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.

Destination Spotlight: Thailand

Having already reintroduced tourism to the popular islands of Phuket and Ko Samui, Thailand will allow fully vaccinated travelers to go anywhere in the country. Visitors must present a negative COVID test to enter the country, then test again on arrival and spend one night in a government-approved hotel to await results. When that test comes back negative, travelers are free to roam the entirety of this enchanted land.

A journey through Thailand encompasses spectacular beaches on the islands in the Andaman Sea and in the Gulf of Thailand, floating markets in Bangkok, beautiful temples and majestic elephants. It’s a spiritual journey even if you eschew the temples and worship only at the stalls of street food vendors.

You fly into Bangkok, a city of approximately 11 million residents, the central hub of the country, full of bustling streets and waterways along the Chao Phraya River. Must-sees are the Grand Palace, built in the 1780s when King Rama I moved the capital to what is now known as Bangkok, and the adjacent Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses a 15th-century statue of the Buddha (actually made of jasper) that has long been a symbol of the nation.

About 60 miles outside the city, a series of small canals leads you right into the heart of the busy Damnoen Saduak floating market. Vendors sell colorful fruits and vegetables from their boats, and you can grab a snack of noodles from one of the many cooks making street food, or should we say boat food.

South of the capital, Phuket, Ko Samui and the Phi Phi islands attract beachgoers seek out the clear waters and otherworldly landscapes. At times, the islands have become too popular, leading to a degradation of the beauty that brought people there in the first place. The Thai government has taken great care in recent years to restore and preserve the natural environment, at times closing certain islands to tourism.

Northern Thailand forms part of the Golden Triangle, where its border intersects with Laos and Myanmar. This is the land that gives us the famed Thai cuisine we know so well, and you can learn to make your favorites with a cooking lesson in classic Thai cooking. It’s also home to temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, which hundreds of years ago housed the Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok. And of course, it’s the land of massive elephants, and you can walk alongside these gentle giants as they lumber through ancient forests in this golden land.

COVID-19 entry protocols

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to confirm that Thailand is all set to welcome fully vaccinated foreign visitors, including returning Thais and foreign residents, from the approved countries to enter the Kingdom by air with no quarantine requirements from 1 November, 2021.

  1. A Certificate of Entry (COE) or a proof of registration for entry Thailand via specified platform. Currently, the COE can be applied online https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/.

  2. A Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

    • A Medical Certificate of Recovery is also required from those having a lab result with COVID-19 detected to show that that have recovered from COVID-19 no later than 3 months.

  3. An insurance policy, with coverage clearly identified as no less than US$50,000, which should cover the cost of the treatment and other medical expenses associated with being infected with COVID-19, including in-patient hospitalisation for the whole duration in Thailand. *Except for Thai citizens who are entitled to the national health insurance system.*

  4. A payment confirmation for no less than a 1-night stay upon arrival at the approved quarantine facilities (Alternative Quarantine – AQ, Organisation Quarantine – OQ, or Alternative Hospital Quarantine – AHQ), or SHA Plus-certified hotel.

    • The prepayment should cover both the 1-night accommodation, the required RT-PCR COVID-19 test, and an Antigen Test Kit (ATK).

  5. A Certificate of Vaccination (fully vaccinated).

    • For those fully vaccinated, proof includes a Certificate of Vaccination with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) (see here) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) (see here) no less than 14 days before their travel date.

    • and a Certificate of Vaccination with at least one dose of the approved vaccine at least 14 days before their travel date.

    • Travellers under 12 years of age, travelling with their parents or guardians, are exempt from this vaccination requirement, but must have a Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

  6. Undergo the entry screening (health screening and Immigration procedures) upon arrival at Thailand’s International Airport, and submit all the required documentation to the officials.

  7. Then proceed directly by the approved airport transfer to the pre-arranged COVID-19 test centre, or the reserved accommodation and undergo the required RT-PCR COVID-19 test on Day 0-1.

    • Travellers must download and install the specified alert application (MorChana), and must wait within the accommodation only for the test result, which should be available within the day.

    • If testing negative for COVID-19, travellers can go anywhere in Thailand

Where to stay

Rosewood Bangkok

Rosewood Bangkok’s visually striking design is inspired by the wai, the graceful Thai hand gesture of greeting. Such creative, cultural expression is emphasized in every element of this contemporary hotel and its 158 residential-style accommodations, which include a host of one-of-a-kind specialty suites and houses featuring plunge pools and expansive terraces. Dining options include the 19th-floor Nan Bei, serving authentic Chinese cuisine and sweeping views; an elegant European brasserie; and the upscale G&O café, with a farm-to-table ethos. The spa calms with ancient Thai healing rituals.

Banyan Tree Samui

Escape from all traces of the outside world at Banyan Tree Samui. Set above sapphire-blue Lamai Bay, the resort occupies its own secluded cove, so you can snuggle in a beachside cabana with nary another soul in sight. The 88 contemporary Thai villas are staggered about jungled terraces for optimal, gasp-inducing views; each has its own pool. Take an electric buggy up to Saffron restaurant for a spin on local cuisine; for added romance, reserve a private pavilion on the beach. Aquatic adventures include kayaking, windsurfing, and stand-up paddleboarding; or go snorkeling on the house reef of the resort’s private bay.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort

Perched on a jungle ridge in northern Thailand overlooking the border with Myanmar and Laos, Anantara Golden Triangle immerses you in once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Wake up with Elephants in our unique transparent Jungle Bubbles. Enjoy the “Discovery package,” offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as round-trip transportation from Chiang Rai airport and an opium-museum visit. Choose your activities: walking with elephants, a three-country tour, a spa treatment, or a cooking class. Rest in luxurious accommodations: a Deluxe Three-Country View Room, Three-Country View Suite, or Three-Country View Family Suite.

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

A haven of well-being set in a valley of rice fields, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai offers 64 elegant pavilions with outdoor decks, as well as 23 residences ranging from one to four bedrooms, and 12 one-bedroom pool villas, each with gardens and a private pool. Inspired by the social harmony of Thailand, The Spa offers rituals based on ancient native herbs, spices, and oils. Indulge in private dining at the Orchid Nursery or a culinary journey at Khao, Rim Tai Kitchen, or Terraces. Wellness experiences, ranging from active to cultural, include lessons with an in-house yogi, rice planting, and cycling around Mae Rim Valley.

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.

Milan, city of elegance and fashion

Hi,

Hope you are well.

I recently returned from Milan, Italy. It was a great week of meeting with travel partners, clients in town and friends. Milan is a great place to pair with Lake Como, which is only an hour drive away. I did a few hotel site tours, here is my take on them.

The lobby at Palazzo Parigi Hotel and Grand Spa has a grand entrance! The warm colors are so inviting in this boutique Virtuoso hotel and the fact that it is in the Brera neighborhood, which is a local neighborhood I think is great. They are known for their spa. Each treatment room has a different theme-Balinese, Chinese etc. Had an espresso at their bar which has a nice vibe. You will receive Virtuoso amenities here.

Armani’s Top Suite I toured was a showpiece! It’s very modern in design, spacious, high ceilings with a beautiful staircase that goes into the bedroom, a kitchen and a movie room. It doesn’t surprise me that they hold interviews here. This Virtuoso hotel is located in the heart of the fashion district designed by Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. The restaurant/Bamboo Bar on the 7th floor has panoramic views of the Milan city skyline and their jacuzzi and relaxation area has grand city views as well. You will receive Virtuoso amenities here.

The Bulgari Hotel in Milan is tucked away on a private street which I loved. Their outdoor terrace there has great ambiance and the wrap around terrace in this Bulgari Suite is huge! They have a Turkish shower and a great bathtub. The plants are lovely throughout the property. There is an additional private outdoor terrace space you can use when booking this suite that can be combined with the Junior Suite. You will receive Virtuoso amenities here.

We rented a car and went to Lake Como for the day. We had lunch soaking in these breathtaking views at Villa Flori, which will be our first stop on the Italy trip Daniele and I are hosting June 15th-23rd, 2022- Lakes to Lagoon and Wine! It was fun watching the seaplanes land as we ate a delicious meal.

If you have any questions and or are looking to plan your Italy adventure, reach out to Stefany at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com.