Passion Points: Escape
Before I list where I want to go next, I should mention highlights of 2011. Jordan was one. I visited in May with a group of members for an Insider Trip and even though I had been before, I was again astonished by its wealth of natural wonders (Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea), historic sites (Jerash and Petra) and the warmth and welcome of its people, which was particularly poignant given the tumultuous regional events. India, a country changing at warp speed, was another highlight. And finally, I took our first group of members to Cuba, which has long been on my list of places that I most want to see. During our stay, we took a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana with an art historian; visited music halls to hear musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club; sipped daiquiris at sunset on our hotel’s rooftop; spent an afternoon learning to dance Cuban salsa; explored the Museum of Contemporary Cuban Art and contemporary artists’ studios; and had a private tour of Hemingway’s former estate. We will offer Insider Trips to all these places (with the same stops and amazing guides) in 2012 and can tailor similar ones for a private group of friends as well. Here is a short list of places I would love to visit in 2012.
For a weekend of revival: New Orleans
Six years after Hurricane Katrina, the city is back and better than ever. Creole food, jazz, the French Quarter and the chance to volunteer are each excuse enough for me to want to go for a girls’ weekend or a quick family break.
For a dynamic capital experience: Berlin When our editorial director returned from a recent trip and gave our staff a presentation, I was convinced that Berlin should be on everyone’s must-visit list. The city has fascinating layers of history and incredibly varied neighborhoods to explore. An added bonus: the top hotels, restaurants and shops are a bargain relative to those in other European capitals.
For an indulgent escape: Porto Ercole
Many places with a glamorous past fail to live up to their legendary status. Il Pellicano, the cliffside resort in Italy’s Porto Ercole, is one that succeeds. Proof: one of our members, a top interior designer, holed up there after a cruise on a megayacht around Capri, and he declared Il Pellicano’s chic crowd and understated aesthetic to be his idea of pure heaven.
For an adventure fix: Botswana
Call me an Africa junkie. I love East Africa for its spectacular landscapes and South Africa because you can combine wildlife viewing with Cape Town. However, some of the most interesting small camps for walking and water safaris are in Botswana.
For rejuvenation: Mexico
Last year’s boot-camp experience at the Ranch at Live Oak got me hooked on the idea of an annual recharge spa trip. This year I am opting for something slightly less rigorous. We are taking over Sir James Goldsmith’s former residence in Mexico from January 22 through 26 (read about this Insider Trip), with the idea of developing healthy routines with great trainers.
For family bonding: Australia
I have an Australian passport, thanks to my Australian mother, and my kids are dying to visit the continent where their grandmother was born. Sydney is one of my favorite cities, and there are fabulous new lodges in the Outback and on the Great Barrier Reef, like the renovated Hayman. If I can convince my mom to join us, it will be a multigenerational journey of discovery.
For a hit of learning: Russia
I hope to host an Insider Trip to Russia, where we can meet with historians, artists and authors, tour St. Petersburg’s museums and palaces, see a performance at Moscow’s reopened Bolshoi and get private tours of the Hermitage and Kremlin. It will give me a reason to reread Tolstoy and a deeper understanding of a country that is shaping world affairs.
Looking Ahead: The best part of my job is hearing great travel tales. Friends, members and colleagues love to regale me with where they have been, what they did, what they loved and what they didn’t. The result is that I am always being tempted to pack my bags. I look forward to 2012 as another inspired—and inspiring—year of Indagare journeys.
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