June/Leisure Lifestyle Edition 2021 Global Traveler

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June 2021



LEISURE LIFESTYLE Global Traveler’s guide to the luxurious world of leisure travel


EDITORIAL Editor In Chief Kimberly Krol Inlander kim.krol@globaltravelerusa.com Vice President/Digital Director Katie Skrzek katie.skrzek@globaltravelerusa.com Senior Editor Janice Hecht jan.hecht@globaltravelerusa.com Associate Editor/Copy Editor Patricia Vanikiotis patty.vanikiotis@globaltravelerusa.com Social Media & Editorial Coordinator Mary Melnick mary.melnick@globaltravelerusa.com Assistant Editor Audrey Lee audrey.lee@globaltravelerusa.com

ART Art Director Tracey Cullen tracey.cullen@globaltravelerusa.com Staff Photographer Christopher P. Ottaunick christopher@globaltravelerusa.com Special Events Video Editor Vance Piccin

WRITERS Kristy Alpert Susan B. Barnes Mark Chesnut Marlene Goldman Jack Guy Rina Nehdar Irene Rawlings

For complete bios visit globaltravelerusa.com

Family Fun: Mary with her cousin Shaina at Skyline Park in Atlanta, Georgia PHOTO: © MARY MELNICK

Eager to Explore


elcome to the ninth-annual Leisure Lifestyle Edition. Now that the COVID vaccine is becoming more widely available and more popular destinations begin to reopen to vaccinated travelers, it’s time to start planning your next vacation. After the year and a half we’ve had, you deserve to escape your everyday life and embark on a luxurious, relaxing leisure trip. As someone who loves to travel and has a growing bucket list of destinations, I have been itching to explore during the shutdown. Since the pandemic began, I’ve made weekend trips to places near my hometown — the Jersey Shore, the Pocono Mountains, Annapolis and others. Now I am ready to head out and start exploring destinations farther afield that are open to vaccinated U.S. travelers. In this issue we highlight some of the best literary destinations, worldwide events to attend in 2022,

attractions for thrillseekers and much more. We couldn’t present the Leisure Lifestyle Edition without congratulating our Leisure Lifestyle award winners — turn to page 8 to read about some familiar and new brands, destinations and products. Whether you are looking for new destinations to add to your bucket list, trip inspiration or travel tips and tricks, we hope you use this edition as your guide. For those who aren’t ready to travel yet, we hope you keep this issue’s featured destinations and travel trends in mind when you decide to get out to explore the world. For those who are eager to travel, sit back, relax and start planning.

CIRCULATION Special Projects Manager John Wroblewski Specialist Louie Atsaves Managers Jayhawk Evans, Mark P. Ford, Teresa Jackson, Anthony “Scraps” Dimera Circulation Director Michele Shannon Circulation Manager Anna Pudzianowski Research Consultant Sharon Sterne ADVISORY BOARD Chairman Michael Donahue COO Michael Kiely President Carlos Cappuccio Deputy Vice President Aviation Edward Jefferson Deputy Vice President Accommodations Stephen Doherty Deputy Director Destinations Wayne Tallman Vice President Special Events/Photography Christopher Ottaunick Secretary Mark Lane Research Director Frank LoVerme Director of Technology Bob Hancock Director of Digital Advancement Jared Torgan Vice President of Corporate Giving Jim Bolger

GENERAL COUNSEL Thomas F. Goldman CONTACT US General Inquiries/Issue Requests/Reprints info@globaltravelerusa.com Subscriptions tel 818 286 3134 | gbtcs@magserv.com Public Relations kim.krol@globaltravelerusa.com Letters to the Editor letters@globaltravelerusa.com Global Traveler is published monthly by FXExpress Publications, Inc., 309 Floral Vale Blvd., Yardley, PA 19067. The U.S. subscription rate is $42 for one year, $79.95 for two years, $121.95 for three years.

Mary Melnick Social media and editorial coordinator

Postmaster: Please send changes of address to Global Traveler, 309 Floral Vale Blvd., Yardley, PA 19067

As of publication, the destinations and venues mentioned in this issue were planning to reopen or are currently operating, but many may have restrictions or limitations in place to address current public health concerns. Always check in advance to confirm current requirements and restrictions.

LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021 globaltravelerusa.com



ADVERTISING Publisher/CEO Francis X. Gallagher tel 215 919 8988 | fran.gallagher@globaltravelerusa.com Account Executive Haley Fogarty tel 267 364 5811 | haley.fogarty@globaltravelerusa.com Account Executive Southern Region and the Caribbean Amanda Jones tel 215 932 0861 | amanda.jones@globaltravelerusa.com Account Executive Mariana Zenizo tel 52 55 6560 1152 | marzenizo@gmail.com Production & Advertising Coordinator Yasser Ogando tel 267 884 1650 | yasser.ogando@globaltravelerusa.com

REPRESENTATIVES Australia Charlton D'Silva tel 61 2 9252 3476 | charlton.dsilva@pubintl.com.au France Géraldine Roger tel 33 1 88 32 62 61 | cell 33 7 81 22 02 36 | groger@asset-media.com India Vimal Anand tel 91 124 4932020 | cell 91 98100 71000 | vimal@gmnindia.com

Ready to Go: Haley is looking forward to traveling again.

Indonesia Sarah Hutabarat tel 62 21 29704008 | sarah@mediaman.co.id


Rediscover Travel


ext-level luxury is what we are all about at Global Traveler. Our readers travel from coast to coast and all over the world, experiencing top-of-the-line hospitality and personalized experiences. Welcome to the 2021 Leisure Lifestyle Edition where, after more than a year of true adversity, we are delighted to announce the winners among the world’s best leisure travel brands from all sectors of the hospitality industry. From hotels, airlines and spas to city, state and country destinations, we are proud to present, for the ninth year, this year’s award winners. As a newer member of the wonderful team here at FXExpress Publications, Inc., I have a front-row seat to the hard work and dedication each member of the team brings to this issue — and all issues — of the magazine. With that level of devotion, especially during a worldwide pandemic in which individuals in the travel and tourism industry couldn’t work themselves, I am thrilled to join the rest of the team in celebrating the winners and another year of Global Traveler at an in-person, live event this summer. Now more than ever, our readers are ready to book

their long-awaited travel. Whether that trip looks like a relaxing spa getaway or a golf retreat, we all need a little more leisure in our lives. I am looking forward to immersing myself in Israel’s culture and history as well as getting out to the U.S. West Coast and sipping the finest Sauvignon Blanc in Napa Valley. Wherever your adventures take you, we are proud to remain your trusted travel source for the world’s most elite leisure offerings. Enjoy the Leisure Lifestyle Edition as an airplane read, a travel guide or with your morning coffee; but wherever you read Global Traveler, know we appreciate your support and look forward to following in the footsteps of these industry leaders and rebuilding the tourism industry together.

Japan Yoshinori Ikeda tel 81 3 3661 6138 | yoshinori.ikeda@pacific-business.com Korea Jeff Hwang tel 82 31 702 7782 | cell 82 010 6347 9117 | gng@gngcom.co.kr Malaysia Ester Chai tel 60 3 7722 1968 | esther@fitzgerald.com.my Singapore Peggy Thay tel 65 6871 8964 | peggy.thay@pubintl.sg Slovak Republic (Eastern Europe) Zorka Sipkova tel 421 948094611 | zorka.sipkova@pubintl.eu South America and the Caribbean (excluding Peru and Colombia) Ana Torres de Navarra tel 305 205 3303 | ana@colibri-media.com Spain Olga Martínez tel 34 91 320 0497 | cell 34 669 10 12 73 olga.martinez@aboutim.es Taiwan Keith Lee tel 886 2 2523 8268 | leekh@ms4.hinet.net Thailand Janya Limmanee tel 66 2 0514694 | janya.l@jpp-thailand.com Turkey Elif Mengu cell 90 532 255 83 24| elif@catalyzismedia.com United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rosy Kachouh Nawfal cell 971 55 607 8163 | rosy@i-repme.com

Haley Fogarty Account executive

United Kingdom Stefanie Stroh-Begg cell 44 0 7798 665 395 | stefanie@mercury-publicity.com CORPORATE OFFICE 309 Floral Vale Blvd., Yardley, PA 19067 info@globaltravelerusa.com


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WELCOME ON BOARD Fly to new destinations safely with Turkish Airlines. Flights starting from May 21st.


32 features

on the cover globaltravelerusa.com

June 2021



LEISURE LIFESTYLE Global Traveler’s guide to the luxurious world of leisure travel




Leisure Pursuits Global Traveler announces the winners of the 2021 Leisure Lifestyle Awards.

Return Engagements Start planning now to attend the sporting and cultural events of 2022.




Pure Indulgence Linger in luxury at the most exclusive hotel villas and private hideaways.


Celebrate Good Times Travelers again look to special trips to observe life’s milestones.



Inspired by the Book Travel in the footsteps of famous authors.



globaltravelerusa.com LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021

Thrill Rides Test your limits with adrenaline-fueled activities around the world.

Retro Revival Discover America’s classic drive-ins, diners and deliciously quirky finds.

Behind the Scenes Get a glimpse of the inner workings of luxury hotels.


Leisure Lifestyle 2021


Experiencing Seoul Get a taste of Korean culture through digital platforms before your future trip. SEOUL CONVENTION BUREAU’S VIRTUAL SEOUL PLAYGROUND is the one and only virtual teambuilding program developed to add fun to online/hybrid events. Almost all workers have participated in online programs like webinars, e-conferences, online classes and more. With the Virtual Seoul Playground, participants can play stimulating teambuilding games in a metaverse Seoul. The Virtual Seoul Playground joins Virtual Seoul and Seoul MICE World. Virtual Seoul is a platform where online/hybrid meetings or events are hosted with 360-degree, virtual-reality videos, a networking lounge, a promotional booth and more. All can be modified upon request according to the program of the events. Seoul MICE World is a promotional booth that can be linked to any online/hybrid event. The appearance is similar to the Virtual Seoul; however, Seoul MICE World was not designed to hold meetings. This is a digital version of a promotional booth to be set up for on-site events. Cultural activities and information about Seoul are prepared for participants to

enrich the online/hybrid events. The idea for the Virtual Seoul Playground came from the many teambuilding programs MICE participants in Seoul came to know and love. Now, the excitement of these events comes to online MICE event attendees. The ultimate goal of SCB’s digital transformation is to invite more visitors to the city when travel restrictions are lifted in near future. Get a taste of Korean culture through the digital platforms: Avatars wear different hanbok from Korean dramas and the games implement traditional Korean activities and popular Korean food. Some of the games include Yunnori, with the setting a square in front of city hall, always a highranking, most-visited site. Take turns throwing yut and moving markers made with popular tourist attractions accordingly. The team bringing all markers home wins the game. In Seoul Lantern, players solve a quiz on Seoul to earn different elements for making a lantern to their liking. The

setting for this activity is by the Hangang River, where many visitors cherish the night view. Or, make a gimbap. Gim is a seaweed sheet and bap is cooked rice. This popular food beloved my most Koreans can accommodate any preference in food. On the Virtual Seoul Playground, the basic style with vegetable and egg is prepared. Different teammates can work at different stations to deposit ingredients to make as many gimbap as possible. Cooperation is required to win the game. Events and meetings may look different right now, but Seoul Convention Bureau ensures they can still be exciting, even virtually. And with Virtual Seoul Playground, the event will leave you ready to return to Seoul in person next time. Experience it yourself by visiting virtualseoul.or.kr

LEARN MORE AT miceseoul.com


Leisure Pursuits Global Traveler announces the winners of the 2021 Leisure Lifestyle Awards. BY KIMBERLY KROL INLANDER


eisure travel is back! And as we look toward summer, it’s back bigger and better than ever following the restrictions, lockdowns and devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more borders begin to reopen and destinations, hotels and airlines around the world welcome travelers once again, we’re taking to the skies as we celebrate and congratulate the winners of our ninth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards. This annual survey honors the best in the world of leisure and lifestyle travel, award-


globaltravelerusa.com LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021

ing goods, services, destinations, hotels, airlines and cruises. Join us as we celebrate travel, and consider the following winners as you prepare to come back to the world of leisure travel. Let’s begin with our destination winners, some of the best cities, islands and towns around the world offering the ultimate in leisure travel. Kick back in any of these exceptional, award-winning spots, starting with Turkey, Best Historical Attractions, International, and Charleston, South Carolina, Best Historical Attractions, Domestic. History buffs, those are the destinations for you; and adventure seekers, here’s your round-up: India is Best Adventure Destination, International, and Alaska is Best Adventure Destination, Domestic. Seek rest, relaxation and beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, taking the top spot for Best Beaches for the fourth year running. The Dominican Republic is Best Caribbean Island, while Santoríni retains its Best Island in Europe title for the eighth consecutive year. Cook Islands, another fan

Best Historical Attractions, International: Turkey PHOTO: © ÖZGÜR ŞENERGIN | DREAMSTIME.COM


Best Adventure Destination, International: India PHOTO: © NATALIADERIABINA | DREAMSTIME.COM

Best Historical Attractions, Domestic 1. Charleston, South Carolina 2. Savannah, Georgia 3. Boston, Massachusetts 4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 5. Washington, D.C. 6. Williamsburg, Virginia 7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 8. New Orleans, Louisiana 9. Charlottesville, Virginia 10. Big Sur, California Best Historical Attractions, International 1. Turkey 2. Greece 3. Egypt 5. Jordan 6. Spain 7. United Kingdom 8. Israel 9. India 10. Italy

Best Adventure Destination, Domestic: Alaska PHOTO: © LAWRENCE WESLOWSKI JR | DREAMSTIME.COM

favorite, wins Best Island Pacific Rim for the sixth year in a row. We added the Best Island in the United States category this year, and the first-time winner is Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. If you’re more of a skier than a swimmer, Telluride, Colorado, is Best North American Ski Destination for the third year in a row, while Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, reigns as Best International Ski Destination. And if you’re a golfer, this new category is for you: The inaugural Best Golf Destination winner is Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. We’ve got more winning destinations all around the globe for your consideration: Charleston, South Carolina, Best Leisure Destination in the United States for the second consecutive year; Seychelles, Best Leisure Destination in Africa; Florence, Italy, Best Leisure Destination in Europe; Taipei, four-time Best Leisure Destination in Asia; Santiago, Chile, Best Leisure Destination in

Latin/South America; Playa del Carmen, Best Leisure Destination in Mexico; and Italy returns after a year hiatus as Best Leisure Destination for Groups. For a quicker jaunt, Savannah, Georgia, is once again Best Weekend Destination in North America (second consecutive year), and Bermuda is Best Weekend Destination in the World, also for the second time. We’re all eager to hit the seas again with our favorite cruise lines. As we continue to anticipate our next cruise, we can reminisce about past experiences with these cruise line winners, starting with Holland America Line, Best Family Cruise Line. Oceania Cruises takes its first win as Best Cruise Line Suites for its Owner’s Suites. MSC Cruises is Best Luxury Cruise Line, while Emerald Cruise Line is the winner of Best Value Cruise Line. Ponant appears on the survey as Best Adventure Cruise Line, while Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is named Best River

Best Beaches 1. Costa Rica 2. Cayman Islands 3. Lanai, Hawai’i 4. The Big Island, Hawai’i 5. Turks & Caicos 6. Lopes Mendes, Brazil 7. Mykonos, Greece 8. Phuket, Thailand 9. Krabi, Thailand 10. Honolulu, Hawai’i Best Adventure Destination, Domestic 1. Alaska 2. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 3. Grand Canyon 4. Asheville, North Carolina 5. Portland, Oregon 6. Albuquerque, New Mexico 7. Salt Lake City, Utah 8. Nashville, Tennessee 9. California 10. Montana

LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021 globaltravelerusa.com



Flight Ready United Airlines® ensures seamless travel for passengers with its app and new Travel-Ready Center. ITCHING TO TRAVEL, BUT OVERWHELMED BY TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS? Even in the most challenging of times, United Airlines is there to ease the travel process and ensure a seamless, navigable experience from beginning to end, all thanks to the Travel-Ready Center and the United app. We all know that travel restrictions, testing requirements and vaccination records can add another layer of stress to the travel process — paperwork to keep track of, test results to display and more potential headaches. To help, United launched the Travel-Ready Center on the United app, making it the only airline that offers these services as part of an integrated experience. In the Travel-Ready Center, you can review all the necessary destination and passport/visa requirements for your specific travel itinerary. You can also access testing or vaccine requirements, upload vaccination documentation and test results, and choose from more than 400+ testing sites domestically as a part of the TrustAssure network. From there, you can book appointments and receive confirmation whether your test results meet

your destination’s requirements. Once the test is validated, you’ll see a status indicator that you’re “travel ready.” The 400+ testing sites are part of the TrustAssure network, including locations within United’s hub cities of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United plans to expand availability to more U.S. cities, as well as add access for international testing sites for customers flying to the United States. Privacy is forefront, with limited personal data involved. The United app also offers a number of helpful features to make your trip more contactless, starting with check-in. You’ll be able to check in, receive your mobile boarding pass and even save time at the airport by prepaying for your bags. Once you’re at the airport, just scan your boarding pass at an airport kiosk and a bag tag will print for you to tag them yourself. And never worry about lost bags since you can use the Track My Bags feature, exclusive to the United app, to track your bag’s journey. With the app, you’ll be able to receive realtime updates and view details on standby and upgrade lists, as well as your flight’s departure and arrival time. The flight status page also shows when your plane has arrived at the gate, when it’s done being cleaned and when boarding has begun. If there’s an unexpected change to your itinerary, the United app can help keep your travel on track by providing you with alternative flights and rebooking options. And, if you don’t want to wait on the phone to seek assistance with other issues, you can message an agent directly through the app’s Contact Us page. Should you ever find yourself in an unfamiliar airport, there are also more than 25 airport maps in the app to help you navigate. Once you’re in the air, United Private Screening gives you a variety of inflight entertainment options on your personal devices, depending on the aircraft. You can also use the United app to pay for onboard refreshments on select flights by saving a credit card to your itinerary or MileagePlus account – no need to bring out your card. Want to become a MileagePlus member? No problem – you can enroll and manage your MileagePlus account all in the app. With the United app and Travel-Ready Center all in one, United has solutions to all your travel needs, right at your fingertips.

LEARN MORE AT united.com and united.com/travelready

Best Cruise Line Suites Owner’s Suites, Oceania Cruises PHOTO: © OCEANIA CRUISES

Best Adventure Destination, International 1. India 2. Taiwan 3. South Africa 4. Thailand 5. New Zealand 6. Chile 7. The Galápagos Islands 8. Australia 9. Jordan 10. Colombia Best Leisure Destination in the United States 1. Charleston, South Carolina 2. Savannah, Georgia 3. Asheville, North Carolina 4. Napa Valley, California 5. Nashville, Tennessee 6. Chicago, Illinois 7. Virginia Beach, Virginia 8. San Francisco, California 9. Austin, Texas 10. New Orleans, Louisiana Best Leisure Destination in Africa 1. Seychelles 2. South Africa 3. Morocco 4. Uganda 5. Kenya 6. Zambia 7. Reunion Island 8. Zanzibar 9. Botswana 10. Namibia Best Leisure Destination in Europe 1. Florence, Italy 2. İstanbul, Turkey 3. Krakow, Poland 4. Prague, Czech Republic 5. Seville, Spain 6. Porto, Portugal 7. Paris, France 8. Lisbon, Portugal 9. Venice, Italy 10. Rome, Italy


Cruise Line for the fourth consecutive year. Two six-time winners take the Best Small-Ship Cruise Line and Best Large-Ship Cruise Line titles: Paul Gauguin Cruises and Cunard Line, respectively. Princess Cruises takes its third win for Best Cruise Line Entertainment and its sixth win for Best Cruise Ship Excursions. Seabourn Cruise Line also takes its third nod as Best Cruise Line Spas. For dining, the accolades go to Azamara, Best Cruise Line Dining for the second consecutive year. Captain’s Club from Celebrity Cruises is Best Cruise Line Rewards Program. Rounding out the cruise category, Port Everglades is Best Cruise Port for the second year in a row. Now let’s take a look at our hotel and resort champions. Always at the top of the leaderboard, Meliá Hotels International is a seven-time winner for Best Luxury Leisure Hotel Group in the World. Also scoring a multiple-year win is The Ritz-Carlton, Best Hotel Chain Resorts for the third year. Westin Hotels & Resorts grabs its fifth Best Family Resort Chain in the World, as well as a nod for Best Pet-Friendly Hotels. With its fifth consecutive win, Westin earns itself Quint Status, which acknowledges those companies who have won their category five consecutive times. For the first time, Excellence Group Luxury Hotels &

globaltravelerusa.com LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021

Resorts snags the Best All-Inclusive Resorts title. If you’d rather leave all the logistics to a tour company, our readers recommend Perillo Tours, earning its first nod as Best Tour Operator. Airports and airlines play a pivotal role in our leisure vacations. We applaud the following winners: Miami International Airport as Best Airport for Layovers for the second consecutive year, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is Best Airport for Recreation. Three airlines earn their third consecutive nods: TAP Air Portugal, Best Stopover Program; Air Tahiti Nui, Best Leisure Airline; and Air Canada, Best Airline for Onboard Entertainment and Best Premium-Economy Class. Air Canada’s business class also wins Best Airline Onboard Menu for the second consecutive year. United Airlines reclaims its title as Best Pet-Friendly Airline. Rounding out our band of 2021 winners are Volvo, Best Luxury Vehicle for the third consecutive year; TAG Heuer, reappearing as Favorite Luxury Watch Brand; Hertz, taking its fourth win as Best Leisure Car Rental; Na Hoku, winning Best Destination Jewelry Brand for the second year in a row; and Woodford Reserve, Best Liquor Brand. Congratulations to the 2021 Leisure Lifestyle Awards winners!


Global Traveler conducted a survey of its readers Dec. 14, 2020–April 14, 2021, with open-ended questions for the best in many categories of leisure, luxury and lifestyle travel. This survey ran in the magazine, as an insert to subscriber copies, as a direct mail questionnaire, online at globaltravelerusa.com/leisureballot and emailed during the survey period. Only those questionnaires with more than 50 percent of the questions completed were counted. Those with fewer than 50 percent of the questions answered were discarded. Submissions from employees of the magazine or individuals associated with the travel industry were not accepted.



Best Leisure Destination in Asia 1. Taipei, Taiwan 2. Singapore 3. Seoul, South Korea 4. Tokyo, Japan 5. Phuket, Thailand 6. Hong Kong, PRC 7. Bangkok, Thailand 8. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 9. Osaka, Japan 10. Bali, Indonesia

Best Leisure Destination in Asia Taipei, Taiwan PHOTO: © SEAN PAVONE | DREAMSTIME.COM

Best Leisure Destination for Groups (Four or More) Italy PHOTO: ©KALMAN89 | DREAMSTIME.COM

Best Leisure Destination in Latin/ South America 1. Santiago, Chile 2. Buenos Aires, Argentina 3. Panama City, Panama 4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 5. Mendoza, Argentina 6. Bogotá, Colombia 7. Montevideo, Uruguay 8. Cusco, Peru 9. Machu Picchu, Peru 10. Quito, Ecuador Best Leisure Destination in Mexico 1. Playa del Carmen, Mexico 2. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 3. Cancún, Mexico 4. Guadalajara, Mexico 5. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 6. Isla Holbox, Mexico 7. Mexico City, Mexico 8. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 9. Cozumel, Mexico 10. Mérida, Mexico Best Leisure Destination for Groups (Four or More) 1. Italy 2. Dubrovnik, Croatia 3. Costa Rica 4. Park City, Utah 5. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 6. Cartagena, Colombia 7. Napa Valley, California 8. Montréal, Québec, Canada 9. Nashville, Tennessee 10. Ireland

LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021 globaltravelerusa.com


SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS Each year, in addition to our Leisure Lifestyle Awards, Global Traveler acknowledges those travel companies going above and beyond. Our Special Achievement Awards recognize leaders in innovation, environmental initiatives and community outreach. Congratulations to this year’s honorees! In 2021, United Airlines, the only major Outstanding Social Responsibility: U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Aviate United Airlines Academy, outlined an ambitious plan to train PHOTO: © UNITED AIRLINES 5,000 new pilots by 2030, with at least half of them women and people of color. Its commitment to diversity, inclusion and providing access earned Outstanding Environmental United Airlines the Outstanding Social Responsibility title. Achievements The Red Sea Development Company AlUla is located in Saudi Arabia’s northwest, and its PHOTO: © THE RED SEA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY Design & Spatial Vision Masterplan to develop and deliver five districts and turn the area into a leading global destination for arts, heritage, culture and nature won AlUla the Outstanding Customized Services honor. The Red Sea Development Company, the developer behind the most regenerative tourism project in the world in Saudi Arabia, partnered with SOURCE, a renewable, sustainable water brand, to ensure The Red Sea Project is the first destination to offer bottled water made purely from sunlight and air. As such, The Red Sea Development Company is the 2021 winner of Outstanding Environmental Initiatives. Pittsburgh International Airport introduced a new innovation center, xBridge. The facility houses a custom-built innovation space to support the evolution of the airport industry and find creative solutions to industry challenges, including partnerships with community members, students and more. It is fitting PIT is this year’s Outstanding Innovations honoree.

Outstanding Innovations Pittsburgh International Airport PHOTO: © ZHUKOVSKY | DREAMSTIME.COM


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WINNERS’ CIRCLE Outstanding Social Responsibility United Airlines Outstanding Environmental Initiatives The Red Sea Development Company Outstanding Innovations Pittsburgh International Airport Outstanding Customized Services AlUla

Outstanding Customized Services AlUla PHOTO: © ALULA

Best Family Resort Chain in the World Westin Hotels & Resorts PHOTO: © WESTIN HOTELS & RESORTS

QUINT STATUS Best Family Resort Chain in the World Westin Hotels & Resorts

Best Weekend Destination in North America 1. Savannah, Georgia 2. Charleston, South Carolina 3. Austin, Texas 4. Asheville, North Carolina 5. Las Vegas, Nevada 6. Nashville, Tennessee 7. New Orleans, Louisiana 8. San Francisco, California 9. Miami, Florida 10. New York City, New York Best Weekend Destination in the World 1. Bermuda 2. Québec City, Québec, Canada 3. Belize City, Belize 4. Dublin, Ireland 5. Lisbon, Portugal 6. Rome, Italy 7. Cartagena, Colombia 8. Vienna, Austria 9. Paris, France 10. London, England Best North American Ski Destination 1. Telluride, Colorado 2. Vail, Colorado 3. Park City, Utah


4. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado 5. Alta, Utah 6. Jackson Hole, Wyoming 7. Whistler, British Columbia, Canada 8. Breckenridge, Colorado 9. Winter Park, Colorado 10. Beaver Creek, Colorado Best International Ski Destination 1. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 2. Whistler, British Columbia, Canada 3. Lech, Austria 4. Gstaad, Switzerland 5. Niseko, Japan 6. Meribel, France 7. St. Moritz, Switzerland 8. Verbier, Switzerland 9. Courchevel, France 10. Zermatt, Switzerland Best Golf Destination 1. Kiawah Island Golf Resort 2. Pebble Beach 3. Streamsong Resort 4. Sea Island Resort 5. Pinehurst Resort 6. Bandon Dunes 7. Sea Pines Resort 8. The Broadmoor 9. Big Cedar Lodge 10. The Greenbrier

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Best Caribbean Island 1. Dominican Republic 2. U.S. Virgin Islands 3. Bahamas 4. Grand Cayman 5. Curaçao 6. Saint Lucia 7. Aruba 8. Nevis 9. Jamaica 10. British Virgin Islands Best Island in Europe 1. Santoríni 2. Capri 3. Mykonos 4. Ireland 5. Jersey, United Kingdom 6. England 7. Elba 8. Crete 9. Sardinia 10. Sicily Best Island in the Pacific Rim 1. Cook Islands 2. Okinawa 3. Fiji 4. Phuket, Thailand 5. Bora Bora 6. Japan

7. The Big Island, Hawai’i 8. Tahiti 9. Maui, Hawai’i 10. Lanai, Hawai’i Best Island in the United States 1. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 2. Kiawah Island, South Carolina 3. Marco Island, Florida 4. Maui, Hawai’i 5. Amelia Island, Florida 6. St. Simons & Little St. Simons, Georgia 7. Isle of Palms, South Carolina 8. Lanai, Hawai’i 9. Longboat Key, Florida 10. Oahu, Hawai’i Best Family Cruise Line 1. Holland America Line 2. Celebrity Cruises 3. Disney Cruise Line 4. Princess Cruises 5. Seabourn Cruise Line 6. Royal Caribbean 7. Silversea Cruises 8. Regent Seven Seas 9. MSC Cruises 10. Cunard Line

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Best Cruise Line Entertainment 1. Princess Cruises 2. Viking Ocean Cruises 3. Holland America Line 4. MSC Cruises 5. Celebrity Cruises 6. Royal Caribbean 7. Disney Cruise Line 8. Cunard Line 9. Regent Seven Seas 10. Norwegian Cruise Line Best Cruise Line Dining 1. Azamara 2. Seabourn Cruise Line 3. Cunard Line 4. Viking Ocean Cruises 5. Silversea Cruises 6. Celebrity Cruises 7. Oceania Cruises 8. Regent Seven Seas 9. MSC Cruises 10. Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Luxury Cruise Line: MSC Cruises PHOTO: © MSC CRUISES

Best Luxury Cruise Line 1. MSC Cruises 2. Silversea Cruises 3. Regent Seven Seas 4. Seabourn Cruise Line 5. Paul Gauguin Cruises 6. Cunard Line 7. SeaDream Yacht Club 8. Crystal Cruises 9. Celebrity Cruises 10. Azamara

Best Adventure Cruise Line 1. Ponant 2. Hurtigruten 3. Azamara 4. National Geographic Expeditions 5. American Safari 6. UN-Cruises 7. Windstar Cruises 8. Lindblad Expeditions 9. Scenic 10. Silversea Cruises

Best Value Cruise Line 1. Emerald Cruise Line 2. American Cruise Line 3. Carnival Cruise Line 4. Celebrity Cruises 5. Norwegian Cruise Line 6. Princess Cruises 7. Holland America Line 8. Riviera Cruise Line 9. Royal Caribbean 10. Disney Cruise Line

Best Small-Ship Cruise Line 1. Paul Gauguin Cruises 2. Silversea Cruises 3. Azamara 4. Seabourn Cruise Line 5. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises 6. Viking River Cruises 7. Windstar Cruises 8. Crystal Cruises 9. Regent Seven Seas 10. SeaDream Yacht Club

Best Cruise Line Suites 1. Owner’s Suites, Oceania Cruises 2. Princess Grill Suites, Cunard Line 3. Queens Grill Suites, Cunard Line 4. Owner’s Suites, Silversea Cruises 5. Penthouse, Celebrity Cruises 6. MSC Yacht Club, MSC Cruises 7. Regent Suites, Regent Seven Seas 8. Haven Suites, Norwegian Cruise Line 9. Royal Loft, Royal Caribbean 10. Penthouse, Crystal Cruises

Best Large-Ship Cruise Line 1. Cunard Line 2. Regent Seven Seas 3. MSC Cruises 4. Celebrity Cruises 5. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line 6. Princess Cruises 7. Holland America Line 8. Norwegian Cruise Line 9. Crystal Cruises 10. Viking Ocean Cruises


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Best River Cruise Line 1. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises 2. AmaWaterways 3. Viking River Cruises 4. American Queen Steamboat Co. 5. Crystal River Cruises 6. American Cruise Lines 7. Emerald Cruise Line 8. Aqua Expeditions 9. Avalon Waterways 10. Tauck

Best Cruise Line Spas 1. Seabourn Cruise Line 2. Princess Cruises 3. Viking Ocean Cruises 4. Celebrity Cruises 5. Crystal Cruises 6. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises 7. Regent Seven Seas 8. Costa Cruises 9. Cunard Line 10. MSC Cruises

Best Cruise Line Dining Azamara PHOTO: © AZAMARA




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Enjoy classic cocktails and good vibes at Four Seasons New Orleans Chandelier Bar.

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United adds flights to destinations as it reopens to vaccinated travelers.

After a year of being homebodies, it’s time to get out and continue exploring the world — start with beautiful Catalina Island.

Indulge in a Soneva Yacht Experience in the Maldives.

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Many airlines offer a program to assist senior family members traveling alone, helping them get to the correct gate, introducing them to flight attendants, escorting them to connecting flights and releasing them to the appropriate person when they land.

Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort and Anantara Veli Maldives Resort introduced nutritional therapy, wellness cuisine workshops, health and nutrition seminars and more at its resorts.

COMO Hotels & Resorts brings guests meaningful and restorative experiences across its portfolio of hotels and resorts worldwide. Each property offers a different selection of experiences suited to its location.

Best Airport for Recreation Austin-Bergstrom International Airport PHOTO: © AUSTIN-BERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Best Hotel Chain Resorts 1. The Ritz-Carlton 2. Four Seasons 3. Meliá Hotels International 4. St. Regis 5. Westin Hotels & Resorts 6. Hyatt 7. InterContinental Hotels & Resorts 8. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts 9. Marriott Hotels & Resorts 10. Montage Hotels & Resorts Best Pet-Friendly Hotel 1. Westin Hotels & Resorts 2. Le Méridien 3. Kimpton 4. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts 5. The Peninsula 6. Loews 7. InterContinental Hotels & Resorts 8. Mandarin Oriental 9. Marriott Hotels & Resorts 10. The Ritz-Carlton

Best Cruise Ship Excursions 1. Princess Cruises 2. Viking Ocean Cruises 3. Silversea Cruises 4. Cunard Line 5. Celebrity Cruises 6. Regent Seven Seas 7. MSC Cruises 8. Holland America Line 9. Royal Caribbean 10. Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Cruise Port 1. Port Everglades, Florida 2. Port of Miami, Florida 3. Port Canaveral, Florida 4. Cozumel, Mexico 5. Southampton, England 6. Port of San Diego 7. Port of Los Angeles 8. Philipsburg, St. Maarten 9. New York City, New York 10. Venice, Italy

Best Cruise Line Rewards Program 1. Captain’s Club, Celebrity Cruises 2. MSC Voyagers Club, MSC Cruises 3. Crown & Anchor Society, Royal Caribbean 4. Oceania Club, Oceania Cruises 5. Captain’s Circle, Princess Cruises 6. Latitudes, Norwegian Cruise Line 7. Mariner Society, Holland America Line 8. Castaway Club, Disney Cruise Line 9. Club World, Cunard Line 10. Seven Seas Society, Regent Seven Seas

Best Luxury Leisure Hotel Group in the World 1. Meliá Hotels International 2. The Ritz-Carlton 3. The Peninsula Hotels 4. Westin Hotels & Resorts 5. Hyatt 6. The Waldorf Astoria 7. Belmond 8. Four Seasons 9. Marriott Hotels & Resorts 10. Conrad Hotels & Resorts


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Best Family Resort Chain in the World 1. Westin Hotels & Resorts 2. Disney Hotels 3. InterContinental Hotels & Resorts 4. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts 5. JW Marriott 6. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts 7. Hyatt 8. Kimpton 9. Loews 10. Omni Hotels & Resorts Best All-Inclusive Resort 1. Excellence Group Luxury Hotels & Resorts 2. Sandals Resorts 3. Dreams Resorts & Spas 4. Karisma Hotels & Resorts 5. Meliá Hotels International 6. Paradisus Resorts 7. Jade Mountain, Saint Lucia 8. Secrets Resorts & Spas 9. Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resort 10. Hyatt Zilara Best Tour Operator 1. Perillo Tours 2. Kenwood Travel 3. The Inspiring Travel Company 4. Abercrombie & Kent 5. Red Savannah

6. Kuoni 7. Trailfinders 8. Cox & Kings 9. The Turquoise Holiday Company 10. Elegant Resorts Best Airport for Layovers 1. Miami International Airport 2. Doha Hamad International Airport 3. Singapore Changi Airport 4. Taipei Taoyuan International Airport 5. Munich Airport 6. Zürich Kloten International Airport 7. Incheon International Airport 8. Dubai International Airport 9. Denver International Airport 10. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Best Airport for Recreation 1. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport 2. Denver International Airport 3. Miami International Airport 4. Incheon International Airport 5. Vancouver International Airport 6. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 7. Zürich Kloten International Airport 8. Munich Airport 9. Singapore Changi Airport 10. Hong Kong International Airport Best Stopover Program 1. TAP Air Portugal 2. Air Canada 3. Brussels Airlines 4. Qatar Airways 5. Turkish Airlines 6. Finnair 7. British Airways 8. Emirates 9. Korean Air 10. Singapore Airlines Best Leisure Airline 1. Air Tahiti Nui 2. Hawaiian Airlines 3. American Airlines 4. Fiji Airways 5. United Airlines 6. Delta Air Lines 7. Aeromexico 8. TAP Air Portugal 9. Kenya Airways 10. Alaska Airlines

2021 GT Tested Reader Survey Awards Ballot Please write in your personal favorites, based on your own experience, on the line next to each of the following categories.


Overall Best Airline in the World_____________________________________________________ Airline Alliance________________________________________________________________________ Aircraft Type _________________________________________________________________________ Airline Website _______________________________________________________________________ Fastest-Growing Airline – Trans-Pacific______________________________________________ Best Corporate Program for Business Travelers__________________________________ Best Airline for . . . Business Class___________________________________________________________________ International First Class_________________________________________________________ Domestic First Class_____________________________________________________________ Onboard Service ________________________________________________________________ Lounges _________________________________________________________________________ Flight Attendants________________________________________________________________ Flight Attendant Uniforms ______________________________________________________ Airline Cuisine___________________________________________________________________ Security__________________________________________________________________________ First-Class Seat Design_______________________________________________________________ Business-Class Seat Design _________________________________________________________ Best New Airline Service Launch_____________________________________________________ Best Frequent-Flyer Programs Overall Best Frequent-Flyer Program___________________________________________ Elite-Level Program______________________________________________________________ Bonus Promotion_______________________________________________________________ Award Redemption______________________________________________________________ Customer Service _______________________________________________________________

BEST AIRLINE BY LOCATION Best Airline in . . . Africa_____________________________________________________________________________ Australia and New Zealand______________________________________________________ Central/South Asia and India __________________________________________________ China____________________________________________________________________________ Eastern Europe__________________________________________________________________ Europe___________________________________________________________________________ Mexico___________________________________________________________________________ The Middle East _________________________________________________________________ North America___________________________________________________________________ North Asia (excluding China)____________________________________________________ The South Pacific________________________________________________________________ To South America and Central America_____________________________________________ To Japan______________________________________________________________________________ Trans-Atlantic Airline_________________________________________________________________ Trans-Pacific Airline__________________________________________________________________

AIRPORT BEST Overall Best Airport in the World____________________________________________________ Overall Best Duty-Free Shop in the World___________________________________________ Airport Staff/Gate Agents____________________________________________________________ Airport Dining________________________________________________________________________ Airport Shopping ____________________________________________________________________ Fastest-Growing U.S. Airport_________________________________________________________ Duty-Free Shops in . . . Asia______________________________________________________________________________ Africa_____________________________________________________________________________ Europe___________________________________________________________________________ The Middle East_________________________________________________________________ Best Airport in . . . Asia______________________________________________________________________________ Africa_____________________________________________________________________________ Europe___________________________________________________________________________ The Middle East_________________________________________________________________ North America___________________________________________________________________ South America___________________________________________________________________

Best Individual Hotel in the World ________________________________________________ International Hotel Chain__________________________________________________________ Domestic Hotel Chain______________________________________________________________ Lifestyle Hotel______________________________________________________________________ MICE Hotel _________________________________________________________________________ (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions) Hotel Website______________________________________________________________________ Best Frequent-Stay Programs Best Hotel Rewards Program in the World___________________________________ Elite-Level Program____________________________________________________________ Bonus Promotion_____________________________________________________________ Award Redemption____________________________________________________________ Customer Service_____________________________________________________________

HOTEL BEST BY LOCATION Best Hotel in . . . Asia____________________________________________________________________________ Europe_________________________________________________________________________ South Korea___________________________________________________________________ The Middle East_______________________________________________________________ The United States _____________________________________________________________ Best Hotel Chain in . . . Asia____________________________________________________________________________ Europe_________________________________________________________________________ Latin America__________________________________________________________________ Mexico_________________________________________________________________________ The Middle East_______________________________________________________________

OTHER BEST Overseas Delivery Program _______________________________________________________ Rental Car Company_______________________________________________________________ Tourism Destination_______________________________________________________________ MICE City ___________________________________________________________________________ (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions) WiFi Service_________________________________________________________________________ Luggage Brand_____________________________________________________________________ Hotel App___________________________________________________________________________ Airline App__________________________________________________________________________ Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program ______________________________________ Credit Cards Best Overall Credit Card___________________________________________________________ Best Small-Business Credit Card __________________________________________________ Best Credit Card Special Events ___________________________________________________ Credit Card Rewards Program_____________________________________________________ Frequent-Stay Affinity Credit Card ________________________________________________ Promotions____________________________________________________________________ Benefits________________________________________________________________________ Redemptions__________________________________________________________________ Frequent-Flyer Affinity Credit Card_________________________________________________ Promotions____________________________________________________________________ Benefits________________________________________________________________________ Redemptions__________________________________________________________________ Best Cruise Line Affinity Credit Card_______________________________________________

PLEASE MAIL THE COMPLETED SURVEY TO: Kevin Ryan, Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP, 1800 JFK Blvd., 20th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103 | Or FAX to 215 545 4810 Or vote online at globaltravelerusa.com/gt-tested-awards-ballot Name Street Address City Home Phone


ZIP Code Email

Best Airline for Onboard Entertainment, Onboard Menu and PremiumEconomy Class Air Canada PHOTO: © AIR CANADA

Best Airline for Onboard Entertainment 1. Air Canada 2. Korean Air 3. United Airlines 4. American Airlines 5. Qatar Airways 6. Delta Air Lines 7. Asiana Airlines 8. Emirates 9. Singapore Airlines 10. British Airways Best Airline Onboard Menu 1. Air Canada Business Class 2. All Nippon Airways First Class 3. Korean Air First Class 4. United Polaris 5. Swiss International Air Lines First Class 6. Emirates First Class 7. Air France First Class 8. Asiana Airlines Business Class 9. LATAM Premium Business Class 10. Lufthansa Business Class Best Premium-Economy Class 1. Air Canada 2. Scandinavian Airlines 3. United Airlines 4. Singapore Airlines 5. American Airlines 6. Lufthansa 7. Delta Air Lines 8. Air New Zealand 9. British Airways 10. Alitalia


Best Pet-Friendly Airline 1. United Airlines 2. American Airlines 3. Alaska Airlines 4. Delta Air Lines 5. JetBlue 6. Southwest 7. Hawaiian Airlines 8. Frontier 9. Lufthansa 10. Air Canada Best Luxury Vehicle 1. Volvo 2. BMW 3. Maserati 4. Tesla 5. Mercedes-Benz 6. Porsche 7. Cadillac 8. Lexus 9. Acura 10. Audi Favorite Watch Brand 1. TAG Heuer 2. Patek Philippe 3. Panerai 4. Cartier 5. Louis Vuitton 6. Ulysse Nardin 7. Omega 8. Tiffany & Co. 9. A Lange & Sohne 10. Movado

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Best Liquor Brand: Woodford Reserve PHOTO: © WOODFORD RESERVE

Best Leisure Car Rental 1. Hertz 2. Avis 3. National Car Rental 4. Sixt 5. Enterprise 6. Thrifty 7. Dollar Car Rental 8. Alamo 9. Budget 10. Payless Best Destination Jewelry Brand 1. Na Hoku 2. Dune Jewelry 3. Diamonds International 4. Maui Divers Jewelry Hawai’i 5. Caribbean Gems

6. Cardow Jewelers 7. Arezzo Jewelers 8. Little Switzerland 9. Tiffany & Co. 10. Destination Jewelry Brands Favorite Liquor Brand 1. Woodford Reserve 2. Maker’s Mark 3. Grey Goose 4. Patrón 5. Johnnie Walker Blue 6. Bombay Sapphire 7. Johnnie Walker Black 8. Crown Royal 9. Bacardi 10. Belvedere



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Take to the water and explore Budapest’s splendor at a leisurely pace. p. 64

lobal Traveler | 35

Zest for Life European sophistication meets Latin passion in Buenos Aires. BY ARI BENDERSKY

Art Scene: Couple dancing the tango in front of the sculpture Floralis Genérica PHOTO: © ELULTIMODESEO | DREAMSTIME.COM


ntil you visit, you may never know the extent of Buenos Aires’ cosmopolitanism. From design and architecture to technology and banking — and across all the arts — Buenos Aires truly has a global feel that rivals Paris, New York and Tokyo. While it’s on the water, Buenos Aires is not a beach destination like Rio but rather a port city — hence locals are called Porteños and have a zest for life and want to share it with all who visit. Almost as soon as you enter this beautiful Argentine capital, it becomes obvious just how fantastic this energetic metropolitan city truly is. You’ll likely spend most of your time between upscale, classic Recoleta; chic, eclectic and fashionable Palermo; and the romantic and gentrified San Telmo, where you’ll find a sprawling open-air antique flea market each Sunday. But the Central Business District of La Citi, between the San Nicolás, Montserrat and Retiro neighborhoods, is home to the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, Argentina’s Central Bank and other financial institutions. No matter where you gather with colleagues and clients, you’ll notice quite quickly

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the European influence on the city’s architecture. Waves of immigrants from Spain, Italy and Germany — and what now comprises the world’s sixth-largest Jewish community — all arrived in Buenos Aires in the 19th and 20th centuries, bringing with them design, culture and gastronomy. All over the city their impact can be observed by simply walking around the neighborhoods and looking up at the homes and buildings. You’ll especially see it at Teatro Colón, one of the most important opera houses in the world, where singer Maria Callas famously performed and which offers group tours. At the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, modern and folk art converge in permanent and rotating exhibits. You can experience it in any number of the city’s top spots to watch the romantic, sensual tango shows — and learn a few moves yourself in this, the world’s tango capital. You’ll even encounter it in La Recoleta Cemetery, a neighborhood in its own right where some of the city’s most important residents, including Eva Perón, are buried. When it comes to business, Buenos Aires’ numerous industries converge. In 2017 the city was named a smart city due to its welcoming attitude toward innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and app development. The newer Buenos Aires Exhibition and Convention Centre hosted the 2017 Smart City

Our weekly slideshow brings stunning photos and information on a range of topics with a current worldwide focus to subscribers every Saturday.


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globaltravelerusa.com LEISURE LEISURE LIFESTYLE LIFESTYLE 2021 2021 globaltravelerusa.com

Celebrate Good Times Travelers again look to special trips to observe life’s milestones.


Out and About: Kayaking through Manchac Swamp in New Orleans (top), and Higgins Hotel exterior and lobby (bottom) PHOTOS: © RINA NEHDAR, © HIGGINS HOTEL NOLA

020 was a year of missed celebrations. Graduates didn’t walk to receive diplomas, parents didn’t escort brides to reach their soulmates. Kids celebrated birthdays in driveways, waving to a procession of moving cars. The celebratory moments that make up the memories of a life came and went with minimal acknowledgment. Our optimism told us our next milestone celebration was months away and the COVID-19 pandemic would be over by then. The news told us a different story. Yet it’s not too late to celebrate. It’s not the date on the calendar that we mark but our achievement of getting to a certain place in life that we honor and which can be observed anytime. Now, with better COVID-19 testing and the worldwide vaccination rollout, many people are wondering how they should do that. “What better way to celebrate yourself than to indulge in a destination?” said Steve Lima, director of marketing USA and South America, G Adventures. “People come back feeling revived, refreshed, reenergized,” Lima said. Besides just the normal milestones, people deserve to commemorate less glamorous but notable wins like beating cancer or finishing up a divorce. So when my time came, at the end of 2020, to celebrate living to an age that ends in a zero, I knew I wanted to see and hear live music. After months of listening only to virtual concerts, I longed to hear the soulful vibrations of people channeling their ecstatic experience through trumpets, guitars and voices. Immediately, legendary and historic New

Orleans, Louisiana, came to mind. Yet COVID-19 still dominated the world, and I wasn’t sure how New Orleans had adjusted. The best place to find information about discovering a new city is through its visitor’s bureau website. New Orleans & Company prominently featured the brand-new, award-winning Higgins Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, on its website. History buffs could spend a couple of days next door at the interactive and intriguing National World War II Museum. Because the pandemic struck three months after its grand opening, the staff at the Higgins Hotel didn’t have far to pivot to ensure guest safety. “We learned the new extra-duty cleaning protocols of Hilton CleanStay when those were rolled out in April of last year,” said Marc Becker, director of sales and marketing, Higgins Hotel. As part of the Hilton family, the Higgins Hotel partnered with RB, the company that makes Lysol and other disinfecting products, to bring a whole new level of cleanliness into each of its rooms and public spaces. Even with the travel and booking experience I have, I realized I was taking a chance by organizing my own trip and not working with a connected travel professional during this era. “That’s what travel professionals do for a living,” said Heidi Creed, vice president of marketing and client experience, Town & Country Travel. “We monitor the pulse of the ever-changing landscape of travel, so we have resources. When you work with a good travel advisor, they’re going to send you to reputable partners who have all of the safety measures in


place.” “We travel advisors create vacations so they’re seamless,” Creed said, “We have partners who have access to super unique experiences, things like going backstage at the Moscow Ballet or truffle hunting in a château in France. There’s a lot of activities that can be put together from a travel advisor that you can’t just do on your own.” When we researched our trip to New Orleans, New Orleans & Company provided suggestions for some of our ac-


tivities. Even though much of the city had started to reopen when we visited, it was far from the jubilant festival of joy, with dancing and singing on every sidewalk and jazz club, as it had been when we visited four years prior. Places we thought would be open remained closed. With the advice of the tourism bureau, we experienced Dr. Gumbo, one of the best food tours we’ve taken, with historical tales marinated between layers of Cajun shrimp, muffuletta sandwiches and Pimm’s Cups. We also got to go kayaking with NOLA Kayak Tours through Manchac Swamp — 170,000 acres of canopied cypress and tupelo trees draped by Spanish moss. After months

LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021 globaltravelerusa.com


Choose Your Adventure: G Adventures African safari in Kruger National Park (top), and UnCruise Alaska adventure (bottom) PHOTOS: © G ADVENTURES, © RINA NEHDAR


of anxiously staying indoors, it felt good to breathe crisp air as our vessel cut through glassy green water. Had we worked with travel advisors, Creed said, they would have tailored all

However, Mexico opened for air, rail and sea travelers from all countries in June 2020. This is why we decided to pamper ourselves for my husband’s birthday with an international trip to Conrad Punta de Mita,

our experiences to fit our exact personality profiles, sometimes suggesting activities or locations we wouldn’t have thought to ask about on our own. “We’re very relationshipfocused,” Creed said. “For instance, the advisor knows the client loves hot air balloons, and they wouldn’t have thought to visit Turkey, or they’re very active and wouldn’t have thought of a cycling trip or hiking through W Patagonia.” At the time of writing this story, many of those places are still closed to U.S. travelers.

recently opened in September 2020. The open-air design of the entire resort and alfresco restaurants throughout became a prime consideration when we traveled during that time. The brand-new resort offers blocks of ocean-front rooms for families and friends in its casas, so they could stay together. Its Milestones Menu offers curated private experiences to escalate a celebration. “Think a mariachi serenade for a big birthday or craft cocktails delivered just in time for sunset. Also, piñata parties — and that’s not just limited to kids — or a shaman for a symbolic wedding or vow renewal ceremony,” wrote Monica Gonzalez Alejandro, director of sales and marketing, Conrad Punta de Mita, in an email. The resort also offers on-site Covid-19 testing for easy return travel to the United States. As countries begin to open again, the more popular travel itineraries will book fast. As you plan for your special trip, reserve as far in advance as possible, Creed advised. “Right now, as we look toward a post-pandemic travel era, there’s going to be an extraordinary amount of pent-up demand,” she said. Popular trips like safaris already have inherent capacity limitations because of the number of available

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tents, so they’re going to go quickly. And she advised travelers to take advantage of generous cancellation policies to make sure you get the trip you want instead of the trip that’s left. Jean Fawcett, media relations manager, Abercrombie & Kent, agreed. “This is Africa’s moment. Safaris are a natural fit as families begin traveling again, with small boutique camps that offer plenty of space and privacy.” When considering your dream tour, look for reputable companies like Abercrombie & Kent and G Adventures that voluntarily followed protocols designed by safety governing boards. Their enhanced health and safety protocols met or exceeded the latest global health and safety guidelines and received the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council. Lima said G Adventures’ Book Your Bubble Private Tour gives travelers the option of exploring with just eight family and friends. “Private groups are probably one of the best ways to go. So think about having the Galápagos ship all to yourself, which we will allow on a private group trip.” Lima said traveling now or booking early is a wonderful idea because of the deep discounts currently available. Another incredible option for frustrated travelers is Abercrombie & Kent’s Wings Over the World Journeys. “Wings Over the World Journeys are perfect for those who want to make up for lost time and binge on new experiences. Travel by privately chartered air enables them to see more and do more,” said Stefanie Schmudde, vice president of product development and operations, Abercrombie & Kent. Cruises are also starting to book for 2022; but if you don’t want to wait, small cruise line UnCruise Adventures is already approved to sail Alaska from May to September 2021. One reason is its requirement for all crew and passengers to be vaccinated prior to travel in 2021. “Alaska is a destination with an expiration,” said Julie Quarry, director of strategic partners, UnCruise. What she means is, prior to the COVID-19 travel ban, in 2019 cruise ships brought more than 2.26 million visitors to Alaska. However, in May and June, Quarry said, “UnCruise Adventures is going to be one of the only cruise lines up in this area where wildlife hasn’t heard a motor vehicle in almost two years. So it’s a powerful year to get up there.” Passion points travelers where they want to celebrate. Connections make those destinations come alive, and opportunity taken is seldom regretted.

Live the French way Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills 8555 Beverly Boulevard, 90048 Los Angeles Visit www.sofitel-los-angeles.com


Inspired by the Book Travel in the footsteps of famous authors. BY IRENE RAWLINGS


good book transports its readers through time to a faraway and sometimes exotic place. Visiting the setting of a particularly memorable book makes the experience of reading that book more real as the beloved author’s landscape blends with and becomes part of the literature itself.

A PROLIFIC 19TH-CENTURY short-story writer, Washington Irving is best known for his hair-raising short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” in which a ghostly horseman terrorizes smarmy schoolmaster Ichabod Crane. Costumed guides conduct tours of Sunnyside, Irving’s cozy Tarrytown home with expansive views of New York’s Hudson River. Visit the Old Dutch Church (built in 1685) and go on the evening lantern tour through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (where


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Irving, Rockefellers and Carnegies are buried). Tarrytown lies an hour north by train from New York City’s Grand Central Station. FRANCES MAYES’ Under the Tuscan Sun, translated into 52 languages, remained on The New York Times best seller list for more than two years. The hilltop town of Cortona, setting for the book, is a magnet for Mayes’ loyal fans who have read the book, seen the movie (starring Diane Lane) and now want to see Villa Bramasole, Mayes’ apricot-colored house where she still spends summers. People-watch in Piazza Signorelli while sipping an espresso at Caffé Vittoria (mentioned in the book) or taste a glass of Tuscan red wine at Enoteca Enotria in Via Nazionale. Reach Cortona by train from Rome (2.5 hours) or Florence (1.5 hours). WHEN NOVELIST JANE AUSTEN lived in Bath,

England (1801–1806), it was a thriving spa town popular with the rich and fashionable. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Neoclassical city where Austen set two of her books is still famous for its natural hot springs. Take the plunge at Thermae Bath Spa or a wild swim at Warleigh Weir. Sip afternoon tea under crystal chandeliers in The Pump Room. Tuck into a plate of fish-and-chips at The Royal Crescent Hotel’s Dower House Restaurant. The annual Jane Austen Festival takes place in September; period costumes are required for the Masked Ball. Get to Bath from London by train (1.5 hours) or by car via M-4 (2.5 hours). STIEG LARSSON’S Millennium Series — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels — took the world by storm, selling more than 100 million copies and creating millions of fans who descend on Stockholm to walk in the footsteps of main characters investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker/social misfit Lisbeth Salander. Walking tours take readers through the now gentrifying but still gritty-aroundthe-edges Söder neighborhood to locations mentioned in the books and

used as filming locations. These include Mellqvist Kaffebar, frequented by Blomkvist and by Larsson himself, and atmospheric Kvamen, the favorite hangout bar of Salander and her friends from the rock band Evil Fingers. IN THE 1920S AND ’30s, when the Harlem Renaissance was in full swing, Black writers, artists and musicians flocked to the upper Manhattan neighborhood, and it became the epicenter of Black culture. Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Count Basie walked these streets. While living here, Zora Neale Hurston wrote her most celebrated novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Some of the landmarks — the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the Apollo Theater and Sugar Hill — are still here. People who live and work in Harlem now offer authentic walking tours. For a more complete immersion, reserve the Harlem Spirituals Gospel on Sunday tour (includes a church service and soul-food brunch). A 10-minute taxi ride from Midtown Manhattan gets you to Harlem.

Writers in Residence: (Left to right) Headless Horseman Bridge at Sleepy Hollow; Villa Bramasole, Frances Mayes’ house made famous for its renovation in Under the Tuscan Sun; Washington Irving`s Sunnyside cottage overlooking the Hudson River; and the Apollo Theater in Harlem PHOTOS: © FEARPOGO | DREAMSTIME .COM, © SHELLEY DENNIS |


LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021 globaltravelerusa.com


Literary Life: (Left to right) A luggage cart in the wall at Platform 9 3∕₄ at King’s Cross Station in London, England; Great Hall at Christ Church College in Oxford, England; Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland; Ambos Mundos in Havana, Cuba; red pickup trucks from the Twilight Saga in Forks, Washington; and American Eagle paddlewheel riverboat berthed at Mark Twain Pier in Hannibal, Missouri PHOTOS: © MADRABOTHAIR | DREAMSTIME.COM, © LUKAS BISCHOFF | DREAMSTIME.COM, © CHON KIT LEONG | DREAMSTIME .COM, © ULITA | DREAMSTIME.COM, © SEAN PAVONE | DREAMSTIME .COM, © BRIAN SCANTLEBURY | DREAMSTIME.COM


IN DAN BROWN’S PARIS, everyone’s in on it. Even the venerable Louvre offers Da Vinci Code tours (the Denon Wing is, after all, where Jacques Saunière was murdered). Self-guided or guided tours follow the book’s cryptic clues to The Ritz, the Church of Saint-Sulpice (headquarters of the mysterious Priory of Sion), the Bois de Bologne and the Palais-Royale. The owner of Château de Villette (residence of the novel’s antagonist, Sir Leigh Teabing) is a big Dan Brown fan and conducts private tours for those with deep pockets: a stay at the château, two nights at The Ritz and private-car visits to all the locations mentioned in Brown’s über-popular book that sold 80 million copies. DISCOVER HARRY POTTER’S London and Oxford. First, tour Warner Bros.’ London studios to see movie sets, props, costumes and learn about the special effects (how did Harry fly?). Then, get ready for your first day at Hogwarts by visiting Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and Diagon Alley, where you can buy a magic wand and your very own Hedwig (stuffed, of course). Fast, direct trains to Oxford (45 minutes) depart nearby Paddington Station hourly. In Oxford, join a Harry Potter

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Walking Tour to discover the secrets of Hogwarts. The Bodleian Library’s Divinity School was Hogwarts Infirmary (you’ll recognize the vaulted Gothic ceiling), Duke Humfrey’s Library became Hogwarts Library, New College Cloisters was where Harry came face to face with dastardly Draco Malfoy, and see the imposing Great Hall at Christ Church College. Visit in summer when college is not in session, stay in an Oxford University dorm room and dine in one of the great halls (à la Harry Potter). JAMES JOYCE’S MODERNIST masterpiece Ulysses shocked the literary world in 1922 and still serves as an excellent walking tour guide of Dublin’s boozy pubs, bakeries smelling of gourmand richness, Sweny’s Pharmacy (the center for Joyce-based events) and historic Trinity College. STAY IN THE POET Dylan Thomas’ childhood home at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Swansea, Wales (now a B&B). Visit his writing cottage and take in a male-voice choir performance (originally organized by out-of-work coal miners). Thomas is author of Under Milk Wood, the perennial holiday favorite A Child’s Christmas in Wales and many others.

Trains from London Paddington Station to South Wales stop at Newport, Cardiff and Swansea (about three hours). DIANA GABALDON’S Outlander series has sold more than 28 million copies; fans eagerly await the ninth volume, due in fall 2021. A 12-day, self-drive route through Scotland features vintage trains, cobble-street villages, ruined castles and key filming locations, including the ancient Deanston Distillery, where you can sip single-malt whisky. ERNEST HEMINGWAY PENNED The Old Man and the Sea while living in Cuba in the 1950s. Catch the panoramic views of Old Havana from the rooftop bar at Ambos Mundos (Hemingway’s favorite hotel), sip Papa Doble daiquiris at El Floridita and take in a show at the high-kicking-since-the-1950s Tropicana. FOR A TASTE OF MARK TWAIN’S Americana, head to Hannibal, Missouri, his one-time hometown. The heart of this riverside town is largely unchanged from the late-19th-century setting of The Adventures of Huckleberry

Finn. Board a paddle steamer for a sightseeing Mississippi River cruise, including a stop at still-uninhabited Jackson Island (where, in the book, Huck and Jim meet). SET ON PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, Canada, Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables tells the story of a feisty red-haired orphan who won the hearts of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert … and, translated into 36 languages, charmed readers all over the world. Visit the Cuthbert farm. Stroll down Lover’s Lane. Stay at the 1890s Dalvay by the Sea Hotel (mentioned in the book). Take in Anne of Green Gables – The Musical in Charlottetown. (Due to COVID restrictions, the musical will not be staged in 2021). STEPHENIE MEYER’S Twilight Saga — four fantasy romances chronicling the instant and all-consuming attraction between shy Bella and handsome vampire Edward — sold more than 160 million copies and spawned five films. Dedicated fans travel from all over the world to tiny Forks, Washington, to visit Twilight locations and enjoy the Forever Twilight Festival annually in September.

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Return Engagements Start planning now to attend the sporting and cultural events of 2022. BY JACK GUY

Global Gatherings: Men marching with torches at Up Helly Aa festival on the Shetland Islands (above); and opposite page: White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia (top left), a Songkran festival (top right), and the world-famous carnaval parade at the Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro (bottom) PHOTOS: © ZDENKA MLYNARIKOVA | DREAMSTIME.COM, © TATIANA BELOVA | DREAMSTIME.COM, © HWANNAA | DREAMSTIME.COM, © DNDAVIS | DREAMSTIME.COM



he coronavirus pandemic largely kept travelers at home for what feels like an interminably long time, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. As vaccination programs continue to progress, we hope our horizons will broaden significantly in 2022. With that in mind, we take a spin through a selection of global sporting and cultural events that will inspire you to plan a trip or two. Those keen to travel early in the year should take a look at the Up Helly Aa fire festival, which takes place annually on the last Tuesday of January (Jan. 25, 2022) in Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland. Hundreds of locals dress up in Viking costumes and march through the streets carrying flaming torches, while others drag a replica Viking galley to be ceremonially burned. All around, parties in houses and halls celebrate Shetland history and tradition, with visitors welcome to join in what remains a community event. At the other end of the scale in terms of size, Beijing will host the Winter Olympic Games Feb. 4–20, 2022. Fans of skiing, snowboarding and more will be able to see the biggest stars in winter sports compete while also getting to know the historic Chinese capital and the Great Wall of China, sections of which lie just a few hours’ drive from Beijing.

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Those who would rather get in some winter sun in warmer climes might prefer to book a flight to Rio de Janeiro, where the annual carnival will return Feb. 25–March 5 following a year off in 2021. While carnival events take place in many Latin American countries, Rio’s simply can’t be beat in terms of size or energy, with 90,000 spectators packed into a specially built stadium known as the Sambadrome and hundreds of thousands more celebrating throughout the streets of the city. Book a week in a nearby beach town, such as Búzios or Paraty, to relax and rejuvenate after the chaos. Those craving moments of shared joy after pandemic isolation will also love Songkran celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand, April 13–17, 2022. The festival marks the Buddhist New Year; and while many do pray and take part in religious activities, the whole city also turns into a gigantic water fight for three days. Grab a bucket or water gun and get involved in cleansing everything and everyone you see. Once the excitement is over, why not take a trip north to the jungles of Chiang Mai or go scuba diving off the beaches of Ko Samet or Pranburi? Heading into the summer months, culture vul-

Crowd Pleasers: Giant kite at All Saints Day festival in Guatemala (top), and a young man with his camel in the desert during Al Dhafra Festival PHOTOS: © LUCY BROWN | DREAMSTIME.COM, © KERTU SAARITS | DREAMSTIME.COM


tures will enjoy the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June. Programmed during a period when the sun almost never sets over the city, which lies only around 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, the arts festival showcases ballet, opera and music from Russian performers as well as international guests. Time your visit for the end of the festival and enjoy the Scarlet Sails celebration, encompassing concerts, fireworks and a huge water show. Round off your trip with a luxury sleeper train ride to Moscow to explore the Russian capital before flying home. Around the same time, sports fans have an opportunity to take in two great European events, starting with the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 27–July 10, 2022. Watch the world’s top players while you chow down on traditional

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strawberries and cream, then take some daytrips around London and the surrounding area. Wimbledon overlaps with the famous Tour de France cycling race, touring the country July 1–25, 2022. The exact route is still to be confirmed, but each year the race passes through the Pyrenees mountain range in the south and the Alps in the east before ending up in Paris. Simply choose the stage which passes through the area that appeals to you most and show up to cheer on the riders from the side of the road. To celebrate animals rather than humans, head to South Africa in late September for the Hermanus Whale Watching Festival near Cape Town. Since 1971 the annual event has celebrated the return of southern right whales to South African waters from their feeding grounds in Antarctica, attracting about 100,000 visitors in recent years. September, when whale calves are born in the area, proves one of the best months for whale watching, and there are plenty of talks and events to keep visitors entertained. Tack on a trip to the Addo Elephant National Park farther east and try to spot the elephants, lions and hyenas which call the area home. Then drive back through the stunning scenery of the Garden Route National Park. As winter rolls back around in the Northern Hemisphere, escape to Guatemala to celebrate All Saints Day, Nov. 1. While Mexico’s Día de los Muertos parades are more famous, the giant kite festival in Sumpango, Guatemala, offers a more unique experience. Each year local community

groups construct massive kites, some of which can measure up to 55 feet in diameter, and show them off at the event. All Saints Day is an occasion to celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones, and the kites are said to represent a way for the living to communicate with the dead. After the festival, spend a few days in the beautiful colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala, and then head to Lake Atitlán and Semuc Champey. Later that month the world’s biggest soccer event takes place in Qatar. The Middle Eastern country will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup Nov. 21–Dec. 18, becoming the first edition not to be held in May, June or July, due to Qatar’s sweltering summer temperatures. Even with the scheduling change, officials engineered air-conditioning systems for the stadiums, a development which adds to the sense the 2022 tournament will be a unique event in World Cup history. If you have time, it’s worth hopping over the border into neighboring Abu Dhabi for an altogether different kind of competition: the world’s largest camel beauty pageant. The Al Dhafra Festival runs mid-December into January, and breeders show off their best-looking camels as well as the fastest and best at producing milk. Visitors can enjoy camel races, beauty pageants and a plethora of local food and crafts. What better way to close out the year than with a World Cup and a camel beauty pageant, returning home for Christmas and the start of 2023, when we all hope the pandemic will be completely contained all around the world.



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Pure Indulgence Linger in luxury at the most exclusive hotel villas and private hideaways. BY SUSAN B. BARNES


Caribbean Treasures: Bluefields Bay Villas pool (top), room (bottom left), and private dining (bottom right); and Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia (right) PHOTOS: © BLUEFIELDS BAY VILLAS, © SUGAR BEACH, A VICEROY RESORT

s I sit poolside overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the warm Jamaican sun shining down and all the cares of the world gently slipping away, the villa’s butler approaches, carrying frosted glasses of piña coladas on a silver tray, ready to quench a thirst I had not yet realized I had. The blend of fresh pineapple juice and coconut milk, not to mention island rum, is perfection, and with one sip even more cares melt away. After I finish the refreshing drink and take a quick dip in the pool, I return to my spacious room to ready for dinner. The villa’s private chef is preparing another tantalizing meal, likely organic and locally sourced, that will be served on fine china with silver service by candlelight, the trade winds and evening island sounds adding to the ambience. Though elegant, the villa’s vibe is island casual, and I am asked to make myself at home. After all, the villa is my home, at least while I’m in Jamaica. This provides but a taste of the exceptional and attentive yet never intrusive service I enjoyed during a stay at The Hermitage, one in a collection of six private, seaside, open-air villas at Bluefields Bay Villas along the hilly Jamaican coastline. Each of the villas, ranging in size from two to six bedrooms, features expansive views; private pools; and a dedicated butler, maid service and chef to tend to guests’ every want. Island activities like kayaking, deep-sea fishing, tennis, hiking and sunset cruises are a request away, as are private rum and cigar tours and in-villa spa treatments. Bluefields Bay Villas was recently added to the distinctive Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Bluefields Bay Villas is one of myriad private hideaways and exclusive hotel villas around the world. Here we take a look at international and domestic destinations to inspire your next luxurious getaway. ELSEWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort on St. Lucia, has a Four Bedroom Beachfront Collec-

tion that is hard to beat. Each expansive villa in the collection features more than 4,000 square feet, four ocean-view master bedrooms and floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that open to views of the island’s iconic Pitons or the Caribbean Sea. Outside, enjoy a private infinity pool, walled garden, balcony terrace and outdoor kitchen and shower. The resort’s signature butler service will have you feeling at home right away, taking care of unpacking your luggage, organizing dinner reservations

all-villa, 5-star luxury eco resort with a sense of unhindered relaxation. Earlier this year the resort debuted 34 new private beachfront pool suites, complete with private outdoor terraces, heated plunge swimming pools and outdoor showers. Soak in a curated bath experience, the menu of which includes a Moor mud bath or honeyed milk and rose beauty soak. Stay in and enjoy a meal with a private chef, take a Mexican cooking class or indulge in mezcal tastings.

and arranging island activities to make your stay memorable for years to come. Sugar Beach has a private jet partnership with XO Private Jet Travel, making getting to and from St. Lucia seamless. Travel by private jet to the Bahamas with NetJets, and upon arrival at The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort on Paradise Island, your private butler will escort you to your beachfront villa. Offering two, three or four bedrooms, each villa boasts its own pool, either with panoramic views of the ocean or surrounded by lush gardens. A personal chef will prepare a casual poolside barbecue for you and your family, or dine on a private beach and watch the sun dip into the horizon. On the Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula, Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Riviera Maya is an exclusive,

EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS — the international scene abounds with exclusive options. The Top Floor Collection at Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo is for the most discerning travelers. Spanning approximately 4,300 square feet, the collection includes seven penthouse suites, each designed by iconic French designer Jacques Garcia. The service at Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo is as impeccable as the accommodations, including helicopter transfers, private check-in en suite, butler service and much more. Take a 40-minute private seaplane transfer from Malé Airport and arrive at your own private oasis in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island. The villas are designed to provide effortless comfort, and the private staff will tend to your every whim. One to consider is Nirolhu Private Residence, including its LEISURE LIFESTYLE 2021 globaltravelerusa.com


Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe. Each of the house’s five bedrooms has its own private deck, and the living spaces open to a private infinity pool with panoramic views of the 130,000 acres of the virtually untouched surrounding wilderness. During your stay you will have a dedicated private chef, game vehicle and field guide to make the most of your safari.

Exquisite Escapes: Villa del Sol, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Scottsdale (above); and ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki dinner setting (right) PHOTOS: © VILLA DEL SOL, SANCTUARY CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN RESORT & SPA, © ESPACIO THE JEWEL OF WAIKIKI

own brand-new hammam spa complete with steam room, cold plunge pool and marble treatment bed. Indulge in a full Turkish bath ritual featuring pure, cold-pressed black soap and a foam body massage performed on the heated hammam marble bed. Worries? What worries? The Grand Riad at Royal Mansour Marrakech may be the most luxurious villa you can imagine. The palace-within-a-palace measures more than 19,000 square feet with its own landscaped gardens.


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Dine on dishes created by your private chef in the courtyard on the ground floor. The first floor features four en-suite bedrooms, while a private spa, gym and cinema occupy the second floor. The twolevel roof terrace, complete with a solarium, Berber tent and swimming pool, boasts incredible views over the Medina, Atlas Mountains and Koutoubia. For an exclusive African safari, opt for Singita Malilangwe House, perched on a hilltop alongside the Singita Pamushana Lodge in the remote

BACK STATESIDE, LITTLE PALM ISLAND Resort & Spa in the Florida Keys, the only private island resort in the United States, is available for a complete buyout. Arrive on the island via private yacht; and once on its sandy shores, choose from the resort’s 16 Escape Suites, 10 Romantic Suites, two Island Grand Suites or two Island Premier Suites. Complete buyouts include gourmet meals for up to 60 guests each day; full access to the brand-new, world-class spa; and island activities including standup paddling, kayaking, fishing and snorkeling. Villa del Sol at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, is dedicated to complete wellness, with distinct spa-centric amenities and a strong emphasis on the whole mind-whole body focus of the world-class Sanctuary Spa. The 3,500-square-foot, fourbedroom villa features a treatment room for in-villa massages as well as a private movement studio for classes and personal training. A spa concierge and dedicated Sensei in Residence are on hand for a complete wellness escape. California’s wine country sets the stage for one of TurnKey Vacation Rentals’ prime properties, a palatial getaway set on more than four acres at the former Spreckles Estate. Filled with natural light, the 2,700-square-foot home features three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 14-foot-high wood ceilings and French doors that open to the outdoors. Bring in a private chef to whip up a decadent meal in the incredible kitchen, and afterward gather poolside to gaze at the views of the Mayacama Mountains or wander down a private path to a stone fire pit with spectacular views of the Valley of the Moon. Say “aloha” to your private suite at ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki in Honolulu. Each suite in the nine-story, nine-suite boutique luxury hotel features 2,250 square feet of living space, accessible by personal elevator entry. The two- and three-bedroom suites boast spa-like, Italian marble bathrooms with dry saunas, designer kitchens with wine cellars and fully stocked refrigerators, and balconies with Jacuzzis and panoramic views. Your personal butler stocks the pantry to your specifications and can arrange styling from Neiman Marcus Ala Moana as well as private expeditions to secret local beaches, private chef dinners and use of a fleet of luxury vehicles to explore Oahu.

FLY WITH CONFIDENCE For the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), there is no higher priority than the safety and well-being of the traveling public and its airport community in Chicago. O’Hare and Midway International Airports, which are operated by the CDA, are committed to providing travelers with safe and efficient facilities, while offering best-in-class services and amenities. The CDA continues to work closely with federal, state, and local agencies to ensure travelers are healthy, comfortable and safe. Chicago’s airports are ready to make your essential travel possible. For more information on what we are doing, visit flychicago.com/covid

/fly2ohare /fly2midway

@fly2ohare @fly2midway

@fly2ohare @fly2midway



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Thrill Rides Test your limits with adrenaline-fueled activities around the world. BY MARLENE GOLDMAN


hen I say get down, pull in your oars and crouch down in the middle of the raft,” our guide, Henri, shouted. “And if you do flip out, don’t panic. Just float and we will get you.” The words resonated as we hit Overtime, the first Class V rapid along this 12-mile stretch of the Ugandan White Nile. “Get down!” Henri screamed. The current spun and twisted our raft like an agitator, tossing us side to side. As we hit the bottom of the rapid the force propelled me out into a warm, calm pool


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of fresh water. “Don’t panic,” I reminded myself. I found the edge of the raft and Henri pulled me back in. The second spill was more terrifying. We portaged around the top of a Class VI rapid, Itanda Falls, but did attempt the bottom third, known as the Bad Place. This time I flew out and ended up under the raft. I panicked. My flailing hands finally found the edge of the raft as my endorphins kicked in. Years later, the adventure stands out as one of my lifetime travel highlights. Today, companies like White Nile Rafting offer options for Class V daytrips or multiday excursions. Whitewater rafting draws thrillseekers to other river

hot spots like the Zambezi River in Zambia, below Victoria Falls, where rapids sport descriptive names like Commercial Suicide and Gnashing Jaws of Death. In the United States, multiday rafting trips along the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon remain a bucket-list item, led by companies like Arizona’s Wilderness River Adventures. Other aquatic thrills include swimming with dangerous critters. In Australia, humans are the ones caged for close encounters with crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin City. Divers are secured in the Cage of Death and can watch crocodiles feeding for a 15-minute controlled encounter.

Cage divers can also go nose to nose with great white sharks thanks to Incredible Adventures, which organizes multiday trips to Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe, known for its population of great whites. Trips leave from Ensenada. The company also offers caged shark dives at the Farallon Islands, roughly 30 miles offshore from San Francisco, home of some of the world’s biggest white sharks. Sharks the size of cars migrate seasonally to the islands to feed on the local seal population. Certified naturalists provide an overview of the wildlife present within the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. No dive experience is required. Sharks are part of the exhilarating experience at Aquaventure water park at Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas. On Leap of Faith, guests drop down full speed from the top of a replica Maya temple through a clear tunnel surrounded by a lagoon full of live sharks and other marine life. “From a 200-foot body slide (The Abyss) that plunges guests through waterfalls and into our secret cenote to our incredible underwater tunnels that allow guests to view thousands of marine life at Atlantis, there is excitement at every turn,” said Michelle Liu, senior vice president, Marine Water Park and Operations, Atlantis Paradise Island. Disney gets in on the thrills with its Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach water park, located at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort. The water slide tumbles 12 stories almost straight down, shooting through a dark tunnel and into whitewater after a 360-foot-long, high-speed drop.

FOR THE INTREPID, Switzerland is a skydiving mecca, including Skydive Lauterbrunnen, where the fearless ride up to 14,000 feet in a helicopter to free-fall with views of Jungfrau, Eiger and other glaciers, or from Interlaken for a ride over the Swiss Alps. On Hawai’i’s North Shore, tandem skydiving with Skydive Hawaii provides a safe option for first-timers. Jumpers descend at about 120 mph with their guides overlooking the Pacific. For those who prefer a bit more security, the AJ Hackett Macau Tower Bungy Jump ranks as the world’s highest, letting jumpers pitch off the tower from 764 feet above ground. There is a six-second free fall before the bungee cord rebounds less than 100 feet from the ground. “Jumping from a building is quite extreme at the best of times, and here in Macau being the highest in the world, the free fall experience is intense,” said Adam Lichtenstein, regional manager, AJ Hackett International, and general manager, AJ Hackett Macau Tower. Less extreme, Skyjump offers a tethered, 17-second descent from the same height to the ground. “Skyjump, while the same in the sense that you are still jumping from the top of the Macau Tower, is a controlled descent, a system often used by stuntmen in action films,” Lichtenstein said. Zip lines also offer the thrills of aerial flight without the free fall. One of the most iconic settings — and the highest zip line in the United

Delight and Excite: (Left to right) Raft plunging into Overtime in Uganda; cage diving with great white shark in Guadalupe, Mexico; enjoying the view of Jungfrau, Switzerland; and Cloudscape zip line at Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge & Park PHOTOS: © MARLENE GOLDMAN, © CAGEDIVER .COM, © ANDREAS MANN | DREAMSTIME.COM, © ROYAL GORGE BRIDGE & PARK

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of coastal brown bears and whales. Less extreme but equally terrifying for anyone with a fear of heights is the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk with BridgeClimb Sydney. The 440-foot-high bridge links the northern and southern shores of the iconic Sydney Harbour. New Zealand’s version stretches along the Auckland Harbour Bridge, offering custom walkways and 360-degree views of the city. Bridge bungy jumps are also an option. In the United States, Bridge Walk offers guided tours of the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, spanning more than 3,000 feet, along a catwalk 25 feet beneath the bridge deck. Toronto’s CN Tower touts its EdgeWalk Experience as the world’s highest, hands-free external walk on a building. Those brave enough to dare can “walk” along a five-foot-wide ledge that circles the top of the tower, some 1,168 feet above the ground.

Top Speed: BMW Performance Driving School (top); and Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (bottom) PHOTO: © BMW PERFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOLS, © FORMULA ROSSI

States — is the Cloudscraper over Royal Gorge at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Cañon City, Colorado. “As the highest zip line in America, the Cloudscraper is unlike any other zip line visitors might experience,” said Dona Basha, sales and marketing manager at the park. “You truly feel like you’re taking flight, soaring above the clouds.” Adrenaline junkies can also try The ZipRider at Alaska’s Icy Strait Point in Hoonah, which includes six zip lines, each more than 5,330 feet long and dropping 1,330 feet. While zipping, there are possible sightings


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ON TERRA FIRMA, winter sports aficionados can swoosh down a former Olympic bobsled track at Utah’s Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Sliding Track. The Winter Bobsled Experience sets up passengers with a professional bobsled pilot for a lightning-speed ride. Utah is also a mountain biking haven with thrill rides in Moab like Porcupine Rim and Slickrock. Moab Adventure Center offers biking guides. Farther north, British Columbia boasts more than 90 trails at Whistler Mountain Bike Park, with many rated as advanced or expert only, including The Peak alpine zone, with a 5,000-vertical-foot descent to the valley. Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi beckons speed freaks with Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world. The ride can accelerate from zero to about 150 mph in less than five seconds. The world’s tallest roller coaster, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, accelerates to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and adds the thrill of a 418-foot drop. Both roller coaster records will be broken when Falcon’s Flight, slated to be the longest, tallest and fastest in the world, debuts in Saudi Arabia at Six Flags Qiddiya, scheduled for 2023. Drivers can put their own pedal to the metal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an IndyCar experience. IndyCar Drive lets visitors rev it up to 130 mph on the track, or IndyCar Ride offers white-knuckle laps with a professional at up to 180 mph. At the BMW Performance Center in Thermal, California, near Palm Springs, drivers can try various car models along a track while navigating cones and tight corners. As a passenger, they can experience a hot lap with a driver speeding and drifting sideways on fast corners. “Hot laps leave everyone smiling, laughing and sometimes screaming … all good screams,” said Matt Misko, operations manager, BMW Performance Center West at The Thermal Club. On the three tracks at the adjacent Thermal Club, drivers can try the M Track Drive experience at faster speeds or sit with a professional driver hurtling some 140 mph along the Thermal South Palm track, where screams are mandatory.

Retro Revival Discover America’s classic drive-ins, diners and deliciously quirky finds. BY KRISTY ALPERT Classic Americana: Drive-in movie theater PHOTO: © JAMES KIRKIKIS | DREAMSTIME.COM



t’s as simple as rolling down a window on a summer road trip to let the warm breeze permeate the car. It can happen at the sound of a bat cracking as it hits a curveball far into left field. And it can even creep up as the scent of freshly fried funnel cake wafts through the grounds of your county fair. That wave of homegrown nostalgia is as classic as America itself, where apple pies become more than a mere post-dinner pastry and state fairs become can’t-miss annual affairs for multiple generations of families. Roadside diners and drive-in movie theaters may seem like a thing of the past, but retro is relevant once again, and that Americana spirit is back in a big way as road trips become the preferred mode of transportation. A recent study from IPX1031 found more than half (58 percent) of

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Americans plan to travel this year, although less than half (48 percent) feel comfortable boarding a plane. With many international trips on hold and frequently changing domestic travel restrictions, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of the road trip. Exploring the open roads of America proves the best way to experience the country, as more than 4.124 million miles of roads offer open-ended possibilities for adventure and discovery. (To plan your journey, check out the Federal Highway Administration’s guide to American Byways at fhwa.dot.gov/byways.) “From country lanes to the Las Vegas Strip, America’s roads tell our national story,” said Doug Hecox, spokesperson for the Federal Highway Administration. That story continues to unfold as more and more Americans get back behind the wheel and create a demand for more motor-friendly options; a trend that has likely saved some of the most iconic motor lodges, roadside diners and other drive-in establishments. Just outside of Philadelphia, the retro red and blue marquee above The Mahoning Drive-In Theater looks almost the same as it did when it opened in 1949. The theater, one of the oldest operational drive-ins, continues to welcome movie goers back in time with its exclusively 35mm-film roster, including older classics like The Blob, Footloose and Escape from New York. “Our business has been increasing year by year since we went all-retro

in 2014,” said Mark Nelson, general manager, The Mahoning Drive-In Theater, “but with the pandemic, we were suddenly one of the very few entertainment opportunities for people, so we saw a big surge in attendance. I think we had more sold-out weekends than not last year and added Tuesday and Sunday shows on occasion. [We had] plenty of first timers at our drive-in and, indeed, many people who’d never been to one before. We’ve become very much a roadtripper’s destination, and we get a lot of travelers from all over the country and Canada coming to the theater every year. I guess it just seems natural if you’re on an auto-based trip across the country or region to take in some auto-based entertainment.” At one point, there were roughly 4,000 drive-in movie theaters across the 50 states, but today only 325 continue offering that nostalgic experience, and many do so with a modern spin. At New York’s Greenville Drive-In, guests can sip on craft brews and munch on Sabrett hot dogs with locally made kimchi while watching a newly released independent film. In Austin, Texas, movie watchers swap seat belts for inner tubes as they float on Lake Travis for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s annual “Jaws on the Water” dive-in event. Americans’ craving for classic Americana delves deep into the realm of roadside snacks as well, and a resurgence in traditional recipes filled pie counters with versions of America’s favorite dessert — apple pie — ranging from classic to bizarre. Drivers can dig into the mammoth nineinch-tall Levee High Caramel Pecan Apple Pie from the Blue Owl Bakery in Kimmswick, Missouri — made with 18 apples and listed as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things — or tear through the brown paper wrapper to taste The Elegant Farmer’s Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag from Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Anyone taking a more decadent route will want to stop in for the award-winning Sticky Toffee Pudding Caramel Apple Pie at Sweetie-licious in DeWitt, Michigan, while drivers pull over at the no-frills white trailer home off Arkansas’ Highway 33 for a sweet reward of made-fromscratch apple pie — eaten on the tailgate as the locals do since there are no tables nearby — at Ms. Lena’s Pie Shop in DeValls, Arkansas. The great American road trip is all about the journey, and no journey through the country is complete without a few quirky roadside stops. Many of the quirkiest attractions are found along Historic Highway 66 — once dubbed “Main Street America” as it crossed eight states to create the shortest, year-round route linking Chicago to Los Angeles. Along the way, 25-foot-tall dinosaurs welcome visitors into Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, Arizona, and a blue whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma, has its own Instagram

Roadside Treats: Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, Arizona (above), and apple pie (left) PHOTOS: © MEL SURDIN | DREAMSTIME.COM, © DAVID SMITH | DREAMSTIME.COM

RETRO MOTELS GO MODERN The Verb, Boston, Massachusetts Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, Calistoga, California Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, Georgia Austin Motel, Austin, Texas The Jupiter, Portland, Oregon

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Big Rides: State Fair of Texas Ferris wheel (top), and Indy 500 Corvette Pace cars displayed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky (bottom) PHOTOS: © WENLING01 | DREAMSTIME.COM, © REDWOOD8 | DREAMSTIME.COM


hashtag (#bluewhaleofcatoosa) and cult following on Snapchat. America’s backroads boast the most unusual attractions — like the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things in Lucas, Kansas, or the homage to the Sistine Chapel with Precious Moments characters at the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri. But even the main roads can lead to classic Americana sights such as the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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The museum celebrates a bygone era with a modern interactive experience that puts visitors behind the wheel of this classic American car. Every Corvette in the world is produced on site at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, and the nearby museum offers a make-believe auto shop playroom, nostalgia area, Corvette nursery and a Corvette racing simulator. These Kentucky-bred automobiles frequently star on the auction block at the nearby Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, where they take the stage alongside the annual World Championship Horse Show, held every year since the fair was founded in 1902. Nearly every state in the nation has a state fair these days, with annual gatherings ranging from small competitions held on public land to grandiose events with carnival rides and spirited competitions. (And Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont also join forces for a single New England mega-fair, The Eastern States Exposition.) Despite their ubiquitous nature, no state fair can compete with the stunning spectacle that is the State Fair of Texas. At 24 consecutive days, the State Fair of Texas is the longest-running fair in the nation, as well as one of the largest … and is the only state fair to feature a 55-foot-tall talking cowboy, Big Tex. The grounds span 277 acres and include a football stadium, stages for live music (Elvis once performed there), carnival rides and so much more. Food has become one of the main events in recent years, earning annual Big Tex Awards in categories ranging from Most Creative to Best Taste (Sweet and Savory). Past winners include the cotton candy taco, deep-fried butter and a funnel cake bacon queso burger. “I believe state fairs are about bringing people together from all walks of life to have fun and discover new things,” said Karissa Condoianis, spokesperson, State Fair of Texas. “Although much has changed since our humble beginnings, the State Fair of Texas still embraces its roots and preserves the traditions upon which it was built. Texas heritage is strong, and the State Fair embodies all aspects of Lone Star culture.” Whether it’s about celebrating state pride or about creating new memories, taking a nostalgic trip across America is about rediscovering the beauty and charm of the recipes, landscapes and people that continue to paint and restore the country’s classic backdrop of Americana.



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Behind the Scenes

Get a glimpse of the inner workings of luxury hotels. BY MARK CHESNUT

Fine Dining: Afternoon tea at Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin (above); and Chef Chris Garvin, chef de cuisine, Galley, at Hilton West Palm Beach (right) PHOTOS: © HOTEL ADLON KEMPINSKI BERLIN, © HILTON HOTELS



hen things run smoothly, the average traveler probably pays little attention to what’s going on behind the scenes at their favorite luxury hotel. And that’s the way it should be. But a quick look at the inner workings reveals a world of planning, training and execution that helps ensure a perfect stay. Here are a few of the departments — and the people behind them — that help luxury hotels operate effectively and keep guests coming back.


Upscale hotels often aim to fashion themselves as hubs for culinary excellence. That takes creative vision as well as practical strategizing. “The logistics and communications in a hotel of our size can sometimes be extremely challenging,” said Philipp Pögl, food and beverage director at the 385room Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin. “We usually employ more than 150 service staff and approximately 80 chefs while catering to an average of 1,400 guests per day in our F&B [food and beverage] outlets. Each staff member needs to be fully

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briefed and informed” — including about tricky issues like guest dietary restrictions, he noted. According to Pögl, an increased interest in sustainability and locally sourced products influenced hotel menus. “We source our eggs from an organic farmer with free-range eggs near to Berlin, and another farmer from the suburbs outside the city exclusively provides the hotel with cold cuts or our legendary Curry Wurst sausage,” he said. “And to reduce food waste, since January 2020 we have been partnering with a company called TooGoodToGo. Through their app, we can offer our leftover sandwiches, cakes, breads and pastries at a discounted price after the closure of our outlets. We also provide area zoos with leftover bread to feed their animals.” The pandemic also affected F&B service, Pögl added, with innovations like mobile payment processing and plans to open the hotel’s first “fast-food take away” restaurant. Travelers often have specific dining preferences during the pandemic, agreed Chris Garvin, chef de cuisine, Galley, a restaurant at the Hilton West Palm Beach. “People are looking for experiences,” he said. “Now more than ever, dinner is more than just a meal you enjoy. Our outdoor patio has been our biggest driver throughout the pandemic. People want the dinner experience but in the safest way. Based on some of these trends, we have expanded our outdoor patio seating area, introduced a Tapas Tuesday promotion — [because] people don’t want to be sharing large plated apps — and reintroduced outdoor live music.”


Every hotel’s physical infrastructure demands constant attention — and even more so, perhaps, when the property is as historic as The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel first opened in 1893 as Hotel Grunewald. “The first rule I learned the hard way is to never throw anything away,” said Jeff Dennison, the hotel’s director of engineering. “A broken piece of marble or a corner piece from a plaster baseboard will be needed in the future as a ‘puzzle piece’ for potential repairs. Keeping quick fixes out of your repair repertoire and staying loyal to returning finishes to their original condition is not only the right thing to do, it is in your best interest to retain the condition, textures, patinas, etcetera, moving forward.” Part of the job of engineering and maintenance, of course, is to make sure guests don’t even realize how much work goes on in the background.

“Planning and anticipation are the key, and we are able to do this thanks to a dedicated team effort between engineering, front desk and our housekeeping department,” Dennison said. “Flexibility for the engineering staff is paramount, and they need to be able to work any shift at any time.” Even 21st-century buildings have unique maintenance and engineering needs. In earthquake-prone Mexico City, for example, the Hilton Mexico City Reforma features modern architectural features designed to keep guests and staff safe. “Hilton Mexico City Reforma was built with a system structure of reinforced concrete pillars that supports a concrete plate more than 60 inches in thickness,” said Douglas Chacon, the hotel’s regional director of engineering. “While not a system to absorb shocks from earthquakes, the system helps the building to move in only one direction and avoid a collapse in the event of an earthquake.” The system receives ongoing attention, according to Chacon, including

Attention to Detail: A reinforced concrete pillar and some of the pilot crew at the Hilton Mexico City Reforma (top), and the lobby of The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel (bottom) PHOTOS: © HILTON HOTELS, © THE ROOSEVELT NEW ORLEANS

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daily and weekly building condition checks, water drainage and pillar adjustments. “To ensure guests’ comfort and to avoid disruption, we schedule our work and maintenance with guest relaxation in mind,” he said, “steering clear of peak times of day for limited guest visibility and with a system where we do not have multiple maintenance activities happening at the same time.”


The front desk is often the first point of contact for arriving guests, yet even this public-facing section of the hotel hides lots of behind-the-scenes activity. At The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, the people who work in the front office have titles — “ladies” and “gentlemen” — indicative of the brand’s upscale approach to hospitality. “Aside from technical skills, the front desk leaders focus on teaching our ladies and gentlemen how to enliven the Ritz-Carlton culture,” said Rachele Oduber, the hotel’s front office manager. “They do this by reinforcing very specific tasks, behaviors and habits on a daily basis and by nurturing and inspiring the talent to create memorable experiences for each and every guest. This is what we call The Ritz-Carlton Mystique. Creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is more about how you make our guests feel and the memories you create than about the tasks that you perform.” To that end, Oduber said front office staff are well-equipped to connect guests with authentic local experiences. “We have provided our ladies and gentlemen with the opportunity to participate in the Aruba Certification Program in order to learn accurate and consistent information about Aruba’s history as well as Aruba’s landmarks, so that they are able to share their knowledge of Aruba with our guests,” she explained. “They also use their knowledge and passion for our island to craft curated moments where our guests can experience our culture and all our local flavors.” In response to the pandemic, The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba offers more options for contact-free interactions using the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app. “Another service that has changed is that our guest relations ladies and gentlemen are no longer able to escort our guests all the way to their guestrooms or suites, as only one guest or one family may use the elevators at a time,” Oduber added.


While travelers often see the results of an effective housekeeping program, they usually aren’t aware of what goes into preparing a pristinely inviting guestroom. Appropriate staffing is crucial, according to Sandra Kleinow, executive housekeeper, Britannia Hotel, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World in Trondheim, Norway. “When we first opened after renovation in 2019, it was planned there would be one primary housekeeper and an assistant. But soon after we made a decision to promote several of our cleaners to assistant level, in order to ensure the quality of the others’ work.” Kleinow said department staff members aim for consistency. “Our cleaners have a database of many photos which show the rooms as they should look, to ensure they look the same every time,” she explained. “However, even the best cleaners will overlook some small detail if they are cleaning 10 rooms in a day, so we back each other up by providing checks on our work.” “What most guests probably never pause to consider is that we are not


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only cleaning in the background all day every day, but also there are several meetings throughout the day to ensure standards are being maintained,” Kleinow said. “The pandemic caused some changes [to] our routines,” she added. “But not as much as you would think, because we already had such high standards in regard to cleaning and turning down rooms every day as standard. One initiative I came up with was to ask reception to ask guests to use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at all times when they are in the room. This way, we do not come in to do the turndown service when they are in the room.” Indeed, as the hospitality industry evolves and prepares for the postpandemic world, personal creativity and inventiveness is bound to play an ever-greater role in how hotels serve their guests.

At Your Service: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba (top), and Britannia Hotel junior suite (bottom) PHOTOS: © RITZCARLTON ARUBA, © DREYER HENSLEY

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