Our Top 10 from Virtuoso Travel Week
Each year at the Virtuoso Travel Week conference in Las Vegas we meet with the crème de la crème of the travel world. This year a record breaking 6,500 owners and general managers of the world’s leading hotels, tour operators and hospitality professionals gathered to pitch travel advisors like us on what’s new and unique in the world.
Over the course of six days I personally had 234 face to face meetings and shared meals! In order to retain the knowledge (and stay sane!) I took copious notes on the most fascinating, exciting, once in a lifetime experiences that would most excite my most adventurous and discerning clients. Continue reading to hear about the top 12 places and experiences that caught our eye (in no particular order)!
Which of these experiences would you add to your Wanderlist?
#10 – Polar Bear Safaris in Northern Canada
Throughout the course of my encounters with people from 107 countries, Canada came up again and again as a destination with so much to offer, in particular if wildlife is a top priority for you. Head to northern Canada between May – November for the trip of a lifetime to spot polar bears. During October and November the bears roam the wild coast, among the flowers that bloom, in search of food and you may also see wolves, beluga whales and caribou.
You can get from the US to Winnipeg, where your journey begins, in just about 6 hours for under $500 roundtrip and take advantage of the great exchange rate with the Canadian dollar while you’re there! Let us design your custom journey for this once in a lifetime experience.
#9 – 5 Day Cooking School Experience in Southern France
So imagine my delight to learn that one of the most beautiful historic hotels in southern France runs a fantastic cooking school for enthusiasts, managed by their 31 year old rising star Michelin chef. Séverine Sagnet invites some of the region’s greatest chefs to lead cooking classes for all culinary enthusiasts, from those looking for an introduction to the art of Provencal cooking to those wishing to enhance their knowledge of gastronomy. Classes are held year round on everything from truffles to macarons, from a la carte one day classes to the full five day course.
Set in an old mansion at the foot of the Palais des Papes in the heart of Avignon, La Mirande was originally a Cardinal’s Palace in the 14th century, and its ruins were restored during the 17th century to create a hotel.
Foray perks include an upgraded room (upon availability), complimentary daily buffet breakfast, $100 food and beverage credit per stay, early check-in, late check-out, and complimentary wifi.
#8 – Off the Beaten Path Luxury in Indonesia
Topping my personal bucket list for years has been the one and only Nihi Sumba island resort in Indonesia. Voted the world’s best hotel by Travel & Leisure for two years in a row, this resort offers the ultimate in privacy and luxury in paradise while supporting local communities and conservation. Just 33 villas built in the local Sumbanese style dot the island’s 567 acres. World class surfing, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding are some of the activities on offer. Or simply relax at the beach and the spa.
While Nihi Sumba is a splurge, it’s less than you would expect for the world’s best resort (with meals included)! It’s perfect for adventurous honeymooners and families alike.
Foray Perks for booking through us include an upgraded room upon availability and a 50 minute massage for two!
#7 – Insider Access to US National Park Lodges
United States national park lodges are some of the most amazing gems this country has to offer, yet they’re often fully booked out up to a year in advance. Oftentimes the parks are so remote that there’s nowhere else to stay, which is so disappointing when you’re so excited to visit a particular park.
This is why we were thrilled to learn that we have insider access to a designated block of rooms at national park lodges that is available to book for our clients, even when the lodge appears to be sold out. How amazing is that?! Keep Foray in mind for your next national park adventure!
#6 – The Presidential Train to Portugal’s Duoro Valley Wine Region
Looking for a trip with a little more R&R? Maybe in search of a fabulous culinary experience you won’t find at home? Not only is Portugal one of the hottest places to travel for the past few years, it’s also home to a booming food scene and the spectacular Duoro Valley Wine Region. And now you can travel there in style in what Forbes calls a “rolling royal feast”!
Passengers step aboard the Presidential train in Porto (one of my favorite cities!) before being shown to their individual cabins and served a four-course tasting menu with wine pairing in the restaurant carriage. Lunch is then followed by an exclusive wine-tasting at Quinta do Vesuvio estate, before re-boarding the train to catch live music in the bar carriage.
#5 – Sail to My Tho, Svalbard, Raja Ampat, or Nauta
Never heard of these places? That’s the point. This is not your grandmother’s cruise. In fact, expedition sailing is an entirely new genre of travel using small, purpose built ships to sail uncharted territories for active travelers who appreciate a high level of comfort and service. Thanks to the small size of between 30 – 300 passengers, service and food are top notch. And you won’t find a casino on board – these voyages focus on wildlife viewing, educational lectures, and activities like hiking, photography, kayaking, fishing, and much more.
Whether you want to discover the Mekong, Amazon, Patagonia or Greenland, we know just the right expedition for you. Plus, we can often offer exclusive complimentary amenities.
#4 Impact Journeys with &Beyond
&Beyond is one of the most respected safari outfitters covering Asia, Africa and South America. Like so many travel companies today, they’ve incorporated, philanthropy, conservation and sustainability into the core of their company and its day to day operations. Now they’ve taken it one step further by offering Impact Journeys, where you can personally take part in these efforts during your trip while still experiencing the best that the destination has to offer.
Here at Foray we’re big on sustainability, so if this is up your alley please reach out to learn more about these and other amazing trips where you can give back!
#3 – Experiential Lodges in Chile
If Chile or a South American adventure are on your bucket list, you need to know about the Tierra hotels. With Tierra Atacama high in the northern desert, Terra Chiloé in the Chiloé archipegalo, and Tierra Patagonia on Lake Sarmiento in Torres del Paine National Park, you can experience all of the diversity of Chilean landscapes at Tierra lodges. Sustainability and wellness are at the forefront at Tierra lodges, and the natural surroundings are embraced with unique architectural designs built into the landscapes.
Due to the remote locations stays are all-inclusive of food, drink, transfers, and many activities. Adventures on offer include, biking, hiking, fly fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, astronomy tours, and more. With just 30-40 rooms per lodge, it will feel like your own personal getaway. Combine your stay with skiing in Chile or the wine region in Argentina!
Your Foray perks at Tierra lodges include an upgraded room (upon availability) and a $100 spa credit per stay.
#2 – Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in British Columbia
Experience “luxury gone wild” at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, a Relais & Châteaux all-inclusive eco-safari resort destination located near Tofino on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Accessible only by seaplane, helicopter or boat and situated in a UNESCO-designated protected Biosphere Reserve, guests enjoy a truly remote, refined and remarkable wilderness retreat amidst one of the last remaining ancient temperate rainforests in the world.
Fashioned after turn-of-the-century great camps, Clayoquot features 25 great white canvas prospector-style tents, each richly appointed with luxurious comforts including cast iron stoves, ensuite bathrooms with heated floors, and private outdoor showers.
This experience is all-inclusive of your meals and activities. Foray perks include an upgraded room (upon availability), a $100 spa credit, complimentary wifi, early check-in and late check-out (upon availability).
#1 – Genealogy Butler in Dublin, Ireland
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that about 33 million Americans, or 1/10th of the population claims to be of Irish ancestry. Which is one reason why Ireland tops the bucket list for so many Americans, eager to have a fun vacation and maybe learn some more about their roots while they’re at it. But where to begin?! Planning an international trip can be overwhelming enough without the small task of tracing down generations of long lost relatives on top of it.
That’s where we come in! One of the most innovative experiences we learned about during Virtuoso Travel Week was the Genealogy Butler based at one of Dublin’s most historic hotels. As one of Ireland’s leading accredited genealogists, she has served as a consultant genealogist at some of Ireland’s national repositories, such as the Genealogical Office, National Library of Ireland and National Archives of Ireland.
Options include everything from a consultation to provide a personalized research program to empower you to embark upon while in Ireland, up to full days visiting various records offices accompanied by the Genealogy Butler.
That’s a wrap!
Well, that’s a wrap! So what do you think? These are just about 3% of the preferred partners that I personally met with in Las Vegas last week. There also chic city hotels, Italian palaces, and amazing group tour companies aplenty, but the amazing thing about the world of travel is that there’s always something new and innovative happening, or an emerging destination.
As a travel advisor I use my industry connections to always stay one step ahead of consumers to know about the latest hotel openings, the most family friendly programming, the most unique romantic experiences, and so much more. I love nothing more than spending an afternoon chatting with a client who calls me to help brainstorm and pinpoint the perfect destination for their next trip!
So what are you waiting for? Where will you check off your bucket list in 2020? Send me an email and let’s get started!