Winter 2022 Vacations Magazine

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WINTER/SPRING 2022

Clickable Clickable Digital Digital Edition Edition

WINTER/SPRING 2022

Inside: Our Favorite Travel Love Stories Can Italy Bring Back a Lost Love?

Trilogy: For the Love of Travel Poland | Dubai | Armenia

Suddenly Skiing in Switzerland

A “Mancation” to Caribana Toronto Plus: Romance Gift Guide


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? As professional travel advisors, we want to hear from our clients and make you our highest priority. So go ahead, give us a call. Share with us the places you dream about, your favorite activities, and curiosities. We work closely with you and our vast range of preferred suppliers to deliver deeply personal travel experiences with the power to satisfy your wanderlust. By tailoring the trips 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.



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CONTENTS Departments

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CHASING CHIARA

A quest for lost love in Italy. Was she still there? Did he even dare?

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From the Editor

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3 WAYS TO TRAVEL FOR LOVE

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Contributors

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What’s Trending Now

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.S. City Spotlight: U West Palm Beach, Florida

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A Romantic Travel Gift Guide

Reigniting in Dubai / Serendipity in Armenia in Poland VIDEO / AwakeningVIDÉO

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MORE THAN SKIN DEEP

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A MINOR OBSESSION

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UP FOR ANYTHING

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TO NIGHTS I CAN’T REMEMBER

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MADNESS IN VEGAS

Finding unconditional love at the spa in Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico INTERVIEW

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Jonathan fell for Riyadh immediately, but tourists weren’t yet allowed

MUSIC MUSIQUE Gloria knew she’d be traveling, the only question was, “Where?”

Three guys, a Caribbean festival, and Drake. What could go wrong? RECIPE

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After 25 years of getting together, there are a few unwritten rules WELCOME TO THE NEW

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ENSEMBLE VACATIONS: DIGITAL REMIX

What’s better than Ensemble Vacations Magazine? Ensemble Vacations Magazine in a fast, easy, and eco-friendly digital format thatBOOK makes plotting your adventure soENTREVUE much more fun. LIVRE next INTERVIEW As you cruise through these pages, keep an eye out for the icons below to see videos, interviews, recipes, and fascinating insights that sync with the article’s theme. VIDEO

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Dear Traveler, EDITORIAL EDITOR IN CHIEF

Kimberly Buerkle

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Nancy Hellmrich

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Laura Torrisi

DESIGN & PRODUCTION

Torrisi Design Associates

DESIGN & PRODUCTION Torrisi Design Associates An Ensemble Travel® Group Publication Ensemble Vacations® is a publication of Ensemble Travel® ­Group © January 2022 Ensemble Travel, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher. Ensemble Travel Group 256 West 38th Street New York, NY 10018. Ensemble® Ensemble Travel® Ensemble® Hosted Cruises Ensemble® Hotel & Resort Collection Ensemble® On Location Ensemble® Villas & Vacation Homes Ensemble® Exclusives Ensemble® Experience and the floret design are registered and unregistered trademarks of Ensemble Travel, Inc.

ON THE COVER: We’re loving everything about the Lunar New Year. See story in What’s Trending Now, pages 6 - 7. Photo Credit: Kletr @ Shutterstock Submissions: Got a travel story you’d like to share? See inside back cover for how to submit your pitch.

What gets you going? In this issue, just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re exploring the intersection between the languages of love and travel—with stories about spontaneous escapes, romantic encounters, and heartfelt adventures. Quality time is the focus on page 56, as Bryan Shelmon explains what happened at a Caribbean festival in Toronto. In a similar, yet altogether different, take Michael Shapiro muses on the good value of an annual guys’ trips to Las Vegas (page 63). On page 44, Jonathan Delise employs words of affirmation in an attempt to sweet talk his way into Saudi Arabia. And Michael reappears with an intimate story about a clarifying love in Italy (page 24). A trilogy of essays (pages 31-35) covers romance on the rocks in Dubai, awakening self-love in Poland, and surrendering to serendipitous love in Armenia. Turn to page 49 to ready Gloria Geannette’s story about receiving a surprise gift of travel. To celebrate the heart-healthy effects of physical touch, Mary Bemis offers suggestions for transformative spa treatments in Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Mediterranean (page 36). Charlotte Tom shares her most beloved hotspots in West Palm Beach, Florida (page 38). Of course, acts of service for our planet are also gaining momentum. It’s a joy to see so many of our suppliers embracing sustainability on the waterways and supporting local communities in India, Cambodia, and the Amazon. Whatever travel love language you speak, our trusted advisors are standing by to plan and book the trips that satisfy your deepest travel longings. Here’s to loving everywhere you go this year! Kim Buerkle, Editor Kbuerkle@EnsembleTravel.com

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Contributors

AGNES GROONWALD Agnes is a freelance writer and travel blogger who runs the site Travel on the Reg. She grew up in Chicago but is currently writing from the road as a digital nomad with her husband and dog. Read about how visiting Poland taught her to love herself on page 34.

NANCY HELLMRICH Based in Colorado, Nancy is a former advertising creative director and active travel enthusiast. Her work includes stories about grappa tasting on the coast of Croatia, spas in St. Lucia, cycling in New Zealand, snuggling up in Sweden’s Ice Hotel, and glamping in the Sahara. Pages 6-18.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO is a regular contributor who has written for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and interviewed Jane Goodall for National Geographic. He is the author of The Creative Spark. In this issue, he travels to Italy for love 24-28 and to Las Vegas with the guys 63-65.

ALEXANDRA BADITA A journaling coach who lives in Bucharest, Romania, Alexandra is the author of the book Write Your Way To Happiness, the journal Impress Yourself Every Day, and hosts the Live Your Impressivity Show podcast. Read her travel story about serendipitous love on page 31.

BRYAN SHELMON Based in Detroit, Bryan has traveled through North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Southeast Asia. His e-book, Detroit Culture Guide, peaked at #1 on Amazon. He has also written for United Airlines, Hotel Tonight. Read about his “mancation” on pages 56-60.

GLORIA GEANNETTE Gloria is a former editor and current travel writer who is always on the move. She divides her time between the New York City area and Sardinia, Italy, where she and her husband recently purchased a seaside apartment. Read her gift of travel story on pages 49-52.

JONATHAN DELISE Hailing from New York City, Jonathan has traveled in more than 100 countries and lived in Japan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Mainland China and Hong Kong. He is a cross-culture business consultant and blogs at Finding Food Fluency. Read about his trip to Riyadh on pages 42-45. 4

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MARY BEMIS, founder of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com, is a respected spa journalist who forged a vocabulary for spa and wellness reportage that is widely used by those who cover the issues today. She is a true spa advocate who believes in the healing power of spas and the benefits of living a spa lifestyle. A longtime New Yorker, she resides in Southern Oregon, on the banks of the Rogue River. Pages 36-37.

CHARLEE TOM (aka @TravelCharlee) A Texan based in Florida, Charlee’s cruise industry career has taken her places – from living in Alaska, to sailing the Caribbean, to hiking Machu Picchu. On route, she has built a network of friends all over the world. Check out her West Palm Beach recommendations on pages 38-39.


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ARTIST CONCEPT ONLY

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The World’s Most Magical Celebration is calling you to commemorate an event 50 years in the making. Because when you celebrate here, nothing could be more magical. ©Disney 2206300 ARTIST CONCEPT ONLY

To book your most magical Walt Disney World vacation, contact us today! INSERT INFORMATION HERE


WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: YEAR OF THE TIGER

Last year was all about staying close to home and moving around in bubbles. This year, we’re bursting those bubbles, texting our travel advisors, and putting big plans into motion. A quick look at the latest travel trends confirms what we already knew—our love of travel runs deep. And there’s no better way to prove the depth of our passion for getting out of town than to take off on fresh, new eye-opening adventures in faraway lands.

WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW — YE AR OF THE TIGER

Year of the Tiger

In With a Roar Big news for Tigger® fans. The first of February 2022 marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger in the lunar calendar. Ever since we did that cruise ship stargazing tour, we’ve been fans of all things lunar. Turns out, a lot of people are. Businesses around the world are already promoting limited edition tiger merch from Air Jordans and Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky to YOT Lego sets. Meanwhile, locals in mainland China – not to mention the Philippines, Mongolia, Tibet, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and cities such as Sydney, London, and Vancouver – are gearing up for feasting, fireworks, good luck wishes, and a spring travel tradition dubbed “the world’s largest annual migration.”

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Tiger Pop Update

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According to EcoWatch, the world was home to more than 100,000 wild tigers just 100 years ago. Today, their numbers are closer to 4,000. Thanks to a number of conservation efforts, including one helmed by actor and philanthropist Leonardo DiCaprio, tiger INTERVIEW populations are rising again. Wild Siberian or Amur tiger populations, who roam the Russian Far East, are down to about 500. Sumatran or Sunda tigers sit at an MUSIC estimated 400. Over in India, Project Tiger is gaining momentum in its goal to save wild Bengal tigers, which number fewer than 3,000. RECIPE

The hope is to increase the population by 35% over the next ten years through the addition of tiger reserves, increasing forest cover to 81 million hectares, and improving the health of the overall ecosystem. COCKTAIL

Conservation-minded travelers are supporting the effort by participating in responsible reserve tours and volunteer efforts in Ranthambore, Pench, Kanha, Corbett, Tadoba, Satpura, Panna, Bandhavgarh, Dudhwa, and Kaziranga National Parks. BOOK The Bengal tiger can reach 10 feet in length and up to 525 pounds of weight.

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How About That Luge Coinciding with Lunar New Year MUSIQUEfestivities, the Winter Olympics will kick off in Beijing and its neighboring Hebei province on Feb 4th, 2022. A total of RECETTE109 competitions will be held in venues run entirely on renewable energy. We’re looking forward to the COCKTAIL

debut of mixed gender team events, the first women’s “monobob” sledding competition LIVRE… and booking that Silk Road tour that’s been on our bucket list for what feels like centuries.

2022 Sporting Tiger Energy VIDEO

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After last year’s Ox-influenced hard VIDÉO

work, 2022 is going to be twelve remarkable months of wide blue oceans, bright orange sunsets, and dreams bursting to life. ENTREVUE

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We’re told this year’s tiger energy will bring excitement, decisive action, fearless adventures, and RECETTE bold pursuits.

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WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: POPULAR CULTURE

Culture Club

WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW — POP CULT URE

When a few travelers went rogue and visited filming locations of their favorite detective shows, we thought it was perhaps a short-lived trend. Turns out, “Location Vacations” (LVs) are only gaining in popularity with each new TV series or film release.

Ticket to Paradise

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Filming Locations Are Still Hot

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Old-school LVers are plotting Lord of the Rings vacations to New Zealand or jetting off to London to relive Harry Potter, and The Crown. Star Wars aficionados are visiting the fourth moon of Yavin, which is actually a series of Mayan ruins in Guatemala’s Tikal National Park. So what destinations can we expect from this year’s new releases? Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is sure to inspire a few trips to the city of lights. Downton Abbey 2: A New Era promises to whisk us away to the south of France. Uncharted film locations can be found in Spain and Germany. While romcom Shotgun Wedding and madcap-fun The Lost City will have us yearning for a beach in the Dominican Republic. Ticket to Paradise is about a trip to Bali, but George Clooney and Julia Roberts are currently filming in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. The trailer for Book of Love already has us craving a trip to Mexico. Argylle, the first in a trilogy of globetrotting spy adventure films. Filming is ongoing in Europe.


We Feel A Travel Binge Coming On Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco

TV series coming in 2022 include House of the Dragon (HBO), a Game of Thrones prequel with filming locations in Cornwall, UK, as well as Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and even Ait-BenHaddou, the UNESCO-listed fortified village in Morocco. A brand new Lord of the Rings is coming to TV too. As if we needed more reasons to visit the United Kingdom, we’ve got: The Witcher, Season 3 of Ted Lasso, and Season 5 of The Crown. Fantasy Island (2021) was filmed in Taveuni, a small island in northern Fiji. The reboot was filmed in Puerto Rico. House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones

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©2022 Carnival Corporation. Carnival and the Carnival logos are trademarks of Carnival Corporation. All rights reserved. Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas, Panama and Malta


WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: LITERARY ESCAPES

Literary Escapes Are Everything Whether we’re slipping hard copies into our carry-ons or loading our devices with audiobooks, 2022 is going to be filled with ever-so-lovely literary escapes that bring faraway lands to life.

WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW —LITER ARY ESC APES

Violeta by Isabel Allende promises to whisk us away to South America, while One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle features a mother-daughter journey to the Amalfi Coast.

We’ll be swept up in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert with When I’m Gone, Look For Me in the East by Quan Barry. The Catch Me if You Can by Jessica Nabongo chronicles one woman’s journey to every country in the world.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson might be best read from a beach lounge in the Caribbean. And The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley is sure to be a mystery worth solving.

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ESCAPE INTO LUXURY

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Discover Secrets Resorts & Spas and indulge in an extra measure of romance in exquisite luxury beachfront settings amid the allure of the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Each of our resorts offers a unique experience for adults looking to escape INTERVIEW the everyday and delight in the warm rhythm of an intimate, tropical getaway.

HOME IS WHERE THE BEACH IS

We welcome you home with amazing savings up to 40%, $200 in Resort Coupons plus Exclusive Perks including: One bottle of wine/sparkling wine, rum, or tequila 25% Discount on Spa Services One in-room champagne breakfast Complimentary upgrade from standard to nonstop airport transfers roundtrip

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VALID FOR RESORTS IN: Costa Rica | Dominican Republic Jamaica | Mexico | St. Martin

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And new properties opening soon! Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort – just opened Secrets Moxché Playa del Carmen – opening February 2022 Secrets Impression Moxché – opening February 2022 RECIPE

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Booking Window: Now – 3/29/22 Travel Window: Now – 8/20/22 caption

Contact Your Travel Advisor Today! Terms, conditions and restrictions apply to Resort Coupons. Exclusive Perks offers vary by hotel. 4-night minimum stay required. Spa discounts apply to spa treatments and services only; not applicable towards the purchase of spa products. Discounted amenities and services cannot be combined with other discounts or special offers on property. Additional restrictions may apply on eligible Spa Services. All services should be arranged with the concierge after check-in. Resort coupons cannot be combined with spa discounts. Valid for travel through 12/21/22.Travel dates and other restrictions may apply. Not valid on contracted groups unless otherwise noted. Added value amenities, benefits, etc., are offered strictly through Apple Vacations and affiliated ALG Vacations® brands, are subject to change, and may be withdrawn at any time. Bookings are subject to the current terms and conditions. Apple Vacations is not responsible for errors or omissions. CST #2139014-20. 39051 AV 12.21


WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW —URBANE XPLORING

WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: URBAN EXPLORING

Urban Exploring Cities are back. And not just some cities—all cities. Big cities, small cities. Cities with skyscrapers, medinas, and palaces. Cities with skating rinks, museums, and parks where couples kiss and birds dine on the remnants of buttery croissants. Cities with avant-garde window displays, gallery events, and flower shops. Energetic, open-air market, sidewalk café, hot cappuccinos on a sunny afternoon cities. Street musician, street fair, street artist cities. Cities with boisterous central squares, cobblestones with stories to tell, tranquil corners for contemplation. And dazzling night lights that always seem to leave us wanting more.

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WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: URBAN EXPLORING

Seoul, South Korea First, the K-pop music group BTS captured our attention. Now, K-drama TV series are all the rage. Disney’s Asia-Pacific president recently predicted South Korea will be a “global content power house.” And Disney has a way of making dreams come true. Couple that with Thrillist’s ranking Seoul as the “number one party city in the world” and, well, let’s just say we’re hoping to get there before the crowds. As far as urban exploring goes, this city hits the jackpot. With the Han River running through its middle, Seoul is a riot of neon signs, night clubs, karaoke rooms, palaces, skyscrapers, VIDEO VIDÉO Buddhist temples, designer boutiques, Insadong tearooms, the list goes on.

WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW — U R BA N E X PLOR ING — SEO U L

INTERVIEWBTS is at home ENTREVUE on their

Permission to Dance tour in March 2022. But, you know, no hurry.

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The Griffin Bar, located in the LIVRE JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square, is one of the most popular rooftop bars in Seoul. Worth noting is the Arirang cocktail with munbaeju (wine), black sesame, and other traditional Korean ingredients.

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N Seoul Tower is an iconic structure in central Seoul. It features an observatory with panoramic views of the entire city. The terrace is a popular spot where couples attach notes to the fence to commemorate their love.

Saebyukjib means “house of dawn,” which is only fitting for a 24-hour BBQ restaurant. Dawn, dusk, midnight, or any time in between, Saebyukjib is ready to satisfy any cravings. It’s the place to be for late-night barbecue.


IT’S YOUR HEART THAT TAKES YOU PLACES We make your travels to the world’s most magical destinations possible. But it’s your endless passion for discovery that leads you there.

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Contact your Travel Advisor today. Ask about our agency benefits, including FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities.

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WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: URBAN EXPLORING

Paris, France

WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW I URBAN E XPLORING-PARIS

First love, amiright? Some of us binged Season 2 of Emily in Paris as soon as it was released. Others re-watched The French Exit or Amélie. But we all squealed with glee when we heard about French Bee, the smart new airline offering nonstops from Newark to Orly, France, three times a week. Word is, they bring you Champagne at 1:00 a.m. Now that’s the kind of bubbles we can get into.

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Featured in Emily in Paris, and billed as the “ideal place to boost low morale,” La Société, in the sixth arrondissement, offers upscale eats and celebrity sightings. For a slightly less see-and-be-seen scene, another filming location, Tortuga Galeries Lafayette stands out. Beneath the arcades of the Louvre museum, the brasserie Le Café Marly has an open terrace with views of the museum’s pyramids.

Of course, shopping in Paris is always in vogue. The chic boutiques at Au Printemps, Le Bon Marché, and Galeries Lafayette are favored by locals. The opulent La Samaritaine just reopened after a major restoration that brought back some of the mall’s Belle Époque-era decadence, whichVIDEO Parisians are warming to verrrry slowly.

Le Film Paris International Film Festival (PIFF) opens February 10th this year. As of printing, virtual all-access passes were still available, including entry to the cinema showings, Eiffel Tower Q&As, a mini-market, and networking in locations around the city. #LoveOurFuture

Ooh la la. Outdoor markets in Paris are INTERVIEW busy again. Tops on the list is the jubilant Le Marché d’Aligre – in the city’s 12th arrondissement – a delightful mélange of fruit and vegetable stands, fresh MUSIC flowers, meats and fish, artisanal cheeses, croissants, tartes, and more.

Le Cafe´Marly

Your Guide to Paris Sidewalk Café Etiquette

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26 Emily in Paris Filming Locations You Can Visit

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WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW — URBAN E XPLORING — BUENOS AIRES

WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: URBAN EXPLORING

Buenos Aires, Argentina “We are passionate … we give big embraces … our tables are always crowded … we express our emotions with enviable ease … we don’t receive tourists, we make friends.” They had us at yerba mates, sunshine, and tango dancing but now we’re truly intrigued. The “city of many passions” is trendy right now and it’s not hard to see why. Who wouldn’t melt at such a warm welcome? Digital worker visas are currently available for stays up to a year. Which makes booking that long stay “workation” in the Argentine capital a muito bom idea indeed.

With time to roam, we’re looking forward to fútbol, polo, and pato matches, tango festivals, music, arts, and the return of Carnaval de Buenos Aires, February 28 through March 1st, with more than 100 murgas, parades, and parties. Of course, a true sampling of the Porteños lifestyle includes steaks, all-nighters, and oneof-a-kind cocktails.

Among The World’s 50 Best Bars, three are in Buenos Aires Floreria Atlantico is a speakeasy hidden behind an antique refrigerator door at the back of a flower shop.

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Presidente is a glam, chandelier-lit space where you can get a Buenos Aires Zombie in a seriously cool mug.

Tres Monos, aka three monkeys, rounds out the list with an edgy, neon-infused atmosphere and rebellious cocktails and mocktails that are always a good time.


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Enjoy up to $85 USD onboard spending money per stateroom2! Contact your travel agency to book today!

*Fares are per guest per day and apply to minimum lead-in categories on Emerald Princess® 6/14/22 for 12-day Northern Europe cruise only on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares are non-air, cruise or cruisetour-only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. Fares and other values quoted as indicated. A refundable deposit is required for all stateroom guests and amount varies according to the cruise length, stateroom type and number of stateroom guests. Please refer to your travel advisor for terms, conditions and definitions that apply to all bookings. 1 Best Sale Ever Terms Certain restrictions apply, please refer to your travel advisor for complete term, conditions and definitions that apply to all bookings. Offer valid 12/15/21 to 3/2/22

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WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: LOCAL PERSPECTIVES

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“Where is the best place to be on December 31st at 11:55 p.m.?” my friends wanted to know. Right away I said, Burj Park Dubai! And I meant it. Who wouldn’t want to see world’s tallest skyscraper, highest dancing BOOK fountain, and the most iconic fireworks and laser spectacle on earth? Although I have lived in Dubai since 2016, each year I attend the New Year’s celebration as if it were my first chance. And Dubai never disappoints. With that recommendation, my friends – a fellow pharmacist from Manchester and a flight attendant from Istanbul – were in. As the sun set on the last day of the year, I met them at their hotel near the Financial Centre. Certain roads were closed for the evening’s events, so we caught the red line to Dubai Mall Metro Station. From there, it was an easy walk over a pedestrian bridge to the heart of downtown.

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We could feel the energy in the air as we crossed the bridge and joined the thousands of Emiratis and expats gathering in Burj Park. The bars and clubs facing Burj Khalifa had been booked weeks in advance. The park itself was lined with food and beverage outlets. To one side, a large screen had been set up to broadcast New Year’s Eve events from around the world.

midst of it all, my friends and I were amazed and overwhelmed.

Out on the lake, Dubai Fountain shot streams of water 500 feet into the air, in sync with music blasting from speakers around the venue. They played western hits, like Sia by Cheap Thrills and Arabian songs, such as Saad Lamjarred by LM3ALLEM. Standing together in the

Gradually, all the skyscrapers joined the party and fireworks cracked in the sky. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and we danced, sang, and laughed through the night. Yes, standing in the glow of the Burj Kalifa was indeed the best place to begin a new year.

As midnight approached and the countdown began, the roar of the crowd swelled with anticipation. We all turned to the iconic Burj Kalifa and cheered as the building lit up with mesmerizing lights, fireworks, and laser displays that seemed to defy reality.

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WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW — LOC AL PER SPEC TIVES — DUBAI

The Best Place to Be

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WHAT’S TRENDING NOW: LOCAL PERSPECTIVES

Abu Dhabi - In My Words

by MERIL ELIZABETH VARGHESE

I was born in Abu Dhabi and have lived here for over three decades. This city has given me a joyful childhood and a bunch of friends from different walks of life. We respect each other’s beliefs and traditions by celebrating every occasion together.

WHAT ’S TRENDING NOW — LOC AL PER SPEC TIVES — ABU DHABI

The variety of food in Abu Dhabi has kept everyone, including me, wanting to stay or return quickly no matter where we travel. My tastebuds opt for French, Thai, Arabian, or Indian. As soon as I say the name of the cuisine aloud, the opportunity to eat it appears!

Have you ever been to a real palace without the King or Queen’s invitation? I have! Well, a majority of residents and visitors to Abu Dhabi have, as the Emirates Palace – at the southern end of the Corniche – is open to visitors. The first time I went there, I kept looking around, thinking someone was going to stop me. But no one did! The huge doorway and interior decor always welcome me to experience the riches of the nation.

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A walk along Abu Dhabi’s 8km Corniche, in summer or winter, can calm one’s mind. I go there to laugh my lungs off with friends or to vent out with a loved one. The beaches beside the walkway are usually full of sunbathers or parents with children. One of my favorite things to do is walk while the moon and stars are wide awake, leaving my hair open for the breezes to play with.

One of my favorite places to dine is the Sontaya-St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, the ambiance there makes my friends and me feel like cruisers enjoying classy recipes on their voyage. The menu here has choices for those who count calories and those who prefer not to. I have a sweet tooth, so my eye immediately skips to the desserts section and settles on the molten cake.

“The go-to food for anyone is Shawarma. Each bite makes me wonder how some meat rolled up can be this tasty—the sum of all the ingredients could be the secret.”

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Chasing Chiara by MICHAEL SHAPIRO

A brief, shining moment with a clear, bright light

My long-ago trip to Italy began with a phone call to a young woman I’d met two years prior in San Francisco. As I dialed, my hand shook. Would she remember me? “Pronto” came the familiar voice. “Hi, is this Chiara?” “Si, yes.” “My name is Michael, we met in California, do you remember … ” “Of course I remember, the boy with the curly hair,” she said with a knowing chuckle. “Right, well, I’m with friends in Italy, near Milano.” “Then you must come and see me.”

A few days later, I took a train to from Milano to Vicenza, a city about an hour west of Venice. I disembarked and looked right at Chiara but for a moment didn’t recognize her. She was thinner, her hair lighter. We hugged, tentatively, more strangers than friends. Chiara, whose name means “clear, bright” looked gorgeous. Her hazel eyes sparkled, her smile lit up the city, her naturally wavy chestnut hair cascaded over her sweatshirt, caressing her shoulders. She took me home to meet her parents. Her mother warmly greeted me, beckoning me inside with enthusiastic arm motions; her father seemed aloof, distant, gruff; her dog, Brillo, ran toward me. I dropped my luggage in the small, dimly

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Vicenza

“At a café we drank sweet local wine, marveling at the improbability of seeing one another again.”

lighted guestroom and just moments after we’d arrived, Chiara pulled me out of her family’s home.

on the edge, a domineering father and her exhausting night-shift job at a U.S. military base.

Under threatening skies, we went out for a walk to see restored stone houses down by Vicenza’s main canal. Chiara took me to the Central Square; statues of griffons and war heroes stood atop pedestals 30 feet high.

We ordered a pizza; I met some of her friends, so vivacious and stylish with classic Italian panache. We went to an ice-cream shop for some gelato, so much more flavorful than any ice cream I’d had in the U.S. As night began to fall, we headed back to Chiara’s home.

At a café we drank sweet local wine, marveling at the improbability of seeing one another again. Chiara told me, without a trace of self-pity, about her sister’s problems, which had everyone in the family deeply concerned. I was sad to hear about her sister’s challenges but encouraged by how open she was with me. The attraction I’d felt in California swept back in like the tide. I wanted to take her away from everything that troubled her: her sister 26

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As if on cue, the skies opened and rain came flooding down, soaking through our clothes to the skin. We ran joyfully as distant thunder rumbled. The rain washed off Chiara’s makeup; her natural beauty emerged. She showed me to my room and left for her 11 p.m. shift at the base. When I got up, Chiara was putting the finishing touches on our bountiful breakfast. After working all night and going to an exercise class, she brought


Marostica

home fresh croissants and rolls, a jar of marmalade and, just in case I didn’t like the marmalade, another kind of jam, all served with rich coffee. She looked fresh and alive, not like someone who’d worked the graveyard shift. Chiara needed to rest so I hopped a train to Venice and explored the Jewish ghetto, Europe’s first. It was formed in 1516 and for almost three centuries the city’s Jews were required to live there and stay within the ghetto’s bounds from 7 p.m. to sunrise. You could still see the marks in the walls from the hinges that held the ghetto’s doors. The next day, after working another all-night shift, Chiara took me to meet two kids she babysat: Giovanni and Giuseppe. They were ages 5 and 3, adopted from Vietnam. I was startled to hear Vietnamese-born kids speak with Italian accents. Chiara shone with love for

these boys and they loved her back. “She’s so good with kids,” I later wrote in my journal. “I’m sure she’ll make a wonderful mother someday.” My feelings for Chiara kept building, but between sightseeing and her job, there didn’t seem to be an auspicious time to give words to what I felt was our deepening connection. She was just 20 years old; I was 21 and not sure what my next move should be. Don’t blow it, I thought, just enjoy the ride. We drove about an hour from Vicenza into the foothills of the Alps. Chiara took me to a town called Marostica, where people dress up as chess pieces and masters come to direct them across a gigantic chessboard. There was no game when we visited – it’s only played once every two years during a summer festival – but I could imagine the life-size rooks, bishops, kings and queens, moving in lines

“The view below us swept down for miles. As we walked through the ancient stone streets it felt like a dream—my dream of how I wanted everything to turn out two years before when I first met Chiara.”

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“Chiara tookMUSIQUE me to a town called Marostica, where people dress up as chess pieces and masters come to direct them across a gigantic chessboard.”

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across the squares in the shadow of the adjacent castle, a Campanilelike tower rising above it. The view below us swept down for miles. As we walked through the ancient stone streets it felt like a dream—my dream of how I wanted everything to turn out two years before when I first met Chiara. She walked ahead of me, looked back, her smile beckoning me forward. Occasionally she lingered a step or two behind me, lost in thought or maybe succumbing to fatigue. In a nearby town, we hiked up a hill to a castle for another glorious view of the patchwork of homes and fields below us. At a well we tossed some coins. I wished for Chiara to escape the traps in her life, to find a place where she could feel free. As we hiked back from the castle, she began skipping and jumping down the hill. I marveled at her energy and optimism. At the bottom, a scrawny kid was selling watermelon. He was proud to have a real American at 28

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his place, even prouder to cut the slices himself with a big sharp knife. Chiara had been moving for a day and a half without sleep. COCKTAIL

When we got back to her family’s home, exhaustion caught up with her. We watched Star Trek BOOK in Italian and I gave her a foot massage as she fell asleep on a couch. Her father came into the living room, glowered at me and sat down with his newspaper. It didn’t occur to me until then that a foot massage could be seen as an intimate act. Chiara’s father understood this. That meant I’d have to leave in the morning. I implored Chiara to come visit me in southern France, where I had plans to meet my parents and brother, and held her until the train blew its final whistle. A few days later I found a payphone by the boardwalk in Nice and called Chiara— expecting the inevitable: Sorry, I’d like to meet you but just can’t get away.

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Just hearing her voice made my heart leap. “Yes,” she said, she’d gotten the time off work and would meet me in southern France. Yes? It COCKTAIL took a moment to register. Yes! I told her how happy I’d be to see her and she signed off with a laughing LIVRE“Ciao.” I was sharing a hotel room with my brother and knew that wouldn’t do. I’d have to get separate accommodations for the time Chiara visited. Just beyond the tourist area of Nice, I found a cozy, whitewashed hotel with sea views. The desk clerk asked if I wanted two separate beds or “un grand lit” (one big bed). I didn’t want to be presumptuous; Chiara and I hadn’t done anything more intimate than kiss (or maybe the foot massage). But then – almost reflexively – came my response, which would shape the next few days, four syllables that I’d never regret: “Oui, un grand lit!”

Our travel advisors are experts in whisking you away to the most romantic corners of Italy.


Monte Carlo, Monaco

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With Azamara®, you’ll find so many ways to immerse yourself with plenty of time to absorb it all. Our carefully curated immersive itineraries feature longer stays, more overnights, and unique night touring, allowing you to experience more of the history, arts, cuisine, and local customs that make each destination memorable. And we have a special offer to inspire your next explorations. Save up to 30% and receive $500 in Onboard Credit on a wide variety of voyages sailing from January 7, 2022 – May 5, 2023. Experience the magnificent caveenclosed Melissani Lake in Argostoli, Greece, or search for lady luck while cruising to Monte Carlo, Monaco, where the prestigious Grand Prix race has been held there since 1929. Azamara welcomes you to uncover all seven continents and discover a world within the world.

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TO BOOK YOUR VOYAGE: CONTACT YOUR ENSEMBLE TRAVEL ADVISOR TODAY. *Offer applies to new bookings created between December 15, 2021 – March 31, 2022 (“Offer Period”). Offer applies to select sailings departing January 7, 2022–May 5, 2023. Offer provides up to 30% off cruise fare, and a $500 Onboard Credit (OBC) per stateroom. OBC is in USD, per stateroom based on double occupancy, has no cash value, is not redeemable for cash, is not transferable, and will expire if not used by 10p.m. on the last evening of the voyage. All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees, and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests. Limit one offer per stateroom. Offer applies to new, individual bookings named and fully deposited during the Offer Period. Offer is combinable with Back to Back Benefits, onboard booking savings and Azamara Circle Quarterly Savings, National Account Hosted and Amenity Programs, and one other OBC or value add. Unless stated otherwise, offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Last Minute Voyages, Closed User Rates, Employee Rates, Interline Rates, Travel Agent Rates, and Net Rates. Offer is not applicable to 3rd and 4th guests in a stateroom. Offer is applicable to non-contracted group bookings. Offer is not applicable to incentive or contracted groups. After the Offer Period, the offer will be removed from the booking if the guest cancels and reinstates the booking, applies a fare change, or changes the ship or sail date of the booking; certain other changes to the booking may also result in removal of the offer. Offer is subject to availability and change without notice and may be withdrawn at any time. Single occupancy guests paying 200% cruise fare are eligible for the full amount of the offer; single occupancy guests paying less than 200% cruise fare are eligible for a prorated amount of the offer. This offer is applicable to U.S., Canada, and select global markets only. Refer to Azamara.com/SAVE30 and the Cruise Ticket Contract for additional terms and conditions. ©2022 Azamara. Ships registered in Malta.


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Contact Your Trusted Travel Advisor to Book Today. Offer subject to change without notice; other restrictions may apply. For complete details on this offer, visit deltavacations.com/go/GO350. All SkyMiles Program rules apply. To review the rules, please visit delta.com/memberguide. Bonus miles do not count toward Medallion® Status or Million Miler™ Status. Offers void where prohibited by law. ©2022 Delta Vacations DV34259

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UNEXPECTED LOVE

Barcelona

Londoon

Running with Serendipity A chance meeting and the precious gift of choosing love over fear “Can I kiss you?” he asked, gazing at me with his blue eyes when we stopped to cross the street. It was the middle of the night and we had been walking through the quiet city center of Yerevan, Armenia’s ancient capital, for a few hours. I had an early morning flight and he had offered to keep me company instead of going to sleep. The air was still heavy after a day of 102 ºF heat, yet my adrenaline gave me goosebumps. T. and I had only met two days before. I had been attending my friend’s wedding, he was the groom’s best man. When the reception finished, we moved the party to the hotel bar. There, we connected over Backstreet Boys songs and golden retrievers, shared stories about my Romanian background and his Dutch roots, and completely ignored that my home in Bucharest and his life in London were more than a thousand miles apart. After we kissed goodbye and my taxi drove off, T. texted to ask me out in two weeks, when I would be in London for business. A

by ALEXANDRA BADITA

few dates in the British capital turned into a holiday week in Barcelona, then flying several times between London and Bucharest. Every step of the way, I was choosing love instead of letting “what if ” creep in. Even when he confessed his reluctance to a long-distance relationship while we were sipping coffee in the noisy Mercado de la Boqueria, I chose to put the fear of the inevitable heartbreak aside. I excused myself to the bathroom, and told myself in the mirror, “Alex, you will be okay, no matter what.” In that moment, I chose to love myself enough to see the gift of the present moment, enjoying our little Spanish escape with a lot of tapas, Sangria, and romance. Five months and 11 flights later, it all ended abruptly over the phone. But I was right, I was okay eventually. And choosing to live life, to capture those memories, was my greatest gift and lesson. After all, the only risks worth taking are for love—love for yourself, for life, and sometimes for a mysterious ginger man you meet at a wedding in a foreign country.

“A few dates in the British capital turned into a holiday week in Barcelona, then flying several times between London and Bucharest.“

Where will you fall unexpectedly in love? Only your trusted travel advisor knows...

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R E I G N I T E

THE PROMISE OF DUBAI by Adepeju Toromade

Can travel repair a love that has drifted apart?

“This isn’t working,” Nathan said to me during lunch near our homes in Ontario, Canada. I’m not trying to sound like a Taylor Swift song, but those words pierced my entire soul. He was right. We both knew it was true. We just hadn’t been able to admit it. Nathan had been working nonstop as a real estate agent. I had been equally busy with my writing career and trying to launch my fashion business. Our aspirations had been part of our initial attraction. Now, one year into our relationship, neither of us could fathom how we had gone from super loveydovey to almost strangers. “I’ve got a meeting in Dubai next week,” he continued, speaking softly as he reached across the table for my hands. “But I don’t want to miss your birthday and I don’t want to lose you. Travel with me, please?”

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While we had both traveled solo to places like Zanzibar and Panama, we had never been anywhere together. The prospect of going as a couple to Dubai sounded divine. “Sure, Babe,” I said, even though, at that moment, I was not actually sure of anything at all. Nathan contacted Adrian, our friend and agent, that afternoon, to see what he could make happen. The following week, we flew business class to Dubai – a totally luxurious experience – arriving pampered and rested on my birthday. I wanted to begin celebrating but business, the reason we were there to begin with, had to come first. So I went to get some fries and a mojito at a nearby cafe, while Nathan went to his meeting. Forty-five minutes later, he had sealed the deal and we were ready to begin our vacation.


Adrian had booked us into Atlantis Dubai on the famous Palm Island. Gosh! It was all so dreamy. After a year of trying to find time for each other, this, was divine! As we settled into our room, Nathan got a text from Adrian. “He got us reservations at Ossiano at 8:00 p.m.” I took time doing my skincare routine, put on my special emerald birthday dress, and paired it with rose-gold stilettos. Nathan looked amazing in his velvet tux. We were in fashionable Dubai, after all—couldn’t let the locals down. Nathan cupped my face in his hands, kissed me, then held me by the waist while we walked down to Ossiano. Sitting next to the aquarium, the view was breathtaking. I felt like I was in paradise. The seven-course menu was so surreal. I loved the foie gras, lobster, and the wagyu beef. Nathan raved about the Bresse chicken.

The highlight was when Tshering, our waitress, brought me a caramel cake with candles. “Aww,” I purred, looking into Nathan’s eyes. “I just want to make you feel special on this day,” he said, adding, “… and every other day.” After dinner we changed clothes, made our way to the beach club, and sat beneath the stars talking about our relationship and how we had drifted because we hadn’t been spending quality time, like this, together. There, on pool lounges with views of the Dubai skyline, we made a promise that we’d go on trips at least once every six months. The love, the spark, the ignition. It wasn’t gone. It had been there all along. We just needed to go away to find it again.

Contact your trusted travel advisor to plan the perfect romantic escape. EN S EM B L E VAC AT I ON S I WIN T E R SPR I N G

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FINDING THE HIDDEN PIECES by AGNES GROONWALD

I grew up in Chicago as the child of Polish immigrants. My mother is from Goniądz, a small town not far from Belarus. My father was from the Warsaw suburbs. Saturdays in Chicago were dedicated to Polish school where I learned how to read, write, and talk with some level of authority on Polish geography. It seemed like a punishment.

We saw the home my father grew up in and met distant relatives for the first time. We traveled south to Kraków and met the Wawel Dragon, breathing fire on cue in the least menacing way. We spent a full week in my mother’s hometown, a place rebuilt from the ground up following World War II and now a haven for birders thanks to the Biebrza River.

Living in Chicago, a city with more Poles than many Polish towns, I was surrounded by reminders of my parents’ homeland, which I took it for granted. I didn’t want to be an “other,” the child of immigrants. At times I was even embarrassed by my parents’ accents or lack of understanding American cultural norms. It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood, unfortunately after my father passed away, that my mother finally agreed to take me to Poland.

I took a second trip with my husband and two friends several years later. It was this trip that allowed me to embrace my “otherness” as a strength. I showed off places I’d been before, navigated menus in my native language, and shared pieces of myself that had been hidden away growing up. We laughed over pickled herring and vodka shooters and cried over a guided visit to AuschwitzBirkenau. We marveled over the resilience of this place.

That trip to Poland changed how I understood my parents and how I understood myself. It helped me love myself.

Travel opens minds. In my case, it helped me open my own and better appreciate where I came from. I discovered that I love the place that has since become such an important piece of who I am.

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Warsaw

Kraków


Krakow

Biebiza River

Contact your trusted travel advisor to plan your trip to self discovery today.

“That trip to Poland changed how I understood my parents and how I understood myself. It helped me love myself.”

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More Than Skin Deep

Couples massage at The Retreat Costa Rica

by MARY BEMIS

“Touch nurtures and fosters emotional and physical stability, conveying the message of care, acceptance, and unconditional love,” explains Anne Bramham, founder of the American Spa Therapy and Education Certification Council (ASTECC). “When we touch, we touch the body-mind, which partners in the restorative care of all of our issues— strengthening immunity, fortitude, and the desire for life.” We knew we loved our massages, now we know why. Whether it’s the capable hands of a skilled masseuse, a rain room, deep vibrations, or soothing heat, no vacation is complete without the sense of touch. 36

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A Touch of the Rainforest

The Benefits of Sea Days

The ultimate sensual journey just may be Crystal Healing for Couples at The Retreat Costa Rica. This 120-minute ritual was created to “strengthen a couple’s heart connection.” It begins with a side-by-side amethyst scrub and an outdoor, crystal-infused shower to clear old energies.

Silversea Cruises is launching a new wellness concept called Otium, which takes its cue from ancient Romans who knew a thing or two about sensual pleasures. Debuting on the Silver Dawn in Europe this spring, the concept breaks free of the spa itself— enabling guests to indulge in everything from insuite comfort food sessions, couples massages set to music, and candlelit bath experiences to scentbased sleep treatments and “Under the Sun” balcony sunbathing sessions.

Couples are then treated to a romantic hydrotherapy bath with essential oil, moonstone dust, and color therapy that ignites the chakras—seven specific energy points that bind couples together. After a soothing side-by-side heart chakra massage, music and sound meditation bring tantric energies, and a ceremonial chocolate tincture is consumed to stimulate natural production of the love hormone, oxytocin. Weary travelers who check into Hotel Xcaret Mexico will find Muluk Spa’s cave-like, natural rock treatment rooms a sight for sore eyes. Here, sight, sound, aromas, tastes, and touch combine to create multi-sensory journeys that involve massages, flotariums, mud baths, Temazcal steam ceremonies, hydrotherapy, Mayan “Love Thing” facials … and a wellness bar with teas, tisanes, and infusions of fresh fruits, spices, and roots.

Lotus Spa aboard Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess is a haven for wellness-seeking lovebirds. In addition to private couples villas, the facility is home to The Enclave, a spacious thermal suite featuring an enticing waterfall rain pool. There’s also a Scrub & Shine Bar, where a variety of aromatic ingredients can be blended to create personalized salt or sugar scrubs. The Spa aboard Celebrity Edge is billed as a “playground for the senses” with eight distinct treatment areas including a Turkish Hammam, luminous Crystalarium, infrared sauna room, and Float Room with swinging chairs and windows overlooking the sea. Treatments include cold therapy, thousand flower detox, earth grounding, zero gravity immersion massages, and destination inspired potions that set the mood for exploration. Ask your trusted travel advisor about complimentary amenities, available when you book a spa travel experience with us.

Muluk Spa in the Hotel Xcaret

The Float Room in the spa aboard Celebrity Edge

Waterfall rain pool aboard Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess ENSEMBLE VAC ATIONS I WINTER SPRING

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U.S. CI T Y S P OTLI GHT

TSEW MLAP ,HCAEB !YBA

by CHARLOTTE TOM (AKA @TRAVELCHARLEE)

CIT Y SPOTLIGHT

THAT SMALL TOWN FEEL Rosemary Square “The Square” as it’s known by locals offers shops, arts, culture, dining and more. The Wishing Banyan Tree with 100,000 full-color-spectrum LEDs embedded in 10,000 leaves is a must see. There’s also a Water Pavilion and open-air art installations in District Art. WPB Waterfront Screen on the Green features family movies on the waterfront the second Friday of every month. Sunday on the Waterfront is where locals gather with blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy live music. from acts like The Derek Mack Band, Def Leggend, and more. The GreenMarket is a “one in a melon” farmer’s market that comes to life every Saturday through the middle of April with 100 vendors selling fresh produce, gourmet foods and beverages, home décor, meats, seafood, plants, flowers, and more. Clematis Street By day, it’s a charming waterfront with retail shops and a free trolley. By night, it’s a vibrant entertainment district, with boat docks, dancing fountains, dining, nightclubs, and more. Clematis by Night heats up with special events every Thursday night, year-round. 38

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A budding financial district situated on Florida’s Atlantic coast – just a short drive from the cruise departure points of Port of Miami and Port Everglades – West Palm Beach lives up to its sunshine state potential and then some. With fewer crowds than Miami, gorgeous weather, and an abundance of beaches, hotels, bars and restaurants it’s the perfect pre- or post-cruise stopover. Here’s what I love about living in West Palm Beach.

Charlotte enjoying the Eau Palm Beach spa’s Self-Centered Garden


A ROOM BESIDE THE SEA W P B H A S C U LT U R E T O O Norton Museum A major facelift was completed in 2019, which added a sculpture garden, restaurant, and a Great Hall that serves as a “living room” and outdoor space for evening events such as Art After Dark on Fridays with live entertainment. Serenity Garden Tea House Care for a little Southern hospitality? Set in a historic 1919 cottage, this tea house serves high tea in proper vintage cups with finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, and adorable quiches. Oh and “Tot Tea” with mini cupcakes too.

Flagler Museum Located on Palm Beach Island. Henry Flagler built the 75-room, 100,000-square-foot Whitehall mansion in the Gilded Age as a wedding present for his wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler. The elite couple used the home as a winter retreat.

Eau Palm Beach This is where I tell friends to stay to catch the sunrise over the ocean. The spa has a Co-Ed Self-Centered Garden and a DIY Scrub & Polish Bar. Worth it Splurge: “The Perfect Champagne & Caviar Couples Journey” or “Couples Chrysalises: A Taste of Hammam for Two.” Agency Exclusives: • B reakfast for two daily in Temple Orange Mediterranean Bistro ($30 credit per person inclusive of tax & gratuity) • $ 100 resort credit per room, per stay

INSTAWORTHY EVENTS Palm Beach International Boat Show Thinking of buying your sweetheart a yacht? Every March, this over-the-top extravaganza is the place to find more than $1.2 billion in yachts, boats, and nautical toys a would-be sailor could want.

SunFest (April 28 – May 1, 2022) “Where the music meets the sun” sums it up perfectly. This is the perfect long weekend with local artists, live music, great eats, a floating bar, and the TGi5k Race—all set on the waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach.

DINE LIKE THE LOCALS Table 26 This is one of my personal favorites! It’s a great spot for happy hour with friends or a dynamite romantic dinner for two. They have a seasonal menu, but a few favorites are the lobster mac & cheese, lamb burger, and, of course the 26º North Martini.

Maison Carlos This small, unassuming French restaurant is perfect for a romantic date night. They have an extensive wine list and dishes range from soufflés and snails to crispy duck breast and a “French attitude burger.”

Pistache This super social and slightly more upscale French restaurant is big with all the locals. They have themed “happenings” like 2-for-1 Happy Hours, Mussels Mondays, Wine & Cheese Wednesdays, and Unlimited Rosé Brunches.

Spruzzo The location, Narcissus Avenue, speaks volumes about the hip clientele you’ll bump elbows with at this rooftop venue. Menu offerings include fresh seafood, wine, cocktails, and bottle service packages with names like “Palm Beach Privilege.”

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For the most enriching experience of Hawai‘i, make time to join efforts to mālama (care for) this truly special place and unique culture. Contact your trusted travel advisor today.


WHAT IS YOUR TRAVEL LOVE LANGUAG The Hawaiian language is a rich collection of stunningly beautiful words, and one of those, of course, is aloha – immediately familiar worldwide and loaded with sentiment that will always be synonymous with the islands. But people considering a visit to Hawai‘i today are more and more likely to encounter another beautiful Hawaiian word: mālama. Like so many words in the Hawaiian language, mālama has a number of different definitions. It can mean to take care of, to attend to or cherish, to preserve or protect, and even to save. So mālama is a word used often across Hawai‘i today in discussions about the importance of preserving and protecting the destination’s oceans, its land, and the people who call the islands home. In Hawai‘i, we do our best to take care of others, and others, in turn, do their best to look after us. It’s a pervasive part of life here that reaches across all the islands, spreading through each community no matter how bustling and busy or sleepy and remote. Home for 1.4 million people, the Hawaiian archipelago is one of the most isolated land masses on the planet, separated from California by nearly 2,400 miles of ocean, and the Hawaiian Islands are more than 3,800 miles from Japan. Hawai‘i’s geographic isolation and the islands’ relatively small total population play an

important role in the strong personal bonds people share here with family and friends, as well as our close ties with neighbors and our communities. Mālama helps to define that sentiment of caring we share for others here in Hawai‘i, whether the islands are home or they are a treasured vacation destination. Mālama for others is an idea rooted firmly in Hawaiian culture, and so is taking care of the islands’ resources – the land, the ocean, sea life, birds, plants and trees – to ensure they remain healthy and prosper for future generations. Simply put, we do our best to perpetuate the beauty, the people, the culture and uniqueness of this place because if we take care of the Hawaiian Islands, they will take care of us. By taking part in opportunities to mālama (care for) Hawai‘i, you not only show your love for the islands, but you also allow yourself to have a more enriching experience that truly stays with you long after you return home. ENSEMBLE VAC ATIONS I WINTER fSPRING flffflfl fiā


A Minor Obsession by JONATHAN DELISE

Kingdom Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Nearly a decade ago, before tourist visas were available for Saudi Arabia, I tried sweet-talking my way into the country. At the time, I was merely transiting the Gulf nation, en route from Cairo to Addis Ababa, with a 12-hour layover at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport. Like any westerner, I was curious about the country. Admittedly, my curiosity for the capital had intensified shortly before my arrival. As my Saudia Airlines flight was preparing to land, I had noticed an unusual skyscraper jutting out of the middle of this desert metropolis. The building appeared to be in the shape of a bottle opener, which seemed ironic to me, given the strict rules regarding alcohol consumption. My sense of adventure and curiosity was peaked. Did it have an observation deck? Who were the tenants? What was used as scaffolding? After whiling away a few hours in the strong air conditioning and sampling the local dates (I really love dates), my curiosity turned to

obsession and I decided to approach immigration to see if there was a chance. Of course, they protested. I volleyed back with Saudi points of interest I had looked up only moments before. Ultimately, the immigration officers had a good chuckle, held their ground, and hinted that tourist visas were “in the works.” With no way to enter as a tourist and a lack of wasta – loosely translated as “clout” or “connections” necessary to get a work or business visa – I figured I would never have the opportunity to visit. Little did I know that my wasta would soon come. Four years later, as part of a larger roundthe-world trip, I arrived at Saudi Arabia’s immigration desk once again and presented them with a recently minted work visa. Thirty minutes later, I was greeted at the Ritz-Carlton with cardamom-infused coffee and dates. Did I mention I love dates? Even though it was 3:00 a.m., I couldn’t sleep. I was finally in Saudi Arabia and I wanted to savor every minute. With a 6:30 a.m. breakfast buffet reservation awaiting me, I spent the

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early hours of the morning wandering through the palatial hotel and speaking with members of the diverse workforce. As is the case with other Gulf countries there’s a massive expat contingent in Saudi Arabia, tending towards Egypt and East Africa, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Having recently returned from a visit to Kathmandu, I waxed nostalgic with Nepali butlers about momo dumplings and how grateful they were when the Saudi government sent aid to their country following the April 2015 earthquake. At breakfast, I had a pleasant chat with the Venezuelan restaurant manager and the Syrian chef. I tried to sound casual as I expressed enthusiasm for Saudi dates, as well as the entire buffet. I could have stayed there talking for hours, however I had a city to explore and, within that, a skyscraper to find. I asked my driver to drop me at the Ministry of Interior, so I could get in a nice New Yorker walk along Olaya Street, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. It was a Friday, the holiest day of the week in Islam, and most of the shops and restaurants remained closed. Businesses also close for calls to prayer, which meant, for nearly 30 minutes at a time, you could be in a shopping mall, minus the shopping. Later that year, I moved to Jeddah and came to find this soothing—taking a break from conspicuous consumption was a welcome

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alternative to the zombie-like motions of swiping a credit card. On my walk that day to the building I came to learn was the Kingdom Centre, I hardly encountered any pedestrians. Those I did come across were hospitable, though confused as to why a tourist was in the Saudi capital. Riyadh has a number of beguiling government buildings, but taking photos of them is frowned upon. Opened in 2002, the 992-foot-high Kingdom Centre, on the other hand, is happy to show up in social media posts. The building’s distinctive shape aides in keeping it cool. From the sky bridge, reached via two elevators, I could see the vastness of the Arabian Desert, and how Riyadh’s urban core is gobbling up the barren land. The 99-story monolith houses a mosque, Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh, AlMamlaka shopping mall, business offices, and luxury apartments.

Visiting the Kingdom Centre made my first visit to Saudi Arabia thrilling, but check-out at the hotel put a cherry on top. Upon returning the room key, I was gifted a box of nine different dates from various parts of the country. I knew in that moment I would be back. Saudi Arabia understands me. Contact your trusted travel advisor to learn about exciting, new and upcoming tours in Saudi Arabia.


Sky Bridge at the top of the Kingdom Centre

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Move

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Feast

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Soar

Play

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Your days, your way. Love to tour but fancy a bit more freedom? Choice Touring by Globus presents a selection of curated experiences in key and off-the-beaten-path destinations—included in the package price— so you can tailor your tour to your own interests, pleasures and passions. Truffle hunting? Kayaking? Play a round of golf? How you roll is up to you. No set-in-stone itineraries. No added expenditures. Just a wide-ranging menu of included excursions for you to design your own discovery, pick how you play and make your own memories.

CHOICE TOURING

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on select 2022 Europe air-inclusive vacations with United/Lufthansa/Air Canada.* *Book a select 2022 Globus, Cosmos or Monograms air-inclusive Europe vacations 7 days and longer (excluding Escapes by Globus & Oberammergau) on United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines from a US point of origin to receive a $150 per person air-credit. Must be booked, under deposit and discount applied between January 4, 2022 and March 31, 2022 for travel January 4, 2022 through October 31, 2022. Limited to new bookings for US originating travelers and economy class flex air tickets; Offer does not apply to instant purchase air. Combinable with all applicable promotions. Air Credit will apply to the per person air price and is non-transferable. An additional $300 non-refundable deposit is required for air booked in conjunction with a land vacation. Once ticketed, airline reservations subject to change/cancellation penalties of between $300 per ticket and 100% of ticket price; air tickets may not be eligible for frequent flyer mileage/point accrual; stopover costs are additional; pre-assigned seating is limited and may not be available for all flight segments. Promotional discounts do not carry forward on changed air bookings however other promotions at time of change may be available. We reserve the right to ticket passengers upon receipt of full land and air deposit. Additional airline fees for baggage may apply; visit www.iflybags.com for more details. Additional restrictions apply; see our Travel Terms & Conditions for details. Air tickets are non-commissionable. Offer may be withdrawn at any time. Offer is available from participating GFOB offices only. Offer is in US dollars. CST#2017032-20.

MUSIC

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CAN TRAVEL BE AN ACT OF LOVE? Actually, it already is.

Thanks to caring and committed members of the industry, travel-related benefits to our planet, its communities, and its ecosystems are on an upward trajectory. That momentum wasn’t created out of thin air. Several cruise, tour, and resort operators have done a remarkable job of pivoting to cleaner, greener practices that turn our vacation dollars into health and wellbeing for the planet, places, and people we cherish. Which means, if chosen carefully, the very act of taking a much-needed vacation could be considered an act of love.

“Our goal with the Lighthouse Project is to illuminate a path for a better tomorrow.”— Scott Nisbet, president and chief executive officer for the Globus family of brands The Globus® Lighthouse Project is one shining example through which travelers, providers, and their partners

come together to tread lightly and give generously for the greater good. While the project encompasses a breadth of initiatives, impacts are already being felt as a result of saving water, limiting energy consumption and emissions, eliminating single-use plastics, reducing waste, and recycling.

Today, choosing a Globus vacation means contributing to the health of our planet and the quality of life in local communities around the world. Globus travelers are also invited to participate personally through poignant visits and direct donations to partner organizations.

Globus has also partnered with farmers to source fresh ingredients, reduce food miles, and support local economies. A partnership with, and investments in, The Ocean Cleanup are contributing to the removal of 90% of ocean plastic pollution and ridding the world’s waters of plastic. By 2027, Globus – and sister companies Avalon Waterways, Cosmos, and Monograms – plan to unveil the world’s first fully electric river cruise vessel.

Among the many groups Globus partners with are Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity, KOTO Hospitality Training Center in Vietnam, orphanages, schools, indigenous Amazon communities, the National Civil Rights Museum in Tennessee, Trees4Travel, Childsafe Network, Foundation Galápagos, The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Australia, and the National Kiwi Conservation Project in New Zealand.

“Working with the Globus and its guests to plant trees … is a simple, yet powerful act, that will help reverse climate change.” — Nico Nicholas, founder of Trees4Travel

Contact your trusted travel advisor to make your next getaway a caring act of service. ENSEMBLE VAC ATIONS I WINTER SPRING

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JUST SAY YES Rather than taking a “wait and see” approach to your 2022 vacation plans, create a “plan see.” Add AWESOME to your calendar and give yourself an adventure to look forward to. This year, JUST SAY YES to … Rediscovering the world and all its splendors! • Embracing an “onward!” attitude! New adventures and memories! • Off-the-beaten-path explorations! Discovering you in foreign destinations! • Finally checking-off your bucket list! We’re ready to pave your path back to travel! JUST SAY YES and Avalon Waterways will take care of the rest.

$399 AIR + SAVE UP TO $2,800 PER COUPLE ON SELECT 2022 AVALON WATERWAYS EUROPE RIVER CRUISES.*

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UP FOR ANYTHING

by GLORIA GEANNETTE

Sometimes a gift of travel will change the life of the recipient. That happened to me a few years ago when my grown daughter surprised me with a mystery proposition. One November she told me to be ready to fly somewhere hot or cold on Christmas Day. All I was to do was be sure my passport was up-to-date and pack warm and cold weather clothes in two different suitcases.

The mysterious aspect of the trip intrigued everyone around me. My office mates made me promise that I would email them Christmas Eve, as soon as I learned where I was going. I started dreaming about scuba diving in the Caribbean and snorkeling in Hawaii. Since my daughter loves the tropics as much as I do, I was sure that the destination would be a sunny beach, so I didn’t pay much attention to a winter wardrobe. I stocked up on suntan lotion, however, and bought a new bathing suit. Just to be true to the game rules, I haphazardly threw a couple of sweaters into a suitcase. On Christmas Eve, I was completely shocked to open a gift box of ski goggles and heavy socks. I ENSEMBLE VAC ATIONS I WINTER fSPRING flffflfl


hadn’t been skiing in years, so it was a little intimidating to learn that the next day we would be flying to Geneva, the first stop on our journey into the Alps to a picturesque Swiss village, where I had spent a winter working as a tour guide in my single days. Through the years, I had regaled my daughter with stories about my fairytale adventures in Chateau d’Oex. It had been a time full of skiing and making new international friends against the backdrop of some of the 50

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most spectacular winter scenery imaginable. Returning there to ski was both exciting and terrifying. I was a little afraid that the reality wouldn’t match my wonderful memories and also that I wouldn’t remember how to ski. I hadn’t been in Geneva for years, so it was immediately reassuring to see how much the city remained true to my memory of it. The lake and its signature attraction, the Jet d’Eau, a more than 400-foot high water spout in the harbor, were still as dazzling as I remembered. We immersed


ourselves in the city for two days surrounded by chocolate shops, fondue restaurants, and high-end shopping in the new and ancient parts of town. Much as we loved Geneva, it was exhilarating to leave town via train to travel to Montreux, another picture-perfect city on Lake Leman. There, we switched to the tiny rail line that winds its way through the snowy mountains on its way to Chateau d’Oex in the Bernese Oberland, just a few stops shy of its much more famous neighbor, Gstaad.

We were glued to the train windows snapping photos of the snowy chalets tucked into the mountainside. We went over bridges that seemed made for the toy Thomas the Tank Engine. When we arrived in Chateau d’Oex, I felt as if I’d entered a time warp. The town looked virtually the same as I remembered it, and more importantly I felt just like I had in my early 20s—ready to ski, meet new people and experience a week of adventure. After checking into a familyrun auberge, we ventured out in the light snowfall to rent our

“It was exhilarating to leave town via train to travel to Montreux, another picture-perfect city on Lake Leman. There, we switched to the tiny rail line that winds its way through the snowy mountains.”

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ski equipment. In the old days, the shop had been owned by the family of one of my ski instructor friends. Seeing the familiar name still on the signage made me feel more and more at ease with the prospect of skiing.

and felt like I was indeed in a time machine. The muscle memory took over and it really was like riding a bike—you don’t forget.

With skis, boots, and passes in hand we walked to the gondola just up the street and took our first trip up the mountain. After a moment of nervous excitement, I schussed down my first blue run

fairytale continued. That surprise

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Against the background of deep blue sky and snowy peaks, the travel gift a few years ago really opened my mind to always saying ‘yes’ to spontaneous travel and new challenges.

Contact your trusted travel advisor to wrap up a gift of travel for someone you love.


SEE ALASKA

WITH THE BEST Have you been dreaming of visiting the Great Land? Trust the cruise line voted Best in Alaska. With more itineraries that include Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve than any other cruise line, you can experience the Alaska of your dreams. Extend your adventure to our own McKinley Chalet Resort where you can then retrace the Klondike Gold Rush to Dawson City with our exclusive access to the Yukon. We’ve shown guests the majesty of Alaska for nearly 75 years, and we’d love to show you as well.

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the Ultimate Upgrade Event Upgrade your stateroom for free from interior to ocean view, or ocean view to verandah. Plus, get our best amenities included in your fare!*

AFAR Travelers’ Awards 2020 MUSIC MUSIQUE PORTHOLE Best Alaska Itineraries 2020 TRAVEL AGE WEST Wave Awards 2020 CRUISE CRITIC Cruisers’ Choice 2019 RECIPE

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*Ultimate Upgrade Event fares available on cruises 6 days or more, excluding Grand Voyages. Restrictions apply, see hollandamerica.com for details. Holland America Line cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the cruise and have proof of vaccination, and have a negative viral COVID-19 test result taken within 2 days of embarkation. Details at hollandamerica.com. Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands.


GLOBAL GIFT GUIDE

Love language: Receiving and giving gifts Whether in colorful

GLOBAL GIF T GUIDE

street bazaars or Parisian boutiques, searching for the perfect gift is part of the magic of travel. How else could a mere thing transport us to enchanted days in distant lands?

Venus ET Fleur

Jet Set Candy

Eternity® Roses I Love that Lasts These long lasting and oh-so chic social media darlings come with a recommendation from jet-set supermodel Gigi Hadid. And who are we to argue with that? Sourced from the vibrant rose fields of Ecuador, they are sure to inspire dreams of lush vacations in sumptuous Central American resorts.

Wanderlust Pills Bundle I Global Longing for adventure? Wanderlust Pills are just what the doctor ordered. Each bottle contains 60+ “pills” stacked in a smile-inducing rainbow. From Fiji Palm Fronds to Eiffel Tower Treats, these satisfying sweets just might inspire you to book that trip you’ve been mulling over for way too long now. LEARN MORE

Bohemian Contemporary Crystal I Prague, Czech Republic While some of us cherish fond memories of Czech vacations gone by, others are dreaming of meandering the streets and squares of Prague with a favorite loved one. And all of us are swooning over the one-ofa-kind glassworks found in this pristine gallery in the heart of Bohemia. LEARN MORE

LEARN MORE

Rimowa

Ca’Macana Traditional Venetian Mask I Venice, Italy Lovingly crafted and personally signed by expert artisans in one of Venice’s oldest workshops, these evocative masks are the perfect way to say, “Let’s run away to northern Italy and immerse ourselves in the magic and mystery of Renaissance cathedrals, Gothic palaces, and the excesses of Carnevale.”

LEARN MORE

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Glassimo

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NAADAM Cashmere I Mongolia Perfect for chilly adventures in faraway lands, NAADAM cashmere is sourced in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. The weavers work directly with local herders to produce beautiful, sustainable knits at prices that are fair for them, and us. LEARN MORE

Essential Cabin S Luggage I Germany Maybe this is the year we splurge on that over-the-top suitcase in a color that says, “Look at me, I’m traveling!”

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Vosges

Grand Turkish Bazaar Coffee Sets I Turkey Imagine feeling the warmth of the sun on your face as you wake up in an imperial palace overlooking the Bosporus straight … and breathe in the unmistakable aroma of Turkish coffee. In 2013, Turkish coffee was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This year, we’re adding the deep and meaningful elixir to ours. LEARN MORE

Blissy

Beats Noise Cancelling Studio Buds I Apple Nothing makes a long haul flight go faster than a great pair of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) ear buds with transparency mode—so we can hear the flight attendant ask if we would like a glass of wine or Champagne with our first-class vegan meal.

Red Sleep Mask I Okay, maybe we’re the last people on earth to discover these skin-protecting sleep inducers. All the modern self-care gods and goddesses are getting them. Of all the colors, we think red says, “Let me sleep” best. LEARN MORE

Exotic Truffle Collection I The origin of Travel the World through Chocolate™ lies within the Vosges’ Exotic Truffle Collection. After you unravel the purple bow, the wanderlust begins… where do you want to go? Nagaland is vibrant with curry, macadamia nuts beckon to Australia. Relish in Chinese star anise, reminiscent of the forbidden green absinthe of days long past. Open your senses and experience the culture, take a bite and imagine what it is like to stand on the streets of Shanghai. Each truffle collection includes an enclosure book with guided tasting notes, ingredient sourcing details, and experiential truffle stories and pairings. LEARN MORE

LEARN MORE

The Book

Uguisu Natsuko Kozue Wrapping Paper I Japan Every time we travel to Japan, we come home with fresh awe for the smallest details in life. This store somehow manages to ship that sense of wonder all over the world.

The 5 Love Languages I by Gary Chapman Even those of us who aren’t “touchy feely” might admit that different personalities give and receive love … well, differently. After taking the quiz, we’re fully convinced that we travel differently too. Wouldn’t it be neat if we all understood each other better before we boarded that next plane? Asking for a flight attendant friend.

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ENSEMBL E VAC ATI O N S I W I N TER SP R I N G

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TO NIGHTS I CAN’T REMEMBER by BRYAN SHELMON

“Where dem gyal at! Dutty wine! Bruk off ya back!” blared from the speakers as an emcee with a thick Caribbean accent orchestrated the sea of costumed revelers. “Welcome to Caribana, the largest Caribbean Carnival celebration in North America, attended by over a million people, with beautiful people, nonstop parties … and it’s all right here in Toronto!” The sweet taste of pineapple deliciously contrasted with over-poured Peach Ciroc in our indiscreet souvenir cups. And rhythmic reggae drums provided the soundtrack to a paradise of sequined-bikini-clad Caribbean goddesses, who confirmed James’s hypothesis that the most beautiful women come from the islands. It had been a few years since I’d seen John and James. Since taking my postgrad talents to New York City, my “adulting” side had frowned on the concept of a guys trip. Weren’t we too grown up for that sort of irresponsible fun? It was John’s description that sold me. How could I pass on such an epic reunion? John, James, and I met at band camp back in Detroit and bonded over our love for music. They were the musician buddies I would spend hours with, making unheard classics in my makeshift basement recording studio. They were the concert buddies always

down to shove our way to the front row to fist-bump our favorite artists at underground rap concerts. Now we were embarking on a new adventure, laying down new tracks on top of the old. “Bro, you won’t believe what happened at the border! ... Just left the duty-free, we’re all set for the weekend! ... I think I just saw my future wife! ... Just checked in, text when you get here!” My phone lit up nonstop on my trip from New York to Toronto. Losing cell service gave me an excuse to take a nap I would be grateful for later. I did as instructed and texted after connecting to wi-fi in the hotel lobby, which was buzzing with seasoned Caribana-goers dressed in their finest club outfits. The aroma of coconut rum and sweet, island-fresh perfume filled the elevator as I rode up to the ninth floor. I figured it was no coincidence that the room number sign pointed toward a muffled rumble that got louder with every step ENSEMBLE VAC ATIONS I WINTER fSPRING flffflfl fiā


closer to the door at the end of the hall. Standing there, I could hear Drake’s lyrics foreshadowing the weekend to come—“I live for the nights that I can’t remember, with the people that I won’t forget.” When the door flung open, I was greeted by a mirage of flashing lights and familiar faces. A halfway spilling shot of Grey Goose was placed in my left hand as our right hands intuitively performed our boyhood handshake. We were back. Friday night during Caribana felt more like a meal than an appetizer. There were lavish nightclub parties with celebrity guest appearances and VIP tables going for thousands of dollars. Out on Lake Ontario, yacht parties pumped against the backdrop of the Toronto skyline. Caribbean Night at the local bar featured underground dee-jays spinning Soca hits that got our feet moving. In the middle of it all, three of us trying to recap our lives since we had last been together, I glanced at my watch and interrupted with, “We’re late!” Feeling nostalgic, I had signed us up for a music showcase as a tribute to our high school dreams of becoming rap superstars. John and James had had just enough to drink to agree wholeheartedly with the idea. After a few more courage-inducing shots, we set off for the venue. The Silver Dollar Room was a grungy place filled with Caribana misfits and we’d gotten there just in time. As

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we squeezed in through the crowd, the host announced our names. Five minutes of fame was plenty of time. It was a blur of slurred lyrics written years ago and a reenactment of moves from our favorite rap videos. The next morning, I woke up in a daze to a screen full of missed texts. “Y’all killed the performance last night!” “Hope to see ya’ tomorrow!” Then, a pre-set alarm rang, as if to punish us for returning to the hotel just a couple of hours before. John was already up, ironing a crisp new tee and collaborating with James in an attempt to piece together the story of the previous night. But with the official Caribana parade starting in less than two hours, we barely had time to celebrate our wins. Instead of the hotel breakfast, we opted for granola bars and rum punch. Then scurried to meet a surprisingly patient Uber driver. As we rode to the starting route on Lakeshore Boulevard, we reminisced about preparing for a Thanksgiving parade during our band days. But those high-stepping school days had done little to prepare us for the Caribbean Carnival parade. Released to the street, our steps quickly picked up the rhythm of the steel drums. We fell in line behind a float that was surrounded, moat-like, with cheerful women who seemed to be guarding the emcee who was directing the chaos. Suddenly, like clockwork, “Stop!” the floats all came to a halt



to allow for a song or two of rumpshaking dancing to Reggaeton music, then continued on. “Hold me up!” John and James said in unison. The last thing I thought I’d be doing on this guys’ trip was acting as a human kickstand, but seeing how happy they were dancing made me gladly oblige. We spent hours in the sweltering Toronto summer sun going from float to float, dancing like teenagers. At one point, I paused to re-organize my awkwardly shifted clothing. My once-white tee had been transformed into a canvas of body glitter, feather residue, and make-up stains. I was certain I had sweated out every drop of the alcohol in my now-empty souvenir cup. When the parade ended, it only took one word for the three of us to nod in unison, “Crazy.” Call us today to plan an unforgettable reunion with friends.

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That night – in the dark of an obscure Jamaican-themed house party that had been suggested by a shady promoter we met in Dundas Square – felt like a victory celebration. The Caribbean goddesses – decked out in exotic Carnival costumes the day before – had transformed into beautiful mortals in skinny jeans and crop tops, ready to dance the night away. Slamming together red cups filled with sweet rum punch, we drank to friendship. We had done it. We had come through a guys’ trip unscathed. “Let’s show ‘em how we do it in America!” James roared over the music, sounding like a quote at the end of a movie with an obvious sequel. Until the sequel, this would be our last dance. The last time out with my friends before returning to our regular lives. Lives in which we will savor the memories of rum-soaked nights we can’t quite recall, and friends we’ll never forget.


B E S T D AT E E V E R Whether it’s tranquility you seek for bonding with your soul mate or subbing dinner and a movie for one of the most action-packed days of adventures ever, Royal Caribbean speaks your love language at their unbelievable private destination in The Bahamas — Perfect Day at CocoCay.

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Coco Beach Club ® — Per fec t Day at Cococay, Bahamas

LOUNGING IN LOVE You won’t be able to resist falling in love with Coco Beach Club — an exclusive oasis that blends luxury with Caribbean cool. Get comfy and settle into one of the plush deluxe loungers facing the breathtaking beachfront infinity pool. Indulge in a lunch of filet mignon and lobster paired with a flute of sparkling wine. Then cue the views from the first floating cabanas in The Bahamas, complete with a cabana attendant to attend to your every need — or heart’s desire.

Floating Cabanas

A THRILLING ROMANCE The island also offers plenty of opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping, just like your hearts did when you met. Get even closer with unmatched adventures — like the tallest waterslide in North America, Daredevil’s Peak. Conquer the Caribbean’s largest wave pool. And soar the sky together in the Up, Up and Away helium balloon. Splash Summit

Sail to Perfect Day at CocoCay from Miami, For t Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Bayonne, or Boston. CONTACT YOUR TRUSTED TRAVEL ADVISOR TO LEARN MORE

Health and safety protocols, guest conduct rules, and regional travel restrictions vary by ship and destination, and are subject to change without notice. Due to evolving health protocols, imagery and messaging may not accurately reflect onboard and destination experiences, offerings, features, or itineraries. These may not be available during your voyage, may vary by ship and destination, and may be subject to change without notice. Images and messaging for Perfect Day at CocoCay may include artistic renderings. All features are subject to change without notice. Perfect Day and CocoCay are registered trademarks of Royal Caribbean. ©2022 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas. 21001911 • 12/22/2021


Dreams Resorts & Spas WELCOME HOME PROMOTION

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VACATIONS INCLUDE: 5 nights’ accommodation with $200 in resort coupons and taxes. Unlimited-Luxury® resorts include all meals, drinks3, activities and more.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT YOUR TRUSTED TRAVEL ADVISOR TODAY 1 Dreams Resorts & Spas Welcome Home Promotion Offer: Valid on new bookings made 01/04 /2022 – 03/29/2022 for select travel through 08/20/2022. Savings varies by hotel and travel dates, and may be category-specific, require advance booking, be restricted to specific days of the week and/or require a minimum night stay. Booking and travel dates vary by hotel. Certain restrictions and blackout dates may apply. Subject to availability. 2 Rate is per person, based on double occupancy, for check-in on 05/01/2022, in room categories shown. 3 Age restrictions may apply. Unless otherwise indicated: rates quoted are accurate at time of publication, & are per person, based on double occupancy. Airfare, taxes, surcharges, gratuities, transfers & excursions are additional. Advertised rates do not include any applicable daily resort or facility fees payable directly to the hotel at check-out; such fee amounts will be advised at the time of booking. Rates, terms, conditions, availability, itinerary, government taxes, surcharges, deposit, payment, cancellation terms/conditions & policies subject to change without notice at any time. Cruise rates capacity controlled. Other restrictions may apply, including, but not limited to baggage limitations & fees, standby policies & fees, non-refundable tickets & change fees with pre-flight notification deadlines, & blackout dates. Fees & policies vary among airlines. Contact airline directly for any details or questions. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Pleasant Holidays acts only as an agent for cruise & tour providers listed. CST# 1007939-10. Pleasant Holidays is registered with the State of Florida as a Seller Of Travel ST#37983. Copyright©2022 Pleasant Holidays, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


MADNESS IN VEGAS It’s more than watching college basketball and spirited drinking — guys who have been gathering every March in Nevada for a quarter century trace the arc of their lives. by MICHAEL SHAPIRO

Three do-or-die college basketball games are on movie-theater-size screens at the Red Rock Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Hundreds of people are standing on chairs, screaming at the top of their lungs whenever a big basket is made.

“It’s four days of nonstop action,” said Jason McCormick, the sportsbook director for Red Rock. “The energy makes it incredible; you can go absolutely bananas. It’s the highs and lows — there’s nothing else like it.”

Cocktail servers are hustling to keep up with the demand for drinks, and when a last-second bucket gives an underdog a win over a heavy favorite, the cheers, high-fives and hugs reveal who bet on the upset.

It’s incomparable, inexplicable. And for a group of guys who will mark 25 years of gathering annually to watch the first weekend of the NCAA college basketball tournament, it’s absolutely indispensible.

The happy winners make their way to the sports book window to collect their cash and make more wagers, picking up coupons for free drinks.

Greg Devitt, now a 50-year-old California attorney, launched this tradition in 1997 when he was still single. For years the group convened at Caesars Palace on the Strip; about a decade ago they moved 12 miles west to the Red Rock. “It was sort of a guys’ weekend before that was a thing,” he said, “just a great way to see college

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basketball.” It soon became much more, as friends who hadn’t seen one another for ages were able to spend hours and hours catching up. Over the years many of the guys have had children; some have lost parents, Devitt noted: “Now we’re starting to see the arc of each other’s lives.” Long Island resident Doug Roberts, 46, who has been friends with Devitt since they were in their 20s, noted the irony of how “staring at TVs for four straight days” can enrich and deepen friendships. “We happen to catch up,” he said, “while rooting for Texas A&M to cover.” When Roberts was younger it didn’t seem as crucial to have a regular

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guys get-together, but “as you grow older, it becomes much more important to talk about the serious things that happen in life, the good and the bad,” Roberts said. “It’s an opportunity for us to let loose and act sillier than we’re able to in our normal lives, especially as responsibilities mount.”

declined for years because I wasn’t sure how I’d fit with guys who’d known one another for decades.

One year, Roberts needed his buddies more than ever. In 2006, when he was in his early 30s, his wife died suddenly. The following March he showed up in Vegas and “for the first time, I just sat down and talked about that with these really good friends of mine.”

After a couple of days of staring at the Red Rock’s 18-foot-high and 96-foot-wide TV wall and drinking greyhounds, some of us went for an energizing hike at Red Rock Canyon. It’s a national conservation area with soaring vermillion walls and challenging trails that follow rocky gullies, 10 minutes drive from the Red Rock Resort.

Matt Villano, who has known Roberts since they were kids on Long Island, joined this band of brothers in 2007. He’d asked me to come to Vegas with them, but I

Villano was persistent and finally convinced me: In 2017, I made the trip and had so much fun I came back yearly. It wasn’t just the mayhem in the sports book.

One night we all had dinner at Red Rock’s steakhouse. Another night, we bet on how many Hall & Oates


songs the lounge singer would play: The over/under was 3.5. He hit the over. The second year I joined, we went en masse to a Vegas Golden Knights hockey game, taking over a section of the Hyde Lounge, a sleek bar near the top of the T-Mobile Arena. At the hotel, we played blackjack and craps. We went bowling and played bingo, cheering so exuberantly that some of the elder players shushed us. The management suggested we go back to the sportsbook. “You can do what you want to do,” Devitt said. “If you want to go to the pool, knock yourself out; if you want to go for a hike, knock yourself out.”

There are just a few unspoken rules: Show up for the steakhouse dinner, toss the free-drink tickets into the communal pile, tip generously and treat everyone who takes care of you with respect. Servers like Denise at the steakhouse have become part of the family and look forward to the guys’ annual reunion. Devitt, who got the ball rolling 25 years ago, recalled: “When we first started going, I didn’t realize how much more important it would get in the next 10 or 15 years. We have genuine friendships, and there’s a genuine caring about this group.” Roberts said he wouldn’t miss the upcoming March Madness festivities for anything.

“It’s an opportunity for us to let loose and act sillier than we’re able to in our normal lives, especially as responsibilities mount.”

Contact your trusted travel advisor to start a new vacation tradition now.

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Amateurs, Escargot & a Tanzanite Ring

We were total rookies in the wrong shoes but we had a blast by ERIKA HARKINS

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“I want to sail with your family!” said my friend Debi when I told her about our upcoming New Year’s Eve cruise. Then she upped the ante with, “We can share a cabin!” That’s where I drew the line. “NO WAY!” I said, without hesitation. If 18 of us were traveling together, I was going to need my own space. @isaacdeanphotography

Catching up on Love

Laughter is the best medicine for newlyweds Sarah & Travis Kerr “Oh no,” I said, staring out over the teal lake at the base of Mirador los Cuernos, the starting point for our trek into Chile’s Torres del Paine national park. Jake turned to see my panic-stricken face. “No, no, no, no,” I repeated as my eyes welled up with tears. “Erika, what is it?” he said, now deeply concerned, as I began frantically searching my pack, only to realize that my prized Sportivas were back at the hotel, two hours away. Of course. On the most epic adventure my husband and I had ever attempted, I made the gravest mistake an ultrarunner could make. Now, I had to accept that I would be doing this 10-day trek without my running shoes.

Sarah’s heart was bursting with glee as she stood on the platform of the 2,600-foot Dragon’s Breath flight line. If you want to go fast on a zip line, weight can be an advantage. Sarah wanted to go fast. But the petite model and hairstylist needed a little help to make that happen. Enter Travis, Sarah’s new husband, who worked the crowd to gather bottles of water. Soon, Sarah had bottles in her backpack, her pockets, and tucked inside her shirt. Aquagirl wasn’t her usual Bohemian-glam look, but it did the trick. Finally, she let go. And for the first time in many years, she felt absolutely free.

spirited life that would make up for lost time. After a sunset wedding on a tranquil beach, they boarded a Caribbean cruise and left their worries behind. At a wine tasting, a huge bottle of Caymus brought a rush of memories—the Cab Sav was the first wine the couple had shared when they first met. In Labadee, Haiti, they zipped and played. At Paradise Beach, in Cozumel, bartender Ricardo kept the party rolling. “Whenever he passed us he would yell, ‘Mojito?!’ And we would cheer, ‘Mojitoooo!!’ A few minutes later, more mango mojitos would arrive.”

Hailing from Chicago, Sarah didn’t get to enjoy her teens as her school mates did. She spent those years caring for her mother, who lost a hard-fought battle with cancer when Sarah was just 21. To break free of the grief, she flew to Florida for a fresh start.

On board, they started each day with balcony breakfasts. “We would sit there and enjoy the quiet before we got off at the ports. It was very romantic,” Sarah recalls. One evening, they joined a group of revelers at a private party in the Rising Tide Bar. “It floated up above the whole crowd!” Since then, they’ve cruised together several times.

There, she met and fell madly in love with Travis, a commercial architect with a hipster beard, a dazzling smile, and a heartache from a recent divorce. Together, Sarah and Travis craved a joy-filled, free-

“We made lifelong friends on our honeymoon cruise.” How cool is that?!

I make my Texas family sound so highmaintenance, but they really aren’t at all. Born on New Year’s Eve and what my father called “amateur night,” my Mother loves when we are all together for family celebrations, like her birthday. That year, we were chilly as we set sail from Galveston for the Western Caribbean, but the further south we went, the more we warmed up ... in more ways than one. In Belize, I joined my nieces and nephews for spooky cave tubing and shared their joy as they ziplined for the first time. That afternoon, we were all chaos and giggles trying to sit still for a family portrait. In Roatan, my brother’s family swam with dolphins while the rest of us took a catamaran excursion ... with boozing all the way back, of course! Each evening, we met for sunset cocktails, then made our way to two large tables for boisterous family dinners. One night,

one of my family members got overly enthusiastic about ordering escargot and asked for 10 orders “to share.” Riiiiight. Can you say mortified? Kudos to the wait staff who put up with us that night and every night of the cruise. They definitely deserved a raise after that week. A few days later, in a jewelry shop in Cozumel, Mother picked out a BIG beautiful tanzanite ring as my father waited outside, poised to come in and “make the deal.” He was a true Texas rancher who drove a hard bargain on every occasion. One time, on a cruise in Alaska, he tried to trade a bull for a diamond. This time, to our relief, he offered a credit card for payment. And Mother does love that ring. Not long ago she pulled me aside and said, “My darling daughter, do you like this ring? Because, when I’m gone, it will be yours.” I was astonished, and I do love the ring … but I love my sweet mother even more.


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