According to United Airlines, I’ve earned 112,800 (premier qualifying) miles in 2015. And adding up the miles on the various other carriers I’m somewhere in the ballpark of 125,000. All the points-junkies out there are probably thinking, “small potatoes,” but really, this year wasn’t so much about how many places I traveled to or the distance it took to get there, but rather the time I spent in those places to have deeper and richer experiences.
In the end, 2015 was all about the people I had the good fortune of connecting with combined with some spectacular settings. We've already shared our list of where to go in 2016, but you can never have too much travel inspiration, so here is a snapshot of a year in travel that will maybe give you a few ideas.
AFAR Experiences. Highlights of my time there included sitting with artist Jonathan Green in his living room studying his work, and an oyster roast courtesy of renowned chef, The Ordinary's Mike Lata (rocking out above), out at Bowens Island.
5. Later in March: Cancun, Mexico
I headed to Mexico to reconnect with myself over a much-needed long weekend. Only a 3.5 hour flight from NYC, Rosewood Mayakoba gives you the space, time, and ambience to really relax. My favorite part of the weekend was dinner underneath the Ceiba tree.
6. April: New Orleans, LouisianaEaster was a great time of year to visit NOLA. The weather was beautiful and the city was festive. We found a great spot to rent on VRBO in the Garden District above a design shop; it was the perfect location.
7. May: Montreal, Canada (again)I visited Montreal a lot in 2015 and in May it was for a conference. C2MTL is a creativity and commerce conference that attracts interesting and interested global citizens from all over the world, so if you want to expand your database, this is a good place to do it.
8. June: SwitzerlandOur “Grand Tour” of Switzerland featured eight different places in eight nights, and while it was quite a whirlwind, it allowed me to understand the diversity of Switzerland and all of the new things going on in the country. I was blown away by Ticino, the Italian speaking part of the country, and by the Switzerland's incredible hotels. It’s a definite must!
9. July: IcelandI fell in love with Iceland thanks to Lindblad Expeditions. Their Iceland expedition was a new offering that combined two days on land with 3 days at sea. Lindblad puts a lot of emphasis on meeting locals and immersing in the culture—very in sync with our own philosophy. Jacob Edgar, founder of music label Cumbancha, curates musical talent for the expeditions, including acts such as the local folk band Ylja. Taking in the breathtaking views of Iceland while rocking out with local musical talent is a cherished memory.
10. Later in July: Cruising the MediterraneanI spent eight days aboard the Paul Gaugin ship, Tere Moana, cruising from Athens to Venice for a friend’s birthday party. While Croatia’s coastline blew me away, and I’ve never swam in more perfect waters than those of the Dalmatian Coast, I fell in love with the Greek Isles once again and will be back next summer.
11. August: Back to Aspen, ColoradoI come for the Aspen winters but stay for the summers. In fact, summer in Aspen is so beautiful that I actually visited twice in August. There are so many activities to enjoy; coming here is a practice in wellness. I stayed at the Gant on this trip. It's perfect for families, groups of friends, or even a company retreat.
12. August (part II): Newport, Rhode IslandWe headed to Newport for a company retreat and stayed at the Castle Hill Inn. It’s a 15-minute drive from Newport and such an ideal spot for a New England vacation. Eat fresh seafood, stop in at the Tennis Hall of Fame, and take one of the famed mansion tours.
13. August (part III): Cancun, MexicoPlan a trip to Nizuc. This hotel will change the way you look at Cancun. I spent a long weekend here and loved it. The accommodations were top notch and all of the hotel’s many restaurants were so good. I got some tennis in on Nizuc’s private and lighted courts. The icing on the cake is that Nizuc is only a ten-minute drive from Cancun’s airport (you'd never believe it).
14. September: US Open Tennis in New York, New YorkI love championship tennis, especially when you get invited to watch it with Emirates. They are the title sponsor of the US Open and accordingly have some luxury digs at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Regardless of how you go, the US Open is iconic New York and is a who’s-who of the local scene. It's easily reached by the subway, so there are no excuses to not go.
15. More in September: Tofino and Vancouver Island, CanadaMy most pleasantly unexpected destination of the year was Tofino. This is a place that not many have heard of, but once Tofino gets underneath your skin you’ll be clamoring to get back. If you have the budget, combine a stay at the Wickininnish Inn with one at Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat. There are also some great house rentals and B&B opportunities that are affordable and deliver high value.
16. October: San Francisco, California and the Blue AngelsI love San Francisco in October and when the Blue Angels come to town, the city is the perfect backdrop. There are not many airshows where the setting is such a compliment to the show.
17. Later in October: BermudaBermuda is only a one-and-a-half hour flight from New York, but the island is the antithesis of Manhattan. Bermuda is gearing up for the America’s Cup sailing race and in October hosted the Louis Vuitton World Series of Racing. Even without a day of wind, we were still able to get an inside look at the world of sailing, and the setting couldn't have been better. Now is the time to head to Bermuda.
18: November: Marrakesh, Morocco and the High Atlas MountainsI came for a travel conference, PURE, and stayed for the majestic mountains. Marrakesh is a bustling city with more than its fair share of top-notch hotels. We were privileged enough to stay at the Royal Mansour. If you want to live like a king, then stay there. We then spent time in the High Atlas Mountains, which are only a 90-minute drive from Marrakesh. If you want an authentic and local feel, stay at the Kasbah du Toubkal and pair it with a stay in their mountain lodge, which is a 17km hike away. For a more luxury option, Richard Branson also has a high-end Kasbah called Tamadot.
19. Later in November: Lausanne, SwitzerlandI was invited to speak at the Leading Hotels of the World Convention, which brought me to Lausanne. It is the hospitality capital of the world with two of the world’s top hotel management schools. And the setting is spectacular. It's situated right on the shores of Lac Leman (ie Lake Geneva). The beautiful thing about Switzerland is how well connected all of its towns and cities are—Lausanne is only an hour from Geneva by train.
20. End of November: Vienna, Austria
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