From a former power station that houses monumental pieces of contemporary art to modern marvels of engineering that are as awe-inspiring on the outside as the art they contain, here’s our personal list for the world’s most spectacular art museums.
GUGGENHEIM, BILBAO, SPAIN
Built in a former shipyard, this titanium, glass and limestone building is one of the most celebrated pieces of architecture in modern times and placed the industrial city of Bilbao firmly on the cultural map. The museum is home to modern and contemporary art from all over the world. Expect irregularly shaped galleries, large glass curtains and unexpected design features.
MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART, DOHA, QATAR
Designed by I.M. Pei, the same architect that designed the Louvre’s glass pyramid, the Museum of Islamic Art is a modern masterpiece inspired by ancient Islamic architecture. As the name suggests, the museum holds one of the world’s most impressive collections of Islamic art. From royal treasures dating back to the seventh century to ordinary household objects, every piece in this extraordinary museum tells a story.
TATE MODERN, LONDON, UK
Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the iconic space is now home to spectacular galleries that include the station’s original turbine hall, the boiler house and oil tanks. The museum is dedicated to international modern and contemporary art. From monumental pieces of sculpture to colorful abstract paintings, you’ll be surprised by the range of exhibitions. Films, performances and workshops are also on offer.
NITEROI CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
It took five years to build this museum designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, but this spectacular saucer-shaped structure now hosts one of Brazil’s most important contemporary art collections. Like a film set from a science fiction movie, the galleries hover over Boa Viagem beach. With its panoramic views, the iconic museum is the perfect home for artistic creation and dream-like ideas.
Have a few hours to spare before you can check into your hotel? Finished your meeting, but don’t have to be at the airport until later? Loaded down with luggage, most travelers settle into a restaurant or café to wait out the time, missing a golden opportunity to do something more exciting. But now, thanks to some creative start-ups, there are a host of convenient, safe and affordable luggage storage options in cities throughout the US and Europe.
Piggybacking on already existing businesses such as dry cleaners, nail salons, cafes and hotels, for only a few dollars an hour, luggage can be stored in a secure location complete with damage and theft insurance. LuggageHero has 250 locations in New York alone and plenty of others in London and Copenhagen. Knock Knock City is also popular in New York and has locations in San Francisco and Boston as well. In Europe, Stasher and Nannybag are the big players with hundreds of drop sites throughout the continent.
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is a mantra to live by when traveling. Natural disasters and civil unrest derail the best of plans, but more often it’s the mundane things that disrupt our travel – a lost wallet, a bottle of prescription medicine left on the bathroom counter, a hotel reservation that can’t be found. Error on the side of caution by leaving vital information with a trustworthy friend, coworker or family member. More than likely you’ll never need it, but if the unexpected should arise, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead.
What information should you leave behind?
Click here for more tips to ensure you're prepared to travel internationally!
Airports can test the nerves of even the most well-balanced traveler. There are places, however, where calm and tranquility reign – where a comfortable seat is always available, fresh coffee and snacks await, and a glass of prosecco can be had a moments’ notice. We are talking, of course, about airport lounges. Rack up several hundred thousand air miles on the same airline, and you’re sure to get an invitation to join the club. For these rest of us, there are other options, and given the benefits, they’re worth exploring.
1. Join a Lounge Network
Depending on how often and where you fly, joining a lounge network such as Priority Pass might be your best option. Priority Pass offers access to over 1,000 worldwide lounges for an annual fee of $99 with a per visit fee of $27 (alternatively, an annual fee of $399 gets you unlimited access).
2. Buy a Day Pass
Have you ever been stuck at an airport for hours on end? Next time, a day pass to a lounge might be your saving grace. Prices vary considerably between airlines, but for around $50 you can have a day’s worth of food and drink, free Wi-Fi, and a quiet little corner to call your own.
3. Use Your Credit Card
Several credit cards, including the American Express Platinum card and the United MileagePlus Explorer card, offer free or reduced-cost lounge access. The drawback is that these cards often come with higher annual fees, but added benefits such as travel insurance, priority boarding and free checked bags might make the upfront payout worthwhile.
4. Upgrade Your Ticket
Buy an international business or a first-class ticket and more than likely you’ll also receive complimentary lounge access. This can be a particularly nice perk on long haul flights, as most international airport lounges have private shower rooms where you can freshen up after your flight.
Over 25 million people will take a cruise this year, and while these numbers are staggering, so is what the cruise industry is doing to attract and accommodate this growing, and increasingly demanding, clientele. Ships are larger and more spectacular than ever before, and with even the most budget-friendly cruise lines offering tiered service and an impressive list of amenities, what does it mean to take a luxury cruise these days? Of course, the definition of luxury is highly subjective, but for those looking for a truly exceptional experience, let us introduce you to the world of ultra-luxury cruising.
What sets ultra-luxury cruises apart from their mass-market counterparts? First, the size of the boats. Ultra-luxury cruises from lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn and Silversea rarely carry more than 500 passengers, with most topping out at around 250. This small manifest ensures a level of personalized service that is hard to achieve on a larger ship. Imagine the ambiance of a private club, where perfectly prepared cocktails are sipped in stately elegance.
If this sounds inherently dignified, that’s because it is. While ultra-lux cruises aren’t for everyone, families with young children and those looking for an endless party might be better served elsewhere, they are an extraordinarily refined way to explore the world. Sailings are usually accompanied by renowned lecturers in the arts and sciences, onboard piano bars host jazz singers and classical musicians, and shore excursions are small group affairs that range from private tours to authentic cultural experiences.
The food and wine is world-class as well, and onboard restaurants often feature menus curated by internationally celebrated partners such as Thomas Keller and Relais & Châteaux. Luxuriously appointed staterooms, spacious well-designed public spaces and serene spas are, of course, standard on all the lines. If an ultra-luxury cruise sounds like something you might enjoy, keep in mind that they can also be a remarkable value considering the level of service and amenities. A seven-day Caribbean cruise can cost as little as $2,000 per person including food and beverages, gratuities and sometimes even flights and shore excursions.
The Caribbean sustained an unprecedented amount of hurricane damage in 2017, and while the vast majority of islands came through relatively unscathed, others weren’t so lucky. The Virgin Islands were hit particularly hard, a territory that includes St. Thomas, St. Barts, St. John, and St. Croix. How are these islands faring today? Here’s our rundown of what to expect on some of the Caribbean’s most popular islands:
This much-loved island took direct hits from both Irma and Maria, but is well on its way to recovery. Cruise ship visits have returned to pre-hurricane levels, and while some hotels are still rebuilding, many resorts have recently reopened, and there are plenty of villas and condos for rent.
Also hit with a tough one-two punch, the largest of the island’s hotels and resorts aren’t slated to reopen until later in the year, but smaller hotels and most of the restaurants and shops on the island are open and welcoming visitors with open arms.
The spectacular Virgins Islands National Park makes up two-thirds of this picturesque island, and we’re happy to report the park has officially reopened. In addition, a handful of hotels, including the Westin St. John, bed and breakfast properties and luxury rentals are available.
Spared by Irma, St. Croix took a direct hit from Maria and the effects were devastating. You’d be hard-pressed to tell today, however, as the recovery has been swift and impressive. Although some hotels won’t reopen until later in the year, the popular Buccaneer Hotel is open, as is a new hotel, The Fred, that has quickly won over visitors.
Still unsure? Contact our agency! We know which hotels are in the best shape, and where to get the best value for your vacation dollars.
Many of my clients prefer it when our travel agency takes care of every detail of a trip—from flights and transportation to accommodations and activities. They love that “total package” feel about professional travel planning.
But did you know that you can use our services for just a part of that package too? For example, if you travel often like we do, you have probably racked up enough frequent flier miles to fly to the moon and back. But when it comes time to cash in those miles to book your air travel, don’t forget about turning to us to help with the rest of the journey!
Thanks to our affiliation with Travel Leaders Network, we are able to secure exclusive deals and bonus amenities at hotels around the world, along with great discounts on car rentals and tours. For example, book one of our Select Hotels & Resorts properties, and we can set you up with complimentary breakfast, room upgrades (upon availability), and possible credits, gifts and more.
So let’s work together! Use your connections to book your free flights, then turn to us to make the rest of your journey absolutely perfect.
Chances are you’ve visited at least one of the 1,073 World Heritage sites on UNESCO’s ever-growing list of historically and culturally significant destinations. Bucket list all stars include the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and Serengeti National Park, but not all the sites are as well-known as these storied icons. Here are six under-the-radar gems that might not be on your list — yet.
Semmering Railway — Austria
Spectacular mountain views will almost make you forget that you’re riding on one of the world’s greatest feats of civil engineering. Built between 1848 and 1854, this dramatic railway utilizes 14 tunnels, 16 major viaducts, 118 stone bridges and 11 iron bridges to pass through some of the highest mountains in the Alps.
Tsodilo — Botswana
Known as the “Louvre of the Desert,” this historic section of the Kalahari Desert is home to the highest concentration of rock art in the world. More than 4,500 paintings are preserved on massive rock formations that rise dramatically from the desert floor making for a remarkable archaeological record that traces human activity from the Stone Age through to the 19th century.
Longmen Grottoes — China
Here you will find the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese stone carving from the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). Located alongside the Yi River in the Henan province, the grottoes’ caves and niches represent the high point of Chinese stone carving and contain almost 110,000 Buddhist statues, more than 60 stupas and 2,800 inscriptions.
Paphos — Cyprus
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, the city of Paphos still holds the remains of villas, palaces, theaters, fortresses and tombs dedicated to the cult of Aphrodite. Legend says the Greek goddess was born on the island and the buildings constructed in her honor contain some of the world’s most magnificent mosaics.
Old Rauma — Finland
Situated on one of the oldest harbors in Finland, Old Rauma is an outstanding example of a medieval Nordic city. Built around a Franciscan monastery, the city is composed of some 600 wooden buildings that preserve the region’s spectacular architectural heritage.
Aldabra Atoll — Seychelles
The world’s second largest coral atoll, isolated Aldabra is home to the largest population of giant tortoises. Tourism is strictly limited, but the lucky few who get to make the trip experience a marine ecosystem like no other.
Half the battle of a successful family getaway is picking the right location. What does it take for an island to meet the mark? First, the basics: abundant sunshine, pristine beaches and a safe atmosphere. After that comes plenty of family-friendly activities and opportunities for adult relaxation. The right destination also needs to be easy to get to and get around. That’s a tall order, but luckily there are plenty of viable options. Here are our personal favorites guaranteed to make everyone happy.
Note: Many of our clients think they should avoid the Caribbean due to recent hurricane damage. We can assure you that the islands listed below, as well as 70% of the Caribbean islands, are definitely open for business and would gladly welcome your visit.
Whether you choose a spacious resort like Atlantis or prefer the laid-back charm of Harbour Island, the Bahamas offer something for everyone. Family-oriented adventures abound — think snorkeling, exploring Lucayan National Park by kayak and swimming with dolphins — and there are enough golf courses, spas and high-end shopping to keep parents happy.
A quick trip from the East Coast, Grand Cayman is a tropical paradise with plenty to see and do for your entire brood. Along with the requisite white sand beaches and turquoise water, the island features family-friendly activities like pirate ship and sea turtle farm tours and submarine trips.
With a seven-mile stretch of beach lined with hotels, dining and recreational options, the opportunities for family fun are practically endless on this Dutch island. In addition, the desert landscape offers an excellent beach alternative with natural attractions such as Arikok National Park, where cacti grow to unexpected heights and fantastically shaped divi-divi trees make for a fun hike.
For those looking to stay stateside, Amelia Island, off Florida’s northeastern coast, is a pristine paradise complete with dune-filled beaches, championship golf courses, historical charm and boutique shopping.
Get back to nature on Maui, where your family can go hiking in Haleakala National Park, spot sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, take a ride on the Sugar Cane Train or simply enjoy some of the best beaches in Hawaii. Click here for my guide to Maui.
Few among us are lucky enough to sleep well on an overnight flight. But just because you can’t get a full eight-hours of quality shut-eye doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a night of endless sitcom reruns. Arrive at your destination ready to go with these tried-and-true tactics.
Splurge on an Upgrade
Your best chance for a relaxing night’s sleep is by paying for the privilege. Those lie-flat beds may be expensive, but for travelers who can’t afford to arrive groggy, they’re your best bet. If a business class ticket isn’t in the cards, at least shell out for a seat with extra leg room.
Wearing loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabric is obvious, but being comfortable on an overnight flight also requires you to adapt to bewildering swings in temperature. Our expert advice: wear layers.
Keep Your Feet Warm
Nothing inhibits sleep like cold feet, and if you’ve ever flown overnight, you know those under-seat drafts can be brutal. Protect your toes by donning a fresh pair of warm socks, preferably wool, before you settle down for the night.
Turn Off the Screen
Research shows that limiting screen time before bed improves sleep quality. The same rule applies on planes. Give your body a fighting chance by turning off all LED devices and mobile phones. Some smart phones now have a nighttime setting that filter out blue light on your screen. Research has show that blue tones encourages wakefulness.
It’s All About the Accessories
Sometimes it’s the little things that help the most. Conveniently, those little things all fit in a small carry-on. An inflatable neck pillow, sleeping mask, pashmina and ear plugs or noise reduction headphones can make a world of difference. Click here for my favorite stuff to travel with.
Eat a Light Meal
Stress, anxiety, excitement…these are only some of the emotions stirred by air travel. Add a heavy meal to the mix and you have a recipe for a long night of disturbed sleep. Help relax your mind and body by eating a healthy well-balanced meal.
Sharing my travel experiences and insights