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Dear ActiveTravels Members,
We are excited to present to you our roundup of the latest and greatest hotels, resorts, cruises, adventures and restaurants for the coming year. All of Steve's picks will be opening up throughout the year so let us know if you want us to get you there first!
Enjoy this newsletter and feel free to send us an email or give us a call at (617) 614-9877 and inform us about your travel wishes for the year ahead. If you are overwhelmed with all the choices, we're happy to help. We love brainstorming with you to make sure we find the perfect getaway to soothe your soul, spark some inspiration, or just get your ya-ya's out!
Have a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Traveled 2019!
Steve & Lisa
The Best of Travel 2019:
We look forward to bringing you the January newsletter each year because it gives us a chance to discover what's new in the world of travel. If it wows us, then it passes the test and we're excited to share it with you. Without further ado...
New Hotels You Won't Want to Miss
The high-end gym chain which operates nearly 80
clubs in cities around the country will launch its hotel brand this summer at Hudson Yards, the multifaceted residential, retail, and commercial development along the Hudson River. The Equinox Hotel will include the largest gym Equinox has ever built, 60,000 square feet, with indoor and outdoor space and pools. We've
come a long way from the hotel gym being located
in the basement next to the broom closet.
The Florida Keys
The Key's first five-star property post-Hurricane Irma will open in March in Marathon, less than a 5-minute drive
from the Tranquility Bay resort. The family-friendly beachfront hotel has nearly a mile of private sand, a
spa, four restaurants and bars, five swimming pools,
and Atlantic views from all 199 of the rooms & suites.
Downtown LA is going through a resurgence and the arrival of the new NoMad is only further proof of its comeback. Arriving later this month, NoMad Los
Angeles is taking over Giannini Place, a building
originally built in the 1920s that served as the Bank of Italy's headquarters. Aspects of its Neoclassical construction have been preserved and the hotel's
241 rooms will pull inspiration from the carefully restored gold and blue Italianate lobby ceiling. The food and beverage program will be overseen by chef Daniel Humm of New York's Eleven Madison Park acclaim and will include an Italy-inspired café. But the rooftop, with
its al fresco dining space, cocktail bar, & pool, will be the place to spend most of your time.
near Park City, Utah
If you're yearning for that quintessential ranch
experience for the family, look no further than this new Auberge property set to debut in May on the outskirts
of Park City. The 3,500-acre ranch in the Wasatch Mountain Range will feature trekking on horseback, rounding up the cattle, fly-fishing, hiking,
and biking. Afterwards you'll enjoy a deep-tissue massage at the spa or a spot of whiskey from Park
City's own High West Distillery.
Dominica is one of my favorite Caribbean getaways, a lush island better known for its hiking than beaches. So
I was surprised when I first heard that the Kempinski
group is building their first Caribbean outpost on Dominica. Opening in late 2019, the Cabrits will be located outside Portsmouth on the northern tip of the island and will have 160 rooms, and a spa. The resort
will be surrounded by the Cabrits National Park, home
to numerous rivers, waterfalls and hot springs.
The geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, very close to the international airport, is one of the top attractions in Iceland. But the crowds can be overwhelming to some travelers. Come this April, The Retreat will open next to this landmark alongside its own mineral-rich lagoon, providing guests with a more private experience than its public counterpart. The hotel will have 62 luxurious suites with floor-to-ceiling windows and either a balcony or patio, but the most coveted rooms will be on the first floor that have direct access
to the steamy waters. A subterranean spa will further enhance relaxation.
Nestled in the heart of London between luxurious Knightsbridge and artistic Chelsea, there's an exciting hotel opening on Sloane Street. Step out the door of this hotel, once home to Oscar Wilde and where he was arrested for simply being gay, and check out the Saatchi Gallery, a contemporary art gallery with eye-popping art works. You'll find the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of London's oldest botanical gardens, nearby as well.
For those of you who already love the J.K. Place properties in Florence and Rome and Capri, J.K. Place plans to venture outside Italy this spring. On the shores of the Seine, opposite Boulevard Saint Germain, expect a French twist (furniture found at flea markets around the country). J.K. Place Paris will offer 30 rooms, an indoor pool, Sisley Spa and a restaurant.
Just 30 minutes from the international airport and 30 minutes from the Plaka in Athens, this will be a game changer when it opens in March. Who wouldn't want to spend the morning at the Parthenon and the afternoon on the beach, on the end of a pine-studded peninsula in Vouliagmeni? Located in the former Astir Palace, two luxury buildings will feature 222 rooms and 42 suites, in addition to 58 standalone bungalows. There will also be eight restaurants, including a branch of Nobu, and requisite spa.
Already delayed from its original announcement of a November 2018 opening date, you can expect a true oasis in the desert once the latest Six Senses finally makes its debut. The resort is located in the Arava Valley, just south of the Negev Desert and around a 45-minute drive from Eilat. Better yet, it's only an hour from Petra and makes for a great stopover before or after a visit. The resort will feature 60 suites, a fantastic spa, indoor and outdoor lap pool, yoga studio, and locally sourced food.
Launching in its home city of Hong Kong, the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will make a splash when it opens in March. Situated within the Victoria Dockside arts, design and retail district, the 413-room hotel will occupy 27 floors of a multi-use tower, set to become another landmark on the skyline. There will be eight restaurants and lounges, plus recreational facilities including Asaya, Rosewood's holistic wellness concept, and a fitness center and swimming pool.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Having stayed at the ultra-sybaritic La Residence in the wine country outside Cape Town and booked many a happy client at the Royal Malewane, we're big fans of The Royal Portfolio Brand in South Africa. On May 1st comes The Farmstead, set 10 minutes down the road from the Royal Malewane. This rustic retreat overlooks the canopies of Kruger National Park and a wildlife-rich watering hole. Choose from three "Luxury Farm Suites" or "The Farmhouse," which can be booked exclusively for 14 lucky guests. There's a spa treatment room, gym, plus service and food that lives up to the Royal Portfolio Brand's reputation.
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
Just over the border from the better-known Atacama Desert in Chile, the Uyuni Salt Flats is quickly being discovered. After talking to clients who just spent 4 months in South America on a year-long sabbatical and raved about Bolivia, we expect this country to be just as popular as neighboring Peru in the coming years. Kachi Lodge will feature 6 domed tents with private bathrooms and comfy bedding when it opens next month. The perfect place to glamp under the fantastic night sky.
New Cruise Ships Making Waves in 2019
Adventure Canada says their trips bring a destination to life. Amy can assure you this after traveling with the company aboard the Ocean Endeavor on their circumnavigation of Newfoundland this past October.
Adventure Canada's staff for the trip included a dozen Newfoundland natives: musicians, singers, artists, authors, whale experts, historians, archaeologists, geologists, photographers, park rangers, and chefs. For example, musician Alan Doyle accompanied the cruise, and what a treat it was. His music every day and night kept Amy and the other passengers smiling. Consider joining Amy aboard the same vessel for the
Heart of the Arctic Expedition Cruise
in the summer of 2020.
You'll see the province of Nunavut, Baffin Island (Cape Dorset is very important to the Inuit art market), Nunavik (the Inuit homeland in Northern Quebec), Ungava Bay, and Greenland (including Nuuk, the capital). There's a 10% savings if you book before January 19th.
Hurtigruten cruises run year-round in Norway. One of the best times to see the fjords is in the October/November months, when the mountains are snowcapped and you have a good chance of viewing the Northern Lights. In fact, Hurtigruten will guarantee you see the Northern Lights on one of their 12-day itineraries from October through March or receive another weeklong cruise for free! Hurtigruten will also debut a new hybrid vessel, the MS Roald Amundsen in 2019. Not only will it cut fuel by twenty
percent, but they can turn off the engines when coasting within the fjords and you won't hear a sound. The interior was designed by Rolls Royce so expect the finest details. The ship will be heading along the Norwegian coast in late May on a glorious 15-day cruise that starts and ends in Hamburg, Germany. We just booked the cruise for two of our clients.
Home to 112 passengers, the SeaDream vessels are more like yachts than cruise ships. In the winter, they ply the remote waters of the Caribbean, visiting the special islands of the Grenadines and BVIs, like St. Bart's and Virgin Gorda. In the summer, you'll find their yachts on the coast of Croatia or in the Greek islands. Starting in February, SeaDream will be headed to Cuba to circumnavigate the island on a dreamy weeklong cruise.
It's the best of both worlds. See the sights, then head back to the comforts of the yacht for exceptional dining and comfort. You can even sleep under the stars. They have several outdoor beds each night for two lucky couples.
Ever since Backroads partnered with AmaWaterways to bring families to the Danube River in 2015, the demand for active river cruises has far exceeded number of available berths. The chance to ride along the river on bike paths during the day though small European villages and then catch up with the cruise for cocktails, dinner, and your room for the week (no packing and unpacking) is ideally suited for all age groups. Backroads is now bringing their active travel itineraries to the ocean liners, while other biking companies like VBT have formed partnerships to cruise the rivers. VBT has just announced that one of their new trips in 2019 will be aboard an Emerald Waterways ship cruising the Danube. 24 VBT guests will be part of a larger group on board the 182-passenger river cruise ship. The difference is that your shore excursions will be with a VBT group leader as you bike, on average, 15 to 35 miles per day through the German, Austrian, and Hungarian countryside. VBT can also package together the international air, and pre- and post-visits to Prague and Budapest.
New Adventures to Try in 2019
Lisa and I know firsthand why DuVine, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is considered the crème de la crème of bike tours. On our 6-day ride through Puglia, Italy in October, we biked with a small group (8 other riders and 2 guides), staying at boutique properties like the glorious Borgo Canonica inside a restored 19th-century trulli. The company is best known for their trips to the wine regions of the world, like Burgundy and Napa, often bringing well-known sommeliers and chefs along for the ride. But the trip
highly recommended to us by our guides was their relatively new itinerary to the Greek Isles where you board a yacht and cruise from island to island, where the biking begins. Rhodes, Kos, and Kalymnos are just a few of the stops.
In celebration of its 40th anniversary in 2019, Backroads is rolling out a slew of new trips around the world. They include a new Biking Tour in Sri Lanka, Multi-Adventure Tour in Tanzania, Walking & Hiking in Norway's Lofoten Islands, and Biking the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (for those of us who want to move on from biking in wine country to the far more potent bourbon). But we really like Mexico's Yucatan Family Multi-Adventure Tour, a perfect getaway in the winter months. You'll explore the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, bike to the charming colonial town of Valladolid, swim in a cenote, and sea kayak along the coast.
Austin Adventures is debuting 22 new trips in 2019, including sea kayaking in Baja and hiking in the Azores. But the one jaunt that has us looking our lips (especially when you consider the exemplary dining after each day's hike) is the chance to ramble in the Swiss and Italian lakes region. Any itinerary that includes Lugano and Lake Como has our stamp of approval. You'll hike 3 to 8 miles each day on the 6-day itinerary, averaging about 6 miles a day. Enchanted by the mesmerizing mix of mountains, lakes, and small villages, those hikes will end far too quickly.
Worth Checking Out in 2019!
Figured we'd start with breakfast and this is breakfast all day! Each day Pancake Social features up to eight different sweet and savory pancakes. Chef Anne Quatrano makes sure to keep it relatively healthy with multigrain and sourdough pancake mix. You'll find it in Atlanta's Ponce City Market.
Fox & the Knife
South Boston, Massachusetts
After spending some time in Modena, Italy, making pasta, chef Karen Akunowicz had a successful stint on Top Shelf and became a chef for Boston's Myers+Chang. Now she's opening a small enoteca in South Boston to spotlight her mad pasta making skills.
Mercado Little Spain
Hudson Yards, New York City
Jose Andres and the Adria brothers are soon opening Mercado Little Spain, a 35,000 square foot Spanish food hall in Hudson Yards, located underneath the High Line. This indoor and outdoor space will bring to mind the historic food stalls you find in Spain and will feature 3 full service restaurants serving regional Spanish cuisine and many individual stalls selling snacks and tapas.
Think awesome cocktails by an award-winning mixologist combined with a Japanese tasting menu and you've got Chef Noah Sandoval's and his co-owner and head bartender, Julia Momose's new restaurant, Kumiko. Experience the Japanese concept of omakase when dining here, which essentially means allowing the head chef to decide your menu for the night.