WildChina is thrilled to announce that their journey along the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road was selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of their top 50 Tours of a Lifetime. This small group departure (8-16 people) is a 10-day expedition led by Fuchs, who shares his unparalleled expertise on the diverse teas, cultures, and landscapes along the historic trail. This fall’s departure runs from Sep 12-21, 2012; reserve your place today before the trip fills up! Read More
Alfredo Bataller, Founder of SHA Wellness Clinic, Awarded the “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” April 26 by Condé Nast Traveler in a gala held at the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez in Madrid. Read More
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. Read More
More on the design front as the design of Six Senses Con Dao has received the prestigious Best Hotel and Tourism Resorts Design Award at the 2012 MIPIM Awards in Cannes, France. Six Senses Con Dao – the first and only 5 star resort in the Con Dao archipelago – truly sets the benchmark for excellence in Vietnam. The 2012 MIPIM award follows a steady stream of accolades that Six Senses Con Dao has received since the property opened in December 2010.
In 2011, AW2 and Six Senses Con Dao were rewarded with a Green Good Design Award by the Chicago Athenaeum of Architecture and Design; an International Property Award for Best Small Hotel Construction and Design in the World; in addition to being included on Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot List 2011,” and featured on the cover of Travel + Leisure USA for their “IT List 2011” edition. Recent feature article in Departures magazine here
Readers of Travel+Leisure magazine have voted Micato Safaris the #1 World’s Best Value. This honor is in addition to being named Travel+Leisure World’s Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter a record eight times. With Micato, all-inclusive means all luxuries all the time, including gratuities to Safari Directors and Driver Guides. Whether you want to see the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth in Kenya and Tanzania, experience the sophisticated pleasures of Cape Town and the winelands, explore Kruger National Park, surf the sand dunes of Namibia or track gorillas in Rwanda, Micato delivers unparalleled personalized service, unabashed luxury in the bush and unforgettable experiences that will provide memories to last a lifetime. And, for each safari booked, Micato sends an African child to school – a child who would otherwise stay home due to extreme poverty.
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 (www.kauricliffs.com), 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 (www.capekidnappers.com), 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.”
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.
Other awards for our portfolio include the newly opened Armani Hotel Milan. This new fashion house hotel made the Conde Nast Hot List for 2012 for both the Hotel and the amazing Armani/Spa.
WildChina is thrilled to announce that their journey along the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road was selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of their top 50 Tours of a Lifetime. The most daunting trade route in the world, the Road linked the fertile emerald teas of Yunnan and Sichuan to the arid landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau, serving as a vital route for isolated tribes who referred to it as the “Eternal Road.” Remaining a virtual mystery to the West for over a millennium, the Road, its history and cultures are now at long last revealed in all of its stunning diversity.
Join this journey in September with explorer Jeff Fuchs, the first westerner ever to traverse the 5,000 km (3,100 mi) route. For more information, click HERE.
The Siam continues to receive good press in anticipation of its June 1 opening. Check out the full page scoop in Jetsetter Magazine’s ‘Introducing’ section. Also, The Siam is the opener for Holidays for Couples’ Resort Report 2012! To view, follow General Manager, Jason Friedman’s facebook page.
Relais & Chateaux Grand Chefs Dinner April 16th in New York was well attended by famous Chefs and many celebrities, see photos in the Huffington Post HERE.
Rancho La Puerta is proud to launch its new wellness program, The Ranch Circle. This new program will help enhance guests experience during, before and after their visit. Benefits include;
Take our online wellness assessment
Create and track your personal wellness goal
Develop a personalized schedule for your next stay at Rancho La Puerta
A special referral program that rewards you for telling a friend about Rancho La Puerta
Access to members-only special offers
Unique Ranch Circle gift during your next stay at Rancho La Puerta
Visit Milan for the shopping. Stay in Milan for the fashion at the uber-fashionable Armani Hotel Milano.
A stay at the recently opened boutique hotel is like being wrapped in the coolest of textures and the rarest of finery. As marks Giorgio Armani’s tastes in form fitting attire with just the right materials, the Armani Hotel Milan is a studied work in luxurious appointments tempered by masterful minimalism. No detail is too small for this impresario of perfection and the 95 rooms and suites bear that out in spectacular presentations of light, form, function and artful aesthetics.
The hotel is the second in what is becoming an eponymous iconic chain fusing fashion with hospitality. The first Armani Hotel opened in Dubai in 2010 inside the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
And like Dubai, the Armani Hotel Milano makes as much a statement in its location as it does in its execution. Here, in the country of its owner, the Armani Milano took a 1937 Art Deco edifice and transformed it into a modern masterpiece of light lines and large windows while preserving the era’s architectural majesty. The building anchors the skyline at the very epicenter of fashion in Milan, the quadrilatero della moda, and is minutes away from the luxury shopping streets of Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. Guests can walk to the La Scala Theatre and view the Piazza del Duomo from their room or the 23-foot windows illuminating the hotel’s Ristorante and Bamboo Bar.
Guest rooms run from 430 square feet to more than 20,000 square feet, and each room comes with its own “lifestyle manager.” Don’t know what to wear, or where to buy it? Help is but button away. In these spaces, too, experience an Armani scent created just for this hotel. Armani/Privé Bois d’Encens conjures the essence of old Italian churches and, in this cathedral of luxury, fits the moment like a kid leather glove.
Rooms are swathed in brushed metal tones, made all the more elegant by restrained Japanese-style furnishings and betraying a certain business mode in the end – the seal of a successful entrepreneur who likes clean lines with dashes of stylish toys and whimsy. Expect to pay rates that start at $750 per night here and understand what those rates can bring.
A dose of pampering, too, is fashionable at the Armani. An infinity pool on the rooftop overlooks the red-tiled rooftops of Milan, the central Duomo, and the Palazzo Reale Milano beyond. Spa Armani offers quiet relaxation and body treatments within spacious penthouse quarters of tall glass windows and wide city views, adjacent to a gym open 24 hours.
Looking for what to see in Milan? Armani offers some personal favorites:
Walk down the old street of Corso Garibaldi and view the new skyscrapers going up around it.
See the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum of Art.
Enjoy the waters in the fountain in Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Take a tour of the Navigli, the interconnected canals that date back to the 14th century running through the very heart of Milan.
Visit Villa Necchi Campiglio, preserved and furnished 1930s home created in the rationalist style by architect Piero Portaluppi
Our portfolio has been busy winning awards this spring with Six Senses Con Dao receiving the prestigious Best Hotel and Tourism Resorts Design Award at the 2012 MIPIM Awards in Cannes, France on March 9th. The new resort in the Con Dao archipelago off the coast of Vietnam has just 50 villas with private pools, and has receieved many accolades.
Destination Specialist WildChina specializes in off the beaten path luxury adventures and The New York Times Article March 21, ‘Tour Asia’s Wild Side” highlights their trekking and panda tracking adventures which include luxury overnight camping experiences within the park and treks through sections that are not open to the public.
Also, one of the world’s best chinese cook book writers, Fuchsia Dunlop, is leading a gastronomic journey for WildChina, Oct 13-24, 2012. Any foodie friend of yours shouldn’t miss this journey! Chez Zhangpomfret’s small Beijing pad offers an open bar one night for those joining the journey!
Back in Bagkok where The Siam Hotel readies for their June opening, they are pleased to announce the appointment of Blair Mathieson as executive chef. Born in New Zealand, Mathieson’s passion for food started at an early age when he began his cooking apprenticeship in Auckland, before becoming chef de partie at the acclaimed Pier restaurant in Sydney. He then moved to England, where he worked at The Dorchester, before becoming senior sous chef at the one-star Michelin restaurant, Leatherne Bottle, in Berkshire County. Special Opening rates are 50% off!
Across five countries, Six Senses is an innovator in style, service and in promoting responsible tourism. In the Malvides at Soneva Kiri the resort is a Buzz, literally, as Buzz Aldrin and other renowned astronauts will be joining guests for dinners, climate change discussions, and excursions with guests -dates through 2012. Read More
A secluded world of beauty and serenity, Chiva-Som is the “Haven of Life” – a luxury health resort dedicated to revitalising the mind, body and spirit. The beachfront resort represents tranquility at its best with luxurious accommodation, nestled within lush tropical gardens. Focusing on greater well-being and vitality, Chiva-Som offers extensive fitness, spa and holistic health facilities to help you relax, restore, rejuvenate and redirect.
Personalized programs and treatments are designed for everyone, blending Eastern philosophies with Western diagnostic skills. Widely regarded as the Best Destination Spa in the World, Chiva-Som welcomes you with unique Thai hospitality. Bring wellness into your everyday life with these easy tips.
1. Reduce Stress
Laugh more, and find ways to enjoy more of your time, at work at home, while studying, shopping or traveling to and from work. Think of ways to enjoy time with friends and also enjoy time by yourself. Think positive thoughts and feel positive for atleast 30 minutes a day and gradually build up time developing positive thought patterns on a daily basis. Get a massage, manicure, facial or a haircut. Meditate or listen to soothing music. Avoid difficult people when possible and avoid being difficult.
2. Protect Yourself from Pollution
Keep plants in your home and office. If you can’t live in a pollution-free environment, take regular trips to the country side. Avoid smoke-filled rooms and high traffic areas. Time your outdoors activities to be taken during low smog periods.
3.Keep a Positive Mental Outlook
Smile and be happy! Keep a cheerful outlook on life. Compliment someone, make others smile and never leave home without
finding something about yourself to feel good and confident about. If you find that you’re feeling low, imeditate and clear out old energy that might contain negativity about someone or something that you’ve experienced recently.
Find ways to be as active as possible. Staying active doesn’t always mean dedicating hours at gym, high level aerobics or kickboxing classes, these are great for when you’ve built up your stamina, but when you’re trying to get back into shape there are ways to ease your body back into exercise. We can find simple ways to move our body in doing constructive and relaxing activities. Climb stairs if given a choice; walk the dog; play with children; enjoy sports with friends, mow the lawn; clear your clutter. Through movement we overcome stagnation of energy, clear mental blockages and relieve stress.
5. Cut out Fat
Avoid the obvious such as fried foods, burgers and other fatty meats like pork, bacon, sausages and ribs. Eat low fat versions of dairy products (cottage cheese, cheese, milk) and avoid cream. Limit portions of nuts, mayonnaise, cold meats, butter, margarine and sauces. Find healthier lower fat versions.
While you may be having a glass of wine or one drink every other day, always be mindful to allow your body to detox and recover more frequently. Excessive alcohol intake can depress the immune system over time and could lead to health problems such as liver and kidney disease and cancer. Doing seasonal detoxes helps to cleanse and revitalize the vital organs.
Be confident with your smile especially when talking to others and don’t be afraid to laugh more. Brush and Floss your teeth after each meal to
maintain good oral and dental hygiene.
8. Make Something
Get your creative energy going, by making things and developing your artistic side. Cook with new or old favourite recipes, build, paint, write, sew, recycle something, put a photo album together, or if you like, plant some seeds and don’t forget to water them!
9. Have a Smoothie
Adventure into the health and delight of having a veggie and or fruit smoothie. These are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and a smoothie contains fiber to keep you regular and less prone to snacking as compared to the juice option. Have fun in making your own smoothies, you can try different combinations of fruit and veg to suit your tastebuds.
10. Drink Water
Obvious, you might say, but you’d be surprised at how easily one dehydrates, in heated and air conditioned environments. Without enough fluid, your body is not able to take up and distribute vitamins and minerals to where they are needed the most. Dehydration causes stress in the body and toxic build up. Pure filtered mineral water is always best. Try to include boiled water to clear your complexion or in the form of caffeine-free natural herbal teas to help improve your digestion and soothe your mind.
Hotels in Bangkok have a lot of competition to get the to top of the list for luxury travelers with a yen for design. The Siam, which opens in June on the precious banks of Bangkok’s Chao Praya River, answers the call for design, location, amenities and old Siamese sentiment with an award-winning, 39-key, all suites retreat.
Set in the style of the 19th century kingdom, you can almost imagine Joseph Conrad or Somerset Maugham penning away by a wood-framed window over the city’s central waterway. But these quarters in what is considered Bangkok’s first luxury boutique hotel contain much more than muses.
Each room is a set of its own with original turn-of-the-century teakwood furnishings and artworks matched with plush appointments and textiles, surrounding guests with a sense of modern and ageless Thai royalty. The suites, villas and Thai House residence showcase the work of renowned creative director Krissada Sukosol Clapp and designer Bill Bensley, one of Architectural Digest’s “Top 100 Designers and Most Creative People” in 2009.
The Siam’s location keeps it central – in the prestigious Dusit neighborhood within easy walking, driving, river taxi or metro to Chatuchak market, Chinatown, the Grand Palace, the Jim Thompson House, the National Museum and Temple of the Dawn.
Naturally, the onsite dining options take in the riverfront views and breezes, offering creative royal Thai cuisine and cooking classes to complete the experience. A traditional Thai coffee room and tea garden provide added calm, complementing a full spa, salon and fitness center that includes ring where guests can refine their Muay Thai techniques.
For those who want to indulge their fitness, spa and wellness interests during a trip to Thailand, Chiva Som, three hours from Bangkok in fashionable Hua Hin beach resort, can make a perfect add-on or immersive Thai destination point.
The property sits on the Gulf of Thailand’s warm blue waters with seven wandering acres of gardens and quiet meditation corners. Several wellness pavilions offering treatments in Eastern, Western, Holistic and local traditions proffer the needed wisdom and work to make a wellness focus penetrating and lasting for guests. Foods, fitness programs, meditation and massage, acupuncture, traditional healing, even aesthetic medi-spa treatment opportunities are all on the menu in all-inclusive programs lasting from three nights to two weeks, customized according the client’s goals and wishes with culinary programs to fit. Guests can choose from detox programs, weight management, yoga, fitness, natural healing, inner peace or just wondrous spa indulgence while getting needed relaxation at this “Haven of Life.”
Rates start at $1,558 for three nights in an ocean view room with all meals, treatments and program sessions, on a twin basis. Single guests pay $2,140.
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 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 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.
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.
* Wallpaper named Playa Vik the 2012 Best New Hotel in the World
Ahhh … to Spahhhh. Simply saying it is enough to make neck muscles to loosen and for breath to release in a deep, stress busting sigh.
Fortunately, wellness vacations come in all pocket sizes – as simple as a 20-minute meditation in a spot by the ocean and as elaborate as a weeks-long mind-body makeover. At Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates, with our collection of seven perfect settings for kick-starting that life-saving adjustment, wellness is more than a state of mind. It is a state of being, available to anyone ready to just say no – and then yes!
For anyone in doubt of what a spa or wellness vacation can do, consider a recent study out of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration that found spa or wellness vacations often lead to:
* The ability to manage business affairs with more acumen, energy and creativity (verses results from non-spa vacations)
* The chance to return to work with significantly more energy — alert and “in the zone” with business matters
* An enhanced ability to make decisions and handle challenges
* A more focused and alert state of mind
The effects of regular and consistent meditation are also well known. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed people who meditate regularly have less activity in the brain’s default mode network – a place of drifting thoughts that wander onto negative subjects, creating more stress and anxiety. Activity in the default mode has also been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.
A University of Pittsburgh study showed how men who did not take yearly vacations, never mind wellness vacations, had a 21% higher risk of death from all causes, and a 32% higher risk of death by heart attack.
Benefit studies aside, wellness travel is simply an easy and enjoyable way to spend time, get pampered, meet new people, eat well, rest, and get into shape.
Kurtz-Ahler’s Wellness Travel collection presents a convenient starting place for matching resorts and dreams with packages for all budgets…
Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
This boutique treasure just south of the border in Baja brings the clear and temperate weather,
the rolling vistas, the sacred spaces and the perfect ways to enjoy them through pampering programs, fitness boosts and healthy dining. Only 87 guest rooms here, all on ground level each with a colorful private patio. Classic 7-day visits ensure the proper recharge plus some of the best hiking to be found at any spa amid the resort’s 40 miles of trails.
Healing happens quickly when you are perched on white bluffs over the Mediterranean coast of Spain. An 80-minute drive from Valencia or 40 minutes from Alicante, this newly opened spa resort (2009) showcases all the latest treatments in a setting of high design and macrobiotically focused cuisine. All foods served are organic and chosen for their immune-building properties, while beauty and fitness programs ensure rejuvenation inside and out. SHA’s menu of age-busting beauty treatments coupled with a generous list of medical aesthetics options mean guests can arrange for some life-altering programs that go well beyond the realm of pampering.
It’s possible to live like a maharaja and maharani in this former palace set on 100 acres of virgin forest in the foothills of the Himalayas. The healing that happens here follows ancient principles of Ayurvedic traditions while the setting remains as authentic as it was in its colonial hey day, a place of light and beauty. Meditation, yoga, massage, mindful walks, harmonious foods – all is geared toward bringing the mind, body and spirit into perfect balance
through carefully planned regimens that infuse the wisdom of the ages. Find Ananda near New Delhi, easily accessed by train, road or air.
Guests have it all within this 57-suite retreat located on a beachfront stretch in Thailand’s royal resort town of Hua Hin. Within easy reach of Bangkok, Chiva Som provides a comprehensive, but relaxed immersion into Eastern philosophies and healing arts, offering choice at every turn. Weight loss programs, fitness regimens, meditation, cooking classes, yoga, t’ai chi – guests wrap themselves in a mélange of activities or simply sit back for generous pampering and care. Total relaxation is as assured as the gentle waves curling through the Gulf of Thailand and onto the palm-shaded sands of Hua Hin.
It’s possible to disappear into this 650-acre paradise in Miami, FLA and come out nearly reborn: healthy, thin, relaxed and armed with a chest of new tools to make the changes last. The setting is the Doral Golf Resort, a vast layout of tropical gardens, swimming pools, tennis courts, a world-class spa, and championship golf courses. But there is much more. Guests can choose programs to fit their goals and get to work making the changes in their lives that will matter most toward a healthy heart, healthy weight and healthy lifestyle. It’s a working vacation where transformation is guaranteed within a prescribed comprehensive program full of classes, therapies and proper cuisine. Your day at Pritikin.
Going to the Oscars and need to fit into that hourglass Valentino? This is your spot. In fact,
celeb spotting is not uncommon in this hidden and private 120-acre ranch in the mountains above Malibu, CA. It’s a take no prisoners camp for those who must become beautiful in a hurry. Couch potatoes need not read on. Programs are weeklong, 10 hours a day, strength gaining and invigorating. Cooking classes, low impact aerobics, hiking, yoga, massage, delicious and healthy eating come as daily inclusions leading to a new body at week’s end, a new level of can-do and a welcomed elevation of mental clarity. Check out the possibilities.
Canyon Ranch is the original name in trusted destination spa vacations, made famous by the flagship Canyon Ranch resort outside of Tucson, AZ.
In Miami, it’s a total luxury all-suite hotel dedicated to wellness and all on its own little piece of the coast near the Bay Harbor Islands. Guests embrace the Ranch’s total immersion philosophy with a cascading menu of classes and lectures, a fitness facility that includes Pilates, rock climbing and yoga, beach boot camp for those who want it or beach bicycling for those who don’t — and just the beach for others who want to settle into the setting. The 70,000 square foot spa is not just about the menu of treatments. The facility is a destination in itself with myriad water therapies, mineral rooms, saunas, reflexology chambers and thermal suites. Mix/match or manage a customized program here. Choice abounds, fun is guaranteed, relaxation happens. (package)