Bali: Your Trip to Paradise

beach and Pura Batu Bolong temple Nusa Dua, Bali.jpg

Pura Batu Bolong Temple – Nusa Dua, Bali

When it’s time to think about a warm winter getaway, time to think Bali. The popular tour company, World Spree, is offering an 11-day Exotic Bali package for only $1,899 from New York or San Francisco ($200 more from Los Angeles) that includes round-trip air on China Airlines, taxes, fuel surcharges, fabulous hotels, daily breakfast, five other meals, all ground transportation, sightseeing tours and a professional English-speaking guide.  And $1,899 is probably less than you’d spend to go to the  same old Caribbean or Hawaii.

Why Bali?

borobudur-night

Borobudur by Night

Bali is a chance to experience a totally different culture, while also enjoying a sun-splashed beach vacation. The trip starts with five nights in Bali’s cultural capital, the picturesque hill town of Ubud, full of color and chaos, artists’ studios, handicrafts shops and garden restaurants. Here, you’ll stay in the stylish boutique resort Alaya Ubud, which is surrounded by emerald green rice paddies but within walking distance of downtown. Its elegant Balinese-style rooms are complemented by a spa, swimming pool and restaurant.

Bat cave (Goa Lawah), Bali, Indonesia.jpg

Bat Cave (Goa Lawah)

Balinese Hinduism, the predominant religion, shapes much of the island’s life and culture.  There are thousands of temples and shrines and colorful religious ceremonies can be seen regularly.  You’ll visit a temple fed by local springs and have the chance to take part in a traditional purification ceremony, and visit a Monkey Forest that’s home to three holy monkey temples. Just remember, they’re wild monkeys and not afraid of humans, so keep an eye out as they can get frisky! Other excursions include a famous coffee plantation,  the Mother Temple , lunch on the edge of a volcano caldera with a breathtaking view of Lake Batur, and a  special day in a village where you will be warmly welcomed by the locals.

Beach Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.jpg

Beach Nusa Dua

Then comes the totally relaxing part of the vacation: four nights at  the luxurious Melia Bali Resort in Nusa Dua, famous for its glorious white sandy beaches lapped by warm shallow waters and surrounded by lush green foliage.  There are tons of possibilities here (a safari, ocean rafting, a catamaran cruise, shopping in Kuta, a traditional fire dance) or just soaking up the sun and enjoying the serenity of this exotic  beachfront resort that overlooks a reef-fringed lagoon , exhuberant tropical gardens and a swimming pool that winds through the grounds.

Beach chairs on perfect tropical white sand beach Bali.jpg

Beach chairs on a perfect tropical white sand beach… sigh

Two post-trip options are offered on the way home: a 4-day Stopover in cosmopolitan Singapore, with its exciting cuisine and great shopping ($599 per person) or a 3-day Stopover in Taiwan, which has wonderful Chinese food and a world-class museum ($220 per person). All prices quoted are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability.  There is no additional charge for credit cards. 

www.worldspree.com

 

A Majestic Tour of the Emerald Isle

Ireland Tours.jpg

Majestic Ireland

Her crashing coastline, sky-piercing mountains, glacial lakes, sleepy surf towns and characterful castles set the stage for your own personal Emerald Isle production with your very own tour company. Enter: Wilderness Ireland’s new collection of adventure vacations. Designed by locals and delivered by local legends, the seven trips are said to “bring travelers closer to the source of where adventure meets fantasy and where fiction comes to life.” Works for us. Oh, and get this… the rock pinnacles of the Skellig Islands will feature prominently in Rogue One, the latest Star Wars flick for those who want to geek out and get a Star Wars location scout visit. Oh, and for Game of Thrones fans, the small village along the Causeway Coastal Route is better known as the location for Game of Thrones’ Iron Island. The best part? A favorable exchange rate and countless flight options makes it the perfect time to experience Ireland’s wild landscapes and enchanting history.

Here’s our latest eco-adventuring pick for Ireland’s fair sights:

Wilderness Ireland’s new small-group tours debut in Spring 2017

  • Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry: On foot and by boat, travelers discover Kerry and Cork, exploring the wildest corners of the striking southwest where tales of pirate invasions were born and ancient Neolithic sites are scattered across the land. Amongst many highlights is the climb up the bare rock steps of the UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael. The Skellig Islands were home to Christian monks until the 12th Century and are now a filming location for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII. Travelers might also spot whales, puffins, dolphins, seals and sharks from the coastal trails.
  • Hiking the Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal: The Causeway Coastal Route is home to rolling mountains awash with local legends and myths, the highest sea cliffs in Europe and remote lodges dishing out fresh seafood from the Atlantic. From the most northerly point of Ireland at Malin Head, hikers can look across the windswept landscapes and its ancient archaeological remains, before the ascent up Mount Errigal to Glenveagh castle. Guests traverse the Pilgrim’s Path, a route once used for Christian pilgrimage, to meet with a local tweed-maker still practicing his craft on a traditional handloom.
  • Cycling and Yoga Escape: Each day begins with a gentle yoga session to help cyclists prepare for their two-wheel journey in the peaceful north-west. From laidback surfing villages to wild mountain ranges and historic pubs overlooking the Atlantic, this bike tour has it all. Travelers cycle through the charming Irish countryside and across glaciated valleys to ancient castles.
  • Hiking the Ring of Kerry Mountains: Hikers summit some of Ireland’s highest peaks in Killarney National Park, Corrán Tuathail and Mount Brandon, and take lost pilgrimage paths along the sea cliff’s edge to white sandy beaches. Travelers uncover the legend of Cú Chulainn and the giant as they explore the stories of the Dingle Peninsula. Evenings are enjoyed in cozy inns with traditional live music and the finest local fare.

Hiking the Mountains of Connemara and Mayo: Following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, hikers will conquer three of the highest mountains in the west of Ireland. Guests explore the spectacular mountain and bog wilderness of Connemara, home to Ireland’s only true fjord, Killary Harbour. Watching wild dolphins play in the nearby surf makes the Mayo Coastal Trek one of Ireland’s most memorable.

  • Bike Tour – Connemara and the Aran Islands: The westernmost regions of Ireland have their own distinct culture and traditions. Places such as the Aran Islands are the last bastion of the Irish Gaelic language. Back on the mainland, in The Burren National Park, ancient tombs, friendly farming communities, and cozy pubs are natural complements to the exhilaration of riding through this majestic landscape.
  • Hiking the Burren, Aran Islands and Connemara: The limestone landscape of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher are blanketed in colourful wildflowers in summer. Travelers follow the winding paths of the Aran Islands to visit Europe’s most important prehistoric sites and enjoy outstanding views of Galway Bay, Connemara and Black Head.

WildernessIreland.com

New Orleans: Jazzcats, Black Marble, and Oysters Bienville

Arnaud’s Restaurant

Enjoy the joie de vivre New Orleans is so well known for by focusing on the sinfully, decadent aspects of New Orleans that are as excessive and exotic as the melting pot of cultures that fuel the city’s eclectic mythos.

From music and food to hotels and shopping, New Orleans never strays from its mantra – “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”  In fact, the streets of New Orleans mimic a heartbeat as they vibrate to the sounds of jazz, and the air swirls about filled with scents of Creole dishes now so widely popular they are as familiar as the city itself.

The Lucifer Room at The Saint Hotel

Define your New Orleans stay as you select one of two mega suites to dwell in at The Saint Hotel.  The Archangel Lucifer Suite or the Archangel Michael Suite are startlingly different atmospheres.  The 2,000-square-foot Lucifer Suite is full of luxurious red velvet, black marble and Victorian antiques.  But, if you want to be center stage, that’s no problem as the suite features a private stage with dance pole, lighting and sound system.  Completely opposite is the Michael Suite which is equally as spacious, but gives you the ultimate “heaven on earth” experience.  Full of natural light with 10 floor-to-ceiling windows, the blues, whites and contemporary finishes make you feel as if you’ve ascended into the sky.

www.thesainthotelneworleans.com

Even music in New Orleans has its unique way of warming your soul and inspiring decadent experiences.  Sure the French Quarter is full of great places to hear music, but don’t overlook Frenchman Street.  Iconic jazz clubs such as Snug Harbor, The Spotted Cat and The Maison feature both emerging and notable jazz artists.  Take some Louisiana music home with you and plan a stop to the Louisiana Music Factory, an independent music store specializing in local music.

Windsor Court Spa

Windsor Court Spa

But, don’t forget to relax in true New Orleans’ style.  You no longer have to dream about what it would be like to enjoy a Sommelier’s selection of sparkling wine or champagne inside of a 6,500 square-foot private spa, the Spa at Windsor Court can deliver this experience for a mere $12,500. You don’t have to worry about being pampered alone; you can invite 8-10 of your friends as well.  The expansive space includes two relaxation rooms to sip on hot tea and cucumber water, seven service rooms with your choice of New Orleans best esthetic treatments, body treatments, massage, and nail services. Also, don’t forget the heated outdoor salt water pool where pool attendants will wait on you hand & foot.

No matter how you experience New Orleans, you must indulge in the city’s Creole cuisine.  Since 1918, Arnaud’s is one of New Orleans’ most historic restaurants serving Creole creations such as their signature dish, Shrimp Arnaud, and their original Oysters Bienville, prepared with fresh gulf oysters, shrimp, mushrooms, green onions, herbs and seasonings in a white wine sauce.  While there, be sure to slip upstairs for a glimpse into Mardi Gras history at Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum.  Wells reigned as queen of more Mardi Gras balls than anyone in history, and the display of opulent gowns and memorabilia showcase a unique sliver of local history.

So stop looking for a destination that sets the standard for luxury travel and look to New Orleans who has redefined luxury travel.  Somehow, just like the cultures that blend together creating the city’s vibrant atmosphere, New Orleans combines its history and modern amenities to create a one-of-a-kind hedonistic experience you won’t soon forget.

The Top Sailing Destinations Around the World

This week, Guest Contributor, Nicole Noel, shares her Top 7 Most Fabulous Sailing Destinations around the World with our Jaunt Magazine readers.

The fact that you love to sail speaks volumes about you. That is what you will find if you listen to the experienced sailor, Super Calin. He states that, according to his experience, people who enjoy sailing are smart and confident. They are adventurous and they know how to enjoy life (Super Calin, January 2015). All these traits are enhanced if you try to enjoy sailing at some of these seven amazing places.

Capri

Capri, Italy

1. Capri, Italy

One of the most amazing things happens in Capri. It is the annual Rolex Sailing Week. It takes place in May because of the amazing sailing weather. Enjoy the view of inshore racing around the volcanic sceneries and Aeolian Islands. If you have what it takes, join the races and make the most o this event.

French Riviera

Who doesn’t love the French Riviera?

2. French Riviera

The charm and the luxury of the French Riviera are reserved for those that enjoy the luxury. The Gulf of St. Tropez needs to be a part of your itinerary. Explore the lagoons and visit the Medieval Cogolin. You can also just stay at the port and admire the stunning, luxurious yachts docked there.

Croatia

Croatia

3. Croatia

You will pass thousands of islands once you enter the waters of Croatia. You can take your pick and visit the great, history packed city of Dubrovnik, or you can opt for some small, village taverns. Let the locals show you their fish specialties and do not forget to ask for a glass of a homemade Dalmatian wine.

Turkey

The Turkish Coast

4. Turkey

Definitely start at Olympos and head to Gokkaya Bay. The waters are amazing and everywhere you chose to make a stop, the Turkish cuisine will spoil you for any other. Two stops are necessary, though: the sunken city will be underneath you as you sail over the ruins of the city that was destroyed 2000 years ago. It is the part of the World Heritage. Also, dock and go to explore Simena Castle, once you reach it.

Whitsunday

Whitsunday Island, Australia

5. Whitsunday Island, Australia

This place is famous for its amazing white beaches and jaw-dropping color of water around it. It is a secluded place where people come to relax and spend a day in perfect nature. You can make this a perfect chance to let somebody do your boat detailing while you spend a day on this beach. That is why you need to make this a part of your trip. Forget about activities and adrenaline rushes and let the nature itself amaze you. It is a tropical paradise of peace.

TahitiS

French Polynesia

6. French Polynesia

Tahiti and Bora Bora are the destinations where the rich and famous go for their honeymoons and hedonistic trips to unwind and relax. The nature and the waters are awesome and full of wildlife. If you want to get in close touch with the nature, seek for a guide that will give you the shark feeding experience. That definitely adds to the thrill of sailing at this natural paradise.

Nile

Sailing the Magnificent Nile

7. Nile, Egypt

The Ancient river of Nile is the cradle of all life. Just by going down this river, you can meditate on that fact alone. However, to experience the ancient culture, make a stop in Sudan. Visit the wonderful ancient Meroe Royal City. You will see the tops of over two hundred pyramids. This was the ruling place of the Black Pharaohs.

The waters will take you to the most amazing places if you let them. Exploring the world from the sea is a perfect way to learn more about nature, history and world in general. Therefore, take that chance and make this list your checklist for the future.

Nicole

Nicole Noel

 

Nicole Noel is an avid traveller. She enjoys discovering different cultures, exploring new things, and sharing her ideas with others. You can find her on twitter and FB

Melbourne: Art Hotels, Beer Hall Drinks, and Jazz

Melbourne's Jazz Festival (c) PiecesofVictoria.com

Melbourne’s Jazz Festival (c) PiecesofVictoria.com

Most people don’t know that Melbourne is well voted, time and time again, as one of the world’s most livable cities. With it’s impressive calendar of high profile events throughout the year, including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (May 30 – June 8, 2014), Melbourne International Film Festival (July 31 – August 17, 2014) Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival (November 4, 2014), and the Australian Open Tennis Championships (January 19 – February 1, 2015), it’s also the gateway to regional Victoria, with her deserts, alpine ski resorts, mighty rivers, great lakes, wildlife, and unparalleled spectacle known as the Great Ocean Road. At the same time, art and design groups are flourishing, alongside Melbourne’s natural beauty.

mark_schaller

For example, luxury boutique hotel group, Art Series Hotels is bringing their well-known art inspired concept to regional and urban cities around Australia in a compact & affordable way. First stop, Bendigo – the regional hub of art and culture – and the perfect location for the first studio inspired hotel.

Artist Mark Schaller, today regarded as one of Australia’s strongest mid career artists with his expressionistic, vigorous style, will join the fold. A founding member of the renowned Roar studios in the early 1980’s, his paintings and prints that have been acquired by major institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and National Gallery of Victoria. He’s the real deal.

And… we love the idea of the art studio hotel. No, we actually live for it. A hotel is the best possible location for an experience filled with art and design. To not simply to stay in a location, but to experience the vision and emotion of each designated artist while also on vacation. That is at least one meaning in life. If not the best one.

PS. The second Art Series Studio, Larwill Studio will open in Parkville, Melbourne in December.

Tonka

Tonka

If that’s not reason enough to check out Melbourne, you also have their unique dining and cocktail scene. We hear Adam D’Sylva’s Tonka is a throwback to his Indian and Italian heritage, featuring cocktails including the Darjeeling Fizz, Tonka Lassi and Miguel’s Milk Punch, while Cookie combines Thai food with its mantra of being a Beer Hall, Eating House and Disco to create the perfect environment to dine, flirt, sip and reminisce. The walls are adorned with murals and artwork from Melbourne artists, and the popular ‘kiss wall’ eventuated of its own accord and is now covered with scores of lipstick kisses amassed over the years.

Cookie

Cookie

Sounds pretty good to me.

For more information on things to do, places to go, and sights to see in Melbourne, click the link to for Travel Victoria’s website.

We also liked the list of Melbourne’s hot Jazz clubs on the blog, PiecesofVictoria.com. According to their blog, they said to check out, among others:

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, a Melbourne institution known for late night jams and dubbed by Lonely Planet as “the world’s best jazz club”. Located in a back alley off Little Lonsdale Street, the club has been around for more than 20 years.

25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne

Uptown Jazz Café, hidden up an unassuming set of stairs on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, there’s live music four nights a week and the stage is graced by a renowned list of local and international acts. There’s also a solid Japanese restaurant downstairs if you want to grab a bite prior.

177 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

 

Looking for Om in 2014? Here are some Yoga Trips for You

Namaste

Namaste

We all know yoga based vacations are gaining popularity with travelers looking for a balance between wellness and exploring a new place and intriguing culture. Our readers love ’em! Rachel Quinn, Head of Group Sales for Holidays for Humanity, also states that over 35% of their enquiries now include requests for yoga, alongside some other vacation “must haves” like white sandy beaches, water sports, and tropical encounters.

So, we thought we’d share several new ideas of yoga trips to kick off the new year right!

Yoga Vacations for Sailors in Turkey

This sailing journey is an exclusive one-of-a-kind voyage that offers guests a chance to practice yoga among the enchanting blue waters of the Turkish Mediterranean coast. The striking coastline, with its pristine beaches, idyllic villages, picturesque coves and remote ancient civilizations is waiting to be explored. This is an excellent opportunity to experience a taste of traditional Turkey in the unhurried pace of staying aboard a sailing yacht. Sit back, relax and let their experienced captain, crew and chef take you on an unforgettable journey. Rates start at $1399 per person based on seven-nights shared accommodation.

Yoga Vacations for Surfers in Costa Rica

Founded in the spirit of adventure, Rip Jack Inn in Playa Grande, Costa Rica is known for tropical bliss and friendly ambiance. They are just steps away from Playa Grande’s main surf break, and offer daily yoga classes in their beautiful shala. If you love to surf, practice yoga, and love great food, you’ll feel right at home here. Rip Jack Inn is also a member of Pack for a Purpose, and supports local community outreach programs. Expect prices around $170 night/based on double occupancy.

Yoga Vacations for Purists in India

Shreyas is dedicated to promoting the authentic spiritual tradition of yoga in a holistic manner and is recognized as one of the finest yoga retreats in the world. What makes Shreyas unique is that, whilst yoga is taught in traditional ashram style (daily yoga, meditation sessions, chanting classes, a strict vegetarian, no alcohol policy and community service), their guests live in a luxurious environment normally associated with a star rated hotel. They enable their guests to integrate the ‘manifold facets’ and benefits of yoga into their daily lives without the austerity and rigor usually associated with ashrams. Expect prices around $550 night/based on double occupancy.

Yoga Vacations for Beginners in Mexico

With personalized yoga, pranayama and meditation classes the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita is a great place for beginner wellness travellers. Set on 14 acres, including a picturesque sugar sand beach, the resort is perfectly positioned along Cancun’s famed Riviera Maya. Intimate in design, with only 90 luxury suites, they offer a completely new kind of vacation experience focused on wellness, serenity, and romance, balanced by a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Expect prices around $750 night/based on double occupancy.

Yoga Vacations for Nature Lovers in Nicaragua

Aqua’s explicit vision statement is to “lead luxury sustainable development in Nicaragua” and as such, they built, and operated their resort in close partnership with the local communities, and in complete concert with nature. Additionally, they are completely committed to sea turtle conservation, and encourage their guests to join along. They provide opportunities to work with trained staff in caring for the turtle eggs, protecting them in the nursery, and for those fortunate enough to be there during hatching, to help release them back to the ocean. Daily yoga takes place on their palm-thatched open air, ocean-side platform. Expect prices around $280 night/ based on double occupancy.

About Holidays for Humanity: www.holidaysforhumanity.com

Holidays for Humanity connects travellers with vacation options that appeal to their self, as well as their soul. By working with partners that promote sustainable and eco-friendly practices they offer a range of travel options including eco resorts and hotels, health and wellness, volunteering abroad, cultural and culinary and expeditions and tours.

Setting Sail & Sightseeing in Burma

Set Sail to Burma

Set Sail to Burma

There is just under 12 months to go before luxury cruise and safari specialists offer something pretty spectacular. Sanctuary Retreats’ new custom built ship, Sanctuary Ananda, sets sail on its maiden cruise voyage in Myanmar. The coolest part? The all-suite ship is being custom built by two renowned Burmese brothers in a Yangon shipyard using traditional materials combined with modern technology to ensure she can navigate Myanmar’s rivers.

A familiar sight in a Burmese village

A familiar sight in a Burmese village

Sanctuary Ananda will offer eight exciting itineraries on 3, 4 and 7-night ‘Discovery Cruises’ between Bagan and Mandalay and 7, 10 and 11-night  ‘Exploration Cruises.’ The longer journeys will allow guests time to explore the Upper and Lower Ayeyarwady Rivers as well as the Chindwin River, incorporating must-see sights and the opportunity to engage with many local tribes and Burmese people. These ‘Exploration’ itineraries are particularly suited to guests who want a more relaxed cruise with a chance to explore off-the-beaten path.

Your bed in the suite

Your bed in the suite

The four-night “Mandalay to Bagan” itinerary begins in the cultural capital of Myanmar, and makes its way to Bagan, the spiritual heart of the country and home to more than 2,000 gilded pagodas. Guests admire the beauty of life along the river with visits to the Sale monasteries, textile workshops in Amarapura; Sagaing; the living centre of the Buddhist faith in Myanmar, and the local markets and traditional shoe factories of Pakokku.

Monks!

Monks!

Bagan, the 11th-century capital of the country is one of Asia’s most extraordinary destinations; more than 4,000 temples, pagodas and stupas (Buddhist memorials) cover Bagan, a true treasure trove of Buddhist art history. Work on the new ship is taking place in Myanmar, employing skilled local craftsmen. In addition to the furniture built by local carpenters, Burmese teak and traditional handmade fabrics will be used throughout and all Sanctuary Ananda’s guides will be local, Burmese experts. Recruitment and extensive training has now begun to build a team that will deliver the high standards behind Sanctuary Retreat’s ‘Luxury Naturally’ philosophy.

A little Burmese scene on the side of the road

A little Burmese scene on the side of the road

There are 21 spacious suites, ranging from 291 sq ft to 721 sq ft, including the exclusive Aloungpayah Suite. Most offer large private balconies with uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside, towns, villages and riverside life.  Accommodating 42 guests, Sanctuary Ananda will offer a high level of personal service. The Aloungpayah Suite, along with the 4 Luxury Suites, will also have a private butler service.

Prices start at $2.244 per person, based on two people sharing a Deluxe Suite, for a 3 night itinerary including sightseeing, all meals, soft drinks and local beer.

Burmese textiles

Burmese textiles

Sanctuary Retreats’ runs a collection of luxury safari lodges and explorer ships so we trust it’ll be amazing. Bringing the boutique experience to guests with the promise of authenticity, all have the same aim: to allow guests to have a “real” experience and enjoy a more natural kind of luxury in properties that have a strong commitment to conservation and responsible tourism. The Sanctuary portfolio also includes safari camps and lodges in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, as well as expedition cruise ships on the Nile, the Yangzi, in Myanmar and the Galapagos Islands.

www.sanctuaryretreats.com