Flamenco, gypsies, tapas: Andalusia captures the essence of what we think of as Spanish, and so much more. This enchanting region on Spain’s southern coast boasts remarkable cuisine, art and architecture. The magnificent landmarks from the 8th-15th centuries when it was under Moorish rule, such as Malaga’s Alcazaba, Seville’s Alcázar and Granada’s Alhambra, are sights to behold! Today, wine and culinary tourism are some of Andalusia’s main attractions.
FOUR SEASONS LANDAA GIRAAVARU
Although many choose to relax in the Maldives after traveling to nearby India or Sri Lanka, I had wondered if the destination was worthy of a visit on its own. The moment I touched down at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru in the Baa Atoll, a 44 acre UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, after my 40 minute seaplane from Malé and took in the utter gorgeousness my answer was unequivocally - Yes. Think a lush tropical island with crystalline turquoise water, sugary sand beaches, coral reefs and a spectacular spa delightfully isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s ideal for couples, friends and families alike with activities aplenty for all.
The Festival del Sole, recently renamed Festival Napa Valley, is held every summer in California’s gorgeous Napa Valley -- a dazzling showcase of great food, fine wine and top cultural performances. A chic and fun crowd, clad in fashions that Anna Wintour would approve, make this the most happening party around. The festival runs for 10 days, July 15 - 24 this year, and attracts a wide array of talented artists and interesting people from near and far. Some of the luminaries who have graced the festival’s stages include opera super star Renee Fleming, Tony award winner Audra Mc Donald and jazz great Chris Botti. Throughout the event the major valley wineries host lunches and dinners at various places in Napa. At these soirees regulars get to catch up and socialize with friends they initially met at the festival. “It’s like a summer camp for adults,” said one festival aficionado.
A safe oasis in a region of conflict, a strong US ally with some of the world's most spectacular treasures, Jordan has been welcoming visitors for centuries. Here one finds archaeological wonders, biblical sites and friendly people whose second language is English. Additionally, the country draws high-end travelers with 5-star properties like the Four Seasons, and others.
This year Mexico has been the most popular international getaway destination for American travelers. Having just visited the beachy Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta on beautiful Banderas Bay, I put it at the top of my list. In addition to sun-kissed sand beaches, aquamarine water, a lush tropical landscape and the Sierra Madre Mountains, you’ll also find an authentic, culturally rich town with an eye popping art scene, amazing gastronomy and happening night life. Not to mention the warm climate and friendly locals. It’s ideal for honeymooners, couples and families alike. Additionally it’s LGBT friendly with a trendy downtown Romantic Zone.
Exotic with turquoise lagoons, palm-fringed sand beaches, coral reefs, the freshest fruits and seafood plus top luxury resorts, Fiji offers the ultimate vacation in paradise. This lush tropical oasis of over 330 sun-kissed islands in the heart of the Pacific attracts honeymooners, couples and families, alike. Whether you’re looking for a remote hideaway, spectacular snorkeling, diving, trekking, relaxing in your own plunge pool or picnicking on a secluded beach or on your own private island - Fiji will not disappoint.
The last few years have seen an increasing number of consumers using travel agents - “good” travel agents. The discerning traveler expects quality products, top experiences and the highest level of customer service. This can be a tall order in today’s market with many clients demanding so much attention both before and during their trips, with many traveling at the same time. For these reasons a growing number of agents have already discovered that using a top tour operator can make a huge difference. Not only will you have experts in the destination handling every facet of your client’s trip, from the planning to the actual on the ground itinerary, you will be able to manage your business more efficiently, and have more time to raise your profits. Additionally, you will be building your brand as a skilled professional with an array of unique services to offer.
Cuba is hotter than ever with the sweeping changes in US - Cuba relations. The allure of a place that’s been ‘forbidden’ for more than 50 years, a veritable time warp with vintage 50’s cars and sultry Latin music, the excitement of a locale that’s on the brink of change is drawing Americans like never before. You can’t help but feel the buzz.
Myanmar, (Burma) is on everyone’s hot list and it’s easy to see why. An exotic locale with a veritably untouched culture, golden temples and wondrous pagodas is a traveler’s dream. Now a coveted destination for the high-end set, Burma is experiencing a tourism boom. Last year saw a 54 percent increase in arrivals. On my recent trip through the country, I felt like I had journeyed back in time. The allure of a mystical land that has side-stepped modernization may not last for long. If you’re thinking of going, go now.
The Basque Country in the western Pyrenees, spanning the border between Spain and France, has long been renowned for its outstanding gastronomy. The Basque people have their own culture, traditions and language, although almost all speak Spanish. Friendly and proud, they are also passionate - especially about their cuisine. There has been a long-standing tradition of men cooking and socializing in male cooking clubs called ‘gastronomic societies.’ Hence, the famed Basque male chefs and their coveted restaurants.
The region offers fine wines, stunning architecture, beaches, a scenic coastline and luxurious hotels in addition to its Michelin starred cuisine. Whether pairing the locale with a visit to Madrid, Barcelona or Paris, or opting to solely bask in the glorious Basque, this precious gem will not disappoint.