Travel Expressions Ltd.'s Blog

There's now a silver lining follow-up story to the hurricanes in 2017 that took a toll on many islands in the Caribbean, including the tiny island that makes up part of the Commonwealth nation of St. Kitts & Nevis.

For many years, Nevis has been synonymous with its iconic Four Seasons Resort. It put the island on the map for luxury travelers in the know, and pioneered what has become a style of luxury beach resort world wide.

Nestled between majestic - and volcanic - Mount Nevis and the sea, the Four Seasons' low-rise, villa-style resort is a secluded, true-luxury island escape.

Not only has the resort been repaired, it's undergone a stunning transformation - a silver lining in the sad story of hurricane damage. The resort has returned to its position as the essential Nevis experience.

BestTrip enjoyed the stunning new design of the Four Seasons Nevis, and we got to meet the chef in charge of one of the resort's signature experiences: Dive and Dine for Nevis' famous spiny lobsters. The island enjoys a rich lobster fishery, PLUS a one-of-a-kind way of catching the crustacean. Guests dive with the chef for their lobster feast, then relax in a private beach side cabana till dinner time, when the chef returns with a seafood tower, steak... and their lobsters for the grill next to the cabana.

While you're in Nevis:

  • Don't miss the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. The first American Secretary of the Treasury, and central figure of the runaway Broadway hit Hamilton, was born on Nevis. His home is a centuries-old stone building near the edge of the sea in Nevis' tiny, historic Charlestown. It has an exhibit about his life and times on the island, where, it is said, he acquired an early aversion to slavery.

  • Nearby, historic Bath Hotel is the first spa resort in the Western Hemisphere. Built on a geothermal stream (see above: volcano) that was believed to have healing properties, it became a famous retreat for colonial elites, including British navy hero Admiral Lord Nelson.

  • Stroll along Pinney's beach from the Four Seasons to Sunshine's Bar and Grill, where the owner 'Sunshine' and his 'killer' rum punch are known throughout the Caribbean's exclusive yachting community. Private yachts don't miss a chance to anchor in Nevis just to come to Sunshine's for the secret recipe rum punch, laid-back beach bar vibe, and gigantic lobsters always on hand.

Start your Trip!


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New Year, New Adventures on the island of Hawaii
Travelers may initially be inspired to visit the island of Hawaii for its cerulean waters, verdant rainforests and valleys, and striking black sand beaches, but there is so much more to explore! With an abundance of culture and history to share, the island is full of unique experiences and intriguing facts inspiring first-time and returning visitors.  

INTRIGUING FACTS AND HISTORICAL TIDBITS

Tidepools outside of Kailua-Kona

Birthplace of King Kamehameha I

The island of Hawaii is believed to be the first island discovered and settled by Polynesians as far back as the fifth century A.D. The island was the birthplace and home of the Hawaiian Islands’ first monarch, King Kamehameha I, who united all of the islands under his rule in 1810. As initial ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, he named Kailua-Kona the first capital of the Islands. (Honolulu became Hawaii’s capital in 1850.) 

Home to 10 of the World’s 14 Climate Zones

The Hawaiian Islands are home to 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones. Want to know an even cooler fact? The island of Hawaii is the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago where visitors can experience all 10! The largest and youngest island in the Hawaiian chain – just 4,028 square miles in total and first breaching the ocean surface more than 500,000 years ago – the island of Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where visitors can experience climates ranging from humid tropical and arid desert zones to a periglacial zone in a single day. 

Cowboy Country

Horseback riding group near a country pond below Maunakea

Situated in a natural land saddle between two – Kohala and Maunakea – of the island’s five mountains, Waimea is a town of breathtaking scenery and diverse landscapes. The history of the still-bustling ranch town is one of cattle ranches, cattle raising and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys and cowgirls). Spanish-Mexican cowboys (vaqueros) were first brought to the island by Kamehameha III in the 1830s to assist the community in learning how to break in horses for work, as well as rope and corral an overpopulation of cattle. The paniolo born of the vaqueros’ teachings founded the small town’s now deep-rooted paniolo culture. Visitors are invited to explore modern Waimea, its farmers' markets, historic Anna Ranch, and the humbly quaint Paniolo Preservation Society office. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

The all-new luxury lifestyle resort Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection is set to debut in January 2020 on the island of Hawaii following a resort-wide reimagination and renovation. The resort will open with contemporary guest rooms and suites, five private bungalow residences, five restaurants and lounges, three distinct pools, and a signature spa and wellness haven, as well as the property’s Kainalu active-pursuits program, Living Culture program and interactive Holoholo Kids Circle, all complemented by Auberge’s intuitive and gracious service.

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Hiking tour stops by the Pololu Valley Lookout

Destination Residences Hawaii is offering travelers an opportunity to embark on an epicurean adventure only possible on the island of Hawaii. Its Destination Delicacies package allows up to six guests to discover a selection of the island’s delicacies in one day, starting with a private helicopter ride and waterfall landing with a champagne toast. Following the helicopter ride, island tour operator Hawaii Forest & Trail takes guests on a private land tour, which includes stops at Waimea Farmers Market, Honokaa Chocolate Co.’s Kahi Ola Mau Farm, Mauna Kea Tea’s fields, Honopua Farm and dinner at Pueo’s Osteria. 

Couple crossing rope bridge on Kohala hiking tour

You can explore the upper slopes of Kona’s very own backyard volcano Hualalai with Hawaii Forest & Trail. Guests venture up the volcano and access private acreage aboard the tour company’s Hidden Craters Hike, trekking native cloud forests with incredible vista views of the Kailua-Kona Coast, standing on the edge of precipitous volcanic craters, and climbing through a segment of a lava tube. After lunch on the mountain, the tour heads back down to Historic Kailua Village for a tour of Kona’s newest brewery Ola Brew, sampling local beers and ciders made with harvested fruits and produce from local farmers. 

Shopping for flowers at Kapiolani Community College Farmers' Market

The island of Hawaii produces one of the rarest honey varieties in the world: kiawe wood honey, which naturally crystalizes into a creamy white honey with a delicate tropical taste. Fairmont Orchid is home to four beehives populated with more than 80,000 honeybees producing kiawe honey. Guests of the resort can view the beehives on a complimentary Botanical Garden and Bee Tour, every Tuesday from 9:30 -10:30 a.m. The tour includes an in-depth exploration of several tropical plant species, a visit to the beehives and a tour of the chef’s garden, where many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs served at the resort are sourced. 

Various fresh, local produce for sale at a farmer's market table

Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI) is partnering with Jet-Set Offset, an online platform helping raise awareness of the environmental impact of air travel, to offer travelers and businesses the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their commercial air travel while also helping reforest the island of Hawaii. Visitors can donate one cent per mile flown, which is the average estimate of the cost to offset carbon emissions from air travel. Each donation will go toward the purchase of Gold Standard-certified carbon credits for offsetting the carbon footprint of traveler flights while they plant endemic Legacy Trees in Hawaii with HLRI. 

Kainalu Mauka to Makai Sports is Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection’s innovative approach to resort activities. It’s a recreation program guided by world-class athletes where resort guests can learn a new language for adventure and embark on immersive journeys of self-discovery. The Kainalu program is inspired by an awareness of one’s ha(breath), the foundation of life and the key to healthy routines. Activities are progression-based and include mainstream and alternative options suitable for all ages. Among these are a heli-bike tour and a night dive with manta rays. 


You’ve probably heard by now the studies that show how experiences make us happier than things. We get a thrill when we purchase an item, but that thrill fades. After a while, the emotional boost we got from that shopping experience is gone. Hopefully we are left with a purchase that is at least useful and necessary in our lives. But all too often, unnecessary shopping just leads to the planet’s garbage problem.

Experiences, on the other hand, provide an emotional high that never fades. In fact, memories of experiences, especially ones shared with people we love, only increase our happiness over time. 

So instead of spending our budget on things for ourselves, or giving things to the people we love, the experiences of travel may be the very best gift you can give yourself or your loved ones. 

Escaping our day-to-day lives, exploring a new destination, experiencing new sights, scents, sounds and flavors during travel can change our lives… AND give us that perma-boost of happiness.

Traveling together especially creates a lifetime of shared happy memories and stories that can be re-lived and bind us together, and aren’t togetherness, shared laughter, and fond recollections of moments all the things we really want with our families and friends?

Prioritizing acquiring travel and experiences over acquiring more stuff will change your life.

But we’re not suggesting you never shop at all. In fact, you can have you cake and eat it too. Shopping while you’re traveling, and acquiring meaningful mementos of your travels, create those valuable happy memories and delightful objects that trigger those happy memories for the rest of your life.

Souvenirs that reflect local culture and resources and flavors (not junk made in factories abroad that will end up in your local landfill) enhance our journeys to new destinations and the fond memories we cherish.

Local farmers’, artisan’s and Christmas markets, and studio, workshop, winery or distillery visits allow us to discover delightful souvenirs of our journeys and also meet the makers of the arts, crafts, food, wine, and spirits that we will love to share and to remember our journeys, should be essential experiences on every trip.

WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: AMERICA’S OLDEST FARMERS’ MARKET; the perfect shopping escape during your stay in Seattle or pre- or post- your West Coast or Alaskan cruise.

So we wanted to share some of our favorite travel shopping experiences to inspire travel in the season of giving.

Start your Trip!


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Five Ways To Experience The Best of Hawai'i's Art and Culture

The island of Hawai‘i’s vast, diverse and often breathtaking landscape is home to six distinct moku – the Hawaiian word for “districts” – with lots for you to see and experience in each.


ISLAND OF HAWAI’I – Want to truly experience and appreciate the boundless natural wonder and diversity of the island of Hawai‘i’s landscape and its centuries-spanning intertwining with Hawaiian culture? For your next visit, plan a multiday road trip that’ll take you through each of the island’s moku.

Moku is the Hawaiian word for “districts,” and each of the eight main islands of Hawai‘i has them. The island of Hawaii’s 4,028 square miles are comprised of six moku – Hilo, Puna, Ka‘ū, Kona, Kohala and Hāmākua – originally divided from the whole of the mokupuni (island) as districts of rule by Hawaiian chiefs long before European contact. Within each moku were further land divisions called ahupua‘a, which, like most moku, encompassed land areas stretching from mountain summits to nearshore reefs and everything in between them, and contained and replenished nearly all natural resources their residents required for survival. Today, many Hawai‘i residents still informally recognize ancient moku as geographic markers.

The island of Hawai‘i’s six moku are fascinating in their diversity, individually home to everything from towering waterfalls, rugged coastline and places of recent volcanic activity, to emerald valleys, white sand beaches, dense rainforests and places of historical significance to Hawaiian culture. And because we’re now pretty much certain you’re going to road trip through all six, we’ve put together a listing of the places we recommend you check out within each moku.

Enjoy the ride, the scenery and our island’s magnificen† moku!

HILO

Waiānuenue Falls/Wailuku River State Park.
Waiānuenue is Hawaiian for “rainbow (seen in) water,” which are often found surfacing the 80-foot cascade and its expansive, foliage-covered gorge on sunny mornings. Visit the park’s two locations: Waiānuenue Falls and nearby Pe‘epe‘e Falls and Boiling Pots, the latter a series of river pools and waterfalls connected by underground caves whose waters roil turbulently as if boiling. Swimming and water activities are prohibited at both locations due to unsafe conditions.

‘Akaka Falls State Park. Plunging 442 feet from its crest into a deep, emerald gorge, ‘Akaka Falls is a bona fide breath taker. Almost as cool? The way the waterfall cinematically enters your view on a short loop-trail through its luxurious surrounding rainforest. Along the way, further downstream, a viewing platform offers a vista of 300-foot Kahūnā Falls; less impressive than the park’s main plunge, but still quite lovely.

Lili‘uokalani Park and Gardens. We still can’t decide on the biggest scene-stealer here. A century-old Edo-style Japanese public garden graced with ponds, walking bridges, pagoda, torii gates, a teahouse and lots of space for picnicking, on land given to its creation by Hawai‘i queen Lili‘uokalani. Or a commanding view of Hilo town’s pretty crescent bayfront and 13,803-foot Maunakea volcano from sea level to summit.

PUNA 

Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. The only (and we mean ONLY) natural occurring tropical rainforest zoo in the U.S. is home to more than 80 animal species from the world’s tropics and several endemic Hawai‘i fauna, including the ‘io (Hawaiian hawk), nēnē (Hawaiian goose and state bird) and pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl). Bonus: Anyone still at the 12-acre zoo at 3:30 p.m. (a half-hour before closing time) is welcome to watch as staffers feed resident tigers Tzatziki (a white Bengal) and Sriracha (an orange Bengal) their daily dinner of whole raw chickens. Entry is free, but donations are welcome.

Pohoiki Black Sand Beach and Isaac Hale Beach Park. The island’s newest black sand beach at Pohoiki is a creation of nature born of nature’s destruction.
Specifically, the lava flows spawned by Kīlauea volcano’s three-month summer 2018 lower Puna eruption, which buried a large swath of the Puna shoreline. Though the flow eventually stopped several hundred feet short of entering Pohoiki Bay, the violent force of molten lava meeting raging sea created a superabundance of lava rock granules that eventually filled the bay, leaving behind a large black sand beach. Though ideal for walking and sinking toes in its indigo sand, Pohoiki Beach is unsafe for swimming.

KA‘Ū

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. It’s not every day one gets to thoroughly explore a 333,000-plus acre showcase of six global climate zones, contrasting environments and landscapes, the geological forces that continually shape and grow our planet, and the deep connection between Hawaiian culture and the natural environment. But each of the above is what this astounding park offers visitors every single day, whether main attraction Kīlauea volcano is showing off with an eruption or temporarily slumbering. Plan to visit the park’s Kahuku Unit, too, for ranger-led and self-guided exploration of massive Maunaloa volcano’s 1868 lava flow, post- and pre-lava flow native forests, historic pasturelands and the history of people on its landscapes.

Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. South of the national park, explore this picturesque coconut palm bordered beach, whose indigo sands – much-loved by Hawaiian green sea turtles for beaching and sunning, and Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtles for egg-laying – are, like Pohoiki Beach in Puna, actually fine, sea-worn granules of hardened Kīlauea volcano lava. Punalu‘u isn’t safe for swimming, but is a great spot for picnicking or sinking your toes in black sand.

KONA

Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
Its name means “place of refuge at Hōnaunau,” which was its purpose prior to the 1819 abolishment of the kapu system of Hawaiian sacred laws. Persons fleeing death or harm were given full protection at this oceanfront sanctuary and free to leave after being absolved by its priests. Today, the park preserves the sanctuary, fishponds, royal palm grove and other cultural sites.

Hulihe‘e Palace. Its structure built with lava rock in 1838, Hulihe‘e sits on oceanfront acreage once resided by Kamehameha the Great. Through the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1893, the palace was home to more royalty than any Hawai‘i residence. Managed and preserved by the nonprofit Daughters of Hawai‘i since 1927, it is now a museum displaying royal artifacts from the era of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi‘olani, including koa wood furniture, feather works, portraits and Hawaiian quilts.

KOHALA

Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site.
Kamehameha the Great commenced the 1790 construction of this massive stone heiau (temple), one of the last major pre-contact sacred structures built in Hawai‘i. Consider the following when you finally lay eyes on Pu‘ukoholā: It’s believed laborers formed a 20- mile human chain across neighboring 5,480-foot Kohala volcano to transport the heiau’s water-worn stones to the site where, without mortar, its foundation and 16- to 20-foot walls were completed in just a year.

Pololū Valley Lookout and Trail. This is a gem of a valley for hikers. The northernmost valley on the island cutting into the soaring northeast sea cliffs of extinct Kohala volcano, Pololū is explorable via a half-mile foot trail descending from the valley overlook to its rock-strewn black sand beach (sorry, no swimming) and views its lush interior. Not a hiker? Pololū’s end-of-road overlook offers stunning views of the coast.

Puakō Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve. A hike on the trails cutting through this sun-pelted 223-acre lava rock field are said to reveal just a third of the preserve’s more than 3,000 ki‘i pōhaku (Hawaiian for “images in stone”). The true meaning of the rock carvings – some dating as far back as 1200 A.D. – are largely unknown, but thought to be records of early Hawaiian spiritual and everyday life, and big life events, such as births.






Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area. Picture this, beach fanatics: A half-mile stretch of some of the finest, most golden sand on the island, the right amount and heights of wave action to get bodyboarders and bodysurfers downright giddy, and lots of sandy acreage to cop a nap, soak up sun, finish a book or build a massive sand fort. Catch our drift yet? Hāpuna Beach is big. The snorkeling and swimming here is aces, too. Side note, though: Be sure to put on reef-safe sunscreen before hitting the beach. Reason one, the Kohala Coast is extremely sunny. Reason two, reef-safe sunscreen isn’t toxic to our precious coral reefs and will be the only type of sunscreen sold in Hawai‘i come 2021.

HĀMĀKUA

Waipi‘o Valley Lookout. Full disclosure: You won’t see the entirety of the island of Hawai‘i’s largest valley – six-miles deep, with a mile-long black sand beach, towering north and south walls, and taro farm and wetland floor – from this lookout. But the view from more than 2,000 feet up is still as crazy breathtaking as Hawai‘i vistas get. Interiors of Waipi‘o – boyhood home of Kamehameha the Great – can be seen on guided tours.

Kalōpā Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area. The reward to the senses here is 100 acres of dense, green and damp Hāmākua Coast upland native rainforest accessible by an easygoing .75-mile nature trail or a picnic area the forest surrounds on all sides. More on that nature trail, though. Typically cool and chilly – you’re at the 2,000-foot elevation of Maunakea volcano, after all – it negotiates old-growth ‘ōhi‘a trees, ferns, flowering flora, diversely fragrant forest air and a forest bird soundtrack. Ahhh. One quick request before you trek any Hawaii native forest: Thoroughly clean your shoes and gear of all outside soil and debris before entering so as not to contaminate the forest with non-native plant material that can quickly spread and kill native flora. 


People visit Montreal for its culture as a city of nearly non-stop festivals, for its style and French lifestyle in North America, and for the culinary scene that put it on the world map long before many other cities celebrated their locally-grown talent and flavors.

One of the best ways to connect with Montreal as a fashion capital, as an historic North American commercial center and as an artistic, creative and eco-innovative leader, is to go to one of Montreal’s most unique designers, Harricana.
BestTrip discovered this Maker who brings together Montreal and Quebec’s heritage as the center of the 17th and 18th century fur trade, one of the coldest major cities in the world in the winter, and as the fashion capital of Canada with her imaginative, ‘eco-luxe’ collections of items made from recycled furs.

Harricana’s designer Mariouche Gagne recognized that many Quebecers had parents’ and grandparents’ fur coats in storage, needed by previous generations for warmth in Montreal’s famous winter climate, but now languishing unused in an era of new fashion sensibilities, and better heating in cars, homes, and public places, as well as a concern about the ethics of fur.

Her design line answers all of those needs.

She shared the story of her ‘aha’ moment of vision, when she had to submit a design and was inspired to turn her mother’s old fur coat into an award-winning ski suit design.

That vision, of upcycling furs that are lying unused, into high-design, eco-responsible and, in her words, ‘eco-luxe’ fashions, accessories, home design and even jewelry, became Harricana.

Not only did she develop an exciting model of exchanging unused vintage furs – which last for generations – into modern, wearable and useful items that honor the origins of the furs, Mariouche has become in demand by the high-concept design scene around the world, including France, Italy and Asia.

Visitors to Montreal can visit Harricana and bring home one of the most authentic souvenirs of French Canada. You can even join an upcycled vintage fur pom-pom making workshop to get an appreciation for fur as Nature’s first textile, and of the skills and talents needed to craft beautiful and useful items from re-purposed fur.

Start your Trip!


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That’s before its first ship has even launched. 

Virgin Voyages is like all of Sir Richard Branson’s new endeavors: it’s all about making waves. Everyone is talking about Branson’s new take on what it means to cruise and the young-at-heart, hip, and stylish new cruise crowd Virgin Voyages will appeal to.

WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: How Does Sir Richard Branson Do Cruising?

The company’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady, is scheduled to debut in the spring of 2020, sailing fewer than 3000 ‘sailors’/guests from her home port in Miami year round in the Caribbean, including calls at Virgin Voyages’ private island beach resort in the Bahamas.

And before the Scarlet Lady even sets sail, her sister ship has been announced. 


When the Valiant Lady launches in 2021, the ships will share a sleek, modern, yacht-like aesthetic and Virgin’s signature ‘ rebel luxe, Adult-by-Design, lifestyle that feels like a music festival at sea. 

It’s a detox/retox atmosphere that balances health and wellness options like juice bars and sunrise yoga with indulgence in more than twenty dining spaces (all restaurants, no buffets!) champagne at the push of a button on the app, and entertainment that reflects Virgin’s roots in the leading edge of the music industry.

Itineraries to Ibiza and Beyond


But instead of the Caribbean, the Valiant Lady charts a different course. From a homeport of Barcelona, the Valiant Lady will sail week-long voyages in the Mediterranean, calling in ports in some of the region’s hottest destinations from France to Italy to Spain, to savor the world’s best beach clubs, cultural experiences, restorative spas, yacht clubs and nightlife.

Instead of the Ibiza-inspired private island beach resort in the Bahamas, every Virgin Voyages sailing on the Valiant Lady in the Med will have Fridays overnight in thrilling, trend-setting party scene Ibiza itself. Whether it’s a blessed-out beach club, a bohemian market, a serene spa, watching the stunning sunsets, or a late night out, there is no place in the world like Ibiza, and it’s a highlight of the Virgin experience in the Mediterranean.

In addition to Ibiza, the upcoming Valiant Lady’s 3 itineraries feature late night stays in other ports so ‘Sailors’ can make the most of the evening attractions in these destinations:
 
  • The exotic delights of Barcelona, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Marseille and Olbia
  • A fantastic sampling of the Med featuring Barcelona, Ibiza, Toulon, Ajaccio, Marina di Carrara and Cagliari
  • Spanish immersion, stopping by Barcelona, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and the British port of Gibraltar at Spain’s southern tip. 

 

Sunday Sail-Aways from the Heart of Barcelona

 
When Valiant Lady launches in 2021, the ship will dock just steps from Las Ramblas in central Barcelona. This prime location, usually reserved by luxury liners and mega-yachts, permits walking access to the dynamic and diverse neighborhoods of Spain’s most popular port town, including the famed urban beach of La Barceloneta. The weekly Sunday sail away was strategically designed to give you maximum flight options and the opportunity to enjoy at least an extra full day pre-cruise in Barcelona.
 
The Valiant Lady is the latest, but not the last, new ship for Virgin Voyages. The Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady are just the first two of four ships the budding cruise line has on order, proving Sir Richard Branson’s latest lifestyle/ travel brand is determined to make a big splash into the cruise scene.
 

Start your Trip!



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3 Perfect Outdoor Activities for your Next Vacation in the Dominican Republic
The Caribbean’s second-biggest country (behind only Cuba) may also be its most diverse. The Dominican Republic’s beaches are the headliners, but centuries of history, magnificent mountain ranges, vivid riverways and national parks, one-of-a-kind culture, cuisine and local products, all combine to provide a tropical island destination that goes well beyond the sunny coasts.

You can do more than defrost on the island’s famous beaches this winter. 
 
On your next trip to the eastern half of the Caribbean’s second-largest island, get off your lounge chair and get involved in the Dominican Republic’s most famous sporting activities.
 

Golf like the Greats

 
It’s the most celebrated golfing destination in the Caribbean. Voted “Golf Destination of the Year for Latin America and the Caribbean” in 2019 for the fourth time by the Global Golf Tourism Organization, the Dominican Republic’s courses are legend.
 
Avid golfers can book tee times at lush seaside and inland greens designed by the most acclaimed golf course architects, including Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Price, and Greg Norman. 
 
From La Romana to Punta Cana, Juan Dolio, and Puerto Plata, the country boasts 86 sea-facing holes and 39 ocean-side, where the course design and ocean breezes provide challenge as well as the breathtaking views.
 
Golf pros regularly flock to the country for working holidays and tournaments including the Dominican Republic PGA Tour.   You can get a taste of that high-flying golf lifestyle at any of the DR’s dozens of top-tier golf courses. 
 

Gone Fishin’ in the Caribbean

 
Dominican Republic is a fisherman’s paradise. Surrounded on three sides by rich waters, the island’s local fishermen have a long history of bringing home the day’s catch. You can do that, too.


Whether you’re looking for a laid-back fishing getaway or a high-energy, man v fish challenge on the high seas, you can give your fishing tackle a workout in the Dominican Republic.
 
Visit one of the local sports fishing centers or work with an expert guide who can bring you to the shore’s most abundant waters, where you’ll be certain to reel in a brag-worthy catch.
 
Push your Dominican Republic holiday into May, and you can join other anglers for the Torneo de Pesca fishing tournament. The high profile annual event showcases Bayahibe’s best catches and its unique and colorful fishing atmosphere.
 
Further east along the southern coast, the Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic Tournament in La Romana in April brings visitors to one of the country’s hottest spots for the majestic blue marlin.
 
The pleasure you’ll get from this exciting fishing event is enhanced by the stunning surroundings. Casa de Campo was designed by an Italian architect, and mimics the old seaside villages of the Mediterranean. The Casa de Campo Marina is one of the region’s most prestigious, and accommodates up to 350 yachts.  You’ll want to do some interesting people watching after you return with your day’s catch.
 
 

Dominican Republic’s National Pastime

 
Baseball may be America’s game, but it has deep roots in Dominican culture and history.

Known lovingly as “pelota” in Dominican Republic, is the country’s undisputed favorite sport, the game you’ll see played in every tiny neighborhood park, and the source of dreams for countless young players. The Dominican Republic punches above its weight in producing international baseball stars.
 
Many of the world’s most legendary players hail from the country, including Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, Robinson Canó, José Reyes, Juan Marichal and Bartolo Colón, among many others.
 
There aren’t many opportunities for visitors to the country to play, but lots to enjoy baseball from the stands. Attending a “juego de pelota” is more than just watching a game—it’s also a ticket to a live party, and an opportunity to share with locals a celebration of one of the country’s greatest passions.
 
The Dominican Republic’s baseball season runs from mid-October through late January. Game schedules can be found at the Dominican Baseball League’s official website. Six teams compete at stadiums around the country, and for baseball lovers, the experience is not to be missed.
 
Whether your picture-perfect getaway involves the challenge of an oceanside golf course, a day at the baseball field or an open water adventure in pursuit of your next great catch, Dominican Republic delivers memories that last a lifetime – as well as the opportunity to recharge and refresh pool- and beachside.
 

Start your Trip!


Photos: Dominican Republic Tourism

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The Ultimate Travel Experience for Your Favorite Star Wars Fan
The Force is Strong with This Plane. Just in time for the debut of the movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, United Airlines has unveiled an opportunity for fans young and young at heart to fly the friendly galaxy.

It has re-imagined one of its planes in epic Star Wars mode, from the eye-catching livery on the outside, to the experience on board.


The plane is flying across the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America. But you’ll think you’re in a galaxy far, far away when you see this plane on the tarmac. The exterior paint design captures the Star Wars atmosphere with imagery of spacecraft including X-wing and TIE fighter starships against a black, space-like background. 


The two sides of the aircraft reflect the two opposing sides of the Force...


even down to the dramatic tail art: a different colored lightsaber lit against the darkness and ready for the hand of its invisible Jedi to wield.



Remember what they said about the Millennium Falcon? Well, no one will call this state of the art, unforgettable aircraft a ‘hunk of junk’!


Just as unforgettable for Star Wars and movie fans is the on the ground and on board experience.

 
You might find yourself running a gauntlet of Stormtroopers en route to your flight.

Or needing some extra time for some photos....


Even pilots are getting some selfies!


Once you’re on board, pick your seat carefully: good or evil? The interior is divided, like the exterior livery, between both sides of the Force, with headrests displaying emblems of the dueling sides: the Resistance and the First Order. 
Classic Star Wars-themed music plays during boarding, and even amenity kits are themed for this final film in the Skywalker saga.  


About Safety, This Is (said in your best Yoda voice). Your in-flight safety video (click here to see it for yourself) features appearances by iconic Star Wars characters, space sequences, footage of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker movie experiences around the world, and some of the most recognizable music in movie history to highlight safety procedures in case of an emergency while you’re flying far, far away. 

The airline’s loyalty club members can even bid their award miles on some additional Star Wars experiences and perks, including access to premieres of the film in LA and London, as well as exclusive screenings in United hub cities before the movie has its theatrical release, travel packages to filming locations, and packages with one-of-a-kind themed collectors’ items.

You can ask your travel agent to book you on your next flight by looking up the plane’s tail number, N36272.
 
And while not everyone will have the chance to see United’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker plane in person, you can track the aircraft via a special icon on online flight tracking platform FlightAware (below image).


For the first time, film becomes aviation reality as flight and Star Wars enthusiasts can track past and future flights by entering the plane's tail number, and the new livery will appear on FlightAware's flight tracking maps as the X-Wing starship.
 

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Images courtesy United Airlines unless otherwise noted.

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A Dozen Reasons to Visit India During Diwali
India’s biggest and most important annual holiday is also one of the best times to visit the country.  

Ancient civilizations the world over celebrate lunar cycles, the harvest, and the power of light. India’s version of this universal theme is Diwali, and the festival brings centuries of rich tradition alive.

Every year over five days in October or November, communities and families around the entire country – and millions of Indians around the world - celebrate.

Here are 12 reasons why you’ll want to travel to India during Diwali celebrations.

1. Meaning


A Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’ is composed of the words for lamps (deepa or diva) and row (avali). Today Diwali is India’s festival of lights for the row of clay lamps celebrants traditionally lit outside homes to symbolize light triumphing over darkness, reflecting a practice that has been documented as far back as the 7th century.

2. Timing

It’s easy to understand a harvest festival celebrating the light that nurtured the crops that ensured survival of the community. Diwali follows the lunar calendar, and takes place during autumn’s new moon – the darkest night - in October or November. In agrarian India, it was natural to pray for the blessing of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, during the last harvest before winter.

Legends grew up around Diwali, including the marriage of Lakshmi to Lord Krishna. And Diwali began to be associated not just with light, but with new beginnings.

3. Diwali Day 1: Purifying and Shopping


The first day of Diwali features two tasks: thorough cleaning of homes and businesses, a symbol of purification and renewal; and shopping for kitchen tools, and precious metals, especially gold.
 

4. Diwali Day 2: Decorating 

 
Now that homes and businesses are purified and cleansed, comes decorating. People set out clay oil lamps (or modern versions), and make special designs using colored powders, rice, even flower petals on floors and pavements. Oil, flowers, and sandalwood are included in rituals carried out on the second day of Diwali.
 

5. Diwali Day 3: Prayers and Fireworks

 
Diwali peaks on the third day, when families gather to pray to the goddess Lakshmi, as well as Ganesh (with an elephant head), the god of wisdom, and the lord of wealth, Kuber. Music, feasting, and fireworks follow the prayers on the third day of Diwali.

 

6. Diwali Day 4: New Year and Love between Spouses

 
This day marks the first day of the new year, even for businesses throughout India, who mark the fourth day of Diwali as the first day of the next fiscal year.
 
It’s also a day for love. Family and friends visit with gifts and best wishes, and husbands present their wives with gifts.
 

7. Diwali Day 5: Brotherly Love

 
The final day of Diwali extends the themes of festivities, food and gifts – this time between siblings, celebrating the bonds between brothers and sisters also with prayer.
 

8. Celebrating


Themes of Diwali’s celebrations run through the days leading up to the 5-day festival: light in many forms, including traditional clay lamps and also candles lining the sacred Ganges and other lakes and rivers, fireworks, electric lights illuminating temples and historic buildings, and bonfires; celebrating Lakshmi, goddess of wealth through prayer, gold, shopping, new clothes and jewelry; colorful patterns on the floor, henna designs painted on hands, especially of lotus flowers, which Lakshmi is often depicted sitting on or holding; cleaning, purifying, gift giving and feasting.

9. Eating


With one of the richest culinary traditions in the world, India celebrates its biggest festival of the year with an extravagant array of cuisine, both sweet and savory, in an incredible range of colors and visual presentations. Sweets in particular are given to family and friends.


10. Shopping and Spending


Diwali is the festival celebrating Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, so it’s considered an auspicious time for spending and investing. It’s the biggest shopping event on India’s calendar, with spending nearing $4billion during the festival on clothing, gifts, and especially gold and gold jewelry.  The precious metal is believed to attract more wealth to its bearer.

11. Including Multiple Faiths


Diwali may be a Hindu festival, but like India, the festival is a big tent that has expanded to become a national celebration including the entire country’s Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, who mark Diwali by celebrating not Lakshmi, but deities of their own faiths.  A common theme runs through all the celebrations regardless of faith: the triumph of light over darkness.

12. Joining in the Celebrations

 
You can do more than observe Diwali when you’re visiting India. Wish people an ‘Auspicious Diwali’ with the words ‘Shubh Deepavali’. Or dress up for the occasion; ladies can add some sparkling gold jewelry or even don a salwar kameez to feel part of the festivities.

 

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Images: Getty

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Tips for Drinking in Japan
Just as water is served automatically at a restaurant table in the West, green tea appears magically on every restaurant table in Japan. But what about a more… spirited beverage? Japan’s consumption of alcohol is legendary, and involves its own beverages and etiquette.

Here’s what you need to know before you order.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Sipper-in-Chief, BestTrip TV

Japan has embraced both beer and whisky from the West, and proceeded to develop excellent and well-know brands of both.

But for more local flavor, the two main contenders for an evening’s entertainment in one of the countless bars and restaurants and karaoke lounges throughout Japan you should consider are: sake (sah-kay) and shochu (show-choo). 

Shochu


Shochu originated in Japan at least 500 years ago, and may be even more ‘Japanese’ than sake, even though sake is better known in the West. In fact, while the West sees sake as the essential Japanese spirit, in Japan itself, far more shochu is consumed than sake.

Shochu is sometimes confused with Korean soju, and there are some similarities. They are both distilled beverages made from rice, or sweet potato. Japanese shochu can also be made from barley. Each has its own quite different taste.

If you drink it neat/ straight up or on the rocks, shochu is a stronger drink than sake, averaging 25-30% alcohol.
However, it’s often mixed with cold or hot water, or fruit juice/flavored water, and as a mixed drink, its strength drops substantially.

Sake


Sake is made exclusively from rice, with roots in Japanese tradition dating back to at least the 700’s, and possibly in its earliest forms close to 2000 years ago.

Where shochu is distilled, sake is fermented. You sometimes hear it called ‘rice wine’, but that’s not a good description. In fact, sake is more similar to beer than wine, as it’s made with grain, and brewed and fermented with yeast. Unlike beer, sake then goes through a second fermentation with a certain type of mold.

The results can range from sweet to dry, from clear to cloudy, and are weaker than sochu, with only about 15% alcohol. Although sometimes in the West, cocktails are made with sake, in Japan, it’s almost exclusively consumed on its own.

There’s nothing to warm you up on a chilly winter’s day on one of Japan’s ski hills, like hot sake, served in tiny cups with no handles that warm your hands up in no time.

I’m a big fan of warm sake, but it’s also served at room temperature and also chilled. Right now in the West, the trend-setters and tastings focus on cold sake. It is true that heating can kill subtle flavors, so it’s reserved for less refined varieties. If you are really intent on discovering the differences between different types of sake, room temp is the way to go.
 

Japanese Drinking Etiquette


Never pour your own drink. Your host/ friend/ colleague/ fellow drinker at a communal table will pour your glass for you. You should hold your glass lightly with both hands while your friend pours. 

Similarly, do pour drinks for your friends. 

Here’s where it can get tricky. Alcohol is served in small glasses. Your friends top you up often. So it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’re consuming. 

You know where this is going. So to keep your head on your shoulders, it’s helpful to decline being topped up until your glass is empty, then at least you know you’ve had, for example, three full glasses and it’s time to quit.

It’s hard to decline a drink in Japan; a sense of hospitality, combined with the work-hard/ play-hard psyche of many Japanese people, keeps the drinks flowing. However, holding your hand flat above the top of your glass, or leaving it full, will deflect another hospitable top-up. 

Kanpai! (kahn-pie!) = Cheers!


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One of the biggest trends in recent years has been ‘Multi-Gen’ travel, where 3 or more generations of the family come together on vacation.

‘Skip Gen’ travel leaves Mum and Dad at home for some much-needed downtime (or house reno’s or a getaway of their own!) while Grandma and Grandpa go on holiday with the grandkids for some fun times and bonding.

As with any trip, everyone involved deserves to have a good time. When grandparents think about taking their grandkids on an escape, it should be a vacation that means something and appeals to them as well as to the younger generation.

BestTrip TV’s Lynn Elmhirst recommends 4 types of trips for ‘skip gen’ travel:

Historical Travel

 
Grandparents often carry the torch of family memories and how real people lived in earlier times, and historical travel can be one of the best ways for them to pass the torch to a new generation. Grandma and Grandpa can share memories and family history on trips retracing family roots to the old country or to places where ancestors lived when they first came to this country.
 
Or the older and younger members of the family can discover together places that changed both family and world history. A Skip-Gen trip to the WW2 Normandy Landing Beaches gives both generations a taste of the spectacular modern French way of life, as well as the chance to walk the actual beaches where Americans, Canadians, British and other Allied countries came together to retake Occupied Europe and change the course of history.
 
Are Battlefield Memorials Appropriate for Kids? Watch the video at the top for insights about why and how destinations like the Juno Beach Centre (Canada’s D-Day Landing Beach in Normandy, France) appeal to families.
 

Resorts with Adult Amenities Plus Kid Attractions 

 
There are some Caribbean or Mexican Riviera resorts that are ALL about the kids with non-stop fun. Or all about grownups (even adults-only lifestyles). But it doesn’t have to be either/or.
 
How about resorts (all-inclusive or otherwise) that have equal appeal to the older and the younger generations? Places where grandparents and kids can alternate quiet relaxation poolside and fine dining with heart pumping thrills, like Barcelo's Maya Grand Resort, a village of multiple resorts where both generations can change it up from formal to casual to poolside dining, places to bask in the sun of the Riviera Maya, and get the blood pumping at a new adventure park, Ventura Fly & Ride, with 8 unique aerial attractions or test driving skills in vehicles from pedal carts to off-road motorized vehicles – all in the protected environment of the resort grounds (pictured below).
 
 
 

Cruise Ships

 
Like a beach resort, sometimes a ship IS the destination, complete with waterparks, go karts, climbing walls and even a sky diving simulator. If you’re traveling with teens, you could consider ships within a ship – if there are teens, grandma and grandpa can enjoy the relaxing grown up environment of Norwegian Cruise Line’s The Haven while the teens have the run of the adventure park and they can meet up before and after. Win-win.
 
Here’s another thought: make it about the cruising destination. Cruising is the best – and most accessible - way to journey in comfort to epic wildlife destinations like Alaska, or the Galapagos. The grandkids will never forget the trip where they meet a thousand-pound, 100-year old tortoise or see a grizzly bear hunting for salmon, or go fishing with their grandparents themselves, on phenomenal shore excursions. 

(Princess Cruises: Alaska Shore Excursion)
 
Even ultra-luxury ships that are normally geared towards adults embrace young guests on itineraries like these. What’s more, these two itineraries are excellent examples where the cruising season happens to accommodate summer holidays. (Alaska sailings are in the summertime, and Galapagos is a year-round destination).

(BestTrip's photo from the Deck of a Regent Cruise to Alaska Sailing Past the Hubbard Glacier.)
 

Soft Adventure

 
Outdoor adventures together can help grandparents and their grandkids to create lifelong bonds and lasting memories and be healthy and active every day. And the world is full of great places to spend time together outdoors.
 
Holidays with daily opportunities to be active, like ranches where you can go riding, lodges and hotels where you can take nearby hikes, cycling or water sports, and land-based safaris with combinations of driving and walking cultivate healthy habits as well as relationships. 

(G Adventures: Family Adventure in Sand Dunes in the Sahara)
 
The more active the grandparents, the more you can ratchet up the physical activity: taking to the ski hills, climbing Kilimanjaro, cycling through Vietnam together.
 
Time spent with the youngest generation is more valuable than ever, and skip-gen trips give kids and their grandparents the priceless gift of travel as well as close ties.
 

Start your Trip!

 
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It was a fabled event in military history and has become etched into popular culture, the subject of movies, documentaries, novels and real stories shared by veterans returning to their homes.

2019 marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day. With every passing year, there are fewer and fewer veterans alive who landed on Canada's Juno Beach, Britain's Sword and Gold Beaches, and America's Omaha and Utah Beaches in the desperate effort to gain a foothold and begin liberating Occupied Europe. 

Their sacrifices and success have become legend, and we can still pay tribute to the power of people and nations banding together to achieve a noble goal. 


HELP THE LANDING BEACHES ACHIEVE UNESCO STATUS


The initiative to list Normandy’s D-Day Landing Beaches as a UNESCO World Heritage Site aims to preserve the Beaches and the stories of the people who fought for freedom and shared values of humanity.

You can join tens of thousands of people who have signed the petition at

normandiepourlapaix.fr/en/liberte-jinscris-ton-nom


The online form asks (in French) for you to add your
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email
  • Country
  • Age
  • City
  • Check that ‘you’re not a robot’, then
  • Click the ‘Valider’ blue button
to register your support.

 

VISIT THE D-DAY LANDING BEACHES


For countless families across Canada and the United States whose fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles fought on D-Day or in any battle of World War 2, as well as students, new citizens, community groups and military and veterans' groups, the Landing Beaches in Normandy, France are an essential travel destination to honor, first-hand, the monumental task and tremendous sacrifices of D-Day, and walk in the very footsteps of the soldiers who landed there.

The Landing Beaches are easy to reach for any traveler to Northern Europe. Ask your travel advisor to help you find the perfect pilgrimage Here are some of the options that take you to American Landing Beaches and Canada's Juno Beach Centre.

Independent travelers can take rental car, private tour or train (especially if you get a rail pass) and public transportation from all major Northern European cities including Paris, London, Amsterdam and more.

Or you can join a land tour, shore excursion from a river cruise, or even from an ocean cruise calling in a northern French port.

  • Globus, Collette, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations land tours include the Landing Beaches as part of general-interest tours of France or Northern Europe, as well as war memorial or battlefields tours of the region;

  • Avalon Waterways, AmaWaterways and Uniworld Seine River cruises from Paris offer shore excursions to the Landing Beaches; and

  • Oceania Cruises and Princess Cruises calling in Le Havre offer shore excursions including American and Canadian Landing Beaches.

We often look for meaningful acts of Remembrance. Supporting the UNESCO listing of the D-Day Landing Beaches, and making a once-in-a-lifetime trip to our Landing Beaches in Normandy help keep the history of D-Day alive for us all.


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The Hotel that made Copacabana Famous
Some hotels help define their destinations.   Not only with an historic pedigree, but with a location that makes them central to the local lifestyle.

The Belmond Copacabana Palace helped create the mystique of Rio de Janeiro that thrives even today.
Imagine a time when Rio’s now-epic beaches were unused and unfashionable. In the 20’s, Brazil’s upper classes lived in the cooler elevations of the hills.


So when the country’s president asked a local wealthy businessman to build a landmark hotel on Copacabana beach to help mark Brazil’s centenary, a lot of eyebrows lifted.

But the idea turned out to be the start of a legend. A French designer created an Art Deco palace inspired by the elegant, white limestone and marble hotels lining the seashore in Cannes and other storied Mediterranean destinations where the rich and famous went on holiday.    

It instantly put Copacabana on the world stage… and ever since, it’s drawn a global who’s who of royalty, celebrities and history-makers, from Princess Diana, to Marilyn Monroe, to Nelson Mandela and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who calls the hotel a second home.

The breathtaking property anchoring Rio’s Atlantica Avenue on Copacabana beach has seen millions of dollars of renovations and upgrades in recent years, and been brought into the Belmond hospitality family that includes the legendary Orient-Express luxury train, and Venice’s most prestigious hotel, the Cipriani. Today, the Belmond Copacabana Hotel maintains its rank among that stratospheric tier of worldwide hotels who help define their destinations.



It is the landmark on what is now one of the world’s most epic beaches, an oasis from the throbbing beach lifestyle, just across from the famous mosaic boardwalk known the world over.

 
The architectural character that includes towering ceilings, period furniture crafted from Brazilian freijo or mahogany wood, along with antiques, French fabrics and fine oriental carpets is married with modern design elements and all the comforts of 6-star hospitality, including beds so comfortable, it’s said Keith Richards’ wife asked to buy some after staying in the hotel while the Rolling Stones were there on tour.

 
Guests can sip cocktails and champagne and enjoy the refreshment of fresh fruit trays and iced towels that pool staff bring around as they lounge by Belmond Copacabana Palace’s scenic, half-Olympic sized pool, spend time in the spa that is the largest urban space of its kind in Brazil, work on their serve on on-site, urban tennis courts, and join the local and international A-listers in Rio’s top bars and restaurants, from the first restaurant on the continent awarded a Michelin star, to an Italian restaurant named after its sister Hotel Cipriani in Venice, to a restaurant that overlooks the Copacabana’s legendary swimming pool.

 
(Photo: Belmond Copacabana Palace)

The Copacabana Palace evokes a sense of being part of a timeless era of international glamour, perhaps most when it hosts the celebrated Rio Carnival Ball, a tradition begun the very year the hotel opened in the 1920’s. The Carnival ball has become an event as synonymous with the city’s Carnival as the costumed samba parade itself, considered one of the greatest shows on earth.
 
The society and couture fashion highlight of Carnival, this is where the rich and famous come from around the world to party like Brazilians. The spectacular black-tie event takes over the hotel, with live samba music in different art deco ballrooms, and on the spectacular hotel veranda, overlooking Copacabana Beach that the hotel helped turn into the legend it is today.  
 

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There’s a constellation of Michelin stars and celebrity chefs bringing their award-winning dishes, TV show hits and cookbook favorites to guests on cruise ships in all the seven seas. 

Dare we say it? Sometimes, the culinary experience afloat is even better than on land, where you may line up around the block or try to book a table in a decorated chef’s restaurant months in advance. And you might need those extra months to save up for the gastronomic indulgence. 

Cruise guests don’t just have easy access, with chef partnerships making their signature culinary stylings available to all the guests on board. The token fees charged for cruise line specialty restaurants by superstar chefs are a fraction of what you’d pay at any of their restaurants on land.

And in some very special cases, at the luxury level of cruising, whether a chef has consulted on an entire ship’s cuisine, or master-minded a single specialty restaurant, these stellar culinary experiences are included in your cruise!

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host and Cruise Expert of BestTrip TV, shares her favorite, surcharge-free gastronomic experiences at sea. 

Thomas Keller on Seabourn Cruise Line

The American chef with the most Michelin stars and a string of renowned restaurants including Napa’s The French Laundry and NYC’s Per Se, created The Grill by Thomas Keller for ultra-luxury Seabourn ships. 

You’ll delight in elevated classic and mid-century steakhouse atmosphere and dishes, some you don’t see often any more, like Lobster Thermidor, and Caesar salad prepared tableside, accompanied by choice selections of wines and crafted cocktails. 

WATCH VIDEO ABOVE FOR A TASTE OF THE GRILL BY THOMAS KELLER ON SEABOURN

Keller also presents popular, family-style set menus some evenings in the casual Colonnade. What’s more, there’s no additional cost for Keller cuisine on Seabourn. 

Nobu on Crystal Cruises

Japanese meets Peruvian cuisine in the kitchens of Japanese celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who has a host of acclaimed restaurants in major gastronomic cities around the world… and on the two exquisite Crystal ocean cruising ships. 

(Photo: Crystal Cruises)

Umi Uma & The Sushi Bar serve the only Nobu cuisine at sea, and they are included in your cruise fare once each for every week-long cruise. Delectable sushi and sashimi are offered, along with fusion dishes like Nobu-style Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu sauce, or a bento box of chocolate souffle cake with shiso syrup and sesame ice cream. 

Jacques Pépin on Oceania Cruises

He’s been with Oceania since its first ship sailed, and shaped the culinary signature of what Oceania bills as ‘the finest cuisine at sea’. The French Legion of Honor member, whose resume includes a long-running, beloved PBS TV series, cookbooks and time spent as the personal chef of multiple French presidents including Charles de Gaulle, brings his mastery of exhalted French cuisine to the Oceania fleet, where all dining, including specialty restaurants, is complimentary.  

(Photo: Oceania)

In addition, on the Marina and Riviera, the restaurant Jacques re-creates an authentic, relaxed Parisian bistro dinner experience. Decorated with heirloom antiques and art from the chef’s personal collection, it’s an escape to the streets of Paris, with rotisserie turning fragrant roasts and seafood is served in classic French style. 

Alain Ducasse on Ponant 

French luxury cruise line Ponant turned to another French culinary legend to ensure the excellence of the cuisine and a ‘French touch’ on its fleet of small jewels of ships. Alain Ducasse remains one of the most decorated chefs ever, with restaurants in Europe and the Americas making him the first chef to have 3 restaurants awarded 3 Michelin stars at the same time.


(Photo: Ponant)

On Ponant’s intimate ships, dining takes place in one or two restaurants (some Ponant ships have both a ‘Gastronomic’ restaurant and an casual, al fresco style Grill). Ducasse ensures the French focus on cuisine thrives on Ponant ships with refined dishes that speak to the shared French heritage, as well as dining inspired by local ports of call.

Jean-Pierre Vigato on Paul Gauguin


(Photo: Paul Gauguin)

The ship Paul Gauguin epitomizes French Polynesia, famous for sailing exclusively in the South Seas. The ship’s namesake French artist, the French Polynesian itineraries… and a French chef raised in the French countryside and rising to the level of having his own, Michelin-starred restaurant on Paris’ Champs-Elysees.  

(Photo: Paul Gauguin)

In addition to L’Etoile,the ship’s main, fine dining room,and Le Grill, alfresco casual dining, the Paul Gauguin has a third dining venue, and all are included in your cruise fare. La Veranda, the third venue, is transformed in the evenings into a gourmet restaurant serving Vigato’s gourmet cuisine. 

James Beard Foundation Chefs on Windstar Cruises


Rather than partnering with a single - or multiple individual chefs, Windstar has partnered with America's most beloved and prestigious culinary institution, the James Beard Foundation. Windstar has formalized its relationship as the Official Cruise Line of the foundation, whose annual awards are referred to as the Oscars of America's culinary scene.

(Photo: Windstar Cruises)

Together, they bring some of the country's most talented chefs and sommeliers on themed Windstar cruises, where they shape the onboard dining program. Imagine dining on dishes created by not just one celebrity chef, but a list of all-stars with the likes of Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab), Evan Hanzcor (Egg), and Jose Mendin (Pubbelly Noodle Bar, Habitat, Baja Bao). Windstar's themed cruises featuring James Beard Foundation chefs and beverage experts are a foodie’s dream, with chef demos, special beverage pairings, and market tours.

From classic or modern or destination-inspired French cuisine, to elegant Japanese and creative fusion, to elevated cuisine from across America.  

Of the countless reasons to treat yourself to a luxury cruise, one of the best must be the gastronomic delights by some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs - that are already included features of your cruise.

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Even in a state overflowing with breathtaking scenery, Maui’s Road to Hana is legendary. It’s been called the best thing to do in Maui, and even the top scenic drive in the US, and we can’t disagree.

If you’re on Hawaii’s second-largest island, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to rent a car to explore this epic trail that starts at Kahului (the town with Maui’s main airport) and winds its way to the eastern town of Hana and beyond. 

You can also take a tour with an expert who can help you find some of the more hidden jewels of this corner of north-eastern Maui. Ask your hotel concierge for recommendations.

Although you can theoretically drive the Road to Hana in 2 or 3 hours, you’ll want to devote the whole day at least, so you can have ample time to stop to look in awe at the sights, or swim in the sea (all of Hawaii’s beaches are public) or hike on designated trails.

BestTrip TV captured just a few highlights of one of the most scenic drives in the world to share with you in this video.

Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit, towels, eco-safe sunscreen, hats, an inexpensive cooler with water and snacks (you’ll find lots of great restaurants for meals en route) and backup batteries/ chargers - also a paper map would be a good idea, as wi-fi access seems to go in and out along the way. When you see the landscape, you’ll understand why!

This is a scenic drive that requires your full attention – again, when you see the video, you’ll understand why! So pack your patience along with your supplies for the day. And put safety first as you drive, when you cross single-lane bridges, or when you pull off at a scenic rest point.

Also consider timing your trip to make the return drive during daylight for maximum visibility and safety, or even stay overnight so you can enjoy the Road to Hana to the fullest.

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Move over Halloween: 5 Reasons to Travel to Mexico for Day of the Dead
It’s the fantastical backdrop of the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. And one of the items on the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead is often mistaken as the country’s equivalent of Hallowe’en, but Día de Muertos has its own history, traditions and practice in modern Mexico that make it the celebration worth planning a trip at the end of October.

Aztec + Christian Mash-up

Hallowe’en’s roots lie in ancient Celtic culture. But Day of the Dead began with Mexico’s local traditions and a festival dedicated to an Aztec goddess around the time of the fall corn harvest. 

October 31st, November 1st and November 2nd. Three Christian holy days associated with death and resurrection. Hallowe’en emerged on the Christian calendar on All Hallows Eve, October 31st; and Mexico’s ancient local traditions also converged with new, Christian feast days: November 1 and 2, the Catholic All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. 

In Mexico, Day of the Dead still has spiritual significance celebrating death as part of the cycle of life, and loved ones moved on to the afterlife. 

Celebrating Death…

Day of the Dead is not a single day. It’s actually a multi-day celebration where families gather to remember deceased members and provide support for their spiritual journey to the afterlife.  It is not a sad time, but a happy one, where departed loved ones ‘join’ the living for the celebration.

Mexicans build altars in their homes and visit graveyards to decorate with candles to light the way of the departed, photos and personal items, and highly fragrant orange marigolds whose strong scent was believed to draw the souls of the dead to their living relatives celebrating their memory. In some places, families picnic in the cemetery, and spend all night beside their relatives’ graves.

 
Makes you Hungry

Bread of the Dead, a sweet bread decorated with skulls, bones arranged in the circle of life, or teardrops for sorrow, skull-shaped sugar confections, and bottles of pulque (fermented agave juice) or tequila, and jars of cinnamon-flavored corn porridge all featured in Day of the Dead celebrations.
 
All About the Face – A Skull Face

The icon of the Day of the Dead has become ‘La Catrina’, short for La Calavera Catrina, or ‘Elegant Skull’, the image of a female skeleton dressed in historic fancy dress. La Catrina originated from an early 20th century illustration by that name of a female skeleton’s head wearing only an ultra-stylish European ladies’ hat of that era.

It was meant to be a satirical put down of the social pretensions of Mexico’s upper classes. But it took on new life as the symbol of the Day of the Dead. A quote attributed to the artist, “We are all skeletons”, says it all: underneath even fancy dress, we are all the same, and will all eventually die. 
 
Hallowe’en has a whole cast of ghoulish characters, from ghosts to vampires and zombies and other ‘Undead’, but Mexico’s Day of the Dead is symbolized by the Elegant Skull dressed for a formal ball.

Death do us Party

They say art imitates life, but in this case, life may be imitating art. The opening scene in the James Bond film Spectre, of a spectacular Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, actually inspired a concerted effort by local residents to make what had been a small scale, random occurrence into a grand, annual affair. 

Not only has a grand parade leading up to the Day of the Dead become popularized for the local community, it’s become a tremendous tourist attraction, and gives visitors a way to participate in authentic local culture.

You’ll see couples and entire families dressed up, with ladies as La Catrina (many even finding this an excellent way to re-purpose their wedding gowns) and men in formal wear as the male equivalent, catrines.

Visitors are encouraged to don their own skull masks or makeup and historic fancy dress to participate in a revitalized and growing essential experience of Mexican culture.

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Images: Getty

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Virgin Voyages' 'Save Water, Drink Champagne' Easy Button
Oh, and there’s a caviar bar, too.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages says it’s committed to ‘disrupting’ cruise travel, and that means a twist on one of the luxury cruise standards: champagne and caviar.

The cruise line has already shared its ‘ship tease’, with the slogan ‘Save Water, Drink Champagne’ proudly displayed on an outdoor lounge.


Now, it’s revealed what that slogan really means to guests, or ‘sailors’ on the Scarlet Lady when she sets sail in Spring 2020. 

In the rebellious luxe/ music festival at sea atmosphere of Virgin Voyages, it’s never too early for champagne and there’s always something to celebrate.  To help every guest feel like a rock star, they’re offering a one-of-a-kind champagne service: Shake for Champagne.

Virgin Voyages sailors have an app to facilitate their on board experience. When you shake the app, a secret ‘Save Water, Drink Champagne’ button appears, and at the press of the button, you’ll have a bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial instantly delivered in an eye-popping, glamorous Virgin red champagne bucket… anywhere you are on the ship.


In addition to on-demand champagne delivery to your side, the Scarlet Lady introduces the first dedicated champagne lounge and caviar bar, with the fun and cheeky name Sip.

So you can go find champagne in effervescent surroundings when you don’t feel like having the champagne come to you.  The rose, gold and marble of the bar are not only perfectly on-trend in fashion and design, they echo the delicate tones of the champagnes served.


Circling the bar, deep ocean blue banquettes and cool, Carrara marble tables anchor your experience of luxury any time, day or night you visit.

Not only will you discover caviars and a range of champagnes from single glasses to a $1000 vintage bottle, in a nod to Virgin’s quintessential British heritage and eccentricity, Sip offers its own deluxe and eccentric version of a signature afternoon tea. On the Scarlet Lady, you know it’s not going to be your grandmother’s tea!


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Images courtesy Virgin Voyages.

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3 Reasons to Book Off-Season Travel
Experienced travelers know there’s a code when it comes to travel seasons. High season, low season, shoulder season and off season – your choice of travel season can make a big difference to your travel experience. 

Is there a perfect time to travel? Well, there are at least 3 good reasons to take ‘off’ season trips. Here’s why.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer / Host, BestTrip TV

Do you find yourself always heading out of town during ‘high’ season?

‘High’ season is when everyone is traveling.  High seasons are the busiest, most expensive, ‘prime-time’ travel periods.

Some ‘high’ seasons are due to ‘non-negotiable’ travel events. Think: the ones scheduled around school breaks and essential family holidays like Thanksgiving. Whether or not you want to fight the crowds, risk delays caused by disruptive snowstorms, and pay through the nose, you’ll be at your parents’ table in time for turkey.

Others are due to weather. The very best kind of weather. Sometimes you’re aiming for opposite weather, like traveling from the chilly North in the winter to warm up in the sunny islands in the Caribbean. And sometimes, you’re heading towards your ideal conditions of what you already have, like leaving the dirty snow of the city for the perfect powder on the slopes.

‘Low’ season is generally due to sub-optimal to quite bad local weather conditions. No one’s traveling to get there, and no one’s there when you arrive. The perfect weather or main attractions or signature local experiences may be completely missing during low season. In extreme cases, some hotels or resorts are closed, the locals have all gone on their own ideal vacations, and it’s a ghost town. 

The main attractions of a new destination during ‘low’ season are quiet and solitude. It could be worse than just 'quiet' too. In the case of the height of the Atlantic hurricane season in the US South-East and the Caribbean, or typhoon season in South-East Asia, you could end up spending your holiday navigating a serious weather event.

'Shoulder' season is right on the edge between high and low seasons. It’s not the height of perfect weather or timing, but it isn't the worst, either, and for the right travelers, it could be perfect. That's the 'off'-season sweet spot.

Here are the best reasons to consider booking off-season travel:

Lower Prices and More Perks


Everything is less expensive in the off-season, from flights and hotels, to packaged tours and cruises. On top of lower prices, you can also score perks that can allow you to stay longer, take more of your favorite people with you, or get freebie inclusions. 

Book early or last minute, and you could multiply the savings. (Booking early is best for people who like the most choice, but if spontaneity is your thing, last minute off-season travel can be very rewarding.)

You can pocket your savings, or use them to upgrade to a more luxurious experience, or book special treats, like spa treatments, special dining experiences, even a pricier locally-made souvenir than you might otherwise indulge in.
 
Off-season Cruise Travel Bonus: in the off-season, when storms head your way, a cruise ship can navigate to fairer skies. Although your itinerary may change and the skies may be cloudy, your cruise will likely not endure the worst of any bad weather.

Flexibility is always the key to enjoying off-season travel.

Fewer People


If you’re the kind of person who hates line ups and crowds, off-season is the one for you. Why spend your time waiting in line to go up the Eiffel Tower, when you could be having your second café au lait while people-watching at a picturesque sidewalk café?

Locals unwind once high season is over, too. They have more time to spend with the guests who do arrive. The relaxed pace of off-season can give you some of the most memorable exchanges with the people you meet on your journey.

Special Events


There’s only one harvest season in a vineyard. A short window of time when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. And a few short weeks when the Christmas markets are open. That's what high season is all about.

But more and more destinations are creating local events to extend their tourism seasons - events that are not contingent upon Mother Nature or long-standing cultural traditions. In many places, shoulder seasons are becoming the most exciting times to visit. Culinary and wine tasting and music festivals, races and marathons and yoga retreats, art shows and film festivals. No matter what your interest, there’s likely a fascinating destination with an off-season event celebrating it.
 
Some travel timing is unavoidable. But if you have flexibility about when you travel, a travel advisor can help you design the best vacation during the season less-traveled.

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There are more ways to explore the earth than overseas and overland. And the new Scenic Eclipse takes you there. 
With 2 helicopters for ‘flight-seeing’ and a submarine to reveal vast beauty of underwater realms, this luxury expedition ship covers all the bases – and with its top Polar Class-rated hull, it can sail in any of the world’s seven seas.

What’s more, Scenic’s sleek, sophisticated style makes the Eclipse feel like a billionaire’s yacht… with fewer than 200 fortunate guests at a time sharing an adventure of a lifetime.

BestTrip TV got a tour of the Scenic Eclipse on her inaugural voyage and discovered there’s more than billionaire’s toys to the first ocean cruising vessel for a company that’s already made its mark on luxury land tours and river cruises.
The Scenic Eclipse echoes the luxury of its river cruises and land tours. For all the head-turning design and deluxe amenities and experiences you’ll find on board, as an expedition ship, the focus of any Scenic Eclipse voyage is outdoors.

An expedition team and local guides take guests on hikes, kayak excursions, and a host of ship to shore zodiac landings in remote coasts of the world – and that’s even before you step foot on the submarine launch deck or the helipad.

The Eclipse’s itineraries take her around the globe, from the Northwest Passage across Canada’s Arctic coast, through tropical adventures in the Caribbean and Central America, to the remote wilds of Patagonia and epic Antarctica, the storied coasts of North and South America, the maritime cradle of Western civilization in the Mediterranean, and north to the fjords of Scandinavia and the volcanic landscapes of Iceland.
 

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Cowboys. Wild white horses. Wild black bulls. And pink flamingos.Hard to imagine any place on earth where you'll find all of them together, but the vast Camargue delta in the South of France is home to all of these colorful creatures. You can't miss BestTrip.TV's introduction to French cowboys and the beautiful wilderness of the Camargue.
Start your Trip! 
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Finding Wellness in the Waters of Jamaica
You probably already know that Jamaica is famous for its beaches.  And you may even have already come back relaxed from a beach holiday in the island country that has been voted top Caribbean destination, and one of the top 20 in the world.

But the unique terrain of Jamaica has also yielded natural healing waters inland from the beach.  Here are some of the places and ways you can make wellness a part of your next getaway to Jamaican waters. 


On the Ocean

On the west end of famous Negril beach, a wellness escape combines the water with the principles of Shiatsu.  Jackie’s On The Reef offers this treatment, called Watsu, at its whimsical, waterfront property.   

Guided by a specialized therapist, the treatment takes place in warm, waist-deep water to take weight off the vertebrae, allowing the spine to twist and stretch – ultimately relieving pressure off the nerves and organs. Watsu can be a profound treatment, and it’s believed to treat the mind and renew a person’s sense of connection and oneness with others. It’s only one of the ways guests can connect with the sea, including yoga, meditation and spa treatments. 

In addition to sparkling beaches, the country’s natural springs and therapeutic baths add a new dimension to your next wellness vacation.  

Milk River Bath

Jamaica’s South Coast has one of the best mineral baths in the world. Milk River Bath contains high levels of the minerals magnesium, calcium, sulfate and natural chloride in waters averaging 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more all year round. The mineral intensity is more than 50% stronger than famous natural bath spas in Europe, and helps relieve rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica and nerve conditions as well as liver disorders.

You can stay among the lush landscape of the Jamaican countryside at the local Milk River Hotel & Spa, where you can enjoy the therapeutic baths, in private bath houses.


Rockfort Mineral Bath

These natural baths on the outskirts of Kingston are rich in minerals including calcium and sodium bicarbonate. It’s fed by a cold spring from Rock River, and locals have been using the natural mineral baths to stimulate vital processes including blood circulation.  Visitors have caught on too, and also enjoy the soothing waters by dipping in at the swimming pool, private whirlpools, or one of 11 open-air baths.


Bath Fountain

These two mineral springs, one cold and one piping hot, have been a popular destination since their discovery as far back as the 1600’s.  Bath Fountain is located in the foothills of the John Crow mountains and contains lime, sulfur and magnesium. They are said to relieve gout, rheumatism and skin conditions. 

There’s a nearby, secluded hotel with the same name that has running water from the mineral springs feeding directly into its indoor baths.

(Photo:  GoldenEye Hotel & Resort)

Traditional Jamaican Bush Bath

In addition to the Nature-provided mineral baths and springs, Jamaica has a healing cultural tradition.  Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind wellness practice, where a variety of herbs and botanicals are steeped in an outdoor bath, and treat stress, colds, skin problems and other ailments. 

Some hotels offer visitors this therapeutic experience in their spas, including the Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon and the FieldSpa at Golden Eye (of James Bond author Ian Fleming fame), with a menu of four different Healing Waters Bush Baths.

Make sure your next island vacation includes more than a swim at the beach.  Relax, and enhance your physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing with Jamaica’s healing natural springs, therapeutic baths and oceanside aquatic treatments.

(Private tub for herbal baths at the award-winning Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon)

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World Gorilla Day: 3 Things a Travel and Animal Lover Can Do
The world’s largest primates have their own day, September 24th. Gorillas are larger on average than humans and maybe that’s one of the reasons they’re larger than life in our imaginations and on screen in movies like Tarzan and King Kong and Gorillas in the Mist.
 
Gorillas are both imposing and inspiring. Did you know…

  • Gorillas live in tropical and sub-tropical middle Africa. Two species, Western and Eastern, are separated by the Congo River, with habitats ranging in elevation from mountain-top cloud forests to swamps and marshes at sea level. 

  • Male gorillas can grow to over 6 feet tall, with a chest more than 6 feet around, an arm span nearing 9 feet, and weighing in at over 500 pounds of sheer muscle, all on a diet of vegetation, fruit and insects!  Females are about half the size of males.

  • They are in some ways more closely related to humans than even our closest primate relatives, the chimpanzees.  We share up to 99% of our DNA with gorillas.

  • Gorillas are highly intelligent.  They can use tools for hunting and gathering food and nest building. They have over two dozen ‘vocalisations’ to communicate with each other, have been shown to grieve and laugh and lead ‘rich emotional lives’, show individual color preferences, and famously, Koko the gorilla learned to communicate with humans with sign language.


  • Gorillas live in groups called ‘troops’ of about 3 dozen, headed and protected by a single, mature male called a ‘silverback’ after the patch of silver that appears on the backs of males over 12 years old. Silverbacks also have large canine teeth that can cause deep gaping wounds.  If the troop is attacked by leopards, humans or other gorillas, a single silverback will protect the group even at the cost of his own life. 

  • Gorillas are knuckle walkers, but occasionally walk upright on two feet.  That is part of a silverback’s unique, ritualized ‘charge display’, along with throwing branches, chest beating and sideways running, intended to intimidate while avoiding violence.

  • Gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered, especially Eastern mountain gorillas, with fewer than 1000 remaining in the wild and none in zoos. Habitat destruction for farming and mining, commercial poaching, and disease including Ebola mean gorillas are facing extinction. 

  • American primatologist Dian Fossey’s groundbreaking work studying gorillas in Rwanda and championing their protection was the subject of her book Gorillas in the Mist.  Her life among the gorillas and her brutal 1985 murder, likely by poachers opposed to her conservation efforts, are immortalized in the 1988 film by the same name. 


World Gorilla Day


September 24th is the day that Dian Fossey established Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda  in 1967. Now, the annual World Gorilla day is a day to take action to protect gorillas in the wild for future generations. 
Here are 3 things you can do:

  1. Recycle your electronics.  Mobile phones, tablets and laptops contain coltan, which is mined from gorilla forest habitat and contributes to its destruction.  You can help gorilla conservation by recycling your devices so the coltan can be re-used. 
  2. Support gorilla conservation through organizations like the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
  3. Book an ethical trip to encounter gorillas in Africa. Responsible travel companies ensure your trip doesn’t harm or interfere with gorillas.  Plus, ethical tourism revenues support conservation efforts directly, and by employing members of the local human community, create an economic reason to support gorilla conservation.

Travel agents can identify the most responsible as well as thrilling gorilla travel experiences for you.


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By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

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The Real Downton Abbey and 3 Other Majestic English Manor Houses That Star in Films
If the Downton Abbey movie and TV series has you fantasizing about life in the elegant and storied surroundings of England’s stately homes, you are not alone. The stories and history made in these estates are legendary.

At one time, there were tens of thousands of country houses owned by Britain’s noble families. The English countryside is still dotted with breathtaking architectural marvels punctuating sweeping landscapes, as well as smaller, more humble versions. Some are still homes to lords and ladies of the manor; others are grand museums, hotels, event spaces. Some are both. 

All are fascinating windows into a history and lifestyle brought to life in countless favorite novels, TV series and films. 

If you feel you were ‘to the manor born’, you’ll feel quite at home at the real ‘Downton Abbey’ and these three other, splendid examples of British stately homes that have been on the big and small screen.

HIGHCLERE CASTLE


The stately home at the end of a sweeping drive, framed by majestic ancient trees in the hero shots of every Downton Abbey show, is the real-life Highclere Castle in Berkshire (pictured, top).  

The perfect proportions and striking Jacobean architectural style are enhanced by the surrounding gardens designed by maestro landscape architect ‘Capability’ Brown.

Rather than the fictional Crawley family, it’s been the real ‘seat’ of the Earls of Carnarvon since the 1600’s, with the current Earl and Countess still in residence today.

In addition to standing in as the Earl of Grantham’s ‘Downton Abbey’, Highclere Castle welcomes visitors through its now-famous front doors. So you really can wander through some of the rooms featured in Downton Abbey and imagine yourself at a dinner party, tea, or even a ball with the Crawleys.

Downton Abbey is not the first time Highclere has been at the centre of media attention and the public imagination. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was involved in the discovery of the epic riches of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt in 1922. When he ‘mysteriously’ died a short time later, it fueled tabloid stories of the ‘Curse of King Tut’. He actually died of blood poisoning from an infected insect bite, so visit Highclere Castle without fear of ancient curses lingering today!

 

BLENHEIM PALACE


Anyone with an interest in English or WW2 history must put Blenheim Palace on their travel bucket list.  

The sprawling, rare example of English Baroque architecture is woven into British history. A grateful Queen Anne gave the land in Oxfordshire, an immense sum of money, and the highest non-royal title, 1st Duke of Marlborough, to the victor for Britain in the War of Spanish Succession at the beginning of the 1700’s. It’s the only non-royal and non-Church country house bearing the name ‘Palace’.  

The descendents of that 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, have eclipsed his fame and impact on world history. It was at Blenheim Palace that Winston Churchill was born, and the name of the Marlborough family now is Spencer-Churchill, related to Lady Diana Spencer, who became Princess of Wales. 
 
Blenheim Palace and its 2000-acre signature gardens by the very busy Capability Brown have even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vast country house continues to be the home of the Dukes of Marlborough. 

Film fans recognize Blenheim Palace from scenes in wildly diverse films including Transformers: The Last Knight, James Bond’s Spectre, MIssion Impossible: Rogue Nation, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Young Victoria, and even the TV show the Amazing Race. 


CHATSWORTH HOUSE


You catch your breath the first time you see Chatsworth House, the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire since the 1500’s. It’s regularly voted Britain’s favorite country house, and it’s easy to see why. Built on the banks of a river, surrounded by exquisite parkland and backed by wooded, rocky hills, it’s a stunning building in a dramatic setting.

16 generations of the Cavendish family have been born and died at Chatsworth, including recent generations. The recently-deceased Dowager Duchess was one of the famed Mitford sisters (that included renowned novelist Nancy Mitford), the upper-class ‘Kardashians’ of their day.

Chatsworth House today still houses a remarkable collection of paintings, Old Master works, neoclassical sculpture, books and artefacts. 

If it looks familiar, Chatsworth too has been the real-life setting for famous fiction. It was named in the original 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice as one of the estates Elizabeth Bennet visits before arriving at Mr. Darcy’s home Pemberley; and that fiction came full circle as Chatsworth stood in as fictional Pemberley itself in the 2005 movie adaptation of the novel starring Keira Knightley. Another Knightley film, The Duchess, was filmed at Chatsworth, as were scenes of The Crown. 


LYME PARK


Lyme Park has the largest house in Cheshire, and it’s the only property on this list that is not still used as a family home. It was handed over to Britain’s National Trust, which preserves its history, architecture, and park lands for the public to appreciate and enjoy.

From the 1300's until after the Second World War, the estate was owned by the Leghs of Lyme, with the house dating back to the late 1600’s, and including both Palladian and Baroque styles. The lavish house interiors reflect its Regency-era rejuvenation. 

In addition to the mansion, Lyme Park is famous for its tree-lined avenues, formal gardens and park with an immense herd of red deer dating back to the 14th century. The views are tremendous, and include a building called ‘The Cage’ on a nearby hilltop that was originally a hunting lodge and later became a park-keeper’s cottage and prisoner lockup. 

Fans of British period dramas will also recognize the reflecting lake as the setting of the famous scene where Mr. Darcy met Miss Bennet in the BBC production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. 

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Images Courtesy Visit Britain.

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How This Cruise is Breaking a World Record

245 days. 6 continents. 51 countries. 111 ports. 


Imagine spending August 2019 until May 2020 on a cruise circumnavigating the world. This phenomenal cruise sailing around the world, beginning and ending in London, England, is setting a Guinness World Record for 'longest continuous passenger cruise'.


Viking Cruise's 'Ultimate World Cruise' takes over 900 guests on a journey of a lifetime, and one that is attempting to set a world record. Already underway, when the Viking Sun makes a triumphant return to London next spring in 2020, a Guinness World Record adjudicator will be waiting, ready to confirm the record-breaking journey with a certificate presentation. 

It will be icing on the cake of a nearly 9-month voyage to the world's most legendary cities, iconic landmarks, and remote destinations. That's more than double the length of Viking's previous world cruise itineraries.


For a select few who can devote the time (and budget) to such an ambitious journey, their Ultimate World Cruise explores Scandinavia, the Caribbean and destinations throughout South America before calling on the remote tropical islands of the South Pacific. Viking Sun will then continue its journey along the coast of Australia and through Asia before returning to the Mediterranean and Europe.


Highlights of this months-long voyage include:
  • Greenwich: London at Your Door – Dock in the historic Royal Borough of Greenwich, London, which allows guests easy access to the regal capital’s iconic sights, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: One of the 23 overnight stays let guests enjoy the larger-than-life Christ the Redeemer statue, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and the legendary nightlife of Rio.
  • Ushuaia, Argentina: Commonly referred to as the “End of the World,” guests will visit Ushuaia, a city perched on a steep hill on the southernmost tip of South America.
  • Hobart, Tasmania: The capitol of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, Hobart offers guests the chance to explore its unique wilderness at the southern-most point of the continent.
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Formerly known as Saigon, and now home to a mix of modern skyscrapers, French colonial buildings and ornate palaces, guests can explore the Vietnam-War era Cu Chi Tunnels, the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Reunification Palace.     
  • Mumbai, India: The financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India gives guests the opportunity to learn about iconic activist Gandhi and visit the Hanging Gardens.
  • Luxor, Egypt: The site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor is dense with historical monuments for guests to explore, including the Temple of Karnak and the Valley of the Kings & Valley of the Queens.
 
A reflection of Viking's appeal to travelers with interests in history, art, music and cuisine, there's an included excursion in each of the 111 ports, and overnight stays in 23 cities so guests can enjoy the nightlife and cultural experiences of more destinations, including VIP access to cultural institutions.


On board Viking Sky's airy, Scandinavian-designed staterooms and public spaces, guests can participate in cultural enrichment related to ports of call, Viking's 'Resident Historian' program, regional entertainment coming on board, and even free Wi Fi to post stories and images of their life-changing trip to social media to share with friends, family and the travel world.

 

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3 Hurricane-Free Caribbean Islands
Recent, extreme hurricanes have devastated favorite Caribbean island communities.

For travel, the impact of more extreme hurricanes is double. It can take years for tourism infrastructure in island destinations to rebuild and welcome visitors again, so your favorite destinations and resorts may be unavailable.
 
Plus some travelers avoid Caribbean island vacations (and cruises) during the Atlantic summer and fall hurricane season, especially during the peak two months of risk mid-August until mid-October, for fear of being stranded or worse if a hurricane hits during their holiday.

The solution? Head south.

There's no perfectly 'hurricane-proof' island in the Caribbean, but the three Dutch 'ABC' islands at the southern most edge of the Caribbean are just beyond the fringes of the hurricane belt, and havens for hurricane season island vacations. 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV
 

ARUBA


The furthest of the ABC islands is only 15 miles off the coast of South America. Still, Aruba is just a couple of hours flight from Miami.
 
Unlike other Caribbean islands which are tropical, Aruba's climate is a desert. You'll see a landscape of cactus and aloe vera plants; especially in Arikok National Park, which covers nearly 1/5th of the island, and is also home to caves and archeological remains of original inhabitants.

 
The dry, sunny weather includes constant trade winds that contort the local, iconic divi divi tree into fantastic, bonsai-like shapes.
 
Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, and nearby capital of Oranjestad are home to the island's international restaurants, shopping, casinos, golf and other international travel amenities.

BONAIRE


The smallest of the ABC Islands, Bonaire is essentially a coral reef pushed out of the sea and surrounded by one of the world's most celebrated coral reef systems. The reefs have made Bonaire a bucket list destination for divers who consider it one of the very best shore diving destinations in the world.
 
Bonaire has led the Caribbean in nature conservation and eco-tourism. The entire coastline was designated a marine sanctuary in 1979. It protects the 350 species of fish, 60 species of coral and 4 species of sea turtle in its reefs.

 
Bonaire's shoreline is dotted with lagoons and inlets that are home to marine birds including rare nesting grounds of pink Caribbean flamingos. Mangrove forests are popular kayaking and snorkeling destinations for hotel guests and passengers in port from cruise ships.
 

CURACAO


Larger than Aruba and Bonaire, Curacao is also more commercial, with financial and oil-refining industries. It's a popular cruise port and has direct flights from cities on the East coast, as well as Miami and the Netherlands.
 
Curacao's capital Willemstad dates from the early 1600's. Its collection of well-preserved Dutch colonial architecture, cotton-candy and lacy versions of typical buildings from the era in the Netherlands, has earned UNESCO World Heritage status (pictured, top).
 
The island also has a thrilling geological feature for avid scuba divers: the 'Blue Edge', where the sea shelf drops sharply off only 200 feet from shore.

 
Possibly more famous than the island itself is its world-famous namesake blue liqueur. Curacao is distilled from the island's Laraha fruit, a bitter orange that resulted from Spanish settlers' attempts to raise Valencia oranges in the dry, poor soil. Although its fruit is inedible, the peel is powerfully aromatic. The liqueur's trademark blue? Just added color.
 
The ABC Islands should be on any traveler's list of top Caribbean destinations, especially during hurricane season.
 

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