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Travel

The world's most breathtaking ports

The world’s most breathtaking ports: The ultimate list of places with wonderful waterfronts, from America to Australia via Italy and Norway

  • This series of scintillating snaps will take you on a maritime journey around the globe  
  • Some of the ports are framed by soaring skyscrapers, others by rolling snow-covered mountains
  • Dubrovnik, Portloe in Cornwall, Marina Corricella in Italy, Monte Carlo, Stockholm and Rio all feature

Water wonderful world of waterfronts.

There’s something undeniably romantic and enchanting about a beautiful harbour, as these spell-binding images show.

This series of scintillating snaps will take you on a maritime journey around the globe, from where seaplanes land in Vancouver to breathtaking harbours in Italy, Sweden and Norway.

Of course, South America and Australia feature too. 

As does an extremely cute cove in Cornwall. 

Scroll down – you’ll almost be able to smell the sea air…

The Old Town harbour in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is part of a 15th-century fortification and once served as a hub for the city’s trading fleet. Today, there is a larger port elsewhere in the city, but cruise ships still pass the old port on the way in. The most striking feature of the harbour is the fort of St John, built in 1346 to protect the city against pirates and other enemy ships

Sea-ing is believing: The fairy-tale harbour at Portloe – one of Cornwall’s prettiest villages

The impossibly romantic rainbow-esque port of Marina Corricella on the island of Procida in the Gulf of Naples

Behold the 203ft-tall Rock of Monaco, which sits between Port de Fontvieille (pictured) and Port Hercule in Monte Carlo 

The jaw-dropping coastline around Rio de Janeiro, with Sugarloaf Mountain guarding the mouth of Guanabara Bay and the 124ft Art Deco Christ the Redeemer statue gazing out from the top of Corcovado mountain 

Sailing into Venice – which, in its entirety, is a Unesco heritage site – is one of the most memorable maritime experiences it’s possible to have

Bergen is framed by seven hills and harbours not only a beautiful harbour, but cute clapperboard houses and top-drawer museums, too

Geneva harbour and Lake Geneva are a sight to behold. The fountain pictured, Jet d’Eau, shoots water up to a height of 140 metres (460ft)

Labuan Bajo, a fishing town on the west coast of Flores island in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia, has a most enchanting harbour and is a launch point for trips to nearby Komodo Island and Rinca Island, where Komodo dragons dwell









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English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard beyond on the paradise island of Antigua and Barbuda

Yes we Canada: Vancouver Harbour is an all-time great – we recommend arriving by seaplane

The 305ft-tall (if you include the pedestal) Statue of Liberty looks out towards the immense New York skyline. This is truly harbour royalty

A breathtaking aerial view of the port town of Svolvaer in Norway’s Lofoten archipelago

No, it’s not CGI, this is a photograph of a real place – Kotor on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast

No picture-list of great harbours would be complete without this scene. One of the best ways of taking in the stunning Sydney waterfront area is to hop on a ferry that goes past the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge 

A mesmerising panoramic aerial view of Aberdeen Harbour and Ap Lei Chau Bridge in Hong Kong

The Marina di Porto Rotondo on the Italian island of Sardinia is, by all accounts, bellissimo 

The Grand Harbour, aka the Port of Valletta, in Malta. Visitmalta.com rightly proclaims it to be one of the most spectacular ports in the world. It’s been ‘a hive of activity for 2,000 years’, it adds

The harbour in Nice – actual name Port Lympia – is a great spot for superyacht spotting and for gazing at beautiful 18th-century buildings

A spellbinding view across Stockholm’s beautiful Old Town and waterfront area

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Travel

Magical new photographs of the wild horses on America's east coast

Magical new photographs of the wild horses that live on a bewitching island off the east coast of America

  • Cumberland Island was the setting for John F. Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette’s wedding in 1996
  • It’s home to a 150-strong herd of wild horses, which roams free across beaches and dunes 
  • The spirited animals have been photographed over 12 years by French photographer Anouk Krantz 

Cumberland Island is one of America’s most bewitching locations – home to the only unmanaged wild herd of horses on the east coast.

The spirited animals have been photographed over 12 years by French photographer Anouk Krantz, captured in enchanting images as they continue to roam across this remote, largely deserted landscape off the Atlantic coast of Georgia.

The pictures first appeared in book Wild Horses of Cumberland Island in 2017 – and the publisher, Images Publishing, has now released a second edition. It contains new equally mesmerising images – some of which are showcased here. They capture some of the 150-strong herd of horses amid their serene sanctuary’s white-sand beaches, immense rolling dunes and old-growth maritime forests.

It’s a truly magical place – with a fascinating, at times bloody, history. It’s thought that horses originally would have arrived with Spanish settlers in the 17th century. There were plantations and Civil War battles there in the 19th century, with the Carnegies buying most of it in the 1880s.

They sold it to the National Park Service in 1972. But a descendant of original owner Thomas Carnegie, Oliver ‘Mitty’ Ferguson, runs the island’s hotel, The Greyfield Inn, which hosted the wedding reception of John F. Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette in 1996. They married in the island’s minuscule First African Baptist Church.

Scroll down to see some of the beautiful new images by Anouk.

The wild horses of Cumberland Island have been photographed over 12 years by French photographer Anouk Krantz

The pictures first appeared in book Wild Horses of Cumberland Island in 2017 – and the publisher, Images Publishing, has now released a second edition

Cumberland Island was the setting for John F. Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette’s wedding in 1996

Cumberland Island, off the Atlantic coast of Georgia, is a truly magical place – with a fascinating, at times bloody, history

It’s thought that horses originally would have arrived on Cumberland Island with Spanish settlers in the 17th century

John F. Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette married in the island’s minuscule First African Baptist Church

The island is a serene sanctuary for the horses, with its white-sand beaches, immense rolling dunes and old-growth maritime forests

The super-rich Carnegies bought most of the island in the 1880s. They sold it to the National Park Service in 1972

A descendant of original owner Thomas Carnegie, Oliver ‘Mitty’ Ferguson, runs the island’s hotel, The Greyfield Inn. He has written the foreword to the second edition of Wild Horses of Cumberland Island

Ferguson writes in the foreword: ‘Cumberland Island is a rarity on the United States’ East Coast in that it moves to a slower speed. It’s a secret you want to share that focuses on life’s basics and is a powerful reminder that “less is more”‘


Ferguson says: ‘We have hosted Anouk at our home next to Greyfield for years, and I always admired how she would set off at dawn so she could explore and capture the island and its wild horses, returning muddy, sandy and tired at dusk’

Cumberland Island, the book says, will now forever be a preserved wilderness, an isolated sanctuary within a world erupting into a modern landscape

Krantz’s work has appeared in prominent galleries and earned accolades from the International Photography Awards and International Monochrome Awards

The island measures 17 and a half miles in length and is three miles wide – roughly the size of Manhattan

Wild Horses of Cumberland Island, Second Edition, by Images Publishing, is out now (RRP £60)

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Travel

How to explore the world from the comfort of your home

The Armchair Traveller reveals how to explore the world from home: See the sights of Europe on Kirsten Dunst’s grand tour and recreate a luxury spa experience

  • Kirsten Dunst tours Europe in movie thriller The Two Faces Of January
  • MarBella Collection hotels in Greece has launched online beauty tutorials 
  • Head to VisitFinland.com for glorious photos and inspiration for a future trip

From travelogues to films and even webcams, Neil Simpson reveals how you can still explore the world from your own home during the lockdown.

Seeing the sights of Europe was a far more glamorous affair in the early 1960s, so take a step back into that golden age in the sun-drenched movie thriller The Two Faces Of January. A couple of wealthy American tourists, played by Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst, drift from one glorious setting to another, including the Acropolis in Athens, clifftop ruins in Crete, and the minarets and markets of Istanbul.

The 2014 film is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, so there’s darkness amid the sun. But like the adaptation of her better-known The Talented Mr Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, the real stars here are the scenery and the sparkling sea.

Golden age: Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst tour Europe in The Two Faces Of January

For a travelogue with a much lighter touch, turn to a very different American author: Bill Bryson. His classic book Notes From A Big Country from the 1990s (first published as columns in The Mail on Sunday) still paints a perfect picture of his homeland.

His description of cheap American motels, where he says that it feels perfectly normal to be woken at 3am by a female voice screaming ‘Honey, put down the gun and give me the baby’, is a joy. It’s now available as a paperback, e-book or audiobook.

Keep smiling as you explore the stunning landscapes and wide- open spaces of Finland online. The country’s tourist board sprinkles plenty of humour amid the glorious photographs that are on display at visitfinland.com.

The ‘Find The Finn In You’ section generates your Finnish name (I’m now Sampo Sammalkorpi) and tells you what the words mean. Scroll on to read all about Santa Claus, saunas and the ‘six steps to be happy like a Finn’ before researching the perfect igloo, ice-hotel, treehouse or cottage for a future trip.

A desert island might feel like the ideal place to ride out the storm of lockdown – and the BBC Sounds app offers The Food Programme: Stranded! How To Eat On A Desert Island.

Research the perfect igloo, ice-hotel, treehouse or cottage to stay in for a future trip to Finland at VisitFinland.com 

It reveals that we needn’t go hungry while we’re there. From seaweed (‘nature’s original multi-vitamin’) to sea kale, the show explains ‘the restaurant is always open on the beach’.

Apparently, there are just three ingredients are needed to recreate the spa experience of a five-star hotel at home. The group of MarBella Collection hotels in Greece has put together a series of simple (if potentially rather messy) face-mask recipes using some honey, bananas and orange juice. Find the recipes, alongside many other Mediterranean-inspired activities, by searching #Athomewithmarbella online.

If those beauty treatments have got you ready for a Zoom close-up with friends, you need to dress the part to stay in the holiday mood. Click on the fashion section of travel gift shop airportag.com for ideas. It’s an American site but products can be priced in pounds and sent to the UK. Favourite slogans on T-shirts include Do I Look Like I Fly Economy? and Jet Lag Made Me Do It. Alternatively, pick a shirt that says what most travel-fans are thinking this spring: I’d Rather Be Flying.

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Transport

More Help on the Way for US Airlines

U.S. airlines, shell-shocked by the global effects of the coronavirus that has cut travel demand by 90 percent, received some good news on Saturday.

The U.S. Treasury Department has released $9.5 billion in additional monies earmarked for the grants associated with the Payroll Support Program as part of the CARES Act stimulus program signed into law in March.

The package called for $25 billion in grants for payroll assistance and $25 billion in loans for the airlines.

So far, according to Reuters News Service, the government has distributed monies to 10 major domestic airlines and 83 smaller carriers.

Airlines receiving more than $100 million from the grant portion of the stimulus must repay 30 percent in low-interest loans over 10 years and issue warrants to the government equal to 10 percent of the loan amount.

All airlines had to guarantee they would not cut pay or furlough employees until at least Sept. 30 as one of the conditions of the grant money.

Reuters noted that the four largest domestic airlines – American, Delta, Southwest and United – are receiving $19.2 billion of the $25 billion in grants, with payments spread out through July.

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Destinations

Great Plains holds the line on 2021 prices

Great Plains Conservation will freeze its 2020 rates for all safaris in 2021, and there will be no price increases for 2021.

Rates for 2021 will also be fully inclusive. Whereas before rates included all meals, wildlife viewing activities and all beverages, rates for 2021 will include air transfers, as well. For all safaris beginning Jan. 11, all air transfers to and from Great Plains Conservation camps will be included in the nightly rates.

For reservations, email [email protected].

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Destinations

MTA Invites the World to ‘Dream Malta Now… Visit Later’

WHY IT RATES: The MTA’S new campaign welcomes future tourists in multiple languages through online videos and posts. – Mackenzie Cullen, Editorial Associate

‘Dream Malta Now… Visit Later’ is the name of a promotional campaign that the Malta Tourism Authority launched today with the aim of reminding potential visitors about the beauty that awaits them in Malta once it becomes possible for people to start traveling again.

Using a 60-second video clip produced in fourteen different languages, the campaign will be conducted primarily online and will be accompanied by a series of social media posts promoting the same message.

Commenting on this campaign, Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection, Julia Farrugia Portelli, stated: “When faced with a challenging scenario like the one we are experiencing at the moment, a common reaction is that of halting all marketing and retreating completely from the scene. However, this was not the philosophy adopted by the Malta Tourism Authority and the Government of Malta. On the contrary, we devised a campaign, oriented towards different areas of interest, through which we aim to provide prospective visitors with a taste of the Maltese Islands and entice them to visit at a later date.”

Carlo Micallef, Deputy CEO and Chief Marketing Officer at the Malta Tourism Authority, stated that in spite of the fact that international tourism is at a standstill, the work of MTA’s marketing team went on unabated. “At the moment, we are conducting various inspirational campaigns in a number of countries with the aim of keeping Malta, Gozo and Comino top of mind for those who will one day become future visitors to our islands.”

Johann Buttigieg, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Tourism Authority, explained how in addition to marketing, MTA is also busy with projects aimed at improving the infrastructure as well as the levels of service provided through a program of training for staff involved in the tourism sector.

“One has to keep in mind that, as soon as the COVID-19 crisis is over, competition among tourism destinations will be fiercer than ever. So, it is imperative that we are among the front runners when this occurs and that, together with our industry stakeholders, we can provide the best possible product to attract visitors to Malta as we were doing before the pandemic started.”

For more information, visit https://www.visitmalta.com/en/home.

SOURCE: Malta Tourism Authority press release.

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Travel

Virtually explore the world with these photo tours



a view of a snow covered mountain: Lake Louise in Canada

Picture-perfect view on Canada’s Lake Louise

For the moment, armchair travel may be the only way to satisfy our wanderlust, allowing us to dream – and plan – future vacation experiences. Here are some highlights of  personal “wow” moments during our travels that will live on in our memories, thanks to the photos we captured along the way.

This view on Canada’s magnificent Lake Louise, part of a picturesque train excursion through the Canadian Rockies, is a perfect example of a cherished travel memory kept alive through photos.

a view of a rocky mountain: El Capitan at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite’s eternal splendor

There’s certainly much truth in the adage that reminds us that beauty lies in our own backyard. It took us many years to finally pay a December visit to Yosemite National Park, an easy day’s drive from our home.  

The moment we drove through the Wawona Tunnel to enter the park, our hearts stood still as this scene of El Capitan, in all its winter glory, came into view. 

a castle lit up at night: Quebec City by night

Discover Old World Europe close to home

When travel finally gets the green light, you may initially opt to venture out to destinations a bit closer to home. Just across the Canadian border in Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only walled city in North America north of Mexico, you’ll discover a wealth of Old World history and romance.

a body of water with a mountain in the background: Splendor in Hawaii

The magical beauty of the Hawaiian Islands

Another “close to home” destination you’ll want to dream about, and plan to visit, are the Hawaiian Islands. As much as you may be tempted to put away your camera and just relax when you visit our 50th state, its incomparable natural beauty and the ever-changing lighting will definitely inspire you to capture the moment.

And you’ll be glad you did, as you will have these photos to remind you of one of the most beautiful places on earth.

a turtle on a branch: A Galápagos tortoise

Seeing eye-to-eye with a Galápagos tortoise

The Galápagos Islands rate high on many must-see lists, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Imagine trekking down a muddy path and coming face-to-face with a massive Galápagos tortoise looking up at you with curiosity.

You’ll never forget the many creatures – from docile sea lions, blue-footed boobies and iguanas to a variety of bird species – that pose for the camera as you walk down the guided paths.

a young child eating a cake: Sakura time in Japan

Blossom time in Japan

This was our first trip to Japan, and how lucky we were to have arrived at the peak of sakura, cherry blossom season. In the ancient city of Nagoya, a stroll through the castle park will take you past a surreal profusion of cherry blossoms at every bend in the path.

Families come out to picnic under the trees and immerse themselves in this floral wonderland. At any time of the year, Japan is a country that offers the traveler a truly eclectic cultural experience.

a canyon with a mountain in the background: View of Zabriskie Point at Death Valley

Dawn over Death Valley

For many who have the opportunity, off-season travel is a perfect option for a number of reasons. These include reduced travel expenses, fewer crowds and ever-changing weather conditions, which make for stunning photos when the atmosphere is right. 

Death Valley National Park is the perfect off-season travel destination, as evidenced by this magnificent view of sunrise over Zabriskie Point on a crystal-clear December morning.

a canyon with a mountain in the background: Cable car ride from Schilthorn summit

A cable car ride like no other

With its amazing natural beauty, hip and historic cities, and quaint towns and villages, it’s no wonder Switzerland remains a beloved visitor destination for guests from around the world.

Saying you’ll be awed by the mountain scenery is an understatement. The cable car ride down from Switzerland’s famous Schilthorn summit to the stop at Bira, where you’ll pass turquoise glacier lakes and snow-covered peaks, is almost surreal in its beauty.

a castle on top of a lush green hillside: History awaits along the Rhine

Go back in time on the Rhine

There’s no better way to go back in time to explore medieval Europe, in an intimate and luxurious setting, than on a Rhine river cruise. Unpack once and relax on your balcony or go up on the deck and literally watch history drift by you.

Daily shore excursions, either by foot, bike or bus, take you to the most beautiful regions and historic attractions along this ancient river.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Explore ancient Greek attractions

The aura of Ancient Greece

Greece will forever remain one of the world’s most beloved travel destinations because of the country’s vast scope of attractions, from its archipelago of picturesque islands and beaches stretching out over more than 4,500 miles of coastline, to charming towns and cosmopolitan cities. Not to mention the wealth of ancient history that pervades the entire country.

A favorite among small to medium cruise ships, Greece is a popular destination both for island hopping as well as for a sail down the Adriatic sea.    

a large purple flower is standing in front of a mountain: Super bloom from years past

Flower power in the California desert

It doesn’t happen often, only when conditions are right, but when the Southern California deserts burst into bloom in spring, it’s a glorious site to behold. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located 80 miles east of San Diego, California, is a perfect place to experience the super bloom when this phenomenon occurs. 

a body of water with a city in the background: View of Hvar, Croatia

Croatia’s enchanting island of Hvar

Instead of always trying to “see it all” during your travels, consider spending a few leisurely days in one beautiful place, such as the island of Hvar, Croatia, for example.

Stroll through the picturesque town, visit medieval castles, bike through the countryside, wine-taste in the local vineyards, relax on beautiful beaches, savor incredible local cuisine and shop for exquisite handmade jewelry. Turn back the clock for a few days for a memory you’ll keep with you always.

a canyon with a mountain in the background: See the Grand Canyon by rail

Discover the Grand Canyon on a vintage train

Grand Canyon National Park is considered one of the wonders of the world, attracting some six million visitors annually from all parts of the globe. For a one-of-a-kind adventure, consider a unique and relaxing ride to the spectacular South Rim via a vintage train.

a monkey sitting on a branch: Traverse deep into the jungles of Costa Rica

Monkeying around in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has come into its own as an excellent destination for eco-tourism, as the country is committed to preserving its natural habitat while promoting sustainable tourism. Consider a small-ship adventure cruise for an opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly personal adventure far from the crowds.

Come face-to-face with a Capuchin monkey at the Curú National Wildlife Refuge and bond with nature, and your family, as you visit remote islands off the Costa Rica and Panama coasts.

a group of people walking in front of a brick building with Alamo Mission in San Antonio in the background: The Alamo in San Antonio

Remember the Alamo

For those of you who have never visited San Antonio, Texas, you may just want to add this destination to your travel wish list. The famous River Walk, a hip and culturally vibrant downtown, the 18th Century Missions National Historical Park, first-class shopping and dining, and many other attractions will have you wonder why you haven’t visited one of America’s most historic places years ago.

The Alamo, the hallowed monument that commemorates the battle fought for Texas independence in 1836, is positioned in the heart of the city.

a sunset over a body of water: The midnight sun as seen from a cruise ship

Into the midnight sun

Sometimes scenarios like the present bring life into perspective and emphasize the fact that it is experiences, and not “things,” that make a lasting impression on our mind and souls. On a personal note, one of my most inspirational photos was taken from the balcony of my cabin on board an ocean cruise ship as it slowly sailed up the Norwegian coast. 

I stood for hours watching the midnight sun paint the sky in vibrant hues of pink and gold until it burst forth in a golden ball announcing the dawn of a new day. Let’s hope for a new day very soon, and may travel remain one of our most precious adventures in life.

10Best is a part of the USA TODAY Network, providing an authentically local point of view on destinations around the world, in addition to travel and lifestyle advice.

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Holiday

10 of the best wellness retreats (for when this is all over) – A Luxury Travel Blog

With modern life (and our current lockdown predicament) leaving us more likely to be sat in a chair surrounded by screens, rather than getting active surrounded by nature, it’s no surprise that more and more travellers are choosing to get away on a luxury wellness retreat.

Whether it’s a digital or culinary detox, immersing yourself into nature or super-charging your fitness routine, a wellness retreat can help you achieve your mental and physical health goals while taking you to some of the most beautiful locations on earth.

If you feel like you deserve an escape from the trappings of modern life and to recentre your body and mind after the doom and gloom of coronavirus, here are the top wellness retreats for 2020, all unique in their approaches to revitalizing your body and mind, but sharing the goal of sending you home completely relaxed and refreshed.

BodyHoliday

Considered the world’s first destination spa, BodyHoliday delivers on their tantalizing promise: “give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind.” Complimentary 50-minute spa treatments are included, along with delicious healthy food and drink, and thrilling activities to quench your thirst for adventure including PADI certified diving courses and world-class dive sites.

The BodyScience Clinic team use modern biochemical techniques to create a tailor-made programme of activities including meditation, yoga, diet plans and exercise routines, that are designed to help you awaken your body and mind.

Gocheganas in Namibia

Located on a stunning 6,000-hectare nature reserve, this unique lodge offers a dramatic combination of wellness, wildlife and nature. Immerse yourself in the serenity of the landscape and watch distant herds grazing as you enjoy mind and body-conscious activities in the dedicated wellness village.

Boasting an indoor heated pool, cave sauna, gym facilities and a programme of massages and treatments, your relaxation is ensured. Even more than that, you can get to know the beautiful Namibian landscape on fascinating and exciting game drives, mountain biking expeditions and bush walks.

SHA Wellness Clinic

Discover holistic wellness on a majestic Spanish mountainside overlooking the endless Mediterranean. The renowned SHA method incorporates a fusion of natural traditional therapies, nutritious dining, and the latest advances in preventive medicines and anti-ageing.

This is the cutting edge of wellness and it beckons to all travellers looking for personal improvement. Choose from a variety of different health programmes, each designed to promote a different aspect of wellbeing.

Whether you would like to detoxify your body, revolutionise your nutrition, improve your fitness or relieve stress by finding a tranquil escape, SHA Wellness has everything you need to reach optimum mental and physical wellbeing.

Sanctuary at Bay of Islands

The Sanctuary at Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand allows guests to focus entirely on wellness and savouring the natural beauty of the stunning location, so yoga, outdoor massage and admiring the views are all part of the experience.

As there are only four luxury suites available at the lodge you are guaranteed peace and personal service in equal measure. Guests here can enjoy yoga out in the rolling hills, massages on the deck of their accommodation, peaceful boat trips spotting majestic Dolphins and Orca or maybe even wine tasting tours along the Northland Wine Trail.

Chiva Som International Health Resort

What could be more relaxing than looking out over the breathtaking Gulf of Thailand from a serene private beachfront?

Well, how about delicious, health-conscious wellness cuisine served three times a day? Then, fuelled up on delightful meals, you will curate a personalised wellness plan consisting of treatments and activities specifically aimed at achieving your unique health and wellbeing goals.

Every wellness need is catered for at this resort, with an incredible choice of spa, fitness, holistic health, physiotherapy and aesthetic beauty facilities and treatments available to indulge in.

Ayurvedic immersion at Landaa Giraavaru

If hearing the sound of waves breaking upon sugary sands is your idea of a relaxing paradise, then this resort is for you. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this resort effortlessly blends world-class luxury with a heartfelt connection to the breathtaking lagoons and stunning beaches that surround it.

With tremendous facilities, watersports and a three-acre Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat offering ayurvedic treatments, calming chakra blessings and even anti-gravity yoga, this is the perfect place to unwind. Or, if you’re motivated by the notion of tuning up your fitness regime you could sign up to the expert-led boot camp.

Bushmans Kloof Wellness Retreat

This incredible natural retreat is nestled away in the idyllic foothills of the Cederberg Mountains and offers a carefully crafted wilderness experience with a distinctive wellness twist. Located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the surroundings are magnificent.

Guests can become one with the tranquil landscape on nature drives, hiking trails, mountain biking, fishing, canoeing, and swimming in shimmering rock pools.

Whilst the surroundings themselves feel like a form of therapy, The Spa harnesses traditional healing energies and has been awarded the accolade of Best Spa in Africa & Indian Ocean at the Global Spa & Wellness Awards.

Marry Oneself Journey at Rosewood Mayakoba

Surrounded by the lush mangroves, calm lagoons and white sand beaches of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Rosewood Mayakoba completes the quintessential notion of escaping to paradise.

For a perfect voyage into self-discovery designed to improve your connection to your inner self and the wider world around you, this resort offers the one-of-a-kind Marry Oneself Journey.

This course encourages you to challenge your negative lifestyle patterns and habits and aims to bestow you with a deeper sense of self-love and acceptance. Over four days, a Shaman will guide you through a series of one-on-one experiences inspired by ancient wisdom and an appreciation for the surrounding nature.

Spa Complex at Six Senses Kaplankaya

This spa exists at the cutting edge of wellness facilities with state-of-the-art hammams, a dedicated massage parlour and both an indoor pool and a hydrotherapy pool.

All of this comes alongside an eager team of experts in meditation, nutrition and fitness who are on hand to ensure you achieve every one of your wellness goals. Using smart technology to measure your health, movement and sleep patterns allows staff to personalise your treatments and tailor their advice to your specific needs.

More than just its glittering spa complex, excursions and activities here are designed to immerse you in the surrounding nature and culture including watersports and local day trips.

Grantley Hall, UK

Much closer to home than it’s international counterparts, Grantley Hall proves that you don’t need to leave the UK for a world-class wellness retreat.

Set across two floors you will find a spacious wellness area with traditional gym equipment and futuristic innovations including a 3D body scanner, an underwater treadmill, an altitude training room and an EMS suit that makes your workout more effective by sending electric pulses through your body.

You will also find the Three Graces spa, named for Zeus’ daughters, and as you’re lounging in the hydrotherapy pool bathed in soft ambient lighting and surrounded by tall stone columns and Grecian sculptures, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a mythological paradise.

Sarah Roberts is Director of Inspiring Travel Company. The Inspiring Travel Company, established in 1974, offers exceptional tailor-made luxury holidays and experiences to some of the most elegant and desirable destinations across the globe.

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Travel

Love of Travel in the Time of Coronavirus: Why I Kept Going


“Don’t you ever stay home?”

an orange sunset: Happy traveler waiting for the flight in airport

I get the same question from my mother whenever I tell her I’m traveling that weekend (which is often). She herself is by no means a shut-in, having cruised the Nile on a barge and hiked ancient footpaths in the Andes, but the sheer frequency of my travel is what unnerves her.

Some travelers are exhausted by travel, and need time in between trips to recover, while others are energized by it. Me? I’m an introvert and like my “alone” time, but when it comes to travel my appetite has few boundaries.

So in the midst of (quite legitimate) concerns about coronavirus, I took a weekend trip to Puerto Vallarta. I spent some time rationalizing: there aren’t many cases in Mexico; the flights and airports aren’t very full; I love fresh Pacific seafood.

Some of my assumptions panned out. The flights weren’t very full, and the atmosphere felt similar to what it did in the fall and winter of 2001: everyone polite and patient in spite of their obviously frayed nerves.

After getting through the rationalization, the next question is one of self-actualization: why? Why do I keep traveling, even when it’s clearly much safer and less stressful to stay home?

RELATED: You can virtually tour these 20 landmarks without leaving your couch

a large building: Most travel plans are on hold for a while during the coronavirus pandemic. To pass the time after working from home with the kids or for a fun digital happy hour with friends, take a vacation without ever leaving your couch. Numerous world-class destinations and man-made marvels offer virtual tours that you can take online while you are social distancing. The other benefit? It’s free.

I wouldn’t argue the “safe” bit, but less stressful? After a couple of posts about my journey, I stopped scrolling through Facebook to find endless jokes about toilet paper and admonishments to supply hoarders. There are opportunities for stress wherever you are—even when you’re sipping Pacifico in the sand—and I wasn’t about to let them creep in.

Sometimes I feel like my urge to keep traveling has a documentary quality. There’s something romantic about the correspondents who rushed into the fires to chronicle them, like Ernest Hemingway commandeering a military Jeep to be the first American civilian into Paris in 1944 to “liberate” the bar at The Ritz Hotel. In Mexico, among tourists from the north, it’s as though everyone is taking pains not to discuss the elephant in the room, and that’s the snapshot I’m after.

For me, the desire to see the world isn’t one of postcard idealism. I want to see what the world looks like when it’s not perfect, too. There was a strange beauty in how we traveled just after 9/11. The additional security checks were frustrating, but travelers saw their value. The uncertainty among travel industry workers about their futures put their more authentic humanity on full display; travelers saw that and responded with understanding.

It’s also interesting how humans have the capacity to think of whatever hurdles stand up during their present as extraordinary. Suddenly COVID-19 facemasks are different from SARS facemasks. Post-9/11 security checks were different from Gulf War security checks. A generation from now, travelers of this period will bear witness when the next generation looks upon their struggle as unprecedented. 

The word “Quarantine” itself dates back to the middle ages when the city-state of Ragusa (modern-day Dubrovnik) imposed a forty-day (Italian: quaranta giorni = forty days) waiting period on arriving ships to ensure their occupants didn’t carry the plague. What strikes me is that even during the Black Death, which wiped out roughly a third of Europe’s population, there were still ships arriving to quarantine.

Even in those days, when there was little relief for an ailment of any kind (contemporary prescriptions overwhelmingly did more harm than good) and everything from a sore leg to a sniffle was potentially fatal, there was still a basic understanding that isolation could put a stop to a pandemic. Even then, they traveled on.

Every generation has its intrepid travelers, and as with most adventures, everyone has their endurance limits. Several of my friends were also traveling at the same time. One returned early from Europe, awakening to news of new travel restrictions to the U.S. One had an abbreviated trip to New Zealand after the country announced entry restrictions and airlines began to cancel flights.

I myself am also about ready to pack it in for a while. The calculus has shifted. Concerns of catching and subsequently transmitting the virus have morphed into acceptance of the eventuality that free movement will be curtailed as borders close in efforts to contain the threat.

I’ve seen the warts-and-all realities I was curious about, and it’s time to retire to the couch (yes, Mom, I do stay home sometimes) with a stack of treasured books and films about travel. Instead of the rush I get at the ink of a customs stamp hitting my passport I’ll be transfixed as Bergman is coaxed onto the silver Air France propliner in Casablanca, or Streep, anxious that her crystal and china aren’t broken on the train across Kenya.

And when the next crisis hits, I’ll probably travel right up until the gates swing shut then, too.

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How to explore the world from the comfort of your own home

The Armchair Traveller: Be dazzled by Italy and delve into Paris’s secret maze of tunnels – how to explore the world from the comfort of your home

  • The Secret Catacombs Of Paris podcast explores the city’s underground tunnels 
  • Remind yourself of famous sights with the World Landmarks 1000-piece puzzle 
  • Film fans can fall in love with the Italian island of Pantelleria in A Bigger Splash

The first guidebook from Rough Guides was published about 40 years ago (it covered Greece) but the company has long since had a brilliant website too. Click on it to read, in reverse order, the result of its 2020 readers’ poll into The 20 Most Beautiful Countries In The World.

Fabulous photographs accompany each entry, with Nepal at No 20, followed by Spain, Chile and Argentina. With its fascinating mix of the ancient and modern, Japan makes it into the top ten, and your travel bucket list will get longer as you scroll to the No 1 spot occupied, naturally, by Italy.

As a major tourist destination, France also makes it into the Rough Guides poll but if you think you know its capital, think again. The Secret Catacombs Of Paris podcast on the BBC Sounds app springs surprises from the start, revealing that the City of Light has a dark side: it’s built on more than 175 miles of tunnels, most of which are supposed to be off-limits.

The Secret Catacombs Of Paris podcast explores the French city’s tunnels. Pictured is a section of the mostly abandoned belt railway known as La Petite Ceinture

Host Jonathan Glancey speaks to a secretive band of Parisians who search for hidden entrances in train stations, cellars and sewers, and to police officers who patrol the tunnels beneath sensitive sites such as banks and prisons. Along the way Glancey reveals how the network was created and why it’s full of old bones.

Paris, of course, is home to some of the world’s greatest landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower. And if travel lovers want to remind themselves of various gems around the globe, they could order the 1,000-piece World Landmarks puzzle from Ravensburger.

Online retailers expect to sell a year’s-worth of jigsaws in a month as simple pleasures come back to the fore. This one includes nearly 100 cleverly hidden sights, including Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids of Egypt, Rio’s epic Christ the Redeemer and Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid.

Meanwhile, maps of the world jump off the page amid scarcely believable stories of political incompetence in Prisoners Of Geography: Our World Explained In 12 Simple Maps, by Tim Marshall.

He races across the globe, bringing whole regions to life and showing why so many national borders have proved to be disastrous mistakes. It’s lightly told, with chapters headings such as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Korea?

And if you are home-schooling or compiling a family quiz, the book is a great way to catch up on geography and 20th Century history.

Film fans can fall in love with the Italian island of Pantelleria, pictured, in A Bigger Splash

If audiobooks are more your thing actress Julie Harris brings a very well-travelled Englishwoman to life as she reads West With The Night. It’s the memoir of Beryl Markham, who in 1936 became the first person to fly solo, non-stop, across the Atlantic from east to west. A genuine modesty pervades Beryl’s story as she roams the globe in the early days of air travel.

Film fans can fall in love with the sun-kissed but little-known Italian island of Pantelleria in A Bigger Splash, starring Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes.

In real life, the tiny volcanic island is where celebrities including Madonna, Sting and Giorgio Armani go on holiday.

This drama is an adult affair, with the stars behaving badly around the villa’s pool, but the scenes of slow-dancing in warm piazzas, alfresco meals by the water and a stunning, candle-lit restaurant in the hills are the stuff of holiday dreams.

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