KAA News Roundup

Several properties made the coveted list from Andrew Harper’s Reader’s Choice Awards including Twin Farms as the #10 US Hideaway, Halekulani as the #8 Beach Resort and Cape Kidnappers made the list of Best Golf Resorts.

Sister hotel Kauri Cliffs in the news this month from Destination Golf and The New Zealand Herald.

Up to Asia where The Strand Cruise is making waves in the press. “From ship to shore, The Strand experience best showcases this magical country,” from Porthole Cruise and from Two Monkeys Travel, “A Mythical Journey in Myanmar.”

Cambodia’s finest resort, Song Saa Private Island received a great review in Robb Report Singapore, and our favorite Bangkok Hotel, The Siam, is now the #2 Hotel in Bangkok on TripAdvisor.

Over to India where The Lodhi New Delhi’s excellent spa was reviewed by Style, Body & Soul.

More spa experiences await at Gili Lankanfushi in The beautiful Maldives. Travel Junkie Diary writes about her visit and The Daily Mail highlights Gili and Six Senses Laamu as two heavenly Maldives resorts.

Supermodel David Gandy likes to hang out at The Beaumont in London and here’s why according to Balance Mag.

The New York Times writes on The Beaumont, “New Destination for Art: Upscale Hotels” and Vogue France prefers the hotel as their home for London Fashion Week.

Another hotel for fashionistas is or course Armani Hotel Milan. Read about it from Luxury London.

Iceland is the place to be this fall according to Forbes, “Iceland Tops List of Hot Luxury Adventure Destinations.” We recommend a customized journey with luxury outfitter Nordic Luxury.

Two great pieces on Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada, “Fogo Island Inn combines contemporary art and design with centuries-old folk traditions.” And “There are some places that leave you feeling like you’ve reached the ends of the Earth.”

In the USA, Brush Creek Ranch awaits as a luxury ranch getaway, read about it in Forbes.

From Brides Magazine, “5 Los Angeles Hotels Perfect for Your Honeymoon” features Malibu Beach Inn and from People, “The Ultimate California Babymoon.”

A popular bucket list destination, The Galapagos, appears in Departures Magazine highlighting Pikaia Lodge, “How to Do the Galapagos Now,” and from Vogue, “Forget the Typical Honeymoon—Go on an Adventure-Moon Instead.”

Over to Chile and Vina Vik where “Alexander Vik had a dream:  To create the best wine in South America.” Read this wine review to see the results.

In Nicaragua, celebrate 50 years of Endless Summer the movie at Mukul Resort with a special surf package with outfitter Tropic Surf, and The Robb Report includes Mukul and its famous Flor de Cana rum in their roundup, “These 5 Hotels and Resorts Serve Their Own Exclusive Brands of Booze.”

For your dose of wellness this month, congrats to Chiva-Som for making Conde Nast Traveller’s list of their top 100 Reader’s Travel Awards, coming in at #17, and here is an insightful review on the award winning spa from The Province.

Press for Lake Austin Spa Resort this month from Orbitz Blog on their cupping and tapping treatments, and this first hand review by Always on Vacay.

Surfing in Nicaragua; Savoring it at Mukul

Nicaragua has been gaining popularity with backpackers as the new cool place to surf and hang. But luxury travelers are now in for the ride, discovering a country of exotic jungles, rare volcanic splendors and now the dramatic and seductive beaches of the Emerald Coast. Five-star hospitality at Mukul Resort awaits this crowd, who want to immerse in Nicaragua’s mystery and adventure and simmer in its comforts.

mukulresortaerialHollywood gossip reports have already noted the luminaries finding their way to Mukul: Beyoncé, Michael Douglas, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Michael Fassbender among the names, while celebrity surfers, such as Matthew McConaughey and Josh Brolin are helping to put Nicaragua on the map for the fabulous waves to be found there.

Nicaragua Surfing Safari

At Mukul Resort, surfing takes on another dimension. Guests can take guided expeditions to the best surfing spots along this celebrated coastline. No fuss, no muss, no maps, no crowds. They can have coached lessons as beginners or expert guidance as athletes. At Mukul, they have the time to give to this sport of mind and balance. They have the trainers who can coach them along. They have the waves that fit their level and interest.

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And they have the freedom to enjoy it all at their pace in an exotic place of unexpected beauty. Mukul’s partnership with Australian luxury surfing outfitter, TropicSurf, makes it all possible – from beach to boards. Even the afterglow is considered. Guests receive a video or stills of their prime wave experiences.

Whether guests choose to try their beginner’s luck with lessons off Mukuk’s beach break or go for the ocean’s action off Paga Drop, the support is there to make sure the time is fun, worthwhile and safe for those traveling alone, with a significant other or with young ones.
Mukul is Making Changes in Nicaragua

Mukul Resort marks a change for Nicaragua, which is fast making its way into a 21st century economy. The $250 million sustainable sanctuary, hotel and residential community is the first five-star development in the country and delivers on its five-star promise. Rum magnate, Don Carlos Pellas, has invested wisely in this pristine 4.8-mile swath of Nicaragua’s Pacific Emerald Coast, creating not only this scenic and rarefied resort experience but also Guacalito de la Isla, a residential resort complex with golf, resort amenities and gorgeous cliffside domiciles near the Mukul property.

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The fishing village of Gigante, about a five-minute drive away, keeps it all local with markets and cafes and sleepy village life that is still expressly Nicaraguan.
Local Luxury

Mukul keeps it local too. The resort spreads out amid along 1,670 acres hugging Manzanillo Point with 37 spacious accommodations, all stylish, with high ceilings and locally carved furnishings. Twelve of these are beachfront villas with mesmerizing ocean views. Each villa has a pool and comes with 24-hour butler attendance. Then there are 23 hillside bohios, each with a private plunge pool and wrap around deck, and views from 300-feet above the beach at the edge of the forest. Large families, multi-families, groups, friends, business events can consider the 20,000-square-foot Casona Don Carlos – when the Carlos family is not in residence. The palatial two-story complex on the ocean surrounds an 80-foot palapa, the centerpiece and gathering spot for activities. The estate offers four master bedroom suites, a wrap-around stone terrace, a large private swimming pool, and direct access to the beach.

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Each villa or bohio presents, at minimum, 1,003-square-feet of space, bathrooms with separate his and hers vanity rooms leading to a lava rock and liquid temple of monsoon showers and soaking tubs. Outside, each Beach Villa has a wrap-around teak wood deck, direct access to the beach, a private swimming pool, an outdoor lounging palapa, a day bed and hammock. Central air-conditioning and wireless Internet access are also de rigueur.

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Each of the 23 bohios runs at least 623 square feet with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and windows over the views, plus a wooden deck with a private plunge pool and separate lounging veranda with a custom daybed. Nicaraguan travertine marble covers the bedroom floor. There is a wet room, double vanity, spacious walk-in closet and double-headed shower. The furniture, fabrics and lighting fixtures also lend to the authentic feel, all handcrafted in a refined local style.
Go for the Golf; Stay for the Spa

An 18-hole golf course designed by David McLay Kidd (Bandon Dunes and the Castle Course in St. Andrew) is a central amenity of Mukul Resort as is the spa – a design of six private suites, each themed and tailored to be temples of ancient healing arts, from mystic crystals to shamanic magic. Journeys can run from a single treatment to a full day healing immersion.

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Daring Days, Delicious Nights

At the end of the day, whether spent surfing, hiking (Mukul links up to 15 miles of jungle trails), golfing, exploring some of the country’s 50 volcanoes or touring some of the countries historic colonial towns, Mukul welcomes guests with some of the Flor de Caña, Nicaragua’s royalty of rums. And, for those so inclined, a delicately hand-rolled cigar (Nicaragua is the top producer of premium cigars in the Americas) adds just the right panache.

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Dining is a delight over the ocean and breaking waves. Dining choices can be fancy or casual. La Mesa offers tasting menus with four-, five-, and six-course meals paired with just the right wines. Fresh seafood is always in season. Casual meals at La Terrazza see eclectic fare to please fussy children and picky gourmands alike. It’s open for all meals. Having a peaceful in-room breakfast on the private terrace over the ocean after a yoga lesson simply has no comparables. For some added zest, visitors can head to the village of Gigante down the road to try local dishes and wrap themselves in the local color.

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Getting There

To get to Mukul from the U.S., guests can choose to fly in from Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua and then take a 20-minute flight to Mukul’s local Costa Esmeralda Airport, 15 minutes away from the resort. Or they can fly in from San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) in Costa Rica on a 30-minute flight via Sansa Airlines to Costa Esmeralda Airport and be met by a private driver. Guests can also take their time getting to Mukul. The resort is a two-hour drive from Managua. The Nicaraguan capital Managua is an easy two- or three-hour flight from such U.S. gateways as Miami, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta. Flights are also available from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Dallas.

Rates at Mukul start at around $500 a night. Packages with breakfast and transfers are available.

Contact:

Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
Guacalito, Nicaragua
(+011 505) 25 63 71 00
reservations@mukulresort.com
www.mukulresort.com

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 Instagram and Pinterest.

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A Magical Holiday at The Beaumont, London

The whole month of December The Beaumont in London special rate of 15% off the Best Available Rate includes breakfast and a seasonal cocktail. Stay for Christmas and envelop yourself in a cozy, candle-lit world of vintage movies and mulled wine, or explore the once-a-year-quiet streets of historic Mayfair in a vintage Daimler.

December Special >>

Christmas Day Special >>

The Beaumont Information >>

 

 

Wakaya Resort Opening December 15th

wakaya-islandWe are pleased to announce the re-opening of Wakaya Resort on December 15, 2016. The beautiful idyllic resort and island, only 40 minutes by private seaplane from Nadi, will now welcome guests of all ages including a Wakaya Young Adventurers program for children 17 and under. Festive season accommodations still available. Please contact reservations@wakaya.com.fj for more information.

KAA News Roundup

Back to school and back to wellness? This roundup begins with a list of the top 10 Spa Hotels by Indagare featuring Lake Austin Spa Resort and Six Senses Douro Valley.

More from the scenic Douro Valley or Portugal from Forbes, “The Ultimate Scenic Wellness Break,” and another review by Travel Magazine of the first Six Senses in Europe.

Like some adventure with your wellness?  Travel to Mukul in Nicaragua this November for a special retreat that combines surfing, yoga, meditation and all things wellness. You can also visit the luxe Nicaraguan resort for surfing vacations, read more from Gearminded here. And, in just 5 days, Mukul hosts the PGA Flor de Caña​ Open.  Jetsetter included Mukul on their list of “The World’s Dreamiest Honeymoon Hotels” and The Brando and Matakauri Lodge also made the list.

Wellness in the USA can be found just outside Austin at Lake Austin Spa Resort. Discover why being on the Lake for your spacation has its advantages from The Hungry Chronicle, or check out Austin Culture Map’s take.

London’s new Beaumont hotel is receiving rave reviews since its opening.  “Hotel Insider: The Beaumont, London is an intimate art deco dream.” Rolls Royce has partnered with the hotel and guests staying 2 nights or more can enjoy the use of a chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Down to Spain where Finca Cortesin and Spain’s Costa del Sol is detailed here as the ideal hideaway location to explore by bike.

Just across the pond to Newfoundland, Canada where Fogo Island Inn was recently called “heaven” by Gwyneth Paltrow on her recent visit. I love this three part series on Fogo Island Inn by a blog called Meet Me at The T. Part I – The Foodie; Part 2 – The Inn; Part 3 – The Island through the Eyes of Fergus Foley.

The new Faena Miami Beach is making waves. From the Wall Street Journal, “Argentine developer Alan Faena takes on Miami Beach,” and from Goop, “Miami Beach Fantasy: Faena Hits Mid-Beach.”

To the West Coast, where Malibu Beach Inn makes the list of “Classic Coastal Destinations to Visit before You Die.” 

Planning a wedding?  This list from Vogue is quite posh, and features Wyoming’s upscale Brush Creek Ranch in their list of “10 Stunning Celebrity Wedding Venues That You Can Rent.” Brush Creek also makes the list from Jetsetter of “8 Rustic-Luxe Getaways We’re Crazy About.”

Need a romantic getaway this fall? Travel + Leisure’s “20 Ideas for the Perfect Romantic Fall Getaway” features the Vermont gem, Twin Farms. Veranda Magazine includes Twin Farms as well as The Brando and Villa Manzu in their list of “The Most Luxurious All-Inclusive Resorts Across The Globe.” The Brando was also featured in Marin Magazine’s “Fantasy Islands” feature.  Learn more about The Brando Resort and how they celebrated their 2 year anniversary in their summer newsletter.

Another luxury island resort we love is Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia. It was rated best for “secluded luxury” on About Time Magazine’s list of “Luxury Resorts You Must Visit in 2016.” Travel + Style agrees in their review with gorgeous photos stating, “we think it’s the sort of place A-listers traveling incognito would pick for a honeymoon.”

We are excited to represent The Strand Cruise, a hot new product on the beautiful culture-rich Irrawaddy River. Read a review from World of Cruising or from this beautiful blog write-up “The Strand Cruise – a boutique luxury cruise journey from Bagan to Mandalay, Myanmar.”

Gili Lankanfushi is a must visit, having been named the world’s best hotel just last year by Trip Advisor readers. Read from Helipad on Heels why you should go, and if you surf, check out their new surf shack.

Another beautiful review by Travel + Style featured The Lodhi New Delhi as their “Hotel of the Week.”

Three Hot Spots for Luxury Travel in Indochina

What’s your fantasy when it comes to luxury travel in Indochina? Is it a private island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand? A cold, tall gin and tonic on your patio watching the barges along the River of Kings? Driving in a chauffeured Bentley through the colorful and chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City?

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A trip to Indochina is a many-splendored experience, indeed, but you have to be ready to give yourself over to it and let in the exotic sounds, the spicy aromas, and the frenetic swirls of activity swooshing from every corner of your consciousness. But when you are ready to part the veils, a calm, luxurious side of Southeast Asia awaits.

 

Dreams on the Mekong at The Reverie

Start with The Reverie Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City.  The 286-room tower in the former French Quarters of the city along the Mekong is the perfect complement to the ever-buzzing traffic and jumbled side streets and bazaars that define this city.

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Interiors here make a bold “unapologetic” statement with great flourishes of fused styles. Liberace, were he alive, might find some rooms to his liking, but mostly it’s the audacious silks, the intricate golds and bronzes, the bejeweled hues, the stately carrara marble and a strident declaration of luxury that separates The Reverie Saigon from its competition.

 

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Find here a wealth of unexpected sumptuousness. Oversized guest rooms (224 rooms, 62 suites and 89 apartments) pan the city from the 27th to 39th floors as light from floor to ceiling windows reflect in marbled mirrored walls or glint from crystals accenting chandeliers and light fixtures. Accommodations come in about a dozen configurations and a romance suite in the mix. Suites and common areas have touches from top Italian design firms — Giorgetti, Visionnaire and Colombostile among them.

 

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The property also caters to business and industry executives; couples on holiday and those starting or finishing a river cruise on the Mekong.  Count such elements as underwater music in the glamorous rooftop pool to the 400 thread-count Frette linens, goosedown duvets and Chopard or Hermes bath amenities among the unexpected. Of course those go with dedicated butler service and chauffeured rides around the city in a late model Bentley or Benz.

 The Reverie Saigon - The Spa - Swimming Pool - Evening - I

A spa floats on two floors and offers 24-hour fitness access as well as a menu of high-end treatments. Dining menus at The Reverie Saigon run Italian to Cantonese. R & J, for Romeo & Juliet, is where you have a romantic Italian gourmet dinner for two surrounded by ornate details played out in glass and silk.

 The Spa at The Reverie Saigon - Reception - II

For those who are passing through Vietnam on a Southeast Asia whirlwind holiday, The Reverie Saigon offers a way to sample the hotel. The Travel Easy Vietnam Package gives each guest the benefit of an entry visa on arrival (a $77 value each) plus a deluxe room with complimentary breakfast and in-room Wi-Fi for $285 for one or $345 for two per night.


Bangkok Nights at The Siam

Those going on to Thailand will want to stay at The Siam, a formidable presence on the Chao Phraya River – Bangkok’s River of Kings.

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There, days reach back to a simpler time, a time of Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward and settings that stole the imaginations of writers, to be resurrected today in a comely compound of Lanna designs with colonial accents.

The Siam spreads on three precious acres of riverfront with 39 suites and pool villas and volumes of atmosphere. The buildings that make up the Siam were historical relics rescued by renowned silk magnate Jim Thompson and his socialite companion Connie Mangskau from the former royal capital in Ayutthaya. The two were once the toast of Bangkok at parties attended by big names of the last century, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Henry Ford, John Rockefeller and Roger Moore.

TheSiamLowThe Siam keeps up with that tradition, a treasure trove of antiques accenting all the guestrooms and public areas. As a full service hotel with restaurant venues, lap pool, spa and library, located within walking distance to the royal palace in the fashionable Dusit neighborhood of Bangkok, it’s the perfect place to retreat on a hot afternoon with a cold G&T at the pool overlooking the barges gliding up and down the river.

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When in Bangkok, wellness is a big theme. Thai-style massage is offered at many of the Buddhist monasteries and meditation classes can also be found. A Wellness at the Siam Program creates programs tailored to guests’ needs and wants, facilitated by the hotel’s in-house, internationally acclaimed wellness trainer, Dr. Adrish Brahmadatta. Find yoga programs, classes in four types of meditation, ayurveda consultations, reiki healing and even an authentic Sak Tant tattoo package.

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A Siam Staycation Package can be booked for a night in a Pool Villa Courtyard or Pool Villa Riverview, with daily breakfast for two, a dinner for two, a 60-minute massage session for two at Opium Spa, plus early check-in and late checkout. Rates start at $987 for two.  Standard rates run around $442 per night.

Standard Amenities at The Siam include daily breakfast, butler service, complimentary Wi-Fi and shuttle boats between the hotel and Bangkok’s central Sathorn pier.

 

Escape to Song Saa Private Island

Far from the din, the dust and the madness of urban and modern Indochina, a private island off the coast of Cambodia awaits. Some 18 miles from the mainland, Song Saa is a tiny paradise – just 17 acres over two small islands. Find 27 one- and two-bedroom villas each opening onto the sea. And for all their rustic beauty they come with plenty of wows: plunge pool, private deck, outdoor showers, myriad romantic accents.

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All slows down as guests get in tune with nature and the local rhythms. Guests head out for morning snorkels around coral reefs (and find an abundance of seahorses for their efforts). They may take the afternoon to kayak through thick and mysterious mangroves and listen to the wisdom of a resident marine biologist wax on the precious ecology of the location. They may take the night to gaze at the stars and swim in the warm bioluminescent waters surrounding this island resort.

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Dining at Song Saa is as much a part of place as is about the resort itself. Menus reflect the sustainability practices championed by the resort in locally sourced ingredients and gifts of the surrounding seas. Dining at Song Saa, whether in the Vista Bar and Restaurant on the water or in the Driftwood Bar on the beach bring natural and local food experiences in the most pleasant of surroundings. Poolside and in-villa dining is also available. And as a special treat for the asking, the staff will arrange a private dining moment in a heavenly beach hideaway spot.

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As for spa and healing amenities, you might say Song Saa Private Island is the spa. Healing and wellness are part and parcel of the experience as you depart the mainland and surrender to the private island sanctuary ahead. Treatment practitioners fuse traditional Khmer techniques with ayurvedic principles, chakra-clearing, massage, tailored spa cuisine and guided reiki and vipassana meditations to the sessions and inner journeys guests can take. Private consultations with the resort’s Head of Wellness ensure the right choices.

 Song Saa Private Island Resort, Luxury resort Cambodia, Holiday, Vacation, Koh Rong Island Cambodia, Yoga, wellness center, spa, luxury spas

Activities, too, are therapeutic, whether paddle boarding, hiking in the rainforest, participating in fitness sessions, joining a local gardening workshop or enjoy meditation on the beach at sunrise.

The resort offers transfers via a 35-minute private speedboat ride from Sihanoukville, a port city that lies some 111 miles away from the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Rates start at $1,037 for Bed & Breakfast and $1,777 for All Inclusive for two people. Check their website for promotions or reserve a villa for festive as a few are still available.

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The Reverie Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(011 848) 3920 9526
info@thereveriesaigon.com
www.thereveriesaigon.com

 

The Siam

Bangkok, Thailand
(+011 662) 247 0123
reservations@thesiamhotel.com
www.thesiamhotel.com

 

Song Saa Private Island

Cambodia
(+011 855) 23 686 0361
reservations@songsaa.com
www.songsaa.com

 

 

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 Instagram and Pinterest.

www.kurtzahlers.com

Remote Small Ship Cruises on the True North

Remote small ship cruises are few in number but huge in bucket list experiences and memories. Perhaps the most notable of remote small ship cruising is the True North, a 164-foot, 18-cabin super yacht run by North Star Cruises, which plies the waters of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

The ship carries not more than 36 guests on 4 to 13-night itineraries that go from Australia’s most adventurous wilds to rarely trod jungles in the South Pacific. But you’ll be completely pampered no matter how remote the paths get, with gourmet meals, outfitter assists, naturalist guides and even a private helicopter.

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North Star Cruises launched True North in 2005, but the idea for such a venture came to light many years earlier when founding director Craig Howson took a half-dozen passengers and a smattering of crew to some isolated areas in Western Australia during a fishing expedition on a converted crayfish trawler. Word travels fast Down Under and Howson soon found a continuous flow of interest for these trips. The concept easily transformed to a focus on exotic sailings packed with luxury amenities.

These remote small ship cruises might be considered un-cruises. They are not for people who enjoy midnight buffets or drinking watered down cocktails while watching kids do dive bombs into a top deck pool. The True North offers quiet luxury and sails to places where unearthly silence takes over.

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Consider these activities: cruising the Kimberly Coast around northwest Australia and sailing into ancient narrow gorges of steep red sandstone and waterfalls. Fish for your dinner in waters where kingfishers dive, or go mud-crabbing along empty beaches. Swim in a billabong, hunt for black-lip oysters, then visit a working pearl farm.

Head North on the True North: Cruising Papua New Guinea

For travelers that want to head even further north on the True North, Papua New Guinea calls with wild sea life, uninhabited islands, rarely visited villages and a jungle river cruise into the very heart of darkness.

Lauren, Damien and Leah

North Star Cruises offers seven 7 to 11 night itineraries into the wilds of Papua New Guinea, each centering on different locations, experiences and action-packed activities. For instance, on the Adventures in Paradise 10 night cruise, the True North crosses the Bismarck Sea to the beautiful Louisiade Archipelago for a focus on the stunning islands and reefs. Passengers helicopter over an active volcano as well as swim with manta rays, snorkel along stunning coral walls and, claim isolated sand cays for sunset cocktails before beach feasts of fresh catch on the barbie.

The 11 night Sepik Soiree takes a different tack as the True North turns inward on the mighty Sepik River for a 62-mile journey through dense jungles to the stilt-villages of Kambaramba Lake where whole communities live suspended above the water. There, find the Angoram carvers market, selling their rare and valuable artworks. En route listen to the distant thunder of the split-log drummers from Manus Island.

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On a 7 night voyage through West Papua, considered the last frontier of the Indo-Pacific and immerse in the immense biodiversity of  Cenderawasih Bay, the bay of the birds of paradise and where some of the world’s largest aquatic species reside. Here guests swim with whale sharks, gentle giants that enjoy romps with humans – one of the many snorkeling adventures to be had on this trip.

pws-whaleshark1-ronCruising Sydney

For those travelers who do not want to venture too far off the map, North Star Cruises also sails the south eastern and southern coasts of Australia, including a four-day sailing around Sydney that offers an experience of this iconic destination like no other. The route runs during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, summer in these parts, commencing with festive dinners Sydney Harbour. Guests cruise the famous harbour followed by cruising on the Hawkesbury, helicopter flights to the Hunter Valley for some sublime wine tasting, swimming and bush walking through the surrounding national parks.

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The True North’s southernmost cruise departs from Adelaide on the 9 day Southern Safari. Guests take in the South Australian coast from Kangaroo Island to Ceduna, experiencing white sandy beaches, uninhabited islands and sheltered bays. Adventures will also be of the tasting variety, as guests sample the fine wines of the famous Barossa Valley, dine on southern bluefin from Port Lincoln – the tuna fishing capital of Australia, enjoy Coffin Bay oysters and King George whiting and blue swimmer crab from beautiful Streaky Bay. Guests also cage dive with the great white sharks off the Neptune Islands and swim with the seals at Stokes Bay. There is time for a beach picnic as well as fishing for snapper and flathead. A hike to the top of Pearson Island offers glorious panoramas.

Luxury Life on the True North

Stateroom cabins come in three configurations ranging from 129 to 161 square feet, each sleeping two passengers in comfort. Cabins are located on three decks and all include in-cabin entertainment systems and satellite telephones. The upper deck and mid-deck staterooms feature panoramic windows but most of the action takes place on deck or out in the wilds. Cruisers are accompanied by a crew of 22, six aluminium expedition boats and a Eurocopter 130 B4 (considered to be the quietest and most spacious tourism helicopter).

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Especially considering the continuously changing and break-taking surroundings, dining on this remote small ship cruise can be considered some of the best in Oz. The True North chefs cook according to what comes in that day, what is caught, what is brought in the local markets and what is created from impromptu onboard cooking sessions with guests.

The ship’s naturalist entertains with engaging stories complemented by wall-mounted plasma screens.

And yes, there is Internet onboard as guests retire to the ship’s lounge, the alfresco bar or the Internet café for conversation and communication with the outside world.

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Although snorkel gear is provided and some diving gear is available for hire. Night dives are offered but guests need to bring their own light source. Best for guests to check with the North Star sales team should diving be a must-do on any of the itineraries. As a remote small ship cruise, especially one that goes to some of the clearest freshwater lakes and most exotic seas on the planet, getting wet is not an option. It is a requirement.

Contact:

North Star Cruises Australia
(011 61) 8 91921 829
www.northstarcruises.com.au

 

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 Instagram and Pinterest.

www.kurtzahlers.com

WildChina: Creating Life-Changing Experiences

China is a fiery dragon at  the forefront of everything that moves the world these days, and tourism stands at the center of its vision.  As visitor numbers, both inbound and outbound, show no sign of slowing, one tour company in particular is making sure that those who want to see and experience the real China have all the support they need.

301600_10150787903010088_1226340976_nWildChina was established in 2000 by Yunnan native and Harvard Business School grad Mei Zhang who believes that visitors to China seek truly authentic travel experiences. She set out to broaden travel to China well beyond the Great Wall, and WildChina has since crafted rare and immersive itineraries that are usually missed by most mass tourism excursions.

WildChina presents the real China beyond the “Golden Route” of Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, the river city of Guilin and the over-crowded Yangtze river cruise that most first time visitors to China book. This one-of-a-kind travel company allows clients to be immersed in explorations into regional foods, experiences of unusual subcultures, once-in-a-lifetime adventures and historical discoveries. Moments like these can only happen off the beaten path with a knowing guide.

11187248_10155563330880088_7247482377270777060_oA visitor to the WildChina website will find tours of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao. Even Chongqing and Guilin are featured. But the visitor will also find places like Urumqi and Kashgar, Kailash, Lhasa, and Everest Base Camp on the map. In a country roughly as large as the U.S. containing one fifth of the world’s population, with 56 identified ethnic cultures amid 23 provinces, there is, in fact, no one experience of China that you can bottle up and sell. There are many versions of China and a vast variety of hidden wonders beyond the borders that separate the regions.

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The traditions, histories, and regional characters of the various destinations in China are explorable under the care of the right company. With WildChina, visitors can peek into the past and immerse themselves in China’s  5,000 years of rich history. Modern developments inform the present and future of a country that only recently opened its borders.

WildChina offers clients plenty of choices: Where do they want to go in China? How do they want to travel? Where do they want to stay? What do they want to learn? What do they want not to miss?

316375_10150787902365088_1070702951_nThe variety of choices means travelers can travel privately, just their small party, a guide, and a driver, or they can travel in a larger group of like-minded tourists. These people can be strangers or members of a group brought together for a unique experience. They can choose luxury stays or they can be adventurers heading to remote camps in places that need special permits and guides to visit. “It’s a matching process,” Zhang has noted in published reports. This can only be done by an experienced, high-end travel company with plenty of deep knowledge of its destinations, strong relationships on the ground  and a dedicated staff who pulls it all off without a hitch.

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WildChina, a Virtuoso member, has offices in Beijing, Texas, Washington D.C., and Europe. They offer a variety of themed destination experiences to whet any inquiring travelers or agents’ appetite for adventure. The company’s uncommon, curated journeys include retracing the trade routes on the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road from Yunnan to Tibet, hiking through bamboo forests to observe giant panda habitats,  wandering through the spicy kitchens of Yunnan, and trekking through sun-dappled meadows in Tibet to remote nomadic villages. Guests visit Hakka homes, ancient Buddhist strongholds, and vanishing urban hutongs. They can even explore Jewish quarters in Kaifeng, Tianjin, Shanghai and Harbin where refugees were given shelter in the tumultuous  years between the two world wars.

10991617_10155563331120088_3240103165648408247_oA journey finder on the WildChina website divides tours into navigable choices. Does a travel want to explore with a small group, in a larger group (WildChina’s small group size caps at 12), or in a private car? Does a client want to go to China or to countries beyond China, such as Bhutan, Myanmar or Laos? If it is China they seek, would that be the Silk Road, the Tibetan Plateau, the panda country or the mountain kingdoms? Other choices include China’s southern region and great river valleys. Then they can choose destinations based on interests. Does a client want adventure or immersion into art and architecture? Are they a first-timer to China? Do they want to learn about the food,the history, or the nature and wildlife?

china private-tour-inner-mongolia-camelsOptions might lead to a camel trekking expedition along the routes of Marco Polo or a trek to a tiger habitat in southern China with some days spent helping Tibetans in a community service project. Even the classic itineraries are laced with exceptional activities: walking a lesser known section of the Great Wall that has some of the most striking and best preserved architecture on the 5,500-mile medieval monument; having a private Tai Chi lesson with a master; taking a class in Yunnan cooking in a village home kitchen, taking a calligraphy lesson in Xi’an and participating in morning prayers in Lijiang.

11169542_10155563328975088_2359205679146121493_oThese life-changing experiences are tailor made for independent-minded travelers, Zhang has noted, in line with trends that show travelers are not as interested in getting on and off a tour bus. Contemporary tourists crave life-changing memories such as a community service project, a lesson they can take back with them from a remote location, and a mind-opening interaction with a cultural sage. WildChina  goes the extra distance for its clients, making them feel that their time and money are well spent on a life-enriching visit to China.

11143546_10155563331075088_9118320029854222515_oChina is quickly becoming the pre-eminent business destination in the world, so airlines are following through with plenty of flights from just about everywhere. From the U.S. alone, China is served with direct, non-stop service by eight airlines: China Eastern, Air China, Delta, United, American Airlines, China Southern, Hainan Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Visas are easily obtained through tour operators and Americans passing through Beijing and Shanghai are now issued a quick 72-hour visa on the spot once they land.

11140107_10155563330670088_2984884479203105193_nA visit to China through WildChina finds a fitting analogy in an old, Chinese fable.

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), a famous painter named Zhang Seng-Zuong was putting the finishing touches on the wall of the temple of Andong. It was a riveting portrait of four dragons nearly breaking into a gallop beneath a layer of clouds, but in its vivid expression it lacked one thing. “Why,” asked one bystander, “didn’t you put pupils in their eyes?”

“If the pupils are put in,” answered the painter, “the dragons will surely fly away forever.”

The people laughed at his joke, but continued to ask him to paint the pupils in the blind dragons’ eyes.

At their request, Zhang Seng-Zuong picked up his brush and began to work. He hesitated at first and then resolutely dotted the eyes of two of the dragons with the pupils that would bring them their sight.

Before he could put down his paintbrush, a great thunder and roar rumbled from the wall as half of it crashed and fell. The two dragons took off for the heavens. The crowd dispersed in an explosion of chaos, hiding behind pillars and ducking under rocks. But when the dust settled, two dragons remained. They stayed there resting peacefully, happy and purposeful where they stood emblazoned upon the temple wall.

Like the dragons on that temple wall, recent modernizations have brought the pupils into the eyes of the sleeping dragon. China has awakened and taken a colossal leap to the forefront of the global economy. This once dormant country is now en route to become the world’s wealthiest.

22324_10155563330335088_4001301749234285293_nYet, part of China’s greatness remains in the preservation of its past. There is a China where sleeping dragons lie: in ancient monuments, medieval neighborhoods, Taoist fishing villages, precious temples and colorful minority traditions. The beautiful contrasts between antiquity and modernity make China a melting pot of the old and new worlds. Like the dragons on the temple wall, WildChina showcases tours that serve as a reminder of where the world’s oldest civilization has been and where it hopes to soar.

 

WildChina, Destination Specialist
(888) 902-8808
Email: info@wildchina.com
Website: www.wildchina.com

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