The Virtuoso Life http://blog.virtuoso.com The Art of Travel Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:28:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 http://blog.virtuoso.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Virtuoso_SWIRL-150x150.jpg The Virtuoso Life http://blog.virtuoso.com 32 32 3 Things We Love about South African Airways’ Business Class http://blog.virtuoso.com/tips-and-trends/south-african-airways-business-class/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/tips-and-trends/south-african-airways-business-class/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:29:57 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=8050 Airline travel maxim number one: Long-haul international flights call for splurging on the upper-class experience.

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By Joel Centano

Airline travel maxim number one: Long-haul international flights call for splurging on the upper-class experience. It’s about better food and preferred boarding, of course, but also access to private lounges and the additional comfort that Business- and First-Class seats provide. (And ideally the sleep ­– read: real sleep – that ensues.) Airline travel maxim number two: International trips are decidedly better when you arrive at your destination fresh-faced and ready to explore.

Staring down 14-hour flights between NYC and Johannesburg for a recent South Africa tour from National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures, I decided to step things up by flying Business Class with South African Airways. Here, three perks that made the transits, and time at Joburg’s O.R. Tambo International, fly by.

Forward-Facing Flat Beds
Personal on-demand entertainment systems and noise-canceling headphones offer plenty of reasons to pull all-nighters, but sleep comes easy with SAA’s fully reclining seats, coupled with cushy mattresses and duvets. Insomniacs and movie marathoners, take note: Built-in chair massagers (aboard Airbus A340-600 aircraft for NYC-to-Joburg flights) make upright seating just as nice. For its 17-hour D.C.-to-Johannesburg flights, the airline recently introduced new Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircraft and an upgraded Premium Business Class, where every seat features direct aisle access.

SAA’s upgraded Premium Business Class. (Photo: SAA)

Local Wines
In vino veritas – especially when said wines are award winners. Each year at its Wine of the Year Awards gala, SAA unveils a curated selection of 24 reds and 24 whites – all produced in South Africa and winnowed from more than 500 submissions – to be served on board and in its lounges. The airline also taps an international panel of experts (this year’s judges included Luvo Ntezo, sommelier at One&Only Cape Town, and wine author Paula Bosch) to honor its favorite vintages. Look for 2017 winners such as Overhex Private Cellar’s Survivor Red Blend Fairtrade 2015.

Cozy comforts at SAA’s arrivals lounge in Joburg include swinging wicker chairs. (Photo: Joel Centano)

Dedicated Lounges
You’ll find meticulously crafted lattes, swinging wicker chairs, and spacious showers in SAA’s arrivals lounge at O.R. Tambo, the airline’s hub. In Terminal B, the newly refurbished VIA Lounge (for domestic departures) features a revolving gallery of local art and a Junior Pilot kids’ room. Before returning home, allow ample time to kick back in SAA’s premium departure lounge in Terminal A. Special touches include a quiet room lined with plush recliners ­– the ideal spot for reflecting on your time in South Africa and sipping more of those award-winning wines.

The newly refurbished VIA Lounge. (Photo: SAA)

The Details
South African Airways operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK to Johannesburg, along with nonstop service from Washington, D.C.-Dulles to Accra, Ghana, or Dakar, Senegal, with continued service to Johannesburg.

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Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Cheap Suitcase http://blog.virtuoso.com/tips-and-trends/shouldnt-buy-cheap-suitcase/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/tips-and-trends/shouldnt-buy-cheap-suitcase/#respond Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:34:15 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=8027 Tips from a luggage exec and expert at Rimowa.

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Before coming to Rimowa, Sven Lepschy, Vice President of Electronic Tag, logged time in aircraft maintenance for Lufthansa, as a United Airlines pilot, and doing demo flights for a Brazilian airline manufacturer. He signed on with the German luggage brand last year as it unveiled its groundbreaking electronic bag-tag system – a screen built into the suitcase.

Last year, he flew enough to circle the globe 11 times. Here, he shares his luggage expertise.

Carry-On or Check?
“I probably carry on 90 percent of the time. If I go for more than a week, I will check.”

Go-To Suitcase:
“An aluminum Rimowa 56 Topas multiwheel with a lot of stickers that I’ve had since 2012 – it was my first Rimowa. The more dented up and used it gets, the more I like it.”

Why Quality Matters:
“A great suitcase is good quality, great material; it has to look good. It’s an expression of ourselves. Our aluminum cases, they dent – and that creates character. That’s great luggage for me – not the cheapest piece I can buy that breaks after I’ve used it two times. At the end of the day, we all figure out, ‘If I would have just spent a little more money, I would have gotten a much better quality suitcase that would last for a much longer time.’ ”

Packing Tips:
“My system comes from my time in Germany in the military. I roll my T-shirts, my jeans, my shirts, even my socks. With that technique, I can fit probably three to four more days into a suitcase than if I stacked them.”

The Future of Smart Travel? 
“In five or ten years, I see smart luggage being used more seamlessly. I can see that, before we leave our house, someone is taking our luggage and delivering it to our end destination. We won’t have to worry about lugging it to the airport and checking it in.”

Top Photo: The Rimowa Topas.

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A Perfect Day in Prague http://blog.virtuoso.com/europe/a-perfect-day-in-prague/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/europe/a-perfect-day-in-prague/#respond Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:21:42 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=8007 Prague has castles, cathedrals, palaces, and gardens aplenty but here is one perfect day that helps keep you clear of crowds and selfie sticks.

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By Mike Dunphy

With castles, cathedrals, palaces, gardens, and cobbled lanes aplenty, it’s difficult not to have a good day in Prague. However, many visitors never leave the well-trodden route running from Wenceslas Square, through Old Town Square, across the Charles Bridge, and up the hill to Prague Castle. To locals, Prague is so much more. Here’s one perfect day that helps keep you clear of crowds and selfie sticks.

Rise and Shine

Perched high on a bluff over the Vltava River, the seventeenth-century Vyšehrad Fortress is one of the Czech nation’s spiritual homes: Its cemetery is the final resting place for some of the country’s most beloved figures, including composers Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, and Alphonse Mucha. Seen from atop the fortress walls, the sunrise reflects beautifully off the river as it burns through the mist and is worth waking early for.

Vyšehrad Fortress (Photo: Czech Tourism).

Stretching along the river from Vyšehrad to Šítkov Water Tower, the one-mile pedestrian-only Náplavka riverbank thrives in early evening, when locals come down to unwind and sip cold suds. In the morning, it’s almost all yours, with the city’s famous skyline rising higher on the horizon with each step. Cross Legií Bridge to the west bank for coffee and breakfast on the outdoor patio of Café Bella Vida.

Prague’s fairytale-like Wallenstein Gardens hide behind a tiny door off sidewalk on the way to Malostranská Metro station. Created in the 1620s along with the adjacent palace, this well-manicured baroque garden merits exploration with a frescoed pavilion, an artificial cave with stalactites, a koi pond, a pair of albino peacocks, and couples stealing kisses among the hedges.

Wallenstein Gardens
Wallenstein Gardens (Photo: Prague City Tourism).

Midday

The National Gallery of Prague has branches throughout the city, but its largest is north of the river bend in the Holešovice neighborhood, popular with expats and hipsters. The fairly unattractive building from 1928 was the first example of Functionalist architecture in Prague, but its art collection – including works by Picasso, Renoir, van Gogh, and Klimt – never fails to impress.

West of Holešovice along the river, hilltop Letná Park not only provides panoramic views of Prague, but also historical significance: During 1989’s Velvet Revolution, nearly a million people came here to protest the communist regime. Today, Letná remains tranquil under the spread of leafy trees and is home to a popular beer garden. Happily, in Prague, it’s never too early to raise a mug.

Letná Park
Letná Park (Photo: Prague City Tourism).

Continue on from the park to the Nový Svět neighborhood, where the old city walls still run along the backside of the castle district and cannonballs from the eighteenth-century Prussian siege protrude from buildings. Ring the doorbell of the U Raka Café and step into its gorgeous, tiered garden for perhaps the best apple strudel in town. 

Nový Svět neighborhood Prague
The Nový Svět neighborhood (Photo: Mike Dunphy).

Evening through Late Night

The retro-furnished Pilsner Urquell bar and restaurant Kolkovna Olympia may open its doors to a major tourist artery, but its traditional meaty menu features some of the best versions of Czech classics in town, particularly its much-loved roast pork knee with horseradish, mustard, and sauerkraut.

These former royal vineyards of Riegrovy Sady now make up the main playground of the trendy Vinohrady and Žižkov neighborhoods, east of the main train station. Come evening, half the neighborhood can be found strolling the paths, picnicking on the grass, tossing Frisbees to dogs and children, and relaxing at one of two great beer gardens. The western slope is the best spot in Prague to watch the sun go down behind the castle.

Riegrovy Sady Prague
The former royal vineyards of Riegrovy Sady (Photo: Prague City Tourism).

Krymská Street in Vršovice has become Prague’s epicenter for all things cool, with cafés, clubs, bars, and boutiques spilling down the cobbled hill. By nightfall, particularly on weekends, many of the revelers take their drinks outside, creating an unofficial block party.

Krymská Street
Krymská Street (Photo: Mike Dunphy).

Find a Virtuoso travel advisor to plan your trip to Prague. 

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Just Open: The Dreamiest Villa in Italy? http://blog.virtuoso.com/hotels/just-open-the-dreamiest-villa-in-italy/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/hotels/just-open-the-dreamiest-villa-in-italy/#respond Wed, 12 Jul 2017 17:45:39 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7997 Now open in Italy: the opulent six-suite Villa Sola Cabiati on Lake Como, available exclusively to guests of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

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How to Summer Like an Italian Noble

Step one: Gather a dozen of your most fashionable, fun-loving friends and block out a week in August. OK, traditionally you’d take the whole month, but we’re working on short notice here. Next, select a historic Lake Como home with museum-quality frescos, mosaico venezia floors, and Renaissance gardens overlooking the lake. Decamp for Lombardy.

The opulent residence for a lineage of dukes, counts, and marquesses since the eighteenth century, six-suite Villa Sola Cabiati is, as of this summer, available exclusively to guests of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo for special events and vacation rentals. When the villa isn’t occupied, the hotel can arrange activities ranging from tours with a Sola Cabiati family member to 12-course dinners for two, poolside family barbecues, and weddings and celebrations for up to 300 guests – just in case this summer sparks a more momentous occasion for next August. Private day use and dinners from $2,315 for up to 20 guests. Weekly rentals from $40,500 for up to 12 guests.

Read More: Five Things We Love: Grand Hotel Tremezzo 

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Africa’s Smartest Safari Trends – and Biggest Threats http://blog.virtuoso.com/active-adventure/africas-smartest-safari-trends-and-biggest-threats/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/active-adventure/africas-smartest-safari-trends-and-biggest-threats/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 13:47:33 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7988 An interview with Singita CEO and Owner Luke Bailes includes the smartest trends in safari travel and the biggest challenges facing the continent.

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An interview with Luke Bailes,
Singita Owner and CEO
LukeBailes
Luke Bailes, Singita Owner and CEO

Interviewed by Annie Fitzsimmons

Travel can be a powerful catalyst to educate and protect natural and cultural heritage for future generations – which is part of the reason why The United Nations has declared 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism. As part of a year-long series, we’re interviewing experts and trendsetters in sustainable tourism. For this installment, we talk with Singita owner and CEO Luke Bailes. Renowned for its sustainable conservation, environmentally conscious operations, and community support, Singita operates 12 lodges and camps in three African countries. Talk about thought leadership: Bailes even has a 100-year plan for the company.

“Singita’s 100-year vision is to protect and preserve large areas of pristine wilderness for future generations,” he says. “With the continent’s precious wilderness areas and most vulnerable species under severe threat, Singita’s total dedication to conservation is important now, more than ever.”

What is the smartest trend in luxury safari travel right now?

We are seeing wealthy people – who focused on other things before – now understanding the challenges that a lack of conservation is posing. There is a heightened awareness of the plight of wilderness and wildlife in Africa. But now, high-net worth individuals are committing large personal resources to be part of the solution and solve these challenges – not just financially, but to raise awareness on a broader level.

Before, travelers wanted to be disconnected from the wild and not too close to nature. But now, they want to feel connected to the earth. They are more aware of threats to the environment, and they want the most authentic experiences. That’s why Singita’s Mara River Tented Camp and Explore are popular: off-the-grid and close to nature.

What are you most nervous about when it comes to tourism in Africa?

Population growth – because of it, pristine wilderness areas are diminishing. Also, the mass slaughter of some animal species such as rhino and elephant.

How do you believe Africa’s exploding population will affect tourism and the continent as a whole?

The world’s resources are under increasing pressure – degradation of habitat which has a negative impact on many species – as populations increase. The situation in Africa is dire due to this population pressure and is placing wildlife and land at risk. We have recognized the need to elevate our conservation message – it is more relevant now than ever before. Tourism plays an important role in creating awareness.

What destination in Africa is on your radar?

Definitely the circuit between the gorillas in Rwanda and the Serengeti and the ability to experience that in one trip.

Singita’s conservation efforts are vast and admirable – including projects and commitments in Kruger, Sabi Sand, the Serengeti, and Pamushana. What are the three most effective things Singita does to ensure the future of the African landscape?

  • Manage and protect the ecosystems and wildlife under our care – it is what travelers come to see.
  • Minimize the impact of our tourism on the ecosystems where we operate.
  • Provide economic opportunities and support to the communities around our reserves so that they benefit from, and support, the wildlife-based, land-use that we promote.
SingitaPamushanaLodge
Singita Pamushana Lodge.

You have 12 properties across South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. What attracts you to each region?

We have 12 unique lodges that offer something for everyone, across five different ecosystems in Africa. The wide open plains of the Serengeti allow for beautiful viewing of large herds of game, while the lush bushveld of the Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park create adventure around every corner with surprise viewings of elephants and cats. One of the most dramatic settings is Singita Pamushana:  the majestic baobabs, mopane forests and sandstone outcrops take my breath away every time.

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The Ultimate $100 Travel Beauty Kit http://blog.virtuoso.com/tips-and-trends/ultimate-100-travel-beauty-kit/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/tips-and-trends/ultimate-100-travel-beauty-kit/#respond Wed, 05 Jul 2017 13:49:42 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7975 Insight from the leading edge of sample-size beauty, Birchbox.

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Insight from the leading edge
of sample-size beauty

The pro: Jamie Johns, senior skincare merchant, Birchbox

Travel cred: Johns, who oversees the skincare division for a company that made its name peddling TSA-friendly beauty products, travels a few times a year for work and several more for personal trips. The past year has taken her to Spain, and to South Korea for a K-beauty conference.

In-flight beauty ritual: “If it’s anything longer than a five-hour flight, I try to wipe off my makeup with a cleansing wipe, mist my face, and apply a hydrating mask because the air is so dry. I always bring my own bottle of water as well, because you never get enough water from the flight crew.”

I never leave home without: “I take the following when I’m traveling, but honestly, you’ll find them in my bag any time.”

  • A long book. “On my most recent trip, it was The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.”
  • My iPod. “Yes, I still use an iPod. I need to have every recording by Black Sabbath available to listen to at any given moment.”
  • “As a senior skincare merchant and a very pale person, SPF is key. It’s the best antiaging tool in your beauty regimen, and nothing ruins a vacation like a horrible peeling sunburn.”
  • A notebook. “I have a travel notebook where I keep a list of what I want to see, eat, and do, with plenty of backup options. I’m type A to a fault, even on vacation.”

You should always leave home without: “Full-size anything. It’s
unnecessary and weighs down your luggage.”

If I could take only five products on a trip:

My perfect in-flight amenity kit:

Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes
Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes.
Jart+ Vital Hydra Solution Sheet Mask
Jart+ Vital Hydra Solution Sheet Mask.

My Ultimate $100 travel kit:

“This focuses on skincare because skin is the foundation of any great beauty routine.”

Top Photo: Nova Aleksandra/Getty Images. 

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Summer Vacation Ideas: See an Open-Air Opera, Jet to Cuba, and More http://blog.virtuoso.com/hotels/four-summer-vacation-ideas-see-an-open-air-opera-jet-to-cuba-and-more/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/hotels/four-summer-vacation-ideas-see-an-open-air-opera-jet-to-cuba-and-more/#comments Thu, 29 Jun 2017 13:00:45 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7942 It's officially summer ... and it's officially time for a summer vacation. Here are four great new ideas for a little summer fun from a few Virtuoso hotels.

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It’s officially summer … and officially time for a vacation. If you don’t already have your grand summer adventure planned, these Virtuoso hotels are offering up a few new ideas:

Catch a show at New Mexico’s gorgeous open-air Crosby Theatre.
Opera comes with a view at Santa Fe’s open-air Crosby Theatre, surrounded by the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains. Celebrate the new season – featuring the electronic-music-inspired “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” – with help from the opera concierge at the 58-room Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. The concierge can procure VIP tickets, behind-the-scenes tours, and picnic-basket dinners for preshow tailgating. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.

Your home base for summer opera season: Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

See London while keeping up with your workout routine.
The new Lanesborough Club & Spa takes the 93-room London establishment from an elegant Hyde Park hotel to a full-service urban resort, complete with an 18,000-square-foot wellness wing. Personal trainers, dancers, and yoga instructors lead classes in the gym, which is decked out with Woodway treadmills, Keiser bikes, and boxing gear. Holistic-wellness brand Bodyism provides nutritionists; aesthetician Anastasia Achilleos handles the facials; and chefs for the private dining room prepare low-fat fare. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily, a $100 dining or spa credit, and spa access.

The Lanesborough’s sleek new Club & Spa.

Vacation in the Florida Keys, with a day-trip to Cuba thrown in too.
Key West, Florida’s 40-cottage Sunset Key Cottages has introduced private-jet day trips to Havana. The super-luxe splurge is available for groups of up to six, and itineraries can be completely customized – join a historian for an architectural tour and then visit a cigar factory with a local cigar sommelier, for example. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.

Day-trip adventures in Havana, Cuba. (Photo: Nikada/Getty Images)

Romantic retreat: Have the spa to yourselves under the stars.
Book the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Nevis and stargaze under the Caribbean sky, just you and your partner. For three hours in the evening, the spa transforms into a “Spa Under the Stars” and the couple can enjoy the volcanic-stone whirlpool, a Japanese-inspired cold plunge pool, and steam room. A signature Nevisian massage for two rounds out the evening. The hotel can also book a candle-lit dinner. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 spa or golf credit. 

Four Seasons Resort Nevis.
Four Seasons Resort Nevis.

Top Photo: Sunset Key Cottages

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Have You Been? 19 Amazing Luxury Hotel Pools Around the World http://blog.virtuoso.com/hotels/19-amazing-luxury-hotel-pools-around-the-world/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/hotels/19-amazing-luxury-hotel-pools-around-the-world/#respond Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:30:53 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7912 From the cliffs of Amalfi and Santorini to urban rooftop retreats, here are 19 luxury hotel pools to inspire your wanderlust.

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From the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast and Santorini to urban rooftop retreats and classic palm tree-lined vistas, here are 19 pools at Virtuoso hotels to inspire your wanderlust.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort – Thailand.

(Photo by Joel Centano)

Amangiri – Utah.

(Photo courtesy of Aman)

Belmond Hotel Caruso – Ravello, Italy.

The Beverly Hills Hotel – Los Angeles, California.

Carneros Resort and Spa – Napa, California.

Faena Hotel Buenos Aires – Argentina.

Four Seasons Hotel Seattle – Washington.

Grace Santorini – Greece.

(Photo by Serge Detalle)

The Joule, Dallas – Texas.

(Photo by Eric Laignel)

Le Sereno – Saint Bart’s.

Grace Bay Club, Turks and Caicos.

(Photo courtesy of Grace Bay Club)

Majestic Hotel & Spa – Barcelona, Spain.

(Photo courtesy of Majestic Hotel & Spa)

Post Ranch Inn – Big Sur, Calfornia.

PostRanchInn
(Photo by Korena Bolding Sinnett)

Schloss Elmau – Bavaria, Germany.

Shangri-La at The Shard – London, England.

The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort – French Polynesia.

The Setai – Miami Beach, Florida.

W Vieques – Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

WVieques
(Photo by Melanie Fowler)

Four Seasons Resort Maui – Hawaii.

FourSeasonsResortMaui
(Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui)

Browse all Virtuoso hotels.

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Jean-Michel Cousteau: I felt more comfortable diving than walking in the jungle. http://blog.virtuoso.com/active-adventure/amazon-river-cruising/ http://blog.virtuoso.com/active-adventure/amazon-river-cruising/#respond Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:00:47 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7895 Cousteau will lead talks and excursions, offer videography tips, and screen documentaries on some of the same stretches he filmed on previous expeditions.

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The Aria Amazon plying the river.

Explorer and conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau first saw the Amazon River in 1982, entering its Brazilian delta on Calypso with his famous father and family, and cruising to Iquitos, Peru, where they left the ship and traced the river to its source on the slopes of Mount Mismi. Next year, Cousteau will return to join select four-, five-, and eight-day Aqua Expeditions sailings from Iquitos to lead talks and excursions, offer videography tips, and screen documentaries on some of the same stretches he filmed with his own children in Return to the Amazon, decades after his first trip.

The biggest impression from your initial Amazon expedition: I’m an ocean guy, and I was amazed to see dolphins and turtles all the way to Iquitos. I scuba dived when the water was clear enough, and of course there were all kinds of freshwater fish and some very, very big snakes. These creatures could see me, but they never had any intention of touching me. I felt much more comfortable than when above water or walking in the jungle. 

Very, very big snakes, pshh. What about piranhas? Those little fish just swim away. Being underwater was a great privilege. I hope we will be able to snorkel in a few places.

Why should travelers cruise the Amazon?
To connect with the environment and understand what’s going on. The Amazon represents 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water flowing into the ocean – we need to protect this water system to protect ourselves. 

Thoughts on returning: It’s great to visit a place I have been many times and share with passengers the information that we were able to collect and see how things have changed – to share what’s different, what we are learning, and how we can behave to make sure that from cultural and environmental points of view, we preserve diversity, which is synonymous with stability. 

River wildlife that most fills you with joy: I love the pink river dolphin – it’s unique to the Amazon. They have the ability to swim in rain forests during and after the rains. Other dolphins would get trapped, but pink dolphins can disconnect their bone structures to swim around a tree. It takes a bit of luck to see them – they’re not waiting for you to show up – but I know they’re there.

Cousteau joins sailings on the 32-passenger Aria Amazon February 9 through 16 and October 5 through 12, 2018; from $4,350. He’ll cruise the Mekong River with Aqua on select 2017 and 2018 departures as well.

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Travel Like a Fashion Designer – and How to See Italy in Five Days http://blog.virtuoso.com/europe/rubin-singer/ Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:59:00 +0000 http://blog.virtuoso.com/?p=7875 Fashion designer Rubin Singer on his all-time favorite trips - and how he saw Italy in five days.

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Fashion designer Rubin Singer on his all-time top trips.
RUBIN SINGER FW16
Rubin Singer at his Fall 2016 fashion show.

“I think of myself as the consummate traveler,” Rubin Singer says. “I always have my passport and a travel bag ready to go.” The New York City-based designer got the career boost of a lifetime in 2013 when Beyoncé sashayed onto the Super Bowl halftime stage in his leather-and-lace creation. He’s been busy ever since, continuing his line, dressing stars for the red carpet, presenting a collection at the Ritz Paris, and even staging a runway show on a Lufthansa flight earlier this year. In his downtime, Singer travels widely (Thailand is his favorite destination) and leaves the planning to his husband, Virtuoso travel advisor Carlos Melia. “I couldn’t imagine going anywhere without his advice and guidance,” Singer says. “He makes the experiences so fluid, exciting, and effortless.” Here, a few of his favorite trips:

 

RubinSinger-Thailand
Designer Rubin Singer, with models sporting his creations in Thailand.

 

  • “Above all, the most amazing travel experience I have ever had was when I met my husband and we took the Belmond Eastern and Oriental Express from Bangkok to Singapore. The magic of Belmond and the train was simply divine and totally unforgettable. It was like going back in time to an Agatha Christie novel. The experience was the most incredible five days of my life.”
  • “One of my most memorable trips was a three-week-long trip to China where we visited Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Staying at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing was incredible. The best part was the secret door from the property right into the middle of the gardens of the Summer Palace. Also, visiting the gardens of Hangzhou was particularly amazing.”
Beyonce and Rubin Singer
Beyoncé and Rubin Singer at the 2013 Super Bowl.
  • “Another trip we took was a tour of Italy in five days. I had lived all over Europe and traveled almost everywhere except for Italy. Carlos thought this was unacceptable. Because of my busy work schedule, I only had five days free. He told me he would show me Italy in five days. I thought this would be impossible. It wasn’t. He organized everything so beautifully and seamlessly, from the transfers to the hotels and dinners that we actually got to see Rome, Tuscany, Florence, and Venice in this short time. It was an incredible journey filled with the greatest sites, tastes, and views of Italy: A perfect introduction to a magnificent country.”

Carlos and Rubin’s Whirlwind Italy Intro

RubinSingerCarlosMelia-Venice
Carlos Melia and Rubin Singer sightsee in Venice.

DAY 1: ROME

Hotel: The First Luxury Art Hotel Roma

Dinner at Imàgo at Hotel Hassler

DAY 2: ROME TO FLORENCE

Private car from Rome to Florence through Tuscany with a stop at Relais Borgo Santo Pietro for lunch.

Hotel: Belmond Villa San Michele

Dinner at Belmond Villa San Michele’s La Loggia Restaurant overlooking Florence

DAY 3: FLORENCE

Hotel: Belmond Villa San Michele

Dinner at Il Palagio Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

DAY 4: VENICE

Hotel: Belmond Hotel Cipriani

Dinner at Ristorante Do Forni

DAY 5: HOME

Rubin Singer in Paris.
Rubin Singer in Paris.

Top photo by Ball & Albanese.

The post Travel Like a Fashion Designer – and How to See Italy in Five Days appeared first on The Virtuoso Life.

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