Greece: Luxury Travel Updates

Greece was a hot topic this year at Virtuoso Travel Week and we spend some time gathering the latest updates and insights from our top travel partners for Greece luxury travel. Here’s what we have our eye on:

Greece luxury travel

Canaves Oia Epitome, Santorini

By far the biggest news a Virtuoso Week is the opening of the 5th property at Canaves Oia called Epitome, pictured above. I met with Markos Chaidemeos, the managing director, and he is very excited to finally have a family-friendly option within his portfolio. This hotel is not on the cliffside like the others; instead, it is located on the northern part of Oia (still within walking distance of town) where there’s a little more space to spread out and far fewer safety concerns for the kids. Epitome features suites and villas, all with private pools. The 2-bedroom pool villas are the winners here – finally, a true Santorini luxury experience is available for families!

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy FS Astir Palace

Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens

We know our clients are so loyal to the Four Seasons brand and we’ve been anticipating the re-opening of the re-imagined Astire Palace for over a year already. There have been some delays and the new projected opening for the Four Seasons Astir Palace is early 2019. We’re watching this one closely! When it opens, we know this will quickly become a best-seller. The convenient location outside of Athens will make this a no-brainer for the start of any Greece luxury travel itinerary – the resort will be the perfect spot to recover from jet-lag. We’re most excited about the opportunity to add golf to a Greece itinerary and the resorts private marina will make sailing excursions a breeze. The new suites with private pools are a nice bonus, too!

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy Katikies hotels

Katikies Resorts & Club

Our good friends over at Janine Cifelli Representation have put us on to a new member of their portfolio, Katikies Resorts & Club. This collection of hotels includes the newly opened Katikies Mykonos along with Katikies Santorini, Kirini Santorini, Chromata Santorini, Sun Rocks, and Kirini Mykonos. The largest hotel in the portfolio is 35-rooms so you can count on a true, boutique experience here. The newest addition, Katikies Mykonos, is a great option if you’re looking for exclusivity and seclusion without giving up on style or amazing seaside views! These hotels are not part of the Virtuoso network, but we work closely with JCR to be sure our clients get the best value and VIP consideration.

If you’re looking for the party in Mykonos, head to the Belvedere Hotel where you can easily stumble home after a few too many shots of Ouzo. The Belvedere also features a Nobu on site. For a family-friendly option on Mykonos, look to the Myconian Villa Collection!

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy Domes Miramare

Corfu Joins the Luxury Market:

We’re Predicting that Corfu will be the buzz-worthy destination of 2019 and there are several new hotel developments to help push travelers’ interests. The one prominently on our radar is Angsana Corfu, projected for Q1 2019 opening. This family-friendly resort will be nestled into the hillside with 199 rooms and 50 private pool villas and will feature a private beach club, spa, kids club, multiple dining venues, and a rooftop lounge.

Also on the radar in Corfu is the adults-only Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, which opens August 2018.

Greece luxury travel

photo courtesy George Roske, Naxian Collection

Get Off the Beaten Path:

Mykonos and Santorini are popular for a reason! They offer amazing experiences and some of the best luxury hotel options anywhere in Greece, but that also comes with a price in both rates and crowds. So, we recommend including a lesser known region of Greece in your itinerary to make sure you get the best balance. Last year, we told you about Crete. This year Naxos has been our go-to island for a little something different; it is an especially good fit for foodies. The Naxian Collection and Naxian on the Beach are our hotel picks here with high reviews from our travelers.

For families, we recommend Paros and Antiparos, which has a nice villa collection, or Halkidiki where you’ll find the new member to Virtuoso, Sani Asterias at Sani Resort. Calm, shallow ocean waters and fun, kid-friendly activities like the resort’s unique soccer camp in partnership with players from the Chelsea football club make this resort a perfect fit for families. Nearby UNESCO heritage sites, and new parks and museums in Thessaloniki will make this area a unique cultural destination, as well.

Folegandros is great for anyone looking for something charming, traditional, and authentic; stay at Anemi . For a good dose of drama, look to Milos with its French influences and dramatic coastlines; book a private yacht for a true luxury experience.

Greece luxury travel

Ourisman Travel clients enjoying a wine tasting on Santorini


The number of travelers visiting Greece has doubled over the past few years and there is no denying that Greece is a hot destination and we felt a few growing pains in the form of planning delays and inconsistent service during our clients’ trips this year. In 2018, we’ve supported over 20 departures to the destination and we expect this number to continue growing. Our preferred on-site for local support and trip logistics is Eclectic Greece and they are investing in stronger relationships with local transportation companies and expert guides to help us make sure you get a unique, personalized experience with the smoothest itinerary operation possible. 

For 2019, you can expect a stronger (and stricter) portfolio of services on offer and availability will continue to be a challenge. We estimate that our top hotel picks will be sold out for Summer 2019 by February. So, if a trip to Greece is on your radar, start your planning early!

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Caribbean Updates from Virtuoso Week 2018

Our favorite luxury Caribbean resorts are ready to pamper you. Are you ready for some island breezes, rum punches, and beach time at these newly refreshed resorts?

Map our Luxury Caribbean Resorts

There are 73 luxury Caribbean resorts that are members of the Virtuoso network – that’s a lot of complimentary breakfasts that we can offer you! See the full collection on our map of Caribbean luxury hotels here.

During our time at Virtuoso Week, we put extra focus on getting updates from our partners at our favorite luxury Caribbean resorts that have been getting makeovers and renovations this year. There is certainly plenty of news to be excited about! After a very tough hurricane season last fall, we are all hoping for a calm season this year. Many of our favorite luxury Caribbean resorts are poised for reopening and we can’t wait to see the Caribbean back in full swing again soon! Here’s what is on our radar:

Puerto Rico is back and better than ever!

Luxury Caribbean Resorts - Dorado Beach

Read more about our partner hotels in Puerto Rico

Other Caribbean News from Virtuoso Week 2018

1) Silversands Grenada, A Virtuoso Preview Property 

Set to open in November 2018, this new resort has been predicted to set the tone for the “next generation” of Caribbean resorts. The sleek architecture, intimate setting (only 43 suites plus private residential villas), and gorgeous white sand beaches have drawn us in. We are definitely keeping our eyes on this one! Who wants to volunteer to be one of the resorts first guests? 

2) Renovations are Complete at the Four Seasons Nevis – Read More here

3) Body Holiday St. Lucia wins the Virtuoso award for Best Wellness Program.

 See all of the winners from the Best of the Best awards here.

4) COMO Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos 

A Turks & Caicos favorite is back in action after a full renovation. To celebrate, they are offering a Stay 4, Pay 3 promotion, now through December 18, 2018. This private island resort now features crisp, bright rooms and improved luxuries such as outdoor showers. Extra sweet perks also include in-room yoga mats and bikes to leisurely ride around the private island. Accommodation options range from the entry-level, 600+ sq. feet Garden View Rooms , to beach villas with 1-3 bedroom options, to  3-5 bedroom private estates. There’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out and keep that zen feeling that COMO is so good at creating.

Luxury Caribbean Resorts - Half Moon

5) Half Moon, Jamaica

A complete re-imagining of this resort will bring new rooms, new restaurants, a new beach & swimming cove, a refreshed spa, and new villas. A revamped Great House will become the new hub of the resort and will house the lobby, new rooms, and a “grab & go” marketplace cafe. The 400-acre property will also be adding 2 new restaurants, a vegan cafe in the spa, new bars, and an adults-only swimming pool. There’s a lot to take in here! All renovations are slated to be complete by November 2018.

6) Kimpton Seafire Resort, Grand Cayman

New to the Virtuoso network for 2018, we’ve been hearing great feedback from clients and colleagues about this resort! This is a much needed dose of energy for Grand Cayman and we’re happy to have a new, stylish option on the island. The show-stopping dining menus, personable mixologists, sprawling pool, the Turkish-style Hammam in the spa, and the well outfitted room balconies with stunning sunset views all get high marks in guest reviews.

Luxury Caribbean Resorts - Baoase, Curacao7) Baoase Curacao

Small and quaint with just 23 accommodations, Baoase Luxury Resort is tucked away on the island of Curacao and the best kept secret in the Caribbean! It had almost completely missed our radar until, thankfully, our Virtuoso contact set us straight! This balinese inspired resort offers a white sandy beach with private beachfront pool suites. The restaurant on property features fine dining with an al fresco setting and the resort staff actively encourage guests to venture out to try one of the 20 other nearby restaurants for a local island vibe. When it comes to service here, luxury is visible in the attention to details. At Baoase, luxury is personal!

8) An oldie, but always a goodie is our ever-favorite Tryall Club

Let’s not forget about their two most coveted villas – Aqua Bay and Quinntessential. Each villa is equipped with the ultra luxurious swimming pools, oceanfront views, and golf carts, but each of these villas has a special feature or two you won’t find just anywhere. Aqua Bay is a 4-bedroom villa that can accommodate up to 8 guests, and is perfect for the spin-enthusiast, because the private gym at this villa has a Peloton bike! Quinntessential is a 5-bedroom villa that can accommodate up to 10 guests, and we’re just going to call this villa cool, because this villa accommodates its own irish pub and putting green! Definitely keep Tryall Club in mind for your next villa vacation!

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The Virtuoso Hotels of Puerto Rico are Back and Better Than Ever!

The Virtuoso hotels of Puerto Rico are reopening this fall with fresh room designs, new restaurants, and the same beautiful beaches!

Puerto Rico - Dorado Beach

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Officially reopening on October 1, 2018, Dorado Beach is ready to reclaim their spot as our clients’ favorite luxury Caribbean resort. Dorado Beach was spared any major structural damage during the hurricanes this year and they have spent their down time reimagining the outdoor spaces. 300,000+ new trees and greenery have been planted to help reestablish the lush grounds. The resort has also given the rooms a touch up with a new color palette and reconfigured connecting rooms and now offer rooms with 2 King beds.

Positivo Sand Bar will now feature an Omakase & Ceviche menu and the Spa Botanico now has a new spa cuisine concept. The signature restaurant is getting a major overhaul. The resort is still collaborating with Jose Andres for the menu and the restaurant space will have expanded seating capacity both indoor and al fresco. The restaurant will be unveiled on November 1, 2018.

The 5-bedroom villa, Su Casa, will reopen mid December with new and enhanced experiences such as a new media and game room, outdoor movement studio, and state of the art technology.

Special Re-Opening Offers:

  • Introductory rates starting at 499 USD per night between October 1-31, 2018 (3-night minimum).
  • Thanksgiving availability with rates starting at 1099 USD/night
  • Holiday Splendor Incentive Package for arrivals between December 16-22, 2018 with a 3-night minimum stay includes resort credits ranging from 1000 USD up to 2250 USD, based on accommodation booked.

Take a trip down memory lane and see what Jessica had to say about Dorado Beach from her visit back in 2013 when the resort had just opened.

Meanwhile, at our other Virtuoso hotels in Puerto Rico:

  • Hotel El Convento and the Condado Vanderbilt are open and fully operational
  • St. Regis Bahia Beach has done a full room renovation with a lighter color concept and is poised for a soft opening on October 29, 2018
  • The Ritz-Carlton San Juan is taking their closure as an opportunity for a complete and dramatic make over and this hotel will not reopen until October 2019.
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Four Seasons Nevis Renovation Update

Room renovations at the Four Seasons Nevis are complete and the new lobby, pool, and restaurants are set to be completed by December 10, 2018. We’ve got our eye on this resort for Spring Break this year! 

Four Seasons Nevis

photo courtesy Four Seasons Nevis

Designed by Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Design Studios, the rooms are looking fresh with a touch of playfulness, a perfect accompaniment to the breezy tropical island of Nevis. We’re loving the monkey-themed upholstery! Our favorite Four Seasons rooms are currently at the Four Seasons Lanai, but it looks like Nevis will be in the running now!

There’s no need to wait to see this resort; the hotel is open and welcoming guests now and, as Forbes magazine has reminded us, Nevis can be a great summer destination!

Pack your swimsuit and get ready to head to Nevis for the famous arrival experience and un-matched service the Four Seasons has made so famous! Our clients enjoy generous Preferred Partner amenities, as well. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll be happy to tell you more! 

** If you’re thinking about a getaway for Christmas and New Years, the resort still has 2018 festive availability with only a 5-night minimum! **

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Los Cabos: Life on a Sea of Dreams

Los Cabos is a luxury travel destination like no other, combining great weather, exotic scenery, adventure and five-star comfort; the options are endless! I just returned from a destination research trip where I spent two weeks seeking out the top luxury hotels and testing out the best luxury experiences. Here’s a round up of what I learned:  

Los Cabos

Getting There – We all know Cabo is notorious for being easy to get to via nonstop flight for west coasters. But for our east coast folks, Cabo is also quite easy to get to with a connecting flight. And while in transit on the ground, between visiting all of the luxury hotels, I never experienced a transfer longer than 30 minutes.

Stay – When you book your luxury accommodation in Cabo, odds are you are promised either an outdoor shower, private plunge pool or fire pit, encouraging indoor-outdoor living without leaving your room. There are so many great hotels to choose from and each is has something different to offer. Click through below for site-inspection reports on some of our favorite hotels:

  • Montage Los Cabos – Our new favorite! A swimmable beach, 3 sprawling pools, a kids club, golf course, cozy rooms, and a popsicle bar round out our favorite features! Read more…
  • Las Ventanas – The ultimate favorite! A unique check-in experience lets you know immediately that this isn’t just another hotel stay. The staff takes attention to detail to a whole new level and your every whim is answered with ease. This is a great spot for honeymooners!
  • Chileno Bay – A well-rounded option and great for families! The huge pool, swimmable beach, contemporary interior design, spacious rooms, and an amazing dining experience will keep you happy for days.
  • Resort at Pedregal – We love the sense of romance and drama here, along with authentic design, private plunge pools, top-notch service, and unique location walking distance into town.
  • One & Only Palmilla – This resort is the all-ages pleaser! It has an exotic feel to it, but there’s still plenty of polish and more than enough space to spread out!
  • Esperanza – Amazing Ocean Views and dramatic cliff-side dining!
  • The Cape – Like all Thompson Hotels, this one is a trend-setter. We love the rooftop bar and buzzy vibe.
  • Grand Velas Los Cabos – All-inclusive without sacrificing on style, quality of service, dining, or amenities. Choose the Grand Class for an adults-only experience and private plunge pools. Families will enjoy the Ambassador Suites and the kids and teens clubs.

Service – Luxury is personal! Everywhere on  property, the staff greets you showing their sincerest welcome from the heart. Each luxury property had their own unique and special welcome as soon as you arrive, you barely feel like you are “checking in”. What’s a lobby?

Los Cabos

Swim – Where the desert meets the sea, you can explore rare swimmable beaches at just a handful of the luxury resorts. They make the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and a sanctuary for marine life. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking. You may even spot a whale or jumping manta ray!

Explore – When you see a dirt road in Baja, you should take it! Rediscover the joy of wandering through charming San Jose del Cabo, or a day trip to Todos Santos (which is all the rage right now!) where Mexican culture flourishes among art galleries, shops and authentic cuisine. During my trip, I enjoyed unique garden tours with farm-to-table dining, a glass blowing demonstration, and a beautiful sunset cruise. You can also try your hand at snorkeling, zip lining, paddle boarding and many other active adventures. If you’re feeling really active, you might consider the new Lindblad Expeditions “Base Camp Baja” cruise. 

Back in town, take advantage of the options to dine cliffside at exclusive restaurants where the waves crash and the sun sets and then make the most of the nightlife at hopping beach clubs and rooftop bars with creative cocktails and live music. 

If you’re looking to get a little more creative or off the beaten track with your next trip to Los Cabos, check out our suggestions for 3 Ways to Rethink Your Cabo Vacation.

Los Cabos

Security – The question of safety has been a hot and controversial topic among travelers. Some luxury resorts have implemented undercover security and you would never even notice it. I can also say with full confidence, throughout my whole stay I always felt a sense of comfort and safety, even on the road and exploring the towns. Travel smart, but also travel with confidence. We have a network of partners who are local and on the ground that you can trust to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

Globally and Locally Conscious – Each luxury resort seemed very committed to the concept of “responsible luxury”. There are obvious efforts being made to make positive contributions to their environment, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

There’s More! – North of Cabo, there are up and coming developments in East Cape where the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and Aman are building resorts scheduled to open in 2019 and 2020. You know we’ll be back to scope out the new luxury hotel options as soon as they open! Until next time… 

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3 Ways to Rethink Your Cabo Vacation

Get creative with your next Cabo vacation. This destination offers equal amounts of options for travelers seeking rest and relaxation, those looking for cultural immersion, and those thrill-seekers looking for an adrenaline rush! Here are 3 unique ways to re-think your Cabo vacation that may help spark some inspiration:

Cabo Vacation with Lindblad Expeditions

Curious young California sea lion with snorkelers underwater at Los Islotes, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Michael S. Nolan, courtesy Lindblad Expeditions

Wildness & WellnessBase Camp Baja is a 5-day itinerary focused on wellbeing with Lindblad Expeditions and Exhale Spa. Snorkeling with sea lions and kayaking coastlines will be sure to help you find your playful side, while yoga, hiking and paddle boarding will keep you balanced. Of course, the itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a sunset beach BBQ, bonfire and stargazing from the ships observation deck. This is more than a Cabo vaction, it is a “soul-break” designed to help you reset and recharge.

Don’t let the expedition-style itinerary fool you; this is still a luxury experience full of pampering. The brand new National Geographic Venture is a floating boutique hotel designed to accommodate only 100 guests. Meals on board are prepared fresh with local land sustainable ingredients. And you don’t have to worry about stuffy assigned seating arrangements; seating is organized restaurant-style.

Onboard expedition leaders, wellness specialists, naturalists, and photography instructors are on hand to help guide your experience and make sure you get a little taste of everything. You’ll be immersed in the local landscape and armed with experts to point you in the right direction so you can relax and enjoy the sights around you. Don’t forget to pack your camera!

Combine a Cabo Vacation with San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende; photo courtesy Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada

Twinning in Mexico – Have you been craving for a vacation filled with more than just soaking up some sun and surf? Now Los Cabos pairs easily with nonstop flights to it’s “Sister City” – San Miguel de Allende! You can now twin your love of sunshine and a good beach party with your cultural side in UNESCO-listed San Miguel de Allende. The town is filled with shopping, art galleries, cafes, wineries and more! When you’re done venturing, stay at your choice of two luxury Virtuoso hotels – Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada or Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. Each hotel offers an array of classes from cooking, photography, painting, and language lessons, which reflects San Miguel de Allende’s history and culture of creativity. The Ourisman Travel team can help you build a Cabo vacation itinerary that includes San Miguel de Allende and allows you to explore both regions and enjoy smooth travels in between!

A Cabo Vacation the whole family can enjoy

Brisa Del Mar at Chileno Bay; photo courtesy Journey Mexico

Villa Living – A villa vacation can help you get some quality family time without sacrificing space and Cabo is perfect for multi-generational family trips! In partnership with our friends at Journey Mexico and their hand-picked portfolio of private homes, we can help you find the best luxury villa vacation for your family, ranging from 3 to 9 bedrooms. Villa perks also include options of a personal butler, fully stocked kitchen, or golf cart. There are also even more perks if your villa resides within a luxury resort, where you also have easy access to the resort’s facilities!

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Introducing Montage Los Cabos

Montage Los Cabos

Montage Los Cabos is the perfect five-star environment for couples and families, alike. As one of the newest luxury hotels in Cabo, the coveted Santa Maria Bay Beach is your backyard! This swimmable beach is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and a sanctuary for marine life, perfect for snorkeling.

Designed to complement the landscape and ambience of Los Cabos, the new Virtuoso property includes 122 guest rooms and suites, as well as 52 residences. All accommodations infuse a modern hacienda feel that encourages indoor/outdoor living… this includes outdoor showers!

Montage Los Cabos

The resort includes three sprawling pools where lounge chairs are endless. Montage Los Cabos features well-designed facilities including Spa Montage, Fitness and Movement Studio, Paintbox Kid’s Club (ages 5-12 years old) and an 18-hole golf course.

For foodies, the property boasts two restaurants, Marea and Mezcal. My favorite spot at the resort is the modern marketplace called Paletas, where you can indulge in endless sweets, coffees and homemade paletas (popsicles)! You may also find yourself drawn to the curated selection of locally crafted gifts, artwork and clothing.

A stay at Montage Los Cabos will bring you whatever you are seeking… from relaxation, adventure and love – this place has it!

Montage Los Cabos

Through Virtuoso, our clients receive the following complimentary amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily $70USD breakfast credit per bedroom, available in the restaurant or through in-room dining (credit is non-cumulative, should be redeemed per day)
  • $100 USD Resort Credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-fi
  • Bookings in Beachfront suites and above will also receive a one way airport transfer for up to 4 guests

For a limited time, guests booking Montage Los Cabos with Ourisman Travel will receive a fourth night complimentary. They are also offering their Stay & Play promotion that includes a 100 USD resort credit per night for guest rooms, and 300 USD resort credit per night for stays in suites or residences.

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Luxury Resorts With Swimmable Beaches in Los Cabos

Swimmable Beaches of Cabo

Swimmable beaches can be hard to find in Los Cabos, Mexico. But leave your bagged lunch and cooler of cervezas behind because we know there’s more to Cabo’s swimmable beaches than a water taxi to Lover’s Beach! Visit some of our favorite luxury  resorts with swimmable beaches and let someone else set up your beach umbrella. 

Swimmable Beaches of Cabo: Santa Maria Bay at Montage Los Cabos

At Montage Los Cabos, the coveted Santa Maria Bay Beach is your backyard. A playground for outdoor enthusiasts and a sanctuary for marine life, this beach is perfect for snorkeling. The calm and shallow waters  and large beachfront also make it great for kids. This beach draws in more tourists by boat, than by foot, but it also feels the most remote. Read more about Montage Los Cabos in the hotel site-inspection blog post

Montage Los Cabos is the newest of our luxury hotel partners in Cabo and quickly becoming one of our favorites! Our clients enjoy exclusive Virtuoso amenities including: 

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily $70USD breakfast credit per bedroom, available in the restaurant or through in-room dining (credit is non-cumulative, should be redeemed per day)
  • $100 USD Resort Credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-fi
  • Bookings in Beachfront suites and above will also receive a one way airport transfer for up to 4 guests

Swimmable Beaches of Cabo: Chileno Bay Resort

As a guest at Chileno Bay Resort, you have exclusive access to their H2O Sports Cave at Chileno Beach, making it the ideal launch point for paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking and more. Given its location in the tourist corridor, this beach in particular draws a bigger crowd than the other beaches. However, I wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting. It’s still a top-notch fun hotel that is perfect for both couples and families and the beach is a huge selling point. You might even spot some sea turtles!

While Chileno Bay is not a member of Virtuoso (yet!), we are often able to include some complimentary perks like a breakfast amenity or a resort credit through our valued partners at Auberge Resorts and Island Destinations.  

Swimmable Beaches of Cabo: Pelican Beach at One & Only Palmilla

Pelican Beach, also known as Palmilla Beach, is another swimmable beach option at One&Only Palmilla complete with shaded cabanas, lounge chairs, and beach grill. Mezcal margarita, coming right up! This beach felt the most secluded from a privacy standpoint. There is an organic rock wall that creates an informal division between the One&Only and the public side of the beach. Rest assured, there is noticeable beach security here!

One & Only Palmilla is one of our strongest go-to resorts for top-notch service anywhere in the world! Our clients love the genuine and thoughtful hospitality and care they receive from our friends at One & Only Palmilla and these great Virtuoso amenities are the cherry on the cake!

  • Upgrade on arrival to next room category, subject to availability
  • Daily Continental breakfast for up to two in-room guests
  • Two 30 minute Virtuoso Exclusive Spa Experiences per booking. (One per person, choice of head and shoulder massage, back massage, or foot rejuvenation)
  • A complimentary round of golf for up to two people, per room, including greens fees and cart rental, once during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

It’s important to note all beaches in Cabo are public, and no beach is truly private. However, each of these luxury resorts has their own dedicated beach areas that are exclusive to guests only, with many inclusive water sports and beach activities. You’ll find that each of these luxury hotels also features privacy gates and/or beach security, making it impossible for the general public to access the hotel grounds without being a guest on the property.

Santa Maria Bay Beach, Chileno Beach and Pelican Beach have each earned international Blue Flag certification, signifying the highest environmental and water quality standards.

The only question is, which of these luxury resorts is the right fit for you?

Tell us… where do you want to go next? 

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U by Uniworld, a fresh take on River Cruising

U by Uniworld is a fresh new take on River Cruising designed for independent travelers looking for casual flexibility in their itineraries and age does not define this demographic.

U by Uniworld: A fresh take on River Cruising

River Cruising is an interesting travel option and one I had my eye on for my own travel wish list (not surprising now that I’ve decided I’m a cruiser!). I saw the value in all the benefits the cruise lines advertise: See Europe at a gentle pace without any packing and unpacking and no trudging through train stations – sign me up!

But, as a small business owner who generally needs to be accessible and whose husband is a web developer who definitely needs internet access to do his job, the real selling point was easy internet access for the entire trip. As long as we had a decent international data plan on our phones (with hotspot capabilities) we didn’t even need the ship to offer quality wi-fi. For several years, I’ve been convinced a river cruise was a brilliant vacation option for us but there was just one problem…

None of the river cruise options appealed to us. They were either too stuffy or too structured, or both; the itineraries didn’t give us the time we wanted to explore; the formal dining rooms were a turn off, and the marketing photos of couples much older than us scared us away. We can’t have been the only 30-something couple with this dilemma and Uniworld, one of our top preferred luxury river cruise partners, pounced on what they saw as a big opportunity in the market. So, they created a pretty daring new product, U by Uniworld, and Josh and I were more than happy to be guinea pigs in this new river cruising experiment!

So, to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary, we booked the U by Uniworld’s inaugural trip down the Rhine River (and several canals and tributaries) from Amsterdam to Frankfurt on The A, formerly known as Uniworld’s River Ambassador. We were even lucky enough to participate in the ship’s renaming ceremony!

Bottom line: This trip was everything we have been looking for all of these years. The itinerary was creative yet relaxed, we had full flexibility to do as we pleased and explore on our terms, I loved not having to wrestle with my suitcase every other day, and we returned home fresh faced and fully rejuvenated from a perfect vacation. The wi-fi? Not great, but adequate. Our international data plan with AT&T filled in the blanks, which is what we expected. By the way, if you don’t have a good international plan, U by Uniworld has a brilliant offer to rent a portable wi-fi hotspot for 10 EUR/day so you can have wi-fi even when you are off the ship.

About the Ship

U by Uniworld: stylish ship design

U by Uniworld currently operates two ships, The A and The B, which share similar designs. Their black exterior give them immediate cool-factor and definitely turns heads, especially when sailing past another “plain Jane” river ship. The interiors are stylish without being garish and they showcase a nice attention to detail in the finishing touches. The rooms are small, but functional with easy to use storage space. Same goes for the bathrooms; they are tight but functional with good lighting and storage. I highly recommend a balcony room – they get more natural light and fresh air, which helps the room feel bigger.

The ship is small and all of the public spaces are multi-functional. The U lounge serves as the main indoor hangout and the bar was always busy. The dining room has several large tables that encourage communal dining, but there’s also enough smaller tables for just 2 or 4 people to give everyone the option to dine together or alone. The guest laundry is complementary and was always in use and Mugs, the self-serve coffee station, was always kept tidy and well-stocked. The ship has a gym with all of the basic equipment you’d expect and they offer morning fitness classes on the rooftop lounge. The rooftop Ice Bar is a really neat space that collapses down for low bridges and provides a fun ambiance at nights.

Each itinerary includes 2 meals a day, brunch and dinner. If you’re an early bird,  coffee and pastries are available in the lounge. Brunch is served as a buffet with both hot and cold foods and there’s a made-to-order station with a specialty dish that changes each day. Dinner features a set, 3-course menu with 2 options for the entrée. All of the dining options on the ship were really well received. I was expecting to hear negative feedback due to the lack of menu options, but everyone was happy. The common opinion by guests was that they were happy to have fewer options at a high-quality level, rather than to have more variety of lower quality. All of the meals were well prepared and well presented.

Highlights from Our Trip

U by Uniworld: day trip to Haarlem

Haarlem, Netherlands

For our first night on the ship, we were docked in Amsterdam and we pushed off first thing in the morning for a little day trip to Haarlem and then returned back to Amsterdam just after dinner. I really loved the timing of this day; we got a fun excursion to a city I probably would have never thought to visit on my own and we were back in Amsterdam to enjoy the city’s nightlife – this day offered a little something for everybody! It also positioned us back in Amsterdam overnight to allow for a full day in Amsterdam the next morning, which was perfect for anyone wanting to beat the crowds at the museums.

Haarlem proved to be a very approachable town and we were lucky to be there during a local festival so the locals were out to enjoy the carnival and everyone was in a cheerful mood despite the overcast weather. The ship docked outside of town so we had a 25 minute walk to get into town, which was a little annoying but we knew we were headed to a brewery later so we figured we earned ourselves an extra beer. Our morning began with an orientation walk around town just as the locals were waking up and shops were beginning to open. After our walk, we made our way to the Jopenkerk, a local brew pub housed in an old church near the center of town. I loved the ambiance and I particularly enjoyed the Jopen Koyt brewed with sweet gale, which as legend has it, must be picked at full moon by nude witches. This beer has been brewed according to the brewer’s statute of the year 1407!

If I could do this day again, I would skip the walk to town and grab one of the complementary U by Uniworld bikes, instead!

Dining in Amsterdam

I loved that our itinerary began with ample time to explore Amsterdam. During our stay, we we so lucky to make two food-related discoveries that made a huge impression on my palatte! The first is Graham’s Kitchen in the De Pijp neighborhood. We made a reservation here on a whim based on a foodie blog review I read about a deconstructed English breakfast appetizer created by an English chef living in Amsterdam. I had no idea if this would pay off and as we walked through the residential neighborhood to find this restaurant, Josh was really starting to wonder what I had gotten us into! The risk paid off 100% and we gobbled up our reward! I promise you, Dinner at Graham’s kitchen is a MUST! We hit the jackpot when we realized our server was Chef Graham himself and he personally served us every dish with stories about the ingredients, the inspiration for the recipes, etc. This restaurant is a true hidden gem!

U by Uniworld: free time in Amsterdam

U by Uniworld: stroopwafel in Amsterdam

Next, we set out to visit some of the famous Amsterdam museums, but we were stupid. We didn’t go early and we didn’t pre-book anything. So, when we saw the lines and calculated the wait times, we also gave up early. I should have known better but I am my own worst client as well as my own worst travel agent and I didn’t give myself time to plan ahead. The next Amsterdam trip will be very museum heavy to make up for my mistake! The silver lining for us this time around is that we had a little extra time to get a little extra adventurous about our lunch plans. Another great perk from U by Uniworld was the complementary 24-hour transit pass and the advice from the staff on how to get around Amsterdam. So, we hopped on a tram and headed to the Foodhallen – how could we not?! The Foodhallen is a beautiful industrial barn full of little food stalls and bars featuring everything from tacos to dim sum, to burgers, and much more. And, of course, we had to end our adventure with some decadent  stroopwafels. We had a blast and ate very well that day!

U by Uniworld: Cheesemaking in Rudesheim

Fucking Good Cheese in Rudesheim

Pardon my French, but that’s actually the name of a cheesemaking experience hosted by a very smart, patient, and entertaining master cheesemaker in Rudesheim, Germany. This was, by far, the best experience we had on the entire trip. We learned that making cheese takes time and patience and the best thing to do while you are waiting for your cheese to do its thing is drink wine and eat cheese! The class was held in the Vinothek Rheinweinwelt and the best description I can find for this amazing place is to call it a Wine Casino. We were given little tokens and shown into a wine gallery that is one of the most unique and creatively repurposed spaces I’ve ever seen. These magical tokens were the key to tasting a fantastic collection of wines from the Rhine River region. What a fun, wine & cheese fueled day!

U by Uniworld: wine tasting

So, is U by Uniworld a good option for you? Here’s my advice’

Know What You’re Buying:

If you’ve been on another River Cruise, you will definitely want to check your expectations. The U by Uniworld pricing is very appealing when compared to those other ships, but don’t get distracted by the savings until you understand what you’re buying. This cruise should not be compared to the other options on the market; it is a product that stands in its own category and many of the things you were accustomed to on other cruises may not be available or the same on this cruise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you don’t want to be caught off guard.

U by Uniworld pricing starts at $1500 per person for a full week cruise. This includes 2 meals daily (brunch and dinner), a number of complementary shore excursions, gratuities, and some complementary on board activities like a DJ party or wine tasting.

Age Does Not Define This Demographic:

You might have heard that U by Uniworld has an age limit – this is false. When they first announced the new cruise line, they did intend to limit the cruise to guests in the age range of 21-45 but they have since rescinded that policy. U by Uniworld is onto something really interesting with this new format for river cruising and it will appeal to travelers of all ages. The appeal is more about a casual lifestyle and a fresh, unstructured approach to the destination. This, of course, will naturally appeal to a younger demographic but it isn’t exclusive to younger travelers by any means. If you are a laid back traveler looking for a relaxed social environment and very little structure for touring, then you will fit right it.

Be Prepared to Go It Alone:

Each U by Uniworld Itinerary offers complementary touring, which are very basic walking tours using the ship’s guides. This is really location-dependent in terms of knowledge from the guide. The free tours are good for stretching your legs and getting a lay of the land. The tours that have an extra fee are well curated and of a higher quality featuring very creative and unique experiences with knowledgeable local guides. The cruise does not offer an overabundance of excursion options so you will do well to plan ahead and understand when/where you will be on your own to explore or you might want to pre-book a private tour.

One of the best parts about U by Uniworld is how accommodating you are to your own schedule. The ship is often sailing during mid-day. So, if you get off the ship in the morning and you don’t want to be held to the ship’s tight schedule, just plan to take the train to meet the ship at the next docking point! No stress, no hassle, the ship’s crew will even give you directions to the train station and recommendations for which train to take! They make it very easy for you to be independent!

If you are curious about U by Uniworld, let us know! I would be happy to help you compare your options and help you make the right choice for your next adventure!

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Tasmania Destination Report

Tasmania is stunningly beautiful! It is not commonly found on an itinerary for a first-time visit to Australia, but I am so glad I chose to include it in my trip plans. After two nights in Hobart and a site-inspection at Saffire, Josh and I spent 3-nights at Cradle Mountain Lodge exploring and hiking in the National park. This was a perfect blend of beautiful landscapes, fresh air, and wildlife.

Click the images for for in-depth reports from each stop on our itinerary:

1) Exploring Hobart, Tasmania:

A new boutique hotel with lots of personality, a weekend market, and whiskey tasting!Tasmania - Exploring Hobart

2) Site-Inspection at Saffire:

If only we had enough time to stay! Freycinet is stunning and this hotel deserves more than an afternoon to fully enjoy it:Tasmania - Saffire Freycinet

3) Hiking and Wildlife at Cradle Mountain:

Here, your VIP arrival greeter is a wombat! Tasmania - Cradle Mountain

Bonus wombat video!

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