Special Offers at The Brando

Enjoy two special offers until June 30, 2018 at The Brando, Tetiaroa

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Fly Free to The Brando*

Get free round trip tickets for inter-island flights between Tahiti and Tetiaroa for 2 adults* for a 3-night minimum stay between January 11, 2018 and June 30, 2018.

  • Stay 3 nights and more, and get “FLY FREE” on Air Tetiaroa. Booking code: “STAY3”.
*Retroactive offer, applicable for stays booked on public low season villa daily rates only. Available on Air Tetiaroa shared scheduled flights only — a value of 900 Euros (this offer does not apply to privatly chartered flights).

 

Stay and Save**

Enjoy up to a 15% discount** on your daily villa rate:

  • Stay 4 nights and save 10% discount on your daily villa rate. Booking code: “STAY4”.
  • Stay 5 nights and more and save 15% discount on your daily villa rate. Booking code: “STAY5”.

This special offer is cumulative with the Air Tetiaroa “Fly Free” offer (but does not apply on Air Tetiaroa rates).

**Retroactive offer. This special offer is applicable on public low season rates for a stay between January 11, 2018, and June 30, 2018. This offer is applicable on both the “All-inclusive” and “Villa & Breakfast” rates.

Learn more>>

Wellness Travel: The Why and Where of it

Wellness was at the heart of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show that just concluded in Las Vegas this month. Complementing the fast-growing wellness economy that now accounts for some $3.7 trillion in spending worldwide were all manner of wearables that could track movements, heart rates, even predict a heart attack. And those were bolstered by sensors embedded in sleeves, beds, shoes, walls, headbands and appliances tracking just about any activity with connectivity to talk to other sensors, other like-minded peers and medical professionals.

At the heart of the message delivered by one medical authority after another was this fact: Americans are not getting enough rest. More than a third of the population sleeps less than the seven hours of sleep required as the minimum hours needed. not only for productivity but to reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and mental disorders.

 

And while the exhibition showcased beds that rocked you to sleep and meditation bands that sent delta waves right into your pineal glands and rooms that instantly brought the optimum settings of cooling, heating, lighting and music into tuck-in moment, something was missing – let’s call it the escape.

 

Meditation bands and smart sneakers can go only so far to bring on that lasting sense of peace. Finish the run, complete the hypnotherapy recording and you are still in the same room, bridled with the same stress. But a trip to the jungle forests of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, yoga on the beach looking over the Gulf of Thailand, a forest walk in filtered light under tall trees, or a massage journey on a beach followed by nothing but the sound of waves can do wonders to get the body back to the place it needs to be.

 

World of Wellness Escapes

Kurtz-Ahlers offers wellness as a focus of its collection of luxury resorts around the world. While many resorts offer elaborate spas and ways to relax and de-stress in some of the most exquisite settings possible, here are four destination wellness resorts that take wellness quite a bit further for lasting memories and measurable results.

Ananda in the Himalayas

Find this retreat in the foothills of the Himalayas, an easy and scenic train journey from Delhi. The property was a former palace set amid a hundred acres of virgin forest. Focus can be as simple as resting, hiking, morning yoga, afternoon mediations and a menu of healing massages. Or it can delve into issues of weight management, stress management, smoking cessation, sleep disorders and other life disrupters for permanent behavior changes and lasting gains.

Much of the medical wisdom is taken from the Vedas and age-old Ayurvedic practices. Eighty rooms, suites, and villas top a mountain ridge, overlooking the valley below, or the garden and Palace. Ananda is a destination wellness retreat and offers programs and packages starting at three nights.

Ananda – In the Himalayas
Palace Estate, Tehri Garwal
Narendra Nagar, UT 249175
India
Tel: +011 91 1378 227500
Email: sales@anandaspa.com
Website: www.anandaspa.com

 

Chablé Resort

 

Chablé Resort in the Yucatán is an easy 25-minute drive from Merida, Mexico’s 15-century UNESCO World Heritage city that anchors tourism for much of the preserved temples and treasures of Mayan culture surrounding. The resort brings unexpected luxury to this area with 38 private pool villas and two presidential estates on the 750-acre expanse. Perhaps what is most alluring here is the resort’s natural cenote, a mystical spring deep within a limestone cave.

Chablé’s spa integrates this natural wonder into its design and brings a formidable list of healing experiences, many of them borne from ancient Mayan traditions.

 

Chablé Resort
Yucatan, Mexico
Toll-free Tel: 844-424-2253
Email: info@chableresort.com
Website: www.chableresort.com

 

Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary
& Holistic Spa

 

Koh Samui, an island off the eastern coast of central Thailand is within easy reach, by flight or ferry, for most visitors to Thailand and once there, Kamalaya will no doubt keep you there with its Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa, tropical vegetation, ancient boulders, cascading streams, and 1.5 miles of idyllic private beach. The central feature here is the ancient monk’s cave that once served as a place of meditation and spiritual retreat. Some five dozen certified wellness professionals at Kamalaya take care of guests with life transforming programs and therapies.

Naturopaths, doctors of Chinese medicine, western medical doctors, nutritionists, life coaches, Ayurvedic and Thai therapists, fitness specialists and yoga, meditation and pranayama teachers help guests put their bodies and their lives back into balance. And, of course, the Holistic Spa brings sensual pampering using healing traditions from east and west with a menu of over 70 services.

Wellness programs include: Ideal Weight, Optimal Fitness and Sleep Enhancement; Detoxification; Relaxation & Renewal; and Yoga, while special retreats programs throughout the year add expert guidance and wisdom to the work.

 

Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa
102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang
Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140 Thailand
Tel: +011 66 77 429 800
Email: reservations@kamalaya.com
Website: www.kamalaya.com

 

Lake Austin Spa Resort

 

Lake Austin Resort & Spa is where you go to keep your New Year’s resolutions about weight management, stress reduction and a healthy lifestyle. Do it all with style, panache and fun at the resort in Austin, TX, where the days melt by in massage after massage (there are more than 100 massage, body and skincare treatments and therapies to choose from) and weight melts off in effortless hours spent hiking, practicing yoga, meditating, socializing, learning great life skills and finding your center. Guests stay in 40 guest room casitas looking over a wooded lake in the Texas hill country, 30 minutes from Downtown Austin.

Lake Austin Spa Resort
1705 S. Quinlan Park Road
Austin, Texas 78732
Tel: 512-372-7300
Toll-free: 800-847-5637
Email: info@lakeaustin.com
Website: www.lakeaustin.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

Great Plains Conservation Ride for Lions

Great Plains Ride for Lions is a five-night cross country mountain bike expedition, showcasing the striking landscapes of the Amboseli-Tsavo region in May of 2018. The cost is $15,000 per person for the 5 night program and is a fully tax deductible donation to the Great Plains Foundation. All revenue generated will be channeled into two critical aspects of lion conservation.

Through the Great Plains Foundation’s Ride for Lions, conservation-minded individuals and companies help fund and expand the amount of conserved land where lions roam freely. We do this through the purchase of land leases that cost roughly $250,000 to service and protect each year. In many cases, these leases are parcels of ex hunting land where the animal populations have significantly declined. Through programs and partnerships that rehabilitate the land and wildlife while mitigating human-wildlife conflict we have seen areas once desolate, become safe havens where lions and other wildlife return in abundance.

Participants in Ride for Lions not only demonstrate a commitment to conservation, but also intimately experience the land being conserved throughout the course of the ride.

Groups are limited to just 10 members. In keeping with the singular intimacy of this experience, riders gain a greater appreciation for the land undistracted by large groups.

Contact info@greatplainsconservation.com for more information on joining Ride for Lions.

Learn More>>

Great Plains Conservation Information >>

Sweet Bocas is the Ideal Surf Retreat

Sweet Bocas is excited to announce their recent partnership with Terry Simms Surf. Terry Simms is a pro surfer and elite surf instructor who specializes in transformational surf travel for individual, couples, families and small groups. When Simms discovered Sweet Bocas and the incredible surf in the Bocas region he saw the potential for all encompassing, luxury surf training retreats.

Inquire for a custom tailored surf retreat package with Terry Simms.

Terry Simms on Sweet Bocas>>

Sweet Bocas Information>>

Kurtz-Ahlers Trip to Vik Retreats

Everything you need to know about Vik Retreats by Rachel Newman from her Fam trip in November, 2017.

Day One

Arrived at Montevideo MVD.
Recommended American Airlines – daily flights from Miami. Transfer to Jose Ignacio is a 2-hour drive from MVD. Flights from Buenos Aires arrive in Punta del Este PDP (35 min flight) and transfer time is a 45-min drive to Jose Ignacio. Punta del Este accommodates private jets 24 hours a day. Helipad available. There are no domestic flights within Uruguay. The boat is not recommended.

Jose Ignacio is like St Tropez used to be (I am told) or the Hamptons of South America. It has a laid-back luxury vibe with a mix of modern architecture and rugged, unspoiled beaches. Only 2 story buildings are allowed, which must be approved by community members.

Busiest during the Festive season with many of the shops and restaurants opening only the week before the holidays. Guests can visit the Vik properties from Oct/Nov to April (some restaurants are closed mid-week come April). Many people stay 3-4 nights to end a multi-destination South America trip following Argentina, where the beaches are not as good.

We arrived at Estancia Vik which was Alex and Carrie Vik’s first property. Designed as a private home, the 50,000 square foot Spanish, Colonial Style Estancia was built to mirror the country; pool to the South in the direction of the ocean, garden in the North facing the countryside.

We were welcomed by Managing Director Max Broquen then we had an incredible, family style lunch paired with wine from Vina Vik, Chile. Locally grown fruits and vegetables and homemade bread and pastries all prepared by the property’s talented in-house chef, Marcelo Betancourt. Every detail in the dining room feels special, from the mismatched antique crockery to the beautiful fabrics and glass panels revealing the wine cellar below.

We had a site inspection of each other’s suites. All on the ground level with integrated living space. Each of the twelve private Suites has a unique design, displaying original art conceived for each space by leading contemporary Uruguayan artists. Patio doors open to the outdoor terrace and expansive views.

Rates include mini-bar (soft drinks & beer), activities and access to Bahia Vik.

The Estancia has a gym and spa, plus a private polo field with Criollo riding horses and an adjoining golf green with a wonderful golf practice area. A game room with a pool table, table tennis and a variety of other games are found in the Estancia house. For weddings or special events, there is a romantic chapel nestled in a grove of ancient native trees.

In the afternoon we visited the stables where they also breed horses. We met the new ponies and then went for a gentle horseback ride around the property with the manager, Thomas Laura and the groom/Gaucho who was proud of his heritage and happy to explain why he was carrying his grandfather’s dagger and whip.

For dinner, we enjoyed an Uruguayan Parillero, or BBQ, with the traditional tin walls and Fogon, or central open fire, with guests from Bahia Vik and Playa Vik (which is a 15-minute drive from Estancia Vik).

Day Two

We met at the pool for an early yoga session (led by our own Kyle Seltzer) and then had a delicious breakfast before heading to Bodega Garzon for the day. Here we took a tour and wine tasting followed by a gourmet lunch at the restaurant (not to be confused with Francis Malmann’s spot in town). Clients should allow almost a full day for this wine tour and lunch experience. You can also tour an olive oil plantation for olive oil tasting and lunch or visit Fundacion Atchugarry in Punta del Este; created by the Uruguayan artist Pablo Atchugarry in 2007.

We arrived at Bahia Vik, built on to the sand dunes and best for beach access. You enter through a beautiful vine-covered courtyard.

There are 37 rooms between Bahia Vik’s main building and the beachfront bungalows. The main building has 10 rooms, and 11 Bungalows comprise 27 rooms; 2x Three Bedroom Suites, 7x Two Bedroom Suites, 2x three and four individual suites. Each bungalow is named after the material it is manufactured from and features a distinct design scheme with art-filled interiors, a private terrace, living room and separate master bathrooms for each individual bedroom suite.

Guests from Estancia Vik and Playa Vik can join Brunches at Bahia Vik, Seafood BBQ’s at Playa Vik and next door is La Susana restaurant where guests can spend the day enjoying the beach lounge, or for authentic live music into the evening. (open December – early March).

It has 4 swimming pools, games room, Gym & Spa, Boutique shop plus access to activities at Estancia Vik.

We rode bikes to Playa Vik for a site inspection. You can also walk along the beach, but Estancia Vik and Bahia Vik no longer have access to Playa Vik facilities.

The exclusivity of this property is felt as soon as you reach the big wooden gates and security intercom. Once inside you see the avant-garde central “Sculpture” building. From inside it looks like you are on a magnificent ship looking across infinity pools and the ocean. The hotel features contemporary Uruguayan and international artists including, James Turrell, Zaha Hadid, Anselm Kiefer and Pablo Atchugarry.

Playa Vik is environmentally conscious through its extensive use of natural resources, innovative solar technologies, intelligent energy efficiency systems, as well as collecting and recycling water. All heating is done by radiant heat generated by solar tubes.

It has a total of 19 bedrooms = 6 Houses; 3x Three bedrooms with living room and two private gardens or terrace, 3x Two Bedrooms, one has no living space and the other two have the two suites (one with bunk beds + the living space). Additionally, there are 3x Suites in the main building and 1x without a view which is not sold unless requested for nanny/security. Each casa features a fireplace, art-filled interiors and has a unique design scheme, blending the interior and exterior as fully retractable windows lead out to unique private gardens. The area under the casas has been carved out to create additional space which holds the 40-foot long wine cellar, a playroom, gym and small spa featuring two treatment rooms. The 75-foot swimming pool is made from Uruguayan Black Absolute Nero granite and features a celestial map of the southern hemisphere created by small optic light points set within the floor.

Dining options include the indoor dining room, garden terrace and BBQ area with sunken fire pit overlooking Playa Mansa. Guests of Playa Vik can also access the BBQ dinners at Estancia and Playa Vik or La Susana and charge to their room. We had dinner at local hot spot, Parador La Huella.
Playa Vik

Festive season is typically booked one year in advance for Jose Ignacio, but there is good availability from February through May. All properties close from April to October, unless you book at least 6 rooms (3 night min) to warrant a buyout/extension 1 week of the season. The first one to open is Playa Vik in Oct and bahia + Estancia open in Nov. In April the restaurants are closed mid-week so try to include a weekend stay or plan dining ahead.


Day Three

We had an early departure to the airport and 2 hour 40 min flight to Santiago de Chile SCL. It is 2 hours 20 mins from Buenos Aires (16+ flights per day). Vik Chile is 2 hours south of the city by car. You can also access by helicopter.

The first glimpse of the hotel is breath-taking. Perched on a hilltop in the center of the Millahue valley (which means Golden Place). It’s floating, sculptural roof of bronzed titanium, which was inspired by the mountains, the wind, and the work of Frank Gehry and Richard Serra looks like gold in the sunlight. Conceived by innovators Alexander and Carrie Vik, in association with architect Marcelo Daglio.

We were welcomed by the GM Sabrina Fiere and a marvelous spread of fruit and cheese. Through the comfortable living room (with pool table) there is a central patio and Zen garden surrounded by a border of brightly colored flowers and on the other side is the restaurant overlooking the infinity pool and lake below.

We toured the property and once again enjoyed the art in each other’s rooms. Each of the 22 suites has floor to ceiling windows and features exclusive artwork by Chilean and international artists, most of them created specifically for the retreat in cooperation with Alexander and Carrie Vik. Master Suites are all located in the corners with double windows and more space.

We had a private yoga lesson on the deck of the log cabins set just downhill from the hotel. There are four ensuite cabins, which are more rustic in design. They are used for visiting staff members but can be reserved for guests with the option of a private chef. There is an option to book the suites at the cabin and to have meals at the hotel, with rates 30% cheaper than the hotel rooms. There is a large kitchen which can be used for private dining. The sound of birds and nature made for the most relaxing Shavasana!
The evening meal was outstanding, and we tried the Vik Blends that are produced here. They are going to start importing wines from the family vineyards but as of now, this is the only kind of wine served here!

Day Four

Today we had breakfast on the terrace overlooking the lake and then set out to visit Vina Vik.

The first thing you see at the winery is the unique, transparent, stretched fabric roof. Designed by celebrated Pritzker Prize candidate Chilean architect Smiljan Radic. The water feature on the ground adds to the drama and cools the wine barrels below. We learned how the vines are harvested by hand, at night (a great-time to visit and participate) and tasted the grape varietals and blends. The restaurant was not yet open for the season but is open to the public from November to April and they also host private tours, classes, and events here.

We spent some time relaxing at the pool and spa. The treatments incorporate the grapes and there is even a wine bath treatment. In the afternoon we went horseback riding and the horses were again beautifully kept, well trained and very sweet. It was the highlight of our day!

Our last evening meal was spent together reminiscing about our short but eventful trip.

Vik Chile rates are all inclusive;
• Buffet breakfast,
• family style lunch w/1 glass wine,
• afternoon tea,
• 4 course dinner w/1/2 bottle wine,
• mini bar (replaced daily),
• Activities; tours, biking, horseback riding.

Additional cost for Night Harvest late March – early May), Cooking classes, Yoga, SPA treatments.
Closes in June (June – August rainy season) Best time to visit = Nov–May.

Day Five

For our last day Julia surprised us with an outdoor breakfast at the culinary garden, where the team cultivates approximately 250 different organic varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout the year. We met the hens that produced our delicious eggs and helped pick strawberries which were served at lunchtime!

Most of the International flights depart in the evening so guests can enjoy the morning and lunch before heading back to Santiago.
With opposite seasons and only a 2-hour time difference, the Vik Retreats are a perfect escape from our long winters.
Kids and Pets are welcome at all properties.

Estancia Vik and Vik Chile are Virtuoso affiliated, and Vik Chile is also a partner of Traveler Made

The A List: Bucket List Trips for 2018

Will 2018 be the right year for that long-awaited bucket list vacation? With a strong U.S. economy in motion and favorable currency exchanges afoot, we predict Americans will take their bucket list vacations this year and dip into those wanted worldly adventures waiting for just the right time.

Here are some top bucket list trips that come to mind from Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates, with JoAnn Kurtz-Ahlers weighing in with her favorite on-site tips.

Africa: Great Plains Conservation Safaris

Why Go: Seeing Africa is possibly the top bucket list vacation wish for any would-be traveler and one that, done well, can be the most rewarding. Africa’s tough climates, tough economic conditions and rapidly expanding populations mean diminishing numbers for wildlife species that once reigned on these plains. A bucket list vacation in Africa through Great Plains Conservation Safaris means not only seeing Africa, but saving it too through some rare people to people and natural sciences programs available through this vacation option.

What to Do: Great Plains takes visitors who want to experience the great nature of Africa before it disappears deep into the wilds of Kenya and Botswana on immersive “glamping” trips that leave barely a footprint. Guests are, for that time, as much a natural part of the landscape as the animals and local people that live there. Recommended is a trip to Duba Plains Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta of Botswana. It’s been described as Africa’s Garden of Eden with its matrix of palm-dotted islands, flood plains and woodlands. Duba Plains Camp offers five bespoke tents as well as a separate two-bedroom suite, all calling up the romantic African safari style of the 1920’s.

JKA’s Tips: Photography is in focus for guest experiences. While high-powered cameras are available at some camps for guests use (and guests at all camps can rent special professional camera equipment), specialist photographer-guides are available (with advance notice) to meet guests and help them work the equipment and improve their photography skills. This amenity is also available at the beautiful Duba Plains Camp in Botswana. All reservations are individual, made according to guest wants and time lines.

Argentina: Arakur Ushuaia, Gateway to Antarctica

Why Go: For those well-traveled, a trip to Antarctica remains one of the last frontiers to conquer. That is why it belongs on the bucket list vacation roster. Remote at its spot at the bottom of the world and in accessible for most of the warm months on the northern hemisphere, the short window of this extreme land makes it most alluring for seeing rare wildlife in their prime. A stay at Arakur Ushuaia, a member of Leading Hotels in the World, brings welcome luxury to this cold, far place that comes alive with newborn penguins and seals, frolicking whales, open passages to the South Pole and long days of light.

What to do: Take an adventure cruise with Stella Australis that retraces the route of Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle through the secluded Fuegian Archipelago at the bottom of South America to legendary Cape Horn. Stay at Arakur Ushuaia and dine on king crab while exploring the town, that has a colorful and unusual history.

JKA’s Tips: Spend time on the outdoor pool deck at Arakur Ushuaia, immersed in the warm comforting waters of the Jacuzzi. If you time it right you may get lucky enough to be steaming in these waters surrounded by the cool winds of the Andes beneath a sky full of stars and swirling lights under the austral borealis.

Columbia: Casa San Augustin in Cartagena, Columbia

Why Go: Stay in a revamped 17th-century mansion tight in the middle of Old Town Cartagena, a town that is, in itself, a UNESCO World Heritage living museum. Casa San Agustin, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, offers 30 suites and guestrooms in what are actually three restored manors surrounding a stunning brick courtyard and pool. Each accommodation is its own design and opens to a view of the street or garden. Guests become part of this 15th century colonial settlement and can still experience the confluence of European, South American, African and Caribbean cultures that created it.

What to Do: Enjoy the mixture of cultures found in the foods, architecture, traditions and music of this great city. The hotel is right in the middle of town, close to restaurants, museums and the ramparts that protected this port for centuries.

JKA’s Tips: Try the Cartagena-style seafood chowder at Casa San Agustin’s Alma Restaurant. It’s a deliciously soft medley of lobster, shrimp, octopus, prawns and mussels, using coconut milk and a mound of fluffy rice.

Costa Rica: Villa Manzu Mansion on the Pacific

Why Go? Costa Rica is easy to get to, easy to navigate and replete with adventurous, eco-focused experiences while not forgoing luxury. Got friends? Whether a wedding, celebration or just a perfect getaway with buddies, Villa Manzu is a private mansion on the water with eight master suites, private chef and dedicated staff, within a complex of top resorts close to Liberia International Airport.

What to Do? The villa comes stocked with comfortable jeeps and SUVs and private drivers to take guests near and far. Zip line through the Witch’s Rock Canopy Tour nearby and join Bill Gates, Steven Tyler, Beyoncé, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Cindy Crawford, as graduates.

JKA’s Tips: Private yoga on the point is magical, but sometimes doing less is more and relaxing on the sands of Villa Manzu’s private beach cove is one time when this rule of action pays off brilliantly.

Ecuador: Pikaia Lodge on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

 Why Go? Visiting the Galapagos Islands is a huge bucket list vacation prize. This is mostly because getting to these parts requires a good deal of flying and often involves a cruise. An alternative to ships and crowds is the quiet peace to be found by staying at Pikaia Lodge, where Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies, Galapagos penguins, imposing iguanas and sea lions that play with swimmers are in abundance and enjoyed on terms that guests set for themselves.

Luxury yachts take small parties to some of the best coves in the archipelago for experiencing rare wildlife. Nights are quiet and spent listening to waves and peering at the stars. Accommodations are large, luxurious stand-alone spaces with private terraces overlooking the waters.

What to Do? Because guests choosing Pikaia Lodge are not ship-bound, they can choose to bike around the island and commune with enormous tortoises or go into town for some local culinary adventures. They can board the lodge’s private yacht for a day of island and cove hopping, including naps in the yacht’s private cabins.

JKA’s Tips: Pikaia Lodge’s private yacht M/Y Pikaia I is like having your own private vacation where you can observe wildlife, go hiking, swimming, sea kayaking, snorkeling and return late in the afternoon to rest up at the lodge before dinner. In addition to land and sea explorations, scuba diving, fishing and mountain biking can also be arranged.

India: Suján Luxury Camps and Palaces

Why Go? India seduces with a connection to all the senses and the visitor is transported into worlds of fantasy and imagination. Nowhere is this truer than in a palace stay or luxury encampment through Suján.

Jawai Camp in rustic Rajasthan surrounds guest with the wild and wondrous. All is quiet and calm through the red tinted dunes of meeting the horizon. All but the leopards that stir amid the rocks and the mysterious birds and monkeys that inhabit temple ruins that dot this ancient land. The Relais & Chateaux camp provides for every need within well-appointed luxury tents and candlelit dinners under the stars.

Similarly, Sher Bagh in India’s Ranthambhore National Park allows a glimpse of the wild where tigers roam, all with hand-stitched tents sheltering super luxurious double-bedroom spaces with magnificent ensuite bathrooms and private verandahs.

A more urban touch of royalty is found at a stay at Suján Rajmahal Palace, an original royal residence from the 18th century with rooms that have been temporary domain to Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Mountbatten and even Jackie Kennedy.

What to Do? Looking for leopards and hunting for tigers are two of the rare opportunities of this destination. Bird watching, hiking, tracking other wildlife, experiencing the lore of these ancient lands are all on the schedule and included in these luxury stays. Suján Rajmahal Palace is in Jaipur, with a colorful Old City that is also the epicenter of India’s jewelry and gem trade.

JKA’s Tips: At Jawai, dining under the stars on local tribal dishes while listening to hypnotic strums and chants of the local music gets pretty close to heaven. Then, to track the elusive Indian leopard, guests will rise before dawn and see the sun rise above the dunes, just a small breeze and this purity all around. Guests track these solo predators with the help of a knowing guide. Unlike Africa, an absence of lions here allows leopards to wander the paths and bush in the open rather than hide in the high branches. You get a perspective of being in their world and only a small part of nature on the grand plain.

Mexico: Magical Chablé Resort in the Yucatan

Why Go? Mexico is magic if you know where to go and Chablé Resort, just a 25-minute drive from the UNESCO archaeological ensemble of Merida, is one of those places of stunning mystery. The resort is newly opened with 40 deluxe villas and a sublime cenote or underground cave spring that centers it all.

What’s to Do? The Yucatan Peninsula and the lands around the 15th-century colonial port of Merida are often referred to as Mexico’s Egypt. There are numerous sites of pyramids and walled fortresses that were at their peak of use 1000 years ago. Toltec and local Mayan cultures tell stories in the rocks with jaguars, eagles, snakes and sacrifice, wisdom and folklore that remain mysterious and mesmerizing to this day.

JKA’s Tips: A 14-room spa surrounds the cenote at Chablé and the spa area is believed to harbor special powers from the center of the earth. While a 40-page spa guide outlines all the fitness classes, meditation and yoga sessions available (there are even special programs in Reiki and dance) guests should definitely try a treatment here, many of which draw from ancient rituals and local mysticism. Also find three plunge pools, a steam room cave laden in gold tiles, and a saltwater “floatarium.”

Mongolia: Nomadic Expeditions to Roam Far

Why Go? Few places remain as remote and pure as the 604,000 square miles of grassy plains, desert pans and mountains of Mongolia. Here, the horse and camel rule the road; the canvas yurt is the shelter of choice and the way of the warrior is still the mantra in a land still lodged in the days of Genghis Khan. For bucket list vacation questers, Mongolia will prove a star conquest, full of unusual experiences and memories. Nomadic Expeditions, based in New Jersey, is the pro-expert for travel to Mongolia, whether group, party of individual.

Guests will stay in a luxurious yurt at Three Camel Lodge and be treated to feasts fit for a 14th-century empire builder under endless windswept stars. Nomadic Expeditions also runs unusual historical adventure explorations into Nepal, Siberia and Tibet

What to Do? Hunt for dinosaur eggs in the rocks of the Gobi Desert; ride with noble horsemen on the steppes of Mongolia; ride the Silk Road by train from Moscow to Almaty crossing once treacherous no-man’s lands and visiting 6th century outposts that eventually opened up this world to western civilization; follow your path to Tibet to meditate at the roof of the world.

JKA’s Tips: The Gobi Camel Festival is an unusual take-in. It happens during the winter fest in March. The gathering near Dalanzadgad is quite a colorful spectacle and celebrates everything Bactrian.

Oman: Six Senses Resort at Stunning and Haunting Zighy Bay

Why Go? Oman only recently opened up to tourism and modernization and remains a hidden gem of the Arabian Gulf. While the location of this resort is stunning and remote, it is but a two-hour drive from bustling Dubai and a wonderful segue for anyone stopping over in Dubai or looking for luxury and adventure in the Middle East. As a Six Senses Resort, Six Senses Resort Zighy Bay is a known luxury brand and offers all that one would expect for such a striking location: large villas with private plunge pools overlooking the calm blue waters of the Gulf; a spa that puts guests into a tale by Scheherazade; restaurants with gorgeous views and fresh bounty from the sea.

What to Do? Zighy Bay is a retreat that calls to be enjoyed. Guests mostly stay in place, relaxing at the beach and pools. The Omani capital of Muscat is about five hours away by car.

JKA’s Tips: Don’t miss the chance to parasail into the resort from the cliff top above. Guests can let the resort know they are coming and arrange to parasail in while the car heads down the mountain with their bags. Also try to have a facial at the spa. Therapists use long-held local remedies, such as figs, almond powder and warm honey to bring out the glow.

Sweden: At Home at Ett Hem, Stockholm

Why Go? Ett Hem is a home, not a hotel, and gives guests the true feeling of warmth and belonging and all that goes with be welcomed into somebody’s home. Find just 12 rooms and suites in this cozy mansion that is a mere three-minute walk from Tekniska Högskolan metro station, and easy walking distance of the Stureplan shopping, museum and dining district.

What to Do? Stockholm is stacked with museums, experiences and activities: try Gamla Stan, the Old Town, the Royal Palace and the Vasa Museum for starters.

JKA’s Tips: Like any home, you can have your meals where you choose: Eat in the kitchen or perhaps a bit more formally in the library, or enjoy the garden in the cooler months from the Greenhouse. The kitchen is a favorite, though – with a grand family style table that invites conversations and plenty of treats to nibble on filling the counters and shelves, just as you would find in any home.

United States: Winter Wonders at Twin Farms, Barnard, VT

Why Go? Twin Farms may be Vermont’s best kept secret and worthy of any bucket list vacation choice. The Relais & Chateaux property is the latest iteration of an estate once owned by author Sinclair Lewis and journalist Dorothy Thompson, now reimagined with original works of David Hockney, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and other celebrated masters of our time. Winter is an especially wondrous experience at Twin Farms, with endless cross-country ski trails, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating and bragworthy dinner and weekend programs – all within four hours from New York City. Privacy is at a premium at this fully inclusive resort. Only 20 cottages and rooms here to sleep a maximum of 40 guests and most of the rooms present their own inspiration.

What to Do? Have a private gourmet picnic on a mountain or lake on the property’s 300 acres. Head to Killington Ski Area, 45 minutes away. Explore quaint New England villages for antique stores and maple products

JKA’s Tips: Go exploring in the forest on cross country skis or snow shoes. Come back for a little cognac by the fire and then head to the Bridge House Spa for an amazing soak in the Japanese furo surrounded by cathedral windows looking over the frozen meadows.

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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Arakur Ushuaia Antarctica: Luxury Lodging at the Bottom of the World

Antarctica and luxury lodging do not necessarily roll off the tongue with a smooth air. Rather, thoughts of Antarctica evoke thoughts of hard living and dying in what are one of the world’s harshest environments. But a siren’s song from the bottom of the world is making the southern passages into a bucket list destination that can now be managed with luxury lodging and comfort thanks to Arakur Ushuaia at the nethermost tip of Argentina.

Arakur Ushuaia opened in 2014 to a restless population of savvy international travelers eager to conquer what would likely be the final frontier in their travel collection as they booked exploration cruises through the Beagle Channel and the Drake Passage. After many hours of traveling, a stay at a luxury lodge at the gateway to Antarctica would be just the ticket for these adventurers, often complemented by post cruise nights and all the unusual discoveries to be made around Ushuaia, easily the world’s southernmost city.

The Arakur Ushuaia sits on a hill above the twinkling lights of the settlement that is now more than 80,000 souls (and 40,000+ tourists annually), and looks upon land and sea once unconquerable for all but the most intrepid.

The hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, makes the most of these views from the rooms, restaurants and pools (yes, you can dip with an eye toward the South Pole) in four stories of stark glass, marble and timber made soft by the cozy furnishings and warm textures within.

Beech forests surround this luxury hotel at the doorstep of Antarctica. The leaves and branches are usually covered in fresh snow balancing the silver glint of the Beagle Channel. Arakur Ushuaia seems to frame the perfect photo: the historic waters of the deepwater port below and the majestic Andes above it.

Guests linger in the magical irony that the outdoor hot tub brings – soaking in warm comforts under wide skies as snow swirls and Antarctic gusts kick up. The 117-room luxury hotel is light and airy and offers plenty of places to settle in during the course of an Antarctic exploration. The in-house restaurant, La Cravia, specializes in what can be done with the local king crab, serving it as soup, or fried with tomato sauce or as a risotto. A dinner buffet (and breakfast as well) brings a bevy of creative variety to this southern Argentine outpost. Sacrificing one’s palate preferences is not a concern, despite the remoteness of the destination.

But the views, whether from the private comfort of the accommodations with rooms that put the stunning surroundings at front and center, or from the lobby, restaurant, meeting rooms or public areas, make the Arakur Ushuaia a must for those seeking luxury lodging in Antarctica.

The Southern Lights

The South Pole may not have a Santa Claus but it does have an aurora borealis that is easily as spectacular as its northern counterpart. The eerie specter of the aurora australis is on display from March to September, the winter months in this hemisphere, and it usually happens with little warning. The trick is to be south, very far south and it so happens that Ushuaia is one of the five best places on earth to see this spectacle – that can easily be witnessed from the cozy confines of a room at the Arakur or even enjoyed while soaking in the outdoor heated pool or hot tub perched above the city.

Ushuaia Sights

Days can be spent exploring the quirky town of Ushuaia, once an outpost for prisoners and now a bustling tourist town. It maintains a ski resort feel with tony chalet-style facades lining the town’s main street. Cruise ships and cruise-focused adventure vessels line the port and narrow passages by the harbor. More than 300 cruise calls are on the books in Ushuaia through the 2017/2018 cruising season. Some 31 of the 42 vessels scheduled have Antarctica as a destination, according to the Tierra del Fuego tourism office.

The Chilean-flagged Australis line is well recommended for its size (130-210 passengers) and easy routing with three and four night excursions around Patagonia and the fjords of Tierra del Fuego featuring glaciers, penguin encounters and a sea full of history.

Local Might

The discovery of Cape Horn by two Dutch navigators in 1616 recently rounded the four-century mark. Named for a Dutch town (“Hoorn”) the route opened up an extremely significant bridge between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Charles Darwin sailed by Patagonia on the HMS Beagle during the 18th century.

The history of Ushuaia, the channel and the Tierra del Fuego unfold in some worthy museums in the town. Who would want to miss the salty sea stories that come to life at the End of the World Museum? Then there is the Maritime Museum / Prison Museum where seafaring exhibits cover early explorers and later research expeditions. The museum is on the site of the former penal colony that operated from 1884 to 1947 and held more than 600 prisoners at its peak occupancy. A highlight of the visit is a walk through the prison’s unrestored wing that remains unheated, unpainted and just as it was left, the peeling and moldy walls telling the venue’s grim tales.

Quiet Rites

But just 20 minutes north of Ushuaia, you are back in pure nature again. Chaos melts to quiet winds and a landscape of mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers and sub Antarctic forests take over in the Argentinian Andes inside the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Expedition season from November to March is busy season in Ushuaia as the ice breaks up allowing ships to pass. Icebergs are at their hugest in November, creating a surreal landscape on the seas. Wildflowers blooming on the islands, and days of 20-hour sunshine bring welcome warmth. Temperatures hover above freezing, and visitors watch seal pups, penguin chicks and whales play in the open.

February offers plenty of chances for spotting whales and windows of opportunity to cross the Antarctic Circle.

In March, temperatures return to their below freezing levels, with treacherous winds and long nights as the impassable months of April, May, June, July, August and September loom.

Late October and November remain excessively cold but offer the chance to see plenty of icebergs and catch the breeding rituals of elephant seals.

Austral Flights

Travel to Ushuaia is best managed through the three-hour direct air routes on commercial airlines from Buenos Aires.

Contact:

Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa
Cerro Alarkén 1
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
(+ 011 54) 2901 44 2900
reservas@arakur.com
www.arakur.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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KAA News Roundup

A new hotel to our collection, and a hot destination, Hotel Cartesiano in Puebla is the answer to Conde Nast in,”Why Puebla Should be Your Next Long Weekend Escape.”

Great roundup of ideal honeymoon islands, including the Galapagos and eco luxe Pikaia Lodge on The Knot.  The Galapagos is a must see destiantion, and Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast – home to Mukul – is being called the “next luxury travel destination” by The Observer and CNN.

The stunning Maldives and Six Senses Laamu are the answer to, “where is the best place you’ve ever visited?” from The Fashion Mumblr, read her blog here.

Gili Lankanfushi in The Maldives was named the most Eco-Friendly Hotel in the world at the Haute Grandeur Global Hotel and Spa Awards, AND was named the Best Destination Spa in Africa, Indian Ocean and Middle East.

Over to India and Rajmahal Palace,  where the Financial Times How to Spend It describes, “Its 14 suites bear the names of the guests who slept in them: Mountbatte where n, Kennedy, Prince of Wales.”

India of course is a go to destination for wellness, and Ananda Spa is one of the world’s best. From Vogue India, “so, whether you are the fitness enthusiast, a calm yogi, or the beauty expert, Ananda in the Himalayas has something for everyone.”

In Puglia, every road leads to a seaside town, every meal ends with digestivi. Katie Parla is warmed by Old World hospitality on a road trip along the heel of Italy’s boot in The Gourmet Traveler.

In the world of extravagance, there are the far-flung private islands of the world—and then there’s the entirely private atoll of Tetiaroa, which is in a league of its own. Read up on The Brando in Conde Nast.

Africa makes everyone’s list and Great Plains Conservation has  the lodges with the eco factor in spades, and the wow factor, too. Read this article from Got to be Gourmet on her stay at Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya.

Twin Farms is ideal for all seasons and makes #4 on the list from Andrew Harper’s 20 Favorite Hideaway Hotels.

Getaway with the girls to Lake Austin Spa – a perfect out-of-the box  ideas from The Dallas Morning News. Get inspired by these beautiful photos in Hill Country Heaven by Lindsey Calla on her stay at

Great insights from Forbes on Brush Creek Ranch, “The Ultimate Dude Ranch Retreat In Wyoming Through The Eyes Of An Eight Year Old.” Read up on Brush Creek Ranch’s boutique luxury wellness retreat, Magee Homestead, was just accepted into The Relais & Châteaux Collection.

Almanac Barcelona Special Opening Offer

Awaken Your Senses Package has been extended until March 31, 2018 and includes

Special Introductory Rate (20% off the Best Available Rate)
Early check in guaranteed from 10am
Arrival transfer to the hotel from port or airport
Warm welcome amenity
One complimentary dining experience for two in Línia Restaurant with a “Sharing Menu”
Late check out guaranteed until 6pm

All stays include:

Complimentary full breakfast at Línia Restaurant
Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
Complimentary mini bar soft drinks

Terms and Conditions

Minimum of 3 nights stay
Sharing Menu: This menu is made up of local cuisine and includes a selection of appetizers, main course and desert married with a glass of Spanish Wine.
Offer is subject to hotel’s availability, is not applicable for groups (10 or more rooms) and may not be combined with any other offers
Cancellation Policy: this rate requires a full deposit when booking and it is non-refundable
Offer is valid for stays from December 1st 2017 through March 31st 2018
10% VAT Included in the above rates. The above room rates do not include the City Tax which is 2.48€ (TAX Included) per person and night with a maximum of 7 nights and with a minimum of 16 years old (payment upon departure).

The booking must be direct through reservations.barcelona@almanachotels.com and the contact person is Begoña Borrego, Director of Revenue and Reservations.

 

 

Icy Cool Luxury Stays in Mexico and Latin America

Luxury Stays in Mexico and Latin America can be that much more local if you choose a property that provides a certain immersive experience of the place you are visiting. Two such places: Chablé near Merida in the Riviera Maya and Casa San Agustin in the Old Town section of Cartagena in Columbia fit the bill, as both offer rare remnants of the rich and sumptuous local traditions that comfort the body and feed the soul. Both belong to an intriguing chain of boutique, exquisitely designed properties known as Hamak Hotels.

Luxury Stay in Mexico: The Way of Chablé

Chablé is the latest stamp of luxury in the Yucatan near the preserved 15th century Spanish colonial walking streets of Merida. Chablé opened in 2015 on 750 acres surrounded by ancient Mayan forests less than 30 miles southwest of Merida, and near the preserved sites of great Mayan ruins that make this land so compelling.

While location is a draw for Chablé, what’s more inviting is the design of the resort, which recently received the 2017 Prix Versailles award designation presented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union of Architects to the structures that have the most remarkable interior and exterior architecture.

Such feats are experienced in accommodations defined by minimalist uses of rough-hewn limestone and rich dark woods complementing ample dimensions of wall-length windows and accenting the glass-walled bathrooms with freestanding stone tubs. Each of the 40 stand-alone villas possesses its own hammock-strung patio terrace with daybed opening to a private plunge pool. Expect the unexpected here: fresh flowers, handmade turndown treats, a complimentary mini-bar, and coffee and pastries left each morning on the terrace.

Guests cross the gates and follow a lantern lit path into another century upon check-in. The 18-century main house is a hacienda restored to the grand scale of the era welcomes guests into the Chablé world with hand-made tile floors, wooden beams, soaring ceilings, and an inviting veranda overlooking verdant lawns and gnarled, ancient Parota trees. The resort is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The Spa and Cenote comprise additional Chablé resort elements that capture the sense of place but remain unparalleled in what immersive luxury resort experiences one might find along the Riviera Maya.

The 14-room spa surrounds a large cenote. These clear freshwater limestone sinkholes are common in the Yucatán Peninsula and a must for any visitor that comes this way. They cannot be fabricated. Rather, they are a gift from nature and many believe harbor special powers in the water and earthy vibrations.

A 40-page spa guide outlines all the fitness classes, meditation and yoga sessions, even special programs in Rieki and dance. Treatments may incorporate Mayan healing rituals or such unusual approaches as Janzu water massage or temescal sweat lodge ceremonies performed by a local shaman. Also find three plunge pools, a steam room cave laden in gold tiles, and a saltwater “floatarium.”

And when its time for cocktails and dinner guests can head to Ixi’Im where they can sample from the resort’s collection of more than 3,000 bottles of tequila and learn famed Mexico City chef Jorge Vallejo the secrets of creating perfect tortillas and chocolate.

Chablé is located just minutes from the Mayan town of Chocholá, a wonderful starting point for wandering through textile shops, markets, and authentic eateries. Contact: info@chableresort.com


A Cool Luxury Stay in Cartagena: Casa San Agustin

Travels to Latin America should include some days in Old Town Cartagena. Colombia – a veritable open-air museum of a city that became a UNESCO protected world heritage site in 1984. It’s also the location of Casa San Agustin, a Hamak Hotel that opened in 2013 and wraps visitors with the perfect blend of old and new in an impeccably restored 17th century mansion.

The city itself, on Columbia’s northern coastline, was a busy trading port in its day. The Spanish settled the town in 1533 and it still shows the confluence of European, South American, African and Caribbean cultures in its traditions, foods, architecture and cultures.

Staying in and exploring Old Town is easy and most immersive with a stay at the Casa San Agustin, a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

Find 30 suites and guestrooms in what are actually three restored manors that share a stunning brick courtyard and pool. Each accommodation is its own design and opens to a view of the street or garden. Some of the rooms and suites enjoy shared gardens, or private plunge pools, and may display some of the original elements, such as wood-beamed ceilings or frescoes.

Linens are Frette and iPads are presented to guest upon request. Wi-Fi is freely available throughout and bicycles are at the ready for guests to ride through the medieval streets surrounding and onto the beach areas.

Dining at Casa San Agustin is also a treat. The Hotel’s Alma Restaurant presents destination dining that is popular among guests of the hotel and city residents as well. Chef Heberto Eljach brings in his personal interpretations of refined Colombian dishes: he serves a signature ceviche with fish, octopus, and shrimp tossed in spices and sour cream, topped with pork rinds, and served with roasted arepas. The Cartagena-style seafood chowder is well recommended – a soft medley of lobster, shrimp, octopus, prawns and mussels, using coconut milk and a mound of fluffy rice. Colombian-style bouillabaisse, as house-cured meats and fresh seasonal produce are always on the menu.

Cocktails, too, turn into extravagant elixirs with bruja twists of classics and the use of flamboyant flames to unleash the powers of special ingredients.

Easy ambles from Casa San Agustin are the ambient walking streets and intriguing attractions within the 15th century walls that protect Old Town Cartagena. Among the starred stops will be the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas built by the Spanish and marked by a dark, humid labyrinth of subterranean tunnels. Also visit Getsemaní, Old Town Cartagena’s bohemian center where artful graffiti accents the walls and buildings. Just beyond is Parque del Centenario, inhabited by sloths and pint-sized monkeys.

Cartagena’s Centro District brings worthy museums to add to a day’s activities: the Museum of Modern Art Cartagena that displays the works of Colombia’s top masters, the Museo del Oro Zenú that looks at the local uses of gold for mystical and practical applications; and there is the circa 1612 Cartagena Cathedral that crowns Cartagena’s skyline. Contact: info@hotelcasasanagustin.com


Three More Hotels from Hamak in Mexico

Currently open, Mukan – a hidden gem on the Yucatan – is the only luxury resort property in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula. The resort is ideal for multi-generational takeovers as there are endless activities for all ages. Featuring just nine luxe lodgings, the resort is 20 minutes outside Tulum with no neighbors in sight. www.mukan.com

Connecting guests with the history and colonial architecture of Puebla, Mexico – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Cartesiano offers a local mansion experience without sacrificing 21st-century creature comforts. From their posh home base in one of 78 guest rooms and suites, housed in two historic and modern buildings, including a XVI century colonial house, guests may venture into this charming city. Puebla is home to 365 churches and a famous antiques market, and renowned for its Talavera pottery. Within the hotel, two fine dining restaurants focused on rich regional flavors, a rooftop pool, a library and the serene Spa at Cartesiano await guests after a day of exploring Puebla’s 365 churches, famous antiques markets and Talavera pottery, or venturing farther afield to Cholula pyramid, Tepoztlan or Taxo. www.hotelcartesiano.com 

Opening August, 2018, Chable Maroma on the Riviera Maya is an exciting new addition to Maroma Beach. Just 35 minutes from the Cancun Airport, Chable Maroma will feature seventy suites with private pools and moon showers. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, the resort will feature beach water sports, a 17,000-square foot spa, and three restaurants. www.hamakhotels.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