Last week we focused on lake destinations in the U.S. in anticipation of Memorial Day. We couldn’t write our favorite domestic spots without also mentioning some great lakes in other corners of the globe. There are few things better than hitting the water on a beautiful sunny day, and these lakes deliver.
Northern Italy is full of gorgeous glacial lakes, and Como is the jewel in the crown. With an amazing combination of natural and human-made beauty, it’s impossible to go anywhere without having to stop and marvel. Take a boat over to Bellagio and browse the shop-lined streets for silks before lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina on the lake’s lone island. In between, cruise by the ornate villas replete with perfectly manicured gardens that line the shores, set against the backdrop of alpine foothills.
A spectacular emerald color thanks to glacial and rock runoff, Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, is a picture-perfect sight to behold. You could spend hours just gazing from the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. At almost 6,000 feet of elevation with mountains and trails all around, it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise year-round. In winter, there’s world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog-sledding and sleigh rides. In summer, there’s canoeing, hiking, and horseback riding, plus the ski gondolas remain in operation to whisk visitors over alpine meadows and babbling brooks.
The lake’s construction in the 14th century inspired the founding of the city of Udaipur, which is today in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and lavish palaces along the shoreline and on islands. The Jagdish Temple dedicated to Vishnu sports a 79-foot high pagoda with ornately carved statues on several levels. The white marble Maharajah’s Palace, mosaiced Winter Palace, yellow sandstone Jag Mandir and granite and marble Jag Niwas (now a hotel) are architectural marvels. The Virtuoso-preferred Leela Palace Udaipur and The Oberoi Udaivillas occupy prime real estate on the shore.
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet and the largest lake in South America. The lake is a mecca for bird-watchers, the floating islands made of reeds by the pre-Incan Uros people are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. Ancient temples stand on many of the more than 40 islands in the lake, which has been considered sacred by the several civilizations that have sprung up around it. Virtuoso-preferred Titilaka Relais & Chateaux makes for the perfect base for exploration.
In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital, while Virtuoso-preferred Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Matakauri Lodge, and Blanket Bay are homes away from home.
Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, marking the unofficial start of summer for many Americans. It’s a holiday to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women who gave their lives serving in the U.S. armed forces. It’s also become a holiday for backyard cookouts and getting out on the water. In that regard, the U.S. is blessed with myriad lakes that can be enjoyed all summer long.
Touching four states, Lake Michigan has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline and the most beaches of any lake in the country. From the popular urban beaches of Chicago — you’ll never run out of things to do on Oak Street Beach or North Avenue Beach — to the giant dunes found in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin to idyllic islands, Lake Michigan has something for those who want to be in the heart of action and those looking to get away from it all.
With clear water and a ring of mountains all around, Lake Tahoe is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. It has plenty to offer your other senses, too, serving as a playground for skiing and other winter sports during cold months and for parasailing and other water sports when the weather turns warm. Elevated hiking and biking trails offer spectacular views, and casinos on the Nevada side of the lake provided entertainment year-round. Receive exclusive amenities when staying at the Virtuoso-preferred Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe or Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
Table Rock Lake
While nearby Lake of the Ozarks may be more well-known, Table Rock in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas has all the fun without the crowds. Stonewater Cove Resort provides miles of trails for hiking or ATV rides, zip lines, canoes, kayaks, water skiing, sunset cruises and just about anything else you can think of for a perfect day out on the lake. Head into nearby Branson to catch any of a number of country music shows or take the family to the Silver Dollar City theme park.
The history here is unparalleled, with Lake Champlain playing a key role in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Visit Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point on the New York side for an education in history or search for “Champ” the lake monster to indulge your thrill-seeking side. The Moonlight Lady replicates ships from the 1920s that frequented the lake and offers multi-day cruises for exploring the area.
With more coastline than California and famed for slot canyons, it’s easy to find a secret spot on Lake Powell for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Rainbow Bridge on the Utah side is one of the world’s biggest natural bridges, and there are plenty of open spaces to build up a head of steam for water skiing and other sports. Given the unique geological formations along the reservoir, hikers and those on Jeep tours are rewarded with breathtaking views.
Spend any time in San Miguel de Allende, and you’ll quickly see why so many people expatriate there. Soon enough, you’ll want to move there too. By day or by night, the place is a work of art. Colonial charm emanates from the town center and spills onto green hillsides. At just over 6,000 feet of elevation and with an average temperature in the 60s Fahrenheit, walking into San Miguel feels like stepping into a dream. Fair warning, though, if you’re driving in — especially at night — navigating the narrow and sharply angled cobblestone streets can be more of a nightmare.
Stroll through town, however, and you’re awash in colorful buildings, colorful people, and friendly dogs. In such a picturesque place, it’s no wonder there is a thriving artistic community. The Mercado de Artesanias (Artisans’ Market) is the perfect venue to sample the work of talented craftspeople hawking paintings, serapes, and handmade jewelry.
In such a beautiful setting, it’s a welcome challenge to turn your day into its own work of art. There’s a certain craft to drawing the hours out lazily while savoring every moment, but the locals seem to have it down pat. The entire fortified town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so just wander around and you’re bound to run into such architectural marvels as the San Francisco Church, Church of the Immaculate Conception or Ignacio Allende House. And you can barely make it a block without hitting a gallery.
Time moves slowly in San Miguel, so there’s nothing wrong with spending an afternoon sipping small-batch tequila with an expert from Casa Dragones, either in the eponymous casa when it’s available or in the new six-seat tasting room, “The Smallest Tequila Bar in the World.” Learn the history of the casa, which once housed the stables of the queen of Spain’s bodyguard and played a key role in the Mexican Revolution, and of the spirit, which was the brainchild of MTV founder Robert Pittman and Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the first woman certified as a tequila master by the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters. In 2013, Casa Dragones’ Joven earned a 96 score from Wine Enthusiast, the magazine’s highest mark for a tequila.
To put the finishing strokes on your masterpiece of a day, get to a rooftop in time to watch the sun dip the below the hills and the sky fills with stars as a cool breeze wafts in. The day fades to night, and suddenly, there you are in that dream again.
WHERE TO STAY:
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende: Set in the heart of this charming artists’ village, the 67-guestroom Rosewood San Miguel de Allende promises a stay fit for dignitaries. All visitors appreciate its fine Mexican craftsmanship. The rooms are decorated with stunning wood-beamed ceilings and a private balcony or terrace, and most have fireplaces. Taste innovative cuisine from 1826 restaurant’s open artisan kitchen, then whip up your own in on-site cooking classes. Relax poolside or at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, while the children are entertained with daily hands-on activities at the kids’ club.
Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada: A stay at Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada is not just a hotel visit, it’s a beneficial experience, leaving you with an understanding of this enchanting region. This boutique hotel and cooking school caters to the world’s most discriminating travelers with resplendent guestrooms and suites; 37 bedrooms are scattered throughout six mansions and the Casa del Parque. Each room is individually decorated with antiques, lush fabrics, and vibrant Talavera tiles. As expected, the restaurant is one of the country’s top dining establishments; you can also dine in the privacy of your room or on the romantic terrace.
Much as we’d love to unless it’s a quick road trip, it’s difficult to take your four-legged friend on vacation with you. But there are lots of places you can go and make new furry friends, help them find forever homes and maybe even bring them home with you. Here are a few of our favorite programs.
The Kauai Humane Society allows visitors to “check out” dogs for day trips to dog-friendly beaches and hiking trails. You get a companion for the day, the dog gets a nice time out of the shelter and wears a vest labeled “adopt me” so local passers-by know he or she is in need of a permanent home. Even if they don’t get adopted that day, the dogs still get a chance to socialize, making them more prepared for a family. If you really make a strong connection, you can your new friend home. The society helps with the process and adopts an average of four dogs a month to visitors.
Turks and Caicos
Located in the popular Grace Bay area of Providenciales, Potcake Place strives to reduce the number of homeless dogs on the island. As there is no animal shelter in Turks and Caicos, volunteers keep the dogs in their own homes but allow visitors to take pups on beach trips. If there’s a good match, Potcake Place helps with the process of adoption and transporting the dogs to their new homes. The volunteers work with veterinarians to make sure the dogs have their vaccinations, and if necessary even accompany them on the trip to meet their families.
Territorio de Zaguates, “Land of the Strays,” is a shelter in the mountains near Heredia, about an hour outside San Jose. The shelter organizes walks of about 2 miles with its canine residents where visitors can get to know the dogs and help them get used to people and possibly even meet their new owners. The walks typically take place two weekends a month, though they are temporarily suspended and no schedule has been released for 2018, so make sure to check with Territorio de Zaguates before showing up.
This Virtuoso-preferred resort in Walland, Tenn., is home to several types of farm animals and breeds Lagotto Romagnolo dogs who specialize in truffle hunting. One weekend every February (this year it’s Feb. 2-4), guests are invited to bring their own Lagottos or enjoy time with the farm’s as they do what they love best, hunt for truffles. The celebration culminates in a feast showcasing the flavorful fungi in a variety of tasty dishes.
Inn by the Sea
A Virtuoso-preferred resort in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Inn by the Sea has invited guests to bring their pets for a long time. Now, it’s connecting dogs and families who didn’t arrive together but end up going home together. The inn fosters dogs from the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and has helped dozens of dogs find their forever families. When you check in, you’ll be greeted by a pup manning the front desk, and if the fit is right, you might just end up with a great souvenir.
By Damien Martin
By now you’ve probably noticed that it’s cold outside. And now that the holidays are over, all this winter weather has long since lost its charm. Either you need to get away to somewhere warm immediately, or you’re already looking forward to spring break or summer vacation. Fortunately, cruise lines are eager to get you on board and offer some amazing specials during “wave season,” the first quarter of the year. Whether you prefer river cruising, small ocean ships or larger ocean liners with tons of onboard activities, book in time and there are great savings to be had. Then you can close your eyes and dream of warm sand and blue skies as you trudge through the snow.
With AmaWaterways, book by March 31 and receive an additional $100 per person savings on select cruises that are already marked down anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per person. Book select airfare-included European sailings with Avalon Waterways by Feb. 20 and save up to $3,000 per couple. Reserve a Crystal cruise (river or ocean) by March 31 and you’ll have your choice of $400 per person off cruise fare, $500 per person air credit or $600 per person to spend onboard. For river itineraries with Tauck, pay deposit by Feb. 28 on a departure between March 1 and Aug. 31 to take advantage of $890 per person economy class airfare, $1,490 per person in premium economy or $3,490 per person in business class. The offer also applies to all European land tours and Treasures of the British-Irish Isles and St. Petersburg and the Baltic Sea ocean cruises. Uniworld is offering up to 30 percent on select 2018 sailings, and up to 20 percent off several of its U by Uniworld cruises aimed at 21-45-year-olds for bookings made by the end of March. Viking has two-for-one pricing with air included on select Waterways of the Tsars and Grand European Tour departures this year and next if you book by Jan. 31.
Azamara Club Cruises is reducing cruise fare by 50 percent for the second passenger in a cabin on certain sailings for Club Oceanview or higher categories if reserved by Feb. 28. Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Hurtigruten is offering savings of up to $1,250 per person for bookings made by Feb. 28 (March 31 for select Norway sailings). Cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage on Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and you could get a three-category upgrade if you reserve by March 1. Seabourn’s Alaska incentive will double your shipboard credit to $600 per suite on some Virtuoso Voyages booked by March 13. Deposit by March 15 with Silversea and get up to $1,000 per suite onboard credit plus an upgrade on select sailings all over the world. Save $450 per couple on select seven-night or $600 per couple for 14-night Alaska journeys with UnCruise Adventures reserving by Feb. 28 and receive $100 shipboard credit as well. With Zegrahm Expeditions, new guests booking by Jan. 31 will save 5 percent and past guests will save 10 percent on select 2019 departures with supplemental solo traveler fees waived.
Book an ocean view or higher stateroom with Celebrity by Feb. 28 and have your choice of a drink package, wireless internet, prepaid gratuities or $150 onboard credit for the first two guests and 50 percent reduced cruise for the third and fourth passengers in a cabin. Receive up to $500 per cabin to spend onboard and 10 percent on shore excursions when booking a verandah or higher with Holland America on select Land + Sea Journeys by Feb. 28 (shore excursions must be booked by March 15). Plus, suites also receive prepaid gratuities. Princess’ anniversary sale runs through Feb. 14, and in that time you can take advantage of up to $600 per cabin credit and free specialty dining, with deposits as low as $100 per person. Royal Caribbean is offering savings of up to 30 percent and $100 per person credit with opportunities for upgrades and prepaid gratuities through Jan. 31. Past guests of Cunard can reduce their deposits by 50 percent, while all guests can enjoy upgrades, complimentary gratuities and free drinks (in Grill Suites) when booking by Feb. 28.
To maximize your savings and benefits, contact Stefany, Co-Founder/Dream Travel Designer of DMC Travel Tailor at (917) 653-9346 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No doubt working with a travel advisor saves precious time both during the planning process and during your journey. But that’s hardly the extent of the value a DMC Travel Tailor advisor adds to your trip. In many cases, booking with us actually saves money in addition to providing you with amenities you can’t get on your own or through an online travel agency.
If you’ve worked with us before, you know about our affiliation with the Virtuoso network, which makes us preferred partners with the best hotels, tour operators and cruise lines in the world and provides exclusive benefits to our clients such as room upgrades, resort credits, and breakfast included when you stay at a Virtuoso hotel.
More than that, however, we cultivate strong relationships with our partners so that when we send our clients out into the world, we are placing you in the care of trusted friends. When our clients arrive, they are greeted as VIP guests and doted on by our partners. And if our clients do not receive exceptional service, we’ll hear the reason why and take steps to correct any issues while you’re in travel. Good luck getting that from an online travel agency.
The difference goes beyond Virtuoso, as we are members of just about every elite hotel amenity program there is. With Belmond’s Bellini Club, you’ll receive extra benefits on Belmond luxury trains and in their hotels. Membership in the Dorchester Collection’s Diamond Club gives our clients gives our clients guaranteed upgrades at such hotels and the Plaza Athénée in Paris, Hotel Eden in Rome and The Beverly Hills Hotel. As preferred partners of Fairmont and Four Seasons, our clients receive VIP treatment at some of the most exclusive hotels and resorts in the world.
Staying with such fine hotel chains as Mandarin Oriental, Jumeirah, Rosewood, Ritz-Carlton, Rocco Forte and Starwood, you’ll enjoy complimentary breakfast, credits for use in spas or restaurants along with upgraded rooms and personalized welcomes from management. The same goes for collections such as Small Luxury Hotels and the Relais & Chateaux network of properties famed for their culinary quality and unique charm.
You simply cannot reproduce the quality of experience that working with a DMC Travel Tailor advisor by booking on your own or through an online travel agency. Every step of the way, from planning to traveling to memorializing the trip of a lifetime, you are in good hands with real live people who are dedicated to making sure your experience is one you’ll want to relive over and over. With our help, you’ll be so thrilled with your vacation, you’ll already be thinking about your next one by the time you get home.