A Report from Virtuoso Travel Week in Vegas
So Vegas was…Vegas. I’d never been before, and, honestly, the sights and scenes were a lot—lots of people, lots of smells, lots of sounds, lights, acreage. I came home and wanted to shed everything extra that I owned. I spent the following week recovering, resting, and, when I could, decluttering my bathroom, clothes, makeup, and more.
Maybe next time, I can go and live like Adele in a zen Japanese-inspired rooftop villa! That makes Vegas feel more palatable. 😉
That said, I learned about many exciting and unforgettable travel adventures I can’t wait to send you on. Here are just 14. (I started with 6, then 10, then 12, and had to stop at 14!)
Without further adieu, I present the following ideas for your next holiday ::
1 || Dip into Thalasso pools in Tuscany
The Ranch at Palazzo Fiuggi is a renowned medical wellness retreat set in the hills of Tuscany, 50 miles from Rome. So is wellness in Italy – the land of pasta and wine – an oxymoron? I think not!
It’s like an adult camp. The number of guests is limited to only 25 and each day includes a four-hour morning mountain hike, and then nap time (nap time! It’s like pre-school!), afternoon strength and core training classes, yoga, and daily massages. The program features hikes that aren’t like the typical American treks – a distance race. But instead, the goal is simply to be out in nature in various settings, such as forested canopies, open meadows, valleys, streams, hilltop hamlets, medieval villages, and ancient monasteries. A highlight of the experience is Fiuggi’s world-class spa or Roman Thermae, which includes the use of hydrotherapy and Thalasso pools featuring the ancient healing waters of the area. What’s not to love??
2 || Learn How to Sleep Again in Spain
I have had my eye on SHA Wellness for years, and meeting with the rep from SHA was easily one of the highlights of my time in Vegas. Located right on the Mediterranean and in the middle of the Sierra Helada Natural Park, SHA Spain is in one of Europe’s most privileged locations. The resort is the ultimate in wellness luxury with a very zen decor, stunning gardens, and a chic Mediterranean style. With programs that run 7, 14, and even 21 days, guests can experience a true retreat to address stress, insomnia, toxicity, and weight. With pre-arrival and post-departure support, they are indeed leaders in wellness. They’ve truly built a sanctuary for aligning the body, soul, and spirit. Over the next few years, they will expand to Mexico in late 2023 and the United Arab Emirates in late 2024. I want to retreat and detox from Vegas there, stat!
3 || Behind the Scenes In The UK
Whether you want to visit the crown jewelers Garrard, do a backstage tour of The Royal Ballet, learn from a specialty guide in the Reading Room of the British Museum, or get special access to the Chelsea Flower Show, Dream Escapes can make it happen. We discussed the rise of tours motivated by TV series fans such as Downton Abbey, Bridgerton, Outlander, and more. They offer a collection of private houses, halls, lodges, and castles, so you can reserve one and enjoy your very own house party with experienced staff and concierge service. They’ve also designed various special interest tours that they tailor for anglophiles. Their 7-day Literary Lakes & Dales caught my eye!
4 || Stay in Kipling’s Suite
The distinguished English from Brown’s Hotel totally charmed me (partly by telling me a hilarious dirty joke!) He had Kipling’s novel The Jungle Book on his table and informed me that Kipling wrote the story in the hotel. I loved the history and the literary background. Brown’s Hotel opened its doors in 1837 as one of London’s first hotels; it soon became a hive of pioneering activity, attracting royalty, dignitaries, and local luminaries. Many believe the hotel inspired Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel. And their Kipling Suite is just stunning. The hotel sits right on Bond Street. Yes, that Bond Street.
5 || Float in a Transparent Kayak
I met with the rep from Silversands, a stunning resort in Grenada. I loved the zen, modern design. You can go kayaking in the Caribbean Sea in these excellent transparent kayaks and also a way to get an aerial view of yourself in it! So it’s a destination for the sun, with all the fun of the sea and sky. But also fine cuisine and a pretty neat spa too. But it was the transparent kayaks that got me!
6 || Snorkle in Arctic Waters
Yep, you heard me. All you have to know is how to swim. I met Edwin, who is one of Aurora Expeditions’ dive masters. And he’ll help you scuba dive and snorkel in Antarctica. You can even swim with penguins. Bet “swim with penguins” wasn’t even on your bucket list. An expedition company, first and foremost, they happen to conduct cruises – with small numbers, all sustainable and scientific. They will teach you how and equip you, so you stay dry and warm. Edwin has been going to the Artic for more than 11 years for over 50 trips. And he said it’s “different every time – different weather, different wildlife, and different passengers. And it never gets old. There’s untouched wilderness, and being there is a privilege.”
7 || Go Right Up to the Paws of the Great Spinx
Not many tour operators can do it, as you need a special permit to be able to do that, but my partner in Egypt can. Even more exciting, you Cruise the Nile on an exclusively chartered boat, a-la-Agatha Christie, in your own private charter. (It’s not as expensive as you may think.) That stunning art deco boat in Kenneth Branaugh’s film does not exist, but this boat is pretty darn close and called ‘Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau.’ You and your party will visit many iconic sites, including the Temple of Luxor and the tomb of Tutankhamun.
8 || Adopt an Ocean State of Mind
I learned about an exciting new entry in the cruise industry that will embark on its first voyage in May 2023 in the Mediterranean. The ships are smaller, with a higher guest-to-staff ratio. Plus, Explora Journey won’t charge you a double rate if you’re single. And because they are new and responding to the demand, the sustainable aspects are not just talk – they use engines that are hybrid-energy solutions, the implemented waste-management, and energy-saving solutions. And obviously, there is no single-use plastic onboard and ashore. But the images are what hooked me. Stay tuned for more about Explora Journeys in a future post soon.
9 || Sweat in a Luxurious Lapland Sauna
Luxury Action was nearly the last travel provider I met, and their presentation woke me up. I felt like I was watching a James Bond film or a scene from The Night Manager. And given that Mika Häkkinen is a shareholder and partner, the virile, vital, and luxury appeal is not surprising. Nicknamed “The Flying Finn,” Häkkinen is a Finnish Formula One legend as the 1998 and 1999 Formula One World Champion. And so, yeah, you can race cars in winter conditions on a unique course or even head to the North Pole. In addition, they create breathtaking experiences in Finland that are just beyond – not just beyond geographical boundaries but even creative boundaries. Accommodations range from glass igloos, treehouses, wilderness lodges (stunning!), ice hotels, and tee-pee huts. And experiences include adventures you can’t even dream of!
10 || Wash Yourself with Chocolate Soap
Seriously. Just take a moment and imagine the aroma of a chocolate lather. Sounds so sexy! Etereo just opened last year, and each and every room faces the ocean and combines the indoors and outdoors for a truly relaxing retreat. The beach is swimmable and also offers kayaking and snorkeling. With only 75 rooms, this Auberge Resorts Collection destination sits in the Riviera Maya. Their spa SANA intrigued me with its jungle-like flora and fauna. Natural stone and wood create a serene atmosphere with a very zen and soothing design. Their intuitive wellbeing programming combines ancient Mayan beliefs and techniques with emerging and effective wellness trends from Mexico and beyond. And it includes chocolate soap! I hope to do a site visit when I’m nearby later this month!
11 || Explore the Galapagos from the Land
Yep, you read that right. Pikaia Lodge was a total surprise. I didn’t know you could explore the Galapagos from land. But this stunning Relais Chateaux property convinced me otherwise. Situated on Santa Cruz Island amid a turtle preserve, they offer only 14 accommodations. So you’re in for some pampering and special attention. You can go mountain biking, swim on a private beach, go scuba diving, and yes, they have their private yacht for day trips to explore. They pitch the destination as “a new concept in eco-adventures,” and I think they hit the mark. And no seasickness. I can’t wait to visit myself!
12 || Escape into Manhattan Zen Wellness Retreat
Finally! This long-awaited new entry to Aman Resorts is finally open, and, as expected, it is just stunning. I relished a stay at Amanjena in Morocco last year, reluctantly canceled a visit at Amanzoe in Greece, and am currently looking forward to a stay at Amangiri in Utah later this year. Aman New York creates a sanctuary beyond standard “luxury” amenities with understated and unshowy elegance. At the heart of the city at Fifth and Fifty-Seventh Street (yes, the old MOMA), the serene Japanese design is an antidote to the city’s chaos, noise, and heat.
Further, they offer not one, not two, but three floors devoted to wellbeing. And a new Jazz Club. Yeah, jazz and wellness – I’m in heaven. And get this – each suite offers a real fireplace.
13 || Explore Landscapes of Subterranean Worlds
Caves, castles, alps, coastlines, wineries, horse shows, spas, Michelin-star dining. You can experience all that and more in Slovenia. (Fun fact – I was in Slovenia in 1988, back when it was still a part of Yugoslavia. Ask me sometime about being detained at the border!) Slovenia is modern, pristine, and of exceptional value – without the crowds. Venice is only one hour drive to the Slovenian border and the Slovenian capital – Ljubljana is two hours from the Venice airport. You can do a day tour to visit the Royal Seven – A Majestic Castle Experience in Posavje and hear histories that rival anything George RR Martin conjures. You can explore the remarkable Karst caves, see the picturesque island of Lake Bled, visit Bohinj village in the Julian Alps, or taste the wine of the Gorška region. And it’s in the Lower Carniola where you can relax in a luxurious thermal spa. Slovenia is the next hot destination.
14 || Space
While in Vegas, I craved space. Silent, spacious space. Well, guess what? Virtuoso is at the forefront of space tourism and has been since 2009. It doesn’t get more spacious or quiet than that! The Virgin Galactic Spaceflight provides adventurers with an exclusive, enriching experience that few in human history have achieved. You will help pioneer a new industry and open space for a new generation while experiencing something, so few have: witnessing our beautiful and fragile planet from space. Yes, it’s possible, and yes, you can sign up now. As a Virtuoso advisor, I can offer you a streamlined booking process: no application or credit card hold is required to progress directly to a personalized exploratory call.
Doesn’t the Artemis launch inspire you? It does me. I can vividly remember Apollo launches when I was a kid. I was 6 ½ when the last mission ventured to the moon in December 1972. And I long heard the story of the rocket launch that my father watched in the waiting room awaiting my arrival on earth. On March 16, 1966, command pilot Neil Armstrong and pilot David Scott successfully docked their Gemini VIII spacecraft with the Agena target vehicle, the first-ever linking of two spacecraft in Earth orbit – a critical development integral to the International Space Station.
Are you destined to shift your perspective with a visit to the outer bounds of human existence? I so look forward to artists experiencing space – musicians, painters, poets, photographers – and how such talents transform that outward experience into an inward insight.
Space tourism is happening, and there are more entries than Branson and Bezos in this space (pardon the pun!). Stay tuned for more. Or set up a time to chat with me, and I’ll tell you more.