Interview with Himalayan Shepherds Trilogy: Adventure Seekers Puerto Rico | Antarctica | Peru Australia’s New Underwater Museum Summer in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Something Completely Different FALL 2022 Clickable Digital Edition
What makes a vacation worth it?
Did the trip take you outside of your normal routine?
Did you forget about life back home for a while?
Did you meet new people who rocked your world view?
Have you told friends and even strangers about your trip?
Were there pleasant surprises that still make you smile?
By tailoring the trip to your preferences, polishing every detail before you go, and surprising you with added value—we ensure you’ll have the time of your life and return safely home again, exhilarated and yearning for more.
The Edge of the World, one of Saudi’s most popular tourist destinations, got its nickname from the uninterrupted view of the horizon it offers. Read more about what Saudi has to offer, One Jeddawi Summer, page 19. Photo: Getty Images
14 The Awesome Force of Tabacón
Darcy Rhyno and his wife find renewal at the base of a Costa Rican volcano
19 One Jeddawi Summer
Jonathan Delise recalls a summer spent in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea por t
25 An Artful Dive In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
Jessica Lockhart dives in to help bring back the world’s largest reef
31 How to Island Like a Billionaire
Alesandra Dubin hones her tropical destination radar on remote Canouan
51 Custodians of the Himalayas
Karthika Gupta delves into the world of real-life Himalayan shepherds
Trilogy: Adventure Seekers
Antarctica I Ice Camping
Puerto Rico I Surfing with Electric Hydrofoil Surfboards
Peru I Trekking with Llamas, Peru's Cutest Hiking Guides
DEPARTMENTS 3 From the Editor 3 Contributors 4 TRENDY: Namaste on Vacay 6 SAVVY: Global Perspectives 8 INSPIRED: Packing Guide 48 City Spotlight: Shine on Detroit 25 48 51 42 19 31 14 8 45
EDITOR IN CHIEF Kimberly Buerkle
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Nancy Hellmrich
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laura Torrisi
DESIGN & PRODUCTION Torrisi Design Associates
An Ensemble Travel® Group Publication
Ensemble Vacations® is a publication of Ensemble Travel® Group
© September 2022 Ensemble Travel, Inc. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher.
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As I sit writing this, my son is away on his first international trip. He’s exploring the island of Aruba and absolutely loving it. I’m not ashamed to admit that every exuberant text or snorkeling photo he sends brings tears of joy to my eyes.
This remarkable young man dove head-first into a completely different world without blinking an eye. In honor of my young travel bug, I’m dedicating this issue to getting outside our comfort zones, and remembering what it’s like to jump without knowing where we’ll land.
Thanks to some very plucky travelers, this issue includes stories that go beyond the norm—camping on Antarctica, a secret Caribbean island, summer in Jeddah, nomadic Himalayan shepherds, and a museum in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Alesandra Dubin, Bryan Shelmon, Carole Rosenblat, Chris Ryall, Darcy Rhyno, Iuliana Marchian, Jessica Wynne Lockhart, Jonathan DeLise, Karthika Gupta, Liana Lozada, Lola Mendez, Nancy Hellmrich, Robin Catalano, Sarah Sekula
Cover Photo: Grenada - Underwater sculptor and British environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor
Submissions: Got a travel story you’d like to share? Send your pitch to KBuerkle@EnsembleTravel.com
Plus, top travel trends, insights, and sage advice on what to pack and what to leave room for when you embark on a “completely different” vacation.
As always, your expert advisor is standing by to help you put together your own breakthrough vacation, with value-added extras, amenities, and discounts that make your travels even sweeter.
Here’s to fresh horizons in 2023.
Kim Buerkle, Editor KBuerkle@EnsembleTravel.com
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 3
This summer, planeloads of Americans flew with exuberance to Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and all those delicious Mediterranean isles. We ignored emails, soaked up the sun, drank the wine, and finally got around to laissez-faire dinners after 10 o’clock at night. Instead of diving back into work with renewed vigor when we got home, we decided to savor the vacation afterglow.
That’s right. After years of admiring la dolce vita from afar –and wishing we could “work to live” rather than “live to work” – Americans seem to be making the collective decision to partake of the sweet life.
We’re opening up to the world Set in the AlUla region of Saudi Arabia, Hegra, the kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, is attracting quite a bit of attention. Boasting more than 100 ancient Nabataean tombs carved into monolithic sandstones, visitors are also enjoying a labyrinthian old town, zip lines, a via ferrata climbing walkway, helicopter tours, cycling, and mind-blowing stargazing.
#WadiAlFann, AlUla’s new contemporary art destination, will soon be the permanent home of five site-specific art installations from: @manaldowayan, @agnesdenes, Michael Heizer, @ahmedmater, and @jamesturrell. Bonus, there’s a new Banyan Tree desert hotel opening in AlUla in late 2022. Sharaan by Jean Nouvel, a hotel carved into the desert, is expected to open sometime in 2024.
What’s trending in travel right now? Keeping the positive vibes flowing.
Banyon Tree Desert Hotel
Hegra, Saudi Arabia
MUSIC MUSIQUE RECIPE RECETTE
4 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
We’re staying away longer Legendary Journeys from Regent Seven Seas feature 63-83 night itineraries, including: Grand Arctic Adventure, Grand European Sojourn, Grand Asia Exploration, and Grand Spice Route Quest. Holland America Line’s Grand Voyages circumnavigate the world over 128 days. #outtahere
Global tour operator Collette offers a 22-day Australia & New Zealand Uncovered tour. Their 27-day Complete South Pacific tour has an optional 3-day extension in Fiji. Aboard Oceania Cruises, “the single most indemand voyage” is apparently their 35-day circumnavigation of Australia
We’re taking more creative cruises
New specialty sailings with AmaWaterways include golf, ancestry, Latin Touch sailings and a Soulful Epicurean Experience Uniworld is offering 10-day mystery cruises. Norwegian is hosting a “Rock N Wrestling Rager at Sea.” Holland America has a knitting cruise, as well as a Soul Train cruise featuring big name R&B legends.
We’re eyeing new ports of call A major renovation of the port in Nassau, Bahamas, is expected to be completed in early 2023. Carnival Cruise Line’s new Grand Bahama Cruise Port should be ready for us in late 2024. Disney’s Lighthouse Point is expected to welcome ships in 2024 as well. Also coming soon: Port Coral, a brand new “fully Belizean-owned” port, and Royal Caribbean’s new Perfect Day at Lelepa, on a small island in Vanuatu.
We’re traveling for wellness
Alexa, put “mitochondrial training” on my to-do list. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism is expected to “grow rapidly in the coming years.” So it’s no surprise that modern resorts and cruise ships are offering exotic, physician-guided medispa experiences that go beyond Botox to include: tongue and pulse analysis, full moon gong baths, IV lounges, lymph boosts, and (yup) mitochondria stimulating Cell Gyms.
We’re embracing the chill factor
Club Med opened four new all-inclusive resorts in 2021 in the Seychelles, Lijiang, Québec, and La Rosière. Seventeen more are in the works, including Club Med Utah, a five-star, year-round extravaganza—their first new U.S. resort in over 20 years. Up along the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten Norway’s Svalbard Express and North Cape Express cruises begin in June 2023, one month prior to the company’s 130-year anniversary.
We’re connecting with the stars
This November in Fort Lauderdale, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles will christen Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Beyond. While we’re namedropping … Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink is being tested aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas. Word is, connection speeds are out of this world.
Club Med, Seychelles
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 5
Insights and viewpoints from around the world.
One glance at world news and it’s hard not to notice that international relations are changing. New leaders are being sworn-in in Colombia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Israel, even Vanuatu. Nepal has called an election. Chile is finalizing a fresh constitution. With all this change comes new travel protocols.
Domestically, a Real ID driver’s license or passport will be required for travel in the USA (Yes, even if you have TSA PreCheck®.) One bonus of this, is that new airport ID scanning tech will automatically link to our boarding passes, making TSA transit easier and breezier.
Planning a trip to Europe? Starting in 2023, the 26 members of Europe’s Schengen Zone will require U.S. residents to register with the European Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS) prior to entry. ETIAS approval lasts for three years. And in the Middle East, U.S. residents can now qualify for one year, multiple entry visas to Saudi Arabia.
Costa Rica’s digital nomad visas have finally been approved. Remote workers and their families will be allowed to stay for up to two years. Securing visitor visas just got easier for U.S. residents traveling to Egypt and the Republic of Kenya. Both nations now have electronic
eVisa portals, making it convenient to apply for and receive the precious documents prior to a trip.
Japan re-opened to tourism this summer. Residents of the U.S. must have visas obtained through accredited travel agencies. Daily visitor entries (from all countries) are limited to 20,000. And, here’s the kicker, travelers must be part of an organized group tour run by a certified tour operator. If all that sounds like too much, consider the fact that Japan is tied with France & Monaco for the most Michelin starred restaurants (30). #totallyworthit
In the remote category, Aruba just launched the myAruba smartphone app, making it easy for travelers to explore the island. Even more far out, those keen to see the world from an entirely new angle will be happy to hear that Space Perspective is taking reservations for Spaceship Neptune flights starting in 2025.
6 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
SAVVY INTERVIEW ENTREVUE MUSIC MUSIQUE RECIPE RECETTE COCKTAIL COCKTAIL BOOK LIVRE VIDEO VIDÉO INTERVIEW MUSIC RECIPE COCKTAIL BOOK
Ship category: Mid-size ship 300–799 cabins From August 2022 Travel + Leisure R , 2022 Travel + Leisure Holdco, LLC, a subsidiary of Wyndham Destinations, Inc. Travel + Leisure is published by TI Inc. Affluent Media Group, a subsidiary of Meredith Operations Corporation. Meredith Operations Corporation is not affiliated with Wyndham Destinations, Inc. or its subsidiaries. All rights reserved. Travel + Leisure R is a registered trademark of Travel + Leisure Holdco, LLC, a subsidiary of Wyndham Destinations, Inc. and is used under limited license. Viking Cruises is not affiliated with Wyndham Destination, Inc. or its subsidiaries. CST# 2052644-40 WHEN YOU ARE NAMED #1 ON RIVERS… AND #1 ON OCEANS, WHERE DO YOU GO NEXT? ON WARDS. Contact your Travel Advisor. #1 Rivers & Oceans INTERVIEW ENTREVUE MUSIC MUSIQUE VIDEO VIDÉO
➊ Matching Kenny Flowers vacation outfits ➋ LARQ self-cleaning insulated water bottle ➌ Earth-friendly Cariuma 4Ocean touring sneakers ➍ Apple Air Tags to keep track of your stuff ➎ Moscot CLIPZEN clip-on sunglasses ➏ Para’Kito DEET-free bug repellent wristbands ➐ Sherpäni anti-theft Sling Bag ➊ ➋ ➍ ➐ ➎ ➏ ➌ INSPIRED
➊ ➌ ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 9 ➊ A secret stash of handmade Brazilian chocolates ➋ A hand-dyed sarong for forever vacation vibes ➌ An Aboriginal dot painting (signed by the artist, of course) ➍ Custom-mixed pure organic Costa Rican botanical oils ➎ A handsewn ka an from a little shop by the Red Sea ➏ That one-of-a-kind Moroccan silver tea set you just have to have ➐ The complimentary parka from your Antarctic expedition ➏ ➍ ➎ ➐ ➋
To book your most magical Walt Disney World vacation, contact us today! ©Disney 2867701 Come celebrate and make memories that last a lifetime. The Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary celebration ends March 31, 2023 so don’t miss your chance to celebrate! INSERT INFORMATION HERE INTERVIEW ENTREVUE MUSIC MUSIQUE RECIPE RECETTE COCKTAIL COCKTAIL VIDEO VIDÉO
A Wish Brings Reunion and Renewal
As we stepped into the Grand Hall a booming voice announced, “The Disney Wish welcomes aboard Carole and Chris!” I was overwhelmed with a mix of emotions—excitement, familiarity, and trepidation. It was the first time I’d been back on board a Disney ship since leaving my job as Manager of Youth Activities on the Disney Dream and Disney Wonder to pursue work out in the real world.
I’d been invited as part of the press contingent to attend the christening of the Disney Wish, their first new ship in ten years. I had asked Chris, a friend and tour guide I’d all but lost touch with, to come along as my guest. We were both excited to reconnect and experience the new ship. But, after several months of challenging volunteer work, I was
by CAROLE ROSENBLAT
Credit: Carole Rosenblat
Photos Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line ®
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 11
Unless Otherwise Specified
also in need of a little magic. Chris and I met at the Orlando airport, got caught up, then checked into Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, to get some rest before what was sure to be a busy few days.
A christening is a special moment for a cruise line. After all the years of work – by architects, engineers, designers, financiers, construction workers, crew members, Imagineers, and show writers scattered between Orlando, Los Angeles, and the shipyard in Germany – this floating palace was finally on display.
Crossing the bridge over A1A to Port Canaveral, there was a buzz in the press bus as the white-topped, navy blue hull with its distinctive “Mickey shoe yellow” lifeboats came into view. On arrival, we were led into the terminal where sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres, Champagne, and lemonade awaited; then out to bleacher seating to watch the show.
High-energy singers and dancers filled the stage, as did favorite Disney characters. Next, Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Disney’s first Black princess, took the stage and sang a song about wishes. Her performance ended with what seemed like every Disney character ever joining Anika for a fireworkfilled finish.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek took the mic to explain that the new ship was built to immerse guests in nearly 100 years of stories. Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks and Experiences, stepped in next to highlight hightech advancements, including the Uncharted Adventures virtual scavenger hunt and AquaMouse, Disney’s first-ever attraction at sea.
About 25-minutes in, three young Make-A-Wish ambassadors were invited to the stage. As is usual with Disney, you can count on things being, well, unusual. While it’s
Credit: Carole Rosenblat
12 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
traditional for Disney to name a “fairy godmother” and have her christen a ship, they put a new spin on it this time by choosing fairy godchildren, in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.
With the kids reciting the traditional ship blessing, “I Christen thee Disney Wish. May God bless this ship and all who sail upon her,” Tinker Bell waved her wand at an animated bottle of Champagne, and the new ship was officially ready to sail.
A short while later, Chris and I walked through the big yellow Mickey Mouse head into a new world of fantasy and whimsy. As we sailed off toward Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, my spirits lifted. This was exactly the magical renewal I needed.
Carnival Cruises Jubilee (October 2023)
Celebrity Cruises Ascent (December 2023)
Norwegian Viva (Sails June 2023)
Oceania Vista (Debuts April 2023)
Regent Seven Seas Grandeur (November 2023)
Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas (Late 2023)
Seabourn Pursuit (April 2023)
Explora Journeys is launching Explora 1 (May 2023)
Atlas Ocean Voyages is launching World Seeker (May 2023)
Plus, a mystery ship from Princess Cruises, set to debut in late 2023, that will usher in their new Sphere Class of ships.
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 13
Reserve your cabin on a 2023 christening cruise now!
Coming in 2023
The Awesome Forces of Tabacón
by DARCY RHYNO
I step into the mineral waters heated by Arenal, the volcano looming over us, and take a seat on the underwater bench beside my wife. Relaxing into the gentle current, I let out a long sigh, the soothing waters slipping over my skin. We’re alone in one of dozens of secluded pools surrounded by verdant jungle at the heart of Costa Rica’s first and finest hot springs retreat, the five-star Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort.
These are our last days in this amazing Central American country. For ten weeks, we’ve been wandering Costa Rica with the goal of getting to know it, one unique ecosystem at a time. It turns out, we may have saved the best for last.
We start the day with a hike across the volcanic scree that covers the face of mighty Arenal. The active, perfectly conical mountain still smokes, rumbles, and leaks glowing molten rock. Its slopes are
littered with hardened lava, cooled perhaps decades ago. Among the chunks of rock, rare slipper orchids somehow thrive beneath the tropical sun.
Our hike is the first of many local adventures available here. Others include boating, cycling, a waterfall adventure, birdwatching, rafting, and horseback riding through dense rainforest—which is what we choose for our second excursion. As we climb up another side of the volcano, the air is noticeably cooler and more humid and the trees hang with so many mosses, bromeliads, and orchids, they weigh the strong limbs down close to the ground, which the monkeys and birds don’t seem to mind.
Recuperating in thermal springs after such adventures is precisely what Jaime Mikowski envisioned. He’s the Costa Rican architect who first saw the potential for the mineral enriched Tabacón River. In the 1980s, his dream was
After 10 weeks of non-stop travel, an adventurous couple finds renewal
Photos Courtesy of Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort
14 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 15
realized, a resort on this wild 865 acre property near La Fortuna, the only village that survived the last major eruption about 50 years ago. Mikowski harnessed the awesome forces of Arenal, mixing hot and cold streams in various measures to achieve temperatures from pool to pool that range from 75 to 99 ºF.
The canopy of native cloud forest offers shelter and privacy, as well as habitat for wildlife. While relaxing in one pool, we watch in wonder as a green basilisk, or Jesus lizard, runs across the surface of the water. Mikowski was
the first to design a spa that put these wild surroundings and the natural therapeutic properties of the thermal mineral waters to use for healing and wellness.
While Tabacón is popular with young adventurers and those in search of indulgence, some find their way here to treat various ailments. Just this year, Tabacón launched “The ESCAPE Route,” a program that pairs traditional wellness techniques with science-backed therapies to promote a return to health after crisis and upheaval.
The program resembles our experience, with the addition of yoga, a cooking class, a treeplanting ceremony, balneotherapy, and complementary access to the adults-only corner of the hot springs, Shangri-La Gardens. ESCAPE is a partnership between the resort and Harvard’s Dr. Natalie Dattilo. It’s also the fulfillment of Mikowski’s mission to take full advantage of Tabacón’s healing potential.
The next day, the last before we fly home, my wife and I choose the ultimate Arenal experience to close our Costa Rican winter in style—a couple’s massage in the jungle. After shedding our clothing for puffy robes, we’re offered soothing smoothies and led to a palapa furnished with two massage tables. What follows is one of the most sensual experiences of our lives. The brook babbles past, birds call from the canopy. Eyes closed, I find myself sinking into the sensations for a full hour of soft aroma therapy, heat treatments, warmed oils, and deep muscle massages.
Finally, the masseuse takes my hand, joins it with my wife’s, and recites a poem to renew our bonds of love with the force of the volcano and the warm caress of the Tabacón River. Our two expert attendants retreat, leaving us to slip naked into a billowing Jacuzzi with a bottle of bubbly and a bowl of fresh, tropical fruits. From this earthly paradise, we toast our ten glorious weeks, its heavenly conclusion, and the renewed energy with which we will re-enter or lives at home.
Call today to book a winter escape to Costa Rica!
16 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
Saudi, So much more than you can imagine
Saudi is emerging as one of the world’s most exciting travel and tourism destinations. Attracting cultural explorers, dedicated travelers and adventure seekers from around the globe. With Six iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 10,000 sites of archaeological interest combined with the unexpected diversity across sweeping deserts, rugged mountains, crystal seas and thriving modern cities. There has never been a better time to explore all that the destination has to o er.
Destination - Riyadh
Riyadh The city’s fascinating, centuries-old history can be found within its alluring souqs, compelling museums and ancient architecture, but it’s also a modern metropolis, with glittering high-rises and a expanding contemporary art scene.
Diriyah’s (archeological site) historical center is the UNESCO-listed site of At-Turaif, which was founded in the 15th century. It is the original seat of power of Saudi Arabia’s Al Saud family and contains ruins of mud-brick houses connected by narrow alleyways. Soon visitors will be able to walk through the ruins as well as the myriad museums and other spaces found inside.
Destination - AlUla
In AlUla, deep in the desert in Saudi’s northwestern region, visitors can play out their fantasy of being an intrepid archaeologist for a day.
Visitors will experience Saudi Arabia’s ﬁrst UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll explore over 110 remarkably well preserved tombs set in a desert landscape, while learning about the ancient people and culture of AlUla.
Destination - Jeddah
Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s oldest city along the Red Sea, a lively, cosmopolitan center that is home to historic architecture, pristine beaches and world-class cuisine and big-ticket events.
Experience Al Balad
Al Balad is famous for its intricately designed houses, built using coral from the depths of the Red Sea and boasting colorful balconies. It’s unique architecture is not seen anywhere else in the world. Al Balad, otherwise known as Historical Old Jeddah, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Photo Courtesy of Saudi Tourism
Tourism eVisas are available online for travelers and details can be found at visa.visitsaudi.com
A GRAND JOURNEY FROM ROME TO SYDNEY
TAKE YOUR VACATION TO THE EDGE ON A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME VOYAGE
CELEBRITY EDGE GRAND JOURNEY
Getting there is half the fun, and in 2023 that couldn’t be truer than with our Grand Journey aboard Celebrity Edge®. Combine as many as four incredible back-to-back sailings into one epic vacation for up to 52 nights of in-depth exploration. Step aboard this once-in-a-lifetime experience in Rome, Italy, and travel from the Old World to The Land Down Under with Sydney, Australia as your final destination. Along the way, you’ll pass through the Suez Canal. Follow the western end of the spice route along the Arabian and India coasts. You’ll visit 11 countries and visit 25 of the most interesting places on the planet, including Aqaba, Jordan; Mumbai (Bombay), India; Dubai, UAE; Phuket, Thailand; Singapore, and Christchurch, New Zealand—to name a few. All put together, these amazing back-to-back sailings also include overnight stays in some of the most alluring places in the region, such as Benoa, Bali, Indonesia; Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Auckland, New Zealand. Of course, there will be plenty of time to unwind aboard one of the most indulgent ships at sea. Take advantage of The Spa with destination inspired treatments. Dine in distinctive restaurants featuring menus crafted by our Michelinstarred chef. Step out at night and sip your favorite hand-crafted cocktails on the Magic Carpet as you soar over the open sea. This experience is the perfect blend of exploration and relaxation on a Grand Journey that spans more than 10,000 nautical miles. Space is limited and exclusively available through your Ensemble Travel Advisor
Book an AquaClass ® stateroom or higher and relax knowing your drinks, Wi-Fi, tips, exclusive dinning experience, PLUS an agency exclusive $100 Onboard Credit is included.
Suez Canal 2023 Oct. 30
Italy: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy: Catania, Sicily, At Sea, Greece: Athens (Piraeus), Suez Canal (passage) (overnight), Jordan: Aqaba, At Sea, At Sea, At Sea, At Sea, At Sea, At Sea, United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Dubai
India, Sri Lanka, & Thailand 2023 Nov. 13
14-Night Bali & Australia Reposition 2023 Nov. 25
United Arab Emirates: Dubai, At Sea, At Sea, India: Mumbai (Bombay), At Sea, India: Cochin, Sri Lanka: Colombo (overnight), At Sea, At Sea, Thailand: Phuket, At Sea, Sinapore
Sinapore, At Sea, At Sea, Indonesia: Benoa, Bali (overnight), At Sea, At Sea, Australia: Darwin, At Sea, At Sea, Australia: Cairns (Yorkey’s Knob), At Sea, At Sea, Australia: Sydney
12-Night New Zealand 2023 Dec. 9
Australia: Sydney, At Sea, At Sea, New Zealand: Auckland (overnight), New Zealand: Tauranga, New Zealand: Napier, New Zealand: Christchurch, New Zealand: Dunedin, New Zealand: Dusky Sound, New Zealand: Doubtful Sound, New Zealand: Milford Sound, At Sea, At Sea, Australia: Sydney
4 BACK-TO-BACK SAILINGS ON CELEBRITY EDGE® Up to 52 Nights | 11 Countries | 25 Unique Destinations | 3 Overnight Stays ©2022 Celebrity Cruises Inc. Ships’ registry: Malta and Ecuador. INTERVIEW ENTREVUE
One Jeddawi Summer
In the summer of 2017, two years prior to the release of U.S. tourist visas, I went full-on Jeddawi. And I liked it. I had been hired to teach English in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city. While temperatures throughout my stay were frequently over 100 degrees, wanderlust and the knowledge that my time in Jeddah was limited led me to brave the elements on long walks each day. It was on these walks that I discovered Jeddah’s remarkable diversity.
While many travel to Saudi Arabia to forge better lives for themselves, a fair number are also working to pay for pilgrimages to nearby Mecca (written locally as Makkah). On any given day, I passed Turkish barbershops, Palestinian baklava shops, Afghani tea salons, Sudanese barbecue places, and Filipino shipping companies. During my time there, I got to know the locals who owned and frequented these
restaurants and shops, and came to love the easy and hospitable Jeddawi way of life. Today, five years after my summer in the Arabian sunshine, upscale brunch spots and resorts are being built in anticipation of tourists from well-heeled parts of the world rushing in to explore this previously inaccessible land.
While the landscape is getting a makeover, the culture is also changing, including the rules around the calls to prayer, which are known locally as adhan. Early in my stay, while availing myself of the air conditioning in one of Saudi Arabia’s innumerable shopping centers, I found that the stores closed for adhan Similarly, cars would wait to fill up at the gas station until after the prayers had been said. And, more than once, I dined in darkness while a restaurant paused to pray. I am not Muslim but I came to cherish these brief breaks as my own special moments of
by JONATHAN DELISE
Photos: Courtesy of Saudi Tourism
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 19
reflection. Today the restrictions are loosening for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. A small part of me will miss this unique aspect of Arabian life.
My summer as a Jeddawi also lacked the cool darkness of movie theaters, as cinemas had been banned since the 1980s. The year after I returned home, I learned that the first new movie theater in the kingdom in 30 years had miraculously opened. In 2021, the country’s first film festival, the Red Sea Film Festival, was inaugurated in Jeddah. Saudi Arabia’s first concert headlined by a female musical artist drew crowds in December 2017. The following month, women were invited to attend sporting events. And a ban on women driving ended in June 2018. To celebrate and embed the win, a women-only motorsport rally, Rally Jameel, was held for the first time in March of 2022.
Not all of Jeddah’s cultural history is fading away. One of the metropolis’ most popular attractions is Al-Balad, a centuriesold neighborhood famed for
buildings made of Red Sea coral and houses with well-preserved mashrabiya—wooden latticed windows, which preserve privacy while letting in the natural breezes. As Islam expanded throughout the region in the A.D. 600s, Al-Balad became the main port of entry for Muslims arriving from overseas. The opening of Egypt’s Suez Canal in 1869 further added to the district’s cultural richness. Yet, it wasn’t until 2014 that UNESCO finally honored Al-Balad as a World Heritage Site.
On weekends I would journey with a mix of expats and locals to Taif, a city roughly 6,000 feet up in the Hejaz Mountains. Thanks to its markedly cooler temperatures, Taif is Saudi Arabia’s unofficial summer capital. Traditionally reached via a former camel caravan route from Jeddah to Makkah, the climb is now made more easily via a 2.6-mile cable car ride, which offers astounding views of the shadowy Hejaz range.
Another favorite memory is jetskiing in the, dare I say, delicious
temperatures of the Red Sea. New to the sport, I gunned my engine and sped over the waves with bravado. It wasn’t long before one particularly fiendish-looking wave got the better of me. The jet-ski went one way, I flew off in another, and my prescription glasses sank to the bottom. Thankfully, no harm was done and a local optical shop was able to restore my eyesight.
Since my return to the U.S., Saudi Arabia has undergone substantial, even progressive, advancements. By 2030, Jeddah’s attractions will include a new opera house, museums, a sports stadium, a substantially-larger oceanarium, and upscale Red Sea resorts that rival those in the Maldives. One aspect I found to be true during my stay that I cannot imagine ever changing is my impression that Saudis are some of the most hospitable folks one is likely to encounter while traveling.
Call us to find out more about new Saudi Arabia tours.
20 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
Time for Arabia
Lately, news of hotel openings has been coming from a region largely unex plored by even the most intrepid world travelers: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (or KSA as the kids are calling it). Major development projects are in progress all over the kingdom. Starting in 2023, we’ll have our pick of glittering new rooms and suites across five islands and two inland destinations.
GRAND HYATT RED SEA
RAFFLES RED SEA
ST. REGIS RED SEA RESORT
RITZ CARLTON RESERVE
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 21
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An Artful Dive in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
by JESSICA WYNNE LOCKHART
Even from a distance, I’m in awe when I see the greenhouse for the first time. Its remote location is 50 miles from all signs of civilization, but it’s brimming with life. In its centre, children gather, holding pots and planters. Full watering cans sit off to the side and chandeliers sway from the ceiling, each with evidence of new growth inside.
As a botanical gardens enthusiast, I can say with confidence that it’s the most extraordinary greenhouse I’ve ever seen. But the colorful blooms? They’re not flowers—they’re coral. The children? They’re concrete statues, guardians over the premises. And the building itself? It doesn’t sit on land, but rather 60 feet under the Australian Coral Sea.
This is Townsville’s new Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), located
on the John Brewer Reef, one of the 3,000 individual reefs that make up Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
As a Canadian living in Queensland, I was surprised to learn that so many of my friends and family back home believed the Great Barrier Reef was gone. Back in 2016, a mass bleaching event resulted in headlines declaring it dead. In truth, only about 30 percent of the reef was lost. But subsequent bleaching
Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Credit: Courtesy MOUA
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 25
"As a botanical gardens enthusiast, I can say with confidence that it’s the most extraordinary greenhouse I’ve ever seen. But the colorful blooms? They’re not flowers—they’re coral."
26 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
events – including one this year – have further exposed the reef’s vulnerability to rising global temperatures, ocean acidification, agricultural run-off, and cyclones.
The MOUA is a direct response to this crisis. Created by underwater sculptor and British environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor, it’s made of low-carbon porous concrete that’s designed to be colonized by coral over time.
I’ve traveled out to the MOUA with local operator Adrenaline Dive and Snorkel. Other than signing up for a tour, there is no cost of admission. This is less of a museum and more of a public art installation (granted, one that requires donning a scuba mask to see). The coral greenhouse’s rooftop and surrounding sculptures are visible to snorkelers, but even those who aren’t PADI-certified can get a more immersive experience with an intro dive.
It takes two hours by boat to reach our destination, where the reef spreads out around us in a turquoise horseshoe.
Adrenaline’s owner, Paul Crocombe, gives us a full run-down of the site and he doesn’t gloss over the bleaching that recently happened here. But while the
message he delivers is grounded, it’s also one of resilience. “The reef isn’t going to disappear with climate change—it’s just going to change,” he tells us.
Jumping in, I’m awarded with the most colorful dive site I’ve been to on the Great Barrier Reef, and one entirely different than those off the coast of Cairns and Port Douglas. Shimmering walls of blue fish flash through the water, while towers of coral rise up around me. Soon, the reef—and not the MOUA—becomes the main attraction.
“That’s most peoples’ reactions,” says Simone Sullivan, Townsville Enterprise’s marketing executive when I meet her for dinner that night. “People travel here to see the MOUA, but it’s the reef that ends up sticking with them.”
While long popular with domestic travelers, thanks to nearby holiday destination Magnetic Island, it wasn’t until recently that Townsville began making its way onto international visitors’ itineraries. As a result, the reef’s vibrancy is unknown to many—but soon, the secret will be out. Right now, an $80 million AUD luxury hotel is in development next door to the existing Ville Resort, a hotel with a casino and
"Jumping in, I’m awarded with the most colorful dive site I’ve been to on the Great Barrier Reef, and one entirely different than those off the coast of Cairns and Port Douglas."
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 27
swim-up bar directly beside the ocean. There are also plans for a second MOUA location, with a snorkeling-friendly site off Magnetic Island in contention.
One steamy afternoon, I duck into the airconditioned Museum of Tropical Queensland to see eight new MOUA sculptures that have yet to be installed. They tower over me. Each weighs between 2,100 and 6,200 pounds, and each is modeled after an environmentalist. There’s Dr. Richard Braley, a local researcher who dedicated his life to studying giant clams, his body morphed (naturally) with a giant clam. There’s nine-year-old Molly Steer, who encouraged every school in Australia to stop using plastic straws. And there’s Jayme Marshall, a Wulgurukaba and Yunbenen woman who represents the role of traditional owners in protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
“The coral greenhouse’s rooftop and surrounding sculptures are visible to snorkelers, but even those who aren’t PADI-certified can get a more immersive experience with an intro dive."
Soon, these sentinels will make their way to the depths of the ocean floor, where they’re predicted to live for 100 years. If deCaires
Taylor’s message finds the right audience, the Great Barrier Reef will not only be here, it will be a vital part of a thriving planet that was saved in the nick of time. #spreadtheword
Call today to find out about sustainable tour opportunities in Australia.
Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Credit: Townsville Enterprise
28 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
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HOW TO ISLAND LIKE A BILLIONAIRE
by ALESANDRA DUBIN
It can’t always be a tropical island, you know,” said my pragmatic husband as I sat peering at my computer, calling out vacation destination ideas. When I registered what he’d said, my heart skipped a beat. I swiveled in my chair, looked him dead in the eye, and in utter confusion asked, “Why not?”
Two kids and 12 years later, we still laugh at that pivotal point early in our marriage. From that moment on, David understood that I’d almost always rather be on a palm-lined beach than anywhere else in the world. And I’d always rather come home from my sundrenched days to luxurious accommodations.
In keeping with this preference, I’ve made it my life’s mission to learn about and visit as many screen-saver-esque islands in the world as humanly possible. So imagine my surprise when I came across an island in the Caribbean that had completely escaped my acutely honed tropical destination radar.
The island is Canouan, a j-shaped spot of land about halfway down the remote archipelago of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. After doing a bit of research I learned it
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 31
has an area of just five square miles, a population under 2,000, and a nascent reputation as the place ”where billionaires go to escape millionaires.” While I’m hardly a billionaire, I am a luxury lover through and through – and this over-the-top descriptor set deliciously high expectations – so I set my sights on getting there.
On Canouan’s southwest coast, the pristine Sandy Lane Yacht Club plays host to yachts belonging to top film stars and the world’s financial elite. Lacking a yacht, my family and I opted to fly in via Barbados. And, I must admit, we felt quite posh touching down on the private-jet-friendly runway only to be whisked away to the Mandarin Oriental resort.
There, our oceanfront suite spanned a whopping 2,500 square feet—twice the size of our house in Los Angeles. iPads controlled everything from the lights to the climate. For the ultimate in billionaire island escapism, we were assigned a private butler, who must have seen the twinkle in my eye because she arranged for a date night at … Soho Beach House?
Yes, the buzzy, chichi members-only club actually opened a location on this tiny island over a year ago, thanks to Italian developer Andrea Pignataro, who has generously applied his banking fortune to sprucing up the island. There in the beachfront lounge area, over cauliflower fritters, barracuda crudo, and Soho Mule cocktails, we met another
couple from Los Angeles, and instantly registered the significance of the man’s C-suite job title at one of Hollywood’s most prominent firms. The pair were dining with the private pilots who’d delivered them to this island where they could quietly sip, sun, and be noticed by few other than their socialstrata peers.
Equally delighted to be free of the crowds, my family and I spent our days lounging by the Mandarin Oriental’s infinity pool, strolling bright white sand beaches, reef snorkeling, and indulging in treatments in the seaside spa—where nature provides a built-in sound machine. Feeling ambitious, we hiked one morning to the top of Mount Royal, the island’s highest peak. After a steep ascent along a trail inhabited by tortoises and hermit crabs, we were rewarded with views that took our breath away.
As we sat there soaking in the turquoise sea down below as island breezes cooled our perspiration, I felt grateful for the chance to get to know yet another exquisite tropical island that had previously escaped my radar — after all, it’s my life’s mission to experience every single one.
Ready to run off to an exotic island? Call us today.
32 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
CHOOSE FUN, CRUISE & PRIVATE DESTINATIONS.
If you thought relaxing on an exclusive island destination was unattainable, you can check this entry off your bucket list with a Carnival cruise! Choose from a variety of short and long sailings to the beautiful Caribbean locales of Half Moon Cay, Amber Cove, Grand Turk, Princess Cays, or Mahogany Bay. And because cruising to a private destination comes with all the goodies, you’ll soon be enjoying everything from white-sandy beaches and turquoise waters to exciting shore excursions like snorkeling, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. Let’s not forget the delicious food, tropical cocktails, and private cabanas where you can kick back by the seaside and make amazing memories to take home!
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Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas
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Into the Blue
From thermal pools to floating spas, taking advantage of the innate healing powers of water is good for the body and soul
by ROBIN CATALANO
Sky Lagoon, Reykjavik
Credit: Norris Niman
Credit: Jill Salter
Tofino Resort + Marina in Vancouver
34 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
I float, nearly weightless, on my back in the warm lagoon. The water muffles the sound of nearby conversation, and fans out my hair like a halo. Overhead, rain clouds drift across a slate-colored sky. I close my eyes and inhale, salt air filling my nostrils. Here in the water, without a phone or computer or other distractions, time stands still.
I came to Sky Lagoon, a brandnew wellness facility outside of Reykjavik , to experience their signature seven-step healing ritual. Rooted in the centuries-old Icelandic tradition of communal bathing, the treatment includes dry and steam saunas, a salt scrub, and alternating warm- and coldwater therapies. The centerpiece is the geothermal lagoon.
Whether standing under the manmade waterfall, reclining on a rock seat with a glass of wine from the walk-up bar, or peering over the edge of the infinity pool at the vast Atlantic Ocean, I feel relaxed and at peace. There’s plenty of science to back up my experience.
Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author of Blue Mind, points out some basics: all life on Earth comes from water and 60 percent of the human body is liquid. We spend the first 9.2 months of our lives underwater. Without it, we would cease to exist in less than a week’s time.
Exciting the Senses
“When we see, hear, smell, taste or notice in any way the presence of water, there’s an emotional and biological response,” he says. “Your body responds to the presence or absence of water, or even the idea
of its presence or absence. It’s that important to maintaining life.”
While green spaces have gotten the lion’s share of attention for their mental-health benefits, blue spaces – everything from streams and waterfalls to rivers, lakes, and oceans – have more pronounced healing effects.
Water lacks the visual and auditory stimulation of a green space such as a hiking trail, where the terrain, plants, trees, and animals command our attention. The sound of the water, whether trickling or rushing in waves, creates a soothing “bubble of silence or privacy,” explains Nichols. There’s also the somatic experience of being splashed by waves, wading into a lake or, in my case, floating in a lagoon.
Cultures with community bathing traditions have long understood water’s ability to boost clarity and promote calm. Viktoria Seavey, a life coach and mentor, grew up in Hungary, where thermal baths are common.
On a recent trip home, she spent several hours at Thermal Hotel Visegrád’s Lepence Spa. “The water in the mineral pools was so buoyant that I could actually
Thermal Hotel Visgráds Lipence Spa
Banyon Tree Mayakoba, Mexico
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 35
Journey through the heart of Europe aboard award-winning ships o ering the luxury of space for an average of only 150 guests. With a variety of enriching excursions, locally-sourced cuisine and high-quality Wi-Fi all included in the cruise fare, let us be your breath of fresh air as you travel the rivers.
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feel the bubbles on my skin. It was magical,” she says. “I literally had no jet lag. Water just resonates with the human body.”
Transforming Resorts Resorts are now honing in this connection with a plethora of unique water-based therapies. At Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico , a practitioner of Wave Stretch gently cradles, massages, and stretches guests in the water.
Coco Collection in the Maldives offers a unique coral reef gardening program, as well as floating breakfast in the private infinity pool of each overwater
villa. At Tofino Resort + Marina in Vancouver, travelers boat out in the Clayoquot Sound, part of a stunning UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to experience cold plunges and heat therapy in a floating sauna.
According to Nichols, there’s no specific prescription for how much we should expose ourselves to water, but 20 minutes several times a week has shown promising results in reducing stress and encouraging a positive emotional state. Even those who live in places that lack natural blue spaces, he explains, can substitute with manmade ones – for example, a swimming pool or a bathtub.
“We are water beings on a water planet,” says Nichols. “If the eight billion people on Earth understood blue mind and practiced it somewhat regularly, it would transform our public health and the environment. We would have a different value equation for the river that runs through our town, and for ourselves.”
Ready to experience the healing power of water? Call us today!
Coco Collection, Maldives
Lake Austin Spa Resort
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 37
The Galápagos Islands
Nature’s Greatest Showcase
The Galápagos Islands await your discovery with some of the most diverse ﬂora and fauna on the planet. Black volcanic rocks, white-sand beaches, sapphire-blue waters, and sherbet horizons. Giant tortoises, marine iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, and Waved Albatross.
Guided by an Expedition Team of local experts, you can immerse yourself with included activities: kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, wildlife watching, and more.
Travel as a modern-day explorer on a Hurtigruten Expeditions small-ship adventure to the Galápagos Islands.
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One Antarctic Night
by LOLA MÉNDEZ
I went camping for the first time in my life this year, which isn't noteworthy except that I pitched a tent for the first time in Antarctica. Everyone who knows me was shocked to learn of my plans to camp on the ice. I avoid the cold and have lived in a never-ending summer for seven years.
I sailed to the southernmost continent on the world’s first hybrid-batterypowered cruise ship, Hurtigruten Expedition’s MS Roald Amundsen. According to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, approximately 74,401 people visited this remote part of our planet from October 2019 to March 2020. Of the ships that offer an ice camping experience, each is only allowed a maximum of 30 passengers per camping excursion.
Getting to camp on the white continent is rare, as weather conditions have to be suitable. Antarctica has been a designated nature reserve since 1991 and campers are required to attend a safety briefing. Expedition guides reviewed protocols, what to pack, and how to use the provided cold-weather camping gear. Campers can’t take anything besides clothing, a bottle of water, and camera gear.
On my cruise, over 100 passengers had entered the camping lottery. My cabin number was announced as a winner and, although I was wildly unprepared as
Photo: Courtesy of Lola Méndez
Credit: Andrea Klaussner
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 39
Adventure Seekers I ICE
a camping virgin, I couldn't miss the opportunity to sleep on all seven continents, even though the temperature was below freezing. I packed my fauxwool hat and a sweater made of oyster shells – as well as every pair of gloves and socks I had – to use as an insulation in my sleeping bag.
After dinner, my fellow campers and I piled into zodiacs. We zipped across the Southern Ocean to Kerr Point on Ronge Island. Upon landing, we noticed we wouldn’t be camping alone as several Gentoo penguins were gathered by the shore.
I collected my camping gear, loaded a headlamp, pad, heavy-duty sleeping bag, and a thin red tent into a sled and dragged it to my campsite. As I got to work setting up the tent on the snow I spotted a humpback whale spouting in the bay as dusk began to fade. The MS Roald Amundsen pulled behind an iceberg, leaving us happy campers in total darkness.
We hiked up a cliff through deep snow to a rocky vantage point where the excursion leader played "Shoulders" by Shane Koyczan: “This pale blue dot, this one world, is all we get. There will be no reset button, no new operating system, no downloadable upgrade. We will not be allowed to trade in our old world for a new one with climate control or better fuel efficiency. We get one shot at this.”
Listening to Koyczan’s words about the damage humanity has caused the planet while I was lying directly on one of the most fragile ecosystems on
the planet was a catalyst moment that recharged my efforts to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
An hour or so later, down at the campsite, I entered the tiny tent. I opted to sleep in my Selk'bag (a zip-up onesie made out of sleeping bag material) and use the actual sleeping bag as a blanket. I was quite cozy and didn’t need to wear gloves, a hat, or use the hand warmers I had packed.
Throughout the evening the Antarctic silence alternated between the soothing sounds of waves gently caressing the shore and the earth-shattering crashes of glaciers calving. In the early hours of the morning, I slipped on my rubber boots and stood outside my tent to soak in the raw environment. The clouds gave way slightly allowing a few stars to shine through. I watched in wonder as a satellite slowly crawled across the sky between pockets of clouds.
When I awoke again at 5:00 a.m., I was exhilarated. I had made it through the night of polar camping. It was spectacular to spend a night on the ice. We packed up our gear and loaded into zodiacs that took us back to the warmth of the ship where we toasted the adventure of the previous night with mimosas as humpback whales played in the waters surrounding the ship.
Plan a once-in-a-lifetime Antarctic expedition. Call us today!
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Learn more: *Fares are based on Promo(s) DV*. Featured fares are per person based on double occupancy, cruise or cruisetours only. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional. Have It All amenities are subject to availability, available for new bookings only, available for 1st/2nd guests only, apply only to the cruise portion of Alaska cruisetours, and are neither transferable nor refundable. Have It All fares are applicable on select 2022 and 2023 departures and exclude Grand Voyages and any voyage lasting 5 days or less. Offer expires on October 12, 2022. For extended terms and conditions, please visit HollandAmerica.com/en_US/deals/book-early-save.html. Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands BEST ALASKA CRUISE 2020 AFAR TRAVE LERS' AWARDS 50% REDUCED DEPOSIT UP TO $ 300 ONBOARD CREDIT SHORE EXCURSIONS DRINK PACKAGE CREW APPRECIATION WI-FI SPECIALTY DINING Best Deal EVER INCLUDES: UP30% TOSave + INTERVIEW ENTREVUE MUSIC MUSIQUE RECIPE RECETTE COCKTAIL COCKTAIL BOOK LIVRE VIDEO VIDÉO
The West is Best
by LIANA LOZADA
Based in Isabela, Puerto Rico, lifetime surfer and engineer Nick Leason is the inventor of electric hydrofoil surfboards – eFoils – which are powered by propulsion and an underwater wing that allows the board to hover over the water’s surface. The dynamic design lets surfers hit the beach regardless of swell conditions.
Nick describes the experience as “serene” and “almost intuitive,” insisting he can get a novice standing and gliding in under 30 minutes. I caught up with him after the release of Lift Foils’ newest model to get his take on eFoiling and Puerto Rico’s magical west coast.
How does getting up on an eFoil differ from a surfboard?
It is really smooth because of the access to power. The idea is more yoga than surfing. [You] want to get centered and relax and then the board gets stable.
What makes Puerto Rico’s west coast unique?
It offers a surfing vibe not found on the rest of the island. The people here are more beach oriented, and it feels more country. As Jim Morrison said, “the west is the best.”
When is the best time to visit Puerto Rico’s west coast?
I recommend the wintertime. It’s the best time of year—clearer days with less rain and the best temperatures and humidity. As a surfer, this is the best season because we get winter swells from the North Atlantic. Summertime is typically flat water and good for wind sports.
What are your hopes for Puerto Rican tourism?
We need as much as we can get. I would like to see our local government invest more in the natural beauty and vegetation over cheap hotels and casinos. They should be looking to places like Costa Rica and Kauai as references. The island's natural beauty is the attraction; hopefully, we can preserve it and grow tourism around it.
What do you love about the island and building your company here?
I was born and raised here, so it always feels like home. Every land has its resonance, and I happen to like that Caribbean vibe. The sun is shining, the water is warm, the waves are good, and the people are friendly. That’s all I could ask for.
We’ve got the perfect water sport vacation for you. Book now!
Photos: Rodrigo Snaps+Inc.
42 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 Adventure Seekers I water
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Peru’s Cutest Hiking Guides
by SARAH SEKULA
I lock eyes with Labrayani, a 300-pound llama on the trail behind me. He tilts his head and flicks his ears back. While
he pauses, I get a good look at those long lashes, his awkward underbite, and knobby knees.
It’s impossible not to crack a smile.
Labrayani is my hiking companion for a trek through Peru’s Ausangate Mountains, and he happens to be the head honcho of the llama posse. For that reason alone, he gets to sport the most decorations. We’re talking hot pink ear tassels, a pompom necklace, and a decorative saddle. He’s a camelid with style.
We’re at 14,000 feet on day one of a two-day trek I booked on a whim, hoping to combine my passion for challenging hikes in
far-off lands with my preference for not carrying heavy things. My buddies amount to one guide, two herders, one horse, and five llamas. Together we are, quite literally, following the same paths the Incas took thousands of years ago—an extensive system of trails created by ancient llama herders.
For avid hikers, this is a dreamy mishmash of terrain. One that is full of impressive peaks, impossibly blue lakes and pasture after pasture
of llamas and alpacas. Our route through the Vilcanota range is one of the highest treks in Peru. The rugged journey will be made a bit easier with llamas as our sherpas.
For thousands of years, these trusty animals have made life possible in the Andes by carrying goods from village to village. Fast forward to today and the llamas are also used for trips like mine, where hikers travel from one lodge to the next.
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Sekula
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 45
Adventure Seekers I Land
Photos Courtesy of Sarah Sekula
46 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
We begin our foray into the wilderness at a steady pace. Gradually, we ascend through a valley, home to some of the highest potato crops in the world. Before long, we meet a herd of about 100 alpacas. Several young ones sport new hairdos. Fluffy wool on the tops of their heads sticks straight up while the wool on their bodies is trimmed close –all making their periscope necks appear comical.
I’m beside myself with delight. I glance over my shoulder and Labrayani is still there, grinning peacefully. It’s already apparent that this will be no ordinary hiking trip.
Besides getting schooled on the landscape and culture, I’m learning loads about llamas. They are low maintenance, dependable, and calm for the most part. They leap over streams surprisingly well, are natural grazers – so there’s no need to bring food along – and they can carry up to one-third of their body weight. Not to mention their funny noises include snorts, sneezes, belches, and even high-pitched squeals when predators are near.
It’s a treat getting to know their personalities.
“Some of them are kind of cranky, and some of them are actually really social,” says Bruno Lopez, my guide. “I’ve seen a few llamas put their necks on top of people’s heads when they are taking photos.”
Bruno knows every inch of this area and leads us from one stunning valley to the next. We pass uplifted granitic cliffs, tumbling streams, and limestone forests. Millions of
years of geologic history. “Everyone has their favorite day,” says Lopez. “It’s very peaceful, very far from civilization, far from the cities.” And he’s right. We see only a few other people over the course of the day, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the dramatic topography.
The scenery, he explains, was created by several tectonic forces and the presence of minerals is very high. Silver, copper, and iron are scattered as far as the eye can see. This explains why several mountains have a beautiful red hue. And why I keep spotting rocks that any geologist would envy.
At sunset, a steep march up a rocky hillside brings us to the best views yet. The jumble of snowy peaks to our left is known as Nevado del Inca. To the right, neon-green grass and moss-covered rocks dot the Ausangate mountainside. Straight ahead, I see the vivid hues of the Red Valley. The icing on the cake is a bright blue lagoon where llamas are grazing.
We arrive at our eco-lodge, a twostory abode where we are greeted with a warm meal that could rival the best restaurants in Cusco, and coca tea to ward off altitude sickness.
As we warm up by the fire, Bruno tells me that the lodgekeeper, Mario, used to make regular threeweek treks from this area to the Amazon and back for trading— with his family in tow, no less. This reminds me how hardy the local Quechuan people are. I’m utterly fascinated by how they’ve adapted to this extreme environment. I am
told I might be able to adjust to this altitude if I spent a year here. But I have my doubts.
We chat about the following day’s adventures, which will culminate at Rainbow Mountain, a 17,060-foothigh beauty. Created by mineral deposits, its psychedelic bands of turquoise, lavender, red-violet, and gold are quite a spectacle.
After a hearty Andean breakfast, we load our gear and resume our hike, donning rain jackets this time. Hail is beginning to fall through the thick layer of fog and, within 20 minutes, snowflakes appear. Instantly, the sweeping landscape looks even more magical.
After a few hours of trekking, I point out what looks like lines of large white polka dots crisscrossing the side of a red mountain in the distance. Bruno explains that this is snow that has filled in the llama footprints. Every now and then, the llamas wander off the trail and up the mountainside. With their soft padded feet, they don’t have much impact on the ecosystem. Each time this happens, one of the herders nimbly sprints after them and coaxes them back into the lineup.
Increasingly popular with travelers from Canada, the United States, and Europe, these treks go a long way to help isolated communities preserve their economies, cultures, and ancestral ways. The fact that the fluffy porters are so darn cute is just an added bonus.
Call us to book your own llama trek adventure today!
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 47
SHINE ON, DETROIT
by BRYAN SHELMON
ON THE WATERFRONT
Detroit Riverfront Visitors weave between joggers along the city’s 2.5-mile paved riverfront path, voted the “Top Riverwalk in the U.S.” this year by USA Today. A stroll in the cool shade of the Ren Cen, Detroit’s tallest building, leads to the Cullen Plaza carousel and dining en plein air at the Riverwalk Café.
Belle Isle Tourists tip-toe the U.S.-Canada border on Belle Isle, Detroit’s treasured island park, where a scenic “ring road” cruises past the Beaux Arts aquarium designed by architect Albert Kahn to popular Belle Isle Beach.
ALL AROUND THE TOWN
Long known for its grit and hustle, today’s Detroit is a lot more than its automotive heritage and Motown hits. Thanks to industrious locals with an eye for the future, the city has become a cultural hotspot, a popular stop for Great Lakes cruises, and home to major tech firms, trendy eateries, and riverside leisure hangouts.
Detroit Brew Trail With more than 450 breweries, Michigan ranks among the top 5 states in the U.S. for craft beer. A self-guided crawl takes enthusiasts from breweries founded in the 1800s to the trendy craft brews bubbling up in modern suburban Detroit.
See the D Walking Tour Art Deco masterpieces, riveting stories, art alleys, and Insta hotspots. A walk through Detroit with expert guide Karin Risko feels like a fun-filled stroll through town with a long-time friend.
Detroit People Mover Detroit’s answer to moving with efficiency follows a counter-clockwise loop on an elevated light-rail with stops at the Renaissance Center, riverfront, financial district, Greektown, and more.
48 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
PORT CITY SPOTLIGHT
Books + Folk Café Cross the Skywalk at the Somerset Collection and walk through the bookshelf-style entrance of Books + Folk—a charity-benefiting collab between Corktown’s Folk Market, Coffeehaus Roastery, and Assouline Books. Order The Chai Latte and marvel at the beautiful hand-bound books.
THE PRINCESS WILL SEE YOU NOW
Detroit Central Market breathes new air into Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village. Restored to its original 1860 glory, this sheltered farmer’s market is a blast from the past with local vendors, cooking classes, and live shows.
Detroit Fleat Market brings the food truck park concept to the Motor City. Sip on booze-infused signature Slooshies while your order is prepared. The indoor seating area makes this an excellent year-round dining spot.
Breadless The classic sandwich, reimagined with more lettuce and no bread. Breadless is one of Detroit’s trendiest newcomers for healthconscious eaters or foodies looking to fill their Instagram feeds. Hashtag “supergreens,” because these delicacies will “leaf” you with a smile on your face.
Detroit Princess Riverboat One of the city’s most beloved heritage boats, offers regular lunch and dinner cruises, special holiday themed sailings, and the unique vantage point of seeing the sun set behind Detroit’s skyscrapers.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU STAYED HERE
Shinola Hotel A Detroit-based lifestyle brand known for luxury watches and craft leather goods (and now hotels) immerses guests in hand-crafted hospitality. Stylish rooms exhibit Shinola’s fine craftmanship and leatherwork. The in-house art collection and gift shop are reason enough to visit. For drinks, try The Brakeman beer hall or the Evening Bar—serving cocktails like the Cruel Summer, Life Coach, and Do Tell
Credit: Detroit Fleat Street Marketing
Credit: Taylor Douglas Higgins
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 49
DISCOVER THE ART OF
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Custodians of the Himalayas
A rare peek into the daily lives of nomadic shepherds in the Indian Himalayas
by KARTHIKA GUPTA
Dramatic jaw-dropping landscapes have long captured our imagination. Some of us look outside our windows for such a view while others like me travel thousands of miles for just a glimpse. And nothing captures the heart and soul more than the mighty snowcapped Himalayas. Running along the northeastern border of India and Nepal, they command respect, love, admiration and reverence from locals and visitors alike.
I have always had a deep affinity for the mountains. My first foray into the Himalayas was a few years ago when I traveled to the village of Gwaldam, Uttarakhand. I was staying in a beautiful homestay run by a woman named Meeta Rao, who is an avid trekker and mountain enthusiast like me. As we bonded over a cup of masala chai watching the imposing Trishul and Nanda Devi peaks from her living room, I knew this was my calling to hike and camp in the Himalayas. We loaded up our camping gear and plotted a course for a nearby bugyal (meadow) that
promised breathtaking views. I was expecting the mountains, but what I didn’t expect was the sight of local shepherds grazing their flock at an elevation of 11,000 feet—living off the land in a way completely different to anything I had ever seen before.
The nomadic shepherds who live on the mountains tend to their flocks from April through October, returning just before the snow sets in. Often isolated for months on end, walking hundreds of miles with their flock of sheep and goats, these men wander through
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 51
some of the more remote areas of the Himalayas. As we got to chat over cups of sweet lemon tea (a must in the higher elevations), I realized they are the true custodians of the mountains with their unending knowledge of the land.
“This is a hard life, and while it is not for everyone, I can’t see myself doing anything else,” said Virendra Singh Bisht. Bisht is a 28-year-old third-generation shepherd from the village of Ghes, who tends to his 200+ sheep and goats in the area around Bagji Bugyal. “Living away from my family for months is possible only because the mountains take care of me.” The shepherds and villagers believe in mountain spirits and pray to them for safe passage. Grazing from meadow to meadow is hard work especially when the weather turns on a whim. But faith and knowledge of the land keeps them going month after month, year after year.
“Most of us travel in pairs because it does get lonely being alone for months on end. Plus, an extra pair of hands is always welcome at camp,” says Devi
Singh, a shepherd from Joshimath area. He grazes his 300+ flock via Mana village, Malari, and Niti Valley towards the Indo/Tibetan border. Starting at 6:00 a.m. they take the flock to graze, eat lunch, and are back at it in the afternoon. With such a large flock of animals, the shepherds must cover a lot of ground to find fresh grass. Occasionally they will pass a village where they can refuel, but they often look to the land and their own animals for sustenance. Hearty foods like potatoes, lentils, and rice are staples. Occasionally meat is added. And they aren’t just shepherds. They are cooks, cleaners, gardeners, tailors, and even passable medics—they need to develop all these skills to live the way they do.
Even at this elevation, the effects of climate change are real, and the impacts are prevalent in some of the most remote bugyals. “The grass used to be green and lush even five to six years ago”, says Singh. “Four months in and my animals would be well-fed, and I would almost double my herd. But now snow and hail storms happening late in the season are a risk for my flock.
But change is in the air. The older generations can’t see themselves doing anything else other than shepherding. For them, the circle of life starts and ends on the mountains. But the younger generation is pessimistic about this way of life. Modern comforts and city living are more attractive to parents like Bhist who want their kids to go to school and gain an education. “The art of weaving is almost dead, so sheep’s wool is not easy to sell. And animal meat isn’t bringing as much in the auction as before. So why should my son struggle when he can earn almost double in the city?” argues Bisht.
And yet, as the sun burns through the morning fog, the silhouettes of the shepherds and the livestock illuminated against the shadow of the mountains, I am reminded of the shepherds’ steadying presence. Their unwavering love for the mountains and nomadic lifestyle has inspired me to never stop dreaming of the unknown and all the wonderous possibilities it brings—in my travels and my life.
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ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 53
*Get up to 45% off your stay at Club Med Québec Charlevoix: Discount applies to the standard rate based on double occupancy in a Superior room, and is available on select dates at Club Med Québec Charlevoix, Canada. Discounts on other dates, room categories and/or at other resorts may vary. Blackout dates apply, including holidays and other dates. Offer requires a 1-night minimum stay. Does not include airfare. Valid for new individual bookings only for select travel dates with check-in on or after December 2, 2022 and check-out on or before April 10, 2023. Must be booked by October 13, 2022. Get up to 30% off your stay in the Alps this winter: Sample discount is per person, based on double occupancy in a Superior category room for a 7-night stay at Club Med Val Thorens Sensations starting on November 20, 2022. Discounts on other dates, room categories and/or at other resorts may vary. Blackout dates apply, including holidays and other dates. Available at select resorts. The minimum length of stay required to book in one of the resort in the Alps varies between 1 to 7 nights depending on resorts and dates. Does not include airfare. Valid for new individual bookings only for select travel dates with check-in on or after November 20, 2022 and check-out on or before May 7, 2023. Must be booked by October 13, 2022.All offers are subject to capacity control and may increase at any time or be withdrawn at any
time. ^^Informative value based on 7-night stay from March 26 – April 2, 2023, for a family of 4 including 2 adults and 2 kids, in Aspen, Colorado with: Accommodation in Timberline Condominiums in a Studio; 7 days meals ($40 meals per person and per day), 7 days beverages ($20 alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages per person and per day), 7-day adult lift pass regular price for regular Winter 2022-2023 season https://www.stayaspensnowmass.com/activities/aspen-snowmass-lift-ticket-pass-prices; 7 full day adult group lessons regular price for Winter 2022-2023 season https://www.aspensnowmass.com/visit/lessons/guided-experiences; and 7 day childcare https://www.aspensnowmass.com/visit/kids-programs-child-care. We are not responsible for any price changes considered for this informative value and that are not handled by Club Med. General Conditions: Blackout dates apply, including holidays and other dates. Club Med Membership fees of $60 per adult and $30 per child are additional. Other restrictions apply including brochure terms and cancellation/change fees. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. CST#: 2020955-50. Call Your Travel Advisor Today! Over $9,000 in Value^^ Always Included! ✓ Lift tickets ✓ Ski lessons ✓ Childcare ✓ Gourmet dining ✓ Open bar + More Make it a winter to remember with a Club Med ski vacation! Pick from more than 20 mountain resorts, and discover some of the best and most beautiful ski areas in the world. Experience a hassle-free snowy getaway with lift tickets, ski & snowboard group lessons included! Discover Québec and the Alps per person All-Inclusive Ski Vacations INTERVIEW ENTREVUE MUSIC MUSIQUE RECIPE RECETTE COCKTAIL COCKTAIL BOOK LIVRE VIDEO VIDÉO
Kurotel’s Luxury Wellness Retreat Nurtures the Mind, Body and Soul
Sweat flowed from every pore as I tried to keep the beat in my first-ever Zumba class. Compared to the Brazilians gyrating next to me, my sense of rhythm was suspect at best. This dance session was just one of many wellness rites I experienced during my weeklong stay at the Kurotel Contemporary Health & Wellness Center in Gramado, Brazil.
Kurotel is an award-winning medical spa resort founded in 1982 by Dr. Luis Carlos Silveira and his wife, Neusa Silveira. From the looks of it, the property, like the town it’s in, is decidedly un-Brazilian. Thanks to European influences from primarily German and Italian immigrants, Gramado has the charm and architecture of a Bavarian ski town, complete with alpine chalets, chocolatier shops, and fondue restaurants.
But while the resort is known for its leading edge medical wellness services, I hadn’t checked in with any complaints. In fact, I was
by CHRIS RYALL
here for all the wrong reasons—to feed my spa addiction and experience Brazilian culture. Make that Bavarian-Brazilian culture.
Kurotel’s World of Wellness
When I arrived, Dr. Silveira gave me a little background on the resort’s founding. “We wanted to create a medical center that brought together the resources of a general clinic – without being a hospital – and lodging.” Ergo, cure hotel. He added that their mission is simple, “Better health, more life!”
Motivated by Dr. Silveira's mission, I chose their Healthy Longevity Plan. Kurotel also offers stress management, post-operative cancer care, brain health, and Kinder Kur (mother/ baby) programs. These range from two to 21 days and include the latest in medical technology and practices, all administered by a multidisciplinary team of health professionals—including the founders’ four daughters who all work there in some capacity.
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 55
Let the Wellness Begin
My Portuguese is non-existent. Thankfully, the staff seemed to understand my very limited Spanish and assigned an English-speaking assistant to translate. Except for the phrase “I have a craving for a burger and fries,” which merely elicited puzzled looks. What did translate was my passion for wellness treatments, especially deep tissue massage.
After a consultation with daughter-physician Dr. Mariela Silveira, I was given a customized daily program to follow. Day One included blood tests, healthy breakfast, a medical consultation, physiotherapeutic evaluation, nurture plan, healthy lunch, a Pilates class, psych eval, dermatological evaluation, a Kur massage, and a healthy dinner. My final activity was to collapse in bed.
Before I could fall asleep, however, there was a knock at my door. It was the doctor … with my test results and strong recommendations to take blood pressure medication immediately. Hesitant to take the advice of a resort physician, I decided to sleep on the data. The next morning, I agreed to try the pills. Once my blood pressure returned to an acceptable level, I returned to my Healthy Longevity Plan, albeit with a little less enthusiasm.
Making My Escape
Each day, appointments with professional nutritionists, acupuncturists, and fitness instructors brought forth information about my current mind and body fitness, as well as recommended steps for improvement. While my wellness to-do list kept getting longer, I stuck with the program, if only because I knew it would earn me privileges at the spa.
On less regimented days, I found the pull of the resort’s wellness amenities paled in comparison to that of Gramado’s chocolate treats and fondue rituals. Which is to say – and I will deny it if asked – there may have been a few escapes during the week. After all, dark chocolate is supposed to be good for you.
And the wine tastings at the local vineyards? The nutritionist had recommended more fruits and vegetables. The gaucho (cowboy) lifestyle excursion was all about fresh air and exercise. Those evenings I gave into the aromas and charms of the town’s Largo da Borges gastronomy and shopping complex. Let’s call that cultural immersion therapy.
Back at the resort’s Kur Spa, my body was kneaded, cleansed, and soothed with a range of treatments including: foot therapy on the Kneipp circuit, hot oil Ayurvedic treatments, nap-inducing gold mask facials, Fango mud baths, deep tissue massages, and something called “abdomen shaping” designed to bring out my inner six-pack. After my treatments, I retired to the spa’s relaxation lounge, breathed in the fresh mountain air, and admired the alpine scenery. City stresses and toxins out, mountain views and tranquility in
Curious about Medi-Spa vacations? Call us to learn more today.
5 6 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022 XX Offer subject to change without notice; other restrictions apply. For complete details on this offer, visit deltavacations.com/go/SM250. ©2022 Delta Vacations DV40287 Limited-time offer for SkyMiles® Members. Celebrate romance, go solo or live like a local. Book a flight + hotel getaway today that’s right for you with these savings: VACATION STYLE. OWN YOUR SAVE $250 on flight + hotel bookings of $7,000+ SAVE $125 on flight + hotel book ings of $4,000 – $6,999 SAVE $50 on flight + hotel book ings of $2,000– $3,999 SAVE $25 on flight + hotel bookings of $1,999 UP TO $250 OFF PER BOOKING Contact Your Travel Advisor Today
A Different Kind of Moroccan Medina
by IULIANA MARCHIAN
A light rain was falling when I arrived in Asilah, a small, whitewashed town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, which made my entrance feel cool and discreet. As I made my way up the cobbled street, I passed a group of men in a café sipping mint tea and quietly chatting.
Further along, in the doorway of a small workshop, local artists beckoned. There, in their paint and canvas-filled studio, they shared their secrets, talking openly about painting techniques and the concepts that inspired their art.
"You feel ennobled by the place, the architecture, the environment, and the people." — Artist Hussein Mimouni
When the rain stopped, I ventured out again into the narrow, winding alleys where a vibrant mural –simultaneously modern and authentically ancient Moroccan – caught my eye. My curiosity was peaked.
This was a different kind of Moroccan medina, one where art is central to the town’s very existence. Nearly half a century ago, in an effort to save the crumbling former port from ruin, locals launched Asilah’s first “Culture for Art & Development” festival.
Notable artists were invited to paint murals on some of the walls—and a new tradition began.
Today, Asilah is home to a rich concentration of artists, galleries, studios, and exhibition spaces—giving it an easy, bohemian vibe that contrasts sharply with the bustle of Morocco’s more touristed cities.
Each summer, the annual festival attracts painters, sculptors, and crafts-people from Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. They gather here to paint new murals, attend workshops and concerts, give lectures, and exhibit their latest works. By the festival’s end, the walls are filled with elaborate designs, the most successful of which remain as a testimony for a whole year.
"We now have a generation of children who were 8 or 9 years old at the first editions of the festival and who are now in their thirties. A generation who opened their eyes and were influenced by art as a medium to enjoy life and mobilize the resources of imagination and creativity."
— Mohamed Benaissa, Mayor of Asilah
Call us to book your own artistic adventure today!
5 8 ENSEMBLE VACATIONS I FALL 2022
YOUR VILLA AWAITS
As countries start their slow reopenings, our wanderlust and desire to venture beyond our immediate neighborhoods will grow, too. Yet, we still must be hyperconscious of the current situation. With enhanced safety and health measures, thoroughly trained cleaning staff, distanced group arrivals, sanitization packages and more, renting a villa is an ideal option to enjoy an intimate vacation with your family, safely away from the crowds.
For more information about the various cleanliness and safety protocols, or to book a stay at one of these villas, contact your trusted travel advisor who is always there for you – before, during and after your travels.
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