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Luxury Adventure

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Favorite Travel Days 2011, Relaxing on the Beach of Riu Palace Tropical Bay, Negril

Contrary to this winter, where my grass is still green in the Boston area, last winter I was shoveling a good foot of snow every week. By the time, February break rolled around, I would have been happy to be any place warm. But the beach at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay, an all-inclusive resort on the outskirts of Negril, Jamaica, exceeded all expectations. The white sand sloped down gently into the warm waters, where I would spend a good portion of the day swimming, kayaking, and watching the reddish-yellow sun melt into the sea. If I felt hungry, I would get up from my chaise lounge and grab a plate of hot jerk chicken from the resort’s jerk hut or wander over to the pool bar for another dirty banana. The kids and I played a lot of games, winning bottles of rum at the pre-sunset bingo bash. Best of all, I relaxed more than I’ve been able to do on a trip in a long time. The story first appeared in The Washington Post, before being picked up by the Denver Post, Columbus Dispatch, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and other papers.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/11/12 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, December 02, 2011

Wildland Adventures Returns to Turkey in September 2012

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Wildland Adventures, founders Kurt and Anne Kutay will return to their roots, personally guiding a fortunate group of travelers to the highlights of Turkey. You’ll start in Istanbul, then fly to Kayseri (where I once had the best Iskendar kebab in the world) to spend three nights in Cappadocia at the Elkep Evi Cave Hotel. Then it’s on to the spiritual city of Konya and the Mevlana Museum, where the great Sufi poet, Rumi, is buried. Next up is a five-day jaunt on a luxurious gulet along the Mediterranean coast, stopping in the seaside towns of Kas and Kalkan (where I celebrated my 28th birthday by getting a shave). See the Roman ruins in Ephesus and then it’s back to Istanbul for another two nights before you depart. If you want to see Turkey in style, this is the trip I’d suggest. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/02/11 at 01:59 PM
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Former A&K Global Managing Director Launches Red Savannah

While we’re on the subject of Abercrombie & Kent, former A&K global managing director, George Morgan-Grenville, has just launched his own luxury travel company, Red Savannah. You can already download a brochure from their website which will be fully functional by the first of the year. Morgan-Grenville is focusing on his three areas of expertise—safaris in Botswana and Tanzania, villa rentals in Italy, France, and Spain, and ski chalet rentals in Switzerland. There will be also guided trips to other exotic regions of the world like Burma and Sri Lanka. They aim to provide an upscale, comfortable experience no matter what the region of the world, like Sindabezi Island (pictured), a camp situated on a private isle near the Victoria Falls. There are only five open-thatched cottages, all with views across the Zambezi river.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/17/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cruise With Climate Change Experts to Antarctica with Abercrombie & Kent

For the past 13 years, Dr. James McClintock has spent at least two months a year at Palmer Station in Antarctica. He has seen the firsthand results of global warming, including seeing ice shelves the size of Connecticut break off from the land, watched as the indigenous adelie penguin population has dwindled from 15,000 to 2,000 breeding penguins, tested for increasingly alarming rates of ocean acidification, and much to his dismay, watched as predators like king crabs, who had never made their way this far south, started appearing in droves. Once a year, McClintock gets some much needed R&R aboard the Le Boreal cruise ship as resident naturalist for Abercrombie & Kent’s two-week voyage to Antarctica. Built specifically for Antarctica, the sleek ship is incredibly stable and about thirty percent faster than most ships that cruise through the Drake Passage. Getting on and off the Zodiacs twice a day is also not nearly as challenging. Yet the best part about Le Boreal is the comfort, with each stateroom featuring spacious double beds, large balcony space, flat screen television and L’Occitane products in the bathroom. Then there’s the spa, intimate theater to hear McClintock speak about the upcoming day, and exceptional French food served daily. If you’ve ever wanted to see Antarctica in style while being educated by one of the experts on the region, this is the way to go.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/16/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Dutch Culture of Curacao

Curacao, along with Bonaire, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, and Saba, are all considered part of the Netherlands Antilles. The Dutch came to power on Curacao in 1634 and to this day, Dutch remains the language of instruction in schools and is widely spoken in government and business. Over 2,000 makambas (the name coined for native Dutch people) have made the island their permanent home.

Stroll along the narrow streets of Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, and you’ll find exquisite 17th and 18th-century Dutch colonial buildings not found anywhere outside of the Netherlands. The steep pitched gable roofline is typical of Dutch urban architecture, but the bright bold palette painted on the walls of the buildings is undeniably Caribbean. First stop in town is Fort Nassau, a restored Dutch seafood restaurant created from the ruins of an 18th-century fortress and is now a favorite dining spot of Queen Beatrix and Crown Prince Claus of the Netherlands. Dine on fresh red snapper and grouper on a hilltop overlooking Willemstad with panoramic views of the ocean. Then head onward to New Amsterdam, a favorite store in Willemstad known for its hand-embroidered tablecloths and other Dutch novelties. Last, but certainly not least, make sure to pop into any of the grocery stores in town to grab Dutch chocolates and a wheel of very old Gouda. The latest resort to make its debut on the island is Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa, and Marina. The hotel features a Pete Dye-designed golf course, private beach, spa, multiple pools, and 350 rooms offering water views.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/09/11 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Abercrombie & Kent Extreme Adventures

Just the name, Abercrombie & Kent, evokes images of a mysterious Africa, a hidden continent where one goes searching deep into the bush to find gorillas and lions, only to be pampered at night in the most luxurious tents you’ve ever seen. Indeed, days of adventure and nights of utmost civilization seems to be a winning combination as A&K continues to attract such luminaries as Prince Charles, Bill Gates, and the Clintons. Not bad for a company Geoffrey Kent and his parents started on the front steps of their Nairobi, Kenya, farmhouse. New in 2011 are 15 Extreme Adventures. Drive your own 4x4 though the high dunes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, hike on the largest glacier in Europe, Iceland’s Vatnajökull, sea kayak in Mexico’s Sea of Cortes accompanied by dolphins and whales, and climb up to the Everest base camp in Nepal. Other adventures are slated for Mali, Mongolia, Jordan, and Alaska.

(Photo by Marek Wykowski)

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/25/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Zegrahm Expeditions Branching into Adventure Tours in Bhutan and Uganda

Seattle-based Zegrahm Expeditions is best known for their naturalist-led small-size expedition cruises that venture to the far corners of the globe, from Antarctica to Iceland, Yap to the Azores. In 2011, the company plans to add active adventures to their excursions, featuring two 14-day land-based treks in Bhutan and Uganda. Scheduled from April 10-23, the Bhutan jaunt will be led by Asian-culture expert, Gary Wintz, and will include a hike to Tiger’s Nest, the most famous monastery in this high-altitude Himalayan kingdom, and Thimpu, Bhutan’s capital and main residence of the king. Uganda is slated for November 30-December 13, 2011, and will be led by Zegrahm field director Jonathan Rossouw. The itinerary includes two days gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, visiting the large community of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, and white water rafting down the Nile. 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/12/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Cruising the Marquesas Aboard the Aranui

When people find out that I’m a travel writer, they inevitably ask, “What’s your favorite trip?” It’s silly to distill the past two decades of work down to one locale so I try to evade the question. If they’re persistent, I’ll usually mention the Marquesas. In 1994, I took a 16-day cruise with my wife that ventured 750 miles north from Tahiti to the archipelago most distant from any continent. The only way to visit all six of the inhabited Marquesa islands was aboard the Aranui, an upscale freighter that offers air-conditioned cabins and three French meals daily. The ship’s main function, however, is to transport goods to the local residents. She comes bearing bricks and cement, pipes and tractors, fishing nets, medicines, and food, all the necessities for an isolated existence; and returns to Tahiti with copra, dried coconut meat that is processed into oil, soap, and cosmetics. 

Since there are very few adequate docks in the Marquesas, travelers go ashore in wooden whaleboats to meet the locals. Burly crew members guide passengers on and off these boats quicker than they can toss a sack of rice to each other. Obviously, this is no normal luxury cruise ship. There is no shuffleboard, no stage where entertainment continually bombards you throughout the day, and no dress code for meals.

In its place, you’ll visit the island Nuka Hiva, where a 22-year old sailor named Herman Melville jumped ship and wrote about his experience with cannibals in his first book, Typee. Paul Gauguin’s gravesite rests on the neighboring island of Hiva Oa. Sitting under a plumeria tree on a hillside over the bay, the stone is simply inscribed, “Paul Gauguin, 1903.” A three-hour cruise from Hiva Oa brought us to the verdant island of Fatu Hiva.  Here, you can take a ten mile hike into the stunning Bay of Virgins, the most majestic site of the voyage. Towering, storm-worn basalt rises from the ocean’s depth, forming a v-shaped buttress that’s illuminated by the sun’s yellow-green rays. In the distance, serrated ridges, cloud-piercing peaks and impassable gorges stand as a monument to the centuries of volcanic fires that formed this fantastic landscape. That sight is hard to forget.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/08/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Maasai Open Their Own Resort

The Maasai are best known for their mud huts. So it might come as a surprise that these tall warriors of southern Kenya have recently entered the hotel business. They have formed a joint partnership with a private safari company, Nairobi-based Art of Adventures, to open Shompole Game Reserve. Shompole is nestled on 35,000 acres of conservation land near the Nguruman Escarpment in southeastern Kenya. The resort only has six mega-sized guest rooms, which comes with private plunge pool and a sprawling lounge area. The main activity at Shompole is game drives, where guests travel through the bush in open-air Land Rovers accompanied by a Maasai tracker. The more adventurous can also go on game walks, sunset trips to Lake Natron to see the flamingos, or evening picnics in the bush.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/18/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Mount Kenya Safari Club

If you wander into the bar at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, you will not see Ernest Hemingway telling tall tales from a day of big-game hunting. Nor will you have to fight pet leopards for a seat at the bar. But in the club’s heyday in the 1960s, these things were commonplace. Hollywood heartthrob William Holden (Bridge Over The River Kwai, Network) and his partners, oil billionaire Ray Ryan and Swiss financier Carl Hirschmann, ran the place as the most elite private members’ club in the world. Membership was by invitation only and included Bing Crosby, David Lean, Charlie Chaplin, Steve McQueen, Conrad Hilton, Winston Churchill and the Maharaja of Jaipur. Holden, who fell in love with Kenya on hunting safaris in the 50s was known for his practical joking in the bar, such as snakes hidden in the bottom of a peanut tin. Yet there is more to this sybaritic retreat in northern Kenya than Hollywood magic dust left behind from years of raucous carousing. It is the sheer beauty of this stretch of land that sits at the base of Africa’s second-highest mountain, 17,057-foot Mount Kenya. Manicured lawns sweep down to a pool, past flower-filled ponds and then on to the slopes, where they climb for miles to the snow-dusted peak, known locally as Kirinyaga. The club is built directly on the equator, its line cutting straight through the main bar, following the curve of the national park before running into the seventh hole of the club’s small nine-hole golf course.

There will be no blogs the week of November 15th since I’ll still be in Africa. I’ll be back on November 22nd. Have a great week, filled with adventure!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/12/10 at 02:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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