I’m a Professional Traveler and This All-Inclusive in Punta Cana Is the Most Relaxing Vacation I’ve Ever Taken

Learn how a resort in the Dominican Republic got one travel writer to truly disconnect and relax.

Courtesy of Alison Fox

Courtesy of Alison Fox

I’m not good at relaxing.

In fact, I never have been. That’s why I couldn’t quite believe where the time had gone when I left the spa at the Finest Punta Cana. I was so relaxed, I had spent more than three hours without even realizing it.

That’s the resort’s goal, of course, to lull you into a state of complete bliss — with hydrotherapy rituals, aromatherapy massages, and indulgence at every turn. But rarely does it actually work for me.

The all-inclusive resort opened in late 2021 as one of the newest properties in The Excellence Collection, welcoming both families and adults to the shores of the Dominican Republic. The hotel practically functions as three properties in one with both kid-friendly areas (including an impressive kids’ club complete with a mini water park) and adults-only pools and restaurants.

It was my first-ever stay at an all-inclusive hotel, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But within moments of arriving, I was snacking on complimentary Oreos from the minibar, looking out at the pool and the ocean beyond, and deciding which restaurant to try first.

Courtesy of Alison Fox

Courtesy of Alison Fox

I was staying in the hotel’s adults-only side, the Excellence Club, which included its own check-in area, exclusive club-only restaurants, and a pool that tended to be quieter than the kid-friendly one on the other side.

On my first day there, I walked the length of the property in the way you’d explore a city if you had too little time. I checked out each pool, each food truck, and each beach palapa. I mapped out a plan in my head. By the second day, I had

Read the rest
Read more

How Being Single Changed What Travel Meant to Me

Breakup travel is the new breakup haircut — here’s what I mean.

<p>Eliza Dumais</p>

For years, I stole teaspoons from restaurants. They were, for me, souvenirs of perfect meals — proof that I’d tasted things, that I’d loved them. Sometimes, I’d pocket them before dessert had even arrived, as if the storing of the memory were more critical than the real-time event as it unspooled. Technically, it’s a form of petty theft — but nobody says as much if you call it collecting.

On the whole, it would seem that we’re most enamored of “collecting” on two precise occasions: when in transit and when in love. In foreign cities, we amass train tickets, matchbooks, beaded things, paper maps, proof that we ate there, swam there, breathed that air. Falling in love, then, we play at tourism of a different kind, new thresholds of sensation, new modes of translation. We save handwritten notes, birthday gifts, wine corks, photographs. Artifacts that, like souvenirs, grow heavier when they refer to something in the past tense.

<p>Eliza Dumais</p>

The Museum of Broken Relationships was founded in 2010, home to countless “souvenirs” of — you guessed it — broken relationships. While the original concept still stands in Croatia, outpost exhibitions have cropped up across the globe, lending limited-time shelter to assorted relics of local heartbreak: well-worn T-shirts, cracked ceramics, hand-written Post-it notes, pregnancy tests — each submitted with a testimonial outlining its significance. Each insisting that, yes, we were here, we were real, we happened, look at this thing, see for yourself.

I visited the exhibition — a satellite installation in Mexico City — three weeks into the first long-term trip I’d ever undertaken without a partner. Or, at least, without a partner awaiting me at home, phoning me at the airport to ensure I’d landed

Read the rest
Read more

How to Plan the Perfect Adventure to Rwanda, According to a Travel Expert

A travel expert shares how to plan an adventure to Rwanda — including the best lodges to book to see gorillas, giraffes, and chimpanzees.

<p>guenterguni/Getty Images</p>

For many intrepid travelers, Rwanda is at the top of the list. Many visitors want to embark on gorilla trekking — in fact, one third of the planet’s 1,000 remaining mountain gorillas live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Seeing these endangered animals is a deeply moving experience, and a safari unlike any other. Elsewhere in the country, you also can track chimpanzees in Africa’s oldest rainforest, Nyungwe Forest National Park, or spot the Big Five in Akagera National Park.

In less than 30 years since its genocide, Rwanda is a now prosperous, safe, well-functioning democracy where people of all ethnicities are welcomed and celebrated. Today Rwanda also firmly stands on the global platform of experiential luxury travel. It is one of Africa’s great safari destinations, but also one of its most inspiring conservation success stories.

<p>Marc Guitard/Getty Images</p>

Marc Guitard/Getty Images

For those in the know, Rwanda is simply one of the best destinations for luxury honeymoons, family trips, or friends finally taking that big bucket list trip. As the CEO of The Legacy Untold, a luxury travel agency, and a member of T+L’s Travel Advisory Board, I’ve helped many clients embark on unforgettable trips to this stunning, surprising country. Here’s how I suggest planning your Rwanda adventure.

Start in Kigali

I always suggest clients spend a few days in the thriving capital of Kigali. Visit the vibrant Kimironko Market where everything local is on offer from artisan textiles to live chickens. My recent highlight was immersing myself with local designers now showing on the runways of Milan, and having some bespoke pieces made to order.

<p>Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Getty Images</p>

Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Getty Images

You can also visit with

Read the rest
Read more

The Best Time to Book a Hotel to Save Money

The early bird doesn’t always get the worm.

<p>Flashpop/Getty Images</p>

Accommodations are one of the biggest travel expenses out there, sometimes ending up even more costly than transportation. So it’s never a bad idea to maximize your savings when booking a hotel. One way to do that is to book at the right moment. Hotel prices are dynamic, fluctuating based on supply and demand — that means the price you see when you’re searching for hotels one day might change the very next, even if the dates of your stay remain the same. So, when is the best time to book a hotel? Read on to find out.

Related: The Best Time to Book a Flight for Domestic, International, and Summer Travel

<p>Frank Rothe/Getty Images</p>

When to Book a Hotel to Save Money

Figuring out the best time to book a hotel isn’t an exact science — there’s plenty of variation throughout the industry. But if we’re looking at statistics, the lowest prices for hotel rooms are typically found just 15 days before your stay. Yes, last-minute bookings are (usually) better. A 2022 NerdWallet study analyzed more than 2,500 hotel room rates from 2019 through the first half of 2021 and found an average of 13 percent savings for those who booked 15 days in advance as compared to those who booked four months in advance.

Keep in mind this is just an average and doesn’t take into account busy travel periods, such as the holidays, when you should definitely book in advance. And according to data from the travel app Hopper, the 15-day benchmark is a good one for big business cities, such as New York and Chicago, but it’s not as accurate for vacation destinations like the Caribbean or Hawaii. In those destinations, Hopper notes that hotel rates are usually lowest about

Read the rest
Read more

7 Best Places in the U.S. to Buy a Ski Vacation Home

Love to ski? These seven towns will allow you to stay close to your favorite mountain.

Everyone is heading to the mountains. And we mean that literally. 

According to the National Ski Areas Association, ski resorts reported 61 million total visits in the 2021-22 season, noting, “This record visitation signals that the U.S. ski industry is healthy, and that the demand for outdoor recreation remains strong.”

<p>Cavan Images/Getty Images</p>

Cavan Images/Getty Images

But what if you go to the mountains and never want to leave? Or, at the very least, what if you want to have a place to call your own when you visit your favorite snowy spot? Here are seven of the best U.S. towns to buy a ski vacation home.

Newry, Maine

<p>Portland Press Herald/Getty Images</p>

Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

In 2021, Vacasa named Newry the number one place to buy a winter vacation home, thanks to its cap rate, or its return on investment. The website explained, “Though the northeastern part of the country may not come to mind as the best place to hit the slopes, the powder at the Sunday River Resort helps boost the town’s 12.3% cap rate.” We’ll ignore the dig at northeast skiing, but we can still agree that Sunday River is certainly worth exploring. Home to nearly 900 acres of skiable terrain, with a mix of beginner, intermediate, and expert runs, this is a spot skiers and riders of all abilities will love.

Lake Tahoe, California

<p>jimveilleux/Getty Images</p>

Searching for variety? Look no further than Lake Tahoe, home to more than a dozen ski resorts, including Heavenly, with its 4,800 skiable acres, and Palisades Tahoe, which has six mountain peaks to explore. The area is split between North Lake and South Lake, but you can’t go wrong with either. (However, it’s worth noting North Lake Tahoe is

Read the rest
Read more

9 Over-the-top Adventure Trips in the World’s Most Untamed Environments

These days, travelers are seeking renewal in out-there destinations. Here’s a closer look at the newest encounters designed to rekindle your sense of awe.

Courtesy of Origen Escapes Costa Rica–based Origen Escapes connects guests with tapir researchers.

Courtesy of Origen Escapes Costa Rica–based Origen Escapes connects guests with tapir researchers.

“People are returning to travel with a very strong desire to reconnect with nature,” says John Spence, president of the luxury tour operator Scott Dunn USA. Last year, the agency saw requests for off-the-grid adventures jump 22 percent compared with 2019.

Not that the change in mindset comes as a huge surprise after the past two years or so, according to Tamsyn Fricker, a safari specialist on T+L’s A-List of travel advisors. “The pandemic has prompted a shift toward journeys that favor restoration, recharging, reconnecting,” she says. “Things like hiking, farm stays, bush walks, and marine safaris — being in nature and active.” While Africa is fertile ground for these experiences, other destinations around the world can wow visitors, too.

“Whether you’re meeting majestic whale sharks on Mexico’s Espíritu Santo Island or hiking Antarctica’s massive ice sheets,” Spence says, “nature offers the greatest show on earth.”

Courtesy of Origen Escapes A red-eyed tree frog spotted on a rain-forest trek with Origen.

Courtesy of Origen Escapes A red-eyed tree frog spotted on a rain-forest trek with Origen.

Soar Over Glaciers

Adventure-travel company Quark Expeditions will launch a series of trips to Greenland this summer aboard a new polar vessel, Ultramarine. The 199-passenger ship is loaded with two twin-engine helicopters and 20 Zodiacs, plus all the gear needed for forays onto the ice sheet. Excursions include hiking, camping, paddling, and biking along the country’s fjord-lined southern coast.

Seek Out Tapirs

Once widespread across Central and South America, this smaller relative of the rhino is now endangered, with only an estimated 4,500 of the endearing creatures left in the wild. Costa Rican outfitter Origen Escapes has teamed up

Read the rest
Read more

Yelp Just Made It Easier to Support Veteran-owned Businesses When You Travel

And the company is giving 10 veteran-owned small businesses a $10,000 grant.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Yelp is making it easier to support our nation’s veterans year-round. Late last month, the reviews site debuted a new function, allowing businesses to self-identify as veteran-owned.

Launched on Oct. 25, users will see the tag on any business that has marked itself as “veteran owned” or “veteran owned and operated,” alongside a graphic of a star medal. On the Yelp iOS and Android apps, it will appear under the “more info” section of a business’ page, while it will show under “amenities and more” on the web browser version. The search function can also be used to search “veteran owned business” as one of the categories.

<p>Courtesy of Yelp</p>

“As many consumers look to support businesses that align with their values, adopting more distinguishing and inclusive attributes has never been more important,” the company’s chief diversity officer Miriam Warren said in a blog post. “In fact, we’ve seen the rate of searches on Yelp for veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. increase by 101% in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same period the year prior.”

In addition to the new label, Yelp has also launched Veteran Business Fund, which will award 10 veteran-owned small businesses with $10,000 each. They also now have a Veteran-owned Business Resource Hub to guide them through how to take advantage of all the features.

To celebrate the launch, Air Force service member and The Bachelor alum Mike Johnson teamed up with Yelp on the efforts, starting with an Instagram post. He’ll also be highlighting veteran-owned businesses his home state of Texas, like the Black veteran–owned coffee house Lazydaze.

“Yelp’s mission is to connect people with great local businesses, and we have continually

Read the rest
Read more