This year, we’re thankful for the grind, but you’d better book soon

We are over the moon to see many of our favorite destinations reopen to tourism this year, and we’re very much looking forward to more countries reopening next year. We’re willing to bet there’s a place or two you’re excited about returning to or visiting for the first time in 2022. The thing is, so is everybody else.

If you’ve tried booking a trip only to find it’s already sold out, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, you wouldn’t believe how quickly things like cruises and group tours are selling out. In a normal year, you could book your summer vacation or festive trip a couple months out and not run into many issues. As you’ve probably guessed, this is not a normal year.

For summer 2022 and even for next year’s holiday season, the time to start planning your travel is now. Space is only going to get tighter, and 2022 is on pace to smash travel records as people go on the last two years’ worth of missed vacations in epic fashion. Revenge travel is real, and demand is sky-high. So, while you’re gathered with family and close friends at the Thanksgiving table, it’s a good idea to discuss the trips you want to take in the coming year. You don’t want to miss out.

With COVID entry protocols, passport renewal logjams and places filling up fast, there are so many more moving parts to going on your dream journey than you remember from the pre-pandemic era. The value that a good travel advisor brings has never been more important. We will do everything in our power to ensure your next trip is as spectacular as you’ve imagined these last couple of years. But you’d be doing us and yourself a favor if you start the process now.

We are so, so thankful to still be here, making dreams come true for our travelers. And we are ever thankful for you. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to spend our days doing what we love, even when it becomes challenging and complicated. There are countless unforgettable moments ahead. The time to start making them a reality is now.

A return to France, which is just as lovely as you remember

Paris is always a good idea. Even now though you might notice some COVID precautions, and some more bicycles thanks to new bike lanes, it’s as always an excellent time to visit Paris.

“France is back, and Paris was buzzing,” says Largay Travel advisor Lydia Ganz, who recently led a group of advisors on their own tour de France.

The process for obtaining a COVID pass is very simple if you’re fully vaccinated, Ganz said, and it’s your ticket into restaurants and shops. You’ll also need advance reservations to enter museums, which still have limited capacity.

But Paris is still Paris. “It’s the same city,” Ganz said. “It didn’t feel any different.”

The hotels — including the stylish Fauchon hotel, with iconic Mansard roof, Eiffel Tower views and proximity to the Champs-Élysées — are almost completely booked, so you’ll want to plan ahead.

In about three or three and a half hours on the TGV, you can be down to Avignon and immersed in the simple pleasures of Provence. Avignon was the home of the popes for most of the 14th century, and the medieval city center including their palace, cathedral and a 13th-century bridge across the Rhône forms a UNESCO World Heritage site.

About 25 miles to the south in Les Baux, the Carrières de Lumières is a former that now hosts art shows, with famous paintings projected onto the ancient rocks and set to music (through Jan. 16 works from Cézanne and Kandinsky are featured). Just up the road is Saint-Rémy, where van Gogh was a patient at Saint-Paul Asylum and painted some of his best-known works, including “Starry Night.”

As you make your way to the Côte d’Azur, Relais & Châteaux properties such as Domaine de Fontenille and Château de Fonscolombe provide beautiful country respites to enjoy the sweet fresh air of the South of France.

The romance of the Riviera is impossible to escape in Antibes, especially if you’re staying at the Hôtel Belles Rives, where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “Tender is the Night,” and visit the castle Picasso once used as a studio and is now a museum showcasing his work. Art from many periods is on display in the collection at Le Negresco in Nice, itself a work of art and monument to the Lost Generation and others who have found solace in a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais.

With the sunshine on your face and the sea breeze all around, you’ll know for yourself that France is back, and it’s always a good idea.

Antigua’s Private Island Paradise, Jumby Bay

Hi,

Hope you are having a great week.

Looking for a private island getaway? Jumby Bay in Antigua is a 300-acre private island resort, part of the Oetker Collection, and a 64-room Virtuoso property consisting of oceanfront suites, villas, and private residences. It has 2 white sand beaches, a pool, water sports, tennis courts, fitness center, spa, and sauna. You can snorkel, sail, bike, take a sunset cruise and or learn about their Hawksbill Turtle project, a privately funded project that focuses on the scientific study of the endangered Hawksbill Turtle.

Your Virtuoso amenities when booking with me here are:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast (included in rates)
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay, applicable for Food & Beverage or Spa treatments (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Welcome Culinary Amenity
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Contact Stefany with any questions and or to see if we can apply a promotion to your stay at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com.

Destination Spotlight: India

India is home to approximately one out of every six people on Earth and more than 50,000 years of human history. To put it bluntly, there is a lot to see and do there. After a year and a half, the country is open to fully vaccinated visitors, starting Oct. 15 with charter flights and Nov. 15 with commercial flights. With so much space and time to explore, it’s tough to know where to start.

The Ganges, sacred river of Hinduism, is a great bet. Rivers were the lifeblood of ancient societies, and the Ganges basin remains one of the most agriculturally fertile and populous places in the world. So much of spiritual life is centered on the river, especially in Varanasi, a holy city which hosts several festivals throughout the year.

In the same itinerary you can see the other gems of Northern India: Agra and Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; the pink city of Jaipur, dotted with resplendent architecture and UNESCO World heritage sites and gateway to the rest of Rajasthan, a romantic land of palaces and lakes.

India is also still a wild place, and Ranthambore National Park and Kanha Tiger Reserve make the perfect destinations for a subcontinental safari. Powerful Bengal tigers burn bright in the forests, alongside leopards, crocodiles, sloth bears, macaques and hundreds of bird species. It’s “The Jungle Book” in real life, and you get to play Mowgli.

Moving south you once again encounter an entirely new land. On the central west coast stretching from Mumbai to Goa you’ll see the remnants of European colonial life, from military forts to houses of worship left behind by the British and Portuguese. You’ll see even older traces of even older civilizations on Elephanta Island. And for those who live in the now, there are myriad beaches and nightclubs along the way.

Still farther south, the landscape turns more tropical. A long way from the frigid foothills of the Himalayas, average temperatures hover in the 80s all year. What states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu do have in common with places to the far north like Assam are elevation, and the tea plantations that come with it. Ghats — mountain ranges impressive in their own right — run up and down the western and eastern coasts, enveloping the Deccan Plateau and giving home to a diverse range of wildlife. This is the land of spices and monsoons, where the rains hit first and stay longest.

From the Himalayas, where the Ganges begins its long journey, to the Indian Ocean, India remains a land apart.

COVID-19 entry protocols

After considering various inputs, the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to begin granting of fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from October 15, 2021. Visitors must be fully vaccinated and have a negative test taken within 72 hours before departure to India.

Where to stay

The Ultimate Travelling Camp

Nomadic living takes a decidedly luxurious turn with The Ultimate Travelling Camp. This modern-day luxury presents itself in the most remote locations in India. Guests are immersed in a range of signature experiences: prayer ceremonies at Himalayan Buddhist monasteries, rafting along the Indus River, camel safaris on dunes of the Old Silk Route, the Hornbill Festival, and Naga tribal hamlets. All the while glamping in stylishly appointed, air-conditioned tents, and tended to by personal valets. Camp amenities include a library, handicrafts boutique, wellness center, and dining tent offering organic cuisine and culinary classes.

The Leela Palace Udaipur

Pure escapism can only begin to describe The Leela Palace Udaipur. Gracing the banks of picturesque Lake Pichola, this modern, palatial hotel entices with luxurious amenities and authentic experiences – from butler service in each of the 80 warmly appointed, lake-facing rooms to magical evenings filled with Rajasthani folk music and dancing. Surround yourself in marble, rich woods, crystal chandeliers, and fine Indian artwork, and soothe tired muscles with an exotic spa treatment at ESPA the Spa. The executive chef’s cuisine is praised throughout Udaipur; savor the experience in the elegant dining room or a private alcove.

Aman-i-Khás

Aman-i-Khás, an impeccable resort at the edge of world-renowned Ranthambore park, invites guests to go on a safari into the park in search of tigers and leopards, and enjoy the rustic luxury of its stylish tent accommodations, complete with bathroom, bedroom, and dining area. Excursions are easily customized to personal tastes. The park is a wildlife sanctuary and home to thousands of creatures, including more than 350 species of birds. Later, make your way to the spa tent for its menu of massages, scrubs, facials, and invigorating foot treatments.

The Oberoi Rajvilās

Situated amid 32 acres of landscaped gardens dotted with reflection pools and fountains, The Oberoi Rajvilās is an oasis of peace built around an 18th-century temple to Shiva, where you can renew your wedding vows with a Hindu priest, or practice meditation and yoga. Traditional techniques were used throughout the resort to replicate the famous pink walls of Jaipur, and gold-leaf frescoes and high-domed ceilings pay homage to the city’s Mughal past. The restaurants have indoor and alfresco seating and live folk music in the evenings. Located in a restored 18th-century mansion, the spa offers signature Oberoi treatments.

Highlights of my experience on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island

Hi,

Hope you are having a good week.

Are you looking for some fun-in-the-sun time on a private island that also has a flock of flamingos, lemurs, giant tortoises, turtles, birds and iguanas around? On Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island all the Balinese-inspired houses boast a beautiful view and if you are looking for a well-known tennis and or kitesurfing expert for lessons, this is your spot.

Here is a video of the highlights of my stay and a look at a few of the gorgeous homes on the island. It is a great place for singles, couples and or families to come together for a celebration trip!

 

If you don’t want the island for exclusive use, you can book a room during one of their Celebration Weeks.

I wrote a blog post of my experience on Necker and Moskito Islands; you can read it here: https://dmctraveltailor.com/my-experience-at-sir-richard-bransons-necker-and-moskito-private-islands/

For any questions on Necker Island, please contact Stefany at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com.

With passion and adventure,

Stefany

Destination Spotlight: Ireland

Irish eyes will be smiling for us once more when the Emerald Isle reopens to tourism from outside the E.U. on July 19. It’s just in time to savor the last couple months of the glorious Irish summer and early autumn. With average high temperatures in the 60s, it’s a beautiful place to escape the heat. The island shimmers with greenery throughout the long summer days, making an indelible impression on travelers’ memories. Dublin is a great place to start to learn about the country’s history and culture before you set out into the countryside. As the Irish will tell you, if you’ve only seen Dublin, you haven’t seen Ireland. A great way to do so is by car, starting in the east with Dublin and ending in Shannon in the west (or vice versa), preclearing U.S. customs on your way out.

Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the capital to see where the country’s patron saint baptized converts to Christianity and admire the illuminated manuscript of the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Get some fresh air in the urban oases of Phoenix Park and St. Stephen’s Green or walk in the footsteps of great writers such as Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, or their characters, such as James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom, who mused that a “good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub.” While a computer programmer has figured out that such a thing can be done, there’s no reason not to stop in for a pint at the Guinness Brewery or Temple Bar area.

Proceeding clockwise around the island from Dublin, you’ll encounter Kilkenny and Waterford. Kilkenny is home to an 800-year-old Norman castle and eye-catching architecture from several periods, including the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras. It’s also known for its modern cultural aesthetic, with art galleries, design workshops and theaters making it a popular destination. Waterford retains well-preserved sections of city walls and towers. The Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre allows tour guests to see master craftspeople shape the world-famous crystal into intricate designs. On your way west, stop at the Rock of Cashel, a group of buildings at the ancient seat of the kings of Munster.

The Republic of Ireland’s second-largest city, Cork has a much more intimate feel than the much-larger Dublin and is a great place for a walking tour. One of County Cork’s best walks is the distillery trail at the Jameson Heritage Centre, where you can learn all about the famous whiskey and sample a dram or two. In the southwest corner of the island lie the 110 miles of the Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile loop beginning in Killarney that takes you through charming villages, past castles and into ancient wilderness. Less crowded and no less beautiful is the Dingle Peninsula, a natural gem rich in archaeological sites.

Offering striking views and excellent hiking, the Cliffs of Moher rise as high as 700 feet above Galway Bay and the North Atlantic. Farther inland, the Burren is an entrancing moonscape of desolate beauty formed of the rocks that give rise to the cliffs. Dozens of large neolithic tombs are scattered throughout the area, dating back thousands of years. Continuing north, you come to the lively city of Galway, a center of traditional Irish language and music. Thanks to its status as a university town, Galway boasts some of Ireland’s best nightlife and serves a centrally located base for venturing on the 1,550-mile Wild Atlantic Way.

A mix of wilderness and quaint villages, the counties of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal are a great way to conclude your Irish odyssey. Attractions include the mountains of Connemara National Park, Achill Island and the 2,500-foot Croagh Patrick, a pilgrimage site dedicated to the patron saint. Towns of note are the carefully designed Westport, William Butler Yeats’ boyhood home of Sligo and historical Ballina, a key site in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

COVID entry protocols

If a passenger has valid proof of vaccination, no travel-related testing or quarantine will be necessary.

If passenger does not have valid proof of vaccination, they will need to:

  • present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to arrival into the country

  • self-quarantine

  • undergo post-arrival testing

Should the U.S. be added to Ireland’s “emergency brake” list, the protocols would apply:

If passenger has valid proof of vaccination, they will need to:

  • produce a negative result from a RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival

  • undergo self-quarantine

  • undergo post-arrival testing – this will be provided through the HSE

If passenger does not have valid proof of vaccination, they will need to:

  • produce evidence of a negative result from a PCR test undertaken no more than 72 hours before arrival

  • undergo mandatory hotel quarantine

  • undergo post-arrival testing

Where to stay

The Merrion Hotel

The Merrion, Dublin’s most stylish five-star hotel, is set in the city center. Housed in four Georgian townhouses and a contemporary Garden Wing, its bedrooms and suites surround two 18th-century-style gardens. Stunningly restored interiors provide the perfect backdrop for one of Ireland’s most impressive private art collections. Choose from three dining options: Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (Ireland’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant), The Garden Room restaurant, and The Cellar Bar. Art Afternoon Tea service is available in the gracious Georgian drawing rooms. Indulge in a massage or facial in the new Merrion Spa & Health Club.

Mount Juliet Estate

There is a legacy to the Mount Juliet experience that stretches far beyond the luxury of the bedrooms and the decadence of the dining options. Perhaps you feel the urge to thunder through open pastures and traipse across woodland trails on horseback. Maybe you want to feel the tug on your line and the splash from the River Nore as a salmon takes your bait. And have you ever felt the singular rush of an arrow flying forth from your bow or a falcon swooping down to land at your command? We offer a unique range of activities on the estate, unparalleled in the way they combine deep-seated historical traditions with the best modern equipment.

Sheen Falls Lodge

Sheen Falls Lodge, in verdant southwest Ireland, is a privately owned country house retreat. Guests are treated to a magnificent natural holiday and are encouraged to explore the surrounding woodlands, Sheen River, and cascading waterfalls while enjoying hiking, biking, horseback riding, salmon fishing, falconry, and kayaking. There are numerous championship and parkland golf courses nearby, some with breathtaking views of the sea. If the spa lifestyle is more your cup of tea, head to the Easanna Wellness & Spa for treatments using Elemis and Voya organic products, or take a dip in the indoor swimming pool.

Ashford Castle

Through the grand stone gates, a royal adventure begins. This remarkable 800-year-old castle, widely recognized as Ireland’s top castle destination and once home to the Guinness family, is exceptional in every sense. Set in 350 acres of woodland on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, the property has received multiple awards and accolades. Enjoy extraordinary dining experiences and fine Irish cuisine, watch hawks soar at Ireland’s first school of falconry, and restore inner peace at the state-of-the-art spa. Warm smiles from the extraordinary characters of the castle will greet you at every turn.Ireland’s only Forbes Five Star Hotel.