Posts Tagged Caribbean
Spanning land, sea, sky, and even space, Virtuoso offers memorable experiences no matter what the destination. The April/May issue of its VIRTUOSO TRAVELER magazine highlights “29 Experiences of a Lifetime,” which can be brought to life by Virtuoso travel advisors together with the network’s preferred travel providers. Virtuoso also includes insider tips from some of its most knowledgeable advisors, ensuring travelers get the most from their global escapades.
These enticing experiences offer something for everyone, from adventure (African safari), to magic (David Copperfield’s private island), to the ultra-romantic (tango for two in Buenos Aires after touring the breathtaking Iguazú Falls). No matter the destination, travelers can be assured that Virtuoso’s advisors have extensive product and destination knowledge, and often firsthand experience, as is the case with Buenos Aires, where Virtuoso recently hosted 135 advisors during its Symposium. These travel professionals left Buenos Aires with a greater understanding of what the city and region offer, a tangible benefit to their clients wishing to go.
These 29 memorable experiences align with Virtuoso’s 2013 Luxe Report, a survey in which the network’s 7,200 travel advisors provided insight into where, when and how travelers will go next. When discovering what motivates luxury travelers, Virtuoso advisors report that clients want to explore new destinations; seek authentic experiences; rest and relax; spend time and reconnect with loved ones; gain personal enrichment; and seek adventures.
Tapping into its impressive portfolio of more than 1,700 world’s-best travel providers, Virtuoso has selected 29 defining opportunities to motivate would-be travelers. The Top-Ten Virtuoso “Experiences of a Lifetime” include:
- Hiking in Bhutan: Nomadic Expeditions takes travelers to Taktsang (“Tiger’s Nest”) Monastery, perched 2,000 feet above the Paro Valley in the Himalayan Mountains of Bhutan in a ten-day private journey. Available throughout 2013. From $6,395.
- Seeing the Northern Lights: Iceland Encounter’s five-day adventure includes seeing the aurora borealis while offering the chance to dogsled and walk onto Sólheimajökull Glacier. Available between September 15, 2013, and March 31, 2014. From $2,950.
- Wine Tasting with a Master: The five-day tailor-made tour from Découvertes includes a sampling of wines from a 35,000-bottle cellar with one of Paris’ master sommeliers. Available through December 31, 2013. From $8,460.
- Escaping to a Private Island: Make magic with a stay at David Copperfield’s private Caribbean island, Musha Cay. The illusionist even autographs a special memento for Virtuoso clients. Valid through December 31, 2013. From $37,500 per day for up to 12 guests staying a minimum of four nights.
- Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef: Orion Expedition Cruises takes water enthusiasts on a six-day voyage to the world’s largest reef. Departs December 8, 2013. From $3,640.
- Dancing with the Masai: Nature enthusiasts traveling with Micato Safaris track wild animals in the bush and explore the cultures of Africa, visiting and dancing with members of the Masai Tribe. Weekly departures available throughout 2013. From $11,740.
- Tangoing the Night Away: Excursionists with Abercrombie & Kent can learn the national dance in Buenos Aires after touring Iguazú Falls. Available throughout 2013. From $5,995.
- Floating in the Dead Sea: Guests of the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea can trek in Petra, dune-buggy in the Wadi Rum, and, of course, swim in the waters of the Dead Sea. A $100 spa credit is just for Virtuoso clients. Valid through December 31, 2013. Contact a Virtuoso travel advisor for pricing.
- Getting Up Close on Easter Island: The mysterious South Pacific island is home to hundreds of moai, monolithic stone giants. The explora Rapa Nui-Posada de Mike Rapu is the perfect base from which to adventure and provides Virtuoso clients with handcrafted keepsakes. Valid through December 31, 2013. Three- and four-night stays from $2,415 and $3,220 per person, respectively.
- Living Like a Catalan: Hosted Villas offers families the opportunity to bond in the Spanish countryside, whether perched over the ocean or situated on a farm complete with horses and chickens. A Virtuoso travel advisor can arrange the ideal stay.
The remaining 19 experiences can be found at http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/virtuoso/traveler_20130405/index.php?startid=48.
To learn more about or book one of these experiences, contact Virtuoso at 855.570.3830 or by visiting www.virtuoso.com.
Virtuoso’s four newest additions to the esteemed Hotels & Resorts program are all unique luxury properties. Two of them are outstanding for their settings of peaceful natural beauty, and two of them offer thoroughly modern accommodations and service in distinctive historic buildings. Discover why these properties are worth booking and how, when you book with a Virtuoso travel advisor, you will benefit from the exclusive amenities they offer.
Mashpi Lodge, Mashpi Reserve, Ecuador
The contemporary, sophisticated and intimate Mashpi Lodge – located three hours northwest of Ecuador’s capital, Quito – provides the perfect base for nature adventures amid its 1,300-hectare private reserve, part of the highly biodiverse Andean rainforest known as the Chocó. The 22-suite lodge – built with the latest in low-impact techniques – will delight guests who seek to discover this world while enjoying creature comforts, fine dining, an extensive wine list and fantastic service. The Lodge is perfect for families, nature lovers, and well-travelled guests with distinguished tastes who think they have seen it all. Virtuoso guests receive a $100 credit for treatments in the Wellness Area.
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Dorado, Puerto Rico
With its serene coastline and palm-fringed beaches under the Caribbean sun, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a tropical enclave. Situated on three miles of coastline with 1,400 acres of natural beauty, the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the Americas offers a remarkable luxury retreat, including 115 spacious accommodations directly on the beach, a restaurant by José Andrés, a five-acre Spa Botánico, an eco-adventure program by Jean Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment and three championship golf courses. Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve creates memories that will last a lifetime. The Virtuoso amenities are an American breakfast for two, $150 resort credit and upgrade at check-in upon availability.
Monastero Santa Rosa & Spa, Conca dei Marini, Italy
A 17th-century former monastery perched on cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, Monastero Santa Rosa is the Amalfi Coast’s newest gem. More than a decade was spent transforming the property into a boutique luxury hotel with 20 unique rooms and suites, as well as a restaurant with coastal views and a full-service spa. Secret gardens, canopied lounge chairs, and rooms with soaking tubs make the resort an ideal romantic getaway, while an infinity pool, 24-hour room service, and attentive staff make it perfect for any occasion. Virtuoso amenities include a welcome drink and fruit basket in room on arrival, three-course lunch or dinner for two, and a 50 Euro spa credit per room with a minimum three-night stay.
The Ritz-Carlton Vienna, Austria
Enter a world of history, contemporary design and impeccable service. The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna (Austria) is an elegant building composed of four former palaces from the 19th century and is located in the heart of the city with breathtaking views of Vienna’s landmarks from its rooms and rooftop bar. This truly unique property combined with our personal service will make your stay a memorable experience. Virtuoso guests receive an upgrade on arrival (subject to availability), continental daily breakfast for two guests and a € 85.00 food and beverage credit (not applicable for alcohol, in-room dining or mini bar).
Virtuoso amenities are only available when you book through your Virtuoso travel advisor. Don’t have a travel advisor? Find one here.
In the 2013 Virtuoso Best of the Best directory, you’ll meet an impressive array of hotels and resorts.
Virtuoso Best of the Best, winner of the 2012 Maggie award for Best Consumer Guide, is the perfect tool to help you plan extraordinary experiences in dream destinations. These properties have been thoroughly evaluated to ensure your stay will be exceptional. And Virtuoso travel advisors have provided tips throughout the guide to help you plan your travel experiences.
When you book through a Virtuoso travel advisor, you’ll enjoy exclusive amenities including breakfast for two daily and value-added extras like guaranteed room upgrades, resort credits and complimentary meals.
Annual Best of the Best Award Winners
The hotels receiving special accolades from Virtuoso travel advisors for 2012
New hotels offering exclusive access to Virtuoso travelers
Virtuoso Villas & Private Retreats
Unique accommodations in remarkable destinations
Virtuoso Travel Advisor Tip: Renting a villa is a special experience for sophisticated travelers. You can immerse yourself in a destination, bond with companions and live like a local while still enjoying luxurious accommodations.
Africa & Middle East
Dine on a rooftop overlooking Jerusalem or enjoy butler service in a luxury tent in Kenya
Virtuoso Travel Advisor Tip: If you are visiting the wine country of Franschhoek, a “must do” is a visit to Haute Cabrière Estate. Learn to open a bottle of exquisite champagne the old-fashioned way . . . by sabre! A delightful afternoon of sampling great wines and snacking on wonderful hors d’oeuvres awaits.
Asia & Pacific
View Hong Kong from a rose petal bath or make an overwater bungalow your home in Tahiti
Virtuoso Travel Advisor Tip: Particularly in Asian countries, it is always best for travelers to wear slip-on shoes while touring, as it is very much the custom to remove shoes when entering shrines and buildings.
Canada & United States
Settle into a cliff-top Big Sur abode or view wildlife right outside your door in Alberta
Caribbean & Bermuda
Drift into reverie on Anguilla’s white sands or swim with dolphins in Bermuda
Virtuoso Travel Advisor Tip: Bermuda offers awe-inspiring pink sand beaches, world-famous golf courses and fabulous resorts with amenities to pamper you each day. A ferry or scooter is a great way to get around on this small, beautiful island.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Dine upon acclaimed cuisine in Monte Carlo or luxuriate in a beachside villa on Crete
Virtuoso Travel Advisor Tip: April is a great time to visit Italy. It is the heart of spring, but you can still get ‘shoulder season’ rates at most hotels. In general, rates increase at the beginning of May.
Mexico, Central & South America
Learn Spanish in Cozumel, sip premium coffee in Costa Rica or find eco-luxury in Peru
Virtuoso Travel Advisor Tip: You’ll find riding horseback in Peru to be very interesting and truly delightful, even if you’ve ridden countless times in other countries. The horses just seem to have a different mentality, which is especially noticeable when they canter. It’s something that must be experienced!
New York, New York
Index of Attributes & Amenities
Useful information including number of rooms and sought-after amenities
Presenting the Newest Best of the Best
Introducing the latest hotels and resorts to join the Virtuoso network
Find out more about using a Virtuoso Travel Advisor for your next trip.
From world-class restaurants to local specialties, memorable meals can be a destination in and of themselves for travelers. Virtuoso suppliers have responded to the growth in culinary travel by transforming mealtime into an unforgettable experience. These three properties have created innovative programs to make delicious cuisine a true adventure.
Executive Chef Fabrice Guisset at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico found that many guests enjoyed cooking and sharing favorite recipes. He also noted the popularity of cooking competition shows such as “Top Chef.” Thus the “Challenge the Chef” game was born.
This light-hearted competition gives guests the opportunity to cook any dish they wish under the tutelage of a chef. Guests begin the game with a pre-meal consultation. Then on the evening of the event, the guest prepares the dish in an open kitchen on the property. “It is the perfect time for guests to prepare their famous dishes with help of equipment and ingredients that are generally not available in a home kitchen,” explains Guisset.
After tasting the results, Guisset gives pointers on ingredients, preparation and presentation so that guests can improve their culinary prowess. The most common mistake? Guisset says it’s an unbalanced dish, such as one that’s too sweet or salty.
Guest chefs receive a “Challenge the Chef” diploma and a shot at culinary stardom: winning dishes are added to the resort menu for a week with the guest’s name. Mouthwatering past winners include a double pork chop roasted with fettuccine cake and port-glazed onion, and fish with prosciutto and mango chutney. The service is $130 for set-up and $85 per person.
At the Virtuoso-exclusive property Four Seasons Resort Nevis, guests can go a step beyond preparation and catch their own meal. The “Dive and Dine” experience gives certified divers the opportunity to search for their own lobsters in the warm Caribbean waters.
Guests are taken by boat to hotspots for hunting the elusive lobsters, where the Nevisian crew helps divers capture their dinner using traditional methods. British author Dominic Midgley recently tried the experience and noted, “Lobsters may not look like the cheetahs of the sea but when someone tries to lasso them with twine on a stick they can move with lightning speed, when…it’s safely in the dive master’s net bag there’s a real sense of achievement.”
The day’s catch is prepared for a private beach dinner, where guests can take turns slathering on sauces and picking up tips at the grill. Meals feature in-season ingredients, such as fresh mango glaze. Created as an over-the-top luxury experience, the service costs $1,950 for the first two people and $500 for each additional one.
For guests looking for an easier route to delicious cuisine, the Hotel Arts Barcelona in Spain, another Virtuoso-exclusive property, offers a new Michelin dining program. “Many disciples of [famed Spanish chef] Ferran Adria have started their own restaurants, and increasing the popularity of the region amongst foodies,” explains hotel representative Lorriane Lacy. In response to this growing enthusiasm, the hotel gives guests VIP access to the region’s top restaurants by making lunch reservations and providing quick, luxurious transportation via helicopter.
The journey begins with a five-minute transfer from the hotel to a heliport, then a scenic flight of 45 minutes to an hour. It includes a bird’s eye tour of Barcelona with glimpses of famous sites such as Sagrada Familia and Montjuïc. The rest of the journey could include sweeping views of coastal Catalan towns and beaches or rocky inland landscapes.
Part of the program’s appeal is the guaranteed reservations at some of the most sought-after tables in the region, where access usually takes months to arrange. Guests may choose among the two and three-star rated restaurants El Celler, Miramar and Les Cols, enjoying avant-garde tasting menus and artistic creations such as fresh tomatoes and caviar drizzled with olive oil and quail egg tempura. All for $4,923 per couple.
These hotel stays, and other unique hotel experiences, are best when planned by your Virtuoso Travel Advisor. Don’t have an advisor? Click here to find out more.
By air, by sea, or by land; pick your passion, pack your PJ’s and climb aboard as Virtuoso Traveler takes you on a global journey. Explore India in style, cruise the Caribbean, go glacier mushing in Alaska, or tip a pint in Ireland. Still not sure where to go? Take a pop-quiz to discover your ultimate weekend getaway.
Pick Your Continent – Page 18: Change your worldview with these life-altering adventures around the globe.
Hassle-free Holy Land – Page 34: Middle East travel is a breeze on an all-inclusive cruise.
India in Style – Page 46: From personalized yoga lessons overlooking the Taj Mahal to a private dinner in a royal palace, a bespoke journey in the Land of Maharajahs enlivens the senses.
Plus – Why Do It Yourself – Page 4: How one travel advisor turned a Father’s send-off for his Europe-bound son into an unforgettable family vacation.
For more about Virtuoso, check out www.virtuoso.com.
What’s the perfect age for a Disney cruise you may ask? My son and daughter would say six and eight years old, but my husband and I would counter that 48 and 49 are pretty good ages too!
We sailed on the new Disney Fantasy for its three-night Preview sailing, March 26 – 29, for Travel Industry professionals and media. We enjoyed a day at Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay, a day at sea and back to Pt. Canaveral.
The ship has 14 decks; capacity for 4,000 guests, over 1450 cast/crew Members, and awesome kids program and facility and is absolutely beautiful from top to bottom.
The Fantasy, sister ship to the Dream was built with families in mind and it shows at every turn. When we arrived on board, they announced our family’s arrival to everyone in the atrium lobby “Please Welcome the Zanatta Family” – there were many of the Disney Characters in the atrium area for photos and autographs. This is a true highlight to have such great access to the characters and was my daughter’s favorite part of the cruise. The “big five” as the very personable cruise staff called them, are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto and we saw them all!
There are three main dining rooms all with very different themes and menus and guests rotate to have the opportunity to experience each one; the Animator’s Palate, the Enchanted Garden and Royal Court. Our favorite was the Animators Palate. When you arrive to your table there is a placemat and a colored marker with instructions on how you need to draw within the lines to create your character (kind of a stick figure type layout). My son made sure his had the word “Seattle” across his character’s chest so he could easily spot it later in the evening. Our server collected our drawings early in the meal and at the end of the evening, our simple drawings were given life on the giant screens around the dining room dancing with your favorite Disney Characters to well known music and scenes from your favorite Disney movies.
The entertainment on board was true Disney filled with the songs and characters we all love. A particular favorite was the Pirate party evening on the upper deck with Captain Jack Sparrow and fellow pirates. Captain Jack was perched at the top of the highest deck and was “shot” down and landed inches before the deck stating in his Captain Jack drawl “did everyone see that that because I won’t be doing it again.”
The highlight for my son was the AquaDuck a 765-foot water slide ride through a clear acrylic tube that goes out over the ocean, around the ship and spans down 4 decks.
We enjoyed every minute of our sailing and are looking forward to sailing again.
This and other family travel excursions are best planned with the help of a Virtuoso member travel advisor. Click here to learn more about working with an advisor of your own.
Virtuoso Life’s Associate Art Director Korena Bolding reports on her Caribbean getaway.
The Turks and Caicos have been at the top of my ‘must-visit’ list for years. When an unexpected break in my schedule allowed a quick getaway, I decided it would be the perfect time to check this destination off my list.
While I’m not one to lay idle by the pool for very long, rumor had it that at Grace Bay Club you could easily do nothing for an entire week. The rumor proved true. I needed nothing more than the stretch of soft white sand and eye-popping blue water outside my door.
Grace Bay Club is known for their incredible service and perfect location. (When I say incredible service, I mean INCREDIBLE!) I experienced both firsthand. When I arrived, my personal concierge, Boda, greeted me with a mobile phone and encouraged me to call him any time with any request no matter how great or small. I filled my week with floating in the newly opened adults-only pool, doing yoga on the pool deck at sunrise, and shopping in the resort’s chic and well-curated boutique. I rode to town on a cruiser bicycle to visit the fantastic home accessories boutique Belongings and, of course, lounged on the famed red beach beds where attendants bring by complimentary treats such as fresh watermelon sorbet.
Thierry Grandsire, Grace Bay’s outstanding general manager, hosted me and other Virtuoso advisors on a property tour (the Estate Penthouse Residence is jaw-dropping) and a lovely beachside dinner with our own private chef.
My favorite experience: One morning I took a long walk down the beach on a serious (OK, obsessive) hunt for a conch shell. I stumbled upon an area that was a seashell treasure chest. I spent hours combing through shells, admiring and photographing them.
I’m the type of traveler who doesn’t want to repeat a destination because there are too many places to explore. However, the Turks and Caicos has a spot on my return list and I highly recommend it.
You can read more about Grace Bay Club in the March/April issue of Virtuoso Life.
If you think an experienced traveler would be passé about a world cruise (“been there, done that”), Virtuoso Chairman Jesse Upchurch would prove you wrong. A 50+ year veteran of the travel industry and founder of several travel companies, Upchurch has traveled the world many times over; at times calling places like Botswana and Mexico City home.
Now he’s helping Crystal and Virtuoso’s Voyager Club program celebrate their 20th anniversaries by serving as the honorary host of the Virtuoso Chairman’s Cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity – and he’s blogging about his experiences.
“I have been looking forward to this day for quite some time, and I was not disappointed,” Jesse writes about the day the Crystal Serenity left Miami for its 108-day journey around the world.
The ship will cruise the Caribbean, South America, South Africa, India, the Middle East, the Baltic region, and the Mediterranean before arriving in Southampton, England. For Jesse, it’s a chance to revisit some destinations he hasn’t seen for decades. Catch his daily experiences on his blog, and you’ll see the world from the unique perspective of a travel industry legend. Click here to follow Jesse’s voyage.