Courtesy of Healing Hotels of the World
The concept of “wellness” has become a mainstay in travel. An entire section of the ITB trade show was given over to hotels where you can pamper yourself while improving your health. Dr. Elisabeth Ixmeier, founder of Healing Hotels of the World, extolled the healing virtues of some of her member properties, including Kamalaya on Koh Samui island in Thailand and Rancho La Puerta in Mexico. “As another example, to lose weight with strict discipline and medical oversight, we might refer you to Lanserhof in Austria,” she says. Something more sybaritic? Ixmeier suggests Ananda (pictured), a tranquil destination spa in the Himalayas, near Rishikesh, India.
Courtesy of DB Bahn
Vintage Train Trips
The German railroad Deutsche Bahn believes in the allure of vintage trains, and the Trans Europ Express train Rheingold, a powerful electric engine and accompanying rolling stock from the 1960s, is its highlight. The sleek train, with deluxe dining car and glass-domed observation car, travels about Europe like a gypsy, passing through villages and countryside by day and stopping in cosmopolitan cities overnight, where passengers repair to deluxe hotels until the whistle blows the next morning. Train travel is also being smiled on again in America; President Obama included $8 billion for high-speed rail in his stimulus package, to be spent in the next two years.
Courtesy of GoPhilanthropic
Doing Good While Going Abroad
Responsible tourism in all its guises, from ecotourism and indigenous travel to volunteerism and green hotels, continues to gain in popularity. One New York travel company called GoPhilanthropic weaves altruism into tailor-made trips to popular international destinations. “Our basic premise is that we can’t travel to five-star hotels and not acknowledge the poverty outside the window,” says founder John Dean. “Instead of handing out money or giving the wrong kind of gift, we work with local nonprofits or NGOs and support their ongoing efforts.” Some of GoPhilanthropic’s clients have gone to Hoi An, Vietnam, to deliver textbooks to a local school. Others have visited a village in Cambodia, where their dollars have helped to build a much needed well, or traveled to Elephant Nature Park in Thailand (pictured). “It’s not volunteering,” says Dean, “but meeting and having real exchanges with local people and contributing in a meaningful way.”
Courtesy of Bangkok Hospital
A surgical vacation? It might sound strange, but if you have to undergo a medical procedure, why not do it where you can get both first-rate hospital care and the pleasures of an exotic destination. For just one example, Thailand’s largest healthcare provider, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, has 12 hospitals in locations ranging from Bangkok to the tropical islands of Phuket and Koh Samui. The prices are relatively affordable (upper and lower eyelid surgery for $1,500; face and neck lift, $5,600; liposuction of the thighs and buttocks, $2,500) but the rooms are plush. Some of the patients’ suites come with a living room, flat-screen TVs, and an overstuffed lounge chair next to the bed. You’ll pay an additional fee of up to $400 a day for your accommodations, including nursing care and room-service meals.
Help with the Kids
Passengers on Gulf Air who are traveling with children have the advantage of onboard babysitters called sky nannies. It’s the nannies’ task to assist with and entertain the kids on Gulf Air’s service to and from the Middle Eastern microstate of Bahrain, the airline’s home base. Look for other airlines to develop ways to handle those unruly youngsters on long flights. Now, if only they had a sky masseuse program….
Courtesy of Kaldewei
Big Showers, Small Tubs
Donata Donzelli, project manager in Italy for Kaldewei, doesn’t think deeper is better when it comes to bathtubs. She particularly likes the company’s shallow version. “It’s shallow but long,” she says. “So you can actually float in it.” But bathtubs are in decline overall in hotels, losing their space to stand-alone showers—especially showers built for two.