Robert Q Travel Byron's Blog

Getting 'Salty' in Anguilla
“Water, water, everywhere, but not any drop to drink.” Being surrounded by seawater takes on new meaning in the British Caribbean island of Anguilla, where locals are rediscovering the luxury destination’s ‘salty’ history.

Anguilla’s only 16 miles long and 3 miles at its widest; a slender length of coral and limestone fringed with green, ringed with 33 beaches. A gem of the northern Caribbean, the island is an off-the-beaten path luxury retreat for celebrities looking for quiet seclusion, as well as other savvy travelers.

This small island is dotted with about 17 lagoons – but there’s a catch. They’re not fresh water. Like a number of other islands in the region, Anguilla relies on collected rainwater, underwater aquifers, and desalination of seawater for its water supply.

When Europeans first arrived at the island in the 1600’s, they uncovered a unique local treasure: Anguilla’s ‘salt ponds.’ Before the days of refrigeration, salt wasn’t just a seasoning. It was one of the best ways to preserve meat, fish, and other food, and was a precious commodity. In fact, the word ‘salary’ was derived from the Latin word for ‘salt.’

So began the start of salt production on the island. Reportedly, for over three hundred years, close to 100,000 barrels of naturally occurring salt were ‘harvested’ each year from the salt ponds and exported.

As tourism grew in Anguilla in the 1980’s, the salt industry faded in economic importance, but natural salt remained part of local identity, culture, and history. Today, Anguillans are rebuilding the local salt pond lifestyle.

(Above and top images: Visit Anguilla)

Most of the action is at the Road Salt Pond, a 100-acre lagoon that’s the largest enclosed body of water on Anguilla.

Nature lovers and bird watchers ‘flock’ to the Road Salt Pond. The unique wetland environment is a designated ‘Important Bird Area’ as a breeding site supporting the populations of over a hundred types of birds.


Locals have begun a new cottage industry of salt harvesting, and local tours take visitors to the pond to ‘pick’ salt by hand like generations of Anguillans did for hundreds of years.

You can even to take a dip in the highly mineralized - and therefore, therapeutic, water.

Beyond the salt ponds themselves, locally-harvested salt is finding its way into the everyday life – and visitor experience on Anguilla. 


(Image: Belmond Cap Juluca)

Spas at two of the most luxurious resorts on Anguilla draw on the local salt’s natural, therapeutic qualities. The Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla offers guests an ‘Anguilla Salt Body Polish,’ and at the spa at Belmond Cap Juluca (pictured above) you can take a ‘Salt Soak Bath.’

And the Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla has a restaurant dubbed ‘SALT’ (pictured, below) that celebrates locally-sourced salt as a gourmet ingredient.

(Image: Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla)

So you might go to Anguilla for the sea and the sand… but some of the best stories, memories and souvenirs you take away…. may be the salt!

Start Your Island Trip!




All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The ‘Mega-Moon’ and More Romance Travel Trends Every Couple Needs to Know
With so many celebrations put on ‘hold’ over the last couple of years, we knew when people started getting together to mark life’s great milestones again, it was going to be big.

How big?

Well, according to a new survey conducted by an online travel company, destination weddings and honeymoons are going ‘mega.’

The survey of American couples found that a whopping 97% - nearly all – honeymoon plans over the last two-plus years were affected by the pandemic.  Plans were either downsized, or canceled altogether.

And those couples are having a celebration comeback!  Almost 5 million weddings are expected to be celebrated in 2022 -2023, and happy couples are revisiting their plans  - upwards.
You may be surprised at some of the latest destination wedding / honeymoon trends shaped by two years without travel!   And it’s not just newlyweds. Some of these trends spill over to couples who are already together, and looking to rekindle that spark on a romantic trip together.

Trips, Not Toasters

More than ever before, couples are prizing experiences over an excess of stuff.  Now, a big majority – 65% - of couples are adding a honeymoon fund to their wedding registries. Instead of a complete table service at home, they want to dine in exotic locales together. 

‘Double-Moons’

Why stop at one honeymoon? An incredible 83% of couples now say they are planning multiple honeymoons. That could mean a mini-escape immediately after saying ‘I do,’ followed by a longer, more lavish trip later.

‘Redo-Moons’

Then there’s the clear pandemic trend – the do-over. Over half of couples revealed they were not completely satisfied by a honeymoon they did take during the pandemic.  A lot of couples took shorter trips, closer to home, rather than their dream, celebratory trips, and now they want the chance to make their honeymoon travel dreams come true.

‘Mega-Moons’

Go big, or stay home. Well, most couples did the ‘staying home’ part during the pandemic. Now they’re going big. Over half  - 53% - of couples say they’re going to splash out on their honeymoons, spending more than they had originally budgeted. That’s because now, almost two-thirds say they now want their honeymoon to be a bucket-list trip in luxurious surroundings.

The epic honeymoon today can take different shapes for different couples. Beach and tropical destinations are no longer the first choice of today’s couples.  About the same amount of couples are also interested in multi-destination trips, urban escapes or even national park trips.   Less than half say they’re interested in an all-inclusive resort – but the majority are looking for ‘pampering’ and romantic activities together like hot air balloon rides, sunset boat trips, and soft adventures.

Top Ten Honeymoon Destinations for 2022 - 2023

Move over, traditional island beach destinations! Today’s couples are all over the map when it comes to planning the ultimate honeymoon. 

Only one Caribbean island and one exotic tropical island destination made the top ten list of honeymoon destinations this year. St. Lucia and its twin Pitons are number 7 on the list, and the legendary coral islands of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean made the list at number 10.

Two hot-weather U.S. destinations made the list, including the tropical appeal of Florida, and the mystique of Los Angeles, at numbers 4 and 5 respectively.

The exotic, high-end urban destination of Dubai was the surprising second-most popular honeymoon destination this year.

Europe is made for romance, and honeymooning couples still favor the City of Love, Paris, the number 3 most popular honeymooning destination in the first post-pandemic travel year, as well as the Mediterranean pleasures of Spain (6) and Italy (7).  But the Nordic island of Iceland, with its surreal volcanoes, glaciers, and hotsprings, is an unexpected number 9 on the top ten list.

And the English-speaking U.K. – coming off the Queen’s history-making Platinum Jubilee celebrations, full of fun pubs, castles and stately homes, picturesque tiny villages and familiar cultural appeal, tops the list of 2022-23 honeymoon destinations.

Start Your Romantic Trip!


All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





Top Trends for a New Era of Wellness Travel
Global Wellness Day this year is June 11th, just as we are getting back into travel. Wellness travel has been a growing trend for several years, and the pandemic has given a whole new perspective to what we think about wellness, self-care, and good living.

Travel plays a big part in a balanced lifestyle. As the Wellness Tourism Association explains, small changes and good new habits can have an impact on our health. And that’s where wellness travel can come in. More than 100 countries mark Global Wellness Day, and many have their own cultural contributions to self-care practices. Travellers looking for new inspiration can combine the spiritual lift of travel with new mental, physical, and spiritual practices at their sources.

Gone are the days when ‘wellness’ travel meant just a massage and yoga at your resort. Travel can be the first step towards an overall – and long term – healthier and overall improved life.
In the decade since the origins of Global Wellness Day, the World Tourism Association says new wellness travel have taken root. Here are some to think about when you’re planning your next trip – and want to include elements that will ensure you return home better than when you left.

The Return to Travel Prioritizes Wellness
Wellness and self-care are among the top interests of people as we get back into travel.  The pandemic has reminded us of how important it is to take care of ourselves and to be well enough to face physical and mental challenges.

Wellness experiences are in high demand as travelers begin planning trips again.

You Can Skip the Spa
Some people live for a day – or longer – at the spa. But others may have avoided so-called ‘Wellness’ retreats because spas are not their thing.

Fear not. While spa treatments and established wellness center practices like yoga and massages remain popular and standard offerings, the wellness experience is expanding rapidly.
In particular, authentically-local practices drawn from historical, natural, or spiritual roots are ever-more in demand.

Embracing Nature
Increasingly, spending time in the natural world is being recognized as a major contributor to overall wellness. From international interest in the Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ to simply the tremendous growth in interest in hiking nature trails, the world is returning to its natural roots in pursuit of physical and spiritual wellness.

The World Tourism Association says spending time in nature is the practice most cited by wellness travelers in its surveys.

Small is Big
People have been getting more pro-active about their health, educating themselves about the science behind living well and staying well. According to the Wellness Tourism Association, that means they’re leaning into the learning’s that show how making small changes – and sticking with them- can lead to better health over the long term.

Those people are creating a demand for more wellness options, practices and training they can continue at home, and wellness-for-a-lifetime experiences they can begin on holiday and continue in their daily routines in real life.

Wellness is not a Luxury
In the past, wellness travel options have had the gloss of luxury – and luxury wellness isn’t going anywhere.

But if you thought of wellness travel as something for ‘ladies who lunch,’ you may be happy to learn that’s changing fast.

Many of today’s wellness travelers are looking for experiences and options that are inclusive and accessible to all fitness, and body types and budget levels. 

That’s great news for everyone who wants to look towards a future where your travel dreams come true – and you’re exploring the world as your very best self.

Start Your Wellness Trip!


All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer and Host, BestTrip TV


New Ways to Celebrate the Start of Summer at the "World's Most Photogenic Beach"
A recent survey of the most popular hashtags in travel photo posts in social media wasn’t a scientific study. But it did generate a clear winner of the title “World’s Most Photogenic Beach.”

That honor went to the seven miles of shorelines and sparkling waters of South Florida’s legendary Miami Beach. If it’s been a while since you indulged in the surfside views and epic lifestyle of one of America’s most famous beaches and beach towns, here are some experiences that can give you new ways to enjoy Miami Beach.

And just in time for the unofficial start of the summer season – with family-friendly ideas, too. 

Seaside

Air & Sea Show: Late May’s unique annual event, dubbed “the Greatest Show Above the Earth,” showcases the men, women, technology and equipment in motion from all five branches of the U.S. military, as well as police and emergency responders. Over two days, you’ll get a rush of adrenaline watching offshore powerboat racing exhibitions, extreme water sports, and more – all with sweeping ocean views from the shores of Miami Beach.

Fishing Charters: Find a little adventure of your own through some of Miami Beach’s world-class offshore, deep sea or wreck fishing just off its shores. Experienced anglers and novice fishers just starting to get a taste for man vs. fish challenges will find an active, educational, and customized day – or half-day – at sea.

Luxury Yacht Charters: Maybe you don’t need your day on the water to have a goal like a big catch. Singles, couples, friends and families can all enjoy a day on the water ‘living the life’ on a luxury yacht. Custom charter itineraries can include a tour of the shore’s gorgeous architecture and celebrity home views, an afternoon learning the ropes on how to operate a water vessel, culinary experiences catered by local private chefs and active water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding and jet skiing.
 
Salt Float Bath Therapy: You can even get the benefits of salt water while on land. The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort lets you float your stress away in a weightless saltwater bath that incorporates 800 pounds of healthy bath salts. The experience helps release natural endorphins, relieve muscle pain, calm anxieties and stimulate blood flow. Who doesn’t need some of that? Plus the stellar ocean views poolside while you relax following your salt water spa experience.

 

Open-Air Design 'Museum'


You may already know about Miami Beach’s globally-recognized collection of design genres including art deco, Mediterranean revival, MiMo and the Miami Beach school of architecture. The city keeps adding to its unique design history in its tropical vacation lifestyle.

Signature Lifeguard Stands:
Recently, the reinvented Miami Beach’s signature lifeguard stands by William Lane (pictured, top) have been newly-recognized as iconic landmarks and symbols of the design-centric, urban beach destination.
 
After Hurricane Andrew destroyed several of the lifeguard stands dotting Miami Beach in the 1990’s, the city called upon designer William Lane to create replacements. Almost immediately, the five lifeguard stands, which the designer said were “influenced not only by Miami’s midcentury and art deco architecture but also by its Caribbean culture and the use of vibrant colors derived from the natural beauty of the tropics” became symbols of the community’s renaissance. Decades later, he was asked to revitalize more of Miami Beach’s seven-miles of sand and sea with new, eye-catching lifeguard towers. You won’t want to miss even one.
 
Get more of a design fix at some new or newly-renovated Miami Beach hotel properties, and design tours, too.
 
The Shelbourne South Beach dates back to the 1940's, exuding timeless luxury, elegance and original Art Deco design. As a stylish playground, guests can expect a dose of oceanside glamour with pops of color and interesting angles to enjoy, even from the hotel’s pool and diving platform. 
 
While Miami Beach is known for incredible Art Deco style, Mediterranean Revival is not to be missed. From superstar couture designer Gianni Versace's masterpiece on Ocean Drive to restaurants and storefronts featuring handmade tile and metal intricacies, travelers can get a taste of another of the city’s distinct design flavors during a walking tour curated by The Miami Design Preservation League. It showcases the architecture made popular on Miami Beach in the 1920's and 1930's. 
 
And, no day is complete on Miami Beach without a classic cocktail in stylish surroundings. Design-lovers can check out the new Lapidus Bar at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach. The beachside hotel was built in the 50’s by iconic architect Morris Lapidus, known as the pioneer of Miami Modern style. Evoking the glamorous, Rat-Pack feel of the era, the bar is located in the hotel's lobby and is part of a spectacular $90 million renovation, bringing the design elements of the past together with iconic, Ritz-Carlton five-star service.
 

Start Your Miami Beach Trip!







Better Sleep is the Travel Trend We Need Right Now
Is your New Year’s resolution to get more rest – and travel more? The good news is that there are travel experiences that let you do both. 

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer and Host of BestTrip TV, runs down a few of her favorites.
 

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland – Sleep Retreat

The breathtaking Fogo Island Inn, perched on stilts like the fishing huts on the island on the edge of the North Atlantic ocean, has been rated one of the top luxury lodges in the world.

 
Any trip to the Fogo Island Inn is a retreat into a unique island environment enriched with visiting artists, local artisans and crafters, and centuries-old living off the land and the sea, which curated, hands-on guest experiences bring to life.
 
Don’t take my word for it! WATCH THIS BESTTRIP TV VIDEO OF THE FOGO ISLAND INN. Designer Karen Sealy highlights some of its breathtaking design.
 
The hospitality of the island and the Inn is now legendary. In its 29 unique rooms, beds covered in locally hand-made, colorful quilts face floor-to-ceiling windows onto the sea or the dramatic landscape. Every morning, a wooden box draped with cheerful linens is dropped off at the door of your room, with a carafe of coffee or tea, and a selection of freshly baked treats that inspire you to go right back to bed to enjoy them while gazing out at the view and enjoying the crackling of your room’s wood-burning stove.

 
In addition to an acclaimed dining experience in its restaurant, bar, lounge and Tea Room, the Inn’s Heritage Library, Reading Room, roof-top wood saunas and hot tubs help contribute to a guest’s relaxation and well-being – not to mention the benefits of feeling cut off from the hustle and bustle in this remote edge of the world.
 
What’s more, the Fogo Island Inn is also a community asset, with all of the operating surpluses reinvested into the local community to help secure a sustainable future for Fogo Island.
 
If that doesn’t already make you sleep better, the Inn also hosts a sleep retreat in March 2022. The director of Ryerson University in Toronto’s sleep and depression lab will lead “The Secrets of Sleep” that teaches guests sleep science, including daily workshops, morning yoga, evening meditation, time outdoors in the fresh sea air of the island, and more.
 
 Between the inherently relaxing qualities of a stay at the Inn, and the science-based sleep teachings of the retreat, guests can look forward to restorative sleep during their stay, “and the benefits will endure long after you’ve left our shores,” says the hotel.
 

Rosewood Hotels’ “The Alchemy of Sleep” Retreats

Inspiring guests to improve their state of rest in the New Year, 20 luxury Rosewood Hotels have launched holistic escapes to encourage movement, mindfulness, nutrition and tranquillity leading to more restorative sleep.
 
In addition to the restful features and amenities of their rooms and hotel spas, Alchemy of Sleep is Rosewood’s global collection of new and immersive retreats from January to March 2022, designed to promote rest through sleep-inducing treatments, movement-driven activities and special amenities that create long-lasting benefits to travelers. Dedicated to those setting intentions for profound change in the New Year, the thoughtfully crafted programs support renewal of the body and practices to take home and incorporate into busy, everyday life.
 
Guests can opt for a one-night 'Dreamscape' or extend from two to five nights for a 'Sleep Transformation,' providing an even more immersive stay. As a supplement to these offerings, Curated Sleep Boxes feature products that re-balance such as essential oil blends, tea blends, aromatherapy linen mists and silk eye masks.

Image: Rosewood Hotel Georgia
 
Rosewood's “A Sense of Place” philosophy means the Alchemy of Sleep retreats reflect local wellness customs and embrace the unique natural surroundings. Here are a selection of Alchemy of Sleep programs at hotels and in destinations that inspire:
 
  • In Paris, Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel welcomes guests with an in-room Sleeping Beauty set, featuring all the essentials for ensuring a good night's sleep. Guests continue their stay with personalized messages and centering meditation sessions, concluding the journey with a Sleep Naturopathy consultation to establish long-term patterns for attaining the best sleep possible back home.
  • In St. Barth, the newly-debuted Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth offers an ideal setting for finding serenity. In addition to nutrient-rich dishes and scenic meditation, restorative treatments, such as Healing Sound Bath Therapy, activate the brain waves for a dreamlike state. Each room is enhanced with oil diffusers and mists, silk pillowcases and eye masks, books with sleep tips, as well as access to meditation TV apps.
  • In the British Virgin Islands, Rosewood Little Dix Bay is a tranquil haven that also offers aromatherapy and reflexology treatments releasing tension from the body, supplemented with outdoor activities such as hikes through 'The Baths' National Park. For the deepest possible state of relaxation in full consciousness, guests can partake in Yoga Nindra, also known as 'Yogic Sleep,' offered under the stars just before bedtime.
  • In Mexico's Riviera Maya, Rosewood Mayakoba guests can engage in personal consultations with the resort's wellbeing experts to develop clear actions for improving sleep cycles, while keeping the body moving with Float Fit sessions and Restorative Yoga at the resort's private cenote (natural pool). Guests will also have access to a Sleep Aromatherapy Support Kit featuring a remedy made from a blend of organic oils, as well as a master class on sleep.
  • In California, with the Alchemy of Sleep retreat launch comes the debut of Bryte Sleep Suites at Montecito's Rosewood Miramar Beach and Menlo Park's Rosewood Sand Hill. The suites feature 'The Restorative Bed by Bryte,' which allow for individual heating and cooling personalized to each sleep partner's profile with Circadian Climate technology directly impacting the sleeper's core body temperature. To further reduce stress, guests can choose from a selection of calm-inducing treatments that incorporate ingredients like CBD and lavender, as well as partake in meditations that take advantage of the resorts' breathtaking natural settings and landscaped gardens.
  • Rosewood San Miguel De Allende's retreat hones in on nutrition's impact on the sleep cycle, offering menus specially created by the hotel's Executive Chef Vincent Wallez, who thoughtfully selected soothing ingredients. Throughout the stay, guests will enjoy treatments that encourage deep rest, as well as meditation, yoga and breathing workshops that take advantage of the property's scenic surroundings.
 
Alchemy of Sleep retreats are also available at other Rosewood hotels around the world including Baha Mar, The Bahamas, Phuket, Thailand, London, England, Italy, the Middle East, and other destinations in Asia. 
 

SLEEP by Princess Cruises

Some of my best sleeps ever have been on cruise ships, where the gentle motion lulls you to sleep.
 
Princess Cruises has built on the natural advantages of the rocking motion of ships by consulting with a board-certified sleep expert to optimize staterooms for a sleep-friendly experience via all five of your senses.
 
“SLEEP” is not a specific retreat, but a way of cruising, with added touches for a wonderful, restorative rest on board, from the bedding to wellness treatments at the spa, even SLEEP-friendly evening meals on board. The cruise lines’ sleep expert explains, 'Sleep is a sensory experience. In fact, all five of your senses must be prepared for slumber in order for sleep to come easily and last all night long.'

Images above and top: Princess Cruises

Other resorts, hotels, cruise ships and spas offer enhancements to your sleep practices – from pillow menus to sleep concierges to activities, amenities and therapies. Whatever your travel tastes or needs for better rest, there are practices available at hotels, resorts and ships in dream destinations to help you achieve restorative rest while traveling, and even when you return home.

Ask your expert travel advisor about the perfect, restful travel experience for you.
 

START YOUR (RESTFUL) TRIP!







Celebrate the Festive Season - or Make a Gift of the Holidays at Four Seasons Across North America
There’s only one holiday season, but the luxury lifestyles of one of many Four Seasons hotels or resorts is just around the corner - either a drive or a short-haul flight - from many of us, and our loved ones.

Treating ourselves during the festive season, or giving our loved ones the gift of a recognized luxury travel brand experience in your hometown or at a favorite destination - will help make this holiday special and memorable.

Here are some suggestions to help you get into the Christmas spirit - or capture the holiday magic for your loved ones.

Your expert travel advisor can help you create the perfect luxury travel experience or give the perfect gift, from wellness, culinary, and family festive experiences.


Surround Yourself with Christmas Cheer


Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort gets into the Christmas spirit with a chocolate and gingerbread display created by its award-winning chef. Even a Christmas Grinch can’t help but smile at the charming life-size gingerbread house, with candy canes, lollipops, Santa and more, Plus - it’s the perfect holiday photo backdrop for your social media holiday post. You can enjoy festive treats including holiday gelato flavours such as chocolate peppermint, while the little ones try their hands at cookie decorating.

At Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, the holiday display takes the form of a modern arctic wonderland. A large, mirrored polar bear flanked by custom made flocked trees and poinsettias adorned with snow. The holiday magic extends to the ground floor's reflective Christmas tree and the fifth floor's life-size reindeer, creating a majestic holiday scene and the perfect backdrop for holiday photos.

Make a List, Check it Twice… then get some Help


Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston’s Wellness Floor has curated a holiday gift guide featuring bespoke experiences and products for mindful giving. You can fill your loved ones’ stockings with certificates for a side-by-side couples massage or Cryotherapy Energy facial and gifts such as candles, cashmere loungewear and beautiful Italian leather handbags. Maybe slip one treat in there for yourself for your next visit to Boston, too.

Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC’s Holiday Market is a goldmine of the gifts and culinary works of local artisans as well as the Hotel's craftspeople including their pastry chef’s gourmet hot chocolate bar. And you can shop for your loved ones surrounded by live music entertainment, light and snow displays. You can feel even better about holiday gift giving this seasons as a portion of the proceeds from every sale is donated to Children's National Hospital.

Culinary Christmas - and the Whole Holiday Season


Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel is ringing in the holidays in style. A series of prix fixe menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, along with a New Year's Day Brunch let you leave all the work to the hotel chefs - and you can choose to indulge fully with options like caviar, a seafood platter, and Bloody Mary and bottomless champagne bar. The restaurant, which overlooks the famed Rodeo Drive, will also be offering a special holiday afternoon tea, complete with delicate and elegant Italian desserts by its chef.

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler’s popular Vintage Camper is back for the winter, serving up decadent hot chocolate and cook-your-own s'mores. Guests can enjoy a Tipsy Snowman, the Resort's playful signature hot chocolate, or wind down with a complimentary wine tasting offered every evening featuring a selection of local British Columbia wines.

Hands-on Holiday Experiences



At Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley, a limited-time winter wonderland pop-up reimagines an alpine village. Rustic wooden chalets take center stage, while 'snowfall,' fireside movies, an après-ski menu including s'mores and hot cocktails create an inviting experience on the outdoor terrace. The village includes a sweet shoppe, Instagrammable life-sized snow globe and more.

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina’s #FSWAYFINDERS program is a weekly series featuring art, culture, history, and in-depth workshops that make the holidays in Hawaii come alive. A curated group of artisans and crafters offers intimate and engaging learning opportunities including ukulele lessons, coconut hat weaving, lei making, evening stargazing and hula workshops with all proceeds going to the artisans themselves.

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire keeps the holidays active, with horseback riding across the 500 acres of parkland, the ultimate treetop challenge, a relaxing ride on a traditional horse-drawn carriage or a unique bird-watching experience on a wildlife walk.


Restoring from Stresses of the Holiday Season


Four Seasons Hotel Austin’s The Spa has two festive ways to treat winter-ravaged skin and stressed-out bodies. Picture yourself or a loves one enjoying a Peppermint Facial or a Fire & Ice Massage. Up the ante with an after-hours private booking that allows for full access of the entire spa complete with the hotel’s margarita cart.

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas uses locally sourced materials in its seasonal relaxation treatment. The Cranberry Pomegranate Body Treatment features a wrap, head massage, and full body scrub and leaves you feeling restored for another day of gaming, entertainment, and super-sized shopping of Sin City.

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole is celebrating the winter solstice with restorative yoga and intention setting sessions. Guests can enjoy a complimentary restorative yoga session and wassail, the traditional warming drink you sing about in Christmas carols.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is also commemorating the winter solstice with guided meditation, sound healing and intention setting on the longest night of the year.

#HappyHolidays




Images courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts







5 Top Places to Nama-'Stay' During National Yoga Month
For many of us, September feels more like the ‘New Year’ than when the calendar says it’s January. Time to exhale, regroup, and reset yourself on a fulfilling course for the future, one that includes meeting life and wellness goals.
Maybe that’s why September is National Yoga Month.

The ideal time to practice – or at least plan for - two intersecting life goals: more yoga and more travel.

Here are 5 inspired places to practice yoga on an enriching journey. 
 

Flamingo Yoga at Baha Mar, The Bahamas

Located on the pristine white sands of Cable Beach in Nassau, Baha Mar is a tropical island dreamscape, no matter which of its three beachfront resorts best suits your luxury travel style. Whether you choose to stay in the richly refined Rosewood, the playfully hip SLS, or the stylish and modern Grand Hyatt, stunning views and an epic selection of pools and resort experiences awaits.
 
Flamingo Cay is a unique habitat within Baha Mar, designed to shelter these iconic and vivid tropical waterbirds, to educate guests about flamingos and preserve their population in The Bahamas for future generations. 
 

For guests who practice yoga, there’s also an exceptional experience - Flamingo Yoga (pictured above and top) - where guests can practice their flamingo poses, breathing techniques, and mindfulness with the ultimate yoga experts – the Baha Mar Ambassador Flamingos.

The Yoga Instructor is dedicated to working with the flamingos and is on hand to educate guests and look after the birds. The classes are small and intimate, once-weekly sessions that will embed themselves in your memory as a treasured wellness and travel experience.

 

‘Flo-Yo’ in a ‘Spa Without Walls’, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii



The Fairmont Orchid is uniquely Hawaiian: 32 oceanfront acres with a white sand beach on the black-lava Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island. When you’re not snorkeling with sea turtles in the resort’s private lagoon, napping in a hammock, immersing yourself in Hawaiian cultural activities like storytelling, hula and ukulele, watching the sun rise from a traditional outrigger canoe on the bay… you can rediscover your inner, primal human, surrounded by rushing waterfalls, and greenery, orchids and palms in the resort’s ‘Spa Without Walls.’


Where the indoors is outdoors in paradise, it seems easier to realign mind and body balance immersed in Nature.
 
The resort offers complimentary seaside and sunset yoga, and ‘flo-yo’ or floating yoga on stand-up paddleboards in the quiet waters of the resort’s quiet, private lagoon – a beautiful way to start the day – and a complete core workout where warm ocean breezes and lapping waves set the pace and soothe the spirits.


SUP Yoga at the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver

It may be the essential Vancouver wellness experience. Where stand up paddleboard meets downward dog – in a South Beach-style pool overlooking Vancouver's seawall and mountains.

On a fair summer day in Vancouver, British Columbia, the locals joke it's like 'British California'. And it seems that somehow, every resident and visitor in town is outdoors or on the water.
 
The Liquid Yoga program offered by Just Add Water Yoga at the Westin Bayshore gives hotel guests – and the general public – a unique way to be part of Vancouver’s famed local wellness and open air culture - in the security of a pool as an aquatic yoga studio, rather than the open sea like other SUP yoga.

Photo: BestTrip.TV
Didn't bring workout wear? We love that guests can take advantage of the Run Westin's gear lending program.
 
Liquid Yoga is a terrific way to enjoy the Westin Bayshore's gorgeous, circular pool, and its views of Vancouver's harbor, seawall and mountains.
 

Sun-Rise Yoga at Sea in the Caribbean on Virgin Voyages

Imagine yoga on the deck of a sailing ship at dawn, with the sun peeking over the horizon, the sounds and the sights of the sea all around, and the shifting of the ship in the waves adding just a touch of challenge to your core in holding those poses, greeting the new day filling your lungs with fresh sea air.… take it from me: this is living.


One of the most unique places to do yoga overlooking the infinite sea is Virgin Voyages.

Richard Branson’s cheeky new, ‘breaking-the-mould-of-cruising’ cruise line taps into the celebrity billionaire’s history as a music industry entrepreneur. The newly-launched Virgin Voyages feels a lot like a hip, tropical club at sea, with Branson himself telling me that the tables in suites were designed to be danced on!

The line takes a ‘detox, retox’ approach to the cruise lifestyle, so in addition to a nightclub atmosphere, champagne on demand anywhere on the ship, and the first tattoo parlor at sea, guests on the line’s first ship, the Scarlet Lady will also find their daytime downtime wellness options robust.


It starts with the ‘Aquatic Club’ outdoor pool deck, and continues with such wildly different wellness options as outdoor boxing, to meditation and yes, sun-rise yoga.
 

Yoga On the Top Deck of a European River Cruise on U By Uniworld

Before Virgin Voyages launched a new way of cruising, U By Uniworld reimagined river cruising for ‘Active Travelers’, with distinctive, modern black-hulled river ships and a whole new approach to experiencing the shore and the ship. It’s more of a hipster river cruise, with mixology (bar chefs), overnights in key European cities for clubbing, dance parties on board in a private ship version of a club, top deck ‘camping’, a modern approach to cuisine – and yes, yoga!

After an exciting night, guests are welcome to greet the day with complimentary, morning top-deck yoga sessions, led by the ship’s wellness coach.


Why do yoga on a European river cruise? The views are sure to help with the meditation.

Some of the very best views of favorite European cities are from the rivers that run through them. Without the congestion of other buildings around, you can absorb the breathtaking historic beauty of cities that were built on rivers when they - not roads – were the highways of Europe.

Early morning, top-deck yoga in European cities gives you a unique, over-the-rail perspective on some of the most inspiring cityscapes on the continent, and a way to absorb some of the city’s energy before an active day of exploring walking, hiking, cycling or kayaking through town.  
 

#StartYourTrip


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip TV

Images courtesy of their respective hotels/ cruise lines except where otherwise stated.










6 Reasons Why Travel is the 'Best Medicine'
Are you missing travel?  Evidence tells us that travel benefits us more than getting a fresh tan, new social media posts of us having fun in some exotic location, or even new stories to entertain our friends and family.

When we had the privilege of unrestricted travel, we took for granted all the benefits it brought, including real benefits to our health that research was beginning to reveal.

The old cliché that laughter is the best medicine could really be said of travel. Maybe not quite a magic potion, like the fun image above suggests, but something that explains how our missing travel is not just nostalgia.

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host of BestTrip TV, explains 6 reasons how a return to travel will help our health as well as our enjoyment of life.

Recently, I was the guest expert invited to speak about ‘Travel in the Age of COVID’ on a radio show and podcast called Aging Better in Uncertain Times, and it encouraged me for a couple of reasons.

Not only did the conversation between me, broadcaster Gord Martineau and Dr. Fabio Varlese include valuable information about how to stay healthy while traveling, which you might expect, we also talked about why travel itself is a pursuit that’s good for us.

It inspired me to gather some of the latest information that makes the health ‘case’ for travel. It…

1. Boosts Your Immune System

My farmer grandfather used to say every kid should ‘eat a peck of dirt’ before they were 10 to stay healthy. Granddad was on to something. Research shows being in contact with new bacteria can help develop stronger antibodies, make your gut stronger, and build your body’s resistance to diseases.

Of course you should continue practicing hand hygiene on the road, but studies suggest exposure to new environments help make our bodies adapt and makes us stronger.


2. Increases Our Activity

Working from home likely isn’t doing much to help us achieve our goals to move more. Travel does.
A new environment encourages us to get out and experience it, whether it’s walking the streets of a new city, along the beach of our resort, cycling through vineyards, or even trying a more active or extreme sport. Movement is health, and nothing gets us more active than a new destination.

3. Strengthens Our Hearts

First they told us moderate amounts of wine and chocolate were good for our hearts. You can add travel to that list, too. Life doesn’t get much better than this, does it?

Heart health and travel has been studied in both women and men. Reportedly, women who vacation twice a year are substantially less likely to suffer a heart attack than women who travel only once every few years. Men who skip an annual vacation are at a 20% higher risk of death overall, and that jumps to a 30% higher chance of dying from heart disease.

Another, long-term study revealed that women in their middle years who travel more have less likelihood of having heart problems 20 years later, and the same study found travel also helped with blood pressure.


4. Supports Our Brains

We want our brains firing on all cylinders now… and protected from ailments like dementia in our later years. Happily, travel helps our brains throughout our lives.
 
New experiences, which are the essence of travel, including new scents, sounds and minor challenges like navigating a different town or language, give our brains a workout, and that is good for creativity and mental health in the short term, and the new connections we build in our brain as a result of processing new sensations help reduce the risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s in the long term.
 
Researchers say the more engagement and immersion we have in a new location and culture, the more our brains have to adapt, and the more powerful the brain stimulation results.
 

5. Reduces Stress and Depression

This one is a no-brainer. You can tell – and research agrees – that taking a vacation makes you feel less anxious, better rested, and lifts your overall mood. Studies confirm these effects linger for weeks after our return home, reinforcing how important regular vacations are for our mental well-being. 

One study revealed 90% of people showed significant stress reduction after just the first couple of days of a vacation, along with a more positive outlook on life.

Another showed that women who vacation twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression than those who take a holiday less than once every couple of years.

6. Increases Happiness

I don’t want all this good news about the health benefits of travel to actually depress you, considering we can’t do all the traveling we want right now.

You’ll be happy to hear that even planning a trip provides a direct increase in happiness. Anticipating your vacation, one study shows, is much more powerful than the anticipation of acquiring objects. 

So planning a trip during our pandemic downtime can help us stay cheerful and happy until we can travel again. Crack out the guidebooks along with that wine and chocolate and here's to your good health!
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Top Image courtesy Open Jaw

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


6 Tips for Planning Your Post-COVID Wellness Vacation
This January, two powerful forces for wellness travel converge: yearly New Year's resolutions to become or rediscover our best selves, and this year, the pandemic that's both kept us from traveling, and for many, fostered a lifestyle that may not have kept us at our peak.

In the travel era BC (Before COVID), wellness travel was already one of the most popular, and growing, vacation styles.
Since COVID, the idea of wellness travel has taken on a new dimension – now, ALL travel has a ‘wellness’ element as concerns about staying safe and healthy have already transformed how we travel. 

Wellness travel means many things to many people, from extreme diet or fitness programs, meditation, yoga or other mind and body practice retreats, even a luxury resort with wide-ranging spa treatments that restore and renew and reset us even as we delight in an escape to a beloved destination.

COVID has added to our range of wellness vacations, with interest in programs designed to boost our immunity and elevate our self-care to thrive under the intense pressures of the times. 

And COVID has offered us new ways to approach wellness travel. Work from Home and School at Home have inspired people and families to consider months-long escapes to dream destinations, where they can participate in local activities and resort wellness programs that don’t have to end after a few days, but can become core elements of daily life abroad.

If a wellness retreat or wellness vacation seems like an ideal post-COVID trip for you, here are my top 6 tips for making it a success:

1. Homework:

As in, work with your travel advisor to do yours. It’s really important you find a program that exactly matches what you hope to achieve and how you hope to achieve it. Make sure the program’s goals match your goals, and how they are going to help you achieve them matches how you want to develop yourself – and spend precious vacation time.

And of course, make sure every point of your journey has comprehensive health and safety plans and follows best practices to protect your health – the very foundation of any wellness vacation.

2. Be Open to New:

These times have broken the mold of our daily lives, why not shake it up when it comes to your approach to renewing your mind, body, or spirit? New treatments and ancient therapies are more commonly available and a wellness vacation is an ideal time to try something new as you’re immersed in the charms of a new destination.
  

3. Location:

There are wonderful and interesting health and wellness resorts, retreats, cruises, and spas all over the world, but you should choose a vacation that’s a reward for you in and of itself. Someplace that is a dream for you to travel to, so when your program is getting tough, or your muscles are a little achy, you can interact with your destination and experience that as your reward and boost your spirits to keep up with your wellness program.

4. Check on qualifications:

Verify the qualifications of the wellness practitioners where you’re going, as well as their record of success. You’re putting your health in the hands of people you’ve never met, and almost all fitness or fasting or therapies or treatments come with risks. Make sure you’re in the hands of experts who know what they’re doing and they’ve done it lots of times before.

5. Do your prep work:  

Cold turkey is one approach. But it might be painful. So if there’s prep work you can do to be primed for your wellness program – from starting to cut out sugar, or beginning or increasing your regular fitness or wellness regimen, it can only help you achieve your desired results.

6. Travel with a wellness buddy:

You know you’ll meet great, like-minded people at your wellness retreat, but it’s amazing to have someone with you who you know will be there to support you. It’s not always easy getting to the top of the hill, or maintaining that juice fast, or dealing with overwhelming emotions of a wellness retreat, so it’s nice to know you have someone to lean on and share strengths to achieve the change you’re looking for.

It also means that when you go back home, you have that person who’s had the same experience, and they can help make sure you take all the practices and techniques you’ve learned home with you along with the memories of a travel experience that we’ve all been waiting on for so long.

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV
 
Image: BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Mount Fuji and 3 Other Mountains You Need to Visit in Japan

France has the Eiffel Tower. The U.S. has the Statue of Liberty. But the visual shorthand for Japan is not man-made. It’s Mount Fuji.

The Japanese archipelago is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Chains of volcanic mountain ranges form the spine of the Japanese islands, and mountains have assumed immense cultural and spiritual significance over the millennia.

Nearly every population center is associated with one or more mountains, where forests of bamboo, Japanese cypress or maple, and fields of wild flowers like azaleas have provided the Japanese with the opportunity to commune with nature. 

Japanese culture even has a phrase: ‘shinrin-yoku’, or ‘forest bathing’ to describe the national practice of interacting with natural spaces and enjoying physical and spiritual benefits. It’s almost always associated with mountain terrain.

Fuji-San

And the grand-daddy of them all is Mount Fuji. Other peaks have names like Asama-yama, using the word ‘yama’ meaning mountain (in English we’d say: Mount Asama). But you would never say ‘Fuji-yama’. Fuji is an almost human character in the fabric of Japanese culture, and is given the personal honorific title: Fuji-san.
At 3,776 meters (nearly 12,500 ft), its peak is the highest point in the country. Its form is spectacular in almost-perfect volcanic symmetry, dramatically snow-capped nearly half of the year. And unlike many mountains in Japan, Mount Fuji rises from flat plains and so is perfectly framed to be viewed from several stunning vantage points.
Only 100 km (60 miles) south-west of Tokyo, Mount Fuji acquired national significance when early Tokyo became the capital hundreds of years ago. Poetry was written praising its beauty, which was captured by countless generations of Japanese artists. Mount Fuji became one of the earliest images of Japan to other countries and the West. 
Fuji-san is considered a holy mountain in Japan, and for centuries, people have been making pilgrimages to the summit. 
Hundreds of thousands of Japanese climb Fuji every year, and many visitors to the country join them. There are a number of trails to the summit. They all have 10 stations, and most people start at the 5th station, the last point where vehicles can reach.
You can look at hiking Mount Fuji from a purely active-travel point of view, to say you’ve done it, and to enjoy the experience and the view from the top.
But to make the climb the spiritual experience the Japanese seek, do as most Japanese do, which is make the 7-hour or so climb during the night to be at the summit as the first, pure rays of the sun illuminate the peak. Sun rise is symbolic in Japanese culture (the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’). 
The spiritual approach adds meaning to the historic shrines and teahouses, stone monkey guards at the entrance of the main, Yoshida trail, and the monuments at each historic station on the way up erected by followers of the local, Fuji-ko faith.
 

Mount Asama, Nagano

It’s one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. You can almost always see smoke curling into the air from Mount Asama, in the Northern Japanese Alps in the prefecture that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. 
A bonus of a hike up Mount Asama is that most people start from the chic, forested, summer-retreat town of Karuizawa. Japan’s Imperial Family have their summer home there, and other elite Japanese have followed their lead, making it a stylish vacation destination as well as a cool retreat from sweltering summer heat in nearby Tokyo.
The 4 hour climb to the summit takes you through cool, dense forests in the lower ranges, then above the tree line where the view opens up in a spectacular way. After your hike, an outdoor natural hot springs located at the trailhead is the perfect way to ease any climbing aches away in the fresh mountain air at 2000 meters (6500 feet)!

One of the most unforgettable experiences at Mount Asama is in the wake of its massive, 1783 eruption. In addition to a Buddhist temple in memory of those who perished, the lava field is now a park. It is like a sci-fi movie set, where trails take you through a ‘forest’ of stark and jagged lava formations and superb views of the volcano in the background. The park is memorably named Onioshidashi, ‘The Place Where the Devils Emerged from the Earth’.

Shiretoko Mountains, Hokkaido 

While the southern parts of Japan are tropical, its northern island prefecture, Hokkaido, is more like Russia and Alaska at similar distances above the equator. 
The Shiretoko Mountains are the feature of a National Park known for its unspoiled beauty, variety of wildlife and its drifting sea ice where visitors can take ice walk tours in winter. As sea ice drifts along the peninsula, brave visitors walk along a seeming conveyor belt of ice - with a few polar dips in between!
The park itself is dotted with hot springs. One very special hot spring phenomenon is Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall, a unique cascade of hot water at the river’s head that can only be reached by foot. Visitors wade through warm water that increases in temperature higher up the river. Walking over waterfalls and upstream feels like discovering unexplored, mystical emerald-green terrain, and your final reward is the source of this hot shower called ‘Water of the Gods’ in the local indigenous Ainu language.
 

Mount Aso, Kumamoto 

Japan’s largest active volcano looks downright tame, covered in a smooth rolling layer of green felt. Mount Aso’s 100km (60 mile) caldera is one of the world’s largest, and there are several smaller volcanoes inside.
Like most active Japanese volcanoes, you need to check before you go if you hope to climb. Mount Aso’s peaks are occasionally closed due to volcanic activity. Helicopter tours are a popular way to view the steaming crater. And the nearby Aso Volcano Museum explains the volcano’s activity and its status in Japan as a deity.
A bonus of a trip to the area is the chance to see local Akaushi cattle, prized for their high-quality wagyu (‘Kobe beef’), freely roaming the plains. It’s one of the few places in Japan where you can go horseback riding, along trails that ribbon the picturesque landscape. You might be a little sore after your ride, but no worries, because the volcanic activity means the area has many hot springs Two are inside Mount Aso’s crater itself! 

 

Japanese, like mountain cultures the world over, associate peaks, fresh mountain air, and outdoor activity with purity and good health. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, mountain escapes have a special resonance. A trip to Japan focusing on its revered alpine experiences is a spiritual and wellness journey for the times.


#DreamNowTravelSoon


Mount Fuji images courtesy of JNTO;
Mount Asama image courtesu of JNTO;
Kumiwakka courtesy of JNTO;
Mount Aso image: Tom Vining, Unsplash

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New Wellness Cultural Journeys from Abercrombie & Kent Enrich Mind, Body, Spirit
Run and train like a warrior with the Maasai or hike to a vantage point high above Machu Picchu.

Feed your spirit with inspiration at a home for underprivileged girls in India, or a silent alms ceremony in Luang Prabang, and feed your body with healing, Ayurvedic herbs in India, or fresh local produce at a cooking demonstration on Krabey Island. 

Re-orient your mind through guided meditation with a local teacher at Kuang Si Falls, or learn about the meaning of tribal beading traditions in Kenya.

Now you can take your commitment to your wellbeing and desire for authentic experiences in global cultures to another level. Luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent has debuted wellness-inspired journeys that immerse travelers in the local traditions of some of the world's most influential wellness cultures and practices, and provide uplifting visits to philanthropic projects where tourism directly supports local wellbeing.

Groups are limited to only 18 participants, and the pace is slower, with experiences and travel over 9- 13 days to allow you to stretch your mind, body and spirit, and linger in the deeply personal experiences. You'll stay in wellness-focused deluxe hotels, boutique lodges and luxuriously-appointed camps in one-of-a-kind locations. 


The first A&K wellness cultural journeys depart in Fall 2019, and explore the rich cultural traditions of bucket-list destinations Kenya, India, South-East Asia, and Peru. Imagine how enriched you'll feel after these journeys:

Wellness India: Ancient Traditions & Inspiring Icons
Explore India’s rich spiritual heritage, from the temples dedicated to Shiva and Lord Vishnu to the Taj Mahal. Participate in a guided meditation and bike ride through the countryside in Udaipur. Privately consult with an Ayurvedic doctor during a leisurely stay at Amanbagh. Explore the countryside of Rajasthan visiting local artisans. Visit an A&K Philanthropy-supported residential school for young girls. Spend two nights in the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi, where you stay in a former palace on the banks of the sacred Ganges, and take an evening boat ride to experience the pitru tarpana, a moving ceremony that honors the memory of a loved one.
 
Wellness Southeast Asia: Timeless Rituals of Indochina
You won't have to chose among your favorite Southeast Asian country, as the wellness traditions of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are all part of this journey. Take part in inspirational ceremonies such as a baci ceremony in Luang Prabang and tak bat, a silent food offering to local monks. Witness sunrise at Angkor Wat.  Luxuriate on a private tropical island at the new Six Senses Krabey Island. Enjoy a Khmer cooking class, spa treatment or sunset cruise. Discover the difference that clean water makes during a visit to a remote village, where A&K Philanthropy is building wells.

 
Wellness Kenya: Cultures & Wildlife
Discover tribal traditions and learn about conservation efforts on an active safari in the Masai Mara and Tsavo National Park. Hike through the cloud forests of the lush Chyulu Hills and learn about traditional warrior training from the Maasai, and wonder at game drives and your mythical surroundings during sunrise and sunset yoga. Gain a new perspective on giving back at an A&K Philanthropy-supported school and see how sustainable tourism is providing safe drinking water.
 
Wellness Peru: Spirit of the Incas
From the Sacred Valley and Cusco, discover local traditions in remote mountainside villages and working farms. Learn about a traditional Amazonian medicine, and hand-feed llamas and alpacas. Kayak in a secluded lagoon 12,464 feet above sea level and hike up to a birds-eye view of Machu Picchu. Overnight at the only property located on the ancient Incan site to explore the sanctuary at sunrise. Have your coca-leaf fortune read by a shaman.
 

Start your Trip!

 
 


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

'Glamping' in Laos: Luxury Tented Villas are a Rosewood Resort First

Laos may be one of the last, best-kept secrets in South-East Asia. Now, travelers looking for an immersive vacation in the unspoiled environment, unique culture and French-Laotian heritage of Laos have the perfect ultra-luxury destination: the tented villas of the new concept Rosewood Luang Prabang.

It's Rosewood's second resort in Southeast Asia – and its very first world-wide to feature tented villas.

It's a dream 'glamping' (glamorous-camping) destination. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the heart of Laos, where the mighty Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. It's the ancient capital and current cultural center of Laos; surrounded by misty mountains with waterfalls and pools of water in the forest, countless temples and a lifestyle true to both traditional Laotian and colonial French culture.

The Rosewood Luang Prabang fits right into this idyllic escape. Nestled in untouched forest just outside the city, the resort is harmonized with the terrain, centered around a natural waterfall and river.

Its designer was inspired by the tradition of Laotian hill stations, a French colonial tradition where gracious hosts welcomed travelers to the remote corners of Laos.

Sleep: River, Forest, and Tented Villas

The resort still retains that feel of intimate but luxurious isolation in a dense, tropical forest. 23 accommodations meld into the terrain adjacent to a river or waterfall, or float above the ground amongst the treetop foliage. Some have private swimming pools, oversized balconies and outdoor wooden bathtubs. There are 6 tented villas.

That already makes them one of a kind. But each space also has its own unique design, evoking French-Indochine ambiance and hospitality with original artifacts and antiques of bygone Luang Prabang.

Tented Spa Villas with Traditional and Holistic Wellbeing Programs

Even spa services take place in the other-worldly environment of 3 tented villas in a peaceful corner of the property overlooking the river. All mind and body therapies draw from nature, and guests are guided to select herbs and plants from resort gardens for tailor-made treatments. In addition to Western techniques, nearly lost local healing practices have been resurrected and are provided by a respected local healer using ingredients he forages in the surrounding forest.

The wellness program also offers holistic experiences and retreats.

Dining in a Laotian Forest

Farm to table? How about forest to table. Or fishing boat to table. Dining at the resort reflects the harvest at hand: local farmers, fishermen and foraging, transformed into authentic local cuisine and even dishes influenced by historic Laotian royal court entertainment.

There are two dining venues: Laotian farm-to-table restaurant called The Great House and a relaxing river-view spot with the evocative name The Elephant Bridge Bar for light bites and hand-crafted cocktails with a tropical flair and local botanicals and spices. But reflecting the fluid arrangements of tents, villas and other buildings on the resort by the river and in the forest, guests also have the option of poolside dining, from sunbeds, cozy cabanas or breezy tables on the terrace, even custom-designed meals served at scenic places on the grounds – the ultimate luxury picnic!

Play and Explore

The leafy tropical environment surrounding the Rosewood Luang Prabang is ideal for relaxation and activity on and near the resort. In nearby gardens, you can enjoy classic games of petanque or croquet. A forest-enclosed swimming pool is next to a natural waterfall – not to mention the famous nearby waterfalls and series of natural pools in the forest that are one of Luang Prabang's claims to fame.

In addition, the resort creates customized experiences for guest interested in immersing themselves in local Lao culture: local traditional artisans, ethnic hill-tribes and farming communities, historic mansions, ancient Laotian temples, and lifestyle of the communities along the Mekong river. Adventurous and hands-on travelers can trek through the forest and forage for a meal prepared with those ingredients, take a guided mountain bike tour through remote landscapes, weave textiles or form ceramics, harvest seasonal produce alongside local farmers, or take an elegant Laotian river boat cruise along the Mekong.

Giving Back

Rosewood Luang Prabang is also the site of the first hospitality school in Laos, a philanthropic project providing students with professional hospitality training.

The Rosewood Luang Prabang is not only one of the most truly one-of-a-kind resorts you will ever stay in Asia or the world; it's also on the ground floor of a growing interest in travel to this fascinating and evocative country.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




You may be familiar with treating yourself to a massage, reflexology, or other spa wellness treatments while you're on holiday.  But an Amethyst Crystal Sound Bath?  That's a level of holistic therapy you rarely encounter at any spa, especially at sea.  BestTrip.TV took a 'dip' during our cruise on the Seabourn Quest. 

One-of-a-Kind Wellness: Dr. Andrew Weil's Mindful Living Program on Seabourn

By Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip.TV

If holistic wellness had a 'celebrity', it would be Dr. Andrew Weil.  The pioneer in integrative medicine is a best-selling author and practitioner. Dr. Weil has been pivotal in bringing a new awareness and mainstream practice of Eastern and Western wellness to the North American public.

He has also brought his mind, body, and spirit approach to holistic wellness to Seabourn.  So your cruise can include a journey towards rejuvenation, healthy ageing, and even renewed happiness through Dr. Weil's principles and unique practices and treatments.

The ultra-luxury line wants guests to be uplifted, not just by travel to new horizons, pampered by attentive service and the Seabourn way of life, but also by the opportunity to return from your holiday refreshed and relaxed in every way.  They've partnered with Dr. Weil to bring wellness and a Mindful Living program to the entire Seabourn fleet.  It's the first wellness program of its kind at sea.

Dr. Weil's Mindful Living program at the Spa on Seabourn ships is led by a wellness coach.  This certified yoga and meditation practitioner leads complimentary classes and practices as well as wellness gatherings throughout voyages.

Dr. Weil's teachings guide a comprehensive program.  Meditation sessions provide participants with positive affirmations and mantras you can reflect on throughout the day. Restorative yoga sessions reinforce the mantra introduced in the day's meditations.  Therapeutic yoga sessions also provide guests with various health concerns a practice to help their specific healing needs like back pain, joint pain, headaches, and body alignment. 

The Mindful Living program also recognizes the other ways the practice of yoga empowers you, offering sessions that enhance creativity, mental focus and even happiness.

The daily themes of the Mindful Living program change daily in seven-day cycles, so on a week-long Seabourn cruise, you can be immersed in new mindful living practices daily.

In addition to practices, complimentary program seminars provide guests with more information on the philosophies and background and principles of the program elements and its overall mission.  The goal is to empower you and increase your awareness of the connection between mind, body, environment and wellness.  Healing arts seminars include experts' teachings about issues we can all relate to:

  • Spontaneous Happiness & Spontaneous Healing
  • Anti-inflammatory foods with nutritional guidance from Dr. Andrew Weil's teachings
  • Healthy Aging
  • Learn what happens in both the mind and body during Mindful Meditation

But every person's wellness needs are different. So everyone receives an individual consultation and specialized recommended courses of practice and treatments that go far beyond standard spa fare.  Thai Poultice massages with steamed herbs like Kaffir Lime and Lemon grass, Deeper than Deep Hot Stone Massages, Bamboo massages, Acupuncture, and the Amethyst Crystal Sound Bath featured in the BestTrip.TV video above enhance the Dr. Andrew Weil Mindful Living practices.

One of the best things about participating in the Dr. Andrew Weil Mindful Living program on Seabourn is that, unlike the effects of a massage which can disappear once you return to the stresses of daily life, some of the practices you can learn during the course of a Seabourn voyage, like meditation or breathing exercises, can go home with you, and enrich your life along with memories of your favorite Seabourn moments long after your cruise has come to an end.

Start your Trip!

 

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Seoul'd: There's More to Korea than the Winter Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics remind us how exciting a travel destination Korea is.South Korea has an enviable range of high octane urban, spectacular mountain, beach and countryside destinations, a rich history, culture and cuisine as well as a world-renowned pop culture that rank South Korea among the most unique places in Asia. Visit by land or by cruise ship; the Korean peninsula has several major ports and a long-established maritime lifestyle.

Here's a list of places you'll want to include on a trip to South Korea.

PyeongchangYou may never have heard of Pyeongchang until it was designated host of the 2018 Winter games, but this winter resort area is a natural Winter Olympic host. Its catchy slogan is 'Happy 700 Pyeongchang', referring to the city's 700 meter (2300 foot) elevation in the Taeback mountain region east of the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Photo Credit

As you'd expect, Pyeongchang sees seasonal snow and low enough temperatures to sustain outdoor winter sports. Two resorts in the region attract skiers, boarders as well as off-season mountain hiking. They're the core of the winter games sites, which have also resulted in additional hotel and sports facilities.

Photo Credit

The Olympics brought other advances, too. A new high-speed (250 km/h or 155 mph) train now brings visitors from Seoul in less than an hour and a half. Don't spend all your time on the slopes in Pyeongchang. Take a break for your spiritual wellness at one of the area's notable and historic Buddhist temples.

SeoulSeoul is the 4th most economically powerful city in the world, the hub of its global technology, electronics, and auto industry wealth. Like other large, wealthy Asian cities with extraordinary modernism, high-tech, high-rise Seoul can feel surreal to visitors. The center of K-pop (Korean pop music), entertainment and media, this is a city that never sleeps. (Top Photo Credit)

Photo Credit

Seoul is land-locked and surrounded by mountains. The city was established on the Han river 2000 years ago, and has been Korea's capital for over six centuries. Korea's west-coast port of Incheon is right next door; if your Asia cruise has a call there, you'll be well-positioned to do some 'Seoul searching'.

Photo Credit

Seoul's neighborhoods are landmark destinations in a whirlwind city. Among the skyscrapers, neon, miles of packed arcades and landmark hotels, you'll be immersed in the lifestyle of one of the largest urban centers in the world, Korean style: chic drinks and dinners as well as upscale shopping for local and international brands.

But don't miss the historic and authentic side of Korea in Seoul. Artisan and local craft markets, the Joseon Dynasty palace complexes of traditional architecture, local festivals and religious ceremonies with celebrants in traditional dress are distinctly Korean experiences. The area is home to 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites as well its international design award-winning modern architecture.

Jeju IslandFormed by volcanic eruptions over 2 million years ago, Jeju island is the largest island off the Korean peninsula, 85 km (50 miles) south of the peninsula in the waters between Korea and Japan. Jeju's lava base limited early agriculture and resulted in a unique and pristine ecology that set Jeju apart from anywhere else on earth.

Photo Credit

It also created breathtaking lava formations including one of the biggest lava tubes in the world, nearly 9 km (over 5 miles) long and close to a hundred feet high and wide. Visitors are in awe of the full range of cave architecture like columns, benches, bridges and more. The 7.6 meter (25 foot) column of lava inside is the largest known in the world. The caves are home to exceptional wildlife, including a 30,000 strong colony of bats.

Photo Credit

Jeju is an increasingly popular resort island, with a sub-tropical, humid climate warmer than the rest of Korea and some stunning beaches. The island, historically isolated from the mainland, also has its own cultural, clothing, architectural and language traditions.

BusanSouth Korea’s second biggest city, on the south-east coast of the peninsula, is also the country's largest port. Many Asian cruises call at Busan. Like Seoul, it's a fascinating combination of history and tradition on the one hand, and eye-popping ultra-modern urban lifestyle on the other. Shop til you drop at the world's largest department store, and take a wellness break at one of the city's dozens of traditional spas using natural-sourced spring water.

Photo Credit

Compared to Seoul, Busan is blessed with a warmer climate, beaches, and a maritime lifestyle including a renowned fish market, and signature seafood cuisine. Surrounding mountains provide cool air and magnificent vistas over the sea. Many Korean temples are at the tops of mountain hikes, so don't miss one spectacular exception, the Haedong Yonggung Temple on Busan's coast overlooking the Sea of Japan.

Photo Credit

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)The DMZ is a 4 km (2 ½ mile) wide no man's land between the two Koreas that spans the entire peninsula 250 km (150 miles) from sea to sea. The DMZ is a very real reminder of the conflict between the two Koreas that remains unresolved today.

Photo Credit

Don't let the name mislead you. It's called 'demilitarized', but Korea's DMZ is actually one of the most heavily armed, land-mined, barricaded and patrolled regions of the world. Tours into the DMZ bring the history of the Cold War conflict that split this country into high relief. It also soberly memorializes the lives lost and families separated as a result of the division of the country. Absent human activity in the area, several formerly endangered species have re-established footholds in the DMZ. So there's that small consolation. As an experience of military tourism and reminder of the repercussions of the Cold War that still exist today, Korea's DMZ is unlike anywhere else on the planet.

Photo Credit

The Olympic flame only burns in Korea during the games, but we hope the 2018 Winter Olympics shine a permanent spotlight on South Korea as one of Asia's most unique – and unmissable – travel destinations. Start your Trip! 

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Indulge Your Love for Luxe in the Dominican Republic

All-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata and elsewhere on this lush Caribbean island with 1000 miles of coastline put the Dominican Republic on the map for travelers seeking affordable family and couples vacations from winter weather further north. 

But what you may not know is that you can also find experiences that rival deluxe vacations anywhere in the Caribbean. Save or splurge, here's how to add indulgence to your winter holiday in the islands this year.

Lush Lodging

In the Dominican Republic, you can stay in unmatched accommodations that run the gamut from world-renowned boutique hotels to opulent resorts. Punta Cana in the east in particular is home to luxury properties ideal for intimate romantic travel, families and multi-generation travel, and large wedding, vow renewal, or reunion groups, even business conferences.

In addition to stunning beaches and multiple pools, many of these properties offer whirlpools, saunas, and extended wellness programs as well as traditional spa and aesthetic treatments.  Take sunset yoga, healthy cooking, and fitness programs.

And for complete privacy, book a private villa for a secluded, A-list holiday experience.

Gorgeous Golf, Fantastic Fishing and Prestigious Polo

Dominican Republic is a golfer’s dream, with over two dozen meticulously manicured courses set against the backdrop of the country’s most stunning scenery and shoreline. Pete Dye’s seaside “Teeth of the Dog” (below) at the storied Casa de Campo resort put the Dominican Republic on the world golfer’s map.

 

Here you can play courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Price, and Robert Trent Jones. Sculpted bunkers and uneven terrain but let the natural contours of the land dictate the courses’ routing. Tropical breezes on the coastal courses add another layer of challenge to even the best player's game

Sports fishermen flock to Dominican Republic’s coasts in pursuit of the blue marlin, one of the largest fish in the world. Hit the water for a tournament or on a charter boat excursion to fish blue marlin, white marlins, mahi-mahi, wahoo, swordfish and tuna in the Caribbean Sea; while blue marlin, wahoo and barracudas can be found in the Atlantic waters off the North Coast.

Dominican Republic is part of the international circuit of the 'Sport of Kings', with polo facilities available at some of the country’s most exclusive resorts in La Romana, Punta Cana and Santo Domingo. Hire horses for your own tournaments, or head to a polo match to enjoy the action as a spectator for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience.

Serious Shopping

Fashionistas and shopping enthusiasts will be on cloud nine in Dominican Republic, where it’s easy to find couture clothing, unique handmade crafts and stunning precious jewelry all within close proximity.

But we love local best.  Indigenous amber or glassy blue larimar (above) jewelry makes the perfect souvenir, and a piece of local larimar or amber jewelry will definitely start a conversation when your friends at home see it.

Make sure to take tours of local coffee, rum, cigar or jewelry manufactures for an opportunity to meet Makers, learn about local culture, and pick up authentic souvenirs.

Delicious Dining and Next-Level Nightlife

Did you know the Dominican Republic was named the Gastronomic Culture Capital of the Caribbean?  The island is one of the few in the Caribbean with extensive, diverse and abundant local agriculture.  Ingredients are fresh and inspiring.  Try the fusion cuisine of innovative chefs who have taken classic international recipes and given them a Dominican twist with local ingredients.

After dinner, find a terrace with a view or a club outside your hotel, especially in the capital of Santo Domingo, where international performers and DJ's make frequent appearances and you can dance the night away to local merengue music. Wine cellars and cigar clubs also offer exclusive tastings sure to please both connoisseurs and novice cigar aficionados and sommeliers.

If you're looking for luxury, maybe it's time to re-define your Dominican Republic vacation experience. 

Start your Trip!

 

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Is the Modern Travel Luxury... Sleep?

You can't enjoy life - even luxury travel - if you don't have sleep. That's the premise of the new ship-board wellness program on Celebrity Cruises in conjunction with its spa and wellness partner Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

It's not just about getting your 'beauty sleep' these days. It's about stressful lifestyles and poor sleeping habits that have left many of us chronically exhausted.

That takes the fun out of even the most amazing travel experience or destination.

So what better time than on vacation to not only catch up on some rest and relaxation – but also to experience new sleep treatments that can help you improve your sleep even after your holiday? Especially after your holiday?

Celebrity Cruises and onboard Canyon Ranch SpaClub now offer cruise travelers a curated program for sleep called Mindful Dreams. The program is available fleet-wide beginning the fall of 2017.

The program takes a 360-degree view of sleep and sleep 'hygiene'. There are so many factors that affect a restorative night's sleep. Celebrity's guests can try new treatments, products and sleeping aids, receive nutrition advice on the best culinary choices to aid in sleep, and enjoy expert lectures and special instructional classes promoting a holistic approach to mindful sleep that will benefit you during your cruise… and back at home.

Mindful Dreams got its name from an existing Canyon Ranch SpaClub relaxation treatment. This sleep-encouraging experience incorporates products specifically designed to soothe, alongside a sleep-inducing cultural massage, and meditation techniques. It's a focused treatment to evoke instant tranquility and foster inner wellbeing, calmness and serenity, transporting guests to the perfect getaway state-of-mind. Now that's a holiday!

Additional sleep-enhancing treatments in the program include:

  • Organic lavender and seaweed sugar glow
  • Age-defying restorative facial
  • Lazy days detox seaweed bath

The program features VOYA luxury products. For centuries, it's been known that lavender can contribute to relaxation and sleep. The lavender body care range, Tranquility, incorporated in many of the Mindful Dreams treatments, helps to ease the stresses of everyday life, leading to a feeling of relaxation and peace. All ingredients are organic and sustainably harvested on the western coast of Ireland.

More and more travelers are planning holidays with self-improvement – especially wellness goals – in mind. We love Mindful Dreams' focus on providing Celebrity's guests with relaxation and sleep during your sailing… and especially a lifetime of wellness habits and techniques for mindfully improving your sleep in your daily routine once your cruise is over.

Your whole life and life outlook feels better with a good night's sleep. What better gift to give yourself with a gift of travel than a whole new approach to restorative sleep?

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Where's the Coolest Place to do Yoga in Vancouver?

It's where stand up paddleboard meets downward dog – in a South Beach-style pool overlooking Vancouver's seawall and mountains.

The latest trend in West Coast wellness lifestyle, the stand up paddleboard (SUP), is well established in Vancouver. And yoga? Well that's a no-brainer.

But it took local SUP pioneer and yoga instructor Kristy Wright Schell to bring the two together and introduce them to Vancouver. And the Westin Bayshore's programming team to take notice and make Kristy's 'Liquid Yoga' part of the hotel's pool lifestyle.

The stunning hotel pool gives participants an opportunity to practice yoga in the open sea air, embracing the quintessential experience of Vancouver's West Coast lifestyle but in the security of a pool as an aquatic yoga studio, rather than the open sea like SUP yoga.

We tried it and we think it's inspired.

On a fair summer day in Vancouver, British Columbia, the locals joke it's like 'British California'. And it seems that somehow, every resident and visitor in town is outdoors or on the water.

This program gives hotel guests – and the general public – a unique way to be part of the local wellness and outdoor culture, even if you're in town, like we were, with a packed business schedule.

Liquid Yoga sessions take place in the morning, while the pool is still quiet. Kristy, who's the Owner/Founder of Just Add Water Yoga Ltd and Standup Paddle Vancouver, discovered made-in-Canada Aquamats (Kristy's on the center mat below). She and the Westin Bayshore team decided on six, so every session is intimate and there is plenty of space around each mat in the pool.

Photos: Above, Westin Bayshore; Top, BestTrip.TV

Unlike yoga on SUP's, Aquamats have squared corners and are stable left to right, but, here's the 'twist', they do tend to rotate.

Getting wet can be intentional… or accidental. Participants either mount pool-side dry, or have the option to swim to their mats, and some of the poses involve options to dip in the water, or even dismount and remount, adding that challenge and direct interaction with water. Kristy says about 1 in the 6 students every session will end up in the drink without meaning to. Luckily the pool is warm!

For Liquid Yoga, Kristy uses a lot of Vinyasa 'flow' - the water environment lends itself quite literally to a fluid practice, where participants need to bridge the gap between effort and surrender to stay balanced on the mat in the water.

As a result, you gain a new awareness of your body in the pose, and new awareness of your yoga practice. Control freaks usually intent on the perfect pose will find they need to let go a little and relax in response to the elasticity of the water. While yoga slackers will need to bring more consciousness to their practice to literally 'stay afloat'.

Even though Kristy keeps to relatively simple poses. A class that done on the floor in a studio would be quite basic takes on a new challenge in the water, requiring you constantly engage tiny core muscles for balance.

But in case you were thinking it all sounds very serious… it's not. Let's face it: we are primed for pools as places to play, and Liquid Yoga brings a playfulness to yoga practice too. We almost wanted to fall in!

It's like taking a 'mini yoga retreat' completely outside a usual yoga environment that reconnects and reinvigorates your yoga practice.

We recommend wearing your bathing suit under layers of yoga or workout wear that will wick water away from you in the open air. Didn't bring workout wear? We love that guests can take advantage of the Run Westin's gear lending program.

Classes fill up, so we recommend advanced booking through the hotel concierge or Kristy's web site. The sessions are open to both hotel guests and the general public.

There are two morning sessions of Liquid Yoga at the Westin Bayshore 6 days a week (except Mondays) from May- September whenever the pool is open. They are considering moving it to the indoor pool once the outdoor pool closes.

Liquid Yoga is a terrific way to enjoy the Westin Bayshore's gorgeous, 'make an entrance' circular pool, with its new South Beach style cabanas and indoor/outdoor terrace restaurant. But it's also an inspired addition to Westin's wellness cuisine and activity programming, with a uniquely Vancouver spirit, enhanced by the Westin Bayshore's incomparable views of Vancouver's harbor, seawall and mountains.

By: BestTrip.TV's Lynn Elmhirst with Ryan McElroy

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

A New Place for the Best Views of Old Havana

The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana has opened in Havana. It's the Cuban capital's first five-star luxury hotel, located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Havana. And it is the first foray into the Americas for Europe's oldest luxury hotel group Kempinski.

The hotel is a revival of an historic six-story colonnaded building begun in the late 1800's. It lived through various incarnations as Cuba's first European-style department store, a silent film theater, and later, government offices, slowly decaying like much of the historic architecture in isolated Cuba. Its re-imagination as a luxury hotel brings the Manzana building back to its glory days… and then some.

Now as a 246-room urban lifestyle hotel, the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, with its whitewashed façade, is again a landmark and beacon of style in Old Havana. A cool, pale color palette, with vivid tropical hits of pinks, teals and purples, cements its design hotel credentials.

Rooms all have ceilings 4-6.5 meters ( 13-20 feet) in height, contemporary furnishings and many have large French doors/windows perfect for admiring the patio and city views. Worth mentioning is the air conditioning and wi-fi, which, along with truly luxury levels of service, you can't take for granted in the up-and-coming tourism destination of Cuba.

A 100 square meter (10,000 square foot) spa by Resense, and a business center round out amenities that include six bars and restaurants covering every whim of entertaining around the clock.

When in Cuba, as they say… so of course there had to be a cigar lounge. You are guided through a Cuban cigar experience by a cigar sommelier who also suggests a perfect beverage pairing – with Cuban rum, naturally.

And the spectacular roof top bar is the best place in the city for incomparable scenic vistas day or night over Old Havana’s Parque Central, and El Capitolio (a replica of the U.S. Capitol). The panoramic rooftop views are icing on the cake of this hotel that is at once majestic, high-style, and fun.

The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana has reclaimed the building's position as a hub in the centre of the Old Havana. As Cuba continues its upward trajectory towards full-fledged modern tourism, it provides an international urban lifestyle hotel experience for that luxury group of travelers, visitors to its bars, restaurants and spa. It also sets a high bar for new arrivals on the luxury travel scene in Cuba's capital.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Costa Maya is world famous for ancient Mayan ruins, but traditional culture is still alive for visitors looking for authentic experiences.

We met a local shaman who practices the spiritual beliefs of Mexico's ancient, indigenous peoples. On this shore excursion from our Carnival cruise, he shares with us the spiritual and wellness traditions of his ancestors, including a sweat lodge ceremony followed by a dip in sacred waters.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Go Coastal! 5 Beaches you Can't Miss in Maine this Summer

Summer in Maine defines coastal living. Wood-siding summer homes in nautical colors along miles of beaches begging for you to stroll and dig your toes in the sand, examine shells and driftwood, inhale the cool Atlantic breezes, walk the dog among sandy dunes, and of course, enjoy the sea.

Maine is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the US, and by mid-summer, they've warmed up enough to beckon swimmers off the sand and into the waves. Here are five beaches you just can't miss on a trip to New England.

1. Old Orchard Beach.

Start with this seven-mile strand that has been welcoming visitors for over 170 years. It has the only beachfront amusement park in New England. You can even reach Old Orchard Beach aboard the Amtrak Downeaster, which stops just steps away from the beach. The 500-foot classic pier is a powerhouse of family entertainment with shopping, arcades, dining, nightlife and concerts and even fireworks!

Photo credit

It's also the point of departure for fishing, whale watching, and birdwatching tours.

2. Scarborough Beach State Park

For those seeking a little more tranquility, Scarborough Beach State Park has waves that attract local surfers and a wide beach that's ideal for families. Scarborough Beach offers some of the best swimming in New England with water temps in the high 60's through out July and August.

Photo credit

It's also the nesting grounds of endangered Piping Plovers; visitors help protect them by following bans on dogs, bikes and kite flying April through November.

3. Ogunquit Beach

This beach (pictured top) is ranked among the top beaches in the United States, great for swimming, bodysurfing, and searching for shells and driftwood. It's a 3 ½ mile peninsula of sandy beach and grassy dunes; a natural barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ogunquit River. (There's a footbridge across the river at the midsection of the beach).

You can rent chairs, umbrellas and floats, launch a small boat at the boat ramp, and stroll along Marginal Way, a mile-long cliff walk that extends along the ocean, and pass Marginal Way Lighthouse en route.

4. Goose Rocks Beach

The picturesquely-named beach at Kennebunkport is a wide beach with three miles of soft sand and moderate surf. A barrier reef offshore known as Goose Rocks, visible at low tide, helps protect the soft, white sands of the beach.

This is a perfect spot for you to spread out the beach blankets, chairs and umbrellas for a fun day of sunbathing, relaxing, swimming and combing the shore for sand dollars. An ideal relaxed family day at the beach.

Photo credit

5. Popham Beach

Finally, Popham Beach is a wilder beach in Midcoast Maine. It's part of Popham Beach State Park, one of Maine's rare geologic landforms. The Kennebec and Morse rivers border each end of the long stretch of sandy beach. From the beach, you can see offshore islands, such as Fox and Wood Islands, where you can explore at low tide. You can even get a geologic tour of the beach.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Canada's Top Travel Treasures

You don't always have to go somewhere exotic and far away for the best outdoor travel experiences.

Here is our curated collection of Canada's National Parks and Historic Sites - plus nearby experiences - that might help inspire you to include the 'true North, strong and free' in your travel plans this year:


L'Anse aux Meadows - Newfoundland & Labrador

In a clever line on the Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism web site, 'even the Vikings came here to get away'.

If you thought Columbus was the first European to reach the Americas, think again. L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland contains archeological evidence of a Viking settlement dating back to around the year 1000 – hundreds of years before Columbus and his first 1492 expedition.

Sod and wood buildings were found, with artifacts that showed the residents involved in smithing iron, knitting, weaving, and carpentry for boat building or repair. It's believed dozens of Viking men and women resided here, but harsh conditions made it unsustainable and the site was abandoned.

Photo credit

While you're in Newfoundland, don't miss…Cape Spear. The rocky cliffs jutting over the North Atlantic waters make Cape Spear feel like the edge of the world – and it nearly is. This is the eastern-most point of North America. Standing on Cape Spear, you are closer to London, England than you are to Vancouver on the other side of the continent!

Photo credit

Old Town Lunenburg - Nova Scotia

From the harbor, the almost cartoon-bright painted houses look like an artist's interpretation of an historic town. But it's real. The town is both National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's considered the best surviving British colonial town on the continent, with its 18th century planned, gridiron streets, unique shops, restaurants in preserved buildings leading away from the harbor that was the focal point of rich a fishing and shipbuilding economy.

Photo credit

You can still see majestic and romantic tall ships moored on the town's waterfront, and hear the stories. Especially about the fabled Bluenose. This is the homeport of the Bluenose II, the replica of the original local fishing boat that was undefeated in 18 years as a racing schooner.

While you're in Nova Scotia, don't miss: The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. It's a week-long event held every summer in Halifax celebrating Nova Scotia's Scottish and military traditions. It began to mark the visit of the Queen Mother to Nova Scotia for the first International Gathering of the Clans with bagpipes, highland dancers and military traditions. Hundreds of Canadian and international military and civilian performers makes it the world's largest annual indoor show; granted Royal status by the Queen.

Bay of Fundy National Park - New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

The Bay of Fundy is the site of a record-breaking marine phenomenon, part of the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve, and a Dark-Sky Reserve. The tides in the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world – as high as a 5-storey building! Local Mi'kmaq folklore attributed the dramatic tides to a giant whale splashing; it's actually a result of the bay's particular shape. The twice-daily tides see a flow of 115 billion tonnes of water flowing in and out of the bay.

You'll also want to experience local dinosaur fossil finds exposed by the extreme tides, hiking, sea kayaking, tidal rafting, and whale watching, including the rare right whale.

Photo credit

While you're in New Brunswick, don't miss…Confederation Bridge, part of the Trans Canada highway, connecting mainland New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island since 1997. You'll be driving 13 km across the largest bridge in the world that crosses ice- covered waters.

Photo credit

Prince Edward Island National Park and Green Gables

Canada's smallest province has one of its most beloved sites. 60 km (37 miles) of Prince Edward Island's signature red rock and sand shoreline. Seven swimming beaches, hiking and cycling trails, and camping grounds join protected white sand dunes, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, and nesting areas for endangered coastal wildlife.

Photo credit

While you're there, don't miss... Green Gables, the house that was the childhood inspiration for the internationally beloved Anne of Green Gables stories by local author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Photo credit

Quebec City - Quebec

Many people say walking through Old Quebec is like a visit to Europe without the jet lag. The only walled city in North America and the oldest city north of Mexico, the historic district of Quebec City, dating from 1608, is a National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, first city in North America to receive designation.

Photo credit

Although the magnificent hotel Chateau Frontenac dominates the skyline, perched in Upper Town's 100 meter high cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence, it is a mere hundred or so years old compared with Upper and Lower Towns' 17th century walls, fortifications, Citadel, winding cobbled streets with shops, restaurants, Plains of Abraham.

While you're in Quebec City, don't miss… The Winter Carnival, one of the biggest in the world, and all the more dramatic in snow covered historic streets. There are masquerade balls in the grand ballroom of the Chateau Frontenac, an Ice Palace, snow sculpture parks, a bikini snow bath, day and night parades led by 'Bonhomme' de Neige ('snowman') the ambassador and mascot of the festivities with his red cap and early voyageur knit belt. And plenty of French joie de vivre.

Photo credit

Rideau Canal - Ontario

This feat of incredible engineering in the early 1800's began with military intent, but nowadays has become a top recreational boating destination. Following the war of 1812 with the United States, British military engineers came up with plans to forge a vital water route for over 200 km (126 miles) from Kingston on Lake Ontario north to Ottawa. Workers labored to carve the waterway through dense wilderness and solid rock of the Canadian Shield. They also built 45 locks to take vessels up and down elevations in the terrain along the way through rivers, lakes and man-made canal.

The Rideau Canal is a glorious boat trip through pastoral plains, cottage communities and remote, sheer rock cliffs all the way to downtown Ottawa and past Canada's majestic Parliament Buildings.

Photo credit

Don't miss… Boating the length of the canal in the summer months, taking a canoe tour of the Ottawa portion of the canal, or skating on it in the winter. In downtown Ottawa, in the shadow of historic hotel Chateau Laurier and Canada's Parliament buildings, 8 km of the canal becomes the world's longest skating rink every winter.

Wapusk National Park - Manitoba

It's over a 2 hour flight or two days by train from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba, the gateway to Wapusk. For anyone who makes the trip in mid winter, it's worth it to reach one of the last places in the world to see tiny polar bear cubs getting their start in the world.

Photo credit

Wapusk means 'White Bear', and this part of Canada is known the world over as the polar bear capital. Nearly three million acres of the park are the seasonal home of a thousand polar bears returning from summer roaming through the tundra back to new Arctic ice, joined by moose, wolves, foxes, and herd of thousands of caribou. Polar bears are gorgeous but dangerous; access to the park is only through licensed operators of guided trips to this famous refuge.

While you're in Manitoba, don't miss…Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opening in 2014 to national and international attention, the museum is architecturally compelling, with geometry and colors based on images of the Canadian landscape. It's also intellectually challenging, highlighting personal stories and stimulating debate about how to define its subject matter.

Photo credit

Wood Buffalo National Park - Alberta and Northwest Territories

The largest of Canada's National Park straddles both Alberta and the Northwest Territories for nearly 45,000 acres – it's bigger than Switzerland! It needs to be that large – it provides enough territory in its muskeg and tundra for the long term preservation of the world's largest herd of free roaming Bison.

Photo credit

The park is also a UNESCO world heritage site and the world's largest Dark-Sky Preserve. And in spite of its remote location, the park can be reached and visited by car.

Banff National Park – Alberta

Canada's first National Park dates back to 1885, and scenes of the turquoise waters of Lake Louise surrounded by a distinctly Canadian alpine landscape have been famously depicted on postcards sent around the world ever since. Snow topped mountains, glaciers and icefields, the western resort town of Banff, endless all-season outdoor activities and the hot springs that started in all keep visitors coming back to this park in the Rocky Mountains year round. The breathtaking Icefields Parkway connects Lake Louise to Jasper National Park further north.

Photo credit

While you're in Banff, don't miss… a cocktail at the Banff Springs Hotel in the lounge with picture windows over Lake Louise. The view really does make a perfect custom cocktail taste even better!

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site - British Columbia

Spearheaded by the Haida Nation to stop logging on their historic lands, Gwaii Haanas now protects an archipelago of 138 (formerly Queen Charlotte) islands off the coast of British Columbia. It totals 5000 square km of land and sea – one of the only places in the world protected from the depths of the ocean in deep fjords to rugged mountain tops. 90% of the land is forest, with mountains draining into dozens of freshwater lakes and salmon-spawning streams. The seas are a 'primary feeding habitat' of humpback whales; Gwaii Haanas is remote and only accessible by boat, sea kayak, or floatplane.

Photo credit

While you're in British Columbia, don't miss… Victoria Harbour, one of the most picturesque harbors in the country. Originally used by First Nations, the harbor now bustles with recreational vessels and small cruise ships, mooring in the center of this scenic heritage city famous for its continuing British tone. Historic buildings frame the lively waterfront and line the walkable streets. The harbor is the epicenter of thriving eco-tourism and whale watching tour activities.

Photo credit

Start your Trip!

Video: Fogo Island Inn: Daring Design meets Ancient Fishing Community

In colorful Newfoundland turn of phrase, you might say that Fogo Island is far away from far away. The island is remote; only accessible by ferries and helicopter flights that defy dramatic weather and waves to drop visitors on a a rocky outpost in the North Atlantic that until recently was a centuries-old, declining fishing community. This is not where you might expect to find a hotel that has won world-wide acclaim for its architecture, experience, social responsibility, and design.

Designer Karen Sealy and BestTrip.TV visited the extraordinary Fogo Island Inn to see what happens when local maritime craftsmanship meets 21st century global design.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Vancouver may be Canada's most famously 'outdoorsy' major city. Even in a city that drives Canada's vast Asia-Pacific business, athletic wear is more common than pinstripes! Nature thrives right on the city's doorstep: a gorgeous, picturesque harbor and bay, snow-capped mountains surrounding the city, and breathtaking Stanley Park, one of the world's top urban green spaces. For vacationers and cruise travelers in Vancouver, outdoor activities top the list of things to do. Even if you're traveling to Vancouver on business, if you don't take the opportunity to get outdoors, you've missed essential Vancouver.

Luckily, it's not only one of the most enticing big cities to be outdoors, it's easy to get outdoors and get active on a trip to Vancouver.

BestTrip.TV's Ryan McElroy 'test drives' Vancouver luxury harborfront hotel Westin Bayshore's active travel program. With cycling, run concierge, superfoods, yoga, and fitness equipment loan programs, Ryan discovers there is no excuse to miss enjoying the great Vancouver outdoors.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Bicycle's Big Birthday

This month marks a big milestone for the bicycle. We've had two hundred years of two-wheeled travel.

On June 12, 1817, German inventor Karl von Drais took a little ride on his new invention, the 'Laufsmaschine'. His first reported trip, from a castle courtyard in Mannheim to a coaching inn 5 miles away on Baden's best road, took a little over an hour – and changed travel forever.

Reproducing Karl von Drais' First Ride. Image courtesy of City of Mannheim

Von Drais' 'Laufsmaschine' was heavy, awkward, had no pedals, and riders moved it with uncomfortable running/ skating motions of their feet. Laufsmaschine even means 'running machine'.

This does not look fun to ride. (Photo credit)

Travel Game Changer

But it was the start of something that literally moved the world. The patent that Drais filed in 1817 for the earliest form of the bicycle fulfilled the saying 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention'. A volcanic eruption in Asia in 1815 had sent so much ash into the skies that the following year the sun in Europe was blocked, causing crops to fail, and widespread famine. People were forced to slaughter their oxen and horses to feed their families, leaving them with no form of transportation.

In this sad scenario, the earliest form of the bicycle was a game changer. For the first time, humans were their own form of faster-than-walking propulsion. It was the first form of land transportation without using an animal, and set the stage for all future mechanized personal transportation. It not only increased the speed at which humans could travel on their own, it was even faster than available transportation! Drais' first, 5-mile, one-hour trip in Mannheim was twice as fast as it would have taken a traditional horse-drawn coach.

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Happily, Drais' invention evolved through the 19th century and the bicycle spread from Germany across Europe and overseas. There were some bumps along the way – literally. Terrible rutted dirt and cobbled roads sent early cyclists onto crowded sidewalks (a controversy that continues today), endangering pedestrians. That resulted in bans of bicycles in its birthplace, Germany, as well as Great Britain, the US, and even cities in India!

Hard to imagine, when today, the bicycle has become such a fundamental part of the local culture and lifestyles of people around the world. The bicycle is the answer to the need for inexpensive, effective transportation in some of the most fascinating, densely populated cities in Asia, where seas of bicycles have become the very image of local lifestyle. And Northern Europe's health and eco-friendly culture is symbolized by city bikes.

The Netherlands has more bicycles than people! Photo: BestTrip.TV

More and more travelers are also choosing to experience destinations by bicycle. The relaxed pace, off-the-beaten track, and health features of cycling journeys answer the call for active, authentic travel experiences.

Cycling tour of Peterborough & the Kawarthas, Canada. Photo: BestTrip.TV

And innovations like E-bikes and power-generating bicycles will keep Karl von Drais' invention moving us into the future.

Celebrating 200 Years of Bicycles

Mannheim and the region have a year-long calendar of activities commemorating the bicycle's birthday, with concerts, exhibitions, bicycle tours, shows and much more. Visit Mannheim's Technoseum for a special exhibition, "2 Wheels - 200 Years," which brings to life the technical development of the bicycle since Karl Drais, to the present cycling culture and the future role of the bicycle in cities. (Top image courtesy Technoseum).

Courtesy City of Mannheim

Courtesy City of Mannheim

And get outdoors and bike! SouthWest Germany is a bicycle rider's paradise, with hundreds of bike routes that pass through beautiful landscapes, from vineyards to castles and the Black Forest to Lake Constance. The ADFC (German Bicycle Club) notes and rates cycling routes; don't miss the region's five-star "Liebliches Taubertal - der Klassiker". The route is one of the oldest in Germany and travels by castles, monasteries and fortresses for 100 beautiful kilometers.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sometimes we think that the best travel experiences can only be found in distant, exotic destinations. And they're waiting for you right in your back yard.

Kieran Andrews of Wild Rock Outfitters leads cycling tours in some of the most famous and storied locations in the world. But when BestTrip.TV's Ryan McElroy asked him about one of his favorite places to cycle, it was at home in Canada in Peterborough & the Kawarthas.

In this BestTrip.TV video, Kieran takes Ryan in a two-day cycling journey across rolling hills and scenic vistas to waterfront in cottage country. Ryan gets an insider's introduction to local cycling community favorite trails, views and 'energy stops' (that is, fabulous restaurants!) as well as its network of passionate, connected cyclists.

Start your Trip!

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.