Vieques, the Rugged Island Off Puerto Rico, Is Making a Comeback After Hurricane Maria — And Now Is the Time to Visit

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 12:01
<p>I sat in the passenger seat of Sylvia De Marco's jeep as we wound uphill on a road flanked by untamed foliage. It was November of 2019, and I had just arrived on Vieques after a short but breathtaking flight from <a href="" target="_blank">San Juan</a>. De Marco, a designer and the proprietor of the <a href="" target="_blank">Dreamcatcher</a>, a hotel on the main island, acted as my unofficial guide. She had recently taken over what was left of a scrappy, 50-year-old guesthouse in the forested Vieques hills — leveled during the hurricane — and rebuilt it as <a href="" target="_blank">La Finca Victoria</a>, which opened last February for its inaugural season.</p><p>"The word hurricane comes from the indigenous Taíno word<em> hurakán,</em> 'god of the storm,'" De Marco told me. Though the memory of Maria was fresh, she dispelled the notion that disasters are in any way novel to Vieques. "This island has survived so many waves of colonialism," she explained, veering to avoid one of the many horses that run wild.</p><img alt="Young man riding a horse on the beach with rainbows in the background, a peach-colored cocktail (all in Vieques, Puerto Rico) "src=""><p>Vieques has had tumultuous history; the indigenous Taíno inhabited the island for around 500 years until the Spanish arrived violently in the 15th century. France, Britain, even Denmark all vied for control of the island for the next three hundred years until it was annexed by Puerto Rico in the early 19th century. Sugarcane production expanded and, with it, plantation slavery. When The United States took <a href="">Puerto Rico</a> after the Spanish-American war, Vieques was part of the package. As U.S. entry into World War II loomed on horizon, the Navy seized control of more than half the island, further displacing farmers and local residents, and established the base that would remain active until the Navy officially left in 2003.</p><p>I first came to Vieques in January of 2014, where I stayed at La Finca in its previous incarnation: La Finca Caribe, an isolated guesthouse owned by Washington State-based proprietor Corky Parker. (Parker bought it, in 1996, from Gail Burchard, who built it in the 1980s as a women's retreat.) Vieques had once been a sleepy place known, if at all, as an off-the-beaten-path haven for hippies and those looking to escape the rat race — and more notoriously, as a site of political turmoil: in 1999, massive demonstrations erupted in protest of the naval occupation.</p><p>During that visit, the small, densely forested island — Vieques is just 21 miles wide and 5 long, with one town each on the north and south shores — was <a href="" target="_blank">abuzz with development</a>, visitors flocking to its black-sand beaches and bioluminescent waters. The W, by far the largest and most luxurious hotel ever built there, had recently opened. The Modernist, 13-room <a href="" target="_blank">Hix Island House</a> had just expanded. Construction on <a href="" target="_blank">El Blok</a> — a striking concrete hotel in the town of Esperanza — was under way, and everyone was excited about its forthcoming restaurant by San Juan chef <a href="" target="_blank">Jose Enrique</a>.</p><img alt="A hammock overlooking greenery on the balcony of the Finca Victoria hotel in Vieques, Puerto Rico "src=""><p>Maria came as a punch to the gut. If Puerto Rico was abandoned after the storm, Vieques — reliant upon ferries for groceries and gasoline — was doubly so. Many residents left, unable or unwilling to rebuild. When Parker returned to clean up and reopen La Finca Caribe, she found the island in terrible shape. In a moment she describes as “total desperation and heartbreak,” she bequeathed the property to De Marco, who’d become a regular and friend over the years.</p><p>The destination is still in recovery. De Marco, and those who remained, feel a deep sense of loyalty. "Until Maria, a lot of people had forgotten the potential this island has to support the community here," she told me. "By making us vulnerable, the disaster helped us wake up."</p><p>Today, the 12-room <a href="" target="_blank">La Finca Victoria</a> is completely transformed under De Marco's leadership — save for the giant rubber tree still shading the walkway. There are many millennial-friendly updates: vegan breakfast and daily yoga, an honor bar with locally brewed kombucha, and a boutique market stocked with homegrown herbal teas and jewelry, clothing, and artwork by Puerto Rican women. But De Marco is more interested in cultivating long-term success and sustainability than she is in being on trend.</p><img alt="The kitchen of a restaurant at Finca Victoria hotel, and a partially-peeled mango from the hotel's property "src=""><p>So is Vieques native Ivan Torres Ortiz, owner of the <a href="" target="_blank">Crab Island Rum</a> distillery, which De Marco took me to visit. "I wanted to stay on Vieques," he explained, in a room stacked with barrels, casks, and stainless steel drums containing his first commercial batch. "But I wanted to find work in something other than construction and bioluminescence tours. Figuring out how to make rum was the easy part."</p><p>A restless 20-something, he began tinkering, building his own stills and experimenting with recipes. But the molasses pace of local bureaucracy — as well as, of course, Maria — delayed his launch. The distillery is finally open, housed inside a former U.S. Navy firehouse in a rural green valley. Ortiz offers tastings and will soon feature pop-ups with local chefs. He hopes businesses like Crab Island can help brand Vieques as being about more than just beaches. "My product will create a lot of jobs, even if indirectly." De Marco nodded in agreement as we sipped a smooth, orange-infused rum.</p><p>While Ortiz focuses on lowering unemployment, others are imagining self-sufficiency literally from the ground up. We headed uphill, past the skeletons of once-showy homes, to <a href="" target="_blank">La Finca Conciencia</a>, where De Marco sources produce for her inn. This organic farm is aimed at social justice through <a href="" target="_blank">food security and reviving local growing practices</a>. Farmer Jorge Cora greeted us at the gate, and De Marco proceeded slowly around his terraced gardens, snipping holy basil, mustard greens, and fuchsia blossoms, pinching leaves, tasting, and asking questions. My attention was divided between the tiers of MacGyvered hives, home to Vieques's unique species of honeybees, and the stunning vista of the sea beyond. The legacy of weapons testing on Vieques means farmers sometimes face contaminated soil, but Cora's work is planting the seeds for a nascent food-autonomy movement. As a downpour broke, he packed up our crate of eggplants, and we departed.</p><p>On my last evening, I drove north from Finca Victoria, past the still-shuttered W, where vines and saplings are overtaking the whitewashed walls as nature reasserts its claim. I then cut back to Esperanza, a few square blocks of modest homes and small businesses on the southern shore. I sat on a fishing pier across from <a href="">El Blok</a>. Islanders have come to appreciate this Brutalist behemoth; the building, with its massive generator, housed relief workers and displaced locals after the storm, and became a hub for emergency services. Puerto Rican-born Carlos Perez, who became executive chef at El Blok's restaurant <a href="" target="_blank">Placita</a> after Jose Enrique returned to San Juan, provided thousands of free meals.</p><p>El Blok was also the first hotel to reopen after Maria, welcoming guests just two months later. Since then, the property has renewed its commitment to community engagement, moving the restaurant from the rooftop to the ground floor to welcome locals. Perez is focusing on seasonal local fare: pumpkin soup, head-on langoustines, salads of greens from La Finca Conciencia. </p><img alt="A corner suite with light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows at El Blok, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico "src=""><p>Esperanza is a restaurant destination for visitors to Vieques; notable spots include <a href="" target="_blank">El Quenepo</a>, next door to El Blok, which serves small plates and craft cocktails. (They also opened a few guestrooms last year, after what the owners called a “Hurricane Maria Renovation.") I walked down the promenade to dinner at what had become my favorite restaurant, <a href="" target="_blank">El Guayacán</a>, situated in an unassuming two-story cement building at the end of the Esperanza strip.</p><p>Its proprietor, Marcos Vegas Arias — who ran bars in San Juan, his hometown, for more than a decade before opening his modest restaurant on Vieques in 2013 — is a born host, and moonlights as a local tour guide. He has graciously driven me all over the island, bringing me to the most secluded beaches, including the rugged and beautiful Playa Negra: a volcanic black sand beach accessible only by hiking through a shallow riverbed. </p><p>He is also one of the few restaurant chefs on the island who serve traditional Puerto Rican home cooking: stewed chicken, tostones slathered in garlicky green sauce, vinegary conch salad. El Guayacán feels both of, and for, Vieques — a beacon of purpose that has survived both literal disaster and failed disaster management. I watched an electric-orange sun sink into the Caribbean as the musicians in the restaurant sipped Medalla Lights between sets.</p><p>A few people, reunited for another tourist season, greeted one another in Spanglish — "Hola, welcome back."</p><p><em>A version of this story first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Viva Vieques. </em></p><p><em>In the issue's contributors page, we erroneously referred to the writer and her husband, Chris Bradley, as the owners of the Phoenicia Diner. Mike Cioffi is the owner of the restaurant, where Bradley was chef from 2016 to 2018. Franklin, Bradley, and Cioffi collaborated on the Phoenicia Diner Cookbook, to be released later this year. We regret the error.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

This Gorgeous Cabin Near Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park Is Peak Glamping (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 11:28
<p>Calling all campers: You don't have to rough it when exploring <a href="">Hawaii</a>. There's a luxurious, yet affordable, cabin that's situated right next to <a href="">Volcanoes National Park</a>.</p><p>The beautiful rental, which can be found on Glamping Hub, looks like every outdoorsy traveler’s dream, especially if they like having the comforts of a boutique hotel.</p><p>According to the listing, the cabin is located just five minutes from Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park and three minutes from Volcano Village. In addition, the town of Hilo lies just 40 minutes away, while Kona is around two hours away. <a href="">Glamping</a> has never seemed so convenient for folks who want to spend a few nights on the Big Island.</p><img alt="Interior of cabin rental near a volcano in Hawaii "src=""><p>Surrounded by Ohia trees, this minimal, cozy cabin features an open-plan living room and bedroom, a king-size bed, a sofa bed for additional guests or kids, a small kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, and stove, a washer and dryer, and a gorgeous bathroom with a shower, sink, and toilet, as well as soft towels and linens.</p><p>And just because you’re spending time in the great outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t have ultra-modern amenities. In the living room, you'll find a 55-inch 4K television, Bose Bluetooth speakers, and access to Wi-Fi.</p><p>Outside, there are comfortable deck chairs that are perfect for lounging, reading a book, or enjoying your morning coffee. There’s also a fire pit for a nice night in. Or, you can take a dip in the cabin’s outdoor hot tub.</p><img alt="Vacation cabin rental in Hawaii near volcano "src=""><p>While the space is fantastic for people who want to explore the park, go hiking on the lava fields, or just take in the scenery, guests can also enjoy shopping and see other points of interest in the town of Hilo.</p><p>Overall, the cabin can sleep three people comfortably. Nightly fares start at $393. For more information or to make your booking, visit the <a href="">Glamping Hub website</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Biscayne National Park Is 95% Underwater — and That's Exactly Why You Need to Visit (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 11:01
<p>National parks are among our country’s most treasured assets, but not all of them encompass 173,000 acres of <a href="">coral reefs</a>, tropical islands, mangrove forests, turquoise waters, and 10,000 years of human history. <a href="">Leave it to Florida</a> to give us a perfectly tropical take on national parkland — one you can access only by boat, since 95% of the park is comprised of water.</p><p>You can see the <a href="">Miami</a> skyline from <a href="">Biscayne National Park</a>, part of the chain of <a href="">Florida Keys</a>, and yet visiting feels like stepping onto another planet. Biscayne National Park's snorkeling is some of the nation’s best, complete with colorful coral, shipwrecks, sea life, and more, waiting to be discovered under the surface.</p><p>Planning a visit to Biscayne National Park? Here's everything you need to know before you go. </p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="">More national park trip ideas</a></p><img alt="Overlooking Florida Bay in Biscayne National Park, Florida "src=""><h2>Planning a Trip to Biscayne National Park</h2><p>Located between Miami and the Florida Keys, Biscayne National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and is completely free to visit — there are no entrance fees or passes required. However, the park’s islands, reefs, and other natural attractions are only accessible by boat. <a href="">Guided tours</a> are available.</p><p>The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is located at 9700 SW 328th Street, Sir Lancelot Jones Way, in Homestead, Florida. Spend time learning about the park in the onsite museum, which displays films, a virtual journey through the park’s four ecosystems, and a gallery of work by local artists inspired by the park. Kids can get hands-on at the touch table or begin working toward a junior ranger badge.</p><p>Many boat tours and programs begin at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, and it’s open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.</p><h2>Best Time to Visit Biscayne National Park</h2><p>Thanks to Florida’s year-round sunshine and aversion to winter, there’s no bad time to visit.</p><p>Still, the best time to visit Biscayne National Park depends on your plans: if you want to snorkel or dive, for example, the water is warmest during the summer, and you likely won’t even need a wetsuit. But if you’re more interested in Biscayne National Park camping, Florida summers are known to be sweltering and buggy, so it would be best to visit during cooler months.</p><p>Keep in mind that mosquitoes are a factor year-round, and hurricane season lasts from June to November. Florida is frequently located in the path of hurricanes, so plan accordingly — you can still visit during hurricane season, of course, but come prepared with a backup plan in case a storm forms.</p><img alt="Reef Scene, Biscayne National Park "src=""><h2>Things To Do at Biscayne National Park: Snorkeling, Camping, and More</h2><p>Biscayne National Park is ripe with <a href="">outdoor adventure</a>. After checking out the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, you can boat, <a href="">camp</a>, canoe, kayak, snorkel, wander island trails, take <a href="">fishing classes</a>, or patiently await a wildlife spotting — dolphins, turtles, and many types of birds and fish call the park home.</p><p>The park is composed of a series of small, low-lying, sandy islands called keys. The largest is <a href="">Elliott Key</a>, which was once home to early-Florida pioneers who lived on the island and worked as pineapple farmers, spongers, or wreckers. Today, visitors can camp (there’s an overnight docking fee of $25) or spend the day swimming, hiking, fishing, or picnicking.</p><p>The other campground in Biscayne National Park (there are a total of two) is located on <a href="">Boca Chita Key</a>, the most visited island in the park. Boca Chita Key is home to a 65-foot lighthouse built in the 1930s, which has an observation deck at the top where visitors can enjoy views of the bay and Miami in the distance.</p><p>Biscayne National Park camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping and docking fees are waived every summer from May 1 to September 30, but be prepared to face heavier populations of insects.</p><p>You can also visit <a href="">Adams Key</a>, once a favored retreat for U.S. presidents. Today, it’s open for day use only; you can picnic or explore a hardwood hammock on a short trail.</p><p>The <a href="">Maritime Heritage Trail</a> is the crown jewel of Biscayne National Park snorkeling, an underwater haven for snorkelers and scuba divers alike. Biscayne National Park is the final resting place of many shipwrecks spanning centuries, and the Maritime Heritage Trail is where you can explore their remains. You can also swim around the base of the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, built in 1878 after the nearby wreck of the <em>S.S. Arratoon Apcar</em>.</p><p>Want to add more history into your outdoor adventuring? The <a href="">Jones Family Historic District and Lagoon</a> is a favorite among kayakers. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Jones Family Historic District consists of Porgy Key and Totten Key, where the Jones family grew pineapples and key limes in the 1800s. Upon the sale of their 277 acres, they became millionaires — an uncommon fate for African-Americans in the early twentieth-century American South.</p><p>Another item of interest is a group of seven overwater stilt houses, called Stiltsville, in the northern area of the park. However, Stiltsville is closed to the public.</p><img alt="A colorful sunrise, dramatic clouds, and flight of ibis are reflected in the still waters of Biscayne Bay. "src=""><h2>Where to Stay Near Biscayne National Park</h2><p>Not up for camping at Biscayne National Park? There are plenty of non-tented options nearby, including a range of hotel chains in Homestead, which is a half-hour drive due west of the park.</p><p>Staying in Homestead gives you easy access to off-the-beaten-path Florida gems such as the <a href="">Coral Castle</a> and <a href="">Robert Is Here Fruit Stand</a>, home of the world’s most mouthwatering fresh fruit milkshakes.</p><p>However, to maximize your vacation days, consider staying in Miami or the Keys and making a day trip out of Biscayne National Park. Key Largo is about an hour’s drive south of the park, and it feels a bit like jetting off to a tropical island, no passport required. Or head north to stay in Miami hotspots like Coconut Grove, South Beach, or Key Biscayne, each a little over an hour’s drive from the park.</p>
Categories: Travel

Tennessee Shelter's 'Puppergrams' Will Let an Adorable Puppy Deliver Your Valentine's Day Gift

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 10:30
<p>Forget chocolates and flowers, the best way to show your love is with a <a href="">puppy</a>.</p><p>The Animal Shelter of Sullivan County, located in Blountville, Tennessee, is holding a special fundraising event for <a href="">Valentine’s Day</a> this year. Not only is the shelter offering gifts you can order for your loved ones, but the items will also be delivered by an adorable, adoptable puppy from the shelter.</p><p>In addition to providing a nice gift for your sweetheart, the "Puppergrams" campaign will raise funds to help the shelter run its day-to-day operations. And who knows, maybe you’ll decide to <a href="">foster or adopt</a> your little “puppergram” when you meet them (although that’s not required).</p><p>According to the shelter’s <a href="">Facebook event</a>, locals can donate $75 and have a cute shelter dog deliver a gift to their beloved's workplace. There are two gifts to choose from: a dozen roses with red velvet “pupcakes” or a dozen chocolate-dipped bacon roses with a one-hour axe-throwing pass. The shelter puppies will be accompanied by <a href="">VIPSeen Magazine</a> personalities Whitney Allen Carr or Sherri Jessee.</p><p>There are only a few “puppergrams” available on both Feb. 13 and 14. Twenty-four spots are left for the one dozen roses and "pupcakes" gift, while 12 spots remain for the one dozen bacon roses and axe-throwing option. Only those located in the Bristol and Kingsport areas of Tennessee are eligible for this offer.</p><p>Sadly, this isn’t offered everywhere in the U.S., but we’re glad that a lot of Tennesseans will have an excellent Valentine’s Day.</p><p>In order to get a “puppergram” for your love, you can direct message the <a href="">shelter on Facebook</a> or call (423) 279-2741.</p>
Categories: Travel

These Adventure Socks Are Warm, Comfortable, and Durable — and They Have a Lifetime Guarantee

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 10:30
<p>If you'll be <a href="">hiking</a> or <a href="">spending a lot of time outdoors this season</a>, a <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">solid pair of socks</a> that will keep your feet warm (without overheating) and dry without immediately showing signs of wear is an absolute must-have. For many of us, socks often almost feel disposable, not lasting more than a season. Or, if you're doing some serious outdoor adventuring, they may only last just a few wears. <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Stance</a> is known for creating socks for all kinds of activities that take comfort and durability seriously. The brand's new <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";prefv1=infiknit" target="_blank">INFIKNIT socks</a> are impressively tough (while still remaining soft and comfortable, of course) — they're even <a href="">guaranteed</a> to never rip or tear, and on the off chance that they do, the brand will replace your socks. </p><p><strong>Related: </strong>More <a href="">adventure travel gear</a></p><img alt="Black and Grey Patterned Crew Socks "src=""><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $25</p><p>The <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Range Creek Crew</a> is made with the brand's INFIKNIT and Feel360 technology, meaning that they're designed to be supremely comfortable and durable. They're made with Merino wool, so they'll be sure to keep your feet warm while still being breathable and moisture-wicking. Performance cushioning, arch support, and a seamless toe closure all add to the comfort of these socks. With these <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";lang=default" target="_blank">Adventure Socks</a>, cushioning is strategically-placed to be worn with hiking boots for added comfort and ease of wear. </p><p>In addition to these Adventure Socks, Stance is implementing its new INFIKNIT technology across its line, which includes everything from its <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">lightly-cushioned run socks</a> for men and women to its <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">coziest casual socks</a> that you'll want to lounge in all day.</p><p><em>Love a great deal? <a href=";fm=340&amp;regsource=25567">Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter</a> and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week. </em></p>
Categories: Travel

Keep Your Important Travel Documents Safe and Organized With This Top-rated Passport Pouch

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 10:16
<p>Along with flight delays and long security lines, keeping your important items organized is one of the hardest parts about traveling. Thankfully there are a number of <a href="">travel accessories on the market</a> to help you overcome this, including the <a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlzerogridpassportholderrcarhart0120-20&amp;linkId=3bdc5ccd496982ebce9b19feec92d3f4&amp;language=en_US">Zero Grid Passport Holder</a>. </p><p>Made from a water-resistant, ripstop nylon material, this handy pouch boasts three compartments that are big enough to hold your travel documents, money, passports, credit cards, IDs, and more. It also features durable zippers and a soft strap that can be worn comfortably around your neck or attached to your belt. </p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="">This Top-rated Travel Wallet Comes in 45 Different Colors and Is Less Than $20</a></p><p>Not only will this pouch keep everything organized and in one place, but it will also help thwart pickpockets — it’s virtually undetectable under your clothing when worn around your neck. To protect against virtual pickpockets, the travel essential also has RFID-blocking capabilities to keep your personal information safe and secure. </p><p>With smart details like this, it’s no wonder why over <a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlzerogridpassportholderrcarhart0120-20&amp;linkId=3bdc5ccd496982ebce9b19feec92d3f4&amp;language=en_US">1,600 Amazon customers have given it a perfect five-star rating</a>. “A must-have for traveling,” said one shopper. “Went to Barcelona for business and had many colleagues that were pickpocketed, luckily I planned ahead! Slipped perfect underneath my jacket. Was not ever visible.”</p><p>Another wrote, “[This item] fits everything I need, including my phone. It’s very comfortable around my neck, which is a big deal for me because I don't even like wearing a necklace. It is also very sturdy...if you're going on I trip soon I definitely recommend!”</p><p>Perhaps the best part? The pouch comes with travel insurance free of charge. If any items are stolen from it, the brand will reimburse you up to $300. Which in our opinion, makes this $19 passport pouch a very sound investment. </p><img alt="Zero Grid Neck Wallet w/RFID Blocking Concealed Travel Pouch "src=""><p>To buy: <a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlzerogridpassportholderrcarhart0120-20&amp;linkId=3bdc5ccd496982ebce9b19feec92d3f4&amp;language=en_US"></a>, $19</p><p><em>Love a great deal? <a href=";fm=340&amp;regsource=25567">Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter</a> and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

This Hotel Will Plan Your Entire Vacation Around Your Zodiac Sign (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 10:07
<p>If you’ve already downloaded The Pattern, Co-Star, and DailyHoroscope, check each one religiously, and know exactly which phase of the moon you were born under, then it’s time for you to visit the W Los Angeles - West Beverly Hills, too.</p><p>In February, the hotel announced its new Zodiac Guide to <a href="">Los Angeles</a> package in partnership with <a href="">Susan Miller</a>, an astrology expert and founder of the cult-favorite website and app, Astrology Zone.</p><p>Guests who visit the hotel and book the <a href="">zodiac</a> package will receive a Los Angeles city guide tailored to their individual star sign. They’ll also receive a <a href="">Slip</a> zodiac sleep mask as well as an Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil turndown amenity to help get a peaceful night of sleep, so they can make the most of their personalized trip.</p><img alt="W Hotel Los Angeles West Beverly Hills Zodiac package "src=""><p>Want a taste of what the guides look like?</p><p>For example, an Aries trip is tailored to the sign’s love of freedom and adventure.</p><p>“Your ruler, Mars, is the warrior planet, and has blessed you with a zesty love of experience. Bored easily, you constantly seek a bigger, better challenge,” the guide explains. “For you, dear Aries, R&amp;R involves activities that are nothing like your everyday routine. That daring spirit and desire for perpetual accomplishment could lead an Aries straight into an exhilarating adventure at Universal Studios, where you’ll likely end up experiencing the height of L.A. filmmaking in a single afternoon.”</p><p>Other stops for those under the Aries sign include Bay Cities for a delicious sandwich to go along with a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Then, head out for a hike in Temescal Canyon before stopping in for a glass of wine at the Rosenthal Wine Bar. Before going back, guests are encouraged to check out the Hollywood Bowl to take in a show.</p><p>And that’s just a glimpse from one of the star signs covered in the guide. Get your own personal guide by <a href="">booking a stay now</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Luxury Tree House in the African Bush Will Get You Closer to Nature Than Ever Before

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 09:31
<p>A vacation should feel like an escape. However, in our ever-connected world, it can be tough to find a place where you can truly get away from it all. Luckily, <a href="">andBeyond</a> is here to help.</p><p>The travel company, which curates high-end personalized tours in Africa, Asia, and South America, recently unveiled its brand-new <a href="">Ngala Treehouse</a>, located three miles away from the nearest lodge and nestled about 39 feet in the air in the South African bush, along the border of <a href="">Kruger National Park</a>.</p><img alt="andBeyond Ngala Treehouse at night under the stars "src=""><p>The tree house, which officially opened in Feb. 2020, is offered through stays at andBeyond's Ngala Safari Lodge and Ngala Tented Camp.</p><p>It is fully solar-powered, but comes with no cell phone service or Wi-Fi, meaning you can completely unplug.</p><p>Fear not, however, as the tree house does feature plenty of other upscale amenities, including a rooftop deck with an outdoor bed and lounge for alfresco sundowners (a.k.a. happy hour drinks) and enough space for dinner for two, so guests can watch the animals cruise by from a safe distance.</p><p>The tree house also has an indoor bedroom, in addition to a full bathroom with an outdoor shower. A stocked bar and jars of midnight snacks are available, too.</p><img alt="andBeyond Ngala Treehouse bedroom and stairs "src=""><img alt="andBeyond Ngala Treehouse bathroom "src=""><p>To stay in the tree house, couples pack an overnight bag and get a personal escort along with a small private game drive to the accommodations. And, if they sit on the deck long enough, they could see the Big Five wander past.</p><p>To book the tree house, guests must first book a stay at the Ngala Safari Lodge or Ngala Tented Camp. Don’t worry, though, as both of those properties come with more than enough luxury amenities and animal sightings to satisfy you, too.</p>
Categories: Travel

Australia’s Newest National Park Has Sea Lions, 90 Species of Seabirds, and Some of the Clearest Water on Earth (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 09:23
<p>Pristine blue waters and gorgeous <a href="">coral</a> make the Houtman Abrolhos islands off the coast of <a href="">Western Australia</a> a site to behold. And now, the dazzling islands have become Australia’s latest national park.</p><p>The islands — which were first discovered about 400 years ago by Dutch explorer Frederik de Houtman, <a href="">according to the <i>Australian Broadcasting Corporation</i></a> — sit off the coast of Geraldton just under 260 miles north of <a href="">Perth</a>, are surrounded by crystal clear water and is home to 90 species of seabirds as well as the Australian sea lion.</p><img alt="Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia "src=""><p>"The story of the Batavia and the Abrolhos islands is one of the most remarkable stories in the history of this country," Premier Mark McGowan told the <i>ABC</i>. "To have been there, as I have, and to see the spot and see the beauty of the Abrolhos islands, I think it is entirely appropriate that we declare the Abrolhos a national park… Making sure they are protected is the real key to the Abrolhos.”</p><p>The new designation for the island archipelago allows the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, to encourage sustainable tourism, <a href="">according to <i>Australian Geographic</i></a>. The government has committed to spending $10 AUD million to upgrade infrastructure, including boardwalks and an airstrip.</p><img alt="Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia "src=""><p>“A biologist I met many years ago described the islands to me as Australia’s <a href="">Galapagos</a>,” Dr. Chris Surman, a marine ecologist, told <i>Australian Geographic</i>, adding that it’s the furthest north Australian <a href="">sea lions</a> will go.</p><p>The environment is helped by the Leeuwin Current, which brings tropical water south and then mixes with other currents. According to <i>Australian Geographic</i>, this causes nutrient upwelling.</p><p>“This is pretty much the most important seabird breeding place in Australia and, so far, it has not received much attention,” Surman said.</p><p>Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn told <i>ABC</i> that the designation was “one of the hugest announcements we are going to see, it is going to take 10 years but it is going to be big.”</p><p> </p>
Categories: Travel

Virgin Voyages Is Swapping Key Cards for Bands Made From Recycled Ocean Plastic

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 09:04
<p>Richard Branson’s cruise line, Virgin Voyages, is taking their sustainability ethos one step further by having guests use bracelets made from recycled ocean plastic in place of key cards. </p><p>The bands, made in partnership with engineering company BIONIC Yarn, can be used to open cabins, board the ship, and even ensure that servers can find you for <a href="">Champagne on demand</a> when the Scarlet Lady sets sail on April 1. </p><p>“The Band will be our seamless and worry-free way for Sailors to not only unlock their cabin with ease, but to explore all of the thrills and great experiences that Scarlet Lady and the rest of our fleet will have to offer,” Tom McAlpin, the CEO of Virgin Voyages, <a href="">said in a statement,</a> adding that the band “marries sustainability with smarts and style, which is quintessentially Virgin.”</p><img alt="The Band "src=""><p>The rope for the band is made from material that includes six grams of marine and coastal plastic — or equal to half of a plastic water bottle.</p><p>The band will also be used to make any onboard purchases or pay for games at the casino. Passengers — or “Sailors,” as Virgin calls them — will receive the band in the mail before their trip. The company will also introduce a “Sailor App,” which passengers can use to check in or book shore excursions.</p><p>In addition to getting rid of plastic keycards, <a href="">Virgin Voyages</a> has banned all single-use plastics (like straws, water bottles, and shopping bags), <a href="">won’t have buffets</a> to eliminate food waste and is using things like LED lights and room sensors to minimize energy use.</p><p>The Scarlet Lady will sail from <a href="">Miami</a> to the Caribbean this spring. Its second ship, the Valiant Lady, will set sail in 2021 on a seven-night Mediterranean itinerary out of <a href="">Barcelona</a>, Spain.</p>
Categories: Travel

Everlane’s New Rain Jackets Are Lightweight, Packable, and Refreshingly Stylish

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 07:16
<p>In most climates, a <a href="">rain jacket</a> is a wardrobe essential, although it's probably never been the most stylish piece in your closet. However, that's all about to change thanks to Everlane's <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">ReNew Rain</a> collection. In typical <a href="">Everlane</a> fashion, the brand just released a new style of rain jacket and restocked a classic, bringing its sleek, clean style to even the most utilitarian of <a href="">wardrobe staples</a>. </p><p>Everlane's <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">ReNew Windbreaker</a> and <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Anorak</a> are both water-resistant jackets that will keep you dry without sacrificing style. And as with many of Everlane's pieces, both jackets are made from 100% recycled fabric. Whether you're looking for a new everyday jacket or a piece to easily pack in your suitcase for an upcoming trip, these new styles from Everlane might just be exactly what you're looking for. </p><p><strong>Related: </strong>More <a href="">weather-resistant apparel</a></p><h2>The Women's ReNew Windbreaker</h2><img alt="Pale Yellow Windbreaker Rain Jacket "src=""><p>This water-resistant windbreaker jacket is the perfect sporty piece to throw on over any outfit on a rainy day. It features a hood with an adjustable drawstring, double zipped front, an adjustable waist, so you can customize the fit of the jacket to make it more comfortable and to fit your style. It comes in four gorgeous colors: Canvas (light cream), Hemp (pale yellow), Midnight (black), and Light Sage (muted green). </p><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $78</p><h2>The Women's ReNew Anorak</h2><img alt="Blue Long Anorak Rain Jacket "src=""><p>If a longer rain jacket is more your style, you're in luck, since Everlane's ReNew Anorak is back in stock. This elevated take on the classic anorak features both zippered and snap closures. It also has front flap pockets, a hood with an adjustable drawstring, and a slightly defined waist for just enough shape to make it flattering. This style is available in Dusty Blue, Light Taupe, Dark Green, Royal Blue, Canvas, and Midnight. </p><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $88</p><p><em>Love a great deal? <a href=";fm=340&amp;regsource=25567">Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter</a> and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.</em></p>
Categories: Travel

Stargaze in the Atacama Desert and Sip Argentinian Wines With This Over-the-top Private Jet Experience for Valentine’s Day

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 06:18
<p>Looking up at the stars from the unpolluted dark skies of the <a href="">Atacama Desert</a> and sipping top-notch wine seems like an ideal way to spend Valentine’s Day. But living out this dream in a <a href="">private jet</a> makes an already over-the-top experience even more perfect.</p><p>Private charter jet company <a href="">VistaJet</a> is offering an “Infinite Skies” package combining luxury with adventure by whisking you off to the arid landscape and breathtaking night skies of the <a href="">famous desert</a> in northern Chile. While there, travelers can go on an adventure ride on a 4x4 to the Valley of the Moon where an expansive landscape makes it feel as if you’ve gone further than just <a href="">Chile</a>. </p><p>Matteo Atti, the executive vice president of marketing and innovation for VistaJet, told <em>Travel + Leisure</em> that the package was created so people could “explore some of the most incredible destinations on Earth” together. And while it’s certainly not cheap, with a starting price of $40,000, the luxurious experience is certainly once-in-a-lifetime.</p><p>“This year, we’d love to offer you and your partner a chance to look at space with new eyes and celebrate at altitude,” Atti said.</p><p>After spending Valentine’s Day stargazing at the <a href="">Milky Way</a>, Atti said you’ll jet off to Argentina where you can raise a toast to the one you love with a behind-the-scenes wine tour at Argentina’s high-altitude winery Cheval des Andes. A private horseback ride then combines the gorgeous vistas with equally majestic animals.</p><p>VistaJet, founded in 2004, offers customers every luxury from cashmere eye masks and socks to Egyptian cotton bed linen and cashmere blankets for the ultimate in comfort. </p><p>And as if traveling in style wasn’t enough, settling in to one of the plush suites at the <a href="">Viña Vik</a> vineyard in Chile, surrounded by imposing mountains all around with the chance to treat yourself to a massage using grapes that are grown on the property, will certainly check off any romanticized notions of Valentine’s Day you may have.</p>
Categories: Travel

LAX Wants 500 People to Act Like Bad Customers to Test Out Its New Concourse

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 17:44
<p>Have you ever been an impossible passenger or had a meltdown at the airport? Now, <a href="">Los Angeles International Airport</a> is asking you to do just that — on purpose this time.</p><p>The airport is looking for 500 people to pretend to need extra assistance, be sick, or <a href="">just act difficult</a> to test out its new Midfield Satellite Concourse, which is set to open this summer, the <a href=""><em>Los Angeles Times</em> reported</a>. This test will be the first time the airport has conducted a full Operation Readiness and Transition drill.</p><img alt="LAX Airport Midfield Satellite Concourse rendering "src=""><p>“We are going to write scenarios to check the processes that happen on a given day,” Robert L. Gilbert, a strategic advisor at the Los Angeles World Airports, told the outlet. “With 150 to 300 people going through the...concourse, some will be in wheelchairs, some will be young people racing for the gate, some will be elderly.”</p><p>The 750,000-square-foot concourse will be accessed by an underground tunnel, as it is not connected to other terminals, <a href=""><em>The Points Guy</em> reported</a>. It will have 12 gates at first, and potentially grow up to 15 eventually. The concourse will feature large panoramic windows for plenty of natural light and be shaped like an ocean swell (to complement the roof of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which looks like a breaking wave).</p><img alt="LAX Airport Midfield Satellite Concourse rendering "src=""><p>Volunteers will be asked to <a href="">fill out a survey</a> and, if picked, will be emailed their characters the day before the test, according to the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>. The drill is set to take place about six weeks before the concourse opens.</p><p>“We simulate that this is a peak hour, peak day, peak month,” Gilbert said. “This is where our volunteers are very important.”</p><p>The <a href="">airport</a> hopes to test everything from emergency responses to how concession workers operate, the <em>Los Angeles Times </em>reported, noting scenarios could include a plane blocking a gate for incoming flights, a passenger breaking their leg, or a child getting lost.</p>
Categories: Travel

Cathay Pacific Employees Asked to Go 3 Weeks Without Pay Due to Coronavirus (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 17:09
<p>Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is asking its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave between March 1 and the end of June, due to a “significant” drop in demand for flights following the coronavirus outbreak, <a href=""><em>CNN</em> reported</a>.</p><p>The airline is also implementing hiring freezes, asking suppliers for price reductions, and stopping all non-critical spending, chief executive Augustus Tang told employees in a video, <a href="">according to <em>Reuters</em></a>.</p><p>“This has been one of the most difficult Chinese New Year holidays we have ever had,” Tang said in the video. “We don’t know how long this will last. With such an uncertain outlook, preserving our cash is now the key to protecting our business.”</p><img alt="Cathay Pacific plane in Hong Kong "src=""><p>Over the next two months, Cathay Pacific will cut about 30 percent of its flights, including 90 percent of trips to mainland China.</p><p>The airline also asked employees to take unpaid time off in 2009, after the global financial crisis. A similar situation occurred in 2003 during the SARS outbreak, from which the airline was able to recover.</p><p>Cathay Pacific has been fighting a rough year, with demand for flights to Hong Kong already impacted during <a href="">the protests that broke out</a> during the summer and severely affected Hong Kong International Airport. In December, the airline reported that it only transported half the number of inbound passengers that it had in the same month the year before.</p><p>Amid the coronavirus outbreak, <a href="">several airlines around the world have stopped flying to China</a> until the epidemic calms down.</p>
Categories: Travel

One Man Swam Under the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Highlight the ‘Climate Emergency’ the World Faces

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 16:48
<p>Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh submerged himself in the freezing waters of <a href="">Antarctica</a> and swam underneath the ice sheet — a feat he says he was only able to accomplish because of climate change.</p><p>Pugh, 50, is known for raising awareness for climate change by undertaking daring swims in Arctic waters, <a href=""><em>CNN </em>reported</a>. But on Jan. 23, he took it one step further and became the first person to swim in a supraglacial lake, or a lake formed by <a href="">ice melting</a> on top of a glacier.</p><p>“Swimming under the Antarctic ice sheet is the most beautiful and terrifying swim I’ve ever done,” Pugh, who made his way through a tunnel of blue water accented by icy spikes, <a href="">wrote on Instagram</a>. “Every shade of blue, and then nearly complete darkness. Mid-way I heard an almighty boom above me, and thought my time had come. Luckily, it was just the ice shifting.”</p><img alt="Climate Activist and Swimmer, Lewis Pugh, swims glacier lake in East Antarctica "src=""><p>Pugh told <em>CNN</em> that he shouldn’t have been able to <a href="">swim</a> in such an environment, but due to cracks in the glacier, it was possible. He also told the network his motivation for the chilly swim came from a Sept. 2019 study, which found more than 65,000 supraglacial lakes on East Antarctica's ice sheet.</p><p>Alongside an <a href="">Instagram photo</a> showing a bird's-eye view of stunningly blue water snaking through snow and ice, Pugh wrote, “I swam here in East Antarctica to bring you this message: Having witnessed the rapid melting in this region, I have no doubt whatsoever that we are now facing a climate emergency.”</p><p>He added in a <a href="">separate post</a>: “It may seem shocking that someone would be able to swim in a river that runs under the ice sheet, but that’s the point. Antarctica is melting. Scientists have discovered over 65,000 supraglacial lakes in this region alone.”</p><p>Pugh first trained in a smaller river on the continent before hiking to the site of his swim with a group of French mountaineers. While he was submerged in the water, which was just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, Pugh <a href="">told the <em>BBC</em></a> that he could see meltwater everywhere.</p><p>The swim took just over 10 minutes.</p><p>Following his swim, he was helped to safety by senator Slava Fetisov from Russia, according to the swimmer.</p>
Categories: Travel

How to Get the Most Out of Your United MileagePlus Frequent-flier Miles

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 13:37
<p>Tom Stuker, the world’s most frequent flier, expects to hit 22 million miles with United’s MileagePlus program later this year. While no one has been able to match Stuker's mileage, if you’re a U.S.-based traveler, you should still consider United MileagePlus as one of your <a href="">main loyalty programs</a>.</p><p>Not only can you earn and redeem MileagePlus miles across United’s own vast global network, but you can also do so on flights with the airline's 30-plus partners. Here’s what else you need to know to make the most of the program.</p><img alt="United Airlines MileagePlus "src=""><h2>United MileagePlus Program Overview</h2><p>United launched its frequent-flier program back in 1981 and called it Mileage Plus. Following United’s merger with Continental in 2011, the two airlines adopted United’s loyalty program and conflated it to MileagePlus, which is still the name it goes by today. Since then, however, MileagePlus has undergone some dramatic changes, which are worth explaining.</p><h2>How to Earn United Miles</h2><p>Like most airlines, United has plenty of partnerships, both with other carriers and companies in general. That means there are a myriad of ways for consumers to earn MileagePlus miles beyond simply flying. Let’s start with flights, though.</p><p>The principal way many MileagePlus members earn miles is by taking flights with United as well as its Star Alliance and other airline partners. Until a few years ago, fliers would earn these miles based on the distance of a flight and the fare class in which they purchased a ticket. This is still the case when buying airline tickets on United’s partners, if your ticket is not purchased through United.</p><p>In 2015, however, United overhauled how members earn miles. Now, folks <a href="">earn between five and 11 award miles</a> (these are the miles you can redeem toward free tickets) per dollar spent on United airfares. How many miles per dollar you earn depends on your elite status level with the airline.</p><p>These earning rates apply to United flights purchased directly from the airline or through online travel agencies like Expedia, as well as tickets on partner airlines so long as they are booked through United and feature a United ticket number (starting with 016). So, if you’re looking to accrue United award miles on flights, it’s safest to purchase tickets directly from United.</p><p>If you can’t do that, though, don’t worry. You can still earn award miles on partner flights ticketed elsewhere. You’ll just need to check the <a href=";int_medium=uacom&amp;int_campaign=mpearnpage&amp;partner_name=airlinepartners_category&amp;asset_type=mpearn_link&amp;launch_date=2017-08-01">partner earning page</a> for the specific airline you plan to fly.</p><p>Because United MileagePlus earning is now based on how much you spend on airfare rather than the distance of your flight, it’s harder to rack up tens of thousands of award miles on inexpensive <a href="">long-haul tickets</a>. Instead, the cheapest and fastest way to amass miles quickly is to get a United co-branded <a href="">credit card</a>.</p><p>The most popular product is probably Chase’s United Explorer card. Its sign-up bonus typically ranges from 40,000 to 70,000 bonus miles for spending $2,000 to $8,000 in the first three months. Your mileage may vary, so be sure to double check the details of any offer for which you apply. The card earns two miles per dollar on United purchases, at restaurants, and on hotel stays. Its annual fee is $95 per year, though this is sometimes waived in the first year.</p><p>The more premium United Club card, whose annual fee is $450, comes with access to United Clubs at airports. Its sign-up bonus is usually around 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. The card earns two miles per dollar on United purchases, and one and a half miles per dollar on everything else.</p><p>Finally, in 2017, the airline introduced a new product with no annual fee called the United TravelBank card. Rather than airline miles, however, this card earns one and a half to two percent cash back, which can be redeemed for future United ticket purchases. So, if miles are your motivator, this might not be the best choice.</p><p>United also recently announced that its miles will <a href="">no longer expire</a>, meaning you do not have to fly frequently or use a co-branded credit card in order to keep your account active.</p><img alt="United Airlines lounge at airport "src=""><h2>How to Redeem United Miles</h2><p>The other part of the mileage equation is where the fun really begins: redeeming miles for free flights, among other options.</p><p>United is currently shifting to a dynamic pricing model for award tickets, meaning the number of miles you will need to redeem for a free flight will be more directly tied to the price of paid airfares. In other words, the more expensive the ticket costs in dollars, the more miles you can expect to redeem for it.</p><p>For now, though, the airline continues to publish an <a href="">award chart</a> for partner flights that you can use as a rough benchmark for how much awards should cost. The mileage prices are based on which regions you are visiting, such as the continental U.S., Europe, and southern South America (including Argentina and Chile).</p><p>To find out how many miles you will need for a specific redemption, click on the region you'll be starting in and then look up the mileage requirement in your destination region. For example, flights from the mainland U.S., Alaska, and Canada to Australia and New Zealand are 40,000 miles each way in economy, while those to Europe are 30,000 miles each way.</p><p>While award charts are helpful, you will probably find it easiest to simply search for the specific award you would like on <a href=""></a>. Enter your city pairs, select whether you want to travel one way or round-trip, and add your dates of travel. Be sure to click the box labeled “book with miles” before searching.</p><p>This should pull up results on your dates as well as display prices for the surrounding days in a tab at the top. You can also look at award prices by calendar month, which makes it easier to see which dates have the lowest-priced awards.</p><p>In general, saver-level awards in business or first class on United and its partners will generally yield the best value for your miles. United’s site is good about pulling in award inventory for flights on its Star Alliance partners, such as Air Canada and Lufthansa, as well as non-alliance partners like Aer Lingus, so it can be your one-stop shop for award searches.</p><p>Aside from award tickets, United MileagePlus miles can be <a href="">redeemed</a> for <a href=";int_medium=uacom&amp;int_campaign=mpusepage&amp;asset_type=mpuse_link&amp;POS=US">upgrades</a>, United Club <a href="">membership</a>,<a href=""> merchandise</a>,<a href=""> gift cards</a>,<a href=";utm_source=Partner&amp;utm_medium=clientsite&amp;utm_campaign=61082&amp;utm_content=Impression"> magazine subscriptions</a>, <a href=";int_medium=uacom&amp;int_campaign=mpusepage&amp;asset_type=mpuse_link">events and experiences</a>, vacation packages, <a href=";;utm_campaign=usemilespage&amp;utm_content=cruises">cruises</a> on over 24 lines, and even <a href="">charitable donations</a>, among many other options. However, non-travel redemptions tend to offer a poor value, so avoid them, if possible.</p><h2>United Airlines Partners</h2><p>United MileagePlus has many partnerships, both with other airlines as well as through merchant and dining networks where members can earn and/or redeem miles.</p><p>United is a member of Star Alliance, and it has over 30 alliance and non-alliance <a href=";int_medium=uacom&amp;int_campaign=mpearnpage&amp;partner_name=airlinepartners_category&amp;asset_type=mpearn_link&amp;launch_date=2017-08-01">airline partners</a>, including:</p>Aegean AirlinesAir CanadaAir ChinaAir IndiaAir New ZealandAll Nippon AirwaysAsiana AirlinesAustrian AirlinesAviancaBrussels AirlinesCopa AirlinesCroatia AirlinesEgyptAirEthiopian AirlinesEVA AirLOT Polish AirlinesLufthansaSASShenzhen AirlinesSingapore AirlinesSouth African AirwaysSwiss International AirlinesTAP Air PortugalThai AirwaysTurkish AirlinesAer LingusAeromarAir DolomitiAzul Brazilian AirlinesBoutique AirCape AirEdelweiss AirEurowingsHawaiian AirlinesOlympic AirSilver AirwaysJuneyao Air<p>Check the partner page of the specific carrier you plan to fly to verify the mileage earning rates on it. For instance, most tickets on Air Canada earn between 25 and 200 percent of mileage flown, while Singapore Airlines tickets earn between zero and 200 percent of mileage flown. In other words, which carrier and what fare class you purchase can really make a difference.</p><p>Apart from other airlines, MileagePlus <a href="">members can earn</a> bonus miles on travel reservations booked through <a href=";int_medium=uacom&amp;int_campaign=mpearnpage&amp;partner_name=unitedvacations_link&amp;asset_type=mpearn_link&amp;launch_date=2017-08-01">United Vacations</a>, and earn or redeem on cruises booked through <a href=";;utm_campaign=20170701&amp;utm_content=partner_earn_page&amp;int_source=loy&amp;int_medium=uacom&amp;int_campaign=mpearnpage&amp;partner_name=unitedcruises_link&amp;asset_type=mpearn_link&amp;launch_date=2017-08-01">United Cruises</a>. They can also enjoy various discounts and mileage bonuses on<a href=""> car rentals</a> booked through partners like Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty. Members can also earn on stays booked with various <a href="">hotel partners</a>.</p><p>United fields an online retail portal called <a href="">MileagePlus Shopping</a> through which members can earn thousands of bonus miles. To take advantage of it, you need to log into MileagePlus Shopping using your United account credentials. From there, browse the various merchants that are offering bonus miles per dollar spent. This includes retailers like Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, Walmart, J. Crew, and Macy’s, among hundreds of others. Click on the one you want, and you'll be redirected to their homepage, where you can shop as usual. Your purchases should rack up the bonus miles automatically.</p><p>Through <a href="">MileagePlus Dining</a>, members can register their account along with a credit card and earn between three and five miles per dollar at thousands of participating restaurants.</p><p>Finally, United MileagePlus is a transfer partner of <a href="">Chase Ultimate Rewards</a>. If you earn points with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, you can convert your points to United miles instantly at a ratio of one to one. That is a handy way to top up your account. You can also transfer points in from your Marriott Bonvoy account, but this is not usually a great value.</p><h2>United MileagePlus Benefits and Elite Status</h2><p>United customers who spend a lot on airfare each year can earn elite, or Premier, status, which provides benefits like upgrades, free checked bags, priority boarding, and more. The airline <a href="">completely changed</a> how status is earned for 2020, but here are the basics.</p><p>The Premier program is split into four tiers of elite status. In order to reach any of them, you must hit certain flight and spending thresholds within a calendar year. If you do, you can enjoy the benefits for the remainder of the year in which you earn status, as well as through the following year until the elite program resets every Feb. 1.</p><p>For every flight segment, which means one takeoff and landing, MileagePlus members will earn one Premier-qualifying Flight (PQF) credit. Most paid fares, except for basic economy, will earn one PQF per segment flown, regardless of the cabin class.</p><p>Fliers also earn one Premier-qualifying Point (PQP) for every U.S. dollar spent on airfare (not taxes and fees). This earning rate does not vary based on the fare class, so business-class tickets will not net you more PQPs per dollar than a basic economy fare. Fliers earn PQPs for other purchases as well, like preferred seating assignment fees and paid upgrades.</p><p>Premier Silver requires earning either 12 PQFs and 4,000 PQPs, or 5,000 PQPs only. Benefits at this level include earning seven award miles per dollar instead of five on airfare, complimentary upgrades and complimentary Economy Plus at check-in, access to preferred seating assignments at booking, priority boarding, and a free checked bag. Fees for things like changing or canceling award bookings are reduced.</p><p>In addition to those benefits, Premier Gold members earn eight miles per dollar, can select Economy Plus seats at the time of booking, and have a shot at upgrading up to 48 hours before their flight. They also enjoy discounted or waived same-day change fees as well as two free checked bags. To reach this level, you need to rack up 24 PQFs and 8,000 PQPs, or just 10,000 PQPs.</p><p>The next level, Premier Platinum, is reached at 36 PQFs and 12,000 PQPs, or 15,000 PQPs alone. These elites have a better chance at upgrades up to 72 hours out, up to three free checked bags, and earn nine miles per dollar. They also receive PlusPoints that can be redeemed for confirmed upgrades. Members at this level who link their frequent-flier number to their Marriott Bonvoy account receive automatic Gold elite status with that program, too.</p><p>United’s top-tier status is Premier 1K. To reach it, you must earn 54 PQFs and 18,000 PQPs, or 24,000 PQPs alone. That equates to spending $18,000 to $24,000 on airfare each year. At this level, you receive even more PlusPoints, which can be redeemed for flying up front on longer international routes. Most ticketing and change fees are waived altogether, and members earn 11 miles per dollar spent on tickets. There is a higher level called <a href="">Global Services</a>, but this is reserved for high-spending frequent fliers and does not have published qualification requirements.</p><h2>Pros and Cons of United MileagePlus</h2><p>United MileagePlus has plenty of compelling features. The carrier’s own extensive route network, its many airline and non-airline partners, and its popular credit cards all make it easy to rack up award miles quickly. Frequent fliers who qualify for elite status can also look forward to benefits like priority services at the airport, seat upgrades, and earning bonuses. The recent removal of mileage expiration is another point in its favor.</p><p>On the other hand, MileagePlus has consistently and dramatically raised its award prices in recent years, and fliers can only expect them to get even more expensive if and when the airline switches to a dynamic pricing model. Calculating mileage earning and Premier qualification based on partner flight activity can also be tricky for neophytes and road warriors alike.</p><h2>How to Sign Up for United MileagePlus</h2><p><a href="">Enrolling</a> in United MileagePlus is fast and easy. All you need is an email address and a few basic details in order to start participating and earning.</p>
Categories: Travel

Four Boutique Hotels For Your Next Bahamas Getaway

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 12:01
<p>September’s <a href="" target="_blank">Hurricane Dorian</a> was the worst to ever hit this archipelago, but what many people might not know: while Grand Bahama and the Abacos face years of rebuilding, the storm left most of the archipelago's 700 islands untouched. <a href="">Tourist dollars go a long way</a> toward the northern islands’ recovery — and it's an exciting time to <a href="">visit the Bahamas</a>, thanks to a group of recently arrived and renovated indie hotels that channel the pride of their owners.</p><h2>North Andros</h2><p>After Dorian, the team behind family-run <a href="" target="_blank">Kamalame Cay</a> raised more than $30,000 for the affected communities, gathering food and supplies and offering employment opportunities to those who were displaced. And the storm didn’t stop owners David and Michael King-Hew from moving forward with regular improvements: they opened two new villas in 2019, with 10 more in the works for later this year.</p><img alt="Looking into the living room area of Island House, a boutique hotel in the Bahamas "src=""><h2>New Providence</h2><p>With a Zen temple aesthetic, an in-house wine label, and an art-house cinema, the 30-room <a href="" target="_blank">Island House</a> provides a more intimate atmosphere than Nassau’s larger beach resorts. Guests have exclusive access to a private beach club nearby, but if that feels too crowded, have the staff arrange an overnight to <a href="" target="_blank">Highbourne Cay</a>, their private island in the Exumas.</p><img alt="A large, soft white suite at Caerula Mar resort in the Bahamas "src=""><h2>South Andros</h2><p>In 2016, HGTV Canada stars Bryan and Sarah Baeumler purchased a 1960s-era resort and began transforming it into the 24-key <a href="" target="_blank">Caerula Mar</a>, which opened last month. Spread across ten beachfront acres, it’s the island’s first new hotel in nearly 20 years — and the owners have already seen it bringing new life to this once-sleepy area, with infrastructure updates and new local businesses like conch shacks and bone-fishing charters.</p><img alt="Exterior of a white tented building on the grounds of The Other Side luxury camping in the Bahamas "src=""><h2>Eleuthera</h2><p>“Solar-powered safari camp” might not be your first thought when planning an island vacay — but the <a href="" target="_blank">Other Side</a>, on one of the country’s least developed “out islands,” is not your usual beach hotel. A stay here is barefoot luxury incarnate, with outdoor bathtubs, in-room massages, and access to the property’s 30-foot Hinckley yacht. The three tented suites and and three hilltop cottages (they call them “shacks”) will soon be joined by three new villas, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the sea.</p><p><em>A version of this story first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Boutique Bahamas. </em></p>
Categories: Travel

Target Is Launching a Trendy New Travel Line With Luggage, Backpacks, Duffels, and Even Packing Cubes

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 11:31
<p>When you think of <a href="">stylish luggage</a>, you probably think of expensive, high-end brands that require quite an investment. However, <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Target</a> is here to change the luggage game with its new Open Story line, a collection of on-trend luggage and <a href="">travel gear</a> that takes quality seriously while sticking to an affordable price point. </p><p>The mega-retailer already has quite the selection of <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">affordable luggage</a> in stores and online, although this new collection brings style and affordability together in a new way. The line includes 40 pieces, ranging in price from $20 for a hardside cosmetic case to $180 for a checked rolling suitcase. </p><img alt="Small Gold and Large Silver/Grey Suitcases "src=""><p><strong>Related: </strong>More <a href="">travel essentials</a> </p><p><em>Travel + Leisure </em>got the chance to speak with Julie Guggemos, Target's senior vice president of product design and brand management, about the new launch, which will be available in Target stores Feb. 9 and online Feb. 13. </p><p>Why did Target decide to enter into the competitive ring of stylish, trend-focused luggage? "The inspiration behind Open Story came directly from our guests and understanding that they are prioritizing travel and experiences more than ever before," Guggemos said. According to Guggemos, the new line caters to Target customers' on-the-go lifestyle with "stylish, functional luggage that doesn’t compromise on quality," and is 25-30% less expensive than luggage from comparable brands. </p><p>The collection includes hardside suitcases, as well as multiple sizes and styles of backpacks and duffel bags. The line's accessories include a set of packing cubes, cosmetic case, and RFID-blocking travel wallet. The luggage itself comes in two sizes, which includes a carry-on and checked suitcase that will retail for $150 and $180, respectively. Built-in TSA-approved locks, a USB port, and silent 360-degree spinner wheels prove quality is key. </p><p>The different styles of backpacks for men and women can be used for everyday use, commuting, and travel. Both neutral and bold colorways let these bags cater to your own personal travel style. </p><img alt="Two Women's Backpacks in Pink Light Pink and Green "src=""><p>Duffel, weekender, and garment bags also join the ranks of suitcases and backpacks, perfect for short trips or weekend travel. </p><img alt="Black and Grey Men's Backpack and Duffel "src=""><p>"We designed the entire line to include signature details that accommodate an array of travelers’ needs, whether they’re flying halfway around the world or catching a train to the next city over," Guggemos said.</p><p>So whether you pick up a new set of packing cubes or update your luggage collection completely, Open Story's comprehensive collection has a wide variety of options that won't hurt your wallet. Check back here on Feb. 13 to shop our favorites.</p><p><em>Love a great deal? <a href=";fm=340&amp;regsource=25567">Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter</a> and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week. </em></p>
Categories: Travel

12 Jobs to Apply to Right Now If You Want to Travel More (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 10:59
<p>Why do you work? To pay off student loans or to fund your <a href="">kids’ education</a>? Because you love what you do? There are a lot of factors that weigh into your choice or need to work — and according to FlexJobs, travel is one of them. An impressive <a href="">54 percent</a> of survey respondents told FlexJobs they work because they want to travel, yet a staggering 5 percent of <a href="">remote jobs</a> can actually be done from anywhere in the world.</p><p>“For a variety of reasons such as employment and tax law, the vast majority of remote jobs include a <a href="">geographic requirement</a>, but thanks to technology and the increasing global adoption of remote work across industries, the marketplace of work-from-anywhere jobs is very healthy going into 2020,” said Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.</p><img alt="Woman working remotely while camping on beach "src=""><p>To offer you a leg up in your search for that remote or travel-friendly job, our friends at <a href="">LinkedIn</a> have compiled a list of international-based gigs, remote positions, and U.S.-based jobs that require international travel. While not all of these jobs can be done from anywhere in the world, they all provide a <a href="">freedom to travel</a> that you won’t find in your standard 9-to-5 office gig. And the best part is that they’re all available right now.</p><h2>Global Events Manager, MEF Forum</h2><p>If you’re a natural leader with stellar organization and communication skills, this position at MEF Forum may be the perfect fit. As the <a href="">Global Events Manager</a>, you’ll be in charge of executing flawless events around the globe. And the best part? You’ll need to be on-site for all those big-time international events you’re organizing.</p><h2>Senior UX Developer, Buzz Brothers</h2><p>This creative agency in <a href="">Geneva, Switzerland</a> works with brands like Uber, Nestlé, and Honda. The fast-growing agency is a family of 80+ people from more than 10 countries, and they’re looking to add a <a href="">Senior UX Developer</a> to the Swiss-based team.</p><h2>Area Manager, Dufry, LVMH Fragrance Brands</h2><p>You’ll be based in Miami for <a href="">this gig</a>, but you can expect heavy international travel — specifically around the Americas (<a href="">hello, Brazil!</a>). In this role, you’ll be responsible for the development of Givenchy and Kenzo in the Americas — from marketing to merchandising.</p><h2>CPG Manger, Blue Bottle Coffee</h2><p>If you have a deep love for coffee and food — and happen to be fluent in Japanese, it doesn’t get much better than this <a href="">Tokyo-based job</a>. As the manager for the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) team, you’ll distill the Blue Bottle Coffee experience into portable forms — their New Orleans Iced Coffee and Cold Brew Black Coffee are already hits.</p><h2>Account Executive, Mogul</h2><p>If you’ve got sales know-how, why not put it to work for good — and enjoy a flexible work environment while you’re at it. In this <a href="">remote position</a>, you’ll work with a globally distributed workforce to build and grow a female talent ecosystem that supports women from all around the world.</p><h2>International Recruiter, TransPerfect</h2><p>TransPerfect has offices all over the world, but for <a href="">this position</a> you’ll be based in <a href="">Athens, Greece</a>. The giant, global company is looking for a recruiter to provide global recruitment support — and we have a feeling visiting some of the company’s worldwide offices could be arranged.</p><h2>Vice President of Product Development, LOUD Audio, LLC</h2><p>Both U.S. and international travel is required for this <a href="">Seattle-based job</a>. And when you’re not globetrotting, you’ll be leading the product development team in coming up with new products based on customer needs, then keeping those projects on time and on budget.</p><h2>International Business Development, House of Sillage</h2><p>This job is based in beautiful Newport Beach, California, but applicants should be ready to hop on a plane at a moment’s notice. In this <a href="">international-travel-heavy job</a>, you’ll be working for a luxury brand with a strong international following. One major requirement: “must be able to fly international with no restrictions.” It already sounds promising.</p><h2>Events &amp; Communications Manager, IDEMIA</h2><p>You’ll be based in Paris(!) for this large-scale <a href="">event management role</a>. Your job is to plan, manage, and execute the twice-a-year global user conference. The three-day gathering brings together around 400 attendees for conferences, technical demonstrations, and training — and your job is to make it happen, and happen smoothly.</p><h2>Director of International Sales - European Market, WAC Lighting</h2><p>At this <a href="">global sales job</a> you’ll be traveling for work around 75 percent of the time — and the other 25 percent of the time, you can be based anywhere you want. If you have several years of international sales management and a strong knowledge of European and South American markets, this may be the job for you.</p><h2>Client Advisor, Gucci</h2><p>If you’ve ever dreamed of riding the tube to work or spending your Saturday picnicing in Hyde Park, now’s your chance. <a href="">Gucci is hiring</a> a “Gucci ambassador" to increase brand loyalty while spreading its philosophy and the culture.</p><h2>Department Manager - Men, Fendi</h2><p>What’s more fun than working for Fendi? How about working for Fendi in Barcelona? In <a href="">this position</a> you’ll be managing a sales team, merchandising, and working with clients at the brand’s Barcelona store. And when you’re not on the clock, you can spend the day exploring the city — from sunny beaches to Antoni Gaudí’s <a href="">fascinating architecture</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Sleek Tech Folio Has a Pocket for Everything

Travel and Leisure - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 10:30
<p>Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, chances are, you're carrying quite a bit of tech with you. From the basics, like your smartphone, laptop, and <a href="">headphones</a>, to other devices, such as e-readers and <a href="">portable chargers</a>, it's easy to get overwhelmed with everything you need to fit in your carry-on. The solution? A sleek, all-in-one tech folio. These zippered cases come with all kinds of pockets and compartments, and are specifically <a href="">designed to keep you organized</a>, no matter what kind of devices you're travling with.</p><p>The <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Knomo London Mayfair Knomad Zip Portfolio</a> is both a functional and stylish option that will make traveling with tech much easier. Forget digging through your bag to find your laptop charger or earbuds — this organizer keeps everything in one place. <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Knomo London</a> is known for its travel bags, including <a href="">backpacks</a> and totes, but the brand's accessories are not to be overlooked. </p><p><strong>Related: </strong>More <a href="">travel accessories</a></p><img alt="Black Rectangular Tech Folio "src=""><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank"></a>, $79</p><p>The portfolio features a large sleeve that can accommodate a tablet or e-reader, as well as multiple slip pockets that can fit a phone, portable charger, and other small devices. Three card slots and a pen holder will keep essentials at the ready, while a zippered pocket will keep valuables secure. There are also four elastic loops that are perfect for keeping headphones, cables, and cords tangle-free. </p><img alt="Interior of Tech Folio "src=""><p>So no matter what type of traveling you'll be doing, there's no doubt a tech folio will be the helpful accessory that will make all the difference when it comes to staying organized. </p><p><em>Love a great deal? <a href=";fm=340&amp;regsource=25567">Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter</a> and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week. </em></p>
Categories: Travel