There’s no denying COVID-19 has changed the face, heck, the whole body, of travel for good (as evidenced above). Currently air travel involves temperature screenings, masks and a lack of onboard service, while hotels have implemented strict safety and cleanliness measures. The idea of where to go next has changed likely forever.
However, chin up, fellow travelers! We shall prevail and continue to traverse the globe, exploring, learning and absorbing the beauty that is available to us. We as travelers will have to adapt to the new normal, just as the hotels, airlines and destinations have had to as well.
I look forward to helping you all navigate this new normal. Stay tuned here for updates on hotel openings, creative ways to travel in this new environment and inspiration, as always, for where to go next.
If you follow hotel news like me, then it’s no surprise that my recent trip to Los Cabos was absolutely essential for my work as a Travel Professional: writer and advisor alike. The amount of new luxury hotels opening over the past three years is astounding and it appears that every luxury brand now has a holding on the Baja Peninsula, from the new Four Seasons at Costa Palmas to Nobu to Montageand Waldorf Astoria. All the big guys are there, and as they should be.
As an East Coaster the charms of Cabo were somewhat off my radar, but now as a second-time visitor, I can firmly say: I’m hooked. The weather is supreme, the food truly sensational and the service is second-to-none. I absolutely adore Cabo for a quick getaway and envy those West Coasters for the feasibility. However, it is becoming easier for us East Coasters too with direct flights from United and more promised from Jet Blue and America. And I will say, even though I did have to connect through Atlanta, I would do it again. The guacamole, margaritas and practically guaranteed sunshine quickly alleviates any travel burden. Touring the multitude of new properties has given me a sense of the tremendous variety afforded to the Cabo visitor – from families to couples to solo travelers, there’s an ideal spot for everyone – it simply depends on your priorities.
As a guest at the newly refurbished Waldorf Astoria Pedregal this past trip, in all honesty, exceeded my expectations. Having visited the property during my first Cabo tour to enjoy its scenic waterside restaurant, El Farallon (a must when in town – pictured above) I was familiar with the hotel’s distinct location accessed through a mountain tunnel and its long expansive beachfront. However, what I wasn’t aware of was the remarkable hospitality and incredible food and beverage product at the property – not to mention the front seat views I had of spouting whales from my room’s plunge pool.
Look, it’s hard not to fall in love with a hotel who delivers fresh guacamole, chips and coronitas to your room daily at 4pm. Yet, that was just the tip of the iceberg. I was elated to find that I was pleased at every meal – from breakfast fruit served in a coconut and chilaquiles made to order to lunch filled with various fresh ceviches and elegant dinners including duck and mole. And I haven’t even begun on the tequila list, the variety of fresh margaritas (go Cucumber during the day and extra spicy at night) and curious Mexican wines. Maybe I’m partial because Mexican food is one of my all time favorites, but I was surprised to see the hotel deliver on all its levels of presentation. Fortunately the gym was also commendable, clean and spacious while the long beach made for the best sunrise walk passing by fishermen surf- casting and other early morning spectators. The Spa is yet another element of the resort that must not be missed. Dedicated to the moon phases and utilizing as much local natural products and ancient customs, it’s not your average spa. The spirituality component is strongly emphasized thus enhancing that sought-after transporting feeling. I walked away from my ancient ritual massage feeling restored body and mind. Success! I won’t lie, I also enjoyed the hotel boutique which is filled with lovely local artisan work as well as the requisite resort beachwear. The sale prices helped, too. I do so enjoy when a hotel exceeds my expectations. After so many years in the business, it’s extra special to see a property you have known adapt and improve to its full potential. Kudos Waldorf for bringing this special property to an impressive standard.
Other properties I visited and have stayed in Cabo are:
One & Only Palmilla
Ventanas al Paraiso
Cabo Surf Hotel
As always, it’s helpful to know the differences between them so you choose accordingly. Give me a ring and I can help
Europe, Food + Wine, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Italy
Check instagram for a look into just how popular this Italian city and its distinct glamour are with the world. Of course, a visit will quickly show you its popularity with American college-age students, eager to gobble up first-person experiences of studying abroad and all that entails. However, despite all its popularity, the city and its Medici-enthused antiquities and art objects remain a sight to behold, somehow eschewing total Disney-esque status and allowing the city to continue its far-reaching appeal to almost any traveler. Of course, when something is as beautiful as Florence truly is, not even mass tourism can make her ugly. That said, here are a few tips from my most recent visit to ensure the beauty is the majority of what you see:
1. Do make the trek up the hills into Fiesole, just 20 minutes outside the city. The views are spectacular and offer a rare look into what it might have looked centuries ago (albeit with less structures, but still red roofs and cypress trees) I recommend indulging at the Belmond Villa San Michele (pictured below) whether it be for meal or a stay, as it does set quite an exclamation point behind the look and feel of a regal villa in the hills.
2. Do consider hiring a touring company to get you a bit more behind the scenes. As mentioned above, the crowds are no joke and thus paying a bit more to go behind the vaulted palace doors and up to a private terrace (pictured below) can take your visit from wonderful to magical.
3. Walk, walk and walk some more – until your feet beg for a cafe chair and a spritz. The city is extremely walkable and some of its best-kept gems are just beyond the center. Not to mention bolthole views like the one below, which are only spied by crossing the Arno and heading upward.
4. Stop and marvel as often as possible. You’ll be surprised to find that some of the most precious and historic elements of the city’s history are not behind museum walls. Of course below is a replica of the famous statue, but the Palazzo behind it allows visitors and inside are treasure to behold and open to all.