by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
For summer of 2021 and beyond, travel is poised for a comeback and borders are reopening and family vacations top the list. Here are ideas to quench any family’s wanderlust, from avid astronomers to city slickers, from the exotic to the familiar.
For the astronomer family
• Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico, is a prime spot for stargazing due to its minimal light pollution and dry clean air. Each of the rooftop suites at the new Paradero Todos Santos comes with its own telescope to take in the evening’s bounty of stars, galaxies and planets that sparkle across the desert sky.
• On the open-air observation deck at Nayara Alto Atacama, guests check out the most important constellations for the people of the Atacama: the Yacana Llama that runs along the Great River (Milky Way) and the Chacana Cross (Inca Cross) which points to the south. The Atacama Desert’s famously arid atmosphere makes it ideal for stargazing.
• andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia’s Namib Desert abuts a dark sky reserve and has an astronomer on staff to guide guests’ stargazing experiences. Plus, the above-bed sky lights are perfect for spotting shooting stars while drifting off to sleep.
For the birding family
• While most head to Jamaica for its white sandy beaches, birders find an avian playground with over 300 species. Specifically, the Blue Mountains, set 3,100 feet above sea level, are laced with a network of trails for birdwatching among the Jurassic Park-like landscape. Strawberry Hill’s onsite bird expert, Lyndalee Burks, arranges adventures with knowledgeable local guides – think sunrise and sunset treks to see the rare Crested Quail-Dove or Jamaican blackbird.
• With a plethora of birds to check off a list (over 500 species in the area), Nayara Tented Camp’s private naturalist guides can lead family’s on daily birding walks to spot toucans, red-lored parrots, green herons, and ruby throated hummingbirds. Tents can comfortably fit two adults and up to two children, plus there are adjoining tents for bigger groups and older kids.
• All guests at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve receive a Star Birds guide to spot the 400 bird species inhabiting Phinda’s diverse habitats, but passionate birders can book a Birding Safari. One of andBeyond’s guides leads guests on a special game drive to see Rudd’s Apalis, Neergard’s Sunbirds, and Narina Trogons. Phinda Homestead – a stand-alone lodge with four bedrooms – is the perfect private spot for a family.
For the beach bum family
• Families looking for some blue skies and warm sand can make Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla their home-away-from-home. For the utmost privacy, families can book a three-, four-, or five-bedroom private pool villa to experience optimal seclusion. Highlights include a full kitchen with a dining atrium for private meals, direct beach access, and a personal freshwater swimming pool. For guests who stay a month or longer, the property will cover weekly spa treatments, unlimited laundry, daily resort credit, and a dedicated host.
• Jamaica’s GoldenEye, once home to Ian Fleming and the site where he penned all 14 James Bond novels, offers a collection of stand-alone hut, cottage and villa accommodations. Kids can partake in coconut carving and nature walks led by Ramsey DaCosta, Fleming’s former gardener, while adults enjoy cocktails at Firefly, Noel Coward’s hilltop estate and rumored to have been Captain Morgan’s lookout. Mark the occasion by planting a tree on property with a donation to the hotel’s Oracabessa Foundation, which supports the community through a variety of health- and environmentally- focused initiatives.
• Off the coast of Zanzibar, andBeyond Mnemba Island is a private island paradise worthy of screen saver. Families can lounge on the beach in their private beach cabanas, go snorkeling or scuba diving with the local dolphins, take a sunset dhow sailboat ride, or take a day trip to Stone Town and learn about the spice trading history of Zanzibar. The thatched-roof bandas have no doors or windows, just woven shades, creating a true Robinson Crusoe vibe.
• UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa sits on the grassy quadrado (town square) of Trancoso, Brazil. This small town has long attracted artisans and those in the know – Anderson Cooper has a house at UXUA and Solange Knowles honeymooned at the property. Their cool beach bar and quartz-lined pool are supreme lounge spots, and more active family members can try their hands at capoeira – the Brazilian martial art – or meet with Dr. Julian at the UXUA Vida Spa to learn about herbal remedies.
For the history buff family
• The Dupont Circle hotel, is located in Washington DC’s Embassy Row, surrounded by former gilded age mansions of the city’s elite that are now embassies, and is just a 20-minute stroll to the National Mall and its monuments and museums. The Penthouse Suite can be booked as a two bedroom and with its sprawling terrace, living room, and dining area it creates a luxurious home-away-from-home.
• Dromoland Castle was built in the 16th century and has a rich history – from starting as the royal seat of the last kings of Ireland to a Temple of Mercury dedicated to a beloved racehorse who saved the family from financial ruin. Families can try the ancient sport of falconry, golf on the 18-hole golf course, try cocktail making or go foraging with a local guide.
• The magic of Greek mythology still envelopes the Cycladic isles. Mykonos was the home of Aeolus, keeper of the wind. Families can stay in one of the two villas at the soon-to-open Kalesma and catch the sunset over Delos, the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo.
For outdoorsy family
• The Chatwal Lodge is nestled within a 30-acre environmentally protected land in the Catskill region of New York State. Guests enjoy panoramic views of the 1,000-acre Toronto Reservoir Lake, ideal for year-round fly fishing; have access to hiking trails dotted with chestnut trees and water streams; and admire myriad native animals, such as white-tailed deer and nesting bald eagles. Adventurers at heart can opt for a treehouse, raised 25 feet above the ground, or a luxury glam tent.
• Families looking for a breath of fresh air can head to Napa Valley in California wine country and explore the 53,000 acres of preserved land laced with hiking and biking trails through the mountains. Kids can join parents to explore the di Rosa outdoor sculpture park, or visit with miniature horses – Winnie the Pooh, Sweet Jane, and Molly – at Jamieson Ranch Vineyard while parents enjoy a vino tasting. Families can opt to stay at Calistoga Motor Lodge – a roadside 1940’s motel in its past life – which evokes a retro-camping feel with rooms designed to mimic a 1960s VW camper. As an ode to its roots, the property offers throwback in-room amenities such as Polaroid cameras and Etch-a-Sketches that kids will love.
• PONANT, a leader in expedition cruising, takes guests to remote destinations not accessible to larger ships thanks to its moderate size, design and advanced technology. Lead by naturalist guides and experts, expeditions can opt to take time to watch a caving glacier, make a detour to discover a southern white whale, or go ashore to admire a colony of penguins. New this year, PONANT will launch Le Commandant Charcot, a luxury hybrid polar exploration vessel, that will allow adventurous families to reach the true Geographic North Pole and parts of Antarctica that fewer people have stepped foot on the moon.
• With over 300 days of sunshine, Zermatt is definitely a pick for the outdoorsmen. While you can ski 365 days a year in the alpine town, there is plenty to do beyond hitting the slopes, including hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and fly fishing. The iconic Schweizerhof hotel is located on the main thoroughfare of Bahnhofstrasse at the base of the Matterhorn and recently underwent an extensive renovation.
For city slicker family
• Tokyo is the ultimate destination for city lovers – its towering skyline, famously busting crosswalks, jewel box bars, and mix of modern and ancient culture are hypnotic. Park Hyatt Tokyo sits above the city and offers families a haven above the metropolis, especially with older kids. The concierge can book restaurant reservation at in-the-know-only spots and recommend fun stops like Kawaii Monster Café with its rainbow confections, and the whole family can wind down at the hotel with the twice weekly goodnight sleep stretch.
• London has something for everyone in the family from shopping to museum hopping to tasting global cuisines. Centrally located in Mayfair, The Beaumont is the perfect home base to explore all the Big Smoke has to offer. A destination unto itself, the hotel is home to Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley’s inhabitable sculpture called ROOM. Families can even book the entire fifth floor for up to 10 people, with perks including a stocked pantry kitchen, large dining terrace and private elevator access.
• While Paris is known for romance, it’s surprisingly family-friendly, offering myriad parks and museums, not to mention the food – who doesn’t love croissants and baguettes? Overlooking the Trocadero and with unbeatable views of the Eiffel Tower are the 10 La Réserve Paris Apartments. The largest apartment can accommodate up to 10 people, but families could reserve multiple flats for larger groups. The neighborhood is also home to the Bois du Boulogne, the 2,000+ acre forest full of hiking trails and ponds, the Jardin d’Acclimation amusement park and the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Four Seasons Resort Nevis Introduces Sea Turtle Summer Camp Program
NEVIS, WEST INDIES –From June to October, the beaches of Nevis come alive with the scurrying of sea turtles as they come ashore to nest. This summer, Four Seasons Resort Nevis is inviting families and nature lovers to join in the splendor of Nesting Season with the Sea Turtle Summer Camp package.
The special Sea Turtle Summer Camp for guests who stay for seven nights offers family friendly activities including daily marine biology classes and sea turtle-themed arts and crafts experiences; guided nature walks and beach clean-ups; marine-themed dinner and movie nights; family land sports activities, like eco-bio golf; private beach cottage or pool cabana access; sea turtle-inspired baking classes; golf cart, greens fees and club rentals; make your own essential oil or scrub classes at the Spa; and private airport transfers for the whole family.
Guests also receive a Sea Turtle Adoption Kit from the Sea Turtle Conservancy that includes a personalized adoption certificate, a Sea Turtle Conservation Guide, a membership window cling, a sea turtle sticker and bookmark, a hatchling magnet, and a one-year subscription to the Conservancy’s membership publication, all in a keepsake sea turtle folder. Additionally, Four Seasons Resort Nevis makes a $50 donation per booking to the organization.
For more than a decade, the Resort has partnered with the Sea Turtle Conservancy to support cutting edge research and education that contributes to the long-term protection and recovery of endangered sea turtles that call Nevis home.
“One of the most fascinating aspects of the STC’s work is ongoing research to study the migratory movements of ‘critically endangered’ hawksbill sea turtles after they nest in Nevis,” said David Godfrey, Executive Director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “Each year, the partnership between Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the STC aims to educate and create awareness about the protection of these beautiful sea creatures through a joint program that helps researchers study the migration patterns of the endangered species that nest on Nevis’ beaches.”
Three species of sea turtles nest on the shores of Nevis: the Hawksbill, the Leatherback and the Green turtle. These majestic creatures journey hundreds of miles each nesting season to return to the same place where they were hatched and, under the glow of the moonlight, lay the next generation of sea turtles that will one day make the same journey. With only one in 1,000 to 10,000 baby sea turtles surviving to adulthood, the sea turtle conservation program needs to continue tracking and protecting these animals for future generations. To follow the tagged sea turtles, visit ConserveTurtles.org.
Rates start at $2,000 per night (based on double occupancy in an Ocean View room for two adults; additional adults will be charged at $775 and children at $475, ages 5-12). For more information: [email protected], 869-469-6238, visit www.fourseasons.com/nevis/offers,
Time Sensitive Deals on Beach Resorts
The surge in demand for travel as more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 has triggered a rise in hotel rates and “sold out” signs. Here are some of the top, time-sensitive deals on beach resorts from Mexico, Belize, Bahamas to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean:
Alaia Belize, Ambergris Caye, Belize: The newly opened Alaia Belize (first Marriott International hotel in Belize) is offering an Un-Belize-Able Offer with special rates on the Vista Studio King Room, starting at $299. Enjoy a new level of luxury in La Isla Bonita with first-of-its-kind experiences (first rooftop suspended pool in Belize, over 1,000 feet of beachfront access, only luxury resort in Belize with a dive shop). The Un-Belize-Able offer is a 20% discount from best available rate on all categories. For stays now through November 18, 2021, and is available to book through July 31, 2021.
Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, in Willemstad, Curaçao, known as an undiscovered gem of the southern Caribbean. The resort is nestled among six acres of pristine beach front and is one of the most stunning properties on the island. Enjoy, “Stay Longer, Save More” – book 4 nights or more and get 10% off pool view, or book 7 nights or more and get 15% off pool view (booking window now until July 5th, 2021, travel window now until September 6th, 2021). The hotel is offering COVID testing on site to ensure all travelers a safe and enjoyable visit.
Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico, Rio Grande: Framed against the backdrop of the nation’s only tropical rainforest, the resort’s Romance Package includes breakfast for two, bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Two-night minimum stay and available to book through April 30, 2022. Couples can explore the waterfalls in El Yunque National Rainforest, kayak in one of the three bioluminescent bays on the island, stroll through the streets of Old San Juan and see American history firsthand by touring the 18th century fortress Castillo San Cristóbal in nearby San Juan.
Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, Miches, Dominican Republic. The first and only resort in the undiscovered region of Miches – and Club Med’s only Exclusive Collection (5-star) resort in North America –is offering 45% off stays when booking through Club Med’s Splash into Summer Sale, open for bookings now through June 30, 2021 with select travel dates from now to December 17, 2021. Additional perks including free upgrade to a water view room and free stays for kids under 4. The eco-chic resort offers plenty of room to roam (93 acres!) and enjoy a luxury experience wrapped in an all-inclusive vacation with unlimited culinary options, four boutique villages specializing in wellness, adventure, kid-friendly, and adults-only concepts, and must-try family experiences from treetop yoga and flying trapeze to discovering a Secret Chocolate Room – a first-of-its-kind kid’s speakeasy featuring unlimited sweets crafted with locally-sourced cocoa. Additional participating resorts in Club Med’s Splash into Summer Sale include Club Med Punta Cana and Club Med Turkoise.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas: This oceanfront oasis offers 1,000 acres of ample outdoor space, 40+ international dining options, and 1,800 spacious rooms with waterfront views. Guests can soak up the sun in a private cabana alongside one of seven elaborate pools, enjoy treatments at the 30,000-square-foot ESPA Spa, partake in a round of golf on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf course, or enjoy a unique flamingo yoga class in Flamingo Cay. When booking now through June 30, 2021, travelers will receive a 4th night free for every 3 nights booked, plus $100 resort credit, for travel through September 30, 2021.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico: One of Riviera Maya’s most exclusive five-star eco resorts, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, recently underwent a $50 million expansion debuting 34 private Beachfront Pool Suites, new Sands Beach Club with seven over-the-water Lagoon Sunset Pool Villas soon to come. With the resort’s Blissful Escape deal, guests can book a private pool villa at Banyan tree Mayakoba this summer and receive exclusive benefits including up to 20% off the best available rate, two complimentary bicycles per villa during the stay, fresh fruit & bottled water and more.
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