Posts tagged with "vacation"

KEY WEST FESTIVAL

Key West Festival to Tempt Appetites for Food, Wine, History and Fun
 
Creative cuisine, premium wines and unique events in a subtropical island setting await attendees Wednesday through Sunday, Jan. 23-27, at the 2019 Key West Food & Wine Festival. The 10th annual festival celebrates Key West’s rich culinary culture and historic sites. 
 
Scheduled events showcase local chefs’ artistry, indigenous Florida Keys ingredients, fine wines from around the world and intriguing food-related adventures. 
 
The festival officially begins with the Conch Kick-off Party at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, saluting the unique food culture of Key West — whose native residents proudly call themselves “conchs” after the mollusk used in many island dishes. Seafood and Cuban-influenced treats by Chef David Fuhrman of Great Events Catering, fine wines andentertainment by The Fabulous Spectrelles characterize the gala in the garden of Key West’s Oldest House Museum, 322 Duval St. 
 
“Entree” highlights Jan. 24 include exclusive tasting strolls in Key West’s Bahama Village and Mallory Square neighborhoods, a class revealing how to make the Florida Keys’ signature Key lime pie, and a savory grilled cheese and beer tasting. 
 
Friday’s schedule stars the “Sunset on the Ingham” Grand Tasting aboard the historic U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Samuel D. Ingham, launched in 1936 and now a military museum moored at Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park. Attendees can enjoy notable vintages, island-inspired light bites from Small Chef at Large Catering, entertainment by jazz singer Libby York and a chance to enjoy Key West’s world-renowned sunset from the deck of the venerable vessel. 
 
Festival attendees can find a mile of temptations Saturday, Jan. 26, at Old Town Uncorked X 10, a sipping and shopping stroll down Key West’s renowned Duval Street. Attractions at the 2-5 p.m. event include “intoxicating” forays into galleries and boutiques. 
 
Saturday evening, a paella cook-off is to take place at the Truman Little White House, 111 Front St., where former President Harry Truman spent nearly six months while in office. The annual event supports the preservation of the property — now Florida’s only presidential museum — and includes unlimited wine tasting, cigars and live music. 
 
The festival also features an interactive blind tasting event focusing on Key West’s culinary culture and history. Staged at a secret location by event designer Francesca DeFranchis, the guided sensory experience features a six-course tasting menu and nine wines.  
 
Other festival attractions include a tropical garden tour and tasting, the “Red Socks at Rock House” spectacular featuring Eduardo’s Table, a lavish shrimp feast in the Key West Historic Seaport and the “Brunch Bucket List” series.

BEST CITIES TO VISIT IN 2019

From cities that may be closer to home to exciting overseas destinations, these are some of the top places to visit in 2019.

Auckland, New Zealand

The vibrant capital city of New Zealand recently became one of just 31 cities that are part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network for music. This trending travel destination is home to many of the nation’s renowned artists and institutions. No matter when you visit you can expect to find fabulous live tunes and there’s likely to be a music festival or special event to enjoy too. Visitors can also look forward to the famous panoramic vistas from the iconic Sky Tower and exploring countless museums like the Auckland Art Gallery, the largest art institution in the country featuring more than 15,000 works of historic, modern and contemporary art.

Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City has been popping up on lists of top travel destinations everywhere in recent years, and for good reason. It’s one of America’s top foodie cities, with high quality dishes served at all price points from deep dish pizza to hot dogs and fine dining at the two Michelin-starred Acadia. Chicago is also home to one of the world’s greatest museums, the Art Institute of Chicago and five pro sports teams: the MLB’s White Sox and Cubs, the NFL’s Bears, the NHL’s Blackhawks and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls making it easy to catch a game just about anytime of the year. There’s so much to do in this midwestern city you might just find yourself browsing through Chicago real estate looking for your next new home.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is a place everyone should visit at least once and 2019 may be one of the best times to check this Argentinian city off your travel bucket list. Airfares are lower than ever thanks to low-cost carriers and emerging airlines, and the dollar is incredible strong against the Argentinian peso too, making that famously tasty Malbec more affordable than ever. Look forward to walking through the delightful pedestrian areas and watching tango dances in the streets as you explore the wealth of wine bars, cafes and steakhouses.

Berlin, Germany

There are two important anniversaries in Berlin that will be marked in 2019, including the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the centenary of the Bauhaus, with its festival held from January 16 to January 24. Stroll through Berlin Mitte, the historical heart of the city. and you’ll be able to check out many of its top sites like the Brandenburg Gate, the iconic symbol of Berlin that symbolizes the reunification of the West and East. If you visit in September, the weather is not only likely to be ideal, but you can attend the Lollapalooza Berlin, hosted on September 8 and 9 in 2019. It’s sure to bring plenty of big-name artists – last year’s lineup included headliners like Imagine Dragons and Liam Gallagher. It also features an open-air art gallery, street theater, wine bars and a festival for kids.

Exploring Western Belize in 2019

Belize has been featured as the only Central American country on National Geographic’s Best Trips 2019 List. Quickly growing in popularity as one of the best tropical vacation destinations in the world, Belize is a blend of cultures and natural attractions and is a place that fully embraces its Central American and Caribbean roots, celebrates its diversity and takes great pride in its spectacular natural beauty. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel in Western Belize provides a perfect springboard for a vacation filled with adrenaline adventures, fine dining and opportunities to experience the infamous Maya Temples.

Adrenaline Adventures

Black Hole Drop: Begin with a 2 hour hike up the Maya Mountains over the rainforest canopy at Actun Loch Tunich, “The Monster of All Caves.” Become mesmerized by incredible aerial views of jungle rainforests, then step off the ledge of the cliff for a 300-foot high rappelling adventure ride where you will have amazing visuals of the Black Hole and luscious greens. This experience is not for the faint of heart.

Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave: This site has been featured on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and History Channel because of its mesmerizing giant shimmering flowstone formations, stalactites, and stalagmites widely present throughout this 3-mile long cave. ATM features burial chambers, Maya artifacts, intact calcified human remains, and slate stelaes that were used for burials. The cave itself is several miles long with multiple chambers. Once inside the cave you will spend several hours swimming, climbing, and exploring.

Fine Dining

Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant: Located at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant has a new Executive Chef, Enrique Awe whose culinary journey has brought him back to his hometown of San Ignacio after working for 16 years in the USA. The Restaurant showcases an international menu with the best of Belizean cuisine and features grass fed meats from the family’s own ranch where the restaurant got its name.

Trey’s Barn & Grill: Trey Roberson grills up the freshest cuisine in Western Belize and creates cocktails that pair well with his unique dishes. You can also find him at San Ignacio Resort Hotel for special cookouts on property with live music and libations.

Maya Temples

Caracol: Located on the western edge of the Maya Mountains within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol lies on a high plateau that drops into a deep valley to the northwest and rises into hilly terrain to the southwest. The site was discovered in 1938 by Rosa Mai, a logger looking for mahogany. Although one of the most challenging Belize ruins to reach, the trip to Caracol is also one of the most scenic drives. It is the largest known Maya center within the country and holds “Canaa” (Sky Place), the largest pyramid or man-made structure in Belize at 140 feet tall.

Cahal Pech: Located on a hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, excavations show that Cahal Pech was inhabited from 1000 B.C. to around 800 A.D. The central part of the ruins provides a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. Thirty-four structures, including temple pyramids, two ball courts, and an altar fill the 2 acre area.

Five of America’s largest airlines have nonstop flights to Belize from major cities across the country, making it easily accessible for US travelers.

FAIRFIELD, CALIFORNIA

✏️By Alexandria Baiz & Vaughn Lowery

Fairfield, California the San Francisco Bay city famous for its fruit and local wineries that provide grapes to the Napa and other surrounding vineyards.

Welcome reception at the glorious Jelly Belly Candy Company, includes a self guided factory tour by the  staff. The marvelous Company is a family-owned business based in Fairfield with another factory in North Chicago. The Goelitz family started a confectionery business in Illinois in 1869, than a Candy Business in 1924 in California. Later the Candy Company would  expand a product line to include jelly beans. In 1965, the Mini Jelly Bean was developed. This was a small bean with a center of natural flavoring, different from traditional jelly beans in which only the outer shell was flavored. The company would become the infamous Jelly Belly Candy Company, with more than 50 varieties of flavors. Flavors traditional as cherry, exotic as buttered popcorn, and even inspired alcoholic drink flavors like blackberry brandy. Ronald Reagan while governor of California would quit smoking and turn to jelly beans as a substitute. The company also makes 100 different confections like gummies, candy corn, and chocolates. The tour is fun for the kids, but just as fun for the adults. This tour takes you through the process of making jelly beans, some stages include a video monitor explanation, while wearing a mandatory Jelly Belly paper hat. And, yes you get a free pack of Jelly Belly Beans at the end. There is also a  shop where you can purchase and a Chocolate Shoppe with a fudge bar available for tastings. The ground floor cafeteria is great for lunch with Jelly Bean shaped pizzas being a favorite. For adults, upstairs is a wine tasting room with six different Suisan or green Valley Wines to match the six different chocolates made by the Chocolate Shoppe.

Mankas Steakhouse, a full American steakhouse menu with a local California flavor was our dine for the night. Chef Peter at Mankas uses favorite Suisun Valley products. The local product in Wooden Valley Winery was our first visit the next day at 7am for a visit to watch wine harvest in process. The Suisun Valley and Solano Country American Viticultural Area(AVA) -which is a wine-grape growing region-includes more than 50 sub-appellations of the best known wines region. The Suisun Valley about 8 miles long and 3 miles wide, between the Blue Ridge of the Vaca Mountains on the east. One fifth of the valley is planted as a vineyard with more than 20 varieties of grapes, established in 1982. The Green Valley just west of Suisun Valley is 4 miles long and a mile wide. Also called the Solano County/ Green Valley, AVA was established in 1983.

For breakfast a visit to  Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company dedicated to growing and milling the “finest artisan olive oil” produced by owners Ann and Mark Sievers. Ann and her husband began with a harvest of 6 pounds of olives and 170 baby trees they planted in Green Valley. This turned  into more than 2000 trees in Green Valley and Suisun Valley. The Suisan groves have 12 single varietals from Italy, Spain, France, and Greece, with blends as well.  Il Fiorello offers in depth tours of their property, that concludes in an olive oil tasting and 13 balsamic vinegar reductions. Oil tastings are paired with seasonal bites of food including the classic Frantoio oil with steak.There are even cooking classes within the Fiorello’s Kitchen.  

A visit to the GV Cellars is just what we need for a glimpse into a simpler time. The tasting area on the second floor consist of a deck view of the vineyards and Vaca Mountains. The original property was an 80-acre fruit orchard which was replaced with grapes to produce wine under “Chateau de Leu”. In 2005, Bob Hager the current owner would acquire the winery and vineyards. Today, the Cellar grows within a 30-acre vineyard six distinct varietals:Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. The Dolcetto and Cabernet Franc are a house favorite.

Greeted by the  owner and winemaker Sal Glavan at his Galvan Family Cellars to taste his wines. Sal Glavan has been making wine in California since the 1990’s including a time working for GV Cellars. Galvan usually has a  focus on crafting from the Green Valley and Solano County vineyards, but also ‘high end’ wines from the Napa County vineyards. Producing about 3,500 cases a year depending upon the grapes available wines are exceptional with the signature Bordeaux-style blends or Cabernet Sauvignon-base. The cellars also hold the tasting room for rock Wren Winery, owner Dennis De Domenico has produced Green Valley grape wines since 2005. He is known for making his Frenchs style Syrah “in the classic French style”.

The Suisun Valley Co-op is a perfect tasting room that is cozy  but not crowded. Blacksmith Cellars, King Andrews Vineyards, and Sunset Cellars distribute their wine here. Matt Smith the owner and winemaker of Blacksmith Cellars started in 2003, with his release of his 2001 Alexander valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Smith starting as a chemist working in the lab at Beaulieu Vineyards in 1996. From that point he would work at various winecellars making a variety of familiar Suisun Valley wines. King Andrews is owned by Roger who is also the winemaker and Carol (Andrews) King. Sunset Cellars was established by Doug and Katsuko Sparks in 1977. Their speciality includes making small batches of  high quality red wines. There are many interesting wines to try like the Blacksmith Rose and Sunset Suisun Valley Charbono Sunset.

The Pacific Flyway, where more than a billion of birds follow the 10,000 mile stretch from South America to the Arctic on their annual migration, makes a stop in Fairfield. Suisun Marsh is one one of the significant stopover points where the birds rest, feed, and restore their energy for continuing on. The Pacific Flyway Center is an educational and conservation initiative. With goals to educate public about the Flyaway and restoring wetlands to keep the flyaway viable.

A drive to the Grizzly Waters Kayak in Suisun City, where we meet the owner James Berg and get set for kayaking Suisun Marsh. Suisun Marsh is part of the Bay Area Water Trail where you can go on trails and see local and migrating birds.

With greetings from Jennivive Soriano the supervisor of brewery experiences we explore the Anheuser-Busch Fairfield brewery. Opened in 1976, the Fairfield Brewery is the ‘greenest’ of the company’s breweries, which derives a third of its power from solar and wind energy. Brewery tours include  an hour of the Anheuser-Busch story and how their beers are produced. We took the tour of the brewery that includes the Flights of Fairfield. Fairfield is home to one of the Budweiser plants a famous attraction. The brewery is home to the one of a kind Budweiser Clydesdale (Horse) race events, tickets available online.

The Heretic Brewery Company  known for their inner heretic beers that push the boundaries of beer flavors. Owners Liz and Jamil Zainasheff started as homebrewers and in 2012 would open the Heretic Brewing Company. With a variety of 18 different beers on their menu they also have a bar menu of burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers.

The Vezér is a Suisun Valley winery, owned by Frank and Liz Vezér. The Vezérs came to Fairfield  more than 20 years ago and purchased 30 acres for vineyards, which has now spread to 60 acres. Originally selling  their grapes to other wineries but in 2001 established their own label. The family vineyards produce estate wines like their flagship, La Salette a blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. There are two tasting rooms one on Mankas Corner Road and the other on Suisun Valley Road.

A visit to the Cal-Yee Farm Shop whom specializes in dried fruits and nuts. Founder Yee chew Yong fled from China to work as a laborer in California. In 1908, he rented 20 acres of farmland on Clayton Road where his son would purchase the land and his son would start the family’s dried fruit business.

The Wooden Valley winery started in 1933 after prohibition by Salvador and Manuel Brea.In 1944,  Mario Lanza would partner with Manuel and eventually become the sole owner. Third generation of Lanzas, four brothers manage the Winery today. This winery is the oldest in the Suisun Valley with a large variety of red and white wines. The Lanza wines have the authenticity of traditional Italian family wines.

Dinner at Favela’s Fusion an upscale Mexican tequileria. The menu includes signature dishes representing the flavors of different regions in Mexico. The owner  Veronica Favela-Diaz’s parents immigrated from Mexico and she grew up in Northern California. She and her father opened three restaurants in the 90’s emphasizing  affordable quality Mexican food. After Veronica and Husband Edgar traveled all over Mexico learning about the different regions foods they came up with Favelas Fusion. This fusion offers a combination of traditional authentic Mexican cuisine. The Fusion applies a mix of Mexico to obtain one of a kind dishes that are beautifully displayed like the Shrimp Fajitas burrito with cilantro infused with rice and black beans in a tomato tortilla.

A trip to the Mangels Family Vineyards to meet owner Gary Mangels and winemaker Gina Oberti. Gary Mangels is a fourth generation of a  California farming and ranching family. His great grandfather bought 240 acres of land in 1876 and the family has grown grapes, made and sold wine, and raised livestock since. In 1943, surviving through prohibition the family sold the winery operation, but maintained the vineyards. Eventually the family would purchase Suisun Valley land and partner with Gina Richmond to found the Mangels Vineyards. Gina makes a variety of red and white wines including, Pinot Grigio and Syrah.

Backroad owners Jeff and Judy Anselmo greet us inside the tasting room in  the kitchen of the house. Their wines are relatively young and maturting. As they find their style the plans for construction of the multimillion dollar tasting room will be completed in 2019. Backroad will be a neighbor to The Wagner family of wines -owner of famous Caymus Winery- new tasting room on Suisun Valley Road.  It will open in late 2018 with hopes to specialize in ‘grand durif’ and become the trademark wine for Suisun Valley.

Dinner at Chez Soul in downtown Fairfield a Louisiana style restaurant. With every Southern comfort food you can think of from Gumbo to Southern Fried chicken. “Beneath the heart is soul. The soul needs food.”. The owner Cheryl Reed runs the restaurant with her family her brother is the manager and her daughter is the cook. Cheryl’s vision for Chez Soul is good food in a welcoming place that feels like home.

LUCKY ONEZ OLIVE HOODIE

Stay Warm In Absolute Style With The Lucky Onez Olive Green Hoodie

Model: @jaygotsoul89

Photographer: @rossthephotoboss

Website: www.theluckyonez.com

Instagram: @theluckyonez7777
Email: theluckyones7777@gmail.com

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The Lucky Onez Olive Green Hoodie is a very stylish and unique hoodie to wear, especially when it is a bit cold outside. This hoodie is extremely comfortable and individuals can actually feel the comfort of the cotton throughout the entire garment. Penned on the left sleeve is the biblical verse of 2 Corinthians 5:7 stating, “Walk by faith, not by sight.” This verse brings motivation and determination that with God and not giving up anyone is able to live their dreams and receive the unexpected. The Lucky Onez Olive Green hoodie is comfortable, fashionable and has a great deal of meaning to it as well.

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Njomza Announces Signing To SinceThe80s/Motown Records

Chicago chameleon, Njomza, has announced her signing to SinceThe80s/Motown Records. The singer/songwriter celebrates the news with a brand new music video for single “Lonely Nights” which comes off her sophomore EP, VACATION, out today via Motown Records. The haunting visuals showcases Njomza’s pension for vibey R&B that compliments her syrupy vocals which coats the track throughout. The video, which first premiered via Billboard, can be seen HERE.

Speaking about the visuals, which was directed by Chad Tennies (Migos, 2 Chainz, Future), Njomza had this to say: “I had a vision for the “Lonely Nights” video and Chad helped amplify that vision. I was playing with the concept of “vacation” and how a vacation can be anywhere or anything. I can take vacation in my mind all from the comfort of my couch. The video really introduces that concept, which is a theme throughout the EP. It’s the beginning of the visual story.”

Njomza gained notoriety after Mac Miller caught one of her uploaded covers, promptly signing her to his Remember Music label. Settling in Los Angeles, she cameoed on “Planet God Damn” from Miller’s acclaimed 2016 offering, The Divine Feminine. Thereafter, 2017 saw Njomza unveil her acclaimed debut EP, Sad For You, which received early praise from the likes of Noisey, Complex, Pigeons & Planes, Office Magazine, and more. Now with a new label and a vigor to create new music, Njomza kicks off her continued rise with all new perspective.

Suisun Valley, Fairfield

Story by Susan Hiland provided by Daily Republic

Suisun Valley greeted a group of out-of-town travel writers with a bounty of beauty, food and wine over the weekend.

They toured just about every winery, olive oil factory, candy-making company and barley brew-maker in the area.

This was the result of the Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau reaching out to Geiger & Associates, which has put together these travel tours for several communities including Lodi.

“This is the first time we have done something like this,” said Anand Patel, president/CEO of Visit Fairfield. “The goal was to get people thinking about Fairfield and Suisun Valley.”

He said he hoped that the travel writers would see the beauty of the valley and share that with their readers. The writers came from Portland, Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and even Quebec, Canada.

“We hope people read their articles and get interested in the valley,” he said.

The group of writers included Susan G. Hauser, Elyse Glickman, Vaughn Lowery, Wendy van Diver, Cortney Erndt, Carla Waldemar, Ruksana Hussain, Wendy Lemlin, Janet Boileau and Robin Raven.

The writers arrived Thursday and enjoyed an afternoon at Jelly Belly Candy Co., where they took the tour, sampled sweet treats and shopped.

“Every single stop we hope they learn something new,” Patel said.

Boileau, a writer and publisher for Taste and Travel International Magazine, which is a culinary publication with 20,000 subscribers across Canada, had no idea about Suisun Valley.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “But this is a very impressive part of the wine country.”

She was enjoying how relaxing the area was with some wine from Suisun Valley Wine Co-op along Pleasants Valley Road. The stop offered an opportunity for everyone to sample a variety of wines from the area in one place.

Lowery is the president of 360 Magazine, a lifestyle magazine that goes out to thousands of subscribers from Los Angeles to Japan.

“Anyone visiting here needs to stop at Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co.,” he said. “It was a sensory overload.”

They sampled a meal with each of the foods having been created using produce from the company’s garden.

“This is a great cross of Napa and Sonoma,” Lowery said. “It’s a place you can take time out and is very drivable.”

He said he was envisioning himself returning with a convertible, rolling the top down and just cruising through the back roads as a vacation.

“We tasted the grapes at Wooden Valley Winery. They were so sweet, I thought no way that was real,” he said.

“Fairfield is just a great town for a great road trip,” he said.

Grand Hotel Golf Resort x Spa

Autograph Collection Hotels, part of Marriott International, Inc., together with the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail today announced the rebranding of the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, an iconic Southern resort in Point Clear, Alabama. The Grand Hotel joins the brand’s diverse portfolio of more than 150 one-of-a-kind hotels that champion visionary owners, thoughtful design and craft.

First opened in 1847, the Grand Hotel has been known as the Queen of Southern Resorts for generations. The charming, 405-room resort is known for exceptional service, Southern charm, majestic oaks and beautiful sunsets over Mobile Bay. During the three-year renovation, the resort’s guest rooms, meeting space, restaurants, spa, golf, pier, pools and grounds were transformed.

Part of the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the Grand Hotel has been praised by group and leisure publications. “With this stunning transformation nearly complete, the historic Grand Hotel enters its next chapter with its Autograph Collection distinction,” said Tony Davis, president of the RTJ Resort Collection. “We are debuting a modern sanctuary of golf, tennis, beach, pools and spa filled with gracious Southern charm and attentiveness. Here, as it has for over 170 years, the Grand Life beckons with hospitality and warmth flowing through the resort in cheerful abundance,” said Davis. “With our Historic Hotels of America designation, the affiliation with the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Autograph Collection signature, the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa will appeal even more to group and leisure guests.

Owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa transformation was designed by Goodwyn Mills & Cawood and implemented by JESCO Construction, both Alabama companies. The Grand’s transformation blends the best of the resort’s Southern charm and traditions with the modern amenities and technology today’s guests demand. The resort’s iconic fireplace lobby, live oaks and Bucky’s Lounge remain while new cabanas, splash pad and restaurants were added. The design mix honors the Grand’s history, traditions and sense of place.

Designed as an all-in-one destination, the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa features a full-service spa, two RTJ Golf Trail courses, seven restaurants and lounges, two beaches, multiple pools and 37,000 square feet of renovated meeting space on 550 lush acres along Mobile Bay near Fairhope, Alabama. The Grand’s cannon firing each afternoon honors the resort’s history and salutes past and present military.

For more information, please visit www.grand1847.com or www.autographcollection.com.

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa is part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Resort Collection and is an active member of Historic Hotels of America.

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About Autograph Collection Hotels

With more than 150 independent, one-of-a-kind hotels in the world’s most desirable destinations, Autograph Collection Hotels is a diverse and dynamic portfolio that champion values of vision, design and craft. Exactly like nothing else, Autograph Collection Hotels are hand selected for their rich character and uncommon details each celebrating the founder’s passion, thoughtfulness of design, inherent craft and connection with the locale. For more information, please visit www.autographhotels.com, and explore our social media channels on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to learn more about championing the independent spirit that is #ExactlyLikeNothingElse.

AdventureSmith: Small Ship vs. Big Ship Cruising

AdventureSmith Explorations’ Todd Smith, founder and president, recalls when privately chartered yachts and fishing boats were the only way – aside from the traditional cruise ship – to take a vacation at sea.

In 2003, this company leapt into uncharted waters and began securing a legacy for today’s small ship cruise industry. Categorized by guest capacity, the experts at AdventureSmith Explorations have defined three vessel options to choose from: “adventure yachts” accommodating 8 to 40 guests, “expedition ships” for 41 to 200 passengers and “traditional cruise ships” for vessels with larger capacities above 200 passengers and reaching up to 5,000+. Each has its advantages and limitations.

“The number of passengers a ship carries relates directly to the experiences a client seeks,” Smith says. “Vacationers who prefer resorts over boutique hotels prefer large cruise ships. Those underwhelmed at the thought of embarking from mega-hub ports to dine and lodge on floating resorts with Las Vegas-style entertainment may prefer an adventure yacht or expedition ship.”

AdventureSmith Explorations capitalizes on another key difference between large and small vessels. The hull of a large ship precludes it from entering smaller ports of call and anchorages, thus curtailing off-the-beaten path cultural forays and up-close explorations of flora and fauna along remote shore lines that are the specialty of yachts and expedition ships. See: https://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/small-ship-vs-big-ship—what-is-the-difference

When fine-tuning a reservation, AdventureSmith Explorations’ staff focus on traveler preferences to recommend which small ship to choose. Some travelers may be most comfortable in the intimate, family environment of small adventure yachts, while those seeking more cabin space, private balconies or more varied activity options for their group may want to opt for an expedition ship. On all small ships, notes Smith, the focus of activities connected with smaller vessels exceeds expectations. Keen on adventure, passengers spend most daylight hours off the boat, kayaking, snorkeling and on guided Zodiac and land excursions.

When he started his company, Smith says he didn’t envision the dramatic growth in adventure tourism (predicted to grow nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2020) that would factor into the company’s success.

“Our small ships bring people to adventures in wild regions all over the globe. Imagine kayaking in front of massive glaciers and watching whales breach from a small Zodiac. Many of the places that our small ships visit can be logistically challenging, perhaps involving a long hike in or chartering a plane or simply cannot be reached in any other way (e.g. Antarctica). Small ships make access to these incredible locations not only possible but also provide a comfortable bed, hot shower and a nice glass of wine,” Smith promises.

Following are 9 Standouts in Small Ship Cruising that exemplify the fusion of small ships and adventure in not-to-be-missed destinations.

Adventure Yachts (8-40 passengers):

Safari Explorer 36-Guest – Luxury motor yacht divides its year between Hawaii in winter and Alaska in summer

– Galapagos Grace 18-Guest – The late Princess Grace of Monaco once owned this yacht that now sails in Galapagos waters

– Westward 8-Guest – Classic beauty that dates to 1924 sails Alaska and Baja

Delfin II 28-Guest – Deluxe riverboat designed for exploring the Peruvian Amazon

Origin 20-Guest – Sleek motor yacht built for sustainability in order to cruise the fragile Galapagos ecosystem

Ombak Putih 24-Guest – Romantic sailing vessel that explores Bali, among other Indonesian destinations

Expedition Ships (41-200 passengers):

Hebridean Sky 114-Guest – An expedition ship that hosts a Citizen Science Program on Antarctica explorations

Sea Cloud 58-Guest – The historic Marjorie Merriweather Post windjammer, a beauty of a sailing yacht for cruising the Greek Isles and Dalmatian Coast.

National Geographic Orion 102-Guest – A state-of-art expedition ship cruising Antarctica with National Geographic certified guides.

A Taste of South Africa

Short on vacation time but still have the tendency to get out and explore before the summer ends? Look no more!

Discover how a trip to sundrenched South Africa can be an exciting and fun-filled getaway over just a long weekend.

With an unparalleled combination of nature, culture AND an exciting adventure, South African Tourism highlights how you can explore the destination in just 72 hours. That’s right.

With direct flights from major cities in the US, a favorable exchange rate and affordable packages it’s never been easier to explore the beauty that South Africa has to offer you.

Here are just some of the most to-do attractions for any visitor planning a quick getaway to this captivating yet marvelous country:

  • Bunny Chow & Beaches. Durban and KwaZulu-Natal. Visitors looking to experience the natural beauty South Africa has to offer should head on over to the KwaZulu-Natal region. It has a wealth of scenic and cultural attractions, stunning hot beaches, and also offers a unique blend of African-Indian influences.
  • Durban. A coastal city with a laid-back lifestyle and a favorite amongst you sun-lovers, It has the most beautiful sandy beaches along The Golden Mile. Serving as a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
  • The Drakensberg region in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. A World Heritage Site that is only a two-hour drive from Durban, visitors will find a lush green countryside brimming with charming historic towns. Guests can catch a glimpse of The Big Five at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Reserve, which is one of the best places in the country to see the endangered rhinos along with other members of The Big Five.

History and Wine adventures:

  • Cape Town. Known as the Mother City, it is renowned for its scenic beauty, bustling downtown, and old charm makes it a favorite destination for international travelers. Table Mountain and Robben Island are two of the most famous landmarks and are important stops for any first timers.
  • Constantia Valley. Nestled beneath the Table Mountain National Park, this stunning region is home to eight award-winning wine estates and miles of lushes vineyards. The most perfect place to indulge in some of the country’s best wines.

Culture and Nature adventures:

  • Johannesburg. Known as South Africa’s booming urban playground, packed with cultural sites, shops, and boutiques, it is a trendy culinary scene and contains vibrant art galleries.
  • The Mandela House. Located in the township of Soweto, it can’t be missed. A guided tour of the home of the iconic former President Nelson Mandela and his family, it provides guests with an insight into his life during the apartheid era. The house continues to stand as an unwavering symbol for the right for human rights.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your suitcase and get packing!