19 Places to Seek Adventure Around the World

19 Places to Seek Adventure Around the World Montenegro

19 Places to Seek Adventure Around the World

February 10, 2020

Travel is an adventure in and of itself that can reduce stress, open our minds, and boost happiness and creativity. When we are exposed to new places and different cultures, our perspectives broaden. Even the act of planning a trip can help you learn new things and bring you joy by giving you something to look forward to.

Our team of Inspirato travel experts have hand-selected 19 exciting destinations for you to consider exploring this year. Dotted around the globe—from urban to off the beaten path—these trending locales are sure to offer inspiration and adventure.

Latin America & The Caribbean

Abaco, Bahamas. Abaco—a Bahamian isle surrounded by crystal-clear waters—is perfect for fishing enthusiasts. Bonefishing in the shallow flats offers a challenging thrill even for experienced anglers. And for a new adventure, try spearfishing with a local guide. Abaco is a perfect launching pad for island hopping around to nearby offshore cays, including Elbow, Great Guana, Man-O-War, and Green Turtle, where you can visit curious stingrays, swim with wild pigs, or lounge on a secluded beach.

Cartagena, Colombia. This walled colonial city by the sea feels like an open-air museum—its winding cobblestone streets leading you to bougainvillea-covered plazas, monumental churches, and Old World palaces. Cartagena’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city’s main attraction, showcasing beautifully preserved colonial architecture. It’s the perfect city to explore leisurely by foot, stopping at cafés along the way for arepas and fresh fruit smoothies, or ceviche and mojitos.

19 Places to Seek Adventure Around the World Maldives

Galápagos Islands. For the intrepid, the Galápagos Islands are a can’t-miss destination. This storied archipelago, a subject of fascination since Charles Darwin’s famous expedition in the 1830s, is one of the most richly biodiverse regions in the world. Superb wildlife-viewing—from aquatic iguanas to playful penguins—is the top draw of these isolated islands off the coast of Ecuador, and some of the best diving in the world can be found off their shores.

Turks and Caicos, British West Indies. The pace of life slows way down in the Turks and Caicos Islands, hidden at the southern tip of the Bahamian Archipelago. This destination is off the radar of many travelers, making it an exclusively luxurious getaway. Home to the third-largest coral reef system, you’re sure to spot marine life—such as rays, turtles, dolphins, or even migrating humpback whales— while snorkeling or diving in the turquoise waters. Island- hop among the 40 islands and cays to find enchanting deserted beaches, traces of colonial relics, and charming seaside bars.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Named the “World’s Best City” two years in a row by Travel + Leisure, San Miguel de Allende showcases an intriguing side of Mexico many tourists have never experienced. Wander the 500-year-old city down cobblestone lanes—still traversed by the occasional burro lugging milk and firewood—past colorful stucco structures, art galleries, jazz clubs, and bistros. Try elote (grilled corn) on a shady bench in El Jardin, the city’s plaza.

Tortola, British Virgin Islands. This Caribbean gem is the largest of the British Virgin Islands and is regarded as the sailing capital of the world. Relax on Tortola’s white-sand beaches, go snorkeling at the site of the wreck of the RMS Rhone, and shop in Road Town, BVI’s capital. Plus, a quick ferry ride to neighboring Virgin Gorda offers a chance to see the famed Baths, volcanic rock outcroppings creating tranquil grottoes and tide pools.

United States

Coastal Maine. With even more miles of coastline than California—3,478, to be precise—the northernmost state in the contiguous U.S. offers loads of coastal adventures from hiking and biking to fishing and canoeing. Take in the historic lighthouses dotting the coast, and stop over in Portland, Maine’s capital, to enjoy fresh lobster—or even try catching your own. And swing by the shops of the historic Old Port District, full of nautical delights.

Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado. Originally a mining town in the 1800s, Dunton Hot Springs has been described as a perfectly restored ghost town. Rustic yet luxurious, this hideaway in the San Juan Mountains is an all-inclusive retreat boasting non- sulfurous hot springs, a spa, and world-class sustainable dining. Right outside your cabin doors is a vast wilderness with opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, climbing, and more. It’s an authentic Wild West experience with just the right amount of decadence.

Juneau, Alaska. The small Alaskan city of Juneau has an interesting claim to fame—it’s one of only two state capitals unconnected by road to the North American mainland (the other being Honolulu, Hawaii). But its isolation is exactly what makes it so appealing. Juneau is a popular cruise ship port surrounded by the Coast Mountains. Go see Mendenhall Glacier, a 13.6-mile-long river of ice, or catch glimpses of brown bears in Tongass National Forest.

Seattle, Washington. The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle boasts a thriving culinary scene and ample outdoor adventures only a short drive away. Hike beautiful Mt. Rainier National Park or kayak with orcas in the nearby San Juan Islands. Music lovers will appreciate the chance to see the birthplace of grunge—be sure to visit the Museum of Pop Culture, the second floor of which is entirely devoted to Nirvana and the rise of the influential genre.

Sedona, Arizona. Sedona’s official tourism tagline is “The Most Beautiful City on Earth,” and we’re inclined to agree. With its sweeping views of grand red rock framing endless valleys of green pine, this small Arizona city is the perfect retreat for those in need of art, outdoor recreation, spas, and plentiful yoga classes. Be sure to catch a sunset in Red Rock National Park.

Stowe, Vermont. When it comes to East Coast skiing, Stowe and its mountain resort are the premier spot for incredible runs. But this charming New England town has more to offer than just powder. Located at the base of Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, this town boasts breweries, spas, and scenic trails. Bike down the Stowe Recreation Path or head to nearby Burlington for a tasty tour of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.

Europe

Chamonix, France. Nestled at the base of Mont Blanc amid the jagged peaks of the Alps, the world-class winter sports town of Chamonix is where the French go for a taste of alpine living. The village boasts an impressive pedigree as the first-ever host of the Winter Olympics back in 1924. The spectacular scenery here begs to be explored, whether that means carving down the mountain on groomed ski runs or trekking through windswept meadows on miles of trails.

Lake Como, Italy. The glittering crown jewel in northern Italy’s Lakes District is undoubtedly Lake Como. Tucked in the shadow of the snow-dusted Italian Alps, this serene body of water is a dreamy retreat with plenty of opportunity for adventure like rock climbing, vertical sailing, and boating. Make like the locals do and find a sunny patio in one of the charming lakefront towns to sip an Aperol Spritz and watch classic, wooden Riva yachts zip across the lake.

Prague, Czech Republic. If you’re a history buff, you’ll likely fall in love with the “City of 100 Spires.” Architectural wonders, sprawling green parks, and romance abound in this well-preserved medieval city. Prague will sweep you up in Old World charm while you enjoy modern attractions such as acclaimed restaurants, art museums, and cutting-edge shops speckled amid cobblestone streets and towering church spires.

Chamonix 19 Places to Seek Adventure Around the World

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. Like many of its eastern European neighbors, Montenegro keeps a relatively low profile. Probably not for long. Go to Sveti Stefan for its pinch-me scenery—sandy beaches that give way to the bathwater of the Adriatic Sea—and stay for the fresh seafood and rich heritage. Sveti Stefan, a 15th- century village plopped on a peninsula just off the coast, offers an enticing mix of cobbled lanes, red-tiled roofs, and open-air piazzas.

Asia & Oceania

Kauai, Hawaii. Oahu has nightlife, Maui has posh resorts, and the Big Island has national parks— but what Kauai trades in is scenery: secret beaches, jagged cliffs that plunge into the sea, cascading waterfalls, emerald valleys, and lush mountains worn down by age. Discover the rustic splendor of the so-called “Garden Isle” while whale-watching, snorkeling, hiking, or even touring by helicopter above impressive Waimea Canyon.

Laamu, Maldives. The Maldives possess a treasure-trove of underwater wonders, attracting scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts from across the globe. Made up of nearly 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, the beaches of the Maldives can lay claim to some of the softest and whitest sand the world has to offer. Every resort in the Maldives is its own private island, and Laamu is a brilliant choice for families. Partially encircled by an atoll, or ring-shaped coral reef creating a lagoon of crystalline calm water, Laamu’s waters are ideal for children to swim and snorkel in.

Melbourne, Australia. This trend-setting Australian city has a European feel and is full of surprises. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Melbourne is its laneways—streets accessible only by foot—that each take on a bustling life of their own, hiding secret bars, coveted coffee shops, world-class eateries, and art galleries. The city’s main neighborhoods are all worthy of a visit for their individual scenes—we’re particularly fond of the quirky beach town St. Kilda, where you might get lucky enough to meet the local penguin colony on a stroll down St. Kilda Pier.

Divers of All Levels Can Enjoy Anguilla’s Sunken Ships

Diving All Levels Anguilla

Divers of All Levels Can Enjoy Anguilla’s Sunken Ships

January 27, 2020

A stingray materializes from the sandy sea bottom like a phoenix rising from white-hot ashes, flapping its wings as it prepares for underwater flight. Behemoth lobsters, more than 2 feet in length, clack their claws aggressively at divers before scuttling back to their hideouts. And that’s just a taste of what lies beneath the surface just offshore Anguilla’s Atlantic side.

Anguilla Diving

Thanks to six freighters ranging from 110- to 250- feet long sunk just off the coast to create artificial reefs, the Caribbean isle is a veritable scuba theme park. Most sites are a short 15-minute boat ride from shore and depths start in as little as 30 feet of water, but mostly average 60-80 feet, which makes them accessible to beginners and seasoned divers alike.

At the Oosterdiep, 3-foot-long sea turtles settle lazily on the bow and a spotted moray eel often snakes its way around the periphery. Schools of mercury-hued jacks, neon-yellow French angels, steel-eyed barracuda, and yellowtail snappers swim nearby.

On calm current days, divers can float through the remains of the MV Commerce, a rich backdrop for underwater photography—and home to 10-pound lobsters. At 250 feet from bow to stern, the Sarah wreck is the largest of all the submerged ships. 

The Meppel, also called the Hilda, may have the best story. It served as a ship-to-shore transport during World War II, vanished in a hurricane in 1995, and was only rediscovered three years ago. According to All at Sea, “Once the true history of the Meppel was learned, I (Anguilla sailor Steve Donahue), along with Marine Archeologist Lilli Azevedo and dive operator Douglas ‘Dougie’ Carty, began a further search for the wreck. In October 2009, the Governor’s Office arranged for the loan of the helicopter from the visiting HMS Iron Duke in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the wreck from the air. Dougie continued the search on many of his dive trips at his own expense, and finally – on 23 March, 2010 – he located the wreck by chance off the north coast of Anguilla. The wreck is in an upright position and in excellent condition in 80 feet of water.”

Anguilla Family Dive

Native Douglas Carty of Special ‘D’ Diving and Charters guides tours of these sunken paradises from his dock in Sandy Ground. According to their website, “Special ‘D’ Diving & Charters owns and operates a 30 foot Monohull Fiber Glass Boat and is conveniently situated in Sandy Ground where we offer daily scheduled dives and private dive charters with over 18 years diving experience in Anguilla. Open 7 days a week.”

These Arctic and Antarctic Cruises Combine the Best of Adventure and Luxury

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These Arctic and Antarctic Cruises Combine the Best of Adventure and Luxury

December 19, 2019

Picture yourself breathing in the salty ocean air with the morning sun on your face aboard the worlds only yacht designed for ultimate luxury and adventure. It doesnt get much better than that, does it? Life aboard the Scenic Eclipse is one-of-a-kind, and if youre curious what its like to sit in a private whirlpool in your personal suite while staring out at the water after a full day of exploring some of the most remote places on earth, you finally can.

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Theres no ship in the world like the Scenic Eclipse. With only 228 guests on board (200 in the polar regions), it feels more like a boutique hotel than an overcrowded cruise. And although it might feel like you just boarded a private yacht, youll feel the stability of the ships extra large stabilizers. At only 20% smaller than what youd find on a large cruise ship, the stabilizers provide an extra smooth and safe ride even in the roughest waters and most remote destinations. Click here to learn more about booking your trip.

The luxury aboard the Scenic Eclipse only begins with the stable ride. Each guest suite has a private veranda offering a panoramic view and an espresso machine for the mornings youd rather stay in and watch the ocean pass by with a fresh cup of coffee in hand. Suites are among the most spacious at sea and start at 344 square feet for a Verandah suite and go up to 2,099 square feet with the Owner’s Suite. Given the size of the ship and small number of guests, you’ll enjoy twice the amount of space at sea than you would on a large cruise ship. And with high-end spa services available each day, there will be no shortage of space and relaxation.

Scenic-Eclipse-publicSpaces-Yoga

With eight different restaurants, room service, and a cooking school on board, guests can satisfy any craving at any hour. Service is exceptional with an almost one-to-one staff to guest ratio and butlers assigned to each cabin. Premium beverages are also included for every passenger, and theres no need to worry about tips or gratuity because theyre always included, so guests are free to eat and drink as they please. For a unique experience, guests are invited to dine in the only dining room on the seas where you can look directly into the kitchen as you enjoy your meal.

If adventure is a priority as you cruise in luxury, then youll find all you need on the Scenic Eclipse. Guests are welcome to explore the water by kayak, the land by e-bike, and the skies by helicopter. For those feeling extra adventurous, submarine rides are also available so you can observe deep sea marine life up close. Helicopter and submarine rides are an additional expense.

Scenic-Eclipse-arctic-svalblardArchipelago1

Thrill seekers and luxury lovers will strike the perfect balance on one of the Scenic Eclipse Cruises to the Arctic or Antarctic. In the polar regions, there are sixteen expedition leaders on board who give guests the experience of a lifetime exploring some of the least visited places on earth. To cap off a full day of discovery and awe, adventurers are guided safely back to the ship to resume their luxury cruise experience.

For those wanting to explore the Arctic region, there are multiple itineraries from which to choose. The Arctic in Depth voyage allows nature to be your guide as you navigate the frozen tundra in the Arctic wilderness. Youll search for the elusive Polar Bear in the endless summer daylight with views of sparkling glaciers, icebergs and snow-capped mountain ranges. If the final frontier is calling your name, youll love the Arctic in Depth experience.

Scenic-Eclipse-Arctic-greenland

If youre interested in exploring the least populated and the most remote wildlife rich place on earth, then Antarctica is your destination. After passing through the notorious Drake Passage, cruisers will marvel at the great white wonder. Your imagination (and even photos) will never do this strikingly beautiful, untouched continent justice. You truly do have to see it to believe it. Mountains rise out the sea, and diverse wildlife is on display as soon as you approach the shore. On the Scenic Eclipse Antarctica in Depth cruise, youll wake up to the most spectacular icescapes in the world. On expeditions, youll explore ice-filled channels and marvel at the many wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula. To add to the adventure, the constantly changing weather, scenery and colors of the land will captivate you every hour.

The luxury lifestyle aboard the Scenic Eclipse and its adventurous cruise options are unique to the industry, making them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those looking for a unique and immersive experience. Floating the world with Scenic is smooth down to the last detail with all-inclusive amenities, one-to-one service, spacious suites, and engaging excursions.

Can you picture it? There you are, enjoying your morning coffee with a full day of off-ship adventure ahead, knowing you have every luxury waiting for you when you get back. It doesnt get much better than that.

Maui’s Hiking Trails Are the Island’s Best Kept Secret

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Maui's Hiking Trails Are the Island's Best Kept Secret

December 9, 2019

Towering high above Maui’s famous white sand beaches, above the island’s dense and tangled jungle, deep in the hear of Haleakala National Park, lies a red, cinder-coned crater that is, possibly, the quietest spot on Earth. To reach this crater, runners (and hikers, of which there are arguably more) must first drive through the park’s entrance and navigate a series of switchbacks to the Ke- onehe’ehe’e Trailhead (elevation 9,740 feet). The trail is barely visible on the scoured surface of ancient volcanic lava, long cooled and broken into gravelly cinder. It climbs about 300 feet before descending into the crater. Run it, says Ben Auerbach, a Kaanapali, Maui-based fitness concierge who creates custom training plans for locals and visitors, and the experience will change your life.

“When you look all around, it’s blue skies and sun, and you’re surrounded by brownish-reddish dirt gravel that insulates you from sound, and also by silversword plants, which are unique to Maui. It doesn’t feel like you’re on Earth, really.”

Hiking Hana Maui Hawaii

Otherworldly is a word that comes up often in regards to the trails on Maui, the “Valley Isle” of the Hawaiian chain. Roughly 728 square miles, Maui has Haleakalā on its eastern side; the West Maui Mountains are on its western half. This geographical uplift contributes to an extensive diversity of microclimates and an eclectic combination of beaches and jungles, rainforests, waterfalls and redwoods. And that, according to the island’s runners, is what makes Maui a trail runner’s—and hiker’s—paradise.

“Nothing can compare to Maui,” says native Reid Hunter, 24. “It’s one of the most diverse islands, is beautiful year-round and has amazing views everywhere. You can start at sea level, climb up a mountain, turn around and all you see is crystal blue ocean and red dirt fields.”

Hunter, an elite runner who logs 80 miles a week and dreams of competing in the 2020 Olympic Marathon, briefly left Maui for university in New Zealand, where he ran with some of that country’s top coaches. Upon graduating in 2012, he heeded Maui’s siren song, returned home and began training in ear- nest. Although Maui doesn’t draw a cadre of elite runners in the same way that California’s High Sierra or Colorado’s Rocky Mountains do, Hunter says the island’s got plenty of challenging long-distance trails on which both runners and hikers can strengthen and train.

Chief among them are the West Maui Mountains’ Village Trails, a steep and tangled network that snakes through an abandoned golf course. So rugged are these that, last October, they were home to the 2014 XTerra World Championship 5-kilometer race. Hunter not only won this notorious sufferfest, but also broke the course record by 42 seconds. 

But it’s not all rigorous and rough when it comes to Maui trails, says island native Matt Holton of Mauirunner.com. There are also mellow(ish) trails that seem to lead into magical worlds bursting with color, vegetation and views you never imagined existed (Thompson Road, Waihee Ridge and Sugar Beach on map below).

“There’s a timelessness to the trails here,” says Holton. Other trails are vibrant with color—purples and reds from the minerals and rocks (Skyline Trail). Still others are loaded with guava fruit and wild raspberries. “There is so much diversity,” says Holton. “The running here never gets boring.”

Where to go?

The hardest thing about running or hiking on Maui is deciding where to go. Here are some of the island’s most scenic and superlative trails.

Haleakalā Crater: Located at 10,000 feet within Haleakalā National Park, the crater sits among a network of trails that are mainly “out and backs,” allowing runners and hikers to pick their distance. With no shade, high altitude and variable temperatures, don’t forget sunscreen, layers and water.

Kapalua Maui Woman Waterfall

Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls: A 4-mile round-trip route, the Pipiwai Trail forges through lush bamboo forest, climbs a total of 600 feet and leads to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, which plunge through verdant cliffs to a pool.

Kahakapao Trail System: This extensive trail system located in the Makawao Forest, a state preserve near the town of Haiku, offers miles of single track through thick evergreen forests. It’s also a popular mountain biking area.

Kapalua Coastal Trail: This northwest Maui beach run offers beautiful, picturesque views of the coastline. “Think Big Sur with warm water,” says Ben Auerbach, who leads guided runs and hikes on the trail. An added bonus: The trail, which is about 3 miles, also leads to a traditional Hawaiian burial ground and labyrinth.

Explore Colorado’s Rare Beauty with This Epic Cycle Race

Explore Colorado's Rare Beauty with This Epic Cycle Race

Colorado's Epic Cycle Race

August 2, 2019

Characterized by high elevations and relentless climbs, the weeklong USA Pro Challenge is too epic for any one city: Ten communities play host to the race’s seven stages, which link Aspen, Crested Butte and Vail with larger hubs such as Colorado Springs and Denver. All test a champion’s mettle. “It’s one of the hardest races I’ve ever done,” says pro rider Tanner Putt of the Bissell Development Cycling team. But legions of fans motivate racers to conquer the challenges.

Over the course of the week, 1 million spectators turn out to watch and cheer. “Riders race here and feel like rock stars,” says Shawn Hunter, the race’s co-chairman and CEO. “The only other race in the world that has this level of excitement and energy is the Tour de France.” 

Aspen  

Leave 12,095-foot Independence Pass to the racers. Mere mortals content themselves with the route to the iconic Maroon Bells, which serves up the state’s most celebrated mountain panorama yet demands a relatively modest effort (1,600 vertical feet over 10 miles). As an added bonus, the road is closed to cars from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 20-mile out-and-back ride begins at the roundabout 1 mile west of downtown Aspen. Take the Maroon Creek Road “exit” and pedal uphill past Aspen High School. Rest assured, the hills become gentler as you pass Aspen Highlands ski area. The road climbs gradually, hugging the banks of Maroon Creek as mansions give way to the White River National Forest, where aspen fringed meadows afford glimpses of majestic, 14,026-foot Pyramid Peak. At the road’s end, dismount and walk some 200 yards along the paved path to viewpoints showcasing the Bells’ stunning symmetry mirrored in the blue waters of Maroon Lake. 

Wheel Deals: Ute City Cycles rents drool-worthy Orbea and Felt bikes for 100/day, or get a pro tune for your own ride from the repair crew. Refuel: Peach’s Corner Café tops off your fuel tank with the likes of kale salad or a chicken and avocado panini, served on the outdoor patio. Recover Check into Remède Spa (in the St. Regis) for a stint in its steam caves, stone-lined pools stirred by cascading water and treatment rooms offering wraps, facials and massages featuring local skincare products.

Vail

Like all routes out of the Vail Valley, the 12-mile Daybreak Ridge loop includes a stout climb (1,800 vertical feet) that humbled cyclists in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. But from the circuit’s high point you overlook the soaring peaks of the Gore Range. And because the upper section of the ride takes place within gated neighborhoods, traffic is scarce. “You’re more likely to spot deer and bear than cars,” says local Brett Donelson. Start in Avon, 11 miles west of Vail, and crank up Village Road, passing through the gated entrance to Beaver Creek Resort. At 1 mile, turn right onto South Holden Road, left onto Borders Road and left again onto Strawberry Park Road. Ogle the luxury residences lining the road, pass beneath the Elkhorn ski lift and pick up Daybreak Ridge Road to top out at a high point affording those well-earned views down into Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch.

Follow Daybreak Ridge Road as it serpentines down through Bachelor Gulch. Stop to refill a water bottle at the RitzCarlton and then cruise down into Avon via Bachelor Gulch Trail. Venture Sports in Avon rents bikes, organizes group rides and employs the valley’s best bike technicians. Vail Valley riders have long embraced Yellowbelly in West Vail for its all-natural chicken and veggie-laden side dishes Recover.  Spa Anjali (at Avon’s Westin Riverfront) draws from healing traditions in the Alps, Himalayas and Rocky Mountains to create three unique “journeys” that go way beyond a standard massage. 

Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak isn’t the Springs’ only scenic landmark— although cyclists do get to admire this 14,114-foot-high summit from portions of the 18-mile Garden of the Gods loop. It gains 1,200 feet of elevation and visits the city’s other “rock star”: The Garden of the Gods, a pocket of blazing red-rock spires and cliffs tucked among the foothills west of downtown. To taste this eye-candy, get an early-morning start (to avoid crowds and traffic heading into the famed Garden) and head northwest out of downtown via W. Bijou to N. Walnut to Mesa Road. Continue north past Garden of the Gods Country Club and then bike south on the bike path, which parallels N. 30th Street and offers motivating panoramas of Pikes Peak and the Kissing Camels rock, which looks exported from Utah’s Arches National Park. Enter the Garden of the Gods to pedal the one-way loop among its sculpted rock pinnacles, separated from the traffic by a wide bike lane.

Exit via a plunge down Ridge Road, then left on W. Pikes Peak Ave., and right on 21st St. to connect to the Midland Trail. This former rail line slopes downhill as it heads back to Colorado Springs. Wheel Deals Criterium Bicycles maintains a big fleet of low-mileage road bikes for riders of every shape and stripe. Refuel The Irish fare at McCabe’s Tavern rewards hard effort with homemade shepherd’s pie, pretzel bread and smoked salmon served on a shady outdoor patio. Recover A Colorado icon, The Broadmoor pampers athletes with therapeutic massage and facials performed in treatment spaces fitted with chandeliers and fireplaces. 

What It’s Really Like Taking a Trip on a Mega-Yacht​

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What It's Really Like Taking a Trip on a Mega-Yacht

July 31, 2019

In a corner of the economy that few get to see and even fewer get to experience, there exists a conveyance known as the mega-yacht. Nothing short of castles upon the sea, these vessels are more than 100 feet long, 25 feet in beam, and more than 50 feet tall. Bulging with four decks and more than 5,000 square feet of living space, they are multilevel Park Avenue penthouses—that float.

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Lady J, at 142 feet, is the definition of mega-yacht; and what better place to show it off than the island of Providenciales, part of the Turks and Caicos archipelago. As we walk the pier to board, Lady J’s crew of nine, including captain Steve, snap to sharp attention to welcome us. The yacht has a capacity of 12, but its passenger list seldom exceeds 10, meaning the ship’s ratio of crew to guest is roughly 1:1 so there is no wish left unanswered or, more impressively, unanticipated. A few steps up to the main deck and we are given cool towels and still cooler champagne. While the captain explains the vessel’s safety features on our introductory tour, I can’t help but eye both the collection of wines and the collection of water-born sea toys that includes two jet skis, a 32-foot, fishing/waterski/do-whatever-the-hell-you-want speedboat, and an arsenal of associated apparatus from paddle-boards to wakeboards to banana boats, all accessible from a hardwood sports deck that extends invitingly off the stern a foot or so above the water.

Morning begins with a breakfast of smoked salmon, eggs Benedict and cappuccino as we cruise toward our anchorage off a lovely coastline on the west side of the island. Once there, the crew squires us aboard the tender for a day on a deserted beach where upon arrival we find beach chairs arranged, umbrellas unfurled, and champagne on ice. The beach itself is beyond pristine, having been raked by the crew hours earlier.

The staff of Lady J operate in a manner that combines the most important elements of white glove service (in some cases even including white gloves), the U.S. Secret Service (each wearing an earpiece to assure that a guest’s mildest requirements can be promptly met) and of traditional hospitality (“Is there anything at all I can get you?”). When one evening a guest decides to have an unannounced midnight swim, it seems as if two of the crew arrive with waiting towels even before he hits the water. “We have a swimmer!” is quietly heard over the radio to a listener being poured some chamomile in the main parlor.

We spend the morning speeding on jet skis, falling off paddle-boards, and snorkeling on the reef. Given the choice of lunch on the beach or back at Lady J, the guests agree to return to the ship for chef Nate’s ministrations, which this time included a lovely quinoa salad and some perfectly seasoned grilled chicken. While some of our group elect to spend the afternoon on the sun deck replete with a hot-tub and comfy chaise lounges, Captain Steve suggests we try our hand at some game fishing. Thirty minutes later, we are off in Lady J’s powerboat equipped with tackle well suited for Moby Dick. Steve, who’s an angler by heart, put us on fish almost immediately, and we return with both fresh mackerel and some very tired arms.

Fatigued from a full day of indulgence, we assemble in the formal dining room for a carefully crafted sauté of diver scallops, shrimp, and lemon flounder.  It is delectable, as is the freshly baked bread, in which Nate takes particular pride With the exception of some unexpected rain which the crew handles with the deftness and coordination of a race car pit crew, our cruise on Lady J is a mix of luxury, excitement, relaxation, and service that leave us thinking only of the next time we might be aboard.

Providenciales: Jewel of the West Indies 

The gleaming, reef-enclosed island of Providenciales sits at the northwest corner of the Turks and Caicos island chain, yet it’s neither Turk, nor Caico. It’s not technically part of “the Caribbean” either according to purists who claim that the Turks and Caicos, along with the Bahamas, are not Caribbean islands. 

Whatever the case, to most visitors the warm, gentle and gin-clear water that explodes in turquoise and surrounds Providenciales is a decidedly Caribbean experience. What’s not Caribbean about it? That Turks and Caicos appears to be relatively underdeveloped with respect to other islands, which are both farther away from the United States and no more beautiful. “Provo”—as the locals call Providenciales—lies a mere 500 miles from Miami, and the airport’s 9,000-foot runway can serve the largest jets in the world. The islands are also possessed of the earth’s third-largest barrier reef (behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and that of Belize) and offer some of the best diving and fishing in the Americas.

7 Things You Have to Do in Jackson Hole

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7 Things You Have to Do in Jackson Hole

July 29, 2019

Jackson Hole is a small mountain town in Wyoming that’s grown in popularity over the years. If you plan on paying this gem a visit anytime soon, here are seven recommendations from local experts for what you have to do when you’re there.

The Skier, Kit Deslauriers

When it comes to skiing firsts, DesLauriers is quite simply the best. In 2006, the two-time free-skiing champion was the first person to ski off the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent, as well as dozens of other first descents around the world, including runs down the Polish Glacier on Aconcagua in South America and Mount Isto, the tallest peak in Alaska’s Brooks Range. In 2011, her big mountain exploits earned her a spot in the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. And in between these high-altitude accomplishments she’s mom to two daughters, a lifestyle that she attributes entirely to Jackson. “Nowhere else in the Lower 48 can you challenge yourself like you can here and expose your children to the best of the outdoors at the same time.” 

Local Escape: “Ice skating over Jenny Lake or skate skiing trail creek.”

The Photographer, Jimmy Chin 

Mountain climbers who need a shooter to document their jaw-dropping ascents inevitably call Chin. The 40-year-old climber and skier originally turned to photography to pay for his global adventures that include skiing off Mount Everest, climbing the sheer wall of Pakistan’s imposing Tahir Tower, and scrambling up Yosemite’s El Capitan 15 times. As his skills improved so did his ability to capture the extreme. His breathtaking images have graced the covers of Outside, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic magazines. In 2010, he expanded to video and produced the award-winning documentary, Samsara, about his failed attempt to climb the 20,700- foot Meru Peak in India. 

Local Escape: “I love hiking up and skiing down Taylor Mountain. It’s a 3,000-vertical-foot descent in a big bowl that gets loaded with powder.”

The Snowboarder, Travis Rice  

Rice cemented his reputation as the most daring snowboarder in history thanks to a 2011 Red Bull commercial where he dropped into a steep chute, flew off a jump, and executed a triple backflip while covering half a football field in the air. “That’s what I do,” says Rice, 31. “I find geographical oddities and figure out how to ride them.” Since Rice started riding in 1995, he’s always taunted gravity. By 2002 he was an X Games gold medalist and in 2008, he co-produced and starred in the snowboarding film That’s It, That’s All, regarded by critics of the genre as the greatest action sports movie of all time. 

Local Escape: “There are amazing hot springs just outside Jackson Hole. I won’t say where but spend time searching on the computer and you’ll find them.” 

The Designer, Stephan Sullivan 

If you’ve bought a soft-shell jacket in the last 15 years, thank Sullivan. As founder of the activewear brand Cloudveil, he introduced the world to comfort and mountain-tough performance. After leaving Cloudveil, Sullivan, 48, launched Stio in 2012, which marries outdoor-sports fabrics with mountain-town style. The results are clothes with go-anywhere versatility such as weatherproof men’s blazers that stretch and a woman’s cocktail-party skirt that doubles as a running skirt. “It’s clothing you can wear climbing or skiing but also looks good at dinner that night,” he says. Reshaping people’s ideas of what their clothes can do is no easy task, which is why Sullivan retains tight control on where Stio clothes are sold: only through the company store in Jackson’s Town Square, the website, or the catalog. “We want to make sure people know that this emanates from the Jackson Hole lifestyle.” 

Local Escape: “The Wilson Ice Rink is a gem. They light it three nights a week.”

The Curator, Carrier Geraci  

In 2010, when Geraci became the town’s art coordinator, she “felt like it was our responsibility to share with the 3.5 million visitors to Jackson Hole each year, our deep appreciation for the natural world.” Since then the 45-year-old has curated projects such as “Sky Play,” a flock of steel ravens on a concrete wall along Highway 89, and “Strands,” a stained-glass installation at the Home Ranch Welcome Center that depicts the DNA fingerprints of bison and grizzly bear, indigenous animals to the area. “My goal,” she says, “is that the art not only tells a story about the area’s past, but also about today and the future so that we have responsible stewards protecting one of the last great natural ecosystems.”

Local Escape: “Hiking to the top of glory bowl and skiing down. Then going into town for margaritas at Picas or a glass of wine at bin 22.” 

The Architect, Stephen Dynia, 

When New York City Architect Stephen Dynia arrived in 1993, local style could best be described as log-cabin chic. Fast forward 20 years, and Dynia, 57, has reshaped mountain architecture, introducing flat roofs, exposed steel, and “lots and lots” of glass. His hallmark building, the Center for the Arts’ performance hall, features a 500-seat theater with a wall of glass that looks out on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a detail that Dynia calls a “storefront to the community.” His work has also attracted national acclaim: This year the American Institute of Architects awarded him a fellowship, their highest honor, in recognition of his signature aesthetic. “My objective,” he says, “is to make sure people are able to experience the light and nature of their surroundings.” 

Local Escape: “The heated out – door pool at the Amangani Resort is fabulous.”

The Writer, Alexandra Fuller

Fuller moved to Jackson from Central Africa in her mid-20s always knowing she wanted to be a writer. To make that dream a reality, she would roll out of bed at 4 a.m., before work as a river guide or waitress, or waking up her children, and write about the things she knew: growing up during civil war in Central Africa, learning to load an Uzi machine gun as a child, and losing three siblings. Those experiences turned into 2001’s “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight,” a New York Times Notable Book for 2002. Three more books followed including The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, about the hardscrabble life of a boy growing up in Wyoming’s oil fields. The 44-year-old continues to write almost every day. 

Local Escape: “I love the cross country skiing up and down cache creek. You can hear the snow settle, it’s so quiet.”

The Unforgettable Experience of an African Safari

The Unforgettable Experience of an African Safari

July 29, 2019

When we flew into Nairobi last December, a host greeted my family and ushered us into two Jeeps stocked with cold beers and safari-style wide-brimmed hats. My husband and I booked the African safari as our first Inspirato trip, bringing along his parents and our three children. Our route to the hotel cut straight through Nairobi National Park. 

As soon we entered the park, my kids poked their heads out of the top of Jeep to snap photos of a lioness a mere 2 feet from our vehicle. We were still close enough to Nairobi to see the backdrop of the city, yet we were suddenly immersed in a jungle setting with a rhino and a pride of lions in the distance. It was completely wild and surreal. 

The next day we flew to the Chyulu Hills area and landed in the middle of the bush. Our driver and guide, Seki, a tall man with a big grin and calm and gentle presence, met us in a Land Rover with elevated seats and drove us through the flat, dusty plain to Ol Donyo Lodge. On the drive we saw zebras, elephants, and giraffes.

 At the hotel, you could see the watering hole used by the area’s elephants. Our rooms had a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, private swimming pools, and a rooftop bed for sleeping under the stars. Two of the nights Seki took us out for “sundowners,” where he drove us out into the savannah and pulled out pewter cups for cocktails and a table for hors d’oeuvres. 

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A surprising perk of the trip was having everyone unplugged from cell phones and iPads. My son Wilson, 22, made friends with the staff and went out to play volleyball in a rigged-up court out back. We read books by the pool and played cards as a family at night. There were horse stables right off the property, so we spent a day on horseback, viewing giraffes in the distance. 

My husband and I went mountain biking and saw a Maasai man dressed in red warrior-looking garb herding cattle across the plain. Young children ran alongside the cows and stopped to wave to us. We toured a Maasai village with mud huts. Women and children sold wares and my children bartered for knives and spears, which they somehow managed to get through customs on the way home.

On our fifth day of the trip, also Christmas morning, we boarded a charter flight to the Bateleur Camp. Our pilot flew low over the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, giving us a spectacular aerial view of hippos, elephants, and giraffes. It was one of the most exciting parts of the trip and something I will never forget. 

Just off the airstrip, our hosts set up a table with cookies, juice, and champagne. It was such a special greeting. Bateleur Camp was mostly wood and had an open-air living room and bar. Our fixed tents had thatched roofs and stone showers. I felt like I was on a movie set. Monkeys hung out in the trees and warthogs wandered across the lawn. 

Each day we headed out on game drives, traveling along bumpy dirt paths over rolling green hills. We witnessed a lion trying to chase down a zebra (the zebra got away), other zebras lingering near a river with more than 50 visible crocs, and two cheetahs eating the remains of a recent kill. We saw hundreds of elephants and got so close to giraffes that we could have touched them. 

Each day after the tours, we returned to the tents for a delicious family-style meal. I was a little concerned at first since my son and I are vegetarians, but our hosts were extremely accommodating and always made sure to offer us a meat-free option. For our Christmas dinner, the tables were covered in rose petals and lined with candles and crystal, a truly beautiful experience. 

After arriving in Kenya, we learned about hot air balloon rides and decided to add it to our itinerary. Toward the end of our trip, we floated over the spectacular landscape at sunrise. Besides the noise of the balloon inflating, it was completely quiet and peaceful. I highly recommend it. 

I have my mother-in-law, Sally Knapp, to thank for giving us the idea for the trip. She’d previously attempted to organize a family safari about a decade ago and it never panned out. Now that she’s in her mid-70s, my husband and I really wanted to make it happen for her. We’re so glad we did. She loved it. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Why Heli-Skiing in Telluride Should Be Your Next Adventure​

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Why Heli-Skiing in Telluride Should Be Your Next Adventure

July 29, 2019

While dining on breakfast in your sprawling mountain lodge or spacious suite in Telluride’s mountain village, you hear the telltale whup-whup-whup of a copter’s rotor blades throbbing through the mountain air. Seconds later, the graceful Bell 407 alights right outside the mountain village, a short drive or walk from your breakfast table.

Telluride Helitrax, founded in 1982, was the only heli-ski operation in the state till 2008, and remains one of the only spots in the continental U.S. where a helicopter picks up guests right outside the town’s luxury resorts and homes. Savor it. This doesn’t happen in Vail or Aspen. When you climb into that Bell 407, prepare to kiss your sense of detachment good-bye. The second your Plexiglas bubble lifts off the deck, you’ll love heli-skiing. And you’ll love it even more once the turns begin.

Telluride Helitrax not only accesses fresh, untracked mountainsides; it reaches some of the highest ski terrain on the continent, 10,000 to 13,500 feet above sea level. Its permit area encompasses more than 200 square miles of high alpine basins, cirques, and summits surrounding Telluride to the north, south and east. Almost all the terrain is above tree line, allowing effortless, wide open turns down unobstructed slopes.

Because contemporary powder skis turn intermediates into experts and experts into skiing gods, you don’t need elite skills to enjoy Helitrax. You simply need to be, as the company puts it, “an advanced intermediate or above, with a sense of adventure and in reasonable physical condition.” While the slopes are ungroomed, they fall at moderate angles, resembling a double blue or single black run at Telluride Ski Resort. So relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the San Juan Mountains, Colorado’s closest resemblance to the Swiss Alps, including views of iconic Wilson Peak, which might seem familiar: It’s the perfect pyramid one sees on the label of Coors beer.

The view from the copter is fantastic, but once you touch down on a remote ridgeline with thousands of untracked powder below you, the real fun begins. Leading the way is a high-altitude, all-star roster of guides. There’s Joe Shults, who’s spent 30 years in the Telluride area working as a professional ski patroller, snow safety director, and heli-ski guide. There’s Matt Steen, who recently worked as an avalanche forecaster for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. And let’s not forget Angela Hawse, one of only eight women in America to attain the prestigious certification from the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association. Rounding out the crew is Brian “Speed” Miller, who co-founded Helitrax back in ’82 and is renowned as the area’s consummate avalanche forecaster. As Hawse says, “Most heli-ski guides are the best in the industry because it’s such a sought after job.”

At the landing zone, you step out onto what feels like the top of the world, the guide grabs your skis and waves off the helicopter. Once it’s gone, the peak becomes startlingly quiet and pristine. You click into your bindings, then shoot down virgin fluff to the lower landing zone where the copter will meet your group. The guide will normally go first, asking you to stay either left or right of his track, yet the snow you ski will be fresh, unmarred by other human beings. You’ll make as many turns as you like, but feel free to fly straight down. The sensation of high speed without friction is mind-altering, bucket-list stuff. When you reach the bottom, you’ll be grinning madly and fired up to do it all over again. Helitrax normally provides skiers with six runs a day, which usually translates into 10,000 to 14,000 vertical feet of descent. In contrast to the massive helicopters of British Columbia operations, Helitrax’s Bell 407 limits the experience to a small, agile group of four close friends or family plus the guide. Translation: no waiting for strangers. You’ll spend the non-skiing time shooting photos, eating snacks and lunch (included), and raving about the turns and scenery.

Expert skiers can choose to take it up a notch. If enough talented people can form a suitable group, Helitrax will fly them to test pieces such as Upper Waterfall, a wide-open, undulating roller coaster of a run that funnels into five little couloirs known as the Waterfall Chutes. Or, better yet, Sheep Chute. Lacing its way between imposing walls of rock, Sheep Chute pinches down to a width of 30 feet before opening to a more manageable, less claustrophobic 70 feet. The entire chute falls steeply (40 degrees) for 1,500 exhilarating vertical feet. Ski that, and no one will doubt your abilities anywhere.

 Such options argue favorably for heli-skiing the Lower 48. Sure, British Columbia is where the sport was invented, and its mammoth operations are ever impressive. But their heli-ski lodges are incredibly isolated, with no charming Victorian town like Telluride to see or visit. They may serve incredible food, and offer downtime yoga, but you always know the nightlife highlight will be more cribbage games with the boys. Alaska can be even more trying. The finest Alaskan skiing happens out of Valdez, a dreary sea-level oil town. Because Valdez receives maritime weather (as opposed to Telluride’s continental systems), gray clouds can cancel flying for days, even weeks, at a time. As such, there’s a name for the misery that envelops a soul when dreams of the perfect ski trip wither away under day after day of low ceilings: Valdisease

 But at Telluride, there is no chance of Valdisease; your flight home ends right at the mountain village, where you can walk back to your room (or drive back to your house), freshen up, and then meet your family for dinner, maybe pointing out the window at the remote high alpine mountains that you skied today, carving lines no one else at the table—or the restaurant for that matter—could.