Mom: She does it all for the family. That’s been even more than usual over the last 14 months. She could use a vacation, and you can be the one to give it to her. No matter her travel style or what she could use right now — a getaway with the whole family or getting away from everything including the family — we have the trip for her. Peruse these trips and see what’s best for the lady who keeps it all together in your household. Then contact your travel advisor to book or give the gift of travel for a future vacation.
Sometimes mom just needs a break from it all. That need has probably never been more pronounced as it is right now. Solo travel can be just the thing she needs to recharge and come back refreshed. Expedition and adventure travel are particularly great for solo travelers. There’s nothing like going to the ends of the earth far from the nearest town to get away from it all. Your travel advisor can often find a special departure for the journey mom wants that has a waived single supplement. There are even tours that specialize in solo female travelers. Often, women make friends with like-minded adventurers and they plan their next “solo” trip as a group.
Maybe mom wants to venture out on her but doesn’t have time to go to the more remote areas of the world. A long weekend at a wellness resort complete with spa treatments, room service and sleeping in can do the trick. A spa getaway is also great for a mother-daughter outing, whether it’s mom and young children and or adult children and their mothers. There’s nothing like focusing on you and forgetting your troubles for a while. And even if you can’t be far from civilization, there’s plenty of open space and a nice hiking trail.
Everybody’s all in one place, a mobile hotel that takes you to a different land almost every day. There’s plenty onboard to keep the kids entertained. There are shows and events for the whole family. There’s a great variety of culinary experiences. There are excellent shore excursion options that help you go deep into each destination. Cruise lines have worked extremely hard to ensure safety once sailings resume. Whether it’s a large ship with its own water slides and surf simulators or a yacht with movies on deck and sleeping under the stars, a cruise is one thing mom loves: convenient.
Family and multigenerational travel
Even if you’ve all been stuck at home together there’s something different about being all together somewhere else. You’re experiencing new things and going on adventures together, broadening your horizons and forging deeper family bonds. Maybe you haven’t been able to get together with the grandparents throughout the pandemic and now’s the time to get the whole gang back together. There are plenty of trips that are great for any age. Beaches, theme parks and especially safaris come to mind. This year, get mom whatever type of trip she wants. She’s certainly earned it.
Do you want to feel like you are on your own private yacht sailing around the Caribbean and or the Mediterranean? With just 112 guests, SeaDream Yacht Club, whose tagline is “It’s yachting, not cruising” sets the stage for an intimate setting while you SAIL to some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.
Here in this video, I am with Kris Endreson, VP of Sales USA of SeaDream Yacht Club. She tells us why SeaDream is so special and what a guest can expect to experience on a SeaDream sailing.
After so much bad news and so many border closures throughout the pandemic, we’ll take good news whenever we can get it. And we’ve been getting great news lately. Every American adult is now eligible for vaccination. French Polynesia just reopened May 1. The same day, fully vaccinated Americans could enter the Bahamas without a negative COVID test.
Perhaps best of all, European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen told the New York Times that the E.U. “will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Agency. Those include Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the three vaccines available in the U.S. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union,” she said.
She was scant on details as to a time frame, but it appears we might be able to enjoy a favorite pastime, a summer vacation to Europe.
Non-E.U. member Iceland has already begun welcoming fully vaccinated travelers or those with a negative PCR test from the U.S. Greece, an E.U. member, will begin doing so May 14. Fully vaccinated travelers are also welcome in Croatia, Montenegro and Cyprus without quarantine or testing.
On Friday, France announced a start date of June 9 for the same conditions. No official announcement has been made yet, but fully vaccinated Americans could be welcome in the U.K. as soon as May 17. Spain is piloting a digital health certificate system at all its airports in preparation for reopening.
“Spain is going to be ready in June to tell all travelers worldwide that you can visit us,” Fernando Valdes Verelst, Spain’s secretary of state for tourism, said at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Cancun last week.
The E.U. parliament has approved the creation of a union-wide pass that would allow fully vaccinated travelers to traverse the 27-country bloc freely, though individual member states will likely be allowed to impose their own restrictions.
The number of days after your final shot that qualifies for “fully vaccinated” varies by country, so be sure to check with your travel advisor before making plans. There’s more work to be done before all of Europe is accessible, but strides are being made every day and the good news keeps rolling in.
This week we celebrate World Heritage day and the many wonderful UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered across the globe. This summer, new sites will join the list after the pandemic put a pause on the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2020. Only recently visited by humanity, Antarctica doesn’t have any entries on the list (though New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands made the cut). These are the most popular World Heritage sites on each continent. The best part is you can visit several of these now or in the near future. Peru, Tanzania and U.S. national parks are open, and France is finalizing plans to welcome vaccinated travelers starting in May. Consult your travel advisor for details on COVID protocols in each destination.
Officially part of the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang on the list, the Forbidden City was a seat of power in China for about 500 years. The complex was home to 24 emperors, the last being Puyi, who abdicated in 1912. Nearly 10,000 rooms in the Forbidden City are decorated with priceless artworks and surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens and provide valuable insight into the courtly life of some of the most powerful dynasties the world has seen.
Great Smoky Mountains
North America’s entrant attracts more than 11 million visitors in a normal year, nearly twice the amount of people who visit the Grand Canyon. With all kinds of fluctuations in elevation, Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts a wide diversity of plant and animal life. There’s some type of flower in bloom basically year-round, and synchronous fireflies put on a natural light show around May and June. The 11-mile Cades Cove loop features historic buildings and a variety of wildlife and is the most popular area of the park.
Banks of the Seine
Though Italy ties with China for the most World Heritage sites in an individual country, France has bragging rights for Europe’s most visited site, right in the heart of Paris. There are so many marvelous buildings running up and down the banks of the river that they all combine into one super site. A nice walk can take you by Notre-Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Pont Neuf, Place de la Concorde and other testaments to the architectural and historical significance of the City of Light.
Sydney Opera House
The most recently created entry on this list, this icon of Australia in Sydney Harbour got its signature shell design from Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who solved the problem of how to make the shells a reality after watching an orange being peeled. The visionary design was ahead of its time, and Utzon grew so frustrated he left midway through construction and wasn’t there when the finished product was dedicated. For his efforts, though, he won the Pritzker Prize in 2003 and became the second living person to have a building of his to make the World Heritage list.
The culmination of a series of complexes the Incas built high in the Andes, Peru’s defining monument was made known to the outside world just 110 years ago. It encompasses about 200 buildings almost 8,000 feet above sea level, including the Temple of the Sun. The working city included agricultural areas as well as religious and astronomical sites. Estimates suggest about 750 people lived at Machu Picchu, which was well-preserved thanks to the fact that the Spanish conquistadors never found it.
Serengeti National Park
Home to the annual Great Migration of 2 million wildebeests plus hundreds of thousands of gazelles and zebras, the park covers 1.5 million hectares and is adjacent to another World Heritage site, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Together they weave a beautiful story about the animal kingdom and the origins of humanity. It is the quintessential safari spot, where visitors come to see lions, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and all manner of famed wildlife. Olduvai Gorge in the Ngorongoro area is where archaeologists have found the oldest discovered remains of the human genus in Homo habilis, along with other early hominids.
Even to the people we call the ancients, Egypt was ancient. The pyramids at Giza had lorded over the Western Desert for two thousand years before the Roman Republic was founded, let alone the empire. The mysteries of the Land of the Pharaohs have intrigued travelers as illustrious as Alexander the Great, who founded Alexandria and conveniently discovered he was the son of a god and rightful ruler of Egypt on a visit to the oasis at Siwa. The fertile Land of the Nile and its queen Cleopatra VII captivated prominent Romans Julius Caesar and Marc Antony and became the breadbasket of the empire.
Egypt has played a key role in the major monotheistic religions, with Jews celebrating their Exodus from slavery there to their home in the Promised Land, and holding prominent positions in municipal life in Alexandria from its founding. In Christian tradition, the Gospel of Matthew details the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt to save baby Jesus’ life, and Coptic Christians living in Egypt still number around 10 million. Islam came to Egypt less than 20 years after the religion’s founding through Arabian conquest and has been a major part of life there since, with nearly 90 percent of the population today practicing.
In recent years, after the fallout from the 2011 revolution, Egypt has re-emerged as a popular destination. Open throughout most of the pandemic, it’s been one of the go-to international spots for travelers, who have had all those antiquities largely to themselves. Few sights are as imposing and awe-inspiring as the pyramids and Sphinx towering above you against the desert backdrop. But the hits don’t stop there. At Sakkara you can view an even older pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser and at Memphis, the ruins of the Old Kingdom capital. At Luxor you’ll find more than 400,000 square feet of well-preserved temples on the banks of the Nile.
A cruise along the river will take you past the Valley of the Kings, the engineer marvel of the Aswan High Dam, the island Temple of Isis and Philae and the Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, which was rediscovered underneath the sands in the 19th century and taken apart and reassembled piece by piece to accommodate construction of the dam in the 1960s. Sailing Egypt’s lifeblood of a river was enough to seduce Caesar, the historian Appian tells us, and it will entrance you as well.
Before heading home, you can explore the modern metropolis of Cairo, one of the world’s largest cities, and Faiyum, a city with more than 4,000 years of habitation. They’re part of the mystical blend of old and new Egypt delivers.
COVID entry protocols: Travelers arriving from North America must present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of departure for Egypt. The certificate must be written in English and Arabic and be stamped by an accredited laboratory. All travelers must complete a personal monitoring card and show proof of health insurance on arrival.
Where to stay
Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza
In the heart of Cairo on the banks of the River Nile, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza opens the door to discovering Egypt’s 5,000-year-old ancient mysteries, minutes away from the majestic pyramids, Egyptian museum, and 1,000-year-old market. The heartbeat of the Nile, Four Seasons provides a sense of discovery and excitement with views of vibrant Cairo, nine stellar dining experiences, and the most authentic spa in the city. Opulent, bright rooms offer the perfect blend of comfort, space, and style with triple-glazed windows to ensure quiet, deep soaking tubs, Wi-Fi, and views of the Nile or the 12th-century citadel.
Four Seasons Hotel Cairo, at The First Residence
In the heart of Cairo, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence encompasses enchanting views of the Nile River, Great Pyramids, and botanical gardens. The hotel boasts 262 rooms, including 50 suites, which are among the city’s most spacious and lavish. Spend the day lounging by the pool, indulging in an aromatic massage at The Spa, shopping three floors of high-end boutiques at The First Mall, or entertaining yourself at the world-class casino. Steps away from the hotel is the First Nile Boat, a culinary and lifestyle location featuring a Brazilian grill, pan-Asian cuisine, a Greek taverna, and a fashionable nightspot.
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan
From your private terrace at Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan, watch feluccas as they sail past Elephantine Island. Most of the 138 rooms and suites offer Nile views; choose from the original Byzantine-style historic palace or the lavishly contemporary Nile Wing. Regally perched atop a pink-granite shelf, this Victorian-era hotel has been extensively renovated with French and Middle Eastern decor while still maintaining its period grandeur. Choose from six restaurants and bars, including the signature 1902 restaurant, serving nouvelle cuisine under a 65-foot dome. The So SPA is a wellness temple in the heart of Nubia.
The Oberoi Zahra, Luxury Nile Cruise
Discover 5,000 years of Egyptian culture on a seven-day cruise between Luxor and Aswan aboard The Oberoi Zahra. With just 27 cabins and suites, The Oberoi Zahra offers some of the most spacious, private accommodations on the river Nile. All have high-speed Wi-Fi and river views. The restaurant has a daily, changing à la carte menu, while the spa offers a wide range of treatments. The cruiser also has an open-air, temperature-controlled pool. While aboard the cruiser, guests can experience traditional dance and music performances.