I am a lover of Zion.
I’m back in Israel, admiring these brave, awesome soldiers. I visited various military camps yesterday and I am so moved by the dedication and love that these soldiers have for their country. Israelis are the coolest and most self-assured people out there. Period.
This is the path to my room at Azzaden Trekking Lodge in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, an ecolodge that overlooks the snow-capped peaks of the Toubkal Massif mountain range. I like that you can see the brown branches just beginning to sprout white flowers.
I will admit that the roosters woke me up earlier than anticipated and that my sleep was interrupted numerous times by the sounds of the outdoors. But…rustic luxury? Solar powered, heated bathroom floors? “Solitude in a dramatic location?”…yes please.
People are usually shocked when I tell them that I always carry-on. I actually can’t even remember the last time I checked a bag; it basically never happens.
Being a great packer starts with having a great suitcase. I travel with a navy blue and black Hartmann Stratum 22″ Expandable Mobile Traveler and I contend that my ability to pack a different dress for every day, night and then some is because of the suitcase’s genius design. The top flap opens up into a garment bag, which then folds back into a very spacious, 2″ compartment; I hang up all my dresses and several t-shirts in the expandable garment bag and pack the rest in the bottom part of the suitcase. Not only do I never wear the same thing twice and always have different clothing options, I also have room to buy fun and pretty things while abroad. ;) The 2″ compartment really comes in handy, too – I usually pack gifts and other trinkets in there.
In this month’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar, three stylish travelers share their ‘travel techniques’ along with what to pack and where to go. The best tip? No crazy, last-minute “I may need this” additions! Click each image to expand.
I also love this Givenchy aviation-inspired watch from this month’s issue of Vogue. The weirdest thing about it is that 17 – the name of the model and the designer’s lucky number – is my lucky number, too. Green and 17!? So cool. It’s a great watch to travel with because while it may be expensive, it’s not at all flashy.
The complex minds over at The Economist put together a chart to show the world’s biggest markets for low-cost airlines. I think the USA would really benefit from a super cheap, Ryanair style airline, no? It truly baffles my mind that it can cost over $500 to fly from JFK to MIA. If we can dream it we can do it. Just kidding. But seriously.
The biggest markets for low-cost airlines
LOW-COST airlines like Ryanair and Southwest Airlines have swollen to formidable size in recent years by offering a very different approach to that of more traditional full-service airlines. With their single-class seating, range of ancillary charges and pared-down approach to all things aviation-related, these budget carriers have become a familiar, often bemoaned, feature of holidays and business trips around the globe. In British airports, for example, more than 50% of all passengers last year squeezed into seats on low-cost carriers. But Britain only comes seventh on a list ranking countries on that criterion. Click me to read the rest.
When I was in college, I constantly daydreamed about travel. I would search for beautiful images of places I’d never been and collect them into a folder. Just the prospect of going, and the possibility of having a life where I could travel was enough to help me bang out those papers. I suppose this obsession with beauty and adventuring led to my career as a travel writer.
I remember buying a poster very similar to the photo above and every time I would get bummed out or bored with school, I’d think about: Vacation. Relaxation. Exploration…just about all of the ‘ations’ I aspired to integrate into my everyday life. These photos (via Interior Design Magazine) are stunning, striking, unbelievably incredible combinations of nature and man-made beauty. They make me feel better, and I hope they make you feel better too.
So, if you’re in the mood to daydream or you’re having a bad day, picture yourself here.
Ecotourism is a trifecta of sorts, a perfect amalgamation of three specific components: ethics, travel/tourism and sustainability. Introducing Mayakoba, an eco-estate in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
A mix of nature…
And crazy luxury…
Sign me up!
Mexico is one of my all-time favorite travel destinations, primarily because of its stark diversification. Travelers have a huge spectrum to explore: beautiful beachy coasts (rocky or sandy), deserts, awesome urban areas, archeological sites, religious sites, coffee or chocolate plantations, craft towns/cities, etc. You can experience practically anything in Mexico, and that’s why I travel there every chance I get.
Some hotels call themselves ‘green’ based on their latest LEED certification. Others tout their best practices for brand-wide organic farming methods or maybe for conservation of wildlife. Essentially, ecotourism is a word defined by many interpretations.
Situated on Playa del Carmen on a ‘fortress’ of natural and man-made surprises and only mere miles away from archeological sites like Tulum, Coba or Chichen Itza, eco-conglomerate Mayakoba is a great place to see and do it all.
“The Mexican architect designer of the Master Plan of the site, and his team, including engineers, architects, biologists, hydrologists and tourism marketing experts, camped out on the land for two weeks, walking, getting acquainted with the flora and fauna, thinking of possibilities…”
Mayakoba has three hotels in RM, all on the same sprawling property of nearly 600 acres, each with varying landscapes and styles. The philosophy is one of health, nature and beauty, creating an environment where guests can feel at peace with both themselves and their surroundings.
Residences are available on the property too, as well an extensive golf program (El Camaleón, a magnificent golf course, and the Jim McLean golf school). Spend days away in mangrove forests, gin-clear waters and ‘virgin white’ beaches.
“Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, Mayakoba is a rare and inspiring coupling of luxury and nature – a haven of sophisticated design, innovative amenities and nature. Mayakoba features a collection of some of the world´s leading luxury hotels and most exclusive branded residences, all brought together solely to pamper and delight each of its guests and residents.”
One of Mayakoba’s three properties is a Fairmont, pictured below. I’ve stayed at many Fairmont hotels, and each one has their own unique policies in regard to sustainability, locally sourced food, etc. – they are a leader in ecotourism as far as major luxury hotel brands go.
Alternatively, guests can choose to stay on property at a Rosewood.
Or, a Banyan Tree.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
As a ‘green’ travel brand, they have several sustainable practices and accolades under their belt (via Mayakoba):
The Mayakoba Connection Eco-Tour Ferry and Nature Trail: guests get up close and personal with an array of more than 200 species of tropical wildlife.
Mayakoba is the only resort in the RM to be honored by both the UN World Tourism Organization and Rainforest Alliance for its commitment to sustainability.
Exclusive partnership with the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Mayakoba’s hotels can develop customized plans for guests to experience the reserve and become educated on the exotic jewels of the Riviera Maya including cenotes and water systems.
Hotels are linked by more than six miles of waterways (also referred to as Venice canals of the Yucatan), a unique aquatic ecosystem offering new habitats for wildlife. Each resort has an on-site biologist to take guests on educational electric boat tours through the cenotes and lagoons.
Absolutely no motorized vehicles in the resort. Guests travel on electric golf carts, bicycles and electric boats.
Chefs use local produce (honey, lamb, chaya), staff are hired from local community, water is re-utilized and technology is implemented to optimize energy use.
Wander around viridescent rainforests.
Or hike beside mangrove trees.
I think it’s safe to say that the hotel’s self-proclaimed term ‘eco-haven’ was deemed appropriately. Nice work, Mayakoba, you’ll certainly see me soon. Let’s go!