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Unique Accommodations Around the World

Sure, the top suite at a hotel is glamorous. But it still has four walls and a ceiling, just like every other room you’ve stayed in, right? Unless you’re watching fish and rays swim by in one of the underwater suites at Atlantis the Palm in Dubai or the Underwater Room at Manta Resort on Tanzania’s Pemba Island, that is. Maybe you have a pretty state-of-the-art aquarium at home and that’s still a little too domestic for you. No worries, there are plenty of unique accommodations that can take you out of your comfort zone while still making you feel warm and cozy.

An inflatable bubble

Iceland’s Bubble bills itself as a “5 million star hotel” and is a perfect spot for viewing the Northern Lights. Most bubbles are fully transparent, but privacy is not a problem, as trees separate each from bubble from the next. The hotel doesn’t even tell you where it’s located until you book, so there aren’t a lot of gawkers milling around. The bubbles are temperature controlled and wired for electricity, with bathroom, shower and dining facilities in the service house. In winter, the bubbles make for a personal IMAX theater with the Aurora Borealis playing often. In summer, you can enjoy outdoor activities late into the night and see the last rays of the midnight sun fade away. Virtuoso-preferred destination management company Iceland Encounter can help with the arrangements and help you select which bubble is right for you.

A yurt

Virtuoso-preferred tour operator Remote Lands has a special relationship with Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia, where the guest rooms are 30 yurts, or gers, covered with felt and canvas with wood-burning stoves supplying the warmth. The lodge also utilizes solar and wind energy with an eye toward environmental and cultural sustainability. One of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, Three Camels is a great base for excavating dinosaur fossils under the tutelage of a paleontologist or camel-trekking through the Gobi Desert. The meals are traditional and served in an over-sized ger, and in the Dino House lounge you can learn Mongolia’s favorite game: shagai (played with the ankle bones of sheep and goats) while enjoying a drink from the Thirsty Camel bar.

A cliffside pod

The mountaintop view overlooking Peru’s Sacred Valley and Urubamba River is one you won’t forget. Especially if you spend the night in a pod hanging over a cliff, gazing up at the stars and down at the heartland of the Inca Empire, experiencing the sort of connection the Incas had with the heavens. Booking your place at Skylodge through Virtuoso-preferred Metropolitan Touring is easy. Getting to your room is more of an adventure. Guests climb about 1,300 feet of Via Ferrata (metal handholds and footholds in the rock face) or do a combination of hiking and ziplining to reach the pods. Once you’re there, a gourmet dinner with wine awaits as your reward. Pods contain a bed and sitting, and, yes, there is a separate bathroom.

A treehouse

“The ultimate bush bedrooms,” the treehouses at Virtuoso-preferred Lion Sands private game reserve will bring the sights and sounds of the South African wilds into your living quarters. You arrive at sunset to a gourmet picnic and observe as the diurnal wildlife scampers off to sleep and the nocturnal animals take over. A field guide drops you off and offers a tutorial on what to expect, and remains on call should things go bump in the night. Among the sounds you’re likely to hear are hippos honking, lions roaring, leopards calling and hyenas cackling. With three locations (Chalkley Treehouse in the Sabi Sand, Kingston Treehouse in the Sabi Sand and Tinyeleti Treehouse in Kruger National Park), there are distinct options for couples and families, with a varying range of amenities depending on how much you want to rough it.

An ice hotel

About 125 miles inside the Arctic Circle stands the small village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, once frequented only by the reindeer-herding Sami people and those trading fur with them. Since 1989, though, it has been home to Icehotel. Not all the rooms are made of ice, and the hotel actually recommends that you spend most of your nights in a “warm room.” But the real attraction are the “cold rooms,” which are rebuilt every year once the weather is right. It’s a good idea to spend either your first or last night in a cold room, where temperatures can be as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll need to bring your own long johns, but Icehotel supplies outer clothes and thermal sleeping bags that are warm enough for temperatures between 10-15 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit (it won’t get that cold). Hot lingonberry tea and trips to the sauna are also provided so you can snuggle in. Virtuoso-preferred tour operator 50 Degrees North has activity packages available to fill your days, and Icebar is open until 12 a.m. for a nightcap.

Take your Villa or Apartment Renting To The Next Level With Virtuoso

Taking the whole family on a beach vacation this summer? Want an apartment in the big city for a long weekend? Why, you’ll need to book an Airbnb rental for that, right? Sure, if you want to run the risk of being secretly filmed by your host, as one couple recently discovered was happening to them at a Longboat Key, Fla., rental. Or if you’re OK with the possibility that your host might cancel your booking at the last minute for no reason or because of your race, as occurred in February with a Big Bear, Calif., rental. Or if you don’t mind that the place you’re renting might not have the proper insurance, safety measures or even be legally available for short-term rentals.

Or, you could utilize the vast resources of the Virtuoso network and stay at a place that has been properly vetted, offers services such as housekeeping and lets you enjoy your experience instead of worrying about what’s actually waiting for you when you arrive and potentially dealing with issues that turn your vacation into a big hassle.

Virtuoso-preferred partners offer a vast array of accommodations around the world. In addition to many Virtuoso-preferred hotels having private villas and apartments, there are several companies who specialize in just this sort of thing. 

Villas of Distinction features properties all throughout the Caribbean, in several European countries, Hawaii, Colorado, Florida and so much more. You can filter the number of bedrooms you need, the type of experience and level of service you’re looking for, and special features such as beachfront or fully staffed until you’ve found the villa that is perfect for you and your crew.

Abercrombie & Kent doesn’t just do great tours, from magnificently crafted group and family journeys to completely customized private itineraries, the company also has alpine chalets and luxury villas from Andalucia to Umbria at the best addresses in Europe. So after you return from a day of breathtaking touring with your driver and guide, you can sit down to a gourmet meal prepared by a private chef. Sure beats rummaging through the fridge at an Airbnb.

Say you’re off to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, New York, Paris, London or Rome for a long weekend, a week or a longer stay. Instead of booking a hotel, you’d rather live like a local and have a larger living space with all the comforts of home. Onefinestay has a whole roster of apartments, condos and lofts in those cities, plus an ever-expanding list of global destinations. Onefinestay visits each home before renting it and has a guest services team ready 24/7 to assist guests. Good luck getting a hold of your Airbnb host at 3 a.m.

Ski season is upon us, and you might need help finding a place that checks off all the items on your wish list. Ski-in/ski-out, hot tub, whatever the request, Alpine Adventures has the rental for you, from Vail to Verbier, Crested Butte to Courchevel and just about anywhere else skis and snowboards tear lines.

There are so many more choices, from the villa collections of Virtuoso-preferred wholesalers Travel Impressions and Classic Vacations to the beautiful villas along Lake Como available through the all-everything Italy specialists at IC Bellagio. Now aren’t you glad you don’t have to worry about an Airbnb host dropping by without notice during your romantic dinner?

River Cruising on 5 Continents

As river cruises have exploded in popularity in recent years, more and more ships have hit the water and more companies have entered the market. It is also being marketed to all generations with special family themed departures for kids from 4 years on up and hip, new U-Cruise ships designed strictly for the millennials. It’s a great way to get around to several destinations on the same trip without having to figure out transportation and hauling luggage around. Plus, there are a lot of inclusions, from excursions to meals and even drinks in a lot of cases. Typically, when people think of river cruises, they think of Europe. There are certainly a lot of great itineraries there, but it’s important to note that Virtuoso-preferred lines are operating river cruises on five continents. All those options can be overwhelming, so let’s break it down.

Europe

This continent’s rivers are still by far the most heavily trafficked. No fewer than nine Virtuoso-preferred companies offer river cruises in Europe. Some itineraries are unique. For example, Uniworld is the only line with cruises on the Po River in Italy and is also launching cruises aimed specifically at millennials in 2018. Some are off the beaten path. French Country Waterways, Abercrombie & Kent and Belmond offer barge cruising in France. Viking has a Kiev to the Black Sea journey through Ukraine. Crystal is new to river cruising after many successful years on the ocean, and its river product rivals Uniworld’s in terms of most-inclusive. Both include gratuities and alcoholic drinks throughout the ship at all times. Ama Waterways is building another ship for its always-sold-out Douro itineraries in Portugal. Past travelers with Tauck can receive the Gift of Time, one complimentary hotel night on either end of cruise. It’s also putting loft spaces into lower-deck cabins so passengers can open their windows above the water line. Avalon Waterways’ Panorama suites are designed to maximize space, with uniquely shaped bathrooms and beds facing large windows so you can see the river as soon as you wake and have an open-air sitting area inside the cabin.

Most lines include excursions in each port plus beer and wine at meals. Several have optional excursions for an additional fee, and some even have bicycles onboard if you just want to go for a ride and take in the sights yourself. Among the most popular itineraries are Christmas Markets, Tulip Time in the Netherlands and Belgium, and Danube cruises between Prague and Budapest. Special interest sailings such as wine-themed and Jewish heritage abound.

Asia

Experience India from along the Ganges, China along the Yangtze, Myanmar along the Irrawady
or Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong and visit some of the most breathtaking sites in the
world. Uniworld’s 13-day India’s Golden Triangle & The Sacred Ganges itinerary visits bustling
New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur before a 7-night cruise starting and ending in Kolkata. Belmond and
Avalon’s Irrawady itineraries open up the “Golden Land” of Myanmar, from shimmering
pagodas to possible spottings of the rare Irrawady dolphin. Ama is adding itineraries on the
Ganges and Irrawady in the next few years. Viking’s three itineraries in China range from 14 to
19 days between Beijing and Shanghai. All three feature the beautiful Wu Gorge and Xi’an, and
the Roof of the World spends two days in Lhasa, Tibet. Uniworld’s three China itineraries range
from 11 to 18 days, one stopping in Tibet and another ending in Hong Kong. The Mekong is quite
popular thanks to such gems as Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. Ama, Avalon, Aqua Expeditions,
Viking and Uniworld all operate all the river.

Africa

Ama’s 28-passenger Zambezi Queen does four-night itineraries on the Chobe River brings the wildlife to you as you’re floating along a primary water source. The journeys built around the cruise include options for exploring Cape Town, going on safari, seeing Victoria Falls and a luxury train ride through Zimbabwe and South Africa. Uniworld and Viking each have 12-day Egypt journeys that begin and end in Cairo. The Nile cruises feature ancient temples in Luxor, the Aswan High Dam, the magnificent Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel and of course the Great Pyramids of Giza. Uniworld deploys the 82-passenger River Tosca along the Nile, while Viking uses the 148-guest ms Mayfair and its own 48-passenger Viking Ra.

North America

As its name implies, UnCruise Adventures does things a little differently. UnCruise goes places other lines don’t go, and its itineraries through the Pacific Northwest on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers do not disappoint. On the 88-passenger S.S. Legacy, a replica of an 1898 coastal gold rush steamer, UnCruise has three themes: Legacy of Discovery, Rivers of Wine and Rivers of Adventure, all roundtrip from Portland. The Legacy of Discovery traces the path of Lewis and Clark, delving into the culture and history of the area. Rivers of Wine features winery tours and tastings in five American viticultural areas: Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley and Willamette Valley. Rivers of Adventure offers white-water rafting on the Deschutes River and water sports in Palouse Falls State Park. Don’t worry, you get to drink wine and see Multnomah Falls on all three options.

South America

With capacities of 44 and 32 respectively, the Delfin III (Avalon) and Aria Amazon (Aqua Expeditions) take guests down the Peruvian Amazon in comfort. Aqua’s seven-night Expedition Cruise, four-night Explorer Cruise and three-night Discovery Cruise all start and end in Iquitos, with different itineraries depending on water level. The long you cruise the more opportunity there is for piranha fishing, jungle trekking and glimpsing pink dolphins. Avalon’s itineraries, ranging from 11 to 20 days spend four days on the river with journeys Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, the Nazca Lines and even a second cruise in the Galapagos possible.

Venenice Lagoon and Po River Family Cruise with Uniworld

 

           

Just back from a wonderful adventure in Venice with my 6-year old granddaughter on an amazing Uniworld Family Cruise on board the beautiful River Countess. For those of you who did not follow along on my Facebook posts, here is a brief synopsis of a week full of surprises.

After resting up at the exquisite Londra Palace hotel, we boarded the lovely River Countess at the Port of Venice for a week of incredible discoveries in and around the magical city of Venice.

Along with visiting several of the Venice highlights, including an exclusive after-hours visit to the basilica, and a visit to the Rialto Market with the chef, we and the children were treated to such cultural delights as mussel fishing and dining at a fisherman’s shack on stilts in the lagoon, historical Bologna and a pasta making class, pizza making and visits to the beautiful lagoon islands. River Countess set up a special room on board for the kids complete with legos, all kinds of crafting activities and a playstation with video games. They all had a wonderful time together and dined with each other at a special kids table in the dining room where the waiters (probably all missing their own children back home) all showered them with attention. Guests on board without children all marveled at how well behaved they were and well organized by the special Children’s hosts on the ship.

   

On the island of Torcello while the adults enjoyed a visit to view the amazing mosaics in the church, the kids went on a treasure hunt and climbed the bell tower. In colorful Burano, we dined on fresh calamari and shopped for treasures. And while the adults enjoyed a special wine tasting at a gorgeous vineyard on Mazzorbo, the kids honed their rowing skills on a canal in the Lagoon. Visits to the local market in Chioggia, time at the beach and bike rides, rounded out a week filled with activities. For the older children and adults, excursions to Padua, Ravenna and Verona were also offered. All around fun time for all!!

           

I highly recommend this amazing itierary for all ages. It is an incredible way to see Venice and so much more. Uniworld thought of every little detail to keep clients of all ages happy at all times.

For families with children young and old, this is a fantastic vacation opportunity you may never have considered. Dedicated family cruises are offered on several of their River Cruise itineraries. Ask me about the perfect one for you.

Culinary Cruise with Chef Jacques Pepin

Calling all foodies … don’t miss this opportunity to sail with celebrity chef, Jaques Pepin, on this wonderful itinerary through the Mediterranean from Lisbon to Rome … and then book the fabulous Culinary Creations experience in Rome following the Cruise. Enjoy special on board culinary presentations and excursions, great pricing and our group bonus of prepaid gratuities and $150 on board credit!! A Food lover’s dream … contact us for more details.Oceania-Jaques Pepin 2015-page-001

Oceania-Jaques Pepin 2015-page-002 (2)

Naples Pizza!

For those of you who may not read Saveur Magazine, here is an amazing and exclusive experience I designed for them in conjunction with this month’s issue featuring beautiful Naples and its incredible pizza. It is of course available to all of you. If you would like more details, please let me know.

 

SAVEUR

A WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE FOR THE SAVEUR READER
A gastronomic trip has been designed for travelers to see and
taste one of Italy’s greatest cities—Naples. Known as the famed
birthplace of pizza, its popularity is resurging in destinations
around the world. After this visit, you’ll be able to bring home the
real, everyday story of Napolitano pizza.
WITH A LOCAL GUIDE YOU’LL ENJOY
•  Authentic tastings throughout neighborhood eateries
•  An intimate pizza making lesson
Other exciting experiences include lunch at Don Alfonso
restaurant, one of Italy’s most prestigious restaurants, and a visit
to Le Peracciole Farm on the Amalfi coast.
BOOK NOW!  Offers are available for a limited time only.
Italy
Foodie: Trisha Iannazzi
Trisha Iannazzi
has traveled the world in
search of authentic and unique
experiences for her clients.
Iannazzi Enterprises
585.624.1285
Pizza
SAVEUR Travel Advisory Board
Virtuoso

Top 10 European Rail Journeys

A&K Destination management company
Top European Rail JourneysRomantic, comfortable and sublimely picturesque, rail travel is one of Europe’s great pleasures.

It is also a fast and relaxing way to combine destinations to create your perfect itinerary.

Meanwhile our outstanding Concierge Rail Service ensures your travel between destinations with the ease and comfort you have come to expect from an us.

For inspiration, take a look at our top 10 European rail journeys.

Top 10 European Rail Journeys

1.    Zermatt to St Moritz
2.    Moscow to Vladivostok
3.    Zurich to Milan
4.    Paris to Barcelona
5.    Amsterdam to Germany
6.    Budapest to Vienna to Prague
7.    London to Edinburgh
8.    Verona to Munich
9.    Santiago di Compostela to León
10.  Fort William to Mallaig

Should you wish to incoroparte any of these fantastic journeys into a European adventure we would love to hear from you.

Now Any American Can Go to Cuba...

If traveling to this fascinating country which has been off limits to Americans for over 50 years has intrigued you,

there are now legal ways visit Cuba with one of these sanctioned programs. Contact us for more details.

Now Any American Can Go to Cuba…
With Special Savings on these 10 Departures!
 
From Old Havana and Colonial Trinidad to the tranquil countryside and the artistic vibrancy of Santiago de Cuba, these 4 programs offer you the widest choice available in the market…
And every journey is enriched by authentic and engaging connections with island residents!
Save on 4 journeys to Cuba
Now SAVE $600 per couple when you pay-in-full
at time of booking for select departures through September!

 


Scenic Cuba – 8 days for $3,195 Now $2,895
Jun 8 to 15; Jul 6 to 13; Sep 14 to 21

Discover bustling Havana and the beautiful countryside on this memorable trip enriched by authentic encounters with island residents from all backgrounds.

 


Classic Cuba – 8 days for $3,595 Now $3,295
Jul 2 to 9; Aug 6 to 13; Aug 20 to 27; Sep 23 to 30

Encounter the island’s warm spirit as the residents of Havana, Cienfuegos and Colonial Trinidad open their hearts and shed light on their fascinating lives.

 


Cuban Music & Art – 9 days for $4,295 Now $3,995
Sep 20 to 28

Cuba comes alive on this unique journey planned for music lovers and art enthusiasts. Meet island residents who live and breathe artistic expression.

 


New! Undiscovered Cuba – 12 days for $4,295 Now $3,995
Jul 15 to 26; Aug 19 to 30

This exclusive cross-island odyssey gets you behind the scenes and into the art and culture of smaller towns across Cuba usually missed by American travelers.

 

Silversea's Galapagos

THIS IS SUCH EXCITING NEWS – TO BE ABLE TO EXPLORE THE AMAZING GALAPAGOS ISLANDS WHILE STAYING ON AN EXQUISITE SILVERSEA VESSEL AND ENJOY ALL THE LUXURY AND PAMPERING THAT SILVERSEA CAN OFFER YOU IS THE VERY BEST OF BOTH WONDERFUL WORLDS!! CALL US FOR MORE DETAILS AS THESE VOYAGES WILL SELL OUT VERY FAST.

The 100-guest Silver Galapagos. With sleek lines and a proven skill for navigating the waterways throughout the Galápagos Islands, she is naturally suited for in-depth explorations of this spectacular region. She offers all the intimate conviviality and elegant sophistication that has made Silversea the preferred choice for today’s discerning travellers.

All accommodations are ocean-view suites, most feature private balconies – and all offer the personalised services of a professional butler. Relax completely and leave the unpacking to your butler as you sail away on your unforgettable adventure. Like-minded guests from across the globe are your travelling companions, and the intimate ambience is much like a country club where conversations flow as easily as the complimentary drinks.

Silversea
Announcing Our Premiere Voyage
HIGHLIGHTS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Guest lecturers, Dr. Paul D. Stewart and Richard Wollocombe
Expedition team including renowned zoologists, naturalists, writers and photographers
Premiere Lecture Programme supported by Royal Geographical Society
A memorable cultural experience at a local Ecuadorian school
Voyage hosted by senior executives of Silversea
Commemorative Silver Galapagos logo apparel
Commemorative “old world” chart of the Galapagos Islands
Hand-crafted sculpture by a local Ecuadorian artisan
DAYS VOYAGE FROM/TO SILVER PRIVILEGE
EXPLORER SUITE FARES FROM
SILVER PRIVILEGE
VERANDA SUITE FARES FROM
SILVER SKY*
AIR FROM
7 8404 Baltra to Baltra $5,950 $8,150 $1,100
* The Silver Galapagos Air Package from Quito to Baltra and return to Guayaquil, park entrance fees and immigration fees are additional costs and not reflected in the fares shown above. Please contact Silversea Reservations for pricing.
— SPECIAL GUEST LECTURERS —
PAUL STEWART DR. PAUL STEWART, Award-winning Zoologist, Writer, Producer and Photographer
Having earned his Doctorate from Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Dr. Stewart has won the national Prince Philip Zoology prize. He has written and photographed for wildlife magazines around the world, including his book “Galapagos — Islands That Changed the World.” He is also a multiple Primetime Emmy and BAFTA award-winning cameraman and producer across 40 countries.
RICHARD WOLLOCOMBE RICHARD WOLLOCOMBE, Renowned Wildlife Cameraman, Naturalist and Galapagos Resident Mr. Wollocombe is an Emmy and RTS award-winning cameraman with 15 years experience filming on land and underwater. His natural history filmmaking credentials include extensive work for Discovery in the South Pacific, as well as his award-winning Galapagos, voted best film at the Jackson Hole Film Festival. As a resident of the Galapagos, Mr. Wollocombe knows first hand the natural riches the islands possess.
BOOK A LUXURY EXPEDITION TODAY!
For more information, please call us

The Year of Natural Scotland

Shetland ponies pose in specially created winter woollen outfits to mark the Year of Natural Scotland 2013. How sweet is this? If you have not been to amazing Scotland, now is the time to go….let me create an incredible itinerary for you in the land of my heritage.