The holidays are here and there is no better time to travel that now!
When we wander into a new place we enrich and transform our perspective, gain insight into different customs and traditions by facilitating authentic cultural experiences. It’s also been proven that traveling has physical, cognitive and social benefits that lead to a healthier you. The ability to relax and leave stressors behind by building social ties, nurturing interest in diversity and enhanced personal interactions promotes a healthier brain, enhances your senses all while enjoying the world . . . So pack your bags, grab your loved ones and get ready to #Wanderlust.
Here are our favorite spots for traveling this Holiday Season! Bon Voyage!
Explore Baja California
Tucked away along the Sea of Cortez near Baja’s capital is this 115-room luxurious (and yet affordable) resort with panoramic views in all directions. Amenities run rampant with three pools, access to La Paz Beach, an 18-hole golf course, a private marina, and a spa. If that’s not enough, there’s tennis, a yoga deck, and free use of non-motorized water sports (though the selection is limited). Rooms have slightly exposed walk-in showers and masculine decor, but guests can step out onto balconiesfor cheery vantage points. Open-air restaurants — like Steinbeck’s, which boasts a boggling number of tequilas, and the Beach Club for stellar sunsets — serve quality decor. The resort often hosts weddings, corporate groups, and romantic weekenders — meaning it might not be the best pick for some families.
The former Jamaican beach estate of Ian Fleming lives on as a stunning and virtually flawless 007-worthy resort in Ocho Rios. James Bond himself was born what is now the resort’s most coveted accommodation — the Fleming Villa, a massive ocean-side compound where the writer penned all of his 14 novels about the sleek and sophisticated spy. (The beautifully preserved villa still contains Fleming’s original writing desk.) This historic accommodation sleeps up to 10 guests and features an ocean-facing lawn with a zero-entry pool framed by wooden loungers, hammocks strung between trees, an outdoor dining table, and Adirondack chairs facing the sea. Stone steps lead to the villa’s lush private beach, where guests can find kayaks, a barbecue pit, several ocean-viewing perches, and a totally private stretch of white sand.
Go to Extemes at Extremadura
Bordered by Castile y León to the north, Andalusia to the south, and Portugal to the west, Extremadura is the fourth-largest community in Spain, but also the least populated. It takes its name from the word “extremar,” which means “to go to extremes.” And extremes it is full of — along with ancient Roman ruins, elegant Gothic monuments, mysterious medieval towns, and dramatic landscapes. The only thing it doesn’t have is tourists. Capital Mérida is great for viewing old Roman splendor from theaters and temples to villas and burial grounds, but the real magic awaits in Badajoz and Cáceres. Badajoz with its contemporary art museums and admirable old plazas and Cáceres with its Moorish mansions, Renaissance churches, well preserved medieval walls, and lively students. The Old Town of the latter has even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its diverse history and architecture.
Hiking and wildlife enthusiasts won’t miss a stop to Monfragüe National Park, which hosts more than 200 species of fauna ranging from boar to lynx and including a wide variety of birds. Heading through the eucalyptus scented plains, visitors should also spend time in Zafra or “little Seville,” whose fortress is full of narrow, white streets and delicious tapas bars. Guadalupe’s Royal Monastery of Santa María is another spot an Extremadura traveler shouldn’t miss. Some consider it a point of pilgrimage, since it’s home to the Black Madonna supposedly carved by St. Luke himself. The beautiful town of Trujillo, where Francisco Pizarro lived before he left to conquer the Americas, offers incredible views of the region from its towering castles and churches. Wherever you choose to see, don’t leave without a taste of the region’s simple but delicious food like cured Serrano ham and Torta del Casar sheep’s cheese.
A striking reflective canvas
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is considered one of the most extreme and remarkable vistas in all of South America, if not Earth. Stretching more than 4,050 square miles of the Altiplano, it is the world’s largest salt flat, left behind by prehistoric lakes evaporated long ago. Here, a thick crust of salt extends to the horizon, covered by quilted, polygonal patterns of salt rising from the ground.
At certain times of the year, nearby lakes overflow and a thin layer of water transforms the flats into a stunning reflection of the sky. This beautiful and otherworldly terrain serves as a lucrative extraction site for salt and lithium—the element responsible for powering laptops, smart phones, and electric cars. In addition to local workers who harvest these minerals, the landscape is home to the world’s first salt hotel and populated by road-tripping tourists.