Weddings in Italy Blessed by the Tuscan Sun: La Corte dei Papi

A wedding in Italy can be a marriage blessed by the Tuscan sun if it’s a bountiful ceremony in the gardens of La Corte dei Papi. As Valentine’s Day approaches, spring weddings are not far behind and few weddings can be as romantic and saturating for the senses as a wedding in Italy.

La Corte dei Papi delivers just what the imagination desires with acres of blooms in the rolling foothills of Tuscany. The stately 17th century manor can regale a party of two or manage a sit down celebration for 150 friends and relatives with multi-course goodness, paired with the finest wines from the local countryside and all in a manor the seems to step right off the silver screen — a scene that will be remembered and spoken of for years to come.

La Corte dei Papi is an easy choice for stays in the Tuscany, be they weddings, honeymoons, romantic escapes or simply sensual discovery. The property is located a mile or two from Cortona in the fertile spine of the Etruscan hills. It offers 15 palatial guest rooms and suites overlooking rolling greenery that would have been the same view if painted by grand artists of the post Renaissance era or observed by tenant farmers casually walking their goods to markets in centuries past. The country house of stone and wood has been in the hands of the Papi family for generations and is now the home and hub for those wishing to put shape to their bucket list fantasies of vacationing in Italy.

Baroque guest room furnishings, accented by rich wood flooring and handsome, heavy textiles and drapery keep the luxury element at front and center. A spa and spa suites at La Corte dei Papi offer some healing respite from long journeys, if not beauty treatments before the big day. Dining is an event as well, whether a casual dinner or a celebratory feast as the restaurant is in the old cellar of the country house with surroundings of stone walls, timber ceilings and terracotta floors. In warm weather, the joys of dining move outside to take in the pool and gardens in a fairytale of sparking lights when the sun goes down. All dishes are homemade and in the traditions of the region. Cooking classes offered by chef Giuseppe reveal culinary secrets long held by the locals.

La Corte dei Papi is about location and country living in Italy. Whether traveling solo, two for the road or with a frenzied and excited wedding party, the staff at this Relais & Chateaux retreat are up to the task of making memories happen. Beyond the intricacies of planning a wedding, La Corte dei Papi can plan your day, or your days in this Tuscan outpost with activities that will answer every call.

Guests can play Marcello Mastroianni, and Anita Ekberg for the day in their Maserati, cruising the hairpin turns in the Etruscan hills in search of their own Trevi Fountain in a slice of personal Dolce Vita. They can ride bikes through country lanes lined with olive trees and Roman pines, explore hillside towns with sleepy church squares and shaded bistro cafes. They can shop – La Corte dei Papi can arrange shopping excursions to prestigious designer outlets that put luxury brand names within reach. And they can taste. Italy is as much about the food and the wine as it is about fine art, Renaissance architecture, and the good life. There are wineries to visit, vintages to try and cuisines to explore.

La Corte dei Papi packages up these experiences for guests with onsite tastings of local prize-winning wines from the estate’s cellars, to escorted visits through local vineyards in Tuscany and Umbria that will take guests deep into the history and culture of the region. Legendary wine cellars near Cortona to be visited might include Antinori, Avignonesi, Poliziano, Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino.

Romance is always close at hand at Relais La Corte dei Papi and celebrating Valentine’s Day in Italy may be as romantic as it gets. A Valentine’s Day romance package that runs through February includes a night in a Spa Suite (the property has three of these, each with its own inspiring features), a bottle of Champagne and a bouquet of roses, breakfast in bed with a huge selection of cheeses, meats, fruit, house-made cakes and warm bread, and two full body massages in the suite. The Spa Suites offer large marble Jacuzzi bathtubs and large Turkish Bath showers with an array of special effects. Packages start at around $500 per night. Winter season standard rates at Le Corte dei Papi start at around $200 per night.

La Corte dei Papi Relais is practically walking distance Cortona, in the heart of the hills at the border between Tuscany and Umbria. Cortona is a marvel in itself: an ancient Etruscan city surrounded by ancient Etruscan walls with a preserved Cathedral and a Diocesan museum. Florence is an hour far away by car or train.

There is music in these hills: the Umbria Jazz Festival will run this year from July 8-17 in Perugia, and the music festival “Dei due Mondi” of Spoleto, a multifaceted affair with grand opera to conferences on science and economics, classical ballet to experimental theater, chamber music and daily jazz concerts in the town square, is scheduled for mid-June to mid-July.


Getting Married in Italy? Know before you go:

Marriages made in Italy are legal under the eyes of the U.S. government. Civil ceremonies can be arranged in as few as three days. Weddings blessed by the Catholic Church, however, demand a little more time and effort.

For ceremonies in the Church, take passport, baptismal and confirmation certificates, and birth certificate. The birth certificate must be sent to the Secretary of State of the state in which you were born to receive an “Apostille” stamp, which authenticates official documents for use in Italy. An Apostille stamp is also needed to authenticate any termination of a previous marriage. If a previous divorce, annulment or death has been recorded properly on the Atto Notorio then these documents are no longer necessary.

Any previous marriage of the bride must have been dissolved at least 300 days before the date of the proposed marriage (a woman whose previous marriage termination was within the last 300 days must obtain a waiver from the Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale (District Attorney’s office) at the Palazzo di Giustizia (Courthouse), in the city where the new marriage will be performed. The waiver is issued upon presentation of medical evidence that the applicant is not pregnant.


All official documents be translated into Italian and authenticated by the U.S. Italian Consulate before Italian authorities will consider these valid. Thus, the “Apostille” stamp, in accordance with The Hague Convention, is required. In the US, the Secretary of State in the State where the document was issued is the place to go.


Before leaving the U.S. to get married in Italy, it is advisable to obtain an Atto Notorio from the Italian Consulate closest to your current residence.  This simply states that, in addition all other sworn statements, there is no obstacle standing in the way of the subject’s marriage.


This declaration is to be sworn to by two witnesses (a witness may be of any nationality, but must be over 18, with current photo ID), before an Italian Consul outside Italy or, in Italy, before a Court official in the city where the marriage is to take place. A local wedding planner can speed this along by fixing courthouse dates in Italy. The planner can also arrange for the Nulla Osta document that codifies the fact that “there are no impediments,” or that each member of the couple is free to marry, according to the laws of the state where each member lives.


Couples marrying in Italy will need at least three days to complete all the work and authentification, a task made easier with the help of an onsite wedding planner at La Corte dei Papi or an agency in Italy that handles the preparations. Couples should not apply for documents and certificates more than six months before the wedding, as these will expire under Italian regulations.


La Corte dei Papi

903-904 Via La Dogana 12
52040 Cortona
Loc. Pergo
Arezzo, Italia
(+011 39) 0575 614109


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.

KAA News Roundup

Find some travel inspiration for the coming year from this bucket list from The Washington Times. Or, just take incognito travel critic Andrew Harper’s advice and visit Song Saa, winner of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway of the Year.

Read Bride to Be Magazine’s Q & A with a couple on their wedding at Song Saa and Positive Luxury’s List of 4 New Year’s resolutions you’ll want to keep includes a resolution to “Book a Holiday that Counts” recommending a stay at Song Saa. Honeymooning? Read this guide from Venuelust, “Where to Honeymoon in January.”

Down to New Zealand, where Matakauri Lodge is the perfect spot to heli ski from Inside Hook, Five Fairly Ridiculous Ski Destinations.” Sister property Kauri Cliffs and Mukul Resort in Nicaragua were both featured on Orbitz, “7 great golf resorts (where you don’t even have to like golf).”

More news from Mukul this month including a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice list of The Best Spas in the World, and a spot on the Gold List of the World’s Best Hotels. Mukul also makes Vogue’s list of 10 Amazing Winter Wedding Destinations Near and Far, and a great piece from Men’s Journal.  Architectural Digest featured Mukul, plus Song Saa and Pikaia Lodge Galapagos in their short list – 5 Beautiful Eco-Friendly Lodges.

Pikaia Lodge was also featured in A Luxury Travel Blog’s list of the 6 of the best hotels in the Galapagos Islands.

Over to Columbia, where Amber Lair and Compass and Twine featured our new client, Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, Columbia in their article on what makes a great boutique hotel.

Down to Uruguay where The New York Post writes on Bahia Vik, “Check into Uruguay’s hottest new retreat,” and Estancia Vik’s tub made Kiwi Collection’s List of Extraordinary Soaker Tubs. Sister property in Chile, Viña Vik, was featured along with the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Six Senses Douro Valley and The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu in Elle Magazine’s list of the world’s best spas.

Up, and then up again to Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland.  Fogo Island Inn makes the list of winners of 2015 Air Canada enRoute Hotel Design Awards, and makes The Telegraph’s list of the world’s 50 best hotels. Read more by Airows, “This Luxurious Hotel In The Middle Of Nowhere Is A Must Visit,” a review by Global Traveler, and by Slant News “Why Fogo Island Inn Should Be Your Next Vacation Destination.”

In Vermont, Twin Farms in in Town & Country Magazine’s article, a Luxury Sleepaway Camp for the Ultra-Rich, and in Fodors roundup of 10 Unique Après-Ski Spots in the U.S. Twin Farms Chef Nathan Rich to attend Michelin-Studded Relais & Chateaux Food & Wine Festival February 25-28, 2016, and the hotel makes the list from Business Insider of The Best Hotel in Every State. Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming and Lake Austin Spa in Texas also make the list, congrats!

More news from Brush Creek Ranch – named #1 in Conde Nast – The 20 Best Spas in the USA: Readers’ Choice Awards 2015. Martha Stewart Weddings included the ranch as one of four Amazing Ranch Wedding Venues.

One last stop in the US is Halekulani on Oahu, Hawaii. Congratulations to this iconic hotel, the only Hawaii property on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2016: The World’s Best Hotels.

Keeping it tropical, Gili Lankanfushi is home to the world’s largest overwater villa. Take a peek inside with Blouin Artinfo. Gili Lankanfushi is #2 Trip Advisor’s list of the 25 Best Hotels of 2016.

Up to to India where Delectably Chic reviews The Lodhi, New Delhi, “If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be royalty, then the Lodhi Hotel in New Delhi is the place for you. Awards this month for SUJAN Luxury, Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur include a spot on Andrew Harper’s very short list for the 2016 Grand Awards.

Sher Bagh in Ranthambhore received a 2016 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award and both Rajmahal Palace and Ananda Destination Spa were named to Conde Nast Traveler’s 2016 Gold List of The World’s Best Hotels. More wellness news from Ananda, featured in Travel + Leisure, “Seven Affordable Spas for a Rejuvenating Getaway.”

An exciting new wellness getaway in Forbes, “Chablé Resort to Open Stunning Underground Cenote Spa in Mexico’s Yucatán Jungle.”

More wellness in Mexico, where Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico was reviewed by Pop Sugar and featured in Vogue as one of 6 favorite resorts for a tech-free vacation, and of course the ranch made this short list from Conde Nast, “The Best Spas in the World: Readers’ Choice Awards 2015″

Down to what feels like your best friends lake house – Lake Austin Spa Resort. Read up on this wellness paradise in Fitness Galore and O Magazine.

Looking for a wedding venue? The 8-bedroom Villa Manzu in Costa Rica can bring the magic, and makes the list from The Robb Report.

Where to Go in February: The Best Places to Travel from Wendy Perrin features a trip by WildChina.

Our team had a wonderful week of events with Six Senses during their first ever US Roadshow, and from Forbes, read up on news from the boutique eco luxury hotel group.







Top Trends in Wellness 2016: From Technology to Travel

Some of the top trends in Wellness for 2016 may have as much to do with technology as they do with rejuvenation. Fresh from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 come no shortage of gizmos to track heart rate, steps, where you have been, where you are going and, of course, calories.

While many of these items are already available in a variety of forms, here is a short run down of gadgets for those who want to go for the gold in their own well being, fitness and mindful approach to living.

1. While the Apple Watch is getting kudos for getting wearers off the couch, Fitbit unveiled its new Blaze, which offers a neat watch face along with on-screen workouts powered by FitStar. It uses GPS to track runs, continuously monitors heart rates, and records sleep patterns.

2. When plans call for a good night’s sleep, Sleep Number’s new Sleep IQ is a smart bed that tells you how you might best adjust your mattress for the evening given the type of day you have just had. It also adjusts for you based on predictive modeling and sensors.

3. Control your destiny, or at least where your feet are taking you, through this French maker’s idea of the perfect sneaker – based on a design concept that might have been cool in a Back to the Future film. The Digitsole by Zhor Tech warms your feet on cold days, tracks your comings and goings, keeps your calorie tally going, tightens and loosens wherever you need it and adjusts insoles to manage shock absorption automatically. No need to plug your shoes in at night. They charge wirelessly. Naturally there is an app for this. The shoes will be available for all sizes when they come out this spring.

4. There were no shortages in smart watches, fitness watches, health monitors and GPS trackers at CES this year, but none could claim such beauty as this: Swarovski Activity Tracking Jewelry. Not only does this item track your movements, your calories, your sleep patterns, and your couch time, but it can be worn to a cocktail party and gets its power from the sun. Tell the time, stay fit, be green, impress a date and never run out of energy – and it is sold in retail stores where bling is king.

5. How many of us end up in a hotel room plagued by outside noise or in a time zone that has us roaming a strange room at odd hours while waiting for the sun to rise? Bedphones is a comfortable earbud set that lays on your ears rather than in them, and plays the music you want, the storybook you want, the white noise you want with an attached app that senses when you are sleeping and turns itself, and the phone, off. They come with a comfy satin eye mask.

6. Wellness often means spending a lot of time in the outdoors and even though you smear your exposed skin with all manner of sun protection, those UV rays still get in. Cosmetics company L’Oreal has teamed up with a Massachusetts-based flexible electronics company called MC10 to create MyUVPatch, an adhesive patch users can apply to their skin. A corresponding mobile app tracks their UV exposure and let’s them know when it’s time to get some shade.

7. According to OMsignal, every bra tells a story. The company focuses on smart, fitness monitoring clothing and is adding a sports bra to the lineup. The bra is adjustable and available in a variety of styles. Built-in sensors track breathing, heart rate, workout intensity and calories burned. A “smart box” stores all the data so you can leave the phone at home. It is expected to be available this Spring.

8. A new company called Halo has created a smartband worn around the forehead that monitors stress and tension and gives feedback to help manage chronic tension headaches, migraines, and TMJ pain. The band offers soothing “alert” vibrations to get you to calm down when tension is high, allows you to monitor your tension points for patterns, and provides real-time relaxation training exercises developed by top clinical specialists.

9. If you can’t monitor your calorie intake every time you eat, now your utensils can. Spun Utensils offers smart forks and spoons that count every bite, track nutritional intake, help you pace those bites and provide gentle reminders for food intake recommendations.

Wellness 2016 and Where to Find It

No matter what smart technology you wear, there is nothing like a week or even a weekend at a destination spa resort to get the mind primed, the chi pumped, the calories burned and the beauty rebooted.

Here are some highly recommended destination spa resorts, each offering a variety of special qualities that other resorts do not.

Ananda in the Himalayas combines the vacation of a lifetime in the foothills of the Himalayas with exotic health treatments guaranteed to help guests reach their share of nirvana. The setting is a former Raj’s palace where nature is woven into the romantic architecture. Treatments are set to balance the five senses through the wisdom of the Vedas. Two-night and three-night packages are available that introduce the magic of Ananda. Most recommended: Ananda Detox-Starter. The four-night program targets toxins that constantly build up in the body due to pollution and other environmental factors and lead to lack of energy, weight gain and low mood. The program integrates the essential elements of Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, Yogic Kriyas, Meditation and Personal Fitness – and all with a dosha-based customized diet that leaves you refreshed, toned, glowing and energized.

Chable Destination Spa
in the Mexican Yucatan will be opening this year with a magical spa resort set in Mayan forests only 25 minutes’ drive from Merida. The resort is surrounded by mystical Mayan ruins far enough from civilization to hear the spirits in the trees but close enough to take advantage of some of Mexico’s best museums, galleries and markets. The centerpiece of Chable is the cenote – a natural cave with an open ceiling that was held sacred by civilizations past. The spa at Chable integrates this cenote with Mayan traditional healing and customized treatments.  The spa, itself, features nine treatment rooms, a steam room, a sauna, a salt cabin and a floatarium as well as warm and cold whirlpools of varying temperatures and pressures, a relaxation area and a relaxing pool for sunbathing.

Rancho La Puerta
, just over the California border in Tecate, Mexico, reminds us that we are not just worker machines in a wash, rinse, repeat world. While fitness is at the heart of the program, this sprawling retreat high in the foothills of Baja near mystical Mt. Kuchumaa, presents a setting of quiet, beauty, stillness of heart and mind and stunningly healthy cuisine. And while this is a retreat you can visit alone and find your inner spirit on hikes through the desert and lone morning meditations, Ranch La Puerta is also a place you can take your spouse and/or your family. Everyone gets love at The Ranch and that means programs, such as family week in late July, which offers children explorations in nature, cooking, crafts, adventures and spirit while parents indulge in their own discoveries alone or with family members.

in Hua Hin, Thailand, just two hours’ drive from Bangkok, the pursuit of health and wellness gets a big boost from eastern medicine. Thailand, already known for its modern hospitals and advances in medical tourism, combines the setting of quiet, white sand beaches, golden icons of Buddha looking out over the Gulf of Thailand, and a prevailing culture of inner peace with healing practices, rejuvenation therapies and new beauty treatments for those willing to go the distance. Chiva-Som offers stays in elegant Lanna-style villas, amazing meals from pure, energy-boosting foods and sessions with some of the best practitioners in Thailand. Guests work toward customized goals ranging from losing weight, to quitting addictions, to boosting fitness, busting stress, healing headaches or simply erasing those fine lines of life from a smile.

Recommended at Chiva-Som: Intensive beauty treatments by Chiva-Som’s onsite Niranlada Medi-Spa. These can range from laser skin rejuvenation treatments and tightenings to Botox to recontouring sessions – all in a relaxing and healing resort setting. Otherwise, a simple Retreats Introduction package packs in a complete plan for Holistic healing with a combination of consultations and medical analyses for body, skin and lifestyle, plus daily regimen of fitness classes, water therapies, and relaxing healing body treatments, complemented by three amazing meals a day.

Lake Austin Spa in the rolling Texas hill country is a great choice for a fun spa vacation, especially for those who prefer to stay closer to home. All-inclusive packages feature healthy and satisfying cuisine that can be matched to fit individual calorie requirements, a roster of activities to keep the body pumped and primed and more than 100 relaxing spa treatments for both women and men. The resort spreads out along the shores of Lake Austin with 40 lakeside cottages. A sprawling, 19-acre spa area anchors the resort with indoor and outdoor pools, Jacuzzis and cabanas, some 30 treatment areas to accommodate groups, couples and friends as well as individuals, and two acres of terraced foliage and aquatic gardens.

Recommended: Girlfriend getaways get special attention at Lake Austin Spa. The resort offers “women inspired” events and great opportunities for bonding through special treatments and specially designed classes, such as Communications Skills, Basic Photography, Gratitude Bracelets, Watercolor Crafts, Discover Your Strengths, and more. A full calendar of informative and compelling classes in such areas as meditation, yoga, breathing, nutrition, relationships, and mental clarity can be counted on for any visit, any time of the year.


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.


Gili Bonus Night Package

Leave your shoes and worries behind and escape to your very own daydream getaway. Marvel at the azure shades of turquoise lagoon that surround you, so close you can literally taste the Indian Ocean from the comfort of your Villa hammock.

Enjoy a complimentary night for every 4 or 5 nights you book. Dream ahead for at least 90 days or more in advance and you’ll savor a complimentary breakfast and dinner throughout your stay.

Package includes:

~Your choice of Villa accommodation

~One complimentary night in every 4 or 5 nights booked

~Book 90 days in advance and receive complimentary half board at our Main Beach Restaurant

~Sunset cocktail party (every Tuesday)

~Regular Yoga sessions

~Steam and sauna at Meera Spa

~Non-motorized water sports activities

~Wireless Internet access

~Choice of Gili still or sparkling water during your stay
Valid for stay: 30th October 2015 till 16th December 2016 (Blackout dates may apply)

Learn More >>

Gili Lankanfushi Information

GILI 159-9266

New Ananda Active Package

Introducing the new and enhanced Ananda Active program!

The Ananda Active program is designed to combine personal fitness, guided outdoor treks, yoga, aqua fitness and therapeutic spa experiences to create a complete rejuvenating and strengthening experience. With Ananda’s partnership with Sumaya, a leading fitness and wellness professional in India and pioneer in the fitness industry, the fitness experiences within the Active Program are now individualized, consultative and follow a goal orientated fitness approach. Duration: Available for 5 or 7 nights

Learn More >>



Twin Farms Mid-Week Ski & Spa Package

Escape to Vermont this winter for a mid-week break to ski Killington’s six peaks and relax at Twin Farms. Ski all day and when you return, warm up by the fire with a massage for two in your private cottage.


• A Day of Skiing for two with Premium Demo Ski & Boot Packages at Killington

• 60 Minute Couples Massage

• Private Guided Snowshoe throughout our 300 acres (weather dependent)

• Complimentary Airport (LEB or BTV) & Killington Resort Transfers


Package is subject to availability and valid for stays until March 13th when you reserve a cottage. Three night minimum required and cannot be combined with any other offers. Contact


Twin Farms Information



Brush Creek Ranch Offers Thrilling Winter Wonderland Escapes

Luxury meets adventure at Wyoming’s acclaimed Brush Creek Ranch on an idyllic Rocky Mountain winter getaway. The Ranch is open for 3 –night weekends February 11 – March 26. Enjoy your days exploring our 30,000 acres via snowmobile, snowshoes or Nordic skis. Try your hand at ice fishing or take a horseback lesson in our indoor equestrian arena. Rejuvenate with yoga in a traditional heated yurt or luxurious spa treatments. Enjoy the company of friends as you recount the days well spent over chef prepared meals and fine wine in the grand Lodge.


Choice of luxury accommodations in our Trailhead Lodge, Cabin Suites or Cabin Residences


Cross Country Skiing

Snowmobiling *

Ice Fishing

Sledding & Tubing

Ice Skating

Horseback Riding



Recreation Programs—Full indoor sports court, arcade, karaoke in the saloon

Fitness & Wellness—Yoga and full fitness center

Luxury Spa *



Always Included! All daily Inspired Dining Experiences & Beverages:


From dawn until dusk, enjoy three daily meals including hearty feasts, inspiring happy hours and elegant dinners in our grand Trailhead Lodge. Chef Collin and team will personally prepare refined and fresh Rocky Mountain inspired cuisine to comfort and refresh you as you come together with family and friends. All beverages, including premium spirits, beers and open wine cellar access.


More information and reservations >>



Song Saa Wins Andrew Harper’s Hideaway of the Year

A huge congratulations to the team at Song Saa Private Island, named 2016 Hideaway of the Year in the Andrew Harper’s 2016 Grand Awards. Each year, Mr. Harper chooses favorite properties that he has visited over the past 12 months to comprise this prestigious list. To be considered for the annual awards, properties must be relatively small in size, possess strong individual personalities, offer relaxing atmospheres and demonstrate a consistent devotion to personal service.

Mr. Harper writes, “I loved everything I saw and experienced at Song Saa. The atmosphere is blissfully relaxing and otherworldly. This is a truly exceptional hideaway.” Read more>>

Rajmahal Palace by SUJAN Luxury in Jaipur, India made the very short list of distinguished properties. Read more>>


What’s on Your Travel Bucket List? Top Retreats and Resorts around the World

What’s on your bucket list for travel in 2016 and beyond? Whether you are an experienced traveler or an experienced dreamer, you are likely to have a special place or two you do not want to miss tucked in between the pages of your life’s “to-do” list. But everyone could use a little more prodding and a dose of creativity to keep those vacation aspirations alive. Here is an A to Z list from Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates for what dreams may come with a little inspiration.


Micato Safaris puts you in the wild: sunrise balloon floats over the African savannah, mid-day picnics with the elephants and wildebeest, penning the adventures as Hemingway might have done, in a luxury tent under endless stars.

Micato Safaris - Outside Elephant Back - Camp Jabulani (2)Argentina

For those explorers setting out on an adventure toward tales untold in Antarctica, a start with a luxury stay at Arakur Ushuaia Resort and Spa in Tierra del Fuego can make a perfect launch memory. Find custom designed rooms with large windows, and sensual soaks in a spa overlooking the massive peaks of Patagonia.


Sail through unspoiled rivers and coves on the edges of the Kimberly and into the wilds of West Papua and Papua New Guinea on a super luxury yacht with North Star Cruises. The True North is 164 feet long with room for 36 passengers, 20 crew and a helicopter on top. See places humans dare to tread.



It’s your own private island off the coast of Cambodia with a stay at Song Saa. The 27-villa resort is a dream property that ensures luxury and conservation go hand in hand.


Watch icebergs float by along the northeastern tip of North America from your cozy room, one of 29 suites, at Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland. Quiet, pure, nearly godly, the Inn offers peace and a rare immersion in rural, can-do life in rugged Canada. Fogo Island Inn is one of National Geographic’s picks for Unique Lodges of the World.



Indulge in Chile’s exquisite wine culture with an immersive stay at Vina Vik, an 11,000-acre paradise in the Millahue Valley two hours by car from Santiago. Of the 22 suites designed by Chilean architects and international artists, no two are alike. Suites offer views of a lake and the forests of the Millahue Valley and when guests are not sampling the fruits of the surrounding vines, they can hike, bike or ride horses along valley trails.


Find Taoist peace at the gateway to the majestic Qing Cheng Mountains at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain in Chengdu. The resort opens onto the UNESCO World Heritage & Natural Cultural site of Dujiangyan, bordering 2000-year-old water works along the Sichuan River, and close to temples and panda sanctuaries. Find Taoist rituals and healing at the spa, China’s first Six Senses Spa. Find treasure and discovery all over China with bespoke tours offered in China’s culinary traditions, arts and religion and exotic Silk Road explorations through Wild China.



Stay in an authentic 17th-century Mansion in the middle of colonial Cartagena at Casa San Agustin. The city’s well-preserved 11-kilometer wall surrounds the Old Town and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 — and those designs and traditions are reflected in Casa San Agustin’s ambling layout and luxurious décor.

Costa Rica

Villa Manzu makes a stay in Costa Rica’s Liberia region particularly memorable, possibly because it is a mansion with butlers and chefs and a vacation all to its self. Overlooking the Pacific, it shares the Peninsula Papagayo’s resort region and amenities with the Four Seasons, but it remains unto itself with eight suites, pools, dining, a private beach and a spa.


The Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador is rife with experiences and natural immersions found nowhere else on earth. For guests who want to savor the experience of evolutionary time travel, a stay at Pikaia Lodge will sooth the senses and satisfy the soul. Tortoises, boobies, frigate birds, seal pups and Galapagos penguins outnumber any human count and you can swim with creatures that choose to swim with you during daily sailings on Pikaia’s private yacht adventures.



The Wakaya Club & Spa is Fiji’s answer to a sustainable Eden. The resort is on its own island, a five square mile paradise off of Suva where guests can scuba or snorkel through a marine preserve, accessed directly in front of their bure. Sublime dining, healthy vacationing, guests have the island to themselves.

French Polynesia

Being Marlon Brando – for a day or a week – comes with perks. Mostly that means being in one of 35 exclusive villas on the island of Tetiaroa in Tahiti at The Brando, a celebrity showpiece owned, built and designed by the legendary actor. Rustic luxury here means sustainable vacations with Deep-sea fishing, photography outings and whale watching tours available.

Iceland & Scandinavia

The magic of the northlands pop through customized tours to remote regions at the top of the earth. Nordic Luxury provides these experiences to order, whether sleeping in a suite made of ice, soaking in thermal waters while the northern lights whip across the skies, or exploring ice fjords with a pack of energetic huskies.



The subcontinent that is India holds experiences as varied and piquant as the silk hues and spices to be found. Experience bygone days and colonial splendor at the Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur, and the joys of nature and adventure at tented camps Sher Bagh in Ranthambhore,  JAWAI in Rajasthan, or at The Serai in Jaisalmer. Put it all together in a comprehensive tour of India through Banyan Tours & Travels.


Any vacation in Italy will embrace food and fashion and to focus on the first of these iconic elements, a stay at La Corte dei Papi can satisfy the cause. Check into one of 15 accommodations in the circa 1700s Relais & Chateau estate located deep in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Wine tours and tastings, top Tuscan dining, and a sensual Ottoman spa create the on-property experience while visiting nearby quaint villages in the Umbria offers up authentic Italy in all its beauty. Finish it up with a fashion stay at the Armani Hotel Milano in the heart of Milan, the iconic designer’s flagship property.


These remote and untouched islands east of Africa and South of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean offer some of the most sumptuous stays on earth. TripAdvisor has tabbed Gili Lankanfushi as the best hotel in the world with 45 overwater bungalows, an award-winning wine cellar and some of the clearest water on earth for swimming and exploring.

GILI 159-9266New Zealand

A stay in New Zealand can have three facets. The beauty rolls in from the roiling Pacific with a stay at the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs on New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. With 22 fireplace suites, panoramic ocean views, and plenty of natural immersion, amid cliff walks and kauri forests, the retreat offers a slice of North Island life that contrasts experiences from its sister properties. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a farm indeed, with sheep, working dogs, golf and a spa, a 50-foot heated pool, library, and wine cellar tasting room. All this is in the midst of North Island’s dramatic east coast atop 6,000 rolling acres of pastureland. Finally, the third sister stands apart from the others as a feat of fine design in the heart of South Island’s Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu. Matakauri Lodge has 11 suites, each with private terraces with dramatic lake and mountain views – close to some of New Zealand’s prime outdoor adventure areas.


Bucket list check-offs must come with bragging rights locations and one of these is Mukul Beach Golf & Spa, Nicaragua’s first and most luxurious resort found on the Pacific Emerald Coast. An emerging destination, Nicaragua is yet untouched and undiscovered by the cruise ships and charter flights. And Mukul is as untouched as it gets without sacrificing luxury with 37 spacious free-standing accommodations, a mystical-themed spa area and plenty of jungle and beach for roaming. Mukul is safe and fun for children and firmly romantic for adults. Gracious hosts, makers of the country’s best rums, offer plenty of ways to explore the island.


What more can one say when introducing Oman’s Six Senses Zighy Bay? The resort remains as exotic as the location – a layout best perused from the cliffs above on the paraglide entrance offered by the resort. Find starry skies, warm calm waters and an ambience right out of 1001 Nights less than two hours from Dubai.


Wander the 19th century manor house that is the Six Senses Douro Valley and discover a jewel in the middle of some of the oldest wine terroir in the world. The 57-room property overlooks the Duoro River and spreads along 19 acres abutting three UNESCO World Heritage sites. Find a tranquil and welcoming spa, an organic-leaning culinary philosophy and lots of wine activities onsite and nearby.


The Siam in Bangkok provides a rare look into the glory days of Bangkok’s colonial past with posh rooms over the Chao Phraya and themed retreat packages encompassing unusual treatments at the onsite Opium Spa.  Guests can learn the art of Thai cooking, traditional Muay Thai, or dare to get a Sak Yant tattoo.

OBQX-V1ATOFiWJUnited States

Other bucket lists may call for a ranch stay and that would be the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek in Wyoming, where cowboy country mixes with creature comforts and plenty of horseplay. Cabins are not cabins but villas on the chaparral., and dining goes from crystal and china settings to campfire sing-alongs. A more sedate experience in the great north woods not far from the madding crowd would be Twin Farms in Vermont. This is a retreat for all seasons where each room or suite is custom designed with plenty of artful interiors — and those artful plays extend to the cathedral like spa ambiance and the creative gourmet pleasures to be discovered.


Three amazing lodges near the Punte de Este peninsula of Uruguay put an amazing emphasis on art, food and what it means to live the good life. And yet, they remain different in character. Estancia Vik José Ignacio is a Spanish Colonial Style estancia on 4,000 acres of rolling hills above the South Atlantic, presents a dozen suites with unusual designs that integrate original art conceived for each space. Guests can play gaucho, play polo or play at the beach in this Marlboro Country meets San Tropez setting. Nearby, Playa Vik José Ignacio offers an avant-garde experience in art as life with each of its 19 suites designed by notable artists and designers and featuring original concepts in creative beauty. Bahia Vik José Ignacio takes advantage of the expansive pristine beaches, rugged landscape, and exceptional sunsets with its eleven luxury bungalows on the beach sharing four stunning pools and a refined spa. Again, architecture and design are at the forefront with flowing spaces and a more minimalist approach to décor that lets the setting define the experience. Guests are invited to see and use each property and enjoy each as its own rarefied experience in art, dining and place.


May your bucket list be checked off a few times in 2016. Happy New Year from Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates!

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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KAA News Roundup

The last roundup for 2015 starts with The Brando, and their commitment to all things green. Read this press release from The Brando  on their commitment to the United Nations agreement on Climate Change. The Wall Street Journal included The Brando on their list of, “The best private-island vacations for every budget,” and the island made the list from Business Insider of the world’s most incredible hotels for 2015.

More news from the South Pacific, where North Star Cruises in Australia was featured on Jetsetter, “Here’s How the 1% Travel.”

To New Zealand, where Houstonia Magazine writes on Matakauri Lodge, and the new flight from Houston to New Zealand on Air New Zealand, and The Dallas Morning News, article “Luxury lodge-hopping in New Zealand” covers Matakauri Lodge, plus sister lodges Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers.

Matakauri Lodge, plus Pikaia Lodge and Mukul were all featured in Brides Magazine, “20 Honeymoon Destinations for Adventurous Couples.” Pikaia Lodge was also featured in Andrew Harper Hideaway Report “New and Noteworthy,” and Hudson Valley Magazine’s new dream getaway is Pikaia Lodge.

More news from Latin America, where our new client, Casa San Agustin in Cartagena was featured in the hilarious travel blog, Blonde Brunette Travel and also in Travel Weekly. Villa Manzu is perfect for weddigns and gatherings as featured in The Venue Report and the restaurant at Condado Vanderbilt in San Juan, Puerto Rico recevied rave reviews from The Dining Traveler. 

Vina Vik in Chile is #1 on this list from Bravo TV of “11 of the Most Elite Travel Destinations For Wine Lovers.”Another feature from Just Luxe, “Chile’s New Vina Vik Sets Up Residence in One of South America’s Up-and-Coming Wine Regions,” plus one more from VIP Report.

Up to North America, where Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming offers winter dates, and Departures Magazine includes the ranch in their list of, “18 Reasons to Travel this December.”  Healthy Travel Mag agrees in their article, “The Most Epic Winter Ranch Vacations. Both Brush Creek Ranch and Vermont gem Twin Farms were named to the short list by Buzz Feed and Side of Ginger, “12 Stunning American Hotels You’ll Want To Live In Forever.”

More news from Vermont, where Twin Farm’s Chef Nathan Rich was written up in Brit + Co, detailing his one-of-a-kind program where guests forgo menus. Palm Beach Illustrated featured Twin Farms in their article, “Finding Fall: 3 New England Experiences.”  And USA Today’s feature, “Romantic Destinations To Avoid Family Holidays” featured Twin Farms and Chiva-Som in Thailand.

Fogo Island Inn wins Best Overall Architecture in En Route Magazine’s Hotel Design Awards. Dine Magazine featured Fogo Island’ss Chef and the changing cod industry. Fogo Island also made the list from Business Insider of 50 incredible hotels you should sleep in during your lifetime. Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand and Gili Lankanfushi also received a spot on this incredible list!

Over to Asia, where Song Saa Private Island received some love in the press this month. Here from SEA Globe as one of SE Asia’s best luxury travel experiences, and here from Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.  Song Saa’s commitment to sustainability is to be commended.  Read this Q & A with co-founder Rory Hunter on successful sustainability in the resort business from TODAY online. Pack for a Purpose agrees in their article, as does Blouin Art in their article, “10 Sustainable Efforts by Luxury Brands You Need to Know.” And My Hotel Wedding thinks Song Saa is the perfect place for a wedding.

WildChina founder and CEO Mei Zhang made Conde Nast Traveler ‘A-list’ of travel experts for 2015. Check out this review of The Siam in Bangkok by The Telegraph.

In Dubai for the holidays? This beautiful brochure of festive activities from Address Hotels is the perfect resource.

Over to Europe, where a big congratulations is in order for The Armani/Ristorante Milano, under Chef Filippo Gozzoli, was awarded its first Michelin Star. Six Senses Douro Valley makes the list from Forbes, “Dreamy Suites: My 10 Best Hotels Of 2015.” 

Put wellness on your list this hectic holiday season. Check out the latest  News from our wellness portfolio where Ananda in India is a must visit.  read about the award winning spa in National Geo Traveller India, and in ItTripto, where Mrs. Earth picks Ananda as one of her favorite 5 places on the planet.

From Conde Nast, wellness favorite Rancho La Puerta featured, “5 Bachelorette Party Destinations for Grown Women.” And Chiva-Som and The Ranch at Live Oak are in Luxury, “Ten Exotic Retreats to Jump-Start Your Fitness Resolutions.”


Happy Holidays from The Kurtz-Ahlers Team!