Best Resort for Romance in the Seychelles: Romancing the Stone at Six Senses Zil Pasyon

It’s not hard to find romance in exotic resorts hiding in the jungle cliffs, dazzling stone outcroppings and smooth white sand beaches that characterize the Seychelle Islands. The 115-island archipelago in the clear warm waters of the Indian Ocean are more Jurassic than modern and offer all the steamy scented breezes and other-worldy ambiance one could wish for in an exotic vacation in Paradise. And while romance is what visitors will find in a retreat to Six Senses Zil Pasyon on precious Félicité Island, whether on retreat, honeymoon, or fantasy vacation guests will get something else: the unexpected.

Some 300 miles off the coast of Kenya, the French first settled these islands in 1768, followed by the British, who coveted these islands as a modern-day Garden of Eden.

Today, most visitors will head to La Digue, Coco Island, Praslin and the islands’ cultural and economic capital of Mahé. However, one island, Félicité, is an island that guests can have nearly all to themselves with a stay at Six Senses Zil Pasyon.

Barely more than a square mile in area, Félicité is an easy helicopter journey from the international airport in Mahé and has been the target destination of royalty and celebrity, including model and actress Elizabeth Hurley,  who targets the Six Senses resort as a destination for privacy, unspeakable beauty, discovery, and sensual quiet.

They find the 30 of this top Seychelles resort’s one- and two-bedroom villas and several of the capacious residences to be the perfect place to find peace, find themselves, find each other. Six Senses Zil Pasyon villas start at 1,880 square feet for a one-bedroom configuration, each with an inviting terrace overlooking the ocean with a private dipping pool and daybeds. A deep soaking tub as the centerpiece of the bathroom’s floor-to -ceiling window frame on the ocean’s horizon, and the bathroom’s whimsical swing seat on that view, add to the romance of these resort accommodations.

Couples find the king four-poster bed wrapped in gentle gossamer netting to be particularly evocative. The bed overlooks the blue waters beneath a wooden vaulted ceiling and is surrounded by handsomely-designed, locally-sourced wood furnishings. The island offers three white sand beaches, plenty of private coves, a main pool by the beach, a saltwater pool in the spa and the private pools attached to each villa for sybaritic refreshment.

Upon arrival, a villa butler, actually a Guest Experience Maker or GEM, goes over activities that are possible to make the visit a lifetime memory. Snorkeling? Some of the best in the world can be enjoyed a quick boat ride away at Île Cocos, where guests can swim with whale sharks, turtles, barracudas, and parrotfish. Hiking? Bien sûr! Guests may explore the heart of the island with a guided hike by the island’s ecologist or the resort’s sustainability manager, or a private day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallee de Mai on the island of Praslin can be drawn. Guests can go bird watching in lands that time forgot. They can bike ride around the island of La Digue, learn about the ecology of the islands and see efforts to regain original fauna and flora lost through centuries of human habitation — even learn to speak Creole.

Top Spa in the Seychelles

Some of the best of the Seychelles, however, can be found at the resort, especially after a day of discovery in this remote archipelago. The Spa, is one of the best on these islands, if not all Africa. Measuring just under 20,000 square feet, it sprawls amid private treatment suites, giant boulders and hammans with five rooms that open to the ocean, perfect for couples. The quarters are connected by a rope bridge suspended along a boulder pathway toward the ocean waters below, harnessing the sounds from the breaking waves. Treatments are “journeys” that fuse the island themes of granite, earth, sea and nature and work on the body’s seven chakras and can be followed by a soak in the saltwater infinity pool over the ocean. Beauty treatments and yoga are also on the menu.


Dining Delights in the Seychelles

Any romantic resort in the Seychelles would also have to have a special touch with food and Six Senses Zil Pasyon handles that focus with a fresh-from-the-sea approach and several venues where meals can be enjoyed: sland Café, Ocean Kitchen (loved by pescatarians!), The Wine Vault, Lakanbiz Rum Bar, and the poolside Koko Bar. And those who want to linger in the private spaces of their own pool and terrace can enjoy room service and sipping from their own in-villa wine cellar stocked with international and local options. The resort maintains a policy of not charging an additional fee for in-villa dining orders.

Those seeking nightlife will find it in the capital city of Victoria, on the island of Mahé. But those seeking the night sky will be happy to enjoy the resort, where the equatorial sky has a show every night while it is possible to sip fine wine or brandy and simply listen to the breeze. The resort offers complimentary cinema under the stars as well, two nights a week, or private screenings on-demand for a fee.


A Guide to the Seychelles

Six Senses Zil Pasyon is located 30 nautical miles northeast of Mahé (location of Seychelles International Airport – SEZ) and is accessed by a scenic, 20-minute helicopter flight.

Alternatively, domestic flights from Mahé Airport to Praslin airport can be booked through Air Seychelles. From there, or La Digue, Félicité Island is only a short private boat trip away.

Flights to SEZ are abundant enough, especially with connecting flights from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Nairobi and South Asia on major commercial airliners. Air France, Austrian, British Airways and Turkish Airlines also fly there. Location is east of Kenya and north of Madagascar. U.S. passport holders need only proof of lodging, sufficient funds and return ticket to be given entry. Travel between islands is best facilitated by helicopters, although there is scheduled ferry service between the main islands of Mahé, La Digue, and Praslin (operated by Seychellesbookings.com).

A visit to Victoria on Mahé tells it all: the town presents beautifully preserved French and British colonial architecture along its thoroughfares, and restaurants reflect the islands’ more than 500 years of foreign imprints (Seychelles gained its independence in 1976) in restaurants that run French to British to Portuguese to Chinese to Indian to island. Victoria is the place for cultural take-ins, museums, shopping and nightlife. Otherwise, visitors come for the beaches. As the islands are so far asunder, many remain uninhabited and nearly untouched by humans.

But there is more than beach to the Seychelles and on Praslin, the Vallée de Mai Nature Preserve offers amazing jungle walks and the chance to experience nature that has remained isolated since the beginning of time. That includes sightings of the Seychelles black parrot, which can only be found here.

Visitors will need to pack sturdy shoes along with their hats and bathing gear. Six Senses Resort Zil Pasyon may be a top resort for romance in the Seychelles, but it is also the top resort for guests who want to fall in love with the Seychelle Islands.

Contact

Six Senses Resort Zil Pasyon
Félicité Island
P.O. Box 696, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles
Telephone: (855) 695-6693 (toll-free)
E-mail: reservations-zilpasyon@sixsenses.com
Website: www.sixsenses.com/resorts/zilpasyon/

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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Trisara Phuket: Leading the Luxury Tier in Thailand’s Top Beach Resort

Trisara Phuket puts a private luxury resort in Thailand on the map where visitors would usually find a phalanx of budget to mass market, to family-friendly inns eager to offer proximity to public beaches with a bunch of affordability.

But if you are a celebrity (Trisara Phuket has been a fave with Maroon 5 and Paris Hilton) or want to be treated like one, choosing Trisara as your resort for a visit to Phuket, Thailand, ensures a seamless stay in stunning surroundings.

An easy 15-minute transfer from Phuket International Airport, Trisara is  a 40-acre hideaway on a secluded beach. Privacy is at a premium here. Some 63 individual pool villas and suites and an array of 2- to 7-bedroom lavish residences peek out of a forest of bamboo canopies and banana trees on a hill overlooking the Andaman Sea. Orchids, lilies and lotus plants line the trickling waterscapes that meander through the resort. The wind through the leaves and the calm, lapping waves providing the soundscapes.

Luxury at Trisara Phuket

Trisara brings a selection of one- and two-bedroom pool villas starting with a 1,450-square-foot Jr. Suite (and going as large as two bedrooms with 3,200 square feet). All villas offer a signature element that separates Trisara into a class of its own when it comes to hospitality choices on Phuket: a spacious pool terrace with dreamy ocean views. Luxury at Trisara Phuket can easily be defined as desire to stay wrapped up in these sumptuous accommodations. But there are plenty of draws at the resort competing for guests’ ooohs and aaahs.

While it is tempting to order room service and enjoy quiet meals on your private terrace, two restaurants at Trisara offer two different approaches to fine dining in both taste and ambience. PRU bases its menu on western approaches of farm-to-table cuisine and provides locally sourced ingredients from its very own farm within unusual fusions of eastern and western culinary philosophies. Think: Phang Nga black crab salad with marinated kohlrabi, local avocado, PRU papaya and a crab sauce infused with foraged sour leaves; or pumpkin cooked overnight in a pit and then topped with homemade goat cheese and sorrel leaves.

A second restaurant, Seafood at Trisara, offers authentic and fresh Thai seafood from the Andaman Sea inspired by long-forgotten local “Mama” recipes. Casual comfort food and cocktails are served on The Deck, which overlooks the resort’s secluded beach. It’s also the location of a must-do Sunday Jazz Brunch.

For private groups, weddings that seat up to 100 guests can be arranged at the resort’s picturesque Sunset Point, or in one of the lavish private pool residences.

Trisara Phuket: Simple Thai Surprise

Massage and pampering treatments are also on the menu at Trisara. JARA Spa receives continued buzz for its legendary “Royal Trisara Six Hands Massage.” This is one time when three is not a crowd — six hands knead and stretch in the traditions of Thai medicine to produce a harmonious, sublime balance. Organic, chemical-free potions are used for massage and facial treatments, aiming to touch the five pillars of physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Treatments as simple as a 60-minute foot massage, or as involved as the six-hour holistic JARA Wellbeing Discovery, are all rooted in traditional Thai healing practices, some of which date back thousands of years.

Tours and Treats at Trisara Phuket

As one of the few resorts in Phuket to offer a private beach, guests often spend time in the peaceful cove waters and protected white sand expanse, snorkeling and enjoying the beach’s ease of use. But Trisara can arrange cruises to special snorkel spots, to the Similian Islands and to the beaches of Phang Nga Bay, UNESCO world-heritage site. The tour circles dramatic limestone islets that jut from the emerald sea. There, you will see James Bond Island, an iconic limestone tower surrounded by water, seen in the 1974 film The Man with The Golden Gun. An air-conditioned fitness gym is available for those who want to stay in shape and a small kids’ club is available for families, although the resort is mostly popular with adults and honeymooners.

Although Trisara tends to be quiet and peaceful, that does not mean the party does not go on. Trisara guests have access to nearby Dream Beach Club, a well-known brand in glamorous beach club spots offering cozy day beds, flows of sushi and champagne and a guest list that often includes billionaires and celebrities from around the world. The beach, swimming pool, restaurant, all day DJ ensures the party never stops … and then there is the welcome quiet of Trisara waiting at the end of the craziness.

Stay at Trisara; Explore Phuket

Phuket is well worth the exploration in its own right. Only 90 minutes from Bangkok, numerous flights from Bangkok make it easy and a must for anyone visiting Thailand. Knowns as the Pearl of the Andaman, Phuket is the largest island (bridge connected) located on the southern leg of Thailand reaching down toward Malaysia. The area bears the influence of the Portuguese, Dutch, English and Chinese traders and Burmese invaders before a succession of Siamese kings strengthened their hold on the land.

A walk through the narrow, preserved streets of Old Phuket Town brings a colorful collage of Sino-Portuguese buildings developed through profitable centuries of mining and trading in tin and now converted into a lively collection of shops, hotels, restaurants and museums. Trisara’s Senior Resort Hosts gladly take guests on a hosted tour of the lesser known streets of Phuket Town, and introduce them to intriguing local artists and gourmet street food stalls.

Other take-ins include Phuket’s revered Big Buddha landmark, the island’s renowned monastery of Wat Chalong, and the sweeping views at Promthep Cape.

Nature and animal lovers can head to the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, a vast jungle reserve home to a handful of rescued elephants that guests can observe from a respectful distance.

Diving enthusiasts can get trained at Koh Tao (costs for PADI certification are relatively reasonable in Thailand) then head out to Similan Islands National Park for some once-in-a-lifetime submerged sightseeing.

Island boat tours, a rivetingly beautiful elephant show at Fantasea, a visit to a small and remote band of “sea gypsies at Rawai Village, even a half-day cooking lesson at the Blue Elephant Cooking School – there is no shortage of actions and distractions in Phuket. But a stay at Trisara, Phuket guarantees guests time to experience the real Phuket through the pauses.

Contact:
Trisara

60/1 Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Road
Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Phone: (+66 76) 683320-6 4
Email: reservations@trisara.com
www.Trisara.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

40% Off Rates in Puebla at the New Cartesiano Hotel

Enjoy 40% off room rates at Cartesiano in Puebla, Mexico until March 31, 2018.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puebla is one of Mexico’s oldest colonial cities and features 365 churches, famous antiques markets and Talavera pottery, and nearby Cholula pyramid, Tepoztlan or Taxco. See below for “10 Things you Need to Know About Puebla.”

Choose from any room category of the 78 guest rooms and suites, housed in two historic and modern buildings, including a XVI century colonial house. Within the hotel, two fine dining restaurants focused on rich regional flavors, a rooftop pool, a library and the serene Spa at Cartesiano.

The 40% is valid through March 31, 2017, no minimum night stay, refundable up to 24 hours prior to arrival.  If cancelled within 24 hours there is a 1 night penalty. It is applicable on all rooms, and its just room only.

Book online here >>

Ten Things You Need to Know about Puebla

1.      First Settlement

Puebla was founded on April 16th 1531 as the first ‘perfect’ city in the Americas; that is, a city built to accommodate only Spaniards.

2.      Documentary Heritage of The City

Unlike other cities, the Archive of the City of Puebla preserves unique documents such as the original Royal Charter that establishes its foundation and its Royal Provision, showcasing the famous coast of arms of the city. Because of their importance, the aforementioned documents and many others belonging to the Archive have been inserted in the UNESCO-Mexico Memory of the World Register.

3.      A Historic Centre to Admire

The Historic Centre of Puebla (‘World Heritage’ by UNESCO since December 11th 1987), contains 2619 monuments distributed across 391 blocks allocated over 6.9 square kilometers; making Puebla the city with the largest number of monuments in the Americas.

4.      Mexican History And Puebla

Many relevant historical events have occurred in the city of Puebla; for example, the famous “Battle of 5 de Mayo” commemorated even outside of Mexico. This battle tool place in 1862 and in it the Mexican army defeated the French army (then considered the strongest of all). Furthermore, the city is the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution; on November 18th 1910 the Serdán siblings were attacked at their house by the Mexican government due to their subversive ideas and activities. The revolution movement spread across the country in the days after this attack.

5.      The Only Place Where You Can Find Such Thing

The Puebla Talavera is one of the few Mexican products with protected designation of origin. Talavera is a type of ceramic that has been produced without interruption for more than four centuries, making it one of the most important Folk Art expressions of Mexico.

6.      A Mouthful of Joy

The Pueblan Gastronomy is one of the most diverse and exquisite in Mexico and the world. Puebla has provided Mexico with its most traditional dish: Mole Poblano (chilli chocolate sauce). Also, one can find their: Chiles en Nogada (spicy peppers filled with mince and covered in batter and nut sauce), Chalupas (small fried tortilla snacks) and Cemitas (giant baps).

7.      Memory Of The World In Puebla

The Palafoxian Library is considered the oldest library in the Americas with an intact collection and where the building and all the shelves and furniture are original. These characteristics lead UNESCO to add the Library to its Memory of the World Registry in June 2005.

8.      A Treasure Protecting More Treasures

The Cathedral of Puebla is considers one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, in addition to having the tallest towers in the continent. Furthermore, The Cathedral safeguards an important art collection (paintings, sculptures, music compositions and documents).

9.      A Paradise in Puebla

African Safari is the most important zoo-safari in Latin America. Wild animals roam free and make an unforgettable experience for visitors encouraging them to love and respect our planet.

10.  The Eighth Wonder of The World

The Chapel of the Rosary is the greatest baroque jewel of the seventeenth century in Puebla and Mexico. Since the day it opened its doors on April 16th 1690. The Chapel has been seen as one of a kind due to its symbolism and the quality of its decorations which are largely covered with gold foil.

Special Offers at The Brando

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

A

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.

www.kurtzahlers.com