Your Own Private Islands

When times call for having your own private island and buying an island is just not in the cards, consider these cards: a magical adventure island in the Bahamas cays called Musha Cay. Share it with 24 of your favorite friends complete with magical adventures curated by owner, David Copperfield.

Perfect to celebrate a wedding on the sandbar (below…many hollywood and Forbes types have tied the knot there), gathering of friends, or special celebration.  For 24 guests the rate is just $2,188 per person all-inclusive.  And, a night on David Copperfield’s magical island buys a lot of private island.

Once you land on the island’s private runway, or dock the yacht and come to shore, the wow factor sets in. First, Musha Cay is not simply a gorgeous resort that hired the right design team and got the color schemes to pop. Musha Cay is another world and other worldly experiences that only a guy who can be in Las Vegas one minute and Paris the next, literally, who can fly effortlessly above the crowds or handily and confidently make the Brooklyn Bridge go away, could dream up. And dream he did, with the help of a skilled team of illusionist engineers, to make Musha Cay into an island of adventure, an island of the unexpected, an island where anything can happen – and does.

Where else would you find a library dedicated to the magic arts in a tempered room of filtered light controlled by plantation shutters? Rifle through letters from Charlie Chaplin and Arthur Conan Doyle, or check out some piece of water torture equipment invented by Houdini while waiting sipping on Dom (included).

But the art of the story is what Copperfield is all about and his signature island experience does not disappoint. There are secret beaches to find, lost pirates to help, strange and unusual props that materialize up unexpectedly in jungley places. As one writer described, it’s a bit of Disney – with impeccable detail.

And that detail is lavished on each of the cottages, each a complete work in its own right starting with the plantation style bones of the architecture and moving into rich, Balinese interiors surrounded by ocean and bathed in Bahamian light. Count a total of 12 bedrooms and 13.5 baths among cottages as prodigious as 10,000 square feet. Privacy is ensured with each cottage located a distance from anything else, after all there are 700 acres here spread across 11 secluded islets that Copperfield acquired in 2006.







But never ask beauty to trump entertainment at a resort owned by the world’s most celebrated master of magic. Movies on the beach, nautical toys, must-try adventures such as the Musha 500 race, the M.U.S.H.A. Force spy challenge, and the Treasure of Copperfield Bay treasure hunt are not for kids only.

And on Musha Cay they are memories shared in an island paradise filled only with the people you pick.

If you are seeking to buy out a resort that is not a private island, Imanta, 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, provides the wrapped setting with plenty of location benefits.

For starters, the spot on a secluded point along the beaches of Punta de Mita in Nayarit will turn a wedding ceremony into a heavenly tableau. Then there are the thirtenn private villas, more like mini-manses, perched on bluffs above the Pacific, each with bedrooms that could fit a bowling alley, décor that would please a movie star, and views that take your breath away.

The onsite spa keeps the bride beautiful and guests relaxed while nearby towns and villages provide plenty of distraction while the wedding couple prepares or repairs. Inquire about a buyout of Imanta to accommodate up to 30 special guests. But overflow lodging in nearby luxury resorts and hotels can accommodate any bounteous guest list.


Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay
Reservations:  1-208-309-1106

Reservations: (52) 329 298 4200

Kurtz-Ahlers is a urator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. Learn More at



Golf Digest New Rankings, Kauri Cliffs # 19 and Cape Kidnappers #6

The two most decorated resort courses in the entire Asia-Pacific region are now more decorated still — and the traveling golfer remains welcome. In its new ranking of all golf courses located outside the United States, Golf Digest U.S. — the definitive source of world course rankings since it pioneered the practice in 1966 — has placed both Cape Kidnappers Golf Course in Napier, New Zealand (#6), and sister Kiwi club, Kauri Cliffs GC in Bay of Islands (#19), in its prestigious Top 100.

Each of the primary global competitors in the course-ranking arena, Golf Digest U.S. and GOLF Magazine U.S., continue to rank both Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs among the world’s Top 100 courses — even when all those courses in the United States are considered.

Yet no Asia-Pacific course open to public play ranks higher than Cape Kidnappers. Indeed, only the West Course at Australia’s famed Royal Melbourne GC (#2) outranked the feted Tom Doak design at Cape Kidnappers, opened in 2004. The last time Golf Digest issued this list, in 2009, Cape Kidnappers ranked 13th. Kauri Cliffs ranked 25th — so Kauri, too, has moved up significantly.

The 2012 ranking also represents a significant step forward in terms of international recognition for Asia-Pacific’s top courses. In all, there are 29 from the region represented among this new Top 100, whereas only 17 were cited in the 2009 ranking. Joining Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers among resort courses in the top 20 for 2012 are Barnbougle Dunes on the Australian island of Tasmania, and the Kawana Hotel’s Fuji Course in Shizuoka, Japan.

“There are so many courses in Asia-Pacific rightly considered ‘world class’, but what good is learning that a club is ranked so highly if it’s private — and traveling golfers cannot play it?” asked Ryan Brandeburg, director of golf for both New Zealand clubs. “Accessibility should be of primary importance to anyone who pays close attention to these rankings.

“We are particularly pleased to be ranked so highly among courses outside the United States because while we consider our clientele to be worldwide, we are proudly part of the Asia-Pacific golf community,” Brandeburg continued. “It’s important that golfers in Australia, in China, in Japan and Korea and across Southeast Asia recognize that Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs are special, the highest ranked, most celebrated courses in the region they can play.  “New Zealand can represent a significant journey to some, but here is more proof that the golf — along with our accommodations, cuisine and natural surroundings — make that journey worthwhile.”

Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs are owned and operated by American hedge fund legend Julian Robertson, who first visited New Zealand in 1979, and has since adopted it as a second home.

In 2000, Robertson opened his first property, Kauri Cliffs GC (, which looks out upon the ultra-scenic, North Island archipelago known as the Bay of Islands. The David Harman design was immediately ranked among the Top 100 in the world. The 5-star Lodge at Kauri Cliffs would soon join the course on a sprawling 2630-hectare parcel.

In 2004, course architect Tom Doak unveiled Cape Kidnappers (, which has come to be ranked even higher. Cape Kidnappers is an actual landform unto itself, a triangular headland where white cliffs jut 8 kilometers out into the Pacific Ocean from the North Island community of Napier. The 5-star Farm at Cape Kidnappers opened in 2006.

Brandeburg noted that rankings of any kind are naturally subjective. But it’s also true that course rankings do not take into account all those elements that comprise a golf holiday: accessibility, hotel accommodations (and whether those accommodations are on-site), cuisine, non-golfing activities and the physical setting of the resort itself.

“We are frankly eager for the various golf publications to assemble a Top 100 that simply takes into account accessibility, course merit, and the quality of on-site lodgings,” Brandeburg continued. “These are the factors traveling golfers mostly strongly consider: The course cannot be private, naturally, and who wants to shape a golf holiday around a great course that doesn’t have a hotel on site, or doesn’t provide world-class food and wine?

“Some day that list will be compiled, we are confident that both Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs would rank among the Top 5 in the world.” It’s clear the world travel press, with its focus on the hotel component, supports Brandeburg’s assertion.

• The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, a veranda-wrapped plantation house with adjoining guest cottages, was named the 6th best hotel in the world, according to the 2011 Condé Nast Traveller readers’ poll, and the #1 Lodge in Australia and all Pacific Nations on the magazine’s 2012 Gold List. The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs was also recognized in 2011 as a Fodor’s 100 Hotels selection.

• In 2010, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, located in the heart of New Zealand’s thriving wine region, was named to Travel+Leisure’s “World’s Top 50 Hotels”. It, too, earned Gold List status from CN Traveller for 2012. The Farm was also named among the “Top 20 International Hideaways” according to the Andrew Harper Readers Choice Awards, and was rated the #1 Overseas Golf Resort for 2012 by Luxury Travel magazine, published out of Australia.

In August 2010, the Robertson family oversaw grand opening of Matakauri Lodge in the ski and adventure sports Mecca of Queenstown, in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Matakauri would subsequently make Condé Nast Traveller’s “2011 Hot List”, while simultaneously making a comprehensive N.Z. golf tour feasible.

Last year the Robertson properties offered their first-ever golf package, which has recently been re-issued for 2012 and 2013. The Ultimate New Zealand Golf Package includes nine nights across three lodges, four courses, and the country’s two islands. Per-person pricing ranges from $9,790 NZD in the low season (May through August) to $12,840 NZD in the high season, which runs November through March. [The NZ dollar equates to approximately .80 of the U.S. dollar.]

“Our company does not own or operate a golf property in Queenstown, but Matakauri is there and Queenstown is a very popular stop on almost every N.Z. itinerary,” Brandeburg explained. “Accordingly, we have partnered with two superb courses in Queenstown, The Hills GC and Jack’s Point, to complete The Ultimate Package. I should add that all our hotel properties, including the new Matakauri Lodge, are proud members of the exclusive and prestigious Relais & Chateaux collection.”

Brandeburg noted that, in one important sense, no one can take credit for the overall appeal of the resort experiences on offer at Cape Kidnappers, Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri — not Julian Robertson, not Tom Doak, not the celebrity chefs who routinely ply their trades at all three properties, not even Rianne Cole, who pilots the Robertson family’s EC-130 helicopter that provides dramatic bird’s-eye tours of the New Zealand landscape, while also conveniently linking resort guests to Auckland International Airport. [Link here to a podcast interview with Ms. Cole.]

“It’s clear that a major part of our appeal is the extraordinary natural landscape of New Zealand,” he said. “No one can take credit for that, and it’s such an integral part of the experience at all of our properties — on the golf courses, in the lodge, at cliff-top or down on the beaches. “But it’s something we do work hard to protect and foster. At Cape Kidnappers, for example, the Robertson family has assembled one of the largest nature preserves in New Zealand enabling and protecting a thriving community of endangered species, including kiwi birds. By the end of June, we should finish a new aviary we intend to use for holding pairs of kaka and Red-crowned kakariki. These birds will breed and their off-spring will be released into the sanctuary to support establishing populations of these species.”

“These natural environments are integral to everything we do at all three resort locations,” Brandeburg summed up. “They are as important, in our view, as the luxury accommodations and golf experiences, which are obviously admired but also adhere to the same high environmental standards.”

Unveiling India, Inside and Out

You may visit India a thousand times in your lifetime but you will never find the same India twice. A subcontinent of Asia whose shadow would cover a full third of the US, India is discussed by region rather than by the whole, by language and cultures rather than by Hindu and Hindi, by landscapes, architectures and food styles and aromas varying radically from one region to the next.

So it is not surprising that parsing India and navigating through its gigantic swings in regional subtleties should be left to the guides, while absorbing India for all her poetry and glow should be the job of the traveler.

Kurtz-Ahlers found such a guide in Peirce & Leslie, a company that has been following India’s well-trod and not so well known paths since the 19th century. As owners of a tea plantation, Robert Peirce and Patrick Leslie began a travel division to cater to the requirements of their employees. Eventually, attentions went from teas to travel and Peirce & Leslie became India’s premier luxury travel specialists.

While Peirce & Leslie’s itineraries usually last around two weeks they can be highly personalized journeys to match the dreams and wishes of the traveler. Peirce & Leslie divide India into its North, Central and South states, and takes visitors to castles, forts, museums and tiger sanctuaries along the way, a streaming kaleidoscope of culture reached by car, rail and air to cover as much of India’s grandeur as possible while preserving the romance of a 5,000 year old land.

Then there are the festivals. And while India is celebrating something nearly every day of the year, certain festivals bring a color and spirit with them that place them under bucket list status. At the Pushkar Camel Fair every January – a time when the Thar Desert of Rajasthan becomes of swirl of saffron silks and muslin colored canvas – Peirce & Leslie invite visitors to stay in luxury tents and participate in this timeless magical desert celebration of dance, beauty, music, food and, well, camels. Also, the Maha Kumbh Mela is coming soon, which takes place every 4 years. Dates are January 14 – February 25, 2013.  Contact Peirce & Leslie for details.








Peirce & Leslie is a knowledgeable company that knows the needs of travelers of a certain ilk and is capable of making things happen, quietly and confidently. Still, as much as there is to be seen and sensed in this huge subcontinent, there is a part of India reserved for the inner journey, the spirit — and that temple that holds the spirit: the body. For that India the recommendation is a visit to Ananda – In the Himalayas.

To visit Ananda you need simply board a short flight from Delhi to the foothills of the Himalayas – considered the birthplace of Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation. There the focus goes inward while Ayurvedic food plans, hikes in the mountains, mornings of yoga and meditation, and afternoons of sublime pampering, work their magic on the spirit and body.

Stay in a room, suite or villa, one of 80 built atop this ridge, created in designs replete with atmospheric touches that one might find in a castle built for a raj. Get quiet – plenty of places to ponder and meditate; or get active – whitewater rafting, tiger stalking, fishing, hiking, even elephant riding come as part of a day’s do’s.

But Ananda lets you do it all in one place, an immersion in India that wraps your body and sticks to your soul.

Journey to the Himalayas for a relaxing and refreshing experience of spa, healthy cuisine and spiritual rejuvenation. Offerings  include Ananda Wellness Experiences from 7-28 days, and new Ananda Getaways for a shorter stay. Click here for packages and rates.









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.

Suites on the Beach in Uruguay

Playa Vik in the Uruguay resort town José Ignacio

Playa Vik in the Uruguay resort town of José Ignacio

For romance travel there is nothing more seductive than a suite on the beach – but make that a Uruguay beach on a remote pampa, where celebrated wine from Chile pours, Uruguay art surrounds, heady conversations dangle and delicious foods await – and all within easy driving distance from Punte del Este and Montevideo.

Family travelers can consider the wow factor of a grand colonial manor on a hill overlooking the rugged rolling pampas shore line, with the occasional Uruguayan gaucho galloping by, flocks of sheep grazing and even a private polo.

Playa Vik and Estancia Vik José Ignacio, two separate luxury experiences on the southern tip of Uruguay, provide a tantalizing sense of destination, whether for couples in the throes of romance travel or family travelers seeking the romance of the exotic.

Each property provides something extraordinary that can best be described as vision. In this case, the vision belongs to owner Alex Vik, a Norwegian-born financier who chose the searing shore expanses, and along with the talents of co-owner Carrie Vik and the renowned design skills of Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, produced two precious hotel properties that make heads turn.

Playa VikArt in Hotels is raised to an art form in Uruguay at Playa Vik José Ignacio

Playa Vik* opened in 2010 in the oceanfront resort town of José Ignacio. It’s a study in minimalism and modern art as much as it is a study in the aesthetics of ecology and earth-friendly design. Romantic travelers looking for where to stay in Latin America can indulge in a one of a kind moment here that is both art and life intertwined. Playa Vik takes the concept of art in hotels and makes it come alive in a way that lets guests become part of the canvas.

The hotel faces west over the southern Atlantic Ocean and the calm waters of Playa Mansa, with 19 suites on the beach that became palette and platform for an elite cadre of famed Uruguayan artists. But it is in this intellectual St. Tropez setting that artists and celebrities often gather for gourmet meals, creativity retreats and inspiration. Walls of manga silhouettes, poems and abstracts, and spirited spaces of minimal design meet cacophonous corners of riotous musings. Each suite, each space becomes its own artful movement within which couples can find new paths to connection.



Estancia Vik Rooms on the Beach in Uruguay


Estancia Vik

Estancia Vik continues the modernist and minimalist themes but in the unlikely context of a palatial estancia or colonial ranch house on a hill with 12 suites overlooking 4,000 acres of rolling green coastline. The art spaces in this hotel showcase the work of some of Uruguay’s leading contemporary artists, including Pablo Atchugarry and Clever Lara. But guests are reminded this is not a museum but a place to go horseback riding across open pampas with gauchos, to explore nature in the rough, to mountain bike, hike, canoe and fish in the Arroyo de José Ignacio or the grand José Ignacio Lake. And for those who must practice their foreshots, the private polo field with Criollo riding horses at the ready, or the adjoining golf green for duffers and putters provide the generous foregrounds.Estancia Vik on the pampas in Uruguay

Both properties put as much emphasis on the art of the meal as they do on the art of structural design, highlighting Uruguay food and Uruguay traditions in the presentation.

Parillero, traditional barbeque of spicy meats grilled over an open fire pit, as well as fresh fish and seafood, locally grown fruits and vegetables and homemade breads and pastries all keep with local tradition in the preparations. But meals are served European style under flickering candelabras illuminating communal tables of hotel guests while Chilean wines pour (Vik is an owner of a vineyard in neighboring Chile, where he is readying to open his third hotel next year) and visitors engage in animated discourse.

It’s possible to stay at one Uruguay hotel or at both – they are less than 6 miles apart. Each offers a wowing swimming pool (don’t miss Playa Vik’s 75-foot-long, black granite pool alight in a celestial map of the southern hemisphere created by small optic light points within the pool floor), romantic fireplaces, a small spa, and unexpected art in forms and fancies that gently push the boundaries as far as the eye can see.

Suites on the Beach in Uruguay at Estancia Vik







* Wallpaper named Playa Vik the 2012 Best New Hotel in the World



Estancia Vik José Ignacio

(+011) 598 94 60 5212


Visit New Zealand One Hideaway at a Time

Life in the Land of the Long White Cloud is colorful indeed, especially when you consider New Zealand has more species of ferns, flightless birds and baying sheep per square mile than most cities have people. So it’s not surprising that many resorts on these north-south isles will encompass views that barely contain roads or cars, much less humans.

Matakauri Lodge
Adventure in New Zealand starts at Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown

Getting away from it all is what New Zealand offers, even if that means escapes to Middle Earth or the lands of Aslan. Some 15 hours of flight time from the U.S., arrival happens in what seems to be a parallel universe but the differences pop out amid colossal Kauri trees as old as the Bible and volcanic lakes that boil and blow – as if viewing the world from inside a time traveler’s mirror.

In real terms, a visitor can rent a car and self-drive to such places as 90-Mile Beach, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, the Remarkables and Franz Josef Glacier. New Zealand is roughly 1,550 miles north to south on two great swaths of land managed by an excellent road system and plenty of easy transport options that do not require the extra expense of a tour company or inbound assistance to arrange.

At Kurtz-Ahlers, we view New Zealand as nature at its purest. New Zealand is nature left to do what it does as humans stay on the sidelines and watch the marvels unfold. And we have chosen three places where luxurious accommodations, fine dining and pampering all play a part in perfecting the best ways to take in this unyielding performance at close range.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers: A New Zealand Sheep Ranch Stay by Relais & Chateaux

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers on the North Island, an easy six-hour drive from Auckland (although private flights and heli-transfers are at the ready), overlooks Hawkes Bay with 180-degree views of the roiling South Pacific. It’s all about the land here, 6,000 undulating acres of it on a working New Zealand sheep farm that supports an award-winning wine cellar along with gourmet dining, spa (ever had a jade and crystal facial?) and golf (par 71 and considered #27 on Golf Magazine’s “Best” list) on a seemingly endless spread. But this farm is a Relais & Chateaux presentation that combines the rustic and the modern, the craggy and the comfortable, the wide spaces and the 22 cozy cottages along rocky cliffs overlooking relentless waves. Check out the four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage, a world unto itself.

Tel: +011 64 6 875 1900


Lodge at Kauri Cliffs

Sister property at the Bay of Islands, less than four hours drive from Auckland with air options cutting that time down to one hour, the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs presents a lush setting with astounding pans of the Pacific and its islands off the coast. Find more than

Kauri Cliffs Lodge
Kauri Cliffs Lodge in New Zealand overlooking the Bay of Islands

6,000 acres of prime New Zealand landscapes to wander within an environment that easily compares to Bali. Another property by Relais & Chateaux, a stay at Kauri Cliffs can be an active experience of biking, bushwalking, beach combing, golf and tennis. Day tours to nature reserves near and far come as options on a daily activities menu, as do swimming in the ocean, sunning by the pool and having old-fashioned picnics amid a wonderland of magical scenery.

Find 22 guest suites (plus the two-bedroom Owner’s Suite), each with its own private porch, bedroom with sitting area and open fireplace, abutting a native forest and overlooking the golf course and the Pacific.

Tel: +011 64 9 407 0010


Matakauri Lodge

Ah, but sweet stays here come in “threes.” Rounding this triple play is Matakauri Lodge on New Zealand’s south island just minutes from downtown Queenstown on stunning Lake Wakatipu. While this area along the Remarkables and Walter and Cecil Peaks is considered the New Zealand capital of adventure travel with its abundance of bungee jump-off spots, hiking trails, mountain biking tours, jet boating, paragliding, and river runs, the Lodge lasers in on the scenery as a modern oasis of calm.

Unlike its more traditional sisters, Matakauri’s design and layout makes a statement. The Lodge is an art piece carefully crafted by celebrated New Zealand Designer Virginia Fisher. Lines are clean, light is given a stage and each of the Lodge’s eleven cottage suites is a testament to the blending of high style with comfort, convenience and the complete agreement between the elements — inside and out. The scenery is the star here and the riveting interiors only serve to give natural New Zealand her close-up.

Dining means fine New Zealand wines and menus that change daily with the weather and the word about what’s fresh. Unlike other parts of the country, town and what comes with civilization is an easy walk away. And getting away from it all is just as simple, whether that means water, peaks or a forest of virgin pines.

Tel: +011 64 3 441 1008

The Ultimate New Zealand Package

What’s the Ultimate New Zealand Deal? A nine-night package that includes three nights at each resort: The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge. Three fabulous lodges, three spectacular settings, and nine glorious nights adding up to a savings of roughly NZ$1,695 (around $1,300 USD) per couple.