Kachi Lodge, Tunupa Volcano, Bolivia
Kachi Lodge is located directly on the Uyuni Salt Flats at the foot of Tunupa Volcano in Bolivia. Geometrically sound, the domes on the site appear futuristic. With a transparent panel, the dome offers vast views of the sky and the region at large. The food at Kachi Lodge is quintessential Bolivian cuisine, delivered from the highly regarded Gustu, in La Paz, which we thought to be one of the world’s most interesting restaurants. Nearby islands and villages boast mummy tombs and archeological sites, so the Uyuni Salt Flats may seem sparse, but are not lacking in adventure.
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
They allege there are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for each day of the year. I just love that symmetry and don’t care/want to know if it’s true… One particularly gorgeous white sand beach eternally licked by turquoise colored water is Carlisle Bay, which belongs to one of the most elegant and luxurious (and not cheap) resorts in the whole Caribbean. The all-ocean view, roomy suites hotel is a bright gem in an immaculate setting. They have the requisites, they just happen to have them in a hollow of Paradise: a beautiful spa, water activities, and restaurants and bars that will serve you on the beach and in the more formal (but not that formal, thankfully) East restaurant, or a candle and lantern lit dinner at the end of a pier, surrounded by the dark and calm ocean.
HOTEL / CITY
Sharjah, UAE / Al Bait
Sharjah is the beautiful, slow rhythmed capital of the Sharjah Emirate of the UAE, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, known as the cultural capital of the Emirates, and this year declared, in that enigmatic way UNESCO has, World Book Capital.
It’s more conservatively Islamic than the comparatively hedonistic Dubai, but it’s not oppressive by any means, and profits from not being top of mind for western tourists. The city is old and traditional and seamlessly blends an array of impressive museums (including a converted former royal fort), two souks, traditional Arabic houses and meandering stone streets and a multitude of beautiful mosques. It’s — if this concept isn’t ridiculous — the unspoiled Emirates.
And now it has one of the Middle East’s most luxurious hotels, Al Bait (which means, modestly enough, “The House”), a collection of four historic manor houses, renovated as part of a preservation and restoration project. It has 53 superbly apportioned luxury rooms and suites, a great and incredibly elegant restaurant, and a luxury spa and the traditional Arabic hamam steam bath.
Bali and Komodo National Park, Indonesia
In the next 12 months there will be approximately 200 million cruises offered — I think that’s the right number — but this is the one we suggest, because it is likely to be one of the most extraordinary things you’ll ever do, a seven or 12 night excursion, run by Aqua Expeditions, from Bali to the Komodo National Park. The Aqua Blu will spirit you around three of the most unspoiled islands in the world, Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones. Many of these are home to the famous Komodo Dragon, which is, a dragon! (Well, spoiler, it’s actually the largest lizard species on Earth, technically.)
The boat that takes you is small for a cruise ship and large (and sturdy) for a yacht, with fifteen super luxurious guest suites. The Komodo National Park has breathtaking coastlines shaped by volcanic activity millions of years ago, and some of the most remarkable diving and underwater terrain anywhere on the planet. And you leave from and return to Bali, so, you know, take a couple of extra days. Here’s more info: www.aquaexpeditions.com
Falconry lessons at Gleneagles, Scotland
Apparently Scotland is the best place for hawking, although from the more common iconography you’d think it would be the Emirates or Saudi Arabia. But it’s not, it’s Scotland, Gleneagles in particular. There they will outfit you to the nines with a Barbour jacket, boots and the essential badass glove for these majestic birds to perch on. You can even go hunting with them should the mood strike (read: you booked this option way in advance). You can be certified if a career in falconry is your desire. Oh, and it’s kid-friendly, too!