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If you’re looking to take an exotic vacation this season, we’ve got deals for you from all over the world; from Africa to Europe to the Caribbean islands. Stray outside of your comfort zone and take the journey you’ve always dreamed of; with these fantastic deals, you’ve got few excuses not to. Read more
They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year, March has come in like a lion and gone out like some kind of lion-velociraptor hybrid. With a bunch of late-season storms walloping parts of the U.S. and others shivering through an extended cold spell, it’s easy to forget that spring has officially arrived. While you’re waiting for the weather to catch up with the season, close out March in Africa, where more manageable climates, majestic beasts, arid deserts, and stunning architecture await those with an adventurous spirit.
Booking a summer vacation is so satisfying. Even more satisfying? Saving hundreds of dollars on it. Our deals experts have been scouring the internet in search of the hottest summer deals to help you save. Here’s what they came up with, from an incredible suite in Vegas to a cool Bahamas getaway to a 5-star Spain package. For even more deals, check out our weekly Top 25.
Every self-respecting adventurer must do an African safari at least once. While it is a quintessential travel experience, it’s also pretty tough on the body and the mind. So, if you’re wrapping up a safari in Kenya, we recommend you tack on a few days on gorgeous Lamu archipelago in the Indian Ocean – a perfect antidote to the thrill-packed bush experience.
Once a major player on the Arabian trade routes, the islands of Lamu have turned into an off-the-radar travel destination and a secret celebrity hideout. It’s quite common to see Hollywood stars and random royalty wandering around Lamu Town, East Africa’s oldest and best preserved “living” Swahili settlement, protected as a World Heritage Site. Many of the rich and famous own homes in nearby Shela village, a prime locale for those who prefer not to be found.
Thanks to two recently opened luxury beach hotels, mere mortals can also have their share of this island paradise with its signature mix of African and Arab flair.
AKA Central Park, New York: The New York skyline is already exciting enough, but it goes to new levels at AKA, which bills itself as the first outdoor bedroom in Manhattan. The Central Park penthouse has a wraparound terrace with its queen-sized bed fronting a wood-burning fireplace during chilly late-summer nights (it’s available through October 31st, weather permitting). Music via iPod or Bose, a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne and midnight snacks like s’mores from Maison du Chocolate are served for one heck of a romantic night. Package is $3,000 a night. Reservations via 866-AKA-9999
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos, Mexico: The resort’s Director of Romance came up with the idea of taking king-size beds and putting them atop the wide-open, but private rooftop terrace and penthouse suites. They’ve become the place to watch the stars, the sparkling Sea of Cortez, and the waves via the provided telescope. These rooms already have a Jacuzzi and a Kiva fireplace which only adds to the ambience, so you may find yourself sneaking downstairs. But in the morning, use the provided coffee maker to brew a pot of java and then watch the humpback whales as they frolic just off the coast. Suite rates begin at $855 plus a $100 fee (plus tax and service charge) for first-night outdoor bedroom set up; $50 plus tax and service each additional night. www.lasventanas.com.
Soar above the savannah in a hot air balloon in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve during a stay at Olarro, a seven-cottage (plus one suite) luxury lodge. The journey starts at sunrise with a helicopter ride from Olarro to the reserve. Next, you’ll board the balloon for an hour-long flight ascending up to 12,500 feet – with stunning aerial views of lions, zebras, wildebeest, and more. After the tour, indulge in a Champagne breakfast back on the ground before boarding the helicopter to return to the lodge. The price is $700 per person, for a minimum of six people. www.olarrokenya.com
For general trip-planning information, see our Kenya Travel Guide.
The Luxury The seven-night Ultimate Luxury Kenya Experience starts in Nairobi at the boutique hotel House of Waine. Travelers will then spend three nights at the tiny Saruni Samburu lodge set in a private wildlife conservancy harboring elephants, giraffes, zebras, and oryx. Finally, guests stay three nights at Saruni Mara, a six-cottage complex in a private park adjoining the Masai Mara National Reserve, where leopards, elephants, and impalas roam.
The Value Extraordinary Journeys is offering a 10 percent discount on this safari package for readers, as well as the exclusive use of a vehicle each day, a massage for two, and a guided forest walk. The cost per person is $700/night from January 3 through March 15 and October 1 through December 15. For travelers willing to brave the rainy season, the cost is $564/night from March 16 through May 31.
The Catch International airfare to Kenya, which is not included, runs about $1,000 round-trip from New York.
The Details 212-246-7650 (mention Smart Luxury Travel); ejafrica.com
From the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.
For general trip-planning information, see our Kenya Travel Guide.
It’s awards season in Hollywood, and in the travel industry, it’s apparently contest season. At least, that’s what the flurry of e-mails in my inbox seems to indicate, with several excellent opportunities that are targeting adventurous travelers. There are fantastic prizes up for grabs – a Kenyan safari, anyone? – and no purchase necessary for any of them. Here are my top picks.
Travel Photo Contest Awards a $9,000 Kenyan Safari: Those stunning snaps you took on your most recent trip could win you all kinds of good stuff, thanks to a newly announced travel photography contest by award-winning travel site and outfitter iExplore. The top prize is a two-person Kenyan safari (photo at left courtesy of Flickr/Henry Scott), valued at $9,000. The six-night trip includes game drives and stays at luxurious lodges and tent camps. Prizes are also offered for runners-up and all finalists, as well as 50 “Judge’s Favorites.”
The process to apply is fairly straightforward: Just register, upload your photo (you can register one per e-mail address), and spread the word to get votes. Winners are selected by popular vote and via judging by a panel of travel writers and photographers. The contest runs through April 22; register here.
The Luxury: Located on a private concession in southwestern Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp lies in the path of summer’s Great Migration, when vast herds of wildebeests and zebras cross the plains. The 40 canvas tents provide en suite bathrooms, stone showers, flagstone floors, and private verandas, some with views of the vast plains or the Sabaringo River. The Value: Stay four nights and score a free flight from Nairobi to Kichwa Tembo’s private airstrip (about a 60-minute ride)—for a savings of about $300 per person. Rates of $375/night per person apply to travel through December 15 if booked before September 1. This includes meals and two daily game drives. The Catch: Half of the fee must be furnished within 14 days of a confirmed reservation. It is nonrefundable. The Details: 011-27-11-809-4300, andbeyondafrica.com (Fly Me to the Mara package).
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