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.
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.
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!
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 a woman in China discovered this month. 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 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.
It’s never too early to think about next ski season. 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. Luxury retreats has 4,500 in 100 highly sought-after locations. Now aren’t you glad you don’t have to worry about an Airbnb host dropping by without
notice during your romantic dinner?
By Landa Mauriello-Vernon
It’s an oenophile’s dream to taste favorite vintages on their own terroir. As lovers of food and wine ourselves, we’re experienced when it comes to enjoying the world’s best wine regions. It’s a tough job, but we’ll go to great lengths to ensure time well spent for our travelers. From our journeys, here are a few of our favorite wine tours with Virtuoso-preferred partners.
Step out of your room and into a vineyard at Casa de Uco, a wine resort in the Uco Valley. In the foothills of the Andes, under a brilliant blue sky, you can taste wines in their natural habitat and learn how much difference even subtle changes in the landscape make to grapes growing within a few hundred yards of each other. Make your own blend at The Vines Resort & Spa, where you can also ride with the Gauchos. There’s plenty of great steaks and fresh produce to pair with your Malbec.
Marlborough, New Zealand
Abercrombie & Kent’s Wine in the Wilderness private tour whisks you away to a remote beach in Abel Tasman National Park. A hike in between a gourmet lunch and a dinner loaded with seafood and local wine helps you burn off the calories while taking in some majestic scenery. Visit a handful wineries outside Picton on ShoreTrips’ 6-hour Marlborough Wine Country Immersion tour. After lunch at one of the world’s southernmost wineries, you’ll stop off at a boutique chocolate shop. It makes for a perfect day trip or shore excursion.
Napa & Sonoma, California
With accommodations at Meadowood Resort and Vineyard and Farmhouse Inn over the course of five days, American Excursionist’s Napa & Sonoma for Connoisseurs leaves no leaf unturned as you get tasting tips from a master sommelier and spend a morning among the vines. At meal times, savor the fruit of those vines at Michelin-starred restaurants as they complement farm-to-table delights. Wine is tops on the list of activities, but cheese and seafood are wonderful in supporting roles.
Bordeaux. Burgundy. Champagne. Côtes du Rhone. France has more than its share of excellent wine regions. Chocolatine’s Tour de France of Wine features vintages from six of those regions at a tasting just footsteps from the Louvre in Paris. In 2 hours, your sommelier will teach you everything from how to read a label to which grapes grow in which regions and why they thrive there. Even if it all goes in one ear and out the other, at the very least you’ll get to taste some extraordinary wines.
Cape Winelands, South Africa
An hour outside Cape Town lie some absolutely gorgeous landscapes that producing world-class wines. The 26-room Mont Rochelle hotel and vineyard offers A Romance Getaway in the Cape Winelands that includes a picnic lunch with a tasting of three varietals. To help you relax even further, there’s also a couples’ hammam session featuring Cape Malay spices and essential oils. Combine the three-night stay with a honeymoon safari or just a break from the city during a Cape Town trip.