It’s true that Scandinavia is one of the most expensive regions in the world to visit. But the real truth is that it’s only expensive if you mimic behaviors from ‘home’ such as staying in hotels, driving everywhere, visiting theme parks and eating out every night. The great thing about visiting Northern Europe is that none of that is necessary. In fact, doing so will limit your experience.
So while Scandinavia will never be a budget travel destination, there are ways to save money while still enjoying the best, authentic experiences.
Embrace slow travel
The concept of slow travel encourages travelers to slacken their pace, re-consider motivations and embrace a “less is more” instead of a “fast is better” ethos. Travel photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström runs the website Slow Travel Stockholm and says there is a “frustratingly frequent habit of speeding through all the best known landmarks of a city in 24 or 48 hours.”
Given the high prices, that habit is very tempting in Scandinavian cities. Yet with their compact nature, walkable streets, multiple green spaces and plenty of apartments with kitchens to rent on AirBnB, Scandinavian cities are also well-suited for slow travel.
It may seem counter-intuitive to stay for longer when on a budget, but cheaper accommodation, much lower cooking costs and the ability to spend longer enjoying the same attractions can all keep the final bill down.
Embrace the outdoors lifestyle
Speaking of slow travel, nature is the theme park of Scandinavia and wild camping is one of the biggest joys of visiting the region. Not only do you get to explore the spectacular scenery with just wildlife for company, it doesn’t cost you a thing. It’s all possible thanks to allemannsretten, which is the freedom to roam law that preserves the right for anyone to access so much of the countryside. The rules differ slightly, but Norway, Denmark and Sweden all have similar regulations in place.
For a more comfortable yet still budget-friendly option, consider staying at one of the region’s many camping grounds. A tent is the cheapest option, but most campsites rent out cabins, which vary in quality from basic shelter to mountain lodge style luxury. They usually sleep at least four and always offer better value than a hotel. Most also come with at least a basic kitchenette so you can cook your own meals, saving yet even more cash.
It breaks my heart a little to write this given that I’ve lived in Norway for more than eight years. The country’s natural landscape is simply stunning and there’s so many opportunities to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Yet there’s no denying that it’s much easier to rack up a big bill in Norway than it is in Sweden or Denmark.
If you’re not willing to embrace slow travel or the outdoors lifestyle, or if your idea of Scandinavia is cutting-edge design and urban chic, Sweden or Denmark could be better choices for you.
If you want to travel quickly around the region and/or you prefer to stay in hotels, all is not lost. It’s still possible to slash the total bill simply by booking and paying in advance. This applies especially to domestic flights and trains, for which prices can be up to half by booking a specific departure at least a week in advance.
If you’re confident you won’t change your plans, savings can be made with some hotel chains by paying upfront. For example, the popular Radisson Blu chain typically offers a 10-15% reduction in room rates when you pay in advance, although the bookings are non-refundable.
I was born in the U.K. but moved to Norway in 2011 and haven’t looked back. I run a website and podcast for fellow expats, authored the Moon Norway travel guidebook, help Norwegian companies with their English, and spend my free time touring the country to discover more about the people and places of this unique corner of the world. I write for Forbes with an outsider’s inside perspective on Norway & Scandinavia.
The travel industry continues to see massive changes as the Internet of Things continues to morph the world into its virtual, app-based mold. Along with technology, the issue of global warming is another major factor in change with travelers increasingly paying attention to carbon footprints and factors like single-use plastics when they book their vacations. Another factor in travel trends continues to be the emphasis on marketing to millennials with hotels creating entire brands to seize the almighty millennial dollar.
Top travel trends to watch in 2020 include:
The Rise of the Hotel Sub-Brand
Large hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, Accor, and Hyatt are increasingly turning to the sub-brand as a way to reach new segments of loyalty and as a method of distinguishing the many properties they acquire.
The trend was spearheaded with the birth of Hyatt’s Andaz when it debuted in 2007 as the Andaz London Liverpool Station.
One of the fastest growing brands is Marriott’s “Moxy” brand, designed for millennial “fun-hunters and to a more mature guest who is still young-at-heart” according to branding literature. The first Moxy opened in Milan in 2014 and there are currently 50 properties around the world with more than a hundred planned in the pipeline.
Three Best Practices For Interviewing Opportunity Youth
Millennial lures include free drinks on check-in, whimsical room decor, lots of meet and mingle space in the public areas and grab-and-go dining options. The PR machine around the Moxy is also whirring with celebrity events like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit launch event being held in the NY Moxy in 2018.
Your Phone Is Your Key…And Everything Else
Hotels are increasingly offering key-less options for travelers. Your phone operates as your hotel key and in some tech-forward properties it can do things in the room like turn lights on and off and raise and lower temperature. Hilton is one chain that offers an app through their Honors program allowing guests the option of bypassing those little pieces of plastic that get lost in your bag.
Bathtubs Are Disappearing
Your next hotel room may not have a bathtub. You might have to book a room in a vintage property or a five-star hotel to get yourself a good soak. Hotels are increasingly doing away with bathtubs in all but their most palatial rooms. The reason? Modern travelers don’t want them, say designers. They are also time consuming to clean and use more water resources.
Get A Cookie Or A Meal Or a Non-Reclining Seat But Forget About Leg Room
In 2017 Delta announced the restoration of free meals in economy class on some national flights. At the same time, they also said that increased leg room wasn’t going to be part of the new deal. As airlines look for ways to placate passengers wedged into increasingly smaller seats, expect more offers like cookies or in flight meals. Some airlines have also tried to stop the seat recline battle when passengers try to settle in tiny spaces by preventing the seats from reclining at all. Allegiant and Ryan have such seats and British Airways has ordered new aircraft with seats with a “gentle” recline that doesn’t end up in your fellow passengers’ lap.
Get Ready To Pay Extra for Carry-On
As airlines continue to look for ways to increase revenue, they continue to eye the sacrosanct carry-on bag allowance as the next pay-for-play jackpot. Carry on bags cause passenger disruptions when people wedge too-big-bags into too-small spaces and take over fellow passengers’ overheads. Starting with no-carry-on budget fare options, the possibility that all airlines will soon charge for any carry on bag is fast approaching. Enjoy the overhead while you can.
The “Experiential” Boom is Waning
While hotels and destinations have been riding on the “experiential” travel trend, offering in-house cooking classes with local chefs and tastings at local restaurants with native chefs, among other “experiences” this trend seems to be exhausting hoteliers who are now hoping that guests will use options like online concierge services to figure out how to “live like a local” on their own.
Millennials Are Being Lured Out to Sea
The travel industry has figured out that it better youth-en up their demographic fast. Cruise lines like Celebrity Edge are increasingly being marketed to younger travelers. Perhaps the biggest happening in this arena is the 2020 debut of “The Scarlet Lady,” the first ship in the new Virgin Voyages line. The first of four ships planned for the Millennial-baiting cruise line heralds a new chapter in cruising, designed to ensure the survival of the industry after the Baby Boomers have gone.
Designed expressly for people to get the Grammable moment of their dreams, these swing destinations (where all you do is sit on a swing and get your picture taken) are popping up all around the world but primary in Bali.
Look for this trend to fade as soon as the Grammers find another visual metaphor for living the life of their dreams and everyone else’s.
I’ve been to over 80 countries in all the continents of the world, starting my solo travels at age 13 as a student in Spain. Books, movies, paintings spark me to travel. I’ve crossed Wadi Rumm on a camel in the steps of Lawrence of Arabia. I’ve toured the Paris sewers under the old Opera House searching for the real Phantom of the Opera. Luxury is a subjective word but I love and report on creature comforts: memorable food and wine moments that blend seamlessly with the journey. I also believe that bringing your whole self and all your experience and emotion to the trip makes for better travel journalism (and better travels). I’m not afraid to push myself to explore the human experience from a very different point of view than my own. Follow my journeys on http://www.extremeluxurygetaways.com, on Twitter at @gretchenkelly and on Instagram at ExtremeLuxuryGetaways.
The package holiday firm Thomas Cook has ceased operations overnight after 178 years, leaving 600,000 travelers stranded around the world, including 150,000 British travelers who will be brought back home under the UK CAA’s ATOL program. It also left 21,000 people suddenly unemployed.
In a statement published on the Virgin website, Richard Branson said he was saddened by the demise of the long-standing travel company and by the effect Thomas Cook’s closure has had on the lives of its employees.
“It’s upsetting to see so many people lose their jobs and thousands of holidaymakers affected by disrupted travel,” he wrote. “Our wonderful teams at Virgin Atlantic will do all they can to find people jobs and bring stranded people home.”
Branson also pointed to Brexit uncertainty as exacerbating the company’s troubles.
“The drop in the pound following the referendum has put even more pressure on the struggling business, which has been saddled with large debt for a number of years,” Branson wrote. “All of the travel industry costs are in dollars – for example fuel maintenance and airplane leasing. With the weaker pound, the cost of everything has skyrocketed. For Thomas Cook, this has proved terminal.”
Thomas Cook made a similar point in its financial filing this past May, saying Brexit uncertainty had contributed to its £1.5 billion ($1.86 billion) loss. The company’s CEO, Peter Fankhauser, also said the 2018 summer heat wave had contributed.
“The prolonged heatwave last summer and high prices in the Canaries reduced customer demand for winter sun, particularly in the Nordic region, while there is now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many UK customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer,” Fankhauser said.
But the case of Thomas Cook is unique because it affects hundreds of thousands of travelers and thousands of employees; and raises questions whether Europeans are moving away from traditional package holidays and towards self-assembled budget adventures.
The end of the package holiday
Michael O’Leary pronounced package holidays dead in a conference in Copenhagen in 2016, in part because of the rise of digital platforms allowing holiday-makers greater options to put their own plans together.
“Sales of [traditional] package holidays have declined because what people are doing now is that there’s so much readily available low-fares and services that people go online and book their own accommodations,” O’Leary said. “That concept only existed 45 years ago because it was the only way you could get a cheap fare.”
Ryanair’s CMO Kenny Jacobs elaborated, “You’re seeing all of these digital businesses which are de-bundling the package holiday as we know it. There are a few exceptions: Some Germans will still walk to the high-street travel agent and buy the classic two-week holiday. And in Scandinavia there has been more of a tendency for package holidays..But the UK and Ireland are more like the American market, where people choose to package their own holidays.”
Thomas Cook’s business model, more akin to charter flights than commercial airline operations, did not allow the efficiencies of scale necessary for its airline operations to compete with the cost structure of low-cost giants like Ryanair and easyJet in Europe.
The collapse of Thomas Cook raises questions going forward about whether other similar package-model companies, like TUI, will find a way to work around this digital divide.
More planes on the market
The closure of Thomas Cook airlines does create an opportunity in the airframe market. According to ch-aviation fleet data, Thomas Cook Airlines UK operated 28 A321-200s and seven A330-200s. Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia operates eight A321-200s, one A330-200 and three A330-300s. Most of these aircraft were leased. The 737 MAX grounding creates demand for single-aisle aircraft and might make it easier to return these aircraft to service quickly, according to aviation analysts at Air Insight.
“Thomas Cook had a good fleet,” writes Air Insight founder, Addison Schonland, “The least attractive part of the Thomas Cook fleet, the A320s, are likely to be snapped up. The airline’s A321s are probably being eyed right now. These are in high demand as evidenced by how quickly Air Canada took over WOW’s A321s. The A330 fleet is also likely to find new employment as evidenced by the quick absorption of the Air Berlin A330s.”
Condor continues to fly
While Thomas Cook airlines UK and Thomas Cook Scandinavia have ceased operations, German operator Condor, Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics, and Thomas Cook Aviation (formerly Air Berlin Aviation), continue to fly, at least for now.
Thomas Cook Scandinavia–which operates as Spies in Denmark–announced late on Monday evening that it had made arrangements to resume flight service starting on Tuesday, to help get stranded passengers back home. Spies CEO Jan Vendelbo told STANDBY.dk, “We deeply regret that so many of our guests have been affected by this and we will do our best to get our stranded guests home as soon as possible. We understand that this has created concern and inconvenience for those who have experienced it.”
These airlines will need to find new missions in the long term, either sustaining TUI–which already relied in part on Thomas Cook planes, leading to some of its own flight cancelations today–or in the charter and wet-lease markets.
But the likely long-term winners, as more of Europe’s travelers move to do-it-yourself holidays will be Europe’s well-established low-cost carriers, namely Ryanair and easyJet and Europe’s flagship airlines operating on sounder footing, including SAS, Lufthansa and IAG group carriers.
I worked in aviation from 1994-2010 before turning my experience to writing about airlines and airports for leading industry and consumer publications in 2013. I’ve spent months in the hangars of airlines and aircraft manufacturers, dressed aircraft seats by hand, and worked with crew at training centres around the world. I’ve negotiated with airline CEOs and worked with buyers, engineers, leading design firms, suppliers and aircraft manufacturers on the launch of new programs. I was the executive responsible to international regulators on the approval of cabin equipment, with oversight of production facilities, product testing laboratories, a maintenance center, and a certified hazardous materials repair station. I even hold a patent for a military-spec life raft. Now, I translate “aviation speak” into English, breaking barriers of acronyms and jargon to make the beautiful business of flight easier to value. I also really, really love being on a plane—even in the middle seat.
There’s a massive effort to bring home more than half a million stranded travelers. They got stuck at airports and hotels around the world, as Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company, suddenly shut down. Kris Van Cleave reports. Subscribe to the “CBS Evening News” Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/1S7Dhik Watch Full Episodes of the “CBS Evening News” HERE: http://cbsn.ws/23XekKA Watch the latest installment of “On the Road,” only on the “CBS Evening News,” HERE: http://cbsn.ws/23XwqMH Follow “CBS Evening News” on Instagram: http://bit.ly/1T8icTO Like “CBS Evening News” on Facebook HERE: http://on.fb.me/1KxYobb Follow the “CBS Evening News” on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1O3dTTe Follow the “CBS Evening News” on Google+ HERE: http://bit.ly/1Qs0aam Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B — The “CBS Evening News” premiered as a half-hour broadcast on Sept. 2, 1963. Check local listings for CBS Evening News broadcast times.
The Brando, Marlon Brando’s former French Polynesian private island hideaway, continues to evolve with the addition of new residences, designed in keeping with the late actor’s ambitious vision for an environmentally sustainable resort.
The first of four residential accommodations opened last month on the resort’s main motu (islet) Onetahi, one of 12 motus that ring the Tetiaroa atoll in French Polynesia.
The 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom residence sets the model for the others that will built over the next four years. The sprawling structure is nestled on a 1.25-acre plot, ensuring heightened privacy in what is already a very secluded resort.
The design blends indoor and outdoor living spaces with contemporary interiors that open directly onto the Residence’s large terrace and decks. It also has a swimming pool in addition to a private span of white sandy beach on the sparkling turquoise waters of the lagoon.
Residence guests have full access to the resort and its activities and amenities, including multiple restaurants and bars, spa, fitness center, and water sport options. You can also request a dedicated staff of chefs and butlers to provide the utmost personalized service and in-residence dining.
The Residence’s dramatic architecture offers a modern interpretation of Polynesian style with the use of local tropical wood, coral walls, and pandanus thatch roofing. Built in harmony with its natural surroundings, the Residence also adheres to the strict standards that earned the resort its LEED Platinum certification.
“Each of the Brando Residences will feature five-star services and amenities powered by the same zero carbon emission technology which has established The Brando as a pillar of sustainable hospitality,” said Richard H. Bailey, CEO of Pacific Beachcomber (the resort’s developer and manager) in a news release. “Solar energy and biofuel power the entire resort, while deep seawater cools it, and these practices will also be in place at the residences.”
Marlon Brando was introduced to Tetiaroa while filming Mutiny on the Bounty in the early 1960s. He was so enchanted by the place and its unique culture that he purchased the atoll in 1967 and settled into hisprivate piece of paradise.
In 1999, Brando tapped Bailey, a fellow environmentalist who had created some of the region’s finest resorts, to design his vision for a carbon-neutral, self-sustaining luxury resort that would employ innovative technologies and preserve Tetiaroa’s natural beauty, biodiversity, and cultural richness. The concept would simultaneously provide the global scientific community with a model for environmentally sustainable development. Brando’s dream was ultimately fulfilled a decade after his death with the opening of The Brando in 2014.
Guests have the opportunity to take a Green Tour for a behind-the-scenes look at The Brando’s initiatives, such as seawater air conditioning technology, solar panels, water production and storage, coconut oil generators, and more. Meanwhile, the property’s EcoStation operates as a working lab for scientists from around the world, and the non-profit Tetiaroa Society, endeavors to protect the island and coastal communities by preserving local ecosystems and culture.
The Brando, located about 30 miles north of Tahiti, features 35 deluxe villas, each with its own private beach area and plunge pool, restaurants showcasing Polynesian and French cuisine, a Polynesian spa, an array of water sports, and more.
All-inclusive resort rates start at €3,300 per night for 2 people with a two-night minimum stay, and all-inclusive rates for the new Brando Residence start from €15,000 per night for up to six guests.
I believe luxury is about more than expense. My stories draw on my passion for quality, design, artistry, and craftsmanship. I have been writing about five-star travel, the world’s finest watches and jewelry, and other luxurious specialties for nearly two decades, including more than eight years as senior editor at Robb Report. I am a contributing editor for Cigar Aficionado, and I also contribute to Barron’s Penta, Centurion International, Departures International, NUVO, The New York Post, WorldTempus, and other outlets.
While Portofino and Cinque Terre are the best-known spots on the Italian Riviera today, Rapallo is a destination that can provide all you want for a perfect weekend (or longer) getaway. As one of Italy’s first modern seaside resorts, a place the beau monde flocked to in the early 20th century, it has glamour and history, along with incredible seascapes. Rapallo’s prime location makes it easy to visit most anywhere on the Riviera di Levante, the halcyon strip of coast that runs from Genoa to Portovenere.
Here are 11 ways to have a perfect (preferably extended) weekend here.
1.See the Riviera from on high. The views from the beautiful Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montallegro, a shrine dating from the 16th century 600 meters above the town, are among the most extraordinary in a region filled with exceptional vistas. Take the cable car from Piazza Solari for the seven-minute ride to this dreamy perch. Occasionally the service is available at night, when you’ll be able to see the coast at its glittery best.
2. Sail the exquisite Gulf of Tigullio, the beautiful coastal area that stretches from Portofino to Sestri Levante, or to Cinque Terre. Rapallo is well situated to get you to some of the Riviera’s best-known destinations without having to deal with departures from crowded harbors. Portofino is about a half-hour’s sail away, ideal for a sunset excursion; for a wonderful day outing, cruise to the Cinque Terre. (You can choose from a variety of boating companies in the area, for example, Portofino Taxi Boat, run for several generations by the Viacava family, offers a number of area tours. For a trip to the Cinque Terre, Luxury Charter Portofino could either pick you up near the Villa Porticciolo in town, or send a car to take you to Santa Margherita Ligure for departure there. If you’re staying at the Excelsior Palace Hotel, the concierge will arrange boating excursions. See below.) Should you not be traveling by sea, note that train connections are easy and fast—only three minutes to go from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure; nine minutes to Camogli; and between 35 minutes to an hour to Monterosso al Mare (the closest Cinque Terre village). The fastest trains to Vernazza run between 36 and 56 minutes.
3. Pamper yourself in sumptuous style. One of the Riviera’s grand retreats, the Excelsior Palace Hotel will pamper you with its refined blending of modern and old-world luxury. At this property you’ll feel as if you’ve been invited into the (very large) home of a Genovese aristocrat—there are period paintings and decorative objects, silk-covered furnishings and antiques, along with plush modern bedrooms and bathrooms. Spectacular views from seaside rooms and dining areas are sure to keep you in a permanent swoon. The Excelsior is not only a palatial site, but a historic one, where the Rapallo Conference was held by the Allied nations after Germany’s defeat in the first World War. Prominent names have been coming here for decades—the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, King Hussein of Jordan, Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway were all guests; in more recent times, George Clooney and Bruce Springsteen as well.
Start your day with the lavish breakfast buffet (with prosecco if you’d like) served in the Lord Byron restaurant overlooking the sea (there’s a spacious outdoor terrace too). In summer the Lord Byron also serves dinner, with a menu offering dishes like an asparagus flan appetizer with zabaione; risotto with roasted lobster and peas; and fresh grilled fish. (The seaside Eden Roc restaurant is the hotel’s summer lunch spot; in winter the Lord Byron serves lunch.) You can work off calories at the sleek modern spa and fitness area, which has an indoor pool to use in cool-weather months. The Excelsior offers another special amenity—a private dock at the beach club where you can depart on boating excursions (booked in advance) to such destinations as Portofino, Cinque Terre and Portovenere.
A stay at the hotel can run less than at other five-star properties along the French and Italian Rivieras, where room rates in summer are often well over €1000 a night. This year doubles with sea views and a balcony in peak season range from €770 to €965; the rate for a non-sea-view room, double occupancy, during the second half of August and September is €386.
4. Enjoy a posh beach scene. Although Rapallo has limited beach areas, there are lidos in town where you can while away the day. But if you want to experience Riviera beach style in a way that reminds you of a Slim Aarons photograph, go to the Excelsior Palace’s Beach Club. (You can pay a fee to use it if you’re not staying at the hotel.) Two striking infinity pools and their lounge areas overlook that gorgeous Riviera coastline and beach terraces on the levels below provide access to the vividly colored sea. You probably won’t want to budge from this spot all day (or ever), unless you decide to swim to the floats (materassini prendisole) positioned offshore, so it’s good there’s both a snack bar and the chic Eden Roc restaurant close at hand.
5. Golf at a historic club. Il Circolo Golf e Tennis Rapallo, dating from the early 1930s, has hosted everyone from screen legend Rita Hayworth to Bill Gates. The 18-hole (par 70) course can be played year-round thanks to the Gulf of Tigullio’s balmy climate. (Contact the club for booking information.) As the club’s name indicates, tennis is available here—there are four clay and two synthetic-grass courts. The club is about two kilometers from the Rapallo train station.
6. Learn how to cook Ligurian dishes. At the Vecchia Rapallo, a noted restaurant with a prime location in the historic center, there are classes to help you master the art of making such Ligurian specialties as pesto, lasagne with pesto, and stuffed vegetables the way the pros and locals do. After lessons are complete, you get to enjoy your culinary efforts at lunch. If you want to savor a range of Ligurian flavors, come back for dinner and try one of the restaurant’s tasting menus. On the Menù Contadino, for example, there’s pear ravioli served with cheese; on the Menù Marinaio the octopus salad with pistachios, tomatoes, oranges and olives, is followed by sea-bream ravioli in scampi sauce.
7. Indulge your sweet tooth at one of Italy’s iconic pastry shops. Since the 19th century the Caffé Pasticceria Canepa 1862 has been tempting Riviera residents and visitors with irresistible pastries and cakes. Try their signature cubeletti, quince jam-filled treats that have been produced here for more than 150 years. There are many other sweets to savor including pandolce, the Genoa fruit bread/cake; colomba, the Easter specialty; solluccheri cookies and sugar-flecked airy brioches. This atmospheric shop, owned today by Giovanni Garbarini and pastry chef Andrea Zino, can ship their delicious products anywhere.
8.Explore lesser-known nearby spots like San Michele di Pagana. Relax at this beautiful seaside hamlet between Rapallo and Santa Margarita Ligure, which has a small harbor, several coves (Pomaro, Trelo and Prelo) and beach areas. Despite its small size this haven has a major piece of art, The Crucifixion by Anthony Van Dyck, in the church of San Michele Arcangelo.
9. Head to Zoagli, another under-the-radar retreat, and the neighboring towns of Chiavari and Lavagna. Zoagli, a favored spot of wealthy Genovese for centuries, was long known for its production of fine velvets, coveted by Europe’s elites. Stroll the lovely seaside promenade, then head to Seterie di Zoagli Cordani, where beautiful silk velvets and silks have been made since 1849, and Tessitura Artigiana Giuseppe Gaggioli, for exquisite hand-woven velvets and damasks, along with fine silks. When in Chiavari, a bustling sea town, stroll the medieval quarter and the various arcades, and if you’re in the area the second weekend of the month, check out its well-known antiques and flea market. In Lavagna, you’ll find a long (4 kilometer) beach, along with six medieval sestieri, or districts.
10. You can even visit castles. A series of waterside castles in Liguria serves as reminder that for centuries many Riviera coastal villages lived under threat of invasions from the sea. Rapallo’s 16th-century castle, built after a fearsome raid by Turkish pirates when locals were captured and made slaves, sits on the Lungomare and is one of the town’s famous markers. The space is often used for exhibitions. (Reconstruction work from last fall’s storm is expected to be completed shortly.) In nearby Portofino visit Castello Brown, perched high on the promontory and dating from the 1400s. You can also stop by the Castello di Dragonara in Camogli and take in the remarkable sea views from its exterior. There are number of other castles to see as you work your way down the Riviera di Levante coast to Portovenere.
11. If you’re doing a three- or four-day weekend, find time to head north to Genoa, a fascinating city with great art, where you’ll find palazzi housing masterpieces by Caravaggio, Rubens, Dürer and Veronese; a large historic center; fascinating shops; and the cool Porto Antico, the old port, which was revitalized by the Genoa-born superstar architect Renzo Piano.
I have worked for Italian publications in the US and Italy, including Harper’s Bazaar, Mondadori’s Linea Italiana and RAI’s Moda. For Clarkson Potter/Crown I produced and authored two books on design, ‘Italian Style’ and ‘Italian Country.’ In addition to living in Milan and going to school in Pisa, I have produced and written features from many countries in Europe and throughout Italy. For American publications I have been editor-in-chief of the Forbes Special Interest Publications group and Gotham Magazine. My focus is on travel in Italy and Western Europe
Gorgeous photos and shareable moments are the hallmark of any modern vacation, but when is the last time you actually took a trip just for yourself?
Instead of trying to keep up with wanderlust-inducing Instagram feeds, opt for a more laid-back approach to your next getaway. Treat yourself to a digital detox at these Forbes Travel Guide-approved stays that excel in JOMO (the joy of missing out), the antithesis to FOMO (fear of missing out).
You won’t find Wi-Fi in the heart of Wadi Rum, the rose-hued desert four hours south of this spectacular stay in Jordan’s capital.
Head for the dunes for an overnight excursion to Bedouin Lifestyle Camp — a tented complex run by the region’s traditionally nomadic inhabitants — where you can hike through the otherworldly rock formations that surround the sands.
After sundown, gather around the fire for a family-style meal of roasted lamb. Be sure to gaze up at the stars — the celestial bodies shine bright without Amman’s light pollution.
The Westin Palace, Madrid
Westin Hotels and Resorts
Across the map, Westin properties put self-care first with a host of health-focused offerings to keep you on top of your game during your travels — without the constant stimulation of digital devices.
At hotels like Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Westin Chosun Seoul, look out for rest-enhancing amenities, such as bedside Sleep Well Lavender Balm or the superfood-packed Sleep Well Menu for late-night room service.
More active pursuits can be found at stays like The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, where you can trade in your phone for the day in exchange for bike rentals, kayak tours or spa time, or Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Westin Palace, Madrid where you can follow the property’s running map for a 2.5-mile route around some of the city’s most popular sights.
In the spirit of dolce far niente (“the sweet art of doing nothing”), this Five-Star Venetian gem recently debuted an early morning experience you need to see to believe.
Scala Del Bovolo Sunrise begins with a shuttle ride to St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll stroll through the deserted city streets before climbing the spiral staircase of the 15th-century Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.
After conquering the 80-step ascent, you’ll be rewarded with sunrise views over Venice and a continental breakfast. Trust us when we say you’ll want to leave your phone behind — pictures won’t do these vistas justice.
A cliffside locale and VIP-approved amenities (past guests have included Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston) are just a few of the reasons to unplug and soak in all that this Five-Star stunner has to offer.
Ditch your device for a bit of romance with the Cabo San Lucas property’s Sueños Spa Experience. Enjoy a steamy spin in the Five-Star spa’s grotto, where you and your partner will find a sauna-like cave and warm pools to luxuriate in.
An alfresco couple’s massage illuminated by starlight followed by post-indulgence finger foods and bubbles complete the enviable experience. You will want to keep the details of this romantic rendezvous all to yourselves.
Find your center among the scenic Swiss Alps with the Tibetan Healing Retreat offer from this Five-Star gem.
Available June 9 through September 22, the rejuvenating four-night escape begins with a personal consultation, pulse reading and questionnaire that will determine the course of your customized experience.
High stress levels? The spa’s Tibetan medicine amchi-naturopath practitioner might recommend a 60-minute singing bowl session. Need a pick-me-up? You’ll likely enjoy a 75-minute Ku Nye Massage.
No matter your treatments, you’ll be sure to enjoy gratis daily breakfast made especially memorable with a side of those breathtaking mountain views.
Perched in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended retreat is a JOMO paradise. If the Poipu Beach property’s saltwater pool, white sands and fire-pit-dotted grounds aren’t enough to convince you to unplug, its Kauai Wanderlust offer might just do the trick.
Customize your perfect day with your choice of indulgent Hawaiian dinner for two, an oceanside couple’s massage or an adventurous afternoon (surf lessons and a private luau), before retiring on your room’s cozy lanai — a scenic spot to watch the sun set.
Need a break from L.A.’s constant buzz? Head about an hour south to this rustic-chic Orange County retreat to recharge your batteries.
You’ll want to leave the devices at home at this tranquil spot. Tucked between two canyons on 87 verdant acres, the SoCal resort may as well be a world away from the bustle of Hollywood.
Home to Laguna Beach’s only golf course, the sprawling property begs for you to do absolutely nothing, whether by the gorgeous central pool, at nature-inspired Sycamore Spa or around the fire pit roasting s’mores after nightfall.—Sarah Chanin
Some places are easier to get to than others. Then, there’s Bali. For me, the journey took a 15-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, a four-hour layover, and another five-hour flight. Needless to say, I landed at the Denpasar Airport in pretty grimy shape.
But once I stepped into the elegant, open-air lobby (think gleaming marbling floors, crisp white and beige palette, and local accents like oversized, wall-hanging abacuses) of The Mulia, an award-winning resort in Nasa Dua, my self-consciousness melted away. (The calming tones of traditional Balinese instruments, easygoing staff, and refreshing welcome drink surely helped). And it didn’t take long for me to realize why Bali has been such a longstanding, popular destination for well, most everyone: outdoor enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, honeymooners, and spa fanatics.
The Mulia offers three distinct categories of accommodations: The Mulia (all suites), Mulia Resort, and Mulia Villas (pictured).
The Mulia & Mulia Villas
As for me? I fall squarely into the last category. But I wouldn’t categorize myself as the typical spa-goer. With a professional background in beauty and retail – I owned a Brooklyn apothecary with an in-house aesthetician for ten years – I’ve always held the belief that spa treatments are about far more than pampering and vanity. I also know that a breathlessly expensive, big brand name experience doesn’t necessarily correlate to quality, either.
This is when Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package enters the picture. As the name implies, the comprehensive, mind-and-body experience takes course over an entire day, from early morning through dinner. Yes, it’s definitely indulgent – Mulia Spa is widely and consistently recognized as one of the region’s best for good reason – but as I mentioned before, what makes this treatment a real standout is how it ticks off all the boxes (including one many travelers won’t typically discuss). Below, four reasons why Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package shouldn’t be missed.
The dazzling entrance to Mulia Spa.
The Mulia & Mulia Villas
Relatively speaking, it’s a bargain.
It’s funny how many travel writers are loathe to comment on pricing. Because guess what? Everybody, regardless of income level, loves getting more bang for their hard-earned buck. Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package costs around $787 – which includes tax, along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and spans approximately six hours. And if you break down the price per hour, it comes down to about $131. (Just for quick comparison: a basic, hourlong Swedish massage at a no-frills spot in my Brooklyn neighborhood is $130.) So, for the same amount of dollars, you’re receiving world-class facilities and service (and not to mention, the breathtakingly Bali backdrop) at Mulia Spa.
Alternate between the warm and cold hydrotherapy pools before your treatments.
The Mulia & Mulia Villas
It’s not just about pampering – which there’s plenty of.
Make no mistake: you’ll be thoroughly scrubbed, rubbed, and treated like royalty during most of the Full Day Spa Wellness Package. But you’ll begin the experience bright and early at 7:00 a.m. with your choice of fitness activity. While most guests opt for yoga – which makes sense, given that Bali is also a destination for yogis – I went on my own with a five-mile run. Commencing with physical activity not just helps you connect with yourself, but sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. And the spa’s famed Wellness Suite, comprised of hydrotherapy pools, steam room, sauna, and Asia Pacific’s only ice room – where you can sit in a 30-degrees Fahrenheit, and massage crushed ice all over your skin – just adds to the good vibes already set in motion.
Cool yourself off (and boost circulation) in Asia Pacific’s only ice room.
The Mulia & Mulia Villas
Customization is key.
We’ve all tried out spa packages where the treatments are fixed beforehand. While they’re fine, Mulia Spa goes above and beyond by letting you create a truly bespoke experience for yourself. To that end, you’ll have a consultation at the spa the day before your appointment. After refreshing yourself with an oshibori and pink ginger drink, you’ll fill out a form detailing your specific needs and concerns. In addition to selecting a massage, facial, body scrub, and salon experience, you also get to pick what you’d like to eat for your meals throughout the day.
You’ll enjoy a spacious, dedicated suite for most of the day.
The Mulia & Mulia Villas
This isn’t your standard spa food.
I usually cringe when I hear the words spa food. Why? Because it almost always sacrifices flavor and creativity for low-calorie nutrition. But when I glanced at Mulia Spa’s menu, which was filled with a wide range of tantalizing options (including soups, small plates, juices, and entrees), I shelved my doubts. Everything I ordered was generously portioned, balanced, and nutritionally sound. My lunch of miso black cod, dashi spinach with eggplant, and steamed quinoa, for example, left me feeling completely satisfied for hours, without the least bit weighed down.
I cover travel – like hip hotels, a destination’s can’t-miss dining, and products that make the journey easier.
When I look back on the past decade of our travels, all I see are little city breaks scattered throughout the years. Instead of burning all the vacation days on one big, proper trip, we favoured spontaneous voyages around Europe and Ireland.
One thing I was surprised to discover- I found real satisfaction in planning all the trips and loved the anticipation of what might happen. Actually, when I think about it, I enjoyed organising weekend getaways and staycations even more than remembering them after.
I got so hooked that I needed this happy feeling in my life repeated as often as possible. I started planning prospective road trips and crazy adventures. Over the years I plotted pretty much everything I could, from a two-week Pacific Northwest adventures to The Great Ocean Road trip and even several Around The World Trips.
Some of the journeys and routes that I have planned are still bookmarked for later and some of them we had a chance to experience several times.
When it comes to pretty European getaways, Brugge is one place I always wanted to go. It was one of the first trips that I personally planned with great enthusiasm. Was I seduced by chocolate fountains that never dry out or inspired by long exposure pictures of the medieval city at night with silky smooth waters on my Instagram feed?
All I know is that since we had to cancel long weekend in Belgium a few years ago, because of Valters work circumstances, urge to go surfaced from time to time in my head.
The purpose of our visit to Bruges, that was founded in the 9th century by the Vikings, was to see its beautiful squares, hear folkloric tales and to climb 366 steps to the very top of the Belfry.
And even though we arrived in Bruges hearing rain pound on the train window and even though we never made it to the medieval bell tower, we were swept away by its laid-back ambience and delectable foods.
10 best things to see and do in delightful Bruges, Belgium
For those world wanderers who want to discover the best things to see and do in this city, we put together a list of some of the most beautiful places you’ll find in Bruges. If you ask me, there’s no denying that with the quirky houses, incredible Christmas markets, and the cobbled streets, Bruges is one of the Europes most beautiful cities.
It’s so beautifully unique and full of history that in fact, the centre of it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
After spending a full day in Bruges, we can recommend this medieval town to everyone. Bruges is a very walkable place, and you can fit all the major attractions in a day. So, bring your walking shoes and explore this place.
#1. Eat all the Belgian chocolate you can
On a quest to find the best sweets in town? You have come to the right place. White and dark chocolate, macaroons, pralines, truffles, strawberry ganache, waffles – whatever you fancy! Bruges is cheerfully dripping in sweets. For the most amazing chocolates in the World, go to The Chocolate Line. Lavender and the Cuban cigar flavour, anyone?
#2. Find the 18th-century windmills
The Koeleweimolen and Sint-Janshuismolen mills are located on the outskirts of town and are worth a visit. Out of four remaining windmills, these two are still used today to grind the grain. Each of the houses a small museum and if you are in luck, you’ll see the sails in motion.
#3. Look out for In Bruges filming locations
Before our trip I scrolled through the Netflix archives, looking for a black comedy starring Collin Farrel and Brendon Gleeson, In Bruges. Not only this movie was hilarious; it also revealed beautiful Gothic architecture, old bridges and lots of tourist attractions.
Most of the filming locations are freely accessible, and you can see Minnewater Bridge, The Groeningemuseum, the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, The Huidenvettersplein, The Jan Van Eyckplein and many more. Bring your camera, get the map of all the filming locations at the tourist information bureau and have fun finding them.
#4. Go for a Boat Ride
The canal boat ride was the very first thing we enjoyed in Bruges. The price of the ticket is around 8 euro, it takes 30 minutes for a round trip, and this trip allowed us to see the town from a different angle. Jumping into the boat with other travellers was a perfect way to see the city and our tour guide was quite the character, telling jokes and interesting facts about everything we saw along the way.
#5. Go for a walk
When you go for a walk around Bruges, the evidence why this place never needs to fight for visitors attention, unlike Ghent or Antwerp, is on every corner. Strolling through unfamiliar streets and squares filled with small cafes and shops, we stopped many times to gaze into the beautifully decorated shop windows, tried to imagine what the rooms look like behind those pink painted window frames, admired the unique architecture and tried to absorb its energetic vibe.
#6. Explore Bruges on bike
Bruges is a land of bicycles. ROour advice, rent the bikes, ditch the mid-day crowds and go for a ride. You can use the pedestrian/bike path that circles nearly all the way around town. If you enjoy hopping on two wheels and like to see the countryside too then go all the way to Damme, situated north-east of Bruges.
#7. Find cute door knobs
As we wandered from one cobbled street to the next one, we found many beautifully detailed doors often with symmetrical designs. One thing to look out for in Bruges is door knobs that come in all shape and sizes. We spotted everything from flowers and animals to beautiful ornaments. Knocking on the doors in this town sure is fun.
#8. See the impressive Town Hall
Located in Burg Square Bruges Town Hall is strikingly remarkable inside and out. Interior of this place is decorated with a golden ceiling and valuable paintings. 19th-century murals adorn the Ghotic Hall and may original documents can be found in the historic chamber.
#9. Go on a tour with a horse-drawn carriage
While walking around medieval town, we quickly learned that that Bruges was in a class of its own. Another fun way how to enjoy the sights and listen to the stories told by the coachman is to go for a half-hour carriage ride along beautiful streets. It is definitely one of the priciest things to do in this city, but its good fun!
#10. Send some love
Last thing before we left – postcards. I send one home to Latvia and to my friends from every place we visit. I love this old fashion way of keeping in touch as it’s an effective way to show you care. Who doesn’t want to receive a hand-picked card with a personal note from the other side of the world?
How to get to Bruges
Typically for most visitors, the first stop in Belgium is Brussels city. From here, you can take a train ride to Bruges with Belgian Railway. To make the most of your trip, especially if you are going on a day trip, you need to get an early start. It takes around an hour to make it to Bruges from Brussels by train, and it’s possible to purchase the ticket in advance. To do so, use the Belgian train online page.
Now, over to you!
Have you been to Bruges? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Bruges and have travel related questions!
With only one month left in 2018 it now appears almost certain that the average inflation-adjusted domestic round-trip air fare in America this year will be the lowest it has been in at least nine years.
Based on data and analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Airlines for America, the major carriers’ trade association, the average domestic round-trip fare paid during the first of 2018 was $338, excluding ancillary fees, and $360 including those fees.
That’s 15.1% lower than the $398 that travelers paid, on average, in 2014 excluding ancillary fees, and 14.9% lower than the $423 they paid, on average in that same year when fees for ancillary services are included. The year 2014 turned out to be the costliest, on average, for domestic air travel year out of the last nine years.
Average U.S. domestic round-trip airfares since 2010Airlines for America/ U.S. DOT
The cheapest year for domestic air travel, on average, out of the previous eight years was 2017, when the average domestic round-trip fare, excluding ancillary fees was $347, and $370 with those fees. Those figures were both about 3% higher than the average domestic round-trip fare in the first half of this year.
All dollar figures in the data and analysis are inflation adjusted and stated in 2018 constant dollars.
The final calculation of the average domestic round-trip fare price for all of 2018 won’t be available until sometime next spring. But it is very unlikely – in fact, it’s almost statistically impossible – for the full-year 2018 average fare price to rise above the 2017 full-year average price. That’s the case for several reasons.
First, to push that much higher from the first half 2018 average fare price, second half 2018 fares prices would have to have been significantly, even painfully higher throughout the second half of this year. But that has not been the case.
Only this week has Southwest been able to push through a modest fare hike that other carriers followed. Southwest is a long-established discount carrier that now struggles with higher costs than traditionally was the case. Still, it tends to set the floor price for fares charged by the nation’s largest, more conventional airlines. Southwest raised its prices $2 to $5 each way on about 90,000 listed fares. American, Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian airlines all followed suit.
That increase was welcomed by analysts and investors who had been complaining for months that airlines’ fares were too low this year because the industry had added more capacity than consumer demand could fill without airlines resorting to increased price discounting. But even that new, modest price increase isn’t big enough, nor will it be in effect long enough for it to significantly alter 2018’s downward pricing trend line.
Airline profits in 2018 also are expected to be down from 2017 and from the peak year of 2015, when the group as a whole earned an unprecedented $23.7 billion net profit and an operating profit of $26.8 billion. Last year U.S. airlines reported combined operating profits of $20.3 billion and combined net profits of $14 billion.
Through the first nine months of this year, U.S. airlines saw fuel prices move up 50% from the previous year, only to fall precipitously again over the last six weeks.
The fact that U.S. air travelers are getting a relatively good deal on the average domestic fare prices paid this year does not mean that every passenger is scoring a great deal.
The calculation of the average fare price includes a large number of factors that impact the percentage of seats sold at various prices. Business travelers and leisure travelers willing to spend extra for comfort frequently end up paying twice or three times more than the price of the average fare. Conversely, those willing to forego “extras” or even service features that used to be considered basic (like the ability to choose a seat or carry on a bag for free) frequently pay half, or even only a third of the “average” fare price.
Then there are business travelers who pay somewhat lower fares for full service treatment because the big corporations for which they work negotiate substantial net discounts based on the high volume of business travelers they place a particular carriers’ flights. Then there are those who travel for free, or virtually free, by using mileage points earned as members of carriers’ frequent flier programs.
Price-sensitive travelers tend to make up a much greater share of passengers on board any given flight. But the wide gap in prices paid by the most and the least price-sensitive travelers can push the average price up even though relatively few travelers pay those higher fares.
Not surprisingly, data from A4A, the carriers’ trade association, illuminates the effect that different carriers’ marketing approaches can have on the average prices paid by their passengers.
U.S. Carriers’ Average Domestic Round-trip Fares* – 1st Half 2018
Carrier Fare Market Share
Southwest $261.52 23.3%
American $411.63 19.6%
Delta $413.01 18.8%
United $428.70 14.4%
Alaska $320.78 6.3%
JetBlue $296.36 5.5%
Spirit $ 90.32 4.3%
Frontier $114.71 3.1%
Allegiant $133.65 2.5%
Hawaiian $349.12 1.5%
Sun Country $268.60 0.4%
Southwest, which continues to be a discount carrier though it no longer positions itself as industry’s absolute low price leader, had an average roundtrip domestic fare price, excluding fees and taxes, of $261.52 in the first half of the year.
American, the world’s largest airline, had a first half average fare of $411.63, while No. 2 Delta’s was $413.01 and No. 3 United’s was a relatively whopping $428.70.
But because Southwest, which has a very small international footprint, carries an industry-leading 23.3% of all domestic travelers (to the Big Three’s 19.6%, 18.8% and 14.4%, respectively), its first half average domestic round-trip fare of $261.52 has an out-sized effect on bringing down the industry’s average fare price.
The carrier with the lowest average domestic round-trip fare in the first half of this year was Spirit Airlines, at just $90.32. Thus, though it carries only 4.3% of domestic passenger, Spirit, which features Spartan service and extra fees for virtually any service beyond a seat on the plane also has a strong downward pull on the industry’s average fare. Though slightly pricier – and, in each case, smaller that Spirit – fellow “ultra low cost carrier” Frontier, Allegiant and Sun Country exert similar downward pull on the industry’s average price.
When Southwest Airlines announced plans to start flying to Hawaii last year, Hawaiian Airlines was ready. Now, with the start of Southwest’s Hawaiian air service potentially only a few weeks away, Hawaii’s largest carrier is as ready as it will ever be. Hawaiian Airlines’ secret weapons? Its legendary customer service and a culture of constant improvement. If Southwest Airlines starts flying to Hawaii in 2019, as is widely expected, it might quickly find itself in a game of one-upmanship unlike any since airline deregulation in the 1970s………..