Caribbean Islands Reopening

As destinations worldwide begin to reopen regionally at first, our plans to travel to Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa and South America have to be put on hold for a bit. This gives us the opportunity to rediscover America and travel domestically. But we can also this summer take advantage of the good luck that we’re in the same region as the wonderful islands of the Caribbean.

These islands are largely dependent on tourism, and they were still on their way to full recovery from the devastating 2017 hurricane season when the novel coronavirus hit. Fortunately, most of them have managed to avoid large-scale medical damage from COVID-19, but the lack of visitors has certainly hurt their economies.

Being careful to protect their people from potential infection, many Caribbean destinations are getting ready to reopen to tourism in time for the summer season.

Antigua and St. Lucia began welcoming visitors last week, requiring proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of boarding a plane to either island. The U.S. Virgin Islands have reopened to tourism, but safer at home orders remain in effect, limiting bar and restaurant capacity to 50% and gatherings to 10 people. Jamaica will open to tourists June 15, with facemasks required in airports, taxis and hotels and travelers screened on arrival. Aruba plans to reopen between June 15 and July 1, with entry requirements still to be announced. The Bahamas have reopened all airports, and tourism will resume July 1. Turks & Caicos plans to reopen to visitors July 22.

Grenada hopes to welcome visitors starting June 30, but plans are not firm. St. Maarten, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the hardest hit Caribbean nation with more than 500 deaths, anticipate July reopenings. The Cayman Islands will not open before Sept. 1, and several other islands have not yet announced reopening dates.

As always, we ask our travelers to be respectful of the places and people they are visiting and follow any face covering and social distancing rules in place. We at DMC Travel Tailor will be happy to provide more specific information about individual islands and resorts. It’s been a tough few months, and we can’t freely roam everywhere in the world just yet, but we’re thrilled that some of the most beautiful islands you could ever hope to see are welcoming us back, and we’re thrilled to support them.

Hotel Cleanliness Initiatives

Cleanliness and privacy have always been luxuries, but they are certainly at the forefront for travelers now. As they reopen, hotels and resorts are going the extra mile to help guests feel comfortable and welcomed as the COVID-19 era enters a new phase. Your vacation is a precious investment of time and money, and the last thing you want is more worry.

To ease guests’ minds, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba is cleaning with environmentally safe hospital grade hydrogen peroxide, ionizer treatment, ultraviolet air and surface sanitizer and installing HEPA air cleaners. After cleaning, rooms are sealed, with a sticker letting arriving guests know that no one has been inside since. Electrostatic guns will apply sanitizer in all public areas, including at the beach.

Chable Maroma and Chable Yucatan on Mexican’s Yucatan Peninsula have added ozone generators for deep sanitation of guest rooms. Sheets, towels and linens are disinfected using steam-based and biodegradable processes, and hygiene stations featuring hand sanitizer are spread throughout the resorts. The sprawling nature of the resorts provides natural social distancing, as freestanding casitas and villas are separated by at least 30 feet from the next.

Marriott’s global cleanliness council continues to introduce innovations at the chain’s more than 7,300 hotels worldwide, including the Ritz-Carlton brand. Electrostatic sprayers and the highest classification of disinfectants are used to clean guest rooms. Hand sanitizing stations are set up throughout hotels and resort grounds. Disinfectant wipes are placed in each room as an amenity. At more than 3,000 Marriott properties, contactless check-in, key card access and room service ordering are available via smartphone. Single-use plastic cups are made from plant material in Ritz-Carlton properties.

In collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Four Seasons hotels and resorts are implementing the Lead With Care program that includes a hygiene officer at each property, blacklight inspection after cleaning and hourly sanitizing of common areas. Room amenities include face masks, sanitizer spray and wipes. The Four Seasons app and chat feature allow contactless communication with staff. Contactless in-room dining delivery comes in sustainable, single-use packaging.

Restaurants and pool areas will offer limited seating to ensure social distancing, so planning ahead is crucial. Things sure are different, but there are still wonderful places in this world worth exploring. What hasn’t changed is that our partners will go the extra mile to ensure you can enjoy your getaway safely and have a home away from home.

Travel Dreaming with Virtuoso Wanderlist

Travel Dreaming with Virtuoso Wondeerlist
We might not be able to travel internationally just yet, but we can always dream. It’s even easier to dream now that it’s free to create travel wish lists with Virtuoso Wanderlist. Is there a trip you had to postpone because of COVID-19? Has sheltering at home gotten you thinking about the trip or trips that you’ve always wanted to take but have put off for one reason or another? In an era when international travel had become so accessible, feeling cut off from the rest of the world has been a jolt. Fortunately, countries are slowly but surely opening back up and announcing dates they will begin welcoming visitors once more. We can start making plans again, and Wanderlist is the perfect way to do it.

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With Wanderlist, you collect and share your travel dreams with family and friends, and with your travel advisor. You can explore destinations with maps, videos and other helpful information about the place. Then everyone who might be going with you can rate the destination by whether they want to visit, have been and want to return, aren’t sure, have been and don’t want to go back or aren’t interested. When you’ve narrowed it down to a few places, you can rate individual experiences by thumbs up, thumbs down or neutral. Roam around the world and build your wish list. Discover things you never knew about your loved ones.

Share the results with your advisor, and when you’re ready to plan, upgrade your Wanderlist experience by designing your next trip with your advisor, and create a lifetime of dreams waiting to become reality. With your wish list assembled, your advisor will be able to let you know when the best times to go are, spot deals and plan in advance to make the most of your time. Even if it’s a place you’ve been to before, the destination will be much different from the one you went to last. Your advisor will be up to date on the latest developments. The upgraded version of Wanderlist will have a calendar of any future trips you’ve booked, payment due dates and budget forecasts. We know now better than ever the urgency of taking your dream trip. Someday might not ever come unless you start planning for it.

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So, what’s on your Wanderlist? Is it gorilla trekking? The Great Migration? Dog-sledding in the Yukon? The unique biodiversity of the Galapagos? Where in your lifetime do you want to get to? What do you want to experience? Keep exploring. Dreaming is free.

The Great American Getaway

The great American road trip is back. It’s returning with some 21st century style. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open, and so is the southern half of Yellowstone. Slowly but surely, places around are opening up and we’re emerging from our homes and ready to hit the road. You might still be wary of hopping on a plane or staying in a big city. We get that. That’s why the first step in our Great American Getaway is all about getting away from it all.

RVs

The mere mention of the term RV might conjure up images of Cousin Eddie emptying the septic tank in “Christmas Vacation,” but the RVs of today are well-furnished, clean and equipped with all the technology you need to make for a smooth family road trip. There’s a range of luxury RVs that accommodate varying budgets. Partners of ours such as Abercrombie & Kent and American Excursionist offer RV packages that fit your style. There are options for self-drive or with a driver, and you can spend every night on the RV and or retire to a nice lodge for the night while the driver takes care of the vehicle.

It’s easy to practice social distancing in an RV while carving out some quality family or couple time away from home. You don’t have to worry about constant unpacking and repacking, and you can be close to the outdoors action without having to worry about the lack of nearby accommodations. Of course, you can’t just park anywhere you want for the night. That’s where a well-crafted itinerary planned out with your travel advisor comes in.

Sensing “a nostalgic craving for the American road trip,” as U.S. operations manager Kirk Reynolds put it, A&K has developed local and regional itineraries of six to eight nights highlighting national parks, the Rockies and Texas to name a few. Excursionist also offers national parks itineraries in the West and from the Berkshires to Acadia. You can even get your kicks on Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, or in Canada when the time comes.

Villas, Cabins & Condos

No matter what part of the country you live in, our partners offer freestanding structures for those not quite sure about jumping back into a high-rise hotel just yet. There are many options that are part of a resort and come with all the attendant amenities, such as Stone Water Cove on Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks, any number of places in Napa Valley or the Ocean House in Rhode Island.

For those who want even more space, Villas of Distinction is expanding its domestic collection to add more private homes in Colorado and Utah, Southern California (Palm Springs, La Jolla and L.A.). From Montana to Miami — and Singer Island and Orlando —they are adding or expanding their inventory. Hilton Head bookings are available immediately, and they’re also looking to add places in destinations such as Nashville, Charleston, Savannah and Martha’s Vineyard. Each home or condo comes with an updated guideline for cleanliness that owners must follow in addition to Villas of Distinctions already rigorous vetting process. They are also looking into modifying cancellation policies in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence.

Glamping

Nothing says back to nature like sleeping under the stars. Pitching a tent in the backyard and dragging out a couple of sleeping bags probably doesn’t cut it anymore after weeks stuck at home. With glamping, you can sleep in a cozy bed with a fire going in a semi-permanent tent complete with a private bathroom and shower. Instead of your back porch, you have the glory of a national park or another part of the great outdoors to explore with companies such as Excursionist and Under Canvas. There’s a kitchen serving up gourmet fare and S’more making around the campfire at night.

You can take private guided excursions during the day, including some awe-inspiring experiences such as lunch on the rim of the Grand Canyon after a morning of hiking, or riding a zipline through the canopy of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Whichever option you choose, let’s rediscover America this summer!

The Importance of Wellness

Wellness is about so much more than a trip to the spa. As we emerge from our shelters and begin traveling again, we will all have some feelings to work through after such a profound change to outlook and way of life. As part of our Travel Dreaming series, Largay president Amanda Klimak spoke with Dora Karanikas of Hidden Doorways, Rebecca Soloff of Six Senses and Janine Cifelli of Janine Cifelli Representation about the comprehensive wellness programs offered at destinations they represent.

“It’s about well-being. It’s about the mind, the body and the spirit, not just about the spa and getting a massage in a beautiful spot–which we do believe in,” Soloff said, explaining the Six Senses ethos. “We believe it’s much more than that.”

Each visit to a Six Senses property is an immersive experience that focuses on the totality of a person. For example, if you’re having trouble with sleep, as many of us have been during self-isolation measures, Six Senses can do a sleep analysis and assessment at many of its resorts. While you can’t travel there now, the At Home with Six Senses program offers live meditation and yoga, cooking classes utilizing Eat With Six Senses philosophy and tips for staying connected with other people.

Cifelli represents JL Bar Ranch in Texas’ Hill Country, which is scheduled to reopen May 20. The horse program there helps visitors find a peace within themselves.

“Horses in general are a direct reflection of you,” she related. “If you’re a mess, the horse is a mess.” If you’re trying to mount a horse and you’re tense, the horse senses that and tenses up as well. So, in earning the horse’s trust, you have to find a place of calm in your own mind. That ability to achieve that inner peace carries forward long after you leave the ranch.

At Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, there is no cell service, so those of who can’t put our phones down are forced to let go and enjoy their surroundings. Don’t worry, you can still make calls over the internet in case of emergencies, but otherwise you’ll be too busy immersing yourself in wilderness.

“We can take the most Type A personality and actually calm them down,” Cifelli said. “It’s a very spiritual experience.”

In their efforts to redefine wellness, Chablé Maroma and Chablé Resort in Mexico’s Yucatan provide temazcal ceremonies with shamans. “Everyone who’s ever done it comes out totally changed,” after two hours of steam and gratitude, Karanikas said.

The physical experience of wellness is very much tied in with the culture of the destination, making each experience unique. Meanwhile, it’s your vacation, so do wellness your way. If that means relaxing with a cocktail, so be it. At BodyHoliday in St. Lucia, there are dozens of options for classes and treatments, but there’s also no pressure to take part in any of them. That’s one of the qualities that makes it a great place to get into wellness travel, and with Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal.

“Wellness is what you make of it,” Karanikas said. “So many people have turned to focusing on themselves and their wellness at home. Know that you can take that with you when you travel if you want to.”

These destinations offer flexible change and cancellation policies, so you can plan your wellness getaway with the peace of mind knowing you won’t be on the hook if the pandemic wreaks more havoc on plans.

“Our health, both physical and mental, is everything,” Klimak said. “Without our health we have nothing.”