If you’ve followed my travels before, you know that I love Italy. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe this country blessed with a fascinating history, stunning vistas, warm people and of course delicious food. I first visited in 1991 when I visited with my mom and did the pre-requisite first trip to Venice, Florence and Rome. Later, when living in Switzerland, we often hopped over by car to northern Italy, and over the last 20 years when heading back to Switzerland in the summer to see family, we have introduced our kids to the wonder of this amazing country.
So, when Italy opened to US travelers this summer, we jumped at the chance to head over and meet up with my in-laws who were on the Amalfi Coast. And, being the intrepid traveler that I am, with all kids occupied and taken care of and my husband as driver in tow, we happily added on another week in Puglia. Often discussed as the new Tuscany, Puglia offers an authentic slice of Italy tucked away in the “heel of the boot”.
Once I started planning out this trip, I realized that I had been here once before. At the end of that trip to Italy 30 years ago, I hopped a train and headed to Brindisi to board the overnight ferry to Greece. I clearly had missed out on an opportunity to explore this region before it was discovered by us outsiders. Today, while not nearly as visited as other regions in Italy, there is no lack of high-end hospitality, culture and the best part – beaches.
After saying goodbye to my in-laws, we hopped in our car and headed east towards Matera, not technically in Puglia, but a great stop along the way if arriving by car. Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world – you can really see the layers of the city and how they were built one on top of the other, starting with primitive caves. As such, you can’t drive into the old city, so we parked in the parking garage in the modern city center, and had the hotel come pick us up for the ride into the old city.
We stayed at the lovely Sant’Angelo luxury resort, one of the many Albergo Diffusos that we saw in this region. This is an innovative concept in Italian hospitality, which is a way of reviving small, historic villages. A number of separate buildings with a common lobby area can make up one hotel, meaning that your room could have a totally separate and private entrance. It adds to the charm and privacy of the location. We also had an amazing dinner at the Radino Wine Bar – I couldn’t believe the complex dishes that were coming out of the sliver of a kitchen that was open to the restaurant. Add to that the pairings with their own wine, and it was a truly unique experience.
What I loved about Sant’Angelo: separate entrance and private terrace, historic outside, modern and spacious inside. Beautiful terrace for dining above the rooms. Fabulous shower pressure!
Other hotels visited
Palazzo Gattini – traditional hotel by the Duomo on top of the old city, traditional limestone walls, suites with private pools
Sextantio – another typical Albergo Diffuso, but created in much older caves in the center of the city. Walls are original, furnishings are a mix of modern and antique. A one of a kind experience.
From Matera, we continued our trek west to Polignano a Mare in Puglia. Instead of the quicker route towards Bari and then south, we took the scenic route through the olive groves. The landscape became noticeably drier, dotted with windmills and charming farmhouses. We arrived at the gates of Masseria le Torri just before lunch and it is quite possibly one of the most romantic places I have ever stayed – nine unique rooms in a 17th century farmhouse set among the olive trees. I love the Puglian farmhouse style – think linen, white-washed stone walls, light blue and sage accents. Our room wasn’t ready, so armed with personalized recommendations from the staff, we headed into Polignano a Mare for lunch at Bella ‘Mbriana out on the terrace. It would be one of the first of many delicious seafood meals – the taglione alla cozze – pasta with mussels – was absolutely delicious.
With our bellies full, we headed back to Masseria le Torri to discover our spacious and beautifully appointed Junior Suite. We quickly changed into bathing suits and took our first opportunity to relax by the pool. We took advantage of the WhatsApp number provided to us at check-in and requested two glasses of rosé by the pool, which arrived promptly and with a smile.
This proved to be the perfect base from which to explore the area, including day trips to Alberobello with its famous Trulli houses, Ostuni – the white city, Polignano a Mare and Monopoli.
What I loved about Masseria le Torri: high touch, unobtrusive service at its finest. Great food with a menu that changed daily. Relaxing and romantic setting – great base to explore the area
Other hotels visited
Borgo Egnazia – large resort with a very robust offering of amenities. Areas for adults only and families. Traditional hotel rooms and standalone villas.
Masseria Torre Coccaro – great resort for families at a lower price point. Large swimming pool with lovely grassy area to relax beside it. Excellent full-service beach club, Le Palme.
Masseria San Domenico – large and very well-maintained grounds that reminded me of a private club. Beautiful facilities, with a very well-appointed spa and indoor pool.
Masseria Torre Maizza – beautifully restored traditional masseria with a golf course dotted with mature olive trees. Tranquil setting with a small footprint. Felt exclusive and richly upscale.
Don Ferrante – on the water in the old town of Monopoli. Great location to explore the town on foot with dining options close by. Rooftop terraces overlooking the water.
For our last three days we headed down to the small town of Matino and a stay in the Palais Gentile guest house. Really off the beaten path, this is intended for people that want an authentic stay in Salento, the southern part of Puglia. We arrived just in time to settle into our suite and head up to the rooftop to enjoy the sunset over the Ionian Sea. As hot as it is during the day, when the sun goes down, the breeze picks up and temperatures drop to the low 70’s making it easy to linger over a glass of prosecco and a plate of charcuterie. Our hosts, Matteo and Katty, made sure our every need was met – from dinner reservations to beach club access. They told us where to park, how to drive and whom to ask for everywhere we went – they made sure that the doors to Salento were opened to us.
From here we visited the charming city of Lecce, spent an afternoon cooking with a local chef and spent some time relaxing on the beach on the Ionian Sea. We spent a day at the Lido Elite at the famous Maldives del Salento, where the water is crystal clear as far as you can see, and we ate at the delicious Sottovento on the beach near. At night we headed to the seaside town of Gallipoli, where we had one of our best meals of the trip at La Lampara Fish Lab. Tucked away on one of the many cobblestone streets, we took our turn selecting the fresh fish and seafood right from the counter to be prepared to order. We started with fresh flash fried calamari, which is the best I have ever eaten, so lightly battered and fried that it provided just a hint of crunchiness to the freshness of the squid, and we finished with a whole sea bass cooked in salt.
What I loved about Palais Gentile: I felt like I was staying in someone’s home with a concierge just for me. The rooftop terrace is sublime and the perfect start to the day for a sumptuous breakfast and end of the day for an aperitivo.
Other hotels visited
La Fiermontina – located in the historical center of Lecce - filled with art and rich with a history, including Moroccan influences. Large pool and garden area.
Palazzo Maresgallo – newly restored palazzo in the center of the city focused on art – each room is carefully curated and has a different inspiration. Art exhibits in the common areas.
Masseria Trapana – secluded farmhouse dating back to the 16th century, surrounded by olive groves. Nine rooms surrounded by a lovely pool garden. Perfect place to seal in the zen of a trip to Puglia.
Thinking about a vacation in Puglia? Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our advisors, so that we can tailor the experience just for you and match you with the hotel of your dreams.
I am thrilled to announce the addition of two very talented women, Rachel Svec and Samantha Cohen, to my team.
Rachel Svec has worked with me on and off for the past two years, and with travel picking up again, I am so excited that she agreed to make it official! She has lived all over the country and traveled all over the world. Before joining us, Rachel worked as director of sponsorship sales for a global business travel association where she did many city/hotel site visits, planned conferences and curated special events for corporate and supplier VIP members.
She loves traveling with friends, and she is an expert on booking groups for special occasions - think girls' spa trips, golf trips and family milestones.
Samantha Cohen is a kindred spirit who knows and loves hotels - she is passionate about identifying accommodations that best meet the needs of her clients in each location. She is attracted to unique boutique hotels that provide a personalized experience but also enjoys larger differentiated properties with full amenities. Given her active lifestyle, she has particular experience identifying interesting wellness destinations in a variety of wonderful natural settings.
She has also traveled extensively and has been the go to for family and friends for vacations throughout the US and around the world.
We are all excited to continue to offer the best of the best in luxury travel to our clients.
Samantha Cohen Rachel Svec
I am sure we are all wishing we could see the future at this point. I know I have been asked multiple times about when and where we will be able to travel internationally again, and I have spent countless hours reviewing current restrictions related to travel and fielding questions about when things would start moving again. I had been warned that the flood gates were going to open up and the deluge would be hard to keep up with, but I was having a hard time gauging how travelers actually felt. The first of the year provided a trickle of inquiries and some intrepid domestic travelers, and February and March marks the first time that my clients have traveled internationally in a year.
Food, water, shelter and clothing are the basic necessities of life, but I am sure that many of you, like I, would add a fifth category – travel. We have missed the ability to get out and explore new destinations and cultures so much. I cannot tell you how many of my clients have called and said, “I’m vaccinated, and I am so ready to travel, where can I go”. I wish it were that easy, but we live in a global world, and there are still restrictions in place. So, as I embark on an international trip to Mexico next week, I wanted to share with you some of the trends that I am seeing and what you may want to be thinking about when looking ahead.
The announcement by Canada that its borders will remain closed through the summer, has all but sunk the summer cruise season to Alaska. The Passenger Vessel Services Act requires that foreign-flagged ships call on at least one foreign port on any US itinerary and as such most large ships stop in British Columbia. The smaller ships of less than 100 passengers are exempted from this law, and there is still limited availability on some of the smaller lines like Uncruise or Linblad, which have expedition ships operating in Alaska. This means that there are two summers of canceled cruises, and availability for 2022 is already filling up. If Alaska is on your wish list, book early – deposits are low and terms are super flexible.
I am also seeing an increase in demand for land trips to Alaska’s great outdoors. Princess and Holland America have committed to operating at least one of their Denali lodges, and there are many options for adventure outposts throughout the state.
Central America and The Caribbean
Each country has developed individual entry requirements often consisting of testing and insurance coverage. Many require that you apply for entry and must have it approved before travel, and some have created “tourist bubbles” for everyone’s protection. I have already worked with several clients on trips to Costa Rica, Turks & Caicos, Aruba and Anguilla, just to name a few. I know that we don’t often think of these destinations for the summer, but with Europe most likely being closed, they may provide great options – especially Aruba, which is outside of the hurricane zone and Costa Rica that offers great value and adventure in the “green” season. I know that June is officially the start of the hurricane season, but it may be just the time to plan a last-minute trip when the weather looks good.
With family in Switzerland, we have been following the news coming from Europe closely all year. With Italy and France heading into lockdown again, I am more convinced than ever that there will not be a summer season for Americans in Europe. Proclamations on both sides of the Atlantic about who can enter and what the procedures are do not bode well in the short term. My hotel partners have announced openings in the next few months for travelers from the EU, and I look forward to a successful summer season for them with local travelers. There are some countries that I think may be open to Americans this summer, including Greece, Croatia and Turkey, and I do hope that we will see things pick up in late summer, early fall. If you are a betting person, I would suggest booking for the fall with flexible cancellation terms but holding off on air for now.
I am sure that none of us could have imagined this situation lasting so long, but the biggest takeaway for me is that now more than ever, it helps to have someone in your corner, and I'm your gal. Looking forward to working with all of you on your future adventures!
As a welcome to the new year, most retrospectives look back at the year’s greatest hits, be it music, movies, or in my case epic adventures. What is usually such an easy task for me has presented a monumental struggle this year. I seem to have nothing but time on my hands, but I can’t seem to focus on getting my thoughts onto paper after such a challenging year. As I wrote my year-end recap last year, I realized that 2020 would mark ten years in business, and there would be even more to celebrate the next time I sat down to write my year in review.
While it didn't turn out the way anyone expected, I can honestly say that there are definitely a lot of things for which to be grateful. After a busy first quarter and then the initial crush of cancellations and modifications, life slowed down, and I had an opportunity that I hadn’t had in years to reflect and connect with family and friends. After months and months of isolation and togetherness, my kids are learning to navigate this new (and as I keep emphasizing to them, temporary) normal in both college and high school. I also have a twice weekly standing zoom with my college roommates that has provided us all with a much-needed escape and time to dream about the next time we will travel together. And maybe most importantly professionally, I have nurtured my connections in an industry that has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic – I will be ready with fresh ideas and perspectives when you are ready to travel.
So, while I didn’t get in as much travel as I typically would, there were some special adventures that I can’t help but highlight –
The English Countryside
Ocean City, MD
Fearrington House and Salamander Resort and Spa
Dreaming of What's Next!
I hope that you are, too. Here's to a fabulous 2021!
So, one burning question on everyone’s mind in the past six months has been, “When will it be safe for me to travel and where can I go”. I had done a couple of car trips with a few hotel stays of a night or two, so I knew that I felt comfortable staying in hotels with the new protocols that were being enforced. The question really was how would I feel on an airplane and how would I feel if I left the country.
In August, I followed along as Craig Beal, owner of Travel Beyond and the safari operator with whom I work, embarked on his own adventure to Kenya and Tanzania as soon as the borders opened. While there were some minor hiccups with the borders and the necessary Covid testing, it was a huge success. So, following his return, when he offered me the chance to travel with some of his colleagues to Tanzania, I jumped.
There would be seven of us traveling from five different cities in the US, meeting up in Kilimanjaro to embark on a 10-day safari trip through the northern part of the country. It was an opportunity to visit more than a dozen lodges, connect with staff on the ground and learn about Tanzania as a destination. But more, importantly, it would allow me to experience what it is like to travel during a pandemic.
Even though Tanzania does not require a negative Covid test for entry, we all decided that we would get a test before departure, and that we would quarantine as much as possible for the 14 days before the trip. In the Washington, DC area, I have found several resources for Covid testing, including a clinic in Germantown that does rapid testing with same day results, my doctor’s office in Bethesda, which will guarantee the results in 72 hours and Passport Health, which will guarantee results in 72 hours. Since I needed to go get a consult and a malaria prescription, I decided to try out Passport Health, and I had my results the next day. They provided the results by email with a downloadable pdf that indicated that it was a PCR test, and it was in fact negative.
With my bags packed and Covid test in hand, the biggest hurdle to me, and what I hear from most of you, is the flight. The destination seems safe and wide open, but how do you survive hours on an airplane? My flight on the way over was Washington Dulles -> Amsterdam -> Kilimanjaro on KLM in business class. I arrived at Dulles at 3:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and it was a complete ghost town. There were very few people checking in at any of the desks, and I felt like it was very easy to keep my distance from others. I checked in, dropped my bags and headed for security. Everyone was masked up, and there were hand sanitizing stations everywhere. I breezed through security, and hopped the train to terminal A. Again, it was empty, and there was nothing open except for one sundry store. Not a single restaurant appeared to be open for service. I spent an hour in the lounge, which had grab and go service for food, and then boarded the plane.
There were only four people in business class and around 50 in economy – this was for an aircraft that can hold 292. The flight attendant said that it seems that things are picking up, and she was hopeful that more would be flying soon. She let me know that the service on the flight would be less frequent, and that we could take our masks off when eating. The flight was comfortable and uneventful, and we arrived in Amsterdam early the next morning. While the EU is not open to US visitors currently, Amsterdam is open to transit to other locations. There were no additional security screenings in Amsterdam, and it was just like a normal domestic transfer requiring moving from one gate to another.
Amsterdam was so different from Dulles. The airport was packed, and all the shopping and dining venues were open. The flight attendant on my last flight explained that KLM returned to the skies early during the pandemic with strict safety procedures in effect, so although the schedule was not as robust as before, there was still a lot of traffic going through Amsterdam – with its European network at virtually pre-Covid levels. Everyone in the airport was wearing a mask, some with the addition of face shields and hazmat suits. Again, there were hand sanitizing stations everywhere.
The flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro was about half full, which seemed much more crowded than the first flight. There was a mix of Americans and Europeans, and it was clear that it was a lot of leisure travel and not just essential travel. Upon arrival in Tanzania, we were required to sanitize our hands and have our temperatures taken before proceeding to immigration. I had obtained my visa in advance, but you can also purchase it upon arrival. The airport is small, and there were a lot of people in a small space, but everyone had masks on. We were met by our guide outside of the baggage area, and we loaded up our jeep to head to Legendary Lodge in Arusha about 90 minutes away.
At this point, I took off my mask - just about 24 hours from the time I had arrived at Dulles the previous day. I was very aware of it for about the first three hours, and then it just became another piece of clothing. Upon arrival at every single lodge, whether we were staying or just visiting the property, we were greeted by masked employees, hand washing stations and temperature checks, and in some cases, forms that needed to be completed to contact trace should someone fall ill.
This was our first stop, and I wish that we had more time at this lovely destination. It is a common jumping off point for safari, located in Arusha, the largest city closest to the airport. Large open rooms, delicious food and welcoming common areas, make this a great one-night stay. It is just a few minutes from the local Arusha airstrip, from which we headed to Tarangire National Park.
Tarangire is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania and part of the northern Tanzania safari circuit. It is known for the presence of large herds of wildebeests, elephants, gazelles, zebras, hartebeest and buffalos and its beautiful baobab and acacia trees. It is also the home to more than 545 species of birds including the beautiful lilac breasted roller. We spent two nights at Lemala Mpingo Ridge with sweeping views across the Tarangire River and the valley below.
What I loved about it: huge spacious tent with a lovely daybed on the terrace, outdoor shower and outdoor bath to maximize your feeling of being one with nature.
Other lodges visited
Kuro Tarangire - Lots of opportunities for walking safaris, near the Silale Swamp where loads of wildlife congregate
Sanctuary Swala Camp - Water comes up to the camp allowing Makoro (dugout canoe) experiences and walking safaris
Chem Chem - Large common areas, full gym, swimming pool and spa, in a private wildlife concession
Little Chem Chem - Overlooking Lake Burunge, this small camp is family friendly. There are family tents, children’s activities, a kitchen garden and of course lots of animals
From Tarangire we headed to the Ngorongoro crater, a world heritage site consisting of a large volcanic caldera formed two to three million years ago when a volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself. The crater is home to elephants, leopards, buffalos, zebras, warthogs, lions, hippos as well as local Masai people and their livestock. The wildlife dense crater, whose floor has a surface area of 100 square miles can be visited in a day. A highlight was the large flocks of flamingos who congregate in the crater’s lakes. We spent one night at Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp.
What I loved about it: beautiful setting on the crater among the Acacia trees and easy access to the crater by a private road that can only be used by two camps, which allows you to get to the crater floor earlier than other visitors.
Then we headed to Entamanu Private, which is a private camp, usually reserved for exclusive use, but now available for individual bookings. It had a cottage feel with whitewashed wood walls, local artwork and beautiful views of the Ngorongoro Crater to one side and the Serengeti to the other. Most cultural exchanges have been prohibited as a precaution, but we were fortunate to participate in a late afternoon walk through the grounds culminating in a sundowner with a lovely performance by the local Masai. The most interesting part of the evening was a question and answer session with one of the elders in which he explained the local way of life and how they were working to preserve their culture in a modern world.
What I loved about it: authentic, lots of human interaction, luxurious accommodations, lots of walking safari options
Other lodges visited
Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp - Shares the private access road with Sanctuary for easy access into the park
After a lovely evening in the Entamanu library, we headed back towards Lake Manyara and the local airstrip the next morning for a short flight to the Serengeti. The vastness of the region and the size of the herds was already apparent upon descent into the Serengeti airstrip. We were there to witness the Great Migration which follows 2.5 million wildebeest, zebras, antelopes, gazelles and other animals as they work their way around the Serengeti in a clockwise movement every year. The draw to this location in September was to see the herds cross the Mara River.
The wildebeest use their instincts to search for phosphorus rich grasses that they need to survive. Where one decides to go, the herds will follow, often in a single file column in search of food. We were fortunate to see multiple large crossings. The build up to the event consists of thousands of wildebeest and zebras amassing on one side of the river. We watched as they jumped down to the banks, looked around and jumped back up several times. Tentatively, they stuck a hoof in the water, and as soon as one got up the nerve to go, it was like a faucet was turned on, and for more than an hour we watched as they crossed the river. We could see more arriving to cross from all sides, and our guide estimated more than 10,000 at each crossing. It was a sight to behold, punctuated by crocodiles lying in wait and hippos watching the show.
The following morning, we were treated to the sunrise by balloon over the Serengeti. What a magical way to spot the herds from above. Flying at just 30 feet above the ground, it was a chance to get off road and spot elephants, giraffes, buffalos, wildebeest, zebras, cheetahs and more.
In this destination, we stayed at Lamai Serengeti, built into the rocks of Kogakuria Kopje. There are 12 large rooms, consisting of a blend of canvas, plaster and rocks, as well as a smaller private camp adjacent.
What I loved about it: panoramic views of the Serengeti, great family accommodations under one tent, saw leopards and cheetahs from this location
Other lodges visited
Serengeti Bushtops Camp - Large tents with lots of outdoor living space, most raised above the ground, private hot tub on each terrace. Large welcoming common areas with bar, infinity pool and delicious food
Lemala Kuria Hills - Large modern tents with floor to ceiling glass with spectacular views. Indoor/outdoor showers and baths with views. Private plunge pool on each deck. Healthy and delicious food.
Our last stop on the trip was the Grumeti game reserve, a concession created to protect the path of the wildebeest migration and the indigenous biodiversity of the ecosystem. In 2006 Singita took over management of the area, pledged to provide low impact, luxury tourism, and has continued to oversee and ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve through conservation and community partnerships. We began with a short 15-minute flight on Grumeti Air, a private charter company in the Serengeti. While the Lamai region was hilly and dotted with rock formations, the Grumeti region was expansive and mostly flat. We would have three nights to explore the area and visit all of the Singita properties.
After six days of game drives, we were ready to add in some time to relax and enjoy the camps. We saw animals pass through all of the camps in which we stayed, but nowhere as prevalent as at Singita. Large herds of zebras, giraffes and impala spent the days by the watering holes at Sabora, and there was even a lion making his way between the tents one night. I was sure I heard it softly grunting outside my tent, and it was confirmed by claw marks on the cushions on my terrace the following morning.
Our first night was spent at Singita Faru Faru Lodge where contemporary one- and two-bedroom suites dot the ridge above the Grumeti River. The two subsequent nights were spent at Singita Sabora Tented Camp. Designed to allow guests to enjoy time in their room, each suite includes a private pantry, dining, outdoor fitness/meditation deck, and comfortable outdoor spaces for game viewing from “home”.
What I loved about it: all accommodations had beautifully designed interiors, sumptuous linens and textiles, and impeccable attention to detail. Grab and go concept at the “deli” allowed us to graze like the animals 😊, compact bites of deliciousness that could be enjoyed by the pool, at the bar or in your room - just pack up your leather picnic basket and enjoy. Relaxing spa with expert massage and body services. Animals everywhere!
Other lodges visited
Singita Sasakwa Lodge - Perched on a hill above the Serengeti, each private cottage and villa has a private infinity pool. Interiors that feel like old style hunting lodges with amazing art throughout
Singita Serengeti House - Private home within the reserve with four bedrooms available with a full staff, including a chef. Full gym, large infinity pool, media room, and gorgeous outdoor space. A real home away from home.
Singita Explore Camp - Private use tented camp, including Field Guide, chef and host, consisting of six tents bathed in Singita style.
Twelve days after this magical trip began, we embarked on our trip out of the bush and home. Flights from the Serengeti to the Arusha area are early in the day, and most flights onward are late at night. I often book my clients a day room so that they can relax and shower before the long journey home, and the newly opened Hamerkop House is just minutes from the Dolly airstrip, just east of Arusha. Its four en-suite bedrooms can be reserved individually or as a full home rental, and the home comes with a private staff, private pool and golf course access. It was lovely to end the trip with a home cooked meal, a dip in the pool, and a leisurely shower before heading to Kilimanjaro airport.
We left that evening at 6pm for our 9:20pm flight out. The route this time was a bit more circuitous due to the available flight schedule with JRO ->DAR->AMS->ATL->IAD in business class. The first flight was noticeably more crowded than the flight over, and it seemed that almost all seats were full. It made a short stop in Dar es Salaam en route to Amsterdam, and we remained on the plane as some departed and others arrived. The ground crew entered the plane and sanitized all empty seats and common areas. The nonstop activity of the trip caught up with me, and I slept the entire way to Amsterdam. Upon arriving at Amsterdam in this direction, we were required to go back through security to get to our gates to head back to the US. Again, the airport was packed with all stores open. The flight to Atlanta was about half full. I was grateful for global entry so that I didn’t have to stand in line with the crowds that were arriving. Atlanta was SO different from Dulles, but I was thinking that maybe two weeks would make a huge difference and that Dulles would start to feel crowded. Not so, much as when I departed, it was empty which left me with such a sense of sadness and brought me back to reality.
I embarked on this trip for multiple reasons, but one of the most important was to experience travel today. While my husband's family members in Europe were living a relatively normal life with leisure travel a part of it (including planes, cruises and resort stays), my travel and my clients’ travel had come to a complete halt. I know that everyone has a different tolerance for risk and a different health profile, and I encourage you to make decisions that are right for you and your family, but I can say that for me travel felt safe. There was universal masking in the airports and on the planes, and a respect for personal space. While I am not quite ready to go to a concert, sporting event or movie theater, I can say that I am ready to travel again to a destination with a low prevalence of Covid, strong Covid protocols and the ability to be outside and social distance. And, more importantly, I will be here to help when you are ready, too.
Set up a risk free consultation with Lisa to discuss your future travel plans
I know that most of you, like me, are starting to feel like hibernating bears. For them, winter is the time that food is scarce, it is cold, so why not take a nice long nap? The bear wakes up because his internal clock, reset to zero when he dozed off, tells him it is the right time. I am relying on the data to tell me when it is time to come out, but I do see that we are all starting stir, stretching our limbs and taking those first tentative steps after a long rest. I have the same sensation of euphoria of when I see the first crocus in my garden bloom, signaling a new awakening and the start of a new season.
For travel, it is a new season, one completely different from what we knew before, but one that can be just as enriching and exciting. Some of you, I am sure, have the feeling that you just have to change your four walls and some of you will be searching for more. Some of you are mourning the loss of summer vacations that you have been planning and dreaming of for the past year, and some of you are trying to figure out what to do with your kids now that summer camp has been canceled. We have lots of ideas!
I am so heartened by the options that are going to be available to us. I have been spending a LOT of time boning up on my US destination knowledge, and I know that what will emerge first might not be what you were imagining, but there are so many great options. The great American road trip will be back, and resorts close to home will be a welcome escape. I love this photo from two years ago at Nemacolin, just a few short hours from my home – the sunset over the golf course was just sublime. Acres upon acres of fresh open space with loads of lodging options.
Please reach out if you are interested – I can help you navigate the different options and plan a divine getaway. When you book with The Travel Fairy, a proud affiliate of McCabe World Travel, you receive Virtuoso added values, such as resort credits and complimentary breakfast. A win-win all around!
This photo was taken in the summer of 2009, during one of our epic European road trips on a vaporetto in Venice. I loved that we were traveling like the locals, and I delighted in the fact that my kids shared my sense of adventure. It also marked a big turning point in my life. My youngest, Harry, had just turned five, and a lot of changes were coming. As a family, we were really hitting our groove, our kids, ages 5 - 11 at the time, were blossoming into adorable, responsible mini-adults, with fascinating personalities of their own that required less minute to minute attention. The downside to that was that I knew that my life as a full time stay-at-home mom was coming to an end in just a few short months.
When we returned home, I started to brainstorm about my next chapter in life, and that was when my fifth baby was born - The Travel Fairy. I had escaped the challenges in the industry presented by 9/11 and the great recession, and I have enjoyed every day of nurturing my client relationships, exploring the world and building a thriving business. The past few months have challenged the world, and tourism is facing another critical reboot.
I am not quite ready to say "thank you Corona", but I am grateful for the gift of time it has given me. We have all slowed down, and having dinner as a family for nine straight weeks has been a dream, knowing that three of them may be off to college in the fall, and it is unlikely to happen again on a regular basis.
I have also taken the time to examine my business, strengthen my industry relationships, and focus on how to best serve my clients as we all dip our toes back into the world. As the world begins to open up and we prepare to travel again, I would like to ask you to complete a super quick survey. I am a better advisor because of you and the feedback that you have always provided to me, and this time is no different. Please click on the link below to share your input -
It is hard to believe that 2018 has come and gone, but the past few weeks have given me time to reflect on the past year and my plans for the next. This year was full of welcome change, and my affiliation with McCabe World Travel has really enabled me to up my game. The amazing team and industry connections have been invaluable, and I love being able to share everything I have learned with my wonderful family of clients.
2018 Travel Fairy Travels
Again this year, I was blessed with being able to travel to new destinations to enjoy new experiences with family, friends and colleagues.
My highlight this year was my first trip to Africa - a two week adventure that took me to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As you can imagine, I can't wait to get back, and I have loved working with some of you to craft the perfect safari.
In February, I took my husband to the Andaz Mayakoba to celebrate his 50th birthday. We got to explore all of the resorts in this beautiful complex as well as spend some time in downtown Playa del Carmen.
In May, Daniel and I spent five days in Belize with an amazing side trip to Tikal. The snorkeling was out of this world, and we experienced some of the adventure offerings, including ziplining and river tubing. Tikal is one of the biggest Mayan cities to be discovered in Central America, and even with a full day, we only covered the highlights.
The summer was spent on a multi-generational family trip to Israel to celebrate my son and his cousin's b'nai mitzvah. A year and a half of planning went into this 25 person trip with lots of moving parts, and everything went off without a hitch. I loved having all of the grandparents with us in front of the wall just after sunrise to celebrate. We hiked Masada, dug for pottery, visited with the troops, made homemade chocolate on a kibbutz, hit the beach in Tel Aviv, swam in the Dead Sea, visited Petra, Jordan for a day and ended with three days of bliss at the beautiful Beresheet in the Negev Desert.
In October, I was fortunate to travel with Abercrombie & Kent to Africa. I visited Johannesburg, Victoria Falls from both sides and four Sanctuary safari lodges in Botswana and Zambia. To say that I was blown away by the wildlife is an understatement. You can't imagine what it is to be on safari until you have done it. Being among the animals, big and small, and in such quantities is amazing, and retreating to the beautiful lodges with stellar service and delicious food is all a part of the adventure
The year ended with a family cruise on the Celebrity Summit in the Caribbean. I was able to visit some of the areas that were hard hit by the hurricanes in 2017, and it was great to see the islands recovering. I was also able to visit the Park Hyatt on St. Kitts, which is a great luxury option in the islands.
It is hard to believe that 2017 has come and gone, but the past few weeks have given me time to reflect on the past year and my plans for the next. The Travel Fairy has had a banner year professionally, and I am thrilled to share what I have learned this year, and what is in store for the next.
2017 Travel Fairy Travels
This year I felt like I was truly on top of the world with all of my travels.
I kicked it off with a professional development trip to Chicago to attend Virtuoso on Tour. I was thrilled that my agency decided to affiliate with the world’s best travel consortium, and I took advantage of this two-day conference to meet with several hundred suppliers representing, hotels, cruise lines and tour operators from around the world.
In March, I had the pleasure of spending four nights at the Club Med in Ixtapa with my daughter Emma. I loved being surrounded by mountains on a beautiful beach with a never ending list of things to do - and we did it all from snorkeling to kayaking to the trapeze.
In the spring, I escorted my first large group of 70 people to Punta Cana for spring break. I took advantage of this opportunity to stay in two different resorts and tour 12 others. My family loved the two-bedroom master suite at the Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, and I had a great day hosted by Casa de Campo, where I could really experience everything that the resort has to offer.
The summer was spent exploring the Southeast, culminating in a trip to drop off my daughter for her freshman year at the University of South Carolina. We spent time in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, and the highlight of these little excursions was a wonderful stay at the Keswick Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia. The grounds are beautiful, and it didn’t take much to imagine that we were in Tuscany and not just a couple hours from home.
With one child out of the house, the next one driving, and the next two thoroughly independent, I made the decision to embark on some serious travel myself. It began in September with a trip to Cabo for an educational conference where I was able to network with fellow agents and suppliers. I also arranged visits to many of the hotels in the Virtuoso portfolio and stayed at the beautiful Esperanza. In addition, I had the opportunity to do a bunch of ship inspections, including the Oceania Insignia in Boston, the Disney Magic in New York, and the Norwegian Epic and the Holland America ms Koningsdam in Florida.
In October, I embarked on a ten-day adventure through Croatia and Montenegro. It was definitely a bucket list trip, and I can’t wait to share these two destinations with you. I visited the cities of Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and Kotor and the islands of Hvar and Korcula, where I discovered the charm of each location. The boutique hotels, exceptional food and wine culture and centuries of history make it an amazing destination with something for everyone.
The end of the year was spent on Marco Island, Florida with family. I had never been to the west coast of Florida, and it was beautiful! The fine white sand, calm and clear water of the gulf, and the amazing shells are among the many reasons to visit.
Wishing all of you health and happiness and loads of travel in the New Year!