques and beautiful people.

Both properties integrate environmental, energy-saving technologies: solar designs, temperature-focused space designs, radiant heat systems, water preservation and recycling.

Playa Vik - Casa Mar, Casa Ebano & Casa Raices side viewRates at both properties start at around $500 per night. Location is within 20 miles of Punta del Este, the closest airport, which serves the beach resort of San Jose Ignacio. Drive time from Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport is about 90 minutes.

In all, Vik Retreats now offers four properties: Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, Playa Vik, and Bahia Vik San Ignacio in Uruguay; and Vina Vik Millahue, a new holistic vineyard retreat in Chile.



Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio
(011 598) 94 60 5212

Playa Vik José Ignacio
(011 598) 94 60 5212


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Pinterest.


KAA News Roundup

We hope spring is coming to you soon!  It is already spring in Israel, where The Norman is poised to open soon, bringing luxury and sophistication to Tel Aviv.  Their website is live and gorgeous.  Read this sneak peek from The Robb Report on this highly anticipated opening.

Over in Dubai, congratulations to The Palace Downtown Dubai, voted top 10 most romantic hotels in the 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards. The Palace is a part of Address Hotels + Resorts; recent recipient of Top Hotel Chain in the Middle East and The Address Downtown Dubai won “Best Hotel in the World” at the GTR Awards.

Oman_Paragliding441dcae309b1Near Dubai, Judy Stein of Ovation Travel visited Six Senses Zighy Bay, choosing the paraglide arrival option. Read her review here which includes The Address and Armani Hotel Dubai as well.

To the Maldives, where the readers of Dreaming of Maldives blog voted Gili Lankanfushi as their favorite resort. Vanity Fair featured Six Senses Laamu in, “Water World: The Spa at Six Senses Laamu”.

A very insightful review of the Renaissance Villa Il Salviatino can be found in the Huffington Post here: “Il Salviatino: A Good Place for a Very Modern Marchese to Stay in Italy”.

A very cool article from Refinery 29, “29 Places You HAVE To Visit in 2014” features the beautiful Jose Ignacio, Uruguay.  This bohemian chic village is home to the even cooler Estancia Vik and Playa Vik.

From Uruguay, up to Nicaragua, and Luxury Latin America’s blog review Mukul in their article, “A Couple’s Spa Experience at Mukul”.

To the Caribbean and Gansevoort Turks + Caicos in the “What’s Hot” section of the Nob Hill Gazette. The resort is also featured in this great video, “Want to know where your favorite sports stars stay?”

Back in the US, our properties are readying for spring’s arrival.  Planning a wedding?  The Inn at Dos Brisas was featured in Forbes Travel Guide here:  “Seven Unexpectedly Romantic Wedding Destinations”.  The Relais & Chateaux hideaway also received kudos from USA Today, “The healthiest destinations for a culinary getaway” and on Nancy Brown’s blog.

529505_10152551755985088_539798497_nAnother amazing spot for a destination wedding is Brush Creek Ranch, featured here in Men’s Journal, “Best New Dude Ranches”.  One more destination wedding favorite is Twin Farms in Vermont, who The Improper Bostonian calls “Vermont’s Private Shangri-La” in their recent article.

Mary Gostelow raves on her blog about Oahu’s Halekulani, “When is a hotel a hotel and when is it a resort? The amazing Halekulani, is everything.” Full review. The hotel/resort was also named among best places to propose by Luxury Travel Magazine here. 

Heading to the southern edge of the Pacific, where Jim Byers includes The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs on his list of most romantic hotels. On the Katie Couric show, Kauri Cliffs was includes in the segment, “Hottest Places to Honeymoon”. Watch the video.  Not only is the lodge romantic, but the golf course is more than famous. In Golf Courier, PGA star Brandt Snedeker calls Kauri Cliffs “Pebble Beach on steroids”.  And, check the newsstands this month as Kauri Cliffs is on the cover of Golf Week Magazine.

Sister property Cape Kidnappers golf course is ranked #22 in the world by Golf Digest, and Kauri Cliffs at #39.  Read the article, “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses”.  The third lodge in the family, Matakauri Lodge, has just opened their Owner’s Cottage, featured in The Wall Street Journal here.

Since spring is almost here, is it time to re-boot your wellness?  Oprah thinks so.  Her candid review about Ananda in India begins, “I’m writing this in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Rishikesh, India (where the Beatles learned to meditate), at Ananda spa. It’s the most authentic spa experience I’ve ever had.” Read more here.  Ananda was also featured in eStylista, “Six Eco Friendly Resorts in India for the Traveller with a Conscience”. Ricky Martin and rapper Macklemore were both at the famed spa this past month.  Read about Ricky’s wellness journey at Ananda here.

Read about a new trend in wellness on the Huffington Post, “New Travel Trend: Family Spas”Rancho La Puerta welcomes families August 2-9. The original destination spa was also featured on Conde Nast Travelers roundup, “10 Best Destination Spas of 2014” coming in at #1. A wonderful review by SpaFinder here, “Savor the Ranch: Our Wellness Retreat to Rancho La Puerta”.

Harper’s BAZAAR features SHA Wellness in Spain as a Premier Detox Retreat. And Conde Nast Traveller UK writes on SHA, “ls this the best medical spa in the world?” Gallivant Guide adds in their review that SHA is “the premier choice for mind, body, and soul rejuvenation.”

Forbes named The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu one of the top 10 hotels for active travelers here. And Hamptons Magazine includes the Ranch in their roundup of Getaways to Escape Winter’s Chill here.

Be well and here’s to an early spring!

Chakra Balancing at Bangkok’s Riverside Gem

The Siam invites you to retreat yourself with “Harmony & Healing, Inside & Out” at Opium Spa by Sodashi the award-winning of 2013 World Luxury Spa Awards, a haven for renewal from the hustle and bustle of city life.


The Siam's Opium Spa by Sodashi - DenNestled among historical palaces, temples and museums in the royal Dusit district, the luxury property provides the perfect space for indulgence and pampering.

Deeply meditative, this wellness experience brings your body’s seven main Chakras into alignment through a fluid combination of massage, specific essential oil blends and healing crystals. Working subtly on the energy centers of your body with profound effects, this truly unique experience leaves you feeling calm and in a state of harmony, resulting in an increase in overall wellbeing.

To complement this treatment, feel fully restored with a refreshing facial to give you a balanced complexion. Using Sodashi products which are 100% chemical free with a sequence of timeless, anti-aging techniques rooted in Ayurvedic healing traditions, this will reawaken your skin’s natural healing energies.

- Chakra Balancing Treatment (90 min)
- Stop and Relax Facial (30 min)

Advanced reservations are recommended. Please contact Opium Spa at Tel. 02 206 6913 or e-mail: