At Zoomer, we believe in the deeper meaning of travel. So why is just important as where to go next. Here’s our list of places that will fortify your body, feed your mind and fuel your spirit, curated by executive editor and travel industry expert Vivian Vassos, who encourages you to just go.
1. BECAUSE MANITOBA IS SO COLD IT’S COOL
Not that you have to tell us, but leading travel authority Lonely Planet has recognized it as a hot spot for 2019. We suggest visiting Churchill, called Polar Bear Town and considered one of the best places on Earth to view the northern lights (left). Head to the capital, Winnipeg, and check out the Forks neighbourhood (theforks.com). Also, visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights designed by architect Antoine Predock who said the building was “… rooted in humanity, making visible in the architecture the fundamental commonality of humankind – a symbolic apparition of ice, clouds and stone set in a field of sweet grass.” –VV
2. BECAUSE VOLCANIC FURY CAN BE HARNESSED
São Miguel is the largest island of the archipelago that makes up the Azores, about 1,500 kilometres off the coast of Portugal. And it turns out São Miguel is volcanic. On certain parts of the island, faint plumes of smoke rise above the horizon and indicate hydrothermal vents, a boon for those wishing to take the waters.
Visit the hot-spring-rich town of Furnas, where hotels are built to take advantage of the therapeutic springs. Down the way, the Terra Nostra Park has been a destination since the late 1700s and is accessed through the lobby of a modern hotel of the same name. It’s a valley, part of a volcanic crater that is dormant and its khaki-green pool is also a public thermal baths facility. The iron-rich waters, a balmy 35 C all year round, have been credited with the treatment of everything from rheumatism to obesity. –VV
If drone footage of the recent eruptions from Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano did only so much as to whet your appetite, a “volcano safari” via helicopter over the state’s southernmost Big Island may satisfy. And if you’re more a film rather than a lava buff, taking a helicopter tour of Kauai – Hawaii’s northernmost and oldest island – will include a bit of déjà vu as you fly over majestic Manawaiopuna Falls, made famous in the opening scene of Jurassic Park. –Tara Losinski
Bali, known for its forested volcanic mountains, as much as its laid-back surfer vibe, boasts a St. Regis Bali resort in Nusa Dua in the south. Traditional fire dancers herald the sunset with their own magic light show. The resort has a private saltwater lagoon, stretches of less-travelled beach and is only a stroll away from the Pura Geger Hindu Temple. –VV
3. BECAUSE QUEEN VICTORIA WOULD BE 200 IN 2019…
The Wightlink Catamaran, the fast ferry to the Isle of Wight where Queen Victoria spent the last years of her life, waits at the dock of Portmouth harbour.
Once there, embark on Victoria’s Island Trail. It was misty, moody spring weather when I was there, rain-filled clouds and beaming sun battling it out for a spot in the sky. There was a break in the drizzle just in time for a stop at The Needles, a row of chalk-white peaks poking out of the cold, crashing waters of Alum Bay. Nearby Carisbrooke Castle may have been the royal prison of Charles I during the civil war of the mid-1600s – and ominous and imposing it still is – but it was also, in the last century, the home of Princess Beatrice, the Queen’s daughter. Beatrice was also governor of the isle as of 1896 and, before moving into Carisbrooke in 1912, she lived with her mother at Osborne House, also on the island.
If that sounds familiar, you may recognize the name of the house from the film, Victoria and Abdul, starring Judy Dench in the titular role, which prominently featured the locations of Isle of Wight and Osborne House, a veritable treasure trove of art and artifacts – from paintings to sculptures to weapons that Victoria’s beloved Albert avidly collected from all over the world.
But as in the film, the true highlight was having my own breathless reveal of the Durbar Room, inspired by the yarns Abdul told his monarch about the faraway lands of India, where she had never been although she was the Empress of India. Then, I round the corner and go through the door. Peacocks preside over the space, which is white on white on white. Exquisite crown mouldings fuse wall and ceiling with intricate bas-relief carving. Other winged creatures cling to the rosettes decorating the ceiling like dripping delicate lace. The sensuous curves of an arched balcony. And then, the dark copper-toned details, the only colour aside from the massive Oriental rug that covers the floor. It almost defies description. But as the Queen herself once wrote about Osborne House, “It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot.” —VV
4. BECAUSE YOU LIKE SPOILING A GOOD WALK
May we suggest in Scotland, the birthplace of golf, where Mr. Woods won two of his three Open Championships? Add a sleepover at Fairmont St Andrews, just a tee-off away from the storied course of the same name, and you’ve scored an eagle. —VV
5. BECAUSE HIKING IS THE NEW YOGA
Switzerland has a sophisticated network of trails that are suited for all fitness levels. Check out the country’s hiking huts, where you can, yes, hike hut to hut and find fully stocked rest stops with an all-ages hostel vibe where you can have a sleepover, too. —VV
6. BECAUSE WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS … AND THE REST OF FRANCE, TOO
We suggest actually going but, for you armchair travellers, dive into these books with a certain je ne sais quoi.
Start with Rupert Christiansen’s City of Light: The Making of Modern Paris, a story of the city’s transformation from medieval shabby to enchanting epicentre. Then, indulge with A Drinkable Feast: A Cocktail Companion to 1920s Paris by Philip Greene, a history of the American writers who came of age in 1920s Paris and about the libations that fuelled them.
On the outskirts of Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a sprawling monument to the extravagance of the French monarchy. And while revolution forced King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, to high-tail it out of there, the palace welcomed author Guillaume Picon and photographer Francis Hammond to capture its lavish decor, lush gardens and breathtaking rooms— including areas and artifacts off-limits to the public—for Versailles: A Private Invitation.
Then, head farther south with Canadian artist and designer Virginia Johnson, who employs both prose and paint for her Travels Through the French Riviera, a watercolour exploration of the people and places that make up the storied Côte d’Azur.
Or pull back and take in all of the sights and flavours of Provence with the late Peter Mayle, the celebrated British author known for A Year in Provence, through his final ode to his adopted home, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now. —Mike Crisolago
7. BECAUSE OF AFFORDABLE LUXURY
Think South Africa, where our lamentable loonie buys about 11 South African rand. Take, for example, the Chef’s Table at the stunning garden-set Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, affectionately known by the locals as the Pink Palace: a six-course tasting menu with local wine pairings at lunch will run you the equivalent of about C$84. —VV www.belmond.com/MountNelson
8. BECAUSE NO MAN IS AN ISLAND … BUT EVERYONE NEEDS AN ISLAND
Visit Malta for the festivals. Its capital, Valletta, was designated a European Capital of Culture. The city is set like a fortress within which ancient gardens and open-air piazzas overlook the Mediterranean. The Baroque Music festival takes place in January, while in November, the Three Palaces Festival is set in, yes, three presidential palaces, where you can take in classical, modern and jazz tunes.
Try the Maldives for the not one but two made-in-Canada Four Seasons resorts that, through the company’s Baa Atoll Youth project, work with local environment consultants to provide sustainable tourism practices and activities committed to preserving the delicate ecosystem. —VV
9. BECAUSE YOUR IDEA OF ADVENTURE INCLUDES FOOD AND WINE
In South Australia, you can swim with the seal lions in the Eyre Peninsula, go walkabout on the Murray River Walk and into the Outback, spot kangaroos and hug koalas. You can also eat oysters straight from the sea to your plate, sip robust Barossa Valley reds, and hang out in the country’s new capital of cool, Adelaide. And not far from this touchpoint is a quirky ode to wine. In the McLaren Vale, about 40 minutes drive south of the city, you’ll find d’Arenberg winery. Aside from the Osborn family’s more than 100 years of winemaking, it’s also home to the d’Arenberg Cube, an architectural gem that’s like a five-storey unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Start the puzzle from the ground up in the hippy-dippy Alternate Realities museum. By the time you reach the top, the fantasy gives way to the very real and much-lauded restaurant with gorgeous views of the Vale, the Willunga Hills and the St. Vincent Gulf. Be on the lookout for the winery’s ultimate winemaker, Chester Osborn. You can’t miss him. With shoulder-length greyish-blond curls, this dandy’s as likely to be dressed as the Mad Hatter or Willy Wonka as he is to be sipping his latest vintage. —VV
For more on South Australia, go to www.everythingzoomer.com/south-australia.
10. BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS A GOOD TIME TO CELEBRATE A MILESTONE
New Orleans and San Antonio both had 300-year birthdays this year. Although the party’s almost over, the iconic spots never really get old. In NOLA, visit the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Creole queen of voodoo, in one of the country’s oldest cemeteries; and in San Antonio, don’t forget the Alamo, where Davy Crockett and his men made their last stand. —VV
11. BECAUSE YOU SAW CRAZY RICH ASIANS
… and fell in love with Singapore. But it’s more than just lavish homes, efficient rapid transit and delicious street food. Nicknamed City in a Garden, from urban parks to the Singapore Botanical Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), it’s an ideal place for a green respite. —TL
12. BECAUSE TEQUILA IS HAVING A MOMENT
The Baja Peninsula, below California, is separated from the mainland of Mexico by the Gulf of California. Its climate is arid and desert-like, dissimilar to the more tropical and sometimes cloyingly humid leanings of the rest of the country.
At its fingertip is Los Cabos, an area that is home to the cities of
artist-expat community San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Yes, that Cabo San Lucas, the long-time party playground of Californians looking for a weekend getaway.
Today, I’m soaking up my day’s worth of vitamin D at One&Only Palmilla, where I’m gladly being led up the garden path through colourful bird of paradise plants, sidling up to needle-laced cactus, under palm trees of all shapes and heights swaying over spiky blue agave with leaves as long as my arm.
And it is this blue agave that has me. Aztec legend tells that the plant first sprung from the site where Quetzalcoatl buried the remains of his beloved, Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility. She also just happened to be the granddaughter of Tzintzimitl, the evil goddess who devoured light. When Tzintzimitl discovered that Quetzalcoatl had run away with Mayahuel, she hunted them down and Mayahuel was killed in the battle. Quetzalcoatl, in his grief, retaliated and destroyed the goddess. The light returned, and with it the blue agave, with those spiky arm-length leaves that reach up to sun and sky. When he would visit the site, Quetzalcoatl would drink the agave elixir from the plant as remembrance and as a comfort in his grief.
That elixir, as you may have guessed, is tequila, and tequila tasting is a special event at this resort. I’m taken on a journey of blanco (white, freshly distilled without aging), reposado (aged two months to one year), añejo (aged one to three years) and extra añejo (aged longer than three years) to get a true sense of this made-in-Mexico spirit. No shooters, salt or limes here. It’s all about the sip. —VV
13. BECAUSE OF OL’ MAN RIVER
Make like Mark Twain and travel the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans on an old-fashioned steamboat that’s been upgraded to today. Or check out Avalon Waterways’ new ship that explores the Mekong from Cambodia to Vietnam. And there’s always the Danube but sailing through the Eastern Bloc from Budapest to Bucharest gives a fresh perspective. —VV
14. BECAUSE WE REMEMBER …
Several places in The Netherlands bear the traces of important events from the Second World War. Zeeland has several monuments commemorating the Battle of the Scheldt, while Gelderland has several important battle sites. —Arlene Stacey
15. BECAUSE YOU LIKE A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Meliá Hotels & Resorts, with many fun-in-the-sun locations in the Caribbean and Europe, has partnered with a wellness expert for the new Sleep Haven program with a Sleep Haven suite at the company’s Madrid Serrano outpost.
Corinthia Hotels’ London property features a rotating “in-residence” program that included a neuroscientist who inspired the hotel to design rooms that will induce a better quality, more restful sleep. That, in turn, leads to a range of mindful treatments at the hotel’s ESPA, such as the Sleep Ritual, created to nourish the body and the brain.
16. BECAUSE GOING SOUTH MEANS YOU WANT TO FLY FURTHER AFIELD
Colombia Check out towns like Salento in the coffee region, Guatape, a lakeside village in Antioquia, or charming Minca, a mountain village in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.
Belize Along with the beaches and jungles, you can explore ancient Mayan cities hacked out of the jungle more than 2,000 years ago. Divers will want to explore the Hol Chan Marine Reserve with its mangroves, colourful reef, undulating sea-grass beds and recently added Shark Ray Alley.
Peru Check out Cabo Blanco, a surfing and fishing village on the Peruvian coast where Ernest Hemingway caught a 300-kilogram marlin during the filming of The Old Man and the Sea. Yes, do visit Machu Picchu and the astonishing Sacred Valley, but some of Peru’s old cities, like Trujillo, have a remarkably preserved colonial charm and ambience and a year-round spring-like climate.
And … Ecuador has it all: beaches, rainforests, mountains and a UNESCO World Heritage city in the capital of Quito, with its magnificent blend of Moorish, European and indigenous architectural styles. It’s also affordable. —Ian MacNeill
17. BECAUSE PINK IS THE NAVY BLUE OF INDIA
Journey through the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan, where maharajahs built lavish palaces towering over desert cities. Along with the Taj Mahal at sunrise, one of your stops should be the storied Gem Palace in the pink city of Jaipur. Six generations after the Kasliwal family was appointed the court jewellers in 1700 by the Maharaja of Jaipur, the family is still intimately involved in the creation of heirloom jewelry at its flagship Gem Palace, opened in 1852. —AS
18. BECAUSE YOU STILL LOVE LUCY
Laugh out loud at the brand new National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y., the hometown of Lucille Ball. There are more laugh-out-loud moments at the city’s Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum, dedicated to the first couple of comedy. —VV
19. AND BECAUSE OF ANTHONY BOURDAIN
The late, great, intrepid chef and cultural searcher taught us the simplest meals in their authentic places of origin are often the best.
If you visit Vietnam, we suggest refuelling on banh xeo, a.k.a. sizzling cakes— crispy crepes crammed with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts.
Or keep it even simpler: Bourdain famously dined with President Barack Obama in Hanoi in 2016 for his CNN series Parts Unknown, total cost $6.
“‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer,’” Obama tweeted after Bourdain’s death. “That’s how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food—but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.” —AS