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The Most "Amazing Journeys" in 2022, According to National Geographic's Experts Looking at travel through five lenses: nature, adventure, sustainability, culture and history, and family, NatGeo’s experts have narrowed a world of travel riches into a list of 25 can’t-miss journeys next year. read more
I can’t overstate it: 2022 is special for European travel. If you don’t visit in 2022, you’ll be kicking yourself forever.

Have it all to yourself


Leading up to the pandemic, the most popular cities were getting a bit overrun. Before the crowds return in full force, early 2022 may be the best year of your lifetime to visit Venice, Barcelona, Paris or Amsterdam.

New openings


While you were away, a slew of new hotels have been opening in Europe, and a number of gorgeous river cruise ships have launched, waiting for you to discover a new, favorite 'home away from home.'

Catch up on all the experiences we’ve been missing:


  • the flavors of Europe that taste so much better at the source, like Old World wines at Tuscan vineyards, pilsners brewed by monks and served in biergartens, melt-in-your-mouth cheeses, aged in caves, that you’ve never even heard of before, tapas in the south of Spain, or seafood caught fresh that morning in the Mediterranean, and prepared simply with olive oil, lemons, capers or olives and served with a crisp local white wine that’s cold enough to create condensation on your glass that sparkles in the sunshine;

  • the cultural events that remind so many of us of our heritage, like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, mass at the Vatican, and Oktoberfest in Munich. Going to the opera in Vienna, the Palio horse race in Siena, or the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo; or

  • the sporting events and occasions that have become cultural touchstones, like the style of the Monaco Grand Prix, the cycling epic Tour de France, the royal touch of tennis at Wimbledon, or even playing a round of golf at its birthplace in St. Andrew’s, Scotland, yourself.

Once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences


In addition to all these beloved travel memories waiting to be revisited, some things happening in Europe in 2022 are once-in-a-lifetime experiences you’ll never forgive yourself for missing:


The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee


2022 marks 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at age 25. She’s already the longest-serving monarch, and a Platinum Jubilee will be truly historic.

Longevity runs in the Queen’s family, with her ancestor Queen Victoria serving 63 years on the throne and her own Queen Mother living over a century. But the simple math suggests the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee - when she’ll be over 95 years old - may be the last, one-of-a-kind milestone jubilee of her reign, or indeed ever.

So Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the U.K. in 2022 are not to be missed for anyone with an interest in royalty, royal history, or being able to tell their own grandchildren that they took part in this historic occasion.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will come with a year-long series of celebrations around the U.K., with the central festivities focused on an extended official long weekend from 2-5 June.

There will be an epic version of the annual Trooping of the Colour to mark the Queen’s official birthday, as well as a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, a special live concert and the Platinum Jubilee Pageant at Buckingham Palace, the lighting of beacons as well as street parties throughout her realm.

It will be an unprecedented - and likely one-of-a-kind - opportunity to be part of a Royal celebration, see your favorite Royals, and be part of history in the making.


Oberammergau


This small Bavarian village has become synonymous with its once-a-decade Passion Play – a recreation of the biblical story of Easter that consumes the entire village for over a year.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE AS THE DIRECTOR, AND THE VILLAGER WHO PLAYS ‘JESUS,’ EXPLAIN THE HISTORY AND MAGIC OF THIS FAMOUS PERFORMANCE

Attending a play that's been performed for hundreds of years in celebration of the most significant Biblical story is a once – maybe twice? – in a lifetime opportunity.

Unfortunately, the pandemic cancelled the Passion Play in 2020… but luckily, the village will stage its Passion Play in 2022 instead, daily from Spring through Fall.

Joining a land tour or river cruise is by far the best way to 'do' Oberammergau - travel companies locked in blocks of the best seats years ago, as well as dining reservations during your time in this small village.


Floriade, the 'World’s Fair' of Horticulture


Every 10 years, this ‘World’s Fair’ of flowers upstages even the Netherlands’ glorious 'Tulip Time.'

Horticulture is famously the Netherlands’ most ‘colorful’ industry. The country sells half of the world’s ‘floriculture’ products and over three-quarters of the world’s flower bulbs. It’s number one in greenhouse horticulture and leads global exports of cut flowers, ornamental plants and even trees.

The ultimate celebration of horticulture, Floriade, happens only 10 times a century, and the next one is in 2022.
Floriade is the largest public event in the Netherlands, drawing 2 million visitors over six months between April and October to its vast displays of almost any plant that grows, in stunning gardens, installations, pavilions and greenhouses, displays from exhibitors around the world and a vibrant arts and culture program.

Floriade 2022 takes place in a purpose-built, ultra-modern, 150-acre ‘garden city’ near Amsterdam.


An electric scale-model train moves visitors around the vast site, and a 35-meter high, 850-meter long cable car provides an incredible view of what will seem like the Garden of Eden below.

Like many other ticketed events, it pays to be part of an escorted group to Floriade, with guaranteed access and no need to line up with people waiting for tickets.


2022 Travel Tip


No matter what’s on your travel list in 2022, we have one big travel tip: book soon.

With people using their stored-up travel credits, and everyone looking to make up lost travel time, some events and blocks of tickets are already selling out.

Now’s the time to start planning with your expert travel advisor to return to Europe in 2022 with a bang.

#StartYourTrip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host of BestTrip TV


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.








5 Reasons This is the Year to Give the Gift of Travel
The gift-giving season is close at hand, and this year, more than ever before, travel may be the very best present you can place for someone under the tree.

Lynn Elmhirst, producer and host of BestTrip TV, explains:

Experiences vs. Things

Study after study shows it, and we know it instinctively ourselves. Our best memories, the best of times, are about experiences, especially shared experiences with loved ones. Not stuff.

How many presents do you yourself remember? Compared to the smile that appears on your face when you think of your favorite travel moments.

Humans are hardwired to cherish the things that travel is all about: new experiences, once-in-a-lifetime moments, meeting new people who are passionate about sharing their culture, talents, and life experiences with you.

There’s something primal about humans wandering in search of new tastes, new horizons, new ways of living and thinking. 

The exploring gene is real. Give your loved ones a new campfire to visit, and new memories to share and remember for a lifetime.

Cherish the Planet, don’t Fill it with Garbage

How many people in your life 'need' anything? Most of us have more stuff than we know what to do with. Even if it’s useful, do we need the newest version? Unnecessary goods become landfill.

Time to step off the object acquisition treadmill and fill our loved ones’ lives with experiences they’ll cherish, not stuff they’ll eventually throw away.

Responsible travel can be sustainable, rewarding… and the best gift of all.

For the Person who has 'Everything'

That’s especially true for 'that' person. The one who says they have 'everything.' Why give them more stuff when you already know they don't want any more of it?

Even the person who has 'everything' still hasn’t experienced everything. Who better to give the gift of travel?

The subcategory of this person is people who are living in small spaces or down sizing. The last thing they need or really want is more things to try to find a place for. Travel is the best way to live large in small spaces.

Sharing your Blessings

The pandemic has been so difficult for so many people. For people and communities and countries whose survival depends on tourism, these have been the most difficult times ever.

By giving the gift of travel, and putting local economies back to work, you can directly share your blessings with hard-working people who rely on travel to support their own families.

What’s more, you can give the gift that also gives back. There are responsible, meaningful travel experiences that allow travelers to directly participate in experiences that build communities, people up, and restore the wonders of Nature.

What could be a more heartfelt gift?

Reaping the Rewards of the Return to Travel

Travel is still just getting restarted again. To inspire us to get back into the travel habit, his year, more than ever before, travel providers are offering seasonal deals we may never see the likes of again.

These bigger and better offers are making the gift of travel - for yourself or for your loved ones - irresistible. From hotels and resorts, air-included packages, cruises and guided tours… the promotions are so good - it’s like a holiday gift to you!

How to Give

There are so many ways to give the gift of travel - to yourself, your immediate, or extended family or friends… even to colleagues or business contacts this holiday season.

Whether you want to plan a specific trip, or get them started on their way, your trusted travel advisor can help you understand all your options and the best ways to give the…

#GiftofTravel


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






To celebrate the release of the long-awaited new James Bond film, No Time to Die, the Jamaica Tourist Board is releasing some exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage.

It showcases cast and crew from the movie, as well as some of the locations shot in Jamaica.

The country has been part of the Bond legacy from the very beginning. Author Ian Fleming created the series and wrote the James Bond novels at his seaside home, appropriately named ‘Goldeneye’.

And in fact, Jamaica had a starring role in the very first Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No, and also was the vivid backdrop to Bond action in Live and Let Die in 1973.

It can easily be said that Jamaica is the birthplace and spiritual home of the 007 character – so it’s fitting that the latest – 25th - film in the classic spy thriller series should return there for the latest actor playing Bond, Daniel Craig’s, exit from the role of James Bond. 

“We’re a place for beginnings,” says Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, in the video released by the Jamaica Tourist Board. “But we are also the place for great endings.”


Without giving anything away! In No Time to Die, Bond has aged out of active service, enjoying retirement in Jamaica (image captured from the video above). That is, until his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter, shows up asking for help.

Naturally, their mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be much more complex and treacherous than they expected, leading James Bond to a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology and evil in his heart.

After that… well, you’ll just have to head to the theater to see the film!

But watch the short film above as an appetizer to the full Bond movie – or your next trip to Jamaica! You can get a sneak preview of some of the spectacular beachside and urban scenes filmed for the movie in Jamaica, as well as glimpses inside Ian Fleming’s Jamaica home, Goldeneye, which is now a hotel, with access to – you guessed it – James Bond Beach.

For more details about the upcoming Bond Film No Time to Die, you can visit www.007.com

Start Your Trip!




Chicago's Signature Sculpture is Now 'Spilling the Beans' on the Best Ways to Visit
Chicago’s ‘The Bean’ sculpture is already one of the most popular attractions in the city.

Officially titled ‘Cloud Gate’, the massive, stainless steel sculpture anchors Chicago’s lakefront Millennium Park. At 33 feet high, 42 feet wide, 66 feet long… and about the weight of 15 elephants! the abstract work of public art dominates the cityscape and is one of the largest outdoor art installations in the world.

Almost every visitor to Chicago finds themselves taking in the awe-inspiring reflective surface of The Bean at least once. It mirrors the park and park visitors, the lights along Michigan Avenue, the Chicago skyline - and visitors themselves – in its shiny surface.

Many don’t just look at themselves in The Bean. The perfect, smooth finish invites park visitors to touch the surface, and its curved underside serves as an entrance to the park (hence its formal name Cloud Park.)
Now, The Bean isn’t just the iconic symbol of Chicago and a mirror onto life in the park.

(CH/ Choose Chicago)

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Bean is now part of the visitor action. And travelers to Chicago can interact with The Bean on a whole new level. 

Choose Chicago describes it from the perspective of The Bean:

“Day in and day out for years, humans have come to stare at The Bean. And The Bean has been staring back. And been in more selfies than even The Bean can count. The Bean has loved all of it.

Then, in 2020, the visitors paused.
 
And that’s when something wonderful happened to The Bean. The Bean’s friends at Choose Chicago knew the world deserved more Bean. A Bean whose visitors could interact with digitally. A Bean that could truly reflect all that the beautiful city of Chicago has to offer.”
 
Choose Chicago partnered with a Northwestern University student lab to power The Bean by AI, enabling it to have digital conversations and answer questions from visitors, suggesting places and events for them to experience the city, from neighbourhood restaurants to events next weekend to child-friendly activities, things to do and more.
 
You don’t have to travel to Chicago to meet its new digital ambassador. The Bean's AI entity lives on the Choose Chicago website, and is available 24-7 to help people from near and far to discover the best of Chicago and plan a future trip.
 
As The Bean ‘says’:

“The sentient Bean is now ready to tell you all about stunning Chicago. The Bean spent years analyzing the idle chitchat of nearby visitors. The Bean learned the importance of helping people locate pizza of all depths. The Bean learned there is other non-Bean art and culture to help humans to enjoy. And The Bean learned more than The Bean wanted about the baseball rivalry that splits the city into two areas: North of The Bean and South of The Bean.
 
“Ask The Bean anything—and The Bean will share everything it knows.”
 
We took The Bean up on its challenge and went online to explorewiththebean.com to have a chat with The now-sentient Bean ourselves. It went like this:



 

 
According to Choose Chicago, The Bean is improving its conversation skills every day and cannot wait to speak with every human who wants to explore the city.
 
“The Bean wants to relay that this is just a wonderful start to its mission.” 

#StartYourTrip


Top Image: A.Alexander courtesy of Choose Chicago

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'Revenge Travel' is the Latest Trend - And Here's How to Get Some
“Living well is the best revenge,” said a 16th-century poet, and that line may be the inspiration for one of the latest trends in travel.

Over a year of travel shutdowns has reminded us of how precious the privilege to explore the world is – and how we can’t take for granted that the special trips we’ve been dreaming about will still be ‘there’ when we sometime, somehow get around to it.

‘Revenge Travel’ isn’t about ‘getting back’ at any person – but at the pandemic that’s kept us from travel for so long. Like jilted lovers imagining scenarios of vengeance, people started dreaming of extravagant trips that would make up for the lost time.

Then instead of just plotting their ‘revenge’, they started acting on those dreams.

People are booking their Revenge Travel now, and it seems to fall into two categories:
·     Upgrading features of a trip you’re already planning to really make your return to travel in style; or
·     The dream trips that have been put off.

Not surprisingly, the top Revenge Travel trips overlap with travel bucket lists – is one of these your idea of the perfect revenge?

African Safari

The word ‘safari’ is Swahili, an overland journey through some of Africa’s most iconic landscapes, to see the continent’s most legendary wildlife in their natural settings.

Back when going on safari meant big game hunting, the ‘Big Five’ game animals were used as a benchmark of safari success. But these days, simply seeing and maybe photographing lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and Cape Buffalo – as well as cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, gorillas, chimps and other animals who fascinate travelers of every age – in their own environment in the plains, mountains and waters of Africa – is a trip of a lifetime for many.

Your travel advisor can help you plan an African safari at the right time of the year, in the right countries and parks to maximize your opportunity to experience your favorite African wildlife. And they can make sure you’re going on safari with a reputable company with knowledgeable and expert guides, that is committed to the conservation and preservation of the animals and their habitat for future travelers who dream of taking an African safari.

(InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa)

Tahiti and the South Seas

Just the mention of the ‘South Seas’ or any of its legendary islands like Tahiti, Bora Bora, or Moorea, conjures up images of the ultimate, remote, idyllic tropical escape, the most romantic trip of a lifetime.

Some choose to cruise the islands of the South Pacific and some dream of lazy days in those iconic, overwater villas that are the postcard image of travel to the South Seas. Some smart travelers do both options on the same trip: spend time cruising the legendary islands and looking onto landscapes and overwater villas from their balconies at sea… AND take time to stay on one island to luxuriate in the local lifestyle and overwater villa romance.

Your trusted travel advisor can help you choose which islands, or island-hopping agenda, or help you pair it up with a South Seas cruise in the luxury you want on a trip that’s almost as far away as anyone in North America can travel.
 

Egypt’s Pyramids

The pyramids at Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, remain one of the most mythical destinations for travelers with historic imaginations, to gaze up at these man-made wonders of the world and contemplate the civilization that created such monuments.

With the new, Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) opening in 2021, now may be the best time in years to design a trip to channel your inner ‘Indiana Jones’. Only a couple of miles from the Giza Plateau, the new museum is the largest archaeological museum in the world, home to countless artifacts of ancient Egypt, including the complete Tutankhamun collection and many pieces that there’s now room to display for the very first time. Egypt says the Grand Egyptian Museum will act as a gateway between the ancient pyramids and modern Cairo, with spectacular views of both worlds from the museum building.

In addition, major river cruise lines are returning this year to Egypt, and nothing helps a visitor to Egypt to get a sense of ancient and modern day Egypt than cruise to ancient historic sites, past Biblical landscapes, ancient ruins and communities that reveal the past and present lifestyle on the epic Nile.

Machu Picchu

The so-called “Lost City of the Incas” in Peru is another Revenge Travel destination for many travelers who have been hoping for a lifetime to walk within the 600-year old ruins at the peak of a mountain over 7000 feet high.

It’s the most-visited destination in the Andes, and the name actually means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain” and represents the height of Incan civilization. Getting there is more than half the fun, as is acclimatizing to the high altitudes. For the intrepid, there are hiking trails to Machu Picchu, but most take the train trip from Cusco, which is one of the epic train trips of the world. 

As the most-visited site in the Andes, with preservation requirements restricting how many visitors are permitted in each day, who must be accompanied by a guide, the best way to experience Machu Picchu is through a tour company that books blocks of tickets to ensure its clients gain admission, and have some of the most experienced and knowledgeable guides in their employ. Your travel advisor can help you book your Revenge Travel trip to the ancient heights of Machu Picchu with the most reputable tour companies with the best service and personal touch, who can also take care of other trip details like hotels and trains so your adventure into the Andes comes in comfort and style.

(Celebrity Cruise's Celebrity Flora)

Galapagos

This archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is the world’s ultimate marine safari. Etched into the world’s collective consciousness as the remote islands whose one-of-a-kind wildlife inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Galapagos remains today a touchstone trip for fans of scientific research or simply natural wonders.

From giant tortoises to famous blue-footed boobies, the fauna on the Galapagos Islands inspires a sense of awe in everyone who travels there.

Formerly accessible to those willing to rough it a bit on boats and from mainland Ecuador, these days, the Galapagos is also a destination for those who love the luxury, small, expedition ship experience. In the last couple of years, a number of cruise lines have even introduced purpose-built small ships for the Galapagos – complete with local design materials and flavours, and committed to the preservation of the ecosystem that is one of the world’s symbols of pristine wilderness at land and sea.

Antarctica

If you thought the Galapagos Islands were remote… the ‘White Continent’ is literally the world’s last frontier. Covered in ice sheets year round, and protected by international covenants from ecological damage, the 7th continent – and usually the last one for travel ‘collectors’ to check off their list – is the ultimate in remote exploration. Between glacial seas, dramatic mountains, and one-of-a-kind wildlife that includes famous Emperor and other types of penguins, seals, whales and other miracles of survival in this severe climate.

Like the Galapagos, Antarctic journeys are now well-served by luxury, small expedition cruises, that keep you cozy and indeed in the lap of luxury between zodiac landings onto ice floes and forays into other-worldly, icy waters. The ‘season for Antarctic cruising is during the southern hemisphere’s summer months, which is late fall and into winter and even early spring in North America.

The closest major urban center jumping off point is thrilling Buenos Aires, so you can add the tempos of tango and delicious wine tasting in Argentina to your once-in-a-lifetime journey to the bottom of the world. 
 
Do any of these meet your requirements for ‘Revenge Travel’? Or will any trip at all satisfy you? I think we can safely conclude that when it comes to travel: “revenge is a dish best served”… at cruising altitude ;-)
 
Tell us what YOUR idea of Revenge Travel is!

#RevengeTravel

#StartYourTrip

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host Best Trip TV







4 Top Reasons to Make a Vacation Rental Your Next Holiday - Plus Booking Tips
Vacation rentals were the fastest growing type of holiday accommodation even before the pandemic. With types of rental homes ranging from urban apartments to beach villas, farmhouses to ski chalets or even castles, the trend towards non-hotel stays is likely to keep growing as travel picks up again. 
 
Here are the top reasons why you might be thinking about a vacation rental soon.
 
And we share a couple of tips to help you get the best rental experience in a travel space with increasing choices of listed properties and a newly-professional approach to villa rentals. 
 

Privacy and Space… All Together

 
It used to be romance was the big motivation for privacy, but in today’s world, being secluded has health benefits, too. Physical distancing is a new priority we are looking for in our lives – and it counts doubly when we are in an all-new environment. 
 
Post-pandemic, ‘new normal’ lifestyle aligns with private accommodation’s main features of privacy, and a full house for you and the members of your travel ‘bubble’, a new twist on multi-generational travel.
Add on professional standards of cleaning and care, and it’s the perfect post-pandemic stay.
 

Comforts of Home

 
All that, and hospitality, too. One of many people’s reasons to book a private accommodation is to feel at home – even when you’re away.
 
For families, that could mean the convenience of on-site laundry. Active travelers might look for bicycles or other outdoors or fitness equipment. A hot tub or pool you don’t have to share. Even a barbecue for laid-back meals together.
 

Catering to Everyone’s Tastes and Schedules

 
Are you traveling with people with food sensitivities, allergies, or just plain picky eaters? Someone who MUST eat breakfast as soon as they get up… but others who don’t touch food til nearly noon? Just not ‘up to going out after a day of sightseeing or at the beach?
 
Restaurant dining every day can become really stressful, really fast.
 
Having a kitchen at hand during your holiday can ease a lot of food stress, allowing people to make most of their meals at their own convenience, with ingredients they know and can verify… it can even save you money to eat mostly things you prepare yourself, while splurging on a few meals ‘out’ that you are really looking forward to.
 
Plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of the incredible, local product ‘finds’ you’ll discover at the local markets.


Living Like a Local

 

It seems the more famous the city, the more removed the ‘attractions’ are from the ‘real people’ who live in the destination, whose lifestyle is what’s drawing you to the area.
 
In a private vacation rental, you’re an honorary resident, living temporarily in a residential area, not usually a commercial one.
 
That means you’ll be closer to and immersed in the ‘authentic’ shops, markets, restaurants and hang-outs where real locals live their lives.

2 Tips for Booking a Private Vacation Rental:

 
1. Make sure you're staying at professionally managed properties; your vacation is not the time to be dealing with an amateur renter or uncertain standards of health and cleanliness.
 
2. Work with your travel advisor. You may not know, but just like your travel advisor can help connect you to the perfect match of other types of vacations, they can also help you find the perfect vacation rental, perfect space for your needs, desired destination, amenities and budget.
 
Many travel agencies now offer vetted, quality vacation rentals like they do other types of travel – and you’ll know you’re getting the advice, legwork, and ongoing support of a qualified travel professional, allowing you to focus on enjoying your holiday.
 
In other words, the best part of any vacation.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host of BestTrip TV
 

Photos courtesy HVN

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Travel Companies Offering Free Vacations to Frontline Workers - and How You Can Get Involved
We’ve already reported some of the hotels and hotel chains offering complimentary hotel stays to essential workers in their own towns. The hospitality of these hotels gives frontline workers a comfortable place to stay between gruelling shifts, while keeping their families safely isolated at home during the COVID pandemic.
Now some travel companies have taken generosity and recognition a step further.
In gratitude, and awareness of the toll that work on the frontlines of the fight against the global pandemic is taking on these devoted professionals, hotel, resort, river cruise and airlines have begun offering essential workers free or discounted vacations once conditions permit travel again.
Here are some of our favorite travel companies enabling frontline workers to take holidays to recharge and reconnect with loved ones.
If you’re reading this, you likely believe in the power of travel, too, and these initiatives include ways for you to help frontline workers in your community benefit from a vacation when we are able to travel again.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts

Nominate a frontline worker for a free, all-inclusive beach getaway

Karisma Hotels & Resorts is running a ‘Holidays for Your Heroes’ initiative, providing 150 luxury, all-inclusive resort stays for essential workers and their families.
The recipients of the 150 vacations will be selected from nominations. Anyone can nominate an essential worker with a simple explanation of what makes them so deserving. Workers can also nominate themselves.
Nominations are accepted at www.karismahotels.com/holidays-for-your-heroes#nominate until June 30, 2020.
The lucky 150 nominees will be chosen in July, and will receive a complimentary 5-day stay for up to 5 family members (2 adults and 3 children).
Once travel restrictions are lifted, the recipients will receive a stay at one of Karisma’s beach properties from across its portfolio of brands for either a romantic stay or a family getaway. Options include El Dorado Royale, A Spa Resort by Karisma; Azul Beach Resort Negril, by Karisma in Jamaica; the family-friendly Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; and the newly opened Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun.

(Karisma's El Dorado Maroma, Riviera Maya, Mexico)
Stays include gourmet food and beverages, 24-hour room service and a full-service concierge in addition to a wide variety of watersports, live entertainment, spas, fitness centers, yoga, dance, cooking and mixology classes, language lessons, and supervised programs for kids and teens.
You can do more than nominate a deserving essential worker. If you’re feeling generous and want to participate more, the program also allows anyone to sponsor a vacation for a frontline worker. Karisma will allocate 100% of donated funds to providing a gift of a vacation - at cost - to a frontline worker and family.

AmaWaterways

Frontline workers sail free on a river cruise

The river cruise line has unveiled its program supporting medical, first responder and essential workers who are eligible to register for a complimentary Future Cruise Certificate. 
Once river cruise travel resumes, the certificate can be used with one paying guest in the same stateroom for any of the line’s Europe or Asia sailings through the end of 2021, for reservations made within 90 days of the sailing date.

 
In tandem with the complimentary cruise-only offer, AmaWaterways is also extending a book now option to those eager to reconnect with family and friends and reserve their 2021 journey to any AmaWaterways destination: sailing Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhône, Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro Rivers, Southeast Asia’s Mekong, Africa’s Chobe River and Egypt’s Nile River (beginning in 2021, pictured). The book now option offers hundreds of dollars in savings plus complimentary pre-paid tips.
AmaWaterways also acknowledges the role travel agents play in their communities, and recognizes that they will know personally friends, family and clients who are frontline workers. It allows travel agents to apply for Future Cruise Certificates on behalf of frontline worker clients by visiting AmaWaterways.com/Hero.
 

Hyatt Hotels and American Airlines

Friends & Family Rates and free vacations for healthcare workers

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has teamed up with American Airlines to show their appreciation for the work of thousands of healthcare professionals in the heart of the pandemic storm. Together, they’re providing all 4000 staff members of one of the hardest-hit hospitals in New York City with roundtrip American Airlines flights to Hyatt hotels for 3-night, complimentary vacations in the US and Caribbean. 
It marks the largest total flights ever provided to an organization by American Airlines, and the two companies hope to be able to extend the program further.
In addition, in response to messages from loyalty club members interested in helping, Hyatt is permitting you to donate your points to support the initiative, saying, “Your World of Hyatt points contribution will help support our commitment of providing complimentary vacations for select healthcare workers and a guest—giving them something to look forward to.”

(Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Bahamas, above and top)
And it’s welcoming healthcare workers around the world into the Hyatt family by extending the hotels’ Friends & Family rate to them through June 30, 2021. Qualified healthcare workers can access the special rate using the Special Offer Code THANKYOU and validating their professional status.

#DreamNowTravelLater

 
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Open for Optimism

That phrase seems the best way to sum up the business of travel these days. 

Most of us remain self-isolating at home for our own safety and the safety of our communities. Travel is at a standstill. As of this week, every cruise ship in the world is at anchor, and one airline has even announced it is temporarily canceling all flights between the US and Canada. 
These are historically difficult times that will shape a generation. It’s requiring us all to learn new rhythms of living, learning, staying well, staying in touch, and staying positive.  
All our extra screen time might have been expected, but other new trends were less predictable. 
Apparently, in addition to cooking at home, we are buying up yeast and flour and doing a lot more baking. Virtual cocktail parties have become a thing. We are planning windowbox and backyard gardens we never tried before. We are emptying animal shelters by giving homes to helpless creatures. We are dusting off sewing machines and sharing patterns for homemade face masks to protect ourselves and others.
From every corner, we are hearing stories of selfless heroism and tremendous dedication and social responsibility and generosity that uplifts our hearts. 
And we see light at the end of the tunnel. Some communities stricken by COVID-19 are reporting positive news for the first time in long, difficult weeks. People are beginning to plan our path forward.
In travel, so are we. We may not travel tomorrow, or next week, but we will travel again. 
IATA, the International Air Transport Association, has just released the results of a survey of travelers and found that 
  • 60% anticipate traveling again within a couple of months of restrictions being lifted, and 
  • nearly all are prepared to resume flying within half a year. 
We know some people had booked travel for this spring and are still working through the re-booking process. 
But we also know travelers who are eagerly anticipating booking brand new adventures and who are looking for ideas. 
And still others who may not yet be ready to think about actually traveling, but who still love to escape into stories of distant shores and life-changing experiences in new destinations. 
So while we are still all armchair travelers, we’ll continue to share our favorite stories and amazing opportunities to experience the world. 
We’ll continue to be open for optimism in travel.  
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV
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Why We Still Believe in Travel
While we are all practicing #StaySafeStayHome, it can be hard to stay positive or be optimistic that things we love and used to take for granted will return. 
 
We can’t wait to be able to gather again with family and friends, celebrate holidays, go to concerts and festivals and markets and games… and travel.
 
Right now, travel may seem distant on the horizon, but this is why we know travel will be part of our lives again.
 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip TV
 
Travel providers are betting on a return to travel. Rather than throwing in the towel and closing, they are working hard and investing all their available resources into keeping themselves poised to resume providing travel services to travelers when we are ready to pack our bags again.
 
But even more important than knowledge of the resilience and projections of the travel industry… is an awareness of the human spirit.
 
From our earliest times in all the world’s civilizations, people have had an instinct to explore the unknown and have new experiences. That inner flame still burns in all of us who love travel. A pandemic does not quench our longing to:
 
·     See with our own eyes a wonder of nature or human design that strikes us with awe;
 
·     Taste a dish where it originated; no matter how many times we’ve sushi or pasta or pad thai at a restaurant at home, eating a dish in its home country always gives us that ‘aha’ moment of finally knowing that this is what it was really meant to taste like;
 
·     Share a slice of untouched land or sea with its wild inhabitants and be touched by an awareness of our own place in the natural world;
 
·     Stare into the endless, mesmerizing view of a ship’s wake as we sail into new waters;
 
·     Meet people whose lives have been devoted to developing and sharing an art or craft or food product or wine or experience that enriches our senses; and
 
·     Learn firsthand the stories of personal journeys of people we meet in other places that increase our understanding of the world beyond ourselves.
 
When travel returns – and it will return – we hope these difficult days will have given us time to reflect and refocus on what’s truly important.
 
Hopefully, our biggest lesson will be to be kinder. Kinder at home, and kinder when we travel.
 
·     Kinder to ourselves and, while we must do our best, not to self-judge for things we can’t change;
 
·     Kinder to our loved ones, including making time to spend with them and celebrate our lives together;
 
·     Kinder to the people we meet, the people who show us their hospitality and welcome us into their communities;
 
·     Kinder to the planet, to wildlife, to the environment we all need to survive;
 
So our primal craving to explore can benefit the people and planet and natural world around us – not destroy it.

We're going to keep sharing stories that keep our travel imagination alive... until we can travel again.

Please...
 
Stay safe.
 
Stay at home.
 
Be kind.
 
And dream of a future with the best kind of travel.


 
 
 
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A Distiller in Wine Country Switches Production to Hand Sanitizer to Help the Community During COVID-19 Plan a trip to Ontario, Canada's Niagara region, and your list may include the iconic Falls, world-class theater at the Shaw Festival, fine dining inspired by the region’s orchards, most definitely a wine tasting, especially the ice wine that is its global viticulture claim to fame. read more
And Now For Some Good News In Travel We hope you are well and keeping yourself, your family and your community safe by staying at home. Now, more than ever, we all really need some good news. read more
March 8th is a day dedicated to uplifting women all over the world. 

The Travel Corporation (TTC), is a family of travel companies including Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Trafalgar, Contiki and others.

TTC took the opportunity of International Women’s Day to highlight its commitment to a world enriched by travel empowering women, and women empowering travel.

At a Trailblazing Women in Travel event, the companies recognized achievements of their own female team members, their foundation, TreadRight’s, Ambassadors, women partners in the travel industry, as well as spotlighting the local women’s initiatives TTC supports in the communities their tours visit across the globe.
 
The company’s TreadRight Foundation has supported more than 50 sustainable tourism projects in nearly 300 communities worldwide. Some of these projects provide economic empowerment such as the women’s weaving collectives that TTC guests visit in Peru and Italy where guests have the opportunity to purchase these handmade artisan products.

TreadRight also supports the acclaimed social enterprise ME to WE by offering ME to WE’s culturally immersive trip extensions with several TTC companies to Kenya, India, and Ecuador – tours which support women’s economic empowerment. For example, guests can learn the art of beading from local ‘mamas’ in Kenya and purchase their jewelry so that the women can earn a sustainable income.

The CEO and co-founder of ME to WE, Roxanne Joyal, works with TTC and its TreadRight foundation to unleash the positive effects of travel and personal engagement with the world around us. The social enterprise empowers people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices, including purchasing items made by indigenous women artisans, and taking ‘purposeful’ trips including those offered in conjunction by TTC’s TreadRight Foundation. 
 
TTC also highlighted the work and philosophy of its TreadRight Foundation’s “People” ambassador, Canadian indigenous dancer, activist and storyteller Sarain Fox.

Fox approaches travel and travel storytelling through the lens of the experiences of indigenous people. Initially, she struggled to reconcile her love for travel with an awareness, “that many people have shown up in other countries without permission”, with disastrous results for the lands and culture of original inhabitants.

“I like to say indigenous people are the world’s first tour guides,” Fox quipped, “We’re always saying, ‘Here, let me show you the good stuff’.”

Instead of taking her welcome for granted when she travels the world now, Fox asks for permission from local communities to be present as a way of being mindful and conscious of other peoples.

For International Women’s Day, TreadRight has released a new video with Fox encouraging us all to pledge to travel responsibly.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE with Fox describing the simple actions we can all take to contribute to responsible travel. 
 
With International Women’s Day sharing the same week as World Wildlife Day, it was the perfect time for TreadRight to introduce a new ambassador for “Wildlife” – another talented, change-maker woman in travel, Ami Vitale.


You may not recognize Vitale’s name, but you likely know her work. Ami Vitale is an award-winning National Geographic photographer and filmmaker. Her images of human conflict, Nature and the power of humanity around the world have become era-defining. Vitale’s path to wildlife advocacy can be traced in her photography, and one story in particular stands out. She was the photographer who captured the story of the world’s last white rhinos in Africa, eventually sharing in images the heartbreaking story of the death of the very last one, surrounded by mourning gamekeepers.

The Travel Corporation works with other trailblazing women in travel including Patricia Schultz, the author of New York Times best sellers beginning with “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”, who is also Trafalgar’s Global Brand Ambassador, successful travel vlogger and honorary Contiki Ambassador Nadine Sykora, as well as female leadership in the company’s founding family, in all its companies and partner organizations in local destinations where TTC operates.
 
(Left to right at TTC's International Women's Day Trailblazing Women in Travel event: Sarain Fox, Ami Vitale, Patricia Schultz, Nadine Sykora, Roxanne Joyal)

The company recognized and celebrated all these women in travel’s shared belief in the power of people coming together to improve the world, in supporting women through travel and women in travel, “When you prop up women in places you visit, it sustains the community and provides a future for them… and for the guests to return to have that community experience,” says one TTC woman executive.
 
And they don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk through their work that approaches the same goal from different angles.

New Tours that Empower Women

TTC’s International Womens’ Day celebrations included the announcement that Insight Vacations is launching its first women-only journeys to India designed and run by women. The new itineraries include immersive learning opportunities, wellness experiences and authentic dining while featuring the power of tourism on women’s economic empowerment in local communities. 
 
International Women’s Day comes once a year, but our travel choices can support women and their communities all year round.

 

Start your Trip!


Video courtesy of the TreadRight Foundation. Images courtesy of The Travel Corporation.
 
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2019's Top Travel Stories
Following this year’s developments in Travel has really kept us moving! Hopefully, you’ve created some of your own new travel memories this year too.
 
These are some of the most tremendous changes that have taken place in the past 12 months that will affect travelers for years to come.
 

What’s Opened

 
It was over two years ago that severe hurricanes swept through some of our favorite Caribbean travel destinations. The hard-hitting storms destroyed buildings and roads, and electricity and water infrastructure, uprooting people’s lives and livelihoods, and sadly even taking lives. Local communities are still recovering.
 
Countless hotels and resorts suffered damage and were forced to close. For communities whose economies rely on tourism, it’s been a very tough time indeed.
 
In the last year, we’ve seen a surge of re-openings. And happily, in some special cases, there’s even been a silver lining, with hotel and resort companies taking the opportunity of hurricane damage to re-imagine resorts in spectacular new style. 
 
More landmark openings include 2 new cruise line private islands in the Caribbean region in 2019, too, with Royal Caribbean’s ‘Perfect Day at Coco Cay’ and MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay Marine Reserve joining the beach resorts where cruise lines extend their signature shipboard experiences to a tropical resort setting.

Plus Singapore's Jewel Changi Airport (pictured, top), with a 7-storey 'Rain Vortex' through an oculus that features in water, sound and light shows, acres of gardens and interactive areas like Forest Valley and Canopy Park, redefining airports globally as lifestyle hubs for locals and visitors as much as transportation stations.
 

What’s Closed

 
Some blame goes to overcrowding, some to Tourists Behaving Badly. A number of iconic travel destinations closed their proverbial doors to visitors this year, or significantly changed how travelers will now be allowed to experience some of the world’s most treasured sites. You’ve likely heard about cities like Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Venice and Barcelona enacting new restrictions. But more remote places like Machu Pichu are feeling the pressure too, and governments are responding to protect historic and natural sites and wildlife.
 
High profile examples in 2019 were Australia’s Uluru and Indonesia’s Komodo Island.
 
You can still watch sunrise or sunset at Australia’s breathtaking red stone monolith, Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock). But as of this past October, no more climbers are allowed to make the steep trek to the flat top. Uluru is sacred ground to the country’s aboriginal peoples. They have been asking for years for visitors to stop walking upon it… but hikers kept coming, some even stealing pieces of rock and posting disrespectful selfies. A ban on hiking the rock has now taken effect. Now, visitors can see and hike Uluru’s park at ground level, and have the opportunity to participate in aboriginal spiritual experiences.  

 
Indonesia’s Komodo island is home to the world’s largest, most pre-historic-looking and eerily meat-eating lizard, the Komodo ‘dragon’. It’s the only place in the world to see them in their natural environment, but theft of dozens of live animals for sale on the black market has jeopardized the stability of their population – and wrecked it for everyone else. Indonesia’s government has banned visits for the foreseeable future.
 
Other closures include the Chinese side of Mount Everest’s Base Camp, due to literally tons of garbage left at the sensitive site, and Maya Bay in Thailand’s Phi Phi islands, made famous by the movie The Beach, that attracted a tidal wave of visitors who have nearly destroyed its delicate marine ecosystem.
 
Expect to see more restrictions as local communities balance sharing their treasures with visitors, and preserving them for generations to come. 
 
A big dose of humble, respectful, and responsible behavior from travelers is needed to continue to have access to the wonders we hope to experience in person.
 

What’s New

 
When it comes to cruising, the hits just keep on coming. As recently as November, another mega-ship, the Norwegian Encore, has joined the fleets sailing all the seven seas. It’s just the latest in a string of jaw-dropping new ships in 2019
 
Two of those new ships may be cruising game changers. 
 
AmaWaterways’ new AmaMagna has upended the river cruise ship format. Its ‘double wide’ design allows for an unprecedented amount of space and amenities unheard of previously in river cruising.
 
Scenic’s Eclipse is not only the first ocean-going vessel for the luxury travel company that made its name in land tours, followed by a fleet of sleek, ultra-luxury river cruise ships with its signature, sophisticated black and gold styling. It was designed to join the small but growing club of luxury expedition cruise ships, coming equipped with 2 helicopters and a submarine to explore all the ocean regions of the earth.
 
A host of new hotels arrived on the global travel scene in 2019 too. Perhaps none made more of an impression than the standout – literally – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida shaped like an actual guitar!


 

What’s Old

 
Can you believe commercial flight has already been here for a century? The 20th century advanced flight at nearly light speed, from the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903, to the inconceivable feat of putting the first man on the moon only decades later in 1969.
 
In 2019, the world was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Landing as well as the 100th anniversaries of the world’s first commercial airlines, KLM and British Airways. And watching closely as a number of companies attempt to make commercial space travel viable.
 
2019 was also the year cities in Latin America started commemorating half a millennia of European settlement. Cities like Havana, Cuba, Panama City, and Veracruz, Mexico marked their 500th anniversaries with bittersweet celebrations that marked not just historic and proud achievements, but also the losses suffered through European colonialism. That balanced perspective will no doubt continue as more and more cities mark this milestone throughout the Americas.

 

What Trends Shaped Travel in 2019

 
You’re going to be hearing more about Multi-Gen (grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and kids) and ‘Skip-Gen’ (grandparents + grandkids) travel. Families traveling together is nothing new. But as distances between generations grow, and more people recognize the value of experiences over things, more generations will commit their precious time and budgets to coming together to experience the world. And travel companies will design more innovative tours, resorts, ships and experiences to cater to everyone in the family.
 
Cruising continues its meteoric rise as the fastest-growing travel style. But one style of cruising especially is taking off. Expedition cruises, to polar and remote regions of the world, and especially luxury expedition cruising, is capturing the travel imaginations of a growing audience of port collectors, adventurous cruisers, and luxury travelers who have already ‘been there’. 
 
Taking care of people and the planet has never been more important, and the travel industry got the message in a much bigger way in 2019, with many travel operators and cruise lines announcing they’re taking small steps like banning single-use plastics, as well as bigger steps like advanced, eco-friendly technologies, as well as socially responsible and locally-sensitive operations that reduce travel’s footprint on the planet and benefit local communities.
 
And taking care of yourself. Active and wellness travel offerings expanded in 2019 as travelers continue to commit to a more healthy lifestyle, show interest in enjoying destinations actively, not just passively from a tour bus, and look to enhance their mental, physical and spiritual well-being while being inspired by the culture and landscapes of the world’s most alluring places.
 
Wishing you a new year of joy in travel!
 
Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip
 
 

Start your Trip!


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Happy Holidays

Wishing you and your loved ones the best of the season. We hope 2018 brings you happiness and new travel memories.

And local fireweed and spruce tips for truly local spirits and craft cocktails.

BestTrip.TV was in port in Skagway, Alaska on our Regent Seven Seas cruise and naturally, we checked out the famous local saloon recommended by Regent's shore expert.  We are always on the hunt for 'local', and there on the bar menu:  cocktails made using local, small-batch gin and vodka. Intrigued, we asked the bartender, who drew us a map on a napkin (those are always the best maps) to find the distillery.

And off we went on a walk through town to find Skagway Spirits. We found them next to Skagway's local airport in a re-imagined hangar, distilling gin and vodka and hand-crafting local ingredient-based juices and cordials to mix with them in their fun tasting room.

The last time we turned down a crafted cocktail using local ingredients and local, hand-crafted spirits made from the first water off the local glacier was... never!  Our little adventure to find the entrepreneurial Heger family and their wonderful airport hangar distillery was one of our best memories of our trip to Alaska. 

The best news?  You don't need a happy accident to discover Skagway Spirits on your next trip to Alaska.  Now you know exactly where to find Gary, Jan and Luke Heger and their delicious spirits and cocktails.

Start your Trip!

 

 

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Bangkok, right?

Wrong.  We've traveled to the Thai capital city many times, but this was the first time BestTrip.TV discovered the full, real name of Bangkok is... well, see for yourself. It's a mouthful! 

The proper name is also a very beautiful description of one of South-East Asia's most popular and colorful cities that every year makes the list as one of the top 5 travel destinations in the world.

Start your Trip!

 

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5 Reasons to Travel to the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is still one of the most exotic and unknown locations on the planet.  This federation of absolute monarchies on the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula was established in 1971. Since then, it's made its mark on the world, first as one of the top ten oil producers, then with the lavish lifestyle of all that oil money, and more recently, as an increasingly popular travel and cruise destination.

Here are 5 things you might not know about the UAE:

1. There are 7 emirates in the United Arab Emirates.

They are: Abu Dhabi (which also serves as the capital) Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al Quwain.  The largest emirate, Abu Dhabi, is nearly 90% of the UAE's land mass – over 67,000 km squared (26,000 sq. miles).  (Abu Dhabi Skyline photo, top. Credit.)  It and splashy Dubai are the best known. The smallest emirate – Ajman – would fit into Abu Dhabi 25 times.  Saudi Arabia surrounds the UAE to the west, south, and south-east, with Oman on the south-east and northeast, and the remaining border is a 650 km (400 mile) coast along the Persian Gulf.  The emirates' largest natural harbour and cruise port is at Dubai.

Photo Credit

About 10 million people live in the UAE.  Only 1/10th of those are Emirati citizens and the rest are expatriates; laborers and domestic workers from mostly 3rd world countries, and some business expats from the West. 

2. It has the tallest skyscraper in the world.

Even in a region known for surreal cities of glass and steel sprouting out of the desert that surrounds them, the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower) stands alone.  Inspired by traditional regional architecture, this mega-tall skyscraper tops out at 829.8 meters (that's 2722 feet).  Imagine this: it's so high above the earth that, standing on higher floors of the tower, you can still see the sun for a couple of minutes AFTER it has set at ground level.

Photo Credit

The Burj Khalifa has blown away dozens of world records, including tallest structure, tallest structure ever built, building with the most floors, highest elevator, highest outdoor observation deck, highest nightclub, and highest restaurant.  It's the centerpiece of a massive mixed use development that includes an artificial lake and parkland fed by water from the vast air conditioning units of the tower. You simply will not get a more spectacular view over Dubai than from the tower.

3. And the world's largest artificial island.

You've probably seen photos of this.  The Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago of reclaimed land on the Persian Gulf coast of Dubai, part of a development to increase Dubai's shoreline by 520 km (320 miles).  In a complete break from any previous land reclamation project ever undertaken, the development's encircled palm tree design not only takes your breath away, it also maximizes beachfront.  Privately-owned villas, hotels and resort areas occupy the palm fronds and circle. 

Photo Credit

Hotels, resorts and hotel residences in this spectacular setting include: The Fairmont Palm Hotel & Resort, St. Regis Hotel – The Palm, Kempinski Hotel & Residences, Sofitel Dubai, The Palm Resort & Spa, The Langham, Palm Jumeirah, Waldorf Astoria, Dubai Palm Jumeirah, W Hotel, Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai, and dozens of independent properties.  There is no other hotel / resort destination in the world like the Palm Jumeirah.

4. And the largest man-made marina.

The man-made Dubai Marina is built along a 3 km (2 mile) stretch of shoreline on the Persian Gulf.  This artificial canal city is said to be inspired by Concord Pacific Place along False Creek in Vancouver. When complete, it will overtake the current world's largest man-made Marina del Rey in California and be home to over a hundred thousand people in its residential towers.

Photo Credit

Dubai Marina is a completely new waterfront.  Engineers brought the waters of the Gulf into the site of the man-made marina.  A large central waterway runs the 3 km length of the site; marine wildlife, including whales, are known to travel inland from the open sea into the marina. The waterways of the marina are complemented by 8 km of landscaped public space.  12% of the land surface of the Dubai Marina is devoted to public space. You may not think of a desert country as a place to go to the beach, but places like Dubai Marina do give you the opportunity to swim in the local waters. (Carefully check and follow designated areas to avoid breaking strict public dress codes).

5. But the Emirates aren't just ultra-modern cities.

There is still Nature in the Emirates.  Outside the futuristic, man-made environments of the UAE's cities, are vast deserts with rolling sand dunes, oases that provide water for settlements, and grow date palms, acacia and eucalyptus trees. The desert itself is not barren; grasses and thorn bushes continue to support wildlife. 

Photo Credit

Conservation programs initiated or supported by the Emirates' royal leaders are helping ensure the survival of wildlife species near extinction from hunting, including the Arabian Onyx, Arabian camel and even wild leopards.

Police Car in Abu Dhabi.  Photo Credit

The United Arab Emirates is one of the most astonishing, contradictory, ultra-traditional and futuristic, spectacular travel destinations in the world. 

Start your Trip!

 

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Romance Thrives in the Dominican Republic

One of the Caribbean's most popular island destinations is more than sandy beaches, clear aqua waters, family all-inclusives and tropical forest backdrops. Couples will find the perfect way to celebrate a milestone engagement, wedding or vow renewal, honeymoon, or a private getaway to rekindle the romance.Celebrate

For couples looking to get married or renew their vows in Dominican Republic, Punta Cana’s all-inclusive hotels and resorts make wedding planning a breeze, with packages to fit any budget. On-site wedding planners take care of all the details, from menus to centerpieces, so you can relax and soak in every moment of your big day.

Recharge in a Spa

A spa visit to Punta Cana and Bávaro’s all-inclusive luxury resorts and spa facilities is an ideal way to decompress with your loved one. The East Coast’s world-class destinations boast some of the best spas in the Caribbean and specialize in some of today’s most popular and on-trend spa services. Outside or indoors, individually or as a couple, for an hour or an entire day, spa professionals customize treatments to relax or energize you and help you reset your relationship.

Work on your Swing

Nothing like a friendly challenge to spark some romance. On the southeast coast of Dominican Republic, La Romana is a golfer’s dream, featuring breathtaking courses including the Pete Dye-designed Teeth of the Dog course—one of the Caribbean’s best, and one of the top 100 courses worldwide. Golfing couples will fall in love all over again on the breathtaking greens of Casa de Campo’s three designer, seaside courses.

Experience Colonial Charm

Casa de Campo's Altos de Chavón is a must-see, cliff-side old-world village – that is also the perfect backdrop for romantic photos you'll cherish forever.
The Dominican Republic's capital city of Santo Domingo is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean – that also evokes old-world grace and style. The Colonial city (below) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a walkable grid of romantic cobblestone streets, iron street lamps, open terrace restaurants where you can drink in the atmosphere over wine and a Dominican cigar, and visit the oldest cathedral in the Americas, dating back to the 15th century.
Photo Credit

Take an Adventure for Two

Are watersports your style? Sosúa and Cabarete are world-famous for windsurfing and kiteboarding—perfect for adrenaline-seeking couples eager to conquer the waves.
Samaná on the northeast coast is an eco-paradise known for magnificent beauty and quiet, unspoiled beaches. Plan a honeymoon or getaway between January and March to have the chance to spot humpback whales mating and breeding in Dominican Republic’s protected waters.
Travel by boat to Los Haitises National Park (pictured below), to enjoy its magnificent series of limestone caves and excursions through the exotic vegetation to spot wildlife.
Cool down in the emerald mountain heights of Jarabacoa or Constanza, the 'Switzerland of the Caribbean'. Four large national parks offer panoramic views, river rafting, mountain biking, canyoning, paragliding, rappelling and mountain trail horse riding for active couples who love the outdoors.
Nearby Pico Duarte is the highest peak in the Caribbean, and worth the grueling hike to the top for couples to get a magnificent view and a sense of achievement that will bring you even closer together.

Start your Trip!

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App-Happy Kids at Heathrow with New Travel-Themed Mr. Men Characters

Remember the delightful Mr. Men and Little Miss book series for kids? They have two new friends: Little Miss Explorer and Mr. Adventure. And they live in the digital world of Augmented Reality at London's Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 ready to be discovered on your mobile device.

The beloved, essential British children's book series has 90+ characters, a TV show, and a book sold every couple of seconds worldwide. For some reason, I was given the Little Miss Naughty book as a child (I can't imagine why!). More recently, a friend who's also in media gave me a 'Little Miss-Communication' - pun intended - T-shirt. Now I'm eager to discover my inner Little Miss Explorer.

More than 45 years after their creation, the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters have vaulted into the digital age, teaming up with Heathrow airport's 'experience' department to bring smiles and fun times waiting for flights to kids and kids at heart.

Mr. Adventure and Little Miss Explorer are the heroes of a new AR app called Around the World with Mr. Adventure that you can use on any iOS or Android device with a camera. As you (erm.. your kids) explore the airport, you discover hidden digital badges, then the app plays a 3D animated video. You (again, uh, your kids) can take a pic with the digital Mr. Adventure or Little Miss Explorer character or another character from the series.

When you find all 5 digital badges hidden around the terminal, you can trade them in for the real thing; iron-on fabric badges are available from information desks. Wouldn't that be just the best souvenir from the airport for any kid?

Through early September, 2017, costumed Little Miss Explorer and Mr. Adventure will also be roaming the airport, meeting and helping the kids (most likely helping the grown-ups. The kids have got this). The airport also has kids’ activities and workshops planned for the busy summer travel season, along with continuing to offer perks like free play areas and Kids Eat Free menus.

The Around the World With Mr. Adventure app is available as a free download on the App Store and Google Play.

Not traveling through Heathrow this summer? Don't worry, you (again, I really mean: your kids!) can still join in. Print out your own interactive bookmark at home and scan it using the app to see Mr. Adventure in 3D. For more information and to get ready to discover the Around the World with Mr. Adventure app, visit Heathrow.com/aroundtheworld

You can also buy an IRL (that's 'In Real Life' as the kids would say) Mr. Men book: Mr. Adventure to add to your kids' library and travel pack.

A delightful app to enjoy sharing the world of discovery with a new generation of travelers. Also have some nostalgic fun yourself. This beats a lot of other ways to kill time at an airport.

By Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip.TV

Start your Trip!

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Canada's Top Travel Treasures

You don't always have to go somewhere exotic and far away for the best outdoor travel experiences.

Here is our curated collection of Canada's National Parks and Historic Sites - plus nearby experiences - that might help inspire you to include the 'true North, strong and free' in your travel plans this year:


L'Anse aux Meadows - Newfoundland & Labrador

In a clever line on the Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism web site, 'even the Vikings came here to get away'.

If you thought Columbus was the first European to reach the Americas, think again. L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland contains archeological evidence of a Viking settlement dating back to around the year 1000 – hundreds of years before Columbus and his first 1492 expedition.

Sod and wood buildings were found, with artifacts that showed the residents involved in smithing iron, knitting, weaving, and carpentry for boat building or repair. It's believed dozens of Viking men and women resided here, but harsh conditions made it unsustainable and the site was abandoned.

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While you're in Newfoundland, don't miss…Cape Spear. The rocky cliffs jutting over the North Atlantic waters make Cape Spear feel like the edge of the world – and it nearly is. This is the eastern-most point of North America. Standing on Cape Spear, you are closer to London, England than you are to Vancouver on the other side of the continent!

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Old Town Lunenburg - Nova Scotia

From the harbor, the almost cartoon-bright painted houses look like an artist's interpretation of an historic town. But it's real. The town is both National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's considered the best surviving British colonial town on the continent, with its 18th century planned, gridiron streets, unique shops, restaurants in preserved buildings leading away from the harbor that was the focal point of rich a fishing and shipbuilding economy.

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You can still see majestic and romantic tall ships moored on the town's waterfront, and hear the stories. Especially about the fabled Bluenose. This is the homeport of the Bluenose II, the replica of the original local fishing boat that was undefeated in 18 years as a racing schooner.

While you're in Nova Scotia, don't miss: The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. It's a week-long event held every summer in Halifax celebrating Nova Scotia's Scottish and military traditions. It began to mark the visit of the Queen Mother to Nova Scotia for the first International Gathering of the Clans with bagpipes, highland dancers and military traditions. Hundreds of Canadian and international military and civilian performers makes it the world's largest annual indoor show; granted Royal status by the Queen.

Bay of Fundy National Park - New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

The Bay of Fundy is the site of a record-breaking marine phenomenon, part of the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve, and a Dark-Sky Reserve. The tides in the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world – as high as a 5-storey building! Local Mi'kmaq folklore attributed the dramatic tides to a giant whale splashing; it's actually a result of the bay's particular shape. The twice-daily tides see a flow of 115 billion tonnes of water flowing in and out of the bay.

You'll also want to experience local dinosaur fossil finds exposed by the extreme tides, hiking, sea kayaking, tidal rafting, and whale watching, including the rare right whale.

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While you're in New Brunswick, don't miss…Confederation Bridge, part of the Trans Canada highway, connecting mainland New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island since 1997. You'll be driving 13 km across the largest bridge in the world that crosses ice- covered waters.

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Prince Edward Island National Park and Green Gables

Canada's smallest province has one of its most beloved sites. 60 km (37 miles) of Prince Edward Island's signature red rock and sand shoreline. Seven swimming beaches, hiking and cycling trails, and camping grounds join protected white sand dunes, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, and nesting areas for endangered coastal wildlife.

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While you're there, don't miss... Green Gables, the house that was the childhood inspiration for the internationally beloved Anne of Green Gables stories by local author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

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Quebec City - Quebec

Many people say walking through Old Quebec is like a visit to Europe without the jet lag. The only walled city in North America and the oldest city north of Mexico, the historic district of Quebec City, dating from 1608, is a National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, first city in North America to receive designation.

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Although the magnificent hotel Chateau Frontenac dominates the skyline, perched in Upper Town's 100 meter high cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence, it is a mere hundred or so years old compared with Upper and Lower Towns' 17th century walls, fortifications, Citadel, winding cobbled streets with shops, restaurants, Plains of Abraham.

While you're in Quebec City, don't miss… The Winter Carnival, one of the biggest in the world, and all the more dramatic in snow covered historic streets. There are masquerade balls in the grand ballroom of the Chateau Frontenac, an Ice Palace, snow sculpture parks, a bikini snow bath, day and night parades led by 'Bonhomme' de Neige ('snowman') the ambassador and mascot of the festivities with his red cap and early voyageur knit belt. And plenty of French joie de vivre.

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Rideau Canal - Ontario

This feat of incredible engineering in the early 1800's began with military intent, but nowadays has become a top recreational boating destination. Following the war of 1812 with the United States, British military engineers came up with plans to forge a vital water route for over 200 km (126 miles) from Kingston on Lake Ontario north to Ottawa. Workers labored to carve the waterway through dense wilderness and solid rock of the Canadian Shield. They also built 45 locks to take vessels up and down elevations in the terrain along the way through rivers, lakes and man-made canal.

The Rideau Canal is a glorious boat trip through pastoral plains, cottage communities and remote, sheer rock cliffs all the way to downtown Ottawa and past Canada's majestic Parliament Buildings.

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Don't miss… Boating the length of the canal in the summer months, taking a canoe tour of the Ottawa portion of the canal, or skating on it in the winter. In downtown Ottawa, in the shadow of historic hotel Chateau Laurier and Canada's Parliament buildings, 8 km of the canal becomes the world's longest skating rink every winter.

Wapusk National Park - Manitoba

It's over a 2 hour flight or two days by train from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba, the gateway to Wapusk. For anyone who makes the trip in mid winter, it's worth it to reach one of the last places in the world to see tiny polar bear cubs getting their start in the world.

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Wapusk means 'White Bear', and this part of Canada is known the world over as the polar bear capital. Nearly three million acres of the park are the seasonal home of a thousand polar bears returning from summer roaming through the tundra back to new Arctic ice, joined by moose, wolves, foxes, and herd of thousands of caribou. Polar bears are gorgeous but dangerous; access to the park is only through licensed operators of guided trips to this famous refuge.

While you're in Manitoba, don't miss…Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opening in 2014 to national and international attention, the museum is architecturally compelling, with geometry and colors based on images of the Canadian landscape. It's also intellectually challenging, highlighting personal stories and stimulating debate about how to define its subject matter.

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Wood Buffalo National Park - Alberta and Northwest Territories

The largest of Canada's National Park straddles both Alberta and the Northwest Territories for nearly 45,000 acres – it's bigger than Switzerland! It needs to be that large – it provides enough territory in its muskeg and tundra for the long term preservation of the world's largest herd of free roaming Bison.

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The park is also a UNESCO world heritage site and the world's largest Dark-Sky Preserve. And in spite of its remote location, the park can be reached and visited by car.

Banff National Park – Alberta

Canada's first National Park dates back to 1885, and scenes of the turquoise waters of Lake Louise surrounded by a distinctly Canadian alpine landscape have been famously depicted on postcards sent around the world ever since. Snow topped mountains, glaciers and icefields, the western resort town of Banff, endless all-season outdoor activities and the hot springs that started in all keep visitors coming back to this park in the Rocky Mountains year round. The breathtaking Icefields Parkway connects Lake Louise to Jasper National Park further north.

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While you're in Banff, don't miss… a cocktail at the Banff Springs Hotel in the lounge with picture windows over Lake Louise. The view really does make a perfect custom cocktail taste even better!

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site - British Columbia

Spearheaded by the Haida Nation to stop logging on their historic lands, Gwaii Haanas now protects an archipelago of 138 (formerly Queen Charlotte) islands off the coast of British Columbia. It totals 5000 square km of land and sea – one of the only places in the world protected from the depths of the ocean in deep fjords to rugged mountain tops. 90% of the land is forest, with mountains draining into dozens of freshwater lakes and salmon-spawning streams. The seas are a 'primary feeding habitat' of humpback whales; Gwaii Haanas is remote and only accessible by boat, sea kayak, or floatplane.

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While you're in British Columbia, don't miss… Victoria Harbour, one of the most picturesque harbors in the country. Originally used by First Nations, the harbor now bustles with recreational vessels and small cruise ships, mooring in the center of this scenic heritage city famous for its continuing British tone. Historic buildings frame the lively waterfront and line the walkable streets. The harbor is the epicenter of thriving eco-tourism and whale watching tour activities.

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Start your Trip!

A New Year of Travel Trends

Happy New Year! 2017 is ramping up to be an exciting year of travel. So we thought we'd share stories about the hottest travel trends that are going to impact where - and how - you travel in the coming months and even years. What do we see in our crystal ball/ champagne glass?

Whether you're planning family, 'bleisure' (business/leisure), solo, romantic or couple travels, gal or pal getaways, from the uber luxurious to the economical, 2017 travel will be all about:

  • Wellness and Adventure: Getting outdoors and being active, returning more healthy than when you left, doing something other than pounding pavement or cobblestones every day... visitors have more and more new, healthy and adventurous (not necessarily dangerous!) ways to experience destinations.
  • Cuba: Travel to Cuba has changed forever now that relations with the US are normalizing. If you haven't already been, there are even more ways to explore one of the world's last restricted travel areas.
  • New Cruise Ships: Ocean or river, luxury or expedition, new cruise ships, with itineraries, designs, amenities, activities and celebrity entertainment or culinary partnerships that battle to outdo each other just keep on coming! What WILL they do next on a ship? We'll keep you abreast of all the latest developments. If you're one of the last few people who still thinks cruising is about 'blue hair and buffets', you should take a look at the latest generation of cruise ships... and passengers. There really is a cruise out there for every traveler.
  • Celebrations: Canada commemorates its 150th birthday in 2017, and it's also riding a wave at the top of nearly every 'best place to travel' list. Did you know as many Americans travel to Canada every year as go to all of Europe? And with the dollar and other considerations, it's never been a better year for vacationing close to home. So throughout 2017, we're going to share some of our favorite stories about Canada to inspire your travels.
  • Local and authentic: Local food, local artisans... everyone is looking for authentic, local production, creation, and consumption. There's a global awareness that we're all looking to be more connected with each other and the items we consume. Products with provenance and people with passion and rejuvenated cities and neighbourhoods. There's more and more of it out there to discover.
  • Connecting: Staying connected with those at home, and connecting with the people, Nature, and wildlife where you're traveling.
  • Customization: It's never been easier to work with a travel expert to craft a trip of your dreams. In the past, it may have been harder to tweak a trip to get exactly what you want, but a new age of crafting travel itineraries is upon us, at every price point. If you're just saying 'yes' and dropping down your credit card, you're missing out.

We want to inspire your travel imagination in 2017... and then make those dreams come true!

So we're also introducing BestTrip.TV - an 'online travel TV station' with inspiring videos you can watch right here on our web site (click on BestTrip.TV on our home page). We'll be sharing BestTrip.TV videos throughout the year.

Safe and memorable travels in 2017!

Welcome Winter!

 

The Winter Solstice this year takes place on Wednesday, December 21st.  The first official day of the winter season, it marks the shortest period of daylight – and longest period of darkness – on the calendar.

No wonder cultures and religions around the world created winter solstice festivals that celebrate light.   

For many of us these days, the question is: celebrate winter… or escape it? 

So we devote this newsletter to some of the most unforgettable travel experiences we could find for you to create warm memories in cold weather... or bask in sun and warmth. 

However – and wherever - you spend the holidays, we wish you and yours a bright and joyful holiday season.

Happy Travels and Happy Holidays!

Photo: BestTrip.TV in the Kawarthas, Canada

How On Trend are your Travel Plans?

The results of a recent study have revealed the luxury fantasy destinations and travel bucket list experiences of 2016. Are your travel dreams on the list?

If you're hoping or planning to go 'Down Under' this year, you've tapped into the latest travel trends. Australia tops the list of destinations for the upscale traveler, followed by another perennial favorite Italy, romantic Fiji, and historic Greece. Australia's next door neighbor New Zealand rounds out the top five.

1. Australia

2. Italy

3. Fiji

4. Greece

5. New Zealand

6. Maldives

7. Ireland

8. South Africa

9. French Polynesia

10. Antarctica

As for styles of travel, affluent travelers still crave a beach vacation, but adventure comes in at second place, confirming increased interest in active travel experiences.

Most popular types of travel:

1. Beach

2. Adventure

3. Cultural/historical

4. Family

5. Food and wine

6. Ocean cruising

7. City

8. Experiential

9. River cruising

10. Romantic

11. Spa/wellness

12. Weekend getaways

13. Eco, sustainable travel

14. Golf

Family travel is in the top 5 styles of luxury travel in 2016, but the bucket list experience survey takes the concept even further. On that list, the multi-generation family trip that rallies grandparents, parents, teens and tots and even the singleton aunts and uncles is number one. Busy schedules and long distances are increasingly making a big group getaway extended families' top choices to see the world and reconnect at the same time.

What are the other Trips of a Lifetime on travelers' bucket lists this year?

  1. Vacation with multiple generations of your family – There are more and more options making multi-generational travel easier: bigger suites and more villas to accommodate large groups.
  2. Stay in a Polynesian overwater bungalow – It might be the most romantic travel fantasy out there: idyllic lagoons, coral reefs, and overwater bungalows perched above it all.
  3. Italy's Amalfi Coast – An exhilarating way to explore Amalfi's iconic cliff-hugging coastline is by car, the ultimate road trip that can be sandwiched between nearby Capri and perhaps an Italian city destination.
  4. The Greek Isles – Yachting between them evokes the ultimate luxury holiday, and that way you don't have to choose between the party scene on Mykonos, the romance of Santorini, or the archaeological sites on the mainland.
  5. An African safari – Plan your safari for the best destination and time of year to photograph them all: elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, leopards and rhinos.
  6. The Northern Lights – Late August through March, the aurora borealis are the big attraction in the northern latitudes near the Arctic Circle and North Pole.

  1. The Galápagos Islands There's nowhere else in the world where you can interact with such fearless - and famous wildlife! The Galapagos giant tortoise, sea turtles, the blue footed boobies...
  2. A world cruise – It might be the ultimate luxury - time! - to take to the high seas for a few months, checking exotic global destinations off your lifetime travel list.
  3. One Trip, All Continents – An ambitious quest that takes outstanding planning.
  4. Highlights of Australia – Travelers can forget what an enormous place Australia is, and may only visit Sydney and the Gold Coast. But we recommend going even further afield to two islands: Tasmania for its stunning scenery and the purest air in the world, and Kangaroo Island for - you guessed it! - the wildlife.

We think they all sound pretty inspiring! And likely at least one of the trips on these lists matches your own travel dreams.

Start your Trip!

Go ahead stay in a castle on your next travel adventure

​Have you ever thought about living in a castle while on vacation? 

In countries such as Germany, Ireland, France, Italy and Scotland, you can often stay in a castle for far less than a hotel.  

•    Castle Hotel Auf Schönberg  This castle is surrounded by a beautiful view of the Rhine River along with vineyards and trails for hiking and is perfect for touring the wine country. The castle was inherited by all the sons in the family instead of just the eldest; it accommodated up to 250 people from 24 families during the 14th century.  

•    Castle Hotel Liebenstein This castle is the highest castle in the Rhine River Valley. Is is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Rhine Valley. Liebenstein is furnished in medieval style with decorations that rival those of the luxury Hotel Wernberg. Rumor has it that the castle hotel was built for the younger of the two brothers whose feud over a woman split the family line forever. From the hotel, it is only a short walk down to the river pier where Rhine cruises depart daily. 

•    Castle Sababurg This castle is surrounded by the oldest zoological garden in Europe (Tierpark Sababurg) and an ancient forest with oak trees that are over 650 years old (Urwald Sababurg). It is also the setting for the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. Each of the hotel’s rooms is named after an animal, a nod to the castle’s history.  Performances and parties are held both in the castle’s vaulted cellar and in the castle ruins. 

•    Burghotel Schloss Staufenberg This castle is located near Giessen, Marburg, and Wetzlar. It has replaced room numbers with the names of important historical persons.  You can stay in Count Gazmar’s Suite or Countess Sophie’s Apartments.  During World War II Staufenberg was occupied by Allied troops and used as a refugee camp.   

•    Castle Hotel Colmberg Set in Bavaria, the thousand-year-old Castle Colmberg is a destination on both the Romantic Road and the Castle Road. This hotel has it all: ancient stone towers, fortified walls, overgrown royal stables, and a deer reserve. Ask for one of the historic rooms that have four-poster beds, centuries-old paintings, antique furniture, and wooden ceilings.

Ready set jet!!! Contact us today for more information.