Home Blog Page 2

Get Your Endorphins Flowing in Scottsdale


With sunny skies year-round, Scottsdale is an ideal place to try your hand at some new activity or sport that has been on your bucket list. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try canyoneering? Or explore the desert by mountain bike? This is desert country, but you can also find spots to go standup paddleboarding in Scottsdale. If golfing is your thing, take a swing on the area’s many renowned golf courses. Whatever your sport or desired activity level, Scottsdale is the perfect destination for the traveler with a taste for adventure.

Check in to Your Scottsdale Home
Make your way from the airport to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. While the next five days may include moments of testing your bravery as you experience the unfamiliar, you’ll return each evening to a resort where you can truly relax. This AAA five-diamond resort has six pools, four restaurants, two 18-hole golf courses, and rooms with views of Sonoran Desert landscapes. It’s an ideal oasis for your adventurous getaway, with options to be active or do nothing at all during your time on property.
Stand-up Paddleboarding in a Desert Oasis

If you have yet to try stand-up paddleboarding, a half-day adventure on the Lower Salt River with Arizona Outback Adventures is the perfect way to try the relaxing yet challenging sport. While stand-up paddleboarding has been praised as a full-body aerobic workout, it’s also a peaceful way to explore the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert as you paddle along the river. You’ll have a unique perspective on the ecosystems of this desert oasis, with no noisy motors to scare away the birdlife on the river’s shores.

Ultima Thule, The Horizontal Everest


“Ultima Thule” was the name that European geographers, beginning with the ancient Greeks, used to refer to the unknowable northern reaches of the world, beyond the navigable seas and shrouded in mystery. Some believed it was a blessed land of fertile soil and gentle breezes, more often it was imagined as a forbidding and frozen wasteland. The reality is somewhere between the two, as travelers on Ponant’s 17-day Ultima Thule expedition cruisewhich makes its way around the Baffin Sea, the body of water between the west coast of Greenland and the northeast coast of Canada, will discover.

While there are frozen glaciers and the magnetic North Pole is among the stops, the Arctic summer is a brief period when the tundra comes to life—you will soon learn a new way of looking at the world, as you keep your eyes open for small signs of life: fireweed, lupine, and sweetbroom that bloom under the pale light of the midnight sun as well as arctic foxes and hares. It’s not that all the animals here are small, however—this is also the land of musk oxen, polar bears, elephant seals, and whales.

Ponant’s expedition will take you to a world of icebergs and vast horizons and, at the height of the Arctic summer, of days that literally never end. The Far North long presented the ultimate challenge to European, as well as American and Canadian expeditions—it has been described as “the horizontal Everest.” At the same time, it has simply been home to Inuit for millennia, and the itinerary includes opportunities to learn about life in this unusual part of the world from them.

Qikiqtarjuaq and Kivitoo, Nunavut

The port you will visit today, Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly Broughton Island), sits off the east coast of Baffin Island on the other side of the Baffin Sea across from Greenland. It is in Nunavut, the newest and largest territory of Canada, which separated from the Northwest Territory in 1999. The community of the same name as the island is home to some 600 people and with its small landing strip it’s often used as a stop for pilots of small planes who are en route to Europe. The town’s crafts store is a good place to shop for traditional Inuit clothing, carvings, prints, and jewelry, but the main attractions of Qikiqtarjuaq are its wildlife and nearby Auyuittuq National Park, on Baffin Island.

Narwhals, orca whales, walruses, and seals are common here, as well as polar bears (in the fall). Auyuittuq National Park contains more than 7,370 square miles of fjords and glaciers—its Inuit name translates as the “land that never melts.” It’s an epic landscape of soaring peaks, sheer cliffs, and rivers and streams rushing with melt water at summer.

Kivitoo, on the east coast of Baffin Island, is a haunting stop on the itinerary that you will visit with a naturalist guide. The Inuit camp was used as a whaling station until it was abandoned in the 1920s, but metal tanks that were used to store whale oil and a number of buildings still stand in this small ghost town on the arctic heath. Walrus skulls and the graves of whalers are also remnants of that period. Kivitoo continued to be used as a camp by several Inuit families until 1962. After the drowning of several hunters proved devastating to the community, the survivors decided as a group to move to Qikiqtarjuaq.

Arctic Harbour and Niginganig, Nunavut

Today, Aulitiving Island, at the entrance of Isabella Bay, is abandoned but it was long an important whaling station and Arctic Harbour still has some traces from that period, including the graves of whalers. Your stop on the island will provide an opportunity to explore the arctic tundra landscape on a hike to the highest point of the island. At 1,345 feet, it has views of the entire island and Niginganiq (also known as Isabella Bay).

The Niginganiq National Wildlife Area includes the bay, its shorelines, and extends out to sea for a distance of 12 nautical miles. You’ll explore the nature reserve on L’Austral today. Niginganiq was designated as a protected area in 2010 principally because of its population of bowhead whales. Up to 100 of them have been spotted in the bay at one time, making it the largest concentration of bowheads in Canada. There are, however, a number of other animals that can also be spotted in the bay, including ringed seals, narwhals, and polar bears (in the fall). While the Inuit name translates as “the place where fog sits,” on clear days bird sightings may include king eiders, long-tailed ducks, dovekies, and northern fulmars.

Sam Ford Fjord, Nunavut
Today, a day of scenic cruising will take you up the Sam Ford Fjord, a 68-mile-long fjord on the east coat of Baffin Island, not far from the settlement of Clyde River. At over 11 miles wide at its mouth, the fjord gradually narrows to about two miles wide at about its midway point. Along the way several tributary fjords feed into the larger one, and along its banks are soaring cliffs and peaks, many reaching heights of up to 4,900 feet. Long a traditional hunting ground for Inuit, today the fjord is also popular with mountain climbers who travel here to conquer the granite peaks of Beluga Mountain, Rock Tower, Walrus Head, Polar Sun Spire, and the other mountains along the fjord.

An Itinerary to Tasmania and New Zealand


you’ll experience three of the world’s most captivating islands—Tasmania and the North and South Islands of New Zealand. You’ll also have a chance to sightsee in Sydney, the starting point for this cruise. With icons like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, legendary beaches and inviting neighborhoods, you’ll soon understand why this city turns up on many lists of travelers’ favorites.

From Sydney, you’ll sail to Tasmania, located off of Australia’s southern coast. The island’s founding as a penal colony will interest armchair historians and its diverse fauna will fascinate naturalists, amateur and otherwise. Then you’ll cross the Tasman Sea to the South Island of New Zealand, with stops at Milford Sound, gateway to the majestic Fiordland National Park; Dunedin, with its collection of Victorian buildings; and Akaroa where you can witness some of the locations from the Lord of the Rings films, and finally Picton. On the North Island, you’ll visit Napier, noted for its Art Deco architecture; Tauranga, a convenient base to visit the thermal springs at Rotorua; and, finally, you’ll sail into Auckland, the City of Sails, concluding this down under itinerary filled with unforgettable highlights.

Your ship departs from Sydney at 6 p.m., so you’ll have time to see some of the iconic landmarks of Australia’s largest city: the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are both perhaps best viewed from sea level on a harbor cruise. If you are a beach bum at heart, then you’ll want to visit the iconic Bondi and Manly beaches, both easy to reach from central Sydney. The Rocks is the oldest part of the city, and a favorite today with visitors—and locals—thanks to its many historic buildings, pubs, and a popular market. If all of this sounds like more than you can see in a day, Azamara can arrange a pre-cruise extension so you’ll have enough time to explore all that Sydneyoffers.
You’ll arrive in Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, early in the afternoon. The only Australian state that is an island, Tasmania is distinct in many ways beginning with its unique flora and fauna—most famously, the Tasmanian devil. It’s Australia’s most mountainous state, with nearly half of its area protected as parkland. To begin to get a sense of the island’s capital, the Hobart Highlights excursion will take you to the city’s most important sites. You’ll visit the Royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens and then Rosny Hill Lookout, which offers up panoramic views of Hobart and the Derwent River. At Battery Point, one of the city’s more exclusive neighborhoods, you can admire the 19th-century mansions and historic cottages.
Milford Sound
At Milford Sound, you can take an unforgettable detour—and sleep shore side—on the Queenstown Overnight Adventure. You’ll follow the Cleddau River deep into Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Site known for its majestic fjords and towering peaks. You’ll break for lunch in the town of Te Anau, in the shadow of the Remarkables Range, and then have the afternoon free until an evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu, aboard a vintage steamship. Dinner unfolds at a sheep and cattle ranch before you return to Queenstown, where you’ll spend the night at a local hotel. On your second day you’ll visit the gold mining town of Arrowtown, hop on a gondola for views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatiup, and continue on to the Wild Earth Winery. After lunch, you’ll pass by Lake Waihola on your way to Central Otago, the country’s gold mining country. You’ll end your overnight trip with a tour of Dunedin, before rejoining your ship.

Switzerland with a French Flair


Cari Gray of Gray & Co. specializes in “custom trips for active travelers,” and in Switzerland there’s no shortage of opportunities to explore by bike or on foot. For an introduction to Switzerland’s Francophone regions, she sends travelers to the cantons of Neuchâtel and Jura, roughly 45 minutes from Bern. She’ll provide you with a choice of biking and hiking options and stops where you can enjoy the region’s famous cuisine and wines. To see even more of Switzerland with Cari, this trip can be easily combined with her itinerary to Appenzell, “A Canton Off the Beaten Path.” Also check out this guide covering some of the highlights in more detail.

Begin in Bern
Switzerland’s larger cities, including Zurich and Geneva, sometimes steal the spotlight from Bern, but the Swiss capital fits a lot of charm and history into its city limits. The Old Town made its way on to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites with its remarkably well preserved medieval structure, and it’s convenient to explore its warren of streets from your hotel for the night, the Schweizerhof, before you head on to Neuchâtel in the morning.
Vintage Finds
Walk the Vineyard Trail along Lake Biel, taking in the views of this beautiful wine-growing district and St. Peter’s Island. This area is known for a number of different varieties, some unique to Switzerland, like Chasselas and Gamaret. Oenphiles will also want to include Boudry Castle on their itinerary. Set amid the Neuenburg vineyards, the castle has exhibits that cover the history of viticulture.
Joy Ride
The 29-mile bicycle ride from Neuchâtel to Grenchen runs beside Lake Biel and Lake Neuchâtel. Other stunning options include Tramelan to Welschenrohr (28 miles) and Biel to Delemont (23 miles). We can lead you to the right ride for your level, but whichever you choose, leave time to eat at one of Neuchâtel’s best restaurants. Cari’s favorites include Chauffage Compris, Le Cardinal, and the Hotel DuPeyrou, with its magical setting in an 18th-century residence.

Discover Swiss Bliss with a Spa Vacation


Katie Cadar of TravelStore has created an itinerary that includes stays at the best of Switzerland’s spas and wellness centers. The country’s healing traditions date back millennia, to thermal springs that have drawn visitors since the days of the Roman Empire. Switzerland’s wellness centers also incorporate the latest scientific advances. At the end of her trip, you’ll not only fly home with memories of stunning alpine lakes and hikes through mountain valleys, but rejuvenated and recharged.

La Réserve Genève
Arrive in Geneva and transfer to La Réserve Genève for five nights. On the shores of Lake Geneva in a 10-acre park just three miles from the city center, La Réserve Genève is a 5-star luxury property and a perfect start to your spa sojourn. The Nescens Better-Aging Package is a comprehensive four-day program designed to recharge and reset guests.
Serenity in Switzerland
After breakfast at La Reserve, a private transfer will take you to the airport for your flight to Lugano and then a private transfer to the Chedi Andermatt. Here, Asian serenity is given an alpine twist. Take advantage of the location for a day of hiking, cycling or (if you are visiting in winter) cross-country skiing. Leave time before dinner for a Balinese or Himalayan Hot Stone massage at the spa.
Peak Fitness
Today is a day for yoga and meditation with a personal instructor. Both the yoga and Pilates studios at the Chedi Health Club have been designed around holistic wellness. In addition, the club offers the latest Technogym equipment and free waiting while spa guests can pick between hydrotherapy pools, a Finnish sauna and hammam, multiple steam rooms and a freezing plunge pool. It’s a self-contained oasis and you’ll only need to go outside to admire the natural beauty that surrounds the resort.

Girlfriends’ Getaway!


With world-class dining and nightlife, spas and shopping, and activities from snorkeling to Segways, Bermuda is the ideal destination for a group of friends ready to explore all that the island has to offer. Lauren Maggard of Jet Set World Travel has created an itinerary that covers the entire island, from west to east.

Wander the West End
After landing in Bermuda, get settled at Elbow Beach Resort. Conveniently located with the capital, Hamilton, less than 10 minutes away, you’ll enjoy the privacy that comes with the 50 acres of landscaped grounds here. Next head to the West End to zoom around on a Segway tour, with stops at Frog & Onion in the Royal Naval Dockyard for pub grub—skip dessert and head to the Bermuda Rum Cake Company. After a post-lunch stroll, don flippers to explore Snorkel Park. End the afternoon with some culture at the Bermuda National Museum before heading back to Elbow Beach, sated from a day of activity, for dinner at the resort’s Café Lido overlooking the beach with stunning ocean views.
Meet Me in the Middle
Ease into your second day at the Elbow Beach spa with treatments like the Ocean Body Wrap and release those toxins you stored up and then breathe in ocean breezes. Next, head to Hamilton for some shopping. Many popular stores can be found on Front Street, facing the harbor, from boutiques selling island-inspired fashions to jewelers with original designs. Check out TABS at A.S. CoopersUrban Cottage, and the perfumes at Lili Bermuda, as well as landmarks like the Session House and the stately white City Hall. Start the evening with cocktails at the Harbourfront Restaurant, followed by dinner at Bolero—we can arrange to reserve the balcony for your group.
End on the East End
On your final day, travel back to the island’s earliest days as you explore the East End. St. George’s is Bermuda’s oldest town, where George Sommers first set foot in 1609. The old stocks provide an Instagram moment, but your day won’t be punishing—instead head to Meltdown on Old Cellar Lane fro a scoop of ice cream in one of the signature flavors. At David Rose Jewelry, pick up a unique piece to remember your trip. (On Saturdays, Meet the Designer events let you learn about the jewelry design from two masters.) Start your evening at Tobacco Bay, where there’s always a beach party, and then head to 1609 at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club to say goodbye to Bermuda over a dinner harborside.

Recent Posts