Blame it on the Beach Boys: the perpetually sunny destination welcomes close to 1.5 million visitors every year—and it often gets a bad rap for being too touristy. And while the $1 billion that’s pouring into the 70-square-mile isle (an airport makeover, a redone cruise terminal) will bring even more people, its first true luxury hotel is changing the traveler profile. Located on the far, quiet end of popular Palm Beach, the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba ($$$$) is loaded with amenities: two pools, five restaurants, a 15-treatment-room spa (try the Dushi Tera salt scrub), and a flashy casino. Dine off-campus at Baby Beach, where you can fill up on johnnycakes at local favorite Big Mama Grill (297/568-5688; no dinner; $). At Zeerover (297/584-8401; $$), in southern Savaneta, order the morning catch—wahoo or snapper—with plantains, pan bati (corn bread), and a cold Balashi brew. The capital city of Oranjestad has a new eco-friendly trolley system and 10-mile boardwalk. To see the island’s sights, including the landmark California Lighthouse and the Casibari Rock Formation, book a half-day excursion with De Palm Tours.
Curious eyes followed us as we trekked under tamarind trees on a dirt path that traced the shore of the Mekong River. With villagers watching expectantly, we turned to enter the gates of a 19th-century mansion, a beautifully decaying French-Vietnamese pile near Cai Be. At that moment, a shirtless old man emerged, confused, then began to laugh. “You didn’t tell me you were coming,” he chided our guide, Yee Nguyen, in Vietnamese, throwing on a loose polo shirt. The owner of this architectural relic, it turned out, was Nguyen’s uncle. I couldn’t imagine what the jocular 80-year-old was thinking—with our global group of Italians, Mexicans, Americans, Australians, and French, it’s like the UN showed up at his door—and we were equally surprised to be standing in his living room. A behind-the-scenes tour of this fresco-lined house wasn’t on the day’s agenda, but I’d already come to expect the unexpected on day two of this five-day trip, the inaugural upriver cruise with Aqua Expeditions through Vietnam and Cambodia.
After more than a decade at Goldman Sachs, Scialla left his position as partner to focus full time on Delos. The company, founded in 2007, pioneered wellness-driven real estate, or housing that keeps health and quality of life in mind during its design and construction process. Along with a soon-to-open residential community in Greenwich Village, Delos has transformed 42 units at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casinos in Las Vegas into Stay Well Rooms—design details include water and air filtration systems, natural cedar closets and minibars packed with healthy snacks—and 142 more rooms are in the works. Below, Scialla tells Travel + Leisure more about Delos, and gives us tips for staying healthy on the road.
Q: What got you interested in wellness real estate?
A: A few years ago I was renovating my loft in New York City’s Meatpacking District, and I wanted to enhance the space by adding in some spa-like wellness amenities. I began doing some research and quickly discovered that no one was offering this type of wellness solution for homes. While there was such a large focus on green building and environmental sustainability, I started wondering, “Why stop at environment sustainability? Why not focus on human sustainability, as well?”
After a slew of food industry jobs, including a stint as the director of Slow Food Nation in San Francisco, Anya Fernald turned her attention to Belcampo, a food and agritourism company that owns and sustainably manages farms in California, Belize and Uruguay. The Belize property, located in Punta Gorda, is also a 16-room resort where guests can learn to harvest coffee beans and roast their own blends, or pick cacao to make bars of chocolate.
Below, Fernald, who travels up to two weeks of every month, tells us about her jet-setting style—and her favorite in-flight foods.
Q: What is Belcampo best known for in the U.S.?
A: Meat! We produce excellent grass-fed and finished beef as well as pork, poultry, lamb, and goat on our 20,000-acre farm in Northern California. All of our meat is sold through our own shops. The first one is open in Marin County, and we’re opening five more in the Bay Area and greater Los Angeles area in the next few months.
McCready thinks of his 18-month-old company as the Match.com of the music industry: Instead of potential lovebirds, though, Music Xray connects musicians with industry professionals who are looking for single song licenses or record deals.
McCready travels all over the U.S. and Europe for meetings with music companies. Below, he tells us more about Music Xray, and how he navigates life on the road.
Q: How does Music Xray work?
A: We build tools that help industry professionals—radio program directors, producers and managers, for example—glean high potential songs and talent from among the vast amount of independent music that’s available. Professionals can collectively filter through thousands of songs per day, identify quality material and pool their screening efforts. In other words, we empower our members to sort through a large haystack of music, pull out the needles and create a “needlestack” which other music pros can then cherry pick for the best songs and talent.
Based in Vienna, Austria, Julian Breitenecker is the founder and CEO of Locca, a technology company that launched LoccaMini, the world’s smallest GPS tracking device. Ideal for checked and carry-on luggage, the 1.7-inch gadget has a 30-day battery life, it’s waterproof and shockproof, and it’s loaded with features such as a motion detector and audio responder that can be managed from your smart phone, tablet or desktop.
Below, Breitenecker, who often jet sets to tech summits in cities like Dublin and Cologne, Germany, tells us more about Locca—and shares his top travel tips.
Q: What inspired you to create the LoccaMini?
A:My motivation wasn’t actually business-based. I was traveling in Tel Aviv and lost my two-year-old son for a few terrifying minutes. I thought about creating a device that could keep track my child’s whereabouts and soon realized it could easily apply to important belongings as well. Locating luggage is one of the most popular uses.
Q: I want to take a learning vacation, but the options are bewildering. Where do I start?
A: Find the trip that’s right for you by letting your passions guide you and then choosing the company to match. Here, five ideas to get you started.
Ecology and Wildlife
Brazil: An Ecologist’s Tour of the Pantanal,Cornell’s Adult University: Explore the world’s largest wetland on this expedition led by Cornell professors Cole Gilbert and Linda Rayor. Travelers track ocelots, jaguars, and endangered hyacinth macaws, and enjoy creature comforts at lodges such as Pousada Piuval, on a 17,000-acre ranch. 607/255-6260; 10 days from $6,430 per person.
Geology and Archaeology
Grand Canyon Trip,McCabe World Travel: Professor Keith Watts leads a tour of northern Arizona and southern Utah, with an overview of the Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and trips to remote waterfalls and hidden Native American pictographs. 703/762-5049; eight days from $3,500 per person.
Papua New Guinea Through the Lens,Asia Transpacific Journeys: On a new itinerary to Papua New Guinea’s remote villages, visit sacred spirit houses on the Sepik River while getting hands-on shooting tips from Michele Westmorland, an award-winning photographer who has visited the country 27 times. 800/642-2742; 12 days from $10,695 per person.
A Mediterranean Summer,Swan Hellenic Discovery Cruising: Set sail from Portsmouth, England, to Rome on the 350-passenger Minerva—fresh from a $10 million overhaul. You’ll attend onboard lectures by noted professors, disembarking along the way at iconic sites such as the Alhambra palace, in Granada, Spain, and the Italian port town of Civitavecchia. 866/923-9182; 15 days from $2,499 per person.
Religion and Culture
Rejuvenating Himalayas,Learning Journeys: This trip through northern India focuses on the philosophies behind yoga and meditation with lectures and practice. Stops include Rishikesh and Haridwar, where wellness is central to spiritual life, as well as the Ananda resort in the Himalayas. 855/784-7687; 12 days from $3,550 per person.
Breaking news for surfing enthusiasts: The new website Wavecation.com—think of it as a HomeAway or VRBO tailored to the surfing community—lists hotels, private homes, and other rental options close to ride-worthy waves all over the globe. The most important criteria? The property has to be oceanfront (or front-row, in cases when a jungle or other natural barrier blocks coastal views) to the water and surf spots. “These places are the equivalent of ski-in, ski-out properties on a snow mountain,” says founder Matt Thomson, who has turned down a number of interested homeowners to maintain his super specific standards. The Austin-based resident is surf-obsessed himself. He started riding when he was 12 and has traveled the world—from the coasts of Nicaragua and Mexico to Hawaii and California—in search of the best breaks.
New hotel clubs and programs for kids and families seem to be popping up everywhere. Fairmont properties in Miami, Hawaii, Bermuda, Singapore and other cities around the world have introduced the R.U. Ready? series, motivating kids to make friends and keep in shape through outdoor relays and competitions and active indoor video and computer games.
Every city, it seems, has its own follow-up question, that line that comes after “How are you?” when meeting someone for the first time. In New York City, it’s “What do you do?”; in Austin, it’s “Who are you listening to?”; in D.C., it’s “Who are you voting for?”; and after only one day of visiting my sister in Charleston, that South Carolina city’s question rang out as loud and as clear as the hourly bells on Church Street: “Welcome to Charleston! Grab a seat! Now…what will you have to drink?”
The answer, alas, does not roll off the tongue as easily as the question, and as my sister quickly discovered, locals need to be prepared—with shaker in hand—for almost any answer.