Adventurous Destinatons: Due South

If it’s stargazing from the ochre-hued Atacama Desert, horseback riding with gauchos through the dramatic landscapes of Patagonia or snorkelling the pristine Pacific waters off Rapa Nui (Easter Island) that gets your wanderlust flowing, then Chile-based Explora has you covered. As the name suggests, guests at any of the company’s three remote lodges are encouraged to explore. Gerente general (that’s CEO in Spanish) Jesús Parrilla wants visitors to feel like they’re at home, to think of their guides as travel companions and their fellow guests as friends, describing the vacations as “exclusive but inclusive.” If you go with the kids or grandkids, check out family rates, and if you can’t decide on just one lodge, do all three with the Passport program. And you won’t find TVs, radios, alarm clocks or anything with an iPod dock. So, unplug and go.  www.explora.com, +56 2 395 2800  —Tara Losinski

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DOWN UNDER

Due-South_feature_Bespoke experiences like riding along with Australian postmen through the outback or bunking up with Kiwis on a New Zealand farm is a travel trend on which we’re happy to report. Dianne Hall, owner and director of GoWalkabout Travel, an Alberta-based boutique agency that specializes in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands, has discovered the reason: “We’re finding many [clients] are going through their bucket lists and, because of that, we get to create a holiday that matches their wants as well as their needs.” Starting with a free 40-minute consultation (via phone or Skype), Hall’s team designs your itinerary, does all the booking, co-ordinates visitor visas and advises on everything from packing to navigating customs. And although you’re far from home, you’re not alone: the company provides 24-hour emergency associate offices in each country. What’s most important, says Hall, is providing clients “something special, only for them.”  877-328-3798, gowalkabouttravel.com  —TL

GO CREOLE

starwood_HR-DSC_3995_final_Photos-by-Vincent-Chih-Chieh-ChinThe city of New Orleans has long been known for its revelry and its jazz. But in recent years, it has been showing a culinary prowess more associated with the sophistication of New York and Chicago. At the newly renovated W New Orleans French Quarter, the restaurant SoBou (for south of Bourbon Street) has made its debut. The dining space defies definition – a “modern saloon” that’s an amalgam of resto, bar, jazz speakeasy and industrial vintage. Art installations act as lighting, and it all seems an homage to the musical era of which this town just can’t get enough.

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The food is focused on its Creole roots, with a healthy dose of reimagined Louisiana street food (think elevated gumbos and po’ boys) while the mixology (that’s bartender-speak for cooking up cocktails) is inspired by an apothecary approach to concocting recipes for tipples such as the Faubourg Tall Boy (Earl Grey tea infused gin, crème de cassis, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and topped with prosecco). Satchmo would be proud. 310 Chartres St., www.sobounola.com; www.starwoodhotels.com  —Vivian Vassos