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Dear ActiveTravels Members,
Happy New Year!! We hope your year has started out with renewed energy and excitement. With the coming year, not to mention a new decade, it's time to dream big and go after what you want for yourself. When it comes to your leisure time, travel is one of the best ways to increase wellness, help you gain perspective, supply you with wonder at the world's places and people, and simply give you joy. With that in mind, we've created this newsletter just for you.
We receive, on average, 500-plus press releases a day telling us about all the new hotel openings, adventures, tours, cruise ships, art exhibitions, and much, much more in the world of travel. That's in addition to all the travel publications that arrive via snail mail. Believe it or not, we actually skim every one of those emails and magazines to see if anything excites us. If it meets our discerning eye, we pass it on to you.
Every January, we highlight what's new in the world of the travel in our newsletter. Obviously, the items below are the tip of the iceberg. Simply tell us where you're headed and we'll give you the scoop on what's new.
Have a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Traveled 2020!
Steve & Lisa
What's New In the World of Travel
New Hotels & Resorts to Experience
The third full-fledged Miraval resort is set on 380 acres in Lenox that was initially designed by New York's Central Park landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. Indoor walkways will ensure guests can enjoy the property year-round. At the central hilltop, Tudor-style Wyndhurst Mansion will be home to 148 rooms and suites.
There will be no shortage of wellness experiences, including the brand's signature transformative equine experiences; the Life in Balance Culinary Kitchen; and the Body Mindfulness Center featuring state-of-the-art fitness equipment, daily classes, yoga, and Pilates. Opening May 2020.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Autocamp, the California-based Airstream hotel brand with locations in Santa Barbara, Yosemite National Park, and the Russian River Valley, is heading East. They just announced the debut of a new property in the Woods Hole/Falmouth area of Cape Cod set to open in the fall.
The property will operate year-round and will feature 108 total accommodations, including customized Airstream Suites and luxury tents, as well as a two-story clubhouse, community fire pits, and group meeting and event space. The property will also host on-site activities for guests such as yoga and meditation, a campfire speaker series, music programming, local beer and cider tastings, and occasional farm-to-table dinners. AutoCamp Cape Cod will also be dog-friendly, offering Pet Kits, which include a cozy blanket, food and water bowls, and treats.
Brother-sister cofounders of Brooklyn Home Company, Bill and Lyndsay Caleo, are originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York. So when it came time to try their hand at hospitality, they decided home was where their hearts were. Together, they created a lakefront compound in Canandaigua, complete with a timber-frame event barn, a wellness center, and a bar perched right on the water. Their spa partner is renowned London-based Alexandra Soveral. Brooklyn-based design Studio Tack worked on the interiors.
New Englanders have long loved summering at the White Elephant, the picturesque hotel perched at Nantucket Harbor. Now, the brand has set its sights on another well-heeled destination, Palm Beach. They took over the landmarked Bradley Park Hotel, which dates back to the 1920s, on Sunset Avenue, and plan to update the property while still embracing its Mediterranean-revival architectural roots.
Napa Valley, California
Soak up the experiences in Napa's first resort in a working winery (overseen by respected vintner Thomas Rivers Brown). Participate in the winemaking process, savor tastings or dine in the barrel room. Then retire to your modern farmhouse-style accommodations, outfitted with a wine refrigerator, cozy fireplace and terrace or balcony.
Big Island, Hawaii
A former royal escape gets a contemporary upgrade with the opening of this 32-acre Big Island resort. From the locally sourced seafood and Hawaiian-art-adorned accommodations to the onsite Hale'I'ike ("House of Knowledge" cultural center), nearly every aspect of the Kona property immerses you in island life.
Flanked by lush rainforest near the base of the Arenal Volcano, Nayara is worth visiting for its location alone. Just minutes from camp, guests can enjoy thermal hot springs, whitewater rafting, countless hiking trails and horseback riding. There's even an on-site sloth sanctuary home to more than 15 sloths. Each of Nayara's 29 hillside tents feature plunge pools fed by natural hot springs, luxurious indoor-outdoor bathrooms and unobstructed views of the volcano.
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Left in tatters after Hurricane Irma devastated Virgin Gorda, it's remarkable that one of the most iconic properties in the Caribbean has rebounded so quickly. Rosewood Little Dix is now accepting reservations for March 2020 and beyond. Laurence Rockefeller found this wilderness outpost so appealing that he built Little Dix on a deserted beach. The allure comes from the almost primitive feel of this 10-mile long island. There is little shopping, few restaurants outside of the hotels, and the only major site is a snorkeling spot called The Baths, where rock grottos on the shoreline form natural pools. With few distractions, this is the place to book a room for a week, relax on the beach, and read a good novel.
The NoMad makes their international debut in Covent Garden, transforming a former court and police station into a 91-room hotel, set to open this summer. The interiors are done by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the same duo who are redesigning the British Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jail cells have been converted to guest rooms, and there's a museum dedicated to the history of the Metropolitan Police force.
Nine bespoke farmhouses dotted across a grand estate amidst the rolling green hills of Umbria. We're sold! Each farmhouse has been exquisitely renovated, with vintage furniture complementing the original stone. Guests can spend their days feasting on locally inspired dishes at the restaurant, wine tasting, truffle and mushroom foraging, or horseback riding with Andalusian horses at the Equestrian Centre. Opening July 2020.
One of Europe's most exciting new hotels for 2020, Can Ferrereta will open just in time for the summer season on the ever-popular Spanish island of Mallorca. Located in the quaint, rural town of Santanyí, the hotel is set within a charming 17th century building with 31 individually designed suites and rooms. Home to a Mediterranean restaurant, the hotel will also boast two bars, a swimming pool, gym and hammam spa.
A hotel and wellness oasis that floats in the heart of Swedish Lapland is something to behold! This new resort, Arctic Bath, offers an
experience unlike any other. Guests are encouraged to embrace the local coldbath culture with
warming and relaxing saunas. Scandinavian design can be found in the cabins, the floating double
hotel rooms, and the restaurant that serves a menu based on local and fresh food. Opening this month
Explora, pioneers of luxury adventure in South America, first opened inside Chilean Patagonia's Torres del Paine National Park in 1993. Over time, exquisite properties debuted in Atacama, Easter Island and Peru's Sacred Valley. This year, Explora will open a 20-room lodge in Argentine Patagonia's Los Huemules, a 6,000-hectare private nature reserve close to El Chaltén, home to waterfalls, glaciers and wildlife-filled rainforest.
Perched atop a cliff in Israel's rugged Negev Desert (45 minutes from Eilat), the Six Senses Shaharut, opening in Spring 2020, is the perfect destination for the intrepid luxury traveler, especially one traveling to or from nearby Petra, Jordon. The hotel offers a menu of unique and thrilling desert-centric diversions, from camel safaris to rappelling off the Makhtesh Ramon, the world's largest erosion crater, located at the peak of Mount Negev. Afterwards, guests can retreat to their sumptuous sandstone villa and watch the sunset over the arid landscape from their private outdoor plunge pool.
Tucked away inside 80 acres of dense forest just outside of Kyoto, the newest Aman, (opened in November 2019) is the perfect place to unwind and unplug.
Their 26 suites, scattered throughout minimalist ryokan-inspired pavilions, are clean-lined and almost monastically sparse, yet still undeniably luxurious. Think super-soft beds, deep-soak wooden tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the woods.
Other highlights include a spa with mineral-rich onsen (hot springs) and five-star Japanese cuisine. Ask to have dinner in one of the seven al fresco dining spots hidden carefully throughout the woods.
What's New In the World of Travel
New Cruise Ships Making Waves in 2020
The cruise industry is amping up for a seriously sexy upgrade come springtime, courtesy of Sir Richard Branson's first maritime foray, Virgin Voyages. April brings the much-anticipated debut of the fledgling line's flagship, the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady, the first of four planned Virgin vessels. Making a play for first-time "sailors" (as the line dubs them) and a younger, hipper, adults-only crowd, the fleets' design-heavy concept has been realized by a team of designers and architects with zero former ties to cruising.
Expect "Rockstar"-themed suites with hammock-trimmed balconies; and yoga-dedicated sundecks and DJ-hosted spa parties reflective of Virgin's signature "detox-and-retox" ethos. More than 20 dining experiences are bundled in the rates. The ship will sail three- to seven-night Bahamian and Caribbean voyages out of Miami, including a stop at the line's private Bimini beach club.
Crystal Cruises will redefine polar exploration this year with the August debut of its Crystal Endeavor, billed as the world's largest and most spacious upscale expedition ship (and the first expedition vessel for the luxury line). The 200-passenger expedition yacht will deliver guests to the most remote places on the planet without them ever leaving the lap of luxury, thanks to features like a one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio, roomy, balcony-trimmed suites outfitted with king-sized beds, in-room iPads, and personal butlers.
In addition, six fine-dining venues, including one backed by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and an expansive spa and glass-domed pool encourage ultimate calm. All-inclusive pricing factors in-shore excursions, all dining venues and alcoholic beverages along with gratuities so you can leave your wallet in your suite. Expedition voyages, ranging from 12 to 22 nights, will focus on the polar regions, Northeast Passage, South Pacific, and beyond.
Carnival's latest "fun ship" will feature a first-at-sea roller coaster that zooms around 800 feet of track at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour on the ship's top. It's the crowning innovation aboard the 5,280-passenger behemoth, the largest in Carnival's 28-ship fleet, which debuts this summer. Also on deck is the line's biggest water park (touting a trio of slides); a 600-foot-long ropes course; a new-for-the-line, suites-only enclave (dubbed "Excel") and a brewery.
Restaurants from Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri and Shaquille O'Neal will be neatly packed into the ship's six themed zones including "Ultimate Playground" and "French Quarter." After an inaugural summer season of sampler voyages in Europe and out of NYC, Mardi Gras will permanently port in a brand-new cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida, to offer a year-round series of weeklong Caribbean itineraries.
What's New In the World of Travel
New Adventures to Try in 2020
In this month's
magazine story on Travel Trends, Lisa is quoted on how to keep traveling with your older children. Here's a
link to the article
To celebrate our daughter's college graduation in May, we'll be traveling to Croatia on a newly designed Backroads trip for active families with children in their 20s. Backroads is one of the first outfitters to organize trips for this growing demographic of families. We'll report back on how it goes later this year!
Austin Adventures recently announced the wise decision of making Kasey Austin president of the company. I had the pleasure of traveling with Kasey and her dad, Dan, founder of Austin Adventures, on a fantastic trip to the peaks surrounding Colorado Springs in 2015.
I'm happy to announce that one of Kasey's first moves as president is creating more multi-sport trips for women, including a 6-day Mother/Daughter Group Trip to Zion and Bryce August 23-28, 2020. Cost is $2,898 per person, double occupancy. Other women-only trips include hiking in the Canadian Rockies September 6-11 and a multi-sport adventure to Machu Picchu and Peru September 12-20.
Having now traveled with Abercrombie and Kent on group trips to Kenya, Botswana, and Peru, I can recommend this company without hesitation. Guides are exceptional, groups are small, the properties they choose are unique and memorable, and dealing with logistics in challenging parts of the world is as close to seamless as I've witnessed.
New in 2020 is A&K's Limited-Edition Journeys to more remote locales in the world like Sri Lanka, the republic of Georgia, Madagascar, Southern India, and Zimbabwe. Itineraries range from 12 to 15 days and pricing starts at $5,995 per person.
VBT will debut self-guided bike vacations to five destinations in 2020. The locales include British Columbia's Vancouver Island; the UK's Oxford and the Cotswolds; Puglia, Italy; Porto and Lisbon, Portugal; and Barcelona and Costa Brava, Spain. All tours include a welcome orientation meeting and bike fitting; a custom VBT bike (road bike, hybrid bike or E-bike), helmet and bike bag; 24/7 support system including a local host and travel assistance hotline; a VBT Road Book with insider destination information such as restaurant recommendations and points of interest ranging from off-the-beaten-path attractions to secret beaches and spots with the best views; boutique accommodations in town centers for easy exploring and resupplying; daily breakfast; luggage transfers between hotels; GPS voice navigation and printed daily route notes; flat kit and multi-tool; and round-trip international air, if desired. Pricing is more affordable than a guided trip. For example, the BC trip costs $1,695 per person for the land portion. The guided BC trip costs $3,095 per person.
What's New in the World of Travel
Worth Checking Out in 2020!
2020 marks the 500th anniversary of Raphael's death at age 37. There will be multiple exhibitions to honor the painter, who created a spectacular amount of paintings, drawings, and frescoes in a relatively short period. Among others, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin has already opened a show of five of the artist's paintings of the Virgin Mary, and the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome will put on a sweeping exhibition in the spring.
From October to next January, the National Gallery in London will put on its own major show, with its 10 Raphaels augmented by loans from the Vatican, Louvre, and Uffizi. If you can't make the London show, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, will feature 26 different prints and drawings from its own collection of works by Raphael's circle of contemporaries. And, they'll debut four drawings by the Renaissance artist himself. On view February 16-June 14.
Ever been to an igloo rave? Well now you can at this year's Snowbombing Event. From April 13-18th, you'll be able to enjoy spring snow, world-class music, forest parties, alpine yoga, chairlift speed-dating and beautiful scenery all at this alpine music festival.
2020 marks the 250th birthday of the world's greatest composter, Ludwig von Beethoven. To celebrate this momentous occasion, fly into Bonn and visit the birthplace of Beethoven at Bonngasse 20, now part of The Beethoven House, a memorial site, museum and cultural institution that studies the life and work of composer.
Next stop is Leipzig, which in the latter part of the 19th century rivaled Vienna as the hub of classical music, home to Bach, Mahler, and Mendelssohn at one point. Now it's home to one of the top orchestras in the world.
Every Easter, the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette gathers in Bessières, France, to crack more than 15,000 eggs, cook a giant omelette, and pass out portions to people in the crowd. The tradition is said to date back to the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. He and his soldiers stayed overnight nearby and asked locals to make a huge omelette for the entire army.
It takes around 90 minutes to break all of the eggs and around 30 minutes to cook it, with 50 people helping out! Don't miss the fun parades and live music as well. Closer to home in Abbeville, Louisiana, they are carrying on the French tradition this year on November 7th and 8th, not even close to Easter!
One of the most beautiful sights you'll ever see, the Taiwanese lantern festival is mesmerizing as thousands of lanterns float into the sky carrying the prayers and vows of locals and tourists alike. Every year, thousands flock to the village of Pingxi for its annual festival. There's also
folk performances, lantern riddle contests, and street carnivals. This year's festival occurs on February 8th and 9th.
The only total solar eclipse of the year will cause day to turn to night on Dec. 14, just hours after the peak of the Geminids.
Most of the eclipse will happen over the unpopulated waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean and the southeastern Pacific Ocean, but the path will traverse across a swath of South America.
Similar to the 2019 path, the 2020 eclipse will reach the coast of Chile first and then cross over into Argentina.
If any of these resorts, trips, cruises, and events gets you excited, please let ActiveTravels know and we'll check availability. We can always help with flights and design routes as well. Contact us at:
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We look forward to making 2020
your best travel year yet!